Friday, April 29, 2016

WIN 2 Tickets To Lyric Opera's The King and I From ChiIL Mama

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Lyric Opera’s grand-scale production of
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 
opens tonight, April 29
Performances through May 22
at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr.

 All Production Photos by Todd Rosenberg

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows we're elated to offer our readers a fabulous Mothers' Day giveaway. We are partnering up with The Lyric Opera to offer a FREE pair of tickets to The King and I for one of our lucky readers. Our winner may select one of the following performances: May 7 at 1:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.; May 8 at 6:30 p.m.; or Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. Enter early and often through midnight May 2nd. 

We'll be there for the press opening this Saturday, so check back soon for our full review. The Lyric Opera has long been a favorite of ours for world class productions and incomparable talent, costumes and sets. We can't wait to see the beloved classic, The King and I!

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents a stunning production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, featuring Broadway stars Kate Baldwin and Paolo Montalban as Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam. Lyric Opera’s The King and I runs April 29 through May 22 (press opening April 30), with 25 performances at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. Tickets start at $29 and are available at or at 312-827-5600. 

The King and I is the fourth Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to be presented as part of Lyric’s American Musical Initiative. Lee Blakeley, who staged the production’s 2014 premiere at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, makes his Lyric directorial debut teaming up with distinguished Broadway conductor David Chase, who conducted Lyric’s acclaimed Carousel last season, and choreographer Peggy Hickey. The creative team also includes costume designer Sue Blane (debut), scenic designer Jean-Marc Puissant (debut), lighting designer Rick Fisher (debut), sound designer Mark Grey, and chorus master Michael Black.

The King and I  features Broadway artists Ali Ewoldt (Tuptim), Alan Ariano (The Kralahome), and Rona Figueroa (Lady Thiang), along with Sam Simahk (Lun Tha) and Chicagoland artists Charlie Babbo (Louis Leonowens), Jomar Ferreras (Interpreter), John Lister (Captain Orton), David Parkes (Sir Edward Ramsay), Peter Sipla (Phra Alack) and Matthew Uzarraga (Prince Chulalongkorn). All but Lister make their Lyric debuts with The King and I.

The all-Chicagoland children’s ensemble for the production includes Sophie Mieko Ackerman, Alexis Aponte, Lilly Fujioka, Avonlea Hong, Leila Koss, Evangelyn Lee, Liliana Martens, Lucy Martens, Rika Nishikawa, Ana Joy Rowley-Mathews, Benedict Santos Schwegel, A’naam Singh, Zachary Uzarraga and Sophia Woo. These young performers range in age from 5 through 14.

Click here to learn more about this production. Follow the conversation on Twitter and Instagram: #LyricKing.

The Lyric premiere of The King and I is generously made possible by The Negaunee Foundation, two Anonymous Donors, Robert S. and Susan E. Morrison, and Northern Trust.

The April 30 performance of The King and I will be broadcast on 98.7WFMT and streamed on on Sunday, May 1, at 7:00pm.

About Lyric
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility. Visit for more information.

GRINDMOTHER Age of Destruction Now Streaming

 Oh Canada! 67 year-old Canadian grindcore artist and mom, GRINDMOTHER releases 
debut album today. 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows and ChiIL Mama we've been following the trajectory of 67 year-old Canadian grindcore artist, GRINDMOTHER'S rise to fame. Today she releases her debut album, "Age of Destruction" and makes metal history! The 10 song release is available for full streaming via and of course is also available to purchase in CD and digital format. Check out our prior Grindmother coverage HERE. 

Left to Right:  Rain Forest (guitars), Tyson Apex (drums), Grindmother (vocals)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

One of a Kind Spring Show At Merchandise Mart April 29–May 1

This Friday, we'll be ChiILin' in Chi, IL at the inaugural One of a Kind Spring Show! This year’s show features 300 juried artists along with special featured entertainment including a first ever partnership with Lillstreet Art Center (where I used to make pottery back in the day, BTW).

