Showing posts with label benefit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label benefit. Show all posts

Friday, January 28, 2022

HELP OUT: Theo Ubique Cabaret Presents Viva La Diva January 29th To Help Amy Armstrong Fight Cancer

 With her powerful and soulful voice, Amy Armstrong mesmerizes listeners while her hilarious and sometimes risqué humor keeps them doubled over in laughter.

Amy has been one of Chicago’s favorite cabaret performers and an LGBTQ+ supporter, advocate and angel since moving here in 1995. In 2018, she was diagnosed with cancer and moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico permanently to receive medical care. 

Please join us for this one-night benefit to back to Amy and support her on her journey by hosting her to help raise funds for her treatment costs.

 "Choose Your Price for the Fight" 

100% of ticket sales will go directly to Amy for her medical expenses.

You can choose one of three ticket prices to support Amy. All seats are general admission.

Ally - $50.00

Friend - $75.00

Angel - $125.00


Everyone is required to be vaccinated to enter the building.

Each audience member must show photo ID & proof of vaccination at the door for admittance. (Scans, photos and copies of vaccination proof are acceptable.)

At this time, children under the age of 12 are not admitted.

If you forget proof of vaccination, we will reschedule your tickets at no charge.

If you are feeling ill, please do not attend. Contact our box office on the day of performance and we will reschedule your ticket at no cost.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

HELP OUT: Hell in a Handbag Productions Announces Annual Benefit “THE MORNING AFTER” Featuring the Very First Live Stream of POSEIDON! AN UPSIDE-DOWN MUSICAL Streaming January 1, 2021 from 6 – 9:30 pm CST

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 

Hell in a Handbag Productions Announces Annual Benefit


Featuring the Very First Live Stream of


Streaming January 1, 2021 from 6 – 9:30 pm CST

Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to announce its annual benefit “The Morning After,” featuring the streaming world premiere of the smash hit musical that started it all for them, POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical on Friday, January 1, 2021 from 6 – 9:30 pm CST. Tickets ($22–$30) include a 6 pm pre-show discussion and never-before-seen clips from past POSEIDON! productions, memories from cast and crew members of all three productions, and a raffle and silent auction featuring fabulous self-care items for you to bid on to make your quarantine bearable! Handbag will also provide links to order food and cocktails from partnering restaurants. Tickets are currently available at All proceeds benefit Hell in a Handbag Productions, Chicago’s leading camp and parody theater company.

(left to right) Shane Roberie, Elizabeth Lesinski, Katherine Bellantone, Nicky Mendelson, David Lipschutz, Frankie Leo Bennett, Scott Sawa, Stevie Love, Tommy Bullington and Michael S. Miller in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ revival of POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical. All Photos by Rick Aguilar Studios.

(front, l to r) Brittney Brown, Michael S. Miller, Tommy Bullington, Maiko Terazawa and the cast of Hell in a Handbag Productions’ revival of POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical. 

“What do you to when your world turns upside down? That’s what POSEIDON! is about,” comments Artistic Director David Cerda*. “This is what makes the first live stream of POSEIDON! in 18 years so relevant for today. We’re all just trying to survive, physically and mentally.”

The 2019 production of POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical was recorded by Peter Neville* in HD with stereo sound at Chicago’s Edge Theater. POSEIDON! features book and lyrics by Handbag Artistic Director David Cerda*, music by David Cerda* with Scott Lamberty, direction by Derek Van Barham, music direction by Andrew Milliken and choreography by Breon Arzell.

(left to right) Frankie Leo Bennett, Shane Roberie, Elizabeth Lesinski, Katherine Bellantone, Stevie Love, Nicky Mendelson, Scott Sawa, Tommy Bullington, David Lipschutz and Michael S. Miller

The cast includes Katherine Bellantone, Frankie Leo Bennett, Brittney Brown, Tommy Bullington, Sydney Genco*, Caitlin Jackson*, Josh Kemper, Elizabeth Lesinski*, David Lipschutz*, Stevie Love*, Nicky Mendelson, Michael S. Miller*, Courtney Dane Mize, Elissa Newcorn, Marc Prince, Shane Roberie, Scott Sawa, Patrick Stengle and Maiko Terazawa.

(front) Stevie Love (with back, l to r) David Lipschutz, Shane Roberie, Elizabeth Lesinski, Nicky Mendelson and Scott Sawa 

It’s New Year’s Eve and a group of hardcore fans have gathered for their annual viewing of the greatest film ever – The Poseidon Adventure, the story of the capsize of the SS Poseidon on New Year’s Eve, and the handful of misfit passengers that decide to climb to the top of the ship – which is now the bottom. As the story progresses the viewers become one with the film. POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical is part parody, part homage – and a look at how movies can leave their mark on you.

(front, l to r) Katherine Bellantone, Frankie Leo Bennett and Courtney Dane Mize with (back) Stevie Love 

(pictured) The cast of Hell in a Handbag Productions’ revival of POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical. 

Handbag’s original 2002 Chicago production of POSEIDON! was a critical and popular smash and extended for a five-month sold-out run in Chicago, and was accepted into The New York International Fringe Festival, where it was the most attended show of 2003, winning an award of excellence for Best Ensemble. The show was remounted in 2009 at The Chopin Theatre and enjoyed another extended run.

For Tickets and More Information click here.

(left to right) Elizabeth Lesinski, Scott Sawa, Tommy Bullington, Shane Roberie and Frankie Leo Bennett 

(pictured) The cast of in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ revival of POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical. 

Benefit Schedule: 

6 pm: Pre-show with never-before-seen clips, and memories with the cast members from all three productions.

6:30 pm: the virtual world premiere of POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical.

7:45 pm: Intermission, raffle drawings and bonus clips.

8:50 pm: POSEIDON! ends – raffle and silent auction winners.

9:15 pm: You end up giving us all of your money!

(left to right) Elissa Newcorn, Shane Roberie, Elizabeth Lesinski, David Lipschutz and Caitlin Jackson

(left to right) Scott Sawa, Josh Kemper, Elizabeth Lesinski, Marc Prince, Nicky Mendelson and the cast of Hell in a Handbag Productions’ revival of POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical. Photo 

The production team includes Christopher Rhoton (scenic design), Beth Laske Miller (costume design), Cat Wilson* (lighting design), Danny Rockett (sound design), Adrian Hadlock (props design), Sydney Genco* (make-up design), Keith Ryan* (wig design), R & D Fight Choreography (violence and stunt choreography), Madison Smith (assistant director), Noah Watkins (technical director), Andrew C. Donnelly* (stage manager) and Dani Bar-Lavi (assistant stage manager).

Although 2020 has put a stop to live performances, Hell in a Handbag has met the challenge with their very first virtual production of The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes; a fun, safe drive-in series of their greatest hits; Airport 1970SOMETHING, a streaming parody of another ‘70s disaster classic: and their current holiday show, The Rip Nelson Holiday Quarantine Special, filmed on a set with the magic of green screen and a little ingenuity, playing through January 9, 2020. 

