Home

First Floor Theater open its sixth season with the world premiere of Leah Nanako Winkler’s explosive satire of the classic white American family drama, TWO MILE HOLLOW, directed by Artistic Director Hutch Pimentel. TWO MILE HOLLOW will play October 8 – November 4, 2017 at The Den Theatre, 1333 N Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are on sale now at firstfloortheater.com
 
The cast includes First Floor company member Aurora Adachi-Winter with Jazmín Corona Kai Ealy, Deanna L. Myers and Jose Nateras.
 
When the Donnellys gather to divide their belongings after the sale of their oceanfront mansion, both metaphorical and literal storms are brewing. As this famous, longing-to-be-famous and completely messy Caucasian family comes together with their POC personal assistant, Charlotte, some really really complicated and totally unique secrets are revealed over white wine. A satirical takedown coupled with moments of disorienting sincerity, TWO MILE HOLLOW explores the age old genre of plays about affluent white families retreating to their waterfront homes to battle it out with brutality, awe and compassion. Only this time, none of the white characters are played by white actors. 
 
The production team for TWO MILE HOLLOW includes Arnel Sancianco (scenic design), Virginia Varland (costume design), Dan Friedman (lighting design), Sarah D. Espinoza (sound design), Claire Stone (props design), Carol Ann Tan (dramaturg), Cole von Glahn (production manager) and Julie Leghorn (stage manager).

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

Title: TWO MILE HOLLOW
Playwright: Leah Nanako Winkler
Director: Artistic Director Hutch Pimentel
Cast: First Floor company member Aurora Adachi-Winter (Charlotte), with Jazmín Corona (Blythe), Kai Ealy (Christopher), Deanna L. Myers (Mary) and Jose Nateras (Joshua).
 
Location: The Den Theatre, 1333 N Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago
Dates: Previews: Sunday, October 8 at 8 pm and Tuesday, October 10 at 8 pm
Regular Run: Thursday, October 12 - Saturday, November 4, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm.
Tickets: Previews: Pay What You Can. Regular Run: $10 - $2. Tickets are on sale now at firstfloortheater.com.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Following a sold-out engagement at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre this spring, actor and magician Brett Schneider’s hit one-man show COMMUNION: An Evening of Magic, returns to Chicago for three performances only August 4 – 6, 2017 at The Den Theatre’s Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets, priced at $20, are currently available at thedentheatre.com.
 
Have you ever wished you could know what someone else is thinking? What if you could? COMMUNION: An Evening of Magic is a 70-minute performance that explores magic as a proxy for human connection, and a celebration of our desire to better understand one another. Highly interactive and unconventional, COMMUNION blends world-class magic, sleight of hand and psychological suggestion with live participation from the audience. No two performances are alike.  For additional information, visit brettschneidermagic.com
 
Schneider’s previous work has received critical praise from across the U.S.:
 
“Schneider is captivating... his rapport is winning, his routines are confident, and 
he’s great at generating anticipation... you’ll need to see this.” 
–The Washington Post
 
“The show dips its toes into the realm of actual magic... some quite elaborate onstage magic from 
designer Brett Schneider involving disappearances, levitations and the like.”
--The Chicago Tribune
 
“…a highly intelligent and vulnerable actor and a first-rate magician.” 
–Time Out Chicago
 
“A magnificent central performance... [Brett Schneider] has a casually charismatic stage presence that blends the inner power of a Robert Mitchum 
with the sex appeal of a James Dean... Schneider’s ability to communicate and make intimate contact with the audience is its own kind of magic.”
–The Hollywood Reporter
 
“Handsome professional magician ‘Great’ (Brett Schneider) dazzles crowdswith his amazing card tricks… 
Schneider is a charismatic and appealing performer, impressive as both an actor and a magician.”
 –LA Weekly
 
PRODUCTION DETAILS:
 
Title: COMMUNION: An Evening of Magic
Written and performed by: Brett Schneider
 
Location: The Den Theatre’s Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Dates: Friday, August 4 – Sunday, August 6, 2017
Curtain times: Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 7 pm
Tickets: $20. Tickets are currently available at thedentheatre.com.
 
About Brett Schneider

Brett Schneider is an actor, magician and illusion designer. Brett has been performing magic professionally for over 20 years and is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. His work has received numerous awards and citations and he was a finalist in World Magic Seminar. Recently, Brett starred in and created the illusions for the Goodman Theatre’s hit production of The Magic Play. In addition to magic performance, Brett also works as a magic consultant for theatre, television and film. His theatrical work has been twice nominated for a Jeff Award and has appeared in venues such as The Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and The Roundabout Theatre in New York. His work has also been incorporated into TV shows, music videos, short films and features. For additional information, visit brettschneidermagic.com.
 
