Monday, March 18, 2019

OPENING: Canadian Icon Margaret Trudeau to Stage Debut ‘CERTAIN WOMAN OF AN AGE’ at The Second City Mother’s Day Weekend

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Canadian Icon Margaret Trudeau to Stage Debut
Directed by Kimberly Senior 
at The Second City
will run Mother’s Day weekend
 May 9- May 12, 2019

The Second City invites you to celebrate Mother’s Day with Margaret Trudeau, the mother of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In a world premiere engagement, Margaret Trudeau is coming to Chicago to bring her intimate staged performance Certain Woman of an Age exclusively to UP Comedy Club at The Second City, 230 W. North Ave. Co-written by Ms. Trudeau, herself, and directed by Kimberly Senior, this solo performance follows the compelling story of one of the world’s most fascinating figures, chronicling her courageous public and private journeys.

Through vividly told anecdotes recounting her experiences as the mother of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former wife of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, catapulting her to feminist icon status, and suffering tremendous personal loss, Ms. Trudeau bravely and humorously paints a surprisingly universal picture that will empower audiences with the perspective that mental illness affects all families, no matter who they are.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of sharing Margaret's story in this intimate setting. Through her courage, insight, and humor, we all stand a little taller and are better able to face the ever-challenging world around us," said director Kimberly Senior.

Co-written by award-winning playwright Alix Sobler, the stripped-down performance will be supported by simple lighting design, projections, and photographs from historic sources as well as Ms. Trudeau’s personal archives. Following 2018’s developmental run of Julia Sweeney: Older & Wider, Certain Woman of an Age is the latest development project from The Second City, and the new work shares a Canadian connection. Canadian Andrew Alexander started the Toronto Second City in 1974, and he and his partner Len Stuart acquired The Second City Chicago in 1985.

“I first met Margaret Trudeau 25 years ago. I was asked to meet her after writing a screenplay which featured her as one of the main characters. The film never happened, but a friendship was born. As the years went by, I realized her real-life story of grace, forgiveness, love, and determination in the face of unspeakable tragedy is a magnificent story of survival and more compelling than any fiction,” said executive producer Diane Alexander. “Margaret is also one of the most charming and funny people I have ever met."

Tickets start at $45 and are available by phone at 312-337-3992 or online at The show schedule is as follows: Thursday, May 9 at 8pm; Friday, May 10 at 8pm; Saturday, May 11 at 8pm; and a special Mother’s Day performance on Sunday, May 12 at 4pm.

About The Artists

Margaret Trudeau
Canadians fell in love with Pierre Elliott Trudeau's beautiful bride when he brought her to the world stage as the youngest First Lady in the history of the country. Yet, as time went by, Margaret was unprepared for public life, and plagued by mood swings. After three sons with Pierre, the marriage ended. She then remarried and had two more children. But the tragic loss of her son, Michel, in a skiing accident and the passing of Pierre Trudeau a few years later were too much to bear, and she became severely ill.

Today, Margaret has rebuilt her life once again. Now, she brings her formidable life story to the stage in her quest to help others, sharing her message of resilience with the goal of helping to inspire others and to erase the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Margaret is the author of four books, including her bestselling title, Changing My Mind, which charts her life’s ups and downs, and her latest title, The Time of Your Life, which offers women an inspirational and practical approach to creating a healthy, happy, secure and satisfying future.

Kimberly Senior is a freelance director and the director of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar. Most recently, Kimberly made her HBO debut with Chris Gethard: Career Suicide, which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Kimberly was awarded the 2016 TCG Alan Schneider Award. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Primary Stages Einhorn Award and 2016 Special Non-Equity Jeff Award for her work as a trailblazer, champion, and role model for emerging artists.

New York Credits: Disgraced (Broadway); Chris Gethard: Career Suicide (Judd Apatow); The Niceties (Manhattan Theatre Club); Sakina's Restaurant (Audible); The Who and The What; Disgraced (LCT3); Discord (Primary Stages); Engagements (Second Stage Uptown). Regional Credits: Christmas at Pemberley (Milwaukee Rep); The Niceties (Huntington and McCarter); Sheltered (Alliance Theatre); Support Group for Men; Disgraced; Rapture, Blister, Burn (Goodman Theatre); Buried Child; The Scene; Marjorie Prime; Diary of Anne Frank; Hedda Gabler; The Letters (Writers Theatre); Other Than Honorable (Geva); Sex with Strangers (The Geffen Playhouse); Disgraced (Mark Taper Forum, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre); The Who and The What (La Jolla Playhouse); Little Gem (City Theatre); Want; and The North Plan (Steppenwolf), among others. She is the proud mother of Noah (12) and Delaney (10). Kimberly is a member of SDC. Find more at

Alix Sobler is a writer and performer who lives in New York City. Her play Sheltered won the 2018 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition and received a world premiere at Alliance Theater in 2018. Other recent work includes The Great Divide, which won the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition, was named as a finalist in the Henley Rose Playwriting Competition, and was the runner-up for the 2017 Jane Chambers Award. It received its world premiere in September of 2016 at The Finborough Theatre in London. Her play The Secret Annex was most recently produced at the Segal Centre in Montreal in 2016. It was originally produced in 2014 at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. A two-time finalist for the Eugene O’Neill NPC, she has had work read or produced in theaters across North America and England, including Roundabout Theater Company (New York, NY), the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), The Print Room (London, UK), The Stratford Festival (Stratford, ON), South Coast Repertory (Costa Mesa, CA), Theater J (Washington, DC), Gulfshore Playhouse (Naples, FL), Theatre Seven (Chicago, IL), Mad & Merry Theater Company (New York, NY), Prairie Theatre Exchange (Winnipeg, MB), Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep (Providence, RI), The Tank (New York, NY), Theatre Or (Minneapolis, MN), and others. BA: Brown University, MFA: Columbia University. Find more at

About UP Comedy Club

Since opening its doors as part of The Second City’s resident stages in 2012, UP Comedy Club has developed and produced a diverse array of sketch comedy shows, stand-up performances, festivals, and original works from voices of every kind. Programming has included the box office smash #DateMe: An OkCupid Experiment, critic and audience favorite She the People: Girlfriends’ Guide to Sisters Doing It for Themselves, The Second City’s Black History Month Show, and The Second City’s Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue. The theater is also home to the annual NBC Universal + The Second City’s Break-Out Comedy Fest, which showcases the hottest emerging and seasoned comedic acts in the worlds of stand-up, sketch, and improv.

Chicago Premiere of THE MUSHROOM CURE at Greenhouse Theater Center April 4 – May 5, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Chicago Premiere!
Greenhouse Theater Center,
in association with The Marsh, Presents
Written and Performed by Adam Strauss
Developed with and Directed by Jonathan Libman
April 4 – May 5, 2019

I'll be out for the press opening April 6th, so check back soon for my full review. 

