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Northwestern Theatre and Dance in February

Wirtz Center to present Andrew Lippa’s Off-Broadway musical “The Wild Party”

  • Lippa’s lavish musical score takes audiences back to the ‘Roaring 1920s’
  • Danceworks 2015 will feature works about family connections by seven top choreographers
  • Rives Collins to direct new musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's “James and the Giant Peach”

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine,” award-winning playwright Lynn Nottage’ social satire with a devilishly comic twist, is Northwestern University’s first winter 2015 Mainstage production.

Presented by Northwestern’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, “Fabulation” opens Jan. 30 and runs through Feb. 8, at the Josephine Louis Theater.  

The Wirtz Center also will host composer and lyricist Andrew Lippa’s Drama Desk award-winning Off-Broadway musical “The Wild Party,” which is set in the “Roaring 1920s” and conveys the era’s decadence. The show is directed and choreographed by The House Theatre of Chicago’s Tommy Rapley. Lippa will attend the Feb. 13 opening night performance. He also will join the cast and director on stage that night for a post-show discussion with the audience.

Faculty member Jeffery Hancock will be the artistic director of Northwestern’s production of Danceworks 2015: “Ties That Bind.” The Feb. 27 to March 8 show will feature original works that examine family connections by seven of the Chicago area’s top professional choreographers.

The Wirtz Center’s first 2015 Imagine U production is the Midwest premiere of a new musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach,” which will be directed by Rives Collins. Geared for children ages 5 to 10 and their families, the show runs from Feb. 13 to March 1, and features music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul with book by Timothy Allen.

Also open to the general public are two School of Communication MFA Lab Series Shows. Sarah Ruhl’s “Melancholy Play” will be directed by Risher Reddick, and Hannah Todd will direct Sam Shepard’s “True West.” Both Reddick and Todd are second-year MFA directing students at Northwestern University.

MAINSTAGE SEASON 2014-15

The Wirtz Center’s 2014-15 Mainstage season features award-winning directors and playwrights, acclaimed alumnae and faculty, groundbreaking plays and musicals and the annual Waa-Mu Show. The season reflects the evolving definitions of family and community and invites audiences to embrace the circumstances that unite and strengthen us. For more information and to order tickets to upcoming shows and Stage on Screen broadcasts, visit www.communication.northwestern.edu/wirtz/season.php.

The Wirtz Center’s 2014-15 season productions will be held, as noted, in venues on the University’s Evanston campus.

Single tickets for all Mainstage productions are on sale now. Where applicable, ticket discounts are available for groups of eight or more. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased by phone through the Wirtz Center Box Office at 847-491-7282 or online at wirtz.northwestern.edu.

FEBRUARY 2015 MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

• “Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine” by Lynn Nottage and directed by Jerrell L. Henderson, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, Josephine Louis Theater20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Nottage’s social satire is a classic comeuppance tale with a devilishly comic twist. It tells the story of Undine, a quick-witted, sharp-tongued and successful public relations executive, who rules every aspect of her world in downtown Manhattan. That is until her “perfect” husband suddenly disappears, running off with all of her money. Pregnant and on the brink of social and financial ruin, she must return to her childhood home in Brooklyn and cope with the crude new reality of transforming her setbacks into small victories. She also has to try to reconnect to a family she has purposefully forgotten in pursuit of her own ambitious rise to self-perceived glory. A talkback with cast members will follow the Jan. 30, Feb. 1 and Feb. 5 performances. Single tickets are $25 for the general public; $23 for seniors over 62, Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators; $10 for full-time students with IDs and $5 for Northwestern students, advance purchase only, or $10 at the door.

• Andrew Lippa’s “The Wild Party,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. With book, lyrics and music by Andrew Lippa, the musical is based on Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 narrative poem of the same name. It tells the story of two lovers who decide to throw a party to end all parties in their Manhattan apartment with a slew of colorful guests living life on the edge. As the decadent party reaches a climax, so does jealousy, lust and rage. A gun is fired, but who has been shot? The show will feature a nearly 30-member Northwestern student cast. The production is directed and choreographed by Tommy Rapley, company member of The House Theatre of Chicago, where he has choreographed more than 20 world premieres, including “The Sparrow” (Jeff Award), “Cave with Man” (Jeff Award), “The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan” and “Death and Harry Houdini.” Composer and lyricist Lippa will attend the Feb. 13 opening night performance. Lippa also will join the cast and director on stage on opening night for a post-show discussion with the audience. Ryan T. Nelson, the Wirtz Center’s music director, will host and moderate the conversation. Single tickets are $30 for the general public; $27 for seniors over 62 and Northwestern faculty and staff and educators; and $10 for full-time students with valid IDs, at the door, or $5 tickets exclusively for full-time Northwestern students on advance purchases only. Discounts are available for groups of eight or more.

