Showing posts with label Gary Griffin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gary Griffin. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

OPENING: Indecent Launches 44th Season at Victory Gardens Through November 4, 2018

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

 Victory Gardens Theater begins its 44th Season with 
By Paula Vogel
Directed by Gary Griffin

September 21 – November 4, 2018

Victory Gardens Theater begins its 44th season with the 2017 Tony Award-nominated play Indecent, written by Paula Vogel and directed by Gary Griffin. Indecent runs September 21 – November 4, 2018, with the press performance on Friday, September 28, 2018 at 7:30pm at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive) tells the deeply moving story of the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Jewish playwright Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance — a play about a forbidden lesbian romance that enchanted and outraged audiences. Inspired by true events, Indecent is performed by a small ensemble of actors and musicians portraying more than 40 roles to chart an explosive moment in theatrical history and the artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it. Award-winner Gary Griffin (Hand To God, Fun Home) returns to Victory Gardens to direct this 2017 Tony Award-nominated play.

“We are excited to bring Paula Vogel's powerful play to Chicago," notes Artistic Director Chay Yew. "Soaring with music and set about a hundred years ago when immigration and sexuality were topics of national dissent, Indecent’s piercing relevance still speaks directly to today's America. Paula has created a transcendent and intimate epic that lives and breathes joy; its poetic core is a celebration of the legacy of Yiddish theater and the power of art. It is an honor to give Indecent a home at Victory Gardens.”

Indecent features David Darlow (The Elder: Otto), Matt Deitchman (Accordion, Multi-instrumentalist), Elleon Dobias (Violin), Cindy Gold (The Elder: Vera), Noah LaPook (The Ingenue: Avram), Catherine LeFrere (The Middle: Halena), Benjamin Magnuson (The Stage Manager: Lemml), Kiah Stern (The Ingenue: Chana) and Andrew White (The Middle: Mendel).

The creative team includes Jeffrey D. Kmiec (scenic design), Mara Blumenfeld (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design), Chris LaPorte (sound design), Stephen Mazurek (projection design), Eleanor Kahn (properties), Kristina Fluty (intimacy coach), Alvin Goldfarb (Yiddish coach) and Katie Klemme (stage manager). 

About the Artists
PAULA VOGEL (Playwright) has written How I Learned to Drive (Pulitzer Prize, New York Drama Critics Award, Obie Award, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and many more.) Other plays include A Civil War Christmas, The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Mineola Twins, Hot ‘n’ Throbbin, The Baltimore Waltz, Desdemona, And Baby Makes Seven and The Oldest Profession.

Her plays have been produced by Second Stage, New York Theatre Workshop, the Vineyard Theatre, Roundabout, and Circle Repertory Company. Her plays have been produced regionally all over the country at the Center Stage, Intiman, Trinity Repertory, Woolly Mammoth, Huntington Theatre, Magic Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theatre Berkeley Repertory, and Alley Theatres to name a few. Harrogate Theatre and the Donmar Theatre have produced her work in England.

Her plays have been produced in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand as well as translated and produced in Italy, Germany, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, Romania, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland Slovenia, Canada, Portugal, France, Greece, Japanese, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Brazil and other countries. John Simon once remarked that Paula Vogel had more awards than a “black sofa collects lint.” Some of these include Induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame, Thornton Wilder Award, Lifetime Achievement from the Dramatists Guild, the William Inge Award, the Elliott Norton Award, two Obies, a Susan Smith Blackburn Award, the PEN/Laura Pels Award, a TCG residency award, a Guggenheim, a Pew Charitable Trust Award, and fellowships and residencies at Sundance Theatre Lab, Hedgebrook, The Rockefeller Center’s Bellagio Center, Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Bunting. But she is particularly proud of her Thirtini Award from 13P and honored by three Awards in her name: the Paula Vogel Award for playwrights given by the Vineyard Theatre, the Paula Vogel Award from the American College Theatre Festival, and the Paula Vogel mentorship program, curated by Quiara Hudes and Young Playwrights of Philadelphia.

