Wednesday, July 30, 2014

ACT OUT: Three Oaks Theater Festival Presents Seanachai Theatre's Hughie

The second season of the Three Oaks Theater Festival wraps up this weekend with Seanachai Theatre’s Hughie, featuring Bard Armacost. 

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows, we adore Three Oaks, MI. It's close enough to Chicago for a weekend getaway or summer home and yet it's worlds away from the traffic jams, heat, and hustle of city summers. Just because you escape the less savory elements of the city, that doesn't mean you have to leave culture and great theatre behind. Some of Chicago's best performers, and many favorites of ours are escaping to Three Oaks too! Check it out!

By Eugene O’Neill
Presented by Seanachaí Theatre Company
Directed by Kevin Fox
Featuring Brad Armacost
Friday, August 1, 8:00pm ET (7:00pm CT)
Saturday, August 2, 8:00pm ET (7:00pm CT)
Performed at Lakeside Inn, 15251 Lakeshore Rd, Lakeside, MI
Ticket prices: $25
Ages: 16+

Check out the fun trailer, featuring local residents of Harbor Country:

Eugene O’Neill’s classic two-character play is set in the lobby of a hotel early one morning in the late 1920s. Its characters are the hotel's gray and withdrawn night clerk, and "Erie" Smith, a penny-ante gambler who has spent most of his last 15 years at the hotel between periods of drunkenness. His most recent bender was prompted by the death of the title character, who was the night clerk's predecessor. Erie babbles through tales of his life's imaginary successes, as well as his panicky optimism for the future. The night clerk can only listen to this study in fraudulent glibness, which is touching, revealing and a telling measure of what is behind this man's delusions. O'Neill renders a palpable journey into Erie's soul that both invites and compels us to join Erie in supportive community along his path of mourning to ultimate redemption.

About the season
Co-founders John Stoops, Tim Evans, and Marc Grapey proudly present the second season of Three Oaks Theater Festival, a summer theater festival that brings limited-engagement runs of highly-acclaimed, professional productions to audiences in Harbor Country, Michigan.  This expanded season is being performed in creative venues throughout Harbor Country, including the Acorn Theater, Vickers Theatre, and the historic Lakeside Inn.  Three Oaks Theater Festival is presented with major support by The Pokagon Fund.

The 2014 Three Oaks Theater Festival presented the family-friendly Blair Thomas & Co.’s A Piano with Three Tales; Dennis Watkins’ The Magic Parlour; a staged reading of TimeLine Theatre’s The Normal Heart; David Lutken in Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie; Jackalope Theatre’s Exit Strategy; and will produce the upcoming Seanachaí Theatre Company’s Hughie.

About Three Oaks
Three Oaks, Michigan, located about 70 miles from Chicago, has approximately 1,600 residents.  Despite its size, the quaint Village is remarkably well-developed in the arts with a live performance venue, art house movie theater and galleries featuring the work of established and emerging artists.  Chamberlain Path, located steps from the main street, has been turned into a sculpture garden featuring monumental sculptures by local and national artists.  The town also hosts two annual art festivals; the Art Attack weekend and Art in the Park.  Meanwhile, Dewey Cannon Park is home to Music in the Park, a free concert series held every Saturday during the summer.  Perhaps most indicative of the town’s quirky, artistic spirit, Three Oaks is one of the few villages in the country with the official position of Village Poet Laureate.

Information and tickets are available at or call 866-811-4111.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ACT OUT EXTENDED: Rick Bayless in Cascabel: DINNER – DARING – DESIRE Now Through 8/31 #OriginalVideo #PhotoRecap


In the Goodman Theatre’s Owen Bruner Theatre
July 30 – August 31, 2014


ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows were elated to be included in a private press breakfast at Frontera Grill with Co-Creators Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill) and Heidi Stillman (Hephaestus, Hard Times) & flamenco dancer extraordinaire, Chiara Mangiameli when the Cascabel remount was first announced way back in October. We've been raving about what's sure to be the event of the season ever since.  We can't wait to see it! Check back early and often for our original content, video interviews, reviews, photos and more.

ChiIL Live Shows' 
Rick Bayless Expounds on 

The Cascabel Remount

October: Rick Bayless, celebrity chef/owner Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, XOCO Chicago and Heidi Stillman, Lookingglass Ensemble Member  and  Artistic Director of New Work announce the return of an extraordinary culinary and theatrical event at a special food-infused press conference held at Frontera Grill. Guests were treated to a sneak peak at the event while enjoying enchanting acts and delicious hors d’oeuvres from Frontera Grill.  

Check out our full set of stills from the press conference here: 

Favorites are embedded below.

Lookingglass Theatre, Frontera Grill and Silverguy Entertainment announce an extension to the wildly popular return of Rick Bayless in Cascabel: Dinner – Daring – Desire, the unforgettable theatrical adventure featuring a sumptuous feast, world-class circus acts, and a tantalizing love story starring celebrity chef Rick Bayless that had Chicago audiences spellbound when it premiered in spring 2012. The extremely limited engagement is co-created by Rick Bayless, Lookingglass Ensemble Member Heidi Stillman (Hephaestus, The Brothers Karamazov, Hard Times), and Artistic Associate and founder of Silverguy Entertainment Tony Hernandez (Hephaestus, Lookingglass Alice). 

