Wednesday, August 31, 2016

OPENING: Neo-Futurists Present World Premiere of SATURN RETURNS

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


Photos by Grace Pisula
Creator and Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member Tif Harrison in the Neo-Futurists’ Saturn Returns

The Neo-Futurists are proud to present the world premiere of Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member Tif Harrison’s Saturn Returns, A Neo-Lab production, supported by The National Endowment for the Arts, October 13 – November 19, at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. Saturn Returns is created by Tif Harrison, directed by Jen Ellison and featuring the writing and performances of: Kurt Chiang*, Tif Harrison*, Lily Mooney*, Kirsten Riiber* and Andrew Tham. Previews are Thursday, Oct. 13 -  Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. with opening night Monday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Performances run Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices for previews and Thursdays are pay what you can; for the regular run, tickets are $10-25. Tickets and information are available at or 773.275.5255.

Photos by Grace Pisula (L to R) Andrew Tham, Artistic Director Kurt Chiang, Ensemble Member Kirsten Riiber and  Creator and Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member Tif Harrison

Six months after turning 29, Saturn Returns creatorTif Harrison, received a crash course in loss. Her mother’s cross-country move, the death of her father and a break-up had Harrison reaching into the corners of the universe for anything that would stand still. Saturn Returns is a Neo-Futuristic exploration that asks larger existential questions about time, patience and the vast expanse of an unknowable universe. Tif Harrison and the ensemble look upward and outward, offering observations on the silence and solitude of space, on the uncrossable distances between celestial bodies and the intimacy of standing next to somebody you love. Saturn Returns examines both the astronomical and astrological implications of Saturn’s solar orbit— a 29-year journey— to observe various dramatic changes that have manifested in the lives of the individuals on stage.

Saturn Returns, a part of The Neo-Futurists new work residency Neo-Lab, held open workshops and showings for the past year, culminating in a final workshop performance at The Neo-Futurist Kitchen: a micro-festival on art and performance. Writer and Creator Harrison says, “Taking the time to search for the core of the show, while sharing our progress with audiences along the way, has helped us discover the new questions. This project began with, "Why do we look up?" Spending over a year pondering, the answers have led us to now wonder, "Can you learn to believe?"  and "What do we choose to believe in and what do we dismiss?"”

Photos by Grace Pisula Creator and Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member Tif Harrison in the Neo-Futurists’ Saturn Returns

Tif Harrison* (creator/performer) has been an ensemble member of The Neo-Futurists since 2011. In addition to writing and performing regularly in Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, Harrison was a writer and performed in The Miss Neo Pageant, directed Analog and served as an editor for the company’s most recent book, The Neo-Futurists: Body. She has performed at live lit events like The Paper Machete and Drinking & Writing’s Annual Beerfly Alleyfight. 
Jen Ellison (director) has been performing, writing and directing in Chicago for nearly 20 years.  Directing credits include Trap Door Theatre, WNEP, Collaboraction and The Neo-Futurists where she is an artist associate. As a resident director at the Second City, Ellison has overseen two national touring companies, developed multiple shows for their Outreach and Diversity program and directed Apes of Wrath for the ETC stage. In addition to teaching ethics at DePaul University, she is a member of the Comedy Writing and Performance faculty at Columbia College Chicago.

The Neo-Futurists
The Neo-Futurists, performers of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind and creators of over 65 original, full-length productions, are a collective of wildly productive writer-director-performers who are committed to creating immediate, non-illusory, irreproducible events at head-slappingly affordable prices. The Neo-Futurists pioneered a new form of theater in 1988, launching what became Chicago’s longest running show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, now in its 28th year. From humble beginnings as the first late-night theater production in Chicago, The Neo-Futurists have grown to become one of the most highly regarded experimental theater companies in America. More than 70 Ensemble-alumni have added thousands of new works to the American theatre canon and today branches bring Neo-Futurism to both coasts in New York City and San Francisco.

The Neo-Futurists are partially supported by grants from Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Network for Ensemble Theaters, The Illinois Arts Council Agency, The Chicago Community Trust, a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, The Field Foundation of Illinois, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts.

Neo-Lab and Saturn Returns are supported by The National Endowment for the Arts.



Here at ChiIL Live Shows we've been hearing rumors of Paramount Theatre's high caliber productions for years. Now the Jeff Awards judges have made it official, granting the Aurora based venue more nominations for the 2015-16 season than any other theatre in the region. Here's a recap of the shows that are up for Jeff Awards this October and a look at great things to come in Paramount's 2016-17 Broadway Series.

Oh what a beautiful day it is at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora!

Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Committee just announced the 2015-16 Equity Jeff Award nominees, and the Paramount is thrilled to share that its Broadway musical series productions earned 14 nominations - more than any other Chicago theater - for outstanding performance, direction and/or design in Chicago theatre last season.

Additionally, all four of its 2015-16 Broadway Series productions - OKLAHOMA!
A Christmas Story - The Musical, Hairspray - The Broadway Musical and West Side Story - were nominated.

