Thursday, October 19, 2017

OPENING: Welcome to Jesus 10/26-12/3 And Full 33rd Season Casting Announced

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


World premiere of Welcome to Jesus by Janine Nabers
Chicago premiere of We’re Gonna Be Okay by Basil Kreimendahl
World premiere of Diagram of a Paper Airplane by Carlos Murillo

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we're looking forward to another season of edgy, insightful productions from ATC. We'll be out to review their season opener, Welcome to Jesuson October 30th, so check back soon for our full review. 

American Theater Company (ATC) announces complete casting for Season 33 productions: Janine Nabers’ world premiere of Welcome to Jesus, directed by Artistic Director Will Davis, October 26–December 3, 2017; Basil Kreimendahl’s Chicago premiere of We’re Gonna Be Okay, January 25–March 4, 2018, directed by Davis; and Carlos Murillo’s world premiere of Diagram of a Paper Airplane, May 3–June 10, 2018, directed by Bonnie Metzgar.

“At ATC we champion theater makers who are bold and curious about what is possible on stage, which means we're thrilled to kick off the season with the world premiere of Janine Nabers Welcome to Jesus, a remarkable new work fusing fable and horror in a 21st century take on the southern gothic tradition,” says Davis. “Welcome to Jesus speaks to the power of prejudice to define our fate and will be performed in a kinetic and magical darkness, punctuated by the high theater of small town football and old-time religion. Continuing in the ATC style of expansive and fearless approaches to play-making, Welcome to Jesus will be followed by Basil Kreimendahl's We're Gonna be Okay and Carlos Murillo's Diagram of a Paper Airplane. The Season 33 line up of artists exemplifies our commitment to equity, theatricality, and adventure, and we cannot wait to share their work with you.”

Season subscriptions are on sale now and range from $40-$114, with special pricing available for members under the age of 35. To purchase a subscription or for more information, visit or call the ATC Box Office at 773-409-4125.

World Premiere
Welcome to Jesus
Written by Janine Nabers
Directed by Will Davis
October 26–December 3, 2017

Cast: Taylor Blim (Dixie Danver), Theo Germaine (Bud Henderson), Rashaad Hall (Him), Casey Morris (Officer Mike Danver), Josh Odor (Coach Arthur Henderson), John Henry Roberts (Sheriff Paul Danver Sr.) and Stacy Stoltz (Ma Danver).

In fictional Hallelujah, TX, football reigns, and the quarterback is king. Janine Nabers’ darkly funny and powerful new play unearths the tyranny of small town life and the power of prejudice to define our fate. Staged in a field of wood chips, about a town in search of some good news, Welcome to Jesus fuses fable and horror in a twenty-first century take on the Southern Gothic tradition.

Chicago premiere
We’re Gonna Be Okay
Written by Basil Kreimendahl
Directed by Will Davis
January 25–March 4, 2018

Cast: Adithi Chandrashekar (Leena), BrittneyLove Smith (Mag), Saraí Rodriguez (Deanna), Avi Roque (Jake), Kelli Simpkins (Efran) and Penelope Walker (Sul).

In the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy addressed the nation, “My fellow citizens: let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out...But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing.” Well, Efran and Leena and Mag and Sul are thinking about doing something. Something big. Straight from Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays, Basil Kreimendahl’s We’re Gonna Be Okay confronts the fears of the American middle class as two families wrestle with macrame, female empowerment and a shared property line.

World Premiere
Diagram of a Paper Airplane 
Written by Carlos Murillo
Directed by Bonnie Metzgar
May 3–June 10, 2018

Cast: Nicholas Bailey (Mario), David Cerda (Alvaro), Lawrence Grimm (Herman), Rebecca Spence (Valerie) and Allyce Torres (Lila).

Javier C. is dead, and in his wake are fragments and scraps of his magnum opus mailed mysteriously from New Mexico to his group of ex-friends in New York. Called "an absolutely extraordinary achievement from a writer at the height of his powers” by American Theatre Magazine, Carlos Murillo's Diagram of a Paper Airplane is the first in a trilogy of plays that examine the capacity of friendships to withstand the unimaginable. Director Bonnie Metzgar brings life to a night of mourning and celebration that will leave them wondering if Diagram of a Paper Airplane ever existed at all.

Bringing together theater artists and audiences often separated by physical ability, gender identity and ethnicity

ATC remains committed to its partnership with Chicago Inclusion Project, whose work creates inclusive theater experiences that bring together Chicago artists and audiences normally separated by physical ability, gender identity and/or ethnic background. The two companies partner on casting, giving diverse theater artists access to roles they might traditionally have been excluded from. Together with the Chicago Inclusion Project, ATC will continue its commitment to presenting works that boldly reflect the diversity of stories and experiences in America today.

Past world premiere productions at ATC include Stephen Karam’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play The Humans and Ayad Akhtar's Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced, both of which enjoyed acclaimed Broadway runs. In Season 32 ATC produced the regional premiere of Jaclyn BackhausMen On Boats, immediately following its Off Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons; reimagined classic, Pulitzer Prize winner Picnic by William Inge; and presented Dan Aibel’s world premiere of T., an exploration of the competitive ice skating saga between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.  

About American Theater Company
American Theater Company (ATC) challenges and inspires its community by exploring stories that ask the question, "What does it mean to be an American?" ATC’s Ensemble includes Patrick Andrews, Kareem Bandealy, Jaime Castañeda, Kelly O’Sullivan, Tyler Ravelson, and Sadieh Rifai.

American Theater Company is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, the Shubert Foundation, ArtsWork Fund, Lagunitas Breweing Co, Actors’ Equity Foundation,
The Pauls Foundation and Robert & Isabelle Bass Foundation.

ROCK SHOWS ON OUR RADAR: Chicago’s Two Sets of Eyes Play Tonic Room 10/21/17

Chicago’s Two Sets of Eyes, featuring members of The Phantom Broadcast, Splor and Groove Cartel, offer up a progressive blend of post punk, hip hop, pop and jazz on their debut single “For the Last Time.”

“For the Last Time” streams at and the band is playing The Tonic Room this Sat, Oct 21 as noted at


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Allison Sill (Mary), David Sajewich (George) and Liliana Rena (Zuzu) will  appear in It’s A Wonderful Life: The Musical at Theatre at the Center.   Previews begin November 15.   Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Performances are 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays, with select Tuesday afternoon and Thursday and Sunday evening performances. Individual ticket prices range from $40 - $44. To purchase individual tickets, call the Box Office at 219-836-3255 or at 800-511-1552. Group discounts are available for groups of 11 or more and gift certificates are also available.   

