Tuesday, February 21, 2017

OPENING: Uncle Vanya at Goodman Now Extended Through March 19th

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:




Here at ChiIL Live Shows we've long been fans of Chekhov's writing and Robert Falls' directing. This is sure to be a stellar match up of talents. We're looking forward to this one and will be out to review at the press opening. Check back soon for our full review.

Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls, “Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), marks his 30th anniversary season with the Chicago premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker’s (The Flick) adaptation of Uncle Vanya. Taken from a literal translation by Margarita Shalina and the original Russian text, Baker’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s intimate play about relationships, love and loss, has been hailed as “easygoing, free of the stilted or formal locutions that clutter up some of the more antique-sounding translations” (The New York Times) with “fresh pockets of rawness and disorientation in the classic” (Time Out New York). Falls returns to Chekhov following his critically-acclaimed productions of The Seagull (2010) and Three Sisters (1994). 

Uncle Vanya appears through March 19 in the Owen Theatre. Tickets ($20-$59; subject to change) are available at, the box office (170 North Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800.

Uncle Vanya is Chekhov’s first mature play—and as such, his most radical. It’s essentially about life, whether you’re 27, 47, 60 or 80. Time is going by, and you naturally start to examine your life and how you’re living it, or have lived it. For many years, I had a hard time connecting to it. But I re-read it last year, and suddenly it demanded to be done,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “Chekhov was really the creator of modern drama. To an enormous extent, everything that we are as contemporary theater artists comes from him and his very complex collaboration with [Konstantin] Stanislavsky.”

In Uncle Vanya, tensions are high at the remote estate of an elderly professor, where resentments flow as freely as the vodka. As the professor’s health fails, his extended family is forced to confront their disturbing futures, while still foundering in their disconcerting pasts. As previously announced, Falls’ all-star cast includes Kristen Bush (Yelena), Marton Csokas (Astrov), David Darlow (Serebryakov), Marilyn Dodds Frank (Maria), Tim Hopper (Vanya), Caroline Neff (Sonya), Larry Neumann, Jr. (Telegin), Alžan Pelesić (Yefim) and Mary Ann Thebus (Marina).

Falls frequent collaborators bring life to Chekhov’s famed classic including: Todd Rosenthal (Set), Ana Kuzmanic (Costumes), Keith Parham (Lighting) and Richard Woodbury (Sound). 

Baker’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya first premiered in 2012 Off-Broadway at the Soho Repertory Theatre. Baker, who is not fluent in Russian, noted that she wanted to “create a version that sounds to our contemporary American ears the way the play sounded to Russian ears during the play’s first productions.” 


Thursday, March 16 at 7:30pm 
Friday, March 17 at 8pm 
Saturday, March 18 at 2pm and 8pm 
Sunday, March 19 at 2pm and 7:30pm (closing performance) 

Tickets ($20-$59); 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
MezzTix – Half-price day-of-performance mezzanine tickets available at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX)
$10Tix – Student $10 day-of-performance tickets; limit four, with valid student ID (promo code 10TIX)
Group Sales – Discounted tickets for parties of 10+; 312.443.3820
Gift Certificates – Available in any amount;


Touch-Tour, March 5 at 12:30pm – A presentation detailing the set, costume and character elements
Audio-Described PerformanceMarch 5 at 2pm – The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset.
Sign-Interpreted Performance, March 11 at 2pm – Professional ASL interpreter signs the action/text as played. 
Open-Captioned PerformanceMarch 12 at 2pm – An LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance.
Goodman for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.

About the Artists 
Robert Falls is celebrating 30 years as Goodman Theatre Artistic Director this season. Last season, he directed Rebecca Gilman’s Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976 and co-adapted/directed the world premiere of his critically acclaimed production of 2666, based on Roberto Bolaño’s internationally celebrated novel.  Previous credits include the critically acclaimed production of The Iceman Cometh at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Gilman’s Luna Gale at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles; and a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Other recent productions include Measure for Measure and the world premiere of Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian. Among his other credits are The SeagullKing LearDesire 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 (his last play), 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 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 production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. 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,” Falls has also 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) and the Illinois Arts Council Governor’s Award.

