The 2001-02 mainstage season at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company will see Lois Smith as Mother Courage, Laurie Metcalf as a Vietnam War widow and a new production of Kaufman and Ferber's The Royal Family.
Bertolt Brecht's most famous non-musical work, Mother Courage and Her Children, opens the season, running Sept. 13-Nov. 4 (opening Sept. 23). Two-time Tony nominee and Steppenwolf ensemble member Lois Smith plays the canny and amoral title character, who survives the Thirty Years War only to lose her children. David Hare did the adaptation. Directing is Eric Simonson (The Song of Jacob Zulu), who latest stage project, the three-part Frank Lloyd Wright play Work Song, debuted at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre last fall. The original score is by rock composer and producer T-Bone Burnett.
The classic Glengarry Glen Ross, by Chicago native David Mamet, comes next, running Nov. 23, 2001-Jan. 19, 2002 (opening Dec. 2). Amy Morton will direct the hard-hitting drama set among the shark-like salesmen in a real estate office. Alan Wilder and Mike Nussbaum star. Nussbaum is a making a career out of Mamet of late. Having originated the role of Teach in the original Chicago staging of American Buffalo, he directed a smash revival of the piece last year at the Windy City's American Theatre Company. Glengarry received a major production last season at Princeton's McCarter Theatre.
Tina Laudau, who last fall piloted Steppenwolf's first musical, The Ballad of Little Jo, returns to the company Jan. 31-March 24, 2002, to mount her and Curt Columbus' new translation of Elsa Bernstein's Maria Arndt. The piece opens Feb. 10, 2002. Maria Arndt tells the story of a mother and daughter, and asks if one must give up her dreams to satisfy the needs of the other.
In the tradition of such lavish Steppenwolf ventures into the American theatrical past as The Man Who Came to Dinner, Harvey and You Can't Take It With You, ensemble member Frank Galati (Ragtime) revives the 1927 chestnut The Royal Family April 18-June 16, 2002 (opening April 28). The George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber comedy tracks the outlandish activities of the Cavendish clan, a family of actors based of the renowned Barrymores. The season concludes with a new work by playwright Bruce Norris. Norris is well known as an actor. Most recently, he starred on Broadway opposite Ron Rifkin in the short-lived Wrong Mountain. Other New York credits include Plunge, An American Daughter, Marco Polo Sings a Solo and La Terrasse. His play The Infidel enjoyed an extended run at Steppenwolf's Studio space last winter. With his latest work, Purple Heart, running July 5-Aug. 25, 2002 (opening July 14), he graduates to the mainstage. Laurie Metcalf stars as a mother trying to go on after her husband is killed in the Vietnam War. Anna Shapiro, who directed The Infidel, returns to Norris' work.
The complete 2001-02 season runs as follows:
• Mother Courage and Her Children, by Bertolt Brecht, Sept. 13-Nov. 4 (opening Sept. 23), directed by Eric Simonson, starring Lois Smith
• Glengarry Glen Ross, by David Mamet, Nov. 23, 2001-Jan. 19, 2002 (opening Dec. 2), directed by Amy Morton, starring Mike Nussbaum and Alan Wilder.
• Elsa Bernstein's Maria Arndt, adapted by Curt Columbus and Tina Laudau, Jan. 31-March 24, 2002 (opening Feb. 10), directed by Landau
• The Royal Family by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, April 18 June 16, 2002 (opening April 28), directed by Frank Galati.
• Purple Heart by Bruce Norris, running July 5-Aug. 25, 2002 (opening July 14), directed by Anna Shapiro.
For more information, call (312) 335-1650.
—By Robert Simonson