Wednesday, July 18, 2018

SAVE THE DATES: Jackalope Theatre SEASON 11

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

We're coming at you in 2018/2019 with the fresh and exciting work you've come to expect from Jackalope Theatre. Don't miss a minute of it with our Season Pass. This year is going to blow you away.
Welcome to Jackalope's 11th Season.
See it. Believe it.

In The Canyon
by Calamity West
directed by Elly Green
In The Canyon is a new American saga by Calamity West spanning 2007 to 2067. In an exploration on the present attack on abortion, a time in which Roe v. Wade is overturned, this world-premiere imagines a broken society rapidly declining into a future world set in the rocks and walls of a canyon, where a story of resistance is birthed.
(World Premiere)
October 16 – November 24, 2018

Dutch Masters
by Greg Keller
directed by Wardell Julius Clark
New York City, 1992. Summer. In NYC's hazy pre-Giuliani, pre-cellphone, pre-Metrocard days, a black kid and a white kid meet in a chance encounter on an uptown D train. Over the course of one afternoon, fear, guilt, and longing allow one kid to take the other to a place neither even imagined possible. 
(Midwest Premiere)
February 25 – May 6, 2019

Life On Paper
by Kenneth Lin
directed by Jackalope Artistic Director, Gus Menary
After his proof for the Riemanm Hypothesis (one of the world's last great math puzzles) disastrously flames out, Mitch Bloom, a brilliant mathematician finds himself working as a consultant using complex algorithms to set the value of human lives in wrongful death cases. His knack for devaluing lives has made him the darling of the insurance companies, but what will he do when the wrongful death of a billionaire philanthropist crosses his desk, and the future of a small town hangs in the balance?
(World Premiere)
May 13 – June 22, 2019

In addition to the Mainstage Season at Broadway Armory Park, Jackalope will present a fully curated season of work in The Frontier, 1106 W Thorndale. Slated for The Frontier during the 2018/19 Season is a the Circle Up! Reading Series in collaboration with The Chicago Inclusion Project, the launch of Jackalope’s GroundWorks Series for new work, and The 10th Annual Living Newspapers Festival.

The 2018/19 Season Pass is available for purchase via, which gives patrons access to the Mainstage Season in Broadway Armory Park, discounted access to the lineup of programming in The Frontier, and invitations to opening nights and special events..

OPENING: Chicago Debut of Manual Cinema's The End of TV at Chopin Theatre

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Manual Cinema is self-presenting the Chicago debut of The End of TV for a three-week summer run July 19-August 5 at Chopin Theatre in Wicker Park.

 “The End of TV’s artistry is awesome. Its impact is profound, unique, indescribable.”
- Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant 

”a fascinating theatergoing experience blending live music, old TV video clips and shadow puppetry”
- E. Kyle Minor, New Haven Register 

“the audience gets to experience…a moment of live artistic creation, playing out on the stage in front of them, with little to hide and lots to show” 
- Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent 

Photo Credit for all: Judy Sirota Rosenthal

I'll be ChiILin' at Chi, IL's Chopin Theatre this Friday for the press opening of Manual Cinema's Chicago debut of The End of TV. We've reviewed many of Manual Cinema's productions over the years and love their quirky multimedia story telling style that combines live action and projection. We're eager to catch their latest. Check back soon for my full review.

The End of TV - an art pop song cycle with live visuals set in post-industrial Rust Belt America - melds vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design and a live music ensemble. 

Through its tale of two women who become unlikely friends as one approaches the end of her life, while the other is reinventing a new one, The End of TV becomes an unforgettable, multimedia, theatrical meditation on late 20th century advertising, TV culture and the pre-internet American imagination. 

Manual Cinema has announced a three-week summer run of The End of TV, July 19- August 5 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

A critical and box office hit when it debuted last summer at The International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT, Manual Cinema’s summer run at Chopin marks the Chicago premiere of The End of TV.

The End of TV has one preview, Thursday, July 19 at 7 p.m. Performances continue through August 5: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. Run time is 70 minutes. Tickets are $30; $20 for students and seniors. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at

Manual Cinema was founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller, and Kyle Vegter, all close collaborators on The End of TV. Manual Cinema has turned heads in Chicago ever since, combining handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive visual stories for stage and screen. Using vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and a live music ensemble, Manual Cinema transforms the experience of attending the cinema and imbues it with liveness, ingenuity, and theatricality.

Manual Cinema-The End of TV (Official Trailer) from Manual Cinema on Vimeo.

The End of TV premiered in June, 2017 at the The International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT, and was met with substantial critical acclaim: 

Set in a post-industrial Rust Belt city in the 1990s and told through a collection of original 70’s R&B-inspired art pop songs, The End of TV explores the quest to find meaning amongst the increasingly constant barrage of commercial images and advertising white-noise. Two sides of the American Dream — its technicolor promise as delivered through TV ads, and its failure, witnessed in the dark reality of industrial decline — are staged in cinematic shadow puppetry and lo-fi live video feeds with flat paper renderings of commercial products. The show is driven by a sweeping chamber art pop song cycle performed live by a seven-piece band.

The End of TV depicts the rise and fall of the American rust belt through the stories of Flo and Louise, both residents of a fictional Midwestern city. Flo is an elderly white woman, once a supervisor at the thriving local auto plant. Now succumbing to dementia, the memories of her life are tangled with television commercials and the “call now” demands of the QVC home shopping network. Louise, a young black woman laid off from her job when the same local auto plant closes, meets Flo when she takes a job as a Meals-on-Wheels driver. An unlikely relationship grows as Flo approaches the end of her life and Louise prepares for the invention of a new one. Their story is intercut with commercials and TV programs, the constant background of their environment.

