Showing posts with label Act Out. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Act Out. Show all posts

Sunday, January 11, 2015

OPENING: Accidentally, Like a Martyr at A Red Orchid #Theatre


JANUARY 15 – MARCH 1, 2015

A Red Orchid Theatre continues its 22nd Season with the Chicago premiere of Accidentally, Like a Martyr, written by Grant James Varjas and directed by Ensemble Member Shade Murray and featuring Ensemble Members Steve Haggard, and Doug Vickers with David Cerda, Layne Manzer, Luce Metrius, Troy West and Dominique Worsley The production runs January 15 – March 1, 2015, at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells.

In a dive-y gay bar on Manhattan’s lower east side the regulars and the restless others do battle, joke and drink their way through a lonely winter evening. Different generations and backgrounds collide, secrets are revealed and old wounds are torn anew as these survivors come to grips with life, loss and aging in the 21st century.  Family and friendship are the focus of this humor filled drama in the tradition of The Time of Your Life and Small Craft Warnings.

Dates: Previews: January 15 – 18, 2015
Press opening: Monday, January 19 at 7 p.m.
Regular Run: January 20 – March 1, 2015
Schedule:     Thursdays: 8:00 p.m.
Fridays8:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 8:00 p.m.  
Sundays: 3:00 p.m. 

Location: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells Ave.
Tickets: $15 previews, $30-$35 regular run.  ($30Thurs, $35 Fri, Sat, Sun)

Box Office: Located at 1531 N. Wells Ave, Chicago, (312) 943-8722; or online 

The creative team for Accidentally, Like a Martyr includes John Holt (Set Designer), Karen Kawa (Costume Designer), Rachel Levy (Lighting Designer), Brando Triantafillou (Sound Designer), Arianna Soloway (Props Designer) and S. G. Heller (Stage Manager).

Accidentally, Like a Martyr premiered at The Paradise Factory in NYC, 2011

About the Artists
Grant James Varjas (Playwright) is the writer of the GLAAD nominated play 33 To Nothing which enjoyed a critically acclaimed Off-Broadway production directed by Randall Myer (Love, Janis), and Accidentally, Like A Martyr, a critic's favorite from 2012.  As an actor, Off-Broadway: The Shape Of Something Squashed (written/directed by Tom Noonan), Twelve Dreams (Lincoln Center); Franz Kafka's The Castle (Manhattan Ensemble Theater); Tesla's Letters; Killing Hand and Sockdolager (Ensemble Studio Theater); Accidentally, Like A Martyr; I Could Say More (Other Side Productions); 33 To Nothing.  Grant is a member of Moises Kaufman's Tectonic Theater and has collaborated with him on many projects, including “The Laramie Project" (HBO Films); The Common Pursuit (Roundabout Theater); and 33 Variations (CTG at the Ahmanson Theater with Jane Fonda).  Film:  "Peter and Vandy"; "Territory"; "Paradise Framed"; "Parallel Lives".  Television: "Sex and the City"; "Law & Order: Criminal Intent".  Grant is a board member of Tom Noonan's Paradise Factory Theater.

Shade Murray (Director) is a member of the artistic ensemble at A Red Orchid where he recently directed Marisa Wegrzyn’s Mud Blue Sky, Annie Baker’s The Aliens and Nick Jones’ Trevor. Also at AROT; The Butcher of Baraboo, Abigail's Party (Jeff Nomination, Director) and Kimberly Akimbo.  He recently had the pleasure of directing Mike Leigh’s Ecstasy for Cole Theatre, The Vandal at Steep Theatre, and Annie Bosh is Missing for Steppenwolf Theatre’s First Look. Other credits include End Days at Next Theatre, The Chosen (Jeff Nomination, Director), The Subject Was Roses at Writers' Theatre, Fatty Arbuckle... at Second City, The Petrified Forest, The Good Soul of SzechuanMarathon '33 and many more at Strawdog Theatre, Stupid Kids (Jeff Nomination, Director), Some Explicit Polaroids, Santaland Diaries, Never Swim Alone at Roadworks as well as productions at the MCA, Shattered Globe, About Face, Colbalt, Shakespeare's Motley Crew, Timberlake Playhouse and dance theatre in collaboration with MK and Birgitta Victorson. 

David Cerda (Scott) is the co-founder, resident playwright, and Artistic Director of Hell in a Handbag Productions, Chicago’s leading camp and parody theatre company. He was last seen on the stage as Suzanne Pleshette in his critically acclaimed adaption of Hitchcock’s The Birds. Cerda has been featured in numerous publications including NewCity’s top 50 Players in Chicago theater, and the Chicago Reader’s annual people issue and in for his body of work with Hell in a Handbag Productions.

Steve Haggard (Mark) was last seen at A Red Orchid Theatre in The Aliens and has been an ensemble member since 2007.  Other Orchid shows include Kimberly Akimbo and The Mandrake.  Chicago credits: Tribes (Steppenwolf); Wasteland (Timeline); Old Glory, The Subject Was Roses and Our Town (Writers’); Season’s Greetings and She Stoops to Conquer (Northlight Theatre); King Lear, As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare).  Regional Credits: American Players, Milwaukee Repertory and Indiana Repertory.  Steve is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. Love to Kelsey, Mom and Q.

Layne Manzer (Brendan) was recently seen in Cole Theatre’s Ecstasy, by Mike Leigh directed by Shade Murray. He was in the original cast of Hit The Wall with The Inconvenience as part of Steppenwolf's 2012 Garage Rep and the remount in 2014. Other Chicago credits include The Jewels with TUTA Theatre, Assisted Living with Profiles Theatre, The Lady's Not for Burning with Theo Ubique, Our Bad Magnet with Mary-Arrchie as well as working with TimeLine Theatre, & Jackelope Theatre.  Film credits include the upcoming No Resolution and recently released feature film In Between Engagements.  Layne attended the School at Steppenwolf in 2009 and earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Luce Metrius (Jay) is making his A Red Orchid Theatre debut.  Recent Chicago credits include All Our Tragic with The Hypocrites and Buzzer at The Goodman Theatre.  Luce understudied roles in Raisin in the Sun at TimeLine Theatre Company and other Chicago credits include The March at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Iphigenia at Next Theatre Company, and Romeo & Juliet at Crowded Tub Collective. Mr. Metrius received his BA in acting from of Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

Doug Vickers (Charles) is an ensemble member at A Red Orchid Theatre, where he was most recently seen in Simpatico.  Other appearances at A Red Orchid include three plays by fellow ensemble member, Brett Neveu: Four MurdersEric La Rue and The Meek, as well as Fatboy, Hunger and Thirst, The Grey Zone and more. Doug has also appeared at many other theatres around town, including Chicago Shakespeare (Comedy of Errors), Next Theatre (U.N. Inspector), Remy Bumpo (The Best Man) -Jeff Award for Cameo Performance, Famous Door, Raven, Trap Door, Hell in a Handbag, and Court Theatre. He's done various commercials over the years, and he appeared as a large red beanbag in a little known children's film.

Troy West (Edmund) has appeared previously at A Red Orchid Theatre in The Physicists, The Grey Zone, The Hothouse and BUG. Later Mr. West played in the OFF- BROADWAY run of BUG at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York. He has collaborated with Mr. Murray once before in the Roadworks production of Some Explicit Polaroids at Steppenwolf. Mr. West is an artistic associate with the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago

Dominique Worsley (Jeffrey) is thrilled to make his A Red Orchid debut. He most recently performed as an understudy in Steppenwolf Theatre’s adaptation of Animal Farm. Other Chicago credits include Tartuffe  at Court Theatre, BlackTop Sky (performing understudy) at Steppenwolf Garage Rep. and Titus Andronicus with The Right Brain Project. He has a BFA from the University of Illinois where he also ran Track and Field.

About A Red Orchid 
A Red Orchid Theatre has served as an artistic focal point in the heart of the Old Town community of Chicago since 1993.  Chicago Magazine named Red Orchid Chicago’s Best Theatre Company of 2010. Over the past 22 years, its Resident Ensemble has welcomed into its fold an impressive array of award winning actors, playwrights and theatre artists with the firm belief that live theatre is the greatest sustenance for the human spirit. A Red Orchid is well known and highly acclaimed for its fearless approach to performance and design in the service of unflinchingly intimate stories. In addition to its professional season, the company also produces an annual youth project.

