Robert Falls returns to Goodman Theatre for The Cherry Orchard

Mar 2, 2023
The Cherry Orchard at Goodman Theatre in Chicago

It's at once a farewell and a homecoming for Robert Falls, who recently stepped down as Goodman Theatre Artistic Director after 35 years, when his major revival of The Cherry Orchard takes the stage this spring. The production continues the 2022/2023 Season-the final Goodman season Falls programmed before Susan V. Booth assumed creative leadership (fall, 2022). Following his critically-acclaimed productions of Three Sisters, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya, over three decades, Falls now takes on Chekhov's canonical masterpiece-an exploration of loss, love and how to live in a society that's changing fast. The Cherry Orchard appears April 1 - April 30, 2023 in the 856-seat Albert Theatre.

"As I contemplated leaving Goodman after thirty-five wonderful years, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to direct The Cherry Orchard," said Robert Falls. "Widely considered Anton Chekhov's finest, most challenging achievement, it still ranks supreme as a human comedy with tragic overtones for audiences and theater-makers alike. I'm thrilled to be working with a remarkable company of actors and designers to bring this luminous play to life."

Falls' cast features Chicago powerhouse Kate Fry (Lubov Ranyevskaya) leading a company of 19, including Will Allen (Semyon Yepikhodov), Kareem Bandealy (Lopakhin), Janet Ulrich Brooks (Carlotta), Felipe Carrasco (Yasha), Stephen Cefalu (Petya Trofimov), Matt DeCaro (Boris Semyonov-Pishchik), Christopher Donahue (Leonid Gayev), Amanda Drinkall (Dunyasha), Alejandra Escalante (Varya), Francis Guinan (Firs), Sam Hubbard (Stationmaster/Ensemble), John Lister (Postmaster/Ensemble), Bill Mcgough (Ensemble), Tyler Meredith (Ensemble); Flavia Pallozi (Ensemble), Tiffany Scott (Ensemble), Eric Slater (Passerby/Ensemble) and Raven Whitley (Anya).

Chekhov's final play, The Cherry Orchard was performed just six months before his death at age 44. The aristocratic widow Madame Ranevskaya returns to her heavily-mortgaged estate on the eve of its auction and finds that the fate of much more than her beloved orchard hangs in the balance. Falls' previous productions of Chekhov's work at the Goodman include Three Sisters (1995, with a cast including Calista Flockhart, Susan Bruce and Jenny Bacon), The Seagull (2010, featuring Mary Beth Fisher) and Uncle Vanya (2017 in a Chicago premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker's adaptation of the work, led by Tim Hopper in the title role). The creative team includes Todd Rosenthal (Set Design); Sotirios Livaditis (Associate Set Design); Ana Kuzmanic (Costume Design); Caitlin McLeod DesSoye (Assistant Costume Design); Keith Parham (Lighting Design); Richard Woodbury (Sound Design); Brian Elston (Assistant Lighting Designer). Casting is by Lauren Port, CSA and Rachael Jimenez, CSA. Dramaturgy by Neena Arndt. Kimberly McCann is the Production Stage Manager and Jennifer Gregory and Caitlin Body are the Stage Managers.

Anton Chekhov (January 29, 1860 - July 15, 1904) practiced medicine throughout his adult life, but his work as a short story writer and dramatist proved more lucrative and enduring. Born in Taganrog, Russia, in 1860, Chekhov began his literary career as a freelance journalist, publishing humorous sketches of contemporary life. In 1887 he won the prestigious Pushkin Prize for At Dusk, a collection of short stories. Success as a playwright eluded him, however, and the 1897 premiere of The Seagull flopped. It was remounted in 1898 at the innovative Moscow Art Theatre, where director Konstantin Stanislavsky's attention to the psychological realism of Chekhov's text made the play a critical and popular success. Over the next few years, Moscow Art Theatre produced Chekhov's other major plays, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.