The Greenhouse Theater Center, in association with The Marsh, is pleased to present the Chicago premiere of the off-Broadway hit THE MUSHROOM CURE, the true story of one man's attempt to treat his severe OCD with psychedelics. Written and performed by Adam Strauss and developed with and directed by Jonathan Libman, THE MUSHROOM CURE will play April 4 – May 5, 2019 in The Greenhouse Theater Center’s Downstairs Main Stage, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336. 

Inspired by a scientific study showing that hallucinogenic mushrooms may cure obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Adam Strauss embarked on a program of vigilante psychopharmacology. The true tale of Strauss’ hilarious, harrowing and heartrending attempts to treat his debilitating OCD with psychedelics, THE MUSHROOM CURE was named a Critics’ Pick by Time Out New York, which praised it as “riveting… true-life tour de force” and hailed by The New York Times as “mining a great deal of laughter from disabling pain.”

THE MUSHROOM CURE first ran in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe garnering widespread acclaim. Critics called the show “hugely intelligent and incredibly engaging,” (The Scotsman) “outstanding,” (Edinburgh Festivals Magazine), and “a revelation” (Broadway Baby). Strauss’ riotous tale appeared next in the New York International Fringe Festival, winning the Fringe’s Overall Excellence Award for Solo Performance. It then was given its Off-Broadway premiere at New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre, where it had a sold-out, extended run, before transferring to The Marsh in San Francisco for its West Coast premiere with a sold-out, extended run. The show then moved to Theatre 80 St. Marks in New York, where it ran for over a year before closing in January.

THE MUSHROOM CURE is produced by the Greenhouse Theater Center, in association with The Marsh, a breeding ground for new performance. 

Dates: Previews: Thursday, April 4 at 8 pm and Friday, April 5 at 8 pm
Press Performance: Saturday, April 6 at 8 pm
Regular run: Saturday, April 6 – Sunday, May 5, 2019
Curtain times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm
Tickets: Previews: $25 Regular run: $29 - $35. Discounts: $19 students, seniors, teachers, military and industry. Group discounts are available. Tickets are currently available at, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336.

About the Artists
Adam Strauss is a writer and performer based in New York City. He won the Leffe Craft Your Character Storytelling Competition and the New York Fringe Festival’s Overall Excellence Award for Solo Performance. He is also a stand-up comedian who performs throughout the US and the UK. Strauss received his BA in psychology from Brown University. His upcoming solo show The Uncertainty Principle will receive its world premiere at The Marsh in May 2019.

Jonathan Libman is currently directing and writing for Amy Schumer's ensemble company The Collective. As a member of the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit, Jonathan is directing Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale) in Palminteri's new play The Bench, and National Endowment for the Arts recipient David Libman’s play The Townhouse, featuring Joey Collins. He recently worked with Christina Masciotti (2016 Guggenheim Fellow) on her play Raw Bacon From Poland, featuring Sean Carvajal (2018 Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards for Best Actor). Jonathan won a scholarship to write and direct at Tony Spiridakis' Manhattan Film Institute, and has just finished writing two original television pilots, The Little People and Accidents Waiting to Happen. In 2019-20 he will be directing new work by Nicole Pandolfo (2017 Dramatist Guild Fellow), Sam Kahn (Chatter), Eli Walker (Drunk Yoga) and Daniel Mitura (The Picture of Dorian Gray).

About the Greenhouse Theater Center

The Greenhouse Theater Center (GTC) is a producing theater company, performance venue and theatre bookstore located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

GTC began its producing life in 2014 with the smash hit Churchill, followed by 2016’s much-lauded Solo Celebration!, an eight month, 16 event series highlighting the breadth and depth of the solo play form. In 2017-18, the Greenhouse presented its first full subscription season, including Machinal (4 stars from Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones) and the Chicago premiere of Birds of a Feather. 
As a performance venue, the Greenhouse complex offers two newly-remodeled 198-seat main stage spaces, two 60-seat studio theaters, a newly-built 44-seat cabaret space, two high-capacity lobbies and an in-house rehearsal room. GTC also houses Chicago’s only dedicated used theatre bookstore, located on the second floor the complex. 

The Greenhouse Theater Center’s mission is first and foremost to grow local theatre. GTC seeks local theatre companies and artists to partner on co-productions, offering partners a multitude of resources including an equitable split of production costs, production manager, full-service box office and front-of-house staff, artistic consultation, marketing and public relations support and a full-service bar with concessions. For additional information, contact Nicholas Reinhart at (773) 404-7336, ext. 13.
About The Marsh

The Marsh, known as a "breeding ground for new performance," was launched in1989 by Founder and Artistic Director Stephanie Weisman, and now annually hosts more than 600 performances of 175 shows across the company's two venues in San Francisco and Berkeley. A leading developer and outlet for solo performers, The Marsh's specialty has been hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “solo performances that celebrate the power of storytelling at its simplest and purest.” The East Bay Times named The Marsh one of Bay Area's best intimate theaters, calling it “one of the most thriving solo theaters in the nation. The live theatrical energy is simply irresistible.”  For more info about The Marsh, visit or email

OPENING: THE FIRESTORM Via First Folio Theatre at The Mayslake Peabody Estate March 27 through April 28, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar


In its 23rd season, First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is exploring the consequences of today’s info-saturated environment with Meridith Friedman’s politically-charged production THE FIRESTORM. Directed by Artistic Associate Rachel Lambert, THE FIRESTORM highlights the repercussions “call-out culture” has on relationships, explores the challenges and triumphs of interracial relationships, and notes how couples can navigate the world together in a highly-politicized society. THE FIRESTORM previews March 27-29, opens March 30 and runs through April 28, 2019.

THE FIRESTORM follows Gaby and Patrick, an interracial political power couple hot on the campaign trail. The couple is thrust into the center of a media frenzy when a racially charged incident from Patrick’s past surfaces. As the pressure intensifies, the political becomes explosively personal and the foundation of their seemingly picture-perfect marriage begins to fracture. The stunning production leaves audience members begging the question: when the past comes to haunt us, what do we do with the ghosts?

“We are excited to present The Firestorm to audiences at First Folio Theatre,” said Artistic Associate Rachel Lambert. “With focus on personal integrity, internal struggles with identity, and one’s moral compass, The Firestorm is an incredible, timely play. We are particularly thrilled to offer audiences an abstract experience that leans into the personal experiences of each of the characters in a rapidly moving and surprising way, while acknowledging the political climate of today’s society.”

Starring in THE FIRESTORM are Melanie Loren as Gaby and Steve O’Connell as Patrick, with Samuel Campbell III as Jamal, and Kayla Kennedy as Leslie. The production and design crew include Angela Weber Miller (Scenic and Lighting Design), Christopher Kriz (Original Music and Sound Design), Cassy Schillo (Properties Design) and Stephanie Nguyen (Costume Design) with Colleen Layton (Stage Manager) and Wallace Craig (Assistant Stage Manager).

