Thursday, June 22, 2017


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

JULY 3 – 22, 2018

Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce WAITRESS will play the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph) for a limited three-week engagement July 3 – 22, 2018. 

WAITRESS will join the line-up of performances at the annual Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert, sponsored by ABC 7 Chicago and hosted by Janet Davies, ABC 7 Chicago’s entertainment reporter and host of the entertainment and lifestyle program 190 NORTH on ABC 7. The Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert will take place on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 6:15 p.m. at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park (201 E Randolph St).

Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles ("Brave," "Love Song"), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland).

Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna - a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

"It's an empowering musical of the highest order!" raves the Chicago Tribune.  "WAITRESS is a little slice of heaven!" says Entertainment Weekly and "a monumental contribution to Broadway!" according to Marie Claire.  Don't miss this uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

Ticket Information
WAITRESS will be part of the next Broadway In Chicago season, on sale this fall.  Group tickets for 10 or more for WAITRESS are available now by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Individual tickets for will go on sale at a later date.  For more information, visit

Broadway In Chicago was created in July 2000 and over the past 17 years has grown to be one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country.  A Nederlander Presentation, Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining well up to 1.7 million people annually in five theatres.  Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop including The PrivateBank Theatre, the Oriental Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University and just off the Magnificent Mile, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.  For more information, visit

Facebook @BroadwayInChicago ● Twitter @broadwaychicago ● Instagram @broadwayinchicago ● #broadwayinchicago

OPENING: World Premiere of Fight City Via The Factory Theater 7/14-8/26

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

The Factory’s Latest Production, 
Written by Scott OKen and Directed by Jill Oliver

The Factory Theater presents its latest production, the world premiere of Fight City. Written by Factory Theater’s Artistic Director Scott OKen and directed by Jill Oliver, Fight City runs July 14 – August 26 at The Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St. Previews are Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 16 at 3 p.m. Opening night is Friday, July 21 at 8 p.m. The regular run’s, July 21 – August 26, performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for preview performances and $25 for regular run. Tickets may be purchased through Box Office by calling 866.811.4111 or by visiting

In the dystopian future of 2077, gender roles are reversed, guns and knives are all but eliminated, yet crime is still on the rise. The Central City Police Department has the most elite fighters in the region and they keep the peace by doling out hard-nosed justice. Officer Barb Davies (Jennifer Betancourt) is the most skilled fighter of them all, yet she has the most level head. Can she make sense of this new world or are we doomed to repeat the endless cycle of violence?

The cast for Fight City includes: Jennifer Betancourt (Barb Davies), Almanya Narula (Avory), Mandy Walsh (Margaret), Jen Bosworth (Quaife, Noone), Ashley Yates (Argent), Meredith Rae Lyons (White), Grace Odumosu (Richards), Linsey Falls (Terry), Josh Zagoren (Relf), Eric Frederickson (Verne/Steele), Jae K. Renfrow (Leo), Kim Boler (Erica), Susan Wingerter (Valentine), Megan Schemmel (Price, Thug), Brittany Ellis (Chandler, Thug) and Harrison Weger (Weatherfoot). Understudies are Colin Milroy, Josh Greiveldinger, Cory Griffith, Kim Fukawa, Elizabeth MacDougald, Josephine Longo, Dan Krall, Carla McDowell, and Sara Robinson.

The production team for Fight City includes: Jill Oliver (director), Scott OKen (playwright), Phil Claudnic (stage manager), Jermaine Thomas (assistant stage manager), Kevin Alves (assistant director), Manny Tamayo (production manager), Greg Caldwell (assistant production manager), Sarah Lewis (set designer), Carla Hamilton (costume designer), Emma Deane (lighting designer) Ben Zeman (sound designer), Holly McCauley (props designer), C.W. Van Baale (master electrician) Maureen Yasko (fight/violence designer) Chris Smith (fight/violence director) and Jason Moody (graphics designer).

About Scott OKen, playwright

Scott OKen has been the artistic director for the Factory Theater since 2007, and a member since 1996. This is his 10th play being produced by the Company. Previous written works include Toast of the Town, GI's in Europe and Easy Six (all co-written with Ernie Deak) and Namosaur!, Mop Top Festival and Top Shelf... He has also directed Factory shows, Siskel and Ebert Save Chicago, White Trash Wedding and a Funeral (2012 run) and most recently, Dating and Dragons. OKen has also appeared on stage in many Factory Theater productions over the years, and is thankful every day for this Company and the ensemble within.

 About Jill Oliver, director

Jill Oliver has been an Ensemble Member with the Factory Theater since 2011. She's pretty jacked to be directing her first full-length production for Factory after having directed the short 30 Days Down the Rabbit Hole for Abbie Hoffman Festival. Oliver normally wears the actor hat and has worked with other companies such as Artistic Home, A Red Orchid Theatre, Irish Theatre of Chicago, LiveWire Theatre, Wayward Productions and Shattered Globe. She is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent. Oliver will also make her playwright debut with Lametown and the Adventures of Spirit Force Five at Factory next summer. 

About The Factory Theater

For almost 25 years, The Factory has created its shows from scratch, doing exactly the kind of theater they wanted to do. From writing workshops to the closing night bash, Factory shows are a unique experience that fits its exacting standards: original, bold, and full-tilt. Its shameless ensemble are ambassadors of a good time, making certain that Chicago remains heartily entertained.

The Factory Theater presents its latest production, the world premiere of Fight City. Written by Factory Theater’s Artistic Director Scott OKen and directed by Jill Oliver, Fight City runs July 14 – August 26 at The Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St. Previews are Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 16 at 3 p.m. Opening night is Friday, July 21 at 8 p.m. The regular run’s, July 21 – August 26, performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for preview performances and $25 for regular run. Tickets may be purchased through Box Office by calling 866.811.4111 or by visiting

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

REVIEW: Cor Theatre's Stellar Late Company Explores Suicide Fallout at Pride Arts Center

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Ghosts loom large in Late Company, at what might be one of the awkwardest, angriest dinner parties ever on stage. A year after his suicide, this dead 16 year old is larger than life in his absence, from the all consuming grief enveloping his parents, who are haunted by a mysterious thumping upstairs, to a bully's nightmares, and his parents' chagrin.

**Late Company is for mature audiences.**   

Photo credits: Matthew Gregory Hollis

Yesterday, my 14 year old daughter and I stood in the grocery checkout line where headlines blared "Woman goes on trial for allegedly urging boyfriend to kill himself". The current trial involves a then 17 year old girl who is being tried for involuntary manslaughter now, 3 years after her boyfriend killed himself. There is no precedent for rulings on encouraging suicide.

