it’s time Chicago had a queen
ABOUT THIS SHOW
Meet America’s first drag queen presidential candidate—Ms. Joan Jett Blakk—as she announces her bid to run for President of the United States. It’s Chicago, 1992, and with the AIDS crisis at its height, Joan and the newly formed Queer Nation Chicago have an urgent agenda. Joan sets off on an exhilarating and dangerous journey to drag queer politics out of the closet and into a future where ALL are visible and ALL have a place at the table. Inspired—but not bound by true events, MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT takes us into the heart and mind of one of Chicago’s most singular and radical citizens. Infused with music and hilarity, MS. BLAKK is part campaign rally, part nightclub performance, part confessional—and all party!
Come early, grab a drink and enjoy the festive Upstairs Theatre lobby curated by the cast of MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT. Lobby opens one hour prior to showtime; pre-show fun starts 30 minutes prior. Due to the nature of the performance, there is no late seating.
Casting note: The role of Joan Jett Blakk will be played by Jos N. Banks—in place of Tarell Alvin McCraney—on Tuesday, July 16 – Sunday, July 21.
FROM TINA LANDAU, CO-WRITER AND CREATOR
“I didn’t want to start the piece at all until I had contacted Terence (Joan Jett Blakk) and had his blessing and support. We connected, and he told me his story, in his words, over hours and hours, and that formed the basis for our starting the work. It’s a Chicago story, it’s a true story, it’s an untold story. It’s a queer story. It’s a political story. As someone who was alive at the height of the AIDS epidemic, I wanted to do this piece both to honor Terence and the “army of lovers” at ACT UP and QUEER NATION, as well as in memory of dear friends lost at the time. It’s for them.”
PARTY ZONE SEATING
- An interactive, runway-side seating experience
- Wheelchair accessible seating
- Classic Members: Complimentary exchanges are available for party zone seating. Additional tickets are available at the member price. Bring a friend!
- Click here for party zone seating details
Watch & Listen
Cast & Artists
- Author Tarell Alvin McCraney
- Author and Director Tina Landau
- Scenic Design David Zinn
- Costume Design Toni-Leslie James
- Lighting Design Heather Gilbert
- Sound Design & Original Music Lindsay Jones
- Projection Design Rasean Davonte Johnson
- Company Voice & Text Coach Gigi Buffington
- Production Stage Manager Christine D. Freeburg
- Assistant Stage Manager Kathleen Barrett
“Uplifting… an impressionistic record of Blakk’s 'true mock' campaign, staged as an old-fashioned drag burlesque show. As in most drag shows, subtlety is not the aim here” – The New York Times
“Walks a powerfully fine line between realism and a really good time. Part drag pageant, part drag ball and part lip-sync extravaganza… ‘Ms. Blakk’ is not interested in coloring inside the lines or maintaining the status quo. A celebration of Blakk and a vast community of LGBTQ+ rights advocates, who, generation after generation, rightfully demand their due” – Chicago Sun-Times
“Mixing traditional, beat-by-beat narrative, metatheatrical asides, and fantasy sequences… Ms. Blakk for President plays out like a visual and narrative kaleidoscope” – Chicago Reader
“Joyous, emotional (remembering those peak years of the AIDS crisis), musical and wonderfully executed. The entire experience, from lobby to pre- and post-show dancing, recreates some of the power, passion and life-and-death reality of 1992 Chicago” – Windy City Times
“A raucous and welcoming celebration of Queer culture by bringing to life a true story that few audience members might have known previously. This party atmosphere is thrilling, but it's ultimately the performances and the deeply human nature of this story that make MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT so resonant” – Broadway World
Keep the party going! Join us for conversations and events designed to enrich your experience around MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT.
- Joan Jett Blakk Herself in Conversation with Tina Landau and Tarell Alvin McCraney / Friday, June 14 at 10pm
- Late Night with Joan Jett Blakk / Saturday, June 15 at 10pm
- Ms. Joan Jett Blakk for President: From Those Who Were There / Sunday July 7 at 4:30pm
- All Fridays: Front Bar DJ series curated by SLO’ MO: SLOW JAMS FOR QUEER FAM
- Plus check out the summer LookOut series line-up for more great events