In Concert

It’s the wild 1930’s in Berlin and it’s anything goes at the Kit Kat Klub where an impish Emcee feasts on making the haunt as alluring as possible to its guests. He loves the boys, he loves the girls and he loves the orchestra. Headliner Sally Bowles leads the cabaret dancers in the playful club where one can phone table to table if interested in another. Bowles is brassy, commanding and she flat out belts, leaving little doubt who runs the show. This is quickly evidenced in her racy opening number “Don’t Tell Mama”. It is a place of decadent carnival where boundaries do not exist and guests are endlessly entertained by its sexy performers. 

American writer Cliff Bradshaw soon arrives via train ride where he meets new friend Ernst Ludwig. The two quickly hit it off. While getting to know each other, Bradshaw reveals he is looking for a place to stay, so Ludwig recommends a boarding house run by Fraulien Schneider. Searching for inspiration for his second novel, Bradshaw visits the nearby Kit Kat Klub where he is opened to a world he never knew existed. 

While Bradshaw and Bowles get to know each other (and then some), Herr Schultz, an elderly German, regularly visits the boarding house where he shows his affections for Schneider by bringing her fruit from the nearby produce store that he owns. Soon Schultz and Schneider agree to marry, while Bowles and Bradshaw become cozier, the two now living together. The club is thriving and all seems well in 1930’s Berlin. 

But the shadow of the Nazi regime is gradually becoming much more apparent. Slowly, the danger of a growing Third Reich is affecting Berlin. Gradually, the carefree mood of many Berlin residents becomes that of one awaiting impending doom. Some sense a mounting tragedy afoot and fear a change for the worse in Germany. 

Yet, the threat is still in its infancy stage, whereas Schultz, a Jew, naively states, “Everything will be fine. After all, I am a German.” At the same time, Schneider fears her association with Schultz will put her business under as the hatred against Jewish-Germans becomes more apparent. 

Cabaret is the gripping account of how a circle of friends and businesses in Berlin are overcome by the inevitable Nazi threat, from the story's hopeful beginning full of modernization and progressive views to its haunting end. 

The production is seamlessly woven together. Throughout the musical, there is an ongoing collocation of dialogue scenes and songs that serve as explanation to the story while a series of distinct cabaret numbers provide a public observation for the times. 

Cabaret continues to attract both new audiences and return visitors more than fifty years after its initial Broadway production, because it has everything – fascinating characters, iconic music, a dazzling look that transports us to a different world that is still incredibly timely and relevant today,” says Artistic Director Linda Fortunato.

Her statement couldn’t bear more truth as the production has won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. 

The casting in Theatre at the Center’s Cabaret is very strong. Danni Smith, who recently impressed theatre goers in the leading role of “Donna” in Marriott Theatre’s Mamma Mia! is sensational as Sally Bowles. Smith’s robust, velvety vocals along with just the right air of confidence make for yet another successful leading role for the fetching stage star. Smith’s astounding performance alone is worth the ticket cost and drive to Munster, Indiana. Yet, the same impressionable effect on the audience can be said for co-lead Sean Fortunato as the mischievous Emcee, who is a pure delight to watch as he captures a changing Berlin within his character most effectively through a well-acted gamut of emotions. We watch on as the whimsical Master of Ceremonies is sincerely affected by what he recognizes is the beginning to the end of an era, yet we see his strength as he bravely presents an amusing appearance for his club-goers to distract from the imminent threat. 

Patrick Tierney (Bradshaw), Craig Spindle (Schultz), Iris Lieberman (Schneider), Christopher Davis (Ernst) and a very capable ensemble round out this talented cast that help in creating a magical Cabaret experience, along with an extraordinary creative team that so well brings the period to life. 

Based on a book written by Christopher Isherwood, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, Cabaret is loaded with wonderful show tunes that include “Perfectly Marvelous”, “The Money Song”, “Married”, "Willkommen", “If You Could See Her” and Bowles highly-charged title song “Cabaret”. 

Well-constructed, finely acted and beautifully sung, Cabaret is an epic theatre experience not to miss.   

Cabaret is being performed at Theatre at the Center (1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN) through June 4th. For show times, tickets and/or more show information, visit www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma, concludes its 2016/17 season with the musical Parade, with book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, co-conceived by Harold Prince.  The Writers Theatre production of Parade is directed by Gary Griffin and features musical direction by Michael Mahler and choreography by Ericka Mac.  Parade runs May 24 – July 2, 2017 in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. 

 

This stirring, Tony Award-winning musical explores the endurance of love and hope against seemingly insurmountable odds, telling the true story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jewish man falsely accused of murder in 1913 Atlanta. Innovative and daring, and filled with soaring music, Parade is a moving love story, a riveting murder mystery, a gripping courtroom drama and a powerful exploration of innocence and naïveté coming face-to-face with ignorance and prejudice.

 

Acclaimed director Gary Griffin, who directed the original Broadway production of Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon in Vegas and the world premiere of his The Trumpet of the Swan at the Kennedy Center, stages an intimate revival of this celebrated musical. With a book by playwright Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) and a score by Brown (The Last Five Years, The Bridges of Madison County) that combines folk, rock, R&B and gospel, Parade ends WT’s 25th Anniversary Season with spectacular impact.

 

“I had the pleasure of being directed by Gary in a Writers Theatre production of Joe Orton's Loot. He is one of my favorite directors and one of my closest friends, and it is a privilege to be in collaboration with him again,” said Artistic Director Michael Halberstam.  “I have enjoyed many, many years of conversation with him over copious glasses of wine discussing masterwork musicals and how best to make them work. I cannot express how happy I am then to be working on supporting Gary’s vision for Parade, a musical that has suddenly become disturbingly relevant given the deeply unsettling swell of anti-semitism.  The Anti-Defamation League recently announced that cases of anti-semitism have spiked 86% in the first quarter of this year, proving the old adage that ‘the more things change the more they stay the same.’

 

“Gary has assembled a first-rate cast with breathtaking vocal prowess and a first-rate design team to create the world in which they bring Mr. Brown and Mr. Uhry’s bravura masterwork to life.  Parade is a fully cohesive musical voyage into the triumph of love and the dangers of what can happen when the fires of hatred are irresponsibly stoked within an unhappy and angry populace. Musically, it defies simple definition while maintaining accessibility and a deep emotional core. It is a fitting way to close the season and it passes a symbolic baton to Trevor, a brand new musical which opens next season and strikes open a whole new adventure of its own.”

 

The cast of Parade includes: Larry Adams (Old Soldier/Judge Roan/Ensemble), Patrick Andrews (Leo Frank), Brianna Borger (Lucille Frank), Jonathan Butler-Duplessis (Jim Conley), McKinley Carter (Mrs. Phagan/Sally Slaton), Devin DeSantis (Britt Craig/Young Soldier/Ensemble), Kevin Gudahl (Hugh Dorsey/Ensemble), Derek Hasenstab (Governor John Slaton/Ensemble), Nicole Michelle Haskins (Minola "Minnie" McKnight/Angela), Caroline Heffernan (Mary Phagan/Essie/Ensemble), Zoe Nadal (Monteen/Ensemble),Jake Nicholson (Frankie Epps/Ensemble), Jeff Parker (Tom Watson/Ensemble), Leryn Turlington (Iola Stover/Ensemble), andJonah D. Winston (Newt Lee/Riley).

