Friday, July 23, 2021


ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar: 


Now Playing Through AUG. 21  

Act I, Scene I from OPFT's The Tempest. All Production Photos by Bryan Wakefield

Last night my son and I made the short drive from Chicago to Oak Park, to catch The Tempest. It took under a half an hour to reach this urban/suburban village, just west of the city limits, but it was like entering another world. Street parking was fairly easy to find, sidewalks were trash-free, and Austin Gardens park was lush and lovely. 

As the stage lights rose and the sun set, it was glorious to be back in an audience again. Groups of friends broke out wine, beer, fruit and cheese, and even set up actual low tables, like a mini-Ravinia. Though drinking is usually verboten in OP parks, adult beverages are fine an hour before and after Oak Park Festival Theatre shows. There are close bathrooms on site and the grounds open a half hour before curtain so audience members can stake out a spot. Chairs are available to rent for $5 or patrons can bring their own blankets or seating. Overall, it was a fun, well run theatrical experience in a gorgeous location, and we're eager to return for future shows. 

Early on, the chorus of cicadas nearly drowned out the dialogue, but as the darkness deepened, they subsided to a low hum and swooping bats contributed an arial ballet to the ambiance. The Tempest begins with a raging sea storm, then enters into a lot of convoluted exposition, prompting more than a few audience members to pull up the virtual program's plot summary during the 15 minute intermission. Hang in there. After a slow build, the second act is stronger and quite funny. Also, if you're new to The Tempest or easily confused, read the synopsis before the show.

Matt Gall as Caliban

The drunken comic relief trio is a hoot! (Matt Gall as Caliban, Savanna Rae as Trinculo, and Orion Seth Lay-Sleeper as Stephano). Kevin Theis' Prospero is pure magic, with a little help from sound and lighting. We enjoyed Deanalis Resto's badass, androgynous outcast, Miranda, immensely. Bernell Lassai (Ariel/Ceres) is also a standout. 

After the show we spoke with Chloe Bassett, member of the Oak Park Festival Theatre Summer Intern Cohort, who is also on cast with my son at Bristol Renaissance Faire. She's wearing many hats, since the OPFT interns build the set, understudy characters (Trinculo in her case), and help crew the productions. We were particularly impressed when she told us, in life imitating art fashion, that they were initially constructing the ship set during the tornado warnings earlier this month, before The Tempest build got called for the dicey weather. Now that's dedication to craft!

L-R Kevin Theis as Prospero, Deanalis Russo as Miranda. 

If you're covid cautious, high risk, or uneasily easing back into post quarantine crowds, do note that masks were rare and chairs much closer than six feet apart. That said, it is an outdoor event and we felt at ease, even though our beach chair pod of two was definitely not an island in a six foot sea. This fest has been staging professional Shakespeare shows since 1975, so we're thrilled a little thing like a global pandemic hasn't sunk this ship or dampened their spirits. In fact, this scrappy band of castaways on a trash island, are some of the first in the region to get back on stage. Have you been missing your live theatre fix for the past sixteen months? Don't miss this. 

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List for Family Friendly Theatre Fun

**Magical creatures abound on a spectacular stage set providing entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, and children 12 and under are Free. **


by William Shakespeare
directed by Barbara Zahora


L-R Kevin Theis as Prospero, Bernell Lassai as Ariel

Oak Park Festival Theatre (OPFT) triumphantly returns to its Austin Gardens outdoor performance space this summer to present 21 in-person performances of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” OPFT Artistic Director Barbara Zahora* directs Shakespeare's final masterpiece of shipwreck, romance and magic. Performances run through Aug. 21. Show times on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays begin at 8 p.m.; Sunday performances start at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at

What do hurricanes, magic, mayhem, love, revenge, and monsters all have in common? They're facets of “The Tempest’s” fast-moving plot which leaves audiences breathless and cheering for more of its wry comedy. The play also explores nuanced concepts of colonialism, power struggles, and redemption. 

As one of the few Chicago-area outdoor theatrical companies, OPFT and the cast and crew of “The Tempest” are thrilled to return to in-person performances. The organization has been working for more than a year to visualize and create a spectacular event for summer 2021 that also provides safety for all its participants.  

Artistic Director Barbara Zahora says, “Even though we chose this play long before coronavirus and the murder of George Floyd changed our world so significantly, its themes of exile, injustice, the struggle for power, self-discovery and healing are all particularly resonant after the last year. As people start to come out of their homes and find a new normal post-pandemic, we hope this will be particularly meaningful for those seeing it for the first time.”  

