Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, true to its name, will present three plays by the Bard in 2001-02, as well as a rare staging of Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures.
The season at the company's Navy Pier theatre commenced Sept. 7 with previews of Richard II, Shakespeare's tale of an ineffectual king who achieves nobility only after he is deposed and a valiant, idealistic usurper who earns ignominy upon ascending the throne. Official opening is Sept. 16.
Chicago Shakespeare regular Scott Parkinson plays his highness, and Scott Jaeck is Bolingbroke under artistic director Barbara Gaines' direction. Also notable in the cast is Chicago vet and Mamet mainstay Mike Nussbaum as John of Gaunt, and Death of a Salesman's Steve Pickering as the Duke of York. Dates are Sept. 7 to Nov. 11, with a Sept. 16 opening.
David H. Bell, who piloted the comedies The Comedy of Errors and Much Ado About Nothing at the theatre in 1998, returns to his strength with the Forest of Arden frolic, As You Like It. The run is from Jan. 8, 2002, to March 9, with an opening on Jan. 13. No cast has been announced. Shakespeare's late fantastical play, The Tempest, concludes the mainstage season, March 29-June 2, 2002, with Gaines again at the helm. Opening is April 7.
On Chicago Shakespeare's Upstairs theatre, Gary Griffin will direct Pacific Overtures, one of Sondheim's lesser-known and more poetic musicals, about the opening of Japan to the Western world. Griffin has director six Sondheim musicals prior to this. The seven-week engagement runs Oct. 10 Dec. 2, with an opening on Oct. 17.
The theatre is located on Navy Pier at 800 E. Grand Ave. in Chicago. For more information, call (312) 595-5600.
—By Robert Simonson