Saturday, January 21, 2017

Photo Recap: The Living Room Tour Fundraiser For The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival

Every two years something truly spectacular emerges from it's cocoon of paper mache, strings, and big ideas... The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. We covered the inaugural fest and plan to do extensive pre, post and present news, reviews and interviews related to the fest. Our 2017 puppet fest adventures began in November with The Living Room Tour, an intimate and excellent fundraising series that took place in 3 unique locals. 

ChiIL Mama ChiILin' in Chi, IL with the creations of Canadian puppeteer extraordinaire, 
Magali Chouinard 

Check out our full set of shots 
from the evening in the slide show here. 
More favorites are embedded below.

I was invited to the first event in Logan Square, hosted by Rick Stoneham, theatre aficionado and puppet fest board member, who sponsored the fabulous catered Indonesian dinner (via The Rice Table) and Dorothy Zalewski and Dan Engh, who graciously opened their gorgeous home. 

Dorothy, Blaire Thomas, & Dan

fabulous feast catered by The Rice Table

It was quite a memorable event with a salon vibe and the unique opportunity to chat with art and theatre lovers and catch 2 puppet shows, both with a black and white aesthetic, yet quite different styles and themes. 

Many of the evening's guests enjoyed picking the brains of Blaire Thomas, one of the masterminds behind the fest, and brilliant puppeteer, Magali Chouinard. It was my great pleasure to interview both of them and record Blaire Thomas and company's show, Edward Gorey's "The Gashlycrumb Tinies", exclusive to the 2016 Living Room Tour! This delightfully dark abecedarian tale is a long time fav of mine, and was indeed told in rhyming couplets. The terrific trio brought this macabre tale of premature deaths to life as a scrolling table top puppet show replete with screams, narration, sound effects and copious amounts of laughter from the crowd.

Blair Thomas and Co. Present Edward Gorey's "The Gashlycrumb Tinies":

Behind the scenes notes for Edward Gorey's "The Gashlycrumb Tinies

Festival artist, Magali Chouinard came in from Canada, for her first visit to Chicago, and we were blown away by the excerpt of "The White Woman" she performed for us. Magali has been touring large venues all over Europe with her show and said she's never performed in a space as intimate as The Living Room Tour. Chouinard is a mistress of manipulation, imbuing her puppets with curiosity and personality and artfully becoming at once a character and simultaneously a hauntingly blank eyed puppet master. She'll be bringing the full piece back in January. Highly recommended.

Check back early and often with (family friendly) & (adult). We'll have loads of news about all the puppet happenings and more coming out shortly! Get your advanced tickets and full scheduling updates HERE. More show times may be added throughout the fest as shows sell out, so do check back.

ChiIL Mama's Living Room Tour Photo Favs:

Puppeteer, Magali Chouinard (rt) visits with guests at the Living Room Tour Fundraiser

Friday, January 20, 2017

ChiIL Mama's Puppet Fest Picks: Plastique and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice at Adventure Stage Chicago

Chi, IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Northwestern Settlement’s 
Adventure Stage Chicago 
Announces 2 Presentations As Part of the Second Biennial 
Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival 

The puppets are back and Chicago is a wonder filled place from January 19th-29th. Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows we're catching as many performances as we can, including adult shows and kid friendly productions. Two of our family friendly picks are hosted by long time favorites of ours, Adventure Stage Chicago at The Vittum Theater. The first is great for the littles and the second show is for the little biggers. Click HERE for a listing of all of the All Ages Puppet Shows.
Adventure Stage Chicago (ASC), a program of Northwestern Settlement (the Settlement), doubles its participation in the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival following the success of 2015’s Le Petit Cirque by Laurent Bigot. ASC presents Plastique by Montreal’s Théâtre Puzzle (Jan 21 – 23) and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Minnesota’s Open Eye Figure Theatre (Jan 25-29). All performances take place at Northwestern Settlement’s Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St. 
Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for youth aged 14 years and younger. Workshop tickets are $17. Student matinee tickets are $7 for CPS and $8 for non-CPS. Tickets may be purchased at or by calling 773.342.4141. 

January 21-23, 2017

Saturday & Sunday at 3pm; Monday at 7pm
What's more surprising than a plastic-bag world, where funny and colorful creatures appear and transform? They fill up, they empty out, they fly, they get bored, and they resemble us a little bit... maybe. With Plastique, Théâtre Puzzle brings to Adventure Stage a multicolored performance with unusual puppets, humor, and unexpected situations. 
On January 21st at 4:30pm, join Théâtre Puzzle and ASC for an exclusive puppetry workshop and explore the magic of found objects as dramatic tools. Only 20 tickets available. 
This production is supported in part by the Quebec Government House. 
About Théâtre Puzzle:
Created in Bulgaria and established in Montreal since 2004, Théâtre Puzzle presents a unique style by mixing various genres, traditional and contemporary. Combining dramatic theater, object theater, and puppetry, Théâtre Puzzle is distinguished by the colored amalgam of styles and the variety of means of expression it offers. Granting the audience the freedom to interpret the unspoken and the free association of ideas, allowing them to feel what is not explicitly told—this is the artistic peculiarity of the company. 

