Showing posts with label Halloween shows. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Halloween shows. Show all posts

Monday, October 7, 2019

Fall Favorites at Chicago Magic Lounge: Carisa Hendrix’s Indulgence with Lucy Darling, Halloween Special, Spotlight: Women in Magic and More

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Chicago Magic Lounge announces next show in the Artist-in-Residence series 

The American premiere of 
Carisa Hendrix’s Indulgence with 
Lucy Darling

Wednesdays at 7:30pm beginning October 9, 2019 

CML also announces brand new weekly feature The Close-Up Show, special Halloween programming, and the second annual Spotlight: Women in Magic


It was my great pleasure to catch Carisa Hendrix’s Lucy Darling character as part of the first Spotlight: Women in Magic at Chicago Magic Lounge last November. I can't wait to see more! Chicago Magic Lounge has been a favorite of ours at ChiIL Live Shows since we first attended the groundbreaking, opening night, and frequent performances after. 

Chicago Magic Lounge, Chicago’s home for close-up magic, continues its Artist-In-Residence series with the American debut of magician Carisa Hendrix’s newest show Indulgence with Lucy Darling, Wednesdays at 7:30pm starting October 9, 2019. Hendrix’s most popular character, Lucy Darling, is back with this one-hour show that’s a blend of astonishing magic and Lucy’s hilarious, quick wit. Tickets for all Chicago Magic Lounge shows are available at the box office, (312) 366-4500 or online at

Lucy Darling is a stunning and hilarious creature known the world over for her wit, her charm and her exceptionally good hair. Lucy is back with her amazing, semi-improvised comedy magic show, which has been praised as a wonderful mix of laughter, storytelling, and amazing magic. This edgy, postmodern show is a double shot of magical mischief with a dash of old Hollywood, on the rocks. Indulgence with Lucy Darling premiered to rave reviews at the Melbourne Magic Festival in July 2019.

Lucy is the brainchild of Carisa Hendrix, a five-time award-winning entertainer featured in the Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Super Channel documentary Carisa Hendrix: Girl on Fire; a documentary which tells the harrowing story of Hendrix’s magic show on the Las Vegas strip. Winner of the prestigious Allan Slaight Award as the Canadian Rising Star of Magic, the Award of Excellence, Hendrix was recently nominated for Stage Magician of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts at the World-Famous Magic Castle. Her show, The Ladies Guide to Deceit & Debauchery won the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award at the 2017 Melbourne Magic Festival for best comedy magic. Hendrix is one of the hosts of the Shezam!, a feminist podcast about magic, and lectures to magicians at conventions and clubs all over the world.

To celebrate Indulgence with Lucy Darling, Chicago Magic Lounge will offer a cocktail inspired by Lucy Darling called ‘The Lucy’ which includes Bulleit Rye, Lemon Juice, spoonful of cherry preserves and garnished with a Luxardo Maraschino. 

Indulgence with Lucy Darling will be presented on Wednesdays at 7:30pm, October 9 – December 18, 2019.  Tickets are priced $35 (Main Floor) and $45 (Front Row).

Coming Soon to Chicago Magic Lounge

Chicago Magic Lounge announces a brand-new weekly show, The Close-Up Show. Starting in October, the Chicago Magic Lounge brings classic, close-up magic to the stage! Each week, audiences will be mystified by two featured magicians who will perform classic close-up magic on the Harry Blackstone Cabaret stage. With each magician’s every move being projected onto the big screen, audiences will get an up-close view of every trick, no matter where they’re seated.

The Close-Up Show runs every Monday at 7:30pm, beginning October 7 featuring magicians Luis Carreon and Lee Benzaquin for the premier performance. All tickets to The Close-Up Show are $25.

In celebration of the spookiest time of year, Chicago Magic Lounge presents The Signature Show featuring Shock Illusionist Dan Sperry, the Anti-Conjuror during Halloween weekend. Hailed as the most popular and in-demand illusionist of this generation Dan Sperry combines the art of magic with the macabre, and his totally unique and edgy illusions initially capture the imagination of crowds across the globe. But it is his unhinged, shockingly eccentric humor and audience interaction that makes his live show a truly unique experience. As a result of his jaw-dropping performances on multiple record-breaking international tours, numerous network television appearances, and some of the most underground viral videos to ever plague the Internet, his legion of hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans span all ages and demographics.

