Ghee, Hewitt & Boggess to Star in MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL at Goodman Theatre

The world-premiere production of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil appears June 25 - August 4, 2024.

By: Mar. 25, 2024
Ghee, Hewitt & Boggess to Star in MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL at Goodman Theatre
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Goodman Theatre has revealed the initial cast for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—a new musical based on John Berendt’s iconic non-fiction book that makes its world premiere in the 856-seat Albert Theatre this summer. The Goodman will welcome Tony- and Grammy-Award winning actor J. Harrison Ghee in the role of The Lady Chablis; Tony Award nominee Tom Hewitt as Jim Williams; and Olivier Award nominee Sierra Boggess as Emma Dawes. The complete cast will be announced soon. With a book by MacArthur “Genius” Grantee Taylor Mac and music and lyrics by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, the world-premiere production will be directed by Tony Award winner Rob Ashford, with choreography by Tanya Birl, sets by Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram and costumes by Tony Award nominee Toni-Leslie James. Casting is by Lauren Port, CSA and The Telsey Office/Patrick Goodwin, CSA. 

The world-premiere production of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil appears June 25 - August 4, 2024 in the 856-seat Albert Theatre. Tickets ($25 – 140) are on sale this Friday, March 29; call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Midnight.Goodman.

John Berendt’s 1994 blockbuster book, a Pulitzer-Prize finalist that was on the New York Times Best-Seller list for 216 weeks and was adapted for Clint Eastwood's 1997 film of the same name, becomes a seductive new musical. Southern charm is bountiful in Savannah, Georgia. But behind polite smiles, the eccentric residents are filled with secrets and motives. When wealthy antiques dealer Jim Williams is accused of murder, the sensational trial uncovers hidden truths and exposes the fine line between good and evil — which sparks Lady Chablis and other Savannahians to change the city forever.

“I’m very excited about the cast we’ve assembled led by Broadway stars J. Harrison Ghee, Tom Hewitt and Sierra Boggess,” said Director Rob Ashford. “It’s an honor to welcome three such talented artists to the company as we set out to create a very special production for Chicago audiences.” 

ABOUT THE CAST

J. Harrison Ghee

(The Lady Chablis), Tony and Grammy Award winner, made history as the first non-binary actor to win in a leading individual performance category for creating the role as “Daphne/Jerry” in Some Like it Hot, which also garnered them Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Also on Broadway, Ghee starred as “Lola” Kinky Boots, created the role of “Andre Mayhem” in Mrs. Doubtfire, and co-starred opposite Harry Connick, Jr. as “Johnny Hooker” in The Sting. On television, Ghee was selected to play the title role in “Robyn’s Story” on the hit FOX anthology series Accused(dir. Billy Porter), starred as “Kwame” in Netflix’s Raising Dion, and guest starred on HBO’s High Maintenance. A Fayetteville, North Carolina native, Ghee moved to New York City to study at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and began their professional career working at Tokyo Disney, on cruise ships and national tours. They live by the mantra, “You have to free yourself to see yourself,” with the hope of inspiring people to dream big and to chase those dreams. An outspoken advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, Ghee has been involved with many organizations, including Broadway Cares, GLAAD, and God’s Love We Deliver, among others. They hope to create roles and conversations that reach beyond what was and into a realm of infinite possibilities.  

Tom Hewitt 

(Jim Williams)’s Broadway bad guys include Hades, Billy Flynn, Scar, Dracula, Pontius Pilate, Captain Hook and Frank N Furter (Tony and Drama Desk nominations). His Off Broadway credits include Aaron Marks’ Another Medea, Treasure Island, Jeffery, Beau Jest (Outer Critics nomination), Richard III and Othello. National tours: Finding Neverland, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Urinetown, Chicago and Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby. His recent regional credits include Sweeney Todd and Another Medea (Provincetown Theatre), I Hate Hamlet (Bucks County), My Paris (Long Wharf), Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (La Jolla Playhouse). Film and TV includes Law and Order, Elementary, Frasier and Julie Taymor’s Fools’ Fire. 

