Showing posts with label The Explorers Club. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Explorers Club. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

OPENING: THE EXPLORERS CLUB Via Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest 4/27-5/27/18

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

The Explorers Club
by Nell Benjamin
Directed by Robert D. Estrin

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we haven't had a chance to check out Citadel's take on the multi award winning play, THE EXPLORERS CLUB, but we caught Windy City's production in 2016 and adored it. The show is a hoot! If you can make it to Lake Forest, catch it if you can. 

Nell Benjamin’s comedy THE EXPLORERS CLUB is a spoof of all those bold Victorian adventurers who ravaged foreign lands and annihilated indigenous cultures in the name of science. It’s London 1879 and the prestigious Explorers Club is in crisis: a brilliant, beautiful woman who has discovered a legendary Lost City wants to join, but letting her in might shake the very foundations of the British Empire! THE EXPLORERS CLUB, which enjoyed a successful run off-Broadway in 2013, was honored with awards including the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play, the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award, and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant.

THE EXPLORERS CLUB, which will conclude Citadel's 2017-18 season, will be directed by Robert D. Estrin, whose previous directing credits at Citadel include OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY, LEND ME A TENOR, DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER, CABARET, and A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL.  Additionally, he was scenic designer for Citadel’s productions of A CHIRSTMAS CAROL, SOMETHING’S AFOOT and LITTLE WOMEN.

Estrin’s cast will include Jacob Fjare (Professor Cope), Frank Gasparro (Luigi), Edward Kuffert (Sir Bernard Humphries), Erik Pearson (Professor Walling), Scott Phelps (Beebe/Irish Assassin), Elizabeth Rude (Phyllida Spotte-Hume, Countess Glamorgan), Bob Sanders (Professor Sloane), Nate Strain (Lucius Fretway), and Guy Wicke (Harry Percy).  Phelps is a member of Actors Equity Association.

Top row left-right: Nate Strain, Jacob Fjare, Frank Gasparro, Edward Kuffert, Erik Pearson. Bottom row left-right: Scott Phelps, Bob Sanders, Elizabeth Rude, Guy Wicke.

The design and production team will include Jose Soto (Set Designer), Sandie Bacon (Scenic Artist), Matthew Wofford (Lighting Designer), Bob Boxer (Sound Designer), Paul Kim (Costume Designer), Mark Holley (Properties Designer), Lynn Baber (casting director), Jason Clark (Master Carpenter), Samantha Tink (Stage Manager), Robert Tobin (fight choreography) and Catherine Gillespie (dialect coach).

The Press Opening is Friday, April 27 at 8:00pm at Citadel’s West Campus Theatre at 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, following previews on Wednesday, April 25 and Thursday, April 26 at 7:30pm. THE EXPLORERS CLUB will run April 27 through May 27, 2018 with performances Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm, plus 11 am matinees on May 2 and May 16. Citadel Theatre (300 S. Waukegan Rd) is a 144-seat venue with a thrust stage and comfortable stadium seating. 

Tickets are available online at or over the phone by calling the Citadel Theatre box office at 847.735.8554. Tickets are $20.00 for previews, $37.50 for regular run Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and $40.00 for Saturdays and Sundays. Discounts are available for seniors, students, theatre industry professionals and groups.

Robert D. Estrin (Director) Directing credits include A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER, CABARET, OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY, LEND ME A TENOR (Citadel); THE SUM OF US (1027 Productions). Director/Designer: SUCH A PRETTY FACE (Off Broadway Equity Showcase production, New York City). Designer: A CHRISTMAS CAROL, LITTLE WOMEN, THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE, THE BOARDING HOUSE, SOMETHING’S AFOOT (Citadel); CORPUS DELICTI, MR. SHAW GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE (MadKap Productions). Retired in 2005 from New Trier High School after thirty-four years of teaching theatre. Visit Bob on his Facebook page. Education: Northern Illinois University (B.A.); University of Illinois (M.A.).

Nell Benjamin (playwright) is a multi-talented playwright, composer and lyricist with several Broadway and off-Broadway credits. She received 2007 Tony and Drama Desk nominations and the Olivier and Helpmann Awards for Best Musical for her music and lyrics on LEGALLY BLONDE, co-written with her husband Laurence O’Keefe.  She is the lyricist of MEAN GIRLS, which will open on Broadway this spring and of the Broadway -bound musicals DAVE and HALF TIME (which had a pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago under the title GOTTA DANCE). Ms. Benjamin is the author of PIRATES!, an adaptation of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, developed at Goodspeed Opera House and Paper Mill Playhouse. She wrote book, music and lyrics for CAM JANSEN with Laurence O’Keefe, wrote lyrics for SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL and THE MICE, won a Kleban Award and a Jonathan Larson Foundation grant and is a member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild of America. Her television writing includes UNHAPPILY EVER AFTER, Animal Planet's WHOA!, SUNDAY WITH MO ROCCA and the new ELECTRIC COMPANY.

