Chicago Shakespeare Announces 19/20 Season and Directors

Chicago Shakespeare Announces 19/20 Season and Directors

Photo by Vito Palmisano.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater has announced its 2019/20 season and directors, featuring a line-up of plays, musicals, new works, and presentations from around the globe.

Kicking off the season is the North American premiere of David Seidler’s stage version of “The King’s Speech,” directed Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning director Michael Wilson.

Next up, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines will direct Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which she’s never taken on before. In the new year, she’ll also take on Jane Austen’s “Emma,” transformed into a new musical by Tony Award-nominated composer Paul Gordon.

The season continues with a ‘60s-inspired take on “As You Like It” infusing Shakespeare’s comedy with the hit songs of The Beatles, adapted and directed by Daryl Cloran, Artistic Director of Canada’s Citadel Theatre.

In April 2020, Chicago Shakespeare will welcome back the Royal Shakespeare Company for the first time in 25 years with a signature production of a Shakespeare play to-be-announced.

The 19/20 season’s WorldStage series features South Africa’s Isango Ensemble with their production of “A Man of Good Hope.” Told through music and dance steeped in African traditions, “A Man of Good Hope” follows one young Somalian refugee’s extraordinary odyssey across a continent, and his unfailing hope in the face of adversity. Also featured will be Makuyeika Theatre Collective’s “Andares,” directed by Héctor Flores Komatsu.” It chronicles the lives of indigenous youth in México—and the realities that they face at the crossroads of modern life and tradition.

In June, composer Jeanine Tesori, and director, playwright, and librettist Tazewell Thompson join forces to create the previously announced opera “Blue,” presented in collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago. “Blue” views an African-American couple as they face the sudden death of their son.

Summer brings director Brian Hill and choreographer Kenny Ingram together for a new version of “The Wizard of Oz,” based on the original 1939 MGM film. Summer also sees the return of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks. This year’s tour will feature “The Comedy of Errors,” directed by David Bell.

“At a time in our lives when estrangement and belonging are so entwined into our public discourse, we are looking forward to a season of stories that explore our boundaries—personal, societal, geographic—and how we cross them in order to better understand ourselves, our neighbors, and the world we inhabit, ” comments Artistic Director Barbara Gaines. “A king is limited by his inability to speak to his nation; two teenagers see beyond the walls erected by their families’ hatred; a young woman can imagine the possibilities of love all around—but not in her own heart; and free spirits leave behind the constraints of society and discover love in unexpected places. Powerful narratives of a Somalian refugee in South Africa and indigenous youth in México both wrestle with defining home and identity. In the communal space that is the theater, we share these stories that bind us together.”

Chicago Shakespeare 2019/20 Season Listing (from the press release)

The Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum | with music & lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
adapted by John Kane
directed by Brian Hill | choreographed by Kenny Ingram
in the Courtyard Theater | July 6–August 25, 2019

Take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto as they encounter new friends—including Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion—and face unexpected challenges in the musical stage adaptation of the landmark 1939 MGM film. Audiences of all ages will be dazzled by the spectacular setting and charmed by its timeless score, featuring such cherished classics as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”—ultimately to discover that there’s truly no place like home.

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks
The Comedy of Errors
by William Shakespeare
adapted & directed by David H. Bell
on tour to neighborhood parks across Chicago | July 18–August 18, 2019

For the eighth year, Chicago Shakespeare, the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, Boeing, and BMO Harris Bank partner to present the annual citywide summer tradition, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, on tour to neighborhood parks across Chicago, FREE FOR ALL. From Hamilton Park and Columbus Park to Loyola Park and Ping Tom Memorial Park, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks activates communities across the north, west, and south sides of the city. On each stop of the tour, a specially equipped truck rolls into the park, a stage unfolds, and a company of professional actors shares the delight of Shakespeare’s riotous The Comedy of Errors with families and neighbors. Tour details to be announced this spring.

North American Premiere
The King’s Speech
by David Seidler
directed by Michael Wilson
in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare | September 12–October 27, 2019

Paralyzed by his stammer and unable to speak to a nation in crisis, King George VI ascends the throne as England stands on the brink of war once again with Germany. Enter Lionel Logue, an Australian migrant with a career path as unexpected as the king’s. The remarkable true story of this unlikely bond between a reluctant king and a charismatic subject that inspired the Academy Award-winning film is now brought to the stage, where writer David Seidler first imagined it.