From starring in the best-selling magic show in Broadway history The Illusionists, sky-rocketing ratings on America’s Got Talent, Germany’s hit series Das SuperTalent, FOX’s World Magic Awards, and TLC’sCake Boss, to selling out countless performance venues around the world, Dan Sperry presents a magic show for people who love magic shows but an even better show for people who hate magic shows.

The Signature Show featuring Shock Illusionist Dan Sperry, the Anti-Conjuror performances happen October 31 at 7:00pm and 10:00pm, and November 1-2 at 7:00pm. Tickets are priced at $45 (Main Floor), $55 (Premium Main Floor), and $60 (Front Row and Mezzanine).

Rounding out the fall is Chicago Magic Lounge’s Second Annual Spotlight: Women in Magic, celebrating women performing in this historically male-dominated art form. Started as a way to highlight the incredible female talent in magic and begin a conversation about the proportionately small number of female magicians performing today, it has been the goal of Spotlight: Women in Magic to draw attention to the gender disparity in this artform and encourage more women to become involved in magic. The last few years have seen an increase in female membership in magic organizations, as well as a surge in female enrollment in magic classes throughout the world. Chicago Magic Lounge wants to keep that momentum going and hopefully inspire more women to enter the artform. 

This year’s Spotlight: Women in Magic will feature an all-star cast of magicians audiences need to experience, including Chicago-born magician Rachel Wax; Alexandra Duvivier, winner of the prestigious French magic competition Mandrake d’Or; and fall Artist-in-Residence performer Carisa Hendrix.

Spotlight: Women in Magic takes place November 21-24, 2019 at 7:00pm Thursday through Sunday, with additional 10:00pm performances on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are priced at $45 (Main Floor), $55 (Premium Main Floor), and $60 (Front Row and Mezzanine).

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. Ages 5+ allowed for The Family Show only. 

Ongoing Events and Performances are as follows:

Music & Magic

Mondays at 7:30pm through September 30 when Music and Magic goes on fall hiatus

Tickets: $15 (General Admission)

Unwind at the beginning of the week with magic, jazz, and a cocktail. Music & Magic is the only performance of its kind in the city. We feature live jazz on stage and close-up magic at your table performed by our resident house magicians. When the band takes a break, a magician takes the stage.

The Signature Show

Thursdays and Sundays at 7pm; Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm & 10pm

Tickets: $45-$60

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 two masters of their craft performing feats of prestidigitation and sleight of hand. Guests who purchase Mezzanine, Front Row and Premium Main Floor tickets are invited to an exclusive performance of close-up magic directly after the show in our 43-seat close-up gallery, The 654 Club. *Please visit for a complete schedule of performers.

Artist-in-Residence Series

Wednesdays at 7:30pm, 

Sean Masterson’s Timeless Magic, June 26 – October 2, 2019

Tickets: $35 (Main Floor), $45 (Front Row) 

The Chicago Magic Lounge will host three-month runs of our favorite magicians performing their one-person shows. The current show in the series is Sean Masterson’s Timeless Magic, a smart, funny and highly original magic show featuring highly deceptive but rarely seen 19th century magic effects and a mind reading puppet. Timeless Magic runs June 26 – October 2, 2019. 

The Family Show

Sundays at 12pm

Tickets: $27.50, $17.50 (children 5-16)

We take the bar scene out of Chicago Magic and open our Blackstone Cabaret for a 45-minute magic matinee suitable for younger ages. Our mission is to bring back the era of bar magic, bringing out the child in every adult; however, on Sundays, we feature a family-friendly magician that will fill both the adults and children full of wonder. The Family Show makes a great post-brunch activity with many restaurants nearby. The Family Show is suitable for ages 5 and up.

The Performance Bar

Mondays-Wednesdays, 5:30pm-11pm; Thursdays, 5:30pm-12am; Fridays-Saturdays, 5:30pm-2am; and Sundays, 5:30pm-11pm

Open from 5:30pm to close Mondays thru Saturdays, The Performance Bar features signature cocktails, luxurious seating and magicians behind the bar to challenge your imagination. The Performance Bar is open to the public and does not require a ticket to the show. Please note that The Performance Bar is 21+ only. 

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. Ages 5+ allowed for The Family Show only.

