Thursday, May 30, 2019

REVIEW: Griffin Theatre Company's FOR SERVICES RENDERED May 19 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Griffin Theatre Company Presents
By W. Somerset Maugham
Directed by Robin Witt

May 19 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre

(left to right) Lynda Shadrake, Israel Antonio, Ella Pennington, Krystal Ortiz, Tim Newell 
and Cindy Marker 
All Photos by Michael Brosilow.

by bonnie kenaz-mara

FOR SERVICES RENDERED is a great period piece with gorgeous costumes, a lovely set, compelling characters, and a biting message. Griffin Theatre's  excellent production not only crosses the pond, but spans nearly a century to remain eerily relevant. As long as homeless veterans line our highway on ramps, and an average of 22 US servicemen commit suicide daily, this production should awaken equal parts compassion and rage, and a burning passion to change the way we treat our returning soldiers. 

(left to right) Marika Mashburn and Robert Quintanilla 
Photo by Michael Brosilow.

We still live in an era where earmarking funds for caring for injured soldiers' physical and mental health is considered too expensive, and yet the military industrial complex gobbles up billions annually in an ever expanding budget. 

(left to right) Marika Mashburn, Ella Pennington and Krystal Ortiz 
Photo by Michael Brosilow.

FOR SERVICES RENDERED offers an array of interesting, nuanced, female roles with depth and insight unusual for the 1930's. They provide a glimpse into the lives and inner lives of those who bear the brunt of the caregiving when soldiers return injured and/or traumatized. These women have desires, dreams and schemes apart from the men in their lives, and it's refreshing to see them making unpredictable choices. 

Sure, some of the opportunities for women have improved since this play's 1932 inception, and the unmarried aren't automatically relegated to old maid purgatory. Yet a shocking amount of the abhorrent behavior of older, married men toward teenage girls is still occurring in our current #MeToo climate. And women are still too often held hostage to the economic and philandering whims of their partners. 

(left to right) Krystal Ortiz and Matt Fletcher
Photo by Michael Brosilow.

(left to right) Krystal Ortiz and Matt Rockwood
Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Kristal Ortiz as desirable daughter, Lois Ardsley, Israel Antonio as injured veteran, Sydney Ardsley, and Lynda Shadrake as matriarch, Charlotte Ardsley, are particular standouts among a superb cast. I caught the opening Memorial Day weekend, and this is an excellent and timely choice as Chicago's veterans in need become more visible in the spring and summer months. Highly recommended.

(left to right) Israel Antonio and Lynda Shadrake 
Photo by Michael Brosilow. 

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). 

(left to right) Ella Pennington and Krystal Ortiz
Photo by Michael Brosilow.


Griffin Theatre Company is pleased to continue its 31st 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 are currently available at or by calling (773) 697-3830. The press opening is Sunday, May 26 at 7 pm.

FOR SERVICES RENDERED features 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 1932 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

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 and Tom Jansson.

Location: The Den Theatre (Upstairs Main Stage), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

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 are currently available at or by calling (773) 697-3830.

About the Artists
W. Somerset Maugham (Playwright) was an 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).

The Griffin Theatre Company's 2018/2019 Premiere Season Sponsors are Michael and Mona Heath.

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

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

(left to right) Eddie Dzialo, Israel Antonio, Krystal Ortiz, Marika Mashburn, Ella Pennington and Matt Fletcher in Griffin Theatre Company’s production of FOR SERVICES RENDERED. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

CASTING ANNOUNCED: U.S. Premiere of SONS AND LOVERS August 29 – September 29, 2019 at Greenhouse Theater Center

Greenhouse Theater Center & On The Spot Theatre
Announce Casting for the U.S. Premiere of

Based on the novel by D.H. Lawrence
Adapted and Directed by Mike Brayndick

August 29 – September 29, 2019 at Greenhouse Theater Center

The Greenhouse Theater Center and On The Spot Theatre are pleased to announce casting for the U.S. premiere of the full-length drama SONS AND LOVERS, based on the novel by D.H. Lawrence and adapted and directed by On The Spot Artistic Director Mike Brayndick.

SONS AND LOVERS will play August 29 – September 29, 2019 in The Greenhouse Theater Center’s (Upstairs Studio), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336. The press opening is Saturday, August 31 at 7:30 pm.

The cast includes Pete Blatchford, Brian Boller, Miles Borchard, Emma Brayndick, Baird Brutscher, Erika Caldwell, Heidi Drennan, Stephen Dunn, Amy Gray, Corrie Riedl, Andrew Rowson and Tina Shelley.

(top, l to r) Pete Blatchford, Brian Boller, Miles Borchard, Emma Brayndick, Baird Brutscher and Erika Caldwell with (bottom, l to r) Heidi Drennan, Stephen Dunn, Amy Gray, Corrie Riedl, Andrew Rowson and Tina Shelley.

Set in England during the first decade of the twentieth century, SONS AND LOVERS dramatizes the early years of the spirited and lyrically inspired writer D.H. Lawrence as he charted his course from a Midlands coal mining town into the larger world. The story portrays his parents’ turbulent, mismatched marriage, his own first affairs of the heart, and his mother’s jealousy about the women he brought into his life. In the process, Lawrence developed his views on the mystical role of sexuality in shaping the soul and the power of determined creativity to overcome dark circumstances.   

Comments Director Mike Brayndick, “D.H. Lawrence was rhapsodic about the glories of our physical and spiritual being. He also provided an unstinting vision of human flaws. Written in 1913, Sons and Lovers has a very modern resonance dynamically revealing the tension between the desire for love and the need for a fulfilled individuality. This play tells the story from the perspective of his older self who relives the past he must constantly rediscover, ruefully struggling to grow and be free in the present of a time-haunted life.”

The production team includes Emma Brayndick and Pat Henderson (scenic design), Casey Brayndick and Andy Long (sound design), Andy Long (stage manager) and Andrew Rowson (production assistant).

Location: The Greenhouse Theater Center (Upstairs Studio), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago

Dates: Previews: Thursday, August 29 at 7:30 pm and Friday, August 30 at 7:30 pm
Press Performance: Saturday, August 31 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Sunday, September 1 – Sunday, September 29, 2019
Curtain times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm.

