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Shakespeare Project Of Chicago Premieres New Holiday Comedy CHRISTMAS COMES BUT ONCE A YEAR


The Shakespeare Project of Chicago is celebrating the holidays by presenting a special world-premiere production of a new comedy, CHRISTMAS COMES BUT ONCE A YEAR, by George Zahora. The production runs Dec. 10, 13 and 14, 2019, at three Chicago-area venues.

Late December 2019: At a backwater British university, a trio of squabbling academics attempt to unlock an ancient puzzle box containing the script for "Christmas Comes But Once a Year," a long-lost holiday extravaganza penned by a quartet of Shakespeare's contemporaries. And, in a flashback to November 1602, those playwrights - Thomas Heywood, Henry Chettle, Thomas Dekker and John Webster - struggle to complete an "accessible" holiday story. Can they meet their deadline? Will their famous frienemy "Wm Shakspr" come through with a bit of help? And why was "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" erased from history? Past and present collide messily in this rollicking world-premiere original holiday comedy, written by longtime Shakespeare Project sound designer George Zahora.

Peter Garino, the Shakespeare Project artistic director, shepherds a cast that includes Joe Bianco (John Webster), Chloe Baldwin (Thomas Dekker), Christopher Prentice (Thomas Heywood), Savanna Rae (Ms. Bridget Windsor), Michelle Shupe (Janet Sims), David Skidmore (Henry Chettle) and Barbara Zahora (Dr. Harriet Jacques). Brynne Barnard is the understudy.

The production features sound design and music by the author, George Zahora. Brynne Barnard is the assistant director.

The play will be preceded by a special program of holiday music, featuring Hannah Mary Simpson, accompanied by Camille Cote.

The Shakespeare Project of Chicago's theatrical readings are fully staged, book-in-hand performances featuring members of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers.

Admission is free and seating is limited. All performances are preceded by an introduction to the play that commences 15 minutes prior to curtain.

Performance schedule

-Tuesday, Dec. 10, 6:30 p.m., Elmhurst Public Library, 125 S. Prospect Ave.
-Friday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m., Niles-Maine District Library, 6960 W. Oakton St., Niles
-Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m., Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., Chicago

The Shakespeare Project's 25th Theatrical Reading Season, composed solely of works by Shakespeare, kicked off in October with HAMLET, directed by J.R. Sullivan. It will continue in January with RICHARD III, directed by Artistic Director Peter Garino. In February, Associate Artistic Director Michelle Shupe will direct ROMEO AND JULIET. One of Shakespeare's "problem plays," MEASURE FOR MEASURE, directed by Erin Sloan in her Project directorial debut, will conclude the season in May.

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