Wednesday, June 13, 2018

OPENING: US Premiere of “DON’T SMOKE IN BED” Via Chimera Ensemble at Collaboraction Studios June 15 - July 8, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Chimera Ensemble’s
US Premiere of
Created by 
Aurin Squire
Directed by Chika Ike

 “Eye-opening and troubling, DON’T SMOKE IN BED will force audiences to re-evaluate their understanding of modern society.” – Michelle Keepence, THE UPCCOMING

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we're eager to catch the US premiere. Chimera Ensemble is a favorite of ours, as is Chicago's own Chika Ike, directing. I'll be out for the press opening June 16th, so check back soon for my full review. 

Chimera Ensemble's US Premiere of DON’T SMOKE IN BED, written by award-winning playwright Aurin Squire, and directed by acclaimed director Chika Ike, will open to the press on Saturday, June 16. Kai A. Ealy, who earlier this year appeared in MARY STUART at Chicago Shakespeare and FRANKLINLAND for Jackalope Theatre company; and ensemble member Nicole Fabbri, seen in Chimera’s SISTER CITIES, will play an interracial couple being interviewed about their marriage by an unseen journalist via webcam. Director Ike comes to the project from her recent sellout hit DONTRELL, WHO KISSED THE SEA, by Nathan Alan Davis, produced by First Floor Theater. Ike’s other recent directing credits include Janine Nabers’s A SWELL IN THE GROUND (The Gift Theatre) and Lloyd Suh’s FRANKLINLAND (Jackalope Theatre Company).

Kai A. Ealy (left) and Nicole Fabbri

Ike’s production team includes Milo Bue (Scenic Designer), Stefanie Johnsen (Costume Designer), David Goodman-Edberg (Lighting Designer), Stephanie Slaven-Ruffing (Sound Designer), Warren Wernick (Properties Designer), Gaby Labotka (Intimacy Designer), Jake Engram (Technical Director), Jaime Gutfeldt (Production Manager), Devonte E. Washington (Stage Manager).

The production will go up June 15 - July 8 in The Pentagon Theater at Collaboraction Studios in The Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL 60622. There will be one preview on Friday, June 15 at 7:30 pm. Opening night, followed by a reception, will be Saturday, June 16 at 7:30 pm. 

DON’T SMOKE IN BED tells the story of Jamaican-American Richard (Ealy), and Irish-American Sheryl (Fabbri). As the couple open up about their relationship, inner demons are revealed and their effort to start a family together is complicated. DON'T SMOKE IN BED presents a rich, insightful exploration of how society's expectations influence what goes on behind closed doors. The play, which had its World Premiere in London in 2016, contains “intelligent, self-aware dialogue” and has been called “honest and raw” with “each scene more passionate than the last” (Annabel Mellor, THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE GUIDE AND GURU and Michelle Keepence, THE UPCOMING).

Aurin Squire (Playwright) is a Brooklyn-based playwright and journalist whose work has been called “refreshingly clever” by THE NEW YORK TIMES. He is a 2015 graduate of The Julliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program, and took part in the Royal Court Theatre’s US Writer Programme, as well as the Dramatists Guild Fellowship. His plays include A FAMILY MANUAL FOR KWANZAA (The Kennedy Center MFA Workshop) THE GREAT BLACK SAMBO MACHINE (Lincoln Centre Lab and Ars Nova), DEFACING MICHAEL JACKSON (Nuyorican Poets Café workshop and winner of Lincoln Center’s Act One Prize), TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN (Abingdon Theatre and ArcLight Theatre productions), and AFRICAN AMERICANA (Brooklyn Arts Exchange and Theatre 503).

Chika Ike (Director) is a Chicago-based director who comes to DON’T SMOKE IN BED fresh from a sold-out run of DONTRELL, WHO KISSED THE SEA, by Nathan Alan Davis, produced by First Floor Theater. Other recent directing credits include Janine Nabers’s A SWELL IN THE GROUND (The Gift Theatre) and Lloyd Suh’s FRANKLINLAND (Jackalope Theatre Company). She has also worked with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Victory Gardens, The Gift Theatre Company, American Blues Theatre Company, Eclipse Theatre, and Prologue Theatre Company. Chika is an ensemble member at The Gift Theatre Company and has received the SDCF Gielgud Directing Fellowship and the Bret C. Harte Directing Fellowship at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Chika is also a member of the 2017-18 SDCF Observership class, and a member of the Victory Gardens Directors Inclusion Initiative. 

Pay-What-You-Can Preview: Friday, June 15 at 7:30pm
Industry Night: Monday, July 2 at 7:30pm.

Ticket Pricing: $23 general admission, $15 senior, $15 student/industry with valid ID (discounts subject to availability)

Tickets may be purchased HERE.

Click Here For Additional Information 

To create a quality innovative theatrical platform. To give back to Chicago organizations that advocate for the betterment of our community. To provide accessibility for all people. Above all, we seek out the good; we question our fears and judgments so that others may question theirs.

Access is an important part of our mission at Chimera Ensemble. Through discussions within the Ensemble and with Chimera’s amazing collaborators in the Chicago community, we attempt to create an environment in which performers, directors, designers, playwrights, and audience members feel welcome to work with us and experience our productions. Season Two marks a new chapter in our mission of access, as every performance will feature Open Captioning, rather than the norm of this programming only being offered for one performance during a production's run. By providing Open Captioning for every performance, Chimera hopes to create not only a more cohesive and inclusive theatrical process that better reflects the varied ways in which individuals experience the world, but also a model for other theater companies to follow. DON’T SMOKE IN BED will also feature one Audio Described performance proceeded by a Touch Tour, date TBD. 