The End of TV is a Manual Cinema production. Credits are: screenplay by Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman; direction and storyboards by Julia Miller; adapted for the screen by Lizi Breit, Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Julia Miller, Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter; music by Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter; sound design by Kyle Vegter; puppet design by Lizi Breit; associate puppet designer and storyboard artist Drew Dir; assistant director Sarah Fornace; costumes by Mieka van der Ploeg; lighting design by Claire Chrzan; lighting associate Shelbi Arndt; masks by Julia Miller; stage manager Shelby Glasgow; production manager Mike Usrey; puppet build interns Zofia Lu Ya Zhang and Kathryn Ann Shivak.

The cast is Kara Davidson (Flo/puppeteer), Aneisa Hicks (Louise/puppeteer), Jeffrey Paschal (ensemble/ puppeteer), Vanessa Valliere (ensemble/puppeteer), Shalynn Brown aka RED (drums), Maren Celest (vocals, live sound FX, live video mixing), Deidre Huckabay (flutes, vocals), Ben Kauffman (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Lia Kohl (cello, vocals), Marques Toliver (vocals, violin) and Kyle Vegter (bass).

The End of TV was co-commissioned by The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, CT, and made possible in part with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

More about Manual Cinema

“this Chicago troupe is conjuring phantasms to die for…”
-Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Manual Cinema was founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller, and Kyle Vegter. To date the company has created seven original feature length live cinematic shadow puppet shows (Lula Del Ray, ADA/ AVA, Mementos Mori, My Soul’s Shadow, The Magic City, No Blue Memories and The End of TV); a live cinematic contemporary dance show created for family audiences in collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance and the choreographer Robyn Mineko Williams (Mariko’s Magical Mix); an original site-specific installations (La Celestina); an original adaptation of Hansel & Gretel created for the Belgian Royal Opera; music videos for Sony Masterworks, Gabriel Kahane, three time GRAMMY Award-winning eighth blackbird, and New York Times Best Selling author Reif Larson; a live non-fiction piece for Pop-Up Magazine; a self-produced short film (CHICAGOLAND); a museum exhibit created in collaboration with the Chicago History Museum (The Secret Lives of Objects); a collection of cinematic shorts in collaboration with poet Zachary Schomburg and string quartet Chicago Q Ensemble (FJORDS); and live cinematic puppet adaptations of StoryCorps stories (Show & Tell).

Manual Cinema has been presented by, worked in collaboration with, or brought its work to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), Under the Radar Festival (NYC), The Tehran International Puppet Festival (Iran), La Monnaie-De Munt (Brussels), BAM (NYC), Underbelly (UK), Adelaide Festival (AU), The Kennedy Center (DC), The Kimmel Center (Philadelphia), the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Noorderzon Festival (Netherlands), The O, Miami Poetry Festival, Davies Symphony Hall (SF), The Ace Hotel Theater (LA), Handmade Worlds Puppet Festival (Minneapolis), The Screenwriters’ Colony in Nantucket, The Detroit Institute of Art, The Future of Storytelling Conference (NYC), the NYC Fringe Festival, The Poetry Foundation (Chicago), the Chicago International Music and Movies Festival, the Puppeteers of America: Puppet Festival (R)evolution, and elsewhere around the world.

Manual Cinema was ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago in the Theater and Performance Studies program in the fall of 2012, where they taught as adjunct faculty. In 2013 Manual Cinema held residencies and taught workshops at the School of the Art Institute (Chicago), The Future of Storytelling Conference (NYC), RCAH at Michigan State University, and Puppeteers of America: Puppet Festival (R)evolution (Swarthmore, PA), Southern Illinois University, and the Chicago Parks District. In Spring 2016 Manual Cinema held workshops at Yale University as visiting lecturers in the theater department.

In Fall 2016, they contributed visuals, music, and sound design for an immersive adaptation of Peter Pan with producer Randy Weiner (Sleep No More, The Donkey Show, Queen of the Night) which premiered in Beijing in December 2016. In February 2017, Manual Cinema premiered The Magic City, a new show for children and their families, adapted from a novel by Edith Nesbit, and the inaugural production at the new Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station. That was followed in September, 2017 by No Blue Memories, about the life and work of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, commissioned by the Poetry Foundation and based on a screenplay by Eve Ewing and Nathaniel Marshall, presented at the Harold Washington Library, and remounted last March in partnership with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and the Poetry Foundation. The company also debuted in Australia, France and Germany in 2017 and returned to the Edinburgh Fringe with Lula del Ray. 

Currently, Manual Cinema is touring its production ADA/AVA in Holland. Following its summer run of The End of TV, Manual Cinema will present its world premiere production of Frankenstein at Court Theatre in Hyde Park, November 1-December 2, 2018, as part of Court Theatre’s 2018-19 season. 

For more, visit, follow the company on Facebook at, on Instagram at on Twitter @ManualCinema.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:



Stage and screen (CBS’ Man with a Plan, Mike Hammer Series, Goodman Theatre’s King Lear) veteran Stacy Keach is Ernest Hemingway in Pamplona by Jim McGrath, directed by Robert Falls—now appearing in the Owen Theatre through August 19. Originally scheduled for spring 2017, Pamplona appeared for 11 preview performances, but never opened: Goodman Theatre canceled the run after Keach suffered a mild heart attack and doctors ordered recuperation. Pamplona marks Keach’s second exploration of the literary legend: he earned a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of Hemingway in the eponymous 1988 television mini-series. The creative team includes Kevin Depinet (set), Noël Huntzinger (costumes), Jesse Klug (Lights), Michael Roth (composer and soundscape), Adam Flemming (Projections) and Lauren V. Hickman is the Production Stage Manager. 

Pamplona appears through August 19 in the Owen Theatre. Tickets ($25-90, subject to change) are available at, by telephone, 312.443.3800, or in person at the Goodman Box Office (170 N. Dearborn).

