Showing posts with label 25th Anniversary Season. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 25th Anniversary Season. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 18, 2023


ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Artistic Director Fred Anzevino directs the Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht classic for Theo’s 25th Anniversary in tribute to the revues that were a part of the company’s founding cabaret years.

Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre announced today the cast and creative team for their upcoming production of The Threepenny Opera playing at Theo’s Howard Street Theatre March 10 through April 30, 2023. Arguably the pinnacle production of Theo’s 25th Anniversary season, the show reunites Artistic Director Fred Anzevino with Music Director Ryan Brewster, both of whom won back-to-back Jeff Awards for their collaboration on Theo’s Evita and Chess. Returning for her fourth production with Theo is Jeff Award-winning choreographer Jenna Schoppe as Associate Director/Choreographer (choreographer for Theo’s The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Godspell and Once Upon a Mattress.)

As a tip of the hat to the company’s 25th Anniversary season, this production of The Threepenny Opera honors the theatre’s founding history with Kurt Weill. Theo originally opened its doors at the No Exit Cafe in Rogers Park with A Kurt Weill Revue: Songs of Darkness and Light during the 2004-2005 season, marking the beginning of the working relationship with the Kurt Weill Foundation. Notably, the company later gained permission to create an original cabaret show featuring two sets of Weill music; the first act focusing on Weill's Berlin years and the second act featuring Weill's time and experiences in New York and on Broadway.

“The Threepenny Opera is the "mother" of all cabaret shows,” says Anzevino. “I'm excited to be revisiting this show primarily because it touches on many of the same issues that we, as a society, are dealing with today, particularly political corruption and the growing gap between the haves and have nots. This will be Theo's third Kurt Weill production - audiences have always been very enthusiastic with our attempts in re-imaging his work.”Audiences will yearn for more as the cast brings life to bold text and Weill’s sexy songs that have evolved into classic standards including “Mack the Knife,” which has been covered by everyone from Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra to Michael Buble.

The crooner cast welcomes the return of familiar Theo faces; Carl Herzog (he/him) in the role of Macheath, Megan Elk (they/she) playing Mrs. Peachum and Chamaya Moody (she/her) as Polly Peachum. Also returning to Theo is Nathe Rowbotham (they/them) as Lucy Brown and Liz Bollar (she/her) as Jenny. Making their Theo debuts are Thomas M. Shea (he/him) as Mr. Peachum, Michael Mejia (they/them) as Tiger Brown, Rusty Allen (he/him) as Filch along with Tyler DeLoatch (he/they), Isabel Garcia (they/them), Peter Stielstra (he/him) and Luiza Vitucci (she/her) in the Ensemble. Rounding out the cast are Danielle Kerr (she/her) and Larry D. Trice II (they/them) as Swings.

Howard Street Theatre will transform to the world of Macheath at the hands of scenic designer Mara Ishihara Zinky (she/her), lighting designer Maggie Fulliulove-Nugent (she/her), costume designer Cindy Moon (she/her), properties designer Lonnae Hickman (she/her), and sound designer Daniel Etti-Williams (they/he). The production team also includes production manager Matthew R. Chase (he/him), stage manager Caitlyn Birmingham (she/her), intimacy and violence director Charlie Baker (they/he), dialect coach Kathy Logelin (she/her), assistant music director Isabella Isherwood (she/her), technical director Manuel Ortiz, production electrician Josiah Croegaert (he/him) and audio engineer Isaac Mandel (he/him).

The Threepenny Opera is a "play with music" by Bertolt Brecht, adapted from a translation by Elisabeth Hauptmann of John Gay's 18th-century English ballad opera, The Beggar's Opera, and four ballads by François Villon, with music by Kurt Weill. 

Tickets can be purchased online at or via phone at 773-939-4101. Single tickets are $35 for preview performances, and range between $45-$55 during the regular run of performances. Box office hours are Wednesday-Sunday 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Theo continues to offer its one-stop dinner and theatrical experience with pre-show dinner courtesy of a local Evanston restaurant partner. All performances take place at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre located at 721 Howard Street in Evanston.

The Threepenny Opera

By Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill

In collaboration with: Elisabeth Hauptmann

Based on “The Beggar’s Opera,” by John Gay

English translation: by Marc Blitzstein

Director Fred Anzevino

Associate Director/Choreographer Jenna Schoppe

Music Director Ryan Brewster

Previews: March 10-18, 2023 (Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 6:00pm)

Run: March 23-April 30, 2023 (Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 6:00pm)

The Threepenny Opera is a biting satire of the post-war rise of capitalism, wrapped up in Kurt Weill’s jazzy score, and the tale of Macheath, a debonair crime lord on the verge of turning his illegal empire into a legitimate business. Songs from Threepenny have become classic standards, including “Pirate Jenny” and, most notably, “Mack the Knife,” which has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Michael Buble. Theo’s Artistic Director Fred Anzevino will direct this production for our 25th Anniversary Season, in honor of the many Kurt Weill revues that were part of the company’s founding years.


Theo Ubique was founded in 1997 by Artistic Director Fred Anzevino. Productions were first staged at the Heartland Studio Theatre, and from 2004 to May 2018, at No Exit Café, where the company began focusing on musicals and revues, reigniting the cabaret theatre trend in Chicago. The company moved to the Howard Street Theatre, a venue owned and developed for Theo Ubique by the City of Evanston, in fall of 2018. Theo Ubique has produced more than 60 shows and won 64 Jeff Awards, having received 154 nominations. The company also earned three After Dark Awards.

