Showing posts with label world premier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label world premier. Show all posts

Thursday, October 17, 2013

ACT OUT OPENING: World Premier Muzical The Dead Prince by The Strange Tree Group and DCASE

The Strange Tree Group, in association with
the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events,
 Presents the World Premiere Muzical

Book, Music & Lyrics by Emily Schwartz
Directed by Paul Holmquist
November 17 – December 22, 2013

The Strange Tree Group, in association with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, is pleased to kick off its 2013-14 Season with the world premiere of THE DEAD PRINCE, an original, rambunctious, fairly-family-friendly, fairy tale muzikal, with book, music and lyrics by Jeff Award-winning playwright Emily Schwartz and directed by Lifeline ensemble member Paul Holmquist.  THE DEAD PRINCE plays November 17 – December 22, 2013 at The DCASE Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St. in Chicago.  Tickets are available at  

THE DEAD PRINCE features: Cory Aiello, Elizabeth Bagby, Dan Behrendt, Scott Cupper, Michael Thomas DowneyKate Nawrocki, Stuart Ritter, Amber Vaughn Robinson, Sara Scanlon, Zachary Sigelko, Ann Sonneville, Jen Starewich and Thomas Zeitner.

Epic, goofy, comedic and romantic, THE DEAD PRINCE follows the story of a put-upon princess who is told by every magic mirror in the land that her true love has died and the two were destined never to meet: for he was dead and she alive! We join the play on the day she discovers it is possible to sneak across the void and steal him back; but does pulling someone from the brink do more damage than you think? A musical comedy full of corpses, bat attacks, horrible misunderstandings and quests... glorious quests.

In the tradition of the smash hits Mr. Spacky and The Mysterious ElephantTHE DEAD PRINCE showcases Strange Tree's patented mash-up of literary styles, which playfully bend the rules of normal theatrical narrative while drawing on the deep (and deeply eccentric) musical talents of the Strange Tree ensemble.  Lively, inventive, and completely original, for the past nine years Chicago’s Strange Tree Group has playfully toyed with the entire notion of storytelling, featuring a hand-made “twigs and twine” aesthetic replete with bright bursts of magical realism in highly detailed, audience-interactive environments. 

The production team for THE DEAD PRINCE includes: Joe Shermoly (scenic design), Delia Baseman (costume design), Rebecca Jeffords (lighting design), Michael Huey (sound design), Sarah Luse (production manager) and Becky Bishop (stage manager).


Book, Music and Lyrics: Emily Schwartz
Director:  Paul Holmquist
Cast: Cory Aiello (Diggs), Elizabeth Bagby (The Captain), Dan Behrendt (Leopold the Thief), Scott Cupper (The Dead Prince), Michael Thomas Downey (Maldorf the Mirror), Kate Nawrocki (Tasha the Farmer’s Daughter), Stuart Ritter (Wilkes), Amber Vaughn Robinson (Oh, Death), Sara Scanlon (Sallie), Zachary Sigelko (Will the Minstrel), Ann Sonneville (Sara the Princess), Jen Starewich (Pea) and Thomas Zeitner (Dennis the Accordion Player).

Location:  The DCASE Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St. in Chicago

Dates:  Previews: Sunday, November 17 at 2 pm, Monday, November 18 at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, November 20 at 7:30 pm and Thursday, November 21 at 7:30 pm
Press performance: Friday, November 22 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Saturday, November 23 – Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013
Curtain Times: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 2Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving).
Tickets: Previews: Pay-what-you-can. Regular run: $15. Tickets are available at

About the Playwright:
Emily Schwartz is the Artistic Director of, and Resident Playwright for, The Strange Tree Group. For the Trees she has penned the Jeff Award-winning The Three Faces of Doctor Crippen, as well as the critically acclaimed The Dastardly Ficus and Other Comedic Tales of Woe and MiseryMr. SpackyThe Man Who Was Continuously Followed by Wolves and The Mysterious Elephant, among many others. Emily is also a Resident Playwright of Chicago Dramatists, an Artistic Associate of Collaboraction and one of New City's Top 50 people who really perform in Chicago 2012.

About the Director
As a director, Paul S. Holmquist’s work has mainly been with Lifeline Theatre, where he has been a member of the Ensemble since 2006. Lifeline MainStage productions include The Island of Dr. Moreau (winner of five Non-Equity Jeff Awards including Best Production-Play), Busman's HoneymoonNeverwhereThe Moonstone and The Count of Monte Cristo. For Lifeline's KidSeries, Paul directed Rikki Tikki Tavi and Other Just So StoriesFlight of the DodoNaked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost. Other area directing credits include The Constant Wife and The Robber Bridegroom (Non-Equity Jeff Award Nomination: Director-Musical) with Griffin Theatre, Under Milk Wood for Caffeine Theatre, and the Chicago premiere of Jon Fosse's Winter for Akvavit Theatre. Paul holds a BFA in Acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University and a Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis from Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches and works.

