Sunday, August 16, 2015

OPENING: Spartan Theatre Company's Jake's Women at Royal George Theatre #TheatreChicago

Spartan Theatre Company's 2015 Season wraps up with Jake's Women by Neil Simon

Opening September 25

ChiIL Live Shows will be there opening night, so check back soon for our full review. We're looking forward to 4 year old favorites, Spartan Theatre, and their final show of the season. True to their Spartan name, this company embraces minimalism in their productions to get to the essence of new works and classics alike. Check it out.

Spartan Theatre Company presents Neil Simon's Jake's Women. A struggling novelist handles the world in his much imagination much better than that pesky real one just outside his study, where the shadow of a failing marriage looms large. Jake, who is more comfortable passively observing his life as opposed to living it, calls upon the ghost of a memory, a snarky therapist, an abrasive sister and a host of other dynamic and hilarious women to help him save his marriage—and him from himself.

Ticket prices are $20. Discounts include $10 for industry and students (with I.D.) Tickets may be purchased online by visiting, by calling at (312) 988-9000 or visiting Will Call at the Royal George Theatre.

The cast and production team for Jake's Women includes:

Brian Rooney (Jake), Hayley Burgess (Julie), Alyssa Thordarson (Sheila), Lisa Herceg (Karen), Maya Hlava (Young Molly), Jill Karrenbock (Older Molly), Kelly Levander (Maggie), and Anne Marie Lewis (Edith)
Skye Robinson Hillis (Director), Joe Burke (Lighting Designer), Tim Bickel (Sound Designer), and Sierra Nibbe (Costume Designer).

Now in it's 4th season, Spartan Theatre Company uses minimalism to change minds and promote discussion in Chicago. By distilling specific elements, we enhance the most essential themes and moments in relevant new works and reinvigorated classics.

Artistic Director: Patrick Belics
Associate Artistic Director: Andy Monson
Managing Director: Cody Nicoletti
Marketing Director: Sarah Jordan
Production Manager: Jeff Newman
Audio/Video Engineer: Tim Bickel
Production Associate: Robert Alan
Photographer: Amanda de la Guardia
Artistic Associate: Joseph Galizia.

OPENING: The Tempest at Chicago Shakespeare

Chi, IL Live Shows On Our Radar

Magic by Teller, the soulful music of Tom Waits

and the incomprarable Larry Yando as Prospero!

 The Tempest
by William Shakespeare

directed by Aaron Posner and Teller

songs by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan
choreography by Matt Kent, Pilobolus

in CST's Courtyard Theater
800 E. Grand Avenue on Navy Pier 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we love it when our friends play well together and when our favs collaborate! So we're particularly jazzed for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's next main stage production. Larry Yando is an incredible actor and we catch him every chance we get and have never been disappointed. He's box office gold! We've also enjoyed Tom Waits' ballads and the magic illusions of Penn & Teller for decades. 

ChiIL Live Shows will be there on opening night, so check back like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often. Our full review will be up shortly. In the meantime, here are the basics below. We highly recommend getting your tickets locked in early for the best choice of dates.

Shakespeare’s enchanted island is transformed in this inventive production from Aaron Posner and Teller (of the legendary duo Penn & Teller), who also contributes astonishing feats of magic. Larry Yando returns to Chicago Shakespeare, following his iconic performance in last season’s King Lear, to take on the role of the vengeful and mysterious Prospero who conjures a storm shipwrecking his old enemies on the island. This classic tale of revenge is reimagined as a traveling tent show of trickery and amazement—underscored by haunting ballads from the inimitable Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, and featuring choreography by the pioneering dance collective Pilobolus. In a production full of “such stuff as dreams are made on,” sorcery gives way to the inclinations of the heart.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announces the full casting and creative team for Shakespeare’s spectacular tale of revenge and romance—The Tempest, staged by award-winning directors Aaron Posner and Teller, of the magic duo Penn & Teller. This inventive reimagining features the music of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, as well as choreography from the pioneering dance troupe Pilobolus led by Associate Artistic Director Matt Kent. One of the final works in Shakespeare’s canon, the play transports audiences to an enchanted island where nothing is quite as it seems. Heralding the celebration of Shakespeare’s four-hundred-year legacy in 2016, The Tempest inaugurates Chicago Shakespeare’s 2015/16 season in the Courtyard Theater, September 8–November 8, 2015.

The mysterious sorcerer Prospero seeks revenge upon his enemies, conjuring a storm to shipwreck them on his magical island. There, he tricks and teases the ship’s unwitting passengers while his daughter Miranda falls in love with the marooned Prince Ferdinand. The lyricism of Shakespeare’s poetry comes to life in this fantastical story of vengeance, love and forgiveness, where sorcery gives way to the inclinations of the heart.

