Showing posts with label 2018 season announced. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2018 season announced. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:


 The 2018 Season Includes:
Emmerich Kálmán’s operetta The Csárdás Princess (July 7 – 22),  
Forbidden Opera multi-media concert (October 18 and 21),
Franz Lehár’s Children’s Holiday Operetta Peter & Paul in the Land of Nod (December 2018)

 Attached image features lead actors in The Csárdás Princess
William Roberts (Boni), Emma Sorenson (Stasi), Lani Stait (Sylvia) and Jonathan Zeng (Edwin) 

Folks Operetta also announces The Korngold Initiative - A fundraising campaign to bring Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s rarely heard opera Die Kathrin (Kathrin) to Chicago for its American Premiere in 2019

Folks Operetta is proud to announce its 2018 season and a new fundraising campaign, The Korngold Initiative. All of these projects are part of their new Reclaimed Voices Series, which focuses on recovering and reviving the lost music of the Jewish composers of the Second World War. The series grew out of their research on operetta and the disproportionate numbers of Jewish composers who were silenced both before and after the Second World War. Jewish composers of opera suffered a similar fate. In a world where old prejudices resurface and where a new generation demagogues seeks to draw new lines of division and enmity, the stories of these composers take on a new urgency. Their works need to be heard, their stories told, and their memories restored.

This season includes the fully-staged Emmerich Kálmán masterpiece, The Csárdás Princess, July 7 – 22; a multi-media concert, Forbidden Opera, Friday, October 18 and 21 and for families celebrating the Holidays, Franz Lehár’s children’s operetta Peter & Paul in the Land of Nod, December. Specific details for each event are listed below. Tickets are on sale and available at

The 2018 Folks Operetta season includes:

The Csárdás Princess
July 7 – 22
Music by Emmerich Kálmán
Book by Leo Stein and Bela Jenbach
English translation by Hersh Glagov and Gerald Frantzen
Directed by Gerald Frantzen
Conducted by Mark Taylor
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Opening Night: Saturday, July 7 at 7:30 PM
Performance schedule: Fridays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $40 for adults, $35 for seniors (65 years and older) and $25 for students (with student ID)

Folks Operetta’s 2018 season kicks off with Emmerich Kálmán’s operetta The Csárdás Princess. Kálmán’s mastery of the Viennese waltz and of the music of his native Hungary have made this show an enduring favorite in Europe. The story follows the ups and downs of the unlikely love affair between an aspiring young singer from the provinces and the scion of a wealthy Viennese family. Kálmán, as an assimilated Hungarian Jew living in Vienna, would have been well aware of the pitfalls of navigating the upper echelons of Viennese society. The Csárdás Princess, which takes aim at the rigid class divisions of Kálmán’s time, resonates in our own. Critics consider The Csárdás Princess to be Kálmán’s masterpiece.

Written in 1915, the show played on Broadway under the title The Riviera Girl in 1917 – just as the U.S. was entering “The War to End All Wars.” Broadway would not prove to be the boon that Kálmán had been seeking as it ran for only 78 performances. P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, who were responsible for The Riviera Girl’s book and lyrics, admitted that the fault lay with them, not with Kálmán. Wodehouse later wrote that “the Kálmán score was not only the best that gifted Hungarian ever wrote, but about the best anybody ever wrote.” With America’s entry into the War, anti-German sentiment was high, precluding more performances of the show. It would not be performed again in this country until 1932, when it was given at the St. Louis Municipal Opera and warmly received.

The Second World War would take a tremendous toll on Kálmán. Although he managed to escape, first to France and then to America, many of his relatives died at the hands of the Nazis. Settling in California, Kálmán suffered the indignity of having his music declared “degenerate” by the Nazis while finding himself in a strange country with no prospect of work. He tried writing film scores, but the industry proved to be a hard fit. He died in 1953, leaving his last show Arizona Lady, an homage to his adopted country, unfinished. (Folks Operetta gave the U.S. premiere in 2010.)

The production team includes Conductor Mark Taylor, Director Gerald Frantzen, Set Designer Eric Luchen, Lighting Designer Erik Barry, Costume Designer Patti Roeder, and Technical Director Josh Prisching.

