Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein Creatives & Cast Members On Kinky Boots #BroadwayinChicago #worldpremier

ChiIL Live Shows shots--Chicago Press Conference 9/28 for World Premier of Musical Kinky Boots (Oriental Theater)

Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein, creatives and cast members....and some seriously kinky boots and sweet shoes, too!

ChiIL Live Shows was stoked to be invited to a press conference with the masterminds behind Kinky Boots.  We dug hearing Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein, creatives and cast members at a press conference earlier in the day.   They all raved about how much they dig Chicago and we're universally enthusiastic about the show and the original indie film that sparked the idea for the adaptation.   Check back with ChiIL Live Shows like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often, as we'll have loads of original video clips from the conference up soon.

I was slated to volunteer at Facets Multimedia last night--home of one of the largest video rental sources for indie and multicultural film in the nation.   I've volunteered there for 22 years, this month.   I was elated that they not only carry the original Kinky Boots movie, but it wasn't rented out!  After my volunteer shift I went home and promptly watched it.  The movie was as endearing and edgy as the production staff said.  The message of acceptance, cooperation and understanding is timely and right on in all the right ways.   

After the kiddos are in bed, we highly recommend checking out the film, with it's unlikely bond between England's drag queen scene and a struggling, old school, mens' dress shoe maker.    The sociology, psychology, human nature, and good old fashioned great story telling make this culture clash and ultimate blending, completely compelling.

We'll be reviewing the pre-Broadway world premier here after the show runs in previews for a few weeks.   We'll be checking it out on October 17th.    Want in on cheaper preview tixs?    The show starts the 2nd.

ACT OUT: Metamorphoses at Lookingglass--Transformative Theatre




on the ten year anniversary of its Tony Award-Winning Broadway Opening

September 19 – November 18, 2012

Written and Directed by Ensemble Member Mary Zimmerman
Featuring Usman Ally, Anjali Bhimani, Anne Fogarty, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Chris Kipiniak, Lauren Orkus and Ensemble Members
with Artistic Associate Louise Lamson
Original composition by Willy Schwarz and Design work by TJ Gerckens, Maria DeFabo and company members

Winner! Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play

Winner! Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Play, Director, Lighting Design & Music

Winner! Drama League Awards for Outstanding New Broadway Play

Winner! Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Director of a Play

Winner! Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play

"Shows that theater can provide not just escape but sometimes a glimpse of the divine."
- Time Magazine

"Entrancing… an evening of almost magical changes, wrought through the unique imagery of theater"
- Chicago Tribune

“Zimmerman at her most cheerfully ingenious.”
- New York Times

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Lookingglass Theatre Company presents Metamorphoses, based on the myths of Ovid from a translation by David Slavitt, written and directed by Ensemble Member Mary Zimmerman. The revival production, coinciding with the 10th Anniversary of the Broadway production, runs September 19 – November 18, 2012 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. 

In 1998, Lookingglass debuted Metamorphoses, a play of such grace and power that the memory of it still lingers in the minds of audiences today. The critically-acclaimed, record-breaking Chicago engagement led to a Broadway production that garnered Mary Zimmerman the 2002 Tony Award for Best Director and catapulted Lookingglass onto the national stage.

From a simple, rippling pool of water, Ensemble Member Mary Zimmerman conjured the force of Ovid’s ancient myths into gorgeous imagery and breathtaking storytelling.  Metamorphoses’ long-anticipated Chicago revival will feature a number of Lookingglass Ensemble Members and original cast members.

Metamorphoses is one of those rare productions that truly has it all: beauty, mystery, humor, pathos.  The brilliance of Mary’s work is that these ancient myths feel at once very contemporary and totally timeless, simultaneously rooted in the very specific individuals onstage and completely universal,” says Artistic Director Andy White. “These are some of the reasons it was our longest-running hit in Chicago, then toured the country, and finally ran for a year on Broadway.  This show had a profound impact on all of us – Lookingglass, Chicago, and even the country – when we first produced it, and we’ve had an ache to revisit it for a long time. We are so proud to bring it back to Chicago now, and to have it kick off our 25th Anniversary Season.”

In February 2013, Lookingglass Theatre’s production of Metamorphoses, will transfer to The Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.  Last season, The Arena Stage brought Lookingglass’ hit production of The Arabian Nights to its stage.