Cascabel runs at the Goodman Theatre’s Owen Bruner Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, now playing July 30 –August 31, 2014. 
Cascabel will feature the return of Rick Bayless in the role of Cook; Lookingglass Artistic Associate Tony Hernandez on the high wire as the Houseboy; Chiara Mangiameli as Señora of the Boardinghouse Cascabel; Lookingglass Ensemble Member Thomas J. Cox as Suitor and Artistic Associate Lindsey Noel Whiting as Daughter. Carlo Basile returns as Musician, with new cast members Heloise Bourgeois (Solitary Traveler), Genevieve Drolet (Bathing Chica), William Underwood (Solitary Traveler), Daniel Passer (Gardener), Lauren Katz (Gardener’s Wife), and J. Salome Martinez (Maitre d').

Cascabel's Coming:
This one-of-a-kind experience played to sold out houses in 2012 and had the Chicago Tribune exclaiming, “there’s nothing even remotely like it in Chicago!”  Now the unforgettable theatrical adventure is back for a limited engagement with a new menu, new circus elements, and at a new venue. Cascabel is sensory dining unlike anything you’ve ever experienced: it’s a sumptuous gourmet Mexican feast, world-class circus acts, exhilarating flamenco, hilarious comedy and a tantalizing love story starring celebrity chef Rick Bayless.

Cascabel audiences will join the guests of the boardinghouse Cascabel at their courtyard table where they will enjoy the same meal the Chef is preparing for the boarding house residents. From his meager kitchen, the mysterious new cook conjures an enchanting cuisine, which seems to give those who eat it fantastic and magical abilities. But he is singularly focused on the proprietress of the house, a melancholy woman with no interest in his food, who barely ever leaves her room. Will she ever try a bite? And what will happen if she does?

Lookingglass season subscriptions and tickets to Rick Bayless in Cascabel are available online,; by phone, (312) 337-0665; or at the Lookingglass Theatre box office, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. For more information and box office hours, visit

Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays.  The lobby opens at 7:00pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, and at 5:00pm on Sundays. Tickets start at $215. Each ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, a three-course dinner, and wine and beer selected by Chef Bayless.  Prices may increase, based on demand. Information on wine pairings, food allergies and dietary restrictions is available at

Lookingglass Artistic Director Andy White comments, "Cascabel really redefined what an evening at the theater could be.  This is an elemental fusion of gourmet dining, thrilling circus spectacle, and a hilarious and joyous evening of theater.  The 2012 production caught fire and sold out immediately, and we have little doubt that this production at the Goodman will be even more enthralling, breathtaking, and delicious."

Rick Bayless adds, “We had such a great time during the first production of Cascabel, a show that brings together a passion for dining, theatrical storytelling and circus.  These complementary elements will continue to give audiences an experience like never before.  I look forward to further collaboration with Lookingglass and Silverguy Entertainment as we share this thrilling experience—maybe even with a few new surprises.”

The Presenting Sponsors of Cascabel are Hillshire Brands, KPMG and PNC Bank.  In-Kind Sponsors of Cascabel include Badoit, Evian, Herraduna, Negra Modelo and Turlato Wines.

Season subscriptions and tickets to Rick Bayless in Cascabel are available online,; by phone, (312) 337-0665; or at the Lookingglass Theatre box office, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. For more information and box office hours, visit

Co-created by:  Rick Bayless, Tony Hernandez and Heidi Stillman
Co-directed by:  Tony Hernandez and Heidi Stillman

Dates:                               Previews:                     July 30 – August 1, 2014
                                    Run:                            August 2 – 31, 2014
Times:                          Tuesdays:                    7:00 p.m.
                                    Wednesdays:                7:00 p.m.
                                    Thursdays:                   7:00 p.m.
                                    Fridays:                        7:00 p.m.
                                    Saturdays:                    7:00 p.m.
                                    Sundays:                      5:00 p.m.

Location:          Goodman Theatre’s Owen Bruner Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn
Prices:             Tickets are $215-$375
Box Office:       Buy online at
or by phone at (312) 337-0665
The Lookingglass box office is located at Water Tower Water Works,
821 N. Michigan Ave.

Information on wine pairings, food allergies and dietary restrictions is available at

About the Artists:
Rick Bayless (Co-Creator/Cook) Most people know him from his highly rated on-going public television series "Mexico - One Plate at a Time" and from his seven cookbooks. His side-by-side award-winning restaurants in Chicago were founded in 1987: the casual Frontera Grill and the 4-star Topolobampo.  In 2007, Frontera Grill won for Outstanding Restaurant by the James Beard Organization.  His award-winning Frontera line of salsas, grilling sauces and organic chips can be found coast to coast. Rick Bayless has won James Beard awards for Midwest Chef of the Year, National Chef of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year. "Mexico-One Plate at a Time" is currently in its ninth season on PBS and Rick’s book Mexican Everyday was nominated for a James Beard Award. XOCO, Rick's latest restaurant, is LEED certified and is known for house-ground chocolate. He was also recently crowned Bravo’s Top Chef Master. Rick’s seventh book, Fiesta at Rick’s spent the summer of 2011 on the New York Times Best Seller list. He has a total of eight cookbooks.

Tony Hernandez (Co-Creator/Artistic Associate/Houseboy) currently lives in New York where he serves as the Circus Artistic Director and Coach for the multi Tony award hit Pippin the Musical on Broadway in NYC. Tony recently finished performing over 1200 shows at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for their production Absinthe, where he wrote and created the final highwire act. Tony appeared in Anna Shapiro's Up at Steppenwolf, and is an Artistic Associate at Lookingglass where he has acted in numerous shows including Lookingglass Alice, Argonautica, Hard Times and others including Hephaestus, which he created, co-produced/wrote/directed and played the title role. Tony originated the role of Benito in Cascabel, which he also produced and co wrote/directed in 2012.

