Writers Theatre announces casting for 25th Anniversary Season

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Writers Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma announce casting for the first five plays of the company’s 25th Anniversary Season, The season opens with a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed and adapted by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Scott Parkinson, featuring Kareem Bandealy, Christine Bunuan, Arya Daire, Sydney Germaine, Matthew Hawkins, Thomas Vincent Kelly, Julian Parker, Scott Parkinson and Madrid St. Angelo. East Texas Hot Links by Eugene Lee, directed by WT Resident Director Ron OJ Parson, includes Tyla Abercrumbie, Willie Goodson, Kelvin Roston Jr., Namir Smallwood, A.C. Smith, Antoine Pierre Whitfield and Alfred Wilson, with one role yet to be announced. The season will continue with Writers Theatre presenting the World Premiere of PigPen Theatre Co.’s The Hunter and The Bear, directed by Stuart Carden and PigPen Theatre Co., and featuring PigPen members Alex Falberg, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillian, Ryan Melia, Matt Nuernberger, Arya Shahi and Dan Weschler. Theresa Rebeck’s The Scene, directed by Resident Director Kimberly Senior, features Mark Montgomery, Charin Alvarez and Juan Villa with one role yet to be announced. The cast of Bathsheba Doran’s The Mystery of Love & Sex, directed by Marti Lyons, includes Hayley Burgess, Keith Kupferer, Lia Mortensen and Travis Turner, with one role yet to be announced. The cast of Parade, directed by Gary Griffin will be announced at a later date.

For the 25th Anniversary Season, Writers Theatre will be performing in its new home at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe, designed by Studio Gang Architects. Performance spaces in the new theater complex include the 255-seat Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre as well as the Gillian Theatre, a 50 to 99-seat flexible theatre space that pays tribute to Writers Theatre’s first performance space at Books on Vernon in Glencoe.

From its very first year, Writers has brought quality and excellence to the stage while maintaining the company’s hallmark intimacy. The last 24 years have been marked by

unprecedented growth in both the artistic and business arenas and have garnered national acclaim and recognition. With a reputation for consistent artistic excellence and with strong ties to the community, Writers Theatre has built an award-winning repertoire and serves as a vital and highly regarded company in the Chicagoland theatre community.

“Our 25th Anniversary Season offers our patrons a beautiful combination of new faces and old

friends returning to Glencoe to tell a tremendous array of stories,” comments Artistic Director

Michael Halberstam. “We are delighted to introduce you to another wonderful lineup of actors who will continue our tradition of focusing on great words as interpreted by excellent casts: the

word and the artist.”

Season Packages are available at the Box Office, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000 and www.writerstheatre.org.

Writers Theatre is pleased to welcome back BMO Harris Bank in the distinguished capacity of

25th Anniversary Season Sponsor, marking the Bank’s sixth consecutive year as season sponsor.

The 25th Anniversary Season of the new theatre center includes:

JULIUS CAESAR

Written by William Shakespeare

Directed and Adapted by Michael Halberstam and Scott Parkinson

September 7 – October 16, 2016

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe      

The cast includes: Kareem Bandealy (Brutus), Christine Bunuan (Calphurnia/Metellus Cimber), Arya Daire (Portia/Soothsayer), Sydney Germaine (Octavius Caesar), Matthew Hawkins (Ligarius/Lepidus), Thomas Vincent Kelly (Mark Antony/Trebonius), Julian Parker (Casca/Cobbler), Scott Parkinson (Cassius) and Madrid St. Angelo (Julius Caesar).

Shakespeare’s masterpiece of power and conspiracy, friendship and betrayal, stands as the greatest political drama ever written. Caesar has made Rome the world’s most powerful Empire through his brilliant military strategies, and upon his return from the wars the citizens of Rome wish to abandon the Republic and crown him king. When his fellow senators decide that his advancement must be halted, they come to a brutal and extreme solution: the great man must fall.

With a new adaptation by Michael Halberstam and Scott Parkinson that is focused, streamlined and performed without an intermission, the WT production will be both epic in scale and arrestingly intimate. This fresh and innovative look at the text will immerse audiences in the struggle for global supremacy, raising important questions about the responsibilities of a citizenry when confronting radicalism and tyranny.