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
ChiIL Mama will be there... will YOU?!
January 25-29, 2017
Public Performances: Friday at 7pm; Saturday at 1pm and 7pm.
School matinees: January 25-27 at 10:30am.
Dive into a world of wonder as ASC presents The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Left by his master to complete a list of chores, the apprentice calls on spirits to help. Using magic he can't control, the young hero unleashes a flurry of whimsy and mystery! With masterful marionette puppetry and an 
original score, Minneapolis-based Open Eye Figure Theatre explores youth and aging, the allure of power, and the beauty of a life well-lived. 
This performance is a co-presentation with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. 
About Open Eye Figure Theatre:
Open Eye is nationally recognized for bringing a visual feast of evocative figure theater to the stage. The company’s whimsical yet profound work surprises and delights whether experienced in the company’s historic jewel box theater in Minneapolis or in neighborhoods throughout the Twin Cities with the Driveway Tour. From experimental object works to puppet shows in backyards to community pageants to miniature spectacles, Open Eye consistently creates a unique, contagious exchange between artists and audiences. 

About the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival:
Founded to establish Chicago as a prominent center for the art of puppetry, this biennial Festival will present the highest quality local, national, and international puppet shows in venues across the city. Invited artists will lead workshops, public presentations and talks as an integral part of the Festival offerings. Additionally, the Festival will host the Volkenburg Puppetry Symposium devoted to the advancement of scholarship and research in the field of puppetry. 
About Northwestern Settlement and Adventure Stage Chicago:
Northwestern Settlement opened its doors to its neighbors in 1891 in order to provide an opportunity for a better future. The Settlement’s success results from a commitment to treating every person who enters its doors with dignity and respect, while supporting them with transformational programming designed to interrupt the cycle of poverty. The Settlement has adapted its programming throughout the past century in response to changes in the community, economy and society. The Settlement has led the way in innovative programming by offering residential science and environmental education for inner-city youth, launching successful charter schools and adding a theater so children and teens have a forum for expressing their life experiences. 
The Settlement’s Adventure Stage Chicago (ASC) is one of the only theaters in Chicago to develop and present works specifically for the pre-teen and teenage audience. Adventure Stage Chicago creates and tells heroic stories about young people in order to engage the community and inspire everyone to be a hero in their own lives. ASC also offers: Neighborhood Bridges, the in-classroom arts residency program; Trailblazers, a youth mentoring arts program; summer drama camps; and drama instruction in the Settlement’s Rowe Elementary School. 

Adventure Stage Chicago is a member of IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth), League of Chicago Theatres, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and TYA/USA. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Adventure Awaits This Weekend At CHICAGO TRAVEL & ADVENTURE SHOW

JANUARY 21-22 
Rick Steves Leads Roster of Celebrity Speakers Including Travel Personalities Peter Greenberg, Samantha Brown, Pauline Frommer and Johnny Jet 

ChiIL Mama ChiILin' at The Chicago Travel & Adventure Show

Here at ChiIL Mama, we adore travel. We're currently making plans for a spring family vacation to the Grand Canyon, Scottsdale, Sedona, and the surrounding area. We're also starting to explore the logistics of an early fall trip to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. 

If you're dreaming and scheming about travel, make your first stop the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show. 

Click here to check out our photo filled features from past years.

Anyone looking to find, plan and book their next vacation will find thousands of vacation options to explore, local destination experts to personalize their experience and tens of thousands of dollars in savings at Chicago’s only travel show - the Travel & Adventure Show

Taking place January 21- 22 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL, travel enthusiasts will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with travel experts from around the world who are on hand to help attendees dream, personalize and book their next trip. Also included in the price of admission is access to dozens of inspirational, educational and culturally focused sessions on five stages located right on the show floor, along with hands-on activities fit for the whole family. 

One of the highlights of the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show is the opportunity to meet and gain inspiration from the world’s top travel experts and celebrities as they present seminars and answer questions over the two-day event. Speaking on the Travel Theater are: 
  •   CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg 
  •   Travel Channel Host Samantha Brown 
  •   Johnny Jet Editor in Chief of Johnny 
  •   Rick Steves’ Europe, CEO Rick Steves 
    At the popular Savvy Traveler Theater, visitors will interact with travel experts on subjects ranging from packing and travel technology, to maximizing credit card reward points and what to do if disaster strikes while traveling. 

The Destination Theater, sponsored by AAA, is where travelers will receive destination-specific information from local experts containing information on when to go, how to get there, what to see and local, off the beaten path attractions from destinations such as Arizona, Australia and Canada. 

The Taste of Travel Theater highlights top chefs who present live cooking demonstrations right on the show floor. Featuring cuisines from around the world, guests will have the opportunity to taste samples and get a full cultural experience in a stadium-seating styled theater. 
At the Global Beats Stage, attendees can feel the beat and experience the rhythm of cultural dances and performances during more than 20 presentations throughout the weekend. 

Attending the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show is an adventure in and of itself and presents hands-on activities suitable for the whole family. Guests can get their picture taken in their favorite destination at the Green Screen, climb a rock wall and ride a live camel, all under one roof. 

