Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:


July 11 – August 5, 2018


Here at ChiIL Live Shows we're so very excited for this remount for too many reasons to count. I've adored Ionesco since my college intro to his Theatre of the Absurd began with Rhinoceros. I'm also quite fond of Shira Piven's work, Michael Shannon, Guy Van Swearingen (original cast members)... and the rest of this cast of Chicago's finest. A Red Orchid Theatre is at it again, bringing vividly stunning works and star power to their intimate Old Town storefront. This is where theatre gets real. Don't miss this! Book ASAP. This run is sure to sell out.

A Red Orchid Theatre presents a special summer engagement of Victims of Duty by Eugene Ionesco and directed by Shira Piven. Victims of Duty runs July 11 – August 5, 2018 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N Wells in Chicago.

The cast of Victims of Duty includes original cast members Ensemble Members Michael Shannon (The Detective) and Guy Van Swearingen (Choubert), as well as Karen Aldridge (Madeleine), Rich Cotovsky (Nicolas D’eu), and Ensemble Member Mierka Gierten (The Lady).

Much of the original 1995 team come together to revisit Ionesco's absurd masterpiece. Choubert, the archetypal bourgeois everyman, and his wife Madeleine are spending a quiet evening at home when the Detective arrives to enlist their help in finding the previous tenant. A roller-coaster ride of high comedy and horrific tragedy as Choubert examines his past present and future in a quest to find out where Mallot could be hiding.

“Victims of Duty was the very first show I ever saw at A Red Orchid,” says Artistic Director Kirsten Fitzgerald. “I am not entirely sure Ionesco's investigation of a life made logical sense to me at the time, but it made perfect emotional sense and was viscerally stunning.  So much so, that I knew I needed to work with these people in this space.  That was 1996.  With many of the originals returning (including Director Shira Piven, Production Designer Danila Korogodsky, and actors Guy Van Swearingen and Michael Shannon) the investigation promises to go even deeper.”

In addition to Director Shira Piven, the creative of Victims of Duty includes Danila Korogodsky (Production Designer), Ensemble Member Mike Durst (Lighting Designer), and Brando Triantafilou (Sound Designer).

Tickets, priced at $50, will go on-sale Wednesday, May 30 at noon and may be purchased at the A Red Orchid Theatre Box Office (1531 N. Wells Ave, Chicago) by calling (312) 943-8722, or online

About the Artists

EUGENE IONESCO (Playwright) was a Romanian-born French playwright. He studied in Bucharest and Paris, where he lived from 1945. His first one-act antiplay, The Bald Soprano (1950), inspired a revolution in dramatic techniques and helped inaugurate the Theatre of the Absurd. He followed it with other one-act plays in which illogical events create an atmosphere both comic and grotesque, including The Lesson (1951), The Chairs (1952), and The New Tenant (1955). His most popular full-length play, Rhinoceros (1959), concerns a provincial French town in which all the citizens are metamorphosing into rhinoceroses. Other plays include Exit the King (1962) and A Stroll in the Air (1963). He was elected to the Acadmie Franaise in 1970.

SHIRA PIVEN (Director) is a director of both stage and film.  She was the child of theatre people and established herself originally as an actress and stage director in Chicago in the 90's.  Shira has directed numerous stage productions, many of them original adaptations, in New York, Chicago, LA, and Washington D.C. She was the director and a founding member of Burn Manhattan spontaneous theatre, a groundbreaking group performing entirely improvised physical theatre throughout New York City.  In Los Angeles Shira developed and directed the plays Little and All Cake No File at the Actor’s Gang Theatre and Fully Loaded at UCB Theatre. Her first foray into film combined live theatre with film sequences in Water's show Death of a Judge in 2003.  Shira completed her second feature film, Welcome To Me, starring Kristen Wiig in 2015. Her first feature Fully Loaded won the audience favorite feature award at Palm Beach International Film Festival as well as best feature at both The River's Edge International and Carmel Art and Film Festivals. It was also featured at the Boston, San Luis Obispo, Talking Pictures and Newport Beach film festivals and released by Starz. She also directed a short documentary The Beast and The Angel that premiered at the Lincoln Center Film Society and aired on PBS.

MICHAEL SHANNON (The Detective) is a founding member of A Red Orchid Theatre. He directed the world premiere of Traitor by Brett Neveu earlier this year and made his directing debut here with Ionesco’s Hunger and Thirst. He has been seen on stage at A Red Orchid in Pilgrim’s Progress, Simpatico, Mistakes Were Made, Gagarin Way, Mr. Kolpert, BUG, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Killer, The Persecution of Arnold Petch, Canus Lunis Balloonis, Victims of Duty, and Drinking in America. Elsewhere around Chicago, he has worked at Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Northlight, Famous Door (RIP), and the Next Lab, birthplace of Killer Joe, in which he originated the role of Chris Smith and performed it a gillion times all over God's green earth. Mike currently lives in NYC where he Performed in Ionesco's The Killer with Theatre for a New Audience and made his Broadway debut in Grace at the Cort Theatre. He also played Astrov in Annie Baker's adaptation of Uncle Vanya at Soho Rep, directed by Sam Gold.  Film credits include Groundhog Day, Chicago Cab, The Ride, Jesus' Son, Cecil B. Demented, Tigerland, Pearl Harbor, 8 Mile, Bad Boys II, Kangaroo Jack, Grand Theft Parsons, The Missing Person, Zamboni Man, Revolutionary Road, My Son My Son What Have Ye Done?, Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud, Machine Gun Preacher, Premium Rush, The Iceman, Man of Steel, 99 Homes, Free Held, Elvis & Nixon, The Shape of Water, Fahrenheit 451 and more. On TV: Boardwalk Empire, and the recent miniseries Waco. 

GUY VAN SWEARINGEN (Choubert) is founding Artistic Director and Ensemble Member of A Red Orchid Theatre where he has appeared in over a dozen productions, including Traitor, The Nether, Red Handed Otter, The Sea Horse (Jeff Nomination), Simpatico (Jeff Nomination) and the World Premiere of The Opponent (which was also produced at 59E59 in NYC).  Regional credits include Simpatico at the McCarter Theatre, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window at the Goodman Theatre, the World Premiere of Taking Care and a revival of The Time of Your Life at Steppenwolf (which transferred to Seattle Rep and A.C.T.) and Eleven Rooms of Proust (a Lookingglass/About Face/Goodman Theatre collaboration).  Other local theatres he’s appeared with include Defiant, Plasticene, Famous Door and Mary Arrchie.  Film credits include Captive State (2018 release), The Dilemma, The Merry Gentleman, Take Shelter, Public Enemies, The Weatherman, Ali, Janie Jones and The Unborn. TV credits include Chicago Fire (NBC), Boss (STARZ), Sirens (USA), Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC), Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (TNT), The Beast (A&E), Turks and Early Edition (CBS). 

