Monday, May 23, 2016


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


Tonight we'll be ChiILin' with Haven at The Raven for opening night of the US Premiere of The Distance. Check back soon for our full review. 

Haven Theatre Company announces the United States premiere of Deborah Bruce’s The Distance, directed by Elly Green, at the West Stage within the Raven Theatre Complex, 6157 N. Clark St., May 20 – June 26. The regular schedule is Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Regular run tickets are $28, senior/student/industry tickets are $14 and preview tickets are $10. You may purchase tickets and get more information at

Good friends should be there for one another - no matter what. However, when Bea returns home to England after five years abroad, having made a bold choice about her life, old friends struggle to support her or even to understand. One night in Brighton, things threaten to slide into chaos...The Distance is a painfully funny play about motherhood and fatherhood, about keeping control and about letting go.

Cast for The Distance includes: Abigail Boucher (Bea), Allison Latta (Alex), Megan Kohl (Kate), Layne Manzer (Darragh), Patrick Gannon (Vinnie), Josh Odor (Man and Dewy U/S), Nik Kmiecik (Liam), Jon Beal (Vinne/Man U/S), Julie Dahlinger (Kate U/S), Adithi Chadrashekar (Alex U/S), Erin Rein (Bea U/S) and James C. Romney (Liam U/S).

The production team for The Distance includes: Elly Green (director), Emily Dillard (stage manager), Krista Mickelson (production manager), Anna Trachtman (asst. production manager), Alyssa White (asst. director), Joseph Schermoly (set designer), Rachel Sypniewski (costume designer), Claire Chrzan (lighting designer), Joe Court (sound designer), Stephen O’Connell (music composition), Archer Curry (props designer), Adam Goldstein (dialect coach), Cody Ryan (master electrician/ALD), Alan Weusthoff (technical director) and Justin Lance (digital marketer).

Deborah Bruce is a celebrated theatre director with over 20 years of experience. She recently began writing and several of her works have been published by Nick Hern books. The Distance has recently been performed in Melbourne Australia, as well as enjoying a revival in the UK. It was a finalist in the 2012/13 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Bruce is currently writing an original drama for the BBC with Tanya Ronder. She has been commissioned to write plays for the National Theatre and The Royal Court in London. Other work Bruce has written include Joanne (Clean Break), Same (National Theatre) and Godchild (Hampstead Theatre Downstairs).

Elly Green is a British freelance text-based theatre director based in Chicago who received her MFA in Theatre Directing at Birkbeck College, University of London from 2004-2006. Since moving to Chicago, she has directed for Sideshow Theatre Company, Strawdog Theatre Company, Trap Door Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, Redtwist Theatre, Theatre Seven, Livewire Theatre Company and assisted for the Court Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Her first production in the United States. was The TomKat Project at the Playground Theatre, which then transferred to the New York Fringe in 2013. 

Previously, Green worked as a freelance director in the United Kingdom for several years in London and in regional theatres, including the Royal National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, AlmeidaTheatre and Royal & Derngate, Northampton. She has an equal passion for classic and contemporary material and for several years in London, worked as a director and producer for Brother Tongue, a company she co-founded which focused on producing new translations of European work.

Haven Theatre Company, led by Artistic Director Josh Sobel and Executive Director and Founder Carol Cohen, is dedicated to nurturing empathy and passion in the Chicago community through championing artistic voices, visions and values that are staking their claim within the immediate future of the American Theatre. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

OPENING: Commedia dell’arte Comedy One Man, Two Guvnors at Court Theatre

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Court Theatre presents the Midwest Premiere of
One Man, Two Guvnors
by Richard Bean
based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni
with songs by Grant Olding
directed by Artistic Director Charles Newell

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we adore the commedia dell’arte style and are eagerly anticipating this show. We'll be there tonight for the press opening. Check back soon for our full review.

May 12 – June 12, 2016
Court Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Charles Newell and Executive Director Stephen J. Albert, presents the Midwest Premiere of Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors, based on Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, with songs by Grant Olding and directed by Artistic Director Charles Newell. One Man, Two Guvnors runs May 12 – June 12, 2016 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue in Chicago. 

Regular Run: May 22 – June 12, 2016
Schedule: Wed & Thurs: 7:30 p.m.
Fridays: 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 3:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.
Sundays: 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Location: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.
Tickets: $35-$45 previews
$45-$65 regular run

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

“This production continues Court’s exploration into works that enable our artists to revive, re-examine, and reconsider previous texts that are enduring,” comments Artistic Director Charles Newell. “Richard Bean’s play is an adaption of The Servant of Two Masters, Carlo Goldoni’s 18th century classic. The original is that rare thing: a wonderfully amusing piece of commedia dell’arte. This adaptation is a glorious comedy with an original mix of satire, songs, and physical comedy.”

Set in 1963 on the coast of Brighton, Francis Henshall is separately employed by two men: local gangster Roscoe Crabbe, and upper-class criminal Stanley Stubbers. Francis tries to keep the two from meeting and discovering his secret, but Roscoe is really Rachel Crabbe in disguise—her twin brother Roscoe was killed by her lover, who happens to be Stanley Stubbers! One man, two jobs. How hard could it be?