L-R Deanalis Russo as Miranda, Jeannie Affelder as Antonia, Kevin Theis as Prospero

The cast for “The Tempest” includes Jeannie Affelder (Antonia), OPFT artistic associate Belinda Bremner (Gonzalo), Dakotah Brown (Master of Ship/Francisco/Juno), Tony Buzzuto (Sebastian), Noelle Klyce (Alonsa), Bernell Lassai (Ariel/Ceres), Orion Seth Lay-Sleeper (Stephano), OPFT artistic associates Matt Gall* (Caliban) and Savanna Rae (Trinculo), Deanalis Resto (Miranda), OPFT artistic associate Kevin Theis* (Prospero), Emma Sipora Tyler (Boatswain/Adrian/Iris) and Austyn Williamson (Ferdinand).  

Zahora (director/Oak Park Festival Theatre Artistic Director) joined the OPFT staff as interim artistic director in 2018, and at the beginning of 2019 became the permanent artistic director for the company.  Barbara directed OPFT’s 2019’s “Elizabeth Rex” as well as their acclaimed 2017 production of “Macbeth.” Other Chicago directing credits include “Hollow/Wave” (Silk Road Rising); “Shrewish” (Artemisia Theatre); “Candida,” “Hay Fever,” “Misalliance” and “Private Lives” (ShawChicago); and several productions with The Shakespeare Project of Chicago, where she served as associate artistic director for eight years. Her favorite acting credits at OPFT include Penny in “You Can’t Take It With You” and Maggie in “Dancing at Lughnasa.” Additional acting credits include American Players Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater,Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, and Shakespeare Project of Chicago. TV and film credits include “Chicago Fire” and “Operator.” Zahora is currently the co-head of Acting at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College for the Performing Arts (CCPA). 

The rest of the design team includes Ryan Fox (Scenic Design), Rachel Sypniewski (Costume Design), Liz Cooper (Lighting Design), and George Zahora (Sound Design/Original Music). Original vocal music and musical direction is by Jennifer Mitchell, intimacy and violence design is by Mark Lancaster, and movement direction is by Erica Bittner. Our stage manager is Wallace Craig. 

* Denotes Member of Actors Equity Association 

L-R Noelle Klyce as Alonsa, Belinda Bremner as Gonzalo

The real story starts after the storm ends

Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, was exiled from his dukedom 12 years earlier as part of a power struggle with Prospero’s sister, Antonia. Now hungry for revenge, Prospero creates a storm with his sorcery to shipwreck his enemies and bring those who have wronged him to bear.

Will those that committed injustice be held to account? Grace, forgiveness, and love ultimately provide redemption in this funny and touching tale.


Prospero, hungry for revenge, conjures a storm to torment his malevolent sister, Antonia. Prospero uses this moment to tell Miranda, his daughter, that Antonia deposed him from dukedom over a decade ago. With the assistance of Gonzalo, Prospero had set out to sea on a boat with Miranda. They landed on a magical land where he enslaved Caliban, the only native islander. He then saved a spirit named Ariel from imprisonment.

The storm that he casts forces all crew members to land on the magical island. King of Naples’ son, Ferdinand, who was presumed dead, landed in a different part of the island. He finds Miranda and instantly falls in love. Meanwhile, Caliban, Trinculo, and Stephano attempt to murder Prospero. All while, Antonia manipulates Sebastian to kill his brother, Alonsa – King of Naples.


Oak Park Festival Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” through Aug. 21 at Austin Gardens, 167 Forest Ave, Oak Park, Ill. All performances begin at 8 p.m. except Sundays, which begin at 7 p.m. Seating begins one hour prior to showtime. Patrons can bring their own seating/blankets, and lawn chairs are available to rent for $5. 

Tickets are $35 (Seniors: $25; Students $15; Children 12 and under Free). Seating is general admission. Tickets are on sale now. For tickets or more information visit  

Covid guidelines will be updated with guidance from the CDC, the Village of Oak Park, and the Actors’ Equity Association. Street and garage parking is available adjacent to the park on Forest Ave and Marion St. In the event of inclement weather, OPFT has partnered with shelter areas surrounding Austin Gardens. For more information visit   

About Oak Park Festival Theatre 

Oak Park Festival Theatre is Oak Park’s premiere Equity theater, and the oldest professional outdoor classical theatre in the Midwest. Since 1975, Oak Park Festival Theatre has produced more than 100 plays for thousands of theater-lovers, and is best known for summer outdoor shows performed under a canopy of stars in the idyllic Austin Gardens park. It is the mission of OPFT to explore our shared humanity by telling stories that stand the test of time. By looking to our past and re-imagining the familiar, OPFT endeavors to hold a mirror up to the times in which we live, bringing us all a little closer. 

Oak Park Festival Theatre is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, charitable organization. Donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. 