About The Strange Tree Group:
A collective of multifaceted individuals dedicated to creating intricate, intimate theatrical experiences that extend beyond the boundaries of a traditional stage. We produce works that inspire creativity not only in our actors but also in our audience. We Trees embrace the theatricality inherent in live performance and are committed to producing pieces that celebrate the strange and the magical; the dangerous and the fantastical; and the surprisingly usual nature of unusual behavior. The world is full of adventure...let us embark on this one together! For more information, please visit

Chicago Cultural Center Presents is an ongoing performing arts series that showcases both emerging and established music, theater, dance and multi-disciplinary artists at the Chicago Cultural Center and other venues. Dedicated to capacity building in the arts, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events hires the artists and provides performance space as well as technical and marketing support.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ONE NIGHT ONLY: NATYA DANCE THEATRE presents World Premiere of THE SEVENTH LOVE, An evening-length dance-theater work created in collaboration with Lookingglass Theatre’s David Kersnar

Natya Dance Theatre, Chicago’s longest running contemporary Indian dance company, announces a World Premiere: The Seventh Love, an evening-length work of dance-theater created collaboratively by Hema and Krithika Rajagopalan and Lookingglass Theater’s David Kersnar, at the Harris Theater, Saturday, November 2.

Here at ChiIL Live Shows/ChiIL Mama, we've long been admirers of David Kersnar's works.   Check out our original video interview with him, during his collaboration on Goodnight Moon for Chicago Children's Theatre.

Now check out his latest collaboration in person:
World Premiere of THE SEVENTH LOVE
Harris Theater
One Night Only: November 2

Real life stories from Chicago women about love and relationships play a key role in the sound score of The Seventh Love, a work that explores the various aspects of love through dialogue, original music and powerful Bharata Natyam dance.

True Stories from Chicago Women about Love and Relationships Play Key Role in Narrative

 Natya Dance Theatre, Chicago’s critically-acclaimed and longest running dance company rooted in the Indian dance-theater technique of Bharata Natyam, returns to the Harris Theater with the World Premiere of The Seventh Love, an exploration of love in eastern teachings based on the life of the god Krishna.  The Seventh Love is conceived by Natya Associate Artistic Director Krithika Rajagopalan in collaboration with David Kersnar, a founding member of Chicago’s Tony Award®-winning Lookingglass Theatre, and is written and directed by Kersnar and choreographed by Natya Founder and Artistic Director Hema Rajagopalan.   Natya presents The Seventh Love in one performance only at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Street, Saturday, November 2 at 7:30 pm.

Following last year’s highly successful Sita Ram, an original world musical at the Harris Theater created by Kersnar, Krithika Rajagopalan, Josephine Lee of the Chicago Children’s Choir and composer Jai Uttal, Kersnar and Rajagopalan team up once again for The Seventh Love, a humorous dance drama revolving around the life of Krishna and understanding the various aspects of love.  Based on the ancient Buddhist discourse known as “The Five Aspects of Love” – which include attention, affection, acceptance, allowance and appreciation – Kersnar and Rajagopalan’s narrative story, brought to life through expressive dance and dialogue between a sage and a king, examines the various stories of Krishna’s life, from childhood through his adult relationships.  Through the lens of Krishna, the sage and the king seek to understand what true love really means and how a person can attain the sixth love, or “perfect love” encompassing all five aspects, before moving on to the seventh love, which is universal, selfless love. 

Bringing a real life element to Kersnar and Rajagopalan’s story, the sound design includes true stories from Chicago women about their real-life relationships, ranging from anecdotes about arranged marriages and surviving domestic abuse to lessons learned from both successful and failed marriages. 

Accompanied by original music from Rajkumar Bharathi, who also composed for Natya’s premiere of The Flowering Tree at the Harris Theater in 2011, and brilliant costumes designed by Ruknini Rajans and Krithika Rajagopalan, Hema Rajagopalan’s Bharata Natyam choreography – full of percussive footwork, symbolic hand gestures, fascinating geometry in movement and engaging facial expressions – uses 15 dancers to bring the story of The Seventh Love to life in a fresh, contemporary way that sheds new light on the ancient mysteries of love, life and human relationships.  

Tickets for The Seventh Love range from $24 to $75 and are available by calling the Harris Theater Box Office at 312-334-7777 or online  

About the Artists
Natya Dance Theatre was founded in 1975 by renowned dancer, choreographer and dance educator Hema Rajagopalan to serve as an agent of cultural preservation, presentation and exchange.  Natya seeks to sustain and develop the traditional art forms of India through the teaching and performance of Bharata Natyam for audiences of all backgrounds.  Bharata Natyam is a classical dance form of southern India that combines dynamic body movement with rhythmic footwork and stylized hand gestures and facial expressions.  Natya promotes the values of Indian culture, preserves an ancient art form, and forges links among Indian, American and other cultures.

Hema Rajagopalan (Artistic Director, Choreographer) is a Bharata Natyam dancer, teacher and choreographer of international repute.  She is the founder and Artistic Director of Natya Dance Theatre, a professional touring company and school that has specialized in Bharata Natyam for the past 38 years.  Her innovative work preserves Bharata Natyam in its full integrity, developing the art form in new directions and bringing it to diverse audiences all over the world.  Her gurus are some of the foremost figures in Bharata Natyam: Padma Shri K. N. Dandayudapani Pillai and Padma Bhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan theAbhinaya exponent.  She has performed as a soloist at prestigious venues throughout the world.  As a choreographer, she has created numerous short works and over thirty evening-length productions.  Noteworthy among her many prestigious awards are an Emmy® Award for the public TV production, World Stage Chicago, seven National Endowment for the Arts choreography awards in the U.S. (the highest number ever) and the Vishwa Kala Bharati award for artistic excellence in India.   She conducts workshops and master classes at colleges and universities throughout the country, and is an adjunct faculty member at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago.