 

EAST TEXAS HOT LINKS

Written by Eugene Lee

Directed by Ron OJ Parson

October 19, 2016 – January 22, 2017

The Gillian Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

 

The cast includes: Tyla Abercrumbie (Charlesetta Simpkins), Willie Goodson (Adolph), Kelvin Roston Jr. (Roy Moore), Namir Smallwood (XL), A.C. Smith (Boochie Reed), Antoine Pierre Whitfield (Buckshot) and Alfred Wilson (Columbus Frye). The role of Delmus Green is yet to be announced.

In the woods of East Texas, the Top ‘o the Hill Café offers comfort, solace and companionship for the regulars who come in each night. However, it is the summer of 1955, and times are changing. In the face of oppressive Jim Crow laws, seven strong-willed locals join forces to protect one of their own—until the unthinkable catches them by surprise, changing life at Top ‘o the Hill forever.

WT Resident Director Ron OJ Parson, who directed past WT hits The Caretaker and The Old Settler, staged a critically acclaimed and deeply impactful production of Eugene Lee’s riveting play for Chicago’s Onyx Theatre Ensemble two decades ago. He now revisits this powerful tale of friendship and heroism that remains intensely relevant in today’s America. 

The World Premiere of

THE HUNTER AND THE BEAR

A New Musical Folktale

Written by PigPen Theatre Co.

Directed by Stuart Carden and PigPen Theatre Co.

December 7, 2016 – January 22, 2017

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The Hunter and The Bear features PigPen Theatre Co. members Alex Falberg, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Ryan Melia, Matt Nuernberger, Arya Shahi and Dan Weschler.

The critically acclaimed PigPen Theatre Co., creators of WT’s 2013 smash-hit production of The Old Man and The Old Moon, brings their considerable talents to this original tale. The Hunter and The Bear tells the haunting story of an imaginative young boy and his father, the pragmatic hunter tasked with protecting their isolated town. When his son disappears in the woods, the search to recover him will lead the hunter, and eventually the entire community, through a landscape teeming with dark secrets and supernatural threats.

Told by flickering campfire light, this combination frontier ghost-story and modern-day parable unfolds in PigPen Theatre Co.’s signature style: using resourceful staging, captivating storytelling, ingenious shadow puppetry and award-winning folk music to fuel a headlong plunge into the darkest part of the woods.  

THE SCENE

Written by Theresa Rebeck

Directed by Kimberly Senior

February 22 – April 2, 2017

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The cast includes: Charin Alvarez (Stella), Mark Montgomery (Charlie) and Juan Villa (Lewis). The role of Clea is yet to be announced.

What starts off with an amusing exchange at a hip Manhattan party quickly turns into something more complex. When close friends Charlie and Lewis meet Clea, a determined young woman making her mark on the New York scene, it sets them off on an emotional roller coaster. This provocative comedy-drama explores the dark edges of commitment and the struggles of balancing authenticity with ambition.

WT Resident Director Kimberly Senior, who recently directed the Pulitzer Prize-wining Disgraced on Broadway and who has helmed past WT hits The Letters, Hedda Gabler, The Diary of Anne Frank and Marjorie Prime, takes on Theresa Rebeck’s wickedly biting and often hilarious play about the search for the ever elusive “place-to-be,” and the three old friends whose lives are irrevocably changed when they discover how fragile the foundations of their relationships really are.

THE MYSTERY OF LOVE & SEX

Written by Bathsheba Doran

Directed by Marti Lyons

April 5 – July 2, 2017

The Gillian Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The cast includes: Hayley Burgess (Charlotte), Keith Kupferer (Howard), Lia Mortensen (Lucinda) and

Travis Turner (Jonny). The role of Howard’s father is yet to be announced.

Charlotte and Jonny have grown up together, and are now trying to determine whether their close friendship might be something more. When they discover exactly what “more” actually entails, however, it comes as a surprise to them both—and to Charlotte’s parents, who are holding secrets and resentments of their own. This compelling story of intricate relationships is an explosive and contemporary look at race, sexual identity and family dynamics.

