Friday, November 17, 2017

WIN 4 Tickets (Up to $340 value!) to The Ruth Page Civic Ballet Nutcracker AND "Tea With Clara" Cast Meet and Greet 12/3/17

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


DECEMBER 2nd AND 3rd Only 

Featuring Guest Artists from Cuba’s National School of Ballet

The holidays are here and it's time to make some family memories! We're elated to partner up with The Ruth Page Civic Ballet's classic nutcracker to offer an exciting 4 Pack of Tickets/ “Tea with Clara” opportunity for one of our lucky readers. 

ENTER HERE for your chance to WIN!

Enter early and often through midnight on Monday November 27th. Winner will be e-mailed as well as posted here and on our social media. Ruth Page's classic version of The Nutcracker plays on December 2nd and 3rd only. ChiIL Mama is  offering 4 tickets for adults or children (Up to $340 value!) to not only one of the two shows on Sunday, but also admission to the special “Tea With Clara” event. The special event allows children and adults to meet and greet with the cast while also enjoying hot beverages and snacks after the 1 p.m. performance of The Nutcracker or before the 5 p.m. performance! 

The Ruth Page Civic Ballet is proud to present its annual production of The Nutcracker, with original choreography by Ruth Page, and co-directed by Victor Alexander and Dolores Lipinski Long. This production is performed at Northeastern Illinois University, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue in Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3 at 1 and 5 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $25 for general admission, $20 for seniors and children under the age of 12 years and $10 for NEIU students, faculty and staff, one ticket per I.D. card. 

Also available is “Tea with Clara,” a delightful tea party which patrons can enjoy with their favorite The Nutcracker characters from 3:15 – 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3. Tickets for “Tea with Clara” include admission to the tea party and either the 1 or 5 p.m. performance, and are $85 for adults and $50 for children under the age of 12 years. 

Performance tickets and “Tea with Clara” tickets are now on sale and may be purchased at

Central to the Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s performance schedule is its annual presentation of The Nutcracker, the popular recreation of the beloved holiday classic. Originally presented in the Arie Crown Theater from 1965 to 1997, the Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s performance recreates Ruth Page’s original full-length staging. Exquisite dancing, stunning costumes and magical settings in the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of the Sweets, these performances promise world-class entertainment and holiday joy for children of all ages. 

About Victor Alexander

Born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, and trained at the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA) in Havana. Alexander has had an extensive performing and choreographic career in the United States.  He is the director of the Ruth Page School of Dance and was also included in Dance Magazine’s prestigious “25 to Watch in 2013” list. Alexander is known for his riveting stage presence as he mixes formidable technique he gained in the rigorous training ground of Cuban dance schools with facility at theatrical interpretation. 

About Dolores Lipinski Long

Because of her lifetime connection to Ruth Page, Dolores Lipinski Long has been associated with the world's greatest dancers, choreographers, producers and designers. In addition to her role with the Ruth Page School of Dance as its associate director, she is also the co-director of the Ruth Page Civic Ballet. With her celebrated husband of 47 years, Larry Long, (1936-2009), Long co-founded the Ruth Page School of Dance.

About the Ruth Page Civic Ballet

An important component of the Ruth Page School of Dance is the Ruth Page Civic Ballet, its official training company for dancers 18-22 years of age and one of the Center's Artists In-Residence. Dancers are invited to take part in the Civic by it’s artistic director, Victor Alexander, who will guide and mentor each aspiring young artist during the one to two year program. The mission of the Ruth Page Civic Ballet is to identify, nurture and mentor emerging dance artists from around the world through enhanced performance opportunities within an elite training company.  Serving as a bridge between training and professional performance, company members will refine their ballet and contemporary techniques in an international environment of performers and educators before moving on to professional careers in dance. The Civic's dancers are joined in performances by notable guest artists and choreographers, expanding their sphere of professional work.

About the Ruth Page School of Dance

Offering the highest level of training to young dancers, professionals, and those who study dance for personal enrichment, the Ruth Page School of Dance was founded in 1971 by Ruth Page and Larry Long. Mr. Long, who went on to become the School’s much loved Director until his death in 2009, along with his wife and Co-Director, Dolores Lipinski, helped set the standard of excellence in dance training that continues to this day. Mikhail Baryshnikov in an interview during his dancing career, noted that Mr. Long was one of the ten best ballet teachers in the nation. Through his legacy, hundreds and hundreds of young dancers have gone on to professional careers throughout the world in the field they love. 

Led by Director Victor Alexander since 2013, and through an experienced and dedicated faculty of dance professionals and international partners, the Ruth Page School of Dance develops well-rounded dance artists through high-quality training.  The School also embraces diverse cultures as a source of inspiration for creativity and human self-expression in dance, creating lifelong ambassadors for the art of dance. By providing the highest level of training and personal development to each student, the School’s philosophy is all students will benefit from the discipline, creative thinking and emotional expressiveness that dance provides. With a strong commitment to international partners and collaborations, the Ruth Page School of Dance has developed a network of exceptional programs and exchanges with esteemed dance training centers in Spain, Italy and Cuba, among others. Significant among these is the relationship with Cuba’s National School of Ballet (Escuela Nacional de Cuba – ENB), which was a pioneering program and cultural exchange in 2015 between the two schools.