Tickets: Previews: $20 Regular run: $20 - $29. Discounts: $25 students/seniors/groups. On The Spot donates a limited number of tickets for each performance to Vet Tix, which provides free tickets to veterans. Group discounts are available. Tickets are currently available at, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336.

About the Artists
Mike Brayndick (Adapter/Director) is the Artistic Director of On The Spot Theatre Company. He began as resident writer at the Chicago Playwrights’ Center with Fragments from the Permanent Collection, Connecting Flight, Anna Gerhardt and In the Garden of the Prison, also broadcast on WJUF. His adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers commissioned by Traffic of the Stage in Hampstead toured the UK and was performed at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre. Smithsonian and Luce Foundation grants led to How to Make a Rainbow, developed at the Juilliard, and directed by Mike at the 2005 St. Ives Festival in the UK and the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago in 2013. Also at the Greenhouse, On The Spot presented his adaptations of Turgenev's Home of the Gentry and Balzac's, Pére Goriot, as well as his original works, Pieces of Klee, Lisette Dances Divine and Scenes For A Green World.  Mike's contemporary comedies Only You Could Think That, What About Martha, All About Armando, Sex Lives of the Zebra Finch and Lost and Found have all been produced in Chicago. Most recently, his full-length romance set in 1950’s Cornwall, England, Called Home By the Sea, was performed at Berger Park Coach House Theatre along with his one-act farce set in contemporary London, Rondelay.

About the Companies

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

GTC began its producing life in 2014 with the smash hit Churchill, followed by 2016’s much-lauded Solo Celebration!, an eight month, 16 event series highlighting the breadth and depth of the solo play form. In 2017-18, the Greenhouse presented its first full subscription season, including Machinal (4 stars from Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones), a remount of the Jeff Award-winning Rose and the Chicago premiere of Birds of a Feather. 

As a performance venue, the Greenhouse complex offers two newly-remodeled 198-seat main stage spaces, two 60-seat studio theaters, a newly-built 44-seat cabaret space, two high-capacity lobbies and an in-house rehearsal room. GTC also houses Chicago’s only dedicated used theatre bookstore, located on the second floor the complex. 

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

On The Spot Theatre Company was created in 2003 by Mike Brayndick to develop and stage new plays for performance “on the spot” in a variety of venues. In the new play development process, Mike creates a collaborative space in which he works with actors to allow characters and stories to evolve out of a few initial scripted scenes or the exploration of a germ idea. Each week he brings in more scenes for the actors to play with as the script grows into a whole. Discussion of the play continues as it goes through multiple readings in the workshop from one draft to the next. On The Spot intends to continue to expand the ensemble and develop new plays in the evolving method outlined above. For additional information, visit


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

JUNE 8 – JUNE 30 

 Photo Credit for all: Josh Hawkins

A Near-Future Apocalyptic Story Told through Tap Dance, Original Live Music and Narration by Slam Poetry Creator Marc Kelly Smith

Artistic Director Mark Yonally and Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT) are proud to present Saving The World, a science fiction tap dance story show set to all-original music composed and performed live by Diana Lawrence, directed by Raphael Schwartzman, written by Slam Poetry Creator Marc Kelly Smith and choreographed by Yonally, June 8 – June 30, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Opening night is Saturday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. The performance schedule is Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.  Tickets are $40 for adults, $30 for seniors, students and dancers. Group discounts are also available. For tickets, go to or call the Stage 773 box office at 773.327.5252. 

Saving The World is Chicago Tap Theater’s first all new story show in three years since 2016’s award-winning Time Steps and 2017’s box office smash Changes. From the creative team behind Time Steps, comes a show about pride, arrogance and demagogues. CTT Writer-in-Residence (and creator of the world-wide Slam Poetry genre) Marc Kelly Smith weaves a brand new tale of the near future.  As a corporation begins to aid those hit by every-increasing natural disasters, a collision between helping those who need it most and profiting mightily from them is looming. Throughout the performance tap dancers, with the aid of video projection, will be embodying the natural disasters, including tornadoes and tsunamis.

“Marc Smith has really laid it all out there for this one,” said Yonally, “I feel since we first started working together there were themes that recurred through his work, and this show is, in many ways, is the culmination of all of his work with Chicago Tap Theatre.” Yonally continued, “We are working with a new director for this production, and he, along with the script by Marc, are pushing us to try truly new and innovative things. Even if you’ve seen every story show, you will see a LOT of new ideas on stage.”

That new director, Raphael Schwartzman, is a noted movement theater director creating his first tap opera with Chicago Tap Theatre. Schwartzman brings a fresh new approach to narrative dance, along with a stronger focus on emotional resonance and depth of character. CTT is proud to work with composer/Music Director Diana Lawrence, who is creating an all-original score for Saving The World that features live performances by her and two other musicians. This score veers from rock opera to folk to 80s chip tune.

The cast includes: Jennifer Pfaff Yonally, Kirsten Uttich, Isaac Stauffer, Aimee Chase, Mark Yonally, Christopher Matthews, Anabel Watson, Bailey Caves, Heather Latakas, Sterling Harris, Case Prime and Molly Smith .The production staff includes Sarah Lackner, production and stage manager; Dustin Derry, projection design; Emma Cullimore, costume design; Jimmy Jagos, set and prop design


Marc Kelly Smith is the creator of the international Poetry Slam movement and has performed weekly at the Uptown Poetry Slam (now the Uptown Poetry Cabaret) since 1986. He has chalked up over 3,000 national and international engagements and is highly sought after as the authority on performance poetry. In the past seven years he has created six all-original shows with Chicago Tap Theatre as their Writer-in-Residence, including Eyes Without a Face, LoveTaps, TightWire, Mama’s Boy and the award winning TimeSteps (Top 10 Dance Events of the Year, Chicago Tribune and Best New Production of 2016, Dance Magazine Reader’s Poll).


Raphael Schwartzman is over the moon to direct Saving the World with Chicago Tap Theatre. A graduate of Butler University in Indiana, Schwartzman has worked in the Chicago theatre scene for the better part of the last decade.  He's also trained and made theatre in the UK, Russia, and Italy.  Chicago directing credits include The Curse on Mordrake House (Chicago Fringe Festival), Thinking Sacks of Meat (Piccolo Theatre), and Visiting Hours (MadKap Productions). 