Metamorphoses will feature members of the original Lookingglass Chicago cast, Anjali Bhimani (Myrrha and Others), Lawrence E. DiStasi (Hermes and Others), Marilyn Dodds Frank (Therapist and Others), Raymond Fox (Midas and Others), Douglas Hara (Phaeton and Others), Chris Kipiniak (Erysichthon and Others), Louise Lamson (Alcyone and Others). The cast also includes returning cast member Anne Fogarty (Aphrodite and Others) and new cast members Usman Ally (Orpheus and Others) and Lauren Orkus (Eurydice and Others).

About Metamorphoses artists

Mary Zimmerman has worked with Lookingglass Theatre Company for more than twenty years. She adapted and directed The Odyssey, The Secret in the Wings, Arabian Nights, S/M, Metamorphoses, the Lookingglass/About Face collaboration of Eleven Rooms of Proust and Argonautika. Zimmerman is also part of the Goodman Theatre artistic team where she adapted and directed The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (with several members of the Lookingglass ensemble), Silk, Journey to the West, Mirror of the Invisible World and a re-creation of The Odyssey. She has twice directed for the New York Shakespeare Festival in the Park. Her work has won awards in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Berkeley and New York including the 2002 Tony Award for her direction of Metamorphoses on Broadway. In the world of opera, she directed and wrote the libretto Galileo Galilei (Philip Glass, composer) which was produced at the Goodman Theatre and the Barbican Theatre in London. Additionally, she has directed three operas at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City: Lucia Di Lammermoor, La Sonnambula, and Rossini’s Armida.  In 1998, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She lives in Evanston and is a professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern University.

Usman Ally (Ceyx and Others) was last seen at Lookingglass Theater in The Last Act of Lilka Kadison and Mary Zimmerman’s The Arabian Nights. Recent credits include include the Jeff Award winning, Pulitzer and Lucille Lortel Nominated The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Victory Gardens World Premiere and Second Stage Off-Broadway), The Four of Us (Theater Wit), Celebrity Row and the world premiere of Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced (ATC) and many more. Television credits: The Chicago Code and a recurring role on Season 4 of Damages with Glenn Close. 2010 Fox Foundation/TCG Grant Recipient. ATC Ensemble Member. Ally was born in Swaziland and spent the first 18 years of his life in Botswana, Kenya, Pakistan and Tanzania. He received his BA in Theatre and Cultural Anthropology from Lewis and Clark College, and an MFA Magna Cum Laude from the University of Florida. As a SLAM Poet, Usman has been a featured poet on several occasions at the historic Green Mill in Chicago. He has also written hip hop theatre productions American Ethnic and Public Enemy (Remy Bumppo) and founded the One Nation Hip Hop Theater Organization. In Chicago, Usman is best known for originating the role of VP in the World Premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, which he reprised Off-Broadway at Second Stage, and then again in Los Angeles at the Geffen Playhouse. Usman can be seen as a recurring character on season 4 of Damages, and on The Chicago Code. Film Credits include “Just Like a Woman” and “Contagion”.

Anjali Bhimani (Myrrha and Others) was part of the Original Lookingglass Chicago cast of Metamorphoses, as well as the Broadway, Second Stage, Mark Taper Forum, Berkeley Rep, and Seattle Rep productions. Other credits include Bombay Dreams (Broadway), The American Pilot (MTC), A Widow of No Importance (East West Players), The Existents (Open Fist), As You Like It (Shakespeare Theatre D.C.), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Kirk Douglas), Mirror of the Invisible World (Goodman), Comedy on the Bridge and Brundibar (Berkeley Rep, Yale Rep, New Victory), The Odyssey (McCarter, Seattle Rep, Goodman),  Arabian Nights (Lookingglass, BAM, Steppenwolf), and Pentecost (Berkeley Rep). Television credits include “Necessary Roughness,” “Modern Family,” “Common Law,” “Law and Order: SVU,” and “The Sopranos.”  

Lawrence E. DiStasi (Hermes and Others) was part of the Original Lookingglass Chicago cast of Metamorphoses and has also appeared at Lookingglass in over 30 Lookingglass productions, most recently Eastland: a New Musical and Icarus. DiStasi is a founding Ensemble Member of the Lookingglass Theatre Company, as well as The Actors Gymnasium Circus and Performing Arts School. He’s appeared in the Flying Griffin Circus, T.V.’s "Early Edition," a film called Since You’ve Been Gone, and the opera Galileo Galilei. He recently directed Lost and Found: A Recycled Circus at The Actors Gymnasium.

