Sara Gmitter's IN THE GARDEN: A DARWINIAN LOVE STORY Makes World Premiere at Lookingglass Theatre, Now thru 6/15

Sara Gmitter's IN THE GARDEN: A DARWINIAN LOVE STORY Makes World Premiere at Lookingglass Theatre, Now thru 6/15

Continuing its 26th Season, Lookingglass Theatre Company presents the World Premiere of In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story, by Artistic Associate Sara Gmitter and directed by Jessica Thebus. In the Garden runs today, April 16 - June 15, 2014 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. The Press Opening is Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 7:30 p.m..

Long before The Origin of Species will forever change the world, Charles Darwin meets Emma Wedgewood and they forever change each other. In the space between science and faith, they find an unexpected and unlikely romance.

In the Garden chronicles the struggle of two fiercely independent individuals, divided by ideology but united by a fire that fuels a passionate lifelong debate: evolution vs. salvation. Only by embracing this duality can they possibly navigate the struggles, triumphs, losses and discoveries that await.

"Lookingglass Artistic Associate Sara Gmitter has crafted one of those rare plays that offers an extraordinarily powerful combination: an achingly beautiful love story that also happens to be completely topical. Darwin's writings are some of the most significant and influential in human history, and continue to engender heated debate in this country; that they were also a subject of loving, if sometimes contentious, debate within his own household is a story I know our audiences are going to find fascinating, relevant and thoroughly gripping," says Artistic Director Andrew White.

The cast includes Ensemble Member Andrew White (Charles Darwin) with Jonathan Babbo (Young Charles and others), Cindy Gold (Harriet and others), Caroline Heffernan (Young Emma and others), Rebecca Spence (Emma Darwin) and Austin Tichenor (Dr. Darwin and others).

The creative team for In the Garden includes Collette Pollard (Scenic Designer), Mara Blumenfeld (Costume Designer/Ensemble Member), JR Lederle (Lighting Designer), Sarah Burnham (Properties Designer), Tess Golden (Production Stage Manager) and Jeri Frederickson (Assistant Stage Manager).

Tickets are now on sale to the public at the Lookingglass box office, located at Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., online at www.lookingglasstheatre.org and by phone at (312) 337-0665.

John Francis Babbo (Young Charles and others) makes his Lookingglass debut with In the Garden. Theatre credits include: A Christmas Story, the Musical (Broadway and National Tour) Oliver, Gypsy, and Sweeney Todd (Drury Lane Theatre), Beauty and the Beast (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), Night and Day (Remy Bumppo), and Medea (Merle Reskin Theatre). Television credits include: a recurring role on "Chicago Fire" (NBC), 67th Annual Tony Awards (CBS), "Deadbeat" (Hulu), and "UnderEmployed" (MTV).

Cindy Gold (Harriet and others) Chicago area performances include Measure for Measure at the Goodman, directed by Robert Falls, and Awake and Sing at Northlight, directed by Amy Morton. Cindy performed in Showboat at the Lyric Opera, Chicago and Washington, D.C. National Opera at the Kennedy Center, directed by Francesca Zambello. She won a Jeff Award for playing Gertrude Stein in Frank Galati and Stephen Flaherty's new musical, Loving Repeating, with About Face/MCA. Other Chicago credits include: Love Loss and What I Wore, Broadway in Chicago; Pride and Prejudice and Jekyll and Hyde at Northlight Theatre; and Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations workshop with About Face and Tectonic Theatre. Cindy appeared in The Music Man at Glimmerglass Opera Company, both in New York and at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman. She was recently seen in the television drama, "Chicago Fire," and the pilot episode of TNT's new show, "Leverage." She is Associate Professor and Head of the Acting program at Northwestern University Department of Theatre.

Caroline Heffernan (Young Emma and others) makes her Lookingglass debut. Other Chicago credits include Young Louise in Gypsy and Young Fiona/Ugly Duckling in Shrek the Musical at (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Jane Banks in Mary Poppins (Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre); Annie in Annie (Paramount Theatre); Young Kim in Showboat (Chicago Lyric Opera); Skilling's daughter in Enron (TimeLine Theatre); Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird (Steppenwolf Theatre); two seasons as Emily Cratchit in A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre); Leah in Wonders Never Cease (Provision Theatre); and Jenny in Rhymes with Evil (Infusion Theatre Company). Commercial credits include Flintstones Vitamins, Guaranty Bank and Kellogg's Eggo Waffles. Caroline received an outstanding actress award in Collaboraction Sketchbook, Chicago's annual festival of plays and has participated in multiple staged readings with Chicago Dramatists. She is also an award winning USAG gymnast.

