Backstage with BJ
Our popular discussion series with Artistic Director BJ Jones, featuring special guest artists, actors, directors and designers, offering behind-the-scenes insight into each production while it is still in rehearsal.Read More
by Lynn Nottage
directed by Tasia A. Jones
April 14 - May 15, 2022
In 1905, a Black seamstress named Esther sews her way out of poverty stitch by delicate stitch, creating fine lingerie for her Manhattan clientele while longing for a husband and a future. She finds common ground with a Jewish fabric merchant, a relationship they both know cannot grow. So when correspondence with a lonesome Caribbean man leads to a marriage proposal, she accepts. But as her new marriage quickly leads to regret, Esther turns back to her sewing machine to rebuild her life and refashion her future.
2 hours 30 minutes, including one 15 minute intermission
Photos by Liz Lauren
Rashada is excited to be a part of this classical Lynn Nottage piece and is pleased to be making her Northlight debut! Select Chicago credits include Madagascar, Junie B. Jones, The Nutcracker (Marriott); Elf (Paramont); Caroline or Change (Firebrand/Timeline); Djembe (Foresight); Something In The Game (AMTP/Wirtz); The Winner of Our Discontent, A Red Line Runs Through It (Second City); Aida (MUNY); Dynamite Divas, Black White Love Play, and The Other Cinderella (Black Ensemble). TV/Film: Chicago PD, Shameless, Hope Springs Eternal, Easy, The Red Line, and Proven Innocent. Rashada is a Jeff award nominated actress and Executive Director of B.Fli Productions. She is most thankful to God for her Village, family and friends, Paonessa Talent Agency, and her two managers aka daughters, Journey and Genesis.
Yao makes his Northlight debut with Intimate Apparel! Chicago credits: Short Shakespeare! Macbeth (Chicago Shakespeare). Regional: Fences (American Player Theatre); Othello, Love Labour’s Lost (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks); Richard III, and Twelfth Night (Houston Shakespeare Festival). Upcoming: Big Love (Round House Theatre D.C/Maryland). Education: MFA in Theatre at University of Houston. Yao was listed as one of Houston’s best actors in 2017 for his performance as Booth in Susan Lori-Parks’ Topdog/Underdog. As an actor-playwright, he has had two of his plays produced in his hometown of Virginia, and Washington DC. Yao would like to give all thanks to his parents, Teresa (Tess) Akosua Dogbe and Samuel Korsi Dogbe.
Sean was last seen at Northlight as Kolenkhov in You Can’t Take It With You. Other credits include Miss Trunchbull in Matilda (Drury Lane); Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf, The Diary of Anne Frank, Hedda Gabler, The Real Thing, Travels with my Aunt (Writers); Book of Joseph, King Charles III (Chicago Shakespeare); 2666, Measure for Measure (Goodman); and work at Court; Timeline; Marriott; Remy Bumppo; About Face; Peninsula Players, WI; Intiman Theatre, WA; Old Globe Theatre, CA; and The Duke on 42nd, NY. TV/Film: Fargo (FX); Chicago PD, Chicago Med (NBC); and The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton. Sean has received eight Joseph Jefferson nominations and an After Dark Award. Next: Talley’s Folly at Theatre at the Center.
Mildred is super excited to be back at Northlight, where she was last seen in Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas. Other credits include Gunshot Medley: Part 1 (CAB/Rogue Machine Theatre, Ovation Nomination, Lead Actress); Native Son (Antaeus Theatre Company/Kirk Douglas Theatre, 2019 Block Party); Domesticated, Animal Farm, Venus, The Crucible (Steppenwolf); The Royale (American Theater Company, BTAA Best Featured Actress); Luck of the Irish (Next Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun (Milwaukee Rep/Timeline); My Kind of Town, In Darfur (Timeline); Failure: A Love Story (Victory Gardens). TV/Film: Dimensional Shift, Magic Funhouse, Chicago Med, Masters of Sex, Boss, Dignity, Grow Up, Your Beautiful Baby, Concrete Rose, and Analysis Paralysis. Thank you, always, to my family and friends for your constant love and support. Proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
Tasia is a professional director, actor, and theatre educator. Her most recent directing credits include Small Mouth Sounds (UCCS Presents/Theatreworks), Voyeurs de Venus (Northwestern University), The MLK Project (Writers), Seussical the Musical (Jean’s Playhouse), and No Child (Northwestern University). Upcoming productions include White (Definition Theatre Company/ Steppenwolf Lookout) and In the Blood (Purdue University). She has appeared in such works as The Inside (Pegasus Theatre), Saturday Night/Sunday Morning (The Lyric Stage Company), and The Bluest Eye (Company One). She holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University and pursued her MFA in Directing at Northwestern University. She is also an artistic associate for Black Lives Black Words International Project and the current Artistic Fellow at Northlight Theatre.