 

The creative team includes: Matt Deitchman (Associate Music Director & Piano/Conductor), Scott Davis (Scenic Designer), Mara Blumenfeld(Costume Designer), Christine Binder (Lighting Designer), Ray Nardelli (Sound Designer) and Scott Dickens (Properties Master). Bobby Kennedy is the Dramaturg, David Castellanos is the Production Stage Manager and Nick Moran is the CFM Contractor.

 

Single tickets for Parade, priced $35 - $80, are available online at www.writerstheatre.org, by phone at 847-242-6000, or in person at the box office at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe.

 

PARADE On-stage Seating

For adventurous theatregoers who want to be part of the action, Writers Theatre is offering a limited number of special on-stage seats for every performance of Parade!

 

These special on-stage seats, reachable via curved staircases, will be on a raised platform at the back of the stage so that the audience will fully surround the action on stage. This exclusive vantage point provides audience members an immersive experience of Parade, as the area will be located near the orchestra and will also be used by actors during the performance…

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

American Theater Company (ATC) is proud to announce its Season 33, which kicks off this October with the world premiere of Janine Nabers’ Welcome to Jesus, directed by Artistic Director Will Davis, October 26–December 3, 2017. In the New Year, ATC presents Basil Kreimendahl’s We’re Gonna Be Okay, making its Chicago premiere, January 25–March 4, 2018, directed by Davis. The production premiered as part of Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival of New American Plays. Next spring brings another world premiere to ATC, Carlos Murillo’s Diagram of a Paper Airplane, May 3–June 10, 2018, directed by Bonnie Metzgar. Over the course of the entire season, ATC will host its second Chicago Open Residency Experiment (CORE), a series of week-long residencies for artists of all disciplines.

“At ATC, the artist comes first,” says Davis. “We select seasons of artists and then dialogue with them about the work they need to make and how we can champion it. To us that is the point of the arts institution; we provide a space where artists can interrogate their art and experiment with their work for the good of the American theater. Season 33 is an articulation of those values. As we built the season we've used a phrase I scribbled on the board above my desk as our programming compass. The phrase is: Laugh, Cry, & Hug Your Neighbor. As an institution, we are working on this concept of neighborliness through our support of artists in process, the youth we serve and the work we produce. This year we're presenting two world premieres, a second production and line up of artists in residence that all embrace bold theatricality, questions of identity and interrogations of power and belonging.”

Season subscriptions are on sale now and range from $40-$114, with special pricing available for members under the age of 35. To purchase a subscription or for more information, visit

www.atcweb.org or call the ATC Box Office at 773-409-4125.

ATC remains committed to its partnership with Chicago Inclusion Project, whose work creates inclusive theater experiences that bring together Chicago artists and audiences normally separated by physical ability, gender identity and/or ethnic background. The two companies partner on casting, giving diverse theater artists access to roles they might traditionally have been excluded from. Together with the Chicago Inclusion Project, ATC will continue its commitment to presenting works that boldly reflect the diversity of stories and experiences in America today.

Past world premiere productions at ATC include Stephen Karam’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play The Humans and Ayad Akhtar's Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced, both of which enjoyed acclaimed Broadway runs. In Season 32 ATC produced the regional premiere of Jaclyn Backhaus’ Men On Boats, immediately following its Off Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons; reimagined classic, Pulitzer Prize winner Picnic by William Inge; and will present Dan Aibel’s world premiere of T., an exploration of the competitive ice skating saga between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, later this month.

AMERICAN THEATER COMPANY’S SEASON 33:

World Premiere

Welcome to Jesus

Written by Janine Nabers

Directed by Will Davis

October 26–December 3, 2017

In fictional Hallelujah, TX, football reigns, and the quarterback is king. Janine Nabers’ darkly funny and powerful new play unearths the tyranny of small town life and the power of prejudice to define our fate. Staged in a field of wood chips, about a town in search of some good news, Welcome to Jesus fuses fable and horror in a twenty-first century take on the Southern Gothic tradition.

Chicago premiere

We’re Gonna Be Okay

Written by Basil Kreimendahl

Directed by Will Davis

January 25–March 4, 2018

In the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy addressed the nation, “My fellow citizens: let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out...But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing.” Well, Efran and Leena and Mag and Sul are thinking about doing something. Something big. Straight from Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays, Basil Kreimendahl’s We’re Gonna Be Okay confronts the fears of the American middle class as two families wrestle with macrame, female empowerment and a shared property line.

 

World Premiere

Diagram of a Paper Airplane 

Written by Carlos Murillo

Directed by Bonnie Metzgar

May 3–June 10, 2018

Javier C. is dead, and in his wake are fragments and scraps of his magnum opus mailed mysteriously from New Mexico to his group of ex-friends in New York. Called "an absolutely extraordinary achievement from a writer at the height of his powers” by American Theatre Magazine, Carlos Murillo's Diagram of a Paper Airplane is the first in a trilogy of plays that examine the capacity of friendships to withstand the unimaginable. Director Bonnie Metzgar brings life to a night of mourning and celebration that will leave them wondering if Diagram of a Paper Airplane ever existed at all.

SEASON 33 CORE PROJECTS INCLUDE:

Black Like Me

Adapted and directed by Monty Cole

Based on the book by John Howard Griffin

Kissing

Conceived by Abigail Boucher

Co-created by Abigail Boucher and Carolyn Defrin

With Brock Alter

Dig

By Theodore Germaine

Directed by Gina Marie Hayes

With Avi Roque

TBD Project

About Face Theatre

(saliva) things that i like about my partner that are not their mouth or genitals

By Jasmine Jordan and Valerie Gallucci

Show Boat

Music by Jerome Kern

Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Based on the novel “Show Boat” by Edna Ferber

Directed by Jess McLeod

Join us for a week of experimenting with the size and scope of this beloved musical.

Any of my Enemies

Molly Brennan (Lead Artist)

Diagram of a Paper Airplane

By Carlos Murillo

Directed by Bonnie Metzgar

As part of their process leading up to production, Metzgar and Murillo will receive a CORE pre-production week to explore a key element(s) of the play.

