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Sunday, February 10, 2019

OPENING: DOUBT: A PARABLE Via The Gift Theatre at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre February 27 – March 31, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
The Gift Theatre Presents
DOUBT: A PARABLE

By John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Ensemble Member John Gawlik


February 27 – March 31, 2019 
at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre
Presented as a part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series

The Gift Theatre is pleased to launch its 18th season with a revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning drama DOUBT: A PARABLE, presented as a part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series. Directed by Ensemble Member John Gawlik and featuring an all-ensemble cast, DOUBT will play February 27 – March 31, 2019 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at steppenwolf.org through Steppenwolf Audience Services (1650 N. Halsted St.) or by calling (312) 335-1650. 

DOUBT: A PARABLE will feature Ensemble Members Cyd Blakewell*, Jennifer Glasse*, Mary Ann Thebus* and Michael Patrick Thornton*.

In this brilliant and powerful drama, Sister Aloysius, a Bronx school principal, takes matters into her own hands when she suspects the young Father Flynn of improper relations with one of the male students. Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best Play.

The production team for DOUBT: A PARABLE includes Arnel Sancianco (scenic design), Sanja Manakoski (costume design), Mike Durst (lighting design), Matthew Chapman (sound design), Maggie Andersen (dramaturg), David Preis (technical director) and Sarah Luse (production manager).

Cast (in alphabetical order): Cyd Blakewell* (Sister James), Jennifer Glasse* (Mrs. Muller), Mary Ann Thebus* (Sister Aloysius) and Michael Patrick Thornton* (Father Flynn).

Location: Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted St., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Wednesday, February 27 at 8 pm, Thursday, February 28 at 8 pm, Friday, March 1 at 8 pm and Saturday, March 2 at 8 pm


Regular run: Thursday, March 7 – Sunday, March 31, 2019

Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 4 pm & 8 pm; Sundays at 3:30 pm.

Tickets: Previews $35. Regular run $45 – $55. Seniors $25. Students $15. Tickets are currently available at steppenwolf.org, through Steppenwolf Audience Services (1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago) or by calling (312) 335-1650.

*Denotes Gift Theatre ensemble member

 

About the Artists
John Patrick Shanley (Playwright) is the author of numerous plays, including Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Dirty Story, Four Dogs and a Bone, Psychopathia Sexualis, Sailor’s Song, Savage in Limbo and Where’s My Money?. He has written extensively for TV and film, and his credits include the teleplay for Live from Baghdad and screenplays for Congo, Alive, Five Corners, Joe Versus the Volcano (which he also directed) and Moonstruck, for which he won an Academy Award for original screenplay.

John Gawlik (Director) is an AEA/SAG actor and director. Favorite acting credits include: the world premiere of David Rabe’s Good For Otto and Broadsword with The Gift Theatre, Bill Sykes in Oliver at Drury Lane, Blizzard ‘67 with Chicago Dramatist, The Lonesome West and Beauty Queen of Lennane with the Gift Theatre and A Skull in Connemara at Northlight. Favorite directing projects include Thinner Than Water and The Royal Society of Antarctica for The Gift Theatre and the Chicago Premiere of When the Rain Stops Falling at Circle Theater (Jeff Award for Director and Production). He is an ensemble member of The Gift Theater.

About The Gift Theatre
Since 2001 and over 70 productions, The Gift Theatre has pioneered the frontiers of the American theatre via the most intimate professional Equity theatre in the country, leading to national acclaim and a cultural revolution on Chicago’s northwest side.

The Gift’s 18th season includes a revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning drama Doubt: A Parable, directed by Ensemble Member John Gawlik (February 27 – March 31); the world premiere of Hansol Jung’s Wolf Play, directed by guest artist Jess McLeod (October 18 – November 24); as well as a soon-to-be announced third production (July 12 – August 18). Season subscriptions are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at www.thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071.

About Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series
Housed primarily in the 1700 Theatre, LookOut is Steppenwolf’s performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form: emerging artists and performance legends, quintessential Chicago companies and young aspiring ensembles, familiar Steppenwolf faces and new friends. Greta Honold and Patrick Zakem are the producers for LookOut, which is presented year-round and announced on an ongoing basis. For more information, visit steppenwolf.org/lookout.

OPENING: World Premiere of 2 UNFORTUNATE 2 TRAVEL at Prop Thrt March 8 – April 15, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Prop Thtr Presents the World Premiere of
2 UNFORTUNATE 2 TRAVEL
A new devised adaptation of
Thomas Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller
Adapated and Directed by Zach Weinberg
Devised by The Ensemble
March 8 – April 15, 2019


Prop Thtr is pleased to continue its 2018-19 season with the world premiere of 2 UNFORTUNATE 2 TRAVEL, a late-night, cabaret-style evening of multi-disciplinary live performances and a biting look at privilege and the things we take for granted. This new devised adaptation of Thomas Nashe’s novella The Unfortunate Traveller is adapted and directed by Zach Weinberg and devised by The Ensemble. 2 UNFORTUNATE 2 TRAVEL will play March 8 – April 15, 2019 at 3502 N. Elston Ave. (near Kedzie and Addison) in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood. Tickets are currently available at www.propthtr.org

The 2 UNFORTUNATE 2 TRAVEL Ensemble cast includes Zoë DePreta, Callie Harlow, Jourdan Lewanda, Isa Ramos, Joseph Ramski, Schanora Wimpie and Taylor Wisham.

It’s a tough time right now. You deserve a vacation. Jack Wilton, self-appointed ally and recent returnee from travelling the world wants to give you one. He has transformed his recent vacation into a variety show depicting his adventures in a range of spectacular and crowd-pleasing styles, with everything from shadow puppetry to a live game show. He’s created a safe space where you can sit back, drink a free beer and enjoy an hour free from any political discussion. Over the course of the evening, the cracks begin to show in Jack’s stories, his conduct and the fabric of reality itself as the performing ensemble of five women work to bring Jack’s stories to life and struggle within both a play and a society that profits off of their silence.

Comments adapter/director Zach Weinberg, “This piece is an attempt by a cadre of young artists to have it all; to dive into a deeply collaborative process and create something at once personal and political, entertaining and troubling, engaging and alienating, challenging the established social order and revealing the futility in fighting it, rigidly structured and terrifyingly loose. In an era where we have been forced into political obsession and are desperate both to constantly fight for our rights and find some relief from the onslaught of bad news, I'm driven to create a piece of art that captures and exploits that duality.”

Artistic Director Olivia Lilley adds, “As the next show in my first season as Prop Artistic Director, I am so proud to introduce the cerebral and whimsical theatrical imagination of director/deviser Zach Weinberg and his devising ensemble. 2 Unfortunate 2 Travel promises to take us down a rabbit hole of the burning questions of our times, to entertain and to provoke hours of discussion afterwards.”

