Showing posts with label CST. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CST. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

World Premiere Musical Production The Notebook Opens at Chicago Shakespeare Theater September 22, 2020

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Chicago Shakespeare Theater 
to Stage World Premiere Musical Production
The Notebook
beginning September 22, 2020
Music and lyrics by Ingrid Michaelson
Book by Bekah Brunstetter
Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks
Directed by Michael Greif

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces that it will stage the World Premiere musical The Notebook, based on the classic best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks that inspired the hugely popular film. The highly anticipated musical adaptation features music and lyrics by multi-Platinum singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson with book by playwright Bekah Brunstetter—best known as a writer and producer on NBC’s hit series This Is Us. Staged by celebrated Broadway director Michael Greif (Dear Evan Hansen, Next to Normal, Grey Gardens, RENT), The Notebook will premiere September 22–November 8, 2020 in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater has established itself as a key partner in the development of new plays and musicals. The Notebook comes on the heels of the Theater’s wildly successful North American premiere of the new musical SIX, which enjoyed a record-breaking extended run at Chicago Shakespeare in Summer 2019—and begins performances on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on February 13, 2020.

Chicago Shakespeare Creative Producer Rick Boynton shared, “We are excited to partner with Ingrid, Bekah, and Michael to develop and premiere this moving and universal story. Chicago Shakespeare has a long history of collaborating with the world’s great artists and we look forward to working with this stellar team as we bring this breathtaking musical to life on our stage.”

A deeply moving portrait of the enduring power of love, The Notebook chronicles the decades-long love story between a mill worker named Noah and a privileged debutante named Allie. Beginning with a whirlwind summer romance in North Carolina in the 1940s, their love affair spans an entire lifetime—in spite of the differences that threaten to pull them apart. The World Premiere production will feature a diverse, multi-generational cast, reflecting the timeless and universal nature of the story. Casting is underway and will be announced at a later date.

Known for her distinctively soulful folk-pop style that explores universal themes like self-doubt, betrayal and love, singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson is a force in the music industry, with four Top 20 albums and two Platinum singles: “The Way I Am” and “Girls Chase Boys." Michaelson’s nine studio albums have been released on her own independent label Cabin 24 Records and her original songs have soundtracked important moments in hundreds of television series and feature films. Michaelson made her Broadway debut as Sonya in Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 in 2017.

On The Notebook, Michaelson shared, “I have loved the movie and the story for so many years now that the idea of turning it into a musical overwhelmed me. The concept of unending devotion and love wrapped up in memory and family is something very close to my own personal life. The story sings to me so perfectly. I cannot wait to see our beautiful story truly come to life in one of my favorite cities.”

Michaelson joins forces with bookwriter Bekah Brunstetter, a supervising producer and writer on NBC’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning series This Is Us. An accomplished playwright, Brunstetter’s plays have been produced at major regional theaters including South Coast Repertory, Atlantic Theater Company, and The Old Globe. Her most recent work, The Cake, debuted off-Broadway at the at Manhattan Theatre Club in March 2019 to rave reviews.

Brunstetter noted, “This project has my entire heart. I'm extremely excited to keep exploring it with Ingrid and Michael, and to get to do so in Chicago is a playwright's dream. Some of my most favorite productions of my plays have been the Chicago incarnations, so I feel incredibly lucky that we get our first stab at the show in such a smart theater town.”

The World Premiere production of The Notebook is directed by Broadway’s Michael Greif. A four-time Tony Award-nominee, Greif’s Broadway credits include Dear Evan Hansen, Next to Normal, and Grey Gardens—as well as the landmark 1996 original production of RENT, among others. The multi-Obie Award-winner has staged a host of Off-Broadway productions at Second Stage, Signature Theatre, and The Public Theater, and directed FOX’s Rent: Live telecast.

Greif said, “Bekah and Ingrid have written a smart, passionate, timely musical adaptation of a great love story. I’m excited to return to Chicago to premiere it in a great theater town with smart, passionate, and very discerning audiences.”

Tickets to The Notebook will go on sale this winter. To be the first to hear updates on the World Premiere musical, sign up at and follow the production on social media at #TheNotebookChicago and via @chicagoshakes.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be—a company that defies theatrical category. This Regional Tony Award-winning theater’s year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances—including plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. Chicago Shakespeare is the city’s leading presenter of international work, and has toured its own productions across five continents. The Theater’s nationally acclaimed arts in literacy programs support the work of teachers, and bring Shakespeare to life on stage for tens of thousands of students annually. Each summer, the company tours a free professional production to neighborhood parks across Chicago. In 2017 the Theater unveiled The Yard, which, together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs, positions Chicago Shakespeare as Chicago’s most versatile performing arts center.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

OPENING: RED VELVET at Chicago Shakespeare Theater 12/1/17-1/21/18

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Ira Aldridge (Dion Johnstone) made history as the first black actor to play Othello on the London stage in 1833, explored in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Red Velvet, directed by Gary Griffin, in CST’s Courtyard Theater, December 1, 2017–January 21, 2018. 

