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by Christian O'Reilly
directed by BJ Jones

MARCH 7, 2014 - APRIL 19, 2014


Co-production with Galway Arts Festival


Romance is a distant memory for two lonely animal-lovers living in Dublin. When forlorn Dan and his dog Chapatti cross paths with the amiable Betty and her nineteen cats, an unexpected spark begins a warm and gentle story about two people re-discovering the importance of human companionship.


Running Time: approximately 90 minutes, no intermission.


This production is made possible in part by:

Opening Benefit Sponsors:


Kirkland & Ellis     First Bank & Trust


North Shore Community Bank          Plante Moran


Corporate and Foundation Production Sponsors:

BMO Harris Bank


John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund


Edgerton Foundation for New American Plays Award

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust


Pauls Foundation    


Irish Consulate


NorthShore University HealthSystem



and by Individual Production Sponsors The Sullivan Family Foundation, Paul Lehman and Ronna Stamm, Melanie and Dan Peterson, Robert S. and Sandra G. Silver, and BJ Jones and Candace Corr in memory of Margaret Hickey.

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For additional information, read the program online here

To view photos from the opening night benefit, click here.



Hollywood 360 radio interview with John Mahoney

WFMT 98.7FM Arts Feature

WGN 720AM interview with BJ Jones


John Mahoney

John Mahoney (Dan) previously appeared at Northlight in The Outgoing Tide, A Life, and Better Late. He starred in the Broadway revival of Prelude to a Kiss, Romance at the Almeida Theatre in London, and I Never Sang for My Father at Steppenwolf. He has appeared in over 30 Steppenwolf productions where he is a member of the ensemble. He received a Tony Award for his performance in The House of Blue Leaves. Films include She's the One, Moonstruck, Tin Men, Primal Fear, Say Anything, Barton Fink, and Flipped. On TV, John starred in In Treatment, Dinner at Eight, The Water Engine, an upcoming Foyle's War, and the 5-time Emmy Award-winning series Frasier, for which he received multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of patriarch Martin Crane. John is a recipient of the prestigious Sarah Siddons Award, only the second male (after Brian Dennehy) to be so honored.

Penny Slusher

Penny Slusher (Betty) has appeared in past Northlight productions including Sense & Sensibility and A Life. Other Chicago credits include: Sweet Bird of Youth (with Diane Lane) at Goodman; Uncle Vanya (After Dark Award), The Importance of Being Earnest, James Joyce's "The Dead" at Court; Old Glory, Another Part of the Forest (Jeff Award), Bus Stop, The Subject Was Roses at Writers. Regional: My Fair Lady at Asolo Repertory, Sense & Sensibility at Actors Theatre of Louisville and Saint Louis Repertory. International theatre: Stella & Lou (Northlight Theatre at Galway Arts Festival, Ireland); August: Osage County (Steppenwolf Theatre at Sydney Theatre, Australia). Film: Virginia, Meet the Browns, Grace is Gone. Television: The Connie Banks Show.



BJ Jones (Director and Northlight Artistic Director) is in his 16th season as Artistic Director of Northlight, where he commissioned and directed the world premieres of Stella & LouThe Outgoing Tide (Jeff Nomination - Best Director), Better Late, and Rounding Third. Notably he has directed productions of Grey GardensThe Price (Jeff Nomination- Best Director), A Skull in ConnemaraThe Cripple of Inishmaan, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. As a producer he has guided the world premieres of The Last Five YearsThe Gamester, and Studs Terkel's 'The Good War'. From Second City to Shakespeare, BJ has directed Pitmen Painters (Jeff Nomination - Best Director, TimeLine), A Number (Next), 100 Saints You Should Know (Steppenwolf), and The Dresser (Body Politic). Regional: Glengarry Glen Ross (Suzie Bass Nominee - Best Director, Atlanta's Alliance Theatre), Enchanted April (Asolo Theatre), and productions at Cherry Lane Theatre NY, Galway Arts Festival, Baltimore Center Stage, and Utah Shakespeare Festival. As a performer, Mr. Jones is a two-time Joseph Jefferson Award winner and has appeared at Northlight, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court, and other theatres throughout Chicago. Film/TV credits include The FugitiveBody DoubleLaw and Order: Criminal IntentEarly EditionCupid, and Turks, among others.

