Motherhood, Murder and Mercy Merge in Chicago World Premiere, Unspoken Prayers, March 21

News   Motherhood, Murder and Mercy Merge in Chicago World Premiere, Unspoken Prayers, March 21 Taylor Miller, known popularly for playing Nina on "All My Children," stars in Claudia Allen's new drama, Unspoken Prayers, for Victory Gardens Theatre in the Windy City, starting March 21.

The Tony Award-honored troupe originally announced Judith Ivey to star, but a scheduling conflict prompted the casting of Miller, who 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 — and the plight of the 16-year-old boy nabbed for the crime.

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, a finalist for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Award, is billed by VG 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 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.