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Northwestern Theater in June

Dance program, Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Concert and Stage on Screen among events

  • Jump Rhythm Jazz Project’s all-new dance program toasts the ensemble’s Northwestern ties
  • Annual Johnny Mercer “Songwriters in Concert” celebrates its 10th anniversary on June 27
  • NT Live broadcasts of “Man and Superman,” “A View from the Bridge,” “The Audience”
  • “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South” a one-man show that shares oral histories  

EVANSTON, Ill. --- June is a month of lively and diverse theatrical events on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

In addition to a two-night concert featuring an all-new dance program by Jump Rhythm Project, a popular Chicago-based ensemble that will toast its ties to Northwestern, The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project will commemorate its 10th anniversary with new melodies and lyrics by 15 young songwriters from across the country.  

Northwestern’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts also will present Stage on Screen broadcasts of three critically acclaimed National Theatre Live productions, including Bernard Shaw’s “Man and Superman” starring Ralph Fiennes; Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” with Mark Strong, and an encore presentation of Peter Morgan’s “The Audience ” with Helen Mirren’s portrayal of Britain’s long-reigning Queen Elizabeth II. 

The Wirtz Center also will host the School of Communication’s department of performance studies special stage presentation of “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South,” through June 7. The one-man show, which was written and is performed by Northwestern faculty member and performance artist E. Patrick Johnson, is based on the narratives in Johnson’s 2008 book, “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South – An Oral History” (University of North Carolina Press.)

All June 2015 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 or email


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

• “Jump Rhythm: Getting Down, Going Forward,” 8 p.m. Friday, June 12 and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 13, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Jump Rhythm Jazz Project (JRJP), described by the Chicago Reader as “a miracle of inventive energy,” returns to the Louis Theater with an all-new program of dance that celebrates the legacy of Northwestern University’s influence on one of Chicago’s most beloved dance companies. Curated by artistic director Billy Siegenfeld, a member of the School of Communication’s dance program faculty, “Jump Rhythm: Getting Down, Going Forward” features several new works from JRJP company members Brandi Coleman (adjunct Northwestern faculty member), Kevin Durnbaugh (Northwestern alumnus), as well as current Northwestern students whose work is influenced by the famed Jump Rhythm® Technique. Using their bodies and voices to bring human stories to life with powerful energy and honest emotion, this joyous concert looks forward to the lasting influence of Jump Rhythm® Jazz Project across generations of choreographers, dancers and audiences. For more information about the dance company, visit Tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors (over 62), Northwestern University faculty/staff and educators; and $10 for full-time students at the door or $5 for Northwestern students on advance purchases only.

The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, “Songwriters in Concert,” 8 p.m. Saturday, June 27, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project completes its weeklong workshop with “Songwriters In Concert” -- a one-night-only program featuring the new work of 15 emerging songwriters from around the country in genres ranging from pop and folk to music theatre and country. Also featured in this celebratory concert will be the 2015 Master Teachers: Craig Carnelia, Andrew Lippa and Lari White, along with special guests -- Mercer Songwriters Project alumni and Drama Desk nominated songwriters Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair. For more information about The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, visit www.mercersongwriters.orgTickets are $30 for the general public; $27 for seniors (over 62), Northwestern University faculty/staff and educator; and $10 for full-time students at the door or $5 for Northwestern students on advance purchases only.


“Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 29; (no performance on Saturday, May 30); 2 p.m. Sunday, May 31; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 3; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 4; 7:30 Friday, June 5; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 7, Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Northwestern University Evanston campus. “Sweet Tea,” written and performed by E. Patrick Johnson, is directed by Joseph Megel, producer, creative advisor and collaborator, and produced by Jane M. Saks. Based on Johnson’s book, “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South,” it is an exploration into the Southern, black, gay community. With oral histories shared, often for the first time on porches, in living rooms and under the generous shade of oak trees, Johnson tells the story of a community that has long existed in the South, but has yet to be explored within its own narratives. Against the backdrop of both progressive and regressive legislation, racially motivated violence and the resulting #BlackLivesMatter movement, “Sweet Tea” delves into the perceptions, angst, triumphs and vulnerabilities of this minority within a minority. Johnson reinforces the spoken-word tradition while challenging stereotypes, and finding humor, humanity and hope within. “Sweet Tea” is produced by Jane M. Saks and Project&. It is co-sponsored by the Black Arts Initiative and One Book, One Northwestern. Tickets are $15 for the general public; $10 seniors (over 62), Northwestern University faculty/staff, educators and full-time students at the door; or $5 for Northwestern students on advance purchases only.


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. Tickets for each of the following June broadcasts 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. 

National Theatre Live, Bernard Shaw’s “Man and Superman,” starring Ralph Fiennes, 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes (“The English Patient,” “Schindler’s List,” “Oedipus” at the National Theatre) plays Jack Tanner in this exhilarating reinvention of Shaw’s witty and provocative classic. Tanner, a celebrated radical thinker and rich bachelor, seems an unlikely choice as guardian to the alluring heiress, Ann. But she takes it in her assured stride and, despite the love of a poet, she decides to marry and tame this dazzling revolutionary. Tanner, appalled by the whiff of domesticity, is tipped off by his chauffeur and flees to Spain, where he is captured by bandits and meets The Devil. An extraordinary dream-debate, heaven versus hell, ensues. Following in hot pursuit, Ann is there when Tanner awakes, as fierce in her certainty as he is in his. A romantic comedy, an epic fairytale, a fiery philosophical debate, “Man and Superman” asks fundamental questions about how we live. Watch the video trailer

National Theatre Live, Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge,” 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Mark Strong (“The Imitation Game,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”) stars in the Young Vic’s bold production of “A View from the Bridge,” Britain’s Evening Standard, Guardian and Independent’s top theatre pick of 2014. The great Arthur Miller confronts the American dream in this dark and passionate tale. In Brooklyn, longshoreman Eddie Carbone welcomes his Sicilian cousins to the land of freedom. But when one of them falls for his beautiful niece, they discover that freedom comes at a price. Eddie’s jealous mistrust exposes a deep, unspeakable secret -- one that drives him to commit the ultimate betrayal. The visionary Ivo van Hove directs this stunning production of Miller’s tragic masterpiece, broadcast from London’s West End by National Theatre Live. 

National Theatre Live, Peter Morgan’s “The Audience,” 7 p.m. Thursday, June 25, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Helen Mirren reprises her Academy Award-winning role as Queen Elizabeth II in an encore screening of the original West End production of “The Audience,” captured live in London in 2013, and featuring an exclusive new Q&A with key members of the cast and creative team. For 60 years, Queen Elizabeth II has met with each of her 12 Prime Ministers in a private weekly meeting. This meeting is known as The Audience. No one knows what they discuss, not even their spouses. From the old warrior Winston Churchill, to the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, right up to today’s meetings with the current incumbent David Cameron, the Queen advises her Prime Ministers on all matters both public and personal. Through these private audiences, we see glimpses of the woman behind the crown and witness the moments that shaped a monarch. The production is directed by Stephen Daldry. 


After nearly three years of construction, Northwestern University’s Arts Circle Drive has reopened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The road, drive-up handicap access to all Wirtz Center theaters, the pedestrian path along 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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