Lifeline Theatre is currently bringing to life the 1963 Madeline L’Engle award-winning, sci-fi novel for young adults, A Wrinkle in Time. It is the first in a series of five books that follow the escapades of Meg Murray, a thirteen-year-old student whom her teachers see as stubborn and difficult. The story follows Meg’s adventure as she and her younger brother, Charles Wallace (a prodigy child genius), search through space and time for their missing scientist father who has vanished after working on a mysterious project called a tesseract. It is during this pursuit that Meg and Charles Wallace, along with along with school friend, Calvin O’Keefe, run into a myriad of characters that get stranger and stranger along the way.
Before long they find out their true enemy is a bodiless brain called IT, who controls the planet Camazotz and communicates through The Man with Red Eyes. IT’s mission is to robotize everyone by removing their free will. At the same time, another evil force lurks throughout the universe that is only known as The Black Thing. A tall order for the trio of children to conquer on their own, help comes to them in the form of the three Mrs. W’s – Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which – each of whom offers a special power, or insight, in their fight to save their father. It is an exploit where the impossible becomes possible and courage and love proves to be the strongest force of all.
Lifeline brought this classic story to the stage first in 1990 based on the adaptation of James Sie. It returned in 1998 and is back today, nineteen years later. Probably not the easiest story to adapt for the stage, Lifeline does a remarkable job in creating a futuristic world full of color and space age lighting as they do in creatively staging special effects such as flying through time. The set is skillfully designed to give us the appearance of being lost in the dark vastness when needed, or to find ourselves light years away on a strange planet in a strange universe. Finely-crafted original costumes and hi-tech sound effects sprinkle the final touches in fashioning this ultramodern world we are thrust into for two hours.
Meg Murray needs an exterior that is defiant and bold, though underneath she is smart, confident and caring. Jamie Cahill is able to capture these qualities to give us a believable Meg, for without the play does not work. Cahill is bratty when called for, rebelliously shouting to get her way, she is appropriately emotional as she longs for her father and she is convincing as a teen who would be curious and astonished as a journey such as hers unfolds.
Trent Davis took on the role of Charles Wallace for the play’s opener, taking turns during its run with Davu Smith also cast for the role. Davis exhibits some mature acting chops for such a young man, impressing the audience with his fitting facial expressions, natural line delivery and comic timing. Rounding out the well-cast triad of adventurous kids is Glenn Obrero as Calvin O’Keefe, who is fun to watch as the eldest of the three, kind of taking on a big brother role.
Though his role wasn’t as expanded as many others in this production, Michael McKeogh still leaves an impression as Meg and Charles Wallace’s father, persuasively revealing the father-like qualities any kid would want to have in their own parents. Each of the three Mrs. W’s adds their own spark whether by oddities in their own character or in humorous musings with each other or the children - Mrs. Whatsit (Madeline Pell), Mrs. Who (Javier Ferreira) and Mrs. Which (Carmen Molina). Slightly changing from the novel, The Man with Red Eyes becomes known simply as Red Eyes, and is fiercely played by Naima Hebrail who towers over the stage and crowd with her commanding voice and tremendous presence.
If unfamiliar with Madeline L’Engle’s novel, the stage version is easy enough to follow and enjoy as a new adventure. However, this production might be a bit more special for those who have read the book as we get to see an imaginative recreation of a story many of us have held so close to our hearts as young readers opened up to a new world.
Family-friendly and keenly directed by Elise Kauzlaric, A Wrinkle in Time is a true time traveling quest for some of us to fondly reminisce and for some of us to experience its magic for the first time. A Wrinkle in Time is being performed at Lifeline Theatre through April 9th. For more show information, click here.
*Extended through April 23rd
CHICAGO – Lifeline Theatre Artistic Director Dorothy Milne and former Live Bait Theater Artistic Director Sharon Evans are pleased to announce the 20th Annual Fillet of Solo Festival, running January 13–29, 2017. Celebrating the breadth of Chicago’s enduring storytelling and live lit scene, Lifeline brings 15 storytelling collectives and numerous solo performers together for a three-week, multi-venue selection of powerful personal stories.
The 2017 Fillet of Solo festival will perform January 13-29, 2017, in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood at Lifeline Theatre (6912 N. Glenwood Ave.) and Heartland Studio Theatre (7016 N. Glenwood Ave.). Free parking and shuttle available. Performance times are Fridays at 7 and 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 4, 5:30, 7, and 8:30 p.m.; and Sundays at 4 and 5:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. Sunday performances only at Heartland Studio). Ticket prices are $10 for regular single tickets, and $50 for a Festival Pass (allows admission to any performance). Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.