For more information on Theatre at the Center, visit

Actors David Sajewich, in the role of George Bailey, and Allison Sill in the role of his wife Mary, lead the cast of Theatre at the Center’s  A Wonderful Life: The Musical  with James Harms as Mr. Potter, David Perkovich as Clarence, Jim Heatherly as Uncle Billy and Jason Richards as Mr. Martini. Previews begin November 16 with an Opening Night on November 19 and a run through December 23. A Wonderful Life: The Musical is made possible by the generous support of show sponsor American Community Bank.

“We are so excited to welcome the holiday season with A Wonderful Life,” said Artistic Director Linda Fortunato.  “All the charm, heart and humanity of the classic film are brought to the stage in this musical adaptation of the beloved life-affirming story. Perfect for a holiday celebration with the whole family”.

Based on the classic 1946 Frank Capra film starring James Stewart as George Bailey, A Wonderful Life: The Musical features book and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Joe Raposo. It’s the musical telling of how Clarence, George Bailey’s guardian angel, shows George how different the world, and everyone whose life he has touched, would be if he had never been born.   The beauty of the season, iconic Bedford Falls and yuletide spirit await audiences on the TATC stage for a musical that applauds the true meaning of Christmas.

David Sajewich was previously seen at TATC in All Shook Up and Beverly Hillbillies. Other credits include Les Miserables at Drury Lane Oakbrook, The Pajama Game and The Baker’s Wife at The Music Theatre Company and Fiddler on the Roof at Paramount Theatre. Allison Sill, who was also last seen at TATC in All Shook Up, has previous credits which include Honeymoon in Vegas, She Loves Me and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at Marriott Theatre, Oklahoma at Paramount Theatre and The Producers at Mercury Theater Chicago.  

James Harms, who plays Mr. Potter, previously appeared at TATC in Beverly Hillbillies. James received Jeff Awards for his performances in The Fantasticks, Hello, Dolly, Me and My Girl, and La Cage aux Folles. Last year he made his debut at Carnegie Hall in concert with Chita Rivera. In the role of Clarence, David Perkovich, was last seen at TATC in Man of La Mancha and Phantom.   David has performed in more than 120 shows including the national tour of Evita and has directed more than 60 productions including TATC’s The 39 Steps, Spamalot, Beverly Hillbillies and Grease. Jim Heatherly is making his TATC debut as Uncle Billy. Jim’s recent work includes the world premiere of Dance For Beginners at Piven Theatre Workshop and Light Up the Sky at Citadel Theatre.  Jason Richards, playing multiple roles as Mr. Martini, Mr. Hepner and Mr. Campbell, was previously seen at TATC in Big River and Annie Warbucks.  Other credits include The Producers at Mercury Theater Chicago and Shrek at Chicago Shakespeare. Jason also received a Jeff Award for his performance as Nicky/Trekkie Monster in Avenue Q at Night Blue Theater.

The ensemble cast consists of Caron Buinis, Lexis Danca, Christopher Davis, Ann Delaney, Andres Enriquez, Neil Friedman, Daniel Hurst, Kayla Kennedy, Henry McGinniss, James Nedrud, Mary Nigohosian, Casiena Raether, Rick Rapp, and Denzel Tsopnang. Child performers include Lilliana Rene, Julian Solis and Kylie Sullivan.

William Pullinsi is director of A Wonderful Life: The Musical. Pullinsi served as TATC’s Artistic Director for 10 seasons prior to becoming Artistic Director Emeritus in 2015 when he was named “Chicagoan of the Year in Theatre” by the Chicago Tribune. In 2016, The League of Chicago Theatres also presented Pullinsi with their Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions influencing and inspiring the Chicago theatre community. Pullinsi has won 19 Jeff Awards for Best Production and/or Best Direction and produced and directed more than 400 productions of Broadway plays and musicals.  

Bill Underwood serves as Music Director and Gordon Schmidt is choreographer.  Linda Fortunato is TATC’s Artistic Director; Richard Friedman is General Manager and Ann Davis is Head of Production. Scenic Designers for A Wonderful Life: The Musical are Richard and Jacqueline Penrod. Lighting Design is by Denise Karczewski with Costume Design by Brenda Winstead, Wig Design by Kevin Barthel, Prop Design by Brittney O’ Keefe and Sound Design by Barry Funderburg. Stage Manager is Angela Adams.

About TATC:
Founded in 1991, the 410-seat Theatre at the Center is a year round professional theater at its home: The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana.Theatre at the Center is the only professional theater company in Northwest Indiana, offering downtown caliber performances in an accessible venue with plenty of free parking. Theater at the Center is located off I-80/94, just 35 minutes from downtown Chicago.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tony Award Nominee Orfeh to Return to Broadway in PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL

MARCH 13 - APRIL 15, 2018





Broadway In Chicago and Producer Paula Wagner are delighted to announce that Tony Award nominee Orfeh will return to Broadway in PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL. Based on one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time, Garry Marshall’s PRETTY WOMAN, the new musical will have its pre-Broadway World Premiere stage production in Chicago in the spring of 2018 at Broadway In Chicago’s Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph) for a strictly limited 5-week engagement beginning March 13, through April 15, 2018.

PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL will star stage, television and film actress Samantha Barks as ‘Vivian’ opposite Tony Award winner and Grammy Award winner Steve Kazee as ‘Edward,’ with Tony Award nominee Orfeh as ‘Kit.’

“When Bryan and Jim played me a song they had written for the character ‘Kit’ called ‘Rodeo Drive’ I immediately thought Orfeh!” said director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, “I told the’s the voice that will make this song fly on Broadway!”

ORFEH (Kit) was last on Broadway as Paulette in Legally Blonde: The Musical for which she was nominated for the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Orfeh’s other Broadway credits include Saturday Night Fever, The Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm and Footloose. Off-Broadway credits include Love, Loss, and What I Wore, The Great American Trailer Park Musical and Love, Janis. Television and film work includes Sleeping with the Fishes (with Gina Rodgriguez), Across the Universe, “Film U,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, “Sex and the City” and “Chappelle's Show.” She has performed at Lincoln Center with her husband, Olivier Award winner and Tony nominee Andy Karl, and in numerous Broadway benefits including Hair for the Actors Fund (Grammy nomination). Her extensive recording career includes music with '90s top-40 group Or-N-More. She has performed with many music icons from legends the O'Jays to Chaka Khan. Her solo CD, "What Do You Want From Me" and latest single, "Forget My Name" are available on iTunes, as well as her most recent release, a live album titled "Legally Bound" that she and her husband recorded at Feinstein's/54 Below. Twitter: @official_orfeh, IG: @orfeh

PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL has original music and lyrics by Grammy Award winner Bryan Adams and his longtime songwriting partner Jim Vallance, book by Garry Marshall and the film’s screenwriter J.F. Lawton, is directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell and will begin performances Tuesday, March 13, 2018, for a strictly limited 5-week engagement at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre (24 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL).

PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL will begin performances on Broadway in the fall of 2018 at a Nederlander Theater to be announced.

One of the most beloved romantic comedy films of all time, PRETTY WOMAN was produced by Arnon Milchan (New Regency Productions) and swept the world off its feet in 1990 reinventing the romantic comedy genre by making the world believe in happily-ever-after.

PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL has scenic design by David Rockwell, costume design by Gregg Barnes, lighting design by Kenneth Posner & Philip S. Rosenberg, sound design by John Shivers, hair design by Josh Marquette, music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by Will Van Dyke, and casting by Telsey + Company. 101 Productions, Ltd will be the Executive Producer and General Manager.

PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL is produced by Paula Wagner, Nice Productions, LPO, New Regency Productions, Roy Furman, James L. Nederlander, Caiola Productions, Hunter Arnold, Stage Entertainment and The John Gore Organization.

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 Cadillac Palace Theatre, CIBC Theatre, Oriental 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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

SAVE THE DATES: Bertolt Brecht's FEAR AND MISERY OF THE THIRD REICH at Haven Theatre 2/8-3/11

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Haven Theatre Announces Final Production of 2017-18 Season:

By Bertolt Brecht
Translated by Eric Bentley
Directed by Artistic Director Josh Sobel
February 8 – March 11, 2018 at The Den Theatre

Haven Theatre is pleased to announce the final production slated for its 2017-18 Season, Bertolt Brecht’s unsettling and unflinching drama FEAR AND MISERY OF THE THIRD REICH, translated by Eric Bentley and directed by Artistic Director Josh Sobel, playing February 8 – March 11, 2018. Casting will be announced at a later date.

As Germany careens toward war, an entire society begins to crack, and the seeds of chaos and tragedy take root in the minds of its citizens. Josh Sobel (We're Gonna Die) helms an ensemble-driven production of Brecht's 1938 classic with a contemporary eye – a warning of how insidiously a culture can make space for atrocity, and a call to never allow it to happen again. 

Comments Artistic Director Josh Sobel, "As the world finds itself in the midst of its next great cultural shift, Brecht's examination of the common citizen and how a society can be led to accept the inhumane feels strikingly immediate. Brecht wrote this play reflecting and pulling back the curtain on the news of the day as it was happening around him, providing an unnerving and – in our current moment – all too important call to confront injustice as it happens and to firmly and proudly say: No. With this production we seek to serve one of Haven's core values – the Future – through an intimate and personal look at the our past and how such fatal mistakes were allowed to take place."

Haven’s 2017-18 Season also includes the previously announced DIRECTORS HAVEN, three short plays showcasing the talents of early career directors Kristen Johnson, Ian Martin and Lexi Saunders (October 16 – November 1, 2017) and the world premiere of THE DISPLACED, written by Isaac Gomez and directed by Jo Cattell, an electrifying thriller exploring the heartbreak of gentrification and the scars we leave on each other (May 31 – July 1, 2018).

Haven’s Theatre 2017-18 Season will be staged at its resident home, The Den Theatre's Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Single tickets for DIRECTORS HAVEN (pay-what-you-can) are currently available at Additional productions will go on sale at a later date.


Bertolt Brecht (Playwright) 1898-1956, playwright, poet and director, was born in Augsburg, Germany in February 1898. He established himself as a playwright during the 1920s and early 1930s with plays such as Baal, Man is Man, The Threepenny Opera and The Mother. In 1933, as Hitler came to power in Germany, Mr. Brecht fled to Scandinavia before eventually settling in the USA where he remained until 1947. During the war years, he wrote many of his best-known plays, including The Life of Galileo, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mother Courage and Her Children and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. He returned to Europe in 1947 and shortly after his arrival formed the Berliner Ensemble. He died in Berlin on August 14, 1956 but remains a hugely influential theatre practitioner.

Eric Bentley (Translator) was born in England in 1916, became an American citizen in 1948, in 1998 was inducted into the (American) Theatre Hall of Fame, and in 2011 won a gold medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Scholar, critic, teacher, performer, translator and, finally, playwright, he has had many books published and many plays and adaptations performed, the latter feature making him a star of the Samuel French catalogue. Several of his critical works have become classics, notably The Playwright as Thinker, Thinking about the Playwright and The Life of the Drama. Today, nine of his plays are published by Northwestern University Press in three volumes entitled Rallying Cries, Monstrous Martyrdoms and The Kleist Variations. Four more Bentley titles have recently been published by Broadway Play Publishing Inc: Round One, Round Two, A Time to Die and A Time to Live and The Sternheim Trilogy.

Josh Sobel (Director) is a Chicago-based director and Artistic Director of Haven Theatre Company. Recent credits include We're Gonna Die at Haven, Bobbie Clearly at Steep, The Long Christmas Ride Home and Hunting of the Snark (also Edinburgh Fringe) at Strawdog, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead at Metropolis and The Importance of Being Earnest featuring Lisa Tejero at Iowa Summer Rep, University of Iowa. Additional credits include work at Chicago Dramatists, Red Orchid, Victory Gardens, Sketchbook, The Ruckus, Greenhouse Theater Center, Abbie-Fest and New Leaf. From 2010-2013 Josh served as Associate Director of the National Theater Institute summer "Theatermakers" program at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Recipient, Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) Observership, Hamlet at Writers' Theatre. Associate member, SDC. 

About Haven Theatre:

We exist to be a Haven for The Future. We achieve this through championing the next generation of playwrights, directors and actors by producing and promoting plays and performances that are staking their claim as the immediate future of this art form, and by investing in those at the very beginning of their professional journeys. Through this inspiration, we seek to ignite in each audience member a hope for the Future - the Future of theatre and performance, the Future of each other, the Future of our community.

SEASON ANNOUNCED: Exciting Things are Afoot For Broken Nose Theatre

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:
Broken Nose Theatre Announces 
Full 2018 Line-Up:

World Premiere!
By Resident Playwright Michael Allen Harris
Directed by Kanome Jones

World Premiere!
By Sam Chanse
Directed by Company Member Jen Poulin

BNT’s Perennial Feminist Play Festival

World Premiere!
Written and Directed by Company Member Spenser Davis

New Residency at The Den Theatre

Broken Nose Theatre is pleased to announce a full line-up for 2018, featuring three world premiere productions for the Chicago stage – to be presented at its new resident home, The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. 

