ONCE to be Presented at Writers Theatre in February

Once will be presented February 16 – March 26, 2023 in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre.

By: Jan. 30, 2023
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ONCE to be Presented at Writers Theatre in February

Writers Theatre will continue its 2022/23 Season with the Tony Award-winning musical Once, based on the 2007 film written and directed by John Carney. Once features music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, and book by Enda Walsh. The Writers Theatre production is directed and choreographed by Katie Spelman, with music direction by Matt Deitchman. Once will be presented February 16 - March 26, 2023 in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. The Press Opening is Friday, February 24, 2023 at 7:30pm.

Once is a soft-spoken, deeply felt musical about the forces that compel us to reach out to one another and hold on for dear life. Guy is a young Irish musician ready to give up his career because his songs, written about his ex-girlfriend, are too heartbreaking to perform any more. When he encounters Girl, an inquisitive young Czech woman who believes he could win his ex back by playing to her in New York City, he resumes writing and performing-now with Girl. As the two form their band, and write new songs together, a love grows between them-one that inspires and challenges them.

This 2012 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical is based on the 2007 Irish musical film and features gorgeous songs like the Oscar-winning "Falling Slowly." Performed by an accomplished cast of actors playing their own instruments on the intimate Nichols Theatre stage, this will be a Once like you've never seen it before.

Interim Artistic Director Bobby Kennedy comments, "After far too long an absence, a musical finally returns to the Writers Theatre stage. Once inevitably charms its way into your heart from the moment you hear Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's gorgeous music, whether it be in the 2007 Oscar-winning film or the excellent stage adaptation that won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical. Director/Choreographer Katie Spelman and Music Director Matt Deitchman have assembled a company of Chicago's finest actor-musicians who will fill the intimate Nichols Theatre stage to tell this beloved story about the pain of heartbreak, the electricity of new possibilities, and the joy of live music."

The cast includes: Kajsa Allen and Viva Boresi (Ivonka), Elisa Carlson (Reza), Yuchi Chiu (Bank Manager), Matt Deitchman (Eamon, understudy Guy), Elleon Dobias (Ex-Girlfriend, understudy Reza), Matt Edmonds (Billy), Jordan Golding (Emcee, understudy Svec, Billy), Lucas Looch Johnson (Svec), Matt Mueller (Guy), Liam Oh (Andrej), Dana Saleh Omar (Girl), Ron E. Rains (Da), and Bethany Thomas (Baruska).The understudies are: Harper Caruso (Emcee, Eamon), Tim Kidwell (Da), Bridget Adams King (Baruska) Ben Mathew (Bank Manager, Andrej), Alina Jenine Taber (Girl) and Jennifer Vosters (Ex-Girlfriend).

The creative team includes: Katie Spelman (Director & Choreographer), Matt Deitchman (Music Director), Sammi Grant (Dialect Coach), Yael Lubetzky (Lighting Designer), Christopher M. LaPorte and Sarah Ramos (Sound Designer), Joonhee Park (Scenic Designer), Gregory Graham (Costume Designer), Rachel Watson (Properties Designer), and Erin Pleake (Projections Designer). The Production Stage Manager is Miranda Anderson, the Assistant Director is Madeline Curtin, the Assistant Music Director is Shraman Ghosh, and the Young Performers' Supervisor is Grace Weaver.

Tickets are now on sale at Writers Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe; 847-242-6000; www.writerstheatre.org.


Katie Spelman

(Director / Choreographer) is a Chicago born, Brooklyn based choreographer and director. Recent credits include The Notebook (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), The Beautiful Game (Toho Productions, Tokyo), AD 16 (Olney Theater), aren't you glad you stayed in (director, TEAM petri project) The Who's Tommy (Denver Center), Oklahoma! (Goodspeed; Connecticut Critics Nomination for Best Choreography), Cabaret (Olney Theater Company; Helen Hayes Nomination for Best Choreography; Paramount Theater, Joseph Jefferson Nomination for Best Musical) and the first live-streamed musical on Tik Tok, For You, Paige. She has also collaborated with Lookingglass Theatre Company, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Camerata Bern, Court Theatre, The Hypocrites, Asolo Repertory, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Timeline Theatre, Sideshow Theatre Company, The New Colony, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Northwestern University, and The Inconvenience. She was a Broadway Associate for Once, American Psycho, and Amelie. Katie was the Associate Choreographer on Moulin Rouge for the Boston, Broadway, and Australian companies, as well as a dance consultant on the West End and First National Tour productions; the Associate Choreographer on Rent Live! on Fox; and the Associate Director of Close to You in London (Chocolate Factory, West End). She was one of five choreographers awarded the SDCF Agnes De Mille commission, and her new work simone premiered in March 2019. Proud graduate of Northwestern University.

