Griffin Theatre Company Announces 2016-17 Season

(left to right) The creative team for Griffin Theatre Company’s 2016-17 Season includes Director Jonathan Berry, playwright Bill Massolia, director Dorothy Milne and director Scott Weinstein.

Griffin Theatre Company is pleased to announce its 29th Season, featuring three productions exploring the American Dream. The 2016-17 season kicks off this fall with a rare revival of Maxwell Anderson’s 1930s drama WINTERSET, directed by Ensemble Member Jonathan Berry (Pocatello, Balm in Gilead). The season continues next spring with the world premiere of IN TO AMERICA, a 400-year journey through the immigrant experience written by Artistic Director Bill Massolia (Letters Home) and directed by Dorothy Milne. The season concludes next summer with a newly-orchestrated (Matt Deitchman) chamber version of the Tony Award-winning musical RAGTIME, reimagined by director Scott Weinstein (TitanicBat Boy: The Musical) and featuring a cast of 20 actors.

Griffin Theatre’s full 2016-17 Season will be presented by at The Den Theatre, 1329-1335 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Season subscriptions and single tickets for WINTERSET go on sale Monday, September 5, 2016 at www.griffintheatre.com. Single tickets for IN TO AMERICA and RAGTIME will go on sale Thursday, December 1, 2016.

 (left to right) The creative team for Griffin Theatre Company’s 2016-17 Season includes Director Jonathan Berry, playwright Bill Massolia, director Dorothy Milne and director Scott Weinstein.

(left to right) The creative team for Griffin Theatre Company’s 2016-17 Season includes Director Jonathan Berry, playwright Bill Massolia, director Dorothy Milne and director Scott Weinstein.

“I am thrilled the Griffin is producing three plays this season that are so timely,” comments Artistic Director Bill Massolia. “The pursuit of the American dream can remain elusive and mythic to many Americans. The plays reflect our ongoing quest to achieve it regardless of the consequences. I hope these exciting pieces will remind audiences how powerful the human spirit can be.”

Additionally, the previously announced, THE BRISTOL SESSIONS with a book by Griffin Artistic Director Bill Massolia and directed by Kevin Kingston will have a concert reading in the spring of 2017 (date to be announced). The musical detailing the “Big Bang Moment of Country Music” follows record producer Ralph Peer’s series of recording sessions at the Taylor-Christian Hat and Glove Company in Bristol, Tennessee. THE BRISTOL SESSIONS marked the commercial debuts of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family and the birth of country music.

Griffin Theatre will also continue to nationally tour its productions of LETTERS HOMEFRINDLE and GHOSTS OF WAR. The Griffin’s national touring productions will reach 100,000 young people and adults during the 2016-17 theater season. LETTERS HOME will tour for a tenth straight season beginning in October with a ten-city tour of the U.S. LETTERS HOME will climax its 2016/2017 touring season with a performance onboard the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier on Memorial Day 2017 in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

The Griffin Theatre Company 2016-17 Season: 

WINTERSET 

By Maxwell Anderson

Directed by ensemble member Jonathan Berry

November 19 – December 23, 2016

The Den Theatre’s Upstairs Main Stage

A rare revival, in keeping with the Griffin’s work to explore lost plays like London Wall and Men Should Weep. Inspired by the infamous murder case of the 1920s when the Italian anarchists and immigrants, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were arrested, convicted and electrocuted despite the insubstantial evidence against them. Anderson’s 1935 poetic verse play follows a young man’s quest to prove his father’s innocence years after he was executed for a murder he may not have committed Winner of the first New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award for Best Play.

IN TO AMERICA – World Premiere!

By Artistic Director William Massolia

Directed by Dorothy Milne

March 18 – April 23, 2017

The Den Theatre’s Bookspan Theatre

A world premiere drama that traces the American immigrant experience from Jamestown to present day through the stories of ordinary men, women and children who departed their homelands in the hopes of creating a new life. An extraordinary story 400 years in the making that transcends time, space and race to reflect the diversity and commonalities of our shared American experience.

RAGTIME 

Book Terrence McNally

Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Music by Stephen Flaherty

Based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow

New Orchestrations by Matt Deitchman

Directed by Scott Weinstein

May 27 – July 16, 2017

The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage

A newly orchestrated chamber version of the Tony Award-winning musical performed with two pianos, a wind instrument and 20 actors. Griffin premieres this new version created by director Scott Weinstein and music director Matt Deitchman. The musical, based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow, is set at the dawn of a new century where the lives of three distinct American families from different backgrounds intersect in their search for the American dream. Part history lesson—part family saga, Ragtime asks us think about racism, immigration, social justice, wage inequality and the role of women in society in a changing America.