KAREN ALDRIDGE (Madeleine) is a critically acclaimed theater artist consistently starring in productions at Chicago's most prestigious theaters such as The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Karen originated the role of "Mrs. Phelps" in Matilda on Broadway.  She also toured around the world in Le Costume with the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord. Karen has been nominated for two Joseph Jefferson Awards.  On television, Karen has appeared in a recurring role as "Dr. Kendra" on NBC's CHICAGO FIRE and as "Dr. Ella Harris" in the Golden Globe winning series BOSS.  Other television & film credits include CBS' Blue Bloods, CBS' Unforgettable and Ron Howard's THE DILEMMA.  

RICH COTOVSKY (Nicolas D’eu) directed the very first show at A Red Orchid Theatre in 1993.  He was the founder and Artistic Director of Mary Arrchie Theatre Company for all of it’s 30 years.  Cotovsky has performed in or directed more than 50 productions at Mary-Arrchie and other theaters, along with the occasional film, television, and commercial gig. Among his favorites: a record-setting run as the Hellcab cabbie and the role of Arthur in Mary-Arrchie's 2012 production of Tracy Letts's Superior Donuts, which he workshopped and understudied at Steppenwolf.  Though Rich and Guy and Mike have collaborated many times, this is the first time they will share the stage outside of the occasional late-night talk show at Mary Arrchie’s Abby Hoffman Died for our Sins festival.

MIERKA GIRTEN (The Lady) is an ensemble member at A Red Orchid, where she has been seen in over thirteen productions, including The Room, The Mutilated, Simpatico, Red Handed Otter, Mud Blue Sky and Abigail’s Party among others. Mierka was honored to reprise her role in Simpatico last fall with A Red Orchid at The McCarter Center in Princeton NJ.   She played Maria Callas in Master Class at The Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton Ohio.  Additionally, she has worked with The Hypocrites, Rivendell Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Cobalt Ensemble, Apple Tree, Provision, Strawdog, Circle Theatre, American Blues, Mary-Arrchie, Live Bait, Roadworks, Steppenwolf and The Goodman. She played Esther in Mistakes Were Made both here at A Red Orchid and in the Off-Broadway Barrow Street Theatre production with friend Mike Shannon. Her voice can be heard on national broadcast and web commercials.

DANILA KOROGODSKY (Production Designer) is a director and stage designer. He is the Artistic Director of Pokoleniy Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia and serves as the head of set design at California State University, Long Beach.  Born into a theatrical family, his father Zinovy Korogodsky, a Stanislavsky prize winner, was one of the most important directors and theater pedagogues in Soviet Union. His mother, Liah Danilina, was a playwright. Danila grew up and was educated in the Soviet Union. He graduated from Leningrad Theater Academy in 1977 as a stage and costume designer, and after graduation worked as a resident designer at the Leningrad TYS (Theater for Young Spectators) - a premier company for young audiences in the Soviet Union. During that time he also worked as a freelance designer for theaters around the country designing more than 80 productions for various companies such as Baku Youth Theater, Tallin Drama Theater, Leningrad Comedy Theater, Novy Drama Theater, Mossoviet Theater, Ilkhom Theater, and Tashkent. In 1989 he was invited to design a show at Honolulu Theater for Youth. Since then he has worked in the United States as a stage designer and design professor. He designed more than 250 productions in the United States and around the world. He also started designing for the opera, and has worked with Chicago Lyric Opera, Opera Bielefeld and Opera Dessau in Germany, Opera Nantes in France, The Spoleto Festival and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. Other theatrical design work has been with NYC Japan Society, A Noise Within, Actors Gang, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Minneapolis Children Company, ACT, Wheelock Theater, and more.  At Pokoleniy Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has directed Without Lear based on King Lear by Shakespeare, Far Away on Lake Tchad, The Table, Peter-Burg, Songs of Love and Death, The Light Bulb all conceived and developed by the company, which were well received by the Russian and international press. He developed a project based on a play by Maxim Gorky The Summer Folks, which opened in Theater Pokoleniy in October 2012.

Previews: July 11-14, 2018
Wednesday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m.
hursday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 14 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Press Performances: Saturday, July 14 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Opening:Sunday, July 15 at 7:00 p.m. 

Regular Run:
July 17 – August 5, 2018           
Tuesday, July 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 21 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 22 at 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 29 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, August 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 4 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 5 at 3:00 p.m.

Tuesdays:7:30 p.m. (July 17 & 31)
Wednesdays: 7:30 p.m. (July 11 & 25)
Thursdays: 7:30 p.m. (July 12, 19 & 26)
Fridays: 7:30 p.m. (July 13 & 20 and August 3)
Saturdays: 3:00 p.m. (July 21 & 28 and August 4)
and 7:30p.m. (July 14, 21 & 28 and August 4)
3:00 p.m. (July 22, 29 and August 5)

Location: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells Ave.
Tickets: $50
Box Office: Located at 1531 N. Wells Ave, Chicago, (312) 943-8722; or online

Concluding our 25th season of ambitious and powerful storytelling, we continue to champion A Red Orchid Theatre’s Red League, which is a gift $1k or more, and the Founders Circle, which is a gift of $5k or more annually for a three-year pledge. These donors represent a community of our most committed and impactful cultural investors. Every profound and shocking moment on our stage is made possible through their critical annual contributions. Their philanthropic leadership fosters the development of raw and relevant work, creates a platform for our talented ensemble to reach new audiences, and ensures that A Red Orchid Theatre remains a source for honest, compassionate, and aesthetically rigorous theatre.

About A Red Orchid
A Red Orchid Theatre has served as an artistic focal point in the heart of the Old Town community of Chicago since 1993 and was honored with a 2016 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Over the past 25 years, its Resident Ensemble has welcomed into its fold an impressive array of award-winning theatre artists with the firm belief that live theatre is the greatest sustenance for the human spirit. A Red Orchid is well known and highly acclaimed for its fearless approach to performance and design in the service of unflinchingly intimate stories. In addition to its professional season, the company is also committed to a Youth Project and hosts The Incubator (providing artists with space and time to explore new work, new forms and new artistic collaborations).

A Red Orchid Theatre is: Lance Baker, Kamal Angelo Bolden, Dado, Mike Durst, Jennifer Engstrom, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Joseph Fosco, Steve Haggard, Mierka Girten, Larry Grimm, Karen Kawa, Karen Kessler, Danny McCarthy, Shade Murray, Brett Neveu, Michael Shannon, Guy Van Swearingen, Doug Vickers and Natalie West.

Monday, May 28, 2018

OPENING: World Premiere of BURNHAM’S DREAM: THE WHITE CITY Via Lost and Found Productions at Theater Wit June 2 – July 1, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Lost and Found Productions Presents the 
World Premiere of
Book and Lyrics by June Finfer
Music and Lyrics by Elizabeth Doyle 
Directed by Erik Wagner 
Music Direction by Paul W. Thompson
Choreography by Jessica Texidor 
June 2 – July 1, 2018 at Theater Wit

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we're eager to catch Lost and Found Productions' World Premiere of BURNHAM’S DREAM: THE WHITE CITY. Chicago wouldn't be the city it is today without the legendary architect, so we're ready to geek out on some architectural history in musical form, and enjoy this slice of Chicago's past. I'll be ChiILin' at Chi, IL's Theater Wit for the press opening June 5th, so check back soon for my full review.