Krithika Rajagopalan (Associate Artistic Director, Story Creator) has trained under Bharata Natyam masters, learning from world-renowned practitioners Hema Rajagopalan and Padma Bhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan.  Krithika also has trained in Kalari Payatu (Indian martial arts) and yoga.  She has given numerous solo performances and has had the honor of appearing for President Bill Clinton and at prestigious venues all over the world, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC; the Ravinia Festival; the Auditorium Theatre; the Kentucky Centre for the Arts; the Music and Dance Festival of Madras, India; and the National Centre for Performing Arts, Bombay, India.  She has choreographed sixteen full-length works.  In 2006, she performed as a soloist at Chicago’s Millennium Park with acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, and also performed with the Silk Road Ensemble at New York’s Rubin Museum.  In 2006, Krithika was the first Indian ever nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award, an award that acknowledges outstanding achievement in Chicago theater.  Recognition of Krithika’s work includes the Chicago Dance Award, the Jerome Foundation Grant, the Master Teacher Award from the Illinois Arts Council, the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, the Woman Warrior Award from Columbia College Chicago, and the Commitment to the Arts Award from Mayor Daley and the City of Chicago.

David Kersnar (Story Creator, Writer and Director) is a founding ensemble member of the Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company and has performed, designed and directed with the company since it was founded in 1988.  Kersnar has also appeared with the Goodman, Steppenwolf and Remains Theatre in Chicago, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Actor’s Gang in Los Angeles, and the Touchstone Theatre of Pennsylvania.   Kersnar served as the Lookingglass Artistic Director from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1997 to 2000.  Kersnar founded and currently serves as one of the Master Teachers of the Lookingglass Education & Community Programs, and served as its Director from 1992 to 1997.  He has over 25 years of experience teaching residencies, camps and classes, including courses for Roosevelt University, DePaul University, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, residencies for children with special needs in Chicago area schools, and workshops for the Lookingglass Studio.  Kersnar recently directed Iphigenia 2.0 for Next Theatre and Pulcinella and Peter and the Wolf for Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Marisol, Old Times, and Some Girls for Northwestern University.  Other directing and writing credits include Popcorn and Pasquale for Chicago Lyric Opera, Goodnight Moon for Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Last Act Of Lilka Kadison, La Luna Muda for Lookingglass Theatre, Flying Griffin Circus for the Actor’s Gymnasium and Brundibar for Lookingglass in collaboration with Lively Arts, Chicago Children’s Choir and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.  Kersnar also co-wrote and directed the Lookingglass namesake production,Through the Looking Glass and several productions for the Lookingglass World Circus.

Rajkumar Bharathi (Composer) graduated as an electronics and telecommunications engineer from the prestigious Guindy College of Engineering, Chennai, but turned to music as a full time career after a short stint as an engineer.  He has given classical Carnatic music concerts all over India and has traveled widely to the U.S., Canada, U.K., Gulf countries, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.  Bharathi has been involved in composing music for CD’s, thematic presentations, dance ballets and also for fusion projects.  He also has composed many Varnams, Thillanas and Padams especially for dance projects.  As the great grandson of the poet Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi, he has tuned many of Bharathi’s lesser known compositions and presented them in the classical Carnatic forums.  Bharanthi was nominated for the prestigious Lester Horton Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Composing Music for Creation Myth, a dance ballet for the UCLA Centre for Performing Arts (University of California) in 1995. 

For more information on Natya Dance Theatre and its programs, please visit

Sunday, June 9, 2013

ACT OUT OPENING: 13TH Annual Sketchbook at Collaboraction

Do you like to see creative, thought provoking new works before anyone else?   Hop on board the blue line, green line, brown line, and black line at Collaboraction for a slew of world premiers.   We'll be checkin' out and reviewing the blue and green line shows today.   Last year we did a one day theatre immersion where we saw ALL the Sketchbook plays in one day and it an intense, altering experience.   Highly recommended. 

Flat Iron Arts Building
1579 N. Milwaukee, 3rd Floor

14 world premiere works of theater
Over 150 participants  
Four programs to choose from   

Each "line" on the transit map constitutes  
a complete mind-blowing theater experience

See all 4 Programs in One Day with your Festival Pass!
Price Point                           

Hospital & WeatherVane

Snapshot & Deadpan Melodrama    

The Shorts: 9 Destinies
with Musical Guest 

Planning on catching the entire festival? Get a Festival Pass and see all 4 programs as many times as you want!

Click here to get yours today

The Green Line
A full-length devised piece  

Price Point
Co-devised by the ensemble members of Honey Pot Performance:  
Felicia Holman, Aisha Jean-Baptiste, Abra Johnson and Meida McNeal

Pictured ( clockwise from top left):  Felicia Holman, Abra Johnson, Meida McNeal and Aisha Baptiste-Johnson 

Price Point explores notions of fairness and balance, or the lack thereof, in today's economic landscape through a mixture of the tragic and comic. The work combines movement, theater, song and image to examine the state of the American Dream.

