Showing posts with label Guest Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest Review. Show all posts

Sunday, July 24, 2022

REVIEW: Queer Eye: The Musical Parody Now Playing at The Second City in Chicago

 ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Queer Eye: The Musical Parody

at The Second City in Chicago 


By Catherine Hellmann, Guest Critic 

My older daughter and I loved to watch the original “Queer Eye” when she was in high school. She’s now been finished with grad school about ten years. Yeah, we’re talking 2003. I’m wondering why bother to skewer an outdated show? Well, a new “Queer Eye” debuted in 2018 with a different cast who are mimicked perfectly in this funny production at Second City. My cynicism was won over. The talented cast have high energy, fun dance moves, and great voices which add to their over-the-top performances and drive the momentum of the show. I’ve been dragging my new-to-Chicago sister to a LOT of theater, and she said this was one of her favorites. 

The poor sap (victim!) being made over is “Sam,”(Bryson Howard) who lives in his mom’s basement, was breastfed until he was 9 (ewww…), plays “Fortnite,” and “is unemployed but an aspiring puppetteer.” This prize of manhood is adored by his childhood friend Claire, played with goofy enthusiasm by Bridget Adams-King (who has an astounding voice). Of course, Sam is too clueless to realize that Claire has a tremendous crush on him. (hysterical puppet scene a la “Avenue Q” late in the show).      

While being made over, Sam # 1 transforms into Sam # 2, played by the charismatic Jordan Dell Harris. One of the big improvements is switching out Sam’s ugly t-shirt; even his mother tells him,”This shirt says, ‘You’re a virgin.’”

Or as the fashionista (Tina Arfaee) sings: “Straight men’s clothes bring me to tears. They look like they haven’t shopped in years.” 

There are ongoing jokes that the home makeover guy has to perform the most work, with Eddie Ledford as Bobby nearly having a nervous breakdown about needing to redo an entire living space. The other members of the “Fab Five” get off pretty easy with their tasks, especially the “Culture” guy, Karamo (Evan Tyrone Martin). My daughter and I always pondered exactly what the hell his role contributed. Here, Karamo sings how he doesn’t know what to do when it’s his segment. (“I got nothin’!”) 

My sister’s favorite Fab Five was the grooming/hairdresser Jonathan, played with relish by Evan Starkweather. His comic timing and reactions were spot-on. They were funny as he delivered them, but I later watched an episode of the new “Queer Eye,” and he is channeling the hairdresser on the show. (“Are we about to bond?”) 

My personal fave was the food guy, Antoni, played by the adorable (and hot!) Dominic Rescigno. He confesses that he is the “eye candy” of the show and asks when can he take his shirt off? Loved his cooking segment in his “Kiss the Cok” apron! (and avocado puppets!) 

Dakota Hughes got a huge cheer from the crowd with her rousing song imploring Sam to move out of her house! She and Adams-King both had two roles with lots of back-and-forth costume changes. One of the funniest bits was when their characters asked where their other characters were and made a hasty excuse of, “Uhhhh…She’s busy.” 

None of the show is possible without the tremendous talent of Music Director/Composer/Lyricist/Orchestrator Heidi Joosten. She keeps it all together. I could hardly believe she was the only instrumentalist. 

After the show, I walked my sis around so she could see the informal museum that celebrates all the talent that has rolled through Second City. All those famous faces that have created a huge legacy In Chicago. We’re lucky this theater is here. 

Catherine Hellmann could use a makeover, but who has time between teaching teenagers and attending theater?  

Legendary Chicago comedy institution The Second City is excited to present Queer Eye: The Musical Parody. Co-created and co-written by Second City Mainstage ensemble member Evan Mills and Heidi Joosten, the show will be co-directed by Mills and Stephen Schellhardt, who is also choreographer. Joosten, the composer, lyricist and orchestrator for the show, will fill the role of musical director. Cast members include Bridget Adams-King, Tina Arfaee, Jordan Dell Harris, Bryson Howard, Dakota Hughes, Eddie Ledford, Evan Tyrone Martin, Dominic Rescigno, and Evan Starkweather. Shannon Golden-Starr is stage manager.