Cast: Zoë DePreta, Callie Harlow, Jourdan Lewanda, Isa Ramos, Joseph Ramski, Schanora Wimpie and Taylor Wisham.

Location: Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Friday, March 8 at 9 pm and Saturday, March 9 at 9 pm

Regular Run: Friday, March 15 – Monday, April 15, 2019
Curtain Times: Mondays at 8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 9 pm
Tickets: Previews: Pay-what-you-can. Regular run: $20. Industry $150 Student, group discounts available. Tickets are currently available at www.propthtr.org.

About the Playwright/Director

Zach Weinberg is a Chicago-based theater director, adaptor and administrator. He is interested in the creation of new, non-traditional works and finding the perfect medium for the message. Zach is a company member and grant writer at Red Tape Theatre, and a graduate of Oberlin College. Selected theatrical work includes serving as a Directing Apprentice with the late Redmoon Theatre, participating in the 2016 Director's Haven at Haven Theatre and premiering two original adaptations at Curious Theatre Branch's Rhinofest: Love in a Maze ('17) and MAY DAY ('18).

About The Prop Thtr
Prop Thtr strives to redefine what theatre is for the 21st century. Prop Thtr produces and incubates new work, which includes new plays, devised work, director-driven re-imaginings of classics, adaptations, and other alternative forms. Prop Thtr works with makers of all ages, races, gender identities, abilities, and backgrounds. In the spirit of Chicago storefront theatre, Prop Thtr is committed to ongoing relationships with individuals and organizations that create work in diverse and inclusive spaces. We break open how we make, what we are making, and who is making.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

ART BEAT: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Presents Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera February 23 to May 5, 2019

Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera
a major survey of the work of Laurie Simmons

Image credit: Laurie Simmons, Big Camera, Little Camera, 1976. Collection of the artist. Photo courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, © Laurie Simmons.

I'll be out for the press opening, February 22nd, so check back soon for my recap. As a photographer, feminist, and daily creator of social media content, this exhibit particularly fascinates me. I'm also intrigued by families full of artists and creatives. Laurie Simmons' husband is painter Carroll Dunham and her children are actress/writer Lena Dunham and writer/activist Cyrus Dunham.

This spring, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera, a major survey of the work of Laurie Simmons. This comprehensive exhibition showcases Simmons's career-long exploration of how image culture creates and perpetuates the myths of our society, and upends traditional ideas about photography as a medium. More than four decades of work by Simmons are on display, with her iconic photographs, sculptures, and films highlighting her importance both historically and as an active contemporary artist. Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera is on view from February 23 to May 5, 2019 and is organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and curated by Senior Curator Andrea Karnes. The Chicago presentation is coordinated by MCA Senior Curator Naomi Beckwith.

Simmons's exploration of archetypal female gender roles, for example, women in domestic settings, is the primary subject of this exhibition and is a topic as poignant today as it was in the late 1970s, when she began to develop her mature style using props and dolls as stand-ins for people and places.
  
The namesake work for this exhibition, Big Camera, Little Camera (1976), shows an actual camera juxtaposed with a miniature one, exemplifying Simmons's technique of manipulating scale. The actual camera in the image was given to Simmons by her father, a dentist who took up photography in his free time. Simmons explains, "I put the two cameras together for scale, and as a metaphor - real life versus fiction. It was also a statement about what I intended to do with the camera." Far from documenting the world as it is, her photographs represent the effects of fiction on reality.

Often isolating the dolls and photographing them situated in tiny, austere settings, in series such as Early Black and White (1976-78), Simmons uses fictional scenes that mirror and unsettle the American dream of prosperity and feminine domesticity. The resulting works turn a critical eye on tropes that dominated the era of her upbringing, including the 1950s housewife and the Wild West cowboy.

After graduating from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 1971, then living in upstate New York and subsequently traveling through Europe while living out of her car, Simmons moved to a loft in the then-low-rent Bowery section of Manhattan. To make a living, she briefly worked as a freelance photographer for a dollhouse miniature company, and in her off hours she pursued her main ambition of becoming an artist. Influenced by her day job, as well as a cache of old toys she discovered at a toy store in the Catskills, Simmons began to photograph dolls and small plastic objects, particularly those from the 1950s, the era of her childhood.

Carefully chosen props, preserved by the artist over the years, are on display, including those used to create the early doll house imagery. This ephemera offers new insight into Simmons's process, revealing her continuing fascination with models and fleshing out her use of color-coding to organize vignettes into cohesive and precise imagery.

Monumental photographs from the series Walking and Lying Objects (1987-91), are on view in the exhibition. This iconic body of work features a variety of legs - from human scale to tiny metal Japanese fetish models - showing beneath familiar domestic objects. The poses create personified objects and objectified people, demonstrating how our culture defines, fetishizes, and flattens bodies - especially the female body - and material things.

The exhibition also presents Simmons's more recent series, such as The Love Doll (2009-11), which features high-end, life-size Japanese dolls in day-to-day scenarios. Just as Walking Objects represents a transition to monumental props, The Love Doll moves away from dolls in miniature, but the added element of strangeness is not unlike that evoked by the miniatures. Another recent body of work, How We See (begun in 2014), shows another iteration of the artist's longstanding interest in gender roles.

For these images, Simmons hired makeup artists to paint eyes that look open on her sitters' closed eyelids. Inverting her usual practice by making real people appear uncannily artificial, Simmons says, "Social media allows us to put our most perfect, desirable, funny, and fake selves forward, while naturally raising questions about our longings, yearnings, and vulnerabilities. In How We See, I'd like to direct you how to see while also asking you to make eye contact with ten women who can't see you."

In addition to her photography, there is a small selection of sculpture and three films in the exhibition. The Music of Regret (2006, 45 min) is shown in the gallery space, and is a three-part musical shot in 35mm by the cinematographer Ed Lachman. The Music of Regret grew out of three of Simmons's distinct photographic series: Early Interiors, Walking Objects, and Café of the Inner Mind. The theme of regret is underscored by vintage puppets that interact with actress Meryl Streep, who plays the lead role, and Alvin Ailey dancers dressed as oversized inanimate objects.

The film My Art (2016) was written and directed by Simmons who also stars in the lead role as Ellie Shine, an artist who wishes to reinvigorate her work and address her lack of recognition. In My Art, Ellie embarks on a new project where she reimagines shot-for-shot vignettes from her favorite movies, casting herself as the celluloid stars from the past. Art and life collide in the film as scenes mirror unfolding relationships in her life. The film debuted in September 2016 at the Venice Film Festival and premiered in North America at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, where it received high accolades.

A major scholarly catalogue, co-published by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and DelMonico Books-Prestel, accompanies the exhibition.

