Showing posts with label Jefferson Park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jefferson Park. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

OPENING: HAMLET Via The Gift Theatre 6/1-7/29/18

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

The Gift Theatre 
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Guest Artist Monty Cole
June 1 – July 29, 2018

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we've long been big fans of Gift Theatre's little space. They're outliers from all the cities various theatre districts, but well worth the trek to Jefferson Park on Chicago's northwest side. They've made a go of it for 17 seasons, with intimate, excellent, and award winning productions. Gift often likes to play vertically with multilayered shows, physically and mentally. We're eager to catch their take on Hamlet.

The Gift Theatre is pleased to announce casting for William Shakespeare’s HAMLET, directed by guest artist Monty Cole. The Gift’s production of the Bard’s great tragedy will crack open the mind of one of western drama's most fascinating and complex characters. 

The cast of The Gift Theatre’s HAMLET includes (top, l to r) John Kelly Connolly, Robert Cornelius, Shanésia Davis, Gregory Fenner and Daniel Kyri (bottom, l to r) Martel Manning, Casey Morris, Jake Szczepaniak, Hannah Toriumi and Netta Walker.

HAMLET will feature Daniel Kyri as Hamlet with Gift ensemble members John Kelly Connolly* as Claudius, Gregory Fenner* as Laertes, Martel Manning* as Guildenstern and Hannah Toriumi* as Rosencrantz, and guest artists Robert Cornelius as Ghost/Polonius, Shanésia Davis as Gertrude, Casey Morris as Horatio, Jake Szczepaniak as Fortinbras/Marcellus/Gravedigger and Netta Walker as Ophelia.

HAMLET will play June 1 – July 29, 2018 at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood. Single tickets and season subscriptions are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting The press opening is Thursday, June 7 at 7:30 pm

After the death of his dad, a young black man named Hamlet returns home to grieve and seek revenge. Fighting against the injustice of his father's murder and the powers that want him out of the picture, Hamlet quickly loses power and sanity. 

Director Monty Cole comments, “Over the last year, this script has only become more personal to me and my production team. What makes this Hamlet unique isn’t necessarily “a new spin” from me but rather a process of personalization from incredibly respected Chicago artists working to make this 400 year old story feel prescient.”

Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton adds, “Experiencing Shakespeare at The Gift is electrifying. In our intimate space, we can deliver performances that mirror Hamlet’s advice to the players: stripped-down, clear, lyrical, and conversational. To be mere feet away from Hamlet’s heartache and blazing mind would be gift enough; with the colossal talents of these artists, our HAMLET will be one for the ages.”

The production team for HAMLET includes: William Boles (scenic design), Samantha Jones (costume design) Claire Chrzan and Michelle Benda (lighting design) Jeffery Levin (sound design) and Michael Petersen, Ph.D. (dramaturg).  

Location: The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Friday, June 1 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, June 2 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, June 3 at 2:30 pm and Wednesday, June 6 at 7:30 pm
Press openings: Thursday, June 7 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Friday, June 8 – Sunday, July 29, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm. Please note: there will not be a 3:30 pm performance on Saturday, June 9.

Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $35 – $40. Single and season subscriptions are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting

*Denotes Gift Theatre ensemble member

About the Director
Monty Cole is a director based in Chicago and Los Angeles. Cole has directed for The Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, American Theatre Company, Definition Theater Company/ALTA, The House Theatre of Chicago, the Chicago Theater Marathon, California Institute of the Arts and others. Cole directed the critically acclaimed and Jeff Award winning production of The Hairy Ape for Oracle Productions. Monty is working with collaborator and choreographer Breon Arzell on revitalizing In Dahomey, the first black written and performed Broadway musical from 1903 for the Center for New Performance. Recently, he directed Kiss by Guillermo Calderon at the California Institute of the Arts where he is currently an MFA2 Directing candidate.

About The Gift Theatre
The Gift’s 17th season consists of Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by Jess McLeod (March 2 – April 29, 2018); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1 – July 29, 2018); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton (October 12 –December 9, 2018). The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at or by calling (773) 283-7071. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Playwright DAVID RABE Joins Chicago's GIFT THEATRE Ensemble


The Gift Theatre’s artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton, co-founder William Nedved and associate artistic director Paul D'Addario are proud to announce Tony Award-winning playwright David Rabe has joined the ensemble. Conceived in 1997 by Michael Patrick Thornton and William Nedved, The Gift Theatre’s mission was to grow and nurture an ensemble while laying roots in an artistically underserved Chicago neighborhood. Today, The Gift Theatre thrives in Jefferson Park as Chicago’s most intimate Equity theater, home to a nationally respected ensemble and daring new plays.

Rabe received a Tony Award for Best Play in 1972 for Sticks and Bones and also received Tony Award nominations for Best Play in 1974 for In the Boom Boom Room, 1977's Streamers and 1985's Hurlyburly. His critically acclaimed play Good for Otto received its world premiere at The Gift Theatre in 2015.

“Working with The Gift on Good for Otto, holed up in a hotel, pouring over text, and forging many more rewrites than I'd anticipated, more than anything I'd ever written before on a play already in rehearsal, I went into our ongoing rehearsals every day knowing that the actors of the ensemble would be there ready to take an enthusiastic run under Mike's simpatico eye at whatever I'd come up with,” says Rabe. “And then at a recent reading of a play whose scary, elusive tone escapes many actors, the ensemble members seated at the table with Mike and me found that tone within a few pages so effectively that their performances prompted such contagious laughter in all of us that it brought things to a halt more than once. It was some time ago that Mike invited me into the ensemble, but I'm hesitant to join anything other than unions or guilds. But a few days ago, remembering the reading, I thought: David, wake up. What are you waiting for? I wrote Mike to see if the door was still open. He checked with the cocker spaniel who he said makes these decisions, and I was told he approved. I'm ready to go.”

