Showing posts with label Philip Earl Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philip Earl Johnson. Show all posts

Friday, November 30, 2018

Welcome five new American Blues Theater Ensemble members

Welcome five new American Blues Theater Ensemble members
Elyse Dolan, Jared Gooding, Philip Earl Johnson, Chuck Smith, and Wandachristine,
 and new Artistic Affiliate Zachary Stevenson

American Blues Theater announces the addition of five new Ensemble members and one new Artistic Affiliate to the Blues family. Joining the Ensemble is director, designer and Associate Producer Elyse Dolan, who directed several works in past Ripped and Blue Ink festivals; designer Jared Gooding, lighting designer of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story; actor Philip Earl Johnson, who is slated to appear in the upcoming Chicago premiere of Steven Dietz’s On Clover Road; director Chuck Smith, director of the recent American Blues production of Pearl Cleage’s Flyin’ West; and actress and playwright Wandachristine, who won many awards for her solo performance Beauty’s Daughter. Actor Zachary Stevenson has been named an Artistic Affiliate. Stevenson recently made his Chicago debut as “Buddy Holly” in American Blues Theater’s Joseph Jefferson Award-winning musical Buddy – the Buddy Holly Story, in which he also won a Jeff Award for Performance in a Musical.

“We are thrilled to announce the addition of these incredible artists into the Ensemble and Artistic Affiliates. We’ve enjoyed amazing collaborations with all of these artists over the years and are so excited to deepen our commitment to making great art together. We look forward to the amazing work we have planned with this extremely talented group in upcoming seasons,” comments Gwendolyn Whiteside, Artistic Director of American Blues Theater.

About the Artists

ELYSE DOLAN is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater where she is also the Associate Producer. She has directed several short plays in past Ripped festivals, staged readings in the annual Blue Ink Festival, and has been Assistant Director on a handful shows including Six Corners (dir. Gary Griffin) and Little Shop of Horrors (dir. Jonathan Berry). Her directing work has been seen across Chicago at The New Colony (where she is also their Director of Education), Broken Nose Theatre, Prop Thtr, Commission Theatre, Babes with Blades, 20% Theatre Company, Pride Films & Plays, and more. She has also served as Assistant Director on productions at Raven Theatre, Oracle Theatre, 16th Street Theater, and Redtwist Theatre. She also does set dressing and properties design for the annual production of It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Elyse holds a B.A. from Denison University.

JARED GOODING is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater where he has designed lighting for Flyin’ West, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, This Wonderful Life, Beauty’s Daughter, and The Columnist. His other design credits include the Associate Design of Lookingglass Alice (Lookingglass Theatre Company), serving as the Lighting Assistant for The Wiz Live on NBC, designs for Victory Gardens Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, UIC Theatre, Writers Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, The Hypocrites, TimeLine Theatre, Madison Children's Theatre, Definition Theatre, Windy City Playhouse, Sideshow Theatre, First Floor Theater, About Face Theatre, MPAACT, Pegasus Theatre, Next Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, Citadel Theatre, ETA, and Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre. He is a company member with MPACCT. He spends his off time managing a DJ company for Chicago area bars.

PHILIP EARL JOHNSON is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater where he performed in David Auburn’s Chicago premiere of The Columnist and upcoming Chicago premiere Steven Dietz’s On Clover Road. He has appeared Goodman Theater in Enemy of the People, Talking Pictures, The Actor and Brutality of Fact. Other Chicago credits include: A Christmas Story at The Paramount Theatre; Danny Casolaro Died For You at TimeLine Theatre Company; The Dance of Death and Old Glory at Writers Theatre; The Royale and The Big Meal (Jeff Award for Best Ensemble) at American Theatre Company; Tartuffe, Skylight, James Joyce's The Dead and The Mystery Cycle at Court Theatre; Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and The Conquest of The South Pole at Famous Door Theatre. He was in the first national tour of Angels in America: Millenium Approaches and Perestroika, launching at The Royal George Theatre. He has spent 10 seasons at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival appearing in many productions including the title roles in Macbeth, Cyrano De Bergerac, Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra. Other regional credits include A Moon for The Misbegotten at Laguna Playhouse and Just Men at Stella Adler Theatre. Recent television credits include “Empire”, “Chicago Med”, “Chicago Fire”, and “Mind Games”. When not in Chicago, he tours the country with his European-style clown act MooNiE: Juggler Ropewalker, Foolish Mortal!