Monday, December 9, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Season includes the World Premieres of

The Tasters 
by Meghan Brown, directed by RTE member Devon de Mayo, Spay by Madison Fiedler, directed by RTE member Hallie Gordon
45 Plays for America’s First Ladies 
by Chloe Johnston, Sharon Greene, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Bilal Dardai, and Andy Bayiates in a co-production with Chicago’s The Neo-Futurists

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble proudly announces its 2020 Season including the World Premieres of The Tasters by Meghan Brown, directed by RTE member Devon de Mayo and Spay by Madison Fiedler and directed by RTE member Hallie Gordon, as well as 45 Plays for America’s First Ladies by Chloe Johnston, Sharon Greene, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Bilal Dardai, and Andy Bayiates, in a co-production with Chicago’s The Neo-Futurists. All productions will be performed at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago.

This year, Rivendell celebrates its 25th anniversary season during what may be the most important and divisive election cycle in U.S. history. To mark the occasion, Rivendell has selected three plays that wrestle with some of the key issues driving this nation’s discourse: the rise of authoritarianism, the chaos and challenge of the opioid crisis, and the rising role of women in our political and social culture

Founder and Artistic Director Tara Mallen comments, “We can trace a straight line from WRENS, to The Walls, to Women at War, through Scientific Method and all the way to Something Clean. 25 years of new plays inspiring imperative conversations that spark change. Plays that lift up women and offer them a voice...a female service member returning home after a lengthy deployment, only to have her young daughter no longer recognize her; or a young woman battling to finish her PhD and stay afloat in a sexist and racist research lab, or how, in the ripple effects of a sex crime, one mother grapples with the pervasiveness of guilt and tries to rebuild her world. As we approach what may be the most critical election in U.S. history, Rivendell is committed to meeting the future head-on and with 2020 vision—as we have for the past 25 years—with ingenuity, with resolve, and with women right up front and center." 

The Rivendell 2020 Season is as follows:

The World Premiere of

Written by Meghan Brown 
Directed by RTE member Devon de Mayo 

Featuring ensemble members Paula Ramirez and Eric Slater with Shariba Rivers, Daniella Pereira, and Collin Quinn Rice

January 10 - February 16, 2020

With so many government leaders getting poisoned these days, the Tasters have a critical job to do. They sample mouthwatering gourmet meals…then wait to see if they die in agony. When government forces capture renowned resistance leader Elyse, they make her a Taster and assume they've won. But Elyse has a plan of her own, which kicks off a series of events that might just alter the course of history—and put all the other Tasters' lives at risk. Fresh out of Victory Garden’s 2019 IGNITION Festival, Meghan Brown’s chilling and sharply observed new play examines the nuances of political resistance, self-interest, and individual action that creates hope in the face of oppression. 

The World Premiere of

Written by Madison Fiedler 
Directed by RTE member Hallie Gordon featuring RTE member Rae Gray

April 23 – June 7, 2020

Twenty-year-old Noah has been an addict ever since the birth of her son five years ago when her half-sister, Harper, assumed custody of the child. When an organization shows up in their tiny West Virginia town offering to sterilize Noah and other addicts for pay, the sisters clash over the question of who deserves to be a mother in a nation hooked on pills. This provocative world premiere by recent Northwestern grad Madison Fiedler takes an unblinking look at addiction, poverty, and the families our system has failed. Selected from a field of over 150 new plays, SPAY is one of the six new plays featured in the National New Play Network's Annual Showcase of New Plays this December in Atlanta, Georgia.

45 Plays for America’s First Ladies
by Chloe Johnston, Sharon Greene, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Bilal Dardai, and Andy Bayiates

In a co-production with Chicago’s The Neo-Futurists

September 24 - October 31, 2020 

Forty-five plays. Fifty First Ladies. A 100-minute journey through American history, 45 Plays for America’s First Ladies leaps from comedy to tragedy and back again as it surveys the lives of the women who have served (and avoided serving) as First Lady. 45 Plays is a biographical, meta-theatrical, genre-bending ride through race, gender, and everything else your history teacher never taught you about the founding (and the confounding) of America.

Following the enormous success of 45 Plays for 45 Presidents, members of the Neo-Futurists ensemble bring their trademark wit and style to tell the other side of the story. They'll partner with Chicago's premiere women's company, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, where women's lives and perspectives have always been the main event. 

April 1 - 12, 2020

Curated by new RTE member Kristen Osborn, this festival of solo voices features thee one-woman performance pieces. Projects will be announced in February 2020. 

Subscription Packages

Subscription packages may be purchased at any time and include one ticket to the next three Rivendell mainstage productions. The Preview Pass is priced at $59 and the Performance Pass is $80. Benefits include: no-fee ticket exchange up to 48 hours prior to the performance, reserved seating, exclusive invites to Rivendell events, and a 10% discount for additional family and friends tickets purchased through the box office.

Single Tickets
General Admission
Previews: $28
Regular Run: $38

Student, Senior, Active Military, Veteran
Preview: $18
Regular Run: $28

Pay What You Can: Five seats (10% of the house) are available for each performance. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis.

Location: Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago.

Box Office: (773) 334-7728 or

Parking and Transportation: Free parking is available in the Senn High School parking lot (located a block and a half from the theatre behind the school off Thorndale Avenue). There is limited paid and free street parking in the area. The theatre is easily accessible via the Clark (#22) or Broadway (#36) bus, and is a short walk from the Bryn Mawr Red Line El Station.

About Rivendell Theatre Ensemble 

Founded in 1994, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble advances the lives of women through theatre. Rivendell cultivates the talents of women artists—writers, actors, directors, designers and technicians—by seeking out innovative plays that explore unique female experiences and producing them in an intimate salon environment. 

Rivendell fills an important role in the Chicago region as the only Equity theatre dedicated to producing artistically challenging and original plays created by and about women. After years of being an itinerant company, Rivendell moved into its own theater space in 2011 in Edgewater. The company is focused on becoming an integral community partner and serving as a catalyst to engage audiences in a discussion of local social issues. 

For more information about Rivendell Theater Ensemble, visit Follow Rivendell on Facebook at, on Twitter @RivendellThtr, and on Instagram at rivendelltheatre. 

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is supported by generous grants from: The Alphawood Foundation;   Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; The Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development; The Chicago Community Trust; The Chicago Foundation for Women; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; The League of Chicago Theatres and ComEd; The Reva and David Logan Foundation; The Luria Family Foundation; The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust; The Alfred Pick Jr. Fund; Shubert Foundation; SIF Fund at The Chicago Community Trust; Cultural Outreach Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events; and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.  

Thursday, October 17, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar



Winner of the Best Musical Tony Award and Based on the Billy Wilder Academy Award-Winning Film, Sunset Boulevard Features Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics and Book by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, Direction by Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Director Michael Weber, Choreography by Shanna VanDerwerker and 
Music Directed by Aaron Benham

Guest Review
by Catherine Hellmann

“I AM BIG! It’s the pictures that got small,” declares Norma Desmond, 

Playing an icon from Sunset Boulevard takes a singer of tremendous stature with serious acting chops. Luckily, there is Hollis Resnick. She is mesmerizing in this role as the delusional, larger-than-life, fascinating, and narcissistic silent-film-star-turned-recluse who dreams of returning to her former glory in movies.

From her initial entrance down the staircase of her eerie mansion to her final audition as Salome for her imagined comeback, it’s hard to take your eyes off Ms. Resnick. She is dramatic without being a caricature. Bill Morey’s costumes are just wonderful; I liked seeing what Norma, the aging diva, would be wearing next. 

Norma’s biggest (only?) fan and devoted butler Max von Mayerling is played beautifully by Larry Adams. His reserved demeanor was perfect for Max, and his singing was exquisite.  


Billy Rude does a fine job as struggling writer Joe Gillis who becomes Norma’s editor/lover/boy toy/kept man. The scene where Joe is treated to a new, expensive wardrobe at Norma’s expense was one of my favorites. (“What is this? Mink?” asks his pal later at a party when he takes Joe’s coat.) 

Joe’s writing partner (and eventual love interest) Betty Schaefer is played by the charming Michelle Lauto who has a lovely voice and stage presence. She may not be able to offer Joe gold, engraved cigarette cases, but she is persistent in advocating for his writing career.  

I loved the little inside jokes, like the lyric that “Billy Wilder will know my name,” from the wanna-be actors in Hollywood (Billy Wilder was the writer and director of the original movie) and William Holden’s picture on one of the many projected movie posters (handsome Holden, one of my Hollywood crushes, was the original Joe Gillis.)  All of the projected images constantly remind us of the film noir genre of old Hollywood glam. When Norma visits the movie set to chat with DeMille about her script, a boom microphone is over her head momentarily; Norma pushes it away with disgust, a nice touch to show her disdain for “talkies.”  

Several years ago, my Theater Camp Pal Mary and I saw Sunday in the Park with George because we had never seen that classic before. “That was Porchlight, too,” Mary observed. “They have really hit their stride.” We were enthralled with Porchlight’s End of the Rainbow and Side Show. It’s exciting to have musicals of this caliber being produced in Chicago. Mary had seen Sunset Boulevard in London twenty years ago. But she liked Porchlight’s version better because of the intimacy of the theater space and the performers.  Porchlight is ready to celebrate their 25th anniversary and ready for their “close-up with Mr. DeMille.” 

Sunset Boulevard’s run has already been extended. It’s one of those shows that will go into Chicago theater history. You won’t want to miss it. 

Catherine Hellmann is a long time teacher and theater junkie. One of her absolute favorite movies of all time is Sunset Boulevard. 

Porchlight Music Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Mainstage season launches with 
Sunset Boulevard, 
at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 
1016 N. Dearborn Street. 

Featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics and books by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, Sunset Boulevard stars Hollis Resnik and is directed by Michael Weber, choreographed by Shanna VanDerwerker and music directed by Aaron Benham. 

The regular run performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. with weekday matinees on Thursday, Oct. 24 and Nov. 14 at 1:30 p.m. and an added performance Sunday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m. 

Tickets are $39 - $66 and are available at or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office, 773.777.9884.

The first musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber to be produced at Porchlight, and winner of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of Musicals, this landmark work has electrified audiences around the world. In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond (Hollis Resnik), lives in a fantasy world. When impoverished screenwriter Joe Gillis (Billy Rude) on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her reclusive domain he is persuaded to work on Norma’s “masterpiece,” a screenplay that she believes will put her back in front of cameras. Seduced by Norma and her luxurious lifestyle, he finds himself trapped in her clutches until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free with shattering consequences. 

Based on the iconic Billy Wilder film, Sunset Boulevard, the musical, has a long and storied history of its own with productions and revivals around the world starring Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Diahann Carroll, Petula Clark and others. The production also features a rich score including the hit songs “With One Look” and “As if We Never Said Goodbye.” 

The principal cast of Porchlight Music Theatre’s Sunset Boulevard includes: Billy Rude as “Joe Gillis;” Michelle Lauto as “Betty Schaefer;” Larry Adams as “Max Von Meyerling;” Joe Giovannetti as “Artie Green” and David Girolmo as “Cecil B. DeMille.” The ensemble includes Anna Brockman, Marcellus Burt, Justin Cavazos, Shane Roberie, Laz Estrada, Brian Healey, Alex Jackson, Molly Kral, Jerry Miller, Mandy Modic, Michelle Owens, Danny Spagnuolo, Laura Sportello and Ambria Sylvain. 

Sunset Boulevard’s production team includes: Michael Weber, director; Shanna VanDerwerker, choreographer; Aaron Benham, music director; Kevin Barthel, wig design; Anthony Churchill, projection design; Maggie Fullilove-Nugent, lighting design; Robert Hornbostel, sound design; Jeff Kmiec, set design; Bill Morey, costume design and Michael Hendricks, stage manager.

Returning to Porchlight Music Theatre where she was last seen in the Porchlight Revisits production of The Rink, Hollis Resnik is the recipient of 12 Joseph Jefferson Awards, 2 Sarah Siddons Awards, the Helen Hayes Award and was a 2012 recipient of the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship at Ten Chimneys. Her Chicago theatre credits include One Man, Two Guvnors, The Little Foxes, Travesties, Angels in America, Man of La Mancha, The Cherry Orchard, The Learned Ladies, Titus Andronicus, The Good Book and Carousel (Court Theatre); Grey Gardens and You Can’t Take It with You (Northlight Theatre); Candide, A Little Night Music, Wings, and The House of Martin Guerre (Goodman Theatre); Mame, Anything Goes, Into the Woods, Hairspray (Marriott Lincolnshire); and as “The Beggar Woman” in Sweeney Todd (Ravinia Festival). National tours include Les Misérables, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Sister Act. 

Making his Porchlight Music Theatre Mainstage debut, Billy Rude appeared in the Porchlight Revisits production of They’re Playing Our Song. Recent credits include the National Tour of Million Dollar Quartet as “Jerry Lee Lewis,” a role he has played numerous times regionally at PCPA, Laguna Playhouse, Little Theatre on The Square and Maples Repertory Theatre, Beauty and the Beast (Drury Lane), Murder for Two (Marriott Theatre), Altar Boyz (Theo Ubique) and The Civility of Albert Cashier (Stage 773).  

Michelle Lauto returns to the Porchlight stage were she has appeared in In The Heights and the Porchlight Revisits production of 1776. Lauto is a Jeff Award-winning actor and Porchlight Music Theatre’s education associate. Performance credits include Seussical the Musical, Oklahoma! and Ragtime (Marriott Theatre), HAIR (Mercury Theater), Spamilton (The Royal George, Jeff Award-Best Actress in a Revue), Xanadu (American Theater Co.), 35mm (Circle Theatre), The Boy From Oz (Jeff Nominated-Best Supporting Actress; Pride Films & Plays) and Murder Ballad (Bailiwick Chicago).

ABOUT LARRY ADAMS, “Max Von Meyerling”
Making his Porchlight Music Theatre Mainstage debut, Larry Adams has worked with many of Chicago's leading theatre companies, including: The Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Drury Lane, The Paramount Theatre, The Marriott Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Light Opera Works and Victory Gardens Theatre. Broadway credits include The Phantom of the Opera. Off Broadway credits include The Hunchback Variations and Photo Op.  National Tours credits include Scrooge. Regional credits include the title role in Sweeney Todd (Fulton Theatre). 

David Girolmo returns to Porchlight where he appeared in Candide, played the title role in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and, most recently, in the Porchlight Revisits production of Can-Can. Broadway credits include Candide, directed by Hal Prince, and War Paint. Regionally, he has appeared at The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Drury Lane, Marriott Theatre, Northlight, Paramount Theatre, Ravinia, Fulton Theatre, Maine State Music Theatre and more. Film and TV credits include “Crisis,” “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Fire, E.R.” and “Death Of A President,” on NBC and “Empire,” on FOX.

ABOUT MICHAEL WEBER, director / artistic director
Michael Weber is the artistic director of Porchlight Music Theatre where, under his leadership, the company has received the Best Production Equity Jeff Award for five consecutive years. He previously served as artistic director for the inaugural season of Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place (now The Broadway Playhouse) and at Theatre at the Center (1998 – 2004). Most recently at Porchlight he directed Gypsy starring E. Faye Butler and the Porchlight Revisits production of 1776 and he appeared on stage in  Porchlight Revisits Do Re Mi. His productions of End of the Rainbow, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Pal Joey, Assassins and Side Show at Porchlight Music Theatre, Grand Hotel at Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place and She Loves Me at Theatre at the Center were each nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. Weber is proud to serve as a Public Television pledge host on WTTW, Channel 11. 

ABOUT AARON BENHAM, music director
Aaron Benham returns to Porchlight where he music directed the Mainstage productions of Merrily We Roll Along and Side Show and the Porchlight Revisits production of City of Angels.  Most recently Benham served as the associate music director on the Broadway National Tour of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical and as music director of The Book of Merman Off-Broadway. Chicago credits include Grand Hotel and Sweet Smell of Success (Kokandy); Marie Christine (BoHo); Bewildered (original score –Hell in a Handbag); Pumpboys and Dinettes (Timberlake Playhouse); Benham has won two Jeff Awards and additional local credits include work with About Face, ATC, Bailiwick Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater, Circle, Montana Shakespeare, Piven, Pride Films, Second City, Theo-Ubique and Writers Theatre. 

