Court Theatre Extends SEVEN GUITARS Through Feb 16

Court Theatre announces the extension of Seven Guitars written by August Wilson, and directed by Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson. The production will now run through Sunday, February 16, 2014 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue. Tickets for the week-long extension are now on sale.

Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson returns to Court Theatre to direct Seven Guitars, August Wilson's haunting Century Cycle play about fate, justice, and the Blues. In the backyard of a Pittsburgh tenement in 1948, six characters gather to mourn the missing seventh: Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton, a blues guitarist with feet of clay who died with fame and celebrity just beyond his reach. Stitched with vibrant swatches of American blues lyrics and harmonized through a seven-piece ensemble, Wilson's signature voice is at its richest in Seven Guitars as it seeks to explore the disappointingly dissonant harmonies we sometimes find in the circular nature of hope, violence, fate, and justice.

"With his recent productions of The Mountaintop, A Raisin in the Sun, and Detroit '67, Ron OJ Parson has been providing Chicago audiences with a nonstop rush of brilliant, powerful performances," says Charles Newell. "I'm thrilled that Ron will be kicking off the new year here at Court Theatre, his artistic home, with August Wilson's Seven Guitars. This production not only represents a new installment in Court's longstanding tradition of staging vibrant interpretations of Wilson's Century Cycle plays, it also marks a notable artistic milestone for Ron himself: it is the only play by August Wilson that Ron has yet to work on as either a director or actor. I'm also so pleased to have such a strong cast of talented actors, both new and familiar to Court audiences, taking on such memorable roles, including Allen Gilmore as Hedley and Felicia Fields as Louise."

Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Best Play Award, Seven Guitars features Jerod Haynes (Canewell), Kelvin Roston Jr. (Floyd Barton), Felicia P. Fields (Louise), Ronald Conner (Red Carter), Erynn Mackenzie (Ruby), Ebony Wimbs (Vera) and Allen Gilmore (Hedley).

The creative team for Seven Guitars includes Regina Garcia (scenic design), Christine Pascual (costume design), Marc Stubblefield (lighting design), Joshua Horvath (sound design), and Martine Kei Green-Rogers (dramaturgy). Sara Gammage is the production stage manager.

Ronald L. Conner (Red Carter) was last seen at Court Theatre in the 2009 production of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, directed by Ron OJ Parson. The Piano Lesson received a Jeff nomination for Best Production and Conner received the Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Lead Actor. He was also seen at Court Theatre in The First Breeze of Summer. Ron is a proud ensemble member of Congo Square Theatre where he has appeared in The Colored Museum, Deep Azure, The African Company Presents Richard III, and The Talented Tenth (2008 BTAA Best Actor in an Ensemble). Other Chicago theaters include Chicago Shakespeare, Urban Theatre Company, and Pegasus Players. Regional credits include: New Harmony Theatre, Geva Theatre of Rochester, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, and The St. Louis Black Rep where Ronald has just finished performing four shows in repertory and a one man show where he played over 40 characters. Ron's most notable television and film credits are The Dark Knight and the Coors Light National NFL Campaign (2007-2010).

Felicia Fields (Louise) makes her Court Theatre debut in Seven Guitars. Felicia is best known for her portrayal of Sofia in the Broadway and first touring company of the musical The Color Purple, for which she received a Tony nomination, Clarence Derwitt Award, and several other awards. She has performed at the Marriott, Goodman, Drury Lane, Broadway in Chicago, Northlight, Theatre at the Center, as well as many productions throughout the United States and Canada including commercials, voice-overs, and films. When not in the theatre she enjoys working with "The Smiley Tillmon Band" as well as her own Blues and R&B productions.

Allen Gilmore (Hedley) was last seen at Court Theatre in The Misanthrope as the villainess Arsinoe and Tartuffe as Madame Pernelle, both directed by Charles Newell. Other Court credits include Turnbo in Jitney, the title role in Sizwe Banzi Is Dead (Jeff, BTA nominations), both directed by Ron OJ Parson, the title role in Cyrano, Hamm in Endgame, and M. Argante in Scapin. Recently he performed in Accidental Death of an Anarchist at Yale Rep and will again in the spring at Berkeley Rep. Allen is a proud artistic associate of Next Theatre and a proud ensemble member of Congo Square Theatre Company.

Jerod Haynes (Canewell) was born and raised on Chicago's South Side and makes Court Theatre his debut in Seven Guitars. He was most recently seen in TimeLine Theatre's production of A Raisin in the Sun directed by Ron O.J. Parson. Other theater credits include Columbinus (2013) at ATC Theater. He also played the role of Tom Robinson in Milwaukee Reparatory Theater's production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Other theatre credits include Chicago's ETA Theatre in their productions of Contribution and Greensboro 4: Downpayment on Manhood. Jerod has spent time in the UK where he studied at the British American Drama Academy (BADA). He also finished the entire training program at the Acting Studio Chicago.

Erynn Mackenzie (Ruby) makes her debut at Court in Seven Guitars. She attended Indiana University and majored in Theatre and Psychology. Theatre credits include Ma Rainey's Black Bottom with Actor's Theatre of Lousiville and Milwaukee Repertory Theratre, Raisin in the Sun and A Lesson Before Dying with West Side Theatre Guild, Hair and Rocky Horror Picture Show with Dunes Summer Theatre in Michigan City, The Darkest Pit at Prop Theatre, Strings Attached at Viaduct Theatre, The Vagina Monologues at Star Plaza Theatre, and several others. Film credits include Heirloom, The Gilded Six Bits, Prodigy, Comes To Shove, Rain, All About The Ring, and her own short film project titled A Chance Encounter.

Kelvin Roston, Jr. (Floyd Barton) returns to the Court Theatre where he had previously appeared as Jim in Porgy and Bess and Sylvester in Ma Rainy's Black Bottom. Other Chicago credits include Detroit '67 (Northlight Theatre), Dreamgirls (Marriott Lincolnshire), Crowns (Goodman Theatre), The Jackie Wilson Story (Black Ensemble-Jeff nomination, BTAA winner, Black Excellence Award winner), The Ole Settler (Writers'), Pill Hill (eta Creative Arts Foundation-BTAA winner). Regional and international credits include Dreamgirls (Theatre Orb [Tokyo, Japan], Festival Hall [Osaka, Japan], Fulton [Lancaster, PA], Maine State Music Theatre [Brunswick, ME]), Ruined and Death and the King's Horseman (St. Louis Black Rep), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (HotCity), Mama (Unity), Beowulf (Metro), and many others. Kelvin is an artistic associate at Congo Square, represented by Paonessa Talent and a proud member of AEA.

Ebony Wimbs (Vera) returns to Court after last performing here in The First Breeze of Summer. Other Chicago credits include TimeLine, Mary-Archie, Goodman, Eclipse Theatre, Victory Gardens, MPAACT, and Sinnerman Ensemble. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University, The School at Steppenwolf, and a proud member of AEA.

Curtain times are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 3 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Ticket prices are $35 to $45 for preview performances; $45 to $65 for regular run performances. Tickets are available at the Box Office, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago; (773) 753-4472 or online at Student and senior discounts available. Groups of 10 or more may purchase discounted tickets by calling Kate Vangeloff at 773-834-3243.

Now in its 59th 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. Court Theatre is the professional theatre in residence at the University of Chicago continuing to discover the power of classic theatre.

Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

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