I asked my daughter if the girl deserved jail time. This prompted a lively discussion where she argued that bullying and joking around are incredibly common in high school and if everyone who said something stupid and insensitive to someone was arrested, our jails would be overflowing with non violent teens. And who's to say the kid wouldn't have killed himself anyway. She pointed out the vast numbers of bullied kids who don't kill themselves and the kids who aren't bullied who do. As a mother of two high schoolers, I wholeheartedly disagreed. I was ready to throw the book at any kid evil or insensitive enough to influence a peer to kill himself, so people would think twice before being so cruel and pushing an already troubled kid over the edge. 

That night I saw Cor Theatre's Late Company and began to realize the complexity of the issues and all the intertwined lives surrounding each childhood suicide death, especially Late Company's show with the added LGBTQ element. Similar issues were at the forefront. How much culpability do bullies have after a suicide? Can grief be shared? Can blame? Can forgiveness? In Late Company, a suicidal gay boy, grappling with his sexuality, closeted to his parents, being treated for depression, kills himself after being harassed at school. Late Company also features a surprisingly sympathetic bully and his defensive parents as media victims. Cor Theatre does a stellar job of broaching this topic with energy and empathy. We recommend Late Company. It's a tough but timely topic and a great springboard for discussion. 

We also love the communal art project in the lobby that will be raffled off. The audience is invited to add a simple brush stroke to a blank canvas as a pledge of support for the LGBTQ Community.

As Late Company opens, the table is set for an elegant dinner party. Enter, two devastated, grieving parents. Enter belatedly, a teen wracked with guilt and vilified by the media for his potential contribution to his classmate's demise, and his loving parents who are late because they were fighting over whether the dinner is a good idea. 

Everything's on the table, quite literally, in this thought provoking and too timely production. Both families' parenting styles are up for critique, mental health, grieving styles, the blame game, LGBTQ coming of age, and more. What starts as an effort to bring closure to a tragedy ends in vicious verbal attacks, raw emotion, and pain. Yet, through it all the audience has a stellar chance to leave with more empathy for the all too frequently lethal struggles of LGBTQ teens, the devastated parents who have lost children to suicide, and the stunned classmates whose hazing was meant to be funny not fatal. 

Ultimately there are some tender moments of healing and glimmers of future forgiveness down the road.

Cor Theater's Chicago debut of Late Company runs through July 16, 2017 at the Pride Arts Center, in the Buena Theatre, 4147 N. Broadway St. in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. Tickets, $18-$30, are on sale now at, or by calling (866) 811-4111.

Performances continue through July 16: Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at  3 p.m. Exceptions: No Wednesday shows June 21 or July 5. The performance on Thursday, June 22 is sold out. No shows Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25 due to Pride Weekend. 

About Late Company

Get set for a scorching start to Chicago's summer theater season when  Cor Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of Late Company, a shockingly funny, scathingly painful family drama set on Chicago's North Shore about LGBTQ youth and the scourge of teen suicide. Acclaimed director Jessica Fisch stages the first Chicago production of this vitally important new work by Canadian gay playwright, director and filmmaker Jordan Tannahill, called the future of Canadian theatre (NOW Magazine) and the hottest name in Canadian theatre (Montreal Gazette). 

The raves continued for recent European premiere of Late Company at London's Finborough Theatre. Time Out London called Late Company a powerful new drama about the devastating aftershocks of cyber bullying. Superb. The Times hailed this dinner party from hell serves up the full gamut of emotions. A terrific play. Go! This one deserves a West End transfer. Like the controversial Netflix hit series 13 Reasons Why, Late Company takes no prisoners with its vivid portrayal of the aftershocks of teen suicide, but more from the parents' point of view. 

One year after a gay teen's suicide, two North Shore families sit down to dinner. Pleasant mealtime chatter quickly turns into fierce interrogation as each person at the table confesses their real or imagined part in the tragedy. As blame shifts, layers of parental, sexual, and political hypocrisy are revealed. Scathingly funny and heartbreakingly real, award winning Jordan Tannahill's Late Company asks, How well can a parent ever really know their child? 

According to Cor Artistic Director and cast member Tosha Fowler, Late Company is about wrestling with forgiveness. Two sets of parents are fighting desperately for closure from a suicide brought on by missed opportunities and misunderstandings on both sides. Nobody in the room is blameless –everyone is sparring like hell to find peace within themselves and each other. Jordan's writing is funny and searing. It has the kind of visceral energy that makes live theater unique, said director Jessica Fisch, adding, In light of our current political climate, a play about people coming to the table to talk over their grievances feels both novel and inspirational. I want to believe it's possible for people with drastically different points of view to find common ground and healing. Late Company challenges that belief and offers hope that it is possible.

Cor's Chicago debut of Late Company features Tony Bozzuto (so memorable in Cor's Skin Tight and Christina, The Girl King), Matthew Elam (a Chicago newcomer and third year acting major at DePaul), Paul Fagen (recently seen in About Face's The Tempermentals) and Tosha Fowler (co-founder and artistic director of Cor, credits include What of The Night? and Love and Human Remains). New to the cast is Asia Jackson, most recently seen in Among All of This You Stand Like A Fine Brownstone at ETA Creative Arts Theatre.The production team is Cole von Glahn (assistant director), Adam Gutkin (set and props), Alarie Hammock (costumes), Jeffrey Levin (sound), Eric Vigo (lights), Topher Kielbasa (dramaturg), Stefin Steberl (production manager) and Michael Starcher (stage manager). 

Jordan Tannahill is a playwright, director, filmmaker and a leading figure in Canada's gay arts community. The TorontoGlobe and Mail recently hailed him as ...the poster child of a new generation of (theatre? film? dance?) artists for whom interdisciplinary is not a buzzword, but a way of life. His plays have been presented across Canada, his films have been widely exhibited at venues such as the  Toronto International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the British Film Institute, and he received the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama for his book Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays. In collaboration with William Ellis, Tannahill runs the alternative art-space Videofag in Toronto. Currently he is partnering with the National Theatre of London and the National Film Board Canada to create Draw Me Close, an immersive technology memoir in which audiences experience a live, illustrated world as five-year-old Jordan during his mother's battle with cancer. The first chapter premiered April 21-29, 2017 at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Jessica Fisch is a Chicago-based freelance director and professor. Chicago projects this season include directing the world premiere of Firebirds Take the Field for Rivendell Theatre Ensemble and associate directing Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee at Steppenwolf. Other credits include Trudy, Carolyn, Martha and Regina Travel to Outer Space (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival), Fefu and Her  Friends (Goodman Theatre/Rivendell Latina/o Celebration), Opulent Complex and That Thing That Time (Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Tens), Far Away (SITE Festival, Northwestern), 42 Stories (Raven Theatre, [Working Title] series) and Machinal and Spike Heels (Northwestern University).