Oak Park Festival Theatre is supported by the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Park District of Oak Park, The Oak Park Area Arts Council, and many generous donors. Additionally, we are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency and the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks to our local partners the Wednesday Journal, the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, and the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce. 

Chicago Magic Lounge Grand Reopening August 2, 2021

 Chi, IL Live Shows on our Radar

The Magic is Back®!


photo by Hall + Merrick

Chicago Magic Lounge,
the area’s premium venue for Chicago-style, close-up magic
to reopen its secret doors to the pubic
on August 2, 2021 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we've been excited about Chicago Magic Lounge since we were first invited to cover their groundbreaking. We were there for their original press opening and many shows since, and we missed them the past 16 months when their stage went dark. That's why we're so excited The Magic is Back®! Chicago Magic Lounge, Chicago’s home for close-up magic, announces plans to reopen its speakeasy-style Art Deco venue on August 2, 2021. We dig their minimalist signage and secret entrance through the laundry, a nod to the building's former use as a commercial laundry. The inner swinging bookcase entrance is sweet too! Ready for some post quarantine entertainment? Chicago Magic Lounge has got you covered with mind bending magic and Art Deco charm.

Chicago Magic Lounge will be open at capacity, including the Blackstone Cabaret, 654 Club and Performance Bar. To celebrate the Grand Reopening after a 16-month intermission, Chicago Magic Lounge will be hosting a full week of Signature Shows, from August 2-8, 2021. 

Opening week, August 2-8, 2021, will spotlight some of Chicago’s best local talent, including Signature Show emcee Jan Rose, headliner Luis Carreon and featured performer Justin Purcell. Following the main stage performance, Paige Thompson will perform a close-up magic set for Premium ticketholders in the intimate 654 Club. The Performance Bar will feature AJ Sacco, Deven Brown, and The Amazing Bibik.

CML Owner Joey Cranford comments, “Chicago Magic Lounge is like no other place in Chicago, or elsewhere else, for that matter. We are thrilled to be reopening the secret doors to our gorgeous venue offering a unique entertainment experience. We can’t wait to welcome our audience, magicians and staff. Like so many, we have been looking forward to Opening Day for so long. In honor of our reopening, we want to celebrate the heart of Chicago-style magic by featuring Chicago Magic Lounge company members and local fan favorites, who rank alongside the best magicians worldwide.”

Tickets for all Chicago Magic Lounge performances are available at the box office, (312) 366-4500 or online at Chicago Magic Lounge is a 21+ venue. Ages 16+ allowed to ticketed shows with a legal guardian.

Showtimes for the opening week are 7pm Monday-Sunday and 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Premium tickets (Front Row, Main Floor Cabaret, Main Floor Banquette) are $65 - $75 and include access to exclusive close-up magic performance in the 654 Club immediately after the main stage show. Standard tickets (Rail Seating, Elevated Banquettes, Mezzanine) are $50 - $55. The Performance Bar is open to the public (21+) and no ticket is needed. 

The Signature Show was conceived in 2015 as an homage to the historic, Chicago magic bar scene. Experience close-up magic right at your table during the cocktail hour, followed by an hour of stage magic featuring masters of their craft performing feats of prestidigitation and sleight of hand. Guests who purchase Premium tickets (Front Row, Main Floor Cabaret, Main Floor Banquette) are invited to an exclusive performance of close-up magic directly after the main stage show in our 43-seat close-up gallery, The 654 Club.

photo by Hall + Merrick

The Signature Show: Opening week, August 2-8, 2021

Headliner: Luis Carreon

Luis Carreon is an accomplished and well-respected magician, originally from Mexico. He won the Harlan Tarbell Close-up Competition Award from the International Brotherhood of Magicians two years in a row. He also took home first place at the Chicago Magic Competition hosted by The Society of American Magicians.

With his unique style of humor and wisdom, Luis regularly travels the country teaching other magicians about the art of magic. He is, also, the head demonstrator at Magic Inc., the oldest family-owned magic shop in the country. Internationally, Luis has been featured on the Univision evening news showcasing his talents. He was honored to be a semi-finalist on Tengo Talento, the Spanish language equivalent of America's Got Talent. In addition, he is also a frequent performer at the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. Luis can be seen performing regularly at The Chicago Magic Lounge where he is also one of the founding members.


Featured Act: Justin Purcell

Justin Purcell is relentlessly trying to convince audiences: Magic is REAL. Chicago Magazine wrote he performs “with the aplomb of a ringmaster and the flair of a standup comedian” in their issue naming him “Chicago’s Best Bar Magician.” And even top magical expert Dan Harlan calls his sleight-of-hand work “sublime.” He is a founding company member of the Chicago Magic Lounge, where he is a House Magician and frequent Headliner. In addition to doing magic, he plays drums for feminist punk band The Cell Phones and is a father.


