The Hairy Ape, Freshly Groomed by The Hypocrites, Opens Feb. 11 in Chicago

News   The Hairy Ape, Freshly Groomed by The Hypocrites, Opens Feb. 11 in Chicago
The acclaimed Chicago theatre company, The Hypocrites, stages a new interpretation of Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape, opening Feb. 11 after previews from Feb. 7, as part of Goodman Theatre's multi-company 21st-century exploration of the plays of O'Neill, the centerpiece of which is Goodman's new Desire Under the Elms.

Sean Graney directs the 1922 expressionist play, The Hairy Ape, acted by an all-Chicago cast led by Chris Sullivan as Yank, the title role. According to Goodman, "Graney's production transforms Goodman's three-tiered Owen Bruner Theatre into the various strata of an ocean liner."

"Ninety years after it was first produced, The Hairy Ape remains a relevant, contemporary play," director Graney said in production notes. "It is my favorite O'Neill play and I am thrilled that it is a part of this international exploration at the Goodman."

Performances continue to Feb. 21. Graney's work has been seen by Chicago audiences most recently in Edward II at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and The Threepenny Opera by The Hypocrites.

Sullivan returns to Goodman Theatre as Yank after making his debut performance in The Ballad of Emmett Till. This spring he will return to Chicago Shakespeare to play Antonio in Twelfth Night.

Joining Sullivan are Kurt Ehrmann (Paddy, Ensemble); Robert McLean (Long, Ensemble); John Byrnes (Secretary of Organization, Ensemble) Jennifer Coombs (Mildred, Ensemble); Stacy Stoltz (Aunt, Ensemble); Gregory Hardigan (Ensemble); Kiplan Dooley Ensemble); and 10-year Najwa Brown (Girl). The Hairy Ape, a classic of American expressionist theatre, boasting a distorted reality, "follows the saga of Yank, a maritime laborer who questions his place in society when branded as 'a filthy beast' by the rich daughter of a steel industrialist. In a series of eight scenes, O'Neill chronicles Yank's struggle between his own primitive nature and that of the intellectually based and emotionally vacant upper classes. After his fellow stokers reject him, and a foolhardy attempt for revenge on the class which has shunned him fails, Yank seeks solace from the only creature with whom he finds kinship: an ape in the Central Park Zoo."

The Provincetown Players premiered The Hairy Ape in March 1922 under the direction Robert Edmond Jones.

The design team for The Hypocrites production includes set designer Tom Burch, costume designer Alison Siple, lighting designer Jared Moore, sound designer Miles Polaski and composer Kevin O'Donnell.

Goodman Theatre began 2009 with an eight-play landmark theatrical event, "A Global Exploration: Eugene O'Neill in the 21st Century" curated by artistic director Robert Falls. It plays Jan. 7-March 8. More than 100 artists from six theatre companies from around the world bring their highly contemporary, inventive interpretations of O'Neill's dramas to the Goodman's Exploration — "viewing the 20th century 'father of the American drama' through a 21st- century international lens."

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In conjunction with The Hairy Ape, the Goodman also presents a free discussion on Feb. 21 with directors Sean Graney and Greg Allen, founder of The Neo-Futurists who directs O'Neill's Strange Interlude at the Goodman.

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