Violet: A Musical (September 17 - October 16, 2011)

Music by Jeanine Tesori / Lyrics and Book by Brian Crawley / Based on

Direction and Movement by Elizabeth Margolius

Musical Direction by Andra Velis Simon

Performed September 17th – October 16th, 2011
The Mercury Theater
3745 N Southport Ave, Chicago

With music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Brian Crawley, VIOLET is set in 1964 in the Deep South during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. The story follows the growth and enlightenment of a bitter young woman accidentally scarred by her father. In hopes that a TV evangelist can cure her, she embarks on a journey by bus from her sleepy North Carolina town to Oklahoma. Along the way, she meets a young black soldier who teaches her about beauty, love, courage and what it means to be an outsider.

One of the most acclaimed off-Broadway shows of the ’90s, Violet has astounded critics and audiences alike with its powerful story and its energetic, toe-tapping gospel, rock, country, and R&B score. Winner of the Drama Critics’ Circle Award and Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical.

  • “Whether by Greyhound, taxi or train, get your tail down to the Mercury Theatre for this lovely, hopeful and touching musical” Chicago Theater Addict – Bob Bullen
  • “VIOLET is unforgettably lovely! The visual has a stylistic fluidity. The harmonies are inspirational melodies. I believe the combo is its own little divinity miracle.” The Fourth Walsh – Katy Walsh
  • “Ms. France’s soaring vocal achievements and delicate acting choices take this production to the next level, creating one of this season’s most vibrant, memorable performances.” Centerstage Chicago – Colin Douglas
  • “Jeanine Tesori’s score–a complex blend of bluegrass, jazz, blues, and gospel–is lovely. Its intricate harmonies are a pleasure to hear in Bailiwick Chicago’s beautifully sung production.” Chicago Reader – Zac Thompson
  • “Bailiwick’s ‘Violet’ redeems the soul” – ChicagoPride.com
  • “All the performances are top-notch” – Windy City Times
  • “Bailiwick’s ensemble excels musically” – TimeOut Chicago

Harmony France

Harmony France

HARMONY FRANCE (VIOLET) is honored to be working with one of the most talented casts and creative teams of her career, and to be making her Bailiwick Chicago debut in the role of a lifetime. With Bailiwick Repertory she was seen as Emma in Tell me on a Sunday and Zandra in the Jeff-award winning American premiere of Jerry Springer: the Opera. She has also worked with Blue Moon Studio Theater, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, City Lit Theatre, Hell in a Handbag Productions, Peninsula Players, Porchlight Music Theatre, Quest Theatre Ensemble, Theatre at the Center, and Victory Gardens. Favorite roles include Mother in Ragtime, The Witch in Into the Woods, Woman 2 in Songs for a New World, Magdalena inBernarda Alba, and Lou Ellen in Oh Boy! She is a proud collective member of Bailiwick Chicago and would like to thank Kate, Kevin, and Chris for everything they’ve done behind the scenes for this production. She would also like to thank Elizabeth and Andra for being brilliant, caring, demanding her best, and continuing to believe in her. Up next Harmony will be in Secret Garden at Light Opera Works and Rise of the Numberless with New Colony/Bailiwick Chicago. This performance is dedicated to her father, mother, grandpa, uncle, aunt, 2 brothers, 4 nephews, 1 niece, and 1 roommate/best friend. www.harmonyfrance.com

Glynis Gilio

Glynis Gilio

GLYNIS GILIO (YOUNG VIOLET) is thrilled to make her Bailiwick Chicago debut in Violet. Recent credits: Shirley Talley in Fifth of July at Infamous Commonwealth Theatre (ICT); Belinda Cratchit in A Christmas Carol at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre; Fern in Charlotte’s Web at Epic Theatre Company; Betty Parris in The Crucible at ICT; Shirley Talley in Fifth of July at Oak Park Theatre Festival; Ruthie Joad in The Grapes of Wrath at ICT and Samantha/Kaya in The American Girls Revue at Chicago’s American Girl Place. Glynis just started her sophomore year of high school. She would like to thank her family and everyone at Bailiwick Chicago for their support.

