Lookingglass Theatre Company opens its 30th Anniversary Season with the return of the award-winning “Hard Times”, adapted from Charles Dickens and directed by Artistic Director and Ensemble Member Heidi Stillman , in association with The Actors Gymnasuim. It was first produced at Lookingglass in 2001, and some of the artists involved this season were part of the original production.

The story takes place in post-Industrial Revolution England. In a gloomy fictional small town dominated by mills and factories, art has very little presence. When a travelling circus comes to town, the circus clown manages to get his daughter Sissy (played Audrey Anderson; this is both her Lookingglass and professional debut) admitted to the best school in town. The school headmaster, Mr. Gradgrind (injecting his role with a very precise old-British flare, Raymond Fox is excellent), soon realizes that Sissy doesn’t belong in his school and makes it his business to notify her father in person. But the clown had skipped town, leaving his daughter behind. Mr. Gradgrind kindly offers her a place in his home and his school, alongside his two children, Louisa and Tom. But Sissy is from a different world, the world where imagination rules, the right words are ones that come from the heart, and mathematics is just an abstract subject that can’t be applied to life. Not exactly cut out for school, she’s left to stay home and care for Mr. Gradgrind’s wheelchair-bound wife while he spends increasingly more time out of town as a newly elected member of the Parliament.

The most important person in town is the mill-owner and banker Mr. Bounderby (the bombastic Troy West), a self-proclaimed self-made man. He has an eye on Louisa, so when she reaches an appropriate age [of twenty], he asks her hand in marriage. Mostly joyless Louisa (Cordelia Dewdney), whose only passion is her brother Tom (JJ Phillips), agrees, hoping that this will help advance her brother’s carrier in banking. Some of Dickens’ characters are quite difficult to relate to in part because of their excessive wordiness and overly dramatic demeanor, and Louisa is certainly one of them. Nevertheless, all characters are very well developed, the most entertaining of them being Mrs. Sparsit, Mr. Bounderby’s paid companion. Played by Amy J. Carle, who also plays Drunk Woman and Pufflerumpus, she’s manipulative and sarcastic and infuses her role with just the right amount of drama.

The circus performances are effortlessly woven into the plot (Circus Choreographer Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi), and are like a breath of fresh air in town’s otherwise utilitarian existence. The circus is colorful and joyful, and it’s easy to see the stark contrast between the worlds of art and creativity versus business and hard menial work. Even Louisa starts dreaming of circus in her lowest moments.
Scenic Designer Daniel Ostling created a highly mobile set that’s both imaginative and practical; it provides ever-changing scenery, and the whimsically painted back wall is capable of becoming magically translucent to allow “dreams and memories” to enter the stage.

While the well-to-do townspeople are being bored with their lives, majority of the town’s inhabitants, the poor miners and factory workers, “work day and night with nothing to look forward to but a little rest”. Struggling to stay alive leaves little room for anything else, much less romance, so when miner Stephen Blackpool (David Catlin, who also plays Sleary) asks his workmate Rachael (Atra Asdou, who also plays Mrs. Gradgrind) to spend time with him, she’s far too hopeless to be interested.

All in all, things are as expected: the wealthy run things, the poor have nothing, and a travelling circus is a refuge from it all. If running away with the circus was ever a good option, Tom, who finds himself in trouble with law, doesn’t hesitate for a moment.

“Hard Times” is being performed at Lookingglass Theatre through January 14th. For more information visit www.lookingglass.org.

Published in Theatre in Review

Winner of four Jeff Awards, including Best Production, and fresh off a national tour, Moby Dick, adapted and directed by David Catlin from the book by Herman Melville, returns to the Lookingglass Theatre. The play is produced in association with The Actors Gymnasium, a circus and performing arts training center.


The story is narrated by adventurous Ishmael, a sailor en route to sign up with a whaling ship, Piqued. Ishmael (superbly played by Jamie Abelson at evening performances) first lands in an overcrowded hotel, where the innkeeper casually informs him that due to lack of room he’ll have to share a bed with another fellow. His muscular, tattoo covered bedmate, Queequeg (the absolutely splendid Anthony Fleming III), is a son of a Polynesian island king, who is on his own soul-searching journey. The two men bond and decide to board the ship together.


