Showing posts with label The Den Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Den Theatre. Show all posts

Friday, December 6, 2019

REVIEW: Firebrand Theatre’s Always... Patsy Cline Now Extended Through January 4, 2020

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Three Added Weeks of Performances!
Firebrand Theatre’s
Extends Through January 4, 2020 at The Den Theatre

Christina Hall in Firebrand Theatre’s production of ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE. 
All Photos by Michael Brosilow.

Featuring Harmony France and Christina Hall 
in Alternating Roles

Due to popular demand, Firebrand Theatre’s hit revival of ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE will add three additional weeks of performances, extending through Saturday, January 4, 2020 at The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago.

(left to right) Christina Hall and Harmony France

Trading Off In The Lead Roles: 
Harmony France as Patsy Cline & Christina Hall as Louise Seger

by bonnie kenaz-mara

Firebrand Theatre’s Always Patsy Cline is so enjoyable, I just bought 3 tickets as birthday gifts and I'm sending my in laws and husband to catch it this weekend. For the press opening, I caught Christina Hall as iconic country crossover star, Patsy Cline. Her impressive vocals and embodiment of Cline were spot on. 

(pictured) Christina Hall 

I also adored Firebrand's Artistic Director, Harmony France as feisty, fangirl Louise. She's a hoot! Both powerhouse vocalists have played Patsy Cline in past productions, so either cast configuration is a win/win and I love that Firebrand has cast the show this way. It's a rare treat to see a production where the leads trade off in a 50/50 split, and it's exciting to see how it changes up the show having different actors in each role. I'm seriously considering coming back again to see the roles swapped. 

(left to right) Harmony France and Christina Hall 

Always Patsy Cline is a delightful time capsule of true friendship, the travails of touring as a young mother, southern hospitality, old school correspondence and the power of music to draw people together and get them through tough times. Don't miss this celebration of simpler times and a talent taken too soon.

(pictured) Christina Hall 

From blackbox to barn, The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre has been transformed into a homey little venue, complete with cabaret tables and southern charm. The band is dressed for line dancing and prominently featured on stage, where they are fun to watch as they play and interact with Patsy and Louise. 

(left to right) Harmony France and Christina Hall 

(left to right) Harmony France and Christina Hall 

Whether these two are breaking out a flask or spilling the tea about exes, kids and life, Firebrand's rendition of this true life friendship is heartfelt, funny and sustaining. Expect to enjoy many of Patsy's unforgettable hits such as “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Walking After Midnight”… 27 songs in all!  The show’s title was inspired by Patsy’s letters to Louise, which were consistently signed “Love ALWAYS… Patsy Cline.”

Harmony France and Christina Hall

Firebrand Theatre’s Always... Patsy Cline is a fabulous find for holiday gifting or entertaining visiting friends and family. Experiential gifts are the ultimate clutter busting choice and great for someone who has everything. So make some memories. Always... Patsy Cline is highly recommended. 

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: (adult) & (family friendly).

Firebrand Theatre’s
Extends Through January 4, 2020 at The Den Theatre

Harmony France as Patsy Cline

Harmony France as Patsy Cline & Christina Hall as Louise Seger

Written by Ted Swindley, with direction by Brigitte Ditmars and music direction by Andra Velis Simon, ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE, features Artistic Director Harmony France and Christina Hall, who have both previously played the titular music legend. France and Hall alternate in the roles of Patsy Cline and Louise Seger – so if you love the show, come see it again with the cast flipped! For tickets and a schedule of roles, visit

Patsy Cline was an American country music singer and part of the Nashville sound during the late 1950s and early 1960s. She successfully "crossed over" to pop music and was one of the most influential, successful, and acclaimed vocalists of the 20th century.

ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE is based on the true story of Patsy's friendship with Houstonite Louise Seger. Having first heard Patsy on the Arthur Godfrey Show in 1957, Louise became an immediate and avid fan of Patsy's and she constantly hounded the local disc jockey to play Patsy's records on the radio. In 1961 when Patsy went to Houston for a show, Louise and her buddies arrived about an hour-and-a-half early and, by coincidence, met Patsy who was traveling alone. The two women struck up a friendship – a friendship that lasted the rest of Patsy Cline's life.

Harmony France as Patsy Cline & Christina Hall as Louise Seger

The production team includes Lauren Nichols (scenic design), Steph Taylor (costume design), Cat Wilson (lighting design), Giselle Castro (sound design, sound engineer), Rachelle “Rocky” Kolecke (props design, scenic decoration), Keith Ryan (wig design), Lauren Griffith (assistant director), Richie Vavrina (master electrician), Jessica Baldinger (assistant scenic designer), Adrienne Miikelle Johnson (assistant lighting designer), Jon Martinez (producer), Lucy Walker (associate producer), Rose Hamill (production manager), Anika Jones (assistant production manager), Jacqueline Widman (stage manager) and Claire Haussner (assistant stage manager).

Firebrand is the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering womxn* by expanding opportunities on and off the stage. *womxn is used to include trans and non-binary folx.

Music Director: Andra Velis Simon
Cast: Harmony France and Christina Hall (Patsy Cline and Louise Seger).

Band: Andra Velis Simon (conductor/keyboard), Steven Romero Schaeffer (guitars), Emma Sheikh (fiddle) and Tina Muñoz Pandya (drums).

Understudies: Gabby Diaz (Louise) and Liz Chidester (Patsy).

Location: The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Regular run: Thursday, November 21 – Saturday, January 4, 2020
Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, December 26.

Tickets: $40 general admission, $50 VIP cabaret table. $30 Firebrand members. $20 students/industry rush tickets available at the box office. Tickets are currently available at

About The Artists
Christina Hall's (Patsy Cline/Louise Seger) recent credits include Gary Griffin’s Into The Woods at Writers Theater and The Fly Honey Show X with the Inconvenience. Other Chicago credits include: Goodman Theatre (Mary Zimmerman’s Wonderful Town, Feathers and Teeth, New Stages Women Laughing Alone with Salad and Cressida on Top); Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire (Emma Goldman in Ragtime – 2018 Jeff Award Best Musical); Paramount Theatre (Ursula in The Little Mermaid); Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Peter Pan); Mercury Theatre (The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes); The Inconvenience (The Fly Honey Show IX, Woyzek in Sarajevo). Milwaukee credits include Milwaukee Repertory Theatre (Always.. Patsy Cline and Run Bambi Run Workshops); Skylight Music Theatre (Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd). Voiceover credits include: Glucerna, CLR, Jacuzzi, Land O’ Lakes and Chateau Saint Michelle. She is a TimeOut Chicago Performer of the Week and is proudly represented by Gray Talent Group.

