Photo Flash: THADDEUS AND SLOCUM: A VAUDEVILLE ADVENTURE at Lookingglass Theatre Company!
Lookingglass Theatre Company continues its 28th Season with Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure, written by Ensemble Member Kevin Douglas, and co-directed by Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks and Krissy Vanderwarker. Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure runs June 1 - August 14, 2016 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 11, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
It's 1908 and Chicago's Majestic Theatre is the jewel of the vaudeville circuit. The only thing stopping Thaddeus and Slocum from becoming the next great stage act is as simple - and complicated - as black and white. Will laughter triumph and friendship endure as racial boundaries threaten to destroy their dreams of making the "big time?" Lookingglass dives deep into the divided heart of American show biz for a daring cavalcade of slapstick, song and dance, and burlesque as two best friends risk everything to make it to the top together.
"Thaddeus and Slocum has been developed over the last few years at Lookingglass, and we have watched its growth with excitement and anticipation," comments Artistic Director Heidi Stillman. "The play is both thoroughly relevant and an old-time show business adventure; at once a comedy and deadly serious. We're so excited to see the singular voice of our Ensemble Member Kevin Douglas, his utterly unique and daring vision, and his bold tackling of subject matter that lies at the divided heart of American culture on our stage."
"I grew up watching old comedies and movie musicals. As I got older, I began to realize that most of the people in these movies didn't look like me, except for slaves, maids, butlers and Sidney Potier," says playwright Kevin Douglas. "When I started to consider what it would look like to create a comedy, set in Chicago during the height of the Vaudeville era that featured a black lead (who wasn't a slave or in a position of servitude), Thaddeus and Slocum was born. The play deals with provocative topics like racism, inequality and blackface. Blackface was common in the Vaudeville circuit in 1908. White people who wore blackface in the early 20th century wore it because they were imitating black people; it was an instance of appropriation. Many black entertainers of the period wore it because they wanted to take it back-re-appropriation. Many blacks didn't want to wear it, but they dreamed of working in Vaudeville and that was one of the few ways into the industry. In writing these issues into the script, I wanted the play to be historically accurate and reflect social norms and the cultural climate of the era. I didn't want to sugarcoat it."
The cast of Thaddeus and Slocum features Ensemble Members Lawrence E. DiStasi and Raymond Fox, with Molly Brennan (Lookingglass Alice), Adam Brown (ONCE on Broadway), Sharriese Hamilton, Tosin Morohunfola, Christina Nieves, Monica Raymund (NBC's Chicago Fire), Samuel Taylor (Lookingglass Alice) and Travis Turner (Steppenwolf's The Flick).
The creative team includes Collette Pollard (scenic design), Samantha Jones (costume design), Christine A. Binder (lighting design), Josh Horvath(sound design), Rick Sims (composer), Katie Spelman (choreographer), Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi (circus choreographer), Ryan Bourque (fight choreographer) and Sarah Burnham (properties design). Narda Alcorn is the stage manager and Tess Golden is the assistant stage manager.
About the Artists
KEVIN DOUGLAS (Playwright/Ensemble Member) has been a Lookingglass Theatre Company Ensemble Member since 2013. He has performed in numerous Lookingglass productions, including: Black Diamond, Lookingglass Alice, Around the World in 80 Days (Jeff Nomination for Best Supporting Actor), Our Town (Co-Directed by Anna D. Shapiro and Jessica Thebus), The Great Fire, and Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting (Jeff Nomination for Best Ensemble). Kevin has written a number of sketch comedy shows, including: Blaxploitation: The Remix and Blaxploitation 2: You know how we deux!, No Experience Necessary, and Reality Check, which he also co-directed. Kevin co-wrote an independent film that is in post-production, titled Call Center.