In Pamplona, after the prize comes the pressure. Basking in the glory of career-defining awards—the 1953 Pulitzer Prize and the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954—legendary writer Ernest Hemingway insists his best work is yet to come. Five years later, holed up in a Spanish hotel with a looming deadline, he struggles to knock out a story about the rivalrous matadors of Pamplona. But his real battles lie outside the bullfighting arena; in declining health, consumed by his troubled fourth marriage and tormented by the specter of past glories, he must now conquer the deepening despair that threatens to engulf him.

Pamplona is generously sponsored by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation and The Peninsula Chicago is the Corporate Sponsor Partner. 


Tickets ($25-$90) –; 312.443.3800; Fax: 312.443.3825; TTY/TDD: 312.443.3829

Box Office Hours –12noon - 5pm; on performance days, the box office remains open until 30 minutes past curtain

Group Sales are available for parties 10+; 312.443.3820

MezzTix – Half-price day-of-performance mezzanine tickets available at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX) 
$10Tix – Student $10 advance tickets; limit four, with valid student ID (promo code 10TIX)
Teen Arts Pass (TAP) – $5 day-of-performance tickets for teens ages 13-19; subject to availability; limit two, with valid TAP identification. Sign up at (promo code TAP)

CityKey – CityKey Cardholders access half-price mezzanine tickets; limit four, with valid CityKey ID. Sign up at (promo code CITYKEY)

Gift Certificates – Available in any amount;


Open Captioned Performance, August 12 at 2pm – LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance 

ASL Interpreted Performance, August 15 at 7:30pm – Professional ASL interpreter signs the action/text as played 

Touch Tour, August 19 at 12:30pm – A presentation detailing the set, costume and character elements

Audio Described Performance, August 19 at 2pm – The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset

Visit Goodman for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.


Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) was born in Oak Park, IL, and got his start as a journalist writing for The Kansas City Star after attending Oak Park and River Forest High School. Shortly after, he joined the Red Cross during World War I, receiving the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery in 1918 for assisting soldiers, an experience that would inspire one of his most beloved works, A Farewell to Arms (1929). Following the war, he spent time in Paris, befriending the likes of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and published his first collection, Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923). Next came his first novel, The Sun Also Rises (1926), about a group of British and American expatriates traveling to Pamplona, Spain. Among his many other great works are the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Old Man and the Sea, For the Whom Bell Tolls (Pulitzer Prize nomination), Green Hills of Africa, Death in the Afternoon and To Have and Have Not. On assignment, Hemingway was also present for some of World War II’s most noted events, including the liberation of Paris, and received a Bronze Star for bravery for his coverage of the war. Following the war, he spent an extensive amount of time in Cuba and in 1954, shortly after publishing The Old Man and the Sea, received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Hemingway was married four times, often tumultuously, to Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gelhorn and Mary Welsh Hemingway. He had three sons, Jack, Patrick and Gregory. Troubled by financial issues, familial burdens and alcohol abuse, Hemingway took his own life in Idaho in 1961.

Stacy Keach (Ernest Hemingway) performed in top motion picture and television projects while continuing to add to his stage work, both classical and Broadway. His most recent motion picture, Gotti, starring John Travolta, is set to premiere in 2018. Other recent films include director Stephen Gaghan’s Gold, starring Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez and Bryce Dallas Howard; Truth, teamed with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford; and the film adaptation of the Stephen King novel Cell, also starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. Keach’s filmography also includes John Huston’s Fat City co-starring Jeff Bridges, Alexander Payne’s Academy Award-nominated Nebraska, If I Stay, The Bourne Supremacy, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, The Ninth Configuration,; The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Doc, Up In Smoke, American History, and the classic western The Long-Riders, which he produced with his brother James Keach. Keach recently finished filming the second season of the CBS award-winning comedy series Man With A Plan, alongside Matt LeBlanc and Kevin Nealon. He was one of the stars of the NBC comedy series Crowded, and he guest-starred on Showtime’s Ray Donovan, starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. He also guest-starred on Starz’s second season of Blunt Talk, starring Sir Patrick Stewart, and continues on a recurring role on CBS’ Blue Bloods, starring Tom Selleck. His prior television series credits include his title role performance in Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and Titus. He has been seen on many hit shows such as Two and a Half Men, Prison Break, NCIS: New Orleans and Hot In Cleveland. As a narrator, he has been heard in many documentaries and books on tape. He is also the narrator on CNBC’s American Greed. Keach is considered a pre-eminent American interpreter of Shakespeare, with his Shakespearean roles including Hamlet, Henry V, Coriolanus, Falstaff, Macbeth, Richard III and King Lear (at Goodman Theatre and Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., directed by Robert Falls). He also led the national touring company cast of Frost/Nixon, portraying Richard M. Nixon. Keach’s memoir, All in All: An Actor’s Life On and Off the Stage, was an initial recipient of the Prism Literary Award for work addressing overcoming addictive behavior. His performance honors include a Best Actor Golden Globe Award, three OBIE Awards, three Vernon Rice Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, three Helen Hayes Awards, the prestigious Millennium Recognition Award and the Will Award, and he has been nominated for Emmy and Tony Awards. In 2015, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. In 2016, Keach received a Hollywood Film Award for Best Ensemble in the film Gold. He also received the 2016 Best Narrator Award from the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences in the category of Crime and Thriller for his work on the Mike Hammer audio novels. Keach was a Fulbright scholar to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and attended the University of California at Berkeley and the Yale School of Drama. Keach has been married to his wife Malgosia for 31 years, and they have two children, son Shannon and daughter Karolina.