*Denotes Handbag ensemble members and artistic associates

(front, l to r) Marc Prince, Elizabeth Lesinski, Scott Sawa, Shane Roberie and the cast of Hell in a Handbag Productions’ revival of POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical.

(left to right) Patrick Stengle and Stevie Love in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ revival of POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

 About Hell in a Handbag Productions

Hell in a Handbag is dedicated to the preservation, exploration, and celebration of works ingrained in the realm of popular culture via theatrical productions through parody, music and homage. Handbag is a 501(c)(3) Not for Profit. For additional information, visit

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Review: Fefu And Her Friends Streaming Through December 9th To Benefit Season Of Concern $5-$10

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar:


By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

What a joy to stream María Irene Fornés’ Fefu and Her Friends last night. I'm still glowing from all the girl power energy. It's a rare treat to find an all female show with eight women and the cast is superb. It's eerie how prescient and relevant these word are today. Set in 1935, through a 2020 lens, Fornés’ words from 1977 are timeless truths. Life is theatre and theatre is life indeed. 

I'm generally not an outwardly emotional audience member, but I confess, this production had me laughing along and enjoying the palpable camaraderie of the characters. In the talkback, the actors' genuine affection for one another came through, and I'm 100% sure this is the first Q&A that made me tear up. This staged reading is the best example of Zoom-style staging I've seen to date, and it's a tough style to pivot to. Props were passed seamlessly, and it was lovely how intimate breakout dialogues alternated with small groups and the energy of the full cast interacting. Ultimately there was such a true interconnection between characters, so often lacking while we can't share stage space. 

I loved the way Fornés included the complicated layers of women and their relationships, touching on the physical work, philanthropic volunteering, accountability, healing, and emotional work women do among friend circles. The sheer fear and exhaustion of womanhood is brilliantly brandished along with deep reserves of courage and the power of humor and playfulness. The characters are quirky enough to be fascinating and universal enough to ring true, and their traumas, accomplishments, fears and friendships are all too familiar.

In our current covid induced crisis of connection this production is a welcome way to reconnect. Even better, tickets and donations directly benefit Season of Concern, the emergency fund for Chicago theater artists. 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 publishes frequently: (adult) & (family friendly). 

Season of Concern, the emergency fund for Chicago theater artists, is co-producing a virtual production of Fefu and Her Friends, Cuban-American playwright María Irene Fornés’ feminist masterwork, in partnership with much-admired Chicago theater artist Mary Beth Fisher.

Director Stacy Stoltz has assembled an amazing, dream team of eight of Chicago’s top leading ladies to co-star in this special benefit production 

WGN-TV news anchor and reporter Lourdes Duarte is the evening’s virtual host.

Fefu and Her Friends will be presented as a virtual, enhanced stage reading. The 80-minute production will be immediately followed by a live talk back with members of the cast and production team.

Ticket sales will be turned into direct financial aid for members of Chicago’s theater community who cannot work due to illness, injury or circumstance. As Chicago’s stages remain shuttered due to Covid-19, these funds are particularly critical for Chicago artists in need.

Season of Concern, the emergency fund for Chicago theater artists, is thrilled to announce it will co-produce a virtual production of Fefu and Her Friends, Cuban-American playwright María Irene Fornés’ feminist masterwork, in partnership with much-admired Chicago theater artist Mary Beth Fisher.

Director Stacy Stoltz has assembled an amazing, dream team of eight of Chicago’s top leading ladies to co-star in this special benefit production: Charin Alvarez, Sandra Delgado, Ora Jones, Delia Kropp, Sadieh Rifai, Lisa Tejero, Janet Ulrich Brooks and Penelope Walker.

WGN-TV news anchor and reporter Lourdes Duarte has signed on as the evening’s virtual host.

Anne Garcîa-Romero, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Notre Dame and co-founder of The Fornés Institute, is dramaturg. Devin Brain is technical director and video editor.

Fefu and Her Friends will be presented as a virtual, enhanced stage reading. The 80-minute production will premiere online on Saturday, December 5 at 7 p.m. CT, and will be immediately followed by a live talk back with members of the cast and production team.

Tickets for Fefu and Her Friends -- $10/$5 for students and seniors – are on sale now. To purchase, visit the Season of Concern website,, or call (312) 375-1133.

All ticket buyers will receive a private Vimeo link a few hours before show time with simple instructions how to stream the performance. The show will debut promptly at 7 p.m., although ticket holders have the option to watch the production on demand within 24 hours.

Afterwards, the performance will be posted on Season of Concern's website,, for on-demand viewing through December 9. Post-opening tickets are $10/$5.

Proceeds will benefit Season of Concern, which provides financial assistance to Chicagoland theater practitioners impacted by illness, injury or circumstances that prevent them from working. For more information, visit

Fefu and Her Friends: Behind the scenes

Fefu and Her Friends, told in three parts, is set on one amazing day in the spring of 1935 in a New England country home, where Fefu and her seven female friends have gathered to rehearse a presentation for their charity benefiting arts education. The women interact over their planning - studying, drinking, repairing plumbing, analyzing dreams and relationships, while Fefu carries on an unusual game involving her unseen husband outside and a rifle. Shifting between realism and surrealism, this award-winning play asks its audience to consider what is most "real" - is it what is in front of you or what is inside of you? 

Originally staged and directed by Fornés herself in 1977, Fefu and Her Friends is best known for its use of an all-female cast and her bold and experimental deviations from conventional playwriting and stage presentation. The play earned Fornés one of her nine Obie Awards and is still considered one of the most influential Off-Broadway plays ever - remaining a key work of the American avant-garde.

"Fornés, my teacher and mentor, taught me to seek authenticity and truth in my playwriting," said dramaturg Anne García-Romero. "Fefu and Her Friends remains one of the most important (and lesser known) plays of the twentieth century and explores the authentic and true experiences of women in the 1930's as they struggle to survive in a patriarchal society. In these times, Fefu and Her Friends reminds me of the importance and power of women in community, joining together to uplift each other, in the face of relentless inequities."

"I think Fornés was always mining what is underneath the surface," said co-producer Mary Beth Fisher. “Gender roles, friendship, love, sexuality, conformity, community, the haves and the have-nots - to me, all these things speak clearly to the present moment in our country. If you feel powerless, what does it take to feel powerful? If you feel like you don't have a voice, how do you find it? And how do you use it?"

Director Stacy Stoltz adds, “This play settles some of my very unsettled feelings about being a woman in our country right now - what would it be like if I didn't have to censor myself or smile and stay calm when I'm feeling the opposite. It kind of scratches an infuriating itch. It's a rare thing for a group of women to be given so much time and space to try to connect and grapple with their intimate feelings.”

