Wednesday, January 16, 2019

WIN 4 Tickets To Suzi Shelton, Winter Fest AND Animal Farm at Beat Kitchen The Next 3 Sundays!

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List:
Brooklyn's Favorite kindie star, Suzi Shelton takes the stage with Chicago's own Little Miss Ann this Sunday at noon!

Here at ChiIL Mama, we've been proud press sponsors for Concerts for Kids every season since 2010. Check back with weekly, for great free ticket giveaways, entertainment news, reviews, and original photo features. We're your ticket to family fun in Chi, IL and beyond.

Bring your rock tots, little folk, and punk kin out to Chicago's best weekly kindie series. Families can order food and drinks while the littles dance to live bands. Full bar available, with some of the best bloody marys in town. Geared toward birth-6 year olds with parents. Pre-walkers are free!

Enter below for your chance to win tickets to any/all of the next 3 Sunday noon shows, including our multi band Winter Fest! 

Award-winning children's recording artist Suzi Shelton stops by the Beat Kitchen this Sunday as part of her tour! Her fourth album released last year has something for every listener, from powerful upbeat and inspiring, to whimsical and chill.

Suzi's shook up her musical style to some fresh eclectic-pop with a modern edge. Co-produced by two of her band mates, Greg Mayo (Jon Bon Jovi, Blood, Sweat & Tears) and Dan Weiner (The Cher Show, STOMP, America's Got Talent Band), Her new album is all about reminding everyone that they can express themselves joyously.

Concerts for Kids at the Beat Kitchen 
Suzi Shelton with special guest Little Miss Ann!
2100 West Belmont
Chicago, Illinois
(773) 281-4444

Get tickets

Suzi Shelton is a multi-award winning singer/songwriter and family performer based in Brooklyn, NY who has been bringing joy and musical fun to families for over a decade. She has four albums under her belt and a popular show on her YouTube Channel called "Sing with Suzi" featuring weekly videos for young children. Suzi will be returning to Concerts for Kids at The Beat Kitchen on Sunday, January 20th with special guest (and good friend) Little Miss Ann from Chicago! 

Suzi's music is heard on family-friendly radio stations across the country, and her latest album "Hand In Hand"  is filled with upbeat, inspiring and powerful songs about believing in yourself as well as more whimsical songs about ladybugs and raindrops. Her new musical style is "eclectic-pop with a modern edge" and she has already taken home both a NAPPA and a Parents' Choice Award! 

If you have never experienced Suzi's live shows before, they are a perfect match for our family performances as they are high energy, engaging, musically exceptional, and inclusive of all families with a wide variety of backgrounds. We hope to see you on January 20th!

Every Sunday:
Doors at 11:30, music at 12:00. Tickets are $6 in advance or $7 at the door.

Enter to WIN a Family 4 Pack of Tickets To Suzy Shelton/Little Miss Ann 1/20/19 at noon ($24 Value)! Enter through midnight this Thursday 1/17.

Scroll down and enter any or all of our 3 different ticket giveaways here. Please double check your dates and only enter the shows you're able to attend. Enter below for your shot at tickets to any/all of these upcoming shows. Winners will be announced the Friday before each concert. Enter like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often. is your ticket to fun in Chi, IL and beyond!

 Enter to WIN a Family 4 Pack of Tickets to Winter Fest 1/27/19 ($40 Value)!

4 Bands, Activities and Fun
Sun Jan 27 2019
11:00 AM (Doors 10:30 AM)
Beat Kitchen
2100 West Belmont
Chicago, IL 60618

All Ages

Enter to WIN a Family 4 Pack of Tickets To Animal Farm 2/3/19 ($24 Value)!

Join Animal Farm as we play another hometown ho-down with Concerts for Kids at Beat Kitchen. We'll be playing many tunes off of our new album, We Are One. 

Sun Feb 3 2019
12:00 PM (Doors 11:30 AM)
Beat Kitchen
2100 West Belmont
Chicago, IL 60618
All Ages

Disclosure: We've been pleased to partner up with Beat Kitchen since 2010. They have provided complimentary tickets for our giveaways. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

JANUARY 17-27, 2019

Here at ChiIL Live Shows and ChiIL Mama, we've covered every biennial season of The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, that rocks Chi, IL every other year. I'll be back out for 2019, reviewing in person at the puppet fest kick-off at The Studebaker Theater this Thursday. 

Ajijaak on Turtle Island, co-directed by Heather Henson, daughter of legendary puppeteer Jim Henson, and Grammy Award winner
Ty Defoe, is a fabulous, family friendly First Nations spectacle.

Studebaker Theater
In Chicago's Fine Arts Building
410 S. Michigan Avenue

This amazing new work brings together an ensemble of Native American performers to tell the tale of Ajijaak, a young whooping crane who must face her first migration cycle on Turtle Island
(North America) after being separated from her family.

Puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™, indigenous songs and dances and video projections create a transformative experience that honors contemporary Native American cultures and illustrates the harmonious relationships between humans, animals and the environment.

This Saturday I'll be reviewing 3 or 4 more puppet picks including 

Chambre Noir at 2pm, 

Papercut at 9pm 

and Nasty, Brutish and Short at 11pm. 

Thursday the 24th I'll be out to review L’après-midi d’un foehn Version 1 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater's The Yard. 

Check back with us like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often, for our top puppet picks, Chicago entertainment news, reviews, interviews, and ticket giveaways! (family friendly) and (adult) are your ticket to fun. 

