It’s a summer “homecoming” for Goodman Theatre audiences! On July 30, Chicago’s theater since 1925 resumes live, in-person performances following a 16-month COVID-19 pandemic period of darkened stages.
Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer announce a 10-play line-up, beginning with Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play—director Lili-Anne Brown’s Chicago premiere production that was suspended days before its opening night in March 2020.
Next up, eight plays are offered as part of the Goodman’s 2021/2022 “Homecoming” Season Membership—four world-premieres, including a major musical adaptation; a Chicago premiere; two classic revivals and one play TBA. In addition, A Christmas Carol returns to the stage for its 44th annual production, following the audio adaptation experienced in 2020 by 100,000+ people worldwide. One previously announced project—Hershey Felder’s A Paris Love Story—will not appear due to shifting commitments.
Tickets to School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play ($15 - $45) are available now; call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org/SchoolGirls. Membership options for the 2021/2022 Season start at $75; to purchase, call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Homecoming. Tickets for A Christmas Carol go on sale August 20.
NOTE: Goodman Theatre prioritizes the well-being of its patrons, artists and staff. In advance of reopening, the theater has completely overhauled its air ventilation systems to increase fresh air exchange, while utilizing recommended MERV 13 filters and bipolar ionizers that exceed current recommended levels of air quality and purification. The Goodman’s updated COVID-19 protocols for the run of School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play include, but are not limited to, keeping at least one seat empty on either side of each party; requiring all patrons to wear face coverings during the 80-minute performance and at all times/areas while at the theater (a disposable mask will be provided for those in need); and enhanced cleaning and sanitization measures, including hand sanitizer stations throughout the theater. Protocols will evolve in accordance with state and local guidance, and will be updated for subsequent performances; visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Protocols for the most up-to-date attendance guidelines and more.
“This, truly, is the moment we’ve been waiting for—at once a ‘homecoming’ and a new beginning—after one of the most challenging periods of our collective experience. We are enormously grateful to our audiences—with special thanks to all who’ve joined us virtually as a sponsor or spectator while in-person performances have been suspended—and thrilled to welcome you back now,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “The return of School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh, directed by Lili-Anne Brown (July 30 – August 29) is nothing short of triumphant. We welcome back Lil and her brilliant company, who had to stop performances just shy of their opening night—making it a particular honor to reopen our doors with this incredible production.
“The line-up in our Albert Theatre continues with American Mariachi by José Cruz González, directed by Henry Godinez (September 18 – October 24)—a funny, heart-warming story of an all-female mariachi band in an era when this defied social norms—in a co-production with Dallas Theater Center. Next, we are proud to revisit a play that we were privileged to premiere in 2003—Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson, directed by Chuck Smith (January 22 – February 27, 2022). Chuck served as the dramaturg on our world-premiere production, and I’m excited that he’ll now direct this major revival. In the spring, we’ll premiere Good Night, Oscar by Doug Wright, directed by Lisa Peterson (March 12 – April 17, 2022) starring Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) as Oscar Levant—the larger-than-life American humorist with a dangerous edge. Finally, I’m thrilled to produce the highly anticipated new musical, The Outsiders, based on the novel by S.E. Hinton and Francis Ford Coppola’s film, with a book by Adam Rapp, music and lyrics by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine, choreography by Lorin Latarro and directed by Liesl Tommy (May 27 – July 10, 2022). This beloved story of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ defined a generation, and is now told anew.”
Continued Falls, “Our Owen Theatre will host two world premieres and a major revival—starting with the Goodman-commissioned Fannie, The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer by Cheryl L. West, directed by Henry Godinez (October 15 – November 14), a passionate rallying cry inspired by the life of famed civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. The incredible E. Faye Butler reprises the title role, which she created for our production of Cheryl’s abridged version of this play, Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It!, which we produced in collaboration with the Chicago Parks last fall. Next, the ripple, the wave that carried me home by Christina Anderson, directed by Miranda Haymon (February 11 – March 13, 2022), a world-premiere co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, is a stunning meditation on protest, legacy and reconciliation. At the same time, classic revivals are a signature of Goodman programming, and I’m delighted produce a major new production of The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, adapted and directed by Manilow Resident Director Mary Zimmerman (May 1 – April 1, 2022) nearly three decades after its Goodman premiere.”
