Writers Theatre Premieres DAYS LIKE TODAY, Now thru 7/13

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Writers Theatre Premieres DAYS LIKE TODAY, Now thru 7/13

Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma announce Writers Theatre's World Premiere production of Days Like Today, with music and lyrics by Alan Schmuckler and book by Laura Eason, directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam, music direction by Doug Peck and choreography by Tommy Rapley. The production runs today, May 6-July 13, 2014 at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. The press opening is May 22, 2014 at 7:30pm.

Lovely, hopeful Tessa has vowed that she is through with love-despite the best efforts and conflicting advice of her parents (and their respective lovers). After all, it's never easy to move on before you've had time to heal. But when a handsome young stranger arrives, Tessa must decide whether the idea of love might still be one worth fighting for.

With soaring melodies and lyrics that are, by turns, witty, wry and heartbreakingly poignant, the musical explores what it takes to sustain a relationship in a world where love sometimes seems impossible-and how the first step in finding happiness might be getting out of your own way.

Artistic Director Michael Halberstam guides this thrilling new work of musical theatre by composer/lyricist Alan Schmuckler (We Three Lizas, The Emperor's New Clothes, How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back?) and playwright Laura Eason (Sex with Strangers, Ethan Frome, Around the World in 80 Days).

"I cannot think of a more fitting production to conclude our theatrical adventures at Tudor Court," said Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. "There is no greater challenge than the creation of a new musical. Laura and Alan have a truly remarkable partnership and a keen understanding of and deep personal commitment to the substance of the musical. Their creative output is a constant source of inspiration. Furthermore, the piece has been conceived with an innately theatrical vocabulary. We have a first-rate cast including some newcomers to Writers Theatre and some mainstays of the Chicago's musical theatre world. It has been a privilege working with this remarkable team on what promises to be a classic Writers Theatre production-carrying all the hallmarks of our 22-year history of celebrating the word and the artist - and on this occasion, with music."

The cast features Emily Berman (Tessa), Susie McMonagle (Maria), Will Mobley (James), Jeff Parker (Francois), Stephen Schellhardt (Edmund), Jonathan Weir (Frank) and Jarrod Zimmerman (Arnaud).

The design team includes: Scott Bradley , USA (Scenic Designer), Jenny Mannis, USA (Costume Designer), Jesse Klug, USA (Lighting Designer), Palmer Jankens (Sound Designer), Julie Eberhardt (Props Designer) and David Castellanos (Stage Manager).

Alan Schmuckler (Composer) was last seen at Writers Theatre on stage in the world premiere of the musical A Minister's Wife (Joseph Jefferson Award nominee). Additional credits include: The Emperor's New Clothes (Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Stage Artz Theatre Company, Sydney, AU - book by Dave Holstein); We Three Lizas (About Face Theatre at Steppenwolf Garage; Stage 773; Joe's Pub - book/lyrics by Scott Bradley); How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? (Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Marriott Theatre; Chicago Humanities Festival; Northwestern University; NAMT Festival; theaters and schools nationwide - co-book/music/ lyrics, Michael Mahler); Boyfred (pilot, Shoe Money Productions, Sony Television, ABC - co-music/lyrics, Michael Mahler, co-development, Blake Silver, Jarrod Zimmerman). Contributed music/lyrics: The 48 Hour Musicals (TMTC); Stars of David (DR2 Theatre), others. In concert: Alan Schmuckler: I Miss the City (Joe's Pub); with Mahler, Kennedy Center Millennium Stage; gigs with band The Lincoln Squares. Onstage: Murder for Two (Joseph Jefferson Award Nominee - Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Sugar (Joseph Jefferson Award Nominee - Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace). Off-Broadway: Nikolai and the Others (Lincoln Center Theater); Stars of David (DR2 Theatre); others. Proud graduate of Northwestern University, School at Steppenwolf.