Forbidden Opera
Multi-media Concert Including Five Singers and a Small Chamber Orchestra
October 19 at 7:00 PM and October 21 at 2:00 PM
Directed by Gerald Frantzen
Written by Gerald Frantzen and Hersh Glagov
Piano and small chamber orchestra
Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie
Tickets: $35

As part of the Reclaimed Voices series, Folks Operetta takes a look at the composers of opera that time has forgotten. During the Third Reich Jewish composers, as well as any composers whose music did not suit the Nazis, were banned and labeled degenerate. Some Jewish composers such as Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullman, Hans Krasa, Erwin Schulhoff and Pavel Haas, would perish in the Holocaust. The more fortunate ones (Ernst Toch, Hans Gál, Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, Arnold Schoenberg, Egon Wellesz and Erich Wolfgang Korngold) would ply their craft in their newly adopted homelands. For all of these composers, whether they survived the war or not, the post war years inflicted a further indignity; there was no one to champion their music after the war.

The concert Forbidden Opera will feature the work of these composers and the stories of their lives. This multi-media event will feature five singers, a small chamber group, a narrator and video projections.

Peter & Paul in the Land of Nod
A Children’s Operetta Workshop
Music by Franz Lehár
The Nineteenth Century Club
Performance schedule: 3 shows
Tickets: $35, $30 for groups
Recommended for families and children ages 5 and older.

Folks Operetta brings back Franz Lehár’s Peter and Paul in the Land of Nod, as part of its Reclaimed Voices series. Boasting nine ballet numbers á la The Nutcracker, this magical show was the first operetta Lehár wrote following his success with The Merry Widow. The librettists were Fritz Grünbaum and Robert Bodanzky. Grünbaum, a popular actor and cabaret performer and satirist,  would meet a terrible fate at the hands of the Nazis in the Second World War.

This wonderfully human story with its message of hope and love is a poignant reminder of the loss of writers such as Grünbaum and their contributions to art and music. The company will present this wonderful show in a new production with an English translation in rhyming verse by Hersh Glagov and Gerald Frantzen.  Featuring performers from the  Chicago Symphony  Orchestra  Chorus, children from the Children’s Operetta Workshop, a 15-piece orchestra, and leading ballet  dancers from the Chicago area, this is a holiday show not to be missed.

The Korngold Initiative
The Korngold Initiative is a two-year fundraising campaign to bring Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s rarely-heard opera, Die Kathrin (Kathrin), to Chicago for its American premiere. The goal is to raise $150,000 to employ local singers, actors, musicians, artists and designers for a new production of the opera at the Athenaeum Theatre in 2019. Folks Operetta’s version will be faithful to Korngold’s original intention to set the show in occupied Germany following the First World War. In keeping with Folks Operetta’s mission to make shows accessible, we will translate the libretto and perform the opera in English.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was one of the most unjustly neglected composers of the twentieth century. A child prodigy, he was praised by Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss and considered by many to be the successor to Mozart and Beethoven. His father, the prominent Viennese music critic Julius Korngold, was careful to nurture his son’s remarkable talent, securing composition lessons for the boy with Alexander Zemlinsky. Erich Wolfgang Korngold already had a sizeable body of work to his credit when he burst onto the world stage with his opera, Die tote Stadt, in 1923, at the tender age of 19.

Die Kathrin was Korngold’s last opera. He began working on it in 1933, when he was engaged in re-orchestrating some of the classic operettas of Johann Strauss Jr. and Leo Fall. A first performance, scheduled for 1938 in Vienna, was cancelled. This opera by a Jewish composer, depicting a love story between a German woman and a French soldier in French-occupied Saarland, was destined to run afoul of Nazi censors. The opera received its European premiere in Sweden in 1939, where it was given an overtly harsh and anti-Semitic review. To make matters worse, Die Kathrin was almost lost forever when the Nazis broke into Korngold’s villa to destroy his work. Michael Haas, in his book, “Forbidden Music, “writes: “Weinberger [music publisher] employees broke into the cellar, recovered what was left of the manuscript, and returned it to Korngold by interleaving sheets between pages of Beethoven, Mozart, and other acceptably ‘Aryan’ composers and posting them to the composer in California.”

Die Kathrin was finally given its Viennese premiere in 1950, but ran for only eight performances. In 1997, the BBC Orchestra created a complete recording of the work.

Since then, the work has seldom been performed. Its music, however, is compelling and masterfully written. It deserves another look. Folks Operetta is uniquely suited to the task of reviving Korngold’s masterpiece.