Marilyn Dodds Frank (Therapist and Others) appeared in the original Chicago cast of Metamorphoses at Lookingglass, as well as Hard Times, The Idiot, George, and The Last Act of Lilka Kadison. Broadway credits include Superior Donuts; Lincoln Center Theater: The Clean House. Other Chicago credits include productions with Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Shaw Chicago, A Red Orchid, Court, Latino Chicago, Teatro Vista, Remains, Next, New Criminals, Piven. New York: En Garde Arts, La Mama. Los Angeles: Actor’s Gang, Padua Playwrights Ensemble. Premieres of four plays written and directed by Maria Irene Fornes. Movies with Judd Apatow, Robert Altman, Stephen Frears, Michael Apted, and Joel Schumacher, among others.

Anne Fogarty (Aphrodite and Others) returns for her sixth production of Metamorphoses. She previously appeared as Aphrodite in the original Lookingglass production and as Eurydice at Hartford Stage, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Other appearances at Lookingglass include Tessa in Summertime and Alexandra in The Idiot. Her regional credits include Mary Zimmerman’s The Secret in the Wings at Berkeley Rep, McCarter Theatre, and Seattle Rep; Terry in Side Man, Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Anne Lindbergh in Hauptmann at Madison Repertory Theatre; and The Governess in Turn of the Screw at Illusion Theatre in Minneapolis. Some of her favorite Chicago roles include Charlotte in The Real Thing, Julia in Holiday, and Ann in Man and Superman (Remy Bumppo Theatre); Esther in The Glamour House (Victory Gardens Theatre); and Carol in Oleanna. She and her husband, actor Raymond Fox, live in Chicago with their daughter, Nora.

Raymond Fox (Midas and Others) was part of the Original Chicago, Off Broadway and Broadway casts (Lookingglass, Second Stage and Circle in the Square), as well as regional productions (Berkeley Rep., Seattle Rep., Mark Taper Forum, Kansas City Rep. and Hartford Stage). recently appeared in Trust at Lookingglass. Broadway/Off Broadway: Metamorphoses (Circle in the Square and Second Stage). Chicago credits include Lookingglass; Remy Bumppo; Goodman; Court; Next. Regional credits include Seattle Rep.; Berkeley Rep.; Kansas City Rep.; Indiana Rep.; Meadow Brook; Hartford Stage; McCarter; Mark Taper Forum; Arden; About Face/Tectonic; American Repertory Theatre and Canada’s Stratford Festival. He studied at Northwestern University and A.R.T. Institute at Harvard University.

Douglas Hara (Phaeton and Others) was part of the Original Chicago, Off Broadway and Broadway casts (Lookingglass, Second Stage and Circle in the Square) of Metamorphoses, as well as regional productions at Berkeley Rep., Seattle Rep. and Mark Taper Forum.
Hara is an Ensemble Member of Lookingglass Theatre Company where he has participated in 16 productions since 1991 including West, Arabian Nights, Up Against It, The Master and Margarita, Lookingglass Hamlet, Lookingglass Alice, and The Brothers Karamazov. Goodman Theatre Productions include Journey to the West and The Odyssey. Arden Theatre productions include A Prayer for Owen Meany, Something Intangible, Threepenny Opera, and Cyrano. Two River Theater productions include Our Town, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Charlotte’s Web, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and HONK! Broadway credits: The Boys of Winter and Metamorphoses. Off-Broadway: The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, and Lookingglass Alice. Doug has performed at many regional theatres including, About Face Theatre, Jellyeye Drum Opera, Huntington Theatre, Berkeley Repertory, Seattle Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, The Alliance Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Joyce Theatre.

Chris Kipiniak (Erysichthon and Others) Broadway: Metamorphoses (Circle in the Square). Off-broadway: Kit Marlowe (Public Theater), Nora (Marvell Repertory), Charles Winn Speaks... (Living Image Arts). London: How To Act Around Cops (Soho Theatre, also New York and Edinburgh International Fringe Festivals). Chicago: The Odyssey and Wit (Goodman Theatre). Film/TV: "Delocated," "Law & Order," "The Good Wife," the feature “The Poker Club,” the short “Trying” (also writer, director). Playwriting: Stalled (Horse Trade Theater Group and Hangar Theatre Lab), Save the World (Roundtable Ensemble), Change the Be and IIIINSAAAAAAAANE!!!! (Horse Trade Theater Group). Other writing: Nightcrawler, Amazing Fantasy and Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man for Marvel Comics.