Check back soon for our photo filled review. And don't delay, get your tickets in advance. The show only lasts this Friday through Sunday. Shop early and often for the best selection! We've been covering the December holiday version of the One of a Kind Show for years now, and it's something to see. Check out our past OOAK 2015 photo feature right HERE. 

Partnerships with Lillstreet, Old Town School of Folk Music and More

The first annual One of a Kind Spring Show at The Mart (222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza) April 29May 1 will provide shoppers with a full three days of fun and creative activities.

In addition to 300 talented artists selling their work, the show will feature fashion shows, gourmet demonstrations, live performances by musicians from the Old Town School of Folk Music and an exciting, first-time collaboration with Chicago’s Lillstreet Art Center. 

The One of a Kind Spring Show will host the following entertainment programming and special

Lillstreet Art Center
For the first time ever, the One of a Kind Show is partnering with the Lillstreet Art Center, a Chicago institution that has been supporting art in the Chicago community for 40 years. The art center will host complimentary demonstrations, workshops and hands-on experiences throughout each day of the show. Lillstreet will introduce shoppers to their unique class offerings including ceramics, metals, drawing and painting, textiles and printmaking that are perfect for the whole family including some classes specifically for children. 

Shoppers can return home notonly with wonderful work from the One of a Kind Spring Show artists but also their own artistic creations. For a full list of Lillstreet programming at the show CLICK HERE.

Music at the Patio Bar by Old Town School of Folk Music
Talented musicians from the Old Town School of Folk Music will perform live music throughout the show at the Patio Bar, located in the center of the show floor. For information on musiciansand the schedule featured at the show please CLICK HERE.

Fashion Shows
Shoppers can enjoy One of a Kind Spring fashions on the runway. Women’s wear, jewelry and accessories will be featured on the Fashion Stage on the east side of the show floor. The One of a Kind Spring Show will present three fashion shows, Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday and
Sunday at 1 p.m.

Gourmet Market Demonstrations
Shoppers can indulge their taste buds at the show’s Gourmet Market on the west side of the show floor. Guests can also watch cooking demonstrations by The Chopping Block as well as Gourmet artisans.

Fine Art Gallery
Shopper’s looking for museum ready pieces can visit the Fine Art Gallery in the center of the show floor. The gallery will feature a curated exhibition of painting and sculpture featured at the

CLICK HERE for a list of artists exhibiting at the One of a Kind Spring Show.

Schedule and Ticket Information
The One of a Kind Spring Show will take place April 29 from 11 a.m. 8 p.m., April 30 from 10a.m. 7 p.m. and May 1 from 10 a.m.5 p.m. at The Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 7th Floor, Chicago, IL. Tickets are $10 for adults, children 12 and under are free. Special ticket packages are also available. For tickets or more information, call (800) 677-MART (6278) or
visit The 16th Annual One of a Kind Holiday Show will take place December 1-4, also at The Mart.  

About The Mart
The Mart is a division of Vornado Realty Trust, is a leading owner and operator of integrated showroom and office buildings, as well as trade show facilities, bringing buyers and sellers together through market events, trade and consumer shows, and conferences each year. Weare committed to creating sustainable environments in the properties we manage and the communities we serve. Vornado Realty Trust, based in New York City, is a fully integrated equity real-estate investment trust. Vornado’s common shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and are traded under the symbol VNO.

Kudos to Cirque du Soleil on Recent Cancellations Due To North Carolina's HB2 Anti Equality Legislation


Cirque du Soleil strongly believes in diversity and equality for every individual and is opposed to discrimination in any form. The new HB2 legislation passed in North Carolina is an important regression to ensuring human rights for all. We therefore choose to cancel our scheduled performances of OVO in Greensboro (April 20-24) and our scheduled performances in Charlotte (July 6-10) and our scheduled performances of TORUK – Avatar in Raleigh (June 22-26). 

Cirque du Soleil believes in equality for all. It is a principle that guides us with both our employees and our customers.  We behave as change agents to reach our ultimate goal of making a better world with our actions and our productions.

