New Music Offerings Headline Wirtz Center’s 2022-23 Mainstage Season


EVANSTON, Ill. – The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts at Northwestern University announces its 2022-2023 season filled with musicals, dramas and theater for young audiences from celebrated theater makers.

“This season’s programming offers audiences both reimagined classics and compelling original stories,” said Tanya Palmer, associate dean and executive artistic director of Northwestern’s School of Communication.

The season kicks off with Imagine U’s “Me…Jane: The Dreams and Adventures of Jane Goodall,” from October 22 through November 11. 6 at the Josephine Louis Theater, directed by Professor Northwestern Rives Collins. Join young Jane Goodall and her special friend Jubilee as they learn about the world around them and the importance of protecting all living species.

For the duration of the show, approximately 800 third-grade students from School District 65 in Evanston/Skokie will see the show as part of a new partnership between Northwestern University and Schools in District 65 to bring live theater to young people in the community. For more than a decade, Northwestern’s Wirtz Center has presented Imagine U’s popular performance series created especially for families with young children.

“We are thrilled to highlight two Northwestern alumni this fall, including director Jessica Fisch and playwright Sofya Levitsky-Weitz, who return to the Wirtz Center after establishing national careers in theater, television and film,” said Palmer.

“As You Like It” is a cheerful new musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous play, directed by Fisch, an alumnus of the MFA Directing Program. This immersive, dreamlike tale of loyal friends, feuding families, and lovers in disguise runs November 11-20 at the Ethel M. Barber Theater.

“Be Mean To Me,” a new play by MFA Writing Program alum Levitsky-Weitz, will wrap up the fall performance schedule Nov. 18-20 at the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater. Halena Kays, assistant professor of theater in the northwest, paints this portrait of the power of friendship and the damage we can inflict on each other in the name of love, desire and ambition.

The Wirtz Center Flexpass is available now through December 31, 2022, for $115, including six admissions to any Wirtz 2022-23 production or Waa-Mu Show. Flexpasses can be redeemed for six one-show tickets, two three-show tickets or any other combination during the 2022-23 season. Single tickets will go on sale September 20.

The Wirtz Center box office is located in the lobby of the Ethel M. Barber Theater at 30 Arts Circle Drive on the Northwestern campus of Evanston. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The ticket office is closed on Sunday and Monday.

For more information, visit the Wirtz Center website or call the box office at 847-491-7282.

The Wirtz Center has established COVID-19 guidelines for the safety of its student interpreters, staff and crew members, as well as its clients. Customers are encouraged to check the website before visiting as guidelines may change.

Wirtz Center Mainstage 2022-2023 season:

Imagine U: “Me…Jane: The Dreams and Adventures of Young Jane Goodall”
21 Oct-Nov 6, 2022
Josephine Louis Theater

Imagine U’s “Me…Jane: The Dreams and Adventures of Young Jane Goodall” is adapted by Patrick McDonnell and Aaron Posner (C ’86) from McDonnell’s book and features music and lyrics by Andy Mitton. North West Drama Teacher Rives Collins directs. The production is recommended for audiences five years and older.

Before becoming a renowned humanitarian, conservationist and animal activist, Dr. Jane Goodall was a little girl with a special toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. Together, Jane and Jubilee discover the miracles of nature on their shared outdoor adventures, and young Jane imagines spending the rest of her life helping animals in Africa. Later, that’s exactly what she will do! In this musical adaptation, join young Jane and her special friend as they learn about the world around them and the importance of protecting all living species.

“Me…Jane” was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and was first produced at the Kennedy Center during the 2017-18 season.

“As You Like It”
A musical adaptation of “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare
November 11-20, 2022
Ethel M. Barber Theater

“As You Like It” is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery and features Taub’s music and lyrics. The production is directed by Jessica Fisch (’15 MFA).

Named one of the “Best Shows of 2017” by The New York Times, this delightful new musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s play is an immersive, dreamlike tale of loyal friends, feuding families and lovers in disguise. Expelled from their home, Orlando, Duke Senior, his daughter Rosalind and his niece Celia are banished to the Forest of Arden, a fantastical place full of chance encounters and self-discovery where all are welcomed and embraced. Lost among the trees, refugees are accepted under the stars in this open-hearted celebration of the healing power of community.

