Showing posts with label holiday favorites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday favorites. Show all posts

Sunday, November 26, 2017

REVIEW: Acclaimed It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Now in 16th Year at American Blues Theater

American Blues Theater Presents
16th Annual Production of
It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!
From Frank Capra’s film
Directed by Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside

Through January 6, 2018 

Photo credit for all: Michael Brosilow

**Holiday Events: Children 12 & under receive keepsakes on December 16 (Hanukkah) and December 24 (Santa visits)**

Guest Post by Lori Morrison-Contreras

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite Christmas movies. It was one of my Grandma’s too and I have so many wonderful memories of watching it with her that it now has much deeper meaning for me. The live radio version of It’s a Wonderful Life by American Blues Theater is a wonderful old fashioned treat to kick off the holiday season! The stage was gorgeously set, in deep red with lots of light and many, fully decorated Christmas trees. As you walk in, the actors are singing your favorite classic holiday songs. 

It is definitely the full 40’s small town Beford Falls experience with the actors greeting everyone as they walk in and passing out cookies and milk as you leave. They even kept the commercials and all references within the theme of old time 40’s language and charm.

As it is a radio play, there is no physical action on stage. Yet, you are able to see each actor change the tone and expression of their voice to truly become so many different characters that it keeps audience members of all ages engaged and entertained. My son and I loved being able to see the sound booth and how ordinary items like glasses and crinkled paper are used to do all the sound effects and add so much to the telling of the story.

In these times of huge special effects, it is a welcome change to go back to a more minimalist, basic approach with this classic. Some of my favorite, more visual scenes (like falling into the pool during the dance contest) are left out of the radio telling, but all the classic elements of George Bailey’s life are there and at the end you will still have a tear in your eye as Clarence earns his wings and George realized that he truly is the richest man in town.

About the Show:
American Blues Theater continues its 2017-2018 Season with its 16th Annual Production of It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! from Frank Capra’s film and directed by Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside with musical direction by Ensemble Member Michael Mahler. It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! runs through January 6, 2018 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago.

Wednesdays:  7:30pm
Thursdays:  7:30pm
Fridays:  7:30pm
Saturdays:  4:30pm & 7:30pm
Sundays:  2:30pm

Additional performances on November 29 at 2:30pm; December 20 at 2:30pm; and January 2 at 4:30pm and 7:30pm

No performances on December 13 at 7:30pm; December 25 (Christmas Day); or January 6 at 7:30pm

Arrive 10 min early for prizes and audiograms

Ticket prices: $19 - $49

Box Office: Buy online at or by calling 773.327.5252.

For 16 years, the American Blues Ensemble has treated Chicago audiences to a live 1940s radio broadcast of holiday favorite It’s a Wonderful Life. The incredible cast recreates the entire town of Bedford Falls with Foley sound effects, an original score and holiday carols. The Bedford Falls “residents” extend their hospitality after every performance treating audiences to milk and cookies served by the cast.

“This story is a staple of our mission: American Blues Theater explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves,” notes Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside. “This story reminds us of the fragility of life. Frank Capra’s line – “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – resonates throughout the year. During the holidays, it becomes a poignant reminder as we gather with our loved ones.”

The cast of It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! includes Blues artists Dara Cameron (Violet), Ian Paul Custer (Harry), Shawn Goudie (Foley), James Joseph (Uncle Billy), Zach Kenney (George Bailey), Michael Mahler (Announcer), John Mohrlein (Clarence/Mr. Potter), Camille Robinson (Mary Bailey – 12/20-1/6) and Gwendolyn Whiteside (Mary Bailey – 11/16-12/17). 

The creative team includes Austin Cook (score composer), Grant Sabin (scenic), Christopher J. Neville (costumes), Katy Peterson (lighting), Elyse Dolan (properties) and Paul Deziel (projection design). The stage manager is Kathryn Lochert.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! has received Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for Best Midsize Production and Best Ensemble. 