Performances take place at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, located at 1717 31st St., off Rt. 83, in Oak Brook. First Folio is easy to get to from via the East-West Tollway (I-88) or the Stevenson Expressway (I-55). Free parking is available on the grounds. 

Preview tickets are $25. Regular priced tickets are $34 Wednesdays and Thursdays (seniors and students are $29), and $44 on Fridays through Sundays (seniors and students are $39). Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by calling the box office at 630.986.8067 or online at

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar



APRIL 2-14, 2019

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the cult classic film Cruel Intentions, producers have announced the casting for the North American tour of the Off-Broadway smash hit CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE ‘90s MUSICAL. Following sold-out runs in Los Angeles and a critically acclaimed, sold-out run in New York City, the new musical will play Broadway In Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E. Chestnut St) for a limited two week engagement April 2 – 14, 2019.

Four of the touring cast members have ties to Chicago. Betsy Stewart (Annette Hargrove) is a Northwestern graduate and performed in several Marriott Theatre productions, including October Sky, Spring Awakening and Godspell. Brooke Singer (Cecile Caldwell) is a graduate of The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and starred as Chava in Paramount Theatre’s 2013 production of Fiddler On The Roof. David Wright (Blaine Tuttle) performed in Marriott Theatre’s 2017 production of Newsies. Aramie Payton (Male Understudy) is a Chicago resident who graduated from Walter Payton College Prep High School and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and who performed in Marriott Theatre’s 2017 production of Mamma Mia!

Additional CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE ‘90s MUSICAL touring cast members include John Battagliese as Greg McConnell, Richard Crandle as Ronald Clifford, Jeffrey Kringer as Sebastian Valmont, Dara Orland as Mrs. Bunny Caldwell, Taylor Pearlstein as Kathryn Merteuil and Nicole Medoro as the Female Understudy.

When Sarah Michelle Gellar, the film’s original Kathryn Merteuil, was asked about the news, she said, “Everybody loves me and twenty years later I intend to keep it that way, with the support of the exquisite Cruel Intentions Musical and soundtrack. Not that I need support. I don’t, because I’m fabulous.”

Original film director Roger Kumble adds, “Never in my darkest fantasies would I believe twenty years later, my movie about a pair of hedonistic Manhattan step-siblings would turn into a musical. An amazing musical that even people who hate musicals would love, complete with a soundtrack loaded with the greatest 90s guilty pleasure songs.”

As previously announced, a cast recording featuring the original Off-Broadway company will be released on March 8, 2019 on CD and all digital formats on ABKCO Records.

Grammy-winning producer Stewart Lerman captured the dynamic arrangements from the Off-Broadway production, in his studio outside New York City in August this year. Featuring the stellar talents of Carrie St. Louis, Constantine Rousouli and Alex Boniello alongside Patricia Richardson, the album will contain a collection of lively tracks from CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE ‘90s MUSICAL, including ‘Losing My Religion’ ‘Bye Bye Bye’ and a unique take on ‘No Scrubs’ that is not to be missed. The album is available now for pre-order at “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Foolish Games,” and “Lovefool” are currently available to stream and as Instant Grat tracks with pre-order now.

ABKCO Records will release CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE ‘90s MUSICAL Original Cast Album on CD and digital platforms on March 8. Coinciding almost perfectly with the 20th anniversary of the Roger Kumble film from which it is based, the new Off-Broadway musical uses hit songs from the 1990s as its central motif. Cast members pay tribute to the decade with stellar performances of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony,” Christina Aguilera’s “Genie In a Bottle,” the Cardigans’ “Lovefool” and the lead single “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” originally by Deep Blue Something now available streaming services and as an Instant Grat with pre-order now.

Set to the greatest pop and rock hits of the ‘90s, CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE ‘90s MUSICAL is an exhilarating and deceptively funny musical that pulls you into the manipulative world of Manhattan’s most dangerous liaisons: Sebastian Valmont and Kathryn Merteuil. Seduced by revenge and fueled by passion, the two diabolically charming step-siblings place a bet on whether or not Sebastian can deflower their incoming headmaster’s daughter, Annette Hargrove. As the two set out to destroy the innocent girl – and anyone who gets in their way – they find themselves entangled in a web of secrets, temptation, and the cruelest game of all: love. Audience members experience the intoxicating story full of hilarity and heart, set to the greatest throwback hits of the decade by such artists as Goo Goo Dolls, No Doubt, R.E.M., Ace of Base, Jewel, ‘NSYNC and more – in addition to songs from the film's iconic soundtrack such as "Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve and “Colorblind” by Counting Crows.

CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE ‘90s MUSICAL debuted at The Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Angeles in 2015, where it ran for 38 sold-out performances, before being remounted for a second sold-out run at LA’s Prospect Theatre in November 2016. In February 2017, the musical played a sold-out “pop-up” engagement at (le) Poisson Rouge and returned in November 2017 to play a successful twenty-one-week engagement at the downtown NYC nightspot before its final performance on April 8, 2018.

CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE ‘90s MUSICAL was created by Jordan Ross (“The Royals”), Lindsey Rosin and Roger Kumble (“Cruel Intentions”) with original direction by Lindsey Rosin (The Unauthorized OC Musical), Kenneth Ferrone (“RENT Live!”) is the tour director. The production features Choreography by Jennifer Weber (West End: & Juliet), Set Design by Jason Sherwood (“RENT Live!”), Costume Design by Tilly Grimes (Small Mouth Sounds), Lighting Design by Jeanette Yew (The Idiot), and Sound Design by Matt Kraus (Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony).

The CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE ‘90s MUSICAL national tour is produced by Eva Price, Sucker Love Productions, Marty Bowen, Neal Moritz, Hunter Arnold, Blood Orange Pictures, Mark Lonow & Joanne Astrow, Tom McGrath, Rachel Weinstein and Sara Beth Zivitz.

Tuesdays at 7:30PM 
Wednesdays 7:30PM
Thursdays at 7:30PM 
Fridays at 7:30PM 
Saturdays at 2PM and 8PM
Sundays at 2PM and 7:30PM

Individual tickets are on sale and range in price from $35-$72 with a select number of premium tickets available. Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710 or emailing  For more information, visit 

Broadway In Chicago was created in July 2000 and over the past 19 years has grown to be one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country.  A Nederlander Presentation, Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining more than 1.7 million people annually in five theatres. Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop including the Cadillac Palace Theatre, CIBC Theatre, James M. Nederlander Theatre, and just off the Magnificent Mile, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place and presenting Broadway shows at the Auditorium Theatre.

Broadway In Chicago proudly celebrates 2019 as the Year of Chicago Theatre.

For more information, visit

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


John Battagliese (Greg McConnell) Credits include: Las Vegas: BAZ: Starcrossed Love (Romeo, The Palazzo Theater); Regional: Hairspray (Link Larkin, The MUNY) Have You Met Miss Jones? (Jack Cassidy, The New Theater), Grumpy Old Men (Bo, Ogunquit Playhouse); Proud CCM 2016 grad.

