Theater Wit Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler announced casting today for the entire 2017-18 season of comedic, contemporary plays at Chicago’s popular “smart art” theater at 1229 N. Belmont Ave. in Lakeview.
First is Significant Other by Joshua Harmon, author of Wit’s 2015 smash hit Bad Jews, in a co-production with About Face Theatre. Leading the cast is AFT Artistic Associate Alex Weisman as Jordan Berman, a single gay man on the verge of his 30s in New York City, whose close group of girlfriends are starting to get married en masse. AFT Artistic Associate Benjamin Sprunger, with Ninos Baba, Amanda Drinkall, Tiffany Oglesby, Cassidy Slaughter-Mason and Ann Whitney, round out the cast in Harmon’s romantic comedy about friendship, singlehood and hoping you're not the one left choking on car exhaust as the "Just Married" sign disappears from view. Performances are November 2–December 10, 2017. Press opening is Wednesday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now atTheaterWit.org, or by calling 773.975.8150.
Weisman (Jordan) appeared in TimeLine Theatre’s The History Boys, winning the Equity Jeff Award for Supporting Actor in a Play. He has since performed in many Chicago productions, including The Tempermentals last season at About Face. Weisman makes his Broadway debut next spring in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Sprunger (Will, Tony, Conrad) has appeared in seven AFT productions including Take Me Out, The Homosexualsand The Pride, and on stages throughout Chicago. Baba (Zach, Evan, Roger) performed in AFT’s I Am My Own Wife, and in King Lear, Death of a Salesman and The Comedy of Errorsat American Players Theatre. Drinkall’s (Laura) Chicago credits include King Charles III at Chicago Shakespeare, Mary Page Marlowe at Steppenwolf, and Ah Wilderness!, Venus in Fur and Measure for Measure at the Goodman. Drinkall won a Jeff Award for Best Actress in Haven Theatre’s Last Train to Nibroc. Oglesby (Vanessa) recently appeared as Grace in Definition Theatre’s An Octoroon and truth and reconciliation at Sideshow. Slaughter-Mason (Kiki) performed in Rapture, Blister, Burn at Goodman Theatre, Animal Farm for Steppenwolf for Young Adults, and New Colony’s Scapegoat. Whitney (Helene), a veteran Chicago actor, was last seen at Northlight in Relativity where she also appeared in Quilters,Driving Miss Daisy (Sarah Siddons Award) Other Chicago credits include appearances at Marriott Lincolnshire, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Court, ATC, Next, Steppenwolf, Mercury Theatre, Goodman Theatre and Apple Tree.
About Face Theatre Artistic Associate Keira Fromm directs Significant Other. Designers are Jeff Kmiec (set), Noël Huntzinger (costumes) and Christopher Kriz (sound). Helen Lattyak is stage manager. Tickets are on sale now at TheaterWit.org, or by calling 773.975.8150.
Will Allan, Anu Bhatt, Mary Winn Heider, Evan Linder, Edward Mawere and Annie Munch will horse around on stage in The Antelope Party, Eric John Meyer’s new comedy about adult fans of My Little Pony. (Yes, there is such a thing. Director Jeremy Wechsler attended their convention this summer in Baltimore. Stay tuned for the blog post.)
Meyer’s play is set in the 2010s in the Philadelphia apartment of Brony Ben where the Rust Belt Ponies Meet Up Group for Adult Fans of My Little Pony is gathering. But two members of the My Little Pony adult cult have not yet arrived. What happened to their Pegasister, Maggie? Why is Brony Doug so paranoid? What does it all have to do with the 9/11 truthers and an emerging group of "concerned citizens?" In the midst of the rise of a new social order, increasing violence and authoritarianism, is it still possible for our heroes to see the magic in Everypony? Even worse, what if they do? Performances are January 5-February 24, 2018. Press opening is Monday, January 15 at 7 p.m.
Allan (Shawn) was last seen in Ah, Wilderness! at the Goodman; The Flick, Good People,Animal Farm, The March and A Separate Peace at Steppenwolf; The Seagull and Dartmoor Prison (Goodman); The History Boys (TimeLine) and The Whale (Victory Gardens). Bhatt (Maggie) is an actor and Indian classical dancer with credits including A Disappearing Number at TimeLine and The Burials at Steppenwolf (u/s). Mary Winn Heider (Jean) appeared at Theater Wit as Sherry in Tigers Be Still. She has also performed with Strawdog Theater, The Other Theater Company, Redmoon Theater, ATC and The House Theater. She is a company member with Barrel of Monkeys and can be seen in their long-running show, That’s Weird, Grandma. Linder (Doug) is a founding member and the artistic director of The New Colony in Chicago. He recently played Stuart in Broken Nose Theatre’s At the Table (2017 Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best Play and Best Ensemble) and Jim in the remount of his play Byhalia, Mississippi, (2016 Non-Equity Jeff Award for New Work). Mawere’s (Ben) recent credits include the Chicago premieres of You on The Moors Now(The Hypocrites) and BootyCandy (Windy City Playhouse). Munch (Rachel) was one of the seven actresses who played Mary Page Marlowe at Steppenwolf in 2016, and was featured for two seasons as Nomi Mark’s younger sister Teagen in the popular Netflix series Sense8.