Heidi Stillman (Co-Creator/Artistic Director of New Work/Ensemble Member) most recently adapted and directed The North China Lover. She has both written and directed for Lookingglass: Cascabel, in collaboration with Tony Hernandez and Rick Bayless; Hephaestus, in collaboration with Tony Hernandez; The Brothers Karamazov (2009 Raven award); Hard Times (5 Jeff awards including director, new work, and production; also produced at the Arden in Philadelphia); The Master and Margarita (Jeff nominated). Additional writing credits with Lookingglass: The Last Act of Lilka Kadison with Nicola Behrman, David Kersnar, Abbie Phillips and Andy White; The Old Curiosity Shop with Laura Eason and Raymond Fox (Jeff award for adaptation), and The Baron in the Trees with Larry DiStasi (Jeff nominated). Directing work with Lookingglass includes Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Trust, The Wooden Breeks, and Hillbilly Antigone. Heidi’s adaptation of The Book Thief premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre. Additionally, Heidi has staged Laura Eason’s Around the World in 80 Days at Kansas City Repertory, and Mary Zimmerman’s The Arabian Nights at Berkeley Repertory.

Carlo Basile (Musician) has a Master's Degree in Classical Guitar Performance from NEIU and he has also studied Spanish flamenco guitar in Andalusia (Spain). He has visited more than 30 countries to gather musical materials, perform, teach and collaborate. Carlo has taught guitar workshops in Hanoi, Vietnam; Chang Mai, Thailand; and Cebu, Philippines. He has collaborated with musicians in Cuba, India, Senegal, Morocco and Bali, Indonesia. Carlo founded the Spanish guitar-influenced ensemble Las Guitarras de España (The Guitars of Spain), and his latest projects include a Spanish guitar Otis Redding tribute called "King of Soul" along with a world fusion ensemble based around his "Spanish Guitar Duo" (with guitarist, Diego Alonso). Carlo has co-produced and co-written music for 5 CDs and he most recently recorded some traditional Spanish melodies and rhythms on a new CD with some of these works being featured in Cascabel. Info at:

Heloise Bourgeois (Solitary Traveler) was introduced to acrobatics at the age of five. After getting a University diploma, her dreams of travelling led her into the world of circus. Three years at the National circus school of Montreal, Canada, made her a Hand to Hand flyer with Will Underwood. She performed around the world with The 7 Fingers from 2005 to 2012 in the shows Traces and Psy.  During this time, she was introduced to Chinese Pole, Hoop Diving, and aerials. Now she works as a pair with Will on the pole and in hand-to-hand.  The pair received 4 gold medals for their Chinese pole duo in the last 3 years in various festivals (Festival de Demain, Paris; Solycirco, Germany; Vaudreuil, Canada). Over the years of travel and performances, Heloise’s experiences and encounters led her to create a touching universe on the frontier of dance, theater and contemporary circus.

Thomas J. Cox (Suitor/Ensemble Member) is a founding ensemble member of Lookingglass, with whom he has done more than thirty productions including The Odyssey, The Jungle, West, The Master and Margarita, Algren in For Keeps and a Single Day, Winston in 1984, Old Curiosity Shop, The Great Fire, and Big Lake, Big City. He has been seen at Victory Gardens, Court, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Milwaukee Rep, and Northlight (including Outgoing Tide with John Mahoney and Rondi Reed, which also traveled to the Galway Arts Festival). He serves as the Master Teacher for Lookingglass’ Education and Community Programs, and he has been adjunct faculty at Northwestern and UIC. Film/TV: Since You've Been Gone (Miramax) and "Brotherhood" (Showtime).

Genevieve Drolet (Bathing Chica) has been working in the circus for twenty years. She specializes in handbalancing and aerial techniques. Between tours, travel and shows, she also found the time to write a few novels that were very well received by critics and the public. She now works as a freelancer, performing all over the world with major circus companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Éloize, The 7 Fingers of the Hand, and many others.

Lauren Katz (Gardener's Wife) returns to work with Lookingglass Theatre after having last been seen on its stage in Wants and Needs and Great Men of Science Nos. 21 & 22.  Chicago/NY credits include Up (Steppenwolf Theatre), When The Messenger is Hot (Steppenwolf Theatre/59E59th Street Theatre), Filmdome (Victory Gardens), SKL (Steppenwolf), ED (Remains Theatre).  TV credits include "Arrested Development," "Parks & Recreation," "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Film credits include “Highball,” “Kicking and Screaming,” “Mr. Jealousy,” “Rudy,” “Women in Trouble” and the upcoming “Confessions of a Teenage Mormon.” Lauren studied and taught at The Piven Theatre Workshop and received her BFA from DePaul University.

Chiara Mangiameli (Señora) A native Italian, Chiara Mangiameli is the artistic director of Studio Mangiameli and Boutique Flamenca in Chicago's Logan Square. She has lived and studied in Seville, Spain, studying flamenco under the guidance of some of the great dancers and singers of the Andalusian art form. Ms. Mangiameli is the co-founder of the music trio Idilio, with which she released her debut album in 2009, and has collaborated with some of Chicago's most critically acclaimed groups including Las Guitarras De España, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, Chicago Sinfonietta and Fulcrum Point. A graduate of The Theater School at De Paul University, Ms. Mangiameli appeared in Mary Zimmerman's The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci and A Time of the Cuckoo at New York's Lincoln Center.