In their Chicago Shakespeare debuts, directors Aaron Posner and Teller come together to create this wholly original staging of The Tempest. Posner, an accomplished playwright and director, has written and adapted nearly 20 plays and directed productions at theaters across the United States, including the Folger Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville and The Alliance. Famed magician Teller is best known as one half of the renowned Penn & Teller, who for nearly 40 years have entertained and amazed audiences with their unique brand of magic and comedy—redefining magic’s place in popular culture. Penn & Teller have one of the most successful and long-running shows in Las Vegas; they have been featured in Emmy-winning television specials and world tours; and they are currently appearing in a highly successful limited run on Broadway.

The ever-versatile Larry Yando tackles the role of the mysterious and vengeful sorcerer Prospero, one of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic characters. He returns to Chicago Shakespeare after his critically acclaimed performance as the title character in King Lear directed by CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, a role for which he was recognized as 2014’s “Performer of the Year” by the Wall Street Journal. The Tempest marks Yando’s 24th CST production—a body of work that includes such diverse roles as Malvolio in Twelfth Night, the title role Cymbeline and Casca in Julius Caesar.

Inspired by the early-twentieth-century magician Willard the Wizard, this imaginative staging of Shakespeare’s classic takes place in a traveling tent show of trickery and amazement set in the world of the Dust Bowl. The production is underscored by the soulful songs of Tom Waits who, along with long-time collaborator Kathleen Brennan, provides his signature blues-inspired sounds to the project—performed by a live four-piece band onstage. The Tempest is not Waits’ first time providing the soundscape behind a story; his work in One from the Heart earned him an Academy Award® nomination in 1983. Also featured in the production is choreography by the modern dance collective Pilobolus under the direction of Associate Artistic Director Matt Kent. Featured at the 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) and in eye-catching performances around the world and on Oprah, 60 Minutes and Sesame Street, Pilobolus is acclaimed for its innovative and collaborative dance vocabulary, which combines athleticism, invention and humor. Pilobolus and Kent have created mesmerizing movements for the two performers who together portray the character of Caliban, bringing new meaning to Shakespeare’s description of Prospero’s strange captive not "honored with human shape."

Click HERE for a complete performance listing and more information about the production.

The Tempest will be performed in CST’s Courtyard Theater September 8–November 8, 2015. Tickets are on sale now for $48-$88 (subject to change), or as part of a subscription beginning at $135. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets available for patrons under 35. All patrons receive a 40% discount on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website.

Scenic Designer Daniel Conway and Lighting Designer Thom Weaver will construct the mysterious, charmed world of Prospero’s island. Magic Designer Johnny Thompson, an illusionist and comedian in his own right, collaborates with Teller to bring Prospero’s enchantments to life. Paloma Young, who won a Tony Award® for her work in Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway, serves as Costume Designer for the production with additional costumes by Rachel Laritz. Jeff Award-winner Ray Nardelli returns to Chicago Shakespeare as Sound Designer (Sense and Sensibility, Road Show, Gypsy) and Chicago Shakespeare’s resident Jeff Award-winning Wig and Make-up Designer Melissa Veal completes the creative team.

The role of Prospero’s spirited daughter Miranda is performed by Eva Louise Balistrieri in her Chicago Shakespeare debut. Ferdinand, Prince of Naples, is played by Luigi Sottile. Nate Dendy appears as Ariel, the ethereal sprite bound in servitude to Prospero, while a duo of actors, Manelich Minniefee and Zach Eisenstat partner up to play a twisted and tumbling Caliban. Worldly wisdom is brought to the otherwise madcap world of the play by multiple Jeff Award-Winner Barbara Robertson as Gonzala. Adam Wesley Brown (Trinculo),Lawrence Grimm (Antonio), Michael Aaron Lindner (Sebastian), John Lister (Alonso) and Ron E. Rains (Stephano) return to the Theater after successful runs in numerous productions, ranging from new musicals to Shakespearean classics. Christopher Rose (Minion) makes his CST debut and serves as the production’s Assistant Magic Designer.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company and the 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.

NightBlue Theatre Gets Ambitious with a Kickstarter Campaign and THREE Openings

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we support high quality Chi, IL theatre of all shapes and sizes and we love to review everything from big budget Broadway extravaganzas down to scrappy store front productions. We've enjoyed the high quality, award winning productions NightBlue has mounted in past seasons so we're happy to spread the word about the Kickstarter and their ambitious, exciting plans for 2015/16. Help out if you can, and come out to support Chicago's incomparable live theatre scene. 

