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About the Plays

“The Sublime is Even Better”—Sarah Bernhardt, Actress/Entrepreneur

“There are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses—and then there is Sarah Bernhardt.” — Mark Twain Few figures of the 19th century allured the public as much as actress and entrepreneur Sarah Bernhardt. While many actors struggled to gain employment, Bernhardt created her own opportunities and eventually opened her…

76 Trombones, 62 Years Ago: The Debut of “The Music Man”

"The Music Man" creator Meredith Willson, a flautist and piccolo player, composer, conductor and musical arranger, seemed on the surface an unlikely candidate to create Broadway’s next hit, given his lack of experience in the medium....In the late 1940s, Willson began working on the first of his three autobiographies, "And There I Stood with My Piccolo." This lighthearted book explores Willson’s turn-of-the-20th-century childhood in Mason City, Iowa, where he adroitly honed the skills that enabled his professional career in music while also wholeheartedly participating in small town misadventures.

Falling in Love with the Stage Musical

From Leonard Bernstein’s "Candide" to the Damon Runyan-inspired "Guys and Dolls," to her own adaption of "The Jungle Book," Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman has brought her unique style to this beloved American entertainment. She’s long exercised her chops on the Goodman stage and now returns with "The Music Man," the 1957 classic about a smooth-talking swindler and the small Midwestern town he wraps around his little finger.

A Seven-Play Success

“One of the most significant literary achievements in modern-day Chicago” ("Chicago Tribune")—Ike Holter’s seven-play “Rightlynd Saga”—is now complete. Courtesy of the playwright and dramaturg Kendra Miller, here is a look back at these remarkable works.

Blue Collar Blues

As historians often try to make clear, the us-and-them divisiveness that defines American life today did not spring full-blown from the election of 2016: our cultural discord goes back decades. And while its causes are varied, the threads of race and the economy are woven deep into the fabric of this dilemma. With "Sweat"—for which she won her second Pulitzer Prize—playwright Lynn Nottage unravels these knots and reminds us that so much of what sets us at odds is often beyond our control.

7-10 Split: Twilight Bowl by Rebecca Gilman

Lives that derail. Lives that never get up to speed. Ordinary people. Challenging circumstances. Playwright Rebecca Gilman is at home describing worlds in which folks find it tough to stand as straight as everyone thinks they should, or struggle to find a measure of contentment. 

Life Lessons

"The present,” wrote author and folklorist, Zora Neale Hurston, “was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.” Witness Christina Anderson’s How to Catch Creation—with its overlapping time frames and intersecting lives—and that metaphoric musing makes all the sense in the world. The story of a couple drifting apart, of…