Jim McGrath’s first short play, Trail of the Westwoods Pewee, was presented at the West Bank Theatre in New York City in 1987. The next year saw the production of his first full-length play, Bob’s Guns, at the Director’s Company in New York. In 1992, New Jersey’s Passage Theatre produced his play Roebling Steel. In 1995, the Met Theatre in Los Angeles premiered The Ellis Jump, which won McGrath the Ovation Award for Best Writing of a World Premier Play. For television, he wrote detective stories for Simon & Simon, The Father Dowling Mysteries, Matlock, Mike Hammer and Over My Dead Body, as well as the children’s series Wishbone and Liberty Kids, science fiction series Quantum Leap, Codename Eternity and Dark Realm and the television films Elvis: The Early Years and Silver Bells (starring Anne Heche). He also co-wrote the screenplay for the feature film Kickboxer: Vengeance. In 2012, he produced and wrote the documentary Momo: The Sam Giancana Story, which won Best Documentary Awards at the Bel Air Film Festival and The Monaco International Film Festival. He has taught creative writing courses at Patton State Prison in San Bernardino, California State Home for Veterans in Los Angeles and The Center Theater in Chicago. He was trained as an artist leader with Imagination Workshop, by founders Margaret Ladd and Lyle Kessler in 1983, for which he worked with mentally ill and homeless clients for decades as a theater artist. In 2010, he became Executive Director of Imagination Workshop. McGrath is a native of Dallas, Texas. After graduating SMU, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary for two years before embarking on his playwriting career.

Robert Falls (Goodman Theatre Artistic Director) previously directed at the Goodman the world premiere of Rogelio Martinez’s Blind Date, the Chicago premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976, and partnered with Goodman Playwright-in-Residence Seth Bockley to direct their world premiere adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (Jeff Award for Best Adaptation). Falls will direct a new production of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (March 10 – April 15, 2018) at the Goodman, and also remount his Lyric Opera of Chicago production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the Dallas Opera (April 2018). Recent productions also include The Iceman Cometh for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale for the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, Measure for Measure and the world and off-Broadway premieres of Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian. Among his other credits are The Seagull, King Lear, Desire Under the Elms, John Logan’s Red, Jon Robin Baitz’s Three Hotels, Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio and Conor McPherson’s Shining City; the world premieres of Richard Nelson’s Frank’s Home, Arthur Miller’s Finishing the Picture, Eric Bogosian’s Griller, Steve Tesich’s The Speed of Darkness and On the Open Road, John Logan’s Riverview: A Melodrama with Music and Rebecca Gilman’s A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Blue Surge and Dollhouse; the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s House and Garden; and the Broadway premiere of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. Mr. Falls’ honors for directing include, among others, a Tony Award (Death of a Salesman), a Drama Desk Award (Long Day’s Journey into Night), an Obie Award (subUrbia), a Helen Hayes Award (King Lear) and multiple Jeff Awards (including a 2012 Jeff Award for The Iceman Cometh). For “outstanding contributions to theater,” Mr. Falls has been recognized with such prestigious honors as the Savva Morozov Diamond Award (Moscow Art Theatre), the O’Neill Medallion (Eugene O’Neill Society), the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award (Lawyers for the Creative Arts), the Illinois Arts Council Governor’s Award and induction into the Theater Hall of Fame.

About Goodman Theatre
AMERICA’S “BEST REGIONAL THEATRE” (Time magazine), Goodman Theatre is a premier not-for-profit organization distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics (celebrated revivals include Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh). Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, over 160 Jeff Awards and many more accolades. In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle” and its annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this season, has created a new generation of theatergoers. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production partner with local off-Loop theaters and national and international companies by providing financial support or physical space for a variety of artistic endeavors.

Committed to three core values of Quality, Diversity and Community, the Goodman proactively makes inclusion the fabric of the institution and develops education and community engagement programs that support arts as education. This practice uses the process of artistic creation to inspire and empower youth, lifelong learners and audiences to find and/or enhance their voices, stories and abilities. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of such programming, most offered free of charge, and has vastly expanded the theater’s ability to touch the lives of Chicagoland citizens (with 85% of youth participants coming from underserved communities) since its 2016 opening.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. David W. Fox, Jr. is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

OPENING: Murder for Two at Marriott Theatre Through August 26

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Murder for Two 

Directed by Scott Weinstein.
runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
The perfect blend of music, mayhem and murder!

Check out the hit musical comedy, Murder for Two, running July 3 through August 26 at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. Written by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, and featuring two powerhouse actors performing 13 roles and playing the piano throughout, Murder for Two is a modern twist on the classic whodunit, directed by Jeff Award winner Scott Weinstein (Drury Lane: Rock of Ages; Griffin: Ragtime, Violet; National Tour, Las Vegas and Chicago productions of Million Dollar Quartet; world premiere of Baristas at the New York International Fringe Festival), with Music Direction by Matt Deitchman (Marriott Theatre: She Loves Me, Shrek).

Officer Marcus Moscowicz is a small town policeman with dreams of making it to detective. One fateful night, shots ring out at the surprise birthday party of Great American Novelist Arthur Whitney and the writer is killed…fatally. With the nearest detective an hour away, Marcus jumps at the chance to prove his sleuthing skills—with the help of his silent partner, Lou. But whodunit? Did Dahlia Whitney, Arthur’s scene-stealing wife, give him a big finish? Is Barrette Lewis, the prima ballerina, the prime suspect? Did Dr. Griff, the overly-friendly psychiatrist, make a frenemy? Everyone is a suspect in Murder for Two, a hilarious musical murder mystery with a twist: One actor investigates the crime. The other plays all of the suspects. And they both play the piano! A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this fast and funny whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with killer laughs.

"This production provides a fantastic evening of murder mystery, zany comedy, and true virtuoso performances. There are only two performers that take on 13 roles throughout the entire 90 minutes," says Director Scott Weinstein. "They not only remain on stage for the entire show, but one or both of them are also playing the piano throughout. Whether you are a fan of comedy, mystery, or anything in between, this production will have you begging for more."

Murder for Two stars Noel Carey as "Marcus" (National Tour: Murder for Two; Theatre Under the Stars: Million Dollar Quartet), and Jason Grimm as "The Suspects" (Marriott Theatre: Singin' in the Rain, How to Succeed Without Really Trying), with standbys Matt Deitchman and Matt Edmonds. The production will feature set design by Scott Davis, lighting design by Jesse Klug, sound design by Robert E. Gilmartin, and musical supervision by Patti Garwood.

