Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF

Rehearsals are underway for Steppenwolf for Young Adults' world-premiere stage adaptation of the bestselling novel, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, adapted by Heidi Stillman. The Book Thief is staged by Hallie Gordon in partnership with Chicago Public Library's One Book, One Chicago and the citywide, season-long Now Is The Time initiative with Chicago Public Library, Facing History and Ourselves and other local cultural organizations. The Book Thief runs October 16 – November 9, 2012 in Steppenwolf's Upstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted St); the press performance is on October 20 at 3pm.
Scroll below for a first look at the production!

Leisel Meminger is a young girl struggling to survive in Nazi Germany. Her life is filled with risk and danger but her love of books guides her through a brutal world. Death watches over her, fascinated by humankind's will to live. The Book Thief looks at the terrible cost of violence, bearing witness to our compassion and complicity. When Death tells a story, you listen.

Since the fall of 2001, One Book, One Chicago has encouraged Chicagoans of all backgrounds and ages to read the same book at the same time, and come together to discuss a great piece of literature. This marks the third Steppenwolf production of a One Book, One Chicago selection, following The House on Mango Street (2009) and The Crucible (2007).

The cast of The Book Thief features ensemble member Francis Guinan (Him) with Patrick Andrews (Max), Amy J. Carle (Rosa Hubermann), Rob Fagin (Hans Jr.), Rae Gray (Liesel Meminger), Dennis William Grimes (Steiner), Nikki Klix (Ensemble), Ian Knox (Ensemble), Anthony-Jon LeSage (Ensemble), Clancy McCartney (Rudy), Andy Monson (Tommy), Mark Ulrich (Hans Hubermann) and Nicole Wiesner (Ilsa).

Adaptor Heidi Stillman is an ensemble member and Artistic Director of New Work at Lookingglass Theatre Company. Her writing and directing credits at Lookingglass include Cascabel: Dinner, Daring, and Desire, Hephaestus, The Brothers Karamazov (2009 Raven Award), Hard Times (five Jeff Awards) and The Master and Margarita (Jeff Award nomination). Additional writing credits include The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, The Old Curiosity Shop (Jeff Award for adaptation) and The Baron in the Trees (Jeff Award nomination). Directing credits include Trust, The Wooden Breeks and Hillbilly Antigone. Heidi has also staged Around the World in 80 Days (Kansas City Repertory Theatre) and Mary Zimmerman's The Arabian Nights (Berkeley Repertory Theatre).

Along with selecting the young adult productions each season, director Hallie Gordon has created the Young Adult Council, a group of high school students who collectively help to create innovative programming for their peers. As a theater artist, Hallie has directed Eclipsed at Northlight Theatre. For Steppenwolf, Hallie has directed Heart is a Lonely Hunter, To Kill a Mockingbird, the world premiere of a new adaptation by Tanya Saracho of The House on Mango Street and Harriet Jacobs adapted for the stage by Lydia R. Diamond. A new premiere of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye also adapted by Lydia R. Diamond and transferred Off-Broadway to The New Victory Theatre. She has directed staged readings for Goodman Theatre, TimeLine Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Hallie is the recipient of The Helen Coburn Meier & Tim Meier Achievement Award.

Author Markus Zusak was born in Sydney, Australia in 1975 and is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief. His work has been translated into more than forty languages, and has earned him both critical and readers' choice awards across Europe, Asia, North and South America, as well as in his native Australia. His first book, The Underdog, was published in 1999, and was followed by Fighting Ruben Wolfe and When Dogs Cry in 2000 and 2001. All of these books were published internationally, and the latter two received various awards for young adult fiction in Australia. The Messenger won the 2003 Australian Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award (Older Readers) and the 2003 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize), and received a Printz Honour in the USA. The Book Thief, first published in 2005, has amassed a number of awards, receives critical acclaim and continues to be a readers' favorite in many countries across the world. It has spent more than six years on The New York Times bestseller list. Currently, The Book Thief is set to be made into a film by Fox 2000 directed by Emmy Award-winner Brian Percival.

The production team for The Book Thief includes: Lizzie Bracken (scenic design), Sally Dolembo (costume design), J.R. Lederle (lighting design), Rick Sims (sound design and original music), Mike Tutaj (projection design), Trudy White (illustrations) and Ryan Bourque (fight choreography). Additional credits include: Erica Daniels (casting) and Deb Styer (stage manager). Photos and bio information for all artists are available upon request.

Steppenwolf for Young Adults' unique approach combines play production with educational components to enhance arts education for young audiences, as well as their teachers and families. SYA creates two full-scale professional productions each season specifically for teens. Working closely with the Chicago Public and metropolitan area schools and other community partners, SYA annually ensures access to the theater for more than 12,000 participants from Chicago's diverse communities. The initiative also includes post-show discussions with artists; classroom residencies led by Steppenwolf-trained teaching artists in more than 30 classrooms in 12 public high schools; professional development workshops for educators; and the Young Adult Council, an innovative year-round after school initiative that uniquely engages high school students in all areas of the theater's operations.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is America's longest standing, most distinguished ensemble theater, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces-the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat Garage Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 43 actors, writers and directors. Artistic programming at Steppenwolf includes a five-play Subscription

Season, a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season and three repertory series: First Look Repertory of New Work, Garage Rep and Next Up. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Off-Broadway, Broadway, London, Sydney and Dublin. Steppenwolf has the distinction of being the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to numerous other prestigious honors including an Illinois Arts Legend Award and nine Tony Awards. Martha Lavey is the Artistic Director and David Hawkanson is the Executive Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf's Board of Trustees.

Author Markus Zusak will participate in a post-show discussion following the 3pm performance on Sunday, October 21. School performances are sold out, and tickets to public performances are limited.

Tickets to public performances of The Book Thief ($20) are currently on sale through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St), 312-335-1650 and

Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF

Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF
Him (ensemble member Francis Guinan) observes Liesel (Rae Gray) as she writes in her book

Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF
Him (ensemble member Francis Guinan)

Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF
Rudy (Clancy McCartney) pays a visit to Liesel (Rae Gray)

Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF
Ilsa (Nicole Wiesner) gives a blank book to Liesel (Rae Gray)

Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF
Liesel (Rae Gray) and Hans Huberman (Mark Ulrich)

Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF
Hans (Mark Ulrich) and Rosa Huberman (Amy J. Carle) in a heated discussion with Liesel (Rae Gray)

Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF
Liesel (Rae Gray) reads to a group huddled in a bomb shelter

Photo Flash: First Look at Steppenwolf Theatre's THE BOOK THIEF

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