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Laurie Simmons, born in 1949 in Queens, New York, began photographing at age six when her father bought her a Brownie camera. She received a BFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia and moved to New York. Simmons is an internationally recognized artist who has had solo exhibitions at P.S. 1, Artists Space, and the Jewish Museum in New York; the Walker Art Center in Minnesota; San Jose Museum of Art in California; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis; the Gothenburg Museum of Art in Sweden; and the Neues Museum in Germany. She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1984, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1997, and a Roy Lichtenstein Residency in Visual Arts from the American Academy in Rome in 2005. She currently lives and works in New York and Cornwall, Connecticut. Her husband is painter Carroll Dunham and her children are actress/writer Lena Dunham and writer/activist Cyrus Dunham.


RELATED PROGRAMS

Talk: Laurie Simmons
Saturday, February 23, 3 pm, MCA Theater
Artist Laurie Simmons leads audiences on a journey through the history of anti-feminist films on the opening day of her exhibition.

Screening: Laurie Simmons
Sunday, February 24, 11 am - 5 pm, MCA Theater
A marathon screening plays a selection of Laurie Simmons's films.

Screenings of My Art 
February 26, March 26 and 31, April 7 and 9, MCA Theater
Screened as part of the exhibition, My Art is ­a feature-length film written, directed by, and starring Laurie Simmons who plays Ellie Shine, a single artist living in New York City. As her decades-old dream of a respectable place in the art world becomes more elusive, her frustration with her lack of recognition feels alarmingly urgent. When she is offered the summer house and studio of a famous friend she seizes the opportunity to hit the reset button on her life and work.

Curator Tour: Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera
Tuesday, March 19, noon, exhibition gallery
MCA Senior Curator Naomi Beckwith leads an in-depth tour of Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera and discusses the artist's practice.

Talk: Laurie Simmons with Genevieve Gaignard
Thursday, April 10, 6 pm, MCA Theater
Laurie Simmons has sometimes been cast as a "reluctant feminist." In this conversation, the artist brings together a panel of next-generation thinkers to consider the tension between personal politics and the making of feminist art in a moment when gender is increasingly deconstructed. They also address how the feminist reading of her work by younger artists has changed her own perspective and her work.

Lead support for Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris: Caryn and King Harris, Katherine Harris, Toni and Ron Paul, Pam and Joe Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris; Becky and Lester Knight; Zell Family Foundation; Julie and Larry Bernstein; and Cari and Michael J. Sacks. Major support is provided by Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. Generous support is provided by Robert J. Buford; Anne L. Kaplan; Kovler Family Foundation; Jennifer and Alec Litowitz; Phillips; Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund; Marilyn and Larry Fields; Efroymson Family Fund; Katherine and Judd Malkin; Ellen-Blair Chube; Susie L. Karkomi and Marvin Leavitt; One Bennett Park; Liz and Eric Lefkofsky; Salon 94 New York; Mirja and Ted Haffner; Vicki and Bill Hood; Susan D. Goodman and Rodney Lubeznik; The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York; and Penelope and Robert Steiner.

OPENING: Tango at Trap Door Theatre February 21-March 30, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

THE TRAP DOOR THEATRE is proud to present...
Tango
Written by: Sławomir Mrożek
Translated by: Ralph Manheim and Teresa Dzieduszycka Directed by: Emily Lotspeich


In this hilarious satire, the dangers inherent in contemporary society are inscribed in a universal story of how conformity, anarchy and formalism can come into conflict between generations. I'll be ChiILin' with Chi, IL's Trap Door Theatre in early March, so check back then for my full review.

Cast: Dennis Bisto, Adam Huizenga, Logan Hulick, Katelyn Lane, Joan Nahid, Emily Nichelson and Keith Surney.

Sɫawomir Mrożek (Playwright) was a Polish playwright born in 1930 in a small town near Kraków. He started his professional career as a cartoonist and journalist, and later on wrote many grotesque stories. His first play, The Police (1958) is a Kafkaesque parable, and was followed by a series of political, critical allegories cloaked in absurdist comedy such as Out at Sea (1961), Striptease (1961) and The Party (1963). His most famous play from this period is Tango which had its world premiere in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in January 1965. That same year a famous Polish critic Jan Kott observed that while Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz and Witold Gombrowicz, Mrożek’s dramatic predecessors, were ahead of their time, Mrożek has arrived right on time both in Poland and in the West. Some perceived Mrożek as a kind of “Polish Ionesco” as his plays poke absurdist fun at contemporary mores and life in the 20th century communist-dominated Poland. Mrożek emigrated to France in 1963 and lived in Italy and Mexico before returning to Poland after the fall of communism. While his plays were periodically banned in Poland, they were performed in the cities around the world including New York City where they were produced several times off Broadway and at La MaMa Theatre Club. Among other plays written by Mrożek are Vatzlav (1972—produced at Trap Door Theatre in 2014), The Emigrés (1974), The Ambassador (1981), Alpha (1984) and Love in the Crimea (1994). Mrożek died in France in 2013.

Emily Lotspeich (Director) Emily was born in Cincinnati where she was fortunate enough to attend the television noted School for Creative and Performing Arts from grades 4-12. There she majored in acting, directing, creative writing and oboe. She came to call Chicago home when she moved here to further her theater education at Depaul University. Emily is a Company Member and Development Director at The Trap Door Theatre. Trap Door Director credits include Universal Wolf and a staged reading of Made In Poland at last years International Voices Project. Trap Door Assistant Director credits include Beholder and the twentieth anniversary celebratory remount of R. W. Fassbinder’s Blood on the Cat’s Neck. Trap Door acting credits include Monseur D’eon Is A Woman, Sad Happy Suckers, Locketeer, Phaedra, Fantasy Island For Dummies, The Duchess of Malfi, AmeriKafka, 12 Ophelias and Anger/Fly. Trap Door Stage Manager credits include Ten Tiny Fingers, Nine Tiny Toes, and How To Explain The History Of Communism To Mental Patients which toured in Hungary and Romania. In addition to Trap Door, Ms. Lotspeich has worked with Prop Thtr, Silent Theatre Company, Polarity Ensemble Theatre and Cornservatory.

Set Designer Jacqueline Frole/ Costume Designer Rachel Sypniewski/ Makeup Design Zsofia Otvos / Sound Designer Danny Rocket/ Lighting Designer Richard Norwood / Violence Design Bill Gordon / Choreographer Jesse Hoisington/ Graphic Designer Michal Janicki/ Dramaturg Milan Pribisic/ Assistant Director Nora Lise Ulrey

When: 
Opens: Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 8PM 
Closes: Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 8PM 
Runs: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8PM

Admission: $20 on Thursdays and Fridays, $25 on Saturdays, 2 for 1 Admission on Thursdays

Where: TRAP DOOR THEATRE 1655 West Cortland Ave. Chicago, IL 60622
For Information/Reservations: 773-384-0494 To purchase online www.trapdoortheatre.com



OPENING: Childhood Beauty at Trap Door Theatre March 3-25, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
THE TRAP DOOR THEATRE is proud to present as a part of the TRAP OPEN SERIES….

