Theatre

In its 22nd season, First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is delighted to present a chilling, humorous and thought-provoking 2017-2018 season, beginning with the World Premiere of THE MAN-BEAST, which previews October 4-6, opens October 7 and runs through November 5, 2017, followed by the Chicago premiere of WOMEN IN JEOPARDY, which previews in January 24-26, opens January 27 and runs through February 25, 2018. The charming and emotional MARY’S WEDDING previews March 28-30, opens March 31 and runs through April 29, 2018 and the World Premiere musical, based on the classic “The Taming of the Shrew”, SHREW’D, is the featured production for the Shakespeare Under the Stars summer series, previewing July 11-13, opens July 14 and runs through August 19, 2018.
 
A dangerously romantic werewolf tale based on real events, THE MAN-BEAST starts the season, directed by Hayley Rice. From the playwright who wrote The Gravedigger and Dr. Seward’s Dracula, comes the final installment of his classic horror trilogy, a werewolf tale straight out of history. In the 18th century French countryside, a mysterious wild-animal is ravaging the livestock and citizenry, leaving behind a trail of blood and death. When Louis XVI puts a bounty on the animal, the mystery and horror only deepen. No one has seen the perpetrator, but the citizens have seen the gory results of its savage attacks and suspect that it’s a Loup-Garou, the savage werewolf of French legend. THE MAN-BEAST is a must-see show crafted by Joseph Zettelmaier, who is described as having “a gift for creating easily digested but emotionally resonant portraits of essential truth,” by The Chicago Tribune and noted for how he “creates tantalizing stories,” by The Sun-Times News Group. THE MAN-BEAST previews October 4-6, opens October 7 and runs through November 5, 2017.
 
WOMEN IN JEOPARDY is the comedy that results when Thelma and Louise meets The First Wives Club. When your best friend is dating a serial killer, do you tell her if she seems happy? Divorcees Mary, Jo, and Liz are best friends, always looking out for each other. So when Mary and Jo begin to suspect that Liz’s new boyfriend is a serial killer, they begin an investigation to prove it to her and save her life. Things go from humorously tricky to hilariously complex when Liz’s daughter Amanda and her boyfriend Trenner get involved. WOMEN IN JEOPARDY is written by Wendy MacLeod, author of The House of Yes (Miramax Films starring Parker Posey), Schoolgirl Figure (World Premiere at The Goodman) and Things Being What They Are (Steppenwolf), and features Artistic Associates Lydia Berger Gray, Melanie Keller and Joe Foust, with Gail Rastorfer. Boston Stages calls WOMEN IN JEOPARDY “pitch-perfect… a comedy romp,” and according to The Boston Globe, “the laughs come fast and furious… modern, lively, and loads of fun!”The show will begin previews January 24-26, open January 27 and run through February 25, 2018.
 
MARY’S WEDDING is an epic, unforgettable story of love, hope, and survival. In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I, First Folio presents a tale of the price that must be paid when innocence and youth collide on the eve of war. Written by Stephen Massicotte, the production will be directed by Melanie Keller and feature Artistic Associate Heather Chrisler. When Mary and Charlie fall in love one summer’s day, little do they know that they are already in the center of a collapsing, brutal world. Together they attempt to hide their love, galloping through the fields for a place and time where the tumultuous uncertainties of battle can’t find them. Variety says the show "weaves a theatrical spell of hope, regret and memory.” MARY’S WEDDING will begin to preview March 28-30, open March 31 and run through April 29, 2018.

This summer, First Folio Theatre presents the musical SHREW’D: Shakespeare’s Bawdiest Comedy… with a Modern Twist, marking the theatre’s 22nd summer of presenting Shakespeare Under the Stars. Adapted by David Rice from one of Shakespeare’s hilarious “The Taming of the Shrew,” SHREW’D, directed by Johanna McKenzie Miller, turns Shakespeare’s comic battle of the sexes on its head. SHREW’D, set in 1930’s jazz-infused Chicago with lyrics by David Rice and music by Michael Keefe, offers a Kate who is Petruchio’s equal, and makes him happy to discover it. From the team that brought the 2013, double Jeff-Award winning hit musical Cymbeline: A Musical Folktale, SHREW’D will preview July 11-13, open July 14 and run through August 19, 2018.
 