An incredible cast of Chicago actors come together for a rollicking jaunt through crooked schemes, cross-dressing twins, and general buffoonery in this riotous summer delight.

One Man, Two Guvnors features Elisa Carlson (Ensemble/Musician), Chaon Cross (Pauline Clench), Allen Gilmore (Lloyd Boateng), Alex Goodrich (Alan Dangle), Francis Guinan (Charlie Clench), Derek Hasenstab (Ensemble/Musician), Erik Hellman (Stanley Stubbers), Timothy Edward Kane (Francis Henshall), Elizabeth Ledo (Rachael Crabbe), Ross Lehman (Harry Dangle) and Hollis Resnik (Dolly).

About the Artists
CHARLES NEWELL (Director/Artistic Director) was awarded the SDCF Zelda Fichandler Award, “which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer who is transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in theatre.” Charlie has been Artistic Director of Court Theatre since 1994, where he has directed over 50 productions. He made his Chicago directorial debut in 1993 with The Triumph of Love, which won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. Charlie’s productions of Man of La Mancha and Caroline, or Change have also won Best Production Jeffs. Other directorial highlights at Court include Satchmo at the Waldorf, Agamemnon, The Secret Garden, Iphigenia in Aulis, The Misanthrope, Tartuffe, Proof, Angels in America, An Iliad, Porgy and Bess, Three Tall Women, Titus Andronicus, Arcadia, Uncle Vanya, Raisin, The Glass Menagerie, Travesties, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Invention of Love, and Hamlet. Charlie has also directed at Goodman Theatre (Rock ‘n’ Roll), Guthrie Theater (The History Cycle, Cymbeline), Arena Stage, John Houseman’s The Acting Company (Staff Repertory Director), the California and Alabama Shakespeare Festivals, Juilliard, and New York University. He has served on the Board of TCG, as well as on several panels for the NEA. Opera directing credits include Marc Blitzstein’s Regina (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Rigoletto (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Don Giovanni and The Jewel Box (Chicago Opera Theater), and Carousel (Glimmerglass Festival). Charlie was the recipient of the 1992 TCG Alan Schneider Director Award, and has been nominated for 16 Joseph Jefferson Director Awards, winning four times. In 2012, Charlie was honored by the League of Chicago Theatres with its Artistic Achievement Award.

ELISA CARLSON (Actor/Musician/US) holds a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance and theater from Indiana University. Elisa is currently a singer and multi-instrumentalist at Howl at the Moon Chicago, entertaining audiences nightly on the piano, violin, drums, and bass. In addition, she is an ensemble member of Barrel of Monkeys, a company member of Innervation Dance Cooperative, and a member of the Chicago-based band, Mechanical Animals. Elisa is also proud to be choreographing Seussical for the Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop this summer, and she is thrilled to be appearing alongside such incredible talent in this production of One Man, Two Guvnors. 

CHAON CROSS (Pauline Clench) Chicago credits include: The Wheel, The Cherry Orchard (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Proof (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination), Uncle Vanya, The Glass Menagerie, Scapin, The Romance Cycle, Phèdre (Court Theatre), Cyrano (Court Theatre and Redmoon Theater), As You Like It, Private Lives, Cymbeline, Troilus and Cressida, The Two Noble Kinsmen, The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Macbeth (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Brothers Karamazov (Lookingglass Theatre Company) and Grace (Northlight Theatre). Regional credits include: Lady Windermere's Fan (Milwaukee Repertory Theater) and Pride & Prejudice (Cleveland Play House). TV credits: Chicago Fire (NBC), Boss (Starz) and Detroit 187 (ABC). Film credits: My Dog Skip (Warner Bros).

ALLEN GILMORE (Lloyd Boateng) returns to Court Theatre. He has previously been seen here in Scapin (M. Geronte; BTA nom), Cyrano (Cyrano De Bergerac), Endgame (Hamm), Sizwe Banzi  Is Dead (Sizwe Banzi; Jeff, BTA, Black Excellence noms), Jitney (Turnbo), The Misanthrope (Mlle Arsinoe), Tartuffe (Mme Pernelle), Seven Guitars (King Hedley), Waiting for Godot (Vladimir; Jeff, BTA, Black Excellence noms), and The Good Book (St. Paul and others). In 2014, he became the first black actor to perform the role of Scrooge in Goodman Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. Other favorite Chicago performances include Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Bynum; Jeff, BTA noms) and The African Company Presents Richard the Third (Papa Shakespeare), both with Congo Square Theatre Company; Argonautika (Typhius) and Arabian Nights (Ishaak of Mosul), both with Lookingglass Theatre; and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (The Player; BroadwayWorld nom) with Writers Theatre. He is a 2015 3Arts prize awardee, a 2015 Lunt-Fontanne fellow, and a proud ensemble member of Congo Square.

ALEX GOODRICH (Alan Dangle) returns to Court Theatre where his credits include The Comedy of Errors. Other Chicago credits include Elf The Musical, On The Town, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, HERO (Jeff Award), For the Boys, How Can You Run With A Shell On Your Back? (Marriott Theatre); Seussical, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Taming of the Shrew, Aladdin, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and How Can You Run..? (Chicago Shakespeare); The Explorers Club (Windy City Playhouse); Shining Lives, A Civil War Christmas, She Stoops to Conquer (Northlight); as well as shows at Next Theater, Timeline, Chicago Children’s Theater, and Provision Theater. 