Here's the list:

West Side Story - seven nominations 

Production - Musical - Large
Director - Musical - Jim Corti
Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical - Mary Antonini (Anita)
Choreography - William Carlos Angulo
Music Direction - Tom Vendafreddo
Scenic Design - Kevin Depinet
Lighting Design - Jesse Klug

The Sharks vs. The Jets in Paramount's West Side Story

OKLAHOMA! - four nominations  

Production - Musical - Large
Actor in a Principal Role - Colte Julian (Curly)
Choreography - Katie Spelman
Music Direction - Tom Vendafreddo


Colte Julian as Curly and Allison Sill as Laurey in Paramount's OKLAHOMA!

Hairspray - The Broadway Musical - two nominations

Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical - E. Faye Butler (Motormouth Maybelle)
Costume Design - Large - Theresa Ham

(center trio, from left: Amelia Jo Parrish (pink dress) as Tracy Turnbald, E. Faye Bulter as Motormouth Maybelle and Landree Fleming (green dress) as Penny Pingleton in Paramount's Hairpray - The Broadway Musical

A Christmas Story - The Musical - one nomination

Music Direction - Tom Vendafreddo

Michael Harp as Ralphie in Paramount's A Christmas Story - The Musical

"We couldn't be more thrilled for this much-appreciated recognition from the 
Jeff Committee for Paramount's Broadway team and every theater artist who worked on last season's productions," said Paramount President and CEO Tim Rater. 

"We weren't joking when we launched the Broadway series five years ago with a goal of producing the very best musicals in the entire Chicago area. Judging from the Jeff Committee's response to our work for two consecutive seasons, I'm happy to say we are attaining that goal."

"I'm very grateful to the hard working Jeff Committee, Chicago theater lovers all! As always, I'm also very happy for the creative and technical teams, on stage and behind the scenes, for this recognition," said Artistic Director Jim Corti. 

Last season, Corti won the Jeff Award for Best Director/Musical (Large) for his 2015 staging of Les Misérables, which also won Best Musical - two of five top Jeff Awards from an unprecedented 16 nominations in 2014-15, the Paramount's first year of eligibility.

Mark your calendars: the 2015-16 Jeff Award winners will be announced 
October 17, 2016. 
To see the full list of nominees, visit

More about Paramount's 2016-17 Broadway Series
Looking ahead to more award-winning, Broadway caliber productions, Paramount's 2016-17 Broadway season includes Mamma Mia! (Sept. 7-Oct. 30, 2016), Disney's The Little Mermaid (Nov. 23, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017), Sweeney Todd-The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Feb. 8-Mar. 19, 2017) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Apr. 19-May 28, 2017).

Paramount anticipates more than 30,000 subscribers will take advantage of Paramount's now-familiar Buy Two, Get Two offer, or four musicals for no more than $29.50 per show.

The rewards are ample - four amazing, Broadway-quality, award-winning classic American musicals at one of the most majestic theaters in the Midwest, all for the price of one show downtown. 

To purchase subscriptions or single tickets, visit, call 
(630) 896-6666 or visit the Paramount Theatre box office, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in the heart of downtown Aurora.

Paramount's 2016-17 Broadway Series is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, The Dunham Fund, Rush-Copley Medical Center, Gerald Kia and ComEd.

About The Paramount Theatre 
The Paramount Theatre ( is the center for performing arts, entertainment and arts education in Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois. Named "One of Chicago's Top 10 Attended Theatres" by the League of Chicago Theatres, the 1,888-seat Paramount, located in downtown Aurora at 23 E. Galena Blvd., is nationally recognized for the quality and caliber of its presentations, superb acoustics and historic beauty.   

The Paramount self-produces its own Broadway Musical Series, presents an eclectic array of comedy, music, dance and family shows, and on most Mondays, screens a classic movie.

The Paramount Theatre continues to expand its artistic and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Tim Rater, President and CEO, Aurora Civic Center Authority; Jim Corti, Artistic Director, Paramount Theatre; a dedicated Board of Trustees and a devoted staff of live theater and music professionals. 

For tickets and information, go to or call 
(630) 896-6666.

Inside the historic Paramount Theatre

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Solo Celebration Continues at Greenhouse Theatre With I Do Today

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

SEPT. 2 – OCT. 9

Carin Silkaitis Stars In a One- Person Play Challenging Old Ideals of Love, Sexuality and Commitment

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we've caught all but 2 of the Solo Celebration Shows so far this season and highly recommend coming out to Greenhouse Theatre for this excellent series. The topics have run the gamut from heartfelt to hilarious and everything in between. All have brought something unique to the table. We're looking forward to a first look at this world premiere. 

The World Premiere of “I Do Today” will run at the Greenhouse Theater Center (2257 N. Lincoln Ave) Sept. 2 – Oct. 9. Co-produced with The Other Theatre Company, written by Sarah Myers and starring Carin Silkaitis, “I Do Today” will be directed by Greenhouse’s Artistic Director Jacob Harvey, making his Chicago directorial debut.   The press opening will be on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. 

