Thursday, January 12, 2017

OPENING: Cor Theater and Stage Left Theatre Present What of the Night? at Theater Wit

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Sex, power, institutional failure, human frailty, betrayal, dreams and madness are at the core of celebrated Cuban-American writer María Irene Fornés's Pulitzer-Prize nominated play What of the Night?

*Note: For mature audiences only. Contains sexual content and partial nudity.*

Tonight we'll be out to review What of the Night?. Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we're elated when some of our favorite companies collaborate and we're looking forward to this one. We've been impressed with the edgy, past productions chosen by both Cor Theater and Stage Left Theatre and we're eager to see their take on this Pulitzer-Prize nominated gem. Check back soon for our full review.

Chicago's Cor Theater and Stage Left Theatre are teaming after the New Year to co-present a fearless revival of What of the Night?, directed by internationally acclaimed Chicago director and playwright Carlos Murillo. Performances are  January 8-February 12, 2017 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. 

Murillo's new production of Fornés's epic, deeply intimate and never-more-timely mediation about poverty in America stars Dionne Addai (Birdie), Kathryn Acosta (Rainbow), Kate Black-Spence (Helena/Leah), Tosha Fowler (Nadine/Reba), Stephen Loch (Joseph), Casey Morris (Charlie), Miguel Nunez (Pete), Nelson Rodriguez (Ray) and Allyce Torres (Greta). Designers include Eleanor Kahn (set and props), Brenda Winstead (costumes), Eric Vigo (lights), Jeffrey Levin (sound) and Nick Sandys (violence). Zoe Benditt is stage manager.

Performances run through February 12: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets, $18-$30, are on sale now at,, or by calling (773) 975-8150.

Behind the scenes of  
What of the Night?

A finalist for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, What of the Night? interweaves four one-acts that follow an extended family whose lives are intricately intertwined even as they try to escape the ties that bind them. When Birdie, a just-married 14-year-old leaves her impoverished home to seek a better life, she unwittingly sets in motion a sprawling epic spanning time and geography. Her daughter Rainbow finds love. Her son Charlie finds solace in loyalty. Her son Ray finds the trappings of success. For each, survival and the preservation of loved ones is the name of the game. Though their yearnings are briefly rewarded, Fornés's lyrical play lays bare the difference between the hunger of the soul and the hunger of the ego.

Fornés is a Cuban-American avant-garde playwright and director who was a leading figure of the Off-Off-Broadway movement in the 1960s. Fornés's themes frequently focused on poverty and feminism. Moreover, on personal and artistic levels, her lesbian identity has been central to her art. Fornés's family moved to the United States in 1945. She became a painter before beginning to write plays in the early 1960s. The Widow, her first professionally produced play, was staged in 1961. Fornés acted as the director for many of her subsequent works, including There! You Died (1963; later retitled Tango Palace, 1964), The Successful Life Of 3: Skit In Vaudeville (1965), and Molly's Dream (1968), among others. In 1973 she founded the New York Theatre Strategy, which was devoted to the production of stylistically innovative theatrical works. She has received eight Obie awards - in such categories as distinguished playwriting and direction and best new play - for Promenade (1965), The Successful Life Of 3, Fefu And Her Friends, The Danube (1982), Mud, Sarita (1984), The Conduct Of Life and Abingdon Square (1987). Fornés has also received numerous other awards and grants, including Rockefeller Foundation Grants in 1971 and 1984, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972, National Endowments for the Arts grants in 1974, 1984, and 1985, an American Academy and Institute of Letters and Arts Award in Literature in 1986 and a Playwrights U.S.A. Award in 1986.

"What of the Night? is among the most important plays in María Irene Fornés's oeuvre, and I am thrilled by the prospect of giving it the theatrical life it deserves,"said Murillo. "I first met Irene in the early 1990s when we were both in residence at New York Theatre Workshop's summer retreat at the Hotchkiss School. Her warmth and encouragement, especially important to me at the time as I was a baby playwright, went a long way to build my confidence. I later studied with her at Theatre for the New City, where her life-changing workshops helped shape both my writing and teaching of playwriting to this very day. I count her as one of my greatest influences and mentors." 

Murillo (director) directed the Chicago premiere of Julia Cho's Durango at Silk Road, as well as productions and workshops of his own work in New York, Chicago and Minneapolis. He has also staged plays at The Walker Arts Center/Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, The Public Theatre New Work Now! Festival, the Mazer Theatre and Makor in NY. For DePaul University, he directed the world premiere of Ike Holter's Good Worker for the New Playwrights Series, for which he has staged two previous productions (Andie Arthur's In Common Hours and Alex Perry's eikon). As a playwright, Murillo's body of work has been widely produced throughout the United States and Europe. His best known play Dark Play or Stories for Boys premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and has been performed throughout the US, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania. His plays have been commissioned by The Goodman, the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Berkeley Rep, South Coast Rep, Steppenwolf, and Adventure Stage and developed by The Sundance Theatre Lab, The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, New Dramatists and others. He is the recipient of a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award and a Mellon Foundation National Resident Playwright Program grant funding a three-year residency at Adventure Stage. From 1993 to 1995, Murillo served as the Associate Literary Manager at The Public Theater in New York. He heads the BFA Playwriting Program at The Theatre School of DePaul University, and is a proud alumnus of New Dramatists. Murillo is of Colombian and Puerto Rican descent. He lives in the south side of Chicago with his wife, the director, Lisa Portes, and their two children Eva and Carlitos.

