Two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig has written Dear Jack, Dear Louise, a funny and charming romantic comedy that won the Helen Hayes award in 2020 for Best New Play and opens this week at the Northlight Theatre in the suburbs of Chicago. Dear Jack, Dear Louise depicts the unlikely courtship of Ken’s parents during World War II, and he discusses the origins of a play that is both right in his wheelhouse and a departure from the rest of his oeuvre; the joy of discovering subject matter that’s both freeing and always surprising; the wonder of actors becoming new people who also have his parents’ essence; whether it’s easier to think of your parents as real people or as characters in a play; how he’s writing a brand-new jukebox comic opera, using music by Rossini, called Tenor Overboard; a shout-out to the Chichester Theater Festival; and how Dear Jack, Dear Louise is ultimately a love letter to Ken’s – any maybe all – parents. (Length 18:45) (PICTURED: Casey Hoekstra and Sarah Price as the title characters in the Northlight Theatre production of Dear Jack, Dear Louise, directed by Jessica Fisch. Photo by Greg Inda.
Christopher Luscombe, who’s directed in London’s West End, at Shakespeare’s Globe, and for the ‘other RSC’ (the Royal Shakespeare Company), now directs Nell Gwynn, a charming new comedy with music about the famous (or infamous) 17th Century actress now having its world premiere at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Also an alumnus of the Cambridge Footlights, Chris discusses Nell the play, Nell the actress, and Nell the production. Featuring a wonderful tribute to Chicago actors, the value of being authentically English, the absolute treat of continuing to work on a play over several years, the advantage of embracing contradictions, the great thing about not being afraid of comedy, and the importance of starting from scratch every time. (Length 18:21)
Artistic Director BJ Jones (left) talks about Northlight Theatre, the fourth largest theatre in the Chicagoland area and producer of an extraordinary body of new work. BJ discusses the importance of understanding one’s audience while raving (positively!) about student matinees, commissioning new work, remembering John Mahoney, challenging the current generation while training the next generation of theatergoers and theatre makers, and, most importantly, encouraging compassion and improving one’s perspective through theatre and art. (Length 17:07)
Jim Ortlieb and Gregory Linington, who played John Hemings and Henry Condell in the midwest premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will last fall of 2017, return to the RSC Podcast to discuss the challenges and rewards of a “reduced” rehearsal period. Over pizza and beer at Chicago’s Candelite restaurant, Jim and Gregory chat about being prepared but also staying open, similar-but-different approaches to the work, the liberating importance of “pre-hearsal”, the artistic value of pub time, the time-honored dilemma of religion vs entertainment, the subleties of defining character, the beauty of playing against the text, the gift of intimacy, and the values that constitute true “Chicago theatre.” (Pictured (left to right): Austin Tichenor, Jim Ortlieb, and Gregory Linington recording this podcast live at the Candlelite in Chicago, while Dana Black hovers.) (Length 27:32)
”George Wendt (“Norm” from Cheers) and Tim Kazurinsky (Saturday Night Live, the Police Academy movies) are well-known to TV and film audiences around the world. But their extensive stage work from Second City to Broadway brings them to Chicago in the Northlight Theatre‘s world premiere production of Bruce Graham‘s Funnyman. George and Tim talk about this funny Read more…