Steppenwolf Fills Out Season with Guirgis' Our Lady

News   Steppenwolf Fills Out Season with Guirgis' Our Lady Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company has selected for the third slot in its 2003-04 subscription season Stephen Adly Guirgis' drama Our Lady of 121st Street, which recently closed its run Off-Broadway.

The high-voltage, fragmentary urban drama, which features a dozen troubled characters all affected by the murder of Sister Rose, a Catholic nun at a school in Harlem, will begin previews Feb. 5, 2004, at Steppenwolf's larger Downstairs Theatre (formerly called the Mainstage). It will run through March 28. Directing is Will Frears, a former Steppenwolf intern whose star recently rose with Louisville's premiere of the Off-Broadway bound Omnium-Gatherum.

The booking continues Steppenwolf's commitment to Guirgis' work. The company previously staged the Chicago premiere of Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train. No casting has been announced.

As previously announced, the subscription season begins with the 2001-02 season's Broadway success, Topdog/Underdog, by Suzan-Lori Parks. K. Todd Freeman, who has appeared on Broadway in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Song of Jacob Zulu, will play one of Parks' warring African-American brothers, named Lincoln and Booth. Searching for direction and affection while living in a decrepit boarding house room, the siblings play out the symbolic and surreal power play set up by their weighted names. Dates are Sept. 11-Nov. 2. Amy Morton directs.

Tracy Letts, a Chicago-based playwright who saw his violent and willfully vulgar Killer Joe become an Off-Broadway hit several seasons back, will premiere his new Man from Nebraska in the Nov. 20-Jan. 18, 2004, slot. Anna D. Shapiro directs Rondi Reed and Rick Snyder in the tale of a middle-aged man set in his ways who wakes up one morning to suddenly discover he no longer believes in God.

In the tradition of past Steppenwolf forays into the worlds of George S. Kauman, Moss Hart, Edna Ferber and William Saroyan, the company will dust off Robert Anderson's I Never Sang for My Father. John Mahoney is the irascible father and Kevin Anderson is Gene Garrison, the emotionally conflicted son who suddenly has to spend a lot of time with dear old Dad. Dates are April 22-June 20, 2004. Finally, Laurie Metcalf will play the title waitress in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally. Metcalf is a Steppenwolf ensemble member, as is Austin Pendleton, who will direct the simple tale of a middle-aged, jaded waitress and a frycook who haltingly attempt to find romance, companionship and happiness with each other. Yasen Peyankov will play Johnny.

The comic drama was recently a hit on Broadway with Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci. The Steppenwolf staging will run July 9-Aug. 29, 2004.

The famed troupe was formed in 1974 by Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry and became famous for its acting-driven ethos and muscular, propulsive productions of modern classics, performed by such future stars as John Malkovich, Joan Allen and Laurie Metcalf. Among their most famous efforts are landmark productions of Balm in Gilead, True West, Buried Child, The Grapes of Wrath, Orphans, The Caretaker and The Song of Jacob Zulu.