Katy Sullivan to Star in RICHARD III at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The production will run February 2–March 3.

By: Nov. 29, 2023
Katy Sullivan to Star in RICHARD III at Chicago Shakespeare Theater
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Chicago Shakespeare Theater has revealed the cast and creative team for William Shakespeare’s Richard III, staged by Artistic Director Edward Hall in the Courtyard Theater, February 2–March 3. Tony Award-nominated actor, Paralympic champion, and bilateral above-knee amputee Katy Sullivan makes her Chicago Shakespeare Theater debut in the title role, leading a company that also features Scott Aiello, Debo Balogun, Mark Bedard, Anatasha Blakely, Yao Dogbe, Sean Fortunato, Erik Hellman, Tiffany Renee Johnson, Ora Jones, Mo Shipley, Demetrios Troy, and Jessica Dean Turner.

“Conscience is but a word that cowards use...” A divided kingdom is fertile ground for the charismatic and unscrupulous Richard to seize power and exact revenge—and no one is safe from his tyranny. Full of scathing dark comedy and high-stakes family drama, this tale grapples with violence, power, and the gray area between good and evil. This will mark the first major US production of Richard III to feature a woman with a disability in the title role.

A leading director of theater, film, and television, Edward Hall began his tenure as Chicago Shakespeare’s artistic director in October 2023. He memorably directed the acclaimed Rose Rage trilogy at Chicago Shakespeare and off-Broadway in 2004. Hall led London’s Hampstead Theatre for nearly a decade as artistic director and joint chief executive, where he directed and produced groundbreaking new work and UK premieres by writers including Tony Kushner, Beth Steel, Ifeyinwa Frederick, Roy Williams, Martyna Majok, and Lauren Gunderson. He also served as an associate at The National Theatre and The Old Vic. In 1997, Hall founded the ensemble-based Propeller Theatre Company, performing Shakespeare’s plays in London’s West End and on tour to Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, United States, Europe, and beyond. He has directed Julius Caesar, Henry V, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his production of The Taming of the Shrew was included as part of the RSC’s Complete Works Festival in 2006/07.

This production marks Hall’s second collaboration with Sullivan; in 2019, Hall directed the critically acclaimed UK premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cost of Living, starring Katy Sullivan and Adrian Lester. “Within the first week of working with Katy, I knew I wanted to explore Richard III with her,” said Hall. “She is an extraordinarily brilliant actress who is keen to get to the most vulnerable places in her characters.” When Cost of Living premiered on Broadway, Sullivan became the first actress who is an amputee to perform on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award for her groundbreaking performance as Ani. She has been seen in Chicago in The Long Red Road at Goodman Theatre, directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Northlight’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, and she recently directed a New York workshop of The Consoling Mechanism, a new musical by Joshua Franklin. On television, she is known for the role of Esther in Dexter: New Blood. Sullivan is also a four-time 100-meter US Track and Field Champion and competed in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, setting a new American record and finishing sixth in the world.

In the role of Margaret is Ora Jones, known to Chicago Shakespeare audiences for roles such as Katherine of Aragon in Henry VIII, Queen Charlotte in The Madness of George III, Maria in Twelfth Night, and most recently as the Abbess in last season’s The Comedy of Errors. She is a three-time Jeff Award nominee and appeared on Broadway in Matilda the Musical and Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Scott Aiello plays Clarence and Stanley. Aiello, who performed in Chicago Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, recently gave an acclaimed performance as Eddie in Shattered Globe Theatre’s A View From the Bridge, marking his return to Chicago after living and working in New York for 15 years. Sean Fortunato plays Lord Rivers and the Duchess of Hastings. Fortunato has performed in over two dozen Chicago Shakespeare productions, including Edward Hall’s production of Rose Rage. He is a nine-time Jeff Award nominee, whose recent credits include Damn Yankees at Marriott Theatre and Frederick Frankenstein in the Mercury Theater’s current production of Young Frankenstein. Demetrios Troy plays King Edward IV and the Earl of Richmond. At Chicago Shakespeare, Troy has performed in King Charles III, Henry V, and Julius Caesar, among many others; he has also worked extensively across Chicago theaters, including at TimeLine Theatre, where he is an artistic associate.