FRANCIS GUINAN (Charlie Clench) is a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble. With Steppenwolf he has appeared in over 30 productions, including East of Eden, The Night Alive, The Seafarer, The Birthday Party, Time Stands Still, American Buffalo, August: Osage County, Balm in Gilead, and Say Goodnight, Gracie. He has also appeared in productions at Northlight Theatre (White Guy on the Bus, Stella and Lou, Season’s Greetings, and Inherit the Wind), Victory Gardens Theatre (A Guide for the Perplexed), Goodman Theatre (Seagull, Pullman Porter Blues) and American Blues Theatre (Rantoul and Die), Route 66 Theatre (Goldfish). Television appearances include Boss in the role of Gov. Cullen; Eerie, Indiana; ER; Frasier; and several Star Trek franchise episodes. Film roles include appearances in Abundant Acreage Available, The Last Airbender, Typing, Low Tide, and Constantine. 

DEREK HASENSTAB (Actor/Musician) National Tour: Zazu in The Lion King. Regional: Doc in Come Back, Little Sheba (Huntington Theatre), Hermes in Metamorphoses (Arena Stage and Mark Taper Forum), and Tom in The Glass Menagerie (Kansas City Repertory). Chicago: Never The Sinner (Victory Gardens); October Sky (Marriott Lincolnshire); Road Show, Sunday In The Park With George (Chicago Shakespeare); Animals Out of Paper, Disappeared (Steppenwolf); Eastland (Lookingglass); The Game’s Afoot, The Foreigner (Drury Lane Oakbrook); Cloud Nine (After Dark Award), and A Home At The End Of The World (About Face Theatre).

ERIK HELLMAN (Stanley Stubbers) returns to Court Theatre after appearing in The Good Book, Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, Proof (Jeff Award Nomination - Supporting Actor), The Comedy of Errors, The Mystery of Irma Vep (Jeff Award Nomination - Lead Actor), Titus Andronicus, and Arcadia. Chicago credits include Luna Gale (Goodman); Marjorie Prime, Hesperia, and The Frog Prince (Writers’ Theatre); Shining Lives, The Commons of Pensacola, and Lost in Yonkers (Northlight); The Madness of  King George III, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, and Edward II (Chicago Shakespeare); Honest, The Elephant Man, and Huck Finn (Steppenwolf);  Eastland (Lookingglass);  All My Sons (TimeLine); as well as shows at Next, Chicago Dramatists, Remy Bumppo, The House Theatre of Chicago, and as a company member of Strawdog. Outside of Chicago, Erik has appeared at Milwaukee Repertory, Geva, Syracuse Stage, Indianapolis Repertory, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Houston’s Stages Repertory, and Off-Broadway at The Mirror Repertory.  Film/TV work includes The Dark Knight, The Chicago Code, Boss, Betrayal, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD.

TIMOTHY EDWARD KANE (Francis Henshall) returns to Court Theatre having previously appeared in An Iliad (2013 & 2011), The Illusion, Wild Duck, Titus Andronicus, Uncle Vanya, The Romance Cycle, and Hamlet. Chicago credits include: Blood and Gifts (Timeline Theatre Company); Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Arms and the Man (Writers Theatre); The North Plan (Steppenwolf Garage); Lost in Yonkers, The Miser, She Stoops to Conquer (Northlight Theatre); and fourteen productions at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre including: The Comedy Of Errors, A Flea In Her Ear, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 (CST and at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-Upon-Avon), and the upcomingTug of War: Civil Strife. Regional credits: The Mark Taper Forum, Notre Dame Shakespeare, Peninsula Players, and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. TV: Chicago Fire. Education: BS, Ball State University; MFA, Northern Illinois University. He is the recipient of a Joseph Jefferson Awards and an After Dark Award. Kane is married to actress Kate Fry with whom he has two sons.

ELIZABETH LEDO (Rachel Crabbe) returns to Court Theatre where she previously appeared in The Secret Garden, Tartuffe (Jeff award), The Misanthrope, The Illusion, The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, Uncle Vanya, and The Real Thing. Chicago credits include: The Matchmaker, Boleros for the Disenchanted, and three seasons of A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre); Charm, and The Chalk Garden (Norhtlight Theatre); Le Switch, The Homosexuals, and Say you Love Satan (About Face Theatre); Issac’s Eye and Arms and the Man (Writers Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Amadeus, and Funk it Up About Nothin’ (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); The How and The Why (Timeline Theatre); Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple (Drury Lane Oakbrook); The Old Curiosity Shop (Lookingglass Theatre); Homebody/Kabul and Morningstar (Steppenwolf Theatre). Regional credits include: Richard III, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, The Comedy of Errors, and Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare at Notre Dame); Arcadia (Indiana Repertory Theatre); and over 25 productions with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, including Almost Maine, Anna Karenina, Wit, The Lonesome West, and The Clean House. Ms. Ledo is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago.