The 3rd Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is just two days away, boasting a wildly diverse line-up of contemporary puppet acts and artists from Chicago, the U.S. and around the world at venues large and small throughout the city, January 17-27, 2019.

Founded to establish Chicago as a center for the advancement of the art of puppetry, the citywide Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival will present more than 100 performances of 24 shows and events from 10 countries at 19 different Chicago-area venues.

Following are the latest schedule updates, including new artists and opening acts, newly added performances for several presentations that are already sold out, and the final schedule for the free Festival Neighborhood Tour.

Visit the festival website,, to purchase tickets and learn more about this world pageant of puppet artists and shows for residents and visitors to experience January 17-27: 11 days when Chicago will reign as the puppetry capital of the world:

The Pigeoning
By Robin Frohardt
Friday, January 18 - Saturday, January 19
Instituto Cervantes de Chicago, 31 W. Ohio St., Chicago
January 18 and 19: Friday at 5 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Tickets: $20/$15 students and Cervantes members
For ages 4 and up
Run time: 60 minutes

Obsessed with cleanliness and order, Frank is also plagued by pigeons. Convinced the pigeons are plotting against him, Frank sets out on an adventure to solve a problem that perhaps isn’t really there? The Pigeoning is a comedic yet heartfelt story that spins articulate puppetry, original music, and lo-fi special effects into an epic tale about the illusion of safety and control in the context of the end of the world. A show The New York Times called a “tender, fantastical symphony of the imagination” and “exquisitely rendered, very funny.”

Known for her rich aesthetic and highly detailed constructions, Robin Frohardt is an award-winning artist, puppet designer and director living in Brooklyn, NY. Frohardt has a knack for taking a simple premise to an elaborate realization. Her rich imagination, unique sense of humor and stunning technical craft come together to create work that defies the conventions of traditional storytelling.

*Note: The Pigeoning replaces JoJo by Borja Ytuquepintas. Dates, times and ticket prices remain the same.

Suspended Animation
The Huber Marionettes
Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago
January 25-27: Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $20/$15 students
Run Time: 45 minutes
For ages 8 and up

Emmy award-winning master and the puppeteer behind Being John Malkovich, Phillip Huber, brings a stunning range of marionettes in this sophisticated performance praised as “a marvel” by the Los Angeles Times. The Huber Marionettes' incredible, complex puppets and manipulations are famed around the world. Sure to delight all audiences and to surprise even the most knowledgeable puppet fans.

An internationally recognized “artist with marionettes,” Phillip Huber is most widely known for his work in the 3-time Academy Award nominated film Being John Malkovich. His performance as “China Girl” is featured in the Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful staring James Franco, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis. In the contemporary art world Phillip created a special rock opera performance piece Don’t Trust Anyone over Thirty in collaboration with concept artists Dan Graham and video artist Tony Ousler for performances in Miami, Berlin, Vienna and Minneapolis Contemporary Art Museum venues, plus an art installation for the Whitney Biennale 2006 in New York. Phillip’s production of Suspended Animation has been seen worldwide with theatrical tours in Japan, France, Chile, Israel, Switzerland, South Korea, Norway, Spain, Brazil, Ireland and Portugal.

*Note: Suspended Animation replaces the previously announced Pinocchio from Teatro del Drago. Dates, times and ticket prices remain the same.


Shank's Mare
Just Added! Friday, January 18 at 2:30 p.m.
(Sold-out: January 17-19: Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.)
Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave. Stock Exchange Trading Room
Tickets: $35; $30 students and Art Institute members
Run Time: 80 minutes
For ages 8 and up

Presented on the occasion of the exhibition Painting the Floating World:
Ukiyo-e Masterpieces from the Weston Collection, Shank’s Mare is a collaborative puppet performance by American puppet artist Tom Lee and Japanese traditional puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V. This beautifully detailed production combines traditional kuruma ningyo puppetry, live video projection of miniature sets and a haunting score on hammered dulcimer, Japanese shamisen, and flute to tell the story of two wandering travelers whose paths intersect in time and space. This performance is supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Artstour Program.

Tabletop Tragedies
Just Added! Saturday, January 26 at 2 p.m.
(Sold-out: January 24-26: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.)
By Cabinet of Curiosity (Chicago)
Links Hall, Studio B, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $20/$15 students and seniors
For ages 12 and up
Run time: 85 minutes

Tabletop Tragedies is a triptych of works by Chicago’s Frank Maugeri with longtime collaborator Seth Bockley —The Last Matador, The Death and Life of Billy The Kid, and A Simple Soul. These irreverent, imaginative and affecting works, scored by Liz Chidester, tell true stories of fate and redemption using an astonishing range of techniques including hand-carved wooden puppets, beastly masks, haunting music and an epic Wild West chase scene performed on paper scrolls.

L’après-midi d’un foehn Version 1
New show added! Sunday, January 27 at 5:30 p.m.
(Already announced: January 23-27: Wednesday-Friday at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday at 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.)
By Compagnie Non Nova (France)
Created by Phia Ménard
Co-presented with Chicago Shakespeare Theater
The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $25
Run time: 30 minutes
For all ages

Prepare to be blown away! France’s Compagnie Non Nova takes an ordinary object—a flimsy plastic shopping bag—and transforms it into something magical. Anthropomorphized plastic figures take flight buffeted on invisible waves as a performer manipulates them with precise, complex choreography, creating an intoxicating visual ballet out of the everyday. The Guardian called L’après-midi d’un foehn Version 1 “A brilliant metaphor of art and the imagination,” while Express U.K. raved it’s “the best use of the derided plastic bag ever seen.