For a complete schedule of performances and more information about Chicago Magic Lounge, as well as resident and guest performers, Chicago Magic College classes, the Chicago Magic Round Table, and more, please visit

About Chicago Magic Lounge
Chicago Magic Lounge reinvents the classic "magic bar" that once dotted Chicago's nightlife landscape, bringing cocktails and card tricks back together again. Shows include magic performance at the bar, on the stage and in true Chicago-style Magic form, at the tables of the guests, providing the classic "Close-Up" tradition Chicago-style Magic is known for. Chicago Magic Lounge is also the home of the Chicagoland magic community, showcasing over 30 local professionals, and serving as a networking hub for working magicians from all over the world. 

The newly constructed theater at 5050 N. Clark St., designed by Morris Architects Planners, has ushered in a new wave of entertainment, bringing back “Chicago-style Magic” under the leadership of Donald C Clark, Jr. and Joseph (Joey) Cranford. Converted from a 1930s-era, commercial laundry building, the Chicago Magic Lounge is a 7,200 square-foot, Art Deco, state-of-the-art theater and lounge complete with secret doors, elegant performance areas and a magic bar – all dedicated to the art of sleight of hand, prestidigitation and Chicago's contribution to the magical arts. From magicians to mind readers, Chicago Magic Lounge provides guests the unique, one-of-a-kind experience of seeing wonders up-close and personal in a venue unlike anything else offered throughout the country.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Halloween Edition! Barrel of Monkeys Presents THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Ghosts, Ghouls and Talking Potatoes

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Halloween Edition!
Barrel of Monkeys Presents
THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Ghosts, Ghouls and Talking Potatoes
Directed by Artistic Director Brandon Cloyd
October 7 – November 4, 2018 at the Neo-Futurist Theater

An Original Sketch Show that is Written by Kids, 
Performed by Grownups, and Enjoyed by Humans

PHOTO CREDIT: Barrel of Monkeys company members perform THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA. Photo by Evan Hanover.

Just in time for Halloween, Barrel of Monkeys is pleased to present the newest revue of its much lauded sketch show: THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Ghosts, Ghouls and Talking Potatoes, directed by Artistic Director Brandon Cloyd. The Halloween edition plays Sundays at 3 pm from October 7 – November 4, 2018 at the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (773) 506-7140. The press opening is Sunday, October 14 at 3 pm.

Gather ye ‘round for a line-up of scary (and silly) stories featuring talking potatoes getting lost in the woods, Malcolm X fighting zombies, creepy slideshows that haunt old houses, and other spooky scenarios imagined by Chicago elementary school students.

The cast to date includes Jennifer Allman, Noah Appelbaum, Isabella Gerasole and Tom Malinowski. Additional casting to be announced.

Now in its eighteenth year, THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA features adaptations of stories written during Barrel of Monkeys’ creative writing residencies in Chicago elementary schools. BOM teaching artists guide 3rd through 5th graders through a six-week curriculum that uses theater to bring out the storyteller in every child. Afterward, BOM’s ensemble of professional actors, comedians and musicians bring the young authors’ stories to life as raucous sketches, songs and movement pieces, performing first for students in their schools and then for the public. 

The stories in THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA resonate with adults while celebrating the imaginations of young people. Rotating themes highlight the diversity of stories BOM students concoct, from hilarious dialogues between unlikely characters to poignant pleas for social change. Every week brings a new line-up of stories, and BOM invites audiences to vote on their favorites at each performance.

Location: Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago
Dates: Preview: Sunday, October 7 at 3 pm
Press performance: Sunday, October 14 at 3 pm
Regular run: Sunday, October 14 – Sunday, November 4, 2018
Curtain Times: Sundays at 3 pm 
Tickets: Previews: $10 for adults, $5 children 12 and under, $8 groups of 10 or more. Regular run: $20 for adults; $5 for children 12 and under. Discounts: $12 for students with ID, seniors, veterans and groups of 10 or more people. Teen Arts Pass (TAP) members: $5 with ID. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (773) 506-7140.