The Blue Line
Two one-act plays with an intermission

Conceived by Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman and Diana Rose and created by Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, Diana Rose and Robin Toller
devised by Carolyn Hoerdemann, filmmaker Ann Sonneville and Tony Werner, written by Tony Werner, with creative consultant Jess McLeod
Pictured (from left): Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, Ann Sonneville, Carolyn Hoerdemann 

A stay at a hospital is a strange and scary theatrical experience. At our most vulnerable moments of losing physical control of our bodies we are asked to surrender emotional and intellectual control, and give our trust to a group of strangers. Hospital brings the audience into the private world of one patient as she journeys through the bizarre and surreal world of the medical system. 

Christina and Nicole are both outsiders in a system that demands assimilation and loyalty. They married into a powerful family, and Nicole has been guiding her through the process. When Christina's husband goes missing, she goes into hiding. Can she trust the more adapted Nicole and survive the onslaught of the established order?


The Black LIne
Two one-act plays with an intermission

by Brett C. Leonard, directed by Anthony Moseley
Deadpan Melodrama
by Bob Glaudini, directed by Scott Illingworth

Pictured (from left): Chris Meister, Karl Pontliff, Morgan McCabe, Susan Jamshadi

The family of a contract killer faces its demons in a battle between amnesia and revenge in this provocative new play by the author of Guinea Pig Solo and The Long Red Road

Deadpan Melodrama
What do parents owe their children? How does a child live up to the expectations of their parents? At 40, Rogers and Trish continue to struggle with who they are and how to live in this world. Their confusion clashes violently with the immobility and inflexibility of their parents.

The Brown Line
The Shorts: 9 Destinies
Nine short plays of 7 minutes or less
Featuring live musical guests every night
Pictured (from left):   Kiley Moore and Aja Wiltshire 

The Sorrows of Young Werther  by The Q Brothers, directed by Kimberly Senior
featuring Eric Swanson, Torian Miller, Kiley Moore and Mike Hahalyak

Young Werther is unlucky in love. He turns from one failed love to pining after an engaged woman. This update on Goethe's classic pokes fun at Werther's misfortune through the lens of his increasingly melodramatic and irrational letters to his friend.

Native American Princess 
by Stanley Toledo, directed by Elana Boulos featuring David Seeber, Alex Stage and Aja Wiltshire

All relationships start in fantasy. Some fantasies are more extreme than others - as Native American Princess suggests. Believing in fate and true love, Joel follows the signs of the universe, ignoring warnings at every turn.

Everything is Permitted 
by Chelsea M. Marcantel, directed by Mignon Stewart featuring Derek van Barham, Ben Gojer, Kanome Jones and Jackie Koester

A group of students have constructed their own Dreamachine - a device that can stimulate the brain and induce episodes of lucid dreaming. However, in the hands of these young and inexperienced students, the Dreammachine stimulates greed and obsession as well.

by Adam Joshua Seidel, directed by Sarah Gitenstein featuring John Crothswaite and Barbara Figgins

After 300 years trapped in darkness, Grace is cynical and abrasive. When faced with abandonment by her spiritual advisor, she must determine if her protective outer shell is more important than being honest with herself.   

Minus You 
by Jennifer Barclay, directed by Paige Riley, featuring Jane Brody and Walter Brody

There are those we truly cannot live without, and life without them is distinctly missing something. In the wake of an accident, Lennox and Gracie struggle to reach out for each other and hold on to what they have lost.  
Survey No. 5 
by Alex Lubischer, directed by John Rooney, featuring Nick Timmons and Lorraine Freund  

The audience is polled and drinking games enacted in this sprint across the minefield of breakups and bisexuality.   

Shuffle Off 
by Gregory Hardigan, directed by Danny Bernardo 
featuring Aurora Adachi-Winter, Garrett Lutz, Charlie Oh, Charlie Rasmann, Ray Rehberg, Angelica Roque and Matt Tassell

Earl is dying on the side of the highway. His iPod is stuck on shuffle, replaying random moments from his life, trying to find the perfect song to end on, but music can be like life - random and cruel.

Theater McGuiver 
co-devised by Jenny Lynn Christoffersen and Jaci Entwistle featuring Jaci Entwistle and Dan Krall

Inspired by everyone's favorite TV resourceful Rube Goldberg-esque inventor, one man will enter the theater. Given a task and a box of miscellany he will, through the magic of theater, accomplish his task. The fate of the world is in his hands.

The Most Delicious Little House for Beginners (Clip Her Small to Fit the Boards) 
devised and performed by Kelly Rafferty and Heather Warren-Crow

Tinkerbell is on uppers, and Wendy is a drunk, desperate housewife who now lives inside the teevee. Together they pine after Peter and sort through the media traces of colonialism that perpetually overwhelm their home in Neverland.

Save the date.   The Decades Project is going to be epic!  June 21 & 22 only.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

ACT OUT OPENING: Northlight Theatre’s World Premier of Stella & Lou

Rhea Perlman, Francis Guinan and Ed Flynn to appear in the World Premiere of 
Northlight Theatre’s Stella & Lou

Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans are preparing for the world premiere of Stella & Lou, including Emmy Award winner Rhea Perlman, Francis Guinan and Ed Flynn.  Bruce Graham, the Jeff Award-winning playwright of The Outgoing Tide, returns to Northlight with his latest play, to be directed by BJ Jones.  Stella & Lou will run at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie, from May 3-June 9, 2013.

On a quiet night at Lou's bar, two kindred spirits seek solace as they navigate changing times and relationships past. From the author of The Outgoing Tide comes an intimate exploration of friendship, forgiveness, and the longing for companionship that grows with the passage of time.