The rest of the show takes us onto Piqued. The ship is a testosterone infused man-cave; the sailors do what real men are supposed to do: they go out to dangerous sea to hunt down whales in order to obtain whale oil, a valuable commodity at the time. Their jaw-dropping circus-inspired acrobatic fits of agility (choreography by Sylvia Hernandez-Distasi) add to the feel of masculine energy and the everyday struggle to stay alive.


But Piqued’s disheveled and angry Captain Ahab (fiercely played by Nathan Hosner) is not interested in whale oil, he’s got a score to settle: the giant white whale named Moby Dick bit off his leg during their previous encounter. Captain has been at sea for a very long time, and in his insanity he imagines that the white whale represents all the evil in the world, and thus it must be destroyed. It’s pure all-consuming madness!


Costume designer Sully Ratke’s clever use of fabrics play games with our minds: an oversized woman’s skirt swallows drowning men, a vast piece of white silk brushing past our heads is a giant white whale.


The feminine energy in the play is very distinct. The three female actors (Kelley Abell, Mattie Hawkinson, Cordelia Dewdney) play all the female parts as well as the three Fates. They set the mood with their eerie presence and graceful movements, while their beautiful voices provide live score (sound designer/composer Rick Sims). Sometimes they are just lurking around, and other times they are the forces of nature and nature itself. One of them turns into a whale carcass being stripped of meat and drained of oil by sailors in a vaguely sexual way.


That feminine energy is of stark contrast to the mere mortal men’s struggles to survive. It’s Man vs. Nature, and nature can never be conquered. Spoiler alert: in the end, the Ill-fated ship is swallowed by the over-sized skirt. Vengeance is a two-way street.


About the venue: Lookingglass Theatre is housed in Water Tower Water Works, the historic still functioning water station built in 1869, which pumps 250,000 gallons of water to the north side of Chicago every day. Separated from the theatre space by a glass wall, it feels like a time warp, which sets the mood perfectly for this mid-19th century classic. For more information on this show or to purchase tickets, visit www.Lookingglasstheatre.org.

Published in Theatre in Review

Lookingglass Theatre Company announces a partnership with TodayTix—the free mobile app that provides on-demand access to theater tickets—to offer exclusive $25 Lottery tickets to the return of its award-winning production of Moby DickMoby Dick, adapted and directed by Ensemble Member David Catlin, from the book by Herman Melville, in association with The Actors Gymnasium, runs June 7 – September 3, 2017 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson.
 
A limited number of $25 tickets will be available through the TodayTix mobile Lottery for all evening performances of Moby Dick beginning June 7, 2017. The lottery will open every performance day at midnight and all winners and non-winners will be notified 2 - 4 hours before the performance. Lottery winners may pick up their tickets at the Lookingglass box office one hour prior to show time.
 
“We had incredible audiences and sold-out performances during the first run of Moby Dick in 2015,” notes Director of Marketing, Anna Marie Wilharm. “Tickets were in high demand and often gone weeks in advance. We’re excited that our daily ticket lottery partnership with TodayTix will provide our patrons and TodayTix users a chance at securing great seats at a great price, and increase accessibility to this blockbuster show.”
 
Winner of four Jeff Awards, including Best Production, and fresh off a national tour, the critically-acclaimed Moby Dick returns to the Lookingglass stage in this harrowing and intoxicating exploration of revenge, obsession, and destiny.  Madness rages like the angry sea when man pits himself against leviathan in Herman Melville’s epic and poetic tale, furiously reimagined by director David Catlin (Lookingglass Alice). Climb aboard the Pequod with Ishmael, Starbuck, and the intrepid crew on a voyage into the darkest reaches of the human psyche with an insatiably driven Captain Ahab at the helm in reckless pursuit of the legendary white whale.
 
