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Showing posts with label Tony Award-winning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tony Award-winning. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

REVIEW: Bug at Steppenwolf Now Extended Through March 15, 2020

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Bug
By Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-Winning 
Ensemble Member Tracy Letts
Directed by Tony Award Winner David Cromer 

NOW EXTENDED Through March 15, 2020

A Luridly Funny Tale of Love, Paranoia and Government Conspiracy Makes Its Steppenwolf Debut

Ensemble member Carrie Coon in Bug. Photo by Michael Brosilow.


Review:
by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

Tracy Letts' Bug at Steppenwolf is a PTSD and crack fueled, descent into paranoia and self mutilation. This visceral production is guaranteed to evoke strong emotions. Bug begins on a hopeful note of friendship and support, but quickly spirals into collective hallucinations and self harm, rife with external enemies real and imagined. Sure, this shared reality is a strong bond and even a love of sorts, yet a twisted and destructive one. It's a testament to Tracy Letts' macabre imagination as storyteller, that this harrowing world exists on stage.

Pictured (L to R) ensemble members Carrie Coon (Agnes White) 
and Namir Smallwood (Peter Evans). All Photos by Michael Brosilow.

I can't fathom the energy and consummate skill it takes to become Agnes White (Carrie Coon) and Peter Evans (Namir Smallwood) night after night, for the run of this show. The supporting cast is strong and the principal characters are compelling. With an impressive array of award winners as cast and creatives, Steppenwolf's powerhouse production is a must see.


Pictured (L to R) ensemble member Namir Smallwood (Peter Evans), Jennifer Engstrom (R.C.) and ensemble member Carrie Coon (Agnes White)

It makes my skin crawl to think of having to live in that head space. And speaking of skin... this production bares it all, with full frontal male and female nudity, for a physical and mental vulnerability seldom asked of actors. Don't expect titilation, though. BUG is a searing indictment on a society that fails its most vulnerable, where skin isn't sexy, but an infested lair to be destroyed. 


Pictured (L to R) ensemble member Carrie Coon (Agnes White) 
and Steve Key (Jerry Goss)

We are given a woman with an abusive ex husband who has tried to murder her, freshly out of prison and back in her life against her will. Add to this her grief, desperation, and inability to find her missing son, abducted at age 6 from a grocery store, and Agnes is ripe for addiction and recruitment to Peter's delusions. Peter is a soldier, back from the Gulf War, and possibly damaged irreparably mentally and physically by combat followed by years in a military hospital psych ward, and a childhood as a home schooled preacher's son. Steppenwolf further adds the storyline of another layer of trauma, due to systemic, societal racism, by not casting a white man as Peter. 


Pictured ensemble member Namir Smallwood (Peter Evans) 

Spiraling into Peter and Agnes' world is not easy, but vitally important. By the climax, BUG brings the audience beyond fear and derision, to empathy and understanding. Through the dual meanings of "bug", this desperate couple battles an infestation of inner demons in the shape of insects, as well as invasive government tracking through transmitting bugs. 

(L to R) Steve Key (Jerry Goss) and ensemble member Namir Smallwood (Peter Evans) 
  
Their alternate reality makes perfect sense in so many ways, and that makes society's failure to save them from self destruction at once even more disastrous and inevitable. This type of hell on earth does exist for all too many, and we need to do better for those who get stuck there, and those who descend into their world with an outstretched hand, and sometimes fatal consequences. With our current politicians bent on dismantling protections for women and safety nets, while amping up the military, this storyline is more vital than ever. I've talked to people who hated BUG and those who've raved about it. Either way, Tracy Letts is a master at world building, and that's a win in my book. Highly recommended. 

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she publishes frequently: ChiILLiveShows.com (adult) & ChiILMama.com (family friendly). 




They’re Everywhere…  

Due to popular demand, Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Bug, the skin-crawling, mind-bending cult classic by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning ensemble member Tracy Letts, is extending one week and will now close on March 15, 2020. 

Directed by Tony Award winner David Cromer, the cast of this highly anticipated Steppenwolf debut features ensemble members Randall Arney (Dr. Sweet), Carrie Coon (Agnes White) and Namir Smallwood (Peter Evans) along with Chicago favorites Jennifer Engstrom (R.C.) and Steve Key (Jerry Goss). 

Pictured ensemble member Carrie Coon (Agnes White)   

In a seedy Oklahoma motel room, a lonely waitress begins an unexpected love affair with a young drifter. And then they see the first bugs...Tracy Letts’s mind-bending cult classic — a luridly funny tale of love, paranoia, and government conspiracy — roars back to Chicago for its Steppenwolf debut.

Bug will now run through March 15, 2020 in the Downstairs Theatre (1650 N. Halsted St). Single tickets ($20 - $125) are available through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.

