EASTLAND: A NEW MUSICAL To Make World Premiere at Chicago's Historic Water Tower Works 6/16 - 7/29


Lookingglass Theatre Company presents the world premiere of EASTLAND: A NEW MUSICAL, written by Artistic Director Andrew White with music by Ben Sussman and Artistic Associate Andre Pluess and directed by Amanda Dehnert. The production runs June 6 – July 29, 2012 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. The Press Opening is Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.

July 25,1915: the S.S. EASTLAND sits on the Chicago River between Clark St. and LaSalle, overflowing with passengers. Slowly the boat leans to port - and keeps leaning, until finally it tips and comes to rest on its side. By day's end, hundreds will perish, whole families will vanish, and unexpected heroes will emerge. Unforgettable melodies and haunting harmonies inspired by early American folk music weave a tapestry of working class stories and colorful characters, giving voice to the victims and heroes of that fateful day.

Artistic Director Andrew White (Of One Blood, 1984) resurrects the ghosts of America's forgotten tragedy in this Lookingglass Original musical, with music by Ben Sussman and Artistic Associate Andre Pluess, the team behind the score of Lookingglass Alice, 1984, Metamorphoses, Hard Times, and The Secret in the Wings, as well as the acclaimed Winesburg, Ohio.

EASTLAND is based in part on events recounted in Jay Bonansinga's The Sinking of the EASTLAND: America's Forgotten Tragedy.

Artistic Director Andrew White comments, "This play revives the ghosts of those who drowned in this Chicago disaster of 1915, and asks questions about which events linger in our memory and which become lost to history. Told through a musical narrative, it weaves three characters' stories into a tapestry of memory and longing, with the strains of American folk music driving the events of that day to their inevitable finish. It is a quintessential Chicago story told in quintessential Lookingglass fashion, and will be a dynamic and powerful production for audiences of all ages."

EASTLAND: A NEW MUSICAL features Ensemble Members Larry DiStasi (Otto, Olaf and others), Christine Mary Dunford (Marianne and others), and Doug Hara (Reggie), as well as Jeanne T. Arrigo (Sister, musician and others), Derek Hasenstab (Husband, Houdini and others), Erik Hellman (Grocer, musician and others), Malcolm Ruhl (Musician and others/Music Director), Michael Smith (Pedersen, musician and others), Scott Stangland (Ernie, musician and others), Tiffany Topal (Solveig and others), Claire Wellin (Bobbie) and Monica West (Ilse).

Designers include Ensemble Members Dan Ostling (scenic), Mara Blumenfeld (costume), as well as Company Members Christine A. Binder (lighting), Ray Nardelli and Josh Horvath (sound); with Maria DeFabo (properties). Malcolm Ruhl is the music director.

The Chicago Community Trust, National Endowment for the Arts: Art Works and United Airlines are Production Supporters of EASTLAND: A NEW MUSICAL. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Lookingglass Theatre.

EASTLAND is the recipient of The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award.

Lookingglass is continuing its tradition of partnering with organizations in the community to enhance the audience experience with additional education and outreach programming. Season Community Partners include: Chicago History Museum, Chicago Architecture Foundation, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. Production community partners include EASTLAND Disaster Historic Society, American Red Cross Chicago Chapter, Old Town School of Folk Music and Friends of the Chicago River.


Andrew White (Writer/Artistic Director/Ensemble Member) has appeared in more than thirty Lookingglass productions, most recently in Ethan Frome. He wrote and directed Of One Blood in 1989 and his adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 received a 2004 Joseph Jefferson Award. He has taught in various Lookingglass Outreach programs and residencies, and recently co-founded a new company, Mosaic Experience, which uses an arts-based approach to dialogue about diversity.

Amanda Dehnert (Director and Music Arrangement) is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Northwestern University. Recent productions include Julius Caesar (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), The Verona Project (words and music by Amanda Dehnert, world premiere, California Shakespeare Theatre), Peter Pan (A Play) (by Amanda Dehnert, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Joseph Jefferson Award nomination, best new adaptation), Death of a Salesman (Dallas Theatre Center), The Fantasticks (Long Wharf Theatre and Arena Stage), Not Wanted On The Voyage (Brian Hill/Neil Bartram, the American Musical Theatre Project), Cabaret (Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Canada), Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), My Fair Lady (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Playhouse, Virginia Stage Company), and a staged reading of The Two Gentlemen of Verona – The Rock Opera (Shakespeare Theatre, D.C.)