Visiting artist Jeghetto has a new opening act: Chicago puppeteer Sam Lewis with A Puppet Day in America, featuring his puppet Jus Hambone: unjust stereotype from the past turned contemporary lens. This short work is a collaboration with Chicago artist Marvin Tate, tap dancer Time Brickey, and performers Jennifer Ligaya and Aquil Charlton. 

Just Another Lynching
By Jeghetto (North Carolina)
With newly added opening act A Puppet Day in America by Sam Lewis (Chicago)
Links Hall, Studio B, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago
Saturday, January 20 at 4 p.m. is sold out
Tickets remain for Saturday, January 19, 7 p.m. & Sunday, January 20, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $20/$15 students/seniors
Run time: 45 minutes plus post-performance conversation
For ages 12 and up

Just Another Lynching features puppets built by Jeghetto, who created this fictional story about a black man being lynched in the South in 1921. This story addresses the racial injustices that built this country. Due to its content, there is an open dialogue between the cast and audience after each performance.

Puppeteers announced 
for Immaculate, Poignant & Medium Length

Immaculate, Poignant & Medium Length (Chicago)
Presented by Rough House and Links Hall
Links Hall, Studio B, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago
January 21-23: Monday through Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $20; $15 students/seniors
Run time: 90 minutes
For ages 12 and up

Chicago is a haven for grown-from-the-ground-up puppetry, thanks to the energy and dedication of local producers, audiences, and the artistic community at large. Come catch a rare look at four respected Chicago area innovators' medium-length works in a casual, conversational environment meant to get artists and audiences mingling, featuring:

Crosstalk by Myra Su and Tatsu Aoki

The Distant Flight of Birds by Forte Chicago

Suji created and performed by Rika Lin and Tom Lee

Behold Where Stands the Usurper’s Cursed Head, performed and originated by Samuel Taylor, written by Mickle Maher, and presented by Cabinet of Curiosity.

Free Festival Neighborhood Tour dates, times and locations:

This year the Chicago Puppet Festival’s Free Festival Neighborhood Tour will bring free performances of The Beginning of Nothing by Poncili Creación (Puerto Rico) and Pulcinella by Gaspare Nasuto (Italy) - to every corner of the city. Following are the six neighborhood locations, complete with show dates and times:

Sweet Water Foundation in Englewood/Washington Park, 5749 S. Perry Ave., Chicago
Friday, January 18 at 1:30 p.m. or (312) 508-3982

Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, 4048 W. Armitage, Chicago
Saturday, January 19 at 2 p.m. or (773) 698-6004

Garfield Park Conservatory, Horticulture Hall, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago
Wednesday, January 23 at 4:30 p.m. or (312) 746-5100

Marquette Park, 6743 S. Kedzie Ave., Chicago
Friday, January 25 at 5 p.m. or (312) 747-6469

Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago in the Crystal Garden
Saturday, January 26 at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. or (312) 595-7437

Experimental Station in Woodlawn, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave., Chicago
Sunday, January 27 at 11 a.m. (doors open at 10:30 a.m.) or (312) 241-6044

Tour performances are family friendly and for all ages. Tickets are free. Reserve online at or first come, first served. Each show runs 40-45 minutes. Audiences are invited to sample shows, meet the artists after each performance, or share a full day of puppetry. The Festival Neighborhood Tour is presented in partnership with the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series and Navy Pier.

The Raffaello Hotel, 201 E. Delaware Place in downtown Chicago, is the Official Hotel of the 3rd Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. In addition to serving as home base for all visiting artists, the Raffaello is offering a discounted rate of $89/night, January 17-27, for the festival’s growing base of fans worldwide, as well as Chicago-area residents looking for a Chicago Puppet Festival “Staycation.” Visit or call (877) 874-4253 to inquire. Use promo code PUPT.

The festival website,, is your online gateway information and tickets to this world pageant of top puppet artists and shows. Sign up on the website to be the first to receive important festival updates. Track the festival hashtag, #ChiPuppetFest, like the festival on Facebook, or follow the festival on Twitter at @ChiPuppetFest or on Instagram.

Blair Thomas, Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Credit: Saverio Truglia

REVIEW: World Premiere of We Found A Hat at Lifeline Theatre Through Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List:
Family Friendly Theatre Favorites

Lifeline Theatre 
KidSeries Presents World Premiere of 
We Found A Hat,
Musical Adaptation of the Book by Jon Klassen

**This production is recommended for children ages five and up (children under two not permitted), and runs approximately one hour with no intermission.**

L to R: Gabriella Fernandez as Sun, Terry Bell as Kai, Amanda Roeder as Sizi, and Scott Sawa as Snake. All Production Photos by Suzanne Plunkett.

"It was a great show... the first time I haven't had to take my 
4 year old out of the theatre 
*and* I caught my 10 year old having a good time too!"

Guest Review
by kimberly robb baker

Lifeline Theatre’s production of We Found A Hat was the most pleasant family theatre experience I’ve had in the last year. Specifically, it’s the first production my four-year-old hasn’t had to leave early, yet my older kids had a blast as well.

The universal appeal was in the cleverness of the production and also in the fact that it’s a theme anyone can relate to: loved ones driven apart by desire and jealously. In this case two best-friend tortoises have their friendship challenged when, as they migrate through the desert, they come upon a hat that instills confidence and looks great on each of them.

