Andre DeShields (Play On!) and Ross Lehman have teamed up to play the existential tramps, Didi and Gogo, in Beckett's Waiting for Godot at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, Jan. 8-Feb. 20, officially opening Jan. 18.
Besides grabbing awards for his portrayal of Jester in Play On! on Broadway and at the Goodman, DeShields created the title role in The Wiz on Broadway and recently appeared in the Coconut Grove production of Tin Pan Alley, as Scott Joplin. Lehman appeared at the Goodman in the world premiere musical, Wings - based on Arthur Kopit's play; 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Rover, and appeared on Broadway opposite Whoopi Goldberg in the recent revival of Forum.
Completing Goodman's Godot ensemble will be Keith Perez as the Boy, Lazaro Perez (Bedfellows, Chronicle of a Death Foretold) as Lucky and Tim Edward Rhoze as Pozzo.
Godot was recently declared the most important play of the century in a poll taken by Britain's Royal National Theatre, as part of its NT2000 project. The RNT surveyed more than 800 playwrights, actors, directors, theatre professionals and arts journalists to nominate ten English language plays each which, in their opinion, were the most "significant" plays of the century.
Beckett is one of the few playwrights to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is considered one of the quintessential playwrights of the twentieth century -- although, a majority of his plays have never seen on Broadway. Godot premiered in 1953 at the Theatre de Babylone in Paris. While the play's meaning confused a majority of audience members, the success of its American debut is largely attributed to Bert Lahr starring as Estragon. After Godot's departure from Chicago Feb. 20, The Goodman's season continues in quite a different vein with Regina Taylor's Oo Bla Dee, a commissioned play about African-American female jazz instrumentalists. Goodman artistic director Tazewell Thompson will direct, Mar. 5-Apr. 11 (opening Mar. 15).
Tina Landau will then stage revival of her musical, Floyd Collins, a co-production with San Diego's Old Globe Theatre. Originally produced in New York, the 1996 work has a book by Landau and music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, and is based on the attempted rescue of a farmer trapped in a Kentucky cave. The prolonged tragedy became a 1925 media circus and a portent of future hullabaloos. Floyd Collins will be the fourth play of the Goodman season and will run Apr. 23-May 30 opening May 3.
The company's fifth and final `98-99 show is August Wilson's recently revised early drama Jitney. Goodman artistic associate Chuck Smith will stage the play (June 18-July 31, opening June 28), about the eccentric and sometimes desperate denizens of a Pittsburgh gypsy cab stand.
Jitney will mark the seventh Wilson play staged at the Goodman, including the world premiere of Seven Guitars.
For tickets or more information on Godot, or any of the plays in The Goodman's '99 season, call (312) 443-3800.
-- By Sean McGrath