Wednesday, November 28, 2012


League of Chicago Theatres’ 
annual Holiday Guide
highlights seasonal productions

The Chicago theater community will present a wide variety of festive plays and musicals, as well as dance and concert offerings this Holiday season.  In support, the League of Chicago Theatres will once again create a comprehensive Holiday Theater Guide that will be available in mid-November at hotels, theaters, events, and destinations across the Chicago area.  An updated list of holiday shows with additional details about each production will be available throughout the season at

ChiIL Live  and ChiIL will be reviewing many adult and family friendly theatre favs respectively--holiday themed and not--this month.   Check in with us like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often and we'll keep you up on Chi-town's must see shows.   Theatre season passes and show tickets make GREAT gifts.   We've highlighted our personal favorites in red below, out of The League of Chicago Theatres' List.

The following is a selection of Holiday-themed work playing in Chicago this season.

Classic Chicago favorites include:

The Goodman Theatre presents the beloved Chicago tradition, Charles Dickens’ classic A CHRISTMAS CAROL, November 17 - December 29, 2012.  We'll be there tonight 11/28 and will have a full review up shortly.

Capra’s holiday staple gets the 1940’s radio treatment with IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: THE RADIO PLAYnow in its eleventh year at American Theatre Company, November 15 – December 30, 2012, and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: LIVE AT THE BIOGRAPH! presented by American Blues Theater at Victory Gardens, November 23 – December 30, 2012.

The House Theatre presents its fantastical version of THE NUTCRACKER, weaving dance, text, and songs to tell a story of magic and mystery, November 8 – December 30, 2012.  The House Theatre's Nutcracker is one of our annual favs.   Highly recommended!   We caught them last year and again last week.  Check out our past House Nutcracker coverage here and we'll have a new full feature up soon.   Check out more of our features on The House Theatre including our original video interview with Dennis Watkins here.

THE SANTALAND DIARIES, David Sedaris’ beloved account of his time in the trenches as an Elf at Macy’s returns, now in its eighth year, starring Mitchell Fain at Theater Wit, November 23 – December 29, 2012.

The Mercury Theater presents the Chicago holiday favorite, THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER, November 23 – December 30, 2012.

Black Ensemble Theater presents THE OTHER CINDERELLA, a joyous retelling of the familiar fairy tale with an Afro-centric twist, November 23, 2012 – January 6, 2013.   We'll be catching this one for the press opening this Sunday 12/3.   Check back early and often for loads of theatre news and new reviews at ChiIL Live Shows and ChiIL Mama under our ACT OUT sections.

Holiday-themed musicals include:

Artistic Director Charles Newell and Music Director Doug Peck team up for a delightful reimagining of Court Theatre’s eccentric holiday classic, JAMES JOYCE’S “THE DEAD,” November 8 – December 9, 2012.

Fox Falley Repertory presents THE WINTER WONDERETTES a holiday musical full of classic “60s hits” and a missing Santa, at Pheasant Run Resort and Spa, November 15 – December 30, 2012.

Porchlight Music Theatre celebrates the true meaning of the holiday season with the new musical THE GIFTS OF THE MAGIat Stage 773, November 17 – December 30, 2012.

The National Pastime Theater presents HANNUKATZ THE MUSICAL, a totally new spin on Dreidl Days, November 29 – December 30, 2012.

Broadway in Chicago brings Dr. Seuss' classic to life in DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICALfeaturing the hit songs "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas," at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, December 5 – 16, 2012.   We can't wait to check this one out!  We'll be there for opening night on the 5th and we'll have a full review for you shortly.

Holiday comedies include:

The Second City presents a seasonal blend of hilarious scenes, songs, and improvisation in NUT-CRACKING HOLIDAY REVUE at Up Comedy Club, November 22 – December 30, 2012.

