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Falls continues his career-long exploration of Eugene O’Neill, directing the comedy Ah, Wilderness! Plus Annie Baker’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov – A Chicago Premiere

Mary Zimmerman’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town kicks off a year of new works by Playwrights Andrew Hinderaker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Dael Orlandersmith, Charles Smith, Lauren Yee and Karen Zacarias

 

CHICAGO, IL – Artistic Director Robert Falls announces the 2016/2017 Season—his 30th year as “Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune) and the creative force behind the 92-year old not-for-profit Goodman Theatre, “one of the country’s most respected stages” (NPR ). For the first time, Falls expands the Goodman’s subscription season from eight to nine diverse works that embody the Goodman’s values, ambitions and artistic priorities over the past three decades: new plays, large-scale musicals, reimagined classics and Goodman commissions. The season includes some of the hottest emerging voices of the American theater, as well as members of the Goodman’s esteemed Artistic Collective—a group of culturally and aesthetically diverse American theater artists that Falls established when he became artistic director in 1986.  The 2016/2017 Season begins in September 2016 and continues through August 2017, including plays on both of the Goodman’s stages: the 856-seat Albert Theatre and 350-seat flexible Owen Theatre. Subscription tickets are on sale now; call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Subscribe. For new subscribers, the Goodman offers introductory $90 five-play packages in both Albert and Owen Theatres. Select individual tickets will become available in early August.

In addition to the nine plays offered on subscription, three annual non-subscription events take the stage: the New Stages festival of new plays and two holiday offerings—A Christmas Carol featuring Larry Yando as Scrooge and The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens. An initiative established by Falls in 2004 that remains unique in the country, New Stages is a cornerstone of the Goodman’s efforts to develop new American plays; more than one third of the 72 plays developed received a world premiere production at the Goodman or another leading U.S. theater, and nearly half (49%) were authored by playwrights of color and 43% authored by female playwrights.

 

“We are undeniably living in a ‘Golden Age’ of playwriting; not since the 1970s and 1980s have so many bold, extraordinary new voices emerged at once,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “It’s an honor to celebrate this milestone season with plays so emblematic of the essential role the Goodman has played in the cultural life of Chicago for three decades: a theater that puts diversity at the center of the company, and a theater that recognizes the importance of producing new work.

 

Continued Falls, “We’ll open the season on a high note in the Albert Theatre, with Manilow Resident Director Mary Zimmerman’s major revival of Wonderful Town—Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s song-and-dance-filled ode to New York City. It’s occasion to celebrate the work of Leonard Bernstein, in anticipation of his centennial in 2017. Next in the Albert is Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, one of the most exciting plays to premiere off-Broadway last year. Branden wished to continue work on his bitingly comic new play about contemporary workplace issues and more, and we are pleased to welcome him to the Goodman. The outrageous new comedy, Destiny of Desire by Karen Zacarías follows, bringing the high energy hijinks of Latin American telenovelas to the stage. We’re thrilled to welcome back Karen with this seductive and scandalous new work. A powerful new play, Objects in the Mirror by Charles Smith, makes its world premiere, directed by Goodman Resident Director Chuck Smith. This work about the refugee and immigrant experience was developed in New Stages last year, where it was wonderfully received by audiences. To conclude the season in the Albert, I will return to a touchstone of my artistic direction at the Goodman, Eugene O’Neill, to stage his comic masterpiece, Ah, Wilderness!

 

Falls continued, “We proudly expand our Owen Theatre season to include a fourth production, something we have been working toward for a number of years. Three of these plays are world premiere Goodman commissions developed in New Stages, including The Magic Play by Andrew Hinderaker. Celebrated director Halena Kays makes her Goodman debut with this spellbinding new play that blends a magic show and theatrical storytelling. I am thrilled to direct Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov—a fresh, inspiring new take on a play I’ve wanted to direct my entire career. Next up, The King of the Yees by Lauren Yee, also presented to great acclaim in New Stages, is Lauren’s hilarious and moving portrait of her father’s world in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Concluding the season in the Owen is, Lady in Denmark by Dael Orlandersmith directed by Chay Yew, Dael’s latest work that explores the power of Billie Holiday’s music, also developed at New Stages last fall.

 

“We also eagerly look forward to Henry Wishcamper’s  return to directing Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which will again feature Larry Yando as Scrooge, in the Albert Theatre and are pleased to continue our partnership with the Second City’s hilarious send-up Twist Your Dickens in the Owen,” said Falls.

 

 

About the Productions and Events in Goodman Theatre’s “Essential Goodman” 2016/2017 Season

Plays, artists and dates are subject to change; visit the Press Room for bios and imagery.