654 Club: Paige Thompson

Currently living in Chicago, Paige Thompson has become one of the Resident house magicians of the Chicago Magic Lounge.  A longtime dream was recently fulfilled as she appeared for the first time in the close-up gallery at the internationally acclaimed Magic Castle, in Hollywood California.  Paige was also a featured contestant on FOX’s “Showtime at the Apollo,” and last summer made her debut on the CW’s hit television show “Masters of Illusion.”


Emcee: Jan Rose

Jan Rose has performed nationally and internationally in all fields of Magic including Family Theatre, Corporate Events, Trade Shows and Conventions, and at Hollywood’s’ World Famous Magic Castle. Jan began her career in Magic in 1983, after joining forces with Magician Danny Orleans. Together they toured their Children’s Theatre Show for well over 6 years. In the early 1990’s, they were mentored by Eddie Fields. The result of that training is a two person show that puts a contemporary spin on an old Variety Act. Jan has been so very grateful to have worked with such great mentors as Eugene Burger, Jay Marshall, Max Maven and Ross Johnson. Happy to return to the theatre, Jan was a supporting Actress/Magic Team Member of The Rosenkranz Mysteries at The Royal George Theatre. She performed over 100 performances of that show! Jan is a Company Member and has been with The Chicago Magic Lounge since the early days in Uptown. She is a native Chicagoan and a member of AEA, AFTRA, and SAG.


The Performance Bar

The Performance Bar features signature cocktails, luxurious seating and magicians behind the bar to challenge your imagination. The Performance Bar is open to the public and does not require a ticket to the show. The Performance Bar is 21+ only.

The bar magicians for Opening week are AJ Sacco (Monday), Deven Brown (Tuesday, Wednesday; Friday-Saturday 9pm-close) and The Amazing Bibik (Thursday-Sunday 5pm-9pm)

The regular schedule will return on Monday, August 9, including Music & Magic on Monday nights at 7:00pm, The Showcase on Tuesdays the Artist-in-Residence Series.

Music & Magic

Mondays at 7:00pm

Tickets: General Admission $20

The August schedule includes: Ethan Moll Trio (August 9), Michael Jackson (August 16), The DOT (August 23), and Heisenberg Uncertainty Players (August 30)


The Showcase

Tuesdays at 7:00pm

Tickets: Standard: $35; Front Row: $40

Luis Carreon and Paige Thompson, August 10-August 31.


Artist-in-Residence Series

Wednesdays at 7:00pm

Tickets: Standard: $40; Front Row: $45

Trent James: Pure Lies, August 11-September 29, 2021

Trent James is back to complete his original run from Spring 2020, along with a one-month extension!


The Signature Show

Thursdays-Sundays at 7:00pm, Fridays and Sundays at 10pm from August 12–August 15

Tickets: $50-$55 (Standard); $65-$75 (Premium, includes 654 Club admission)

Featuring Special Guest Nick Diffatte

654 Club features Luis Carreon


Special Guest Nick Diffatte is quickly becoming one of the most talked about and in-demand young comic magicians working today. His unique brand of entertainment seamlessly blends dry humor, quick wit, and incredible skill. His performances are presented with perfect comedic timing and a deadpan delivery that has kept audiences laughing uncontrollably all over the country for over 14 years. Most recently, Nick has been seen in a residency at the Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas, The World Famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, luxury cruise lines and “The Late Late Show with James Corden” on CBS.


For a complete schedule of performances and more information about Chicago Magic Lounge, visit



About Chicago Magic Lounge

Chicago Magic Lounge reinvents the classic "magic bar" that once dotted Chicago's nightlife landscape, bringing cocktails and card tricks back together again. Shows include magic performance at the bar, on the stage and in true Chicago-style Magic form, at the tables of the guests, providing the classic "Close-Up" tradition Chicago-style Magic is known for. Chicago Magic Lounge is also the home of the Chicagoland magic community, showcasing over 30 local professionals, and serving as a networking hub for working magicians from all over the world. 


The newly constructed theater at 5050 N. Clark St., designed by Morris Architects Planners, has ushered in a new wave of entertainment, bringing back “Chicago-style Magic” under the leadership of Donald C Clark, Jr. and Joseph (Joey) Cranford. Converted from a 1940s-era, commercial laundry building, the Chicago Magic Lounge is a 7,200 square-foot, Art Deco, state-of-the-art theater and lounge complete with secret doors, elegant performance areas and a magic bar – all dedicated to the art of sleight of hand, prestidigitation and Chicago's contribution to the magical arts. From magicians to mind readers, Chicago Magic Lounge provides guests the unique, one-of-a-kind experience of seeing wonders up-close and personal in a venue unlike anything else offered throughout the country.


