Tuesday, April 30, 2019

OPENING: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Musical Next to Normal at Writers Theatre May 8 – June 16, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Writers Theatre concludes its 2018/19 Season with
Next to Normal
Music by Tom Kitt, Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Directed by Tony Award winner David Cromer
Music Direction by Andra Velis Simon
Featuring Kyrie Courter, Alex Levy, Liam Oh, Gabriel Ruiz,
David Schlumpf and Keely Vasquez 

Photo Credit: Saverio Truglia

May 8 – June 16, 2019 

Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma, concludes its 2018/19 season with the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal, with music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, directed by Tony Award winner David Cromer (The Band’s Visit) and music directed by Andra Velis Simon. Next to Normal runs May 8 – June 16, 2019 in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe.

Next to Normal began in 1998 as a 10-minute workshop sketch called Feeling Electric, about a woman undergoing electroshock therapy and its impact on her family. After a number of readings and workshops, the full-length musical was produced Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theater in 2008. 

I'll be out for the press opening May 15th, so check back soon for my full review. Two of my extended family members have undergone electroshock therapy for depression, so this topic hits close to home. I've seen the Broadway touring production, and can't wait to see Writers Theatre's take on this award winner. 

Next to Normal received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – one of only nine musicals to have ever won the award. The others are: Of Thee I Sing (1932), South Pacific (1950), Fiorello! (1960), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1962), A Chorus Line (1976), Sunday in the Park with George (1985), Rent (1996), and Hamilton (2016).

On the outside, The Goodmans seem like the average American family: house in the suburbs, white picket fence and two sharp-witted kids. But inside, their lives are anything but normal, with long-buried secrets that threaten to tear them apart. Featuring powerful lyrics and an electrifying score, this explosive musical uses wry humor and brutal honesty to explore how family trauma can fracture the American Dream, while ultimately leading to a chance at new beginnings.

This deeply moving and captivating American musical took Broadway by storm in 2009, winning three Tony awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Now, Chicago and Broadway director David Cromer returns to WT, where he has directed A Streetcar Named Desire and Picnic, to bring his singularly personal touch to this modern musical where the lines between reality and delusion are never quite clear.

Next to Normal opened on Broadway in April 2009 with the entire Arena Stage cast resuming their roles. The production was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won three (Best Original Score – Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical – Alice Ripley, and Best Orchestrations – Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt).

“It is truly a privilege to be in collaboration with David Cromer again,” comments Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. “So much of my aesthetic and the aesthetic of Writers Theatre has been influenced by our friendship, the respect I have for his work and our many conversations about the form. We both share a profoundly personal attachment to the subject matter of this remarkable work and he has assembled a brilliant team of artists to realize his vision. David has a gift for taking a piece of theatre you might have thought familiar and then shedding a fresh perspective on it.  He manages to make you see it in a new light and yet he remains entirely true to the intent of the author.  Next to Normal is a rollercoaster ride for the emotions and features a soaring score filled with sophistication, beauty and sweeping melody.” 

The cast of Next to Normal includes: Kyrie Courter (Natalie Goodman), Alex Levy (Henry), Liam Oh (Gabe), Gabriel Ruiz (Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine), David Schlumpf (Dan Goodman), and Keely Vasquez (Diana Goodman).

The creative team for Next to Normal includes: Regina Garcia (Scenic Designer), Rachel Anne Healy (Costume Designer), Keith Parham (Lighting Designer), Christopher M. LaPorte (Co-Sound Designer), Ray Nardelli (Co-Sound Designer), Bobby Kennedy (Dramaturg), Nick Moran (CFM Contractor), Ethan Deppe (Keyboard Programmer), Eamon Foley (Choreographer), Ellen Morris (Assistant Music Director), Harmony France (Assistant Director), and Rebecca Pechter (Production Stage Manager).

Single tickets for Next to Normal, priced $35 - $80, are available at, by phone at 847-242-6000, or in person at the box office at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe.


Director David Cromer returns to Writers Theatre, where he has directed A Streetcar Named Desire, Picnic, The Price, Booth, and Oscar Remembered. This marks Cromer’s first Chicago-area production since winning the 2018 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for The Band’s Visit on Broadway. Cromer was raised in Skokie and attended Columbia College Chicago.

David Cromer (Director) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously directed A Streetcar Named Desire, Picnic, The Price, Booth, Oscar Remembered and The Beats. Recent credits include: The Band’s Visit (Tony Award winner for Best Director of a Musical, Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre), The Treasurer (Playwrights Horizons), Man from Nebraska (Second Stage Theatre), the Off-Broadway premiere of The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company), The Effect (Barrow Street Theatre), Come Back, Little Sheba (Huntington Theatre Company) and Our Town at the Almeida Theatre in London, which he also directed in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Kansas City. Additional New York Credits include: Women or Nothing at Atlantic Theater Company, Really Really at MCC, The House of Blue Leaves and Brighton Beach Memoirs on Broadway, When the Rain Stops Falling and Nikolai and the Others at Lincoln Center Theater, as well as Tribes, Orson’s Shadow at Barrow Street plus Adding Machine, which was a BST production at the Minetta Lane. Originally from Chicago, his credits there include Sweet Bird of Youth (Goodman Theatre), A Streetcar Named Desire, Cherrywood, Mojo, The Hot l Baltimore (Mary-Arrchie Theatre), The Cider House Rules (co-directed with Marc Grapey, Famous Door) and Angels in America (The Journeymen), among others. For his work he has received a Drama Desk, three Obies, three Lortels, four Jeff Awards and in 2010 was made a McArthur Foundation Fellow.

Kyrie Courter (Natalie Goodman), Alex Levy (Henry), Liam Oh (Gabe), and Keely Vasquez (Diana Goodman) are making their Writers Theatre debuts.

Kyrie Courter (Natalie Goodman) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Chicago credits include: Marie Christine (Jeff nominated for Performer in a Principal Role, BoHo Theatre), Legally Blonde (Paramount Theatre), Seussical (Drury Lane Theatre), Company (Venus Cabaret Theater), BLKS (Steppenwolf Theatre), Thaddeus & Slocum (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Dreamgirls, Applause, Babes In Arms (Porchlight Music Theatre), The Wiz and Little Fish (Kokandy Productions).

