Homegrown Chicago actress Judith Ivey, of Broadway and Hollywood, will return to Windy City theatre in 2003 to star in Claudia Allen's Unspoken Prayers, which gets a world premiere by Victory Gardens Theatre.
Artistic director Dennis Zacek will direct the new death-penalty-themed drama, March 21-May 4, 2003.
Ivey will make her Victory Gardens debut in Unspoken Prayers, playing Billie, a middle-class mother whose teenage daughter Sara is brutally murdered. Sara's killer, a 16-year-old high school boy, is caught, tried and sentenced to death. According to production notes, "As the case moves to trial, Allen pushes society's hot buttons, pulls heart strings and begs for answers in this riveting study of a mother, father and sister confronting loss — and each other — in their search for justice. But what is just? You decide."
Ivey worked her way through the Chicago Off-Loop theatre scene before moving to New York and becoming a national star.Originally from El Paso, TX, Ivey attended Illinois State University and started working immediately after graduation. She made her debut at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, in the 1974 production of The Sea. Ivey went on to act in many Chicago stagings, then moved to New York in 1978 and won her first Broadway role within a year. She worked at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Public Theater, Second Stage and LaMama, as well as many regional theatres.
She won her first Tony Award as well as a Drama Desk Award in 1983 for her portrayal of Josie in Steaming. David Rabe'sHurlyburly marked her fourth appearance on Broadway and earned her a second Tony Award. Her other Broadway credits are Piaf, Bedroom Farce, Precious Sons, Blithe Spirit, Voices in the Dark and 2001's Follies. She made her feature film debut in Paul Newman's "Harry and Son." Her other film credits include Steve Martin's love interest in "The Lonely Guy," "In Country," "Sister, Sister," "Brighton Beach Memoirs," "Without Limits" and "The Devil's Advocate."
Claudia Allen, a member of the Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble, was commissioned by the theatre to write a play about the death penalty, and she responded with Unspoken Prayers. Previously, Allen's acclaimed dramas Winter and Fossils, which both starred the legendary Julie Harris, were major hits for Victory Gardens. Her other Victory Gardens premieres include Cahoots, which starred Sharon Gless, the Jeff Award winning Still Waters and The Long Awaited and Hannah Free, Deed of Trust and Ripe Conditions.
Single tickets will go on sale Feb. 21, 2003. The Tony Award-honored Victory Gardens is located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. For information, call the Victory Gardens box office at (773) 871-3000 or visit victorgardens.org.
— By Kenneth Jones