L to R: Amanda Roeder as Sizi, and Terry Bell as Kai

When I say the production was clever, I mean that we bought into the story exactly because the reality of being a bunch of audience members nearly head-to-head with a small group of actors on a stage the size of my living room with little kids occasionally making their loud contributions—well, they embraced all of that and made it part of the story.

For example, the actors made a show of getting the set ready while people were settling in their seats. This was a nice pre-show to get us interested in what was to come and entertain little ones who are not known for sitting in a seat and staring at nothing—even for five minutes.

Inventive costumes (e.g. the fringe on a cowboy’s jacket and chaps standing in for cactus prickles and a sun/moon costume that enables one actor to quickly shift between embodying each of the celestial objects—oh, and such a cool snake costume/puppet!) and use of props and actor’s bodies allowed us to delve into a vivid world of friendship being tested in the dramatically changing elements and landscape of a long desert journey.

L to R: Terry Bell as Kai, and Amanda Roeder as Sizi

Some of our favorite scenes were the cactus gauntlet, a really cool dream sequence, and a dangerous storm (it was just scary enough—my 4-year-old was more afraid of the hand dryer in the bathroom).

The actors threw themselves wholeheartedly into this ecosystem of inventiveness. Through the turtles (played by Terry Bell and Amanda Roeder), kids got to see the struggle of being the big or little one, of being labeled as creative or practical when your heart wants to explore all the possibilities of who you are.

Gabriella Fernandez played Sun and Moon against Scott Sawa’s Cactus, and the two did a skilled and joyful job of embodying multiple elements and acting as a Greek chorus to give us some context on the tortoise’s friendship.

They also taught us a bit about migration, water in the desert, and the difference between turtles and tortoises.

 Gabriella Fernandez: Sun/Moon signs programs for kids in the lobby after the show
Photos by Kimberly Robb Baker

Terry Bell: Kai the Toirtoise 

Your older children might groan before and after the show that it’s for little kids, but my 10-going-on-30-year-old caught my eye several times as we shared embedded jokes meant for the older members of the audience, and he got in line to have his program signed after the show.

Kimberly Robb Baker is a Chicago based writer, blogger, consultant, story teller, and mother. You can find her worky stuff here: and her artsy fartsy stuff here:

Out of 190 entries, congrats again to Tasha J, ChiIL Mama's 4-pack ticket winner ($60 Value).

When my teens were tots, we were annual Lifeline Theatre KidSeries season subscribers. We've adored their amazing, original book based adaptations for decades. Their production values are excellent and they're one of our favorites for introducing young children to their first live theatre offerings. They truly are a lifeline for families, bringing stellar stories to life on stage, and often fostering a lifelong love of theatre arts.  

Lifeline Theatre’s KidSeries presents the world premiere of We Found A Hat, based on the children’s book by Jon Klassen, with adaptation by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Jessica Wright Buha, lyrics by Jessica Wright Buha and John Szymanski, music by John Szymanski, and directed by Factory Theater Co-Artistic Director Manny Tamayo. 

Deep in the desert, two tortoises work together to overcome all obstacles the harsh landscape throws their way. Sizi and Kai are the best of pals and nothing ever comes between them... until one day they find a hat. They both look great in the hat. But they can’t both have the hat. A friendship is put to the test as the tortoises must find a way through their thorniest challenge yet. Explore the question of what we give up to support the ones we love in this adaptation of the 2016 book by Jon Klassen. 

We Found A Hat runs Through Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Regular performance times are Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with an added autism/sensory-friendly performance on Sunday, Feb. 3 at 3 p.m. (Previews are Saturday, Jan. 12 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 13 at 11 a.m.) Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting

Performances with Touch Tour and Audio Description on January 26, 
Open Captioning on January 27, 
Autism/Sensory-Friendly Performance on February 3, 
and Stories Come Alive! Hour Workshops Every Saturday and Sunday During the Run

Accessible Performances: The Saturday, Jan. 26, 11 a.m. performance will feature a pre-show touch tour of the set at 10 a.m. and live audio description for patrons who are blind or have low vision. The Sunday, Jan. 27, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. performances will feature open captioning for patrons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. And there will be an added autism/sensory-friendly performance on Sunday, Feb. 3 at 3 p.m. for patrons with social and/or cognitive disabilities. For more information about Lifeline’s accessibility services, please contact Accessibility Coordinator Erica Foster at 773.761.4477 x703 or at

PLUS: Join Lifeline Theatre every Saturday and Sunday at 12 p.m. during the run of We Found A Hat (following the 11 a.m. show, or before the 1 p.m. show) for our Stories Come Alive! Hour. Children will enjoy an interactive storytelling session and on-your-feet theatre games. The cost is only $5 per child. Reservations are recommended, though not required. Contact Lifeline Theatre at 773-761-4477 for more information.

L to R: Amanda Roeder as Sizi, Gabriella Fernandez as Sun, Scott Sawa as Cactus, and Terry Bell as Kai

The complete cast and production team for We Found A Hat includes:

Guest artists Terry Bell (Kai), Gabriella Fernandez (Sun/Moon/Ensemble), Amanda Roeder (Sizi), and Scott Sawa (Cactus/Snake/Ensemble). With understudies Anna Connelly, Sophia Foldvari, Maddie Pell, and Matthew Schnitker.

Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Jessica Wright Buha (Adaptor & Co-Lyricist); with guest artists Emma Cullimore (Costume & Properties Designer), Derik Marcussen (Costume & Properties Design Assistant), Jennifer McClendon (Production Manager), Kate Reed (Stage Manager), John Szymanski (Composer & Co-Lyricist), Eric Backus (Sound Designer), Joe Schermoly (Scenic Designer & Technical Director), Manny Tamayo (Director), Eric Watkins (Lightning Designer), and Jonah White (Master Electrician/A.V. Supervisor).
We Found A Hat runs Saturday, Jan. 12 – Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. 

Regular performance times are Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with an added autism/sensory-friendly performance on Sunday, Feb. 3 at 3 p.m. (Previews are Saturday, Jan. 12 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 13 at 11 a.m.) Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting

Lifeline Theatre also offers “Name Your Price” tickets one half-hour before the show (subject to availability), group rates and other discounts available upon request. A party room is available for full-service birthday and special event parties. Lifeline Theatre is accessible by CTA (Red Line Morse stop/busses) and free parking is available at Sullivan High School (6631 N Bosworth Ave., lot located on the corner of Bosworth Ave. and Albion Ave., with the entrance on Albion) 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.

Now in its 36th 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.; Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; Chicago CityArts, a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; CIG Management; CNA Foundation; Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; FGMK LLC; FlexPrint Inc.; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; The Michael and Mona Heath Fund at The Chicago Community Trust Foundation; Illinois Arts Council Agency; Illinois Humanities Council; MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; The National Endowment for the Arts; The PAV Grant Fund; The Polk Bros. Foundation; Rogers Park Social; The Saints; S&C Electric Company Fund; The Shubert Foundation; The Steele Foundation; Th Manufacturing; and the annual support of businesses and individuals.

Lifeline Theatre’s “We Found A Hat,” adapted by Jessica Wright Buha, directed by Manny Tamayo, based on the book by Jon Klassen; previews begin Saturday, January 12, 2019, running through Sunday,  February 17. Lifeline Theatre is located at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Chicago, IL 60626. For tickets call the box office at 773-761-4477 or visit 

Disclosure: Thanks to Lifeline Theatre for partnering up with ChiIL Mama and providing tickets for our giveaway and for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

Snarkitecture Brings The Beach To Chilly Chicago January 19 through February 3

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List:
Family Friendly Fun at Chicago's Free Giant Ball Pit/Art Installation  

Hit The Beach Chicago at Navy Pier 
This Winter!

Free, temporary public art installation by Snarkitecture consisting of one million translucent white spheres set to flood the Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom 

The Beach Chicago | Credit for all photos: Noah Kalina

from January 19 through February 3

Navy Pier, Chicago’s top-attended lakefront destination, invites guests to beat the winter blues by hitting The Beach Chicago – a free, interactive public art installation on display in the historic Aon Grand Ballroom from Saturday, January 19 through Sunday, February 3. Presented in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO (The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art) and created by Snarkitecture, a New York-based collaborative design practice, The Beach Chicago is a large-scale installation set to transform the Pier’s iconic 18,000-square-foot space into an indoor beach, complete with lounge deck chairs, lifeguard chairs, umbrellas, inflatables and signage that mimic the sensation of a day at the beach.

Today Navy Pier Unloads 
One Million Translucent White Spheres  
in Aon Grand Ballroom in Preparation for 
The Beach Chicago

The installation consists of one million antimicrobial and recyclable plastic spheres enclosed in a large, open space. Guests of all ages are welcome to ‘swim’ through the sea of translucent white spheres as part of the artistic experience or simply gaze and revel in the installation from the pier and other viewing areas throughout the installation. The Beach Chicago promotes familiar social cues and visual sensations of a beach within the unique setting of the Aon Grand Ballroom, a historic landmark designed by architect Charles Sumner Frost and constructed in 1916 as part of Navy Pier’s original structure. Earlier iterations of The Beach have taken place in Washington, D.C.; Tampa, Florida; Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; and Bangkok, Thailand. Chicago will serve as the third site in the U.S. and first in the Midwest.

Navy Pier guests are encouraged to make the most of their “day at The Beach” by exploring the many new dining, retail and leisure options available across the recently renovated Pier. Select restaurants – including Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Giordano’s, Harry Caray’s Tavern, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Riva Crab House, Tiny Tavern and more – will have beach-themed menus and cocktails, among other special offers to complement the experience. Click here to view the full listing of Pier-wide beach-inspired promotions available throughout the duration of the exhibit. In addition, Chicago Shakespeare Theater will continue to present its production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, offering another enchanting escape this winter. Guests can complete their ‘beach day’ with a ride on Chicago’s iconic Ferris wheel. Enclosed and heated, the year-round Centennial Wheel pairs perfectly with The Beach Chicago, providing 360 views of the city’s famous beaches from 200 feet above water.

In advance of the unveiling of The Beach Chicago, the Graham Foundation – in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO and Navy Pier – will present a talk by Snarkitecture’s Alex Mustonen and Benjamin Porto, the creative minds behind The Beach. The free, public talk will be held on Thursday, January 17 at 6 p.m. at the Graham Foundation, located at 4 West Burton Place. Following this event, the Graham Foundation Bookshop will host a book signing of Snarkitecture’s recent catalogue, published by Phaidon.

Hosting The Beach Chicago is one of the many ways Navy Pier continues to honor its commitment to offer free, year-round arts and cultural programming, designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. For more information, visit or download the Navy Pier app on any Android or iOS device.