Part of Chimera Ensemble’s mission as a theatrical platform is to give back to the community, so for each show we produce we partner with a local organization whose work matches the themes of the production. We collect money and raise awareness for our partner organization. Please stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on Chimera’s partner organization for DON’T SMOKE IN BED.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Biggest Winner at 2018 Non-Equity Jeff Awards Is Gender Parity

Recipients of the 45th Annual
Non–Equity Jeff Awards Announced

It was my great pleasure to cover the 45th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards on Monday night for ChiIL Live Shows. People watching was prime and so many excellent productions were recognized. 2018 was a banner year, with a move from plaques to trophies, the vivacious and hilarious Veronica Garza hosting, all female awards presentersand excellent entertainment on stage. 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, an impassioned speech ushering in the advent of "Performer" Jeff Awards versus Actor & Actress, by Dani Shay, of The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier, topped our list to love. It may seem like a small thing, but labels limit, and for trans performers, the gender fluid, and those who don't fit neatly into prescribed categories, this is a watershed moment. Kudos to the Jeff Awards for this equitable, forward thinking choice on semantics. 

I was thrilled to be seated by Jay Paul Deratany, Joe Stevens, and Keaton Wooden who won Best New Musical “The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier”– Permoveo Productions i/a/w Pride Films and Plays. It was certainly one of my favorites this year. The writing, acting, score and content were all outstanding. It was a victory on many levels to see them win. I was also elated to see Strawdog honored and many favorites I reviewed over the past year 

Here are all the winners:

The Jeff Awards announced recipients of the 45th Annual Non–Equity Jeff Awards on Monday, June 11, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Top honors were awarded to Steep Theatre Company’s Lela & Co. and Griffin Theatre Company’s Ragtime. 

Steep Theatre Company’s Lela & Co. 

Griffin Theatre Company’s Ragtime

Other productions receiving multiple awards included Theo
Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and
Interrobang Theatre Project’s Foxfinder. Strawdog Theatre Company received a
Special Award for “30 years of collaboration as an innovative and provocative


Between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, there were 136 eligible Non–Equity
productions considered for Jeff Recommendation. Of those, 63 productions (or 46%) were recommended, including 15 world premieres. There were 45 productions that received at least one nomination, which represents the work of 32 theatre companies.

Credit for all photos goes to Joe Mazza & Brave Lux

“Ragtime” – Griffin Theatre Company

“Ragtime” – Griffin Theatre Company

“Lela & Co.” – Steep Theatre Company

Scott Weinstein – “Ragtime” – Griffin Theatre Company

Robin Witt – “Lela & Co.” – Steep Theatre Company

Jacquelyne Jones (Mrs. Lovett) – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”– Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Philip Torre (Sweeney Todd) – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”– Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Cruz Gonzalez–Cadel (Lela) – “ Lela & Co.” – Steep Theatre Company
Michael B. Woods (Cyrano) – “Cyrano” – BoHo Theatre

Katherine Thomas (Sarah) – “Ragtime” – Griffin Theatre Company
Missy Wise (Blanche) – “Bonnie & Clyde” – Kokandy Productions

Owais Ahmed (Bashir) – “The Invisible Hand” – Steep Theatre Company
Stella Martin (Sherry) – “Nice Girl” – Raven Theatre Company

Jay Paul Deratany, Joe Stevens, and Keaton Wooden – “The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier”– Permoveo Productions i/a/w Pride Films and Plays

Loy A. Webb – “The Light” – The New Colony

MUSIC DIRECTIONJeremy Ramey – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”– Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Jenna Schoppe – “Yank! A World War II Love Story” – Pride Films and Plays

Kyle Encinas – “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” – Red Theater Chicago

Jesse Case – “Foxfinder” – Interrobang Theatre Project

Justin Glombicki – “In the Soundless Awe” – Saltbox Theatre Collective

Beth Laske–Miller – “Shockheaded Peter” – Black Button Eyes Productions

James Kolditz – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
– Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Eric Luchen – “Foxfinder” – Interrobang Theatre Project


The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 55 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre (including producers, directors, actors, playwrights, designers, professors of theatre, entertainment lawyers and agents, and theatre lovers), the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors. Opening night judges include not only the members but also Artistic & Technical theatre volunteers (the “A/T Team”), including Artistic Directors, producers, directors and artists from Chicago theatres. The Jeff Awards fosters the artistic growth of area theatres and theatre artists and promotes educational opportunities, audience appreciation, and civic pride in the achievements of the theatre community. Each year, the Jeff Awards judges over 300 theatrical  productions and host two awards ceremonies. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non–Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non–union theatre. 

The next Equity Awards will be held on Monday, October 22, 2018, at Drury Lane Oakbrook.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

REVIEW: Tiresias Was a Weatherman by the Organic Theater Company at the Greenhouse Theater Through July 8, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Tiresias Was a Weatherman 
by the Organic Theater Company 
at the Greenhouse Theater 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue 

By Catherine Hellmann, Guest Critic

According to the press release, “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…” 

John Arthur Lewis (Troy), Adam Zaininger (Sun), Laura Sturm (Joyce), Will Burdin (Wind), Colin Jackson (Thunder), and Joel Moses (Rain) in Organic Theater’s production of Tiresias Was A Weatherman, directed by Josh Anderson, associate director Anna Gelman, May 31 – July 6, 2018. 
All Production Photos by Anna Gelman.

The storyline reminded me of my favorite beach on the East side of Lake Michigan, Pier Cove. There is a pile of rocks along the beach that have inspirational quotes on them. The usual expressions of thanks, blessings, and encouragement are penned on the rocks...but one rock reads: “Take your meds,” which I think is awesome. Then all will be well, right? The emphasis on taking one’s meds is at the forefront of Mire’s play. 