Jack Magaw (Scenic Design) most recently designed scenery for Detroit '67 and 4000 Miles at Northlight.  Other Chicago area and regional theatre design credits include The Who and the What (La Jolla Playhouse), Joan of Arc (Chicago Opera Theatre), Clybourne Park and Beneatha's Place (Centerstage), A Raisin in the Sun (Milwaukee Rep), Little Gem (City), Romeo and Juliet and The Foreigner (Kansas City Rep), Sunday in the Park with George and The Game's Afoot (Peninsula Players), Hedda Gabler and The Letters (Writers).  Eight Jefferson Award nominations include designs for The Caretaker (Writers), The Whipping Man (Northlight), and Disgraced (American Theatre Company).  Upcoming projects:  The Who and the What (Lincoln Center Theatre - LCT3) and Awake and Sing! (Olney).  Jack is married to director Kimberly Senior and teaches design at The Theatre School at DePaul University.  www.jackmagaw.com


Rachel Laritz (Costume Design) is happy to be joining Northlight for the fourteenth time including this season's 4000 Miles. Off-Broadway: Pearl Theatre. Regional Theatre: Actors Theatre Louisville, Milwaukee Rep, Writers, Utah Shakespeare Fesival, Court, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Remy Bumppo, Peninsula Players, TimeLine, Route 66, Next Act, Milwaukee Chamber, Renaissance Theaterworks, Skylight Music, Arkansas Shakespeare Festival, Children's Theatre Madison, and the University of Michigan. Other professional credits include: NBC's Law & Order, American Players, Chicago Opera Theatre, Garsington Opera (London, England), and the Spoleto Festival USA. Rachel is a recipient of a 2011 Emerging Artist Alumni Award from the University of Michigan and a 2009 Joseph Jefferson Award for The Voysey Inheritance at Remy Bumppo. Rachellaritz.com


JR Lederle (Lighting Design) Northlight credits include Detroit '67, The Odd Couple, Ten Chimneys, Season's Greetings, A Life, Grey Gardens, The Retreat From Moscow, Lady, Stella & Lou, The Outgoing Tide, and Better Late (the last three also at the Galway Arts Festival, Ireland). Other work has been seen at Lookingglass, Victory Gardens, About Face, Remy Bumppo, Writers, Steppenwolf, and Walkabout. JR designed lighting for seven years of the Steppenwolf Traffic Series, and five Steppenwolf performances in Chicago's Millennium Park. He has served as head of the Lighting Department at Steppenwolf since 1995.


Denis Clohessy (Composer & Sound Design) has produced work for theatre and dance with the Abbey, Gate, Rough Magic, Fishamble, Corn Exchange, Junk Ensemble, and many others. He won the Irish Times theatre award for Best Design Sound in 2011, was an associate artist with the Abbey in 2008, and was a participant on Rough Magic's ADVANCE programme in 2012. He has also composed extensively for film and television including The Irish Pub, His and Hers, The Reluctant Revolutionary, and the television series The Limits of Liberty performed by the RTE Concert Orchestra.


Kristin Leahey, Ph.D (Dramaturg) is the Resident Dramaturg at Northlight and formerly the Literary Manager at A Red Orchid and Woolly Mammoth in Washington, DC.  She has worked with Goodman, The Kennedy Center, Indiana Repertory, Cleveland Play House, Victory Gardens, The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Collaboraction, Teatro Luna, Teatro Vista, Steep, Eclipse, Redmoon, Next, and A Red Orchid. Leahey received her M.A. from Northwestern and her Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin. Her publications include articles in Theatre Topics, Theatre History, and Theatre Studies, and she has taught at Columbia College, University of Chicago, and at DePaul University.  She is an Artistic Associate at Steep Theatre Company, and this year's artist-in-residence at Weber State.


