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Northwestern University Theater in June, July and August

SummerStage 2016 offers an array of entertaining programs for all ages

  • Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project ‘Songwriters In Concert’
  • “HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” set in the 1960s
  • Imagine U presents “Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play”
  • NT Live Encores star British comic/TV host James Corden, actor Benedict Cumberbatch

EVANSTON, Ill. --- SummerStage 2016, Northwestern University’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Performing Arts Center line-up of summer entertainment, includes stage productions, dance and broadcast screenings of international theatre. 

Events include The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, “Songwriters in Concert” on June 25, featuring a special guest performance by legendary and prolific songwriter Alan Bergman (“Nice ‘n’ Easy,” “Yellow Bird,” “The Way We Were”); a mainstage production of the American musical “HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” running July 15-31; and performances of Imagine U production of “Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play!” July 30-Aug. 7.

SummerStage programming also includes two National Theatre Live Encores: “One Man, Two Guvnors,” Aug. 2, starring British comedian and CBS “Late Late Show” host James Corden, and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Aug. 3, featuring Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, (BBC’s “Sherlock,” the 2014 film “The Imitation Game,” “Frankenstein” at the National Theatre) in the lead role. 

Tickets for each event are on sale now online through The Box Office will be open for phone and in-person sales on May 24. For more SummerStage 2016 information, visit

Single tickets and discounted tickets for groups of eight will go on sale online May 10 at and can be purchased through the Wirtz Center Box Office starting May 24 at 847-491-7282. Ticket prices are noted below. 


The following SummerStage 2016 season events will be held in venues on the University’s Evanston campus, including the recently renovated Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive; and the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, as noted.


  • The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, “Songwriters In Concert,” 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at the Josephine Louis Theater. An intimate one-night-only concert featuring the new work of emerging songwriters from around the world in genres from pop to folk to music theatre to country and more. The concert also will include a special guest performance by legendary songwriter Alan Bergman. “Songwriters In Concert” is the closing celebration of The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, a weeklong intensive for emerging professional songwriters in all genres held annually each June on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University. The highly competitive program attracts applicants from around the world and invites 12 songwriters or songwriting teams to spend a week in residence working with three award-winning professional master teachers. The program honors the legacy of Johnny Mercer by fostering the tradition of mentorship that Mercer was committed to throughout his career. Master teachers have included award-winning artists Craig Carnelia, Marcy Heisler, Jon Lind, Andrew Lippa, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Amanda McBroom, Lari White and David Zippel. Tickets are $30 for the general public; $27 for Northwestern staff and faculty members and seniors age 65 and older; and $10 for full-time students with current Northwestern IDs.


  • “HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical,” from July 15 through July 31, at the Ethel M. Barber Theater. It’s the end of the 1960s in New York City where Claude’s young life converges with an eclectic group of long-haired hippies who invite him to join the “tribe.” There he is introduced to the hippie counter-culture and the sexual revolution that scandalized American society during the war-torn Vietnam era. But their love-filled and radical way of life is thrown into disarray when Claude is drafted and the tribe is torn apart. Bridging generations and viewpoints, “HAIR” is the first musical to electrify Broadway with an infused rock-n-roll score featuring the enduring songs “Let the Sun Shine In,” “Aquarius,” “Hair” and “Good Morning Starshine.” “HAIR” includes book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. The production will be directed by Matt Hawkins. NOTE: this production contains explicit content, partial nudity, simulated drug use, sexual content and violence. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 15; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 17; 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 22; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 24: 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 29; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 31. Tickets are $30 for the general public, $27 for Northwestern staff and faculty, and seniors 65 and older; and $10 for full-time students with a current Northwestern ID.


  • Imagine U Presents: “Elephant And Piggie’s We Are in a Play!” July 30 through Aug. 7, at the Ethel M. Barber Theater. Get ready for a hilarious songfest ripped from the pages of Mo Willems’ award-winning “Elephant and Piggie” children's books for young readers that will leave audiences doing the “Flippy Floppy Floory” dance all night long. Elephant Gerald and Piggie are the best of friends. Worrisome and careful Gerald wonders if something could go wrong that would end their friendship. But playful and spirited Piggie is not worried at all, especially when she receives an invitation to a party hosted by the Squirrelles, three singing squirrels who love to have a good time. And so begins a day when anything is possible in an imaginative musical romp that playfully explores the importance and true meaning of friendship. The show’s book and lyrics are by Mo Willems and the music by Deborah Wicks La Puma. Performances will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 31; 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6; and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7. All tickets for the Aug. 4 performance will be sold for only $8. Tickets for all other dates are $12 for the general public and $10 for children 18 and under and Northwestern students.


  • NT Live Encore: “One Man, Two Guvnors” 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, Ethel M. Barber Theater. One of the funniest productions in National Theatre Live (NT Live) history, featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from the host of CBS’ “The Late Late Show,” James Corden, the uproarious “One Man, Two Guvnors” was a runaway hit both in London’s West End and on Broadway. Fired from his skiffle band, Francis Henshall becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe, a small-time East End hood, now in Brighton to collect £6,000 from his fiancée’s dad. But Roscoe is really his sister Rachel posing as her own dead brother, who’s been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers. Holed up at The Cricketers’ Arms, the permanently ravenous Francis spots the chance of an extra meal ticket and takes a second job with one Stanley Stubbers, who is hiding from the police and waiting to be re-united with Rachel. To prevent discovery, Francis must keep his two guvnors apart. Tickets are $20 for the general public; $16 for Northwestern staff and faculty members and seniors 65 and older (in-person or phone order only) or $10 for full-time students with IDs.
  • NT Live Encore: “Hamlet,” 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, Ethel M. Barber Theater. Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s “Sherlock,” “The Imitation Game,” “Frankenstein” at the National Theatre) takes on the title role of Shakespeare’s great tragedy. Directed by Lyndsey Turner (“Posh,” “Chimerica”) and produced by Sonia Friedman Productions. As a country arms itself for war, a family tears itself apart. Forced to avenge his father’s death but paralyzed by the task ahead, Hamlet rages against the impossibility of his predicament, threatening both his sanity and the security of the state. Running Time: 3 hours and 20 minutes (including a 20-minute intermission). Watch a Video Trailer.

More information is available online.

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