Recent: Opera adaptation of Intimate Apparel (LCT), Floyd’s (Guthrie), The Secret Life of Bees Musical (Atlantic). Upcoming: MJ (Broadway). Plays include Mlima’s Tale, Sweat (Pulitzer Prize, Obie, Evening Standard Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lilly Award); Ruined (Pulitzer Prize, Obie, Lortel, NY Drama Critics’ Circle, AUDELCO, Drama Desk and OCC awards); Intimate Apparel (American Theatre Critics and NYDCC awards). TV: Writer/producer She’s Gotta Have It (Netflix). PEN/Laura Pels Master Dramatist Award, Doris Duke Artist Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, a Guggenheim Grant, Lucille Lortel Fellowship, Associate Professor at Columbia.
Scott is a Canadian-born, Chicago-based set and costume designer. His work explores how mass, shape and form react and connect with the body in space. His work has been seen at the Prague Quadrennial, The Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Theatreworks (Colorado Springs); Aboutface Theatre (Chicago); The Grand Theatre (London); The Sudbury Theatre Centre, The Watermark Theatre (Prince Edward Island); The Globe Theatre (Regina); Buddies in Bad Times, Angelwalk Theatre (Toronto); and The Winnipeg Studio Theatre. His work includes design in classical theatre, new and modern plays, musical theatre, and dance. Upcoming projects include You Are A Field (Dietrich Group Toronto), White (Definition Theatre), Catch as Catch Can (Associate Design, Steppenwolf) and Love’s Labours Lost (American Players Theatre). Scott has an MFA from Northwestern University. www.scottpennerdesign.ca
Raquel is a costume designer based in Chicago and Puerto Rico. Select credits: Small Mouth Sounds (UCCS Theatreworks); Top Girls (Remy Bumppo); A Doll’s House, A Doll’s House, Part 2 (American Players Theatre); The Flick, The Cherry Orchard, Jane Eyre, The Orange Garden, Vinegar Tom (Northwestern University); Unelectable You (National Tour-Second City); D.O.A., The Long Christmas Ride Home, Desperate Dolls (Strawdog); Coriolanus, Winter’s Tale, Cymbeline (Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre); Murder Ballad, Princess Mary Demands Your Attention, CARRIE: The Musical (Bailiwick Chicago); Angry Fags (Steppenwolf Garage); The Submission, Songs from an Unmade Bed (Pride Films and Plays); Barefoot in the Park, Crimes of the Heart, Dead Accounts (Step Up Productions); and A Number, Scenes from an Execution (Runcible Theatre).
Claire is thrilled to be designing at Northlight for the first time. Chicago credits include The Mousetrap, Radio Golf, and Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein (Court); Stick Fly, Mementos Mori (Writers); New Stages Festival 2019 (Goodman); The Brothers Size (Steppenwolf Young Adults); Grey House, The Room, The Mutilated, and Evening at the Talk House (A Red Orchid); Yen, Suddenly Last Summer (Raven); Hamlet (The Gift); Fun Harmless Warmachine (The New Colony); We’re Gonna Die, Fear and Misery in the Third Reich (Haven); Caught (Sideshow); Dada Woof Papa Hot, Bull in a China Shop (About Face); and Winning Works (2017-2019; Joffrey Ballet’s Joffrey Academy). In her spare time, Claire is a facilitator with the ABLE ensemble (Artists Breaking Limits and Expectations). clairechrzandesigns.com
Jeffrey makes his Northlight debut. Select Chicago credits: Photograph 51 (Court); The Brothers Size (Steppenwolf); Tiny Beautiful Things (Victory Gardens); Small Mouth Sounds, Grey House (A Red Orchid); First Love is the Revolution, Hookman (Steep); Pillowman (The Gift); KISS (Haven); and The Hairy Ape (Oracle Theatre, Jeff Award). Regional: Scapino (Gulfshore Playhouse); To Kill A Mockingbird (Hope Summer Repertory); The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Children’s Theater of Madison). Upcoming: The Great Leap (Asolo Repertory), A Skull In Connemara (Remmy Bumpo). Mr. Levin is the recipient of the Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists, one Joseph Jefferson Award, and ten nominations. MM in Music Composition, DePaul University; and BMus in Music Composition, Columbia College Chicago. www.jeffreylevinmusic.com
Production Stage Manager
Katie is pleased to return to Northlight after serving as Production Stage Manager on The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley and Landladies and Assistant Stage Manager on You Can’t Take It With You. Recent credits include Into the Woods (Writers); Hamilton: An American Musical (Chicago, Sub); Sorin: A Notre Dame Story (National Tour); If I Forget, Indecent, Lettie (Victory Gardens); The Realistic Joneses (Theater Wit & Shattered Globe); Southern Gothic (Windy City Playhouse); and Mother and Me (Geva Theater Center, Rochester, NY). She was resident production stage manager at American Theater Company from 2008-2018 where highlights included the world premieres of Disgraced (Pulitzer Prize), The Project(s), and columbinus (Chicago and ArtsEmerson, Boston). She is on the faculty at Loyola University Chicago and is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.
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