A Red Orchid Theatre is: Lance Baker, Kamal Angelo Bolden, Dado, Mike Durst, Jennifer Engstrom, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Joseph Fosco, Steve Haggard, Mierka Girten, Larry Grimm, Karen Kawa, Karen Kessler, Danny McCarthy, Shade Murray, Brett Neveu, Michael Shannon, Guy Van Swearingen, Doug Vickers and Natalie West

OPENING: Cor Theatre's A Map of Virtue at Rivendell Theatre 1/8-2/14

A Map of Virtue by Erin Courtney

Part interview, part comedy, part middle-of-the-night horror story, 
A Map of Virtue is a hauntingly romantic play about a shared obsession 
that leaves a group of friends stranded in the woods. A bird statue is the guide through this symmetrical tale about the limits of our virtues and what we leave behind.

ChiIL Live Shows is catching the press opening tonight, so check back like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often. Our full review will be live soon.

"one of the most terrifying plays of the past decade" 
- The New York Times 

Act Out:  Chicago Theatre openings, closings, reviews, giveaways, ticket sale dates and more via ChiIL Live Shows. 

ChiIL Live Shows will be there for the press opening, so check back soon for our full review. In the meantime, book your tickets now for the best selection on dates. Seating is GA.

*Free parking is available at Senn High School.*

A hauntingly romantic play with a mystery at its center, A Map of Virtue was hailed “one of the most terrifying plays of the past decade” by the New York Times. It premiered at New York’s 13P in 2012, won an Obie Award and was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick. 

Cor Theatre, the new Chicago company that made its mark with 
Skin Tight at A Red Orchid Theatre in 2012, returns with the Midwest premiere of 
Erin Courtney's A Map of Virtue
directed by Cor Theatre Artistic Director Tosha Fowler.

Cor Theatre's Midwest premiere of A Map of Virtue will be only the play's second professional production. Cor Artistic Director Tosha Fowler will direct. The cast includes Will Von Vogt (Mark), Mallory Ness (Sarah), Nick Mikula (Nate), Ruben Adorno (Victor), Eleni Pappageorge (June), Adam Benjamin (Ray) and Scottie Caldwell  (The Bird). 

Designers are Tierra G. Novy (set), Stefin Steberl (costumes and props), Eric Vigo (lights) and Jeffrey Levin (sound). Elyse Cowles is assistant director/dramaturg. Production stage manager is Navid Afshar.

Cor Theatre will present A Map of Virtue January 8-February 14, 2015 at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave., in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Previews are Thursday and Friday, January 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. Soft Opening is Saturday, January 10 at 7:30 p.m. Preview and Soft Opening tickets are $10. 

Regular performances continue January 15 through February 14: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 5 p.m. Performances are $25; $10 students and industry. Tickets to A Map of Virtue go on sale December 1. For tickets and information, visit or call (866) 811-4111.

More about Cor Theatre's A Map of Virtue
Tosha Fowler (director) is the co-founder of Cor Theatre, where she produced and acted in the critically acclaimed Skin Tight, under the direction of Victoria Delorio. Also with Cor she co-produced, wrote and performed in her original solo show, Mami, Where'd my O go? Fowler has produced theatre for almost ten years for companies including Mary-Arrchie Theatre, The Chicago Fringe Festival, The Academy Theatre in Atlanta, and her founding company, Fowl Brick in Savannah, Georgia. Her directing credits include A Doctor's Stories, Poof! and Bash and Bully Breakdown in HD. As an actress, Fowler has performed in Chicago with Lifeline Theatre, Emerald City, MPAACT, Cock & Bull and Circle Theatre. She has worked as a playwright with American Theatre Company's "Chicago Chronicle Project," the DePaul University Diversity Initiative, and the Academy Theater. Fowler is an adjunct professor in Theatre at DePaul University, and she holds an MFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul.

Erin Courtney (playwright) has said A Map of Virtue "is about people fantasizing about other people's lives, thinking their lives are better than their own lives, and really we are all just trying to get by." 

A Map of Virtue has been published along with her play Black Cat Lost by 53rd State Press. Courtney's other works include Honey Drop, Alice the MagnetQuiver and Twitch, and Demon Baby. Her work has been produced and developed by Clubbed Thumb, The Flea, New York Stage and Film, Adhesive Theater, Soho Rep, The Vineyard and The Public. She collaborated with Elizabeth Swados on the opera Kaspar Hauser and is starting work on a new musical with Swados on the life of Isabelle Eberhardt. She was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013, a NYSCA grant, two MAP Fund grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, and has been a resident at the MacDowell Colony. Demon Baby is published in two anthologies; New Downtown Now, edited by Mac Wellman and Young Jean Lee and published by University of Minnesota Press, and Funny, Strange, Provocative: Seven Plays by Clubbed Thumb edited by Maria Striar and Erin Detrick and published by Playscripts, Inc. She is an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb, a member of 13P, and a member of New Dramatists. She teaches in the MFA playwriting program at Brooklyn College and is a co-founder of Brooklyn Writers Space. She is a graduate of Mac Wellman's MFA program at Brooklyn College in 2003, and earned her BA at Brown University in 1990.

About Cor Theatre
 Cor Theatre ( is a professional theatre company committed to producing stories about courage and exploring the hidden hero within us all. The company believes that there are certain intrinsic values that connect people at the core of their being. Cor Theatre seeks to expose those values.

Cor debuted in September 2012 with its production of Skin Tight by Gary Henderson at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. About a powerful, enduring love, complete with punches, laughter, knife fights, confessions and forgiveness, Skin Tight was rewarded with enthusiastic audiences, critical acclaim and made just enough money to establish a not-for-profit corporation. The company named itself Cor Theatre, deriving its name from the Latin root of courage - meaning heart.

Today, Cor is a new and ambitious Chicago professional theatre company under the leadership of Tosha Fowler, Artistic Director, and Navid Afshar, Managing Director. Company members include Chris Brickhouse, Elyse Cowles, Brian Crawford, Claire Meyers, Stefin Steberl and Will Von Vogt.With strong experience behind it, Cor is committed to produce works that provide an environment in which its audience can explore the unexplored and expect the unexpected.

Cor will return to Rivendell Theatre in the spring, June 4-July 11, 2015 with Love and Human Remains, the first Chicago professional production in nearly 20 years of the ground-breaking play originally titled Unidentified Human Remains and the Nature of True Love. Ernie Nolan will direct.

For more information, visit, call (866) 811-4111, like Cor Theatre on Facebook or follow the company on Twitter, @TheatreCor.

Rivendell Theatre
5779 N. Ridge Ave
Chicago, IL 60660
Edgewater Neighborhood
Rivendell is a few short blocks away from both the Bryn Mawr Red Line el stop, as well as the Clark Street #22 bus. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

REVIEW: The Hypocrites' Trifecta of Gilbert & Sullivan Shows Are a Riotous Round of Hilarity Through 2/7/15 #Review #‎ChiILPicksList

Gilbert & Sullivan Rep

It was our great pleasure to catch all 3 of The Hypocrites' Gilbert and Sullivan musicals this past month and we highly recommend you hightail it over to The Den Theatre ASAP and see them. We loved The Mikado last year and couldn't wait to see it again and add H.M.S. Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance to the mix. These shows are great for theatre freaks, kids and adults of all ages, and the reluctant theatre goer as well. They have a small bar right in the performance space and a free range audience that's welcome to move about at will and sit, stand or lounge around the whole performance space or the traditional chairs. Click here and scroll down for loads of our past Hypocrites coverage.

Act Out:  Chicago Theatre openings, closings, reviews, giveaways, ticket sale dates and more via ChiIL Live Shows. 