 Pictured (L to R) ensemble member Carrie Coon (Agnes White) and ensemble member Namir Smallwood (Peter Evans)

Tracy Letts shares, “Bug explores folie à deux, a psychological term that means the madness of two—it’s when one person literally catches another person’s psychosis, which also seemed to me kind of like love…It’s a love story. Bug has primarily been done in really small spaces, normally in theaters of 100 seats or fewer, so to see it in our theater with the caliber of our actors and David Cromer directing…I can’t wait.”

Cast bios

Randall Arney (Dr. Sweet) has been a member of the Steppenwolf ensemble since 1984 and was the Artistic Director from 1987 to 1995. He was last on the Steppenwolf stage in The Seafarer in 2009. He directed last season’s acclaimed revival of True West and the 2013 production of Slowgirl, among others. Broadway transfers under his leadership as Steppenwolf Artistic Director included The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, The Song of Jacob Zulu (six Tony Award nominations) and The Grapes of Wrath (1990 Tony Award, Best Play). Arney recently served as the artistic director of the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles (1999 - 2017). He has an M.F.A. degree in Acting from Illinois State University.

Carrie Coon (Agnes White) joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 2019, and was last seen at Steppenwolf in the world premiere of Tracy Letts’s Mary Page Marlowe. Other Steppenwolf credits include Tracy Letts’s adaptation of Three Sisters, The March and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as “Honey,” a role that led to a Tony nomination and a Theatre World Award. She won a Critics’ Choice Television Award for her performance in HBO’s The Leftovers and a TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama for her performances in HBO’s The Leftovers and FX’s Fargo. For her performance in Amy Herzog’s world premiere Mary Jane, she garnered a 2018 Lucille Lortel Award, an Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination. Current film projects include The Nest with Jude Law and Ghostbusters (Summer 2020).

Namir Smallwood (Peter Evans) joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in March 2017, where he has been seen in True West, Aziza Barnes’ BLKS, Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ Monster, Christina Anderson’s Man In Love and The Hot L Baltimore. Other Chicago credits include The Lost Boys of Sudan (Victory Gardens Theater); the world premiere of Philip Dawkins’ Charm (Northlight Theatre); The Grapes of Wrath (Gift Theatre) and East Texas Hot Links (Writers’ Theatre). Regional credits include Marin Theatre Company, Pillsbury House Theatre, Ten Thousand Things and Guthrie Theater. New York credits include Lincoln Center Theater’s productions of Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau and Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu. Television credits include Chicago Fire and Betrayal.


Jennifer Engstrom (R.C.) was recently on stage at Steppenwolf in Lindiwe. Additional Chicago credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The North Plan, Small Mouth Sounds, Simpatico, The Mutilated, Fatboy, 3C (A Red Orchid); Sweet Bird of Youth (Goodman); A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf (Writer’s); Sky Girls (Northlight); and Hot L Baltimore (Mary-Arrchie). Regional credits include Simpatico (McCarter Theatre); Angels in America (Kansas City Rep); and A Streetcar Named Desire (Williamstown Theatre Fest). In New York, she curated and performed in Excuse My Dust, a Dorothy Parker Portfolio. Film and TV credits include SLICE, Swing Shift and Chicago Fire.


Steve Key (Jerry Goss) was in the National Tour of Steppenwolf’s August: Osage County, and in previous Steppenwolf productions of One Arm, The Libertine, As I Lay Dying. His Broadway credits include SWEAT and Off Broadway The Effect (Barrow Street Theatre) and Blue Surge (The Public Theatre). Additional Chicago credits include Feathers & Teeth, Vigils, Zoo Story and Blue Surge (Goodman); Grace, Better Late (Northlight Theatre); Rest, Circle Mirror Transformation (Victory Gardens); Brothers Karamazov (Lookingglass); The Unseen (A Red Orchid), among others. TV credits include Boss, Chicago Fire, Elementary, Chicago Code, Mob Doctor and on film, Public Enemies, 1,000 Acres, Blackmail.