Kajsa Allen

(Ivonka) is making her Writers Theatre debut. She is an 8-year-old actor/model who resides in Winnetka, IL. In 2021, Kajsa had the pleasure of playing "Lily" in Griffin Theatre's production of Solaris. Her repertoire includes numerous castings as a print model and commercial actor. Her love and enthusiasm for performing arts continues to grow as she is an energetic, focused, funny, and motivated 3rd grader. She holds a great passion for figure skating, dance, theater, singing, and playing violin and piano.

Viva Boresi

(Ivonka) can be seen as the little girl who saved the town bookstore in Toyota's holiday campaign and as the girl from the Brookfield Zoo ads. This marks Viva's professional stage debut.

Elisa Carlson

(Reza) is a 20-year veteran of the piano bar scene, both in Chicago and around the world. She holds a bachelor's degree in piano performance and theater from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Chicago credits include: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (American Blues Theater), Once (Paramount Theatre), Peter and the Starcatcher (Metropolis Performing Arts Center), One Man, Two Guvnors (Court Theatre), Pop Waits (Neo-Futurists), and American Idiot (The Hypocrites).

Yuchi Chiu

(Bank Manager) is making his Writers debut. Chicago credits include Botticelli in the Fire (First Floor Theater); The Chinese Lady (u/s)(Timeline Theatre); Drive-in to the End of the World (Sideshow Theatre); It's a Wonderful Life (American Blues Theater); The Miscellany (The Passage Theatre); Baked! The Musical (Underscore Theatre). On-screen credits include Chicago Med (NBC); BJ's Mobile Gift Shop (Sundance Film Festival). A Northwestern alumnus, Yuchi is a graduate of and teacher at Black Box Acting Studio.

Matt Deitchman

(Music Director, Eamon, understudy Guy) returns to Writers Theater, where his previous credits include: Into The Woods (Jeff Nom.), Trevor, Parade, The Hunter and the Bear. Matt is a music director, actor, composer, orchestrator/arranger, and multi-instrumentalist whose Chicagoland area credits include work with: Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Paramount Theater, Marriott Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago Children's Theater, Mercury Theatre, Griffin Theatre, The Hypocrites, and many others. NYC music credits include: Broadway - A Strange Loop, Almost Famous. Off-Broadway - Trevor (Disney+ and Original Cast Recording). Add'l select regional: South Coast Repertory (CA), Asolo Repertory Theatre (FL), Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC), Ogunquit Playhouse (ME). Proud Northwestern University Grad.

Elleon Dobias

(Ex-Girlfriend, understudy Reza) is originally from Colorado. Elleon's work as an actor, musician, and writer has taken her to a variety of venues, and she is grateful to return to the creative community in Chicago. A few favorite credits include Haymarket (Underscore Theatre), Indecent (Victory Gardens), Once (2019 National Tour), A Christmas Carol (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), Smoke on the Mountain (Portland Stage), Macbeth and Henry V (American Shakespeare Center), and a season with the Chicago Metropolitan and the Lakeshore Symphony Orchestras.

Matt Edmonds

(Billy) was last seen at Writers Theatre as the Wolf/Steward in Into the Woods. He's been performing in Chicagoland for a little over 10 years. Favorite work includes: Murder For Two (Marriott Lincolnshire & Milwaukee Repertory Theatre), Forever Plaid, Pump Boys & Dinettes (Theatre at the Center), Ragtime (Griffin Theatre), Death of a Salesman, All-American (Redtwist Theatre), Rent (Theo Ubique), and The Last Five Years (Metropolis Performing Arts Center). Regionally, Matt's performed in Next To Normal (TheatreSquared) and Twelfth Night (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival). He is a company member at Redtwist Theater.