Richard Crandle (Ronald Clifford) National Tour: Hairspray; Australia: Kinky Boots; Upcoming: Little Richard in Rock and Roll Man (Colonial Theatre).

Jeffrey Kringer (Sebastian Valmont) Regional: The Fingerlakes Musical Theatre Festival, The Palace Theater (NH), The Axelrod Performing Arts Center, The Texas Shakespeare Festival, Clear Space Theatre Company. Originally from Upstate New York, Jeffrey is a proud graduate of Fredonia State University with a BFA in Musical Theatre.

Nicole Medoro (Female Understudy) Recent credits: This Ain’t No Disco (Atlantic Theater Co.) Broadway: The Illusionists. Brooklynettes (NBA). Performances with Madonna, Nicki Minaj and Hailee Steinfeld. Appearances on “The Tonight Show,” “SNL,” “Last Week Tonight,” and Nickelodeon. A recording artist, known as Nella Cole with music available everywhere.

Dara Orland (Mrs. Bunny Caldwell) Regional credits include Babette/Dance Capt. (Beauty and the Beast), Mayzie Le Bird (Seussical), Graziella (West Side Story), The Little Mermaid (Disenchanted), Tina (Sister Act), Ensemble u/s Ms. Fleming and Dance Captain (Heathers: The Musical). She most recently appeared in the National Tour of Cirque Dreams Holidaze as the Angel. Dara holds a BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her choreography has been featured Regionally, Off-Broadway, and Internationally at the National Theatre of Abu Dhabi.

Aramie Payton (Male Understudy) Recent credits: The Scottsboro Boys (Signature Theatre); Dreamgirls Korean Tour; Flashdance the Musical National Tour; Mamma Mia! (Marriott Theatre); Hairspray (Starlight Theatre); A Chorus Line (Gallery Players); “Nickelodeon’s Dance Battle Playlist” Winner.

Taylor Pearlstein (Kathryn Merteuil) Recent credits: Flashdance (Gateway), and as Hodel in Fiddler (Arizona Theatre Company). Taylor performs her music around NYC, and her debut album, When the Birds Wake You Up is available on all streaming platforms. She is a BFA graduate from the University of Arizona.

Brooke Singer (Cecile Caldwell) Off-Broadway: The Great Pie Robbery (The Elektra Theatre). Regional: Grumpy Old Men The Musical (Karla, Ogunquit Playhouse) Hair (Crissy), Fiddler on the Roof (Chava, Paramount Theatre) Spring Awakening (True West Award Best Actress in a Musical, Wendla). Tangled The Musical (Disney Cruise Line) Disney Dreams (Belle, DCL) 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Olive) World Premier of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (Young Baby Jane, Theatre Under the Stars).

Betsy Stewart (Annette Hargrove) Regional: October Sky (Marriott Theatre and The Old Globe), Spring Awakening (Marriott Theatre), Godspell (Marriott Theatre). NYC: Discount Ghost Stories (Joe's Pub and Ars Nova). Betsy is a proud Northwestern graduate, AEA member, and Iowa native.

David Wright (Blaine Tuttle) LABS: Becoming Nancy. National Tour: R&H Cinderella. Regional: Beauty & the Beast (NSMT), Newsies (Marriott Lincolnshire).


INCOMING: FLIPPER With David Yow (the Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid) and Rachel Thoele (Mud Women, Frightwig)

Chi, IL Live Shows on our radar
6/28 - Chicago, IL - Reggie’s




Original members, Ted Falconi and Steve DePace will be joined by David Yow (the Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid) and Rachel Thoele (Mud Women, Frightwig)

Seminal punk band Flipper are celebrating 40 years of being a band this year with a North American tour to be followed by dates in the UK and Europe. The shows kick off on April 12 in Los Angeles at the Regent Theater. Further, Flipper will support Killing Joke for their Punk Rock Bowling Festival show on May 24 at Las Vegas’ DLVEC 3rd St. Stage. All dates are listed below. 

Original members, Ted Falconi and Steve DePace will be joined by David Yow (the Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid) and Rachel Thoele (Mud Women, Frightwig). Further, along the way Flipper will be inviting special guests to join them on stage. The band also has plans to head into the studio with various musicians along the tour. More details as they confirm!

Rolling Stone included Flipper’s 1982 debut album Album - Generic Flipper in their list of “40 Greatest Punk Albums of All Time” and of the album’s “hit” song “Sex Bomb” Stereogum has noted, “what looks on paper like the most annoying song on the planet ends up sounding infectious beyond the sum of its parts.” SF Weekly dubbed them “easily the most influential” band to rise out of the “vibrant San Francisco punk scene” and Henry Rollins has described them as “heavier than anything.”

Flipper formed in 1979 by former members of San Francisco punk bands Negative Trend, Sleepers and SST/Rad Command. Instead of following the pack with “loud and fast” they instead opted for slow dirges that Black Flag would emulate a few years later. Flipper would go on to also heavily influence the likes of Nirvana (Kurt Cobain used to wear a DIY Flipper t-shirt) and the Melvins a decade later. The lineup has always included DePace and Falconi, and long time vocalist Bruce Loose, who recently retired due to a spinal cord injury. Yow joined the band on their last tour and Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic played and recorded with them from 2006-2009. Flipper has released 4 studio albums, 5 live albums and four singles. 

Flipper was one of the most visceral bands in rock 'n' roll, heavily distorted punk-rock stripped to its grinning skull, slowed down enough to make your skin crawl, as antagonistic as it could possibly manage, and its shows in the early and mid-'80s were among the most erratic and enervating imaginable, no two alike.  The Los Angeles Times  

4/12 - Los Angeles, CA - Regent Theater
4/13 - Long Beach, CA - Alex’s Bar
4/14 - San Diego, CA - Casbah
5/24 - Los Vegas, NV - Punk Rock Bowling *
6/6 - Portland, OR - Bossanova
6/7 - Vancouver, BC - Astoria
6/8 - Seattle, WA - El Corazon
6/27 - Indianapolis, IN - Melody Inn
6/28 - Chicago, IL - Reggie’s
6/29 - St. Louis, MO - Fu Bar
7/11 - San Jose, CA - The Ritz
7/12 - Sacramento, CA - Blue Lamp
7/13 - San Francisco, CA - GAMH
7/26 - Ventura, CA - Ventura Theatre

* = w/ Killing Joke

Classic” photo of Flipper by Vince Anton L-R back Ted Falconi, Will Shatter, Steve DePace. Bruce Loose in front

Monday, March 11, 2019

OPENING: NEW She the People: The Resistance Continues at Second City

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Revamped She the People Re-Conquers UP Comedy Club at The Second City

I'll be ChiILin' with Chi, IL's infamous Second City for the relaunch of The Second City's She The People: The Resistance Continues on March 14th, so check back soon for my full review. She The People is one of my favorite Second City shows to date and I can't wait to see the new material they've added. The women of She the People are breaking ceilings and taking names. If you've heard the old cliche that feminists are humorless, you'll never believe it again. This show is fierce, funny and unapologetically feminist. You'll never look at advertising, pop culture, and dating quite the same way again. Don't miss this! 