About the Ruth Page Center for the Arts

An incubator of artistic energy and excellence and the center of Chicago's dance history, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts carries forward the vision of international dance icon Ruth Page to make dance accessible to everyone, ensuring that children and dance artists have a place to study, work and perform at the highest level of excellence. Located at 1016 N. Dearborn Street, the Center serves the Chicago dance community by being an incubator, providing a home, office space, rehearsal space, performance opportunities, professional dance training and marketing support for the up-and-coming companies and artists of Chicago's vibrant dance scene. Founded by Chicago icon and internationally-renown performer and choreographer, Ruth Page, the Center reflects her vision of supporting dance excellence in Chicago. Emanating from the Illinois heartland, the visionary work of Ruth Page influenced the growth of theater design, opera-ballet and dance. She achieved worldwide recognition as a true pioneer of dance in America by creating at the forefront of social, political and artistic issues. As a prominent force in the Chicago arts community, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts continues that legacy through its initiatives and programs that nurture the art form of dance, and by being an arts incubator for emerging and established artists and organizations.

The Ruth Page Civic Ballet Season sponsors include David and Lynn Kravis Family Foundation, Northeastern Illinois University, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Copa Airlines, NIB Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

For more information about The Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts and its programs visit

Disclosure: Once again, ChiIL Mama is elated to partner up with The Ruth Page Civic Ballet's classic nutcracker to offer an exciting 4 Pack of Tickets/ “Tea with Clara” opportunity for one of our lucky readers. Thanks to The Ruth Page Civic Ballet for providing complimentary tickets for our giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, November 13, 2017

REVIEW: “Magic is Real” at The House Nutcracker!

Review by Catherine Hellmann, guest contributor 

The House Theatre of Chicago indeed produces magic. It is tough to be a Scrooge, even this early in the season on the night of our first snowfall, and resist the Christmas spirit with this delightful production of The Nutcracker. Everything feels merry and bright in the theater, from the lovely set with its numerous tall, elegant doors, the decorated Christmas tree, to the cast mingling with the crowd before the performance. There is such a big party atmosphere that gets everyone in the audience involved in the energy and enthusiasm. 

It’s hard to believe that this is the same space where I saw United Flight 232 just two months ago with its tunnel leading to the interior of the airplane. Or flying monkeys in Oz last March. Now the Chopin Theater is transformed with holiday cheer. The creativity and surprises that persist at House Theatre always amaze me. Little touches abound, like when each actor making an entrance from outside tosses a handful of fake snow into the air upon entrance, as if just stepping in from the cold. 

The show begins with a Christmas gathering of family; spirits are high as beloved son Fritz, a soldier, is due home for the holidays. The transition from gaiety to tragedy (spoiler alert!) is shocking as a somber figure appears suddenly at the door, dashing the party, a dreadful, military-folded funeral flag in hand. The Christmas tree is carried out like a coffin with pall bearers. The contrast is astounding. As my new BFF Kait Mikitin, the Audience Services Manager, told me,” Some audience members weep at that part or even walk out.” But that would be a shame to miss Clara’s grand adventure with her animated friends. 

Just as in the familiar version of The Nutcracker, Drosselmeyer is an intense, curious figure, both loving and slightly sinister. Torrey Hanson does not disappoint as the uncle everyone wants to have around for his company and awesome presents. (Everyone should have an Uncle Drosselmeyer who adores them and spoils them.) His gift is an odd one this time, a nutcracker version of her revered brother, Fritz. 

Haley Seda as Clara poignantly sings to her toys, and uses different funny voices to have them “respond” to her.  These toys later come to life and have the voices she portrayed earlier. 

The three toys are all so enchanting and wonderful, it is hard to pick a favorite. Rachel Shapiro as Phoebe the Doll has a good voice she uses to great effect in their songs. (I loved her yarn hair!) Ian Maryfield as the French sock monkey has a hilarious French accent and a couple of the best lines in the show. He was very playful and would startle and interact with audience members which was a hoot. Ben Hartel as Hugo, with his light-up hat, is the...uh...strange clown-like creature, was adorable and had great physical presence. All of them were dancing with children in the audience at intermission which was just charming.

Which brings up another point: this is a family-friendly show that kids can attend, although little ones might get a bit freaked out by the rats appearing in Act II. They are a bit creepy…   During one scene, an actor asked a question in the dialogue, and a small voice in the crowd answered. It was sweet and speaks to how this show is magical in its power to draw us in. 

My teen daughter thought “the walls opening up was cool.” Again, this is a trademark of House Theatre and how clever their theatrics are. When I asked my girl what she thought of the show, she answered: “The rats wanted Clara to stay in darkness with her brother, but she chose to enter the light where he was dead. It was like a closure thing.” Sounds like someone is paying attention in English class! 

Be sure to make a point of seeing House Theatre’s The Nutcracker this holiday season.  So much is going on in this show that you can see it repeatedly to catch the magic you missed the first time around. If you have family or out-of-town guests visiting over the holidays, this would be an unusual, hip holiday show for you to share with them that isn’t the typical fare. Be sure to buy a “Magic is Real” or “Time to Make Cookies” button at the Swag counter while you are there. 