John B. Leen

John B. Leen

JOHN B. LEEN (FATHER) is excited to be a part of this incredible production. This past year, John was seen in The Student Prince at Light Opera Works, understudied The Outgoing Tide at Northlight Theatre with John Mahoney and Rondi Reed, and floated on the award-winning Big River with BoHo.  Last season John won a Jeff Citation for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for Chess with Theo Ubique. Credits include Wings at Apple Tree, the Jeff Citation-winning American premiere of Jerry Springer:The Opera at Bailiwick Repertory, Boho’s Jekyll & Hyde and the premiere of Main-Travelled Roads with American Folklore Theater. Thanks to Sam and my parents, and thank you for supporting live theater!

Nancy Kolton

Nancy Kolton

NANCY KOLTON (HOTEL SINGER/OLD LADY) marks her debut with the “new” Bailiwick Chicago. Most recently she was seen as the Reverend Mother in Nunsense at Metropolis Performing Arts Center. Previously Nancy has performed in Bailiwick Repertory’s productions of A Man of No Importance, Jerry Springer: The Opera, Bare and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Thank you for supporting live theatre! Enjoy!

Kevin M. Grubb

Kevin M. Grubb

KEVIN M. GRUBB (MECHANIC) is delighted to be working with Bailiwick Chicago again; having last been seen in Bloom.  He was recently seen as Wilson in TimeLine Theatre’s production of The Front Page;  and before that as Errol the Barrister in Boojum: Truth, Nonsense and Lewis Carroll with Caffeine Theatre and Chicago Opera Vanguard.  Kevin is a proud member of Open Eye Productions; favorite roles with OEP include McKeever in The Solid Gold Cadillac; Harding in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Sam Byck in Assassins; Kolenkhov in You Can’t Take it with You; The Captain in Christopher Durang’s Titanic among others.  Kevin has worked with several other theatre companies including: Hell in a Handbag; Infamous Commenwealth; Signal Theatre Ensemble; Strawdog; Bailiwick Repertory; Theatre Building Chicago; Wayside Theatre; Porchlight Music Theatre; Circle Theatre; Light Opera Works and Steppenwolf.  Hooray ‘Nidge!

Danni Smith

Danni Smith

DANNI SMITH (MABEL/MUSIC HALL SINGER) is thrilled to make her Bailiwick Chicago debut with Violet! Heartfelt gratitude to the entire Violet team for playing with your whole hearts–especially Elizabeth, Andra and “The Flockers”.  Previous credits include Some Enchanted Evening (Theo Ubique), The Glorious Ones (BoHo), Rudolph The Red-Hosed Reindeer (Hell in a Handbag), Living Quarters (Strangeloop), Oklahoma! (ATC), Bernarda Alba (BoHo), …Forum (Noble Fool), and MacBeth (Illinois Shakespeare Festival). Next, you can catch her (and Jim and Courtney!) in Pump Boys and Dinettes at Theo Ubique this winter. Big love to Martin, her WM’s, and her wonderful family for their steadfast support and love. Danni thanks YOU for being a rockstar and supporting live theatre!

Ryan Gaffney

Ryan Gaffney

RYAN GAFFNEY (BILLY DEAN/VIRGIL) is pleased to be making his Chicago theatre debut with Bailiwick. Favorite regional credits include Into The Woods (Jack), Big River (Huck), Hair (Claude), Peter Pan (Smee), and Snoopy! (Linus). Ryan would like to thank everyone at Bailiwick, and his friends, family, and Claire.