Louise Lamson (Alcyone and Others) appeared in an early version of Metamorphoses entitled Six Myths, while still a student at Northwestern in 1996, and was also part of the Original Chicago, Off Broadway and Broadway casts, as well as regional productions at the Berkeley Rep., Seattle Rep. and Mark Taper Forum. Lamson is an Artistic Associate at Lookingglass and her credits include The Idiot, Hard Times, The Secret in the Wings, Manuscript Found in Saragossa, The Wooden Breeks, Icarus (at the Getty Villa, L.A.), The Brothers Karamazov, Our Town, and The Arabian Nights. Some Chicago credits include About Face Theatre’s Bash (After Dark award and Jeff nomination), The Odyssey (Goodman), and The Adventures of Herculina (Next Theatre). New York credits include The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (Second Stage).

Lauren Orkus (Eurydice and Others) NY credits include: My Sweet Charlie (June Havoc Theatre), Hollow (Dixon Place), End’s Eve (NY Fringe Festival), Ivanov (Gene Frankel). Regional: The Snow Queen (Portland Stage Company), The Comedy of Errors, Two Noble Kinsmen (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival), The Diary of Anne Frank (St. Louis Rep.), Doubt (Weston Playhouse), Night of the Iguana (Berkshire Theatre Festival), The House in Hydesville (Geva Theatre), Arms and the Man (Orlando Shakespeare Theater), A Christmas Carol (Am. Drama Group Europe- German Tour), The Crucible, The Diary of Anne Frank (Asolo Theatre Co.). Lauren is also a Teaching Artist with the New York non-profit Opening Act. MFA in Acting from the FSU/Asolo Theatre Conservatory.

Lookingglass Theatre is located in the heart of the Magnificent Mile shopping district inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. Discounted parking is available for Lookingglass patrons at both the nearby John Hancock Center and Olympia Centre Self Park (161 E. Chicago Ave.).

Production Sponsors for Metamorphoses include United Airlines, the official and exclusive airline of Lookingglass Theatre Company, and The Pauls Foundation.

About Lookingglass Theatre Company

Inventive.  Collaborative.  Transformative.  Lookingglass Theatre Company, recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award, was founded in 1988 by eight Northwestern University students. 2012-2013 marks the company’s 25th anniversary season. Lookingglass is home to a multi-disciplined ensemble of artists who create story-centered theatrical work that is physical, aurally rich and visually metaphoric. Lookingglass has staged 58 world premieres at 23 venues across Chicago, and garnered 52 Joseph Jefferson Awards and Citations.

Work premiered at Lookingglass has been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Princeton, Hartford, Kansas City, Washington D.C., and St. Louis.  Lookingglass original scripts have been produced across the United States.

The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago's landmark Water Tower Water Works opened in June 2003.  In addition to developing and presenting ensemble work, Lookingglass Education and Community programs encourage creativity, teamwork and confidence with thousands of community members each year.

Lookingglass Theatre Company continues to expand its artistic, financial and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Andrew White, Executive Director Rachel Kraft, Producing Artistic Director Philip R. Smith, Artistic Director of New Work Heidi Stillman, a 22-member artistic ensemble, 15 artistic associates, 11 production affiliates, an administrative staff and a dedicated board of directors led by Chairman Richard Ditton of Incredible Technologies and President Joe Brady of Jones Lang LaSalle. For more information, visit

Regular run: September 30, 2012

Tuesdays: 7:30 p.m. (10/09, 10/23, 11/06 only)
Wednesdays:         7:30 p.m.
Thursdays:    3:00 p.m. (10/18, 11/01, 11/15 only); 7:30 p.m.
Fridays:   7:30 p.m.
Saturdays:   3:00 p.m.; 7:30 p.m.
Sundays:   3:00 p.m.; 7:30 p.m.

Location: Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic
Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson.
Prices: Previews are $28 - $38
Regular Run is $36 - $70
Target Saturday Matinees offer a limited number of buy one, get one free tickets which are available to all 3:00 p.m. Saturday matinees. This program is made possible with the generous support of Target, working with Lookingglass to make the arts accessible to all.
A limited number of student tickets are available the day of the show for $20 with valid student ID.
Groups of 10 or more patrons save up to 20%. Call the box office for details.

Box Office: Buy online at
or by phone at (312) 337-0665
The Lookingglass box office is located at Water Tower Water Works,
821 N. Michigan Ave.

Winner Announced & Beat Kitchen Concerts for Kids Kick Off Tomorrow 9/30

Congrats to Robin B., ChiIL Mama's family 4 pack ticket winner ($32 value)!   We'll see you tomorrow--Sunday 9/30 from 11 to 3pm for a day of rockin' awesome kindie fun.   

Be sure to say hey to us upstairs at ChiIL Mama's Rock Tots Photo Spot! 