About The Den Theatre

Artistic Director Ryan Martin opened The Den in 2010 with a single theatre space. Seven years later, The Den boasts five intimate and unique theatres on two floors ranging from 50 – 200 seats, as well as two additional spaces primarily used for classes and rehearsals. The Den is also equipped with two bars enveloped by a never-ending field of lounge space for audiences and like-minded culture hounds to drink, talk, read, watch, think, listen and live. The Den is home to five resident theatre companies including First Floor Theater, Haven Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre, Irish Theatre of Chicago, and The New Colony. Hundreds of other companies from Chicago and beyond have also called The Den home, utilizing its theatres, studio space and easily convertible cabaret space to accommodate a stream of programming, including plays, musicals, film screenings, classical and jazz performances, dance, improv and stand-up, seminars and speaking engagements. For additional information, visit www.thedentheatre.com.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre
Thursday, 08 June 2017 02:27

Griffin's "Ragtime" Done Right

In 1996 Ragtime made its stage debut in Toronto and a year later it found itself making waves on Broadway. Based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Dotorow, the musical, with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, kept gaining momentum winning thirteen Tony Awards in 1998. Now, to close out its 2016-2017 season, Griffin Theatre Company reimagines the modern classic, thanks to the creative minds of director Scott Weinstein and Matt Deitchman, who adds new music orchestrations to the mix.


Taking place in New York City, Ragtime takes us back to the turn of the century, beginning in 1906, where three families who couldn’t be more different are followed – a young African American couple, a recently immigrated Jewish father and daughter and a privileged white family. As the story unfolds, the families come across one another, but in doing so, and along the way, we see the vast difference in treatment each receives as Ragtime touches on social justice, race relations and immigration. With plenty of parallels in today’s America, Ragtime serves as not just an entertaining musical, but also as a lesson to which we can all learn from.


Throughout the story we also meet a handful of influential historic figures including Henry Ford, Harry Houdini, J.P. Morgan and Booker T. Washington and are reminded of the impact each had made in a rapidly changing America.


Filled with many lively characters such as Coalhouse Walker JR (admirably played by Denzel Tsopnang) who brings "ragtime music" alive with his jazzy Harlem-styled piano playing and Tateh (played with great zest and sentiment by Jason Richards), the colorful Jewish immigrant who just wants to build a life for his daughter, this is a musical that constantly keeps one engaged.


Katherine Thomas makes quite an impression in her debut for Griffin Theatre as Coalhouse Walker’s love interest Sarah particularly shining in numbers “Your Daddy’s Son” and “President”. Laura McClain as Mother also impresses and moves the house during her rendition of “Back to Before”. Other standouts performances include Joe Capstick who undertakes a handful of roles including Houdini, Frederick Harris as Booker T. Washington, a very funny Caitlin Collins as Eveyln Nesbit and an ensemble that truly delivers in every way.


Imaginatively staged at Den Theatre’s Main Theatre, the venue holds a new look as it is transformed into a theatre in the round, the audience surrounding the action. A ragtime band is present throughout the show, two pianos, a clarinet (Dan Hickey) and an occasional flute to giving us a newly-orchestrated chamber version behind the music direction of Jermaine Hill and Ellen Morris, each of whom mans a piano throughout.


There is a reason that Ragtime has won so many awards and has been revived so often by numerous theatre companies. Simply put, the music is outstanding, it’s story is educational as it is entertaining and its message is timeless. Griffin Theatre does justice to this definitive production putting forth a commendable cast, an inviting set, polished music production and lighting and spot on costumes that throw the audience back in time to 1906.


Recommended.


Ragtime is being performed at Den Theatre’s Main Stage and has been extended through July 22nd. For this quality production tickets are a bargain at just $39. For tickets and/or more show information visit www.griffintheatre.com.

Published in Theatre in Review

Firebrand Theatre, the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage, is pleased to announce casting for its inaugural production, the Chicago premiere of LIZZIE, the rock musical based on the true-life story of accused axe-murderess Lizzie Borden. LIZZIE will play November 11 – December 17, 2017 at The Den Theatre's Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Single tickets for LIZZIE are currently on sale at firebrandtheatre.org. Season subscriptions (including 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL) are currently available. The press opening is Tuesday, November 14 at 7:30 pm.
 
LIZZIE will feature Liz Chidester as Lizzie, Leah Davis as Bridget, Jacquelyne Jones as Alice and Camille Robinson as Emma. The late night cast/understudies, who will appear in four 11 pm performances, include Kyrie Anderson as Lizzie, Becca Brown as Emma, Amanda Horvath as Bridget and Elle Walker as Alice.
 
Directed by Victoria Bussert with music direction by Julia A. Miller and Andra Velis Simon and choreography by Janet Louer, LIZZIE features music by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, lyrics by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner, book by Tim Maner, additional music by Tim Maner, additional lyrics by Alan Stevens Hewitt, based on an original concept by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner with orchestrations by Alan Stevens Hewitt. 
 
"Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, gave her father forty-one." So goes the nursery rhyme describing the crime of the century that took the nation by storm when Lizzie Borden murdered her parents with an axe in 1892. Or did she? LIZZIE is a musical that reimagines that bloody legend with four women fronting a female rock band. LIZZIE is American mythology set to a blistering rock score with rage, sex, betrayal and bloody murder. 
 