About Cor Theatre
"By combining Carlos's passionate vision, Fornés' poetically primal voice, Cor's fearless aesthetic and Stage Left's strong commitment to artists, What of the Night? promises to be our biggest leap yet," added Cor Theatre Artistic Director and cast member Tosha Fowler.

Cor Theatre ( debuted in September 2012 with a vision to create theatrical experiences that are rarely presented in Chicago by artists who seek to defy expectation. Cor is one of Chicago's youngest and most ambitious Chicago professional theatre companies with a growing board and strong experience behind it. 

Cor's inaugural production, Skin Tight by Gary Henderson, was met with enthusiastic audiences, critical acclaim and made just enough money to establish a not-for-profit corporation. The company named itself Cor Theatre, deriving its name from the Latin root of courage - meaning heart.

Cor returned in 2015 with Erin Courtney's A Map of Virtue, named a top show to see in the Chicago Tribune and Most Promising Debut by Time Out Chicago, and nominated for several Time Out Chicago Theatre Awards. Cor triumphed again in 2015 with the first professional Chicago staging of Brad Frasier's controversial play Love and Human Remains in 20 years. Cor's production played to numerous sold-out houses and was named one of the top plays to see by Windy City Times and New City.

In March 2016, Cor presented the U.S. premiere of Christina, The Girl King by Michel Marc Bouchard, translated by Linda Gaboriau, telling the true story of the enigmatic, gender bending 17th century Queen of Sweden. Cor concluded its 2016 season in October with an epic production of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, translated by Tony Kushner, directed by ensemble member Ernie Nolan.

Company members are Tony Bozzuto, Chris Brickhouse, Elyse Cowles, Tosha Fowler, Adam Gutkin, Alarie Hammock, Topher Kielbasa, Jeffrey Levin, Claire Meyers, Ernie Nolan, Stefin Steberl and Eric Vigo.

Get Social:
For more information, visit, like Cor Theatre on Facebook, follow the company on Twitter, @CorTheatre, or call (866) 811-4111.

About Stage Left Theatre 
"We are so excited to partner with Cor Theatre and with Carlos Murillo for this multigenerational epic," said Stage Left Theater Co-Artistic Directors Jason A. Fleece and Amy Szerlong. "The story of a family fighting the cycle of poverty fits neatly into our mission of inciting debate about political and social issues, and continues to resonate almost 30 years after its premiere. We believe Stage Left's issue-driven work combined with Cor's daring will make this an outstanding, impactful production."

Founded in 1982, Stage Left Theatre is committed to developing and producing plays that raise debate and challenge perspectives on political and social issues. Through a full subscription season and our new play development program Downstage Left, Stage Left strives to ask provocative social and political questions by producing a mix of new works, regional premieres and timeless classics.

A charitable corporation founded in 1982 to provide a venue for Chicago theatre artists and to develop and produce new work, Stage Left redefined its mission in 1988 to produce and develop plays that raise debate on political and social issues. For its first 11 years, Stage Left produced continuously at 3244 North Clark Street. In February of 1995, Stage Left moved to a 49-seat theatre at 3408 North Sheffield Avenue. That location provided an intimate, well-equipped performance space for the artists of Stage Left, as well as other arts organizations.

In the fall of 2010, Stage Left became one of the resident companies at Theater Wit - a multi-theatre complex that provides expanded seating capacity and audience amenities, greater design opportunities, and a chance to establish relationships with the other resident companies: Theater Wit and Boho Ensemble.

Over the past thirty years, Stage Left has produced over 120 mainstage, late-night, off-night, children's and touring productions that have garnered critical accolades, as well as 46 nominations and 17 awards for excellence from the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

REVIEW AND FLASH GIVEAWAY: Win A Pair Of Tickets to The Rosenkranz Mysteries at Royal George (Up to $150 value per pair/2 winners)

We're giving away 2 Pairs Of Tickets (Up to $150 value per pair/2 winners) to The Rosenkranz Mysteries, which is highly recommended and extended through January 22ndCheck back early and often. We'll announce our winner tomorrow morning as well as 2 additional theatre ticket giveaways.

ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows are pleased to partner up with The Royal George Theatre. 