Annie Baker grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her full-length plays include John (Signature Theatre), The Flick (Playwrights Horizons, Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Hull-Warriner Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Obie Award for Playwriting), Circle Mirror Transformation (Playwrights Horizons, Obie Award for Best New American Play, Drama Desk Award nomination for Best New American Play),The Aliens (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Obie Award for Best New American Play), Body Awareness (Atlantic Theater Company, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for Best Play/Emerging Playwright) and an adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (Soho Rep, Drama Desk nomination for Best Revival), for which she also designed the costumes. Her plays have been produced at over 150 theaters throughout the U.S. and have been produced internationally in over a dozen countries. Other recent honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, Steinberg Playwriting Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award and the Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. She is a resident playwright at the Signature Theatre.

About Goodman Theatre 
America’s “Best Regional Theatre” (Time magazine) and “Chicago’s flagship resident stage” (Chicago Tribune), Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit organization distinguished by the quality and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Founded in 1925, the Goodman is led by Robert Falls—“Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), who marks 30 years as Artistic Director this season—and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who is celebrated for his vision and leadership over nearly four decades. Dedicated to new plays, reimagined classics and large-scale musical theater works, Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned hundreds of awards for artistic excellence, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, nearly 160 Jeff Awards and more. Over the past three decades, audiences have experienced more than 150 world or American premieres, 30 major musical productions, as well as nationally and internationally celebrated productions of classic works (including Falls’ productions of Death of a SalesmanLong Day’s Journey into NightKing Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy). In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” For nearly four decades, the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has created a new generation of theatergoers. 

The 2016 opening of the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (“the Alice”) launched the next phase in the Goodman’s decades-long commitment as an arts and community organization dedicated to educating Chicago youth and promoting lifelong learning. Programs are offered year-round and free of charge. Eighty-five percent of the Goodman’s youth program participants come from underserved communities. 

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 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. Joan Clifford 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. 

Visit the Goodman virtually at—including OnStage+ for insider information—and on Twitter (@GoodmanTheatre), Facebook and Instagram

Thodos Dance's Timeless Motion Saturday February 25th

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Timeless Motion

Saturday, February 25, 7:30 p.m.
at the 
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie
9501 N. Skokie Blvd.


With the announcement of a new chapter for Thodos Dance Chicago 
after the conclusion of this season,Timeless Motion will be TDC's final performance at the North Shore Center as an ensemble-based company. 

Program highlights include the world premieres of 
Changing Strangers by Melissa Thodos 
boasting her singular fluid, kinetic style, and Acid Reign 
in which TDC guest choreographer Brian Enos answers the question 
"what might a celebration look like on another planet in the future?" 


Near Light by Melissa Thodos 

Timeless Motion program, February 25, 2017 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. 
Photo credit: Cheryl Mann.

Thodos Dance Chicago makes its annual return to Skokie's North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie with a fun, fresh and electrifying concert titled Timeless Motion, Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Highlights of this unique program include the world premieres of Changing Strangers by Melissa Thodos boasting her singular fluid, kinetic style, and Acid Reign in which TDC guest choreographer Brian Enos answers the question "what might a celebration look like on another planet in the future?" 

Also on TDC's Timeless Motion program are Near Light, a very personal 2015 work by Melissa Thodos with glistening lighting and daunting lifts that combine for a memorable story of healing and support. 

Sunrise by Shannon Alvis

North Shore Thodos fans can also look forward to three more works that have emerged from the company's New Dances in-house choreography series: Flawed, a lovely 2014 duet by TDC ensemble member John Cartwright, and two works that premiered at New Dances 2016, now making their official debut in Skokie as part of Thodos Dance Chicago's repertoire, Uncovering by Thodos ensemble member Briana Robinson, and Sunrise by guest choreographer Shannon Alvis.

Timeless Motion will be performed at theNorth Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Center Theatre; located at 9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, Illinois. 

Flawed by John Cartwright and Uncovering by Briana Robinson. 

Also on tap for Thodos Dance Chicago in 2017

In addition to Timeless Motion at North Shore Center, Thodos Dance Chicago will celebrate its 25th Anniversary Season Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at Chicago's majestic Auditorium Theatre. 

The program, titled FULL CIRCLE, promises an exhilarating evening of dance celebrating a quarter century of the company's innovation and artistry. Highlights include the Chicago premiere of Nos Duraturi, a compelling and dramatic commentary on mankind's ability to endure by the legendary Bella Lewitzky, "the Grand Dame of West Coast modern dance" as part of the company's American Dance Legacy Project. 

