Thursday, July 7, 2016

EXTENDED: Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody


Writers Theatre to extend
Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: 
A Parody
Created by Tim Ryder and Tim Sniffen
Written by Tim Sniffen
Directed by Stuart Carden and Artistic Director Michael Halberstam

Due to popular demand, the production extended by an additional two weeks and now plays through August 14, 2016

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:
Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: 
A Parody

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows, we caught this perfect parody on opening night and were completely charmed! The show is a cleverly constructed, laugh out loud comedy that's sure to amuse classic theatre aficionados of all ages. When we heard this show was a Writers Theatre and Second City collaboration, we had high expectations hilarity would ensue and it does not disappoint. They had me at the title!

Jennifer Engstrom (Blanche DuBois) was a particular favorite of mine. She has the "jaded, faded Southern belle" archetype honed to a razor sharp point and it is a hoot to see her reprise this role with the extra twist of parody. We just saw her recently in The Mutilated at A Red Orchid Theatre as Celeste, another of Tennessee Williams' similar women. She's been twice Blanche and Eunice too in WT's A Streetcar Named Desire directed by David Cromer. She then recreated the role of Eunice for the Williamstown Theatre Festival production.

Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody was an excellent choice to initiate the smaller Gillian Theatre at Writers Theatre's gorgeous new home at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. It's a great space and well suited to the company and this production in particular. The superb acting and witty writing make this a welcome night out. Humor abounds, and the in jokes and references will have true theatre lovers in stitches till the closing lines. Highly recommended!

Writers Theatre, under leadership of Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma, announces a second two-week extension of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody created by Tim Ryder and Tim Sniffen, written by Tim Sniffen and directed by Stuart Carden and Michael Halberstam. Due to demand, the production now runs through August 14, 2016, as the inaugural production of the Gillian Theatre at Writers Theatre’s new theater center at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe.

This hilarious result of a collaboration between Writers Theatre and Chicago’s world-renowned comedy theatre, The Second City, asks the intriguing question: What happens when the most recognizable characters from some of the greatest American plays of the 20th century suddenly find themselves sharing the same stage?

When a mysterious invitation brings Blanche DuBois back to New Orleans, she finds herself once again face-to-face with the smoldering Stanley Kowalski. That would be challenge enough, but they are soon joined by luckless salesman Willy Loman and hard-drinking, hard-fighting couple George and Martha, and suddenly all bets are off. Add a folksy Stage Manager and the comic genius of The Second City team, and the question quickly becomes: Will the American Theatre ever be the same?

Co-directed by former Associate Artistic Director Stuart Carden and Artistic Director Michael Halberstam, this deliciously satirical mash-up of A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Our Town opens the Gillian Theatre with a tongue-in-cheek salute to the celebrated icons of American drama.

Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody was commissioned by The Second City and developed in partnership with Writers Theatre, under the guidance of co-director Stuart Carden and featuring a cast of veteran Writers Theatre actors.

The cast of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody includes Greg Matthew Anderson (George beginning 7/19), Jennifer Engstrom (Blanche DuBois), Sean Fortunato (The Stage Manager), Marc Grapey (Willy Loman through 7/31), John Hoogenakker (George through 7/17), Keith Kupferer (Willy Loman beginning 8/2), Michael Perez (Stanley Kowalski) and Karen Janes Woditsch (Martha).

The designers are Linda Buchanan (Scenic Designer), Jenny Mannis (Costume Designer), Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer) and Josh Horvath (Sound Designer). The Stage Manager is Rebecca Pechter, and the Assistant Stage Manager is Mallory Bass.

Tim Sniffen (Co-Creator and Writer) has worked with The Second City since 2006, traveling with The Second City National Touring Company, co-writing The Second City Guide to the Opera in collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago, and co-writing Realish Housewives, a parody show currently touring the U.S. Tim’s next project is a new collaboration with Lyric Opera about Richard Wagner and the writing of the Ring Cycle.

Tim Ryder (Co-Creator) has been writing and performing comedy in Chicago for over 10 years. He co-wrote and performed two critically acclaimed revues on The Second City e.t.c. stage: Apes of Wrath and Soul Brother, Where Art Thou?. He is also an alumnus of The Second City Touring Company and has performed in The Second City Guide to the Opera, The Second City Improv All-Stars, Baby Wants Candy, The Beatbox and in shows at iO Chicago (Chaos Theory, The Deltones) and ComedySportz. You might have seen him in videos for The Onion, the webseries Game Bros or on Chicago Fire and Sirens. This is his first play.

