Court Theatre's 59th Season Closes with David Henry Hwang's M. BUTTERFLY, Now thru 5/16

Court Theatre's 59th Season Closes with David Henry Hwang's M. BUTTERFLY, Now thru 5/16

Court Theatre closes its 2013-2014 season with the Chicago premiere of M. Butterfly written by David Henry Hwang and directed by Artistic Director Charles Newell, with choreography by Jamie Guan. M. Butterfly will run today, May 8 - June 8, 2014 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue. Press Opening is Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 8:00PM.

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play, M. Butterfly is an exquisitely delicate and aggressively original play about sex, espionage, and Imperialism. Skillfully intertwining the story of Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly with an extraordinary plot inspired by true events, M. Butterfly untangles the story of Rene Gallimard, a meek French civil servant who meets the woman of his dreams in Song Liling, a beautiful, Chinese opera diva. What Gallimard doesn't realize-or refuses to see-is that his "modest Chinese girl" may be much more than she appears. M. Butterfly has become a post-modern classic whose exploration of the sexual politics of East and West continues to resonate today.

"M. Butterfly gloriously captures the human necessity to create an ideal, divine love, and it is David Henry Hwang's uncanny ability to tap into the essential nature of love that most captivates me about this work," says Artistic Director Charles Newell. "I have long wanted to bring this modern classic to life for Court audiences. Given the opportunity to work in concert with the University of Chicago and the Smart Museum of Art on a festival of Chinese arts and culture enabled us to create a more immersive experience that's in keeping with our mission to be the Center for Classic Theatre."

M. Butterfly features Nate Braga (Song Liling), Laura Coover (Renee), Sean Fortunato (Rene Gallimard), Aurora Adachi-Winter (Kurogo Dancer), Erin Clyne (Kurogo Dancer), Emjoy Gavino (Comrade Chin), Terry Hamilton (Toulon), Mark Montgomery (Marc), and Karen Woditsch (Helga).

The creative team is Jamie Guan (Choreographer), Todd Rosenthal (Scenic Designer), Lydia Tanji (Costume Designer), Keith Parham (Lighting Designer), and Andre Pluess (Sound Designer). Amanda Weener is the Stage Manager.

The idea for Court Theatre to produce M. Butterfly was born out of a conversation between Judith Zeitlin, a University of Chicago professor who specializes in the history of Chinese opera, and Artistic Director Charles Newell. Newell was inspired to direct M. Butterfly after learning that Zeitlin was curating a museum exhibit on images of Chinese opera at the Smart Museum, right next door to Court Theatre.

Now, Court's production and Smart's exhibit are headlining a months-long festival at the University of Chicago, Envisioning China: A Festival of Arts and Culture.

Envisioning China runs February 13 -June 15, 2014. For more information on the Envisioning China, visit Court's micro-site at

Performing Images exhibition at the Smart Museum of Art

The Smart Museum of Art on the campus of University of Chicago is housing one of the first major exhibitions of its kind in the West, Performing Images focuses on the vibrant imagery, rather than ethnographic artifacts, of Chinese opera. The exhibition showcases how operatic characters and stories were represented in pictorial and decorative motifs in a wide array of media including ceramics, illustrated books, painted fans, prints, photographs, scroll paintings, and textiles. Featuring nearly eighty remarkable objects on loan from major museum collections, the exhibition and its catalogue reveal how Chinese visual and performing traditions were aesthetically, ritually, and commercially intertwined. Tuesday -Sunday 12-5 with extended hours on Thursday until 8pm.

M. Butterfly University of Chicago Student Night

Friday, May 9, 2014 at 8 PM

University of Chicago students are invited to enjoy free food and soda after the performance of M. Butterfly on Friday, May 9, 2014. University of Chicago student tickets are always just $15 with valid U of C ID.

Charles Newell (Director/Artistic Director) has been Artistic Director of Court Theatre since 1994, where he has directed over 30 productions. He made his Chicago directorial debut in 1993 with The Triumph of Love, which won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. Directorial highlights at Court include Porgy and Bess, Three Tall Women, The Year of Magical Thinking, The Wild Duck, Caroline, Or Change, Titus Andronicus, Arcadia, Man of La Mancha, Uncle Vanya, Raisin, The Glass Menagerie, Travesties, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Hamlet, The Invention of Love, The Little Foxes, Nora, and The Misanthrope. Charlie has also directed at the Goodman Theatre (Rock 'n' Roll), the Guthrie Theater (Resident Director: The History Cycle, Cymbeline), Arena Stage, John Houseman's The Acting Company (Staff Repertory Director), the California and Alabama Shakespeare Festivals, Juilliard, and New York University. He is the recipient of the 1992 TCG Alan Schneider Director Award. He has served on the Board of Theatre Communications Group, as well as on several panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. Opera directing credits include Marc Blitzstein's Regina at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Rigoletto at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Charlie is a multiple Joseph Jefferson Award (Chicago's highest theatrical honor) nominee and recipient. Recently, his production of Caroline, Or Change at Court was the recipient of four Joseph Jefferson Awards, including Best Production-Musical and Best Director-Musical.

