Williams Street Repertory announces 2018 – 2019 season!

Crystal Lake, IL:

WSR to bring “Ring of Fire,” “All Shook Up” and more to Raue Center!


Williams Street Repertory, McHenry County’s only professional theater company and an emerging regional theater, is excited to announce its upcoming season at Raue Center For The Arts. WSR, which is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, Actors’ Equity Association and the League of Chicago Theatres, is bringing jukebox musicals, world premieres of exciting new plays, dramas, its cutting-edge development LAB Series and so much more to the stage in the 2018 – 2019 season!


“What a thrill it is to watch Williams Street Repertory continue its rise, as it becomes a necessary American theater,” says WSR Advisory Board Member and 2017 Tony Award-winning playwright, JT Rogers (“OSLO”).


The release of the season comes on the heels of Raue Center’s 8.8 million dollar debt retirement and the announcement of two generous gifts. A generous donation from Loretta Rosenmayer has allowed Raue Center to upgrade and refurbish its classroom and rehearsal space, while a multi-year gift from the Willow Springs Foundation is allowing the center to increase its educational programming and outreach through WSR.


WSR will take this amazing opportunity to refine, refocus and become a leading source of theatre education in the region for the center. Raue Center attributes much of its growth to the in-house professional theatre company and also plans to refine WSR in order to boost tourism for Crystal Lake and McHenry County.


WSR’s upcoming season kicks off on July 6, 2018 with a show pulled straight from the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash! Starring Kent M. Lewis (“Buddy The Buddy Holly Story” at The Kimmel Center), “Ring of Fire” is a unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, home and family. A multi-talented cast performs more than two-dozen classic hits including – “I Walk The Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and the title tune – to paint a musical portrait of The Man in Black.


“Ring of Fire” is directed by WSR’s Founding Artistic Director, Richard Kuranda (Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Signature Theatre, Actors Studio). This show promises to be a foot-stompin’, crowd-pleasin’ salute to a unique musical legend! Though he is never impersonated, Cash’s remarkable life story is told through his music, climaxing in a concert that will both move and exhilarate. “Ring of Fire” runs select dates through August 12, 2018.


The upcoming season also features the world premiere of Deborah Yarchun’s (2017 – 2018 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow) poignant romantic drama, “Bomber’s Moon,” opening on September 28, 2018. After a devastating discovery during the first week of the London Blitz, Katrin, an American socialite, is propelled onto the streets during the blackout and forced to seek shelter in the basement of an abandoned music shop. She is followed by Lloyd, a displaced, working-class East Ender. Over four charged, complicated nights sheltering together in the music shop, Lloyd and Katrin become enmeshed in each other’s lives. WSR’s “Bomber’s Moon” is directed by ensemble member Michele Vazquez and runs select dates through October 21, 2018.  


“There is nothing more useful to an emerging playwright than having their work produced,” says Yarchun. “WSR is bestowing that honor to me in the fall with the world premiere of my play, which was read at its LAB Series last summer. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”


WSR’s 2018 – 2019 season continues with “Emma! A Pop Musical,” opening on March 29, 2019. From Director Robin Hughes (Metropolis Performing Arts Centre), this pop musical follows Emma, a senior at Highbury Prep, who is certain she knows what’s best for her classmates’ love lives and is determined to find the perfect boyfriend for shy sophomore Harriet by the end of the school year.  


But will Emma’s relentless matchmaking get in the way of finding her own happiness? Based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, this sparkling new musical features the hit songs on legendary girl groups and iconic female singers from The Supremes to Katy Perry. Girl power has never sounded so good! WSR’s “Emma! A Pop Musical” runs select dates through April 20, 2019.


The season will also include “The Elephant Man,” opening on May 3, 2019. Starring WSR Ensemble Member James Knight*+ (“Smart People” at Writers Theatre), this drama is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century. A horribly deformed young man – a victim of rare skin and bone diseases – Merrick becomes the star freak attraction in traveling side shows.


Found abandoned and helpless, he is admitted to London’s prestigious Whitechapel Hospital. Under the care of celebrated young physician Frederick Treves, Merrick is introduced to London society and slowly evolves from an object of pity to an urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati, only to be denied his ultimate dream – to be a man like any other. WSR’s “The Elephant Man” runs select dates through May 19, 2019.


WSR rounds out the 2018 – 2019 season with “All Shook Up,” opening on June 28, 2019. Directed by WSR Ensemble Member, Mark R. Mahallak*+ (director of WSR’s “Guys and Dolls”), this musical inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley is set in 1955. Into a square little town in a square little state rides a guitar-playing young man who changes everything and everyone he meets in this hip-swiveling, lip-curling musical fantasy that’ll have audiences jumpin’ out of their blue suede shoes with such classics as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” WSR’s “All Shook Up” runs select dates through August 4, 2019.