ENTER HERE through midnight tonight 1/11 for your chance to WIN 

 A Pair of tickets to The Rosenkranz Mysteries valid for this Thursday 1/12 at 8pm or Sunday 1/15 at 2pm. (2 winners chosen to win a pair of tickets each) 

The Rosenkranz Mysteries brings a merging of the arts of medicine and magic that makes for a spellbinding night out. It's recommended for adults and kids ages 10+, and my 15 year old son and I enjoyed it immensely. 

Rosenkranz is a man of many hats: Northwestern professor, MD, collector of vintage magic tricks, and mystifying magician. Over the years we've reviewed many magic shows and Rosenkranz brings a bag of tricks that includes quite a few I've never seen before, which is refreshing. Amazingly, his show only features one card act. There are many audience volunteers called and all are treated with care and set up to succeed. I was pleased to see that he pulls audience members from all areas of the theatre, not just the front row seats.

I was also impressed with this medicine man's wit and wisdom. I couldn't help thinking how lucky his students and patients are to have a doctor who understands the importance of empathy and humor and who can covey to others the art of medicine and healing and not just the science. 

I'm still recovering from major knee surgery, in late November, so this hybrid of medicine and magic hit home to me. From the heavy burden of patient pain portrayed through a box trick, to an expressively clairvoyant skull, and a scarf full of holes made whole, Rosenkranz has a gift of expressing the depth and calling of the medical profession in unforgettable visuals. Therein lies the true brilliance of this show. 

The Royal George Cabaret is an intimate space, so there's not a bad seat in the house, and great sight lines even from the back row. There's a bar on the way in, with show themed drinks, soft drinks, and snacks and all are permitted in the theatre. My son and I had the great pleasure of sitting at one of the 4 top cabaret tables at the front, and it was a stellar way to see the show. I won't give too many spoilers on the illusions, but I did get called up to assist on a chalk board trick involving a pocket watch, soup, and channeling the magician's dearly departed Oma. It was quite fun.

If there's any weak link it's the timing. Rosenkranz has the pacing of a professor rather than a professional prestidigitator and some of the acts have long lead ins and are repeated a bit more than necessary. Short of that, the show is fabulously fun and well worth seeing. Highly recommended. 

The Rosenkranz Mysteries
An Evening of Magic to Lift the Spirits
Extends at The Royal George Cabaret
(great for ages 10+)

Due to popular demand, performances have been added through January 22

"An immensely likeable, intelligent and very intimate show. Well worth seeing!" 3.5 Stars - Chicago Tribune

“Highly Recommended. Mind boggling and exceptional.” – Around the Town Chicago

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows, we're huge fans of magic and illusion. I've been out recovering from major knee surgery since late November, then out of town for the holidays with the family, but I'll finally be able to review The Rosenkranz Mysteries tomorrow, with my 15 year old son. This show's high on our must see list so we're elated that they extended through January 22nd. We'll be running a ticket giveaway with our review as well, so check back soon!

Classic as well as never been seen before illusions have amazed audiences at the Royal George Cabaret space in what Chicago Critic calls a “must see,” as the nationally regarded illusionist Ricardo Rosenkranz stars in The Rosenkranz Mysteries, an evening of magic to lift the spirits. “Full of fascinating bits! Impressive,” according to the Chicago Reader, the astounding numbers have captivated audiences in its cabaret style setting with tables featured in the space. This one man, ninety-minute production Buzz News proclaims is filled with “astonishing illusions and jaw-dropping acts of mentalism,” runs through January 22 at the Royal George Theatre’s Cabaret space, 1641 North Halsted Street.

Every illusion has been researched, evaluated, and workshopped with the nation’s most elite and respected magicians including Eugene Burger (Chief Architect of Magic for the production) whose credits include The Art of Magic on PBS and Mysteries of Magic on The Learning Channel; Jeff McBridge (Chief Magic Consultant) whose credits include being designated as Grand Prix of Magic winner in Monte Carlo; Ross Johnson and Johnny Thompson (Magic Consultants), and Jan Rose and Jordan Wright (Magic Team).

Dr. Ricardo Rosenkranz is a respected professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He has been fascinated by magic since a young age and has long been incorporating his illusions into his teaching as a way to help engage students and encourage participation. After winning several teaching awards and traveling the country to deliver seminars, Rosenkranz decided to bring his act to the stage.

“There is something beautiful and wonderful about the unknown, and I think in that sense, magic and medicine share a DNA,” said Rosenkranz. “I am committed to creating a unique experience that energizes and uplifts every audience.”

The Rosenkranz Mysteries stars Ricardo Rosenkranz as “The Doctor Magician”, Jan Rose as “The Hostess” and Balsamo as himself. The show is directed by Northwestern graduate Jessica Fisch (Fefu and Her Friends at the Goodman Theatre/Rivendell Latina/o Celebration), and is produced by Opus Magica Music, LLC and Ricardo Rosenkranz. The artistic team includes script by Eugene Burger, Jessica Fisch and Ricardo Rosenkranz, Set Design by Chip Von Weise, Sets by Ravenswood Studio, Lighting Design by Jennifer Kules, Prop Design and Construction by John Gaughan, and Musical Direction by Craig Terry (Lyric Opera of Chicago).