“We can’t wait for audiences to enjoy this inventive new staging of Fefu and Her Friends,” added Season of Concern Managing Director Michael Ryczek. “A virtual revival of Fornés’ most famous feminist masterpiece seems more than relevant at this particular moment in history. Moreover, ticket sales will be turned right back into direct financial aid for members of Chicago’s theater community who cannot work due to illness, injury or circumstance. As Chicago’s stages remain shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these funds are particularly critical for Chicago artists in need.”

Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust is the generous sponsor of this event, along with The Actors Fund and Jay Kelly PR.

Special thanks to Theater Wit and its artistic director, Jeremy Wechsler.

About Season of Concern Chicago:

The short-term emergency fund for Chicago’s theater community

 Season of Concern is the short-term emergency fund for Chicago’s theater community. Since 1987, it has provided direct, short-term emergency financial assistance to Chicago-area actors, directors, designers, technicians, playwrights—anyone working in the theater—who have found themselves temporarily unable to work due to injury, illness or circumstance.

Season of Concern supports both members of Actors’ Equity Association, as well as Non-Equity theater makers. If your name appears in a local theater program, you’re eligible to apply for short-term financial assistance. Season of Concern also provides sustaining support to the Chicago office of The Actors Fund, the national human services organization for entertainment and performing arts professionals in theater, film, music, opera, television and dance with a broad spectrum of social, health, employment and housing programs. Last year alone, Season of Concern Chicago donated more than $100,000 to the Chicago office of The Actors Fund.

Season of Concern was founded more than 30 years ago as the Chicago theater community’s response to the advent of the AIDS crisis and has consistently worked to support those afflicted with AIDS-related illnesses ever since, collecting over $3 million through audience donations. Season of Concern relies on fundraising and donations to complete its mission, including its well-known holiday season fundraising campaign in which Chicago theater artists at participating theaters volunteer to make an appeal and pass a donation bucket through the audience after each show.

Season of Concern continues to provide critical funding to over 25 Chicago-based direct care HIV/AIDS organizations, but has expanded its mission more recently to support the greater health needs of the Chicagoland theater community. Following a two-year strategic planning initiative, Season of Concern’s updated mission statement is to provide financial assistance to those in our community impacted by illness, injury or circumstance. Its vision is to work toward a future where no member of the Chicagoland Theatre community struggles alone.

Earlier this year, Season of Concern launched new branding and an enhanced website – – to bring new attention to this expanded mission. Visit the site’s new Get Help and Apply Now pages to link directly to guidelines for medical assistance.

Season of Concern Chicago, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is led by managing director Michael Ryczek, board president Luther Goins, and a dedicated board of directors: Melissa Carsten, Mike Checuga, Sandra Delgado, Martin (Marty) Grochala, Charls Sedgwick Hall, Mark David Kaplan, Doug MacKechnie, Ken-Matt Martin, Billy Mayer, Bridget McDonough, Marcelle McVay, Rondi Reed, Jane Nicholl Sahlins, Steve Scott, Leslie Shook and Richard Turner.

For more information, visit or call (312) 332-0518. For the latest updates, follow Season of Concern on social media:, or 


María Irene Fornés (playwright) was born on May 14, 1930, in Havana, Cuba, to Carlos Luis and Carmen Hismenia Fornés. After her father died in 1945, she moved with her mother and sister to the United States, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1951. From 1954 to 1957, Fornés lived in Paris, studying to become a painter. However, after attending a French production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Fornés decided to devote her creative energies toward playwriting. Upon returning to the United States, she worked for three years as a textile designer in New York City. The Widow, Fornés' first professionally produced play, was staged in 1961. Fornés acted as the director for many of her subsequent works, including There! You Died (1963; later retitled Tango Place, 1964), The Successful Life of 3: A Skit in Vaudeville (1965), and Molly’s Dream (1968), among others. In 1973 she founded the New York Theatre Strategy, which was devoted to the production of stylistically innovative theatrical works. Fornés has held teaching and advisory positions at several universities and theatrical festivals, such as the Theatre for the New City, the Padua Hills Festival, and the INTAR (International Arts Relations) program in New York City. She received eight Obie awards — in such categories as distinguished playwriting and direction and best new play — for Promenade (1965), The Successful Life of 3, Fefu and Her Friends, The Danube (1982), Mud, Sarita (1984), The Conduct of Life and Abingdon Square (1987). Fornés received numerous other awards and grants for her oeuvre, including Rockefeller Foundation Grants in 1971 and 1984, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972, National Endowments for the Arts grants in 1974, 1984, and 1985, an American Academy and Institute of Letters and Arts Award in Literature in 1986, and a Playwrights U.S.A. Award in 1986. She also produced several original translations and adaptations of such plays as Federico Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding (1980), Pedro Calderón de la Barca's Life is a Dream (1981), Virgilio Piñera's Cold Air (1985), and Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (1987). She died in New York City on October 30, 2018.

Charin Alvarez (Christina) performed in I am Not Your Perfect Mexican daughter; La Ruta; Infidel; Ordinary Yearning; Fermi at Steppenwolf Theatre. Lettie; Mojada; Oedipus El Rey; Anna in the Tropics; A Park in the House at Victory Gardens Theater. Pedro Paramo; El Nogalar; Dollhouse and Electricidad at Goodman Theatre.  In the time of the Butterflies; Our Lady of the Underpass; I put the fear of Mexico in 'em; Dreamlandia; Another Part of the House at Teatro Vista. Alvarez has also appeared at Chicago Dramatist Theatre; Remy Bumppo Theatre; About Face Theatre; 16th Street Theatre; Chicago Children's Theatre and others. Film/TV credits include: Easy; Shameless; Chicago Fire; Mob Doctor; Boss; Chicago Code; Approach Alone; Rooftop Wars; Arc of a Bird; Were the World Mine and others.

Sandra Delgado (Cecelia) is a Colombian-American writer and actor best known for her smash hit play La Havana Madrid, featured in the New York Times and CNN/CNÑ. Also a respected veteran of the stage, her acting highlights include work at Steppenwolf and The Goodman Theatre in Chicago and The Public Theatre in New York. She is a member of Collaboraction and Teatro Vista and is one of the twenty iconic women of Chicago arts and culture honored in Kerry James Marshall's mural Rushmore on the facade of the Chicago Cultural Center. She is currently writing The Boys and the Nuns, centering on the fight for LGBTQ and women's rights in 1980s Chicago.

Mary Beth Fisher (Co-Producer) has worked as an actor, director, acting teacher and coach in Chicago, NYC, and in theaters all over the country. Her TV/film credits include Saint Frances, Sense8, Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice, Without a Trace, Numb3rs; Prison Break, NYPD Blue; Profiler and others. Fisher has received two Joseph Jefferson Awards, Drama Desk, Lucile Lortel and Bay Area Critics Circle nominations, the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award and Chicago’s Leading Lady Award from the Sarah Siddons Society. She was a Beinecke Fellow at Yale University and an Inaugural Lunt-Fontanne Fellow at the Ten Chimney’s Foundation. She has been a proud member of AEA since 1978.