Taylor Raye (Cindy) and John Arthur Lewis (Troy)

The taking of meds from “Crazy Pants Pharmaceuticals” (love that name!) can cause catastrophic meteorological effects, even deadly hurricanes. One of the main characters, a doctor named Troy, lost his only son, Paul, in the last huge storm. Troy, who seems to have no emotions, is later accused of using his dead son for publicity; he even refers to Paul’s autopsy as a “research cadaver.” Ouch. Troy needs a feelings chip...

Annie, Troy’s stepdaughter, is portrayed by Shaina Schrooten, who does a great job as the frustrated, emotionally distraught daughter of Laura Sturm’s Joyce. She misses her brother Paul terribly, and describes to her psychiatrist how losing a sibling is its own category of being orphaned. Like the character of Antigone, she just wishes for her deceased brother to be buried so he can rest in peace. “He deserves a burial,” she insists. Annie has some wonderful lines, like how she doesn’t consider pot to be a med on her health history paperwork---”it’s like toothpaste,” she explains.

John Arthur Lewis (Troy), Nyssa Lowenstein (Charlie), and Laura Sturm (Joyce)

Four actors personify the Sun, Wind, Rain, and Thunder. Some of their dialogue is expressed in rhymes like a Dr. Seuss book which makes their intentions less sinister. “We are the weather. We work well together!” But the plot is confusing. 

Was it just me being un-hip again? So I asked my date what I was missing. His response: “The Weather freaked out when meds weren't taken or taken on time, I think. I interpreted the weather as thought, like side effects ??? Does that make sense?  I say this because the weather was also encouraging Annie, a.k.a. Annabelle, to pop a pill. I wish I could be of more help but that's how I interpreted the weather.” This is one of those shows that you don’t want to take your parents to because if we were lost, mom and dad are really going to be clueless. 

Sara Copeland (Izzy) and Shaina Schrooten (Annabelle)

All of the actors are well-intentioned and do a commendable job. I was especially impressed with three actresses who are also in The Revolutionists,
which I reviewed last week. The two plays are showing in repertory at Greenhouse until July 8. Sara Copland, Laura Sturm, and Taylor Raye appear in both productions, which is admirable. As my amusing companion noted: ”How do they do that? I would be fucking up and saying my lines from the wrong play.” Taylor Raye is funny, offering some of the only humor in the show as a talk-show host who is a bit too admiring of her guest, the doctor.

John Arthur Lewis plays the doctor who has developed an experimental chip that can be implanted in a person’s brain to suppress and control emotions. Referred to as a “remote controlled brain inhibitor,” the talk show host is thrilled with the possibilities, but the doctor wants its uses to be kept in check. Troy must be his own test subject---he is so deadpan about everything.

loved the costumes, which are all black and grey for the human characters, but bright colors for the Weathermen. The Weathermen are a talented group who also sing, sometimes in harmony. They had a clever list of medications: “fuck it all, Adderall,” and “closure is overrated, just get medicated.” 

Shaina Schrooten (Annabelle) and Adam Zaininger (Sun)

The play ends with Annie’s birthday. As she observes, birthdays “make us look at ourselves---or we are just furniture.”

This show runs in repertory with The Revolutionists (check out my review here) through July 8. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

OPENING: Chicago Premiere of The Roommate at Steppenwolf Theatre Company June 21 – August 5, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Tony Award Winner Phylicia Rashad
Directs Chicago Premiere of 
The Roommate
Written by Jen Silverman

June 21 – August 5, 2018

Featuring Ensemble Members Ora Jones and Sandra Marquez
In a Warm, Funny Story About a Chance Cohabitation That Sets Two Lives Spinning

Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents the Chicago premiere production of The Roommate by Jen Silverman, directed by Tony Award Winner Phylicia Rashad. A unique story that expresses how early-life choices can lead to mid-life challenges and the humorous, touching and unexpected rewards of bridging the divide, the Steppenwolf production will feature ensemble members Ora Jones as Robyn and Sandra Marquez as Sharon.

The Roommate begins previews June 21, 2018 and the production runs through August 5, 2018 in the Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St. Press performances are Sunday, July 1 at 6pm and Tuesday, July 3 at 7:30pm; opening night is Sunday, July 1. Single tickets ($20-$93) are currently on-sale through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or

Sharon is Midwestern nice. But to Robyn, her new roommate from the Bronx, that just means very nosy and very, very talkative. A comical mismatch leads to a surprising and touching friendship in this new comedy about how early-life choices lead to mid-life challenges and the unexpected rewards of bridging the divide. The Roommate is a warm, funny story about a chance cohabitation that sets two lives spinning. Think The Odd Couple meets Breaking Bad. 

Jen Silverman’s The Roommate premiered at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville in 2015 and has received subsequent productions at South Coast Rep, Williamstown and SF Playhouse. Additional work includes The Moors, Phoebe in Winter, The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane (Barrymore Award) and Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops (Woolly Mammoth). She is a member of New Dramatists, and has developed work with the O’Neill, New York Theatre Workshop, Portland Center Stage, Berkeley Rep and the Royal Court in London. A recipient of the Helen Merrill and Yale Drama Series Awards, she’s also a two-time MacDowell Fellow and 16/17 Playwrights of New York (PoNY) Fellow at the Lark.

Phylicia Rashad (director), one of the entertainment world’s most extraordinary performing artists, has been bringing laughter to millions of television viewers around the world, moving theatre-goers to tears, thrilling movie fans, offering new insights to students by teaching at renowned learning institutions such as Howard University and Julliard, and breaking new ground as a director.

Phylicia Rashad’s directing credits include August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles (2014 NAACP Theatre Award for Best Director) and Fences at the Long Wharf Theatre and the McCarter Theatre. This spring Ms. Rashad makes her NYC stage directing debut with the comedy Our Lady of 121st Street, running off-Broadway from May 1 to June 10.