In “I Do Today,” Silkaitis portrays a Jewish woman determined to uproot a family tree grown wild with multiple marriages, dates and even more divorces. As she delves deeper into her own subconscious, she must grapple with her past, questioning how it has defined her and what it means in this moment. She quickly discovers that she must challenge the notions of love, sexuality and commitment in a world where modern marriage refuses to fit into old ideals.

“This innovative new play about one woman’s internal explorations allows all of us an opportunity to identify and assemble the pieces of ourselves that constitute who we are today and who we might be tomorrow,” said Harvey.  “Myers has crafted a theatrical puzzle that this ensemble of collaborators and I has been able to assemble in an unexpected and captivating evening of theater.”

The performance schedule for “I Do Today” is as follows: Thursday – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.  and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Previews begin Sept. 2, and the opening night is Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Performances continue through Oct. 9.

Flex passes to the Solo Celebration! series, which offers admissions to three plays for $99 or five plays for $164, are now on sale.  Single tickets, which range in price from $34 – 48 are also on sale.  Flex passes and tickets can be purchased by contacting the box office at 773-404-7336 or by visiting

Sarah Myers is a Chicago native currently living in Minneapolis. Her work has been produced and developed at the Wild Project (New York); the Side Project with The Other Theatre Company, The Women & Theater Conference (Chicago); FronteraFest, the Off Center, the Blue Theater, the David Mark Cohen New Works Festival (Austin); and Indiana Repertory Theater (Indianapolis), among others. Myers’ published plays include “The Realm” (Bonderman National Youth Playwriting Award), “God of the Gaps” (Pushcart Prize nominee), and “In and Out.” Myers is a former company member of Austin-based theater collective Rude Mechanicals, an associate member of Twin Cities-based Workhaus Collective, and an ongoing collaborator with Sod House Theater, a company that creates adaptations and new works with communities throughout Minnesota.

Carin Silkaitis is the founding Artistic Director of The Other Theatre Company where her credits include “The Realm and Other Letters,” “Others,” “Daughters of Ire” and “Barney the Elf.”  Notable television/film credits include: a co-staring role on “Chicago Fire,” nurse in “Unexpected” and Maggie in the short film “Blood and Water.” Silkaitis recently shot back-to-back commercials for the Arkansas Lottery, a recent spot for The Onion and a commercial for Progressive Insurance and Instant Care. Notable theater credits include Chloe in “Lips Together, Teeth Apart,” “Sons of the Prophet,” Queen Margaret in “Richard III,” Mama/Sherry/Vera in “Distracted” and Izzy in “Rabbit Hole” (Goodman Theatre).

Jacob Harvey is the Artistic Director of the Greenhouse Theater Center. Harvey is also a producer for Your Theatrics International, a full service entertainment production company, specializing in the production of theatrical events around the world. He was awarded the Bret C. Harte Director/Producer Fellowship for Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s 2013/14 Season; served as Associate Producer and Interim Director of Programming for the Drama Desk Award Winning New York Musical Theatre Festival; and served as the Co-Artistic Director of the Ovation Award-Nominated Mechanicals Theatre Group in Los Angeles. He was the co-producer of “Ladyhawks” (NYMF 2013 Best of Fest under the title Volleygirls); the associate producer of Ryan Scott Oliver’s “35MM: A Musical Exhibition” and the director of the Eberhardt and Collyer musical “Right Together, Left Together.”  Other directing credits include, “Mr. Marmalade” (The Theatricians), “The Shape of Things” (Silver Bell Productions), the world premiere of “The Many Selves of Mia Scott” (Carrie Hamilton Theater) and assistant director of the world premiere of Marcus Gardley’s “The House The Will Not Stand” (Berkeley Repertory Theatre). 

About The Other Theatre Company
The Other Theatre Company is dedicated to telling the stories of individuals or groups who are “othered” by systems of oppression. Othering individuals or groups sustains power and privilege and is an "us" vs. "them" mentality often centered around race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, identity, class, religion, and ability. The Other Theatre Company is committed to telling these stories in the hope that we can lessen the amount of discrimination and oppression in our world. 

An Illinois non-profit, TOTC was founded in 2014 in Chicago, Illinois with their first festival titled “Others: A 24 Hour Play Festival.”  Since then, their season has expanded to include three shows a year, including their annual production of “Barney the Elf” (a musical parody of the film Elf starring Will Ferrell). 

About Solo Celebration! 
 “I Do Today” is one of 12 plays featured in Greenhouse’s “Solo Celebration!,” which includes ten full productions, two limited engagements and other special events running June 2016 through February 2017. Among the other directors connected to solo series are Goodman Theatre Producer and Artistic Collective Member Steve Scott, Writer’s Theatre Resident Director Kimberly Senior, Directors Lab Chicago Artistic Director Elizabeth Margolius and Remy Bumppo Artistic Associate Linda Gillum. Some of the performers confirmed to star in solo works include Jeff Award-winners Kate Buddeke, Gene Weygandt, Linda Reiter acclaimed British actor Simon Slater, Will Allan and Carin Silkaitis. Most productions will be produced in their entirety by Greenhouse, while other plays will be stated with co-producers including Sideshow Theatre Company and The Other Theatre Company. Greenhouse’s “Solo Celebration!” is co-produced by Forum Productions and underwritten by the Wendy and William Spatz Charitable Foundation.