Evan Tyrone Martin

Evan Tyrone Martin

EVAN TYRONE MARTIN (FLICK) is thrilled to be working with Bailiwick Chicago for the first time! Some credits include: Dick in Dames at Sea, Jim in Big River, Seaweed in Hairspray, and Some Enchanted Evening (Theo Ubique). This winter, Evan is very excited to be working with Chicago Children’s Theater on a new musical adaption of the children’s book Good Night, Moon. I would like to thank this amazing cast and production team, the team at Paonessa Talent, my friends, and most of all my amazing family. EKM, JWR this is for you! www.evantmartin.weebly.com

Courtney Crouse

Courtney Crouse

COURTNEY CROUSE (MONTY) couldn’t be happier to be a part of such a talented cast.  A graduate of Stephens College, Courtney has been living and performing in the Chicago area for the past 5 years.  Area credits include work with Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, Emerald City Theatre, Theo Ubique, Noble Fool, Circa ’21, TATC, Bailiwick and the Timber Lake Playhouse. In recent years he has been honored with the Joseph Jefferson award for both actor in a principle role (Chess) and actor in a supporting role (Big River) in a musical.  Special thanks to Kevin Mayes, Lili-Anne Brown, my wonderful friends and Mom and Dad.

Jim DeSelm

Jim DeSelm

JIM DeSELM (PREACHER) is always glad to be back with his friends at Bailiwick Chicago.  Previously, he has worked with Bailiwick in Show Us Your Love, Bloom (Rembrandt), and playing lead guitar for Departure Lounge.  He most recently appeared in the remount of Big River (Tom Sawyer) with BoHo Theater Ensemble.  Other favorite Chicago credits include The Wedding Singer (Glen) with Circle Theater; Jesus Christ Superstar with Theater at the Center; Pump Boys and Dinettes (Jackson) and A Christmas Carol (Fred) with Metropolis Performing Arts Center.  Jim will be playing LM and Music Directing Theo Ubique’s upcoming production of Pump Boys and Dinettes.  He sends love to his beautiful wife, Karri.

Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth Gray

ELIZABETH GRAY (GOSPEL SINGER/LANDLADY) Previous theatre credits include Ayah in THE SECRET GARDEN with Stages St. Louis, Peggy in the Midwest premiere of MEET JOHN DOE (Porchlight Music Theatre) Aunt Em in THE WIZARD OF OZ (Emerald City Theatre) and PORGY AND BESS with Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Recent concert/recital credits include Shoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), “Aaron Copland and American Music” (Chicago Symphony preview series), and collaborative work with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.  Upcoming: Guest soloist with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra in Holiday Pops! and as Lalume in KISMET with the University of Findlay Symphony. Elizabeth is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan. www.grayandpurple.com

Sarah Bockel

Sarah Bockel

SARAH BOCKEL (VIOLET UNDERSTUDY) is thrilled for her debut with Bailiwick Chicago! She recently graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a BFA in music theatre. Past Chicago credits include The Rose of Stambul with Chicago Folks Operetta, Johnny Boy’s Graduation with the makers of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, Enter Love with Quest Ensemble, and Escape from Haltzburg Boys Choir with The Ruckus. Sarah spent the last two summers performing at The Lost Colony in Manteo, North Carolina and also at Post Playhouse in Fort Rombinson, Nebraska. Favorite past roles include Fosca in Passion and Dolly in Hello Dolly. Love to my wonderful family and friends for all their support.

ELIZABETH MARGOLIUS (DIRECTION & MOVEMENT) is thrilled to be again working with Bailiwick and such an incredible cast and crew!  She has worked in many capacities with theatres and universities throughout the country including:  the Santa Fe Opera, Florida Studio Theatre, Millikin University, Goodman Theatre, University of Northern Iowa, and Encompass New Opera Theatre in New York.  Chicago directorial credits include work with:  Bailiwick Chicago (Artistic Advisor/2010-present), Theatre Building Chicago/New Musical Development (Artistic Associate/2007-2009), Silk Road Theatre Project, Steel Beam Theatre, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, Theatre on the Lake, Stage Left Theatre, Live Bait Theater, and the Center for Cultural Interchange.  Elizabeth is currently collaborating with Tony nominated composer, Paul Gordon, on a musical adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest, and is co-devising and directing Opus 1861 with City Lit Theater opening in Spring, 2012.  Elizabeth is an alumna of the 2004 and 2005 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in New York, a 2007 recipient of a full directorial scholarship at the Wesley Balk Opera-Music Theater Institute in Minneapolis, a 2009 respondent and workshop artist for Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival, and a 2010 finalist for the Charles Abbott Fellowship.  She is the co-founder and co-artistic director of DirectorsLabChicago, a forum for emerging nationally and internationally based stage directors now in its seventh year.  Elizabeth is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