Childhood Beauty
Written by: Suz Evans
Directed by: Skye Fort


I'm eager to catch this show, as I too grew up in a small suburb of Cincinnati, like the playwright. Jane Fonda’s dance aerobics videos were even a disturbing gym class option in my high school. So I'm no stranger to the peppy "work that tiny body" refrain. I'll be out for opening night, so check back soon for my full review. 

What: Using the forms of theatre, performance art, and dance, Childhood Beauty is about reluctantly participating in Jane Fonda’s dance aerobics videos way-back-when. It is about monopolizing the thoughts that people think about your body. It is about awkward emotions and stool movements. Welcome to the show.
   
Suz Evans (playwright) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1990. They grew up in a small town, went to church twice a week and learned about the wrath of Hell alongside Jesus’s love. Their work questions the ideas that a Middle American upbringing convolutes around identity, hierarchy and divergence of the expected. As a non-binary queer, Suz is likely to twist gender roles and extend a genuine no-thanks to the cis-tem. Their writing is largely based in literary and field research, with a direct quotation style popular amongst contemporary German playwrights. They dream of a future in which humanoids have full autonomy over thought. Suz graduated with a BFA in printmaking and art history from Montserrat College of Art. Childhood Beauty is their first completed script.

Skye Fort (director)  spent her formative years  in small town New Mexico, but has called Chicago home for the past 7 years. She is a proud member of Trap Door Theatre, where she has previously worked as the assistant director on Old Woman Broods, Monsieur D’eon is A Woman, and Phedre. Skye is the company manager at Trap Door, and over the past six years has also had the honor of touring to Eastern Europe with Trap Door, and working as an actor and a stage manager. Having grown up dancing, Skye is drawn to any piece of theatre that has the possibility for extreme movement. Skye has a degree in theatre from The University of New Mexico and a is founding member of the performance art group So This Is Art. Skye likes to hang out on the line between performance art and theatre, and hopes you’ll join her there.

Costume Designer Josh Pennington/ Sound Designer Ty Easley/ Lighting Designer Gary Damico/ Multi-Media Specialist Ash Brayley/ Assistant Director Miguel Long / Production Assistant Anna Klos


 Cast: Maryam Abdi, David Lovejoy, Nora Lise Ulrey, Kellie Wyatt

When:
Opens:     Sunday, March 3rd, 2019 at 8PM
Closes:     Monday, March 25th, 2019 at 8PM
Runs:       Sundays and Mondays at 8PM

Admission:  $10

Where:  TRAP DOOR THEATRE 1655 West Cortland Ave.  Chicago, IL 60622

For Information/Reservations: 773-384-0494 To purchase online www.trapdoortheatre.com

About the Trap Open Series:  Whether it is a workshop of a bold new play, a daylong performance installation, or a collaboration with artists from other mediums; this series seeks to offer audiences thrilling, unexpected experiences while giving voice to the next generation of groundbreaking theatre artists.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

OPENING: Hell in a Handbag Productions Announces Casting for POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical




Book & Lyrics by David Cerda
Music by David Cerda & Scott Lamberty
Directed by Derek Van Barham
Music Direction by Andrew Milliken
Choreography by Breon Arzell

March 15 – April 28, 2019 at The Edge Theater


Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to announce casting for its revival of the musical that started it all: POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical, a musical parody and loving homage to the classic 1972 film, The Poseidon Adventure, the grandmother of all disaster films. I'll be out for the press opening March 22nd, so check back soon for my full review.



PHOTO CREDIT: The cast of Hell in a Handbag Productions’ revival of POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical includes (top, l to r) Ryan Armstrong, Katherine Bellantone, Brittney Brown, Tommy Bullington, Sydney Genco and Caitlin Jackson (center, l to r), Josh Kemper, Elizabeth Lesinski, David Lipschutz, Stevie Love, Nicky Mendelson, Michael S. Miller and Courtney Dane Mize (bottom, l to r), Elissa Newcorn, Marc Prince, Shane Roberie, Scott Sawa, Patrick Stengle and Maiko Terazawa.


POSEIDON! will feature Handbag ensemble members Sydney Genco* (Ensemble), Caitlin Jackson* (Toni/Doctor), Elizabeth Lesinski* (Linda Rogo), David Lipschutz* (Reverend Scott), Stevie Love* (Nonnie Parry) and Michael S. Miller* (Manny Rosen) with Ryan Armstrong (Robin Shelby), Katherine Bellantone (Susan Shelby), Brittney Brown (Ensemble), Tommy Bullington (Belle Rosen), Josh Kemper (Ensemble), Nicky Mendelson (Acres), Courtney Dane Mize (Ensemble), Elissa Newcorn (Lara, Nurse), Marc Prince (Captain Harrison, Ensemble), Shane Roberie (Mike Rogo), Scott Sawa (James Martin), Patrick Stengle (Ensemble) and Maiko Terazawa (Ensemble).

Handbag’s very first show will return March 15 – April 28, 2019 at a venue befitting of an ocean liner: The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway in Chicago. POSEIDON features a book and lyrics by Handbag Artistic Director David Cerda*, music by David Cerda* with Scott Lamberty, direction by Derek Van Barham, music direction by Andrew Milliken, and choreography by Breon Arzell. Tickets are currently available at brownpapertickets.com or by calling (800) 838-3006. 

The original 2002 Chicago production of POSEIDON! was a critical and popular smash and extended for a five-month sold-out run in Chicago, and was accepted into The New York International Fringe Festival, where it was the most attended show of 2003, winning an award of excellence for Best Ensemble. The show was remounted in 2009 at The Chopin Theatre and enjoyed another extended run.

It’s New Year’s Eve and a group of hardcore fans have gathered for their annual viewing of the greatest film ever – The Poseidon Adventure, the story of the capsize of the SS Poseidon on New Year’s Eve, and the handful of misfit passengers that decide to climb to the top of the ship – which is now the bottom. As the story progresses the viewers become one with the film. POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical is part parody, part homage – and a look at how movies can leave their mark on you.

The production team includes: Christopher Rhoton (scenic design), Beth Laske Miller (costume design), Cat Wilson* (lighting design), Danny Rockett (sound design), Adrian Hadlock* (props design), Sydney Genco* (make-up design), Keith Ryan (wig design), Madison Smith (assistant director) and Andrew Donnelly (stage manager).

*Denotes Handbag ensemble member.


Location: The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway, Chicago

Dates: Previews: Friday, March 15 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, March 16 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, March 17 at 3 pm and Thursday, March 21 at 7:30 pm

Opening/Press performance: Friday, March 22 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Saturday, March 23 – Sunday, April 28, 2019

Curtain Times: Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm.

Industry Night: Monday, April 22 at 7:30 pm

Tickets: Previews $22. Regular run $38 in advance, $45 at the door. Group rates $32 for 10 or more. $32 senior and student rates. Tickets are currently available at brownpapertickets.com or by calling (800) 838-3006.