For ticket links and further show info click HERE:

The House Theatre of Chicago once again brings holiday cheer for the whole family with its eighth annual engagement of the all-original, ballet-free The Nutcracker playing at The Chopin Theatre upstairs theatre, 1543 W. Division, November 3 – December 30. Company Members Jake Minton, Phillip Klapperich, Kevin O’Donnell and Tommy Rapley created the adaptation. New to the 2017 holiday production, based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story, is director and Company Member Chris Mathews with original direction and choreography by Tommy Rapley. 

Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Additional Saturday matinees at 3 p.m. begin regularly on Saturday, Nov. 25 and additional regular Sunday evening 7 p.m. performances begin on Sunday, Dec. 10. 

Preview tickets are $15 with regular run tickets $25 – $50. Student and industry same-day discounted tickets are available for $15 for all dates, based on availability. Tickets may be purchased by calling 773.769.3832 or by visiting

The Nutcracker is adapted from “The Nutcracker and the Mouse,” a story by E.T.A.
Hoffmann by Jake Minton, Phillip Klapperich, Kevin O’Donnell, and Tommy Rapley. 

Note: There are no performances on Christmas Eve, Sunday, Dec. 24th. 

Full Casting Announced for the North American Tour of IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


”This cozy trip down memory lane should be put on your wish list.” – The New York Times

“A holiday juggernaut. One well-loved Berlin tune after another.” – Los Angeles Times

“An instant classic!” – The Boston Herald

There's a fall chill in the air and it won't be long before the holidays arrive again in Chi, IL. Want to make some family memories with a multigenerational crowd pleaser this season? ChiIL Mama's got an eye on this gem, packed with Irving Berlin classics.

Broadway In Chicago and the producers of IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS are delighted to announce full casting for the North American Tour of IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS. The stage adaptation of the beloved classic film is coming to Broadway In Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph) this holiday season. Bring your loved ones for a heart-warming celebration of Americana during a limited two-week engagement that runs Nov. 21 - Dec. 3, 2017.

Tuesdays at 7:30PM
Wednesdays at 2:00PM & 7:30PM
Thursdays at 7:30PM
Fridays at 7:30PM
Saturdays at 2:00PM & 7:30PM
Sundays at 2:00PM 
*No performance on Thursday, Nov.23
*Additional matinee performance on Friday, Nov. 24

Individual tickets for IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS at the Cadillac Palace Theatre range from $18-$100 with a select number of premium seats available. Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.  Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at  For more information, visit

The show will star Sean Montgomery as "Bob Wallace," Jeremy Benton as "Phil Davis," Kerry Conte as "Betty Haynes," and Kelly Sheehan as "Judy Haynes.”  Also featured are Karen Ziemba as "Martha Watson," Conrad John Schuck as "General Waverly,” Gil Brady as "Ralph Sheldrake," Aaron Galligan-Stierle as "Mike Nulty," Cliff Bemis as "Ezekiel Foster," and Makayla Joy Connolly and Bella Yantis as "Susan Waverly." Rounding out the cast are Kelly Skidmore Black, Stephanie Brooks, Darien Crago, Laurie DiFilippo, Sarah Fagan, Drew Humphrey, Bryan Thomas Hunt, Matthew Kilgore, Brianna Latrash, Ann-Ngaire Martin, Danny McHugh, Chris McNiff, Bryan Charles Moore, Kristyn Pope, Sean Quinn, and Chelsea Williams.

IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS tells the story of two showbiz buddies putting on a show in a picturesque Vermont inn, and finding their perfect mates in the bargain.  Full of dancing, romance, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written, including "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," "Happy Holiday," "Sisters," "Blue Skies," and the unforgettable title song, “White Christmas,” IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS promises to be a merry and bright experience for the entire family!
The creative team for the National Tour includes Randy Skinner, direction and choreography; David Ives and Paul Blake, book; Anna Louizos, set design; Kenneth Foy, set adaptation; Carrie Robbins, costumes; Ken Billington, lighting design; Keith Caggiano, sound design; Larry Blank, orchestrations; Bruce Pomahac, vocal and additional arrangements; Michael Horsley, music direction; Binder Casting/Jay Binder, CSA, casting. The original Broadway production was directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Randy Skinner.

IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS is produced by Work Light Productions, whose other credits include the current touring productions of Rent 20th Anniversary Tour, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Motown the Musical, Something Rotten, and the upcoming tour of Clue.

IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS features music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, and is based upon the Paramount Pictures film written for the screen by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, and Melvin Frank.