Folks Operetta is a 501(c)(3) non-profit theater company devoted to the nurturing of live operetta through articulate and dynamic productions. In the belief that the arts serve to illuminate the human condition, Folks Operetta is dedicated to the revival and development of operetta, a popular and accessible form of music and theater for general audiences. In particular, the Folks Operetta concentrates on producing both Viennese and American operettas from the early 20th century. Our mission also includes recovering the lost operas of Jewish composers who suffered or perished during The Second World War.

Lois D. and Maurice Jerry Beznos, Mr. Jerry Critser, The Pauls Foundation, The Richard Driehaus Foundation, Northern Trust

Friday, February 16, 2018

SAVE THE DATES: 2018 Season Announced for Hell in a Handbag Productions

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Hell in a Handbag Productions Announces 2018 Season:

(left to right) AJ Wright, Ed Jones, Adrian Hadlock and David Cerda in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ 2017 production of THE GOLDEN GIRLS – THE LOST EPISODES, returning for Handbag’s 2018 season. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

Adapted by Ricky Graham and Running with Scissors
Directed by Stevie Love

THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2
By Artistic Director David Cerda
Directed by Becca Holloway

By Charles Ludlam
Directed by Shade Murray

THE GOLDEN GIRLS: Bea Afraid – The Halloween Edition
By David Cerda
Directed by Becca Holloway

Plus: a soon-to-be-announced Holiday Production!

Season Subscriptions Now On-Sale!

(pictured) Ed Jones in Hell in a Handbag Production’ 2013 production of L’IMITATION OF LIFE, returning for Handbag’s 2018 season. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to announce its 2018 season, kicking off this spring with a revival of its 2013 hit L’IMITATION OF LIFE, a dead on parody of the 1959 film Imitation of Life about race, mothers and daughters – and looking fabulous! Adapted by Ricky Graham and Running with Scissors and directed by ensemble member Stevie Love, ensemble member Ed Jones and Robert Williams reprise their roles as Lana Turner and Annie Johnson.

This summer, Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia return for THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2. Following last year’s sold-out, seven-month run, Handbag’s parody of the beloved TV sitcom is back with all new adventures written by Artistic Director David Cerda and directed by Becca Holloway. THE GOLDEN GIRLS will feature Chazie Bly, David Cerda, Adrian Hadlock, Ed Jones, Michael S. Miller and Grant Drager.

This fall, Handbag’s 16th season continues with Charles Ludlam’s comedic throwback to the age of film noir: THE ARTIFICIAL JUNGLE, directed by Shade Murray. The cast includes ensemble members David Cerda, Sydney Genco, Ed Jones and David Lipschutz 

For Halloween, Handbag conjures up a special treat: THE GOLDEN GIRLS: Bea Afraid! Our heroines return for seven spooky performances guaranteed to scare you out of your housecoat. 

The season will conclude with a soon-to-be-announced holiday production! 

Handbag’s 2018 Season will be staged at Mary’s Attic (5400 N. Clark St., Chicago) and Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago). Season subscriptions and single tickets will be available shortly at

Hell in a Handbag Productions’ 2018 Season includes:

(front to back) Robert Williams and Ed Jones in Hell in a Handbag Production’ 2013 production of L’IMITATION OF LIFE, returning for Handbag’s 2018 season. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

March 31 – May 6, 2018
By Ricky Graham and Running with Scissors
Directed by Stevie Love
Featuring ensemble member Ed Jones (Lana Turner) with Robert Williams (Annie Johnson). Additional casting to be announced.
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

In this hilarious parody of the1959 film Imitation of Life, Lana Turner is determined white widow and single mother with aspirations of becoming a Broadway sensation. When Lana meets Annie Johnson, a struggling single African-American mother, the two team up and take on the world as Lana does “whatever it takes” to make it in show business – while Annie takes care of the homestead and raises both daughters.

The two women face insurmountable challenges led by their daughters. There's the blonde, perky and “so white it's frightening" Suzie, daughter of Lana Turner, and the raven-haired rebellious light-skinned beauty,  Sara Jane, daughter of Annie. Sara Jane learns the hard truth about acceptance and the color of your skin- especially when she tries to “pass” as white. 