Laura Eason (Bookwriter) is the author of twenty plays, including original work and adaptation, a musical bookwriter and screenwriter. Productions in 2014/2015 include Sex with Strangers at Second Stage, NYC; Brisbane Theatre, AU; Signature Theatre, D.C.; (previously at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Sydney Theatre, AU; published by Overlook Press); and Around the World in 80 Days at the New Vic and Royal Exchange in the UK (previously at Lookingglass Theatre; Baltimore Center Stage; Kansas City Repertory Theatre; published by Broadway Play Publishing), among others. She was a staff writer on season two and is currently a story editor on season three of the Emmy-winning Netflix show House of Cards. Laura is an Ensemble Member of Lookingglass Theatre (2011 Regional Tony Award) and served as Artistic Director for six years. In New York, she is a member of Rising Phoenix Rep, New Georges, and a Women's Project Playwright's Lab alumna. A longtime Chicagoan, she now lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Michael Halberstam (Artistic Director and Director) is the co-founder of Writers Theatre. He has directed over thirty-five productions for the company, including Not About Heroes (starring Nicholas Pennell), Private Lives, Look Back In Anger, Candida, The Father, Crime and Punishment, Benefactors, Seagull, The Duchess of Malfi, Othello, The Savannah Disputation, the world premiere musical A Minister's Wife, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, She Loves Me, The Real Thing, Hamlet and Sweet Charity. Halberstam has appeared in numerous Writers Theatre productions, including Richard II (title role), Loot and Misalliance. Previously, he spent two years at The Stratford Festival in Ontario and performed in Timon of Athens, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (title role), Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It. Halberstam's other Chicago acting credentials include productions with Wisdom Bridge, Court Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Elsewhere he directed The Gamester (Northlight Theatre), A Man For All Seasons (Peninsula Players Theatre), Hamlet (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Candida (Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York), Ten Little Indians (Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace), a highly acclaimed revival of Crime and Punishment, which Writers Theatre produced Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters in New York City, Enchanted April and State of the Union (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). In 2010 he directed A Minister's Wife at Lincoln Center Theater, and also directed the West Coast Premiere at San Jose Repertory Theatre in 2013. His forays into opera have included The Rape of Lucretia (Chicago Opera Theater), Francesca De Rimini featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and Le Freishutz, a Berlioz adaptation of the Weber opera conducted by Christoph Eschenbach in its North American Premiere (Ravinia Festival). He spent two and a half years teaching Shakespeare at The Theatre School at DePaul University and has received awards for excellence in theater management and/ or artistic achievement from The Chicago Drama League, The Arts & Business Council, Chicago Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and The Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival. He also received the 2010 Zelda Fichandler Award, the 2013 Artistic Achievement Award from the League of Chicago Theatres, and was named the Chicago Tribune's 2013 "Chicagoan of the Year" for Theater. He currently serves on the executive board of the Arts Club of Chicago.

Doug Peck (Music Director) worked on Sweet Charity last season here at Writers Theatre and prior to that on Oh, Coward! Peck is the winner of six Joseph Jefferson Awards (The Jungle Book, Porgy and Bess, Caroline, or Change, Carousel, Fiorello!, and Man of La Mancha) and two After Dark Awards (Guys and Dolls, Hello, Again). Other favorite projects include Dreamgirls, Animal Crackers, Shenandoah, Candide, Fiddler on the Roof, Hair, Cabaret, James Joyce's The Dead, A Catered Affair, Grey Gardens and Raisin. Peck's work has been heard in Chicago at Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, TimeLine Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Porchlight Music Theatre, and the Ravinia Festival. Regional credits include work at the Huntington Theatre Company, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, and Peninsula Players Theatre, among others. Mr. 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. For the Chicago Humanities Festival, he and his husband Rob Lindley have presented Assassins and Follies in concert, as well as the original concert evenings Birds Do It, Bees Do It and A Night at the Oscars, a chronological survey of every single song that has won the Academy Award. Mr. Peck is a graduate of Northwestern University and also trained at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He is a creative partner with the Goodman, an artistic associate with Porchlight Music Theatre, and a faculty member of the National High School Institute of the Arts. Doug's production of Juno is currently running at TimeLine Theatre, and he travels next to Cooperstown, NY to conduct Carousel at the Glimmerglass Opera.

Emily Berman (Tessa) makes her Writers Theatre debut in Days Like Today. Other Chicago credits include Blood Wedding (Pursuit Productions), It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play (Oil Lamp Theater) and understudy work at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Victory Gardens Theater. Regional credits include Assassins, The Diary of Anne Frank and Hum of the Arctic (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). Berman is a graduate of Milwaukee Repertory Theater's Artistic Internship program, and holds a BFA in acting from the University of Michigan.

Susie McMonagle (Maria) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Chicago credits include Gretta in James Joyce's The Dead, Man of La Mancha (Court Theatre), Candida in Rock 'n' Roll (Goodman Theatre), Suzannah in Black Pearl Sings, Jane Grant in At Wits End, Daisy in Sideshow (Northlight Theatre) and Diana in Next to Normal (Drury Lane Oakbrook). McMonagle has performed at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Drury Lane Oakbrook and Apple Tree Theatre. Additional Chicago credits include Flora in Indian Ink, Mae in Dirty Blonde, Shelby in Spitfire Grill, Annie in Annie Get Your Gun, Ellen in Miss Saigon, Reno in Anything Goes, Grizabella in Cats, Eva Perón in Evita and Florence in Chess. First National tours include Mrs. Wilkinson and Mum in Billy Elliot. Other National Tours include Donna in Mamma Mia!, Fantine in Les Miserables and The Secret Garden. McMonagle appeared on Broadway as Fantine in Les Miserables. She is a recipient of After Dark Awards, Critics' Circle Award, and eleven Joseph Jefferson nominations. She received her BFA from Stephens College.

