Friday, January 27, 2017

LAST CALL: Chicago Puppet Fest End This Weekend

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


The second Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival closes this weekend, Sunday, January 29. 

Contemporary puppets acts and artists from around the world, the U.S. and Chicago have been playing to sold out houses and critical acclaim since January 19, and tickets are going fact to this weekend's final events at Chicago-area venues large and small. 

Click here to watch the 1 min 25 sec video trailer

for the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival

I caught this excellent rendition of the tale made popular by Fantasia and Mickey Mouse's magic mop fiasco. This is a dark, edgier version that's not babyish at all, and appeals to older kids and adults. There's nothing objectionable for young children either. The story is primarily enacted with marionettes, with some shadow puppetry, chalk transitions, and a large mask and hands wearable "puppet". Recommended.
Adventure Stage Chicago and Blair Thomas & Co. present Open Eye Figure Theatre of Minneapolis performing  The Sorcerer's Apprentice
at Adventure Stage Chicago, 1012 N. Noble St., Chicago
Friday, January 27 at 7 pm., Saturday, January 28 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Tickets: $17; $12 ages 14 and under 
Run time: 60 minutes
Family friendly
Open Eye Figure Theatre's adaptation of The Sorcerer's Apprentice for the marionette stage is a look at youth, aging and the allure of power. Creator Michael Sommers uses Goethe's 1797 poem "Der Zauberlehrling" as inspiration, expanding on the young apprentice's mishaps and mistakes in this original work with a unique Open Eye approach. With its highly designed production, original score and masterful puppetry, this show appeals to both adults and children.

This Sunday I'll be out to check out one of the hottest tickets, Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic, with five shows Thursday through Sunday in the newly renovated Studebaker Theatre in Chicago's historic Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Avenue. 

Feathers of Fire is a visually breathtaking cinematic shadow play for all ages. The play unfolds on a cinema-sized screen as an action-packed magical tale of star-crossed lovers from the 10th-century Persian epic "Shahnameh" ("The Book of Kings.") Inspired by Iranian visual traditions, creator Iranian-American filmmaker and graphic artist Hamid Rahmanian uses puppets, costumes, masks, scenography and digital animation to bring the story to life. 

Show times are Thursday and Friday, January 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 28 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, January 29 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $40; $30 student/senior. Run time is 70 minutes. 

Tickets to Feathers of Fire and all remaining festival events are now on sale at or by calling 312.977.9483.

Following are listings for the remaining acts and artists performing citywide now through Sunday, January 29, the final day of the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival: 


The free Festival Neighborhood Festival Tour presenting three puppet artists - Detroit's Interstate Arts' PLAY with your food, Montreal's Magali Chouinard in The White Woman, and Baltimore's Schroeder Cherry in Underground Railroad, Not A Subway -  at a different Chicago Park District venue today through Saturday. 

Garfield Park Conservatory, Jensen Room, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago
Wednesday, January 25 at 4:30 p.m. (Schroeder Cherry), 5:30 p.m. (Interstate Arts) and 6:30 p.m. (Magali Chouinard)

Calumet Park, 9801 S. Ave. G, Chicago
Thursday, January 26 at 11:30 a.m. (Magali Chouinard), 12:30 p.m. (Interstate Arts) and 1:30 p.m. (Schroeder Cherry)

Marquette Park, 6700 S. Kedzie Ave., Chicago
Friday, January 27 at 5 p.m. (Schroeder Cherry), 6 p.m. (Magali Chouinard) and 
7 p.m. (Interstate Arts)

Hamilton Park, 513 W. 72nd St., Chicago
Saturday, January 28 at 1 p.m. (Magali Chouinard), 2 p.m. (Interstate Arts) and
3 p.m. (Schroeder Cherry)    

Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago presents Great Small Works performing Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls
at the Dance Center at Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Thursday through Saturday, January 26 - 28 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $20; $10 student
Run time: 75 minutes
Family friendly

In a bilingual Yiddish-English play,  Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls meditates on power dynamics by revisiting the performances of radical 20th-century puppeteers Zuni Maud and Yosi Cutler. Using original graphics and satirical scripts, Great Small Works combines new puppets and projections with original graphics and satirical scripts, introducing some Mae West and The Dybbuk along the way.
The Neo-Futurists present Vincent de Rooij and The Neo-Futurist Ensemble in 
Future Crash: a collision of short work by Vincent de Rooij and The Neo-Futurists 
at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, January 26-28 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25; $10 student/senior with ID
Run time: 70 minutes
Ages 14 and up

Future Crash collides Vincent de Rooij, puppeteer of site-specific performances and magician of the inanimate object, with The Neo-Futurists, purveyors of the first-person play and destroyers of the fourth wall. Traveling from the Netherlands, de Rooij will lead an ensemble in interdisciplinary collaboration, guiding the audience through a solar system of short work hidden throughout the Neo-Futurarium. 

Chicago Children's Theatre presents Manual Cinema's world premiere Magic City
at the new Chicago Children's Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago
Friday, January 27 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.; Saturday, January 28 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday, January 29 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Tickets: $25
Run time: 60 minutes
Family friendly

With their newest work, the inaugural production in Chicago Children's Theatre's new West Loop home, The Station, Manual Cinema transforms Edith Nesbit's novel The Magic City into a live, cinematic shadow puppet experience. When a young girl moves into a new home, she entertains herself by building a city using household objects. Through some magic, she finds herself inside the city, surrounded by life. Using overhead projectors, paper shadow puppets, live actors in silhouette, miniature toy theater and a live music ensemble, Manual Cinema's Magic City modernizes the novel, building and illuminating a miniature city onstage that the audience explores themselves after every performance.

Links Hall and Rough House present Nasty, Brutish & Short: A Puppet Cabaret
at Links Hall, Studio B, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago
Friday and Saturday, January 27 and 28 at 11 p.m.
Run time: 1hour 20 minutes
Tickets: $10; $8 student/senior
Family friendly? No

Hit Links Hall for late night cabarets featuring short works by international festival artists, regional puppeteers and local talent. End your evening with a tasty selection of the raucous, raunchy, dark, sassy, sad and hilarious! 

The program provides a late-night hang out spot for the whole festival, an opportunity for out-of-town talent to bring shorter works, and a space for local artists. Each show features at least two mainstage festival artists bringing secondary short works, and at least two Nasty, Brutish & Short contributors.

Theater and Performance Studies and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts present Puppet Quartet: UChicago Performance Lab residencies with Liz Joyce, Jesse Mooney-Bullock, Molly Ross and Michael Summers
at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., Chicago
Saturday, January 28, 4 p.m.
Tickets: Free to the public, no reservations required

An immersive afternoon of four works in development, in various sites of performance within the Logan Center for the Arts. Audiences will move from space to space to experience the four works by noted puppet artists Liz Joyce, Jesse Mooney-Bullock, Molly Ross and Micheal Sommers. 

Lookingglass Theatre Company presents Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth
at the Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
January 25-29: Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.;
Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $35
Run time: 90 minutes
Family friendly - Recommended for ages 8+

Traveling storytellers Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth captivate audiences with spellbinding tales. But one day, The Big Bad Wolf mysteriously dies before his story is complete. As fairytales disappear from their pages, Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth must journey through the stories to restore order before they are lost forever. Written and directed by Doug Hara, with puppets by Blair Thomas.

The House Theatre of Chicago presents Diamond Dogs
at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago
January 26-29: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$30
Run time: 2 hours

Diamond Dogs is a classic deadly-maze story set in Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space Universe. Follow a future team of humans and transhumans as they investigate a mysterious alien tower, bent on brutally punishing all intruders. Body modification is the norm in the 26th century, and award-winning puppet designer Mary Robinette Kowal articulates and re-shapes actors' human forms into powerful mechanized players battling for their lives. Blood will spill.

About The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival

Intent on establishing Chicago as a center for the advancement of the art of puppetry, the 11-day, city-wide Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival showcases an entertaining and eclectic array of puppet styles from around the world. Marionettes, shadow puppets, Bunraku puppets, tiny toy puppets, and distinctive, innovative styles of contemporary puppetry are just a few. 

The festival was founded by Chicago puppeteer Blair Thomas to celebrate and cultivate the city's reputation as a leader in the art of contemporary puppetry, and because there was no major international festival of its kind offered in any U.S. city. 

In sum, the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival boasts 24 presenting partners, 22 venues, more than 25 artists from seven countries presenting 20 different shows and more than 90 total performances. 

The festival website, is your online gateway to learn about, and with its new, shared online box office, purchase your tickets to this world pageant of top puppet artists and shows. 

Sign up via the website to receive important festival updates. Track the festival hashtag, #ChiPuppetFest, like the festival on Facebook, or follow the festival on Twitter at @ChiPuppetFest or on Instagram

For information (only) during the festival, call the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival box office, (312) 554-9800.

For more information, visit

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