J. NICOLE BROOKS (Director/Ensemble Member) directs this new work for Lookingglass alongside Krissy Vanderwarker and Kevin Douglas. As a director Nicky has staged critically-acclaimed productions of Black Diamond: The Years the Locusts Have Eaten and Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting, and was associate director to David Schwimmer for Laura Eason's Sex With Strangers. She is a published author (Black Diamond; Bloomsbury Publishing and recently Fedra; University of Wisconsin-Madison) with several commissions in development, including the untitled Yuri Kochiyama project, Her Honor Jane Byrne, and Brer Rabbit. Recent acting credits include: Tina in Death Tax at Lookingglass Theatre with Deanna Dunagan, and Nina in Immediate Family directed by Phylicia Rashad. Nicky is native to Chicago, but also lives in Los Angeles and Brooklyn.
KRISSY VANDERWARKER (Director) is a freelance director and the Co-Artistic Director of Dog & Pony Theatre Co. (D&P). D&P directing credits include Breach, Counterfeiters, The Dinner Party Project, God's Ear, As Told by the Vivian Girls, Mr. Marmalade, Ape, Osama the Hero, Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) and As Much As You Can. Other professional directing credits include: Harry & The Thief (Pavement Group); The Grown-Up (Shattered Globe Theatre); Bethany (First Look/Steppenwolf Theatre Company); As Fat As You Can (Next Theatre Company); CLEAR, What Once We Felt (About Face Theatre); and As Much As You Can (Hendel Productions West). She graduated with her MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University and is currently on faculty.
MOLLY BRENNAN (Abby/Sarah) is an actor, singer and clown. She returns to Lookingglass where previously she has played a Red Queen and a Pirate. In addition to performing Off-Broadway in NYC, she has worked at Second City, Lyric Opera, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Red Tape Theatre, About Face Theatre, Factory Theater, House Theatre and 500 Clown. She was most recently seen in the Neo-futurists' Pop Waits, an original devised CLQWN MUTINY piece with pARTner Malic White. She performs at Salonathon, co-curates the Kinky Butch Witching Hour and sings with Mainstream Velour.
ADAM WESLEY BROWN (Rufus/Johnny/Musician) makes his Lookingglass debut. Chicago: The Tempest, Henry VIII, Julius Caesar (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Long Way Go Down (Jackalope Theatre, Jeff Award Best Actor Nominee). Regional: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Helen Hayes Best Actor Nominee), A Midsummer's Night Dream (Folger Theatre); A Christmas Carol (Actors Theatre of Louisville). Broadway: Once. Film: Keith Urban's 30 Song in 30 Days. Adam's debut album is available on iTunes-Adam Wesley Brown: Live at Bowery Poetry.
LAWRENCE E. DISTASI (Frank/Ensemble Member) last appeared onstage at Lookingglass as Long John Silver in Mary Zimmerman's Treasure Island. He is a co-founder of The Actors Gymnasium Circus and Performing Arts School as well as an Ensemble Member and co-founder of Lookingglass Theatre Company. Larry has performed in over 30 Lookingglass productions, among them the Tony Award-winning production Metamorphoses, and the Jeff Award-winning productions Lookingglass Alice, The Arabian Nights and Hard Times. He directed and adapted The Baron in the Trees, for which he received a Jeff Nomination in Adaptation. Larry has appeared on television, in film and in a Philip Glass Opera called Galileo Galilei. He received his B.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University.
RAYMOND FOX (Gerry/Ensemble Member) recently appeared in The Hammer Trinity with The House Theatre of Chicago in Miami, FL (Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami). His many Lookingglass credits include Moby Dick and Metamorphoses, a play he performed across the country including Off and on Broadway (Second Stage Theatre and Circle in the Square Theatre). Additional regional credits: TimeLine Theatre (Equity Jeff Award, Supporting Actor- Play for Blood and Gifts), Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Tectonic Theater Project/About Face Theatre, Route 66 Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Next Theatre Company, First Folio Theatre, Meadow Brook Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Mark Taper Forum, McCarter Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theater, Hartford Stage, and Canada's Stratford Festival.