Anne García-Romero (Dramaturg) is the author of plays including Lorca in New York, Staging the Daffy Dame, Provenance, Paloma, Mary Domingo, Juanita’s Statue, Earthquake Chica and Santa Concepción. Her plays have been developed and produced most notably at the Public Theatre, Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Goodman Theatre, Denver Center Theater, and South Coast Repertory. Her book, “The Fornés Frame: Contemporary Latina Playwrights and the Legacy of Maria Irene Fornés” (University of Arizona, 2016), explores the work of six award-winning Latina playwrights. She’s a founding member of the Fornés Institute and an Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Notre Dame.

Ora Jones (Fefu) is a member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble. At Steppenwolf: The Children; Familiar; The Roommate; The Doppleganger; Wheel; Middletown; The Brother/Sister Plays; Three Sisters; The Unmentionables; The Violet Hour; Carter’s Way; and Morning Star. Locally she has also appeared on the stages of Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Goodman Theatre; Rivendell Theatre; Timeline Theatre; Writers Theatre; About Face Theatre and others. Her Broadway roles include Madame de Volanges in Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Booth, and Mrs. Phelps in Matilda the Musical, both at the Shubert and in the first national tour. Regional and other New York credits include performances at Long Wharf Theatre, Yale Repertory, Manhattan Theatre Club, Public Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory, Next Act, and a particular favorite, the role of Mrs. Muller in Doubt for The Weston Playhouse in Weston, VT, directed by Malcolm Ewen.

Delia Kropp (Cindy) has enjoyed storytelling at LGBT events, and for Fresh Meat. She's worked over 40 years as a actor and stage director, and since gender transitioning she's been an advocate for trans people in the entertainment industry. Delia serves as Artistic Associate and Board Member of About Face Theatre Company, and her new initiative "Brave Conversations" looks at the significance of personal identity, and ways to constructively talk about gender. She stars in the film Landlocked, debuting on the Indy festival circuit in 2021.

Sadieh Rifai (Emma) is an ensemble member at A Red Orchid Theatre. At A Red Orchid: Do You Feel Anger; An Evening at The Talk House; and Grey House. Her credits include, Short Shakes Macbeth, the world premiere of The Humans (Jeff Award nomination for Best Ensemble) at American Theatre Company. Other Chicago credits include Support Group for Men and A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre. Film credits include The Wise Kids, Nate and Margaret and Olympia. TV credits include Chicago Med, Netflix’s Easy, CBS’s The Red Line and Amazon's Patriot in which she plays the recurring role of Mahtma El-Mashad. Sadieh is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf and received the Princess Grace Award in 2011.

Stacy Stoltz (Director) is so happy for this opportunity to share her favorite play and to help raise funds for Season of Concern. Last fall, she directed a reading of Fefu and her Friends for The Fornes Festival at The University of Notre Dame. With Erasing The Distance, she has created, directed and performed documentary plays including her solo show, Walk a Mile. Acting credits include: Hatfield and McCoy (The House Theatre), Stupid Fucking Bird (Sideshow Theatre), Marjorie Prime and A Streetcar Named Desire (Writers Theatre).

Lisa Tejero (Julia) most recently opened then was furloughed in an all-female production of Henry the 6th titled Bring down the House at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, where she last performed in White Snake. Other credits include The Agitators at Upstream Theatre, Metamorphoses in the Broadway production at Circle in the Square Theatre, and Anything Goes at Arena State. She is an artistic associate of Lookingglass Theatre where she has appeared in 1984, Argonautika, Curiosity Shop, Ethan Frome, Fedra, and S/M. She has also appeared on the stages of Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Iowa Repertory Theatre, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Court Theatre, Victory Gardens and many others. Tejero is a recipient of two After Dark Awards, a Drama League Distinguished Performance nomination and a Jeff award nomination for her portrayal of Vivian Bearing in The Hypocrite’s production of Wit.

Janet Ulrich Brooks (Sue) has performed at Chicago’s TimeLine Theatre (Company Member), Goodman, Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Victory Gardens, Northtlight, Drury Lane, Theatre at the Center and others. She received the Joseph Jefferson award for principal role as Maria Callas in TimeLine’s production of Master Class. Television: Fargo S4 (FX), Sense8 (Netflix), Proven Innocent (FoxTV), Boss (STARZ) & NBC’s Playboy Club & Chicago Fire/Med/Justice. Film: Divergent, Conviction, M.O.M., One Small Hitch, Fools, Polish Bar, Market Value and several shorts.

Penelope Walker (Paula) performed in A Christmas Carol, The Story, Crowns and Wit at Goodman Theatre, Don DeLillo's Love Lies Bleeding at Steppenwolf Theatre and at The Kennedy Center, Mother Of The Maid, Into The Breeches, Curve Of Departure, Eclipsed and Gee's Bend at Northlight Theatre, and The House That Will Not Stand and No One As Nasty at Victory Gardens Theatre. Walker has also appeared on many other Chicago area stages including Lookingglass Theatre, Theater Wit, Remy Bumppo Theatre, American Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Next Theatre, Rivendell Theatre and Chicago Theatre Company, among others. Walker also created and starred in her own solo piece, How I Jack Master Funked the Sugar in My Knee Caps! She has appeared regionally with Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, Hartford Stage and Alley Theatre.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

HELP OUT: CLLAW XXXIV: Good vs. Evil Saturday, November 2, 2019 Benefiting Sideshow Theatre Company & Girls Rock! Chicago

The Chicago League of Lady Arms Wrestlers Presents
CLLAW XXXIV: Good vs. Evil
Saturday, November 2, 2019 at Logan Square Auditorium

(left to right) Shredy Lamar vs. Cousin Becky at the Chicago League of Lady Arms Wrestlers’ CLLAW XXXIII match at Logan Square Auditorium. All Photos by Trainman Photography.

Benefiting Sideshow Theatre Company & Girls Rock! Chicago

The Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLLAW) returns  this fall with its 34th match CLLAW XXXIV: Good vs. Evil on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Ave. in Chicago. CLLAW’s benefit match will feature Chicago’s biggest, baddest lady arm wrestlers, live musical entertainment from indie rock band Roxy Swain and a cash bar. Doors open at 9 pm with the first match beginning at 9:30 pm. Tickets, priced at $25, are available in advance at or at the door (the ladies will gladly take cash or credit at the door). The event is 21+.

All proceeds from CLLAW XXXIV will benefit Sideshow Theatre Company and Girls Rock! Chicago.

(left to right) Sun Rae vs. Liberaunchy 

(left to right) Cousin Becky vs. The Barbarian Librarian 

The Main Event 
Freddie Mercury Poisoning, Sir Elton Brawn, Aunt Nance… and the reigning champion The Barbarian Librarian. Their names echo through the ages. They come from all corners of Chicago, united only by one dream: to elbow their way through the competition and wrestle their way to the top. Joined by CLLAW’s Mistress of Ceremonialisms Harry Scaray, referees Beau K and Dick Douchee and commentator Vallery Dolls, the line-up of not-so-lady-like ladies in outrageous costumes volunteer their time to vie for that most cherished prize – the bedazzled CLLAW gloves. Who will leverage their way up the bracket? Or bribe their way to the top? All these questions and more will be answered, and all of Chicago is invited to bear witness.