ANDRA VELIS SIMON (MUSIC DIRECTOR) is the Musical Director for the Theater Department at Columbia College Chicago, overseeing all musical needs of the department, teaching performance courses for musical theater majors, and music directing most mainstage productions (recently Floyd Collins and LaChiusa’s The Wild Party).  As a music director, arranger, and accompanist, Andra has had the pleasure of working with dozens of Chicago institutions, including City Lit, Hell in a Handbag, The Hypocrites, Lifeline, Signal, Strawdog, Victory Gardens, and many others.  Recent highlights include The Hundred Dresses with Chicago Children’s Theatre and Boojum! with Chicago Opera Vanguard and Caffeine Theatre.  Enormous thanks to the wonderful cast, dedicated crew, and generous musicians working on Violet, and special thanks as always to Jamie.

KATE GARASSINO (PRODUCING DIRECTOR/MANAGING DIRECTOR) most recently directed Bailiwick Chicago’s SHOW US YOUR LOVE and assistant directed for several Bailiwick Repertory productions such as Dennis DeYoung’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, TELL ME ON A SUNDAY, and many one night revues.  She has also co-produced Bailiwick Chicago’s productions AIDA and FUCKING MEN.  Kate can sometimes be caught on stage. Select credits include Lady Thiang in Porchlight Music Theatre’s THE KING & I (Nominated for Equity Jeff Award – Best Supporting Actress, 2011); BOMBS AWAY (Non-Equity Jeff Award Recipient – Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, 2010), JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA, MY FAVORITE YEAR, KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN, PARADE and DR. SEX (Bailiwick Repertory); SIDE SHOW (Boho Theatre); and MISS SAIGON (Marriott).  Her absolute devotion and pride goes out to all the designers, production team and artists who have been a part of this crazy ride to the Mercury Theatre. To all the audience members, friends and family members who have supported us, thank you for being a part of our journey! A special thanks to Christopher Pazdernik, one of the most humble and talented artists and collaborators I know; Thank you for everything. Much love to RWT for keeping me grounded.

KEVIN D. MAYES (CO-PRODUCER) Kevin started as an assistant to director Lloyd Richards at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference after graduating from Yale. While in NYC, he worked as an actor at various theater companies. Portraying Hyppolytus in kabuki makeup, diaper and a wheelchair at the Living Theater was a… highlight?  Another was coordinating music for the original production of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig at Lincoln Center. He moved to Chicago and co-founded a web start-up, then became a muckety-muck at Aon Corp. Ten years ago he married the love of his life Javid. Their son Ahkeem is now 17 (YIKES!), and is the coolest kid he’s ever met. Period. Really. Kevin left “corporate” and returned to the theater just in time for the recession. Favorite projects include The Adding Machine at Next, Gross Indecency at Boho, End Of The Tour at 16th street, and My Favorite Year and A Man Of No Importance at the old Bailiwick Repertory (Jeff-nominated for both). He’s currently developing an original musical titled Bloom about “tulipmania”, works as the VP of Product Development at RemCare (www.remcareinc.com), and is doing everything he can to keep Bailiwick Chicago up and running.