Andre Pluess (Artistic Associate) & Ben Sussman(Co-Composers) Based in Chicago, credits include composition and sound design for numerous productions for Lookingglass Theatre, Court Theatre, the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Northlight, Victory Gardens Theater, About Face Theatre and many other Chicago and regional theaters. Broadway credits: Metamorphoses, I Am My Own Wife, 33 Variations and The Clean House (Lincoln Center). Pluess and Sussman have received multiple Joseph Jefferson Awards, an L.A. Ovation Award, Barrymore Award, Drama Critics Circle Award, and Drama Desk/ Lortel nominations for composition and sound design. Recent projects include Cascabel (Lookingglass), Equivocation (Arena Stage), Stage Kiss (Goodman Theatre), Endgame (Steppenwolf); Milk Like Sugar (La Jolla Playhouse/Playwrights Horizons); Arabian Nights and Argonautika (LTC and regional productions), Ghost Light and White Snake (both at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and MacBeth and Titus (both at the California Shakespeare Festival).

Jeanne T. Arrigo (Sister, musician and others) returns to Lookingglass, having played "Ilse" for the staged reading of EASTLAND last year for the "In The Works" series at Millennium Park. She was most recently seen at the Chicago Cultural Center's DCA theatre this past spring in another new work, Las Hermanas Padilla, with Chicago Fusion Theatre. Prior to that, she worked with Griffin Theatre Co. in their national Fall tour of Letters Home. Other credits include "Chloe" in Lips Together, Teeth Apart with Remarcable Productions; Woody Guthrie's American Song with BlindFaith Theatre Co. and past work with Steep Theatre Co. and Illinois Theatre Center. Also a singer/songwriter with two CD's to her credit, Jeanne totes her guitar around town to auditions and gigs.

Larry DiStasi (Otto, Olaf and others/Ensemble Member) was last seen onstage at the Water Tower Water Works as "Daedalus" in Lookingglass Theatre's Icarus. Since 1988 he's appeared in over 30 Lookingglass productions. He helped create the Lookingglass Theatre Company, The Actors Gymnasium Circus and Performing Arts School. He's appeared in the Flying Griffin Circus, T.V.'s "Early Edition," a film called Since You've Been Gone and an opera called Galileo Galilei. He recently directed Lost and Found: A Recycled Circus at The Actors Gymnasium.

Christine Mary Dunford (Marianne and others/Ensemble Member) has been a Lookingglass Ensemble Member since 1989 and has appeared in nearly two dozen Lookingglass productions in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Most recently she appeared as "Gail," the counselor, in Trust, and "Mrs. Webb" in Our Town. Some of her favorite roles include "Maria" in The Jungle and "Contessa"/"Philomena" in Vanishing Twin. Over the years Christine has served the company as managing director and director of development, and she has taught with Lookingglass' Education and Community program since its inception. In addition to Lookingglass, Christine has worked with a number of other Chicago and regional theaters, in television, films, and in radio plays. Christine has an MA in cultural anthropology and PhD in performance studies, and teaches at Northwestern, DePaul and Roosevelt Universities. In 2009 Christine cofounded the Memory Ensemble, a joint project of Lookingglas and Northwestern's Alzheimer's Disease Center (CNADC) that uses performance activities and improvisation to improve life for people with memory loss. In 2012, Christine will direct her own adaptation of Still Alice, a novel by Lisa Genova that explores what it's like to live with Alzheimer's Disease.

Doug Hara (Reggie/Ensemble Member) is an ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre Company where he has participated in 16 productions since 1991 including Metamorphoses, West, Arabian Nights, Up Against It, The Master and Margarita, Lookingglass Hamlet, Lookingglass Alice, and The Brothers Karamazov. Goodman Theatre Productions include Journey to the West and The Odyssey. Arden Theatre productions include A Prayer for Owen Meany, Something Intangible, Threepenny Opera, and Cyrano. Two River Theater Productions include Our Town, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Charlotte's Web, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and HONK! Broadway credits: The Boys of Winter and Metamorphoses. Off-Broadway: The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, and Lookingglass Alice. Doug has performed at many regional theatres including, About Face Theatre, Jellyeye Drum Opera, Huntington Theatre, Berkeley Repertory, Seattle Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, The ALLIANCE THEATRE, Syracuse Stage, Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Brooklyn Academy Of Music, and Joyce Theatre.