Alex Levy (Henry) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Alex is a graduate from the School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University with a B.A. in Acting. Recent theatrical credits include Hair (Metropolis Performing Arts Centre), Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Peter and the Starcatcher and Rodeo (Illinois Shakespeare Festival). TV credits include appearances on Chicago Fire (NBC) and Empire (FOX).

Liam Oh (Gabe) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Liam is currently a freshman at Northwestern University studying theater and music. He was a 2018 YoungArts Finalist in Theater and semifinalist for the Presidential Scholar for the Arts. Favorite credits include: Chip in The 25th… Spelling Bee, Clyde in Bonnie and Clyde (Actor’s Training Center) and Ren in Footloose (New Trier High School).

Gabriel Ruiz (Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously music directed and composed original music for Vietgone and appeared in Arcadia and Company. Gabriel is a proud ensemble member of Teatro Vista. Chicago credits include: Cry it Out (Northlight Theatre), You Got Older, The Rembrandt, The Way West, How Long Will I Cry?, The Motherf**ker with the Hat (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Native Gardens (Victory Gardens Theater), Agamemnon, Man in the Ring (Court Theatre), The Wolf at the End of the Block, White Tie Ball (Teatro Vista), Singin’ in the Rain, City of Angels (Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire), The Upstairs Concierge (Goodman Theatre), Creditors (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company), Sita Ram (Chicago Children's Choir), Working (Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place) Richard III, Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night's Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and Arabian Nights (Lookingglass Theatre Company). Regional credits include: Native Gardens (Cincinnati Playhouse), Harvey (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them (Forward Theater Company) and Blood and Gifts (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts). TV and Film credits include Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice (NBC), APB (Fox), Electric Dreams (Channel 4) and Boss (Starz).

David Schlumpf (Dan Goodman) returns to Writers Theatre, where he previously appeared in Days Like Today. David recently moved to Washington DC and is thrilled to come home to Chicago for this extraordinary show, director, and cast. Other Chicago credits include Steven Kodaly in She Loves Me, Magaldi in Evita (Marriott Theatre), Sense & Sensibility (World Premiere), Timon of Athens (featuring Ian McDiarmid), As You Like It (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Dartmoor Prison (Goodman Theatre), Captain Walker in The Who's Tommy (Paramount Theatre), Sidney in Sweet Smell of Success (Jeff Award for Best Actor, Kokandy Productions) and Nehemiah in Dessa Rose (Jeff Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Bailiwick Chicago). DC credits: Buddy in Elf and Billis in South Pacific (Olney Theatre). David holds an MFA in Acting from Roosevelt University, Chicago College of Performing Arts and a BFA in Musical Theatre from University of Florida.

Keely Vasquez (Diana Goodman) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Keely Vasquez is a Chicago-based actor, singer, voice-over artist and teacher. Most recently she was seen in Porchlight Music Theatre’s productions of Merrily We Roll Along and In The Heights. Other Chicago theatrical credits include shows at Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, Mercury Theater and The Broadway Playhouse. For nearly a decade, she toured the US and Europe singing with Barry Manilow and was featured on more than twenty television shows as well as seven DVD specials.

From Page to Stage:
Co-hosted by Family Service of Glencoe
Monday, April 29 at 7pm
In the Gillian Theatre | Writers Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey shines a light on how living with bipolar disorder affects the individual, their families and support systems. Through the story of Diana Goodman and her family, we are offered a glimpse behind the seemingly-perfect suburban façade of normalcy and are invited to experience and understand the challenges of those who are often stigmatized due to their struggles with mental health. At this special From Page to Stage event, we will be joined by experts from Family Service of Glencoe who will unpack the real-life issues dramatized in Next to Normal alongside WT guest artists performing musical selections, addressing questions about bipolar disorder and how it is illuminated in this powerful, modern musical.

From Page to Stage
Thursday, May 16 at 7pm
Hosted by Deerfield Public Library | 920 Waukegan Rd, Deerfield
Featuring: Mary Jouppi, President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Lake County

With May being Mental Health Month, Deerfield Public Library will host this From Page to Stage event featuring Mary Jouppi, who will address concerns and questions regarding mental health challenges that families face in today's world.

Sunday Spotlight
Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 11:30am

Are you curious about the world that surrounds your favorite plays? Sunday Spotlight offers access to the finest speakers, scholars and cultural leaders. This one-hour event extends the conversation on our stages by featuring an expert in an area connected to the play. Seating is limited. RSVP is required. Save the date!

Post-Show Conversation: The Word

Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

Post-Show Conversation: The Artist

Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

Pre-Show Conversation: Up Close

Join us at 6:45pm in the Atrium before every Thursday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute primer on the context and content of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

In an effort to promote taking public transit to the Theatre, Writers Theatre launched a new promotion in 2013. Any audience member who purchases a ticket to a Writers Theatre production and rides Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to the Theatre may snap a photo of themselves on the train and post it to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account with a tag of @WritersTheatre (@Writers_Theatre on Instagram) and #NexttoNormalWT, and upon showing the post at the Writers Theatre Box Office, receive $5 in cash to put toward the cost of your fare as a thank you for going green.

This promotion is available for a limited time only and may end without warning. Ticket must have been paid for in advance. Not valid on comp tickets. More information available at

Writers Theatre is pleased to recognize BMO Harris Bank as the 2018/19 Season Sponsor and ComEd as the Official Lighting Sponsor of the 2018/19 Season. The Major Production Sponsor is the Poetry Foundation.  Foundation support provided by The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. The Corporate Sponsor is Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable. The Artists Council Sponsors are Jane and Richard Lipton, Mary Pat Studdert, Seth Traxler and Jessica Aspen, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

For more information about Writers Theatre’s 2018/19 partners, visit

For more than 25 years, Writers Theatre has captivated Chicagoland audiences with inventive interpretations of classic work, a bold approach to contemporary theatre and a dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible.

Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has grown to become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence, being called the top regional theatre in the nation by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of more than 60,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry—providing the finest interpretations of both classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues. 

In February 2016, Writers Theatre opened a new, state-of-the-art facility. This established the company's first permanent home—a new theatre center in downtown Glencoe, designed by the award-winning, internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by Founder and Design Principal Jeanne Gang, FAIA, in collaboration with Theatre Consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. The new facility has allowed the Theatre to continue to grow to accommodate its audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy. The new facility resonates with and complements the Theatre’s neighboring Glencoe community, adding tremendous value to Chicagoland and helping to establish the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.

Find Writers Theatre on Facebook at, follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter or @Writers_Theatre on Instagram. For more information, visit

First performance: Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Press Opening: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 7:30pm
Closing performance: June 16, 2019

Schedule: Tuesdays – Fridays: 7:30pm (with select 3:00pm Wednesday matinees on May 29 and June 12); Saturdays: 3:00pm (except May 11) and 7:30pm; Sundays: 2:00pm and 6:00pm (except May 12, June 2 & 16)

Open-Captioned performance: Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 7:30pm

Location: The Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

Prices: Prices for all performances range from $35 - $80 (Purchase early for best prices)  

Box Office: The Box Office is located at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe; 847-242-6000;

Gabriel Ruiz returns to Writers Theatre where he previously music directed and composed original music for Vietgone and appeared in Arcadia and Company. David Schlumpf previously appeared in Days Like Today at Writers. David recently moved to Washington DC and is thrilled to come home to Chicago for Next to Normal.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Casting Announced FOR SERVICES RENDERED Via Griffin Theatre Company at The Den Theatre May 19 – July 6, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Casting Announced!
Griffin Theatre Company Presents
By W. Somerset Maugham
Directed by Robin Witt
May 19 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre

PHOTO CREDIT: The cast of Griffin Theatre’s production of FOR SERVICES RENDERED includes (top, l to r) Israel Antonio, Eddie Dzialo, Matt Fletcher, Jennifer Huddleston, Cindy Marker and Marika Mashburn (bottom, l to r) Tim Newell, Krystal Ortiz, Ella Pennington, Robert Quintanilla, Matt Rockwood and Lynda Shadrake.

The Griffin Theatre Company is a Blue Star Theater and is proud to support our military enlisted and veterans. 

Griffin Theatre Company is pleased to continue its 31th anniversary season with W. Somerset Maugham’s classic war drama FOR SERVICES RENDERED, directed by ensemble member Robin Witt*, playing May 19 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre (Upstairs Main Stage), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, May 1 at or by calling (773) 697-3830. The press opening is Sunday, May 26 at 7 pm.

FOR SERVICES RENDERED will feature Israel Antonio, Eddie Dzialo, Matt Fletcher, Jennifer Huddleston, Cindy Marker, Marika Mashburn, Tim Newell, Krystal Ortiz, Ella Pennington, Robert Quintanilla, Matt Rockwood and Lynda Shadrake*.

Years ahead of its time, W. Somerset Maugham’s 1933 landmark play shows the impact of war on civilian life and suggests that the ideals of honor, patriotism and glory mean nothing if we show no care for the victims of conflict. A blistering portrait of the devastating aftermath of war and its effect on its survivors, FOR SERVICES RENDERED continues the Griffin’s exploration and mission to unearth rarely produced classic plays from the past (Men Should Weep, London Wall and Time and the Conways) with relevance to today and introduce them to Chicago audiences for the first time.

The production team for FOR SERVICES RENDERED includes Sotirios Livaditis (scenic design), Aly Renee Amidei (costume design), Brandon Wardell** (lighting design), Thomas Dixon (sound design), Rachel Watson (props design), Adam Goldstein (dialect coach), Lucy Carapetyan (casting director), Spencer Ryan Diedrick (assistant director), Emily Kefferstan (production manager), Derik Marcussen (technical director), Hannah Beehler (stage manager) and Rachelle ‘Rocky’ Kolecke (assistant stage manager).

*Denotes Griffin Theatre ensemble members   **Denote Griffin Theatre artistic associates


Playwright: W. Somerset Maugham
Director: ensemble member Robin Witt*
Cast (in alphabetical order): Israel Antonio (Sydney Ardsley), Eddie Dzialo (Leonard Ardsley), Matt Fletcher (Howard Bartlett), Jennifer Huddleston (Gertrude), Cindy Marker (Gwen Cedar), Marika Mashburn (Eva Ardsley), Tim Newell (Dr. Prentice), Krystal Ortiz (Lois Ardsley), Ella Pennington (Ethel Bartlett), Robert Quintanilla (Collie Stratton), Matt Rockwood (Wilfred Cedar) and Lynda Shadrake* (Charlotte Ardsley).

Understudies: Aida Delaz, Harrison Hapin, Darren Hill, Jennifer Huddleston and Tom Jansson

Location: The Den Theatre (Upstairs Main Stage), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Sunday, May 19 at 3 pm, Tuesday, May 21 at 7:30 pm, Thursday, May 23 at 7:30 pm, Friday, May 24 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 pm
Press performance: Sunday, May 26 at 7 pm
Regular run: Thursday, July 30 – Saturday, July 6, 2019
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, July 4.
Tickets: Previews $28. Regular run $37. Students, seniors & veterans $32 ($23 previews). Group discount are available for groups of ten or more. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, May 1 at or by calling (773) 697-3830.