ComedySportz gets in the holiday spirit with IT’S A BIEBERFUL LIFE, a parody of the classic story featuring a fictional Justin Bieber visited by an angel with a distinct resemblance to Robert Pattinson, November 16 – December 29, 2012, as well as THE COMEDYSPORTZ CREW MEETS THE SNOW QUEEN, a special take on the Hans Christian Anderson story, November 17, 2012 – January 19, 2013.

Hell in a Handbag Productions returns to Mary’s Attic with the hilarious and politically-incorrect holiday escape RUDOLPH THE RED HOSED REINDEER, November 29 – December 30, 2012.

Dickens reaches his breaking point in CHARLES DICKENS BEGRUDGINGLY PERFORMS “A CHRISTMAS CAROL.” AGAIN., at the Building Stage, November 29 – December 24, 2012.

Chemically Imbalanced Comedy presents DIRTY 30’S CHRISTMAS, December 7, 2012 – January 19, 2013.

Music and Dance offerings include:

Dominican University Performing Arts presents A LEAHY FAMILY CHRISTMAS, a multifaceted Christmas-themed show combining music, dance, and song, December 1, 2012.

Chicago a capella brings NAVIDAD EN MEXICO, a concert of Mexican Christmas, at Nicholas Concert Hall, December 1 – December 9, 2012.

James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts presents THE MOSCOW BOYS CHOIR - CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD, December 4, 2012 only.

Chicago Tap presents TIDING OF TAP!, a dance celebration of all things wintry, including pieces recognizing Christmas, Chanukah and the snowy season at UIC Theater, December 14 – Dec 16, 2012.

Ruth Page Civic Ballet enchants the entire family with the classic ballet THE NUTCRACKER at James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts, December 15 and 16, 2012.  

MCA Stage presents Taiko Legacy, celebrating winter solstice with two of the world’s finest percussionists: Michael Zerang and Hamid Drake, at Edlis Neeson Theater, December 21 and 22, 2012.

Family-friendly holiday fare includes:

Piccolo Theatre presents BAH, HUMBUG!, a kid-friendly retelling of “A Christmas Carol” in Panto-fashion, at Evanston Arts Depot, November 9 – December 22, 2012.

Theatre of Western Springs presents MADELINE’S CHRISTMAS, based on the charming children’s story, November 30 – December 9, 2012.

Raven Theater presents the delightful holiday mystery SHERLOCK HOLMES THE CASE OF THE CHRISTMAS GOOSE, December 14 – December 30, 2012.

Other notable works include:

The 20th Anniversary Production of HELLCAB portrays the story of a cab driver in for the longest night of his life as he transports a bizarre and mysterious array of customers through the gritty streets of Chicago on Christmas Eve, at Profiles Theater, November 9 – December 23, 2012.   We caught opening night and were blown away.   Hellcab is highly recommended.   Do NOT miss this one.   The talent was immense and the giant curtain call alone is practically worth the admission price, and truly something to see.

The moving holiday story, A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE FOR JONATHAN TOOMEY, at Provision Theater, November 21 – December 23, 2012.

Street Tempo Theatre takes audiences on a seasonal adventure with singing, dancing, stories, interactive games and eggnog in IT'S A WONDERFUL SANTA LAND MIRACLE NUT-CRACKING CHRISTMAS STORY… JEWS WELCOME, at Stage 773, November 23 – December 30, 2012.

When a blizzard turns their neighborhood into a snowscape, three young adventurers climb out of their chimneys and create a new land in FOREVERENDIA, presented by The Black Ship Co. at the Athenaeum Theatre, November 29 – December 23, 2012.

Hot Tix
Hot Tix offers half-price tickets to more than 200 Chicago area theaters, full price tickets to all Ticketmaster events including concerts and sports, and Play Money gift certificates. Hot Tix tickets are always half-price and may be purchased up to a week in advance of the performance.  Hot Tix ticket centers are located in the Loop at72 E. Randolph Street, at the Chicago Tourism Center and on North Michigan Ave. at the Waterworks Visitors Center located at 163 E. Pearson. Hot Tix are available for purchase online at 

About Chicago theater
Chicago theater is the leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theaters throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theaters to the most renowned resident theaters in the country, including 5 which have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago’s theaters serve 5 million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. In 2009-10 alone Chicago theater companies produced more than 130 world premiere productions and adaptations. Each year Chicago theaters send new work to resident theaters across the country, to Broadway, and around the world. 