CHRISTOPHER PAZDERNIK (ASSOCIATE PRODUCER) has made his home in Chicago theater for the past four years.  As a director, producer, choreographer, stage manager, PR manager, and even once as an understudy, he has worked with Porchlight Music Theatre (Artistic Associate), Bailiwick Repertory, Village Players, Theo Ubique, Rasaka Theatre, and here at Bailiwick Chicago.  He also works full-time as the Advancement Associate at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.  This October, he will be directing and producing Un-Type Cast: A Broadway Backwards Cabaret at Davenport’s Piano Bar in Wicker Park.  It has been a privilege to work with Kate on producing Violet.

DAREN LEONARD (ASSISTANT DIRECTOR) currently serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Directors Lab Chicago. He worked for five years as the Artistic Director of HealthWorks Theatre, an educational theatre company working with communities to address critical health and social issues for teens. During his tenure at HealthWorks he helped create three new productions while maintaining their repertoire of touring productions. Daren has also worked with Not Waiting Productions, Candentia Theatre, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, Ozark Actors Theatre, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and Northeastern State University of Oklahoma.  Daren is a proud graduate of Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts directing program.

JOHN ZUIKER (SET DESIGN) is very excited to be working with Bailiwick on this great show.  John received the 2010 Non-Eq. Jeff for his set design for BoHo’s I Am My Own Wife.  Some of his other Chicago credits include: Putting It Together, Pippin, Jekyll and Hyde, M. Butterfly, Songs for a New World, The Life, SIDESHOW, Smoke on the Mountain, The Time of Your Life, C.S. Lewis on Stage, Beast on the Moon, The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Glass Menagerie. He holds an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University.  You can see some of his work at www.johnzuiker.com

JULIAN PIKE (LIGHTING DESIGNER) is a Chicago based designer who is back to freelancing after spending the past three seasons at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as the lighting apprentice, where he had the opportunity to assist several talented lighting designers. Extensive design credits for Chicago companies include Seanachai Theatre Company, The Strange Tree Group, Porchlight Music Theatre, Griffin Theatre Company, Chamber Opera Chicago, Inaside Chicago Dance, Mordine & Co. Dance Theatre, Pinebox Theater, Chicago Folk’s Opera, Evanston Children’s Theatre, The Artistic Home, Redmoon, and Chicago Opera Theatre among others. He holds a M.F.A. in Theatrical Design & Technology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

BILL MOREY (COSTUME DESIGNER) designed Bailiwick Collective’s Departure Lounge and F**king Men.  He recently made his Off Broadway debut doing costumes for Tomorrow Morning at the York.  He received a 2008 Equity Jeff Award for costuming Porchlight Music Theatre’s Nine as well as a nominations in 2009 for Candide, 2010 for Into the Woods and 2011 for The King and I. He has received two After Dark Awards and two Broadway World Chicago award nominations.  He has worked with  Boho, Timeline, Lifeline, Theo Ubique, Griffin, Piven, Hell in a Handbag, The Scooty and JoJo Show and others.  www.billmorey.com

ANDREW WATERS (CHOREOGRAPHY) is thrilled to be working with Bailiwick again. He assisted Brenda Didier on the Jeff Award winning Baliwick presentations of Dennis De Young’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and the exciting American premiere of Jerry Springer The Opera. Mr. Waters is currently choreographing an opera production of A Christmas Carol for Northeastern University where he also co-directed and choreographed their production of The Secret Garden last season. He choreographed productions of The Fantasticks, Pacific Overtures, Sunday in the Park with George, and Candide for Porchlight Music Theatre. Andrew has served as guest choreographer/instructor at Northwestern, Northeastern, and Illinois Benedictine Universities and has been a freelance choreographer of over 40 Chicago shows. Mr. Waters has been a proud member of Actor’s Equity for the last eighteen years and wants to thank you for supporting live theater and this great theater company!