About the Artists

W. Somerset Maugham (Playwright) was a English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer whose work is characterized by a clear unadorned style, cosmopolitan settings, and a shrewd understanding of human nature. Maugham was orphaned at the age of 10; he was brought up by an uncle and educated at King’s School, Canterbury. After a year at Heidelberg, he entered St. Thomas’ medical school, London, and qualified as a doctor in 1897. He drew upon his experiences as an obstetrician in his first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), and its success, though small, encouraged him to abandon medicine. In 1908 he achieved a theatrical triumph – four plays running in London at once – that brought him financial security. His reputation as a novelist rests primarily on four books: Of Human Bondage (1915), a semi-autobiographical account of a young medical student’s painful progress toward maturity; The Moon and Sixpence (1919), an account of an unconventional artist, suggested by the life of Paul Gauguin; Cakes and Ale (1930), the story of a famous novelist, which is thought to contain caricatures of Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole; and The Razor’s Edge (1944), the story of a young American war veteran’s quest for a satisfying way of life. Maugham’s skill in handling plot, in the manner of Guy de Maupassant, is distinguished by economy and suspense. In The Summing Up (1938) and A Writer’s Notebook (1949) Maugham explains his philosophy of life as a resigned atheism and a certain skepticism about the extent of man’s innate goodness and intelligence; it is this that gives his work its astringent cynicism.

Robin Witt (Director) For Services Rendered is the fifth play Robin has directed for Griffin where she is an ensemble member. Other Griffin productions: London Wall, Men Should Weep, Flare Path, and Stage Door. She is also an ensemble member at Steep Theatre where her productions include Linda by Penelope Skinner, Lela & Co. by Cordelia Lynn, and Wastwater by Simon Stephens. Robin recently directed A Doll’s House Part 2 for Steppenwolf and A Number at Writers Theatre. She is an Associate Professor at UNC Charlotte and she holds a BFA from NYU and a MFA from Northwestern. Next up: Alistair McDowall’s Pomona at Steep Theatre (July/Aug. 2019).

About Griffin Theatre Company
Established in 1988. the mission of the Griffin Theatre Company is to create extraordinary and meaningful theatrical experiences for both children and adults by building bridges of understanding between generations that instill in its audience an appreciation of the performing arts. Through artistic collaboration the Griffin Theatre Company produces literary adaptations, original work and classic plays that challenge and inspire, with wit, style and compassion for the audience.

The Griffin Theatre Company is the recipient of 115 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for theater excellence in Chicago. The Griffin was honored with four 2018 Jeff awards for Ragtime including Best Ensemble, Best Musical, Best Director-Musical and Best Performer in a Supporting Role-Musical. Additionally, the company was the repeat winner of the 2016 Jeff Award for Best Production of a Play for London Wall having won the same award in 2015 for its production of Men Should Weep.

The Griffin Theatre Company is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
 For additional information, visit

SAVE THE DATES: The Chicago Premiere of KENTUCKY Plus New Dates for Hansol Jung’s WOLF PLAY Via The Gift Theatre

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
The Gift Theatre Announces Final Production 2019 Season:

The Chicago Premiere of
By Leah Nanako Winkler
Directed by Ensemble Member Chika Ike
October 17 – November 17, 2019 at Theater Wit
Plus: New Dates for Hansol Jung’s WOLF PLAY

The Gift Theatre is pleased to announce the final play of its 2019 Season: the Chicago premiere of Leah Nanako Winkler’s dark comedy KENTUCKY, directed by ensemble member Chika Ike, playing October 17 – November 17, 2019 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago.

The Gift has also announced new dates for its world premiere of Hansol Jung’s messy, funny and disturbing theatrical experience WOLF PLAY, now slated for July 11 – August 18, 2019. Directed by guest artist Jess McLeod, WOLF PLAY will be presented at The Gift’s home at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood.

The Gift Theatre’s 2019 season opened with an all-ensemble production John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning drama DOUBT: A PARABLE, directed by ensemble member John Gawlik. DOUBT played February 27 – March 31, 2019 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre.

Two-show subscriptions are currently available at or by calling (773) 283-7071.


Two Sisters, Eccentric Parents, A Chatty Cat, And A Born-Again Wedding...What Could Go Wrong?

Hiro is a self-made single, almost 30 woman making it in New York while estranged from her dysfunctional family who lives in Kentucky. When her sister, a born-again Christian, decides to marry at 22, Hiro decides to do whatever she can to stop the wedding and salvage her sister's future. The themes of identity, religion and love collide in this unique coming-of-age story. 

About the Artists
Leah Nanako Winkler (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright from Kamakura, Japan and Lexington, Kentucky. Her plays include God Said This (Winner: 2018 Yale Drama Series, World Premiere: Humana Festival, Off Broadway Premiere: Primary Stages/Cherry Lane), Kentucky (2015 Kilroys List/World premiere: Ensemble Studio Theatre in coproduction with Page 73 and the Radio Drama Network. West Coast Premiere: East West Players) Two Mile Hollow (2017 Kilroys List, simultaneous world premiere with Artists At Play in La, Mixed Blood/Theater Mu in Minneapolis, First Floor Theater in Chicago and Ferocious Lotus in SF), Death For Sydney Black (terraNova Collective, Thinking Cap Theater, 2014 Kilroys Honorable Mention) Diversity Awareness Picnic (Clubbed Thumb/Playwrights Horizons Superlab, 2014 Kilroys Honorable Mention), Double Suicide At Ueno Park (EST/Marathon 2015), Linus and Murray (EST/Marathon 2017) and more.

Chika Ike (Director) is an ensemble member with the Gift Theatre Company, where she is also the Director of the 4802 Residency. She has worked with Public Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Victory Gardens, About Face Theatre Company, Chicago Inclusion Initiative, Chicago Dramatists, and Prologue Theatre Company. Fellowships: Gielgud Directing Fellowship, the Bret C. Harte Directing Fellowship and Victory Garden’s Directors Initiative. Recent productions: A Swell in the Ground (The Gift Theatre), In the Blood (Red Tape Theatre), No Child (Definition Theatre Company), Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea (First Floor Theatre) and Franklinland (Jackalope Theatre Company).  