ABOUT MARK YONALLY, choreographer

Mark Yonally is the founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Tap Theatre, one of the most critically well-regarded dance companies in Chicago. They perform an annual three-show season in Chicago and tour both throughout America and Europe. Their performances have been chosen as the Top Ten Dance events of the year by the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, SeeChicagoDance and Windy City Media. Their 2016 Time Travel Story Shoe, “TimeSteps” was selected as the Best New Production of 2016 by the Dance Magazine Reader’s Poll. Yonally has developed a national and international reputation as a performer, with solo performances in Chicago, Helsinki, Barcelona, New York, Amsterdam and Paris. He has been blessed to have Sam Weber, Sarah Petronio, Dianne Walker, Bill Evans and Billy Siegenfeld as mentors. He has also recorded with live musicians, including an appearance with the Polyphonic Spree on their song “Mental Cabaret” and on stage with them at Lollapalooza.

ABOUT DIANA LAWERNCE, music director 

As a music director and improviser, Diana  Lawernce has worked with organizations such as The Second City, the Goodman Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Lawernce created original music for Steppenwolf Theatre’s 2016 premiere of Mary Page Marlowe, and her musical, Mill Girls, was granted a 2018/19 Incubator workshop at the O’Neill Theatre Center. Lawerence is also a teaching artist with Storycatchers Theatre, where she creates musical theater with incarcerated youth. L


Founded in 2002, Chicago Tap Theatre is a growing and vibrant dance company dedicated to preserving the quintessentially American dance form of tap while taking it to the next level of creativity, innovation and quality. CTT performs exclusively with live music provided by some of Chicago’s finest musicians playing everything from Duke Ellington to David Bowie and many artists in between. Under the dynamic direction of master teacher and performer Mark Yonally, CTT has gained a loyal and sizable following in Chicago and continues to tour both nationally and internationally. Having pioneered the “tap opera” format, which tells stories with compelling characters and intriguing plots, CTT has used the language of tap dance, live music and narration to move Chicago audiences for over 10 years.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
JUNE 7 – 22 
ComedySportz Chicago (CSZ) will Host First Pride Month Program by Celebrating LGBTQIA+ members in Select Performances Every Week in Junet

(L to R): Mishell Livio, Simon Collier, Cynthia Kmak, Jason Geis, Kevin Daliva
by Edward Fox Photography 

ComedySportz Chicago (CSZ) will commence Pride Month with the company’s very first ComedySportz Chicago Pride Month featuring a series of performances,and a Pride Weekend celebration with CSZ’s LGBTQIA+ cast members from June 7 – 22 at ComedySportz Theater Chicago, 929 W. Belmont Ave.  A special one-night only 18+ Rainbow A-Go-Go Variety Show will take place Saturday, June 22 at 10 p.m. In addition to the regular performance schedule, the company will hold family-friendly performances. These all-ages performances will be Fridays  June 7, 14, and Saturday, June 22 at 6 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 a person for 6  and 8 p.m. shows and $10 a person for the 10 p.m. performances and may be purchased at or by calling 773-549-8080.
Members of the ComedySportz Chicago’s LGBTQIA+ ensemble including Simon Collier, Artistic Director Jason Geis and ensemble member and D&I Director Luis Cortes are organizing the event, as well as performing. All performances will contain an all LGBTQIA+ cast, made up of ComedySportz Chicago ensemble members and they will be performing in the classic ComedySportz format with new and unique LGBT takes on each match.

The theatre will also sell a signature cocktail, The Pride Tai, created by our Audience Services Director, Nicko Patterson (who is also a member of the LGBTQIA+ community)  with 100% of the profits going to the Pride month partner Howard Brown Health. Howard Brown Health exists to eliminate the disparities in healthcare experience by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through research, education and the provision of services that promote health and wellness.


ComedySportz is the longest-running, game-based, short form improv comedy show in the comedy capital of the world, perfect for all ages, offering comedy for everyone! ComedySportz's interactive format is emceed by a referee overseeing a hilarious battle of wits between the home team, the blue Downtown Chicago Bosses, and the "visiting" red team, scored by live keyboard music and rocking popular music between scenes! Using audience suggestions and willing volunteers, our professional players create short games, scenes and songs on the spot, and the winner is determined by the Applause-o-Meter and your laughs.
ComedySportz Chicago (CSZ) will commence Pride Month with the company’s very first ComedySportz Chicago Pride Month featuring a series of performances,and a Pride Weekend celebration with CSZ’s LGBTQIA+ cast members from June 7 – 22 at ComedySportz Theater Chicago, 929 W. Belmont Ave.  A special one-night only 18+ Rainbow A-Go-Go Variety Show will take place Saturday, June 22 at 10 p.m. In addition to the regular performance schedule, the company will hold family-friendly performances. These all-ages performances will be Fridays June 7, 14, and Saturday, June 22 at 6 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 a person for 6  and 8 p.m. shows and $10 a person for the 10 p.m. performances and may be purchased at or by calling 773-549-8080.


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar


A Dark Fantastical Look at the Rural Midwest and the Prejudices that Lie Beneath 
Written by Cloudgate Theatre Artistic Director and Kennedy Center’s 
Paula Vogel Playwriting Award Recipient Kristin Idaszak 
and Directed by Addie Gorlin

Cloudgate Theatre announces the world premiere of Strange Heart Beating, July 9 – July 27, at The Frontier, 1106 W. Thorndale. This mystery-inspired play is written by Cloudgate Artistic Director Kristin Idaszak and directed by Addie Gorlin. Previews are Tuesday, July 9, Thursday, July 11 and Friday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m. Press are invited to attend either of the following opening dates: Saturday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday, July 14 at 5 p.m. Performance times are Mondays and, Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. 