Harmony France (Patsy Cline/Louise Seger) is a founder and the artistic director of Firebrand Theatre, Chicago's own feminist musical theatre company, where she has been the producer of Lizzie, 9 To 5, Caroline, Or Change, Queen of the Mist and now, Always… Patsy Cline. As an actor, Harmony has traveled the world with the Broadway National/International tour of Sister Act. She has been nominated for two Jeff Awards for Best actress and is the recipient of a BroadwayWorld Award for playing the title role in Violet at Bailiwick Chicago. Most recently she was the asst. director for David Cromer's acclaimed production of Next To Normal at Writers Theatre. Additionally, Harmony has worked with TimeLine Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Peninsula Players, Theatre at the Center, American Theater Company, Porchlight Music Theatre, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, Windy City Playhouse, The New Colony, Route 66, City Lit Theatre, and Timberlake Playhouse where she played Patsy in  Always, Patsy Cline. She studied opera at Brenau University, acting at Columbia College, and Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 2019, she was honored by NewCity Stage as one of the “Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago” and has been featured in Crain’s Chicago Business, Chicago Social and Playbill.

Brigitte Ditmars (Director) is a Chicago based director/choreographer with over 25 years of experience in professional and educational theatre.  She is pleased to return to Firebrand having served as Associate Director/Choreographer for Caroline, or Change. Professional credits include work with Birmingham Children's Theatre, Timber Lake Playhouse, Porchlight Music Theatre, American Theater Company, Mercury Theatre, Theater Wit, Emerald City Children's Theatre, Fox Valley Repertory, Circle Theatre, Signal Ensemble Theatre, Hell in a Handbag Productions, Strawdog Theatre, Metropolis Center for the Performing Arts, The Factory Theater and Northwestern University. She has received two Joseph Jefferson Awards for Achievement in Choreography, as well as three additional nominations.

Andra Velis Simon (Music Director) is the Resident Music Director for Firebrand, where she has music directed Caroline, or Change, 9 to 5 The Musical, and Firebrand’s inaugural production of Lizzie. Andra has worked regionally at Actors Theatre of Louisville, A.R.T. in Cambridge, Berkeley Rep, Brooklyn Academy of Music, NYU’s Skirball Center, Olney Theatre Center in Maryland, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, and others. In Chicago, her work has been seen at Steppenwolf, Goodman, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Theater Wit, The Hypocrites, and dozens of others. Most recently, she music directed Next to Normal at Writers Theatre and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murderat Porchlight Music Theatre. Andra is also adjunct faculty at Columbia College Chicago, where she has taught musical theatre performance since 2008.

Firebrand Theatre’s 2019-20 season sponsor: Michael and Mona Heath of the HeathFund.

Firebrand Theatre the world’s first equity musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering womxn* on and off the stage. Based in the vibrant city of Chicago, Firebrand Theatre’s productions will expand the traditional roles of womxn in musical theatre by reimagining classics, producing unknown gems and commissioning new works. *womxn is used to include trans and non-binary folx. Firebrand is a 501(c)(3) Equity theatre.

Company members: Artistic Director: Harmony France, Associate Artistic Director: Jon Martinez, Grants and Fundraising: Danni Smith, Social Media Director: Amanda Horvath-Adair, Casting Director: Adelina Feldman-Schultz; Advisory Board: Lili-Anne Brown, Brenda Didier, Emjoy Gavino, Amber Mak, Company Members: Becca Brown, Giselle Castro, Sydney Charles, Liz Chidester, Eric Martin, Natalie O'hea, Amelia Jo Parish, Tyler Symone, Andra Velis Simon and JC Widman.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

DIRECTORS HAVEN 2019 Returns October 14 – 30, 2019 at The Den Theatre

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Haven Presents
Showcasing Three Short Plays Directed by Lauren Katz,
Aaron Mays & AJ Schwartz
October 14 – 30, 2019 at The Den Theatre
*Tickets: $10 suggested donation* 

Directors Haven 2019 Directors – Haven’s 2019 DIRECTORS HAVEN will feature works directed by (left to right) Lauren Katz, Aaron Mays and AJ Schwartz.

Haven is pleased to present its fifth DIRECTORS HAVEN, the company’s ever-growing initiative annually showcasing the talents of three rising directors. This season, Lauren Katz directs Caryl Churchill’s ambitious surrealist work THIS IS A CHAIR; Aaron Mays helms Sonia Sanchez’s lyrical drama 2 x 2; and AJ Schwartz directs Dan Giles’ tender yet challenging one-act HOW YOU KISS ME IS NOT HOW I LIKE TO BE KISSED. The three productions, which will have the support of a full production team, will run back-to-back in one program. DIRECTOR’S HAVEN 2019 will play October 14 – 30, 2019 at Haven’s resident home, The Den Theatre (2A) 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets ($10 suggested donation) are currently available at

Comments Artistic Director Ian Damont Martin, “This cohort of directors is more than ready to bring their work to the Chicago community, and Haven couldn't be more excited to facilitate and support them in this fifth year of our Directors Haven program. Each of these early-career directors have interests and visions that are specific, intelligent, and downright exciting. The pieces they have individually selected are glimpses of the kind of work we need to be seeing and making right now – work that asks us the difficult questions – work that makes space for the marginal and the marginalized. This is met with an articulated interest and commitment in intentional processes, which is becoming increasingly important at Haven. We are very much looking forward to bringing you this necessary work from the next generation of artists helping to find and define the future of our practice.”
Directors Haven 2019 Cast – The cast of Haven’s DIRECTORS HAVEN 2019 includes (top, l to r) Catherine Dvorak, Tamsen Glaser, Lakecia Harris, Isaac Snyder, Julian "Joolz" Stroop and Diego Zozaya with (bottom, l to r) Dionne Addai, Sheree Bynum, Simon Gebremedhin, Merrina Millsapp, Juwon Tyrel Perry, Morgan Lavenstein and Rolando Serrano.

DIRECTORS HAVEN 2019 includes:

By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Lauren Katz
Mentor: Devon de Mayo
Featuring Catherine Dvorak, Tamsen Glaser, Lakecia Harris, Isaac Snyder, Julian "Joolz" Stroop and Diego Zozaya

This is a Chair is composed of a series of individual vignettes, each including a headline that is meant to be clearly displayed or stated. Each title refers to a contemporary world issue, including “The War in Bosnia,” “Genetic Engineering,” and “Pornography and Censorship” – titles that seemingly share no connection to the scene at hand. Caryl Churchill invites us to dig deep into our personal lives and relationships, exploring the depths of how we interact with the world around us.