Extraordinary life of trailblazing African-American actor
whose Othello shocked nineteenth-century London

award-winning drama staged by Gary Griffin
featuring celebrated Stratford Festival actor Dion Johnstone
begins performances December 1

We can't wait to catch Chicago Shakespeare Theater's next production, the stirring historical drama Red Velvet, staged by Broadway and Chicago director Gary Griffin and starring celebrated Shakespearean actor Dion Johnstone! It's tough to be the first in any field, and we're eager to see the inspirational story of Ira Aldridge come to life on stage. 

Presented in CST’s Courtyard Theater December 1, 2017–January 21, 2018, the award-winning play by Lolita Chakrabarti shines new light on the seldom-told, true story of Ira Aldridge.

In 1833 at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his age, collapses on stage while performing the lead in Othello. He is replaced by a young, black American actor, Ira Aldridge—a first for the role on London's West End, sending shockwaves through the streets as a bill promoting the abolition of slavery is debated in Parliament. After breaking barriers on the London stage, Aldridge went on to forge a remarkable decades-long career performing across Europe—garnering acclaim in roles like Shylock, Macbeth, and King Lear.

Photo by Liz Lauren.

In what is sure to be a career highlight, Dion Johnstone takes on the role of theatrical trailblazer Ira Aldridge across the span of his storied career. Johnstone is celebrated for his portrayals of some of the most demanding roles in Shakespeare’s canon: he has appeared in nine seasons at Canada’s Stratford Festival, and recently made his off-Broadway debut in the title role of Coriolanus. He returns to Chicago Shakespeare after appearing as Marc Antony in Julius Caesar, and Helicanus in Pericles. Now, after having performed the role of Othello twice, Johnstone explores the pivotal figure who made history by taking on the role.

On portraying Aldridge, Johnstone shared, “Ira Aldridge used his platform on the stage to convince European audiences that people of color had souls and intellects as wise and as deep as theirs. His struggle resonates powerfully today—and yet he’s a part of American and European history that has almost been forgotten. It’s a privilege to be able to bring Ira’s voice to life, and I hope this production helps elevate him to the status he deserves.”

Award-winning director of Broadway and Chicago stages Gary Griffin returns to Chicago Shakespeare, where he stages his twenty-fourth production. Griffin’s work has been seen on Broadway in Honeymoon in Vegas, The Color Purple and The Apple Tree. The ten-time Jeff Award winner’s CST directing credits feature a diverse body of work spanning musicals (Gypsy, Road Show, Follies); Shakespeare plays (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It); and classics (Private Lives, Amadeus). His landmark production of Pacific Overtures at Chicago Shakespeare went on to the Donmar Warehouse in London, where it garnered the Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production and a nomination for Best Director.

A leading lady of Chicago theater, Chaon Cross portrays the legendary stage actress Ellen Tree, who appears as the ill-fated Desdemona opposite Aldridge’s Othello. Cross makes her highly anticipated return to Chicago Shakespeare, where she has memorably appeared as Celia in As You Like It, Sybil in Private Lives, Imogen in Cymbeline and Cressida in Troilus and Cressida. Michael Hayden depicts Charles Kean, an aspiring actor in the shadows of his famous father, Edmund Kean. Hayden notably garnered Olivier and Drama Desk nominations for his portrayal of Billy Bigelow in the Royal National Theatre/Lincoln Center Theatre production of Carousel, and gained acclaim for performing the title roles of Henry V and Richard II in repertory for DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Greg Matthew Anderson appears as Pierre LaPorte, the entrepreneurial theater manager who propels Aldridge into the role. The Red Velvet company includes Jürgen Hooper (Casimir/Henry), Tiffany Renee Johnson (Connie), Roderick Peeples (Bernard Ward/Terence), Annie Purcell (Margaret/Halina), and Bri Sudia (Betty).

Collaborators on the Red Velvet creative team are Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Costume Designer Mara Blumenfeld, Lighting Designer Christine Binder, and Sound Designer Chris Kriz. Davis has designed over 25 Chicago Shakespeare productions, including most recently Shakespeare in Love, The Book of Joseph and the Tug of War saga. A four-time Jeff Award winner, Blumenfeld is a frequent collaborator with Griffin, having previously designed King Charles III, Sunday in the Park with George and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at CST. Binder’s designs have graced opera and theatre stages internationally. Kriz has been honored with three Jeff Awards for his Sound Design and original compositions. Award-winning composer and lyricist Jenny Giering creates new music score for the production. Joining Gary Griffin on the directing team is Associate Director Tyrone Phillips, who was named to the Chicago Tribune’s “Hot New Faces of Theater” in 2015. Rounding out the creative team are Dialect Coach Eva Breneman and Fight Choreographer David Woolley.