This spring, BNT presents the kitchen-sink comedy KINGDOM by resident playwright Michael Allen Harris, directed by Kanome Jones. The new play about an all-LGBTQ African American family in Orlando will feature BNT company member Johnard Washington and artistic associates Watson Swift and RjW Mays, and was originally developed through BNT’s The Paper Trail initiative.

Next summer, BNT presents the world premiere of Sam Chanse’s contemplative drama THE OPPORTUNITIES OF EXTINCTION, directed by company member Jen Poulin. The new play about exploring life and love in the face of the inevitable will feature BNT company member Echaka Agba and artistic associate Aria Szalai-Raymond.

Summer 2018 will also include BECHDEL FEST 6, BNT’s annual feminist festival, featuring a full slate of new short plays with all female-identifying casts. Playwrights, directors and casting will be announced in 2018.

Broken Nose closes the calendar year with the world premiere dark comedy PLAINCLOTHES, developed with much of the team behind BNT’s runaway 2017 hit At The Table. Written and directed by company member Spenser Davis, who helmed At The Table, the play examines biases and blind spots through the lens of a loss prevention team. PLAINCLOTHES will feature company members Echaka Agba, Elise Spoerlein, Johnard Washington and David Weiss – all of whom appeared in At The Table – along with company member Martin Hanna and artistic associates RjW Mays, Kim Boler, Adam Soule and Rob Koon, and will be developed by BNT and the ensemble.

In 2018, BNT will also provide institutional support to two outside playwrights through The Paper Trail – its new play development program. Next year’s plays include PEG by Liam Fitzgerald, about a couple who negotiate their kinks in anticipation of an impending shipment of sex toys; and EXPOSURE by Cynthia Hines, in which a former army photographer combats the ghosts of war that followed her home to the South Side of Chicago.

As it enters its sixth season, Broken Nose recently welcomed 13 new artists to its ranks. New company members include Echaka Agba, Rose Hamill, Martin Hanna and Johnard Washington and new artistic associates include Kim Boler, JD Caudill, Devon Green, Ada Grey, Rob Koon, RjW Mays, Adam Soule and Watson Swift.

“It’s been an exciting year for Broken Nose, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to spend the next one continuing to develop and produce timely new work, and to be able to work with so many talented BNT artists and collaborators. These world premieres range from Florida’s tourist capital to the desolation of the Mojave desert to downtown Chicago, yet despite their geography they remind us, sometimes warmly, sometimes starkly, of the things that matter most: love, human connection and survival.”

Tickets for all Broken Nose Theatre productions are available on a “pay-what-you-can” basis, allowing patrons to set their own price and ensuring theatre remains economically accessible for all audiences. Tickets for all productions will go on sale at a later date. For additional information, visit 

Broken Nose Theatre’s Full 2018 Line-Up Includes:

March 2 – March 31, 2018 
KINGDOM – World Premiere!
By BNT resident playwright Michael Allen Harris
Directed by Kanome Jones
Featuring BNT company member Johnard Washington and artistic associates Watson Swift and RjW Mays.

When the state of Florida legalizes same sex marriage, Arthur and Henry (his partner of fifty years) come to terms with their differing opinions on the necessity of becoming husbands, even as their son Alexander finds himself wading through some rough new waters of his own. KINGDOM is the story of an entirely-LGBTQ African American family that lives in the near-literal shadow of Orlando’s magical kingdom, as they struggle to create a life together that captures a little bit of that same magic.

KINGDOM was developed in conjunction with The Paper Trail, BNT’s new play development program.

June 2 – June 30, 2018
By Sam Chanse
Directed by BNT company member Jen Poulin
Featuring BNT company member Echaka Agba and artistic associate Aria Szalai-Raymond.

A couple flees to the Mojave Desert in the wake of a social media firestorm. A young woman obsessively studies the oncoming impact of climate change. As the world heats up, tensions rise and the political becomes indistinguishable from the environmental, these three find one another in the shadow of the endangered Joshua tree, wondering how long they have before everything falls apart. 

Summer 2018

BNT’s perennial favorite feminist festival returns! As with the last five iterations, BECHDEL FEST 6 will feature an all female-identifying cast performing new short plays written and directed by some of our favorite artists, and all passing the famous Bechdel Test. Created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the Bechdel Test asks whether a work of entertainment features at least two women in conversation about something other than a man. Playwrights, directors and casting to be announced in 2018.

October  20 – November 17, 2018
PLAINCLOTHES – World Premiere!
Written and directed by BNT company member Spenser Davis
Featuring BNT company members Echaka Agba, Elise Spoerlein, Martin Hanna, Johnard Washington and David Weiss and artistic associates RjW Mays, Kim Boler, Adam Soule and Rob Koon.

After an incident with a shoplifter ends with half their team either fired or in the hospital, the loss prevention department of a downtown Chicago retail store comes under harsh investigation from corporate. Their manager’s suggestion: “Start catching more white people. At least until they stop looking at the numbers.” When a group of supposed Good Guys have a blind spot that lands them on the chopping block, who holds themselves accountable and who decides to give the higher-ups a taste of the trenches? In the style of BNT’s 2017 hit At The Table, PLAINCLOTHES will be developed alongside its pre-cast ensemble.

Additional casting for the season will be announced at a later date.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Broken Nose Theatre’s 2018 playwrights and directors (left to right) Kanome Jones, Michael Allen Harris, Jen Poulin, Sam Chanse and Spenser Davis.