About the Director
Brandon Cloyd joined Barrel of Monkeys in 2007 and has been deeply involved in many facets of the company ever since. Prior to joining BOM, Brandon graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a minor in Business Institutions. Within BOM, Brandon has served as an actor, teaching artist, lead teacher, a member of Teacher Corps, as well as directing shows for schools and public performances of That's Weird, Grandma. Before becoming the company’s Artistic Director in September 2017, Brandon served as BOM After-School Program Coordinator at Loyola Park from 2014-2016 and Program Director from 2016-2017. Outside of Barrel of Monkeys, he worked as the Associate Director of Camp Echo, where he has spent 13 summers managing campers and staff at a co-ed sleep away camp in Upstate New York. Brandon has worked with other theatre companies including Urban Theatre Company, American Theater  Company, Filament Theatre, InGen Productions, ACLE's Teatrino in Italy and Purple Crayon Players at Northwestern University.

About Barrel of Monkeys

Since Barrel of Monkeys’ inception in 1997, its teaching artists have served more than 60 Chicago Public Schools. Over 15,000 elementary school students have participated in the Barrel of Monkeys programs, which aim to build students' writing skills, improve self-esteem, and instill confidence in their ideas and abilities.

Barrel of Monkeys is sponsored in part by Wintrust Financial, Allscripts, Inc., Ernst and Young and Punchkick Interactive. It receives generous support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency; the National Endowment for the Arts; a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; the Chicago Community Trust; Crown Family Philanthropies; Alphawood Foundation of Chicago; the Maurice R. and Meta G. Gross Foundation; Polk Bros Foundation; the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; the Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation, Inc.; The Saints; The Topfer Family Foundation, and many other generous individuals and foundations. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

REVIEW: Underscore Theatre Scores With Campy Carrie 2: The Rage (An Unauthorized Musical Parody) World Premiere

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Underscore Theatre Company Presents the World Premiere of
Book, Music and Lyrics by Preston Max Allen
Co-Directed by Isaac Loomer and Rachel Elise Johnson

Music Direction by T.J. Anderson 

October 13 – November 19, 2017 at The Arkham

(left to right) Michael Idalski, Britain Gebhardt, Annie Pfohl, Taylor Snooks, Alex Newkirk, Amanda Giles, Carissa Gonzalez, Joe Wesolowski, David Kaplinsky and Sam Button-Harrison in Underscore Theatre Company’s world premiere musical CARRIE 2: THE RAGE (An Unauthorized Musical Parody). All Photos by Evan Hanover.

Halloween season is ripe for gory stories, and Underscore delivers, in a hidden little storefront, Arkham theatre in Uptown, named specifically for this production. Note: The Arkham was the asylum in the Carrie-verse, which is in turn named for H.P. Lovecrafts' fictional town. Don't forget to "check in" to the asylum on social media! 

Underscore Theatre's macabre musical parody takes place 10+ years after the fateful, pig blood infused prom night, when bullied Carrie White went homicidal. What this low budget production lacks in stage blood it more than makes up for with laugh inducing melodrama, soaring songs, and copious use of the word telekinesis. Underscore Theatre scores again with a creative, over the top parody that makes poking fun at it's subpar namesake far more fun than the original. With plenty of catchy tunes, dramatic gestures, and larger than life characters, Carrie 2: The Rage (An Unauthorized Musical Parody) makes for a fun night out. 

(front, l to r) Taylor Snooks and Demi Zaino with (back l to r) Alex Newkirk, Sam Button-Harrison, Michael Idalski, Joe Wesolowski and Amanda Giles

We were already booked on the press preview, so we ducked in last night for their packed house, Monday show. We caught two understudies, Miki Byrne as Amy and Taylor Snooks as Lisa/Monica. The whole cast was tight and a delight to see, particularly the women. The boy band moves of the football team are a hoot, too, even as they sing about threatening with physical violence. 

(left to right) Amanda Giles, Carissa Gonzalez and Britain Gebhardt

(left to right) Annie Pfohl, Taylor Snooks and Sam Button-Harrison

Standouts were the traumatized guidance counselor, Sue Snell (Britain Gebhardt), the religious nut mother, Barbara (Annie Pfohl), with a tiny but mighty role and fierce vocals, mean girl supreme, Tracy (Amanda Giles), and scary Carrie's little half sister, Rachel (Demi Zaino).

(left to right) Demi Zaino and Michael Idalski with the cast of Underscore Theatre Company’s world premiere musical CARRIE 2: THE RAGE (An Unauthorized Musical Parody). 

Until human beings learn to quit being so awful to each other, mean girls, rapey jocks, adults with mental issues, and vengeful teens with preternatural powers are always in season. Catch this wacky world premiere while you can. Rachel (AKA: Carrie 2) will be raging through November 19th. 

