Writers' Theatre Presents THE REAL THING 9/13-11/20


Writers' Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma announce the launch of Writers' 20th Anniversary Season with The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard, directed by Michael Halberstam. The production runs September 13- November 20, 2011 at Writers' Theatre, 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe.

A married playwright blurs the line between reality and his dramas on the stage as his personal life unravels before his very eyes. Deeply moving and bitingly funny, Tom Stoppard's razor sharp drama brilliantly examines the complex nature of love, art and reality. Artistic Director Michael Halberstam directs this multi-award winning modern classic.

"I cannot think of a better playwright to launch our 20th Anniversary Season than Tom Stoppard." says Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. "Writing in a literary landscape alongside Shaw, Chekhov and Shakespeare, he embodies a textual richness that audiences have come to expect from the Writers' Theatre. The Real Thing, arguably one of Stoppard's greatest plays, provides inspiration for the development of new work while reminding us that there are still so many marvelous plays worthy of revival."

The production features Sean Fortunato (Henry), Natasha Lowe (Charlotte), John Sanders (Max), Ryan Hallahan (Brodie), Carrie Coon (Annie), Rae Gray (Debbie) and Jordan Lane Shappell (Billy).

The designers are Collette Pollard (set), Heather Gilbert (lighting), David Hyman (costumes) and Nick Heggestad (properties). The production stage manager is David Castellanos and the assistant director is Avital Rutenberg Schoenberg.

Tom Stoppard (Playwright) is one of the premier playwrights working in modern drama today. His seminal works for the theatre include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Tony Award for Best Play), The Real Inspector Hound, Jumpers, Travesties (Tony Award for Best Play), Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Night and Day, On the Razzle, The Real Thing (Tony Award for Best Play), Rough Crossing, Dalliance, Hapgood, Arcadia (Tony nominee for Best Play), Indian Ink, The Invention of Love (Tony nomination for Best Play), The Coast of Utopia (Tony Award for Best Play) and Rock N' Roll (Tony nominee for Best Play). He is also a very successful screenwriter, writing or co-writing the screenplays for Brazil, Empire of the Sun and Shakespeare in Love (for which Stoppard won an Oscar), among others. He was appointed a Commander of the British Empire in 1978, knighted in 1997 and appointed to the prestigious Order of Merit in 2000.

Michael Halberstam (Director and Artistic Director) is the co-founder of Writers' Theatre. He has directed more than thirty productions for the company including Not About Heroes (starring Nicholas Pennell), Private Lives, Look Back in Anger, Candida, The Father, Crime and Punishment, Benefactors, Seagull, The Duchess of Malfi, Othello, The Savannah Disputation, the world premiere musical A Minister's Wife, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and She Loves Me. Halberstam has appeared in numerous Writers' Theatre productions including Richard II (title role), Loot and Misalliance. Previously, he spent two years at The Stratford Festival in Ontario and performed in Timon of Athens, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (title role), Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It. Halberstam's other Chicago acting credentials include productions with Wisdom Bridge, Court Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Elsewhere he directed The Gamester (Northlight Theatre), A Man for All Seasons (Peninsula Players Theatre), Hamlet (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Candida (Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York), Ten Little Indians (Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace), a highly acclaimed revival of Crime and Punishment, which Writers' Theatre produced off-Broadway at 59E59 Theatres in New York City, Enchanted April and State of the Union (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). This past spring he directed A Minister's Wife at Lincoln Center Theater. His forays into opera have included The Rape of Lucretia (Chicago Opera Theater), Francesca De Ramini featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and Le Freyshutz, a Berlioz adaptation of the Weber opera conducted by Christoph Eschenbach in its North American Premiere (Ravinia Festival). He spent two and a half years teaching Shakespeare at The Theatre School at DePaul University and has received awards for excellence in theater management and/or artistic achievement from The Chicago Drama League, The Arts & Business Council, Chicago Lawyers for the Creative Arts, The Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival and most recently, The 2010 Zelda Fichandler Award.

Carrie Coon (Annie) makes her Writers' Theatre debut. Chicago credits include Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Magnolia (Goodman Theatre) and Brönte (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company). She has worked regionally with American Players Theatre, Forward Theatre Company, Madison Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Renaissance Theaterworks. Film and television credits include One In A Million (Fulton Market Films) and various commercials. She will appear on Broadway in fall 2012 in Steppenwolf's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Sean Fortunato (Henry) returns to Writers' Theatre where he previously appeared as Aunt Augusta/Henry in Travels With My Aunt, Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Chosen, Rough Crossing (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination), A Phoenix Too Frequent (After Dark Award) and Spite for Spite. Additional credits include Curtains (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination, Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace), the title role in Willy Wonka, The Taming Of The Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, Othello (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Brigadoon (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire), The Producers (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination), Lend Me A Tenor (Theatre at the Center), The Real Thing (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company), Oedipus Complex, As You Like It, A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), Lady Windermere's Fan, At Wit's End (Northlight Theatre), Scapin (Court Theatre), Private Eyes (The Old Globe Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest, A Little Night Music, Doubt and Cabaret (Peninsula Players) and Rose Rage (The Duke on 42nd, New York). He appeared as Ted in the film The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton.

Rae Gray (Debbie) makes her Writers' Theatre debut. She most recently appeared in That Face (Redtwist Theatre), Circle Mirror Transformation (Victory Gardens Theater) and Jailbait (Profiles Theatre). Other credits include Summer People (The Gift Theatre Company), Wedding Band (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Meet Me in St. Louis (Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace/Gateway Playhouse, New York), Inherit the Wind (Northlight Theatre), Oliver!, State Fair (Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire), Sunday In The Park with George (Ravinia Festival with Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald), two seasons of A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), The Crucible (Joseph Jefferson Citation for Best Ensemble/Production), Cry of Players (TimeLine Theatre Company), State Fair and A Christmas Story (Theater at the Center). She is a sophomore at the University of Chicago.

