Unicorn schedules ‘Chesapeake’




By Lee Blessing

Directed by Cynthia Levin

Featuring Katie Karel

“He’s more loyal to you than you are to yourself. That is the glory of a dog.”

Chesapeake by Lee Blessing

In this seriously funny romp, the provocative work of one edgy performance artist comes up against a conservative politician running for the senate. He has a lovable dog; a charming, folksy manner; and a campaign to cut “frivolous arts spending.” The artist has a plan for one final shocking performance with her NEA funding. Lee Blessing explores the mysterious connections between dogs and their humans, politics and artists, and miraculous wonder in our lives.

Chesapeake is a sharp satire on American art, politics, and religion that somehow turns out to be strangely, sweetly profound.”

–          Tony Adler, Chicago Reader

“Talk about the “dog days” of spring – we have a funny yet telling fable about an artist, a politician and a couple of dogs that turns into an hilarious two hours of theatre!”

–          Tom Williams, Chicago Critic

“Very amusing!”

–          Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

CHESAPEAKE is on Unicorn Theatre’s Jerome Stage located at 3828 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111. The show runs December 19th, 2017 to January 7th, 2018. Previews are December 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd.Opening Night is December 23rd.  A Featured Friday pre-show event is scheduled for December 29th. A talk back performance, where patrons are encouraged to stay after the show and discuss the play with the actors and director, is scheduled for December 26th.

Performances run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m., and Sunday at 3:30 p.m. For those who are unable to afford a full price ticket, they may “Pay What U Can” at performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; because we believe art is for everyone.

Tickets are now on sale. Call 816-531-PLAY (7529) EXT. 10, go online at www.UnicornTheatre.org or buy in person during box office hours located at 3828 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111. Special discounts are available for groups of 10+, seniors (65+) and students.

About the Director, Cast, and Creative Team:

Cynthia Levin (PRODUCING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR/DIRECTOR) is in her 39th season with the Unicorn. Over the years she has served as a director, actor, designer or producer for over 300 productions.  At the Unicorn, she recently directed Priscilla Queen Of The Desert (co-directed with Missy Koonce), Eclipsed, Hand to God, Heathers: The Musical (again, with Missy), The Oldest Boy, Women Playing Hamlet (world premiere), Bad Jews, Grounded, Venus in Fur, My Name is Asher Lev, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Soul Collector (world premiere), Hungry (world premiere), Red, Two Jews Walk Into A War…, Distracted, Green Whales (world premiere), Miss Witherspoon, My First Time, The Clean House, Mauritius, 9 Parts of Desire, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Bat Boy: The Musical and additionally the world premieres of rightnextto me (both at the Unicorn and Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, NY), How His Bride Came to Abraham, Light:Damage, Mercy Killing, Innocent Thoughts and Jack and Jill. At Coterie Theatre, she has directed Number the Stars, And Then They Came for Me, Frankenstein, Gatherings in Graveyards (I and II), Valley Song and To Kill A Mockingbird. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., she directed readings of Occupants, In The Belly Of The Whale, The Friendship Of Her Thighs, The Last Pair Of Earlies, Tigers Be Still and White Devil and Loving Mother for the MFA Playwright’s Workshop. Cynthia is a graduate of Park University which also awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in 2002. She is a founding board member of the National New Play Network, an organization dedicated to the development and production of new works. She has been honored with the Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award. She shares her home with Zia (the beagle), Dodger (the cat) and the spirit of the big red dog, Sylvia.

Katie Karel (KERR) is so happy to be back at the Unicorn Theatre, and taking part in this compelling play. Unicorn productions: HeathersWomen Playing HamletVera StarkBloody Bloody Andrew Jacksonbare. Past performances include: Last of the Red Hot LoversSherlock Holmes and…the Great Nome Gold Rush (North Coast Rep Theatre) Lucky Duck (New Victory Theatre, NYC); EvitaSunday In The Park With GeorgeSweeney Todd1776Big River (Musical Theater Heritage); 9 to 5 (Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre) You Can’t Take It With YouThe Addams FamilyHairspray (New Theatre); Always…Patsy Cline (Okoboji Summer Theatre); Flat Stanley (Starlight Theatre); SeussicalLife On The MississippiU:Bug:Me (Coterie Theatre); Into The Woods (KC Rep); Rocky HorrorValhallaIn TrousersEvil Dead (Egads Productions). Love to Cynthia, Zia, the creative team, and to everyone here for supporting the arts.

“There is no more beauty except in struggle. No masterpiece without an aggressive character…We must shake the gates of life to test the hinges and the locks!” This performance is dedicated to Reggie and Butterscotch.

Afton Earp (STAGE MANAGER) is originally from Detroit. She moved to Kansas City 2 years ago to pursue her MFA in Stage Management from UMKC. Some of her previous Unicorn credits include Production Assistant for Mr. Burns and Heathers: The Musical as well as Assistant Stage Manager for Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. Other Kansas City credits include, production assistant on Evita at KC Rep, Production Assistant on First Date at Starlight Theatre, and 2nd Assistant Stage Manager on Grease at Starlight Theatre.

Ian R. Crawford (SET & COSTUME DESIGNER) is a director and designer from San Francisco by way of New York City who is proud to now call Kansas City home. At the Unicorn, Ian has designed costumes for The Way We Get ByBuyer & Cellar, The Oldest BoyBad JewsWater by the SpoonfulApplication Pending and the set for Women Playing Hamlet. Ian is a graduate of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, and proud to be the Director of Development at Unicorn Theatre. Thank you Vince for all your love and support.