About the Artists
Michael Allen Harris (Playwright, Kingdom) As a writer, Michael has collaborated with Chicago Theatre companies such as Broken Nose Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, Arc Theatre, Stage 773, Fine Print Theatre, Chicago Home Theater Festival and The New Colony. His play Rocky Road received its world premiere at the New Studio Theatre of Columbia College Chicago and was directed by Chicago actor/playwright/director Tom Mula. It was the first production featured in the Main Stage season that was authored by an alumnus. His play The Velvet Tabernacle was featured in a development series on behalf of Fine Print Theatre. One of his most recent plays, Kingdom, was nourished in a season-long development on behalf of Broken Nose Theatre, and received a staged reading at the Richard Christiansen theatre space of Victory Gardens in June 2016. In the fall of 2017, his play Punk receive its world premiere on behalf of The New Colony, where he recently became an ensemble member. In December of 2016, Michael became the first Resident Playwright of Broken Nose Theatre. His other plays include Ascension. Short plays include: The Woman Who Stared into The Eyes of the Red Horseman, House of Samurai, They Let Him Bleed, Project Agatha (a collaboration project based on Regina Taylor’s play Stop. Reset.) and Bind. As an actor, he has worked with numerous Chicago theaters such as Adventure Stage, Eclipse Theatre, Gift Theatre, Teatro Vista, The-Massive, Stone Soup Theatre Project, Infusion Theatre, Broken Nose Theatre and Cold Basement Dramatics. He is an artistic ensemble member of Eclipse Theatre Company. Michael is currently pursuing his MFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Kanome Jones (Director, Kingdom) has been performing and working in Chicago for over five years. She works with several theater companies here in the city, wearing different hats for each one. She is the Casting Director for Strawdog Theatre Company and the Associate Producer for Midsommer Flight. She also works with Stage Left Theatre and Waltzing Mechanics as an ensemble member. In the past, Kanomé has worked with Broken Nose Theatre as a performer in their first Bechdel Fest and as a director in their second iteration. She has also directed an installment of EL Stories with the Waltzing Mechanics.  Other recent performance credits include Building the Wall and The Firestorm (Stage Left Theatre), understudy in The Book Club Play (16th Street Theatre) Twelfth Night (Midsommer Flight) and Titus Andronicus (Babes with Blades Theatre Company). She is proud alumni of the Professional Training Company at Actors Theatre of Louisville and BFA graduate of Missouri State University. 

Sam Chanse’s (Playwright, The Opportunities of Extinction) plays include The Opportunities of Extinction, The Other Instinct, Fruiting Bodies and Lydia’s Funeral Video. A former
Sundance/Ucross Playwright Fellow, MacDowell Fellow, Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow and Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Fellow at The Lark, she has also received residencies from Djerassi, Tofte Lake Center and SPACE at Ryder Farm. Her work has been recognized by The Kilroys, and commissions include Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan, Ma-Yi/the Flea, Second Generation, Leviathan Lab and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her first solo play, Lydia’s Funeral Video, is published by Kaya Press. She is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, and a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and Ars Nova’s Play Group. 

Jen Poulin (Director, The Opportunities of Extinction) is a Chicago based director and dramaturg, whose recent projects include The River Bride with Halcyon (dramaturg) and What of the Night? with Stage Left and Cor Theatre (assistant director). She previously served as Interim Grants Manager and Artistic Programs Apprentice at American Theater Company and Associate Artistic Director of BackStage Theatre Company. She has worn many hats since earning her Theatre Studies BFA from University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: educator, box office assistant, blood mopper, script mistress, stage and production manager, producer and performer. But her heart belongs to directing, especially new work. As a play reader, she’s worked with Stage Left Theatre, Artemisia Theatre and Kitchen Dog Theater. Her stage management and directing credits span many fine Chicago companies, including Adventure Stage Chicago, Strawdog Theatre Company, Steep Theatre Company, Mary Arrchie Theatre Company and WildClaw Theatre. She is also an Artistic Associate with No Stakes Theater Project.

Spenser Davis (Director/Playwright, Plainclothes) is a company member of Broken Nose Theatre, where he has directed From White Plains, A Phase, Bechdel Fest and At The Table, for which he received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Director – Play. It won three other Jeff Awards including Best Production, and was given a twice-extended summer remount. Other directing credits include Bachelorette at Level 11; FitzFest and Kafkapalooza at First Floor; numerous editions of the One Minute Play Festival; the forthcoming Lametown at The Factory Theater; as well as work with Strawdog, Otherworld, Mary-Arrchie and Pride Films and Plays. Assistant directing credits include Pilgrim’s Progress and 3C at A Red Orchid, as well as Divine Sister at Hell in a Handbag. As a playwright, he was a finalist for the Actor Theater of Louisville’s Heideman Award, and his first full-length play Merge, about the rise and fall of the video game company Atari, closed The New Colony’s eighth season. He is also an ensemble member of The Factory Theater and has worked around town as an actor. Plainclothes is his second play.

BROKEN NOSE THEATRE is Chicago’s premiere Pay-What-You-Can theatre company. Founded in 2012, BNT has produced and developed 10 full length plays (including 7 Chicago or World Premieres) and over 40 new womencentric short plays through our annual Bechdel Fest. We strive to spark conversation, cultivate empathy, and amplify underrepresented voices, and are committed to making new, exciting and relevant theatre that is economically accessible to all audiences. 
For more information, please visit

TICKETS ON SALE: Gobsmacked! at Broadway Playhouse For Five Days Only 12/5-10

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


DEC. 5 – DEC. 10, 2017

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows we can't wait to check out Gobsmacked! as we enjoy both a cappella and beatboxing and can't do either ourselves. This is sure to be a unique show. 

Broadway In Chicago and Nic Doodson, producer and creator of GOBSMACKED!, are delighted to announce that individual tickets for the sensational, next-generation a cappella show, GOBSMACKED!, are now on sale. GOBSMACKED! will begin its first US tour set to play 120 performances throughout North America . The tour will play Broadway In Chicago's Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E. Chestnut) for a limited five-day engagement December 5 through December 10, 2017.

GOBSMACKED! will feature performers such as  world-champion beatboxer Ball-Zee, the three-time winner of the UK Beatbox Champion. Joining Ball-Zee will be a myriad of musical talent including Marcus Collins, the 2011 runner up in the UK version of “The X-Factor,” acclaimed Norwegian singer and pianist Monika Sik-Holm, UK stage actress Emilie Louise Israel, West End actor Nick Hayes, and Joanne Evans and Ed Scott who have performed with GOBSMACKED! since its inception.

Direct from sell-out seasons in London, Hong Kong and Edinburgh comes a mind-blowing vocal show that redefines the human voice.  Featuring the reigning world-champion beatboxer, Ball-Zee, and an international cast of world-class vocalists, GOBSMACKED! weaves stories through all forms of a cappella from traditional street corner harmonies to cutting-edge, multi-track live looping. 

Critics in the UK call GOBSMACKED! "entertainment, not to be missed," (Broadway Baby) and “better than Glee…mesmerizing,” (EdFest Magazine).  Audiences will experience heart-stopping singing and jaw-dropping beatboxing in this latest break-out show that everyone is talking about –it’s funny, joyful and uplifts the spirits of all ages!

Though one of the oldest forms of music, a cappella singing has only recently broken through to mainstream popularity. Movies such as Pitch Perfect, TV shows such as Glee and groups like Pentatonix, Straight No Chaser and Naturally 7 have catapulted a cappella from street corners to stadiums.  The producers of GOBSMACKED! have created a show for the whole family that takes the audience on a journey through music.  GOBSMACKED! not only showcases modern a cappella at its best but also tells an urban tale of love, loss and redemption.