To The Moon

Written by Beth Kander

Artistic collaborators: Allyce Torres, Amanda Long, Arian Thigpen, Sallee Murphy

La Ronde

A reimagining based on the play by Arthur Schnitzler

Directed by Dani Wieder

Choreography by Andy Slavin

FARMED: The Orwell Radio

A song-setting by Trevor Bachman

Inspired by George Orwell's “Animal Farm”

Soot & Linen

By BrittneyLove Smith

SEASON 33 SUBSCRIPTION AND TICKET INFORMATION: 

The American Membership $114 (available until Jan. 31, 2018)

Includes reserved seating for each production

Early Bird 3-Ticket Membership $90 (before August 31, 2017)

3-Ticket Membership $105 (Sept. 1, 2017-Jan. 31, 2018)

Under-35 3-Ticket Membership $60 (available until Jan. 31, 2018)

Early Bird 2-Ticket Membership $60 (before August 31, 2017)

2-Ticket Membership $70 (Sept. 1, 2017-Jan. 31, 2018)

Under-35 2-Ticket Membership $40 (available until Jan. 31, 2018)

All Memberships allow you to choose your performance dates upon purchase. To purchase a subscription or for more information, please contact the ATC Box Office at 773-409-4125 or visit www.atcweb.org.

ARTIST BIOS:

Will Davis is a director and choreographer focused on physically adventurous new work and old plays in new ways. He is also the newly appointed artistic director of American Theater Company(ATC) where he has implemented a new residency program (CORE-Chicago Open Residency Experiment) supporting new ways of making new plays. Recent projects include: Duat by Daniel Alexander Jones for SohoRep. Evita, re-imagined for the Olney Theatre Center, Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus for ATC, Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks, and Playwrights Horizons; Orange Julius by Basil Kreimendahl; Mike Iveson’s Sorry Robot for PS122’s COIL Festival; and two productions of Colossal by Andrew Hinderaker for Mixed Blood Theater and the Olney Theatre Center, for which he won a Helen Hayes award for outstanding direction. Davis has developed, directed and performed his work with New York Theatre Workshop, Clubbed Thumb, the New Museum, the Olney Theatre Center, the Alliance Theatre, the Playwright’s Realm, the Fusebox Festival, New Harmony Project, the Orchard Project, the Ground Floor Residency at Berkeley Rep, Performance Studies International at Stanford University, and the Kennedy Center. He is an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the NYTW 2050 Directing Fellowship and the BAX (Brooklyn Art Exchange) artist in residence program. He holds a BFA in Theatre Studies from DePaul University and an MFA in Directing from UT Austin. Upcoming projects include Charm by Philip Dawkins at MCC.

Janine Nabers is a native of Houston, Texas and a 2013 graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship at Juilliard and winner of the 2014 Yale Drama Series Prize for her play Serial Black Face. She currently writes for Lifetime’s Unreal and Bravo’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce under Marti Noxon. Her play Annie Bosh is Missing premiered in August 2013 at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Janine won the 2013 NYFA Playwriting fellowship and was the 2013-2014 AETNA Playwriting Fellow at Hartford Stage, a 2012-2013 New York Theatre Workshop Playwriting Fellow, and Page 73’s 2011 Playwriting Fellow. Janine is working on commissions from Primary Stages, the Alley Theatre, and Hartford Stage. Her new musical Mrs. Hughes was developed as the 2012 Williamstown Theatre Festival fellowship musical and was part of the 2013 Yale Institute for Musical Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club’s 7@7 series, and the Theatreworks New Works Now Festival.

Basil Kreimendahlis a resident playwright at New Dramatists. Their plays have won several awards, including the Rella Lossy Playwright Award and a National Science Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Kreimendahl has been commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s American Revolutions program, and by Actors Theatre of Louisville for Remix 38 (2014 Humana Festival). We’re Gonna Be Okay had its world premiere at Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival of New Plays in 2017. Their play Orange Julius was developed at the 2012 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and will have its New York premiere at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, in a co-production with P73. Kreimendahl’s plays have also been produced or developed by New York Theatre Workshop, American Theater Company, Victory Gardens Theater, The Lark, La Jolla Playhouse, and Labyrinth Theater Company. They have been a Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow and a McKnight Fellow, won an Art Meets Activism grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and will be a visiting writer at Williams College in 2017. Kreimendahl’s work has been published by Dramatic Publishing and HowlRound. They received their M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 2013.

Carlos Murillo is a Chicago-based, internationally produced and award winning playwright, director and educator of Colombian and Puerto Rican descent. He is a recipient of a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award for his work in the theatre and received a 2016 Mellon Foundation National Playwright Residency Program grant for a three-year residency at Adventure Stage in Chicago. In 2016 he was selected as one of 37 playwrights commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival for their historic American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle. His best known play Dark Play or Stories for Boys premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2007, and has been performed throughout the US, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania. The play appeared in the anthology New Playwrights: Best New Plays of 2007 (Smith & Kraus). His plays have been seen in New York at Repertorio Español, P73, the NYC Summer Playwrights Festival, En Garde Arts, The Public Theater New Work Now! Festival, and Soho Rep; in Chicago at The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Adventure Stage, Collaboraction, Walkabout Theatre, Theatre Seven and The Theatre School of DePaul University; and in Los Angeles at Theatre @ Boston Court, Circle X and Son of Semele. His plays have been commissioned by The Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis, The Goodman, the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Berkeley Rep, South Coast Rep, Steppenwolf, Adventure Stage and the University of Iowa International Writing Program, and developed by The Sundance Theatre Lab, The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, New Dramatists and others. His book The Javier Plays, a trilogy of works including Diagram of a Paper Airplane, A Thick Description of Harry Smith and Your Name Will Follow You Home, was published by 53rd State Press and called “an absolutely extraordinary achievement from a writer at the height of his powers” by American Theatre.

Bonnie Metzgar is a Chicago-based playwright, director, dramaturg and producer. In 2015, Metzgar stepped in as interim Artistic Director of American Theater Company after the death of PJ Paparelli. From 2008-2013, Metzgar served as Artistic Director of About Face Theatre. Recent directing credits include Let Me Down Easy by Anna Deavere Smith starring Usman Ally at American Theater Company, The Secretaries by the Five Lesbian Brothers at About Face and Walk Across America for Mother Earth by Taylor Mac for Red Tape as part of the 2015 Garage Rep at Steppenwolf. Metzgar was invited to develop CJ, a new piece co-created with Jesse Morgan Young for ATC’s 2016 CORE residency program. Her commission for Sideshow Theater’s 2016 Freshness Initiative, Liberty Tree, was given a reading at Victory Gardens last spring. As a member of the Goodman's 2014-15 Playwrights Unit, she wrote 5 More, which was selected for the 2016 Great Plains Theater Conference. Her plays have been finalists for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Festival, and selected for the Great Plains Theater Conference in Omaha. In 2013-2014, Metzgar was awarded the Carl Djerassi Fellowship in Playwriting at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Previously, Metzgar produced the 365 Festival with Suzan-Lori Parks and was Associate Producer at the Public Theater where she founded Joe’s Pub. Metzgar is on the National Advisory Committee for Howlround and has taught at a number of universities including Northwestern, University of Chicago, Purdue, DePaul and Brown.

About American Theater Company

American Theater Company (ATC) challenges and inspires its community by exploring stories that ask the question, "What does it mean to be an American?" ATC’s Ensemble includes Patrick Andrews, Kareem Bandealy, Jaime Castañeda, Kelly O’Sullivan, Tyler Ravelson, and Sadieh Rifai.

