A New Play Classic


November 6 – December 6, 2015

by Playwrights Ensemble Alumnus John Logan
directed by Gary Griffin

Chicago, May 21, 1924 – The Crime of The Century. Two handsome and wealthy college students, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, are accused of murder. The country demands to know if these two successful young men are capable of committing such an act. ​​Never the Sinner, a thrilling courtroom drama from Victory Gardens’ Playwrights Ensemble Alumnus John Logan (​​The Last Ship and Tony Award for ​​Red on Broadway) and directed by Gary Griffin (​​The Color Purple on Broadway, ​​Appropriate), explores a complex and twisted relationship between two men in search of passion, intellect, and the perfect crime.

Never the Sinner drills to the icy core of murderers Leopold and Loeb. Quite the sophisticated examination of criminality. Accomplished. Tense. Skillful.”​
—Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
Click here to read the full review.

“HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. CHILLING. An ideally cast, handsomely designed revival under the flawless direction of Gary Griffin. Extraordinarily sophisticated, provocative, emotionally insidious piece of work… remains as provocative as ever.”
—Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
Click here to read the full review.

“Dynamic 95 minutes of story telling. Highly Recommended.”
—Alan Bresloff, Around the Town Chicago
Click here to read the full review.

“Logan has written the play so well, and Griffin has presented it so well, that there is actual pressure put on the audience to form an opinion about these young men. You can’t sit passively at this show. You are involved.”
—Jerald Raymond Pierce, Chicago Stage Standard
Click here to read the full review.

Never the Sinner is listed in “14 Of Our Favorite Events In Chicago This Week” by Chicagoist

Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring themes and issues within Victory Gardens’ productions. Connecting our theater to the world beyond the stage and rehearsal room, Public Programs bridge ideas, provoke dialogue, and deepen the relationship between our audiences and our productions.

After every performance of NEVER THE SINNER (unless otherwise noted)
Join us for one of our intimate post­show conversations. Led by members from the Victory Gardens community — artistic affiliates, subscribers, Artistic staff, Teen Arts Council members, The Council of Community Leaders, and community partners — reflect on what you’ve seen and share your response.

Pre­-show Spoken Word Performances
Thursday, Nov. 19; Tuesday, Dec. 1; Thursday Dec 3
Since the “crime of the century”, Chicago crime has manifested and evolved in many ways ­- some just and some unjust. With Leopold and Loeb in their late teens when they killed Bobby Franks, how does the criminal justice system affect our youth? Join us in the main lobby for pre­-show spoken word performances as young Chicago poets unpack the powerful politics of our criminal justice system, verse by verse.

Special Afterwards | Tuesday, Dec. 1
Bringing historical figures to life onstage is a unique theatrical experience. In plays like Never the Sinner, how do artists navigate this challenge? Where do they find the human in the barbaric? Join Japhet Balaban (Leopold) and Jordan Brodess (Loeb) as they discuss the trials and triumphs of representing two of the most iconic criminal minds in Chicago history.

Special Afterwards | Wednesday, Dec. 2
The mental health of Leopold and Loeb was thrust front and center once the “Trial of the Century” was underway. Almost 100 years later, mental health is still not a black and white subject and is considered taboo, particularly in educational settings. Following a performance of Never the Sinner, join Chicagoan college counselors and doctors specializing in mental health in young people as we discuss the stigma surrounding mental health and its consequences when neglected.

Pre-­show Refreshments | Friday, Dec. 4
From 12 ­hour closing speeches in front of a court to his involvement in other high profile cases that shaped American history, Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow left a legacy. Come join us for a special pre­-show event celebrating the life and work of Clarence Darrow with cocktails and a lively discussion with local attorneys and members from the Clarence Darrow Commemorative Committee. Then, stay and embark in the rapid fire performance of Never the Sinner, where he fights to prove that the law can vindicate without killing.
Sponsored by Whole_Foods

Past Public Programs:

Thursday, Oct. 29 | 7 pm
From Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological crime thriller film Rope to John Logan’s historical drama Never the Sinner, the Leopold and Loeb case has inspired several artistic recreations through the decades. What separates facts and fiction? Where is the line drawn between truth and lies? Get a first hand look at the historical context it takes to stage this new play classic in contemporary times at this open rehearsal kick­-off party. Then, enjoy a complimentary reception and mingle with the cast and research team to get the inside scoop on the process.
Click Here to RSVP.

A special collaboration with Chicago History Museum
Friday, Oct. 30 | 6-8 pm
It was the perfect crime… except for the glasses they left behind. In 1924, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold set out to pull off the “perfect crime” and brutally murdered 14 year old Bobby Franks. They were convicted by a pair of glasses. Enjoy cocktails and appetizers while you view Leopold’s actual glasses, followed by a scene from John Logan’s Never the Sinner and a conversation between Chicago History Museum curator John Russick and director Gary Griffin.
Tickets start at just $20. Click Here to get tickets.

