Writers' Theater Presents A MINISTER'S WIFE, 5/5

Writers' Theater Presents A MINISTER'S WIFE, 5/5

Writers' Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma announce that A Minister's Wife, Writers' Theatre's musical adapted from George Bernard Shaw's Candida, will be produced by Lincoln Center Theater in the 2010-11 season.  The original musical was conceived and directed by Michael Halberstam, adapted by Austin Pendleton with music by Joshua Schmidt and lyrics by Jan Tranen.   The Lincoln Center production will be directed by Halberstam.  Performances begin on Thursday, April 7, 2011 and opens on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater (150 West 65 Street, New York City).  

 A Minister's Wife had its World Premiere at Writers' Theatre after a four-year commissioning and development process.  The original sold-out run of A Minister's Wife at Writers' Theatre was extended by popular demand three times, running for a total of 13 weeks.  Workshops have continued on the production at Lincoln Center.

  Based on an early 1898 version of Candida (George Bernard Shaw revised the work in 1930) A Minister's Wife explores the fires burning beneath the surface of a seemingly ordinary marriage:  The Revered James Morrell and his wife, Candida, are happily married - or at least they think - until a romantic young poet enters their life, turning their world upside-down.

Michael Halberstam, SSDC (Director) is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Writers' Theatre. He has directed over 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 and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. 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); a highly acclaimed revival of Crime and Punishment, which Writers' Theatre produced Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theatres in New York City and Enchanted April and State of The Union (Milwaukee Repertory 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 and The Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival.

 Austin Pendleton (Adaptor) appeared at Writers' Theatre in Booth, directed by David Cromer, in a role originated in New York by Frank Langella.  Pendleton also wrote Orson's Shadow and Uncle Bob.  He is an Ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and has acted there in The Sunset Limited, Valparasio, Uncle Vanya and Educating Rita, among other plays. He has directed several productions at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, such as Love Song, Frankie and Johnny in the Claire De Lune, Harvey, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Thee Sisters, Loose Ends and Say Goodnight, Gracie.  His recent New York directing credits include Uncle Vanya (Classic Stage Company), Michael Weller's Fifty Words (Manhattan Class Company) and Barbara Eda-Young's Lillian Yuralis (La Mama).  He has acted on and off-Broadway and in many regional theaters, as well as in about 100 movies and extensively on television, most recently in Law and Order.  Pendleton is a veteran of musical theatre, having originated the role of Motel the Tailor in Fiddler on the Roof.  He teaches acting at HB Studio in New York, Act One Studios in Chicago and directing at the New School of Drama in New York.

Josh Schmidt, USAA (Composition/Sound Designer) is a Writers' Theatre Artistic Associate and has  designed sound for The Old Settler, Nixon's Nixon, The Lion in Winter, The Savannah Disputation, Othello, The Puppetmaster of Lodz, The Duchess of Malfi, The Chosen, The Subject Was Roses, The Doctor's Dilemma, Benefactors, My Own Stranger, Crime and Punishment, Rough Crossing and The Price.  In 2001 Schmidt made his Chicago debut at Writers' Theatre when he composed music for A Phoenix Too Frequent.  Other Chicago credits include The Tempest, Love-Lies-Bleeding, A Tale of Two Cities, Things Being What They Are, World Set Free (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Adding Machine and Far Away (Next Theatre), The Chalk Garden and Lady Windermere's Fan (Northlight Theatre), Celebrity Row (American Theatre Company), Journey's End (Seanachai Theatre Company) and many others. Regional credits include Alley Theatre, The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and Ford's Theatre, Bard College, University of Rochester, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, American Players Theatre, Madison Repertory, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Shakespeare and Renaissance Theaterworks among others. Off-Broadway credits include Adding Machine (Minetta Lane Theatre), Fifty Words (MCC Theatre), Crime and Punishment (59E59 Theatres) and Candida (Jean Cocteau Repertory). Upcoming projects include The Farnsworth Invention (Alley Theatre), Henry V and Long Day's Journey into Night (American Players Theatre) and Resurrection, a new monologue in music with libretto by David Simpatico.

Jan Tranen (Lyricist) has written the lyrics for Night in Sarajevo, a one-act opera by Jay Schwandt which was staged at the Theatre Building Chicago in 1997 under the direction of Warner Crocker.  With Schwandt she went on to co-write the book and write lyrics for Crazy Mary, a full length musical drama based upon Mary Todd Lincoln's life after her husband's assassination.  The first reading of Crazy Mary was staged by Michael Halberstam in 1999.  It was given a subsequent skeletal staging directed by Lara Teeter at Theatre Building Chicago and a full production in 2000 at the Hartt School, University of Connecticut in Hartford, directed by Henry Fonte.  She also co-wrote the book and wrote lyrics for Steadfast the One Legged Tin Soldier, a family holiday musical with music by Elizabeth Doyle. She studied lyric writing in New York City with Sheila Davis, musical theatre writing at Theatre Building Chicago and playwriting at Chicago Dramatists.  She is a member of The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the Dramatists' Guild.  

In the 2004/05 Season, thanks to the generosity of David & Mary Winton Green, Writers' Theatre launched its formalized Literary Development Initiative, establishing a dialogue between the theatre and noted playwrights from across the United States in order to commission, develop and produce new and adapted works. 

During the 2008/09 Season, Writers' produced two world premieres commissioned and developed through the program: Old Glory by Brett Neveu and A Minister's Wife.  A Minister's Wife was Writers' first musical, and a major theatrical project developed through workshops over the course of four years.  Next season, Writers' will produce two world premieres-Brett Neveu's Do The Hustle, directed by William Brown; and Keith Huff's The Detective's Wife, directed by Gary Griffin.


Writers' Theatre is a professional company focusing on the Word and the Artist.  Remaining true to the intention of the playwright and nurturing the artist stand at the center of the mission.  Now in its 18th season, the company both revives classic scripts and cultivates new works and adaptations while invigorating them with fresh energy in the intimacy of its venues. Founded in 1992, Writers' Theatre performed exclusively at Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Avenue for the first 12 years.  In the fall of 2003, the organization opened a new 108 seat performance venue at 325 Tudor Court. Today, Writers' Theatre continues to produce in both spaces, maintaining an intimate theatrical experience for audiences.  Since 2000, the subscriber base has grown almost 250%, from 1,500 to more than 5,200 today.  With an operating budget of $3.3 million, Writers' Theatre is supported by a staff of 18 full-time employees and a 31-member Board of Trustees.


For more information, visit www.writerstheatre.org.

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