J. Salome Martinez (Maitre d') has appeared previously at the Lookingglass Theatre in Big Lake Big City. Other theater credits include How Long Will I Cry? (Steppenwolf Theatre); After (Profiles Theatre); As You Like It, Man of La Mancha, The Seagull (Constans Theatre); and A Christmas Carol (Hippodrome State Theatre). Some of his television and film credits include “Law & Order,” “Castle,” “Generation Kill” (HBO, Emmy Award), “New York, I Love You” and the Oscar Award-nominated film “The Messenger.” He received his BA in theatre from Barat College and his MFA in acting from the University of Florida.

Daniel Passer (Gardener) For the past 10 years, he has been a lead clown and comedy conceptor with Cirque du Soleil and Franco Dragone (Zarkana – Radio City Music Hall & World Tour, Banana Shpeel – Beacon Theatre,  Le Reve – Wynn Las Vegas).  He has made several Film/Television appearances – most recently, "Boychoir" directed by Francois Girard.  He has taught Clowning and Commedia at Harvard, CalArts, The Moscow Art Theatre and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Daniel is a graduate of the A.R.T. Institute at Harvard and was the U.S. Representative to the International Commedia dell’Arte Festival in Italy.

William Underwood (Solitary Traveler) was born and raised in San Francisco, California.  He trained with Chinese acrobatics from an early age under master trainer Mr. Lu Yi at the San Francisco Circus Center.  He continued his training at the National Circus School in Montreal, and graduated in 2005 specializing in Hand to Hand with his partner Heloise Bourgeois.  He participated in the creation and performance of Traces, and Psy by the company “The 7 Fingers” over the period of 7 years.  In 2012, he created a duo Chines Pole act with Heloise, and began freelancing in cabarets, events, and festivals around the world.  They have received recognition internationally for their work on the Pole, including the gold medal in “Cirque de Demain” in Paris, the silver medal in Nikulin Festival in Moscow, and the silver medal in “Deidogei” festival in Japan.  William continues to perform, collaborate on new projects, and create new material in an effort to push his limits as a performer, and share his work.

Lindsey Noel Whiting (Daughter) Previous Lookingglass credits include The Great Fire, Icarus and Lookingglass Alice. Regionally, Lindsey has performed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Alliance Theatre and Syracuse Stage. Chicago credits include: The Snow Queen (Victory Gardens); Once Upon A Time (or The Secret Language of Birds), The Golden Truffle, The Cabinet, and Sink, Sank, Sunk (Redmoon); as well as several circus at Actors Gymnasium. Lindsey is also a member of Barrel of Monkeys and performs with Mucca Pazza, a circus punk marching band.

About Lookingglass Theatre Company
Lookingglass Theatre Company is the recipient of the 2011 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. The company is home to a multi-disciplined collective of artists who create original, story-centered theatre through a physical and improvisational rehearsal process centered on ensemble. Now in its 26th Season, the company has staged more than sixty world premieres and garnered numerous awards. Lookingglass productions have toured to more than a dozen cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City, Louisville, Atlanta and Washington D.C. Lookingglass is located in Chicago’s landmark Water Tower Water Works on the Magnificent Mile.

About Frontera Grill
Frontera Grill was named “Outstanding Restaurant” by the 2007 James Beard Foundation Awards. Frontera Grill uses beautiful ingredients to bring to you the bold flavors and immediate freshness that jump off the tongue just as it does in Mexico. Visit to learn more.

About Silverguy Entertainment
Founded in 1998 by Tony Hernandez and Lijana Wallenda Hernandez, Silverguy is a live action theatrical circus company that consists of members of the world-famous Wallenda family and former members of Ringling Bros., Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group. Tony created Lookingglass’ smash hit circus odyssey Hephaestus, in which he and Lijana (along with daredevil Nik Wallenda) participated in the death-defying, seven-person highwire pyramid.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pandora Summer Party Featuring Cold War Kids at Concord Music Hall FREE With RSVP (21+)

You are invited to the first ever Pandora Summer Party in Chicago! 

Come ChiIL out in Chi, IL with ChiIL Live Shows and ChiIL Mama THIS Thursday.  Click HERE to join us.

Date: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Time: 7pm - 10pm
Location: Concord Music Hall - 2047 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL

Kick off the biggest festival weekend in Chicago with Pandora!  Join us for an exclusive, free performance by Cold War Kids, giveaways and cocktails at one of Chicago’s hottest concert venues.

Join the concert conversation with #PandoraSummerParty and follow @pandora_radio on Twitter!

RSVP will be on a first come, first served basis and capped at venue capacity.

RSVP does not guarantee admission if capacity is reached.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gone Phishin' Thanks To The Illinois Lottery Anything’s Possible® Music Series! #APMusicSeries

I seriously felt like I WON The Illinois Lottery when we got the e-mail asking ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows if we'd like to partner up with Illinois Lottery and cover the Phish Concert Saturday night! My friend, D'Arcy, and I got the VIP treatment courtesy of The Illinois Lottery Anything’s Possible® Music Series! The view from the VIP deck at First Merit Bank Pavilion, Northerly Island was fabulous and we had a rockin' good time.

Disclosure:  Thanks to The Illinois Lottery Anything’s Possible® Music Series for providing me with 2 VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are my own.

Of course I couldn't get my pro camera in, so I made do with the kids' point n shoot and my phone, so the photos don't do the experience justice. If you follow ChiIL Mama on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook you've already had a real time sneak peek. 

It was truly a night to remember! Here's our Full Slide Show and we've embedded favorites below.

We had both ends of the continuum represented. My +1 D'Arcy had never seen a Phish show, so it was an incredibly fun way to see a first show. 