Pre­-show Refreshments | Special Afterwards | Saturday, Nov. 7
From mystery novels to film and television, Americans are consumed with stories of murder, mystery, and criminals within them. The murder of Bobby Franks may have been known as the “Crime of the Century,” but how does mainstream media and art portray murder stories today? Join Encuentro host Amor Montes de Oca (Arte y Vida) for pre-­show refreshments from Fiesta Mexicana, then stick around for a conversation with Playwrights Ensemble Member Tanya Saracho as she discusses her role as a writer and co­-producer for ABC’s new hit series How to Get Away with Murder.

Pre­-Show Refreshments | Special Afterwards | Tuesday, Nov. 10
100 years ago, Leopold and Loeb committed what was considered to be the “Crime of the Century”. In a world faced with racial inequity and police brutality, what are the crimes of the century today? Join us for pre-show spoken word performances and free refreshments from Fiesta Mexicana. Then, stay for a riveting Special Afterwords conversation with local Black artists, scholars, and activists as we discuss the current state of police brutality in America.
Sponsored by Whole_Foods

Pre­-Show Spoken ­Word Performances | Special Afterwards | Wednesday, Nov. 11
At the time of its premiere, Never the Sinner explored themes of homosexuality that had been rarely touched upon in popular culture. Now, with LGBT narratives more prominent than ever before, how does the story of Leopold and Loeb resonate today? Join us for a pre-show celebration with free food and drinks, and stay afterwards for a special Afterwards conversation investigating the evolution of LGBTQ representation in media and the arts.

Pre­-Show Refreshments & Post-Show Performance | Thursday, Nov. 12
Leopold and Loeb’s impressive education led them to intellectualize their murder of a young boy as an experiment in power and prowess. How does higher education bring us closer to humanity? In what ways does it push us away? Join us for a pre­-show reception in the lobby featuring delicious drink specials & free pizza. Then, stick around for Never the Sinner and stay for post-­show performances featuring short scenes written by, directed by, and performed by college artists around the city.
Sponsored by Whole_Foods

Pre­-Show Refreshments | Special Afterwords | Saturday, Nov. 28
From Al Capone to the Blues Brothers, Leopold and Loeb are not Chicago’s only infamous criminals. 12 years after their conviction, John Dillinger, the FBI’s #1 most wanted criminal, was gunned down by police right outside the Biograph Theater. What legacy do these criminals still carry in Lincoln Park and greater Chicago community? Join us for a free pre-­show reception and stick around for this riveting post-­show discussion led by our Lincoln Park community leaders about Chicago’s iconic role in history.