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 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre (February 27 – March 31); the world premiere of Hansol Jung’s Wolf Play, directed by guest artist Jess McLeod at The Gift Theatre (July 11 – August 18) and Leah Nanako Winkler’s Chicago Premiere KENTUCKY directed by Ensemble Member Chika Ike at Theater Wit (October 17 – November 17). 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 or by calling (773) 283-7071.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

REVIEW: I’M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD Via First Floor Theater at The Den Theatre April 20 – May 18, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Chicago Premiere!
First Floor Theater Presents

By Halley Feiffer
Directed by Cole von Glahn
April 20 – May 18, 2019 at The Den Theatre

(left to right) Amanda Caryl Fink and Tim Kidwell. All Production Photos by WHO IS SHE.

by bonnie kenaz-mara

This fast paced one act puts the nuclear in family, exploring fallout and contamination that lasts generations. Families are complicated, especially when the principal players are driven narcissists with ongoing patterns of abuse. First Floor Theater's latest, a father/daughter drama in this vein, packs a punch. I'm sure it helps that director, Cole von Glahn, has degrees in both Drama and Sociology, because this play is nothing if not dysfunctional relationship based. Sadly, these familial patterns do get passed down through generations, and even when growth and change occurs, there is lasting damage and often role reversals from victims to abusers. Amanda Caryl Fink as Ella and Tim Kidwell as her father David, expertly embody the narcissistic, competitive, destructive dynamic that ricochets from desperate declarations of love and need for approval to loathing and estrangement. 

I’M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD is an intense exploration of the family dynamic of an award winning playwright and his adoring adult daughter and verbal punching bag. It's not always easy to watch the mind games, withholding, addiction, and verbal abuse, or the soul crushing sparring. Yet I'm intrigued by this man's petty cruelty, bullying, and back peddling on what I imagine are actual truths of his youth. This production is an interesting foray into regret, mining family traumas for fodder for creative works, struggle as a necessary precursor for artistic success, and the emotional toll of an industry where success depends on the approval of others and rave reviews. 

I'm also fascinated to see another on stage connection made between substance abuse and religion, with a character sliding between two seemingly opposite poles, that attract the same demographic time and again. I’M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD features David's lifelong habit of prayer that evolves from sarcasm and retribution to sincerity and contrition. Meanwhile, Ella devolves from  a doormat to a dominant, derisive version of her father, while David trades drug addiction and alcoholism for religious addiction and AA. At least the latter is less likely to kill you. There is little action and simplistic set design, and ultimately the outcome is not unexpected, but this production is well played and worth a look. Recommended.

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: (adult) & (family friendly).

First Floor Theater is pleased to conclude its seventh season with the Chicago premiere of Halley Feiffer’s blisteringly funny play I’M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD, directed by Cole von Glahn, playing April 20 – May 18, 2019 at FFT’s resident home, The Den Theatre (2B), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at

I’M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD features Amanda Caryl Fink and Tim Kidwell.

Ella is a precocious and fiercely competitive actress with a desperate need to make her father David, a famous playwright, proud. Over the course of a boozy, drug-fueled evening, Ella and David pass the time digging into family history, artistic passion and unspoken fears as they wait for the reviews, but what is unearthed can't simply be reburied. This daring play pulls the audience into the middle of a deeply complicated relationship, exploring how we build and break idealized versions of our loved ones.

The production team for I’M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD includes: Joy Ahn (scenic design), Alexis Chaney (costume design), Becca Jeffords (lighting design), Sarah Espinoza (sound design), Claire Stone (properties design), Carrie Hardin (dialect coach), Anastar Alvarez (stage manager) and Caitlin McCarthy (production manager).

Location: The Den Theatre (2B), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago

Regular Run: Friday, April 26 – Saturday, May 18, 2019

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

Industry Nights: Monday, April 29 at 7:30 pm and Monday, May 13 at 7:30 pm.

Tickets: Previews: $8. Regular Run: $25. Students $20. Tickets are currently available at

About the Artists
Halley Feiffer (Playwright) Halley Feiffer is a New York-based writer and actress. Her plays have been produced, commissioned and developed by Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, New York Theatre Workshop, LAByrinth Theater Company, The O’Neill, The Orchard Project, Berkshire Theatre Group, Naked Angels, Cape Cod Theatre Project, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Keen Company, Partial Comfort Productions and the Amoralists. She is currently working on a stage adaption of THE BOY KINGS, Kate Losse's memoir about working at Facebook during its rising year. Halley is an alumna of terraNOVA’s Groundbreakers Playwrights’ Group, a former resident writer for Blue Man Group, former Playwright in Residence at Stella Adler Studio and a winner of the Young Playwrights Competition and the Lotos Foundation Prize. She is currently under commission by Manhattan Theatre Club/The Sloan Foundation, Jen Hoguet Productions and Playwrights Horizons. Her work is published by Dramatists Play Service, Overlook Press, Vintage Books, Applause Books, and Smith & Kraus. Halley co-wrote and starred in the 2013 film HE'S WAY MORE FAMOUS THAN YOU, and co-created and stars in the web series WHAT'S YOUR EMERGENCY for (both directed by Michael Urie). She holds a BA from Wesleyan University.

Cole von Glahn (Director) Cole von Glahn is a Chicago-based director and production manager. He has been working with First Floor since moving to Chicago in 2015 before becoming the Director of Production in 2016. In that time, he has produced over a dozen company shows and events. Additionally, Cole serves as the Production Manager at Raven Theatre. In the past, he has administered and managed with Cherry Lane, Neverbird Project, Cleveland Play House, Northlight Theatre, and Marin Theatre Company. Outside of theatre, Cole is a board game designer and collaborative storyteller. He holds degrees in Drama and Sociology from Tufts University.

About First Floor Theater
Founded in 2012, First Floor Theater stages stories of individuals facing moments of radical change. Through a process of collaborative dramaturgy, FFT expands these stories to ask urgent social questions. For more information on First Floor Theater, visit


MAY 31ST 2019

With CLUTCH's Jean-Paul Gaster on Drums/Percussion

The transatlantic trio that is KING HOBO are announcing the release of their album Mauga on Weathermaker Music.  The KING HOBO band members are Thomas Juneor Andersson (Kamchatka) on vocals, guitars & percussion, Per Wiberg (Kamchatka / Spiritual Beggars / Candlemass / ex-Opeth) on vocals, bass, and keys, and Jean-Paul Gaster (Clutch) on drums.

The album was produced by Tobias Strandvik and recorded at his studio in Varberg, Sweden. 

