It’s 1942 and with the men off at war, the Oberon Play House is lacking its director and leading men. The season will be canceled… until the director’s wife rallies the troops at home for an all-female production. With the opportunity to move from the sidelines to centerstage, the women forge ahead with a spirit of collaboration, dauntless enthusiasm, and a belief in the power of art to move us forward. This surprisingly modern comedy proves that the show not only must, but will go on.
Lyrics and Video Production by Jess Godwin
Vocals by Jess Godwin, Bethany Thomas, and Amanda Wolff
Featuring Cast Members from Into the Breeches!
Photos by Liz Lauren
CHICAGO THEATRE REVIEW
by Colin Douglas
May 19, 2019
The Show Must Go On
It’s been said that War is hell. On the front, the men and women serving their country can testify to that statement. But back at home, private citizens in communities everywhere were having their own problems. Forced to tighten their belts, women were sacrificing a great deal for their men in uniform. Females, like the famous icon, Rosie the Riveter, left their homes to join the workforce. Scrap metal drives helped recycle materials necessary for making all kinds of war vehicles and weapons. The USO was established around the world to create a home away from home for GIs stationed far from their loved ones. But how did WWII affect small town social organizations, like community theatres?
Prolific playwright and Northwestern University graduate, George Brant, author of “Grounded,” “Any Other Name” and “Grizzly Mama,” has imagined such a situation. He’s written this comic drama that takes a loving, yet creative and unflinching look at what might’ve happened in a town like Evanston during the Autumn of 1942….
Brant has written a powerful, yet highly entertaining, feminist play, that addresses many of the sensitive topics of the day. Besides women’s equality, Brant includes debates about agism, racial prejudice and homophobia…
This is a charming, disarmingly entertaining play with a strong message. It’s filled with humor, history and social commentary, that’s sure to appeal, especially, to the more mature theatergoer. Jessica Thebus has brought George Brant’s play to life with with vision and vigor. In Northlight Theatre’s final production of the 2018-19 season, audiences will cheer these steadfast characters whose only goal is that show must go on.
PICKS IN SIX
by Ed Tracy
May 21, 2019
O for a Muse of Fire…
Amid the playhouse backdrops and scenery, the women rehearse under the watchful and demanding presence of Resnik’s Fielding, whose brilliant comic sensibilities are on full display. From giving new meaning to the phrase “Walk like a man” to the hilarious arc of rehearsals for the play within the play, Brandt’s characters come to life as quirky, unique and likeable.
The play also necessarily engages us in the ever-present prevailing drama of the war’s impact on those at home. With limited contact from their spouses, the contrasting dilemma Maggie and Grace share evolves into a heartfelt relationship and a touching moment for Nalepa and Munch that binds them together. Hernandez’s natural enthusiasm embodies the rallying spirit of patriotism of the time.
The contribution of women on the homefront was the tipping point for the women’s movement in the post-war years. Thebus’s fine ensemble and creative team—Arnel Sancianco’s set and costumes by Samantha C. Jones—illuminate a story that serves as much as a glimpse into the inner workings and politics of the performing-arts world as it does a telling commentary on gender equality and women’s rights, with lots of room for laughs along the way.
Mitchell J. Fain
Mitchell was born in Rhode Island and moved to Chicago to grow up. He is thrilled to be back at this beautiful theater in a wonderful new play by his dear friend George. As an actor for 30+ years, he has played three dead gay poets, one red queen, and a killer cheerleader named Pepper among many others. He did 8 years as an elf in Santaland, 10 years of Second City ships and has helped to raise nearly one million dollars as an Associate Artistic Director of Chicago’s Midnight Circus. He has directed circuses and cabarets and is part of Chicago’s storytelling community. As a faithful follower of TheTaoOfBarbra™, he can speak, and often will, with an unsolicited academic authority on any gay icon or film. See him as a recurring character on CBS’ The Red Line premiering this spring. Thanks to Christopher Robin for being the best; and as always, for Robin.
Molly is excited to be joining the Northlight team. She is currently represented by Gray Talent Group and recently graduated from the Professional Training Program at the Actors Gymnasium Circus School. Favorite credits: The Buddy Holly Story (American Blues Theater, Jeff Award), Masterclass (TimeLine), The Most Happy Fella (Theo Ubique, Jeff Nomination), Carousel (Timber Lake Playhouse). In 2017 Molly received the Award of Excellence in Professional Theatre from the Illinois Theatre Association. On television she can be seen on Chicago PD as Elisa Rodríguez and on APB as Maya Ruiz. Thanks to ITA, Kieran, Connor, Erin, mom, dad, Rosa, Jennifer, and Kevin. AMDG.