About the Artists
GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE (Director, Mary Bailey Nov. 16 – Dec. 17) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater and has served as Producing Artistic Director since 2010. Under her leadership, American Blues has nearly doubled the size of its Ensemble, added 28 Artistic Affiliates, and diversified its base of artists. She created the nationally-recognized annual Blue Ink Playwriting Award, Blueprint Development for new work, implemented community service into the company’s mission, and adapted the arts education program The Lincoln Project for Chicago Public Schools which serves over 1,500 students annually. She led American Blues through its 2009 rebirth and built the operational budget from zero to $825,000 in six (6) years. Whiteside served numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and sat on the national Board of Directors for Network of Ensemble Theaters. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University (cum laude), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA), and a Kellogg Executive Scholar in Nonprofit management (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University). She was nominated for “Chicagoan of the Year” in Chicago Magazine and twice listed in Newcity’s annual Players list. In six years, six American Blues’ productions won or were nominated for best production by the Joseph Jefferson Award committee. She’s received 11 Joseph Jefferson Awards, Citations, and nominations as an actress and Producing Artistic Director. Her favorite performances include Jeff Award for Solo Performance (Grounded), Jeff Award nomination for Solo Performance (the K of D), Mary’s Wedding (Top 5 performances in Indianapolis), Collected Stories (Best Actress Broadway World Chicago Award), and 6 years as “Mary Bailey” (It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!). She’s the recipient of two (2) After Dark Awards and numerous Broadway World Chicago Awards and nominations.

DARA CAMERON (Violet) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. She so happy to be back with her American Blues family for her fifth It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago. Other favorite credits include Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors (American Blues Theater); Jovie in Elf, October Sky, Sister Act, City of Angels, Hero, The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, Fiddler on the Roof, and Little Women (Marriott Theatre); Old Jews Telling Jokes (Off-Broadway and at the Royal George); Wednesday in The Addams Family (Mercury Theatre); Sunset Boulevard, Seussical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Drury Lane). She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity and a graduate of Northwestern University. As always, she’s delighted to share the stage with her husband, Michael Mahler, and even more delighted that this year they get to share their favorite holiday tradition with their son-to-be, due to arrive in March. 

IAN PAUL CUSTER (Harry) is a proud ensemble member of American Blues Theater.  Recent American Blues credits: The Columnist (David Halberstam, Jeff Nomination for Best Production – Midsize), It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! (Jeff Nomination for Best Ensemble and Best Production – Midsize), Little Shop of Horrors (Orin Skrivello, Jeff Nomination for Best Production of a Musical – Midsize), and Yankee Tavern.  Recent Chicago theatrical credits: Bad Jews (Theatre Wit, North Shore Center, Royal George), 33 Variations (TimeLine Theatre, Jeff Award for Best Production – Midsize), Annie Bosh is Missing (Steppenwolf Theatre), High Holidays (Goodman Theatre), To Master the Art (Broadway Playhouse/TimeLine Theatre), Strangers, Babies (Steep Theatre), and Fiddler on the Roof (Paramount Theatre).  Regional theatrical credits: Hero: The Musical (Asolo Rep Theatre), Cymbeline (Notre Dame Shakespeare), Romeo and Juliet (Cardinal Stage), Peter Pan (360 Entertainment - London, England).  Television credits: APB, Empire, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD.  Love to Shannon, my friends, and my family for all the support.  

SHAWN J. GOUDIE (Foley) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He excited to be returning for his 9th season of It's A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago. It is a joy for him to share the magic of old time radio with so many wonderful folks year after year. He would like to thank his amazing wife, their endlessly curious children and his loving parents.

ZACH KENNEY (George Bailey) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He is thrilled to return as “George”, and to return to It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago for a third time. Previous work with American Blues also includes Waiting for Lefty, directed by Kimberly Senior. Chicago credits include: Hit the Wall (The Inconvenience); Hair (American Theater Company); The March (u/s, Steppenwolf Theatre); Chicago Boys (Goodman Theatre New Stages); The Gospel According to James (Victory Gardens Theater); and The Farnsworth Invention and Not Enough Air (TimeLine Theatre). Regional: The Great Gatsby, Red, Mary’s Wedding (opposite Gwendolyn Whiteside), and Who Am I This Time? (Indiana Rep); A Little Night Music (u/s) and 1776 (A.C.T.); 1776 (Asolo Rep); and An Immaculate Misconception (Eureka Theatre Co.). Television/film: Chicago Fire, LifeSteps…, and Schizo Cool. A San Francisco native, Zach trained at A.C.T.'s Young Conservatory (originating the title role in Horton Foote's The Actor in 2002) before attending The Theatre School at DePaul University. Zach resides in Los Angeles and thanks Alli, GTG, and this exceptional company.

JAMES JOSEPH (Uncle Billy) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He returns for his eighth season of It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!  Also at American Blues he appeared in Tobacco Road, performed voiceovers for Hank Williams: Lost Highway and American Myth, and has written for the Ripped festival.  He has performed on Chicago stages for twenty years, including at Steppenwolf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, and TimeLine Theatre.  He is your audio guide for the permanent Chicago Authored exhibition at the Chicago History Museum, and was nominated for a Non-Equity Jeff Award (Supporting Actor) for his role in Faith Healer with UMA Productions.  