For more information on IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS, visit

SEAN MONTGOMERY (Bob Wallace) Broadway: Groundhog Day (Original Broadway Cast), Matilda. National Tours: Mary Poppins, 9 to 5. Regional Theatre: Muny, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Baltimore Center Stage, Atlanta Theatre of the Stars. Member Of AEA And Sag-AFTRA. Training: University of Cincinnati CCM. Thank you to CGF Talent, Randy Skinner and Work Light. For more information visit: Www.Sean-Montgomery.Com Follow: @Seandmontgomery

KERRY CONTE (Betty Haynes) National Tour: Mary Poppins (Winifred Banks). Pre-Broadway: Roman Holiday. Off-Broadway: Lady, Be Good! (City Center Encores!); To Life! An Evening with Sheldon Harnick (92nd St Y); The Irish and How They Got That Way, Meet Me In St. Louis, Ernest in Love, A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Irish Rep); A World To Win, Housewives’ Cantata (York Theatre). Regional: My Fair Lady (Eliza), Mary Poppins (Mary) at Theatre By The Sea/North Shore MT,Hello, Dolly! (Irene) at MT Wichita, Brigadoon (Fiona) at New London Barn, Muny, Surflight.

JEREMY BENTON (Phil Davis) Most recently, Jeremy received an Astaire Award nomination for his Off-Broadway portrayal of "Bob Hope" in CAGNEY THE MUSICAL. Favorite performances include Billy Lawlor in 42ND STREET (Broadway-opposite Shirley Jones), Billy Crocker in ANYTHING GOES (National Tour-opposite Rachel York), Wally Winston in ANIMAL CRACKERS (Denver Center/Tap Choreographer), Kenneth Gibson in CALL ME MADAM (Lyric Theatre-opposite Beth Leavel), and THE PRODUCERS MOVIE (Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick). Love to MJM! Check out:

KELLY SHEEHAN (Judy Haynes) Kelly is thrilled to once again travel with White Christmas spreading holiday cheer across the country! Broadway: 42nd Street (Lorraine), Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Ens (08 & 09). Favorite regional credits include, Dream Laurey, Oklahoma, Sheila, A Chorus Line, Girl in Green, Singing in the Rain, and Flossie, On the Town. Favorite TV credit includes dancing next to James Corden on the 2016 Tony Awards! Thanks Randy, Jay, Nancy, Steve, Michael, and my generous parents. And love to my handsome boyfriend Bryan!

CONRAD JOHN SCHUCK (General Waverly). Broadway: Annie with Sarah Jessica Parker, Annie Get Your Gun with Reba and Nice Work If You Can Get It with Matthew Broderick. London: The Caine Mutiny with Charleton Heston. Film: M*A*S*H (Painless), Star Trek IV & VI(Klingon Ambassador), Outrageous Fortune with Bette Midler and Woody Allen’s Curse of the Jade Scorpion. TV: Sgt. Enright in McMillan and Wife with Rock Hudson and recent guest roles in Law and Order and Law and Order SVU.

KAREN ZIEMBA (Martha Watson) received the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance in CONTACT at Lincoln Center Theatre. For some of her other Broadway, off-Broadway and national appearances she’s garnered three Tony Award nominations, the Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, and Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award. Select theatre credits: PRINCE OF BROADWAY, STEEL PIER, CURTAINS, SWEENEY TODD, NEVER GONNA DANCE, BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, CRAZY FOR YOU, HELLO DOLLY!, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION. TV: The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, Law and Order, C.I/S.V.U., The Kennedy Center Honors, and PBS’ Great Performances.

GIL BRADY (Ralph Sheldrake, u/s Bob Wallace) "Shear Madness" (Off-Broadway and The Kennedy Center), "National Pastime" (Playwrights Horizons). Regional: "Baskerville" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Syracuse Stage); "Mamma Mia" (Capital Rep); "Outside Mullingar," "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" and "Spamalot (Florida Studio Theatre); "Grease" (Fulton Theatre); "Around The World in 80 Days" (Theatresquared); National Tour of "Annie." TV: "My Affair..." (Lifetime Movie Network), "All My Children," and "Law and Order: SVU."

MAKAYLA JOY CONNOLLY (Susan Waverly) is extremely excited to be debuting in her first Broadway National Tour in White Christmas. Recent credits: Off-Broadway Annie (Annie) & Solo Cabaret, Engeman Theater Gypsy, Little Mermaid (Flounder) Seussical (JoJo), Carnegie Hall, National Anthem-USS Intrepid, Long Islands Got Talent Top Finalist, NY Yankee Commercial. Many thanks to L'il Angels Unlimited, Innovative Artists, Work Light productions, her amazing coaches & supportive family for believing in her!

BELLA YANTIS (Susan Waverly) National Tour Debut! Favorite credits: Horizon Theater, Atlanta; Madeline's Christmas (Madeline), Beauty and the Beast (Belle), Annie (Annie), Suessical the Musical (JoJo). Special thanks to Randy Skinner, WLP, Rochelle Shulman of RKS Management, Binder Casting and family and friends for their support. More than anything Bella would like to thank God for this special opportunity, she is beyond thrilled for this experience!

AARON GALLIGAN-STIERLE (Mike Nulty, Sheldrake u/s) 2nd year White Christmas. Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera (Monsieur Andre), Ragtime (Henry Ford), and The Grinch (Papa Who). Regional: Utah Shakespeare Festival (7 seasons), Kennedy Center, Papermill Playhouse, TUTS, Finger Lakes Music Theater, Maine State Music Theater, and many more. Executive Producer for feature film “Ruin Me." Works additionally as a director and professional audition coach.  BFA Shenandoah (Musical Theater) MFA Penn State (Acting). Love to Shannon, Devin and Zoe.