About the Greenhouse Theater Center. 
The Greenhouse Theater Center is a nonprofit performance venue located at 2257 N Lincoln Ave, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Our complex offers two newly remodeled 190-seat main stage spaces, two 60-seat studio theaters, an in-house rehearsal room, and Chicago’s only dedicated used theatre book store.

Our mission at the Greenhouse is first and foremost to grow local theatre. We strive to cultivate a fertile environment for local artists, from individual renters to our bevy of resident companies, to develop and produce their work. In 2014 alone, The Greenhouse Theater Center provided space for almost 1,000 ticketed performances, serving more than 54,000 patrons. Among these events were at least 30 productions by our resident companies, including the celebrated American Blues Theater and Remy Bumpo Theatre Company. Through our Trellis Program, we offer the community affordable access to our work by housing Chicago’s only dedicated used theatre bookstore, located on the second floor of our complex, as well as offering a free reading series each Tuesday night where local artists workshop their latest scripts. Additionally, we also continue to play an active role in cultivating and nurturing our community through continued partnerships with the League of Chicago Theaters and local Chambers of Commerce.

As of 2016, the Greenhouse Theater Center embraced the true spirit of growth and launched its producing entity. With the announcement of our 8 month long Solo Celebration Series, helmed by Artistic Director Jacob Harvey, we will produce 12 solo plays from June 2016 to February 2017. Through this inaugural effort, we hope to expand the solo play cannon while also cultivating a larger conversation about the possibilities of the one-person play.

With new ideas always incubating, the Greenhouse Theater Center is flourishing.
Come grow with us!

“Opus Cactus” To Open McAninch Arts Center's 30th Season With Whimsical Wonder

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:
College of DuPage is located 25 miles west of Chi, IL


McAninch Arts Center (MAC) opens its 30th Anniversary Season Performance Series with MOMIX’s full-length multimedia spectacular “Opus Cactus,” Saturday, Sept. 10, 7:30 p.m.This mesmerizing production explores the wonders of the desert through dynamic acrobatic images of cacti, slithering lizards, fire dancers and more. New York Times hails Opus Cactus as “exploding with a sense of magic, danger, sensuality, quirkiness, humor and beauty.”

After a 10-year hiatus, “Opus Cactus” returns with a new look, fresh energy and fun surprises. Set to a hypnotic mix of music from J.S. Bach to new age to tribal, this prop-laden piece of 19 seamless vignettes uses low-flying trapeze, harnesses, belly dollies, vaulting poles, oversized fan, puppets and skirts, a swing-like hammock, a rolling metal sculpture and outrageous costumes to transport audiences to the exotic world of the desert.

Sections such as “Dream Catcher,” “Pole Dance,” “Ostrich of the Imagination,” “Gila Monster,” and “Desert Blooms” showcase the virtuosity and versatility of the dancer-illusionists. The dancers include Steven Ezra, who was a 2011 finalist on “America’s Got Talent” with the shadow performance troupe Catapult; Jonathan Eden, who joined MOMIX in 2004; Jason Williams who has been touring with the company since 2011; Greg DeArmond who has been with the company since 2014; Anthony Bocconi, formerly with the Lar Lubovitch Dance company, now with MOMIX since 2015;  Rebecca Rasmussen, a member of the company since 2006; and Sarah Nachbauer, a 10 year veteran of MOMIX. Two more dancers will be announced at a later date.

Moses Pendelton (choreographer and MOMIX artistic director) formed the MOMIX in 1981 as an offshoot of the dance company Pilobolus, which he co-founded while a senior at Dartmouth College in 1971 and performed with as full-time member with the company until 1980.

Known internationally for presenting work of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty, MOMIX, now in its 36th year, is a company of dancer-illusionists celebrated for its ability to conjure up a world of surrealistic images using props, light, shadow, humor and the human body. In addition to stage performances world-wide, the company has frequently worked on special projects and in film and television. MOMIX has made five Italian RAI television features broadcast to 55 countries (including the USSR and China) and has performed on Antenne II in France. MOMIX was featured in PBS’s “Dance in America” series and one of the first IMAX films in 3-D, “IMAGINE”, which premiered at the Taejon Expo 93 and was subsequently released at IMAX theaters world-wide. MOMIX has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Denmark, England, Austria, Ireland, Holland, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Australia. The company is based in Washington, Conn.

McAninch Arts Center (MAC) located at 425 Fawell Blvd. on the campus of College of DuPage presents MOMIX in “Opus Cactus,” Saturday, Sept. 10, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $42-$52. New for 2016-2017: for selected shows, the MAC offers the VIP Experience featuring a private, pre-show cocktail and hor d’oeuvres, reception and coffee and dessert at intermission. The VIP experience is available for this event for an additional $30 per person. For tickets or more information visit or call 630.942.4000.