The album cover is designed by Per Wiberg himself.  Per says:
”I wanted to pay homage to all the great labels that inspired the music we play, like Chess, Atlantic, Vee-Jay, Prestige & Blue Note for example.  All these labels had a classy design in their heyday which was immediately recognizable.  That’s why our image is in tri-tone, and the names of the band members together with the label and stereo logo are mentioned on the front cover.  The sci-fi imagery is our little twist.”

Mauga Track Listing:

1. Hobo Ride
2. Dragon’s Tail
3. King Blues
4. Good Stuff
5. Mauga
6. How Come We’re Blind
7. Listen Here
8. Move To The City
9. Twilight Harvest Pt. I & II
10. New Or-sa-leans*

*Bonus Track on the digital release only

The first single from Mauga is “Hobo Ride“ and will be released April 19th, 2019 as an instant gratification track at iTunes and Amazon. That single will be followed by “Listen Here“ (May 3rd), and “Dragon's Tail“ (May 17th). 

Weathermaker Music will release a limited 12" LP in a gatefold format which has been autographed by the three musicians on the inner sleeve, and a digital 10-track version that includes the song "New Or-sa-leans" as a bonus. 

Jean-Paul Gaster on how KING HOBO began:
“Per and I met in 2003 when Spiritual Beggars and Clutch were touring Europe together. Within the first hour of meeting him, he and I had an in depth conversation about the blues and funk and how the Bad Brains were one of the most important bands of all time.  Even though we grew up in countries thousands of miles apart we had an immediate kinship thru our love of the music. 

In the summer 2005 Clutch and Opeth were on the Sounds of the Underground tour. Per was playing with Opeth at the time. After the show he and I would often hang out enjoying a cold beer and listening to everything from Captain Beyond to Black Uhuru and Miles Davis. On a hot and humid evening somewhere in the mid-west one of these listening sessions led to us setting up gear in the bus parking lot and holding an open jam in what we called the funk tent. These jams are where the King Hobo seeds were planted. 

It was at one of the Sounds of the Underground tour dates that Per played me a new release by a Swedish band called Kamchatka. I was blown away by the man playing guitar! He had a soulful voice and played like Stevie Ray Vaughn. This was my introduction to the powerhouse singer and guitarist Thomas Anderson.”

Thomas Juneor Andersson on the sound of KING HOBO:
“In a metaphorical way this is the sound of two continents meeting; Europe, particularly Sweden, and the United States and here particularly the East coast.  When we play, all hell breaks loose.  Our music can, at times be intense and loud, and then again almost like a whisper. Per and JP are my role models, as persons and musicians and it's a huge honor to play with them. We play what we feel and that's the sound of this album. We are three musicians from different parts of the world, friends actually, who are having a musical conversation, as grownups do.”

Per Wiberg on the recording of Mauga:
“We recorded this album the same way as the first, live in the rehearsal room. It’s quite a liberating process compared to how a lot of albums are recorded these days. We set up our gear in a circle and go full on, no headphones or screens to seal off the amps or drums. We jam all through the day to see what we come up with, arrange it on the spot and record.   I really like the fact that it doesn’t feel like a regular recording situation with monitors, click tracks and what not. It feels a lot more exclusive and kinda like a proper gig actually, plus we don’t have to worry what it’s gonna sound like live either, cause this is live in the raw!

The hang out part and easy going vibe adds a lot to how we play together as well and none of this would happen if we didn’t have a guy we trusted in the studio. Toby Strandvik did a tremendous job this time with the technical side of things as this way of recording might not be an engineers’ wet dream so to speak.

The journey is just as much worth as the destination to us and I think we found the Hobo way of capturing the moment."


Thomas Juneor Andersson on vocals, guitars & percussion.
Per Wiberg on vocals, bass, and keys
Jean-Paul Gaster - Drums/Percussion

Casting Announced: Chicago Premiere of GHOST QUARTET Via Black Button Eyes Productions at Stage 773 July 12 – August 17, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Black Button Eyes Productions
Announces Casting for Chicago Premiere of
Book, Music & Lyrics by Dave Malloy
Directed by Ed Rutherford
Music Direction by Nick Sula
Choreography by Derek Van Barham

July 12 – August 17, 2019 at Stage 773

Black Button Eyes Productions is pleased to announce casting for its Chicago premiere of GHOST QUARTET, an intriguing and entertaining song cycle by Dave Malloy, directed by Artistic Director Ed Rutherford, with music direction by Nick Sula and choreography by Derek Van Barham.

The cast includes TJ Anderson, Alexander Ellsworth, Rachel Guth and Amanda Raquel Martinez.

GHOST QUARTET will play July 12 – August 17, 2019 at at Stage 773 (The Box), 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at, in person at the Stage 773 box office or by calling (773) 327-5252. The press opening is Friday, July 19, 2019 at 7:30 pm.

From the mind of Broadway composer Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812) comes a musical ghost story of four friends who love each other, kill each other, and drink whiskey across centuries and lifetimes. GHOST QUARTET delightfully mashes up Grimms’ fairy tales, Edgar Allan Poe, Arabian Nights, Sondheim, Thelonious Monk and more. 

The production team for GHOST QUARTET includes Jeremy Hollis (scenic design), Beth Laske-Miller (costume design), Liz Cooper (lighting design), Robert Hornbostel (sound design), G. Max Maxin IV (projections design) and Alexa Berkowitz (stage manager).

Location: Stage 773 (The Box), 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Friday, July 12 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, July 13 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, July 14 at 2 pm and Thursday, July 18 at 7:30 pm

Press performance: Friday, July 19, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Saturday, July 20 – Saturday, August 17, 2019

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2 pm.

Tickets: $30. Tickets are currently available at, in person at the Stage 773 box office or by calling (773) 327-5252.

About the Artists:
Ed Rutherford (Director) Directing credits for Black Button Eyes include Evil Dead the Musical, Nightmares & Nightcaps: The Stories of John Collier, Nevermore, Shockheaded Peter, Amour, Goblin Market, and Coraline. He is an artistic associate with Promethean Theatre Ensemble, where he directed The Liar, his own adaptation of Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle and the company's inaugural production, Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy. Directing with Brown Paper Box Co: The Baltimore Waltz. As an actor, he's performed with Drury Lane Oakbrook, Porchlight, Theater Wit and many others. A graduate of Northwestern's theater program, he recently completed his MBA at Kellogg.