Stuart Carden (Co-Director) returns to Writers Theatre where he spent five seasons as Associate Artistic Director and helmed productions such as The Old Man and The Old Moon, Yellow Moon, Hesperia and Travels With My Aunt. Chicago directing credits include Butler (Northlight Theatre); The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Frederick (Chicago Children’s Theatre); The Merchant on Venice (a South Asian-American-inspired adaptation), Golden Child, 10 Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith and Back of the Throat (Silk Road Rising). Regional directing credits include The Old Man and The Old Moon (The New Victory Theater—NYC, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Arts Emerson—Boston); Tribes (Philadelphia Theatre Company & City Theatre Company); Oblivion, Blackbird, Mary’s Wedding, A Picasso, The Moonlight Room (City Theatre Company); Circle Mirror Transformation, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Crime and Punishment, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); The Pillowman, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The False Servant and Stones in his Pockets (PICT Classic Theatre). Before his tenure as Associate Artistic Director at Writers Theatre, Stuart held the same position from 2007-2009 at City Theatre Company. This fall, Stuart continues his collaboration with PigPen Theatre Co. and Writers Theatre to premiere the new folk tale with music The Hunter and The Bear at Writers Theatre. Stuart lives in the South Loop with contemporary art curator Neysa Page-Lieberman and their twins, Dashiell and Griffin. He is a proud alum of Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Michael Halberstam (Artistic Director and Co-Director) is the co-founder of Writers Theatre. He has directed over thirty-five productions for the company, including Not About Heroes (starring Nicholas Pennell), Private Lives, Look Back In Anger, Candida, The Father, Crime and Punishment, Benefactors, 
Seagull, The Duchess of Malfi, Othello, The Savannah Disputation, the world premiere musical A Minister’s Wife, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, She Loves Me, The Real Thing, Hamlet, Sweet Charity, Days Like Today, Isaac’s Eye and Arcadia, the first production in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre. Halberstam has appeared in numerous Writers Theatre productions, including Richard II (title role), Loot and Misalliance. Previously, he spent two years at The Stratford Festival in Ontario and performed in Timon of Athens, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (title role), Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It. Halberstam’s other Chicago acting credentials include productions with Wisdom Bridge Theater, Court Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Elsewhere he directed The Gamester (Northlight Theatre), A Man for All Seasons (Peninsula Players Theatre), Hamlet (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Candida (Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York), Ten Little Indians (Drury Lane Theatre), a highly acclaimed revival of Crime and Punishment, which Writers Theatre produced Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters in New York City, Enchanted April and State of the Union (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). In 2010 he directed A Minister’s Wife at Lincoln Center Theater, and also directed the west coast premiere at San Jose Repertory Theatre in 2013. His forays into opera have included The Rape of Lucretia (Chicago Opera Theater), Francesca da Ramini featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and Le Freyshutz, a Berlioz adaptation of the Weber opera conducted by Christoph Eschenbach in its North American Premiere (Ravinia Festival). He spent two and a half years teaching Shakespeare at The Theatre School at DePaul University and has received awards for excellence in theater management and/or artistic achievement from The Chicago Drama League, The Arts & Business Council, Chicago Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and The Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival. He also received the 2010 Zelda Fichandler Award, the 2013 Artistic Achievement Award from the League of Chicago Theatres, and was named the Chicago Tribune's 2013 "Chicagoan of the Year" for Theater. He currently serves on the board of the Arts Club of Chicago. Next season at Writers Theatre, he will be co-directing and adapting Julius Caesar with Scott Parkinson.

Greg Matthew Anderson (George beginning 7/19) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in Arcadia. Greg is an Artistic Associate at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company where credits include Power, The Best Man, The Philadelphia Story, Bronte, On the Verge, The Marriage of Figaro, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Night and Day, The Importance of Being Earnest, Chesapeake (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination), You Never Can Tell, Northanger Abbey, An Inspector Calls and Travesties (Joseph Jefferson nomination). Chicago credits include Rock ‘N Roll, the commercial production of Immediate Family (Goodman Theatre), Sense and Sensibility, The Moustrap (Northlight Theatre), Arcadia (Court Theatre), Sons of the Prophet, Oklahoma! (American Theater Company) and A Moment Alone (iO Theater). TV credits include Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire, Betrayal, The Playboy Club, Underemployed, The Chicago Code, Detroit 187 and the pilot Matadors. Film credits include Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Middle Distance, Game Day and Older Children. Greg is a graduate of Duke University’s Department of Theater Studies.

Jennifer Engstrom (Blanche DuBois) appeared as Eunice (and twice as Blanche) in WT's A Streetcar Named Desire directed by David Cromer. She then recreated the role of Eunice for the Williamstown Theatre Festival production. Jennifer is a proud ensemble member of A Red Orchid Theatre where she appeared as Celeste in Tennessee Williams' The Mutilated. Selected Orchid credits include Simpatico, Hot House, Eric LaRue, The Fastest Clock in the Universe and Fatboy. Other Chicago credits include Sweet Bird of Youth (Goodman Theatre, directed by David Cromer), The North Plan, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Sky Girls (Northlight Theatre, Jack Springer Award for best performance), The Incident and Are You Now... (Next Theatre Company, two Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best Ensemble). Regional credits include Angels in America (Kansas City Repertory Theatre, directed by David Cromer), Macbeth (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival) and Ground (2009 Humana Festival). Dividing her time between Chicago and New York City, Jennifer was seen Off-Broadway in a solo show she created, Excuse my Dust, A Dorothy Parker Portfolio.