The League of Chicago Theatres’ Mission Statement
The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theaters which leverages its collective strength to promote, support and advocate for Chicago's theater industry locally, nationally and internationally. The League of Chicago Theatres Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the art of theater in the Chicago area through audience development and support services for theaters and theater professionals.

For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago website,  Discounted tickets are available at

Monday, November 26, 2012


Victory Gardens presents 
the World Premiere of


By Ensemble Playwright Philip Dawkins
Directed by Seth Bockley

Featuring Baize Buzan, Emjoy Gavino,
Mildred Marie Langford, Michael Salinas,
Matt Fletcher, Guy Massey, and Janet Ulrich Brooks

Richard Christiansen Theater at Victory Gardens
2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago

ChiIL Live shows will be there to check out opening night tonight.   Check back with us like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often for our full review.

Victory Gardens continues its 2012-13 season with the World Premiere of Failure: A Love Story, written by VG Ensemble Playwright Philip Dawkins and directed by Seth Bockley. The production runs November 16 – December 30, 2012 in the Richard Christiansen Theater at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. The Press Opening is Monday, November 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm.

1928 was the last year of each of the Fail Sisters’ lives. Nelly was the first to die, followed soon after by sisters, Jenny June and Gerty. As with many unforeseen circumstances in life—blunt objects, disappearances and consumption—they never saw death coming. Written by Chicago playwright Philip Dawkins, Failure: A Love Story is a magical, musical fable about the triumphs and aspirations of three sisters living in the rickety two-story building by the Chicago River which was the Fail family home and clock shop. This profoundly funny and moving holiday offering reminds us that in the end, all that remains is love.

Notes of Interest:
  • Victory Garden’s World Premiere of Failure: A Love Story will be Philip Dawkins’ first play produced at Victory Gardens Theater as a member of the new Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble.  Dawkins was inducted into the VG Playwright’s Ensemble this year along with Marcus Gardley, Samuel D. Hunter, and Tanya Saracho.
  • This marks Seth Bockley’s directing debut for Victory Gardens, having previously helmed productions at Sideshow, Collaboraction and Redmoon, to name a few.  Also a playwright, Bockley won the 2008 Jeff Citation for Best New Adaptation for Jon, from a story by George Saunders.  He is also a recipient of Theater Communications Group’s New Generations Grant. 
  • Failure: A Love Story will include popular songs of the era such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On the Farm,” as well as original tunes by Philip Dawkins titled “I Don't Need Anyone (Now I Have You)” and “An Ode To Johnny Weissmuller.”
  • This production is family friendly just in time for the holiday season.

“I'm extremely proud to present the world premiere of Failure: A Love Story by our new ensemble playwright Philip Dawkins,” says Victory Gardens Artistic Director Chay Yew. “With exuberant wit and sumptuous theatricality, Philip has written a wise, whimsical fable about finding success in what others deem as failure, living outside society's margins, and embracing life's unpredictable journey and pursuing what you love. I'm also proud to have one of the most innovative and fearless off-Loop directors, Seth Bockley, a Victory Gardens Associate, direct this production. A valentine to our great city of Chicago, I can’t think of a more perfect play for the holidays.”

This World Premiere production will feature popular songs from the time period as well as original compositions by Philip Dawkins.  The cast will accompany themselves on a variety of instruments including piano, oboe, accordion, and percussion. Elements of puppetry and object theater will also be woven into the show.

The cast of Failure: A Love Story includes Baize Buzan (Nelly Fail), Emjoy Gavino (Jenny June Fail), Mildred Marie Langford (Gertrude Fail), Michael Salinas (John N. Fail), Matt Fletcher (Mortimer Mortimer),Guy Massey (The Chorus), and Janet Ulrich Brooks (The Chorus).