GARY GRIFFIN (Director) Victory Gardens Theater: Fun Home, Hand to God, Never the Sinner, Appropriate. London: Pacific Overtures (Donmar Warehouse, Olivier Award, Best Musical Production and Olivier Nominee, Best Director). Broadway: Honeymoon in Vegas, The Color Purple. Off-Broadway: Saved (Playwrights Horizons); The Apple Tree, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Pardon My English, The New Moon (Encores). Regional: Antony and Cleopatra, Camelot, West Side Story (Stratford Festival); work at McCarter, Alliance, Hartford Stage, Signature, Kansas City Rep., The Muny. Chicago: Road Show, Gypsy, Sunday in the Park With George, Follies, Amadeus, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); The Merry Widow, The Mikado, Oklahoma (Lyric Opera of Chicago); The Detective’s Wife, Loot (Writers Theatre). Associate Artistic Director, Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 10 Joseph Jefferson Awards for Directing.

DAVID DARLOW (The Elder: Otto) Among Friends (Victory Gardens).  Chicago: Le Puff, Pygmalion, Heroes, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Best Man, Major Barbara (After Dark Award), A Delicate Balance, Power and Hapgood (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company); Endgame (American Theater Company, Jeff Award); Tug of War, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, Timon of Athens and Othello (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Regional: Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., South Coast Repertory, Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Barter Theatre and Syracuse Stage. Film & TV: “The Fugitive”, “Road to Perdition”, “Hoodlum”, “Let’s Go to Prison”, and “High Fidelity”; “Empire”, “Chicago Fire”, “Barney Miller” “Barnaby Jones”, “Prison Break”.

MATT DEITCHMAN (Music Director/Musician) Victory Gardens debut. Chicago: Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Tug Of War, Road Show, Peter Pan, Madagascar, Seussical, Shrek (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), TREVOR the Musical, Parade, The Hunter & The Bear (Writers Theatre), Sweeney Todd, The Who's Tommy (Paramount Theatre), Murder For Two, Ragtime, She Loves Me, Spring Awakening, October Sky (Marriott Theatre), Wonderland (Chicago Children's Theatre), The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes (Mercury Theatre), Adding Machine, Into The Woods (Hypocrites). Regional: Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Theatre Co. - DC), HERO (Asolo Rep. Theatre), Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest (Door Shakespeare). Northwestern University graduate.

ELLEON DOBIAS (Musician/Violin) Victory Gardens debut. Chicago: Haymarket (Underscore), The Vagina Monologues (Pride Arts), The Snow Queen (Clock Productions), Fantastic Mr. Fox (upcoming; Emerald City Theatre). Denver: Pippin (Bobby G Award; Denver Center for the Performing Arts), Fiddler on the Roof (Parker Arts), Next To Normal (Fearless Theatre), Phyllis Diller! Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse (Black Box Studio). Classical training from Colorado Symphony Orchestra’s Dorian Kincaid.

CINDY GOLD (The Elder: Vera) The Glamour House (Victory Gardens) Chicago: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Drury Lane). Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare). My Fair Lady (Lyric Opera). In the Garden (Lookingglass). Measure for Measure (The Goodman). Awake and Sing (Northlight).  Showboat (Lyric Opera & Washington National Opera, Kennedy Center). Lo ve, Loss and What I Wore (Broadway in Chicago). Loving Repeating (Joseph Jefferson Award/Best Actress; About Face Theatre and the MCA)  Regional: Daughter of the Regiment (sharing role with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg; Kennedy Center, DC). The Music Man (Glimmerglass Opera Company, New York and Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman.)  TV: “Empire”, “Chicago Fire”, “Leverage”.  Professor of Acting at Northwestern University (former Head of Acting) and Head of the Acting for Screen Module.

