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Chicago Shakespeare Theater Presents 'Amadeus'


Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) kicks off the 2008/09 Subscription Season with Peter Shaffer's award-winning drama, Amadeus, staged by CST Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin. Shaffer brings us into the tumultuous lives of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his obsessively jealous rival, Viennese court composer Antonio Salieri. Overcome with envy of Mozart's divinely inspired music, Salieri believes God has bestowed genius upon an "unmannered fool" and sets out to destroy his rival and take revenge upon an uncaring God. Performed in Chicago Shakespeare's Courtyard Theater, Amadeus begins previews Saturday, September 6, 2008 and runs through Sunday, November 9, 2008. Tickets are $44-70 and can be purchased beginning August 1 by calling Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Box Office at 312.595.5600 or by visiting the Theater's website at

In Shaffer's story of faith and genius—loosely based on the intertwining lives of Salieri and Mozart—Salieri addresses his audience of theatergoers and claims that he may have killed the greatest composer ever known. Initially curious about this highly praised prodigy, then appalled by his vulgar, infantile, boastful behavior, Salieri is shocked by the brilliance of Mozart's music. Poisoned by his own envy and bitterness, Salieri decides to get revenge on a God who would make "an obscene child" His musical conduit on earth and give Salieri just enough talent to be the only one to appreciate Mozart's genius.

"This incredible story is really a journey of faith for Salieri," comments director Griffin. "He's in a kind of purgatory—he's not able to make peace with what he did and what he felt was owed to him during his life. Salieri speaks to the audience in Amadeus as a way of finding that peace, and perhaps forgiveness."

Amadeus premiered at London's National Theatre in 1979 and was directed by Peter Hall. The original Broadway production—also directed by Hall—premiered in 1980 and received five Tony Awards, including Best Play. Perhaps the most well-known incarnation of Amadeus—the 1984 film—was directed by Milos Forman and received eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The 1999 Broadway revival of Amadeus was again directed by Peter Hall.

Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin returns to Chicago Shakespeare after directing the acclaimed production of Passion featuring Ana Gasteyer last season. During his tenure at CST, Griffin has directed numerous award-winning productions including A Flea in Her Ear, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George and Pacific Overtures. Griffin's production of Pacific Overtures at Chicago Shakespeare later transferred to Donmar Warehouse in London's West End, winning three Olivier Awards—including Outstanding Musical Production. On Broadway his directing credits include The Color Purple (11 Tony Nominations including Best Musical) and The Apple Tree (Tony Nomination Best Musical Revival). Off Broadway credits include the world premiere musical Saved, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Beautiful Thing. Beyond his acclaimed work at CST, his Chicago credits include productions at Court Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Writers' Theatre, Marriott Theatre, and Drury Lane Oakbrook. He has received eight Joseph Jefferson Awards for directing.

Broadway actor Robert Sella makes his Chicago Shakespeare debut as Antonio Salieri. A veteran of the stage and screen, Sella's Broadway credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cabaret and Side Man. Also appearing on CST's Courtyard Theater stage for the first time is Robbie Collier Sublett as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. On the East Coast, Sublett has appeared in the Off Broadway musical Gone Missing, and Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's production of The Cherry Orchard among others. Chicago actress Elizabeth Ledo joins the cast of Amadeus as Mozart's wife Constanze after a successful run as Hero in Chicago Shakespeare's critically-acclaimed premiere of Funk It Up About Nothin'.

The cast of Amadeus also includes: Lance Baker as Joseph II; Phillip James Brannon as Venticello 2; Danielle Brothers as Teresa Salieri; Chris Cantelmi as Salieri's Valet; Jeremy Clark as Salieri's Cook; David Lively as Count Orsini-Rosenberg; Roger Mueller as Count Von Strack; John Reeger as Baron Van Swieten; Dan Sanders-Joyce as Venticello 1; Kari Sorenson as Katherina Cavalieri; and Ron Turner as Kappelmeister Bonno. Jurgen Hooper, Mackenzie Kyle and Blaine Swen complete the ensemble.

The production team for Amadeus includes Tony Award nominated scenic designer Dan Ostling (Metamorphoses, 2002), costume designer VirGil Johnson, lighting designer Philip Rosenberg, sound designers Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen and wig and make-up designer Melissa Veal.

Programs in conjunction with performances of Amadeus include:

    * Pre•Amble: half-hour introductory lectures on Amadeus presented by scholars will take place at 2:00 p.m. on select Saturdays (9/20, 9/27, 10/4) and Sundays (9/21, 9/28, 10/5). Admission is free and reservations are not required.
    * Cast Call: informal discussions with the actors in the Theater's Pub will be Friday, October 10 and November 7 from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., prior to the 7:30 p.m. curtain. Admission is free. No reservations are required.
    * Post-show discussions follow each Wednesday 1:00 p.m. performance. Admission is free. No reservations are required.
    * The audio-described performance for patrons with visual impairments will be held on Thursday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. Patrons should reserve a headset when purchasing tickets in advance. "Access Shakespeare" tickets are $27.
    * The duo sign-interpreted performance for patrons with hearing impairments will be held on Friday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m. Patrons should request the specific seating area when purchasing tickets in advance. "Access Shakespeare" tickets are $35.

Amadeus begins previews on Saturday, September 6, 2008 with performances scheduled through Sunday, November 9, 2008. For further information and to purchase tickets, call the Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater's website at

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