Jeff Award-nominated Erik Hellman plays Lord Hastings and the Duke of Norfolk. Hellman’s Chicago Shakespeare credits include The Madness of George III, Macbeth, and Edward II, and other recent credits include Drury Lane Theatre’s Ring of Fire and Captain von Trapp in Marriott Theatre’s The Sound of Music. In the role of Lady Anne is Tiffany Renee Johnson, who returns to Chicago Shakespeare after appearing in Red Velvet. Other credits include in School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play at Goodman Theatre and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at Writers Theatre. In the role of Edward, Prince of Wales is Mo Shipley, whose recent credits include Q Brothers Christmas Carol at St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and Villette at Lookingglass Theatre; Chicago Shakespeare credits include Nell GwynnJessica Dean Turner makes her Chicago Shakespeare debut as Elizabeth; Turner’s Chicago credits include the ripple, the wave, that carried me home at Goodman Theatre, 1919 at Steppenwolf Theatre, and Red Rex at Steep Theatre, for which she was Jeff Award-nominated.

Debo Balogun, playing Ratcliffe, returns to Chicago Shakespeare after appearing as Barnardine in last season’s Measure for Measure; other credits include Villette at Lookingglass Theatre and Red Rex at Steep Theatre, for which he was Jeff Award-nominated. In the role of Buckingham is Yao Dogbe, whose Chicago Shakespeare credits include Orsino in this season’s Twelfth Night, as well as Short Shakespeare! Macbeth; other credits include Shakespeare Theatre Company’s King Lear. The cast also includes Mark Bedard (Murderer, Prince), who was seen at Chicago Shakespeare in All’s Well That Ends Well, and whose other credits include work at New York City Center, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; and Anatasha Blakely (Catesby), whose credits include work at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, and Alabama Shakespeare Project.

The creative team includes Composer and Music Director Jon Trenchard, Scenic and Costume Designer Michael Pavelka, Lighting Designer Marcus Doshi, Sound Designer Pornchanok Kanchanabanca, Accessibility Consultant Aly Easton, Intimacy Director Sarah Scanlon, Fight Choreographer Matt Hawkins, Assistant Director Peter Andersen, Assistant Lighting Designer Yun Lin, Assistant Sound Designer Emily Hayman, Casting Director Bob Mason, Production Stage Manager Jessica Forella, and Assistant Stage Manager Michael George.

Accessible and enhanced performances for Richard III include:

  • ASL duo-interpreted performance
    Fri, February 23 at 7:30
    All dialogue and lyrics are translated into American Sign Language by two certified interpreters.
  • Audio-described performance with optional touch tour
    Sun, February 25 at 2:00
    A program that provides spoken narration of a play’s key visual elements for patrons who are blind or have low vision. Touch Tours provide patrons the opportunity to experience, firsthand, a production’s design elements.
  • Projected Spanish translated performance
    Tue, February 27 at 7:30
    A text display of the words of the play, translated into Spanish, synced live with the dialogue.
  • Open-captioned performance
    Wed, February 28 at 1:00 & 7:30
    A text display of the words and sounds heard during a play, synced live with the action onstage.

More information at www.chicagoshakes.com/richard or on social media at @chicagoshakes.

Richard III will be presented February 2–March 3, 2024, in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater. Tickets start at $38 and are on sale now. Special discounts are available for audience members under the age of 35 and for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com.

Edward Hall BIO

Artistic Director, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Chair

This marks a homecoming for Edward Hall, who directed the Jeff Award-winning Rose Rage trilogy at Chicago Shakespeare in 2003. Edward has built his love of Shakespeare around original interpretations of the Bard’s plays, staging acclaimed productions in London’s West End and on tour around the globe. He led the UK’s Hampstead Theatre for nearly a decade, transforming it into one of the nation’s most successful theaters for new work development, with over 100 world premieres. He was the founder and Artistic Director of Propeller Shakespeare for twenty years touring across the US, Europe, Asia, and beyond. He has served as an Associate Director at The National Theatre and Old Vic in London. He has directed Julius Caesar, Henry V, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona for the Royal Shakespeare Company; and his production of The Taming of the Shrew was included in the RSC’s Complete Works Festival. His extensive film and television credits include The Heist Before Christmas starring Timothy Spall, Blithe Spirit starring Dame Judi Dench, multiple HBO and BBC series, and the season 4 finale for Downton Abbey.

ABOUT Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Regional Tony Award-recipient Chicago Shakespeare Theater produces a bold and innovative year-round season—plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside nationally recognized education programming serving tens of thousands of students, teachers, and lifelong learners each year. Founded in 1986, the Theater’s onstage work has expanded to as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually. Chicago Shakespeare is dedicated to welcoming the next generation of theatergoers; one in four of its audience members is under the age of eighteen. As a nonprofit organization, the Theater works to embrace diversity, prioritize inclusion, provide equitable opportunities, and offer an accessible experience for all. On the Theater’s three stages at its home on Navy Pier, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire. www.chicagoshakes.com.




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