Rebecca Spence (Emma) makes her Lookingglass debut with In the Garden. Theatre credits include: Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West (TimeLine Theatre Company); This (Theatre Wit); The Voysey Inheritance, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Remy Bumppo -Equity Jeff Nom.); The Crucible, Household Spirits, Our Lady of 121st Street, Pacific (Steppenwolf Theatre); Twelfth Night (Noble Fool Theatricals); Dracula (Defiant Theatre); Cyrano (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre). She is an ensemble member of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble where she appeared in Wrens and These Shining Lives (Equity Jeff Nomination). Film Credits: Man of Steel, Fools, Tiger Tail in Blue, One Small Hitch, Contagion, The Dilemma, Audrey the Trainwreck, Earthling, Public Enemies, Grace is Gone and The Break-Up. Television Credits: "Crisis" (NBC), "Betrayal" (ABC), "Boss" (STARZ), "The Mob Doctor" (FOX), "Detroit 1-8-7" (ABC), "The Chicago Code" (FOX), "The Beast" (A&E) and "Prison Break" (FOX).

Austin Tichenor (Dr. Darwin and others) makes his Lookingglass and Chicago debuts. As co-Managing Partner of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, Austin co-creates their signature "Complete (abridged)" comedies (most recently the world premiere of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park) and has performed with them off-Broadway, in London, on PBS with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and around the world. TV credits include recurring roles on "Alias," "24," "The Practice," "Ally McBeal," and "Felicity;" and various guys in ties on "The West Wing," "ER," "The X-Files," and shows like them. He produces and hosts the weekly Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast.

Andrew White (Charles/Artistic Director/Ensemble Member) has participated as an actor, writer or director in more than thirty Lookingglass productions, most recently appearing in Ethan Frome. He wrote the book and lyrics for Eastland: A New Musical, received a Joseph Jefferson Award for his 2004 adaptation of George Orwell's 1984, and wrote and directed Of One Blood in 1989. He has taught in various Lookingglass Outreach programs and residencies, and co-founded Mosaic Experience, a company which uses an arts-based approach to dialogue about diversity.

Sara Gmitter (Playwright/Artistic Associate) After 15 years of working behind the scenes at Lookingglass as a stage manager, teaching artist, and director for the Lookingglass Young Ensemble, Sara makes her main stage debut as a playwright of In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story. Previous playwriting credits include Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy (New Suit Theatre Company), co-written with Jason Burkett, adapted from the film by Dr. Randy Olson; and A Long Fatal Love Chase (Powerhouse Theatre Company) adapted from the novel by Louisa May Alcott.

Her short story, "Harold" has been heard on WBEZ's Stories on Stage and another short story, "Breakfast with Strangers" won the Editor's Choice award in the E.M. Koeppel Short Fiction competition. She earned a BA in Theatre from the College of William and Mary and an MA in Peace Education from the UN mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica.

Jessica Thebus (Director) is delighted to return to Lookingglass where she previously directed They All Fall Down and Our Town (with Anna D. Shapiro). She's most recently directed Buzzer, by Tracy Scott Wilson at the Goodman, where she's also directed Sarah Ruhl's Stage Kiss (world premiere) and also Ruhl's The Clean House. With Steppenwolf Theatre Company she has directed Sex with Strangers, Intimate Apparel, Dead Man's Cell Phone, No Place Like Home, When the Messenger is Hot (also at 59 E. 59th in NYC) and Sonia Flew. Recent credits: Welcome Home Jenny Sutter (Next Theatre); As You Like It (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); The Feast: an intimate Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare Theater with Redmoon Theater). She is currently a Professor in the Directing Program at Northwestern University.

The Exclusive Corporate Sponsor of In the Garden: A Darwinian Love story is United Airlines. Production Sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, and The Pauls Foundation. Community Conversation Panels are sponsored by Betsy and Jim Benoit on behalf of the STS Foundation. Individual Consortium Donors include Leigh and Henry Bienen, Rachel Kraft, and Lee and Sandy Golub.

About Lookingglass Theatre Company: Inventive. Collaborative. Transformative. Lookingglass Theatre Company, recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award, was founded in 1988 by eight Northwestern University students. Now in its 26th season, Lookingglass is home to a multi-disciplined ensemble of artists who create story-centered theatrical work that is physical, aurally rich and visually metaphoric. The Company has staged 61 world premieres, received 101 Joseph Jefferson awards and nominations, and work premiered at Lookingglass has been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Princeton, Hartford, Kansas City, Washington D.C., and St. Louis. Lookingglass original scripts have been produced across the United States.

The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago's landmark Water Tower Water Works opened in June 2003. In addition to developing and presenting ensemble work, Lookingglass Education and Community programs encourage creativity, teamwork and confidence with thousands of community members each year.

Lookingglass Theatre Company continues to expand its artistic, financial and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Andrew White, Executive Director Rachel Kraft, Producing Artistic Director Philip R. Smith, Artistic Director of New Work Heidi Stillman, a 24-member artistic ensemble, 15 artistic associates, 11 production affiliates, an administrative staff and a dedicated board of directors led by Chairman Joe Brady of Jones Lang LaSalle and President John McGowan of Northern Trust Chicago. For more information, visit lookingglasstheatre.org.

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