Skokie's Northlight Theatre is adding a new production to its fall slate, and it's coming into the city to do so. Northlight artistic director BJ Jones will helm the world premiere of Philip Dawkins's Charm for a four-week run at the Steppenwolf Garage, October 14–November 8.
Dawkins's play depicts a charm school for young LGBTQ people, taught by a transgender African-American woman named Mama Darleena Andrews. It's inspired by the real-life etiquette class started by Gloria Allen at the Center on Halsted. The cast includes Dexter Zollicoffer as Mama Darleena, with her students portrayed by Armand Fields, Elizabeth Ledo, Monica Lopez Orozco, Julian Parker, Awate Serequeberhan, Matt Sherbach, Namir Smallwood and BrittneyLove Smith.
Bringing Charm into the city is a canny move. The play was developed through Northlight's Interplay Series, and Jones has reportedly been working on it with Dawkins for three years. But the subject matter could be a harder sell for a suburban audience; in Lincoln Park, and with the Steppenwolf imprimatur, Charm should have an easier time finding the audience it wants.
It's the second new production announced this week for Dawkins, whose Le Switch was named the opener of About Face Theatre's season on Monday. Northlight announced its five-play subscription season for its home at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts back in March; it opens in September with George Wendt and Tim Kazurinsky in Funnyman.