Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces cast and creative team
World Premiere Production
It Came From Outer Space
A new musical comedy from Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair
based on the cult classic Universal Pictures sci-fi film
Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, June 22–July 24, 2022
Chicago—May 19, 2022—Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces the cast and creative team for the world premiere production of It Came From Outer Space, a new musical comedy based on the ‘50s cult classic sci-fi film from Universal Pictures. Commissioned and developed by Chicago Shakespeare with Creative Producer Rick Boynton, the production reignites an artistic partnership with creators Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair following the triumph of their Jeff Award-winning musical, Murder for Two (2011), which went on to an acclaimed off-Broadway run. Directed by Laura Braza, the production will make for an out-of-this-world experience in the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, June 22–July 24, 2022.
Released in 1953, It Came From Outer Space was Universal’s first-ever 3-D movie—and is now celebrated as a hallmark of the golden age of science fiction cinema. Amateur astronomer John Putnam encounters an alien spaceship in the desert and becomes the laughingstock of his small town—until the extraterrestrial visitors make their presence known and chaos ensues. Featuring a clever musical score and creative physical humor with six actors playing humans, aliens, and everything in between, It Came From Outer Space puts a new spin on the classic flying saucer tale by Ray Bradbury, examining society’s fear of outsiders as it simultaneously embraces the wonder of what lies just beyond the stars.
Award-winning duo Joe Kinosian (book & music) and Kellen Blair (book & lyrics) reunite with Chicago Shakespeare as part of a multi-year new musical development process to bring It Came From Outer Space to the stage. Their murder mystery musical comedy Murder for Two premiered at Chicago Shakespeare in 2011 and was extended a record-setting four times, garnering the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical. Their writing was called “infectious…could get belly laughs from a corpse” (Time Out Chicago) and “self-aware musical campiness; puns and slapstick abound in a way that would no doubt make Mel Brooks giggle giddily” (NewCity Chicago). The subsequent New York run was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Musical—and went on to tour across the US and internationally. Kinosian and Blair are recipients of the ASCAP Foundation Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award for musical theater writing and have had their work performed at The Kennedy Center and the Theatre World Awards.
Portraying scientist John Putnam is Christopher Kale Jones. Jones led the original National Tour production of Jersey Boys as Frankie Valli—and is a co-creator of the PBS vocal group, Under The Streetlamp, which has headlined numerous TV specials, docu-series, and four albums. Jaye Ladymore is taking on the role of the town’s schoolteacher, Ellen Fields. In addition to performances at Chicago Shakespeare in Macbeth and Love’s Labor’s Lost, Ladymore’s recent credits include the TimeLine Theatre world premiere of Relentless and Too Heavy For Your Pocket (2019 Black Theater Alliance Award for Best Featured Actress), and Stick Fly and The Importance of Being Earnest at Writers Theatre. She can be seen on the CW series 4400 as Claudette. Playing a wide array of zany characters, the company also features Jonathan Butler-Duplessis (Borney / Frank / Coral), Ann Delaney (Maizie / Thalgorian-X), Alex Goodrich (Sheriff Matt Warren / George / Prakaxias), and Sharriese Y. Hamilton (Heckie / Grommulex). Understudies include Andres Enriquez, Ciara Hickey, Ryan Stajmiger, and Tiffany T. Taylor. The production’s musicians are Kevin Reeks (Conductor/Keys), Sean McNeely (Contractor/Reed 1), David Orlicz (Reed 2), are Dave Victor (Percussion).
Joining Laura Braza, artistic producer at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, on the creative team is Choreographer Dell Howlett and Music Director Tom Vendafreddo. A full-time faculty member at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Howlett most recently collaborated with legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones on the world premiere production of Paradise Square at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. A Jeff Award-winner, Vendafreddo is a frequent collaborator with Paramount Theatre and Porchlight Music Theatre. Creating the otherworldly setting of It Came From Outer Space are Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Costume Designer Mieka van der Ploeg, Lighting Designer Heather Sparling, Sound Designer Nicholas Pope, and Rasean Davonté Johnson and Mike Commendatore as co-Projections/Video Designers. The creative team also includes Orchestrations by Macy Schmidt, Puppetry consulting by Manual Cinema, Associate Director Amy Herzberg, Assistant Director Grace Dolezal-Ng, Assistant Music Director Kevin Reeks, Intimacy Director Sarah Scanlon, and Fight Choreographer Wesley Truman Daniel. Jinni Pike is the production’s Stage Manager and Kate Ocker is Assistant Stage Manager.
Chicago Shakespeare makes its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Accessible performances for It Came From Outer Space include:
- Open-captioned Performance – Wednesday, July 20, 2022, at 7:30 p.m.
A text display of the words and sounds heard during a play, synced live with the action onstage.
- ASL Duo-interpreted Performance – Friday, July 22, 2022, at 7:30 p.m.
All dialogue and lyrics are translated into American Sign Language by two certified interpreters.
- Audio-described Performance – Sunday, July 24, 2022, at 3:00 p.m.
A program that provides spoken narration of a play’s key visual elements for patrons who are blind or have low vision.
More information on the production at chicagoshakes.com/outerspace or on social media at #cstOuterSpace.
It Came From Outer Space will be presented June 22–July 24, 2022, in the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare. Tickets ($50–$60) are on sale now. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at chicagoshakes.com. Chicago Shakespeare’s most up-to-date health protocols can be found at chicagoshakes.com/health.
ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
A Regional Tony Award recipient, Chicago Shakespeare Theater produces a year-round season—plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside nationally recognized education programming, each year serving tens of thousands of students, teachers, and lifelong learners. Founded in 1986, the Theater’s onstage work has expanded to as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually. Dedicated to welcoming the next generation of theatergoers, one in four audience members is under the age of eighteen. As a nonprofit organization, Chicago Shakespeare works to embrace diversity, prioritize inclusion, provide equitable opportunities, and offer an accessible experience for all. On the Theater’s three stages at its home on Navy Pier, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire.
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