John JOHN LOGAN (Playwright)
Plays: RED; Peter and Alice; I’ll Eat You Last; The Last Ship; Never the Sinner; Hauptmann. Films: Spectre; Skyfall; Gladiator; The Aviator; Hugo; Rango; Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street; The Last Samurai; Any Given Sunday; RKO 281. TV: “Penny Dreadful.” John received the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critic Circle and Drama League awards for his play RED and as a screenwriter he has been nominated three times for the Oscar and has received a Golden Globe, BAFTA and WGA award.
Gary GARY GRIFFIN (Director)
Victory Gardens Theater: Appropriate. London: Pacific Overtures (Donmar Warehouse, Olivier Award, Best Musical Production and Olivier Nominee, Best Director). Broadway: Honeymoon in Vegas, The Color Purple. Off-Broadway: Saved (Playwrights Horizons); The Apple Tree, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Pardon My English, The New Moon (Encores), Regional: Antony and Cleopatra, Camelot, West Side Story (Stratford Festival); work at McCarter, Alliance, Hartford Stage, Signature, Kansas City Rep., The Muny. Chicago: Road Show, Gypsy, Sunday in the Park With George, Follies, Amadeus, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); The Merry Widow, The Mikado, Oklahoma (Lyric Opera of Chicago); The Detective’s Wife, Loot (Writers Theatre). Associate Artistic Director, Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 10 Joseph Jefferson Awards for Directing.
Japhet JAPHET BALABAN (Leopold)
Balm in Gilead (Griffin Theatre); Look Back in Anger (Redtwist Theatre); Teddy Ferrara (Goodman Theatre, U/S); twentyone (the side project). TV: “Mind Games,” “Single Long.”
Bill BILL BANNON (Reporter 1)
Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, A Flea In Her Ear, Hecuba, Marionette Macbeth (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); RED, Carlyle, Race, Moonlight and Magnolias (Goodman Theatre); World Set Free (Steppenwolf); Rumors, Brutality of Fact, Lost In Yonkers (Eclipse Theatre); Rumors, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure (Peninsula Players); The Killer, The Treatment (A Red Orchid); Hauptmann, This Happy Breed (TimeLine Theatre); Old Times (Court); The Dance of Death (Writers Theatre); The Exonerated (Next Theatre); Old Jews Telling Jokes (Royal George Theatre); Three Sisters (Strawdog); Sirens (Fox Valley Repertory); Leander Stillwell (Stage Left); Requiem for a Heavyweight (Shattered Globe). TV/Film: “Chicago Fire,” Black Box, Hunter, We Be Kings, The “Z” Word, 38 Hours, Sweet Sixteen, The Shadow, Table to Table.
Regional: RED (Dallas Theater Center); Eat Your Heart Out (Actors Theatre of Louisville/Humana Festival of New American Plays); Black Tie (WaterTower Theatre); A Christmas Carol (Actors Theatre of Louisville). Chicago: Feathers and Teeth (Goodman Theatre); American Myth (American Blues Theater). TV/Film: “Crisis,” The Killer Inside Me.
Celeste CELESTE COOPER (Reporter 2)
Stick Fly (Windy City Playhouse); Measure for Measure (Goodman Theatre); Ruined (Eclipse); Animal Farm (Steppenwolf, U/S); The Mecca Tales (Chicago Dramatists); Principle Principal (Stage Left and Theatre Seven); How We Got On (Citadel); Seascape (Remy Bumppo, U/S); The Whole World Is Watching (Dog & Pony); Fight 4 Your Life (MPAACT); The Incredible Cece (Stage 773). TV: “Chicago PD,” “Sense8.”
Victory Gardens Theater: Queen (2015 Ignition Festival). National Tour: The Lion King. Regional: Come Back, Little Sheba (Huntington Theatre Company); Metamorphoses (Arena Stage, Mark Taper Forum); The Glass Menagerie (Kansas City Repertory Theatre). Chicago: October Sky (Marriott Lincolnshire Theater); Road Show, Sunday in the Park with George (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Animals Out Of Paper, Disappeared (Steppenwolf); A Streetcar Named Desire (Writers Theatre); Eastland (Lookingglass Theatre, NAMT); The Game’s Afoot, The Foreigner (After Dark Award), I Hate Hamlet (Drury Lane Oakbrook); Oedipus Complex(Goodman Theatre); Cloud Nine (After Dark Award), A Home At The End Of The World (About Face Theatre).
Victory Gardens Theater: Appropriate. Chicago: The Qualms, Good People, Middletown, South of Settling, Of Mice & Men, Carter’s Way, Men of Tortuga, Things Being What They Are, Jesus Hopped The A Train, Tavern Story (Steppenwolf); The Humans (American Theatre Company); God of Carnage, High Holidays, Passion Play, The Old Neighborhood (Goodman Theatre); Gypsy (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); End Days(Windy City Playhouse); Execution of Justice (About Face Theatre); Cat Feet, The Old Neighborhood (Northlight); Desire Under The Elms, (Philadelphia’s Freedom Theatre/ Court); How the World Began, American Wee-Pie(Rivendell Theatre); The Unseen, The Meek, Canus Lunis Balloonis, The Physicists (A Red Orchid); Big Lake, Big City, Trust and Hillbilly Antigone (Lookingglass Theatre); Shear Madness. TV/Film: “Better Call Saul,” “Betrayal,” “Crisis,” “Chicago Fire,” “Detroit 187,” “The Beast,” “Prison Break,” “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment,” “Early Edition,” The DilemmaThe Dark Knight, Public Enemies, The Express, Stranger Than Fiction, Road to Perdition, Finding Santa, Fred Klaus, The Last Rights of Joe May, The Merry Gentleman and the soon to be released Resurrecting McGinn and Open Tables.
Demetrios DEMETRIOS TROY (Reporter 3)
Regional: The Boys Next Door (Syracuse Stage); Julius Caesar (Utah Shakespeare); King Lear, The Merry Wives of Windsor (Riverside Shakespeare); King Lear, Tartuffe (Milwaukee Rep). Chicago:Inana, Blood and Gifts, Danny Casolaro Died For You (Timeline Theatre); The Happiest Song Plays Last, A Christmas Carol, The Seagull, The Good Negro (Goodman Theatre); The Wheel (Steppenwolf); Henry V, Julius Caesar, Timon of Athens, Richard III, Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Awake and Sing (Northlight); Beyond the Score: Haydn, Beyond the Score: Beethoven, Beyond the Score: Schoenberg, The Soldier’s Tale, Welcome Yule (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Working (Broadway Playhouse).


Set Design: Kurtis Boetcher
Costume Design: Janice Pytel
Lighting Design: Keith Parham
Sound Design: Andre Pluess
Projection Design: Michael Stanfill
Props Master: Aimee Plant
Assistant Director: Lavina Jadhwani
Dramaturg: Isaac Gomez
Production Stage Manager: Tina M. Jach*