Marti Lyons, one of Chicago’s finest emerging directors, brings her unique vision to this deeply insightful and very funny new play, using the intimacy of WT’s Gillian Theatre to bring audiences face-to-face with the challenges of loving someone completely while trying to determine exactly what that means. 

PARADE

Book by Alfred Uhry
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Co-conceived by Harold Prince

Music Direction by Michael Mahler

Choreographed by Matt Raftery

Directed by Gary Griffin

May 24 – July 9, 2017

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The cast is yet to be announced.

This stirring, Tony Award-winning musical explores the endurance of love and hope against seemingly insurmountable odds, telling the true story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jewish man falsely accused of murder in 1913 Atlanta. Innovative and daring, and filled with soaring music, Parade is a moving love story, a riveting murder mystery, a gripping courtroom drama and a powerful exploration of innocence and naïveté coming face-to-face with ignorance and prejudice.

Acclaimed director Gary Griffin, who directed the original Broadway production of Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon in Vegas and the world premiere of his The Trumpet of the Swan at the Kennedy Center, stages an intimate revival of this celebrated musical. With a book by playwright Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) and a score by Brown (The Last Five Years, The Bridges of Madison County) that combines folk, rock, R&B and gospel, Parade ends WT’s 25th Anniversary Season with spectacular impact.

SEASON PACKAGES

Writers Theatre season ticket packages provide a convenient theatergoing experience and guarantee access to all of WT’s highly anticipated productions throughout the season. Six-play subscription packages are available, ranging in price from $269 to $399.

Three-play “Pick Your Own” packages that include two productions in the Nichols Theatre and one production in the Gillian Theatre start at $199.

Season package subscribers receive exclusive benefits including complimentary ticket exchanges by phone and mail (upgrade fees may apply), show reminders by email before each scheduled performance, a one-year subscription to The Brief Chronicle newsmagazine and more. For a complete list of benefits visit writerstheatre.org.

Season Packages will be available at the Box Office, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000 and writerstheatre.org.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES:

Pre-Show Conversation: Up Close

Join us at 6:45pm before every Thursday evening performance (excluding previews) of Julius Caesar, The Hunter and The Bear, The Scene and Parade for a 15-minute primer on the context and content of the play facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

 

Post Show Conversation: The Word

Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding previews) 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 previews) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

Sunday Spotlight

This one-hour event extends the conversation on our stages by featuring an expert in a field related to the themes or setting of each play, moderated by a member of the WT Artistic Team. Seating is limited. RSVP is required.

The Making of… Series

Writers Theatre will once again host its popular The Making of… Series, providing insight into a different aspect of creating the productions seen on our stages. This one-hour event will feature Writers Theatre’s Literary Manager Bobby Kennedy in conversation with an artist associated with each production, discussing their part in bringing the play to life. The Making of… events are FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited. RSVP is required.

 

From Page to Stage Series

Writers Theatre and select North Shore libraries present the 12th annual From Page to Stage Series. This comprehensive series of special events, lectures, readings and film viewings are designed to enhance and enrich the audience experience of one of the plays during each Writers Theatre season—this season highlighting WT’s production of Parade. All events are FREE of charge and open to the public. For more information about Writers Theatre’s From Page to Stage Series, visit writerstheatre.org/from-page-to-stage-series. From Page to Stage is generously sponsored by Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin, who have been supporting the program since its inception 12 years ago.

For more information about Writers Theatre Audience Enrichment programs visit writerstheatre.org/events

ABOUT WRITERS THEATRE

Over the past twenty-four seasons, Writers Theatre has become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence. Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has been deemed the “best drama company in the nation” by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of 35,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry. Prized for the finest interpretations of classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues, Writers Theatre’s acclaimed work includes Artistic Director Michael Halberstam’s world premiere in Glencoe and subsequent productions of A Minister’s Wife at Lincoln Center Theater and West Coast premiere at the San Jose Repertory Theatre; David Cromer’s productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Picnic; and the commissioning, world premiere and New York premiere of Crime and Punishment, which has received more than 30 subsequent regional theater productions.

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 or follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter. For more information, visit www.writerstheatre.org.

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