We'll have loads of fun dress up clothes and instruments for you to try out, and free ChiIL Mama stickers, too.   

Here's the scoop:

Tickets $8 - available online at or at the door.   All activities from music on the main stage to face painting, crafts, punk rock hair do's, and ChiIL Mama's rock tot's photo spot (dress up & instrument petting zoo) and more included. 

*Please note, Beat Kitchen is now cash only.

First 50 kids get maracas from On the Go Chicago.

Main stage schedule:

11am: Mary Macaroni

12pm: Suzi Shelton with special guest Little Miss Ann and Chicago  favorites Jeff Peek on guitar, Carmen Taglia on bass and Pat Milani on  drums

1pm: the Old Town School of Folk Music's Young Stracke All Stars

2pm: Super Stolie

On the second floor in the Party room we'll have:

** ChiIL Mama's Rock Tots Photo Spot--Dress Up and Instrument Petting Zoo**

** Punk Rock Hair Do's by PsychoBaby**

**Face Painting by Super Stolie**

**Turn trash into tunes with The Wishcraft Workshop!**

Bring a recyclable or two (think plastic bottles, plastic strapping,  smallish
pieces of cardboard, toilet-paper tubes...) and Wishcraft will show you how to make a musical instrument.  Wishcraft is a fun ordinary  workshop in Roscoe Village in which young artists grow to become  confident in their creative freedom in art + craft classes, day camps,  clubs, after-school programs and birthday parties. 

Yes, they teach art.  More importantly, they ignite creativity. Inventive projects are  designed for ready-success and skills are
taught within the context of  relevant projects with a no-judgment philosophy.

The workshop provides a  quality learning experience, showing that the
application of math,  science and creative problem solving can create something functional and  fun. Creative reuse is encouraged whenever possible and many of the  class and party projects use recycled, natural, found and gluten-free materials. (Did we already tell you that it’s fun?)

Sunday noon shows for non-Fest shows are still just 

Save the dates:

**9/30/2012    Fall Fest: Mary Mac, Suzi Shelton(w/special guest Little Miss Ann), Young Stracke All Stars, Super Stolie (11am-3pm, $8/person)**

10/7/2012    The Boogers
10/14/2012    Sarah Jayne Lane
10/21/2012    Little Miss Ann Band
10/28/2012    Mr. Singer & The Sharp Cookies Halloween Show
11/4/2012    Apples, Peaches, Lemonade
11/11/2012    Mary Macaroni
11/18/2012    Jeanie B! and the Jelly Beans
12/2/2012    The Boogers - CD release party
12/9/2012    Little Miss Ann Band
12/16/2012    Mr. Dave
1/6/2013    Deep Fried Pickle Project
1/13/2013    Istvan
1/20/2013    Ice Cream Vendors
1/27/2013    Winter Fest: Mary Mac, Sarah Jane Layne, AndyRoo & the
AndyRooniverse, Deep Fried Pickle Project

Thursday, September 27, 2012

ACT OUT: Parents Night Out--Opening at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

 One of our family favs--Chi-town treasure, 
Chicago Shakespeare Theater


Tonight and October 3rd we'll be at one of our favorite local spaces, the award winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater.   Check out their website for advanced tickets for their prolific, professional and profound offerings.

We'll be at the opening tonight 9/27 and will have a full review up shortly.    I've got a soft spot for all things Scottish, with a husband and kids who are all a bit Scottish in heritage, and a Scottish name, Bonnie.  Of course I also dig Faust, the supernatural, devilish doings, Scottish tunes, and a good tale.   So, I'm particularly intrigued about the show.   Here's a little teaser:

written by David Greig
directed by Wils Wilson
Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare
September 26–October 28, 2012

Take the strangest supernatural storytelling you've ever heard, add some Scottish border ballads, then mix in a few devilish encounters—and you have got National Theatre of Scotland's inventive, rollicking tale of The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart. Uptight academic Prudencia's dream-like journey of self-discovery is a Faustian tale, that unfolds among and around the audience in this music-filled romp of rhyming couplets and wild karaoke, which The Herald's five-star review raved is "rambunctiously life-affirming and touchingly beautiful."
Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (includes intermission)

International programming at Chicago Shakespeare Theater
is supported, in part, by the Julius Frankel Foundation.

Speaking of all things Scottish...