 

About the Artists     
David Cerda (Book, Lyrics, Music) is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Hell in a Handbag Productions. Cerda has written or collaborated on Caged Dames, TROGG- A Rock and Roll Musical, Sexy Baby, Lady X: The Musical, Christmas Dearest, Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, SCARRIE – The Musical, Snowgirls – The Musical, and many others. He has also worked as a songwriter with Amazon Studios, and as an actor around Chicago. In 2016, Cerda was in inducted into the Chicago GLBT Hall of Fame and in 2017 he received a Lifetime Achievement Jeff Award for his contributions to the Chicago theater community and philanthropic efforts.

Scott Lamberty (Music) has collaborated with David Cerda on several Handbag musicals including Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, SCARRIE – The Musical, Sexy Baby and Lady X: The Musical. Scott has also worked extensively with Corn Productions on the Tiff and Mom shows, The Bad Seed The Musical, Jesus Camp – The Musical and Snowgirls- The Musical, among many others.

Derek Van Barham (Director) is the Producing Artistic Director of Kokandy Productions and a member of the Red Tape Theatre ensemble. He previously served as Associate Artistic Director of Pride Films & Plays. For PFP, he directed Perfect Arrangement, Angry Fags (Steppenwolf Garage), Songs from an Unmade Bed (Jeff nomination) and (co-directing) PRISCILLA, Queen of the Desert. Other directing credits include The View Upstairs (Circle Theatre), Three Days of Rain (Boho), Miracle! by Dan Savage, Skooby Don't (Hell in a Handbag) and HOT PINK (New American Folk Theatre). Choreography credits include The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier and BITE (PFP), all Black Button Eyes productions, and Salonathon. He was named one of Windy City Times 30 Under 30, recognizing Chicago's LGBTQ+ community.   

Andrew Milliken (Music Director) has been a music director/pianist in the Chicago area since 2016. Poseidon will be his second production with Hell in a Handbag, following 2017's Bewildered. Other favorite credits include Pippin (Mercury Theater), Avenue Q (Metropolis Theater), Vinegar Tom (Northwestern University) and Carousel (Timber Lake Playhouse). 

Breon Arzell (Choreographer) is most commonly known as an actor, however his breakout, and award-winning, premiere as a Chicago choreographer came with Oracle Productions’ The Hairy Ape. This Detroit native received his first training while at Miami University. In Chicago, he has worked as a dancer, choreographer and instructor at Joel Hall Dancers & Center, Porchlight M.T., Vagabond School and The Goodman Theatre (for their Musical Theater Program). Developing his own style of dance (hip-hop, jazz, modern, lyrical, contemporary and body percussion) and storytelling, movement credits include: The Total Bent (Haven Theatre), Rightlynd, The House That Will Not Stand (Victory Gardens Theater); Night Runner, Wig Out (DePaul University); Julius  Caesar (Writers Theatre), Marie Christine (BoHo Theatre), The Wiz  (Kokandy Productions), Scottsboro Boys (Porchlight Music Theatre), and more. His talents have allowed him to work all across the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Singapore and Malaysia.

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

LEGENDS AND LESSONS ABOUND IN BLACK ENSEMBLE THEATER'S 43RD SEASON OF EXCELLENCE

BLACK ENSEMBLE THEATER ANNOUNCES
43RD SEASON OF EXCELLENCE: 
LEGENDS AND LESSONS 


Season to include tributes to Mahalia Jackson, Lena Horne,
Funk greats from James Brown to The Parliaments, Stevie Wonder
and the return of The Other Cinderella

Black Ensemble Theater’s Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor announces the 43rd Season of Excellence: Legends and Lessons. The 2019 Season includes tributes to the renowned Gospel great Mahalia Jackson, legendary singer and actress Lena Horne, funk legends from James Brown to The Parliaments, and the legendary Motown artist, American icon and musical genius Stevie Wonder. The season culminates with the return of audience favorite The Other Cinderella. All performances will be held at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago. 

Jackie Taylor comments, “It's hard to believe that we are now in our 43rd Season here at the Black Ensemble Theater. As you know, we have a style all our own, and it will be in full swing for 2019. This is the Season of Legends and Lessons and it begins with renowned Gospel Great Mahalia Jackson, followed by the story and music of legendary Lena Horne. In You Can't Fake the Funk audiences will experience several legends from James Brown to the Parliaments, bringing you the kind of music that will not allow you to stay in your seats. In this Season of Legends, who is more eminent than Stevie Wonder? Our final musical of the Season is legendary because audiences continue to ask for it since we first produced it in 1976—and that's the magical The Other Cinderella. The 2019 season—The Season of Legends and Lessons—will go down in history as one of our best!”

The Black Ensemble Theater’s 2019 Season includes:



Mahalia Jackson: Moving Through The Light
Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor

March 2-April 14, 2019, Previews: March 2, 3, 8 and 9, Press Opening: Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m.

Mahalia Jackson was considered the greatest gospel singer in the world. Her deep rich voice made her an international star. We learn through this riveting tribute to her life that she not only sang the Gospel, she lived the Gospel. This musical tribute will feature many of her classics including “Precious Lord,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Move on up a Little Higher,” and “I Believe,” to name a few.

Lena: In Tribute to Lena Horne
Written by Kylah Williams and Rueben Echoles
Directed by Kylah Williams

May 11 – June 30, 2019, Previews: May 11, 12, 17 and 18, Press Opening: Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m.

With a career that spanned roughly 70 years – Lena Horne is a legend with many life lessons from which we can learn. Join us for a true Black Ensemble style exploration of the people, the music and the experiences that reflect the life of this extraordinary performer, civil rights pioneer and phenomenal woman known as Lena Horne.

You Can’t Fake the Funk (From James Brown to Parliament)
Written and Directed by Daryl D. Brooks

July 20 – September 8, 2019, Previews: July 20, 21, 26 and 27, 2019,Press Opening: Sunday, July 28 at 3 p.m.

Hop on the “Mothership” as we journey back when Afro’s were big, bellbottoms were tight, and the music was out of sight. You Can’t Fake the Funk (From James Brown to Parliament guides us through a musical genre that is sure to have you groovin in your seats...Ya’ Digg!!

Songs in the Key of Stevie
Written and Directed by Rueben Echoles

October 5 – November 17, 2019, Previews: October 5, 6, 11 and 12, 2019, Press Opening: Sunday, October 13 at 3 p.m.

Prodigy, genius and phenomenon are just a few of the words used to describe the amazing Stevie Wonder! This show is a musical journey that pays tribute to Stevie’s incredible body of work and sheds a little light on the life and times of this phenomenal artist!


The Other Cinderella
Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor

December 14, 2019 – January 26, 2020, Previews: December 14, 25, 20 and 21, 2019, Press Opening: Sunday, December 22 at 3 p.m.