Jeremy Wechsler directs. Designers are Joe Schermoly (set, recently nominated for a Jeff Award for his set design for Theater Wit’s Naperville last season), Karen Krolak (costumes), Diane Fairchild (lights), Jeffrey Levin (sound) and Jesse Gaffney (props).
Echaka Agba, Japhet Balaban, Jennifer Engstrom and Daniella Pereira will star in Wit’s Chicago premiere of Women Laughing Alone with Salad. This meta-feminist Internet meme turned satirical comedy by Sheila Callaghan gets tossed on stage as a crisp, four person, comic tour-de-force about friendship, salad, sex, bodies, yoga, salad, men, envy, women, pharmaceuticals, diets, salad, uppers and salad. DC Theatre Scene called Woolly Mammoth’s 2015 world premiere a “fresh, funny play…the poster child for what feminist theatre should be: a great night out on the town watching a slam bam comedy which is also a serious conversation about the society we oh-so-currently live in.” Performances areMarch 9-April 29, 2018. Press opening is Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m.
Wit’s Women Laughing Alone with Salad features two actors, Echaka Agba and Japhet Balaban, recently named to the Chicago Tribune’s “Hot New Faces of Chicago Theater, Class of 2017.” Likewise, Agba was singled out in the 2017 Time Out Chicago Theater Awards for featured performance and breakout performance in Broken Nose Theatre’s At the Table, which also won her the Jeff Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her other credits includeShort Shakes! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare), United Flight 232 (Jeff Award for Best Ensemble - House Theatre), and The Crucible and Between Riverside and Crazy(Steppenwolf Theatre). Agba will play Meredith/Bruce in Women Laughing Along with Salad.
Balaban (Guy/Alice) drew the Trib’s attention for his work in Ideation (Jackalope Theatre). Credits also include You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites), Posh (Steep Theatre), Never The Sinner (Victory Gardens), Balm in Gilead (Griffin Theatre) and Look Back in Anger(Redtwist).
Wit’s cast also includes Jennifer Engstrom (Sandy, Guy), a Chicago and regional theater veteran and an A Red Orchid Theatre ensemble member, where she performed in The Fastest Clock in The Universe, Eric LaRue, Fatboy, The Hothouse, 3C and The Mutilated(Jeff nomination for Outstanding Actress). Completing the cast is Daniella Pereira (Tori, Joe), seen in Letters Home (Griffin), The Taming of the Shrew (Oak Park Festival Theatre) and Cymbeline (Strawdog).
Devon de Mayo makes her Theater Wit directorial debut with Women Laughing Alone with Salad. Designers include Arnel Sancianco (set), Mieka van der Ploeg (costumes), Shain Longbehn (sound), Yeaji Kim (projections) and Vivian Knouse (props).
MITCHELL FAIN RETURNS WITH SPECIAL GUESTS MEGHAN MURPHY
AND JULIE B. NICHOLS FOR THIS WAY OUTTA SANTALAND
After an amazing workshop last year, Chicago's favorite holiday performer, Mitchell J. Fain, returns with a full-blown, mainstage production of This Way Outta Santaland (and other Xmas miracles).
Chicago’s newest holiday tell-all is a tour-de-force blend of storytelling, improvisation, cabaret and cocktails - a recipe for a sweet, sentimental evening of hard truths that change night to night. Fain squeezes holiday tales from his audience, then swirls them with his own personal war stories about how family, drunks, jewelry, funerals, the holiday spirits and more than 250 performances of The Santaland Diaries collide. Cameos by Chicago cabaret powerhouses like Meghan Murphy and madcap pianist Julie B. Nichols are also on tap.Chicago Theater Review hailed last season’s workshop production "Highly recommended. A brand new, indispensable tradition, at once hilarious, tragic, moving and profane."
Jeremy Wechsler directs. Designers include Courtney O’Neill (set), Mike Durst (lights) and Jeffrey Levin (sound). Press opening is Friday, November 24, 7 p.m. Performances run through December 30, 2017.
About Theater Wit
Theater Wit is located at 1229 N. Belmont, in the heart of the new Belmont Theatre District in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. The best way to secure seats to Theater Wit’s 2017-18 season is to sign up for a Theater Wit Membership. Wit’s Netflix-like “all the theater you can eat” deal lets members see as many plays at they want in any of theater’s three spaces for one low monthly fee of $29/$22 for students, along with many exclusive member perks.
