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“Chicago is always home,” he said. “No matter what, I wanted to come back to Chicago during those four months off. What better thing to do than do a play with my friends at Steppenwolf?”

He’s done more than 30 productions with Steppenwolf and has performed in plays around the world. Audiences are drawn to Mahoney’s honesty and magnetism on stage, Jones said.

“I think an audience sees spiritually who John is,” Jones said. “They can sense he is a human being. They can see themselves in him. So an audience sees truth there. The kind of truth they can identify with.”

Mahoney though said he wants audiences to know he’s always giving everything he has with every performance. And he’s grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m just so lucky it’s scary really,” he said. “My life has been incredible and my career, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

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Online: http://www.northlight.org

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Follow Caryn Rousseau on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/carynrousseau