About the MAC
McAninch Arts Center (MAC) at College of DuPage is located 25 miles west of Chicago near I-88 and I-355, and houses three performance spaces (the 780-seat proscenium Belushi Performance Hall; the 186-seat soft-thrust Playhouse Theatre; and the versatile black box Studio Theatre), plus the Cleve Carney Art Gallery, classrooms for the college’s academic programming and the Lakeside Pavilion. The MAC, now celebrating its 30th Anniversary, has presented theater, music, dance and visual art to more than 1.5 million people since its opening in 1986 and typically welcomes more than 75,000 patrons from the greater Chicago area to more than 230 performances each season.

The mission of the MAC is to foster enlightened educational and performance opportunities, which encourage artistic expression, establish a lasting relationship between people and art, and enrich the cultural vitality of the community. For more information about the MAC, visit, or

 *Events, dates, artists and prices subject to change.

The MAC’s 2016-2017 Season is made possible in part with support by The DuPage Foundation, Hilton  Lisle/Naperville, Brookdale-Glen Ellyn; The JCS Arts & Education Fund of the DuPage Foundation; the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Smith Financial Advisors, Inc; SlTlG Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C.; Follett’s College of DuPage Bookstore; Paramount Theatre; WFMT 98.7 FM; WBEZ 91.5 FM; WDCB 90.9 FM and the College of DuPage Foundation. 

Established as a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit charitable organization in 1967, the College of DuPage Foundation raises monetary and in-kind gifts to increase access to education and to enhance cultural opportunities for the surrounding community. For more information about the College of DuPage Foundation, visit or call 630.942.2462.

Programs at the MAC are partially supported through a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.  

Monday, August 22, 2016


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


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

All photos by Matthew Gregory Hollis

(from left) Isabella Karina Coelho, Michael Buono and Dawn Bless in Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan

Cor Theatre, the bold new Chicago storefront company hailed for "Most Promising Debut" last season by Time Out Chicago, continues its 2016 season with a scorching new production of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan. We've been booked so solid this summer here at ChiIL Live Shows

Cor company member Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner's translation of Brecht's popular parable of good and evil. Fellow Cor ensemble member Will Von Vogt plays the title role of the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, just one example of non-traditional, color and gender-blind casting in what promises to be one of the most talked about Chicago theater offerings this summer.

Performances of Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan are now through September 11, 2016 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells Street in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood. 

Performances run through September 11: Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25; $10 students and industry. Tickets go on sale July 1. For tickets and information, visit or call (866) 811-4111

"Our theater must stimulate a desire for understanding, 
a delight in changing reality." 
~Bertolt Brecht

Chris Brickhouse is Sun/Husband and Will Von Vogt plays the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, in Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan.

In The Good Person of Szechwan, three gods are on a journey to find out if there are any good people left on earth. Only Shen Te, a kind and generous prostitute, offers them shelter. With the money they give her she opens a tobacco shop. At once everyone needs her help. Her livelihood is in danger. Worse, she is falling in love with Sun, a pilot, who is robbing her blind. Her hard hearted cousin, Shui Ta, arrives to protect her. Who is he and how can good people stay good in a world of poverty and cruelty?

Cor's epic production is set in a multicultural, urban environment on the brink of change, much like Chicago. Infused with hot hip hop beats, Cor's new "Brecht meets Empire" take on Good Person will remind audiences that Brecht was not only one of the greatest theatrical thinkers of the last century, but entertainers as well.

"Brecht's brilliant play, which grapples with themes of income and gender inequality, poverty and urban decay, seems just as relevant today, if not more so, than it did when he completed it in 1940," said director Ernie Nolan. "As the nation debates issues of sex and gender identity, as our presidential race is speeding up, and with our presidential candidates asking us to consider why they are 'good' for the job, Good Person examines Shen Te's struggle to be 'good' in a world where goodness isn't exactly in demand." 

(from left) Jos N. Banks, Aida Delaz and Ben Chang in Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan

In addition to Von Vogt as Shen Te, Cor's 12-person cast for Good Person reflects the diversity of Chicago: Dawn Bless as Wang the Watercarrier, Chris Brickhouse as Sun/Husband, Niko Kourtis as Shu Fu/Wife, Jeri Marshall as Mrs. Shin, Lea Pascal as Mrs. Mi Tzu, Narciso Lobo as Policeman/Mrs. Yang/Unemployed Man, Ben Chang as God 3/ Grandfather/Old Prostitute, Jos N. Banks as God 2/Sister in Law/Guard, Aida Delaz as God 1/Carpenter/ Guard, Michael Buono as Nephew/Male Vocal and Isabella Coelho as Niece.

Designers are Stefin Steberl (set and props), Alarie Hammock (costumes), Claire Chrzan (lights), Matt Reich (sound), Adam Gutkin (technical director), Tosha Fowler (movement), Elyse Cowles (production manager) and Meredith Matthews (production stage manager.) Tosha Fowler is Producing Artistic Director of Cor Theatre.