BJ Jones comments, “When Rhea Perlman saw The Outgoing Tide last summer in Galway, she told me how much she admired Bruce's work. I immediately thought she would be perfect for the role of Stella, and upon reading it, she agreed. Now we are honored to pair her up with Fran Guinan as Lou in this poignant piece about companionship and second chances.”

About The Artists

Rhea Perlman (Stella) is a four-time Emmy winner for her role as Carla on the NBC TV show Cheers. Stage credits include Love, Loss and What I Wore, in which she appeared with her daughter Lucy DeVito, on Broadway and at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles; the Broadway production of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife; the Off-Broadway play The Exonerated; the Los Angeles production of Last Night at Ballyhoo and the London West End revival of Boeing-Boeing.  Film credits include The Sessions, Sunset Park, Canadian Bacon and Carpool. Perlman played Mrs. Wormwood to her husband, Danny DeVito’s Mr. Wormwood in the film Matilda, which was directed by DeVito.  The pair also worked together on the acclaimed TV series Taxi in which Perlman played Louie DePalma’s love interest, Zena.   Television credits include Hung, Law & Order: SVU, Kate Brasher, Hot in Cleveland, and Pearl, in which she both starred and served as executive producer, and television movies including The Christmas Choir, Houdini, Secret Cutting and How to Marry a Billionaire. This fall Perlman reunites with Kirstie Ally in TV Land's new comedy, Kirstie's New Show in which she plays Ally's assistant and best friend, Thelma.  Perlman lives with her family in Los Angeles.

Francis Guinan (Lou) has been a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble since 1979.  With Steppenwolf he has appeared in over 30 productions including The Birthday Party, Time Stands Still, The Book Thief, American Buffalo, August: Osage County, Balm in Gilead and Say Goodnight, Gracie.  He has previously appeared at Northlight in Season’s Greetings and Inherit the Wind.  He has also appeared at Victory Gardens (A Guide for the Perplexed), Goodman (Seagull) and American Blues Theatre (Rantoul and Die).  Television appearances include Boss in the role of Gov. Cullen, filmed here in Chicago; Eerie, Indiana, ER, Frasier and several Star Trek franchise episodes.  Film roles include appearances in The Last Airbender, Typing, Low Tide, and Constantine. 

Ed Flynn (Donny) has appeared at Chicago Dramatists in I am Going to Change the World; The Gift Theatre in Suicide, Incorporated and at Writers’ in A Streetcar Named Desire.  Ed is a member of the Gift Theatre Company, where he is Co-Artistic Director of giftFILM and is a founding member of NATURAL GAS, the Gift's house improv team.  Ed is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf, The Second City, iO and Upright Citizens Brigade.  He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Bruce Graham (Playwright) has written The Outgoing Tide, which premiered at Northlight in a production that transferred to The Galway Arts Festival; Burkie; Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grille; Moon Over the Brewery; Belmont Avenue Social Club; Desperate Affection; Coyote on a Fence, Winner of The Rosenthal Prize, Two Drama Desk Nominations – the West End production starred Ben Cross; According to Goldman; The Philly Fan.  He has won consecutive Barrymore Awards for Best New Play for Something Intangible and Any Given Monday.  Mister Hart and Mister Brown opens at People’s Light and Theatre in 2012.  Film: Dunston Checks In, Anastasia, Steal This Movie.  TV: Roseanne, Ring of Endless Light (Humanitas Award Winner – Best Children’s Screenplay), The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  Trading Christmas will play on the Hallmark Channel during the upcoming holiday season.  Graham is a past winner of the Princess Grace Foundation Statuette.  Along with Michele Volansky, he is the author of the book The Collaborative Playwright.  Graham teaches film and theatre courses at Drexel University.  He resides in South Philadelphia.

BJ Jones (Artistic Director/Director) is in his 14th season as Artistic Director of Northlight Theatre, where he most recently directed The Odd Couple and has piloted the world premieres of The Outgoing Tide with John Mahoney and Rondi Reed, Craig Wright's Lady, Larry Gelbart and Craig Wright's Better Late, Rounding Third with George Wendt, and Sky Girls. As a producer he guided the world premieres of Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years, The Gamester, and Studs Terkel's 'The Good War'. BJ has directed at Steppenwolf, Cherry Lane Theatre NY, Atlanta's Alliance Theatre, The Utah Shakespeare Festival, The Asolo Theatre, Intiman Theatre, TimeLine and Next Theatre in Evanston. Directorial work includes Northlight's Grey Gardens, The Lady with All the Answers, The Retreat From Moscow, A Skull in Connemara, The Cripple of Inishmaan, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore, as well as productions of A Number, Twelfth Night, Glengarry Glen Ross (Suzie Bass Nominee - Best Director), Pygmalion, The Price (Jeff Nomination - Best Director), and 100 Saints You Should Know. A two-time Jeff Award winner, he has appeared at Northlight in dozens of productions and has performed at virtually every major theatre in Chicago, including The Goodman in The Guys, and House and Garden, Steppenwolf in The Royal Family and Playboy of the Western World, and Court in Candide and Comedy of Errors. Film/TV credits include The Fugitive, Body Double, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Early Edition, Cupid and Turks, among others.