Executive Producer and Creator Nic Doodson, Director Alexandra Spencer-Jones and Musical Director and Co-Creator Jack Blume bring this unique musical experience to life after representing some of the most exciting a cappella and theatrical talent of the last few years.  They have worked with artists such as Daft Punk, Britney Spears, Jose Carreras, Buena Vista Social Club and Soweto Gospel Choir and have produced and directed shows in venues such as the O2 Arena in London and The Sydney Opera House.
Facebook: @godbsmackedtheshow
Twitter: @godbsmackedshow
Instagram: @gobsmackedtheshow

MARCUS COLLINS (The Chap): Marcus Collins, at just 29 years old, has already achieved great heights in his singing and musical career after his journey started on TV’s highest rating talent show, The X Factor. After finishing as runner up on The X Factor, Marcus released his debut album which featured production by the London-based Metrophonic team, who had previously worked with Whitney Houston and Cher. The album included the critically acclaimed cover of The White Stripes hit ‘Seven Nation Army’ which also became his first top 10 single in the UK. Marcus is a born performer and his love of live stage work has seen him fulfill another ambition by appearing in the award-winning production of ‘Hairspray‘ and being in the Original west end cast and three time Olivier award winning musical ‘Kinky Boots’ who had their live cast recording was recently nominated for a Grammy. Marcus is thrilled to soon embark on the North American tour as a vocalist of A Capella vocal harmony group GOBSMACKED!

MONIKA SIK-HOLM (The Girl): Training: First Class BA(Hons) from Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, Credits: A Beautiful Noise – The Neil Diamond Story (UK Tour), Cinderella in Cinderella (Plowright Theatre), Alice Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington (Thwaites Empire Theatre), Magical Misstery Four (Royal Carribbean, Princess Cruises, Celebrity & Holland America), The Playlist (Munken Playhouse, Norway), The Rock Frogs (Norway), Brigitta in Scandinavian Heart (Iris Theatre), Cybersoul (Lost Theatre). Voice Overs/Recordings include: The Rock Frogs (Universal Music Norway), BeatBo (Fisher Price/Mattel), On call for the heart & Vivi Theme Tune (VoiceArchives). Monica represented Norway as a singer and pianist in the World Championships for Performing Arts in Los Angeles in 2011, and took home both gold and silver medals in her categories.

BALL-ZEE (The Engineer): Patrick Hirst a.k.a. Ball-Zee is one of the UK’s leading beatbox artists and has quickly become established as one of the leading vocal musicians on the world stage thanks to his unique musical style, signature snares and astonishingly realistic sound effects. Along with The Beatbox Collective, Ball-Zee is the current world team Beatbox champion. Ball-Zee is in constant demand as a teacher, competition judge and workshop leader. In the last year he has performed and taught in Australia, China, India, Hong Kong, Poland, U.K, Germany, Italy and many more.

EMILIE LOUISE ISRAEL (The Woman): Emilie began her training at Arts Educational Schools, since then she has performed across the UK in several large scale touring productions including: Lead Vocalist in The Hitmaker: The Music of Nile Rodgers (Viva Productions), Freak Fest: 80’s Halloween (Viva Productions) & most recently as Lead Vocalist on the Magic of Motown UK & Ireland Tour. Emilie can also be seen in the music video for Honne. Emilie is very excited to start the next chapter of her career, travelling the U.S. and doing what she loves.

NICK HAYES (The Man): Television and Film: ‘The Definition of Lonely’ (Official selection & WINNER best film, Outwest film festival NV), Series regular Orson Buxton in Hollyoaks:In the city (Channel 4/BBC America), Thomas Portman in Doctors (BBC), Roy in Boyfriend Material, Shannon in Telegraph Hill, Paul Ashworth in RAT (Official selection Blackbird film festival NYC) & Jessie J Television campaign for TUC Crackers. West End: ‘Legally Blonde The musical’ (Three time Olivier award WINNER/Savoy Theatre). Standby Ren McCormack in Footloose (Playhouse Theatre), Understudy Bobby C in Saturday Night Fever (Apollo Victoria), originated the role of Angel in LIFT (Trafalgar studios), Billy in Elegies for angels punks and raging queens (Soho Theatre) Angel in a Gala performance of RENT (Garrick Theatre). Awards: Best Actor Award at Kino Shorts ’61 for ‘The Definition of Lonely’.

JOANNE EVANS (The Diva): Credits: Gobsmacked: Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong, Posh (Nottingham and Salisbury playhouses, 2015)directed by Susannah Tresilian, Pride and Prejudice WORKSHOP (Nottingham playhouse, 2017), company of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular (2016), Opera Holland Park (2013), English National Opera, Third Hand Opera, Opera Viscera. Other: Co-writer on theme for BBC1’s ‘Pitch Battle’.

ED SCOTT (The Boy): Ed is an alumnus and former musical director of the University of Exeter’s award winning vocal ensemble Semi-Toned. A self-taught vocalist, Ed has been involved with Gobsmacked! since its inception, and made his professional debut with the show at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As well as writing and arranging a cappella music, Ed works as an emcee and voiceover artist, and runs workshops on a cappella music. He has two brothers, two cats, and two vocal registers.

Individual tickets for GOBSMACKED! at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place range from $39-$79 with premium seats available. Tickets are available 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, 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 Cadillac Palace Theatre, CIBC Theatre, Oriental 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

Martha Lavey Celebration and Honorary Street Naming at Steppenwolf Last Week

Steppenwolf Paid Heartfelt Tribute to Influential and Beloved Chicago Cultural Leader
in Public Memorial Event, October 9

Martha Lavey: 
A Celebration of Her Life and Legacy

It's been a huge year of loss for Steppenwolf Theatre Company with numerous beloved ensemble members and associates passing away. The untimely death of former artistic director Martha Lavey, is the one that hit me the hardest. I was happy to see they have a tribute to her with a reserved sign on the bookshelves at Front Bar. There will always be space reserved in our hearts and minds for Martha Lavey, as those she influenced create on.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company hosted a warm and heartfelt public memorial celebrating the remarkable life and legacy of ensemble member and former artistic director Martha Lavey, who passed earlier this year at the age of 60. On October 9, more than 500 ensemble members, friends, family, co-workers, and collaborators gathered in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre to share in a two hour tribute to the legendary Chicago cultural leader with stories, song, laughter and tears, hosted by current Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro and Executive Director David Schmitz. More than 500 people also tuned into the live stream of the event.