The Rosenkranz Mysteries runs through January 22, 2017. The show is intended for ages 10 and older. Tables in the cabaret space seat 4 guests ($75 per person). Regular tickets are $50 (with a seniors and students discount available). Performances will be held Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. To purchase tickets or for additional information, visit or call the box office at 312.988.9000.

Disclosure: ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows are pleased to partner up with The Royal George Theatre which has provided 2 pairs of complimentary tickets for our giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

PHOTO RECAP: CLUTCH at House of Blues Chicago 10/25/2016

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

It was our great pleasure to catch an epic CLUTCH concert during their 2016 fall tour, on their annual Chicago stop. We got to celebrate a dual birthday night, with lead singer, Neil Fallon, and tour manager, Oscar, both born on October 25th! Direct support on this tour was Zakk Sabbath and Kyng. 

Some of the crowd in the know broke into a spontaneous rendition of "happy birthday" as the band returned from set break, and the enthusiasm was contagious. We were all treated to a high energy set with plenty of old CLUTCH classics and quite a few songs in rare rotation, along with requisite favorites from their latest release. 

HOB Chicago 10/25/16 set list (This is the only photo here that's not mine. It was publicly posted by Tim Sult, guitarist for CLUTCH, who makes a point of sharing most, if not all, set lists on his Facebook page, as the band tours.)

We love that the band members trade off writing the set list for the night, so this show left me wondering if we were along for a ride through Neil Fallon's favorites for his birthday. 

Check out our full set of CLUTCH shots in the slideshow here:
More favorites are embedded below.

This meteoric metal band keeps getting better with age, and their last 2 albums were the most commercially successful, yet they're no sell outs. CLUTCH, often called stoner metal, defies easy categorization, with intelligent, intelligible lyrics of mythic proportion and riffs that cross metal, rock, funk, blues, folk and then some. Unlike many bands who have been touring together 25 years, CLUTCH is no washed up nostalgia act. We've been enjoying their quirky brand of genius since the early 90's an have even road tripped to 3 neighboring states to see them, in addition to catching every Chicago regional show we could. Check out these Maryland badasses. CLUTCH is the real deal and always a good time live.

A bit of CUBS luck must have rubbed off on this long time Clutch fan who caught not only a guitar pick, but a drumstick too! 

Clutch fans are the best! Unlike most metal bands, Clutch manages to cross gender, age, race and socioeconomic factors to reach a unique and varied fan base of loyal rockers.  We've even met 2 and sometimes 3 generations of families at shows together!

Neil has the steely eyed stare of an old time preacher on the tent revival circuit. 

With Tim Sult laying down tight and tasty lead guitar riffs, Neil's hands are free for intense gestures of conviction, and he can focus all his energy on his distinct, growling vocals so many fans have come to love, with an occasional foray into cow bell or guitar.

With JP (Jean-Paul Gaster) and Dan Maines on drums and bass respectively, this band is a force to reckon with. These 4 have a long history and chemistry that can not be denied.

More Favorite CLUTCH Show Shots 10/25/16:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

OPENING: King Charles III at Chicago Shakespeare Theater Through January 15th

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Mike Bartlett's West End and Broadway sensation
Winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Play
Featuring Downton Abbey's Robert Bathurst in the title role

Tonight we'll be ChiILin' at Chi, IL's renowned Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier for opening night of King Charles III. Robert Bathurst, Downton Abbey's Sir Anthony Strallan is cast in the lead. We can't wait to check it out! 

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announces the cast and creative team for the Chicago premiere of Mike Bartlett’s new West End and Broadway sensation King Charles III, directed by Gary Griffin as part of the Theater’s 30th Anniversary Season. 

Queen Elizabeth II is dead. Long live the King—that is King Charles III. With Camilla at his side—and William, Kate and Harry anxiously looking on—Charles tries to take his rightful place in a long line of British monarchs. Appearing in the title role is Robert Bathurst, best known by American audiences for playing Sir Anthony Strallan on the hit series Downton Abbey. Winner of London’s Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2015 and nominated for five Tony Awards in 2016, King Charles III is performed at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, November 5, 2016–January 15, 2017.

Called “the most insightful and engrossing new history play in decades” by The New York Times and “bracingly provocative and outrageously entertaining” by The Independent, Bartett’s compelling new comedy–drama blurs the line between truth and tragedy. In the aftermath of the death of England’s present-day monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles ascends to the throne. His first official act is to rubberstamp Parliament’s bill restricting freedom of the press, but Charles refuses in a provocative act of conscience. England is thrown into crisis, absurdly escalating with tanks guarding the palace gates. In the midst of plays for power, how will Charles rule over his once-united kingdom? Written in blank verse and sprinkled with rousing soliloquies and rhyming couplets, King Charles IIIinvokes the heightened stakes of Shakespeare’s greatest works in an inventive present-day setting.