2 x 2
By Sonia Sanchez
Directed by Aaron Mays
Mentor: Pemon Rami
Featuring Dionne Addai, Sheree Bynum, Simon Gebremedhin, Merrina Millsapp and Juwon Perry

Beverly Smith is watching her family fall apart. Her grandchildren are in need of her care while her daughter Ramona, once a fierce activist, struggles with addiction. When Beverly goes to take the kids home with her, she learns about Ramona’s past passion for activism and what led to her decline. This lyrical drama set in North Philadelphia explores social activism, generational differences and the hardships facing urban black communities through the lens of a mother-daughter relationship.

By Dan Giles
Directed by AJ Schwartz
Mentor: Monty Cole
Featuring Morgan Lavenstein and Rolando Serrano

It’s a love story that transcends labels. Two people meet, they fall in love, they U-Haul, life happens. A couple just like any other – well, almost. How You Kiss Me Is Not How I Like To Be Kissed innovatively addresses the urgent contemporary issue of straight representation in the arts. This groundbreaking and oh-so-needed play brings important visibility to the sorrows and joys – and even the inherent flaws – of the heterosexual lifestyle.

The production team for DIRECTORS HAVEN 2019 includes Will Tople (scenic design), Angela Mix (costume design), Sim Carpenter (lighting design), Jonesy Jones (sound design) and Emily Boyd (resident props).


Location: The Den Theatre (2A), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Previews: Monday, October 14 at 7:30 pm and Tuesday, October 15 at 7:30 pm
Regular Run: Wednesday, October 16 – Wednesday, October 30, 2018
Curtain Times: Sundays at 3 pm; Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 pm

Tickets: $10 suggested donation. Tickets are currently available at

About the Directors

Lauren Katz (This is a Chair) is a freelance director, dramaturg, and teaching artist. She served as the 2016-17 Artistic Apprentice at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and as a fellow in the 2018-19 Directors Inclusion Initiative at Victory Gardens. Recent directing projects include: Subjective is Beauty (Prop Thtr), Toni and Marcus: From Village Life to Urban Stress (Illinois Holocaust Museum) and Salena’s Story (iO Theater). As an assistant director and dramaturg in Chicago, Lauren has worked with various companies including About Face Theatre, Firebrand Theatre, Theater Wit, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Writers Theatre and Windy City Playhouse. As a teaching artist, Lauren works with Lookingglass Theatre and Mudlark Theatre. 

Aaron Mays (2 x 2) is an emerging director and playwright in Chicago with a passion for stories of the African diaspora and the narratives of marginalized voices. Aaron’s most recent directing credits include Waiting for Godot (Tympanic Theatre) with an all-Latinx cast and Tug of War (CIRCA Pintig), a series of short plays on war, trauma and immigration. In addition, he has worked with Chicago’s top directors, serving as the assistant director for such productions as Sweat (Goodman Theatre), Mosque Alert (Silk Road Rising), Two Trains Running (Goodman Theatre) and Seven Guitars (Court Theatre). 

AJ Schwartz (How You Kissed Me is Not How I Like to be Kissed) is a director living and making art in Chicago since 2013. As a theatremaker, they aim to use performance to explore the world through a radical, iconoclastic and undeniably queer lens. Their recent credits include Mike Pence Sex Dream, Refrigerator (assistant director, First Floor Theater), This Bitter Earth (dramaturg), Time Is on Our Side (assistant director, About Face Theatre), Zurich (assistant director, Steep Theatre Co.), and The Henry V Project (director, Loyola University Chicago).   

About Haven:


We exist to be a Haven for The Future. We achieve this through championing the next generation of playwrights, directors and actors by producing and promoting plays and performances that are staking their claim as the immediate future of this art form, and by investing in those at the very beginning of their professional journeys. Through this inspiration, we seek to ignite in each audience member a hope for the Future - the Future of theatre and performance, the Future of each other, the Future of our community.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

REVIEW: Griffin Theatre Company's FOR SERVICES RENDERED May 19 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Griffin Theatre Company Presents
By W. Somerset Maugham
Directed by Robin Witt

May 19 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre

(left to right) Lynda Shadrake, Israel Antonio, Ella Pennington, Krystal Ortiz, Tim Newell 
and Cindy Marker 
All Photos by Michael Brosilow.

by bonnie kenaz-mara

FOR SERVICES RENDERED is a great period piece with gorgeous costumes, a lovely set, compelling characters, and a biting message. Griffin Theatre's  excellent production not only crosses the pond, but spans nearly a century to remain eerily relevant. As long as homeless veterans line our highway on ramps, and an average of 22 US servicemen commit suicide daily, this production should awaken equal parts compassion and rage, and a burning passion to change the way we treat our returning soldiers. 

(left to right) Marika Mashburn and Robert Quintanilla 
Photo by Michael Brosilow.

We still live in an era where earmarking funds for caring for injured soldiers' physical and mental health is considered too expensive, and yet the military industrial complex gobbles up billions annually in an ever expanding budget. 

(left to right) Marika Mashburn, Ella Pennington and Krystal Ortiz 
Photo by Michael Brosilow.

FOR SERVICES RENDERED offers an array of interesting, nuanced, female roles with depth and insight unusual for the 1930's. They provide a glimpse into the lives and inner lives of those who bear the brunt of the caregiving when soldiers return injured and/or traumatized. These women have desires, dreams and schemes apart from the men in their lives, and it's refreshing to see them making unpredictable choices. 

Sure, some of the opportunities for women have improved since this play's 1932 inception, and the unmarried aren't automatically relegated to old maid purgatory. Yet a shocking amount of the abhorrent behavior of older, married men toward teenage girls is still occurring in our current #MeToo climate. And women are still too often held hostage to the economic and philandering whims of their partners. 

(left to right) Krystal Ortiz and Matt Fletcher
Photo by Michael Brosilow.

(left to right) Krystal Ortiz and Matt Rockwood
Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Kristal Ortiz as desirable daughter, Lois Ardsley, Israel Antonio as injured veteran, Sydney Ardsley, and Lynda Shadrake as matriarch, Charlotte Ardsley, are particular standouts among a superb cast. I caught the opening Memorial Day weekend, and this is an excellent and timely choice as Chicago's veterans in need become more visible in the spring and summer months. Highly recommended.

(left to right) Israel Antonio and Lynda Shadrake 
Photo by Michael Brosilow. 

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: (adult) & (family friendly). 

(left to right) Ella Pennington and Krystal Ortiz
Photo by Michael Brosilow.


Griffin Theatre Company is pleased to continue its 31st season with W. Somerset Maugham’s classic war drama FOR SERVICES RENDERED, directed by ensemble member Robin Witt*, playing May 19 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre (Upstairs Main Stage), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (773) 697-3830. The press opening is Sunday, May 26 at 7 pm.

FOR SERVICES RENDERED features Israel Antonio, Eddie Dzialo, Matt Fletcher, Jennifer Huddleston, Cindy Marker, Marika Mashburn, Tim Newell, Krystal Ortiz, Ella Pennington, Robert Quintanilla, Matt Rockwood and Lynda Shadrake*.

Years ahead of its time, W. Somerset Maugham’s 1932 landmark play shows the impact of war on civilian life and suggests that the ideals of honor, patriotism and glory mean nothing if we show no care for the victims of conflict. A blistering portrait of the devastating aftermath of war and its effect on its survivors. FOR SERVICES RENDERED continues the Griffin’s exploration and mission to unearth rarely produced classic plays from the past (Men Should Weep, London Wall and Time and the Conways) with relevance to today and introduce them to Chicago audiences for the first time.

The production team for FOR SERVICES RENDERED includes Sotirios Livaditis (scenic design), Aly Renee Amidei (costume design), Brandon Wardell** (lighting design), Thomas Dixon (sound design), Rachel Watson (props design), Adam Goldstein (dialect coach), Lucy Carapetyan (casting director), Spencer Ryan Diedrick (assistant director), Emily Kefferstan (production manager), Derik Marcussen (technical director), Hannah Beehler (stage manager) and Rachelle ‘Rocky’ Kolecke (assistant stage manager).

*Denotes Griffin Theatre ensemble members   **Denote Griffin Theatre artistic associates

Cast (in alphabetical order): Israel Antonio (Sydney Ardsley), Eddie Dzialo (Leonard Ardsley), Matt Fletcher (Howard Bartlett), Jennifer Huddleston (Gertrude), Cindy Marker (Gwen Cedar), Marika Mashburn (Eva Ardsley), Tim Newell (Dr. Prentice), Krystal Ortiz (Lois Ardsley), Ella Pennington (Ethel Bartlett), Robert Quintanilla (Collie Stratton), Matt Rockwood (Wilfred Cedar) and Lynda Shadrake* (Charlotte Ardsley).

Understudies: Aida Delaz, Harrison Hapin, Darren Hill and Tom Jansson.

Location: The Den Theatre (Upstairs Main Stage), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Regular run: Thursday, July 30 – Saturday, July 6, 2019

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, July 4.

Tickets: Previews $28. Regular run $37. Students, seniors & veterans $32 ($23 previews). Group discount are available for groups of ten or more. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (773) 697-3830.

About the Artists
W. Somerset Maugham (Playwright) was an English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer whose work is characterized by a clear unadorned style, cosmopolitan settings, and a shrewd understanding of human nature. Maugham was orphaned at the age of 10; he was brought up by an uncle and educated at King’s School, Canterbury. After a year at Heidelberg, he entered St. Thomas’ medical school, London, and qualified as a doctor in 1897. He drew upon his experiences as an obstetrician in his first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), and its success, though small, encouraged him to abandon medicine. In 1908 he achieved a theatrical triumph – four plays running in London at once – that brought him financial security. His reputation as a novelist rests primarily on four books: Of Human Bondage (1915), a semi-autobiographical account of a young medical student’s painful progress toward maturity; The Moon and Sixpence (1919), an account of an unconventional artist, suggested by the life of Paul Gauguin; Cakes and Ale (1930), the story of a famous novelist, which is thought to contain caricatures of Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole; and The Razor’s Edge (1944), the story of a young American war veteran’s quest for a satisfying way of life. Maugham’s skill in handling plot, in the manner of Guy de Maupassant, is distinguished by economy and suspense. In The Summing Up (1938) and A Writer’s Notebook (1949) Maugham explains his philosophy of life as a resigned atheism and a certain skepticism about the extent of man’s innate goodness and intelligence; it is this that gives his work its astringent cynicism.

Robin Witt (Director) For Services Rendered is the fifth play Robin has directed for Griffin where she is an ensemble member. Other Griffin productions: London Wall, Men Should Weep, Flare Path, and Stage Door. She is also an ensemble member at Steep Theatre where her productions include Linda by Penelope Skinner, Lela & Co. by Cordelia Lynn, and Wastwater by Simon Stephens. Robin recently directed A Doll’s House Part 2 for Steppenwolf and A Number at Writers Theatre. She is an Associate Professor at UNC Charlotte and she holds a BFA from NYU and a MFA from Northwestern. Next up: Alistair McDowall’s Pomona at Steep Theatre (July/Aug. 2019).

The Griffin Theatre Company's 2018/2019 Premiere Season Sponsors are Michael and Mona Heath.

The Griffin Theatre Company is a Blue Star Theater and is proud to support our military enlisted and veterans. 

About Griffin Theatre Company
Established in 1988. the mission of the Griffin Theatre Company is to create extraordinary and meaningful theatrical experiences for both children and adults by building bridges of understanding between generations that instill in its audience an appreciation of the performing arts. Through artistic collaboration the Griffin Theatre Company produces literary adaptations, original work and classic plays that challenge and inspire, with wit, style and compassion for the audience.

The Griffin Theatre Company is the recipient of 115 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for theater excellence in Chicago. The Griffin was honored with four 2018 Jeff awards for Ragtime including Best Ensemble, Best Musical, Best Director-Musical and Best Performer in a Supporting Role-Musical. Additionally, the company was the repeat winner of the 2016 Jeff Award for Best Production of a Play for London Wall having won the same award in 2015 for its production of Men Should Weep.

The Griffin Theatre Company is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

For additional information, visit

(left to right) Eddie Dzialo, Israel Antonio, Krystal Ortiz, Marika Mashburn, Ella Pennington and Matt Fletcher in Griffin Theatre Company’s production of FOR SERVICES RENDERED. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

FEST ALERT: Full Line-Up Announced for The New Colony’s UNCHARTED Festival at The Den Theatre July 11 – 20, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Full Line-Up Announced!
The New Colony’s 
July 11 – 20, 2019 at The Den Theatre

The New Colony’s UNCHARTED Festival playwrights include (top, l to r) Fin Coe, Grace McLeod, Michael Turrentine, Mario (Mars) Wolfe, Christina Renee Jones, Patriac Coakley and Evan Linder. Directors include (bottom, l to r) Elyse Dolan, James Fleming, Toma Tavares Langston, Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary, Dani Wieder, Megan Johns and Zach Weinberg.

The New Colony is pleased to present UNCHARTED, a two-week showcase of plays at different points in their journeys to production, playing July 11 – 20, 2019 at TNC’s resident home, The Den Theatre (2B) 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets will go on sale in June at

UNCHARTED is a two-week festival showcasing bold new works from Chicago playwrights developed, incubated and curated by The New Colony. The company provides Chicago playwrights with support from professional directors, actors and designers to help them take the next step in the creation of a new work. UNCHARTED was founded in recognition and celebration of the Chicago community’s passion for creating and producing new American plays and aims to connect audiences and theatrical producers with today’s stories and tomorrow’s playwrights. Each offering will receive two presentations over the course of the festival.

Comments The New Colony Co-Artistic Directors Fin Coe and Stephanie Shum, "The New Colony's pipeline is full of intriguing new plays, more than we could ever give a production to. UNCHARTED is our attempt to break the cycle of wonderful, timely new plays staying undiscovered and unproduced. We've curated a selection of promising new stories that deserve to be showcased for other Chicago theatres to see and hear. Our ensemble and staff are applying our decade of new play development experience to connecting these plays and their playwrights with the organizations that are hungry for contemporary scripts that fit their aesthetic and mission. We're confident that this matchmaking will result in more new Chicago classics finding homes and productions."

The UNCHARTED line-up includes:

Written by Fin Coe*
Directed by Elyse Dolan

In the summer of 2001, a brilliant physicist sets up shop in her family's cabin and gathers a team of scientists for one wild, irresistible purpose: build a machine to get them all the hell out of their awful timeline.

Written by Grace McLeod
Directed by James Fleming

When Alex gets hired at a Halloween pop-up store in the suburbs of Chicago, she's thrilled to start her gap year with her first real job. As she and her older, jaded co-workers scramble to meet their sales goal and push superhero capes and fake blood on strangers, they each struggle to distinguish the masks they wear from the masks they sell. Scare Me is a queer coming-of-age comedy about the fear of being yourself, the desire to be somebody else, and the danger of getting attached to something that was always meant to be temporary.

Written by Michael Turrentine
Directed by Toma Tavares Langston

Ryan and Tyler live in a quaint little house in the near suburbs of Chicago. They’ve been married two years, are insatiably in love, and thinking of starting a family in the near future. But when Ryan asks his ex-wife of four years, Lona, to be the surrogate mother, Tyler is forced to dive deep into Ryan’s past, to see his husband in a way he never thought possible. If Only Once is a story of feeling trapped inside our own lives and poses the question: do we ever really know the people we choose to love?

BERTHA VAN ATION 3.0 (birth-of-a-nation 3 point-oh)
Written by Mario (Mars) Wolfe 
Directed by Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary 

Genesis double oh seven. Sometime after Adam and Eve learned to fart and fornicate and much after the Twin Towers. Oprah Shy X (Shy) and Oprah Shy Y (O) set out to recall the story of their escape from incarceration and enslavement. Their brother, Cole, steers the whip to freedom, using 8-oh-8 to guide the Odyssey. The siblings find their task to be a tall order when the memories of the Privileged and their genetic experiments resurface. Scientists, Sanitation Workers, and a Nurse join the Children on their quest for truth within recycled myths, parables, and trap beats.

Written by Christina Renee Jones
Directed by Dani Wieder

Julie grew up following all the rules. While she aced her youth, she is currently flunking adulting. After years of horrible luck, bad decisions and undiagnosed mental illnesses, Julie decides she just can’t deal with it anymore. Until one night, when her reality is transformed into the world of her favorite childhood public television show, "Puppet Playhouse." Sunny days, the air is sweet, and the arts and crafts made streets are populated with irritating, singing puppets. The Puppet Play is brought to you by the letters F: for embracing Friendship, M: for tackling Mental illnesses, and L: for learning to Love yourself.

Bits & Pieces Series (presented together in one program as scripts still in process):

Written by Patriac Coakley*
Directed by Megan Johns*

After winning a raffle at a benefit, two members of a struggling Chicago storefront theatre go to a famous Chicago playwright’s house for dinner. Resentment brews under conversation and intentions for the evening are revealed to go beyond a dinner… and maybe the law.

Written by Evan Linder*
Directed by Zach Weinberg

Liv has accepted her estranged sister Jo’s invitation to spend Christmas together with their families in New York in 1961. With years of hurt between them, they hope this can be their chance to finally exhume all the skeletons in their closets. Or at least the contentious Academy Award stuffed in the cupboard. Jo & Liv is at turns hysterical and heartbreaking as it explores two legendary Hollywood siblings who love each other fiercely, but love their grudges more. Jo & Liv was commissioned as part of the Goodman Theatre's 2017 Playwright Unit.

*Denotes The New Colony Ensemble Member

UNCHARTED Performance Schedule:

Thursday, July 11 at 7:30 pm
Friday, July 12 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, July 13 at 3 pm & 7:30 pm
Sunday, July 14 at 3 pm & 7:30 pm
Monday July 15 at 7:30 pm
Wednesday, July 17 at 7:30 pm
Thursday, July 18 at 7:30 pm
Friday, July 19 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, July 20 at 3 pm & 7:30 pm

Note: a detailed schedule by production will be posted shortly at

About the Artists

Fin Coe (Playwright, Other Rockpools) is a Chicago-based theatre artist, and the Co-Artistic Director of The New Colony. A native of Silicon Valley and a graduate of Case Western Reserve University, his past writing credits include Pretty/Windy Theatre Company, Scribble Bibble, A-Squared Theatre, the Sketch Review, and others. Fun Harmless Warmachine is his first full-length play to be produced.

Elyse Dolan (Director, Other Rockpools) is excited to join the New Colony team! Previously at TNC, she directed the Associate Company production of Here After by Evan Sesek and acted as Assistant Director on Kin Folk (dir. Evan Linder). She is the Assistant Producer at American Blues Theater, where she is also an Artistic Affiliate. At Blues, she has directed several short plays in past Ripped festivals and has been Assistant Director on a handful shows including Six Corners (dir. Gary Griffin) and Little Shop of Horrors (dir. Jonathan Berry). Her directing work has been seen across Chicago at Broken Nose Theatre, Prop Thtr, Babes with Blades, Commission Theatre, 20% Theatre Company, Pride Films & Plays, Gorilla Tango Theatre, and more. She has also served as Assistant Director on productions at Raven Theatre, Oracle Theatre, 16th Street Theater and Redtwist Theatre. Elyse holds a B.A. from Denison University.

Grace McLeod (Playwright, Scare Me) is a playwright and screenwriter based in Chicago and New York. She was the recipient of the 2018 Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize for Playwriting and a 2017-18 Trellis playwright-in-residence at the Greenhouse Theater Center, where she developed her play Herland (2019 National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere at MOXIE Theatre in San Diego, Redtwist Theatre in Chicago, and Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles). Grace has developed her plays with First Floor Theater, The New Colony, Commission Theatre, American Blues Theater, and the Victory Gardens College Night series, among others. She was a 2013-14 Tribeca Film Fellow and wrote and directed the short film Under the Table, which premiered during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, and co-wrote and produced Local/Express, an experimental short film that screened across Times Square as part of the Midnight Moment Series, the world’s largest, longest-running digital art exhibition. Grace is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago. She is represented by the Gersh Agency.

James Fleming (Director, Scare Me) Chicago-based director, Director of New Works at The New Colony, and Associate Artistic Director at Redtwist Theatre. Recent directing credits include Fun Harmless Warmachine by Fin Coe (The New Colony), Herland by Grace McLeod, Our Town by Thornton Wilder, and Sagittarius Ponderosa by MJ Kaufman (Redtwist Theatre). He has also directed readings, workshops and events for Goodman Theatre, Route 66 Theatre, AstonRep, Broken Nose Theatre, and arc theatre. He's had the pleasure of assistant directing at Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, and Greenhouse Theatre Center. James worked as part of a collaborative team with Peca Stefan, Tamilla Woodard and Ana Margineanu of PopUp Theatrics to produce the Chicago story for #THENEWOLDHOME, a mix between puzzle, social game, exhibition, audio drama and interactive installation which premiered at CLB Berlin in January 2018. He has served on the literary panels for the National New Play Network's Annual Showcase of New Plays, Route 66's TEST DRIVE and Kitchen Dog Theatre's New Play Festival. James was a participant in the Chicago Directors Lab and a recipient of an SDC Foundation Observership. This fall, he will begin pursuing his MFA in Directing at Yale School of Drama.

Michael Turrentine (Playwright, If Only Once) is mainly an actor around Chicago, appearing at companies including Remy Bumppo, The Gift Theatre, Haven Theatre, Firebrand Theatre, The Lyric Opera, and several others. More recently, he has found himself writing for the theater. He began his writing career writing various short, physical theater shows, some of which traveled around the U.S. However, If Only Once is his first full length play and he is very excited to share it. (Michael will also be writing a piece for Broken Nose Theatre's Bechdel Fest this Summer.) He is represented by Gray Talent Group.

Toma Tavares Langston (Director, If Only Once) is a freelance theater director. Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre: Hedwig and The Angry Inch. New Colony: The Light (2018 Joseph Jefferson Nomination for Director – Play). Victory Gardens: 2015 Directors Inclusion Initiative Director Fellowship. (Assistant Director) Sucker Punch. Jackalope Theatre: (Assistant Director) 1980 (or Why I'm Voting for John Anderson). Sideshow Theatre: (Assistant Director) Truth and Reconciliation and Give It All Back. Other directorial credits include The Last Five Years, The Shadow Box, For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.  

Mario (Mars) Wolfe (Playwright, Bertha Van Ation 3.0) is a writer, performance artist and theatre manager from central Florida. Mars’ plays – Bus 74, Turnt the Screw; or a trigger warning and Click Fate – have been read and performed at Victory Gardens, The Arc, Studio@620 and NoMads Art Collective. Mars was recently featured in the ArciTEXT Festival (Goddess, Forbid) and the Activate: Midwest Festival (1st Imani 22nd Six). Mars' play Party Goin On will be produced in New York later this year. Mars is a graduate of the Theatre School at DePaul and the Juilliard Apprentice Program.

Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary (Director, Bertha Van Ation 3.0) is a Dominican-American who is proud member of SAG-AFTRA, Gray Talent Group, Teatro Vista and Associate Artistic Director of Halcyon Theatre. A Columbia College Directing Grad, she has worked alongside companies such as Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Steep, Stage Left, Red Twist, Northlight and Something Marvelous, among many others both on and off stage. Selected directing credits include: Between Riverside and Crazy (Red Twist) Firefly Love (Something Marvelous) The River Bride (Halcyon) Heat Wave (Steppenwolf Garage), Between Pancho Villa and a Naked Woman (Halcyon). Past selected production credits include: Taming of the Shrew Assistant Director (Barbara Gaines/Chicago Shakes), Romeo and Juliet Directing Intern (Marti Lyons/ Chicago Shakes), Fishmen Assistant Director/ Casting Director (Goodman Theatre/Teatro Vista). Select acting credits include: There’s always the Hudson (Goodman New Stages), In the Time of the Butterflies (Teatro Vista), She Kills Monsters (Steppenwolf Garage). She has also been seen on Chicago P.D, Empire, A.P.B and CHI-IRAQ.

Christina Renee Jones (Playwright, The Puppet Play) is a Chicago performer and writer of silly stories. She is an ensemble member of Birch House, a company that focuses on immersive, theatrical experiences. She also writes, performs and goofs around as a company member with Hobo Junction. Other acting credits include City Lit, Otherworld, Midsommer Flight, A Dead Whale Productions, the side project, Promethean, Akvavit, and other theatres that are now defunct. Her writing has been seen in many different forms around town through the Eccentric Expedition, Junior Varsity, the Crowd, Potluck, and Factory Theatre.

Dani Wieder (Director, The Puppet Play) is a director of performance and film in Chicago. Recent credits include People in the Wind (Haven Theatre), In the Canyon by Calamity West (dramaturg, Jackalope Theatre), La Ronde (American Theatre Company, CORE), Josephine the Mouse Singer by Franz Kafka (Curious Theatre Branch, Rhinofest), and Miss Julie (University of Chicago). She has assistant directed and dramaturged plays across Chicago at theaters such as at The Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, Steep Theatre Company, and Court Theatre. Dani is also the Literary Manager of Haven Theatre Chicago. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago. Up next, Dani will be the Associate Director for The Fly Honey Show 10, and her film Cool for Five Seconds will be appearing at festivals around the country.

Patriac Coakley (Playwright, Letts Write a Play) is an ensemble member with The New Colony. He is grateful to be a part of the work. Past works with TNC include Small World, The Bearsuit of Happiness, Frat and That Sordid Little Story. He performs sketch with OPIE and improv with losdosdudes.

Megan Johns (Director, Letts Write a Play) is an improviser, teacher, writer and director who has been living in Chicago for the last 15 years. She is originally from Virginia, where the mountains are blue. In Chicago, Meg has taught improv at The Annoyance for 11 years and instructed collaborative theatre at both The University of Chicago and After School Matters. At The Annoyance, Meg has been in Love is Dead: A Necromantic Musical Comedy, Burlesque is More, and hosted a weekly variety show featuring LGBTQIA and female-identifying performers. She has collaborated with and directed sketch duo OPIE for the last four years and most recently took OPIE: Vol. 2 to The 2018 New York International Fringe Festival. Meg is a proud ensemble member of The New Colony, and there has directed, performed and created devised theatre for the last 10 years, including directing 11:11 and co-writing ReWilding Genius with Andrew Hobgood.

Evan Linder (Playwright, Jo & Liv) is an ensemble member and the founding Co-Artistic Director of The New Colony. He works in Chicago as a playwright, actor and director. He also teaches playwriting at the University of Chicago. Evan is a proud graduate of the College of Charleston, which presented him the Alumnus of the Year award in 2016. His plays include Byhalia Mississippi, 11:11, The Warriors, The Bear Suit of Happiness, B-Side Studio, The Hunted, Jo & Liv and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, which was named Best Overall Production at the 2012 NYC International Fringe Festival and is published by Samuel French. 5 Lesbians also enjoyed an Off-Broadway run as part of the Soho Playhouse’s 2012-13 season and has seen productions in over 35 States, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Spain, South Africa, Great Britain and Japan. Byhalia, Mississippi (2016 Jeff Award: Best New Work) opens in Washington, D.C. in June 2019 as part of the Kennedy Center’s 2018-19 Season. At The New Colony, Evan continues to teach the Writers Room, an education program he created in 2015 that has now welcomed over 100 emerging Chicago playwrights.

Zach Weinberg (Director, Jo & Liv) is a Chicago-based theater director, adaptor and administrator. He is interested in the creation of new, non-traditional works and finding the perfect medium for the message. Zach is a company member and Grants Manager at Red Tape Theatre, and a graduate of Oberlin College. Selected directing credits include serving as a Directing Apprentice with the late Redmoon Theatre, the 2016 Director’s Haven at Haven Theatre, two seasons with the Oberlin Summer Theatre Festival, two original adaptations at Curious Theatre Branch’s Rhinofest: Love in a Maze (’17) and MAY DAY (’18), and the world premiere of 2 unfortunate 2 travel, an original semi-devised work, as part of the Prop Thtr’s 2018-19 season. His credits as an assistant director include The New Colony, Organic Theatre Company, Oracle Productions, the Actors' Gymnasium, and Redmoon.

About The New Colony
The New Colony develops New Art and New Artists in order to educate and build New Audiences.

Now in its tenth year, The New Colony has established itself as “one of Chicago’s essential off-Loop companies” (Chicago Tribune). Through the premiere of over thirty premiere plays and musicals, The New Colony has cultivated a diverse audience of theatergoers eager to have a voice in the storytelling. Conversation, collaboration and innovation remain at the heart of everything they produce. The New Colony’s work has been honored with five non-Equity Jeff Awards, Broadway In Chicago’s 2011 Emerging Theatre Award and Best Overall Production at the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival. The New Colony’s 2018/19 Season marks their fourth year as a resident company in the Upstairs Mainstage of The Den Theatre in Wicker Park.

OPENING: Chicago Premiere of QUEEN OF THE MIST Via Firebrand Theatre at The Den Theatre May 25 – July 6, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Chicago Premiere!
Firebrand Theatre Presents
Book, Music & Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
Directed by Elizabeth Margolius
Music Direction by Charlotte Rivard-Hoster

May 25 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre

Firebrand Theatre is pleased to present the Chicago premiere of QUEEN OF THE MIST, based on the sensational true story of Anna (Annie) Edson Taylor, the first woman to go over Niagara Falls. Featuring book, music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa (The Wild Party, Marie Christine), direction by Elizabeth Margolius and music direction by Charlotte Rivard-Hoster, QUEEN OF THE MIST will play May 25 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Single tickets are currently available at

QUEEN OF THE MIST features Barbara E. Robertson as Anna (Annie) Edson Taylor with Maryam Abdi, Neala Barron, Brianna Buckley, Max J. Cervantes, Liz Chidester and Hannah Starr. Understudies/swings include: Liz Bollar, Adelina Feldman-Schultz, Cari Meixner and Steven Romero Shaeffer.

QUEEN OF THE MIST is based on the astounding and outrageous true story of Anna (Annie) Edson Taylor, who in 1901 set out to be the first person to go over the Niagara Falls in a barrel of her own design. Navigating both the treacherous Falls and a fickle public with a ravenous appetite for sensationalism, this unconventional heroine vies for her legacy in a world clamoring with swindling managers, assassins, revolutionaries, moralizing family, anarchists and activists. With a soaring score that incorporates turn of the century themes with LaChiusa’s signature complexity and insight, QUEEN OF THE MIST is the story of a single great fall, and how one woman risked death so that she could live.

Firebrand is the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage.

The production team for QUEEN OF THE MIST includes: Lauren Nichols (scenic design), Brenda Winstead (costume design), Carl Wahlstrom (sound design), Cat Wilson (lighting design), Wendy Huber (props deign), Daren Leonard (assistant director), Rose Hamill (production manager), Josh Prisching (technical director), Giselle Castro (sound operator), JC Widman (stage manager) and Martina Scofano (assistant stage manager).

Location: The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Dates: Previews: Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 26 at 3 pm
Press performance: Tuesday, May 28 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Thursday, May 30 – Saturday, July 6, 2019

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm
Industry Night: Wednesday, July 3 at 7:30 pm

Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $55. $20 students/industry rush tickets available at the box office. Single tickets are currently available at

About The Creative Team
Elizabeth Margolius (Director) is a Chicago-based stage and movement director with a primary focus in developing and directing new and rarely produced musical theatre, operetta and opera. Stage/movement directorial credits include: James and the Giant Peach (Viterbo University, WI), Machinal (Greenhouse Theater Center), The Bridges of Madison County (Peninsula Players, WI), Uncle Philip’s Coat (Greenhouse Theater – Jeff nomination for Best Solo Peformance), Haymarket: The Anarchist’s Songbook (Underscore Theatre – 3 Jeff nominations, including Best New Musical), Sitayana (Gift Theatre’s TEN Festival), The Girl in the Train (Chicago Folks Operetta), Goldstar, Ohio (ATC), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, asst. director to Barbara Gaines), The Mikado (the Savoyaires), The Last Cyclist (Genesis Theatrical), The Land of Smiles and The Cousin from Nowhere (Chicago Folks Operetta), Opus 1861 (City Lit Theater – 3 Jeff nominations, including Best Adaptation), Violet (Bailiwick Chicago –5 Jeff nominations, including Best Musical and Best Director), Bernarda Alba and Songs for a New World (BoHo Theatre). Elizabeth is an alumna of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in New York, a recipient of a full directorial scholarship at the Wesley Balk Opera-Music Theater Institute in Minneapolis, a respondent and workshop artist for the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival and a finalist for the Charles Abbott Fellowship. She is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of DirectorsLabChicago; a forum for emerging nationally and internationally based stage directors. Elizabeth is a proud member of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).

Charlotte Rivard-Hoster (Music Director) is proud to make her debut with Firebrand! Favorite credits: Legally Blonde, Wizard of Oz (Paramount), Fun Home (Victory Gardens), Marry Me a Little (Porchlight), Urinetown (BoHo), Bat Boy (Griffin), Heathers (Kokandy), Methtacular! (About Face), The Light in The Piazza (Berklee). Charlotte has taught at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Lake Forest College, Roosevelt, Merit School of Music, and this winter she continues her seventh year with the little musicians at Kellman Elementary through Foundations of Music. With immense gratitude to those I love and lean on, and to those who open doors and leave them open.

Firebrand Theatre’s 2018-19 season sponsor: Michael and Mona Heath of the HeathFund.

Firebrand Theatre is a musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding their opportunities on and off the stage. Firebrand is a 501(c)(3) Equity theatre.

Company members: Artistic Director: Harmony France; Advisory Board: Lili-Anne Brown, Emjoy Gavino, Kate Garassino, Amber Mak and Danni Smith; Company Members: Kasey Alfonso, Becca Brown, Sydney Charles, Liz Chidester, Heather Clark, Adelina Feldman-Schultz, Amanda Horvath, Jon Martinez, Eric Martin, Natalie O'hea, Amelia Jo Parish, Tyler Symone and Andra Velis Simon.

OPENING: FOUR PLACES Via The Den Theatre May 24 – June 30, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

The Den Theatre Presents
By Joel Drake Johnson
Directed Ensemble Member Lia Mortensen
May 24 – June 30, 2019

The cast of The Den Theatre’s revival of FOUR PLACES includes (left to right) Amy Montgomery, Bruch Reed, Meg Thalken and Rebekah Ward. 

The Den Theatre is pleased to present a revival of Joel Drake Johnson’s true-to-life drama FOUR PLACES, directed by ensemble member Lia Mortensen, playing May 24 – June 30, 2019 at 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. (2B) in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at, in person at the The Den box office or by calling (773) 697-3830. I'll be out for the press opening May 30th, so check back soon for my full review.

FOUR PLACES features Amy Montgomery, Bruch Reed, Meg Thalken and Rebekah Ward. 

Deceptively simple in its structure and unfolding in real time, this emotionally precise play deploys its spare components to devastating and darkly comic effect. A brother and sister have gotten word from their elderly parents' caretaker that they may be a danger to each other. The brother joins his sister and mother on their weekly lunch date, hoping that he and his sister can get a clearer picture of the situation. As the mother confronts the indignities of age and the children stare down a mounting list of losses and disappointments, a harrowing and true-to-life image of the family emerges. Ultimately, with unwavering clarity and sensitivity, Joel Drake Johnson explores the ways that familial love and knowledge create both hurt and comfort.

Comments Director Lia Mortensen, “I was drawn to this play because it examines the universality of family: love, secrets, trust, lies – while also navigating how alcoholism threads through the tapestry of this family. It is at once hysterical, tragic, and ultimately moving. We recognize ourselves in these imperfect humans.”

The production team includes Jeffrey D. Kmiec (scenic design), Josh Prisching (technical director) and Tina M. Jach (production stage manager).

Location: The Den Theatre (2B), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Friday, May 24 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, May 26 at 3 pm and Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30 pm

Press performance: Thursday, May 30 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Friday, May 31 – Sunday, June 30, 2019

Curtain Times: Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets: Previews $28. Regular run $45. Students/seniors: $33. Tickets are currently available at, in person at the The Den box office or by calling (773) 697-3830.

About The Artists
Joel Drake Johnson (Playwright) is an award winning, internationally-produced playwright and teacher best known for his work at Chicago’s Victory Garden's Theater, where he was a member of the company’s Playwrights Ensemble for many years. His plays include Rasheeda Speaking, Four Places, A Blue Moon, As The Beaver, The End of the Tour, The Fall To Earth, A Blameless Life and Tranquillity Woods. His work has also been produced in Chicago at Steppenwolf Theatre and globally in New York City, Los Angeles, London, and many others cities.

Lia Mortensen (Director) is thrilled to be back at The Den where she co-directed Bus Stop by William Inge alongside her pal, Ryan Martin and directed The Quality of Life by Jane Anderson. As an actor, Lia has appeared in many productions in her hometown of Chicago at Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Northlight and Writers Theatre to name a few. Some productions include The Mystery of Love and Sex, Company, City of Conversation, Pericles, Annapurna, An Inspector Calls, Cymbeline, Ten Chimneys, The Big Meal, Rabbit Hole, Closer, Faith Healer, All’s Well, Measure for Measure, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Talley’s Folley, Ghosts and Twelfth Night. Her film and TV credits include the 2010 remake of Nightmare on Elm Street, View from Tall, Consumed, Blink, Empire, Shameless, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Crisis.

About The Den Theatre
Artistic Director Ryan Martin opened The Den in 2010 with a single theatre space. Seven years later, The Den boasts five intimate and unique theaters on two floors ranging from 50 – 200 seats, as well as two additional spaces primarily used for classes and rehearsals. The Den is also equipped with two bars enveloped by a never-ending field of lounge space for audiences and like-minded culture hounds to drink, talk, read, watch, think, listen and live. The Den is home to seven resident theatre companies including First Floor Theater, Haven Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre, The New Colony, Broken Nose Theatre, WildClaw Theatre and Firebrand Theatre. Hundreds of other companies from Chicago and beyond have also called The Den home, utilizing its theaters, studio space and easily convertible cabaret space to accommodate a stream of programming, including plays, musicals, film screenings, classical and jazz performances, dance, improv and stand-up, seminars and speaking engagements. For additional information, visit

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