Court Theatre in Chicago ends its extended run of the Midwest premiere of Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love Oct. 21.
The staging by Court artistic director Charles Newell stars Paxton Whitehead as Oxford scholar and poet A.E. Housman. The added performances were Oct. 17-21, and tickets are still available. Stoppard's dense, literate — and literary — work was originally scheduled to run through Oct. 15. It will be followed by Court's second production for 2000 2001, In the Penal Colony, a world premiere opera by renowned composer Philip Glass, with libretto by Rudolph Wurlitzer, based on the original story by Franz Kafka, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis.
Performances for Invention of Love began Sept. 6. In the play, a search for love through the eyes of Oxford scholar and poet A.E. Housman, the leading role is double cast, with Chicago actor Guy Adkins playing the young Housman, and New York stage veteran Whitehead as the older Housman.
The cast includes Lance Baker, Ron Butts, Thomas Joseph Carroll, Maury Cooper, Ray Frewen, Jennifer Kern, Christian Kohn, Larry Neumann, David Perkovich, Bruch Reed and Martin Yurek. Opening was Sept. 16. In a separate staging, New York City will finally see The Invention of Love in spring 2001. The play — which has been produced with success in London, San Francisco and Philadelphia — will be produced by Lincoln Center Theater, a spokesman confirmed, and play at a Broadway house to be named later.
Designers for the resident Chicago staging are Robert Murphy (scenic and lighting), Mark Botelho (costume), Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman (sound).
Embraced in London in its Royal National Theatre bow in 1997, the play had its American premiere in 1999-2000 by American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and was also staged at the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia.
Housman (1859-1936) was the 19th-century English poet known for his collection of poems titled "A Shropshire Lad." Through his work, according to Invention of Love production notes, he expressed his lifelong unrequited passion for a fellow student at Oxford, Moses Jackson. Stoppard's story begins with Housman old and infirm, dreaming he is dead and being ferried across the river Styx by the mythical boatman Charon.
Along the way, he returns to the Oxford of his youth, at a time when Parliament has condemned acts of "gross indecency." He also pays a visit to the French seashore, where Oscar Wilde is living out his final days.
Tickets are $24-$38. Court Theatre is at 5535 S. Ellis Ave., in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. For tickets and information, call (773) 753-4472 or visit the web site at www.courttheatre.org.