Stage and screen actor Robert Bathurst makes his Chicago Shakespeare debut in the title role as the beleaguered monarch-to-be. He is best known to US audiences as Sir Anthony Strallan on the hit PBS series Downton Abbey, in which he appeared regularly throughout the first and third seasons. Throughout his distinguished 30+ year career, he has performed extensively at the National Theatre, on the West End and on tour, as well as at the Lyric Hammersmith, London Playhouse and Bath Theatre Royal. Among his many popular television and film roles, Bathurst has had leading roles in My Dad's the Prime Minister, Coup!, The Stepfather, The Pillars of the Earth mini-series and the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. He stars in the cult classic series Cold Feet, which ran for five seasons 1997–2003—and reprises his role alongside the original cast in a sixth season this year.

Leading director of Broadway and Chicago stages, Gary Griffin returns to Chicago Shakespeare where, as Associate Artistic Director, he stages his twenty-third production. The ten-time Joseph Jefferson Award winner’s CST directing credits feature a diverse body of work spanning musicals (Gypsy, Road Show, Follies); Shakespeare plays (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It); and modern classics (Private Lives, Amadeus). His landmark production of Pacific Overtures went on to the Donmar Warehouse in London, where it garnered the Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production and a nomination for Best Director. Griffin’s work has also been seen on Broadway in Honeymoon in Vegas, The Color Purple and The Apple Tree, as well as at Canada’s Stratford Festival and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Portraying members of the Royal Family, Jordan Dean and Amanda Drinkall make their Chicago Shakespeare debuts as Charles’s eldest son Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, both set on carrying forward tradition. Dean has been seen on Broadway in American Psycho, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Mamma Mia!, and in Lincoln Center Theater’s Cymbeline. Drinkall has appeared on Chicago stages at Steppenwolf Theatre, the Goodman Theatre and Victory Gardens. Alec Manley Wilson portrays a conflicted Prince Harry who must find his role in the new family dynamics; he has previously appeared at American Repertory Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club. Rae Gray—with credits at Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre and on Showtime’s Shameless and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire—plays Jess, Harry’s working-class love interest who is met with disapproval from the Royal Family. Kate Skinner performs the role of Camilla; Skinner is a regular at Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC and has appeared on Broadway in The Graduate and Uncle Vanya. Sarah Chalcroft, recent London transplant to Chicago, makes an appearance as Princess Diana.
In his 23rd Chicago Shakespeare production, Sean Fortunato appears as England’s Prime Minister, Mr. Evans. David Lively portrays Mr. Stevens, the head of the opposition party, in his 22nd CST performance. Jonathan Weir(James Reiss), Lawrence Grimm (Clive/Sir Gordon/Speaker of the House) and Demetrios Troy (Spencer/Paul) all return to Chicago Shakespeare. Jen Johansen (Sarah/TV Producer) and Sam Pearson (Couttsey/Sir Michael) make their CST debuts. Grant Niezgodski, Jeff Parker, Tyrone Phillips and Megan Storti make up the ensemble.

Costume Designer Mara Blumenfeld channels the real-life fashions of the British Royal Family, from highly ornamental state uniforms to the daily wear of Kate, Harry and William. Blumenfeld is a frequent collaborator with Griffin, having previously designed Road Show, Sunday in the Park with George and A Midsummer Night’s Dreamat CST. Scenic Designer Scott Davis, along with Associate Scene Designer Alan Schwanke, creates a world that evokes the distinctive settings of the play—including Buckingham Palace, the British Parliament, and 10 Downing Street. King Charles III is Davis’ twenty-fifth production at Chicago Shakespeare, an extensive history that includes Tug of War: Foreign Fire and Civil Strife, Ride the Cyclone, Pericles and Road Show. Also on the award-winning design team are Lighting Designers Philip Rosenberg and Joel Shier and Sound Designers Rob Milburn and Michael BodeenKing Charles III is Rosenberg’s 15th production, including recent designs for Othello, Henry Vand Gypsy. Milburn and Bodeen have been collaborators for over thirty years, with joint credits on and off Broadway. The duo was recently awarded New York’s Lucille Lortel for Outstanding Sound Design in 2016. King Charles III marks the return of Wig and Make-Up Designer Richard Jarvie, who with this production takes over as Chicago Shakespeare’s resident Wig Master. Jarvie designed 28 productions in CST’s early history, most recently The Tempest in 2002. Jarvie has also worked extensively with Canada’s Stratford Festival, the Guthrie Theater and was with the Lyric Opera of Chicago for 28 years—11 of them as Wig Master and Make-up Designer. Rounding out the creative team is Assistant Director Lavina Jadhwani and Dialect Coach Eva Breneman.

