Bomb-itty Writers Take on Much Ado at Chicago Shakespeare; New Season Unveiled

News   Bomb-itty Writers Take on Much Ado at Chicago Shakespeare; New Season Unveiled Chicago Shakespeare Theater artistic director Barbara Gaines and executive director Criss Henderson announced CST's 2008-09 season, to include the world premiere of a hip-hop take on Much Ado About Nothing, plus Twelfth Night, Macbeth, a solo show called Sweet William, and a South Asian-influenced Midsummer Night's Dream, among other works.

This will be CST's ninth season in its Navy Pier home in Chicago. The season begins in June 2008 and runs through June 2009.

Kicking off the season will be the world premiere of the hip-hop musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing created by GQ and JQ, the team whose past work includes the international success, The Bomb-itty of Errors.

The piece was developed in a series of workshops at Chicago Shakespeare. It "showcases a cast of rap and hip-hop MCs playing multiple roles, setting rhyme and rhythm to a DJ's tracks," according to CST. After its summer run on Navy Pier, CST will present the work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

Chicago performances will play June 25-Aug. 3, Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare.

The summer line-up also includes CST's production of the family musical Willy Wonka, based on the 1971 musical film version of Roald Dahl's classic children's novel, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," featuring music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Joe Leonardo will direct the family-friendly show, which has been seen regionally following its development at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It will play July 8-Aug. 17 at the Courtyard Theater. Also on the season:

  • CST associate artistic director Gary Griffin (Dancing in the Dark, The Color Purple) will stage Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, Sept. 6-Nov. 9 in the Courtyard Theater.
  • Chicago director Sean Graney stages a "promenade staging" of Shakespeare contemporary Christopher Marlowe's The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward II, King of England, with the Tragical Fall of Proud Mortimer. "Audience members are invited to take part in the production by moving with actors freely about the performance space, or to witness the interactive performance in seating above the action," Oct. 1-Nov. 9 Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare.
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream, part of Chicago Shakespeare's World Stage Series, "combines the astonishing skills of 23 actors, dancers, martial arts experts, musicians and street acrobats from across India and Sri Lanka, performing in eight different languages with half performed in English." Directed by Tim Supple, this Dream — commissioned by the British Council and produced over a two-year period — "is a bold, revelatory production that caused a sensation across India, and performed to sold-out houses at the Royal Shakespeare Company and London's Roundhouse." A two-week engagement will play Nov. 25-Dec. 7 at the Courtyard Theater.
  • Gaines directs Macbeth — the first production of the "Scottish Play" in her career. Returning to CST in the title role is Ben Carlson, featured classical actor at the Shaw and Stratford Shakespeare Festivals of Canada. (He was Hamlet at CST in 2006, winning a Jeff Award for it.) Performances play Dec. 31, 2008-March 8, 2009, in the Courtyard Theater.
  • Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Amanda Dehnert, introduces over 30,000 students to Shakespeare and is performed for the public on seven consecutive Saturday mornings in an interactive theatre experience. The 75-minute abridgment will play Saturdays between Jan. 24-March 7, 2009, in the Courtyard Theater.
  • The World Stage Series continues with Sweet William, Michael Pennington's "large-spirited, one-man show — an homage to Shakespeare that looks at his life and his work, side-by-side. Part biography, part analysis and part performance, Sweet William reflects on Pennington's long international experience as a leading Shakespearean actor — a career that has spanned more than 40 years, with leading roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and his own award-winning English Shakespeare Company." It will run Feb. 3-22, 2009, Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare. Additional productions in Chicago Shakespeare's World Stage Series will be announced in the coming months.

  • The 2008-09 season concludes with the Chicago debut of British director Josie Rourke, who'll stage Twelfth Night, March 29-June 7, 2009. For more information visit www.chicagoshakes.com.