Showing posts with label Bald Sisters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bald Sisters. Show all posts

Saturday, January 7, 2023

REVIEW: Steppenwolf Theatre Company's World Premiere of Bald Sisters Now Extended Through January 21, 2023

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company extends its world premiere of

Bald Sisters

Francesca Fernandez McKenzie and Jennifer Lim
Photo Credit for all: Michael Brosilow

By Vichet Chum

Directed by Jesca Prudencio


Now Playing Through January 21, 2023 in Steppenwolf’s new in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell

Francesca Fernandez McKenzie and Wai Ching Ho 


By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

Bald Sisters is poignant, powerful, must-see theatre. This wonderful world premiere is both universal enough to be easily relatable and deeply personal, steeped with Cambodian heritage. There's abundant humor and plenty of quirky human nature moments to make this production enjoyable, despite the serious tone of the subject matter which covers maternal death, past trauma, refugee life, infidelity, cancer treatments, stillbirth, and complicated multicultural family dynamics.  

Wai Ching Ho and Jennifer Lim 

Jennifer Lim and Francesca Fernandez McKenzie 

It's a joy to see Vichet Chum's multilayered writing come to life on stage in the capable hands of this stellar cast. Wai Ching Ho steals the show before and after her death, as the cute, feisty, Asian matriarch. The sisters' dynamic is also a joy to see as well, as they navigate funeral arrangements, different religions or lack thereof, and conflicting ideas of what their mother's unwritten wishes actually were. It's glorious to see so many strong, opinionated women take the lead in this storyline.

We enjoyed the creative set design and staging in Steppenwolf's new theatre in the round space, well suited for this style of intimate storytelling. It's heartening to see more refugee experiences and first generation immigrant stories on stage. Excellent ensemble work all around. Highly recommended. ★★★★ Four out of four stars. 

Wai Ching Ho and Francesca Fernandez McKenzie

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

Francesca Fernandez McKenzie and Jennifer Lim 

Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the nation’s premier ensemble theater company, is pleased to announce an added week of performances for its world premiere of Vichet Chum’s Bald Sisters, now extended through January 21, 2023 in Steppenwolf’s stunning new in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell, the centerpiece of its recently unveiled Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, 1650 N. Halsted St. in Chicago.

Directed by Jesca Prudencio, this brazen, comic examination of the ties that bind multigenerational families of immigrants together features Francesca Fernandez McKenzie, Coburn Goss, Wai Ching Ho, Jennifer Lim and Nima Rakhshanifar.

Single tickets ($20 - $84) for all Bald Sisters performances are now on sale at and the Box Office at 312-335-1650.

Ma is dead; now what happens? Vichet Chum’s world premiere follows two sisters – at odds since birth – as they settle the affairs of their strong-willed, wise-cracking mother while reconciling their family’s Cambodian heritage with its ever-so-complicated American present. Where’s the will? A burial or cremation? And what happens with Ma’s teeth? Bald Sisters is an irreverent, comic and ultimately poignant examination of the ties that bind multigenerational families of immigrants together: history, spirituality and humor. 


Production Information

Ticket information: Single tickets ($20 - $84) for all performances are now on sale at and the Box Office at (312) 335-1650. Steppenwolf 2022-23 Flex Memberships are also currently available: Black Card Memberships with six tickets for use any time for any production and Red Card Memberships for theatergoers under 30.  

The production team includes Andrew Boyce (Scenic Design), Izumi Inaba (Costume Design), Stacey Derosier (Lighting Design), Pornchanok Kanchanabanca (Sound Design & Original Music), Mike Tutaj (Projection Design), Gigi Buffington (Company Voice & Text Coach), Tom Pearl (Producing Director), JC Clementz, CSA (Casting Director), Laura D. Glenn (Production Stage Manager) and Jaclynn Joslin (Assistant Stage Manager). 