We sincerely hope that the customers that have purchased tickets for our performances in North Carolina will understand our motivation and we look forward to performing in North Carolina when this issue is addressed.  On-line and phone ticket purchases will be automatically reimbursed and in-person purchases must return to point of purchase for refunds.  Customer service can be reached at 1-877-924-7783.

About Cirque du Soleil
From a group of 20 street performers at its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil is now a major Quebec-based organization providing high-quality artistic entertainment. The company has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from close to 50 different countries.

Cirque du Soleil has brought wonder and delight to more than 160 million spectators in 400 cities in sixty countries on six continents.

For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit

To find out more about the ONE DROP Foundation, visit

TICKETS ON SALE: Emerald City's SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place

Family Friendly
Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar


Here at ChiIL Mama, we have seen many variations on productions of School House Rock Live! over the years. It's a favorite of ours because I'm old enough to remember the original spots between Saturday morning cartoons. I grew up on the stuff and fondly introduced the stage version, CD and DVDs to my own kids. Tickets are now on sale for Broadway In Chicago and Emerald City Theatre's production, this summer. Book early! 


Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place
July 8 through August 28

Tickets On Sale NOW
Broadway In Chicago and Emerald City Theatre are pleased to announce that SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! will play the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place July 8 through August 28, 2016. Individual tickets for SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! go on sale on Friday, April 22.

Through unforgettable songs such as “Just a Bill” and “Conjunction Junction,” a nervous schoolteacher must discover how to charm his students through imagination and music on the first day of class. Based on the entertaining and educational Emmy Award-winning animated series, SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! brings the treasured Saturday-morning melodies of the ‘70s back in a hip new way. Children with recognition of educational subject matter and familiarity of the scholastic cartoon of the same name will enjoy this classic show, reimagined into an academic rock concert that features booming musical recordings and a funkadellic stage.

Individual tickets for SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place range from $16-$24. A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances. Group tickets for 10 or more are available by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at

For a complete performance schedule, please visit

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! is directed by Morgan Ashley Madison, originally adapted and produced for the stage by Theatre BAM from the series created by George Newall and Tom Yohe, with a book by Scott Ferguson, George Keating and Kyle Hall and music and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, Kathy Mandry, George Newall and Tom Yohe.

About Emerald City Theatre
Founded in 1996, Emerald City Theatre creates theatre experiences that inspire early learners through play. Emerald City is one of Chicago's most attended non-profit theatres, with an annual programming reach of 80,000. Through a rigorous collaboration between innovating artists and leading educators, Emerald City develops new work for young audiences, with over 29 world premieres; produces professional productions at the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park, The Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, and regional tour venues; and provides acclaimed educational programming throughout Chicago through Emerald City Theatre School. Emerald City's Little Theatre, the nation's first facility dedicated to theatre for the very young (ages 0-4), opened in April 2013. Emerald City was awarded the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce's Excellence in Arts and Culture Award in 2013.

Save 10% On Actors Gymnasium's Fourth Annual Spring Youth Circus Show, Another Castle

Family Friendly
Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Video Gamers will Delight in 
New Youth Show
Merging circus arts and a video game aesthetic, this original production is sure to delight all ages.

Here at ChiIL Mama we're extra excited to share the scoop on Another Castle with you since this show is my 13yo daughter, Sage's Actors Gymnasium debut! She'll be sharing the stage and rocking the aerial arts with a super talented cast of kids. We can NOT wait to see this. Some shows are already nearly sold out, so book your tickets ASAP. 

**Sage's code is PLAYER29. Add it when you book tickets in the line for discount code to save 10%!**

The Actors Gymnasium presents the fourth annual Spring Youth Circus, Another Castle 
opening May 14. 

Can our hero make it to the last level with one life and no powerups? After an escape from her mother's restrictive courtly rules, Princess Deidre runs to the woods and befriends young Irving- a half human/half fairy boy. Big Mistake. Little did Deidre know, Irving's mom is the wicked Morrigan, and she hates humans. Now it's up to Deidre to save her friend from his castle prison while navigating the chaotic Land of Bit. 