The whole vibe begins more like a party than a play, with people with drinks in hand milling about and chatting up strangers, kids playing on the multilevel set pieces, and musicians everywhere. At all 3 shows we saw, there in the fray was director, Sean Graney, grinning ear to ear. And he had every right to beam like the Cheshire Cat. The Hypocrites are on to something magical and spectacular! 

I think Sean has the right idea. I kinda want to join him and spend the whole winter in The Hypocrites world of playful fun and light!

Here at ChiIL Live Shows/ChiIL Mama we can't think of a better way to spend the darkest, coldest days of the year than under the twinkling circus tent lights with The Hypocrites. Their trifecta of Gilbert & Sullivan musicals is a joyful celebration of light, color, music and ridiculous rhyme. We've never seen any troupe make better use of the promenade style. They don't just break down the 4th wall, they run rings around it! 

The Mikado is still our pick of the litter, but we dug all 3 and suggest you get a package deal and do it up right. I mean, come on, where else can you find a talented tribe of rag tag minstrels to serenade you in a pillow pile at the foot of a slide where you can snuggle a passel of stuffed animal cats, or on bunk beds, or in a rubber duckie filled kiddy pool sans water for cripes sake! I dare you not to grin. Perfect for a date night or fam friendly fun. 

We're also absofreakinlutely loving The Den Theatre's new performance space with no steep stairs, a bountiful bar and a spacious, open performance area! Joy. 

The Hypocrites' unique take on new and traditional works is something to see! Highly recommended. 

Do you want to come back to the show again? Do you want to see the other two in rep? Do you want to encourage others to do so and get a $6 discount per ticket? We created the code "comeback" for you to enter at checkout in order to do just that. 

Here's the Official Scoop:

Gilbert and Sullivan Rep 2014-15
November 26, 2014 – February 7, 2015
Music Direction by Andra Velis Simon Gilbert & Sullivan Rep
Directed by Sean Graney and Thrisa Hodits

featuring the world premiere adaptation of
H.M.S. Pinafore
Adaption by Sean Graney, Matt Kahler & Andra Velis Simon

along with the highly anticipated return of BOTH
Pirates of Penzance 
Adaption by Sean Graney & Kevin O'Donnell
Adaption by Sean Graney

The Hypocrites’ 2014-15 Season will continue in December 2014 with another world premiere: a playful re-imaging of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera H.M.S. PINAFORE, adapted and directed by Sean Graney, with new arrangements by Matt Kahler and Andra Velis Simon. In what has become an annual celebration of the Gilbert and Sullivan canon, H.M.S. PINAFORE will run in repertory with remounts of the company’s wildly popular productions of THE MIKADO and THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, also adapted and directed by Graney.

★★★★ (out of ★★★★)   
“The Hypocrites apply their winning formula of hip deconstruction and dark comedy to the cherished operetta”
Chicago Tribune

“Spirited, affectionate, and nearly irresistible”
Boston Globe

“Terrific…The Hypocrites’ musicianship has never sounded better.”

TimeOut Chicago

For the full schedule of the rep, click here

Missed All Our Tragic this time around?
Saw it but wanted to come back or tell your friends?
Well now you have a second chance
Buy your tickets for next summer now

Looking ahead to 2015:
Pirates of Penzance, Mikado and HMS Pinafore 
now-February 7th
(tickets on sale here)

Endgame by Samuel Beckett
Directed by Halena Kays
Feb-April 2015 (tickets on sale soon)

Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Geoff Button
April-June 2015 (tickets on sale soon)

Remount of All Our Tragic
June-August 2015 
(tickets on sale here)

Announcement of their 19th season
coming April 2015

plus a lot of exciting surprises  
to be announced throughout the year

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

OPENING: Clock Productions' Scary Tales 2015 at The Alley Stage 1/15 #theatre

Clock Productions will present  the next in its series of “Scary  Tales” with “Scary Tales 2015” which opens on Thursday, January 15, 2015 at the Alley Stage, 4147 N. Broadway.

Act Out:  Chicago Theatre openings, closings, reviews, giveaways, ticket sale dates and more via ChiIL Live Shows. 

There will be six tales, some from past versions and some new ones based on short stories which have been adapted to the stage.  They are tales of treachery, fear and irony and include A Tale of Greed, A Tale of Loneliness, A Tale of War, A Tale of Botany, A Tale of Madness and A Tale of Candy.

Written, adapted and directed by David Denman, the cast includes Kayla Boye, Andrew Buel, Sierra Buffum, Brittany Handle, Emilie Hanlet, Sara Heller, Ben Powell and Christopher Rozenboom.  Co-Director and Stage Manager is Amber Mandley with Scenic Design by David Denman and Costume Design by Arin Mulvancy.  Sound design is by Larry Bryan and Lighting Design by Benjamin Dionysus.

“Scary Tales 2015” will open on Thursday, January 15th at 8pm and will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm to February 8.  Tickets are $15 and can be obtained at Brown Paper Tickets at

OPENING: West Side Story at Drury Lane Theatre 1/15-3/22

West Side Story at Drury Lane Theatre

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows we can't wait to see Drury Lane's take on this well loved classic. They do a spectacular job with high caliber productions from talent to tech. We'll be reviewing opening night so check back early and often. We've seen the Broadway touring version of West Side Story twice along with a host of hometown reincarnations and we're looking forward to this production.

Act Out:  Chicago Theatre openings, closings, reviews, giveaways, ticket sale dates and more via ChiIL Live Shows. 

Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, is kicking off the New Year with WEST SIDE STORY, the revolutionary Tony Award-winning production that forever changed American musical theater. Experience the passion, drama and heart-pounding excitement of WEST SIDE STORY like never before. The production previews January 15, opens January 22 and runs through March 22. Multi-Jeff Award winner Rachel Rockwell (Les Misérables, Ragtime, The Sound of Music, Sweeney Todd, and Oliver! at Drury Lane Theatre) will direct, and Rhett Guter (who starred in the International Tour of WEST SIDE STORY and Choreographed Anything Goes at The Utah Shakespeare Festival) serves as Choreographer and Associate Director and stars as “Riff.” The musical's famous choreography is being reimagined says Rockwell, "Modern re-stagings of the famous dances often romanticize the violence of the piece. As we restructure the brilliant work of Jerome Robbins, much of the balletic movement will be replaced with more percussive dance and in some cases outright combat to depict the tragedy as the two rival street gangs wage a war in the back alleys of Manhattan.”  WEST SIDE STORY features a dynamic cast led by Christina Nieves as “Maria” (Les Misérables at Drury Lane Theatre, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and The Sins of Sor Juana at Goodman Theatre), Jim DeSelm as “Tony” (Godspell at Theatre at the Center and South Pacific at Marriott Theatre), and Michelle Aravena as “Anita” (Rocky, A Chorus Line, and Jersey Boys on Broadway and the National Tour of West Side Story).

WEST SIDE STORY is a provocative exploration of race relations with an underlying message of hope that is as relevant today as ever. Variety raves that the musical “Still dazzles after more than 50 years. Majestic! Some of the most achingly beautiful expressions of love ever sung!” The San Francisco Chronicle exclaims that it is “A miraculous fusion of theatrical elements…full of musical treasures!” and the New Yorker enthuses that WEST SIDE STORY is “So exciting it makes you ache with pleasure!”

A modern retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the 1950s, WEST SIDE STORY is the poignant tale of Tony and Maria, star-crossed young lovers caught in a turf war between rival gangs. The musical has an electrifying Latin and Jazz-infused score including “Somewhere,” “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “America.” WEST SIDE STORY first premiered on Broadway in 1957 and is the result of a collaboration between three theatrical luminaries, featuring a masterful Book by Tony Award-winner Arthur Laurents, Music by Tony and Grammy Award-winner Leonard Bernstein and Lyrics by Tony, Grammy, Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winner Stephen Sondheim. The smash hit 1961 film version of WEST SIDE STORY won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and catapulted the musical to the center of the national conversation.

