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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Photo Recap and Review: Good Kid at Thalia Hall, Chicago

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

U.S. - CANADA - EUROPEAN TOUR:

GOOD KID 

SOLD-OUT SHOWS IN SEATTLE, LOS ANGELES, DALLAS, WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, CHICAGO, AND MANY MORE CITIES

Guest Review and photos 

by Dugan Kenaz-Mara 

Good Kid was incredibly fun to attend, even as someone who did not know their music beforehand. They had a great stage presence and made fun banter with the audience, giving us insight into a lot of their history and the backstories behind their music. 

As a theater designer I was intrigued by the stage design. All of the elements worked really well together and made the environment unique. The lights were dynamic and the backdrop brought their style to life on stage. They also had moving hot air balloons that went up and down during the set and had projections on screens outfitted to look like speakers. These displayed pixel art versions of the band and their art and were also used to show lyrics when the audience was instructed to sing along with them during “tell me you know” and “Witches”. Especially observant audience members might have also noticed that the speakers were branded with ‘Mimi’s Tone Service’, which references their song Mimi's Delivery Service. 




During the entire show the crowd was enthusiastic, and the band knew how to keep the energy up. They had many bits that they brought us into, from hiding the setlist in a unicorn piñata to laying on the ground during a break between songs and bringing out a “Wheel of Chaos”



The wheel of chaos is spun each performance and includes options like playing their song “faster” faster every time they say the word ‘faster’, singing a Sea Shanty, and having a Beyblade battle. We were treated to a cover of All Star by Smash Mouth when the wheel landed on an option called “Get Shrek’d”. 



The band also had a super fun relationship with their opener - Adan Diaz. They brought him and his bassist out to cover a song, and they swapped drummers twice - once in the opener and once during the set. 



Good Kid was definitely worth seeing in concert. Their music was catchy and a few of their songs made it onto my playlists after the show. 


Thalia Hall, Chicago 4/25/24 Set list included:

  • Down with the King

  • First rate town

  • Atlas

  • Premier Inn

  • Witches

  • Ground

  • Tell me you know


    Check out our full set of photos HERE


    Dugan Kenaz-Mara is a designer, photographer, educator, and recent graduate of Northwestern University.


Credit: Dugan Kenaz-Mara


The freshly JUNO-nominated indie outfit Good Kid recently unveiled their latest single, “Summer,” along with an enchanting animated music video by XrayAlphaCharlie. “Summer” finds Good Kid delivering another of their signature indie earworms, with singer Nick Frosst's clever lyrics and catchy hooks taking center stage on this irresistible indie-pop hit. We'll be out to shoot stills at their Chicago Thalia Hall show. Check back soon for our photo filled recap.

The new single came out ahead of the sold out U.S. Tour and the band’s highly anticipated EP, Good Kid 4 now out as of March 27th. Click HERE to stream. The band's previous single from the EP “Bubbly” had Billboard raving that it was “one of Canada’s hot new radio songs…right up there with Beyoncé.”


2024 TOUR DATES:

2024 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES:

MAR 29 - Vancouver, BC - The Pearl [SOLD OUT]

MAR 30 - Seattle, WA - Crocodile [SOLD OUT]

MAR 31 - Portland, OR - Hawthorne [SOLD OUT]

APR 02 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent [SOLD OUT]

APR 03 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent [SOLD OUT]

APR 05 - San Diego, CA - Quartyard [SOLD OUT]

APR 06 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey [SOLD OUT]

APR 07 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey [SOLD OUT]

APR 09 - Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom [SOLD OUT]

APR 12 - Austin, TX - Empire Garage [SOLD OUT]

APR 13 - Dallas, TX - Ferris Wheeler [SOLD OUT]

APR 15 - Atlanta, GA - Masquerade (Heaven) 

APR 16 - Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle 

APR 17 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club [SOLD OUT]

APR 19 - Brooklyn, NY - Elsewhere Hall [SOLD OUT]

APR 20 - Philadelphia, PA - Theatre Of Living Arts [SOLD OUT]

APR 21 - Boston, MA - Sinclair [SOLD OUT]

APR 22 - Brooklyn, NY - Elsewhere Hall 

APR 25 - Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall [SOLD OUT]

APR 26 - Detroit, MI - El Club [SOLD OUT]

MAY 10 - Toronto, ON - Danforth Music Hall [SOLD OUT]

MAY 30 - Waterloo, ON - Maxwell's 

MAY 31 - Montreal, QC - Le Studio 

JUN 01 - Ottawa, ON - The Bronson Centre 

 
2024 EUROPEAN TOUR DATES:


SEP 15 - Dublin, IE - The Academy

SEP 17 - Brighton, UK - CHALK

SEP 19 - London, UK - O2 Forum Kentish Town

SEP 20 - Bristol, UK - SWX

SEP 21 - Birmingham, UK - O2 Institute 2

SEP 23 - Nottingham, UK - Rescue Rooms

SEP 25 - Glasgow, SCT - Galvanizers SWG3

SEP 26 - Manchester, UK - Manchester Academy 2

SEP 27 - Leeds, UK - Stylus

SEP 29 - Amsterdam, NL - Paradiso Grote Zaal

OCT 01 - Cologne, DE - Gebäude 9

OCT 02 - Berlin, DE - Badehaus

OCT 03 - Hamburg, DE - Knust



The upcoming six-track EP also features the hugely popular single “From The Start'', which garnered 1 million streams in just 24 hours, and has since accumulated 24 million more. Known for their eclectic blend of J-rock, indie-rock, and pop-punk, Good Kid’s massive streaming success is not just a result from their propensity to create catchy songs, but innovative fan engagement alongside savvy, fan-favoring business decisions, have helped the band amass an extensive and devoted fanbase, only serving to further the hype for the upcoming EP.

“The band is coming away from the busiest touring year of our musical careers, and this 4th EP “Good Kid 4” is the product of that journey. Many of the songs on this album are about the experience of music itself and how it has impacted our lives immensely. We wrote songs about facing anxiety with your friends, and about dancing. We wrote songs about reaching your breaking point, and about the hotels we would stay in night after night which eventually blended into one, endless timewarp of beige hallways. We wrote a song about the Summer we never wanted to end, and the only song that we didn’t write went over so unbelievably well with our fans, we had no choice but to record our own version of it.

Good Kid 4 is our favorite EP yet, and it represents the best of our last two years as a band when everything started to make sense for Good Kid.” - David Wood, Guitarist.

