At the end of an arduous cross-country bike trip, a rudderless 21-year-old seeks refuge in his elderly grandmother’s West Village apartment. These two outsiders face ideological differences, but ultimately find their way together in “a beautifully rendered portrait” (The New York Times) of a cross-generational relationship.
Production photos by Michael Brosilow.
Grandparent bonding without the warm fuzziness
September 23, 2013
By CHRIS JONES
Amy Herzog’s refreshingly caustic but deeply compassionate “4000 Miles” might just be the play for you. Especially in the beautiful Northlight Theatre production forged by Kimberly Senior, and starring Mary Ann Thebus and Josh Salt.
… [T]hroughout this small, honest, 100-minute drama, you never doubt for a moment that these two characters need each other desperately. You might say that Herzog is writing unsentimentally about a very sentimental subject, which is ideal, really, for the better class of softy who goes to the theater.
It’s funny. Some of us enjoy the chance for beautiful relationships across the generational divide and some of us, whether due to issues of health, geographic remove, familial dysfunction or sheer lateness of arrival into this world, do not. But no play I’ve seen has better understood what a grandparent and grandchild actually can do for one another, if they are given the chance.
‘4000 Miles’ a theatrical journey worth taking
September 25, 2013
By HEDY WEISS
Amy Herzog’s “4000 Miles,” now in the loveliest of productions at Northlight Theatre, is a beautifully observed play about an elderly woman who is still engaged, spirited, and fiercely trying hard to hold on to life, and her encounter with her early twentysomething grandson, a neo-hippie struggling to make sense of life, love, work and mortality …
Vera Joseph (Mary Ann Thebus, in an altogether glorious portrayal that is spot-on in terms of its emotional and physical truth), is an independent-minded octogenarian living alone in the same roomy, rent-controlled Greenwich Village apartment she has occupied for 40 years …
In this intimate but universal story — one that belongs, above all, to Thebus — director Kimberly Senior makes everything flow easily but unpredictably. She and her cast find the truth in the casual mess of a cereal bowl, the visible relief of a hug.
4000 Miles at Northlight Theatre: Theater review
A young man takes refuge in his aged grandmother’s Manhattan apartment in Amy Herzog’s delicate, truthful character study.
September 23, 2013
By KRIS VIRE
You’ve likely known a Leo Joseph-Connell. And it’s likely you couldn’t stand him. As sharply illustrated in Amy Herzog’s rich, small-scale 2011 work, Leo is a very recognizable type of modern 21-year-old: a privileged-progressive rich kid, the kind who refuses the offer of a banana out of responsibility for its carbon footprint, but refuses to take responsibility for his effect on the emotions of those who love him. Leo prides himself on his anti-consumerism in not owning a cell phone, yet thinks nothing of asking his 91-year-old grandmother to spot him 50 bucks to go to a rock-climbing gym.
… Yet for all of Leo’s repugnant self-righteousness and blithe disregard for his ability to injure, Herzog doesn’t sit in judgment of his behavior. Like the playwright, Josh Salt does a remarkable job of capturing his character’s casual cruelty while still letting Leo’s barely-hidden terror and sorrow show through enough to make us want better for him …
There are no wrenching plot twists nor oversold sentimentality in Herzog’s and Senior’s delicate sketchwork, which also encompasses brief but lovely turns by Caroline Neff and Emjoy Gavino as two very different love interests for Leo. It never feels like we’re being manipulated or that the playwright is pushing buttons; even a scene that sounds on paper like an easy joke—Leo and Granny get high together—comes across as organic and earned. There are no big lessons in 4000 Miles, just honest and moving portrayals of learning and growing.
Great cast helps Northlight’s ‘4000 Miles’ go the distance
★ ★ ★
September 26, 2013
By BARBARA VITELLO
Amy Herzog’s “4000 Miles” sneaks up on you and doesn’t let you go. A quiet, family drama about growing up, growing old and finding oneself, Herzog’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist doesn’t leave a big impression. Not at first, anyway.
Just as it did for Herzog’s “Belleville,” which ran this summer at Steppenwolf Theatre, my appreciation grew for this affecting (yet never schmaltzy) drama centered around 21-year-old Leo (Josh Salt, as a most amiable hipster), and his prickly, left-leaning grandmother Vera (deftly played by Mary Ann Thebus). Their brief, bothersome and occasionally embarrassing cohabitation animates the play, which unfolds in Vera’s dated but cozy Greenwich Village apartment in the not-too-distant past.
