image002The Gift Theatre’s contemporary production ofOthello, starring Kareem Bandealy as Othello and artistic director and ensemble member Michael Patrick Thornton as villainous Iago, begins previews this Thursday, July 10. Directed by Jonathan Berry (Dirty), this marks The Gift Theatre’s first Shakespeare production ever mounted in its intimate 40-seat theater and Berry’s Shakespearean directorial debut. Othello runs July 17-August 24 at The Gift, www.thegifttheatre.org

“Kareem Bandealy is one of Chicago’s most esteemed actors. We first collaborated years ago on Julius Caesar for A Crew of Patches Theatre, and this reunion for Othello is as overdue as it is exciting. We’re ecstatic to welcome Kareem to The Gift,” says Thornton.

The Gift also announces today that for the last two weeks of Othello’s six-week run, August 13-24, Ensemble member Gabriel Franken (Mine, Broadsword) will step into the role of Iago. Thornton’s final performance will be on Sunday, August 10, after which he departs for Maryland to begin rehearsals for The Gift Ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker‘s world premiere of COLOSSAL at the Olney Theater. Franken begins the Othellorun in the role of Roderigo; the switch from Thornton to Franken will allow audiences a unique opportunity to experience a new take on a complex character during the run of one production.

Othello previews run July 10 – July 13 at the Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Opening night is Thursday, July 17. Press performance is Monday, July 14. The show runs Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through August 24. Single tickets, $20-$35, are available at www.thegifttheatre.org or by calling the box office at 773-283-7071. Subscriptions to the entire 2014 season start at $75.

Kareem Bandealy was born in Karachi, Pakistan, brought up in the USA, and received his BFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Central Florida. He is an Ensemble Member of American Theater Company, an Associate Artist of Silk Road Rising and a newly appointed Artistic Associate at Lookingglass Theatre Company. His Chicago theater credits include: The Wheel (Steppenwolf); Blood and Gifts (TimeLine); The Little Prince, the World Premiere of Keith Huff’s Big Lake, Big CityBengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison and Peter Pan (Lookingglass); Rock ’N’ RollGas for LessKing Lear (Goodman);  A Midsummer Night’s DreamEdward II and Romeo & Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); The Illusion (Court Theatre);Heartbreak House and The Caretaker (Writers Theatre);  It’s a Wonderful LifeOklahoma! (American Theater Company); The Real Thing (Remy Bumppo); Wedding Play (About Face); and Our EnemiesBack of the Throat,10 Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith (Silk Road Rising). Regional credits: The Merry Wives of WindsorThe Three MusketeersThe Tempest (Illinois Shakespeare Festival); Love’s Labour’s Lost (Notre Dame Summer Shakespeare Festival); Stuff HappensJulius Caesar (Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre); and four seasons at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. He has also appeared in commercials and feature films, and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association as well as SAG and AFTRA. In 2011, he received the 3Arts Artist Award.

Michael Patrick Thornton, artistic director and co-founder of The Gift Theatre, was recently seen on stage in Melissa Ross’s Thinner Than Water at The Gift, as well as the Actors Theater of Louisville’s presentation of Our Town and the Kennedy Center workshop of fellow Gift ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker’s Colossal. Previous stage credits include: the World Premiere of Hinderaker’s Dirty at The Gift, the U.S. Premiere of Absolute Hell at The Gift directed by fellow Gift ensemble member Sheldon Patinkin and the Midwest Premiere of Will Eno’s Middletown at Steppenwolf, directed by Les Waters. Michael directed the Chicago Premiere of Will Eno’s Oh, The Humanity (and other exclamations) at The Gift as well as Of Mice and Men at Steppenwolf. Other directing with The Gift includes: Prairie View, Night & Her Stars, Stop/Kiss; Santa’s Great American Depression Holiday Show! America; White People; Three Sisters; Long Day’s Journey Into Night; Hurlyburly (Joseph Jefferson Award: Actor In Leading Role); A Young Man In Pieces; Language Of Angels; County Fair; and Orestes 2.0. Other directing: the World Premieres of Sean Graney’s IS N UR B1UDS7REEM…and Mark Harvey Levine’s LA 8AM (Collaboraction Sketchbook) and Picasso At The Lapin Agile(Noble Fool). Michael was a very grateful assistant director on Steppenwolf’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County. In March 2015, he will appear in Will Eno’s one-man show Title & Deed at Lookingglass.