The cast of Moby Dick includes Ensemble Members Kareem Bandealy, Anthony Fleming III and Raymond Fox who return to reprise their roles as Starbuck, Queequeg and Stubb from the critically-acclaimed 2015 production. Also returning to the production are Jamie Abelson (Ishmael – evening performances), Micah Figueroa (Cabaco) and Javen Ulambayar (Mungun). Joining the cast are Kelly Abell (Fate #1), Walter Owen Briggs (Ishmael – matinee performances), Cordelia Dewdney (Fate #3), Mattie Hawkinson (Fate #2) and Nathan Hosner (Ahab).
 
Moby Dick, adapted and directed by Ensemble Member David Catlin, from the book by Herman Melville, in association with The Actors Gymnasium, runs June 7 – September 3, 2017 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. The press opening is Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 pm. The performance schedule is as follows: Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. (except June 8 & 15 and August 3) and 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. (except June 10 & 17) at 7:30 p.m.; and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. (except June 18) and 7:30 p.m. (except June 11 & 18). There is an additional performance on Tuesday, August 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, priced $35 - $80 are available at the box office, by phone at (312) 337-0655, or online at lookingglasstheatre.org.

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Chicago, IL–Lookingglass Theatre Company announces casting for the final two shows of its 2016-2017 season, including the U.S. Premiere of Beyond Caring, written and directed by Beyond Caring in association with Dark Harbor Stories, a company led by Ensemble Member David Schwimmer and Tom Hodges, as well as the remount of the Jeff Award-winning Moby Dick, adapted from the novel by Herman Melvilleand directed by Ensemble Member David Catlin. Single tickets for Beyond Caring and Moby Dick will go on sale on Tuesday, January 17 at Noon and may be purchased through the box office at (312) 337-0665 or lookingglasstheatre.org.

 

The cast of the U.S. Premiere of Beyond Caring includes Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks (Becky), Edwin Lee Gibson (Phil), Wendy Mateo (Susan), Caren Blackmore (Grace) and Keith Gallagher (Ian).

 

The creative team for Beyond Caring includes Ensemble Member Daniel Ostling (scenic and lighting design), Ensemble Member Mara Blumenfeld (costume design), Josh Anio Grigg (sound design and composition) and Amanda Herman (props design). Tess Golden is the Production Stage Manager.

 

The cast of Moby Dick includes Ensemble Members Kareem Bandealy, Anthony Fleming III and Raymond Fox who return to reprise their roles as Starbuck, Queequeg and Stubb from the critically-acclaimed 2015 production. Also returning to the production is Artistic Associate Kasey Foster (Fate 2), along with Jamie Abelson (Ishmael) and Micah Figueroa (Cabaco). Joining the cast are Kelley Abell (Fate 3), Cordelia Dewdney (Fate 1) and Nathan Hosner (Ahab).

 

The creative team for Moby Dick includes Courtney O'Neill (scenic design), Sully Ratke (costume design), William C. Kirkman (lighting design), Artistic Associate Rick Sims (sound design), Isaac Schoepp (rigging design), Amanda Herrmann (props design) and Artistic Associate Sylvia Hernandez-Distasi (choreography).

 

About Beyond Caring and Moby Dick:

The U.S. Premiere of

Beyond Caring

March 22–May 7, 2017

Press opening:  Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 pm

Written and Directed by Alexander Zeldin

In Association with Dark Harbor Stories

Featuring Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks (Becky), Edwin Lee Gibson (Phil), Wendy Mateo (Susan), Caren Blackmore (Grace) and Keith Gallagher (Ian).

 

Unseen. Unheard. Unknown.

 

At the margins of society, on the knife-edge of survival, they work for low wages, in harsh conditions. No safety net. No insurance or protections. No guarantee of work tomorrow.

 

This critically-acclaimed piece, most recently produced at the UK’s National Theatre and re-imagined for Chicago by writer/director Alexander Zeldin, is a gritty portrait of those who cling precariously to the bottom rung of the ladder. Full of life, humor, and tenderness, it sheds light on America’s shadow economy and shines an unflinching spotlight on the incendiary intersection of race and class.

