Court Theatre Presents James Joyce’s THE DEAD Nov. 8 – Dec. 9

Court Theatre Artistic Director Charles Newell and Executive Director Stephen J. Albert present James Joyce’s “The Dead,” with book by Richard Nelson, music by Shaun Davey, lyrics conceived and adapted by Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey, and directed by Charles Newellwith musical direction by Doug Peck. “The Dead” will run November 8 – December 9, 2012 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue.

Artistic Director Charles Newell and Music Director Doug Peck, whose professional collaborations include Porgy and Bess and Caroline, or Change, team up for a delightful reimagining of Court Theatre’s eccentric holiday classic, James Joyce’s “The Dead.” Filled with the warmth of a flickering hearth, the fervor of an Irish folk song, and the mystery of a snowy winter’s eve, this piece tells the tale of a group of family and friends as they gather to sing and dance in celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany in Dublin at the turn of the last century. Hauntingly beautiful and joyfully spirited, James Joyce’s “The Dead” offers a heartfelt accompaniment to the holiday season.

“Doug Peck and I are returning to James Joyce’s “The Dead” as the next step on a journey that includes Caroline, or Change and Porgy and Bess,” says Artistic Director Charles Newell. “With these shows, we learned important lessons about ritual and community that we’re applying to Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey’s masterful musical: for example, all of the instrumentation will be performed by the characters themselves, making it a more authentic experience with even more emotional depth. This will be a production of “The Dead” unlike anyone has ever seen before.”

The cast of James Joyce’s “The Dead” includes Jim DeSelm (Michael – Guitar), Mary Ernster (Aunt Julia Morkan), Lara Filip (Molly Ivors), J. Michael Finley (Bartell D’Arcy), Rebecca Finnegan (Mrs. Malins),Suzanne Gillen (Lily – Flute), Anne Gunn (Aunt Kate Morkan), Philip Earl Johnson(Gabriel Conroy), Rachel Klippel (Rita/Young Julia), Regina Leslie (Mary Jane – Violin), Rob Lindley (Freddie Malins), Susie McMonagle (Greta Conroy), and Steve Tomlitz (Mr. Brown – Cello).

The creative team includes Scott Davis (scenic design), Linda Roethke (costume design), Jennifer Tipton (lighting design), and Joshua Horvath (sound design). William Collins is the production stage manager and Donald Claxon is the assistant stage manager. Katie Spelman is thechoreographer and Drew Dir is the dramaturg.


James Joyce (Novelist) (1882-1940) remains one of the twentieth century’s most lauded and accomplished authors. Born into an Irish upper middle class family, he observed his father’s drunken spendthrift habits and his mother’s biennial pregnancies. As a young man, he renounced first Catholicism, then the Middle Class and finally Ireland for a continental Bohemian life. Although Joyce spent his adulthood in Italy, Zurich and Paris, his imagination remained rooted in the Edwardian Dublin of his youth. This Dublin seemed paralyzed by the English rule and economic depression, yet was profoundly affected by strong cultural and political impulses finalized by Irish Nationalism. In his four masterpieces, Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake. Joyce explored this world using increasingly radical literary techniques. In 1903, Joyce returned from his first self-exile in Paris to attend to his dying mother, May Joyce. She died in August of 1903, and a year later Joyce met Nora Barnacle, the love of his life, striding along a Dublin street. Nora, from a humble Western Irish family, profoundly affected Joyce’s eye, ear, and soul. In “The Dead,” the last of his Dubliners stories and the only one written in Europe, Joyce used a story from Nora’s youth to examine a spiritual world of “the living and the dead.”