The designers are Scott Davis (Set Designer), Mac Vaughey (Lighting Designer), Emily Tarleton (Costume Designer) and Charles Kim (Sound Designer). Will Bishop is the Assistant Director, Helen Lattyak is the Stage Manager.

(Estrogen Fest; Estrogenius Festival, NY; 16th Street Theatre, Berwyn; Painted Filly, Ireland.).  His plays for young folks have been performed all over the world and are published through Playscripts, Inc.  A graduate of Loyola University, Chicago, Philip is an Artistic Associate of About Face Theatre, an Ensemble Playwright at Victory Gardens, and a founding member, with artistic partner Eric C. Reda, of Chicago Opera Vanguard.  Philip teaches playwriting at Northwestern University and through the Victory Gardens ACCESS Program for writers with disabilities. 

About the Artists
Philip Dawkins’ (Playwright) critically-acclaimed play The Homosexuals received a Joseph Jefferson Nomination for New Work after its world premiere with About Face Theatre in the summer of 2011, under the direction of Bonnie Metzgar.  Further productions are planned for the 2012/13 seasons of The Ringwald Theater in Detroit and ManBites Dog Theater in North Carolina.  After premiering at Victory Gardens, Failure: A Love Story will be performed in Philadelphia at Azuka Theatre in summer 2013.  His new play, Stutter, was commissioned by the Goodman Theater and will receive a staged reading in December 2012.  Last fall, his play Miss Marxor The Involuntary Side Effect of Living received a staged reading as part of Steppenwolf’s First Look Series.  Other credits include Dead Letter Office (Dog and Pony Theatre); Yes to Everything! (Chicago, NY,CA, DC); Perfect (The Side Project); Ugly Baby (Chicago Opera Vanguard/Strawdog Theatre Company); A Still Life in Color (T.U.T.A. Company); and Saguaro
(Estrogen Fest; Estrogenius Festival, NY; 16th Street Theatre, Berwyn; Painted Filly, Ireland.).  His plays for young folks have been performed all over the world and are published through Playscripts, Inc.  A graduate of Loyola University, Chicago, Philip is an Artistic Associate of About Face Theatre, an Ensemble Playwright at Victory Gardens, and a founding member, with artistic partner Eric C. Reda, of Chicago Opera Vanguard.  Philip teaches playwriting at Northwestern University and through the Victory Gardens ACCESS Program for writers with disabilities. 

Seth Bockley (Director) is a Chicago-based director, playwright and performer. His directing credits include The Ugly One by Marius von Mayenburg (Sideshow Theater); Civilization (all you can eat) by Jason Grote (Clubbed Thumb, NYC); 1001 by Jason Grote; Jon, winner of the 2008 Jeff Citation for Best New Adaptation (Collaboraction); Winter Pageant 2010, Laika’s Coffin (Redmoon); and Guerra: A Clown Play (created with Mexico City’s La Piara). Writing credits include Elephant and the Whale (April 2013, Redmoon at Chicago Childrens’ Theatre); February House (with lyricist/composer Gabriel Kahane – Public Theater, NYC); Ask Aunt Susan (Goodman’s New Stages Amplified series in November 2011);The Twins Would Like To Say (Dog & Pony); Laika’s Coffin, and Boneyard Prayer (Redmoon). He has also penned adaptations of Jon andCommComm (from short stories by George Saunders). Bockley was a recipient of Theater Communications Group’s New Generations Grant, and is currently a playwright in residence at the Goodman Theater.
Baize Buzan (Nelly Fail) is performing at Victory Gardens for the first time with Failure: A Love Story. Chicago credits include Cripple of Inishmaan (Redtwist), The Sea (Theatre Mir), Walk Two Moons (Adventure Stage), Far Away (winterfall chicago), The Chicago Landmark Project (Theatre Seven) and Woyzeck (Oracle.) TV credits include Chicago Fire. Baize is a graduate of Vassar College and The School at Steppenwolf, and has also studied at the Moscow Art Theatre School. 