Annie is making her Northlight Theatre debut. Previous credits include Mary Page Marlowe (Steppenwolf), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (Indiana Repertory Theatre), The Wolves (TheatreSquared), The Antelope Party (Theater Wit), as well as work with Strawdog Theatre Company, Next Theatre, and Awkward Pause Theatre. Television credits include Sense8, Proven Innocent, Chicago PD, Crisis, and Underemployed. Annie is an instructor with the Actors’ Training Center in Wilmette and is a proud graduate of Northwestern University. She is represented by Stewart Talent.
Darci returns to Northlight where she was previously seen in Cry It Out. She is a proud ensemble member of The Gift Theatre where she has appeared in Cosmologies, A Swell In the Ground, A Life Extra Ordinary, and Good for Otto. Other Chicago credits include: Queen (Victory Gardens), Kill Floor (American Theatre Company), Northanger Abbey (Remy Bumppo), and The Drunken City (Steppenwolf). Darci appeared in Stephen Cone’s film Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party and is the co-creator of the upcoming web series The Force. Television credits include Patriot, Shameless and Chicago Fire. She is an Acting Teacher at The School at Steppenwolf, Black Box Acting, and The University of Chicago. Darci is represented by Gray Talent Group.
Northlight: City on the Make, The Marriage of Figaro, Enter the Guardsman, The Immigrant, Grey Gardens, You Can’t Take It With You. Chicago: The Taming of the Shrew, Follies (Chicago Shakespeare); Candide, A Little Night Music (Goodman); productions with Court, Marriott Theatre, Apollo Theater Chicago, and Ravinia Festival. Regional: The Glass Menagerie, End of the Rainbow (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); The Light in the Piazza (Arena Stage); Grey Gardens (Philadelphia Theatre Company); productions with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company. Tours: Les Misérables, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mother Superior in Sister Act. Awards: Twelve Joseph Jefferson Awards, Helen Hayes Award, two Sarah Siddons Awards, Lunt Fontaine Fellowship 2012
Penny last appeared at Northlight in You Can’t Take It With You. Other Northlight productions include Chapatti, Sense & Sensibility and A Life. Chicago credits include: Sweet Bird of Youth (Goodman); Uncle Vanya (After Dark Award), The Importance of Being Earnest, James Joyce’s “The Dead” (Court); Old Glory, Another Part of the Forest (Jeff Award), Bus Stop, The Subject Was Roses (Writers). Regional: Chapatti and The Hollow (Peninsula Players), My Fair Lady (Asolo Repertory), Sense & Sensibility (Actors Theatre of Louisville and Saint Louis Repertory). International Theatre: Chapatti and Stella & Lou (Northlight at Galway International Arts Festival, Ireland), August: Osage County (Steppenwolf at Sydney Theatre, Australia). Film: Virginia, Meet the Browns, Grace is Gone. Television: The Connie Banks Show.
Penelope is ecstatic to return to Northlight after previously appearing in Curve of Departure, Eclipsed, Gee’s Bend, and Bee Luther Hatchee. Other Chicago credits include Life Sucks, Black Diamond, The Years the Locusts Have Eaten (Lookingglass); The House That Will Not Stand, No One As Nasty (Victory Gardens); A Christmas Carol, The Story, Crowns, (Goodman); Love & Information (Remy Bumppo); We’re Gonna Be Okay, The Projects, Agnes of God, Doubt, People’s Temple (American Theatre Company); Will You Stand Up (Erasing the Distance Theatre Company); Seven Homeless Mammoths Wandering New England (Theatre Wit); Love Lies Bleeding (Steppenwolf); 10 Virgins, Voyeurs de Venus (Chicago Dramatists); The Clink (Rivendell Theatre). She created and performed her own solo show How I Jack Master Funked The Sugar in My Knee Caps. Film/Web/TV: Dubious Ruffians, Olympia, Flowers, Matching Pursuit, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice, and Boss.
Into the Breeches marks Fred’s return to the Northlight stage where he previously appeared in Dealing in 1986, 84 Charring Cross Road in 1990, and in The Gamester in 2001. In between these densely-packed engagements, he managed to squeeze in multiple roles in National Broadway Tours, Regional & Stock Companies, and in theaters across Chicagoland, including The Lyric Opera, Goodman, Court, Drury Lane Oakbrook, and over 18 productions at Chicago’s Marriott Theater. He can also be seen on several Hit NBC Series, including Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. When not onstage getting inside the heads of his characters, he’s a fixture on the Chicago Corporate & Nightclub entertainment circuit, getting inside the heads of his audience as Fred Zimmerman – The Chicago Mentalist.
