ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Writers Theatre concludes its 2018/19 Season with
Next to Normal
Music by Tom Kitt, Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Directed by Tony Award winner David Cromer
Music Direction by Andra Velis Simon
Featuring Kyrie Courter, Alex Levy, Liam Oh, Gabriel Ruiz,
David Schlumpf and Keely Vasquez
May 8 – June 16, 2019
Next to Normal began in 1998 as a 10-minute workshop sketch called Feeling Electric, about a woman undergoing electroshock therapy and its impact on her family. After a number of readings and workshops, the full-length musical was produced Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theater in 2008.
I'll be out for the press opening May 15th, so check back soon for my full review. Two of my extended family members have undergone electroshock therapy for depression, so this topic hits close to home. I've seen the Broadway touring production, and can't wait to see Writers Theatre's take on this award winner.
Next to Normal received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – one of only nine musicals to have ever won the award. The others are: Of Thee I Sing (1932), South Pacific (1950), Fiorello! (1960), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1962), A Chorus Line (1976), Sunday in the Park with George (1985), Rent (1996), and Hamilton (2016).
On the outside, The Goodmans seem like the average American family: house in the suburbs, white picket fence and two sharp-witted kids. But inside, their lives are anything but normal, with long-buried secrets that threaten to tear them apart. Featuring powerful lyrics and an electrifying score, this explosive musical uses wry humor and brutal honesty to explore how family trauma can fracture the American Dream, while ultimately leading to a chance at new beginnings.
Next to Normal opened on Broadway in April 2009 with the entire Arena Stage cast resuming their roles. The production was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won three (Best Original Score – Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical – Alice Ripley, and Best Orchestrations – Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt).
“It is truly a privilege to be in collaboration with David Cromer again,” comments Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. “So much of my aesthetic and the aesthetic of Writers Theatre has been influenced by our friendship, the respect I have for his work and our many conversations about the form. We both share a profoundly personal attachment to the subject matter of this remarkable work and he has assembled a brilliant team of artists to realize his vision. David has a gift for taking a piece of theatre you might have thought familiar and then shedding a fresh perspective on it. He manages to make you see it in a new light and yet he remains entirely true to the intent of the author. Next to Normal is a rollercoaster ride for the emotions and features a soaring score filled with sophistication, beauty and sweeping melody.”
The cast of Next to Normal includes: Kyrie Courter (Natalie Goodman), Alex Levy (Henry), Liam Oh (Gabe), Gabriel Ruiz (Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine), David Schlumpf (Dan Goodman), and Keely Vasquez (Diana Goodman).
The creative team for Next to Normal includes: Regina Garcia (Scenic Designer), Rachel Anne Healy (Costume Designer), Keith Parham (Lighting Designer), Christopher M. LaPorte (Co-Sound Designer), Ray Nardelli (Co-Sound Designer), Bobby Kennedy (Dramaturg), Nick Moran (CFM Contractor), Ethan Deppe (Keyboard Programmer), Eamon Foley (Choreographer), Ellen Morris (Assistant Music Director), Harmony France (Assistant Director), and Rebecca Pechter (Production Stage Manager).
Single tickets for Next to Normal, priced $35 - $80, are available at www.writerstheatre.org, by phone at 847-242-6000, or in person at the box office at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Director David Cromer returns to Writers Theatre, where he has directed A Streetcar Named Desire, Picnic, The Price, Booth, and Oscar Remembered. This marks Cromer’s first Chicago-area production since winning the 2018 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for The Band’s Visit on Broadway. Cromer was raised in Skokie and attended Columbia College Chicago.
Kyrie Courter (Natalie Goodman), Alex Levy (Henry), Liam Oh (Gabe), and Keely Vasquez (Diana Goodman) are making their Writers Theatre debuts.