For more information about the production, visit

King Charles III will be performed at Chicago Shakespeare Theater November 5, 2016 – January 15, 2017. Tickets are on sale now for $48–$88 (subject to change). Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets available for patrons under 35.For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

CST strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. King Charles III will have an Audio-described performance on December 4, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. (with Touch Tour at 12:00 p.m.), Open-captioned performances on December 29, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. and December 30, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. and an ASL Duo-interpreted performance on Friday, January 6, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company and a recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award®. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary production of classics, new works and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. Through a year-round season encompassing more than 650 performances, CST attracts 225,000 audience members annually. One in four of its audience members is under eighteen years old, and today its education programs have impacted the learning of over one million students. CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds. During 2016, CST has spearheaded the Shakespeare 400 Chicago festival in addition to announcing the creation of an innovative performance venue, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. 

Major Knee Surgery Imminent 11/17

ChiIL Live Shows On Hiatus:

I'll be taking a bit of a medical related break from reviewing and shooting events, blogging and social media. I'm going in tomorrow for major left knee surgery. I hope to be back to promoting events from home within a week and out and about in a month or so, but that may be optimistic. We'll have to see how the healing's going. I am still running quite a few giveaways so enter early and often and we'll pick most of the winners in a couple weeks. 

Today I'll be catching up on as much as humanly possible before surgery. Apologies if my 3" thick pile of to do lists doesn't get completely done. It's a fine juggling act between parenting, paid work, and passions like theatre and live music! See ya on the flip side.

Monday, November 7, 2016

OPENING: Sophocles' Electra Dramatic Conclusion of Court’s groundbreaking Greek Cycle

Court Theatre continues its 62nd Season with
By Sophocles
Translated by Nicholas Rudall
Directed by Seret Scott

November 10 – December 11, 2016

Ever since I was in Aristophanes' Ladies' Day way back in high school, I've had an affinity for Greek plays. They're still fairly rarely performed and we're elated to see the inimitable Court Theatre is taking on Sophocles' Electra! Don't miss this.

Court Theatre, under the leadership of Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell and Executive Director Stephen J. Albert, presents Electra by Sophocles, translated by Nicholas Rudall and directed by Seret Scott. Electra runs November 10 - December 11, 2016 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue in Chicago. 

Previews: November 10 – 18, 2016
Regular Run: November 20 – December 11, 2016
Schedule:     Wed & Thurs7:30 p.m. (except November 24)
Fridays: 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays3:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.
Sundays2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Location: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.
Tickets: $38-$48 previews
     $48-$68 regular run

Box Office: Located at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago; (773) 753-4472 or

"More than three years ago, we began planning for our 60th Anniversary Season. We dreamed big, imagining a three-year cycle of plays that would tell a single narrative of the fall of the House of Atreus. After successful productions of Iphigenia in Aulis and Nick’s world premiere translation of Agamemnon, we now complete the cycle with Sophocles’ Electra. This massive undertaking is emblematic of Court Theatre’s mission, ambition, and opportunity as the professional theatre of the University of Chicago," comments Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell

The cast of Electra includes Caren Blackmore, Thomas J. Cox, Kate Fry, Emjoy Gavino, Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, Rashaad Hall, Sandra Marquez, Michael Pogue, Tracy Walsh and Dexter Zollicoffer

The creative team for Electra includes Scott Davis (scenic design), Jacqueline Firkins (costume design), Paul Toben (lighting design), Andre Pluess (sound design) and Tracy Walsh (choreography). Amanda Weener-Frederick is the Production Stage Manager. 

Proclaiming justice, Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus murdered her husband, Agamemnon, after his triumphant return from the Trojan War. Now, many long, quiet years have passed and she cannot anticipate the judgments that will soon arrive in Argos. Her vengeful daughter Electra and son Orestes reunite and scheme to confront their mother—upholding the House of Atreus’ eternal mission to balance the scales, they seek to reclaim their father’s throne. 

Translated by renowned scholar and Founding Artistic Director Nicholas Rudall, Electra presents the third and final tragic chapter of Court’s groundbreaking Greek Cycle.  Electra is directed by Seret Scott, who is welcomed back to Court following her incredibly successful direction of Native Son in 2014. 

About the Artists
NICHOLAS RUDALL (Translator) is the Founding Artistic Director of Court Theatre, having led the theatre from 1971 to 1994. He led the growth of Court from a community theatre to a leading professional Equity theatre. In addition to his achievements as an actor and director, Rudall is a Professor Emeritus in Classics at the University of Chicago, where he taught for over forty years. His translations for the theatre—known for their stage-friendly language and “playability”—are myriad and span many languages, but he is best known for his translations of ancient Greek tragedy. Court is producing three translations by Rudall over three years. Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides began the series two years ago, and last year featured the world premiere of his Agamemnon by Aeschylus. We now conclude with Sophocles' Electra.