George Brant’s plays recently produced in the Chicago area include Grounded (produced at American Blues Theatre, Theater of Thought, ETOPiA, and Northwestern’s Jewish Theatre Ensemble), Any Other Name (Williams Street Rep) and Grizzly Mama (Rivendell Theatre). His work here in the 90’s (gasp) included One Hand Clapping, Tights on a Wire and Night of the Mime. His plays have been produced internationally and received a Lucille Lortel Award, an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, and the Keene Prize for Literature. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and received his MFA in Writing from the Michener Center at UT-Austin. Upcoming work includes the world-premiere of The Prince of Providence at Trinity Repertory Company and an operatic version of Grounded at The Met.
Jessica is a director of theater and an educator based in Chicago. Past Northlight credits include The Book of Will, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Shining Lives: A Musical, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Inherit the Wind and Red Herring. At Steppenwolf, she has directed Sex with Strangers, Intimate Apparel, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, No Place Like Home, When the Messenger is Hot (also at 59 E 59th in NYC) and Sonia Flew. Other favorite projects: Richard III (Gift), In the Garden by Sarah Gmitter (Lookingglass), Buzzer by Tracy Scott Wilson (Goodman), Welcome Home Jenny Sutter (Next), As You Like It (Oregon Shakespeare), The Feast: an intimate Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare with Redmoon). She is Director of the Graduate Directing Program at Northwestern University.
Arnel returns to Northlight where his work was previously seen in Landladies. He has designed all around the United States and has received an Equity Jeff Nomination for Scenic Design. Credits include The All Night Strut (Milwaukee Rep); Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Raven); Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt, Empower (Lyric Unlimited); The Cake (Rivendell); Master Class, Boy (Timeline) Photograph 51,The Belle of Amherst (Court); We Are Proud to Present, The Crucible (Steppenwolf); The Wiz, Little Fish (Kokandy); Hangman, Pilgrims (The Gift); Hookman, Earthquakes in London (Steep); Peerless (First Floor); The Total Bent, The Displaced, How We Got On (Haven); You on The Moors Now (The Hypocrites); Carousel, Titanic, Rock of Ages (Timberlake Playhouse); and Xanadu (American Theatre Co.) For a more in depth look at his work visit www.ArnelDesigns.com
Samantha C Jones
Samantha returns to Northlight after designing for Skeleton Crew. A Chicago based designer, her work has been seen at Court, Lookingglass, Steppenwolf, Chicago Children’s Theatre, TimeLine, American Blues Theatre, Victory Gardens, Writers, Jackalope Theatre, Next, Congo Square Theatre and others. Regionally, she has worked with Triad Stage (Greensboro, NC), Arkansas Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Peninsula Players (Door County, WI), and more. Recently, her work was seen in Court’s production of The Belle of Amherst and can be seen currently in TimeLine’s Boy. Upcoming productions include Victory Garden’sBreach and Court’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
Northlight credits include The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Relativity, By the Water, Charm, Shining Lives, Outside Mullingar, White Guy on the Bus, Detroit ’67, The Odd Couple, Ten Chimneys, Season’s Greetings, A Life, Grey Gardens, The Retreat From Moscow, Lady, Stella & Lou, The Outgoing Tide, Better Late and Chapatti (the last four also at the Galway International Arts Festival, Ireland). Other work has been seen at Lookingglass, Victory Gardens, About Face, Remy Bumppo, Writers, Steppenwolf and Walkabout. JR designed lighting for seven years of the Steppenwolf TRAFFIC Series, and five Steppenwolf performances in Chicago’s Millennium Park. He has served as head of the Lighting Department at Steppenwolf since 1995.
Kevin is thrilled be back at Northlight where previous credits include Cry It Out, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Miss Bennet, You Can’t Take it With You, The Lady with All the Answers, and Inherit the Wind. As a composer and sound designer he has received 10 Jeff Awards (20 nominations), and is a company member with The House Theatre. Locally he has worked with Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass, Court, and many others. Regionally: The Pasadena Playhouse, The Southern Rep, Le Petite Theatre, The Seattle Rep, The Signature Theatre, The Olney Theatre Center, The Adrienne Arscht Center of Miami, and others. He is also a drummer.
Production Stage Manager
Rita is proud to be the stage manager for Into the Breeches!, her 33rd Northlight production. Other recent projects: 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 six-year-old Charlie, and has been a member of Actors’ Equity for 18 years. Thank you for supporting live theatre!
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OPEN CAPTIONING – Into the Breeches, June 8, at 2:30pm
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