Inspired by the hit Netflix show Queer Eye, Second City audiences will follow everybody's fave Fab Five as they help an Average Joe manifest their full potential through aggressive self-love, laugh-out-loud comedy, and more songs than you can handle, henny! Watch a two-act "episode" of the show we all thought we knew... until now. Queer Eye: The Musical Parody features all the avocados, plenty of pompadours, and maybe even a puppet or two. Say "YASS, and" to this hilarious experience where things just keep on getting better...and funnier! 

Tickets for Queer Eye: The Musical Parody start at $39.00 and are available by phone at 312-337-3992 or online at The show schedule is as follows beginning May 26, 2022: Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 7pm in UP Comedy Club.

About the Artists

Bridget Adams-King (“Claire/Rachel”) (she/her) is thrilled and so grateful to be making her Second City debut! Some of the theaters she has previously worked with include Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Kokandy Productions, Northlight Theatre, and Griffin Theatre. She is a two-time Jeff-nominated performer for her portrayal of “Kate” in If/Then at Brown Paper Box Co. and “Lucy Parsons” in Underscore Theatre Company’s 2018 production of Haymarket: A New Folk Musical. She has also appeared in an episode of NBC’s hit show Chicago PD. She is repped by Gray Talent Group. @badamsking 

Tina Arfaee (“Tan”) (they/any) has been writing and performing in Chicago since 2012, most notably at The Annoyance Theater with Matt Damon Improv. With MDI, she wrote and starred in the web series In-Diana. She has also appeared on an episode of Chicago Fire, Centered the web series, and short film The Sweatshirt. Tina is a graduate of The Second City/NBC Universal Bob Curry Fellowship. She is repped by Big Mouth Talent. @tinatwocats

Shannon Golden-Starr (Stage Manager) (She/They) CHICAGO: I, Banquo, Short Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors, Q Brothers' Christmas Carol, Shakespeare in the Parks production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), Frankenstein, Act(s) of God, Plantation!, Hard Times, Moby Dick, Thaddeus and Slocuum: A Vaudeville Adventure (Lookingglass Theatre Company); The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Frederick (Chicago Children’s Theatre); The King of the Yees, Uncle Vanya, Carlyle, Soups Stews and Casseroles: 1976, Feathers and Teeth (Goodman Theatre); The Mutilated, Simpatico (A Red Orchid Theatre); This Wonderful Life (American Blues Theater); Betrayal (Raven Theatre).

Jordan Dell Harris (“Sam #2”)  (he/him) is making his Second City debut! He was last seen onstage as “Donald” in Windy City Playhouse’s The Boys in the Band (Jeff Award winner, Best Ensemble). Other Chicago credits include work with Goodman Theatre, Raven Theatre, Griffin Theatre, The Story Theatre, BoHo Theatre and more. TV credits include 4400 (CW) and Next (Fox). 

Bryson Howard (“Sam #1”) (he/him) is a Chicago transplant from South Carolina by way of Nashville, TN, and Paris, France. After four and a half years of performing improv and scripted comedy around Chicago, the city thankfully has not yet rejected the transplant. He has been fortunate enough to perform in several shows at The Annoyance Theatre; he was part of the cast of The Queer Eye: The Musical Parody at the Playground Theater; he is an ensemble member of Baby Wants Candy, and he can be found performing improv at various venues in Chicago with his comedy partner Cassidy Russell. Twitter: @BrysonHoward. Instagram: @BrysonDallasHoward.

Dakota Hughes (“Bev/Executive Producer”) (They/Them) is ecstatic to make their Second City debut! Dakota is a Los Angeles native and graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where they earned a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance. Some favorite credits include Kinky Boots, Cinderella (Paramount Theatre), American Idiot (The Hypocrites), Lizzie (Firebrand), Thrones! The Parody Musical! (The Apollo Theater), and [title of show] (Open Door Rep).

Heidi Joosten (Music Director/Composer/Lyricist/Orchestrator) (she/her) is thrilled and grateful to be making her Second City debut with this show that is so near and dear to her heart. A multi-hyphenate performing artist, Heidi has collaborated on over 100 new theatrical, comedic, and concert works in the Chicagoland area since her arrival in 2014. Notable writing credits include: Queer Eye: the Musical Parody (The Second City), Saint Hildegard: the Rupertsberg Tour (Theo Ubique), Micro (Music Theatre of Madison), and The Bone Harp (Underscore Theatre Company). Joosten is a highly-sought after composer with over 200 works to her name, and her award-winning music has been performed across the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. Heidi holds a Bachelors of Music from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Masters of Music from Roosevelt University - Chicago College of Performing Arts. Proud member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild.