And I've been seeing Phish for 20+ years.
I've traveled to see them at The Gorge in Washington State, Las Vegas, Alpine Valley, Deer Creek, NYE 2000 in The Everglades and every Chicago show possible...UIC Pavilion, Northerly Island (back to the early days when they fit in Aragon Ballroom and even further back to the tiny Cubby Bear!)  

My kids both heard Phish in utero (and jumped around, kickin' to Fishman's drums) and then saw a bunch of shows in jogging strollers and baby backpacks. Phish is a great, family friendly show with all ages appeal. In fact, we saw quite a few kids and babies in slings. There were numerous pregnant women on the VIP Deck.

The last time I caught them before this, my now 13 year old son went with me to Northerly Island for Phish's last tour. I've lost count of how many shows I've seen, but even my kids (11 & 13 have seen 17 & 27 Phish shows respectively).  VIP is just 18+, though, so this time was a well deserved and much needed Mamas' Night Out.

Phish fans have somewhat of an undeserved reputation for being homeless hippie nomads. Phish attracts a wide range of ages and types of fans and many are intellectuals with advanced degrees and well paying jobs (despite fashion sense that includes renditions of drummer Fishman's infamous red doughnut dotted MuMu that he wears at EVERY show.)

Their fans are some of the kindest, most colorful & creative folks out there. Phish are hilarious, accomplished musicians who really know how to bring out the energy in a crowd and create a microcosm of magic and wonder. They truly shine live. 

We lounged around on pillowed chairs (cushy & down to earth) with candle light for most of the first set, with a great, front on view of the stage. Then we went to our actual seats Section A--Row 1--Seats 1 & 2!! which were pretty rockin' awesome too. 

The whole set was phenomenal, but I was stoked to hear "Carini", one of their darker, more intense songs and a favorite of mine. I also loved the geeky & glorious "Grind", where they do an acapella, Barbershop Quartet(esque) piece in which they sing their individual actual and combined ages broken down by days they've been alive! I was also happy they began the show with "Moma Dance", a sailing song and a play on word "The Moment Ends"-- a great choice for Northerly Island's lake side digs. It was especially amusing to me because I had JUST finished telling D'Arcy about Moma Dance as a primo example of classic Phish style, humor, wit... when they launched right in and played it. 

They've always had that type of energy around the shows. It's the same magic way we walked right up and found a whole group of my friends (even some in from other states for the shows), in the lot outside, among thousands, without using cell phones or even looking for them! 

Watching the light show with the Chicago city skyline as a back drop and Chinese Lanterns launching was a breathtaking immersion. Chris Kuroda, Phish's lighting designer, improvs the lights along with the evolving set, and has a devout following of his own! Unlike most arena shows on tour, where every night is more or less the same and the lights are a predictable cycle, Phish create an utterly unique show every night, and Kuroda steps up to feature them in the best possible light!

One of the high points of our evening was running into Jim Pollock, one of Phish's renowned poster artists on the VIP deck. He's a great guy, super personable and immensely talented. I've met him (and his wife and son) a few times over the years and he's very down to earth. His ties with Phish go way back to college days at Goddard when he roomed with Page McConnell. Since then he's done numerous t-shirt designs and highly coveted, numbered collector posters that have become crazy valuable.

He's also married to an amazing children's author, Esme Codell, which impressed my Montessori teacher friend D'Arcy more. I think her exact quote was, "Oh WOW. Cool! I love her books. I'm waaaay more impressed you're married to her. No offense, but I don't really know anything about you." That said, I'm impressed with Pollock's prints, and I'm lucky to have seen his studio where he hand prints his carvings. Collectors the world over agree! It was a treat to bump back into him Saturday and it's all thanks to our smokin' VIP seats via The Illinois Lottery. 

We'd hoped to meet some of the AP Music Series people, to thank them in person and shoot a few photos, but Phish was on a 3 night run and they worked the night before we were there, but not Saturday. 

Still, we're nothing but ecstatic at the opportunity, and thrilled to be chosen. It was a stellar experience.  Want to find out more about the Illinois Lottery Anything’s Possible® Music Series? Click here for all the details.  You too could have a lucky live show experience!

ChiIL Mama's Phone Favs:
(highlights from our real time social media blitz during the show on FB, Twitter & Instagram)

Carini -- one of Phish' darker, heavier songs and a long time favorite of mine!

ChiIL Mama ChiILin' in Chi, IL with Jim Pollock, Phish artist, and musician, Christopher Ferrer!! 

Cobalt blue nails, or as D'Arcy said, "Tardis blue". Goes great with a Kuroda light show!!

VIP Selfie!

Section A... Row 1... Seat 1... Feeling #1 special thanks to The Illinois Lottery Anything’s Possible® Music Series! 

 Rock Star Seats!!

Thanks again Illinois Lottery Anything’s Possible® Music Series. You made my summer!

Disclosure:  Thanks to The Illinois Lottery Anything’s Possible® Music Series for providing me with 2 VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, July 14, 2014

FREE Readings: Victory Gardens announces lineup for 2014 IGNITION Festival of New Plays July 24-27th

Victory Gardens Theater announces the complete lineup for the 2014 IGNITION Festival of New Plays, including Where Did We Sit on the Bus? by Brian Quijada; Lack and Lack by April Fools (Kristiana Colón & Damon Williams); Sender by Ike Holter; Slingshot by Kia Corthron; Hillary and Clinton by Lucas Hnath; For Tomorrow, Please Prepare by Paul Downs Colaizzo; and Cocked by Sarah Gubbins. The festival will take place July 24-27, 2014. The IGNITION festival creates a productive environment for both emerging and established playwrights to explore and develop their new work. 