"We thought casting Lizzie would be extremely difficult since the skillsets needed are so specific and challenging – yet it turned out to be the easiest casting I've ever done because Chicago is overflowing with talented women,” comments Founder and Artistic Director Harmony France. “It became immediately clear that one cast was not enough. Our regular Lizzie cast is going to blow you away, but our understudies are so incredible that we decided to add four special late-night performances so audiences can also enjoy their talents. Looking to the future, Firebrand will strive to empower both women and men, but for Lizzie we wanted to come out of the gate and flood the stage, the band and backstage with women in a way that hasn't been done before. There isn't a better show to do that with than Lizzie."
 
The production team for LIZZIE includes: Eleanor Kahn (scenic design), Charlotte M. Yetman (costume design), Maya Michele Fein (lighting design), Victoria Deiorio (sound design), Jeff Herrmann (props design) and Danielle Stack (production manager).
 
PRODUCTION DETAILS:
 
Title: LIZZIE
Music: Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt
Lyrics: Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner
Book: Tim Maner
Additional Music: Tim Maner
Additional Lyrics: Alan Stevens Hewitt
Based on an original concept by: Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner
Orchestrations: Alan Stevens Hewitt
Director: Victoria Bussert
Music Directors: Julia A. Miller and Andra Velis Simon
Choreography: Janet Louer
 
Cast: Liz Chidester (Lizzie), Leah Davis (Bridget), Jacquelyne Jones (Alice) and Camille Robinson (Emma).
Late Night Cast/Understudies: Kyrie Anderson (Lizzie), Becca Brown (Emma), Amanda Horvath,  (Bridget) and Elle Walker (Alice).
 
Location: The Den Theatre's Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Dates: Previews: Saturday, November 11 at 8 pm and Sunday, November 12 at 3 pm
Regular run: Thursday, November 16 – Sunday, December 17, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving Day).
Late Night Performances (featuring understudies): Friday, December 1 at 11 pm, Saturday, December 2 at 11 pm, Friday, December 8 at 11 pm and Saturday, December 9 at 11 pm
Open Captioned Performances (by Molly Brennan): Sunday, November 26 at 3 pm and Sunday, 
December 3 at 3 pm
Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $45. Late night shows $30. Students $20. Tickets are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Willa is too old to live alone in her flat, and she has “accidents”. That’s why her well-meaning daughter brings her to a suburban London nursing home, “just to try it out”. Originally from Galway, Willa (convincingly played by Belinda Bremner) starts an unlikely friendship with a good-natured 24-year-old nursing home assistant Byron (very talented and highly animated Terry Bell). Byron, an illegal immigrant from South Africa, comes from extreme poverty and family tragedy, but, despite his hard life, he’s kind and funny, and the pair gets along oh so well, always laughing, telling each other stories and falling closer together. Meanwhile, Willa’s married daughter Catherine (Carolyn Kruse) has very little time for her mother; she’s busy carrying on an affair with a younger man. All in all, living at the nursing home wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the sadistic head nurse Sister Chang (Christine Bunuan). Sister Chang is a colorful character; she likes to “discipline” residents and doesn’t hesitate to go through their belongings to satisfy a sweet tooth.


The My Way Residential is a very charming play; it’ll make you laugh and it’ll make you cry too, but you will not be bored; far from it. The cast is fantastic, and writing wonderful. Not to mention the old-British-TV-show vibe to it that’s irresistible.


Directed by ensemble member Kevin Theis and written by Geraldine Aron, this tragi-comedy is a world premiere from Irish Theatre of Chicago that concludes its 2016-2017 Season. The My Way Residential is currently playing at The Den Theatre (Upstairs Main Stage) through June 25th. For more show information and to purchase tickets visit http://irishtheatreofchicago.org/.

Published in Theatre in Review

Griffin Theatre’s In To America is a stark reminder of the contributions made by the many immigrants that have come from all around the world and have made the United States what it is today. In writer Bill Massolia’s multicultural story, American history is retold by several immigrant narratives where sixty personal stories are shared spanning over thirty countries. The play begins with the American immigration experience from Jamestown in the early 17th century and covers the 400 years since, many of its stories remarkable as they are daring. 

We hear the good and the bad. In many stories we get a taste of the shameful mistreatment immigrants received upon their arrival, the brave new world of vast opportunity they were seeking no more than a hostile environment that spews hate for the simple fact of being different. In others (not nearly as many) we hear how immigrants were received with opens arms, their dreams fulfilled as their new home offers the new life they had so desperately had hoped for. In this condensed history lesson we also learn the hardships endured throughout perilous journeys in leaving their own countries in daring escapes from their own native countries. 

“We never crossed the border. The border crossed us,” we are profoundly told from Juanita Andersen who portrays a Mexican landowner after being squeezed out by new arrivals during the Manifest Destiny.  