**Note: If your weekends are crazy busy, this show runs 
Monday nights too!**

Back in the mid 90's, I played Carrie in a haunted house for two seasons, moving kitchen drawers and banging cupboards with my mental powers (and a little help from backstage). It was huge fun donning my deliciously bloody prom dress and air brushed makeup and scaring full grown adults into screaming idiots. I'd never made anyone pee themselves before, run shrieking into walls, or completely lose their minds. So, I'll always have a soft spot for the Carrie character.

Just in time for Halloween, Underscore Theatre Company is pleased to launch its 2017-18 Season with the world premiere of with CARRIE 2: THE RAGE (An Unauthorized Musical Parody), an irreverent, rock-infused send-up of Stephen King’s iconic horror film Carrie and its subsequent spin-off The Rage: Carrie 2, featuring a book, music and lyrics by Preston Max Allen. Co-directed by Isaac Loomer and Rachel Elise Johnson, with music direction by T.J. Anderson, CARRIE 2: THE RAGE will play through November 19, 2017 at The Arkham, 4609 N. Clark St. in Chicago. Tickets on sale at

CARRIE 2: THE RAGE (An Unauthorized Musical Parody) will feature Demi Zaino as Rachel, Alex Newkirk as Jesse, Britain Gebhardt as Sue Snell and David Kaplinsky as Producer/Arnie with Sam Button-Harrison, Amanda Giles, Carissa Gonzalez, Michael Idalski, Annie Pfohl, Taylor Snooks and Joe Wesolowski.

(left to right) Joe Wesolowski, Taylor Snooks, Sam Button-Harrison, Demi Zaino, Michael Idalski and Carissa Gonzalez 

More than a decade after Carrie White burned her high school to the ground with her mind, goth teenager Rachel Lang has her own issues to deal with, and Sue Snell, Carrie’s former classmate and Rachel’s guidance counselor, must grapple with surprising similarities between the two outcasts before history repeats itself. Framed as a backer’s auction for a ridiculously ambitious Broadway production, this irreverent meta-musical pokes fun at the entire “Carrie” canon through a punchy, rock-infused score.

The production team for CARRIE 2: THE RAGE (An Unauthorized Musical Parody) includes: Eric Luchen (scenic design), Rachel Johnson and Isaac Loomer (costume design), Erik Barry (lighting design), Timothy McNulty (sound design), Mealah Heidenreich (props design), Andrew Lynn (production manager), Karla Meyer (sound engineer), Elias Nelson (stage manager) and Josh Prisching (technical director, master electrician).

Location: The Arkham, 4609 N. Clark St., Chicago
Regular run: Friday, October 20 – Sunday, November 19, 2017
Curtain Times: Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 4 pm. Please note: there will be an added Halloween performance on Tuesday, October 31 at 7:30 pm.

Tickets: $20 Sundays & Mondays; $25 Fridays & Saturdays. Tickets on sale at

Artist Biographies
Preston Max Allen (Book, Music and Lyrics) is a writer, composer, lyricist and bizarrely avid Carrie fan based in New York City. Their work has been featured at the New York Musical Festival, Musical Theatre Factory, Feinstein's/54 Below, Joe's Pub, Laurie Beechman Theatre, Signature Theatre, York Theatre ("Tune In Time" winner), Gallery Players and Second City Chicago. Preston conceived and wrote book, music and lyrics for We Are The Tigers, A New Musical (Hudson Backstage Theatre, L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation winner for Best Lyrics/Composition, nominee for Best Production and Music Direction), Remission (NYMF Developmental Reading Series), CARRIE 2: THE RAGE (An Unauthorized Musical Parody) (Feinstein's/54 Below) and My Gay Killer Husband: A Lifetime Original Musical (Boo Festival Award Winner). Additional projects include book/lyrics for Franklin Pierce: Dragon Slayer (composer Will Buck, Sound Bites 4.0 Selection), music/lyrics for Bradical and the Pink Socks (Diverging Elements), music/lyrics for The Hunted: Encore (LA Webfest Outstanding Score), book/music/lyrics for The Untitled Agent 355 Project with collaborator Jessica Kahkoska (Marion International Fellowship Recipient) and a collaboration with composer/lyricist Rob Rokicki. Preston is a graduate of the Second City Chicago Comedy Studies Program and alum of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.