Sierra Boggess 

(Emma Dawes) has been seen on Broadway in Harmony, School Of Rock, It Shoulda Been You, two separate engagements of The Phantom of the Opera (the first for the show’s 25th Anniversary and the second opposite Norm Lewis), the revival of Master Class (opposite Tyne Daly) and The Little Mermaid (Drama Desk and Drama League nominations, Broadway.com Audience Choice Award). London credits include Les Misérables, the 25th-anniversary concerts of The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall and Love Never Dies (Olivier Award nomination). Other New York credits include The Good-bye Girl, the off-Broadway premiere of Harmony, Manhattan Concert Productions’ The Secret Garden at Lincoln Center; the one-night-only concert of Guys & Dolls at Carnegie Hall opposite Nathan Lane, Patrick Wilson and Megan Mullally; the final Off-Broadway cast of Love, Loss, and What I Wore; and Music in the Air at Encores! Film/TV includes Vulture Club with Susan Sarandon and the web series What’s Your Emergency, directed by Michael Urie. Recordings include the complete studio recording of  Oklahoma, School Of Rock, It Shoulda Been You, the 25th anniversary concert of The Phantom of the Opera (also on DVD), the symphonic recording of Love Never Dies, The Little Mermaid, and Andrew Lippa’s A Little Princess. She has toured all over the world across Australia, Japan, Paris and London with her concert show, which has been preserved live and released on CD, Awakening: Live at 54 Below. She recently released an album of duets with Julian Ovenden made during the pandemic entitled Together At A Distance.  

ABOUT THE CREATORS

Rob Ashford 

(Director): “I am a huge fan of John Berendt’s terrific book—and of its star, the beautiful city of Savannah! When asked if I’d be interested in helping tell that story on stage, I pinched myself and then said ‘absolutely!’ I can’t imagine anyone bringing these unique and wonderful characters to life in words and music better than Taylor Mac and Jason Robert Brown.” Ashford is a Tony Award, Olivier Award, Emmy Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning director and choreographer. Broadway credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Frozen, How To Succeed In Business, Promises, Promises, Evita, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek, John Water’s Cry Baby, Curtains and The Wedding Singer. London credits include The Winter’s Tale, Romeo & Juliet, The Entertainer, Harlequinade, Macbeth, Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and the Olivier Award-winning productions of Anna Christie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Parade. He directed and choreographed NBC’s “Sound of Music Live!” and “Peter Pan Live!”. He directed and choreographed Carousel, Carmen, & The Barber of Seville for Chicago Lyric Opera and Houston Grand Opera and choreographed Candide at La Scala, ENO, and Chatelet in Paris. He choreographed and staged the 2009, 2013, 2014, & 2015 Academy Awards winning an Emmy for his work on Baz Luhrmann’s 2009 production number featuring Hugh Jackman and Beyonce. He has staged The Tony Awards for eight years and has also staged tributes at The Kennedy Center Honors for Barbra Streisand, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jerry Herman, Barbara Cook, Tom Hanks, Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep. Films include choreography for Disney’s Cinderella, Beyond the Sea, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Ted 2, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. 

Taylor Mac 

(Book): “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was a seminal book for me as a young queer person, coming out in the late 1980s and early 90s. The eccentricities of Savannah, and how they were celebrated by such a large readership, seemed to say, the things that made me odd and an outcast in the world were actually things I should cherish. Likewise, musical theater has always had a similar effect on me. Singing our thoughts is such an eccentric way of expressing ourselves—yet so perfectly aligned with my personal liberation and joy. So turning Midnight into a musical, and with such master craftspeople as Jason, Rob and Tanya is essentially an extension of celebrating the joy and liberation from exposing what’s hidden.” Mac is a MacArthur Fellow, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, a Tony Award Nominee (for Best Play), and the recipient of the Kennedy Prize (with Matt Ray), the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Guggenheim, a Drama League Award, a NY Drama Critics Circle Award, two Obie’s, two Bessies, and the first American to receive the International Ibsen Award. Mac is the author of Joy and Pandemic (Huntington Theater); The Hang (with Matt Ray); Gary, A Sequel to Titus Andronicus; A 24-Decade History of Popular Music; Hir; The Fre, The Walk Across America For Mother Earth, The Lily’s Revenge; The Young Ladies Of; and The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac. The documentary Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music recently premiered on HBO to critical acclaim. 

Jason Robert Brown

(Music and Lyrics): “When I am deciding to start a new show, the two most important questions I ask myself are: 1) Does it sing? and 2) Do I get to work with fun people? With Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I knew the answers to both questions immediately. The book’s milieu, so rich with mystery and romance and history, sings with every sentence, deeply passionate, slyly comic, emotions threatening to boil over on every page. And to work with Rob Ashford, whose transformative production of Parade at The Donmar Warehouse in 2007 reinvigorated not only the show’s reputation but my creative process, was a no-brainer. But then add to that the brilliant, joyful, radically inclusive mind of Taylor Mac, and there was no way I could resist. Creating this world with these mad geniuses is, in true Savannah tradition, a grand and great party. I can’t wait for the world to join in.” Brown has written the music and lyrics to several of the most renowned and influential musicals of our time, including the generation-defining The Last Five Years, his debut song cycle Songs for a New World, and the seminal Parade, which just won a 2023 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, starring Ben Platt and directed by Michael Arden. His other musicals include 13, which was made into a feature film on Netflix last year; The Bridges of Madison County, winner of Tony Awards for score and orchestrations; Mr. Saturday Night with Billy Crystal; and Honeymoon In Vegas. As a pianist, singer and bandleader, Jason has performed concerts around the world. His latest album, “Coming From Inside The House,” features Ariana Grande and Shoshana Bean and is available from Craft Recordings. 