The cast also features John Francis Gray as “Officer Krupke,” Roger Mueller as “Doc” (Brigadoon at Goodman Theatre and My One and Only at Marriott Theatre), Lucas Segovia as “Bernardo” (Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet with Joffrey Ballet Chicago), Bret Tuomi as “Lt. Shrank” (Rock of Ages on Broadway and The Iceman Cometh at Goodman Theatre) and Tommy Rivera Vega as “Chino” (Cats at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theater). The ensemble includes Adrian Aguilar (“Action”), Isaiah Allatorre (“Anxious”),  Anthony Avino (“Indio”), Larry Baldacci (“Gladhand”), Annelise Baker (“Graziella”), Lillian Castillo (“Rosalia”), Courtney Cerny (“Minnie”), Carl Draper (“Diesel”), Cameron Erdis (“Snowboy”), Lucas Fedele (“A-rab”), Ryan Fitzgerald (“Big Deal”), Rachel Marie LaPorte (“Consuela”), Kristina Larson-Hauk (“Pauline”), John Marshall, Jr. (“Baby John”), Deanna Ott (“Velma”), Chip Payos (“Nibbles”), Todd Rhoades (“Luis”), Elena Romanowski (“Teresita”), Emma Rosenthal (“Anybodys”), Will Skrip (“Gee-Tar”), Glenn Snellgrose (“Pepe”) and Lauren Villegas (“Francisca”).

Musical Direction for WEST SIDE STORY is by Roberta Duchak (Les Misérables and Ragtime at Drury Lane Theatre, and vocal coach for Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman for the Academy Award-winning film Les Misérables). The set, designed by Scott Davis (Les Misérables and Next to Normal at Drury Lane Theatre and Shrek the Musical at Chicago Shakespeare Theater), recreates the gritty streets and Upper West Side apartment living in 1950s New York City. The artistic team also includes Nick Heggestad as Properties Designer (Camelot and The Game’s Afoot at Drury Lane Theatre), Rick Jarvie as Wig and Makeup Designer (Camelot, The Game’s Afoot and The Sound of Music at Drury Lane Theatre), Yael Lubetzky as Lighting Designer (the Broadway production of Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam), Ray Nardelli as Sound Designer (Camelot, Young Frankenstein, and Next to Normal at Drury Lane Theatre), Erika Senase as Costume Coordinator (Camelot, Les Misérables and Young Frankenstein at Drury Lane Theatre) and Original Costume Design is by David Woolard , featuring costumes from the 2012 National Tour. Eva Breneman is the Dialect Coach (Camelot and Les Misérables at Drury Lane Theatre) and Matt Hawkins is the Fight Choreographer (Les Misérables at Drury Lane Theatre and The Wheel and Belleville at Steppenwolf Theatre Company).

The performance schedule for WEST SIDE STORY is as follows: Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. ($45), Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. ($45) and 8 p.m. ($50), Fridays at 8 p.m. ($60), Saturdays at 5 p.m. ($60), and 8:30 p.m. ($60), and Sundays at 2 p.m. ($60), and 6 p.m. ($55). Student group tickets start as low as $30 and Senior Citizens start at $35 for matinees. For reservations, call the Drury Lane Theatre box office at 630.530.0111, call TicketMaster at 800.745.3000 or visit 

Monday, January 5, 2015



Act Out:  Chicago Theatre openings, closings, reviews, giveaways, ticket sale dates and more via ChiIL Live Shows. 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we adore Theater Wit and we've been huge Simpsons fans since the first shorts ran on The Tracey Ullman Show in the late 80s. We can't wait to check out Mr. Burns A Post Electric Play! 

Check back with us like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often. We'll be there to review opening night. In the meantime, get your tickets locked in now before this pop cult production pops!

Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., will present one of the most anticipated productions of Chicago's 2014-15 season, the Midwest premiere of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn. (*WIT has even got rockin' Mr. Burns magnets in the bathroom, till they're gone!)

Washburn's meta-apocalyptic comedy/drama/musical about America rebuilding itself from the ashes of an apocalypse - and the enduring power of Bart Simpson - begins previews on January 9. Performances run through March 1. Tickets start at $25. For tickets and information, visit or call 773.975.8150.

A paean to the power of live theater and the resilience of Bart Simpson through the ages, Mr. Burns is an animated exploration of how the pop culture of one era might evolve into the mythology of another, and a dazzling, panoramic vista on the power of storytelling. 

Mr. Burns had a hugely successful New York premiere in fall 2013 at Playwrights Horizons. The New York Times raved "Downright brilliant. When was the last time you met a new play that was so smart it made your head spin? Get ready to reel. Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns, a post-electric play has arrived to leave you dizzy with the scope and dazzle of its ideas."

The story begins after life as we know it has ended. Small bands of survivors band together to keep the pilot light of civilization burning, and their path to redemption is as unexpected as it is inevitable.

The cast participated in an entertaining read of the entire script to kick off Mr. Burns rehearsals on Dec. 8.

   Photo by Claire Cooney

Theater Wit's Midwest debut of Mr. Burns is directed by Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler. The cast includes Kelly Abell, Daniel Desmarais, Hannah Gomez, Christina Hall, Andrew Jessop, Leslie Ann Sheppard, Jeff Trainor and Leah Urzendowski
Theater Wit's Midwest premiere of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play stars 
(top, from left) Kelly Abell, Daniel Desmarais, Hannah Gomez, Christina Hall, 
(bottom) Andrew Jessop, Leslie Ann Sheppard, Jeff Trainor and Leah Urzendowski. 
Click  here to download hi- and lo-res versions.

The production team includes Andra Velis Simon (musical director), Brigitte Ditmars (choreography), Joe Schermoly (set), Mike Durst (lights), Mara Blumenfeld (costumes), Jesse Gaffney (props), Majel Cuza (production manager) and Katie Klemme (stage manager). Music is by Michael Friedman. Theater Wit's Mr. Burns features a live band. 

Mr. Burns was first seen in New York in 2012.The New York Times' Charles Isherwood hailed Roundabout Theatre's 2013 production "the best comedy of the season."

Anne Washburn's other plays included The Internationalist, A Devil at Noon, Apparition, The Community Dracula Pageant, I Have Loved Strangers, The Ladies, The Small and a transadaptation of Euripides' Orestes. Her work has been produced by 13P, Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Repertory Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, The Civilians, Dixon Place, Ensemble Studio Theater, The Folger, London's Gate Theatre, NYC's Soho Rep, DC's Studio Theater, Two River Theater Company, NYC's Vineyard and Woolly Mammoth. Awards include a Guggenheim, a NYFA Fellowship, a Time WArner Fellowship, Susan Smith Blackburn finalist, residencies at MacDowell and Yaddo, and an Artslink travel grant to Hungary to work with the playwright Peter Karpati. She is an associated artist with The Civilians, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, and is an alumna of New Dramatists and 13P.

Jeremy Wechsler (director) is the artistic director of Theater Wit where he most recently directed the hit Midwest premiere of Madeline George's Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, and its subsequent summer remount at Art Square Theatre in Las Vegas. Wechsler also staged Wit's acclaimed productions of Completeness and The Four of Us (Itamar Moses), Tigers Be Still (Kim Rosenstock), This (Melissa James Gibson), Spin (Penny Penniston), Feydeau-Si-Deau (Georges Feydeau), Men of Steel (Qui Nguyen), Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) (Will Eno), Two for the Show (James Fitzpatrick and Will Clinger) and The Santaland Diaries. Wechsler's productions have been nominated for and won multiple awards.

On Deck @ Wit: Midwest premiere of Joshua Harmon's Bad Jews opens
April, 2015

Following Mr. Burns, Theater Wit's spring 2015 production is the Midwest premiere of Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, one of the funniest, wisest, most excruciating comedies about the holy and holier-than-thou you'll see this season. 

Theater Wit's Chicago staging of Bad Jews will be presented in April and May 2015. For tickets and information, visit or call 773.975.8150.

Mr. Burns was first seen in New York in 2012.The New York Times' Charles Isherwood hailed Roundabout Theatre's 2013 production "the best comedy of the season." 

About Theater Wit
Theater Wit - "A thrilling addition to Chicago's roster of theaters" (Chicago Tribune) and "a terrific place to see a show" (New City) - is launching its fourth season in its home at 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago.