Richard Nelson (Author/Adaptor/Lyricist) is the author of many plays, including Conversations in Tusculum, Frank’s Home, How Shakespeare Won the West, Rodney’s Wife, Franny’s Way, Madame Melville, Goodnight Children Everywhere (Olivier Award Best Play), The General From America, New England, Left, Misha’s Party (with Alexander Gelman), Columbus and the Discovery of Japan, Two Shakespearean Actors (Tony Nomination, Best Play), Some Americans Abroad (Olivier Nomination, Best Comedy), Principia Scriptoriae. His musicals include James Joyce’s The Dead (with Shaun Davey, Tony Award Best Book of A Musical), My Life With Albertine (with Ricky Ian Gordon), andParadise Found (with Hal Prince, Ellen Fitzhugh and Jonathan Tunick). He has adapted and/or translated numerous classical and contemporary plays including Chekhov’s The Seagull, The Wood Demon, Three Sisters, Strindberg’s Miss Julie, The Father, Goldoni’s Il Campiello, Beaumarchais’The Marriage of Figaro, Pirandello’s Enrico IV, Moliere’s Don Juan, Erdman’s The Suicide, Fo’sAccidental Death of an Anarchist, and Jean-Claude Carriere’s The Controversy of Valladolid. His work for film and television includes Ethan Frome (Miramax Films), Sensibility and Sense and The End of a Sentence (American Playhouse). He has written numerous radio plays for the BBC. He is an Honorary Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a recipient of the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the 2008 PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award. He was born in Chicago.

Shaun Davey (Composer/Adaptor/Lyricist) was born in Belfast and lives in Wicklow. He has chosen, in his concert works, to explore the turning points in Irish history, celebrating that which unites rather than divides the Celtic people. His works include The Brendan Voyage, The Pilgrim, Granuaile, Concerto for Uilleann Pipes and Orchestra, The Relief of Derry Symphony and the Concerto for Two Harps. Shaun Davey’s works have been performed at the Sydney Opera House; Royal Festival Hall, London; the Albert Hall, London; the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; Munich Gasteig; the Quebec Tercentenary Festival; the New York Arts Festival; the Queen’s Festival, Belfast; the Edinburgh Folk Festival; and at music festivals in Lorient and Rennes in Brittany, St. Chartier and Romans in France and at Expo ’92 in Spain.

Charles Newell (Director) has been Artistic Director of Court Theatre since 1994, where he has directed over 30 productions. He made his Chicago directorial debut in 1993 with The Triumph of Love, which won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. Directorial highlights at Court include Angels in America, An Iliad, Porgy and Bess, Three Tall Women, The Year of Magical Thinking, The Wild Duck, Caroline, Or Change, Titus Andronicus, Arcadia, Man of La Mancha, Uncle Vanya, Raisin, The Glass Menagerie, Travesties, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Hamlet, and The Invention of Love. Charlie has also directed at the Goodman Theatre (Rock ‘n’ Roll), the Guthrie Theater (Resident Director: The History Cycle, Cymbeline), Arena Stage, John Houseman’s The Acting Company (Staff Repertory Director), the California and Alabama Shakespeare Festivals, Juilliard, and New York University. He is the recipient of the 1992 TCG Alan Schneider Director Award. He has served on the Board of Theatre Communications Group, as well as on several panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. Opera directing credits include Marc Blitzstein’s Regina at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Rigoletto at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Charlie is a multiple Joseph Jefferson Award (Chicago’s highest theatrical honor) nominee and recipient.

Doug Peck (Music Director) is the winner of five Joseph Jefferson Awards (Porgy and Bess,Caroline, or Change, Carousel, Fiorello!, Man of La Mancha) and two After Dark Awards (Guys and Dolls, Hello, Again). Other favorite projects include Dreamgirls, Shenandoah, Fiddler on the Roof,Cabaret, James Joyce’s “The Dead,” A Catered Affair, Hair, Grey Gardens, Oh, Coward!, My Fair Lady, Beauty and the Beast, Raisin, Animal Crackers, and Mary Zimmerman’s acclaimed production of Candide. Peck can be heard on the recordings Bright Young People: The Songs of Noël Coward,Foiled Again Live, and Loving, Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein. He is a creative partner with Goodman Theatre, an artistic associate with Porchlight Music Theatre, and a faculty member of the National High School Institute of the Arts. A proud Northwestern University graduate, Peck also trained at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and is married to actor Rob Lindley.

