Sarah Ruhl returns to Chicago with Stage Kiss, her first Goodman Theatre Commission

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Jenny Bacon and Mark L. Montgomery kiss and tell in this World-Premiere Production directed by Jessica Thebus, April 30 – June 5, 2011


Chicago, IL – What happens on stage may not stay on stage when Sarah Ruhl returns to Goodman Theatre with the world premiere of her romantic fantasy, Stage Kiss. Chicago director and long-time Ruhl collaborator Jessica Thebus directs this human exploration of love, nostalgia and commitment with a cast including Jenny Bacon and Mark L. Montgomery. Stage Kiss, Ruhl’s third production at the Goodman following The Clean House (2006) and Passion Play: a cycle in three parts (2007), is her first Goodman commission—the result of a two-year development process of workshops and readings and part of the theater’s commitment to generate and support new American plays.

Stage Kiss begins previews April 30 (Opening Night is May 9) and runs through June 5, 2011 in the Goodman’s Albert Theatre; tickets are $25 – $78 (prices subject to change). Northern Trust is the Major Corporate Sponsor of Stage Kiss and Mayer Brown LLP and the Motorola Solutions Foundation are Corporate Sponsor Partners. Stage Kiss is the recipient of Edgerton Foundation’s New American Plays Award.

“Sarah is one of the singularly gifted voices in the contemporary American theater,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls about the Chicago native playwright whose copious body of work includes three productions currently running in her home-town. “With intelligence and wit, she takes her audience on a delightful and moving journey, exploring the often tenuous grasp that we all have on our own identities. It is a privilege to have commissioned a new piece from this prolific playwright and I could not be more thrilled to have her back at the Goodman.”

Ruhl goes “behind the curtain” in Stage Kiss, asking what happens when lovers share a stage kiss…or actors share a real one? As an actor assumes a role and attempts to become someone else, how much of that character is a character, and how much is it the person playing him or her? Actors and ex-lovers HE (Mark L Montgomery) and SHE

(Jenny Bacon) are thrown together as the romantic leads in a present-day revival of a long-forgotten 1930s melodrama; neither has seen the other in the 20 years following their ugly break-up. In that time, SHE has married her Husband (Scott Jaeck) and had a daughter Angela (Sarah Tolan-Mee) and HE is currently living with his girlfriend Laurie (Erica Elam). Once rehearsals for the play begin—with director (Ross Lehman) and understudy (Jeffrey Carlson) in tow—they quickly lose touch with reality as the romantic story on stage begins to follow them offstage.

“As a playwright, it’s so rare to find an artistic venue to call home and I feel lucky to have my third play done at the Goodman,” said playwright Sarah Ruhl. “I am fascinated by that ‘great lie of the theater;’ of pretending to be something you’re not in front of other people who are watching. I find that wonderfully rich and strange.” Adds director Jessica Thebus, “This play is a pleasure—sexy, funny, irreverent and silly in a way that is completely joyful. It is about the heart, and the dance the heart does when we are drawn to, or away from another person.”

“Among the most acclaimed and accomplished young playwrights on the contemporary scene” (The New York Times), Ruhl and Thebus have generated a number of memorable Chicago productions—The Clean House (Goodman, 2006), Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Steppenwolf, 2008); Eurydice (Victory Gardens, 2008); Late: A Cowboy

Song (Piven Theatre Workshop, 2010); and the current Court Theatre production of Orlando (through April 10). For Stage Kiss, they have tapped an award-winning design team including Set Designer Todd Rosenthal (The Seagull, The Clean House), Costume Designer Linda Roethke (The Clean House and Orlando at Court Theatre); Lighting

Designer James F. Ingalls (A True History of the Johnstown Flood and Nixon in China at the Metropolitan Opera) and Sound Designer Andre J. Pluess (Trojan Woman, I Am My Own Wife).

Tickets to Stage Kiss ($25 – $78) are currently on sale at Tickets and subscriptions can also be purchased at the box office (170 North Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800. Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets; 10Tix are $10 rear mezzanine tickets for students. Both are available on the day of the performance at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online; neither are available by telephone. To purchase10Tix online use promocode 10TIX; a valid student ID must be presented when picking up the tickets; limit four per student with ID. To purchase Mezztix online use promo code MEZZTIX. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted Group Tickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820. Purchase Goodman Gift Certificates in any amount at The flexibility of Goodman Gift Certificates allows recipients to choose the production, date and time of their performance. Artists, dates and ticket prices are subject to change.

Special Events for Stage Kiss:

Stage Kiss Artists Talk Featuring Playwright Sarah Ruhl

Wednesday, May 4; 6 – 7pm | Healy Rehearsal Room

Tickets are $10; $5 Donors, Subscribers and students with ID; Call 312.443.3800

The Artists Talk series connects theater audiences with Goodman artists in conversations about their process in an intimate environment. Hear more about the process of bringing Sarah Ruhl’s world-premiere production of Stage Kiss to life from the playwright herself!

Downtown Dream Date

A Goodman Theatre Facebook Contest

Friday, May 20

Goodman Theatre is throwing a downtown dream date for one lucky couple, including free tickets to a performance of Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss—and the details for a night on the town are up to Facebook fans! Each week on the Goodman’s Facebook page, fans will vote on a different romantic element of the evening, including a pre-show dinner, post-show cocktails, special souvenir and more. To qualify as a potential “dream date” couple and to learn more, visit

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