The Other Cinderella is a Black Ensemble classic that has been enjoyed by people of all colors, kinds and ages. In this African American rendition of this African fairy tale, Cinderella is from the projects, The Stepmamma works at the Post Office, there is a King, Queen and Prince, there are the Brothers are From The Hood, and The Fairygodmama is from Jamaica. The Other Cinderella is a musical classic that audiences have returned to see time and time again. The music is divine, the dancing is wild and the story is uplifting, positive and infectious.

In addition to Black Ensemble Theater’s regular season, a number of special events will be presented during the year, including:

The Annual Black Ensemble New Year’s Eve Show
December 31, 2019

Like all Black Ensemble events, the New Year’s Eve celebration will be an occasion filled with joy and excitement. Guests at the celebration will enjoy a performance by the stars of Black Ensemble Theater, along with great entertainment, fabulous food, dancing with the stars and champagne flowing all night long!  

Tickets
Tickets are available at www.blackensemble.org, (773) 769-4451 or at the Black Ensemble Theater Box Office, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago. Single tickets for regular season performances are priced at $55 on Thursdays, and Saturday matinees; and $65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings, and Sunday matinees. A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups. Previews are priced at $45.

The Black Ensemble Theater will sell the Gold Card which allows the holder to see all 5 plays for $210 which represents a $30% discount on full price tickets.  The Gold Card is good for 1 ticket per production.  For more details or to purchase a Gold Card contact the box office at 773-769-4451. 

The Black Ensemble Theater  
Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists. 

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts.  For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, visit www.BlackEnsembleTheater.org or call 773-769-4451. 

OPENING: Midwest Premiere of I Wanna F#!&ing Tear You Apart at Rivendell Theatre February 15 - March 23, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
 Rivendell Theatre Ensemble presents the Midwest Premiere of 

I Wanna F#!&ing Tear You Apart 
by Morgan Gould



featuring Teressa LaGamba, Robert Quintanillo and RTE Member Jessica Ervin 

February 15 - March 23, 2019

I'll be out for the press opening, February 27th, so check back soon for my full review. I adore Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (RTE), Chicago's only Equity theatre dedicated to producing artistically challenging and original plays created by and about women. Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we can't wait to see Rivendell's take on this Midwest premiere. 

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (RTE), Chicago’s only Equity theatre dedicated to producing new work with women at the core, presents the Midwest premiere of I Wanna F#!&ing Tear You Apart by Morgan Gould and directed by Jessica Fisch. I Wanna F#!&ing Tear You Apart runs February 15 – March 23, 2019 at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago.  

Samantha and Leo are a team—best friends and roommates, fat girl and gay guy against the world—until a new friend upends their cozy co-dependent diet of mutual self-loathing and Grey’s Anatomy marathons. An ode to the complications of friendship in its many fucked-up forms, with a special nod to a kind of love that sometimes looks a lot like rage.

Produced first at D.C.’s Studio Theatre, I Wanna F#!&ing Tear You Apart challenges assumptions around niceness, beauty, and mainstream acceptance as it upends traditional narratives about fat women—Gould herself identifies openly as such—by putting a fat woman at its center. “I’m not chubby or big-boned,” says Gould. “I’m fat. That’s who I am.”

Directed by Jessica Fisch, director of Rivendell’s highly-successful world premiere production of The Firebirds Take the Field, Gould’s play is a wild ride with unforgettable characters that asks probing questions about friendships, fatness, bigotry, ambition, and the cost of living in a world that finds you unacceptable in some way.

The cast of I Wanna F#!&ing Tear You Apart includes Teressa LaGamba (Sam), Robert Quintanilla (Leo), and RTE Member Jessica Ervin (Chloe).

The creative team includes RTE Member Regina García (Scenic Design), Anthony Churchill (Projections Design), Heather Gilbert (Lighting Design), Jeffrey Levin (Original Music and Sound Design), Alison Siple (Costume Design), and Jonathan Berg-Einhorn (Properties Design). The Stage Manager is Miranda Anderson.

Rivendell’s Town Hall Series:  

During the run of each production, Rivendell hosts Town Hall Discussions after select Saturday matinees. These are an essential touchstone for our organization to extend the conversation from the stage to the community. Panelists help field questions, present observations, and participate in supporting a thoughtful, in-depth dialogue for all involved. Audience participants need not be present for the Saturday matinee and are welcome to join the conversation following the performance. 

ARTIST BIOS

Morgan Gould (Playwright) is a fat-fat, not TV-fat, New York based writer/director who is a Resident Playwright at New Dramatists and current Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at Juilliard. Morgan’s play I Wanna F**king Tear You Apart, is a Beatrice Terry/Drama League Award Winner, and had its world premiere at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC in February 2017 (with Morgan directing). It was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play, and DC Metro Arts said that Morgan’s work “shows every bit as much promise as Edward Albee’s early work, arguably more.” Morgan has directed productions at the Humana Festival, Marin Theatre Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, P73, and more. Morgan is also the Artistic Director of Morgan Gould & Friends—her theater company with 9 actors, 3 designers, and a filmmaker, and their work has been seen at many NYC venues including HERE Arts Center, Ars Nova, The Ice Factory and more. Morgan is developing a half hour original series with Amazon Studios and Will Graham/Field Trip Productions. 

Jessica Fisch (Director) returns to Rivendell where she previously directed The Firebirds Take the Field and Fefu and Her Friends (Goodman Theatre/Rivendell Latinx Celebration). Recent credits include Cry It Out (Northlight Theatre), You Across From Me (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival), Late Company (Cor Theatre), Straight White Men (Associate Director, Steppenwolf), Trudy, Carolyn, Martha and Regina Travel to Outer Space (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival),  The Rosenkranz Mysteries: An Evening of Magic (The Royal George), Opulent Complex and That Thing That Time (Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Tens), Psychodramatic (A Red Orchid, Incubator Series), Traces (Feast Productions/ Jackalope Theatre). Selected New York credits: The Realm (The Wild  Project), strive/seek/find (Abingdon Theatre), the 2009 Playwrights Horizons Stories on 5 Stories Benefit, Personal History (Ensemble Studio Theatre), The Redheaded Man (Barrow Street Theatre/FringeNYC/FringeEncores), Dressed In Your Dreams (Public Theater/Emerging Writers Group), and an adaptation of the cult 1960’s gothic vampire soap opera Dark Shadows (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Jessica was a resident director at Ensemble Studio Theater, the Playwrights Horizons Directing Resident, and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab.

Teressa LaGamba (Sam) is a Chicago based actor/musician from Pittsburgh, PA. She has performed feature roles in productions with Porchlight Music Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Boho Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Emerald City Theatre, Broadway In Chicago, Griffin Theatre, Haven Theatre and more. Teressa received her BA in Acting and American Sign Language from Columbia College Chicago.