CLIFF BEMIS (Ezekiel, Snoring Man) CLIFF BEMIS originated the role of Ezekiel Foster in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, on Broadway. First National Tour;The Drowsy Chaperone. Regional theatres include LaJolla Playhouse, Papermill Playhouse, Cleveland Play House, Pasadena Playhouse. Films; Billy, Nancy Drew, World Trade Center, Au Pair II. TV; White Collar, Law and Order SVU, Dallas, and Cheers. He established the Cliff Bemis Music Theatre Scholarship at his alma mater, Baldwin Wallace University. Actor's Equity since 1968.

KELLY BLACK (Ensemble). Tours: White Christmas, 42nd Street (Asia Tour). Favorite Regional: Thoroughly Modern Millie (Ruth)-Paper Mill Playhouse, Mame (Pegeen Ryan), The Addams Family-Ogunquit Playhouse, Backwards In High Heels (Ginger Rogers), Love to Duce and Ruby

STEPHANIE BROOKS (Ensemble) Tours: 42nd Street, Mamma Mia!, Ad Deum Dance Company, Apassionata. Regional: Mary Poppins, Swing!, Chicago(RCCL). Stephanie is the Co-Founder and Outreach Director of ALMA NYC. BFA University of Arizona. @sebrooks09

DARIEN CRAGO (Ensemble) is delighted to be back with her 'White Christmas family' for a third season. Select Credits: Holiday Inn (Broadway), LADY, BE GOOD, PAINT YOUR WAGON (NYC Encores!). Thank you to Randy and love to my family.

LAURIE DIFILIPPO (Ensemble) Laurie DiFilippo is thrilled and beyond grateful to be touring with this incredible cast and crew of IBWC. Favorite Credits: IBWC, Beauty and the Beast (Nat'l Tour), 42nd Street, Crazy For You, Sweet Charity.

SARAH FAGAN (Ensemble) Tours: White Christmas, 42nd Street. Regional: Holiday Inn, Crazy For You, Anything Goes, Singin’ in the Rain. Thanks to Randy, Binder, the IBWC team, my dance teachers, family, and Layne! OKCU grad.
DREW HUMPHREY (Ensemble) Drew Humphrey is excited to return to his IBWC family! Broadway: Irving White Christmas (Cast Recording); New York/Tours: Lady Be Good(Encores!), Of Thee I Sing(Encores!), 42nd Street (1st National).
BRYAN HUNT THOMAS (Ensemble) Tours: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas(Kennedy Center) and Billy Elliot. Regional: Alliance, Ahmanson, Goodspeed, MUNY, North Shore, Ogunquit Playhouse, Paper Mill, Westchester, Berskhire Theatre Festival. Thanks to CGF and Team Hunt. Love to Kelly!
MATTHEW J. KILGORE (Ensemble) IBWC Year 11!! Broadway: White Christmas. Off-Broadway: No, No, Nannette. Tours: CHICAGO, Fiddler on the Roof, Evita, J.C. Superstar, 42nd Street. TV: Smash. Thanks: Binder, Bloc, Randy, Mary, family, friends...especially Nick!

BRIANNA LATRASH (Ensemble) NOLA SLT: Thoroughly Modern Millie (Millie Dillmount); The Lexington Theatre Company: Legally Blonde (Brooke Wyndham), 42nd Street; Cincinnati Pops: The Music Man. BFA: CCM Musical Theatre. Thanks to family and CTG! To the Max. @briannalatrash

DANNY MCHUGH (Ensemble) is grateful to be back in Vermont for the holidays! National Tour: Rock of Ages (Drew), White Christmas (2016). Regional: Floyd Collins (Floyd), Cats (Rum Tum Tugger), Singin’ In The Rain (Don). Love to Jess!

CHRIS MCNIFF (Ensemble) is SNOW excited to be back for his 2nd year of the IBWC Tour! National Tour: Memphis. Regional: Stages St. Louis, Arkansas Rep, Northern Stage. Thanks to Randy, Binder, and family! BFA: Elon University. @mcnriff

ANN NGAIRE MARTIN (Mrs. Snoring Man, Sheldrake Secretary, Martha u/s) Broadway: Grease (Patti Simcox). Off Broadway: Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey U/S), On the Swing Shift (Maisie). Regional: The Bridges of Madison County (Marge), Memphis (Gladys), Gypsy (Tessie). Tours: 2014 White Christmas, Annie (Lily).

BRYAN CHARLES MOORE (Ensemble) is a native of St. Paul, MN, and attended Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. Credits include - National Tours: White Christmas, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Regional: West Side Story, Mary Poppins, Rock of Ages.

KRISTYN POPE (Rita, Ensemble, Dance Captain) is grateful for Randy, Binder, Worklight, and this wonderful opportunity! BA Psychology, Northwestern University. “I love you mom, my angel. You’ll always be in my heart.” PS 100Agape.

SEAN QUINN (Swing, Asst. Dance Captain). Excited to return to White Christmas! Regional: Papermill, North Shore, Gateway, Stages St Louis. Tours: Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Joseph...Dreamcoat and Cinderella starring Lea Salonga. For his family. S'agapo.