ROSS LEHMAN (Harry Dangle) makes his Court Theatre debut. Ross Lehman’s Broadway credits include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Tempest, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Most recently, Ross was seen as Vanya in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at the Goodman Theatre, where he also appeared in Waiting for Godot, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Jeff Award), The Rover, A Christmas Carol, and Stage Kiss. Ross last appeared at the The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire as Moonface Martin in Anything Goes. Earlier at the Marriott, he appeared in Hot Mikado, Hairspray, The Producers, and Fiddler on the Roof. At Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, he has been seen most recently as The Fool in King Lear. Among his other CST roles have been Jacques/As You Like It, Feste/Twelfth Night, Dudley Marsh and Dromio of Syracuse/The Comedy of Errors, Thersites/Troilus and Cressida, and Peto, Rumour, and Lord Hastings/Henry IV (at CST and on tour to the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon). Steppenwolf Theatre Company credits: The Man Who Came to Dinner and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. At Apple Tree Theatre: A Man of No Importance (Jeff Award), The Dresser (After Dark Award), and Where's Charlie (Jeff Award). Writer’s Theatre credits: As You Like It and Bach at Leipzig. His reprise of his role as Koko in Hot Mikado in London’s West End production earned him a Laurence Olivier Award nomination. Ross just completed a year as an Artist in Residence at Loyola University.

HOLLIS RESNIK (Dolly) Court theatre productions include: Angels in America, Man of La Mancha, The Good Book, Little Foxes, Learned Ladies, The Cherry Orchard, The Chairs, Carousel, Travesties, An Ideal Husband, and many more. Hollis has also been seen at Goodman Theatre, The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Apollo Theater, Arena Stage, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Long Wharf Theatre. National tours include: Sister Act, Les Miserables, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Awards include the Helen Hayes Award, several Jeff Awards, and two Sarah Siddon Awards. Hollis is the recipient of the 2012 Lunt/Fontaine fellowship and a proud member of Actors Equity.

Now in its 61st season, Court Theatre is guided by its mission to discover the power of classic theatre. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. Court revives lost masterpieces, illuminates familiar texts, and distinguishes fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.

CLOSING: 2 For 1 Tickets for Seedfolks at Chicago Children's Theatre Closing This Sunday

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Don't miss this! Highly recommended for ages 7+. This show is part of Chicago Children's Theatre's Later Stages shows for older children. I went with my whole family for Mother's Day and my 13 & 15 year olds loved it as much as the adults. Sonja Parks is a consummate story teller and a true joy to see in action. We adore this story of a literal garden and the perfect metaphor it provides of growing community, growing friendships and growing hope. 

One woman plays 14 characters to tell the story of the founding and first year of a community garden in a gritty, immigrant neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Each character is from a different ethnic group, and describes the transformation of the empty lot into a vibrant garden. While doing so, each one of those characters experiences his or her own transformation.

“14 characters, 1 amazing actress” –

**If you have special seating accommodations, please inform the Box Office 72 hours before the performance.
*Run time 60 min. including Q&A session.
*Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office one hour prior to performances with no additional fees.
*Children under 2 years of age will be admitted without a ticket provided they sit on another guest’s lap and do not occupy a seat. Any child 2 years of age and older will require a ticket to enter.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Highlights of the Spring and Summer Theatre Season Via The League of Chicago Theatres

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows, we review multiple shows every week, so we know Chicago's theatre scene is second to none. Summer is a great time to get out and see a plethora of shows. Take the visiting relatives and friends. ChiIL out this summer in Chi, IL and be sure to check back with us early and often for theatre news, reviews, and even ticket giveaways! ChiIL Mama (family friendly) and ChiIL Live Shows (for the big kids, AKA: adults).

ChiIL Mama's kids ChiILin' in Chi, IL at SEEDFOLKS at Chicago Children's Theatre. 

Unless otherwise stated, all photos by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara ©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

The Chicago theater community will present a wide variety of plays and musicals, as well as dance and concert offerings this summer.  In support, the League of Chicago Theatres will once again create a comprehensive Summer Theater Guide that will be available at hotels, theaters, events, and destinations across the Chicago area.  A full list of shows with additional details about each production is available throughout the year at  Additionally, many shows will be available for half-price at, Chicago’s local discount ticketing service.

The following is a selection of notable work playing in Chicago throughout the spring and summer. For more, visit

We've highlighted our favorite shows that we've seen and reviewed in red below. Many more must sees have not opened yet. We'll be there for the press openings of THADDEUS AND SLOCUM: A VAUDEVILLE ADVENTURE,THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL, TUG OF WAR: FOREIGN FIRE, XANADU, WAR PAINT, THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND and more. So check back soon for our full reviews.

New works and adaptions include:

Steppenwolf Theatre Company premieres Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Tracy Lett’s new play MARY PAGE MARLOWE, directed by Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro. Runs through May 29, 2016.

by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara ©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

Writers Theatre and The Second City collaborate on DEATH OF A STREETCAR NAMED VIRGINIA WOOLF: A PARODY and explore “What happens when the most recognizable characters from some of the greatest 
American plays of the 20th century suddenly find themselves sharing the same stage?” Directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Stuart Carden, the production runs April 27 - July 17, 2016 at Writers Theatre in Glencoe.