Case in point, the band’s entire Discography is content ID free and DMCA free, meaning content creators on platforms like Youtube and Twitch are able to freely use their music without fear of copyright takedowns. This has only slingshotted Good Kid’s already impressive following through the pervasive use of their music by hugely popular content creators.

Youtube’s biggest creator Mr. Beast, who boasts a mind-boggling 237 Million subscribers, featured 7 Good Kid songs in a video, garnering over 231 Million views. This is but one of many examples of the band’s online reach, which also includes direct collaborations with notable personalities such as XrayAlphaCharlie, Julien Solomita, and Trash Taste.

“We are very involved in the content creator community,” shares bassist Michael Kozakov. “All our music is free to use in monetized Streams and YouTube videos, which has led us to developing relationships and friendships with some of the biggest eSports players and YouTubers. We are very open and excited to continue collaborations with content creators and e-sports brands, and want to develop our brand as the world’s most creator friendly band.”

Beyond the digital realm, the band was recently nominated for Breakthrough Group Of The Year at the 2024 JUNO Awards and are soon to embark on their biggest headlining tour to date. Having already sold out over 90% of their North American dates, demand for tickets to their European and UK shows has been so overwhelming, that the band has had to upgrade multiple venues, several times, to accommodate the influx of enthusiastic fans. 

The upcoming tour comes on the heels of two previously sold-out US headline tours in 2022, two sold-out UK and EU tours as well as a 2023 Canadian tour supporting Grammy Award winning Portugal. The Man.

A jack-of-all-trades ensemble - musicians, programmers and storytellers, Good Kid has carved a unique path for their audience to follow suit. In essence, Good Kid's story is not just about music; it's about building a dynamic, engaging universe where fans play an integral role. With an unwavering commitment to joy, creativity, and inclusivity, Good Kid is more than a band — it's a thriving community of music enthusiasts shaping a unique and memorable experience together. Want more? Check out their site, HERE: https://goodkidofficial.com

Friday, April 26, 2024

First Look: Production Photos for Judgment Day World Premiere Starring Tony and Emmy winner Jason Alexander April 23–May 26, 2024

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Presents 

Judgment Day

Starring Tony and Emmy winner Jason Alexander

Written by Golden Globe winner Rob Ulin and directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel

April 23–May 26, 2024


Jason Alexander (at right) stars as a corrupt lawyer visited by a terrifying angel, played by Candy Buckley, after a near death experience. Photo by Liz Lauren.

It's about to be Wednesday in the park with George (Costanza), AKA: Jason Alexander, for opening night of Judgment Day, May 1, at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and we're here for it! You can also call him Sammy Campo. I'll be out reviewing this world premiere for ChiIL Live Shows and ChiIL Mama. It's  Jason Alexander's Chicago stage debut, in a production laden with a multi award winning cast and creatives, and we can't wait. Don't miss this!


Jason Alexander makes his Chicago stage debut in the world premiere comedy Judgment Day at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. In The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare through May 26, 2024. Photo by Liz Lauren.

ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List: 

Adult Shows With Family Themes On Our Radar

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents Judgment Day, a hilariously irreverent world premiere comedy starring Tony and Emmy Award winner Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) in his Chicago stage debut. Alexander leads a cast that features Tony Award nominee Daniel Breaker as Father Michael and Candy Buckley as the Angel, along with Maggie Bofill, Olivia Denise Dawson, Joe Dempsey, Michael Kostroff, Ellis Myers, and Meg Thalken. 

Jason Alexander and Ellis Myers. Photo by Liz Lauren. 

Judgment Day unites the powerhouse comedic talents of Alexander with director Moritz von Stuelpnagel, a Tony Award nominee and leading director of stage comedy, and playwright Rob Ulin, a Golden Globe and Peabody Award-winning television writer. Judgment Day debuts April 23–May 26, 2024, in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare.

Jason Alexander stars as a corrupt lawyer attempting to make amends with the help of a conflicted priest, played by Daniel Breaker. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Judgment Day tells the story of Sammy Campo, a staggeringly corrupt, morally bankrupt lawyer who's threatened with eternal damnation by a terrifying angel after a near-death experience. In a desperate attempt to redeem himself, Sammy forms an unlikely bond with a Catholic priest who is having his own crisis of faith. Filled with razor-sharp wit, this deliciously devious comedy rollicks through the timeless questions of Western philosophy—“morality,” “faith,” and “Are people any damn good?”

Jason Alexander and Maggie Bofill in the world premiere comedy Judgment Day. In The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare through May 26, 2024. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Jason Alexander, who stars as Sammy, is best known for his role as George Costanza on the long-running hit TV series Seinfeld, for which he was nominated for seven consecutive Emmy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards. Alexander began his career in the original Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. He won the 1989 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway and performed as Max Bialystock in the Los Angeles production of The Producers. Alexander made his Broadway directorial debut last year with The Cottage. His many film and television credits include Pretty Woman, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Daniel Breaker in the world premiere comedy Judgment Day. In The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare through May 26, 2024. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Daniel Breaker plays the conflicted Catholic priest Father Michael. Breaker was last seen in Chicago as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, a role he subsequently performed on Broadway. He also performed in the original Broadway cast of Shrek The Musical, originating the role of Donkey, and received a Tony nomination and an Obie Award for his leading performance in Passing Strange. Other theater credits include The Book of Mormon and The Performers on Broadway and the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park musical production of Love’s Labor’s Lost. Breaker has been a series regular on Showtime’s Billions and the Peacock series Girls5Eva.

Daniel Breaker and Michael Kostroff in the world premiere comedy Judgment Day. In The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare through May 26, 2024. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Candy Buckley appears as the Angel. Buckley has performed on Broadway in Cabaret, After the Fall, Scandalous, and Thoroughly Modern Millie; her many additional stage credits include Lincoln Center Theater’s Becky Nurse of Salem, the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of The Taming of the Shrew, American Repertory Theatre’s Hedda Gabler, and The Old Globe’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Buckley’s film and television credits include The Kill Room, Rare Objects, and WeCrashed.

In the role of Sammy’s wife Tracy is Maggie Bofill. Bofill’s prolific acting credits include Nora in A Doll’s House Part Two at Long Wharf Theater, Between Riverside and Crazy at Second Stage, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at the Public Theater. A writer in addition to her work as an actor, Bofill wrote and starred in Devil of Choice, which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and is a member of LAByrinth Theater Company and Ensemble Studio Theatre. Michael Kostroff plays the Monsignor. Kostroff is best known as Maury Levy on HBO’s The Wire, in addition to recurring roles on The Blacklist, Billions, The Good Wife, and Law and Order: SVU. He performed in The Nance on Broadway, the first national tour of The Producers, and as Thénardier in the touring company of Les Misérables. Ellis Myers plays Sammy and Tracy’s young son Casper. Myers’ credits include the film Perpetrator, in addition to voiceover and commercial work. 