CATHERINE LEFRERE (The Middle: Halena) A Rainy Day in New York, Television & Film: “HAPPY!”, “GIRLS”, “Odd Mom Out”, “Orange Is The New Black”, “Running Wilde.” Off-Broadway: The Judy Holliday Story (Lucille Lortel, Soho Playhouse), Carnival (Theater Row), Unlock’d (The Duke on 42nd St). Regional: 42nd Street (Gateway Playhouse), For Worse (NYSF), Lend Me A Tenor (La Mirada Theater), Dirty Blonde (Triad Stage), The Boys from Syracuse, As You Like It (Shakespeare Theatre Company), How To Succeed in Business..., Gypsy, Boeing Boeing (Flatrock Playhouse), NOIR (New Jersey Repertory), The Blue Room (Queens Theater in The Park), Anything Goes (Wagon Wheel Theater). Northwestern University graduate.

NOAH LAPOOK (The Ingenue/Avram) Victory Gardens/Chicago debut. Northwestern University: As You Like It (Touchstone), The Great Gatsby (Nick), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Edward), and Fair Game (H.H. Holmes). Composer: Ever in the Glades (The Kennedy Center). 

BENJAMIN MAGNUSON (The Stage Manager/Lemml) Victory Gardens debut. Broadway and National Tours: Once, Les Misérables (25th Anniversary), Guys And Dolls (2009), Sweeney Todd (2005). Regional: ACT, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Human Race Theatre Company, Long Wharf, Marriott Lincolnshire, Mercury Theater, Papermill Playhouse, Paramount Theater. Film and Television: The Other Guys, “Chicago Justice”, “30 Rock”.

KIAH STERN (The Ingenue/Chana) Victory Gardens debut. Regional: The Winter’s Tale, (Northwest Classical Theatre Company), Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night. (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival). Theatre: Three Sister’s, Hamlet, Dying City, Hedda Gabler, Lungs. (The Theatre School at DePaul). Film & TV:  The Gift of Gravity, “Grimm”, American Vandal”. The Theatre School at DePaul graduate. 

ANDREW WHITE (The Middle/Mendel) Kids in the Dark (Victory Gardens). MacBeth (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Life Sucks (Lookingglass Theatre), 1984 (Lookingglass Theatre), Of One Blood (Lookingglass Theatre), Treasure Island (Lookingglass Theatre), In the Garden (Lookingglass Theatre), Our Town (Lookingglass Theatre), Arabian Nights (Lookingglass Theatre). Inherit the Wind (Northlight Theatre), The Ordinary Yearning of Miriam Buddwing (Steppenwolf) and Another Time (Steppenwolf). Winesburg, Ohio (Steppenwolf/About Face Theater), All the Rage (Goodman Theatre). Writing: Eastland, 1984, Of One Blood. Connectivity and Engagement Director at Lookingglass Theatre. Northwestern University graduate.

Full Performance Schedule
Previews for Indecent are September 21- 27, 2018. Previews are $29-$54. The Press opening is Friday, September 28, 2018 at 7:30pm. Regular performances run September 29 – November 4, 2018: Tuesday — Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 3pm and 7:30pm; Sunday at 3pm. Regular performances are $15-$60.

Accessible Performance Schedule

ASL Interpreted Performance: Friday, October 5 at 7:30pm

Word for Word (open captioning): Friday, October 5 at 7:30pm, Saturday, October 6 at 3:00pm and Wednesday, October 10 at 2:00pm
Audio Description/Touch Tour: Friday, October 5 at 7:30pm (Touch tour at 6:00pm), Sunday, October 14 at 3:00pm (Touch tour at 1:30pm)

Performances are at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens Box Office, 773.871.3000, email, or visit Ask the Box Office about discounts for students, seniors, and those with access needs. For group discounts, call 872.817.9087.

Public Programs
Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring themes and issues within Victory Gardens’ productions. Connecting our theater to the world beyond the stage and rehearsal room, Public Programs bridge ideas, provoke dialogue, and deepen the relationship between our audiences and our productions. Public Programs are composed of three distinct tracks:

SALON: A post-show performance series bringing local artists, students, and/or organizations into the conversation of the play through their own work. 

