Photo Flash: Court Theatre continues 63rd Season with GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER

Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, continues its 2017/18 season with Guess Who's Coming to Dinner by Todd Kreidler (based on the screenplay by William Rose), directed by Marti Lyons with Associate Director Wardell Julius Clark. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner runs March 15 - April 15, 2018 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. The press opening is Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 8:00pm.

Matt and Christina Drayton live a modern, white upper-class life in 1960s San Francisco, but their comfortable life is muddled when daughter Joey returns home with John Prentice, a black physician whom she has known for ten days and intends to marry. Suddenly, their longtime progressive values are challenged; Matt and Christina find themselves facing difficult personal questions about the future of their daughter and their family. And unfortunately for the Draytons, Joey and John aren't their only surprise guests coming to dinner.

Playwright Todd Kreidler has crafted a startlingly relevant look at the thought-provoking classic film that confronted race relations in 1967 America. Acclaimed Chicago director Marti Lyons makes her Court Theatre debut and Wardell Julius Clark joins the artistic team as Associate Director.

The cast of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner includes Sydney Charles (Matilda "Tillie" Banks), Mary Beth Fisher (Christina Drayton), Bryce Gangel (Joanna Drayton), Tim Hopper (Matt Drayton), Michael Aaron Pogue (Dr. John Prentice), Rachel Sledd (Hilary St. George), Dan Waller (Monsignor Ryan) Jacqueline Williams (Mary Prentice) and Dexter Zollicoffer (John Prentice, Sr.).

The creative team includes Scott Davis (scenic design), Samantha C. Jones (costume design), Paul Toben (lighting design), Andre Pluess (sound design), and Christopher M. LaPorte (sound design). The production stage manager is Amanda Weener-Frederick.

About the Artists

Todd Kreidler (Playwright) is the author of Holler If Ya Hear Me, an original musical featuring the lyrics and music of Tupac Amaru Shakur. His stage adaptation of the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner ran at Arena Stage in Washington, DC and premiered at True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta. He was dramaturg for Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean on Broadway and worked with August Wilson for six years developing plays in regional theaters around the country. He directed and co-conceived Mr. Wilson's one-man show How I Learned What I Learned and worked developing the screenplay adaptation of Fences. He was Associate Artistic Director of August Wilson's 20th Century at the Kennedy Center where he directed Joe Turner's Come And Gone. He co-founded the August Wilson Monologue Competition, a national program aimed at integrating August Wilson's work into high school curriculum, of which the Huntington facilitates the Boston competition.

MARTI LYONS (Director) is a Chicago-based freelance director. She is also an ensemble member at The Gift Theatre Company and received the 2015 Maggio directing fellowship from Goodman Theatre. Chicago credits include The Mystery of Love & Sex (Writers Theatre), Title and Deed (Lookingglass Theatre Company), The City of Conversation (Northlight Theatre), Short Shakes! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare), Wit (The Hypocrites), Mine, Bethany and Body and Blood (The Gift Theatre Company), Hot Georgia Sunday, Seminar (Haven Theatre), Give it All Back, Mai Dang Lao, 9 Circles, Maria/Stuart, co-director for The Golden Dragon (Sideshow Theatre Company), Prowess, The Peacock, The Last Duck (Jackalope Theatre Company) and The Play About my Dad (Raven Theatre). Regional credits include Wondrous Strange (Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville).

Wardell Julius Clark (Associate Director) was the Assistant Director for Court's productions of Gem of the Ocean and Satchmo at the Waldorf. Directing credits: The One Minute Play Festival, Shola's Game (Black Lives, Black Words Chicago 2). Acting credits include: A Raisin in the Sun (TimeLine Theatre);The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre); We are Proud to Present... and The Gospel According to James (Victory Gardens Theatre); Invisible Man (Court Theatre); The Beats (16th Street Theater); Ghosts of Atwood (MPAACT), for which he received the Black Theater Alliance Denzel Washington Award for Most Promising Actor; and Topdog/Underdog (American Theater Company/Congo Square Theatre). Regional credits include The Whipping Man (Cardinal Stage); Cymbeline (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival); Fences (Carver Theatre); and Big River, Much Ado About Nothing, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Who's Tommy, and A Chorus Line (Virginia Samford Theatre). TV/Film: Chicago Fire Seasons 1 and 4 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Wardell is an Associate Artist with TimeLine Theatre Company, where he also serves as a Teaching Artist in the Living History Program. He is also an Associate Artist with the Black Lives, Black Words theatre collective. He holds a BFA in Acting from The Theatre School, at DePaul University.