Friday, July 16, 2021

TONIGHT: Streaming LIVE The Screwbelles Go Channel Surfing!

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 

The Screwbelles Go Channel Surfing!

The Screwbelles are pleased to announce our first virtual show taking place on Friday, July 16. Tickets are on sale for $20: 

Click HERE for tickets. 

Pre-show at 7pm, Show starts at 7:30

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we've caught The Screwbelles' unique brand of comedic burlesque a number of times in person, and love their creativity and their body positive spin. We're excited that they've now created a show you can enjoy in the comforts of home, so it's no longer a barrier if you can't make it to Chicago tonight. Stream from anywhere. If you can't swing the live stream at 7pm tonight, a recording will be available to purchase after. Check it out. 

On the way to their first virtual show, The Screwbelles go missing! Host, Shirley Blazen, goes on a mission to rescue the slapstick superstars before it’s too late! In this made-for-television internet event, expect an action-packed ride full of side splitting absurdity that only The Screwbelles deliver!

Starring: ALLOY, Bettie Attitude, Divine Emmeline, Fig Leaf, Honey Buns, Minnie Moog, Nitty Gritty, Pappy Longstockings, Sheffield Belmont, and Shirley Blazen.

Guest Starring: Coco Sho-Nell, Cindy Nero, and Highness Noire.


Chicago's fearlessly funny Slapstick syndicate, The Screwbelles, is a character driven Vaudeville style comedy ensemble that has been splitting sides since 2016!

From eight eager comedians busting guts at a burlesque show, The Screwbelles have exploded, performing in 5 comedy festivals, producing 17 full length shows, and developing over 50 sketches.

The Screwbelles have no doubt carved out a niche in the performing arts community for classic comedy with a schticky twist!

Our Mission

The Screwbelles mission is to nurture a safe, equitable and candid community that celebrates gutsy comedic performance.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar



Gabriel Ruiz (Martin) in I Hate It Here by Ike Holter, directed by Lili-Anne Brown at Goodman Theatre (July 15-July 18, 2021), Photo by Flint Chaney.

There's nothing like theatre to help audiences process collective trauma and increase empathy and one of the first to tackle 2020 is here. Sure, streaming is a second to seeing shows in person, but live streams in real time capture the energy and spirit of a one of a kind performance. Check out this 5 show only limited run.

Goodman Theatre’s streaming-in-real-time Live series concludes with I Hate It Here by Ike Holter and directed by Lili-Anne Brown. Featuring a dynamic cast (full list below), the production is a “sharp and satisfyingly foul-mouthed” (The New York Times) rallying cry for our times. I Hate It Here appears July 15 at 7:30pm; July 16 at 7:30pm; July 17 at 2pm and 7:30pm; and July 18 at 2pm; all performances will be presented with open captioning. Tickets are $25; visit for more information. 

In I Hate It Here, there's one thing Americans can agree on: it's that 2020 was not the best way to begin a new decade. With guts and humor, punctuated with story and song, Ike Holter asks who we are in a world on the brink explosion.

Technology, videography and stage production come together for the three-play Live series, Goodman Theatre's next step towards resuming in-person performances. Accessible via multiple video cameras, each performance of three new productions—including two Chicago premieres and a major revival—are streamed live online for real-time consumption by audiences at home. Christiana Tye of Christiana Tye Productions and Gabe Hatfield of Hatfield Post/Production are the Goodman's video partner for Live, collaborating with each director to realize the vision of the play for the camera medium.

I Hate It Here
By Ike Holter
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
Ace/Thomas….............................Patrick Agada
Pete/Rah/Wash…........................Jayson Brooks
Ashwana/Mrs.Marcy/Tanya.........Sydney Charles
Manny/Worker/Ted…...................Behzad Debu
Maya/Lisa/April….........................Kirsten Fitzgerald
Martin/Alex/Frank….....................Gabriel Ruiz
Charlotte......................................Special Guest

The Design Team includes Arnel Sancianco (Set), Mieka van der Ploeg (Costumes), Jason Lynch (Lighting), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound) and Paul Deziel (Projections). Casting is by Lauren Port. Briana J. Fahey is the Production Stage Manager, Christiana Tye is the Video Director and Gabe Hatfield is the Director of Photography.

Live is made possible through the generous support of Northern Trust, Live Major Corporate Sponsor; Katten Muchin Rosenman, Live Corporate Sponsor Partner; Winston & Strawn, Ohio State Murders Digital Production Sponsor; and Russell Reynolds Associates, The Sound Inside Digital Production Sponsor. The Goodman is grateful to its artist union partners, including Actors’ Equity Association (AEA); Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC); and United Scenic Artists (USA).