Ms. Rashad received both the Drama Desk and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her riveting performance in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun. She received the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play for her performance in Steppenwolf ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney's Head of Passes at the Public Theater, which played at the Mark Taper Forum this fall. She has performed on Broadway in Steppenwolf’s production of ensemble member Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County; Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role that she reprised on the London Stage), August Wilson’s Gem Of The Ocean, (Tony Award nomination) and Cymbeline at Lincoln Center.

Well-known to television audiences for her groundbreaking role of attorney Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, her recent film credits include Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls and the 2015 Rocky spin-off and sequel Creed, and she currently has a featured guest-starring role in Empire.

Ora Jones (Robyn) is a Steppenwolf ensemble member and was recently seen in Studio Theatre’s production of Curve of Departure and on Broadway last season as Madame de Volanges in Les Liaisons Dangerueses at the Booth Theatre in New York. She also appeared as Mrs. Phelps in Matilda the Musical, both at the Shubert Theatre in New York, and in the first National tour. At Steppenwolf she is in the upcoming production of The Doppelgänger (an international farce) and appeared in The Wheel, Three Sisters, Middletown, The Brother/Sister Plays, The Unmentionables, The Violet Hour, The Crucible, Carter's Way and Morning Star. Some favorite Chicago roles include Katherine of Aragon in Henry VIII, Queen Charlotte in The Madness of George III, Maria in Twelfth Night, Lucienne in A Flea in Her Ear and Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor for Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Mrs. Rittenhouse in Animal Crackers, Claire in Proof, Mrs. Fezziwig and Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, Madeleine Beck in Boy Gets Girl and Elizabeth I in The Beard of Avon for Goodman Theatre; Jaclyn in Rasheeda Speaks for Rivendell Theatre; Rita Jeffries in My Kind of Town for Timeline Theatre; the Stage Manager in Our Town for Writers Theatre; Gwen in Execution of Justice for About Face Theatre; Bird/Turtle in A Year With Frog and Toad for Chicago Children's Theatre. Regional and other New York credits include performances at Long Wharf Theatre, Yale Repertory, Manhattan Theatre Club, Public Theatre, Weston Playhouse, Milwaukee Repertory and Next Act. Film and television appearances include Chicago Fire, Betrayal, Consumed, Were the World Mine and Stranger than Fiction.

Sandra Marquez (Sharon) joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in spring 2016 and is in the upcoming Steppenwolf production of The Doppelgänger (an international farce). She recently appeared in the Steppenwolf productions of Mary Page Marlowe and The Motherf**ker with the Hat. Other credits at Steppenwolf include A Streetcar Named Desire, Sonia Flew, and One Arm. At Teatro Vista, where she is a longtime company member, she directed Fade, My Mañana Comes, Breakfast Lunch & Dinner and Our Lady of the Underpass and has acted in numerous productions, including A View from the Bridge for which she received a Jeff Award. Last fall she completed a three-year arc playing Clytemnestra in what was billed as Court Theater's Iphigenia Cycle (Iphigenia at Aulis, Electra and Agamemnon). Film and television credits include Boss, Empire, Chicago Med, Chicago Justice and Timer. Marquez is on the theater faculty at Northwestern University. 

The Roommate production team includes John Iacovelli (scenic design), Samantha C. Jones (costume design), Xavier Pierce (lighting design) and Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound design). Additional credits include Laura Glenn (stage manager), Christine D. Freeburg (assistant stage manager), JC Clementz (casting director) and Hallie Gordon (artistic producer).

Dates: June 21 – August 5, 2018
Previews: June 21 – June 30, 2018
Press Performances: Sunday, July 1 at 6pm and Tuesday, July 3 at 7:30pm
           Opening: July 1, 2018
Regular Run: July 3 – August 5, 2018
Accessible Performances:
American Sign Language Interpretation: Sunday, July 22 at 7:30pm
Open Captioning: Saturday, August 4 at 3pm
Audio Description and Touch Tour: Sunday, July 29 at 1:30pm
Curtain Times: Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm and 7:30pm

Ticket prices:
Previews: $20 – $54, Regular Run: $20 – $93. Prices subject to change
20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available for all main series shows on the day of the performance at 11am (Mon – Sat) and 1pm (Sun), by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person.

Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each main series show.

Student Discounts: Limited $15 student tickets are available online. (Limit 2 tickets. Must present a valid student ID for each ticket). For additional student discounts, visit

Group Tickets: All groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance.

Black Card Memberships are for audiences interested in extreme flexibility. Cards include six tickets for use any time, for any production including the LookOut Series. The tickets are valid for one year with the option to add additional tickets as needed. Perks include easy and free exchanges, access to seats before the general public, savings on single ticket prices and bar and restaurant discounts for pre- and post-show socializing.

Red Card Memberships are available for theatergoers under 30.

More info at

Audience Services:
For tickets or more information, contact Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St) at
312-335-1650 or

Visitor Information
Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation, bike racks and Divvy bike stands. The parking facility ($12 or $14, cash or card) is located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ($14 cash) is available directly in front of the main entrance starting at 5pm on weeknights, 1pm on weekends and at 12noon before Wednesday matinees. Limited street and lot parking are also available. For last minute questions and concerns, patrons can call the Steppenwolf Parking Hotline at 312.335.1774.


Committed to making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to everyone, performances featuring American Sign Language Interpretation, Open Captioning and Audio Description are offered during the run of each play. Assistive listening devices and large-print programs are available for every performance and the Downstairs and 1700 Theatres are each equipped with an induction hearing loop. All theaters feature wheelchair accessible seating and restrooms, and Front Bar features a push-button entrance, all-gender restrooms and accessible counter and table spaces.

Sponsor Information
United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf.

Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks
Connected to the main lobby is Steppenwolf’s own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, offering a warm, creative space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Open Tuesdays – Sundays from 8am to midnight, Front Bar serves artisanal coffee and espresso is provided by La Colombe and food prepared by Goddess and Grocer. The menu focuses on fresh, accessible fare, featuring grab-and-go salads and sandwiches for lunch and adding shareable small plates and desserts for evening and post show service.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company 
is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents 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 


Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Mordaunt Shairp
directed by Amy Sarno

A charming young man is forced to choose between the love of his fiancée, the lifestyle of his male mentor, and the prescription of his upbringing. This is the infamous comedy of manipulation that, in 1933, made a leading Broadway star of Laurence Olivier, opposite his then-wife Jill Esmond. THE GREEN BAY TREE (1933) was a scandalous hit in the West End and on Broadway.

A torrid British drama of homosexual lust that premiered in London in 1933, starring Laurence Olivier. Through clever use of unspoken implications, THE GREEN BAY TREE avoided censorship from the Lord Chamberlain's office in an era when any depiction of gay love was banned from public performance.

Widely considered to be the first modern play to deal with homosexuality, THE GREEN BAY TREE suggests a same-sex attraction from Dulcimer toward Julian but does it so subtly that the text escaped censorship from the British government of the 1930’s – an era in which homosexuality was still illegal in Great Britain. THE GREEN BAY TREE – whose title refers to an Old Testament Bible verse from Psalms in which wickedness is said to spread “like a green bay tree” – was revived in London in 2014.

Left: Bradley Halverson, Kristen Alesia, Alexander McRae. Photo by David Zak.

The Pride Films and Plays production will be directed by Amy Sarno, whose stage credits include directing the world premieres of THE EXISTENTIAL GOURMET by Mindi Dickstein, THE DIVINE MISS DEA translated by Jack Street, CONCRETE DUALISM AND YOU by Juan Insua, and MEDEA (INCULTURATED) by Amy Sarno. Sarno is also the former Artistic Director of Erasing the Distance. It will play in The Buena, Pride Arts Center, in repertory with PINK ORCHIDS, through July 8.

Sarno’s cast will include Bradley Halverson as the young man, Julian.  Halverson appeared as Czechowski in the extension of Pride Films and Plays’ YANK! and was previously in the cast of the Jeff award-winning musical of 2017, HIGH FIDELITY. His fiancée, Leonora, will be Kristen Alesia. Alexander McRae has been cast as Julian’s wealthy mentor, Dulcimer. Gary Smiley will play Julian’s father, Mr. Owen. Buzz Leer, seen most recently at Redtwist Theatre in OUR TOWN and I SAW MY NEIGHBOR ON THE TRAIN AND DIDN'T EVEN SMILE will play Dulcimer’s butler, Trump.

Sarno’s design team will include Evan Frank (scenic design), Noel Huntzinger (costume design), Blake Cordell (lighting and sound design), Hillarie Shockley (properties design), Richard Gale (dramaturg), and Jackson Dougherty (Stage Manager).

THE GREEN BAY TREE will open to the press in Wednesday, June 13, following previews on Monday, June 11 and Tuesday, June 12. It will run through July 8th, playing in repertory with PINK ORCHIDS, which will open on June 8 following previews on June 6 and 7. 

The “PAC Pride Series” will continue with Joe DiPietro’s FUCKING MEN playing from July 1 – August 25, a world premiere, HURRICANE DAMAGE by Kevin Brofsky playing from August 1 - 26 and the American Premiere of HOLDING THE MAN, by Australian playwright Tommy Murphy, from August 5 – 26, 2018.

Tickets for all events are on sale now at or by phone at 866-411-4111 or 773-857-0222

Mordaunt Shairp (playwright) was an English dramatist and screenwriter. Educated at St Paul's School, London, and Lincoln College, Oxford, he spent much of his life as a schoolmaster in London and wrote many plays for pupils to perform.  His adult plays dealt with darker interpersonal relationships and included THE CRIME AT BLOSSOMS as well as THE GREEN BAY TREE. Shairp also spent a short spell in Hollywood as a screenwriter, including THE DARK ANGEL, which starred Frederic March, and THE WHITE ANGEL.

Amy Sarno (director) Amy Sarno’s stage credits include directing the world premieres of THE EXISTENTIAL GOURMET by Mindi Dickstein, THE DIVINE MISS DEA translated by Jack Street, CONCRETE DUALISM AND YOU by Juan Insua, and MEDEA (INCULTURATED) by Amy Sarno.  Sarno received a Fulbright to create PLAN B, a verbatim play about domestic violence.  Her verbatim play, IMPRINTS, was produced by Wisconsin’s New Court Theatre. Sarno is also the former Artistic Director of Erasing the Distance. 

June 11 – July 8, 2018
Previews Mon. 6/11, Tues. 6/12 at 7:30 pm
Opening Weds. 6/13 at 7:30 pm
Beginning Sat. 6/16, Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:30 pm through July 8. Extra performance Thursday, July 5 at 7:30 pm. No shows Sunday, June 24 or Wednesday, July 4

Buena Theater
Pride Arts Center
4147 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613

Tickets: Previews $15, Regular Run: Premium seats $30, General Admission $25, Seniors/Students/Military $23
Tickets available at or by phone at 866-811-4111 or 773-857-0222.


Pride Films and Plays creates diverse new work (or work that is new to Chicago) with LGBTQ+ characters or themes that is essential viewing for all audiences. We accomplish this mission through fully-staged productions, writing contests and staged readings, and filming one short film each season.

PFP is the primary tenant in the Pride Arts Center (PAC), which connects and promotes other artists who share our values, creating a safe environment for all. PAC books one-night events or limited runs, cabaret, film, dance, comedy, and other events. PAC opened in 2016 and consists of two performance spaces: The Buena at 4147 N. Broadway which has 50 seats and The Broadway at 4139 N. Broadway which has 85 seats.
Pride Films and Plays is supported by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard Driehaus Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago’s City Arts Fund, the Elliott Fredland Charitable Trust, Proud to Run, the AmazonSmile Foundation, Arts and Business Foundation, Tap Root Foundation and Alphawood Foundation. 