All performances take place at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, located at 1717 W 31st St., off Rt. 83, in Oak Brook. First Folio is easy to get to from via the East-West Tollway (I-88) or the Stevenson Expressway (I-55). Free parking is available on the grounds. Preview tickets are $25. Regular priced tickets are $34 Wednesdays and Thursdays (seniors and students are $29), and $44 on Fridays through Sundays (seniors and students are $39). Three and four show subscriptions are available for $63-$115. During the summer show, a special pricing of $10 will also be offered for children age 14 and under who are accompanied by a parent. Season subscriptions and individual tickets go on sale on June 1, 2017 and may be purchased by calling the box office at 630.986.8067 or online at www.firstfolio.org.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Lifeline Theatre presents the world premiere of Her Majesty’s Will, adapted by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric (Non-Equity Jeff Awards: New Adaptation, The Island of Dr. Moreau and Neverwhere), and directed by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Chris Hainsworth, based on the 2013 novel by Chicago-based author/actor/fight choreographer (and Rogers Park resident) David Blixt, who will design the violence for the production.

Young William Shakespeare is hiding from the law in rural Lancashire, languishing as a simple school master. Christopher Marlowe is living the high life as a spy for the Crown. When a dastardly plot to assassinate the Queen draws these two unforgettable wits together, Will is swept up in a world of intrigue, treachery, and mayhem in an adventure that will define the rest of his life – if he can only manage to save Her Majesty. An irreverent comedy that imagines Shakespeare’s “lost years” as a rousing romp through the streets and across the stages of Elizabethan London. The production runs two and a half hours with one intermission. The novel will be on sale in the lobby.

Her Majesty’s Will runs May 26 – July 16 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Press opening is Sunday, June 4 at 4 p.m. Opening night is Tuesday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Fridays, May 26 and June 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 27 and June 3 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 28 at 4 p.m.) Regular performance times (June 8 – July 16) are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for active and retired military personnel (with ID), $30 for seniors, $20 for students (with ID), $20 for rush tickets (available half hour before show time, subject to availability), and $20 for previews. Group rate for 12 or more is available upon request. Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.

Accessible Performances: The Saturday, June 17, 4 p.m. performance will feature open captioning for patrons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. The Saturday, June 24, 4 p.m. performance will feature a pre-show touch tour of the set at 2:30 p.m. and live audio description for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For more information about Lifeline’s accessibility services, please contact Accessibility Coordinator Erica Foster at 773.761.4477 x703 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The complete cast and production team for Her Majesty’s Will includes:

CAST: Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Peter Greenberg (Robert Greene); with guest artists Don Bender (Sir Francis Walsingham), Bryan Bosque (Christopher Marlowe), Heather Chrisler (Chorus, Helena of Snakenborg, Emily Ball), Dan Cobbler (Dick Tarlton, Sir Thomas Lucy), Javier Ferreira (William Shakespeare), LaQuin Groves (John Savage), Martel Manning (John Lyly), and Mike Ooi (Cutting Ball). With understudies Justin Harner, Maggie Patchett, and Cole Simon. 

PRODUCTION TEAM: Lifeline Theatre ensemble members Aly Renee Amidei (Costume Designer), Chris Hainsworth (Director), and Robert Kauzlaric (Adaptor); with guest artists David Blixt (Fight Choreographer), Diane D. Fairchild (Lighting Designer), Morgan Gire (Assistant Stage Manager), Lavina Jadhwani (Casting Director), Eleanor Kahn (Scenic Designer), Jeffrey Levin (Original Music & Sound Designer), Alec Long (Properties Designer), Jennifer McClendon (Production Manager), Caitlin McManus (Assistant Director), Annaliese McSweeney (Dramaturg), Sam Moryoussef (Master Electrician/AV Supervisor), Kate Reed (Stage Manager), Sarah Scanlon (Assistant Director), and Joe Schermoly (Technical Director).

Lifeline Theatre presents Her Majesty’s Will, running May 26 – July 16 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Opening night is Tuesday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Fridays, May 26 and June 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 27 and June 3 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 28 at 4 p.m.) Regular performance times (June 8 – July 16) are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for active and retired military personnel (with ID), $30 for seniors, $20 for students (with ID), $20 for rush tickets (available half hour before show time, subject to availability), and $20 for previews. Group rate for 12 or more is available upon request. Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.

Lifeline Theatre is accessible by CTA (Red Line Morse stop/busses) and free parking is available at the Field School parking lot (7019 N. Ashland St., entrance on Greenleaf between Ashland and Greenview) with free shuttle service before and after the show. Street parking is also available. Lifeline is accessible to wheelchair users and visitors who need to avoid stairs.

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Now in its 34th season, Lifeline Theatre is driven by a passion for story. Our ensemble process supports writers in the development of literary adaptations and new work, and our theatrical and educational programs foster a lifelong engagement with literature and the arts. A cultural anchor of Rogers Park, we are committed to deepening our connection to an ever-growing family of artists and audiences, both near and far. Lifeline Theatre – Big Stories, Up Close.

Lifeline Theatre’s programs are partially supported by Alphawood Foundation; A.R.T League Inc.; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; Chicago CityArts, a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; The Chicago Community Trust: Persons with Disability Fund; The Common Cup; Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; FGMK LLC; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; The Grover Hermann Foundation; Illinois Arts Council Agency; Illinois Humanities Council; Lagunitas Brewing Co. Community Grant Program; MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; The PAV Grant Fund; The Polk Bros. Foundation; Poubelle Fund, a Donor Advised Fund of Renaissance Charitable Foundation; Rogers Park Social; S&C Electric Company Fund; The Shubert Foundation; and the annual support of businesses and individuals.

 

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

In the action-packed world premiere of Captain Blood, First Folio Executive Producer David Rice along with his wife, Artistic Director Alison C. Vesely, have collaborated on a swashbuckling adventure that is sure to be long remembered for its choreographed swordfights, enthralling story and witty comicality. Sadly, Alison recently lost a two-year battle with cancer and passed away just two months before Captain Blood’s debut. But her final collaboration with her husband will undoubtedly leave its mark on those who see it, as it is sure to be rooted in the minds of audience members thanks to Rice’s skilled writing, a talented cast and a strong directing effort. A fitting tribute to Alison C. Vesley, Captain Blood is stamped with Rice’s humor and is engulfed with a subtle warm-heartedness throughout and not-so-subtle theme of love that can only exist in a project of true passion.  

Adapted from Rafeal Sabatini’s 1922 classic novel Captain Blood (later turned into a film in 1935), theatre goers are regaled to the captivating high seas exploit of Peter Blood, a 17th century British physician, imprisoned by his own country for treating enemy Spanish soldiers. Blood is soon sold to a plantation on a Caribbean island for ten pounds where he becomes a slave. It’s not long after his enslavement that Blood falls in love with the niece of the plantation’s owner, Arabella Bishop. But after a daring escape, Blood soon takes to the waters, this time as a Caribbean pirate captain, whose favorite pastime is robbing Spanish ships. Throughout his pillaging, we wonder if Captain Blood will once again cross paths with his love, Arabella. 

Wonderfully directed by Janice L. Blixt, Captain Blood is a thrilling story of romance and freedom. Though a fast-paced pirate adventure, Blixt does a fantastic job of implementing a strong leitmotif of love as the play’s underlying driving force. 

Nick Sandys (Artistic Director of Remy Bumppo) leads this gifted cast as Captain Blood, a role that Rice immediately envisioned for the dashing actor five years ago during the project’s inception. Not only does Sandys deliver a picture-perfect performance as the charming, yet dynamic captain, he is also the contributing force behind the choreography of the play’s many dazzling swordfights and action scenes.  Sandys is joined by Heather Chrisler as his subject of love, Arebella Bishop. Some might remember Chrisler for her compelling portrayal of Virginia Poe in Rice’s brilliant work, The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe. Though not as challenging a role as Virginia Poe, Chrisler is as flawless as can be as Arebella, giving Sandys a believable counterpart to whom we can truly relate. 

The play also gets a boost from veteran actor Kevin McKillip whose previous work includes First Folio’s The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe and The Winter’s Tale. McKillip takes on dual roles as both Hagthorpe, a ship crew member who helps narrate the play, and Don Alan, a Spanish sea captain. It is McKillip who draws the biggest laughs due to his delicious comic timing and hilarious delivery of a Castilian Spanish accent. Other nods go to Christopher W. Jones as Wolverton, Sam Krey as Lord Julian and Aaron Christensen as Colonel Bishop/Harper.

With its many characters donning costumes to the likeness of the era and a vast set that is often used as a nautical vessel complete with trapdoors and projections of the Caribbean seascape, it is easy to get lost into this classic story. 

Captain Blood is an adventurous production that is sure to capture the hearts and imagination of all those who are seeking high seas fun, action and love. Recommended as a show the entire family can enjoy, Captain Blood will be performed at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook through February 26th. For tickets and/or more information on this beautifully adapted for stage production of the definitive novel, click here

 

Published in Theatre in Review

 

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