With Rashad attached, "Immediate Family" acquired a set of commercial producers in Paul Boskind, Ruth Hendel and Stephen Hendel, so it is probably fair to call this Chicago engagement in the rented Owen space at the Goodman Theatre a pre-Broadway tryout.
Ruth Hendel was a producer of Zimmerman's "Metamorphoses" on Broadway, and she and her husband (who would go on to be a producer of "Fela!") traveled to see "Notebooks" when it was on tour. "Paul was in the cast and we became friends with him," Stephen Hendel said. "He's just a multitalented individual."
Stovall pulled out his script, which led to the Hendels producing the early incarnations of "As Much As You Can" in Chicago and Los Angeles. Thereafter, they organized a reading in New York. Boskind was at that workshop and joined the Hendels. "It's a Chicago story and setting so we're bringing it to Chicago this summer."
It will also have a Chicago cast: Shanesia Davis, J. Nicole Brooks, Patrick Sarb, Phillip James Brannon, Kamal Angelo Bolden and Cynda Williams. All except Brooks (who was in an LA production of the play) live in Chicago.
"Broadway is certainly on our minds," Stephen Hendel said. "There is a great tradition now of Chicago productions coming to New York. We'll have to see how the play captures its audience. We're hoping for an excellent run at the Goodman this summer and then we'll see from there."
Whatever happens to the show, this will be the first time Rashad has worked in Chicago.
Her daughter, Condola Rashad, beat her mother to the Goodman when she appeared there in Lynn Nottage's "Ruined," a performance that naturally drew Rashad to Chicago and is yet another piece that fell into place to make Chicago and the new "Immediate Family" a natural fit.
- "Immediate Family," which is now in previews, opens Saturday at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. Tickets are $20-54. Call 312-443-3800 or visit goodmantheatre.org