Writers Theatre Announces Casting For 2019/20 Season

Writers Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma announce initial casting for the company's previously announced 2019/20 season.

"We are tremendously excited about our 2019/20 lineup at Writers Theatre," says Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. "With a refreshing mix of revitalized classics and exciting new voices, we have compiled a season that captures the essential conversations we are having as a nation right now. Now, we are thrilled to share the gifted casts that we have invited to bring these six "must-see" productions to thrilling and sophisticated life!"

The 2019/20 season opens in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre with Into the Woods, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, originally directed on Broadway by Lapine with orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. The Writers Theatre production of Into the Woods features music direction and re-orchestrations by Matt Deitchman, choreography by Aubrey Adams, and is directed by Gary Griffin. The cast includes Nicole Armold (Lucinda), Ben Barker (Jack), Alex Benoit (Rapunzel's Prince), Brianna Borger (Baker's Wife), William Brown (Mysterious Man/Cinderella's Father), McKinley Carter (Jack's Mother), Matt Edmonds (Steward/Wolf), Lucy Godinez (Little Red Riding Hood), Michael Halberstam (Narrator), Kelli Harrington (Cinderella's Stepmother), Molly Hernandez (Florinda), Cecilia Iole (Rapunzel), Michael Mahler (The Baker), Ryan McBride (Cinderella's Prince), Mary Poole (Milky White), Bethany Thomas (Witch) and Jonathan Weir (Mysterious Man/Cinderella's Father beginning 9/17). Casting Director: Geoff Button. Casting Consultant: Binder Casting; Justin Bohon, CSA. Additional casting to be announced at a later date.

The season will continue with The Niceties, written by Eleanor Burgess and directed by Marti Lyons, featuring Ayanna Bria Bakari (Zoe) and Mary Beth Fisher (Janine).

Lydia R. Diamond's Stick Fly, directed by Ron OJ Parson, will feature Ayanna Bria Bakari (Cheryl), Eric Gerard (Kent), DiMonte Henning (Flip), Kayla Raelle Holder (Kimber), Jennifer Latimore (Taylor) and James Vincent Meredith (Joe LeVay).

The final production in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre - Mementos Mori, created by Manual Cinema - will feature Manual Cinema with additional casting details to be announced.

A new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, adapted by Sandra Delgado and Michael Halberstam and directed by Lavina Jadhwani, will open the season in the Gillian Theatre. The cast includes Cher Álvarez (Nora), Amy Carle (Anne Marie), Jürgen Hooper (Dr. Rank), Tiffany Renee Johnson (Christine), Adam Poss (Krogstad) and Gabriel Ruiz (Torvald).

Anna Ziegler's The Last Match, the final production in the Gillian Theatre, directed by Keira Fromm, will feature Kayla Carter (Mallory), Heather Chrisler (Galina), Christopher Sheard (Sergei) and Luigi Sottile (Tim).

The 2019/20 Season marks the fourth full season in the company's award-winning new home at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe, designed by Studio Gang Architects. Productions will be presented in two spaces in the theater complex including the 255-seat Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre as well as the Gillian Theatre, a 50 to 99-seat flexible theatre space.

From its very first year, Writers Theatre has brought quality and excellence to the stage while maintaining the company's hallmark intimacy. The last 27 years have seen unprecedented growth in both the artistic and business arenas as the company has garnered national acclaim and recognition, marked by the celebrated opening of the Theatre's new facility in February of 2016. With a longstanding reputation for consistent artistic excellence and with strong ties to the community, the Theatre has built an award-winning repertoire and serves as a vital and highly regarded company in the Chicagoland theatre community.

Season Packages are available at the Box Office, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000 and www.writerstheatre.org.

Writers Theatre is pleased to welcome back BMO Harris Bank as the distinguished 2019/20 Season Sponsor, marking the Bank's ninth consecutive year as season sponsor.

The Writers Theatre 2019/20 Season includes:

INTO THE WOODS

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Book by James Lapine

Originally Directed on Broadway by James Lapine

Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick

Music Direction and Re-Orchestrations by Matt Deitchman

Choreographed by Aubrey Adams

Directed by Gary Griffin

August 14 - September 22, 2019

Opening August 21, 2019

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The cast includes: Nicole Armold (Lucinda), Ben Barker (Jack), Alex Benoit (Rapunzel's Prince), Brianna Borger (Baker's Wife), William Brown (Mysterious Man/Cinderella's Father), McKinley Carter (Jack's Mother), Matt Edmonds (Steward/Wolf), Lucy Godinez (Little Red Riding Hood), Michael Halberstam (Narrator), Kelli Harrington (Cinderella's Stepmother), Molly Hernandez (Florinda), Cecilia Iole (Rapunzel), Michael Mahler (The Baker), Ryan McBride (Cinderella's Prince), Mary Poole (Milky White), Bethany Thomas (Witch) and Jonathan Weir (Mysterious Man/Cinderella's Father beginning 9/17). Casting Director: Geoff Button. Casting Consultant: Binder Casting; Justin Bohon, CSA. Additional casting to be announced at a later date.