CHELSEA WILLIAMS (Tessie, Ensemble, u/s Betty Haynes) Broadway: In Transit, Mamma Mia!. National Tours: Mamma Mia!. Other: Maine State Music Theatre, Lyric Stage Co. (Boston), Gloucester Stage. BFA Emerson College. Much love to Nancy, Binder, and the creative team. For more: @chelseawillyums

Broadway In Chicago was created in July 2000 and over the past 17 years has grown to be one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country.  A Nederlander Presentation, Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining well up to 1.7 million people annually in five theatres. Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop including the Cadillac Palace Theatre, CIBC Theatre, Oriental Theatre, and just off the Magnificent Mile, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place and presenting Broadway shows at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.
For more information, visit

Facebook @BroadwayInChicago ● Twitter @broadwaychicago ● Instagram @broadwayinchicago ● #broadwayinchicago

WIN Family 6 Ticket Passes ($62 Value) to Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG) For This Weekend 11/18 or 19

Four of ChiIL Mama's lucky readers will each win a ChiTAG Family Pass good for up to 2 adults/4 kids for this Saturday or Sunday!
Enter at the bottom of this feature

Did you know November 15-19th is Chicago Toy & Game week?! ChiIL Mama's been running ticket giveaways and original photo features on my family's adventures at ChiTAG for years now, and whether you're a regular or you've never been, we're inviting YOU to come ChiIL out with ChiIL Mama this weekend. 

Disclosure: ChiIL Mama has been partnering up with ChiTAG for 8 years now. They have provided us with complimentary tickets for review purposes and for our giveaway. As always all opinions, adventures and photos are my own.

ChiIL Mama has run 24+ ChiTAG features over the years!

ChiTAG is a fabulously fun annual event at Navy Pier that's open to the public, and a great way to get a jump on your holiday shopping. There are plenty of hands on opportunities for kids of all ages to try out toys and oversized versions of favorite games. Often toy and game inventors are even attending and happy to sign autographs or answer questions! 

It was our great pleasure to meet John Spinello, the mastermind behind the game Operation! 

Join us... for a wonder-inspiring weekend at the 15th annual Fair brought to you as part of the Chicago Toy & Game (ChiTAG) Week - the largest non-hobby toy and game fair open to the public in North America! Enjoy the many special events that appeal to all ages 0 to 100! 

2017 Awesome Events!

U.S. National Rummikub Championship - winner goes to World Championship in Israel
Giant Soggy Doggy! (and we mean GIANT)
Meet Princess-Etch-A-Sketch, Ride the PlayMonster Super Swing
LIVE Unboxing: Check out live unboxings from our Play Influencer team!
Ultra Dash Game Race, Automoblox Play Area and Race Track
Interactive Exhibits, Test out Products Before They Hit Retail Shelves
Photo Ops: Snap a photo with some of your favorite characters from Star Wars!
Meet Toy & Game Inventors from Around the World
Shop for the Hottest New and Classic Toys for the Holidays
Enter the Young Inventor Challenge
Chicago's Largest Brush-a-Thon
Yo-Yo Championship - Contestants from Coast to Coast
Be entertained by Ben’s Giant Bubble Show
Giveaways, Stage Events, Magic Shows, Contests

Once again, educators and librarians are our guests at the Fair. We LOVE educators. Toys and games are educational! 

The Chicago Toy & Game Fair has always offered free admission to Scouts in uniform and Scout leaders with credentials. There is a registration table by the Fair entrance or register now online and bring your admission ticket with you - no waiting in line. If you come on Saturday, the Festival of Lights Parade on Michigan Avenue is that evening - great way to top off a fun day! 

Firefighters, police and active and military veterins are admitted FREE as well! 
Check out their ticketing page for more information on qualifying for free admission.

Happy Toy & Game week! Here at ChiIL Mama we're huge advocates of creativity, inventiveness and the power of play. 

ChiIL Mama's Giving Away (4) Family Weekend Passes good for 2 adults + 4 kids (max) for a family of 6. Enter through midnight Wednesday 11/15. Winners will be e-mailed as well as announced here and on our social media this Thursday.

If Thursday comes and you're not one of our 4 Family Pass Winners or you won and need more than 6 tickets, ChiIL Mama's also offering a 50% off Discount code for our readers: Enter the code ChiTAGPLAY and REGISTER HERE

Disclosure: ChiIL Mama has been partnering up with ChiTAG for 8 years now. They have provided us with complimentary tickets for review purposes and for our giveaway. As always all opinions, adventures and photos are my own.

OPENING: First Female Tiny Tim and Tenth Year with Larry Yando at Goodman's Acclaimed Annual Production of A Christmas Carol


November 18 – December 31

Over four decades, 1.5 million people have delighted in the spectacular storytelling, glorious music and Scrooge’s unforgettable discovery of kindness, generosity and love. Ten directors, eight Ebenezer Scrooges and 29 Tiny Tims later, 
Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol celebrates 40 years


ChiIL Mama can't wait to catch Goodman's A Christmas Carol yet again this season. We wouldn't miss it for the largest turkey in the window! Many familiar favorites are cast this year, led by the indomitable Larry Yando who is always a joy to see in action. We're also fond of Molly Brennan, Ghost of Christmas Past
and Ariana Burks, Martha Cratchit/Fan. This production is always excellent and a surefire bet for family friendly fun. Tickets are a great holiday gift idea and can become a fun, multigenerational tradition. We'll be out for the press opening on 11/27, so check back soon for our full review.