Tanya Birl 

(Choreographer): “I’m honored to make my Chicago debut with this incredible production, and thrilled to collaborate with such an amazingly talented creative team—including my longtime mentor and friend Rob Ashford. There is so much beauty and mystery in the written and spoken words of this story. I think the role of movement and dance in this piece is to tap into the essence of Savannah—to speak what is unspoken. I can’t wait to get to work!” Brill is a New York City-based Movement Director and Choreographer. Choreography: How I Learned What I Learned (OSF), Twelfth Night (The Public Theater), The Red Letter Plays (The Signature Theater), Comedy of Errors (Classic Stage Company), As You Like It(The Guthrie Theater) and Peter and the Star Catcher (Oregon Shakespeare Festival). Select performance credits, Broadway: Memphis the Musical, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, How to Succeed, On The Town. Others: The Lion King, The Bubbly Black Girl…, The Wiz, West Side Story. Birl is currently in the process of writing an original choreo-play titled ‘A Play in 3 Movements’ about intergenerational trauma/healing and its links to auto-immunity in women. She is a 2023/2024 MAP Fund Grantee, 2022 NoMAA artist in residence and a High-Arts/Critical Breaks Fellow in collaboration with OSF New Works. 

Christoher Oram

(Set Design) is a recipient of the Tony, Drama Desk, Olivier, Evening Standard, Critic’s Circle, Garland, Falstaff and Ovation Awards for his work in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Shows with Rob Ashford: Parade (Donmar) A Streetcar Named Desire (Donmar), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (NYC), Damsels in Distress (Chichester) as well as G&D, EVITA, and Frozen and the Branagh collaborations. Opera credits include The Marriage of Figaro (Glyndebourne, Houston) ,The Wreckers(Houston), Billy Budd (Glyndebourne, Brooklyn Academy of Music) and Don Giovanni (Metropolitan Opera). Theater credits include Red (Donmar Warehouse and NYC); Henry V, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Cripple of Inishmaan (NYC); Peter and Alice and Privates on Parade (Michael Grandage Company at the Noel Coward); Macbeth (Manchester International Festival and Park Avenue Armory, NYC); Frozen (St. James Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, NYC, Japan); Company (Sheffield Crucible); Othello, King Lear, Passion, Parade, and Frost/Nixon (Donmar); Hamlet, Madame de Sade, Twelfth Night, and Ivanov (Donmar and Wyndham’s); Summerfolk, Danton’s Death, Stuff Happens, and Power (National Theatre); Backbeat (Glasgow Citizen’s); Evita (Adelphi and NYC); Guys and Dolls (Piccadilly); King Lear and The Seagull (Royal Shakespeare Company and world tour); Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies, and The Mirror & The Light (RSC, London and NYC); A Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet, and The Entertainer (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at the Garrick). 

Toni-Leslie James

(Costume Design)’s Broadway credits include Birthday Candles, Flying Over Sunset, Bernhardt/Hamlet (Drama Desk Award, TONY nomination) Come From Away (Hewes Design Award, Drama Desk nomination), August Wilson’s Jitney (TONY and Drama Desk nominations), Lucky Guy, The Scottsboro Boys, Finian's Rainbow, Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, King Hedley II, One Mo’ Time, The Wild Party, Marie Christine, Footloose, The Tempest, Twilight Los Angeles 1992, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches & Perestroika, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Jelly’s Last Jam (Hewes Design Award, TONY and Drama Desk nominations). Off Broadway, she has designed multiple productions for The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, Soho Rep, Lincoln Center Theatre, The New York Theatre Workshop, and more than 15 productions for the NY City Center Encores series. She was the Head Costume Designer for Whoopi on NBC, and the CBS soap opera, As the Word Turns, as well as having designed four specials for WNET/13’s Great Performances series. 

John Berendt 

(Award-Winning Author) was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. He attended Harvard, where he majored in English and wrote for the Harvard Lampoon. Upon graduation he was hired by Esquire magazine--first as an editor, then as a monthly columnist.  Later, he became the editor of New York Magazine. It was during a trip to the South in the mid-1980s that he discovered Savannah--a cloistered, inward-looking garden city that basked on the Georgia coast, reveling in its own peculiarities and giving not a thought to the outside world. He was enchanted and began writing about the city and its people in what would eventually become Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. 




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