Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced today the full casting for the world premiere of MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT, co-written by ensemble members Tina Landau (SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical) and Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight, Academy Award). Conceived by Tina Landau, she also directs this true and little-known Chicago story that will star Tarell Alvin McCraney as Ms. Joan Jett Blakk. Joining McCraney in the cast are Patrick Andrews, Molly Brennan, Daniel Kyri, Jon Hudson Odom and Sawyer Smith.
Meet Ms. Joan Jett Blakk as she sets off on her journey to run for President of the United States. Inspired by the true story of America’s first black drag queen presidential candidate, Joan’s story begins in Chicago; it’s 1992 and, with the AIDS crisis at its height, Joan and the newly formed Queer Nation Chicago have big goals in mind. Joan sets off on an exhilarating and dangerous journey to drag queer politics out of the closet and into a future where ALL are visible and ALL have a place at the table. Part campaign rally, part nightclub performance, part confessional, and all PARTY!, MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT takes us into the heart and mind of one of Chicago’s most radical and influential citizens.
Previews begin May 23, 2019 (opening is June 3 at 7pm) and the production runs through July 14, 2019 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St. Single tickets ($20-$94) go on sale to the public Friday, March 15 through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Member pre-sale begins today at 11am.
Seating Options for MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT
With a production that is part campaign rally, part nightclub, part confessional and all PARTY, it’s absolutely fitting that the Upstairs Theatre undergo a fabulous makeover with all-new party zone seating options. The theater will include a runway with up-close seating (think Paris Fashion Week), as well as cabaret style café tables and comfy couch seating. If wallflower is the preference over the party zone, traditional theatre seating is also available for those who like to sit back and observe the action. Audience members can claim their spot in the party zone or traditional seating during ticket purchase.
Patrick Andrews loves being queer. Select stage: Angels in America (Broadway); American Buffalo (McCarter/Steppenwolf); The Book Thief (Steppenwolf); The Iceman Cometh (BAM/Goodman); RED (Arena/Goodman); God’s Fool (developing with Martha Clarke); The Normal Heart (Timeline); Parade, Do The Hustle (Writers); Metamorphoses (Lookingglass); The Homosexuals, The Pride, Stupid Kids (About Face); Speech and Debate, The People’s Temple (ATC); Cabaret (Drury Lane); Fosse (National Tour). Select Film: Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party (Netflix). Former member of electro-pop band BAATHHAUS, with an upcoming residency at Judson Church in NYC, and associated with About Face Theatre and multi-city artist collective GOLDMINE.
Molly Brennan is glad to be back at Steppenwolf. Recent Chicago credits include A Christmas Carol, Animal Crackers (Goodman Theatre); 500 Clown and the Elephant Deal, 500 Clown Macbeth, 500 Clown Frankenstein, Theatrical Essays (Steppenwolf); Lookingglass Alice, Thadeus and Slocum, Peter Pan, A Play (Lookingglass); Picnic (American Theatre Company); PopWaits (Neofuturists); Guide to the Opera (Second City at Lyric Opera) and Pinocchio (House Theatre of Chicago). Film credits: Signature Move, Low Key, Restoration. TV Credits: The Right Swipe. This summer she will return to co-host the Fly Honey Show Ten Year Anniversary. Molly is represented by Paonessa Talent.
Daniel Kyri is ecstatic to return to Steppenwolf where he was last seen in Monster. Other Chicago credits include: Hamlet (The Gift Theatre); the world premiere of Charles Smith's Objects in the Mirror (Goodman Theatre); Tug of War pt. I & II (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); and Moby Dick (Lookingglass Theatre). TV credits: Chicago Med, the T, and Chicago Fire. Film credits: Perfect Day, Unexpected, Henry Gamble's Birthday Party and the upcoming Killing Eleanor.
Jon Hudson Odom’s Chicago credits include On Clover Road (American Blues Theatre); Witch (Writers Theatre); A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre). Recent regional credits include: An Octoroon, Botticelli in the Fire (Woolly Mammoth Theatre); Angels in America parts 1 & 2 and Father Comes Home From the Wars parts 1, 2, & 3 (Round House Theatre); The Magic Play (Actors Theatre of Louisville). TV/Film Credits: Chicago PD and A Savage Nature. Jon is a three time nominee and a recipient of the Helen Hayes Awards. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth, an Artistic Associate at Olney Theatre Center, and represented by Paonessa Talent.
Sawyer Smith is thrilled to make their Steppenwolf debut! Chicago credits include: The Producers, CATS, RENT, A Chorus Line (Paramount Theater); Pippin, The Bardy Bunch, The Producers, The Addams Family (Mercury Theater); Rock Of Ages, Hairspray (Drury Lane Theater); First Date (Royal George); The Emperor’s New Clothes, Madagascar (Marriot Theater). Choreography Credits: The Fly Honey Show (The Inconvenience); Heathers: The Muscial (Kokandy Productions); Altar Boyz, The Full Monty (Theo Ubique); TITANIC, Spelling Bee (Griffin Theater). Sawyer is a Graduate of The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Playwright and Director Bios
Tarell Alvin McCraney is an acclaimed playwright and screenwriter. His script In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue is the basis for the Oscar-winning film Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins, for which McCraney and Jenkins won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. He also wrote the film High Flying Bird which recently premiered on Netflix directed by Steven Soderbergh. McCraney’s plays include The Brother/Sister Plays trilogy, Head of Passes, Wig Out! and Choir Boy, which is currently running on Broadway. McCraney is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, the Whiting Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, the Evening Standard Award, the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Windham Campbell Award, and a Doris Duke Artist Award. He is currently Chair of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama; an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre Chicago; and a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects. McCraney is currently working on an original scripted TV series, David Makes Man, for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, produced by Michael B. Jordan and Page Fright Productions.