See the classic fairy tale characters you think you know come to magical life in this smart and subversive musical theatre masterpiece by American icons Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine!

When a childless baker and his wife set out to lift their family curse by journeying into the woods, they encounter Jack (with his beanstalk), Cinderella (and her prince) and Little Red Riding Hood (and her wolf)! These familiar characters find themselves in decidedly unfamiliar circumstances and must brave the darkness of the woods in an effort to break the curse, conquer their fears and find out if what they've always wished for is what they truly want.

This epic fairy tale adventure will be reimagined in a newly-configured Nichols Theatre to be staged "in the round," drawing audiences into a theatrical experience unlike anything you've seen at WT! With its celebrated score, stirring script and an extraordinary team of artists bringing it all to life, Into the Woods launches WT's 2019/20 Season as the musical theatre event of the summer. Chicago and Broadway Director Gary Griffin (Parade) returns to stage this Tony Award-winning musical about fairy tales, family and what happens after "happily ever after."

A DOLL'S HOUSE

Written by Henrik Ibsen

Adapted by Sandra Delgado and Michael Halberstam

Directed by Lavina Jadhwani

September 25 - December 15, 2019

Opening October 2, 2019

The Gillian Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The cast includes: Cher Álvarez (Nora), Amy Carle (Anne Marie), Jürgen Hooper (Dr. Rank), Tiffany Renee Johnson (Christine), Adam Poss (Krogstad) and Gabriel Ruiz (Torvald).

This celebrated drama by the playwright of WT's smash hit Hedda Gabler receives a sleek, streamlined interpretation that is unpredictable, fresh and captivating.

This focused one-act adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen classic reinvigorates the compelling story of the vibrant young Nora Helmer, deeply devoted to her husband Torvald. However, all is not as it appears: when Nora takes action to protect her husband, she unwittingly puts them both in jeopardy, testing the bonds of their marriage and forcing them to take stock of their relationship and ask themselves how well they truly know one another...

Directed by Lavina Jadhwani (Vietgone) and given an intensely intimate staging in the Gillian Theatre, A Doll's House draws the audience into the middle of a combustible domestic moment as husband and wife must navigate truth and deceit, and determine whether their seemingly perfect life is truly the one they thought they always wanted.

THE NICETIES

Written by Eleanor Burgess

Directed by Marti Lyons

November 6 - December 15, 2019

Opening November 13, 2019

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The cast includes: Ayanna Bria Bakari (Zoe) and Mary Beth Fisher (Janine).

What happens when theoretical arguments suddenly turn personal in the ivory tower of an elite East Coast university? Don't miss the thrilling, provocative new play that The Washington Post calls "one of the best plays about who gets to tell the story of America, and how."

In The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess, an accomplished Ivy League professor holds routine office hours with an ambitious young student to discuss her thesis: if history is written by the victors, who tells the story of the oppressed? Before long, quibbles over vocabulary and Wikipedia citations turn into a dangerous debate as both women passionately defend their perspective and their personal worldview-until one of them puts everything on the line to make her case.

This taut, intelligent new play will make you question your own assumptions and reevaluate whether generation gaps can be bridged while gaps in knowledge-and in experience-remain. Director Marti Lyons (Witch) returns to WT to stage this intellectual thriller of a play that examines equality, revolution and what happens when people set aside the niceties and reveal what's really on their minds.

STICK FLY

Written by Lydia R. Diamond

Directed by Ron OJ Parson

February 5 - March 16, 2020

Opening February 12, 2020

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The cast includes Ayanna Bria Bakari (Cheryl), Eric Gerard (Kent), DiMonte Henning (Flip), Kayla Raelle Holder (Kimber), Jennifer Latimore (Taylor) and James Vincent Meredith (Joe LeVay).

Sibling rivalries and parental expectations come to a head as family secrets emerge during a weekend away that becomes more "interrogation" than "relaxation" in this witty and moving rollercoaster of a family comedy-drama.