Ernie Nolan is an award winning director and playwright who received the Illinois Theatre Association's 2014 award for Excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences. He is a company member of Cor Theatre and last year he directed Love and Human Remains which New City named one of the "Top Five Dramas of 2015." For Chicago Playworks he has directed The BFG, The Giver, The Witches, A Wrinkle in Time, Number the Stars, and The Day John Henry Came to School. His work at The Broadway Playhouse includes A Charlie Brown Christmas, Fancy Nancy The Musical, Pinkalicious, The Cat in the Hat, Cinderella, Charlotte's Web and the world premiere of Hansel and Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat with Justin Roberts. Nolan's playwriting has been produced nationally and at such theatres as The Coterie, First Stage, Walnut Street, Orlando Rep and Children's Theatre of Charlotte. He has written commissions for Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD, La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, CA, The Milwaukee Zoological Society, and his latest commission, My Broken Doll, for the Institute for Holocaust Education and The Circle Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska. Also a resident artist of The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, MO, he has directed and choreographed world premieres by such Tony­-nominated artists as Willy and Rob Reale, Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and Bill Russell and Henry Krieger Nolan is an Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at The Theatre School at DePaul University as well as the Vice President of Theatre for Young Audiences USA. He is a graduate of both the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Program (BFA Musical Theatre) and The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA Directing).

Will Von Vogt (Shen Te) is an ensemble member at Cor, where he co-starred earlier this season in Christina, The Girl King, and in last season's A Map of Virtue. Other credits include The Other Theatre Company's revival of Bent, along with Romeo and Juliet, The Heidi Chronicles, Blur, The Altruists, Empire Falls (HBO), Google Me Love (produced by the Wachowskis) and serving on the producing team of Salonathon                                                                          
Tony Kushner (translator) is the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, screenwriter, and author whose works have played everywhere from Broadway to HBO. His play Angels in America earned him the Pulitzer Prize, among many other awards. His other acclaimed plays include Slavs, Homebody/Kabul and Caroline, or Change

German playwright, poet and director Bertolt Brecht (playwright, 1898-1956) established himself as a playwright during the 1920s and early 1930s with plays such as Baal, Man is Man, The Threepenny Opera and The Mother. In 1933, as Hitler came to power in Germany, he fled to Scandinavia before settling in the U.S. During the war years, he wrote many of his best known plays including The Life of Galileo, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mother Courage and Her Children and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

The Good Person of Szechwan, Brecht's parable of good and evil, was first performed in 1943 and remains one of his frequently produced plays worldwide. 

Cor Theatre ensemble member Will Von Vogt (center) plays the title role of the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, in Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan.

About Cor Theatre
Cor Theatre ( debuted in September 2012 with a vision to create theatrical experiences that are rarely presented in Chicago by artists who seek to defy expectation. Cor's mission is to explore the inner truth of the human experience through storytelling that defies convention, and to engage audiences by telling stories that take courage to tell.

Cor's first production, Skin Tight by Gary Henderson, produced by Tosha Fowler and Victoria Delorio in 2012 at A Red Orchid, was rewarded with enthusiastic audiences, critical acclaim and made just enough money to establish a not-for-profit corporation. The company subsequently named itself Cor Theatre, deriving its name from the Latin root of courage - meaning heart.

In 2015, Cor expanded to a two-show season launching with an acclaimed production of Erin Courtney's A Map of Virtue, named Most Promising Debut by Time Out Chicago, and nominated for several Time Out Chicago Theatre Awards including Best Supporting Actress (Scottie Caldwell) and Best Design (Tierra G. Novy, set; Stefin Steberl, costumes and props; Eric Vigo, lights; and Jeffrey Levin, sound.)

Cor's second 2015 production, Love and Human Remains, the first professional staging of Brad Fraser's controversial play in Chicago in 20 years, was directed by Ernie Nolan, played to numerous sold-out houses and was listed as one of the top plays to see by Windy City Times and New City.

To kick off its 2016 season this past spring, Cor staged a daring U.S. debut of Christina, The Girl King, Linda Gaboriau's translation of French playwright Michel Marc Bouchard's 2012 play Christine, la reine-garcon, based on the true life of the 17th century's Queen Christina of Sweden. In response, New City reiterated its praise for Cor, calling the company "trailblazing," a "gifted and brave collection of artists," adding "It is one thing to be captivated or even moved by theater. Yet, to be excited or energized are experiences far more rare. These are reactions spurred from witnessing originality and fearlessness."

Today, Cor is proud to be one of Chicago's newest and most ambitious Chicago professional theatre companies with a growing board and strong experience behind it. Company members are Tony Bozzuto, Chris Brickhouse, Elyse Cowles, Tosha Fowler, Adam Gutkin, Alarie Hammock, Topher Kielbasa, Jeffrey Levin, Claire Meyers, Ernie Nolan, Stefin Steberl, Eric Vigo and Will Von Vogt

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

OPENING: Polarity Ensemble Theatre Presents World Premiere Play LEAVINGS by Award Winning Chicago Native Gail Parrish

Polarity Ensemble Theatre Presents the World Premiere Play 
by Gail Parrish, 
October 21 - November 20, 2016 

New Play Explores the Intergenerational Trauma of Slavery 

Polarity Ensemble Theatre presents the world premiere of Gail Parrish's LEAVINGS, a story of racial reconciliation that brings an important voice to the public dialogue on Black Lives Matter. Directed by Ashley Honore Roberson, it plays October 21 - November 20, 2016 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, where Polarity is a resident company. Tickets are on sale at or by calling the box office at 773-404-7336. 

