Tom Jones is an amiable young rascal with a fondness for the fairer sex…and for getting into trouble. Caught succumbing to the charms of local girl Molly and the refined Sophia, poor Tom is banished by his benefactor and sets off on a whirlwind of misadventures in this new adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel, a charming tale full of timeless wit and good old-fashioned, bawdy fun.
Production photos by Michael Brosilow.
Tom Jones at Northlight Theatre | Theater review
A freewheeling, innuendo-loving new adaptation of Henry Fielding’s picaresque
TIME OUT CHICAGO
January 25, 2014
By KRIS VIRE
In Jon Jory’s fun and freewheeling new stage adaptation of Henry Fielding’s 18th-century picaresque The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, ribaldly staged by William Brown as one of the sexier shows you’re ever likely to encounter at Skokie’s Northlight Theatre, the lustful female “conquests” often seem more in charge of affairs than the good-hearted, good-timing manchild of the title.
Jory’s innuendo-loving adaptation, first produced just two months ago at Actors Theatre of Louisville, employs a blend of direct-address narration and semi-straight-faced scenes that crack the fourth wall; “in-character” performers sometimes react with disappointment to storytelling choices that cut short their chances to get busy. It’s a clever nod both to Fielding’s many writerly digressions and to the winking, camera-acknowledging tone of the Albert Finney–starring film adaptation that won the 1963 Oscar for Best Picture.
And just in case it still hasn’t disarmed you by the end, Northlight’s production tacks on the most winning curtain call in recent memory.
Tom Jones leaves in the juiciest parts
January 26, 2014
By HEDY WEISS
If, by some chance, members of this country’s pear growers’ association happen to be reading this review, they are advised to head straight to Northlight Theatre, where Tom Jones, John Jory’s stage adaptation of the Henry Fielding novel, is receiving a most delectable production.
To get straight to the core of the matter: There is a pear-eating scene in this show that might go a long way toward suggesting the fruit is one of the more potent of aphrodisiacs.
Director William Brown, a director of great style, wit and playful intelligence, has cast this production to perfection, with Sam Ashdown, a young, physically fleet actor with lean, craggy good looks, immense grace, and the easy command of language by way of extensive work in Shakespeare, proving himself a marvelous Tom Jones … Ashdown has been surrounded by a bevy of beautiful, gifted women who play several roles apiece, and serve as a most varied assortment of erotic bait.
Light-hearted Tom Jones an ode to joy of sex
January 28, 2014
By CATEY SULLIVAN
Bawdy, funny and sexually celebratory, Northlight Theatre’s staging of Tom Jones is welcome blast of heat in the frigid midwinter.
Adapted by Jon Jory from Henry Fielding’s massive 18-volume, 18th century romance, Tom Jones tells a delicious tale of heaving bosoms and unbuttoned trousers as it follows the escapades of a chick magnet in the Era of Enlightenment.
Directed with a clever hand by William Brown, Tom Jones is a lively roll in the hay that’s deeply sensual but never smutty.
Tom Jones is also the rare sex farce wherein the women give as good as they get. The conquests are reciprocal, the characters fully fleshed out in both mind and body.
Yet for all the sexual scrapes and amorous escapades that our fair-haired hero indulges in, Tom Jones — both the play and the character — maintains a delightful core of innocence.
Tom Jones, endearing cocksman
Northlight Theatre rollicks mightily with a stage version of Henry Fieldings’s classic novel
January 29, 2014
By TONY ADLER
He’s just a boy who can’t say no. And why should he, with so many desirable women anxious to offer him what’s quaintly referred to as their charms? Tom Jones is one of those magical young men whose very passivity is a turn-on. Handsome, earnest, well-mannered, self-effacing, doggedly honorable, puppyishly sweet, oddly innocent, and totally buff, he incites maternal feelings as a prelude to something steamier.
Henry Fielding’s 1749 coming-of-age novel is at once comic, racy, and moralistic. Jory’s 2012 script pretty much dispenses with the morals, quoting the Bible only in the most subversive way (Ezekiel 23:19—look it up). There are moments of darkness that might accommodate a somber approach. But director William Brown maintains a steely resolve to ignore them. His Northlight Theatre staging is swift even at nearly two and a half hours, very funny, and—let’s face it—rollicking.
Northlight’s rollicking Tom Jones offers many delights
January 31, 2014
By BARBARA VITELLO
Watching Northlight Theatre’s fabulous Chicago-area premiere of Tom Jones opening weekend, I had a hard time deciding who was having a better time: the audience or the actors.
