Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and LITTLE WOMEN in Brown Paper Box Co.’s 18–19 Season

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and LITTLE WOMEN in Brown Paper Box Co.’s 18–19 Season

Pictured: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins | Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Brown Paper Box Co. has announced its upcoming 2018 –2019 season. The first of the two fully produced productions is the regional premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ EVERYBODY, a modern retelling of the medieval morality play EVERYMAN, cast each night by lottery. The production will be directed by Erin Shea Brady, and plays at Pride Films & Plays’ The Buena July 13 – August 12. Jacobs-Jenkins (APPROPRIATE, AN OCTOROON, GLORIA) is an Obie Award winner, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and 2016 MacArthur Fellow. In January 2019 is the musical version of LITTLE WOMEN (dates and venue TBA), with music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, book by Allan Knee. LITTLE WOMEN will be co-directed by M. William Panek and  Stephanie Rohr, with musical direction by T.J. Anderson. The season kicks off with a 2-night “Existential Cabaret” at Mary’s Attic in Andersonville, hosted and curated by Artistic Director Kristi Szczepanek.

“Our staff got about 6 pages into reading Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ EVERYBODY and immediately knew it was the perfect play for our new season,” said Szczepanek. “And when William & Stephanie brought us their bare-bones concept for Little Women the Musical, it seemed like a great compliment. Thematically, the shows are very different, but we hope to tie them together aesthetically, as we focus this year on our ‘theatre, plain and simple’ roots.”

For more information, visit

Brown Paper Box Co.’s 2018 – 2019 Season (from the press release):

Brown Paper Box Co. presents An Existential Cabaret
Host: Kristi Szczepanek, Accompanist: Emilie Modaff
May 4 and 5, 2018
Mary’s Attic above Hamburger Mary’s

Inspired by life’s great mysteries presented in our first play in our 2018/2019 season, EVERYBODY, An Existential Cabaret will be a little different from our previous cabarets! As we begin to explore life, love, and morality through Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ modern morality play, guests at Mary’s Attic can expect to hear the musical stylings of Love, Death, Stuff, Friendship, Understanding, and even God — just to name a few. Join us on May 4th and 5th at Mary’s Attic to celebrate our season with the Brown Paper Box Co. family – and a few special guests!

Regional Premiere
Playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Director: Erin Shea Brady
July 13 – August 12, 2018
Pride Films & Plays’ The Buena

This modern riff on the 15th-century morality play EVERYMAN follows Everybody (chosen from the cast by lottery at each performance) as they travel down a road toward life’s greatest mystery. Making its regional premiere in Chicago following its 2017 world premiere off-Broadway, playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Gloria, An Octoroon) bases his new play on a medieval morality play that instructs sinners on how to repent and seek redemption.

“EVERYBODY harnesses theatricality to drop these conversations into our laps in a way that is hopeful, engaging, and unique,” says director Erin Shea Brady. “The actors literally get to try on different roles. They literally get to step into different points of view, giving us a new opportunity to explore bias and conditioning. There will be some permutations of this piece that have never happened before, that an audience is seeing for the very first time. It’s a huge, exciting experiment and it is electric. EVERYBODY is in on the rarity, taking ‘different every night’ to a whole new level.”

Music: Jason Howland, Lyrics: Mindi Dickstein Book: Allan Knee
Musical Direction: T.J. Anderson
Co-Directors: M. William Panek and Stephanie Rohr
Opening January 2019

This timeless, captivating story is brought to life in this Broadway chamber musical filled with personal discovery, heartache, hope and everlasting love. Based on Louisa May Alcott’s life, Little Women follows the adventures of sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy March. Jo is trying to sell her stories for publication, but the publishers are not interested. Her friend, Professor Bhaer, tells her that she has to do better and write more from herself. Begrudgingly taking this advice, Jo weaves the story of herself and her sisters and their experience growing up in Civil War America.

Under the co-direction of company members M. William Panek and Stephanie Rohr and musical direction of artistic associate T.J. Anderson, Brown Paper Box Co.’s production will focus on the season’s mantra of “theatre, plain and simple.” The “back to the basics” approach will re-orchestrate the Broadway score for single piano to transport Jo’s memories and the events of the musical into her childhood attic. The bare-bones reimagining will elevate the March sisters’ relationships as important focal points rather than simple plot points.


About author


PerformInk is Chicago's entertainment industry trade publication.