American Theater Company is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, the Shubert Foundation, ArtsWork Fund, Lagunitas Breweing Co, Actors’ Equity Foundation,

The Pauls Foundation and Robert & Isabelle Bass Foundation.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

The Greenhouse Theater Center is pleased to announce its 2017-18 Season, kicking off this summer with Artistic Director Jacob Harvey and Elizabeth Margolius’ bold reimagining of Sophie Treadwell's most celebrated play MACHINAL, inspired by the first woman to be executed by the electric chair. MACHINAL will be presented through an educational partnership with North Central College, allowing students to shadow professional actors as the production’s understudy cast. Students will be immersed in every facet of the production, in a program that serves as an extension of classroom work and a springboard into the Chicago theatre community.

Next winter, best-selling author Laurence Leamer's critically acclaimed drama ROSE is back by popular demand! Following a sold-out run during last season's Solo Celebration! Series, celebrated Chicago actress Linda Reiter reprises her role as matriarch Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy in this intimate piece directed by Steve Scott. “Following the success of last year’s series, the Greenhouse is continuing its commitment to solo performance in both its production and education efforts,” comments Artistic Director Jacob Harvey. “We will offer a series of workshops and events throughout the run of Rose, as well as partner with solo artists whose work explores social justice themes to co-produce their work on our stages as supplements to our season.”

The Greenhouse's 2017-18 Season concludes next spring with the Chicago premiere of Marc Acito’s BIRDS OF A FEATHER, directed by Artistic Director Jacob Harvey. Based on one of America’s most banned books, Acito’s hit comedy brings to life the story of the Central Park Zoo’s gay penguins to tell a truly hilarious human story.

Season subscriptions packages are currently on-sale at greenhousetheater.org, in person at the Greenhouse box office or by calling (773) 404-7336. Three-play assigned seating package: $93. Two-play flex pass: $63. Subscribers enjoy discounted tickets, unlimited ticket exchanges, first choice for seats and additional exclusive benefits. Single tickets will go on sale at a later date.

“As one of Chicago’s newest Equity companies, the Greenhouse is thrilled to bring audiences a consciously curated season of true stories. In times of great change, elevating the individual’s journey allows us a deeper understanding of the collective,” comments Artistic Director Jacob Harvey. “This concept also defines our new education and revitalized Trellis Residency Initiative. We are excited to begin growing tomorrow's artists and audiences today.”

The Greenhouse Theater Center’s 2017-18 Season:

August 11 – September 24, 2017

MACHINAL

By Sophie Treadwell

Directed by Jacob Harvey

Movement by Elizabeth Margolius

Presented in association with North Central College

How do you escape the machine? One young woman must break out in this exhilarating reimagining of MACHINAL, the American classic inspired by the first woman to face the electric chair. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, Helen finds a thrill in the arms of a flyby lover. But when reality returns, how far will her fight for freedom take her? And who will pay the ultimate price? 

January 12 – March 11, 2018

ROSE

By Laurence Leamer

Directed by Steve Scott

Starring Linda Reiter

Press opening: Monday, January 15, 2018 at 7:30 pm

An intimate portrait of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Camelot’s “queen mother,” as she retraces the rise and fall of her great family. A break-out hit during the 2016 Solo Celebration! Series following its successful Off-Broadway run, ROSE is based on never-before-heard interviews compiled by distinguished Kennedy biographer Laurence Leamer. 

April 27 – June 10, 2018

BIRDS OF A FEATHER – Chicago Premiere!

By Marc Acito

Directed by Jacob Harvey

It takes two to Tango. Roy and Silo are your typical gay American dads with one noticeable exception: they’re penguins! No strangers to the spotlight, these two Central Park Zoo chinstrap penguins have partnered and adopted an egg, but will they be able to raise little Tango together? BIRDS OF A FEATHER is a heartwarming and surprising tale, based on the true story that became one of the most banned books in the U.S.

Artist Biographies

Sophie Treadwell (Playwright, Machinal) Best remembered today for her acclaimed 1928 expressionist drama Machinal, based in part on the infamous murder trial of Ruth Snyder, Sophie Treadwell was an innovative American dramatist whose career spanned almost 60 years and nearly 40 plays. A relentless experimenter in dramatic subjects, styles and forms, Treadwell was one of a select number of American women playwrights who also actively produced and directed their own works. She was also a professional journalist, and she constantly used her writings to explore women's personal and social struggles for independence and equality. (From: Sophie Treadwell. A Research and Production Sourcebook by Jerry Dickey).

Jacob Harvey (Director, Machinal and Birds of a Feather) is the Artistic Director of the Greenhouse Theater Center, beginning his tenure by launching the organization’s producing arm with the Solo Celebration!, a series of 16 solo plays and events over eight months. He also contributed to the series as a director, helming the Chicago premier of Circumference of a Squirrel, as well as the co-production I Do Today (The Other Theater Company.) Locally, he has taught for American Theatre Company’s Bridge Program, and was named one of Newcity’s “Players 2017.” A freelance director, teaching artist and producer, Harvey was awarded the Bret C. Harte Director/Producer Fellowship for Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s 2013/14 Season; served as Associate Producer and Interim Director of Programming for the Drama Desk Award Winning New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF); and served as the Co-Artistic Director of the Ovation Award-Nominated Mechanicals Theatre Group in Los Angeles. He is also a Producer for Your Theatrics International, and was the Co-Producer of Ladyhawks (NYMF 2013 Best of Fest under the title Volleygirls) and the Associate Producer of Ryan Scott Oliver’s 35MM: A Musical Exhibition. Other regional directing credits include, Mr. Marmalade (The Theatricians), The Shape of Things (Silver Bell Productions) and the world premiere of the new musical The Many Selves of Mia Scott (Carrie Hamilton Theater). He is also the creator of the upcoming musical web series currently in development, The Cycle. He attended the BFA program at Marymount Manhattan College and is a graduate of The Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

Elizabeth Margolius (Movement Director, Machinal) is a stage and movement director with a primary focus in developing and directing new and rarely produced musical theatre, operetta and opera. She has worked with theatres in various capacities throughout the country, including the Santa Fe Opera, Florida Studio Theatre, the Virginia Shakespeare Festival and New York’s Encompass New Opera Theatre. Her Chicago directorial credits include: Uncle Philip’s Coat for Greenhouse Theater, code name: CYNTHIA for FWD Theatre Project, Haymarket: The Anarchist’s Songbook for Underscore Theatre, The Girl in the Train for Chicago Folks Operetta, Goldstar, Ohio for American Theater Company, The Merry Wives of Windsor for Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Assistant Director to Barbara Gaines), Opus 1861 for City Lit Theater, nominated for three Joseph Jefferson Awards, Violet for Bailiwick Chicago nominated for five Joseph Jefferson Awards, among others. Margolius is an alumna of the 2004 and 2005 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in New York, a 2007 recipient of a full directorial scholarship at the Wesley Balk Opera-Music Theater Institute in Minneapolis, a 2009 respondent and workshop artist for the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival, and a 2010 finalist for the Charles Abbott Fellowship. She is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of DirectorsLabChicago. Elizabeth is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Laurence Leamer (Playwright, Rose) Rose is Laurence Leamer’s first play. Leamer is an award-winning journalist and historian who has written 14 books, many of them bestsellers. He has experienced many different lives. As a college student, he worked in a French factory. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal stationed two days from a road. As a young journalist, Leamer worked in a coal mine in West Virginia and covered the war in Bangladesh for Harper’s. His one novel, Assignment, is about drug trafficking in Peru, where Leamer lived for two years. Most of his career Leamer has written nonfiction. His trilogy on the Kennedys – The Kennedy Women, The Kennedy Men and Sons of Camelot – were all New York Times best sellers. John Grisham called Leamer’s most recent book, The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption, “superb…This is a book I wish I had written.” The journalist’s new book, The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought Down the Klan, was published in June. 

