Cast announced for Chicago premiere of “Southern Comfort” musical

Top row L-R: Mario Aivazian, Taylor Dalton, Benji Flores, Justin Harner
Middle row L-R: North Rory Homeward, Candice Kight, Kimberly Lawson, Kyra Leigh
Bottom row L-R: Ricki Pettinato, Lizzy Sulkowski, Sinclair Willman
(Photo courtesy of Pride Films & Plays)

CHICAGO — Full casting has been announced for Pride Films and Plays’ production of “Southern Comfort”. The musical will open to the press on March 4, 2019 in the Broadway theater of the Pride Arts Center and play through March 31.

In “Southern Comfort”, Robert, a transgender man living in rural Georgia among his chosen family of mostly transgender friends, has one final wish after receiving life-altering news. He wishes to make it to the annual Southern Comfort Transgender Conference he has attended with his friends for years, so he can dance at the ball with his newly-discovered love, Lola. While Robert attempts to live his life as fully as possible surrounded by those he loves, his friends struggle to process what will inevitably come. This heartwarming musical with a lush folk/bluegrass score is based on the award-winning 2001 Sundance Film Festival documentary of the same title.

“Southern Comfort” has book and lyrics by Dan Collins and music by Julianne Wick Davis, the writing team responsible for “Trevor: The Musical,” which was warmly received in its world premiere production at Writers Theatre in summer 2017.  In reviewing “Southern Comfort’s” premiere at The Public Theater in New York City in February of 2016, the New York Times praised it as “a sweetheart of a musical, …  (with) a spirited, tuneful country score and colorful characters that draw us close to the emotional ups and downs of Robert’s family.”

The musical will be directed by JD Caudill, whose previous directorial credits in Chicago include “Face the Day” at The New Colony and “Goldstar” for Broken Nose Theatre’s Bechdel Fest 6 at Steppenwolf. They are also the literary manager of Broken Nose Theatre, where they assistant directed “At The Table,” and a company member of Hell in a Handbag Productions.”

Jeff Award-winner Robert Ollis, a Pride Films and Plays Artistic Associate, will be music director.

All five transgender members of the “family” of friends will be played by trans actors:  North Rory Homeward (Robert), Kyra Leigh (Lola), Ricki Pettinato (Carly), Benji Flores (Sam), and Lizzy Sulkowski (Jackson). Sinclair Willman will play the cisgender family member Melanie. Playing supporting roles as the “Storytellers” and providing onstage accompaniment with guitars, violin, cello, banjo, mandolin and percussion are actor/musicians Mario Aivazian, Kimberly Lawson, Justin Harner, Candice Kight and Taylor Dalton, Kaleb Tank will be assistant director and Paul Cook production manager. The design team will be announced later.

Prior to its premiere at The Public Theater in New York City in February of 2016, “Southern Comfort” had productions at Barrington Stage and Cap21 (NY Times and Time Out Critics Pick), and development support at the NAMT Festival of New Musicals and Playwrights Horizons. Bookwriter/lyricist Dan Collins and composer Julianne Wick Davis received the Jonathan Larson Award of the American Theatre Wing and the GLAAD Media Award for their work on “Southern Comfort.”

LISTING INFORMATION

Southern Comfort

Book & Lyrics by Dan Collins, Music by Julianne Wick Davis

Based on the Film by Kate Davis

CHICAGO PREMIERE

Directed by JD Caudill

Music Direction by Robert Ollis

February 28 – March 31, 2019

Previews: February 28, March 1, 2 at 7:30pm and March 3 at 3:30pm. All preview seats $15

Press release from Pride Films and Plays

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