About Snarkitecture
Snarkitecture is a New York-based collaborative design practice established to investigate the boundaries between disciplines. The name is drawn from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of The Snark, a poem describing the “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature.” In its search for the unknown, Snarkitecture creates work that includes large-scale projects, installations and objects. Snarkitecture’s work focuses on the reinterpretation of everyday materials, structures and programs to new and imaginative effect. With a conceptual approach centered on the importance of experience, the studio creates unexpected and memorable moments that invite people to explore and engage with their surroundings. For more information, visit

EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, is presented by Art Expositions, LLC at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, hosting more than 135 leading International exhibitors presented alongside one of the highest quality platforms for global contemporary art and culture. Entering its eighth year as a leading international art fair, EXPO CHICAGO offers diverse programming including /Dialogues, IN/SITU, IN/SITU Outside, EXPO VIDEO, the Curatorial Forum, the Art Critics Forum, Special Exhibitions, EXPO Sound and OVERRIDE | A Billboard Project. In addition, EXPO CHICAGO continues to publish THE SEEN, Chicago's International Journal of Contemporary & Modern Art. Under the leadership of President and Director Tony Karman, EXPO CHICAGO draws upon the city’s rich history as a vibrant international cultural destination, while highlighting the region’s contemporary arts community and inspiring its collector base.

EXPO CHICAGO’s eighth edition will take place September 19 – 22, 2019, in alignment with the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial (September 19, 2018 – January 5, 2020). For more information on EXPO CHICAGO and EXPO ART WEEK (September 16 – 22, 2019) visit

The Beach Chicago is supported by The Chicago Free For All Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, the Navy Pier Associate Board and Hilton Worldwide.

About Navy Pier
Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is one of the top-attended nonprofit destinations in the Midwest, stretching more than six city blocks and welcoming more than 9 million guests annually. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, this Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities and more. The Pier recently celebrated its 100th anniversary with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial Wheel, Polk Bros Park, Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. In 2019, Navy Pier continues to usher in its second century with ongoing pier-wide redevelopment efforts – including a 220-room Hilton hotel with rooftop bar, a marina and more – in addition to free, year-round arts and cultural programming designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. For more information, visit or download the free Navy Pier app for Android and iOS devices.

Navy Pier Mission Statement
Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder

Monday, January 14, 2019

WIN 4 Ovation Restaurant Meal Passes and 3 I Can Read! Series Books!

ChiIL Mama is pleased to partner up once again with Ovation Brands’ portfolio of restaurants – Old Country Buffet, Ryan’s, Hometown Buffet, Country Buffet – and Furr’s Fresh Buffet to promote their fabulous new Family Night promotion featuring the I Can Read! Series of popular children's books. 

Enter Below
One of ChiIL Mama's lucky readers will win a special prize pack, which includes the following: four (4) free meal passes for you and your family to enjoy a meal at any of Ovation Brands’ locations as well as one (1) Splat the Cat Gets a Job! book, one (1) Biscuit and the Big Parade! book, and one (1) I Want to Be a Doctor book.

Ovation Brands’ portfolio of restaurants – Old Country Buffet, Ryan’s, Hometown Buffet, Country Buffet – and Furr’s Fresh Buffet are rolling out a new Family Night promotion featuring the I Can Read! Series of popular children's books. Widely recognized as the premier line of beginning readers, I Can Read! books are organized into color-coded levels with hundreds of titles featuring award-winning authors and illustrators and the most beloved character friends in the history of children’s literature.

Each Thursday, from January 17th through February 21st, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., kids may participate in different interactive and educational activities in Ovation Brands’ restaurants and Furr’s Fresh Buffet locations. PLUS kids eat for $1.99 from 4 p.m. to close with the purchase of a regular-priced adult or senior meal.

The featured activities are as follows:
January 17 – Stories That Make You Say…
January 24 – Finding the Perfect Word
January 31 – What’s Your Story?
February 7 – Rhyme Time
February 14 – Sounds Phishy
February 21 – Story Time

Enter Here
One of ChiIL Mama's lucky readers will win a special prize pack, which includes the following: four (4) free meal passes for you and your family to enjoy a meal at any of Ovation Brands’ locations as well as one (1) Splat the Cat Gets a Job! book, one (1) Biscuit and the Big Parade! book, and one (1) I Want to Be a Doctor book.

Giveaway open through midnight February 14th. Open nationwide. 

Disclosure: Ovation Restaurants has provided complimentary books and meal passes for our giveaway. As always all opinions are my own. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

FEST ALERT: Collaboraction's Encounter Two-Week Festival of Theater, Dance and Spoken Word Curated around the Themes of Equity and Inclusion, Running January 15-27, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

We're long time fans of Collaboraction's social justice theatre and community inclusion projects here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows. My two teens have worked on productions with them in conjunction with After School Matter, and we've been impressed with Collaboraction's message and mission for years. Catch their latest efforts this January during their 14 day Encounter Festival.

Collaboraction's Encounter is a two-week festival of theater,
dance and spoken word curated around the themes of equity
and inclusion, running January 15-27, 2019.

The festival consists of six programs: three new full-length works,

two programs of mid-length pieces, and one short-works collection.

JANUARY 15-27, 2019


North side Edgewater resident Wade, sitting with his Folded Map Project twin Nanette on her porch in Chicago’s South side Englewood community. Courtesy of Tonika Lewis Johnson. Click here for these and more advance images of Collaboraction’s upcoming winter festival Encounter.

November 11, 2019 – Collaboraction, Chicago’s home for social-issue driven contemporary theater, announces the 2nd annual Encounter, a two-week winter festival of theater, dance and spoken word curated around the themes of equity and inclusion, January 15-27, 2019.

