Theatre Company announces production and cast of Three Sisters

May 11, 2024
Three Sisters at Invictus Theatre Company at Windy City Playhouse

Invictus Theatre Company announced  that it will stage the Chekhov classic THREE SISTERS in its new home, the Windy City Playhouse, from June 4 through July 14. Artistic Director Charles Askenaizer will helm the production, using the translation by Paul Schmidt. The production will preview June 4 through 9, and then run through July 14.

The company's previously announced production of Tracy Letts's AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, originally scheduled to run May 28 to July 14, has been cancelled. Invictus Theatre Executive Director Todd Henry Faulstich explained the circumstances behind the cancellation:

"For reasons outside of Invictus's control, it is with great disappointment that we will no longer be able to perform the show AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. While we properly obtained a license to perform the play, it was subsequently brought to our attention and the attention of the licensor that territorial restrictions existed that precluded our ability to perform the play."

Invictus quickly pivoted to THREE SISTERS as a replacement. Artistic Director Charles Askenaizer, who will direct the Chekhov play, says it's a piece he has been wanting to direct for some time. "It fits with our commitment to performing the classics along with significant contemporary plays. Like the play it's replacing, it's a family-themed play with a large ensemble cast. That allowed us to offer roles in THREE SISTERS to the majority of the artists who had been cast in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, and nearly all accepted roles in the new production."

THREE SISTERS, which has been called "the most perfect expression of Chekhov's artistic genius," follows the fortunes of the four children - three sisters and one brother - of a recently deceased Colonel in the Russian army. The sisters are sweet Irína, the youngest and most impressionable; tempestuous Masha who is trapped in a loveless marriage; practical Olga, who has resigned herself to spinsterhood; and their brother Andrey, whose ill-advised romance and compulsive gambling wreaks havoc on the family finances. Invictus will use the translation of THREE SISTERS by Paul Schmidt, whose translations of Chekhov's plays are the only ones in English by a Russian-language scholar who is also a veteran Chekhovian actor. Critics have hailed these translations as making Chekhov fully accessible to American audiences. They are also accurate - Schmidt has been described as "the gold standard in Russian-English translation" by Michael Holquist of Yale University's Russian department.

Invictus's cast will include Michael B. Woods (Andrey Prózorov), Maria Stephens (Olga Prózorov), Katherine Schwartz (Masha Prozorov), Ellie Duffey (Irína Prozorov), Cat Hermes (Natasha), Francis Brady (Kulygin), Bryan Breau (Vershínin), Charlie Diaz (Túzenbach). John Wehrman (Solyony), Joseph Beal (Chebutýkin), Colton Smith (Fedótik), Brandon Boler (Róhde), Frank Nall (Ferapont), Renae Stone (Anfísa), Ophelia Harkness (Ensemble, understudy for Masha), and Kevin Cruz (Ensemble, understudy for Róhde, Fedotik, and Andrey). Additional understudies are Mary Carroll Dougherty (Anfísa u/s), Whitney Minarik (Olga u/s, and Natasha u/s), and Lea Biwer (Irína u/s), plus two additional understudies to be named.

Invictus Theatre Company has been one of the most notable success stories among Chicago's storefront theatres in spite of the challenges facing the theater community in recent years. The company also survived a devasting fire in the building that housed its previous performance venue, then moved to the Windy City Playhouse on Irving Park Road in January and opened its critically acclaimed production of TOPDOG/UNDERDOG there in February.