A Man of Good Hope
Isango Ensemble, in co-production with the Young Vic
and in association with the Royal Opera, Repons Foundation, X and Y
based on the book by Jonny Steinberg
directed by Mark Dornford-May
a WorldStage Production from South Africa
in the Courtyard Theater | October 4–13, 2019

A musical theater spectacle, pulsating with the glorious sounds of this Olivier Award-winning ensemble, is the story of one young refugee’s extraordinary odyssey across a continent. Asad, a Somali with a painful past, miraculous good luck, and a brilliant mind for business, sets off for South Africa—the promised land, where he believes he has found a place of safety. He is mistaken. Acclaimed in New York and London, Isango’s 22-member cast tells Asad’s story through song and dance steeped in African tradition of unfailing hope in the face of adversity.

Makuyeika Theatre Collective
written and directed by Héctor Flores Komatsu
a WorldStage Production from México
as part of Destinos – Chicago International Latino Theater Festival
in the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare | October 23–27, 2019

Woven from ancestral myths, traditional music and arts, and a three-person narrative, Andares reveals the extraordinary, untold stories of ordinary, humble people who inhabit México’s most remote corners. Created by director Héctor Flores Komatsu from his personal search to know and understand the original cultures of his homeland, Andares is a moving, fierce denunciation against a present that seems intent upon destroying what was once held as sacred.

Romeo and Juliet
by William Shakespeare
directed by Barbara Gaines
in the Courtyard Theater | November 1–December 22, 2019

A city, two families, and a hatred so old that no one remembers its cause. Defying every boundary forged from their families’ enmity, Romeo and Juliet fall in love. In a society torn apart by hate, Shakespeare sets his immortal tale of love and senseless tragedy. For Chicago Shakespeare Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, now is the time to direct her first Romeo and Juliet, as Chicago awaits her vision for the most famous love story of all time.

based on the novel by Jane Austen
book, music & lyrics by Paul Gordon
directed by Barbara Gaines
in the Courtyard Theater | January 28–March 15, 2020

Jane Austen’s beloved novel is now a deliciously charming musical, created by Tony Award-nominated composer and lyricist Paul Gordon (Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Daddy Long Legs). Privileged, pampered, and preoccupied with romance, Emma Woodhouse indulges in her pastime of misguided matchmaking, but is clueless when it comes to her own feelings and a gentleman named Mr. Knightley. As our imperfect heroine learns that love cannot be predicted or channeled, we are swept up by Paul Gordon’s lyrical melodies.

Royal Shakespeare Company engagement
A WorldStage Production from the UK
in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare | April 2020

In April 2020, Chicago Shakespeare is pleased to welcome the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company back to Chicago for the first time in 25 years with a signature production of a Shakespeare play. Following Chicago Shakespeare’s performances on the RSC stage in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the Complete Works Festival, both theaters have sought the opportunity for Chicago audiences to experience the RSC’s work onstage at Chicago Shakespeare—promising to be a theatrical highlight of the spring. Title to be announced in the coming months.

As You Like It
by William Shakespeare
adapted & directed by Daryl Cloran
conceived by Daryl Cloran and Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
in association with the Citadel Theatre and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
in the Courtyard Theater | May 1–June 21, 2020

It’s the 1960s, when all you need is love. Free spirits escape a world gone wrong to get back to the land—a place that promises safe harbor from the corrupt ways of the city, but no one is spared here from the hazards of love. The irrepressible Rosalind takes refuge in the forest. So, too, does her love Orlando, with much to learn from the woman of his dreams, now disguised in boy’s garb. This high-spirited, music-filled adaptation infuses Shakespeare’s comedy with the hit songs of The Beatles—lifting the playwright’s timeless verse in beautiful harmony with the immortal music of the “Fab Four.” As You Like It is adapted and directed by Daryl Cloran, Artistic Director of Canada’s acclaimed Citadel Theatre, and originated at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

music by Jeanine Tesori | libretto by Tazewell Thompson
directed by Tazewell Thompson
in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare | June 19–28, 2020
in collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago

Blue brings audiences into the emotional epicenter of an African-American family in which the father is a police officer and the son is a politically active teenager. When the son is killed by police, his death realizes the mother’s worst fear, and ignites his father’s rage and devastation. The new opera is inspired by contemporary events and Black literature, including Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and focuses on the joys and sorrows of bringing a child into a world in which African-American families are forced to question if their sons’ lives matter. Blue is a coproduction of Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

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About author

Abigail Trabue

Abigail has worked as an actor/director in Chicago for over ten years, and along with husband Jason Epperson founded Lotus Theatricals in 2015, and PerformInk Chicago and Kansas City in 2016 (where she serves as Managing Editor of both publications). When not talking shop, Abigail is raising three padawans with Jason, drinking lots of coffee, converting school buses into RV's, and eating all the foods at Disney World. You can find her on Twitter @AbigailTrabue