“We are thrilled to return to Chicago for our 13th year to showcase the most up to date and exciting travel opportunities from around the world,” said John Golicz, CEO of the Travel and Adventure Show. “We could not put on such an expansive show without the support of our sponsors, AAA, Arizona Office of Tourism and Rick Steves’ Europe.” 
The Chicago Travel & Adventure Show takes place January 21-22 at the Donald E Stephens Convention Center. The show opens at 9:30 a.m. Saturday for travel professionals; the general public can attend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Attendees can purchase single-day and two-day tickets online now for the discounted rate of $11/$18 with promo code: CHPR or on-site for $15/$22. Children 16 and under are free and on- site tickets can be purchased with cash only. For tickets and event information, visit 
About Unicomm, LLC and the Travel & Adventure Show Series
UNICOMM LLC is an independent business-to-business communications company specializing in originating and managing world-class trade shows and conferences. Unicomm’s properties include the nation’s largest and longest running series of travel events, the Travel & Adventure Show in Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco/Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Philadelphia and Dallas. 

For more information on attending the event, please visit 


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

FLASH GIVEAWAY: WIN 4 Tickets To Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart

Record-Breaking Animated Hit DisneyPixar’s Finding Dory
Makes a Splash as Part of Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart

Riley and the Emotions from Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out Also Take the Ice for First Time in Feld Entertainment’s New Ice Extravaganza Coming to the Chicago Area, Jan. 25 - Feb. 12

 ENTER HERE for your chance to win a family 4 pack of tickets for January 25th at Allstate Arena.

Bringing brand-new Disney adventures and iconic stories to life on ice, 
Disney On Ice 
presents Follow Your Heart.

 Opening Night Performance
7:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 25, 2016 
Allstate Arena  
6920 Mannheim Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018

Enter through midnight on Thursday 1/19. Check back Friday AM when we announce our winner.

The record-breaking hits Finding Dory and Inside Out join the ice skating extravaganza. With Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse leading the way, Disney On Ice Follow Your Heart, features scenes and favorite characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Toy Story, Frozen and Fantasia. There's something for everyone in a show that features over 60 classic Disney characters. From the wintery world of Arendelle with Anna and Elsa to the deep sea adventures with Dory and Hank, each story tells the tales of self-discovery, courage and compassion.

Disney•Pixar’s record-breaking animated feature Finding Dory makes a splash in Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart, coming to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., Jan. 25-29, and Chicago’s United Center, Feb. 1-12. Produced by Feld Entertainment, Inc., the action-packed adventure also brings Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out to the icy stage for the first time, together with other beloved Disney characters.

Follow Your Heart allows families to join in on the deep-sea adventure as Dory comes off the screen and onto the ice. With help from Nemo, Marlin and new pal Hank, Dory embarks on a life-changing excursion. The engaging atmosphere of Disney On Ice allows Dory’s humor to take center stage deepening the audience’s existing connection to their favorite forgetful fish. The production will dive into the extraordinary underwater world from Finding Dory, as a vibrant rainbow of digital projection will transform the ice floor into a colorful aquatic paradise.

“What makes this Disney On Ice production so special is the variety of stories about self-discovery, courage and compassion,” said Executive Vice President of Feld Entertainment and Producer of Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart Nicole Feld. “Each element of this show was carefully planned so our fans could experience favorite Disney moments while believing in their own destiny.”

Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out makes its Disney On Ice debut as Riley’s Emotions –Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust– reel the audience into the action to help her find the confidence to win the hockey championship and to experience the emotional rollercoaster of growing up alongside Riley. Families are provided the opportunity to easily discuss the feelings children face every day through this live interpretation of Inside Out.

From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia to Toy Story and Frozen, Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart opens up the thrilling world of live entertainment by immersing families in an array of treasured stories. The athleticism of the performers shines through as they embody Rapunzel, Ariel, Tiana and the rest of the Disney Princesses, inspiring children around the world to dream big.

“One of the most magical things about Disney On Ice is the performers’ ability to authentically showcase the best qualities of Disney characters,” said Director Patty Vincent. “At our show, moms and dads are able to witness the production through the eyes of their children, allowing them to reconnect with their favorite characters and making them feel like a kid all over again.” 

There’s something for everyone in a show that features 60 characters. The wintery world of Arendelle sets the stage for Olaf and Kristoff as they help reunite royal sisters Anna and Elsa and learn love is the most powerful magic of all. Audiences will celebrate friendship with Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie and more pals from Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story. With Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse leading the way, this new Disney On Ice production will excite and amaze fans of all ages.

Tickets for Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart start at $20 and are available at the Allstate Arena and United Center box offices, through Ticketmaster, and by phone at (800) 745-3000. Parking is FREE with ticket purchase in all official Allstate Arena and United Center parking lots. Service charges, facility and handling fees may apply. For general show information, call the Allstate Arena at (847) 635-6601, or the United Center at (312) 455-4500.

Visit for a complete list of Chicago-area show dates. 

Get Social:                                                                                                               
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce #DisneyOnIce #FollowYourHeart 
Instagram: @DisneyOnIce

About Feld Entertainment

Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at

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