"At Victory Gardens, we bridge communities through challenging, bold, and innovative new plays that are representative of the diverse voices in this city and beyond. So, for the first time since the Festival's inception, we have invited not only writers of color under 30, but have opened our festival to include all playwrights," comments Artistic Director Chay Yew. "IGNITION has consistently been an essential part of Victory Gardens’ new play development programming since 2008, and Ignition 2014 will be no exception."
“We are proud to announce our lineup of playwrights for our fourth edition of Victory Gardens' IGNITION Festival of New Plays. With a record of more than 1,000 submissions for our festival this year, we welcome seven remarkable playwrights from Chicago and from around the country. With themes ranging from race to class, gender to gun violence, Ignition will give these veteran and emerging playwrights the opportunity to develop their newest plays," comments Literary Manager Isaac Gomez.

INGITION’s seven selected plays will be presented in a festival of readings scheduled for summer 2014 and will be directed by leading artists from Chicago. Following the readings, two of the plays may be selected for intensive workshops during Victory Gardens 2014/15 season, and Victory Gardens may produce one of these final scripts in an upcoming season.


Where Did We Sit on the Bus? by Brian Quijada and Lack on Lack by April Fools (Kristiana Colón & Damon Williams)
Thurs July 24 | 7:00pm | Richard Christiansen Theater
We are starting IGNITION with a bang! Performed back-to-back, this double bill of rap and spoken word performances pieces explore growing up in a world where things aren't always as they seem:

During a 3rd grade lesson on the Civil Rights movement and Rosa Parks, a Latino boy raises his hand to ask "Where did we sit on the bus?" and his teacher can't answer the question. Told through rap, hip-hop, spoken word, and live looping, Brian Quijada’s autobiographical Where Did We Sit On The Bus? looks at what it means to be Latino in America.
In their theatrical debut, brother/sister hip hop duo April Fools (Kristiana Colón & Damon Williams) fuse music, spoken word, and humor in Lack on Lack, a journey through Chicago to plan a surprise birthday party for their mother April. Damon and Kristiana navigate the neighborhoods of Chicago, childhood memories, and the turns of their new grown-up relationship in this city of practical jokers.

Thursday July 24 | Victory Gardens Theater Lobby | 9:00 p.m.
IGNITION Festival Opening Night Reception

Sender by Ike Holter
Fri July 25 | 7:00pm | Richard Christiansen Theater
Over a year after faking his death in a sensational fashion, a young man returns to his former apartment: alive, well, and with a new found ambition to fix what went wrong. What starts as a miracle reunion turns into a catastrophic disaster as the past begins to catch up with the present and old debts return, expecting payment in full.

Friday July 25 | Victory Gardens Theater Lobby | 9:00 p.m.
Artist Night: Meet & Greet

Slingshot by Kia Corthron
Sat July 26 | 3:00pm | Richard Christiansen Theater
After suffering a terrible work accident as a result of a negligent manufacturing defect, Malik must live with the inevitable consequences. In a nation where lawsuits have been equated with greed, how can Malik’s father Gid attain compensation and justice comparable to human life?

Saturday July 26 | Richard Christiansen Theater | 6:00 p.m.
Panel Discussion | New Plays in Chicago
As one of the leading centers of new play development, Chicago is home to some of the richest and boldest new plays premiering across the country. In a city where audiences are hungry for new theatre work, what is the current state of new play development and its future? What should we be doing more to nurture the artists, audiences and the field?

Hillary and Clinton by Lucas Hnath
Sat July 26 | 7:00pm | Richard Christiansen Theater
In 2008, a woman named Hillary is trying to become the president of a country called the United States of America, but she's not doing well in the polls and needs more money to keep the campaign going. She calls her husband for help and he offers her a deal, but it's a deal that ends up costing a lot more than either of them had reckoned.

Saturday July 26 | Fiesta Mexicana | 9:00 p.m.
IGNITION Festival Cocktail Hour at Fiesta Mexicana

For Tomorrow, Please Prepare by Paul Downs Colaizzo
Sun July 27 | 2:00pm | Richard Christiansen Theater
Racial tensions in the suburban south reach a boiling point when a white student at a public high school in Georgia makes an inflammatory comment during a lesson on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  The school's disciplinary process is threatened when hidden agendas are revealed, proving that when it comes to how we should teach our country's racial history, the issue is anything but black and white.

Sunday July 27 | Richard Christiansen Theater | 5:00 p.m.
Panel Discussion | From Script to the Stage
From the first draft to opening night, new plays are changing and evolving as new elements are introduced. With IGNITION Festival as a catalyst for developing new work, how does a rehearsal room shift when a living playwright is in the room? What are the best practices and collaborations? How do we better support and produce new plays and playwrights?

Cocked by Sarah Gubbins
Sun July 27 | 6:00pm | Richard Christiansen Theater
Taylor and her girlfriend, Izzie have always been staunchly opposed to gun ownership. But when Taylor’s brother shows up unannounced one afternoon, that position slowly corrodes as new discoveries surface and the lines between safety and protection are blurred.

Sunday July 27 | Victory Gardens Theater Lobby | 8:00 p.m.
IGNITION Festival Closing Night Celebration

Brian Quijada is a New York based, Chicago born actor and musician. Some of Brian’s acting credits include: The Realness (The Kennedy Center) Victory Jones and The Incredible One Woman Band (The Denver Theatre Center) How We Got On (Actor’s Theater of Louisville) Beat Generation (Merrimack Rep) The Solid Sand Below, Hype Hero, and Orange Julius (The Eugene O’Neill’s National Playwright’s Conference) Other credits: (New York) Playwright’s Realm, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Repertorio Espanol, Page 73, Playwrights Horizons, TerraNova, LAByrinth (Chicago) Steppenwolf (TV) Blue Bloods.

