The Tony Award-honored troupe has cast actress Taylor Miller to take over. Miller, known as Nina on ABC's "All My Children," will play Billie, the middle-class mother at the center of Allen's new death-penalty drama. In the play, Billie is "forced to cope with the senseless murder of her teenage daughter."
Unspoken Prayers is directed by Victory Gardens artistic director Dennis Zacek and features Velma Austin, Brad Harbaugh, Kenn E. Head, Karlie Nurse, Rob Riley and Kim Wade.
Previews begin March 21, with an opening set for March 31. Performances continue to May 4 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.
The play is a finalist for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Award. VG bills it this way: "Unspoken Prayers is a contemporary drama about Billie, a middle-class mother whose teenage daughter Sara is the victim of a senseless murder. Eventually, Sara's killer, an unassuming 16-year-old boy and classmate, is apprehended, forcing Billie's family to takes sides in this beautifully written study of a mother, father and sister confronting loss — and each other — in their search for justice."
Playwright Claudia Allen, known regionally, was named Best Playwright by Chicago Magazine in 1999, and is the author of Victory Gardens' acclaimed world premiere dramas Winter, starring Julie Harris and Mike Nussbaum in 1999, and Fossils, starring Julie Harris with Ann Whitney in 2001. Her other VG credits 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. Allen also wrote the smash hit play, Xena Live!, for About Face Theater, plus a hit sequel. Xena Live! becomes a trilogy this fall with Apocalypse Now — Or Later. She received a Trailblazer Award in 2000 from Bailiwick Rep, which will premiere her wild comedy, Dutch Love, this spring. Tickets run $22-$35. For information, call (773) 871-3000 or visit www.victorygardens.org.