Once upon a time a talented little girl named J. Nicole Brooks directed a play, called Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting (Lookingglass Theater), starring 6 powerful men who tell the story of the events that occurred in the hours before Jackie Robinson became a Brooklyn Dodger.
Who knew the play would be a smash hit? We did…
If you follow my Twitter stream, this is nothing new for you – I’ve been shouting about my friend’s play throughout the Twitterverse since the opening. It ends on February 19, 2012 – and in honor of a good Black woman doing big things – I urge you to take your Black History Month-loving behinds to the theater.
Need some visual incentive?
Details are here: GO!
April 9, 1947
Baseball’s Opening Day is one week away, and Branch Rickey, General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, will call up Jackie Robinson to break the color-barrier and play as the Major League’s first black ballplayer. If he agrees, Robinson will face loud and heated opposition from virtually every owner, manager, and player in baseball – and it won’t be a cakewalk with the fans, either. Who will be his allies be if he makes the most daring and important play of his life?
Award-winning Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks (Black Diamond, Fedra: Queen of Haiti) directs this dazzling fast-ball script by Ed Schmidt. When 1947’s biggest African American personalities – baseball great-to-be Jackie Robinson, boxer Joe Louis, entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, actor and activist Paul Robeson – meet, ideas and ideals clash and sparks fly, and America’s national pastime will never be the same.
Artistic Director Andy White comments, “When Nicky brought this play to us, and when we first heard it read aloud, we knew right away that it was asking all the right questions, ‘What is endured by those who break barriers, and at what cost?’ ‘Even when great progress is made, what gets lost along the way?’ ‘When, and what, do we compromise for the greater good?’ The fierce arguments made in the play, and the questions they pose to all of us, are as alive and present now as they were in 1947. Lookingglass is proud to give them voice on our stage.”
Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting features Artistic Associates Kevin Douglas (Clancy Hope) and Anthony Fleming III (Joe Louis), Javon Johnson (Jackie Robinson), James Vincent Meredith (Paul Robeson), Larry Neumann, Jr. (Branch Rickey) and Ernest Perry (Bill “Bojangles” Robinson).
Designers include Sibyl Wickersheimer (scenic); Alison Siple (costume); Brian Bembridge (lighting); Josh Horvath and Rick Sims (sound); Ray Nardelli, (sound); and Maria DeFabo (properties); Tess Lauchaire is the stage manager.
Lookingglass is continuing its tradition of partnering with organizations in the community to enhance the audience experience with additional education and outreach programming. Season Community Partners include: Chicago History Museum, Chicago Architecture Foundation, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. Production community partners include The DuSable Museum of African American History and Facing History and Ourselves.
The Sara Lee Foundation is the Production Sponsor for Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting.
Additional Support by the STS Foundation. Arts Education Programs supported by JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Allstate is the Presenting Sponsor of the Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting Study Guide. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Lookingglass Theatre.
About Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting artists
J. Nicole Brooks (Director/Ensemble Member) is a proud Chicagoan currently residing in Los Angeles with a career in film, television, radio and theatre. She is an award-winning actor, who recently traveled to China to perform at the International Theatre Institute as a delegate for the U.S. Writing credits include Black Diamond: The Years the Locusts Haven Eaten, Fedra: Queen of Haiti, Kamala Master Class, Midway Liquors, and Shotgun Harriet. Nicky dedicates this production to its influences: The Negro Major Leagues, John Wesley Donaldson of the Chicago White Sox ball club, Mr. Ellis Foster, Melvin Abston, Mami, LA and the many Blacks who were Red Listed.
Kevin Douglas (Clancy Hope/Artistic Associate) was most recently seen in Lookingglass’ The Great Fire. Other Lookingglass credits include Lookingglass Alice, Our Town, Around the World in 80 Days and Black Diamond. Kevin’s other Chicago credits include Orlando at Court Theatre and before that A Civil War Christmas at Northlight. He is also a member of MPAACT (MA’AT Production Association of African Centered Theatre). Regional credits include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Baltimore Centerstage, Kansas City Rep and Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.