Chicago Playwright Ike Holter’s newest play SENDER premieres at A Red Orchid Theatre in Old Town. Directed by Ensemble Member Shade Murray. The world premiere production runs April 14 – May 29, 2016.

Lookingglass Theatre Company presents THADDEUS AND SLOCUM: A VAUDEVILLE ADVENTURE written by Ensemble Member Kevin Douglas and directed by Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks and Krissy Vanderwarker and featuring Ensemble Members Lawrence E. DiStasi and Raymond Fox, along with “Chicago Fire’s” Monica Raymund and a cast of Chicago favorites. The world premiere begins June 1, 2016.

Musicals include:
A legendary roster of Grammy Award winners. A visionary director and Tony Award®-winning design team. One of the world’s most beloved and unforgettable characters. Turn them all loose on Broadway and what do you get? Broadway In Chicago presents THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL, running June 7 - July 3 at the Oriental Theatre.

Goodman Theatre premieres WAR PAINT, June 28 - August 14, 2016. Two-time Tony Award winners Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole star in a world premiere musical about two business titans—and their infamous rivalry.

Production Photos

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents one of the most beloved musicals of all time, THE KING AND I. (*It was our great pleasure to partner with Lyric Opera and give away a pair of tickets to THE KING AND I for one of our lucky readers.) This Tony-winning musical will capture your heart as they discuss, debate, and ultimately grow in understanding and respect. The musical plays April 29 - May 22, 2016.

As a tribute to its late artistic director PJ Paparelli, American Theater Company closes its Legacy Season with a musical spoof of his all-time favorite movie. XANADU celebrates the artist's muse, even when it comes from the most unlikely of places. Lilli-Anne Brown directs the 1980’s camp classic, running May 2 - July 17, 2016.

by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara ©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

Mercury Theater Chicago presents Mel Brooks’ musical comedy THE PRODUCERS, directed by L. Walter Stearns. Runs through June 26, 2016.

Dramatic works include:

The epic TUG OF WAR: FOREIGN FIRE, adapted and directed by Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, opens at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The first installment of the electrifying adaptation features Edward III, Henry V and Henry VI, Part 1. The production runs May 11 - June 12, 2016.

Profiles Theatre’s hit production of JERUSALEM by Jez Butterworth, directed by Joe Jahraus, continues at The Main Stage through May 22, 2016.

Production Photos

The House Theatre of Chicago remounts its hit DEATH AND HARRY HOUDINI, (This is one of our all time favorites and even after seeing it for the 3rd time over the years, we're still completely entranced! Oh SO highly recommended!) Check out our original video interview with Dennis Watkins (AKA: Harry Houdini) right HERE: Written and directed by Nathan Allen and featuring magic by Dennis Watkins, May 12 – July 24 at The Chopin Theatre.

Lucy Kirkwood’s acclaimed play CHIMERICA, directed by Nick Bowling premieres at TimeLine Theatre Company May 3 – July 31, 2016.

Teatro Vista presents IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES, Caridad Svich’s new play based on Julia Álvarez's acclaimed novel at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. Runs through May 22, 2016.

THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND by Marcus Gardley, directed by Chay Yew will run June 10 – July 10, 2016, at Victory Gardens Theater.

The comedy THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD by Scott Carter, directed by Kimberly Senior, runs at Northlight Theatre, May 6 – June 12, 2016.

Children’s/Family works include:

The Chicago summer tradition Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks’ TWELFTH NIGHT brings a free 75-minute abridged production to neighborhood parks across the city all summer.

ChiIL Mama ChiILin' in Chi, IL at SEEDFOLKS at Chicago Children's Theatre. 

©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

Chicago Children’s Theatre presents SEEDFOLKS by Paul Fleischman (*It was our great pleasure to partner with Chicago Children's Theatre and give away a family 4 pack of tickets to SEEDFOLKS for one of our lucky readers.) We highly recommend this Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis production directed by Peter C. Brosius at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts May 5-22, 2016.

Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the smash hit Broadway musical, is returning to Chicago, May 24 – 29, 2016 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, presented by Broadway In Chicago.

Emerald City Theatre Company presents SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! at the Apollo Theater through June 5, 2016 and then at the Broadway Playhouse July 8 – August 28, 2016.

About Hot Tix
Serving Chicago for over 35 years, Hot Tix offers half-price tickets to a wide variety of theatre productions for the current week, as well as future performances. Hot Tix has three convenient downtown walk-up locations and half-price tickets are also available online at, easily searchable by date, show, theatre, or genre.

Hours and Locations
Expo 72: 72 E. Randolph (across from the Chicago Cultural Center)
Tues – Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Water Works: 163 E. Pearson (along the Magnificent Mile)
Tues – Sat: 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Block Thirty Seven: 108 N. State (at the first floor Guest Services desk)
Mon – Sat: 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm

                        Cadillac Palace by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara ©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

About Chicago theatre
Chicago theatre is a leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theatres throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theaters to the most renowned resident theatres in the country, including 5 that have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago’s theatres 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 the 2014-2015 season, Chicago theatre companies produced more than 100 world premiere productions and adaptations. Each year, Chicago theatres send new work to resident theatres across the country, to Broadway, and around the world.