Sean Fortunato (The Stage Manager) has previously appeared at Writers Theatre in The Diary of Anne Frank, Hedda Gabler, The Real Thing, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Travels With My Aunt, The Chosen, Incident at Vichy, A Phoenix Too Frequent, Richard II, Rough Crossing, and Spite for Spite. His other credits include Pericles, Cyrano De Bergerac, School For Lies, Sunday in the Park with George, Timon of Athens (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), René Gallimard in M. Butterfly (Court Theatre), Measure for Measure (Goodman Theatre), Detective Cioffi in Curtains (Drury Lane Theatre) and work at TimeLine Theatre Company, Marriott Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, About Face Theatre, Intiman Theatre (WA), The Old Globe (CA), The Duke on 42nd (NY) and eleven seasons with Peninsula Players (WI), where he recently played Lady Enid, et al. in The Mystery of Irma Vep, and George in Sunday in the Park with George. His Film/TV credits include The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton and Chicago P.D. Sean has received four Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and an After Dark Award.

Marc Grapey (Willy Loman through 7/31) previously appeared at Writers Theatre in Isaac's Eye and Picnic. His Chicago credits include Ask Aunt Susan, The Iceman Cometh, Race and the world premieres of Eric Bogosian’s Griller and Noah Haidle’s Vigils (Goodman Theatre); Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, The Chosen, Antigone, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Oblivion, The Birthday Party (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Normal Heart (TimeLine Theatre Company); I Sailed with Magellan, Class Dismissed, Equivocation, Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination—Victory Gardens Theater); Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Funny Girl (Drury Lane Theatre); The Metal Children (Next Theatre Company); Early and Often, The Homecoming and Hitting for the Cycle (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination—Famous Door Theatre Company). Regionally, he has appeared at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville and the HBO Comedy and Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. He made his Broadway debut in 2005 opposite Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the revival of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. Film credits include Warren, At Any Price, Superbad, Adventureland, Ali, While You Were Sleeping, A Piece of Eden and The Daytrippers. His television credits include The West Wing, Arrested Development, Two and a Half Men, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Chicago P.D. and most notably as publicist J.J. Mitchell on HBO’s Sex and the City. He also co-stars with Zach Galifianakis and Jon Hamm in the Fox 2000 film Keeping up with the Joneses.

John Hoogenakker (George through 7/17) has appeared at Writers Theatre in Port Authority, Travels With My Aunt, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and The Puppetmaster of Lodz. His Chicago credits include The Iceman Cometh (Goodman Theatre and BAM), Wait until Dark (Court Theatre), 100 Saints You Should Know (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), The Retreat from Moscow (Northlight Theatre), Othello (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Killer Joe (The Theatre at 2851 N. Halsted) and The Bomb-itty of Errors (Royal George Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater). His regional credits include Escape from Happiness (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), the title role in Hamlet (Illinois Shakespeare Festival) and Work Song: Three Views of Frank Lloyd Wright (Kansas City Repertory Theatre and Arizona Theatre Company). Selected film credits include Flags of Our Fathers (Warner Brothers), Public Enemies (Universal), A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (New Line) and At Any Price (Sony). Selected television credits include Chicago Fire (NBC), Empire (Fox), Boss (Starz) and The Girlfriend Experience (Starz). John has also appeared in many short films and commercials, and his voice-over work includes campaigns for McDonald's, BMO Harris Bank, OnStar and Comcast.

Keith Kupferer (Willy Loman beginning 8/2makes his Writers Theatre debut. His Chicago include The QualmsGood People, Middletown, South of Settling, Of Mice & Men, Carter's WayMen of Tortuga, Things Being What They AreJesus Hopped The A TrainTavern Story (Steppenwolf); Never the Sinner, Appropriate (Victory Gardens Theater);The Humans (American Theatre Company); God of CarnageHigh HolidaysPassion PlayThe Old Neighborhood (Goodman Theatre); Gypsy (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); End Days (Windy City Playhouse); Execution of Justice (About Face Theatre); Cat FeetThe Old Neighborhood (Northlight); Desire Under The Elms, (Philadelphia’s Freedom Theatre/Court); How the World Began, American Wee-Pie (Rivendell Theatre); The UnseenThe MeekCanus Lunis BalloonisThe Physicists (A Red Orchid); Big Lake, Big City, Trust and Hillbilly Antigone (Lookingglass Theatre); Shear Madness. TV/Film: “Better Call Saul,” “Betrayal,” “Crisis,” “Chicago Fire,” “Detroit 187,” “The Beast,” “Prison Break,” “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment,” “Early Edition,” The DilemmaThe Dark KnightPublic Enemies, The ExpressStranger Than Fiction, Road to PerditionFinding SantaFred Klaus, The Last Rights of Joe May, The Merry Gentleman and the soon to be released Resurrecting McGinn and Open Tables.