PFP is a member of the Smart Growth Program of the Chicago Community Trust. Pride Films and Plays is a member of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and The League of Chicago Theatres.

For more information, visit or call 1.800.737.0984.


PRIDE ARTS CENTER has become an important part of the arts environment in the Buena Park neighborhood and beyond. In addition to performances by PFP, (, PAC hosts monthly events including play readings, film screenings, cabaret nights, and variety shows. Guest productions are also included in the PAC schedule. Find a full calendar of everything happening at PAC here.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Cast Announced for Brown Paper Box Co.’s Regional Premiere of Pulitzer Prize Finalist EVERYBODY

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Cast Announced for Brown Paper Box Co.’s 
Regional Premiere of Pulitzer Prize Finalist

By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
 Directed by Erin Shea Brady*

July 13–August 12, 2018

The Buena at Pride Arts Center

Brown Paper Box Co.’s regional premiere of EVERYBODY has found its cast! This modern riff on the medieval morality play Everyman follows Everybody (chosen from the cast via lottery at each performance) as they question and explore life’s most basic and universal elements of death, love, friendship, family, God. etc. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Gloria, An Octoroon) bases EVERYBODY on the 15th century morality play that instructs sinners on how to repent and seek redemption.

"This is play written for a company of nine performers of varying generations, gender- and ethnic-identities. The exact breakdown of roles should vary from performance to performance via lottery or some other element of chance." Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, playwright

For 20 performances, the majority of the cast’s roles will be decided by lottery live on stage. As the script says, “This is done in an attempt to more closely thematize the randomness of death while also destabilizing your preconceived notions about identity, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” At any given performance, audiences will see a version of the show that has never been performed, out of 120 possible variations.

“With EVERYBODY, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins gives us the vital opportunity to see five very different actors step into a variety of roles in each others' stories,” says director Erin Shea Brady. “The piece takes ‘different every night’ to a whole new level without resting on a gimmick. EVERYBODY explodes our preconceptions of theatricality to explore bias, conditioning, relationship, and representation — and at the core of it all, to ground us in our collective humanity.”

"Our staff got about 6 pages into reading EVERYBODY and immediately knew it was the perfect play to begin our new season,” says Artistic Director Kristi Szczepanek. “The opportunity to premiere such an exciting and timely play following its New York debut during BPBCo.’s ‘back to our roots’ season is an absolute honor.”

The cast for EVERYBODY features Kenny the Bearded, Hal Christine, Chelsea Dàvid, Alys Dickerson, Nora Fox, Alex Madda, Donovan Session, Francesca Sobrer, and Elle Walker. Hannah Green and Alexandria Moorman round out the cast as Understudies.

The staff and design team includes Erin Shea Brady* (Director), Michelle Benda (Lighting Designer), Zach Dries* (Photographer),  Sarah D. Espinoza (Sound Designer), Evan Frank (Scenic Designer), Kaitlyn Guerrieri* (Box Office Manager), Destiney Higgins (Assistant Director), Jeremy Hollis* (Production Manager), M. William Panek* (Casting Associate), Deanna Satin (Stage Manager), Charlie Sheets* (Graphic Designer), Gin To* (Dramaturg).

* denotes Brown Paper Box Co. members

Previews: Friday, July 13, 2018 @ 7:30pm and Saturday, July 14, 2018 @ 7:30pm
Opening Performance: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 7:30pm
Press Performance: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 7:30pm 
Regular Run: Friday, July 20–Monday, July 23, 2018
                        Friday, July  27–Sunday, July 29, 2018
                       Thursday, August 2–Sunday, August 5, 2018
                       Thursday, August 9–Sunday, August 12, 2018

Tickets: On sale soon at

For more information, performance times, and ticketing information, please visit

See EVERYBODY Again Punch Card Promotion

There are 120 possible variations to the randomness of recasting EVERYBODY by lottery night after night, so Brown Paper Box Co. is offering a See EVERYBODY Again punch card to see the show again with different performers in different roles. Nothing's guaranteed, but with 120 variations, odds are in the repeat viewer's favor!

After a first viewing, audience members can pick up a punch card that grants 50% Off a second visit and a Free Ticket for their third. Purchases must be made in-person at the Pride Art Center's Box Office the hour before the desired performance by the same attendee each visit. Seating is based on availability.

About Brown Paper Box Co.
Brown Paper Box Co. creates challenging and inspiring theatre that focuses on the text. By employing a smart, simple aesthetic in intimate spaces, we connect audiences directly to the heart of the story. 

45th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards June 11th at The Athenaeum Theatre Chicago

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we'd like to congratulate all the nominees. There is so much world class theatre in Chicago the competition is steep and we had the pleasure of seeing many phenomenal productions this year. We'll be back with a recap after Monday's award night. Kudos also to one of our long time favorites, Strawdog Theatre. They've been chosen to receive a 2018 Non-Equity Special Award, and it's not even a leg lamp! They are being honored for 30 years of collaboration as an innovative and provocative Ensemble. Strawdog has been dedicated to its mission of bringing audiences “the whole wide world in a little black box,” and is known for its enduring theatrical history. As described by the Ensemble itself, “When the Earth is destroyed by plague, war and famine there will still be cockroaches, Twinkies and Strawdog Theatre Company.”  Read more details on Strawdog below.

The 45th Annual Non–Equity Jeff Awards will be hosted by Veronica Garza and held on Monday, June 11, 2018, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with several cash bars available, and the awards will start at 7:30 p.m. Following the show, cash bars will remain open and complimentary light bites will be available. Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 on June 11. To purchase tickets, visit the Athenaeum website ( or TodayTix app. A group rate of $40 is available for parties of 10 or more by calling the Athenaeum box office. 

