Grey Gardens to open at Northlight Theatre

October 30
7:00 2008

Tony Award-winning musical
Grey Gardens
directed by Artistic Director BJ Jones with musical direction by Doug Peck
to open at Northlight Theatre

Due to pre-sale demand, production dates extended for an additional week Nov 12-Dec 28, 2008

Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans announce the Chicago premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical Grey Gardens, book by Doug Wright, lyrics by Michael Korie and music by Scott Frankel.  The production, directed by BJ Jones with musical direction by Doug Peck, choreography by Marla Lampert and featuring Hollis Resnik, Tempe Thomas and Ann Whitney, has already been extended and will now run November 12-December 28, 2008, at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie.

This brand new musical comes to Chicago after its 2007 Tony Award-winning Broadway run, giving Northlight audiences the chance to rub elbows with Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter "Little Edie," Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' most scandalous relatives!  Once the highest of high society, the two have become East Hampton's most notorious recluses, living in a dilapidated 28-room mansion with 51 cats for company.  Set in two eras—1941 when the celebrated estate was the picture of wealth and sophistication, and 1973 after it had been reduced to squalor—Grey Gardens is a brilliant and heartbreaking look at two indomitable women.

“Edith and Edie Beale have become iconic figures in our culture thanks to the Grey Gardens documentary film. But beyond the exploitation factor that has grown up around them, is the resilient dignity of these two eccentric women, shunned by the world and clinging to each other in the eye of the hurricane that is their life,” says BJ Jones.  “Grey Gardens is both a musical and a performance piece, daring to blend styles, and explode form. In our continuing effort to challenge our audience, Grey Gardens will reward them with this tale of quirky humanity; a mother-daughter love story like nothing they have ever experienced.”

The Grey Gardens cast includes: Sean Blake (Brooks Sr., Brooks Jr.), George Keating (George Gould Strong), Dennis Kelly (Major Bouvier, Norman Vincent Peale), Hollis Resnik (Edith, act I; Little Edie, act II), Patrick Sarb (JP Kennedy, Jerry), Tempe Thomas (Little Edie, act I) and Ann Whitney (Edith Bouvier Beale, act II).  Arielle Leigh Dayan plays Lee Bouvier and Grace Etzkorn is Jackie Bouvier.

The designers are John Culbert (set), Jacqueline Firkins (costumes), JR Lederle (lights), Cecil Averett (sound) and Kate Brown (props).  The jewelry designer is Ayla Phillips of Ayla’s Originals in Evanston.  The stage manager is Rita Vreeland.  The assistant director is Brian LaDuca and the dramaturg is Meghan McCarthy.  The orchestra is yet to be announced.

BJ Jones (Director/Northlight Artistic Director) is in his 11th year as Artistic Director of Chicago’s Northlight Theatre, where he has piloted the world premieres of Craig Wright’s Lady, Better Late (co-written by Larry Gelbart & Craig Wright, starring John Mahoney), Rounding Third, Sky Girls and Cat Feet.  As a producer he guided the world premieres of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, The Gamester, and Stud’s Terkel’s ‘The Good War.’   Mr. Jones has directed at Steppenwolf, Intiman Theatre in Seattle, Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, The Utah Shakespearean Festival, The Asolo Theatre in Sarasota, and Next Theatre in Evanston.  Directorial work includes Northlight’s The Lady with All the Answers, The Retreat From Moscow, A Skull in Connemara, The Cripple of Innishmaan, and An Experiment With an Airpump, as well as A Number, Twelfth Night, Glengarry Glen Ross (Suzie Bass Nominee - Best Director), Pygmalion, The Price (Jeff Nomination - Best Director,) and 100 Saints You Should Know.  A two-time Jeff Award winner, he has appeared at Northlight in dozens of productions and has performed at virtually every major theatre in Chicago, including The Goodman in The Guys and House and Garden, Steppenwolf in The Royal Family and Playboy of the Western World, and Court in Candide and Comedy of Errors.   Film/TV credits include The Fugitive, Body Double, Law and Order Criminal Intent, Early Edition, Cupid and Turks, among others.

Doug Peck (Musical Director and Orchestral Reductions), making his Northlight Theatre debut, was most recently Musical Director and Orchestrator of the highly-acclaimed production of Caroline, or Change at Court Theatre.  He won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Musical Direction for Court’s production of Man of La Mancha, which he also conducted at Connecticut’s Long Wharf Theatre.  He received a Jeff Citation for TimeLine’s production of Fiorello!  Other Court credits include Carousel, Raisin, Guys and Dolls (After Dark Award), James Joyce’s “The Dead,” and The Importance of Being Earnest.  Other Chicago credits include Little Women, Shenandoah (Jeff nomination), The All Night Strut (Jeff nomination), State Fair, and Marc Robin’s Beauty and the Beast and The Nutcracker for Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire; Dessa Rose (Jeff nomination) and Hello Again (Jeff nomination, After Dark Award) at Apple Tree Theatre; The Most Happy Fella at the Ravinia Festival; Seussical! at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; Into the Woods at Peninsula Players; I Do! I Do! at American Theatre Company; and Assassins and the revues After Sondheim: Broadway’s New School of Composers, Hit Factory: Songs of the Brill Building, and Affinity: Chicago Sings William Finn for Porchlight Music Theatre.  Doug was musical director at Wagon Wheel Theatre in Warsaw, Indiana, for four seasons.  He also played keyboards for About Face Theatre’s production of Stephen Flaherty and Frank Galati’s Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein, including the original cast album.  He is a Northwestern University graduate who also trained at Interlochen Center for the Arts.  He resides in Chicago, where he is also active as a voice teacher, vocal coach, and cabaret pianist, most notably with the acclaimed vocal trio Foiled Again, in addition to serving as musical director for Unity in Lincoln Park.