Derek Hasenstab (Husband, Houdini and others) Chicago credits include: Sunday In The Park With George, SS!, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and Disney's Aladdin (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); A Streetcar Named Desire (Writers' Theatre); Phyro Giants!, Dealer's Choice, Ecstasy (RoadWorks Productions); A Home at the End of the World, Cloud Nine (After Dark Award, About Face Theatre); Oedipus Complex (Goodman Theater); Animals Out Of Paper, Disappeared (Steppenwolf Theater); I Hate Hamlet, The Buddy Holly Story, A Christmas Carol, The Foreigner (After Dark Award, Drury Lane Oakbrook); High Fidelity (Route 66 Theater); Pride's Crossing, Hitting For The Cycle (Famous Door Theater); A Civil War Christmas (Northlight Theater). Regional Credits include: The Glass Menagerie (Kansas City Repertory) and Metamorphoses (Mark Taper Forum). Broadway National Tour: The Lion King.

Erik Hellman (Grocer, musician and others) is working at Lookingglass for the first time. Other Chicago credits include Hesperia (Writers' Theatre); Comedy of Errors, The Mystery of Irma Vep (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination-Lead Actor), Titus Andronicus and Arcadia (Court Theatre); Madness of King George III, Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth and Edward II (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Honest, Elephant Man and Huck Finn (Steppenwolf Theatre); All My Sons (Timeline); The Busy World is Hushed (Next Theatre); Tartuffe (Remy Bumppo); Hatfield and McCoy (The House Theatre of Chicago) and multiple performances as an ensemble member of Strawdog Theatre Company. Outside of Chicago Erik has appeared in Dracula at The Geva Theatre and Indianapolis Repertory Theatre, where he played the title role in Romeo and Juliet, as well as I Just Stopped By to See The Man (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); Romeo and Juliet and All's Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare Santa Cruz) Oh The Humanity and Mr. Marmalade (Houston's Stages Repertory Theatre); and Off-Broadway in Macbeth (Mirror Repertory Theatre). Film/TV work includes The Dark Knight and "The Chicago Code" and the upcoming season of "Boss." He plays around town with the folk duo Erik and Jessie.

Malcolm Ruhl (Musician and others/Music Director) Musical Direction: Hairspray, Pump Boys and Dinettes (Jeff Nomination) and Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story at Drury Lane Theatre; Ain't Misbehavin' at the Goodman Theatre; Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Oklahoma! (Jeff Nomination) at American Theatre Company; Woody Guthrie's American Song (Jeff Award), Blues in the Night (Jeff Nomination), and Smoke on the Mountain at Northlight Theatre; Pump Boys and Dinettes at the Apollo and Forum Theatres; Grease (Theatre at the Center); Big River (Apple Tree Theatre). Orchestration: A Little Night Music (Writers' Theatre); The Original Grease, Oklahoma! (American Theatre Company); Heart of Spain. Musical Coordinator: Million Dollar Quartet (Apollo Theatre). Malcolm appeared as "Jackson" in the Broadway production of Pump Boys and Dinettes. Composition: Holiday Memories (Northlight Theatre), Cicada Dance (Kennedy Center/ACTF) and several choral works published by Final Score Music.

Michael Smith (Pedersen, musician and others) wrote the music for and performed in Steppenwolf's The Grapes Of Wrath, wrote and performed in Victory Gardens' Michael Margaret Pat & Kate, was musical director and performed in Victory Gardens' Hello Dali, was musical director and performed in Pasiones at Theater On The Lake, and wrote the adaptation and music for and performed in Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen at Victory Gardens.

Scott Stangland (Ernie, musician and others) is making his Lookingglass debut with EASTLAND. He was last seen in Remy Bumppo Theatre's production of Mourning Becomes Electra, in the role of "Orin Mannon." His Chicago credits include Murder For Two [u/s], Short Shakespeare Macbeth, and Julius Caesar (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Boy Gets Girl (Eclipse Theatre Company); Every Christmas Story Ever Told (Noble Fool Theatricals); Man From Nebraska (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); and As You Like It [u/s] (Writers' Theatre). Regional credits include Romeo & Juliet and Comedy of Errors (Michigan Shakespeare Festival); Romeo & Juliet and Antony & Cleopatra (Colorado Shakespeare Festival). Film credits: Contagion and Men of Honor. Television credits: "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story" (TNT). He received his MFA in Acting from The Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University.

