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Northlight Theatre presents ''A Civil War Christmas''

November 18, 2010 10:05:34 AM PST
Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, presents the uplifting holiday musical A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration by Paula Vogel, directed by Henry Godinez with musical direction by Chuck Larkin.

The show runs November 11 to December 19, 2010, at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie. The press opening is Saturday, November 20, 2010.

On Christmas Eve in 1864, a fugitive from slavery and her young daughter have become separated in unfamiliar Washington, DC. As the desperate mother searches the snowy streets for her child and Mary Todd Lincoln searches for the perfect Christmas tree for the White House, familiar faces from our nation's history cross paths and storylines in this uplifting epic filled with traditional music and themes of family, reconciliation and communal hope.

"Paula Vogel, one of America's Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights, has never shied from difficult topics, huge themes or deeply felt emotional responses. Her work is brave and unstinting, compassionate and heartfelt," says BJ Jones. "In such challenging times, with our nation so polarized politically, we need to find strength and hope in our system and in ourselves. I can't think of a timelier Holiday offering than A Civil War Christmas to instill a sense of community strength and spiritual uplift."

The play, directed by Henry Godinez, features Tony-nominee Felicia P. Fields (The Color Purple) who returns to Northlight after the spring 2010 production of Low Down Dirty Blues and sixteen-time Jeff nominee Paula Scrofano (The Drowsy Chaperone, Fiddler on the Roof at Marriott). The cast also includes Will Clinger (WTTW's Wild Chicago), Derek Hasenstab (The Lion King Broadway national tour), David Girolmo (1997 Broadway revival of Candide, Kiss Me Kate at Drury Lane Oakbrook), Kevin Douglas (Lookingglass Alice at Lookingglass and national tour), Alex Goodrich (The Emperor's New Clothes at Chicago Shakespeare), Khori Faison (Lookingglass' Hephaestus), James Earl Jones II (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Drury Lane Water Tower), Mildred Marie Langford (The Twins Would Like to Say at Dog + Pony Theatre), Bethany Jorgenson (A Christmas Carol at the Goodman) and Samuel Roberson.

Northwestern University students in the ensemble include: Allie Bodsky, Gil Ghitis, Matt Kuyawa, and Kara Weisenstein. The children's ensemble includes: Matt Chapelle (Evanston), Kelsey McDonald (Northbrook), Patrick Weber (Chicago), Maggie Wolf (Evanston), Gaby Godinez (Evanston), Elijah Griffin (Evanston), Natalie Miller (Wilmette), and Kevin Woodrow (Wilmette).

The designers are Tom Burch (set), Theresa Ham (costumes), John Culbert (lights), Victoria DeIorio (sound) and Dan Katz (props). Katie Spelman is the assistant director, Rita Vreeland is the stage manager and Kimberly McAnn is the assistant stage manager.

Paula Vogel (Playwright), playwright, screenwriter and professor, has headed Brown's Playwriting Workshop since 1985. Her play The Baltimore Waltz premiered at New York's Circle Repertory Company, directed by Anne Bogart. It garnered the OBIE for Best Play, 1992 and was awarded the AT&T New Play Award, as well as the Joseph Calloway Award. And Baby Makes Seven was produced by New York's Circle Repertory Company in spring of 1993, directed by Calvin Skaggs. And Baby Makes Seven and The Oldest Profession have been presented at the Los Angeles Theater Center, Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska, the Hudson Guild Theatre in New York, the Boston Shakespeare Company, Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco, the Theatre Project Company in St. Louis, Company One and at other theatres in the U.S. and Canada. Desdemona was done at the Bay Street Theater Festival (also Circle Repertory Company), directed by Gloria Muzio, with Cherry Jones, J. Smith-Cameron and Fran Brill in summer 1993. Hot 'n Throbbing was be produced by Robert Brustein and the American Repertory Theater in April 1994, directed by Anne Bogart. Her many awards include the Pulitzer Prize for How I Learned to Drive. Her work has been published in The Way We Live Now, an anthology published by TCG, The Best Plays by Women 1992 and by Dramatists Play Service, Fireside Theatre and American Theatre Magazine.