NightBlue is looking to raise $8000 through its kickstarter campaign ($4000 for costumes/ $4000 for lights) by August 31.  Any amount you donate is greatly appreciated and will go directly to offset additional spending in both of these areas. Click here to check out their main site for details on Kickstarter donating, purchasing tickets, and full show details.
NightBlue is an Illinois 501(c)(3) organization.  As such, your contribution may be deductible up to the full amount. NightBlue Performing Arts Company is a Jeff nominated theater company entering its 9th season in Chicago.  In that short time, we have gained a reputation for doing great productions of big shows in small spaces.  And this fall is no exception, as NightBlue becomes the first non-equity company in over 5 years to take on two full length musicals in repertory. In keeping with our tradition these are no small shows.  The shows are Mel Brooks' The Producers, and
Blake Edwards,Victor/Victoria!  

These shows are a mammoth undertaking, but NightBlue really wants them to shine!  To do that, for the first time, NightBlue is undertaking a kickstarter campaign to help fund some of the costs for the spectacular costuming and lighting needed for these productions.  Its a huge step for us, as we have never come to you, our theater patrons and supporters and asked to help fund a piece of a show, but we need your help to help put the polish on these great pieces!


Mel Brooks' The Producers - Max Bialystock, the one­time king of Broadway producers hungry to strike it rich, and Leo Bloom, an accountant with dreams of someday becoming a theatre producer, discover that they could get richer by producing a flop than a hit and start by finding the worst show, worst director, and worst actors. When their new production, “Springtime for Hitler,” turns out to be a smash success, the plan is thrown off and the partners’ lives are thrown into chaos.

VICTOR/VICTORIA - A down-on-her-luck singer is convinced by a gay impresario to masquerade as a female impersonator, becoming a huge success in Paris nightclubs and attracting the attentions of a Chicago gangster, in the musical version of the 1982 film.

Coming Spring of 2016

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

OPENING: JAMAICA, FAREWELL at The Royal George Theatre #TheatreChicago

Chi, IL Live Shows On Our Radar

From the Director of the Smash Hit Comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Joel Zwick, comes a new play
Presented by Hershey Felder
Performances Begin Tuesday, Sept. 8 at The Royal George Theatre

Performances of JAMAICA, FAREWELL begin Tuesday, September 8 at 7:30 p.m. and continue as follows: Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. All tickets are $50. Tickets are on sale at The Royal George Theatre and may be purchased by calling 312.988.9000. Box office hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets may also be purchased online at 

Continuing to bring exciting stories and new productions to Chicago audiences, ‘Hershey Felder Presents’ (George Gershwin Alone, Maestro Bernstein, The Pianist of Willesden Lane, Louis and Keely ‘Live’ at the Sahara) now brings a newly designed production of the award-winning and internationally acclaimed play JAMAICA, FAREWELL, written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt and directed by Joel Zwick (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), to Chicago’s Royal George Theatre. Based on her true life story, writer-performer Ehrhardt’s JAMAICA, FAREWELL chronicles her escape from revolution-torn Jamaica in the 1970’s to fulfill her lifelong dream of coming to America. Performances begin at Chicago’s Royal George Theatre, 1641 North Halsted, 60614, on Tuesday, September 8, and continue through Sunday, October 11.    Tickets are $50 each for all performances.

The New York Times calls JAMAICA, FAREWELL “One loopy, increasingly funny story.” The production sold out in a critically acclaimed production at Chicago’s Chopin Theater in May, 2012. The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones raved “A very funny and fast-paced piece – ninety highly enjoyable minutes,” and the Chicago Sun-Times’ Hedy Weiss called Ehrhardt “A storyteller who can fill up empty space with the sheer power of her exuberant storytelling.”

When Debra Ehrhardt was an eighteen-year-old secretary in Kingston, Jamaica, she bumped into a handsome CIA agent over a bowl of oxtail soup on her lunch break. During the turbulent 70s of the Manley Era she saw her chance – a pinhole of opportunity that she could squeeze through with the help of this love-struck American, to potentially make it to America. She began a dangerous adventure that only the single-minded passion of a teenage girl would chance, blurring the lines between bravery and foolishness as she became more desperate: agreeing to smuggle a million US dollars in cash to a mysterious contact somewhere in Miami, with the agent unknowingly becoming her accomplice.

See what happens when the audacity of youth comes smack up against the impossibility of escaping from the war-torn class struggle that seized Jamaica in the 1970s. With all the surprise and ingenuity of the best make-believe tales, the true story of Debra Ehrhardt's dangerous journey from the island of her youth to the country of her dreams will enthrall you, charm you, and ultimately leave you celebrating at the triumphant conclusion of her autobiographical one-woman show.