CHUCK SMITH is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater where he directed Pearl Cleage’s Flyin’ West and Leroi Jones’ Dutchman. He is a member of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees and is Goodman Theatre’s Resident Director. He is also a resident director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida. Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Pullman Porter Blues; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Race; The Good Negro; Proof; and The Story; the world premieres of By the Music of the Spheres and The Gift Horse; James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, which transferred to Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company, where it won the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Direction; A Raisin in the Sun; Blues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Objects in the Mirror; Having Our Say; Ain’t Misbehavin’; the 1993 to 1995 productions of A Christmas Carol; Crumbs From the Table of Joy; Vivisections from a Blown Mind; and The Meeting. He served as dramaturg for the Goodman’s world-premiere production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. He directed the New York premiere of Knock Me a Kiss and The Hooch for the New Federal Theatre and the world premiere of Knock Me a Kiss at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, where his other directing credits include Master Harold... and the Boys, Home, Dame Lorraine, and Eden, for which he received a Jeff Award nomination. Regionally, Mr. Smith directed Death and the King’s Horseman (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Story (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), and The Last Season (Robey Theatre Company). At Columbia College he was facilitator of the Theodore Ward Prize playwriting contest for 20 years and editor of the contest anthologies Seven Black Plays and Best Black Plays. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay Crime of Innocence and was theatrical director for the Emmy-winning Fast Break to Glory and the Emmy-nominated The Martin Luther King Suite. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff-winning musical Po’. His directing credits include productions at Fisk University, Roosevelt University, Eclipse Theatre, ETA, Black Ensemble Theater, Northlight Theatre, MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre, The New Regal Theater, Kuumba Theatre Company, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Pegasus Players, the Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is a 2003 inductee into the Chicago State University Gwendolyn Brooks Center’s Literary Hall of Fame and a 2001 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year. He is the proud recipient of the 1982 Paul Robeson Award and the 1997 Award of Merit presented by the Black Theater Alliance of Chicago.

WANDACHRISTINE is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. She has starred on many stages throughout the country in such notable productions as the touring company of Fences, The Vagina Monologues, Gees Bend, and Thyestes just to name a few. She was recognized for her work in the acclaimed production of Old Settler; for which she was a Supporting Actress nominee for the prestigious Joseph Jefferson Award and a Best Actress nominee for the noted Ruby Dee/Black Theater Alliance Award as well. Once again she was recognized for her work in another acclaimed production, produced by American Blues Theater, Beauty’s Daughter and this time she won the Ruby Dee/Black Theater Alliance Award for her solo performance.  Earlier this year she toured in Dani Gurira’s (“Black Panther” and “Walking Dead”) production of Familiar.  Now she’s hard at work appearing in the new staging of A Wonder in My Soul at Baltimore Center Stage. On film she’s worked alongside of Whoppie Goldberg in “Clara’s Heart”, starred in the hit comedy as Mrs. Jones, in the film “Me and Mrs. Jones” with Kym Fields, and Birdie on “Chicago PD”.  Her voice can be heard daily in numerous television and radio commercials, along with a few animated characters, for such shows as “The PJ’s”, “The Justice League” and “Scarface” the video game. She’s written her first fiction novel, “I LOVE YOU MORE…THAN SHOES!”, which is about four actresses over 50 still trying to make it in Hollywood. As a playwright, she now has two plays that will be produced soon; “One Day?” and “Sammy, Harry, Oscar and Me…Morris”, this one will be directed by another Blues Ensemble member Chuck Smith.

ZACHARY STEVENSON is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater who recently made his Chicago debut as “Buddy Holly” in American Blues Theater’s Joseph Jefferson Award-winning musical Buddy – the Buddy Holly Story, in which Zach also won a Jeff Award for Performance in a Musical. Originally from Vancouver Island, Canada, Zach recently relocated to Chicago after spending the last few years being based in Kansas City, MO. Select credits include: Million Dollar Quartet (Paramount Theatre – “Carl” U/S), Hair (CanStage), Ring of Fire (Chemainus Theatre Festival / Western Canada Theatre), Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave (Blue Bridge Repertory), Urinetown (Belfry Theatre), Red Rock Diner (Arts Club Theatre), Assassins (Quintessence), and over ten productions of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story throughout the US and Canada, for which he’s been nominated for a Jessie Richardson Award and Ovation Award. Zachary has also had the pleasure of music directing several productions, including Million Dollar Quartet (Arts Club), and Ring of Fire (Chemainus Theatre Festival), as well as performing in countless headlining concerts across North America. Off stage, Zach is busy writing a one-man show about the 1960s folksinger and activist, Phil Ochs.