What begins as a relaxing summer weekend on Martha's Vineyard escalates when the LeVay brothers bring their new girlfriends home to meet their affluent and imposing parents. But even as the newcomers find themselves under familial scrutiny, long-hidden family tensions bubble to the surface and by the end of the weekend, almost everyone at the Vineyard finds themselves under a microscope as they grapple with arguments about class, race and cultural expectations.

Lydia R. Diamond (Smart People) brings her gift for sharp dialogue, complex characters and relevant themes back to WT with this timely look at African-American elite aristocracy, social assumptions and family dynamics. Directed by WT Resident Director Ron OJ Parson (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, East Texas Hot Links), this bitingly funny comedy is sure to keep you talking long after the lights have come up.

THE LAST MATCH

Written by Anna Ziegler

Directed by Keira Fromm

March 18 - June 7, 2020

Opening March 25, 2020

The Gillian Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The cast includes: Kayla Carter (Mallory), Heather Chrisler (Galina), Christopher Sheard (Sergei) and Luigi Sottile (Tim).

With all the passion and tension of a U.S. Open tennis final, The Last Match serves up a thrillingly theatrical look at what motivates our greatest ambitions and fuels our strongest desires.

When a young Russian tennis phenom and an American superstar in his prime meet at center court, it's a tough call whether the greatest drama is playing out off the court or on! As the swift action volleys between primetime tennis matches and the most pivotal moments in the personal lives of the competitors and their equally driven romantic partners, sharp and insightful playwright Anna Ziegler (Photograph 51) draws you inside the minds of all four as they face challenges in sport, life and love. What results is a fast-paced and moving montage exploring family, the sacrifices we make for success and the legacy we leave behind.

Rising Chicago director Keira Fromm brings her finely-tuned vision to this gripping drama, staged in the intimate Gillian Theatre. You won't want to miss this engrossing, rapid-fire take on what it means to finally achieve greatness, only to be left wanting more. In The Last Match, there is much more than just a championship on the line!

Writers Theatre presents

MEMENTOS MORI

Created by Manual Cinema

May 6 - June 14, 2020

Opening May 13, 2

020

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

The cast will feature Manual Cinema with additional casting and details to be announced.

This whimsical performance piece allows the audience to experience a motion picture created right before their eyes, using creative shadow-puppetry, innovative projections and a live musical score to tell its transformative and charming story about life, death and what comes in between.

When the persona of "Death" unexpectedly finds herself in California, she trades her scythe for an iPhone and wanders Hollywood, "swiping right" on loss and introducing unexpected connections into the otherwise disparate lives of a ghost, a young girl, and an elderly projectionist. This ambitious show uses multiple puppets, seven overhead projectors, two cameras and three screens to create a live "movie" for the audience. Accompanied by four musicians playing an original score, along with live foley sound effects, the result is a rich mosaic of cinematic storytelling!

Recently named the Chicago Tribune's "Company of the Year" Manual Cinema uses disarmingly simple tools to tell transformative stories. Now they bring their new, feature-length performance to the Nichols stage, giving WT audiences the opportunity to experience this fresh and unique style of intimate storytelling.

SEASON PACKAGES

Writers Theatre season ticket packages provide a convenient theatergoing experience and guarantee access to all of WT's highly anticipated productions throughout the season. Six-play subscription packages are available, ranging in price from $224 to $399.

Three and four-play "Choose Your Own" Flex packages start at $189.

Season package subscribers receive exclusive benefits including complimentary ticket exchanges by phone and mail (cost of price difference may apply), access to special play readings and lectures, special "subscriber-rate" prices on additional tickets, a one-year subscription to The Brief Chronicle newsmagazine and more. For a complete list of benefits visit writerstheatre.org.

Season Packages are available at the Box Office, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000 and writerstheatre.org.

For additional information about the WT Audience Enrichment programs listed below, visit writerstheatre.org/events.

Pre-Show Conversation: Up Close

Join us at 6:45pm before every Thursday evening performance (excluding First Week and extension dates) of all productions in the Nichols Theatrefor a 15-minute primer on the context and content of the play facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

Post-Show Conversation: The Word

Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding First Week and extension dates) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

Post-Show Conversation: The Artist

Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding First Week and extension dates) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

From Page to Stage Series

WT and select North Shore libraries and community partners present the 15th annual From Page to Stage Series. This comprehensive series of special events, lectures, readings and film viewings are designed to enhance and enrich the audience experience of WT productions each season. All events are FREE of charge and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more information about the From Page to Stage Series, visit writerstheatre.org/from-page-to-stage-series.

WT also offers Access Performances, including ASL-interpretation and Open Captioning on select dates for each production. Please visit writerstheatre.org/accessibility for more information.



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