Title:            Stella & Lou
Written by:   Bruce Graham
Directed by:  BJ Jones

Featuring:     Rhea Perlman, Francis Guinan and Ed Flynn   

Dates:            Previews May 3-May 9, 2013

                     Regular run: May 11-June 9, 2013

Tuesdays: 7:30pm (except May 21 and June 4)
Wednesdays:   1:00pm (except May 22), and 7:30pm (except May 29)

Thursdays: 7:30pm 
Fridays: 8:00pm (except Opening on May 10 at 7:30pm)
Saturdays: 2:30pm (except May 4) and 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:30pm, and 7:00pm (May 5, 26 and June 2 only)

Northlight Theatre is located at the North Shore
Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.


Previews: $25-$54
Regular run: $25-$72
Student tickets are $15, any performance,
(subject to availability)

Box Office:   

The Box Office is located at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.

Stella & Lou is generously supported by The Edgerton Foundation for New American Plays Award, Room and Board, Tom Stringer Design Partners and NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.

Now in its 38th season, the organization has mounted nearly 200 productions, including over 40 world premieres.  Northlight has earned 151 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 28 Awards.  As one of the area’s premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality.

Northlight is supported in part by generous contributions from The Allyn Foundation; Arts Midwest; Blackman Kallick Bartelstein, LLP; BMO Harris Bank; Draft FCB; the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; ComEd, An Exelon Company; Edgerton Foundation for New American Plays Award; Ernst & Young; Evanston Community Foundation; Gand Music & Sound; The Homestead Hotel; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; The Irving Harris Foundation; The Joyce Foundation; Kirkland & Ellis Foundation; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Madison Dearborn Partners; Melvoin Award for Playwriting; Modestus Bauer Foundation; North Shore Center for the Performing Arts Foundation; Nuveen Investments; The Offield Family Foundation; The Pauls Foundation; Pioneer Press; Quince at the Homestead; Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation; Room & Board; Sanborn Family Foundation; Shubert Foundation; Skokie Fine Arts Council; Sullivan Family Foundation; Target; and Tom Stringer Design Partners.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


THE BUNNY THE BEAR have teamed up with VEVO to premiere the music video for "In Like Flynn", the single from their third studio album, Stories. Based loosely on the famous Shel Silverstein tale "The Giving Tree", the video depicts the give and take relationship between a girl and her tree. Featuring master puppeteers Amber Marsh and Lolly Extract, The Bunny and The Bear marionettes are brought to life, providing visual theatrics to an already energetic, hypnotically melodic track. Watch "In Like Flynn" here and be transported into another world.
See THE BUNNY THE BEAR on their headlining tour now as they pass through over twenty-five cities in support ofStories.

“Mixed with an eclectic blend of top heavy guitar riffs, vocal fury, techno dance beats, and the occasional melodic mix of all these elements, Stories is the another colorful notch in The Bunny The Bear’s musical belt.” - Examiner

“Every song is ridiculously addictive.”Punk Nation
“The Bunny The Bear’s ability to mash the highs with the lows and the screams with the soft melodies is unlike anything you’ve ever heard.” - Alliance Wakeboard Magazine

4/24- Fayetteville, NC. - The Drunk Horse Pub
4/25- Spartanburg, SC. - Ground Zero (w/ Abiotic)
4/26- Douglasville, GA. - The 7 Venue
4/29- Pensacola, FL. - The Handlebar
5/1- Fort Worth, TX. - Tomcats West
5/3- St Louis, MO. - Fubar
5/5- Des Moines, IA. - The Vaudeville Mews
5/7- Sauk Rapids, MN. - Bubbas
5/8- La Crosse, WI. - The Warehouse
5/9- Barrington, IL. - Penny Road Pub
5/10- Portage, IN. - Camelot Bowl
5/11- Kalkaska, MI. -  Kalkaska Recreation Center
5/12- Peoria, IL. - The Brass Rail
5/13- Romeo, MI. - High Octane Lounge
5/14- Toledo, OH. - Frankie's
5/16- Buffalo, NY. - Broadway Joes


Monday, April 1, 2013

ACT OUT OPENING: Catch Me If You Can & Big Fish #BroadwayinChicago

Catch Me If You Can

Theatre : Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago Illinois
Dates : April 02, 2013 - April 14, 2013

Based on the hit DreamWorks film and the incredible true story that inspired it, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is the high-flying, splashy new Broadway musical that tells the story of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teenager who runs away from home in search of the glamorous life. With nothing more than his boyish charm, a big imagination and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer - living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams. But when Frank's lies catch the attention of FBI agent Carl Hanratty, Carl chases Frank to the end...and finds something he never expected. This delightfully entertaining musical has been created by a Tony Award®-winning "dream team," with a book by Terrence McNally (The Full Monty, Ragtime), a swinging score by Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman (Hairspray), choreography by Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray, Legally Blonde) and direction by Jack O'Brien (Hairspray, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). 

Ticket prices are $18 to $85. Groups of 10+ are now on sale by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at 312-977-1710.

Two weeks only--Chi Town, so catch it if you can!   ChiIL Live Shows will be there...will YOU?!   We're catching the Wednesday night performance and we'll have a full review up for our readers shortly.

Click here for the production's main site to book your advanced tickets, check out video footage and more.

Big Fish - World Premiere!