Emjoy Gavino (Jenny June Fail) has been seen in Seascape (Remy Bumppo), Wait Until Dark (Court Theatre), Working (Broadway Playhouse), Arabian Nights (Lookingglass Theatre), Next Stop (Route 66), Hair(Paramount Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), Wilson Wants it All (House Theatre), Cooperstown (Theatre Seven), A Very Neo-Futurist Christmas Carol (Neofuturists) and That’s Weird Grandma (Barrel of Monkeys). Regional credits include The Violet Hour, Into the Woods and the world premiere of The Joy Luck Club (Repertory Actor’s Theatre), Miss Saigon (5th Avenue Theatre/Bass Hall), Searching 4 Y (Village Theatre), Sadako (Book-it Repertory) and A Christmas Carol (ACT Theatre).

Mildred Marie Langford (Gertrude Fail) is making her Victory Gardens debut in Failure: A Love Story. Other Chicago credits include Freshly Fallen Snow at Chicago Dramatists, where she is a newly named Associate Artist; My Kind of Town and In Darfur at Timeline Theatre, where she serves as a new company member; An Actor Prepares (U of C Logan Center for the Arts); The Ghost is Here (Vitalist Theatre);13Clocks (Lifeline Theatre); Venus, The Twins Would Like To Say and The Crucible (Steppenwolf Theatre); Sinbad: The Untold Tale, The Ghost of Treasure Island and The Blue House (Adventure Stage); A Civil War Christmas (Northlight Theatre); Zulu Fits (MPAACT); War With The Newts and The Overwhelming (Next Theatre); and 12 Ophelias (Trap Door Theatre). Mildred is a graduate of George Mason University and The School at Steppenwolf. She also works as a teaching artist in the city and as a mentor for Adventure Stage Chicago's Mentorship Program.

Michael Salinas (John N. Fail) is making his Victory Gardens debut. As an ensemble member of Steep Theatre his credits include Festen, Under the Blue Sky, Pornography, A Brief History of Helen of TroyThe Hollow Lands, and In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings (Jeff Award-Best Ensemble). Also at Steep, he recently co-produced and performed in an off-night solo piece, The Gog/Magog Project. Other Chicago credits includeNight Over Erzinga (Silk Road Rising); Girl You Know It’s True (Pavement Group); Fedra: Queen of Haiti (Lookingglass); Mimesophobia (Theatre Seven); As Told by the Vivian Girls (Dog & Pony); and Hatfield & McCoy (The House). He has also worked with Collaboraction, The Gift, Steppenwolf, and The Goodman. Regional credits include Laura Eason’s The Vast In-Between (Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival in Steamboat Springs, CO); Spinning Into Butter (Southern Repertory Theatre in New Orleans); and Romeo & Juliet (The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane). Film credits include Freshman Orientation (Sundance Premiere).

