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James Sherman's New Play "Door To Door" On Tap Next At Victory Gardens In Chicago

Source: Off Loop

CHICAGO, IL, September 27, 1999 -- Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble member James Sherman brings his special view to the annals of Chicago Jewish life in his newest work, Door to Door, Victory Gardens1 second production of the 1999-2000 season. When one woman reflects on her past as a daughter, a wife, and a mother, who does she see? As Saving Private Ryan was a tribute to the men who went to war, Door to Door is a celebration of the women who stayed home. Roslyn Alexander, Cheryl Ross Mitchell and Kim Wade will star in Sherman1s poignant world premiere about seventy years in the life of one American Jewish woman. Victory Gardens Artistic Director Dennis Zacek will direct. Previews begin November 12. Press opening is November 22, 7:30 p.m. curtain. Door to Door runs through December 19. For tickets, call Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, 773.871.3000 (tty: 773.871.0682.)

Of the 15 million immigrants who came to America at the beginning of the twentieth century, between two and three million of them were Jewish citizens from Eastern Europe. Approximately three hundred thousand of them came to Chicago. They, their children, and their children's children continued to migrate across the Chicago metropolitan area. One of them was Sherman, author of Door to Door, and such Victory Gardens smash hits as The God of Isaac, Beau Jest and Jest a Second! His comedic talents were recognized early on when the Chicago Sun-Times dubbed Sherman 3the Neil Simon of Lincoln Avenue2 after The God of Isaac, his first play about a young Jewish man1s search for spirituality in the face of a threatened neo-Nazi march in Skokie, debuted at Victory Gardens in 1985. Door to Door also marks the return to the Victory Gardens stage of Roslyn Alexander, a true Chicago favorite thanks to her memorable performances in Victory Gardens1 original productions of The God of Isaac, Beau Jest and Jest a Second!

In fact, the Sherman/Zacek/Alexander troika has yielded many of Victory Gardens1 longest-running hits, and the theater1s most successful productions elsewhere. Alexander enjoyed extended runs in several Sherman plays in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where she was subsequently booked by Mike Nichols for Neil Simon1s Prisoner of 2nd Avenue. In Chicago, her most recent appearances have been Collected Stories and Moonlight at Organic, A Perfect Ganesh at Northlight, The Importance of Being Earnest at Court, The American Plan at National Jewish Theatre, Greetings at Victory Gardens, and Steel Magnolias at the Royal George. She won a Jeff Award for best actress in Wings at Wisdom Bridge. She has numerous commercial, film and TV credits, and she reads classic literature on Chicago1s Fine Arts Station, WFMT.

Cheryl Ross Mitchell began her acting career playing opposite James Sherman more than 30 years ago in The Fantasticks at Niles North High School. She launched her professional acting career in The Magic Man with David Copperfield at the First Chicago Center, which began a two-year association with Copperfield, performing and co-developing his early theatrical illusions. Cheryl has spent most of the last 25 years living and working in New York City. In addition to being one of New York1s most successful corporate event planners, she was a student of Robert Lewis, and played Masha in his production of The Seagull at Mirror Rep. She most recently appeared in Chicago in a staged reading of Susan Nussbaum1s new play No One as Nasty at Famous Door.

Kim Wade was last seen as Natalie in Victory Gardens1 world premiere of Danny Bouncing. Wade was an associate member at Chicago1s Footsteps Theatre, where she performed in the all-female Twelfth Night, as Cassie in Deeper Shade of Blue, and as one of the combatants in the highly acclaimed Babes with Blades. She is a graduate of Second City1s Training Center, and for three years performed with Chicago1s Comedysportz Improv Troupe.

Dennis Zacek has been artistic director at Victory Gardens for more than 20 years. He has directed more than 150 productions, most recently Kristine Thatcher1s Among Friends, Lonnie Carter1s The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy and Lemuel, Jeffrey Sweet1s Flyovers, Charles Smith1s The Sutherland and Jelly Belly, James Sherman1s Romance in D, and Steve Carter1s Root Causes. Zacek also directed Jeffrey Sweet1s Ties, which ran in Chicago for six months and was made into a WTTW-TV special, and Steve Carter1s Pecong, which won a Jeff Award for Best New Work. New York directing credits include Jest a Second! at the Jewish Rep, Beau Jest at the Lambs Theatre, Greetings! at the John Houseman Theater, and Jelly Belly and The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy at the New Federal Theater. Last spring, Actors Equity awarded Zacek and his wife, Marcelle McVey, the Rosetta LeNoire Award, a national honor given to a theater that has made significant contributions through non-traditional and/or multi-cultural casting. In 1997, Zacek received the Illinois Arts Alliance Foundation1s 1997 Sidney R. Yates Arts Advocacy Award, and the Chicago Drama League1s Crystal Award. Also an actor, Zacek starred as Clarence Darrow in John Logan1s Never the Sinner at Victory Gardens in 1995, which earned him an Academy of Theatre Artists and Friends Award.