For more information, visit

Red Velvet will be presented in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater, December 1, 2017–January 21, 2018. Single tickets are on sale now for $48–$88 (subject to change). Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets for patrons under 35. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

CST strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Red Velvet will have Open-captioned performances on Thursday, December 21 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; an ASL Duo-interpreted performance on Friday, January 12 at 7:30 p.m.; and an Audio-described performance on Sunday, January 14 at 2:00 p.m. (with optional touch tour at 12:00 p.m.).

A global theatrical force, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for storytelling, musicality of language, and empathy for the human condition. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be, putting forward a company that delights in the unexpected and defies theatrical category. A Regional Tony Award-winning theater, CST produces acclaimed plays at its home on Navy Pier, throughout Chicago’s schools and neighborhoods, and on stages around the world. In 2017, the Theater unveiled a radical new stage, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, The Yard positions CST as the city’s most versatile performing arts venue.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

HELP OUT: Inaugural Family Gala on July 12 Seussapalooza at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Producers’ Guild hosts
Inaugural Family Gala on July 12
Benefitting Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks
Chicago—June 26, 2014—Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s (CST) 

Come ChiIL out with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and ChiIL Mama. We can't wait to experience both Seussical AND Seussapalooza this Saturday! And all this fun will funD another true treasure, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks. Break out your funkiest Dr. Seuss attire and help out. You can say you were there at the FIRST CST Family Gala EVER. Tickets start at a reasonable $45 and the event is family friendly, with stage combat demos, crafts, hands on activities, and more!

CST’s inaugural Family GalaSeussapalooza on July 12, 2014, 11:00 a.m. at the Theater’s home on Navy Pier. This family-friendly event invites guests to enjoy the summer musical production of Seussical in CST’s Courtyard Theater, followed by a lively reception with hands-on activities and crafts for all ages. In keeping with the Producers’ Guild’s mission to support access to Shakespeare for all, funds raised will benefit the celebrated Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program, which brings a free Shakespearean production to neighborhood parks across Chicago in the summer. 

Click here for Shakespeare in the Parks 2014 dates/locations and ChiIL Mama's photo filled review of the show.

Seussapalooza guests will first be treated to a performance of Seussical in CST’s magnificent Courtyard Theater. This 75-minute Broadway musical comedy brings the humor and magic of Dr. Seuss to life onstage. Playful, energetic and full of whimsy, Seussical engages the imagination with clever lyrics and melodies, unforgettable characters and the vibrant rainbow of Dr. Seuss’s colorful world.

The Cat in the Hat (Alex Goodrich) shows JoJo (Emily Chang) that, through the power of her imagination, anything can happen in the song “It’s Possible” in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Seussical, directed by Scott Weinstein, in CST’s Courtyard Theater now through August 17, 2014. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Following the performance, attendees will proceed to a whimsical reception taking place throughout the Theater’s 6th floor lobbies and performance spaces, featuring a delicious luncheon, vivid décor and soaring views of the city’s skyline. Hands-on activities for children of all ages will include stage combat demonstrations by professional fight choreographers, a photo booth with theatrical props and artful face painting, as well as crafts and other games. A silent auction with exclusive family fun packages will further support Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks.

Proceeds from Seussapalooza will fully fund a designated park on this summer’s Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour of the wildly popular A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will travel to 18 neighborhood parks across the city, July 18–August 17, 2014. Since its inception in July 2012, this annual summer tradition has touched over 27,000 audience members on the north, south and west sides of the city. At each stop on the citywide tour, families and neighbors come together to share in the delight of a professional Shakespearean production.

CST’s Producers’ Guild, led by Rachel Bronson and Justine Jentes, is a dynamic auxiliary board for emerging leadership in Chicago’s cultural community that advocates and supports CST’s work on the Theater’s stages, in the community and abroad. The Family Gala is co-chaired by Karen and Tuey Connell and Robin and Timothy Sheehan.

Seussapalooza Lead Sponsors include Beecken Petty O’Keefe & Company, Biagio Events, the Butler Family Foundation and Make It Better Magazine.

Tickets for the Seussapalooza event begin at $45. To join Chicago Shakespeare Theater in celebration of Seussapalooza, please contact Margaret Reeder at 312.667.4951 or

A musical adventure through the world of Dr. Seuss


Directed by Scott Weinstein

Chicago Shakespeare Theater brings the humor and magic of Dr. Seuss to life onstage this summer for young audiences and their families in the Broadway musical comedy Seussical. Playful, energetic and full of whimsy, this 75-minute musical adventure engages the imagination with clever lyrics and melodies, unforgettable characters and the colorful world of Dr. Seuss. Every performance features special opportunities for audiences to interact with the actors for one-on-one conversations and photos. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, CST partners with the Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) to offer hands-on craft activities in CST’s Lobby. Seussical is being presented in CST’s Courtyard Theater now through August 17, 2014.

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