Ike Holter (Playwright) returns to the Goodman where his play Lottery Day was produced in 2019. Additional Chicago credits include Red Rex (Steep Theatre); Rightlynd (Victory Gardens Theatre); The Light Fantastic, Prowess and Exit Strategy (Jackalope Theatre); The Wolf at the End of the Block (Teatro Vista); Sender (A Red Orchid Theatre); and Hit the Wall (The Inconvenience). Off-Broadway credits include Exit Strategy (Primary Stages); and Hit the Wall (Barrow Street). Regional credits include Put Your House in Order (La Jolla Playhouse). TV credits include Fosse/Verdon (FX). Ike is developing a project with Tribeca Productions/Netflix and the HAROLD series for Wayfarer Studios. He is a winner of the WGA Award for Fosse/Verdon and the Windham-Campbell Prize for playwriting.

Lili-Anne Brown (Director) is a native Chicagoan who works as a director, actor and educator. She has performed in, directed and produced many award-winning shows, both local and regional. Goodman credits include School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play and the world premiere of Ike Holter's Lottery Day. She is the former Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she focused programming on Chicago-premiere musicals and new play development with resident playwrights. She is a member of SDC, AEA, SAG-AFTRA and is represented by William Morris Endeavor.


Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement.

Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” It’s longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fourth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.

Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home to these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.

As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Goodman Theatre’s Action Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) was born out of the belief that progress means action, which includes building on the decades-long commitment to using art, assets and resources to contribute to a more just, equitable and anti-racist society.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Dael Orlandersmith, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

REVIEW: Black Lives, Black Words Filmed Premiere of Ride Share Now Streaming Through July 25, 2021

ChiIL Streaming Shows On Our Radar:

Black Lives, Black Words International Project and Writers Theatre

 filmed premiere of

Ride Share

Written by Reginald Edmund

Directed by Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway

Featuring Kamal Angelo Bolden


June 23 - July 25, 2021


By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

Sixteen months after theatres went dark across the nation, streaming shows are sometimes a hard sell. Zoom fatigue and screen burnout is real, and even diehard theatre fans are longing for the connection and interaction of live shows. We're talking about a medium so intimate, patrons' heartbeats sync up as they watch a show, and audience reactions influence and alter the performance in real time. There's been a lot of trial and error as well as growing pains, trying to pivot the theatre industry to a viable quarantine compliant form. Even the best prerecorded, streaming shows have an uphill battle to compete. That said, Ride Share is a timely triumph and well worth watching. I wouldn't be surprised if it stands years from now, as as both a stark reminder of this moment in history, in content and style, and a stellar example that the show must go on.  

Peoria, IL native, Kamal Angelo Bolden delivers a stunning, high energy performance as Marcus. His entire character trajectory is captivating, multilayered, and well suited to a streaming show. The emotions he evokes in the audience run the gamut from empathy to amusement, to anger and back again. 

Bolden performed the show live in his apartment over Zoom, using his laptop as the camera and differentiating locations, time and character by utilizing different rooms, lighting and household objects. 

I was initially expecting more of a Hell Cab scenario, albeit as a one man show, but Ride Share is at once deeper and more disturbing. This satisfying revenge fantasy is a great commentary on capitalist society and a fair number of isms too. Classism, racism, exploitation and invisibility of frontline workers, and more social issues and human personality flaws are brought forth with humor and insight.  

Kudos to both Black Lives, Black Words International Project for still storytelling even when covid 19 made creating complicated, and Writers Theatre for giving this filmed premiere amplification and a wider audience. The pandemic has been an amplifier, exposing inequality in the world at large and in Chicago's theatre scene.  Here at ChiIL Live Shows we're excited that black lives, words, and talent are finally gaining more well deserved stage time and space at the table. We're optimistic for things to come. 

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer, theater critic, photographer, videographer, actress, artist and Mama. She owns two websites where she publishes frequently: (adult) & (family friendly). 

Marcus has a new wife, a comfortable job and everything seems to be falling into place – until his honeymoon is interrupted by an email from work, laying him off. To make ends meet, he becomes a ride share driver, shuttling passengers from all walks of life to and from parties, brunches and meetings. The passengers range from silly, to seductive – to downright scary. But as long as Marcus keeps his radio on and his wits about him, there’s nothing he can’t handle…right? 

Written and directed by Black Lives, Black Words co-founders Reginald Edmund and Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway respectively, Ride Share steps on the gas and takes you along for the dangerous, thrilling ride. Hop in.

Ride Share is co-produced by Black Lives, Black Words International Project and Writers Theatre. It was filmed in Los Angeles in April 2021.