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara (AKA: ChiIL Mama) and Chicago artist, Kathy Blankley Roman, ChiILin' at the press opening of Chi, IL's She The People, January 2018.

The Second City’s knockout show She the People: The Resistance Continues is electrifying UP Comedy Club with a refreshed name, updated material, new cast members, and all of its signature witty, empowering bite. The all-female, all-funny show directed by Carly Heffernan welcomes Mary Catherine Curran, Sayjal Joshi, and Kaye Winks who join original cast members Carisa Barreca, Alex Bellisle, and Katie Caussin.

“The Second City has never been lacking for new material, and just like entertainment juggernaut Blue Man Group or the most recent tour of Miss Saigon, art must evolve to stay true and relevant and inspiring to its audience,” said Second City CEO and Executive Producer Andrew Alexander. “People coming back to She the People for the second or third time will be delighted to see that about half of the show is brand new.”

"Our goal is, and always has been, to satirize the woes of being a woman in this wild world while also empowering the audience to take a stand and make real change. The show bounces around everything our writing team knows are hot button topics these days--dating, body positivity, motherhood, and what might prove to be the most important election of our lifetime. It's a call to action bundled up inside a party, and we're all proud to be part of it." says director and head writer Carly Heffernan.

She the People first hit The Second City in September 2017. After its smash run in UP Comedy Club, the show brought its tour-de-female-force to Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC, where it earned a Helen Hayes award nomination and became the highest grossing show in the theatre’s history. “It’s a fast-paced, wild ride of a show that throws off sparks,” said MD Theatre Guide. DC Metro called the show “a dip into the often hilariously unbelievable or absurd situations that women– queer women, women of color, plus-sized women– find themselves in on a daily basis, and it does so not just playfully, but with a deep intelligence and purpose that never veers into the pedantic.”

She the People was originally written by Carisa Barreca, Alex Bellisle, Marla Caceres, Katie Caussin, Carly Heffernan, Maria Randazzo, Rashawn Nadine Scott, Tien Tran, Kimberly Michelle Vaughn, and Lauren Walker. Additional material for the re-launched production was written by Carisa Barreca, Alex Bellisle, Katie Caussin, Mary Catherine Curran, Carly Heffernan, Alexis J. Roston, and Kaye Winks.  Other team members include Mary Mahoney (Music Director/Original Music/Sound Designer), Abby Beggs (Lighting Designer), and Jaci Entwisle (Stage Manager).

She the People plays in The Second City’s UP Comedy Club (230 West North Avenue). Tickets start at $31.00 and are available by phone at 312-337-3992 or online at

The show schedule is as follows:

Thursdays @ 8:00pm
Fridays @ 8:00pm
Saturdays @ 8:00pm
Sundays @ 7:00pm

About the Artists
CARISA BARRECA (Ensemble/Assistant Director/Choreographer) is thrilled to be a part of She the People. She is an alumna of The Second City's e.t.c. stage, where she wrote and performed in three critically acclaimed revues. She has had the honor of performing at Lyric Opera of Chicago
with Sir Patrick Stewart and Renée Fleming in The Second City's Guide to the Opera, at Goodman Theatre and the Kennedy Center with Twist Your Dickens and wrote and performed in Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and The Second City's collaboration The Art of Falling. Follow her @Cinderisa.

ALEX BELLISLE (Ensemble) is thrilled to be working on She the People! A Chicago-based actress and comedian, Alex is one-half of the improv and sketch duo Girlish, which has performed its self-titled show around the country, including at the New York International Fringe Festival. Other credits include The Best of The Second City, Feminine Wilds, PANTS!, No Selfie Control and Just Being Honest. Alex can be seen performing with various improv groups around Chicago, including Gone Gone at The iO Theater.

KATIE CAUSSIN (Ensemble) is originally from Springfield, VA, and received her degree in Theater from Radford University. She has been an actor in Chicago for over 20 years, many of them with The Second City as part of their Touring Company and Theatricals shows. Most recently, she returned from a month-long run of She the People at the Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington, D.C.  Previously, she appeared as Mrs. Cratchit in Twist Your Dickens at Goodman Theater and toured around the US in The Realish Housewives of (Your City Here). Katie has also performed with Second City for the USO in the Balkans and at both the iO and Annoyance theaters in Chicago. On camera, Katie has appeared in an episode of Chicago Justice on NBC and has been featured on the Onion Network’s Special Report webseries.

MARY CATHERINE CURRAN (Ensemble) is so excited to join this cast of badass women! MC studied Theatre Performance at the University of Maryland and trained at The Second City Conservatory and iO Theater in Chicago. She has improvised, written, performed, and directed shows all over Chicago, at the Annoyance (Steamworks, Bite Size Broadway, Burlesque is More) and iO (Virgin Daiquiri, Lil' Tooties, One Woman Space Jam). MC just finished the debut run of The Second City's Love Factually at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Follow @itismarycatherine on Insta and @yomarycatherine on Twitter for great content.

SAYJAL JOSHI (Ensemble) hails from North Carolina where she earned her BA in theater from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and co-founded Greensboro’s first improv comedy club, The Idiot Box. For sixteen years, she has been writing, performing, and teaching theater, sketch, improv, film, guitar comedy, and stand-up all over the universe. Credits include The Second City e.t.c., the Kennedy Center, Goodman Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Zanie’s Comedy Club, The Laugh Factory, The Second City Touring Company, The Annoyance Theater, iO (formally Improv Olympic), ComedySportz, Laugh Out Loud Theater, and the critically acclaimed Asian-American sketch ensemble Stir-Friday Night. Follow her @SayjalJoshi.

KAYE WINKS (Ensemble) is #blessed to be alongside the fabulous ladles of She the People! Kaye trained with the Moscow Art Theater. She recently performed her hit solo show TOKEN to sold-out audiences at The Second City Training Center and toured it to UCB LA, Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, and United Solo Theater Fest In NYC. She is proudly repped by Shirley Hamilton and NV Talent.

CARLY HEFFERNAN (Director/Head Writer) is an award-winning alumna of The Second City
Toronto, where she wrote and performed in four Mainstage revues. She recently co-wrote the hit show The Second City Guide to the Symphony and toured with it across Canada and the United States. She directed the critically acclaimed Second City Toronto Mainstage revue Come What Mayhem!, as well as for The Second City Touring Company and several Norwegian Cruise Line shows. Carly currently writes for Second Jen (City TV), The Irrelevant Show (CBC Radio) and Air Farce Canada 150 special (CBC).

MARY MAHONEY (Music Director/Original Music/Sound Design) is thrilled to be working with the talented women of She the People. Mary has worked as a Musical Director for sketch and improv comedy all over the continent while touring with Second City Theatricals aboard the Norwegian Dawn and with The Second City Touring Company. A former music faculty member of Western Washington University, she is now a proud faculty member at The Second City Training Center.