The Actors Gym Youth Circus Ensemble is at it again- this time with an original fantasy/video game mashup! Goblins and Powerups, Witches and Warp tubes- whether you're a next-gen console kid or came up in the 8-bit days, you'll be amazed by the awesome physical feats of these young performers as they weave a tale of friendship strong enough to conquer the wickedest wild magic. 

The Actors Gymnasium Youth Circus is a performance-based training program that culminates in a fully-produced, original show. This intensive experience pairs professional artists and youth performers to collaboratively create an original new show and includes high-quality training in drama, dance, aerial and circus arts. In the process, students develop skills in collaboration, problem solving, and social interaction with their peers. The Youth Circus is one of our most popular ticketed events each year. 

"Whether I'm teaching or directing, I make sure to hand over control on certain aspects of the class or creative process so that the students or cast and I are truly collaborating together," says co-director Alex Tey. 

The MORRIGAN, wicked magical force of the forest, split in five 
as interpreted by castmate Annabelle

Tey continues, "In rehearsal for the Youth Circuses, what this means is that Sara (my co-director) and I come in with a basic sketch of what the story might look like, and then we lead creative improv exercises with the cast. Through these early workshops, we get input on characters, situations, even specific lines of dialogue that may end up in the show. Any artist is going to be doing their best work when they are deeply invested in the project at hand, and this is our way of respecting and celebrating our cast, building investment, and coming up with great ideas that Sara and I never would have found on our own!" 

To ensure a broad education in circus and performing arts, The Actors Gymnasium brings in instructors who specialize in dance and drama, while Artistic Director Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi teaches circus and aerial skills that include juggling, tumbling, trapeze, tightwire, stilts and more. 

"Youth Circus is such a lucky opportunity, one we definitely don't take for granted. Where else can kids be part of the development and execution of a complete work of performance art with such a uniquely talented team of teachers and artists... and to truly feel like part of the 'team' throughout the process." says parent and board member Lauren Sinai. 

The show runs May 14, 15, 21 & 22, 2016 with three shows each weekend. Tickets are available now and can be purchased at For group reservations and general questions call 847-328-2795. The on-location box office opens 1.5 hours prior to the start of each performance. 

About Another Castle: Spring Youth Circus: 
Written & Directed by Alex Tey and Sara Sawicki 
Circus Choreography by Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi 
Dance Choreography by Kat Scott 
Assistant Circus Choreography by Tommy Tomlins 
Sound Design by Sammy Zeisel 
Lighting Design by Justine Brock
Costume Design by Serena Sandoval
Props Design by Clara Wendland
Stage Managed by Gianna Petrosino 

The Actors Gymnasium is located at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, IL - just off of the Noyes purple line 'L' stop. The Noyes Cultural Arts Center is owned by the City of Evanston and home to over 20 artists and arts organizations offering music, theater, and visual arts programs and studios. The galleries exhibit local artists, with exhibitions changing every two months.

Actors Gymnasium classes are taught in a 3,000 sq/ft gymnasium space that features a 1,600 sq/ft sprung floor and a fully rigged 24 foot ceiling. All aerial equipment such as the Aerial Hoop, Spanish Web, aerial silks, static trapeze and more are provided, as well as the equipment for ground skills such as unicycling, juggling, tight wire and gymnastics. Additional classes are taught in Studio 108, a 900 sq/ft classroom space that features a floating sprung White Oak dance floor, a fully rigged 14 foot ceiling, a handstand wall, conditioning ladders, and room length 12 foot mirrors for aerial work.