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

For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website,  Half-price tickets are available year-round at

We also highly recommend The Last Defender at The House Theatre. My son had his 15th birthday party there and I also played the interactive theatre game the month before with my son and two of his friends when they first opened. It's too much fun! (*It was our great pleasure to partner with The House Theatre and give away 2 pairs of tickets to The Last Defender for 2 of our lucky readers.) 

We also highly recommend checking out the Shakespeare 400 Shows all over Chicago for the 400 year celebration of the bard's works.

©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Alice Is Here! Goodman Theatre's New Education Building Is Open

MAY 19-21


Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows, we're so excited about "The Alice". As a Chicago mom, theatre critic, and huge arts advocate, I'm beyond excited that these new facilities will enable The Goodman to expand their excellent educational arts programming. The children are our future, whether you are pre/post/or non parents of the birth to 18 year old bracket, raising a new generation of creative thinkers benefits us all. Theatre loving, arts loving kids make great problem solvers and assets to society. 


Build a play with your family, try your hand at stage combat, hear Chicago’s finest actors spill stage secrets—and more! Goodman Theatre proudly opens its Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (“the Alice”) with free opportunities for audiences to sample the variety of programming offered in the theater’s newly dedicated space for classes, lectures, discussions and special performance events. May 19 is “Lorraine Hansberry Day,” with events connected to the critically acclaimed current mainstage production, Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, directed by Anne Kauffman (on stage through June 5). A schedule of events appears below; reservations are recommended as space is limited: or 312.443.3800.

Thursday, May 19 – “Lorraine Hansberry Day” in Chicago
12 Noon | Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proclaimed May 19, 2016 “Lorraine Hansberry Day,” in honor of what would have been the Chicago native playwright’s  86th birthday. The company of The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window kicks off the special day with a reading of the mayoral proclamation—followed by birthday cake for all.

12:30pm | A conversation with artists about Hansberry’s body of work, the background and themes of the Goodman’s revival of her rarely-produced play, and her significance among American playwrights.

6pm | A screening of the 1961 film A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil and Diana Sands. Jackie Taylor, founder and executive director of the Black Ensemble Theater Company, introduces the film.

Friday, May 20
7pm | Listen to the Poem: Spoken Word and Open Mic
The Goodman Youth Poetry Ensemble delivers an electrifying performance featuring pieces from their past season and the work of other Chicago youth poets. Audience members are invited to share their own poetry works during an open mic session.

8pm | All tickets to this performance of The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window are $10 for students.

Saturday, May 21
9am and 10:30am | Play ’N 90 Workshop (two sessions)
An interactive family program in which 5-12 year-olds and their parents/guardians fashion a theatrical creation together—in only 90 minutes.

10am | Insider Access: "How Do Actors Learn All Those Darned Lines?"
Meet acclaimed actor Mary Beth Fisher (star of such Goodman productions as Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and Luna Gale) and particiate in her creative process, bringing a script from page to stage.

12 Noon | PlayBuild Workshop
Realize your creative potential in this intergenerational collective workshop! Participants will create performance pieces using personal history and storytelling techniques.

2pm | Storytelling Workshop
Master the art of storytelling with teaching artists from the Goodman’s GeNarrations program. In this collaborative ensemble-based workshop, participants learn the basics of writing, editing and performing personal narrative stories.

3pm | Insider Access: “Slap! Kick! Punch!”
Have some energy to burn? Learn the art of stage combat, the technique used to perform physical combats without causing harm to actors, from a professional fight choreographer.

4:30pm | Insider Access: "Not Acting Our Age"
A lively discussion with a handful of Chicago actors age 55+ about their esteemed bodies of work and the thrill of a life in the theater.

In addition to these activities, all pre- and post-performance discussions—“PlayTalks” and “PlayBacks”—for The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window and Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976 by Rebecca Gilman will take place in the Alice May 19 – 21, one hour prior to and immediately following each performance. Moderated by a Goodman artist, discussions include cast members and are free of charge for patrons.

About the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (“the Alice”)
The Goodman becomes the first Chicago theater to establish a facility dedicated to education and engagement programs when it opens the Alice—the next phase in the Goodman’s decades-long commitment to educating Chicago youth and promoting lifelong learning for audiences of all ages. Named for the late Goodman Trustee Alice Rapoport, the Alice is a 10,000 square-foot, LEED certified (upon completion), $15 million expansion effort (of which 80% supports expanded programming) that deepens the theater’s practice of using its art as education—using the process of artistic creation to empower and inspire youth and lifelong learners. The new facility includes classrooms, a hands-on STEM learning lab, rehearsal spaces and more, and will enable the Goodman to impact hundreds more Chicagoans through its myriad education and engagement programs. Patrons access the Alice though the Goodman Theatre, entering at the south end of the mezzanine lobby. The Alice is named for the late Alice Rapoport, a Goodman Trustee, chair of the theater’s Education and Community Engagement Committee and passionate advocate for the theater’s outreach efforts.

Artist, educator and activist Willa J. Taylor, Walter Director of Education and Engagement, has led the Goodman’s programs since 2007. Taylor and her team of associates—Bobby Biedrzycki (Curriculum and Instruction Associate), Elizabeth Rice (School Programs Coordinator), Brandi Lee (Education and Community Engagement Associate) and Adrian Azevedo (Education and Engagement Assistant)—collaborate with the Goodman’s artistic and executive leadership to oversee programmatic efforts in the Alice.