(L to R) Jyreika Guest (Teeny), Leah Raidt (Lena), Brandon Rodriguez (Ramon) 
and Stephanie Shum (Lake)

Ticket are “Pay What You Want” in advance; ticket prices range from $5 - $45. Cloudgate also offers an open door policy the day of performances that provides free tickets at the door, based on availability. Tickets are available at

A world premiere, Strange Heart Beating is a darkly fantastical look at the rural Midwest, the murky nature of justice, and the prejudices that lie just beneath the surface. Teeny and Lena grew up together in a rural midwestern town, dreaming of leaving for the big city. But now Teeny is the town sheriff and Lena is a newly single mother. When the body of Lena’s daughter is found near the lake outside of town, their friendship is stretched to the breaking point.  But Teeny’s investigation raises more questions than it answers: Have girls been going missing for years? Why are the loons acting so strange? What is the town hiding? Strange Heart Beating is a play about holding vigil, bearing witness, and unburying the truth.

The cast for A Strange Heart Beating includes: Jyreika Guest (Teeny), Leah Raidt (Lena), Brandon Rodriguez (Ramon) and Stephanie Shum (Lake).

The production team includes: Kristin Idaszak, playwright; Addie Gorlin, director; Elena Gonzalez Molina, assistant director; Tara Branham*, casting director; Tanuja Jagernauth*, dramaturg; Lila Gilbert*, production manager; Angela McIlvain, scenic designer; Anna Wooden*, costume designer; Kaili Story, lighting designer; Averi Paulsen, sound designer; Jay Epps, stage manager; Dominic DiGiovanni*, technical director; and Shane Kelly (producer). * Indicates Cloudgate Artistic Associate


Kristin Idaszak is a playwright, dramaturg, and Cloudgate’s artistic director. A two-time Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow, Idaszak has received the Kennedy Center’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and the Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award. Her play, Another Jungle, (Relentless Award Honorable Mention) received its world premiere with Cloudgate Theatre and The Syndicate in April 2018. She was the Shank Playwright in Residence at the Goodman Theatre and a member of the 2017-2018 Goodman Playwrights Unit. She has received commissions from EST/The Sloan Foundation, Cleveland Play House, and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. Her work has been produced or developed by the Goodman Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, Ensemble Studio Theatre, SPACE at Ryder Farm, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Renaissance Theaterworks, The Drama League, and WildClaw, among others. Idaszak is also a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and adjunct faculty at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Previously, Idaszak served as associate artistic director/literary manager of Caffeine Theatre and associate artistic director of Collaboraction. 


Addie Gorlin hails from Minneapolis and is a director, educator and aspiring artistic director invested in the regional theater movement. Her most recent directing credits include Next to Normal (Brown University undergrad mainstage), Good Person of Szechwan, Eurydice, Twelfth Night, and Streetcar Named Desire (Brown/Trinity), Charm and According to Coyote (Mixed Blood Theatre), Laramie Project (Children’s Theater), I and You (Phoenix Theater), and Five Tries (Cutting Ball Theatre). Gorlin has developed new work at The Playwrights Center, The Lark, Mixed Blood, Riverside Theater, Ivoryton Playhouse, Brown University, and has served as assistant director at The Guthrie, The Public, and Trinity Rep among various others. Fellowships include Artistic Management and Directing at the Cutting Ball Theater and the National New Play Network (NNPN) Producer-in-Residence grant through which she apprenticed in artistic direction at Mixed Blood Theatre. While not in school and freelance directing, Gorlin stays actively engaged in civic theater practice, is a member of the NNPN's Affiliated Artist Council and strategic planning committee and continues to teach: she holds a credential as a 6-12th grade English and Drama teacher which she obtained via Teach for America. B.A. Dartmouth College. M.F.A. candidate Brown/Trinity 2019.

Cloudgate Theatre produces fiercely theatrical new plays from a queer feminist lens. Prioritizing sustainability and harm reduction, Cloudgate focuses on human-centered artistic practices. It believes that caring for and listening to the artists they work with engenders vibrant, dynamic experiences for its audiences. With each production, the company starts by asking how best to serve the needs of its collaborators and to take its audience on a uniquely theatrical journey.

Cloudgate Theatre creates theatre and performance that challenge the norms of American theatre through intersectional queer feminist narratives. It believes that the theatre is the place to imagine a more liveable world, and work to make it real. The company seeks to create theatrical experiences that foster community, question authority, and offer meaning.


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar


Marisa Bucheit as Princess Laya/Suzanna courtesy of Folks Operetta. 

JUNE 29 – JULY 14 AT STAGE 773 

The Production is a Return to the Golden Era of 
Hollywood Musicals with Ábrahám’s Captivating Score

Folks Operetta continues its Reclaimed Voices Series with Paul Ábrahám’s exotic jazz operetta, The Flower of Hawaii featuring soprano and former Ms. Illinois Marisa Bucheit (2014) as Princess Laya/Suzanne. The Folks Operetta invites audiences to escape to paradise for this unique celebration of European operetta, American jazz and Hawaiian guitar at Stage 773, 1225 W Belmont Ave. from June 29 – July 14. 

Opening night is Saturday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m. Performances will take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Conducted by Anthony Barrese and directed by Amy Hutchison, The Flower of Hawaii will remind audiences of the Golden Era of Hollywood musicals. Tickets range from $30 - $40. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit

Inspired by the story of Princess Ka’julani, The Flower of Hawaii spoofs American colonialism, but never takes on that subject too deeply; this is meant to be escapist entertainment with music celebrating the fox trot, waltzes and marches. The libretto features multiple love stories including Laya, a Hawaiian princess, who must choose between the American naval officer she loves and the Hawaiian prince to who she was betrothed as a child. Meanwhile, no less than three other couples must find their way through various romantic complications before all of them arrive at “Happily Ever After.”

Hungarian composer Paul Abrahám (1992 – 1960) combined operetta with jazz,and the result was a string of hugely popular shows: Vicktoria and her Hussar (1930), Flower of Hawaii (1931) and Ball at the Savoy (1932.) Abrahám’s unique blend of European waltzes and American jazz idioms changed the course of operetta. His rise to fame and fortune was swift. Between 1929 and 1932, in addition to three of the most successful operettas of the time, he composed numerous film scores and popular songs. Abrahám’s music was heavily influenced by touring African-American jazz bands that had taken 1920s Berlin and the rest of Europe by storm. As a Jewish composer with a passion for jazz, he embodied everything the Nazis hated. When they came to power in Germany in 1933, he had to flee the country overnight. For the next five years, he continued to work in Vienna and Budapest, composting three more operettas. In 1938, with the German annexation of Austria, the rise of fascism in Hungary, and threat of war, he was compelled to leave for America. Like many other exiles, he had trouble finding meaningful work in the United States. To make matters worse, he also faced serious mental health problems. Abrahám would spend 10 years in the Creedmor Mental Hospital in Queens, New York. After the war, he and his wife returned to Germany, where he lived until his death in 1960.