Founded in 2004, Theater Wit's mission is to explore contemporary issues with wit and wisdom through new works and Chicago premieres. As a production company, Theater Wit is Chicago's premier smart art theater, producing humorous, challenging, and intelligent plays that speak with a vibrant and contemporary theatrical voice. As an institution, Theater Wit seeks to be the hub of the Chicago neighborhood theater scene. In its three spaces, Theater Wit brings together Chicago's best storefront companies. Here audiences find a smorgasbord of excellent productions, see a parade of talented artists and mingle with audiences from all over Chicago. 

In 2014, Theater Wit was awarded the National Theatre Award by the American Theatre Wing for strengthening the quality, diversity and dynamism of American theater. 

In 2011, Theater Wit originated Chicago's first monthly fee membership program to encourage cross-pollination among its productions and those presented by its resident and visiting companies. Resident companies at Theater Wit in 2014-15 include Stage Left, Shattered Globe and Kokandy Productions. Today, more than 100 Chicagoans areT heater Wit members, seeing as many plays as they want at Theater Wit, year round, for one low monthly fee of $36 ($22 for students). 

Theater Wit also offers a Flex Pass: 10 admissions for $215 to literally anything presented in the building, a savings of up to 40%. 

To purchase a Membership Program, Flex Pass, single tickets or for information about any production at Theater Wit, call 773.975.8150 or visit

WIN 4 Tickets (up to $152 value) To The Selfish Giant & Full Schedule For Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival JANUARY 14-25, 2015 #ChiPuppetFest #CompleteSchedule

JANUARY 14-25, 2015 

Act Out:  Chicago Theatre openings, closings, reviews, giveaways, ticket sale dates and more via ChiIL Live Shows. 

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows, we're super stoked about the inaugural Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival! The city's hoping to make it a bi-annual event, and there's magic in beginnings. They're kickin it off in style January 14-25, 2015, with a line-up of top contemporary puppets acts and artists from around the world, the U.S. and Chicago at venues large and small all over the city. Book your tickets in advance to guarantee seats!

Then ChiIL out with ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows for the latest arts news, photo & video filled reviews, and giveaways in Chi, IL and beyond. Check back with us like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often.

WIN 4 Tickets (up to $152 value) To The Selfish Giant

   *CCT family 4-pack giveaway 
for opening night Fri, 1/23, 6 pm* 

Chicago Children's Theatre presents
Blair Thomas & Co.'s production of The Selfish Giant
Chicago Children's Theatre at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts,
1016 N. Dearborn St.

Five festival performances: Friday, January 23-Sunday, January 25 
Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Approximately 50 minutes
$28 children; $38 adults; $5 off with promo code PUPPET
(production runs through February 22) 
All ages

The Selfish Giant, a musical spectacle created for Chicago Children's Theatre by two Chicago theater icons - Blair Thomas and Michael Smith - is based on Oscar Wilde's classic story about a grumpy giant who forbids children from playing in his garden. After the children are locked out, the trees and flowers refuse to grow and the garden plunges into an eternal winter. Then one morning, the children sneak back into the garden, bringing with them the joyous rebirth of spring.

Featuring original puppets and music, The Selfish Giant is enormously imaginative, gigantically whimsical, and is sure to thrill children and giants of all ages. The production is one of the festival's closing weekend presentations, but kicks off Chicago Children's Theatre's full run of the The Selfish Giant through February 22. 

Blair Thomas & Co. ( is a national and international touring puppet theater company founded in 2002 by puppeteer and director/designer Blair Thomas.

Founded to establish Chicago as a center for the advancement of the art of puppetry, the 12-day, city-wide festival will showcase an entertaining and eclectic array of puppet styles from around the world for residents and visitors to experience together. 

More than 50 different performances are slated, showcasing more than 50 artists and a dozen puppet theater acts from around the globe, presented by more than a dozen top Chicago cultural institutions in partnership with the festival.

Visit for information and to book tickets. The official festival hashtag is #ChiPuppetFest. Fan the festival on Facebook and follow the festival on Twitter at @ChiPuppetFest:

**Following is the latest information about each presentation - in chronological order by starting date and time - including dates, venues, show times, ticket prices and estimated run time.**                            

Click here to download a handy festival map and calendar in pdf format.

Free Street Theatre presents

Stephanie Diaz and Company's Mariposa Nocturna: A Puppet Triptych

at Free Street Theatre, Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk St., 3rd Floor

Two performances: Wednesday and Thursday, January 14 and 15 at 6 p.m.

40 minutes


A child's wish to a Guatemalan folk saint for her dying grandmother to have a "happy sleep" results in a bawdy, Japanese shadow-dream. Two bird-headed spinsters suddenly find themselves custodians of a large, glowing egg. A lonely toy carriage embarks upon a jaunty odyssey in search of buried dreams. Employing handcrafted tabletop and shadow puppets, original music, and stop-motion film, and showcasing precise, artful manipulation, Mariposa Nocturna explores loss, longing and rebirth in this gently humorous, darkly beautiful and emotionally resonant new work. 

The production includes a beautiful, immersive folk-art-inspired community altar and live installation. Audiences are encouraged to bring a token or memento of a loved one to contribute to the show's folk-art inspired community altar.

Mariposa Nocturna: A Puppet Triptych was conceived and created by Stephanie Díaz, and features original music by Barry Bennett and film by Jessica Mondres.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents

Blind Summit's The Table

Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave.

13 performances: Wednesday, January 14-Sunday, January 25

Tuesday-Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m.


70 minutes

Here at ChiIL Live Shows/ChiIL Mama we caught The Table last year and highly recommend it! Moses, the charismatic cardboard character has heart, soul and depth. The Table is a must see.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents the return engagement Blind Summit's The Table, the widely acclaimed production that played to sold-out houses last fall.

Come meet Moses, a cantankerous puppet with a cardboard head immersed in an existential crisis on a table.
Intended to be a theatrical interpretation of the biblical story of Moses, The Table is performed by a grizzled, crotchety old man but the grumpy puppet narrator strays far from the planned storyline.

Blind Summit (, London-based theatrical innovators who have created puppetry for Anthony Minghella, Complicité and Danny Boyle's Olympic Opening Ceremony, presents epic puppetry drawing on the Japanese Bunraku style. Hilarious, beautiful and occasionally profound, it is performed completely on the table top with multiple, visible puppeteers who improvise and interact with each other and the audience. Blind Summit's remarkable artists breathe poignant life into the character, revealing something of ourselves in the cardboard, wood and fabric creation onstage.

As part of the development of a new work, Blind Summit will also showcase a work in progress exclusively for Chicago audiences on Fridays and Saturdays at 9:15 p.m. during the festival.


MCA Stage presents

Manual Cinema's Mementos Mori

Museum of Contemporary Art, Edlis Neelsin Theater, 220 E. Chicago Ave.

Four performances:  Thursday, January 15-Sunday, January 18

Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m.

$28; $22 MCA Members; $10 students

80 minutes

Chicago's own Manual Cinema is one of our favorites here at ChiIL Live Shows/ChiIL Mama. We totally dug Luna del Rey, and the hairy short they performed with Barrel of Monkeys, That's Weird Chicago.

This endlessly inventive group of Chicago artists, uses disarmingly simple tools - live music, paper puppets, overhead projectors - to tell transformative stories. Their enchanting works unsettle the boundaries between cinema and theater.

With Mementos Mori, their new feature-length performance of cinematic shadow puppetry, Manual Cinema offers a beguiling meditation on how digital culture is changing our relationship to death and dying. Mementos Mori weaves together three interrelated stories about death and technology. After she steals a pocket watch from her grandmother's mysterious visitor, five-year-old Melba sees visions of dying birds. A washed-up TV host with heart problems, Mel finds unexpected romance in the arms of a bewitching stranger. And bike messenger, Marie, finds herself playing a life-or-death chess match with a dangerous opponent.

Shadow puppets interact with live actors in silhouette, while a chamber ensemble and video complete the immersive multimedia experience, imbuing the experience of attending a movie with a live theatrical immediacy.

