New Jason Robert Brown/Taylor Mac Musical MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL to Premiere at Goodman Theatre

The production will run June 25 - August 4, 2024 in the 856-seat Albert Theatre.

By: Aug. 16, 2023
New Jason Robert Brown/Taylor Mac Musical MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL to Premiere at Goodman Theatre
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Chicago will be first to experience the new musical Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—based on John Berendt’s iconic non-fiction book—next summer. 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 and sets by Christopher Oram. 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, is the story of a socially prominent Savannah, Georgia, antiques dealer who was tried, and retried, for murder. Tickets to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (appearing June 25 - August 4, 2024 in the 856-seat Albert Theatre) are currently available by Goodman Membership; to purchase, call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org. Individual tickets go on sale at a later date.

“I’m proud to build on the Goodman’s legacy of nurturing important new works of the American musical theater with a new musical based on John Berendt’s seductive, memorable book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—an enduring popular sensation for three decades. Some of the smartest, wildly talented creative artists working in theater today convene for this project, and I’m eager to welcome everyone here,” said Susan V. Booth, whose first curated season as Goodman Artistic Director begins in September with The Nacirema Society by Pearl Cleage, along with a citywide celebration of the award-winning author.

Said Rob Ashford, “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.”

“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,” said Taylor Mac. “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.”

“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,” said Jason Robert Brown. “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.” 

ABOUT THE CREATORS

Director Rob 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) 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) 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) 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 2023/24 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). 

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. 

ABOUT GOODMAN THEATRE

Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement. Led by Artistic Director Susan V. Booth and Executive Director/CEO Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earner two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and nearly 200 Joseph Jefferson Awards, among other accolades. 

The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fifth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.

Using the tools of theatrical practice, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand and empathize with cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of these programs, which are offered for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.

Goodman Theatre was built on the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi Nations. We recognize that many other Nations consider the area we now call Chicago as their traditional homeland—including the Myaamia, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac and Fox, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Wea, Kickapoo and Mascouten—and remains home to many Native peoples today. While we believe that our city’s vast diversity should be reflected on the stages of its largest theater, we acknowledge that our efforts have largely overlooked the voices of our Native peoples. This omission has added to the isolation, erasure and harm that Indigenous communities have faced for hundreds of years. We have begun a more deliberate journey towards celebrating Native American stories and welcoming Indigenous communities. 

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation on the new Goodman center in 2000.

Julie Danis is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Lorrayne Weiss is Women’s Board President and Kelli Garcia is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.





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