SERET SCOTT (Director) is directing her third show at Court Theatre, having previously directed Spunk and Native Son. Directing credits: Old Globe Theatre (San Diego–Associate Artist), Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center Theatre Company, New Victory Theatre and Second Stage Theatre (Off-Broadway), Philadelphia Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Studio Theatre (DC), American Conservatory Theatre (San Francisco), South Coast Repertory and L.A. Theatreworks (CA), Long Wharf Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre (New Haven), Two River Theatre Company (NJ), Hartford Stage (CT), Indiana Repertory Theatre, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre and National Black Theatre (NYC), Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Alley Theatre (Houston), Actors Theatre of Louisville, Virginia Stage Company, New Mexico Repertory, and Playmakers Repertory Company (NC). She is a member of the executive board of the Stage Directors and Choreographer’s Society and a recipient of a TCG/PEW Residency Grant (Long Wharf Theatre) and Drama Desk Award in acting (My Sister, My Sister). Ms. Scott’s play Second Line was produced by Passage Theatre (NJ) and Tribute Productions (DC).

CAREN BLACKMORE (Chorus) returns to Court Theatre, where she was last seen in Jitney. Some of her Chicago Theatre credits include: Spill(Timeline Theatre), The MLK Project:The Fight For Civil Rights (Writers Theatre),Bulrusher (Congo Square), Bodies and MiLK (MPAACT), I Gotcha!:The Story of Joe Tex and The Soul Clan (Black Ensemble Theater), and Checkmates (eta). Caren is a proud graduate of Oberlin College and has attended The National Theatre Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and Freedom Theatre.

THOMAS J. COX (Orestes) returns to Court Theatre, where he has previously appeared in Fräulein ElseRaisinMa Rainey's Black Bottom,Orlando,Agamemnon, and Man in the Ring. He is an ensemble member with Lookingglass Theatre, where he has worked on more than forty productions since 1988. Regionally, he has performed in End of the Rainbow (Milwaukee Rep); Elephant Man(Steppenwolf Young Audiences); Rock n Roll (Goodman); Season on the Line(House); Pride and PrejudiceJekyll and Hyde, and Outgoing Tide (Northlight); andRichard III (Gift); as well as seven seasons at the Weston Playhouse in Vermont. He serves as Master Teacher for Lookingglass, and teaches theatre around the Chicago area. Film/TV:Since You've Been Gone (Miramax); Brotherhood(Showtime); Chicago Fire (NBC).

KATE FRY (Electra) returns to Court Theatre, where she has performed in over a dozen productions, including The Romance Cycle, Twelfth Night, The Cherry OrchardMy Fair Lady, and Caroline, or Change. Other Chicago area credits include work with Writers’ Theatre (ArcadiaMarjorie PrimeHedda GablerThe LettersOh, Coward!A Minister’s Wife); Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (several productions, including As You Like ItHenry IV Part One and TwoThe Merchant of Venice, The Moliere Comedies); Northlight Theater (Outside MullingarThe Miser); Victory Gardens (In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play); as well as work with Theater at the Center, Marriott Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, and Candlelight Playhouse. Elsewhere, she has worked at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ, Center Theatre Group in L.A., Repertory Theatre of St Louis, and Lincoln Center. She is the recipient of three Joseph Jefferson awards, an After Dark award, Chicago Magazine’s actress of the year, and the Sarah Siddons award for Chicago’s leading lady. Fry is married to actor/teacher Timothy Edward Kane. They have two sons.

EMJOY GAVINO (Chrysothemis) returns to complete Court Theatre's Greek Cycle, having been in its first chapter, Iphigenia in Aulis. She was last seen at Court as Bethany in The Good Book and looks forward to the upcoming production of A Hard Problem as Bo.  Representative Chicago credits include The Hypocrites, Second City (national tour), Northlight, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Remy Bumppo, Paramount, Broadway Playhouse, Lookingglass, The Neo-Futurists and The Goodman. Regional credits include Repertory Actors Theatre, Book-It Repertory, ACT and Village Theatre.  Film/TV: The ExorcistMob Doctor, Chicago Fire, Empire and Chicago Med.  Emjoy is the casting director of Gift Theatre, a company member with Barrel of Monkeys and is the founder and producer of The Chicago Inclusion Project.

CRUZ GONZALEZ-CADEL (Chorus) makes her Court Theatre debut. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cruz received her degree in acting from the Universidad del Salvador. Chicago credits include: You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites), The Compass (Steppenwolf Theatre), The Grown Up (Shattered Globe Theatre), The Life and Death of Madam Barker (Red Tape Theater), i put the fear of Mexico in ‘em (Teatro Vista), and Your Problem With Men (Teatro Luna). Film Credits include: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Cruz is an artistic associate at Teatro Vista and is represented by Stewart Talent. 