Robert Quintanilla (Leo) is making his Rivendell debut. He was most recently seen as Thomas Jefferson in Porchlight Music Theatre’s production of 1776 as part of their Revisits series and in Evil Dead with Black Button Eyes. This past season he was seen in The View Upstairs with Circle Theatre, Yank! A WWII Love Story with Pride Films and Plays, and Woman of the Year with Porchlight Music Theatre. Other select credits include On a Clear Day You Can See Forever with Porchlight Music Theatre, United Flight 232 with The House Theatre, The Fantasticks with Quest Theatre Ensemble, Jesus Christ Superstar with The Public Theatre San Antonio, The Merry Widow and HMS Pinafore with Music Theatre Works.

Jessica Ervin (Chloe) is an ensemble member at Rivendell. She received an Equity Jeff nomination for her portrayal of Ester in Dry Land and has also worked with Rivendell on Scientific Method (understudy), Alias Grace, The Firebirds Take the Field, WOMEN AT WAR, and the staged reading 381 Bleecker. Additionally, Jessica has worked with The Sound, Walkabout Theatre, Route 66, Erasing the Distance, The Public House, and Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble. Most recently, Jessica returned to Ball State University, her alma mater, to devise and perform an adaptation of Frankenstein as part of Indiana Humanities’ One State One Story initiative. She can be seen on film in Princess Cyd and the upcoming projects Teacher, Injustice, and Stalled.

Previews:  February 15-23, 2019

Friday, February 15 at 8:00pm

Saturday, February 16 at 8:00pm

Sunday, February 17 at 3:00pm

Thursday, February 21 at 8:00pm

Friday, February 22 at 8:00pm

Saturday, February 23 at 8:00pm 

Gala Opening: Sunday, February 24 at 6:00pm

Press Opening: Wednesday, February 27 at 7:00pm

Regular Run: February 28 – March 23, 2019

Schedule:      Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 4:00pm

Additional performances on Sunday, February 17 at 3:00pm (preview); Sunday, March 10 at 3:00pm; Monday, March 11 at 8:00pm ; and Wednesday, March 20 at 8:00pm

Town Hall Discussions will follow Saturday 4:00pm matinees on March 9 and 16

Friday, March 1: Mama’s Night / Ladies’ Night: Following the performance, please join us in our rehearsal studio for wine, cheese and great conversation! 

Friday, March 8 : Performance to Benefit Planned Parenthood: $10 of every ticket sold will be donated to Planned Parenthood of Illinois. 

Friday, March 15: Open Captioned Performance; $15 tickets with the code ACCESS 

Location:  Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago

Tickets: General Admission, Previews: $28, Regular Run: $38

Student, Senior, Active Military, Veteran, Preview: $18. Regular Run: $28

Pay What You Can: Five seats (10% of the house) are available for each performance. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis.

Three-show pass: $59-$80 for 3-plays 

Box Office: (773) 334-7728 or www.RivendellTheatre.org

Parking and Transportation: Free parking is available in the Senn High School parking lot (located a block and a half from the theatre behind the school off Thorndale Avenue). There is limited paid and free street parking in the area. The theatre is easily accessible via the Clark (#22) or Broadway (#36) bus, and is a short walk from the Bryn Mawr Red Line El station.


About Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Founded in 1994, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble advances the lives of women through theatre. Rivendell cultivates the talents of women artists—writers, actors, directors, designers and technicians—by seeking out innovative plays that explore unique female experiences and producing them in an intimate, salon environment.

Rivendell fills an important role in the Chicago region as the only Equity theatre dedicated to producing artistically challenging and original plays created by and about women. After years of being an itinerant company, Rivendell moved into its own theater space in 2011 in Edgewater. The company is focused on becoming an integral community partner and serving as a catalyst to engage audiences in a discussion of local social issues.

For more information about Rivendell Theater Ensemble, visit http://rivendelltheatre.org. Follow Rivendell on Facebook at Facebook.com/rivendelltheatre, on Twitter @RivendellThtr, and on Instagram at rivendelltheatre.

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is supported by generous grants from: The Alphawood Foundation;

Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; The Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development; The Chicago Community Trust; The Chicago Foundation for Women; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation;

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; The League of Chicago Theatres and ComEd; The Reva and David Logan Foundation; The Luria Family Foundation; The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust; The Alfred Pick Jr. Fund; Shubert Foundation; SIF Fund at The Chicago Community Trust; Cultural Outreach Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events; and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

SAVE THE DATES: Hell in a Handbag Productions Announces 2019 Season

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar:
Season Subscriptions Now On-Sale!


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

Save the dates for 7 deadly funny drag shows: 
Hell in a Handbag Productions' 2019 Season


POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical
An Unauthorized Musical Parody
Book & Lyrics by Artistic Director David Cerda
Music by David Cerda and Scott Lamberty
Directed by Derek Van Barham
Music Direction by Andrew Milliken
Choreography by Breon Arzell

THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 3
By Artistic Director David Cerda

THE DRAG SEED
Book & Lyrics by Artistic Director David Cerda
Music by David Cerda and Scott Lamberty
Directed by Cheryl Snodgrass

THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes
Bea Afraid Too – The Halloween Edition
By Artistic Director David Cerda

THE FACTS OF LIFE: The Lost Episodes
Satan’s School for Girls
By Artistic Director David Cerda

BETTE: XMAS AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS
A Musical Tribute Starring Caitlin Jackson
Adapted by Artistic Director David Cerda & Caitlin Jackson
Music Direction by Tommy Ross

THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes
The Holiday Edition, Vol. 2
By Artistic Director David Cerda

Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to announce its 2019 Season, launching this winter with the show that started it all: POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical, an unauthorized musical parody of the classic granddaddy of all disaster films, 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure. The much-anticipated revival of Handbag’s very first show features a book, music and lyrics by Artistic Director David Cerda* with Scott Lamberty, direction by Derek Van Barham, music direction by Andrew Milliken, and choreography by Breon Arzell. The cast includes ensemble members Sydney Genco*, Caitlin Jackson*, Elizabeth Lesinski*, David Lipschutz*, Stevie Love* and a boatload of others. POSEIDON will play at a venue befitting of an ocean liner: The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood.

Following closely on the heels of the SS Poseidon, Chicago’s favorite drag seniors return in THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes – Vol. 3. Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, Sophia and their whacky friends and relatives are back for all new adventures – including the first-ever musical episode. Written by Artistic Director David Cerda*, THE GOLDEN GIRLS stars original cast members Chazie Bly*, David Cerda*, Grant Drager*, Adrian Hadlock* and Ed Jones*. The Girls return to Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St. in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood.

Summer 2019 brings another world premiere Handbag musical! Inspired by our changing times, THE DRAG SEED is an unauthorized musical parody of the 1956 psychological horror-thriller film The Bad Seed. Ensemble member Kristopher Bottrall stars as little Carson Langus, the perfect little boy who likes to dress like the perfect little girl. Featuring book, music and lyrics by Artistic Director David Cerda* with Scott Lamberty and direction by Cheryl Snodgrass (The Birds, The Rip Nelson Halloween Spooktacular), THE DRAG SEED will also play at Mary’s Attic.