Henry Godinez (Director) is the resident artistic associate at the Goodman where his directing credits include Mariela in the Desert, Millennium Mambo, Straight As A Line, the Goodman/Teatro Vista co-production of Cloud Tectonics, and A Christmas Carol from 1996-2001. He is curator of the Goodman's Latino Theatre Festival and co-founder of Teatro Vista, where he directed Broken Eggs, El Paso Blue, Journey of the Sparrows, Santos & Santos and The Crossing. Other directing credits include Esperanza Rising and A Year with Frog and Toad (Chicago Children's Theatre), Two Sisters and a Piano (Apple Tree/Teatro Vista), Anna in the Tropics (Victory Gardens), Boleros for the Disenchanted (Yale Repertory Theatre), True West (Portland Center Stage), Urban Zulu Mambo starring Regina Taylor (Signature Theatre in NYC), The Winter's Tale (Missouri Repertory Theatre), Macbeth (Oak Park Festival Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Colorado Shakespeare Festival) and several seasons of Stories on Stage for WBEZ Chicago Public Radio.

Chuck Larkin (Musical Director) previously worked at Northlight in 2003 with At Wit's End. Most recently, Chuck served as musical director for the 2010 summer season of American Folklore Theatre in Door County, Wisconsin. He has toured extensively with Franc D'Ambrosio's Broadway and cabaret artists Lee Lessack and Linda Purl. From May 2007 to January 2010, he served as associate conductor for the Chicago company of Jersey Boys. Other Chicago credits include Touchstone and Bailiwick Theatre, and countless cabaret and club venues. As a composer and lyricist, his credits include Hen Lake and Sophie's Masterpiece (Lifeline Theatre) and the award-winning River's End (Marin Theatre Company). In 2000, an evening of his music and lyrics, Keep Me In Love, was named Chicago's number 1 After Dark Cabaret Show.

Will Clinger recently played Versati in The Underpants at Artists' Ensemble in Rockford, and prior to that appeared in Romeo and Juliet and Comedy of Errors at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. Chicago area credits include Noises Off (Theatre at the Center), his one-man show Dr. Harlon's Keys to Better Living (Royal George), Measure for Measure and Hamlet! The Musical (Chicago Shakespeare), Stones in His Pockets and Fuddy Meers (Apple Tree), The Siddhartha Project and The Lurker Radio Hour (Collaboraction - Best Play, Sketchbook '08), Two for the Show (Theater Wit - After Dark Award, Best New Play), The Apple Cart and The Doctor's Dilemma (ShawChicago), Eric LaRue (A Red Orchid) and A Dublin Bloom (Irish Repertory Theater).

Kevin Douglas, making his Northlight, was most recently seen in his fifth run of Lookingglass Alice. Kevin is an Artistic Associate of Lookingglass Theatre Company and a company member of MPAACT (MA'AT Production Association of African Centered Theatre). Regional credits include appearances at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Baltimore Centerstage, Kansas City Rep and Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Kevin is also a teaching artist, writer and a sketch comedian. He is one half of the sketch duo kevINda (www.kevinda.com). He holds a B.F.A in acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Khori Faison enrolled in Northlight Theatre Academy's Summer Camp program in 2006 and was an ensemble member in the NTA production of Ghost Stories. She starred in the award-winning films My First Tooth, Desertion, Monster Love and Peer Pressure, which premiered at the 2009 Chicago International Children's Film Festival; and the upcoming film drama Alleged with Brian Dennehy. In Chicago, Khori appeared as the Narrator in the 2010 production of Hephaestus at the Goodman Theatre, directed by Heidi Stillman and Tony Hernandez.

Felicia P. Fields returns to Northlight Theatre where she was last seen in Low Down Dirty Blues (Jeff nomination). She earned a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Sofia in The Color Purple on Broadway. Her performance earned her a 2006 Theatre World Award, A Clarence Derwent Award, two Broadway.com Awards, an NAACP nomination, a Denver Post Ovation Award and she was a 2006 Drama League honoree. Felicia has received many Joseph Jefferson award nominations and has worked throughout Chicagoland, including Jammin' with Pops (Ella Fitzgerald), Hot Mikado (Katisha), Show Boat (Queenie), Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Ma Rainey), Ain't Misbehavin' (Nell/Amelia), Dreamgirls (Effie Melody White), The Amen Corner and The Rose Tattoo. Her performance in Chicago's Drury Lane production of Sophisticated Ladies earned her the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

David Girolmo has performed in forty-six of the contiguous forty-eight states, appeared on Broadway in Candide directed by Hal Prince, is a multiple Jeff nominee and a Jeff Award winner, and a veteran of more than twenty years in Chicago theatres. Previous Northlight appearance: Sideshow. Film and TV appearances include: D.O.A.P, E.R., Guiding Light and numerous commercials. He is a Councilor and proud member of Actors Equity Association and is married to actor Heidi Kettenring.