The laughter from the house pointed to the audience, who likely found director William Brown’s sexy, high-spirited romp the remedy for a midwinter malaise. Then again, Brown’s first-rate ensemble appeared to be having the time of their professional lives.
Either way, it’s a win-win scenario. And it’s not surprising, what with Brown’s canny direction and Jon Jory’s merry adaptation of the 1749 Henry Fielding novel chronicling a young man’s erotic escapades.
From the droll dialogue to the lovely set to the splendid performances, this production’s delights are plentiful. And they continue even after the curtain comes down.
It’s not unusual for audience members to scurry for the exit the minute the play ends. Resist the urge and stick around for the curtain call.
You’ll be glad you did.
Honor and lust take center stage in Northlight’s Tom Jones
January 15, 2014
By CATEY SULLIVAN
Meet Tom Jones, amorous adventurer and star of novelist Henry Fielding’s saga of “good, clean lustiness.”
“Good Lord, I can’t even tell you how much this character influenced my life,” says director William Brown, who is helming Jon Jory’s adaptation of Tom Jones for Skokie’s Northlight Theatre. “I read it in somewhere in the early 1970s — it just made sex look like such fun.”
Part coming-of-age adventure epic and part social commentary, Tom Jones is essentially the grandfather of all English novels. But don’t let the centuries-old age of Fielding’s novel put you off. So long as there are young men stumbling toward adulthood and bumbling through their attempts at seduction, Tom Jones remains utterly relevant.
“My hope,” Brown adds, “is that Tom Jones makes people remember a moment in time when sex was pure fun. When it didn’t come attached with issues of power or commerce or disease. When it was all about innocence, and spontaneity and exuberance.
“Lust,” he concludes, “gets a bad rap these days.”
The Best Dramas in Chicago Theatres in February
January 28, 2014
By CATEY SULLIVAN
Tom Jones through 2/23 Presumably Jon Jory, the play’s adapter, reined in Henry Fielding’s magnum opus (almost 350,000 words spread over 18 volumes) to a manageable length. But even if he didn’t, you should see this production because the Jeff Award winner William Brown is directing it. Samuel Ashdown leads an ensemble that features standouts Molly Glynn, Melanie Keller, and Marcus Truschinski. Read more>
Winter 2014 in theater: Top 10 critic’s picks
January 2, 2014
By CHRIS JONES
Tom Jones: This is not a live appearance by the Welsh singer with the reputation for sparking spontaneous gifts of underwear but a new adaptation by Jon Jory of the novel by Henry Fielding. Then again, Tom Jones, the adventurous 18th-century literary hero, and Tom Jones, the amorous singer, both famously have shared a weakness for beautiful women. At Northlight, the experienced director Bill Brown and handsome star Sam Ashdown are charged with embracing the period raunch and maybe snapping a few corsets along the way. Read more>
Looking ahead to 2014: Top 5 critic’s picks
January 1, 2014
By HEDY WEISS
Tom Jones: Henry Fielding’s 18th century novel, about an irresistible scamp with a weakness for women and a propensity for getting into mischief, has been adapted for the stage by Jon Jory. William Brown (To Master the Art) will direct, and even if you can’t wholly forget a young Albert Finney eating and seducing his way through the classic film version, this should be great bawdy fun. Read more>
Blifil/Ensign Northerton/Lord Fellamar
Chris makes his Northlight debut. Chicago credits include American Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare, Provision, and BoHo. Regional credits: Utah Shakespeare (including Slank in the regional premiere of Peter and the Starcatcher), and multiple seasons at Illinois Shakespeare (including Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Octave in Scapin, and Trinculo in The Tempest). He holds an MFA in Acting from the Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University, and BAs in both Music and Theatre from Oklahoma State University.
Sam is so excited to be making his Northlight debut! Chicago credits include To Master the Art (Chicago Commercial Collective, TimeLine), The Liar (Writers), and Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare). Regional credits include Troilus and Cressida, Twelfth Night, Richard III (American Players) and Much Ado about Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks). He holds a BFA from Southern Oregon University and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Next up, he will be seen in Henry V at Chicago Shakespeare.
Nora is delighted to work with Northlight and Bill Brown for the first time. Nora appeared as Belle for two seasons in Goodman’s Christmas Carol, Annie Sullivan in Miracle Worker at Indiana Rep, Lilka in The Last Act of Lilka Kadison with Lookingglass, and Maggie in Eclipse’sAfter the Fall (Jeff Nomination). Other credits include: Diary of Anne Frank (Steppenwolf), Autumn Garden(Jeff Nomination, Eclipse), Harper Regan (Steep), The Hostage (Griffin), Short Shakespeare! Romeo & Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare), The Voysey Inheritance (Remy Bumppo), Precious Little (About Face). Nora toured with Silk Road Rising’s DNA Trail and appeared on Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC). She also writes, directs, and performs in the web series Matching Pursuit. Nora is a graduate of NYU Tisch and The School at Steppenwolf.