JAMAICA, FAREWELL is Kingston-born Debra Ehrhardt’s third one-woman show. Previous productions include the award-winning Mango Mango, and Invisible Chairs, which was produced by David Strasberg at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre in West Hollywood and subsequently optioned as a situation comedy by Fox. Ehrhardt was also a 2007 NYC Fringe festival award-winner and received a 2007 Proclamation from the City of New York for JAMAICA, FAREWELL for her outstanding contribution to the Jamaican community. JAMAICA, FAREWELL was optioned by Rita Wilson-Hanks who produced the play with Garry Marshall at the Falcon Theatre. Ehrhardt is currently adapting JAMAICA, FAREWELL for the big screen. More info at

Joel Zwick (Director) directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Recent films include Fat Albert and Elvis Has Left the Building. Zwick directed the Broadway production of Hershey Felder’s George Gershwin Alone at the Helen Hayes Theatre, as well as Felder’s Monsieur Chopin, Beethoven as I Knew Him, and Maestro Bernstein. He began his theatrical career at La Mama E.T.C. as director of the La Mama Plexus. He has directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway and for Broadway touring companies. Zwick is recognized as one of Hollywood’s most prolific directors of episodic television, having directed over 550 TV episodes. He is currently directing Shake it Up for the Disney Channel. Zwick has taught drama at Yale University, Brooklyn College, Queens College, Wheaton College and USC and has made his home in Hollywood for the past decade.

Hershey Felder (Producer)
Broadway, London's West End: George Gershwin Alone (Helen Hayes Theatre, Duchess Theatre). Regional and international appearances of “Composers Sonata” (1999-2014) – George Gershwin Alone, Monsieur Chopin, Beethoven, As I Knew Him, and Maestro: Leonard Bernstein and Hershey Felder as IRVING BERLIN (Geffen Theatre LA World Premiere, Laguna Playhouse, upcoming: Majestic Theatre Boston, La Jolla Playhouse, Theatreworks Palo Alto, Arizona Theatre Company and more). He is the winner of the 2007 Los Angeles Ovation Awards, Best Musical and Best Actor for George Gershwin Alone. Worldwide live broadcasts, George Gershwin Alone, 2005 and 2011 for the WFMT Network. Direction includes Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willesden Lane (National Tour), Current projects include Abe Lincoln’s Piano, Hershey Felder as IRVING BERLIN and several other titles in development for various artists. Mr. Felder is a Steinway Concert Artist, and has been a Scholar in Residence at Harvard University's Department of Music. He is the President of Eighty-Eight Entertainment and is married to Kim Campbell, the former Prime Minister of Canada.

The artistic team for JAMAICA, FAREWELL is led by Director Joel Zwick. Scenic Design is by Hershey Felder and Trevor Hay, Sound Design is by Erik Carstensen, Lighting Design is by Richard Norwood and Video Design is by Andrew Wilder. Scenic Decoration is by Meghan Maiya and Stacy Nezda. Matt Marsden serves as General Manager and the Production Stage Manager is Rebecca Peters.  Karen Racanelli serves as executive producer, and Samantha F. Voxakis serves as associate producer.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Quench Your Kurios(ity) With Cirque Du Soleil's Phantasmagorical Steampunk Show #Review #HighlyRecommended #ChiILPicksList

We were dazed and bemused. This show is pure genius. Make time to see KURIOS by Cirque du Soleil in Chicago. Don't miss THIS! ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar.

Beyond amazing! #Kurios killed it! If you're debating, GO already. 
This is the real deal. ChiIL Mama's #ChiILPicksList

All Pictures credit: © Martin Girard
Costume credit: Philippe Guillotel

From the moment the stage clock locked in at the magical time of 11:11 they had me. I was enthralled, as a ragtag band of 19th century passengers debarked a steam train, and filled the tent with hours of endless wonders, all before the clock clicked over to 11:12! 

Here at ChiIL Mama/ChiIL Live Shows, it was our absolute pleasure to catch the Chicago opening of Kurios-Cabinet of Curiosities. We've seen just about every Cirque du Soleil show, and had high expectations. I'm thrilled to say Kurios greatly exceeded them. This production is visually stunning, crazy creative, and a whimsically welcome break from reality. Highly recommended for all ages. 

Kurios is fast paced and phantasmagorical, with a charming steampunk aesthetic. We adored the nod to the 19th century past, circus side show vibe, with a strong man, a midget, and other iconic jugglers, percussionists, dancers, and characters. 