 

Beyond Caring will be produced in association with Dark Harbor Stories. Dark Harbor Stories is a company led by David Schwimmer and Tom Hodges dedicated to producing original stories with a social conscience in theatre, television and film. Lookingglass Ensemble Member David Schwimmer brought this project to Lookingglass, and is working closely with writer/director Alexander Zeldin on the production, and collaborating with Lookingglass to develop the necessary attention and funds for this exciting project.

 

ALEXANDER ZELDIN (Writer/Director)is a writer and director for theatre. He trained on the Jerwood Young Directors course at The Old Vic and has taken part in residencies at the Egyptian Centre for Culture and Art and at Studio Emad Eddin in Cairo. His critically-acclaimed play, Beyond Caring, which examined the effects of zero hours contracts had its World Premiere at The Yard Theatre in Hackney in 2014, before transferring to the Temporary Theatre at the National Theatre in London in 2015. In 2015, Alex was the recipient of The Quercus Trust Award and was appointed as Associate Director at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Beyond Caring toured the UK in 2016 and his new play LOVE just opened at the National Theatre in London.

CAREN BLACKMORE (Grace) is making her Lookingglass debut with Beyond Caring. She was last seen in Court Theatre's production of Electra. Her Chicago theatre credits include: a one woman show, The MLK Project: The Fight For Civil Rights (Writers Theatre), Spill (TimeLine Theatre), Jitney! (Court Theatre), The Joe Tex Story (Black Ensemble Theater), and she has also worked with Pegasus Players, Stockyards Theatre Project, Theater Wit, The Loop Players, Congo Square Theatre Company, eta Creative Arts Foundation and MPAACT. Caren has attended New Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia and is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Eugene O'Neill National Theater Institute

J. NICOLE BROOKS (Becky/Lookingglass Ensemble Member) is an actor, wordsmith, and director. Recent stage credits include the acclaimed comedy Immediate Family directed by Phylicia Rashad (Goodman Theatre; Mark Taper Forum), and Lucas Hnath’s Death Tax (Lookingglass Theatre). She is author of Black Diamond: The Years the Locusts Have Eaten (published by Methuen), Fedra Queen of Haiti (published University of Illinois Press) and has several plays in development. Directing credits include Thaddeus & Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure, Black Diamond, and Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting (Lookingglass Theatre). Prized ribbons: TCG Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, LA Ovations, African American Theatre Alliance of Chicago, Jeff Award Nominations, and Black Theater Alliance Awards.

 

KEITH D. GALLAGHER (Ian) is making his Lookingglass debut. Chicago: Mary Page Marlowe, Marie Antoinette (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Gospel of Franklin, Man in Love (Steppenwolf First Look); Awake and Sing, The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Northlight Theatre); Shining City (Goodman Theatre); Tracks (TUTA Chicago); Arcadia (Court Theatre); The Real Thing (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company). Regional: A Raisin in the Sun (Geva Theatre Center); The Gospel According to James (Indiana Repertory Theatre); The Lieutenant of Inishmore (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); Shining City (Huntington Theatre Company). TV: Chicago Fire; Chicago P.D.; Detroit 187.

 

EDWIN LEE GIBSON (Phil) is making his Lookingglass debut. Off Broadway: Love and Information, U.S. premiere (The Minetta Lane Theatre/New York Theatre Workshop); The Seven (New York Theatre Workshop); The Bellagio Fountain Has Been Known To Make Me Cry (Concrete Temple Theatre, NYC); Turquoise (Dixon Place, NYC); The Death of Bessie Smith (New Brooklyn Theatre); The Diary of Black Men (Fairfield Halls, London). Chicago credits: The Royale (American Theater Company); St. James Infirmary (Congo Square Theatre Company). Awards: OBIE Award - Outstanding Performance. TV: recurring role as Orton Freeman on Law and Order: SVU (NBC); Shameless (Showtime). Film: Mom and Dad (Armory Films/Brian Taylor); Marshall (Chestnut Ridge Prods/ Reginald Hudlin); Blood First (NaRa Films).