Matt Fletcher (Mortimer Mortimer) is making his Victory Gardens debut. Matt serves as Producing Artistic Director with Sideshow Theatre Company, where he was most recently seen in Idomeneus at the DCASE Storefront Theatre; other Sideshow work includes HeddatronStrangerland, Theories of the SunEverything Freezes: another winter's tale, and Dante Dies!! (and then things get weird). Other performance credits include As Told by the Vivian Girls with Dog and Pony Theatre Company, two seasons with The Lost Colony, as well as a staged reading of Third with Jane Alexander at Hollins University. Matt is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he received his BA in Drama.
Guy Massey (The Chorus) has performed in plays with The Steppenwolf Theater, The Gift Theater, Shaw Chicago, A Red Orchid Theater, Theater Wit, Rivendell Theater, The Curious Theatre Branch, Theater Oobleck, Eclipse Theater, Greasy Joan & Co., Prop Thtr, Teatro Vista, Next Theater, and Wisdom Bridge, among others.  Most recently, he has worked with The Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and here in Chicago, just finished a production of Tigers Be Still with Theater Wit, as well as playing “The Creature” in the Neo-Futurists’ smash up of Pinocchio/Frankenstein.  With Theater Oobleck, he played “George W Bush” in The Strangerer both Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theater in Manhattan and in Chicago at the Chopin Theater.  His earliest film credits include the 1980’s cult classic Three O’Clock High and the latest are At Any PriceThe PromotionStranger Than FictionContagion, and Fred Claus.  Television credits include BossShameless and the Pilot Episodes of The Mob DoctorThe BeastThe Line, and The Chicago Code.
Janet Ulrich Brooks (The Chorus) was last seen at Victory Gardens in Jacob & Jack. She is a TimeLine Company Member and has appeared in more than 10 productions, most recently A Walk in the Woods and All My Sons. Other credits include South of Settling (Steppenwolf Theatre), Ten Chimneys (Northlight Theatre), The Original Grease (American Theater Co.), Pony (About Face Theatre), The Seagull and A True History of the Johnstown Flood (Goodman Theatre). Other Chicago credits include Golda’s Balcony (Pegasus Players, Non-Equity Jeff Award – Outstanding Solo Performance) and work with Strawdog Theatre, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Writers' Theatre and Collaboraction. Janet's film credits include FoolsConvictionPolish BarI Heart Shakey, and One Small Hitch, and her television credits include BossUnderemployedThe Chicago Code and The Playboy Club.

Full performance schedule
Regular performances run through December 30, 2012: Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 4 pm; Sunday at 3 pm.  Regular performances are $35-$50.

There will be additional performances on Wednesday, December 19 at 2:00 pm and Wednesday, December 26 at 7:30 pm.

Performances are in the Richard Christiansen Theater at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.  For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens Box Office, 773.871.3000 (TTY: 773.871.0682)

email, or visit  Ask the Box Office about student tickets ($15), senior, Access, 20 for $20, and rush discounts.  For group discounts, call 773.328.2136.
A full and updated schedule of special events, post show discussions and presentations centered around performances of Failure: A Love Story is available at
Audio description and touch tours for patrons who are blind or have low vision

Friday, December 14     Touch Tour        6:00pm             Performance 7:30pm
Sunday, December 23  Touch Tour        1:30pm             Performance 3:00pm                                                                 
Call 773.871.3000 for reservations.

Word for word captioning for patrons who are hearing impaired
Wednesday, December 19 at 2:00pm                           
Friday, December 21 at 7:30pm
Saturday, December 22 at 4:00pm
Sign language interpretation for patrons who are deaf or hearing impaired
Friday, December 21 at 7:30pm

Victory Gardens is the winner, Best Accessible Theater, Deaf Illinois Awards 2009.  See and click on “Enhance Your Visit” for information on other Access services including large print and Braille programs, assisted listening devices, and artist development workshops as well as a full schedule of special events, post-show discussions and presentations.
Logistics and Amenities
$11 valet parking is available for all performances except weekday matinees. Metered and street parking is available, but mind the neighborhood parking restrictions.
Public transit
By CTA train, take the Red, Purple or Brown lines to the Fullerton stop.  Walk east on Fullerton to Lincoln, then north 1/2 block to the theater.   The #8 Halsted, #11 Lincoln,  #37 Sedgwick/Ogden, and #74 Fullerton CTA buses all stop at the corner of Fullerton and Halsted, 1/2 block south of the theater.  See for times and routes.

Pre- and post-show dining
See for a list of Victory Gardens’ neighborhood dining partners.  Each is within walking distance of the Biograph, and all offer a special discount to patrons who present a Victory Gardens ticket stub.

About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Executive Director Jan Kallish, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals. Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theatre work and cultivating an inclusive theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools,  bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.  

Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Our commitment to developing, supporting and producing new theatre work makes Victory Gardens an American Center for New Plays.