Laura D. Glenn (Production Stage Manager) Over the past twelve years with Northlight, production stage management credits include The Whipping Man, The Odd Couple, Ten Chimneys, Season's Greetings, Sense & Sensibility, A Life, Souvenir, Better Late (also at the Galway Arts Festival), Retreat from Moscow, Permanent Collection, Cat Feet, Blue/Orange, Tuesdays with Morrie, Sky Girls, Rounding Third, and A Skull in Connemara. Other credits include stage management for Lord of the Flies, Slowgirl, Head of Passes, Three Sisters, Middletown, To Kill a Mockingbird, a parallelogram, Superior Donuts, Betrayal, Love Song, I Never Sang for my Father, The Violet Hour, Purple Heart, The Drawer Boy, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and many others at Steppenwolf over the past twenty-four years. International credits include Orange Flower Water and Purple Heart (Steppenwolf) at the Galway Arts Festival in Galway, Ireland; The Man Who Came to Dinner - BITE festival at the Barbican Center in London; and the regional and Broadway productions of Buried Child. Laura has been a proud member of Actors Equity Association for twenty-four years.


Christian O'Reilly (Playwright) Plays include It Just Came Out (Druid Debut Series 2001), The Good Father (Druid - Galway Arts Festival 2002; national tour 2003; joint winner of the 2002 Stewart Parker Trust New Playwright Bursary), Is This About Sex? (Rough Magic - 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival; 50th Dublin Theatre Festival; winner of Best Theatre Script at the 2008 Irish Writers' Guild Awards), Here We Are Again Still (Decadent/Galway City Council - 2009 Nun's Island; Bealtaine Festival and national tour in 2011), and Sanctuary (Blue Teapot - 2012 Galway Theatre Festival; 2013 Galway Arts Festival and Dublin Fringe Festival).  His screen credits include episodes of BBC One dramas Doctors, Casualty, and Holby City as well as Inside I'm Dancing (2004), a feature film based on his original story, which was released in the US as Rory O'Shea Was Here.  Christian lives in Galway in the west of Ireland with his wife Ailbhe and their son Cóilín.

Production Photos by Michael Brosilow

Photo Gallery

Click on any image to start the slideshow  Click on images to start slideshow

Chapatti scenic design by Jack MagawJohn Mahoney and Penny SlusherJohn MahoneyJohn Mahoney and Penny SlusherJohn Mahoney and Penny SlusherPenny SlusherPenny Slusher and John MahoneyJohn Mahoney and Penny SlusherJohn MahoneyJohn Mahoney and Penny Slusher
John Mahoney and Penny SlusherJohn Mahoney and Penny SlusherJohn MahoneyJohn Mahoney and Penny SlusherJohn Mahoney and Penny Slusher(Clockwise from top left) Director BJ Jones, playwright Christian OReilly, Penny Slusher, and John Mahoney


The Making of a World Premiere: Interviews with the Playwright, Director, and Cast


Preview a scene


Chapatti Sun-Times video


Chicago Sun-Times interview


Interview with Playwright Christian O'Reilly




With John Mahoney, a late-in-life romance surprises


March 16, 2014


When Dan, the traumatized Irish man at the center of Christian O'Reilly's Chapatti, pictures his beloved in the afterlife, he thinks of her as alone and lonely. "Incomplete without me," he says.


We are not, of course, privy to the emotional states of the dearly departed, nor do we know how much company they have around them. But as that very fine actor John Mahoney makes abundantly clear in this simple but surprisingly intense new play from a young Galway, Ireland-based writer of great promise, Dan really is speaking of his own depressed state and his growing sense that life is not worth living without his lifelong love.


Dan speaks for a lot of people on both sides of the Atlantic, of course, even if they are rarely heard.