To purchase a Membership, inquire about Flex Pass options or to buy single tickets, visitTheaterWit.org or call the Theater Wit box office, 773.975.8150.
To receive an “artisanal selection of consonants and vowels from Theater Wit,” sign up atTheaterWit.org/mailing for exclusive updates, flash deals and behind-the-scenes production scoop every few weeks.
Theater Wit 2017-18 Season Playwright Biographies
Joshua Harmon, Significant Other
Theater Wit’s 2015 Midwest premiere of Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews was the biggest hit in the company’s 13-year history. Harmon’s scathing comedy about 20-something Jewish cousins grappling with faith, family and identity enjoyed an eight-month run including two extensions at Wit’s Lakeview home, a summer transfer to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, and a fall run at Chicago’s Royal George Theatre. Bad Jewsreceived its world premiere at Roundabout Underground and was the first production to transfer to the Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre (Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Award nominations, Best Play). It became the third most-produced play in the U.S. in 2014-15 and transferred to London’s West End after sell-out runs at Theatre Royal Bath and the St. James Theatre.
Harmon’s newest play, Significant Other, opened at Roundabout this summer. His work has been produced and developed by Manhattan Theatre Club, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Hangar Theatre, Ars Nova, and Actor's Express, where he was the 2010-2011 National New Play Network Playwright-in-Residence. He has received fellowships from MacDowell, Atlantic Center for the Arts, SPACE at Ryder Farm, and the Eudora Welty Foundation. Harmon is a recent graduate of Juilliard and at work on commissions for Roundabout Theatre Company and Lincoln Center Theater.
Eric John Meyer, The Antelope Play
Eric John Meyer is a playwright and performer/director/producer based in New York City. His work has been developed or presented by Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, Vineyard Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Flea, Dutch Kills Theater Company and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, among others. He is a member of the Actor's Studio Playwright/Director Unit and a recipient of a new play commission from Playwrights Horizons. Meyer is a co-founder of Human Head Performance Group and The Truck Project, both of which he established with his partner, Jean Ann Douglass. He received his MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College.
Sheila Callaghan, Woman Laughing Alone with Salad
Sheila Callaghan's plays have been produced and developed with Soho Rep, Playwright's Horizons, Yale Rep, South Coast Rep, Clubbed Thumb, The LARK, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, New Georges, The Flea, Woolly Mammoth, Boston Court and Rattlestick Playwright's Theatre. She received the Princess Grace Award for emerging artists, a Jerome Fellowship from Playwright's Center in Minneapolis, a MacDowell Residency, a Cherry Lane Mentorship Fellowship, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award and the Whiting Award. Her plays have been produced internationally in New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Germany, Portugal and the Czech Republic.
These include Scab, Crawl Fade to White, Crumble, We Are Not These Hands, Dead City,Lascivious Something, Kate Crackernuts, That Pretty Pretty; Or, The Rape Play,Fever/Dream, Everything You Touch, Roadkill Confidential, Elevada and Bed. She is published with Playscripts.com and Samuel French, and several of her collections are published with Counterpoint Press.
She has taught playwriting at Columbia University, The University of Rochester, The College of New Jersey, Florida State University and Spalding University. She is an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb, a member of the Obie winning playwright's organization 13P and an alumni of New Dramatists.
In 2010, Callaghan was profiled by Marie Claire as one of "18 Successful Women Who Are Changing the World." She was also named one of Variety’s "10 Screenwriters to Watch" of 2010. Callaghan is a writer/producer on the hit Showtime comedy Shameless and a founder of the feminist activist group The Kilroys. She was nominated for a 2016 Golden Globe for her work on Hulu’s Casual and a 2017 WGA Award for her Shameless episode “I Am A Storm.”
Mitchell Fain, creator and performer, This Way Outta Santaland
In addition to eight years as Crumpet the Elf in Theater Wit’s perennial holiday hit The Santaland Diaries, Mitchell J. Fain has also been seen in This at Theater Wit, Le Switch at About Face, at UP Comedy Club at The Second City as host of Best Musical, at La Jolla Playhouse with The Second City and at Actors Theatre of Louisville in Lookingglass Theatre’s Lookingglass Alice.
Fain is an Artistic Associate of The Midnight Circus and About Face Theatre and former co-host of The Windy City Queercast. Other credits include Stilettos, Circus and Soul, Hamlet-The Musical, Henry VI, Hamlet, Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As Bees in Honey Drown, Bitches, Hay Fever, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and The Lynching of Leo Frank. He also performed improv and sketch comedy on The Norwegian Star as a part of a Second City touring company.