(left to right) Nitty Gritty vs. Stone Cold Jane Austen 

CLLAWdience Participation and Prizes 

Not content to leave the fun in the arms of its competitors, CLLAW XXXIV gets everyone in on the action. Audience members have the opportunity to purchase CLLAWBUX, the official currency of CLLAW, throughout the night. With their CLLAWBUX, onlookers can bet on their favorite wrestlers to prevail, and maybe slip a few to the referees to even the score. All CLLAWBUX purchased also go towards fantastic raffle prizes. Half-priced CLLAWBUX are available in advance.

All for a good CLLAWSE

A portion of CLLAW XXXIV proceeds will benefit Girls Rock! Chicago, committed to building socially just community with girls, transgender youth, and gender non-conforming youth by developing leadership, fostering self-esteem, and encouraging creative expression through music. For additional information, visit

Proceeds also benefit CLLAW’s creator and producer, Sideshow Theatre Company. Since its first match in 2009, Sideshow’s CLLAW events have helped fundraise for numerous Chicago based non-profits including the GirlForward, Chicago Women's Health Center, {she crew}, The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE), Barrel of Monkeys, C4 - Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, Girls Rock! Chicago, Marwen, Rock for Kids, About Face Youth Theatre, 826CHI, CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education), Ayodele Drum and Dance, The Chicago Human Rhythm Project and others.

(left to right) The Barbarian Librarian vs. Mother Earth


Title: CLLAW XXXIV: Good vs. Evil 
Date: Saturday, November 2, 2019
Time: Doors open at 9 pm, first match begins at 9:30 pm   
Location: Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago                     

Tickets: $25 in advance at or at the door (cash or credit). Half-priced CLLAWBUX are available with advance ticket purchase: $30 includes 10 CLLAWBUX, $35 includes 20 CLLAWBUX. Cash and credit cards are accepted for tickets, CLLAWBUX and CLLAW merchandise. A cash-only bar is available.

(left to right) Sun Rae vs. The Barbarian Librarian 

Benefiting: Sideshow Theatre Company and 
Girls Rock! Chicago.

About Chicago CLLAW and CLAW USA
CLLAW is a member of CLAW USA, the national Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers. It is the mission of CLAW USA to empower women and strengthen local communities through theatre, arm wrestling, and philanthropy. CLLAW includes a compendium of female-identified participants and seeks to create a safe space for all participants and audience. We seek to mirror the diversity of our greater society and welcome participation from people of diverse identities by age, race, class, ability and gender definition.

About Sideshow Theatre Company:
Sideshow Theatre Company: Theatre for the Curious. It is the mission of Sideshow Theatre Company to mine the collective unconscious of the world we live in with limitless curiosity, drawing inspiration from the familiar stories, memories and images we all share to spark new conversation and bring our audiences together as adventurers in a communal experience of exploration.

Over its 10+ year history, Sideshow is proud to have distinguished itself as a vital member of the Chicago theatre community. Sideshow was awarded the 2016 Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theatre Award by the League of Chicago Theatres. Sideshow is a multiple Jeff Award-winning theatre and has been listed on the “Best of” lists in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by Time Out Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times. Sideshow continues its multi-year residency at Victory Gardens in the historic Biograph Theater in the 2019/20 season.

Sideshow is also the producer of Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLLAW), a wildly popular fundraiser held in benefit of Sideshow Theatre Company and other local community organizations. CLLAW has been featured in local and national press, including The Washington Post, Reuters and the Chicago Sun-Times and on WGN Morning News, ABC 7’s Windy City Live and CBS 2. For more information about CLLAW, visit

(left to right) Nitty Gritty vs. Stone Cold Jane Austen vs. at the Chicago League of Lady Arms Wrestlers’ CLLAW XXXIII match at Logan Square Auditorium. Photo by Trainman Photography.

For additional information on Sideshow Theatre Company, visit

Monday, October 7, 2019

HELP OUT: Raven Theatre Presents THE BENGSONS: A Benefit Concert Wednesday, October 16, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar:
One Night Only!
Raven Theatre Presents
THE BENGSONS: A Benefit Concert
Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Raven Theatre is pleased to present THE BENGSONS: A Benefit Concert on Wednesday, October 16 at 6:30 pm on Raven’s 85-seat East Stage, 6157 N. Clark St. (at Granville) in Chicago. Enjoy an evening of music with the award-winning folk duo who composed the music for Raven’s season opener SUNDOWN, YELLOW MOON (playing October 3 – November 17, 2019). The one-night-only event includes drinks, a buffet dinner and dessert.

Tickets ($125) are currently available at or by calling (773) 338-2177. All proceeds benefit Raven’s mainstage plays and education program.

The Bengsons, married duo Shaun & Abigail Bengson, are composers and performers who have appeared at such venues as Joe’s Pub (NYC), MASS MoCA (North Adams, MA) and the Market Theater (Johannesburg, South Africa). Their music has been featured on “So You Think You Can Dance” (FOX), and in Hundred Days (La Jolla Playhouse, New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater, Know Theater, Z Space, US Tour), The Lucky Ones (Ars Nova), Sundown, Yellow Moon (Ars Nova/WP), Anything That Gives Off Light (Edinburgh Theatre Festival, US Tour), Hurricane Diane (New York Theatre Workshop, Two River Theatre), You’ll Still Call Me By Name (New York Live Arts, Jacob's Pillow), The Place We Built (The Flea) and Iphigenia in Aulis (Classic Stage Company). They have been nominated for the Drama Desk, Drama League and Lucile Lortel awards. Abigail Nessen Bengson has toured as a member of tUnE-yArDs, including an appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” 

About Raven Theatre
Raven Theatre tells stories of today and the past that connect us to our cultural landscape. Through its plays as well as its educational programming, Raven is committed to serving our communities’ needs through the arts.

Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by the The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, Polk Bros Foundation, S&C Electric Company Fund, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019



Lucky Plush Productions present​ Rooming House​ alongside P​lucky Lush​ benefit bash at Venue West Chicago. ​Rooming House ​is to be presented one night only on May 23rd at 7:00pm. 

Rooming House​ is co-created by founder and artistic director Julia Rhoads and collaborating director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (formerly of 500 Clown). ​Rooming House​ premiered in 2017 at the Steppenwolf 1700 Theatre to 12 sold out shows. Lucky Plush returns from a spring tour across the East Coast–including shows at the ​Kennedy Center ​in Washington D.C.–for this final presentation of Rooming House on our home turf. We could not be more thrilled to hold this year's Plucky Lush bash at​ Venue West​, a chic industrial space in Chicago's West Town neighborhood, with heavy apps provided by J&L Catering, beer provided by Revolution Brewing and Lagunitas, wine and alcohol. Drinks at the Plucky Lush fundraising bash will be bottomless and there will be a variety of fun activities and games.

