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At the Goodman Theatre, Leonard Bernstein’s musical ‘Wonderful Town’ starts busy season

Submitted by on Aug 24, 2016 – 3:04 pm

Goodman's season opens with 'Wonderful Town' starring Lauren Molina and Bri Sudia.
Season Preview: The following is adapted from a news release submitted by an arts organization to Chicago On the Aisle.
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LAUREN MOLINA AND BRI SUDIA STAR AS TWO SISTERS LEAVING OHIO IN 1935 TO CONQUER NEW YORK CITY IN BERNSTEIN’s “WONDERFUL TOWN.” HERE’S THE COMPLETE LINE-UP OF THE GOODMAN THEATRE’s 2016-17 SEASON AS ROBERT FALLS MARKS 30 YEARS AS THE COMPANY’S ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
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FALLS CONTINUES HIS CAREER-LONG EXPLORATION OF THE GREAT AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHT EUGENE O’NEILL, DIRECTING THE COMEDY “AH, WILDERNESS!” FALLS ALSO DIRECTS ANNIE BAKER’S ADAPTATION OF CHEKHOV’S “UNCLE VANYA” IN ITS CHICAGO PREMIERE; MANY NEW WORKS ARE PLANNED

Robert FallsArtistic Director Robert Falls announced the 2016/2017 Season — his 30th year as the creative force behind the 92-year old not-for-profit Goodman Theatre. For the first time, Falls expands the Goodman’s subscription season from eight to nine diverse works that embody the Goodman’s values, ambitions and artistic priorities over the past three decades: new plays, large-scale musicals, reimagined classics and Goodman commissions.

The 2016/2017 Season begins in September 2016 and includes plays on both of the Goodman’s stages: the larger 856-seat Albert Theatre and 350-seat intimate black box, the Owen Theatre. Subscription series and individual tickets are on sale now at GoodmanTheatre.org.

In addition to the nine plays offered on subscription, three annual non-subscription events take the stage: the New Stages festival of new plays and two holiday offerings — “A Christmas Carol” featuring Larry Yando as Scrooge and The Second City’s “Twist Your Dickens.”

Here is Falls on the rest of Goodman’s main stage line-up: 

Leonard Bernstein composed the musical 'Wonderful Town,' which opens the Goodman's 2016-17 season“We’ll open the season on a high note in the Albert Theatre, with Manilow Resident Director Mary Zimmerman’s major revival of ‘Wonderful Town’ — Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s song-and-dance-filled ode to New York City. It’s occasion to celebrate the work of Leonard Bernstein, in anticipation of his centennial in 2017.”

A whimsical love letter to Manhattan, “Wonderful Town” stars Bri Sudia and Lauren Molina as two sisters — one an aspiring journalist, the other a bombshell actress — leaving Ohio in 1935 determined to conquer New York City. Roughing it at first in a dingy basement apartment isn’t quite how sisters Ruth and Eileen imagined living, but they can’t resist the city’s bustling energy. Chock-full of Berstein’s swinging show tunes and spectacular choreography, “Wonderful Town” captures as no other musical the thrill of chasing one’s dreams.

Falls described the second show in the Albert — “Gloria” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins — as “one of the most exciting plays to premiere off-Broadway last year. Branden wished to continue work on his bitingly comic new play about contemporary workplace issues and more, and we are pleased to welcome him to the Goodman.” The New York Times described “Gloria” as a “whip-smart satire of fear and loathing” among the ruthlessly competitive cubicle workers at a struggling Manhattan entertainment magazine.

Goodman Theatre 400Here’s the complete Albert Theatre schedule:

“Wonderful Town”
Music by Leonard Bernstein; Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; Book by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov
Directed by Mary Zimmerman in the Albert Theatre, September 10 – October 16, 2016

“A Christmas Carol” (39th Annual production)
By Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, starring Larry Yando as Ebenezer Scrooge
Directed by Henry Wishcamper and  in the Albert Theatre, November 19 – December 31, 2016

“Gloria”
By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a Chicago premiere directed by Evan Cabnet
In the Albert Theatre, January 14 – February 19, 2017

“Destiny of Desire”
By Karen Zacarías, first introduced at the Arena stage last season, a Chicago premiere
Directed by José Luis Valenzuela in the Albert Theatre, March 11 – April 16, 2017

Karen Zacarías brings the seductive power of Latin American telenovelas (think Spanish TV soaps) to the result of a stormy night in a Mexican hospital, when two baby girls are born ― one into a life of privilege, the other to an impoverished family ― and deliberately swapped. This production, in association with Orange County’s South Coast Rep, will debut on the West Coast in October.