Mementos Mori was commissioned by MCA Stage. Manual Cinema ( was provided an eight-day production residency at the MCA culminating with a Work-In-Progress showing this past August.


Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions present

Nick Steur in Freeze!

Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave.

Wednesday, January 14-Sunday, January 25

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, January 14-16 at 6 p.m.; Saturday, January 17 at 1:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, January 18 at 1:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, January 20-22 at 6:30 p.m.; Friday, January 23 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 24 at 1:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, January 25 at 1:30 p.m.


30 minutes

Creator and performer Nick Steur ( welcomes audiences as he artfully balances stones without glue or other manipulations.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents the U.S. premiere of this one-of-a-kind live performance event from The Netherlands. Winner of the Edinburgh Fringe First award in 2013, Freeze! blurs the line between performer and audience as all collectively experience the unexplainable harmony that comes from balance and focus. 

The Scotsman declared, "occasionally a show appears that has a poise, an authority, an inner strength so profound that it takes a rushing, hyperactive audience and moves it into a completely different place...slowing its heartbeats, making it pause, changing the way it breathes and sees. Nick Steur's remarkable performance is one of those rare and beautiful shows."



The Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago presents

Sandglass Theater's D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks

The Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.

Two performances: Friday and Saturday, January 16 and 17, 7 p.m.

1 hour 10 minutes


A piece about play, joy, and communication. A piece about dementia. From playful story circles to dark private terror, from lyrical inner visions to demanding confrontations, from the reflections of caregivers to the fragmented memories of residents of care facilities, D-Generation evokes a complex world of people living with dementia.

D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks is a full-length theater piece based on stories written collaboratively by groups of people with late-stage dementia. The work is performed by three puppeteers (the caregivers) and five puppets (the residents of a care-facility). Set to a compelling original score and striking animated video segments, D-Generation takes us into a world that is all too much a part of our lives.

The collected stories were gathered by performers at Vermont's Sandglass Theater ( during 20 visits to care facilities, during which circles of people with dementia were guided through a collective story-making method called Timeslips. These stories reveal a humor, and playfulness, as well as the dark reality of the disease. They stand on their own as dramatic material from a remarkable source.

The Field Museum presents

Dozin' with the Dinos

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.

Friday, January 16, 5:30 p.m. to Saturday, January 17, 9 a.m.

$55-$88; Pre-registration required. No tickets sold at the door.

For families with children 6 to 12. Adult-only parties are not permitted. 
All ages

Spend the night at The Field Museum - Sue the T. rex is having a special, puppetry-filled sleepover! Bring the family for puppet shows, activities and self-guided tours, then spread your sleeping bag amidst some of the most popular exhibitions. Enjoy a night of puppetry and fun you'll never forget at Chicago's Field Museum (, one of the largest natural history museums in the world.  

The Field Museum presents
Open Mic Puppets
Hosted by Jabberwocky Marionettes
The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Saturday, January 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
General Admission tickets ($13-$18) includes Open Mic Puppets program
All ages

Chicago's Jabberwocky Marionettes hosts a startling array of area puppeteers-young and old, professional and amateur, solo and ensemble-who perform family-focused puppet shows throughout the day on one of two stages at The Field Museum. 

Puppeteers will include Adventure Sandwich, Clothespin Puppets, Sea Beast Puppet Company, Puppetfolk Productions!, Matteson Public Library Puppet Pals and Mother Goose and her Ventriloquist Puppets. Join the Jabberwocky Marionettes at the end of the day as they lead visitors on a spectacular puppet-filled parade throughout the museum! Check for information.

The Field Museum presents

Chinese Theater Works' Rich in Tradition - Chinese Shadow Puppets

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.

One performance: Saturday, January 17, 3 p.m.

50 minutes

Free with General Admission ticket ($13-$18) 
All Ages

Street theaters and festivals in China featuring shadow puppets can be traced back for hundreds of years. The stories within these traditional performances are. Don't miss a unique opportunity to see this beautiful tradition come to life in a shadow puppetry performance by renowned New York-based Chinese Theatre Works (CTW). Featured works will take inspiration from The Field Museum's own shadow puppet collection and will include famous stories like Monkey King and Journey to the West, which is still performed today.

Chinese Theatre Works ( was created in 2001 out of the merger of two non-profit institutions with long histories of bringing traditional and innovative, contemporary Chinese performing arts to local New York City, national and international audiences - The Gold Mountain Institute for Traditional Shadow Theater (GMI) and Chinese Theatre Workshop.

CTW has won the highest honor in U.S. puppetry, a Citation of Excellence from UNIMA-USA, for their show Toy Theater Peony Pavilion. The company has also been featured at many festivals and conferences around the world, including Puppet Power in Calgary, Canada; the DALA Festival (Seoul, South Korea); Taipei Children's Theater Association's Festival (Taiwan); and The Shanghai First International Puppet Festival.



The Art Institute of Chicago presents

Family Festival: Puppets!

Art Institute of Chicago, Ryan Education Center, Modern Wing entrance,

159 E. Monroe St.

Saturday, January 17, 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.

See performances of Bullooney Puppetworks' Rikki Tikki Tavi at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Interactive family gallery tours at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.*

All Ages

Explore the world of puppets at a drop-in festival for all ages.Visit Puppets!, an interactive installation in the Ryan Education Center where you can create a story and act it out with hand-made puppets inspired by artwork in the museum's collection and the special exhibit Temptation: The Demons of James Ensor. Create your own puppets in a workshop and perform a show for your family and friends. Enjoy the museum on an interactive gallery tour at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.

Don't miss Bullooney Puppetworks' adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's classic short story Rikki Tikki Tavi, told using hand puppets, rod puppets and masks within a lush landscape of leaves, trees and original music. Performances are at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., but space is limited. Free tickets will be distributed in the Ryan Education Center an hour prior to each performance.

Note:  In addition to Saturday's Family Festival, Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival-goers are encouraged to stop by the Puppets! exhibition anytime during the festival. Puppets! debuts in the Art Institute of Chicago's Ryan Education Center on December 6, and is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Thursday nights until 8 p.m.) Admission is free.

*Proof of museum admission or an Art Institute member card is required for adults and children age 14 and over.


Chicago Humanities Festival and Adventure Stage Chicago co-present

Laurent Bigot in Le Petit Cirque (The Little Circus)

Adventure Stage Chicago, Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St.

Four performances: Saturday and Sunday, January 17 and 18, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

45 minutes


Within a circus-like, table-top installation, electroacoustic musician Laurent Bigot sets various objects in motion. A "circus of sound" and a theater of objects, Le Petit Cirque is made from odds and ends, salvaged material and cheap gadgets. Action nourishes sound, and sound gives new meaning to action, via improvisation and the chance of mechanics. 

The piece explores two distinct and interacting concepts. The first is how stereotypical circus imagery alters one's perception of the performance's musical aspect. The second, and more abstract, is how sound allows the spectator to see these theatrical situations from a different perspective. The spectator skips from one point of view to another, engaging ears, eyes, skin, imagination, and thought associations.

A composer, sound artist, and musician based in Grenoble, France, Laurent Bigot develops his ideas through his own explorations or through collaboration with musicians, dancers, filmmakers, writers, actors, and visual artists. As a saxophonist, he plays with Musicabrass, an open-air orchestra that engages with the environment. As an electroacoustician and a tinkerer, he composes in the studio and plays on stage, using various analog devices, with a fondness for live sound creation. Visit

Supported in part by the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago.


Links Hall presents

Nasty, Brutish & Short Presents...

Curated by Links Hall Artistic Associates Taylor Bibat and Mike Oleon

Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave.

Seven performances: Saturday, January 17-Saturday, January 24

Run times vary

$8-$15; $30 NASTYPASS

Links Hall presents eight days of short and medium works of puppetry highlighting Chicago's rich experimental puppet scene. 

Titled Nasty, Brutish & Short Presents... is a buffet of the dark and twisty, humorous, tender and everything in between. Ranging from a ludicrous and sublime toy theater adaptation of Beowulf with 100 + Vikings to  trick marionettes and their circus act encompassing tight rope walking and roller skating. 