RASHAAD HALL (Pylades) is an actor, teaching artist, poet and visual and performance artist in Chicago. He has worked at  Goodman Theatre, Hypocrites Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens, Chicago Slam Works, and Black Ensemble Theatre among others since graduating from DePaul's BFA program in 2010. Recently, he was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award with the cast of The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neil. Film credits include his guest starring role on Brown Girls, a web series premiering in 2017. He is a company member of For Youth Inquiry, providing sexual health and wellness forum theatre to students across Chicago with Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health. He is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency. 

SANDRA MARQUEZ (Clytemnestra) returns to the Court Theater stage as Clytemnestra. She is an actor, director and educator, as well as a longtime ensemble member and former Associate Artistic Director (1998-2006) of Teatro Vista. Last spring she had the honor of joining the ensemble of Steppenwolf Theater where she most recently appeared in the world premiere of Mary Page Marlowe. As a director, Ms. Marquez’ credits include Teatro Vista’s production of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinnerand the critically acclaimed production of Our Lady of the Underpass, which went on to receive a Jeff nomination for best production. More recently she directed the very well received productions of My Mañana Comes (Chicago premiere, Teatro Vista), andMen on the Verge of Hispanic Breakdown (Pride Films and Plays). As an actor, Ms. Marquez has worked at respected venues in Chicago and beyond including The Goodman Theater; Steppenwolf Theater; Victory Gardens; the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Madison Repertory; and New York’s off-Broadway house, Second Stage Theater, Uptown. A proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA, she has also worked in numerous industrial films and national commercials. Film and TV credits include: The Big Bang TheoryChicago CodeBossChicago Med and Timer. She has been a member of the theater faculty at Northwestern University since 1995.

MICHAEL POGUE (Aegisthus) returns to Court Theatre with Electra. He has appeared in their productions of AgamemnonTartuffeThe MisanthropeAngels in America, and Spunk. Other theater credits include: Dutchman (American Blues);  Carter's Wayand Venus (Steppenwolf); Stick Fly (Windy City Playhouse); Night and Day (Remy Bumppo); Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista); The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Hamlet(Oak Park Festival); Ruined and Six Degrees of Separation (Eclipse);  Saturday Night/Sunday Morning (Prologue); As You Like It and King Lear (Lakeside Shakespeare); Radio Golf (Raven); Lobby Hero (Redtwist); Panther Burn (MPAACT). Television credits include: Chicago Fire and Crisis (NBC).

TRACY WALSH (Choreographer/Chorus) returns to Court Theatre where she recently choreographed Agamemnon and choreographed and appeared inIphigenia in Aulis. She is an ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre Company where she has written, directed, acted in and choreographed shows over the years.  Tracy has also written and directed several shows for the Lookingglass Young Ensemble. She modified her most recent project with them, Handle With Care, into a two woman play which is now being performed at locations in the Chicago area. The play was commissioned by The Working Women's History Project and is about the importance of quality, affordable childcare. She and her husband own Lighthouse Yoga in Evanston.

DEXTER ZOLLICOFFER (Paedagogus) Other Court Theatre appearances include Water by the Spoonful and The Mystery Cycle: Creation and Passion. Most recently, Dexter appeared in Charm for Northlight Theatre in the Steppenwolf Garage (Jeff nominations for Best Actor, Best Ensemble, Best Production). Other theatre credits include: The Little FoxesDartmoor PrisonThe OdysseyBlues for an Alabama Sky, and A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre; To Kill a MockingbirdA Lesson Before Dying, and Pudd’nhead Wilson at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Relatively Close,Knock Me a Kiss and The Sutherland at Victory Gardens Theater; The Overwhelming at Next Theatre Company. Regionally, Mr. Zollicoffer appeared in Blues for an Alabama Sky at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Odyssey at McCarter Theatre Center and Seattle Repertory Theatre, Our Country’s Good at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Recruiting Officer and Our Country’s Good at Madison Repertory Theatre, Voice of Good Hope at BoarsHead Theater, and Permanent Collection at Indiana University Northwest. On television, Mr. Zollicoffer has been seen on Chicago Fire, Detroit 1-8-7,and the upcoming feature, Who Gets the Dog. He is an administrator at The Theatre School at DePaul University where he received best director, best ensemble, and Special Jury Prize nominations for his original work, Ma Fille, Ma Naturelle at the 6th annual International Theatre Festival of University Theatre in Tangier, Morocco. He is a 2011-2012 recipient of the Spirit of DePaul award given by DePaul’s Office of Mission and Values.

Now in its 62nd season, Court Theatre is guided by its mission to discover the power of classic theatre. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. Court revives lost masterpieces, illuminates familiar texts, and distinguishes fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.

Court Theatre's 2016/17 Season is sponsored by Barbara and Richard Franke. Electra is sponsored by The Karla Scherer Foundation.

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