Eddie Ledford (“Bobby”) (he/him) is a Chicago-based actor, singer and comedian. He is a graduate of The Second City’s Conservatory, an ensemble member of the queer comedy group Baby Wine, and has performed in theaters, festivals and digital projects around the city including The Annoyance, Rhino Fest, Chicago Sketch Fest, Ordinary Peepholes, Commercial Appeal and web series Guilty. He originated the role of “Bobby” in the show’s initial run at The Playground Theatre and is very happy and grateful to reprise it at The Second City. Instagram: @_eddele

Evan Tyrone Martin (“Karamo”) (he/him) is excited to be making his Second City debut! Most recently, Evan could be seen in Blues In The Night at Porchlight Music Theatre opposite Broadway star Felicia P. Fields. Regional credits: “Jim” in Roundabout Theatre's digital reading of Zora Neale-Hurston's musical SPUNK (directed by Lili-Ann Brown); The Black Clown (Ensemble) at American Repertory Theater/Lincoln Center's 2019 Mostly Mozart Festival; Hair (“Hud”) at Mercury Theater; Jesus Christ Superstar (“Jesus,” BTAA Nomination) at Paramount Theatre; Dreamgirls (“Curtis,” BTAA Nomination) and Far From Heaven (“Raymond,” Jeff nomination) at Porchlight Music Theatre; and The Little Mermaid (“King Triton”) at Arkansas Rep. Evan has worked with Godspeed, Arkansas Shakes, Chicago Shakes, Chicago Humanities Festival, and many others. He also toured starring in the hit revues Unforgettable: Falling in Love with Nat King Cole and An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas. Next up, Evan will play “Mister” in The Color Purple at the legendary MUNY in St. Louis. Instagram: @3vanMart1n. He is repped by Paonessa Talent.

Evan Mills (Co-Director/Writer/Creator)( He/Him) is incredibly grateful to be co-directing the original musical he wrote with his writing partner Heidi Joosten, Queer Eye: The Musical Parody. He is currently an ensemble member in The Second City’s 110th Mainstage Revue and was previously an ensemble member of The Second City Mainstage revue Together at Last. Evan has toured with Second City’s RedCo and is a recipient of the Bob Curry Fellowship Program. He spent a summer in Washington D.C., performing at the Kennedy Center in Generation Gap and has also performed at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. He has been featured in the Break Out Comedy Festival, LA Laughter Comedy Fest, and the Comedy Central Showcase. You can check out his original music on Spotify (“A Little Bit Alexis” cover and “Sissy Boy”) and follow him on all social media platforms @awkvanmills.

Dominic Rescigno (“Antoni”) (he/him) is experiencing a dream come true doing this show with these people on this stage. He is a graduate of Second City’s Comedy Studies program and is currently finishing the Conservatory. He has performed for Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Onion, ClickHole, Walt Disney World, and starred in Chicago's long-running comedy Tony N' Tina's Wedding. His two webseries The Dominics and Dominic Tonight! have been critically ignored. | @dominicrescigno

Stephen Schellhardt (Co-Director/Choreographer) (he/him) is thrilled to be a part of the Queer Eye: A Musical Parody family. He is a Jeff Award-winning director and actor, as well as choreographer, producer, educator, and casting director. In Chicago, Stephen has worked with the Marriott Theater, Writers Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Mercury Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, About Face Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Chicago’s Lyric Opera, The Goodman Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Northwestern University, and BoHo Theatre, where he served as a company member and Artistic Director for six years. National tours include Altar Boyz. International credits include Jane Austen’s Persuasion at The Royal Winchester Theatre in England and the Shanklin Theatre on The Isle of Wight (Chamber Opera Chicago). From 2014-2017, Stephen served as Associate Producer and Casting Director at Writers Theatre in Glencoe before becoming a visiting professor at Northwestern University and then moving to The Chicago College of Performing Arts, where he now holds the title of Head of Musical Theatre. Stephen is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama and a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.  