The program will also boast Acid Reign by Brian Enos, a triumphant world premiere signature work by Melissa Thodos that will complete a trilogy by Thodos when paired with two signature works from the company's near and distant past. Note: this will be the only time this trilogy will be performed, ever. Single tickets are $29-$68. Purchase HERE or call (312) 341-2300 or buy in-person at Auditorium Theatre's Box Office, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago.

A gala is also on tap to celebrate the company's 25 years as an integral part of Chicago's dance community, with Broadway legend and frequent Thodos collaborator Ann Reinking as Honorary Chair. 

On Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 6 p.m., hundreds of TDC friends and supporters will gather at the Chicago History Museum for the Thodos Dance Chicago FULL CIRCLE Silver Anniversary Gala. Tickets are $300; $2,500 for a table of 10. Purchase tickets HERE or call (312) 266-6255.

Proceeds will support Thodos Dance Chicago's popular New Dances in-house choreography series, building Chicago's future choreographers and new works. Always a highlight of Chicago's summer dance scene, New Dances 2017 will showcase the company's dancer's own, self-created works, Saturday and Sunday, July 15 and 16 at Chicago's Athenaeum Theatre.

About Thodos Dance Chicago

Twenty five years ago, in 1992, Melissa Thodos, a young Evanston-born, Chicago-based dancer and choreographer, was frustrated with the lack of opportunities for dancers to work in what in her mind was the obvious environment for a well-rounded dance professional: A place to perform. A place to create. And a place to educate.

Fast-forward 25 years, and Thodos is the only Chicago-based female choreographer and director to have helmed her own mid-sized, contemporary dance company with this unique mission for a quarter century. 

True to her original idea, Thodos Dance Chicago has been performing, creating and teaching dance in Chicago, across the country in 27 states, and around the world on six continents ever since. The company's unique mission of inspiring expression through dance education, dance creation and dance performance has established Thodos Dance Chicago as an innovative, internationally known presence in American contemporary dance.

Today, Thodos Dance Chicago (TDC) is an ensemble of 14 versatile dance artists with a captivating style that uses a variety of dance forms. In addition to performing works by Melissa Thodos, TDC performs works created by guest and other renowned choreographers. Notably, Melissa Thodos has collaborated on several new works with Broadway legend Ann Reinking, resulting in some of the company's most high-profile, critically acclaimed, full-length "story ballets" including The White City: Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893 ("Best dance of 2011" - Chicago Sun-Times) and their equally acclaimed A Light in the Dark: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan in 2013. 

Through its American Dance Legacy Project, dedicated to keeping the creative voice on stage of renowned American dance artists no long visible to the public, Thodos Dance Chicago has presented Fosse Trilogy, a trio of rarely performed works by Bob Fosse, a suite of choreography originally created by iconic modern dance legend Sybil Shearer, last season's highly successful Sono's Journey, a tribute to legendary Japanese-American dance artist, Sono Osato, conceived and choreographed by Melissa Thodos, and this season's Nos Duraturi by West Coast modern dance legend Bella Lewitzky.

Numerous guest choreographers from the national dance landscape have set works on the company as well, including Ann Reinking, Lar Lubovitch, Shapiro & Smith, Jon Lehrer, Garfield Lemonius, Zachary Whittenburg, Lucas Crandall, Brian Enos, Amy Ernst, Ron De Jesús, Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, Ahmad Simmons, KT Nelson, Robyn Mineko Williams and Kevin Iega Jeff.

TDC's ensemble for the current 25th Anniversary season, who each teach, choreograph and perform for the company, include John Cartwright, Abby Ellison, Marchetta Genis, Alex Gordon, Hattie Haggard, Thomas Jacobson, Jessica Miller Tomlinson, Shelby Moran, Melissa Panetta, Richard Peña, Brennen Renteria, Briana Robinson and Luis Vasquez, plus performing trainee Tyler Ring. 

In addition to performing the work of others, these talented young dancers have the opportunity to create their own works via the company's annual New Dances initiative. Ensemble dancers also teach a full roster of dance classes for adults and children year round at the company's rehearsal home, the Drucker Center Menomonee Club in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Thodos Dance also teaches after school dance classes for 50 at-risk youth at the Barreto Club in Humboldt Park and Club One in Pilsen. Both are branches of the Union League Boys and Girls Club improving the lives of children in underserved Chicago neighborhoods.                                                                

Thodos Dance Chicago continues to expand its artistic and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Founder and Artistic Director Melissa Thodos, Executive Director Gail Ford, Booking Director Rick Johnston, Artistic Associate Laura Gates, Resident Lighting Designer Nathan Tomlinson, Education Outreach and Operations Manager Kate Weatherly, Board President Sharon Lear, a dedicated board of directors and the support of thousands of contemporary dance enthusiasts both in Chicago and nationwide. 

