Victory Gardens Premieres Failure, a Musical Populated With Actor-Musicians, Nov. 16

By Kenneth Jones
November 16, 2012

Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, a Tony Award winner as Outstanding Regional Theatre, launches the world premiere of Failure: A Love Story, a "magical, musical fable" about the death of three sisters whose surname is Fail, on Nov. 16. Actor-musicians tell the story.



Written by VG Ensemble playwright Philip Dawkins and directed by Seth Bockley, the work features Baize Buzan as Nelly Fail, Emjoy Gavino as Jenny June Fail and Mildred Marie Langford as Gertrude Fail.

Performances play to Dec. 30 in the Richard Christiansen Theater at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Opening night is Nov. 26.

The play with music employs popular songs from the time period as well as original compositions by Dawkins. The cast members accompany themselves on a variety of instruments including piano, oboe, accordion and percussion. Expect "elements of puppetry and object theatre will also be woven into the show."

According to VG, "1928 was the last year of each of the Fail Sisters' lives. Nelly was the first to die, followed soon after by sisters, Jenny June and Gerty. As with many unforeseen circumstances in life — blunt objects, disappearances and consumption — they never saw death coming. Written by Chicago playwright Philip Dawkins, Failure: A Love Story is a magical, musical fable about the triumphs and aspirations of three sisters living in the rickety two-story building by the Chicago River which was the Fail family home and clock shop. This profoundly funny and moving holiday offering reminds us that in the end, all that remains is love."

The cast of Failure: A Love Story also includes Michael Salinas as John N. Fail, Matt Fletcher as Mortimer Mortimer, Guy Massey as The Chorus and Janet Ulrich Brooks as The Chorus.

The production team includes Scott Davis (set designer), Mac Vaughey (lighting designer), Emily Tarleton (costume designer), Charles Kim (sound designer), Will Bishop (assistant director) and Helen Lattyak (stage manager).

Dawkins' acclaimed play The Homosexuals received a Joseph Jefferson nomination for New Work after its world premiere with About Face Theatre in the summer of 2011, under the direction of Bonnie Metzgar. Further productions are planned for the 2012/13 seasons of The Ringwald Theater in Detroit and ManBites Dog Theater in North Carolina. After premiering at Victory Gardens, Failure: A Love Story will be performed in Philadelphia at Azuka Theatre in summer 2013. His new play, Stutter, was commissioned by the Goodman Theatre and will receive a staged reading in December 2012. His plays for young people have been performed all over the world and are published through Playscripts, Inc. A graduate of Loyola University, Chicago, he is an artistic associate of About Face Theatre, an Ensemble Playwright at Victory Gardens, and a founding member, with artistic partner Eric C. Reda, of Chicago Opera Vanguard.

Victory Gardens is renowned for producing the work of an in-house group of playwrights, plus occasional Chicago premieres from outside writers. For more information, visit victorygardens.org.