Nick Sula (Music Director) Nick is a pianist, arranger and award-winning music director for theater and cabaret. He is proud to return to Black Button Eyes Productions, where he was music director for Coraline, Amour and Nevermore. Other music direction credits include productions with Porchlight Music Theatre, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, Pride Films and Plays, Chicago Theatre Workshop, Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. Nick performs with vocalists at theaters and cabaret venues such as Davenport’s, Petterino’s, Drew’s on Halsted, Stage 773, Victory Gardens, and the Park West. He is an instructor, music director and vocal coach at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

Derek Van Barham (Choreographer) 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. Choreography credits include The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier and BITE (PFP), all Black Button Eyes productions, and Salonathon. Other directing credits include The View Upstairs (Circle Theatre), Three Days of Rain (Boho), and Miracle!by Dan Savage and Poseidon (Hell in a Handbag). He was named one of Windy City Times 30 Under 30, recognizing Chicago's LGBTQ+ community.     

About Black Button Eyes Productions
The 2019-20 season continues Black Button Eyes Productions' mission to bring to Chicago premieres and seldom-seen works containing elements of fantasy, in which the magical and surreal invade reality. The company was founded in 2014 with the acclaimed Midwest premiere of the musical Coraline, followed by Goblin Market, Amour, Shockheaded Peter, Nevermore-The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, and the world premiere Nightmares and Nightcaps: The Stories of John Collier. Most recently the company presented the smash hit Chicago Storefront Premiere of Evil Dead the Musical.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

REVIEW: Afterglow at Buena Pride Arts Center Now Extended 4 Weeks Through June 2, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
AUDIENCE ADVISORY: Includes male nudity. Suitable for audiences 18+

Guest Review 
by Milan Pejnovich 
What to say about Afterglow, the Chicago premiere of the Off-Broadway hit that is now playing at the Buena Pride Arts Center in a production by Pride Films and Plays and has already been extended by a month to June 2? Suffice it to say that its appeal was lost on me. A gay couple, played by Jacob Barnes and the much better Richard Holton, have an open relationship and bring in a third, played by Jesse James Montoya, for spice and fun. Things get complicated when one half of the couple falls in mutual love with the third, spoiling their plans for a baby already well into its surrogate's pregnancy.

L-R: Jacob Barnes, Jesse Montoya. Photos by Heather Mall.

L-R: Jacob Barnes, Jesse Montoya, Rich Holton. 

Does this surprise anyone? Of course, there's full frontal male nudity and a credit for an "intimacy choreographer," so if you, like 99% of the audience at the performance I attended, are a gay guy looking for naked hotties doing soft porn in the flesh, then you too can contribute to its sold out houses and extended run. But if you, like me, think it's stupid people making stupid decisions and suffering the stupid consequences, I'd save your money for the hard stuff you can find online.

Milan Pejnovich has nearly 30 years of experience in marketing and the performing arts, including positions as the Audience Services Manager at Court Theatre and the Marketing Manager at Northlight Theatre. He also spent many years in house manager positions at Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts, About Face Theatre, Court Theatre, and Northwestern University. He is currently the manager of Strategic Marketing for the Arts, which provides telemarketing and telefunding services to over three dozen non-profit arts organizations nationwide, including Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Playwrights Horizons and MCC Theater off-Broadway, and the Omaha Symphony, Long Beach Opera, Denver Film Society and Cincinnati Ballet.

Chicago premiere of AFTERGLOW now extended four weeks
New closing date for this gay-themed drama is June 2

The Chicago Premiere of AFTERGLOW, an off-Broadway hit from 2017 exploring the emotional, intellectual, and physical connections between three men and the broader implications within their relationships, will be extended for an additional four weeks to meet demand. The drama, directed by Pride Films and Plays Executive Director David Zak, which opened on March 27, was originally scheduled to close on Sunday, May 5 but will now play until Sunday, June 2 in the Buena Theatre of the Pride Arts Center. 

Colin Douglas of CHICAGO THEATRE REVIEW, said ‘It’s an exciting production that’s sure to be talked about for a long time.” Lawrence Bommer, writing for STAGE AND CINEMA, said “AFTERGLOW shines.” WINDY CITY TIMES reviewer Jerry Nunn said AFTERGLOW is  a “concise piece that digs into heavy topics such as love, loyalty, sex, trust and parenthood.”

Josh and Alex are a gay male married couple in an open relationship. The two invite another man, Darius, to share their bed one night.  When a new intimate connection begins to form, all three men must come to terms with their individual definitions of love, loyalty, and trust as futures are questioned, relationships are shaken, and commitments are challenged.

Zak’s production team for AFTERGLOW includes Kailee Tomasic (Scenic and Props Design), Dan Lewis (Lighting Design), Shawn Quinlan (Costume Design), Jared Sutton (Sound Design & Original Music), Reed Bentley (Intimacy Choreographer), Kyle Mayes (Assistant Intimacy Director), Daniel Washelesky (Assistant Director), and Michael Starcher (Stage Manager).

AFTERGLOW played fourteen months, from June 2017 through August 2018, at the off-Broadway Davenport Theatre in New York City. The nationally distributed, LGBT-focused magazine THE ADVOCATE, said it "Penetrates the psyche in a way that many gay men will find relatable. A gritty tale of commitment on the cusp of questioning its boundaries, the incredible acting and intense writing propels the audience’s minds and hearts into their emotional plights."

Premium seats $40, general admission seats $30, student/senior/military $25 (not valid Saturdays). Flex Passes available for $144 are good for six reserved seats with priority seating for the patron’s choice of shows. 

