Dr. Philip Litwin is a supremely confident, world-class cardiac surgeon who compares his skill and powers of concentration to those of jazz great, Sidney Bechet. Like saxophonist Bechet, Litwin will kill a man. In fact, one night, Litwin dreams that the hearts of each of his 24,000 patients stop beating in the same instant. That's the premise of Sidney Bechet Killed A Man, a comedy/drama by Stuart Flack currently world premiering at Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago. Associate artistic director Sandy Shinner will direct. She's staged more than 30 plays in her 17 years at Victory Gardens.
Flack, a Cornell (BFA) and Columbia (MFA) graduate, founded the Whistling Shrimp Theatre Company. His 1989 play, American Life & Casualty, was staged at NYC's Ark Theatre and at two venues in Buffalo, NY. Flack is currently adapting that piece into an operatic musical; Casualty was workshoped by the Portland Opera Company in 1995. Peaceful Creatures won the Maxim Mazumdar Award and was staged by Buffalo's Alleyway Theatre in 1993.
Jack McLaughlin-Gray, a Jeff winner for How I Got That Story, plays Philip. Deanna Dunagan, John Judd, A.C. Smith and Kirsten Daurelio complete the cast. Designing Bechet are Jeff Bauer (set), Claudia Boddy (costumes) and Rita Pietraszek (lighting).
For tickets ($23-$28) and information on Sidney Bechet Killed A Man, Jan. 17-Feb. 23 at Victory Gardens on North Lincoln Ave., call (773) 871-3000. Post-performance discussions are set for Jan. 22, 29, Feb. 5, 12, 19. A sign language-interpreted production is scheduled for Feb. 7 and Feb. 19.
--By David Lefkowitz