Apple Tree's Mistress Cycle Gets Revival in a Unique Setting in Chicago

News   Apple Tree's Mistress Cycle Gets Revival in a Unique Setting in Chicago
The massive stage of Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (ATRU) in Chicago will be transformed into a 200-seat black-box space to house The Apple Tree Theatre's remount of The Mistress Cycle, the musical by composer Jenny Giering and lyricist Beth Blatt, playing July 22-Aug. 8.

Jeff Award-nominated in 2007-08, the production now resurfaces in the unique configuration. The entire production and audience are on the stage of the proscenium house.

This marks the first production Apple Tree Theatre (a 26-year-old North Shore-area company) will mount in Chicago's loop.

According to Apple Tree, "The Mistress Cycle breaks the mold of the traditional book musical, instead offering audiences a 'song cycle' that illuminates stories of passion, sacrifice and strength of spirit. The Mistress Cycle explores the lives and loves of five notorious mistresses: Tess Walker, a contemporary Manhattan photographer; Anais Nin, the famed sexual adventurer of the early 20th century; Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of King Henri II of 16th century France; Lulu White, a turn-of-the-century New Orleans bordello Madame; and Ching, a 14- year-old concubine in 12th century China."

"The Auditorium Theatre is constantly developing new ways to expand our programming and provide our audiences with an exceptional theatrical experience," stated ATRU executive director Brett Batterson. "We are always looking for a new ways to use our world-class stage, and we welcome this partnership with such an accomplished off-loop theatre company."

The Mistress Cycle was chosen as the first piece to be presented in such a format when Bob Wieseneck, who sits on the boards of both organizations, brought the song cycle to the attention of Batterson. Originally presented as a regional premiere in Apple Tree Theatre's 25th anniversary 2007-2008 season, The Mistress Cycle garnered three Jeff nominations in Chicago including Best Revue. The musical was awarded the prestigious Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award in 2000 as well as the 2002-2003 Dramatists Guild Jonathan Larson Fellowship. Developmental readings of the piece were produced by the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Barrington Stage Company and Theatreworks/Palo Alto's New Works Festival.

Kurt Johns (Iron, Vincent In Brixton) repeats his Jeff-nominated direction of this piece with musical direction by Diana Lawrence (Kama Sutra, the musical). The cast features Charissa Armon (2007 Jeff award nominee for Sarah in Porchlight's Ragtime) as Tess Walker, Angela Ingersoll (2006 Jeff nominee for Martha in The Secret Garden) in her Jeff-nominated role as Anais Nin, Karen Marie Richardson (The Life at Boho Rep, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story) as Lulu White, Susie McMonagle (five-time Jeff nominee, Fantine in Les Miserables on Broadway, Donna Sheridan in national tour of Mamma Mia) as Diane de Poitiers, and Christine Bunuan (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in Chicago and first national tour, the world premiere of Steppenwolf Theatre's Kafka on the Shore) as Ching.

The production crew includes stage manager Julia Zayas-Melendez, lighting designer David Ferguson, set designer Amy Jackson, costume designer Erin Fast, props designer Jesse Gaffney and Dan Pellant and sound designer Steve Ptacek.

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University is at 50 E. Congress in Chicago.

For tickets visit the Auditorium Theatre box office at 50 E. Congress Parkway; call (800) 982-2787 (ARTS); or log on to For general information visit or

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