Rooming House​ begins with an intimate conversation among friends, slipping easily between Spanish and English, as they recall stories of people who’ve taken actions with potentially devastating costs. When the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is mentioned, varied interpretations propel the group into a physically and psychologically complex game of whodunit, taking them down a rabbit hole into the lives of everyday people who do extraordinary things—from life endangering rescues, to defecting from Cuba, to letting go of someone you love. Playful and personal, the work synthesizes contemporary dance and theater to create a dynamic blueprint for exploring the question: what makes a person do something that could have life-changing consequences?

In ​Rooming House​, the myth and game structure offer familiar anchors that allow the audience to form expectations, which then can be broken as performers follow their idiosyncratic preoccupations and wrestle with the conditions of the performance – often being a source of comedy and delight for the audience.
“Lucky Plush Productions deeply values creating a welcoming relationship between stage and audience, delivering relatable content without compromising complexity. Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre is an ideal venue to create this intimate relationship, and we are incredibly excited to being one of the first dance events on its intimate stage as part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut series,” said Lucky Plush Artistic Director and Rooming House​ co-creator Julia Rhoads.

“Lucky Plush also values laughter and finds that it functions as an important release, a non-precious way to tackle difficult issues and a generator of excellent energy between performers and audience,” added Rhoads’s frequent collaborator Leslie Buxbaum Danzig.

TIckets for just the performance of Rooming House are $15-$40. Student tickets are $15. Industry tickets are $25. Seniors 62+ are $30. Regular performances are $40. Tickets to attend both the ​Plucky Lush benefit bash and ​Rooming House a​ re $100. For ticket information, please visit​.

Venue West Chicago, 221 N. Paulina St, Chicago, IL 60612, is a chic, modern, industrial space located in the heart of the west town neighborhood of Chicago. Venue West boasts over 12,000 square feet of entertainment space with a state-of-the-art on-site kitchen provided by J&L Catering. Beyond catering, J&L supports many parts of the Chicago community. From education, homeless support, recycling, food donations, theater groups and the LGBT community among others, J&L Catering is proud to take part in the experiences of local groups and organizations that help Chicago thrive as a city.

Rooming House​ features Lucky Plush ensemble members Kara Brody, Michel Rodriguez Cintra, Elizabeth Luse, Rodolfo Sánchez Sarracino, A. Raheim. White and Meghann Wilkinson. ​Original music is by Michael Caskey. Lighting design by Alexander Ridgers. Stage management by Rachel Damon.

About the Creators
Julia Rhoads​ is the founding artistic director of Lucky Plush Productions. She has created more than 25 original works with Lucky Plush, several of which have toured extensively throughout the U.S. Additional directing and choreography credits include projects with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Lookingglass Theatre, Walkabout Theater, River North Dance Chicago, and Redmoon, among others. Rhoads is the recipient of an Alpert Award in Dance and fellowships/awards from Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Cliff Dwellers Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, and the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, and she received a Fractured Atlas Arts Entrepreneurship Award for spearheading Creative Partners, an innovative nonprofit financial model. Rhoads is a former member of San Francisco Ballet and ensemble member of XSIGHT! Performance Group. She received her BA in History from Northwestern University, her MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and she has taught in the dance and theater programs of several Chicago-area colleges and universities. She is currently Director of Dance and Lecturer at University of Chicago’s Department of Theater and Performance Studies.

Leslie Buxbaum Danzig ​is a collaborating director with Julia Rhoads/Lucky Plush Productions where she co-created​ The Better Half​,​The Queue ​and Rooming House,​and is currently collaborating on​ Rink Life​.For over a decade, Leslie was co-founder and resident director of the Chicago-based physical theater company 500 Clown, whose shows performed in Chicago and throughout the US. Other directing credits include Third Coast Percussion’s ​Paddle to the Sea​ and ​Wild Sound​, composed by Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, with performances at MCA Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), National Forum of Music (Wroclaw)

Lucky Plush presents ​Rooming House​ May 23, 2019 and De Doelen (Rotterdam), and a number of productions in Chicago at The Actors Gymnasium, House Theatre, Redmoon, Chicago Children’s Theater, About Face Theater, and in New York, at New Victory Theater and PS 122, among others. Prior to turning to directing, Leslie toured nationally and internationally as an actor with NYC’s Elevator Repair Service. Leslie is Assistant Professor of Practice in Theater and Performance Studies, University of Chicago. She is currently developing a circus-puppet-theater adaptation of the myth of Atalanta with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

About Lucky Plush Productions
Now entering its 19th season, Lucky Plush Productions (​​) is a Chicago-based dance theater company led by founder and artistic director Julia Rhoads. Lucky Plush is committed to provoking and supporting an immediacy of presence – a palpable liveness – shared by performers in real-time with audiences. A unique hybrid of high-level dance and theater, Lucky Plush’s work is well-known for carefully crafting dramatic and rhythmic arcs, pushing its artists to move beyond the predictable by earning the exciting slippage between – and surprising coherence of – pedestrian action, realistic dialogue, abstract choreography and humor. Though rigorously composed, much of the company’s work feels like it is generated spontaneously.

Since 2000, Lucky Plush has created 30+ original dance-theater works. In addition to regularly performing in the Chicago area, the company has presented work in 50+ US cities from Maine to Hawaii, and its international partners span from New Zealand to Cuba. Commissioning and development partners include the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Krannert Center at University of Illinois, The Yard (MA), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), Door Kinetic Arts Festival (WI), and Links Hall Chicago. Presenting partners include the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (MA), Joyce Theater (NYC), ODC (CA), TITAS (TX), Spoleto Festival/USA (SC), NC State LIVE (NC), Portland Ovations (ME), and Skirball Center (NYC), among others, and the company will have its debut performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this season.
Lucky Plush Productions is the first and only dance company to receive the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, a recognition of the company’s exceptional creativity and impact. Other awards include creation, residency, and touring awards from National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, and National Performance Network; exchange awards from the MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund; a presentation award from MetLife Foundation; and an achievement award from the Lester and Hope Abelson Fund for the Performing Arts at The Chicago Community Trust.

Press features include the ​Boston Globe's​ "10 Best Dance Performances of 2013," ​Chicago Public Radio's "Best of 2011"; the ​Chicago Reader's​ "Best of Chicago 2010"; ​Time Out Chicago's​ "The Decade's 10 Best Original Dance Works"; the ​Chicago Tribune's​ "Best of Dance 2008"; ​Chicago Sun Times'​ "Lasting memories in Dance" for 2005 and 2007, and a ​Time Out Chicago​ cover story "5 reasons to love dance in Chicago," among others.

Lucky Plush managing director Kim Goldman ​works in tandem with artistic director Julia Rhoads to carry out the company’s mission. ​The current ensemble includes ​Kara Brody, Michel Rodriguez Cintra, Elizabeth Luse, Jacina Ratcliffe, Rodolfo Sánchez Sarracino, A. Raheim White and Meghann Wilkinson​.

