Showing posts with label Shakespeare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shakespeare. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

William Shakespeare’s ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL at Chicago Shakespeare Theater April 22–May 29, 2022

 ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces cast and creative team

William Shakespeare’s


directed by Shana Cooper

in the Courtyard Theater, April 22–May 29, 2022

Featuring Alejandra Escalante, Dante Jemmott, Ora Jones, Francis Guinan, Emma Ladji, Mark Bedard, Elizabeth Ledo, William Dick, Patrick Agada, Casey Hoekstra, Joseph Aaron Johnson, Jeff Kurysz, Pablo David Laucerica, and Tanya Thai McBride

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces the cast and creative team for the upcoming production of William Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, staged by acclaimed director Shana Cooper. No challenge can match the power of a determined woman. In love with a young man who does not return her affection, the resourceful Helena will go to any length to turn her visions of romance into reality—only to discover that happy endings are never quite as simple as they seem in fairy tales. Shakespeare’s rarely seen dark comedy is brought to new life in the uniquely intimate setting of the Courtyard Theater, April 22–May 29, 2022.

"The beautiful thing about All’s Well That Ends Well is that it’s about these transitional moments in life—about growing up and growing older—in the midst of profound loss and major shifts in the world… and I think we’re all in that space," shared director Cooper. "It’s ultimately a joyful ride through the intricacies of self-exploration and self-discovery."

Director Shana Cooper is known for her visceral approach to both classical texts and new works, often infusing movement and music to complement the muscularity of language. A company member at the acclaimed Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Cooper has directed at leading companies, including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, and Yale Repertory Theatre. She notably staged the world premiere of Terra Firma off-Broadway in 2019. Her work has most recently been seen in Court Theatre’s The Lady from the Sea.

Appearing as Helena is Alejandra Escalante, a veteran of seven seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In addition to credits at American Players Theatre and Guthrie Theater, Escalante has also notably appeared at Goodman Theatre as Isabella in Measure for Measure and in featured roles in 2666, The Upstairs Concierge, and Song for the Disappeared. Portraying Bertram, the young nobleman at the center of Helena’s affection, is Dante Jemmott—who recently made an acclaimed debut as Romeo in R+J at the Stratford Festival in 2021. 

Esteemed performer Ora Jones is Bertram’s mother, the Countess of Roussillon. Jones has appeared on Broadway as Madame de Volanges in Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Mrs. Phelps in Matilda the Musical, both on Broadway and in the first national tour. Her notable Chicago Shakespeare roles include Katherine of Aragon in Henry VIII, Queen Charlotte in The Madness of George III, and Maria in Twelfth Night. Francis Guinan portrays the ailing King of France. An ensemble member since 1979, Guinan has appeared in more than 40 productions at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. He made his Chicago Shakespeare debut in the world premiere of The Book of Joseph.

Emma Ladji is Helena’s accomplice, Diana. With multiple credits at Chicago Shakespeare, Writers Theatre, and Goodman Theatre, Ladji has also been an artist-in-residence at Links Hall and presented work at the New Now Festival in Amsterdam. Appearing as Parolles is Mark Bedard, who has performed off Broadway in Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in addition to seven seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Jeff Award-winner Elizabeth Ledo plays Lavache, the clown of the Countess’s court. An artistic associate of About Face Theatre and recipient of the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship, Ledo has memorably appeared at Chicago Shakespeare as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Phoebe in As You Like It, and Myrtle in The King’s Speech. William Dick is Lafew. Highlights of Dick’s long theatrical career include Blind Date and Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, and 3) at the Goodman Theatre; We All Went Down to Amsterdam at Steppenwolf; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Henry VIII at Chicago Shakespeare. 

The company also includes Patrick Agada (Second Lord Dumaine), Casey Hoekstra (First Lord Dumaine), Joseph Aaron Johnson (Rinaldo), Jeff Kurysz (First Soldier), Pablo David Laucerica (Ensemble), and Tanya Thai McBride (Mariana).

Award-winning choreographer Stephanie Martinez is the production’s Movement Designer. In addition to being the founder and artistic director of contemporary dance company PARA.MAR, Martinez has devised original creations for Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Hispánico, and Luna Negra Dance Theater, among others. Joining Cooper and Martinez on the creative team are Scenic Designer Andrew Boyce, Costume Designer Raquel Barreto, Lighting Designer Adam Honoré, Sound/Composition by Paul James Prendergast, and Hair & Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie. The team also includes Magic Consultant Nate Dendy (who memorably appeared as Ariel in Aaron Posner and Teller’s production of The Tempest at Chicago Shakespeare in 2015), Verse Coach Gregory Linington, Assistant Director Mallory Metoxen, Assistant to the Movement Designer Noelle Kayser, Intimacy Director Sarah Scanlon, and Casting by Bob Mason. The stage management team features Katrina Herrmann as Stage Manager and Kate Ocker as Assistant Stage Manager. Katie Lupica and Manna-Symone Middlebrooks are Assistants to the Director.

Chicago Shakespeare strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Accessible performances for All’s Well That Ends Well include:

Open-captioned Performances – Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

A text display of the words and sounds heard during a play, synced live with the action onstage.

ASL Duo-interpreted Performance – Friday, May 20, 2022, at 7:30 p.m.

All dialogue and lyrics are translated into American Sign Language by two certified interpreters.

Audio-described Performance – Sunday, May 22, 2022, at 2:00 p.m

A program that provides spoken narration of a play’s key visual elements for patrons who are blind or have low vision.

More information on the production at or on social media at #cstAllsWell.

All’s Well That End’s Well is presented April 22–May 29, 2022, in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater. Single tickets ($49–$90) are on sale now. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

Chicago Shakespeare’s most up-to-date health protocols can be found at


A Regional Tony Award recipient, Chicago Shakespeare Theater produces a year-round season—featuring plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside nationally recognized education programming, each year serving tens of thousands of students, teachers, and lifelong learners. Founded in 1986, the Theater’s onstage work has expanded to as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually. Dedicated to welcoming the next generation of theatergoers, one in four audience members is under the age of eighteen. As a nonprofit organization, Chicago Shakespeare works to embrace diversity, prioritize inclusion, provide equitable opportunities, and offer an accessible experience for all. On the Theater’s three stages at its home on Navy Pier, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar:
Oak Brook Theater Celebrates 23 Years of Shakespeare-under-the-Stars

 JULY 10 - AUGUST 18

Ending its 23rd season outdoors, First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) presents HENRY V for its classic Shakespeare-under-the-Stars series. Directed by Artistic Associate Hayley Rice, HENRY V focuses on one of England’s most beloved rulers as he fights to save England and prove himself the rightful heir to the French throne. Audiences will thrill to the battle scenes as they experience the play the way it was intended to be performed – outside.  Nothing beats being part of the action with the great Band of Brothers as Henry V leads them against an army ten times their own size at the Battle of Agincourt. One of Shakespeare’s most popular rousing adventures, HENRY V previews July 10 – 12, opens July 13 and will run through August 18, 2019.

“We are excited to be exploring new angles of Shakespeare’s Henry V for our 28th production on our outdoor stage,” said director Hayley Rice. “With non-traditional casting and an emphasis on the intersection of antiquity and modernity, we at First Folio Theatre are proud to be sharing this with our audiences. As this will be the final production performed on the original stage my parents built, there is an extra opportunity to play with the set and stage in a way that has never previously been possible. It is very bittersweet for all of us, but we invite audiences to leave their preconceived notions of Shakespeare and Henry V and see the story in a brand new way this summer.”

First Folio has announced that this will be the final production on its current outdoor stage, which has served First Folio since 1997. In order to properly address the needs of its aging stage structure, First Folio will be taking a hiatus from producing a summer show in 2020. After 23 seasons, the current structure is coming to the end of its usefulness and the theater needs to ensure that they have the time and funds to replace it properly. First Folio’s summer shows will return in 2021 with a new stage and they will continue on with the same quality Shakespeare-under-the-Stars, which launched First Folio back in 1997.

Starring in HENRY V are First Folio Artistic Associates Diana Coates as King Henry V and Lydia Berger Gray in the dual role of Chorus and Alice. The cast also features Robert McLean (Duke of Exeter and Mistress Quickly), Arielle Leverett (Mountjoy), Derek Jeck (Bardolph), Morgan Manasa (Fluellen), Mark Lancaster (Bishop of Canterbury and Gower) and Sean Sinitski (Pistol and the King of France). The ensemble includes Todd Douglas, Esther Fishbein, Madison Merkel, Shane Richlen, and Austyn Williamson. The production and design staff includes Angela Weber Miller (Scenic Design), Christopher Kriz (Original Music and Sound Design), Rachel Flesher (Stage Combat and Intimacy Design), Julie Ballard (Lighting Design), Stefanie Johnsen (Costume Design), Vivian Knouse (Properties Design) and Carrie Hardin (Vocal Design). The stage management team is led by Miranda Anderson (Stage Manager), with Sophie Goddard and Nikki Konomos as assistant stage managers.

Performances take place at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, located at 1717 31st St., off Rt. 83, in Oak Brook. First Folio is easy to get to via the East-West Tollway (I-88) or the Stevenson Expressway (I-55). Free parking is available on the grounds. Preview tickets are $25. Regular priced tickets are $34 Wednesdays and Thursdays (seniors and students are $29), and $44 on Fridays through Sundays (seniors and students are $39). Special $10 tickets are available for children 14 and under for all summer shows. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by calling the box office at 630.986.8067 or online at

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

OPENING: Macbeth Via Saltbox Theatre Collective at The Edge Off-Broadway

Saltbox Macbeth Shakes Up Your Summer
at The Edge Off-Broadway
July 12- August 4, 2019

The shortest of William Shakespeare’s tragedies, Macbeth has cemented itself as a tale that delves into the unhinged sanity of the title’s main character. With a focus on the dark side of humanity, Macbeth (played by Mighty Morphin Power Ranger’s Jason Narvy) and his lady (Stephanie Stroud) are overtaken by the supernatural as they continually give into their own greedy, lustful desires. Haunted by their own dastardly decisions, the pair fight to hold on to all their ill-gotten gains—by any means necessary.

The show runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30pm, as well as 2:00pm on Saturdays and Sunday.

Duncan - Josh Bomba
Porter - Mark Bernstein
Macduff Family - Ella Bernstein Molly Gustafson
Macduff’s Son - Jack Narvy
Fleance - Rene Krall-Lanoue
Macbeth - Jason Narvy
Lady Macbeth - Stephanie Stroud
Weird Sisters - Catherine Bustos, Wendy
Venlos-Becker, Anne Ogden
Murderers - Brandon Nelson, Chas Howard
Seyton - Josh Marshall
Banquo - Brian Bengtson
Macduff - Ryan Smetana
Angus - Corwyn Cullum
Lennox - Dane Van Brocklin
Ross - Nate Perez
Lady Macduff - Amanda Hayes
Malcolm - Warren Duncan
General Siward - Michael Sullivan
Young Siward - Nick Russell
Sergeant - Eamon Gonzales
Attendant - Brandon Ellis
Serving Woman - Angela Matera
Stage Manager - Robert Pacheco
Asst. Director - Angela Matera
Lighting Design - Kara Grimm-Denholm
Electrician - Garet Paholkotter
Technical Advisor - Justin Glombicki
Director - Brian Fruits
Costumes/Make-Up - Alison Call, April Fruits
House Manager - Corwyn Cullum
Photos - Rachael Nuckles
Graphic Design - Amy Moore
Sound Design - Jonathan Hadley

Saltbox is a Jeff Award Winning not-for-profit theatre company that opened 4 years ago producing shows in Oak Park and, most recently, graduating to Chicago in Season 3. 

Saltbox Theatre Collective - 

Friday, March 1, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

MARCH 21 – APRIL 20, 

 William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is Adapted and Directed by Evan Jackson in this Tale of Laughter, Survival, Transformation and What it Means to be Alive Right Now

Idle Muse Theatre Company proudly announces its first play of 2019, Best for Winter, being a short Shakespeare adapted from The Winter’s Tale and other works, adapted and directed by Evan Jackson, March 21 – April 20, at The Edge Theater Off-Broadway, a new space at 1133 W. Catalpa Ave. Previews are Thursday, March 21 and Friday, March 22 at 8 p.m. Opening night is Saturday, March 23 at 8 p.m. The performance schedule is Thursdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. with an added performance Wednesday, March 27 at 8 p.m. Industry nights are every Thursday performance with tickets for industry professionals at $10. 

Tickets are $10 for previews and $20 for regular performances and are on sale now at or by calling 773.340.9438.

The ensemble of Idle Muse Theatre Company explores this classical fantasy with an impossible ending. Shakespeare’s story of human beings living in a world broken by the unforgivable acts of a man in power is the basis for this new adaptation focused on feelings and actions and as recognizable in 2019 as they were in the Bard’s time. 

“The Idle Muse Ensemble felt it was deeply necessary that we tell a story about being alive right now, both for our audiences and for ourselves,” said Artistic Director Evan Jackson.  “By definition, a play is a set of circumstances and story that have no choice but to find an ending – and you could say this is a play with no roadmap to get there.  At the same time, Idle Muse was formed in the belief that we can uncover truths about the human experience through the work of theatre.  That if we do everything we can to approach the work in good faith and live truthfully under those imaginary circumstances, then we can use the vehicle of a play to approach impossible questions.  So, we’re not looking to find forgiveness at the end of this story.  Maybe forgiveness isn’t possible for some things.  But maybe the act of finding the human part of what it is to be alive right now can be something like forgiveness.  Maybe something more important – something like hope,” continued Jackson.

The cast of Best for Winter, being a short Shakespeare adapted from The Winter’s Tale and other works features: Brian Bengtson*, “Leontes;” Mara Kovacevic*, “Hermione;” Erik Schnitger, “Polixenes;” Laura Jones Macknin*, “Camilla;” Elizabeth MacDougald*, “Paulina;” Brian Healy, “Florizel;” Kristen Alesia, “Perdita;” Michael Dalberg*, “Autolycus;” Sara Robinson*, “Antigonis;” Paula Hlava, “Mamillias;” Eric Duhon, “Shepherd;” Joel Thompson*, “Clown;” Watson Swift, “Cleomenes;” Morgan Manasa, “Time;” and Lauren Grace Thompson, “U/S Perdita/Cleomenes.”

The production team for Best for Winter, being a short Shakespeare adapted from The Winter’s Tale and other works features: Evan Jackson*, director; Heather Zink, calling stage manager; Shellie DiSalvo*, production manager and rehearsal stage manager; Laura Wiley*, echnical director, lighting design and projection design; Milo Bue, scenic design; Joshua Allard, costume design; Tristan Brandon*, dramaturgy and prop design; L. J. Luthringer, sound and music design; William Sidney Parker*, consultant; Kati Lechner, vocal coach and Sarah Scanlon, intimacy design.  

*connotes an Idle Muse Theatre Company Ensemble Member

ABOUT EVAN JACKSON, adapter and director

Evan Jackson is the artistic director and co-founder of Idle Muse Theatre Company.  He is an 18-year veteran of Chicago Storefront theatre as an actor, director, playwright and producer.  Jackson is a graduate of The Theatre School, DePaul University in Chicago, where he received his MFA in Directing Theatre.  At Idle Muse, he has directed 11 productions, including the company’s Jeff-recommended productions of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure and The Lion in Winter.


Idle Muse Theatre Company is proud to be part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. Home to a community of creators, risk-takers and big hearts, Chicago theatre is a hotbed for exciting new work and hundreds of world premieres every year. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s always a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres.


Idle Muse Theatre Company is a 501 (c3) non-profit charity organization that produces theatre that transports. Established in 2006 by theatre artists who were interested in exploring the relationship between individuals and worlds they inhabit and seeking to create production opportunities for themselves and other artists. In order to do this, Idle Muse created a “modern guild” of players, an environment where theatre artists of different experience levels and backgrounds could develop their craft and learn from each other. Visit Idle Muse virtually at and on Twitter (@IdleMuseTheatre), Facebook (/IdleMuseTheatre) and Instagram (@IdleMuseTheatre).

Idle Muse Theatre Company proudly announces its first play of 2019, Best for Winter, being a short Shakespeare adapted from The Winter’s Tale and other works, adapted and directed by Evan Jackson, March 21 – April 20, at The Edge Theater Off-Broadway, a new space at 1133 W. Catalpa Ave. Previews are Thursday, March 21 and Friday, March 22 at 8 p.m. Opening night is Saturday, March 23 at 8 p.m. The performance schedule is Thursdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. with an added performance Wednesday, March 27 at 8 p.m. Industry nights are every Thursday performance with tickets for industry professionals at $10. Tickets are $10 for previews and $20 for regular performances and are on sale now at or by calling 773.340.9438.

Idle Muse Theatre Company is partially supported and funded by generous grants from The MacArthur Funds for the Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.  

The Edge Theater Off-Broadway has paid street parking and is wheelchair accessible with complimentary assisted listening devices available. It is located near both the Red Line Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stops and is on the 36 Broadway bus route.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar: Shakespeare's Cymbeline at Strawdog Theatre Company


Director Robert Kauzlaric Makes his Strawdog Directorial Debut with Shakespeare’s Dark Fairy Tale Filled with Hidden Identities, Extraordinary Schemes and Violent Acts 

Strawdog Theatre Company's second production in its 2016 - 2017 season, William Shakespeare’s CymbelIne, running now through February 25, 
directed by Robert Kauzlaric 
and performed at The Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St. 

It's been a whirlwind year so far for Chicago's theatre scene and sometimes there's just too much of a good thing and multiple press nights happen simultaneously. Since I haven't mastered the art of cloning quite yet, we're finally getting out to see Shakespeare's Cymbeline at Strawdog Theatre Company tonight. It's been near the top of our must see list since it opened the final week of January. 

The performance schedule is Thursdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. All performances have ground level access and are wheelchair accessible.

An industry performance is Monday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. for $18. Regular run tickets $30, they may be ordered online or by calling OvationTix toll-free: 866-811-4111. Subscriptions, group, rush, senior and student discounts are also available. 

Shakespeare’s Cymbeline has all the vicious insults, bloody blades, cross-dressed ladies and compromised bedchambers that has made the Bard famous. It is also a no-holds-barred epic, a dark fairy tale set off by a king's rash verdict and a princess who won't stand for her man's wrongful banishment. The acclaimed director of Lifeline Theatre's Hunger and Irish Theatre of Chicago's The White Road, recently seen onstage in Strawdog’s production of The Arsonists, makes his directing debut with the company.

Cast includes ensemble members Dan Cobbler, Scott Danielson, Andres Enriquez, Sarah Goeden, Sam Hubbard, Jose Nateras, Daniella Pereira, Michaela Petro, Shane Rhoades, Brandon Saunders, Dwight Sora, Gage Wallace.

The Cymbeline production team also includes Strawdog Company Ensemble Members Jordan Kardasz, lighting designer; Brittany Dee Bodley in addition to Robert Kauzlaric, director; Spencer Ryan Diedrick, assistant director; Alan Donahue, set designer and props designer; Andrew Hansen, sound designer; Matt Hawkins, fight choreographer; Emily Loppolo, assistant stage manager and Becca Levy, stage manager.

Robert Kauzlaric is a Chicago based director and actor who appeared in Strawdog’s Season 27 production of The Arsonists. Recent directing credits include As You Like It, The Rivals (Wilde nomination: Best Play), Cymbeline (Wilde Award: Best of the Bard), She Stoops to Conquer, Love’s Labour’s Lost (Wilde Award: Best of the Bard), and Tartuffe for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival; the world premiere of Karen Tarjan’s The White Road for Irish Theatre of Chicago (nominated for seven Jeff Awards, including Best Production-Play, Midsize) and the world premieres of Chris Hainsworth’s adaptation of Hunger and John Hildreth’s adaptation of Treasure Island, both at Lifeline Theatre. 

Since its founding in 1988, Strawdog Theatre Company has offered Chicagoland the premiere storefront theatre experience and garnered numerous Non-Equity Jeff Awards with its commitment to ensemble acting and an immersive design approach. The celebrated Company develops new work, re-imagines the classics, melds music with theatre, asks provocative questions and delivers their audience the unexpected.
*Strawdog Theatre Company’s 2016 - 2017 season will be produced in its itinerant home at the new Factory Theatre in Rogers Park, 1621 W. Howard St. on the Chicago-Evanston border in the historic Howard Theatre building. The theatre space is a newly created 70 seat three-quarters thrust just two blocks from CTA’s Howard Red Line terminal. Strawdog’s 29th Season may be viewed online at 

Strawdog Theatre Company offers six tickets at a 50% discount one hour before every production. The rush ticket must be purchased in person, exclusively at the Strawdog Box Office. Limit of two tickets per person, not applicable with other discounts, offers or on previously purchased tickets, first come, first served.

Strawdog Theatre Company is proud to announce the second production in its 2016 - 2017 season, William Shakespeare’s CymbelIne, January 13 – February 25, directed by Robert Kauzlaric and performed at The Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St. The performance schedule is Thursdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Opening Night is Monday, January 23 at 8 p.m. All performances have ground level access and are wheelchair accessible, with an Access Project performance Sunday, Feb. 5 at 4 p.m. with a touch tour at 2:45 p.m.* An industry performance is Monday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. for $18. Preview tickets are $15 with regular run tickets $30, they may be ordered online at or by calling OvationTix toll-free: 866-811-4111. Subscriptions, group, rush, senior and student discounts are also available.

Strawdog Theatre Company is supported in part by The Alphawood Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and through the generous contributions of businesses and individuals.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Polarity Ensemble's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM Through 5/22 at Greenhouse Theater Center

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar

Polarity Ensemble Theatre Presents Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
April 20 - May 22, 2016

Director Ann Keen's Production Brings Magic, Transformation and Music of the 60's 

Chicago's abiding bard love continues with one of his most popular and accessible shows, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Here at ChiIL Mama/ChiIL Live Shows it's one of our Shakes favs. Check out this groovy 1960's style version of the classic.

Polarity Ensemble Theatre presents an innovative interpretation of Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, the bard's most popular comedy. Director Ann Keen sets the production in an America of the early 1960's, a time of distinctive transition in our culture, as music, morality, and racial relations began a revolution. Like Ann's HAMLET (which won Polarity the honor of Best Emerging Theatre Company from the Chicago Reader) and her A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, this production will be infused with music. 

The production is running now through May 22, 2015 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, where the eleven year old Polarity is a resident company. Tickets are available at or by calling the box office at 773-404-7336

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM features: Charles Askenaizer SnoutJos N Banks LysanderJoey Banks OberonBryan Breau DemetriusKeith Cavanaugh BottomMadisen Dempsey MustardseedJames Dolbeare Snug,Kevin M. Grubb QuinceHilary Holbrook HermiaCharley Jordan Egeus,McKenna Kirchner PeasblossomJen Mathews HippolytaJessica McCartneyStarvlingJennifer Nickell MothHallie Peterson CobwebMiriam Reuter Puck,Nicola Rinow HelenaRoy Samra PhilostrateAnastasia Spalding First Fairy,Laura Sturm TitaniaJeremy Thompson TheseusAaron Wertheim Flute

About the play: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM was written around 1594 or 95. It portrays the adventures of four young lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with woodland fairies and a duke and duchess. This production takes place in a mythical 1960's America and an enchanted forest with a crafty fairy king, an outraged parent, an interracial love story, a bumbling weaver transformed into a half-donkey, and fairies who sing in 1960's harmony. It's a magical, music-filled celebration of love. But as Puck knows, falling in love can make fools of us all. 

The production team for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM includes Ann Keen (director), Nicole Lewter (production manager), Buck Blue (set design), Alaina Moore (costume design), Claire Chrzan (light design), Bob Kretz (sound design), Charley Jordan (props design), Dave Gonzalez, (fight director), Ali Helland (text/vocal coach), Hazel Marie (stage manager), Aaron Pepple (Assistant Stage Manager), Abigail Epperson (casting director), and Richard Engling (artistic director). 


Written by: William Shakespeare
Director: Ann Keen
Location: The Greenhouse Theater Center 2257 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Regular Run: Sunday, April 24 through Sunday, May 22, 2016
Curtain Times: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 PM, Sunday at 3:00 PM
Tickets: Regular Run: $25. Students: $10, Seniors: $20. Tickets are available at and 773-404-7336 

About the Director
Polarity Ensemble Theatre co-founder Ann Keen received her B.A. from Saint Mary's University and her M.F.A. in acting from Arizona State University. She has done a lot of acting and voice over work in the Chicagoland Area. Her favorite roles include Clytemnestra in The Oresteia, Emilia in Othello, Lucetta in Two Gentleman of Verona and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. Most recently, Ann was in the play Unnecessary Farce at Fox Valley Repertory. She directed Polarity's productions of Antigone, Hamlet and A Streetcar Named Desire and most recently, Crimes of the Heart at Steel Beam Theatre. She is especially brilliant at working with playwrights on developing new scripts. Ann and her husband John are the proprietors of The Spice House in Geneva. 

About Polarity Ensemble Theatre

Founded in 2004, Polarity Ensemble Theatre is a professionally diverse group of artists who strive to advance the state of Chicago theater for both local and international audiences by developing new works and bringing new life to the classics through live performance, workshops, and publishing. For more information, visit

Sunday, August 16, 2015

OPENING: The Tempest at Chicago Shakespeare

Chi, IL Live Shows On Our Radar

Magic by Teller, the soulful music of Tom Waits

and the incomprarable Larry Yando as Prospero!

 The Tempest
by William Shakespeare

directed by Aaron Posner and Teller

songs by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan
choreography by Matt Kent, Pilobolus

in CST's Courtyard Theater
800 E. Grand Avenue on Navy Pier 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we love it when our friends play well together and when our favs collaborate! So we're particularly jazzed for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's next main stage production. Larry Yando is an incredible actor and we catch him every chance we get and have never been disappointed. He's box office gold! We've also enjoyed Tom Waits' ballads and the magic illusions of Penn & Teller for decades. 

ChiIL Live Shows will be there on opening night, so check back like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often. Our full review will be up shortly. In the meantime, here are the basics below. We highly recommend getting your tickets locked in early for the best choice of dates.

Shakespeare’s enchanted island is transformed in this inventive production from Aaron Posner and Teller (of the legendary duo Penn & Teller), who also contributes astonishing feats of magic. Larry Yando returns to Chicago Shakespeare, following his iconic performance in last season’s King Lear, to take on the role of the vengeful and mysterious Prospero who conjures a storm shipwrecking his old enemies on the island. This classic tale of revenge is reimagined as a traveling tent show of trickery and amazement—underscored by haunting ballads from the inimitable Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, and featuring choreography by the pioneering dance collective Pilobolus. In a production full of “such stuff as dreams are made on,” sorcery gives way to the inclinations of the heart.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announces the full casting and creative team for Shakespeare’s spectacular tale of revenge and romance—The Tempest, staged by award-winning directors Aaron Posner and Teller, of the magic duo Penn & Teller. This inventive reimagining features the music of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, as well as choreography from the pioneering dance troupe Pilobolus led by Associate Artistic Director Matt Kent. One of the final works in Shakespeare’s canon, the play transports audiences to an enchanted island where nothing is quite as it seems. Heralding the celebration of Shakespeare’s four-hundred-year legacy in 2016, The Tempest inaugurates Chicago Shakespeare’s 2015/16 season in the Courtyard Theater, September 8–November 8, 2015.

The mysterious sorcerer Prospero seeks revenge upon his enemies, conjuring a storm to shipwreck them on his magical island. There, he tricks and teases the ship’s unwitting passengers while his daughter Miranda falls in love with the marooned Prince Ferdinand. The lyricism of Shakespeare’s poetry comes to life in this fantastical story of vengeance, love and forgiveness, where sorcery gives way to the inclinations of the heart.

In their Chicago Shakespeare debuts, directors Aaron Posner and Teller come together to create this wholly original staging of The Tempest. Posner, an accomplished playwright and director, has written and adapted nearly 20 plays and directed productions at theaters across the United States, including the Folger Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville and The Alliance. Famed magician Teller is best known as one half of the renowned Penn & Teller, who for nearly 40 years have entertained and amazed audiences with their unique brand of magic and comedy—redefining magic’s place in popular culture. Penn & Teller have one of the most successful and long-running shows in Las Vegas; they have been featured in Emmy-winning television specials and world tours; and they are currently appearing in a highly successful limited run on Broadway.

The ever-versatile Larry Yando tackles the role of the mysterious and vengeful sorcerer Prospero, one of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic characters. He returns to Chicago Shakespeare after his critically acclaimed performance as the title character in King Lear directed by CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, a role for which he was recognized as 2014’s “Performer of the Year” by the Wall Street Journal. The Tempest marks Yando’s 24th CST production—a body of work that includes such diverse roles as Malvolio in Twelfth Night, the title role Cymbeline and Casca in Julius Caesar.

Inspired by the early-twentieth-century magician Willard the Wizard, this imaginative staging of Shakespeare’s classic takes place in a traveling tent show of trickery and amazement set in the world of the Dust Bowl. The production is underscored by the soulful songs of Tom Waits who, along with long-time collaborator Kathleen Brennan, provides his signature blues-inspired sounds to the project—performed by a live four-piece band onstage. The Tempest is not Waits’ first time providing the soundscape behind a story; his work in One from the Heart earned him an Academy Award® nomination in 1983. Also featured in the production is choreography by the modern dance collective Pilobolus under the direction of Associate Artistic Director Matt Kent. Featured at the 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) and in eye-catching performances around the world and on Oprah, 60 Minutes and Sesame Street, Pilobolus is acclaimed for its innovative and collaborative dance vocabulary, which combines athleticism, invention and humor. Pilobolus and Kent have created mesmerizing movements for the two performers who together portray the character of Caliban, bringing new meaning to Shakespeare’s description of Prospero’s strange captive not "honored with human shape."

Click HERE for a complete performance listing and more information about the production.

The Tempest will be performed in CST’s Courtyard Theater September 8–November 8, 2015. Tickets are on sale now for $48-$88 (subject to change), or as part of a subscription beginning at $135. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets available for patrons under 35. All patrons receive a 40% discount on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website.

Scenic Designer Daniel Conway and Lighting Designer Thom Weaver will construct the mysterious, charmed world of Prospero’s island. Magic Designer Johnny Thompson, an illusionist and comedian in his own right, collaborates with Teller to bring Prospero’s enchantments to life. Paloma Young, who won a Tony Award® for her work in Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway, serves as Costume Designer for the production with additional costumes by Rachel Laritz. Jeff Award-winner Ray Nardelli returns to Chicago Shakespeare as Sound Designer (Sense and Sensibility, Road Show, Gypsy) and Chicago Shakespeare’s resident Jeff Award-winning Wig and Make-up Designer Melissa Veal completes the creative team.

The role of Prospero’s spirited daughter Miranda is performed by Eva Louise Balistrieri in her Chicago Shakespeare debut. Ferdinand, Prince of Naples, is played by Luigi Sottile. Nate Dendy appears as Ariel, the ethereal sprite bound in servitude to Prospero, while a duo of actors, Manelich Minniefee and Zach Eisenstat partner up to play a twisted and tumbling Caliban. Worldly wisdom is brought to the otherwise madcap world of the play by multiple Jeff Award-Winner Barbara Robertson as Gonzala. Adam Wesley Brown (Trinculo),Lawrence Grimm (Antonio), Michael Aaron Lindner (Sebastian), John Lister (Alonso) and Ron E. Rains (Stephano) return to the Theater after successful runs in numerous productions, ranging from new musicals to Shakespearean classics. Christopher Rose (Minion) makes his CST debut and serves as the production’s Assistant Magic Designer.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company and the recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award®. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary production of classics, new works and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. Through a year-round season encompassing more than 650 performances, CST attracts 225,000 audience members annually. One in four of its audience members is under eighteen years old, and today its education programs have impacted the learning of over one million students. CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds.

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