The story of visionary architect Daniel H. Burnham and Chicago’s great World’s Fair comes to life in Lost and Found Productions’ world premiere musical BURNHAM’S DREAM: THE WHITE CITY, with book and lyrics by June Finfer, music and lyrics by Elizabeth Doyle, direction by Erik Wagner, music direction by Paul W. Thompson and choreography by Jessica Texidor. Celebrating the 125th anniversary of the 1893 World’s Fair, this lively new musical will play June 2 – July 1, 2018 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at, by calling (773) 975-8150, or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office. 

BURNHAM’S DREAM: THE WHITE CITY will feature Pavi Proczko as Daniel Burnham, Sam Massey as John Root, Laura Degrenia as Margaret Burnham, Genevieve Thiers as Bertha Palmer, Daniel Leahy as Louis Sullivan, Chase Wheaton-Werle as Michael O’Malley, Arielle Leverett as Ida B. Wells, Michael Kingston as Lyman Gage and Stein, Rob Brady as Richard Hunt and Harlow Higinbotham and Jacob Fjare as Bobbie and Patrick.

When Chicago wins its bid to host a great World’s Fair to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World, ambitious architect Daniel Burnham fights to win the job of building it.  But challenged by time, fate and Louis Sullivan, he’s forced to confront immigrants, women, and African-Americans who fight to be included in the Fair. Business leaders, workers and architects face looming deadlines to welcome millions of visitors to the Columbian Exposition. This new musical traces Burnham’s journey from an ambitious promoter to a visionary urban designer who would later direct the master plan for the future of Chicago’s development.

About Daniel H. Burnham
Daniel Burnham was eight when his family moved to Chicago from a failed farm in New York. The city of Chicago was 18 years old. He and the city grew up together. In 1871, after the Great Fire destroyed most of the center of the city, young Burnham told his mother he wanted to help rebuild it and “be the greatest architect in the world.” Failing college entrance exams, he tried other roads – unsuccessfully mining for silver in Nevada, and losing a bid for public office there. Returning to Chicago, he landed a job as a draftsman in an architect’s office, where he met brilliant architect and engineer John Root. The two became partners, and after ten years became the busiest architectural firm in the city, building the tallest skyscrapers and largest mansions. Inspired by his work planning the Fair, Burnham went on to direct the 1909 Plan of Chicago.

BURNHAM’S DREAM: THE WHITE CITY is endorsed by the State of Illinois Bi-Centennial Committee. 

The production team for BURNHAM’S DREAM: THE WHITE CITY includes: José Manuel Díaz-Soto (scenic designer), Alaina Moore (costume designer), Joseph A. Burke (lighting and projection designer), Tim McNulty (sound designer), Christina Casano (assistant director), Andy Lynn (production manager), Endia Brown-Bey (assistant costume designer), Erin Pleake (assistant lighting and projection designer), Nikki Marquardt (stage manager) and Molly Gloeckner (assistant stage manager).

Cast (in alphabetical order): Rob Brady (Richard Hunt, Harlow Higinbotham), Laura Degrenia (Margaret Burnham), Jacob Fjare (Bobbie, Patrick), Michael Kingston (Lyman Gage, Stein), Daniel Leahy (Louis Sullivan), Arielle Leverett (Ida B. Wells), Genevieve Thiers (Bertha Palmer), Sam Massey (John Root), Pavi Proczko (Daniel Burnham) and Chase Wheaton-Werle (Michael O’Malley).

Musicians: Annabelle Revak (conductor/pianist).

Location: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.
Dates: Previews: Saturday, June 2 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, June 3 at 3 pm and Monday, June 4 at 7 pm

Regular run: Thursday, June 7 – Sunday, July 1, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm
Tickets: Previews $30. Regular run $42. Students & seniors $37 ($25 previews). Discounts available for groups of 10 or more.
Tickets are currently available at, by calling (773) 975-8150, or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office.

About the Creative Team:
June Finfer (Book, Lyrics) is a Chicago playwright and documentary filmmaker, president of Lost and Found Productions. Her play about Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, The Glass House, premiered in New York City’s Theatre Row, starring Harold Uhlin. Her adaptation of a novel by Shirley Jackson featuring Estelle Parsons was directed for American Playhouse by Joanne Woodward. She has written and produced numerous documentaries about architecture, which are distributed throughout the world. Her screenplay, Jersey Justice: The Trenton Six, was a Finalist in the 2017 Big Break Final Draft Screenplay Competition. She holds a B.A. in Theater from Northwestern University and a M.A. in Literature from the University of Chicago, as well as graduate studies in photography and film at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America, East. 

Elizabeth Doyle (Music, Lyrics) is a singer, pianist, composer and music director. She has written music for several musicals, including Sleepy Hollow, which has had multiple productions in the Midwest and California and was featured in the Los Angeles' Disney/ASCAP workshop; along with Duo, Fat Tuesday, Alice in Analysis and The Virginian. She was a featured guest on legendary Marian McPartland's National Pubic Radio Show, Piano Jazz, and the magnet for many years at Chicago's famed Pump Room, Swiss Hotel, Drake Hotel, Palmer House and Fairmont Metropole. She has performed in two ASCAP new music showcases in New York, and had her material featured in the Chicago Humanities Festival, at Park West, Drury Lane Water Tower, Bailiwick, Maxim’s, Victory Gardens and in a Preston Bradley program honoring Chicago songwriters. Her original songs have been featured on BBC Radio, at U.S. theaters, museums and art centers as well as at the first Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion in Paris last September. 

Erik Wagner (Director) is an Adjunct Professor at Elmhurst College, recently directing The Burnt Part Boys and Thark. Other recent productions include a piece he created with Shakespeare All-Stars, Shakespeare’s Revisionist Historie, as well as God of Carnage, 24 Words, Xanadu, Jane Eyre, Kimberly Akimbo, A Year with Frog and Toad, Shakespeare’s R & J, Next Fall and Orpheus Descending. He earned his MFA in Theatre Directing from Western Illinois University. 

Paul W. Thompson (Music Director): For the past 35 years, MD for shows like My One and Only (Bucks County Playhouse), Kiss Me Kate (Naples Dinner Theatre) and Rent (Dominican University); MD and Ensemble Member: The Improvised Sondheim Project (Chicago, Cincinnati and NYC). Actor: Forever Plaid at the Royal George Theatre, 20 productions with Light Opera Works. Singer: 23 seasons with the Grammy-winning Chicago Symphony Chorus, 27 years at St. James Cathedral. Teacher: music improv at The Second City, piano at the Des Plaines School of Music, voice at Chicago’s Fine Arts Building (current President, Chicago chapter, National Association of Teachers of Singing). Writer: co-author of a musical version of The Great Gatsby, Editor of BroadwayWorld Chicago for 8 years (authored the weekly column, The Showtune Mosh Pit). Degrees: musical theatre from Baylor University (BFA) and University of Miami (MM). Member, AEA, AGMA. 