The creative team and crew for Ride Share also includes Tannie Xin Tang (Director of Photography), Lesley Kubistal (Editor), Kerry Baines (Sound Designer/Composer/Mixer), Alexandra Regazzoni (Scenic Designer), Mbela Endeley (Audio Recordist Operator), Katrina D. RiChard (Line Producer), Brian Gutierrez (1st Camera Assistant), Leland Deming (2nd Camera Assistant), Matteo Martignago (Gaffer), Jim Ritchey (Best Boy Electric), Bryan Coleman (Key Grip), Han Luo (Best Boy Grip), Yaowen Fan (Swing), Todd McGraw (Rigger), Noah Michal (Production Assistant), Juliana Acosta (COVID Compliance Officer), Michael Halberstam (Executive Producer), Chris Greiner (Producer), Bobby Kennedy (Artistic Producer) and Adam Veness (Technical Director/Associate Scenic Designer).

Of the production, director Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway says, "As a director, you are constantly looking for a story that thrills, excites and offers creative challenges. Ride Share is a rare gem that every director and actor would love to get their hands on. Every turn of the page takes you deeper into the subconsciousness of Marcus and shines a light on America by questioning the obtainment of the American Dream for Black and POC front-line workers. Reginald’s writing is brutally honest, beautifully raw and boldly unapologetic – it has been a dream to direct this important piece of work, our first feature film at Black Lives, Black Words, in partnership with Writers Theatre. I simply cannot wait to share it with the world."

Reginald Edmund acted as the Dramaturg for Writers Theatre's acclaimed 2017 production of East Texas Hot Links by Eugene Lee, directed by Ron OJ Parson.

Reginald Edmund, Managing Curating Producer of Black Lives, Black Words and writer of Ride Share says, "From an unfunded independent BLBW Zoom play to my first feature film in partnership with Writers Theatre in less than a year - the creation of Ride Share has been one of the most awarding moments in my career. Inspired by my experience as an Uber driver and chronicled accounts on Facebook, Ride Share is the perfect blend of personal experiences and amalgamated reality that stirs the soul as it takes us on a journey into the depths of the black male experience in America. Under the direction of Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, who is one of the most exciting theatrical minds of our generation and a true visionary, Ride Share has been elevated with every incarnation of this project and I can't wait for audiences to see the feature film. I hope audiences are ready! Black Lives, Black Words is grateful to the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the brilliant Writers Theatre team for this exciting partnership and unwavering support."

Michael Halberstam adds, “This collaboration with Black Lives, Black Words has been a dream. Reggie’s powerful poetic vision for his screenplay and his impressively defined production company stands at the core of this collaboration. Furthermore, we were inspired by Simeilia's remarkable prowess for creating a striking visual vocabulary which employs the engines of theatre and the tools of film to create a truly unique hybrid of the two mediums. Both artists have been perfectly balanced by Kamal Angelo Bolden’s breathtaking performance. It was a true privilege to be in the room with the team Reggie and Sim assembled and we all dream of many further collaborations.”  

Kamal Angelo Bolden (Marcus) A native of Peoria, IL, Kamal graduated from Bradley University with a degree in Business Administration-Entrepreneurship. After several years of working in corporate America, he took a leap of faith to pursue acting full time, going on to star in dozens of regional theatre productions in Nashville and Chicago, including the lead role ‘Hero’ in the Goodman Theatre’s production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Father Comes Home From The Wars Parts 1,2, & 3 and the title role of ‘Chad Deity’ in the world premiere of Kristoffer Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize finalist play The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Victory Gardens Theatre. Off-Broadway, he received the AUDELCO Award for Best Actor for his work in Reparations at the historic Billie Holiday Theatre and a nomination for his turn in The Opponent at 59E59St Theatre. Though he discovered a fondness for the camera in the Big Apple, making his debut on FX’s Lights Out and the popular Christmas movie The Night Before, still it was his love for theatre that brought him to LA to be directed by legendary actress Phylicia Rashad in Immediate Family at the Mark Taper Forum. In just a short time in L.A., Kamal has gone on to create several memorable characters on television including recurring roles on NBC’s Chicago Fire, FOX’s Rosewood, HBO’s Insecure and FOX’s The Resident. On film, he spent some time in Wales filming the action-packed horror flick Ravers before landing the leading role of ‘Russell Savage’ in the BET film Keys to the City. Most recently, Kamal completed filming the Hulu comedy Vacation Friends alongside Lil Rel Howery and John Cena and is currently filming AMC’s 61st Street, executive produced by Michael B. Jordan. His education includes training at the British American Drama Academy in Oxford.

Both Reginald Edmund and Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway are award-winning theatre artists and are the co-founders of Black Lives, Black Words International Project. 