Artistic Biographies

Francesca Fernandez McKenzie (Sophea) Steppenwolf Theatre Company debut. Off-Broadway: ...what the end will be (u/s Roundabout Theatre Company), Gloria: A Life (Daryl Roth Theatre); Kenny's Tavern (59E59); Sorry Not Sorry (Ars Nova ANTFEST); Love: Medea (Center at Park West). Regional: Twelfth Night (KC Rep); Good Person of Szechwan (CalShakes); Nanay (Magic Theatre); SYZRGY (Two Rivers Theatre); Lily's Revenge (Southern Rep); Sheddin' (Horizon Theatre); Hotel Plays (Provincetown Players); and more. Film: Mooshrooms, Arcadia, Facetime, The Hardest Part. Television: Blue Bloods, Locker Room Series, PBS’ Great Performances recording of Gloria: A Life. Education: Yale MFA Acting. @cheskamckenzie

Jennifer Lim and Coburn Goss 

Coburn Goss (Nate) Steppenwolf Theatre Company: Fake, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, The Royal Family, The Burials, Absolution. Off Broadway: When the Messenger Is Hot. Chicago: The Crowd You’re In With, Vigils (Goodman Theatre); The Diary of Anne Frank, Seagull (Writers Theatre); Freud’s Last Session (CRC/Mercury Theatre); Chimerica (Timeline Theatre). Regional: The Crucible (Asolo Repertory Theatre); The Last True Believer (Seattle Repertory Theatre). Film: Widows, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, The Lucky Ones, Once Upon a River, What Women Want. Television: The Red Line, neXt, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, The Mob Doctor, Boss, Empire, Chicago Code, E/R, Prison Break. He co-wrote and produced the upcoming film All Happy Families.

Wai Ching Ho and Francesca Fernandez McKenzie

Wai Ching Ho (Ma) Steppenwolf Theatre Company debut. Chicago: Night Watch (Goodman Theatre), Off Broadway: Snow In Midsummer (Classic Stage Company); Endlings (New York Theatre Workshop); Henry VI, Ah, Wilderness (NAATCO); No Foreigners Beyond This Point, The Square (Ma-Yi Theater Company); Joy Luck Club, Carry The Tiger To The Mountain, Legacy Codes, A Song For A Nisei Fisherman (Pan Asian Rep). Regional: A.R.T., Long Wharf Theatre, Denver Center Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Palo Theatre Works. Film: Turning Red, Hustlers, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Robot Stories. Television: Daredevil, Iron Fist, The Defenders, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens, New Amsterdam, Fresh Off the Boat, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order SVU.

Coburn Goss and Jennifer Lim

Jennifer Lim (Him) Steppenwolf Theatre Company debut. Chicago: Chinglish (Jeff Award Nomination – Best Actress, Chicago Theater Critic’s Beat Nomination - Best Actress), The World of Extreme Happiness (Goodman Theatre). Broadway: Chinglish (Theater World Award – Outstanding Broadway Debut, IASNY Trophy for Excellence, Drama Desk Nom –  Outstanding Actress). Off Broadway: Fefu & Her Friends (TFANA); Usual Girls (Roundabout Theatre Company); Caught (PlayCo); Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb); The World of Extreme Happiness (Manhattan Theatre Club); The Urban Retreat (Public Theater); Golden Child (Signature Theatre Company). Television/Film: New Amsterdam, Prodigal Son, Jessica Jones, Instinct, High Maintenance, Hell on Wheels, POI, Elementary, The Good Wife, A Naked Singularity, The Savages, The Stand-In, 27 Dresses. Education: Yale School of Drama.

Francesca Fernandez McKenzie and Nima Rakhshanifar

Nima Rakhshanifar (Seth) Steppenwolf Theatre Company debut. Chicago: ShortShakes! Comedy of Errors (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Waiting for Godot (Victory Gardens Theater); Cat in the Hat (Northbrook Theater). Regional: Andy Warhol in Iran (Barrington Stage Company); A Christmas Carol, Junk, Guards at the Taj (u/s), Christmas at Pemberley (u/s) (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); Hotter than Egypt (u/s) (ACT Seattle); The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Freaky Friday (PCPA). Upcoming: Sanctuary City (TheatreSquared). Education: PCPA - Pacific Conservatory Theatre.

Vichet Chum (Playwright) is a Cambodian American playwright, actor and novelist living in NYC. Bald Sisters is his first time working at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, though he vividly remembers seeing The Pillowman directed by Amy Morton on a college theatre trip many moons ago. He cannot actually believe his lucky stars. He is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award, an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and the Laurents/Hatcher Award. He currently serves as a board member for the New Harmony Project, a curator for Space on Ryder Farm and a steering committee member for the Asian American Performers Action Coalition. Play groups (current and past) include Ars Nova, Page 73 and Space on Ryder Farm. He is presently working on commissions for Audible, Steppenwolf Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Merrimack Repertory Theatre and Seattle Children’s Theatre. Chum is a proud graduate of the University of Evansville and Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company. 

Jesca Prudencio (Director) is a director and choreographer dedicated to developing new theatrical works that humanize issues nationally and internationally. Upcoming: Dot Dot Dot (TheatreWorks USA), Exotic Deadly; or the MSG Play (The Old Globe). Recent: King Liz (Geffen Playhouse), Can We Now? (La Jolla Playhouse WoW Fest), It’s a Ship Show! (Virgin Voyages), Interstate (Mixed Blood, East West Players). Other credits: The Great Leap by Lauren Yee (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Vietgone, Actually (San Diego Rep); Calling (La MaMa ETC); Man of God (East West Players); A&Q (Pineapple Lab, Philippines); FAN (B-Floor, Thailand). Jesca has developed new work at MCC Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Arena Stage, NAMT and La MaMa. She is a recipient of The Drama League Fellowship and the inaugural Julie Taymor World Theater Fellowship. Jesca is head of directing at SDSU where she is an Associate Professor. BFA: NYU Tisch, MFA: UC San Diego.


The Expanded Steppenwolf Campus

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s trailblazing new 50,000 square foot theater building and education center, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, was designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, with construction by Norcon. The centerpiece of the new Arts and Education Center is the new 400-seat in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell—one of its kind in Chicago—with theater design and acoustics by Charcoalblue.

The expanded Steppenwolf campus is a cultural nexus for Chicago, offering bold and ambitious opportunities for creative expression, social exchange, unparalleled accessibility, and arts-driven learning for Chicago youth in The Loft, Steppenwolf’s first-ever dedicated education space. The campus expansion also features bright new lobbies and two new full-service bars for socializing designed by fc STUDIO, inc. The $54 million new building is part of Steppenwolf’s multi-phase $73 million Building on Excellence expansion campaign. Learn more about Steppenwolf’s campus expansion at


A Safe Return

As the Chicago theatre community continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Steppenwolf Theatre remains committed to the safety of its patrons and staff. For the most up-to-date information on our venue’s COVID precautions, please visit



Steppenwolf offers accessible services to ensure all audience members have access to our work, including American Sign Language interpretation, Spanish Language captions, wheelchair accessible seating and more. With questions, email

Bald Sisters is generously supported in part by the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation and is the recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf is also grateful for the significant season support from Northern Trust, Allstate Insurance Company, Amazon, ComEd, Conagra Brands Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, PNC and Vinci Restaurant. Steppenwolf also acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Chicago theater that is home to America’s ensemble. The company began performing in the mid-1970s in the basement of a Highland Park, IL church—today Steppenwolf is the nation’s premier ensemble theater with 49 members who are among the top actors, playwrights and directors in the field. Deeply rooted in its ensemble ethos, the company is committed to equity, diversity, inclusion and making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to all. Groundbreaking productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to Downstate and Pass Over—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony® Awards—have made the theatre legendary. Artistic programming includes a main stage season; a Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; LookOut, a multi-genre performance series; and the Steppenwolf NOW virtual stage. The nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf Education engages more than 20,000 participants annually in Chicagoland communities promoting compassion, encouraging curiosity and inspiring action. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, more than 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. 2021 marked the opening of Steppenwolf’s landmark Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts & Education Center—deepening the company’s commitment to Chicagoland teens and serving as a cultural nexus for Chicago. Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis are the Artistic Directors and E. Brooke Flanagan is Executive Director. Keating Crown is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees.

Steppenwolf’s Mission: Steppenwolf strives to create thrilling, courageous and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. We succeed when we disrupt your routine with experiences that spark curiosity, empathy and joy. 

We invite you to join our ensemble as we navigate, together, our complex world.,, and        


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