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Northwestern University Theater and Dance in May

Henry Godinez to direct Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz’s “Anna in the Tropics”

  • 85th annual Waa-Mu Show directed by 11-time Jeff Award winner David H. Bell
  • Imagine U to present “Wee-Mu 2016” and four encore performances of “Balloonacy”
  • NT Live broadcast of Martin McDonagh’s London stage hit “Hangmen”
  • “Full Circle” concert includes work by Hubbard Street Dance’s Robyn Mineko Williams

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A re-envisioned Shakespeare play presented in cooperation with The Actors Gymnasium; a Pulitzer-Prize winning play by Nilo Cruz set in Cuba; and the 85th installment of The Waa-Mu Show are among the Northwestern University theater-related offerings taking place on the Evanston campus in May.

Presented by the School of Communication, the events will be held on the University’s Evanston campus in performance venues in or near the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, as noted. 

Additional May events will include two Imagine U family productions -- “Wee-Mu 2016,” an interactive musical exploration for young audiences on May 7, and four encore performances of Barry Kornhauser’s “Balloonacy,” a mime show about friendship for children age two and older, the weekend of May 28-29.

Other programs include a National Theatre Live broadcast of Martin McDonagh’s London stage hit “Hangmen” on May 17; performances of “Full Circle,” the 2016 Senior Dance Concert, May 12-14; and two MFA Lab Series productions -- Mark Schultz’s “Everything Will Be Different,” May 13-15, and Will Eno’s “Middletown,” which will be presented from May 27-29. 

More information related to the Wirtz Center’s upcoming events follow. For additional information or to purchase tickets, visit or contact the Wirtz Center Box Office at 847-491-7282.  


  • William Shakepeare’s “The Tempest,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 22; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 24; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Wirtz Center’s Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Through movement, original music and Shakespeare’s transcendent language, this 90-minute production re-imagines “The Tempest” on an island where its primal magic is conjured in the bodies and voices of a nine-actor ensemble. The omniscient Prospero stands apart, wielding the island’s power to manipulate monsters and spirits, kings and drunkards, a treacherous sibling and a daughter in love. But is Prospero’s ability to control the forces around him worth the isolation it brings? The role of Prospero will be portrayed by Northwestern alumnus and theatre faculty member David Catlin, a founding member of the Lookingglass Theatre Company, the recipient of the 2011 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. The School of Communication production will be directed by Hannah Todd, a third-year directing MFA candidate at Northwestern University, in cooperation with The Actors Gymnasium, an Evanston-based organization specializing in circus, aerial and performing arts classes for adults and kids, theater shows and award-winning event entertainment. Tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for Northwestern faculty and staff and seniors over the age 62, and $10 for full-time students under age 30 with a current ID; and $5 for Northwestern students on advance purchase only, or $10 at the door. 
  • “Anna in the Tropics” by Nilo Cruz, 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 13; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 15; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19; 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 22; at the Wirtz Center’s Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive. Set in 1929 Florida, with factory mechanization on the rise, a group of Cuban immigrants maintain the cigar rolling industry with pride and tradition. As they toil away in the factory hand rolling each cigar, a well-dressed and well-spoken lector arrives and reads Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” to them, igniting their passions even as they struggle to uphold tradition in the face of encroaching modernity. Henry Godinez, Goodman Theatre resident artistic associate and Northwestern School of Communication professor of  theatre, directs this Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the threat of change in a world where time is money, and the efficiency of encroaching machination makes factory workers irrelevant. A post-show discussion will follow the Friday, May 13, and Thursday, May 19 evening performances. Tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for Northwestern staff and faculty members, educators and seniors 65 and older; $10 for full-time students under age 30 with valid IDs; and $5 for Northwestern students with advance purchase only or $10 at the door.


  • The 85th Annual Waa-Mu Show, “Another Way West,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 1; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 5; 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston campus. The Waa-Mu Show is Northwestern University’s original musical -- written, performed and presented by Northwestern students. This year’s show follows an ambitious student named Kate, who sets off on a research expedition across the Oregon Trail to solve a mystery left by the journal of her ancestor and namesake, Kathleen O’Reilly. The journal entries bring history to new life along the trail where the modern-day and past adventures intertwine. Kate looks to the past for guidance and Kathleen to the future for hope, as they both forge their formidable journeys towards finding a new understanding of home. The Waa-Mu Show is directed by the School of Communication’s David H. Bell, professor of music theatre. Bell, who also is an internationally renowned professional director, has worked extensively worldwide and has been nominated for 44 Joseph Jefferson (“Jeff”) awards, winning 11. Tickets for the general public range from $25 to $30; $22 for seniors over age 62, Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators/administrators, and $10 for full-time students with current IDs. More information about this year’s production is available online.


Now in its fifth year, Imagine U productions are geared toward children and their families. Performances often include an opportunity for children to interact afterwards with the cast and receive colorful take-home programs filled with activities, art projects, fun facts and games.

