Court Theatre Extends Pearl Cleage's BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY

Court Theatre, under the leadership of Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell and Executive Director Stephen J. Albert, announces the extension of Blues for an Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleage, directed by Ron OJ Parson. Blues for an Alabama Sky now runs through February 19, 2017 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue in Chicago. Tickets to extension performances of Blues for an Alabama Sky are on sale and available by calling the box office at (773) 753-4472 or www.CourtTheatre.org.

"After three weeks of standing ovations and exceptional box office energy, we believe this production deserves an opportunity to reach a larger audience," notes Executive Director Stephen J. Albert. "Blues is the centerpiece for the Harlem Renaissance Celebration here in Hyde Park, which features events through February 21st."

In the midst of the Great Depression, the creative spirit of New York's Harlem Renaissance struggles with harsher realities. Angel and Guy, emerging artists with grand dreams, live next door to the more serious and political Delia, a social worker with the goal to open a community family planning clinic. Each must face their own hardships head on, but always with hope for a better life close at hand. They search for a way to keep their dreams of love, career, and service alive in times of economic despair, and they learn that the Great Depression can't destroy the source of their creative spirit.

Playwright Pearl Cleage's striking story encounters very modern problems in a fantastically lively 1920s Harlem. Court Resident Artist and Director Ron OJ Parson will dive into this world to illuminate the characters' intersecting lives and experiences on stage. Blues for an Alabama Sky will serve as the centerpiece for a Chicago celebration of the music, art, language, and impact of the Harlem Renaissance.

"Pearl Cleage's play Blues for an Alabama Sky captures a sense of the Harlem Renaissance, and era between the end of World War I and the Great Depression when Harlem became a center for the cultural, social, and artistic explosion. The Harlem Renaissance generated an amazing group of artists, political forces, and its impact is still felt today. This robust time has inspired a celebration, and Court Theatre will partner with community cultural organizations and colleagues at the University of Chicago to examine the influences of that period," notes Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell.

The cast of Blues for an Alabama Sky includes Celeste M. Cooper (Delia), Al'Jaleel McGhee (young man), James Vincent Meredith (Sam), Sean Parris (Guy), Toya Turner (Angel) and Geno Walker (Leland).

The creative team includes Linda Buchanan (Scenic Designer), Rachel Healy (Costume Designer), Keith Parham (Lighting Designer) and Joshua Horvath (Sound Designer). Amanda Weener-Frederick is the Production Stage Manager.

Blues for an Alabama Sky is part of the Harlem Renaissance Celebration in Hyde Park, a celebration bringing together performing arts, music, film, and scholarship to immerse audiences into the artistic explosion in America that changed the course of black identity and expression. Court is partnering with University of Chicago scholars, musical performers, local schools, arts organizations, and film centers to rediscover the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance and the ways in which it redefined how America, and the world, witnessed the spirit and talent of African Americans. Other participating organizations include Beverly Arts Center, Black Cinema House, the Center for Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, DuSable Museum of African American History, Logan Center for the Arts, the Promontory, the Stony Island Arts Bank and South Side Projections. For more information on this celebration, including a schedule of events, visit harleminhydepark.com.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Ron OJ Parson (Director/Resident Artist) hails from Buffalo, New York and is a graduate of the University of Michigan's professional theatre program. He is a resident artist at Court Theatre, former co-founder and artistic director of The Onyx Theatre Ensemble, and co-founder of the Beyond The Stage Theatre Project. Ron is a company member of TimeLine theatre, and associate artist at Writers Theatre, and Teatro Vista, Recent directing credits include, Sunset Baby, by Dominique Morriseau, at TimeLine Theatre, East Texas Hot Links, Writers Theatre, Apt 3A, Windy City Playhouse, The Who & The What (Victory Gardens Theater); Gem of The Ocean, Seven Guitars, by August Wilson, The Mountaintop, by Katori Hall, and Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett, (Court Theatre); Detroit 67 (Northlight Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun (TimeLine Theatre) Other Chicagoland theatres Ron has worked with include Black Ensemble Theatre, ETA, Congo Square Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre, Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista (associate artist), Chicago Dramatists, Urban Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Theatre Company, and City Lit Theatre. Regional theatres Ron OJ has worked with include Virginia Stage Company, Portland Stage, Studio Theatre, Studio Arena Theatre, Roundabout Theatre, Mechanic Theatre, Center Stage Baltimore, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Rep, St. Louis Black Rep, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Geva Theatre, Signature Theatre (New York), ALLIANCE THEATRE, South Coast Rep, and Pasadena Playhouse. In Canada, Ron directed the world premiere of Palmer Park by Joanna McClelland Glass at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Ron is a member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC.