The company is supported by The Sono and Victor Elmaleh Foundation, The Garden of the Phoenix Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council-a state agency, Target, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Arts Work Fund, The Morrison-Shearer Foundation, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Service Club of Chicago, Project 120, The Garden of the Phoenix Foundation, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and many individual and corporate sponsors. 

OPENING: Skin For Skin at Rivendell Theatre Via The Agency Theater

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


ChiIL Live Shows will be there for the opening so check back after 3/4 for our full review. 

The Agency Theater Collective is pleased to announce its spring production of the world premiere of Skin For Skin, written by Paul Pasulka and directed by Michael Menendian, February 28  – April 2, at the Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave. Previews are Wednesday, Feb. 28 – Friday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Saturday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. (press are also invited to the final preview, Friday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m.) The performance schedule is Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. The running time is 90 minutes, without intermission. Ticket prices for previews are $20 and for the regular run $28.  For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit or call 773.680.4596. 

Skin for Skin depicts the biblical Job as a Muslim-American contractor in Baghdad who is suspected of aiding Al-Qaeda. He is imprisoned in an Abu Ghraib-type ‘black site’ and subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation’ as supervised by an American psychologist. The play explores the unintended consequences of torture in the name of God, country and money. Skin for Skin, originally read at Chicago Dramatists, features choreography from members of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and Actors Gymnasium.

The Agency Theater Collective’s Skin for Skin acting company includes: Sunny Anam as “Abdul Walli;” David Goodloe as “Pvt. Ethan Michaels;” Robert Hardaway as “Lt. Milo;” Shariba Rivers as “Dr. O’Brien;” Steve Silver as “Ayyub;” Tony St. Clair as “Colonel Lewis;” Hannah Tarr as “Sgt. Lindsey” with understudies Marcellus Burt, as “Pvt. Ethan Michaels;” as Audrey Gladson,  as “Sgt. Lindsey” and Denise Hoeflich, as “Dr. O’Brien.”

The artistic and production staff of Skin for Skin includes: Michael Menendian, director; Jack Schultz*, assistant director/associate producer; Kat McNall, production manager; Bailey Howard, stage manager; Scott Dare, choreographer; Ellyzabeth Adler, choreographer; Alexandra Garfinkle, dramaturg; Ray Toler, set designer; Cristian Esparza, costume designer; Taylor Tolleson, properties designer: Sebby Woldt, sound designer; Jake Engram, scenic painter; Michael Rathbun, lighting designer; Huck Poe*, projection designer; Manny Ortiz, technical director; Fouad Teymour, script consultant; Andrew Gallant, artistic director of The Agency; Sommer Austin, managing director of the Agency; and Tim Touhy, company manager of The Agency. 
*indicates The Agency Theatre Collective Company member

Paul Pasulka is a Chicago playwright and a clinical psychologist in private practice and on faculty at Northwestern University School of Medicine. His plays have been produced and read throughout Chicago and in New York. La Maestra, the story of Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi, received a staged reading with dance, movement and song at Chicago DanzTheatre Ensemble in June 2016 and is scheduled for production in its 2017-18 season.  Gruoch, or Lady Macbeth  was produced by Death and Pretzels in 2015.  When the Levee Breaks was produced as part of The Best of the 10's at Chicago Dramatists and Second City Theatre and was selected as a finalist and for publication at Secret Theatre in New York. Dark Angels was performed at the American Theatre Company (ATC) and Roberto Clemente High School in ATC’s Bridge Program. He has worked with Adventure Stage Theatre in assisting middle school students in writing plays for Young Playwrights for Change. He presented "Neuropsychology, Creativity, and Storytelling" at the Steel Pen Creative Writers' Conference in 2015. He has presented autobiographical stories throughout Chicago, including at Rhinofest and with the GenNarrations Project of The Goodman Theatre, and was invited to read at The International Storytelling Festival in San Miguel Allende, Mexico in 2014.