Alex Goodrich returns to Northlight where he was last seen in She Stoops to Conquer. He was most recently seen at Court Theatre in The Comedy of Errors. Other Chicago credits include: The Emperor's New Clothes, Taming of the Shrew, Aladdin, Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night's Dream and How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? (Chicago Shakespeare); Gutenberg! The Musical! (Royal George); It's A Wonderful Life (American Theater Company); The Misanthrope (Greasy Joan); and The UN Inspector (Next Theatre). He is a member of Barrel of Monkeys.

Derek Hasenstab is pleased to make his Northlight Theatre debut. Chicago credits include: Oedipus Complex (Goodman); Sunday in the Park with George, Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night's Dream, Aladdin (Chicago Shakespeare); A Streetcar Named Desire (Writers'); subUrbia, Was, Orestes, Ecstasy, Dealer's Choice, Disappeared, Phyro Giants! (Roadworks Productions); Hitting for the Cycle, Pride's Crossing (Famous Door); A Home at the End of the World, Cloud Nine (About Face -- After Dark Award); The Buddy Holly Story, A Christmas Carol, I Hate Hamlet, The Foreigner (Drury Lane Oakbrook -- After Dark Award); High Fidelity (Route 66 Theatre); Scientific Romances (Next). Regional Credits include: The Glass Menagerie (Kansas City Repertory), Metamorphoses (Mark Taper Forum). Broadway National Tour: The Lion King. Derek is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.

James Earl Jones II is making his Northlight Theatre debut. James recently sang the "Moonshine Lullaby" alongside Patti LuPone in Annie Get your Gun at Ravinia and is currently playing Charlie Brown in Snoopy the Musical! at Northbrook Children's Theater. His work has garnered Black Theatre Alliance Awards and African American Alliance Awards. Regional credits include Ragtime (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Porgy and Bess (San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Drury Lane Watertower and Mason Street Warehouse), Full Monty (Marriott), Black Nativity (Goodman/Congo Square), Dessa Rose (Apple Tree), Rigoletto (American Opera Group), and Aspects of Love, I Pagliacci, On the Town, The Gondoliers, Patience, H.M.S. Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance. Upcoming: Spamalot (Drury Lane Oakbrook) and the role of Crown in Porgy and Bess (Court Theatre). He has also done various radio and TV commercials.

Bethany Jorgensen, making her Northlight debut, has been a proud cast member of the Goodman Theatre's A Christmas Carol for the past six seasons. Other credits include Bohemian Theatre Ensemble's M. Butterfly; Our Town with Wing and Groove Theatre; Live Bait Theater's Jeff Award-winning Blind Tasting; and works with First Folio Shakespeare, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and Door Off Broadway. She has worked with Imagination Theater for 9 years, where she is the Development Coordinator and directs and performs with Senior Spotlight, an outreach program that provides drama therapy for seniors in nursing homes. A violinist since age 4, she is a registered violin teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

Mildred Marie Langford returns to Northlight Theatre where she was last seen in the Interplay Series reading of Saturday Night/Sunday Morning by Katori Hall. Her other Chicago credits include: Zulu Fits (MPAACT), War with the Newts and The Overwhelming (Next) The Twins Would Like To Say (Dog and Pony/Steppenwolf), 12 Ophelias (Trap Door), The Crucible (Steppenwolf), The Ghost of Treasure Island and The Blue House (Adventure Stage) and Professions for Women (Bailiwick Director's Festival). Mildred is a graduate of George Mason University and The School at Steppenwolf. She can be seen next in In Darfur with Timeline Theatre and Sinbad: The Untold Story with Adventure Stage in the Spring.

Samuel G. Roberson, Jr. is an actor/writer graduate of Howard University and has been seen on the stages of Congo Square, Victory Gardens, Goodman, Penumbra Theatre, The Children's Theatre Company, The Pillsbury House Theatre, Illusion Theater, Imagination Stage, Source Theatre and The Studio Theatre. He was a 2007 Jerome Many Voices Resident through the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, as well as a 2008 Cultural Community Partnership Grant recipient through the Minnesota State Arts Board. He is also President and Founder of the Make Me A Match Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the lives of patients with blood related diseases.

Paula Scrofano was last seen this fall as Muriel in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Theatre at the Center, where she has also appeared as Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly! and Mama Rose in Gypsy. Past roles include Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Mille and Lily Garland in On the Twentieth Century (Jeff Award) at Drury Lane Oakbrook; Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, Marmee in Little Women, Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, Jack's Mother in Into the Woods, Eva Peron in Evita (Sarah Siddons Award) and the title role in Victor/Victoria (Marriott); Desirée in A Little Night Music and Dot/Marie in Sunday in the Park with George (Sarah Siddons Award) at the Goodman. She has performed at Court Theatre in Hay Fever, James Joyce's 'The Dead' and Putting It Together (Jeff Award). She has also appeared at Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Royal George, Skylight Opera, the Ravinia Festival and The Kennedy Center.