The cast of The Flower of Hawaii includes: Rodell Rosell (Prince Lilo-Taro); Marisa Buchheit (Princess Laya/Suzanne); Nick Pulikowski (Captiain Stone); Teaira Burge (Bessie); William Roberts (Buffy); Trent Oldham (Jimmy Fox); Angela Yu (Raka); Robert Morrissey (Governor); Benjamin Burney (Kaluna/Bobby Flipps); Benjamin Kawsky (Sunny Hill); Jordan Beyeler (dancer); Ivory Leonard (dancer); Ysaye McKeever (dancer); Athena Kopulos (feature dancer/ensemble); Sarah Ruth Mikulski (Bessie understudy/ensemble); Clara Imon Pedtke (ensemble); Elena Avila (ensemble); Adrianne Blanks (ensemble); Cydney Washington (ensemble); Camryn MacLean (apprentice/ensemble); Anwar Mohammed (apprentice/ensemble) and Julian Lee-Zachies (apprentice/ensemble).

The crew of The Flower of Hawaii includes: Anthony Barrese, conductor; Amy Hutchison, stage director/editor; August Tye, principal choreographer; Ressie Davis, choreographer; Eleanor Kahn, set designer; Patti Roeder, costume designer; Eric Watkins, lighting designer; Peter Schwob, technical director, Kayla Kroot, props; Joseph Frantzen, assistant manager/editor; Antoliy Tochinskiy, rehearsal pianist and Hersh Glagov, translator/lyricist/editor.

ABOUT GERALD FRANTZEN, Producer/Lyricist/Editor

Gerald Frantzen is the artistic director of Folks Operetta. He has sung with the Lyric Opera of Chicago chorus for nine years, where he made his solo debut in the opera Eugene Onegin (2008). His opera roles include Giove (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria- NPR broadcast), both Acis and Damon (Acis and Galatea), 2nd Nazarene (Salome) with the Glimmerglass Opera; Ernesto (Don Pasquale) with Natchez Opera; Prunier (La Rondine) with Sarasota Opera; Der Kellner (Arabella) with Santa Fe Opera and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) with Ridge Light Opera.

Frantzen has been a frequent soloist with Handel Week where he has performed two Messiahs and played a leading role in the Chicago premiere of G. F. Handel’s Rodelinda and recently played Acis in Acis and Galatea. He was also the tenor soloist in Bach’s Magnificat and The Mozart Requiem.

Since 2006 he has translated over 18 different operettas with Folks Operetta dramaturge Hersh Glagov; presenting 15 American premieres. His operetta credits Arizona Lady (2010 U.S. Premiere); The Circus Princess (U.S. premiere); Ball at the Savoy (2014 American premiere); The Girl in the Train (American premiere); Springtime (American premiere); (Peter and Paul in the Land of Nod- American premiere); Thespis  (World premiere); Gypsy Love, Yeomen of the Guard; Duchess of Chicago; Pirates of Penzance; The Student Prince; The Merry Widow, The Gondoliers;  Song of Norway; as well as Madame Pompadour. In 2013 Frantzen wrote the critically-acclaimed concert “Operetta in Exile” with Glagov.   

His international musical theater credits include Jekyll & Hyde in Bremen, Germany; the role of Piangi (The Phantom of the Opera – Hal Prince, director) in Hamburg, Germany and The Russian (Chess) in Bergen, Norway. Regional credits include Dorsey and the Young Confederate Soldier (Parade-which won 8 Jeff Citations), Sir Harry (Once Upon a Mattress), Tony (West Side Story), Baron (Grand Hotel) and Charlie (Brigadoon). He can also be heard with “The Three Waiters,” which has won the award for Best Corporate Event over six times.

Film credits include “Return of the Night Porter” as an editor, which won the Grand Prix at the Karlovy Film Festival in Europe. Recordings include John Frantzen Compositions and a musical theater collection called Another Autumn (recorded with Alison Kelly; The Rose of Stambul by Leo Fall on the Naxos Recording Label. Frantzen has also sung with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and The Grant Park chorus.

ABOUT ANTHONY BARRESE, Conductor/Folks Operetta Music Director 

Anthony Barrese is the recipient of the 2007 Georg Solti Foundation U.S. award for young conductors. His original works have won numerous awards, and he is regularly engaged by opera companies in North America and Italy. He has led several productions with Sarasota Opera (Lakmé, Le nozze di Figaro, Hansel and Gretel), and with Opera Southwest (Le nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus, La cenerentola) where he is Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Barrese was the Assistant Conductor of the Dallas Opera in 2006-2007 and returned there as Guest Conductor for a production of Tosca in 2008, and in 2015 for La Wally. In 2008 Barrese conducted a new production of Turandot in Ascoli Piceno’s historic Teatro Ventidio Basso, with a cast that included Nicola Martinucci as Calaf. He also made his French debut conducting Turandot at the Opéra de Massy. In recent seasons Barrese made debuts with Florida Grand Opera (Les pêcheurs de perles) Opera Theatre of St. Louis (The Kiss), Opera North (L’elisir d’amore), and Boston Lyric Opera (Don Giovanni)

Barrese is the recipient of numerous composition awards including a N.E.C. Contemporary Ensemble Composition Competition Award for his Madrigale a 3 voci femminili, and two B.M.I. Student Composers Awards. As a musicologist, he  rediscovered, prepared, and edited the critical edition of Franco Faccio’s opera Amleto, in conjunction with Casa Ricordi.