We're also pretty stoked to see the highly acclaimed production of Black Watch, also by National Theatre of Scotland.   Click the link for video clips, behind the scenes, reviews and more.   We missed it the last time around and are eagerly awaiting it's return October 10th.   It's playing at The Broadway Armory through Oct. 21st.

by Gregory Burke
directed by John Tiffany
at the Broadway Armory,
5917 N. Broadway, Chicago
October 10–21, 2012

**Recommended for audiences 13 years and older. The production contains very strong language, loud explosions and strobe lighting.**

Back by popular demand! CST brings the National Theatre of Scotland's world-renowned Black Watch to Chicago audiences for a return engagement at the Chicago Park District's Broadway Armory. This impassioned, urgent telling of a heroic Scottish regiment's tour in Iraq deftly interweaves events both past and present. Battles leap to heartrending life, glorious bagpipes resound, and the intimate moments of soldiers' lives are revealed as they discover what it means to make the journey home again.
Approximate Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes (no intermission)

There are very few good theater pieces about the military. But as anyone who has served in combat will surely sense here (this is a show both veterans and those with even a drop of Scottish blood in their veins should not miss), "Black Watch" is such a piece...a clear-eyed, even-handed look at the realities of war through the eyes of the expectant sons of Dundee, Perth or Fife...And for all its careful avoidance of spectacle, it also manages to achieve an eye-popping amount of bravura theatricality, replete with song, rich movement and, in one gut-wrenching moment, an air-bound re-creation of the most awful moment of combat. The size of the Broadway Armory, the only such apt space on the show's current North American tour, allows the actors to re-create the rush of battle, in a feast of rich and finely detailed work from such young British actors.”  


music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
book by James Lapine | directed by Gary Griffin
Originally Directed on Broadway by James Lapine
Originally Produced on Broadway by The Shubert Organization and Emanuel Azenberg
By arrangement with Playwrights Horizon, Inc. New York City which produced the original production of "Sunday in The Park With George" in 1983.
in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater
September 26–November 4, 2012

Chicago's award-winning theatrical powerhouse that brought you last season’s Follies—rated the "#1 Show of 2011" by the Chicago Tribune—kicks off the fall theater season with Sondheim and Lapine's soaring musical about a painter's struggle between creating art and living life. The dynamic setting of CST's Courtyard Theater will transform into a life-size masterpiece, bringing audience members closer than ever to this remarkable work inspired by The Art Institute of Chicago's celebrated Seurat painting. Book your tickets to this limited engagement today, and enjoy a spectacular night at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (includes intermission)
Support of the acting company of Sunday in the Park with George is provided by Merle Reskin.
Music support generously provided by Gayle and Glenn Tilles.
Music Director Brad Haak is the recipient of the Bob Tilles Music Chair, supported by the Gayle and Glenn R. Tilles Music Fund.

Sunday in the Park with George is presented in the Jentes Family Auditorium.



We're big fans of improv.   I founded Tower Players Improv Troupe back in 1987 and performed with them at Miami University for several years.  The award winning troupe went on to last over 20 years and many of the alums are performing nationwide, including Chicago!   ChiIL Live Shows  covers the big improv fests, and local improv offerings as often as possible. 
Honestly, we haven't had a spare Saturday to check this one out in person, but I love the concept that this is family friendly improv, so you can bring the littles without fear of F Bombs, and still get all the creativity, edginess, and immediacy of improv theatre fun.

Second City Theatricals presents the G-rated "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave, 3rd Floor Saturday's at 12 noon, now through December and into 2013. Tickets are $11. Doors open at 11 a.m. Lunch is available before and during the show for an additional charge (kids and regular menus are available). For tickets or more information, call 312.662.4562 or visit

A quintet of Second City's best lace up their sneakers and reach deep into their imaginations to present "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!," an hour of interactive, family friendly improvisation comedy based on ideas straight from the audience, and made up on the spot. The Chicago Tribune hails the show as "empowering for a kid…refreshing" and Chicago Parent calls it “high-energy and hilarious!” "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" is perfect for birthday parties and field trips, and is recommended for ages 5 – 12.

The rotating cast of ten actors for "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" includes Ross Bryant, Chelsea Devantez, John Hartman, Hans Holsen, Becky Poole, John Sabine, Nate Sherman, Katie Thomas, Katie Klein and Scott Morehead. The creative team includes ensemble includes Reid Janisse (Director), Anthony LeBlanc (Assistant Director), Tara Trudel (Musical Director), Greg Mulvey (Lead Video Editor) and CJ Arellano (Video Editor/Graphics). Stage manager is Meghan Teal.

"Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" is one of four theatrical productions currently playing in the UP Comedy Club, a new hybrid performance venue with an eclectic blend of comedy. In addition to a diverse slate of original programming, UP Comedy Club also features a full service restaurant and bar with a Chicago-style menu that includes Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza, Vienna Beef and Eli's Cheesecake. This custom designed, new cabaret-style club includes state of the art audio visual capabilities, in an inviting room wrapped with intimate booth seating, and two levels of cabaret-style seating for around 300 guests. Additional information can be found at


ROSS BRYANT (Ensemble) is a graduate of the NC School of the Arts and Appalachian State. Ross travelled the world as a member of Second City’s Touring Company, performs at the iO Theater, and is an ensemble member of Improvised Shakespeare and Baby Wants Candy. He has also been seen at ComedySportz Chicago, in the Mediterranean Sea with Second City and hosting the comedy rap battle HATERADE.
He co-wrote Second City’s "Wildcat on a Hot Tin Roof" for Northwestern.
CHELSEA DEVANTEZ (Ensemble) grew up in every state in the Southwest, studied at NYU and fell in love with Chicago. She recently performed in Second City’s "Charmed and Dangerous" in Baltimore and before that, spent four months with Second City at Sea on a cruise ship. She improvises at iO with "A Raptor," and writes songs with DING!
JOHN HARTMAN (Ensemble), member of The Second City Touring Company, wrote and performed "Your Friends and Enemies" and "I’m Sorry I Missed You" at the Annoyance, for which he received Time Out Chicago’s Critic’s Picks, and has performed at the TBS Just for Laughs Festival. He improvises at iO with The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience & Hootenanny and Murderers and at the Apollo with Baby Wants Candy. John has written for "Chicago Live!" on WGN Radio with The Second City and the Chicago Tribune.
HANS HOLSEN (Ensemble) has improvised and performed scripted comedy here at Second City, at iO, The Annoyance, and ComedySportz, among others, and improvises with The Improvised Shakespeare Company and Baby Wants Candy. He toured the U.S. with The Second City Touring Company for two years and toured The Netherlands with Boom Chicago for two years as well.
KATIE KLEIN (Ensemble) Before arriving in Chicago she graduated from Indiana University and lived in D.C. where she performed with Comedy Sportz and iMusical. In Chicago she has trained with iO and The Second City, and can be seen playing with Hey, Rocket!, Sit Still and her partner-in crime, in their tag-team duo, Ed and Kath.
SCOTT MOREHEAD (Ensemble) in addition to performing in the "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" Morehead performs with The Late 90’s at the iO Theatre and can regularly be seen at The Annoyance, CIC (w/ CPL), and The Second City. He also performs at the Apollo Theatre with the improvised musical geniuses of Baby Wants Candy.
BECKY POOLE’S (Ensemble) recent Chicago performances include the Chicago Children’s Theatre production of "Goodnight Moon," The Hypocrites, "Pirates of Penzance," "Chalk & Saltwater" with the Neofuturists, and her solo sketch show at iO "Sit on My Lapse." Becky has done voice over work for Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network, Nintendo Wii and various other projects. She is a co-founder of SketchFest NYC and has performed with sketch comedy groups MEAT and Becky & Noelle across the country.
JOHN SABINE (Ensemble) Originally from Dallas, he graduated from Santa Clara University with a BA in Theatre and Dance. After moving to Chicago to attend Second City’s Comedy Studies Program, he studied at the Second City Training Center and iO. He can be seen around Chicago performing with The Late 90’s. He recently performed with The Second City on Norwegian Cruise Line’s The Epic and BenchCo.
NATE SHERMAN (Ensemble) started performing Improv Comedy at The Ohio State University with the College Group, The 8th Floor. He is a current member of the iO Harold Team, The Late 90’s and an original cast member of "Oprah! A Comedy! Live Your Best Laugh!" at the Annoyance Theater.
KATIE THOMAS (Ensemble) This Detroit native and University of Michigan graduate has performed at The Second City, iO, The Annoyance, and ComedySportz. She currently performs with her beloved independent team, The Katydids, and Uncle Magic. She spent last summer in Alaska performing on the Norwegian Star. Katie is a yoga instructor and teaches improv to teenagers. Find out more at
TARA TRUDEL (Musical Director) has been the Music Director for productions by The Second City directing program, Comedy Sportz, Vampeero, and Storytown. She has taught music and songwriting for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Merit School of Music and performs children’s concerts around Chicago. She can also be seen at TT and Friends, her monthly talent showcase at Scarlet Bar.
MEGHAN TEAL (Stage Manager) Second City credits include: the 99th Mainstage Revue "South Side of Heaven," Second City Theatricals regional revues in D.C., Baltimore, Arizona, and Philadelphia; and she was a member of The Second City Touring Company for more than five years. Other credits include; "A Catered Affair" with Porchlight Music Theatre and various productions at the Annoyance Theatre and iO.
REID JANISSE (Director) is an Alumnus of The Second City Toronto where he wrote and performed in four Mainstage reviews including the Canadian Comedy Award winning "Barack to the Future" and "0% Down, 100% Screwed." For more than ten years he has been the Creative Director of Mad Science Productions, where he has written and directed shows that have played for thousands of family audiences across The United States, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan and Korea. Recent writing and directing credits include "Star Trek: Live" and "CSI: Live (Mad Science)," "Miracle on Mercer St." (Second City) and "Stop Punching Judy: (SC Edco). He currently writes, directs and teaches for The Second City Toronto, is a regular Theatresports cast member at Toronto’s Comedy Bar, and works in film and television in Canada.
ANTHONY LEBLANC (Assistant Director) is from Beaumont, TX. He performed with Boxaganga while obtaining a Computer Science and Physics BS at Loyola University New Orleans. An original member of DSI: The Beatbox, He wrote two Second City Chicago Main Stage Revues, "America: All Better" and "Taming of the Flu."