Evan Starkweather (“Jonathan”) (he/they) is a Chicago-based performer and writer making their Second City debut. They were last seen performing karaoke at a bar in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, but before that, they wrote and performed numerous sketch and musical variety shows at The Annoyance, The Playground, and The Second City Training Center. They are a graduate of The Second City Conservatory, and their music video “Platonic Gay Best Friend” has been featured on Funny or Die. @evanspelledellen

About The Second City

The Second City opened its doors in 1959 as a small comedy cabaret and has since grown to become the world’s most influential name in improv and comedy. Second City's stages, Touring Companies, and Training Centers across North America have proudly been the launch pad for many of the funniest names on the planet, including John Belushi, John Candy, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Keegan-Michael Key, Eugene Levy, Tim Meadows, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Suzy Nakamura, Catherine O’Hara, Amy Poehler, Gilda Radner, Sam Richardson, Joan Rivers, Amber Ruffin, Jason Sudeikis, and Steven Yeun, among many more.

Monday, July 18, 2022

REVIEW: Steep Summer Shows Continue with Stephens’ Light Falls at Theater Wit Through Aug 14, 2022

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

US Premiere of 

Light Falls

By Simon Stephens

Directed by Robin Witt

Now Playing Through Aug 14, 2022 

Guest Review

by Flo Manolis 

Steep Theater's US Premiere production of Tony Award-winning playwright, Simon Stephens' Light Falls validates the quality of the ensemble we have come to applaud. It was a pleasure to meet the playwright on opening night. This show marks Stephens' fifth production with Steep, with Ensemble Member Robin Witt once again serving as director. Witt has also directed Stephen’s Wastwater, Motortown, Pornography and Harper Regan, Steep’s bestselling production. Simon Stephens remains Steep's Associate Playwright.

All Production Photos by Randall Starr

On opening night, the audience entered the theater to a compelling, multilayered, compartmentalized, stage by set designer, Sotirios Levaditis. Various heavy furniture pieces like a china cabinet and desk were elevated on the walls, with a piano to the left and music sheets suspended on the ceiling, mirroring the weightiness of the action about to occur. 

As the lights dim, a woman, Christine (Kendra Thulin) enters in a blue overcoat and holds our attention with her pensive monologue at the moment she dies. Intricate details pull the audience into this story about family, guilt, love, and death, intertwining five relatives, scattered across the north of England. 
Like an illusion, it rains in the entire country, in spite of a clear blue sky, as she takes her last breath! An impressive vision that mesmerized in wonder…

The characters struggle with their own issues. Jess (Stephane Mattos) needs reassurance as she and Michael (Nate Faust) try to establish their relationship. Bernard (Peter Moore), Christine’s husband,  flirts with two women, Emma (Tina El Gama) and Michaela (Cindy Marker). Steven (Brandon Rivera) is insecure and argues with his lover, Andy (Omer Abbas Salem). 

Ashe (Ashlyn Lozano) a single mom, turns Joe (Debo Balogun) away because he suggests their child to live with his family. Ashe is distraught when she sees her mother Christine, who tells her that it gets easier, leading her to ask Christine if she’s really there or if is she a ghost.

By close of the show, the family gathers for her funeral. Ashe appears wearing her mother’s blue coat, and the family sings “Hymn of the North” for a riveting ending.

OUTSTANDING!! Highly recommended!!

Flo Manolis is a CPS elementary teacher/librarian, hairdresser, and theater/film fanatic who catches hundreds of Chicago shows annually. She volunteers at numerous film venues and theaters.

For one clear moment, rain and light fall from a cloudless sky. For one clear moment, Christine sees the lives of her family, her town, her world stretched before her, beyond her. Simon Stephens’ Light Falls is a haunting tale of resilience, hope, and the impossibly strong bonds of family.

More than two years after beginning work on this play, Steep is excited to resume production of Light Falls after it came to a halt in the spring of 2020. Light Falls will be performed at Theater Wit while the sold-out run of Eboni Booth’s Paris plays at Steep's new home at 1044 West Berwyn through July 23rd. In April, Steep purchased the former Christian Science Reading Room, returning to the Edgewater community it has called home since 2008, and a renovation of the space is planned for the coming year.

We first fell in love with this script in 2019, yet somehow Light Falls fully and exquisitely captures what we've been through and where we are now,' said Artistic Director Peter Moore. "Simon has long been an integral part of Steep's story and I'm grateful that we can share his work in this moment.” 

