Photo Flash: Goodman Theater's A TRUE HISTORY OF THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD
Rehearsals began the first week of February for Goodman Theatre's world premiere of A True History of the Johnstown Flood by Rebecca Gilman, whose work was most recently included in Time magazine's "Best Theatre Productions of the Decade." Commissioned by the Goodman and directed by Robert Falls, A True History of the Johnstown Flood runs March 13 – April 18, 2010 in the Goodman's Albert Theatre.
Tickets start at $25 and go on sale this Friday, February 5 at GoodmanTheatre.org. Gilman and Falls tapped eight actors to make this story come to life including Cliff Chamberlain, just off his Broadway debut in Superior Donuts. Joining Chamberlain are Chicago favorites Janet Ulrich Brooks (Golda Meir in Golda's Balcony at TimeLine), Sarah Charipar (Broadway's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), Stephen Louis Grush (Topdog/Underdog with American Theatre Company and Congo Square), Cedric Mays (Gem of the Ocean at the Guthrie), Randall Newsome (Broadway's Inherit the Wind and A Touch of the Poet; The Seafarer at Steppenwolf), Heather Wood (King Lear at New York Classical Theatre) and Lucas Hall (Othello at Theatre For A New Audience).
Five years after Hurricane Katrina and six years after the Indian Ocean Tsunami comes Rebecca Gilman's world premiere based on another major historical disaster—the Johnstown Flood of 1889. Inspired by the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina, A True History of the Johnstown Flood introduces us to The Baxter Theatre Troupe—comprised of siblings James (Stephen Louis Grush), Richard (Cliff Chamberlain) and Fanny (Heather Wood)—who have been summoned to perform at an exclusive resort next to a beautiful man-made lake in the Pennsylvania mountains. Although the troupe's repertoire consists of the romantic trifles typical of the era, James envisions a different kind of play, one that exposes the true struggles of common people. When a violent rainstorm compromises the lake's shoddily constructed dam, the resulting disaster lays bare the tragic inequities of the rigid class system-and paves the way for a seismic change in both theater and society.
A True History of the Johnstown Flood marks the fifth collaboration between award-winning Chicago playwright Rebecca Gilman and Tony Award-winning director, Robert Falls. Falls first encountered Rebecca Gilman in the late 1990s when he read one of her earlier pieces, The Glory of Living (a 2001 Pulitzer Prize finalist). Soon after, Falls commissioned Gilman to write a new play for the Goodman; she responded with the provocative, hard-hitting Spinning into Butter (1999 – now a feature film starring Sarah Jessica Parker). The show's run was extended three times and led to Gilman's next Goodman commission, Boy Gets Girl (2000), which transferred to New York's Manhattan Theatre Club and was recently named by Time magazine as one of the "Best Theatre Productions of the Decade." Falls and Gilman later teamed up for both Blue Surge (2001) and Dollhouse (2005), Gilman's modern interpretation of Ibsen's A Doll's House. Most recently Gilman's The Crowd You're In With (2009) made its Chicago debut at Goodman Theatre.
Rebecca Gilman (Playwright)'s plays include The Crowd You're In With, Dollhouse, Spinning Into Butter, Boy Gets Girl, Blue Surge, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Glory of Living. Her plays have been produced at Goodman Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, Joseph Papp's Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club and Manhattan Class Company. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Prince Prize for Commissioning New Work, The Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, The Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright and The George Devine Award. Gilman was named a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for her play The Glory of Living. She is an assistant professor of playwriting and screenwriting in the Master of Fine Arts Writing for the Screen and Stage program at Northwestern University.
Robert Falls (Director and Goodman Theatre Artistic Director) has been the artistic director of Goodman Theatre since 1986. From 1977 to 1985, he was the artistic director of Wisdom Bridge Theatre. Most recently, he revived his double-bill of Hughie and Krapp's Last Tape (with director Jennifer Tarver) starring Brian Dennehy. Prior to that, he revived his critically acclaimed 2006 Goodman production of King Lear for the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. after directing Desire Under the Elms on Broadway and for "A Global Exploration: Eugene O'Neill in the 21st Century" at the Goodman. Other recent productions include the Broadway revival of American Buffalo, Hughie for Long Wharf Theatre and Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Shining City for the Goodman and Huntington Theatre Company, the Tony-nominated Broadway revival of Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio, the world premiere of Richard Nelson's Frank's Home for the Goodman and Playwrights Horizons, the Tony-nominated American premiere of Shining City on Broadway, A Life in the Theatre for the Goodman and the London revival of Death of a Salesman. Falls' production of Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida for Walt Disney Theatricals ran on Broadway for four years and toured nationally and abroad. Two of his most highly acclaimed Broadway productions, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night (first staged at the Goodman) were honored with seven Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards. Previous Goodman credits include the world premieres of Arthur Miller's Finishing the Picture, Rebecca Gilman's Blue Surge and Dollhouse, Eric Bogosian's Griller, Louis Rosen and Thom Bishop's Book of the Night, Steve Tesich's The Speed of Darkness and On the Open Road and John Logan's Riverview: A Melodrama with Music; the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's House and Garden; the Midwest premieres of Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero and Edward Albee's The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?; as well as Galileo, The Iceman Cometh, A Touch of the Poet, Three Sisters, The Night of the Iguana, Landscape of the Body, The Misanthrope, Pal Joey and The Tempest. Elsewhere, Falls has directed Blue Surge at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, Horton Foote's Pulitzer Prize–winning The Young Man from Atlanta on Broadway (Tony-nominated transfer from the Goodman), the world premiere of Eric Bogosian's subUrbia at Lincoln Center Theater (Obie Award for Best Director), The Rose Tattoo for Circle in the Square (Tony-nominated), The Iceman Cometh at The Abbey Theatre in Dublin, On the Open Road at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, The Night of the Iguana at the Roundabout Theatre and The Food Chain at The Westside Theatre, as well as productions for the Guthrie Theater, Remains Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera and the Grande Théatre de Genéve. Honors received by Falls include: Human Spirit Award (Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis), Governor's Award for Outstanding Contributions by an Individual Artist (Illinois Arts Council), "Chicagoan of the Year" (Chicago magazine), Artistic Leadership Award (League of Chicago Theatres), election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (Lake Forest College), Special Jeff Award for Outstanding Contributions to Theatre and Chicago Illini of the Year Award (University of Illinois).
Tickets to A True History of the Johnstown Flood (starting at $25) go on sale Friday, February 5 (online at GoodmanTheatre.org) and Monday, February 8 (by phone at 312.443.3800). Season subscriptions and individual tickets can also be purchased at the box office (170 North Dearborn). Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX) day of performance; Mezztix are not available by telephone. 10Tix are $10 mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online on the day of performance; 10Tix are not available by telephone. Valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets. Limit four per student with I.D. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted Group Tickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820.
Photo credit: Liz Lauren
Lucas Hall and Heather Wood