SummerScape 2024 Season Announced!

World Premiere/SummerScape Commission

Illinois

June 23 – July 2, 2023

Add to Calendar2023-06-23 7:30 pm2023-06-23 7:30 pmEDTIllinois

Music and Lyrics by Sufjan Stevens
(based on the album Illinois)
Story by Justin Peck and Jackie Sibblies Drury
Directed and Choreographed by Justin Peck

Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater,
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Three brilliantly imaginative artists—Justin Peck, Sufjan Stevens, and Jackie Sibblies Drury—unite to create an ecstatic pageant of storytelling, theater, dance, and live music. Stevens’ 2005 concept album Illinois enjoys cult status for its lush orchestrations and wildly inventive portrayal of the state’s people, landscapes, and history, complete with UFOs, zombies, and predatory wasps.

Tony Award-winner Justin Peck (Carousel on Broadway, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, New York City Ballet) transforms the album into a full-length theatrical performance with a cast of virtuosic dancers, singers, and musicians in a narrative crafted with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury.

Featuring new arrangements of the entire album for a live band and three voices, ranging in style from DIY folk and indie rock to marching band and ambient electronics, Illinois will lead us on a mighty journey through the American heartland, from campfire storytelling to the edges of the cosmos.

Artists

Justin Peck

Director, Choreographer, Story

Sufjan Stevens

Composer

Jackie Sibblies Drury

Story

Cast & Creative Team

Music and Lyrics by Sufjan Stevens
(based on the album Illinois)
Story by Justin Peck and Jackie Sibblies Drury
Directed and Choreographed by Justin Peck

Music Direction and Supervision by Nathan Koci
Music Arrangements and Orchestrations by Timo Andres
Scenic Design by Adam Rigg
Lighting Design by Brandon Stirling Baker
Costume Design by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung
Sound Design by Garth MacAleavey
Props Design by Andrew Diaz
Masks by Julian Crouch
Associate Director-Choreographer Adriana Pierce
Associate Music Direction by Sean Forte
Production Stage Manager Natalie Hratko
Produced by Jecca Barry and Caleb Hammons

The Company

Kara Chan (Player)
Ben Cook (Will/Player)
Jeanette Delgado (Jo Daviess/Player)
Gaby Diaz (Shelby/Player)
Tilly Evans-Krueger (Player)
Jonathan Fahoury (Wayne/Player)
Jennifer Florentino (Morgan/Player)
Brandt Martinez (Clark/Player)
Craig Salstein (Player)
Ahmad Simmons (Douglas/Player)
Byron Tittle (Player)
Ricky Ubeda (Henry)

Jada German, Zachary Gonder, Matthew Johnson, Dario Natarelli (Swings)

Shara Nova (Vocals, Guitar), Tariq al-Sabir (Vocals, Synth), Tasha Viets-VanLear (Vocals, Guitar)

Christina Courtin (Violin/Viola), Domenica Fossati (Flute), Daniel Freedman (Drums), Sean Forte (Piano and Keys), Kathy Halvorson (Oboe), Nathan Koci (Banjo), Eleonore Oppenheim (Bass), Brandon Ridenour (Trumpet), Kyra Sims (Horn), and Jess Tsang (Vibraphone)

Production Manager: Brian Freeland
Strategic Consultant: Gura Associates
Technical Director: Chris Swetcky
Assistant Stage Manager: Anthony Rigaglia
Dance Captains: Jeanette Delgado and Craig Salstein
Acrobatics Coordinator: Danie Kohn
Associate Scenic Design: Kate Campbell
Associate Lighting Design: Serena Wong and Coby Chasman Beck
Assistant Lighting Design: Roya Abab
Assistant Costume Design: Chris Hynds
Music Copyist and Assistant: Nate Thacher
Production Assistant: Ros Werner Winslow ’25

Scenery constructed by Upstate Scenic
Scenic Charge Artists: Gus Koeniges, Maggie McFarland ’21, and Duane Olson

Press

 “What to Expect from the Stage Adaptation of Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois (Quinn Moreland ’15, Pitchfork)

Read the Preview Piece

Illinois

Praise

“Mr. Peck can do anything he wants with choreography: a virtuoso of the form.”—New York Times

“Sufjan Stevens is the rarest of talents: prolific, intelligent, and—most importantly—brimming with heart-wrenching melodies. Illinois is his masterpiece so far.”—NME

“Breathless and radiant and just.”—New York Times on Jackie Sibblies Drury

Support

Illinois is a co-commission of the Fisher Center, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Southbank Center, and TO Live, and has been made possible with a commissioning grant from The O’Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation, residency support from Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals, and The Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund.