Steve Scott (Director, Rose) is the Producer of Goodman Theatre, where he has overseen more than 200 productions; he is also a member of Goodman's Artistic Collective. His Goodman directing credits include Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Horton Foote's Blind Date, Rabbit Hole, Binky Rudich and the Two-Speed Clock and No One Will Be Immune for the David Mamet Festival, Dinner With Friends, Wit, the world premiere of Tom Mula's Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, A Midsummer Night's Dream (co-directed with Michael Maggio) and the 2011 and 2012 editions of A Christmas Carol. He also has directed at Silk Road Rising, American Blues Theatre, A Red Orchid Theatre, Redtwist Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, The Next Theatre Company, and many others. He is the recipient of five Jeff nominations, an After Dark Award, the Illinois Theatre Association's Award of Honor and Eclipse Theatre Company's Corona Award.

Marc Acito (Author, Birds of a Feather) wrote the book of the Broadway musical Allegiance, which New York Newsday recognized for its “well-structured book” and “fully developed characters.” Acito’s comedy Birds of a Feather won Washington D.C.’s Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play. He won the Ken Kesey award for his novel How I Paid for College, which he adapted as a one-man musical starring Alex Brightman. Other projects include A Room with a View (Old Globe and 5th Avenue Theaters), Chasing Rainbows, about the adolescence of Judy Garland (Goodspeed Musicals) and It’s a Secret, a musical in Mandarin for Broadway Asia in China. This June, he’ll direct his rock musical comedy Bastard Jones at the cell theatre in New York. A former commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered, Acito now writes regularly for Playbill and teaches Musical Theater History and Story Structure at NYU. He’s a proud member of the Dramatists Guild, MENSA and Weight Watchers.

About the Greenhouse Theater Center

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

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

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

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

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Try to remember a time before the Internet, before dating sites, before personal ads and instant cameras and you will eventually discover the age-old path of finding love and dating for men and women called "Lonely Hearts Clubs". 

 

In Marriott Theatre’s “She Loves Me", a musical with a book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock, two co-workers at the quaint Maraczek’s Parfumerie shop have unwittingly fallen in love with each other by the “Dear Friend” letters they have sent and received through their lonely hearts club connection. Though Georg and Amalia have not seen even a single photo of the other they each are certain by the written words of the other that they are truly in love and are ready to finally meet. 

 

Alex Goodrich’s Georg, the male half of this love match starts out as a bit of a jerk. Goodrich, who puts forth a very strong performance, makes Georg very sympathetic, albeit a bit of a boor though he is likable to his co-workers. He is earnestly content with his fifteen-year-plus job at the store. Although he has lots of girls who are real friends, it turns out Georg is completely insecure and out of touch with his feelings towards the opposite sex when it comes to romance. 

 

When Elizabeth Telford enters the store as Amalia (who is both seeking employment and unsuspectingly the other half of the lonely hearts club love letters), Georg is utterly irritated by her natural instinct for sales. Georg treats her with disdain even though she is cute and eminently qualified for the job she gets from the boss after selling a new product, a musical cigarette box, in record time. 

 

Both Goodrich and Telford endear you to their stubborn characters over the course of the show. As delivery boy, Arpad, played with youthful cheer, by Grant Kilian says to another clerk at the store with wonder, "Do they like each other?” The other clerk says, " Yes, they like each other very much," to which Arpad says, "Well shouldn't someone tell them?"  

 

Elizabeth Telford really knocks it put of the park emotionally and vocally with the number “Will He Like Me?", as she muses about all the different qualities he may or may not find attractive about her once they finally meet. Also, her genuinely joyous and girlish rendition of "Vanilla Ice Cream" lifts the audience to believe in true love again as Georg, who has already stood her up once, breaking her heart so badly that she cannot return to work that day, delivers a pint of Amalias' favorite vanilla ice cream. The thoughtful gesture makes her happy at his consideration in a way that begins to dimly realize what might be real love despite his earlier disdainful and brutish treatment of her feelings at work.  

 

Yes, it's like a period piece version of " You've Got Mail" that plays with a very modern feel as couples STILL face these challenges trying to find their mate today despite the Internet dating revolution. 

 

(Above) Jessica Naimy as "Ilona" and Jame Earl Jones II as "Sipos"

Jessica Naimy as Ilona steals the show with two of her numbers as the sexy, single gal at the Parfumerie who lets her desire for Mr. Right get in the way of finding her Mr. Right. In “I Resolve”, Naimy sings with genuine force and power that she resolves to let go of her destructive purely sexual relationship with the lothario of the drugstore and rather stand up for the truly lovable and deserving-of-respect woman she really is. In the number “Trip to the Library", Ilona seems to unconsciously know that a trip to a place of higher learning for the evening instead of to the local drinking hole will eventually lead to her meeting a man of substance and intelligence who loves her the way she was meant to be loved. 

 

James Earl Jones II as Sipos, the clerk with a family who will kiss anyone's butt to save his boring but dependable job, delivers a very funny, dry performance and his singing voice is both comical and deeply resounding. Great job!  And David Schlumpf as Steven Kodaly, the womanizing and insensitive clerk who'll sleep with anyone, really makes you want to slap him in the face, but his number “Grand Knowing You" shows the audience his sexist honesty is what finally pushes Ilona over the brink to find her own self-respect again, even if it means being alone for a while. 

 

Shop owner Mr. Maraczek is also well played by Terry Hamilton, as he is able to finely capture both the character’s storminess as that of a demanding boss and the good heartedness that hides beneath his exterior. 

 

The slicked back hair and black tails of The Headwaiter who serves Georg and Amalia at their very first meeting at a "romantic hideaway" is hysterically portrayed by Steven Strafford who has great physical comedy skills with his spot on facial expressions and timing. 

 

Directed and choreographed by Artistic Director Aaron Thielen, “She Loves Me” is a cute love story that features many charming characters and fun numbers including the adorable “Thank You, Madam” a goodbye the store employees sing together whenever a customer leaves the shop.