Jessica Texidor (Choreographer) works in Chicagoland theatre and theatre education with several companies in many capacities. For Artreach/Spotlighttheatrix, Jessica is an associate producer and instructor, with American Eagle Productions she serves as choreographer, instructor and performer. Jessica has been a teaching artist for Raven Theatre, resident choreographer for The Round Barn Theatre, director and choreographer for Princess Cruise Lines Alaska with Little Pyramid Productions, and has performed in musicals throughout the country. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Loyola University. 

About Lost and Found Productions
Lost and Found Productions creates thought provoking films and plays about the arts, including architecture for a wide audience, especially the work of Chicago area visionaries like Mies van der Rohe and Daniel Burnham. Lost and Found Productions is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, charitable organization. June Finfer is President and Executive Producer. For additional information, visit or 

OPENING: THE REVOLUTIONISTS & TIRESIAS WAS A WEATHERMAN Via Organic Theater Company of Chicago at the Greenhouse Theater Center

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:



Organic Theater Company of Chicago returns to the Greenhouse Theater Center for its 2018 summer repertory season, May 29 - July 8. The Organic is committed to staging bold, relevant productions of classic, contemporary, and adapted works with a permanent group of artists over a sustained period of time.

This summer we continue our focus on women and present the works of two female playwrights. With THE REVOLUTIONISTS, we carry on telling more amazing stories of women from history that we started last summer with Lauren Gunderson’s EMILIE. This time the show features an all-female cast, and brings together four inspirational and (mostly) historical women in a modern, girl-powered perspective on the French Revolution. Jaime Mire’s new comedy TIRESIAS WAS A WEATHERMAN deals with timely issues of today such as mental health, pharmaceuticals, predatory media, and extreme weather, in a world where a minimal scientific alteration to your brain could potentially save both you and the world. Or at least that’s what they say …

THE REVOLUTIONISTS, a fast-paced, comedic quartet by 2017’s most produced playwright, follows four very real women who lived boldly in France during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Former queen Marie Antoinette, playwright Olympe de Gouges, Jean-Paul Marat’s assassin Charlotte Corday, and Haitian rebel spy Marianne Angelle collide in this true story, total fiction, and play about a play. Join us for this passionate, poignant and decisive call to action through the true (and sometimes not) stories of these four extraordinary women.

Company member Bryan Wakefield, who directed Gunderson’s EMILIE last year, directs the Chicago premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s thrilling and moving new play.  Familiar faces in the cast include Organic company members and former EMILIE cast members Sara Copeland as Charlotte Corday, and Laura Sturm as Marie Antoinette. Stephanie Sullivan, as playwright Olympe de Gouges, returns after making her Organic debut in last year’s PHANTOM PAIN. We are excited to welcome Taylor Raye as Marianne Angelle to the Organic team this summer.

TIRESIAS WAS A WEATHERMAN is a world premiere comedy about serious stuff. In this kinda-sorta adaptation of Sophocles’ classic ANTIGONE, playwright Jaime Mire imagines a world, parallel to our own, where human emotions have a direct connection to the weather. These events occasionally result in immediate and disastrous meteorological events. In a time when not taking your medication can lead to weather disaster (or can it?), would you consider implanting a microchip into your brain to help control these threatening emotions for public safety purposes?  How far are we willing to go to stay dry? Grab your umbrellas for this off-beat and touching comedy about family, mental health, and the weather.

Directed by company member Josh Anderson, TIRESIAS features company members Sara Copeland, Colin Jackson, Joel Moses, Laura Sturm, and artistic associate Adam Zaininger, all of whom appeared in last summer’s KING UBU, plus company member Will Burdin rejoins us after a summer off, having been seen with Organic most recently in the 2016 summer season in THE GOOD DOCTOR and OUT OF THE BLUE.  We welcome back Nyssa Loewenstein from our most recent production, WHY DO YOU ALWAYS WEAR BLACK? and John Arthur Lewis from last summer’s EMILIE.  Newcomers to the Organic stage are Shaina Schrooten and Taylor Raye (also appearing in THE REVOLUTIONISTS).


By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Bryan Wakefield

OPENS: Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 7:30 PM
DATES: May 29 – July 8, 2018
TIMES: Wednesdays – Saturdays at 7:30 PM & Saturdays/Sundays at 2:30 PM
VENUE: The Greenhouse Theater Center – 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue
NOTE: Plays in repertory with TIRESIAS WAS A WEATHERMAN, see list of specific dates below

The Cast:
Olympe de Gouges – Stephanie Sullivan
Marianne Angelle – Taylor Raye
Charlotte Corday – Sara Copeland
Marie Antoinette – Laura Sturm

The Production Team:
Playwright – Lauren Gunderson; Director – Bryan Wakefield; Assistant Director – Julia Rufo; Stage Manager – Angela Kring; Costume Co-Designer – Jeremy W. Floyd; Costume Co-Designer – Morgan Saaf-White; Sound Designer – Tony Reimer; Scenic Designer – Terrance McClellan; Lighting Designer – Theresa Kelly; Properties Designer – Brandyn Nordlof


By Jaime Mire
Directed by Josh Anderson

OPENS: Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 7:30 PM
DATES: May 31 – July 6, 2018
TIMES: Wednesdays – Saturdays at 7:30 PM & Saturdays/Sundays at 2:30 PM
VENUE: The Greenhouse Theater Center – 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue
NOTE: Plays in repertory with THE REVOLUTIONISTS, see list of specific dates below

The Cast:
Sara Copeland, Jack Lewis, Shaina Schrooten, Taylor Raye, Laura Sturm, Nyssa Lowenstein, Will Burdin, Colin Jackson, Joel Moses, Adam Zaininger

The Production Team:
Playwright – Jaime Mire; Director – Josh Anderson; Associate Director – Anna Gelman;
Stage Manager – Angela Kring; Costume Designer – Jeremy W. Floyd; Sound Designer – Tony Reimer; Scenic Designer – Terrance McClellan; Lighting Designer – Theresa Kelly; Properties Designer – Brandyn Nordlof

 Purchase tickets online at or by calling the Greenhouse at
773-404-7336. Admission is $25 (Adults).

OPENING: THE LARAMIE PROJECT Via AstonRep Theatre Company at The Raven Theatre June 7 – July 8, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

AstonRep Theatre Company Presents
By Moisés Kaufman & the Members of Tectonic Theater Project
 Directed by Associate Artistic Director Derek Bertelsen 
June 7 – July 8, 2018 at The Raven Theatre

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we caught The Laramie Project at Red Twist Theatre several years ago and it's a powerful script that packs a punch. In these times of eroding human rights and protections for society's vulnerable, just as hate crimes are ramping up, this story is one that needs to be seen and heard again and again. Kudos to AstonRep for tackling this topic and keeping this vital production in the public eye.  

AstonRep Theatre Company is pleased to conclude its 2017-18 season with THE LARAMIE PROJECT, a community's deeply-moving response to the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, written by Moisés Kaufman and the Members of Tectonic Theater Project and directed by Associate Artistic Director Derek Bertelsen. THE LARAMIE PROJECT will play June 7 – July 8, 2018 at The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (773) 828-9129. 