The series of monologues flows quickly as the story follows a timeline that is rich in information covering such events as congress adopting the uniform rule in 1790 so that any white person could apply for citizenship after two years of residency, the Dred Scott decision in 1857 declaring free Africans non-citizens, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1902, Native Americans made citizens in 1924 and the 1980 Refugee Act that removed refugees as a preference category, reducing worldwide ceiling for immigration to 270,000. Many, many other significant policies are brought to light that have had an effect on immigration.

Artist Director Bill Massolia comments about the production, “In To America owes a great deal of its inspiration from my own family’s immigrant roots.” 

He was also inspired by Ronald Takaki’s award-winning book A Different Mirror where it is stated “In the making of multicultural America, the contingent’s original inhabitants were joined by people pushed from their homelands by poverty and persecution in Asia, Latin America and Europe, and pulled here by extravagant dreams. Others came here in chains from Africa, and still others fled here from countries like Afghanistan and Vietnam. These men and women may not have read John Locke, but they came to believe that ‘in the beginning all the world was America.’ They envisioned the emerging country as a place for a bold new start.”

He further states, “Marginalized and degraded as the “Other” minorities came to believe even more fiercely and fervently than did the founding fathers in the ‘self-evident truths’ that ‘all men are created equal’, entitled to the ‘unalienable rights’ of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’. 

In To America also explores the paranoia regarding immigration held by one such founding father quoting Benjamin Franklin, "Few of their children in the country learn English... The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages ... Unless the stream of their importation could be turned they will soon so outnumber us that all the advantages we have will not be able to preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious."

The play’s theme is strong in reminding us that America has been made on the backs of immigrants, boasting many great achievements and spotlighting a handful of prominent “new Americans” who have truly made a difference in our country’s progress. In the end we get a picture of hope, unity and promise.

Dorothy Milne directs while the cast in this insightful piece includes Juanita Andersen, Katie Campbell, Jennifer Cheung, Aneisa Hicks, Christopher W. Jones, Francisco Lopez, Adam Marcantoni, Sean McGill, Rasika Ranganathan, Omer Abbas Salem, Scott Shimizu, Jason VonRohn and Elizabeth Hope Williams. Each actor plays multiple characters from all over the world, transitioning very well from accent to accent, adding to the play’s genuine nature in relaying a spirit everyone can identify with.  

In To America is just the play that will prompt many to go back and research their family lineage to discover their own journey to America.

In To America is being performed at Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage through April 23rd. Tickets are $38 and valet parking is now available. For tickets and/or more show information click here

         

  

 

Published in Theatre in Review

In The Source, Gabriel McKinley has penned what may be destined to become a stage classic. A gripping thriller, The Source is a timeless existential drama as well.

It centers on a pair of journalists –  a writer, and a photographer – holed up in a hotel, waiting to connect with a whistleblower - someone who will reveal deep background on a cache of information just released on a security agency in the government.

In 85 tightly controlled minutes director Jason Gersace ensnares our curiosity, luring us into this very topical examination of the tension between privacy and security. It is also a study of what happens when two people who don't necessarily like each other are bound together by necessity. 

The journalists are professional opposites – the writer Vernon (Cody Proctor) is cool and cerebral; the photographer Luna (Kristina Valada-Viars) warm and intuitive. On a journalistic level, Vernon holds writing in higher esteem than photography – a notion that causes competitive professional sparks familiar to those in the field. For her part, Luna feels pictures rule. “I don’t read newspapers; it’s a dead medium,” she digs.

Vernon enters the hotel room as the lights come up, and makes a hurried canvass of the premises -  unplugging the TV, putting his phone in the freezer after removing its batteries, he draws the curtains tight – establishing his high level of anxiety and paranoia. We are not sure why.

We soon see they are opposites on a human level, too. Luna’s arrival catches him off guard (he was in the shower), and she exhibits far less angst than him. Luna readily introduces herself to Vernon and shares her background, while he is reluctant to provide even his name.

That they are to pose as a married couple while they await further signals from their source only heightens the emotional aspects of this drama.

Thrown together in a hotel room for a period that is indeterminate, the two unfold before the audience – and each other – as any roommate or cell mates will. They empty the mini bar, they attempt a tryst in bed, they lose sleep, and sleep too much.

The progression of time is conveyed artfully, with a supertitle Day 2, Day 4, etc., flashed on the wall above the window. Because the two will not admit room service, their quarters also mark the passage of time by become messier. Their clothes need laundering. They are at each other’s throats, and their claustrophobia germinates into a mutual paranoia.  

That wait goes on interspersed by just a few external diversions – a fire alarm goes off, periodically someone pounds on the door of the room, lights from an unknown source scan across the room and its occupants.

This is where The Source rises from a topical drama about government intrigue and media, to a timeless study of two people cast together, waiting, but not knowing what exactly they are waiting for. It seems like a play that will wear well over time.

Credit goes to Jack McGaw for scenic design, Claire Margaret Chrzan for lighting design, and Mark Comiskey for projection design for lighting design – particularly artful are the abstract glowing shadows of lamps inscribed on the wall when the room goes dark.  