“be mean to me”
November 18-20, 2022
Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater

“Be Mean to Me” by playwright Sofya Levitsky-Weitz (’15 MFA), is directed by Halena Kays, assistant professor of drama at Northwestern.

At 17, Meril and Jean are best friends who can finish each other’s sentences. At 27, they struggle to reconnect and make sense of their shared past. Moving fluidly through a decade of change, growth, divergent choices, immense love and deep hurt, the playwright paints a portrait of the power of friendship and the damage we can inflict on each other in the name of love, desire and ambition.

“Blood Wedding”
27 Jan-Feb 5, 2023
Josephine Louis Theater

The tragedy “Blood Wedding” by Federico Garcia Lorca is translated by Caridad Svich and directed by MFA director candidate Ismael Lara, Jr. (’22 MFA).

When a bride-to-be is visited by a former lover on her wedding day, a family vendetta threatens the celebration and sets off a deadly dance of love and deceit, family and revenge, beauty and betrayal. This contemporary translation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s thrilling and lyrical blood wedding is a seductive tale of passion and vendetta set in the Spanish countryside, capturing the inevitable power of individual desire over the stifling demands of family obligation.

“Purple”
February 17-26, 2023
Ethel M. Barber Theater

Based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, “Violet” features music by American composer Jeanine Tesori (“Fun Home”, “Caroline, or Change”, “Shrek The Musical” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie”) and lyrics and book by Brian Crawley. Guest artist Mikael Burke conducts.

As a girl, Violet was struck by a wayward ax blade when her father was chopping wood, leaving a visible scar on her face. With enough money finally saved up, she travels across the Deep South in 1964 to a miracle – the healing touch of a television evangelist that will make her beautiful. Along the way, a chance encounter with a young black soldier forces Violet to confront the ugliness of racism and the possibility of true transformation and self-acceptance.

Imagine U: “The Snow Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats”
February 24-March 5, 2023
Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater

Adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston from the books of beloved author Ezra Jack Keats, Imagine U’s “The Snowy Day and Other Stories” is directed by Detra Payne, Assistant Professor of Education in the Theater Department. The production is recommended for audiences three years and older.

The wonder of a fresh snowfall, the thrill of whistling for the first time, of being included in one’s friendships, and the dread of finding a special treasure. These pleasures come to life in “The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats.” His books were among the first to use multiracial casts of characters, inspiring the new “Sesame Street” television series. Filled with humor and fun, this Caldecott Winner celebrates the joy in the little moments of a child’s world.

Dance works 2023
March 3-5, 2023
Josephine Louis Theater

Northwestern will present its annual Dance Showcase featuring new work by nationally acclaimed and recognized guest choreographers and teachers.

“Indecent”
April 21-30, 2023
Josephine Louis Theater

“Indecent” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel will be directed by 23 MFA director Kelsey Leigh Ervi.

Inspired by the true events surrounding the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s ‘God of Vengeance’ – a play considered by some a seminal work of Jewish culture and by others a treacherous act of libel – “Indecent ” traces the story of an incendiary drama and the journey of the artists who risked their careers and their lives to play it.

The 92nd Annual Waa-Mu Show
May 5-14, 2023
Cahn Auditorium

Produced, written, composed, orchestrated and performed entirely by students, The Waa-Mu Show provides undergraduate students with unparalleled training in the development of new musical theatre.

Northwestern’s oldest theatrical tradition, each year more than 100 students help create an original musical that inspires audiences, challenges the artists involved, and engages surrounding communities.

“Everybody”
May 19-28, 2023
Ethel M. Barber Theater

A 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Brandon Jacob-Jenkins’ “Everybody” will be directed by 23-year-old MFA directorial nominee Katie Lupica.

This modern riff on the 15th century morality play “Everyman” follows Everybody (one cast member is chosen by lottery at each performance) as they navigate life’s greatest mystery – the meaning of what is to be alive – and why it must end.

“Unlike anything you might have seen…unusual, unconventional, and eye-opening,” The Huffington Post says of the piece. “It’s not only provocative and involving, it’s also funny. Wildly funny, in fact.

The Wirtz Center is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which encompasses film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance, and visual arts.

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