Molly appeared at Northlight in Tom Jones,The Odd Couple and Permanent Collection. Credits include: Middletown, Orange Flower Water, Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Steppenwolf); The Uneasy Chair (Writers); Maple and Vine, The Boarding House (Next); Kate in Short Shakes! The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare); Unnecessary Farce, The Comedy of Errors (First Folio); Love and Drowning (16th Street); Heritage, Strictly Dishonorable (American Blues Theatre); That Was Then, And Neither Have I Wings to Fly (Seanachai); Homecoming 1972 (Chicago Dramatists); Suburban Motel, Hellcab (Famous Door); and work at The Goodman, Remy Bumppo, Apple Tree, and Peninsula Players. TV/Film: Chicago Fire (NBC), Boss (Starz), Early Edition (CBS), Something Better Somewhere Else, No Sleep ’til Madison.
Jenny Jones/Nurse/Mrs. Waters/Maid
Melanie is delighted to return to Northlight, having previously appeared in A Life. Most recently, she was at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival where she played Viola in Twelfth Night and Kate in She Stoops to Conquer. She is an artistic associate with First Folio where her credits include The Merchant of Venice, The Turn of the Screw, Design for Living, Angel Street, Private Lives, and The Importance of Being Earnest. Melanie is also a member of Signal Ensemble Theatre and is the winner a Jeff Award for Best Actress in a Principal Role for East of Berlin and The Russian Play. Other Signal credits include The Weir (Jeff Nomination-Best Supporting Actress) and Much Ado about Nothing. Other theatres include Peninsula Players, Chicago Shakespeare, and Next. She was the 2007-2008 Chicago Associates Fellow at the Stratford Festival of Canada.
John returns to Northlight having previously appeared in Lady Windermere’s Fan, Red Herring, Inherit The Wind, and She Stoops To Conquer. Other Chicago credits include: Show Boat (Lyric Opera); The Crucible (Steppenwolf); Guys and Dolls (Marriott Lincolnshire); six seasons of A Christmas Carol (Goodman); Yellow Moon, Heartbreak House, As You Like It, and as a replacement in The Liar and Hamlet (Writers); Northanger Abbey (Remy Bumppo), and more than a dozen productions with Chicago Shakespeare. Regional credits include productions with American Players, Indiana Rep, Peninsula Players, Notre Dame Shakespeare, and The International Mystery Writer’s Festival. Film and Television credits include: Public Enemies (Universal), Prison Break (FOX), and The Beast (A&E).
Miss Bridget/Miss Western/Mrs. Fitzpatrick
Cristina is awfully happy to be in her first production with Northlight. She makes her home in Chicago with the very wonderful Eric Parks and holds a BFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Recent credits include Hamlet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Too Many Husbands, Twelfth Night, Richard III, and Troilus and Cressida at American Players; Educating Rita at Renaissance Theaterworks; Fallen Angels at Indiana Rep; The Merchant of Venice at Notre Dame Shakespeare; Twelfth Night at Chicago Shakespeare; Mirandolina, Seascape, and Laughing Stock at Milwaukee Rep; and five lovely seasons with Riverside Theatre Shakespeare Festival in Iowa City.
Thwackum/Mr. Fitzpatrick/Tom's Servant/Hangman
Eric is delighted to be performing for the first time at Northlight. He lives in Chicago with his lovely wife Cristina Panfilio. He has worked in Chicago with Writers, Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, and Drury Lane-Oakbrook. Regionally he has worked with American Players, Indiana Rep, Milwaukee Rep, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, and Utah Shakespeare Festival. Eric holds a BFA from Pacific Lutheran University and an MFA from University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.
Squire Allworthy/Black George/Maclachlan
Marcus is in his first show at Northlight. He has been seen in the Chicago area as Orlando in As You Like It and Rat in Old Glory, both at Writers. Marcus is a Core Company member at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, where his favorite roles over the past ten seasons include: Chris Keller in All My Sons, Jim O’Connor in Glass Menagerie, Tony in the Royal Family, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antipholous of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors, and Ben Hubbard in Another Part of the Forest. He has been seen regionally at Great River Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, and Next Act Theatre.