April Fools is a brother/sister rap duo fusing poetry & hip-hop. Kristiana & Damon have rocked the mic at Grinnell College, Bottom Lounge, the Silver Room Block Party, the Chicago Westside Music Festival, the Englewood Music Festival & have been heard on Vocalo radio, WHPK, and WIIT. April Fools gets their name from their mother, April, whose birthday is April Fool’s Day. April Fools delight audiences with poetic, buoyant lyrics, vocal interplay, and storytelling.

Kristiana Colón is a poet, playwright, actor, educator, Ensemble member at Teatro Luna, and Cave Canem Fellow. Her play Octagon is the winner of Arizona Theater Company's 2014 National Latino Playwriting Award and was a finalist in Polarity Ensemble Theater's Dionysos Festival of New Work. In February and March 2013, she toured the UK with her collection of poems promised instruments published by Northwestern University Press. In autumn 2012, she opened her one-woman show Cry Wolf in Chicago while her play but i cd only whisper had its world premiere in London at the Arcola Theater. Her poetry was nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize and has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including MTV Publishing’s forthcoming Chorus: A Re(Mixtape) edited by Saul Williams.  Kristiana appeared on Season 5 of HBO's Def Poetry Jam.

Damon Williams is a rapper, actor, poet, public speaker and social activist. Damon recently graduated from Grinnell College where he majored in Economics and Sociology. As the son of a comedian, the south side native believes deeply in the powers of laughter, satire and performance. Williams intends for his artistic expression to intersect with his financial background to serve his community's needs. Damon is excited to make his Chicago theatre debut with his big sister.

Ike Holter’s work has been produced at The Steppenwolf Garage, LiveWire Chicago, Theater 7, The Greenhouse Theater, Theater on The Lake and The Inconvenience, where he is a founding member and resident writer.  He's received fellowships and commissions from The Goodman Theater, The Kennedy Center and The Playwrights Center.  His show Hit The Wall played at Steppenwolf Garage and Off-Broadway at The Barrow Street Theater in New York.  This May, Jackalope Theater produced his new play Exit Strategy, which played to sold-out houses and moves to Michigan for the 3oaks Festival in July before another month-long run at the Broadway Armory. His monologues have been published in The New Yorker and several editions of Applause Books.  

Kia Corthron was awarded in 2014 a Windham Campbell Prize for Drama and GPTC’s Simon Great Plains Playwright Award as Honored Playwright. She is a contributing writer of SITI Company’s Steel Hammer developed through Actors Theatre of Louisville/Humana 2014. Other plays have been produced in New York by Playwrights Horizons, Ensemble Studio Theatre, NY Theatre Workshop, Atlantic, Manhattan Theatre Club, American Place; in London by the Royal Court and Donmar Warehouse; and regionally by Minneapolis’ Children’s Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Alabama Shakespeare, Yale Rep, Huntington, NY Stage & Film, Baltimore's Center Stage, Goodman, Hartford Stage and elsewhere. Lee Reynolds Award, Bellagio Residency (Italy), Dora Maar Residency (France), MacDowell Colony, Siena Art Institute Visiting Artist (Italy), McKnight National Residency, Wachtmeister Award, Columbia/Goodman Fellowship, MacLean Foundation Award, Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, Fadiman, NEA, Kennedy Center Fund, New Professional Theatre Award, Callaway. Writers Guild and Edgar awards for The Wire. Dramatists Guild Council, New Dramatists alumnus.

Lucas Hnath’s plays include The Christians (2014 Humana Festival), Red Speedo (Studio Theatre, DC), A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney (Soho Rep), nightnight (2013 Humana Festival), Isaac's Eye (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Death Tax (2012 Humana Festival, Royal Court Theatre), and The Courtship of Anna Nicole Smith (Actors Theatre of Louisville).Lucas has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2011 and is also a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre. He won the 2012 Whitfield Cook Award for Isaac’s Eye and the 2013 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award Citation for Death Tax. Lucas is also a recipient of commissions from the EST/Sloan Project, Actors Theatre of Louisville, South Coast Repertory, Playwrights Horizons, Royal Court Theatre, and New York University’s Graduate Acting Program. Lucas received both his BFA and MFA from NYU's Department of Dramatic Writing. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service.

Paul Downs Colaizzo's first play Really Really sold-out a twice-extended run Off-Broadway at MCC Theater, starring Zosia Mamet and Matt Lauria, directed by David Cromer. The play was awarded the 2013 Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play and an Outer Critics Circle nomination for Best New Play.  Paul’s most recent play, Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill premiered in 2013 at the Signature Theatre, VA starring Christine Lahti. He recently developed a one hour pilot for ABC, Executive Produced by Shonda Rhimes through ABC studios, along with writing a pilot for ABC Family, and is currently writing on the staff of Ryan Murphy’s new drama Open, in development at HBO. In 2013, Entertainment Weekly listed Colaizzo as one of their Next Wave, New Hollywood writers to watch.  

Sarah Gubbins’ plays include Fair Use, In Loco Parentis, The Drinking Problem, The Kid Thing (Jeff Award and Edgarton Foundation New American Play Award), fml: how Carson McCullers saved my life, I am Bradley Manning, A Sense of Things and Cocked. Her plays have been produced at the Steppenwolf Theatre, Actor’s Express, Next Theater, About Face Theater and Chicago Dramatists among others. Her plays have been developed at the Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater, The Plawrights’ Center, Center Theatre Group, O’Neill Theatre Center, and Berekely Rep’s Ground Floor among others. She’s has been a Carl J. Djerassi Fellow and Jerome Fellow. She is a member of the CTG 2013-14 Writers’ Workshop, the Playwrights’ Union, and is an Artistic Associate at About Face Theater. She holds an M.F.A. from Northwestern University.

