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Faculty, alumni are behind Chicago’s hottest tickets this summer

Philip R. Smith and Katherine Cunningham are featured in the Lookingglass Theatre's Big Lake Big City, directed by Northwestern alumnus David Schwimmer.
Wendy Mateo, Eddie Martinez, and Northwestern alumnus Thomas J. Cox are featured in the Lookingglass Theatre’s Big Lake Big City, directed by Northwestern alumnus David Schwimmer.

This summer, some of the finest theatre makers in America are inviting you on a ride through the jungle. Whether it’s the urban jungle of Chicago, as seen in the Lookingglass Theatre’s production of Big Lake Big City, or the vine-covered rainforest of The Jungle Book, at the Goodman Theatre, both shows offer a unique vision of the wild life. Both are world premiere works, and both have an impressive roster of cast and crew. Northwestern fans, take note, too: there are plenty of Wildcats running through these reeds.

Wendy Mateo, Eddie Martinez, and Northwestern alumnus Thomas J. Cox are featured in the Lookingglass Theatre's Big Lake Big City, directed by Northwestern alumnus David Schwimmer.
Philip R. Smith and Katherine Cunningham are featured in the Looking glass Theatre’s Big Lake Big City, directed by Northwestern alumnus David Schwimmer.

Mary Zimmerman, the Jaharis Family Foundation Chair in Performance Studies, is the creative force behind The Jungle Book, a new musical that blends the influences of the Disney animated film and the stories of Rudyard Kipling. “Every adult knows how it feels to have been a child,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a time when we’re closer to the animals, nature, and much freer outside of the rules of man. I think that’s part of the enduring appeal of this story. I want the audience to experience the joy of a world where you are one with nature and the animals—even with its dangers and troubles—and the recognition that you can’t stay there.”

Joining her to create this lush spectacle were costume designer Mara Blumenfeld (C92) and set designer Daniel Ostling (GC96), both of whom have been praised by critics for their work. Music director Doug Peck (WCAS03) has arranged masterful orchestrations inflected by the sounds of sitars, dhols, and Indian snake trumpets. And Anjali Bhimani (C96) and Govind Kumar (C08) round out the very talented cast.

Just over the river from the Goodman, Lookingglass founding ensemble member David Schwimmer (C88), of Friends fame, has directed his own “daring and funny dark romp” (as one critic put it) through the underbelly of Chicago (a town the novelist Upton Sinclair famously dubbed the Jungle). Big Lake Big City was written by Keith Huff, whose other work includes television’s Mad Men and Broadway’s A Steady Rain. “I’ve always thought the best way to get people to think is to make them laugh first,” Schwimmer said. “Lucky for me, Keith’s play is hysterical, so I just have to stay out of the way.”

The show has reunited Schwimmer with many of his Lookingglass colleagues, among them artistic director Andrew White (C87) and artistic director of new work Heidi Stillman (C89). The costumes were designed by School of Communication faculty member Ana Kuzmanic (C04), with actor Thomas J. Cox (C88) stepping into many of them for his winning performance in multiple roles.

 

Both shows run through August 11th.

Lookingglass offers $20 student tickets for Big Lake Big City, purchased in person on the day of the show.

For more information, visit
http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/jungle-book/ or
http://lookingglasstheatre.org/content/box_office/big_lake_big_city.

(L to R) Vultures Govind Kumar, Ed Kross, Nehal Joshi, and Geoff Packard in Tony Award-winning Northwestern alumna Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book at Goodman Theatre.
(L to R) Vultures Govind Kumar, Ed Kross, Nehal Joshi, and Geoff Packard in Tony Award-winning Northwestern alumna Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book at Goodman Theatre.
André de Shields (King Louie) and Akash Chopra (Mowgli) in Tony Award-winning Northwestern alumna Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book at Goodman Theatre.
André de Shields (King Louie) and Akash Chopra (Mowgli) in Tony Award-winning Northwestern alumna Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book at Goodman Theatre.
Anjali Bhimani (Raksha the Mother Wolf) in Tony Award-winning Northwestern alumna Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book at Goodman Theatre.
Anjali Bhimani (Raksha the Mother Wolf) in Tony Award-winning Northwestern alumna Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book at Goodman Theatre.