Michael Perez (Stanley Kowalski) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in The Liar. Chicago credits include Yasmina's Necklace (16th Street Theater), Funnyman (Northlight Theatre), Short Shakes! Macbeth (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), The Foreigner (Provision Theater) and three winters in Goodman Theatre's A Christmas Carol. He has done Shakespeare under the Stars with American Players Theatre, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Door Shakespeare and Riverside Theater. Michael is a proud Stakeholder in the Back Room Shakespeare Project.

Karen Janes Woditsch (Martha) has appeared at Writers Theatre in Doubt: A Parable, Do the Hustle, Yellow Moon, Heartbreak House, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Beats, Blake, Butley, Candida, The Doctor's Dilemma, Fallen Angels, In the Heart of Winter '93 - '96, Love & Lunacy, Othello (After Dark Award - Outstanding Performance), A Phoenix Too Frequent, A Play on Words, Rocket to the Moon, Seagull and Spite for Spite. Her Chicago credits include Domesticated (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Rapture, Blister Burn, A Christmas Carol, Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Goodman Theatre), M. Butterfly (Court Theatre), To Master the Art (TimeLine Theatre Company and Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, Joseph Jefferson Award nomination—Actress in a Principal Role); and work at Northlight Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater, among others. Her regional credits include eight seasons with Peninsula Players Theatre, and a summer with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. Her TV credits include Chicago P.D., Runner and Crisis. Her film credits include Bad Johnson and American Fable.

Accessible Performances
ASL-Interpreted performance: Thursday, July 14 at 7:30pm
Open-Captioned performance: Friday, July 15 at 7:30pm

Post Show Conversation: The Artist
Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding previews) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team. 

Post Show Conversation: The Word
Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding previews) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

In an effort to promote taking public transit to the Theatre, Writers Theatre launched a new promotion in 2013. Any audience member who purchases a ticket to a Writers Theatre production and rides Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to the Theatre may snap a photo of themselves on the train and post it to their Facebook page or Twitter feed with a tag of @WritersTheatre and #[the title of the show], and upon showing the post at the Writers Theatre Box Office, receive $5 in cash to put toward the cost of your fare as a thank you for going green.

This promotion is available for a limited time only, and may end without warning. Ticket must have been paid for in advance. Not valid on comp tickets. More information available at

Writers Theatre is pleased to recognize BMO Harris Bank as Inaugural Season Sponsor and Lead Sponsor of the Grand Opening Gala and Opening Events during the 2015/16 Season. UBS is serving as Corporate Sponsor of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody, and ComEd as Official Lighting Sponsor. This production is also supported by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, who is providing New Work Series Support during the 2015/16 Season. Additionally, Writers Theatre is grateful to the following individuals for their support of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody: Susan and Don Belgrad, Christopher S. Pfaff and Sara Pfaff, and Merle Reskin as Artists Council Sponsors; Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin as From Page to Stage Sponsors, John and Shila Kastl, Beth L. Kronfeld and Matthew D. Means, and Kevin and Ellen Van Wart as Director’s Society Sponsors, and Paul Fox, Onnie and Steven Scheyer, and Marilyn and Michael Vender in memory of Andrea Fox.

For more information about Writers Theatre’s 2015/16 Partners, visit

Over the past twenty-four seasons, Writers Theatre has become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence. Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has been deemed the “best drama company in the nation” by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of 35,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry. Prized for the finest interpretations of classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues, Writers Theatre’s acclaimed work includes Artistic Director Michael Halberstam’s world premiere in Glencoe and subsequent productions of A Minister’s Wife at Lincoln Center Theater and West Coast premiere at the San Jose Repertory Theatre; David Cromer’s productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Picnic; and the commissioning, world premiere and New York premiere of Crime and Punishment, which has received more than 30 subsequent regional theater productions.

Writers Theatre continues with the $34 million On to a New Stage Campaign, of which $33.2 million has been raised to date. The campaign establishes the company's first permanent home in a new theatre center in downtown Glencoe, designed by the award-winning, internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by Founding Design Principal Jeanne Gang, in collaboration with Theatre Consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. This allows the Theatre to continue to grow to accommodate its audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy. The new facility resonates with and complement the Theatre’s neighboring Glencoe community, adding tremendous value to Chicagoland and helping to establish the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.

Find Writers Theatre on Facebook at or follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter. For more information, visit

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