About the play: Co-winner of our 2015 Dionysos Cup Festival of New Plays, LEAVINGS follows the final days of Mama Bea, a 111 year old African American in Chicago. Mama Bea uses her last strength to unite with Governor Skinner, the white governor of Mississippi, to set to rest the spirits that haunt her family. She and the governor are both descended from a nineteenth century slave owner who left the White half of the family with a heritage of privilege and economic security and the Black half with a history of familial separation, segregation and violence. Only by uniting the White and Black sides in a ritual of reconciliation can the tortured spirits that haunt the family be put to rest. 

LEAVINGS was developed in Polarity Ensemble Theatre's 2015 Dionysos Cup Festival of New Plays. It is the tenth Polarity-developed play by a Chicago-area playwright to reach its world premiere on a Chicago stage. 

The production team for LEAVINGS includes Charles C. Palia Jr (set design), Benjamin L. White, USA (lighting design), Spence Andrew Batho (sound design/composer), Rachel C. Boylan, (costume design), Deborah Baxter (properties), Jill Perez (dramaturg), and Hazel Flowers McCabe (stage manager). 

Location: Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Dates: Previews: Friday, October 21 at 8:00 PM and Saturday, October 22 at 8:00 PM 
Press Opening: Sunday, October 23 at 3:00 PM
Regular Run: Thursday, October 27 - Sunday, November 20, 2016. Additional performance Monday, November 7 at 8:00 PM.
Curtain Times: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 PM, Sunday at 3:00 PM
Tickets: Previews: $15. Press Opening and Regular Run: $25. Students: $10, Seniors: $20. 
Tickets are available at and 773-404-7336

About the Playwright
Gail Parrish is a Chicago-born playwright whose plays have been produced and developed at Polarity Ensemble Theatre, Karamu Theatre, Juneteenth Legacy Theatre at Actor's Theatre of Louisville, City 616, Black Women Playwrights Group at Studio Theatre, Amelia Earhart Playhouse at Wiesbaden, Germany, eta Creative Arts Foundation, In Good Company Children's Theatre, Extra Mile Playwrights, Michigan Playwrights, Chicago Dramatists and Black Writers in Production. She studied playwriting as an undergraduate at Howard University and has continued to write plays throughout her life.

Ms. Parrish's Leavings was the winner (tied) of Polarity Ensemble Theatre's Dionysos Cup Festival and a semi-finalist in American Blues Theater's Blue Ink Award. Her one-act play, Elevator, was awarded grand prize in Daimler-Chrysler's Dreambuilder's National Playwriting Competition. She received an Emmy nomination from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Midwest chapter for the Elevator screenplay. Other awards include The Black Gospel Play Association's National Stage Play Competition grand prize for Bringing Back Josephine and grand prize in Black Writers in Production National Playwriting Competition. Other plays and screenplays written by Parrish include Tribute, Prodigal, Meeting, Hear the Drum, Making of a Man, Brookland, Not Brooklyn (co-writer) and Neighbors of the Forest.

Ms. Parrish lives in Oswego, Illinois with her husband Maurice Parrish.

About the Director
Ashley Honore Roberson has been working as an artist in the Chicagoland area for the past eight years. She has worked on stage with Chicago Children's Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, and Court Theatre. As a teaching artist Ashley works all over the city with several theatres/programs such as Congo Square, Northlight, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Writers Theatre and PureArt. She recently wrote and directed her first play, Once Upon A Zombie Apocalypse for the Chicago Kid's Fringe Festival, assistant directed for Emerald City and Chicago Children's Theatre and directed in the Black Lives, Black Words International Project and The Artistic Home Studio's Cut to the Chase play festival. 

About Polarity Ensemble Theatre

Founded in 2004, Polarity Ensemble Theatre is a professionally diverse group of artists who strive to advance the state of Chicago theater for both local and international audiences by developing new works and bringing new life to the classics through live performance, workshops, and publishing. For more information, visit

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Theater Wit's Complete 2016-17 Season Announced

Chi, IL Live Shows On Our Radar

10 OUT of 12  

Theater Wit Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler, currently in rehearsals for Wit's 2016-17 season opener, Mat Smart's new dramatic comedy Naperville, announced the balance of the company's 2016-17 "smart art" line-up:

Jeremy Wechsler

New Additions To The Lineup:

First is an election-season production of Mike Daisey's The Trump Card. Already a sensation at New York's Public Theatre and now on tour, Daisey has "open sourced" the rights to his 70-minute take-down of the current Republican presidential nominee. 

Wit can't wait to "take on the reigning world heavyweight of self-mythologizing, the short-fingered vulgarian who captured a nation's heart through bullying, charm, one-syllable explosions, and occasionally telling the brutal truth: Donald J. Trump." The Trump Card opens October 5 and closes on election night, November 8.  Wechsler will direct. Casting, performance times and ticket prices are TBA.