Olivia Denise Dawson and Jason Alexander in the world premiere comedy Judgment Day. In The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare through May 26, 2024. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Olivia Denise Dawson plays Della, Sammy’s faithful, world-weary secretary. Dawson performed in The Comedy of Errors, The Book of Will, and The Tempest with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival’s 2023 season and has also worked at Steppenwolf Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, and many more. In the role of Jackson, a cranky and crooked insurance adjuster, is Joe Dempsey. Dempsey returns to Chicago Shakespeare after appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Short Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew. Other credits include work with American Blues Theater, Lookingglass Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and many more. Meg Thalken plays Edna, a widow whom Sammy must help in his quest to become a better person. Thalken’s Chicago credits include work at Rivendell Theatre, Steep Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and more. She was most recently seen in Becky Nurse of Salem at Trinity Repertory Theatre.

Understudies include Jodi Gage, Tasha Anne James, Steve McDonagh, Reginald Robinson Jr., and Gabriel Solis.

One of the most in-demand directors nationwide, Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s credits include the Broadway productions Bernhardt/Hamlet, Present Laughter, Hand to God, for which he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Director, and most recently, I Need That starring Danny DeVito. Off-Broadway credits include Seared, The Thanksgiving Play, Teenage Dick, Important Hats of the 20th Century, and Verité. Rob Ulin, a Golden Globe and Peabody Award winner who got his start as a professional comedy writer with the legendary Norman Lear, has written and produced acclaimed sitcoms such as Ramy, Young Sheldon, Malcolm in the Middle, Roseanne, and Dinosaurs.

In addition to Ulin and von Stuelpnagel, the creative team includes Scenic Designer Beowulf Boritt, Costume Designer Tilly Grimes, Lighting Designer Amith Chandrashaker, Sound Designer Mikaal Sulaiman, Hair and Make-up Designer Tommy Kurzman, Fight and Intimacy Director Max Fabian, Dialect Coach Eva Breneman, Wing Design and Fabrication by Mio Design Studio, Chicago Casting Director Bob Mason, New York Casting Director Laura Stanczyk, C.S.A., Assistant Director Mallory Metoxen, Assistant Scenic Designer Alexis Distler, Assistant Costume Designer Caity Mulkearns, Assistant Lighting Designer Max Grano De Oro, Young Performer Supervisor Gabe Anderle, Production Stage Manager Jinni Pike, Assistant Stage Manager Mary Zanger, and Production Assistant Jojo Wallenberg.

Judgment Day is the latest opportunity for Chicago Shakespeare audiences to be the first to experience thrilling new theatrical events. A celebrated incubator for new work development, CST has commissioned more than 30 world premieres that have gone on to productions on hundreds of stages around the world. Chicago Shakespeare’s artistic team nurtures and empowers theatermakers in crafting new plays, musicals, and adaptations through readings, workshops, and direct support. There are currently three Chicago Shakespeare productions on Broadway: Illinoise, which had its sold-out press premiere at CST in February; CST’s world premiere musical The Notebook; and CST’s North American premiere of SIX. Also on tour across the US and Canada, SIX garnered the Tony Award for Best Original Score, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, and a Grammy Award nomination.

Accessible and enhanced performances for Judgment Day include:

ASL-interpretation – Friday, May 10, 2024, 7:30

All dialogue and lyrics are translated into American Sign Language by two certified interpreters.

Open-captioning – Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 1:00 & 7:30

A text display of the words and sounds heard during a play, synced live with the action onstage.

Projected Spanish Translation – Thursday, May 16, 2024, 7:30

A text display of the words and sounds heard during a play, synced live with the action onstage.

Audio-description with optional touch tour –

Sunday, May 19, 2024, 2:00

A program that provides spoken narration of a play’s key visual elements for patrons who are blind or have low vision. Touch Tours provide patrons the opportunity to experience, firsthand, a production’s design elements.

More information at www.chicagoshakes.com/judgment or social media at @chicagoshakes and @judgmentdaybroadway.

Judgment Day will be presented April 23–May 26, 2024, in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Single tickets starting at $45 are on sale now. Special discounts are available for audience members under the age of 35 and for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit www.chicagoshakes.com.

ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER

Regional Tony Award-recipient Chicago Shakespeare Theater produces a bold and innovative year-round season—plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside nationally recognized education programming serving tens of thousands of students, teachers, and lifelong learners each year. Founded in 1986, Chicago Shakespeare’s onstage work has expanded to as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually. CST is dedicated to welcoming the next generation of theatergoers; one in four of its audience members is under the age of eighteen. As a nonprofit organization, Chicago Shakespeare works to embrace diversity, prioritize inclusion, provide equitable opportunities, and offer an accessible experience for all. On CST’s three stages at its home on Navy Pier, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire www.chicagoshakes.com.

Behind The Scenes: Rehearsal Photos

Jason Alexander makes his Chicago stage debut in the world premiere comedy Judgment Day at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Performances begin April 23, 2024. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel in rehearsal for Judgment Day. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Jason Alexander, Olivia Denise Dawson, and Daniel Breaker in rehearsal for Judgment Day. Photo by Liz Lauren.

The company of Judgment Day in rehearsal, including Candy Buckley (far left) and Jason Alexander (far right). Photo by Liz Lauren.

Ellis Myers and Jason Alexander in rehearsal for Judgment Day. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Daniel Breaker and Jason Alexander in rehearsal for Judgment Day. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Ellis Myers and Jason Alexander receive notes from playwright Rob Ulin and director Moritz von Stuelpnagel in rehearsal for Judgment Day. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Maggie Bofill and Jason Alexander in rehearsal for Judgment Day. Photo by Liz Lauren.

The cast of Judgment Day features, from left to right seated, Meg Thalken, Gabriel Solis, Ellis Myers, and Daniel Breaker, from left to right standing, Steve McDonagh, Joe Dempsey, Olivia Denise Dawson, Jason Alexander, Maggie Bofill, Michael Kostroff, and Candy Buckley. Photo by Liz Lauren.