Selected New York credits are The Realm (The Wild Project), strive/seek/find (Abingdon Theatre), the 2009 PlaywrightsHorizons Stories on 5 Stories Benefit, Personal History (Ensemble Studio Theatre), The Redheaded Man (Barrow Street Theatre/Down Payment Productions/FringeNYC/ FringeEncores), and Dressed In Your Dreams (Public Theater/Emerging Writers Group), an adaptation of the cult 1960ૻs gothic vampire soap opera Dark Shadows (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Prior to moving to Chicago, Fisch lived in New York City where she was the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Down Payment Productions (DPP). She was also a resident director at Ensemble Studio Theater, the 2008-2009 Playwrights Horizons Directing Resident and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. She earned her MFA at Northwestern University. 

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. Today, Cor is one of Chicago's youngest and most ambitious professional theater companies with a growing board and strong experience behind it.  Cor's inaugural production, Skin Tight by Gary Henderson, was met with enthusiastic audiences, critical acclaim and made just enough money to establish a not-for-profit corporation. 

The company named itself Cor Theatre, deriving its name from the Latin root of courage – meaning heart. Cor returned in 2015 with Erin Courtney's A Map of Virtue, named a top show to see in the Chicago Tribune and Most Promising Debut by Time Out Chicago. Cor triumphed again in 2015 with the first Chicago staging in 20 years of Brad Frasier's Love and Human Remains, which played to numerous sold-out houses and was named one of the top plays to see by Windy City Times and New City. In March 2016, Cor presented the U.S. premiere of Christina, The Girl King by Michel Marc Bouchard, translated by Linda Gaboriau, telling the true story of the enigmatic, gender bending 17th century Queen of Sweden. Cor concluded its 2016 season in October with an epic production of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, translated by Tony Kushner, directed by ensemble member Ernie Nolan. 

Most recently, in January 2017, Cor gobsmacked Chicago audiences and critics alike with Carlos Murillo's daring staging of What of the Night? by María Irene Fornés.  Current Cor 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 and Eric Vigo. 

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Steppenwolf Theatre's Pass Over Reviews Fracas

A storm broke out in Chicago last week, when several theatre critics reviewed Steppenwolf Theatre's latest show, Pass Over, in a way many deemed racist and/or insensitive.

One of Chicago's most prominent critics was eviscerated for her words, amid a huge outcry that she be denied press tickets to productions citywide for her opinions, and that the Sun Times send another reviewer. Another critic chose to lead with a hot button word in her review of the same production that triggered general outrage and heated calls for her to never review again, causing her to forgo writing theatre reviews for the foreseeable future.

Then the vitriol spread from directed barbs to slams agains ALL critics and a rant that nobody would miss us if we were all abducted by aliens and we're not worth the rope to hang us, in a verbal attack nasty enough that Facebook removed it. 

Chicago's theatre community, from artistic directors, actors, and theatres to critics, is still engaged in a heated debate over where to draw the line on policing review content versus free speech. It's a potential game changer. I don't think anyone condones hate speech, whether racially motivated or directed at critics, but who makes that judgement call and censors potential hot button phrases? It's an incredibly complicated and nuanced issue, especially with the rise of on line reviewers who don't have editors and a parent publication to police their content before publication. Reviews by their very nature are opinion pieces, and one person's opinion that content is innocuous or has artistic merit may be considered racist or hate speech by others.

Production photo from Pass Over at Steppenwolf

"We denounce the viewpoints expressed in some of these reviews as they fail to acknowledge the very systemic racism that 'Pass Over' addresses directly. Particularly egregious are the comments from Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss, whose critical contribution has, once again, revealed a deep-seated bigotry and a painful lack of understanding of this country’s historic racism. Her contribution is actively working against the kind of theater we are striving to be," Steppenwolf artistic director Anna D. Shapiro and executive director David Schmitz said in a statement e-mailed to the Tribune.

My fear is that this backlash may cause theaters to shy away from producing controversial plays and/or make critics balk at reviewing or promoting them for fear of swift and vicious retributions for their opinions. 

I've been reviewing plays for 7 years now and it's tougher than people think. There truly is power in the written word. Productions have folded right after the press opening due to bad reviews. Critics can make or break actors' careers. Critical writing goes beyond breaking out adjectives and trying not to give too many spoilers. We're tasked with truthfully conveying not only a production's merit, but all it's deeper levels of meaning, and doing justice to the storytelling and the presentation and execution. Yes, I 100% agree there's no excuse for outright prejudice and racism, but critics shouldn't write fluff and fear for our livelihood if the choice of a word or turn of phrase is misunderstood. I know both Hedy and Katy professionally and neither seems to be a bigot or a racist in real life, despite their inevitable bias of white privilege. Their jobs are to cover diverse productions by people of every race, religion and color and they try to do it with wit and wisdom, and as fallible human beings, sometimes they fall short.

Hedy has had a lifelong career as a critic and has written many brilliant reviews over decades in the industry. She has insight that comes with age and experience and that's valuable. That said, we all can learn and grow. We all need to give serious thought to what it means for the future of theatre and critical reviews if critics are bullied into silence or fired for expressing any viewpoints other than a narrow one that offends no one.   

In Chicago, there are hundreds of productions running and people read reviews to narrow down an overwhelming sea of choices, to make an informed decision on what they'd like to see. Critics keep theater seats filled, in a world of other entertainment choices, and help keep the medium alive. I've also heard from many over the years that they turn to reviews after the fact, to understand what they've seen and see what they've missed. Critics are not one unified voice, and often disagree wildly on productions' merit and even meaning, and our readers are even more diverse and varied. This is generally an asset, not a liability. I've told my kids that the greatest gift is not teaching people what to think, but how to think. That's key here. See the show. Formulate your own opinions. Discuss civilly. Listen to others. Repeat.

Nobody can entirely escape their own backgrounds and leanings in an opinion piece, and the audience brings their own backgrounds and biases into a show, too. We have every right to expect respect and civility in reviews, but we can't expect consensus on interpretations, and throwing Hedy and Katy under the bus for perceived racism doesn't foster healthy debate and discussion, it quashes it with an iron boot.