Playwright and Director Bios

Tracy Letts is a multifaceted award-winning actor and playwright. He is the author of The Minutes (Pulitzer finalist), Linda Vista, Mary Page Marlowe, The Scavenger’s Daughter, Superior Donuts, August: Osage County (Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award for Best Play), Man from Nebraska (Pulitzer finalist), Bug, and Killer Joe. He also wrote the screenplays for the films The Woman in the Window, August: Osage County, Bug, and Killer Joe. He won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play for his performance as George in the Tony Award-winning revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. He joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 2002, where he has appeared in American Buffalo, Betrayal, The Pillowman, The Pain and the Itch, The Dresser, Homebody/Kabul, The Dazzle, Glengarry Glen Ross, Three Days of Rain, many others. Other productions include The Realistic Joneses (Broadway) and Orson’s Shadow (Barrow Street Theatre, NY). Film appearances include Little Women, Ford v Ferrari, The Post, Lady Bird, The Lovers, Indignation, Christine, The Big Short, Imperium, Wiener-Dog, Guinevere. Steppenwolf production of his Letts’s play Linda Vista recently completed a successful run at Broadway’s Hayes Theater and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Steppenwolf’s production of Letts’s play The Minutes begins performances on Broadway at the Cort Theatre on February 25, 2020 with Letts in the cast.


David Cromer is a director and actor originally from Chicago, currently based in New York. As a director, his New York credits include The Sound Inside, which is currently running on Broadway; The Band’s Visit (2018 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, Ethel Barrymore Theatre); the Broadway revivals of Brighton Beach Memoirs and The House of Blue Leaves; The Treasurer (Playwrights Horizons); Man from Nebraska (Second Stage Theatre); The Effect, Orson’s Shadow and Tribes (Barrow Street Theatre); Women or Nothing (Atlantic Theater Company); Really Really (MCC Theater); When the Rain Stops Falling and Nikolai and the Others (Lincoln Center Theater); and Adding Machine (Minetta Lane Theatre). Other directing credits include Next to Normal (Writers Theatre); Come Back, Little Sheba (Huntington Theatre Company); The Sound Inside (Williamstown Theatre Festival); and Our Town in London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Kansas City. As an actor, he recently appeared on Broadway as Howard Fine in the 2018 production of The Waverly Gallery. Prior to that, he appeared on Broadway as Karl Lindner in the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun, and Off-Broadway as the Stage Manager in Our Town, which he also directed, at the Barrow Street Theatre. He appeared in the HBO series “The Newsroom,” the Showtime series “Billions,” and in the motion picture The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). Cromer has received a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, three Obie Awards, three Lucille Lortel Awards, a Joe A. Callaway Award, four Jeff Awards, and in 2010 was made a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

The Bug creative team includes Takeshi Kata (Scenic Design); Sarah Laux (Costume Design); Heather Gilbert (Lighting Design); Josh Schmidt (Sound Design); Matt Hawkins (Fight Choreographer); Tonia Sina (Intimacy Choreographer); Sydney Charles (Dramaturg); Gigi Buffington (Company Voice, Text & Dialect Coach); Hallie Gordon (Artistic Producer); Tom Pearl (Director of Production); JC Clementz, CSA (Casting Director); Christine D. Freeburg (Production Stage Manager); and Jaclynn Joslin (Assistant Stage Manager). 

Ticket and Production Info
Bug

Dates: Through March 15, 2020
Regular Run: February 6 - March 15, 2020

Ticket prices
Previews: $20 – $98, Regular Run: $20 – $125. Prices subject to change.
20 for $20: A limited number of $20 tickets are available for subscription shows on the day of the performance at 11am (Mon – Sat) and 1pm (Sun), by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person.

Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.
Student Discounts: Limited $15 student tickets are available online with code STUDENT15. Limit 2 tickets. Must present a valid student ID for each ticket. Learn more at steppenwolf.org/students.

Group Tickets: All groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance.

Teen Arts Pass: Steppenwolf is a partner of the Teen Arts Pass (TAP) initiative, which allows teens ages 13 to 19 to attend any Steppenwolf performance for $5. Teens can register for free to TAP at teenartspass.org.

Memberships
Classic Memberships starting as low as $100 guarantee seats, offer early access to special events, invitations to behind-the-scenes events and special discounts at the theatre and in the neighborhood. Five and six play membership packages are now available; discounted packages for students and teachers and accessible packages are also offered.

Flexible Membership options include the Black Card, which starts as low as $180. With a Black Card, you receive six ticket credits to use whenever and however you want for an entire year. Use all six tickets before that year is up? Reload your card to keep those experiences coming.

Under 30? Join Steppenwolf RED Card for just $100 and enjoy the same six flexible tickets (that’s less than $17 a credit and almost 80% off single ticket prices). Black and RED cardholders receive exclusive discounts, special perks and insider access. For more information, visit steppenwolf.org/memberships.

Accessibility
Committed to making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to everyone, performances featuring American Sign Language Interpretation, Open Captioning and Audio Description are offered during the run of each play. Assistive listening devices and large-print programs are available for every performance and the Downstairs and 1700 Theatres are each equipped with an induction hearing loop. All theaters feature wheelchair accessible seating and restrooms, and Front Bar features a push-button entrance, all-gender restrooms and accessible counter and table spaces.