Jim DeSelm (Michael – Guitar) was most recently seen as the title character in Bohemian Theatre Ensemble’s production of Floyd Collins. Other recent credits include A Catered Affair (Porchlight Music Theatre), Pump Boys & Dinettes (Theo Ubique, Jeff nomination – Music Direction), and Violet(Bailiwick Chicago).

Mary Ernster (Aunt Julia Morkan) makes her Court Theatre debut. Her Chicago credits include Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), Margaret in The Light in the Piazza, Anna in The King and I (Marriott Theatre), Emily in Wings and Lily in Man of No Importance (Apple Tree Theatre), Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (First Folio), Titania in Another Midsummer Night(Goodman Theatre) and Sylviane in The Merry Widow (Lyric Opera of Chicago). Television credits include Early Edition (CBS), Normal (HBO), and Love Hurts (ABC). She has received twelve Joseph Jefferson Award nominations, two Jeff Awards, and one After Dark Award.

Lara Filip (Molly Ivors) makes her Court Theatre debut with a piece so dear to her heart. Recently, she appeared at the Marriott Theatre as Enid in Legally Blonde and at the Paramount Theatre as The Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lara is also the Artistic Director for Arranmore Center for the Arts. As a singer/songwriter, she is in pre-production for an album with her band, Birdie Wing.

J. Michael Finley (Bartell D’Arcy) was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas but considers Lebanon, Missouri his hometown. He is a graduate of CCPA Roosevelt University. Recently, he appeared in Grease andHair at the Paramount Theatre, A Little Night Music at Writers’ Theater, The Christmas Schooner at the Mercury Theater, and Sweeney Todd at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace.

Rebecca Finnegan (Mrs. Malins) is a local Chicago actor. Her work has been seen at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Goodman Theatre, Timeline Theatre, Theo Ubique, Porchlight Music Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Marriott Theatre, and Light Opera Works. Regionally Rebecca has worked with Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Human Race Theater, Huntington Theatre, and Washington Shakespeare Theatre. She is a multiple Joseph Jefferson and After Dark Award nominee and recipient and is making her Court Theatre debut.

Suzanne Gillen (Lily – Flute) is a graduate flutist at DePaul University studying with Mary Stolper. Also a woodwind doubler and vocalist, her recent freelance work includes: City Lights Orchestra, Chicago Bach Ensemble, The Rivals (DePaul University), and numerous recording sessions for independent films. Notable masterclasses include: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Keith Underwood, and Yehudi Wyner.

Anne Gunn (Aunt Kate Morkan) has been in The Drowsy Chaperone, All Shook Up, Footloose, Bye, Bye Birdie, Damn Yankees, Baby, For the Boys, and The Taffetas (Marriott Theatre); Married Alive!and Side by Side by Sondheim (Pheasant Run Resort – Jeff nominated); The Pirates of Penzance,Sophisticated Ladies, and Guys and Dolls (Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace); Closer Than Ever, Merrily We Roll Along, and Assassins (Apple Tree Theater – Jeff nominated); Beehive (Briar Street Theatre);Evita (Candlelight Theater); and Hot Mikado (Drury Lane Evergreen Park).

Philip Earl Johnson (Gabriel Conroy) has appeared at Court Theatre in The Mystery Cycle (Jesus) and in the National tour of Angels in America (Joe). Other Chicago credits include Talking Pictures(Willis) at the Goodman Theatre, Old Glory (Peter) at Writers’ Theatre, The Big Meal (Man #2) at American Theater Company, Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Picasso) at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and The Herbal Bed (Rafe) at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Regional credits include Cyrano de Bergerac (Cyrano) at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Recent television credits include Chicago Fire (NBC) and Unemployed (MTV). Philip Earl Johnson has also performed for 23 years as MooNiE the Magnif’Cent.