Isaac Loomer (Co-Director) Originally from MN, he is excited to be putting on his director hat with long time friend Rachel Johnson for the first time since moving to Chicago. He has been obsessed with musical theatre for as far back as he can remember and is thrilled to be working on the world premiere of The Rage: Carrie 2. One of the the things that drew him to the project is a love of the famously flopped musical version of Carrie, and after reading the script to The Rage knew that it would succeed where it's predecessor had failed. It's a show that relishes in the Carrie-verse's successes and flops while still maintaining a clear relevant message for any era.

Rachel Elise Johnson (Co-Director) most recently assistant directed Underscore’s world premiere of My Name is Annie King. She also serves as Underscore’s Company Manager and has been performing in the Chicago theatre community since moving here from California.

T.J. Anderson (Music Director) Recent music direction credits include Shockheaded Peter (Black Button Eyes Productions), Now. Here. This., [title of show], A New Brain (Brown Paper Box Co.) and Borderlands (Underscore Theatre Company). He has also recently been seen onstage as an actor in productions with Brown Paper Box Co., City Lit Theater Company and 20% Theater Company. T.J. is an artistic associate with Brown Paper Box Co. and a trumpet player throughout the city.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

REVIEW: Ghosts of Ibsen and Gore Galore at Akvavit's Ghosts and Zombies Through 10/29/17

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Akvavit Theatre Presents 
GHOSTS & zombies
By Henrik Ibsen & Gustav Tegby
Translated by Chad Eric Bergman

(left to right)  Micah Kronlokken, Victor Bayona and Marsha Harman with the cast of Akvavit Theatre’s production of GHOSTS & zombies. 
All Photos by Karl Clifton-Soderstrom.

I must say, this is the most thought provoking production with a blood splatter zone that I've ever seen. There are enough ax murders to make Lizzy Borden blush, and quite a few deaths by gunfire too. What's an outwardly fine, upstanding, philanthropic family without a few skeletons in the closet and in this case, zombies in the cellar as well? Ghosts and Zombies is high camp, to be sure, yet the script is surprisingly multilayered and nuanced.

(left to right) Marsha Harman, Christiane Schaldemose and Micah Kronlokken 

Staging is quite clever, with ample windows for optimal zombie viewing and access. The cellar is also a great off stage space, ripe for the imagining. Though a one room set is all that's shown, the four off stage spaces are brought vividly to life.

(left to right) Victor Bayona, Marsha Harman and Jeremy Trager 

Pastor Manders (Jeremy Trager) is a fascinating character in both his arrogance and fanaticism. His character flaws and courses of action speak volumes, and his facial expressions and agonizing transformation are something to see. This is as much a fight against internal as external monsters. 

 (left to right)  Victor Bayona and Jeremy Trager

There are even feminist overtones, as the smart and capable family matriarch, Mrs. Helene Alving (Marsha Harman), struggles with the soul eating burden of a philandering, drunk, ailing husband, and a lack of recognition for her own accomplishments. Victor Bayona is as horrifying as he is hilarious as zombie Chamberlain Alving. Chafing against the constraints of duty, responsibility and expectation for too many years, Helene Alving is driven, determined and delightfully jaded. Just as she seems finally free to escape the ghosts of hidden family secrets and the zombies of burdensome living relatives, history is doomed to repeat. 

(back, l to r) Micah Kronlokken and Marsha Harman with the cast of Akvavit Theatre’s production of GHOSTS & zombies. 

Catch GHOSTS & zombies while you still can. They'll be lurching off into the darkness after 10/29, just in time for Halloween.

Directed by Co-Artistic Director Breahan Pautsch
September 28 - October 29, 2017 at Strawdog Theatre Company

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we're ready for the fall chill in the air and a touch of the macabre. We're also jazzed for Akvavit's latest, an updated spin on Ibsen by contemporary Swedish playwright, Gustav Tegby. 

I'm descended from Swedes who came to Chicago on a boat so rickety it sank on the return voyage! This is my heritage and ancestry and I adore the Akvavit's poetic mission statement. 