Accessible performances:
American Sign Language Interpretation: Sunday, February 16 at 7:30pm
Open Captioning: Thursday, February 13 at 7:30pm and Saturday, March 7 at 3pm
Audio Description and Touch Tour: Sunday, March 1 at 3pm (1:30pm touch tour; 3pm curtain)

Visitor information
Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation, bike racks and Divvy bike stands. The parking facility ($15 or $17, cash or card) is located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ($15 cash) is available directly in front of the main entrance starting at 5pm on weeknights, 1pm on weekends and at 12noon before Wednesday matinees. Limited street and lot parking are also available. For last minute questions and concerns, patrons can call the Steppenwolf Parking Hotline at 312.335.1774.

Sponsor information
United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf.

Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks
Connected to the main lobby is Steppenwolf’s own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, offering an inviting space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Open Tuesdays – Sundays, Front Bar serves locally roasted coffee and espresso by Passion House Coffee Roasters and features food by The Goddess and Grocer. The menu focuses on fresh, accessible fare, featuring grab-and-go salads and sandwiches for lunch and adding shareable small plates and desserts for evening and post show service. front-bar.com



Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble members represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programming includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees.

Steppenwolf's mission
Steppenwolf strives to create thrilling, courageous and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. We succeed when we disrupt your routine with experiences that spark curiosity, empathy and joy. We invite you to join our ensemble as we navigate, together, our complex world.

Pictured ensemble member Carrie Coon (Agnes White) in Steppenwolf’s production of Bug by ensemble member Tracy Letts, directed by David Cromer in the DownstairsTheatre, 1650 N Halsted St. January 23 – March 8, 2020. Tickets are available at 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org. Photo by Michael Brosilow.


Sunday, March 24, 2019

TICKETS ON SALE: World-renowned soprano Renée Fleming To Star In THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA December 14-29, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
World-renowned soprano Renée Fleming stars in
new production of the multi Tony Award-winning musical
THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA
presented by John Berry and Anthony Lilley for Scenario Two


Limited Chicago engagement at Lyric Opera House for
ten performances only: December 14-29, 2019

“the most intensely romantic score of any musical since 
West Side Story” - New York Times

PUBLIC TICKETS ON SALE STARTING MARCH 28

John Berry CBE and Anthony Lilley OBE for Scenario Two are delighted to announce a new production of the acclaimed Broadway musical The Light in the Piazza starring four-time Grammy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Renée Fleming as Margaret Johnson, who embarks on a fateful trip to Florence with her daughter in the summer of 1953. Additional casting including Broadway and West End stars to be announced soon.

After premiering in London at the Royal Festival Hall this summer, the new production will be presented in Chicago for ten performances only at Lyric Opera House from December 14-29, 2019 (press opening Saturday, Dec. 14). Tickets start at $49 and go on sale for Lyric Opera subscribers on Monday, March 25 at 10 a.m. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, March 28 at 10 a.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.lightinthepiazzathemusical.com

The new production of The Light in the Piazza is directed by Olivier Award winner and critically acclaimed musicals expert Daniel Evans and designed by Robert Jones, with costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Mick Potter. The ravishing score will be played by the Lyric Opera Orchestra under the baton of Kimberly Grigsby, conductor of the original Lincoln Center production.

Upon its Broadway debut, The Light in the Piazza was described by the New York Times as having “the most intensely romantic score of any musical since West Side Story.” Based on the novel by Elizabeth Spencer, The Light in the Piazza book is by Craig Lucas, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel. Set in Florence during the summer of 1953, it’s a touching and unforgettable love story. A fateful gust of wind whisks Clara’s hat into the hands of local dreamer Fabrizio Naccarelli and it’s love at first sight. However, Clara isn’t quite what she appears.  Soon her mother is faced with a heart-wrenching decision, and they must all confront a secret that’s been kept in the shadows for far too long. 

The Light in the Piazza’s rich, emotional score is unique amongst 21st-century Broadway musicals. Unapologetically lyrical and romantic, it transports audiences to 1950s Florence for a romantic evening of love and light.

Scenario Two presents
The Light in the Piazza
Book by Craig Lucas
Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
December 14-29, 2019 
At Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago
Tickets $49-$219
www.lightinthepiazzathemusical.com

About Scenario Two
Scenario Two is a new UK company founded by John Berry CBE and Anthony Lilley OBE, which specializes in commercial theatrical production in London and Internationally. It brings together the very best talent from the world of opera and musical theatre with top performers and creatives from other industries such as film, television and theatre. The company is creating exciting new productions of classic musicals and developing new commissions and thereby aims to attract both existing theatre-goers and new audiences in the West End and major theatres around the world. For more information visit www.scenario-two.com.


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