Judgment Day, a world premiere comedy starring Jason Alexander in his Chicago stage debut, runs April 23–May 26 in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Photo by Vito Palmisano.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Digital Offering ELEVATOR TOURS BY BARRIE COLE Available for Download May 1, 2024

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 

The Digital Offering 

ELEVATOR TOURS

Part of 

HAMBURGERS AND DISAPPOINTMENT: PLAYS ABOUT ENOUGHNESS

A FESTIVAL OF WORKS BY BARRIE COLE

Available for Download May 1

Elevator Tours, written by Barrie Cole, originally directed by Jen Moniz and illustrated by Jules Darling, will receive its digital premiere Wednesday, May 1 as part of  Hamburgers and Disappointment: Plays about Enoughness, a festival of works by Barrie Cole playing in repertory, May 2 - 19 at 7:30 p.m., at Labyrinth Club, 3658 N. Pulaski Road.

 Sweetback Productions, in collaboration with Labyrinth Arts, is proud to announce Elevator Tours, written by Barrie Cole, originally directed by Jen Moniz and illustrated by Jules Darling, will receive its digital premiere Wednesday, May 1 as part of Hamburgers and Disappointment: Plays about Enoughness, a festival of works by Barrie Cole playing in repertory, May 2 - 19 at 7:30 p.m., at Labyrinth Club, 3658 N. Pulaski Road. The Festival includes four plays from Cole, performed in repertory: Performances of Schedule 1 includes I Love You Permanently and Fruit Tree Backpack runs on Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Schedule 2 that includes Capacity and Meaning is Tricky runs on Fridays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. In addition, for those who may not be able to attend the festival, Elevator Tours, is available for digital download for $10 at BarrieCole.com. Press nights for Hamburgers and Disappointment: Plays about Enoughness are Schedule 1, Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m., and schedule 2, Sunday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are now on sale at SweetBackProductions.com.

“It's extremely exciting to have my work become available digitally to reach non-local audiences. Carolyn Hoerdemann and Colm O'Reilly are exquisite as ‘Ruth’ and ‘Will,’” said playwright Cole. “They were both in the original production and the past years have given their work more depth and nuance than ever. Also, new collaborators Jules Darling and Paul Brennan have made substantial contributions in realizing a new format with their beautiful artwork, attentive recording and editing.”

Hamburgers and Disappointment: Plays about Enoughness, is a new festival of four short, two-character plays by Chicago-based playwright, Barrie Cole performed in repertory and a digital offering:

 Photo of Carolyn Hoerdemann and Colm O’Reilly


DIGITAL OFFERING - available May 1 at BarrieCole.com

Elevator Tours

Written by Barrie Cole (she/her)

Originally directed by Jen Moniz (she/her)

Illustrations by Jules Darling (she/her)

Recorded and Edited by Paul Brennan (he/him)

A special audio play with animation. Ruth (Carolyn Hoerdemann, she/her) has just moved into a new apartment when her recently divorced friend Will (Colm O’Reilly, he/him), comes to stay with her. They discuss life as a spectacle, art and sex.

 

SCHEDULE 1

Performed on Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.

Fruit Tree Backpack

Written by Barrie Cole (she/her)

Directed by Jayita Bhattacharya (she/her)

Ceil (Kristy Lockhart, she/her) and Anna (Julia Williams, she/her) traverse the various rooms inside the exhausting, sweet, metaphorical mansion of love.

 

I Love You Permanently

Written by Barrie Cole (she/her)

Directed by Jen Moniz (she/her)

Jay (Jeffrey Bivens, he/him) wants to be with Lee (Vicki Walden, she/her), but is unable to leave his abusive relationship. They meet one last time and try to find out if it is possible to have an entire relationship in the span of one cold night.

 

SCHEDULE 2

Performed on Fridays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.

WORLD PREMIERE

Capacity

Written by Barrie Cole (she/her)

Capacity is a world premiere and completes Cole’s collection of two-person plays about relationships. The play explores a thorny friendship between a playwright (Kelly Anchors, she/her) and an actor (KellyAnn Corcoran, she/her) who were both, at different times, married to the same man.


Meaning is Tricky

Written by Barrie Cole (she/her)

Originally directed by Jen Moniz (she/her)

Roommates and former lovers Mark (David Isaacson, he/him) and Clare (Diana Slickman, she/her) navigate Clare's burgeoning new relationship with a TV-obsessed man in an open marriage whose wife operates a flower kiosk.

The creative team for Hamburgers and Disappointment: Plays about Enoughness includes: Pamela L. Parker(set/props designer, she/her); Diane Hamm (producer/lighting designer, she/her); Kelly Anchors (producer/costume designer, she/her); Paul Brennan (film/sound designer, he/him); Charlotte Lastra (stage manager, she/her); Hannah Tymosko (stage manager, she/her); Timothy Hiatt (photographer, he/him) and Jules Darling (graphic designer, they/them).

 

ABOUT BARRIE COLE, playwright

Barrie Cole has written 14 plays, numerous monologue works, as well as essays, hybrid-works and more. Her plays have been produced by Theater Oobleck, Curious Theatre Branch and others.The Chicago Reader said about Cole: “Her ambiguously concrete work layers childlike simplicity over seasoned melancholy to produce piercing, wondrous images of charming, discomfiting transformation.”  

 


ABOUT SWEETBACK PRODUCTIONS

Sweetback Productions was founded in 1994 by Kelly Anchors and Mike McKune. They started with a string of hit late night parodies of cult films that includes; Plan 9 From Outer Space, Female Trouble, Super Pussy Vixen, Go Faster! Kill! Kill!, Scarrie, The Musical!, The Birds and Freaks. Sweetback now focuses on more obscure and original work, most recently, Deep Fried and Suck My Nose, which featured three generations of family actors weaving their love through their pain while tap dancing and singing hymns; Bipolar Bitch, a mystical ride into psychosis and Dorothy Mae and the 1978 Holiday Rambler Ramblette, an outdoor extravaganza detailing Kelly’s roadtrip across the southwest during the Trump re-election season. Sweetback is beyond thrilled to be producing this festival of Barrie Cole’s plays, a playwright that Anchors was lucky enough to work with in Clumsy Sublime. Find them on Facebook.


ABOUT LABYRINTH ARTS AND PERFORMANCE COLLECTIVE

Labyrinth Arts and Performance Collective, a 501 c 3 not for profit, is organized for the purpose of building the creative community and developing wisdom through art. The Collective believes that making and sharing meaning is key to being with artistic projects as a means of interactive exchange towards meaningful experience and encourages consciousness. Risk taking requires compassion and holding space for fearless, free self-expression, the Collective believes that joy is the highest expression of being and inherent in all creative acts. And believes in artistic autonomy where the artistic project takes precedence over a single executive's vision. 

