THE PORCH ON WINDY HILL: A New Play With Old Music to be Presented at Northlight Theatre in April

The production runs April 13 – May 14, 2023, at Northlight Theatre.

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Northlight Theatre will continue its 2022-2023 season with The Porch on Windy Hill: a new play with old music by Sherry Lutken, Lisa Helmi Johanson, Morgan Morse and David M. Lutken, conceived and directed by Sherry Lutken. The production runs April 13 - May 14, 2023, at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie. The press opening is Friday, April 21, 2023 at 8pm.

When a young classical violinist and her folk song collector boyfriend need an escape from quarantine, they head from their Brooklyn apartment to the mountains of North Carolina on a quest for musical authenticity and inspiration. Their search leads biracial Mira back to her old family home, where she reconnects with an estranged grandfather she never mentioned. An unexpected combination of joy and discovery along with past pain and prejudice comes to light in this story of an Appalachian family's varied roots and the music that binds them together. Featuring bluegrass favorites and the foot-stomping, hand-clapping finest of American roots music.

The cast of The Porch on Windy Hill includes: Lisa Helmi Johanson (Mira), David M. Lutken (Edgar), and Morgan Morse (Beckett).

The creative team includes David Lutken (Music Director), Mara Zinky (Set Design), Gregory Graham (Costume Design), Lindsey Lyddan (Lighting Design), Rick Sims (Sound Design), Christine Mok (Dramaturg). The production stage manager is Katie Klemme.

"I always look for material for Northlight that connects with our audience and with me. I read this play, and the thought that a grandfather could be estranged from his grandchild really hit me. Combined with the notion that cultural differences or race would be the reason for the estrangement, it was a story that needed to be told," comments BJ Jones. "The thought that music or art would be the balm and the bridge to reconciliation convinced me that the story would touch our audience as it did me. Infused with lively bluegrass music, you'll be sure to have a compassionate and entertaining night at Northlight!"

About the Artists

Sherry Lutken (Co-Writer/Director) directed the premiere of The Porch on Windy Hill at The Ivoryton Playhouse (Connecticut Critics nomination: Best Director). Off-Broadway and Regional directing and choreography credits include: The Bourgeois Gentleman, The Million Dollar Quartet, Pump Boys and Dinettes, Hank Williams: Lost Highway, Stand By Your Man, Stars in Your Eyes, Almost Heaven, Hopscotch and Anything Goes. In 2009, she directed the first regional theater production of Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash at North Carolina's Flat Rock Playhouse. She has directed many subsequent productions around the US, as well as internationally - at Vienna's English Theatre and The Deutsches Theater in Munich. As Associate Director of the critically acclaimed Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie, Sherry has set productions of the musical in Chicago at Northlight (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination: Best Musical Revue), Washington D.C. (Helen Hayes Award nomination: Best Musical), Florida, Pennsylvania, and its first National UK Tour.

Lisa Helmi Johanson (Mira / Co-Writer) is a singer/actor/musician/producer who has a passion for developing new works, authentic storytelling, and intentionality in representation as a means to further the work of racial justice and social equity. Broadway: POTUS, Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive; Tours: Into the Woods, Avenue Q; Off Broadway: Avenue Q, Einstein's Dreams (OG), Rescue Rue (OG), Three Sisters, Women Beware Women, Soft Butter (Ars Nova AntFest). Select Regional: The Chinese Lady (Milwaukee Rep; Best Actress in a Play, Broadwayworld), Anything Goes (Arena Stage), Vietgone (Denver Center), Amadeus (Syracuse Stage), The Drowning Girls (Drama League, NYC). TV/Film: Law and Order: SVU, A Holiday Spectacular (Hallmark). Her first co-written piece, Kim Loo Gets a Redo, was selected for the 2021 Ice Factory Festival at the New Ohio Theater who subsequently produced The Porch on Windy Hill as part of their Now In Process series. Lisa and her husband are close to launching a sitcom podcast called "Preschool" in which she co-directs, acts, and sound designs.

David M. Lutken (Edgar/Co-Writer/Music Director) BROADWAY: Inherit the Wind, Ring of Fire, The Civil War, The Will Rogers Follies. N.Y. CITY OPERA: Paul Bunyan. OFF-BROADWAY: Southern Comfort, Stars in Your Eyes, Winter Man, The Portable Pioneer & Prairie Show, and Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie (Outer Critics' Circle, Off-Broadway Alliance and Drama League Best Musical nominations). LONDON: Dark of the Moon, Woody Sez (Evening Standard Best Musical nomination). REGIONAL UK: Bonnie and Clyde, A Month In The Country. REGIONAL US: Our Town, Man of La Mancha, Big River, Elmer Gantry, Finian's Rainbow, The Will Rogers Follies, Fire On The Mountain, Lost Highway, Buddy, Pump Boys and Dinettes, The Love List, The Man Who Came to Dinner, On Golden Pond, Mark Twain's River of Song, Almost Heaven, and The Porch on Windy Hill (Best Actor nomination, Connecticut Critics' Circle Awards). With Woody Sez, he and his company have toured Europe, the British Isles, China, the Middle East and the United States. For his portrayal of Woody Guthrie, David won the Helen Hayes and the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actor. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, The 92nd St Y, Cooper Union, Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, Chicago's Navy Pier, with the North Carolina Symphony and the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, on NPR, the BBC, Polskie Radio Troika, ORF Austria, Voice Of America, and The Louisiana Hayride.

Morgan Morse (Beckett/Co-Writer) (he/him) is an actor, musician, and writer originally from Connecticut. Selected credits: Southern Comfort (The Public Theater); Once, Godspell, and Stand By Your Man (Ivoryton Playhouse); Once (Cape Playhouse); and Ring of Fire everywhere from Houston to Vienna. In addition to theatre, he also writes and performs original music, and makes comedy videos online (


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