Casting Announced for Teller and Aaron Posner's MACBETH at Chicago Shakespeare

Casting Announced for Teller and Aaron Posner's MACBETH at Chicago Shakespeare

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announces the cast and creative team for the theatrical event of the season: Macbeth, adapted and directed by Teller (of Penn & Teller) and Aaron Posner-the celebrated creative duo behind CST's The Tempest, winner of the Jeff Award for Best Production in 2015. Starring Ian Merrill Peakesas Macbeth and Chaon Cross as Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare's psychological thriller immerses audiences in a world of dark magic and ambition, delving into the twisted psyches of the ultimate power-hungry couple.

Macbeth marks the culmination of the 2017/18 Season in the innovative, new venue The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, April 25-June 24, 2018.

Teller is best known as one half of the famed Penn & Teller, who for more than 40 years have entertained and amazed audiences with their unique brand of magic and comedy-redefining magic's place in popular culture. The longest-running headline act in Las Vegas history, Penn & Teller have been featured in Emmy-winning television specials, on world tours, and on Broadway; they currently host the hit series Penn & Teller: Fool Us! on The CW Network. Posner, an accomplished playwright and director, has written and adapted more than 20 plays, including Stupid F****** Bird, Life Sucks, My Name Is Asher Lev andThe Chosen, among others. American Theatre said the hallmark of his directing is his ability to make classic plays "arresting and luminously accessible." His work is in demand at major regional theaters nationwide-including credits at Folger Theater, American Repertory Theater, and Atlanta's The Alliance, where he has garnered multiple Helen Hayes and Barrymore Awards.

Posner shared, "At our core, Teller and I are both populists. We passionately believe in Shakespeare for everyone. And an amazing story like this-full of magic, music, witches, blood and beheadings-is designed to have everyone sitting on the edge of their seats to see what thrills are in store."

Teller and Posner's wild imaginings are brought to life onstage by a stellar creative team, whose work has been seen on Broadway and stages across the U.S. Legendary magician Johnny Thompson-whom Teller describes as "undisputedly the greatest living source of magical knowledge"-returns as Magic Designer. Scenic Designer Daniel Conway, Costume Designer Mara Blumenfeld and Lighting Designer Thom Weaver have created an immersive visual world where nothing is truly as it seems, bringing new truth to Macbeth's line "nothing is but what is not." Sound Designer Andre Pluess composes original music and orchestrations-creating a haunting soundscape with a series of unique instruments invented especially for this production by master percussionist Kenny Wollesen, a longtime collaborator of Tom Waits.

"We're trying to put you, the audience member, in the same off-kilter position in relation to the production as Macbeth is to his world," described Teller of their vision for the production. "When something happens on stage that seems to defy the rules of physics-all of a sudden what's happening to you is echoing the story."

Leading the cast are Ian Merrill Peakes as Macbeth and Chaon Cross as Lady Macbeth. Helen Hayes Award-winner Peakes is a mainstay at the Folger Theatre, where he has taken on some of Shakespeare's most challenging roles including Iago, Timon, and King Henry VIII. Cross is one of the great leading ladies of Chicago theater, with notable credits at Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, and Steppenwolf. She returns to Chicago Shakespeare, where she most recently appeared as Ellen Tree in Red Velvet.

The trio of Weird Sisters-played by actor-singers McKinley Carter, Theo Germaine, and Emily Ann Nichelson-infuse music and magic into the storytelling.

Also featured in the company of twenty-four multi-talented performers is Andrew White-founding ensemble member at Lookingglass, who recently completed two terms as Artistic Director-as Banquo. Timothy D. Stickney returns to Chicago Shakespeare to perform the role of Macduff. A longtime Shakespearean performer with credits at The Public Theater, The Old Globe, and Stratford Festival, Stickney is also known for playing the recurring character R.J. Gannon on ABC's One Life to Live for nearly 15 years. Christopher Donahue plays the role of King Duncan. Donahue has notably appeared in Broadway's Metamorphoses and Measure for Measure at New York Shakespeare Festival, in addition to productions with Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, and Lookingglass Theatre Company.

Full cast and creative team is announced below. For more information, visit www.chicagoshakes.com/macbeth.