Michael Menendian is a founding member and the producing artistic director of Raven Theatre, where he has directed and designed sets for many productions, earning numerous Joseph Jefferson and After Dark awards. Along with JoAnn Montemurro, Menendian received a 2007/2008 Jeff Award for Outstanding Contribution to Chicago Theatre and he recently received a 2016 Jeff nomination for his direction of Raven's Direct From Death Row the Scottsboro Boys, which earned a Jeff Award for Outstanding Ensemble. Other local directing credits include productions at Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatists and Lake Forest College,

Founded in 2010, The Agency Theater Collective creates relevant, authentic work with a focus on new or rarely produced plays. Past productions include Mia McCullough’s Chagrin Falls this fall at The Den Theatre, Copi’s Four Twins, Clifford Odets’ Paradise LostOut of Tune Confessional, I Wish to Apologize to the People of IllinoisAt the CenterTruth in Context (Non-Equity Jeff Award nominee for Best New Work in 2015/2016) and The Spirit of ’76. The Agency also hosts “No Shame Theatre,” a weekly theatrical open mic, every Saturday night at The Lincoln Loft. The Agency Theater Collective hold the follow principles sacred: revelation, paradox, humor, mischief and collaboration.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

EXTENDED: Mamma Mia! at Marriott Theatre Now Extended Through April 16th

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

We'll be ChiILin' in Lincolnshire tonight and checking out Mamma Mia! at the Marriott Theatre, so check back soon for our full review. The show's already been extended due to popular demand so book your tickets before they sell out! 

The global phenomenon seen by over 60 million people all around the world and one of Broadway’s longest running hits, MAMMA MIA!, kicks off Marriott Theatre's 2017 Season, running February 8th through April 16th, 2017 at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. Multi Jeff Award Winner Rachel Rockwell (World Premiere of October Sky and 42nd Street at Marriott Theatre; Ride the Cyclone at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and MCC Theatre, New York; and Brigadoon at Goodman Theatre), returns to direct the much-loved  piece, with music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA, and book by Catherine Johnson. 

Rockwell, who has an extensive history with the show, having performed it many times including on Broadway, joins forces with longtime collaborators Set Designer Scott Davis, who will re-imagine the signature theatre-in-the-round space, and Costume Designer Theresa Ham who returns to the Marriott following the success of October Sky, along with Choreographer Ericka Mac and Musical Director Ryan T. Nelson.

“I’m really excited to put my spin on this exuberant celebration of music and friendship,” says Rockwell. “The show is a story of the enduring female relationships in our lives – mothers and daughters, women supporting each other. Paired with these songs that we all love, it brings such joy. It truly is a love letter to that ABBA sound."

MAMMA MIA! is the story of the dynamic relationship between independent and carefree mother, Donna Sheridan, and her spirited daughter, Sophie, who she has raised alone on an idyllic Greek island. While Donna invites her two best friends to her daughter's wedding, practical and no-nonsense Rosie and wealthy, multi-divorcee Tanya, Sophie has plans of her own up her sleeve. On a quest to find the identity of her father to walk her down the aisle, she brings back three men from Donna’s past to the Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier, hoping to build a bond with the father she’s never known. Chaos ensues over the next 24 hours as new love blooms and old flames are rekindled on this lush island full of possibilities. Fusing explosive dance numbers with timeless songs, including “Dancing Queen”, “S.O.S.”, “Money, Money, Money” and “Take a Chance on Me,” MAMMA MIA! will have audiences singing along to all the classic favorites in this feel-good story full of laughs, love, family and friendship.

MAMMA MIA! stars Danni Smith as “Donna Sheridan” (The Marriott Theatre: Man of La Mancha and City of Angels; Paramount: A Christmas Story; Porchlight: Chess), Meghan Murphy as “Tanya” (The Marriott Theatre: City of Angels; Drury Lane Oakbrook: Smokey Joe’s Café), Cassie Slater as “Rosie” (The Marriott Theatre: Man of La Mancha and City of Angels), Tiffany Tatreauas “Sophie Sheridan” (The Marriott Theatre: Sister Act and Spring Awakening; Chicago Shakespeare Theater/MCC: Ride the Cyclone), Peter Saide as “Sam Carmichael” (Chicago Shakespeare/Old Globe: Sense and Sensibility; Paramount: Oklahoma!; Las Vegas: Jersey Boys), Karl Sean Hamilton as “Harry Bright” (The Marriott Theatre: For the Boys and The Full Monty; Goodman Theatre: Wonderful Town; Chicago Shakespeare Theater/MCC: Ride the Cyclone), Derek Hasenstab as “Bill Austin” (The Marriott Theatre: How To Succeed…, Spring Awakening, October Sky; Lookingglass Theatre Company: Eastland), Russell Mernagh as “Sky” (The Marriott Theatre: Evita; Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Ride the Cyclone; The Mercury Theatre: The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes), Kayla Kennedy as “Ali,”Lillian Castillo as “Lisa,” Liam Quealy as “Pepper,” and Gerard Salvador as “Eddie.” Also featuring Ari Aaron, William Carlos Angulo, Aramie, Julie Baird, Nathaniel Braga, Colte Julian, Tommy Lucas, Ericka Mac, John Marshall, Jr., Zoe Nadal, Hanah Rose Nardone, Laura Savage, Colette Todd and Kylah Williams.