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 33-member Ensemble has 600+ combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2018, 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.

Monday, February 26, 2018

OPENING: Robert Falls' New Adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People at Goodman Theatre



Here at ChiIL Live Shows, it was our great pleasure to catch Goodman Theatre's world premiere production of Blind Date, directed by Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls. We can't wait for March 19th, for the press opening of Falls new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. Both are all too timely, thought provoking political dramas. There's been a whole lot of Ibsen going on this year on stage in Chicago's storefront scene, and this larger budget, main stage production should crown them all. We particularly enjoyed Brett Neveu's acclaimed Traitor, based on An Enemy of the People, at A Red Orchid, earlier this year. I'm eager to see a full staging of the original so soon after AROT's modern day adaptation.

Nearly 150 years after Ibsen’s masterpiece first thrilled audiences, it “is startling how current the play's ideas feel" (The New York Times) as it examines the complexities of corruption, greed and destruction of the environment and remains “a play so necessary, so exhilarating to experience." (The Village Voice) Falls directs his adaptation, based on a translation by Eleanor Marx-Aveling, with a cast featuring Philip Earl Johnson as Thomas Stockmann, doctor and chief medical officer of the baths; Scott Jaeck as Peter Stockmann, Thomas’ older brother and town mayor; Lanise Antoine Shelley as Katherine, Thomas’ wife; Rebecca Hurd as Thomas’ daughter, Petra. Rounding out the cast are Jesse Bhamrah (Billing), David Darlow (Morten Kiil), Allen Gilmore (Aslaksen), Aubrey Deeker Hernandez (Hovstad), Larry Neumann, Jr. (The Drunk) and Carley Cornelius, Arya Daire, Guy Massey, Roderick Peeples and Dustin Whitehead as townspeople. The design team includes Todd Rosenthal (set), Ana Kuzmanic (costumes), Robert Wierzel (lights), Richard Woodbury (sound and original music). Alden Vasquez is the production stage manager. 

An Enemy of the People appears in the Goodman’s Albert Theatre March 10 – April 15. Tickets ($25 - $80; subject to change) are now on sale at, by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn).

“Any theater artist will inevitably confront the genius of 19th century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and I’m thrilled to take on this challenge with an incredible ensemble of actors and designers,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “I was compelled to adapt and direct An Enemy of the People both by our country’s political tumult and by the play’s complex treatment of myriad topics—from how we view our fellow humans, to public good versus individual rights, to the pitfalls of democracy. Though the play was written nearly 150 years ago, I find its themes remarkably fresh and the questions it raises just as perplexing as they must have been to 19th century audiences.”

When a water contamination crisis puts their community in peril, two brothers—Dr. Stockmann (Johnson) and Mayor Stockmann ( Jaeck)—face off in a battle of political ambitions and moral integrity. Triggered by the criticism and controversy of his earlier plays—A Doll’s House (1879) and Ghosts (1882)—Ibsen authored An Enemy of the People as a partial response to his critics. He felt angry that his discussion of what he considered important was being scrutinized and determined to examine the underbellies of marriage, sex and middle class society.

Falls’ staging of An Enemy of the People is the latest in the Goodman’s six-decade history of producing Ibsen and works inspired by the writer’s plays. Most recently, Falls directed the 2005 world premiere of Dollhouse, a modern-day take on Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, adapted by Goodman Artistic Associate Rebecca Gilman. Previous Ibsen works at the Goodman also include Arthur Miller’s adaptation of An Enemy of the People (1980), A Doll’s House (1973), Hedda Gabler (1962) and The Master Builder (1953). Following this production, Falls will remount his Lyric Opera of Chicago production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the Dallas Opera (April 2018), and this summer, he will direct Stacy Keach as Ernest Hemingway in the return of Jim McGrath’s Pamplona.