THE LARAMIE PROJECT features an ensemble cast including Dana Anderson*, Alexandra Bennett*, Liz Cloud, Rob Frankel, Matthew Harris*, Roberto Jay, Amy Kasper*, Ray Kasper*, Erin O’Brien, Sara Pavlak McGuire*, Peter Surma and Chelsea Turner.

THE LARAMIE PROJECT presents a deeply complex portrait of a community’s response to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man living in Laramie, Wyoming. In a series of poignant reflections, the residents of Laramie react to the hate crime and surrounding media storm with anger, bewilderment and sorrow. The play portrays the seismic and deeply personal impact Matthew’s death had on this small town while also demonstrating the power of the human spirit to triumph over bigotry and violence. As we near the twentieth anniversary, Matthew Shepard’s story still reverberates, urging us on with its clarion call to confront the destructive power of bullying and hate, in all forms.

The production team for THE LARAMIE PROJECT includes Jeremiah Barr* (scenic design, props design, technical director), Uriel Gomez (costume design), Samantha Barr* (lighting design, production manager), Robert Tobin* (sound design), Krista Hansen (dialect coach), Aja Wiltshire* (music director), Sara Pavlak McGuire* (assistant director), Dana Anderson* (assistant director, dramaturg), Melanie Thompson (assistant production manager) and Kendal Romero (stage manager).

*Denotes AstonRep Company Members.

Location: The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago
Dates: Preview: Thursday, June 7 and Friday, June 8 at 8 pm
Press performance: Saturday, June 9 at 8 pm
Regular run: Sunday, June 10 – Sunday, July 8, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3:30 pm
Tickets: Previews: $12; Regular run: $25. Student/seniors $15. Tickets go on sale at or by calling (773) 828-9129.

About the Director

Derek Bertelsen (Director) currently serves as Associate Artistic Director for AstonRep Theatre Company. Previous directing credits with AstonRep include Eleemosynary (co-director with Jeremiah Barr), The Black Slot, The Lyons, Lieutenant of Inishmore, Wit, Next Fall and Doubt. Other Chicago directing credits include Prelude To A Kiss, Mary-Kate Olsen Is In Love (The Comrades, where is serves as Artistic Director), Design for Living, The Children’s Hour (Pride Films & Plays), God of Carnage, The Dinner Party (BrightSide Theater). Regional credits include Brighton Beach Memoirs (Festival 56), The Wizard of Oz (Shawnee Summer Theater), and five seasons at Timber Lake Playhouse including Rumors, Boeing-Boeing, and Monty Python’s Spamalot. Assistant directing credits include RACE (Goodman), Angry Fags (Steppenwolf Garage), and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Bailiwick Chicago).

About AstonRep Theatre Company:
AstonRep Theatre Company was formed in the summer of 2008. Since then, the company has produced 21 full-length productions and nine annual Writers’ Series. AstonRep Theatre Company is an ensemble of artists committed to creating exciting, intimate theatrical experiences that go beyond the front door to challenge audiences and spark discussion where the show is not the end of the experience: it is just the beginning.

RETURNING THIS SUMMER WITH ALL NEW EPISODES: THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2 Via Hell in a Handbag Productions at Mary’s Attic

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Ready to go to Hell in a Handbag this summer...

Hell in a Handbag Productions Presents 
THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2
By Artistic Director David Cerda
Directed by Becca Holloway
June 19 – September 7, 2018 at Mary’s Attic

(left to right) Ed Jones, David Cerda, Adrian Hadlock and Grant Drager in a publicity image for Hell in a Handbag Productions’ parody THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2. All Photos by Rick Aguilar Studios.

This summer, Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to bring back Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia for THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2. Following last year’s sold-out, seven-month run, Handbag’s parody of the beloved TV sitcom returns with all new adventures written by Artistic Director David Cerda* and directed by Becca Holloway. THE GOLDEN GIRLS will play June 19 – September 7, 2018 at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St. in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Tickets are now on sale or by calling (800) 838-3006. The press opening is Friday, June 22 at 7:30 pm.

The 2017 cast returns with David Cerda* as Dorothy, Grant Drager* as Blanche, Adrian Hadlock* as Sophia and Ed Jones* as Rose with Chazie Bly*, Michael Rashid and Michael S. Miller* as various silly characters.

When THE GOLDEN GIRLS – THE LOST EPISODES debuted in June 2017, it was supposed to be a short summer treat for Handbag audiences, but quickly turned into one of the biggest hits in the company’s history. Now, these lovely women from the classic TV sitcom return with new stories of friendship, love and cheesecake – all with the Handbag twist audiences have come to love!

The all new episodes include Machiavellian mayhem when Dorothy, Rose and Blanche are all nominated for Women of the Year by the Miami Women’s Auxiliary League; Sophia’s mysterious part-time job; and a deep dark secret from Rose’s past that shocks the girls to their core!

The production team for THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2 includes: Roger Wykes (scenic design), David Cerda* (costume design), Cat Wilson* (lighting design), Isaac Mandel (sound design), Keith Ryan* (wig design), Adrian Hadlock* (props design), Lana Whittington (violence coordinator), AJ Wright* (production manager) and Amanda Kay Wyatt (stage manager).

*Denotes Handbag ensemble member.

Location: Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Tuesday, June 19 at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, June 20 at 7:30 pm and Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 pm. 
Opening/Press performance: Friday, June 22, 2018, 7:30 pm
Regular run: Wednesday June 27 – Friday, September 7, 2018 
Curtain Times: Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays at 7:30 pm through August 10, 2018; Fridays at 7:30 pm August 17 – September 7, 2018. Please note: there will not be performances on Wednesday, July 4 at 7:30 pm or Friday, July 6 at 7:30 pm.
Tickets: Previews $19. Regular run $25 in advance, $27 at the door. Group rates $20 for 10 or more. Tickets are currently on sale at or by calling (800) 838-3006. 

About the Artists

David Cerda (Playwright) is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Hell in a Handbag Productions. Cerda has written or collaborated on POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical, Caged Dames, Sexy Baby, Lady X: The Musical, Christmas Dearest, Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, SCARRIE-The Musical, and many others. He has also worked as a songwriter with Amazon Studios and as an actor around Chicago. In 2016 Cerda was in inducted into the Chicago GLBT Hall of Fame and in 2017 he received a Lifetime Achievement Jeff Award for his contributions to the Chicago theater community and philanthropic efforts. He is most definitely a Dorothy. 

Becca Holloway (Director) is thrilled to be back with Hell in a Handbag for her 5th production with them, after working on Bewildered, L'imitation of Life, and directing Rudolph (2017) and Bette: Xmas at the Continental Baths. Other directing credits include, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents (Oil Lamp Theater), Cut to the Chase Festival (Artistic Home) and The RBP's 13th Birthday Party Showcase (Right Brain Project). Becca has been lucky enough to have worked with Broken Nose, Brown Paper Box Co., The Comrades, Refuge Theatre Project, and Big Noise Theater. Oh and in case you're wondering, she's a Dorothy.

About Hell in a Handbag Productions

Hell in a Handbag is dedicated to the preservation, exploration, and celebration of works ingrained in the realm of popular culture via theatrical productions through parody, music and homage. Handbag is a 501(c)(3) Not for Profit.