Encounter consists of six programs: three new full-length works, two programs of mid-length pieces, and one short-works collection, each devised and performed by Chicago artists working in a variety of media, all intended to incite knowledge, discussion and action.

Highlights include the world premiere adaptation Folded Map, a new live theater piece inspired by Tonika Lewis Johnson’s acclaimed Folded Map Project which connected Chicago “map twins” from Englewood and Edgewater.

Others are Dana N. Anderson’s Soul in Suburbia, about a black single mom living in Chicago’s suburbs, and a new work created by recently incarcerated Chicago-area youth via Storycatchers Theatre.

All Encounter programs will be presented at Collaboraction, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., 3rd Floor, in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets to each performance are $10 for students, artists, educators, and seniors; $25 general public. Festival passes, which allow a holder to see each show in the festival one time, can be purchased for $60.

To purchase tickets, Encounter passes and for more information, visit, email or call
(312) 226-9633.

More about Encounter

Dana N. Anderson wrote and will perform Soul in Suburbia
as part of Encounter. Credit: Joel Maisonet

Encounter was curated through open and invited submissions from Chicago artists working in a variety of media including dance, music, spoken word and theater.

The three full-length productions selected for Encounter, all world premieres, are Nice Town, Normal People by Rhizome Theatre Company, When The Snow Melted in Chicago by Gregory Hardigan and Soul in Suburbia by Dana N. Anderson. Each production will be presented three times over the course of the festival.

The four mid-length performances, each 40 minutes or less, are Folded Map, devised from and inspired by the photographic art piece created by Tonika Lewis Johnson, A Great Day in the Neighborhood, conceived and performed by Lawndale native and performance-poet Marvin Tate with a live band, Open Questions, devised by Laura Biagi and Karly Gesine Bergmann, and Forecast by For Youth Inquiry (FYI) Performance Company at ICAH (Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health).

Folded Map will be performed with A Great Day in the Neighborhood, and Open Questions is paired with Forecast - to create two double bills, each to be performed three times during the festival.

Of course, Collaboraction has long enjoyed a niche for presenting festivals of short works via its annual PEACEBOOK series and 15 years producing SKETCHBOOK. In keeping with that tradition, Encounter also includes one short works program with seven different pieces addressing themes of inclusion and equity created by Chicago artists like Loretta “Firekeeper” Hawkins, She Crew, Storycatchers Theatre and Syrian refugee Sami Ismat.

“Encounter picks up where our fall PEACEBOOK tour left off, giving our audience new opportunities to immerse themselves in a deep, mixed medium exploration of racism in Chicago with a unique breadth of Chicago artists,” says Artistic Director Anthony Moseley.

“We’ve seen Collaboraction’s brand of social-issue-driven work cultivate knowledge and empathy, and serve as a catalyst for dialogue, understanding and peacemaking. With Encounter, Collaboraction will continue to engage a diverse group of Chicago artists and audiences in urgent conversations about the sad impact of systemic racism.”

Following the two-week festival in Wicker Park, select pieces from Encounter will tour to Englewood, Lawndale and Hermosa - neighborhoods where Collaboraction performs regularly and continues to deepen relationships with its residents - as part of Collaboraction’s One City initiative. 

Following are dates, showtimes and more details about Collaboraction’s 2019 Encounter:


When the Snow Melted Down in Chicago
Written by Gregory Hardigan, directed by Nik Whitcomb
Saturday, January 19 at 7 p.m.
Friday, January 25 at 7 p.m.
Sunday, January 27 at 3 p.m.

Exploring the many identities and neighborhoods found in Chicago, this piece explores the triumphs and tribulations of Chicagoans, and the many things you find once the snow melts.

Nice Town, Normal People
by Rhizome Theatre Company
Devised by Ashlin Hatch and Kyle Berlin, Music composed by Makulumy Alexander Hills
Wednesday, January 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, January 18 at 7 p.m.
Sunday, January 20 at 3 p.m. 

Nice Town, Normal People is a dynamic documentary theater piece that explores the idea of Home— what it is, what it once was, and what it might become— by inviting the voices of Chicago community members to come into conversation with voices from one small town in rural California.
Soul in Suburbia

Written by Dana N. Anderson
Thursday, January 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 26 at 9:30 p.m. 

When unrealistic expectations and workplace microaggressions trigger her hot-headed ways, Dana, a black single mom, lands in anger management as a requirement of keeping her survival job and cushy lifestyle. Anderson, recipient of Collaboraction’s 2018 Artist Award, explores the exacerbating social aspects of being a black woman raised and living in Chicagoland.


Folded Map & A Great Day in the Neighborhood
Friday, January 18 at 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 26 at 7 p.m.

 Tonika Lewis Johnson, creator of Folded Map Project,
and co-founder and current Program Manager,
Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.)

Folded Map
In collaboration with Tonika Lewis Johnson, Co-Directed and Devised by Brighid O'Shaughnessy and Penelope Walker, with additional devisers Terry Guest, Brit Cooper Robinson, Melissa Rohman and Fred Wellisch

Based on the acclaimed Folded Map Project by Tonika Lewis Johnson, Chicago Magazine 2017 “Chicagoan of the Year,” this production in progress explores the impact of 200 years of segregation in Chicago by highlighting Johnson’s personal journey to becoming both an artist and activist as well as the stories of her first Folded Map “twins” - residents from North Side communities like Rogers Park and their geographic counterparts in Englewood.