June 19 – September 7, 2018
THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2
By David Cerda
Directed by Becca Holloway
Featuring ensemble members Chazie Bly (Ensemble), David Cerda (Dorothy), Adrian Hadlock (Sophia), Ed Jones (Rose), Michael S. Miller (Ensemble) and Grant Drager (Blanche).
at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago

When Handbag opened THE GOLDEN GIRLS – THE LOST EPISODES in June 2017, it was supposed to be short summer treat for Handbag audiences but quickly turned into a sold-out, seven month run! Now, these lovely women from the classic TV sitcom return with new stories of friendship, love and cheesecake – all with the Handbag twist audiences have come to love!

September 20 – October 28, 2018
By Charles Ludlam
Directed by Shade Murray
Featuring ensemble members David Cerda (Mother Nurdiger), Sydney Genco (Roxanna), Ed Jones (Chester Nurdiger) and David Lipschutz (Zachary Slade). Additional casting to be announced.
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

THE ARTIFICIAL JUNGLE is Charles Ludlam’s last play and a perfect vehicle for Hell in a Handbag! Chester Nurdiger is a mild-mannered fellow who lives in the back of the pet shop he runs with his sultry wife Roxanna and his overly protective mother. Roxanna is bored to death, but when a handsome drifter walks into their lives, things get interesting… perhaps even deadly?! Part Double Indemnity, part The Postman Always Rings Twice, THE ARTIFICIAL JUNGLE is throwback to the classic age of film noir by the master and founder of the Ridiculous Theater movement. 

October 6, 2018 – November 3, 2018
The GOLDEN GIRLS: Bea Afraid – The Halloween Edition
By David Cerda
Directed by Becca Holloway
Featuring ensemble members Chazie Bly (Ensemble), David Cerda (Dorothy), Adrian Hadlock (Sophia), Ed Jones (Rose), Michael S. Miller (Ensemble) and Grant Drager (Blanche).
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

It’s not Halloween without a Handbag show, so Artistic Director David Cerda is conjuring up a special edition of its hit TV sitcom parody. Better get your tickets early – Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia are only back for seven wig-raising performances. Bea afraid, Bea very afraid!

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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

SEASON ANNOUNCED: Exciting Things are Afoot For Broken Nose Theatre

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:
Broken Nose Theatre Announces 
Full 2018 Line-Up:

World Premiere!
By Resident Playwright Michael Allen Harris
Directed by Kanome Jones

World Premiere!
By Sam Chanse
Directed by Company Member Jen Poulin

BNT’s Perennial Feminist Play Festival

World Premiere!
Written and Directed by Company Member Spenser Davis

New Residency at The Den Theatre

Broken Nose Theatre is pleased to announce a full line-up for 2018, featuring three world premiere productions for the Chicago stage – to be presented at its new resident home, The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. 

This spring, BNT presents the kitchen-sink comedy KINGDOM by resident playwright Michael Allen Harris, directed by Kanome Jones. The new play about an all-LGBTQ African American family in Orlando will feature BNT company member Johnard Washington and artistic associates Watson Swift and RjW Mays, and was originally developed through BNT’s The Paper Trail initiative.

Next summer, BNT presents the world premiere of Sam Chanse’s contemplative drama THE OPPORTUNITIES OF EXTINCTION, directed by company member Jen Poulin. The new play about exploring life and love in the face of the inevitable will feature BNT company member Echaka Agba and artistic associate Aria Szalai-Raymond.

Summer 2018 will also include BECHDEL FEST 6, BNT’s annual feminist festival, featuring a full slate of new short plays with all female-identifying casts. Playwrights, directors and casting will be announced in 2018.

Broken Nose closes the calendar year with the world premiere dark comedy PLAINCLOTHES, developed with much of the team behind BNT’s runaway 2017 hit At The Table. Written and directed by company member Spenser Davis, who helmed At The Table, the play examines biases and blind spots through the lens of a loss prevention team. PLAINCLOTHES will feature company members Echaka Agba, Elise Spoerlein, Johnard Washington and David Weiss – all of whom appeared in At The Table – along with company member Martin Hanna and artistic associates RjW Mays, Kim Boler, Adam Soule and Rob Koon, and will be developed by BNT and the ensemble.

In 2018, BNT will also provide institutional support to two outside playwrights through The Paper Trail – its new play development program. Next year’s plays include PEG by Liam Fitzgerald, about a couple who negotiate their kinks in anticipation of an impending shipment of sex toys; and EXPOSURE by Cynthia Hines, in which a former army photographer combats the ghosts of war that followed her home to the South Side of Chicago.

As it enters its sixth season, Broken Nose recently welcomed 13 new artists to its ranks. New company members include Echaka Agba, Rose Hamill, Martin Hanna and Johnard Washington and new artistic associates include Kim Boler, JD Caudill, Devon Green, Ada Grey, Rob Koon, RjW Mays, Adam Soule and Watson Swift.

“It’s been an exciting year for Broken Nose, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to spend the next one continuing to develop and produce timely new work, and to be able to work with so many talented BNT artists and collaborators. These world premieres range from Florida’s tourist capital to the desolation of the Mojave desert to downtown Chicago, yet despite their geography they remind us, sometimes warmly, sometimes starkly, of the things that matter most: love, human connection and survival.”

Tickets for all Broken Nose Theatre productions are available on a “pay-what-you-can” basis, allowing patrons to set their own price and ensuring theatre remains economically accessible for all audiences. Tickets for all productions will go on sale at a later date. For additional information, visit 

Broken Nose Theatre’s Full 2018 Line-Up Includes:

March 2 – March 31, 2018 
KINGDOM – World Premiere!
By BNT resident playwright Michael Allen Harris
Directed by Kanome Jones
Featuring BNT company member Johnard Washington and artistic associates Watson Swift and RjW Mays.

When the state of Florida legalizes same sex marriage, Arthur and Henry (his partner of fifty years) come to terms with their differing opinions on the necessity of becoming husbands, even as their son Alexander finds himself wading through some rough new waters of his own. KINGDOM is the story of an entirely-LGBTQ African American family that lives in the near-literal shadow of Orlando’s magical kingdom, as they struggle to create a life together that captures a little bit of that same magic.

KINGDOM was developed in conjunction with The Paper Trail, BNT’s new play development program.

June 2 – June 30, 2018
By Sam Chanse
Directed by BNT company member Jen Poulin
Featuring BNT company member Echaka Agba and artistic associate Aria Szalai-Raymond.

A couple flees to the Mojave Desert in the wake of a social media firestorm. A young woman obsessively studies the oncoming impact of climate change. As the world heats up, tensions rise and the political becomes indistinguishable from the environmental, these three find one another in the shadow of the endangered Joshua tree, wondering how long they have before everything falls apart. 

Summer 2018

BNT’s perennial favorite feminist festival returns! As with the last five iterations, BECHDEL FEST 6 will feature an all female-identifying cast performing new short plays written and directed by some of our favorite artists, and all passing the famous Bechdel Test. Created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the Bechdel Test asks whether a work of entertainment features at least two women in conversation about something other than a man. Playwrights, directors and casting to be announced in 2018.

October  20 – November 17, 2018
PLAINCLOTHES – World Premiere!
Written and directed by BNT company member Spenser Davis
Featuring BNT company members Echaka Agba, Elise Spoerlein, Martin Hanna, Johnard Washington and David Weiss and artistic associates RjW Mays, Kim Boler, Adam Soule and Rob Koon.

After an incident with a shoplifter ends with half their team either fired or in the hospital, the loss prevention department of a downtown Chicago retail store comes under harsh investigation from corporate. Their manager’s suggestion: “Start catching more white people. At least until they stop looking at the numbers.” When a group of supposed Good Guys have a blind spot that lands them on the chopping block, who holds themselves accountable and who decides to give the higher-ups a taste of the trenches? In the style of BNT’s 2017 hit At The Table, PLAINCLOTHES will be developed alongside its pre-cast ensemble.

Additional casting for the season will be announced at a later date.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Broken Nose Theatre’s 2018 playwrights and directors (left to right) Kanome Jones, Michael Allen Harris, Jen Poulin, Sam Chanse and Spenser Davis.

About the Artists
Michael Allen Harris (Playwright, Kingdom) As a writer, Michael has collaborated with Chicago Theatre companies such as Broken Nose Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, Arc Theatre, Stage 773, Fine Print Theatre, Chicago Home Theater Festival and The New Colony. His play Rocky Road received its world premiere at the New Studio Theatre of Columbia College Chicago and was directed by Chicago actor/playwright/director Tom Mula. It was the first production featured in the Main Stage season that was authored by an alumnus. His play The Velvet Tabernacle was featured in a development series on behalf of Fine Print Theatre. One of his most recent plays, Kingdom, was nourished in a season-long development on behalf of Broken Nose Theatre, and received a staged reading at the Richard Christiansen theatre space of Victory Gardens in June 2016. In the fall of 2017, his play Punk receive its world premiere on behalf of The New Colony, where he recently became an ensemble member. In December of 2016, Michael became the first Resident Playwright of Broken Nose Theatre. His other plays include Ascension. Short plays include: The Woman Who Stared into The Eyes of the Red Horseman, House of Samurai, They Let Him Bleed, Project Agatha (a collaboration project based on Regina Taylor’s play Stop. Reset.) and Bind. As an actor, he has worked with numerous Chicago theaters such as Adventure Stage, Eclipse Theatre, Gift Theatre, Teatro Vista, The-Massive, Stone Soup Theatre Project, Infusion Theatre, Broken Nose Theatre and Cold Basement Dramatics. He is an artistic ensemble member of Eclipse Theatre Company. Michael is currently pursuing his MFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Kanome Jones (Director, Kingdom) has been performing and working in Chicago for over five years. She works with several theater companies here in the city, wearing different hats for each one. She is the Casting Director for Strawdog Theatre Company and the Associate Producer for Midsommer Flight. She also works with Stage Left Theatre and Waltzing Mechanics as an ensemble member. In the past, Kanomé has worked with Broken Nose Theatre as a performer in their first Bechdel Fest and as a director in their second iteration. She has also directed an installment of EL Stories with the Waltzing Mechanics.  Other recent performance credits include Building the Wall and The Firestorm (Stage Left Theatre), understudy in The Book Club Play (16th Street Theatre) Twelfth Night (Midsommer Flight) and Titus Andronicus (Babes with Blades Theatre Company). She is proud alumni of the Professional Training Company at Actors Theatre of Louisville and BFA graduate of Missouri State University. 

Sam Chanse’s (Playwright, The Opportunities of Extinction) plays include The Opportunities of Extinction, The Other Instinct, Fruiting Bodies and Lydia’s Funeral Video. A former
Sundance/Ucross Playwright Fellow, MacDowell Fellow, Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow and Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Fellow at The Lark, she has also received residencies from Djerassi, Tofte Lake Center and SPACE at Ryder Farm. Her work has been recognized by The Kilroys, and commissions include Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan, Ma-Yi/the Flea, Second Generation, Leviathan Lab and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her first solo play, Lydia’s Funeral Video, is published by Kaya Press. She is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, and a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and Ars Nova’s Play Group. 

Jen Poulin (Director, The Opportunities of Extinction) is a Chicago based director and dramaturg, whose recent projects include The River Bride with Halcyon (dramaturg) and What of the Night? with Stage Left and Cor Theatre (assistant director). She previously served as Interim Grants Manager and Artistic Programs Apprentice at American Theater Company and Associate Artistic Director of BackStage Theatre Company. She has worn many hats since earning her Theatre Studies BFA from University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: educator, box office assistant, blood mopper, script mistress, stage and production manager, producer and performer. But her heart belongs to directing, especially new work. As a play reader, she’s worked with Stage Left Theatre, Artemisia Theatre and Kitchen Dog Theater. Her stage management and directing credits span many fine Chicago companies, including Adventure Stage Chicago, Strawdog Theatre Company, Steep Theatre Company, Mary Arrchie Theatre Company and WildClaw Theatre. She is also an Artistic Associate with No Stakes Theater Project.

Spenser Davis (Director/Playwright, Plainclothes) is a company member of Broken Nose Theatre, where he has directed From White Plains, A Phase, Bechdel Fest and At The Table, for which he received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Director – Play. It won three other Jeff Awards including Best Production, and was given a twice-extended summer remount. Other directing credits include Bachelorette at Level 11; FitzFest and Kafkapalooza at First Floor; numerous editions of the One Minute Play Festival; the forthcoming Lametown at The Factory Theater; as well as work with Strawdog, Otherworld, Mary-Arrchie and Pride Films and Plays. Assistant directing credits include Pilgrim’s Progress and 3C at A Red Orchid, as well as Divine Sister at Hell in a Handbag. As a playwright, he was a finalist for the Actor Theater of Louisville’s Heideman Award, and his first full-length play Merge, about the rise and fall of the video game company Atari, closed The New Colony’s eighth season. He is also an ensemble member of The Factory Theater and has worked around town as an actor. Plainclothes is his second play.