We were also enthralled with the magical mini acts, like an invisible circus and hand "puppet" show, within the story line. The stunning costumes, grace, and live, original music Cirque du Soleil is renowned for were still present. Yet, Kurios was more playful, edgy and fun than many of their recent productions. The Kurios tunes are earworms of the finest order, and the only cure is to play them again and again.

Written and directed by Michel Laprise, the new touring production will premiere under the iconic blue-and-yellow Big Top at United Center beginning August 6, 2015


Cirque du Soleil returns to Chicago after four years with its newest touring show, KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities™ , performing under the iconic blue-and-yellow Big Top at the United Center parking lot, 1901 W. Madison Street, August 6 – September 20, 2015. Tickets are available for purchase by visiting or calling 1-877-9 CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783). Tickets range from $35 - $145.


KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities premiered to the world in Montréal in April 2014 and is Cirque du Soleil’s 35th production. Since its debut, the critics have been raving: “KURIOS is Cirque du Soleil's strongest act in years…one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen on a stage” (Toronto Star) and "KURIOS is the best Cirque du Soleil show in a long time.” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Written and directed by Michel Laprise, KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities is a tale in which time comes to a complete stop, transporting the audience inside a fantasy world where everything is possible. In this realm set in the latter half of the nineteenth century, reality is quite relative indeed as our perception of it is utterly transformed. The name of the show refers to the humble and strange characters that inhabit the Seeker’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

In an alternate yet familiar past, in a place where wonders abound for those who trust their imagination, a Seeker discovers that in order to glimpse the marvels that lie just below the surface, we must first learn to close our eyes. In his larger-than-life curio cabinet, the Seeker is convinced that there exists a hidden, invisible world – a place where the craziest ideas and the grandest dreams lie waiting. A collection of otherworldly characters suddenly steps into his makeshift mechanical world. When the outlandish, benevolent characters turn his world upside down with a touch of poetry and humor in an attempt to ignite the Seeker’s imagination, his curios jump to life one by one before his very eyes.

Michel Laprise
Michel Laprise worked in theatre for nine years as an actor, director and artistic director before joining Cirque du Soleil in 2000. At Cirque du Soleil, Michel spent five years as a talent scout before taking on, in 2006, the role of Special Events Designer. In that capacity, he directed the act with Quebec diva Diane Dufresne during the Opening Ceremonies of the Montreal 2006 Outgames; the large-scale performance event created for the launch of the Fiat Bravo in Italy (2007); the Cirque du Soleil performance event celebrating Quebec City’s 400th anniversary (2008); the launch of Microsoft’s Kinect console at the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo, broadcast on MTV; the opening show at the Eurovision Song Contest held in Russia in 2009; and the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 FIBA International Basketball Federation World Championships in Istanbul. In 2012, Michel collaborated with pop star Madonna, providing artistic direction for her performance at the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show; he later went on to direct her MDNA tour. In 2013, he directed the musical Robin des Bois – Ne renoncez jamais.

Creative team
The creative team of KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities consists of 17 creators under the artistic guidance of Guy Laliberté (Guide) and Jean-François Bouchard (Creative Guide):

Michel Laprise                   Writer and Director
Chantal Tremblay             Director of Creation
Stéphane Roy                    Set and Props Designer
Philippe Guillotel              Costume Designer
Raphaël Beau                    Composer and Musical Director
Bob & Bill                             Composers and Musical Directors
Yaman Okur                       Choreographer
Ben Potvin                          Choreographer
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui         Choreographer
Susan Gaudreau               Choreographer
Andrea Ziegler                  Choreographer
Jacques Boucher              Sound Designer
Jean-Michel Caron          Sound Designer
Martin Labrecque            Lighting Designer
Rob Bollinger                     Acrobatic Performance Designer
Germain Guillemot         Acrobatic Performance Designer
Boris Verkhovsky             Acrobatic Performance Designer
Danny Zen                          Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer
Eleni Uranis                        Makeup Designer

Sponsors and partners
KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities   in Chicago is proud to be presented by  Visa Signature, in association with  United Mileage Plus. We also gratefully acknowledge our official sponsors  XEROX, DHL, ACTIVEON Action Camera as well as Affiliate Partner MEXICO.

Cirque du Soleil
KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities is Cirque du Soleil’s 35th production since 1984. The company, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014, has brought wonder and delight to close to 150 million spectators in more than 300 cities on six continents. Cirque du Soleil has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from close to 50 different countries.

Get Social: Tag your shots on Facebook or Twitter: @Cirque #Kurios 

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