 

2016/2017 SUBSCRIPTION SEASON

 

Wonderful Town                                                                                                                                                   

Music by Leonard Bernstein

Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Book by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov
Directed by Mary Zimmerman
In the Albert Theatre

September 10 – October 16, 2016

Mary Zimmerman directs a dazzling revival of Leonard Bernstein’s classic, song-and-dance-filled ode to New York City that “fizzes and pops and rhumbas with timeless energy” (Variety). Combining the musical artistry of Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, this whimsical love letter to Manhattan finds two sisters, one an aspiring journalist, the other a bombshell actress, leaving Ohio in 1935 determined to conquer New York City. Roughing it at first in a dingy basement apartment isn’t quite how sisters Ruth and Eileen imagined living, but they can’t resist the city’s bustling energy. Soon they find their professional—and romantic—hopes coming true. Chock-full of swinging show tunes and spectacular choreography, Wonderful Town captures as no other musical the thrill of chasing one’s dreams.

The Magic Play                                                                                                            

By Andrew Hinderaker                                              

Directed by Halena Kays
A World Premiere Co-Commission with Roundabout Theatre Company
In the Owen Theatre

October 21 – November 20, 2016

 

World-class magic and a deeply human story of loss and love come together to create one astonishing theatrical experience. A good magician is always in control of his show. The rest of his life can be as fragile as a house of cards. When a rising young magician takes the stage just hours after his lover has left him, his performance begins to unravel. As the past invades the present, and the charismatic entertainer gives way to a heartbroken man, the magician strives to find one aspect of his life that feels like magic and not a trick. Critically acclaimed magician, illusion designer and actor Brett Schneider stars in this mind-blowing and altogether astounding spectacle that combines a live magic show with the poignant punch of Chicago theater. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

Gloria                                                                                                                        

By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins                                                                                                     

Directed by Evan Cabnet
A Chicago Premiere
In the Albert Theatre

January 14 – February 19, 2017

A workplace nightmare paves the way for “sharp-toothed…whip-smart satire” (The New York Times ) in Obie Award winner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ dark comedy. Style. Status. Success. A group of twentysomething editorial assistants are pursuing it all at one of New York’s most esteemed cultural magazines. When a seemingly normal day at the office turns out to be anything but, these cubicle captives and aspiring journalists recognize an opportunity to become the next Big Thing. But whose account is most valid, and to what lengths will each go to own the story? In this biting new comedy, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins shrewdly skewers the ravenous contemporary media landscape while demonstrating how professional relationships influence our lives in unexpected ways. Goodman Theatre presents the acclaimed Vineyard Theatre Production.

Uncle Vanya                                                                                                                

By Anton Chekhov                                                                                         

Adapted by Annie Baker                                                                               

Directed by Robert Falls
A Chicago Premiere Adaptation
In the Owen Theatre

February 11 – March 12, 2017

 

Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker (The Flick, Circle Mirror Transformation) injects a “distinctly contemporary American sound” (Variety) into Chekhov’s masterpiece with a new adaptation helmed by Artistic Director Robert Falls. A secluded country estate becomes the setting for unrequited love, renewed rivalries and ruminations both absurd and tragic on roads barely taken and passions left unfulfilled. Chekhov’s timeless study of the agonizing intersections of youth and mid-life finds contemporary immediacy in Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker’s fresh and compelling new adaptation.

Destiny of Desire                                                                                                        

By Karen Zacarías                                                                                                        

Directed by José Luis Valenzuela
A Chicago Premiere
In the Albert Theatre

March 11 – April 16, 2017

 

Karen Zacarías brings the seductive power of Latin American telenovelas to the stage in this hilarious and smart new comedy. In her new high-drama and explosive comedy, Zacarías explores race, gender and class politics through the lens of the Latin American telenovela, one of the world’s most popular storytelling genres. On a stormy night in a Mexican hospital, two baby girls are born―one into a life of privilege, the other to an impoverished family. But when the girls are deliberately swapped, the stage is set for two outrageous misfortunes to grow into one remarkable destiny. Destiny of Desire is a smart, stylish and sexy comedy that dishes a lot of dirt and even more surprises. Produced in association with South Coast Repertory.

King of the Yees                                                                                                         

By Lauren Yee
Directed by Joshua Kahan Brody

A World Premiere Goodman Commission
In the Owen Theatre

March 31 – April 30, 2017

 

King of the Yees is an offbeat and electric joy ride about living in the contemporary world while honoring one’s rich ancestral heritage—and the conflict that ensues. The affable Larry Yee remains a driving force in the San Francisco Chinese American community as the head of the Yee Family Association, a seemingly obsolescent men’s club dedicated to the preservation of the Yee line. His daughter Lauren, however, is dismissive of its patriarchal culture policy, despite her father’s lifelong dedication to the group. When Larry suddenly goes missing, Lauren’s desperate search drops her into a strange but familiar world where she will have to embrace the past if she wants to get her father back. Explore the vivid history of America’s largest Chinatown through the eyes of a new generation in Lauren Yee’s hilarious and touching theatrical quest to connect with her family lineage. Produced in association with Center Theatre Group.

