PerformInk is Chicago's entertainment industry trade publication.
Photo: MHT Producing Artistic Director David Norwood
Three-show season of musicals will be staged in former home of The Music Theatre Company
Musically Human Theatre (MHT), a professional not-for-profit company focusing on musical theatre, has signed a lease with the City of Highland Park for space in the Karger Center at 1850 Green Bay Road, Producing Artistic Director David Norwood announced today. MHT’s first season in the venue recently vacated by The Music Theatre Company will include new productions of PASSION, NEXT TO NORMAL and CABARET.
The company founded in New York City in 2010 has established a strong reputation for producing intimate revivals as well as new works in Manhattan venues that included the Duplex Cabaret Theatre in the West Village, the Richmond Shepard Theatre and CAP21’s 5th Floor Theatre. Norwood began to look for a new home outside the NYC region after frustrations built with the limiting structure of the New York theatre world. Norwood explained, “the costs of doing business in the city in addition to lack of adequate and affordable spaces made it impossible for the company to do the kind of work that we wanted to do. New York City economics and audience habits that lead them to Broadway shows made it virtually impossible for a small non-for-profit like MHT to continue to exist.”
Norwood began to look around the country for potential new homes and was attracted to Chicago for its abundance of storefront theaters. He soon struck up an acquaintance with Michael Halberstam, the Artistic Director of Writers Theatre in Glencoe, who now serves on MHT’s Board of Advisors. “Writers Theatre is delighted to welcome Musically Human to the neighborhood. The more live theatre on the Northshore the better it is for all of us,” says Michael. “David Norwood has put together a very exciting and ambitious season and I am looking forward to every production and thrilled to be helping in an advisory capacity.”
“Michael helped sell me on the Chicago theater community,” Norwood says. “He also convinced me there was room for more professional theater on the North Shore. He told me about the vacancy at the Karger Center and I e-mailed Highland Park’s Cultural Arts Commission to inquire about securing it.”
Norwood promises North Shore and Chicago audiences highly professional productions that will compare favorably with the best of the area’s professional storefront companies. MHT has signed a Tier-N contract with Actors’ Equity and will employ up to two Equity performers per show. Additionally, MHT has brought on as music director Jeff award winner Aaron Benham, known for his work with companies including Theo Ubique, Kokandy Productions, Bailiwick Chicago, Porchlight, and others.
“This move to Highland Park marks the beginning of a new era for MHT,” said Norwood. “It is convenient, comfortable, and offers audiences an intimate relationship to an especially fine stage space. It will prove a perfect fit for the work to come from MHT.”
Norwood also says about the Karger Center, “It is incredibly exciting for us to be in a facility where the performance space is so intimate. The intimacy of the Karger allows our designers and me to continue to reinvestigate the audience/actor relationship, and the audience’s experience of a production. The Karger Center is a wonderfully creative place to work while in a beautiful and convenient location in the heart of the North Shore. We look forward to becoming a part of the Highland Park community and the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Norwood will direct all three productions in the inaugural Highland Park season. Leading the cast of PASSION will be two-time Jeff Award winner Kelli Harrington as Fosca. Jeff Award-winner Aaron Benham is Music Director. The design team includes Arnel Sancianco (scenic design), Virginia Varland (costume design), and John Kelly (lighting design).
Full casting for PASSION and the remainder of the season will be announced soon. Single ticket and season subscriptions are now on sale at www.musicallyhuman.org.