WENDY MATEO (Susan) returns to the Lookingglass after last appearing as “Mother-in-Law” in Blood Wedding (2016) and “Maria” in Big Lake Big City (2013). Other Chicago credits include Tumbao: The Misadventures of la Familia Pilón at Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 1700 Theatre and Don Chipotle produced by The Playground Theater. Wendy can also be seen on the many comedy stages around Chicago and at Mas Mejor online with the comedy duo, Dominizuelan. TV credits include: Shameless (Showtime), Chicago P.D. (NBC), and The Exorcist (FOX).

Moby Dick

June 7–September 3, 2017

Press Opening: Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 pm

Adapted and Directed by Ensemble Member David Catlin

 

From the book by Herman Melville

 

In Association with The Actors Gymnasium

 

Featuring Ensemble Members Kareem Bandealy as Starbuck, Anthony Fleming III as Queequeg (2015 Jeff Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role) and Raymond Fox as Stubb, and Artistic Associate Kasey Foster (Fate 2), with Jamie Abelson (Ishmael), Micah Figueroa (Cabaco), Kelley Abell (Fate 3), Cordelia Dewdney (Fate 1) and Nathan Hosner (Ahab).

 

Winner of four Jeff Awards, including Best Production, fresh off a national tour to the Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage and South Coast Repertory, the critically-acclaimed Moby Dick returns to the Lookingglass stage in this harrowing and intoxicating exploration of revenge, obsession, and destiny.

 

Madness rages like the angry sea when man pits himself against leviathan in Herman Melville’s epic and poetic tale, furiously reimagined by director David Catlin (Lookingglass Alice).

 

Climb aboard the Pequod with Ishmael, Starbuck, and the intrepid crew on a voyage into the darkest reaches of the human psyche with an insatiably driven Captain Ahab at the helm in reckless pursuit of the legendary white whale.

 

David Catlin(Adaptor/Director/Ensemble Member) Lookingglass directing credits include: Lookingglass Alice and The Little Prince. Other regional directing credits include: McCarter Theatre (Princeton, NJ), Arden Theatre (Philadelphia), New Victory Theater (NYC), Syracuse Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alliance Theatre (Atlanta) and The Getty Villa (Los Angeles). Other recent directing credits include: The Phantom Tollbooth (DePaul) and Moby Dick (Northwestern University). David teaches acting with Northwestern University’s theatre department.

 

KELLEY ABELL (Fate/Innkeeper) returns to Lookingglass after previous appearances in Peter Pan (A Play) and Moby Dick. Other credits include: Moby Dick (Arena Stage, South Coast Repertory Theatre, and Alliance Theatre); 42nd Street and Fiddler on the Roof (Paramount Theatre); Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play (Theater Wit); Dorian (The House Theatre of Chicago); Bat Boy: The Musical and Titanic (Griffin Theatre). She has also worked with Goodman Theatre, The Marriott Theatre, and Chicago Children’s Theatre, and is a graduate of Northwestern University.

 

JAMIE ABELSON (Ishmael) previously appeared at Lookingglass in the initial run of Moby Dick, as well as Peter Pan (A Play) and Treasure Island (Understudy). Other recent projects include Red Kite Treasure Adventure and Red Kite Blue Sky (Chicago Children’s Theatre); The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Northlight Theatre); Eurydice (Victory Gardens Theater); Scenes from the Big Picture (Irish Theatre of Chicago); As Told by the Vivian Girls (Dog and Pony Theatre Co.); columbinus (Raven Theatre); and Hope Springs Infernal & Dorian (The House Theatre of Chicago). Regional credits include Moby Dick (Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, South Coast Repertory). Jamie holds a BFA in Drama from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. 