Ticket prices: Thurs., & Fris. $37.50, Sats. and Suns. $40.00, Previews $20.00. Discounts available for Seniors, Students, and for Groups of 10 or more.

Citadel Theatre is one of Chicagoland’s premier live theatres, producing hundreds of performances annually and inspiring audiences for over 14 years. Founded by Scott and Ellen Phelps in 2002, Citadel Theatre is comprised of its Main Stage performances, its On Tour programs, and its theatre acting classes for children. A proud member of the League of Chicago Theatres and the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff ArtsLink, Citadel Theatre offers a unique intimate theatre experience that transports you to another setting and leaves you feeling exhilarated and wanting more. A recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Citadel can accept tax-deductible donations. For more information, ticketing, and to make a donation, please visit Citadel online at or call 847.735.8554.

Sunday, January 24, 2016



Here at ChiIL Live Shows and ChiIL Mama we can't wait to check this one out!

Nell Benjamin, Tony Award™-nominated co-composer and lyricist of Broadway’s Legally Blonde, penned this madcap physical comedy, animated by lightning-quick dialogue, daredevil stunts, precision acrobatics and onstage snakes and guinea pigs. The prolific David H. Bell, currently developing the English-language version of La Révolution Française in Chicago, directs with stunts and precision choreography staged by Max Fabian.

The antics, uproarious barbs and rejoinders of The Explorers Club are propelled by Phyllida Spotte-Hume (Cristina Panfilio) who believes Luigi, the blue NaKong tribesman she’s brought to London from a newly discovered race of Spoon worshipers, is her entree into the society as its first woman member. Goofy admirer Lucius (Alex Goodrich), a botanist and the Club’s acting president, sponsors Phyllida, while intrepid explorer Percy (Ryan Imhoff), returning from his expedition to the East Pole, vies for Phyllida’s affections even though he can’t take seriously the notion of a woman scientist. Neither can the Club’s resident zoologist (Matt Browning), herpetologist (Zach Shornick) and “archeo-theologist” (Dan Rodden). Chaos ensues in The Explorers Club after Luigi inadvertently insults the Queen, possibly setting the British Empire at war with the world.

Windy City Playhouse, Chicago’s newest professional theater, launches 2016 with the Chicago premiere of Nell Benjamin’s slapstick farce The Explorers Club, set in a Victorian-era scientific gentleman's club. David H. Bell directs Cristina Panfilio (Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Pericles) as a female anthropologist vying for membership. 

Alex Goodrich (Elf: The Musical), Ryan Imhoff (Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Matt Browning (Redtwist’s Incident at Vichy), Graham Emmons (Prologue’s Porcelain), Dan Rodden (Theater at the Center’s On Golden Pond) and Zack Shornick (MPAACT’s Ghosts of Atwood) make up the Club members, while Colin Morgan (Oracle’s No Beast So Fierce) is Queen Victoria’s private secretary and Wesley Daniel (Chicago Shakes’ Pericles) is a blue-skinned primitive. Previews for The Explorers Club begin Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at Windy City Playhouse, 3014 West Irving Park Road. Press performances are Thursday, February 4 at 7:30 pm. and Friday, February 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets, $15-$55, are available by calling the box office at 773-891-8985 or visiting

By Nell Benjamin
Directed by David H. Bell
Previews begin: January 27, 2016

The Explorer’s Club has enough to deal with. One member has lost nearly all his guinea pigs, another can’t seem to locate the East Pole, the bartender is missing and, on top of all that, a woman wants to join. Before the British Empire crumbles under the weight, these good old boys must grapple with the approach of modernity, save the world from an international war and, for God’s sake, find a new bartender — but not until after brandy and cigars.

The Windy City Playhouse performance schedule is: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm; Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; and Sundays (consult website for Sunday times).

Single tickets range from $15-$55 and are available by calling 773-891-8985 or visiting Flexible subscription packages are available for 2016.

The Explorers Club is part of Chicago Theatre Week 2016. Select performances, between February 11 and 21, are available for $15 and $30 via

About Windy City Playhouse

Windy City Playhouse is a new theater at 3014 West Irving Park Road. Opened in March 2015, the Playhouse is a professional theater meant to entertain through exceptional contemporary, relevant and approachable art. Combining relatable material with high quality artistry, Windy City Playhouse seeks to create work accessible by audiences of all kinds. With a full service bar and light snacks, the Playhouse is not a traditional theater, rather a fun, relaxing and entertaining environment. With amenities such as swivel club chair seating, the Playhouse is designed as a space for audiences to linger before and after the performance—a place to decompress with art.

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