The performance schedule for Murder for Two is Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., with select Thursday 1:00 p.m. shows. Tickets now on sale through August 26, prices range from $50 to $60, including tax and handling fees. 

Call for student, senior and military discounts. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings there are a limited number of dinner-theatre packages available for purchase through the Marriott Theatre Box Office. To make a restaurant reservation, please call 847.634.0100. Free parking is available at all performances. 

To reserve tickets, please call The Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or go to Visit for more information.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

OPENING: Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Drury Lane Through August 26th

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Drury Lane Theatre announces casting for 
Tennessee Williams’ sultry family drama 
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Directed by Tony nominee Marcia Milgrom Dodge
Featuring Genevieve Angelson, Anthony Bowden,
Matt DeCaro, and Cindy Gold

July 5 – August 26, 2018

*Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is recommended for ages 13+. Please be advised that there are adult themes and brief strong language.*

I'll be ChiILin' at Drury Lane for the press opening July 12th. Check back shortly after for our full review. It's been a Tennessee season in Chi, IL. In the past few months I've caught Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer, and The Gentleman Caller, in which Williams is a main character. I'm eager to see Drury Lane's take on his infamous classic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Drury Lane Theatre announces casting for its sultry summer drama, Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Tony nominee Marcia Milgrom Dodge (2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime, Drury Lane’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe). Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs July 5 – August 26, 2018, at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. 

The cast of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is led by Genevieve Angelson (Maggie), who appeared as Nina in the 2013 Tony-nominated production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Angelson is also known for roles on Showtime’s House of Lies and Amazon’s original series Good Girls Revolt. The production also features Anthony Bowden as Brick and Matt DeCaro as Big Daddy. The role of Big Mama will be played by Cindy Gold (July 5-August 12) and Janet Ulrich Brooks (August 15-26). Rounding out the cast of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are Michael Milligan (Gooper), Gail Rastorfer (Mae), Craig Spidle (Reverend Tooker), Joe Bianco (Doctor Baugh), Donica Lynn (Sookey), and Reginald Robinson Jr. (Lacey). 

In the heat of the South under the gaze of patriarch Big Daddy, the expectations of marriage and family spoil. A birthday party brings a family's skeletons to the surface as each one fights over the bones. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is well known for the 1958 film adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and Burl Ives which received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

In addition to Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge, the creative team includes: Kevin Depinet (Scenic Designer), Sully Ratke (Costume Designer), Driscoll Otto (Lighting and Projection Designer), Ray Nardelli (Sound Designer), Cassy Schillo (Properties Designer), Claire Moores (Wig and Hair Designer), and Sammi Grant (Dialect Coach). The Production Stage Manager is Larry Baker.

Marcia Milgrom Dodge (Director) is a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominated theatre director and choreographer. For Drury Lane Theatre, she directed and choreographed the Jeff Award winning revue Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Her work has been seen throughout the United States and in Canada, England, Asia, Denmark, and the Middle East; in theatres on Broadway and Off-Broadway; at acclaimed regional theatres such as the New York City Opera, John F. Kennedy Center of The Performing Arts, Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company, Glimmerglass Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cleveland Play House, Huntington  Theatre, Bay Street Theatre, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Goodspeed Musicals, and Music Circus; and abroad at the Nanta Theatre (Seoul, S. Korea), Fredericia Teater (Denmark), Royal Opera House (Muskat, Oman), and Wintergardens Theatre (Blackpool, England). Dodge’s work has won the Joseph Jefferson, Helen Hayes, Carbonell, Los Angeles Drama Critics, Backstage Garland, Dora Mavor, New York Outer Critics Circle, and Daytime Emmy Awards, and she has been nominated for the Tony, Drama Desk, Astaire, Drama League, Barrymore, and Edgar Awards. She has directed and choreographed classic plays, operas, and musicals by Aaron Copeland, Bock & Harnick, Cole Porter, Comden & Green, Frank Loesser, Jerry Herman, Joe Masteroff, Jule Styne, Kander & Ebb, Leonard Bernstein, Lerner & Lowe, Meredith Willson, Noel Coward, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Tennessee Williams, in addition to contemporary works by Andrew Lippa & Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, Ahrens & Flaherty, Anthony Dodge, Beth Henley, Brian Friel, Donald Margulies, Duncan Sheik & Nell Benjamin, Eric Overmeyer, Jeffrey Haddow & Neal Hampton, Jeffrey Hatcher, Joe Raposo, John Logan, Julie Andrews & Ian Fraser & John Bucchino, Ken Ludwig, Larry Gatlin, Lou Rosen & Thom Bishop, Maltby & Shire, Mark Brown, Marsha Norman & Lucy Simon, Polly Pen, Rachel Sheinkin, Rupert Holmes, Simon Stephens, Stephen Schwartz, Terrence McNally, The Red Clay Ramblers, and William Finn. She is a teacher, a wife, a mother, a proud executive board member of the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, and a published and produced playwright. 

