Bailiwick Chicago Presents the Chicago Premiere of
Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Music by Stephen Flaherty
Directed by Artistic Director Lili-Anne Brown
Music Direction by Collective Member James Morehead
March 6 – April 5, 2014
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Bailiwick Chicago is pleased to launch its 2013-14 season with the Chicago premiere of the thrilling musical drama DESSA ROSE by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the Tony Award-winning team behind Ragtime, Once on This Island and Seussical!, directed by Artistic Director Lili-Anne Brown with music direction by Collective Member James Morehead. DESSA ROSE plays March 6 – April 5, 2014 at the Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are available at www.victorygardens.org, by calling (773) 871-3000 or in-person at the Victory Gardens Box Office. The press performance is Sunday, March 9 at 7 pm.
Leading the cast of DESSA ROSE are Sydney Charles as Dessa Rose (The Color Purple, The Mercury Theatre; Smokey Joe’s Café, Theo Ubique) and Collective Member Harmony France as Ruth (Violet, Bailiwick Chicago—Jeff nomination; Tell Me on A Sunday, Bailiwick Repertory) with special guest artist Jayson “JC” Brooks as Nathan (Passing Strange, Bailiwick Chicago—Jeff nomination). The production also features Brigitte Ditmars, Gilbert Domally, Jasondra Johnson, Jaymes Osbourne, Steven Perkins, Pavi Proczko, David Schlumpf, Sasha Smith and Eunice Woods.
DESSA ROSE is a stirring musical drama based on the noted novel by Sherley Anne Williams. Told as an oral history and related by two women, Ruth and Dessa Rose, this powerful tale of an unlikely friendship takes place in 1847, 14 years before the outbreak of the American Civil War.
Based on both fact and fiction, the musical weaves together the stories of two legendary women, one white and one black, who struggled for different kinds of freedom in an era defined by men. Ruth Sutton is a white woman abandoned by her husband and living on an isolated farm. Dessa Rose is an escaped slave on the run from a bloody slave rebellion, with a newborn infant to protect, who seeks refuge with Ruth. Hidden in this Alabama backwater, the two women's uneasy alliance ultimately transcends any racial barriers as they find the strength to confront the world on their own terms. Their dangerous journey to freedom and self-realization makes for a musical that is by turns comic, tragic, uplifting and inspiring.
The production team for DESSA ROSE includes Megan Truscott (scenic designer), Samantha Jones (costume designer), Brian Hoehne (lighting designer), Patrick Bley (sound designer), Mary-Catherine Mikalayunas (stage manager) and Danny Bernardo (assistant director/dramaturg).
The 2013–14 Season marks Bailiwick Chicago’s participation in Victory Gardens Theater’s inaugural Resident Theater Program.
Title: DESSA ROSE
Book and Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens
Music: Stephen Flaherty
Director: Artistic Director Lili-Anne Brown
Music Direction: Collective Member James Morehead
Cast: Sydney Charles (Dessa Rose) Collective Member Harmony France (Ruth) and special guest artist Jayson “JC” Brooks (Nathan) with Brigitte Ditmars (Ruth’s Mother), Gilbert Domally (Philip), Jasondra Johnson (Dorcas), Jaymes Osbourne (Kaine), Steven Perkins (Harker), Pavi Proczko (Mr. Steele), David Schlumpf (Nehemiah), Sasha Smith (Anabelle) and Eunice Woods (Rose).
Location: Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Thursday, March 6 at 8 pm, Friday, March 7 at 8 pm and Saturday, March 8 at 8 pm
Regular run: Thursday, March 13 – Saturday, April 5, 2014
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm
Tickets: Previews: $15. Regular run: $40 ($30 groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available at www.victorygardens.org, by calling (773) 871-3000 or in-person at the Victory Gardens Box Office.
About the Creative Team:
Lynn Ahrens (Book and Lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (Music) won Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards and received two Grammy nominations for the Broadway musical Ragtime. In the same year, they garnered two Academy Award nominations and two Golden Globe nominations for Twentieth Century Fox's animated feature film, Anastasia. Other Broadway credits include: Once On This Island (eight Tony Award nominations, London’s Olivier Award, Best Musical), Seussical (Grammy and Drama Desk nominations); My Favorite Year; Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life; the 2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime and Rocky. Upcoming: Little Dancer, which will premiere at the Kennedy Center in 2014, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman. Lincoln Center Theater and Off-Broadway: A Man of No Importance (Outer Critics Circle Award, Best Musical), Dessa Rose (2005 Audelco Award, Best Musical, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations), The Glorious Ones (five Drama Desk nominations) and Lucky Stiff (Helen Hayes Award, Best Musical).
Individually, Ms. Ahrens’ credits include MSG’s A Christmas Carol (ten years at Madison Square Garden); A Christmas Carol (adapted teleplay, Hallmark Entertainment); Camp (songs, IFC Films); Lucky Stiff (screenplay); She is a mainstay songwriter/singer for Schoolhouse Rock and has written and produced many network shows. She is an Emmy Award winner and four-time Emmy nominee. Mr. Flaherty’s credits include: concert premieres at the Hollywood Bowl and Boston’s Symphony Hall; commissions from the Guggenheim Museum, Carnegie Hall and Symphony Space; incidental music for Neil Simon's Proposals on Broadway; musical score for Loving Repeating: A Musical Of Gertrude Stein (Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical) and several film scores.
Lili-Anne Brown (Director) is the Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago. Last season, she directed See What I Wanna See as part of Steppenwolf Theatre's Garage Rep. In 2012, she received a Jeff Award nomination and was awarded a BTA Award (Best Direction of a Musical) for her direction of the Midwest premiere of Passing Strange. Other directing credits include Unnecessary Farce, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Timber Lake Playhouse). Onstage, she most recently appeared in The Second City's Guide to the Opera at Lyric Opera, the Off-Broadway premiere of A Twist of Water, and as Joanne in Rent, directed by David Cromer at ATC. She has also performed at Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens, Writers' Theatre, Ravinia Festival, and many other Chicago venues and regional theaters.
Bailiwick Chicago is a non-profit professional company with a mission to produce contemporary musicals and plays, reinvent classic musicals and develop new work, while sharing a powerful and authentic theatrical experience. The company celebrates and engages our community through diverse programming, artistic partnerships and outreach opportunities. In its first three seasons Bailiwick Chicago has garnered 54 award nominations, including 10 Non-Equity Jeff Award Nominations in its first Jeff-Eligible season (2011-12). For additional information, visit bailiwickchicago.com.
Bailiwick Chicago Staff:
Artistic Director: Lili-Anne Brown
Executive Director: Kate Garassino
Creative Director: Eric Martin
Managing Director: Geoff Bleeker