Concluded Falls, “No Goodman season would be complete without our beloved holiday favorite, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted by Tom Creamer, directed by Jessica Thebus and starring Larry Yando as Ebenezer Scrooge (November 20 – December 31). It’s a thrill to return to the stage for the 44th annual production—following a successful audio adaptation this past year.”
About the Productions in Goodman Theatre’s 2021/2022 Season
Plays are listed in chronological order by venue
The Goodman is grateful to its 2021/2022 Season sponsors. Leading Sponsors: Shubert Foundation, The Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Goodman Theatre Women's Board, Northern Trust, ComEd, An Exelon Company, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Edgerton Foundation New Play Award; Major Support of New Work Development: Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee Fund, Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, and Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; Major Sponsors: Abbott Fund, Allstate Insurance Company, BMO Harris Bank, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Illinois Tool Works, PepsiCo, PNC Bank, Winston & Strawn LLP; Sponsor Partners: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Mayer Brown LLP, PwC LLP and Russell Reynolds Associates.
IN THE ALBERT THEATRE (856-SEAT PROSCENIUM STAGE)
School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play
By Jocelyn Bioh | Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
July 30 – August 29, 2021 (Albert Theatre)
School is back in session! This biting and buoyant comedy was playing to packed houses when our stages went dark—and you won't want to miss its triumphant return. As the reigning queen bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school sets her sights on the Miss Universe pageant, a new student unexpectedly changes the game. This “nasty-teen comedy, wonderfully refreshed and deepened” (The New York Times) spotlights the universal similarities—and glaring differences—of teenage girls around the globe. Casting note; Adhana Reid, formerly an understudy on this production, replaces Katherine Lee Bourné in the role of Ama.
By José Cruz González | Directed by Henry Godinez
Co-Production with Dallas Theater Center
Produced in association with Teatro Vista
Presented in collaboration with the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance and Sones de México Ensemble
September 18 – October 24, 2021 (Albert Theatre)
Familia, amor and tradición—and breaking it—are at the heart of this “big-hearted musical tug at the heartstrings” (Denver Post). Lucha spends her days caring for her ailing mother, but longs to shake up her 1970s home life. When a forgotten record album sparks her mother’s memory, Lucha and her cousin strike upon a radical idea: to create an all-female mariachi band. Infused with live mariachi music at each performance, American Mariachi reveals how music and love can make just about anything possible. Presented in English.
44th Annual Production of
A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens | Directed by Jessica Thebus
November 20 – December 31, 2021 (Albert Theatre)
Chicago's "perfect holiday treat for the family" (ABC-7) returns to stage for its 44th annual production--following the popular 2020 Audio Adaptation, experienced by 100,000+ worldwide. Goodman Theatre’s classic A Christmas Carol is the heartwarming story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s (Larry Yando, now in his 14th year) discovery of kindness, compassion and redemption—a must-see Chicago holiday tradition now in its fifth decade, enjoyed by nearly two million theatergoers. “Topnotch performances, spirited song-and-dance numbers” (Newcity), “amazing sets, gorgeous costumes and eye-popping effects” (Chicago Reader) bring to life "the best Christmas story ever told” (Time Out Chicago).
Gem of the Ocean
By August Wilson | Directed by Chuck Smith
January 22 – February 27, 2022 (Albert Theatre)
A major revival of the play that begins August Wilson’s epic 10-play American Century Cycle—on the stage where it premiered in 2003. Tensions flare into riots across Pittsburgh’s Hill District as chaos threatens a city desperate for freedom. It’s 1904, the dawn of the new century—yet slavery’s shadow looms large. There is solace to be found at the home of 285-year-old Ester Tyler, keeper and transmitter of African American history and cleanser of souls. When a suspicious traveler appears at her door in search of a new life, Aunt Ester guides him on a journey of spiritual awakening.