The production is generously supported by Emily Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

Additional funding has been received from the Fisher Center’s Artistic Innovation Fund, with lead support from Rebecca Gold and S. Asher Gelman ’06 through the March Forth Foundation.

Bios

Justin Peck is a director, choreographer, filmmaker, and dancer based in New York City. He is the Resident Choreographer and Artistic Associate of the New York City Ballet, the second person in the institution’s history to hold this title. He has developed and created over 50 dance and theater works that have been presented on stages around the world, including Lincoln Center, the Palais Garnier, Sydney Opera House, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Broadway (most notably with his 2018 Tony Award-winning production of Carousel). His work has been performed by companies such as the Paris Opera Ballet, Australian Ballet, Dresden Semperoper Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Boston Ballet, Juilliard, National Ballet of Canada, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, LA Dance Project, Dutch National Ballet, the School of American Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and Houston Ballet among many others. 

Peck works extensively as a filmmaker with credits including direction of music videos for The National, Chris Thile, and Dan Deacon; choreographing the 2021 film West Side Story in collaboration with director Steven Spielberg; and being commissioned by the New York Times to direct 10 films celebrating the best acting performances of the 2018 year, which included performances by Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Lakeith Stanfield, Glenn Close, Emma Stone, and Toni Collette. 

Peck celebrates the art of collaboration and is honored to have worked across mediums with a wide array of luminaries, including Sufjan Stevens, Raf Simons, Elizabeth Moss, Steven Spielberg, Caroline Shaw, Jeffrey Gibson, Renee Fleming, Shepard Fairey, Sofia Coppola, Stephen Sondheim, Shantelle Martin, Humberto Leon, Bradley Cooper, Nico Muhly, John Baldessari, Dries Van Noten, Damien Chazelle, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Marcel Dzama, and Jody Lee Lipes. 

Peck danced with New York City Ballet from 2006-2019, eventually achieving the rank of soloist in 2013. He has performed a vast repertoire of works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Alexei Ratmansky, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Christopher Wheeldon, and many others. 

Peck’s honors include the Tony Award for Best Choreography for the Broadway production of Carousel (2018), the National Arts Award (2018), the Golden Plate Honor from the Academy of Achievement (2019), the Bessie Award for Outstanding Production for Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes (2015), and the World Choreography Award for the film West Side Story (2022). 

Sufjan Stevens is a singer, songwriter, and composer living in New York. His preoccupation with epic concepts has motivated two state records (Michigan and Illinois), a collection of sacred and biblical songs (Seven Swans), an electronic album for the animals of the Chinese zodiac (Enjoy Your Rabbit), a full length partly inspired by the outsider artist Royal Robertson (The Age of Adz), a masterwork memorializing and investigating his relationship with his late mother (Carrie & Lowell), and two Christmas box sets (Songs for Christmas, vol. 1–5 and Silver & Gold, vol. 6–10). BAM has commissioned two works from Stevens, a programmatic tone poem for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (The BQE) and an instrumental accompaniment to slow-motion rodeo footage (Round-Up). He has collaborated extensively with the New York City Ballet choreographer Justin Peck (Year of the Rabbit, Everywhere We Go, Countenance of Kings, Principia, The Decalogue, and Reflections). Stevens’ Planetarium, a collaborative album with Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, and James McAlister imbued with themes of the cosmos, was released in 2017 to widespread critical praise. Stevens also contributed three much-lauded songs to Luca Guadagnino’s critically acclaimed film Call Me By Your Name, including the Oscar and Grammy-nominated song “Mystery of Love.” In 2020, he shared Aporia, a collaborative new age album made with his stepfather Lowell Brams, and his eighth studio album, The Ascension, a reflection on the state of humanity in freefall and a call for a total transformation of consciousness. In early 2021, he released Convocations, a five-volume, two-and-a-half-hour requiem mass for present times. The most recent studio album by Stevens—A Beginner’s Mind—features songs inspired in part by popular films. It was released in the fall of 2021 and is a collaboration with singer-songwriter Angelo DeAugustine. 

Jackie Sibblies Drury Plays include Marys Seacole (OBIE Award), Fairview (2019 Pulitzer Prize), Really, Social Creatures, and We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915. 

The presenters of her plays include Young Vic, Lincoln Center Theatre, Soho Rep., Berkeley Rep, New York City Players & Abrons Arts Center, Victory Gardens, Trinity Rep, Woolly Mammoth, Undermain Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Actors Theater of Louisville, Company One, and Bush Theatre. Drury has developed her work at Sundance, Bellagio Center, Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, Soho Rep. Writer/Director Lab, New York Theatre Workshop, Bushwick Starr, LARK, and MacDowell Colony, among others. She has received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, a Jerome Fellowship at The LARK, a United States Artists Fellowship, 

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