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City Lit Theater Sets 36th Season

Nicholas Meyer's The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, in a world premiere adaptation by City Lit Artistic Director Terry McCabe and directed by Warner Crocker, will open City Lit Theater's thirty-sixth season, McCabe announced today.

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, which bills itself as "Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D., as edited by Nicholas Meyer," launched the modern tradition of revisionist Sherlock Holmes novels, films, and television series, in which both the psychology of Holmes as a character and his relationship with Dr. Watson are plumbed more deeply than in any of the four novels and 56 short stories written by his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. In it, an 87-year-old Watson, living in a nursing home ten years after the death of Holmes, relates the story-which we see in flashback-of his struggle to cure Holmes of his cocaine addiction.

Nicholas Meyer has written eight books, including two other Holmes novels. His screenplay for the film version of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution was nominated for an Academy Award. He co-wrote and/or directed three of the original-cast Star Trek movies: The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home, and The Undiscovered Country, in the last of which he introduced into the Star Trek universe the idea that Mr. Spock is descended on his human side from Sherlock Holmes. His other screenplays include Time after Time (which he also directed), in which Jack the Ripper escapes through H.G. Wells's time machine into modern-day San Francisco, the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, and the DreamWorks animated feature The Prince of Egypt.

The cast for The Seven-Per-Cent Solution features Adam Bitterman as Dr. Watson and James Sparling as Sherlock Holmes, both reprising their roles from last season's Holmes and Watson at City Lit. The rest of the cast is Elliott Fredman, Robert Kaercher, Adrienne Matzen, Goran Nordquist, Chelsea Roberts, and Lee Wichman. The design team is Tyler McCabe (sound), Ray Toler (set), Laura J. Wiley, (lighting), and LaVisa Angela Williams (costumes). The stage manager is Patrick Murphy.

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution begins previews on Friday, October 2, 2015, and opens for the press on Sunday, October 11.

Following the run of Seven-Per-Cent, another world premiere literary adaptation, plus the world premiere of the final musical revue devised by Sheldon Patinkin, and the thirtieth-anniversary production of one of the great born-in-Chicago plays from the golden age of off-Loop theatre will comprise the rest of City Lit Theater Company's thirty-sixth season: Mark Twain's The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, adapted for City Lit by Jeff-winning adaptor Paul Edwards and directed by Adam Goldstein; I've Got the World on a String: Harold Arlen's Songs of Love and Loss, devised for City Lit by Sheldon Patinkin and directed by McCabe with music direction by Kingsley Day; and Hauptmann by John Logan, directed by McCabe.

The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today is Mark Twain's satire of American politics and finance during the late nineteenth century, a satire so telling that the actual time period takes its historical nickname from the title of the book.

A panoramic romp through Twain's America-which is to say, ours-The Gilded Age gives us a steamboat race on the Mississippi, strange dealings on the floors of Congress, and a high society murder trial. The Hawkins family holds 75,000 acres of Tennessee land that they are sure will someday make them rich. Their beautiful daughter Laura travels to Washington D.C. to become a lobbyist and connive the federal government into buying the land. With the help of a Senator, Laura Hawkins enters nouveau riche Washington society, leads a scandalous life, and gains her opportunity to match wits with Congress.

Mark Twain wrote the novel in collaboration with his friend and neighbor Charles Dudley Warner on a dare from their wives. It was an unusual collaboration in that they didn't write together: they alternated chapters, Twain writing the main plot and Warner writing a subplot involving different characters. They only sat down together when it was time to tie up loose ends in the last chapter. This is, of course, no way to write a cohesive novel, and City Lit's adaptation dispenses with Warner's subplot to focus on Twain's tale of Laura Hawkins.

Adaptor Paul Edwards has won the Jeff Award for Best Adaptation three times, most recently for City Lit's Peyton Place. Also at City Lit, he adapted and directed Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers, Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House , Grace Metalious's Peyton Place, and Father Ruffian from Shakespeare. Adam Goldstein directed the world premiere of What to Listen For at the side project and Size of the World at Redtwist Theatre.

The Gilded Age begins previews on Friday, January 8, 2016, and opens for the press on Sunday, January 17.

I've Got the World on a String: Harold Arlen's Songs of Love and Loss, devised by Sheldon Patinkin and directed by McCabe with music direction by Kingsley Day, is a revue of twenty-three Arlen songs set late at night in a Manhattan bar during the mid-1940s.