Good Night, Oscar
By Doug Wright| Directed by Lisa Peterson
March 12 – April 17, 2022 (Albert Theatre)
Anything can happen on live TV. And one night, it did. It’s 1958, and Jack Paar hosts the hottest late-night talk-show on television. His favorite guest? Character actor, pianist and wild card Oscar Levant—portrayed by Emmy Award-winning actor and producer Sean Hayes (Will & Grace). Famous for his witty one-liners, Oscar has a favorite: “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity; I have erased this line.” Tonight, Oscar will prove just that when he appears live on national TV in an episode that Paar’s audience—and the rest of America—won’t soon forget. Good Night, Oscar explores the nexus of humor and heartbreak, the ever-dwindling distinction between exploitation and entertainment, and the high cost of baring one’s soul for public consumption
Based on the Novel by S.E. Hinton and Francis Ford Coppola’s Motion Picture
Book by Adam Rapp
Music and Lyrics by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine
Music Supervision, Arrangements and Orchestrations by Justin Levine
Choreography by Lorin Latarro
Directed by Liesl Tommy
May 27 – July 10, 2022 (Albert Theatre)
The story that defined a generation is reimagined in a groundbreaking musical for a new generation. In 1967 Tulsa, Oklahoma, the hardened hearts, aching souls and romantic dreams of Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade and their band of greasers take center stage in a fight for purpose and a quest for survival. Based on S.E. Hinton’s seminal novel and Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic film, and directed by Tony nominee Liesl Tommy with a book by Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp, The Outsiders features a score by acclaimed Austin-based rock duo Jamestown Revival and Justin Levine.
IN THE OWEN THEATRE (350-SEAT FLEXIBLE STAGE)
NOTE: One production in the Owen Theatre is to be announced
Fannie, The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer
By Cheryl L. West | Directed by Henry Godinez
October 15 – November 14, 2021 (Owen Theatre)
Inspired by the life of famed civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and performed and sung by Chicago’s E. Faye Butler, this passionate rally cry defines what it means to be a true revolutionary. Chicago's own E. Faye Butler plays Fannie Lou Hamer, the 1960s civil rights activist whose courage, humor and grit reminds us that there's courage in the face of fire, hope in tomorrow and that we all have a stake in our country. Replete with music and spirituality, this electric, immersive call to action defines what it means to be a true revolutionary. A Goodman commission, Ms. West's play appeared in the 2019 New Stages Festival, and in abridged form, Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It!, in Chicago parks in fall 2020.
the ripple, the wave that carried me home
By Christina Anderson | Directed by Miranda Haymon
February 11 – March 13, 2022 (Owen Theatre)
A co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Janice’s parents are prominent activists fighting for the integration of public swimming pools in 1960s Kansas. As injustice penetrates the warm bubble of her childhood, Janice grows apart from her family and starts a new life far away. When she receives a call asking her to speak at a ceremony honoring her father, she must decide whether she’s ready to reckon with her political inheritance and a past she has tried to forget. A deeply moving story about justice, legacy, memory and the ultimate challenge of forgiveness.
The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
Adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman
April 1 – May 1, 2022 (Owen Theatre)
Leonardo da Vinci strove to know the world equally through artistic and scientific means. There was no limit to his curiosity, nor to his tenacity in seeking answers. This poetic portrayal of one of history’s most imaginative minds returns to the Goodman nearly three decades after it burst onto the stage in a career-catapulting production for adaptor/director Mary Zimmerman. In a production composed entirely of words from his notebooks and treatises, da Vinci’s ideas on topics from mathematics, anatomy and engineering, to philosophy, love and the human spirit come to vivid life.