Route 66 Theatre Company ‘s The Source runs through April 2 at The Den Theatre. www.route66theatre.brownpapertickets.com.

Published in Theatre in Review

Route 66 Theatre Company is pleased to launch its ninth season with the world premiere of Gabe McKinley’s psychological drama THE SOURCE, directed by Jason Gerace, playing March 2 – April 2, 2017 at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets for THE SOURCE are currently available at route66theatre.brownpapertickets.com. The press opening is Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30 pm.

 

THE SOURCE features Kristina Valada-Viars and Cody Proctor.

 

On the hunt for the biggest story of their careers, two journalists are summoned to travel across the world to meet with The Source: an unidentified leaker of hacked documents and information on the U.S. government. As these strangers probe one another for the truth and information, they find themselves in a thrilling psychological drama that leads them to examine their motives, their country and themselves… all while waiting for The Source. 

 

Director Jason Gerace comments, "The question of ‘privacy versus security’ is central to our time, and I could not be more pleased that Route 66 Theatre Company has agreed to take it on. McKinley's play tackles this question with urgency and frames it in a way that resonates in the current moment, while building a thrilling theatrical experience for the audience. I am beyond excited to be at the helm of the world premiere of this important new play."

 

The production team for THE SOURCE includes: Jack McGaw (scenic design), Claire Margaret Chrzan (lighting design), Christopher Kriz (sound design), Mark Comiskey (projection design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), Pauline Oleksy (props design), Catherine Allen (production manager), Brian Sprague (technical director), Nancy Staiger (stage manager) and Matthew Bonaccorso (asst. stage manager).

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

 

Title: THE SOURCE

Playwright: Gabe McKinley

Director: Jason Gerace

Cast: Kristina Valada-Viars (Laura) and Cody Proctor (Vernon). 

 

Location: The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Thursday, March 2 at 7:30 pm, Friday, March 3 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, March 4 at 3 pm & 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 5 at 3 pm

Press Opening: Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Thursday, March 9 – Sunday, April 2, 2017

Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets: Previews: $25 adults. Regular run: $35 adults; $20 students. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available at route66theatre.brownpapertickets.com.

 

Creative Team Bios

 

Gabe McKinley’s (Playwright) plays have been produced and developed by companies nationally and internationally, including Atlantic Theater Company, Naked Angels, Premiere Stages, The Old Vic, American Theater Company, Ensemble Studio Theater, The LARK, Keen company, Williamstown Theater Festival and Red Dog Squadron, among others. His plays include The Kitchen Sink Play, Welcome Home Rock Rogers, Funny, Floodplains, Skopje, The Source, as well as the critically acclaimed Extinction and CQ/CX (John Gassner Outer Critics Award nomination). His short play, The Grave, was the winner of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. Gabe was the recipient of the Samuel French/New School for Drama Award for Excellence in Playwriting, and his play CQ/CX was included in the Smith and Krause anthology "New Playwrights: The Best New Plays."  A graduate of NYU and The New School for Drama, Gabe lives in New York.

 

Jason Gerace (Director) is a freelance director in Chicago, and has been Artistic Associate of American Theater Company since 2008. He was the recipient of the 2014 Non-Equity Jeff Award in Outstanding Direction for his work on Great Expectations with Strawdog Theatre Company. Regional directing credits include Last Train to Nibroc (Haven Theatre, Chicago), Wrecks (with John Judd, Profiles Theatre, Chicago), Opus and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (RedTwist Theatre, Chicago), Hamlet (Oklahoma Shakespeare Chautauqua), Pygmalion (Oak Park Festival Theatre). Jason originally hails from Anchorage, Alaska and holds an MFA in Directing from The University of Oklahoma.  He is a resident of Oak Park, and an associate member of SDC.

 

Route 66 Theatre Company

 

Route 66 Theatre Company introduces, develops, produces, and exports new work for the stage. The road begins with our new play development process and reaches west, where our World and Chicago Premiere shows are given an advocate for further regional productions along the road less traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles. Since the company’s founding, Route 66 has produced 10 productions, 2 in two cities including an Off-Broadway premiere, been nominated for ten Jeff Awards and won two. Route 66 is now a resident company of The Den Theatre. www.route66theatre.org

 

Route 66 is Stef Tovar, Founder and Artistic Director; Rachel Wendte, Managing Director; Deborah Blumenthal, Director of New Play Development; Alana Parvey-Zalas, Business Manager; Matthew Bonaccorso, Company Manager and Kelly Parker, Casting Director

 

Route 66 Theatre Company Artistic Associates: Brian Sidney-Bembridge, Audrey Billings, Johnny Clark, Brandon Dahlquist, Raymond Fox, Damon Kiely, Ron Klier, Jenni Lamb, Tyler Meredith, John Mohrlein, Kelly Parker, Geoff Rice, Emily Rohm, Tricia Small, Jeremy Sonkin, Alex Stage, Nancy Staiger, Erica Stephan, Bethany Thomas, Rita Vreeland, Steven Wilson, Rachel Wendte and Emily Woods.