Sean Blake (Brooks Sr. /Brooks Jr. /Dance Capt) previously appeared at Northlight in Everything’s Ducky.  He was the swing, Dance Captain and Associate Choreographer for Showboat in Sydney, Australia.  Locally, he has been seen at Goodman, Court, Drury Lane Oakbrook and Marriott Lincolnshire.  He has also appeared at Seattle Rep (Birdie Blue), Long Wharf Theatre (Carousel, Man of La Mancha) and The Kennedy Center (Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince’s Bounce).  Sean has been nominated for 2 Jeff Awards and 2 Black Theatre Alliance Awards.

George Keating (George Gould Strong) previously appeared at Northlight in The Good War, At Wit’s End and Everything’s Ducky.  He has appeared at Drury Lane, Marriott Lincolnshire, Court Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare and the American Music Theater Project.  He toured nationally with Scrooge The Musical, starring Richard Chamberlain and appeared at The International Mystery Writers’ Festival where he won the 2007 Angela Lansbury Award for Best Supporting Actor.  George received a BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, and is the co-creator of Theatrebam Chicago’s Schoolhouse Rock Live! (off-Broadway, three national tours and Chicago venues).

Dennis Kelly (Major Bouvier/Norman Vincent Peale) has played leading roles on Broadway in Into The Woods, Annie Get Your Gun and Damn Yankees and Off-Broadway in Suburb and Music in the Air.  He toured the country in Urinetown, Jekyll & Hyde and Damn Yankees and has performed regionally at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Goodspeed, Old Globe, A.C.T., Pittsburgh Playhouse, and San Diego C.L.O., among others.  Chicago area productions include Caroline, or Change (Court Theatre); A Bench in the Sun (Apple Tree); Knute Rockne – All American (Theatre at the Center); Cymbeline (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); and Phantom! (After Dark & Artisan Awards), La Cage aux Folles (After Dark Award) and Follies at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse. 
Hollis Resnik (Edith/Little Edie) returns to Northlight where she has appeared in Enter the Guardsman and The Immigrant.  Recent credits include Dangerous Beauty at Northwestern, Carousel at Court and Long Wharf, and Pen at Appletree.  Other Court Theatre appearances include Titus Andronicus, Man of La Mancha, The Little Foxes, Travesties, The Dead, The Chairs, The Cherry Orchard, An Ideal Husband and The Misanthrope.  She has appeared at Writers, Marriott Lincolnshire, Apollo, Goodman, Ravinia, Lyric Opera and the CSO in such varied productions as Sweeney Todd, A Soldier’s Tale, Rough Crossing, Beard of Avon, A Little Night Music, Mame and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.  National tours include Les Miserables, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  She has also appeared at Indiana Rep, Santa Fe Stages, The Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Milwaukee Rep, and most recently as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire for Cleveland Playhouse and as Lane in The Clean House for Mixed Blood Theatre (Minneapolis).  She is the recipient of nine Jeff Awards and the Sarah Siddons Award for Piaf.  She has a CD entitled Make Someone Happy.

Patrick Sarb (JP Kennedy/Jerry) makes his Northlight debut in Grey Gardens.  Most recently, Patrick appeared as Edwin in Unlock’d at Ravinia, Bertram in All’s Well That Ends Well, and Lucentio in Taming of the Shrew with Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre.  Prior to that, he played Sky in the Vegas company of Mamma Mia! after understudying the role as an ensemble member of the Broadway company.  His Chicago credits include Charlie in Tintypes at American Theatre Company, Queen’s Attendant in The Beard of Avon at The Goodman, Synonymous in Xena Lives! The Musical with About Face, George Willard in Winesburg, Ohio at Steppenwolf, Patrick in Undone with About Face, and Huck Finn in Big River at The Apple Tree Theatre. Patrick is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Tempe Thomas (Little Edie) makes her Northlight debut in Grey Gardens.  Favorite roles include Marty in Grease and Estelle in Full Monty (Marriott Lincolnshire), Maria Elena in The Buddy Holly Story (Drury Lane Oakbrook and Water Tower), Percy in Spitfire Grill (Provision Theatre), and Brooke in Water Coolers (Lakeshore Theatre, Riverfront Theatre).  She has toured with Classical Kids Live in their production of Tchaikovsky Discovers America and appeared in the New York Music Theatre Festival production of River's End (TAM Award Winner).  She is a graduate of Northwestern University

Ann Whitney
(Edith Bouvier Beale) previously appeared at Northlight in The Cripple of Inishmaan, Quilters and Driving Miss Daisy, for which she received The Sarah Siddons Society Award for her performance in the title role.  She has appeared in Little Women, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, Eleanor, Oklahoma!, and Me and My Girl at the Marriott Theatre; Wit at Actors Theatre in Louisville; Fossils in Sacramento; as well as at Apple Tree, American Theatre Company, Court, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Goodman, Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens.  She is a seven-time Jeff Award nominee and a Jeff Award winner for her portrayal of Mrs. Fraser in Steppenwolf’s Stepping Out.

Tickets for Grey Gardens, range in price from $25- $59 and are available by phone, (847) 673-6300, or online at The Box Office is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, in Skokie.  Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. On performance days, the box office hours are extended through showtime. The Box Office is closed on Sundays, except on performance days when it is open two hours prior to showtime.

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by Peter Danish