Northlight Theatre was founded in 1974, and since that time has mounted more than 160 productions, including nearly 40 world premieres. The theater is the resident company at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, which has been its permanent home since 1997. It describes itself as the fourth-largest nonprofit theater in the Chicago area, with a $3.3 million operating budget, 8,100 subscribers, and audiences totaling nearly 60,000. Northlight has received three Edgerton Foundation for New American Plays awards. The theater presents five mainstage productions per season, while also workshopping new works and providing public school students with its comprehensive arts education program.
“Mike Nussbaum, Frank Galati, and Greg Kandel founded Northlight Theatre in 1974. The theater’s subscriber base grew to over 6,000 in just three years, making it one of the largest not-for-profit theater companies in Chicago. In 1983, Michael Maggio accepted the reins from Northlight’s founders, and as Artistic Director oversaw productions of ‘City on the Make’ and ‘Heart of a Dog’ (1984/85), ‘Dealing’ (1986/87) and many others. Russell Vandenbroucke then served as Artistic Director from 1987-1997.
“In 1990, Northlight moved to Evanston’s Coronet Theatre for four years. From 1994-1997, Northlight produced theater in various spaces in Chicago and on the North Shore. Despite the lack of a home base, several notable productions were staged during this time including ‘The Rhino’s Policeman’ (1991/92), which won the prestigious Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays award, ‘Jar the Floor’ (1992/93), the world premiere of Steven Dietz’s ‘Lonely Planet,’ and ‘Unmerciful Good Fortune’ (1995/96), which garnered a grant from AT&T OnStage. The organization also joined forces with National Jewish Theatre, which was valued by the community but no longer independently viable, and Northlight’s search for a permanent home intensified.
“Northlight Theatre’s nomadic existence ended when it became the resident theater company at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie in 1997. A permanent home permitted Northlight to enter a new era of growth—in size and quality—which was galvanized by a new Artistic Director, B.J. Jones.”
Production history available here.
“Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences. We seek to entertain, enlighten, and electrify our audiences through contemporary dramas, intimate musicals and refreshed classics. We are fearless in our commitment to champion new work, and to provide a nurturing and creative home for our artists. We are relentless in our pursuit of excellence through our productions, our business practices, our outreach, and our education. Northlight Theatre reflects our community to the world and the world to our community.”
Leadership (Past and Present)
BJ Jones is in his fourteenth season as Artistic Director of Northlight Theatre, where he has piloted the world premieres of “The Outgoing Tide” with John Mahoney and Rondi Reed, Craig Wright’s “Lady,” Larry Gelbart & Craig Wright’s “Better Late,” “Rounding Third” with George Wendt, and “Sky Girls.” As a producer he guided the world premieres of Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years,” “The Gamester,” and Studs Terkel’s “The Good War.” BJ has directed at Steppenwolf, Cherry Lane Theatre NY, Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, The Utah Shakespeare Festival, The Asolo Theatre, Intiman Theatre, TimeLine and Next Theatre in Evanston. Directorial work includes Northlight’s “Grey Gardens,” “The Lady with All the Answers,” “The Retreat From Moscow,” “A Skull in Connemara,” “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” and “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” as well as productions of “A Number,” “Twelfth Night,” “Glengarry Glen Ross” (Suzie Bass Nominee – Best Director), “Pygmalion,” “The Price” (Jeff Nomination – Best Director), and “100 Saints You Should Know.” A two-time Jeff Award winner, he has appeared at Northlight in dozens of productions and has performed at virtually every major theatre in Chicago.
Timothy J. Evans joined Northlight Theatre in 2007 and since his arrival has overseen the theater’s new branding campaign, leadership fundraising campaign, new board development, revamped arts education initiatives and a five-year strategic plan with McKinsey & Company. Prior to his arrival at Northlight, Tim spent a twenty-plus-year career at Steppenwolf Theatre where he served in management and producing positions. He created, curated and produced Steppenwolf’s acclaimed TRAFFIC Series which included a partnership with Chicago Public Radio for subsequent broadcasts. Tim founded Steppenwolf Films, of which he is still a partner with Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry, to develop film and television projects. He produced the feature films “Diminished Capacity” with Matthew Broderick (premiered 2008 Sundance Film Festival) and “The Last Rites of Joe May” with Dennis Farina (premiered 2011 Tribeca Film Festival). He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the League of Chicago Theatres, previously served on the board of the Independent Film Project (IFP) and was a charter member of the Governor’s Task Force for Media Development. Tim is a graduate of DePaw University in Greencastle, Indiana.
Productions of Note
“Ella” (2008): Production – Revue; Actress in a Revue (E. Faye Butler); Director – Revue (Rob Ruggiero)
“The Outgoing Tide” (2011): New Work – Play
To see all reviews and other coverage, click here.
Artists of Note
E. Faye Butler: Actress in a Revue, “Ella” (2008)
Mississippi Charles Bevel: Actor in a Revue, “Fire on the Mountain” (2007)
Molly Andrews: Actress in a Revue, “Fire on the Mountain” (2007)
Rob Ruggiero: Director – Revue, “Ella” (2008)
To see all reviews and other coverage, click here.
Where They Perform
“Our performance space is an intimate 342-seat theatre with a three-quarter thrust stage (audience seated around three sides). The furthest seat is a mere ten rows from the stage.”
“Snapshots” by Stephen Schwartz, directed by Ken Sawyer
“Season’s Greetings” by Alan Ayckbourn, directed by BJ Jones
“Black Pearl Sings” by Frank Higgins, directed by Steve Scott
“Ten Chimneys” by Jeffrey Hatcher, directed by BJ Jones
“[title of show]” by Jeff Bowen, directed by Peter Amster
“Woody Sez – The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie” by David M. Lutken with Nick Corley, directed by Nick Corley
“The Odd Couple” by Neil Simon, directed by BJ Jones
“The Whipping Man” by Matthew Lopez, directed by Kimberly Senior
“Stones in His Pockets” by Marie Jones, directed by J. R. Sullivan
“Stella & Lou” by Bruce Graham, directed by BJ Jones
Full season announcement here.
Box Office: 847.673.6300
Tickets range from $25-$75
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
9501 Skokie Boulevard
Skokie, IL 60077
Unless otherwise noted, all biographies and quotations are from the theater’s website.