 

Route 66 Theatre Company Board of Directors: Jennifer Baumann, President; Deborah Haimes, Vice-President of Communications; Nicholas Stone, Treasurer; Molly Crabtree, Secretary; Elizabeth Derrico, David and Monica Byrd, Lee Dickson, James Frenzel, Laurie Hamilton, Tammy Rosenszweig, Pat Turnbull and Robert Veasey.

 

Route 66 Theatre Company’s 9th Season is presented by generous grants from MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency and DCASE CityArts. 

 ###

 

Published in Buzz Extra

The CHICAGO ONE-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL (#1MPF) returns to The Den Theatre for its seventh year – this time exploring America and Chicago in 2017 in the wake of the Presidential election. The marathon evening of one-minute plays by more than 60 of Chicago’s established and emerging playwrights and directors is presented two nights only, Tuesday, February 21 and Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets, priced at $18, are currently available at brownpapertickets.com.

 

The 2017 CHICAGO ONE-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL: America Is…. will feature brand new one-minute plays by Axel Arth, Andrew Bailes, Manny Buckley, Rachel Claff, Whitney LaMora Currier, EJC Calvert, Dan Caffrey, MT Cozzola, Randall Colbrun, Lonnie Carter, Spenser Davis, Bilal Dardai, Reginald Edmond, Kimberly D. Furganson, Genevra Gallo-Bayaites, Addison Heimann, Nick Hart, Skye Robinson Hillis, Kate Healy, Reeny Hofrichter, Scott Hermes, Jeewon Kim, David Kodeski, Genevieve Locksley, Jenni Lamb, Patrick McLean, Arlene Malinowski, Mark Mason, Jonathan Mastro, Laura Nessler, Coya Paz, Kristi Parker-Barnhart, Tania Richard, Tanise Robnett, Elaine Romero, Cassandra Rose, Jennifer Rumberger, Edgar Sanchez, Jessy Lauren Smith, Jenny Seidelman, Sheridan Singleton, Jon Steinhagen, Steve Spencer, Tiffani Swalley, Leean Kim Torske, Robert Tenges, Eileen Tull, Aaron Weissman, Tony Werner, Adam Webster, Larissa Zageris and Joe Zarrow.

 

Directors include Wardell Clark, Spenser Davis, Rose Freeman, Jess Hutchinson, Charlie McGrath, Andrew Peters, Samuel Roberson, Alyssa Vera Ramos, Lee Stark, Lexi Saunders, Anna Trachtman and Jacob Watson

 

“We are thrilled to celebrate seven years of #1MPF in Chicago and we are proud to see our programing and the reach of our work diversifying – between the festival of women-identified artists, The Every 28 Hours Plays and the traditional 1MPF work that we are using to investigate what America and Chicago in 2017 post-election America looks like, comments Artists Director Dominic D’Andrea. “The opportunity to gather the community of artists, activists and citizens and focus on ways that we might begin to design the world we want to live in is a beautiful and necessary action. I'm proud of the community, our partners at the Den and the stunning nuance of the work we've generated together.” 

 

EVENT DETAILS

 

Title: CHICAGO ONE-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL: America Is…

Dates: Tuesday, February 21 and Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Times: 8 pm

Tickets: $18. Tickets are currently available at brownpapertickets.com.

 

About THE ONE-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL

 

THE ONE-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL (#1MPF) is America’s largest and longest running grass roots theatre company, founded by Producing Artistic Director, Dominic D’Andrea . #1MPF is a social barometer project, which investigates the zeitgeist of different communities through dialogue, consensus building and a performance of 50-100 short moments generated by each community. #1MPF works in partnership with theatres and/or social organizations sharing playwright, educational or community-specific missions across the country. The aim is to create locally sourced playwright-focused community events, with the goal of promoting the spirit of radical inclusion. #1MPF represents playwrights of different age, gender, race, cultures, and points of career. The work attempts to reflect the theatrical landscape of local artistic communities by creating a dialogue between the collective conscious and the individual voice.

 

In each city, #1MPF works with partnering organizations to identify programs or initiatives in each community to support with the proceeds from ticket sales. The goal is to find ways give directly back to the artists in each community. Supported programs have ranged from educational programming, youth poetry projects, theatre program in prisons, playwright residencies and memberships, playwrights salaried commissions, community access projects, arts workshops and other social and artistic initiatives.

 

Annual partnerships have been created with theaters in over 20 cities including: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Trenton, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Boston, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Indianapolis, Anchorage, Honolulu, St. Louis and more, with partnering institutions including Primary Stages, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New Georges at New York City Center, Z-Space, A.C.T., Trinity Rep, Victory Gardens Theater, Cornerstone Theatre Company, The Playwrights Foundation, Boston Playwrights Theatre, Actor’s Express, InterAct Theatre, Mixed Blood, Walking Shadow Theatre, Passage Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Salvage Vanguard & ScriptWorks,  ACT Seattle, Perseverance Theatre, Round House Theatre, Honolulu Theatre For Youth and others.   

