Wild Blue Yonder: Sky Girls Gets World Premiere at Northlight in IL, Feb. 4

News   Wild Blue Yonder: Sky Girls Gets World Premiere at Northlight in IL, Feb. 4 Northlight Theatre, the Chicago-area company that gave wing to the world premiere of Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years, presents the commissioned world premiere of Chicago playwright Jenny Laird's Sky Girls, opening Feb. 4 following previews that began Jan. 29.

The new historical drama follows five fictional World War II female fliers, united in their hope of becoming WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots) for the United States. Under the direction of Northlight artistic director BJ Jones, Sky Girls plays Northlight Theatre at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, IL, to March 9.

Sky Girls "is set in 1944, at Avenger Field, an Army Air Force base in the dusty, weather-beaten town of Sweetwater, TX.," according to production notes. "The final class of trainees for the WASPs struggles to earn their wings as they battle internal sabotage, media frenzy, misguided public concern and a crucial, pending Congressional vote to militarize the once-lauded program — or disband it altogether. Merging fact and fiction, the five characters train under real life aviation legend, Jacqueline (Jackie) Cochran, who rose from a poverty stricken childhood to create the WASP program in 1943, earning her the Distinguished Service Medal for services to her country during World War II."

Playing the Sky Girls are Michele Graff as Bishop, an ace pilot and the reluctant leader of the group; Paula Stevens as Breeny, a delicate, wonder-struck Midwesterner; Jen Engstrom as Mags, a tart-tongued, sexy tomboy from Chicago’s south side; Julie Ganey as Lil, an optimistic "mother hen" from Tennessee; Ana Sferruzza as DeLang, a poet-introvert with unfailing navigational skills; and Lia Mortensen in the role of Cochran.

Jeff Lupetin serves as the Movie Tone Announcer.

Playwright Laird is the recipient of Northlight Theatre's 2001 Selma Melvoin New Play commission. Laird was also the recipient of a Y2001 Illinois Arts Council Playwriting Fellowship, the Cunningham Prize for Playwriting, and most recently, an NEA Grant for a production of only the Sound at Chicago Dramatists, where she is a resident playwright. Ballad Hunter, another Laird work at Chicago Dramatists, received a Joseph Jefferson Award nomination for Best New Play.

Designers are Todd Rosenthal (sets), Nan Zabriskie (costumes), John Culbert (lighting), Lindsay Jones (sound) and Marla Lampert (movement).

Nortlight at North Shore is at 9501 Skokie Boulevard. Tickets range $32-$50. For information, call (847) 673 6300 or visit Northlight's web site, www.northlight.org.