ABBY BEGGS (Lighting Design) is excited to be joining The Second City on this show. When she's not in the booth at The Second City, she can be found stage managing, directing, and composing music for theater around town. Stage management credits include: L’enfant et les Sortilèges, L’incoronazione di Poppea (Roosevelt University), The Out of Tooners (Off-Color Theatre Company}, Gallo (Guerilla Opera), Blue Window (Brown Box Theatre Project), The Scene, Good People, and Barefoot in the Park (Dorset Theatre Festival), among others.

JACI ENTWISLE (Stage Manager) is excited to return to Second City for She the People, having
previously worked on #DateMe in UP Comedy Club, as well as on stage management teams in
Sonoma (Transcendence Theatre Company), Philadelphia (Quintessence Theatre Group) and
Chicago (Goodman Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, A Red Orchid Theatre, American Blues Theater).

About The Second City
The Second City is the leading brand in improv-based sketch comedy. With theatres and training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood, 11 full time touring ensembles, thriving corporate communications and theatricals divisions as well as television and film operations, The Second City has been called "A Comedy Empire" by The New York Times. The Second City has a current student body of 3,500 per week and is the largest school of improvisation and sketch comedy in the world.

REVIEW: Lyric Opera’s Ariodante by Handel Now Playing at Lyric Opera of Chicago Through March 17, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Now Playing at Lyric Opera of Chicago
Through March 17
by George Frideric Handel

Sung in Italian with projected English translations

Guest Review
By Catherine Hellmann

At first, I thought there was a mistake in the program, or my eyes are bad (which they are, but I doubted the Lyric had a misprint…). George Frideric Handel’s Ariodante was first performed at Covent Garden in London on January 8, 1735 and “First performed by Lyric Opera of Chicago on March 2, 2019.” 1735? 2019? Huh?? How did it take 284 years (I had to do the subtracting on a calculator...I teach English, not math…) for the Lyric to present this glorious music? What a treasure has been neglected! Well, at last it is here in our beloved city, so “treat yo’self” (thanks, Tom Haverford and Donna on Parks and Rec!) by going to see it while it lasts. (and we hope it won’t be another nearly three centuries to return.)

The plot is a little kooky and quite like Shakespeare. I am going to save myself the mental gymnastics by quoting the Lyric press release which summarizes the storyline beautifully:

“The original plot of Ariodante is full of Shakespearean twists, disguises, mistaken identities, wrenching misunderstandings, and eventual reconciliation (not unlike Much Ado About Nothing). Ginevra and Ariodante love each other and are about to be wed with the blessing of her father, the King of Scotland. Polinesso covets Ginevra and uses her lady-in-waiting, Dalinda (who loves Polinesso), to trick Ariodante into believing Ginevra is unfaithful and provoke his apparent suicide. Ariodante’s brother Lurcanio, meanwhile, loves and is shunned by Dalinda, and blames Ginevra for his sibling’s seeming demise. Eventually Ariodante turns up alive, Polinesso is vanquished, and the “right” couples are united.”

My first reaction was, ”So they both love each other, and her father APPROVES? What is the problem here?” Ha ha ha. Oh, silly me. Enter the super-creepy Polinesso, played by astounding British countertenor Iestyn Davies, to stir up trouble. (In a previous review for ChiIL Live Shows on The Scarlet Ibis for Chicago Opera Theater, I referred to countertenors as “unicorns.” You swear you are hearing a woman singing a “trouser role” dressed as a man...which in this opera is the case with the equally amazing Alice Coote, as future-husband-to-Ginerva, Ariodante. But it is a guy with a super-high voice. It’s a little freaky.) Polinesso is dressed in a priest’s black cassock with a biker look of jeans, a denim jacket, and sporting tattoos underneath his “holiness.” It is an icky transition, especially when witnessing how he abuses Dalinda; I couldn’t help cringing thinking of the priest abuse scandals. Blek. (One really hilarious highlight of the evening is that Davies received “boos” and hisses from the audience at curtain call, not for his performance being poor, but quite the opposite, because he rocked playing a chilling villain. I loved the Lyric audience in that moment!)

My teenagers have to keep me educated of the latest terms on sexual identity (I swear this ties into my review…) like “cis-gender,”  “trans,” and foreign concepts like “preferred pronouns.” But think about the gender fluid-ness of Handel’s opera from 1735. The counter-tenor is a man who sings like a woman, and the title character is a woman dressed as a guy (who looks like a lesbian in this production). When the opera premiered, there were still castrati around, a horrifying procedure performed deliberately before puberty to keep the boys’ voices high. Talk about sacrifice for one’s art! Wow. Radical.

Part of Polinesso’s evil plan is to plant “evidence” of nude male drawings in Ginerva’s bedroom, like she was sketching her new paramour. I don’t know of any straight woman when confronted with that kind of virility who would waste her time drawing...and if he is hung like that, I mused, how does he sing so high??

The most “manly” character is the handsome Kyle Ketelsen as the King of Scotland who is Ginerva’s father. It takes great strength to look that good in a kilt while singing so sweetly mourning the supposed death of his future son-in-law.

Also deserving special recognition is American soprano Heidi Stober as the what-the-hell-is-she-thinking-liking-that-asshole-Polinesso? Dalinda. We have all known friends who like someone who is no good for them, and she is delusional about Polinesso’s sinister feelings for her. Girlfriend, run away from him while you still can! She looks devastated after he tricks her, but she still sings beautifully about how she likes him anyway. Wtf…

At nearly four hours long, this opera is not for the faint-hearted. However, the singing is so superb, and I love harpsichord with recitative; the opera does not feel as long as other operas that are shorter. Handel could have easily cut the singing down by an hour if he left out the impressive vocal theatrics. Eric Ferring as Ariodante’s brother Lurcanio has a musical passage where one word lasts about ten bars of music; I counted thirty-six quick notes for one syllable. But the singers are vocal athletes in fine form, and the arias are just a joy to hear. The virtuosity of the singers is half the fun.  

The modernized staging sets the opera in the 1970’s era of bad fashion. The chorus members wear ghastly sweaters and a mismash of clothing taken from my sister’s high school yearbook. It was ugly then and does not need a revival. Another overhaul was to drop the ballet dances as intended in the original production and substitute with puppets representing the lovebirds. The puppets are mesmerizing and predict the futures of the characters. When the marriage is anticipated, Ariodante and Ginerva are seen getting married and climbing into bed. (Puppet sex! Is this Avenue Q?) Four babies soon follow, which elicited chuckles from the audience. When Ginerva is believed to have been unfaithful, her puppet is portrayed as a common whore, stripped down, dressed in a plastic bag with high red heels, walking the strip and dancing on a pole. The effect is eerily powerful to show her fall from grace.