 

Notable #1MPF contributors have included: David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, Neil LaBute, Tina Howe, Donald Margulies, Nilaja Sun, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Robert Schenkkan, Lydia Diamond, Phillip Kan Gotanda, Kristoffer Diaz, Rajiv Joseph, Samuel D. Hunter, Karen Hartman, Robert Askins, Colman Domingo, José Rivera, Craig Lucas, Mike Daisey, Greg Kotis, Michael John Garcés and over to 1400 celebrated, emerging, and midcareer playwrights.  For more information visit: www.oneminuteplayfestival.com

 

Published in Buzz Extra

I was a "psychonaut librarian” as a child without even knowing it. My grandparents’ house was only two blocks from the beautifully built, stunning Coral Gables Library in South Miami, Florida.

 

I spent all my spare time there, drinking in the smell of library books and wisdom. Each new book I read seemed to open a new world for me. First, they were fantasy worlds, like The Phantom Tollbooth, later I began to read more and more about psychology and self-help, each time hoping that the book in my hands would offer an insight into having the happy, successful dreamy life I imagined lay ahead.  Yes, I was a shy, gentle book nerd, and I felt often that reading was the answer to all my problems. 

 

Sean Kelly's "Psychonaut Librarians", now in a world premiere with The New Colony is a funny, delightful poetically phrased tale about a mother and daughter and their fellow book worm friends discovering magical worlds at the library. 

 

Librarian Hester, played with both warmth and biting wit by David Cerda (Artistic Director of the hugely popular campy Hell in a Handbag Productions), is trying to save her daughter Jane (Christine Mayland Perkins) from giving up on her dreams and into society's constant fear creating machine. Hester a single mother to Jane, greets her with the single revealing question about her ex, "How is Daddy? Still suffocatingly small-minded?".

 

Hester has developed a potion that allows her to go all the way into the fantasy world of reading into a place she calls "Anyverse" where anything can happen and dreams do not die without a fight. 

 

Hester shares the potion with her grown daughter one night and while in the Anyverse Jane meets a lover named Dewey, played with much joy by Matt Farabee, a handsome Christ-like figure of love and innocence.  

 

In each other's arms Jane finds true love. They dance and fly through the Anyverse on a beautifully lit, ever changing, yet intimate, stage. Dewey tells Jane the ultimate romantic verse, "{In Jane) I found what I did not even know I was looking for and in finding her, I found myself," Jane stares into his loving, smiling face and states that this meeting is one of the "perfect moments” that she will add to her sadly short list of perfect moments. 

 

But of course, as in "real" life, the enjoyment of freedom of life and love in the Anyverse is threatened by an evil force called The Sandman played with the proper amount of military, know it all, fear inducing power by Jack McCabe.

 

The Sandman has the ability to literally suck the soul out of each human by drawing out their worst fears and causing them to act on them instead of holding fast to positive thinking. 

 

Despite their obviously great and perfect matching Dewey flip flops helplessly from loving adoration to murderous hatred for Jane in an instant and begins to strangle Jane each time The Sandman makes him insecure about her love by sending him negative subconscious suggestions. 

 

Jane's mother Hester sees this pattern of abuse and danger to her daughter and makes the ultimate sacrifice by chasing the Sandman away with the promise that she will not ALLOW her daughter to awaken from the dreary, fear filled thought patterns of everyday earth "reality" into the Anyverse ...ever again. 

 

When Jane is awakened from the Anyverse by her mother and is forced to part with Dewey, Jane becomes bitter about life and retreats from taking chances, creativity, or really falling in love and trying new things to follow the strict societal mores dictated by The Sandman about choosing work and security above joyous spontaneity.

 

Sadly, this division leads Jane to become estranged from her own loving, creative mother and the library itself, a symbol of the power of imagination - for 20 years.

 

Jane is inexplicably drawn to the library on the eve of her mother's retirement, where Hester’s fellow Psychonaut Librarians have arranged a "potion" party to enter the Anyverse all together. 

 

Hester's fellow librarians, the stiff-necked Emmerick (Michael Peters) and hopeful, brainy free spirit, Rosemary (Morgan McNaught) and the library's "security guy" (Carlos Olmedo), who also ends up drinking the spiked punch, are all played with excellent comic timing, and their scenes are some of the funniest and most clever dialogue in the show. 

 

This hopeful, desperate for magic crew of psychonauts enter the Anyverse together and immediately each is tested by the dreams, or rather nightmares, of their own worst fears of failure.

 

There are puppets used to represent the fearful dreams and perfected in a clever bit where the puppets are used to represent the characters’ abilities to walk through walls or make themselves small enough to escape a demon dream through a crack in a solid wall. Hester makes a great sacrifice to help rescue them all. 

 

The great thing is that each character, no matter how weak their "punches or kicks' may be, are forced to physically take a stand and fight! Each character must really wrestle and fight to defeat their bad dreams and thought patterns. 