About Goodman Theatre
Called America’s “Best Regional Theatre” by Time magazine, Goodman Theatre has won international recognition for its artists, productions and programs, and is a major cultural, educational and economic pillar in Chicago. Founded in 1925 by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth (an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s), Goodman Theatre has garnered hundreds of awards for artistic achievement and community engagement, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards (including “Outstanding Regional Theatre” in 1992), nearly 160 Joseph Jefferson Awards and more. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the Goodman’s artistic priorities include new plays (more than 150 world or American premieres in the past 30 years), reimagined classics (including Falls’ nationally and internationally celebrated productions of Death of a Salesman, Long’s Day’s Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy), culturally specific work, musical theater (26 major productions in 20 years, including 10 world premieres) and international collaborations. Diversity and inclusion have been primary cornerstones of the Goodman’s mission for 30 years; over the past decade, 68% of the Goodman’s 35 world premieres were authored by women and/or playwrights of color, and the Goodman was the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Each year, the Goodman’s numerous education and community engagement programs—including the innovative Student Subscription Series, now in its 30th year—serve thousands of students, teachers, life-long learners and special constituencies. In addition, for nearly four decades the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has led to the creation of a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago.

Goodman Theatre’s leadership includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Joan Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Swati Mehta is Women’s Board President and Gordon C.C. Liao is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

Visit the Goodman virtually at, and on Twitter (@GoodmanTheatre), Facebook and Instagram.

OPENING: The Goodman Theatre Presents SOUPS, STEWS, AND CASSEROLES: 1976

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

MAY 21 – JUNE 19, 

Life was sweet in a small Wisconsin town…then corporate America came to the table. Goodman Theatre concludes its 2015/2016 Owen Theatre series with Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976, by Artistic Associate Rebecca Gilman—a timely and thought-provoking look at workers’ rights and the effects of big business on small town lives. Directed by Artistic Director Robert Falls, Gilman’s 1970s-era work centers on the working class Durst family, and the opportunities and moral dilemmas a buy-out of the Farmstead cheese factory raises. 

The previously announced cast features Cliff Chamberlain as longtime factory employee Kim Durst; Cora Vander Broek as his wife Kat; Lindsay Stock as their daughter, Kelly and Ty Olwin (Kyle), Angela Reed (Elaine) and Ann Whitney (JoAnne). Please note: the role of “JoAnne” will be portrayed by Meg Thalken on June 3 at 8pm; June 4 at 2pm and 8pm; and June 5 at 2pm and 7:30pm. Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976 appears May 21 – June 19 in the Owen Theatre (opening night is Tuesday, May 31). Tickets ($10 - $40; subject to change) are on sale now at, by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn). Mayer Brown LLP is the Corporate Sponsor Partner.

“The past four decades have seen massive changes in American commerce, with the legions of middle class workers who once formed our economic backbone downsized and globalized nearly out of existence. In our current election year, we might find Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976 offers a vital perspective into our vastly transformed landscape of 2016,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “As always, I am bowled over by the brevity and craftsmanship of Rebecca’s work; without resorting to flashy overstatement or outsized theatrics, she finds the human truths at the center of social conflict.”

A social awakening is underway for the town of Reynolds, Wisconsin, in the year of the American bicentennial, when the town’s main employer, Farmstead Cheese Factory, is bought out by a Chicago-based food conglomerate. The purchase leaves the Durst family and their friends and neighbors in a cycle of fear and uncertainty for their livelihoods. Although fictitious, the town of Reynolds resembles Green County, which lies in southwest Wisconsin. As in Green County and the world of the play, cheese is not only a delectable food, it represents the foundation of cultural traditions, socializing and finding connections to the residents’ European ancestry.  

Gilman found inspiration for her latest work in an unlikely place.

“I was at a garage sale for the volunteer fire department in this little town in Wisconsin, and I found a cookbook called Soups, Stews, and Casseroles:  1976. As I was reading the recipes the women of the town had submitted, I started to think about how communities really come together to help each other out in small towns in ways that remind me of how unions can have a really strong connection to community as well,” said Gilman.  

Set Designer Kevin Depinet’s interpretation of a classic 1970s kitchen is the heart and sole set for Falls’ production. The creative team also includes Jenny Mannis (costumes), Richard Woodbury (sound), Jesse Klug (lights) and Kim Osgood is the production stage manager.