Brenda Rae, making her Lyric debut as Ginerva, gets to show off her acting and singing talents; she excels at both. Ginerva begins the opera by considering how she can make her “sparkling and seductive charm more appealing to her beloved.” Hmmm...feminist icon, she is not. But by the end, the wrongful accusations from her betrothed and her self-righteous father send her on a different path. Ginerva doesn’t need a man. She’s got a Handel on this. ;-)

Catherine Hellmann is a feminist who loves lipstick, likes gardening but lives in a condo, and hates the cold but adores Chicago. But there are no contradictions in her complete love for theater, books, and her children. 

**This production includes mature themes**

Provocative Baroque drama about abuse and complicity
in a bold, updated staging 

New coproduction and Lyric premiere of Handel’s masterpiece

The Lyric Opera of Chicago premiere of George Frideric Handel’s Baroque masterpiece Ariodante opens Saturday, March 2 at 7:30pm in a provocative new coproduction. There are six performances March 2 through March 17 at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago. Tickets start at $39, and are available now at or at 312-827-5600. 


Sometimes opera takes you to completely unexpected, dramatically powerful places.

That’s certainly the case with the Lyric premiere of Handel’s Ariodante, on multiple levels. Some of its thrilling arias might be familiar from concerts or recordings, but the full Baroque masterpiece is terra incognita for many (even though it was wildly popular when Handel, the German expat living in London, was composing multiple Italian operas). Still, there is inviting familiarity in the bouncing beat and virtuoso vocal writing in this new-to-Lyric opera.

The original plot of Ariodante is full of Shakespearean twists, disguises, mistaken identities, wrenching misunderstandings, and eventual reconciliation (not unlike Much Ado About Nothing). Ginevra and Ariodante love each other and are about to be wed with the blessing of her father, the King of Scotland. Polinesso covets Ginevra and uses her lady-in-waiting, Dalinda (who loves Polinesso), to trick Ariodante into believing Ginevra is unfaithful and provoke his apparent suicide. Ariodante’s brother Lurcanio, meanwhile, loves and is shunned by Dalinda, and blames Ginevra for his sibling’s seeming demise. Eventually Ariodante turns up alive, Polinesso is vanquished, and the “right” couples are united. 

Richard Jones’s production moves the story from medieval times to an isolated, religiously fundamentalist Scottish island in the 1970s. Polinesso is an outsider from the mainland who penetrates this closed community in preacher’s clothes, wreaking terrible havoc on several relationships and the fabric of the village itself through acts of abuse and manipulation. Rather than ending with the reconciliation and redemption traditional in 18th-century opera, this production of Ariodante takes an intriguing detour that will resonate with contemporary audiences.

Puppets representing Ginevra and Ariodante pantomime scenes that reflect the community’s expectations and misperceptions of the central couple in this production, replacing ballet sequences used to close each act in the original opera.

Baroque opera “is radical theater,” says Anthony Freud. “Ariodante deals with abuse and complicity.” Lyric’s general director calls this production of Ariodante “a clear, immediate, powerful telling of the story that will defy preconceptions about Handel’s Baroque formality. Our production reflects many contemporary issues. Handel’s masterpiece may be over 280 years old, but is startling in its topicality and intensity.”

The creative team drew inspiration for this production of Ariodante from the dark indie film Breaking the Waves, and also the plays of Strindberg and Ibsen. There are similarities to Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, in which an innocent young woman in Appalachia is seduced by an itinerant preacher. There are also traces of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes in the community turning against one of its own. 

Lyric’s splendid cast inhabits the complex characters while singing the daunting score to great effect. Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote takes on the title role, with soprano Brenda Rae (Lyric debut) as Ariodante’s betrothed, Ginevra. Soprano Heidi Stober portrays the vulnerable Dalinda, manipulated by the evil Polinesso, played by countertenor Iestyn Davies. Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen is the King of Scotland. Tenor Eric Ferring portrays Lurcanio.  and tenor Josh Lovell portrays Odoardo (the latter two are Ryan Opera Center artists). 

Acclaimed Baroque specialist Harry Bicket conducts, and Benjamin Davis (Lyric debut) is revival director. The production is designed by ULTZ (Lyric debut), with lighting by Mimi Jordan Sherin. Michael Black is chorus master, Lucy Burge is choreographer, Finn Caldwell is puppetry director and designer, and Nick Barnes is puppetry designer (the latter three are Lyric debuts).  

Don't miss your chance to experience this critically-acclaimed premiere — view the trailer here and find out for yourself why critics are praising its "tight, compelling story and rich, well-developed characters" (Chicago Sun-Times).

In a small town rife with rumors, who can you trust? The highly anticipated U.S. premiere co-production of Handel's Ariodante opened Saturday night and critics are raving. With only five more performances, Ariodante must close March 17. See what people are saying about this Lyric premiere:

"Vocally, visually and dramatically arresting"
"Clarity and rhythmic verve from the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus"
"An opera penned nearly three centuries ago can resonate profoundly with modern times, when staged as tellingly as this"
"★ ★ ★ ★" (out of four) 
–Chicago Tribune

"Unexpected and intriguing"
"The casting for this production could hardly have been better"
"Many vocal high points"
"★ ★ ★ ½" (out of four)
–Chicago Sun-Times

"Dazzling vocal pyrotechnics"
"A daunting tour de force"
–Stage and Cinema

What happens when someone your town trusts is actually the villain? For Ginevra and her beloved Ariodante, things may never be the same. Lyric is proud to produce the company premiere of this important Baroque masterpiece from the composer of Messiah which marries stunning vocalism and riveting drama. 

Making its U.S. debut, this critically-acclaimed Lyric coproduction from Director Richard Jones updates the story to 1970s Scotland, where a close-knit, fundamentalist community provides the thought-provoking backdrop. The Toronto Globe and Mail says, "The decisions Jones has made to update and deepen the resonances of the opera work beautifully both to preserve the integrity of the original and add to it touches and textures that only a modern audience can appreciate…If you needed one example to demonstrate why modern staging and perfectly realized music from the past need each other, this was it." 

Don't miss this highly anticipated Lyric premiere that critics are calling "dramatically complex... deliciously interesting" – (The Toronto Star). 

Handel’s Baroque masterpiece is currently playing Lyric, and there are so many reasons you can’t miss it. Here are just a few: 

1. It’s a Lyric premiere. Believe it or not, this rare gem by the composer of the beloved Messiah has never been performed on Lyric’s stage.

2. The cast is truly world-class. Our dream team of opera superstars have voices ideally suited to bring Ariodante to life.

3. It's the U.S. premiere of a production that earned rave reviews. TheToronto Star called it "deliciously interesting" and the National Post praised its "inspired and meticulous staging."

4. Handel’s music is exhilarating. You will fall in love with a score that exudes both passion and elegance.

5. It's not just great music, it's great theater. This story of true love plagued by obstacles in a small town is just as universal today as it was when the opera first premiered.

Save your seats today for Ariodante, on stage March 2-17, and experience this delightful and innovative production for yourself.