About The Actors Gymnasium:

The Actors Gymnasium is dedicated to bringing a new physicality to the American Theatre. Encouraging ground-breaking theatrical exploration, The Actors Gymnasium teaches circus arts, physical theatre and multi-disciplinary performance to children and adults; produces original, daring works of circus-theatre; and serves as a talent resource, providing performance opportunities to our students and innovative professional event entertainment for a wider audience. At The Actors Gymnasium, people Learn To Fly - physically, emotionally, and creatively. For more information, please visit


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


Production now runs April 29 – June 26, 2016

Here at ChiIL Mama, this is one of our favorite musicals and we can't wait to see the talented team at American Blues Theater's take on it. Don't delay on booking your tickets. They're selling crazy fast and the show's been extended already, before previews have even started! Don't miss this.

Due to early ticket demand, American Blues Theater announces the extension of Little Shop of Horrors, the comedic rock musical with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken, directed by Jonathan Berry, and music direction by Ensemble member Austin Cook. Little Shop of Horrors now runs April 29 – June 26, 2016 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago.  The official press opening is Friday, May 6 at 7:30 pm. Tickets to Little Shop of Horrors, including the extension performances are currently on sale and can be purchased by phone at 773-404-7336 or online at

For years, Little Shop of Horrors has made audiences scream with laughter. In this gleefully gruesome musical, Seymour, a poor florist’s assistant, allows his craving for fame and fortune to seduce him into playing nursemaid to a man-eating plant. This celebrated musical, with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, features the rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown-inspired songs “Skid Row (Downtown),” “Somewhere That’s Green,” and “Suddenly, Seymour.” 

Following the success of 2013’s Hank Williams: Lost Highway, American Blues will again utilize the phenomenal musical talent of its company, allowing them to produce a comedy with great music and a fun story. Little Shop of Horrors features American Blues Ensemble Members Michael Mahler (Seymour), Dara Cameron (Audrey) and Artistic Affiliate Ian Paul Custer (Orin),as well as Mark David Kaplan (Mr. Mushnik), Lorenzo Rush Jr. (Voice of Audrey Two), Camille Robinson (Crystal), Jasondra Johnson (Ronnette), Eunice Woods (Chiffon), Darian Tene (Street Derelict), and Yando Lopez (Street Derelict).

The live band includes music director Austin Cook (keyboard), Shaun Whitley (electric guitar), Michael Weatherspoon (drums), Malcolm Ruhl (bass), and Matthew Sitz (auxiliary percussion/puppeteer).

The creative team includes Ensemble members and Artistic Affiliates Grant Sabin (scenic), Izumi Inaba (costumes), Rick Sims (sound), Christopher J. Neville (props), and Sarah E. Ross (Audrey II), as well as Heather Gilbert (lights) and Dana Nestrick (stage manager).

About American Blues Theater
American Blues Theater is the premier American theater producing visceral theatrical works while engaging its audience in missions of local service agencies.  American Blues Theater illuminates the American ideas of freedom, equality, and opportunity in the plays produced and communities served.

The multi-generational and interdisciplined artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago.  The 34-member Ensemble have over 500 combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2016, the theater and artists received 172 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and over 28 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.  

The American Blues Theater Ensemble includes all four Founders Ed Blatchford, Rick Cleveland, James Leaming, and William Payne with Dawn Bach, Matthew Brumlow, Manny Buckley, Kate Buddeke, Sarah Burnham, Dara Cameron, Casey Campbell, Brian Claggett, Dennis Cockrum, Austin Cook, Laura Coover, Lauri Dahl, Joe Foust, Cheryl Graeff, Marty Higginbotham, Jaclyn Holsey, Lindsay Jones, Nambi E. Kelley, Kevin R. Kelly, Steve Key, Ed Kross, Warren Levon, Michael Mahler, Heather Meyers, John Mohrlein, Suzanne Petri, Carmen Roman, Editha Rosario, Sarah E. Ross and Gwendolyn Whiteside.

TODAY: Live Streaming WE Day at Allstate Arena

ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List:

Ciara, Martin Luther King III, Jordan Smith, Paula Abdul, Nico & Vinz and J.R. Martinez Come Together at WE Day Illinois 
to Celebrate the Power Young People Have 
to Change the World

WE Day streams live today at Check it out NOW.