About Akvavit Theatre
Akvavit Theatre is haunted by Nordic visions: deep forests and ice-blue seas, the patience of the glacier, the sudden fury of the volcano, the arctic light and silence. Seeking the universal through the voices of contemporary Nordic playwrights, Akvavit Theatre is a kind of homecoming, a connecting back to the lands whose people and cultures have for generations been a part of the great prairies of North America that we call home. And like our namesake beverage, Akvavit brings a “strong spirit” to the work that we produce. Skål, Skál, Kippis! For additional information, visit

 (front, l to r) Almanya Narula, Marsha Harman and Micah Kronlokken 
with (back) Victor Bayona  

Just in time to get you in the Halloween spirit, Akvavit Theatre is pleased to present GHOSTS & zombies, by Henrik Ibsen and Gustav Tegby, in a new American translation by Chad Eric Bergman*, directed by Co-Artistic Director Breahan Pautsch*. This dark and hilarious contemporary Swedish twist on Ibsen’s Norwegian classic Ghosts, will play September 28 - October 29, 2017 at the new Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice in Chicago. Tickets on sale at

GHOSTS & zombies will feature Marsha Harman as Mrs. Helene Alving, Victor Bayona as Chamberlain Alving, Jeremy Trager as Pastor Manders, Joshua K. Harris as Carpenter Engstrand, Micah Kronlokken* as Osvald and Almanya Narula as Regine with and ensemble including Jessica Kearney, Dylan M. Lainez, Madelyn Loehr*, Christiane Schaldemose, Erik Schiller and Tyler Skafgaard.

GHOSTS & zombies puts a blood-curdling spin on Ibsen's classic drama, Ghosts. As in the original, Mrs. Alving is preparing to open an orphanage in her husband's memory, while welcoming her son home from a long absence. However, things soon take a turn for the weird and scary as their country estate becomes overrun by the un-dead. Haunted by the ghosts of her past, Mrs. Alving now finds herself confronted by zombies that she is forced to stand and fight. GHOSTS & zombies shows us that we can try to bury the parts of our life we would rather forget, but we cannot control whether they walk again – slowly, hungrily – in our direction.

(left to right)  Almanya Narula, Micah Kronlokken and Marsha Harman

The production team for GHOSTS & zombies includes: Chad Eric Bergman* (set design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), David Goodman-Edberg (lighting design), Nigel Harsch* (sound designer), Leticha Guillaud (properties design), Kirstin Franklin* (casting director), Bethany Weise (asst. costume designer), R&D Choreography (violence design), Christiane Schaldemose (music direction), Chris Waldron (asst. director), Amy Hopkins (production manager), Harrison Ornelas (technical director), Hannah Harper-Smith (stage manager) and Katy Grabarski (asst. stage manager).

Location: Strawdog Theatre Company,1802 W. Berenice, Chicago
Dates: Preview: Thursday, September 28 at 8 pm
Regular run: Saturday, September 30 – Sunday, October 29, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 4 pm.

Tickets: Regular Run: $25. Students/seniors/industry $15. Tickets available at

*Denotes Akvavit Theatre company members.

Akvavit Theatre is also pleased to announce the addition of new company member Madelyn Loehr and associate company member Maggie Fullilove-Nugent.

(left to right) Marsha Harman, Almanya Narula, Victor Bayona and Micah Kronlokken

Artist Biographies
Gustav Tegby (Playwright) was born in Umeå, Sweden in 1980, where he also grew up. He has written about twenty plays played at, among others, Drama, Malmö City Theater, Uppsala City Theater and a number of different free groups across Sweden, as well as in Finland and the USA. Among the titles noted, Gargantua was released to Bibu in 2014 and Everyone Loves Bernie Madoff, a raid scene version of the true and completely unlikely story of Wall Street's greatest scammers. The latter was set up on three different theaters and was also filmed for SVT's project Pulse in Sweden. As a dramatist, Gustav has been interested in popular culture, and especially for the horror genre – he has among other things given Ibsen's Gengångare an odd twist in his variant Ghosts & zombies, where the infection of Mrs. Alving's son is drawn to something worse than syphilis. In the summer of 2016 he was one of the authors of Sweden's Radio Drama's major success, The Voices of the Dead, a fictional horror documentary in eight parts. Gustav had previously run the Drama Cup for many years. He also works as a dramaturg at the National Theater.

Chad Eric Bergman (Translator) actively collaborates in the Chicago storefront scene having worked with Stage Left, Live Bait, Chicago Dramatists, MPAACT, parker, Plasticene and Akvavit in various artistic ways. He has been an artist in residence at the Ragdale Foundation and the University of Chicago’s Summer Incubator. He spent a year in Finland on a Fulbright exploring bilingual theatre. At North Park University, he has been developing a theatre curriculum that is based on the Chicago storefront theatre model.

