“Milk Like Sugar” Opens at Raven Theatre (Two Weeks Only)

Opening Thursday, January 14 on our West Stage for two weeks only
The award-winning play by Kirsten Greenidge
January 13 – 23, 2016
(Preview performance Weds., Jan. 13 – Regular run Jan. 14 – 23)

Milk Like Sugar

Ireon Roach, Sheharrell Rhodes and Lawren Carter

How can an inner city teenager find purpose and hope in a community that has been hollowed out and left its members with only an instinctual sense of despair? That’s the question asked by the play Milk Like Sugar, which in a co-production of The Yard and Raven Theatre Company will be performed on Raven’s West Stage from January 13 through 23, 2016. The  official opening night will be Thursday, January 14.

Kirsten Greenidge’s Obie Award-winning play premiered at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse in September 2011 and transferred to an off-Broadway production at New York’s Playwrights’ Horizons later that fall. The play caught the attention of both Mechelle Moe, Director of Raven Theatre’s Take Flight Education Program and Joel Ewing, Lead Theatre Teacher at Senn Arts Magnet High School, who recently founded The Yard, a company whose mission is to produce theater relevant to young people; performed by young people.

The Yard, a collective of Senn Arts High School theatre students, operates via artistic alliances with professional theatre companies throughout Chicago, who provide a professional environment and mentorship opportunities. Teens work alongside professionals in the Chicago theater community assisting in everything from tech to marketing. Both Moe and Ewing approached Raven Theatre, who has a long relationship with Senn through their education programs, about an alliance with The Yard and co-producing Milk Like Sugar, a play about inner-city teens Moe and Ewing felt would resonate with their young actors.

Milk Like Sugar

Brandon Greenhouse and Ireon Roach in rehearsal for Milk Like Sugar
As Milk Like Sugar opens, Annie (played by Ireon Roach) and her best friends, Margie (Sheharrell Rhodes) and Talisha (Lawren Carter) celebrate Annie’s sixteenth birthday and a pact is made among the three. Annie and Talisha agree to become pregnant, so that along with the already expecting Margie they will all become mothers together. As Annie searches for a “baby daddy”  to assist in her plan, she finds Malik, (Tevion Lanier), who unlike her own friends has no interest in the world that they have come to know, but has hopes of a brighter future for himself. Malik’s positive outlook begins to plant seeds of doubt within Annie about the pact she has made with her friends. Conflicted with keeping true to her promise to her friends yet inspired by Malik to picture the possibility of something more than teenaged parenthood and poverty, Annie must choose a course of action that will affect the direction of her life. The teenage cast members will perform alongside professional actors Brandon Greenhouse (of Raven’s Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys) as tattoo artist Antwoine and Elana Elyce as Annie’s mother Myrna, the role created in the La Jolla and New York productions by Tony Award-winning actress Tonya Pinkins.

Tevion Lanier and Ireon Roach in rehearsal for Milk Like Sugar
When cast members were asked if they felt the situations depicted in the play were realistic, they immediately and unequivocally said “yes!” Tevion Lanier, who plays Malik said, “This happens every day.  It’s not some made up story. I have friends who have gone through this. Malik is just trying to get away and make something better for himself but he still sometimes feels trapped in that environment.”
Actress Lawren Carter was asked how she gets into character as Talisha, who perpetuates the belief that the three teens have limited opportunity for a better life, Carter responded, “Talisha has a lot of layers and beneath them all is pain. She feels unloved and in turn tries to make her friends feel like they are also unloved. She does this because she doesn’t want to be alone in her feelings of worthlessness”.

The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood said Milk Like Sugar is “a provocative new play” with “a distinctive view of a matter of vital currency, crisply delineated characters who reveal more layers as the play proceeds, richly funny vernacular dialogue.” As The Yard’s actors take on roles that are close to home in this coming of age play, a ride through modern realism awaits audience viewers. This is the second production of The Yard’s inaugural season. The first, The Fourth Graders Present an Unnamed Love Suicide, presented in artistic alliance with The Hypocrites, was praised by the Sun-Times’ Hedy Weiss for its “uncannily brilliant performances” in Weiss’s “Best Theatre of 2015” year-end wrap-up.

Milk Like Sugar will be performed Wednesday, January 13 (preview – all seats $10.00) and Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 pm, plus Saturdays at 4:00 p, from January 14 – 23, 2016. Tickets are $10.00 for students and $15.00 for adults. Tickets may be ordered onlne or by phone at 773-339-2177.

Order Tickets Here