BROKEN NOSE THEATRE is Chicago’s premiere Pay-What-You-Can theatre company. Founded in 2012, BNT has produced and developed 10 full length plays (including 7 Chicago or World Premieres) and over 40 new womencentric short plays through our annual Bechdel Fest. We strive to spark conversation, cultivate empathy, and amplify underrepresented voices, and are committed to making new, exciting and relevant theatre that is economically accessible to all audiences. 
For more information, please visit

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Linda Fortunato, Artistic Director of Theatre at the Center (TATC), Northwest Indiana’s only professional theater company, has announced the mainstage titles for TATC’s 2018 Season.

Fortunato will direct three of the five productions, including Steel Magnolias, which will launch the 2018 season. Forever Plaid and The Lady with All the Answers are the spring and summer shows. In the fall, Fortunato will also direct Ghost The Musical, a stage adaptation of the 1990 Academy-Award winning film. Closing the 2018 season, she will direct and choreograph Meredith Willson’s Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical inspired by the 1947 classic film.

Steel Magnolias (February 22 – March 25, 2018) is a hilarious and heart-warming play set in a Louisiana beauty shop. It follows the hopes, dreams, triumphs and tragedies of six colorful characters and inspired the 1989 film which starred Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine and Dolly Parton. It’s a story exploring the bond between a mother and daughter, and friendships of those who feel like family.

Spring welcomes Forever Plaid (May 3 – June 3, 2018), one of the most popular and beloved of musical revues. “The Plaids” are a quirky quartet of high school chums in the spotlight for the biggest performance of their lives. Their spirited antics and comic banter weave together such hits as “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Heart and Soul” and “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” in this playful tribute to the close harmony of “guy groups” of the 1950’s.

An up-close and personal introduction to the real Ann Landers awaits audiences in The Lady with All the Answers (July 12 – August 12, 2018).  Popular advice columnist Ann Landers had a life which seemed letter-perfect. With more than 90 million readers each day, she had a quick wit which could be comical and creative, as well as sharp and shocking, all in the same sentence. The play unfolds in Landers’ Lakeshore Drive apartment in 1975 where she shares some of her most fascinating stories as she prepares to write the most difficult column of her career.

In the fall, Ghost The Musical (September 13 – October 14, 2018) is the musical adaptation of the 1990 Academy-Award winning film sharing the love story of Sam and Molly. After Sam’s untimely death, he tries to protect Molly from an unknown threat. In an attempt to communicate with her, he enlists the help of a storefront psychic to hilarious and harrowing effect. This tale about the power of love features a score by Grammy Award winning songwriters Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, and includes the classic “Unchained Melody.”

The holidays are celebrated with Meredith Willson’s Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical (November 15 – December 23, 2018), from the composer of The Music Man. Inspired by the beloved 1947 film, audiences will enjoy the gift of music and laughter. After Santa encounters a skeptical little girl during the season of sharing and caring, a message about the importance of believing is made clear to all. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” became famous as one the memorable songs in this joyous favorite for all ages.

“In choosing Theatre at the Center’s 2018 season, I wanted to create a blend of different styles to engage our audience,” Fortunato said.

“Through intimate plays, a beloved musical revue, a new musical, and a holiday classic, we will explore the bonds of friendship and family, of loves lost and found, and meet strangers who feel like family. I hope our audiences will laugh heartily, maybe cry a little, and enjoy some favorite music and songs as they join us for both familiar stories and new ones, as well.” 

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

Renewal for existing Season Subscriptions begins Aug. 20 and continues through Sept. 24, with sales for new Season Subscription patrons beginning Oct. 10. Individual tickets for any of the five mainstage shows of the new 2018 Season are on sale beginning Dec. 12.

Theatre at the Center mainstage show performances are 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 3:00 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays and select Thursday and Sunday evenings.  Individual ticket prices range from $42 - $46.  To purchase individual tickets, including the remaining shows of the 2017 Season, call the Box Office at 219-836-3255 or at 800-511-1552.   Group discounts are available for groups of 11 or more and gift certificates are also available. 

For more information about Theatre at the Center, visit

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:



Artistic director and co-founder Michael Patrick Thornton proudly announces The Gift Theatre's 2018 season will include: Stacy Amma Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by ensemble member Erica Weiss (February 9–April 8); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1–July 29); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Thornton (October 12–December 9).