The series culminates Saturday, January 24 with the Late Night International Puppet Slam featuring riskier short-form work from the festival's visiting artists from around the world and a closing party at Constellation Bar.

This fest within the fest expands on Nasty, Brutish & Short (NBS), the wildly popular quarterly cabaret of contemporary puppetry, supporting new works by some of Chicago's most innovative puppeteers since 2011 at Links Hall. 

Jammed packed with local puppet heroes and brilliant newcomers (*recommended for adults only): 

Saturday, January 17, 1 p.m.  
Snorf! by Noah Ginex Puppet Company
All ages 

Snorf! (The Saturday Afternoon Monster and Piggie/Comedy Variety Show) is an all-ages monthly variety show. Featuring puppets from the Jeff Award nominated Noah Ginex Puppet Company (, Snorf! has sketches, improvised scenes, songs and a special guest TBA.


Sunday, January 18, 1 p.m.  
Stars on Strings by Dave Herzog's Marionettes/The Dunworth Puppets 
All ages 

This features beautifully hand crafted trick marionettes, including marionettes that roller skate, perform on the tight rope and trapeze, transform, juggle, and much more in the traditional cabaret style with the puppeteers in full view of the audience.

Dave Herzog ( has been a puppet artist for more than 40 years and is Great Lakes Regional Director of the Puppeteers of America. Marc Dunworth grew up with a father as a magician, created his own degree in puppetry at Columbia College Chicago, has worked in Chicago and abroad, and formed The Dunworth Puppets ( in 2014.

Sunday, January 18, 7:30 p.m.  
Nasty, Brutish & Short: A Puppet Cabaret*
featuring VonOrthal Puppets, Sea Beast Puppet Company, Jessica Simon and Hearts and Brains

Using hand, rod and Bunraku puppets, shadow play and music, A White Heron is VonOrthal Puppets' ( interpretation of the classic short story by Sarah Orne Jewett exploring the relationship between society and nature through the experience of a little country girl, Sylvia.

Sea Beast Puppet Company ( presents Best Day Ever. It's a beautiful day when Tom leaves the dock for a relaxing day of sailing. Hopefully it stays that way in this shadow puppet comedy. In Mermaids, Sam Clam's Oyster bar is proud to present the one...the only...the incomparable...Miss Sandy Bottoms. And in Another Man's Treasure, technology and life meet face to face in this table top short about making do with what you have and finding what you need.

Jessica Simon presents Ruby and Charlie, a work-in-progress presentation of a glimpse into the lives of two people falling in and out of love, inspired by the music of Ray Charles.

Hearts and Brains presents Beowulf vs. Grendel (A 25-minute toy theater cavalcade of wonder), a mead-soaked, toy theater exploration of the classic epic poem Beowulf.  With a cast of three humans and over a hundred Vikings, Hearts and Brains, also known as Lacy Katherine Campbell, takes on what it means to be a hero or a monster in a show that is visually as sublime as it is ludicrous. Highly optional sing-along included.

Monday, January 19, 7:30 p.m
Nasty, Brutish & Short: A Puppet Cabaret*
featuring VonOrthal Puppets, Sea Beast Puppet Company, Jessica Simon and Hearts and Brains
See previous description

Tuesday, January 20, 7:30 p.m.  
Drunken Half-Angel by Michael Montenegro

A presentation accompanied by live music of several new puppet theatre pieces by Evanston puppet artist and collaborator Michael Montenegro, founder of Theatre Zarko: Puppet Symbolist Theatre (

Wednesday, January 21, 7:30 p.m.  
Nasty, Brutish & Short: A Puppet Cabaret*
featuring Joe Mazza, Rough House, Vanessa Valliere and Meredith Miller

Joe Mazza ( presents The Hubrist, a grandiloquent farce of tiny proportion, and a continuation of the earlier epic picaresque, The Hyperbolist.

Rough House Theater ( presents And Dream of Teeth, employing the highest technologies available to them - namely glue, paper, flashlights and fabric - to dive into the psyche of the Dreamer.

Chicago performer, deviser, clown and Mucca Pazza nerd-cheerleader Vanessa Valliere presents Nice Try, about a sweet song, a high wire circus snail, and maybe a tiny bit of murder, and Your Best Self, the story of a woman who attends a leadership conference where she surprises herself by dreaming all of her biggest dreams. Love, food,

Chicago-based performance artist and cabaret singer Meredith Miller ( presents Cabaret Interludes,employing her unique fusion of costumes and puppetry to tell three short tales of love, seduction, and heartbreak.

Thursday, January 22, 7:30 p.m.
Nasty, Brutish & Short: A Puppet Cabaret* 
featuring Joe Mazza, Rough House, Vanessa Valliere and Meredith Miller
See previous description

Friday, January 23, 7:30 p.m.  
Drunken Half-Angel by Michael Montenegro
See previous description


Saturday, January 24, 1 p.m.   
The Joshua Show 
All ages

When Mr. Nicholas, the sock puppet, makes an unnerving self-discovery that causes him to spiral down a path of loneliness and despair, his soul mate Joshua teaches him to celebrate his differences in this show full of songs, comedy, whimsy, abundant joy, and just a smattering of tap dancing. 

Don't miss this chance to see the show awarded "Best Performance" and "Audience Favorite" at the 2013 Puppeteers of America's National Festival. Described by the Boston Globe as "a modern day Mr. Rogers with hipster appeal," Joshua Holden ( is an award winning puppeteer actor and joy-maker based in NYC, recently seen on the Broadway national tour of Avenue Q.

Saturday, January 24, 10:30 p.m.  
Late Night International Puppet Slam*

The Late Night International Puppet Slam is an opportunity for puppeteers presenting at other Festival venues to try out riskier, short-form work for an audience who may or may not be drinking beer. The Late Night Slam will be followed by a closing party at Constellation Bar.


The Neo-Futurists present

Modern Toy Theatre of David Commander

at The Neo-Futurists, 5153 N Ashland Ave.

Three performances: Thursday, January 22-Saturday, January 24, 7:30 p.m.

60 minutes


The Neo-Futurists present Modern Toy Theatre of David Commander. The first piece by this New York-based artist is named In Flight, which mocks the market of mis-focusing information and our potential for mass apathy, and questions what it is as a species that allows us to look the other way. The story begins on an airplane that is crashing. We join the passengers of the doomed vessel as the crew saturates them with fast-paced, numbing entertainment and advertising in an attempt to distract them from their imminent doom. We watch the crew use commercials for Sky Mall products, and a talk show that is a demonic blend of 'Oprah' and 'Ellen' to cull the passengers into being distracted from their fate in flames that is only moments away.

Next, Commander moves to the miniature sets of Sacrament Burger, which focuses on our disconnection from the function and value of food and how that detachment contributes to the waste of nearly half of all food produced globally. It also explores the inherent need to ritualize the act of eating and how this ceremony is performed within restaurant culture.

For the last 14 years David Commander ( has been a member of Big Art Group, a NYC theater company dedicated to building culturally transgressive and challenging new works through using the language of media and blended states of performance. In addition, David has written, directed and performed in his own works: PIGGY 1.5 (2006 NYC International Fringe Festival), Machine World Gospel (2007 Philadelphia Fringe Festival), and since 2011 he has developed and performed several modern toy theater works in New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and The TBA Festival in Portland, Oregon.



MCA Stage presents

Stan's Cafe's The Cardinals

Museum of Contemporary Art, Edlis Neelson Theater, 220 E. Chicago Ave.

Three performances: Thursday, January 22-Saturday, January 24, 7:30 p.m.

$28; $22 museum members; $10 students

In this thought-provoking, witty, and hugely entertaining show, three Cardinals in crimson robes are on an evangelical mission. They're touring a puppet show to broaden knowledge of the Bible, undeterred by the loss of their puppets they take to the miniature stage themselves amid the two dimensional scenery and act their roles with touching deadpan sincerity. Conflicts ebb and flow as a young female Muslim stage manager supports their efforts and the show races through scenes from the Cardinals' take on major Bible stories from creation to the crucifixion and on to the crusades before arriving in the present-day Middle East.