Harold Arlen composed dozens of standards during a career that spanned from the 1920s to the 1970s. He wrote for Cotton Club revues, Broadway shows, and Hollywood movies. He collaborated with most of the greatest lyricists of his day, including Johnny Mercer, E. Y. Harburg, and Ira Gershwin. He is best remembered for having written the score to The Wizard of Oz, and in 2007 his song "Over the Rainbow" was voted

the number one song of the twentieth century by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Sheldon Patinkin was a good friend of City Lit and a major presence in Chicago theatre for over 60 years. He directed a number of City Lit productions, consulted on even more, and was planning on directing this revue. At McCabe's request, he had whittled down a list of over 500 Arlen songs and devised a theatrical premise for presenting twenty-three of them in a character-based revue. He completed that work last August, but had not typed up a finished libretto when he died in September. City Lit is grateful to his niece Karen Patinkin, who searched for and gathered all of Patinkin's lists and notes and outlines related to the revue. McCabe and Day sifted through these materials, which made Patinkin's final intentions for the revue clear. "We are more than pleased," McCabe said, "to be able to put Sheldon's final show onstage for him."

Kingsley Day is a thrice-Jeff-nominated music director whose credits include Theatre Wit's Two for the Show, the Apollo Theater's Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!, and the Best-Revue-Jeff-winning Irving Berlin revue Puttin' on the Ritz, conceived and directed by Patinkin for the old National Jewish Theater and remounted for a commercial run at Drury

Lane Evergreen Park. Day collaborated with Patinkin on many projects over three decades, including revues of songs by Kurt Weill and Richard Rodgers.

I've Got the World on a String: Harold Arlen's Songs of Love and Loss begins previews on Friday, March4, 2016, and opens for the press on Tuesday, March 8.

Hauptmann is playwright John Logan's portrait of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the man executed for the kidnapping and murder of 20-month-old Charles Lindbergh Jr. From his cell on death row, surrounded by guards who will step forward to become other characters as needed, Hauptmann tells us his story, and lives it in the telling.

The play premiered in 1986 under McCabe's direction at the old Stormfield Theatre, which was then located where City Lit produces today. That production won four Jeffs, including one for Best New Work, and a Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh International Arts Festival. A revival at Victory Gardens Theater five years later, also directed by McCabe, transferred to a commercial run off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre.

"Having direct Hauptmann four times," McCabe said, "I didn't think I would ever do it again. But I am tremendously excited to direct the play's thirtieth anniversary production here at City Lit, on the same stage where it made its world premiere."

John Logan won the Tony Award for his play Red, about the painter Mark Rothko. He is also a screenwriter, and has been Oscar-nominated three times, for his work on Gladiator, The Aviator, and Hugo. He wrote Star Trek: Nemesis and the James Bond film Skyfall, and was both screenwriter and producer for the film version of Sweeney Todd. He is creator and executive producer of the Showtime television series Penny Dreadful. His first play, Never the Sinner, will have a Chicago revival this fall at Victory Gardens Theater.

Terry McCabe has been City Lit's artistic director since February 2005. He has directed plays professionally in Chicago since 1981. His City Lit adaptations of Holmes and Watson, Gidget (co-adapted with Marissa McKown), The Hound of the Baskervilles, Scoundrel Time, and Opus 1861(co-adapted with Elizabeth Margolius) were Jeff-nominated. He won two Jeff Citations for directing at Stormfield Theatre, one of them for Hauptmann, and has been thrice nominated for the Jeff Award for Best Director, for shows at Victory Gardens (also Hauptmann), Court Theatre, and Wisdom Bridge.

Hauptmann begins previews on Friday, June 3, 2016, and opens for the press on Tuesday, June 7.

City Lit Theater is located in the historic Edgewater Presbyterian Church building at 1020 West Bryn Mawr Avenue, one block west of Sheridan Road and a block and a half east of the Bryn Mawr Red Line L stop. The 84 Peterson bus, the 96 Broadway bus, the 147 Lake Shore Express bus, and the 151 Sheridan bus all stop near City Lit. Valet parking and self-parking are available for theatre customers who call ahead for details.

City Lit receives funding from the Alphawood Foundation, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and the Saints. Its outreach program is sponsored in part by A.R.T. League.

City Lit specializes in literate theatre, including stage adaptations of literary material. Subscriptions to City Lit Theater cost $90 for tickets during the regular run, $68 for tickets during previews, and $100 for opening nights. Single tickets for The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and the other shows in City Lit's season are $24 for previews and $29 during the regular run. Discounts are available for students, seniors, members of the military, and groups of ten or more. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased online at www.citylit.org or by phone at 773-293-3682.


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