Northlight announces 2016-17 season with Mike Nussbaum set to play Einstein

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Three world premieres, two Midwest premieres and performances by Mike Nussbaum and Francis Guinan. That is the one-sentence summary of the 2016-2017 just announced by Skokie-based Northlight Theatre and its artistic director, BJ Jones. But of course there is more to know.

Kicking off the season – in the months just before what is bound to be a highly dramatic presidential election – will be the Midwest premiere of Anthony Giardina’s political family drama, “the City of Conversation,” which is currently in development as a miniseries for F/X.

It will be followed by a bit of escapism – the world premiere of “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” a sequel to Jane Austen’s ever-popular “Pride and Prejudice” by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. Next up will be another world premiere – “Faceless” –by emerging playwright Selina Fillinger, and the Midwest premiere of Sharyn Rothstein’s “By the Water,” (winner of theprestigious 2015 Primus Prize), featuring Steppenwolf ensemble member Francis Guinan. And then comes the season finale – the world premiere of “Relativity,’ by Mark St. Germain, the playwright behind “Freud’s Last Session,” which enjoyed as long run at the Mercury Theatre a number of years ago with Nussbaum in the title role. This time around the actor (now 92, and most recently seen in Artur Miller’s “The Price” at TimeLine Theatre)will portray another 20th century giant – Albert Einstein.

Here is a complete overview of the season:

+ “THE CITY OF CONVERSATION” by Anthony Giardina, directed by Marti Lyons. (Sept. 15 – Oct. 23, 2016): In 1979 Washington D.C., socialite Hester Ferris throws posh dinner parties that can change the course of politics. But when her son turns up with an ambitious Reagan-ite girlfriend and a shocking new world view, it ignites a family divide that spans over 30 years and six presidential administrations. As power shifts from one generation to the next, a family struggles to maintain ties while on opposite sides of the partisan fence.

+ “MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY,” by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, directed by Jessica Thebus (Nov. 10 – Dec. 18, 2016): In this sequel to “Pride and Prejudice,” the ever-dependable Mary Bennet is growing tired of her role as dutiful middle sister in the face of her siblings’ romantic escapades. When the family gathers for Christmas at Pemberley, an unexpected guest sparks Mary’s hopes for independence, an intellectual match, and possibly even love. This world premiere play picks up two years after Jane Austen’s beloved tale ended.

+ “FACELESS,” by Selina Fillinger, directed by BJ Jones (Jan. 26 – March 5, 2017): Eighteen-year-old Susie Glenn is on trialfor conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. Suffering from the weight of her mother’s recent death, Susie may be a scared teen searching for answers – or she might be a threat to national security. With a female Muslim lawyer as the face of the prosecution, perspectives shiftfrom one moment to the next. Morals, motives and matters of faith all come into question in this timely dramafrom a fresh voice in theater. Fillinger is a two-time winner of the Agnes Nixon Playwriting Festival and the recipient of the first annual Judith Barlow Prize, a national award from the History Matters/Back to the Future coalition.

+ “BY THE WATER,” by Sharyn Rothstein, directed by Cody Estle and featuring Francis Guinan (March 16 – April 23, 2017): Hurricane Sandy has just ravaged the lifelong home of Marty and Mary Murphy. But the storm has ripped apart more than just the walls: with their neighbors too devastated to stay, the couple’s beloved Staten Island community is in danger of disappearing forever. Determined to rebuild, Marty wages a campaign to save his neighborhood and his home, but when the Murphys’ sons arrive to help their parents dig out, past betrayals come rushing to the surface.

Francis Guinan, seen here (with Patrese D. McClain), in a previous Norhtlight Theatre production. (Photo: Michael Brosilow)

Francis Guinan, seen here (with Patrese D. McClain), in a previous Norhtlight Theatre production. (Photo: Michael Brosilow)

+ “RELATIVITY,” by Mark St. Germain, directed by and featuring Mike Nussbaum

(May 11 – June 18, 2017): This National New Play Network “rolling world premiere”- to be produced at several theaters nationwide – homes in on the Albert and Mileva Einstein 40 years after the birth, in 1902, of their daughter. After 1904, the baby was never seen or spoken of again. But now, a reporter interviews Einsteinabout this mysterious piece of his past, revealing shocking secrets about his family and personal life. While the reporter questions Einstein on his theory ofrelativityand his decisions, she also poses a query of her own: To be a great man, does one first need to be a good man?

For season subscriptions phone (847) 673-6300 or visit http://www.northlight.org. Renewals are currently available. New subscriptions ($99-$250) will be available beginning in May 2016.

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