Griffin Theatre announces 2015-2016 plans

SHARE Griffin Theatre announces 2015-2016 plans
SHARE Griffin Theatre announces 2015-2016 plans

Two plays will have their Midwest premieres, and a musical will receive its Chicago debut during Griffin Theatre’s 2015-2016 season – the company’s 28th year of operation.

The company will kick off its season this fall with the Midwest premiere of “Pocatello,” Samuel D. Hunter’s “heartbreaking comedy,” to be directed by Jonathan Berry (“Punk Rock” “Balm in Gilead”). It will be staged at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice.

During the winter, Griffin will present the Midwest premiere of British playwright John Van Druten’s romantic drama “London Wall,” directed by recent Jeff Award-winner and ensemble member Robin Witt (“Men Should Weep,” “Flare Path,” and “Brilliant Adventures,” which is currently running at Steep Theatre).

The season will conclude next summer with the Chicago debut of the off-Broadway hit “Bat Boy: The Musical,” with a book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe, and direction by Scott Weinstein, who helmed Griffin’s hit musical, “Titanic.”

Both “London Wall” and “Bat Boy: The Musical” will be staged at The Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee.

Season subscriptions go on sale Aug. 15 at Single tickets for all productions will go on sale at a later date.

Meanwile, during the spring of 2016, Griffin Theatre will workshop a world premiere musical, “The Bristol Sessions,” based on the so-called “Big Bang Moment in Country Music.” The show, which features a book by Griffin artistic director Bill Massolia, is set between July 25 and August 5, 1927, when record producer Ralph Peer held a series of recording sessions at the Taylor-Christian Hat and Glove Company in Bristol, Tennessee. Those sessions marked the commercial debuts of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, and the birth of country music. The workshop will include a public reading (date to be announced).

Griffin Theatre also will continue national tours of its productions of “Letters Home,” “Frindle,” and “Ghosts of War.” The Griffin’s national touring productions will reach 100,000 young people and adults during the 2015-16 theater season. “Letters Home” will tour for a ninth straight season beginning in October, with a 10-city tour of the U.S.

Here is a closer look at the three shows in Griffin’s 2015-16 season in Chicago:

+ “POCATELLO” (Nov. 7 – Dec. 13), by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by Jonathan Berry: Home doesn’t feel like home anymore for Eddie, an Italian chain restaurant manager who is losing connections with his co-workers and his family. Set in the harsh backdrop of Pocatello, Idaho – a small, unexceptional American city – Samuel D. Hunter’s heartbreaking comedy is about the struggle we face to create an authentic experience – to forge true community – in a place that is being transformed into the endless artificiality of Walmarts, Applebees and strip malls. The play had its world premiere in 2014 at Playwrights Horizons in New York and was the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays award. Hunter is a recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award.

+ “LONDON WALL” (Jan. 9 – Feb. 14, 2016), by John Van Druten, directed by Robin Witt: This “lost” and rarely produced work by the author of “I Am a Camera” and “Bell, Book and Candle” explores the lives and love affairs of the women employed as shorthand typists in a busy solicitor’s office in 1930’s London. The play had its premiere in May of 1931 at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London and was acclaimed for its hyper-realistic depiction of office life, as well as its soulful probing of the dreams and desires of its female characters. It recently received an acclaimed revival at London’s Finborough Theater.

Director Robin Witt.

Director Robin Witt.

+ “BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL” (June 4 – July 24, 2016), with book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming and music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe, directed by Scott Weinstein: Based on a story in The Weekly World News, this musical comedy/horror show is about a half boy/half bat creature who is discovered in a cave near Hope Falls, West Virginia. The local sheriff brings Bat Boy to the home of the town veterinarian, Dr. Parker, where he is eventually accepted as a member of the family and taught to act like a “normal” boy by the veterinarian’s wife and teenage daughter. The award-winning musical had its world premiere at the Actors Gang Theatre in 1997 and has been produced around the world, but never before in Chicago.

Director Scott Weinstein.

Director Scott Weinstein.

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