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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Writers Theatre Pearl’s Rollin’ with the Blues: A Night with Felicia P. Fields June 23 – July 24, 2022

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Writers Theatre concludes its 2021/22 Season with the World Premiere musical event

Pearl’s Rollin’ with the Blues: 

A Night with Felicia P. Fields

created by Felicia P. Fields and Ron OJ Parson

directed by Ron OJ Parson

June 23 – July 24, 2022




Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma and Interim Artistic Director Bobby Kennedy, concludes its 2021/22 Season with Pearl’s Rollin’ with the Blues: A Night with Felicia P. Fields.  The production runs June 23, 2022 – July 24, 2022 in the in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. I'll be out for the Press Opening July 1, so check back shortly for my full review.

Singing the Blues is what Tony Award nominee Felicia P. Fields was born to do, and she can’t wait to be back in front of a crowd with her band. This world premiere musical event—created by Fields and Ron OJ Parson, who collaborated on WT’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom—honors and celebrates the great Blues artists of the past, including Big Mama Thornton, Son House, Howlin’ Wolf and more! Grab your drink, take your seat and enjoy the riffs, rhythms and rapport of a star performer and her seasoned band of musicians as they do what they do best: swap stories, belt the Blues and put on one helluva show.

“To hear Felicia Fields sing the Blues is an experience you’ll never forget. With this original show, Felicia has personally picked a set list of classic Blues songs that tells a compelling story of this most American of music and how it has shaped her life. Collaborating with her friend, the magnificent Ron OJ Parson, and an accomplished band of musicians, Pearl’s Rollin’ with the Blues will be a cathartic and joyful concert celebration,” says Interim Artistic Director Bobby Kennedy. “As August Wilson once wrote in his play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, ‘You sing ‘cause that’s a way of understanding life.’ I cannot wait to see Felicia Fields take the stage at Writers Theatre this summer, to hear her sing, and to understand more about life.”

The cast features Felicia P. Fields. They will be supported by a live band including Chic Street Man (Music Director/Guitar), Ricardo Jimenez (Horn & Harp), Frank Menzies (Keyboard), Harold Morrison (Drums), and Julie Poncé (Bass).

The creative team includes:  Jack Magaw (Scenic Designer), Rueben Echoles (Costume Designer), Jared Gooding (Lighting Designer), and Eric Backus (Sound Designer), and the stage manager is David Castellanos.


ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Tony nominee (The Color Purple) Felicia P. Fields is returning to Writers Theatre after appearing in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, also directed by Ron OJ Parson. Audience members frequently commented that they longed for Felicia to sing more in Ma Rainey, which inspired the creation of this production.

Felicia P. Fields (Performer/Co-Creator) earned a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Sofia in The Color Purple on Broadway and a 2006 Theatre World Award, two Broadway.com awards, an NAACP nomination and the award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in Sophisticated Ladies. She previously appeared at Writers in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Northlight Theatre credits include she and E. Faye Butler’s revue of Let the Good Times Roll, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, and Low Down Dirty Blues. Other credits include: Marriott Theatre, Court Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Theatre at the Center, Milwaukee Rep, The Broadway Playhouse and the Goodman Theatre. She has performed throughout the country in the musical Low Down Dirty Blues. Television/film credits include Slice with Chance the Rapper, Save the Last Dance, Who Gets the Dog, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Bad Judge (NBC), Sense8 (Netflix), Early Edition (CBS), The Knights of Prosperity (ABC) and many commercials/voice-overs to date. She is the recipient of a Clarence Dewitt Award, many Joseph Jefferson nominations and won the Jeff award for her performances in Sophisticated Ladies. Governor Quinn declared July 24th Felicia P. Fields Day.

Ron OJ Parson is enjoying a string of successful productions. His recent acclaimed work includes Court Theatre’s Two Trains Running and Relentless with TimeLine Theatre Company (also remounted at Goodman Theatre).

Ron OJ Parson (Director/Co-Creator) hails from Buffalo, New York and is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s professional theatre program. He is a Resident Artist at Court Theatre, former co-founder and artistic director of the Onyx Theatre Ensemble, and co-founder of the Beyond the Stage Theatre Project. Ron is a company member of TimeLine Theatre, and associate artist at Writers Theatre and Teatro Vista. Court Theatre: Two Trains Running, Fences, Gem of the Ocean, Seven Guitars, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, and Jitney by August Wilson; The Mountaintop by Katori Hall; Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett; Sizwe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona; Blues for an Alabama Sky and Flyin’ West by Pearl Cleage; Home by Samm-Art Williams; Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott; The First Breeze of Summer by Leslie Lee; and the musical Five Guys Named Moe. In Chicagoland, Ron has also worked with Black Ensemble Theatre, eta Creative Arts Foundation, Chicago Dramatists, Congo Square, Oak Park Theatre Festival, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Northlight, Chicago Dramatists, Urban Theater Company, Steppenwolf, and City Lit Theatre. Regional theatres include American Players Theatre, Virginia Stage Company, Portland Stage (Maine), Studio Arena Theatre, Roundabout, Studio Theatre (DC), Baltimore Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Wilshire Theater, Coronet Theatre, The Mechanic Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, St. Louis Black Rep, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Geva, Signature (New York), The Alliance Theatre, South Coast Rep, Kansas City Repertory, and Pasadena Playhouse. In Canada, Ron directed the world premiere of Palmer Park at the Stratford Festival. Ron is a member of SAG-AFTRA, SDC, and Actors Equity.