He made his operatic conducting debut in Milan with La Bohème and recorded Roberto Andreoni’s quattro luci sul lago with ”I Solisti della Scala” (a chamber group made up of the first chair musicians of the La Scala Philharmonic) for broadcast on Italian National Radio (RAI 3). As Artistic Director of Opera Southwest he has performed Rossini’s Otello with the American staged premiere of the finale lieto, and in 2014 he led the new World Premiere of Amleto, not heard anywhere since 1871. In the 2015-16 season Barrese led a “Return of Rossini” festival at OSW, as well as a production of Norma at Florida Grand Opera. As Music Director of Opera Delaware he conducted the west coast premiere of Amleto in 2016, and the company premiere of Rossini’s Semiramide in 2017. Upcoming engagements include The Merry Widow with Opera Saratoga (2018), and Lohengrin with Opera Southwest.


Amy Hutchison has championed American opera throughout her career. She has served on the directing staffs of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera and on the faculties of The Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University and Westminster Choir College in Princeton. Her fascinating, brilliantly mounted double bill; production of Donizetti’s Il Pigmalione and Rita for Chicago Opera Theater wowed audiences and critics alike.  As part of COT’s Vanguard Initiative, she was honored to stage Grand Illusion by Composer-in-Residence Stacy Garrop and Jerre Dye. 

She also helmed critically-acclaimed Chicago premiere productions of As One by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed and Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt for Chicago Fringe Opera. Hutchison frequently collaborates with South Shore Opera Company, where her work includes Joelle Lamarre’s The Violet Hour, Steven M. Allen’s The Poet, Jonathan Stinson’s The March: A Civil Rights Opera Project, Samuel Coleridge- Taylor’s Dream Lovers and African Romances, and William Grant Still’s epic masterwork Troubled Island, named the number one classical music event of 2013 by the Chicago Sun-Times. Other Chicago area productions include Madame Pompadour for Folks Operetta, Music by the Lake’s Brigadoon, DuPage Opera’s Faust, and Our Town and Transformations for DePaul Opera Theatre. Her collaboration with Ricky Ian Gordon and Stacey Tappan, Once I Was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon, was staged at the Chicago Cultural Center and recorded on the Blue Griffin label.

Beyond Chicago, Hutchison’s work includes productions of As One in San Antonio; Il Matrimonio Segreto in Boston; Carmen in Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Columbus; Turandot in Orlando; Don Pasquale for Indianapolis Opera; La Traviata in Costa Mesa and Menotti’;s Help! Help! The Globolinks! for Madison Opera. She served as revival director for William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge (Teatro dell;Opera di Roma, Washington National Opera and Portland Opera); the Maurice Sendak production of Hänsel und Gretel (Opernhaus Zürich, Canada, San Diego, Indianapolis and televised for PBS: Live from the Lincoln Center); and the international tour of Houston Grand Opera’s Porgy and Bess (Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, L’Opéra National de Paris, Teatro La Fenice, and more). She serves on the board of philanthropic organization She100, performs advisory roles with Folks Operetta and South Chicago Dance Theatre and formerly served on the board of About Face Theatre.


Folks Operetta is a 501(c)(3) non-profit theater company devoted to the nurturing of live operetta through articulate and dynamic productions.  In the belief that the arts serve to illuminate the human condition, Folks Operetta is dedicated to the revival and development of operetta, a popular and accessible form of music and theater for general audiences.  In particular, the Folks Operetta concentrates on producing both Viennese and American operettas from the early 20th century.

Folks Operetta begins its 2019-2020 season of the Reclaimed Voices Series with Paul Ábrahám’s exotic jazz operetta, The Flower of Hawaii. Folks Operetta invites audiences to escape to paradise for this unique celebration of American jazz and Hawaiian guitar at Stage 773, 1225 W Belmont Ave. from June 29 – July 14. Opening night is Saturday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m. Performances continue on a regular weekly schedule: Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Featuring the conducting of Anthony Barrese and the directing of Amy Hutchison, The Flower of Hawaii will remind audiences of the Golden Era of Hollywood musicals. Tickets range from $30 - $40. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit 

The Pauls Foundation, The Sage Foundation and the The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Shows On Our Radar: Ionesco's The Killer at THE TRAP DOOR THEATRE


The Killer
Written by: ​Eugene Ionesco Translated by: ​Donald Watson Directed by: ​Mike Steele

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Jacob Davis, Around the Town Chicago

RECOMMENDED - “The Killer is… emblematic of what Trap Door continues to do so well” - Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune

RECOMMENDED "Bisto is amazing in the lead role..." Karen Topham, 

*Now Extended Through July 13th 
Due To Popular Demand*

Featuring​: Dennis Bisto, Michael Mejia, Kevin Webb, Holly Cerney, Abby Blankenship, Keith Surney, Logan Hulick, Laura Nelson.

Eugene Ionesco (Playwright) ​was born in 1909 (or in 1912, according to some sources) in Slatina, Romania. His father was Romanian and his mother French-Romanian and he spent his early years both in his native land and in France. During WW2 he moved to France and lived there until his death in 1994. During his long career he published essays, books for children, and a novel, but he is best known as a playwright and one of the major forces, alongside Beckett, Genet and Adamov, behind the Theatre of the Absurd in France. His first play, ​The Bold Soprano (​ 1950) inaugurated a series of short, antilogical anti-plays (​The Lesson ​[1951], ​The Chairs [1952], ​The New Tenant ​[1995]) in which many of his themes, such as the clichés of thought and language, the irrationality of materialist values and the loneliness and isolation of the individual, first appeared. Later, full-length plays, such as ​The Killer ​(1959), Rhinoceros (​ 1960), ​Exit the King ​(1960) and ​Macbett ​(1972) offered somewhat more positive protagonists who hold out against the conformity but lack any rational explanation for their actions. His characters tend to be unthinking automatons unaware of their own mechanical behavior. All of Ionesco’s plays deal with a human situation from which the element of rationality (and of rational language) is absent; more specifically, all Ionesco’s drama is a satire upon a middle class, its speech, its manners, and its morals. Ionesco is a master of partial communication—A speaks, B listens, B then replies as if A has not relayed any information whatsoever. In 1970 Ionesco was elected to the Académie Française.