MACBETH
April 25-June 24, 2018 | The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare
by William Shakespeare | adapted & directed by Aaron Posner and Teller

Cast
Adam Wesley Brown, Malcolm
McKinley Carter, Weird Sister
Chaon Cross, Lady Macbeth
Kyle Curry, Donalbain
Christopher Donahue, Duncan/Doctor
Theo Germaine, Weird Sister
Jennifer Latimore, Lady Macduff/Gentlewoman
Ronnie Malley, Ensemble
Matthew Floyd Miller, Porter/Siward
Austin Molinaro, Fleance
Emily Ann Nichelson, Weird Sister
Reilly Oh, Seyton
Ian Merrill Peakes, Macbeth
Sam Pearson, Young Siward
Cage Sebastian Pierre, Angus
Edgar Miguel Sanchez, Lennox
Timothy D. Stickney, Macduff
Samuel Taylor, Ross
Bret Tuomi, Bloody Sergeant
Andrew White, Banquo
Micah Wilson, Macduff Son
LiSean McElrath, Ensemble
Alexander James Poe, Ensemble
Dylan Obrochta, Ensemble

Creative Team
Aaron Posner, Adapter/Director
Teller, Adapter/Director
Daniel Conway, Scenic Designer
Mara Blumenfeld, Costume Designer
Thom Weaver, Lighting Designer
Johnny Thompson, Magic Designer
Andre Pluess, Sound Designer/Composer/Original Orchestrations
Richard Jarvie, Wig and Make-up Designer
Susan Felder, Verse Coach
Kenny Wollesen, Instrument Designer/Wollesonics
Magdelene Spanuello, Associate Director

Macbeth is presented in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, April 25-June 24, 2018. Single tickets are on sale now for $48-$88 (subject to change). Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets for patrons under 35. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater's website at www.chicagoshakes.com.

CST strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Accessible performances for Macbeth include:

Open-captioning - Thursday, May 17 at 1:00 p.m. and Friday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m.

ASL Duo-interpretation - Friday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Audio-description - Sunday, June 10 at 2:00 p.m. with optional touch tour at 12:00 p.m.

Creator Bios

Aaron Posner (Adapter/Director) returns to Chicago Shakespeare Theater, where he co-directed The Tempest (Jeff Award). Mr. Posner is a director and playwright; a founder and former artistic director of Philadelphia's Arden Theatre Company; the former artistic director of Two River Theater; and an associate artist at the Folger Theatre in Washington DC. His widely produced plays include: Stupid Fucking Bird, Life Sucks, and No Sisters (all re-imaginings of Chekhov plays); District Merchants, a new take on Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice; The Chosen, My Name Is Asher Lev, both adapted from Chaim Potok novels; Sometimes a Great Notion, adapted from Ken Kesey; Mark Twain's A Murder, A Mystery, and a Marriage; an adaptation of three Kurt Vonnegut short stories, entitled Who Am I This Time? (And Other Conundrums of Love); The Gift of Nothing, Me...Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall, both musical for young audiences (with Andy Mitton and Patrick McDonnell); and many others. Mr. Posner has also directed nearly 200 productions at major regional theaters across the country. He has won numerous awards as both a director and playwright, including: a Jeff Award, several Helen Hayes Awards, two Barrymore Awards, two Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, Elliot Norton Award, The John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award, Outer Circle Critics Award, Theatre Bay Area Award, and more. Raised in Eugene, Oregon, and now living near Washington, DC, Mr. Posner graduated from Northwestern University and is an Eisenhower Fellow.

TELLER (Adapter/Director) returns to Chicago Shakespeare Theater, where he co-directed The Tempest (Jeff Award). Teller has been the smaller, quieter half of the Emmy-winning team Penn & Teller since 1975. With Penn Jillette, he has played Broadway, toured in North America and Britain, and currently is the longest-running headline act in Las Vegas history. Penn & Teller have written and starred in television series and specials, including eight seasons of the Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit!; Penn & Teller Tell a Lie (Discovery); Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular (FX); Behind the Scenes, a PBS children's series on the arts; The Unpleasant World of Penn & Teller, a magic and comedy series (Comedy Central, UK's Channel 4); and the current hit series, Penn & Teller: Fool Us (The CW). Teller has written for The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire, GQ, The New Yorker; as well as three books with Jillette and two on his own. He is a frequent contributor to All Things Considered on NPR. Teller and Aaron Posner co-directed a version of Shakespeare's Macbeth for Washington DC's Folger Shakespeare Theatre and he co-wrote and directed the acclaimed stage production Play Dead (Off-Broadway and Los Angeles). Teller made his feature-length film directorial debut with the Oscar-shortlisted and BAFTA-nominated Tim's Vermeer, a Sony Pictures Classics 2014 release. In 2015, Teller triumphantly returned to Broadway co-starring in Penn & Teller On Broadway.

ABOUT Chicago Shakespeare Theater
A global theatrical force, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare's genius for storytelling, musicality of language, and empathy for the human condition. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be, putting forward a company that delights in the unexpected and defies theatrical category. A Regional Tony Award-winning theater, CST produces acclaimed plays at its home on Navy Pier, throughout Chicago's schools and neighborhoods, and on stages around the world. In 2017, the Theater unveiled a new stage, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, The Yard positions CST as the city's most versatile performing arts venue.

Photo: Ian Merrill Peakes is Macbeth and Chaon Cross is Lady Macbeth in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's production of Macbeth, in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, April 25-June 24, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sciortino.

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