Alex Levy (Henry) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Alex is a graduate from the School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University with a B.A. in Acting. Recent theatrical credits include Hair (Metropolis Performing Arts Centre), Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Peter and the Starcatcher and Rodeo (Illinois Shakespeare Festival). TV credits include appearances on Chicago Fire (NBC) and Empire (FOX).
Liam Oh (Gabe) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Liam is currently a freshman at Northwestern University studying theater and music. He was a 2018 YoungArts Finalist in Theater and semifinalist for the Presidential Scholar for the Arts. Favorite credits include: Chip in The 25th… Spelling Bee, Clyde in Bonnie and Clyde (Actor’s Training Center) and Ren in Footloose (New Trier High School).
Gabriel Ruiz (Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously music directed and composed original music for Vietgone and appeared in Arcadia and Company. Gabriel is a proud ensemble member of Teatro Vista. Chicago credits include: Cry it Out (Northlight Theatre), You Got Older, The Rembrandt, The Way West, How Long Will I Cry?, The Motherf**ker with the Hat (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Native Gardens (Victory Gardens Theater), Agamemnon, Man in the Ring (Court Theatre), The Wolf at the End of the Block, White Tie Ball (Teatro Vista), Singin’ in the Rain, City of Angels (Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire), The Upstairs Concierge (Goodman Theatre), Creditors (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company), Sita Ram (Chicago Children's Choir), Working (Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place) Richard III, Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night's Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and Arabian Nights (Lookingglass Theatre Company). Regional credits include: Native Gardens (Cincinnati Playhouse), Harvey (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them (Forward Theater Company) and Blood and Gifts (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts). TV and Film credits include Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice (NBC), APB (Fox), Electric Dreams (Channel 4) and Boss (Starz).
David Schlumpf (Dan Goodman) returns to Writers Theatre, where he previously appeared in Days Like Today. David recently moved to Washington DC and is thrilled to come home to Chicago for this extraordinary show, director, and cast. Other Chicago credits include Steven Kodaly in She Loves Me, Magaldi in Evita (Marriott Theatre), Sense & Sensibility (World Premiere), Timon of Athens (featuring Ian McDiarmid), As You Like It (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Dartmoor Prison (Goodman Theatre), Captain Walker in The Who's Tommy (Paramount Theatre), Sidney in Sweet Smell of Success (Jeff Award for Best Actor, Kokandy Productions) and Nehemiah in Dessa Rose (Jeff Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Bailiwick Chicago). DC credits: Buddy in Elf and Billis in South Pacific (Olney Theatre). David holds an MFA in Acting from Roosevelt University, Chicago College of Performing Arts and a BFA in Musical Theatre from University of Florida.
Keely Vasquez (Diana Goodman) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Keely Vasquez is a Chicago-based actor, singer, voice-over artist and teacher. Most recently she was seen in Porchlight Music Theatre’s productions of Merrily We Roll Along and In The Heights. Other Chicago theatrical credits include shows at Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, Mercury Theater and The Broadway Playhouse. For nearly a decade, she toured the US and Europe singing with Barry Manilow and was featured on more than twenty television shows as well as seven DVD specials.
From Page to Stage:
A CONCERT-LECTURE ON NEXT TO NORMAL & MENTAL HEALTH
Co-hosted by Family Service of Glencoe
Monday, April 29 at 7pm
In the Gillian Theatre | Writers Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey shines a light on how living with bipolar disorder affects the individual, their families and support systems. Through the story of Diana Goodman and her family, we are offered a glimpse behind the seemingly-perfect suburban façade of normalcy and are invited to experience and understand the challenges of those who are often stigmatized due to their struggles with mental health. At this special From Page to Stage event, we will be joined by experts from Family Service of Glencoe who will unpack the real-life issues dramatized in Next to Normal alongside WT guest artists performing musical selections, addressing questions about bipolar disorder and how it is illuminated in this powerful, modern musical.