Mike Steele (Director)​ currently serves as Literary Manager for Trap Door theatre, where he also curates the “Trap Open” Incubator Series. Additionally, he is the former Founding Artistic Director of The Island Theatre (R.I.P.). Directing credits include ​Sad Happy Sucker​ by Lee Kirk (Trap Door Theatre), ​The Fever​ by Wallace Shawn, ​The Glass Inward​, and ​Tourist Trap​ (The Island). Over the past two years Mike has been devising and directing a series of original dance-theatre pieces titled ​The Capillaries​, which have been presented at Links Hall where he was a 2017 “Summer Intensive” resident artist. A frequent performer, Mike has appeared in over 25 professional productions including ​Occidental Express​ (Trap Door Theatre and International Tour), ​The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Trap Door Theatre-Jeff Nomination for Best Ensemble), ​Much Ado About Nothing (​ Alchemical Theatre), ​20,000 Leagues Under the Sea​ (Strawdog Theatre),​ Sight Unseen (​ Adventure Stage), ​No Beast So Fierce​ (Oracle Theatre),​ Skriker​ (Red Tape Theatre), and many more. Mike holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Studies from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University. Mike will be attending UT Austin starting this fall as an MFA Directing candidate

Set Designer​ Nicholas Schwartz/ ​Costume Designer​ Rachel Sypniewski/ ​Makeup Design​ Zsofia Otvos / ​Sound Designers​ Matt Test and Sam Clapp/​ Lighting Designer​ Richard Norwood / ​Choreographer ​Jesse Hoisington/​ Graphic Designer​ Michal Janicki/ Dramaturg​ David Lovejoy / ​Assistant Director ​Skye Fort

Opens: Closes​: Runs​:
Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 8PM
Saturday, July 6, 2019 at 8PM
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8PM, (Wednesday, July 3rd)

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

What:​ ​A conscientious citizen finds himself in a radiantly beautiful city. There is only one problem in Utopia - it is marred by the presence of an unknown and relentless killer. This dark absurdist comedy is a study of pure evil and an indifferent society that allows it to flourish.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

THEATRE AT THE CENTER'S DAMES AT SEA Now Playing Munster Indiana Through June 2, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Actors Sierra Schnack, Colette Todd and Kelly Felthous. Photo by Guy Rhodes.

Director and Artistic Director Linda Fortunato has cast Kelly Felthous as Ruby, Todd Aulwurm as Dick, Colette Todd as Mona Kent, Sierra Schnack as Joan, Sam Shankman as Lucky, and Steven Strafford as Hennesey and The Captain in Dames at Sea, the Spring musical production at Theatre at the Center in Munster.

Dames at Sea, the long-running Off-Broadway hit that brought stardom to Bernadette Peters in 1969, opened on Broadway in 2015 to another round of rave reviews. This fun, campy show, based on the nostalgia of Hollywood musicals of the 1930s, is in the spotlight on Theatre at the Center’s main stage for the first time in the theater’s three-decade history.

“Dames at Sea is a delightful musical escape into a bygone era,” Fortunato said. “It’s entertainment for the whole family.”

Dames at Sea, with a book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller and music by Jim Wise, begins with Ruby, getting off the bus from Utah, after arriving in New York City with a dream to make it big on Broadway. The hopeful lass is hired to dance in the chorus off a new Broadway show and meets Dick, a sailor, who also has ambitions as a songwriter. On Opening Night, when they learn that their theater is being demolished, Ruby and the cast, with the help of Dick and some adoring sailors, make plans to perform the show on a naval battleship.

Kelly Felthous (Ruby) makes her TATC debut after a run of Seussical at Marriott Theatre. Other credits include roles as Roxie Hart in Chicago and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at Drury Lane. She also played Sally Bowles in Paramount Theater’s Cabaret and Glinda in the National Tour of Wicked.

Todd Aulwurm (Dick), who is making his TATC debut, is a native of Northwest Indiana and a graduate of Crown Point High School and Indiana University. His recent credits include roles in TRU and The Butcher’s Son at the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. He appeared in Mama Mia, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smokey Joe’s Café, and Beauty and the Beast at Little Theatre on the Square. At the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater he performed in The Little Mermaid, Rock of Ages, Titanic, All Shook Up, The Addams Family and 42nd Street.

Colette Todd (Mona Kent) is returning to TATC where she previously performed as Gwen in The Odd Couple, The Lady of the Lake in Spamalot and Sandra in Big Fish. Other roles at TATC include Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and The Beverly Hillbillies. At Light Opera Works she appeared as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun and Nancy in Oliver!

Sierra Schnack (Joan) will also make her TATC debut. Recent roles include Ali in Mama Mia and Anytime Annie in 42nd Street at Drury Lane Oakbrook. She also played Kate in Shrew’d at First Folio Theatre and was part of the Ensemble in Legally Blonde at Paramount Theatre.

Sam Shankman (Lucky) returns to TATC after recently playing Sawyer in last year’s Miracle on 34th Street The Musical. Recent Chicago credits include South Pacific at Drury Lane, Spring Awakening at Blank Theatre, Curious George at Northbrook Theatre, Madagascar at Chicago Shakespeare and Shrew’d at First Folio.

Steven Strafford (Hennesey and Captain) is making his TATC debut. He has been seen as the demented dentist in Little Shop of Horrors at Drury Lane Theatre and Hortensio in Shrew’d at First Folio. He has also been seen as Chick Clark in Wonderful Town at The Goodman Theatre and as Jesus and Stephen Hawking in End Days. He has toured nationally and internationally as Prince Herbert in Spamalot.

Director Linda Fortunato is in her fourth season as TATC Artistic Director. Her recent credits include directing and choreographing various productions, including Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical, Ghost: The Musical, Steel Magnolias, Big River, The Tin Woman, Cabaret, Annie Warbucks and A Christmas Story as well as choreographing Spamalot, Big Fish, A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Guys and Dolls, Crazy for You and Fiddler on the Roof. She has been nominated for five Joseph Jefferson Awards for her work as a choreographer and director and received both the Equity and Non-Equity Jeff Award for Outstanding Choreography in the 2013-2014 season, garnering Theatre at the Center’s first award for her choreography of 42nd Street.