Monday, April 16, 2018

HELP OUT: CHRIS’ 4th Annual BIRTHDAY BELT FEST Is Raising Funds for Howard Brown Health 5/15/18

Help Out:

The 2018 Chris’ Birthday Belt Fest is “CO-ED,” and Features, For the First Time, Male Soloists Joining Chicago’s Top Music Theater Performers 
Raising Funds for Howard Brown Health

Jeff Award-nominee and HIV+ director/producer Christopher Pazdernik is pleased to announce the 4th annual Chris’s Birthday Belt Fest, a benefit concert for Howard Brown Health, Monday, May 14 at 8 p.m. at Uptown Underground, 4707 N. Broadway. Tickets are $30, in advance; $40, at the door on the night of the performance, and are available at or by calling 773.867.1946. Uptown Underground is a 21 years old and older venue and advance reservations are strongly recommended.

Pazdernik’s journey with Howard Brown Health began in 2009, when he was diagnosed HIV+. He has been receiving his treatments at Chicago’s health and wellness center ever since and has even become the Community Advisory board chairperson. In 2015, Pazdernik was looking for a way to give back to Howard Brown Health and raise much needed funds for the organization. As a popular and respected member of Chicago’s theater community, Pazdernik asked his friends - who happen to be many of Chicago’s leading talents – to donate their time and celebrate his birthday singing high-energy songs from musicals with 100% of the ticket proceeds going directly to Howard Brown Health and Chris’ Birthday Belt Fest was born. Since its inception four years ago, Belt Fest has raised more than $5,000 for Howard Brown and each year the concert’s audience and amount raised has increased. 

This year, Aaron Benham returns as music director and pianist for the evening and, for the first time, Belt Fest goes “CO-ED” featuring male soloists joining the “who’s who” of performers including Missy Aguilar (Porchlight Music Theatre’s In The Heights); Stephen Allen, Jr. (Porchlight Music Theatre’s Memphis); Justin Brill (original Broadway cast member of High Fidelity); Aaron Choi (Marriott Lincolnshire’s Honeymoon in Vegas); Nathan Cooper (Paramount Theatre’s Sweeney Todd); Max DeTogne (Jeff Award-nominee, Refuge Theatre Project’s High Fidelity); Nick Dryzbanski (Jeff Award-nominee, Refuge Theatre Project’s High Fidelity); Billy Dwyer (Pride Films & Play’s Yank!); Amanda Falls (Wisconsin actor and director and Pazdernik’s childhood friend); Nicole Michelle Haskins (Refuge Theatre Project’s The Spitfire Grill); Angela Ingersoll (Jeff Award, Porchlight Music Theatre’s End of the Rainbow); Callie Johnson (Jeff Award, Porchlight Music Theatre’s Pal Joey); Molly Kral (Boho Theatre’s Urinetown); Ryan Lanning (Haven’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch);  Michelle Lauto (Jeff Award, Chicago cast Spamilton); Eric Lewis (Jeff Award, Porchlight Music Theatre’s Dreamgirls); Yando Lopez (Jeff Award-nominee, Chicago cast Spamilton); Donica Lynn (Jeff Award, Porchlight Music Theatre’s Dreamgirls); Adam Michaels (Paramount Theatre’s Rent); Lauren Paris (Refuge Theatre Project’s The Spitfire Grill); Samantha Pauly (Marriott Lincolnshire’s Honeymoon in Vegas);  Laura Savage (Jeff Award-nominee, BoHo Theatre’s The Spitfire Grill); Andrew Sickel (Kokandy Production’s Heathers) with additional performers to be announced. 

About Howard Brown Health
Founded in 1974, Howard Brown Health is one of the nation's largest health care and research organizations, primarily serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) community and its allies. It is the largest such organization in the Midwest and serves adults youth and children throughout the region. An innovative and patient-centered health home, Howard Brown provides primary medical care, behavioral health services, and specialty chronic and infectious disease services, and conducts nationally renowned clinical and behavioral research.

About Christopher Pazdernik
Christopher Pazdernik is a director/choreographer with "a near encyclopedic knowledge of musicals" (Newcity). He is best known for the critically acclaimed production of High Fidelity (Jeff Awards for Best Director and Best Production of a Musical) at Refuge Theatre Project, where he also serves as artistic director. Recent credits include Carrie (Ohio Northern University), Wicked City (Chicago Theatre Workshop), Planted (Chicago Musical Theatre Festival), Make Me a Song (Eclectic Theatre Co.) and Story of A Story (The Untold Story) (Underscore Theater Co.). He is also a frequent cabaret director and curator including Broadway's Cult Classics at Davenport's Piano Bar and the His & His series at Pride Films & Plays.  At Porchlight Music Theatre, Pazdernik is a proud artistic associate, and serves as company manager and casting associate and has directed, choreographed and assistant directed many productions. An openly HIV+ artist, Pazdernik was a 2016 Windy City Times 30-Under-30 honoree for his contributions to Chicago's LGBTQ community and he currently serves on the Ambassador Committee for the AIDS Run/Walk Chicago and as chairperson on the Community Advisory Board for Howard Brown Health, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ organizations.

Photo by Matt Percy

Thursday, November 16, 2017

HELP OUT: Gift Gala 2017 REVOLUTIONS Friday, December 1, 2017 at The Copernicus Center

The Gift Theatre is pleased to present its 16th annual benefit, GIFT GALA 2017: REVOLUTIONS on Friday, December 1, 2017 from 6 pm – 10 pm at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. in Chicago. 

Since 2001 and over 70 productions, The Gift Theatre has pioneered the frontiers of the American theatre via the most intimate professional theatre in the country, leading to national acclaim and a cultural revolution on Chicago’s northwest side. Join The Gift family for this celebratory evening at the Copernicus Center, named after the astronomer whose theory about revolutions changed everything. Tickets for GIFT GALA 2017: REVOLUTIONS are currently available at

The elegant evening will feature hors d'oeuvres, irresistible auction items and delectable desserts. Entertainment will include live jazz and classical music, a DJ and dancing and a short performance charting The Gift’s evolving place in the cosmos from Copernicus to NASA, SpaceX and beyond. The evening also includes the presentation of the Sheldon Patinkin Total Gift Award, which recognizes a key supporter and friend of The Gift. The theatre is pleased to announce Greg and Anne Taubeneck will be the recipients of this year's award.

This Gala Co-Chairs include Michelle Boone, Chief Program and Civic Engagement Officer at Navy Pier Inc. and Chicago’s First Lady Amy Rule.

The Gala Committee incldues Lori Dimun, Laura Gale, George Karzas, Sharon Martwick, Rita Thornton and Shannon Wallace 


Date/Time: Friday, December 1, 2017 from 6 pm – 10 pm
Location: Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago
Details: Coctkails, hors d'oeuvres and dessert, auction items, live music, a DJ and dancing and a performance. Festive attire encouraged.
Tickets: Individual $150; Table $1500; VIP Table $3000. Tickets are currently available at

Gala food donors include: Gale Street Inn, Community Tavern, Pasta D'arte and Cafe Marbella.

About The Gift Theatre
The Gift’s 17th season consists of Stacy Amma Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by ensemble member Erica Weiss (February 9 – April 8, 2018); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1 – July 29, 2018); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton (October 12 –December 9, 2018). The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at or by calling (773) 283-7071. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

HELP OUT: CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY LIVE To Benefit Hope Not Hate at Greenhouse Theater Center 9/29/17

One Night Only!
Returns To Greenhouse Theater Center
Friday, September 29 at 10 pm

CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY LIVE at Greenhouse Theater Center. Photos by Stephen Voss.

Following three sell-out performances this year, CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY LIVE returns once again for one night only on Friday, September 29, 2017 at 10 pm at The Greenhouse Theater Center (Downstairs Mainstage), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago.  

The irreverent night of improv comedy is inspired by the popular and politically incorrect party game “Cards Against Humanity.” After audience members pitch their ideas, the best suggestions are acted out by the Cards Against Humanity writers and a team of improvisers. The worst suggestions will be mercilessly ridiculed. Recommended for ages 18+.

Tickets, priced at $10 are currently available at, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336. All proceeds will benefit the anti-racist watchdog group Hope Not Hate. The group recently made national headlines after revealing one of its members went undercover in the alt-right movement for over a year. For additional information, visit

About the Greenhouse Theater Center
The Greenhouse Theater Center is a producing theater company, performance venue and theatre bookstore located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Our mission is first and foremost to grow local theatre.

The Greenhouse Theater began its producing life in 2014 with the smash hit Churchill, after which came 2016’s much-lauded Solo Celebration!, an 8 month, 16 event series highlighting the breadth and depth of the solo play form. This year, the Greenhouse announced a full subscription season, with a mix of multi-character and solo plays. With a focus on our community, the Greenhouse is also launching the Trellis playwriting residency, an initiative designed to cultivate the next generation of Chicago theatre creators and a two-tiered education program for college and high school students.

As a performance venue, our complex offers two newly remodeled 190-seat main stage spaces, two 60-seat studio theaters, two high-capacity lobbies, and an in-house rehearsal room. We strive to cultivate a fertile environment for local artists, from individual renters to our bevy of resident companies, and to develop and produce their work. In 2016, the Greenhouse announced a new residency program, which offers a reduced rate to local storefront companies while giving the Greenhouse a stake in the resident’s success. We house Chicago’s only dedicated used theatre bookstore, located on the second floor of our complex. 

With new ideas always incubating, the Greenhouse is flourishing. Come grow with us!

Saturday, July 29, 2017



The Annual Benefit Concert, this Year Devised and Directed by Artistic Director Michael Weber and Keely Vasquez with Music Director David Fiorello, Features Top Theatre Talents from Sinatra’s ‘Kind of Town” Performing the Hits of Ol’ Blue Eyes and the Rat Pack

Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to announce the 12th Annual Chicago Sings concert; Chicago Sings: Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Monday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m., at Second City’s UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave, devised and directed by Artistic Director Michael Weber and Keely Vasquez and music directed by David Fiorello. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the annual benefit concert that includes performances, a paddle raiser and table side food and drink service at an additional charge. 

Chicago Sings: Sinatra and the Rat Pack from Porchlight Music Theatre on Vimeo.

General admission tickets are $75 and are on sale now at or by calling 773.777.9884. Sales from this one-night-only performance benefit Porchlight Music Theatre’s youth education programming.

Luck is your lady at Chicago Sings, a one-night-only fund raising celebration kicking off Porchlight’s 2017 – 2018 season. For more than ten years, Chicago Sings honors artists and organizations that have made music that changed the world and this year’s Chicago Sings Sinatra and the Rat Pack pays homage to the coolest guys and gals from Broadway to Hollywood to the nightclub stages of Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack. The venue also has ties to the Rat Pack, as UP Comedy Club houses Sinatra’s original Booth Number One from the historic Pump Room where a few lucky Chicago Sings guests may enjoy the performance with the first round of drinks included (see inset below.)  The iconic booth was the place to be seen and to watch the crowds at the legendary nightclub for more than five decades. Diners of Booth One included Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joan Crawford, Audrey Hepburn, Liza Minnelli, John Belushi, Mick Jagger and, many more, most notably, “The Chairman of the Board,” himself. 

Audiences will have the world on a string and fly to the moon at the jazziest swingest party in this toddlin’ town. The music of Frank, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., is reimagined for one night only in Sinatra’s “kind of town” at Chicago Sings Sinatra and the Rat Pack. 

More than a dozen leading Chicago talents perform new and traditional versions of the Rat Pack’s hits, performers currently include Stephen Allen, Lucy Godinez, Mark David Kaplan, Heidi Kettenring, Eric Lewis, Rob Lindley, Yando Lopez, Christine Mild, Hollis Resnik, Peggy Roeder and Stephen Schellhardt with others to be announced.*

Chicago Sings guests when purchasing tickets at may additionally order raffle tickets for $25 per ticket to win a chance for them, and up to five friends, to sit in the world famous BOOTH ONE for Chicago Sings: Sinatra and the Rat Pack with the first round of drinks picked up by Porchlight Music Theatre! Seating limited to six people, all of whom must have purchased general admission tickets to the event.

Porchlight will announce the winner on its page via Facebook LIVE Monday, Aug, 28 at 11 a.m. -

*Songs performed and artists may change without notice.

Porchlight Music Theatre, now in its 23rd season, is nationally recognized for developing innovative new works, reimagining classic productions and showcasing musical theatre’s noted veterans and rising stars. Porchlight elevates the genre in Chicago by providing intimate and powerful theatrical experiences for its growing and diverse audiences. With the vision of Artistic Director Michael Weber, Porchlight builds on its role as Chicago’s only Equity not-for-profit company exclusively specializing in music theatre. Porchlight’s rich history includes the staging of more than 60 productions with 15 Chicago premieres and five world premieres. Through Porchlight’s “Off the Porch” new works program, the musicals of the next generation are developed and given a first audience. The School at Porchlight is Chicago’s center for music theatre training in the areas of performance, writing and appreciation for adults and youth. The company’s many accolades include 17 Black Theatre Alliance nominations and three awards, as well as a total of 126 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 39 Jeff Awards including four consecutive Best Production awards for Dreamgirls (2016), Sondheim on Sondheim (2015), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2014) and A Class Act (2013).

Porchlight Music Theatre is partially supported by generous contributions from the Actors’ Equity Foundation, the Arts Work Fund at the Chicago Community Trust, the Bloomberg Philanthropies, Chapman | Spingola, Attorneys at Law, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, , the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, James P. and Brenda S. Grusecki Family Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Prince Foundation, The Saints, Service Club of Chicago, and the Topfer Family Foundation. The season program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency and by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

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