David Kiehl (SOUND DESIGNER) is excited to be back at the Unicorn where he has worked as sound designer for over 50 productions. Previous Unicorn productions date back to 1997 and include Sylvia, The Laramie Project, Proof and Closer; more recently, they include Disgraced, Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical, I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard, How to Use a Knife, and Heathers: The Musical. You may have heard his work around town at KCAT (A Streetcar Named Desire), the Living Room (recently: Milking Christmas, Bastard, and The Ballad of Lefty and Crabbe) and over 100 productions at the Coterie (recently: A Charlie Brown ChristmasWe Shall Not Be Moved, Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude and Elephant and Piggie: We Are In A Play!).

Emily Swenson (LIGHTING DESIGNER) is thrilled to work with this amazing team on such a unique project. Emily is the Production Manager and Resident Designer at Unicorn Theatre. Last season at the Unicorn, Emily assistant directed The Way We Get By, projection designed Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and lighting designed Application Pending and scenic designed Eclipsed and Hand to God (co-scenic designer). She premiered as a playwright in the 2017 Kansas City Fringe Festival with Walls Suck which was awarded best in venue. Many thanks to her Unicorn family!

Alex Davila (ASSISTANT LIGHTNG DESIGNER) is an audio and lighting technician based in Kansas City. While completing his degree at Avila University, Alex has worked with various companies including KC Starlight, Spinning Tree, SM Theatre in the Park, the White Theatre, and the Santa Fe Opera. This is his first time working with the creative team at the Unicorn.

Gregory Chafin (TECHNICAL DIRECTOR) is a Kansas City native and is excited to be working at the Unicorn Theatre and the show Chesapeake. As a UCM B.F.A. in Performance lead to a well-rounded theatrician with a penchant for directing. When not at the Unicorn he is often on an adventure with his loving, supporting and patient family (Kerry, Ashton, Kaylee and Tucker).

Alyson Germinder (DRAMATURG) feels right at home for the holidays here at the Unicorn, where she is also the Literary Manager. Past Unicorn credits: DisgracedHow to Use a KnifeApplication PendingHand to GodBengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, and Seminar. She also dramaturged the last four seasons at Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, as well as Seasons 11 and 12 at Kansas City Actors Theatre. Alyson holds an M.A. in Theatre from UMKC and a B.A. in Theatre Performance from University of Missouri-Columbia.

Nicole Jaja (MASTER ELECTRICIAN) is enthused to be designing at the Unicorn again! Previous Unicorn lighting designs: Eclipsed, and Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play. Other recent lighting credits: Bastard, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Trigger Happy, Annapurna, Bank Job (The Living Room), Finian’s Rainbow, Assassins, Shipwrecked (Spinning Tree Theatre).  Upcoming: Casa Valentina with Spinning Tree Theatre.

Hannah Taylor (PRODUCTION ASSISTANT/SOUND BOARD OPERATOR)is excited to be a part of the Unicorn team again! She has recently been a Production Assistant on the Unicorn’s production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, and a Dramaturgical Intern on the Unicorn’s productions of Application Pending and How to Use a Knife. Her other theatrical work in the area includes teaching and directing at Trilogy Cultural Arts Centre where she will be directing Beauty and the Beastthis spring. She would like to thank her adoring husband Coleman and her dog Beauty for their endless love and support.

About the Playwright: Lee Blessing’s play’s include: A Walk In The Woods (Broadway and London’s West End), Going to St. Ives, (Outer Critic’s Circle Award, Best Play, Obie for ensemble performance); Thief River (Drama Desk nomination, Best Play); Cobb (Drama Desk award, best ensemble); ChesapeakeEleemosynary, Down The RoadThe Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, and Cold Water. In the 1992-93 Signature Theatre season: Fortinbras, Lake Street Extension, Two Rooms and the world premiere of Patient AChesapeake is Unicorn Theatre’s 4th production of a Blessing play. Past productions at Unicorn Theatre include EleemosynaryTwo Rooms, and Patient A. Recent regional world premieres: A Body of Water at the Guthrie Theater and the Old Globe Theatre; Lonesome HollowFlag Day and Whores, all at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival; The Scottish Play at La Jolla Playhouse; Black Sheep at Florida Stage and The Winning Streak at George Street Playhouse. Other plays: IndependenceRichesOldtimers Game and Nice People Dancing To Good Country Music and, Perilous Nigh.t Other awards: The American Theater Critics Circle Award, the L.A. Drama Critics Award, The Great American Play Award, The Humanitas Award and the George and Elisabeth Marton Award among others. Nominations for Tony and Olivier awards, as well as for the Pulitzer Prize. Blessing is married to playwright and TV writer Melanie Marnich and lives in New York He heads the graduate playwriting program at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.

About Unicorn Theatre

Founded in 1974, Unicorn Theatre enhances the Kansas City community by developing and producing high-quality, thought-provoking plays that have never been seen in the region. We illuminate social issues by shining a light on diversity and inclusive stories which include race, religion and gender identity. Unicorn creates opportunities for the advancement of emerging and established actors, directors, playwrights, designers, technicians and administrative staff.  Unicorn Theatre is under the artistic and executive leadership of Producing Artistic Director Cynthia Levin, who joined the company in 1979. From a newly expanded home in the Midtown neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, the Unicorn houses two stages—The Levin Stage (formerly The Main Stage) and The Jerome Stage (added in 2008).  After a year-long capital campaign Unicorn Theatre was able to purchase the building outright in 2014.  A fully professional not-for-profit theatre, the theatre operates under agreement with Actor’s Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. The Unicorn is a founding member of the National New Play Network, an alliance of not-for-profit professional theatres that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays for the American theatre; and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre.  Financial assistance for this theatre has been provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; corporate and foundation gifts; and the generous individuals throughout the community we serve.


Unicorn Theatre / 3828 Main Street / Kansas City, MO 64111

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