• Danceworks 2015: “Ties That Bind,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5; 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 6; 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8, Northwestern University’s Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Under the artistic direction of faculty member Jeffrey Hancock, the 2015 Danceworks production will present an evening of cutting-edge dance that explores the connectivity of families and communities through a variety of unique and entertaining dance styles, including contact improvisation, dance theatre, West African, modern, jazz and salsa. Seven top choreographers, including Hancock, Kevin Durnbaugh, Darrell Jones, Amanda Lower, Sophia Rafiqi, Amy Swanson and Joel Valentin-Martinez, will each share their individual viewpoints on the powers of social unity and deconstruction using personal narratives as well as shared experiences from within their own community. They also will draw on a variety of themes, including culture, gender, pride and tradition. Talkback discussions with the Danceworks cast will follow the Feb. 27 opening night, March 1 Sunday matinee and March 5 evening performances. Tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors over 62, and Northwestern University faculty, staff and area educators; and $10 for full-time students and $5 for Northwestern University students, advance purchase only, or $10 at the door.

IMAGINE U

Imagine U stage productions are geared for children ages 5 to 10 and their families and are designed to provide an insider’s look at the magical world of theatre. Performances may include an opportunity for children to talk afterwards with the cast or receive take-home programs filled with activities, art projects, fun facts and games. Tickets are now on sale for the upcoming season.

Midwest premiere, Imagine U, “James and the Giant Peach,” 7 p.m. Friday Feb. 13; 

11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28; and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at Northwestern University’s Mussetter-Struble Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Evanston campus. This new musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's popular tale of adventure and magic will be directed by Northwestern faculty member Rives Collins (“The Hundred Dresses”). With book by Timothy Allen McDonald and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, it follows the story of James, who is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree. When James discovers a magic potion, which results in a tremendous peach and launches a journey of enormous proportions, he suddenly finds himself in the center of the gigantic peach among human-sized insects with equally oversized personalities. When the peach falls from the tree and rolls into the ocean, the group faces hunger, sharks and disagreements. Thanks to James' quick wit and creative thinking, the residents learn to live and work together as a family. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for Northwestern students, advance purchase only, or $10 at the door. Discounts are available for groups of eight or more.

MFA LAB SERIES SHOWS -- FEBRUARY 2015

The MFA Lab series matches excellent young theatre directors from Northwestern’s MFA program with emerging designers from its partner MFA program in stage design for exciting and unexpected collaborations. These artists are the next wave, given the freedom to create together on bold, risk-taking productions of plays by today's most groundbreaking writers. The MFA Lab also gives Northwestern student actors a place to showcase their talents in contemporary work and to develop artistic collaborations, which will stay with them, as they become the new face of American theatre. The series is presented in the intimate Wallis Theater, a flexible black box performance space perfectly designed for contemporary plays.

• “Melancholy Play” by Sarah Ruhl, 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, Northwestern University’s Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Evanston campus. Funny and deeply moving, Ruhl’s contemporary farce is a playful reminder of the dangers of isolation and the transformative power of communal sadness. The production will be directed by School of Communication second-year MFA directing student Risher Reddick. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for Northwestern University students who purchase tickets in advance only or $10 at the door.

• “True West” by Sam Shepard,” 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1, Northwestern University’s Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Evanston campus. Shepard’s comedy is about two brothers who encounter each other after five years of no contact. After they re-connect, they begin a battle for supremacy in which they rip apart each other, themselves and their mother’s suburban southern California kitchen. The production will be directed by School of Communication second-year MFA directing student Hannah Todd. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for Northwestern University students who purchase tickets in advance only or $10 at the door.

EVANSTON CAMPUS ARTS CIRCLE DRIVE NOW OPEN

After nearly three years of construction, Northwestern University’s Art Circle Drive has reopened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The road, drive-up handicap access to all Wirtz Center theaters, the pedestrian path at the lakefront and all sidewalks are now open for public use. New improvements to the South Beach Garage also has eliminated the need to use the stairways at the east and west ends of the two-story parking structure, which is now accessible to persons with disabilities for easy access to the Wirtz Center theaters. Additional parking is also available in the new Segal Visitors Center at 1841 Sheridan Road.

For more information, phone 847-491-4819, visit the Wirtz Center website at www.wirtz.northwestern.edu or email wirtz@northwestern.edu.

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