Now in his fifth year, Artistic Associate Henry Wishcamper directs Charles Dickens’ universal tale of hope and redemption with a cast of 25 featuring Larry Yando in his 10th turn as Ebenezer Scrooge, Paris Strickland in her Goodman debut as the theater’s first female Tiny Tim and a line-up of newcomers and returning favorites; a complete cast list appears below. As part of the milestone production, the Goodman partners with Autism Speaks-Chicago to offer its first-ever sensory-friendly performance on December 30 for families with members who have autism or other social, cognitive and physical challenges that create sensory sensitivities. 


A Christmas Carol appears November 18 – December 31; press/opening is November 27 at 7pm. Tickets ($25 - $112; subject to change) are available at, by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 N. Dearborn).Tickets (starting at $15, with promo code SENSORY) and resource materials, lobby and seating maps for the December 30 performance are now available at Fifth Third Bank is the Major Corporate Sponsor and Allstate Insurance Company and KPMG LLP are the Corporate Sponsor Partners. Macy’s is a Sensory-friendly Performance Sponsor. Photo/video of previous productions now available here in the Press Room.

“We’re extremely proud to present the 40th annual production of A Christmas Carol. The ability to share this story each year with audiences is an enormous privilege and has unquestionably been the highlight of my life in the theater,” said Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who established the production as an annual offering in 1978—a time when only a handful of U.S. theaters produced it. “For all of us at the Goodman, A Christmas Carol is much more than a holiday entertainment or diversion. In fact, we believe that Charles Dickens’ story promotes values that are universal and true everywhere in the world—compassion, understanding, love, empathy, forgiveness and redemption. I am grateful to all of the countless artists, professionals and patrons who make it possible.”

In addition to Yando, returning cast members include: Kareem Bandealy as Narrator/Young Scrooge/Scrooge Alternate; Ariana D. Burks as Martha Cratchit; Lisa Gaye Dixon as Ghost of Christmas Present; Joe Foust as Jacob Marley; J. Salomé Martinez as Abe; Ron E. Rains as Bob Cratchit; Sadieh Rifai as Belle; Penelope Walker as Mrs. Fezziwig; and Jonah D. Winston as Mr. Fezziwig— and musicians Justin Amolsch, Andrew Coil, Greg Hirte and Malcolm Ruhl. The newcomers include Breon Arzell as Dick Wilkins; Molly Brennan as Ghost of Christmas Past; Ali Burch as Frida; Meighan Gerachis as Schoolteacher; and Michele Vazquez as Mrs. Cratchit.

The young performers in A Christmas Carol, cast from hundreds of Chicagoland children who auditioned, also include Margaret Chong, 10 (Chicago), as Emily Cratchit; Andrea Crisp, 10 (Darien), as Belinda Cratchit; Cameron Goode, 15 (Country Club Hills), as Boy Scrooge; Kei, 9 (Chicago), as Turkey Boy; and Aaron Stone, 14 (Round Beach Lake), returning as Peter Cratchit. 

Dickens’ holiday classic is the iconic tale of greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, whose sizable bank account is only matched by his disdain for the holidays. One Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by four ghosts who take him on a spectacular adventure through his past, present and future, helping him rediscover the joys of life, love and friendship.

Full Company of A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens, Adapted by Tom Creamer, Directed by Henry Wishcamper

Justin Amolsch……………………………………………..Musician, French Horn
Breon Arzell…………………………………………………Dick Wilkins
Kareem Bandealy…………………………………………..Narrator/Young Scrooge/Scrooge Alternate
Molly Brennan………………………………………………Ghost of Christmas Past
Ali Burch……………………………………………………..Frida
Ariana Burks………………………………………………...Martha Cratchit/Fan
Margaret Chong………………………………………….....Emily Cratchit
Andrew Coil………………………………………………….Musician, Fiddler
Andrea Crisp………………………………………………...Belinda Cratchit
Lisa Gaye Dixon…………………………………………….Ghost of Christmas Present
Joe Foust…………………………………………………….Jacob Marley/Young Marley/Old Joe
Meighan Gerachis………………………………………......Schoolteacher/Charwoman
Cameron Goode……………………………………………..Boy Scrooge/Percy
Greg Hirte…………………………………………………….Musician, Fiddler
J. Salomé Martinez……………………………………….....Abe/Mr. Ortle
Ron E. Rains…………………………………………………Bob Cratchit
Kei……………………………………………………………..Turkey Boy
Sadieh Rifai…………………………………………………..Belle
Malcolm Ruhl………………………………………………...Music Director, Accordion
Aaron Stone………………………………………………….Peter Cratchit
Paris Strickland……………………………………………...Tiny Tim
Michele Vazquez …………………………………………....Mrs. Cratchit
Penelope Walker………………………………………….....Mrs. Fezziwig/Mrs. Crumb
Jonah D. Winston…………………………………………....Mr. Fezziwig
Larry Yando…………………………………………………..Ebenezer Scrooge