Ryan Hallahan (Brodie) returns to Writers' Theatre where he previously appeared in A Streetcar Named Desire. Additional Chicago credits include Sideman (Metropolis Performing Arts Center) and The Chicago Landmark Project (Theatre Seven of Chicago). Hallahan is a graduate of the School of Theater at Illinois State University and has competed nationally in Washington DC in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Natasha Lowe (Charlotte) returns to Writers' Theatre where she previously appeared as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Leading Role). Also with Writers' Theatre: Picnic and Benefactors (After Dark Award for Best Actress). Other Chicago-area credits include: The Old Masters, Golden Boy (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), ANGELS IN AMERICA: Parts I and II (Journeymen Theatre Company), Betty's Summer Vacation (RoadWorks Productions), Pledge of Allegiance (American Theater Company), The Boarding House, The Front Page (Next Theatre Company), 1,001 Afternoons in Chicago (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination, Live Bait Theatre/Prop Theatre) and Meridian (Joseph Jefferson Citation for Actress in a Supporting Role, City Lit Theater).

John Sanders (Max) returns to Writers' Theatre where he previously appeared In Oh Coward!, A Minister's Wife and The Uneasy Chair (After Dark Award). Recent Chicago credits: Lancelot, French Taunter, Ni Knight and Tim in Spamalot and John in Miss Saigon (Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace), Edgar Allan Poe in The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe (First Folio Theatre), The Emperor's New Clothes, Cymbeline, Troilus and Cressida (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Arrangement for Two Violas (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination, Visions & Voices Theatre Co.), Fellow Travellers, Burying the Bones (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination, Stage Left Theatre). National Tour: Sam Carmichael in Mamma Mia!. Television: Last Man Standing (Lifetime Television Movie). Film: Alleged and No God No Master. Sanders is an Ensemble Member Emeritus at Stage Left Theatre, an Associate Artist with Chicago Dramatists and a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.

Jordan Lane Shappell (Billy) makes his Writers' Theatre debut. Chicago credits include Sketchbook: Evolution (Collaboraction), The Lady and the Tyger (Point of Contention Theatre Company), The Lover, Extremities, Thirst, Dancing at Lughnasa, Loose Knit and Blood Wedding (The Theatre School at DePaul University). Regional credits include work with The National Theatre of the Deaf. Shappell's film credits include Dear Hope, Sloppy Joe and Sometimes (RLS Creative). He has also published two plays that have been adapted to film. Shappell is an acting teacher and forensics coach.

Performances are September 13-November 20, 2011. The press performance is on September 22, 2011, at 7:30pm Curtain times are Tuesday and Wednesdays at 7:30pm; Wednesday matinees at 2:00pm (October 12 and November 16 only); Thursdays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 4:00pm and 8:00pm and Sundays at 2:00pm and 6:00pm (no 6:00pm show October 16 or November 20).

Tickets are $45-$65 and are available at the Box Office, 376 Park Avenue, Glencoe; 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org.

Post-show discussions will be held following all Wednesday evening performances as part of the Audience Enrichment Program. Join the artistic staff and actors from the production after the performance for an in-depth conversation. For more information, visit writerstheatre.org/enrichment.

Follow Writers' Theatre on Twitter (Twitter.com/WritersTheatre) and everyday by 3:00pm, Writers' will Tweet a code that can be used to purchase remaining seats for that day's performance at a discount. Tweet Seats are available for purchase only through the Writers' Theatre website at writerstheatre.org.


Writers' Theatre is pleased to welcome BMO Harris Bank as the 20th Anniversary Season Sponsor of its 2011/12 Season. BMO Harris Bank has been a steadfast supporter of Writers' Theatre for many years and staunch ally of the arts across Chicagoland. Writers' Theatre is grateful to BMO Harris Bank for deepening its partnership during this exciting, milestone season. Most recently, BMO Harris Bank joined Writers' Theatre as the Corporate Production Sponsor of She Loves Me (2010) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (2009). BMO Harris Bank has also been an active participant in Writers' Theatre's annual gala benefit, WordPlay.

Writers' Theatre welcomes back Premiere Restaurant Partner and Event Sponsor, Winnetka's award-winning Restaurant Michael. Featuring impeccably crafted cuisine of the freshest local and organic ingredients, Restaurant Michael prepares classic, haute cuisine, in a unique and contemporary presentation with French country flair. Writers' Theatre patrons receive 10% off their guest check when they present their ticket stub when ordering. Just 10 minutes from the theater at 64 Green Bay Road, Restaurant Michael is the perfect fit for any dining occasion. Call 847-441-3100 to make your reservation.

For more information about Writers' 2011/12 Season Restaurant Partners and offer restrictions visit writerstheatre.org/visitus.

Over the past nineteen seasons, Writers' Theatre has become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence. Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers' Theatre has been deemed the "best drama company in the nation" by the Wall Street Journal and achieved nineteen years of surplus operations. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of 35,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry. Prized for the finest interpretations of classic and Contemporary Theatre in its two intensely intimate venues, Writers' Theatre's acclaimed work includes Artistic Director Michael Halberstam's world premiere in Glencoe and subsequent production of A Minister's Wife at Lincoln Center Theater; David Cromer's productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Picnic; and the commissioning, world premiere and New York premiere of Crime and Punishment, which has received more than 30 subsequent regional Theater Productions.

You can find Writers' Theatre on Facebook or follow Writers' Theatre on Twitter at Twitter.com/WritersTheatre. For more information, visit www.writerstheatre.org.

Related Articles View More Chicago Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram