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Showing posts with label Mercury Theater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mercury Theater. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Shows On Our Radar: AVENUE Q FUZZING UP THE MERCURY Through September 9th, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

AVENUE Q RETURNS TO THE MERCURY
Our homegrown production of 
AVENUE Q 
lovingly revived on the Mercury stage! 
After entertaining nearly 30,000 people over 169 shows and breaking all box office records for Mercury Theater Chicago, these sassy and lovable puppets are back for more fun and mischief.


**NOT FOR CHILDREN BUT HILARIOUS FOR THE REST OF US**
AVENUE Q may not be appropriate for young children because it addresses issues like sex, drinking, and surfing the web for porn. Parents should use their discretion based on the maturity level of their children.


Come see what all the fuzz is about!  

I caught the press opening the last time Avenue Q played The Mercury years ago, and can't wait to return and experience it again. This time my son's 17 and old enough to be my +1, so I'm even more excited to vicariously enjoy his first time catching Avenue Q. It's an absolute favorite of mine, and The Mercury's intimate space and stellar staging is the best! Avenue Q makes for an excellent adult night out, or a fabulously fun way to mortify your older teens. Don't miss this. 

 
Winner of the Tony "Triple Crown" for Best Musical, Best Score
and Best Book in 2004, AVENUE Q is part flesh,
part felt, and packed with heart.

NOW PLAYING THROUGH SEPTEMBER 9TH





Audience members are falling in love with our newly revived production of AVENUE Q.

AVENUE Q will reunite several beloved cast members from 2014 including Jackson Evans as Princeton and Leah Morrow who will reprise her Jeff Award nominated role as Kate Monster. The production is led by Jeff Award Winners L. Walter Stearns (director), Eugene Dizon (musical direction), and Kevin Bellie (choreography) and features custom made puppets by Russ Walko. Winner of the Tony "Triple Crown" for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book in 2004, AVENUE Q is part flesh, part felt, and packed with heart.

We’re honored to have master puppeteer, actor, puppet designer and builder Rick Lyon to lead puppetry training. Rick was a puppeteer on Sesame Street for 15 seasons as one of the operators of Big Bird; the first puppet he built as a child was Kermit the frog. He appeared on Broadway originating the roles of Trekkie Monster, Nicky, the blue Bad Idea Bear, and other characters in AVENUE Q, for which he designed and created all of the puppets. In the fall of 2005 he reprised his roles in the production of the show in Las Vegas for eight months before returning to the Broadway cast. Since 2006, he has built puppets and coached productions in a number of countries including Sweden, Finland, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, France, Australia and China.




A racy cross between South Park and Sesame Street, AVENUE Q is a modern musical focusing on a group of unique 20-somethings making their way in the big city, seeking their purpose in life. Director L. Walter Stearns explains that the real magic of the show is when the audience “forgets that the puppets are nothing more than fur and felt and start to believe they have a mind, heart and soul.” It tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that although the residents seem nice, it's clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates and their ever-elusive purpose in life. Although AVENUE Q addresses humorous adult issues, it is similar to a beloved children's show: a place where puppets are friends, monsters are good and life lessons are learned.






Whether it's your first time or 100th time seeing the show, it never fails to touch your heart and make you smile.



Director L. Walter Stearns explains that the real magic of the show is when the audience “forgets that the puppets are nothing more than fur and felt and start to believe they have a mind, heart and soul.”



AVENUE Q is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on AVENUE Q. He soon discovers that although the residents seem nice, it's clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life.



Filled with gut-busting humor and a delightfully catchy score, Avenue Q has become a favorite for audiences everywhere. 

The production opened Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in March 2003, where it won the 2003 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Musical, as well as a nomination for the 2003 Outer Critics Circle Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical award. It played on Broadway at the Golden Theatre from 2003 through 2009 and is currently playing Off-Broadway once again at New World Stages. Mercury Theater Chicago's 2014 production of AVENUE Q won a total of five Broadway World Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Direction and was nominated for four Joseph Jefferson Awards including “Production – Musical – Midsize”. Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune described the show as “delightfully sweet and vulnerable…could not be more fun or charming to watch!” and the Chicago Sun-Times Highly Recommended the show saying it was “better than the Broadway original!”



AVENUE Q features Music and Lyrics by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (co-creator of THE BOOK OF MORMON and recent Academy Award winner for FROZEN) and a Book by Jeff Whitty. We’re thrilled to reunite several cast members from 2014 including Jackson Evans as Princeton, Leah Morrow as Kate Monster, Daniel Smeriglio as Nicky and Stephanie Herman as Lucy the Slut. We’ll also welcome talented new faces to the AVENUE Q family including Jonah D. Winston as Trekkie Monster, Christian Siebert as Rod, Audrey J. Billings as Christmas Eve, Matthew Miles as Brian and David S. Robbins as Gary Coleman. John Gurdian, Andrew Lund, Maxton Smith, Janelle Villas and Stephanie Wohar will round out the AVENUE Q family. The design team includes Alan Donahue (scenic design), Rachel Boylan (costume design), Dustin L. Derry (lighting design) and Max Maxin IV (video design). Stage management is by Kristi Martens with assistant stage manager Kaitlin Moser.

Individual tickets range from $35-$65, and are available online at www.MercuryTheaterChicago.com, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago. Audience members are invited to upgrade their experience with an exclusive Post-Show Backstage Experience including a brief backstage tour, puppetry demonstration and Avenue Q souvenir for an additional $25 per person.




Get a behind-the-scenes look at Avenue Q Puppet Camp with original B'way cast member Rick Lyon:

BACKSTAGE EXPERIENCE:
Upgrade your experience at AVENUE Q with a backstage pass and get exclusive behind-the-scenes access after the show including a brief backstage tour, puppetry demonstration and Avenue Q souvenir.






Check out Mercury Theatre's site for dates, times and info and order your tickets today.


The beautifully renovated Mercury Theater Chicago is an intimate jewel box of a theater in the heart of the Southport Corridor, a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from Wrigley Field. A delightful theater destination, Mercury Theater Chicago takes care of its guests from the moment they arrive with valet service and dining at its adjoining restaurant, Grassroots. Under the Direction of L. Walter Stearns, Mercury Theater Chicago will follow AVENUE Q with a production of PIPPIN in Venus Cabaret Theater (August 16 to October 14, 2018).

AVENUE Q runs through September 9th. The performance schedule is Wednesdays at 8pm, Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5pm and 8:30pm and Sundays at 3pm. Sunday evening performances at 7:30pm will be added on July 22nd.







Friday, December 15, 2017

REVIEW: The Christmas Schooner Returns For Its Annual Holiday Voyage at Mercury Theater Through 12/31/17

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List:

Mercury Theater Chicago
THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER SETS SAIL 
Through December 31, 2017



Review: 
by Catherine Hellmann, guest writer 

Inspired by true events, The Christmas Schooner is a delightful musical currently playing at the Mercury Theater through the month of December. If you haven't seen it, the show is a wonderful addition to the other holiday-themed theatrical offerings now running in the Windy City. In its seventh year, The Christmas Schooner relates an inspiring story of a Michigan family who braved the icy waters of Lake Michigan to bring Christmas trees from the Upper Peninsula to Clark Street Docks in Chicago in the early 1900s. Selling the trees for fifty cents to a dollar apiece, Captain Herman Schuenemann would also give trees away to the needy. A letter from his cousin in Chicago woefully explains there are no evergreen trees to be had in the bustling city for her beloved Tannenbaum. Against his wife's wishes, she realizes a winter storm on the lake can be deadly, the captain is determined to bring Christmas cheer to the German immigrants of Chicago.
  
The first outing seems foolhardy, and wife Alma's dismay of her husband, Captain Peter Stossel, daring such a journey in the dead of winter is shown amusingly by Brianna Borger's silent treatment and angry knitting. Ms. Borger has a lovely voice and her stage presence is warm and perfect as the supportive wife, mother, and daughter-in-law. Her husband is played dutifully by a returning Stef Tovar, who was so convincing, and unrecognizable, as the lead character in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City. Also of particular note is Don Forston as the German grandfather Gustav Stossel. He lapses into his native German frequently at the beginning, but his daughter-in-law admonishes him to "speak in American." He also utters a "Gott im Himmel!" disguising his swearing in German. Coincidentally, my own father recalled his German grandmother using the exact same phrase when she wanted to curse in front of her grandchildren!  

The costumes and songs are delightful, and my companion and I enjoyed learning a little bit more about Chicago's immigrant past. One of the most memorable songs was the haunting "What Is It about the Water?" We forget what these ship workers and sailors went through, and how anxious life on land was for their patiently waiting wives.  



(There is also a funny scene about how the city could also be a dangerous place not to be trusted as a swindler takes advantage of the Michigan visitors and their gullibility.) On the first voyage, uncertain whether the crew would sell a single tree, they are shockingly greeted with a crowd of 500 people, mostly European immigrants who want to experience the familiar Christmas ritual of decorating a tree in their homes. The "Christmas Schooner," as it becomes dubbed, makes several subsequent journeys for years until tragedy strikes. The danger on the Great Lakes is very real. Interestingly, the last year of the original Christmas Schooner was also the year the Mercury theater opened in 1912.  

Plan to make The Christmas Schooner a part of your family tradition. It will sail into your hearts.

Individual tickets range from $30-$69, and are available online at www.MercuryTheaterChicago.com, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago. 



Meet the creative team of THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER! from Mercury Theater Chicago on Vimeo.

Hear from Director L. Walter Stearns, Music Director Eugene Dizon and Choreographer Brenda Didier and learn why THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is so special to them.



Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Avenue – THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER will be sailing for its seventh year at Mercury Theater Chicago, from November 24 through December 31, 2017. We are pleased to welcome new cast members to the Schooner family including Nicole Armold, Harter Clingman, Jared Rein, Ron Keaton, Ryan Stajmiger and Holly Stauder with Don Forston returning at the helm as “Gustav Stossel.” The cast will be led by the Jeff-award winning team of L. Walter Stearns (Director), Eugene Dizon (Musical Director) and Brenda Didier (Choreographer). Whether it is your first or tenth time seeing THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER, this heartwarming Chicago-centric story never fails to remind us what the holidays are all about: sharing love.


The whole family will enjoy this heartwarming musical story of the first Christmas tree ship and the family who risked their lives to fill Chicago with the Christmas spirit. Hailed as "A sacred part of a Chicago Christmas!" by the Chicago Tribune, this production has become one of Chicago’s great holiday traditions. The production features a powerful, moving story, an exquisite score of original music and traditional holiday favorites.
 
Director L. Walter Stearns: “There are a great many holiday shows to choose from, but the importance of continuing THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is too great, not only to us personally, but to the families who have made us part of their holiday tradition each year. This show is a holiday slice of Chicago history...a story of immigrants sharing their family traditions. It seems we need that reminder this year more than ever”

 
The shipwreck of the Rouse Simmons, known as 'The Christmas Tree Ship,' served as inspiration for THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER. Her captain and crew risked the notoriously violent winter lake to bring Christmas trees from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chicago's German immigrants. Each year, Captain Herman Schuenemann would sell trees right off of the ship at the Clark Street Docks, and was known to give free trees to the needy. On November 23, 1912, the ship was swept up in a terrible storm. It was not until 59 years later that she was discovered, lying in 170 feet of water. Today the Rouse Simmons and her cargo of 5,500 well stacked trees remain preserved in the cold, fresh waters of Lake Michigan and her legend has grown to mythical proportions. The Blaine Nickelodeon - the silent film theater that now houses the Mercury - opened that very same year.
 
THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER has entertained audiences in hundreds of productions including a twelve-year run at Chicago's Bailiwick Repertory Theatre. A timely and uplifting tale of love, THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is a poignant ode to the rich legacy of Chicago and a reminder of our responsibility to celebrate the living while honoring our heritage. In 2011, Mercury Theater Chicago revived THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER with a full orchestra and an all-star cast, garnering a "Best Production" nomination for the 2012 Jeff Awards. 

The production has been called "A grand family tradition!" by the Chicago Tribune and "An inheritance to be treasured...Highly recommended!" by the Chicago Sun-Times. Time Out Chicago Kids says that “An emotion-packed, Christmas-themed tale of redemption give the Mercury Theater’s production of THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER all the trappings of a family holiday tradition in the making!"



THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is written by Chicagoans John Reeger (book) and Julie Shannon (music and lyrics).  Don Forston will return to the helm as ‘Gustav Stossel’ with Brianna Borger as Alma and Stef Tovar as Peter Stossel.  Rounding out the crew on this year's schooner voyage are Kelly Anne Clark, Dan Gold and Christian Libonati.  New shipmates include Nicole Armold, Harter Clingman, Leo Gonzalez, Stella Hoyt, Ben Miller, Jared Rein, Ryan Stajmiger, Holly Stauder and Elise Wolf. The scenic design is by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod, with costume design by Carol Blanchard and sound design by Mike Ross.

The beautifully renovated Mercury Theater Chicago is an intimate jewel box of a theater in the heart of the Southport Corridor, a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from Wrigley Field. A delightful theater destination, Mercury Theater Chicago takes care of its guests from the moment they arrive with valet service and dining at its adjoining restaurant, Grassroots.
 
The performance schedule for THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is Wednesdays at 8pm, Thursdays at 3pm and 8pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm.  There are additional holiday performances on Tuesday, December 19th at 8pm and Tuesday, December 26th at 8:00pm.

 
Connect with us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/MercuryChicago
 


Upgrade your evening. Click image for details:


Saturday, August 12, 2017

REVIEW: "HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" at Mercury Theater Through 9/17

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

**As I'm recovering from major knee surgery, Cath Hellmann will be guest reviewing for me throughout August. Cath is a lifelong theatre lover, on stage, directing, and in the audience. She's an English teacher, mom of three, and elated to be living in Chicago again, after a 10 year stint in the wilds of rural Michigan near Kalamazoo. **


Photo Credit for all: Brett A. Beiner



Guest Review by Cath Hellmann

On the way into the charming and intimate Mercury Theater, I spot a couple of anti-Trump buttons. It is an instant reminder that a hippie musical which premiered fifty years ago with its message of love, anti-war sentiment, and feeling disenfranchised from one's government is still sadly relevant today. In fact, a couple of the actors in their bios encourage the audience to support the ACLU or other causes in these troubling times.  



Even with its political intent, "HAIR" is a hell of a great experience at the theater with impressive singing, familiar songs you didn't think you knew, and exuberant performances, particularly by Matthew Keefer as Berger and Evan Tyrone Martin as Hud.

The transport back to the era of the late sixties begins immediately when an usher walks down the aisle bearing a sign with the requisite "turn your cell phone off" direction instead of a house manager announcing the rules. A lone woman with a large afro appears in the balcony singing about "When the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets..." Suddenly the rest of the cast bursts in from the backstage door to join her in "The Age of Aquarius." ("They look like they just got back from Bonnaroo," my Mexican-Hippie-Music Lover-Companion [permission was suggested and granted for this nickname] whispers.  



When "HAIR" opened on Broadway in April 1968, it ran for an astonishing 1,750 performances. A Broadway revival in 2009 earned a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for 2009 Best Revival of a Musical. TIME magazine stated in 2008 that "HAIR seems, if anything, more daring than ever." Indeed, one of the songs, "Sodomy," has the lyrics:  "Sodomy, Fellatio, Cunnilingus, Pederasty—Father, why do these words sound so nasty? Masturbation can be fun."  Hmmm...I had season tickets to Lyric Opera for a decade and never read anything close to that in the super titles.  

The plot of "HAIR" is rather thin, with the exception of Claude, played by Liam Quealy, torn over the peer pressure to burn his draft card or please his parents by being shipped off. One of the most affecting lines in the entire show is: "We're all Vietnam Bait." (Another modern tie-in: my teenage son's friend just joined the Marines. As his mother said, "I wouldn't be so worried if Obama was still in office." Parents are still scared for the safety of their children over our leader's political mistakes and hubris.)  

The music, performances, and message drive the show. Matthew Keefer's sexy portrayal of Berger is such fun to watch, as he kisses both genders, strips down to his loincloth, and sings about peace and love. Lucy Godinez, who was so poignant in Porchlight Music Theatre's "In the Heights," delivers as another effective character, the naïve and pregnant Jeanie. In an additional eerie display of timeliness, Hud, played by Evan Tyrone Martin, warns in "Colored Spade," confronting racial stereotypes, "And if you don't watch out, the boogie man will get you. Boo!" 

 

"HAIR" is known for its groovy costumes, drug references, nudity, rebelliousness, preaching love, and community. The ensemble at Mercury does not disappoint; when the entire group first raised their voices in unison, I got goosebumps. Such power from a small but mighty group of performers was inspiring.  At the end of Act I, when the cast strips down, the display of colored lights keeps the display of skin fairly hidden. Or as my surprised companion hissed, "I've never seen so many tits and dicks onstage!"   





Great singing, fabulous energy, a positive message of love and acceptance, "tits and dicks onstage." "HAIR," running at the Mercury Theater at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, through September 17, has it all. Read more here. Bring your friends for an exciting outing of theater. Maybe leave the kids and Grandma at home to watch Lawrence Welk. Peace out.  


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

OPENING: HAIR: THE AMERICAN TRIBAL LOVE-ROCK MUSICAL at Mercury Theater Chicago 7/27-9/17

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Mercury Theater Chicago Casting Announcement 
HAIR: THE AMERICAN 
TRIBAL LOVE-ROCK MUSICAL
July 27 – September 17, 2017


**Note: The production contains scenes that briefly depict 
profanity, nudity and simulated drug use.** 

Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Avenue – is pleased to announce the cast of HAIR: THE AMERICAN TRIBAL LOVE-ROCK MUSICAL, playing from July 27 through September 17. Press opening is Thursday, August 3rd at 8:00pm. 

A celebration of 50 years since the 1967 “Summer of Love”, HAIR will inspire audiences to “let the sun shine in” and stand up for what they believe in. This rousing rock musical will be led by Jeff Award Winners Brenda Didier (Director) and Eugene Dizon (Musical Director) with choreography by Christopher Carter.  A talented cast of Chicago artists featuring Matt Keffer and Liam Quealy will take the stage in this celebration of love, life, and freedom. 



In the year 1967, a group of young hippies in Greenwich Village explore sex, love, and rock ‘n’ roll while fighting for civil rights and the end of the Vietnam War. A passionate cry for hope and change, HAIR defined one generation and continues to inspire today. To an infectiously energetic rock beat, the show wows audiences with songs like "Aquarius," "Good Morning Starshine," "Hair," "I Got Life," and "Let The Sun Shine In." Exploring ideas of identity, community, global responsibility and peace, HAIR remains relevant as ever as it examines what it means to be a young person in a changing world.

HAIR brought the passion and revolution of the late 1960s to audiences around the world. After an off-Broadway debut in October 1967, the show opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. Since then, numerous productions have been staged around the world. Some of the songs from its score became Top 10 hits, and a feature film adaptation was released in 1979. A Broadway revival opened in 2009, earning rave reviews and winning the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for 2009 Best Revival of a Musical. In 2008, Time magazine wrote, "Today HAIR seems, if anything, more daring than ever."

HAIR was written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, with music by Galt MacDermot. The scenic design is by Jeffry Kmiec with costume design by Robert Kuhn, lighting design by Nick Belley, sound design by Carl Wahlstrom and properties design by Mealah Heidenreich. The production stage manager is Kristi J. Martens with assistance by Hannah Wichmann.

HAIR will feature video projections designed by Peter Guither, Artistic Director of The Living Canvas, which will tell compelling stories with performers’ bodies clothed with the textures of projected images. The Living Canvas celebrates the beauty and expressive power of the human form through performance art and photography, nurturing a sense of body acceptance for performer and audience. It is spectacle and storytelling, utilizing creative lighting, sound, and multi-media imagery that interact with the human canvas. 

After an extensive casting process, Mercury Theater Chicago is pleased to introduce a talented cast of Chicago artists featuring 
Matt Keffer as “Berger” 



and Liam Quealy as “Claude.” 



The tribe will also include Caleb Baze, Chuckie Benson, Aaron Davidson, Candace C. Edwards, Lucy Godinez, Michelle Lauto, Miciah Long, Andrew Lund, Mallory Maedke, Evan Tyrone Martin, Cherise Thomas, Leryn Turlington, Marco Tzunux and Craig Underwood.


Michelle Lauto

The beautifully renovated Mercury Theater Chicago is an intimate jewel box of a theater in the heart of the Southport Corridor, a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from Wrigley Field. A delightful theater destination, Mercury Theater Chicago takes care of its guests from the moment they arrive with valet service and dining at its adjoining restaurant, Grassroots. 

The performance schedule for HAIR is Wednesdays at 8pm, Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. 

HAIR runs approximately 2 hours, 10 minutes. We recommend this production for theatergoers over the age of 12. The production contains scenes that briefly depict profanity, nudity and simulated drug use. 

Individual tickets range from $30-$65, and are available online at www.MercuryTheaterChicago.com, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OPENING: The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater

Tonight ChiIL Mama and Sage will be reviewing at opening night of The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater. We like our holiday sugar and spice with a dash of the macabre, so we're very much looking forward to this tale of ship wrecks and evergreens. Check back for our full review shortly. The Christmas Schooner has been delighting audiences for hundreds of productions including a twelve year run at Chicago's Bailiwick Repertory Theatre but this will be our first time to see it!





LIVELY NEW CAST OF THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER sets sail at Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Avenue. 

A new cast of award-winning actors are set to bring new life to Chicago’s beloved holiday musical THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER, running November 26 through December 28, 2014. Jeff Award winner Stef Tovar takes the helm as the Schooner’s new captain, alongside Brianna Borger as the Captain’s wife Alma Stossel. 


The whole family will enjoy this heart-warming musical story of the first Christmas tree ship and the family who risked their lives to fill Chicago with the Christmas spirit. Hailed as "A sacred part of a Chicago Christmas!" by the Chicago Tribune, the production features a powerful, moving story, an exquisite score of original music and traditional holiday favorites, and a company of 25 actors and musicians. The production is helmed by the Jeff-award winning team of L. Walter Stearns (Director), Eugene
Dizon (Musical Director) and Brenda Didier (Choreographer).

The shipwreck of the Rouse Simmons, known as 'The Christmas Tree Ship,' served as inspiration for THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER. Her captain and crew risked the notoriously violent winter lake to bring Christmas trees from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chicago's German immigrants. Each year, Captain Herman Schuenemann would sell trees right off of the ship at the Clark Street Docks, and was known to give free trees to the needy. On November 23, 1912, the ship was swept up in a terrible storm. It was not until 59 years later that she was discovered, lying in 170 feet of water. Today the Rouse Simmons and her cargo of 5,500 well stacked trees remain preserved in the cold, fresh waters of Lake Michigan and her legend has grown to mythical proportions. The Blaine Nickelodeon - the silent film theater that now houses the Mercury - opened that very same year.


THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER has entertained audiences in hundreds of productions including a twelve year run at Chicago's Bailiwick Repertory Theatre. A timely and uplifting tale of love, THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is a poignant ode to the rich legacy of Chicago and a reminder of our responsibility to celebrate the living while honoring our heritage. In 2011, Mercury Theater Chicago revived THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER with a full orchestra and an all-star cast, garnering a "Best Production" nomination for the 2012 Jeff Awards. The production has been called "A grand family tradition!" by the Chicago Tribune and "An inheritance to be treasured...Highly recommended!" by the Chicago Sun-Times. Time Out Chicago Kids says that "A slice of Chicago history and an emotion-packed, Christmas-themed tale of redemption give the Mercury Theater Chicago's production of THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER all the trappings of a family holiday tradition in the making!"

THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is written by John Reeger (book) and Julie Shannon (music and lyrics) and will be brought new life by cast members Jeff Award winner Stef Tovar as Peter Stossel, Brianna Borger as Alma Stossel, and James Wilson Sherman as Gustav Stossel. Rounding out the crew on this year's schooner voyage are William Anderson, Brian Bohr, Kelly Anne Clark, Jaclyn Dougherty, Elizabeth Lanza, Leah Morrow, Michael Pacas, Eric Parker, Jim Rank and Daniel Smeriglio. The scenic design is by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod, with costume design by Carol J. Blanchard and lighting design by Jason Epperson.

The beautifully renovated Mercury Theater Chicago is an intimate jewel box of a theater in the heart of the Southport Corridor, a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from Wrigley Field. A delightful theater destination, Mercury Theater Chicago takes care of its guests from the moment they arrive with valet service, dining at its adjoining restaurant, Deleece, and post-show libations at Cullen’s Bar & Grill. Under the leadership of Executive Director L. Walter Stearns, Mercury Theater Chicago will follow THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER with the devilishly delightful THE ADDAMS FAMILY– THE MUSICAL (...which we also can NOT wait to see here at ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows!!).

The performance schedule for THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is Wednesdays at 7:30pm, Thursdays at 3:00pm and 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm and Sundays at 3:00pm and 7:30pm.

Individual tickets range from $25-$65, and are available online at www.MercuryTheaterChicago.com, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago.

Monday, October 20, 2014

ACT OUT CLOSING: Chi, IL Live Shows On Our Radar-- Fall Favorites Closing Soon #theatre #reviews

FALL 2014 THEATER HIGHLIGHTS
Via The League of Chicago Theatres

Fall 2014 will see Chicago continue to produce some of the most exciting theater in the country.  Offerings from the city’s more than 200 producing theaters includes a range of special fall programming, featuring everything from the latest musicals to highly anticipated world premieres.   



Be sure to check back with ChiIL Live Shows like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often. We're passionate about Chicago Theatre and we review everything from the big Broadway in Chicago touring extravaganzas to Chicago's vital and thriving storefront scene.

We've marked some of our fall top picks below in red. Catch them while you can. Many are closing soon. We're your source for fall closings, holiday openings, theatre reviews, news, video interviews, and ticket giveaways. Follow us on Facebook, like our Facebook Page, follow us on Twitter, and Google + so you don't miss out.

For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions including a Fall Theatre Guide, visit the League of Chicago website, www.chicagoplays.com.  Discounted tickets are available at www.hottix.org or at the three Hot Tix half-price ticket locations: across from the Chicago Cultural Center at Expo72 (72 E. Randolph); in the Water Works Visitor Information Center (163 E. Pearson); and the newest location at Block Thirty Seven, Shops at 108 N. State. Hot Tix offers half-price tickets to more than 200 Chicago area theatres, full price tickets to all Ticketmaster events including concerts and sports, and Play Money gift certificates.

“This fall will bring a brand new theater season to Chicago, and true to the reputation of Chicago theater, the season promises to be exciting, creative, and unique.  Theaters will present works ranging from family-friendly shows to hard-hitting dramas, and Chicago remains a leader in developing and producing new works,” says Deb Clapp, Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres. “We are anticipating a triumphant season filled with incomparable quality and variety.”

The following is a selection of notable work playing in Chicago throughout the fall:

New works and adaptations include:
*Goodman Theatre brings back Noah Haidle’s hit new work Smokefall, September 20 – October 26, 2014. 

ChiIL Live Shows caught opening night of Smokefall this season and last and we were blown away by this production. Smokefall is an absolute must see. I had the great pleasure of seeing it the first time around with my dad, who is a twin. It's a great production to see with relatives, as it added an extra layer to this complex and compelling family drama. Smokefall gives "Family Tree" and "baggage" a whole new twist! This production is spot on about the things that truly matter and so funny you'll hardly notice as characters'  wit and wisdom seep in and get under your skin. Highly recommended.
  
Isaac’s Eye, a new work by Lucas Hnath reimagines the world of a young Isaac Newton plays at Writers Theatre at Books on Vernon, September 2 – December 7, 2014.  

Musicals include:
The world premiere musical Amazing Grace, based on the awe-inspiring true story, plays at the Bank of America Theatre, October 9 – November 2, 2014.

Griffin Theatre Company presents Titanic, the Tony Award-winning musical re-imaged and re-written for the stage in its first major US Production, October 18 – December 7, 2014

*The hit modern musical Avenue Q continues at The Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave, through October 26, 2014.

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, Avenue Q is one of our all time favorite musicals, and The Mercury Theater production is every bit as wicked and witty as the Broadway version. If you still haven't seen it, what are you waiting for? Go already! This should be mandatory viewing for all older teens, recent high school and college graduates, and everyone who has ever struggled to make ends meet, had quirky neighbors, lived the urban dream, or loved muppets in childhood. Do note--these puppets are raunchy, irreverent, cynical and not particularly kid appropriate. That said, they'll crack you up and rock your reality. Highly recommended.

*Black Ensemble Theatre brings back At Last: A Tribute to Etta James, featuring 15 of Etta James’ biggest hits, October 24 – December 28, 2014.

BET's remount of At Last: A Tribute to Etta James, is a pure delight. They don't dilute the truth, and feature the tough times, addictions and attitude along with the award winning genius that is Etta James. Her multifaceted personality and life long career are creatively played by multiple Ettas of various ages. The vocal talent at Black Ensemble Theatre is stunning, and entirely impressive. Highly recommended.

Dramatic works include:
Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents a compelling new drama The Night Alive by Conor McPherson, directed by Henry Wishcamper, September 18 – November 16, 2014.

*Shakespeare’s King Lear, at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. Directed by Barbara Gaines and featuring Chicago favorite Larry Yando in the title role, September 9 – November 9, 2014.

Two words--Larry Yando! Don't let the King Lear title fool you, Yando is King Midas and his name is box office gold! This production is well worth seeing, as Yando embodies the complexities of Lear with panache. He's at once detestable yet charmingly pitiful. Chicago Shakespeare keeps the set minimalist and the costumes modern. The stage rain and thunderous clashes are particularly evocative and amazing. Recommended.

My Name is Asher Lev, adapted by Aaron Posner from the novel by Chaim Potok, premieres at TimeLine Theatre Company at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave, through October 18, 2014.

The classic Arthur Miller drama All My Sons performs at Raven Theatre in Edgewater. September 16 – November 15, 2014.


About Chicago theater
Chicago theater is the leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theaters throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theaters to the most renowned resident theaters in the country, including 5 which have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago’s theaters serve 5 million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. In 2009-10 alone Chicago theater companies produced more than 130 world premiere productions and adaptations. Each year Chicago theaters send new work to resident theaters across the country, to Broadway, and around the world. 

The League of Chicago Theatres’ Mission Statement
The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theaters which leverages its collective strength to promote, support and advocate for Chicago's theater industry locally, nationally and internationally. The League of Chicago Theatres Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the art of theater in the Chicago area through audience development and support services for theaters and theater professionals.

For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago website, www.chicagoplays.com.  Discounted tickets are available at www.hottix.org

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Shows On Our Radar: The Hypocrites Tennessee Williams Project Closing & Into The Woods Just Opened

One of our favorite troupes for consistently creative, fabulous fare is The Hypocrites.  They've currently got one show closing and one that just opened that are high on our must see list. Both are Jeff Recommended.





Two shows now playing from The Hypocrites
Tennessee Williams Project, now-March 2nd Chopin Theater

Into the Woods, now-March 30th Mercury Theater.

Tennessee Williams Project
Three One Acts Directed by Matt Hawkins
Only two weekends left--Must end March 2nd

"HIGHLY RECOMMENDED...Hypocrites' Tennessee Williams Project is ticket to trio of rare sidetrips" Chicago Sun-Times

"The terrific ensemble...morph into multiple roles for this Tennessee Williams' showcase...THE TENNESSEE WILLIAMS PROJECT is three plays for the price of one. It's a unique opportunity to experience TW from three rarely produced angles. Highly Recommended" Fourth Walsh

"Director Matt Hawkins provides a deft touch" NewCity

"Intoxicating journey through modern master's lesser-knowns" Chicago Theater Beat

"The Tennessee Williams Project will appeal to all types of theatergoers with its unique three-stage setup and certainly spur a number of conversations among Williams' fans both casual and well acquainted." Windy City-Times

Remaining 7 Performances at Chopin Theater:
Friday 2/21/2014 7:30 PM
Saturday 2/22/2014 7:30 PM
Sunday 2/23/2014 3:00 PM
Monday 2/24/2014 7:30 PM

Friday 2/28/2014 7:30 PM
Saturday 3/1/2014 7:30 PM
Sunday 3/2/2014 3:00 PM  


Book your Tennessee Williams Project tickets here    




Into the Woods
Mercury Theater now-March 30th




 "ambitious, inventive, remarkably 
fresh take on Sondheim..." 

"clever...delightful...high-pitched energy"
Chicago Sun-Times

"laudably ambitious, hugely enthusiastic and admirably sung...The commitment is full and the stakes high."
Chicago Tribune  

"ten talented, personable actors perform the hell out of a great work of theatrical art, supported by a sharp offstage band." Chicago Reader

"A revelatory 'Into the Woods'"  

"...sounds great, looks great, and is overflowing with imagination and resourcefulness. It's the kind of production that will make you want to listen to the soundtrack immediately so you can relive The Hypocrites' bold choices, because once upon a time isn't enough."

"...In the hands of a wonderfully talented cast and a whiz of a director - The Hypocrites theater company has cobbled together a magical production" On the Aisle  

"Anyone that questions the creative force of Chicago storefront theaters have to look no further than The Hypocrites ingenious re-imagining of Stephen Sondheim's 1986 musical Into The Woods...That incredible vision and talent is what makes The Hypocrites part of the fabric the makes Chicago theatre a beacon for others to follow." ShowBiz Chicago   

"The Hypocrites have found a way to change a story as we know it and turn it upside down on its head. They continue to be one of the most exciting companies in Chicago theatre. The show is inventive, wildly funny and unlike any other journey 'Into the Woods' you are likely to take."

"a joyous, splendid revival by the very talented folks of The Hypocrites." Chicago Theatre Review

"The Hypocrites' 'Into the Woods' is a wonder...with some terrific voices and a small but sturdy cohort of behind-the-scenes musicians-that never loses sight of the Hypocrites' signature sense of humor."  NewCity 

"People who would like this show are people who like catchy songs about Giants, feeling a lot of different feelings at the same time, and people disappearing behind balloons. People should go see the show because the acting is great and so is the set... It is funny and it makes you feel like you are part of a fairy tale that has gone wrong, but you know that you won't actually get hurt." Ada Grey, Age 9


Performance schedule now-March 30th:
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm
Sundays at 3pm



or call 773-325-1700 for tickets for

Into the Woods



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