Felicia P. Fields and Chic Street Man performed across the country together in It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, seen locally at Northlight Theatre.

Chic Street Man (Music Director) has been a featured performer in the US, France and in other parts of Europe, including the Montreux, Paleo and Bern Jazz Festivals in Switzerland, and the United Nations Human Rights Center in Geneva. He recorded his first album in Paris, and later landed in Santa Barbara, CA where he founded Chic Street Man's School of Performing Arts. Chic composed the music and starred in the off-Broadway hit show, Spunk, adapted by George C. Wolfe from three short stories by Zora Neale Hurston He was a contributing author, performer and musical arranger for the Denver Center Theater Company's It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues. He composed the score and was the featured performer in the Cleveland Playhouse's world premiere of Touch The Names--Letters to The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. He was the Arranger, Musical Director and Composer for the McCarter and Berkeley Repertory Theater’s production of Zora Neale Hurston’s Polk County, where he also won the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Musical Direction. Chic was Professor Slick in Pullman Porter Blues at the Seattle Rep, Arena Stage in DC and the Goodman Theater in Chicago. He starred in Low Down Dirty Blues at the Milwaukee Rep, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Arizona Theater Company and has appeared in the films Triple Bogey and Hangin' With The Home Boys. 

Writers Theatre is pleased to welcome back BMO Harris Bank as the distinguished 2021/22 Season Sponsor, marking the Bank’s ninth consecutive year as season sponsor.

 

Dates: First performance: Thursday, June 23, 2022

Press opening: Friday, July 1, 2022 at 7:30pm

Closing performance: Sunday, July 24, 2022

 

Schedule:

Wednesdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Thursdays: 7:30pm

Fridays: 7:30pm

Saturdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Sundays: 2:00pm and 6:00pm

 

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

Prices:  Prices for all performances range from $35 - $90, Purchase early for best prices                                   

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

 

COVID SAFETY POLICIES

Writers Theatre requires all seated patrons to wear a mask during performances. If you attend without a mask, Writers Theatre will provide one for you. Masks will be optional but strongly recommended in non-theatre spaces throughout the WT building, including the lobby and restrooms. Please visit https://www.writerstheatre.org/covid-safety for full details.

 

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES:

WT offers Access Performances, including ASL-interpretation and Open Captioning on select dates for each production. Please visit writerstheatre.org/accessibility for more information.

Writers Theatre is also working with Erika Walker and Maylene Peña of the Walker Thomas Group on workplace culture and equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. Additional information about this important and ongoing work can be found at writerstheatre.org/working-at-wt.

 

ABOUT WRITERS THEATRE 

Writers Theatre boldly looks to the future as it begins its 30th season. Having captivated audiences for years with its dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible, the theatre is now a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence, being called “America’s finest regional theater company” by The Wall Street Journal.

Since 1992, Writers Theatre has stayed true to its core values: valuing the power of the written word and uplifting the artists who bring that word to life. The company has produced over 120 productions—everything from inventive interpretations of classics to groundbreaking new work. In 2016, Writers Theatre opened a new, state-of-the-art facility designed by the internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects. The new facility has allowed the Theatre to accommodate its growing audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy.

Writers Theatre now welcomes more than 60,000 patrons each season and has helped establish the North Shore of Chicago as a premier cultural destination. Through its Literary Development Initiative, which has been responsible for the nurturing and premiering of over two dozen world premieres, the theatre has established itself as a major originator of new theatrical works. Serving as an extension of the Writers Theatre mission, WT Education programs engage an average 10,000 students each year with active learning opportunities centered around the written word.

Friday, May 27, 2022

16th Street Theater Presents World Premiere of The Billboard Now Playing Through July 17, 2022

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

16th Street Theater Presents Natalie Y. Moore’s 

The Billboard

A World Premiere Play About Reproductive Justice Set in

Chicago’s Englewood Neighborhood,

Runs June 23-July 17

- Also Free Virtual Reading of Interrobang-Roberto+Julia 

on June 3, 7 p.m. -16th St.

16th Street Theater and GLP Productions announces the world premiere of Natalie Y. Moore’s The Billboard, the first production of the “You Made It,” 15th anniversary season. The Vagina Monologues creator V, formerly Eve Ensler, said “The Billboard is a provocative and timely play ripe with the political complexities and nuances of our times.” 

Single tickets and $50 season subscriptions are available at 16thStreetTheater.org and 708-795-6704. Season subscribers receive two live, in-person plays with priority seating during 2022, plus 10% off local restaurants and links to The Write Collectives online staged readings. Vaccination proof and masks are required for all live events. Copies of The Billboard are available from Haymarket Books.

Congo Square ensemble member and African American Museum of Performing Arts Executive Director TaRon Patton directs and co-produces The Billboard, an in-depth look at reproductive rights set at a fictional women’s clinic in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, where politicians weaponize women’s bodily autonomy to forward their careers. 