From Page to Stage
HELP IS OUT THERE: 10 COMMON MENTAL HEALTH WARNING SIGNS
Thursday, May 16 at 7pm
Hosted by Deerfield Public Library | 920 Waukegan Rd, Deerfield
Featuring: Mary Jouppi, President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Lake County
With May being Mental Health Month, Deerfield Public Library will host this From Page to Stage event featuring Mary Jouppi, who will address concerns and questions regarding mental health challenges that families face in today's world.
Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 11:30am
Are you curious about the world that surrounds your favorite plays? Sunday Spotlight offers access to the finest speakers, scholars and cultural leaders. This one-hour event extends the conversation on our stages by featuring an expert in an area connected to the play. Seating is limited. RSVP is required. Save the date!
Post-Show Conversation: The Word
Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
Post-Show Conversation: The Artist
Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
Pre-Show Conversation: Up Close
Join us at 6:45pm in the Atrium before every Thursday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute primer on the context and content of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
RIDE METRA TO WRITERS THEATRE
In an effort to promote taking public transit to the Theatre, Writers Theatre launched a new promotion in 2013. Any audience member who purchases a ticket to a Writers Theatre production and rides Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to the Theatre may snap a photo of themselves on the train and post it to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account with a tag of @WritersTheatre (@Writers_Theatre on Instagram) and #NexttoNormalWT, and upon showing the post at the Writers Theatre Box Office, receive $5 in cash to put toward the cost of your fare as a thank you for going green.
This promotion is available for a limited time only and may end without warning. Ticket must have been paid for in advance. Not valid on comp tickets. More information available at writerstheatre.org/metra
WRITERS THEATRE PARTNERS
Writers Theatre is pleased to recognize BMO Harris Bank as the 2018/19 Season Sponsor and ComEd as the Official Lighting Sponsor of the 2018/19 Season. The Major Production Sponsor is the Poetry Foundation. Foundation support provided by The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. The Corporate Sponsor is Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable. The Artists Council Sponsors are Jane and Richard Lipton, Mary Pat Studdert, Seth Traxler and Jessica Aspen, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
For more information about Writers Theatre’s 2018/19 partners, visit writerstheatre.org/our-supporters.
ABOUT WRITERS THEATRE
For more than 25 years, Writers Theatre has captivated Chicagoland audiences with inventive interpretations of classic work, a bold approach to contemporary theatre and a dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible.
Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has grown to become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence, being called the top regional theatre in the nation by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of more than 60,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry—providing the finest interpretations of both classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues.
In February 2016, Writers Theatre opened a new, state-of-the-art facility. This established the company's first permanent home—a new theatre center in downtown Glencoe, designed by the award-winning, internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by Founder and Design Principal Jeanne Gang, FAIA, in collaboration with Theatre Consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. The new facility has allowed the Theatre to continue to grow to accommodate its audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy. The new facility resonates with and complements the Theatre’s neighboring Glencoe community, adding tremendous value to Chicagoland and helping to establish the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.
Find Writers Theatre on Facebook at Facebook.com/WritersTheatre, follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter or @Writers_Theatre on Instagram. For more information, visit www.writerstheatre.org.
First performance: Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Press Opening: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 7:30pm
Closing performance: June 16, 2019
Schedule: Tuesdays – Fridays: 7:30pm (with select 3:00pm Wednesday matinees on May 29 and June 12); Saturdays: 3:00pm (except May 11) and 7:30pm; Sundays: 2:00pm and 6:00pm (except May 12, June 2 & 16)
Open-Captioned performance: Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 7:30pm
Location: The Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Prices: Prices for all performances range from $35 - $80 (Purchase early for best prices)
Box Office: The Box Office is located at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe; 847-242-6000; www.writerstheatre.org
Gabriel Ruiz returns to Writers Theatre where he previously music directed and composed original music for Vietgone and appeared in Arcadia and Company. David Schlumpf previously appeared in Days Like Today at Writers. David recently moved to Washington DC and is thrilled to come home to Chicago for Next to Normal.