Exploring family ties through changing times

Nicole Bourget and Thomas Hadzeriga in "John & Jen" at Canterbury Summer Theatre, playing July 17-27

MICHIGAN CITY — It's an original musical honoring brothers and sisters, as well as parents and children, amidst the background of a changing America between 1950 and 1990.

It's Canterbury Summer Theatre's fourth production of its 2019 season, the musical "John & Jen," performing July 17-27.

Originally produced in 1995, and given a 20th-anniversary Off-Broadway revival in 2015 with Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan, "John & Jen" is the story of Jen and her relationships with the two Johns of her life: her younger brother, who was killed in Vietnam, and his namesake, the son who is trying to find his way in a confusing world.

Jen and her younger brother, John, are growing up in the ever-changing world of mid-century America. As the country becomes divided over the war in Vietnam, so does the family, and battle lines are drawn between the once-close siblings.

When John is killed in Vietnam, Jen is left to reconcile her memory of their fractured relationship along with her son and brother's namesake.

The music is by noted Broadway composer Andrew Lippa with lyrics by Tom Greenwald, who both co-authored the book.

Lippa has garnered praise for his work on "The Addams Family" (Tony-nominated), "The Wild Party" (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award) and "Big Fish," among other productions.

"John & Jen" stars Canterbury Resident Company members, Nicole Bourget and Thomas Hadzeriga.

Bourget, making her Canterbury debut, has been seen prominently on northern Indiana stages, appearing in such productions as "Shrek" and as Lucille Frank in "Parade."

Hadzeriga was last seen in the season-opener, "Constellations."

The production is directed by John Berst, who is director of the musical theater program at the University of New Hampshire. He also handles music direction for "John & Jen," as he has for the previous musicals this season.

At Canterbury, Berst previously staged "Love, Linda—The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter" and "Tick, Tick...Boom!"

Scenic design is by Canterbury guest designer, David White. The lighting design is by Macy Margaret Rupp, with costuming by Angela Mix. Mary Devillier serves as production stage manager.

Canterbury performances are at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, and 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Ticket prices are $16-$17, with discounts for seniors and students.

Tickets can be purchased online at tiny.cc/CST2019, by phone at 219-874-4269, or by email at info@canterburytheatre.org

Canterbury Summer Theatre, one of the Midwest's oldest professional summer companies, is produced under the auspices of the Canterbury Guild, a nonprofit arts organization, which also manages the Canterbury Winter Arts Series from September through May each year.

The theater is located at 807 Franklin Street in Michigan City.

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