IN THE HEIGHTS, THE DUCHESS OF MALFI and More Set for The Theatre School at DePaul University's 2014-15 Season

The Theatre School at DePaul University has announced the 2014-15 season -- featuring two world premieres, reimagined classics, contemporary pieces, and engaging entertainment for the whole family. This year marks the 90th anniversary season, as well as the second year of presenting productions at the school's new artistic home at Racine and Fullerton. The Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series will continue to engage Chicago families at DePaul's historic Merle Reskin Theatre in the South Loop.

The school continues its mission to train the next generation of theatre artists in all disciplines, supported by a world-class faculty and staff. Public programming serves as an extension of the conservatory classrooms and design/technical labs -- engaging audiences to experience the work of tomorrow's designers, directors, actors, dramatrugs, and theatre professionals.


Lisa Portes will direct IN THE HEIGHTS with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, book Quiara Alegría Hudes, and conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The production opens on October 3, with previews on October 1 and 2, and closes on October 12. IN THE HEIGHTS tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York's Washington Heights neighborhood-a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It's a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.

Kelvin Wong (MFA Directing, Class of 2015) will direct Steven Berkoff's METAMORPHOSIS, the surreal and disturbing account of a dysfunctional family. The production opens on February 6, with previews on February 4 and 5, and closes on February 15. Gregor Samsa, an overworked salesperson, wakes up from disturbing dreams to find he has transformed into an insect-like creature. His new condition disorients the Samsa family household who depend on him for their bread and butter. Gregor can't communicate, can't get enough to eat, and he certainly can't head into work. His desperation grows, as does his family's, as the world they thought they knew is turned upside-down.

Lavina Jadhwani (MFA Directing, Class of 2015) will direct John Webster's THE DUCHESS OF MALFI. This poetic Jacobean drama is notoriously considered to be one of the greatest blood baths of the stage. The production will open on April 17, with previews on April 15 and 16, and will close April 26. The Duchess asserts her freedom of choice to marry whom she pleases, even if her beloved Antonio is "beneath her class." Her brothers retaliate in protest and send their henchman, Bosola, to keep an eye on the Duchess. The result: a tragedy full of complex players, destruction, violence, greed, secrets, madness, murders, double crosses, poison, treachery, and good old fashioned aristocratic revenge.


In the fall, Andrew Peters (MFA Directing, Class of 2016) will direct Noah Haidle's VIGILS. The production will open on November 7, with previews on November 5 and 6, and close on November 16. It has been two years since a Widow's husband -- a fireman -- died in a heroic act, but she is not ready to move on. She captures her husband's Soul in a box, while his Body wanders around their home, replaying memories from their lives together and giving occasional hugs. When a Wooer appears on the scene, the Widow finds herself faced with the choice and consequences of letting go. At once heartbreaking and hilarious, VIGILS is a generous and bittersweet play about the absurdities of loss, change, and love.

In the winter, Brian Balcom (MFA Directing, Class of 2016) will direct Molly Smith Metzler's ELEMENO PEA. The production opens February 13, with previews on February 11 and 12, and closes on February 22. Labor Day has come and gone on Martha's Vineyard when Devon arrives to visit her sister Simone at her place of employment: a grand estate on the island. When Simone's wealthy employer reappears in the midst of a marital crisis, the weekend is thrown into chaos. The conflict pits family against money in this struggle between the haves and the have-nots. Waves crash and sisters clash in this tumultuous comedy about the sacrifices we make to stay on top.

In May, The Theatre School is proud to present a world premiere piece, written by Chicago playwright Laura Jacqmin, and directed by Dexter Bullard. This production will feature the Class of 2015 Master of Fine Arts in Acting candidates. The production will open on May 15 (with previews on May 13 and 14), and will close on May 24. The title will be announced in the coming months, along with additional information.


The Merle Reskin Theatre is located at 60 E. Balbo Drive (at Michigan) in Chicago's thriving South Loop neighborhood. Founded as the Goodman Children's Theatre in 1925, and recognized as a pioneer of theatre for families, Chicago Playworks is dedicated to reflecting our audience's experiences in an urban, contemporary, and multi-ethnic environment.

Chicago Playworks opens the season with THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, by Susan Nanus, and based on the book by Norton Juster. Special guest David Catlin (Lookingglass Theatre Company) will direct. Milo is bored in his bedroom until a magical tollbooth appears and transports him to the Kingdom of Wisdom. Here he discovers the magic of words and numbers, travels to strange lands like Dictionopolis and Digitopolis, and meets a Mathemagician, Spelling Bee, and other curious friends. Will they be able to save Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason if they work together? Based on the beloved book, this whimsical fairy tale proves that imagination and knowledge can change the world! This production is recommended for ages 7 and up. Educational themes include: discovery; fables; idioms, metaphor, and wordplay; imagination; literary adaptation; mathematics, numbers, and patterns; perseverance; personification; and teamwork. THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH opens on October 7, and closes on November 15, with performances on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 10 AM, and Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM.

In January, Chicago Playworks presents SYMPHONY OF CLOUDS, by Margaret Larlham, and directed by Ann Wakefield. Follow the adventures and joyful milestones in the life of young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: boy genius, musical prodigy, and gifted composer. Discover how nature inspires and impacts Mozart, and how his family faces the acclaim, fame, trials, and tribulations of his early creative life in this story infused with music, dance, and a bit of magic. This production is recommended for all ages. Educational themes include: biography; classical music and composition; family; happiness and growing pains; health and illness; history; and nature. SYMPHONY OF CLOUDS opens on January 13 and closes on February 21, 2015, with performances on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 10 AM, and Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM.

The final installment of the 14-15 Chicago Playworks season is THE DAY JOHN HENRY CAME TO SCHOOL, by Eric Pfeffinger, and directed by Ernie Nolan. John Henry loves technology but doesn't love doing his homework. If buttons and gadgets are not involved, he's not interested. When his teacher, Mr. Gellert, is replaced by a mega-computer, Johnny couldn't be happier. Then his steel-driving great-great-grandfather arrives for show-and-tell, and Johnny must take on the challenge of his life! This contemporary tall tale focuses on the value of hard work and the strength of the human spirit. This production is recommended for ages 8 and up. Educational themes include: ancestry; confidence; diligence; folklore and tall tales; motivation; technology and humanity. THE DAY JOHN HENRY CAME TO SCHOOL opens on April 7 and closes on May 16, 2015, with performances on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 10 AM, and Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM.

For specific performance dates and times, please check the website. Tickets to all performances are available online at or by calling the Box Office at (312) 922-1999. Single tickets for Chicago Playworks are $10. Single tickets for performances in the Fullerton Stage and Healy Theatre are $15. Student tickets are always $5. Subscriptions and group discounts are available.

The Theatre School at DePaul University educates, trains, and inspires students of theatre in a conservatory setting that is rigorous, disciplined, culturally diverse, and that strives for the highest level of professional skill and artistry. A commitment to diversity and equality in education is central to our mission. As an integral part of the training, The Theatre School produces public programs and performances from a wide repertoire of classic, contemporary, and original plays that challenge, entertain, and stimulate the imagination. We seek to enhance the intellectual and cultural life of our university community, our city, and the profession.

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