When City Council candidate Demetrius Drew unveils a billboard saying “Abortion is genocide – the most dangerous place for a Black child is his mother’s womb,” Tanya Gray’s Black Women’s Health Initiative responds with its own sign to underscore that abortion is more than merely pro-life or pro-choice. Her billboard says “Black women have the right to make decisions for their families and their bodies. Abortion is self-care. #TrustBlackWomen.” 

The Billboard runs June 23-July 17, 2022, in Abbott Hall at Northwestern University, 710 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago (run time is 90 minutes without intermission). The Billboard press opening is Thursday, June 23 at 8 p.m., with the second press opening on Friday, June 24 at 8 p.m., public opening on Saturday, June 25, 8 p.m., and the first regular performance on Sunday, June 26 at 2 p.m. The show runs on two Thursdays (June 30 and July 14), Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through July 17. Post-show events include Moore and Simons on June 26; Tonika Johnson, Englewood Arts Collective, and Michelle Rashad on July 8; and Scheherazade Tillet, A Long Walk Home, on July 15.  

“If ever there was a play that speaks to present day events, this is it,” said interim Artistic Director Jean Gottlieb. “We were determined to get The Billboard to the stage. Despite the loss of our 14-year artistic home in Berwyn, as well as the proposed new space in the Berwyn VFW building, our artistic team knew that the time for this play was NOW. Natalie’s play holds up a crucial mirror to American society, helping us to face all sides of this topical issue.”   

Natalie Y. Moore

Natalie Y. Moore (she/her) is WBEZ’s South Side bureau reporter, where she’s known as the South Side Lois Lane. She is a 2021 USA Fellow and a 2020 Longworth Media Fellow for international reporting at the Pulitzer Center. Her last book, The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation won the 2016 Chicago Review of Books nonfiction award. The Chicago-based journalist has been published in Essence, Black Enterprise, Chicago Reporter, Bitch, In These Times, Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. 

TaRon Patton

TaRon Patton is the Executive Director of The African American Museum of the Performing Arts. For four years, she served as Congo Square Theatre's Executive Director, and has performed at many professional venues including Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre. She is also the CEO of GLP Productions, Inc. Producer credits include N (Greenhouse), and Misty Tanner (Q&A Productions). Directing credits include N (Greenhouse) Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (Steppenwolf Garage Rep), Bulrusher (Congo Square), and Nativity Tribute (Congo Square).

The cast for The Billboard includes LaQuis Harkins as Tanya Gray (pictured top center), Margo Gadsden-Harper as Dawn Williamson (top left), Milan Falls as Kayla Brown (top right), Veronda Carey as Cheryl Lewis (bottom left), and Frederick Williams, AEA, (bottom right) as Demetrius Drew. Understudies include Runako Robinson, Tiffany Curtis and Yiidum Wiwa.

The crew includes Rose Johnson (set design), Richard Norwood (light design), Shawn Wallace (sound design), Nicole Clocket (costume design), Rachelle “Rocky” Kolecke (prop design), Abboye Lawrence (media specialist), Razor Wintercastle (production manager), Hayley Procacci, AEA (stage manager), Kamesha Khan (dramaturg), Ashley Coney (production assistant), Edward Richardson (assistant sound design and sound engineer), and Zach Kelchen (COVID officer). The post-show facilitator is Sasha-Ann Simons, the host of WBEZ’s Reset. 

Sasha-Ann Simons

The next Write Collective free staged reading runs online Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m. Playwright Arlene Malinowski presents Interrobang-Roberto+Julia, a twist on Shakespeare’s familiar tragedy: “Two households, both alike in dignity / In fair Ivy at the Glen retirement home, / where we lay our scene, a pair of star-crossed lovers / hurl their fates to destiny when their feuding families forbid their union.” In this tale of love, power and the secrets about aging, Roberto and Julia explore: When you have no past or no future, who are you?

Arlene Malinowski

The Write Collective’s resident playwrights present free virtual staged readings of their latest works, including talkbacks, throughout 2022, on Fridays at 7 p.m. CT:

August 12, TBA by Reginald Edmund

October 7, The Queen of Ithaca by Aline Lathrop

December 2, The Lost Girl by Kathryn Feeney

Date and title TBA, new play by Marsha Estell

The second production of 16th Street Theater’s 15th season will be San Diego-based Siena Marilyn Ledger’s National New Play Network rolling world premiere Man and Moon, which runs October 21-November 13, 2022, at Madison Street Theater, 1010 Madison Street in Oak Park (run time 90 minutes). In the waiting room of a hospital oncology unit, transitioning man Aaron meets 12-year-old middle-schooler Luna, who loves outer space. Together, they learn how to wait and navigate their own changing bodies.

16th Street Theater’s mission is to produce theater that encourages debate, discussion and compassion through intimate, timely, and thought-provoking works with the playwright as our central focus.

16th Street Theater promotes playwrights whose voices have long been underrepresented on stage, and strives to be a theater of inclusivity, to give voice to those stories that might otherwise not be told and to create a space for all voices to be heard.