Gabriel Franken is a proud ensemble member at The Gift Theatre and has been grateful to be on stage forMineBroadswordThinner Than WaterNight and Her StarsAbsolute Hell and Northwest Highway. He has enjoyed working with Griffin, Chicago Dramatists, Pavement Group, The Building Stage, EX-Pats and New Leaf. Franken studied at Northwestern College in Iowa and was in the 2010 School at Steppenwolf pack. His debut at The Gift was cleaning up the gelatin used to emulate melted saints during intermissions for Lonesome West. Then he played seven characters in Night and Her Stars. He will next be seen in The Gift co-founder and ensemble member William Nedved’s Body & Blood, part of the gift’s all-premiere 2015 season.

About The Gift Theatre

The Gift Theatre is dedicated to telling great stories on stage with honesty and simplicity. Previous productions include: Thinner Than WaterTEN 2014Merry Christmas! (Stranger Things Have Happened): MineVigils;BroadswordTEN 2013; Natural Gas’ Jugband Christmas; Dirty; Oh, The Humanity (and other exclamations); Fact & Fiction; Absolute Hell; TEN; Cloud 9; Northwest Highway; Night and Her Stars; Get Behind Me, Santa!; Lonesome West; Suicide, Inc.; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestAlmost, Maine; Santa’s Great American Depression Holiday Show! (2009 & 2010); Summer People; The Ruby Sunrise; Talk Radio; Stop/Kiss; Natural Gas; Streamers; Wit ;The Last Days of Judas Iscariot; White People; Three Sisters; The Beauty Queen of Leenane; Blithe Spirit; 365 Days/365 Plays; The Halloween Show; Long Day’s Journey Into Night; The Glass Menagerie (Remount: Theatre on the Lake); The Good Thief; The Clearing; Hurlyburly; The Glass Menagerie; The Pavilion; A Young Man In Pieces; Language of Angels; 6; County Fair; The Countess; Alcatraz (Abbie Hoffman Festival); Orestes 2.0; Boys’ Life. The theater also sponsors the giftED Ensemble, a rigorous two-year afterschool course for creative and motivated high school students on Chicago’s Northwest side, and the literary program/Salon Series giftLIT.

The 2014 Season closes with the Chicago premiere of Laura Marks’ new drama Bethany, directed by Marti Lyons, September 25November 23.  Subscriptions for the entire 2014 season, which includes two Chicago premieres, are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers (“Gifters”) receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events.

The newly announced all-premiere 2015 season kicks off in March with the world premiere of Mat Smart’s intriguing and touching drama The Royal Society of Antarctica, directed by ensemble member Sheldon Patinkin. Director Marti Lyons (Mine) returns in July for The Gift’s world premiere of Body & Blood: a smart, searching and hilarious new play from The Gift co-founder and playwright of Northwest Highway, William Nedved. The Gift continues its remarkable relationship with renowned American playwright David Rabe (HurlyburlyStreamers) as Thornton directs his new full-length play Good for Otto which celebrates the aching wounds and tiny triumphs that make up a life, September 2015. January begins with TEN ten-minute play festival, curated by Thornton and associate artistic director Paul D’Addario. The season closes with holiday show, Untitled Santa Show by Natural Gas, The Gift’s house improv team. Subscribe athttp://thegifttheatre.org/ or call 773-283-7071.

The Gift Theatre is conveniently located at 4802 N. Milwaukee in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood, and is easily accessible by the CTA Blue Line, the Lawrence and Milwaukee Avenue buses and the Kennedy Expressway. For more information about The Gift Theatre’s productions and programs, visitwww.thegifttheatre.org.