 

Thank you, madam. 

Please call again. 

Do call again, 

Madam

 

I highly recommend this heartwarming, fresh and fun production which is brought to life by Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s sets, Jesse Klug’s soft and lovely period lighting and especially Sally Dolembo’s really delicious, color-rich costumes for both the leads and the wonderful ensemble of players who portray shoppers in the store. Altogether with this superb cast, "She Loves Me" brings the art of lovemaking in this long past period to life in a delightful modern way. 

 

“She Loves Me” is being performed at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire through June 18th. For tickets and show information click here

 

Published in Theatre in Review
Tuesday, 09 May 2017 13:40

"We're Gonna Die" But We're Not Alone

There was so much energy when I went into The Den Theatre, which I will rightfully chalk up to Haven Theatre Company’s infectious vibe. Upon entering, patrons were greeted with ear plugs before being thrust into a cloud of fog, as though attending a rock show. Curious, yet anxious, the crowd seemed spunky and exhibited a healthy amount of excitement in simply just being present. Unique and bold, “We’re Gonna Die” is the latest Haven Theatre Company production, and it’s engaging from the word “Go”.  

 

“We’re Gonna Die” features a live band, riveting storytelling and even some stand up comedy as the cast share true to life experiences in order to connect with the audience on a subject that not many choose to talk about – death. Its message is direct. Despite our darkest hours and personal tragedies, we are not alone.

 

When the show begins, Spencer Meeks who plays the guitar, gives us a brief history of the play and how it is part of a 12-part series. With his eyeliner meticulously applied, Meeks promptly kicks off the evening with a loud beat. 

 

Soon after, the main singer played by Isa Arciniegas emerges. She talks about her Uncle John and the experiences she shared with him when she was younger. The band breaks out into a song and it is quickly apparent that Isa is a natural entertainer. Arciniegas’ energy is contagious as she runs back and forth on the stage. She proceeds to tell the audience a couple more stories and concludes with a moving song about the death of her father. 

 

Soon, everything comes together. Many people are uncomfortable with death, and to be fair, death is sad. We miss the people we lost and are swiftly enveloped with so many different emotions, first asking ourselves how something so tragic could happen to questioning the fairness in death. As Arciniegas continues to sing, she profoundly exclaims, "We're all going to die!" 

 

In Young Jean Lee's “We’re Gonna Die” it is somehow made okay to be comfortable with death, a point made while jamming along with the show’s kick ass drummer played by Sarah Giovannetti. "We're all going to die!" is repeated over and over as confetti pours out from the ceiling along with balloons everywhere. Simply put, the play is a true celebration of life and a reminder that we all should live each day to the fullest since - we are all going to die. 

 

The talented cast and team for "We’re Gonna Die" includes: Isa Arciniegas (singers), Sarah Giovannetti (band), Jordan Harris (band), Elle Walker (band), Spencer Meeks (band) and Kamille Dawkins (singer u/s). The production team for We’re Gonna Die includes: Josh Sobel (director), Abhi Shrestha (assistant director), Julie Leghorn (stage manager), Krista Mickelson (production manager), Spencer Meeks (music director), Claire Chrzan (light designer), Izumi Inaba (costume designer), Mike Mroch (scenic designer), and Jon Martinez (choreographer).

 

Well-directed by Josh Shobel, “We’re Gonna Die” is an interesting play that sheds light on a scary subject. It is a play that really gave me a chance to reflect, as I am sure would be true with the rest of its audience. All in all, I left smiling and excited that I went to the newly renovated Den Theatre (1335 North Milwaukee) to see this very original and thought-provoking play. I recommend checking it out while you can as it will be performed through June 4th. Tickets are priced at $18 and can be purchased at www.haventheatrechicago.com

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Set in the 1930's, this melodrama has all the ingredients you'd expect, sex, drugs, murders and the quick, clever banter of women fighting for their lives in a film noir-colored seedy underworld of a dance hall/nightclub/whorehouse.

 

In the latest Hell in a Handbag production "Lady X - The Musical", director and writer/composer David Cerda plays Scarlet stunningly dressed in delicious blood-red with all of the oomph, hilarity and confident power of his Joan Crawford character. Cerda really is the sun around which all of the talented planets in his cast revolve and he does it with great force and superb dry humor that trumps all and anchors the show with fear of the ultimate female "mob boss" that Hell in a Handbag fans have come to love and expect. Like Cerda says at the end of the show, "Hell in a Handbag is not just a theatre company it's a cult!" 

 

Christea Parent as Mary Dwight, is Lady X whose innocent younger sister comes to town to finish school but ends up tragically caught in the champagne filled "make it rain" dollars mentality. Christea Parent is unbelievably on point as the leader of the dames, the only one with a real purpose in life and the brains enough to stay out of the clutches of the gross "john” and the abusive bosses who take over the club by murdering the previous owner. 

 

Christea Parent, with the help of Kate Setzer Kamphausen’s fabulous period costumes, Keith Ryan’s hysterical and yet perfectly designed and coiffed wigs and Sydney Genco’s detailed makeup designs, (right down to the different types of fake eyelashes for each character) dominates the show with her singing, dancing and fast-talking character reminiscent of Barbara Stanwyck. I was dazzled by her mastery of the period acting while keeping her character both funny and deserving of compassion at every level.  

 

Almost all of my Hell in a Handbag fave performers were featured well in this production like Ed Jones, as Estelle, the "oldest whore" in the bunch. Jones is hysterical as always with his slightly breathy, tongue-in-cheek, sympathetic "grandmom” character of the group. Estelle, despite her age has found her perfect baby boy lover in the young Val, played with adorable youthful energy by another Handbag regular, handsome Chazie Bly. Their duet, “A Lovely Pair”, got some of the biggest laughs in the show's numbers and the perfect casting made their May/December romance absolutely understandable and even enviable. 

 

Caitlin Jackson, who blew me AWAY as “Bette, LIVE at the Continental Baths” a few months ago at Theater Wit is Gabby. Her aging and wise Betty Boop-style character is fully formed, lovable and again Jackson brought down the house with her amazing voice during the showstopper “Flim Flam Floozy”.

 

 Elizabeth Lesinski another Hell in a Handbag regular does an amazing job in her role, her comedic touch as perfect as ever. 

 

Wide-eyed director Steve Love enters the show to co-star as Betty Dwight, Mary’s naive kid sister who Mary is trying to keep in school and off the streets. Love is a breath of fresh air in the snake pit of despair these women swim in as the hopeful innocent, tap dancing her way into the audience’s hearts. 

 

Laura Coleman, one of the women playing a man characters is really funny and sharp as Frank Gorham, the attorney seeking justice of his own while Adrian Hadlock, also plays several characters and is really ingenious in his multi-layered portrayals of Crandall, Louie and the Judge.

 

“Lady X” has so many fun and wonderful twists and turns, it would be shame to spoil them all by giving them away, but suffice it to say David Cerda has once again created a whole new world all his own where the lines between male and female, innocent and guilty are marvelously blurred to show the vulnerability of all humankind when pressed to fight for their lives, livelihood and self-respect.

 

Cerda’s play is full of belly laughs from beginning to end and contains several very touching song numbers, like white picket fence, flower-filled "The House on the Hill", which all the women dream of retiring to, the song rounding out the hilarity with genuine sentiment. 

 

"Lady X" is destined to become another Hell in a Handbag hit.  

 

I highly recommend “Lady X"  for ladies , gentlemen and flim flam floozies everywhere seeking to escape from the horrors of the current political landscape facing the LGTBQ community and instead be surrounded by a joyous, celebration of strong women from all walks of life and the dangers they faced in the 30's as well as the dangers they face now.

 

“Lady X - The Musical" is being performed at Mary’s Attic in Andersonville through June 17th. For more show information or to purchase tickets visit http://www.handbagproductions.org/.   

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Chicago’s Akvavit Theatre is pleased to announce casting for the U.S. premiere of Rhea Leman’s wild black comedy HITLER ON THE ROOF, a play for two clowns starring Amy Gorelow and Jay Torrence. Co-directed by Co-Artistic Director Kirstin Franklin* and Associate Amber Robinson*, HITLER ON THE ROOF will play a limited engagement June 21 – July 9, 2017 at the new Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice in Chicago. Tickets will be available Friday, May 5 at www.chicagonordic.org. The press opening is Thursday, June 22 at 7:30 pm.

 

This prescient 2011 Danish play finds the Nazi propagandist Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Amy Gorelow) and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl (Jay Torrence) doomed to a perpetual afterlife in which to confront their pasts. Locked deep down inside the present day Führerbunker, the two engage in cunning feats of denial, manipulation and pure slapstick. 

 

Written during an alarming rise of Danish Nationalism in 2011, this play is a timely reminder of the consequences of selling lies as truth and propaganda as art. A favorite of audiences and critics alike, HITLER ON THE ROOF’s original production toured Denmark for two years with the company Folketeatret, winning the prestigious Reumert award for Best Leading Actress. The English language version is scheduled to tour Europe in 2017.

 

The production team for HITLER ON THE ROOF includes: Chad Eric Bergman* (set design), Piper Hubbell Robinson (costume design), Emma Deane (lighting design), Nigel Harsch* (sound designer), Letitia Guillaud (properties design), Madelyn Loehr (production manager), Mark Litwicki* (technical director), Bernadette Hagen (technician) and Margaret Bystrek (stage manager).

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

 

Title: HITLER ON THE ROOF

Playwright: Rhea Leman

Directors: Co-Artistic Director Kirstin Franklin* and Associate Amber Robinson*

Cast: Amy Gorelow (Dr. Joseph Goebbels) and Jay Torrence (Leni Reifenstahl).

 

Location: Strawdog Theatre Company,1802 W. Berenice, Chicago

Dates: Preview: Wednesday, June 21 a 7:30 pm

Regular run: Friday, June 23 – Sunday, July 9, 2017

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 4 pm. 

Tickets: Previews: $10. Regular Run: $25. Students/seniors/industry $15. Tickets will be available Friday, May 5 at www.chicagonordic.org.

 

*Denotes Akvavit Theatre company members.

 

Artist Biographies

 

Rhea Leman (Playwright) was born and raised in New York City where she studied dance and theater before moving to Denmark in 1981. There, she formed and directed her theater company, Teater Tango until 1998. Since then, she has been working as an independent playwright, screenwriter as well as theater, radio and TV director. Her most recent awards include; The Rosenbergs, chosen as best opera of 2015 by CphCulture, in 2014 the Danish Committee for the Performing Arts awarded her for her direction of Tomas Lagermand’s play, The Story Behind the Wall and in 2013 she received the Allen Prize from the Danish Screen and Stage writers Guild for “excellent dramatic writing.” The Reumert Committee nominated Leman for best playwright of 2013 for her play about the global financial crisis, Gorilla. In 2003, for a four-year period, Leman was appointed by the Danish Cultural Minister as the chairwoman of The Danish Theater Council and as a member of The Danish Arts Council. In 2009, Leman formed Dramafronten, a platform for new play development and presentation and since then she has worked as artistic director towards promoting and producing new Danish plays in new ways and new places. Her own dramatic writings concentrate on very serious subjects presented in humoristic ways. 

 

Kirstin Franklin (Co-Director) has collaborated with many theaters across the country including: The Guthrie, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Asolo Rep, Pangea World Theatre, NY Fringe, Northlight, Urbanite and Raven Theatre, among others. Joining Akvavit in 2011, Kirstin's credits with the company include: Red and Green, Kokkola, Autumn Dream, Mishap!, Blue Planet and Nothing of Me, along with many staged readings. In her spare time Kirstin teaches theatre and acting at various colleges across Chicago. Originally from Colorado, Kirstin holds a BA from St. Olaf College and an MFA in acting from the FSU Asolo/Conservatory.

 

Amber Robinson (Co-Director) is a director, actor and devisor, and a member of TUTA Theatre in addition to Akvavit. Most recently, Amber performed in New York at Roundabout and The Signature Theater with Emma Stanton's award-winning play No Candy. In Chicago, Amber has worked with many storefront companies including Strange Tree, Forks & Hope, Strawdog, Collaboraction, Redmoon and Emerald City, as well as directing several projects for Grey Ghost Theatre, of which she is a co-founder. Amber is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and the Moscow Art Theatre's American Studio.

 

Amy Gorelow’s (Dr. Joseph Goebbels) favorite roles include Ranevskaya (The Cherry Orchard), Margherita (Low Pay? Don’t Pay), Bottom (Midsummer), Peg (Crashing With Flamingos), Witch 2 (Macbeth), Lydia (All My Sons), Katherine of Aragon (Six Dead Queens), Dottore (Lust, Lies, and Marriage), Tragedian/Gertrude (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead), Norma (Norma and the Maniac) and Masha (The Seagull). The theatres where she has worked include Metropolis, the Towle, Eclectic, Filament, Teatro Luna, Bailiwick and Piccolo, where she is a member. She has been a pirate clown at Navy Pier, and her bass-playing may be heard in several productions and podcasts. www.amygorelow.com.

 

Jay Torrence (Leni Reifenstahl) is a writer/performer/director and a founding member of The Ruffians. His playwriting and performance credits include Ivywild, Burning Bluebeard and Roustabout: The Great Circus Train Wreck (Awarded the John W. Schmid After Dark Award for Outstanding New Work and the After Dark Award for Outstanding Production). Jay has had the privilege to perform with 500 Clown, The Hypocrites, Redmoon, Theater Oobleck and The Neo-Futurists. where he was an ensemble member for twelve years and the former Artistic Director. He was a recipient of an Orgie Award for artistic direction and was named one of the “Top 50 Players in Chicago Theatre” by Newcity. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of British Columbia and studied under master clown Philippe Gaulier. 