BEAU FORBES (FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY) Last seen in Bailiwick’s Fucking Men, Beau has been choreographing stage combat since Johnny Appleseed outdoor drama in 2005. Previous shows choreographed for Bailiwick include Fucking Men and Aida last summer. Beau has also worked with Griffin Theatre on Port and Project 891 Theatre Company on Epic Proportions, as well as with Hobo Junction for The Regulars and Bad Guys in Suits. Favorite previous productions include The Lost Colony in Manteo, NC where Beau got to spend two summers in a loincloth wielding a tomahawk as the assistant fight choreographer and fight captain. Beau would like to thank the Bailiwick family for giving him this opportunity and his mother for not letting him play with weapons as a child.

ROBERT OLLIS (ORCHESTRATIONS) is excited to be working with Andra and Elizabeth and playing keyboard for “Violet”.  Robert is one of the founding collective members of Bailiwick Chicago, where he served as Co-Music Director of Elton John’s “AIDA” last year.  Robert recently served as Music Director for Victory Gardens Theatre’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, plus earlier VGT productions of “Anything Goes” and “Mame”.  Robert received a non-equity Jeff Award for his musical direction of “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and a nomination for “A Man of No Importance”.  In recent years, he has music-directed such fun shows as “My Favorite Year”, “The Cousins Grimm”, The Who’s “Tommy”, Bailiwick Chicago’s “Show Us Your Love” and Dennis DeYoung’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.  On the cabaret scene, Robert has accompanied Alexandra Billings at Feinstein’s in NYC, and has worked with singers Andrea Marcovicci, Danni Smith, Alanda Coon and Jeremy Rill.  He has played the piano for productions of “Bombs Away”, “First Lady Suite” and “Patience and Sarah”.  He has been the music director for a number of musical revues of Broadway show tunes, showcasing talented performers in songs of Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Flaherty, Jerry Herman and Jason Robert Brown.  He was part of the musical teams of such Chicago favorites as “Parade”, “The Christmas Schooner”, “Bare: a Pop Opera” and “A Kiss from Alexander”.

CHARLIE RASMANN (STAGE MANAGER) Charlie could not be more proud to call Bailiwick Chicago his home and the cast and crew his family.  He holds a BFA in Musical Theater Performance from Rockford College and cannot hide his love of all that is Disney.  Charlie recently stage managed The Underpants (Hubris Productions) and assistant stage managed The Island, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (Remy Bumppo). Charlie is also the new Production Manager for Jonny Stax Presents. www.charlierasmann.com

RACHEL SELLERS (PRODUCTION MANAGER) worked at Six Flags in Gurnee, IL, the Palladium in Carmel, IN, and the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis, IN. Rachel graduated from Vincennes University with an Associate in Technical Theatre. Her career goal is to become a professional Production Manager.

JEANINE TESORI (COMPOSER) Hailed as the one of the leading voices in American musical theatre, Ms. Tesori is an award winning composer, record producer and conductor. Tesori’s most recent works include SHREK THE MUSICAL, CAROLINE, OR CHANGE, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, and VIOLET. Among VIOLET’s many honors were the 1997 Drama Critics Circle Award, the Lortel Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical, an Obie, a Richard Rodgers Production Award, an AT&T Production Award and seven Drama Desk nominations. Ms. Tesori lives in Manhattan with her husband, conductor Michael Rafter, and their daughter Siena.

BRIAN CRAWLEY (BOOK & LYRICS) Brian Crawley is a playwright and screenwriter. Recently he wrote the book and lyrics for A LITTLE PRINCESS (composer Andrew Lippa) which debuted at Theatreworks of Palo Alto in the summer of 2004. For the libretto of VIOLET, Brian won the Kleban Award. Brian’s plays have been developed or staged at Lincoln Center, New York Theater Workshop, and the Eugene O’Neill summer theater conference. He majored in Theater Studies at Yale and got an MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Brian is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

As part of our creative process building up to a production, we encourage the artists in our company to capture their own interpretations of the production through the use of artwork, photography, or any other medium they feel inspired to work through. Here is our interpretation of Violet: A Musical.