CHICAGO — The Theatre School at DePaul University will open the 2015-16 Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series with “Esperanza Rising” by Lynne Alvarez, based on the book by Pam Muñoz Ryan, music by Victor Zupanc, directed by Lisa Portes and with musical direction by Mark Elliott.
"This season we are excited to share three epic tales of flight and magic, based on some of our young audience member’s favorite stories," says Lisa Portes, artistic director of Chicago Playworks. "Esperanza's unforgettable journey takes her from the riches of her hacienda in Mexico to rags in the fields of California. The pages of this award-winning book come alive with vibrant music and stunning scenery, as Esperanza grows to overcome difficulties. We can't wait to share this story with the young people of Chicago and their families!"
Based on the award-winning book, “Esperanza Rising” is recommended for ages 8 and up. Esperanza loves fancy dresses, pretty dolls and birthday parties, but when tragedy hits her home in beautiful Mexico, she is forced to flee to the United States where things are very different for her. Facing new challenges, Esperanza learns to take care of herself and her family. In the process, she discovers her own power to create a new home.
Complimentary teacher guides for “Esperanza Rising” are available online for educators and interested audience members. These include activities and discussions for before and after the performance, which highlight core learning goals. Themes from this production include: culture, customs and traditions, home, hopes and dreams, immigration, justice, perseverance, prejudice, principles, social studies, society and class.
The production will open Oct. 8 and run through Nov. 14 at DePaul's historic Merle Reskin Theatre. Performances are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. Special Friday performances will occur at 10 a.m. on Oct. 23 and Nov. 6. A Sunday performance will be held on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. There will be no Saturday performance on Oct. 31. The performances on Oct. 29 and Nov. 1 will be interpreted in American Sign Language. Call TTY at 773-325-7975 for more information. Oct. 10 is United Service Organization Day in Illinois. U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their families can attend the performance for free with a valid military ID. Visit www.tixfortroops.org to reserve tickets, or call 312-922-1999 for more information. Join the cast for a post-performance autograph session on Oct. 10. The performances on Oct. 22 and Nov. 7 will be followed by a post-show discussion. Visit the website or call the box office for additional details.
Tickets are $10. Subscriptions and group rates (15 or more people) are available. DePaul employees, alumni and college students receive a discount (with ID). Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at 312-922-1999. If patrons require wheelchair accessible and/or companion seating or have any other hearing or vision needs, please let the box office agent know when reserving tickets, so that the theatre staff can ensure an excellent visit to the theatre.
DePaul's Merle Reskin Theatre is located at 60 E. Balbo Dr., in Chicago. For information about parking, please contact the box office. The theatre is accessible via CTA busses (3-King Drive, 29-State Street, 146-Michigan/Museums and others), and CTA ‘L’ stops (Red, Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Purple and Pink).
The cast features Paola Sanchez Abreu (Esperanza), Julia Atkin (Ramona), Michael Cohen (Miguel), Jack DeCesare (Luis; Alfonzo), Aida Delaz (Hortensia), Brian Healy (Don Sixto), Nicole Lockard (Marta), Talia Payomo (Isabel), and Claire Allegra Taylor (Modesta).
The production staff includes Portes (director), Maggie Armendariz (scenic designer), Hailey Rakowiecki (costume designer), Jamie Davis (lighting designer), Sadie Tremblay (sound designer), Lauren Quinlan (dramaturg), and Emily Mills (stage manager).
About the director: Portes serves as the head of directing and the artistic director of Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences for The Theatre School. Primarily a director of new plays and musicals, her work has been seen regionally at the Kennedy Center, South Coast Repertory Theatre's Hispanic Playwrights Project, McCarter Theatre Lab, A Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Sundance Theatre Lab, the Cape Cod Theatre Project, the Santa Barbara Theatre Lab and the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference. In New York her work has been seen at Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theatre, the Flea Theatre and the Cherry Lane Alternative Theatre. Her Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences credits include: “Barrio Grrrl”: A Musical by Quiara Alegría Hudes, “Pinkalicious” by Elizabeth and Victoria Kahn, “Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans”: A Salsa Musical by Karen Zacarías, and “Highest Heaven” by José Cruz Gonzalez. Portes lives in Bridgeport with her husband, playwright Carlos Murillo, and their two children Eva Rose and Carlos Alejandro.