Sydney Charles (Matilda "Tillie" Banks) is a Jeff-nominated and BroadwayWorld.com-nominated Actress was seen in The Wiz (Kokandy), Octagon!, the critically-acclaimed PROWESS (Jackalope Theatre), and The Fly Honey Show (The Inconvenience). She also lives in the world of musical theater, where she was featured in Bells are Ringing (Porchlight Musical Theater) and Myths and Hymns (BoHo Ensemble Theater). It was a great honor for her to portray "Sarah" in Ragtime (Big Noise Theater) and the titular character in Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago). Other credits include: The Color Purple (Mercury Theater), Smokey Joe's Cafe (Theo-Ubique), Cats (Theo-Ubique), Hairspray, and Nunsense. Sydney is represented by Stewart Talent.

Mary Beth Fisher (Christina Drayton) has appeared at Court Theatre in Long Day's Journey Into Night, Angels in America, Three Tall Women, The Year of Magical Thinking (Jeff Award), The Wild Duck, What the Butler Saw, Arcadia, Travesties, and The Importance of Being Earnest. Other Chicago credits include: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, The Little Foxes, Luna Gale, God of Carnage, The Seagull, Rock 'n' Roll, The Clean House, Dinner with Friends, Heartbreak House, Spinning into Butter, Boy Gets Girl (Goodman Theatre); Domesticated, Dead Man's Cell Phone, The Dresser, The Memory of Water (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); White Guy on the Bus (Northlight); The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); The Laramie Project: Epilogue, Little Dog Laughed, Theatre District (About Face Theatre); The Marriage of Figaro (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company). She has worked in regional theatres all over the country, most recently in the L.A. premiere of Luna Gale (Kirk Douglas Theatre) for which she has been nominated by the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best Lead Performance. NY credits include: Frank's Home (Playwright's Horizons); Boy Gets Girl (Drama League Honoree, Drama Desk, and Lucile Lortel nominations), The Radical Mystique, By the Sea... (Manhattan Theatre Club); The Night of the Iguana (Roundabout Theatre Company); Extremities (Westside Arts Theatre). TV/Film: Chicago Fire, Chicago Code, State of Romance, Without a Trace, Numb3rs, Prison Break, NYPD Blue, Profiler, Early Edition, Formosa Betrayed, Dragonfly, and Trauma. Ms. Fisher received the 2010 Chicago's Leading Lady Award from the Sarah Siddons Society. She is a Lunt-Fontanne Fellow and was a Beinecke Fellow at Yale University.

Bryce Gangel (Joanna Drayton) is an actor based in Chicago. She appeared in Rivendell Theatre's Dry Land (Equity Jeff Award Nomination - Principal Actress) as well as Steep Theatre's Posh (Non Equity Jeff Award - Best Ensemble, Nomination - Best Play). In 2016, Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune named Bryce a Hot New Face of Chicago Theatre. TV credits include: The Exorcist and Crisis. Web series: Embeds. Film: Princess Cyd. Bryce is represented by Paonessa Talent and is a member of SAG-AFTRA.

Tim Hopper (Matt Drayton) makes his Court Theatre debut in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. He is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf, where he last appeared in Linda Vista. He also performed the title role in Uncle Vanya at Goodman Theatre. Television credits include Empire, The Exorcist, Chicago Fire, The Americans, and others. Films include The Pages, Consumed, School of Rock, and To Die For, among others.

Michael Aaron Pogue (Dr. John Prentice) has appeared in Court's productions of Electra, Agamemnon, Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, Angels in America, and Spunk. Other theater credits include: Dutchman (American Blues); Carter's Way and Venus (Steppenwolf); Stick Fly (Windy City Playhouse); Night and Day (Remy Bumppo); Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista); The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Hamlet (Oak Park Festival); Ruined and Six Degrees of Separation (Eclipse); Saturday Night/Sunday Morning (Prologue); As You Like It and King Lear (Lakeside Shakespeare); Radio Golf (Raven); Lobby Hero (Redtwist); and Panther Burn (MPAACT). Television credits include Chicago Fire and Crisis (NBC).

Rachel Sledd (Hilary St. George) is thrilled to be making her Court Theatre debut. Chicago credits include The Rose Tattoo (Shattered Globe Theatre); Jerusalem and The Jacksonian (Profiles Theatre). New York: Last Dance (Manhattan Theatre Club); Diana of Dobson's (Mint Theater Company); Baptism by Fire (Studio Dante); Sleepwalker (78th Street Theatre Lab); and several credits with Division 13 Productions, with whom she was a founding member. Regional: A Dream Play (Berkshire Theatre Festival); Friends Like These (Arkansas Repertory Theatre); Our Town (Delaware Theatre Company); The Shape of Things (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); Romeo & Juliet, Midsummer Night's Dream, and Cymbeline (Idaho Shakespeare Festival); The Tempest and A Christmas Carol (StageWest). TV: Chicago Med, Chicago PD, Third Watch, and The Artist. Recent film credits include Bride of Frankie, for which Rachel won Best Actress at the Sydney Indie Film Festival. Rachel holds an MFA from the University of Washington's Professional Actor Training Program in Seattle, WA. She is represented by Gray Talent Group.

Dan Waller (Monsignor Ryan) made his Court Theatre debut in Long Day's Journey Into Night. Select Chicago theatrical credits: East of Eden, The Night Alive, and Three Sisters (Steppenwolf); The Little Foxes, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Good Negro, Ghostwritten, and Talking Pictures (Goodman Theatre); Lay Me Down Softly, The Seafarer, Mojo-Mickybo, Our Father, A Whistle in the Dark, and Journey's End (Seanachai/Irish Theatre of Chicago); The Pitmen Painters (TimeLine Theatre). Television credits: Leverage, Science Story, The Beast, Chicago Code, Crisis, Chicago PD, Empire, and Shameless. Film credits: Barefoot to Jerusalem, Repetition, Of Boys and Men, Devil'sDominoes, Witless Protection, Transformers 3, At Any Price and Precious Mettle.

Jacqueline Williams (Mary Prentice) has previously appeared at Court in Harvey, Man in the Ring, and Gem of the Ocean (Aunt Ester); The Good Book; Caroline, or Change (Dotty); Fences (Rose, Jeff Award); Electra (title role); and The First Breeze of Summer. Most recently, she played Bell in Marcus Gardley's world premiere A Wonder in my Soul at Victory Gardens, where she also appeared as Makeda in Gardley's The House That Will Not Stand (Jeff Award). Her long association with Goodman Theatre includes stop.reset., Pullman Porter Blues (some performances), Blues for An Alabama Sky, Camino Real, The Trinity River Plays, The Amen Corner, Richard II, The Story, Ooh-Bla-Dee and many others. Chicago: Steppenwolf (The Christians, Airline Highway, Head of Passes, The Hot L Baltimore, The Brother/Sister Plays, Othello, and others); Victory Gardens (Gospell of Lovingkindness, The Colored Museum, and others); Northlight (Gees Bend, The Miser, and others); Next (Yellowman, Fabulation); and Fleetwood-Jourdain (Maya Angelou in the premiere of Maya's Last Poem, Going to St. Ives, Having Our Say). Regional: Asolo Repertory (Tillie in Frank Galati's production of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner), La Jolla, Huntington Playhouse, ACT Seattle, Berkeley Rep, Portland Stage Co., Arena Stage, Hartford Stage and more. Tours: Crowns and Born in the RSA with Market Theatre of Johannesburg. Broadway: The Young Man from Atlanta. Off-Broadway: From the Mississippi Delta (co-produced by Oprah Winfrey), Mill Fire, and The Talented Tenth. TV/Film: cast of Turks, Empire, recurring as Officer Beccera on Chicago PD and Chicago Fire, Chicago Code, Prison Break, Heartlock, The Break Up, The Lake House, and Hardball. Awards/Nominations: Jeff, Helen Hayes, BTAA, Lunt-Fontanne Shakespeare Fellow, 3Arts, American Arts Council, Drama Desk, Sarah Siddons, Excellence in the Arts, After Dark, among others. This fall she will reprise her original role of Mae in Tarell McCraney's Head of Passes opposite Phylicia Rashad at Mark Taper. Jacqueline holds a BFA from Goodman/Theatre School.

Dexter Zollicoffer (John Prentice Sr.) appeared at Court Theatre in Electra, Water by the Spoonful and The Mystery Cycle: Creation and Passion. Dexter appeared in Charm for Northlight Theatre (Jeff Award for Actor in a Principle Role and a nomination for Ensemble). Other theatre credits include: The Little Foxes, Dartmoor Prison, The Odyssey, Blues for an Alabama Sky, and A Christmas Carol at Goodman; To Kill a Mockingbird, A Lesson Before Dying, and Pudd'nhead Wilson at Steppenwolf; Relatively Close, Knock Me a Kiss and The Sutherland at Victory Gardens; and The Overwhelming at Next Theatre. Regionally, Mr. Zollicoffer appeared in Blues for an Alabama Sky at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Odyssey at McCarter Theatre Center, and Seattle Repertory Theatre, Our Country's Good at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Recruiting Officer and Our Country's Good at Madison Repertory Theatre, Voice of Good Hope at BoarsHead Theater, and Permanent Collection at Indiana University Northwest. On television, Mr. Zollicoffer has been seen on Chicago Fire, Detroit 1-8-7, and the upcoming feature, Who Gets the Dog. He is an administrator at The Theatre School at DePaul University where he received best director, best ensemble, and Special Jury Prize nominations for his original work, Ma Fille, Ma Naturelle at the 6th annual International Theatre Festival of University Theatre in Tangier, Morocco. He is a 2011-12 recipient of the Spirit of DePaul award given by DePaul's Office of Mission and Values.

Photos by Michael Brosilow

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