16th Street Theater is supported in part by American Theatre Wing, The Arts Work Fund, The Berwyn Development Corp, Chicago Community Trust, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, The National New Play Network, The Oak Park Area Arts Council, The Oak Park River Forest Future Philanthropists Program, as well as by season subscribers and the annual support of individuals and businesses. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

EXTENDED: Chicago Premiere! Raven Theatre Presents THE LUCKIEST Now Extended Through June 26, 2022

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar  

Chicago Premiere!

Raven Theatre Presents

THE LUCKIEST

By Melissa Ross

Directed by Artistic Director Cody Estle

May 5 – June 26, 2022


Raven Theatre, Chicago’s newest Equity-affiliated theatre, is pleased to conclude its 2021-22 Season with the Chicago premiere of Melissa Ross’ The Luckiest, a heartfelt and honest look at the journey of life, directed by Artistic Director Cody Estle. The production will play May 5 – June 19, 2022 on Raven’s 85-seat East Stage, 6157 N. Clark St. (at Granville) in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at raventheatre.com or by calling (773) 338-2177. I'll be out for the press opening May 9th so check back soon for my full review.

The production will feature Tara Mallen, Cassidy Slaughter-Mason and Christopher Wayland.

Lissette and Peter are best friends living their best lives. But when an out-of-nowhere diagnosis shatters Lissette's world, Peter is left trying to pick up the pieces. Suddenly finding herself at odds with both her best friend and her mom – who each come bearing strong opinions wrapped in good intentions – Lissette is forced to navigate between the two while unflinchingly forging her own path for her future. This tender, funny and keenly-observed play explores the uncertain and sometimes heartbreaking territory of how we choose to take ownership of our lives.

Raven Artistic Director Cody Estle comments, “The Luckiest is a humorously moving portrait of an independent young woman diagnosed with a serious illness. Having lived life on her own terms, she continues to do so after her diagnosis as she navigates the constraints of her new life. The writing is a gift to actors – the characters are well defined, the language specific and nuanced. We are excited to welcome playwright Melissa Ross back to Raven Theatre after having produced a successful run of her play Nice Girl in 2018. We are pleased she will be joining us during the creative process for this production and we look forward to sharing this engaging story with our audience.”

The production team includes Jeffrey D. Kmiec (scenic design), Izumi Inaba (costume design), Becca Jeffords (lighting design), Eric Backus (sound design), Caitlin McCarthy (props design), Sam Hubbard (movement coach), Eva Breneman (text coach and dialect designer), Sarah Slight (dramaturg), Catherine Miller (casting director), Morgan Wrigley (COVID safety manager), Lorenzo Blackett (production manager), Alan Weusthoff (technical director), Eileen Rozycki (scenic artist),  Sebastian Chrzanowski, (master electrician), Ashley Keys (assistant director) and Rita Vreeland (stage manager).



 

Covid protocols: Raven Theatre currently requires proof of vaccination and masking at all performances. Protocols subject to change closer to date of event. For all of Raven’s current COVID-19 and vaccination information, visit raventheatre.com/covid-19.

 



Location: Raven Theatre East Stage, 6157 N. Clark St. (at Granville), Chicago

Dates: Previews: Thursday, May 5 at 7:30 pm, Friday, May 6 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 7 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 8 at 3 pm

Press performance: Monday, May 9 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Thursday, May 12 – Sunday, June 19

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

Tickets: Previews $30. Regular run $40. Students/active military and veterans $15. Tickets are currently available at raventheatre.com or by calling (773) 338-2177.

Open Captioned performance: Sunday, June 5 at 3 pm.

Group tickets: Special group rates are available. For information, call (773) 338-2177 or e-mail info@raventheatre.com.

 

Plan Your Visit:

Free parking is provided in a lot adjacent to the theatre – additional street parking is available. Nearest El station: Granville Red Line. Buses: #22 (Clark), #36 (Broadway), #151 (Sheridan), #155 (Devon), #84 (Peterson).

 

About the Artists

Melissa Ross’ (Playwright) plays include Thinner Than Water (LAByrinth Theater Company), A Life Extra Ordinary (The Gift Theatre), Nice Girl (LAByrinth Theater Company), An Entomologist’s Love Story (San Francisco Playhouse), Of Good Stock (South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theater Club), and The Luckiest (La Jolla Playhouse). Her work has been developed and produced around the country at theaters including Dorset Theater Festival, Iama Theatre Company, Kitchen Dog Theater, Montana Rep, New York Stage and Film, The New Group, Raven Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Summer Shorts, and TheatreWorks Palo Alto. She is twice commissioned by both South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theater Club and is currently commissioned by Atlantic Theater Company, Raven Theatre, and San Francisco Playhouse. Melissa is a graduate of Bennington College and the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Program at The Juilliard School, and is a proud member of LAByrinth Theater Company.

