Actor Derrick Lee Weeden makes Chicago debut in Othello

William Shakespeare, the English playwright who became famous during the Elizabethan period, is considered one of the most phenomenal literary personalities in history. And Othello became one of his most spectacular romantic tragedies that primarily dealt

Chicago Shakespeare Theater, inside of Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., continues its 2007-2008 subscription season with Othello and continues through April 6. African American actor Derrick Lee Weeden will be making his Chicago debut in the title role of Othello.

Weeden, a 17-year veteran of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, received critical acclaim for Moor from Venice. Allison Batty who plays the role of Desdemona in Othello, is appearing at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre for the first time but is no stranger to the city, having performed as Catherine in Suddenly Last Summer with Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater.

She has also performed often in Shakespeare dramas in Utah. Paul Niebanck, who is also making his debut as Iago, is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and has previously worked off-Broadway and at New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespeare and Santa Cruz Shakespeare festivals.

The supporting cast appearing in Chicago Shakespeare’s Othello production are Lesley Bevan as Emilia; David Darlow as Brabantio; Kurt Ehrmann as Duke of Venice; Sean Fortunato as Cassio; John Hoogenakker as Roderigo; Mark Hines and Michael Huftile both as Gentleman; Paul Hurley and Bob Turton both as Ensemble; Ginger Lee McDermott as Bianca/Ensemble; John Philips as Lodovico; Nicolas Sandys as Montano; Greg Vinkler as Gratiano and Matthew Lon Walker as Senator/Gentleman.

Othello’s production team include individuals from various sections of America including original music written by Marc Desormeaux; fight choreography by Robin McFarquhar; scenic design by Patrick Clark; costume design by Christina Poddubiuk; lighting design by Chris Akerlind; sound design by James Savage; and wig and make-up design by Melissa Veal.

While many of Shakespeare’s dramatic and literary works have dealt with kings, queens and politics of thrones, Othello is an intimate relationship with a noble Moor from Venice and the woman he has married belonging to a different society. When the Moor promotes Cassio to serve as his lieutenant, Iago becomes enraged and uses his fierce bigotry to destroy friendship and the true relationship between husband and wife.

Marti Maraden is famous for her classical theatrical profession. She was recently appointed artistic director at Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare festival after being with the company for 16 years.

An accomplished director of classical and contemporary pieces, she has directed at various stages, including CanStage, the Shaw Festival, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, and the Chicago Theater production of Much Ado About Nothing. Evening shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinees start at 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s box office at (312) 595-5600 or by visiting

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