In recent interviews, Mahoney told a story about how O'Reilly had handed him this unproduced script while the actor, well known in Ireland for his television work, was working at the Galway Arts Festival in Ireland. Although he doesn't usually read such things, and famous actors get a lot of plays thrust at them, Mahoney was faced with a broken electronic device and a long trans-Atlantic flight. And that, apparently, is how Chapatti ended up being developed in Skokie and had its world premiere there this weekend, with Mahoney in the lead role. It's then on its way back to the Galway Arts Festival, where I suspect it will be very warmly received.


It is not difficult to see what Mahoney must have seen on the page.

Read the entire article online >


Two lonely souls find new reasons to live in Chapatti


March 16, 2014


Christian O'Reilly's play, Chapatti, is easy to summarize. It's the story of two lonely Dubliners in late middle age whose only real emotional ties are with their memories, their disappointments and their pets. And then they meet each other.


But that would be leaving out a natty suit and tie, and best of all, that fetching, curve-enveloping red dress. It also would be neglecting mention of the fact that the unlikely pair in this charming little two-hander, now in its world premiere at Northlight Theatre (and already booked for a visit to the Galway Arts Festival in July), is being brought to life by John Mahoney and Penny Slusher, two beguiling performers whose interplay (under the fleet direction of BJ Jones) serves as nothing less than a master class in acting.


Unfolding in a deft mix of heartache, despair and gentle comedy, the story is a mix of zesty self-narration and beautifully limned scene work. And it leaves you cheering for these two characters' hard-won moments of happiness.

Mahoney is in top form - agile, crisp, volatile and, as ever, a minimalist who can achieve maximal effects. And Slusher, a true actor's actor in this city, is so real, so full of barely suppressed fire and self-mocking indomitability, that she has you watching her every move. Best of all, they manage to sidestep sentimentality without sacrificing the special chemistry between them that is all but irresistible.


Read the entire article online >


Review: Chapatti/Northlight Theatre


March 18, 2014


That Mahoney is an international treasure is an understatement ... He has perfected the character of the elegant curmudgeon; his harumphs and noisy throat-clearings making ballet music, his twinkling eyes dancingly admitting the subterfuge. As Dan, Mahoney mixes the angrily tight-lipped edge of his performance with a melancholy kindness.


A character actress possessed of coast-to-coast range, Slusher's ability to portray an anvil-spirit wrapped in emotional gossamer has endeared her to Chicago audiences ... Slusher leads an audience like a pied piper into an intimate friendship with her characters. We laugh and cry with her, and reach for the teapot when the cups need refilling. Slusher's work makes the fourth wall completely transparent, and her Betty is another jewel in her well-deserved crown.


In a theatrical season full of character-driven offerings, where the audience's investment in the characters is paramount, Director BJ Jones' production never misfires. Take a hanky and a best friend, and get to Skokie straightaway, before Mahoney and Slusher get on that plane for Ireland.


Read the entire article online >


John Mahoney, Penny Slusher a well-matched duo in Chapatti


March 19, 2014

Director BJ Jones wisely cast Mahoney and Slusher, about as well-matched a duo as you'll find on a Chicago-area stage.


Both actors take on several minor characters in addition to their principal parts. But the showier role belongs to Mahoney. He's good. Slusher's better.


Every note of Slusher's performance rings true. Her imminently likable Betty is self-aware, self-deprecating and entirely selfless. Recognizing a drowning man when she sees one, she offers him a lifeline.


That she'll convert dog-loving Dan I have no doubt. She may even get him to like cats.


Read the entire article online >


Coming to terms with life in a heartfelt, wondrous way


March 24, 2014


Cat people and dog people - they're two distinct, irreconcilable types who tend to reciprocally look down on each other. But in Irish playwright Christian O'Reilly‘s poignant, funny and surprising Chapatti, mutts and felines pave the way for an unlikely common ground between pet owners. Directed by BJ Jones and starring Penny Slusher and John Mahoney, Chapatti is also a showcase for two of Chicago's finest actors.