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Family Friendly Foodie Fun--Chicago VeganMania Celebrates with the Vegan Black Metal Chef, Artisan Vegan Cheese and More #food

ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows are huge fans of Chicago VeganMania and we've been there to cover every year from the start.   The free, all ages fest is a celebration of all things vegan, including a great food court, booths, entertainment and a kids' area.   Vegetarians, Vegan curious, and even carnivores are welcome.   The fest is run by our old friends we've known nearly 2 decades--Chi-town's own uber talented husband/wife duo of Beske and Rose--artist and author activists and parents to vegan boy wonder, Justice.   

Marla-The Vegan Cupcake Fairy

Marla is the author of The Adventures of Vivian Sharpe, Vegan Superhero.  We just gave away a copy of her novel to one of our lucky readers earlier this month and we've been listing all her area readings/book signings.
We've been reading the book as a family before bed time and will have our own full book review feature coming soon.

After three amazingly successful years, Chicago VeganMania returns as a free, day-long celebration of vegan culture, commerce, community, cuisine and couture. The event takes place Saturday, September 29, between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at a new, bigger location – the Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway in Chicago. The previous three events have drawn thousands of attendees.

Nationally known presenters will be featured at Chicago VeganMania again this year, including YouTube sensation, the Vegan Black Metal Chef, whose hilarious and appropriately disorienting videos have gone viral. In addition to the VBMC, we will be welcoming best-selling author Victoria Moran, who wrote the recent book Main Street Vegan, and Miyoko Schinner, author of the new cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese, whose innovative and wholesome recipes are currently featured in VegNews Magazine. In addition, Chicago VeganMania is bringing respected dietician Ginny Kisch Messina and Ellen Jaffe Jones, author of Eat Vegan on $4 a Day.

Cooking demos are back again this year, and Chicago VeganMania is very excited to announce that we will be featuring people who are creating some of Chicago’s most innovative purely plant-based cuisine, featuring chef Kendall Huff of the popular Native Foods, Kat Barry of Kat’s Hot Cakes, Chicago Vegan Foods and others. Everything demonstrated and sampled will be free of animal ingredients. [VBMC and Miyoko are giving chef demos]

“We are thrilled to be putting together another event,” says Marla Rose, Chicago VeganMania co-founder. “It is a really positive and fun celebration of vegan culture and community but it’s also very appealing to those who are just curious about the vegan lifestyle. Anyone who enjoys a free, lively festival with diverse vendors, great speakers and entertainment as well as, of course, delicious, healthy food will enjoy Chicago VeganMania.”

What outfit do you have planned for VeganMania 2012?!   You are what you eat.   We shot this green girl at VeganMania 2010.   Lettuce entertain you indeed.

Included in the day’s festivities will be our popular Culture Café with coffee and an alternative milk bar and live music, a full day of Q&A panels addressing everything from vegan health and wellness to using one’s creative talents for animal advocacy, a “Vegan Rock Star” photo booth and cruelty-free swag bags for the first one hundred people through the door. 
In addition to all this, there will be a huge food court featuring delicious options from a dozen of Chicago's best vegan restaurants, caterers and food companies, as well as an exhibit hall packed dozens of diverse vendors, featuring everything from jewelry to body care products, candles to high fashion. All vegan, of course!