The production will feature set design by Scott Davis, costume design by Theresa Ham, lighting design by Jesse Klug, sound design by Bob Gilmartin, properties design by Sally Weiss, musical supervision and orchestra conducted by Patti Garwood.

The performance schedule for MAMMA MIA! is Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 4:30 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. Ticket 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 FREE dinners available with the purchase of a full-priced theatre ticket, which can only be purchased 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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

OPENING: The Columnist at Stage 773 Via American Blues Theater

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

American Blues Theater Presents
the Chicago Premiere of
The Columnist
by David Auburn
Directed by Keira Fromm
 February 17 – April 1, 2017

We'll be ChiILin' out with American Blues Theater at the press opening February 23rd, so check back shortly after for our full review. We're elated that American Blues Theater has moved to a new home space at Stage 773 and can't wait to check out The Columnist by David Auburn, the Pulitzer and Tony award-winning author of Proof.

American Blues Theater continues its 2016-2017 Season with the Chicago Premiere of The Columnist by David Auburn and directed by Keira Fromm. The Columnist runs February 17 – April 1, 2017 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago.  

From the Pulitzer and Tony award-winning author of Proof comes a drama about power, the press, sex and betrayal. At the height of the Cold War, Joe Alsop is the nation’s most influential journalist, beloved, feared and courted by the Washington world. But as the 60s dawn and America undergoes dizzying change, the intense political dramas Joe is embroiled in become deeply personal as well.

The cast for The Columnist includes Philip Earl Johnson (Joe Alsop), Coburn Goss (Stewart Alsop), Kymberly Mellen (Susan Mary Alsop), Ian Paul Custer* (Halberstam), Tyler Meredith (Abigail), and Christopher Sheard (Andrei/Philip).

The creative team includes Joe Schermoly (scenic), Jared Gooding (lighting), Christopher J. Neville* (costumes), Christopher Kriz (sound), Alec Long (props), Sarah E. Ross* (production manager), Eva Breneman (dialect coach), Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman (dramaturg), and Dana Nestrick (stage manager).

*Denotes Ensemble members and Artistic Affiliates of American Blues Theater

Dates: February 17 – April 1, 2017
Previews: February 17 – 22, 2017
Press Opening: Thursday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Regular Run: February 24 – April 1, 2017

Thursday:  7:30 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 p.m
Saturday: 3:00 p.m. 
(except February 18 & 25 and March 4)and 7:30p.m. Sunday: 2:30 p.m.

Additional performances on Wednesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m.
and Monday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Location: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago
Ticket prices: $19 - $49
Box Office: Buy online at or by calling 773.327.5252.

About American Blues Theater
Winner of the American Theatre Wing’s prestigious 2016 National Theatre Company Award, American Blues Theater is a premier arts organization with an intimate environment that patrons, artists, and all Chicagoans call home.  American Blues Theater explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves.

The diverse and multi-generational artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago.  The 37-member Ensemble has 530+ combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2016, the theater and artists received 186 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and over 31 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.  

The American Blues Theater Ensemble includes all four Founders Ed Blatchford, Rick Cleveland, James Leaming, and William Payne with Dawn Bach, Matthew Brumlow, Manny Buckley, Kate Buddeke, Sarah Burnham, Dara Cameron, Casey Campbell, Darren Canady, Brian Claggett, Dennis Cockrum, Austin Cook, Laura Coover, Ian Paul Custer, Lauri Dahl, Joe Foust, Cheryl Graeff, Marty Higginbotham, Jaclyn Holsey, Lindsay Jones, Nambi E. Kelley, Kevin R. Kelly, Steve Key, Ed Kross, Warren Levon, Michael Mahler, Heather Meyers, John Mohrlein, Christopher J. Neville, Suzanne Petri, Carmen Roman, Editha Rosario, Sarah E. Ross, and Gwendolyn Whiteside.

