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Wirtz season highlights award-winning playwrights and new voices

Danceworks, Waa-Mu Show and Kennedy Center-bound production round out 2017/2018 season

Wirtz Center will stage works by Stephen Sondheim, Laura Schellhardt and Tarell Alvin McCraney
Wirtz Center will stage works by Stephen Sondheim, Laura Schellhardt and Tarell Alvin McCraney

EVANSTON -- A young woman sacrifices her ambition and falls into the murky waters of life; a 17th-century witch hunt illuminates the modern-day oppression of women; a visit to post-Soviet Russia blurs the lines between folk tales and reality; and a band of teens strive to escape the residents of a villainous island.

These explosive stories of innocence and experience are showcased in Northwestern University’s Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts 2017/2018 season.

Season offerings include “In the Red and Brown Water” by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Academy Award-winning writer of “Moonlight;” “Vinegar Tom,” a feminist classic by Caryl Churchill; six-time Tony Award-winning musical “Company” by Stephen Sondheim; and the world premiere of “Ever in the Glades,” an adventurous new work by Laura Schellhardt.

Subscription packages are now available on the Wirtz Center website. Online single ticket sales begin Sept. 5, and phone and walk up sales begin Sept. 19.

The Wirtz Center box office is located in the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

The complete 2017/2018 Wirtz Center Mainstage season includes:

“In the Red and Brown Water”
by Tarell Alvin McCraney
directed by Henry Godinez and Jerrell L. Henderson
Oct. 12 to 29
Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive

How far will fast, beautiful Oya go to make a mark in the world? Written by the Academy Award-winning writer of “Moonlight,” this acclaimed play is an intoxicating story that charts a young girl's thrust into womanhood and her subsequent fall into the murky waters of life. The production will be the centerpiece of the 2017 Black Arts Initiative International Conference: Temporalities and Territories, hosted by Northwestern University. Please be advised this production contains strong language.

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

“Company”
music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
book by George Furth
directed by William Brown
Nov. 3 to 19
Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive

From musical theater's most renowned composer, Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” is largely regarded as a trailblazer of the dark-comedy, modern-musical genre and is the winner of six Tony Awards including best musical. Jeff Award-winning director and TimeLine Theatre associate artist William Brown directs this witty musical that takes a pointed look at marriage and friendship. The brisk and energetic score includes showstoppers such as “Ladies Who Lunch,” “Getting Married Today” and “Side by Side by Side.”

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

“Vinegar Tom” 
by Caryl Churchill 
directed by Lee Hannah Conrads (M.F.A. directing candidate)
Feb. 2 to 11
Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive

Inspired by the Women’s Rights act in 1970 and the epic theater style of Bertolt Brecht, “Vinegar Tom” uses a 17th century witch hunt to reveal the past and present oppression of women. Playwright Caryl Churchill shows how marginalized women, who did not fit into the narrow social categories of the patriarchy, were often labelled witches for little reason other than their non-conformity.

 Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

“Twelfth Night”
by William Shakespeare 
directed by Jeffrey Mosser (M.F.A. directing candidate)
Feb. 16 to 25, 2018
Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive

Following a shipwreck, twin brother and sister Sebastian and Viola are separated in the land of Illyria. Viola assumes a new life as “Cesario” and enters the service of the Duke, who longs for the love of the neighboring Countess. However, the Countess finds Cesario more to her liking. Deception, disguise and the madness of love take center stage in one of the Bard’s greatest romantic comedies.

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

“Danceworks 2018: @ Hi-speed”
artistic direction by Joel Valentín-Martínez
March 2 to 11, 2018
Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive

This evening-length program features groundbreaking choreography by faculty and guest artists performed by Northwestern dance students. Guest artists include Carrie Hanson, artistic director of The Seldoms, Nejla Yatkin, whose site-specific dance projects have been performed around the world and Vershawn Sanders-Ward, founder of Red Clay Dance Company. 

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

“The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls”
by Meg Miroshnik 
directed by Caitlin Lowans (M.F.A. directing candidate)
April 27 to May 6, 2018
Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive

Once upon a time, in 2005, a young woman named Annie returns to her native Russia to lose her American accent. Underneath a glamorous post-Soviet Moscow studded with dangerously high heels and luxurious fur coats, bubbles an enchanted motherland teeming with wicked witches, evil stepmothers and ravenous bears. As lines between folk tale and reality disappear, Annie must become the heroine of an adventure more dangerous than any childhood fairytale -- her own. This subversive story carries a powerful message for young women living in a world where there are no princes and not everything ends happily ever after. 

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

World premiere
“Ever in the Glades”
by Laura Schellhardt
directed by Rives Collins
May 18 to 27, 2018
Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive

Five teenagers are growing up on a fictional island in the Everglades where the adults are as dangerous as the gators.  When one of the kids returns from Juvenile Detention to help the rest escape to the mainland, it seems their prayers have been answered.  There's only one problem -- they need a boat, and they need it before the adults catch wind of their plan and end it, or end them.  This world premiere production will transfer to the Kennedy Center following its Wirtz Center run.

 Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Special Event
The 87th Waa-Mu Show
directed by David H. Bell
May 4 to 13, 2018
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street

The Wirtz Center will present the 87th installment of the Waa-Mu Show, continuing its mission to place itself at the forefront of new musical theater writing. Directed by David H. Bell, the Waa-Mu Show continues its legacy as the “greatest college show in America.”  

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Advance Waa-Mu tickets are available now through December with the purchase of a 2017/2018 mainstage season subscription. Single tickets will go on sale in January of 2018. 

Subscription Packages

Wirtz Center Mainstage subscription prices are $148 for the general public, $132 for seniors (62+) and area educators, $100 for Northwestern University faculty and staff, $56 for area students and $28 for Northwestern University students. 

The Wirtz Center box office is located in the lobby of the Ethel M. Barber Theater at 30 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. 

Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.  The Box Office is closed on Sunday and Monday. 

For more information visit the Wirtz Center website or call the box office at 847-491-7282.

The Wirtz Center is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.  

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