As luck would have it, Chicago theater artist Brighid O’Shaughnessy turned out to be one of Johnson’s North side twins, which spurred this live stage adaptation. Don’t miss this chance to see several stories of the Folded Map twins presented live, on stage, and examine as a community what can be done to bridge the divide in Chicago.

(from left) Tonika Lewis Johnson photographs Brighid O’Shaughnessy and Brighid’s son, Djouby, of Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, with their Folded Map “twin” Carmen Arnold-Stratton (right) in front of Arnold-Stratton’s home in Englewood. O’Shaughnessy is now directing the live stage adaptation Folded Map as part of Collaboraction’s Encounter series. Photo courtesy of Tonika Lewis Johnson.

A Great Day in the Neighborhood
by Marvin Tate, directed by Sam Lewis

A musical journey through the all too real and fanciful mind of performance poet, lyricist, author, visual artist and educator, Lawndale’s own Marvin Tate, backed by a live band.

Open Questions & Forecast
Tuesday, January 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 20 at 5:30 p.m.
Friday, January 25 at 9:30 p.m.

Open Questions
Devised by Laura Biagi with shadow puppetry by Karly Gesine Bergmann

Using sound healing as its foundation, Open Questions is an interactive audience piece about the power of sound to move people, heal hurt and isolation.

Devised by For Youth Inquiry (FYI) Performance Company at ICAH

A young black woman discovers she is pregnant. Slipping into sleep that night, she enters a dream world filled with racialized myths, prophecies and monsters that confront her with the decision of whether or not to parent in this world.


Saturday, January 19 at 9:30 p.m.
Tuesday, January 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Of Quiet Birds
Written by Loretta Hawkins, directed by Dionne Hawkins 

Spoken word artist Loretta "Firekeeper" Hawkins performed
at Collaboraction's 2018 PEACEBOOK Festival

This scene is a selection from the full-length production, Of Quiet Birds. This drama explores the various kinds of conflict that arose within an African-American family living in the South at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. Hawkins explores the ideal of all ethnicities coming together, from all corners of the Earth, to demand human rights for all people.

Picnic Summit
Devised by Sami Ismat

Through a dark and absurd family picnic, this piece explores how the polarization of politics among the people in charge can have a devastating effect on those who rely on them. It is devised by Sami Ismat, a Syrian refugee.

Tato - First Roots in Chicago
Devised by Sophia Pietrkowski

Born and bred in Chicago, Pietrkowski explores her first roots to the city. As a third generation storyteller, she retells her grandfather's holocaust testimony and the new beginnings that brought her family to Chicago. This piece asks what does it mean to seek refuge and to feel safe in a community we relate to?

16 Shots
Written by Alanisse Pineda, a member of {she crew}, directed by Jessica London-Shields

We don't see people as they are, but as we are. 16 Shots is a meditation on Laquan McDonald, staged using an abstract greek chorus style in consideration of the daily microaggressions young people of color navigate, living within the backdrop of police violence.

Devised by B.B. Browne

Using intergenerational story circles and interviews with Chicago residents, artist B.B. Browne calls attention to the resurgence of efforts to protect Black women and girls who have gone missing from the South side of Chicago. Join this artistic response to the ongoing crisis that centers the voices of the community.

Fig Leaf
Written by Kay Thompson, directed by Dominique Chestand

Fig Leaf unwraps the layers of one's identity as a queer couple struggles to manage grief after losing a relative to Chicago gun violence.

Storycatchers Theatre

For more than 30 years, Storycatchers has helped court-involved young people write their true stories to confront and heal the effects of trauma. For Encounter, the Changing Voices ensemble made up of youth ages 17 to 24 creates a new work looking for a new direction.

About Collaboraction

Collaboraction (, Chicago’s social contemporary theater, collaborates with a diverse community of Chicagoans, artists and community activists to create original theatrical experiences that push artistic boundaries and explore critical social issues. Since the company’s founding in 1996, Collaboraction has worked with more than 3,000 artists to bring more than 60 productions and events to more than 150,000 audience members.

Collaboraction Artistic Director Anthony Moseley (left)
and Managing Director Dr. Marcus Robinson (right).

Collaboraction is led by Artistic Director Anthony Moseley, Managing Director Dr. Marcus Robinson, a company of 20 talented Chicago theater artists, and a dedicated staff and board of directors. The company’s vision is to utilize theater to cultivate dialogue and action around our most critical social issues throughout Chicago.

For the past five years, Collaboraction has partnered with the Chicago Park District through their Night Out in the Parks program, returning each year to cultivate relationships and theater in Englewood, Austin and Hermosa through the Crime Scene, PEACEBOOK and Encounter tours. Production highlights also include its series of Crime Scene productions responding to Chicago’s crime epidemic; Sarah Moeller’s Forgotten Future: The Education Project; 15 years of the SKETCHBOOK Festival; the Chicago premiere of 1001 by Jason Grote; the world premiere of Jon by George Saunders and directed by Seth Bockley; and The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow: an instant message with excitable music by Rolin Jones.

Collaboraction also maintains an active Collaboraction For-Hire division, which creates custom special event design for private, corporate and civic clients, including the Art Institute, the City of Chicago and many more.

Collaboraction is supported by The Chicago Community Trust, The Joyce Foundation, The Field Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, DCASE and the Wicker Park & Bucktown SSA #33 Chamber of Commerce. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

For more, visit, follow the company on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Tumblr, or call the Collaboraction box office, (312) 226-9633.

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