MICHAEL MAHLER (Announcer/Pianist) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. He happily returns for a seventh season in Bedford Falls. American Blues credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Side Man, and Hank Williams: Lost Highway. Other Chicagoland credits include: Honeymoon in Vegas, City of Angels, and The 25th Annual… Spelling Bee (Marriott Theatre); The March (Steppenwolf Theatre); Working (Broadway in Chicago); and The Fox on the Fairway, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Jeff nomination), and The Producers (Theatre at the Center). Michael is the Jeff award-winning composer/lyricist of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, October Sky, The Man who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, Wonderland: Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure, and Hero. He also contributed additional lyrics to the new Broadway production of Miss Saigon. Up next, Michael will music direct and appear in Blues’ production of Buddy: the Buddy Holly Story. He is proud to share the stage with his wife, Dara Cameron, who is full of the joy of the season (and also a baby).

JOHN MOHRLEIN (Clarence/Mr. Potter) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. 16 years as “Clarence/Mr. Potter”, and he loves getting to revisit and reinvent these characters year after year.  At American Blues, he’s appeared in Half of Plenty, It’s a Wonderful Life, A View from the Bridge, Strictly Dishonorable, American Dead, The Hairy Ape, A Lie of the Mind, Endgame, American Buffalo, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Threepenny Opera, A Stone Carver (Jeff nomination for Best Actor, After Dark Award for Outstanding Performance), and directed Catch-22. Other credits: The Glass House at the Art Institute of Chicago; nine productions at Goodman Theatre; and Cripple of Inishmaan, Heart of a Dog, and Murder of Cardinal Tosca at Northlight Theatre. His extensive television and film work includes Golden Boy, Good Night Sweet Wife, Dillinger, Killing Floor, Early Edition, Crime Story (recurring role), Untouchables, Devil’s Dominoes, Stranger Than Fiction, No Place to be Somebody, Hellcab, Hero, and Cold Justice.  Now he’s developing “Star Crossed Lovers”, “Pope Frank in Venice”, while continuing to install his art works.

CAMILLE ROBINSON (Mary Bailey, Dec. 20 – Jan. 6) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. She is thrilled to be returning to this lovely, timeless show! She owes everything to her family for she would be nothing without their love and support. Recent Chicago theater credits include: Lizzie (Firebrand Theatre), Big River (Theatre at the Center), Jesus Christ Superstar (Paramount Theatre), A Wonder in My Soul (Victory Gardens Theater), Wonderful Town (Goodman Theatre), and Little Shop of Horrors (American Blues Theater). Recent TV/Film credits include: Chicago Med and Chicago PD (NBC). Represented by Gray Talent Group.

Community Service
For this production, American Blues Theater will support and partner with the USO and U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs, and Misericordia. American Blues also continues its “Pink Previews” to donate proceeds from all preview performances to The Lynn Sage Foundation for breast cancer research.

Soldier Spotlight
During each performance, American Blues Theater honors one serviceman or servicewoman with a short personal tribute, a projected photo, and two (2) complimentary tickets. Submissions should be sent to American Blues Theater. There are limited spots available for the 2017 production. Neither you nor the nominee must be present to receive the spotlight.  For more information, contact Elyse Dolan at 

About American Blues Theater
Winner of the American Theatre Wing’s prestigious 2016 National Theatre Company Award, American Blues Theater is a premier arts organization with an intimate environment that patrons, artists, and all Chicagoans call home.  American Blues Theater explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves.

The diverse and multi-generational artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago.  The 36-member Ensemble has 530+ combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2017, the theater and artists received 195 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and over 35 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.  

American Blues Theater programs and activities are made possible, in part by funding by The MacArthur Funds for Arts & Culture at Prince, the Shubert Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, SMART Growth Grant, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Anixter Foundation, Actors’ Equity Foundation, and the Chip Pringle Fund. ComEd is the Season Lighting Sponsor.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Holiday Roundup: Chicago Theatre Shows On Our Radar In November/ December

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar

Photo Credit for All: Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

Tis the season for a flurry of theatre in Chicago and shows are a great way to entertain family during the winter break, make memories with visiting guests, and take care of your holiday gift list in style. Theatre tickets make excellent presents that don't add to clutter or end up in a landfill. Think theatre for 2017. Here are some of our top picks here at ChiIL Mama (family friendly) and ChiIL Live Shows (adult). Check back early and often for our theatre news, original reviews, interviews, great ticket giveaways, and photo filled features. Use our side search bar and key words to make life easier.