Creative Team

Todd Rosenthal……………………………………………..Set Designer
Heidi Sue McMath……………………………………….....Costume Designer
Andrew Hansen……………………………………………..Composer
Richard Woodbury………………………………………….Sound Designer
Malcolm Ruhl………………………………………………..Music Director
Keith Parham………………………………………………..Lighting Designer
Tommy Rapley ……………………………………………..Choreographer
Eva Breneman………………………………………………Dialect Coach
Alden Vasquez………………………………………………Production Stage Manager
Jonathan Nook……………………………………………...Stage Manager
Flying effects are provided by ZFX Inc. 

AMERICA’S “BEST REGIONAL THEATRE” (Time magazine), Goodman Theatre is a premier not-for-profit organization distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres in the past three decades), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics (celebrated revivals include Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh ). Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, over 160 Jeff Awards and many more accolades. In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle” and its annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this season, has created a new generation of theatergoers. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production partner with local off-Loop theaters and national and international companies by providing financial support or physical space for a variety of artistic endeavors.

Committed to three core values of Quality, Diversity and Community, the Goodman proactively makes inclusion the fabric of the institution and develops education and community engagement programs that support arts as education. This practice uses the process of artistic creation to inspire and empower youth, lifelong learners and audiences to find and/or enhance their voices, stories and abilities. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of such programming, most offered free of charge, and has vastly expanded the theater’s ability to touch the lives of Chicagoland citizens (with 85% of youth participants coming from underserved communities) since its 2016 opening.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. David W. Fox, Jr. is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

Follow @GoodmanTheatre  
#AChristmasCarolCHI for behind-the-scenes info and more!

OPENING: Cirque du Soleil's Crystal at Ford Centre in Hoffman Estates November 16th-19th

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Cirque du Soleil Fuses Excitement, Breathtaking Artistry and
Unique Creativity with Ice in
A Breakthrough Ice Experience

To be presented at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates,
in six performances only, November 16-19, 2017

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows, we never miss a chance to catch Cirque du Soleil's world class shows. We adore circus arts and Cirque du Soleil is truly state of the art. Thanks to Cirque du Soleil, this Friday we'll be ChiILin' in the burbs of Chi, IL, at Hoffman Estates' Sears Center for the latest Cirque show to come through town. We have been given complimentary tickets for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

This show is sure to be cool (literally!) as it features the artistic attributes of ice! Do note, unlike the tent shows that stick around town for months, Cirque du Soleil's arena shows are always a short run, and this new work is playing the Chicago area for 6 shows only. Don't miss this. Get your tickets ASAP! 

My son and daughter have both studied circus arts for years and have performed on stage with Chi, IL based Actors Gymnasium and CircEsteem. They've also studied with Chicago's MSA Circus and Aloft. So, I'm elated to be able to bring the whole family out to see how the pros perform and merge ice with performance art. We can't wait to check out Crystal!

Cirque du Soleil is thrilled to venture into uncharted territory with its brand new creation, Cirque du Soleil Crystal, exploring the artistic attributes of ice for the very first time. Specifically created for arenas, the state-of-the-art production will create a fresh innovative experience, pushing the boundaries once again by combining outstanding skating and sliding, remarkable aesthetics and acrobatic feats that defy the imagination.

“We are excited to create a unique entertainment experience on ice for all spectators to enjoy. It's a wonderful opportunity for Cirque du Soleil as ice provides us with an entirely new field of play which also comes with a set of creative challenges. Our goal is to continuously surprise audiences by showcasing all the incredible possibilities on ice,” explained Yasmine Khalil, Executive Producer of Crystal.

Crystal will follow a young woman who shatters through reality to reach a surreal world filled with possibility. Beneath the surface, she pursues the life that has been glistening within. Sometimes, we must first leave solid ground to find our true footing.

Cirque du Soleil invites the audience to discover Crystal – A Breakthrough Ice Experience – and find out what it means to skate on the edge of reality.

Performance Schedule & Ticket Information
Cirque du Soleil Crystal will be presented at the Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates, IL in six performances only, November 16-19, 2017. Performances take place Thursday - Friday, November 16-17, at 7:30pm; Saturday, November 18, at 3:30 & 7:30pm; and Sunday, November 19, at 1 & 5pm.

Tickets for Cirque du Soleil Crystal start at $30.00 and go on sale Wednesday, June 21, at 10am by phone at 888-SEARSTIX (732-7784) or online by visiting

Forsythe Technology is the Official Sponsor of Crystal in the United States

Cirque du Soleil
Crystal is Cirque du Soleil’s 42nd original production since 1984. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 180 million spectators in more than 450 cities on six continents. Cirque du Soleil has over 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from 50 different countries.
For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit
More information about Crystal by Cirque du Soleil can be found, and on  Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Disclosure: ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows have been partnering up with Cirque du Soleil for years, on Chicago area promotions, giveaways and reviews. Once again, we have been given complimentary tickets for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

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