In 2006, Victory Gardens successfully completed an $11.8 million renovation of Chicago’s famed Biograph Theater, and moved two blocks north from its longtime venue at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, to its beautiful new home in one of Chicago’s most celebrated historic landmarks.  Renamed Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, the new venue is a state-of-the-art 299-seat mainstage which has greatly expanded the company’s artistic flexibility.

In 2009, Victory Gardens completed the second phase of renovation at the Biograph, building an intimate, new, 109-seat studio theater on the second floor.  On March 1, 2010, at a special launch event for Victory Gardens $1 million Campaign for Growth, the theater’s new studio was officially named the Richard Christiansen Theater, in honor of the Chicago Tribune chief critic emeritus and longtime champion of Chicago’s live theater scene.  Visit for more details.

Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from Alphawood Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Allstate Insurance, The Boeing Company, Crown Family Philanthropies, Leo S. Guthman Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, Polk Bros. Foundation, and REAM Foundation. Additional funding is provided by: Illinois Arts Council (a state agency), The Edgerton Foundation, The James S. Kemper Foundation, Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Sara Lee Foundation, Venturous Theater Fund, McVay Foundation, The Seabury Foundation, Wrightwood Neighbors Conservation Association, The Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, Illinois Tool Works, Motorola Mobility Foundation, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, a City Arts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, The Irving Harris Foundation, PNC Foundation, and The Saints.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hitchcock Opens TODAY #Review

Looking for a little escape from or with the adults in your family this holiday weekend?   Hitchcock opens today.   We had a chance to catch Hitchcock at an early press preview on Tuesday and highly recommend it.   

Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock in Sacha Gervasi's HITCHCOCK

HITCHCOCK is a love story about one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century, Alfred (Anthony Hopkins) Hitchcock and his wife and partner Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). The film takes place during the making of Hitchcock's 
seminal movie PSYCHO.

Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins in Sacha Gervasi's HITCHCOCK

The casting for Hitchcock is spot on, and it was a pleasure to see the strong, smart, creative woman behind the genius finally get her due.   This film is more of a relationship flick than horror film, although Hitchcock's lecherous voyeurism, leading lady crushes and obsessions are a bit horrifying.   It's cool to get a glimpse into the Hollywood machine of yesteryear, when morality and censorship resulted in suggestions of sex and violence much scarier still than some of today's show all, tell all bloodbaths.

Jessican Biel as Vera Miles, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh and James D'Arcy as 
Anthony Perkins in Sacha Gervasi's HITCHCOCK

I'm also a sucker for films about projects that were dinged and turned down repeatedly and then ended up being huge success stories.   I love the message of determination, believing in yourself, and gambling all on an idea that everyone said couldn't be done.

Hitchcock's film have changed our society, stood the test of time, and inspired countless creatives in the horror genre.   Whether you're a fan or merely curious, this film is well worth the time to check out.   I'm completely enamored with Alma (Helen Mirren), the Hitchcock who used to be Alfred's boss, and who gets the job done with competency, creativity and brilliant insight.   She stands behind and beside her famous husband even when he was difficult to live with and put their home and all their savings on the line to make a questionable investment in Psycho.   She is every bit as much of a true Hitchcock genius as her husband ever was.   

Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh in Sacha Gervasi's HITCHCOCK

Despite a PG13 rating, we'd recommend saving this one for the adults--not because it's particularly violent, but because of the complex adult relational themes.   The acting is excellent, and the subject matter is compelling.   So go already.

Click here for advanced tickets, more info and show times/locations near you.

ACT OUT: Free Ticket #Giveaway SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody

Drew Moerlein as Hugh Hanson in "SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody"

We can't wait to check out SPANK! on opening night, November 30th!   We've also got 2 free opening night tickets for one of our lucky readers.   Enter right here for your chance to win.   Open through midnight November 26th.

SPANK! is written and directed by Jim Millan (Kids In The Hall, Marijuanalogues with Tommy Chong, etc.)  The show is not associated with, nor authorized by, author E.L. James or Vintage Press.