Rachel Klippel (Rita/Young Julia) makes her Court Theatre debut. Other Chicago credits include The Light in the Piazza (Non-Equity Jeff nomination – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre); Sweeney Todd(Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace); Nunsense (Metropolis Performing Arts Center); Pinkalicious the Musical (Broadway in Chicago by Emerald City Theatre Company); Hello, Dolly!, Iolanthe, Yeoman of the Guard (Light Opera Works).

Regina Leslie (Mary Jane – Violin) was recently seen in the London-based tour of Barrie’s Peter Pan. Other acting credits include the national Equity tour of Scrooge: The Musical, The Quiet Man Tales at the Chicago Theatre Downstairs, A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre, Sketchfest at Collaboraction, and The Real Thing at Illinois Theatre Center. Regional credits include roles with The Ordway Center, Peninsula Players Theatre, and The Old Creamery. Regina plays violin with various ensembles, performing internationally and locally.

Rob Lindley (Freddie Malins) returns to Court Theatre having been seen in Angels in America, The Wild Duck, Caroline, or Change, and Carousel (Jeff nomination). Rob has also been seen in Candide(Goodman Theatre and Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C.); Cabaret (Drury Lane Oakbrook);Urinetown (Mercury Theatre); Wings (Apple Tree Theatre); A New Brain, Children of Eden, Closer Than Ever (Porchlight Music Theatre); Bach at Liepzig, Oh Coward! (Writers’ Theatre). Rob won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actor in a Revue for Oh Coward! and can be heard on the company’s CD Bright Young People. His vocal trio Foiled Again has won an After Dark Award and their debut CD Foiled Again: Live is available on iTunes and Upcoming projects include directing Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill at Porchlight Music Theatre, where he is an Artistic Associate.

Susie McMonagle (Greta Conroy) was last seen at Court Theatre in Man of La Mancha. She appeared on Broadway as Fantine in Les Miserables. First National tours include Billy Elliot. Other National tours include Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, and The Secret Garden. Chicago credits includeRock ‘n’ Roll (Goodman Theatre); Black Pearl Sings, At Wits End, and Sideshow (Northlight Theatre). Additional Chicago credits: Indian Ink, Dirty Blonde, Spitfire Grill, Annie Get Your Gun,Miss Saigon, Anything Goes, Cats, Evita, and Chess. She is the recipient of After Dark Awards, a Critic’s Circle Award, and nine Joseph Jefferson nominations. Her BFA is from Stephens College.

Steve Tomlitz (Mr. Brown – Cello) makes his Court Theatre debut. He was most recently seen in the David Cromer-directed production of Rent with American Theatre Company. Other Chicago credits include: Miracle on 34th Street and Ragtime with Porchlight Music Theatre, Hair with Tonkawa Theatre Tribe, Assassins with Boxer Rebellion Ensemble, and South Pacific at Metropolis Theatre.

Previews are November 8 – November 16, 2012. The opening press performance is on Saturday, November 17, 2012, at 8:00 p.m. Curtain times are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 3 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Ticket prices are $35 to $45 for preview performances; $45 to $65 for regular run performances. Tickets are available at the Box Office, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago; (773) 753-4472 or online Student and senior discounts available. Groups of 10 or more may purchase discounted tickets by calling Kate Vangeloff at 773-834-3243.

James Joyce’s “The Dead” is sponsored by Grant Thornton LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP.

Now in its 58th season, Court Theatre is guided by its mission to discover the power of classic theatre. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. Court revives lost masterpieces, illuminates familiar texts, and distinguishes fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.

Court Theatre is the professional theatre in residence at the University of Chicago continuing to discover the power of classic theatre. Court Theatre operates under an agreement between the League of Resident Theatres and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States. Productions are made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and by a City Arts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Court Theatre is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American Theatre; the League of Resident Theatres; the Illinois Humanities Council; the Arts Alliance Illinois; the League of Chicago Theatres; and Hyde Park Cultural Alliance.