Shanna VanDerwerker is an inaugural recipient of The Rachel Rockwell Memorial Fund supporting fierce women behind the table at Porchlight Music Theatre and recently choreographed Porchlight Revisits Can-Can. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Point Park University and is a Chicago-area choreographer and educator. Locally, she has been the associate choreographer of Pippin at Venus Cabaret Theater as well as Beauty and the Beast and Joseph at Drury Lane Oakbrook. VanDerwerker received a Jeff Nomination for her choreography on Lysistrata Jones for Refuge Theater Project. Other choreography credits include: My Fair Lady, Newsies, 42nd St, South Pacific, Beauty and the Beast and Singin’ In The Rain at The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, WI. She was Christopher Gattelli’s associate for over 10 years, working on Broadway’s Amazing Grace, High Fidelity, and Silence! The Musical at the NY Fringe Festival. In the summer of 2018 she set his Tony-winning Broadway choreography of Newsies at NewArts in Newtown, CT. Performing credits: Beauty and the Beast at Drury Lane, “Lady in Green” in Singin’ in the Rain at the Fireside Theatre, swing in the Broadway company of Wicked, dance captain of the 1st National Tour of Wicked, company member of with directors Andrew Palermo and Taye Diggs and several other shows at The Fireside. 

Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to be part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. Home to a community of creators, risk-takers and big hearts, Chicago theatre is a hotbed for exciting new work and hundreds of world premieres every year. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s always a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres. 

Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to be a member of the vibrant Ruth Page Center for the Arts community and an Artist In-Residence. Central to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts’ programming is the Artists In-Residence program, which is designed to serve organizations looking for a home base while they grow or expand their artistic and organizational capabilities. The Center is committed to nurturing and assisting dance and other performing artists, allowing for exchange and collaborative relationships to develop within the artistic community. The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is a destination for quality performing arts, accessible to a wide community regardless of race, gender, age, education or disability. An incubator of artistic energy and excellence, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts carries forward the vision of its founder, legendary dance icon Ruth Page, to be a platform for developing great artists and connecting them with audiences and community.

As the home for music theatre in Chicago now in its 25th season, Porchlight Music Theatre is nationally recognized for reimagining classic productions, developing new works and showcasing musical theatre’s noted Chicago veterans and rising stars. Porchlight elevates the genre by providing intimate and powerful theatrical experiences of music theatre through the lens of the “Chicago Style.” The 2017–2018 year marked a milestone for Porchlight as the company became an Artist In-Residence at the historic Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Porchlight’s rich history includes the staging of more than 70 productions with 15 Chicago premieres and five world premieres. Through Porchlight’s “Off the Porch” new works program, the musicals of the next generation are developed and given a first audience. The School at Porchlight is Chicago’s center for music theatre training in the areas of performance, writing and appreciation including the launch of a youth summer “Make Your Own Musical” Camp in 2017. The company’s many accolades include 28 Black Theatre Alliance nominations and 12 awards, as well as a total of 150 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 42 Jeff Awards including five consecutive Best Production awards for The Scottsboro Boys (2017), Dreamgirls (2016), Sondheim on Sondheim (2015), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2014) and A Class Act (2013).

Ms. Resnik's performance is sponsored by Virginia and Gary Gerst.  

Special thanks to June Golin for production support.

The 2019 – 2020 25th Anniversary Season is dedicated to the memory of long-time Board Member George K. “Kim” Sargent. 

Porchlight Music Theatre is partially supported by generous contributions from the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation, Actors’ Equity Foundation, Allstate, Bayless Family Foundation, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Chapman | Spingola, Attorneys at Law, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Elegant Event Lighting, Elevate Energy, James P. and Brenda S. Grusecki Family Foundation, Harris Family Foundation, Hearty Boys, Hopsmith, A.L. and Jennie L. Luria Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Prince Foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, Daniel and Genevieve Ratner Foundation, The Saints, the Stuart Family Foundation, and the Topfer Family Foundation. The season program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency, and by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

PHOTO RECAP: YAKUZA Chicago Sax Metal Favorites Play Empty Bottle 25th Anniversary Show 12/22/17

It was our great pleasure to catch YAKUZA in concert once again on December 22, 2017. Of course it's fitting they would be in on The Empty Bottle's year long 25th Anniversary Concert Series #EB25, as Yakuza's Vocalist and saxophonist Bruce Lamont is also a longtime fixture behind the bar at EB. 

It was especially sweet to hear Helen Money, “A classical-cellist-turned-avant-metal virtuoso", sit in with them!

Yakuza has been a favorite of mine for years, ever since another Bruce, former priest turned bartender/musician, Bruce (Neal) turned me on to the band when we worked at Facets Multimedia together. 

I was bemoaning the lack of a "Pandora-like" setting that could find bands by weird genre key words like (my actual quote) "heavy metal sax"... when Bruce N. laughed and said, do you know Yakuza? I'd already photographed another of Lamont's bands, Led Zeppelin cover band, LZ2, but hadn't heard of Yakuza at the time. They may never gain huge commercial success, but they have a fervent following and we catch them live every chance we can. They're dissonant, loud, haunting and unlike any other metal band I've experienced. It may be an acquired taste for more traditional headbangers, but theirs is a compelling sound I can't get enough of.

Check out my full set of YAKUZA live show shots in the slide show here and more favorites embedded below. 

I'm also including a sweet video of their whole show from that night via Wwatchthemwatchyou's YouTube Channel:

In another odd coincidence, I had a talk with the guy taping the show, and we discovered we were both frequent tapers at Dead Shows "back in the day". Just goes to show, a passion for live music transcends genres. Crank this one up! 

Via Empty Bottle:
Chicago’s YAKUZA is no stranger to the Empty Bottle stage. Well-known throughout the Chicago metal scene for incorporating jazz and world music elements, they’re basically a genre of their own. Vocalist and saxophonist BRUCE LAMONT notes influencers ranging from PINK FLOYD to GEORGE ORWELL and Ethiopian music. 

Formed in 1999, their debut album Amount to Nothing received critical acclaim from the likes of Terrorizer and Chicago Sun Times. They’ve released a boatload of boundary-crushing albums since and are still rocking as wildly as ever. The four-piece has long shown proclivities for music beyond metal and it's their willingness to incorporate these many and varied influences that sets them apart from their peers, continually pushing the envelope with an adventurousness and experimentation we've come to expect. YAKUZA has carved an unchallenged niche in the metal genre and we’re are excited to have them back for our unforgettable #EB25 anniversary series.

Other Musicians That Night:
Click the links for our photo features.

ALISON CHESLEY aka HELEN MONEY is a cellist who has become known for her adventurous sound, bold compositions, and compelling stage performance. Called “A classical-cellist-turned-avant-metal virtuoso" by the Boston Phoenix, CHESLEY channels her sensibilities and experience as a rock musician through a classical instrument, altering both genres without apology. She has played on over 150 albums with artists such as Disturbed, Bob Mould, Mono, Anthrax, Broken Social Scene, Russian Circles, and Archer Prewitt among others.

Support tonight comes from the one and only SANFORD PARKER. These days, if it’s metal and recorded in Chicago, chances are SANFORD PARKER was at the mixing board. His own bands, MINSK and BURIED AT SEA are super killer as well. We’re honored to witness a master at this craft this evening. Pay close attention and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two!

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


**not suitable for children**

Company Member Mike Ooi Writes and Directs the Production that Delves Behind the Scenes into What Happens to the Land Frequented by a Popular Children’s TV Show Host When He’s Not There

The Factory Theater presents the first production of its 25th anniversary season, the world premiere of Captain Steve’s Caring Kingdom, playing at the Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St., October 27 – December 9. The new play is both written and directed by Company Member Mike Ooi. Previews are Friday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. Opening night is Friday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. The regular run, November 3 – December 9, is Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for previews, $18 for students and seniors and $25 for general admission. 

Tickets may be purchased through the Box Office by calling 866.811.4111 or by visiting

Everyone is familiar with the host of a children’s show visiting a land filled with talking animals and puppets. What happens when the host isn’t around? Do the animals also go to jobs they hate? Are they struggling to save their relationships? Do they have issues they can’t seem to fix? The Factory Theater takes a glimpse into the lives of the residents of Captain Steve’s caring kingdom, in a new story not suitable for children.

The cast for Captain Steve’s Caring Kingdom includes: Christy Arington (Shakes and Frankie), Jennifer Betancourt (Meowser and Ronnie), Greg Caldwell (Dr. Stork), Blake Dalzin (Squeals), Brittany Ellis (Ellie Phant), Chris Hainsworth (Beaky), Dan Krall (The Fattie/Donnie), Topher Leon (Busby), Scott OKen (OK Bear), Michael Reyes (Turv the Perv), Sarah Scanlon (Allamis Morrison), Christopher M. Walsh (Mookie/The King) and Rebecca Wolfe (Nellie Phant/Grimby).

Understudies include Phil Claudnic, Morgan Gire, Lydie Hiller, (U/S Allamis, Shakes/Frankie, Meowser/Ronnie), Brian Kulaga, Andrew Rodriguez (Dr. Stork, Busby), Allie Romano (Ellie Phant), Anthony Tournis (Beaky) and Ashley Yates (The Fattie/Donnie).

The production team for Captain Steve’s Caring Kingdom includes: Mike Ooi, director and playwright; Mandy Walsh, assistant director; Jeremy Hollis, scenic designer; Meghan Erxleben, lighting designer; Rachel Sypniewski, costume designer; Gary Nocco, co-costume designer; Caleb Awe, assistant costume designer; Chas Vrba, sound designer; Ann Sonneville, prop designer; Jill Frederickson, puppet designer; R&D Choreography: Rick Gilbert and Victor Bayona, violence design; Monica M. Brown, stage manager and Timothy C. Amos, production manager.

About Mike Ooi, playwright and director

For the Factory, Ooi directed Street Justice:Condition Red (2013) and wrote Dating & Dragons (2016). Ooi has also worked as an actor, stage manager, and in other aspects for Lifeline Theatre, AdventureStage, ETD, Strawdog, The House Theatre of Chicago, and The Hypocrites. TV credits include NBC’s Chicago Fire. He is a proud company member of the Factory Theater and is represented by Paonessa Talent.

About The Factory Theater
For almost 25 years, The Factory has created its shows from scratch, doing exactly the kind of theater they wanted to do. From writing workshops to the closing night bash, Factory shows are a unique experience that fits its exacting standards: original, bold, and full-tilt. Its shameless ensemble is ambassadors of a good time, making certain that Chicago remains heartily entertained.

The Factory Theater presents the first production of its 25th anniversary season, the world premiere of Captain Steve’s Caring Kingdom, playing at the Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St., October 27 – December 9. The new play is both written and directed by Company Member Mike Ooi. Previews are Friday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. Opening night is Friday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. The regular run, November 3 – December 9, is Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for previews, $18 for students and seniors and $25 for general admission. Tickets may be purchased through the Box Office by calling 866.811.4111 or by visiting 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

OPENING: Teatro Vista Presents the World Premiere of The Wolf at The End of The Block at Victory Gardens

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

JANUARY 28-MARCH 5, 2017

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we've thoroughly enjoyed Ike Holter's works so far, and his unique vision, so we're eager to check out this world premiere. We will be out for the press opening, so check back soon for our full review.

Chicago. Fall. One night, a boarded up bar on the dark side of the block becomes a terrifying crime scene. 
In the next 48 hours, the neighborhood digs deep 
into escalating mystery, working against time to separate fact from fiction. 
But as the clock ticks down, the clues spiral into a razor sharp jigsaw, 
and what began as a simple mystery 
quickly twists into a personal, pointed and political thriller.  

That's the highly charged set-up for the newest work by acclaimed Chicago playwright Ike Holter, author of such contemporary hits as Hit the WallExit Strategy and Sender.
Teatro Vista, Chicago's leading Latinx professional company, commissioned The Wolf at The End of The Block, and will present its world premiere January 28 through March 5, 2017 at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater. 

Teatro Vista Ensemble members Sandra Márquez and Gabriel Ruíz, along with Bear Bellinger, James D. Farruggio and Ayssette Muñoz will star in Holter's in-the-moment exploration of racial profiling, media manipulation and family relationships. 

Ricardo Gutiérrez, Teatro Vista Executive Artistic Director and director of The Wolf at The End of The Block, says "get ready for a riveting new, full-length play from one of Chicago's hottest young playwrights The story is set in Chicago and has five characters, three of which are Latino. Holter's play is brutally raw, funny and deftly pierces universal truths."

The production team for The Wolf at The End of The Block includes Milo Bue (set), Uriel Gómez (costumes), Diane D. Fairchild (lights), Erik Backus (sound) and Jamie Karas(props). Stage manager is Stephanie Hurovitz.

Teatro Vista will debut The Wolf at The End of The Block in the Richard Christiansen Theater at Victory Gardens, located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue at the historic Biograph Theater in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. 

Previews are Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, January 29 at 3 p.m., and Wednesday through Thursday, February 1-3 at 7:30 p.m.

Opening Night is Saturday, February 4 at 7:30 p.m. 

Performances run through March 5: Thursday through Saturday at 
7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. 

Preview are $20. Performances are $25-$30. Student tickets are $15. Senior tickets are $18. Up to 20 Early Bird tickets are available on a first come, first served basis for $18. Use code EARLYBIRD. 

For tickets and information on group rates, visit, call the Victory Gardens box office, (773) 871-3000, or visit Tuesday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 12 p.m. to 
6 p.m., or Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Metered, street and valet parking is available near the Biograph. The theater is easily accessed on the CTA Red, Purple and Brown lines via the Fullerton stop. The CTA 8 Halsted and 74 Fullerton buses also stop at Fullerton and Halsted, 1/2 block south of the theater. For more information, visit

Behind the scenes of  
The Wolf at The End of The Block

Playwright Ike Holter's work has been produced at The Steppenwolf Garage, A Red Orchid, The New Colony and The Inconvenience, where he is a founding member and resident writer. He's received fellowships and commissions from the Goodman Theater, the Kennedy Center and The Playwrights Center. His show Hit the Wall played at Steppenwolf Garage, Off-Broadway at The Barrow Street Theater in New York, and recently enjoyed an extended run at the Lily Tomlin Center in L.A. Jackalope Theatre premiered his play Exit Strategy which played to sold-out houses and transferred to Michigan's 3 Oaks Theater Festival. It was produced at Philadelphia Stages and transferred Off Broadway to Primary Stages last spring. His most recent play Sender was a smash hit last season for A Red Orchid. Holter was named the "Chicagoan of the Year in Theater 2014" by the Chicago Tribune. His monologues have been published in The New Yorker and several editions of Applause Books. He was recently named one of Victory Gardens' newest ensemble playwrights.

Teatro Vista Executive Artistic Director Ricardo Gutiérrez (director) most recently staged the company's 2016-17 season opener, Mando Alvarado's Parachute Men, also the inaugural production of the Latina/o Theatre Commons' new El Fuego Initiative. Other Teatro Vista directing credits include In The Time of the Butterflies, Between You, Me & The Lampshade, A View From The Bridge, Momma's Boyz, i put the fear of mexico in 'em and La Mágica Posada. He is co-founder of the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists of Chicago (ALTA), a service organization dedicated to promoting and fostering Latinx theatre artists in Chicago. As an actor, Gutiérrez just returned from performing Destiny of Desire at South Coast Repertory, which will be remounted in March at the Goodman Theatre. He also appeared in In The Heights at the Paramount and in the world premieres of Song For The Disappeared and Fish Men at the Goodman. He has performed on stage at the Actors Theatre in Louisville, Denver Center Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens and Lookingglass Theatre. TV credits include Chicago PD, Sirens and Boss. Before joining Teatro Vista, Gutiérrez served as the artistic director of Nosotros in Los Angeles and The Canterbury Theatre in Indiana.

Meet the cast
Gabriel Ruiz (Abe) is a graduate of the DePaul Theatre School and a proud ensemble member of Teatro Vista. Chicago credits include White Tie Ball for Teatro Vista, Singin' in the Rain and City of Angels at Marriott, Man in the Ring and Agamemnon at Court Theater, Arcadia and Company at Writers' Theatre, The Upstairs Concierge at Goodman Theater, Creditors at Remy Bumpo Theater, How Long Will I Cry?, Motherfucker with the Hat and The Way West at Steppenwolf, Sita Ram for the Chicago Children's Choir, Working: The Musical at The Broadway Playhouse, Richard III at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Arabian Nights at Lookingglass Theater. Regional credits include Native Gardens at The Cincinnati Playhouse, Harvey at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them at Forward Theater Company and Blood and Gifts at The Lincoln Center in New York. He can also be seen as Dilip Singh in both seasons of Boss on the Starz Network.