Drew Moerlein as Hugh Hanson, Michelle Vezilj as Tasha Woode and Amanda Barker as EB Janet in "SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody"

*Wait for Rafflecopter to load up right here (if you've gone through RSS feed or are scrolling down the blog and don't see it, click on the actual page title or "a Rafflecopter giveaway link" and it should pop right up).   Enter like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The hilarious and naughty parody of Fifty Shades of Grey
will dominate audiences at Chicago’s Royal George Theatre
for three weeks only, starting Wednesday, November 28.
Tickets on sale now.

SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody, the hilarious and naughty new parody of Fifty Shades of Grey, will dominate willing audiences at the Royal George Theatre Main Stage, 1641 N. Halsted, in a limited three-week engagement starting Wednesday evening, November 28. The production, which premiered in Springfield, MA earlier this month, is produced by Mills Entertainment, and  is being presented in Chicago  by the Just For Laughs Group.

SPANK! is a high energy parody of Fifty Shades of Grey, the risqué novel which recently surpassed Harry Potter to become the fastest selling paperback of all time.  SPANK! was written and directed by Jim Millan, whose credits include The Kids in the Hall, Larry King Standing Up, Marijuanalogues with Tommy Chong, and Mythbusters Live. For all the dirty details on SPANK! visit

Michael Mills, the producer of SPANK!, says audience members can expect “a laugh-filled evening that captures all the escapist fun and absurdity of the novel. TheFifty Shades characters are brought to life with sexy and fun musical numbers – think part SNL, part Chippendale’s - and even those who haven’t read the book will get it!”

SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody will be staged at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted, for a limited three-week engagement, starting Wednesday, Nov. 28. The performance schedule is as follows: Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 5 and 8pm; and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets, priced at $52.50 and $42.50, are now on sale online at; by calling  (800) 982.2787 or (312) 988-9000; or visiting the Royal George box office. A limited number of VIP tickets, offering premium seating, a cast meet & greet, and beverage, are priced at $75 and available for each performance.  The perfect Girls Night Out or a sassy book group outing, discounted tickets are available for groups of ten or more.  For reservations, call GroupTix at 773/327-3778 or

This show is not associated with, nor authorized by, author E.L. James or Vintage Press.
Founded in 1983, the Just For Laughs Group’s growth is concentrated on four major focal points: Festivals (in Montreal, Toronto and Chicago); television production (most notably Gags seen in 135 countries and on 95 airlines); live shows (Canadian tour dates for Jerry Seinfeld, Jeremy Hotz, John Pinette, Louis C.K., the Capital One Just For Laughs Comedy Tour, North American dates for Family Guy Live!); and talent management. The Group has offices in Montreal, Paris, Los Angeles, Toronto, London, and in a dark alley at the end of the street.
Mills Entertainment is a leading producer and promoter of branded live entertainment. Mills collaborates with top brands and personalities to develop, market and produce live theatrical events throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Current projects include The Cake Boss: Bakin’ with the Boss Tour, An Evening with Cesar Millan: Dog Whisperer, Clifford the Big Red Dog Live!, Theresa Caputo Live, and Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild Live.

Drew Moerlein as Hugh Hanson in "SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody"

SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody
Royal George Theatre Main Stage
Limited Run November 28 – December 16

SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody is the hilarious new musical that brings all the naughty fun of the best-selling book to life in a parody that captures the escapist fun and absurdity of the novel in one laugh-filled, high-energy show. A bit SNL, a bit Chippendales, SPANK! delivers non-stop laughs, sexy fun, and lots of surprises. Don't miss the show that has Chicago all a buzz!

Drew Moerlein as Hugh Hanson in "SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody"

Click here for Royal George Theatre's official site for advanced tickets and more information.

Michelle Vezilj as Tasha Woode and Drew Moerlein as Hugh Hanson in "SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody"

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