Tickets for A Civil War Christmas, $35-55, are available by phone, 847.673.6300, or online at northlight.org. Young Adult tickets (25 and under) are $10 (one per person with valid ID).

The Box Office is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, in Skokie. Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. On performance days, the box office hours are extended through showtime. The Box Office is closed on Sundays, except on performance days when it is open two hours prior to showtime.

Curtain times are: Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. (November 23, 30 and December 7 only); Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (except December 1); Thursdays at 7:30pm (except November 25); Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 2:30pm (except November 13) and 8:00pm; Sundays at 2:30pm and 7:00pm (except November 21 when the show starts at 6:00pm, and December 5 and 12).

This season, Northlight introduced two new special event series in conjunction with each production and announces the return of Backstage with BJ. All events are free for subscribers and ticket holders.

Casual Friday is an informal evening of conversation and socializing for the after-work crowd. The evening includes a pre-show cash bar, mingling with artists, and a short presentation and Q and A, followed by the evening's performance at 8 p.m. Casual Friday for A Civil War Christmas will be held November 19 at 6 p.m. No reservations required.

Salon Series is a series of panel discussions led by local experts for audience members to gain deeper insight into each of the five plays-- including historical context, playwright background and influences and much more. Salon Series is held at noon prior to select Sunday matinee performances. The Salon for A Civil War Christmas will be held at 12:00 pm on December 5 with the topic: Race and Reenactment: The Civil War in American Memory. No reservations required.

Backstage with BJ is a mid-day discussion 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. Backstage with BJ for a Civil War Christmas will be held November 5 at 12 p.m. and will last approximately one hour. Reservations are required, specialevents@northlight.org or 847.679.9501 x3555.

Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.

Now in its 36th season, the organization has mounted over 165 productions, including more than 33 world premieres. Northlight has earned 145 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 28 Awards. As one of the area's premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality.

Northlight is supported in part by generous contributions from the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; ComEd, An Exelon Company; Edgerton Foundation for New American Plays Award; Ernst and Young; Harris Bank; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Kirkland and Ellis Foundation; The Lehman Family American Experience Series; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; MetLife Foundation; MakeItBetter.net; McKinsey and Company; National Endowment for the Arts; North Shore Center for the Performing Arts Foundation; Nuveen Investments; The Pauls Foundation; Sanborn Family Foundation; Dr. Scholl Foundation; Shubert Foundation; Sullivan Family Foundation; and the Theatre Communications Group.

FACTS

A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration, by Paula Vogel, directed by Henry Godinez.

Dates: Previews: November 11-19, 2010
Press openings: November 20, 2010 at 2:30pm and 8:00pm
Regular run: November 21-December 19, 2010

Schedule: Tuesdays: 7:30pm (November 23, 30 and December 7 only)
Wednesdays: 1:00pm and 7:30pm (except December 1)
Thursdays: 7:30pm (except November 25)
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 2:30pm (except November 13) and 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:30pm and 7:00pm (except November 21 when the show starts at 6:00pm, and December 5 and 12).

Location: Northlight Theatre is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.

Tickets: Previews: $35 - $50 . Regular run: $45 - $55
A limited number of "Day of" Discount tickets are available for $20 on the day of the desired performance. Available by telephone or walkup only.

Box Office: The Box Office is located at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie. 847.673.6300; www.northlight.org

Special events: Backstage with BJ: November 5 at noon. Casual Friday, November 19 at 6:30 pm. Salon Series, December 5 at noon

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel has been in residence at Northlight during the rehearsals for A Civil War Christmas.
  • Northlight previously produced Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning play How I Learned to Drive in its 1998-99 Season.
  • This is only the fourth production of A Civil War Christmas. All three previous productions were directed by Chicagoans (Jessica Thebus and Tina Landau).
  • Tony nominee Felicia P. Fields has made Northlight her artistic home since returning from the national tour of The Color Purple. At Northlight she has appeared in Low Down Dirty Blues and It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues.
  • A large component of the production is the theme of community. In this production, Northwestern students and the ensemble of children have been cast as the chorus and community in the production, giving young artists the opportunity to share the stage with some of Chicago's most highly-acclaimed actors.
  • In conjunction with A Civil War Christmas, Northlight is featuring a program called "Northlight Gives Back" in which local churches, synagogues and places of worship can register to receive a donation from Northlight for every ticket purchased by a member of their congregation. Non-profit religious institutions can sign up for this program by calling 847.679.9501 x3509

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