SHARRIESE HAMILTON (Nellie) makes her Lookingglass Theatre debut. Sharriese hails from Okemos, MI with a B.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University. Chicago credits include: Sister Act (The Marriott Theatre); Pericles (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); How To Succeed, Ain't Misbehavin', Pal Joey, A Class Act (Porchlight Music Theatre); The Wild Party, See What I Wanna See, and Passing Strange (Bailiwick Chicago); All Shook Up (Theatre at the Center); Jesus Christ Superstar (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre); We Three Lizas (About Face Theatre); and various roles with the Chicago based children's theatre, GreatWorks Theatre Company. Regional credits include: HAIR (McLeod Summer Playhouse); Spamalot, Working, The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee, and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Timber Lake Playhouse).
TOSIN MOROHUNFOLA (Zeke) is the founder of the Multicultural Theatre Initiative, where he served as Artistic Director for two years, including producing four of his own original plays. His stage appearances include Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, New Victory Theater (Off-Broadway), Court Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Creede Repertory Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival and the Coterie Theatre, where he was Resident Artist for two years. In 2014, Tosin was honored with "Best Supporting Actor" from the Black Theater Alliance for his role in The Gospel of Lovingkindness at Victory Gardens Theater. In 2015 he wrote and directed his own film, On Sight. Other films include: Destination Planet Negro and If Night Comes. On television, he's appeared on Chicago Med (NBC), Empire (FOX) and Chicago Fire (NBC). Tosin's also a member of Those People Comedy, and represented by Stewart Talent Chicago.
CHRISTINA NIEVES (Isabella beginning 7/20) makes her Lookingglass debut. Christina has recently relocated to New York City, where she did the Off-Broadway premiere of Exit Strategy at Primary Stages. Chicago theatrical credits include: The House on Mango Street (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); El Nogalar, The Sins of Sor Juana (Goodman Theatre); West Side Story, Les Miserables (Drury Lane Theatre); In The Heights (Paramount Theatre); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale (Broadway Playhouse), Depraved New World (The Second City), Welcome to Arroyo's (American Theater Company). Christina is an Ensemble Member with Teatro Vista and a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University.
MONICA RAYMUND (Isabella through 7/17) stars as Gabrielle Dawson in NBC's Chicago Fire. A graduate of The Juilliard School, she starred for three seasons on the FOX drama Lie to Me. Other notable credits include Happy Baby and Arbitrage, as well as a recurring role on The Good Wife. Monica starred in the musical Like Water for Chocolate (Sundance Theatre Lab) and Boleros for the Disenchanted (Huntington Theatre Company). Monica is the founder and president of SISU Theatrical Productions, a director for the upcoming campaign The Hidden Tears Project, and is also on the board of MOGUL, an online news aggregator and publishing platform for women.
SAMUEL TAYLOR (Slocum) returns to Lookingglass, where he last appeared in Lookingglass Alice. He is a Stakeholding Partner in the Back Room Shakespeare Project. Chicago credits include: The Feast: An Intimate Tempest and Hunchback (Redmoon Theater); Hot L Baltimore (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); and several productions at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Regional credits include: Doctor's Dilemma (American Players Theatre); ChristmasCarol (Actors Theatre of Louisville); The Boys Next Door (Syracuse Stage), and Henry V on tour with The Acting Company. TV Credits include appearances on Boardwalk Empire, Chicago PD, Mob Doctor, and Crisis.
TRAVIS TURNER (Thaddeus) makes his Lookingglass debut with Thaddeus and Slocum. Recent Chicago credits: The Flick (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Upstairs Concierge (Goodman Theatre); Twist Your Dickens (The Second City/Goodman Theatre); Tartuffe and The Misanthrope (Court Theatre); Bud, Not Buddy (Chicago Children's Theatre). Second City credits include the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago collaboration The Art of Falling, seen at the Harris Theater and also the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, as well as revues at La Jolla Playhouse, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Travis is a graduate of Northwestern University.
Photo Credit: Liz Lauren
Monica Raymund and Adam Brown
Lawrence E. Distasi and Adam Brown