Reginald Edmund (Writer) is the Co-Founder and Managing Curating Producer for Black Lives, Black Words International Project. Inspired by #blacklivesmatter, this project gives voice to some of the most contemporary political black writers from both the U.S., Canada and the U.K., asking them to explore the question, “Do black lives matter today?” In addition, he was a Resident Playwright at Tamasha Theatre in London, England and an Alumni Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists Theatre, an Artistic Associate at Pegasus Theatre-Chicago and an Artistic Patriot at Merrimack Repertory Theatre; he was also a 2010-11 Many Voice Fellow with the Playwrights’ Center. His play Southbridge was runner up for the Kennedy Center’s Lorraine Hansberry and Rosa Parks National Playwriting Awards, and most recently named winner of the Southern Playwrights’ Competition, the Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best New Play and the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. His nine-play series titled The City of the Bayou Collection, include Southbridge, Juneteenth Street, The Last Cadillac and All the Dying Voices were developed at esteemed theaters including Pegasus Theatre-Chicago, Deluxe Theatre, Actors Theatre of Charlotte, Bush Theatre (U.K.), Theatre @ Boston Court, The Landing Theatre, Playwrights’ Center and The National Theatre (U.K.). Reginald Edmund received his BFA in Theatre-Performance from Texas Southern University and his MFA in Playwriting from Ohio University.

Ride Share was originally commissioned and produced by Black Lives, Black Words International Project in July 2020. The piece by Reginald Edmund was also directed by Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway and starred Kamal Angelo Bolden. 

Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway (Director) is an internationally acclaimed arts leader, director, producer, changemaker, black plays specialist and dramaturg. More recently recognized for the commission and direction of The Interrogation of Sandra Bland by Mojisola Adebayo, performed by 100 women of color at Goodman Theatre as part of Black Lives Black Words: I AM Fest. Simeilia is the Co-founder and Creative Director at Black Lives Black Words International Festival, Founder and CEO at Beyond The Canon Limited, Curatorial Consultant at Manchester International Festival and Founder and former CEO at Artistic Directors of the Future. Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway has been listed five consecutive years in the Stage Top 100 Power List (2017-21), selected by Google and TED as one of the five international Emerging Innovators (2019), named in the London Evening Standard The Progress 1000: London's most influential people 2018 - Performance: Theatre, included in the Who Who's 2020 publication, the standard, up-to-date source book of information on people of influence and interest in all fields and recipient of The Stage Innovation Award for her work on diversifying U.K. arts boards in 2020. She is also former researcher, trouble-shooter and Project Manager of the National Theatre's Black Play Archive, Editor of the first monologue anthology inspired by black British Plays: ‘The Oberon Book of Monologues for Black Actors: Classical and Contemporary Speeches from Black British Plays’ which was followed by a second monologue anthology, inspired by the work of international playwrights, published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama: ‘Audition Speeches for Black, South Asian and Middle Eastern Actors’ and former Trustee at the Directors Guild of Great Britain and Company of Angels Theatre Company. She also works nationally and internationally as a teacher/guest lecture, audience development consultant and leadership consultant. 

Schedule: June 23 - July 25, 2021

Tickets: Call the Box Office at 847-242-6000;

Ride Share is available to WT Classic Subscribers at no additional charge.

Up Front Flex Members who would like to watch Ride Share can use one of their pre-paid Member tickets and book for no additional charge by calling the Box Office at 847-242-6000. Pay As You Go Members can purchase one of their $35 Member tickets by calling the Box Office.



Ticket prices are based on number of viewers in your household:

Solo: $40

Duo: $65

Trio: $85

Ensemble (4+): $100

All prices are subject to regular per-ticket fees.

Accessibility: Closed Captioning will be available on all performances. Audio Description will be available on demand during the full run. Patrons will be able to select the AD performance when purchasing their ticket.

Box Office: Call the WT Box Office at 847-242-6000;

For the safety of our employees and patrons, Writers Theatre will continue to operate all WT Box Office business remotely. Associates will be available to take your call, Monday and Tuesday, 12-5pm CST, and Wednesday – Saturday, 12-7:30pm CST. The Writers Theatre Box Office located in our Theatre Center in downtown Glencoe will remain closed until further notice to encourage social distancing.

Writers Theatre is pleased to welcome back BMO Harris Bank for 2020/21 as the distinguished Season Sponsor, marking the Bank’s tenth consecutive year as season sponsor. 



Black Lives, Black Words International project is the definition of Activist Theatre. Dedicated to social justice, BLBW commissions, develops and produces bold and unapologetic artistic responses to current social and political issues. Through exciting partnerships with like-minded arts and academia institutions, BLBW commissions new plays and films widening the accessibility to mainstream institutions and increasing the visibility of new and existing POC artists. The ambition of BLBW has led to create a successful pathway to artistic employment opportunities in the arts for POC creatives across the globe.



For 29 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 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. 

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