Anthony Fleming III (Joe Louis/Artistic Associate) was last seen on stage playing Levee in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, directed by Ron OJ Parson, at Actor’s Theater of Louisville and Milwaukee Rep. He last appeared at Lookingglass in the summer of 2009 in Lookingglass Alice, completing a run of 5 cities over 4 years and 445 performances as the Cheshire Cat. Other Lookingglass shows include Race, 1984, Manuscript Found In Saragossa, The Arabian Nights, Icarus, and Fedra. He has also performed with Victory Gardens (Hambone, Free Man of Color, Denmark), Steppenwolf (Division St: America, Take Me Out, The Glass Menagerie), Chicago Theater Co. (Journal of Ordinary Thought, Cut Flowers), and Famous Door (Cider House Rules). Television credits include Prison Break (Season 1&2) on Fox and The Beast on A&E. Next, he will be shooting an independent film this spring with Lucia Mauro and Rick Snyder in Sardinia, Italy.
Javon Johnson (Jackie Robinson) is a founding ensemble member of Congo Square Theatre and former NEA and TCG panelist. He is a multi-award-winning actor/writer whose awards include Black Theater Alliance August Wilson Award, Kennedy Centers Lorraine Hansberry Award and Sundance Theatre Lab, among others. Acting credits include Barbershop 2, Prison Break, One Life to Live, House of Payne, Daddy’s Little Girls, Othello in Othello, Sterling in Two Trains Running, Harold Loomis in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Flip in Stick Fly as well as Dave Robinson in Lombardi on Broadway. Javon has written national urban tours starring Vivica Fox, Boris Kodjoe, Richard Rountree, Brian McKnight, James Avery, Robin Givens, Chante Moore and many others. Current Projects: Co-producer Invisible Life: The Movie with Edmonds Entertainment and eVision Films and Invisible Life: The Musical with original score by Ashford and Simpson.
James Vincent Meredith (Paul Robeson/AEA) is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf, where credits include Clybourne Park, Hot L Baltimore, The Tempest, Superior Donuts (also Broadway), Carter’s Way, The Crucible, The Bluest Eye (also Off-Broadway at New Victory Theater) and The Pain and the Itch. Other Chicago credits include Take Me Out (About Face Theatre), Duchess of Malfi and Othello (Writers’ Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing and Measure for Measure (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), as well as work at Goodman Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook and Piven Theater Workshop, where he is a member of the company ensemble. Regional credits include shows at Michigan Shakespeare Festival and First Stage in Milwaukee. Television credits include Prison Break, ER, The Beast, Law and Order SVU, Detroit187, Chicago Code and Boss.
Larry Neumann, Jr. (Branch Rickey) appeared at Lookingglass as Richard Nickel in The Richard Nickel Story, and Austin in The Shaggs. Larry will next appear in Goodman Theatre’s The Iceman Cometh, in the role of Mosher. Favorite productions: Moon for the Misbegotten, 2009 Jeff Award, and Madness of Edgar Allen Poe (First Folio), Puppetmaster of Ludz (Writers’ Theatre), Cider House Rules, 2003 Jeff Award, and Hitting For The Cycle, 1996 Jeff Award (Famous Door), and Underneath The Lintel (Noble Fool). Film credits: Merry Gentleman, Stranger Than Fiction, Stir of Echoes.
Ernest Perry, Jr. (Bill “Bojangles” Robinson) makes his Lookingglass Theatre debut with Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting. Perry was last seen as Eli in Hartford Stage’s production of Gem of the Ocean. Most recently Perry toured in co-productions of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at Baltimore’s Center Stage, Philadelphia’s Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. He has been a resident actor for 30 years at the Goodman, including ten years as the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol, Cry the Beloved Country, Tis A Pity She’s A Whore, Magnolia; Drowning Crow, Ties That Bind, An Enemy of The People, Let Me Live, Pudd’N Pete, Play Mas, Miss Evers’ Boys, and Gas For Less. International production include The Ice Man Cometh (Abbey Theatre-Dublin), My Children My Africa (Vienna’s English Theatre), The Merchant of Venice (RSC London, Thalia Theatre – Hamburg, Mc 93 Bobingy-Paris.) Broadway credits include Death and The King’s Horseman. He has worked regionally at Alliance Theatre, Centre Stage Baltimore, Court Theatre, Cardinal Stage Company, Actor’s Theatre Louisville, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Virginia Stage Company, Cleveland Playhouse, City Theatre- Pittsburg, Geva Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Remy Bumpo Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Body Politic Theatre, Silk Road Theatre, Congo Square, Black Ensemble Theatre, Kuumba Theatre, and City Lit Theatre. Film & TV: The Express, Roll Bounce, Promotion, Liar Liar!, Barbershop II, Color of Money, Rage in Harlem, 15 Minute Hamlet, ER, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Early Edition, The Untouchables, Unnatural Causes, and Lady Blue.
Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting —Dates, Times and Ticket Information
Tickets are available online, www.lookingglasstheatre.org; by phone, (312) 337-0665; or at the Lookingglass Theatre box office, located inside Chicago’s historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. For more information and box office hours, visit www.lookingglasstheatre.org.
Previews of Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting are January 4 – January 13, 2012. The press opening is Saturday, January 14, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. The production runs through February 19, 2012. Tickets are $20-$68.
Target Saturday Matinees offer a limited number of buy one, get one free tickets which are available to all 3:00 p.m. Saturday matinees. This program is made possible with the generous support of Target, working with Lookingglass to make the arts accessible to all. A limited number of student tickets are available the day of the show for $20 with valid student ID. (See FACT SHEET for full performance schedule.)
Groups of 10 or more people save up o 20% on tickets. Special student group tickets are also available.
Lookingglass Theatre is located in the heart of the Magnificent Mile shopping district inside Chicago’s historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. Discounted parking is available for Lookingglass patrons at both the nearby John Hancock Center and Olympia Centre Self Park (161 E. Chicago Ave.). To purchase tickets, call the Lookingglass Theatre box office at (312) 337-0665 or visit lookingglasstheatre.org.
About Lookingglass Theatre Company
Inventive. Collaborative. Transformative. Lookingglass Theatre Company, recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award, was founded in 1988 by eight Northwestern University students. 2011-2012 marks the company’s 24th anniversary season. Lookingglass is home to a multi-disciplined ensemble of artists who create story-centered theatrical work that is physical, aurally rich and visually metaphoric. Lookingglass has staged 56 world premieres at 23 venues across Chicago, and garnered 52 Joseph Jefferson Awards and Citations.
Work premiered at Lookingglass has been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Princeton, Hartford, Kansas City, Washington D.C., and St. Louis. Lookingglass original scripts have been produced across the United States.
The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago’s landmark Water Tower Water Works opened in June 2003. In addition to developing and presenting ensemble work, Lookingglass Education and Community programs encourage creativity, teamwork and confidence with thousands of community members each year.
Lookingglass Theatre Company continues to expand its artistic, financial and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Andrew White, Executive Director Rachel Kraft, Producing Artistic Director Philip R. Smith, Artistic Director of New Work Heidi Stillman, a 22-member artistic ensemble, 15 artistic associates, 11 production affiliates, an administrative staff and a dedicated board of directors led by Chairman Richard Ditton of Incredible Technologies and President Joe Brady of Jones Lang LaSalle. For more information, visit lookingglasstheatre.org.
Title: Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting
Written by: Ed Schmidt
Directed by: Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks
Dates: Regular run: January 15 – February 19, 2012
Times: Wednesdays: 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays: 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (no 3 p.m. shows in previews)
Fridays: 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (no 3 p.m. shows in previews)
Sundays: 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (no 7:30 p.m. shows in previews)
Location: Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago’s historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson.
Prices: Regular run tickets are $27.50 – $68
Target Saturday Matinees offer a limited number of buy one, get one free tickets which are available to all 3:00 p.m. Saturday matinees. This program is made possible with the generous support of Target, working with Lookingglass to make the arts accessible to all. A limited number of student tickets are available the day of the show for $20 with valid student ID.
Box Office: Buy online at www.lookingglasstheatre.org or by phone at (312) 337-0665
The Lookingglass box office is located at Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave.