Thirteenth Chair

Cast announced for The Thirteenth Chair

  Ghostlight presents a staged reading of The Thirteenth Chair

Ghostlight Ensemble announced the cast of its first endeavor of the 2019-2020 Season, a staged reading of The Thirteenth Chair, by Bayard Veiller.

The play, which is directed by Ensemble Member Chad Wise, stars: Emma Baker (Miss Eastwood), Noah Berman (Wales/Dunn), Justin Broom (Trent), Jean E. Burr (Miss Erskine), Norman J. Burt (Mr. Crosby), Elijah Cox (Will Crosby), Sean Harklerode (Tim Donohue), Casey Kramer (Rosalie), Miona Lee (Miss Standish), Allison McCorkle (Mrs. Crosby), Sean Peck-Collier (Mason), Jonathan Saucedo (Standish), Alina Taber (Helen O'Neill) and Michelle Ziccarelli (Mrs. Trent).

During a séance at the home of the wealthy Crosby family, a man is murdered. All the doors and windows are locked and the murder weapon can’t be found. How will the real murderer be uncovered?

The Thirteenth Chair, which is presented as a whodunit, has strains of deeper social issues that still resonate today. By setting up Rosalie, the Irish immigrant medium, as a foil to the police Inspector Donohue, Veiller touches on issues of sexism, classism, prejudices and the way police dismiss immigrant populations - even ones they may be part of.

Ghostlight presents a staged reading of the original 1916 play over three days.

Ghostlight Ensemble puts women front and center in its third season

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Ghostlight Ensemble announced its Season 3 lineup, including a staged reading of a little-produced World War I-era play, a play festival with new works for young audiences and a Shakespearean comedy that takes place in a living room – quite literally.

The company also announced a change in leadership with Ensemble members Miona Lee and Maria Burnham taking over as co-artistic directors from Holly Robison, who has served as an artistic director since the company was founded in 2016. Robison remains with the Ensemble as a producing director.  

Both Burnham and Lee are founding members of the company and veterans of the Chicago theatre scene. Lee previously served as Literary Manager for the company and Burnham as the Marketing and Communications Director. The pair most recently co-directed Ghostlight’s summer show for young audiences, The Selfish Giant.

“Holly has been an incredible Artistic Director for Ghostlight’s initial seasons. Making a mark in a city full of so many magnificent theater companies is no small feat and she’s done a fantastic job guiding us,” Lee said. “I hope to continue pushing us in the direction of creating thought-provoking works.”

“I think our leadership will be a natural progression from the foundation Holly laid for this company,” added Burnham. “We will continue to push for works that challenge the status quo, that encourage new voices, and new stories and that shine light in places where darkness has allowed ignorance to grow. And we will also continue to tell great stories in unique ways.”

Full bios for both women can be found here.

Before stepping down, Robison helped guide the new season selection, which focuses on strong, female characters. 

“I am so honored to have been a Founding Member and Artistic Director for Ghostlight Ensemble,” Robison said. “It has truly been a wonderful, challenging, and rewarding few years. I’m so proud of the work Ghostlight has produced, and even more excited about the work ahead, especially in our coming season, which we like to call our year of Strong Female Leads. 

“While I look forward to staying on as Producing Director and directing our immersive spring production of Much Ado About Nothing, I’m also so thrilled to be handing the reins over to Maria Burnham and Miona Lee as Co-Artistic Directors. In the season of Strong Female Leads, what could be more fitting than these two fierce females leading our company? They are both great artists and great leaders, and I can’t wait to see where they take Ghostlight in the coming years. Thanks to all the Ghostlight Company Members, Artistic Associates, collaborators, and supporters for a great few years as Artistic Director!”

Ghostlight will begin its third season in October with a staged reading of the Bayard Veiller play, The Thirteenth Chair, a turn-of-the-century thriller set during a séance. The reading will be directed by Ghostlight Managing Director Chad Wise.  

The Thirteenth Chair, written in 1916, takes place at the home of the wealthy Crosby family. But the phony séance turns out to be the scene of a very real murder. All the doors and windows are locked and the murder weapon can’t be found. How will the real murderer be uncovered?

The reading takes place October 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and October 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N. Ravenswood Ave, Suite 503B, Chicago).    

In February, the company will continue its Nightlight young audiences series with a curated festival of short plays by playwrights from around the country. The plays, geared towards children 12 and under, will all have one unifying feature – strong female characters, continuing the theme of the season. Plays are currently being solicited and script selection will be made in early November. Playwrights interested in submitting to the festival can find more details on the Ghostlight website.

Ghostlight will round out the season in the spring of 2020 with Shakespeare’s beloved romantic comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. Audiences will be invited into Leonato’s Albany Park home to witness firsthand the merry war between Benedick and Beatrice, as well as the less merry machinations of Don John, as this immersive production brings guests, not to a theater, but to a condo on Chicago’s westside. The production will be directed by Holly Robison.

“This season is all about empowerment – from the astute Madame Rosalie La Grange to the outspoken Beatrice – these ladies are not afraid to take charge of their situations,” Lee said. “Nightlight is inspiring our younger audiences as well, with our festival of short plays chock full of strong female and non-binary characters.”

In addition, the company will once again host the Holiday Cabernet – an evening of holiday classics (or not-so-classics) by favorite G.E.T. performers, emerging artists and surprise guests in a cabaret-style setting with an M.C. who overindulges in the holiday spirits. The Cabernet takes place at 8 p.m. on December 14 at Vagabond School of the Arts.

Ghostlight also will continue its popular Live Movie Reading Series throughout the year at Carbon Arc Bar & Board, located in the Davis Theater. Next up in the series is: You and Me and Five Bucks: A Live Reading of Reality Bites. The reading, celebrating the 25th anniversary of this quintessential Gen X film, takes place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, August 28, at Carbon Arc (4614 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago).

Find out more about Ghostlight Ensemble and the entire 2019-2020 Season at

Ghostlight Ensemble is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit theatre whose mission it is to ask questions that challenge the status quo through timeless stories, immersive environments and unconventional staging.