Will Mobley (James) makes his Writers Theatre debut in Days Like Today and is thrilled to be a part of this production. Other credits include: Other Desert Cities (Arizona Theatre Company/Indiana Repertory Theatre); The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night, Richard III, The Admirable Crichton, The Taming of the Shrew, The Critic and Of Mice and Men (American Players Theatre); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Tour), Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice and Great Expectations (Utah Shakespeare Festival); and The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Artists Repertory Theatre). Mobley is a graduate of The Savannah College of Art and Design.

Jeff Parker (Francois) returns to Writers Theatre where he appeared last season in Sweet Charity. Recent credits include 1776 directed by Frank Galati (A.C.T./Asolo Repertory Theatre) and Young Frankenstein (Drury Lane Theatre). Chicago credits include Camino Real, Candide directed by Mary Zimmerman, Turn of the Century directed by Tommy Tune, Bounce directed by Harold Prince, The Beard of Avon, The Visit, Floyd Collins, The House of Martin Guerre (Goodman Theatre), The Brother/ Sister Plays directed by Tina Landau (Jeff Award-Best Ensemble) and Venus (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Nine, the musical (Joseph Jefferson Nomination Best Actor in a Musical, Porchlight Music Theatre), Cymbeline, As You Like It, Timon of Athens, The Three Musketeers (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Before My Eyes, View of the Dome, Bluff (Victory Gardens Theater) and Indian Ink (Apple Tree Theatre). Off-Broadway and regional credits include Candide (Huntington Theatre), My Fair Lady (Asolo Repertory Theatre), Boy Gets Girl (Manhattan Theatre Club), The American in Me (Magic Theatre) and Winesburg, Ohio (Kansas City Repertory Theatre). Television and film credits include Prison Break (Fox) and Early Edition (CBS) and the Independent Short Voice Lessons.

Stephen Schellhardt (Edmund / Dance Captain) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Most recently, Stephen was seen as the Emcee in Cabaret (Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire). Other Chicago highlights include A Grand Night for Singing (Mercury Theater), [title of show] (Northlight Theatre), KoKo in Hot Mikado (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination), Hello Dolly starring Karen Ziemba, and Lon Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis (Drury Lane Theatre), Herman opposite George Hearn in The Most Happy Fella (Ravinia Festival), Laurie in Little Women (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination) South Pacific, My One and Only, Les Miserables, Sam in Shenandoah (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination) and many other productions at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. National Tour: Altar Boyz. Regional credits include Little Women (Barrymore Award Nomination, Bristol Riverside Theatre), Lionel in Cinderella and Malcolm in The Full Monty opposite Sally Struthers (North Carolina Theatre), Motel in Fiddler on the Roof (West Virginia Public Theatre). International credits include Jane Austen's Persuasion at The Royal Winchester Theatre in England and the Shanklin Theatre on The Isle of Wight (Chamber Opera Chicago). Stephen is a proud graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama.

Jonathan Weir (Frank) returns to Writers Theatre for his tenth production. Writers Theatre credits include The Liar, A Little Night Music, Arms and the Man, Bach at Leipzig, The Doctor's Dilemma, Misalliance, The Father, Booth and Incident at Vichy. Chicago credits include appearances at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theatre and Apple Tree Theatre. Regional credits include Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC, Skylight Theatre and Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee. Weir performed the role of Gyp DeCarlo and others in the Chicago company of Jersey Boys as well as Scar and Pumbaa in both the first and second national tours of Disney's The Lion King. He is an adjunct professor of theatre in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Loyola University Chicago.

Jarrod Zimmerman (Arnaud) returns to Writers Theatre where he was last seen as Oscar in Sweet Charity. Since then, he worked with Michael Halberstam in A Minister's Wife (San Jose Repertory Theatre), and reprised his role as Edward Rutledge in a remount of Frank Galati's 1776 (American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco), having performed the role at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota the year before. Chicago credits include: A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), Shakespeare in the Parks: The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Merrily We Roll Along (The Music Theatre Company) and Little Women (Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire). Regional credits include: A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine (Peninsula Players), Big! The Musical, Proof, The Mousetrap and Arsenic and Old Lace (Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre). Television credits include: Boss (Starz). Zimmerman is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Curtain times are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30pm; Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 4:00pm and 8:00 pm; Sundays at 2:00pm and 6:00pm. Select Wednesday matinees are at 2pm. Tickets are $35-$75 and are available at the Box Office, 321 Park Avenue, Glencoe; 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org.

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