Recent past projects included the Labyrinth Film Fest 2024, variety shows 2023, music shows 2023, comedy showcases of John and Paul 2023 and play development in 2023. More information on their website or on Facebook.

Sweetback Productions, in collaboration with Labyrinth Arts, is proud to announce Hamburgers and Disappointment: Plays about Enoughness, a festival of works by Barrie Cole playing in repertory, May 2 - 19 at 7:30 p.m., at Labyrinth Club, 3658 N. Pulaski Road. Performances of Schedule 1 includes I Love You Permanently and Fruit Tree Backpack runs on Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Schedule 2 that includes Capacity and Meaning is Tricky runs on Fridays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. In addition, for those who may not be able to attend, a digital play, Elevator Tours, will be available for digital download for $10. Press nights for Hamburgers and Disappointment: Plays about Enoughness are Schedule 1, Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m., and schedule 2, Sunday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are now on sale at SweetBackProductions.com.


Friday, April 19, 2024

World Premiere of POOR PEOPLE! The Parody Musical Via Hell in a Handbag Productions May 2 – June 16, 2024 at The Chopin Theatre

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Hell in a Handbag Productions Presents the World Premiere of

POOR PEOPLE! The Parody Musical

By Tyler Anthony Smith

Directed by Stephanie Shaw

Music Direction by Andrew Milliken

Choreography by Christopher Kelley

May 2 – June 16, 2024 at The Chopin Theatre

Hell in a Handbag Productions parodies pack a punch. Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we adore their original productions, and we're longtime fans of their unique brand of kitschy camp. Their creative, drag homages to classic film favorites and TV shows, like their incomparable Golden Girls episodes, are a must see and a fabulously fun night out. We can't wait to catch their latest!

Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to continue its 22nd season with the world premiere of POOR PEOPLE! The Parody Musical, an insane homage to many of the characters, songs and tropes of those very expensive Broadway and West End musicals about the less fortunate (Annie, Oliver!, Les Miz, Sweeney Todd... you get the gist). Written by ensemble member Tyler Anthony Smith* with direction by Stephanie Shaw, music direction by Andrew Milliken and choreography by Christopher Kelley, POOR PEOPLE! will play May 2 – June 16, 2024 at The Chopin Studio Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. in Chicago. Tickets are now on sale at Tickets are now on sale at handbagproductions.org or buytickets.at/hellinahandbagproductions/1116848.

The cast includes ensemble members David Cerda*, Sydney Genco*, Caitlin Jackson*, Elizabeth Lesinski* and Tyler Anthony Smith* with Matty Bettencourt, Brittney Brown, Taylor Dalton, Dakota Hughes, Patrick O'Keefe, Shane Roberie and Tommy Thurston. Understudies include Connar Brown, Miguel Long, Halli Morgan and Brandon Nelson.

It’s 1979 in dangerous, smoky, glorious New York City. Our story’s red-headed protagonist Li’l Orphan Arnie (Dakota Hughes) is fleeing from the guardianship of a sex-starved, meth-cooking madwoman (Sydney Genco*). Out on the streets, they befriend a slinky dancing cat (Matty Bettencourt), who leads them to a magical manhole, transporting them back in time to Paris, France in 1815. Trading in one poverty-plagued lifestyle for another, Arnie gives up the desire to find their parents and joins forces with a gang of pick-pocketing prostitutes, led by the mysterious Fagin (David Cerda*).

Life becomes even more dire when Mama Moneybags (Brittney Brown), a corrupt Republican from the future, takes it upon herself to put Fagin’s troupe out of work. Thankfully, there’s a bounty of colorful, destitute characters to help save the day, such as the tuberculosis-ridden Pantene (Caitlin Jackson*), a feral Beggar Woman (Elizabeth Lesinski*) and Nance, the classic hooker with a heart of gold (Tyler Anthony Smith*). Will the sun come out tomorrow? Do you hear the people sing? Will we be changing all of the lyrics to avoid being sued? Yes! 

Comments playwright Tyler Anthony Smith, "When I was in the fourth grade, I was supposed to be in the ensemble of our district's high school production of Oliver! I got sick, missed too many rehearsals, and was forced to exit the show. So not only is this Handbag's response to Apple TV's Schmigadoon!, it's also my revenge." 

The production team includes G. "Max" Maxin IV (Scenic, Lighting and Projection Design), Rachel M. Sypniewski (Costume Design), Miranda Coble (Sound Design), Maggie O'Brien (Props Design), Jabberwocky Marionettes (Puppet Design), Keith Ryan* (Wig Design), Syd Genco* (Make-up Design), Michael S. Miller* (Graphic Design), Rick Aguilar (Photography), Jenna Raithel (Stage Manager), Veronica Kostka* (Assistant Stage Manager) and David Cerda* (Executive Producer).

*Denotes Hell in a Handbag Ensemble Member

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

Location: The Chopin Studio Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago

Previews: Thursday, May 2 at 8 pm, Friday, May 3 at 8 pm, Saturday, May 4 at 8 pm, Sunday, May 5 at 4 pm and Thursday, May 9 at 8 pm

Opening/Press performance: Friday, May 10 at 8 pm

Regular run: Saturday, May 11 – Sunday, June 16, 2024

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 4 pm.

Industry Night: Wednesday, June 12 at 8 pm

Tickets: $25 previews, $42 general admission, $60 VIP/reserved seating. Group rates $36 for 10 or more. 

Tickets are now on sale at handbagproductions.org or buytickets.at/hellinahandbagproductions/1116848.

 

About the Artists

Tyler Anthony Smith (Playwright)  is in show business. He/She/They is/is/are a proud Hell in a Handbag ensemble member. Lots of performing here and there, lots of writing this and that, lots of saying, “There's a hole in my crotch. Again.” Ms. Smith is not represented by any sort of talent agency. Instagram: @judithnightlight

Stephanie Shaw (Director) has presented her original solo performance work for a wide range of venues in the Chicago area, as well as NYC. An alumni member of the Neo-Futurists, she wrote and performed regularly for Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind for five years. She has directed a number of solo shows for Live Bait Theatre, The New York Fringe, Sweetback Productions, and the simple pleasure of Tyler Anthony Smith and his audiences. She directed Tyler’s FRANKENSTREISAND for Hell in a Handbag, and has directed for The Neo-Futurists, The New York Fringe, Oak Park Festival Theatre, MirrorBox Theatre (Cedar Rapids), and over a dozen plays and musicals for the theatre department of Columbia College Chicago, where she is a Professor of Instruction. Once upon a time, she was a theatre critic for The Chicago Reader.