This Wonderful Life
The Edge Theatre
Written by Steve Murray
Directed by Carmen Roman
Starring James Leaming
November 2 – 26, 2017
Tickets: $19 - $49

Founding Ensemble member and Chicago’s original “George Bailey” James Leaming inhabits every role in this hilariously touching stage adaptation of the iconic holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey, Clarence, Mr. Potter, and the gang come to life as a single actor creates a heartwarming story about the effect one hardworking man’s life has on the people around him.

16th Anniversary Production of
It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!
Stage 773
From Frank Capra’s film
Directed by Producing Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside
November 17 – December 30, 2017
Tickets: $19 - $49

For 16 years, the American Blues Ensemble has treated Chicago audiences to a live 1940s radio broadcast of holiday favorite It’s a Wonderful Life. The incredible cast recreates the entire town of Bedford Falls with Foley sound effects, an original score and holiday carols. The Bedford Falls “residents” extend their hospitality after every performance when audiences are treated to milk and cookies served by the cast.

4450 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 769-4451
The Annual Black Ensemble New Year’s Eve Show
December 31, 2017

Like all Black Ensemble events, the New Year’s Eve celebration will be an occasion filled with joy and excitement. Guests at the celebration will enjoy a performance by the stars of Black Ensemble Theater, along with great entertainment, fabulous food, dancing with the stars and champagne flowing all night long!

800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL  60611

Q Brothers Christmas Carol
The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare
Written by Q Brothers Collective (GQ, JQ, Jax, Pos)
Developed with Rick Boynton
Directed by GQ and JQ
November 21 - December 31, 2017
Tickets: $30 - $52

Throw your hands up, Chicago—the holiday treat set to a bangin’ beat is back! CST and Chicago hip-hop sensation the Q Brothers—creators of Othello: The Remix and Funk It Up About Nothin’—turn up the volume on Charles Dickens’ classic tale, mixing everything from reggae, dancehall, and dubstep to epic rock ballads. Brighten your festivities with some cheeky spirit and a whole lot of heart—complete with visits from a Jamaican Jacob Marley and that youngest of Cratchits, Lil’ Tim. The Q Brothers are joined by a live DJ as the ghosts of Hip-hop Past, Present, and Future lead Scrooge on a journey of rhythm, rhyme, and redemption.

Drury Lane Theatre
100 Drury Lane
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
(630) 530-8300

Drury Lane Theatre for Young Audiences presents
By Charles Dickens
November 15 - December 23, 2017
Tickets: $15

With a lively score and captivating choreography, A Christmas Carol will take families on a timeless holiday adventure with Scrooge as he travels through time with three special ghosts. Over 30 colorful Dickensian characters are brought to life on stage in this uplifting tale of hope and redemption. Complete with falling snow, magical illusions and special effects, the play is a visually-stunning experience, and at one hour long, perfect for children of all ages. On select performance dates, families will have the opportunity to have breakfast or dinner with Santa Claus in Drury Lane's elegantly decorated dining room. Tickets for Drury Lane Theatre productions are available by calling the box office at (630) 530-0111, TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or visiting

Thursday, November 23, 2017
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Price:   Adults - $50
            Child 6 to 12 - $16
            Child 3 to 5 - $10
Child 2 and Under - FREE
Leave the cooking to Drury Lane this Thanksgiving! Start your morning off with our seasonal pumpkin chai latte before enjoying traditional favorites like roasted turkey, cranberry and apple stuffing, and roasted butternut squash. Then, stop by our dessert table to indulge in our warm bread pudding with caramel apple sauce or choose from our assortment of seasonal pies.

Saturdays, November 18 & 25 and December 2, 9, 16 & 23
11:00 a.m.
Price:   Adults - $20
            Child 4 to 12 - $15
            Child 3 and Under - FREE

Start your morning with Santa! Join us for our family-friendly breakfast before seeing our production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the classic holiday tale of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. Stop by our yogurt bar, make your own donuts, and enjoy our holiday hot chocolate station. Let the little ones write out their holiday wishes in a letter to Santa that we send straight to the North Pole! 