David Henry Hwang's (Playwright) plays include M. Butterfly (1988 Tony Award, 1989 Pulitzer Finalist), Golden Child (1998 Tony nomination, 1997 OBIE Award), Yellow (2008 OBIE Award, 2008 Pulitzer Finalist), FOB (1981 OBIE Award), The Dance and the Railroad (1982 Drama Desk nomination), Family Devotions (1982 Drama Desk Nomination), and Bondage. He wrote the books for the Broadway musicals Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida (coauthor), the revival of Flower Drum Song (2002 Tony nomination), and Disney's Tarzan. In opera, his libretti include Philip Glass' The Voyage (Metropolitan Opera), Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar (two 2007 Grammy Awards), Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland (Opernwelt 2007 "World Premiere of the Year"), and Howard Shore's The Fly. Hwang also penned the feature films M. Butterfly, Golden Gate, and Possession (coauthor). He serves on the Council of the Dramatists Guild and was appointed by President Clinton to the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Jamie Guan (Choreographer) began his training at age ten when he entered the Institute for Performing Arts in Beijing, China. Following his graduation eight years later, he was invited to join the Peking Opera Troupe No. 1 and performed with that prestigious group for fifteen years, specializing in martial arts warrior roles and touring internationally. He made his Broadway debut as actor and choreographer with David Henry Hwang's Tony Award winning play M. Butterfly, and continued in those capacities with the London, Rome and Canadian productions and the American national tour. His choreography credits also include The Woman Warrior, F.O.B., Dragonwings, Last of the Suns, The Tempest, and Red. Mr. Guan choreographed and appeared in The Silver River at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in 1997. In 1998, he was a movement consultant for the Broadway production of Tony-nominated Golden Child. Most recently he has worked with Debbie Allen.

He has done Chinese martial arts choreography for Soul Possessed and Dream at The Kennedy Center in 2000, and he worked as Associate Choreographer for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon at the 73rd Annual Academy Awards in 2001. Mr. Guan choreographed for the Broadway production of Flower Drum Song in 2002, the Warner Brothers film adaptation of M. Butterfly in 1991, and Saving Face in 2003. He choreographed Red and M. Butterfly at Theaterworks Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre in 2004 /2006/ 2013 as well as Flower Drum Song at San Jose Musical Theater in 2008. He choreographed Romayana Musical and Indonesian Productions in 2010 and Blush's Music Video "Warrior" in 2012. He is currently working on David Hwang's new play Kung Fu, which will premiere at Signature Theater in 2014.

Aurora Adachi-Winter (Kurogo Dancer) makes her Court debut in M. Butterfly, and was last seen as Ora in Ghost Bike with Buzz22 Chicago. Past credits include: Miss Saigon at the Paramount Theatre, Sketchbook13 at Collaboraction, and She Kills Monsters at the Steppenwolf Garage. Aurora received her B.F.A. in acting from the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign, and is a founding member of Chicago's Definition Theatre Co. Proudly represented by Gray Talent. Love to Luke and my Mama & Popsicle.

Nathaniel Braga (Song Liling) makes his Court Theatre debut in M. Butterfly. Previous credits: Guthrie Theater, North Shore Music Theater, Maltz Jupiter Theater (Carbonell Award Nominee), Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Theater Under the Stars-Houston. Chicago Area Theaters: Marriott Lincolnshire, Drury Lane Oakbrook, and Theater at the Center. Two seasons at the MUNY St. Louis. Television: HMS Pinafore (PBS Fall Arts Festival). He is a two-time Minnesota State gymnastics champion and plays the violin professionally. Proud AEA member.

Erin Clyne (Kurogo Dancer) makes his Court Theatre debut in M. Butterfly. She was previously seen on stage a Maggie in Brigadoon with Light Opera Works. She has also been seen in concert dance venues with companies such as Chicago Dance Crash among others, recently in the short film Beat, and regional commercials, She has a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from George Mason University, and is a licensed massage therapist.