Deeply emotional but never cloying or sentimental, this world premiere follows the unexpected intersection between two late-middle age singletons, the one a lonely widow with 19 cats, the other a bereaved gentleman who lives only for his beloved dog.

With a narrative that gracefully moves from direct address to conventional dialogue in a production that alternates between stylized and realism, Chapatti is a mix of charm and intensity. Mahoney and Shlusher create characters that are complex and tremendously appealing. Slusher's delivery of a monologue describing Betty's difficult marriage is heartbreaking; Mahoney has a gravesite scene that is at once shocking, wrenching and enraging. Together, they have chemistry to burn - watch for the scene wherein Betty dons a figure-hugging, candy-apple red dress: She's incandescent. Both Betty and Dan go through an emotional wringer over the course of Chapatti.


Watching them hurt, heal and ultimately come to terms with their lives and each other is truly a rich, wonderful experience.


Read the entire article online >


John Mahoney finds home onstage after Frasier

March 12, 2014


John Mahoney is known to most television fans for playing Frasier Crane's father on the long-running series Frasier, but the actor has spent much of his time in the years since the show ended pursuing roles on stage.


"You just get such better parts on stage and that's primarily what I've done," he said in an interview. "I'm almost never out of work and it's almost always on stage."


The Tony-winning actor's latest stint is at Northlight Theatre in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, where he stars in Chapatti. The piece is by Irish playwright Christian O'Reilly and tells the story of a man living in Dublin with his dog named Chapatti. It runs March 7 to April 13 before going to Galway, Ireland.


The play's director, Northlight Theatre artistic director BJ Jones, said Mahoney isn't pretentious and describes him as "a real Chicago kind of guy."


He's done more than 30 productions with Steppenwolf and has performed in plays around the world. Audiences are drawn to Mahoney's honesty and magnetism on stage, Jones said.


"I think an audience sees spiritually who John is," Jones said. "They can sense he is a human being. They can see themselves in him. So an audience sees truth there. The kind of truth they can identify with."


Read the entire article online >


John Mahoney back at Northlight for Chapatti

March 5, 2014


A decade after his last episode on the hit sitcom Frasier, venerable actor John Mahoney, 73, can afford to be super-selective about when and where he wants to work.


Having famously portrayed Martin Crane on the well-regarded TV show from 1993 until 2004, the Oak Park resident allows that he has the luxury of being particular with his projects. Over the past year, he's opted for roles that took him from Hollywood to Liverpool, England and finally, to Skokie, where he'll star in Northlight Theatre's world premiere production of playwright Christian O'Reilly's bittersweet drama, Chapatti.


"I don't pursue TV or film much anymore, unless it's something I really, really want to do," Mahoney explains shortly after returning from stints in California, where he played Betty White's boytoy in Hot in Cleveland and from Liverpool, where he shot a guest starring spot on the acclaimed British series Foyle's War. "I'm perfectly happy going on stage in Chicago," he adds.


Northlight audiences reciprocate the enthusiasm. Mahoney was crucial to the box office and critical success of 2011's The Outgoing Tide, a project that fortuitously took Mahoney, Northlight Artistic Director BJ Jones and co-star Rondi Reed to Ireland for a run at the Galway Arts Festival. That trip, Mahoney recalls, was directly responsible for his involvement in Chapatti.


"Christian [O'Reilly] slipped the script under the door of my dressing room one night," Mahoney says. "You know, they tell actors not to read unsolicited scripts. You're just not supposed to do that. But I had nothing to read on the plane back to Chicago, so I read it. And when we landed, I called BJ."


Read the entire article online >

The Top 5 Things to Do in Chicago This Week

March 5, 2014


#1 Chapatti

Theatre: A pair of magnificent actors-John Mahoney and Penny Slusher-team up for Christian O'Reilly's Dublin-set romance between a man, a woman, 19 cats, and the titular beast: a dog.  Read more>

Eight Great Comedies Playing in Chicago in March

February 27, 2014


Critic's Pick - Chapatti  Read more>