AFTERGLOW is performed in the 44-seat Buena Theatre of the Pride Arts Center. Tickets available by phone at 866-811-4111 or 773-857-0222 or online at

Make it a Double:

**NOTE: BUYER & CELLAR Performance Schedule Update
Sunday matinees moved up to a 2:00 pm curtain time to enable a PFP “Double Feature” with AFTERGLOW

All Sunday matinees for Pride Films and Plays’ production of Jonathan Tolins’s BUYER & CELLAR have been rescheduled to a 2 pm curtain, an hour-and-one half earlier than previously announced.  The change was made to make it possible for patrons to attend on a single afternoon both plays that will be playing at the two-stage Pride Arts Center in April and May. BUYER & CELLAR, which will start performances on April 11 in the 85-seat Broadway Theatre at 4139 N. Broadway, will begin its Sunday matinees at 2 pm and let out shortly after 3:30 pm. This will allow a 25-30-minute break before the 4 pm Sunday matinees of AFTERGLOW, performed in the 44-seat Buena Theatre at 4147 N. Broadway. AFTERGLOW, which opened on March 27,  has a running time of approximately 80 minutes with no intermission, and lets out at approximately 5:20 pm. Separate tickets are required for the two plays.

Emmy Award winner and Chicago Musical Theatre and Cabaret performer Scott Gryder will star in Pride Films and Plays’ upcoming production of Jonathan Tolins’s one-man comedy BUYER & CELLAR, directed by Donterrio Johnson. Gryder will play all the characters in Tolin’s comedy, but most notably, the role of Alex More - a struggling actor who takes a job managing a make-believe shopping mall in the basement of Barbra Streisand’s Malibu home.

Gryder’s Chicago stage credits include JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Lyric Opera) and THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE (Drury Lane Water Tower), THE GOLDEN GIRLS – THE LOST EPISODES (Hell in a Handbag), AMOUR (Black Button Eyes), and SOUTH PACIFIC (Light Opera Works). He has performed in cabarets at such venues as Davenport's, Victory Gardens Theater, and Auditorium Theatre's Katten-Landau Studio. Gryder has a B.A. in Theater from Texas Tech University. MeTV’s GREEN SCREEN ADVENTURES earned him three National Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup.

BUYER & CELLAR was a 2013 off-Broadway hit, running for 13 months at the Barrow Street Theatre immediately after its sold-out world premiere at the Rattlestick Theatre. A national tour starring Michael Urie played Chicago for six weeks in 2014. It has been performed in many countries around the world since then. This will be the play’s first Chicago production since the tour’s engagement here.

Tolins, whose other playwriting credits include the gay-themed comedies LAST SUNDAY IN JUNE and THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS, was inspired to write BUYER & CELLAR after reading about Streisand’s real-life faux mall in her book, MY PASSION FOR DESIGN. Tolins’s comedy begins with the truth of the mall – a showcase for her collectibles like dolls and antique clothing – and imagines what it might be like to be the custodian of such a place for such a celebrity. BUYER & CELLAR is an outrageous comedy about the price of fame, the cost of things, and the oddest of odd jobs.

BUYER & CELLAR will be performed in the 85-seat Broadway Theatre of the Pride Arts Center. It will open to the press on Monday, April 15 following previews from Thursday, April 11; and will play through Sunday, May 19, 2019. BUYER & CELLAR joins the schedule of shows previously announced for spring at Pride Arts Center, including the musical SOUTHERN COMFORT, opening to the press on March 4; the drama AFTERGLOW, opening on March 27; and the world premiere of DESIRE IN A TINIER HOUSE on June 3. 

Scott Gryder (Alex More) has been seen throughout Chicagoland, with appearances including JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Lyric Opera Chicago), THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE (Drury Lane Theatre at Water Tower Place), and SOUTH PACIFIC (Light Opera Works). He has performed in cabarets at such venues as Davenport's, Victory Gardens Theater, and Auditorium Theatre's Katten-Landau Studio. Gryder has a B.A. in Theater from Texas Tech University. MeTV’s GREEN SCREEN ADVENTURES earned him three National Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. For more info, visit

Donterrio Johnson (Director) is excited to be back at home with Pride Films and Plays - this time behind the table directing this new exciting production of BUYER AND CELLAR by Jonathan Tolins. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for intricate storytelling that is thought-provoking and modernistic, Donterrio Johnson has created some incredible art as both actor and director over the past 15 years. He was a Jeff Award-winner for his Judas Iscariot in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR with Theo Ubique and has earned raves for his Dan in NEXT TO NORMAL and his Caldwell B. Cladwell in  URINETOWN, both with BoHo Theatre. He has also appeared in the Chicago cast of SPAMILTON and as Leading Player in PIPPIN at Mercury Theater and recently  returned from a year-long stint in the National Tour of WAITRESS. Johnson’s notable directing credits include: THE COLORED MUSEUM, 101 DALMATIANS , EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES WILLY WONKA, LAST FIVE YEARS, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS  AND THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE. Donterrio has worked with companies such as Pulse Theatre Company, Prisco Center, and The REPA Center.

Previews Thursday, April 11 through Saturday April 13 at 7:30 pm, Sunday April 14 at 3:30 pm,

Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm through May 19
Premium seats $40, general admission seats $30, student/senior/military $25 (not valid Saturdays)

Pride Films and Plays is working to produce year-round theater and film projects that change lives through the generation of diverse new work (or work that is new to Chicago) with LGBTQ+ characters or themes that are essential viewing for all audiences. The company produces a five-play season of full productions, shoots one short film each year, and continues our famed play developmental projects. PFP is the principal tenant in Pride Arts Center. 

Pride Arts Center produces events complementing the PFP vision, including dance, cabaret, film, and more. Events can be one-night or limited run productions or feature national treasures like Charles Busch.  PAC occupies The Broadway at 4139 N. Broadway, which has 85 seats, and The Buena, which has 50 seats at 4147 N Broadway.

Pride Films and Plays is supported by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard Driehaus Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago’s City Arts Fund, the Elliott Fredland Charitable Trust, Proud to Run, The Pauls Foundation, The Heath Fund, The Service Club of Chicago, the AmazonSmile Foundation, Arts and Business Foundation, Tap Root Foundation, Arts and Business Council, and Alphawood Foundation. 

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

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