Cody Estle (Director) became the Artistic Director at Raven Theatre in November 2017 where he had previously served as the Associate Artistic Director. His directing credits include Sundown, Yellow Moon, How I Learned To Drive (named by Windy City Times as the best of Chicago theatre in 2019), The Gentleman Caller (2019 Jeff Award-winning new play by Philip Dawkins), The Assembled Parties, A Loss of Roses (named by Chicago Tribune honorable mention as one of the year’s best in 2016), Dividing the Estate, Vieux Carré (named by Chicago Tribune as one of the year’s best in 2014), Good Boys and True, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Boy Gets Girl and Dating Walter Dante at Raven Theatre; Damascus at Strawdog Theatre; Five Mile Lake at Shattered Globe Theatre; By The Water (named by Chicago Sun-Times honorable mention as one of the top theatre productions of 2017) at Northlight Theatre; American Hero at First Floor Theater; Scarcity at Redtwist Theatre; The Seagull and Watch on the Rhine at The Artistic Home; Don’t Go Gentle at Haven Theatre; Uncle Bob at Mary-Arrchie Theatre, and Hospitality Suite at Citadel Theatre. He is a member of SDC, serves on the board of directors of the League of Chicago Theatres, and is an alumnus of Columbia College Chicago.

About Raven Theatre

Raven Theatre tells stories of today and the past that connect us to our cultural landscape. Through its plays, as well as its educational programming, Raven is committed to serving our communities’ needs through the arts.

Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by the The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at Prince, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Polk Bros Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, S&C Electric Company Fund, Paul M. Angell Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

FREE Concert: Denise La Grassa Returns to Phyllis' Musical Inn on 5/27

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 

Denise La Grassa 

Brings Her Soulful Blues to

Wicker Park’s Phyllis’ Musical Inn on

Friday, May 27, 8:30 p.m. 

Also Chronicling 2022 with “North of 40” Film


Critically acclaimed Chicagoland singer, songwriter and keyboardist Denise La Grassa will perform soulful blues originals and choice covers with bandmates John Kregor (guitar), Steve Manns (bass), and John Sergel (drums).

La Grassa is also documenting her 2022 dream of returning to Europe to perform with her new band and bluesy sound that will culminate with the film “North of 40.”

Videos for La Grassa’s latest songs, including the anthemic, soulful “Wide Eyes Wide High,” and the rocking blues “Amen to Happiness” are available at DeniseLaGrassa.com/epk

WHEN/           Friday, May 27, 2022, 8:30 p.m. 

WHERE/         Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division, Chicago, IL, 60622

TICKETS:       FREE, 773-486-9862

Denise La Grassa’s blend of blues, soul, and R&B and sophisticated yet melodic songwriting has been compared favorably with The Tedeschi-Trucks Band. She cites inspiration from R.L Burnside, Aretha Franklin, The Allman Brothers, Mavis Staples, Otis Redding, and Charlie Parker. La Grassa first played Europe in the 1990s, making stops in Scotland and Germany to support her original one-woman musical “Bite.”  

La Grassa released her first live CD Rockin’ in the Castle Theater in September 2019 to join her 2016 bluesy coming out The Blues Ain’t A Color, and the critically acclaimed April Dreams. 

KUDOS:

Robert Rodi, Newcity, said, “She’s certainly got improvisatory chops; but she’s also sufficiently a woman of her time to pull in influences as diverse as funk and folk. And her compelling contralto owes more to Grace Slick than Sarah Vaughan.” 

Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times, said, “An impressive but never showy range, a self-assured conversational delivery that brings to mind a jazzier Aimee Mann.” 

Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune, said, “Poet-Preacher-Polemicist … brilliantly unconventional …  singular triumph.”

John Ziegler, Duluth News-Tribune, said “A serendipitous pop flavor … sultry voice and pithy compositional abilities.” 


John Kregor received a B.A. in composition at the University of Texas, and is a prized member of Chicago's jazz community. He has played in groups led by Jim Gailloreto, Rob Clearfield, Matt Ulery, and currently plays with Patricia Barber every Monday at the Green Mill when Barber is not touring the U.S. and Europe. Kregor also played on Barber’s critically acclaimed 2013 Blue Note Records album Smash.    

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

LORCA, LIVING THE EXPERIENCE VIA WATER PEOPLE THEATER WEDNESDAY, MAY 25 AND WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1 AT THE INSTITUTO CERVANTES OF CHICAGO

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 

WATER PEOPLE THEATER ANNOUNCES CAST AND MUSICIANS FOR ITS RETURN TO LIVE PERFORMANCES WITH 

LORCA, LIVING THE EXPERIENCE 

CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY ARTISTIC DIRECTOR 

IRAIDA TAPIAS 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 25 AND WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1 

AT THE INSTITUTO CERVANTES OF CHICAGO


Presented in Spanish with English Subtitles, This World Premiere Combines Plays and Music Written and Composed by Federico García Lorca with Video Mapping to Immerse the Audience in Lorca’s World 

Water People Theater, celebrates 20 years of creating theater, announces the cast and musicians for its return to live performances with LORCA, Living the Experience, conceived and directed by Artistic Director Iraida Tapias, plays and music written and composed by Federico García Lorca. A show in which the audience will be immersed, like never before, in the world of the Andalusian poet. Performance are Wednesday, May 25 and Wednesday, June 1 at 7 p.m. at Instituto Cervantes, 31 W Ohio St. Tickets are $25 - $35 and are on sale now at WaterPeople.org.

LORCA, Living the Experience is a theatrical show with the protagonists of Federico García Lorca plays including “The Shoemaker's Prodigious Wife,” “Doña Rosita the Spinster,” “Blood Wedding”, “The House of Bernarda Alba,” “Yerma” and “Mariana Pineda.” Through video mapping, the audience will be immersed in the world of flamenco. With these female voices, the poet speaks to the audience of the deep meaning of the word freedom.