Friday, February 10, 2017

OPENING: World Premiere Musical My Brother’s Keeper—The Story of The Nicholas Brothers Opens Black Ensemble Theatre's 2017 Season

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar

My Brother's Keeper—The Story of the Nicholas Brothers

February 11 – March 26, 2017

We'll be ChiILin' with Black Ensemble Theater at the press opening on Sunday, Feb 19th, so check back shortly after for our full review. Black Ensemble Theater's original musicals are a true Chicago treat and have long been favorites of ours. We can't wait to check this one out.

Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor opens the 2017 Season (The Dance Theater Season) with the world premiere musical My Brother’s Keeper—The Story of The Nicholas Brothers, written and directed by Black Ensemble Theater Associate Director Rueben Echoles. My Brother’s Keeper (The Story of The Nicholas Brothers) will be performed at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago, February 11 – March 26, 2017. 

The Nicholas Brothers were the most legendary dance team in history. Harold & Fayard Nicholas broke through racist color barriers and rose to international stardom on stage and screen. They were acclaimed as the greatest dance team in history during the 1930s and ‘40s. We know them as a dynamic, high-flying, dance duo, but who were these men outside of the spotlight?  

This phenomenal story is told by the women who knew them best and features the music of Cab Calloway, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Dorothy Dandridge, as well as original music written by Rueben D. Echoles, who also directs and stars as Harold Nicholas.  Don’t miss this vibrant, intriguing and exciting Black Ensemble musical production featuring the Black Ensemble Orchestra under the direction of Robert Reddrick.

The cast of My Brother’s Keeper (The Story of The Nicholas Brothers) includes Rueben Echoles (Harold Nicholas), Rashawn Thompson (Fayard Nicholas), Dwight Neal (Ulysses Nicholas), Shari Addison (Viola Nicholas), Katherine Thomas (Dorothy Nicholas), Taylah Thomas (Dorothy Dandridge), Jessica Seals (Geri), Joan Ruffin (Neeva), and Vincent Jordan (Cab Calloway). The Ensemble includes Dennis Dent, Paige Hauer, Devin Joyner, Linnea Norwood, William Rowland, and Henri Slater.

The creative team for My Brother’s Keeper (The Story of The Nicholas Brothers) includes Jackie Taylor (producer), Rueben Echoles (writer/director/costumes/choreographer), Alexis Roston (assistant director), Nichole Springer (assistant choreographer), Bekki Lambrecht (stage manager), Denise Karczewski (scenic/lighting), Caswell James (technical director), CoCo Ree Lemery (scenic artist), and Aaron Quick (sound). The production manager is Daryl Brooks.

As with all Black Ensemble productions the Musical Director is Robert Reddrick (drums).  Musicians include Roger Weaver (piano), Wayne Jones (bass), Herb Walker (guitar), Paul Howard (trumpet), Dudley Owens (saxophone) and Bill McFarland (trombone).

Tickets are available at the Black Ensemble Box Office located at 4450 N. Clark St in Chicago, or online at, or by phone at (773) 769-4451. Tickets are $45 for previews (February 11, 12 and 17, 2017); $55 (Thursdays and Saturday matinees) and $65 (Fridays, Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees).  There is a 10% discount for students, seniors and groups.

Ticket prices: 
$45 Previews
$55 on Thursdays and Saturday matinees; 
$65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees
A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups. 
Box Office: Buy online at or call (773) 769-4451

The Black Ensemble Theater 
Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.

On November 18, 2011, The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened and is able to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of educational programming. The new facility includes amenities such as a 299-seat main stage theater (double the capacity of the original venue); 14 offices, classroom space, rehearsal hall, dance studio, scene shop, costume shop, and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; rehearsal room for musicians; front lobby space with concession areas; and an indoor parking garage.  The completion of a 150-seat theater, which will serve as an experimental stage for the work of the Black Playwright Initiative (BPI), with construction by General Contractor Norcon Inc., is expected in 2017. 

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts.  For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, please visit or call 773-769-4451.

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