Jordan Golding

(Emcee, understudy Svec, Billy) is making his Writers Theatre debut in Once. He also performs regularly with Chicago's Drunk Shakespeare. You can also find Jordan's original music on all music streaming platforms.

Lucas Looch Johnson

(Svec) is a French/ American actor, musician and is excited to make his Writers Theatre debut. Some of his favorite past theater projects include: Routes (Remy Bumppo), August Wilson's Fences, Reapers on Woodbrook Ave (American Blues Theatre), Hundred Days, Cruel Intentions (Kokandy Productions), Peter and the Starcatcher (Big Noise Theatre), Murdering Macbeth (Fearless Fiction). Commercials include: Starbucks (Big Spaceship), Carvana (ArtClass), Sour Patch Kids (York Productions). TV credits include: The Big Leap (FOX), Lacy's Christmas Do-Over (Golan Productions), Games for Children (M&C Productions), and Write B!tch (Snack Shack Productions). He holds a BFA from The Chicago College of Performing Arts.

Matt Mueller

(Guy) has appeared on Broadway in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as Ron Weasley and on tour in The Play That Goes Wrong. Regional credits include: Taming of the Shrew, Julius Caesar, Merry Wives (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Man of La Mancha (Marriott Theatre), Peter and the Starcatcher (Drury Lane Theatre), Shining Lives (Northlight Theatre), Shakespeare in Love, Rhinoceros, Hero: the Musical (Asolo Repertory Theatre), Dial "M" for Murder (Indiana Repertory Theatre), The Mousetrap (Milwaukee Rep), Peter and the Starcatcher, Sense & Sensibility (Lyric Repertory Company), multiple productions at Utah Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, and multiple productions of Woody Guthrie's American Song. Television and film credits include: Chicago Justice and Popper Baxton's Sickly Stew.

Liam Oh

(Andrej) returns to Writers Theatre after appearing as Gabe in Next to Normal. He was most recently seen in The Notebook at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. He is a recent graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in theater and a YoungArts winner 2018.

Dana Saleh Omar

(Girl) is a creator and proud child of immigrants. Dana appeared in the Broadway National Tour of The Band's Visit and Off-Broadway in We Live in Cairo (Joe's Pub). Regional credits include: Frankenstein: A Ghost Story (composer/musician, KC Rep.), We Live in Cairo (American Repertory Theatre), Pirates of Penzance (Pasadena Playhouse), HMS Pinafore (Actor's Theatre of Louisville), All Our Tragic (The Hypocrites), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (People's Light), and One Hundred Dresses (Chicago Children's Theatre). TV credits include Chicago PD.

Ron E. Rains

(Da) returns to Writers Theatre, having previously performed in Death of a Streetcar Named Desire and Incident at Vichy. Ron is best known for his role as Peter Rosenthal, head film critic for The Onion. Ron regularly works at Chicago's premier theaters, notably appearing in The Goodman Theatre's A Christmas Carol for 11 seasons. Most recently, Ron was in Paramount's production of The Sound of Music. He's been seen on TV in Chicago Med and Chicago Justice as well as in numerous independent films, including the supernatural horror, Brooklyn '45 premiering on Shudder in March.

Bethany Thomas

(Baruska) is thrilled to be back at Writers Theater (Into The Woods, A Moon For The Misbegotten). Other credits include: The Goodman (A Christmas Carol); Chicago Shakespeare (The Tempest), Porchlight Music Theater (Marry Me A Little), Court Theater (Porgy and Bess), Milwaukee Rep (The Color Purple, Ragtime), Teatro ZinZanni, The Fly Honeys, and Northlight Theatre for her Jeff-winning performance as Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday and Maria Callas in the one-woman tour-de-force, Songs For Nobodies. A 3Arts awardee in music, BT tours and records with Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Bros), and recently released two original albums- Material Flats (with Tawny Newsome) and the solo BT/She/Her. Find Bethany's music on iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify and everywhere else.


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