James Sherman1s other plays include Mr. 80%, The Escape Artist and This Old Man Came Rolling Home. His biggest success, Beau Jest, ran for more than two years Off-Broadway at Lambs Theatre in an Arthur Cantor production, has been seen in Canada, Mexico, South Africa, England, Venezuela, Australia, Turkey and Germany, and earlier this year at the Studio Theatre in Los Angeles. Its sequel, the 1995 Victory Gardens hit Jest A Second!, debuted Off-Broadway at New York1s National Jewish Theatre in 1997, and was most recently presented by the Long Beach Playhouse and the Mud Creek Players in Indianapolis. Sherman1s new screenplay, Brave Men Run in My Family, was a finalist in the 1999 Cinestory Screenwriting Competition. Before his association with Victory Gardens, Sherman was a writer and performer at Second City, and an acting student of Uta Hagen.

Times, Dates, and Ticket Information Door to Door will run November 12 through December 19 on the Burstein Stage at Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago. Previews are November 12 through 21: Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; 7 p.m. on the first Sunday preview (November 14); 3 p.m. on the final Sunday preview (November 21.) Previews are $18 - 21. Press opening is Monday, November 22, 7:30 p.m. curtain. Performances run through December 19: Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m. Performances are $25 - $30. There is a 2 p.m. matinee on December 8. Tickets are $25; $5 off for seniors. There are no evening performances November 23 or December 7 and 8. For tickets, call 773.871.3000 (tty: 773.871.0682.) Call 773.549.5788 for special group rates. Discounted parking is available one block north at Children1s Memorial Hospital.

Access Project performance schedule for persons with disabilities Thanks to the Victory Gardens Access Project, an innovative program that uses technology to make live theater more accessible for persons with disabilities, Victory Gardens is now Chicago1s number one presenter of barrier-free live theater. Single tickets to all Access performances are $20. Access dates for Door to Door are:

December 10 at 8 p.m.; December 19 at 3 p.m.: performed with audio-descriptions for the blind December 8 at 2 p.m.; December 17 at 8 p.m.; December 18 at 5 p.m.: performed with word for word captioning for the hearing impaired

December 9 at 8 p.m.; December 17 at 8 p.m.: performed with sign language for the hearing impaired

All four theaters at Victory Gardens are accessible, and equipped with the AudioLink Personal Listening System to serve the hearing impaired. Braille and large print programs are also available.

A Look Ahead to Victory Gardens 26th Anniversary Season

For audiences who prefer fresh, new, world premiere theater over revivals, repeats and reinterpretations of the classics, Victory Gardens Theater continues to be Chicago1s hot bed of new plays. The theater continues its singular commitment to new work in 1999-2000 with five consecutive world premieres, each written by a member of the Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble. Following Jeffrey Sweet1s Bluff and James Sherman1s Door to Door will be Knock Me a Kiss (January 21 - February 27), a new historical drama about the daughter of W.E.B. Dubois by Charles Smith, author of Jelly Belly and The Sutherland. Victory Gardens1 fourth play is the world premiere of Voice of Good Hope (March 17 - April 23), a new dramatic tribute to the late congresswoman Barbara Jordan starring Cheryl Lynn Bruce by Kristine Thatcher, author of Emma1s Child and Among Friends. Victory Gardens1 26th season finale will feature Sharon Gless, best-known from TV1s Cagney & Lacey, in Claudia Allen1s newest play, Cahoots (May 12 - June 18), a madcap comedy about a male and female playwriting team who chase fame, fortune and each other across several decades of the twentieth century. Five-play subscription packages are still available, starting at $100. Special three-play packages start at $43. Both are on sale by calling the Victory Gardens box office, 773.871.3000 tty: 773.871.0682.

Victory Gardens, designated an Established Regional Arts Institution by the Illinois Arts Council (IAC), is a participant in IAC1s Illinois Arts Treasures on Tour, a state-wide program providing Illinois communities with greater access to arts programming. Victory Gardens is also partially supported by grants from the Prince Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and a City Arts 3 Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

# # #

Press contact for Victory Gardens Theater:

Jay Kelly
Off Loop Marketing
2254 W. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60612
312.633.1992 (phone)
312.633.1994 (fax)

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