OPENING: THE OPPORTUNITIES OF EXTINCTION Via Broken Nose Theatre at The Den Theatre June 1 – 30, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

 Broken Nose Theatre Presents
A New Play by Sam Chanse
Directed by Company Member Jen Poulin
June 1 – 30, 2018 at The Den Theatre

Broken Nose Theatre, recipient of the 2018 Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theatre Award, is pleased to continue its 2018 Season with Sam Chanse’s contemplative new drama THE OPPORTUNITIES OF EXTINCTION, directed by company member Jen Poulin*, playing June 1 – 30, 2018 at The Den Theatre (2A), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. 

ChiIL Live Shows will be ChiILin' at Chi, IL's Den Theatre on June 4, for Broken Nose Theatre's press opening of THE OPPORTUNITIES OF EXTINCTION. Check back soon for my full review. 

Tickets are currently available at 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. 

THE OPPORTUNITIES OF EXTINCTION will feature company member Echaka Agba* and artistic associate Aria Szalai-Raymond+ with Richard Costes.

While taking refuge from a social media firestorm on a last-minute camping trip, Mel and Arjun encounter Georgia, a solitary young woman studying the impact of climate change on the imperiled Joshua Tree. At the crossroads of creation and obliteration, lovers and strangers in the Mojave Desert explore what it means to survive in a relationship – and a world – on the brink of extinction.

“We are living in turbulent and uncertain times, not only as a country but on a global scale, and even as individuals,” comments Artistic Director Benjamin Brownson. “When the whole world seems ready to burn, how do you connect with strangers, lovers and your fellow human beings? In a time when we have a President tweeting nuclear threats and teenagers building mass movements via Facebook, will social media destroy the planet or save us all? How do we stay focused on love, family and the ties that bind us to one another when our success, our security, our very survival as a species is under threat by a whole host of forces seemingly out of our control? Opportunities of Extinction explores these and other questions without offering any easy answers, and we couldn't be more pleased with the stellar cast and team who will be bringing this world premiere production to life.”

The production team for THE OPPORTUNITIES OF EXTINCTION includes: Devon Green+ (scenic and props design), Martin Hanna* (costume design), Cat Davis (lighting design), Eric Backus (original music and sound design), Therese Ritchie (asst. scenic and props design), David Weiss* (dramaturg), Rose Hamill* (production manager) and Jackie Marschke (stage manager).

* Denotes BNT company member
+ Denotes BNT artistic associate

Location: The Den Theatre (2A), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago
Dates: Previews: Friday, June 1 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, June 2 at 7:30 pm
Opening: Sunday, June 3 at 3 pm

Regular Run: Thursday, June 7 – Saturday, June 30, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm
Industry Night: Monday, June 11 at 7:30 pm
Understudy Night: Wednesday, June 20 at 7:30 pm
Tickets: Pay-what-you-can. Tickets are currently available at 

About the Artists

Sam Chanse’s (Playwright) 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) is a director and dramaturg based in Chicago. She serves as Development Director for Broken Nose Theatre, and artistic associate at No Stakes Theater Project. Recent directing credits include Gidion’s Knot (Habakkuk Theatre), Faith in a Fallen World, Above the Ceiling, (readings, Chicago Dramatists), What of the Night? (AD, Stage Left Theatre), The You You Hear, Yet To Be (Bechdel Fest, Broken Nose Theatre) and Fragile Filigree Love (The Future is Female festival). Jen has worn many hats since receiving her Theatre Studies BFA from University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign: educator, box-office assistant, blood mopper, script mistress, producer and performer.

About Broken Nose Theatre

Broken Nose Theatre is a Pay-What-You-Can theatre company. Founded in 2012, BNT has produced and developed 11 full-length plays (including 8 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

OPENING: World Premiere of The Displaced Via Haven Theatre at The Den Theatre

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Haven Theatre Present the World Premiere of
By Isaac Gomez
Directed by Jo Cattell
May 31 – July 1, 2018 at The Den Theatre

Haven Theatre is pleased to conclude its 2017-18 Season with the world premiere of THE DISPLACED, an electrifying thriller exploring the heartbreak of gentrification and the scars we leave on each other. Written by Isaac Gomez and directed by Jo Cattell, THE DISPLACED will play May 31 – July 1, 2018 at The Den Theatre's Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets go on sale shortly at

THE DISPLACED features Rashaad Hall and Karen Rodriguez.

Marísa and Lev have just moved into their new Pilsen apartment in hopes of rekindling a spark that’s long been extinguished. While looking for the circuit breaker in the attic, a mysterious coconut appears, leftover from the previous tenants with a dark history inside it. The Displaced explores the wake of pain and yearning left behind when gentrification forces people out of their homes and the kind of vengeance that can come from it.

Comments Haven Artistic Director Josh Sobel, "The best horror stories, in my view, always have something deeper to say about the world we live in – a warped-mirror reflection of the reality we so often choose to ignore, an attempt to shock us into seeing. This is so much of the power and potency of Isaac Gomez's electrifying new play, The Displaced – a thriller with its heart anchored in the devastating cost of gentrification that is happening even right now in our very own city. Isaac's voice first blew me away in 2016 with his utterly riveting and ravaging The Way She Spoke, and it became immediately clear that this is someone whose point of view I dearly wanted at Haven Theatre. It is a privilege to make that dream a reality with Isaac's stunning world premiere."

The production team for THE DISPLACED includes Arnel Sancianco (scenic design), Christine Pascual (costume design), Erik Barry (lighting design), Sarah D. Espinoza (sound design), Emily Boyd (props design), Rachel Flesher (intimacy/fight/rigging design), Marika Mashburn (casting director), Rebecca Adelsheim (dramaturg), David Moreland (technical director) and MJ Dougherty (stage manager).

Location: The Den Theatre's Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Previews: Thursday, May 31 at 8 pm, Friday, June 1 at 8 pm, Saturday, June 2 at 8 pm and Tuesday, June 5 at 8 pm

Regular run: Thursday, June 7 – Sunday, March 11, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm.

Tickets: Previews: pay-what-you-can. Regular run $18. Tickets on sale at

Artist Biographies
Isaac Gomez (Playwright) is a playwright and dramaturg currently working as the Director of New Play Development at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago where he curates the Public Programs series, directs the new play development department and heads the IGNITION Festival of New Plays. As a playwright, he has worked with the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Victory Gardens Theater, Pivot Arts, American Theater Company, Chicago Dramatists, Teatro Vista, Definition Theater Company, Greenhouse Theater Center, Sideshow Theater Company, Broken Nose Theater and Something Marvelous. He is the Co-Creative Director at the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists in Chicago where he runs and is a participant of El Semillero: ALTA Chicago's Latinx Playwrights Circle, a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, an Ensemble Member with Teatro Vista, Artistic Associate with Pivot Arts, Artistic Curator for Theater on the Lake 2017/2018, a steering committee member of the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) and an artistic community member at The Hypocrites in Chicago. He is also a Professional Lecturer of Theater Studies at The Theatre School at DePaul University. 