GENEVIEVE ANGELSON (Maggie) is quickly rising within in the ranks of Hollywood’s most exciting young, leading actresses. Her dynamic energy and emotional strength allow her to shine, and in 2016, she was named The Hollywood Reporter’s “Next Big Thing” and one of Variety’s “10 TV Stars to Watch.” Genevieve just wrapped the Pop TV series Flack, opposite Anna Paquin, and prior to that starred as the lead of Amazon’s hit drama Good Girls Revolt. Angelson has also starred opposite Rainn Wilson in the FOX crime comedy-drama series Backstorm as a young and idealist detective. Prior to that, she had a nine-episode arc in season three of the Showtime comedy House Of Lies, alongside Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell. Her previous television credits include guest appearances on Instinct and The Good Wife. In film, she will soon be seen in The Upside opposite Bryan Cranston. Angelson made a splashy Broadway debut as the endearingly innocent “Nina” in Christopher Durang’s Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike, opposite Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce. The play received numerous accolades, receiving six Tony Award nominations and winning Best Play at the 67th Tony Awards, Outstanding Play at the 58th Drama Desk Awards, and Best Play at the 2013 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. Angelson currently splits her time between Los Angeles and New York.
ANTHONY BOWDEN (Brick) has appeared Off Broadway and Regionally with Panther Creek, Signature Theatre, Long Wharf, Northern Stage, Exit, Pursued By A Bear, and The Educational Theatre of New York. He’s a founding member of ARTes, an arts education outreach program that works in El Salvador. Anthony is entering his final year at Juilliard.

MATT DECARO (Big Daddy) has been seen most recently at The Asolo Repertory Theater as LBJ in The Great Society, as Oscar Hubbard in The Little Foxes, and Gene in Frank Galati’s Rhinoceros. He appeared last season at Timeline Theatre in The Audience as Winston Churchill and Harold Wilson. Though a Chicagoan, Matt has been fortunate to play in theaters across the country including Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theatre Club, Goodman Theatre, The Guthrie Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, The Old Globe Theatre, and San Francisco's A.C.T. and internationally in Dublin, Toronto, and China. Some favorite roles include the Judge in David Mamet's Romance, Dave Moss in Glengarry Glen Ross, Boss Mangan in Heartbreak House, Boolie in Driving Miss Daisy, and Fa Hai in Mary Zimmerman's The White Snake. His TV and film credits include The Wise Kids, Eagle Eye, House, and The Office, among many others.

CINDY GOLD (Big Mama) returns to Drury Lane after playing Helga ten Dorp in 2016’s Deathtrap. She recently appeared with Chicago Shakespeare in the all-female Taming of the Shrew, directed by Barbara Gaines. She played Gertrude Stein in Frank Galati and Stephen Flaherty's Loving Repeating for which she won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actress in a musical. Chicago area performances include: In the Garden at Lookingglass, directed by Jessica Thebus; About Face Theatre’s A Kid Like Jake, directed by Keirra Fromm; My Fair Lady at Lyric Opera, directed by Robert Carsen; Measure for Measure at The Goodman, directed by Robert Falls; and Awake and Sing at Northlight, directed by Amy Morton. Cindy performed in Showboat at The Lyric Opera, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. National Opera at the Kennedy Center, directed by Francesca Zambello, as well as The Daughter of the Regiment (where she shared a role with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg!) at the Kennedy Center in D.C. Other Chicago credits include: Love, Loss and What I Wore at Broadway in Chicago, Pride and Prejudice and Jekyll and Hyde at Northlight, and Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations workshop/About Face and Tectonic Theatre. Cindy appeared in The Music Man at Glimmerglass Opera Company, both in New York and at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman. She was recently seen in the television dramas Empire, Chicago Fire, and the pilot episode of TNT's Leverage. Cindy will be seen in the fall at Victory Gardens in Indecent, directed by Gary Griffin. She is a Professor of Acting at Northwestern University Department of Theatre (former Head of Acting) and the Head of the Acting for Screen Module.

MICHAEL MILLIGAN (Gooper) has appeared at the Goodman Theater in Blind Date; Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Othello (Iago) and Tug of War; Greenhouse Theater in The American Mercy Tour; and American Theater Company in Mercy Strain. His Broadway credits include August: Osage County, La Bete, and Jerusalem. He appeared Off Broadway in Thom Pain, The Golem, and Mercy Killers. Michael has performed at the RSC, Shakespeare Theater, Guthrie Theater, McCarter Theater, Westport Country Playhouse, St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, and many more. His TV credits are Law and Order, Person of Interest, The Knick, Chicago Justice, and APB. He trained at Juilliard (John Houseman Prize recipient). 

GAIL RASTORFER (Mae) has appeared regionally in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Indiana Rep and Syracuse Stage); The Heidi Chronicles and The Game’s Afoot (Asolo Rep); Ten Chimneys and In the Next Room (Cleveland Playhouse); Noises Off (Clarence Brown Theatre); The Mousetrap (Maltz Jupiter Theatre); and Women in Jeopardy (Merrimack Rep). In Chicago, she has appeared at Chicago Shakespeare, Northlight, First Folio, Chicago Dramatists, The Goodman, American Blues, and The Unfortunates (SoloChicago, Jeff nomination for solo performance). TV credits include Chicago Fire, Crisis, Boss, Chicago Code, and dozens of national commercials. 

Dates:Previews: July 5 – 12, 2018
Regular run: July 13, 2018 – August 26, 2018 
Press Opening: Thursday, July 12 at 8:00 p.m.

Wednesdays: 1:30 p.m.
Thursdays: 1:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Fridays: 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 5:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. 
Sundays: 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Location: Drury Lane Theatre at 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace

Tickets: Previews: $38 - $53
Single Tickets: $43 - $58
Wednesday and Thursday matinees: $43
Thursday and Sunday evenings: $53
Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees: $58
Student group tickets start at $30.
Senior Citizens start at $38 for matinees.
Dinner and show packages available.

Box Office:
100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace
630.530.0111, Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000
or visit

2018/2019 Season and Subscription Information
The 2018/2019 season will open with the Tony Award-winning Rodgers & Hammerstein landmark musical South Pacific (April 5 – June 17, 2018). The season continues with Tennessee Williams’ sultry family drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (July 5 – August 26, 2018) followed by the darkly comedic musical Little Shop of Horrors (September 6 – October 28, 2018). For the holiday season, Drury Lane brings to life the treasured story of Belle with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (November 9, 2018 – January 27, 2019) and then closes its 18/19 season with the global smash-hit Mamma Mia! featuring the music of ABBA (February 7 – April 14, 2019). The 2018/2019 season runs April 5, 2018, through April 14, 2019, at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace.