 

Objects in the Mirror                                                                                                            

By Charles Smith                                                                                                              

Directed by Chuck Smith
A World Premiere
In the Albert Theatre

April 29 – June 4, 2017

 

Charles Smith presents a gripping account of one African refugee’s attempts to find peace by exposing a potentially dangerous, lifelong secret. After surviving a tumultuous upbringing in war-torn Liberia, Shedrick Yarpai has found a new home in a sunny, coastal Australian city. Safe from the horrific perils of guerrilla soldiers and refugee camps, Shedrick now faces a different type of danger: the haunting memories stirring inside him. Inspired by writer Charles Smith’s friendship with a Liberian refugee-turned-acclaimed-actor, the playwright crafts a harrowing story of personal honor vs. familial obligation and the responsibility that comes with being a survivor.

 

Lady in Denmark                                                                                                         

By Dael Orlandersmith                                                                                   

Directed by Chay Yew
A World Premiere Goodman Commission
In the Owen Theatre

May 19 – June 18, 2017

 

Dael Orlandersmith’s soulful tribute to legendary torch singer Billie Holiday and her music’s power to heal and inspire. Back when smoke curled thickly in night clubs and crowds never left the dance floor, jazz great Billie Holiday could scorch audiences with her singular, insinuating voice. With Lady in Denmark, Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith delivers a stirring ode to “Lady Day.” This one-woman show follows Helene, a Danish American woman who finds solace in Holiday’s hauntingly beautiful music in the wake of her husband’s death. Infused with Holiday’s iconic songs, Lady in Denmark presents a passionate meditation on life, marriage and mortality, assuring audiences that even in the most troubled times, music can make life worth living.

 

Ah, Wilderness!                                                                                                           

By Eugene O’Neill

Directed by Robert Falls
In the Albert Theatre

June 17 – July 23, 2017

 

“Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), Artistic Director Robert Falls, continues his career-long exploration of Eugene O’Neill with the iconic playwright’s masterful comedy. Following his critically lauded production of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, Robert Falls takes on the legendary playwright’s sweeping, heartfelt salute to youthful indiscretion and small town life. For the shy and scholarly Richard Miller, fireworks aren’t the only flames burning on Fourth of July—this 16- year-old has started going steady with his beautiful neighbor Muriel. Her father, however, disapproves of their relationship and forbids the couple from seeing each other. Spurred by this obstacle, Richard embarks on an evening of hilarious and unexpected rebellion. Ah, Wilderness! delightfully captures the rush of excitement, torment, emotional confusion and bliss that accompanies first love and growing up.

NON-SUBSCRIPTION PLAYS AND EVENTS

 

New Stages Festival
In the Owen Theatre
September 21 – October 9, 2016 (“Industry Weekend” is October 7-9)

Three Developmental Productions and Three Staged Readings TBA

The 12th annual New Stages festival of new plays includes three developmental productions in repertory and three staged readings. Three productions in the 2016/2017 Season emerged from New Stages, including The Magic Play, Objects in the Mirror and King of the Yees. Founded in 2004, the New Stages Festival is a celebration of innovative new plays designed to give playwrights an opportunity to take risks and experiment. New Stages offers Chicago theatergoers a first look at dozens of plays, many of which have gone on to become successful full productions—including Noah Haidle’s Smokefall and Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined.

A Christmas Carol (39th Annual production)                                                                               

Adapted by Tom Creamer, directed by Henry Wishcamper
In the Albert Theatre                                       

November 19 – December 31, 2016

Acclaimed Chicago actor Larry Yando returns for his 9th consecutive season as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre, directed for the 4th year by Artistic Associate Henry Wishcamper. More than 1.2 million theatergoers have attended “the crown jewel of the holiday season” (Daily Herald) since the Goodman established it as an annual offering in 1978—a time when only a handful of US theaters mounted the production. Dickens’ holiday classic is the iconic tale of greedy British businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, whose sizable bank account is only matched by his hatred of the holidays. One Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by four ghosts who take him on a spectacular adventure through his past, present and future, helping him rediscover the joys of life, love and friendship. Former cast members include stage and screen notables Jessie Mueller, Del Close, Harry J. Lennix, Felicia P. Fields, Raul Esparza, Sally Murphy and Frank Galati.

The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens                                                                                    

By Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort
In the Owen Theatre
December 1 – 31, 2016

 

Scrooge, Tiny Tim, three ridiculous ghosts and a cast of Second City’s funniest members take the Owen stage by storm, as wicked parody and daring improv run rampant. Add in Second City’s trademark improvisation and it makes for a heaping host of holiday hilarity for all. The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens is written by former The Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort.

 

 

Visit the Goodman virtually at GoodmanTheatre.org, and on Twitter (@GoodmanTheatre), Facebook and Instagram.

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