Laura Coover (Renee) makes her Court debut in M. Butterfly. She is an ensemble member at American Blues Theatre, where she recently appeared in Hank Williams: Lost Highway, and Tobacco Road. She has also had the pleasure of working at Writers' Theatre (The Lion in Winter, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead), Goodman Theatre (A Christmas Carol), Eclipse Theatre (Blue Surge, Six Degrees of Separation), and Remy Bumppo (Marriage of Figaro). She is currently based in LA, but loves being home, and working with such wonderful people.

Sean Fortunato (Rene Gallimard) last appeared at Court in Scapin. Recent credits include: Hedda Gabler, The Real Thing, Travels with my Aunt, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Writers Theatre), Cyrano de Bergerac, School for Lies, Sunday in the Park with George, Timon of Athens (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Measure for Measure (Goodman Theatre), and work at Marriott Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Timeline Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre, Theatre at the Center, About Face Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Old Globe Theatre, CA, The Duke on 42nd, NY, and ten seasons with Peninsula Players where he recently played George in Sunday in the Park with George. Fortunato appeared as Ted in the film The Merry Gentleman, directed by Michael Keaton. He has received four Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and an After Dark Award.

Emjoy Gavino (Comrade Chin) made her Court Theatre debut as Suzy in Wait Until Dark. Recent Chicago credits: 4000 Miles (Northlight), The Drunken City (Steppenwolf), Failure: A Love Story (Victory Gardens), Seascape (Remy Bumppo), Hair (Paramount), Working (Broadway Playhouse), Arabian Nights (Lookingglass), Christmas Carol (Goodman), Wilson Wants it All (House) and Neo-Futurist Christmas Carol (Neo-futurists). Emjoy is a company member and teaching artist with Barrel of Monkeys and a new ensemble member of Remy Bumppo. Regional credits: The Violet Hour (Repertory Actors Theatre) and Searching 4 Y (Village Theatre). Film/TV: Chicago Fire, Mob Doctor, Boss, and Freudian Slip. Emjoy graduated from the School at Steppenwolf in 2010.

Terry Hamilton (Toulon) M. Butterfly marks Hamilton's debut at Court Theatre. Other Chicago credits include To Master the Art, produced by The Chicago Commercial Collective for Broadway in Chicago. He has appeared at TimeLine Theatre in Blood and Gifts, 33 Variations, Enron, The Front Page, and The History Boys and was nominated for a Jeff Award for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon. Hamilton has performed on the stages of Writer's Theatre in Rosencrantz & Guilderstern Are Dead and The Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Julius Caesar,Timon of Athens, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Three Musketeers. Hamilton will make his Steppenwolf debut in Lisa d'amour's new play Airline Highway in December. Television credits include Mind Games, Shameless, The Playboy Club, and Chicago Code. Film credits include the soon to be released, A Conspiracy on Jekyll Island.

Karen Woditsch (Helga) makes her Court Theatre debut in M. Butterfly. Chicago credits include Heartbreak House, Do the Hustle, Othello (After Dark Award Best Performance), Seagull, Butley, Rocket to the Moon, A Phoenix Too Frequent and Spite for Spite at Writers', Julia Child in the world premier of To Master the Art(Jeff Nomination-Best Actress), TimeLine Theatre; Other Desert Cities, Crumbs from the Table of Joy and Christmas Carol, Goodman Theatre; Chalk Garden and Pride and Prejudice, Northlight Theatre, and Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. She toured one season with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks and has performed in seven seasons with Peninsula Players. Karen can be seen in an Onion webisode and the feature film Johnson.

The show runs May 8 - May 16, 2014. Press opening: Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. Regular run: May 18 - June 8, 2014, playing Wed & Thurs: 7:30 PM; Fridays: 8:00 PM; Saturdays: 3:00 PM & 8:00 PM ; and Sundays: 2:30 PM & 7:30 PM at the Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. Tickets: $35-$45 previews; $45-$65 regular run. Box Office: Located at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago; (773) 753-4472 or

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. Court Theatre operates under an agreement between the League of Resident Theatres and Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States. Productions are made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and by a City Arts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Court Theatre is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American Theatre; the League of Resident Theatres; the Illinois Humanities Council; the Arts Alliance Illinois; the League of Chicago Theatres; and Hyde Park Cultural Alliance.

Related Articles

Chicago THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW Chicago  Follow BWW Chicago

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...