In addition to the hosts, the evening included speeches honoring the many ways that Martha Lavey touched the lives around her personally as a sister, aunt, friend and collaborator, and publicly as a cultural and community leader, mentor and advocate of the arts and artists. Speakers included ensemble members Amy Morton, Bruce Norris, Yasen Peyankov, Molly Regan (sharing the words of ensemble member Austin Pendleton) along with Jenny Avery, Doug Brown, Ben Cameron, Curt Columbus, Nora Daley, Michele Dragisity, Evan Hatfield, Bruce Sagan, Jessica Thebus and Andy White. The event also included musical performances by the All Nations Worship Assembly Chicago Ensemble, Suzi Petri and ensemble member Jim True-Frost. A retrospective video looking back on Lavey’s life and legacy was provided by HMS Video.

The following morning, the stretch of Halsted Street in front of Steppenwolf Theatre was renamed “Martha Lavey Way” in an honorary ceremony. Steppenwolf ensemble, employees and public gathered at the corner of Willow St and Halsted St at 11am for the sign unveiling with remarks by Steppenwolf Executive Director David Schmitz and Alderman Michele Smith.

The honorary street renaming ordinance was submitted by Alderman Michele Smith of the 43rd Ward and granted by the City Council. Two honorary “Martha Lavey Way” signs have been installed—one at the northwest corner of North Halsted Street and West North Avenue, pointing north, and the other sign will be located at the southwest corner of North Halsted and West Willow Street, pointing south.

Martha Lavey joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 1993 and served as Artistic Director from 1995 to 2015. Under her transformative leadership, Steppenwolf became a national leader in producing new plays and commissioning playwrights, doubled the size of its ensemble and diversified its base of artists, added two performance spaces, expanded and deepened its partnerships in public schools and the community, created Steppenwolf for Young Adults, and instituted a platform for engaging audiences after every performance. She oversaw the production of hundreds of plays and transferred dozens of Steppenwolf productions to Broadway and abroad, gaining national and international recognition for the company and Chicago as a vital theater destination.
During Martha Lavey’s tenure, Steppenwolf was awarded the National Medal of the Arts, the only theater to ever receive the honor, as well as the Illinois Arts Legend Award, Equity Special Award and nine of the company’s 12 Tony Awards. Lavey catapulted Steppenwolf to the forefront of new play development and production with a robust commissioning program that cultivates ongoing creative relationships with some of the most compelling playwrights today. Lavey oversaw the conception of and programming for the Garage Theater, an intimate space in 1998 that provided an additional platform for outside companies, new works and audience engagement. Several programs were established during her tenure, including Steppenwolf for Young Adults, an innovative and influential program for teens and their families; The School at Steppenwolf, an acclaimed training residency based in ensemble traditions; The Professional Leadership program for emerging arts managers and designers; The First Look Rep of New Work for plays in development; and the Garage Rep, presenting Chicago’s vibrant Off-Loop theater companies, among others. Lavey was named one of the ‘100 Most Powerful People’ by Chicago Magazine twice, was selected as one of the city's ‘10 Most Powerful Women in the Arts’ by the Chicago Sun-Times and was awarded the title of ‘2010 Chicagoan of the Year’ by the Chicago Tribune. Lavey and former Steppenwolf Executive Director David Hawkanson were recipients of the 2015 ‘Citizen Advocate Award’ presented by the Arts Alliance Illinois for their extraordinary contributions to the arts locally and nationally. In May 2016 she received an honor from the City of Chicago for her two decades of service as artistic director.

While leading one of the most acclaimed theater companies in the world, Martha Lavey also performed in more than 30 Steppenwolf productions including Middletown, Endgame, Up, Good Boys and True, Love-Lies-Bleeding, Lost Land, I Never Sang for My Father, The Memory of Water, Supple in Combat, Time of My Life, A Clockwork Orange, Talking Heads, SLAVS!, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Love Letters, and Aunt Dan and Lemon. Elsewhere in Chicago she performed at the Goodman, Victory Gardens, Northlight and Remains theaters and in New York at the Women’s Project and Productions.

Martha Lavey served a Board President for the Theatre Communications Group from 2009 – 2011. She served on grants panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, The Theatre Communications Group, Three Arts Club, USA Artists and the City Arts panel of Chicago. She earned a doctorate in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and was a member of the National Advisory Council for the School of Communication at Northwestern University. She was a recipient of the Sarah Siddons Award, an Alumni Merit Award and an Honorary Doctorate from Northwestern University.
Martha Lavey passed away on April 25, 2017 due to complications from a stroke. Faithful friends, audience members, donors, staff, artists, mentees, members of the Steppenwolf family and the national theatre community were all indelibly impacted by Martha's passion, commitment, vision and unmatched intellect. She will be dearly missed. Services for Martha were held in May 2017 in her parent’s home of Vienna, Virginia.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble today features 47 members who represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. 

For additional information, visit,, and

OPENING: Firebrand Theatre Launches With Chicago Premiere of LIZZIE

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Inaugural Production!

Firebrand Theatre Presents the Chicago Premiere of

The cast of Firebrand Theatre’s Chicago premiere of LIZZIE (left to right) Leah Davis, Jaquelyne Jones, Liz Chidester and Camille Robinson. Photo by Joe Mazza.

Music by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt 
Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner
Book by Tim Maner
Additional Music by Tim Maner
Additional Lyrics by Alan Stevens Hewitt
Based on an original concept by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner 
Orchestrations by Alan Stevens Hewitt 
Directed by Victoria Bussert
Music Direction by Julia A. Miller and Andra Velis Simon
Choreography by Janet Louer
November 11 – December 17, 2017 at The Den Theatre

Firebrand Theatre, the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage, is pleased to present its inaugural production, the Chicago premiere of LIZZIE, the rock musical based on the true-life story of accused axe-murderess Lizzie Borden. LIZZIE will play November 11 – December 17, 2017 at The Den Theatre's Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Single tickets for LIZZIE and season subscriptions (including 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL) are currently available at 

Directed by Victoria Bussert with music direction by Julia A. Miller and Andra Velis Simon and choreography by Janet Louer, LIZZIE features music by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, lyrics by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner, book by Tim Maner, additional music by Tim Maner, additional lyrics by Alan Stevens Hewitt, based on an original concept by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner with orchestrations by Alan Stevens Hewitt. 

LIZZIE features Liz Chidester as Lizzie, Leah Davis as Bridget, Jacquelyne Jones as Alice and Camille Robinson as Emma. The late night cast/understudies, who will appear in four 11 pm performances, include Kyrie Anderson as Lizzie, Tatiana Bustamante as Bridget, Elle Walker as Alice and Dakota Hughes as Emma.

"Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, gave her father forty-one." So goes the nursery rhyme describing the crime of the century that took the nation by storm when Lizzie Borden murdered her parents with an axe in 1892. Or did she? LIZZIE is a musical that reimagines that bloody legend with four women fronting a female rock band. LIZZIE is American mythology set to a blistering rock score with rage, sex, betrayal and bloody murder. 

Comments Artistic Director Harmony France, “We knew pretty early on that we wanted Lizzie to open our season. It fits our mission perfectly. It's one of the few musicals that feature all women. The characters are flawed and complicated in a way that women don't normally get to portray in musical theatre. There is an unapologetic blistering rock score that will be played by our all femme band. It's sexy and scary and vulnerable and there's a splash zone. The alleged axe-murderess, Lizzie Borden, has captured our imagination for centuries. She is a fascinating historical figure who lived a very unconventional life and she is one of the few women in America responsible for a ‘crime of the century.’ At Firebrand, we are committed to illuminating women's stories whether they're good, bad or ugly – and Lizzie is definitely all of the above.”

The production team for LIZZIE includes: Eleanor Kahn (scenic design), Charlotte M. Yetman (costume design), Maya Michele Fein (lighting design), Victoria Deiorio (sound design), Jon Martinez (assistant director), Danielle Stack (production manager) and Jean E. Compton (stage manager).

Cast: Liz Chidester (Lizzie), Leah Davis (Bridget), Jacquelyne Jones (Alice) and Camille Robinson (Emma).
Late Night Cast/Understudies: Kyrie Anderson (Lizzie) Tatiana Bustamante (Bridget) Dakota Hughes (Emma) and Elle Walker (Alice). 

Location: The Den Theatre's Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Dates: Previews: Saturday, November 11 at 8 pm and Sunday, November 12 at 3 pm.

Regular run: Thursday, November 16 – Sunday, December 17, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving Day).

Late Night Performances (featuring understudies): Friday, December 1 at 11 pm, Saturday, December 2 at 11 pm, Friday, December 8 at 11 pm and Saturday, December 9 at 11 pm.
Open Captioned Performances (by Molly Brennan): Sunday, November 26 at 3 pm and Sunday, December 3 at 3 pm

Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $45. Late night shows $30. Students $20. Single tickets and season subscriptions are currently available at

About The Creative Team
Victoria Bussert (Director) balances the professional and academic worlds working as an award-winning freelance director while serving as Director of Music Theatre for Baldwin Wallace University.  Her work has been seen at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Goodspeed Opera, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Dallas Theatre Center, Cincinnati Playhouse, Portland Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Dobama Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, Pegasus Players, Beck Center for the Arts, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, among others.  Victoria serves as Resident Director for Cleveland's Great Lakes Theatre and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.  She has directed seven national tours including Into The Woods, Once On This Island and The Who’s Tommy. Her international directing credits include The Adventures of Friar Tuck in Russia, the Danish premieres of Avenue Q and [title of show], as well as the European premiere of Lizzie for Fredericia Theatre which moves to London in February 2017. Victoria received a BA in Theatre and Dance from Barat College and an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University.

Julia A. Miller (Music Director) performs as a guitarist with the electroacoustic trio Auris, with Gimlet Eye, and as a frequent soloist and collaborator in experimental and avant garde chamber music. Auris’s current CD has been released on Artco Records (2009). Julia completed the performance half of a double Master of Music in Classical Guitar Performance at Northwestern University, and served as the Jazz, Folk and Contemporary Guitar Department Chair at the Music Institute of Chicago, where she was also a Suzuki Guitar specialist. As a composer, Julia is active with the Chicago Composer’s Consortium and New Music Chicago, and has a CD of acoustic chamber music on the Southport Composer’s label. Julia’s music has been performed by artists including guitarist Fareed Haque, piano trio The Lincoln Trio, guitar and mandolin duo Ahlert & Schwab, and sopranos Toni Arnold and Julia Bentley, and has been featured at such festivals and venues as the Aspen Music Festival, May In Miami, the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Depaul University, Northwestern University, and Oberlin University, as well as rock clubs, cabarets, bars and alternative spaces internationally. Julia has received awards and fellowships from the Chicago Tribune Foundation, the New York Art Ensemble, the United Arts Council, the American Composer’s Forum, and Meet the Composer.  Julia has been a member of the composition faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago and has also served as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Sound and Liberal Arts, at The School of the Art Institute, Chicago.

Andra Velis Simon (Music Director) is a music director, adapter, arranger, vocal coach and pianist based in Chicago. Regionally, her work has been seen at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, A.R.T. in Cambridge, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Berkeley Rep, Olney Theatre Center in Maryland and Three Oaks in Michigan. In Chicago: The Goodman Theatre (The Iceman Cometh and Camino Real), Theater Wit (Mr. Burns: a post-electric play and 10 out of 12), Chicago Children’s Theatre (The Hundred Dresses, A Year with Frog and Toad, Goodnight Moon), The Hypocrites (Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes, American Idiot, Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, HMS Pinafore), Windy City Playhouse, and many others. Andra is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, where she teaches several musical theatre performance courses, and where she served as the staff Musical Director for the Theatre Department from 2008-2016.

Janet Louer (Choreographer) has been responsible for launching many careers’ over the past 35 years that she has worked in the industry. Some of them are now Artistic Directors, Directors, Agents, Casting directors in Chicago, New York, and all over the country. Janet was the former manager of Tony Award Winner Heather Headley. Janet created the Musical Theatre Division at ATC and is currently the Artistic Director/Creator for Another Door theatre Project; The Ensemble Conservatory, a comprehensive training/performance opportunity for young actors. Janet is the Development Director of a new approach to acting called Acting;out of and through the Human Condition. National Tours: (all under direction of Victoria Bussert) BUDDY (Jeff Award for choreography), Assassins, The Secret Garden, Once On This Island, Barnum, Into The Woods and Anyone Can Whistle. Regional: The Frogs, You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow, Pacific Overtures, Company, Goblin Market, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Little Shop of Horrors, A Little Night Music and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Mission Statement
FIREBRAND THEATRE is a musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding their opportunities on and off the stage. Firebrand is a 501(c)(3) Equity theatre.

Company members: Artistic Director: Harmony France, Managing Director: Kimberly Lawson, Advisory Board: Lili-Anne Brown, Brenda Didier, Kate Garassino, Emjoy Gavino, Amber Mak, Danni Smith, Company Members: Kasey Alfonso, Sydney Charles, Adelina Feldman-Schultz, Carly Glenn, Amanda Horvath, Jon Martinez, Eric Martin, Amelia Jo Parrish and Andra Velis-Simon.

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