Jo Cattell (Director) is currently creating An Epic Tale of Scale for Chicago Childrens’ Theatre, with Henry Wishcamper for performance in 2018. She is part of the LightPoets (along with dandypunk and Darin Basile), whose immersive theatre show, HEARTCORPS: Riders of the Storyboard premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and is currently in development for a full production. Recent credits: Associate Director on Shakespeare in Love (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Tumbao (Steppenwolf 1700 Theatre), Don Chipotle: Origin, a pilot webisode. Jo has worked with numerous theatre and television companies, including the BBC, Sky Television, Cirque du Soleil, Chicago the Musical (West End, Korean/Japanese Tour), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (West End), Stomp Out Loud (Las Vegas), Pentabus Theatre, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, Goodman Theatre, Route 66, Origin Theatre, Leviathan Lab and Culture Project. Jo was awarded the 3Arts Award for her work as a theatre maker in 2016.

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.

New CLUTCH Album "BOOK OF BAD DECISIONS" Coming September 7th


I've loved CLUTCH's unique sound and killer lyrics since the early 90's, before the internet and ChiIL Live Shows existed. In the intervening decades I've shot them from the photo pits at numerous live shows, and amassed a collection of their music and merch. I'm elated that they're all still alive, still together with original members, and still releasing new studio albums. Their 12th is coming this fall and I can't wait to check it out! 

Maryland rockers CLUTCH have announced Book of Bad Decisions as the title of their new studio album. 

Book of Bad Decisions, CLUTCH’s 12th studio album is scheduled for a worldwide release on September 7th, 2018 via their own Weathermaker Music label.  

The album was recorded at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN by producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather) and consists of 15 new tracks. 

“With Vance Powell as producer we were able to make a very different kind of an album.  The songs feel as if they could jump out of the speakers!” says drummer Jean-Paul Gaster.  Bassist Dan Maines seconds that when he says “Recording in Nashville with Vance Powell gave us a new and fresh approach towards making an album that truly captures the live energy of Clutch in a way I don’t think we’ve done before.”  Guitarist Tim Sult adds “Laying down guitar tracks with Vance was fun and inspiring.  Going through and trying out his and his engineer, Mike Fahey’s collection of vintage amps was one of my favorite recording studio experiences.  I think the outro solo of “Emily Dickinson” turned out particularly great.”  

The album cover was designed by renowned photographer Dan Winters.

Book Of Bad Decisions track listing:
1. Gimme the Keys
2. Spirit of ’76
3. Book of Bad Decisions
4. How to Shake Hands
5. In Walks Barbarella
6. Vision Quest
7. Weird Times
8. Emily Dickinson
9. Sonic Counselor
10. A Good Fire
11. Ghoul Wrangler
12. HB Is in Control
13. Hot Bottom Feeder 
14. Paper & Strife
15. Lorelei

The first single from Book of Bad Decisions, “Gimme the Keys” is out now. The accompanying lyric video below was created by David Brodsky:

The song is about the band's first tour back in 1991, a time where they began to cut their teeth in the live music business, dealt with show cancellations and incidents on the road. One particular show in a shed surrounded by cornfields in Lawrence, Kansas ultimately turned ugly over a missing microphone and accusations brought by drunk and gun-toting security people at the end of a long day. "Gimme the keys they can keep the guarantee | Gimme the keys and get the hell out of dodge" is a reflection of the mood of that night. 

Neil's Commentary on "Gimme the Keys":

All album formats (CD, 24-page book with CD, 2xLP Standard Black, Limited Colored 2xLP, and 2xLP Picture Disc) will have the same 15 tracks. In addition Weathermaker Music will release two very limited 7” Picture Discs.

Pre-order the new album Book of Bad Decisions at

This single is the first of four to be released over the next couple of months as an instant gratification track when pre-ordering the album at:

iTunes (  

“I’ve never been one for nostalgia,” says Neil Fallon, “I’ve always shied away from it.  But after 27 years of this, I realize that there is a wealth of stories to look back upon as lyrical fodder.  As the saying goes, ‘You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.’  Not all the songs reference our collective experience as a band, but ‘Book of Bad Decisions’ seemed like an apt name for these various chapters, whether factual, fictitious, or somewhere in-between.”

These are the songs the band had on cassette on their first tour. Nothing later than Summer '92.
Check it out here:

Neil Fallon - Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult - Guitar
Dan Maines - Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster - Drums/Percussion
For more  information, check out the band’s website:


Sunday, May 27, 2018

OPENING: Award Winning Hit HAYMARKET Returns Via Underscore Theatre Company and The Den Theatre June 13 – July 22, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Underscore Theatre Company and The Den Theatre 
Announce Casting for
Book and Lyrics and Music by Alex Higgin-Houser and David Kornfeld
Directed by Nick Thornton
Music Direction by Robert Ollis

June 13 – July 22, 2018 at The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we missed this critically acclaimed musical in 2016, so we're especially eager to catch Underscore Theatre and The Den Theatre's retooled remount! I'll be out for the press opening June 18th so check back soon for my full review. 

Underscore Theatre and The Den Theatre are pleased to announce casting for an all-new staging of the Jeff Award-nominated Best New Musical HAYMARKET (formerly Haymarket: The Anarchist’s Songbook), the true story of Chicago’s infamous Haymarket massacre. With book, music and lyrics by Alex Higgin-Houser and David Kornfeld, the actors accompany themselves to the stirring folk-infused score. Having spent the last two years workshopping the show, the authors alongside director Nick Thornton and music director Robert Ollis have crafted an all-new theatrical experience – creating new songs, overhauling the book, and like the union workers from the show, building anew.

HAYMARKET will feature Bridget Adams-King (Lucy Parsons), Erik Pearson (Albert Parsons), TJ Anderson (August Spies), Joey Harbert (Louis Lingg), Josiah Robinson (Adolph Fischer), Mike Mazzocca (George Engel), Sarah Beth Tanner (Mrs. Engel), Amanda Giles (Nina Van Zandt), Melanie Vitaterna (Joanna Fischer) and Kelan Smith, Eric Loughlin and Elleon Dobias (Pick Chorus).

Concluding Underscore’s 2017-18 season, HAYMARKET will play June 13 – July 22, 2018 at The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets go on sale Thursday, May 10 at or by calling (773) 697-3830. 

Based on historical events, HAYMARKET tells the dramatic story of labor unrest in Chicago, 1886, where striking workers clashed with a brutal police force, resulting in an act of terror, a corrupt trial and the death of five innocent men. Told by a cast of twelve actor-instrumentalists, HAYMARKET is a folk, bluegrass and Americana adventure, led by Lucy Parsons, the African American firebrand and wife of one of the accused anarchists.

“Underscore’s mission is to develop new musicals, and Haymarket is a perfect example of how a show can develop immensely after its initial run, building on the feedback from critics, audiences and artists” notes Co-Artistic Director Laura Stratford. “This is not a remount of our 2016 production. This is a brand-new experience, with a new team, a new cast and a new show. We’re thrilled to partner with the Den to bring this timely, enthralling story to Chicago.” 