James Joyce’s “The Dead”/ FACT SHEET

SYNOPSIS: Artistic Director Charles Newell and Music Director Doug Peck, whose professional collaborations include Porgy and Bess and Caroline, or Change, team up for a delightful reimagining of Court Theatre’s eccentric holiday classic, James Joyce’s “The Dead.” Filled with the warmth of a flickering hearth, the fervor of an Irish folk song, and the mystery of a snowy winter’s eve, this piece tells the tale of a group of family and friends as they gather to sing and dance in celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany in Dublin at the turn of the last century. Hauntingly beautiful and joyfully spirited, James Joyce’sThe Dead” offers a heartfelt accompaniment to the holiday season.

Title: James Joyce’s “The Dead”

Directed by: Charles Newell

Musical direction by: Doug Peck

Book by: Richard Nelson

Music by: Shaun Davey

Lyrics conceived

& adapted by: Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey

Featuring: Jim DeSelm (Michael – Guitar), Mary Ernster (Aunt Julia Morkan), Lara Filip (Molly Ivors), J. Michael Finley (Bartell D’Arcy), Rebecca Finnegan (Mrs. Malins),Suzanne Gillen (Lily – Flute), Anne Gunn (Aunt Kate Morkan), Philip Earl Johnson (Gabriel Conroy), Rachel Klippel (Rita/Young Julia),Regina Leslie (Mary Jane – Violin), Rob Lindley (Freddie Malins),Susie McMonagle (Greta Conroy), and Steve Tomlitz (Mr. Brown – Cello).

Dates: Previews: November 8 – November 16, 2012

Regular run: November 18 – December 9, 2012

Schedule: Wed & Thurs: 7:30 PM

Fridays: 8:00 PM

Saturdays: 3:00 PM & 8:00 PM

Sundays: 2:30 PM & 7:30 PM

Location: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.

Tickets: $35-$45 previews

$45-$65 regular run

Box Office: Located at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago; (773) 753-4472

or online


  • This marks the ninth collaboration between Artistic Director Charles Newell and Music Director Doug Peck at Court Theatre, having previously worked together on James Joyce’s “The Dead” (‘03-‘04 Season), Guys & Dolls (’03-’04), The Importance of Being Earnest(’04-’05), Man of La Mancha (’05-’06), Raisin (’06-’07), Carousel (‘07-‘08), Caroline, or Change (’08-’09), and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess(’11-’12).
  • This reimagined version of James Joyce’s “The Dead” features a new vision for the show from Charles Newell and Doug Peck, as well as entirely new production design elements and fresh musical arrangements and instrumentations performed by members of the cast.
  • Court Theatre first presented James Joyce’s “The Dead” as part of its 2002-2003 Season and revived the show the following season with Doug Peck on board as musical director (his first show at Court Theatre).
  • James Joyce’s “The Dead” premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in October 1999 with an opening night cast that included Blair Brown, Daisy Eagan, Marni Nixon, Alice Ripley, Emily Skinner, Stephen Spinella, and Christopher Walken. The production opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre on January 11, 2000, where it ran for 120 performances before closing on April 16, 2000.
  • The Broadway production was nominated for five Tony Awards in 2000 including Best Musical, Book of a Musical (Winner), Original Score, Leading Actor in a Musical (Christopher Walken) and Featured Actor in a Musical (Stephen Spinella).
  • “The Dead” was originally published in 1914 as part of Dubliners, a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce. The stories depict Irish middle class life in the early 20th century, with many of the characters reappearing in Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses.
  • In 1987, the short story “The Dead” was adapted into a film by John Huston, starring his daughter Anjelica Huston as “Mrs. Conroy.” The film – which was John Huston’s last – was nominated for two Academy Awards and later named to Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” list.