Showbiz Chicago Actor's Blog: Nora Ulrey from Dead Writers' TEA WITH EDIE & FITZ


The spry and fiesty Nora Ulrey gives us our second ShowBiz Chicago Actor’s Blog post where she plays Zela Fitzgerald in Dead Writers’ Theatre Collective World Premiere of Adam Pasen’s TEA WITH EDIE & FITZ.

And now begins my favorite part- run through, then run though, and then run through. Last night we ran Act 1. It is really thrilling to see the whole production start to take off. All my scenes are with F. Scott, played by the talented and now extremely blonde Madison, so it is really marvelous to be able to watch the scenes Zelda isn’t involved in. It gives me a better sense of the production as a whole outside of my character and tells me where she fits into the story the playwright is trying to tell. Both Jim and Adam, the director and playwright, are tuned into the musicality of the piece. Adams writing style combined with Jim’s sense of timing work in perfect unison.  To say that I am “challenged” by the piece would be an HUGE understatement. My training as an actress has mainly been rooted in exploring a character physically. I’m movement based. Great. Okay, Zelda- but you got to talk too! This production plays with and highlights the sounds and the music of language, not just stage pictures. Thank the stars we are working with an absolutely wonderful dialect and vocal coach Kendra. My sweet crazy little Zelda is from Montgomery, Alabama and who doesn’t love the way a Southern take their

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time in enjoying the sounds in each word? It is beautiful. My Midwest marble mouth is still in the learning process of trying to not swallow all my sounds.

So you have to learn the technical parts- how the heck do I say “Sabine”? When do I sit? Wasn’t I on the other side of the stage last time?  How naked are we getting in this scene? – once I even had two handsome gentlemen, Jim and Adam, show me how to properly bump & grind. Now, the cast has entered a new phase of rehearsal. Of course it is still brushing up and cleaning up the technical parts, such as Jim’s perfectly timed comedic moments, but it is also tying it all together. I like to think of it as learning to run the marathon. A three legged marathon where you are tied to your scene partner! Luckily, Madison and I are stumbling along together and finding our rhythm. Seeing the cast do the first Act is electricity on stage when we are truly listening and responding truthfully in the moment to one another and it is electric when you witness it. I just can’t wait to do it all in beautiful costumes. Wouldn’t that just be a lark?


Dead Writers Theatre Collective is proud to announce the Chicago premiere of Adam Pasen’s Tea with Edie and Fitz, directed by Jim SchneiderApril 26 – June 9, at the Greenhouse Theater Complex, 2257 North Lincoln Ave. Preview performances are April 26 – April 28.  The performance schedule is Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $15 for previews and $30 for the scheduled run. All tickets are available at or 773.404.7336.

Tea with Edie and Fitz chronicles the tempestuous meeting of literary icons Edith Wharton (Judith Hoppe) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Madison Niederhauser) at her estate for tea in the 1920s. In scenes that jump backward and forward chronologically and span the entire globe (from glittering expatriate Paris to roaring post-WWI Manhattan), the play examines the lives of two authors at the height of their powers and imagines what may have happened in that meeting that led them to never speak again. Particular attention is paid to their relationships with their equally legendary partners: Fitzgerald and his beautiful and troubled Southern wife, Zelda (Nora Ulrey), and Wharton with the ghost of her mentor and longtime companion Henry James (Michael D. Graham). Tea with Edie and Fitz calls into question themes of gender, sanity, time, the purpose of art and the nature of love and loss.

Additional Tea with Edie and Fitz cast includes Christina Irwin, Luke Renn, Ben Muller, Peter Esposito, Bill Chamberlain, Sara Minton, Nelson Rodriquez, Megan Delay, Brandon Johnson and Bill Zorn.

The production staff also includes Kari Warfield, production stage manager; Matthew Bonaccorso, assistant stage manager; Reed Motz, assistant director; Kendra Kargenian, dialect coach; E. Matthew Walter, set designer; Elizabeth Wislar, costume designer; Jeffrey Shields,  props designer; Angela Guest, properties mistress  and Kris Kontour, technical director.


Adam Pasen, Dead Writer’s playwright in residence, recently received his Ph.D. in English with a focus in Playwriting from Western Michigan University. He is honored to continue his collaboration with Jim Schneider after appearing in Schneider’s production of An Ideal Husband and having Schneider direct his adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” at City Lit.  Pasen’s plays have also been produced or workshopped by Theatre Oxford, ATC, Remy Bumppo, the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, Tectonic Theater Project, and the Kennedy Center (2012 KCACTF National Ten-Minute Play Award). He has been a finalist for the Reva Shiner Comedy Award from Bloomington Playwrights Project and his play Badfic Love was a WordBRIDGE 2012 selection.


Jim Schneider, artistic director and founder of Dead Writers Theatre Collective, and his productions have garnered a total of five Jeff Recommendations, 11 Jeff Nominations, and won two, both for Best Costume Design. His production of Design for Living won an After Dark Award for Best Costume Design.  His production of The Philadelphia Story won three Broadway World Awards for Best Actor, Actress and Revival of a classic. Most recently he directed Dead Writer’s inaugural production Noel Coward’s The Vortex to critical and audience acclaim. Schneider has also directed Circle Theatre’s Jeff-Recommended productions of The Women and The Philadelphia Story, the Tennessee William’s classic drama, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the critically acclaimed production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever. In 2007 his production of An Ideal Husband received unanimous praise from the critics, played to sold out houses for eight weeks and was selected by Chicago Tribune critic Kerry Reid as one of the five best productions for 2007 and by Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times as one of the best 10 for the season.


Dead Writers Theatre Collective, a not-for-profit performing arts collective, is committed to bringing the aesthetic back to the classics through fully staged, period-accurate and highly detailed productions.  The Collective focuses on the writer as the primary artist and in their process, all aspects of Dead Writers’ productions and decisions radiate from this point. Their productions, comprised largely of Chicago-based directors, designers, actors and playwrights, are either by or about dead writers.

Adam Pasen’s Tea with Edie and Fitz, directed by Jim SchneiderApril 26 – June 9, 2013 at the Greenhouse Theater Complex, 2257 North Lincoln Ave. Preview performances are April 26 – April 28.Opening/press night is Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a reception.The performance schedule is Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.,  Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $15 for previews and $30 for the scheduled run