Light Falls will feature Steep Ensemble Members Debo Balogun, Nate Faust, Cindy Marker, Peter Moore, Brandon Rivera, Omer Abbas Salem, and Kendra Thulin, as well as guest artists Susaan Jamshidi, Ashlyn Lozano, and Stephanie Mattos. August Forman will step into the production beginning July 28th. Forman, Jamshidi, and Mattos make their Steep debuts with this production.



Theater Wit

1229 West Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL 60657



July 8 – August 14, 2022

Previews: July 2-7, 2022

Press Opening: Friday, July 8, 7:30pm



Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 7:30 pm

Sunday matinees at 3pm

Accessible Performances:

-Audio Description & Touch Tour: July 24

-Open Captioning: July 31

Contact us at or 773-649-3186 for more information.

Ticket Pricing

General Admission: $30

Reserved Seats: $40

Access Tickets: $10 

(Access tickets are our universal discount available to anyone in need of a discount)

Purchase tickets here: 

About the Playwright

Simon Stephens’ plays include Fortune, Light Falls, Maria, Fatherland, Rage, Heisenberg, Nuclear War, Song from Far Away; Birdland, Carmen Disruption, Blindsided, Morning, Three Kingdoms, Wastwater, Punk Rock, The Trial of Ubu, Marine Parade, Sea Wall, Harper Regan, Pornography, Motortown, On the Shore of the Wide World, One Minute, Country Music, Christmas, Port, Herons and Bluebird. He has adapted Jose Saramago’s Blindness for the stage and also Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. He has written English language versions of Jon Fosse’s I Am the Wind; Odon Von Horvath’s Kasimir and Karoline (titled The Funfair); Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House; Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and The Seagull and Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera. He has presented four series of the Royal Court Playwright’s Podcast. His book “A Working Diary” is published by Methuen. Simon Stephens has been an Associate at the Royal Court, London and Steep, Chicago and a board member of Paines Plough. He has been an Associate Artist at the Lyric, Hammersmith, a Professor of Scriptwriting at Manchester Metropolitan University and an Associate Professor at the Danish National School of the Performing Arts, Copenhagen. 


About the Director

Steep Ensemble Member Robin Witt has been at the helm for many of Steep’s most successful UK imports, including Alistair McDowall’s Pomona and Brilliant Adventures; Penelope Skinner’s Linda; Cordelia Lynn’s Lela & Co.; Simon Stephens’ Wastwater, Motortown, Pornography, and Harper Regan; Dennis Kelly’s Love and Money; Jez Butterworth’s Parlour Song; and Laura Wade’s Breathing Corpses. Her Harper Regan is still the best-selling show in Steep history and was named one of the Top Ten shows of 2010 by both the Chicago Tribune and Timeout Chicago; her Lela & Co was named one of the Tribune’s Top Ten Shows of 2017; and her Breathing Corpses was named one of TimeOut’s Top Ten Shows of 2008. In addition to directing numerous productions at Steep, Robin is also an ensemble member of Griffin Theatre Company where her credits include Ferber and Kaufman’s Stage Door, Terrence Rattigan’s Flare Path, Ena Lamont Stewart’s Men Should Weep, John Van Druten’s London Wall, and W. Somerset Maugham’s For Services Rendered. Witt received the 2015, 2016, and 2018 Jeff Awards for Best Director for Men Should Weep, London Wall, and Lela & Co and was nominated in 2014 for Flare Path and 2011 for Stage Door. She has worked at a variety of Chicago area theatres including Northlight, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Writers Theatre, A Red Orchid, and Artistic Home. She is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts (BFA) and Northwestern University (MFA). Robin is a Professor of Directing at UNC Charlotte.


About Steep Theatre

Founded in 2000 by three actors, Steep has grown into a dynamic ensemble of forty-five theatre artists, supported by a dedicated and inspired team of arts administrators and community members.  Described by Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune as "the most fearless theater in town," Steep creates powerful productions of plays by today's most exciting writers and features the work of Chicago's hottest theatre artists in an intimate, accessible space. Steep is known as a home for hard-hitting, finely tuned ensemble work. With each production, the company has shepherded a growing community of audiences and artists into bold new territories of story and performance. Steep Theatre is committed to creating an inclusive and anti-racist environment for making and watching theatre. To learn more, please visit