Andrew Milliken (Music Director) has been a music director/pianist in the Chicago area since 2016. Previous credits with Hell in a Handbag include Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical, Bewildered and The Facts of Life: Satan’s School for Girls, for which he also composed the music with David Cerda.

Christopher Kelley (Choreographer) is a choreographer, dancer and teacher based in Chicago. Favorite performing credits include The Muny, Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Paramount, Marriott, Drury Lane, Porchlight and Timberlake Playhouse. Christopher was a company member of Chicago Repertory Ballet from 2020-2023. They have taught ballet and jazz at several studios around Chicago and are on faculty at Visceral Dance Chicago and CCPA. BFA in Music Theatre from CCM.

 


About Hell in a Handbag Productions

Hell in a Handbag is dedicated to the preservation, exploration, and celebration of works ingrained in the realm of popular culture via theatrical productions through parody, music and homage. Handbag is a 501(c)(3) Not for Profit. For additional information, visit handbagproductions.org.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

INCOMING: The Inspector Cluzo To Play Chicago's Subterranean May 20th, 2024

Chi, IL Live Shows On Our Radar

INDEPENDENT FRENCH BLUES-ROCK DUO/ORGANIC FARMERS

The Inspector Cluzo

ON FIRST-EVER NORTH AMERICAN HEADLINE TOUR

ACCLAIMED LATEST ALBUM, HORIZON,

AVAILABLE NOW VIA THE BAND’S OWN FTBP RECORDS 


Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we caught The Inspector Cluzo opening for CLUTCH in Chicago at Concord Music Hall, a few years back. They put on an excellent live show and we can't wait to see them again this May, on their first-ever North American headline tour. We adore this DIY blues-rock duo from Gascony, France. Don't miss this!

Running A Family Farm Tour 2024 gets underway May 1 at The Basement in Nashville, TN and then travels the continent through the month. Highlights include an eagerly awaited festival appearance at Atlanta, GA’s Shaky Knees (May 4) as well as stops at such renowned venues as Oklahoma City, OK’s Diamond Ballroom (May 10), Chicago, IL’s Subterranean (May 20), and New York City’s Mercury Lounge (May 27). For complete details and ticket information, please visit www.theinspectorcluzo.com.

 

THE INSPECTOR CLUZO: RUNNING A FAMILY FARM TOUR 2024

MAY


1 – Nashville, TN – The Basement

2 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506

4 – Atlanta, GA – Shaky Knees *

7 – Austin, TX – The Ballroom

10 – Oklahoma City, OK – Diamond Ballroom

12 – Denver, CO – The Other Side

13 – Omaha, NE – Reverb

15 – Des Moines, IA – XBK

17 – Kansas City, MO – Encore

19 – Detroit, MI – Pike Room

20 – Chicago, IL – Subterranean

21 – Indianapolis, IN – Hi-Fi

23 – Buffalo, NY – Electric City

24 – Montreal, QC – Cabaret Foufs

27 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge

* Festival Appearance

The Inspector Cluzo – Laurent (guitar, lead vocals) and Mathieu (drums) – have earned worldwide applause and attention for their elemental brand of hard-working blues rock ‘n’ roll and uniquely self-sufficient approach. Since coming together in 2008, the fully independent duo has released nine albums via their own FTBP Records, including last year’s acclaimed Horizon. Produced by 6x GRAMMY® Award-winner Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Phish), the album earned them the cover of Rolling Stone France as well as a four-starred rave, and named by Classic Rock as one of “The 50 Best Albums of the Year.” 

Last year also saw The Inspector Cluzo starring in their own full-length documentary, Running A Family Farm, showcasing their extraordinary work as professional organic farmers in the Gascony region of France. The duo’s Lou Casse Farm (“The Oak” in Gascon) is a 15-hectare family farm building the agriculture of the future via Agro-Ecology, that is to say without chemicals, non-polluting, creating biodiversity, and fighting against climate change. Filmed over three years, the film – which follows the band’s 2015 documentary, Rockfarmers - presents an intimate look at the daily life and inner workings of Lou Casse, highlighting issues like global warming and the uncertain future facing family farms around the globe. 

Along with running Lou Casse (as well as their own label and E-shop), The Inspector Cluzo have lit up countless stages around the work, performing more than 1200 gigs in 67 countries spanning North American runs supporting bands like Clutch and EELS to international festival appearances including Lollapalooza (France, Brazil, Chile), Japan’s Fujirock, South Korea’s Pentaport, the UK’s Download Festival, and France’s own Hellfest, to name only a few. As with Lou Casse, The Inspector Cluzo adhere to organic principles on stage and in the studio, guided by strong convictions and deep passion for the natural and true sound of the blues.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Babes With Blades Theatre Company Presents World Premiere of The S Paradox April 7th Through May 18th, 2024

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

BABES WITH BLADES THEATRE COMPANY’S WORLD PREMIERE OF 

THE S PARADOX

WINNER OF INTERNATIONAL PLAYWRITING COMPETITION


Please note: masks are required for all performances. 

The running time is 95 minutes with no intermission. 

True to Chicago Being a Hub for New Work, Babes With Blades Theatre Company’s 10th Winner Of The International Playwriting Competition Joining Sword & Pen and The Margaret W. Martin Award Opens this Sunday, April 7

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU FIGHT FOR

Babes With Blades Theatre Company’s (BWBTC) 2024 season opens this Sunday, April 7 with The S Paradox, written by Joining Sword & Pen International Playwright Competition (JS&P) and Margaret W. Martin Award Winner Jillian Leff, directed by Morgan Manasa with fight direction by Samantha Kaufman at The Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St. The S Paradox runs through May 18 with preview performances Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m.; Thursday, April 11 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 12 at 8 p.m. The press opening is Saturday, April 13 at 8 p.m. with a performance schedule of Thursdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. The streaming dates are Saturday May 11  at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 12 at 3 p.m.; Thursday, May 16 and Friday, May 17 at 8 p.m. available via Vimeo.com.  Open Caption performances are available Saturday, May 4 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 5 at 3 p.m., and Thursday and Friday, May 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. with sensory-friendly performances Sundays, April 21 and 28 at 3 p.m. Tickets for the live and the streaming productions are $28 - $35 and available at BabesWithBlades.org.