The LORCA, Living the Experience cast includes Carlota Sosa, (Bernarda Alba); Rebeca Aleman, (Yerma, Mariana Pineda, pianist); Ana Santos, (The Mother, Neighbor, First Washer-Woman, singer); Kris Tori, (Doña Rosita, The Bride, Second Washer-Woman); Teresa Echeveste, (The Shoemaker’s Wife, Third Washer-Woman, understudy); Camilo Rasquin, (Lorca, singer); Andrea Salcedo, (guitar) and Diego Salcedo, (percussion).

The production crew includes Iraida Tapias, (director/creator); Ramon Camin (assistant director); Marisabel Munoz, (art director); Oliver Krisch and Mafer Rodriguez, (projection design and video mapping), Irene Sivianes (choreographer) and Kim Schalk, (costume designer).


ABOUT IRAIDA TAPIAS, playwright and director 

Iraida Tapias is a director, playwright, producer and artistic director of Water People Theater. During her more than 49-years career in theater, she focused on producing and directing plays of Spanish American authors, especially Venezuelan. Tapias has written seven plays, produced over 20 theatrical performances and writes and produces for film and television. She has received the National Artist Award, Venezuela, “Best Director;” Premio Municipal de Cine, Venezuela, “Scriptwriter” and La Habana Film Festival Award, “Best Producer.”


ABOUT WATER PEOPLE THEATER

Water People Theater is a non-profit Latino bilingual organization dedicated to the development of performing arts and theater. Its mission is to attract new and diverse talents to create high-quality theater that inspires a very diverse audience to seek change and contribute decidedly to equity, justice, respect and integrating all cultures. 

The name, Water People, comes from the Venezuelan indigenous group, Yekuana. It signifies people on the river who open roads in the water.

Water People Theater believes in the power of theater to bring people together to inspire action, encourage understanding and facilitate harmony among diverse communities.

Water People Theater, celebrating 20 years of creating theater, returns to live performances with LORCA, Living the Experience, conceived and directed by Artistic Director Iraida Tapias combining text and music written and composed by Federico García Lorca, Wednesday, May 25 and Wednesday, June 1 at 7 p.m. at Instituto Cervantes, 31 W Ohio St. Tickets are $25 - $30 and are on sale now at WaterPeople.org.

WORLD PREMIERE of SOMEWHERE OVER THE BORDER Via TEATRO VISTA at WINDY CITY PLAYHOUSE Now Playing Through JUNE 12, 2022

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 
TEATRO VISTA RETURNS TO LIVE THEATER WITH BRIAN QUIJADA’S 
SOMEWHERE OVER THE BORDER 
A WORLD PREMIERE MUSICAL INSPIRED BY HIS MOTHER’S REAL LIFE STORY AND THE WIZARD OF OZ, 
MAY 12-JUNE 12, 2022 AT WINDY CITY PLAYHOUSE

(from left) Brian Quijada (book, lyrics and music) is the playwright and narrator of Teatro Vista’s world premiere musical, Somewhere Over the BorderDenise Yvette Serna directs. The cast features Andrés EnriquezAmanda Raquel MartinezGabriela Moscoso, Claudia Quesada and Teatro Vista ensemble member Tommy Rivera-Vega


Teatro Vista, Chicago’s leading Latine theater company, will return to the live stage this spring with Emmy-nominated artist Brian Quijada’s world premiere musical, Somewhere Over the Border, directed by Denise Yvette Serna.

Performances are May 12-June 12, 2022 at Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago. Tickets, $15-$49.50, are on sale now at teatrovista.org. Fees not included.

Inspired by his mother’s real-life border crossing from El Salvador to the U.S., mashed up with The Wonderful Wizard of OzSomewhere Over the Border is an uplifting new work of musical theater that embraces fact and fantasy to depict one young girl's pursuit of the American dream. 

As Reina Quijada travels north to the Mexican border, she gathers friends, faces down dangers and holds tight to the memory of the little boy she left behind. Set in the 1970s and propelled by an original score including cumbia, Mexican mariachi boleros, American rock and hip hop, Somewhere Over the Border is both fable and family history – a testament to the determination born of love. 

Brian Quijada (book, lyrics and music), who created, starred and two-time Jeff Award winner for Teatro Vista’s 2016 hit world premiere hip hop show, Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, is back to narrate his newest work. 

"I've been waiting to see a brown, Central-American Dorothy,” said Quijada, “and now, the American theater is being introduced to her." 

“When I was 18, I left my hometown on a Greyhound bus with two duffel bags, in search of a far away future I hoped existed for someone like me. It was one of the scariest times of my life, with ripple effects and traumas that follow me to this day," said director Denise Yvette Serna

"With Somewhere Over the Border, we have the privilege to come together in a theater again, to laugh, cry, dance, and celebrate those who leave their homes willingly, those who are displaced, the parents who did their best, and all the dreamers who take each day step-by-step.”

Somewhere Over the Border is the first production under new co-artistic directors, Lorena Diaz and Wendy Mateo. "Brian’s new musical is the most ambitious production Teatro Vista has endeavored to produce to date,” confirmed Diaz. “It brings us back to live theater and houses us in a large new space at Windy City Playhouse where anything is possible.” 