Festive cocktail attire is suggested, and the public is cordially invited. TodayTix is an official sponsor of the 45th Annual Non–Equity Jeff Awards. 

For more information, contact Drew Blau, Non–Equity Wing Chair, at Follow live tweets from the ceremony and behind the scenes at #jeffawards. 

The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 55 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre (including producers, directors, actors, playwrights, designers, professors of theatre, entertainment lawyers and agents, and theatre lovers), the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors. Opening night judges include not only the members but also Artistic & Technical theatre volunteers (the “A/T Team”), including Artistic Directors, producers, directors and artists from Chicago theatres.
The Jeff Awards fosters the artistic growth of area theatres and theatre artists and promotes educational opportunities, audience appreciation, and civic pride in the achievements of the theatre community. Each year, the Jeff Awards judges over 300 theatrical productions and host two awards ceremonies. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non–Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non–union theatre. The next Equity Awards will be held on Monday, October 22, 2018, at Drury Lane Oakbrook.


The nominated productions that I caught personally, and covered at are in bold below. 

Production - Play
Foxfinder - Interrobang Theatre Project
Ideation - Jackalope Theatre Company
Lela & Co. - Steep Theatre Company
The invisible Hand - Steep Theatre Company
The Light - The New Colony

Production - Musical
Bonnie & Clyde - Kokandy Productions 
Marie Christine - BoHo Theatre
Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company
Sweeney Todd - Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Violet - Griffin Theatre Company

Director - Play
Audrey Francis - The invisible Hand - Steep Theatre Company
Gus Menary - Ideation - Jackalope Theatre Company
Margaret Knapp - Foxfinder - Interrobang Theatre Project
Robin Witt - Lela & Co. - Steep Theatre Company
Toma Langston - The Light - The New Colony

Director - Musical
Fred Anzevino - Sweeney Todd - Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Lili-Anne Brown - Marie Christine - BoHo Theatre
Scott Weinstein - Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company
Scott Weinstein - Violet - Griffin Theatre Company
Spencer Neiman - Bonnie & Clyde - Kokandy Productions

Ideation - Jackalope Theatre Company
Insurrection: Holding History - Stage Left Theatre
Into the Empty Sky - Trap Door Theatre
Mother of the Dark Water - Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theater
Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company
Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery - Pegasus Theatre Chicago

Performer in a Principal Role - Musical
Dani Shay - The Civility of Albert Cashier - Permoveo Productions i/a/w Pride Films and Plays 
Denzel Tsopnang - Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company
Desiree Gonzalez - Bonnie & Clyde - Kokandy Productions 
Jacquelyne Jones - Sweeney Todd - Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Jason Richards - Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company
Kyrie Courter - Marie Christine - BoHo Theatre 
Laura McClain - Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company
Matthew Huston - Yank: A World War II Love Story - Pride Films and Plays
Max DeTogne - Bonnie & Clyde - Kokandy Productions
Nicole Laurenzi - Violet - Griffin Theatre Company 

Philip Torre - Sweeney Todd - Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Performer in a Principal Role - Play
Alejandro Tey - The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity - Red Theater Chicago
Alexandra Fisher - Foxfinder - Interrobang Theatre Project
Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel - Lela & Co. - Steep Theatre Company
Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr - The Light - The New Colony 
Joel Reitsma - The invisible Hand - Steep Theatre Company
John Mossman - How I Learned To Drive - The Artistic Home
Lucy Carapetyan - Nice Girl - Raven Theatre 
Michael B. Woods - Cyrano - BoHo Theatre
Sara Pavlak McGuire - Time Stands Still - AstonRep Theatre Company
Tiffany Oglesby - The Light - The New Colony 
Vince Kracht - The Nance - Pride Films and Plays

Performer in Supporting Role - Play
Andrew Neftali Perez - Water & Power - UrbanTheater Company
Bryce Gangel - 1980 (Or Why I'm Voting for John Anderson) - Jackalope Theatre Company
Chris Chmelik - Lela & Co. - Steep Theatre Company
Gregory Fenner - Megastasis - Eclipse Theatre Company
Kathleen Ruhl - I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn't Even Smile - Redtwist Theatre 
Kelli Harrington - Perfect Arrangement - Pride Films and Plays
Owais Ahmed - The invisible Hand - Steep Theatre Company
Renee Lockett - Surely Goodness and Mercy - Redtwist Theatre
RjW Mays - Kingdom - Broken Nose Theatre
Stella Martin - Nice Girl - Raven Theatre

Performer in a Supporting Role - Musical
Billy Rude - The Civility of Albert Cashier - Permoveo Productions i/a/w Pride Films and Plays 
Emily Goldberg - The Spitfire Grill - Refuge Theatre Project
Gina Francesca - Lysistrata Jones - Refuge Theatre Project
John Marshall Jr. - Yank: A World War II Love Story - Pride Films and Plays
Katherine Thomas - Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company
Missy Wise - Bonnie & Clyde - Kokandy Productions 
Molly LeCaptain - Yank: A World War II Love Story - Pride Films and Plays
Nicole Michelle Haskins - The Spitfire Grill - Refuge Theatre Project
Stephen Allen - Violet - Griffin Theatre Company 
Veronica Garza - A New Brain - Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

New Musical
David Cerda - Lady X - The Musical - Hell in a Handbag Productions
Jay Paul Deratany, Joe Stevens, Keaton Wooden - The Civility of Albert Cashier - Permoveo Productions i/a/w Pride Films and Plays
Preston Max Allen - Carrie 2: The Rage (An Unauthorized Musical Parody) - Underscore Theatre Company