A Goodman LIVE Series Production
Ohio State Murders
By Adrienne Kennedy | Directed by Tiffany Nichole Greene
June 17-20, 2021 (Live online)
Through haunting memory and lyrical monologue, Obie-Award winner Adrienne Kennedy "leads us delicately but intrepidly into an American heart of darkness" (CurtainUp). When Suzanne arrives at Ohio State University in 1949 as one of a handful of Black freshmen, she discovers the "safe haven" of academia offers little sanctuary. Decades later, the accomplished writer returns to her alma mater to speak about her work—and unravels the heartbreaking truth and chilling mystery of her life lived in the shadows. Ohio State Murders is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. ConcordTheatricals.com Technology, videography and stage production come together for the three-play Live series. Accessible via multiple video cameras, each performance of three new productions are streamed live online for real-time consumption by audiences at home. Christiana Tye of Christiana Tye Productions and Gabe Hatfield of Hatfield Post/Production are the Goodman’s video partner for Live, collaborating with each director to realize the vision of the play for the camera medium. Ohio State Murders is the second of three productions, following The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp, directed by Robert Falls (May 13-16).
A Future Labs Virtual Reading
By Lavina Jadhwani | Directed by Sophiyaa Nayar
June 26 at 7pm
Shakuntala is celebrating her new marriage to the king when a sage places a spell on her beloved so that he forgets his wife’s face. Inspired by Kalidasa’s 4th-century drama, Lavina Jadhwani’s Bollywood-infused Shakuntala is a playful, irreverent, totally contemporary take on losing and finding love and where we come from. Future Labs is the newest effort among the Goodman’s programs that support living writers and develop new plays—including New Stages, Playwrights Unit and more than two dozen individual artist commissions. Designed primarily for Chicago-based writers who have not had a play produced at the Goodman, Future Labs develops works authored and directed by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI and other artists of color.
A Goodman LIVE Series Production
I Hate It Here
By Ike Holter | Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
July 15-18, 2021 (Live online)
Acclaimed playwright-and-director duo Ike Holter and Lili-Anne Brown (Lottery Day) rejoin forces for the Chicago premiere of his newest work.
If there’s one thing Americans can agree on, it’s that 2020 was not the best way to begin a new decade. With guts and humor, punctuated with story and song, Ike Holter asks who we are in a world on the brink of explosion in this “sharp and satisfyingly foul-mouthed” (The New York Times) rallying cry for our times. Technology, videography and stage production come together for the three-play Live series. Accessible via multiple video cameras, each performance of three new productions are streamed live online for real-time consumption by audiences at home. Christiana Tye of Christiana Tye Productions and Gabe Hatfield of Hatfield Post/Production are the Goodman’s video partner for Live, collaborating with each director to realize the vision of the play for the camera medium. I Hate It Here concludes the series.
Sones de México Ensemble’s
A Musical Journey from Chiapas to Chicago
By Dolores Díaz
Co-directed by Henry Godinez and Marcela Muñoz
A Goodman Theatre partnership with Chicago Park District, DCASE Chicago Latino Theater Alliance and the National Museum of Mexican Art
August 5 – September 2, 2021 (in Chicago Parks citywide)
Goodman Theatre returns to Chicago Parks this summer with Zulema—Sones de México Ensemble’s electrifying new work with Music Director Victor Pichardo (the Goodman’s Pedro Páramo and upcoming American Mariachi) written by Dolores Díaz and co-directed by Goodman Resident Artistic Associate Henry Godinez and Marcela Muñoz, Aguijon Theater Co-Artistic Director. Produced in partnership with Chicago Park District’s Night Out in The Parks, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA) and the National Museum of Mexican Art, this FREE three-week engagement spans 10 park locations citywide. In addition, a special finale performance featuring a spectacular cast of 70+ artists will conclude the run on September 2.
ABOUT GOODMAN THEATRE
Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fourth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.
As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. As of September 1, 2020, Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.