The Northlight Theatre production of Jeff Baron's Visiting Mr. Green will reopen on Nov. 19 at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago. The play, which stars veteran Chicago stage actor Mike Nussbaum, proved such a hit at Northlight, that the company decided to make the transfer to the commercial house.
According to Northlight managing director Richard Friedman, the comedy has played to 90 percent capacity and will gross $300,000 during its run. Northlight will be the first non-profit Chicago-area theatre to transfer a show to the Royal George in the latter's 13-year history.
Mr. Green will run at the 440-seat Royal George through Jan. 2, 2000. Co-starring with Nussbaum is Guy Adkins, who recently won a Jeff Award for his work in Floyd Collins. B.J. Jones directs.
Nussbaum makes a homecoming in the title role in Visiting Mr. Green. The actor grew up with the Chicago theatre movement, starring in Northlight's first production -- Tom Stoppard's Jumpers, directed by Frank Galati -- in 1974. Since then, he has appeared on every important Chicago stage, from Steppenwolf to the Goodman to the Organic, forming a particular bond with native son, playwright David Mamet. Nussbaum originated the role of Teach in American Buffalo and starred in the premieres of Glengarry Glen Ross, Life in the Theater and The Shawl. He has acted in Mamet's films as well, including "House of Games."
* In other Northlight news, E. Faye Butler will play the title role of jazz songstress Dinah Washington in the Chicago-area production of Oliver Goldstick's musical tribute, Dinah Was. The musical drama, directed by David Petrarca, begins previews Dec. 1. Opening is Dec. 8 for a run through Jan. 2, 2000.
Butler is a three time Jeff Award winner. Her most recent Chicago credits are La Bete and The Little Foxes at the Court Theatre, where she is an artist in residence. Nationally, she has toured in Ain't Misbehavin' and Nunsense.
Also in the cast are Matt DeCaro, Carla Hargrove, Jeffrey Hutchinson and Darryl Alan Reed.
In Dinah Was, Washington arrives in Las Vegas ready to star at the Sands, only to be treated to back-of-the-bus accommodations in a mobile home behind the casino. Refusing to leave the lobby, Dinah relives her career and life in an evening of jazz (13 songs) and emotional flashbacks. The staging is a co-production with Arena Stage, the Philadelphia Theatre Company and the Dallas Theatre Center.
The remainder of Northlight's 1999-2000 season is as follows:
* As Bees in Honey Drown (Feb. 2-March 5, 2000), Douglas Carter Beane's flip, New Yorky satire of celebrity culture, directed by Gary Griffin. In the Off-Broadway favorite, a young writer is seduced by the extravagant and mysterious Alexa Vere de Vere, part Auntie Mame, part Sally Bowles. Beane is currently enjoying another success off-Broadway with The Country Club.
* God's Man in Texas (March 29-April 30, 2000), David Rambo's examination of the personal issues that impact a change in the leadership at a famous Baptist church, with Jones as a charismatic young pastor and Tony Mockus as the aging, defensive pastor. Susan V. Booth will direct the comedy about institutional power struggles, fathers and sons and modern day religion U.S. religion.
* Side Show (May 17-June 18, 2000), Krieger and Russell's musical look at the public and private joys of real-life "Siamese twins," the Hilton sisters. Jones called the show a risk because it's about outsiders or, as the show's opening song calls them, "freaks." The Skokie and Evanston area is about "status quo" and "normal" lives, said Jones, so it will be interesting to see how the crowd responds. Casting is incomplete.
For information, call (847) 673-6300.
-- By Robert Simonson and Ken Jones