The dialogue is refreshing and realistic. The characters are honest, imperfect and entirely relatable. But the best thing about “4000 Miles” is that it doesn’t follow the intergenerational family drama formula, where the elder shares with her troubled grandson a lifetime of wisdom that transforms him into a content, productive man. Here, a character’s revelations and confessions don’t reverberate like thunderclaps. They’re revealed quietly, almost as an afterthought, to a preoccupied listener who more often than not fails to grasp their importance.
Emjoy happily makes her Northlight Theatre debut. Recent Chicago credits: The Drunken City (The Garage at Steppenwolf), Failure: A Love Story (Victory Gardens), Seascape (Remy Bumppo), Hair (Paramount), Wait Until Dark (Court), Working (Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place), Christmas Carol (Goodman), Wilson Wants it All (The House Theatre of Chicago), Cooperstown(Theatre Seven of Chicago), Arabian Nights (Lookingglass), Neo-Futurist Christmas Carol (The Neo-Futurists), and is a proud company member and teaching artist with Barrel of Monkeys. Regional credits:The Violet Hour (Repertory Actors Theatre), Miss Saigon (5th Avenue Theatre), and Searching 4 Y (Village Theatre). Film/TV: Chicago Fire, Mob Doctor, Boss, and Freudian Slip. Emjoy is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf, WP10.
Caroline makes her debut at Northlight Theatre and she couldn’t be more delighted. Other select Chicago credits include: Three Sisters (Steppenwolf); Annie Bosh is Missing, Where We’re Born (The Garage at Steppenwolf); The Knowledge, The Receptionist, Under the Blue Sky, Pornography, A Brief History of Helen of Troy, Harper Regan, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings (Steep Theatre Company); Port, Stage Door, Be More Chill (Griffin); The Petrified Forest, St. Crispin’s Day (Strawdog); Cherrywood, Saved (Mary-Arrchie); 25 Saints (Pine Box); The Metal Children (Next); Moonshiner (Jackalope). Film/TV credits: Older Children, Open Tables, and Chicago Fire. She is an ensemble member at Steep Theatre Company and holds her BA from Columbia College.
Josh makes his first appearance at Northlight Theatre. He recently played Stag Lee in Yellow Moon (Writers) directed by Stuart Carden, and Tim in Teddy Ferrara (Goodman) directed by Evan Cabnet. This is his second time working with Kimberly Senior; the first was when he played Cripple Billy in The Cripple of Inishmaan (Redtwist). Other credits include Eric in Making Noise Quietly (Steep) directed by Erica Weiss, and Melchior Gabor in Spring Awakening (Griffin) directed by Jonathan Berry. He is a co-founder of a long-form dramatic improvisation ensemble called The Character Project.
Mary Ann Thebus
She is happy to be returning to Northlight Theatre where she was previously seen in Inherit the Wind and Cat Feet. She is a longtime Chicago actor first seen in 1981 in Close Ties (Victory Gardens). In the ensuing years she has frequently been seen on Chicago stages, most recently in Elizabeth Rex (Chicago Shakespeare), After the Revolution (Next), and Three Sisters (Steppenwolf). Last spring she co-directed the critically acclaimed Collected Stories at American Blues Theater with her daughter Jessica. She is a frequent Joseph Jefferson Award nominee, received the 2002 After Dark Award for Painting Churches (Organic Theater Company), and has been active in film and television shot locally such as Rudy, Cupid, and The Untouchables. She conducts a master class at The Artistic Home and coaches privately.
Plays include After the Revolution (Williamstown Theater Festival; Playwrights Horizons; Lilly Award), 4000 Miles (Lincoln Center; Obie Award for the Best New American Play, Pulitzer Prize Finalist), The Great God Pan (Playwrights Horizons), and Belleville (Yale Rep; New York Theatre Workshop; Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist; Drama Desk Nomination). Amy is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, the Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Helen Merrill, the Joan and Joseph Cullman Award for Extraordinary Creativity, and the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award. She is a Usual Suspect at NYTW and an alumna of Youngblood, Play Group at Ars Nova, and the SoHo Rep Writer/Director Lab. She has taught playwriting at Bryn Mawr and Yale. MFA, Yale School of Drama.