Subscriptions for the 2018/2019 Season are priced from $157 to $187 and are currently on sale. Subscribers receive special offers on dining, flexible ticket exchanges, and early notification and priority seating for added events and concerts. For more information, visit

The performance schedule for all productions is as follows: Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m., Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Student group tickets start as low as $30 and Senior Citizens start at $40 for matinees. Dinner and show packages are also available. For individual ticket on-sale dates and ticket reservations, call the Drury Lane Theatre box office at 630.530.0111 or TicketMaster at 800.745.3000 or visit

About Drury Lane Theatre 
Under the leadership of President Kyle DeSantis and Artistic Director William Osetek, Drury Lane Theatre is a major force in the Chicagoland theatre scene, presenting world-class productions in collaboration with some of the nation’s leading actors, artists, writers, and directors. Over the past 30 years, Drury Lane has staged more than 2,000 productions and has been nominated for more than 360 Joseph Jefferson Awards. Drury Lane is committed to breathing new life into beloved classics and introducing audiences to exciting new works. 

Throughout its 30-year history, Drury Lane has employed more than 7,500 actors and 10,000 musicians, designers, and crew members to entertain upwards of nine million audience members. Originally founded by Anthony DeSantis, Drury Lane Theatre remains a family-run organization known for producing breathtaking Broadway classics, top-rated musicals, bold new works, hilarious comedies, and unforgettable concert events.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

OPENING: US Premiere of “DON’T SMOKE IN BED” Via Chimera Ensemble at Collaboraction Studios June 15 - July 8, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Chimera Ensemble’s
US Premiere of
Created by 
Aurin Squire
Directed by Chika Ike

 “Eye-opening and troubling, DON’T SMOKE IN BED will force audiences to re-evaluate their understanding of modern society.” – Michelle Keepence, THE UPCCOMING

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we're eager to catch the US premiere. Chimera Ensemble is a favorite of ours, as is Chicago's own Chika Ike, directing. I'll be out for the press opening June 16th, so check back soon for my full review. 

Chimera Ensemble's US Premiere of DON’T SMOKE IN BED, written by award-winning playwright Aurin Squire, and directed by acclaimed director Chika Ike, will open to the press on Saturday, June 16. Kai A. Ealy, who earlier this year appeared in MARY STUART at Chicago Shakespeare and FRANKLINLAND for Jackalope Theatre company; and ensemble member Nicole Fabbri, seen in Chimera’s SISTER CITIES, will play an interracial couple being interviewed about their marriage by an unseen journalist via webcam. Director Ike comes to the project from her recent sellout hit DONTRELL, WHO KISSED THE SEA, by Nathan Alan Davis, produced by First Floor Theater. Ike’s other recent directing credits include Janine Nabers’s A SWELL IN THE GROUND (The Gift Theatre) and Lloyd Suh’s FRANKLINLAND (Jackalope Theatre Company).

Kai A. Ealy (left) and Nicole Fabbri

Ike’s production team includes Milo Bue (Scenic Designer), Stefanie Johnsen (Costume Designer), David Goodman-Edberg (Lighting Designer), Stephanie Slaven-Ruffing (Sound Designer), Warren Wernick (Properties Designer), Gaby Labotka (Intimacy Designer), Jake Engram (Technical Director), Jaime Gutfeldt (Production Manager), Devonte E. Washington (Stage Manager).

The production will go up June 15 - July 8 in The Pentagon Theater at Collaboraction Studios in The Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL 60622. There will be one preview on Friday, June 15 at 7:30 pm. Opening night, followed by a reception, will be Saturday, June 16 at 7:30 pm. 

DON’T SMOKE IN BED tells the story of Jamaican-American Richard (Ealy), and Irish-American Sheryl (Fabbri). As the couple open up about their relationship, inner demons are revealed and their effort to start a family together is complicated. DON'T SMOKE IN BED presents a rich, insightful exploration of how society's expectations influence what goes on behind closed doors. The play, which had its World Premiere in London in 2016, contains “intelligent, self-aware dialogue” and has been called “honest and raw” with “each scene more passionate than the last” (Annabel Mellor, THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE GUIDE AND GURU and Michelle Keepence, THE UPCOMING).

Aurin Squire (Playwright) is a Brooklyn-based playwright and journalist whose work has been called “refreshingly clever” by THE NEW YORK TIMES. He is a 2015 graduate of The Julliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program, and took part in the Royal Court Theatre’s US Writer Programme, as well as the Dramatists Guild Fellowship. His plays include A FAMILY MANUAL FOR KWANZAA (The Kennedy Center MFA Workshop) THE GREAT BLACK SAMBO MACHINE (Lincoln Centre Lab and Ars Nova), DEFACING MICHAEL JACKSON (Nuyorican Poets Café workshop and winner of Lincoln Center’s Act One Prize), TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN (Abingdon Theatre and ArcLight Theatre productions), and AFRICAN AMERICANA (Brooklyn Arts Exchange and Theatre 503).

Chika Ike (Director) is a Chicago-based director who comes to DON’T SMOKE IN BED fresh from a sold-out run of DONTRELL, WHO KISSED THE SEA, by Nathan Alan Davis, produced by First Floor Theater. Other recent directing credits include Janine Nabers’s A SWELL IN THE GROUND (The Gift Theatre) and Lloyd Suh’s FRANKLINLAND (Jackalope Theatre Company). She has also worked with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Victory Gardens, The Gift Theatre Company, American Blues Theatre Company, Eclipse Theatre, and Prologue Theatre Company. Chika is an ensemble member at The Gift Theatre Company and has received the SDCF Gielgud Directing Fellowship and the Bret C. Harte Directing Fellowship at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Chika is also a member of the 2017-18 SDCF Observership class, and a member of the Victory Gardens Directors Inclusion Initiative. 