“Large scale productions like this one don't usually happen on a budget like ours, but we met the challenge to give the community a way to see themselves reflected in stories like these,” added Mateo. “We committed to employing mostly femme and people of color in key positions, led by an all Latine cast and Mexican-American femme-director. For our first production out of the pandemic gates, we mean to be true to our word, to be a model for inclusive and equitable practices in Chicago theater.” 
The cast is Andrés Enriquez (Silvano/Don Napo), Amanda Raquel Martinez (Antonia/Leona), Gabriela Moscoso (Reina), Brian Quijada (Narrator), Claudia Quesada (Julia) and Teatro Vista ensemble member Tommy Rivera-Vega (Cruz/Adan). Covers are Ulysses EspinozaLaura Quiñones and Karla Serrato. Music director is Thee Ricky Harris. Choreography by Kasey AlfonsoYendrys Cespedes (co-orchestrator/keyboards/percussion) leads the three-piece band with Roberto “Carpacho” Marin (upright bass) and Guido Acevedo (cajón). 

The production team includes Teatro Vista ensemble member Ayssette Muñoz (associate director), Yvonne Miranda (scenic design), Sarah Albrecht (costumes), Stefanie Senior (sound), Diane Fairchild (lights), Liviu Pasare (projections), Lonnae Hickson (props), Grace Needlman (puppets), Kristin Leahey (dramaturg), Adelina Feldman-Schultz (casting), Jennifer Aparicio(production manager), Johnnie Schleyer (technical director), Kyle Jensen(sound design assistant), Isaac Mandel (audio supervisor/sound engineer), Julián Mesri (co-orchestrator), Sara Pool Wilhelm (music copyist). Stage manager is Madeline Scott. Assistant stage managers are Maurilio Rodriguez and Olivia Sullam

Somewhere Over the Border premieres May 12-June 12, 2022 at Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park Rd., ChicagoShow times are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 Teatro For All/$35 previews/$49.50 regular performances. Teatro For All is a new initiative to make theater accessible to everyone – students, artists, seniors, or folks on a tight budget. Ten $15 tickets are available for every performance on a first-come, first-served basis. 

For tickets and information, visit teatrovista.orgSign up for Teatro Vista’s e-newsletter, and follow Teatro Vista on  TwitterFacebook or Instagram

Teatro Vista’s production of Somewhere Over the Border is a rolling world premiere with Syracuse State and Geva Theatre Center.

Plan your trip to see Somewhere Over the Border 

Windy City Playhouse is located on Chicago’s northwest side, at the intersection of Irving Park Rd. and Sacramento Ave. It offers a high-end bar and snacks on-site, plus several dining partners within easy walking distance for pre- or post-show meals. 

Windy City Playhouse is easily accessible from both Lake Shore Drive and I-94. The CTA #80 bus runs right in front of the theater, with a stop at Sacramento. Metered street parking is available along Irving Park Road. Side street parking is free. All street parking is free on Sundays. For more details visit windycityplayhouse/visit-irving-park.

Already on play: Teatro Vista’s 2022 “must listen” virtual productions

Teatro Vista’s first, original new audio play, The Fifth World by ensemble member Gabriel Ruiz, co-directed with Lorena Diaz, dropped in December, has hit 15,000 streams, and is still available for free download via teatrovista.orgApple Podcasts and Spotify.

Set in a small desert town in modern day Arizona, but rooted in Aztec mythology, The Fifth World is full of mystery, intrigue and the supernatural. It’s voiced by a nine-member, all-ensemble cast, the most ever in a Teatro Vista production,  crescripted.org called The Fifth World an “incredible work…a triumph in the realm of mystery/horror audio fiction. Tense, suspenseful, horrifying, gorgeous, and evocative…a must-listen.”  

Also newly released is Detective QTeatro Vista’s world premiere moving graphic novel, written and created by ensemble members Marvin Quijada and Gabriel Ruiz. Ten micro-episodes dropped over the first five days in May exclusively on  Instagram feed and YouTube feeds.

Film noir meets mime in Detective Q, a fast-action, funny, genre-defying digital episodic about the misadventures of an urban, animated private eye. Each chapter, like “Episode 2: How Not to Do a Stakeout'' and “Episode 3: How to Get Hit by a Car,” runs under a minute, combining comic adventure animation, live action, video, urban locales, and because it’s from Teatro Vista, an all-Latine cast. Already, Detective Q is gaining fans, attracting more than 2,500 views in the show’s first week alone. 

If you haven’t figured it out already, Brian "Somewhere Over the Border" Quijada and Marvin “Detective Q” Quijada are brothers, and they’re having quite a spring. Just as Teatro Vista is releasing Marvin’s new moving graphic novel on the digital stage, Brian’s world premiere musical about their mother, Somewhere Over the Border, is debuting live at Windy City Playhouse.
 
Still coming in 2022 is La Vuelta, a new digital experience commissioned by Teatro Vista, devised by its ensemble members, written by Isaac Gómez and directed by Monty Cole

Teatro Vista’s live and digital projects signal the company’s new direction under Co-Artistic Directors Lorena Diaz and Wendy Mateo: to propel the company and its ensemble to create a new definition of theater, both live and virtual, that centers its own members, encompasses many disciplines of art, genres and expression, and spurs new forms of storytelling. 