Sundays, November 26 and December 3, 10 & 17
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Price:   Adults - $50
            Child 6 to 12 - $16
            Child 3 to 5 - $10
Child 2 and Under - FREE
Celebrate the holiday season with our exquisite brunch! From eggnog and cinnamon rolls to green bean casserole and hand-carved roasted turkey, we have all your holiday favorites. Gather around our 20-foot sparkling Christmas tree for a family photo before seeing our toe-tapping production of 42nd Street. Don’t forget to say “hi” to Santa! 

Saturdays, December 2, 9, 16 & 23
3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Price:  Adults - $35
Child 4 to 12 - $25
Child 3 and Under - FREE

Take a break from holiday shopping and indulge in our special holiday afternoon tea. Listen to Christmas favorites played by our classical pianist and enjoy seasonal specialties under the twinkling lights of Drury Lane’s festive 20-foot Christmas tree. Featuring freshly baked breads and scones, holiday tea sandwiches, enticing desserts, as well as an assortment of seasonal teas, including harvest apple spice and spiced ginger plum, and hot chocolate for the children. Champagne is also included!
Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
5:00 p.m.
Price:   Adults - $25
            Child 4 to 12 - $15
            Child 3 and Under - FREE

Treat the whole family to a festive evening with a savory dinner before the December 13th evening performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the classic holiday tale of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. Stop by our holiday hot chocolate station before enjoying our seasonal quiche, honey-glazed ham, and whipped potatoes with gravy. Take a photo with Santa (or write him a letter!) and then gather the whole family for a photo in front of our elegant 20-foot Christmas tree!

Monday, December 25, 2017
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Price:   Adults - $50
            Child 6 to 12 - $16
            Child 3 to 5 - $10
Child 2 and Under - FREE
On Christmas Day, bring the whole family to our special Christmas Brunch Buffet. Enjoy our elegant holiday decor including a 20-foot tree with sparkling lights. Sip our holiday eggnog or pumpkin chai latte while enjoying our savory Italian sausage with sweet bell peppers and roast prime rib with chestnut stuffing. Satisfy your sweet tooth with our assortment of holiday treats including Christmas cookies, cranberry-apple pie, and warm vanilla bread pudding with caramel bourbon sauce.

Saturday, December 31, 2017
3:00 pm, 3-course meal, $40
6:00 pm, 4-course meal, $70*
9:00 pm, 4-course meal, $65*
6pm and 9pm seatings include a commemorative flute
Ring in 2018 with Drury Lane’s New Year’s Eve Celebration. Gather your friends and indulge in a decadent four-course dinner at Lucille. As midnight approaches, celebrate with a complimentary champagne toast and dancing with our live band until 1 am.  Add to the celebration with a performance of the beloved tap classic 42nd Street.


4450 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 769-4451

Sammy: The Story of Sammy Davis Jr.
Written and Directed by Daryl Brooks
December 9, 2017 - January 21, 2018
Previews: December 9, 10, 15 and 16
Tickets: $45 - $65


Drury Lane Theatre
100 Drury Lane
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
(630) 530-8300

42nd Street 
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble
Based on the Novel by Bradford Ropes
Original Direction and Dances by Gower Champion
Originally Produced on Broadway by David Merrick
October 26 – December 21, 2017
Tickets: $42 - $62

Tap through this year’s holiday season with the 1980 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, 42nd Street! In this Broadway favorite, aspiring chorus girl Peggy Sawyer lands a bigger break in New York City than expected. When the leading lady injures her ankle, Peggy gets the chance of a lifetime to rise from showgirl to star of a glitzy new Broadway musical. With show stopping tap numbers and unforgettable hits such as “We’re In The Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” Warm your Chicago winter with 42ND Street – a love letter to the Great White Way. The creative team and cast for 42nd Street will be announced at a later date. 42nd Street is suitable for all audiences but most enjoyable for ages 5 and up.

821 N Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 337-0665

Hard Times
Adapted and Directed by Ensemble Member Heidi Stillman
From the Book by Charles Dickens
In Association with The Actors Gymnasium
Playing until January 14, 2018
Featuring Ensemble Members David Catlin, Raymond Fox and Artistic Associate Troy West
Tickets: $40 - $85 ($20 Student Rush Tickets)

Lookingglass launches its 30th Season with the return of the award-winning, circus-infused Hard Times.  

A Dickensian carnival of characters inhabits the streets of smoke-choked Coketown: grim Mr. Gradgrind’s school churns out joyless students; poor Stephen Blackpool toils in the nearby mines; and mill-owner Mr. Bounderby, full of bluster and bombast, presides over it all. Only when a traveling circus alights nearby, and young orphan Sissy Jupe enters their world, does a ray of hope shine through. 