Handbag conjures up double the scares for the Halloween season! The geriatric “Fab Four” return with scares and hilarity in THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes – Bea Afraid Too, written by Artistic Director David Cerda*. This Halloween tradition (almost) will play at Mary’s Attic. Meanwhile, across town at Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago), another beloved TV sitcom is resurrected Handbag style: THE FACTS OF LIFE: The Lost Episodes – Satan’s School for Girls. Ensemble member Ed Jones* stars as Mrs. Edna Garrett, the house mother with a deep dark secret, in this new parody by Artistic Director David Cerda*.

Handbag wraps up its season with another double whammy for the holidays. Handbag diva Caitlin Jackson* reprises her role as Bette Midler in BETTE, XMAS AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS, a recreation of the Divine Miss M’s historic concert at New York’s Continental Baths – with a holiday twist. The show enjoyed a sold-out run in 2017 as part of the LookOut Series at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre. Handbag’s steamy cabaret sensation features music direction by Tommy Ross. Also, enjoy some eggnog and cheesecake on the lanai at THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes – The Holiday Edition, Vol. 2, another round of festive sketches featuring the Handbag Golden Girls. BETTE and THE GOLDEN GIRLS will play concurrently at Mary’s Attic.

Season subscriptions and single tickets for all the shows are currently available at www.handbagproductions.org.

*Denotes Handbag Ensemble Member.

Hell in a Handbag Productions’ 2019 Season includes:


Poseidon (pictured) The cast of Hell in a Handbag Productions’ 2009 revival of POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

March 15 – April 28, 2019
Title: POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical
Book and Lyric by Artistic Director David Cerda*
Music by David Cerda* with Scott Lamberty
Directed by Derek Van Barham
Music Direction by Andrew Milliken
Choreography by Breon Arzell
at The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago
Featuring ensemble members Sydney Genco*, Caitlin Jackson*, Elizabeth Lesinski*, David Lipschutz*, Stevie Love* and Michael S. Miller* with Katherine Bellantone, Frankie Leo Bennett, Brittney Brown, Tommy Bullington, Josh Kemper, Nicky Mendelson, Courtney Dane Mize, Elissa Newcorn, Marc Prince, Shane Roberie, Scott Sawa, Patrick Stengle and Maiko Terazawa.

It’s New Year’s Eve and a group of hardcore fans have gathered for their annual viewing of the greatest film ever – The Poseidon Adventure, the story of the capsize of the SS Poseidon on New Year’s Eve, and the handful of misfit passengers that decide to climb to the top of the ship – which is now the bottom. As the story progresses the viewers become one with the film. POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical is part parody, part homage – and a look at how movies can leave their mark on you.

First produced by Handbag 17 years ago, POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical enjoyed an extended five month-run, went to the 2002 New York International Fringe Festival and was the most attended show of the festival. Remounted in 2009, the show had another extended run and garnered critical acclaim.

February 8 – March 10, 2019 – Off-Season Special! (not included in season subscriptions)
THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes – The Valentine Edition
Written by Artistic Director David Cerda*
Directed by: Jon Martinez
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
Featuring ensemble members Chazie Bly*, David Cerda*, Grant Drager*, Adrian Hadlock* and Ed Jones* with Miles Brindley, Casey Coppess, Steve Kimbrough, Ryan Oates, Michael Rashid, Ryan Tang and Danne Taylor.

Poor Dorothy can’t find a date for the Sadie Hawkins dance at the Miami Senior Center. When Rose sets her up with a man with a colorful past, the evening takes a turn for the bizarre. Meanwhile Sophia locks horns with her arch rival, Sylvia Martinelli and the two engage in a steamy battle of wits.

April 18 – August 25, 2019
THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 3
By Artistic Director David Cerda*
at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago
Featuring ensemble members Chazie Bly*, David Cerda*, Grant Drager*, Adrian Hadlock* and Ed Jones*.

Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, Sophia and their whacky friends and relatives are back for all new adventures – including the first-ever musical episode.

July 5 – August 25, 2019
THE DRAG SEED
Book and Lyrics: Artistic Director David Cerda*
Music: David Cerda* with Scott Lamberty
Directed by Cheryl Snodgrass
Featuring ensemble member Kristopher Bottrall*
at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago
Casting to be announced.

Inspired by our changing times, THE DRAG SEED is an unauthorized musical parody of the 1956 psychological horror-thriller film The Bad Seed. Carson is a perfect little boy who likes to dress like the perfect little girl. Carson loves drag and prides himself on being the best child drag queen in the greater Chicago area. Carson always gets what he wants, and he really wants to win the drag pageant at his very progressive school – The Josephine Baker Academy for Gifted Students. When Carson doesn’t win, he vows to get that crown – one way or another…

September 27 – November 2, 2019
THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes – Bea Afraid Too
By Artistic Director David Cerda*
at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago
Featuring ensemble members Chazie Bly*, Grant Drager*, Adrian Hadlock* and Michael Miller*

Last year Sophia was possessed by the devil. Did anyone even notice? Stay tuned to find out what spooky adventures Artistic Director David Cerda* conjures up for our heroines in what’s quickly becoming a Chicago Halloween tradition.

October 5 – November 3, 2019
The FACTS OF LIFE: The Lost Episodes – Satan’s School for Girls
By Artistic Director David Cerda*
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
Featuring ensemble members David Cerda* and Ed Jones*

Ed Jones* stars as Mrs. Edna Garrett – the house mother with a deep dark secret in this parody of the beloved TV sitcom The Facts of Life. The Eastland seemed to be the place for the best and the brightest girls. But when a series of girls die mysterious accidental deaths, ace reporter Claudia Collins (David Cerda*), who is as beautiful as she is talented – goes undercover to avenge her kid sister’s death.

November 27 – December 28, 2019
THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, The Holiday Edition, Vol. 2
By David Cerda
at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago
Featuring ensemble members David Cerda*, Grant Drager*, Ed Jones* and Adrian Hadlock*

Celebrate the season in sunny Miami, as Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia return for brand new holiday episodes of Chicago’s beloved TV sitcom parody.

December 6 – 28, 2019
BETTE: XMAS AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS
Adapted by Artistic Director David Cerda* and Caitlin Jackson*
Musical Direction by Tommy Ross
at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago
Featuring ensemble member Caitlin Jackson*

Handbag diva Caitlin Jackson recreates Bette Midler’s concert at New York’s Continental Baths. This loving recreation of the beginning of Ms. Midler’s stellar career features the fabulous songs she sang for the boys in the bathhouse, including Chattanooga Choo-Choo, Superstar – plus holiday ditties done in Bette’s inimitable style.

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

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