Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, will present Black Pearl Sings! by Frank Higgins, directed by Steve Scott. A powerful new play featuring Northlight favorites E. Faye Butler (Jeff Award-winner for Northlight’s Ella and Dinah Was) and Susie McMonagle (Northlight’s Snapshots, national tour of Billy Elliott and Mamma Mia!). The production runs January 13 – February 19, 2012 at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd. The press opening is on Friday, January 20, 2012.
Featuring beautiful, a cappella renditions of rare American folk songs, this play with music tells the Depression-era story of two extraordinary women dependant on one another to gain acceptance in a divided society. When Susannah, a song collector for the Library of Congress, overhears Pearl singing in a Texas prison, she will pull every string possible to introduce the woman with the silky voice and steely spirit to the world.
BJ Jones comments, “Black Pearl Sings! provides us a glimpse of two striking women in the economic torpor of the Depression who find strength, purpose and fulfillment through the bond of music, reaffirming the astonishing power of art in the face of the financial ruin of the time. One of the reasons for choosing Black Pearl Sings! was this very notion – that art survives, even thrives, through the need to seek succor and inspiration when the times turn turbulent.”
The designers are Jack Magaw (Set Design), Emily McConnell (Costume Design), Sarah Hughey (Lighting Design) and Christopher Kriz (Sound Design).
Jazz vocal artist Maggie Brown is the music consultant for Black Pearl Sings! She will consult on the authenticity of the range of music styles in the production—among them Gullah, and rare African American traditional and folk songs.
Frank Higgins (Playwright) is the author of The Sweet By 'n' By which was produced with Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow. His work has been seen in New York, and at the Williamstown Theater Festival, the Old Globe Theatre, Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theater, and many others. Among his other plays are WMKS: Where Music Kills Sorrow, Gunplay, and Miracles. Several scenes from Gunplay were read on Capitol Hill prior to Congress passing the ‘Brady Bill.’ He has also written several plays for young audiences, including Anansi the Spider and The Middle Passage which received a national tour with the Omaha Theatre Company for Young People; and The Country of the Blind. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Steve Scott (Director) is the Associate Producer of the Goodman Theatre, where he has overseen over 150 productions; he is also a member of the Goodman’s Artistic Collective. He has directed at a wide variety of Chicago theaters, including the Goodman, Shattered Globe, Silk Road, Next, Porchlight, Theatre Wit, Theatre at the Center, Organic Touchstone, Lifeline, Redtwist, and Eclipse, where he is a company member. He is a faculty member of Act One Studio and the Theatre Conservatory at the College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University, and has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs. He is an artistic associate of About Face, Collaboraction and Chicago Dramatists, and serves on the board of Season of Concern. Mr. Scott has received five Jeff nominations, an After Dark Award, and the Award of Honor from the Illinois Theatre Association.