Debo Balogunˆ

Nate Faustˆ

August Forman (July 28 - August 14)

Susaan Jamshidi*

Ashlyn Lozano

Cindy Markerˆ

Stephanie Mattos

Peter Mooreˆ

Brandon Riveraˆ

Omer Abbas Salemˆ (July 8 - July 24)

Kendra Thulinˆ



Director – Robin Wittˆ

Stage Manager – Lauren Lassusˆ

Scenic Designer – Sotirios Livaditis

Costume Designer – Alison Sipleˆˆ

Lighting Designers – Brandon Wardellˆ

Sound Designer – Daniel Etti-Williams

Composer & Music Director – Thomas Dixonˆ

Intimacy Choreographer - Micah Figueroa

Dialect Coach - Adam Goldstein

Production Manager – Catherine Allenˆ

Production Electrician – Haley Carr

Technical Director – Evan Sposato

Assistant Director –Lisa Harriman

Casting Director – Lucy Carapetyanˆ

Graphic Designer - Stu Kiesow


ˆ Steep Company Member

 ˆˆ Steep Artistic Associate

* Appearing through an Agreement between Steep Theatre and Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

Friday, July 15, 2022

REVIEW: Artist-In-Residence Luis Carreon, La Bestia at Chicago Magic Lounge Wednesdays Through September 28, 2022.

 ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Chicago Magic Lounge Presents
Luis Carreon, La Bestia
Wednesdays Through September 28, 2022 

Guest Review

by Dugan Kenaz-Mara

Chicago Magic Lounge has once again astounded, mystified, and astonished us with another wonderful magic show by Artist-In-Residence Luis Carreon, La Bestia.

From start to finish, the experience was magical. Even as a returning guest, I enjoyed the lead-in to the main stage area and the history of magic that comes along with it. I could also tell that it was breathtaking for my friend who had never been to the magic lounge before. He was fooled multiple times and was exclaiming about how cool it was the entire way to our seats. 

Once we made it to our places, the staff were incredibly kind and the close-up magicians who came to the tables before the show were also great. The best part is how they were willing to play with us when we engaged them in bits. One table magician, while presenting a deck of cards, told us he was going to perform a card trick. When we responded that calling it a “card trick” was apt and questioned whether he had come up with that himself, he countered by telling us he had a team of writers who came up with it for him. It was fun to joke around with him and better still when it didn’t impede his flawless sleight of hand. 

Then, after already being blown away by the magic lounge’s environment, we were blown even further away by Luis Carreon’s performance. While he has a dramatic flair, his most notable feature is his humor. The show is full of pop culture references and he makes tons of jokes, including ones about his heritage and the stereotypes that come along with it. He engaged the audience throughout the whole show and even played a prank on one volunteer. 

I also loved his ability to improvise with what the audience gave him. Some audience members didn’t play along with his jokes and were contrarian, which he was able to turn into more bits to entertain the rest of the audience. On the other hand, there was an audience member who gave him a small heart-shaped chocolate, which he incorporated into his act alongside other heart-shaped props. 

The use of props was also really intriguing to me. He had some of the obvious magician things, like coins and decks of cards, but he also made use of random objects including a house key from a mesh bag of keys, a cardboard box, a stuffed animal with a sombrero, a picture frame, and a piñata. 

Overall, I would count this experience as a good one and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in magic or is looking for a fun night of entertainment. 

Dugan is an actor, designer, and photographer studying theatre and psychology at Northwestern University. This summer you can find him on cast at Bristol Renaissance Fair for the 4th season, dancing, singing, performing street theatre, and juggling knives. Contrary to popular belief, he is not a time traveler.

Chicago Magic Lounge, Chicago’s home for close-up magic, continues its Artist-In-Residence series with Luis Carreon, La Bestia, Wednesdays at 7:00pm, July 6 – September 28, 2022. A Chicago Magic Lounge favorite, Carreon showcases his unparalleled skill and mischievous sense of humor in this brand new, Spanish-infused show. Tickets for all Chicago Magic Lounge shows are available at the box office, (312) 366-4500 or online at
What you see is not always what you get. Beneath Luis Carreon's suave and debonair exterior lies La Bestia (The Beast). In his one-man show, Luis combines his jaw-dropping magical skills, his Latin heritage, and off-the-wall comedy to share his real-life experiences, poking fun at stereotypes, cultural differences, and himself. 
Luis Carreon is a highly sought-after entertainer, performing magic across the country – from New York City's Monday Night Magic to House of Cards in Nashville to the World Famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. An award-winning and well-respected magician, Luis regularly travels the country teaching other magicians about the art of magic. He is also a regular performer, fan favorite, and co-founding company member of the Chicago Magic Lounge. 
Carreon has made numerous television appearances, domestically and internationally. He has been featured on the Univision Evening News and was a semi-finalist on Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento, the Spanish language equivalent of America's Got Talent.

Luis Carreon, La Bestia will be presented on Wednesdays at 7:00pm, July 6 – September 28, 2022. Tickets are priced $45 (Main Floor) and $50 (Front Row). 

Also Happening at Chicago Magic Lounge

Music & Magic
Mondays at 7:00pm
Tickets: General Admission $25

The Showcase
Tuesdays at 7:00pm
Tickets: Standard: $35; Front Row: $40

Artist-in-Residence Series
Wednesdays at 7:00pm
Sean Masterson’s Message in a Bottle, Now through June 29, 2022
Tickets: Standard: $45; Front Row: $50

The discovery of a message in a bottle makes the past present in Sean Masterson’s very visual and highly deceptive show. Sleight-of-hand magic is seamlessly woven into the true tale of the 19th century battle to decide America’s #1 magician.

In 1912 theatrical impresario Michael B. Leavitt published his 700-page memoir dishing the untold story of this jealousy-fueled battle between his clients, the magic greats Alexander Herrmann and Harry Kellar. Recently, Sean Masterson procured a signed edition of Leavitt’s memoir at auction and together with his research of Harry Houdini’s original archives at the Library of Congress in D.C., he has found the thread that nearly tells the whole tale. All Masterson needs now is a message in a bottle.

The Signature Show
Thursdays-Sundays at 7:00pm, Fridays and Sundays at 10pm
Tickets: Front Row $80, Premium Main Floor (main floor banquette and main floor cabaret) $70, Standard (rail and elevated banquette) $60, Mezzanine $50 

The Signature Show was conceived in 2015 as an homage to the historic, Chicago magic bar scene. Experience close-up magic right at your table during the cocktail hour, followed by an hour of stage magic featuring masters of their craft performing feats of prestidigitation and sleight of hand. Guests who purchase Premium tickets (Front Row, Main Floor Cabaret, Main Floor Banquette) are invited to an exclusive performance of close-up magic directly after the main stage show in our 43-seat close-up gallery, The 654 Club.

Tickets for all Chicago Magic Lounge performances are available at the box office, (312) 366-4500 or online at Chicago Magic Lounge is a 21+ venue. Ages 16+ allowed to ticketed shows with a legal guardian. 

For the health and safety of our staff, guests and community, you must be fully vaccinated to enter the premises. Ticket holders will be asked to present proof of vaccination status upon arrival.

For a complete schedule of performances and more information about Chicago Magic Lounge, resident and guest performers, and more, please visit

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

REVIEW: Collected Stories Via Redtwist Theatre Now Playing Through June 5, 2022

 ChiIL Live Shows on our radar 

R E D T W I S T  T H E A T R E  P R E S E N T S

Collected Stories

by Donald Margulies

Directed by Ted Hoerl

Gossip is a neglected art form.

Guest Review

By Catherine Hellmann

I felt like I was at Windy City Playhouse and was looking for the cheese curls, popcorn, and spray cheese can snacks. The set is Professor Ruth Steiner’s apartment, and the audience members are the eavesdroppers in her living room lined against the walls. For a play about sharing secrets and subsequent indiscretion, the intimacy is perfect. 

Jacqueline Grandt (Ruth) and Jillian Warden (Lisa)

“Write what you know” is the oft-repeated piece of advice to aspiring authors about writing. In Collected Stories by Donald Margulies, Lisa Morrison is a young, ambitious yet uncertain grad student meeting her idol/teacher Dr. Steiner for the first time. Lisa is writing about what she knows in her autobiographical selections that eventually culminate in her first published book, Eating Between Meals. She adores Dr. Steiner from her reputation as an author. Lisa fawns so much initially over her prof that it is cringey. Dr. Steiner is very no-nonsense, a little abrupt, blunt, and describes herself as “Thelma Ritter would play me in the movie.” (I love that line!) 

The first time that Lisa is published, Ruth’s surprise and tinge of jealousy is palpable. She wants her student to succeed, but as a fellow artist, Ruth may not truly want her protege to surpass her. (That Artist Ego is hard to shake.) We see Lisa expand her repertoire as a writer while Ruth’s health declines. But Lisa’s first novel is not a tale she experienced firsthand. Is it still fair game to share with the world?

The book in question is obviously inspired by Ruth’s affair decades ago with a well-known poet many years her senior. Ruth reveals this precious memory of her past when pressed by Lisa. Lisa uses it as a springboard for her novel a few years later. Ruth, understandably, feels betrayed. 

All along, Ruth has stressed that “writers are all rummagers.” Lisa reminds Ruth that she herself taught Lisa to be “ruthless.” But Ruth feels her favorite student has “turned into a spy.” Ruth confesses that watching Lisa’s star ascend reminds Ruth of her own mortality. 

The two actresses are fantastic. Redtwist Company Member Jacqueline Grandt is wonderful in every role. The part of Ruth Steiner is perfect for her. Making her Redtwist debut is Jillian Warden as Lisa. She holds her own next to Ms. Grandt. 

On their first meeting, Ruth is surprised to discover Lisa is not who she thinks she is. “My students match their stories.” Lisa’s first story is too serious, and her personality is just too earnest. For these two writers, they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.    

Catherine Hellmann is a teacher, mom of teachers, daughter of a teacher…and a self-professed Theater Whore. 

Prominent author Ruth takes her fiction student Lisa under her wing – until Lisa’s success comes in the form of a story that’s much too familiar to Ruth. When her protege publishes a salacious story that can only be traced back to her mentor, their relationship is challenged. Spanning six years, this play takes a searching look at the lives of a pair of writers and the tangled connections between creativity and ideology.


Jacqueline Grandt* (Ruth Steiner), Jillian Warden (Lisa Morrison) Understudies: Jean Marie Koon (Ruth Steiner), Meghann Tabor (Lisa Morrison) THE STAFF

E. Malcolm Martinez (Box Office Manager), Karen Epton, Johnny Garcia & Amanda Grissom (Box Office Associates), Charlie

Marie McGrath (Producing Artistic Director)

*indicates Redtwist staff or company members


Opens: Sun, May 1, 3pm

Showtimes: Thu, Fri, Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 3pm

Closes: Sun, Feb 13, 3pm

Previews: $15; Thu, Fri, Sat, Apr 28, 29, 30 at 7:30pm.

Runtime: 2 hours, with one intermission

Tickets: Thursdays, $35; Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, $40 (seniors & students $5 off)


Website/Tickets: Call: 773-728-7529


Redtwist is located at 1044 W Bryn Mawr, 2 blocks W of LSD, 2 blocks E of the Red Line EL station. Please be aware of the ongoing construction on the Red and Purple lines, which cause delays. Valet parking for Redtwist is available across the street in front of Francesca’s Bryn Mawr for most performances—hours vary. Dining is not required. Parking is also available at Edgewater Mexican Café, with notification of restaurant staff. Dining is not required. Limited FREE street parking is available on side streets. There is paybox street parking via app. The paybox is 3-hours on the Redtwist block of Bryn Mawr, and 2-hours on side streets. Paybox parking is free on Sundays, and after 10pm Mon thru Sat.

The safety of our artists and audiences are important to us. During this unprecedented time, we hope to reduce the risk in the theatre-going experience as much as possible. To that end, we are instituting the following policies, effective immediately:

 Masks will be required for audiences inside the theatre.

 Patrons must be able to show proof that they are fully vaccinated via a physical copy of their vaccination card, a clear photo of their full card, or a link to their pharmacy's confirmation of vaccination or vaccination confirmation via their app.

 "Fully vaccinated" means that either 14 days have passed since receiving either the final dose of FDA or WHO authorized vaccines.

 Redtwist will offer exemptions for those unable to be vaccinated, such as children under 5, people with certain medical conditions preventing vaccination, or those with closely held religious beliefs that prevent vaccination. These patrons must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test—within the last 48 hours—before performance start time.


Thank you for helping us to keep our friends and artists and your fellow patrons as safe as possible during our upcoming season.

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