 

KAREEM BANDEALY (Starbuck/Ensemble Member)has previously been seen at Lookingglass in Blood Wedding, Moby Dick, The Little Prince, Big Lake Big City, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, and Peter Pan. Select Chicago credits: A Christmas Carol, Rock ‘N’ Roll, Gas For Less, King Lear (Goodman Theatre); The Wheel (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Oklahoma! (Paramount Theatre); The Good Book, The Illusion (Court Theatre); Julius Caesar, Hamlet, The Caretaker, Heartbreak House (Writers Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Edward II, Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); A Disappearing Number, Blood and Gifts (TimeLine Theatre); Othello (The Gift Theatre). Regional: The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Three Musketeers, The Tempest (Illinois Shakespeare Festival); Love’s Labours Lost (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival); Julius Caesar, Stuff Happens (PICT Classic Theatre), and four seasons at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Film: several credits including The Merry Gentleman (dir. Michael Keaton). TV: Chicago Fire (NBC). Kareem is a recipient of the 2011 3Arts Artist Award.

 

CORDELIA DEWDNEY (Fate) returns to Lookingglass with Moby Dick after the National Tour this past year to Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, and South Coast Repertory). Last summer she appeared on Chicago Med. Cordelia is a graduate of Northwestern University with degrees in Theatre and English and a proud alum of the British American Dramatic Academy.

 

MICAH FIGUEROA (Cabaco/Captain of New Bedford Whaling Ship) returns to Lookingglass after appearing in the original production of Moby Dick in 2015, and in Lookingglass Alice. Chicago theatre credits include: Tall Girl and the Lightning Parade (Walkabout Theater); The Winter Pageant (Redmoon Theater); Distance to the Moon (First Floor Theater). Regional theatre credits include: Moby Dick (Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, South Coast Repertory); In the Beginning, Henry IV (Dallas Theater Center); The Farnsworth Invention, Wild Oats (Theatre Three); Coriolanus, Cyrano de Bergerac, Macbeth (Shakespeare Dallas); Titus Andronicus (Kitchen Dog Theater); Sense and Sensibility (Stolen Shakespeare Guild). He earned a BFA from Southern Methodist University and the British American Drama Academy.

 

Anthony Fleming III(Queequeg/Ensemble Member) was last seen at Lookingglass in Moby Dick in 2015 and Lookingglass Alice in 2014, which marked his tenth production of the show and where he completed 555 total performances. Other Lookingglass productions include Big Lake, Big City, Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting, Arabian Nights, 1984, Icarus, Fedra and Race. Select regional theater credits: Ma Rainey with Milwaukee Repertory Theater and Clybourne Park with Arizona Theatre Company. Anthony is a Chicagoan who has been working since 1997 on Chicago stages, including Victory Gardens Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Chicago Theater Company, and Piven Theatre Workshop. 

 

KASEY FOSTER (Fate/Artistic Associate) has been performing, producing, and directing in Chicago since 2004. She recently returned to Chicago after performing in the National Tour of Moby Dick and was newly named an Artistic Associate with Lookingglass. Kasey has appeared regionally at Arena Stage (Washington, D.C.), Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Berkeley Repertory Theatre (CA), and most recently in Chicago with Lookingglass' Treasure Island, and Manual Cinema's Mementos Mori. She sings with Chicago bands: Grood, Babe-alon 5, Old Timey, and This Must be the Band. She has directed/choreographed over thirty original works, and produces an annual series called Dance Tribute. 

 

RAYMOND FOX (Mr. Stubb/Captain Boomer/Captain Gardiner/Ensemble Member) last appeared at Lookingglass in Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure. Off-Broadway/Broadway: Metamorphoses (Second Stage Theatre, Circle in the Square Theatre). Regional Credits: Goodman Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Arden Theatre, South Coast Repertory Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Route 66 Theatre, Hartford Stage, American Repertory Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Meadow Brook Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, Mark Taper Forum, Court Theatre, McCarter Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, First Folio Theatre, Canada’s Stratford Festival and TimeLine Theatre (Blood and Gifts, 2013 Equity Jeff Award for Supporting Actor). Education: Northwestern University and the A.R.T. Institute at Harvard University.

 

NATHAN HOSNER (Captain Ahab) makes his Lookingglass debut. He recently played Lord Aster in the first national tour of Peter and the Starcatcher. Chicago credits include productions with Writers Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Paramount Theatre, About Face Theatre, and First Folio Theatre. Regional credits include productions with American Players Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, New Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Door Shakespeare, and The BoarsHead Theater. Nathan is a graduate of The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. 