PANEL: A post-show conversation with community leaders, playwrights, activists, artists, and educators. These panels use the play's themes to ignite a conversation about our world and the people in it. 

CELEBRATION: Pre- and post-show events celebrating the themes of the play through art, food, and community. 

Staged Reading in the Victory Gardens Rehearsal Room
September 6 | Thursday | 7:30 p.m. 
Before Indecent, there was God of Vengeance. Join us for a free staged reading of the play that started it all, directed by David Chack, Producing Artistic Director of ShPIeL Performing Identity and on faculty at The Theatre School at DePaul University.  

Post-Show Conversation
September 23 | Sunday | 4:30 p.m.
Indecent follows a company of Jewish actors as they perform Sholem Asch’s daring play God of Vengeance. Playwright Paula Vogel wanted to bring these actor’s stories to life in a new play that explores their journey and celebrates the power of theatre. But how did that idea evolve into the Tony Award-nominated play Indecent? Join us as Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel discusses her work and process with dramaturg Skyler Gray.

Post-Show Reception
September 27 | Thursday | 9:00 p.m.
Jewish culture from Eastern Europe (Ashkenazic) is known for its particular appetizing foods such as knishes, kugels, pickles and more. And wouldn’t it be more freilich (joyous) to nosh (eat) with music and short shpiln (plays)? So come - nosh, shpil, and schmooze (enjoyably converse) with us!

Readings of Excerpts, Discussion with Author and Book Signing
October 1 | Monday | 7:00 p.m.

When Tony Kushner's Angels in America hit Broadway in 1993, it won the Pulitzer Prize, swept the Tonys, launched a score of major careers, and changed the way gay lives were represented in popular culture. Now, on the 25th anniversary of that Broadway premiere, Isaac Butler and Dan Kois offer the definitive account of Angels in America in the most fitting way possible: through oral history, the vibrant conversation and debate of actors, directors, producers, crew, and Kushner himself. Join author Dan Kois and hear excerpts from the book read by Chicago actors and writers, many of whom have performed Angels around the country. Book signing to follow. The Book Cellar will provide copies of "The World Only Spins Forward" for purchase night-of.  

Post-Show Conversation
October 6 | Saturday | 4:30 p.m.
Made possible by the support of The David Rockefeller Fund
A recent Claims Conference survey showed that 22% of millennials have never heard of the Holocaust. Even fewer know that the Khmer Rouge killed 21% of the Cambodian population or that 800,000 people were killed in just 100 days in the Rwandan genocide. With so many people still uninformed about such atrocities, how can we use the past to save us from its repetition in the future? And perhaps more importantly, what makes people turn on one another in the first place? Join us for a conversation with scholars and Indecent Consultant Dr. Alvin Goldfarb as they discuss the lasting impact of genocide in our society and how we can work towards a less hateful world.

Post-Show Conversation
October 11 | Thursday | 9:00 p.m.
The Yiddish Theater was one of America’s most vibrant ethnic theaters, from plays about immigrant Jewish life and culture, to Yiddish-language versions of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov, and more. It also produced a treasure trove of actors, producers, designers, playwrights, and filmmakers who made major contributions to American popular entertainment and theater today. This panel will discuss the uniqueness of the Yiddish Theater and its continued reverberations.

Post-Show Conversation
October 16 | Tuesday | 9:00 p.m.
Made possible by the support of The David Rockefeller Fund
Discrimination against queer bodies has plagued society for generations. Indecent shows us some of what this discrimination looked like in 1924 New York, but how has it evolved since then? Join us for a conversation with LGBTQ community leaders and the Center on Halsted to talk about how queer communities have changed, the challenges that queer people face still, and how queerness functions in America today.