HENRIK IBSEN (Playwright, 1828 - 1906) was born in Skien, Norway, Ibsen was apprenticed at age 15 to an apothecary, a situ­ation he detested. He wrote poetry to escape his misery and at 20 attended the univer­sity in Christiania (now Oslo). Within a short time his plays were being published and produced at the Christiania Theatre. In 1851, he was appointed to the theater at Bergen, where he served as director, designer and resident playwright. After six years learning his craft in Bergen, Ibsen moved back to Christiania, again working as a theater manager and artistic advisor. Plays from this period, such as The Vikings at Helgeland (1858) and Loves Comedy  (1862), stirred up contro­versy on their first appearances. In 1864, Ibsen applied to the govern­ment for a poet's stipend; when it was refused, he exiled himself from Norway. The injustice he felt at this denial helped propel his two early masterpieces, the verse dramas Brand (1866) and Peer Gynt (1867). Ibsen spent most of his years of exile in Germany, though he frequently spent months at a time in Italy. He returned briefly to Norway for the publication of his huge epic Emperor and Galilean (1873). He published A Doll's House in 1879, followed by Ghosts (1881), An Enemy of the People (1882), The Wild Duck (1884), Rosmersholm (1886), The Lady from the Sea (1888), Hedda Gabler (1890),  The Master Builder (1892), Little Eyolf (1894) and John Gabriel Borkman (1896). When We Dead Awaken, Ibsen's last play and a grand culmination of his themes, appeared in 1900. He returned to Christiania in 1891 to live out his life and died in 1906 after suf­fering a physical and mental breakdown.

ROBERT FALLS (Goodman Theatre Artistic Director) previously directed at the Goodman the world premiere of Rogelio Martinez’s Blind Date. He also partnered with Goodman Playwright-in-Residence Seth Bockley to direct their world premiere adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (Jeff Award for Best Adaptation). Additional recent productions include The Iceman Cometh for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale for the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, Measure for Measure and the world and off-Broadway premieres of Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian. Among his other credits are The Seagull, King Lear, Desire Under the Elms, John Logan’s Red, Jon Robin Baitz’s Three Hotels, Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio and Conor McPherson’s Shining City; the world premieres of Richard Nelson’s Frank’s Home, Arthur Miller’s Finishing the Picture, Eric Bogosian’s Griller, Steve Tesich’s The Speed of Darkness and On the Open Road and Rebecca Gilman’s A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Blue Surge and Dollhouse; the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s House and Garden; and the Broadway premiere of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. Falls’ honors for directing include, among others, a Tony Award (Death of a Salesman), a Drama Desk Award (Long Day’s Journey into Night), an Obie Award (subUrbia), a Helen Hayes Award (King Lear) and multiple Jeff Awards (including a 2012 Jeff Award for The Iceman Cometh). For “outstanding contributions to theater,” Falls has been recognized with such prestigious honors as the Savva Morozov Diamond Award (Moscow Art Theatre), the O’Neill Medallion (Eugene O’Neill Society), the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award (Lawyers for the Creative Arts), the Illinois Arts Council Governor’s Award and induction into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Tickets ($25-80; subject to change) –; 312.443.3800; Fax: 312.443.3825; TTY/TDD: 312.443.3829
Box Office Hours –12noon - 5pm; on performance days, the box office remains open until 30 minutes past curtain
MezzTix – Half-price day-of-performance mezzanine tickets available at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX) 
$10Tix – Student $10 day-of tickets; limit four, with valid student ID (promo code 10TIX)

Group Sales are available for parties 10 ; 312.443.3820
Gift Certificates – Available in any amount;

ARTIST ENCOUNTER –March 11 at 5pm | Goodman Theatre
Tickets are $10 for general public; free for Goodman Members. Join Artistic Director Robert Falls for an in-depth conversation about the play.

Touch Tour,  April 7 at 12:30pm – A presentation detailing the set, costume and character elements.
Audio Described Performance, April 7 at 2pm – The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset.
ASL Interpreted Performance, April 11 at 7:30pm – Professional ASL interpreter signs the action/text as played. 
Open Captioned Performance,  April 14 at 2pm – An LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance.
Visit for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.

AMERICA’S “BEST REGIONAL THEATRE” (Time magazine), Goodman Theatre is a premier not-for-profit organization distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics (celebrated revivals include Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh). Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, over 160 Jeff Awards and many more accolades. In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle” and its annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this season, has created a new generation of theatergoers. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production partner with local off-Loop theaters and national and international companies by providing financial support or physical space for a variety of artistic endeavors.

Committed to three core values of Quality, Diversity and Community, the Goodman proactively makes inclusion the fabric of the institution and develops education and community engagement programs that support arts as education. This practice uses the process of artistic creation to inspire and empower youth, lifelong learners and audiences to find and/or enhance their voices, stories and abilities. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of such programming, most offered free of charge, and has vastly expanded the theater’s ability to touch the lives of Chicagoland citizens (with 85% of youth participants coming from underserved communities) since its 2016 opening.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. David W. Fox, Jr. is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

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