  • Imagine U, “Wee-Mu 2016: An interactive musical exploration for young audiences,” 11 a.m. Saturday, May 7, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston campus. With lights, costumes, song and dance, award-winning Northwestern faculty member Ryan T. Nelson and members of the Waa-Mu Show will lead young audiences through the process of putting together a brand new musical. The event is a behind-the-scenes glimpse of “the greatest college show in America.” It provides special interactive access with the cast, crew and creative team of this year’s 85th annual production “Another Way West.” This playful and fun-filled hour at Cahn Auditorium is recommended for children ages 5 to 10 and their families. The program, which is co-presented by the Waa-Mu Show and Imagine U, will feature hands-on demonstrations about musical instruments, choreography and singing. All seats just $5.
  • Imagine U, “Balloonacy” by Barry Kornhauser, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, May 28, and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at the Wirtz Center’s Mussetter-Struble Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Evanston campus. Back by popular demand following a sold-out run this past winter, “Balloonacy” tells the story of a lonely old man who discovers an unlikely friendship -- a red balloon that unexpectedly floats through his window. Set in his solitary ways, the old man begrudgingly encounters the balloon that seems intent on becoming his friend. Packed with physical comedy that will charm and delight young audiences of all ages, this award-winning play -- recommended for children ages 2 and older -- shows how with a little imagination and acceptance, companionship can come from the most unlikely of places. The Imagine U family production will be directed by Kathryn Walsh. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for children and Northwestern University students with IDs.


Stage on Screen presents the best of international theater capture live for the big screen. 

National Theatre Live (NT Live) is the National Theatre's groundbreaking project to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas across the United Kingdom and around the world.

  • Stage on Screen, NT Live: “Hangmen” by Martin McDonagh, 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at the Wirtz Center’s Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Following a sold-out run at London’s Royal Court Theatre, Olivier and Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh (“The Pillowman,” “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” “In Bruges”) returns to the West End with director Matthew Dunster’s award-winning production of McDonagh’s funny new play “Hangmen,” broadcast live to cinemas by National Theatre Live. Set in his small pub in the northern English town of Oldham, Harry (David Morrissey -- “The Walking Dead,” “State of Play”) is something of a local celebrity. But what's the second-best hangman in England to do on the day they've abolished hanging? Amongst the cub reporters and pub regulars dying to hear Harry’s reaction to the news, his old assistant Syd (Andy Nyman -- “Peaky Blinders,” “Death at a Funeral”) and the peculiar Mooney (Johnny Flynn -- “Clouds of Sils Maria”) lurk with very different motives for their visit. The show’s two-hour and 40-minute running time includes a 20-minute intermission. Tickets are $20 for the general public; $16 staff and faculty (in-person or phone orders only); and $10 for full-time student under the age of 30 with current IDs. Watch Video Trailer online. 


  • “FULL CIRCLE: The 2016 Senior Dance Concert,” 8 p.m. Thursday, May 12; 8 p.m. Friday, May 13; and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Wirtz Center’s Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center’s Ballroom Studio, 10 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. This year’s showcase features diverse and thought-provoking pieces that will expose audiences to the unlimited artistic expressions in dance. Directed by School of Communication faculty member Susan A. Lee, professor of dance, the concert will include choreography by soon-to-graduate Northwestern senior dance majors Ariel Harper, Annalissa Hartsell, Paige Lester and Sarah Morimoto, and visiting guest artist Robyn Mineko Williams of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The concert will showcase the original choreography of the four senior dance majors, which will be performed by an ensemble of student dancers that will include Harper, Hartsell and Lester and guest artist Sarah Morimoto. The senior dance majors also will perform a work by guest artist Robyn Mineko Williams. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for students with current IDs. 


The MFA Lab series matches promising young theatre directors from the School of Communication’s Master of Fine Arts (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 risk-taking productions of plays by today's most groundbreaking writers. 

  • MFA Lab Series production, “Everything Will Be Different” by Mark Schultz, 8 p.m. Friday, May 13; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday May 14; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 15, at the Wirtz Center’s Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Evanston campus. Inspired by Euripides, but with its sights set firmly on contemporary America, “Everything Will Be Different: A Brief History of Helen of Troy,” charts a teenager's mind-bending odyssey to escape her childhood and fill the gaping hole that's been hollowed out by grief. Directed by M.F.A. candidate Susan E. Bowen, the play follows 15-year-old Charlotte, who is grieving over the loss of her beautiful mother. Her relationship with her father is put to the test as she discovers sex, ambition and “beauty products.” Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for Northwestern University students.
  • MFA Lab Series production, “Middletown” by Will Eno, 8 p.m. Friday, May 27; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 28; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at the Wirtz Center’sHal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Evanston campus. Deftly painted by Pulitzer Prize finalist Will Eno, “Middletown” is a playful, poignant portrait of a town with two lives. Directed by M.F.A. directing candidate Sonny Das, it follows Mary Swanson, who has just moved to Middletown -- ready to start a family and eager for a small-town community. But life there is complicated by neighbors who are almost strangers, strangers who are almost friends, and moments of connection that are both sincere and fleeting. In a world where one is defined by their role, what happens when a person no longer knows what that role is, or perhaps never did? Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for Northwestern University students.
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