National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere
In 1902 Albert and Mileva Einstein had a baby daughter. After 1904 she was never seen or spoken of again. Forty years later, a reporter interviews Einstein about this mysterious piece of his past, revealing shocking secrets about his family and his personal life. While the reporter questions Einstein on his theory of relativity and his decisions, she also poses a query of her own: to be a great man, does one first need to be a good man?
The author of Freud’s Last Session and Becoming Dr. Ruth showcases his signature blend of insight, intellect, humor and heart in this fictional account of a legendary figure.
by Hedy Weiss
May 21, 2017
Nature, nurture and ‘Relativity’ drive a new play about Einstein
“Relativity,” Mark St. Germain’s new play about a largely opaque chapter in the life of the thought-altering physicist Albert Einstein, is an exercise in dramatic speculation.
The principal reason to see this Northlight Theatre production is to watch Mike Nussbaum, the 93-year-old actor who might easily be dubbed the eighth wonder of the modern world, work his magic as the complicated, ornery, sardonic and all too human genius whose celebrity surely became something of a curse in his later years.
“Relativity” is a tightly structured, information-packed 80 minutes, full of all the essential arguments, and while it feels more than a little artificially constructed, the actors, under the airtight direction of Northlight artistic director BJ Jones, bring total commitment to their portrayals. With his uncanny resemblance to Einstein — from the shock of thick white hair, baggy pants and sweater, and spot-on accent, to the engaging quizzical grin, the air of impatience and pride, and the hint of inner sadness — Nussbaum captures both the braininess and volatility of the man. Whitney, in a terrifically droll turn, is a model of loyalty, tough love and paranoia. And Keberlein is relentless as the aggrieved daughter in search of the love of a father who was in love with ideas.
by Chris Jones
May 21, 2017
At Northlight, Mike Nussbaum is as unique as Einstein
Albert Einstein is an ideal role for Mike Nussbaum, the new show, “Relativity,” at the Northlight Theatre reveals.
I speak not merely of the fusion of extraordinary mental capability, although I swear it is merely our familiarity with Nussbaum, America’s oldest active union actor and the comforting sweater of the Chicago theater, that prevents adequate appreciation of what this 93-year-old actor still can do, night after night.
I’ve seen Nussbaum perform a dramatic text richly and flawlessly—not the tiniest breath of air between lines, nary a stutter nor a stumble—so many times now, it’s a quotidian experience. Which is, of course, the way no-fuss-Mike prefers it to appear. But it cannot honestly be described as such.
Watch Nussbaum in a heady, talky play like this one—a three-hander, sure, but you will not be surprised to hear that Einstein is very much at the center of the drama, yakking away for most of the 70-minute running time—and you leave shaking your head in amazement. Nussbaum, I swear, is as unique as was the man he plays.
by Barbara Vitello
May 24, 2017
*Important plot points are revealed in this review. Skip this review if you’d rather be surprised during the play*
Northlight’s Albert Einstein drama examines ‘Relativity’ in all its forms
The Northlight Theatre audience at the press opening of “Relativity” greeted Mike Nussbaum at his curtain call as Chicago-area audiences typically do, with a standing ovation.
How else would they honor Chicago theater’s elder statesman? At 93, Nussbaum — the oldest working union stage actor, according to the Actors’ Equity Association — remains a dynamic presence. And he delivers precise, thoughtfully crafted performances like the one that dominates Mark St. Germain’s brainy, hypothetical account of a little-known period in the life of Albert Einstein.
Nussbaum’s astute performance reveals the pioneering physicist — brilliant, charming, vexing, selfish and unapologetic — in all his flawed glory.
Katherine returns to Northlight where she previously appeared as one of the Pigeon sisters in The Odd Couple also directed by BJ Jones, and is thrilled to share the stage once more with Mike Nussbaum after appearing with him in Smokefall at The Goodman. Other favorite credits include A Kid Like Jake (About Face) and The Mother (Oracle Theatre, Jeff Award Principal Actress) and work with Chicago Dramatists, 16th Street Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Steppenwolf, Rivendell, Oak Park Festival, Remy Bumppo, Theatre at the Center, and two seasons with Peninsula Players. TV credits include APB, Chicago Med, Sirens, Chicago PD and Shameless.
Mike returns to Northlight where he previously appeared in Relativity, Awake and Sing!, Better Late, Grace, and Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie. Curve of Departure marks his 16th appearance with Northlight. As an actor in Chicago for more than 60 years, he was recently seen at TimeLine in Bakersfield Mist and The Price and at the Goodman in the much loved Smokefall by Noah Haidle. According to Actors’ Equity Association, he is the oldest actor still working on stage.
