In the play by Larry Gelbart and Craig Wright, the characters are reluctant roommates: Julian (played by Nussbaum) is forced to move in with his ex-wife (played by Linda Kimbrough) and her new husband (Mahoney) in order to recuperate from a sudden illness.
According to Northlight, "As Better Late opens, with each passing day, the awkward situation spirals further and further out of control. As the laughter builds, the question becomes: how long will Julian have to stay? This bitingly funny December-December-December romance is a not-to-be-missed new comedy."
Steve Key is also featured in the cast. Previews began March 28.
Northlight artistic director BJ Jones directs. The Northlight commission continues to May 11.
* Better Late marks co-author Craig Wright's third production at Northlight Theatre after Grace and Lady. Wright's play Recent Tragic Events has been seen Off-Broadway and around the country. He has written for the hit television series "Six Feet Under" and "Brothers & Sisters," and is the creator and executive producer of ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money."
Gelbart is the Emmy Award- and Tony Award-winning mind behind TV's "M*A*S*H" and Broadway's City of Angels, Sly Fox and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
"Gelbart and Wright — two writers at each end of the age spectrum — have blended their perspectives, artfully revealing the rashness of youthful choices and the challenges of living with the consequence," according to Northlight.
Mahoney is a Chicago-bred star widely known for playing Martin Crane on TV's "Frasier." He returned to Broadway after a 20-year hiatus in 2007 in the Roundabout Theatre's revival of Prelude to a Kiss. He has been a member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company since 1979, and has appeared in nearly 30 plays there, including recent productions of The Dresser and I Never Sang for My Father. He appeared in The Drawer Boy at Steppenwolf, a role he reprised at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, as well as the Paper Mill Playhouse. He won the Tony Award for House of Blue Leaves.
Chicago star Nussbaum has appeared in or directed many plays at Northlight. Recently he played Hamm in Endgame and Donny in Mamet's American Buffalo at the American Theater Company, Shelley Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross at The Steppenwolf, and John of Gaunt in Richard II for Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Nussbaum and Key appeared in Northlight's production of Wright's Grace.
The designers are Jack Magaw (scenic), JR Lederle (lighting), Rachel Laritz (costume), Rob Milburn & Michael Bodeen (original music and sound). Laura D. Glenn is the stage manager.
"Last December here at Northlight, over 300 people enjoyed the first public reading of Better Late," artistic director Jones stated. "It was such an entertaining and comically bittersweet evening, and the reading itself was only half the fun. When we reached the discussion portion of the event, these gifted writers offered personal stories and shared their vision of the play. Their inspirations are as comic and touching as the play they crafted together."
He added, "Throughout its evolution, the play's themes have continued to emerge, along with the humor that its story-line provides. Better Late in many ways is a fable of forgiveness: most of us never work up the courage to seize the moments in which amends can be offered and accepted, and the infraction healed."
Tickets for Better Late range in price from $35-$55 and are available by phone at (847) 673-6300 or online at www.northlight.org.
Northlight is at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, in Skokie.