New Play
Douglas Post - Forty-Two Stories - City Lit Theater Company
Lloyd Suh - Franklinland - Jackalope Theatre Company
Loy A. Webb - The Light - The New Colony
Michael Allen Harris - Kingdom - Broken Nose Theatre 

Patricia Cotter - 1980 (Or Why I'm Voting for John Anderson) - Jackalope Theatre Company
Shepsu Aakhu - Never the Milk and Honey - Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theater

Breon Arzell - Marie Christine - BoHo Theatre 
Jenna Schoppe - Yank: A World War II Love Story - Pride Films and Plays
Kevin Bellie and Kara Schoenhofer - Bullets Over Broadway The Musical - NightBlue Performing Arts
Shanna VanDerwerker - Lysistrata Jones - Refuge Theatre Project
William Carlos Angulo - Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company

Fight Choreography
David Blixt - Her Majesty's Will - Lifeline Theatre 
Jon Beal - Cyrano - BoHo Theatre
Kyle Encinas - The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity - Red Theater Chicago

Music Direction
Jeremy Ramey - Sweeney Todd - Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Jermaine Hill and Ellen Morris - Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company
John Cockerill - Bonnie & Clyde - Kokandy Productions 
Jon Schneidman - The Spitfire Grill - Refuge Theatre Project
Robert Ollis - Yank: A World War II Love Story - Pride Films and Plays

Original Music in a Play
Jeffrey Levin - Her Majesty's Will - Lifeline Theatre 
Jesse Case - Foxfinder - Interrobang Theatre Project
Mike Mazzocca - Into the Empty Sky - Trap Door Theatre
Nicholas Tonozzi - Round Heads and Pointed Heads - Red Tape Theatre
Red Clay and Desta Sound - Never the Milk and Honey - Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theater

Scenic Design
Eric Luchen - Foxfinder - Interrobang Theatre Project
Jeffrey D. Kmiec - American Hero - First Floor Theater
Joe Schermoly - Lela & Co. - Steep Theatre Company
John Wilson - The Light - The New Colony 
Ray Toler - Choir Boy - Raven Theatre

Lighting Design
Brandon Wardell - Lela & Co. - Steep Theatre Company
G. "Max" Maxin IV - Cyrano - BoHo Theatre
Heather Gilbert - Marie Christine - BoHo Theatre 
James Kolditz - Sweeney Todd - Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
John Kelly - Foxfinder - Interrobang Theatre Project

Costume Design
Beth Laske-Miller - Shockheaded Peter - Black Button Eyes Productions 
Bill Morey - Sweeney Todd - Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
John Nasca - The Nance - Pride Films and Plays
Rachel Sypniewski - Ragtime - Griffin Theatre Company
Zachery Wagner - The School for Lies - The Artistic Home

Sound Design
Jesse Case - Foxfinder - Interrobang Theatre Project
Justin Glombicki - In the Soundless Awe - Saltbox Theatre Collective
Michael J. Patrick - Bonnie & Clyde - Kokandy Productions 
Morgan Lake - Pillars of the Community - Strawdog Theatre Company
Thomas Dixon - The invisible Hand - Steep Theatre Company

Strawdog Theatre Company to Receive 2018 Non-Equity Special Award 

Top row, left to right: Paul Fagen, Shannon Hoag, Nicole Bloomsmith, Anderson Lawfer, Becca Levy, Terry Bell, Scott Danielson, Sarah Goeden, Sam Hubbard, Second row, left to right: Mike Dailey, Kamille Dawkins, *Aly Greaves Amidei, Michaela Petro, John Henry Roberts, John Ferrick, Jamie Vann, Heath Hays, Hank Boland, Bottom row, left to right: Carmine Grisolia, Claire Chrzan, Elly Green, Gage Wallace, *Daniella Pereira, John Kelly, Kat McDonnell, *Justine C. Turner, Michael Reyes Not pictured: Kyle Hammon, Janice O'Neill (Photos by Jon Cole Media unless noted with *) 

The Jeff Awards announced today that Strawdog Theatre, Known for its massive ensemble (over 140 members throughout its 30 years), Strawdog has constantly worked to feature exciting new works, reimagined classics and modern favorites that speak to our American lives. Strawdog presented their first production, Five of Us, in 1988 while working out of the Shakespeare Street Theater. The Ensemble went on to produce many other memorable and award-winning productions, including Burn This (1996), Hurlyburly (1999), Detective Story (2004), Marathon '33 (2007), Red Noses (2010), Great Expectations (2014) and Barbecue (as a LookOut Visiting Company at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre) (2017). The final production of Strawdog’s current 2018 season is Damascus, a world premiere by local playwright, Bennett Fisher, and directed by Raven Theatre’s Artistic Director, Cody Estle, which runs through June 23, 2018. Strawdog has explored theatre in many exciting and challenging ways, including 31 world premieres, 8 fully produced radio plays, 7 Shakespeare plays, and 3 Chekhov classics. Strawdog’s longtime venue was located atop a steep staircase at 3829 N Broadway where, in addition to the Mainstage, they created an additional 50-seat theatre known as Hugen Hall (after the late Ashley Hugen, a beloved Strawdog friend). Hugen Hall served as a home for new work and adaptations, as well as Chicago Theatre's Community Center where late night audiences enjoyed original programming including BYO, The Hit Factory, Theatre Wars!, The Game Show Show and Stuff, The Direct Off!, Nikki and the City and J&M Comedy Hour. 

After Strawdog’s home of 26 years was demolished for redevelopment in 2016, the Ensemble spent a year at The Factory Theater in Rogers Park, mounted a production at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre and eventually found a new home at 1802 W Berenice (previously occupied by Signal Ensemble Theatre and most recently Oracle Productions). 

Strawdog has been nominated for 61 Jeff Awards and received 24 Awards that span every category across the ballot, which is testimony to Strawdog’s excellent and comprehensive theatrical vision. 

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