The production team for HAYMARKET includes: Eric Luchen (scenic designer), Christina Leinicke (costume designer), Erik Barry (lighting designer), Brandon Reed (sound designer), Kate Cuellar (dramaturg), Jena Sugay (assistant director), Andy Lynn and Ellen White (co-production managers) Josh Prishing (technical director) and Kristin Davis (stage manager).

Cast (in alphabetical order): Bridget Adams-King (Lucy Parsons), TJ Anderson (August Spies), Elleon Dobias (Pick Chorus), Amanda Giles (Nina Van Zandt), Joey Harbert (Louis Lingg), Eric Loughlin (Pick Chorus), Mike Mazzocca (George Engel), Erik Pearson (Albert Parsons), Josiah Robinson (Adolph Fischer), Kelan Smith (Pick Chorus), Sarah Beth Tanner (Mrs. Engel) and Melanie Vitaterna (Joanna Fischer).

Location: The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Wednesday, June 13 at 7:30 pm, Friday, June 15 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, June 17 at 3 pm.
Press performance: Monday, June 18 at 7:30pm
Regular run: Friday, June 21 – Sunday, July 22 2018
Curtain Times: TBA.
Tickets now on sale at

Artist Biographies

Alex Higgin-Houser (Book and Lyrics) is a playwright, lyricist and director. Working with his frequent collaborators David Kornfeld, Laura Stratford and Brendan Siegfried, Alex has written six full-length musicals, including Haymarket (2016 Jeff Award Nomination for Best New Musical), The 57th National Mathlete Sum-it (2017 official NYMF selection, published by Theatrical Rights Worldwide in 2018), Grounds: a Fresh-Brewed Musical (2017 Actors Training Company workshop, 2010 Midwest tour), Spa Fire: The Children of the 1% (Abbiefest official selection, commissioned by Ex-Pat Theatricals), Pr0ne (Underscore world premiere 2013, CMTF workshop production 2015) and Liberal Arts: The Musical (Underscore world premiere 2012, collegiate premiere 2009). As Co-Artistic Director for Underscore, Alex co-founded the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, and has produced or co-produced 65 new musicals. In 2018, Alex will be attending NYU Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theatre MFA writing program.

David Kornfeld (Music) received his BA in composition from Carleton College and is currently pursuing his MFA in Musical Theatre Writing at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. His musicals include Haymarket: the Anarchist’s Songbook (Jeff Nominated – Best New Musical), Liberal Arts: the Musical!, Grounds: a Fresh-Brewed Musical, Pr0ne: a Hardcore, Amateur Musical and Numbers Nerds, which premiered this summer at NYMF. His Chicago collaborations include Loyola University, Open Door Rep, Li'l Buds Theatre Company, Theatre-Hikes, The Cabaret Project, Stone Soup, Chicago Mammals, CPA Theatricals, Whiskey Wry, weAre Productions, comedienne Brittny Congleton, the Hip Young Gunslingers Big Band and many more. He is a co-founder of Underscore Theatre.  

Nick Thornton (Director) is a freelance director, dramaturg and teaching artist, in addition to being the Literary Manager and Education Coordinator at the Greenhouse Theater Center (GTC). His upcoming projects include serving as the director/curator of Other Ways to Resist, a festival of new activist theater at North Central College, and movement director of Peter and the Starcather (North Central College). Recent Chicago credits include movement director and dramaturg of Birds of a Feather (GTC), director of Mudlark Theatre’s Short Play Festival, developmental dramaturg of Miss Major Cushman (GTC), co-movement and associate director of the Greenhouse Theater Center’s Machinal (named one of the 10 best shows of 2017 by the Chicago Tribune), puppetry director of The Making of a Modern Folk Hero (Other Theatre), developmental dramaturg/assistant director of I Do Today (Other Theatre) and director of The Parking Lot Discord (Peacebook/Collaboration). Nick also serves as a teaching artist at Pegasus Theatre, Mudlark Theater and Windy City Musical Theatre. Regional credits include authoring the book of The Conductor, a new musical comedy (Metallic Mannequin Company), director/lead devisor of Maundy (Metallic Mannequin Company), assistant director and dramaturg of Other Desert Cities and The Glass Menagerie (Farmer’s Alley Theatre) and director of the workshop premiere of Adam Pasen’s Badfic Love (Queer Theatre Kalamazoo). Nick is a proud graduate of Western Michigan University’s Department of Theatre as well as an alumnus of the DirectorsLabChicago. For more information on his work please visit 

Robert Ollis (Music Director) has worked with Underscore Theatre as the score and script of Haymarket has evolved. Robert is an Artistic Associate of Pride Films & Plays and served as Music Director for PFP’s productions of YANK! A WWII Love Story, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, The Nance, The Boy from OZ, Songs from an Unmade Bed, A History of Summer, The Book of Merman and Under A Rainbow Flag. He has also music-directed a number of Chicago Casting Auction productions, including The Addams Family, The Drowsy Chaperone, Anything Goes, Damn Yankees and others, as well as countless local theatre-benefit concerts. Robert received a Jeff Award for music direction of Kiss of the Spider Woman, plus Jeff nominations for five other shows. Robert has also served as Music Director for notable productions at Bailiwick Chicago and Bailiwick Repertory Theatre. Robert helped create Judy & Liza: The London Palladium Concert — a Tribute, now being presented around the country. Robert has accompanied performers Donna McKechnie, Capathia Jenkins, Andrea Marcovicci, Nancy Hays, Nick Adams and Alexandra Billings at cabaret and concert venues in New York City and Chicago.

About Underscore Theatre Company 

Founded in 2011, Underscore Theatre Company is a team of producing artists dedicated to exploring stories of power and resonance through a musical lens; fostering the development of new musicals; and bolstering Chicago’s role as a national leader in musical theatre. Since its creation, Underscore has produced or co-produced 65 new mainstage and workshop musicals in Chicago. Underscore is proud to be Chicago's home for new musicals.

About The Den Theatre

Artistic Director Ryan Martin opened The Den in 2010 with a single theatre space. Eight years later, The Den boasts five intimate and unique theaters on two floors ranging from 50 – 200 seats, as well as two additional spaces primarily used for classes and rehearsals. The Den is also equipped with two bars enveloped by a never-ending field of lounge space for audiences and like-minded culture hounds to drink, talk, read, watch, think, listen and live. The Den is home to five resident theatre companies including Firebrand Theatre, First Floor Theater, Haven Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre, The New Colony, Broken Nose Theatre and WildClaw Theatre. Hundreds of other companies from Chicago and beyond have also called The Den home, utilizing its theaters, studio space and easily convertible cabaret space to accommodate a stream of programming, including plays, musicals, film screenings, classical and jazz performances, dance, improv and stand-up, seminars and speaking engagements. For additional information, visit

Pictured: (clockwise from left) Sarah Beth Tanner, Eric Loughlin, Bridget Adams-King, Erik Pearson, Mike Mazzoca, Kelan Smith, T.J. Anderson, Elleon Dobias, Josiah Robinson, Melanie Vitaterna and Joey Harbert in a publicity image for Underscore Theatre Company and The Den Theatre's production of HAYMARKET. Photo by Juli Del Prete.

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