The creative team for Dames at Sea includes Scenic Designer Jessie Howe, Lighting Designer Guy Rhodes, Sound Designer Barry Funderburg, Costume Designer Brenda Winstead, Wig Designer Kevin Barthel and Properties Designer Emily Hartig. Stage Manager is Jessica Banaszak. William Underwood is Music Director. Linda Fortunato is teamed with TATC General Manager Richard Friedman and Ann Davis, TATC Head of Production.

left to right – Colette Todd (Mona Kent), Kelly Felthouse (Ruby) and Sierra Schnack (Joan).

Founded in 1991, the 410-seat TATC is a year round professional theater at its home: The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road in Munster, Indiana. TATC is an accessible venue with plenty of free parking and is located off I-80/94, just 35 minutes from downtown Chicago.

Performances are 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Individual ticket prices range from $42 - $46. To purchase individual tickets, call the Box Office at 219-836-3255 or at 800-511-1532. Group discounts are available for groups of 11 or more. Student tickets are $20 and gift certificates are also available. For more information on Theatre at the Center, visit

WIN a Pair of Preview Tickets ($40 Value) to Lifeline Theatre's Emma (2 Winners) Choice of Dates

Giveaway! Enter below through midnight 5/23/19
2 Lucky Readers Will 
WIN a Pair of Tickets ($40 Value) to your choice of preview dates 

(Previews are Fridays, May 24 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m.)

Lifeline Theatre Presents 
Opens June 4
Performances with Open Captioning on June 15 and July 12
Performance with Touch Tour and Audio Description on June 16

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Lifeline Theatre presents Emma, adapted by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Phil Timberlake and directed by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Elise Kauzlaric. Making his Lifeline playwriting debut, Timberlake joins Kauzlaric, director of 2012’s Pride and Prejudice and 2016’s Northanger Abbey (Non-Equity Jeff nomination: Best Production–Musical), for a fresh, intimate look at this beloved Austen romp. 

After a successful experiment in matchmaking, Emma Woodhouse is convinced she can do no wrong. So the high-spirited socialite inserts herself in the love lives of everyone around her, meddling despite their wishes, and leaves a tangle of heartbreak in her wake. To restore happiness to her fractured world, Emma must swallow her pride and learn to value the needs of others over her own desires. Navigate the blunders of the heart in this world premiere adaptation of the 1815 romantic comedy by Jane Austen. The production runs approximately 2 hours with an intermission. The novel will be on sale in the lobby.

Emma Sipora Tyler as Emma.  Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.

I'll be out for the press opening June 2nd and can't wait to catch Emma Sipora Tyler as Emma Woodhouse! She's a favorite of ours. 

Emma runs May 24 – July 14 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Opening night is Tuesday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Fridays, May 24 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m.)

Regular performance times (June 6 – July 14) are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for active and retired military personnel (with ID), $30 for seniors, $20 for students (with ID), $20 for rush tickets (available half hour before show time, subject to availability), and $20 for previews. Group rate for 12 or more is available upon request. Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting

Accessible Performances: The Saturday, June 15, 4 p.m. performance and the Friday, July 12, 7:30 p.m. performances will feature open captioning for patrons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. The Sunday, June 16, 4 p.m. performance will feature a pre-show touch tour of the set at 2:30 p.m. and live audio description for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For more information about Lifeline’s accessibility services, please contact our Accessibility Coordinator Erica Foster at 773.761.4477 x703 or at

The complete cast and production team for Emma includes:

CAST: Guest artists Peter Gertas (Frank/Elton), Jeri Marshall (Jane), Maddie Pell (Harriet), Emma Sipora Tyler (Emma), and Cory Williamson (Knightley). With understudies Aissa Guerra, Royan Kent, Jamie Sandomire, Sana Selemon, and Zach Twardowski.

PRODUCTION TEAM: Lifeline Theatre ensemble members Aly Renee Amidei (Costume Designer), Diane Fairchild (Lighting Designer), Elise Kauzlaric (Director/Dialect Coach), Maren Robinson (Dramaturg), and Phil Timberlake (Adaptor); with guest artists Andrew Hansen (Sound Designer), Persephone Lawrence (Properties Designer), Sarah Lewis (Scenic Designer), Jennifer McClendon (Production Manager), Kate Reed (Stage Manager), Joe Schermoly (Technical Director), and Jonah White (Master Electrician)

Lifeline Theatre presents Emma runs May 24 – July 14 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Press opening is Sunday, June 2 at 4 p.m. Opening night is Tuesday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Fridays, May 24 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m.) Regular performance times (June 6 – July 14) are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for active and retired military personnel (with ID), $30 for seniors, $20 for students (with ID), $20 for rush tickets (available half hour before show time, subject to availability), and $20 for previews. Group rate for 12 or more is available upon request. Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting

Lifeline Theatre is accessible by CTA (Red Line Morse stop/busses) and free parking is available at Sullivan High School (6631 N Bosworth Ave — the lot is located on the corner of Bosworth Ave and Albion Ave, with the entrance on Albion) with free shuttle service before and after the show.  Street parking is also available. Lifeline is accessible to wheelchair users and visitors who need to avoid stairs.

Now in its 36th season, Lifeline Theatre is driven by a passion for story. Our ensemble process supports writers in the development of literary adaptations and new work, and our theatrical and educational programs foster a lifelong engagement with literature and the arts. A cultural anchor of Rogers Park, we are committed to deepening our connection to an ever-growing family of artists and audiences, both near and far. Lifeline Theatre – Big Stories, Up Close.

Lifeline Theatre’s programs are partially supported by Alphawood Foundation; A.R.T. League Inc.; Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; Chicago CityArts, a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; CIG Management; CNA Foundation; Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; FGMK LLC; FlexPrint Inc.; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; The Michael and Mona Heath Fund at The Chicago Community Trust Foundation; Illinois Arts Council Agency; Illinois Humanities Council; MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; The National Endowment for the Arts; The PAV Grant Fund; The Polk Bros. Foundation; Rogers Park Social; The Saints; S&C Electric Company Fund; The Shubert Foundation; The Steele Foundation; The Manufacturing; and the annual support of businesses and individuals.

Giveaway! Enter HERE through midnight 5/23/19
2 Lucky Readers Will 
WIN a Pair of Tickets ($40 Value) to your choice of preview dates 
(Previews are Fridays, May 24 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m.)

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