About Teatro Vista

Teatro Vista is Chicago’s largest, Equity-affiliated professional Latine theater company and one of the nation’s premier Latine arts organizations.The company’s primary focus is producing new works by Latine theater artists from its own ensemble, a group of multi-generational, multi-ethnic and multi-disciplinary artists. 

Teatro Vista ensemble members include Charín ÁlvarezMax ArciniegaDesmín BorgesCheryl Lynn BruceRamón CamínIvonne CollLaura DahlSandra DelgadoLiza FernándezKhanisha FosterCruz Gonzalez-CadelIsaac GómezRicardo GutiérrezErik JuárezJon LyonSandra MárquezEddie MartinezSalome MartinezJoe MinosoAyssette MuñozChristina NievesMarvin QuijadaTommy Rivera-VegaGabriel RuízNate SantanaCecilia Suarez and co-founder Edward Torres

In July, 2021, following a national search, Lorena Diaz and Wendy Mateowere appointed Co-Artistic Directors of Teatro Vista. 

Lorena Diaz (left) and Wendy Mateo, Co-Artistic Directors, Teatro Vista. 


“We are deeply energized by Teatro Vista and its ensemble, with its tapestry of talent, innovation and unique perspectives,” said Mateo. “There is a depth to the American Latine experience that has fueled our 20 years of storytelling and collaboration together. With this particular ensemble, we’ll be able to deepen that storytelling and bring in a kind of nuance and complexity to our stories that our audiences will be inspired by.”

Diaz added, “the opportunities in an ensemble-led theater company are many and Teatro Vista has an abundance of thought-provoking artists who are exploring different genres of creative expression, from writing for television, to audio plays with visual components, to full-fledged plays with music like Somewhere Over the Border. Expect that kind of excitement going forward.”

Teatro Vista’s Board of Directors includes Adela Cepeda, President, Joan Pantsios, Secretary, Julieta LaMalfa, Treasurer, and Rosa EscareñoKareem MohamednurCarina Sanchez and Jose Vasquez.

Teatro Vista is supported by Alphawood Foundation, the Arts Work FundPaul M. Angell Family FoundationThe Bayless FoundationChicago Community TrustChicago Cultural TreasuresChicago Filmmaker GrantCLATA (Chicago Latino Theater Alliance)DCASE (Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events)The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley FoundationIllinois Arts CouncilThe Joyce FoundationThe MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at the Richard H. Driehaus FoundationPritzker FoundationThe Shubert FoundationThe Shuttered Grant and the Tide-Venturous Foundation


Playwright/Director Biographies
Brian Quijada (playwright and composer) is an actor, playwright, and composer whose original work has been developed and produced all across the country. His hip hop solo show, Where Did We Sit on the Bus? has been produced at Victory Gardens, Geva Theatre (Emmy Nomination for digital stream), Teatro Vista (Jeff Award), Ensemble Studio Theatre (Drama Desk Nomination), Boise Contemporary, 1st Stage, City Theatre Pittsburgh, and a digital production at Actors Theatre of Louisville (Drama League Nomination). His play Kid Prince and Pablo premiered at The Kennedy Center in 2019. His plays have been developed at The Kennedy Center, Pittsburgh CLO’s Spark Festival, Victory Gardens’ Ignition Festival, New Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Festival and The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Musical Theatre Conference. Commissioning institutions include Hero Theatre, A.R.T., 1st Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Woolly Mammoth and The Kennedy Center. His song “The Always Song” was the 2021’s Hispanic Heritage Month Song for Nickelodeon. He is a two-time Jeff Award winner in Chicago and a two-time Drama Desk Nominee. Acting credits include Bobbie Clearly at Roundabout, Oedipus El Rey at The Public Theater, My Mañana Comes(original cast) at Playwrights Realm, How We Got On (original cast) and Airness (original cast) at Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival. TV credits include Blue BloodsManhattan Love Story and Search PartyQuijada is a member of The Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City. As an educator, he teaches solo performance at Harvard University. brianquijada.com 
Denise Yvette Serna (director) is an international theater practitioner raised in San Juan, Texas and Associate Artistic Director of Chicago’s Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. Chicago credits include 45 Plays for America’s First Ladies (The Neo-Futurists), Nine Lives of a Cat (MCA Chicago/Prop Thtr), La Ruta(Steppenwolf Theatre Company), HIR (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Cambodian Rock Band (Victory Gardens Theater), Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally (LTC Carnaval 2018), Earthquakes in London (Steep Theatre Company). International credits include L I M P I A: Nuestrxs Hechizos… (Global Hive Labs), and MEDUSA (Global Hive Labs, Fusion Theatre Company, La Compagnie Certes, Teatro Trieste Trentaquattro, Pop Magic Productions). deniseyvetteserna.com

Teatro Vista's world premiere musical Somewhere Over the Border by Brian Quijada, directed by Denise Yvette Serna, runs through June 12, 2022 at Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago

For tickets and information, visit  
or call (773) 281-8463 x6.

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