Theatre : Oriental Theatre, Chicago Illinois
Dates : April 02, 2013 - May 05, 2013


BIG FISH is a new musical based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed Columbia Pictures film directed by Tim Burton. It features direction and choreography by 5-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, The Scottsboro Boys), music and lyrics by Tony nominee Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family, The Wild Party) and a new book by John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride), who also penned the screenplay for the film version.

Two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Catch Me If You Can), Tony nominee Kate Baldwin (Giant, Finian's Rainbow) and Tony nominee Bobby Steggert (Giant, Ragtime) lead a cast of twenty-seven in this rollicking fantasy set in the American South.

BIG FISH centers on the charismatic Edward Bloom, whose impossible stories of his epic adventures frustrate his son Will. As Edward's final chapter approaches, Will embarks on his own journey to find out who his father really is, unraveling the man from the myth, the truth from the tall tales.

Overflowing with heart, humor and imagination, BIG FISH is a tribute to the power of dreaming big... and the unpredictable adventure of life itself.

Ticket prices are $33.00 to $100.00.

Groups of 15 or more, now on sale! Call 312-977-1710!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Chi, IL live shows on our radar.   We haven't had a chance to catch this one yet, but it's high up on our must see list.   We've been impressed by Jackie Taylor's work for years.

Black Ensemble Theater presents the world premiere of From Doo Wop to Hip Hop, written and directed by Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor and Associate Director Rueben Echoles and produced by Jackie Taylor. From Doo Wop to Hip Hop will be presented at the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago, through April 14, 2013.

From Doo Wop to Hip Hop is the story of people who live in the highly affluent neighborhood of Unison Hills. This is an integrated neighborhood made up of people from the music industry. The older folks have all lived their dreams of stardom, and the younger folks are reaching for theirs. The Whites and Blacks who live in Unison Hills have a very special bond, until tragedy hits – a racial tragedy that tears their congenial neighborhood apart. Audiences will hear such great musical classics as “The Great Pretender,” “16 Candles,” “What’s Your Name,” “Our Day Will Come” and “Waterfalls,” just to name a few. Audiences will also enjoy several other musical genres including rhythm and blues, soul, Hip Hop and everything in between.  Musical variety is the name of the game and From Doo Wop to Hip Hop serves it up – big time. 

Dates:        Through April 14, 2013       

Schedule:              Wed & Thurs:        7:30 p.m.
                              Friday:            8:00 p.m.
                              Saturday:        3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
                              Sunday:        3:00 p.m.

Location:        Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street.
                       Valet parking is available.

Ticket prices:  
Regular Run: $55 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday matinees; and $65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings, and Sunday matinees. 

A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups.  Preview tickets are $45.00

Box Office:        773-769-4451 or online at   Click here to order tickets.

From Doo Wop to Hip Hop is part of the Black Ensemble’s 36th Season of Excellence titled, ‘Treasures and Tributes.’  "This Black Ensemble treasure (originally Doo Wop Shoo Bop) is being rewritten and updated for the 2013 production,” says Jackie Taylor.   “With this production, we celebrate music that every generation will enjoy.  As always at Black Ensemble, we are bringing audiences of different generations and races together to experience a universal story with exceptional music like you won’t hear anywhere else in Chicago.” 

As with all Black Ensemble Theater productions, Robert Reddrick will serve as musical director.  The Black Ensemble Musicians include Robert Reddrick on drums, Tracy Baker on bass, Herbert Walker on guitar, and Mark Moultrup and Andrea Moore on piano.

The cast includes: David Simmons, Monty Montgomery, Christopher Straw, Dwight Neal, Matthew Payne, Kelvin Roston Jr., Brandon Holmes, Lawrence Williams, Corey Wright, Cynthia Carter, Erin O’Shea, John Keating, Megan Murphy, Lisa Beasley, Danielle Davis and Marquicia Jordan.

The creative team includes Rueben Echoles (Choreography), Daryl Brooks (Production Manager), Dave Ferguson (Set Design), Denise Karczewski (Lights), Mike Pierce and Les Spires (Sound), June Saito (Costumes), Helen Latyak (Props), CoCo Lemry (Scenic Painter).  Bekki Lambrecht is the

Technical Director, Emily Wall is the company stage manager and Victoria Spires is the Equity Stage Manager.
Black Ensemble Theater performance times are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00.  

Ticket prices are as follows:
Previews are $45; Tickets during the regular run are $55 (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturday matinees) and $65 (Fridays, Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees).

The Five Play Card is a much more flexible way of becoming a subscriber to the theater’s 36th Season of Excellence: Treasures and Tributes.  The Five Play Card can be used for one person to see 5 plays or to bring 4 other friends to one show or in any other combination that adds up to five.  The Five Play Cards issued in 2013 will be good for one year.

Gold Five Play Card, $247.50, can be used on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturday matinees.  The Platinum Five Play Card, $292.50, can be used for any performance.  

Tickets and The Five Play Card are available at the box office, 4450 N. Clark Street and by phone, (773) 769-4451.  All performances are held at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street.

The Black Ensemble Theater

Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.

On November 18, 2011, The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened and is able to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of educational programming. The new facility includes amenities such as a 299-seat main stage theater (double the capacity of the original venue); 14 offices, classroom space; rehearsal hall, dance studio, scene shop, costume shop, and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; rehearsal room for musicians; front lobby space with concession areas; and an indoor parking garage.  The completion of a 150-seat theater, which will serve as an experimental stage for the work of the Black Playwright Initiative (BPI), is expected in 2013.

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts.  For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, please visit or call 773-769-4451.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

ACT OUT OPENING: The City & The City February 25 at Lifeline Theatre

Lifeline Theatre Continues its 30th Season with The City & The City, A World Premiere Adaptation of the Contemporary Crime Novel by China Miéville Opens February 25, 2013

Lifeline Theatre presents a world premiere adaptation of China Miéville’s The City & The City, by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Christopher M. Walsh, and directed by Lifeline Theatre Artistic Director Dorothy Milne (Non-Equity Jeff Award and After Dark Award winner).   ChiIL Live Shows will be there for the press opening and we'll have a full review up shortly thereafter.

Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad is assigned to a seemingly open-and-shut case: an American student found dead in the gutters of the city of Beszel. But soon this deceptively simple crime reveals ties to powerful political and corporate factions at the heart of both Beszel and its twin city, Ul Qoma. Forced to cross the divide between two citystates coexisting in the same geographical space yet separated by irreconcilable cultural differences, Borlú must bring to justice the mastermind of the most unusual and dangerous case of his career. A thrilling crime story set in a location both fantastical and eerily real, in a world premiere adaptation. 

A cast of ten actors brings more than twenty characters to life, led by Steve Schine as Inspector Borlú, and Lifeline Theatre ensemble members Patrick Blashill and Chris Hainsworth.

The City & The City runs February 15–April 7, 2013, at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Opening night is Monday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Fridays, February 15 and 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, February 16 and 23 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, February 17 at 4 p.m.)

Regular performance times (February 28–April 7) are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for seniors, $20 for students (with I.D.), $20 for rush tickets (available half hour before show time, subject to availability), and $20 for previews. Group rate for 12 or more is available upon request. 

Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by The production runs approximately two hours and fifteen minutes with one intermission. The book will be on sale in the lobby.
The complete cast and production team for The City & The City includes:

Lifeline Theatre ensemble members Patrick Blashill (Bowden/Shukman/Syedr) and Chris Hainsworth (Dhatt); with guest artists Don Bender (Mr. Geary/Ashil), Bryson Engelen (Jaris/Yorjavic/Samun), Marsha Harman (Corwi/Yalla), Jonathan Helvey (Drodin/Aikam/Unif Boy), Millicent Hurley (Mrs. Geary/Nancy), Volen Iliev (Naustin/Buric), Steve Schine (Borlú), and Megan M. Storti (Yolanda/Unif Girl/Raina). With understudies Eduardo Garcia and Alex Kyger.

Lifeline Theatre ensemble members Dorothy Milne (Director) and Christopher M. Walsh (Adaptor); with guest artists Leah Cox (Dramaturg), Benjamin W. Dawson (Production Manager), Jesse Gaffney (Properties Designer), Izumi Inaba (Costume Designer), Christopher Kriz (Original Music & Sound Designer), Amanda Link (Assistant Director), Anna Morrell (Stage Manager), Greg Poljacik (Violence Designer), Joe Schermoly (Scenic Designer/Technical Director), and Brandon Wardell (Lighting Designer).

The critics have said: 

“Few American theaters can do this kind of thing – with such imagination, dignity, humor and judicious restraint – quite like the master storytellers at Lifeline.” (Chicago Tribune, 5/12/10) 

"Nobody does it better than Lifeline Theatre when it comes to spinning a rip- roaring yarn full of derring-do and adventure" (Chicago Sun-Times, 9/22/09) 

“Spectacle and story so ambitious and colorful, poetic and vulgar, heroic and homely, it’s like eavesdropping on your favorite author’s waking
dream.” (, 5/10/10).

Now in its 30th season, Lifeline Theatre specializes in original literary adaptations. Its ensemble of artists uses imaginative, unconventional staging to portray sprawling stories in an intimate space. Lifeline is committed to promoting the arts in its Rogers Park neighborhood and is an anchor of the Glenwood Avenue Arts District. We aspire to create art that is relevant to our culturally diverse, increasingly youthful neighborhood. Lifeline Theatre – Big Stories, Up Close.
Founded in 1982, Lifeline is known for staging innovative adaptations of great works of fiction as well as commissioning original work. Over the course of thirty years and more than one hundred and fifty productions, Lifeline Theatre has made an indelible mark on the Chicago theatre scene and an invaluable contribution to the theatre world at large. Lifeline’s dedicated artistic ensemble has developed a total of one hundred world premiere literary adaptations and thirteen original plays, two dozen of which have had a life beyond their Lifeline premieres, with over one hundred and fifty subsequent productions spread across more than thirty U.S. states, four Canadian provinces, England, and Ireland. Additionally, two scripts developed at Lifeline Theatre have gone on to U.S. national tours, and nine have been published.

Lifeline Theatre has garnered a total of forty-seven Jeff Awards (Equity and Non-Equity), including fourteen for New Adaptation or New Work, and twenty-one After Dark Awards. 

Lifeline Theatre’s programs are partially supported by Alphawood Foundation; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; CityArts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; The Common Cup; FGMK LLC; Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; The Grover Hermann Foundation; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Ingridion; MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; Netrix LLC; The Pauls Foundation; The Polk Bros. Foundation; S&C Foundation; Sudler Property Management; The Woman’s Club of Evanston; and the annual support of businesses and individuals.

Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Chicago, IL 60626 773-761-4477,

Google Analytics