Tiffany Topal (Solveig and others) is excited to be making her Lookingglass debut. She was most recently seen in the Marriott Theater's productions of Legally Blonde (Margot) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Other recent credits include White Christmas, 42nd Street, How Can You Run With a Shell on Your Back? (Marriott Theater), Cabaret (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Hairspray (Cape Playhouse), and Xanadu (1st National Tour). Ms. Topol also currently performs throughout Chicagoland with her singer/songwriter project, Glad Fanny.

Claire Wellin (Bobbie) is making her Lookingglass debut with the telling of this story. Previous Chicago credits include Man In Love and To Kill A Mockingbird with Steppenwolf Theatre and the Jeff-Award Winning Killer Joe with Profiles Theatre. TV credits include "Detroit 1-8-7" and "Reconstruction." Claire has a love for writing and sharing music and is working on a solo project as well as a collaborative work called Birds of a Feather with Arielle Luckmann.

Monica West (Ilse) makes her Lookingglass debut in EASTLAND. Regional: Guthrie, Actors Theatre of Louisville, NYS&F, Westport Country Playhouse, George Street. NY: Roundabout, Barrow Street, 59E59, Cherry Lane. Television: "Law and Order," "One Life to Live." Monica originated the role of "Baby" in the North American Premiere of Dirty Dancing and she is one half of the comedic duo, MVPleez. MVPleez has been featured on HuffPo Comedy, New York Magazine, and Village Voice among others. Monica graduated with honors from Marquette University.

EASTLAND: A NEW MUSICAL -Dates, Times and Ticket Information Tickets are available online, www.lookingglasstheatre.org; by phone, (312) 337-0665; or at the Lookingglass Theatre box office, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. For more information and box office hours, visit www.lookingglasstheatre.org.

Previews of EASTLAND: A NEW MUSICAL are June 6 – June 15, 2012. The press opening is Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. The production runs through July 29, 2012. Tickets are $24-$68. 

Target Saturday Matinees offer a limited number of buy one, get one free tickets which are available to all 3:00 p.m. Saturday matinees. This program is made possible with the generous support of Target, working with Lookingglass to make the arts accessible to all.

A limited number of student tickets are available the day of the show for $20 with valid student ID.

Groups of 10 or more people save up o 20% on tickets. Special student group tickets are also available.

Lookingglass Theatre is located in the heart of the Magnificent Mile shopping district inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. Discounted parking is available for Lookingglass patrons at both the nearby John Hancock Center and Olympia Centre Self Park (161 E. Chicago Ave.). To purchase tickets, call the Lookingglass Theatre box office at (312) 337-0665 or visit lookingglasstheatre.org.

The Chicago Community Trust, National Endowment for the Arts: Art Works and United Airlines are Production Supporters of EASTLAND: A NEW MUSICAL. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Lookingglass Theatre.

EASTLAND is the recipient of The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award.

About Lookingglass Theatre Company Inventive. Collaborative. Transformative. Lookingglass Theatre Company, recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award, was founded in 1988 by eight Northwestern University students. 2011- 2012 marks the company's 24th anniversary season. Lookingglass is home to a multi-disciplined ensemble of artists who create story-centered theatrical work that is physical, aurally rich and visually metaphoric. Lookingglass has staged 57 world premieres at 23 venues across Chicago, and garnered 52 Joseph Jefferson Awards and Citations.

Work premiered at Lookingglass has been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Princeton, Hartford, Kansas City, Washington D.C., and St. Louis. Lookingglass original scripts have been produced across the United States.

The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago's landmark Water Tower Water Works opened in June 2003. In addition to developing and presenting ensemble work, Lookingglass Education and Community programs encourage creativity, teamwork and confidence with thousands of community members each year.

Lookingglass Theatre Company continues to expand its artistic, financial and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Andrew White, Executive Director Rachel Kraft, Producing Artistic Director Philip R. Smith, Artistic Director of New Work Heidi Stillman, a 22-member artistic ensemble, 15 artistic associates, 11 production affiliates, an administrative staff and a dedicated board of directors led by Chairman Richard Ditton of Incredible Technologies and President Joe Brady of Jones Lang LaSalle. For more information, visit lookingglasstheatre.org.

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