From the British company Stan's Cafe, The Cardinals draws humor from its engaging performances and ingenious staging, which expose frenetic backstage efforts to create beautiful onstage action. Almost wordless, with witty and ingenious practical effects, which allow miracles to be performed on stage, the show looks at how religion can frame our worldview. Though playful, almost childlike throughout, The Cardinals is underpinned with a steely rigor that is exposed in the show's final shocking 'Revelation'.

While theater often asks its audiences to suspend their disbelief, the cardinals ask them simply to believe. "Our show does not seek to take sides in any religious debate. Instead we hope to prompt people to consider afresh their relationship to religious faith," say the artists from Stan's Cafe (


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, as part of its OnEdge performance series, presents

Daniel Barrow in The Thief of Mirrors

Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St.

Two performances: Thursday and Friday, January 22 and 23, 7:30 p.m.

1 hour

Free, no reservations required

Since the early 90s, Daniel Barrow has developed a unique style of "manual" animation, layering and manipulating his intricate drawings on overhead projectors. 

With The Thief of Mirrors, Barrow returns to Chicago with a world premiere, the story of a jewel thief who wears the mask of a sad clown. His deep, emotive eyes charge the mask with supernatural powers-so captivating is his expression that his gaze can permanently inscribe his visage in the glass. The Thief of Mirrors pays homage to the classic archetype of the "Kissing Bandit"- the cat burglar who creeps into women's homes, collects their jewelry, and kisses them in their sleep, leaving them both violated and charmed. Exploring forgotten sexual mores and kitschy characters, Barrow walks the razor edge of irony, challenging systems of class and control in our culture.

Winnipeg-born, Montreal-based artist Daniel Barrow ( has exhibited widely in Canada and abroad. He has performed at The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), PS1 Contemporary Art Center (New York), The Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), The International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art's TBA festival, and the British Film Institute's London Film Festival. Barrow is the winner of the 2010 Sobey Art Award - Canada's largest prize for young Canadian artists - and the 2013 Glenfiddich Artist-In-Residence Prize.


 WIN 4 Tickets To The Selfish Giant
Enter HERE

Chicago Children's Theatre presents

Blair Thomas & Co.'s production of The Selfish Giant

Chicago Children's Theatre at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts,

1016 N. Dearborn St.

Five festival performances: Friday, January 23-Sunday, January 25

Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Approximately 50 minutes

$28 children; $38 adults; $5 off with promo code PUPPET
(production runs through February 22) 
All ages

The Selfish Giant, a musical spectacle created for Chicago Children's Theatre by two Chicago theater icons - Blair Thomas and Michael Smith - is based on Oscar Wilde's classic story about a grumpy giant who forbids children from playing in his garden. After the children are locked out, the trees and flowers refuse to grow and the garden plunges into an eternal winter. Then one morning, the children sneak back into the garden, bringing with them the joyous rebirth of spring.

Featuring original puppets and music, The Selfish Giant is enormously imaginative, gigantically whimsical, and is sure to thrill children and giants of all ages. The production is one of the festival's closing weekend presentations, but kicks off Chicago Children's Theatre's full run of the The Selfish Giant through February 22. 

Blair Thomas & Co. ( is a national and international touring puppet theater company founded in 2002 by puppeteer and director/designer Blair Thomas.


The University of Chicago's Theater and Performance Studies program presents

In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre's Mortal City

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. - Theater West
Two performances: Friday, January 23 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, January 24 at 9 p.m.
$15 general public; $5 students

Inspired by singer-songwriter Dar William's song of the same title, Mortal City uses music and visual imagery to puppeteer a poem of a city. Set during an ice storm at night, Mortal City explores creating and finding the warm pulse of the city in its layered soundscape, fragile infrastructure, simple light, and periwinkle winter skies. 

In the Heart of the Beast Theatre (, based in Minneapolis, has been at the vanguard of theater melding performance with the rich history of puppetry from its shamanistic roots and lively street theater traditions to the imaginative performance language found in experimental theater. Rooted in an aspect of ceremony and celebration, whether it be narrative, episodic, or the award winning annual MayDay Parade and Festival, HOBT invites audiences to a theater of wonder that gives voice to under-represented communities and perspectives and draws together diverse communities to address local and global issues and celebrate our shared humanity. 


The University of Chicago's Theater and Performance Studies program presents In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre's Cartooon

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. - Theater East
Two performances: Friday, January 23 at 9 p.m.; Saturday, January 24 at 7 p.m.
$15 general public; $5 students

A live-action, 3D cartoon performed by a cast of 15, Cartooon introduces audiences to the fictional animated program Tummy da Talking Turtle Sucks on Piano Keys, created by Earl Dives and Gerry 'Crackjaw' Sanders while sharpening their lumberjack axes in the fall of 1940. 

Knowing nothing about animation, children, or public decency, the two cobbled together obscure Bible passages about dynamite and ran them over a flip book of crude drawings of Gerry's penis talking that they then put teeth on to resemble a crocodile. One episode of the show was created. It was a failure. This is that episode.


The University of Chicago's Theater and Performance Studies program presents FlipFlap Productions' The Temp
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. - Performance Lab (501)
Two performances: Friday, January 23-Saturday, January 24, 7:30 pm
60 minutes
$15 general public; $5 students

Presented by The University of Chicago's Theater and Performance Studies program, The Temp is a darkly comic tale exploring the life of an over-age temp who wants to be anything else. Told with music, puppets, and video, The Temp confronts demons, strangers, and the eternal search for the bathroom. This piece was developed in part through a residency with the Chicago Performance Lab.

FlipFlap Productions ( is home to a collective of comedy writers and musicians who create story-driven theater focused on original expression of modern stories. Founded in 2013 with a goal of stretching the boundaries of what makes a comedy show, FlipFlap explores people and places that aren't normally seen on stage in a weirdly natural, weirdly believable, weirdly weird way.



The University of Chicago's Theater and Performance Studies program and the Logan Center for the Arts present Logan Center Family Saturday Festival: Puppets!

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St.
Saturday, January 24, Noon to 5 p.m.
$5; $20 for families of 5 or more
All ages   

The Logan Center's monthly family series will draw inspiration from the world's puppet and mask traditions with a family-friendly performance of Heart of the Beast's Cartooon at 2 p.m., plus drop-in-activities, a photo booth, a "Make and Take" puppet workshop, and a "Puppet Zoo" with House Theatre, FlipFlap Productions, Heart of the Beast, Adventure Stage and more.


Volkenburg Puppetry Symposium

Saturday January 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E Chicago Ave.

Free and open to the public

This international symposium brings together artists from Manual Cinema, Blind Summit, Stan's Cafe and others with invited scholars from diverse fields to investigate the meaning, vitality and relevance of contemporary puppetry.  At once cutting to the heart of puppetry and seeking its broadest significance, participants will address questions such as:  How do we attach identity to a face? How do we perceive realness and fakeness?  Where do we find meaning in materiality?

Conceived and organized by Blair Thomas (Artistic Director, Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival), Leslie Danzig (Curator, Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry) and Sarah Fornace (Co-Artistic Director, Manual Cinema), this day-long event will be of interest to artists and thinkers from any discipline with an interest in the creative pursuit of inquiry and the tension between ideas and practice.

Presented by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry in partnership with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Check for more details on participants, schedule for the day and registration information.

The new Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is intended to be a bi-annual event to establish Chicago as a prominent center for the art of puppetry practices by artists in the world today. Led by Artistic Director Blair Thomas, the festival builds on the city's hunger for high quality international theater work, while at the same time harnessing the spirit of collaboration with established local presenters: 

The inaugural festival is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Reva & David Logan Family Foundation, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Jentes Family Foundation, with additional in-kind support from the League of Chicago Theatres.


The Official Hotel of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival - the Warwick Allerton Hotel Chicago, 701 N. Michigan Ave. in downtown Chicago - is pleased to offer festival attendees and their guests a discounted rate of $82 per night (plus tax). To secure this discount, call toll free, (877) 701-8111, call the Warwick Allerton directly at (312) 440-1500, or enter discount code PUPPT11515 online at

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