Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces World Premiere Musical Production
beginning September 22, 2020
Music and lyrics by Ingrid Michaelson
Book by Bekah Brunstetter
Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks
Directed by Michael Greif
Chicago—January 29, 2020—Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces today that it will stage the World Premiere musical The Notebook, based on the classic best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks that inspired the hugely popular film. The highly anticipated musical adaptation features music and lyrics by multi-Platinum singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson with book by playwright Bekah Brunstetter—best known as a writer and producer on NBC’s hit series This Is Us. Staged by celebrated Broadway director Michael Greif (Dear Evan Hansen, Next to Normal, Grey Gardens, RENT), The Notebook will premiere September 22–November 8, 2020 in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater has established itself as a key partner in the development of new plays and musicals. The Notebook comes on the heels of the Theater’s wildly successful North American premiere of the new musical SIX, which enjoyed a record-breaking extended run at Chicago Shakespeare in Summer 2019—and begins performances on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on February 13, 2020.
Chicago Shakespeare Creative Producer Rick Boynton shared, “We are excited to partner with Ingrid, Bekah, and Michael to develop and premiere this moving and universal story. Chicago Shakespeare has a long history of collaborating with the world’s great artists and we look forward to working with this stellar team as we bring this breathtaking musical to life on our stage.”
A deeply moving portrait of the enduring power of love, The Notebook chronicles the decades-long love story between a mill worker named Noah and a privileged debutante named Allie. Beginning with a whirlwind summer romance in North Carolina in the 1940s, their love affair spans an entire lifetime—in spite of the differences that threaten to pull them apart. The World Premiere production will feature a diverse, multi-generational cast, reflecting the timeless and universal nature of the story. Casting is underway and will be announced at a later date.
Known for her distinctively soulful folk-pop style that explores universal themes like self-doubt, betrayal and love, singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson is a force in the music industry, with four Top 20 albums and two Platinum singles: “The Way I Am” and “Girls Chase Boys." Michaelson’s nine studio albums have been released on her own independent label Cabin 24 Records and her original songs have soundtracked important moments in hundreds of television series and feature films. Michaelson made her Broadway debut as Sonya in Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 in 2017.
On The Notebook, Michaelson shared, “I have loved the movie and the story for so many years now that the idea of turning it into a musical overwhelmed me. The concept of unending devotion and love wrapped up in memory and family is something very close to my own personal life. The story sings to me so perfectly. I cannot wait to see our beautiful story truly come to life in one of my favorite cities.”
Michaelson joins forces with bookwriter Bekah Brunstetter, a supervising producer and writer on NBC’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning series This Is Us. An accomplished playwright, Brunstetter’s plays have been produced at major regional theaters including South Coast Repertory, Atlantic Theater Company, and The Old Globe. Her most recent work, The Cake, debuted off-Broadway at the at Manhattan Theatre Club in March 2019 to rave reviews.
Brunstetter noted, “This project has my entire heart. I'm extremely excited to keep exploring it with Ingrid and Michael, and to get to do so in Chicago is a playwright's dream. Some of my most favorite productions of my plays have been the Chicago incarnations, so I feel incredibly lucky that we get our first stab at the show in such a smart theater town.”
The World Premiere production of The Notebook is directed by Broadway’s Michael Greif. A four-time Tony Award-nominee, Greif’s Broadway credits include Dear Evan Hansen, Next to Normal, and Grey Gardens—as well as the landmark 1996 original production of RENT, among others. The multi-Obie Award-winner has staged a host of Off-Broadway productions at Second Stage, Signature Theatre, and The Public Theater, and directed FOX’s Rent: Live telecast.
Greif said, “Bekah and Ingrid have written a smart, passionate, timely musical adaptation of a great love story. I’m excited to return to Chicago to premiere it in a great theater town with smart, passionate, and very discerning audiences.”
Tickets to The Notebook will go on sale this winter. To be the first to hear updates on the World Premiere musical, sign up at www.chicagoshakes.com/TheNotebook and follow the production on social media at #TheNotebookChicago and via @chicagoshakes.
ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be—a company that defies theatrical category. This Regional Tony Award-winning theater’s year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances—including plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. Chicago Shakespeare is the city’s leading presenter of international work, and has toured its own productions across five continents. The Theater’s nationally acclaimed arts in literacy programs support the work of teachers, and bring Shakespeare to life on stage for tens of thousands of students annually. Each summer, the company tours a free professional production to neighborhood parks across Chicago. In 2017 the Theater unveiled The Yard, which, together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs, positions Chicago Shakespeare as Chicago’s most versatile performing arts center.
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