Post-Show Conversation 
October 24 | Wednesday | 9:00 p.m.
Made possible by the support of The David Rockefeller Fund
Today, so many volatile political conversations center around immigration. But what does it take to actually thrive in this country? The actors in God of Vengeance came to America seeking artistic success, but were faced with anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia, and censorship. How do artists make their way in America in 2018? How do you create art that speaks truth to our time? Are censorship, blacklisted, and even jail time worth the risk to create meaningful work? Join us for a conversation with local artists as they discuss how their art allows them to express themselves in an oppressive political climate. 

Post-Show Performance
November 1 | Thursday | 9:30 p.m.
Indecent tells the story of a people steeped in a world of legacy and tradition, all of which they feel to be essential to their identity. In a country profoundly comprised of people from other places, how do we carry on those traditions from our past? Is it a food? A name? A song? As our world evolves, how do we decide what to keep and what to let go of? How do those long-standing traditions inform who we are today? Join us in the lobby after the show as three Chicago poets explore the impact of tradition in their own lives. 

Previews: September 21- 27, 2018
Press opening: Friday, September 28, 2018 at 7:30pm
Regular run: September 29 – November 4, 2018

Schedule: Tuesdays - Fridays: 7:30pm 
Saturdays: 3:00pm; 7:30pm
Sundays: 3:00pm

Performances: Word for Word (open captioning): Friday, October 5 at 7:30pm, Saturday, October 6 at 3:00pm and Wednesday, October 10 at 2:00pm

ASL Interpreted: Friday, October 5 at 7:30pm

Audio Description/Touch Tour: Friday, October 5 at 7:30pm (Touch tour at 6:00pm), Sunday, October 14 at 3:00pm (Touch tour at 1:30pm)

Location: Victory Gardens Theater is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, 
in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood

Tickets: Previews: $29 - $54 
Regular run: $29 - $77
Groups of 10 or more save on tickets
Contact for more information

Box Office: The Box Office is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.

2018/19 Season Sponsors: REAM Foundation, The Harvey L. Miller Supporting Foundation, Bill and Orli Staley Foundation, Helen Zell

Season Sponsor Partners: Conant Family Foundation; George A. Joseph; 
Marcelle McVay and Dennis Zacek; 
Jeffrey Rappin and Penny Brown; Jane M Saks, Nathan Cummings Foundation 

Production Sponsors: Jared Kaplan and Maridee Quanbeck, Merle Reskin

Playwright’s Society 
Sponsors: Sarah Beardsley, Sondra Berman Epstein

Student Matinee and             
Youth Engagement 
Sponsors: Exelon and AllState

Travel Sponsor: Southwest Airlines

Major Season Support: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,  REAM Foundation, Shubert Foundation, Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, Wallace Foundation  

About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Erica Daniels, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals.  Victory Gardens Theater is committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, set forth by Dennis Začek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.

Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theater work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.  

Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Začek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 259-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.

Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwrights include Luis Alfaro, Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Ike Holter, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Tanya Saracho and Laura Schellhardt. Each playwright has a seven-year residency at Victory Gardens Theater. 

Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from Crown Family Philanthropies, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation. 

Major funders also include: Allstate, Alphawood Foundation, Edgerton Foundation, Field Foundation of Illinois, The Illinois Arts Council Agency, David Rockefeller Fund, Time Warner Foundation, Inc. 
Additional funding this season Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Capital Group Private Client Services, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, ComEd, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Golden Country Oriental Foods, John R. Halligan Foundation, ITW, Mayer Brown LLP, The McVay Foundation, Metropolitan Capital Bank and Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, Negaunee Foundation, Roberta Olshansky Charitable Fund, Origin Ventures, Pauls Foundation, PNC Financial Services Group, Prince Charitable Trusts, Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Wrightwood Neighbors Foundation. 

In-kind support is provided by: Dimo’s Pizza, Fiesta Mexicana, Italian Village Restaurants, Southwest Airlines, Roy’s Furniture, Suite Home Chicago, and Whole Foods Market. 