CELESTE M. COOPER (Delia) is making her Court Theatre debut. Celeste most recently appeared in Eclipse Theatre's production of Our Lady of 121st Street. Some theatre credits include: Measure for Measure (Goodman); Stick Fly (Windy City Playhouse/nominated for Best Featured Actress from BTAA), Never the Sinner (Victory Gardens Theater), Ruined (Eclipse), understudying Animal Farm (Steppenwolf), The Hammer Trinity (House/Adrienne Arsht in Miami), The Mecca Tales (Chicago Dramatists), How We Got On (Citadel), AND her original one woman shows Fight 4 Your Life, and later The Incredible Cece (MPAACT & Stage 773). Celeste won The Most Promising Actress Award from the Black Theater Alliance for her portrayal of Josephine in Ruined, which led her to becoming an ensemble member and casting associate with Eclipse Theatre Company. Her TV/Film credits include a recurring role on Chicago PD (NBC), Spike Lee's Chiraq,and Sense8 (Netflix). Ms. Cooper has a B.A. in Speech Communications & Theatre from Tennessee State University and an M.F.A. in Acting from DePaul University The Theatre School.

AL'JALEEL MCGHEE (Young Man) makes his Court Theatre debut in Blues for an Alabama Sky. He studies at University of Illinois at Chicago and under drama educators Richard Poole and Kathryn Gately. He has worked with the Black Ensemble Theatre, Artemesia Theatre, the American Vicarious and will be performing at TimeLine Theatre in their upcoming production of Paradise Blue. His television credits include Chicago PD and APB, which premiers on FOX this spring. He is represented by Gray Talent Group.

James Vincent Meredith (Sam) makes his Court Theatre debut. Broadway: Superior Donuts. National Tour: 3 years as Mafala Hatimbi with Book of Mormon. Chicago credits: The Crucible, Carter's Way, The Tempest, Clybourne Park, The Pain and The Itch, Superior Donuts, The Hot L Baltimore, The March, Between Riverside and Crazy (Steppenwolf, ensemble member); Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, King John, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice (Chicago Shakespeare); Othello, The Duchess of Malfi (Writers'); Roz and Ray (Victory Gardens). TV credits: Prison Break, Chicago Code, Detroit 187, ER, BOSS, The Beast, Betrayal, Mob Doctor, Law and Order: SVU, The Exorcist, and Chicago Justice.

Sean Parris (Guy) was born in L.A., raised in Miami and Georgia, with parents from Barbados and a stepfather from Ohio. He currently lives in Pilsen with boyfriend Ricardo Gamboa. Sean received his MFA from DePaul University's Theatre School. He is a graduate of Black Box Acting Academy and staff writer for the podcast PleasureTown in Chicago. He is excited to be making his Court Theatre debut. Chicago credits include: Space Age, a two man show, created with real life intimate partner Ricardo Gamboa; The Magic Play, The Solid Sand Below (Goodman Theatre); Compass, The Drunken City, Animal Farm (Steppenwolf); The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre); Seascape (Remy Bumppo); Pornography (Steep Theatre); Shakespeare's Greatest Hits (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); A Girl With Sun in Her Eyes (Pinebox Theatre). Television Credits: Sickos (Gun Collective). He will next be seen in the OpenTV's original web series BRUJOS. He is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.

Toya Turner (Angel) Toya Turner is making her Court Theatre debut. Toya is a Jamaican-American from Houston, Texas. She's a graduate of the British American Drama Academy at Oxford University. Stage credits include: Christina, The Girl King (Cor Theatre); For Her As A Piano (Pegasus Theatre); and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (Other Theatre Co.). TV/Film credits include: Easy (Netflix), Chicago Med (NBC), and Empire (FOX). Up Next: Tracy in The Chi (Showtime) and Mayme in Intimate Apparel (TheatreSquared, Arkansas).

Geno Walker (Leland) makes his Court Theatre debut. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Geno attended Kenwood Academy. A graduate of Oberlin College and a Bob Curry Fellow with Second City Chicago, Geno is represented by Grossman and Jack Talent.

Now in its 62nd season, Court Theatre is guided by its mission to discover the power of classic theatre. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. Court revives lost masterpieces, illuminates familiar texts, and distinguishes fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.


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