 

In the end, Jane returns to the library without her lover Dewey - but with a newfound belief in the power of magic, and the existence of magic itself. Magic that is ALIVE right there alongside her in the library of life - and the reality of alternate positive realms, exciting realities beyond her own. 

 

Director Krissy Vanderwarker does the best she can on a limited budget to create a romantic pacing and lovely, magical choreography for Jane and Dewey that transitions well into the more comical present day or fantasy scenes. 

 

Kelly's script has gone thru many cuts over the years but is approaching a more perfect balance between what is both a supernatural love story and an "Universal" love story that boldly, yet sensitively, declares the existence of an alternate reality based entirely on love. 

 

The line, "I found what I did not even know I was looking for!  And in finding her, I found myself" kept haunting me after the show ended, as did several of the poetic speeches delivered by Jane to Dewey while sharing flowing descriptions of the deliciousness of their loving, soaring, literally "flying" in each other's arms new love... in words. These scenes were very well written and sometimes seemed like they belonged in an entirely different show. 

 

The character of Dewey, with his shoulder length dirty blonde hair, casual hoody, sandals and all-encompassing smile is best interpreted as a Christ figure, a non-sexual person, a teacher and guru of unconditional love living forever in the Anyverse. Dewey was not supposed to become a human man whose sexual partnership in the "real" world or like a Prince in a fairy tale whose marriage to Jane would effortlessly make her life into an adventure or positivity and magic. 

 

The playwright makes it clear to the end that the daily decision to hold tightly to and fight for her own dreams is up to Jane herself, which is as it should be.

 

Before the show began, the artistic director came out and mentioned how MANY scripts they have been receiving as of late, eluding to the election of Trump (The Sandman himself?), from new writers and how EAGER artists now are to have their words HEARD.

 

I highly recommend this funny, romantic, hopeful show for audiences of any age. “Psychonaut Librarians” would also make a valuable children's theater piece.

 

"Your soul is not living inside your body; your body is living inside your soul.” 

 

For heart weary adult Democrats like myself who are literally praying for a magical happy ending to what appears to be a complete takeover of millions of American minds by the evil Sandman, “Psychonaut Librarians” offered me a wonderful evening of hope, encouragement and rainbow lit entertainment. 

 

New Colony’s “Psychonaut Librarians” is playing at Den Theatre through February 12th. For more show information of to purchase tickets, click here

 

Published in Theatre in Review
Page 1 of 2

Court Theatre's "Five Guys Named Moe" is non-stop fun

19 September 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

The live sounds of 30’s and 40’s jazz transform Court Theatre into a music venue in this production of Five…

Review: Goodman's "A View from the Bridge"

19 September 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

The Goodman Theatre almost never includes a show in their subscriber season that they haven’t developed themselves. Dutch director Ivo…

TATC's "Big River" Brings Twain Characters Back to Life

18 September 2017 in Theatre in Review

There has never been a better Broadway marriage of story and storyteller – until Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, three decades…

Black Ensemble to produce the world premiere of Living the Black Renaissance

13 September 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Black Ensemble Theater continues the 2017 Season (The Dance Theater Season) with the World Premiere of Living The Black Renaissance…

"Spamilton" Chicago Announces October 8 Closing After Seven-Month Run

13 September 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Today, the producers of “Spamilton,” the critically acclaimed parody of “Hamilton,” announced an October 8 closing date for the Chicago…

After Many Tribulations, Muthaland Finds Its Home

12 September 2017 in Theatre in Review

Minita Gandhi’s autobiographical one-woman show is making its official world premiere as the final production of the 16th Street Theater’s…

Interrobang Theatre's FOXFINDER - Monday, October 2 at 7:30 pm at The Athenaeum Theatre - Midwest Premiere!

11 September 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Interrobang Theatre Project launches its 2017-18 Season, exploring the urgent question “What is Truth?,” with the Midwest premiere of Dawn…

First Floor Theater Presents TWO MILE HOLLOW - October 8 - November 4, 2017 at The Den Theatre - World Premiere!

11 September 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

First Floor Theater open its sixth season with the world premiere of Leah Nanako Winkler’s explosive satire of the classic…

Casting Announced for 14th Annual "New Stages" Festival at Goodman Theatre

11 September 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Casting is complete for the three “developmental productions” featured in Goodman Theatre’s 14thannual New Stages festival—a free celebration of new…

Drury Lane's "Rock of Ages" "Ain't nothin" but a good time"

10 September 2017 in Theatre in Review

For Chicagoans that grew up in the 1980’s music scene, we remember favorite rock clubs such as The Thirsty Whale,…

(re)discover's "FOR ONE" is an unusual theatre amusement park

08 September 2017 in Theatre in Review

The historic Gunder Mansion in Edgewater opens its doors for a unique theatre experience: a fifty-minute event consisting of five…

First Folio Theatre Presents Spooky World Premiere of The Man-Beast in October

07 September 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the World Premiere of Joseph…

 

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

Register

Latest Articles

Guests Online

We have 84 guests and no members online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter