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Northwestern Theater in May

Wirtz Center staging of Frank Galati’s adaptation of “The Grapes of Wrath” concludes May 3

EVANSTON, Ill. --- May is a busy month for theater on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus, and there is something for every audience imaginable: Old, young and in between.

In addition to the final performances of Frank Galati’s stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” which runs through May 3 at the Ethel M. Barber Theater, Northwestern’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts will launch three new productions and screen two others.

Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play,” May 15-24 at the Josephine Louis Theatre, is an adult comedy set in Victorian times about relationships, intimacy and personal connections.

“The Reluctant Dragon,” May 8-24, an Imagine U family production, at the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, is a children’s tale about a peaceful and poetry-loving dragon.

The 2015 Waa-Mu Show, “GOLD,” May 1-10, directed by Joseph Jefferson Award-winning director David H. Bell, pays tribute to the ambitious athletes who participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. A Northwestern tradition, it is the University’s 84th annual production.

In addition, the Wirtz Center’s Stage on Screen series will continue with a May 5 National Theatre Live broadcast of Tom Stoppard’s hit London play, “The Hard Problem,” and a May 26 broadcast of the Stratford Festival’s staging of Shakespeare’s “King John.”

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

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

APRIL/MAY 2015 MAINSTAGE PRODUCTIONS

Single tickets for the following 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.

• John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 24; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30; 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus. Reduced to poverty by the loss of their Oklahoma farm during the Dust Bowl, the Joad family piles their few possessions into a battered old truck and head west for California, hoping to find work and a better life. Led by the willful Ma Joad and her volatile young son Tom, the family encounters an epic journey, testing their resilience and calling on the strength in a community that is innately American. Steinbeck’s classic novel comes to life through song, movement and gritty portrayals in a theatrical adventure that is a moving affirmation of the essential goodness that is the foundation of the American spirit and family. Steinbeck’s novel has been adapted for the stage by Frank Galati and will be directed by School of Communication third year MFA student Aaron SnookTalkback discussions will follow the April 24 opening night, April 26 matinee and April 30 evening performances. Steppenwolf Artistic Director Martha Lavey will be a guest during the April 26 talkback. Call the Box Office for more information and rates, 847-491-7282. Single tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors over 62 and Northwestern faculty, staff and area educators; $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.

• Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 15; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 17; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 21; 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 22; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 23; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 24, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus. In a well-to-do Victorian home, proper gentleman and scientist Dr. Givings has innocently invented an extraordinary new device for treating “hysteria” in women: the vibrator. Adjacent to the doctor’s laboratory, his young and energetic wife tries to tend to their newborn daughter -- and wonders exactly what is going on in the next room. Directed by Lauren Shouse, a  School of Communication third-year MFA directing student, this comedy questions the nature of relationships and intimacy, and what it really means to seek a connection. Talkback discussions with the cast will follow the May 15 opening night, May 17 matinee and May 21 evening performances. Single tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors over 62 and Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators; $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.

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.

Imagine U, “The Reluctant Dragon,” 7 p.m. Friday, May 8; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, May 9; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, May 10; 2 p.m. Saturday, May 16; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, May 17; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, May 23; and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, May 24, at the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. The message of this quirky and heartwarming family-friendly tale is: “don’t let fear shield you from a great friendship.” Set in the outskirts of the English village of Guildemere, it follows a young boy who overcomes his prejudices about dragons when he discovers a most unusual dragon in a cave, who would rather paint watercolors and write poetry than fight and breathe fire. Their secret friendship flourishes until St. George, the famous dragon slayer, comes to town. The townspeople, seeing the opportunity for some excitement, tell St. George a variety of tall tales about the dragon's dastardly deeds and upon hearing their exaggerations, St. George swears that he will slay the dragon in mortal combat. However, the boy, the dragon and the knight arrive at a delightful compromise in this charming adaptation of the whimsical and delightful book by Kenneth Grahame. Directed by Northwestern faculty member Lynn Kelso, the hourlong show will feature a Northwestern student cast. Tickets are $10 for general public; $10 for full-time students with valid IDs (at the door); or $5 exclusively for full-time Northwestern students on advance purchases only. Discounts are available for groups of eight or more. For more information, phone 847-491-4819, visit the Wirtz Center website at www.wirtz.northwestern.edu or email wirtz@northwestern.edu.

WAA-MU SHOW 2015

The 84th Annual Waa-Mu Show, “GOLD,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 10; Northwestern University’s Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston campus. The 84th Annual Waa-Mu Show production is an original full-length musical inspired by the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Directed by David H. Bell, “GOLD” tells the story of ambitious athletes on their quest for glory at one of the most celebrated international competitions in history. The political unrest surrounding pre-World War II Germany brings a newfound tension to the traditional camaraderie and spirit of the games. The individuals who have trained their entire lives for this defining moment must, in the end, find the will to achieve their own personal best in a triumphant moment of shared victory. The new stage work is written, composed, choreographed and co-produced by more than 100 Northwestern students. The 2015 Waa-Mu Show senior co-chairs are Hannah Dunn, Kylie Mullins and Maxwell Rein. Tickets are $30 (Tier 1) or $25 (Tier 2) for the general public; $22 (Tier 2) for seniors, Northwestern faculty, staff, area educators and administrators; and $10 (Tier 2) for full-time students. Discounts are available for groups of eight or more. To purchase tickets, call 847-491-7282 or visit waamu.northwestern.edu.

STAGE ON SCREEN -- MAY 2015

National Theatre Live is the National Theatre’s groundbreaking project to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to venues across the United Kingdom and around the world. It is supported by public funding by Arts Council England and is supported by AVIVA, a British multinational insurance company. 

The Wirtz Center's Stage on Screen broadcasts are sponsored by a generous grant from The Alumnae of Northwestern University.

• National Theatre Live, “The Hard Problem” by Tom Stoppard, 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard (“Shakespeare in Love,” “Arcadia,” “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”) returns to the National Theatre with his highly anticipated new play “The Hard Problem,” directed by Nicholas Hytner (“Othello,” “Hamlet,” “One Man, Two Guvnors”). Hilary, a young psychology researcher at a brain science institute, is nursing a private sorrow and a troubling question at work, where psychology and biology meet. If there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness? This is “the hard problem” which puts Hilary at odds with her colleagues who include her first mentor Spike, her boss Leo and the billionaire founder of the institute, Jerry. Is the day coming when the computer and the fMRI scanner will answer all the questions psychology can ask? Meanwhile Hilary needs a miracle, and she is prepared to pray for one. Tickets are $20 for the general public; $16 for Northwestern faculty and staff (in-person or phone order only); or $10 for full-time students with valid IDs.

• Stratford Festival, “King John” by William Shakespeare, 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. When the rule of a hedonistic and mercurial king is questioned, rebellion, assassination and excommunication ensue, culminating in the chilling attempt to commit an atrocity against a child, whose mother’s anguished grief cannot atone for her blinkered ambitions for her son. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see Shakespeare’s King John, with commanding performances by Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Graham Abbey and Patricia Collins, and directed by Tim Carroll, whose recent Shakespeare productions took Broadway by storm. To view a 60-second video trailer visit, https://vimeo.com/118955557. Tickets are $20 for the general public; $16 for Northwestern faculty and staff (in-person or phone order only); or $10 for full-time students with valid IDs.  

ARTS CIRCLE DRIVE

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.

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