Cast Announced for Goodman's Talking Pictures, Part of Horton Foote Festival

News   Cast Announced for Goodman's Talking Pictures, Part of Horton Foote Festival
A Chicago-based cast has been announced for Goodman Theatre's revival of Talking Pictures, part of the Windy City troupe's ten-week celebration of American playwright Horton Foote.

The 1994 play will be seen in the Goodman's 400-seat flexible Owen Bruner Goodman Theatre, configured for the first time in an in-the-round format, Jan. 26-March 2. Opening is Feb. 4.

Starting Feb. 21, two Foote one-acts, Blind Date and The Actor, will play in rep (to March 2) with Talking Pictures, drawing from the latter play's ensemble.

Emerging director Henry Wishcamper, who assisted Goodman artistic director Robert Falls on his Broadway production of Shining City, will direct a Talking Pictures cast that includes Judy Blue (as Mrs. Jackson), Phillip Earl Johnson (as Willis), Audrey Francis (Gladys), Jenny McKnight (Myra), E. Vincent Teninty, Dan Waller (Gerard), Bubba Weiler (Pete), Jason Wells (Mr. Jackson), Gabriel Notarangelo (Estaquio) and Kathleen Romond (Vesta).

The design team for Talking Pictures includes Tom Burch (set design), Birgit Rattenborg Wise (costume design), Robert Christen (lighting design) and Richard Woodbury (sound design).

First produced by New York's Signature Theatre as part of a season-long tribute to Horton Foote, Talking Pictures "chronicles a cultural turning point in 1929, the eve of the Depression," according to Goodman notes. "In the town of Harrison, Texas, the residents of a small boarding house deal with myriad crises, small and large: the quarrels between estranged husbands and wives, the uncertain future of a railroad engineer, and the coming of the 'talkies' to the local movie theatre — which signals the end of an era, and a job, for the woman who plays the live music there." The Goodman's Horton Foote Festival honors a living legend, the troupe stated. The festival continues a burgeoning tradition at Goodman Theatre of "exploring the work of the most important, influential and moving writers for the stage," including August Wilson (2007), David Mamet (2006), Edward Albee (2005) — and in 2009, Eugene O'Neill.

Upcoming productions in the Horton Foote Festival include two one-act productions performed in repertory: Blind Date, directed by Steve Scott and The Actor, directed by Rick Snyder; and The Trip To Bountiful, directed by Harris Yulin, featuring Lois Smith (March 1-April 6).

The celebration is augmented by a series of special one-night-only events taking place on Monday evenings during the month of March; more details will be released in the coming weeks.

According to Goodman, "Academy Award-winner and playwright Horton Foote's realistic portrayal of locales and characters of southeastern Texas has been his signature for more than five decades of writing for the stage, television and film. He was born in 1916 in Wharton, Texas — the town he would subsequently use as the setting for many of his plays, under the pseudonym 'Harrison.'"

His first play, Wharton Dance, was produced in New York in 1941 and was followed by Texas Town (1942), Only the Heart (1944), Celebration (1948), The Chase (1952) and The Traveling Lady (1954). He wrote "The Trip to Bountiful" for NBC television in 1953 and adapted it for Broadway later that year. He achieved prominence writing for television and film during the 1950s and 1960s for such works as "The Dancers" (1954), "A Young Lady of Property" (1956), "Flight" (1957), "Storm Fear" (1955) and "Baby, The Rain Must Fall" (1964).

Foote has won two Academy Awards, the first for his screen adaptation of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962) and the second for his original screenplay, "Tender Mercies" (1983). Other film work includes "Tomorrow" (1972), the movie version of "The Trip to Bountiful," nominated for an Academy Award (1985), "Convicts" (1989) and "Lily Dale" (1996).

Recently, Foote has returned to concentrating on theatre. His stage work includes The Roads to Home (1982), 1918 (1987), Lily Dale (1988), The Widow Claire (1988), Dividing the Estate (1989), The Last of the Thorntons (2001), The Carpetbagger's Children and Getting Frankie Married…and Afterward (both 2002). The Young Man From Atlanta won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize, following its premiere at Signature Theatre Company Off-Broadway, as part of a season devoted entirely to Foote works.

Director Wishcamper makes his Chicago directorial debut with Talking Pictures. His credits include Flags (59E59 Theaters), Elvis People (New World Stages), The Polish Play, A Conflation of Macbeth by William Shakespeare and Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry (Katharsis Theater Company), Pullman Car Hiawatha (Keen Company; Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Revival of a Play), So Frightful… (McGinn/Cazale Theater), The Good Thief (Portland Stage Company), The Flying Doctor and the Imaginary Cuckold (Roundtable Ensemble), 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (HERE Arts Center), Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Maine Summer Dramatic Institute/Shakespeare in Deering Oaks Park). Wishcamper served as the assistant director on the Broadway productions of August: Osage County (directed by Anna D. Shapiro), Shining City (directed by Robert Falls), Absurd Person Singular (directed by John Tillinger) and Match (directed by Nicholas Martin). He is the artistic director of Katharsis Theater Company and served as the artistic director of the Maine Summer Dramatic Institute and as the artistic associate of Keen Company.

For more information about Talking Pictures and the Goodman's Horton Foote Festival, visit

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