Tina Landau an acclaimed writer, director and teacher, has been a Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble member since 1997. Her work at the theater includes The Doppelgänger (an international farce), Head of Passes, The Brother/Sister Plays, The Wheel, The Tempest, Time of Your Life, The Cherry Orchard, The Diary of Anne Frank, Berlin Circle and her own play Space. On Broadway, Tina conceived and directed SpongeBob Squarepants – The Musical, as well as productions of Superior Donuts and Bells Are Ringing. Other work in NYC includes Old Hats (Signature Theatre); A Civil War Christmas (New York Theatre Workshop); WIG OUT! (Vineyard Theatre); and the musical Floyd Collins (Playwrights Horizons) which she co-wrote. Tina teaches regularly at schools such as Yale and Columbia University and is the co-author, with Anne Bogart, of The Viewpoints Book.
MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT production team includes David Zinn (Scenic Design), Toni-Leslie James (Costume Design), Heather Gilbert (Lighting Design), Lindsey Jones (Sound Design), Rasean Davonte Johnson (Projection Design) and Gigi Buffington (Company Voice and Text Coach). Additional credits include Chris Freeburg (Stage Manager), Kat Barrett (Assistant Stage Manager), JC Clementz (Casting Director) and Hallie Gordon (Artistic Producer).
Title: MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT
Co-Authors: Ensemble members Tina Landau and Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directors: Ensemble member Tina Landau
Featuring: Ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney with Patrick Andrews, Molly Brennan, Daniel Kyri, Jon Hudson Odom and Sawyer Smith
Location: Upstairs Theatre, 1650 Halsted St
Dates: May 23 – July 14, 2019
Previews: May 23 – June 2, 2019
Press Performances: Monday, June 3 at 7pm and Wednesday, June 5 at 7:30pm
Opening: June 3, 2019 at 7pm
Regular Run: June 5 – July 14, 2019
American Sign Language Interpretation: Sunday, June 9 at 7:30pm
Open Captioning: Thursday, June 13 at 7:30 and Saturday, June 29 at 3pm
Audio Description and Touch Tour: Sunday, June 23 touch tour at 1:30; performance at 3pm
Curtain Times: Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm and 7:30pm; Wednesdays at 2pm
Previews: $20 – $82, Regular Run: $20– $94. Prices subject to change
20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available for subscription shows on the day of the performance at 11am (Mon – Sat) and 1pm (Sun), by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person.
Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.
Student Discounts: Limited $15 student tickets are available online. (Limit 2 tickets. Must present a valid student ID for each ticket). For additional student discounts, visit steppenwolf.org/students.
Group Tickets: All groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance.
Black Card Memberships are for audiences interested in extreme flexibility. Cards include six tickets for use any time, are valid for one year with the option to add additional tickets as needed. Perks include easy and free exchanges, access to seats before the general public, savings on single ticket prices and bar and restaurant discounts.
Red Card Memberships are available for theatergoers under 30.
More info at steppenwolf.org/memberships
Audience Services: For tickets or more information, contact Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St) at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation, bike racks and Divvy bike stands. The parking facility ($13 or $15, cash or card) is located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ($15 cash) is available directly in front of the main entrance starting at 5pm on weeknights, 1pm on weekends and at 12noon before Wednesday matinees. Limited street and lot parking are also available. For last minute questions and concerns, patrons can call the Steppenwolf Parking Hotline at 312.335.1774.
Committed to making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to everyone, performances featuring American Sign Language Interpretation, Open Captioning and Audio Description are offered during the run of each play. Assistive listening devices and large-print programs are available for every performance and the Downstairs and 1700 Theatres are each equipped with an induction hearing loop. All theaters feature wheelchair accessible seating and restrooms, and Front Bar features a push-button entrance, all-gender restrooms and accessible counter and table spaces.
United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf.
Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks
Connected to the main lobby is Steppenwolf’s own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, offering a warm, creative space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Open Tuesdays – Sundays from 8am to midnight, Front Bar serves artisanal coffee and espresso is provided by La Colombe and food prepared by Goddess and Grocer. The menu focuses on fresh, accessible fare, featuring grab-and-go salads and sandwiches for lunch and adding shareable small plates and desserts for evening and post show service. www.front bar.com.
Year of Chicago Theatre
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is proud to be part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. Home to a community of creators, risk-takers, and big hearts, Chicago theatre is a hotbed for exciting new work and hundreds of world premieres every year. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s always a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres. Book your next show today at ChicagoPlays.com.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble members represents a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to Pass Over and Downstate—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.
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