Previously at Northlight: 4000 Miles, The Whipping Man. Broadway: Disgraced (2013 Pulitzer Prize, Best Play Tony nominee). Her many Chicago credits include Disgraced; Rapture, Blister, Burn (The Goodman); Marjorie Prime, The Diary of Anne Frank, Hedda Gabler, The Letters (Writers Theatre, where she is a Resident Director); Want, The North Plan(Steppenwolf); Inana, My Name is Asher Lev, All My Sons, Dolly West’s Kitchen (TimeLine Theatre, where she is an Associate Artist); Disgraced (American Theater Company); Waiting for Lefty (American Blues), among others. New York and regional credits include: Sex with Strangers (Geffen Playhouse); Disgraced (Lincoln Center Theater 3, Seattle Rep, Berkeley Rep);The Who and The What (La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center Theater 3); Little Gem (City Theatre); Games Afoot, Murder on the Nile, A Few Good Men(Peninsula Players); Mauritius (Theatre Squared, Fayetteville, AR). Kimberly is a proud member of SDC. kimberlysenior.net
Jack most recently designed Discord and Mothers and Sons at Northlight. Recent Chicago and regional design credits include Other Than Honorable (Geva Theatre), Evita (Kansas City Rep), The Flick (Steppenwolf), Rapture Blister Burn (Goodman), The Who and The What (Lincoln Center Theatre-LCT3 and La Jolla Playhouse), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Court), East Texas Hot Links and The Diary of Anne Frank (Writers), South Pacific (Clarence Brown Theatre), Man of La Mancha and The Mousetrap (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre). Ten Jeff Award nominations include designs for The Diary of Anne Frank (Writers) and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Court). Upcoming projects include A Flea In Her Ear (American Players Theatre) and Fences (Kansas City Rep). Jack lives in Chicago and teaches design at The Theatre School at DePaul University. www.jackmagaw.com
Rachel is honored to be joining Northlight for the 23rd time after last season’s By the Water and Relativity. Her designs have previously been seen Off Broadway at Pearl Theatre and regionally at Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf First Look, Writers, Court, Milwaukee Rep, Great Lakes Theatre, Idaho Shakespeare, American Players, Florentine Opera, Drury Lane, Arizona Theatre Company, Resident Ensemble Players, Kansas City Rep, Utah Shakespeare, Actors Theatre Louisville, Illinois Shakespeare, Next Act, Peninsula Players, Remy Bumppo, Timeline, Chamber, Renaissance Theaterworks, Skylight Music Theatre, Arkansas Shakespeare, Children’s Theatre of Madison and University of Michigan. Other professional credits include NBC’S Law & Order, Chicago Opera Theatre, and Garsington Opera. Rachel is a recipient of a 2011 Emerging Artist Award from the University of Michigan and a 2009 Joseph Jefferson Award for Voysey Inheritance. www.rachellaritz.com
Christine A. Binder
Christine has designed for Writers, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Court, Lookingglass, Geva Theatre, and the Joffrey Ballet among others. Her opera designs include work at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theatre, San Diego Opera, New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Houston Grand Opera. Recent designs include: Mansfield Park (Northlight), A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Steppenwolf), and Onegin (Canadian Opera Company and Washington National Opera). Upcoming productions are: The Agitators (Alabama Shakespeare); The Last Match (Writers); Her Honor Mayor Jane Byrne, Lookingglass Alice (Lookingglass); and Onegin (Seiji Ozawa Festival/Matsumoto, Japan). Ms. Binder has been nominated for Joseph Jefferson Awards for her work with Court, Northlight, and Lookingglass. She is an Artistic Associate with Lookingglass and Head of Lighting at The Theatre School at DePaul University.
Original Music & Sound Design
Christopher is an award-winning composer and sound designer. Previous Northlight designs include 4000 Miles, The Whipping Man, Black Pearl Sings! and Eclipsed. In Chicago, Kriz has designed for Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court, Writers, Victory Gardens, TimeLine, Theatre Wit, Rivendell and many others. Upcoming and recent credits include Carlyle (Goodman), Anna Christie (Steppenwolf), Gem of the Ocean (Court), Sucker Punch (Victory Gardens), Sticky Traps(Kansas City Repertory), Sunset Baby (Timeline), Fallen Angels (Remy Bumppo) and Good For Otto (Gift). Recently, Lifeline Theatre produced Kriz’s new musical Soon I Will Be Invincible. For his work in theatre, Kriz has been honored with 11 Joseph Jefferson Nominations and 2 Awards, most recently nominated for Cicada (Route 66) and Mill Fire (Shattered Globe). Kriz is a proud member of United Scenic Artists 829. To hear more of his work, please visit www.christopherkriz.com.
Production Stage Manager
Rita is proud to be returning to Northlight for her 39th production, and delighted to be collaborating again with Cody Estle. Other favorite stage management projects include the recent hit The Luckiest at Raven Theatre, three years of The Polar Express Train Ride, seven seasons of The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater, and productions at Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, and Northlight’s productions of Chapatti and Stella & Lou in Galway, Ireland. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to nine-year-old Charlie, and last year she celebrated her 20th anniversary as a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Thank you for supporting live theatre!