 

About Lookingglass Theatre Company

Inventive. Collaborative. Transformative. Lookingglass Theatre Company, recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award, was founded in 1988 by eight Northwestern University students. Now in its 29th season, Lookingglass is home to a multi-disciplined ensemble of artists who create story-centered theatrical work that is physical, aurally rich and visually metaphoric. The Company has staged 66 world premieres, received 116 Joseph Jefferson awards and nominations, and work premiered at Lookingglass has been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Princeton, Hartford, Kansas City, Washington D.C., and St. Louis. Lookingglass original scripts have been produced across the United States. In 2016, Lookingglass received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

 

The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago's landmark Water Tower Water Works opened in June 2003. In addition to developing and presenting ensemble work, Lookingglass Education and Community programs encourage creativity, teamwork and confidence with thousands of community members each year.

 

Lookingglass Theatre Company continues to expand its artistic, financial and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Heidi Stillman, Executive Director Rachel Kraft, Producing Director Philip R. Smith, Connectivity and Engagement Director Andrew White, General Manager Michele Anderson, a 25 member artistic ensemble, 23 artistic associates, an administrative staff and a dedicated board of directors led by Chairman John McGowan of CTC| myCFO (a part of BMO Financial Group) and President Nancy Timmers, civic leader and philanthropist. For more information, visit lookingglasstheatre.org.

 

Published in Buzz Extra
Sunday, 23 November 2014 18:00

We're All Mad Here – Alice at Lookingglass

"But how does one know if they've gone mad?" asks Alice of the elusive Cheshire Cat as he swings on a rail, hanging twenty feet off the ground. "You see, a dog growls when it's angry, and wags its tail when it's pleased," he answers. "Now, I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry." He grins and disappears, leaving a baffled Alice to contemplate the difference between madness and sanity, the similarities they share, and whether or not they might just be one in the same.

Set in the alternate world that exists beyond – or through – the parlor mirror, Lookingglass Alice is based on Lewis Carroll's sequel to the ever-familiar Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Through the Looking-Glass. So instead of going down the rabbit hole, we literally step through the looking-glass into a dreamy (and sometimes nightmarish) world of opposites, nonsense, and whimsy, as if we too have dozed off after a game of chess and awake to find a new dimension waiting for us above the fireplace mantle.

With or without its befitting name, the Lookingglass Theatre couldn't be a more apt setting in which to tell this tale, with its open, industrial structure taking the viewer out of the space of traditional theatre and promising something more immediate and exciting.

Part children's entertainment, part Cirque du Soleil, part vicarious drug trip, Alice takes the audience on a journey simultaneously magical and dark, funny and frightening, alarming and calming, and above all, surreal. Characters have different proportions through the looking-glass, some excessively tall, some uncharacteristically small; one can run fast for hours and wind up in the very same spot from which they started; Red Queens float on umbrellas in the ocean; cats play with oversized balls of yarn (or is it you who are under-sized?); Alice spins so fast on a suspended hoop you don't know which end is her head and which are her legs – the visual equivalent of how both the audience and the heroine feel after their disorienting passage into the world within the mirror.

A very physical show, Alice is the sort of spectacle meant to be enjoyed by all types of audiences. Young children might be best left at home – the loud noises, confusion, and surreality of it all can be a little overwhelming – but it's undoubtable that physical feats like continuous two-person backflips, the lifting and balancing of actors as though they were weightless, and an anxious finale where Alice wraps herself in ropes mid-air and falls without hitting the ground will impress adults, teens, and kids alike.

Remarkably executed by a vastly talented five-person cast, Alice is less a play than it is an experience. It's colorful and unpredictable. What it lacks in plot, it makes up for in intrigue. Where it forgets logic, it remembers absurdity. You may run in place for ninety minutes and end up in the self-same spot, but you'll have gained a gleeful acceptance of your own madness and the insight that our world is not always as it looks.

Lookingglass Alice, directed by David Catlin, is playing at the Water Tower Water Works space at 821 N Michigan Ave through February 15th, 2015.

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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