 

About Akvavit Theatre

 

Akvavit Theatre is haunted by Nordic visions: deep forests and ice-blue seas, the patience of the glacier, the sudden fury of the volcano, the arctic light and silence. Seeking the universal through the voices of contemporary Nordic playwrights, Akvavit Theatre is a kind of homecoming, a connecting back to the lands whose people and cultures have for generations been a part of the great prairies of North America that we call home. And like our namesake beverage, Akvavit brings a “strong spirit” to the work that we produce. Skål, Skál, Kippis! For additional information, visit www.chicagonordic.org

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Following hit performances of I Am My Own Wife and The Temperamentals, About Face Theatre concludes its 2016-17 Season with the Chicago premiere of Pulitzer Prize nominee Tanya Barfield’s contemporary love story BRIGHT HALF LIFE, directed by AFT Artistic Associate Keira Fromm, playing May 26 – July 1, 2017 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at aboutfacetheatre.com, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at Theater Wit Box Office. 

 

BRIGHT HALF LIFE will feature AFT Artistic Associate Elizabeth Ledo and Patrese McClain.

 

Off-Broadway hit and winner of the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Best Play, BRIGHT HALF LIFE charts the complexity of commitment, relationships, and marriage as it follows the ups and downs of a modern lesbian couple. Their story is told through a series of fast-moving, fragmented memories – from elevator rides as strangers to steamy workplace romances to heartache to building a family.

 

“I’m excited to feature Tanya Barfield’s work, a fresh counterpoint to this season’s historical pieces,” comments Artistic Director Andrew Volkoff. “Tanya’s language is muscular and sparkles, but it was her inventive structure that captured me.  She’s created a verbal tilt-a-whirl for the audience, echoing the ins and outs of every modern relationship that I think will speak to everyone who’s ever been in love.” 

 

The production team for BRIGHT HALF LIFE includes: AFT Artistic Associate William Boles (scenic design), Melissa Ng (costume design), Chris Binder (lighting design), Christopher Kriz (sound design) and Helen Lattyak (stage manager).

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

 

Title: BRIGHT HALF LIFE

Playwright: Tanya Barfield

Director: AFT Artistic Associate Keira Fromm

Cast: Elizabeth Ledo (Erica) and Patrese McClain (Vicky).

 

Location: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Friday, May 26 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 27 at 7:30pm and Sunday, May 28 at 3 pm

Regular run: Friday, June 2 – Saturday, July 1, 2017

Curtain Times: Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Wednesday, May 31; there will be an added 3 pm performance on Saturday, July 1 at 3 pm. 

Tickets: Previews: $20 adults, $10 students and seniors. Regular run: $40 adults, $20 students and seniors. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are currently available at aboutfacetheatre.com, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at Theater Wit Box Office.

 

Artist Biographies

 

Tanya Barfield’s (Playwright) Bright Half Life was the winner of the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Drama. Her play Blue Door (South Coast Rep, Playwrights Horizons) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and The Call premiered at Playwrights Horizons in co-production with Primary Stages and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Tanya wrote the book for the Theatreworks/USA children’s musical, Civil War: The First Black Regiment, which toured public schools regionally. Other work includes: Feast (co-writer, Young Vic/Royal Court) and Of Equal Measure (Center Theatre Group), Chat (New Dramatists’ Playtime Festival), The Quick (New York Stage & Film). Short plays include: Medallion (WP Theater/Antigone Project), Foul Play (Royal Court Theatre, Cultural Center of Brazil), The Wolves and Wanting North (Guthrie Theatre Lab, named Best 10-Minute Play of 2003).  A recipient of a Lilly Award, the inaugural Lilly Award Commission and a Helen Merrill Award, Tanya is a proud alumna of New Dramatists and a member of The Dramatist Guild Council.

 

Keira Fromm (Director) is a Jeff Award nominated director, a casting director and a teacher based out of Chicago. Favorite recent directing credits include: How the World Began (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble,) A Kid Like Jake (About Face Theatre), Luce (Next Theatre), Charles Ives Take Me Home (Strawdog), The How and the Why (TimeLine Theatre), Broadsword (Gift Theatre) and Fallow (Steep Theatre). Keira is an Artistic Associate with About Face Theatre. She received her MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University and is a proud member of SDC. She is also a frequent guest director at DePaul as well as the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Keira currently directed the well-received Chicago premiere of The Columnist with American Blues Theater.  

 

About Face Theatre (Andrew Volkoff, Artistic Director) creates exceptional, innovative, and adventurous theatre and educational programming that advances the national dialogue on sexual and gender identity, and challenges and entertains audiences in Chicago and beyond.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Kaye Winks has been a token black for as long as she can remember.

 

In her new one-woman show Token, Winks shares her hilarious and often cringe worthy adventures in being that lone black person in a world of white.

 

Through her colorful portrayals of family, friends, strangers and foes, Winks offers a comic and ironic look at what it's like to be the token black person.

 

But white people aren't her only target. Winks also casts a smart, funny and sometimes sobering lens on class clashes within the black community.

 

"Token is unapologetically un-PC, but it's fair in its political incorrectness because I pick on everyone equally," says Winks. "The show actually brings people together by 'telling it like it is.'"

 

Don't miss Winks' hilarious, 60-minute takedown of the race discussion through the voices and stories of 30 characters we've all met at some point in our lives.

 

Token, directed by Schoen Smith, will be presented Fridays May 19-June 9, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at Judy's Beat Lounge at the Second City Training Center, 230 W. North Avenue, 2nd Floor, Chicago. 

 

Tickets are $13. For tickets and information, visit secondcity.com or call

(312) 337-3992.

 

Token information

 

Kaye Winks has been a token black since the day she was born in Naperville, Illinois to black Republicans. Today she is a stage and screen actress, writer, part-time funny person and full-time cat person. Winks trained at the Moscow Art Theater's Stanislavsky School in association with the American Repertory Theater and Harvard University. Her improv training was at the Second City Chicago. She also studied physical comedy and clown with world-renowned French master teacher, Philippe Gaulier. She has been featured in national commercial and print campaigns for Honda, Sony and Hot Pockets among others. She has recently returned to Chicago following a six-year stint in LA.

 

Schoen Smith (director) is an actress, writer, producer and director. In March, she directed a sold-out, one-night only performance of Token as part of Collaboraction Theatre Company's Gender Breakdown Lounge series. She also premiered her original spoken word piece Hands Up at Collaboraction's 2016 PEACEBOOK Festival. Before moving to Chicago, she was Producing Director for DOMA Theatre Company in Los Angeles, and also produced the hit play Elevator in the inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival. She is a co-producer on the award-winning documentary about homeless youth, American Street Kid, which won Best Social Impact Film at the Hollywood Film Festival and People's Choice Award and Power in Film Award at The Beloit International Film Festival this year. She is the Director of Development for Collaboraction and the VP of Development for Venture Hill Entertainment, LLC.

 

For more, visit kayewinks.com or follow Winks on Twitter and Instagram: @kayewinks #tokenblack.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

 

 

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