Breahan Eve Pautsch (Director) is originally from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. She earned her BA in Theatre and English at UW-Madison and has been working in Chicago as an actor and director since 2003. She has been a company member with Akvavit Theatre since 2011, where she served as Literary Manager and Director of Development for several years before taking the position of co-Artistic Director at the beginning of 2017. She is also a company member with Indie Boots Theatre.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Too Much Fright Makes The Baby Go Blind One Night Only 10/30


The Neo-Futurists creep into fall with a chilling Halloween performance of Too Much Fright Makes The Baby Go Blind, 30 plays in 60 minutes, written and performed by The Neo-Futurists, curated by Trevor Dawkins, on Sunday, Oct. 30; doors open at 10 p.m., performance begins at 10:30p.m. This Halloween spin on the long-running sensation Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is performed at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. Tickets are $20 and advanced reservations and costumes are strongly encouraged! For tickets and information visit or call 773-275-5255. 

The Neo-Futurists brutalize the senses with Too Much Fright Makes the Baby Go Blind, a special Halloween horde of 30 plays performed in 60 merciless minutes that explore the macabre, the strange, the unknowable terrors of the back of your mind. Expect dark humor, heavy metal and existential dread. Also, expect candy. 

The Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member and Too Much Fright Curator Dawkins says, "Too Much Fright is like one of those nightmares you realize is just a nightmare halfway through and then, suddenly you have complete control over it and you can, like, fly and stuff and it's way way less scary and way more empowering and all around awesome.”

The cast for Too Much Fright includes The Neo-Futurists’ Ensemble Members Trevor Dawkins, Ida Cuttler, Lily Mooney, Nick Hart, Bilal Dardai and Malic White.

The Neo-Futurists, performers of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind and creators of over 65 original, full-length productions, are a collective of wildly productive writer-director-performers who are committed to creating immediate, non-illusory, irreproducible events at head-slappingly affordable prices. The Neo-Futurists pioneered a new form of theater in 1988, launching what became Chicago’s longest running show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, now in its 28th year. From humble beginnings as the first late-night theater production in Chicago, The Neo-Futurists have grown to become one of the most highly regarded experimental theater companies in America. More than 70 Ensemble-alumni have added thousands of new works to the American theatre canon and today branches bring Neo-Futurism to both coasts in New York City and San Francisco.

The Neo-Futurists Too Much Fright Makes The Baby Go Blind, 30 plays in 60 minutes, written and performed by The Neo-Futurists, curated by Trevor Dawkins, on Sunday, Oct. 30; doors open at 10 p.m., performance begins at 10:30p.m. This Halloween spin on the long-running sensation Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is performed at the Neo-Futurarium, 5134 N. Ashland Ave. Tickets are $20 and advanced reservations and costumes are strongly encouraged! For tickets and information visit or call 773-275-5255.

The Neo-Futurists are partially supported by The Alphawood Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Via League of Chicago Theatres:

Show Openings

50 Shades! The Musical - Broadway In Chicago
Lord of the Flies - Steppenwolf Theatre *High on ChiIL Live Shows' must see list/tween & teen friendly

The Odd Couple (Female Version) - Greenhouse Theater Center
The Rocky Horror Show - pH Productions
The Sovereign Statement - The Neo-Futurists
We Will Rock You - Broadway in Chicago *ChiIL Live Shows will be there to review opening night.   Queen is both of my kids' all time favorite band.   So, we can NOT wait for this one!

The Wedding Singer - Haven Theatre

Show Closings

4000 Miles - Northlight Theatre  *Highly recommended.   Poignant and powerful piece about grief, recovery, friendship and family across generations.

9 to 5 - Chicago Heights Drama Group
Cloud 9 - The Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts
The Crownless King - The House Theatre of Chicago *Oh so highly recommended!  One of our favs this season.   Do not miss this one.   If you've been putting it off, GO already!

How We Got On - Citadel Theatre
Pullman Porter Blues - Goodman Theatre  *Pure delight, and consummate historical story telling.   We adored the full blown train set, and the acting and singing is supurb!   This train's leaving the station October 27th, so go already.

Google Analytics