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Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces
William Shakespeare's othello
A signature production of Shakespeare 400 Chicago celebration
Directed by Jonathan Munby, February 18–April 10
Chicago—December 28, 2015—Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announces the full cast and creative team for Shakespeare’s intimate tragedy of heartbreak and revenge, Othello. Staged by UK award-winning director Jonathan Munby, the production features James Vincent Meredith in the title role as the Moor. Munby imagines Shakespeare’s tale in the landscape of a modern-day military base amid the searing themes of revenge, prejudice and passion. Featured in the yearlong Shakespeare 400 Chicago celebration, Othello is presented in CST’s Courtyard Theater, February 18–April 10, 2016.
Othello is the unequaled hero of his age—a fearsome leader and respected citizen. But he is also an outsider whose success has created enemies driven by envy and prejudice. A stranger in a strange land, he falls under Iago’s spell, mistaking a lethal enemy for his closest ally. This modern staging of Shakespeare's thriller explores the most elemental of human emotions: the all-consuming passions of love and jealousy.
A signature production of the yearlong Shakespeare 400 Chicago festival celebrating the playwright's four-hundred-year legacy in 2016, Chicago Shakespeare’s production of Othello joins other interpretations of the play, including the Hamburg Ballet’s Othello which will be performed at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (February 23–24, 2016) and Chicago Shakespeare's collaboration with the Q Brothers, the hip-hop Othello: The Remix (April 12–May 8, 2016).
Direct from engagements at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe, director Jonathan Munby returns to Chicago Shakespeare after his critically acclaimed production of Julius Caesar in 2013. He most recently directed the whimsical Wendy and Peter Pan for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). His distinguished career includes award-winning work in the UK at Shakespeare’s Globe (The Merchant of Venice, Antony and Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream); the RSC (The Canterbury Tales, Madness in Valencia); and the Donmar Warehouse (The Prince of Homburg, Life is a Dream). US credits include productions at BAM (A Human Being Died That Night); Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC (Measure for Measure, The Dog in the Manger); and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis (The Winter’s Tale). Munby also serves as creative associate for the English Touring Theatre.
“The ‘nowness’ of Othello gives such momentum to the play,” said Munby. “Once Iago starts the ball rolling, there’s a sort of inevitability about this story—an extraordinary kind of pace to the way that this story unfolds. It’s one of the best psychological thrillers that has ever been written.”
Jonathan Munby’s production of The Merchant of Venice from Shakespeare’s Globe starring Jonathan Pryce is also featured in the Shakespeare 400 Chicago line-up and will be performed at Chicago Shakespeare August 4–14, 2016.
Celebrated actor James Vincent Meredith takes on the title role of the deeply conflicted protagonist Othello. Meredith returns to Chicago Shakespeare, where he has distinguished himself in Julius Caesar, King John, Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure and The Merchant of Venice. An ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre, he has appeared in The Crucible, The Tempest, The Hot L Baltimore, Clybourne Park and The March, as well as productions at Writers Theatre and Piven Theatre Workshop. Vincent made his Broadway debut as Officer James Hailey in Superior Donuts, and most recently appeared as village elder Mafala Hatimbi in the national tour of the wildly popular The Book of Mormon.
Bethany Jillard makes her Chicago Shakespeare debut as Othello's devoted wife Desdemona. As a member of the Stratford Festival company for five seasons, Jillard has appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and Richard III. Also in his CST debut is Michael Milligan as Othello’s scheming standard-bearer Iago. Milligan is a veteran of the Broadway stage with acclaimed performances as Little Charles in August: Osage County, De Bries in La Bête and as a “raver” in Jerusalem. His Shakespeare credits are extensive, having appeared on the stages of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Theater (Washington, DC) and Shakespeare and Company, as well as at the Utah, Alabama, Illinois and Colorado Shakespeare Festivals.
Luigi Sottile performs the role of Othello’s newly promoted lieutenant, Cassio. Sottile returns to Chicago Shakespeare after playing the lovesick Ferdinand in this season’s critically acclaimed production of The Tempest, directed by Aaron Posner and Teller. Returning to CST after performing the role of Lisette in David Ives’ The Heir Apparent, Jessie Fisher appears as Desdemona’s confidante, Emilia. Fisher is best known for her performance as the Girl in Broadway’s award-winning Once. Melissa Carlson performs the role of the Duke of Venice; Carlson regularly appears on Chicago P.D. as Meredith Olinsky. Laura Rook takes on the role of Bianca. Last seen at Chicago Shakespeare as the French Princess Catherine in Henry V, Rook is also a regular performer with the American Players Theater and Writers Theatre. Fred Geyer performs the role of Roderigo; Geyer recently appeared at Chicago Shakespeare in Dunsinane with the National Theatre of Scotland, King Lear and Henry V. Also included in the cast are James Krag (Lodovico), David Lively (Brabantio/Gratiano) and Bret Tuomi (Montano). Kevin Patrick Duffy, Conor Foley, Kyle Haden, Brian Grey, Cody Proctor, Marvin Quijada, Joseph Sultani and Max Thomas make up the ensemble.
Scenic Designer Alexander Dodge, Costume Designer Linda Cho and Lighting Designer Philip S. Rosenberg will transport Shakespeare’s tragedy to the harsh confines of a modern-day military base. Internationally recognized designer of theater and opera, Dodge has received Tony Award® nominations for his work on A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Present Laughter. Tony Award®-winning designer Cho has received acclaim for her work at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford Festival and on Broadway, garnering the Tony Award® for Costumes in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Rosenberg returns to Chicago Shakespeare for his 14th production after designing lighting most recently for Henry V, Gypsy, Julius Caesar and The School for Lies. Seven-time Jeff Award-winner Lindsay Jones is creating original music as Composer and Sound Designer. Chicago Shakespeare’s resident Jeff Award-winning Wig and Make-up Designer Melissa Veal completes the design team, having designed over eighty productions at CST. Also joining Munby on the creative team are Lili-Anne Brown as Assistant Director, Kevin Gudahl as Verse Coach and Bea Bosco as Dramaturg.
For a complete performance listing and more information about the production, visit www.chicagoshakes.com/othello .
Othello will be performed in CST’s Courtyard Theater February 18–April 10, 2016. Tickets are on sale now for $48–$88 (subject to change). Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets available for patrons under 35. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com .
ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company and the recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award®. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary production of classics, new works and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. Through a year-round season encompassing more than 650 performances, CST attracts 225,000 audience members annually. One in four of its audience members is under eighteen years old, and today its education programs have impacted the learning of over one million students. CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds.