Saturday, May 27, 2017

OPENING: World Premiere of Nautilina Via Agency Theater Collective at The Den Theatre

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar

The AGENCY THEATER COLLECTIVE of chicago Announces cast and creatives for the 
written by brian Foster 
sommer austin and Anna Lucero, 
june 16 – july 16 At the den THEATRE

The Agency Theater Collective is pleased to announce the cast and creatives for its summer production – the world premiere of Nautilina, written by Brian Foster and co-directed by Sommer Austin and Anna Lucero, June 16 – July 16, at the Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. 

Previews are Saturday, June 10, and Sunday, June 11. Opening night is Friday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m. The performance schedule is Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Ticket prices for previews are $15 and for the regular run $22.  For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit or call 773.680.4596. 

Nautilina is series of small scenes and monologues which lock into each other like puzzle pieces and create a larger narrative. Nautilina is an examination of what makes people tick, what makes them behave the way they do.

The cast and creatives for Nautilina includes: 
Sommer Austin*, co-director; Anna Lucero, co-director; Niki Dreistadt, asst. director and sound designer; Michael Saarela, asst. director; Kat McNall; production stage manager; Shannon Lauzier, asst. stage manager; Margret Baughman, assistant stage Manager; Hope Rehak, dramaturg; Kate Jacobsen*, costume designer; Ellie Humphrys, lighting designer; Alec Long, scenic designer, Manny Ortiz, technical director; Taylor Tolleson, properties designer.  Andrew Gallant, artistic director of The Agency; Sommer Austin, managing director of the Agency and Tim Touhy, company manager of The Agency. 

The acting ensemble includes: Matthew Collins, (The Couple/Rod); Meg Elliott (Ray); Zach Hebert (Owen); Logan Hulick (Eric); Alex Kliner (Piano Player/Walter); DeChantel Kosmatka (Cassandra); Manuela Rentea (Gerald); Bob Norman (Simon/John); Manny Ortiz (Bar Patron/Robert); Armando Reyes (Bartender/Paul/SSG Cooper); Sara Faye Richmond* (The Couple/Thomas); Kate Gilbert (Understudy); Kate Jacobsen* (Understudy); Carter Petray (Understudy); and David Trudeau (Understudy). 

*indicates The Agency Theatre Collective Company member

Founded in 2010, The Agency Theater Collective creates relevant, authentic work with a focus on new or rarely produced plays. Past productions include Paul Pasulka’s Skin for Skin, Mia McCullough’s Chagrin Falls, Copi’s Four Twins, Clifford Odets’ Paradise Lost, Out of Tune Confessional, I Wish to Apologize to the People of Illinois, At the Center, Truth in Context (Non-Equity Jeff Award nominee for Best New Work in 2015/2016), and The Spirit of ’76. The Agency also hosts “No Shame Theatre,” a weekly theatrical open mic, every Saturday night at The Lincoln Loft. The Agency Theater Collective hold these principles sacred: revelation, paradox, humor, mischief and collaboration. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

OPENING: The Night Season at Strawdog Theatre Through 6/24

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


**Note: Adult themes and partial nudity. Recommended for 18+**

We're elated to see Strawdog Theatre presenting an acclaimed female playwright and female director for their closing production for this season which has explored the theme of Lives in Exile. In an era where the theatre industry is still male dominated in areas from scripts to stage, kudos to Strawdog for tipping the scales toward more inclusion and gender balance. We can't wait to catch this production.

THE NIGHT SEASON was made by women. This show was written by a woman, directed and assistant directed by women, features a women-driven storyline and stars some of our favorite women. Women designed the lights, props & costumes and coached the dialects. Women production managed and stage & assistant stage managed this show. And even more women and their allies onstage & behind-the-scenes made it all possible.

Strawdog Theatre Company is proud to announce the third and final production in its 2016 - 2017 season, 

Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s The Night Season, Now – June 24, 
directed by Elly Green, 
at The Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard. 

The performance schedule is Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.

All performances have ground level access and are wheelchair accessible, with a special Access Project performance Sunday, June 4 at 4 p.m. with a touch tour at 2:45 p.m.* An industry performance is on Monday, June 5 at 8 p.m for $18. Preview tickets are $15 with regular run tickets $30, they may be ordered online at or by calling OvationTix toll-free: 866-811-4111. Subscriptions, group, rush, senior and student discounts are also available.

When the tiny, seaside hometown of W.B. Yeats gets occupied by an English film crew making his biopic, the Kennedys figure giving lodging to the lead actor will put a few extra coins in their pockets. They do get plenty of change, and not just Euros, as the family’s three sisters and their delusional grandmother all decide it’s time to stop letting life pass them by. The mother who ran away, the father who can barely leave the house, a big pile of pent-up desire, it all gets confronted in this skewed romantic comedy helmed by the director of Sideshow Theatre’s No More Sad Things, Stage Left’s Rabbit and Strawdog’s Season 28 smash After Miss Julie.

Cast includes ensemble members Janice O’Neill, Michaela Petro, Michael Reyes, John Henry Roberts, Justine C. Turner, Jamie Vann and guest artist Stella Martin.

The Night Season production team also includes Strawdog Company Ensemble Members Brittany Dee Bodley, costume designer, Heath Hays, sound designer and Mike Mroch, set designer with guest artists Ben Chang, dramaturg; 

All productions in Strawdog’s 2016-2017 season are wheelchair and ADA compliant. In addition, Strawdog Theatre’s Access Project performance Sunday, June 4 at 4 p.m., includes open captioning, audio description and touch tour services. A touch tour begins at 2:30 p.m. on the day of the Access Project performance.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz is an acclaimed playwright whose work has been performed all over the world. She was the first living female playwright to have an original play - the celebrated Her Naked Skin, which explored the suffragette movement - performed on the National Theatre’s Olivier stage. Other plays include: Soho – A Tale Of Table Dancers, The Night Season, Shoreditch Madonna, The Painter, The Typist, The Invisible and Jane Wenham. Adaptations include An Enemy Of The People, Ghosts, The Soldier's Tale, The Turn Of The Screw, Miss Julie and The Tempest.

Lenkiewicz also writes for radio, film and television. She co-wrote the film Ida with director Pawel Pawlikowski which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2015, the BAFTA and the SPIRIT awards for the same category and the Best Film awards at both the London Film Festival and the Warsaw Film Festival in 2013.  She has recently written a screenplay for Kristin Scott Thomas to direct, The Sea Change, and collaborated on The Sweet Life with Russian director Alexander Zeldovich. She has co-written Disobedience with Sebastian Lelio, a feature for Film 4 to which Rachel Weisz is attached.  Currently, she is adapting a book for Scott Free/BBC TV for Kevin MacDonald. Lenkiewicz is presently working with Steve McQueen and Rainmark films on a seven-hour drama for the BBC and is writing a two-hour drama Mystery in White for Origin Pictures/ BBC.

Elly Green is a freelance director who previously worked with Strawdog on After Miss Julie by Patrick Marber. She also recently directed the US premiere of The Distance by Deborah Bruce for Haven Theatre and the co-world premiere of Hansol Jung’s No More Sad Things for Sideshow Theatre. Other credits include: The Woman Before (Trap Door), Rabbit (Stage Left – Jeff Nominated), Happy (Redtwist), Unwilling and Hostile Instruments (Theatre Seven) and The Tomkat Project (Playground Theatre & NY Fringe). Elly was assistant-director on Henry V (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre) and Proof (Court Theatre). She is an artistic associate with Sideshow Theatre and Stage Left Theatre. Elly originally trained in London on the MFA in Theatre Directing from Birkbeck College. Her UK directing credits include: Our Country’s Good, My Balloon Beats Your Astronaut, Beyond Therapy, About Tommy, Copenhagen, Skylight, The Beach, & The Zoo Story.

Since its founding in 1988, Strawdog Theatre Company has offered Chicagoland the premiere storefront theatre experience and garnered numerous Non-Equity Jeff Awards with its commitment to ensemble acting and an immersive design approach. The celebrated Company develops new work, re-imagines the classics, melds music with theatre, asks provocative questions and delivers their audience the unexpected.

Strawdog recently announced that it has taken residence at 1802 West Berenice in North Center. Its next season will take place here and is currently available for rental by other theatre companies.

Strawdog Theatre Company is proud to announce the third and final production in its 2016 - 2017 season, Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s The Night Season, May 12, 2017 – June 24, 2017, directed by Elly Green, performed at The Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard. The performance schedule is Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. All performances have ground level access and are wheelchair accessible, with a special Access Project performance Sunday, June 4 at 4 p.m.* Preview tickets are $15 with regular run tickets $30, they may be ordered online at or by calling OvationTix toll-free: 866-811-4111. Subscriptions, group, rush, senior and student discounts are also available.

Strawdog Theatre Company offers six tickets at a 50% discount one hour before every production. The rush ticket must be purchased in person, exclusively at the Strawdog Box Office. Limit of two tickets per person, not applicable with other discounts, offers or on previously purchased tickets, first come, first served. 

Season Theme: Lives in Exile
How much of who we are is where we are? For twenty five seasons, Strawdog had a home of our own. Now we move forward as an an itinerant company. We're looking our new reality straight in the eye, and taking on a season of beautiful plays all about losing one's place.

1 world premiere, 1 Chicago premiere, 1 bold new take on a classic. 0 shows you want to miss. 

Strawdog Theatre Company is supported in part by The Alphawood Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and through the generous contributions of businesses and individuals. 

Friday, May 19, 2017


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:



Kaye Winks has been a token black for as long as she can remember.

In her new one-woman show Token, Winks shares her hilarious and often cringe worthy adventures in being that lone black person in a world of white.

Through her colorful portrayals of family, friends, strangers and foes, Winks offers a comic and ironic look at what it's like to be the token black person.

But white people aren't her only target. Winks also casts a smart, funny and sometimes sobering lens on class clashes within the black community.

"Token is unapologetically un-PC, but it's fair in its political incorrectness because I pick on everyone equally," says Winks. "The show actually brings people together by 'telli ng it like it is.'"

Don't miss Winks' hilarious, 60-minute takedown of the race discussion through the voices and stories of 30 characters we've all met at some point in our lives.

Token, directed by Schoen Smith, will be presented Fridays May 19-June 9, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at Judy's Beat Lounge at the Second City Training Center, 230 W. North Avenue, 2nd Floor, Chicago. 

Credit: Joel Maisonet

Tickets are $13. For tickets and information, visit or call
(312) 337-3992.

Token information
Kaye Winks has been a token black since the day she was born in Naperville, Illinois to black Republicans. Today she is a stage and screen actress, writer, part-time funny person and full-time cat person. Winks trained at the Moscow Art Theater's Stanislavsky School in association with the American Repertory Theater and Harvard University. Her improv training was at the Second City Chicago. She also studied physical comedy and clown with world-renowned French master teacher, Philippe Gaulier. She has been featured in national commercial and print campaigns for Honda, Sony and Hot Pockets among others. She has recently returned to Chicago following a six-year stint in LA.

Schoen Smith (director) is an actress, writer, producer and director. In March, she directed a sold-out, one-night only performance of Token as part of Collaboraction Theatre Company's Gender Breakdown Lounge series. She also premiered her original spoken word piece Hands Up at Collaboraction's 2016 PEACEBOOK Festival. Before moving to Chicago, she was Producing Director for DOMA Theatre Company in Los Angeles, and also produced the hit play Elevator in the inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival. She is a co-producer on the award-winning documentary about homeless youth, American Street Kid, which won Best Social Impact Film at the Hollywood Film Festival and People's Choice Award and Power in Film Award at The Beloit International Film Festival this year. She is the Director of Development for Collaboraction and the VP of Development for Venture Hill Entertainment, LLC.

For more, visit or follow Winks on Twitter and Instagram: @kayewinks #tokenblack.

Celebrate Dizzy Gillespie Centennial One Night Only 5/20/17 With Chicago Jazz Orchestra

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


Dizzy Gillespie

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Jeff Lindberg, will celebrate the centennial of Dizzy Gillespie with Definitively Dizzy, a live concert celebrating one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time. 

Definitively Dizzy is a one-night-only event, Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the newly renovated Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave. on the first floor of Chicago's historic Fine Arts Building. Tickets are $35 and $45. For tickets and information, visit or call (312) 753-3210.

Internationally known guest artists include two-time Grammy winner Roy Hargrove, one of the most innovative trumpeters in the world and a frequent performer at Chicago's Jazz Showcase. 

Marquis Hill, a rising young jazz star and winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, is returning to his hometown, Chicago, to perform with the CJO in Definitively Dizzy. 

Also on the program is Walter White, a powerhouse player from Detroit.

Add the CJO Trumpet section - Danny Barber, Art Davis, Victor Garcia and Doug Scharf - for a Dizzy celebration that promises to be uniquely CJO, highlighted by universally loved Dizzy classics.

"The CJO will present an exciting and explosive celebration of Dizzy Gillespie's 100th year, focusing on his formidable big band repertoire. The performance will include such Gillespie classics as 'Salt Peanuts,' 'Manteca,' 'Groovin' High,' 'A Night In Tunisia,' 'Cool Breeze,' 'Things To Come,' 'Tour de Force,' ''Round Midnight' and many more. With soloists Roy Hargrove, Marquis Hill and Walter White, along with the regular CJO trumpet section, Definitively Dizzy promises to be one of Chicago's top jazz events of 2017."

"We're thrilled to be one of first music ensembles to perform in the Fine Art's Building's recently refurbished Studebaker Theater," added Travis Rosenthal, Executive Director, Chicago Jazz Orchestra. "The Studebaker is truly a hidden gem, and the ideal setting for a musical salute to one of the jazz greats of all time."

The newly renovated Studebaker Theater is on the first floor of 
Chicago's historic Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave.

Founded in 1978, the 17-piece Chicago Jazz Orchestra is Chicago's oldest professional jazz orchestra in continuous operation and one of the oldest jazz repertory orchestras in the country. As recently as 2015, Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune cited the CJO as "one of the best big bands in the country." 

For more information, visit

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra's concert Definitively Dizzy is supported by an NEA Art Works grant, and sponsored by Chicago Jazz Magazine, WDCB 90.9 FM, the Oppenheimer Family Foundation and Ray and Ann Rusnak.

About Dizzy Gillespie
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (1917-1993), along with Charlie Parker, ushered in the era of Be-Bop in the American jazz tradition. He left a legacy of goodwill and good humor that infused musicians and fans throughout the world with the genuine sense of jazz's ability to transcend national and ethnic boundaries. For this reason, Gillespie was and is an international treasure. 

Gillespie was born 100 years ago in Cheraw, South Carolina, the youngest of nine children. He began playing piano at age four and received a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina. Most noted for his trademark "swollen cheeks," Gillespie admitted to copying the style of trumpeter Roy Eldridge early in his career. 

Gillespie replaced Eldridge in the 'Teddy Hill' Band after Eldridge's departure. He eventually began experimenting and creating his own style which would eventually come to the attention of Mario Bauza, the Godfather of Afro-Cuban jazz who was then a member of the Cap Calloway Orchestra. Gillespie joined Calloway's band in 1939, but was famously fired after two years when he cut a portion of Calloway's backside with a knife after Calloway accused him of throwing spitballs. The two men later became lifelong friends and often retold this story with great relish.

Although noted for his on and off-stage clowning, Gillespie endured as one of the founding fathers of the Afro-Cuban and Latin Jazz tradition. Influenced by Bauza, he was able to fuse Afro-American jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms to form a burgeoning CuBop sound. Indeed, many Latin jazz classics such as "Manteca," "A Night in Tunisia" and "Guachi Guaro [Soul Sauce]" were composed by Gillespie and his musical collaborators. 

About Chicago Jazz Orchestra
The Chicago Jazz Orchestra ( strives to develop and promote an appreciation for and understanding of music for the American jazz orchestra as it was originally conceived, performed and recorded by jazz master composers and soloists. 

The CJO is Chicago's oldest professional jazz orchestra in continuous operation and one of the oldest jazz repertory orchestras in the country. When Jeff Lindberg and the late Steve Jensen first came up with their big band concept in 1978 (founded as the Jazz Members Big Band), they could not have predicted the remarkable metamorphosis that has turned a group of first-call musicians into what is now known as the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, a 17-piece premiere jazz ensemble that has garnered both national and international recognition.

Conductor and Artistic Director Jeff Lindberg is one of the foremost transcribers in jazz. As a result, the orchestra's repertoire draws upon his vast library, which includes the works of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Benny Carter, Oliver Nelson, Ray Charles and many others. Because the CJO has its own transcriptions of the original recordings, much of the music presented in its concerts cannot be heard anywhere else. The CJO also performs compositions and arrangements by members of the CJO, including Associate Artistic Director Charles Harrison.

The CJO has served as the resident orchestra for the Kennedy Center Honors Supper Dance for more than 25 years. In 2006, the Orchestra performed before a sold-out audience at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina. The CJO has toured Europe twice, including performances in Italy, Spain, Denmark and Sweden. The Orchestra has performed with such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, Louis Bellson, Herbie Hancock, Jon Faddis, Kurt Elling, Jack McDuff, Kenny Burrell, and many more.

The orchestra performs at a wide variety of top venues across the Chicago area, from City Winery to the Spertus Institute. Merit School of Music is the orchestra's educational partner, including day-long clinics that culminate with students performing alongside members of the CJO, master classes led by renowned guest artists and open rehearsals. The CJO also provides complimentary concert tickets to underserved public school students and their families.

The CJO's recordings include Clark Terry and Jeff Lindberg's Chicago Jazz Orchestra: George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (Americana Music, 2004), nominated "Jazz Album of The Year" by the Jazz Journalist's Association, and a rare "Five Star" rating by DownBeat magazine, which also named it one of the top recordings of the previous decade. It also made the annual "top CD's" lists of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jazz Times and Jazz Education Journal. 

To celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2013, the CJO released Burstin' Out with vocalist Cyrille Aimée performing classic and original jazz arrangements. 

The CJO's newest release is the 2017 compilation Live from Space, with live recordings from the summer of 2016.

The newly renovated Studebaker Theater is on the first floor of 
Chicago's historic Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

OPENING: Genesis Theatrical Productions' "The Radiant" at the Athenaeum Theatre, Studio One 5/18-6/11

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

"The Radiant" 
by Shirley Lauro
Directed by Kaitlin Taylor

A play about Marie Curie

Opens May 18 at 7:30pm at the Athenaeum Theatre, Studio One
2936 N. Southport, Chicago

Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm
Sunday at 3pm
Production runs until June 11
Tickets are $30 with discounts for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more
Limited number of discounted tickets available on Goldstar and Hot Tix

For tickets call 773-935-6875 or go to



For information on Genesis Theatrical Productions go to our web page at

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


May 6 – June 18, 2017

Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor continue the 2017 Season (The Dance Theater Season) with the world premiere musical Black Pearl: A Tribute to Josephine Baker, written and directed by Black Ensemble Theater Associate Director Daryl Brooks. Black Pearl: A Tribute to Josephine Baker will be performed at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago, May 6 – June 18, 2017. 

Black Ensemble travels across the ocean to Oui Paris to tell the story of the one of the most dynamic performers the world has ever seen.  Black Pearl: The Story of Josephine Baker will take audiences through the life of the first black international superstar, beginning with her meager beginnings to the star power of one of the most iconic figures that the world has ever seen.

The cast of Black Pearl: The Story of Josephine Baker features Joan Ruffin as Older Josephine, Aerial Williams as Younger Josephine, and Rhonda Preston as Mother.  

The ensemble also includes
Dennis Dent, Lemond Hayes, Kelly Maryanski, Linnea Norwood, Rhonda Preston, William Rowland, Henri Slater, Kyle Smith, Jake Stempel, and Vincent Jordan. Additional casting information will be announced at a later date.

Tickets are available at the Black Ensemble Box Office located at 4450 N. Clark St in Chicago, or online at, or by phone at (773) 769-4451. Tickets are $45 for previews (May 6, 7, 12 and 13, 2017); $55 (Thursdays and Saturday matinees) and $65 (Fridays, Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees).  There is a 10% discount for students, seniors and groups.

Dates: May 6 – June 18, 2017
Previews: May 6, 7, 12 and 13
Press Performance: Sunday, May 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Schedule: Thursday: 7:30 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 p.m.
Saturday: 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday: 3:00 p.m.

Location: Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street, Chicago
Valet parking is available.

Ticket prices: $45 Previews
$55 on Thursdays and Saturday matinees;
$65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees
A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups.
Box Office: Buy online at or call (773) 769-4451

The Black Ensemble Theater
Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.

On November 18, 2011, The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened and is able to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of educational programming. The new facility includes amenities such as a 299-seat main stage theater (double the capacity of the original venue); 14 offices, classroom space, rehearsal hall, dance studio, scene shop, costume shop, and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; rehearsal room for musicians; front lobby space with concession areas; and an indoor parking garage.  The completion of a 150-seat theater, which will serve as an experimental stage for the work of the Black Playwright Initiative (BPI), with construction by General Contractor Norcon Inc., is expected in 2017.

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts.  For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, please visit or call 773-769-4451.

Friday, May 12, 2017

NOW PLAYING: We're Gonna Die at Haven Theatre Through June 4th

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:



Tonight, ChiIL Live Shows will be ChiILin' in Chi, IL with Haven Theatre Company. We're dying to catch their latest show, We’re Gonne Die, the final production in their fourth season, written by Young Jean Lee and directed by Josh Sobel. They're back again at the company’s new home, The Janet Bookspan Theatre at the Den Theatre,,1335 Milwaukee Ave. Check back soon for our full review.

With Storytelling, Stand-Up and Live Music, this Chicago Premiere Shares Real Life Experiences and Unites the Audience with the Life-Affirming Fact That...

The regular performance schedule is Thursdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m through June 4. Previews are Pay-What-You-Can, and regular run tickets are $18. You may purchase tickets and get more information at 

A singer takes the stage, backed by her rock-band compatriots, to share Young Jean Lee’s life-affirming show about the one thing we all have in common: “we're gonna die.” Drawing from true stories of people's experiences with tragedy, despair and loneliness, this personal and rejuvenating play with live music reminds us that in our darkest, most isolated moments, we are not alone.

image by Joe Mazza at Brave Lux. Pictured from left to right back row; Jordan Harris, Elle Walker, Spencer Meeks; from Left to right front row; Sarah Giovannetti and Isa Arciniegas

Cast for We’re Gonna Die includes: Isa Arciniegas (singers), Sarah Giovannetti (band), Jordan Harris (band), Elle Walker (band), Spencer Meeks (band) and Kamille Dawkins (singer u/s). The production team for We’re Gonna Die includes: Josh Sobel (director), Abhi Shrestha (assistant director), Julie Leghorn (stage manager), Krista Mickelson (production manager), Spencer Meeks (music director), Claire Chrzan (light designer), Izumi Inaba (costume designer), Mike Mroch (scenic designer), and Jon Martinez (choreographer).


Young Jean Lee has been called “hands down, the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation” by The New York Times and “one of the best experimental playwrights in America” by Time Out New York. She has written and directed nine shows in New York with Young Jean Lee's Theater Company and toured her work to over thirty cities around the world. Her plays have been published by TCG (Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Other Plays, The Shipment and Lear) and by Samuel French (Three Plays by Young Jean Lee). She is currently under commission from Plan B/Paramount Pictures, Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is a member of New Dramatists and 13P, and has an MFA from Mac Wellman's playwriting program at Brooklyn College. She has received grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Creative Capital, NYFA, NEA, NYSCA, the Jerome Foundation, The Fox Samuels Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, and the Rockefeller MAP Foundation. She is also the recipient of two OBIE Awards, the Festival Prize of the Zürcher Theater Spektakel, a 2010 Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award.


Josh Sobel is artistic director of Haven Theatre Company, as well as a former ensemble member and literary manager with Strawdog Theatre Company. Recent directing credits include Bobbie Clearly at Steep Theatre, The Long Christmas Ride Home along with the world premieres of The Hunting of the Snark (also Chicago's "Night Out In The Parks" and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland), Best Beloved: The Just So Stories and The Pied Piper at Strawdog Theatre, and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. Additional credits include work at Chicago Dramatists, A Red Orchid Theatre, Victory Gardens, LiveWire, Collaboraction's Sketchbook, WildClaw, The Ruckus, Tympanic Theatre, Polarity Ensemble Theatre, The Fine Print Theatre Company, the side project, The Greenhouse Theater Center, Abbie-Fest and New Leaf Theatre. From 2010 - 2013 he served as associate director of the National Theater Institute summer "Theatermakers" program at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Sobel is the recipient of a Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) Observership on Hamlet at Writers' Theatre and is an associate member of SDC.


Haven Theatre Company is one of Chicago's fastest rising companies. In 2015, Haven's sold-out run of Arlene Hutton's Last Train to Nibroc received a coveted four-star review from Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune, who proclaimed the production "deserves to be the sleeper hit of the summer." Nibroc also received three Joseph Jefferson Award nominations (the company’s first Jeff-eligible production) and received the prize for Best Principal Actress in a Play. Also in 2015, Haven launched “The Director's Haven,” a unique initiative built to better support the career development and community visibility of directors at the very earliest stages of their professional journeys. Additionally, Haven has produced highly lauded productions of Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On, Deborah Bruce's The Distance (U.S. Premiere), Theresa Rebeck's Seminar (Chicago Premiere), Catherine Treischmann's Hot Georgia Sunday (Chicago Premiere), Stephen Belber's Don't Go Gentle (Chicago Premiere) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. 

More information at 

OPENING: Relativity at Northlight 5/11-6/18

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

The National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of
By Mark St. Germain
Directed by Artistic Director BJ Jones
May 11 - June 18, 2017

The cast is Mike Nussbaum, Katherine Keberlein and Ann Whitney.

The creative team includes Jack Magaw (Set Design), Rachel Laritz (Costume Design), JR Lederle (Lighting Design), and Andrew Hansen (Sound Design). Rita Vreeland is the stage manager.

We'll be out on the 19th for the press opening. Check back soon for our full review.

In 1902 Albert and Mileva Einstein had a baby daughter. After 1904 she was never seen or spoken of again. Forty years later, a reporter interviews Einstein about this mysterious piece of his past, revealing shocking secrets about his family and his personal life. While the reporter questions Einstein on his theory of relativity and his decisions, she also poses a query of her own: to be a great man, does one first need to be a good man?

The author of Freud’s Last Session and Becoming Dr. Ruth showcases his signature blend of insight, intellect, humor and heart in this fictional account of a legendary figure.

The Box Office is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, in Skokie.  Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm, and Saturdays 12:00pm-5:00pm. On performance days, the box office hours are extended through showtime. The Box Office is closed on Sundays, except on performance days when it is open two hours prior to showtime.

Tickets for previews are $30-$57.  The regular run is $30-$81.  Student tickets to any performance (subject to availability) are $15.

Curtain times are: Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.

Now in its 42nd season, the organization has mounted over 200 productions, including more than 40 world premieres. Northlight has earned 198 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 34 Awards.  As one of the area’s premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality.

Northlight is supported in part by generous contributions from Allstate Insurance; the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; Robert & Isabelle Bass Foundation; BMO Harris Bank; Henrietta Lange Burk Fund; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; The Chicago Community Trust; ComEd, An Exelon Company; The Davee Foundation; Edgerton Foundation for New American Plays Award; Evanston Community Foundation; Full Circle Foundation; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Kirkland & Ellis Foundation; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Melvoin Award for Playwriting; Modestus Bauer Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; NorthShore University HealthSystem; The Offield Family Foundation; The Pauls Foundation; Room & Board; Sanborn Family Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; The Sullivan Family Foundation; Tom Stringer Design Partners; Turner Construction; and the Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Top Weekend Picks: Gene Siskel Film Center's Benefit May 13 With Jeremy Piven and Kevin Spacey


“Kevin Spacey: Renaissance Man,” Features In-Depth Conversation with Golden Globe and
Emmy Award-Winner Piven and Spacey at The Four Seasons Chicago

Chicago’s own Jeremy Piven will lead an in-depth discussion with Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award recipient evin Spacey at this year’s annual benefit “Kevin Spacey: Renaissance Man,” Saturday, May 13 at The Four Seasons Chicago (120 E. Delaware). This special evening begins with a cocktail reception followed by the featured discussion between Spacey and Piven paying tribute to the actor’s accomplishments on the screen while providing insights into his creative process and influences, favorite roles, upcoming projects and more. A retrospective of film clips from some of his most memorable performances will accompany the conversation highlighting his illustrious career. 

“It will be a rare treat to have Chicago native Jeremy Piven on stage with one of the most versatile actors of our time in what is sure to be a dynamic conversation between two gifted artists,” said GSFC Executive Director Jean de St. Aubin. “Both Piven and Spacey bring a unique charisma to each role they embody and I am sure that guests will be treated to that same charisma in addition to an evening filled with laughter, behind-the-scenes insight and possibly a few surprises throughout the night!” 
Each year, the GSFC celebrates the art of film by honoring a filmmaker who advances the art of cinema. Past Renaissance Award honorees have included some of the most respected actors and directors working in the film industry today, such as William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, Michael Mann, Nicole Kidman, George Lucas, Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson.

The benefit is co-chaired by longstanding GSFC supporters and Advisory Board members Eda Davidman and Melissa Sage Fadim. The chair of the GSFC Advisory Board is Ellen Sandor. All proceeds support the Gene Siskel Film Center’s curated film programming as well as lecture series and discussions with visiting scholars and filmmakers. This programming provides the opportunity for students and the Chicago community to experience the best in film presentation. The annual fundraiser is the primary event that ensures that the GSFC can continue to present the highest quality films and film-related events in Chicago.

To date, benefit sponsors include The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Foundation, Sage Foundation, MacLean-Fogg, Marlene Iglitzen and Gene Siskel Charitable Foundation, Nordstrom, CME Group, Ariel Investments, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, Sheridan Road Charitable Foundation, Joe and JaCee Trpik, Averill and Bernard Leviton, Jamie and Margo Koval and Southwest Airlines.

The Renaissance Award was designed specifically for the Gene Siskel Film Center by R.S. Owens & Company, creator of the Oscar® statuette.

About Jeremy Piven
Chicago native Jeremy Piven stars in the upcoming film “All-Star Weekend,” Jamie Foxx’s scripting and directing film debut, alongside Foxx and Eva Longoria. He was most recently seen as fellow Chicagoan Harry Gordon Selfridge in the fourth season of the popular MASTERPIECE/PBS series, “Mr. Selfridge.” Among his many notable roles, Piven is best known as movie agent Ari Gold in the hit HBO series “Entourage,” which aired for eight seasons and won Piven three Emmy® Awards and a Golden Globe®. In 2015, Piven reprised the fan-favorite role in the “Entourage” feature film released by Warner Bros. He was also seen in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” from directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, as well as opposite Tom Cruise in the Doug Liman film “Edge of Tomorrow.” Piven’s extensive career in television also includes the satirical “Larry Sanders Show.” In film, he starred in Mark Pellington’s drama “I Melt with You,” Gaby Dellal’s heart wrenching “Angels Crest,” Gary Fleder’s “Runaway Jury,” Todd Phillips’ hit comedy “Old School,” Ridley Scott’s “Black Hawk Down,” Peter Chelsom’s “Serendipity,” Brett Ratner’s “The Family Man,” Peter Berg’s “Very Bad Things” and “The Kingdom,” Cameron Crowe’s “Singles,” Joe Carnahan’s “Smokin’ Aces,” Guy Ritchie’s “RocknRolla” and “The Player” for director Robert Altman.

In 2005, Piven returned to his theater roots starring in the Off-Broadway hit “Fat Pig” by Neil LaBute, for which he received a Distinguished Performance Honor from the Drama League. He also appeared as Bobby Gould on Broadway in “Speed-the-Plow.” As a child growing up in Chicago, the eight-year-old Piven climbed on stage at the Piven Theatre Workshop, founded by his father, Byrne, and mother, Joyce Piven. He is still very active with this workshop and returns to Chicago frequently to help keep his parents’ dream alive.

About Kevin Spacey
Award-winning producer and actor Kevin Spacey currently serves as executive producer and stars as Francis Underwood in the Netflix original series "House of Cards.” Spacey has won Academy Awards® for his performances in “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty." He was most recently seen opposite Michael Shannon in "Elvis & Nixon,” and will next be seen in "Billionaire Boys Club,” Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver" and "Rebel In The Rye.” Through his former production company Trigger Street, he produced "Captain Phillips” starring Tom Hanks, “The Social Network” and "21.” For television, he produced “Recount” and “Bernard & Doris” for HBO, both of which garnered double-digit Emmy Award® nominations. For more than a decade, Spacey served as the Artistic Director of The Old Vic Theatre Company in London where he also appeared on stage in productions of “National Anthems,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Speed the Plow,” “Inherit the Wind,” “A Moon for the Misbegotten” and the acclaimed production of the one-man show, "Darrow." He won the Evening Standard and Olivier Awards for Best Actor for his role in “The Iceman Cometh,” as well as a Tony Award® for Best Supporting Actor in Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers.” Spacey has also starred in the Broadway and West End productions of “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” opposite his mentor Jack Lemmon; as well as the title role in the Sam Mendes production of “Richard III,” touring to 12 cities around the world as part of the three-year Old Vic/BAM/Bridge Project. Spacey has often launched initiatives to help young people get their start in the competitive worlds of film and theatre, including: The Kevin Spacey Foundation, which offers support to young actors, writers, directors and producers; and the short film competition "Jameson First Shot,” awarded writer/directors from South Africa, Russia and the US, Canada and other countries with the opportunity to direct a short film starring a major actor. Most recently Spacey was awarded an Honorary Knighthood and was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen for his work at the Old Vic, and in education and philanthropy. 

Tickets and More Information
The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago proudly presents the Renaissance Award Gala in honor of Kevin Spacey Saturday, May 13 at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, 120 E. Delaware Pl. Single tickets range in price from $500 to $1,000 (VIP). Table sponsorships range in price from $10,000 to $50,000. Call (312) 846-2072 for tickets, tables or more information.

About the Gene Siskel Film Center
Since 1972, the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has presented cutting edge cinema to an annual audience of 80,000. The Film Center’s programming includes annual film festivals that celebrate diverse voices and international cultures, premieres of trailblazing work by today’s independent filmmakers, restorations and revivals of essential films from cinema history, and insightful provocative discussions with filmmakers and media artists. Altogether, the Film Center hosts over 1,600 screenings and 200 filmmaker appearances every year. The Film Center was renamed the Gene Siskel Film Center in 2000 after the late, nationally celebrated film critic, Gene Siskel. Visit to learn more and find out what’s playing today.

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons and LeRoy Neiman.

The Gene Siskel Film Center and SAIC are part of The Art Institute of Chicago. For more information about the Art Institute please visit

REVIEW: The? Unicorn? Hour? at The Neofuturarium Through May 20th

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar

EXTENDED & HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Caught The? Unicorn? Hour? [Extended!] yet?! Come to the joy womb, a blanket fort for adults to reconnect with their anger issues in the swear square, release their inner child for a play day, and satiate their wanderlust. This show is part group therapy, letting go of personal fears and embracing what makes you happy, and contains surprisingly multilayered depth in the guise of playful silliness. (I was particularly transported back to childhood days since they miraculously found both a clone of my 70's bedroom daisy lamp fixture for the set & a fair replica of the fanlight globes that replaced it!) The Neo-Futurists The? Unicorn? Hour?-The Neofuturists At the Neofuturarium

Take a sanity break from the endless fake news and political madness of 2017 and follow these hooded mystics who morph into mythical unicorns, on a journey of self discovery. 

Anthony channels a bearded Bacchus or gracious Greenman, while his real life wife, Leah is all guts and girl power, with the unicorn equivalent of a mohawk, and a pinch of PeeWee Herman just for grins. 

I'm still laughing inside about their tea party, where she manspreads like the worst el offenders, while he sits primly. Hilarious. There's some truly great physical comedy and partner acro here, along with a nonverbal challenge to try something that scares you, get out of your comfort zone, and GO already. Explore, expand, embrace adventure!

Come along on this epic journey while you still can. Extended through May 20th. Recommended for teens+ to adults of all ages. Highly recommended. I took both of my teens who enjoyed the show immensely. My 14 year old daughter, Sage's recap sums it all up succinctly: "It was weird... but weird good." Don't miss this! 

APRIL 6 – MAY 20th (extended)

Adrian Danzig Directs this new Adventure in Discovering and Growing Joy

The Neo-Futurists are proud to present a world premiere created and performed by Leah Urzendowski* and Anthony Courser The? Unicorn? Hour?, directed by Adrian Danzig, April 6  - May 20th, at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. Previews are Thursday, April 6 - Saturday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. with opening night Monday, April 10 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.

The? Unicorn? Hour? invites the audience to discover and grow in an atmosphere where joy can float freely. Inspired by childhood favorites like “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” and “Peewee’s Playhouse,” this show claims joy as the core fantastical world of adventure within us.  Joy is an active choice, requiring a shift of perception of the world around you.   

“We became really obsessed and excited with the politics of joy; joy being an activism; that feeling joy, being joy, creating joy is a way to fight against the world and your oppressor.  Joy is a part of the resistance,” said Leah Urzendowski. “The? Unicorn? Hour? refers to the unicorn that lives within all of us - the mythical magical organ in your soul that can be tapped into at any moment you choose. You can “unicorn” at anytime! Seeking joy is refusing woe and accepting the beauty of an unbridled lifting of the spirit.”

“We want to give people the gift of saying yes and delighting in absurd choices; help people tap back into a time before the word ‘no’ was forced on them. We want to be a looking glass of what a world could look like when we choose to eliminate self-doubt and say yes to a sincere playfulness,” added Anthony Courser.   

ABOUT LEAH URZENDOWSKI* creator/performer

Leah Urzendowski* is a founding member of The Ruffians, and an ensemble member with The Neo-Futurists since 2011. Some of Urzendowski’s Chicago credits include Jeff recommended Mr. Burns (Theatre Wit); Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, Miss Neo Pageant, (both with The Neo- Futurists); Burning Bluebeard (The Ruffians); 500 Clown Trapped, 500 Clown Frankenstein, 500 Clown Macbeth (all with 500 Clown); Moby Dick, Dustbowl Gothic ( both with The Building Stage) and Hunchback (Redmoon). Choreography and movement direction credits include The Magic Play (Goodman), Lord of The Flies (Steppenwolf), Ivywild (Hypocrites), Miss Neo Pageant (The Neo-Futurists) and Burning Bluebeard (The Ruffians, The Neo-Futurists).  TV and film credits include “Chicago PD,” “Chicago Fire,” “ER” and “Operator.” Urzendowski is a teaching artist with The Ruffians, The Neo-Futurists and Team Awesome, specializing in physical theatre, ensemble and partnership building, clown, movement and movement consulting. She received her BFA from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and is represented by Stewart Talent.

ABOUT ANTHONY COURSER, creator/performer

Anthony Courser is a founding member of the Ruffians (2013), an artistic associate with The Neo-Futurists (2012) and a teaching artist with Barrel of Monkeys (2001).  Some of Courser’s favorite Chicago credits include Burning Bluebeard (The Ruffians, The Neo-Futurists); Jeff Recommended Ivywild (The Hypocrites); Daredevils Hamlet, Picked Up, The Fool Returns to His Chair, Daredevils (The Neo-Futurists), That’s Weird, Grandma (Barrel of Monkeys); set designer for Analog (The Neo-Futurists).  He was in the performance ensemble of New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat and the Le Tigre Tent. He is a graduate of Dell Arte International School For Physical Theatre and a student of Panchinko Clowning with Sue Morrison at the Canadian Clown Institute.  Courser is a teacher of clown, Physical Theatre, and Ensemble and Partner Building.  He is also a carpenter, but he doesn’t have time to build you a table.


Adrian Danzig was an early Neo-Futurist (1990) and a founding member of Redmoon Theater, Hubinspoke Theater and is the founding producing artistic director of 500 Clown. His direction/creation credits include Circle of Madness, Action, Not Dead Yet, 500 Clown Get Happy and the earliest versions of 500 Clown Macbeth. Danzig graduated from New York City’s High School of Performing Arts, received his BA from Oberlin College in Government and his MFA from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago in Performance. He has studied clown with Ctibor Turba, Philippe Gaulier, Ronlin Foreman, Dominique Jando, Els Comediants, David Shiner, Avner the Eccentric and was a clown with Big Apple Circus Clown Care for seven years. 
* denotes an active member of The Neo-Futurist Ensemble

**denotes a Neo-Futurist Alum


The Neo-Futurists are a collective of wildly productive writer-director-performers that create theater that is fusion of sport, poetry and living-newspaper. Having created more than 9,775 plays within 28 years of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind and over 65 original, full-length productions within their immediate, non-illusory aesthetic. The Neo-Futurists have grown to become one of the most highly regarded experimental theater companies in the United States. From humble beginnings as the first late-night theater production in Chicago, they launched what became Chicago’s longest running show and today sustain multifaceted programs such as Neo-Access, The Kitchen (a micro-festival on art and performance), Prime Time, Neo-Lab and their ongoing late night show 50 weekends every year. For more information visit 

The Neo-Futurists are proud to present a world premiere created and performed by Leah Urzendowski* and Anthony Courser The? Unicorn? Hour?, directed by Adrian Danzig, April 6 - May 13, at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. Previews are Thursday, April 6 - Saturday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. with opening night Monday, April 10 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.

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.

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