Ann has performed at Northlight many times beginning with Quilters followed by Driving Miss Daisy for which she received the Sarah Siddons Actress of the Year Award. She also appeared in The Cripple of Inishmaan, Grey Gardens and Lost in Yonkers. Other Chicago credits include appearances at Lincolnshire Marriott, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Court, Steppenwolf (Jeff Award – Ensemble), Mercury, Northwestern University, Goodman, ATC (directed by her daughter, Sarah in Trip to Bountiful), Next, Apple Tree and Writers. Regional credits include Wit (Actors Theatre of Louisville) and Fossils (Sacramento Theatre Company) which she also performed at Victory Gardens with Julie Harris. Ann has appeared in many films such as The Fugitive, Sugar, Home Alone and While You Were Sleeping.
Mark St. Germain
Mark St. Germain’s plays include Becoming Dr. Ruth, Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah, The Best of Enemies, Camping with Henry and Tom, Ears on a Beatle, The God Committee, Out of Gas on Lover’s Leap and Dancing Lessons. His play Freud’s Last Session ran for two years Off-Broadway, closing July 24th, 2012. The play has been open in Argentina since January 2012 and in repertory in Sweden, Australia, Denmark. Television work includes Writer/Creative Consultant for The Cosby Show and Dick Wolf’s Crime and Punishment. He co-wrote director Carroll Ballard’s film Duma and produced and directed the documentary My Dog, An Unconditional Love Story, with Richard Gere, Glenn Close, Edward Albee and others. Mark also wrote the award winning children’s book Three Cups. Mark is an Associate Artist of the Barrington Stage Company, a recipient of the William Inge Festival’s New Voices Award, and a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Writer’s Guild East. He is an alumnus of New Dramatists.
BJ JONES is in his 25th season as Artistic Director of Northlight. Mr. Jones is a two-time Joseph Jefferson Award Winning actor and a three-time nominated director. He’s directed the world premieres of Charm (Jeff Award Best New Play), The Outgoing Tide (Jeff Award Best New Play), White Guy on the Bus (Jeff Nominated Best New Play), Chapatti (Nominated Jeff Award Best New Play), Better Late, and Rounding Third. Notably, he has directed productions of Outside Mullingar, Grey Gardens, The Price, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. As a producer he has guided the three world premieres of The Christmas at Pemberley Trilogy (Jeff Award Best New Play), Shining Lives, The Last Five Years, and Studs Terkel’s ‘The Good War’. Additional directorial credits include Pitmen Painters (Timeline, Jeff Award Best Production); 100 Saints You Should Know (Steppenwolf); Glengarry Glen Ross (Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, Suzi Bass nomination Best Director); The Lady with All the Answers (Cherry Lane, New York); Animal Crackers (Baltimore Center Stage); Three Musketeers, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing (Utah Shakespeare Festival), and four productions at the Galway International Arts Festival. As a performer, he has appeared at Northlight, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court, and other theatres throughout Chicago. Film/TV credits include The Fugitive, Body Double, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Early Edition, Cupid, and Turks, among others.
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
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.
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
Andrew returns to Northlight where he previously collaborated on Discord, Funnyman, Outside Mullingar, White Guy on the Bus, Tom Jones, Stella & Lou, The Outgoing Tide, She Stoops to Conquer and Mauritius. Andy is an Associate Artist at TimeLine where he has been designing since 1999. Regionally he has composed for American Players, Indiana Rep, Summer Shakespeare at Notre Dame and Montana Shakespeare in the Parks.
Stephan is a DP, photographer, documentarian and visual designer. Stephan’s projection design for Northlight includes: Faceless, Discord, Funnyman, Shining Lives, Better Late (Larry Gelbart & Craig Wright) and Three Women Talking (Arnold Wesker). Other projection design credits include: Fundamentals, Russian Transport, The Wheel, Tempest, Sonja Flew, The Cherry Orchard and Of Mice and Men, all at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. stephanmazurek.com
Production Stage Manager
Rita Vreeland has been a frequent stage manager at Northlight since 2007, with Birthday Candles marking her 42nd production here. Other favorite recent projects include Ernest Shackleton Loves Me at Porchlight Music Theatre, A Christmas Carol at Drury Lane, The Luckiest at Raven Theatre, three years of The Polar Express Train Ride, and productions at Mercury Theatre, Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, and The Galway International Arts Festival in Galway, Ireland. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to ten-year-old Charlie, and this year she celebrated her 22nd anniversary as a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Thank you for supporting live theatre!
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