The IGNITION Festival of New Plays was conceived to support the theater’s mission of new plays and diversity. In the spring of 2010, 120 writers of color from around the United States submitted new scripts for the first phase of IGNITION. In its inaugural season, IGNITION developed, premiered and launched both Year Zero and Kristoffer Diaz’ The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity onto the American theater scene; both productions have subsequently been remounted at Second Stage in New York City. Victory Gardens produced We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 by Jackie Sibblies Drury and Appropriate By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Other notable IGNITION plays receiving their world premieres include Mala Hierba by VG Ensemble Playwright Tanya Saracho, playing at Second Stage in New York City this summer and Samsara by Lauren Yee, playing at Victory Gardens in the Spring of 2015.

The IGNITION Festival of New Plays receives major support from The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and Southwest Airlines, Victory Gardens' official travel sponsor. Berghoff Catering Group is the official catering partner of Victory Gardens.

Performances are at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Admission to all festival readings and events is free, though an RSVP is required. For more information or to RSVP, visit or call the Victory Gardens Box Office at 773.871.3000.

About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Chris Mannelli, 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.  With Victory Gardens’ first new Artistic Director in 34 years, the company remains committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, continuing the vision set forth by Dennis Zacek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.

Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theatre work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago 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. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Zacek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 299-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.

In 2012, Victory Gardens Victory Gardens appointed new Ensemble Playwrights Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Samuel D. Hunter and Tanya Saracho, for seven-year residencies. The Playwrights Ensemble Alumni includes Claudia Allen, Lonnie Carter, Steve Carter, Gloria Bond Clunie, Dean Corrin, Nilo Cruz, Joel Drake Johnson, John Logan, Nicholas Patricca, Douglas Post, James Sherman, Charles Smith, Jeffrey Sweet and Kristine Thatcher.

Click here for more information about Victory Gardens.  Follow up on Facebook and Twitter @VictoryGardens.

Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from Alphawood Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Joyce Foundation,The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Allstate Insurance, Polk Bros. Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies,The Leo S. Guthman Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Orli Staley Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The REAM Foundation, and the Leo S. Guthman Fund. Additional funding is provided by: Abbot Downing & Wells Fargo, Alliance Bernstein, Berghoff Catering, The Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, a City Arts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, The Conant Family FoundationThe Edgerton Foundation, Exelon, John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, Illinois Arts Council (a state agency),  Illinois Tool Works, Italian Village Restaurants, James S. Kemper Foundation, Mayer Brown LLP, The McVay Foundation, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, LLP, The Prince Charitable Trusts, The Seabury Foundation, Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Southwest Airlines, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable TrustVenturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation,and Wrightwood Neighbors Conservation Association.

INCOMING: LePercolateur Gypsy Jazz and Americana at Skokie Theatre 8/15

Shows on Our Radar

Chicago’s LePercolateur will bring its unique take on gypsy jazz and Americana to the Skokie Theatre on Friday, August 15:

8:00 pm
Tickets: $25

Gypsy-jazz ... alt-folk ... come discover this unique blend.

The Story of lePercolateur

As the railyard bled into dark warehouses, the stranger found himself alone. Street after street he walked with night taking control of his senses until his ears perked at the music of sirens. The dulcet tones of violin, bass, and the female voice spiraled through the darkness from the sole source of warmth in sight. Helplessly drawn in, he found the last lit trailer in camp that seemed to have sprung forth from another time, and there--in the form of three women--was both the past and the future in one.

He introduced himself as Sam Random and explained that his path and his name were inextricably linked. Sensing a kindred spirit, they proffered their names: Marielle de Rocca-Serra held the violin, Stacy McMichael propped up the bass fiddle, and it was Candace Washburn's voice that had beckoned him. As Sam sat at their fire and opened up his tattered guitar case, another man, his elder, stepped forth from the darkness having been drawn in from afar. Armed too with a guitar, he announced himself as Kevin Rush and sat with no concern as to whether he'd been invited - simply knowing he was home. Fueled by coffee black as the night they found themselves in and so dark it could have been wartime, they played through 'til the sun began painting the eastern horizon red.

Winding their caravan through the windiest of cities, lePercolateur has spent the time since this fateful night sweeping in to transport concert-goers to a time where music was a liberating and cathartic respite from persecution-- where the frenetic energy of struggling to simply 'be' coalesced with the unbridaled spirit of gypsy music and burgeoned into swing dancing. The troupe transforms Katerina's into a sold-out Parisian dance hall circa 1937 on a monthly basis. 

Their high-energy sideshow has made Percolateers of attendees of the Jazz Institute of Chicago's 2011 & 2012 Jazz Tours, Andy's Jazz Club, Hard Rock Cafe Chicago, 2013 All Souls Jazz Festival, City Winery, the Mayne Stage, Jazz Showcase, Martyrs, Schubas, the 2012 Deer Park Jazz Festival, the 2010 and 2011 Chicago Cultural Center's "Music Without Borders" series, and Purdue University's Swing Dance. They were Featured Artists in both 2009 and 2011 in the Windy City Lindy Exchange, through which they flaunted their uncanny ability to seamlessly fuse two different eras via their reinterpretations of modern pop through the medium of hipster gypsy jazz. Along the way, these temporally displaced merry-makers were victorious at the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival's "Last Banjo Standing" contest.

Google Analytics