Sandra Marquez (Frida) is an actor, director and educator, as well as a longtime ensemble member and former Associate Artistic Director (1998-2006) of Teatro Vista. Earlier this season she played Clytemnestra in Court Theater's production of Electra. Last spring she joined the ensemble of Steppenwolf Theater where she most recently appeared in the world premiere of Mary Page Marlowe by Tracy Letts. As an actor Marquez has worked at respected venues in Chicago and beyond including the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Madison Repertory and New York's off-Broadway house, Second Stage Theater, Uptown. Next summer she will play Clytemnestra in Iphigenia at Aulis for the remount of Court's production at the Getty Villa in California. Film and TV credits include The Big Bang Theory, Chicago Code, Boss, Chicago Med and Timer. She has been a member of the theater faculty at Northwestern University since 1995. As a director, Marquez' credits include Teatro Vista's production of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner by Luis Alfaro and the critically acclaimed production of Our Lady of the Underpass by Tanya Saracho, which went on to receive a Jeff nomination for best production. More recently she directed Manana Comes (Chicago premiere) by Elizabeth Irwin (Teatro Vista), and Men on the Verge of Hispanic Breakdown by Guillermo Rodriguez (Pride Films and Plays).

James D. Farruggio (James) has performed in Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird (Steppenwolf for Young Adults), Show Boat (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Bethany, Streamers, Stop/Kiss, The Ruby Sunrise, Suicide, Incorporated, Northwest Highway; Oh, The Humanity (and other exclamations), Almost Maine, Vigils and Broadsword as well as Ten.2012, Ten.2013 and Ten.2014 (The Gift Theatre), The Kentucky Cycle (Infamous Commonwealth Theatre) and Stage Door (Griffin Theatre). Film and television credits include APB, Batman Dark Knight, The Beast, Prison Break, Crisis, Chicago PD and The Playboy Club.

Ayssette Muñoz (Miranda), selected by the Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones as one of 2015's "Top 10 Hot New Faces of Chicago Theatre," is an artistic associate at Teatro Vista, where her credits include Maria Teresa in In the Time of the Butterflies, Amparo in Between You, Me & The Lampshade, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Catherine in A View from the Bridge. Other local credits include Adriana in The Comedy of Errors (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival), Hope in Urinetown (Thirteen O'Clock Theatre), Juliet (u/s) in Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Marisol in the staged reading of Marisol (Goodman Theater Latino Festival), and an episode of Chicago PD.  

Bear Bellinger (Nunley) is making his Teatro Vista debut. He has been seen in Chicago productions with The Inconvenience, The Hypocrites (The Adding Machine), Chicago Children's Theatre (Mr. Chickee's Funny Money), Paramount Theatre (Miss Saigon) and Court Theatre among others. 

More about Teatro Vista's 2016-17 season

Following The Wolf at The End of The Block, Teatro Vista's season finale is the world premiere of La Havana Madrid, a theatrical, cinematic and musical history of Latinx Caribbeans in Chicago by ensemble member Sandra Delgado. Fellow ensemble member Cheryl Lynn Bruce directs Delgado's immersive documentary theater experience, complete with live music, based on the true story of the 1960's Chicago nightclub, La Havana Madrid. Previews begin April 14. Press opening is Saturday, April 22 at 8 p.m. Performances run through May 21.

About Teatro Vista

Teatro Vista ( produces, develops and commissions plays that explore the wealth and variety of the human experience from a Latinx perspective. The company provides work and professional advancement opportunities for Latinx theatre artists, with special emphasis on the company's ensemble members, and seeks to enhance the curricular goals of Chicago students through theatre. 

Teatro Vista was recently celebrated as one of "Chicago's Cultural Leaders" by the Arts & Business Council of Chicago and received the League of Chicago Theatre's Artistic Leadership Award.                                                                        
Teatro Vista's primary focus is producing new works by Latinx theatre artists and presenting classic plays featuring artists of color. Its artistic vision is shaped by the company's ensemble members, a group of multi-generational, multi-ethnic and multi-disciplinary artists. They inform Teatro Vista's artistic aesthetic by devising original works as well as by selecting plays with themes that are engaging and relevant to Chicago's diverse population.

Teatro Vista founded in 1990 by Edward Torres and Henry Godinez. As Teatro Vista's first Artistic Director, Godinez guided the company during the formative years. He helped stage successful productions and establish vital relationships with other theatre companies and artists. When Godinez stepped down, Torres was appointed Artistic Director. Under Torres' direction, Teatro Vista used the stage to engage, connect and challenge audience members using the company's mission as his guide. In 2012, Torres moved to New York and the Board of Directors promoted longtime Associate Artistic Director Ricardo Gutiérrez to the position of Executive Artistic Director.

In addition to Gutiérrez, Teatro Vista ensemble members include Charín Álvarez, Max Arciniega, Desmín Borges, Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Ramón Camín, Ivonne Coll, Laura Dahl, Sandra Delgado, Liza Fernández, Khanisha Foster, Erik Juárez, Jon Lyon, Sandra Márquez, Joe Minoso, Christina Nieves, Marvin Quijada, Tommy Rivera-Vega, Gabriel Ruíz, Cecilia Suarez and co-founder Edward Torres. 

Teatro Vista's Board of Directors includes Ezequiel "Zeek" Agosto, President; Rodrigo García and Rosanna Márquez, Vice Presidents; Joan Pantsios, Secretary; Tom Vega-Byrnes, Treasurer; and Bhuvana Badrinathan, José Antonio Cruz, Edgar Delgado, Ricardo Gutiérrez, Yolanda Hardy and Kareem Mohamednur.

Teatro Vista is supported by The Joyce Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events of the City of Chicago, The Shubert Foundation, TheGaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation and The Saints.

Purple Group and Cumberland Irving are Teatro Vista's Headline Season Sponsors. Teatro Vista is a Victory Gardens Resident Theater.

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