The 20th Annual Fillet of Solo Festival will feature the work of:
Featured performers, continued:
· Story Club (storyclubchicago.com): “We give you a mic and 8 minutes. You tell us a story.” Story Club is a non-fiction storytelling show. Story Club mixes the spontaneity of an open mic with the experience of live theatre. Each show has both featured performers and open mic performers.
WEEK ONE (January 13-15):
Friday, January 13
Lifeline Theatre presents the 20th Annual Fillet of Solo Festival, January 13-29, 2017, in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood at Lifeline Theatre (6912 N. Glenwood Ave.) and Heartland Studio Theatre (7016 N. Glenwood Ave.). Free parking and shuttle available. Performance times are Fridays at 7 and 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 4, 5:30, 7, and 8:30 p.m.; and Sundays at 4 and 5:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. Sunday performances only at Heartland Studio). Ticket prices are $10 for regular single tickets, and $50 for a Festival Pass (allows admission to any performance). Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.
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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; The Chicago Community Trust: Persons with Disability Fund; The Common Cup; Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; FGMK LLC; Flex Print, Inc.; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; The Grover Hermann Foundation; Illinois Arts Council Agency; MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; 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.
I really enjoy seeing shows at Lifeline Theatre partly because they always have very cool and complex sets that they make the most of and partly because of the unique little touches they add to make the theatre more user-friendly, like a shuttle to take you to their free parking lot in a neighborhood where finding parking right before show time can be impossible.
I also like the way they put blankets on each seat in case you get chilly during the show! They also have the most reasonably priced snacks ever in a theatre where a soda or snack only costs one dollar instead of three for a bottle of water and five for a bag of trail mix like at the bigger theatres. All these details along with consistently quality productions make this a very welcoming theatre space to frequent as well!
“Soon I will Be Invincible” is based on the book by Austin Grossman and this dynamic production at Lifeline Theatre is no exception because set designers (Alan Donahue) and lighting (Becca Jeffords) have done a terrific job transforming the space into a multidimensional futuristic world with many visually exciting set, light and sound changes.
I thought the story would be more suited to young people and Comic Con nerds and in many ways the play was a comic book lover’s dream come true, but it also held a lot of interest for older playgoers in that it explored the psychological struggles of a team of superheroes who are past their prime and trying to make a comeback of sorts by saving the world once again from Dr. Impossible - played with a lot of great “evil” presence and humor by Phil Timberlake.
Fatale is a newbie to the superhero team, originally created by Dr. Impossible himself and is a replacement because one of their main members - Corefire- was missing in action and presumed dead. Fatale was played with great sensitivity and with a great singing voice by Christina Hall.
Fatale describes at length her sadness at not having an exciting and mythic “origin story” like the other super heroes. Fatale only remembers that she was in a car accident in Brazil and when she awoke had been implanted with a large numbers of bionic parts by Dr. Impossible. Fatale talks about the constant pain she is in from having all of these mismatched and unfixable, metal parts as part of her human/robotic clone body which I really think many of us older play goers also feel in our own bodies as we age and begin to lose our “superpowers” like running, playing certain sports and climbing stairs with ease, etc.
Also, the whole theme of wanting to “save the world” and trying and failing to do so over and over again is a theme many theatre goers of my generation identify with. Every day there is more news coverage of very real evil villains/people/ tyrants, but we as peaceful citizens with no apparent “superpowers” are thwarted from actually doing anything to help the victims around the world. Perhaps this is because of the “superpowers” to kill and destroy life that these criminals actually do have, including chemical warfare, heavy artillery, and now the prevalence of kidnapping, torture and rape (termed “child marriage” in third world countries), which is actually allowed by their judges and armed “police”.
I also enjoyed that the play introduces the element of magic as a power heretofore unrecognized by even the superheroes because it does not have the same clear destructive effects as a giant burning hot laser beam, for example.
In the end Fatale does help save the day and realizes that she is happy enough in the now moment to stop searching for her “origin story” and live amongst the superheroes with self-confidence and pride no matter whom she was originally created by or why.
I liked the songs in the play; I felt they really added a good flow and much more human and flowing emotional storytelling to what could have been an unpleasantly “robotic” and slightly stiff production in its execution.
I highly recommend this play for young and older viewers alike. I know that comic book enthusiasts will feel that they are seeing a rare treat created just for their enjoyment and others will appreciate the very important subtext in this play which is that you don’t have to be a successful “super heroine” twenty-four hours a day in order to feel good about yourself and whatever natural powers you do have for creating good in your life.
“Soon I will Be Invincible” is being performed at Lifeline Theatre through July 19th. For tickets and more information, visit www.lifelinetheatre.com.
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