Theatre can be pure magic, evoke emotions, change minds, and foster understanding. As Dr. Who says, "We're all stories in the end." and the alchemy of theatre is intoxicating. It's a dynamic, living art form where the audience energy mixes with and changes what happens on stage, and people leave transformed. 

Many came to Katy and Hedy's defense, and tried to rationally deescalate the situation, as there's no call for violence, bullying and intimidation. Words are powerful things, but not a capital offense!

Katy did all the right things, removing the "N" word immediately and issuing an apology on social media as soon as she realized she'd crossed the line and pissed off a lot of people. She also issued a written apology on her site and wrote a letter of contrition on her blog as well. They're the very things mature adults do, and what I've been teaching my teens since they were toddlers. Everyone screws up at some point. Everyone hurts someone else sooner or later, by accident or on purpose. Not if, WHEN this happens, don't deny it or make excuses. Even if you had no clue your words or actions would be hurtful or misunderstood, apologize. The feelings of others are legitimate and if they're hurt you need to learn from the situation. Then you try to fix it

Yes, many were truly and legitimately offended, though that was never Katy's intention. And those feeling are absolutely valid. Nevertheless, some went above and beyond, attacking, bullying and silencing her. Ultimately, in the aftermath, she chose to stop reviewing theatre for at least a few months, if not forever. Many may see this as a victory, but I know Katy, and the loss of her talented voice and insight would be a tragedy. 

There's a fine line between free speech and hate speech, but writing needs to be taken in context. Katy learned the hard lesson that the WHO matters. Black rappers can say the N word with impunity. White theatre critics can't. Still, what those she offended need to understand is the WHY matters too. She was not using the word as a weapon of hate, but as a tool to evoke change and promote greater racial understanding, by advocating for people to come experience a challenging and intense piece of theatre. Critics can't write truthfully and fully if one misunderstood word or phrase can bring down public wrath on line and end their careers.

We live in tough times, where the internet has simultaneously given us more connection and greater isolation. Our police do seem to be murdering black men with impunity and our president is eroding human rights at an alarming pace. More diverse voices have a platform than ever before, and yet it's easier than ever to get lost in the lies, miss the nuances of meaning, and spew threats and bile with the ease of anonymity. We need our stories, a myriad of different voices, and our words now, more than ever. We need to listen to each other and learn. We need to be patient with each other and work through the misunderstandings, miscommunications and mistakes instead of responding with knee jerk indignation and outrage. 

I'm not defending Katy or Hedy's word choices, but I am defending the idea that it's a vicious overreaction to go after ideas you disagree with with petitions to bar someone from doing their job or threats of violence. Writers need to be free to convey the essence of a production, make people think, and not fear for their safety or their careers with every keystroke. Reviews are not meant to please everyone and artists, writers, activists, musicians and other creatives have true power to spark change. Women on line are often silenced these days with call to fire, or worst case scenario, ugly threats of rape and murder, and that needs to change. We need to have each other's backs and shine a light on this situation, whether it's happening to writers, activists, scientists or school kids. Sure, people also have the right to express their outrage at an injustice, but trolls incite just to get a rise out of people, and sometimes anger turns to violent actions and reactions. When someone is bullied or censored into stopping writing or speaking out, we all lose. 

We have all been given a chance to grow through this situation, and where we all take it from here matters. We are not a fascist regime where writers are put to death or exiled for writing something controversial. This situation sparked a spirited debate between me and my husband over breakfast in a diner, that caught the interest of the couple in the booth behind us and they joined in! It ranged over the crucial ideas of racism, free speech, race inequity and violence, internet threats, voice, bias, and beyond. Sometimes writing theatre reviews can feel like shouting into the void. Yet, sometimes, reviews start a chain reaction of discussions, birth ideas, firm resolves, educate and enlighten. Words matter. Debates with strangers over breakfast matter. Discussions, discourse, and really hearing each other matters. And writers who spark that matter too.

Yesterday, a week after the snafu, Katy left a letter of contrition on her site that moved me to tears. I'll close with her wise words. 

A letter of contrition…

It’s been 6 days since my horrible mistake regarding the use of an offensive word in a theatre review. If you aren’t aware of my blunder, this letter isn’t for you.  If you know exactly what I’m talking about, please take a moment to read this.
I’ve spent a lot of time in contemplation of my error. As a writer, I know the power of words. And the wrong one at the wrong time is bad enough. My mistake wasn’t timing, it was utilization. The word I used wasn’t and is not mine to use. My intent was a poetic illustration of the play’s rhythm but it was perceived as a savage attack on a group of people. Instead of connecting people to a powerful play, it fueled rage brought on by my ignorance and drew attention to the power of a word that has a long history of hate and division. And I found myself, for the first time in my life, seen as a perpetrator of hate. 
A lot of you don’t know me but that is not who I am. I’m a person who champions marginalized populations, advocates for people who can’t find their voice and believes being kind is THE most important contribution an individual can make in life. 
I ask you to forgive me for my short-sighted understanding of the damage I could do with one word. I’m not asking for you to forgive and forget. I know I won’t forget. The response to my review will change me and challenge me to work to be a better person. 
I have decided to take a break from theatre reviewing…at least for the summer. I would never want a theatre company to feel ashamed or embarrassed to invite or un-invite me to a show or have an actor feel that could not perform because I was attending. My intent, as a reviewer, has always been, and always will be, to promote theatre and all the talent in the Chicago theatre community. If I don’t return as a reviewer, I’ll find other ways to support theatre. 
During this summer, I will be having conversations with others about this issue and others. I invite anyone to have coffee or a drink with me this summer to talk more. I believe real change comes from individuals coming together and talking. If you are interested in helping me bridge divides and build understanding, please, contact me at      

Monday, June 19, 2017

Calling All Parrotheads: Tickets On Sale Tomorrow 6/20 For ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE



Broadway In Chicago and the producers of ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE are thrilled to announce tickets will go on sale to the public tomorrow, June 20, 2017 at 10AM CT.  ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE, the new musical featuring the songs of iconic singer-songwriter-author Jimmy Buffett, will play Broadway In Chicago’s Oriental Theatre for a limited three-week engagement November 9 through December 2, 2017.

Escape to Margaritaville is the musical comedy getaway featuring both original songs and the most-loved Jimmy Buffett classics, including “Come Monday,” “Volcano,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and many more. With a book by Emmy® Award winner Greg Garcia (“My Name Is Earl,” “Raising Hope”) and Emmy® Award nominee Mike O’Malley (“Survivor’s Remorse,” “Shameless”), this rousing and refreshing new production is choreographed by Tony Award® nominee Kelly Devine (Come From Away, Rock of Ages) and directed by 2017 Tony Award® winner and La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley (Come From Away, Memphis).

Imagine a place where the sun is hot, the water’s warm and the drinks are as cold as they are plentiful. Welcome to Margaritaville, the island paradise where city folk get away from it all, and the locals get into the kind of trouble you can almost always sweet talk your way out of. Take a break from your troubles, make some new friends at the bar and kick back to the soothing sounds of the kettledrum. It doesn’t get much better than this.

The creative team includes Scenic Designer Walt Spangler, Tony Award®-winning Costume Designer Paul Tazewell, two-time Tony Award®-winning Lighting Designer Howell Binkley, two-time Tony Award®-winning Sound Designer Brian Ronan, Tony Award® nominee Christopher Jahnke as Music Supervisor, and 101 Productions, Ltd. as General Management.

As previously announced, ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE is currently having its World Premiere steps from the ocean at the Tony Award®-winning La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California, having extended twice with performances now through July 9, 2017. Following La Jolla, ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE will premiere in New Orleans, making its way to Houston before arriving to Chicago and then sailing down Broadway to 46th Street at the Marquis Theatre.

ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE began previews on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre (210 West 46th Street) on Friday, February 16, 2018, with the official Broadway Opening Night set for Thursday, March 15, 2018.

ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE travel packages are available via the show's official travel provider, The Travel Team, at For more information, please visit
Facebook: @BuffettMusical
Twitter: @BuffettMusical
Instagram: @BuffettMusical

Individual tickets for ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE will go on sale to the general public on June 20, 2017 at 10AM CST.  A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances. Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.  Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at  For more information,

Broadway In Chicago was created in July 2000 and over the past 17 years has grown to be one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country.  A Nederlander Presentation, Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining well up to 1.7 million people annually in five theatres. Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop including The PrivateBank Theatre, Oriental Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, and just off the Magnificent Mile, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place and presenting Broadway shows at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.

For more information, visit

Facebook @BroadwayInChicago ● Twitter @broadwaychicago ● Instagram @broadwayinchicago ● #broadwayinchicago


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

“Exquisite! A joyous celebration of storytelling.”
The New York Times
“One of the greatest revivals ever!”
New York Magazine

Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce that direct from Broadway, THE COLOR PURPLE, the Tony Award-winning revival of the truly remarkable musical adapted from Alice Walker’s best-selling novel and directed by Tony winner John Doyle (Sweeney Todd and The Color Purple), will play Broadway In Chicago’s Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph) for a limited two-week engagement next summer July 17 – 29, 2018.

THE COLOR PURPLE will join the line-up of performances at the annual Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert, sponsored by ABC 7 Chicago and hosted by Janet Davies, ABC 7 Chicago’s entertainment reporter and host of the entertainment and lifestyle program 190 NORTH on ABC 7. The Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert will take place on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 6:15 p.m. at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park (201 E Randolph St).

This revival of THE COLOR PURPLE won two Tony Awards in 2016, including Best Revival of a Musical and two Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Revival of a Musical. THE COLOR PURPLE revival also won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. 

Hailed as “a direct hit to the heart” (The Hollywood Reporter), this joyous American classic conquered Broadway in an all-new "ravishingly reconceived production that is a glory to behold” (The New York Times) directed by Tony winner John Doyle.  With a soul-raising Grammy®-winning score of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues, THE COLOR PURPLE gives an exhilarating new spirit to this Pulitzer Prize-winning story.

Don’t miss this stunning re-imagining of an epic story about a young woman’s journey to love and triumph in the American South. The musical sensation that New York Magazine calls “one of the greatest revivals ever.” Experience the exhilarating power of this Tony-winning triumph!

Based upon Alice Walker’s acclaimed novel of the same name, THE COLOR PURPLE is the epic tale of 40-years in the life of a family in rural Georgia. At its center is fourteen-year-old Celie. When Celie is forced by her abusive father to marry a cruel farmer, called “Mister,” she is separated from all that she loves. Ultimately, Celie conquers the odds to find her voice and her strength, coming into her own. THE COLOR PURPLE celebrates the healing power of love and the importance of a zest for life.

For more information, please visit

Ticket Information
THE COLOR PURPLE will be part of the next Broadway In Chicago season, on sale this fall.  Group tickets for 10 or more for THE COLOR PURPLE are available now by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Individual tickets for will go on sale at a later date.  For more information, visit

Broadway In Chicago was created in July 2000 and over the past 17 years has grown to be one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country.  A Nederlander Presentation, Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining well up to 1.7 million people annually in five theatres.  Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop including The PrivateBank Theatre, the Oriental Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University and just off the Magnificent Mile, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.  

For more information, visit

Facebook @BroadwayInChicago ● Twitter @broadwaychicago ● Instagram @broadwayinchicago ● #broadwayinchicago

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


Created and Performed by Jessica Sherr, the 5-Star Reviewed Show Portraying Legend Davis at the 1939 Academy Awards Has Delighted Audiences All Across the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom

Photos that feature Jessica Sherr as Bette Davis courtesy of Jessica Sherr

This Thursday, we'll be ChiILin' in Chi, IL at the opening night of Jessica Sherr's one-woman show, Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies, at The Athenaeum Theatre. We're looking forward to catching this acclaimed personification of a still beloved Hollywood icon. Check back soon for our full review.

Jessica Sherr is proud to announce the limited Chicago engagement of her smash hit one-woman show Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies, June 15 – July 2, at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Created and performed by Sherr, the 5-star reviewed show has performed in Edinburgh, Scotland, had a run at The St. James London, a sold-out off-Broadway run at 59E59 Theaters and toured performing arts centers throughout the United States. Opening night is Thursday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m. Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $24 - $34 and available at For more information on the production go to

It’s the 1939 Academy Awards and the Los Angeles Times have leaked the winners early:  Bette Davis will lose to Vivien Leigh. With newspaper in hand, Davis decides to leave the awards ceremony early. Once at home, Davis, disillusioned and frustrated; now grapples with memories of past lovers, confidants and mentors. She experiences what happens when someone who always wins…loses.  Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies offers audiences a rare insight into the mind of one of Hollywood’s greatest stars.  With humor and unabashed frankness Sherr journeys into Bette Davis’ battle to win freedom from the grip and control of the Hollywood studio moguls, studio executives, and her mother Ruthie in a “dynamic performance” that is “mesmerizing to watch” (Edinburgh Guide) and “worthy of an Oscar” (Mumble Theater). “The magnificently witty” (The List) and “tour de force” (Quotidian Times) performer and creator Sherr introduces audiences to a previously unseen side of Hollywood’s Bette Davis: one that is vulnerable, insecure and imprisoned by ambition.

In addition to Sherr, the company includes Isabelle Color, costume design and Robert Perillo, voice and diction.

ABOUT JESSICA SHERR, Creator and Performer
Sherr grew up in El Cajon, California and has long been called a creative.  At age 3, she found herself tap dancing to “Frosty the Snowman” and by age 5 she was choreographing dance pieces to Mickey Mouse’s “Splash Dance.” Sherr’s theatre credits include Almost, Maine and As Bees in Honey Drown and The Great Gatsby at Hudson Theatre Ensemble and The Blue Room directed by Carl Ford. Her film and television credits include Columbia Pictures’ Annie starring Jamie Foxx, HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, Netflix’s Team Toon as Miss Faltine, and Rock Dove (Winner at Flagstaff and Washington Gorge Film Festivals.) Her short film Great Expectations won Best Short Comedy at The Brightside Film Festival and is nominated for Best Ensemble Cast at "Hang Onto Your Shorts" film festival in Asbury Park. She holds a BA in English and Dramatic Arts.  

Saturday, June 10, 2017

FEST ALERT: 9th Annual Wicker Park Green Music Fest 6/10 & 11

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

THIS WEEKEND, JUNE 10 & 11, 2017

Dozens of eco-friendly vendors include Beat Kitchen, Smoke Daddy, Greenheart Shop, Rebuilding Exchange and Chicago Bicycle Ambassadors

Craft beer from presenting sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Company

JD McPherson, Lucero and July Talk headline weekend music stages

This weekend ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows will be ChiILin' at the ninth annual Green Music Fest. Besides great tunes, this eco-friendly fest cuts the clutter with a reusable stainless-steel cup for a $10 donation. They also feature an adopt-a-tree program and ladybug release among other family friendly green activities. The fest is easy to access from the blue line "L" and features plenty of bike parking. Check it out!

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce and Subterranean are thrilled to announce the final lineup of vendors and sponsors for Chicago’s award-winning Green Music Fest. Vendors include local restaurants Beat Kitchen and Smoke Daddy in addition to eco-friendly retailers such as Greenheart Shop and Green Diaper Babies. Previously announced headliners for Chicago’s award-winning Green Music Fest are R&B rocker JD McPherson, alt-country rock group Lucero and Canadian alternative rock band July Talk.

Green Music Fest takes place June 10 and 11, 2017, from 12-10 p.m. daily in the heart of Wicker Park on Damen Ave. between Schiller St. and North Ave. A $10 donation at admission awards attendees the “Refill Don’t Landfill” reusable stainless-steel cup to enjoy at the festival. Attendees are encouraged to arrive on foot or bicycle to minimize their environmental impact. For more information and programming updates, visit

Now in its ninth consecutive year, Green Music Fest embraces environmentally-conscious and green technologies like its pedal-powered stage, where attendees pedal stationary bicycles to power amps, guitars, spotlights and more. Bright Beat returns to lead the festival’s eco education and sustainability programming. Bartlett Tree Experts will present a live release of 100,000 ladybugs into the local ecosphere, and again sponsor the festival’s adopt-a-tree program for attendees.

In addition to live music stages and a variety of Lagunitas brews, Green Music Fest showcases innovative green vendors and products, along with the return of Pet Fest & Kids Fest areas where kids with and without paws can enjoy demonstrations, crafts, games and more. This year’s vendors include: 360 Active Recovery, Alive Rescue and Redstone Meadery, Anokhi Green, Artenimai, Atomic Ion Bands, Awareness Coalition, Baizaar, Bart's Bees, Beat Kitchen, Bodhi Tree Mehndi, Canine Crews, Carhartt, Cevapcici, Chicago 350, Chicago Bicycle Ambassadors, Chicago Public Library, Chicatolia, Christi Ahee Ceramics, ChiroOne, Dark Matter Coffee, Doggy Style, Drawn With Fire, Earth Creations, Factory Farming, Firecakes Donuts, Galaxy Pink LLC, Getaround, Green Diaper Babies, Greenheart Shop, Integrative Pet Care/Premier Veterinary Group, Jamie Handbags, Joanna G Jewelry, Kevita, Liberation Press, Lincoln Apparel, Lymelite Studio, Maria's Sweaters, Mediterranean Express, Mistura Timepieces, Neglected Renderings, North & Hudson, OurMusicMyBody, Physician's Immediate Care, Powers Handcrafted Jewelry, Rebuilding Exchange, Rip It Energy (Nation Beverage Corp), Smile For Humanity, Smoke Daddy, SolidVirtuality LLC, Sorry, Steaz, Tom's Shoes, TW Wholesale, Zero Motorcycles of Countryside.

2017 sponsors include: 360 Active Recovery, Absolut Vodka, Alive Rescue, Altos Tequila, Backpack Wine, Carhartt, ChiroOne, GetAround, Green Sheep, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Kevita, Launitas Brewing Company, RedStone Meade, RipIt Energy Drink, Staez Iced Tea, Tom’s Shoes. Organizations supporting with in-kind sponsorships include: Bartlett Tree Experts, Chainlinks, Dark Matter Coffee, WXRT.

About the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce
The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce serves as a cornerstone of the Wicker Park and Bucktown commercial districts, advancing the financial goals of neighborhood businesses through the creation of a dynamic economic climate, increasing the neighborhood's visibility and viability, and encouraging profitable relationships within the community. The Chamber administers the Wicker Park Bucktown Special Service Area (SSA) #33, guided by a Commission of SSA stakeholders who serve on active committees. For more information, please visit

About Subterranean
The iconic Wicker Park live music venue, Subterranean, brings the very best of local and national talent. Focusing on the direct message of serving up a diverse catalogue of genres, this three-story venue has aided the masses from Chicago to the surrounding areas in the very same location throughout two decades. Subterranean has been curating festivals, bringing the music to the streets of Wicker Park, for over a decade. For more information and an events calendar visit

About Bright Beat
Bright Beat is a project management and sustainability consultancy that provides leadership in the development and management of environmental and social sustainability programs. From assessment and strategy to implementation and promotion, Bright Beat partners (and the planet) reap the benefits of improved efficiency and conservation, while educating and engaging the public. Since 2010, Bright Beat programs have led to the donation, repurposing, recycling and composting of over 1,500 tons of material that would’ve otherwise been destined for the landfill. Since 2012, Bright Beat has spearheaded Green Music Fest’s sustainability programming. Learn more at

Friday, June 9, 2017

OPENING: Native Gardens at Victory Gardens 6/2-7/2

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Victory Gardens Theater presents the Chicago Premiere of
Native Gardens
By Karen Zacarías
Directed by Marti Lyons

June 2 – July 2, 2017

June is gardening season here in Chicago and this weekend we're off to enjoy gardens within gardens. Tonight, we'll be ChiILin' at Chi, IL's renowned Victory Gardens Theater, for opening night of the Chicago Premiere of Native Gardens. They've had staying power for an impressive 42 seasons and are an invaluable part of the community. We're especially fond of their post-show conversations after every performance. These talk backs led by members from the Victory Gardens community are a great chance for questions and thought provoking dialogues. We can't wait to check out Native Gardens. 

Native Gardens runs June 2 – July 2, 2017 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N Lincoln Avenue and closes Victory Gardens Theater's 42nd season. Native Gardens is written by Karen Zacarías and directed by Marti Lyons.

Pablo, a high-powered lawyer, and his pregnant wife Tania, a doctoral candidate, think they have hit the jackpot with their new home. It seems to have everything they dreamed of: a nice neighborhood, plenty of bedrooms for their growing family, outdoor space, and friendly neighbors. When Pablo and Tania decide to upgrade the eyesore chain link fence in their backyard, neighbors Virginia and Frank couldn’t be happier. Happy until they think their new neighbors are taking more than they deserve. A disagreement over a property line quickly spirals into a war of taste, class, and entitlement in Native Gardens, a hilarious new comedy by Karen Zacarías and directed by Marti Lyons.

The cast of Native Gardens includes Patrick Clear (Frank Butley), Paloma Nozicka (Tania Del Valle), Gabriel Ruiz (Pablo Del Valle) and Janet Ulrich Brooks (Virginia Butley).

The creative team includes William Boles (scenic design), Samantha Jones (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design) and Mikhail Fiksel (sound design). Isaac Gomez is the dramaturg and Tina Jach is the production stage manager.
“Much has happened in the last year that has challenged our ideas of what it means to be an American,” comments Artistic Director Chay Yew. “Playwright Karen Zacarias’ hilarious new play asks us to further consider: What does it mean to be a good neighbor? In a city proud of its many unique and great neighborhoods, I couldn’t be more ecstatic to share this timely comedy that is close to our hearts.”

About the Artists
Karen Zacarías (Playwright) was recently hailed by American Theater Magazine as one of the most produced playwrights in the USA. Other plays in Chicago in 2017 include Destiny of Desire at The Goodman Theater, Into the Beautiful North (Until June 17) at 16th Street Theater and Just Like Us by Teatro Vista. Other plays include Mariela in the Desert (World Premiere, The Goodman), The Sins of Sor Juana (productions The Goodman Theater and Teatro Vista), The Book Club Play (16th Street Theater), Legacy of Light (National Steinberg citation winner), the adaptations of Just Like Us (Denver Center), and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent (Round House). She collaborated on the libretto for the ballets Sleepy Hollow and Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises for the Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and has written 10 TYA musicals with composer Deborah Wicks La Puma. Her plays have been produced at The Kennedy Center, The Goodman Theater, South Coast Rep, The Guthrie, Cincinnati Playhouse, RoundHouse Theater, GALA Hispanic Theater, Denver Theater Center, Dallas Theater Center and many more. Karen is a core founder of the Latino Theatre Commons, a national network that strives to update the American narrative to include the stories of Latinos. She is the founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater, an award-winning theater company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C. Karen lives in D.C. with her husband and three children.

Marti Lyons (Director) is an ensemble member at The Gift Theatre Company and received the 2015 Maggio directing fellowship from Goodman Theatre. Chicago credits include The Mystery of Love and Sex (Writers Theatre), Title and Deed (Lookingglass Theatre Company), The City of Conversation (Northlight Theatre), Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Wit (The Hypocrites), Mine, Bethany and Body and Blood (The Gift Theatre Company), Hot Georgia Sunday, Seminar (Haven Theatre), Give it All Back, Mai Dang Lao, 9 Circles, Maria/Stuart, co-director for The Golden Dragon (Sideshow Theatre Company), Prowess, The Peacock, The Last Duck (Jackalope Theatre Company) and The Play About my Dad (Raven Theatre). Regional credits include Wondrous Strange (Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville).

Patrick Clear (Frank Butley) returns to Victory Gardens where he previously appeared in Chekhov in Yalta, Woman in Mind, and Music from a Locked Room. Broadway credits include Noises Off and Hollywood Arms. Other Chicago credits include Carlyle, Race, Clean House, Meet Vera Stark, Teddy Ferrara, The Goat, and Dartmoor Prison (Goodman), By the Water (Northlight), Port Authority (Writers Theatre), Henry V, As You Like It, Madness of George III (Chicago Shakespeare), Seascape (Remy Bumppo). Regional credits include An Opening in Time (Hartford Stage), 12 Angry Men (Maltz Jupiter Theatre), 1776 (Asolo Rep), Heavens Were Hung in Black (Indiana Rep), Emma (Cleveland Playhouse), and Dancing at Lughnasa (Arena Stage). Film and TV credits include The Dark Knight, “Empire,” and “Chicago PD.”

Paloma Nozicka (Tania Del Valle) is making her Victory Gardens debut. Chicago credits include The Snare, Exit Strategy, Long Way Go Down (Jackalope Theatre); Give It All Back, Antigonick (Sideshow Theatre); Bobbie Clearly (Steep Theatre); Our Lady of 121st Street (Eclipse Theatre); Teddy Ferrara (Goodman Theatre); The Play About My Dad (Raven Theatre). Regional credits include Boeing Boeing (Theatre Squared). Film & TV credits include The Secret Santa, “Chicago Med,” “Chicago PD,” “Empire,” and “Underemployed.”

Gabriel Ruiz (Pablo Del Valle) is a graduate of the Theatre School at DePaul University and an ensemble member of Teatro Vista. His Chicago credits include The Wolf at the End of The Block, White Tie Ball (Teatro Vista); Singin’ in the Rain, City of Angels (The Marriott Theater); Man in the Ring, Agamemnon (Court Theater); Arcadia, Company (Writers Theatre); The Upstairs Concierge (The Goodman Theater); Creditors (Remy Bumppo Theater); How Long Will I Cry?, Motherfucker with the Hat, The Way West (Steppenwolf Theater); Sita Ram (Chicago Children’s Choir); Working: The Musical (The Broadway Playhouse); Richard III, SS! A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Arabian Nights (Lookingglass Theater). Regional credits Native Gardens (The Cincinnati Playhouse); Harvey (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them (Forward Theater Company). Off-Broadway credits include Blood and Gifts (The Lincoln Center). Film and TV credits include “Boss,” “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Justice” and “APB.” He will be seen next in The Rembrandt at Steppenwolf.

Janet Ulrich Brooks (Virginia Butley) is a company member of TimeLine Theatre, where she has appeared in A Walk in the Woods, All My Sons, When She Danced, Not Enough Air, Weekend, Tesla’s Letters, Paradise Lost, Lillian and A Man For All Seasons. Chicago credits include: The Seagull and A True History of the Johnstown Flood (Goodman); The Original Grease (American Theatre Company); Pony (About Face); Jacob & Jack (Victory Gardens); Golda’s Balcony (Pegasus Players, Jeff Award Non-Equity wing – Outstanding Solo Performance); and work with Strawdog Theatre Company, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Writers’, Collaboraction, and others. Film and TV credits include Conviction, Polish Bar, I Heart Shakey, One Small Hitch and Chicago Code. Janet received the first Ed See Outstanding Theatre Alumnus Award from the University of Central Missouri, and earned her MFA in acting from Western Illinois University.

Full Performance Schedule
Previews for Native Gardens are June 2 – 8, 2017. Previews are $15-$40. The Press opening is Friday, June 9, 2017, at 7:30pm. Regular performances run June 10 – July 2, 2017: Tuesday — Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 3pm and 7:30pm; Sunday at 3:00pm.  Regular performances are $15-$60.

Victory Gardens has partnered with mobile theater ticketing app TodayTix to offer free tickets for the first preview of Native Gardens. Free Tickets will be available via TodayTix mobile lottery, launching one week before the first preview on Friday, May 26, 2017. Winners will be notified by email and push notification between 12:00pm and 3:00pm on the day of the first preview, Friday, June 2, 2017. 

Performances are at the Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens Box Office, 773.871.3000, email, or visit Ask the Box Office about student tickets ($15), senior, and Access. For group discounts, call 872.817.9087.

Public Programs
Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring themes and issues within Victory Gardens Theater’s productions. Connecting our theater to the world beyond the stage and rehearsal room, Public Programs bridge ideas, provoke dialogue, and deepen the relationship between our audiences and our productions.

A full and updated schedule of special events, post-show discussions, and presentations centered on performances of Native Gardens is available at . All events are free unless otherwise noted. For more information, call 773.871.3000 or visit the Victory Gardens website.

After every performance of Native Gardens (unless otherwise noted)
Join us for one of our intimate post-show conversations. Led by members from the Victory Gardens community—artistic affiliates, Artistic staff, Teen Arts Council members, The Council of Community Leaders, and community partners— reflect on what you’ve seen and share your response.

Post-show Conversation
Following the evening performance of Native Gardens
Between developing the idea to opening night, there is a lot that goes into the making of a brand new
play. Join playwright Karen Zacarías and Director of New Play Development Isaac Gomez as we talk
inspiration, determination, and process after this evening’s performance of Native Gardens.

Latinx Performance Celebration
June 2 - 4, 2017
Join us for an epic weekend of performance, conversation, and celebration as we welcome local and national Latinx artists as they share their work and tell their stories. More information and RSVPs available at

Pre-show Exhibition
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 6:30pm.
In a city like Chicago, we don’t all have lush backyard gardens to attract bees and grow produce. From community gardens to fully fledged urban farms, the budding field of Urban Agriculture uses clever solutions to solve the limited agricultural space in cities, not only to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables, but also to build healthier communities. Join us for a pre-show beginners’ guide to urban gardening, and find the green thumb you never knew you had.

Pre-show Reception | Post-show Interactive Talkback
Thursday, June 8, 2017
What kind of neighbor do you want to be? Join us for a pre-show celebration of community and neighbors
with food, drinks, and an interactive lobby display. After the performance of Native Gardens, stick around, grab a discounted drink from the bar with Victory Gardens’ Council of Community Leaders, and get to know your neighbors during an immersive post-show workshop lead by local teaching artists.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Post-show Conversation
Following the evening performance of Native Gardens
Chicago is a city historically built on neighborhoods that were intended to segregate. Since the Great Migration, race and economics have been one of the greatest factors that keeps our neighborhoods' resources inequitable. What would need to happen to begin the process of desegregation? Is it possible to desegregate? Join us for this riveting post-show conversation as we are joined by urban planners, developers, activists and more as we unearth the truths that have kept us apart, and discovering dreams to unite us once more.

Post-Show Performances
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Following the evening performance of Native Gardens
Good fences make good neighbors, so we’re told. What fences do we put up in our daily lives? In our
current political climate, how do we build bridges at our borders instead of walls? Join us after this
evening’s performance of Native Gardens for riveting post-show spoken word & poetry.

Saturday, June 17th, 2017
12:00pm - 7:30pm
Latinx culture is everywhere you look in Chicago: from incredible restaurants and extraordinary museums to cultural events on stage and screen. For one day only, come get a taste of Latinx Chicago at our Latinx Food Fest! From alcapurrias, to tacos, to tortas, y mas, join us throughout the day for a taste of Latinx food vendors from all over the city.

Post-show Performance
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Following the evening performance of Native Gardens
Maids, gardeners, drug dealers, and other one-note stereotypes. Latinx characters are rarely in command
of their own story, and they are rarely depicted as funny, intelligent, and successful: they usually have to
pick just one. Following tonight’s performance of Native Gardens, join us for this post-show performance
featuring local Latinx comedians and sketch artists as they take the mic and laugh it up.

About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Erica Daniels, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals.  Victory Gardens Theater is committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, set forth by Dennis Začek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.

Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theater work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.  

Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Začek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 259-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.

Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwrights include Luis Alfaro, Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Ike Holter, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Tanya Saracho and Laura Schellhardt. Each playwright has a seven-year residency at Victory Gardens Theater.

For more information about Victory Gardens, visit  Follow us on Facebook at, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram at

Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from The Wallace Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Shubert Foundation, The REAM Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Allstate Insurance, Polk Bros. Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Orli Staley Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding is provided by: Abbot Downing & Wells Fargo, Alliance Bernstein, The Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Exelon, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, Illinois Arts Council, Illinois Tool Works, Italian Village Restaurants, Mayer Brown LLP, The McVay Foundation, LLP, The Prince Charitable Trusts, The Saints, Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Southwest Airlines, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Whole Foods Market, and Wrightwood Neighbors Conservation Association.

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