Chicago Shakespeare Theater Celebrates Shakespeare's 458th Birthday On April 23

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By: Apr. 12, 2022
Chicago Shakespeare Theater Celebrates Shakespeare's 458th Birthday On April 23

As literary events converge with National Poetry Month in April and World Book Day and William Shakespeare's Birthday on April 23, Chicago Shakespeare Theater is celebrating with productions and programs onstage, online, and in classrooms across the country.

Premiering on April 23 is the free, virtual celebration TO BE, a 45-minute program featuring musical performances and special guests as well as recognizing civic leader Carole B. Segal with the Spirit of Shakespeare Award. Beginning April 18, students and teachers can engage with the free Stream & Study initiative, which pairs a streamed production of Romeo and Juliet with a suite of teaching materials-making Chicago Shakespeare's nationally recognized arts-in-education programs accessible to classrooms nationwide. Then, Shakespeare's rarely seen dark comedy All's Well That Ends Well takes the stage in the Courtyard Theater on April 22 in a new production staged by acclaimed director Shana Cooper.

Stream TO BE premiering April 23

On April 23, Chicago Shakespeare joins artists from across the city in celebrating the power of the arts with a free, streaming event, TO BE. "All the world's a stage" as a series of performances across artistic disciplines inhabit unexpected spaces at the Theater's home on Navy Pier and in neighborhoods, classrooms, and cultural spaces around the city. The 45-minute program debuts on Saturday, April 23, and will be available for streaming on-demand through May 22, 2022.

Highlights during this year's event include a performance from the sensational Eleri Ward, whose debut indie-folk Sondheim album, "A Perfect Little Death," gained a viral TikTok following and was hailed by Forbes as "a harmonious marriage of musical theater and indie folk music, with hauntingly beautiful arrangements." Viewers will also enjoy performances from the TO BE ensemble featuring some of Chicago's brightest talents, including Missy Aguilar, Jerica Exum, Jacquelyne Jones, Evan Tyrone Martin, Liam Oh, and Sawyer Smith, accompanied by a lively band with Bobby Everson (Special Percussion), Charles Heath (Percussion), Karl Montzka (Keyboard), Dave Saenger (Guitar), and Chuck Webb (Bass). Students from Chicago Shakespeare SLAM and artists from A.B.L.E. Ensemble-which creates theater and film projects for, with, and by individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities-will interpret some of Shakespeare's most famous speeches. Los Pleneros de Don Segundo from Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center will perform original Afro-Puerto Rican Plena songs about the Puerto Rican community in Humboldt Park; and multi-hyphenate artist Noelle Klyce will share a spoken word poetry piece from Tuley Park. Additional performances and special guests to be announced. Musical performances at Chicago Shakespeare are directed and choreographed by Justin Brill and Shanna Vanderweker with musical direction by Eugene Dizon.

TO BE will also recognize civic leader, philanthropist, and longtime Chicago Shakespeare Board Member Carole B. Segal with the Spirit of Shakespeare Award, which honors those who embody Shakespeare's spirit through community engagement and artistic leadership. Honorees over the past decade have included visionaries like legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, groundbreaking actor and director Phylicia Rashād, Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall, Mayor Richard M. Daley, as well as esteemed corporate citizens, including BMO Harris Bank, ComEd, and Northern Trust. Carole Segal is co-founder of Crate and Barrel and founder of Foodstuffs. A true advocate for education and community initiatives, Segal and the Segal Family Foundation have made it possible for tens of thousands of students to experience the magic of live theater. TO BE is co-chaired by Binta Niambi Brown, Allan E. Bulley III, Sheila Talton, and Bob Wislow.

Details on TO BE at

STREAM & STUDY available for students & teachers beginning April 18

The free education initiative Stream & Study brings Chicago Shakespeare's work beyond the stage and into middle school and high school classrooms nationwide, April 18-May 13, 2022. The 75-minute abridged production of Romeo and Juliet, adapted and directed by Marti Lyons, first brought Shakespeare's story to life for 40,000 students in 2017-in the Courtyard Theater and on tour to schools and parks across the entire city. Now, teachers can stream the production on-demand and take advantage of an accompanying curriculum curated by Chicago Shakespeare's education team. A host of literacy-anchored, drama-based activities have been developed especially for today's classroom needs and range from character studies to explorations of Shakespeare's language.

The Romeo and Juliet cast includes Nate Santana (Romeo), Emma Ladji (Juliet), Karen Janes Woditsch (Nurse), Tim Decker (Lord Capulet), Brian Grey (Mercutio / Friar John), Elizabeth Laidlaw (Prince / Apothecary), Lily Mojekwu (Lady Capulet), Andrea San Miguel (Benvolio), Sam Pearson (Tybalt), Cage Sebastian Pierre (Balthazar), Andrew Saenz (Paris), Peter Sipla (Peter) and Demetrios Troy (Friar Laurence). Joining Lyons on the creative team is Fight Choreographer Matt Hawkins, Scenic Designer Courtney O'Neill, Costume Designer Mieka van der Ploeg, Lighting Designer Greg Hofmann, Sound Designer Mikhail Fiksel, Wig and Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie, Choreographer Stephanie Paul, Assistant Director Hannah Todd, Directing Intern Rinska Carrasco, and Verse Coach Kathryn Walsh.

Teachers can sign up to participate at

Shakespeare's ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL takes the stage April 22

Kicking off performances on Shakespeare's Birthday weekend is All's Well That Ends Well directed by Shana Cooper. Shakespeare's rarely seen dark comedy is brought to new life in the uniquely intimate setting of the Courtyard Theater, April 22-May 29, 2022. No challenge can match the power of a determined woman. In love with a young man who does not return her affection, the resourceful Helen will go to any length to turn her visions of romance into reality-only to discover that happy endings are never as simple as they seem in fairy tales. Director Shana Cooper's striking productions have been celebrated on stages across the country, from off Broadway to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Her visceral approach to storytelling infuses movement and music, providing a perfect complement to Shakespeare's poetic language.

The company features Patrick Agada (Second Lord), Mark Bedard (Parolles), Christiana Clark (Widow Capilet / Duchess of Florence), William Dick (Lafeu), Alejandra Escalante (Helen), Francis Guinan (King of France), Casey Hoekstra (First Lord), Dante Jemmott (Bertram), Joseph Aaron Johnson (Rinaldo / Soldier Lord), Ora Jones (Countess of Roussillon), Jeff Kurysz (First Soldier / Soldier Lord), Emma Ladji (Diana), Pablo David Laucerica (King's Attendant / Soldier Lord), Elizabeth Ledo (Lavatch), and Tanya Thai McBride (Mariana). Understudies include Caron Buinis, Kevin Gudahl, Tae-nyun Kim, Gavin Mueller, Jacob Mundell, and Hilary Schwartz. The creative team includes Scenic Designer Andrew Boyce, Costume Designer Raquel Barreto, Lighting Designer Adam Honoré, Sound / Composition by Paul James Prendergast, Hair & Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie, Movement Designer Stephanie Martinez, Magic Designer DENDY, Verse Coach Gregory Linington, Assistant Director Mallory Metoxen, Assistant to the Movement Designer Noelle Kayser, Intimacy Director Sarah Scanlon, and Casting by Bob Mason. The team also includes Stage Manager Katrina Herrmann, Assistant Stage Manager Kate Ocker, and Assistants to the Director Katie Lupica and Manna-Symone Middlebrooks.

Tickets start at $35. For additional information on the production, or to purchase tickets, visit


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