About the Directors

Jonathan Berry (Director, Winterset) is an ensemble member at Griffin Theatre where his credits include Pocatello, Balm in Gilead, Golden Boy, Spring Awakening, Punk Rock, Port and On the Shore of the Wide World.  He is an Artistic Producer at Steppenwolf and a director and teacher in Chicago. Steppenwolf credits include Gary and A Separate Peace for Steppenwolf for Young Adults. Jonathan is also an ensemble member at Steep Theatre, where credits include Posh, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, The Knowledge, Festen and Moment. Jon was the assistant director for Anna D. Shapiro’s Broadway productions of Of Mice and Men and This Is Our Youth. Other credits include Dirty, Othello, Suicide, Incorporated (Gift Theatre); The Solid Sand Below, The World of Extreme Happiness for New Stages (Goodman Theatre); Kill Floor (American Theatre Company); Little Shop of Horrors, Sideman (American Blues Theater); I am Going to Change the World (Chicago Dramatists); and The Casuals (Jackalope Theatre Company). He pursued his MFA in directing from Northwestern University. He has taught at University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Columbia College and The School at Steppenwolf.

 

Dorothy Milne (Director, In to America) returns to Griffin Theatre, where she has previously directed Little BrotherStardust and No More Dead Dogs. She is an ensemble member of Lifeline Theatre, where she also serves as Artistic Director. She has directed over twenty productions at Lifeline, receiving a Non-Equity Jeff Award (Direction) for Around the World in 80 Days in 2003; and non-Equity Jeff Nominations (Direction) for Pistols for TwoJane Eyre (for which she also received an After Dark Award), Strong Poison and Gaudy Night. Previously, she received an Equity Jeff Nomination for her direction of Eleemosynary at Interplay Theatre Company. Dorothy is also involved in the Chicago storytelling scene: she has been writing and performing with the storytelling collective Sweat Girls for over 20 years, directs occasionally for 2nd Story and at Lifeline leads The Lifeline Storytelling Project and co-curates The Fillet of Solo Festival.

 

Scott Weinstein (Director, Ragtime) previously directed Griffin’s Bat Boy: The MusicalTitanic and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Scott is the Co-Artistic Director of Buzz22 Chicago, where he most recently directed She Kills Monsters as part of Steppenwolf Theatre’s Garage Rep Series. Other credits include Seussical and Bolcom’s Fairy Tales (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); A Doll’s House (Buzz22 Chicago); All American (Red Twist)Baristas (NY International Fringe Festival); Ampersand (Bloomington Playwrights Project); and the first full productions of Murder For Two (Adirondack Theatre Festival, Hangar Theatre, 42nd Street Moon). Scott is the recipient of a Berkshire Theatre Festival Directing Fellowship and a Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Observership. He is currently the Associate Director for the National Tour, Las Vegas and Chicago productions of Million Dollar Quartet. He is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and proud graduate of Northwestern University. Weinstein recently won a Jeff Award for his direction of the musical Rent for Theo Ubique Theatre.

Matt Deitchman (New Orchestrations, Ragtime) is a Chicago based actor, music director and composer and multi-instrumentalist originally from Allendale, New Jersey. Music credits include: Tug Of War, Road Show, Seussical, Shrek (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Adding Machine, Into the Woods (The Hypocrites); The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes (Mercury Theater); Hero (Asolo Repertory Theatre & Marriott Theatre); King & I, The Wizard Of Oz, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, For The Boys (Marriott Theatre); She Kills Monsters (Steppenwolf Garage-Original Score); Do Over (MIC – Original Music/Lyrics Co-Write); Spelling Bee (Griffin Theatre); Do I Hear a Waltz?, The Baker’s Wife, The Pajama Game (Music Theatre Company); and Found (American Music Theater Project). Matt graduated from the Northwestern University Theatre Department where he twice music directed, composed, and orchestrated for the annual Waa-Mu and was the recipient of the Peggy Dow and Frank Gamble Fitzpatrick Scholarships, as well as the prestigious Sarah Siddons Scholarship Award for excellence in Musical Theatre.

The Griffin Theatre’s 2016/2017 Premiere Season Sponsor is Brenda & James Grusecki with additional season sponsor support from Jeff Graves Realtor @properties, Kassie Davis & Bruce Beatus, Claire Conley & Joan Mazzonelli.

The Griffin Theatre Company is a Blue Star Theater and is proud to support our military enlisted and veterans.

About Griffin Theatre Company

Established in 1988 and celebrating its 29th season, the mission of the Griffin Theatre Company is to create extraordinary and meaningful theatrical experiences for both children and adults by building bridges of understanding between generations that instill in its audience an appreciation of the performing arts. Through artistic collaboration the Griffin Theatre Company produces literary adaptations, original work and classic plays that challenge and inspire, with wit, style and compassion for the audience.

The Griffin Theatre Company is the recipient of 105 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for theater excellence in Chicago. The Griffin was the repeat winner of the 2016 Jeff Award for “Best Production of a Play” for London Wall having won the same award in 2015 for its production of Men Should Weep.

The Griffin Theatre is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events; and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

For additional information, visit www.griffintheatre.com.