The Gift Theatre also announces the addition of five artists to their ensemble: Evan Michael Lee, Chika Ike, Martel Manning, Gregory Fenner, and Hannah Toriumi. The ensemble is composed of actors, directors, writers and improvisers. For 16 years, The Gift Theatre has earned and deepened its reputation as an ensemble dedicated to acting of the highest caliber and a welcome home for new plays.

“Who are we? From the individual level to the national, we are in the midst of a vital articulation of Identity,” Thornton said. “We believe theatre can help orient and navigate people through a life which often contains multitudes of pain and struggle. And yet, the resolve to continue to struggle can define us; giving us, even, perhaps, in the act, a kind of grace. The 2018 Season lives under the aesthetical canopy of Absurdism, wherein characters who struggle to find meaning in life nevertheless continue to pursue meaning. Today, we are also deeply honored and excited to announce an enrichment of our ensemble. Evan, Chika, Martel, Gregory, and Hannah are artists of virtuosic talents with whom we have collaborated over the years in joy and awe. In short, we love them. They have each played a defining role in The Gift’s history and now, as ensemble members, our future.”

The now 37-member ensemble also includes: Danny Ahlfeld, Maggie Andersen, Cyd Blakewell, Brittany Burch, Hillary Clemens Harbor, John Kelly Connolly, Paul D’Addario, Jenny Connell Davis, Brendan Donaldson, Will Eno, James D. Farruggio, Ed Flynn, Gabriel Franken, John Gawlik, Andrew Hinderaker, Marti Lyons, Alexandra Main, Laura Marks, Kenny Mihlfried, Benjamin Montague, Darci Nalepa, Keith Neagle, William Nedved, Lynda Newton, Sheldon Patinkin (in loving memory), Maureen Payne-Hahner, David Rabe, Mary Ann Thebus, Michael Patrick Thornton, Erica Weiss, Jay Worthington and Kyle Zornes.

As usual, The Gift's year begins in January with TEN (January 5-14), the theater's annual celebration of world premiere ten-minute pieces by The Gift and guests, sponsored by Revolution Brewing.


February 9–April 8, 2018
HANG MAN (world premiere)
by Stacy Amma Osei-Kuffour, directed by ensemble member Erica Weiss
The community of a backwoods Southern town grapples with the murder of a Black man who is found hanging in a tree. As events unfold, the hanging mystifies the people of the community, forcing them to confront their complicity in this man’s horrific demise. Osei-Kuffour’s darkly comical, heartbreaking play, which recently made the prestigious 2017 Kilroy’s List, uses absurdity to explore racism, sexuality, and the parts of American history we would all like to forget.

June 1–July 29, 2018
HAMLET, by William Shakespeare, directed by Monty Cole
After the death of his dad, a young black man named Hamlet returns home to grieve and seek revenge. Fighting against the injustice of his father's murder and the powers that want him out of the picture, Hamlet quickly loses power and sanity. Directed by guest artist Monty Cole, The Gift's retelling of Shakespeare's great tragedy will crack open the mind of one of western drama's most fascinating and entertaining characters.

October 12–December 9, 2018
COSMOLOGIES (Midwest premiere)
by ensemble member David Rabe, directed by artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton
Put the whimsical humor of the Keystone Cops and Bugs Bunny into a particle collider with the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard  and George Berkeley and you’re getting close to the style of this existential absurdist comedy from David Rabe. When a young man’s negotiation for a date goes very wrong, we are transported through kaleidoscopic worlds of possibilities, identities, and loves. 

The Gift Theatre’s Annual Gala will take place on December 1, 2017 at The Copernicus Center; 4802, the new play development engine of The Gift, will present works in progress August 24, 25, and 26 of 2018.  

About The Gift Theatre
The Gift’s 16th season consists of three world premieres and kicked off in February with Mona Mansour’s war-torn drama Unseen, directed by ensemble member Maureen Payne-Hahner, followed by Claire Kiechel’s Pilgrims, co-directed by ensemble member Michael Patrick Thornton and guest artist Jessica Thebus (June 2-July 30). The season closes with Janine Nabers’ time-hopping love story A Swell in the Ground, directed by guest artist Chika Ike (October 13-December 10). 

Season subscriptions are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at or call 773-283-7071.

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