Pay-What-You-Can Preview: Friday, June 15 at 7:30pm
Industry Night: Monday, July 2 at 7:30pm.

Ticket Pricing: $23 general admission, $15 senior, $15 student/industry with valid ID (discounts subject to availability)

Tickets may be purchased HERE.

Click Here For Additional Information 

To create a quality innovative theatrical platform. To give back to Chicago organizations that advocate for the betterment of our community. To provide accessibility for all people. Above all, we seek out the good; we question our fears and judgments so that others may question theirs.

Access is an important part of our mission at Chimera Ensemble. Through discussions within the Ensemble and with Chimera’s amazing collaborators in the Chicago community, we attempt to create an environment in which performers, directors, designers, playwrights, and audience members feel welcome to work with us and experience our productions. Season Two marks a new chapter in our mission of access, as every performance will feature Open Captioning, rather than the norm of this programming only being offered for one performance during a production's run. By providing Open Captioning for every performance, Chimera hopes to create not only a more cohesive and inclusive theatrical process that better reflects the varied ways in which individuals experience the world, but also a model for other theater companies to follow. DON’T SMOKE IN BED will also feature one Audio Described performance proceeded by a Touch Tour, date TBD. 

Part of Chimera Ensemble’s mission as a theatrical platform is to give back to the community, so for each show we produce we partner with a local organization whose work matches the themes of the production. We collect money and raise awareness for our partner organization. Please stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on Chimera’s partner organization for DON’T SMOKE IN BED.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Biggest Winner at 2018 Non-Equity Jeff Awards Is Gender Parity

Recipients of the 45th Annual
Non–Equity Jeff Awards Announced

It was my great pleasure to cover the 45th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards on Monday night for ChiIL Live Shows. People watching was prime and so many excellent productions were recognized. 2018 was a banner year, with a move from plaques to trophies, the vivacious and hilarious Veronica Garza hosting, all female awards presentersand excellent entertainment on stage. 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, an impassioned speech ushering in the advent of "Performer" Jeff Awards versus Actor & Actress, by Dani Shay, of The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier, topped our list to love. It may seem like a small thing, but labels limit, and for trans performers, the gender fluid, and those who don't fit neatly into prescribed categories, this is a watershed moment. Kudos to the Jeff Awards for this equitable, forward thinking choice on semantics. 

I was thrilled to be seated by Jay Paul Deratany, Joe Stevens, and Keaton Wooden who won Best New Musical “The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier”– Permoveo Productions i/a/w Pride Films and Plays. It was certainly one of my favorites this year. The writing, acting, score and content were all outstanding. It was a victory on many levels to see them win. I was also elated to see Strawdog honored and many favorites I reviewed over the past year 

Here are all the winners:

The Jeff Awards announced recipients of the 45th Annual Non–Equity Jeff Awards on Monday, June 11, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Top honors were awarded to Steep Theatre Company’s Lela & Co. and Griffin Theatre Company’s Ragtime. 

Steep Theatre Company’s Lela & Co. 

Griffin Theatre Company’s Ragtime

Other productions receiving multiple awards included Theo
Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and
Interrobang Theatre Project’s Foxfinder. Strawdog Theatre Company received a
Special Award for “30 years of collaboration as an innovative and provocative


Between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, there were 136 eligible Non–Equity
productions considered for Jeff Recommendation. Of those, 63 productions (or 46%) were recommended, including 15 world premieres. There were 45 productions that received at least one nomination, which represents the work of 32 theatre companies.

Credit for all photos goes to Joe Mazza & Brave Lux

“Ragtime” – Griffin Theatre Company

“Ragtime” – Griffin Theatre Company

“Lela & Co.” – Steep Theatre Company

Scott Weinstein – “Ragtime” – Griffin Theatre Company

Robin Witt – “Lela & Co.” – Steep Theatre Company

Jacquelyne Jones (Mrs. Lovett) – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”– Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Philip Torre (Sweeney Todd) – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”– Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Cruz Gonzalez–Cadel (Lela) – “ Lela & Co.” – Steep Theatre Company
Michael B. Woods (Cyrano) – “Cyrano” – BoHo Theatre

Katherine Thomas (Sarah) – “Ragtime” – Griffin Theatre Company
Missy Wise (Blanche) – “Bonnie & Clyde” – Kokandy Productions

Owais Ahmed (Bashir) – “The Invisible Hand” – Steep Theatre Company
Stella Martin (Sherry) – “Nice Girl” – Raven Theatre Company

Jay Paul Deratany, Joe Stevens, and Keaton Wooden – “The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier”– Permoveo Productions i/a/w Pride Films and Plays

Loy A. Webb – “The Light” – The New Colony

MUSIC DIRECTIONJeremy Ramey – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”– Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Jenna Schoppe – “Yank! A World War II Love Story” – Pride Films and Plays

Kyle Encinas – “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” – Red Theater Chicago

Jesse Case – “Foxfinder” – Interrobang Theatre Project

Justin Glombicki – “In the Soundless Awe” – Saltbox Theatre Collective

Beth Laske–Miller – “Shockheaded Peter” – Black Button Eyes Productions

James Kolditz – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
– Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Eric Luchen – “Foxfinder” – Interrobang Theatre Project


The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 55 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre (including producers, directors, actors, playwrights, designers, professors of theatre, entertainment lawyers and agents, and theatre lovers), the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors. Opening night judges include not only the members but also Artistic & Technical theatre volunteers (the “A/T Team”), including Artistic Directors, producers, directors and artists from Chicago theatres. The Jeff Awards fosters the artistic growth of area theatres and theatre artists and promotes educational opportunities, audience appreciation, and civic pride in the achievements of the theatre community. Each year, the Jeff Awards judges over 300 theatrical  productions and host two awards ceremonies. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non–Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non–union theatre. 

The next Equity Awards will be held on Monday, October 22, 2018, at Drury Lane Oakbrook.

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