“Objects in the Mirror”
By Charles Smith, a world premiere
Directed by Goodman resident director Chuck Smith in the Albert Theatre, April 29 – June 4, 2017

This work about the refugee and immigrant experience was developed in Goodman’s New Stages play incubation program last year, where it was well received by audiences. It’s an account of an African refugee’s attempt to find peace by exposing a potentially dangerous, lifelong secret. It was inspired by the writer’s friendship with a Liberian refugee who became an acclaimed actor.

“Ah, Wilderness!”
By Eugene O’Neill
Directed by Goodman artistic director Robert Falls in the Albert Theatre, June 17 – July 23, 2017

Following his critically lauded production of Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh,” Robert Falls takes on the legendary playwright’s sweeping, heartfelt salute to youthful indiscretion and small town life. For the shy and scholarly Richard Miller, fireworks aren’t the only flames burning on Fourth of July — this 16- year-old has started going steady with his beautiful neighbor Muriel. Her father, however, disapproves and Richard embarks on an evening of hilarious and unexpected rebellion.

Here’s the complete Owen Theatre schedule:

New Stages
A Festival of New American Plays in the Owen Theatre, Sept.21-Oct. 9
All workshopped and stage readings are FREE. (Reserve tickets at http://www.goodmantheatre.org/newstagesfestival)

New Stages is a cornerstone of the Goodman’s efforts to develop new American plays; more than one third of the 72 plays developed received a world premiere production at the Goodman or another leading U.S. theater, and nearly half (49%) were authored by playwrights of color and 43% authored by female playwrights. The season includes some of the hottest emerging voices of the American theater. “We are undeniably living in a ‘Golden Age’ of playwriting; not since the 1970s and 1980s have so many bold, extraordinary new voices emerged at once,” said Falls.

“The Magic Play”
By Andrew Hinderaker, a world premiere co-commission with New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company
Directed by Halena Kays in the Owen Theatre, October 21 – November 20, 2016

A good magician is always in control of his show. The rest of his life can be as fragile as a house of cards. When a rising young magician takes the stage just hours after his lover has left him, his performance begins to unravel. Critically acclaimed magician, illusion designer and actor Brett Schneider stars in this mind-blowing spectacle. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

The Second City’s “Twist Your Dickens”
By Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort, former writers for The Colbert Report
In the Owen Theatre December 1 – 31, 2016

Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and three ridiculous ghosts star in a wicked parody run rampant. Add in Second City’s trademark improvisation and it makes for a heaping host of holiday hilarity for all.

“Uncle Vanya”
By Anton Chekhov, adapted by Annie Baker in a Chicago premiere
Directed by Robert Falls in the Owen Theatre, February 11 – March 12, 2017

Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker (“The Flick,” “Circle Mirror Transformation”) adapted Chekhov’s masterpiece, which first played at Soho Rept in 2012 and was considered funky, fresh, and one of the summer’s hot tickets. Falls, who conceived a greatly acclaimed production of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” at the Goodman in 2010, will direct.

“King of the Yees”
By Lauren Yee, a world premiere Goodman commission
Directed by Joshua Kahan Brody in the Owen Theatre, March 31 – April 30, 2017

Exploring the vivid history of America’s largest Chinatown through the eyes of a new generation, Lauren Yee’s “King of the Yees” was first developed as part of Goodman’s New Stages program. It’s an offbeat joy ride about living in the contemporary world while honoring one’s rich ancestral heritage. The show is co-produced by Center Theatre Group, which will present it in Los Angeles after the Goodman premiere.

“Lady in Denmark”
By Dael Orlandersmith, a world premiere Goodman commission
Directed by Chay Yew in the Owen Theatre, May 19 – June 18, 2017

Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith delivers a stirring ode to “Lady Day,”  Billie Holiday. This one-woman show follows Helene, a Danish American woman who finds solace in Holiday’s hauntingly beautiful music in the wake of her husband’s death.

Visit the Goodman at GoodmanTheatre.org, and on Twitter (@GoodmanTheatre).

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