Similarly thrilled, Thornton comments, “Today marks the culmination of over a decade of producing and collaborating with David Rabe and his stunning works of art. From the earliest days of The Gift, David’s ouevre—powerfully searching, poetic, magical, haunted, and yearning—has always felt absolutely central to the emotional and ethical heart of The Gift. He has been such an aesthetic north star for us for so long that we are humbled and vivified to call David Rabe an ensemble member of The Gift. We’re excited to get to work.”

The ensemble is composed of actors, directors, writers and improvisers. For more than 15 years, The Gift Theatre has earned and deepened its reputation as an ensemble dedicated to acting of the highest caliber and a welcome home for new plays.

The now 32-member ensemble also includes:  Danny Ahlfeld, Maggie Andersen, Cyd Blakewell, Brittany Burch, Hillary Clemens, John Kelly Connolly, Paul D’Addario, Jenny Connell Davis, Brendan Donaldson, Will Eno, James D. Farruggio, Ed Flynn, Gabriel Franken, John Gawlik, Andrew Hinderaker, Marti Lyons, Alexandra Main, Laura Marks, Kenny Mihlfried, Benjamin Montague, Darci Nalepa, Keith Neagle, William Nedved, Lynda Newton, Sheldon Patinkin (in loving memory), Maureen Payne-Hahner, Mary Ann Thebus, Michael Patrick Thornton, Erica Weiss, Jay Worthington and Kyle Zornes.

About The Gift Theatre
TEN, The Gift’s annual kickoff celebration of ten-minute plays curated by artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton and associate artistic director Paul D'Addario took place in January. The all-new season consists of three world premieres and kicks off in February with Mona Mansour’s war-torn drama Unseen, directed by ensemble member Maureen Payne-Hahner (February 10–April 9), followed by Claire Kiechel’s futuristic Pilgrims, co-directed by ensemble member Michael Patrick Thornton and guest artist Jessica Thebus (June 2-July 30). The  season closes with Janine Nabers’ time-hopping love story A Swell in the Ground, directed by guest artist Chika Ike (October 13-December 10). Season subscriptions are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at or call 773-283-7071.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Written and performed by Valerie Hager
Directed by Scott Wesley Slavin
As featured in the 2013 Chicago Fringe Festival
 The Gift Theatre, 
4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. 

Friday, Aug. 30. 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 8/31,  5:30 p.m. or Monday, Sept. 2, 7 p.m. performances


Legendary Hearts Productions presents Valerie Hager’s critically acclaimed autobiographical Fringe Festival hit “Naked In Alaska,” directed by Scott Wesley Slavin, at The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Aug. 30 – Sept. 2 as part of the Chicago Fringe Festival. For tickets or more information visit
Written by and starring actress and movement artist Valerie Hager, “Naked in Alaska” follows Hager through her 10-year career as an exotic dancer in strip clubs from Mexico to Alaska to California as she strives to redeem the outcast and addict she became during childhood and adolescence. “Utilizing much humor and some very impressive pole dancing, the story unfolds as Valerie combines vulnerability and honesty with the survival skills needed to navigate the murky world of strip clubs and private party rooms…You will root for her indomitable spirit and celebrate the triumph of Valerie Hager in ‘Naked In Alaska’,” says
At 21, newly sober and recently evicted, Valerie is invited by her best friend Raven to work at a strip club in Tijuana, Mexico. An evening that begins in innocence and excitement over making some easy cash seduces her into a 10-year career that tests the limits of friendship and her will to survive. In this solo work, Hager portrays more than a dozen characters that danced in and frequented the clubs.
“‘Naked in Alaska’ is a fearless look at the objects we make of ourselves to fit in and the buried truths we must face to have a chance of coming home,” says Hager. She began working on “Naked In Alaska”  in a series of developmental workshops. “I was at a place in my life where the traditional ways of getting work as an actor weren't working for me. So I began to explore the experiences I had as a meth-addicted teenager and exotic dancer. As I began to open up and share my story, I saw how it impacted and connected with people. I realized I had to develop this part of my life into a longer narrative because I believed it could inspire and empower others who have felt different or on the fringe.”
In early 2012, with the support of Stage Left’s Cheryl King, Hager performed “Naked In Alaska” at New York’s Stage Left Studio. In mid-2012, Scott Wesley Slavin came on board as “Naked In Alaska's” director and dramaturge. Slavin continues to work with Hager on both “Naked in Alaska” and other original pieces for The Room's Salon Series (which Hager and Slavin co-founded), as well as other celebrated venues.

To date, “Naked in Alaska” has been accepted into seven festivals and series including New York’s Emerging Artists Theatre Festival, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, Women at Work Festival, EstroGenius Festival, Dixon Place Performance Series, the New York International Fringe Festival and the Chicago Fringe Festival. For more information about Valerie Hager and “Naked in Alaska” visit
Legendary Hearts Productions presents Valerie Hager’s “Naked In Alaska,” as part of the Chicago Fringe Festival at The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Friday, Aug. 30 at 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. For tickets or more information visit

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