Artistic Director Heidi Stillman adapts and directs this timeless love-letter to the power of beauty, hope, and imagination.  

9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie, IL 60077
(847) 673-6300

The Book of Will
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Jessica Thebus
November 9 – December 17, 2017

William Shakespeare wrote some of the world’s most beloved plays – but without his friends, they may have been lost to history! Follow the members of Shakespeare’s own company as they cunningly navigate the production of the First Folio in 1623. They may not have any money or clear-cut rights to his work, but they’re armed with wit, humor, a deep camaraderie and a passion to preserve the plays that shaped their lives. With the help of their wives and colleagues, two actors set out not only to print a collection, but to uphold a legacy for the world.

1616 N. Wells St.
(312) 337-3992
The full schedule at The Second City, including holiday programing, is available online.

Dream Freaks Fall From Space

In one of the comedy industry’s most anticipated traditions, iconic Chicago comedy institution The Second City is proud to announce the opening of its upcoming 106th Mainstage revue, Dream Freaks Fall From Space. The all-new show is written and performed by second-time Mainstage cast member Kelsey Kinney and new cast members Ryan Asher, Tyler Davis, Jeffrey Murdoch, Tien Tran, and Nate Varrone. Jeff Award winner Ryan Bernier returns to direct his sixth resident show. Vinnie Pillarella returns as music director, as does longtime stage manager Craig Taylor, who has been at the technical helm of shows featuring legendary alumni including Chris Farley, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert over the course of his storied career at The Second City.


Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre
2433 N Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 871-3000

By Victory Gardens Theater Ensemble Playwright Tanya Saracho
Directed by Teatro Vista Ensemble Member Sandra Marquez
A Co-Production with Teatro Vista
November 4-December 23, 2017
Tickets: $15 - $56

In this witty behind-the-scenes drama, Mexican-born Lucia is hired to write for a ruthless Hollywood TV series. She soon discovers that the Mexican American custodian, Abel, has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows, his stories start to blur with hers with unexpected consequences. Fade, directed by Sandra Marquez, is an acclaimed new play from Tanya Saracho (How to Get Away with Murder, Looking, Girls) whose writing “lands in that sweet spot between comedy and drama” (Chicago Tribune).

325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 242-6000

The Importance of Being Earnest
Written by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam
November 8 – December 23, 2017
Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre | 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Tickets: $35 - $80

One of the cleverest comedies by one of the greatest writers in the English language, The Importance of Being Earnest introduces us to Jack and Algernon, two charming bachelors who are each living a double life, aided by a fictional alter ego called “Ernest.” But when they fall truly in love with a pair of proper young women, will they be able to bring an end to the charade and convince the formidable Lady Bracknell that they are suitable candidates for marriage? After all, “the one charm about marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.”

More Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s The Nutcracker, 
December 2 - 3

The House Theatre of Chicago’s The Nutcracker, 
Through December 30

Lifeline Theatre Kidseries’ Arnie The Doughnut,

Through November 26

Pegasus Theatre Company’s Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery, 
November 8 - December 10

Porchlight Music Theatre’s Porchlight Revisits…Woman of the Year, November 14 - 16 at 7:15 p.m.

The Agency Theatre Collective’s Hellcab 
November 11 - December 17

The House Theatre of Chicago’s The Magic Parlour, Open Run, tickets now on sale through July

The Neo-Futurists’ The Infinite Wrench, 

Porchlight Music Theatre’s Billy Elliot
Through December 31

Theatre Y’s Yerma, 
Through December 10

The Factory Theater’s Captain Steve’s Caring Kingdom, 
Through December 9

Pegasus Theatre Company’s Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery, 
Through December 10

Porchlight Music Theatre’s Porchlight Revisits…Woman of the Year, November 14 - 16 at 7:15 p.m.

The Agency Theatre Collective’s Hellcab, 
Through December 17

The Neo-Futurists’ Best of 2017: The Infinite Wrench, 
December 1 - 10

Chicago Tap Theatre’s Tidings of Tap!
Sunday, Dec, 10 at 3 p.m.

The Neo-Futurists’ 60 Sings in 60 Minutes: Mayfly’s Childhood Torn Into Traffic Light Cycles, 
December 14 - 16 at 7:30 p.m.

The Neo-Futurists’ New Year’s Party and Performance, 
Sunday, Dec. 31 at 9:30 p.m.

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