Maurice Jones To Play Title Role in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Hamlet

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces updated casting for
Maurice Jones steps into title role

Joins company featuring: Karen Aldridge, Timothy Decker, Larry Yando, Sean Allan Krill, Paul Deo, Jr., Rachel Nicks, Mike Nussbaum, Greg Vinkler, Kevin Gudahl, Alex Goodrich, Samuel Taylor, Sarah Chalcroft, and Callie Johnson

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces that Maurice Jones has stepped into the title role of the Theater’s upcoming production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, staged by Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, in the Courtyard Theater, April 17–June 9, 2019. 

Most recently appearing on Broadway in The Lifespan of a Fact opposite Daniel Radcliffe, Jones is an accomplished classical performer whose Broadway credits include Saint Joan staged by Tony Award-winner Daniel Sullivan, The Cherry Orchard featuring Diane Lane, Romeo and Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, and Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington—as well as credits at the Public Theater and Roundabout Theatre Company. The role of Hamlet was originally to be played by Raúl Esparza who had to withdraw from the production due to scheduling conflicts.

Joining Jones in the Hamlet company are Karen Aldridge (Gertrude), Timothy Decker (Claudius), Larry Yando (Polonius), Sean Allan Krill (Horatio), Paul Deo, Jr. (Laertes), Rachel Nicks (Ophelia), Mike Nussbaum (Gravedigger), Greg Vinkler (Gravedigger/Player King), Kevin Gudahl (Osric), Alex Goodrich (Rosencrantz), Samuel Taylor (Guildenstern), Sarah Chalcroft (Voltemand/Player Queen), Callie Johnson (Reynalda), and Drew Shirley (Barnardo), as well as ensemble members Al'Jaleel McGhee and Sam Pearson.

Cast of Hamlet

Celebrated actress Karen Aldridge takes on the role of Gertrude, queen of Denmark. In addition to numerous credits with Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre, and Chicago Shakespeare, Aldridge originated the role of Tamyra in Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer-Prize-nominated Man from Nebraska at Steppenwolf Theatre, as well as Mrs. Phelps in the Broadway production of Matilda the Musical. She also starred in the international tours of Battlefield and Le Costume, both directed by the legendary Peter Brook. Timothy Decker portrays Hamlet’s uncle and adversary Claudius. Decker has appeared onstage at Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre, and American Blues Theatre, where he garnered the Jeff Award for his performance in Toys in the Attic. He notably completed a four-year run with 1,600 performances as Sam Philips in Million Dollar Quartet at the Apollo Theatre. In his twenty-fifth Chicago Shakespeare production, Larry Yando performs the role of Polonius. The five-time Jeff Award-winner—named “Best Actor in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine—is a mainstay on Chicago stages, including eleven seasons as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. Veteran of the National Tour of The Lion King, Yando recently concluded a critically acclaimed European tour of Peter Brook’s Battlefield.

Sean Allan Krill portrays Hamlet’s close friend and confidante Horatio. Krill debuted on Broadway as Sam Carmichael in Mamma Mia!, a role which he reprised in the production’s North American tour; additional Broadway credits include On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Honeymoon in Vegas. He recently appeared in American Repertory Theater’s world premiere production of the Alanis Morrissett musical Jagged Little Pill, which is headed to Broadway in Fall 2019. Appearing as Laertes is Paul Deo, Jr., who has previously performed in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Troilus and Cressida, as well as Shakespeare Theater Company’s Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet. Rachel Nicks takes on the role of Ophelia. Nicks has appeared Off-Broadway in Final Follies, War, And I and Silence, and The Good Negro, as well as in productions with McCarter Theatre and The Old Globe.

Portraying the Gravediggers are Mike Nussbaum and Greg Vinkler. A seven-time Jeff Award-winner, Nussbaum’s illustrious career at Chicago Shakespeare has included notable performances in Henry VIII, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, and Follies. The Sarah Siddons Society honoree starred in Peter Brook’s international touring production of The Cherry Orchard, as well as in the original Broadway productions of David Mamet’s American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross. Now 95 years old, Nussbaum is hailed “the oldest working actor in the United States.” Vinkler has appeared in nearly forty Chicago Shakespeare productions, garnering Jeff Awards for his performances in King Lear, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night. He made his Broadway debut in the 2009 revival of West Side Story, and has appeared regionally with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Peninsula Players Theatre, where he also serves as artistic director—and in Chicago with Writers Theatre, Court Theatre and Goodman Theatre. Multiple Jeff Award-winner Kevin Gudahl is Osric. A veteran of more than forty Chicago Shakespeare productions, Gudahl has also appeared onstage at Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and Writers Theatre, in addition to five seasons with the Stratford Festival.

As Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Alex Goodrich and Samuel Taylor, respectively. Goodrich has previously appeared on Chicago Shakespeare’s stages in Love’s Labor’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Taming of the Shrew. Goodrich frequently appears at Northlight Theatre and Marriott Theatre, where his performance in the world premiere musical Hero earned him a Jeff Award. Taylor returns to Chicago Shakespeare after memorable performances in Macbeth, Henry V, Julius Caesar, The School for Lies, and The Feast: an Intimate Tempest. His numerous Shakespeare credentials include teaching courses on the playwright at the University of Chicago and co-founding the Back Room Shakespeare Project.

Sarah Chalcroft returns to Chicago Shakespeare after appearing in King Charles III to perform the roles of Voltemand and the Player Queen. Playing Reynalda is Callie Johnson, who garnered a Jeff Award for her performance in Porchlight Music Theatre’s Pal Joey and has also appeared at Drury Lane Theatre and Marriott Theatre.

As a leading director of Shakespeare internationally renowned for her populist and dynamic interpretations, Barbara Gaines has staged more than sixty productions at Chicago Shakespeare throughout her distinguished career, garnering the prestigious Honorary OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best Production (Hamlet, Cymbeline, King Lear, and The Comedy of Errors), and for Best Director (Cymbeline, King Lear and The Comedy of Errors). Joining Gaines on the Hamlet creative team are Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Costume Designer Susan E. Mickey, Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel, Sound Designer Lindsay Jones, Projection Designer Mike Tutaj, Wig and Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie, and Fight Choreographer Matt Hawkins. Tyrone Phillips is the production’s Associate Director.

For more information, visit

Hamlet is presented in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater, April 17–June 9, 2019. Single tickets ($48–$88) are on sale now. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

Chicago Shakespeare strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Accessible performances for Hamlet include:

Audio-description – Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. with optional touch tour at 12:00 p.m.

ASL Duo-interpretation – Friday, May 31, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Open-captioning – Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be—a company that defies theatrical category. This Regional Tony Award-winning theater’s year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances—including plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. Chicago Shakespeare is the city’s leading producer of international work, and has toured its own productions across five continents. The Theater’s nationally acclaimed arts in literacy programs support the work of teachers, and bring Shakespeare to life on stage for tens of thousands of students annually. Each summer, the company tours a free professional production to neighborhood parks across Chicago. In 2017 the Theater unveiled The Yard, which, together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs, positions Chicago Shakespeare as Chicago’s most versatile performing arts center.

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