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows we were bummed to hear the rights to The Santaland Diaries had been pulled nationally for this holiday season. Mitchell Fain's hilarious portrayal of Crumpet the elf has become a tradition for us and a much needed antidote to all the saccharin sweet songs and annoying commercialism that consumes our public spaces from November to January. We're beyond excited that Mitchell Fain and Theater Wit have found a way to do an end run around this obstacle and present the world premiere of a brand new holiday tradition, This Way Outta Santaland, Mitchell Fain's all-new autobiographical holiday show. Don't miss this stunningly funny tell-all about his eight years starring as Crumpet the elf in Wit's long-running hit The Santaland Diaries

Audiences will adore Fain's fresh revelations about how family, drunks, 250 performances and the holiday spirits collide. Boozy Christmas carols, celebrity holiday gossip and the private lives of elves are all up for grabs in this warm-hearted take on a holiday show about a holiday show. Performances are November 23-December 23, 2016.

The Midwest debut of 10 Out of 12 by Anne Washburn, author of Wit's 2014 smash hit Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, is Wit's spring finale. 

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows, we adored Mr. Burns, a post-electric play (pictured above & below)! We can't wait to see what Anne Washburn has in store for us this season.

Washburn's newest, most adventurous work, 10 Out of 12 is a near-perfect recreation of a technical rehearsal, celebrating the hopes and visions that emerge from the most mundane of processes. 

Anne Washburn, Playwright

In Wit's production, audiences will don their own headsets to hear the backstage chatter and experience the challenges of bringing a new play to life. What's more, Washburn will join director Jeremy Wechsler to create a 10 Out of 12 fully customized for Chicago's theater scene. Chicago theater lovers won't want to miss Wit's who's-who Chicago version of what the New York Times declared a  "wholly original love song to the maddening art of the theater." Performances are March 3-April 23, 2017.        


Already announced is Theater Wit's 2016-17 season opener, the Midwest premiere of Mat Smart's Naperville. This extraordinary dramatic comedy is set in a Caribou Coffee in - you guessed it - Naperville.  Smart, a native of Naperville, now a New York writer, returns to Chicago riding a wave of local acclaim after his play The Royal Society of Antarctica at Gift Theatre won the 2015 Equity Jeff Award for Best New Work. New York Theatre Review hailed the 2014 off-off-Broadway premiere of Naperville "a heartfelt and beautiful meditation on the comedy and tragedy of quiet places we are too quick to forget" and a "valentine to the heart and soul of the American suburbs." Previews start August 26. Press opening is Tuesday, 
September 6 at 7:30 p.m. Performances run through October 16. 

"I'm very excited to announce one of Chicago's most exciting seasons of work from the country's finest playwrights and artists, " said Theater Wit Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler. " These surprising plays are a clarion call for how compassion, humor and understanding can ignite unexpected community in a divided society. Ranging from the broadest political stage to the smallest coffee house, these plays scale from the smallest nuclear family to the larger collectives that create meaning and connection from nothing but plywood and determination. I've strived to find those particular works that can thrive in our unique home and artistic processes. It's going to be a memorable year."

The best way to secure seats is to sign up for a Theater Wit Membership. Wit's Netflix-like "all the theater you can eat" deal lets members see as many plays at they want at any of Theater Wit's three spaces for one low monthly fee of $36/$22 for students, along with many exclusive member perks. 

To purchase a Membership, inquire about Flex Pass options or to buy single tickets, visit or call the Theater Wit box office, 773.975.8150.

Theater Wit is located at 1229 N. Belmont, in the heart of the new Belmont Theatre District in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. To receive an "artisanal selection of consonants and vowels from Theater Wit," sign up at for exclusive updates, flash deals and behind-the-scenes production scoop every few weeks.

About Theater Wit
Theater Wit - "a thrilling addition to Chicago's roster of theaters" (Chicago Tribune) and "a terrific place to see a show" (New City) - will open its sixth season this fall in its home at 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. 

Founded in 2004, Theater Wit's mission is to explore contemporary issues with wit and wisdom through new works and Chicago premieres. As a production company, Theater Wit is Chicago's premiere smart art theater, producing humorous, challenging and intelligent plays that speak with a vibrant and contemporary theatrical voice. 

Recent critical and box office hits include The New Sincerity by Alena Smith, Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence and Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England by Madeleine George, Completeness and The Four of Us by Itamar Moses. 

In 2014, Theater Wit was awarded the National Theatre Award by the American Theatre Wing for strengthening the quality, diversity and dynamism of American theater.

As an institution, Theater Wit seeks to be the hub of the Chicago neighborhood theater scene, where audiences enjoy a smorgasbord of excellent productions in three, 99-seat spaces, see a parade of talented artists and mingle with audiences from all over Chicago. 

Theater Wit brings together Chicago's best storefront companies, including 2016-17 resident companies About Face and Shattered Globe. 

For more information, visit or all the Theater Wit box office, 773.975.8150.

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