Capital improvement support from the Performing Arts Venue Fund at the League of Chicago Theaters, with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

For more information about Victory Gardens, visit  Follow us on Facebook at, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram at 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

OPENING: Six Corners Via American Blues Theater at Stage 773 Through March 24th

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

American Blues Theater 
announces casting for the World Premiere of
Six Corners
written by Keith Huff
directed by Gary Griffin

Production features Brenda Barrie, Ensemble member Manny Buckley, Grier Burke, Peter DeFaria, Monica Orozco, and Byron Glenn Willis

February 16, 2018 – March 24, 2018

American Blues Theater announces casting for the World Premiere of Six Corners, written by Keith Huff and directed by Gary Griffin. The production features Brenda Barrie, Ensemble member Manny Buckley, Grier Burke, Peter DeFaria, Monica Orozco, and Byron Glenn Willis. Six Corners runs February 16, 2018 – March 24, 2018 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. 

I'll be catching Six Corners February 23rd, so check back soon for my full review. With a script by Emmy Award nominee Keith Huff, this creepy drama sounds intriguing and we're eager to check out American Blues Theater's take on this world premiere. Mysteries are one of my favorite genres and this one was awarded a 2017 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

Penned by Emmy Award nominee Keith Huff (Broadway’s A Steady Rain) and directed by Gary Griffin (Broadway’s The Color Purple): late one night, two burnt-out violent crimes unit detectives try their damnedest to close the puzzling murder of a CTA employee. What should be a simple open-and-shut case, however, evolves into a horrifying mystery and unearths a legacy of violence stretching back years. 

The creative team includes Joe Schermoly (scenic), Alex Ridgers (lights), Janice Pytel (costumes), Lindsay Jones (sound), and Mary O’Dowd (props). The stage manager is Kate Ocker.

Playwright Keith Huff comments, “It’s a great privilege and an honor to be working with Peter DeFaria and Gary Griffin once again. Peter, as many know, co-starred in both the Chicago Dramatists and The Royal George productions of A Steady Rain (with Jeff Award winner Randy Steinmeyer), and Gary directed the world premiere of The Detective’s Wife (with Jeff Award winner Barbara Robertson). Having the co-star of the first play and the director of the second both working on the third is an accidental poetry that Blues Artistic Director Wendy Whiteside made happen and just seems right – an artistic coup.”

Brenda Barrie (Amanda Brackett), Manny Buckley (Carter Hutch), Grier Burke (Katie Yates), Peter DeFaria (Nick Moroni), Monica Orozco (Bernadette Perez), Byron Glenn Willis (BJ Lyles) 

Creative Team:
Joe Schermoly (scenic), Alex Ridgers (lights), Janice Pytel (costumes),
Lindsay Jones (sound), Mary O’Dowd (props), and Kate Ocker (stage manager)

Dates: February 16, 2018 – March 24, 2018
Previews: February 16 – 21, 2018
Regular Run: February 23, 2018 – March 24, 2018

Wednesdays:  7:30pm (February 21 and March 21 only)
Thursdays:  7:30pm
Fridays:  7:30pm
Saturdays:  3:00pm (March 3, 17 and 24 only) & 7:30pm (except March 24)
Sundays:  2:30pm
Additional performance on Monday, March 5 at 7:30pm
Free post-show discussions on Sundays

Location: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago

Ticket prices: $19 - $49

Box Office: Buy online at or by calling 773.327.5252.

About American Blues Theater
Winner of the American Theatre Wing’s prestigious 2016 National Theatre Company Award, American Blues Theater is a premier arts organization with an intimate environment that patrons, artists, and all Chicagoans call home.  American Blues Theater explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves.

The diverse and multi-generational artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago.  The 36-member Ensemble has 530+ combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2017, the theater and artists received 195 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and over 35 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.  

American Blues Theater programs and activities are made possible, in part by funding by The MacArthur Funds for Arts & Culture at Prince, the Shubert Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, SMART Growth Grant, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Anixter Foundation, Actors’ Equity Foundation, and the Chip Pringle Fund. ComEd is the Season Lighting Sponsor.

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.

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