The Chicago premiere of Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976 marks the eighth collaboration (five of which were Goodman commissions) between Goodman Theatre and Gilman—“one of Chicago’s hottest playwrights” (Chicago Tribune). Falls’ and Gilman’s last collaboration, Luna Gale, most recently earned the 2016 LA Drama Critics Circle, as well as the 2015 Steinberg/ATCA Award and the 2014 Jeff Award for New Work. Falls first encountered Gilman when he read her 1998 play The Glory of Living (a 2001 Pulitzer Prize finalist that was first produced at Circle Theatre). Soon after, he commissioned Gilman to write a new play for the Goodman; she responded with Spinning Into Butter (premiered in the Goodman Studio in 1999, directed by Les Waters, subsequently produced at Lincoln Center Theater in 2000 and made into a feature film starring Sarah Jessica Parker). The show’s run was extended three times and led to Gilman’s next Goodman commission, Boy Gets Girl (premiered at the Goodman in 2000, directed by the late Michael Maggio), which transferred to New York’s Manhattan Theatre Club and was named by Time magazine as one of the “best theater productions of the decade.” Falls later directed both Blue Surge (2001) and Dollhouse (2005)—a modern interpretation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. The Crowd You’re In With, directed by Wendy C. Goldberg, made its Chicago debut in 2009 at the Goodman, followed by A True History of the Johnstown Flood, a Goodman commission that had its world premiere at the Goodman in 2010 under Falls’ direction.

Rebecca Gilman’s plays include Luna Gale, A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Dollhouse, Boy Gets Girl, Spinning Into Butter, Blue Surge (all of which were commissioned and originally produced by the Goodman), The Glory of Living, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Crowd You’re in With. Gilman is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Critics Association New Play Award, The Harper Lee Award, The Scott McPherson Award, The Prince Prize for Commissioning New Work, The Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, The Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, The George Devine Award, The Theatre Masters Visionary Award, The Great Plains Playwright Award, The Roe Green Award, and an Illinois Arts Council playwriting fellowship. Boy Gets Girl received an Olivier nomination for Best New Play, and she was named a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for The Glory of Living. She is a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild of America and a board member of the ACLU of Illinois. She received her MFA in playwriting from the University of Iowa. Gilman is a professor of playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University as part of its MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage program.  She is the recipient of a Global Connections Grant by Theatre Communications Group and an American Scandinavian Foundation Creative Writing Grant for the development of a new play in conjunction with Göteborgs Dramatiska Teater in Gothenburg, Sweden: Rödvinsvänster (Red-Wine Leftists): 1977.

Robert Falls, a recent inductee into the Theater Hall of Fame, most recently co-adapted/directed the world premiere of his critically acclaimed production of 2666, based on Roberto Bolaño’s internationally celebrated novel.  Last season, he reprised his critically acclaimed production of The Iceman Cometh at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, directed Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles and directed a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Other recent productions include Measure for Measure and the world premiere of Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian. Among his other credits are The Seagull, King Lear, Desire Under the Elms, John Logan’s Red, Jon Robin Baitz’s Three Hotels, Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio and Conor McPherson’s Shining City; the world premieres of Richard Nelson’s Frank’s Home, Arthur Miller’s Finishing the Picture (his last play), Eric Bogosian’s Griller, Steve Tesich’s The Speed of Darkness and On the Open Road, John Logan’s Riverview: A Melodrama with Music and Rebecca Gilman’s A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Blue Surge and Dollhouse; the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s House and Garden and the Broadway production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. Falls’ honors for directing include, among others, a Tony Award (Death of a Salesman), a Drama Desk Award (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), an Obie Award (subUrbia), a Helen Hayes Award (King Lear) and multiple Jeff Awards (including a 2012 Jeff Award for The Iceman Cometh). For “outstanding contributions to theater,” Mr. Falls has also been recognized with such prestigious honors as the Savva Morozov Diamond Award (Moscow Art Theatre), the O’Neill Medallion (Eugene O’Neill Society), the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award (Lawyers for the Creative Arts) and the Illinois Arts Council Governor’s Award

May 26, Soups, Stews, and Conversation – 6pm; pre-show mix-n-mingle with artists from the show, followed by 7:30pm performance; Enter promo code SOUPS when purchasing at

June 5, Artist Encounter – 5pm; an in-depth conversation with Playwright Rebecca Gilman & Director Robert Falls, moderator TBD

June 8, American Sign Language Interpreted Performance –7:30pm; Enter the promo code SIGN when purchasing

June 12, Touch Tour Presentation – 12:30pm; a presentation detailing the set, costume and character elements; Audio Described Performance – 2pm; the action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset, enter promo code AUDIO when purchasing

June 19, Open Captioned Performance – 2pm; an LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance; Enter the promo code OPEN when purchasing
Visit Goodman for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.

Tickets ($10-$40); 312.443.3800; Fax: 312.443.3825; TTY/TDD: 312.443.3829
MezzTix – Half-price day-of-performance mezzanine tickets available at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX) 
$10Tix – Student $10 advance performance tickets; limit four, with valid student ID (promo code 10TIX)
Group Sales – Discounted tickets for parties of 10+ – 312.443.3820
Gift Certificates – Available in any amount (
Box Office Hours –12noon - 5pm; on performance days, the office remains open until 30 minutes past curtain)

About Goodman Theatre
Called America’s “Best Regional Theatre” by Time magazine, Goodman Theatre has won international recognition for its artists, productions and programs, and is a major cultural, educational and economic pillar in Chicago. Founded in 1925 by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth (an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s), Goodman Theatre has garnered hundreds of awards for artistic achievement and community engagement, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards (including “Outstanding Regional Theatre” in 1992), nearly 160 Joseph Jefferson Awards and more. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the Goodman’s artistic priorities include new plays (more than 150 world or American premieres in the past 30 years), reimagine

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