Taking place in a distant future where the United States has undergone sweeping reform, The S Paradox is a world where guns are banned, healthcare is free,and numerous tax and economic bills have helped lessen the division of classes and pulled millions out of poverty. Sloane (first name Bridget, but don’t call her that) is a young woman who has been tapped by a watchdog intelligence agency called the CRC, led by the odd, yet domineering William Hale. As Sloane triumphantly (and a little drunkenly) leaves a warehouse after signing her contract, she is stopped by a mysterious woman who says she has come back in time to stop Sloane from making the biggest mistake of her life. 

“Chicago’s storefront theatre scene as a whole is very passionate about creating something that makes a lasting impact and is new and fresh and bold,” states winning Playwright Jillian Leff*. “Most of the time, you're going to find that in a new play.” 

“The S Paradox is an “Alias” meets “Looper” type tale, a sci-fi adventure that is an addition to the canon of new plays cultivated by BWBTC. The ensemble, originally founded as a company for women trained in stage combat, found few scripts outside of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew that called for femme actors to fight,” said Artistic Director Hayley Rice*. “Scripts that did “benefit” from having a woman trained in stage combat typically involved scenarios where female characters were the victims of the violence happening in a play.”

Now in its 19th year, Joining Sword & Pen International Playwright “continues to give space and a voice for stories from marginalized voices in theater,”added Rice. “With the total prize and award being a combination of developing the new script that leads to a full production and a cash prize, this is rare in the theater industry and we want to continue this as an opportunity for the development of new work in the industry.

Chicago playwright Jillian Leff talks about her experience through the development process with BWBTC: “I've done mostly one-off workshops for my other plays, which are definitely helpful, but I enjoy BWBTC’s Fighting Words program because it's working with your script over the better part of a year, with mainly the same people. I've felt it's helped The S Paradox grow exponentially.”

The S Paradox’s ensemble cast of 12 artists includes Elisabeth Del Toro (she/her, Dez); Luz Espinoza (she/her, Dez U/S and Older Dez); Cat Evans (any with respect, Ava); Kayla Marie Klammer (she/her, Sloane); Sonja Lynn Mata (she/her, Older Dez); Deanna Palmer (she/her, Nameless, Sloane U/S); Steve Peebles (he/him, William); Jessica Pennachio (she/her, Nameless, S U/S); Thomas Russell (he/they, Nameless, William U/S); Emily Sturges (she/they, Nameless U/S); Tina-Kim Nyguen (she/her, Nameless, Ava U/S) and Maureen Yasko* (she/her, S).

The production team includes BWBTC Ensemble Members Line Bower* (they/them, technical director), Jillian Leff* (she/her, playwright) and Morgan Manasa* (she/her, director) as well as Evy Burch (they/her, props designer), Rose Hamill (she/her, production manager), Rose Johnson (they/them, scenic designer); Samantha Kaufman (she/her, fight director), L.J. Luthringer (he/him, sound designer); Payton Shearn (she/they, production assistant), Taylor Stageberg (she/they, stage manager); Rachel M. Sypniewski (she/her, costume designer); Laura J. Wiley (she/her, lighting designer) and Theo Yaeck (they/them, assistant stage manager). 

*Denotes BWBTC ensemble member


ABOUT JILLIAN LEFF, PLAYWRIGHT OF THE S PARADOX

Jillian Leff (she/her/hers) is a Chicago based playwright and actor, whose work has been

produced in Chicago, Los Angeles, Florida and Indiana. The world premiere of Small

World (co-written with Joe Lino) was a Jeff Award nominee for New Work. She is an

ensemble member with Babes With Blades Theatre Company, where she has appeared in Richard III (Buckingham), Women of 4G (Pierce) and The Good Fight (Cicely) and is excited to work with BWBTC as a playwright again after workshopping her play The Mark through Fighting Words. She has a BFA in acting from Ball State University and is an advanced actor combatant with The Society of American Fight Directors. 

ABOUT MORGAN MANASA, DIRECTOR OF THE S PARADOX

Morgan Manasa (she/her/hers), a graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts and Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University, has been a theatremaker in Chicago for the past 20 years. Manasa is an ensemble member of Babes With Blades Theatre Company where she’s been seen in their production of Henry V (Fluellen) and Witch Slap! (Goody Blunt). She has directed a handful of one-acts and 10-minute play festivals but made her mainstage directorial debut with Arthur M. Jolly’s The Lady Demands Satisfaction (Jeff Recommended) with BWBTC. Most recently she directed JANE: The Abortion Underground with Idle Muse Theatre Company where she also directed In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 

ABOUT JOINING SWORD & PEN INTERNATIONAL PLAYWRITING COMPETITION AND THE MARGARET W. MARTIN AWARD

The Joining Sword & Pen international playwriting competition launched in 2005 to generate more scripts that featured women in roles involving stage combat.  Created in collaboration with Artistic Advisor and Fight Master in the Society of American Fight Directors David Woolley who sponsors the competition, scripts inspired by a specific image are submitted and go through a blind judging process.  The winning script goes through BWBTC’s new play development program, but also receives a full production, cash prize and the Margaret W. Martin Award.

Margaret W. Martin was ahead of her time. In the 1960s and 70s, she maintained her full time job, taught piano, and raised a family of 6 children (4 girls, two boys) all while she traveled the globe from the States to Saudi Arabia, across Europe and Vientiane Laos during the height of the Vietnam war. She founded the American International School – Riyadh (K-12) in Saudi Arabia in 1963, and it has flourished as an institution since then. The Margaret W. Martin Award is in honor of Artistic Advisor and SAFD Fight Master David Woolley’s mother. 


ABOUT BABES WITH BLADES THEATRE COMPANY

Babes With Blades Theatre Company – for over the past 20 years, and moving into the future – strives to develop and present scripts focused on complex, dynamic (often combative) characters who continue to be underrepresented on theatre stages based on gender. Babes With Blades Theatre Company uses (and will continue to use) stage combat to tell stories that elevate the voices of underrepresented communities and dismantle the patriarchy.

In each element of their programming, they embrace two key concepts:

1) Folks of marginalized genders and underrepresented communities are central to the story, driving the action rather than responding or submitting to it.

2) Everyone is capable of a full emotional and physical range, up to and including violence and its consequences.

The company offers participants and patrons alike an unparalleled opportunity to experience every person as heroes and villains; rescuers and rescues; right, wrong and everywhere in between: exciting, vivid, dynamic PEOPLE. It’s as simple and as subversive as that. 

BWBTC’s 2024 programming is partially made possible by the kind support of The Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, a grant from The Illinois Arts Council Agency, a CityArts Grant from the the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE), and the support of the Small Business Alliance Shuttered Venue Operators (SVOG) grant program.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT STATEMENT:

Babes With Blades Theatre Company produces theatre in venues located on the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations. Many other tribes such as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, and Fox also called this area home. This region that we now commonly refer to as “The Chicagoland Area”, has long been a center for Indigenous people to gather, trade, and maintain kinship ties. Today, one of the largest urban Native American communities in the United States resides in Chicago. Members of this community continue to contribute to the life of this city and to celebrate their heritage, practice traditions and care for the land and waterways.


Thursday, March 28, 2024

A.B.L.E. presents "The Odyssey" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater One Night Only On May 11th, 2024

ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List: 

Set sail for an inclusive adventure 

with A.B.L.E. & Chicago Shakespeare Theater

A.B.L.E.’s Sunday ensemble clusters together for a silly group photo. This team will join forces with A.B.L.E.’s Monday ensemble to present The Odyssey. In total, 44 performers will take the stage on Saturday, May 11, 2024.


24 performers with Down syndrome 

and other intellectual and developmental disabilities 

re-imagine an epic classic for our modern times


Here at ChiIL Mama, we have several friends with Down syndrome who have been in productions with A.B.L.E.--Artists Breaking Limits & Expectations, for years. It's been a great experience for them, and their families are enthusiastic about the program. Come check out these creative kids who are absolutely ready and A.B.L.E. to bring you a re-imagining of the epic classic The Odyssey.

A.B.L.E., a Chicago-based nonprofit that creates theatre and film for, with, and by individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) partner up once again to ensuring everyone feels they have a space in the theatre. 

A.B.L.E.'s production weaves music, movement, shadow puppetry, and scenes devised by the group into a powerful and joyful celebration of the choices we make, and the challenges we face along our journey. The vibrant adaptation features a neurodiverse cast of 44 performers, including 24 actors with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The performance in the Courtyard Theater on May 11, 2024 at 2:00pm will mark the two companies’ 7th collaboration, most recently having co-produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream last spring.

Christian Boyd leans in close to the camera and raises his hands as if coming to grab the viewer. Christian will appear as one of the sirens. In A.B.L.E.’s version, these seductive songstresses will tempt Odysseus and crew with an original rap written by the cast. Photo by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux.


The theme of fate vs. agency is prevalent in Homer’s tale, and it’s one that co-directors Braden Cleary and Katie Yohe particularly wanted to highlight with the Ensembles. Currently, 24 actors with varying disabilities including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism take part in A.B.L.E.’s performance ensembles. “Folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities often have a lot of choices made for them, or it’s presumed that they are not capable of making their own choices,” says Yohe, also A.B.L.E.’s Executive Artistic Director. “Braden and I drafted a loose skeleton of the story but the script and production is really actor-led.” Each actor self-identified where their strengths lie as a performer, and were assigned to a chapter of the story based on their interests.

Actor Lucas Miezal holds a green sheet of paper as he shares ideas during a writing session. Actors developed original dialogue and movement pieces for their scenes. Photo by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux.

Over the course of a 10-week rehearsal process, actors collaborated with a team of volunteer facilitators to build the story. Facilitator Kara Davidson, a company member at Manual Cinema, helped actors design and build shadow puppets to bring to life monsters like the Cyclops and Scylla. Music Educator Polly Yukevich loaned the ensembles 15 ukuleles to bring musical magic to The Lotus Eaters and the seductive Sirens.

A.B.L.E. is committed to ensuring everyone feels they have a space in the theatre. The sensory-friendly performance will include numerous accessibility supports for audience members of all ages and ability levels. This includes dual ASL interpretation and open captioning. A.B.L.E. also reserves a designated movement zone for audience members who need to move around to help them focus. Audience members will receive a social story and sensory guide before the show to help audience members know what to expect from their trip to the theatre. “We hope we can set an example for our community of what true inclusion looks like both onstage and off.”


EVENT DETAILS

Saturday May 11, 2024 at 2:00pm

Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater

800 East Grand Avenue

Chicago, IL 60611

Co-director Katie Yohe introduces a jointed Cyclops shadow puppet to members of the ensemble. The Odyssey will feature shadow puppet monsters and settings with consultation from Manual Cinema company member, Kara Davidson. Photo by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux. 

Tickets: All tickets are Pay-what-you-can starting at $15, general admission

Online: ableensemble.com/events

Phone: 312.595.5600

In person: at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater Box Office

Access: Performances will be open captioned and dual ASL interpreted. Out of consideration for our immunocompromised community members, masks are required in the theater.

This production of The Odyssey is sponsored by Gail and Dennis Rossow. A.B.L.E.’s 2023-2024 Season is partially supported by grants from The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, FunFund, The Illinois Arts Council, Innovation 80, The Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts.


ABOUT A.B.L.E.

A.B.L.E.—Artists Breaking Limits & Expectations - is celebrating their 8th anniversary of creating theatre and film for, with, and by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A.B.L.E. engages actors ages 13 and up through ensembles and outreach programming. Whether in person or online, all A.B.L.E. programs strive to foster agency, and nurture lifelong skills like communication, collaboration, and creativity. A.B.L.E.'s ensembles have produced more than 25 projects for the stage and screen, ranging from adaptations of theatrical classics by Shakespeare, Dickens, and Gilbert & Sullivan, to original work, to innovative Zoom projects including Romeo & Juliet Remix. A.B.L.E.’s feature films have been recognized by several local and international festivals. By placing people with disabilities in the spotlight, A.B.L.E.’s work strives to shift societal preconceptions, and build more inclusive, empathetic communities. For more information about A.B.L.E., please visit www.ableensemble.com and find them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER

Regional Tony Award-recipient Chicago Shakespeare Theater produces a bold and innovative year-round season—plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside nationally recognized education programming serving tens of thousands of students, teachers, and lifelong learners each year. Founded in 1986, the Theater’s onstage work has expanded to as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually. Chicago Shakespeare is dedicated to welcoming the next generation of theatergoers; one in four of its audience members is under the age of eighteen. As a nonprofit organization, the Theater works to embrace diversity, prioritize inclusion, provide equitable opportunities, and offer an accessible experience for all. On the Theater’s three stages at its home on Navy Pier, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire. www.chicagoshakes.com.

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