William returns to Northlight where he has directed Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Chalk Garden, and his own adaptation with music of She Stoops to Conquer. At Writers Theatre he has directed The Liar (Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Director), A Little Night Music, Heartbreak House, As You Like It, Another Part of the Forest, Arms and the Man, Our Town, Rocket to the Moon, Misalliance, The Glass Menagerie, and Incident at Vichy as well as the world premieres of Brett Neveu’s Old Glory and Do the Hustle. He directed and wrote (with Doug Frew) To Master the Art for TimeLine Theatre, which was remounted this fall at the Broadway Playhouse. Also at TimeLine, he most recently directed the world premiere of Wasteland by Susan Felder. He directed Skylight at Court Theatre and Fallen Angels at Indiana Rep. He has directed 14 productions at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, including All My Sons, Troilus and Cressida, The Critic, Hay Fever, The Comedy of Errors, Night of the Iguana, and The Matchmaker. Brown received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Henry Kissinger in Writers Theatre’s Nixon’s Nixon. He also received a 2010 Spirit of Diversity Award from Actors’ Equity.
Jeffrey D. Kmiec
Jeffrey is an award-winning Chicago-based Theatrical Production Designer and Art Director. His designs have been seen at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Lyric Opera, Paramount Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Timeline Theatre, American Players Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Porchlight, Raven Theatre, The Artistic Home, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Heritage Theatre Festival, and The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. He received three consecutive Equity Jeff Awards for his designs on The Little Mermaid at the Paramount Theatre (2017), Deathtrap at Drury Lane Theatre (2016), and Les Miserable at The Paramount Theatre (Co-Design with Kevin Depinet in 2015). Jeffrey received his MFA from the University of Virginia, BA from Illinois State University, and is a member of USA 829.
Carolyn is an accomplished costume designer and draper, working with companies including Chicago Shakespeare, Lyric Opera, Goodman, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Lookinglass. She has also had the pleasure of collaborating with co-designer Rachel Healy on numerous projects for Writers. Carolyn has taught theatrical and costume design at Columbia College Chicago and visual arts programs at the Old Town School of Folk Music. She holds a BFA in Costume Design from DePaul University.
Rachel Anne Healy
Rachel returns to Northlight with Tom Jones. Previous Northlight credits include: The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Lady Windermere’s Fan, She Stoops to Conquer, The Chalk Garden, The Miser, Rounding Third, Tuesdays with Morrie, A Skull in Conemarra, and The Gamester. Additional Chicago credits include: Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Writers, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Court, Drury Lane, TimeLine, Next, and Remy Bumppo. Regionally, she has designed with Alliance, Milwaukee Rep, First Stage Childrens’ Theatre of Milwaukee, Indiana Repertory, Arizona Theatre Co., American Players, and Long Wharf. Recent productions including Ms. Healy’s designs are Steppenwolf’s Tribes and Indiana Repertory’s Who Am I This Time? Ms. Healy is a Professor of Design at Loyola University.
Sarah is pleased to be working on her eighth design with Northlight after Miss Bennet, The City of Conversation, Discord, Butler, The Commons of Pensacola, Tom Jones and Black Pearl Sings!. Recent Chicago credits include Vietgone, The Scene, Doubt: A Parable, The Diary of Anne Frank (Writers); Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth (Lookingglass); Straight White Men (Steppenwolf); Moby Dick (Blair Thomas & Co.); Cocked, The Who and the What, Samsara (Victory Gardens). Other recent credits include Crossing Mnisose and Sense and Sensibility (Portland Center Stage); The Cake (Asolo Rep); and As You Like It (Guthrie Theater). Ms. Hughey has received a Jeff Award (Scorched, Silk Road Rising), and the Maggio Emerging Designer Award. She holds an MFA from Northwestern University.
Original Music & Sound Design
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.
Rich is thrilled to be at Northlight for the first time. Recent fight directing credits include The Liar at Writers and Plainsong and This is War with Signal Ensemble. Past fight credits include TimeLine, City Lit, Promethean Theatre Ensemble, Festival 56, CPS Shakespeare, North Country Center for the Arts, and others. Tyler holds a BA in Acting from Plymouth State University.
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!
Jon Jory was the producing director at Actors Theatre of Louisville from 1969 until 2000 and was the founding artistic director of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. Jory has directed widely in America and abroad. Jory is the author of four books on acting and directing. The most recent, Teaching the Actor Craft, was published in July. His adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels have been produced across America and in eleven other nations, most recently South Korea. He has been inducted into New York’s Theatre Hall of Fame. Jory teaches at Santa Fe University of Art and Design.