WE Day is free for thousands of students and educators thanks to National Title Sponsor Allstate 

Today, WE Day, a series of worldwide educational events celebrating young people making a difference in local and global communities, along with National Title Sponsor Allstate, bring together world-renowned presenters, speakers and performers to celebrate 15,000 Illinois students and educators from over 400 schools. Students attending have earned their way to WE Day by taking action on issues such as bullying, hunger and homelessness.

Taking the WE Day Illinois stage will be inspiring speakers and performers, including Ciara, Martin Luther King III, Jordan Smith, Paula Abdul, Nico & Vinz, J.R. Martinez, Monique Coleman, Becca Tobin, Kardinal Offishall, Spencer West, international activists and WE Day co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, and more.

Illinois youth have earned their tickets to WE Day by taking action on local and global social issues through WE Schools, a year-round service learning program, which provides a free menu of hands-on, student-led campaigns designed to enhance a school’s existing social initiatives or to spark new ones. WE Schools helps young people turn the day’s inspiration into sustained service action and together, WE Day and WE Schools are a blueprint for building the next generation of change-makers.

Allstate Chairman and CEO, Tom Wilson, national Co-Chair of WE Day, will deliver a message of youth empowerment to the audience. “Throughout history, youth have taken action to create positive social change. Young people can lead the way and restore hope in our communities – they’ve got the solutions. We Schools makes that happen. WE Day celebrates their success.” 

Young people across Illinois are creating remarkable change through the WE Schools program. For example, students at William H. Taft High School in Chicago collected food items for the needy in their community. This past fall, students trick-or-treated at Halloween for non-perishable food items for a local food pantry. To continue making an impact, the students also teamed up with New Hope Community Food Pantry to collect and distribute food items in their neighborhoods, and they will continue to support community members with upcoming brown-bag lunch and school supply programs.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and WE Day Illinois Co-Chair, Arne Duncan, will take the WE Day stage to reinforce the educational outcomes of service learning and to honor the school districts, teachers and youth in attendance. “We can’t do enough to celebrate kids who are providing unbelievable leadership and service. Young people have an incredible opportunity to drive the change we need and this is a tremendous group of young people. WE Day is a way to help them, listen to them, and most of all to learn from them.”

WE Day Illinois will energize the crowd through a day of powerful educational speeches, inspirational moments and empowering performances, including:

  • Human rights advocate and eldest son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Martin Luther King III, inspires the audience with a motivating and empower message.   
  • Spoken word artists, Jamila Woods and youth from Louder Than a Bomb inspire the crowd with a powerful spoken word piece, highlighting the importance of a young person’s voice.
  • Grammy® Award-winning singer, songwriter and record producer, Ciara, gets the crowd on their feet to a medley of her chart-topping hits. She will be joined by multi-award winning, non-profit, dance & music theater company, Endure Dance Company.

Making WE Day a true community celebration, local young people with inspiring personal stories will join the lineup on stage, including Raven Smith, age 17, from Morgan Park High School. Determined to change the recent national headlines about violence in Chicago, Raven created “Straight From The Go,” an apparel line with a positive message. Through her brand, Raven showcases Chicago as a world-class city with caring and generous citizens who are dedicated to making a difference. WE Day will also highlight tremendous local youth leaders supported by Chicago Scholars, Mikva Youth Challenge, local schools and organizations, including ChiArts, Chicago Citizens for Change, Peacemakers Program, Soul Children of Chicago and Young Chicago Authors.

WE Day provides youth with a platform to learn about some of today’s most pressing issues while celebrating this generation’s shift from me to we—toward acting with intention, leading with compassion and believing in the power of community. WE Schools has engaged over 600 schools and community groups across the state, including the 400-plus in attendance at WE Day Illinois. More than half of the students in attendance come from Chicago Public Schools, and over 76 percent are from low income communities.

In the 2014-2015 school year,
  • 83 percent of Illinois educators participating in WE Schools have identified leadership opportunities for their students as a result of the WE Schools program
  • 84 percent of educators said their students saw themselves as part of a broader community
  • 71 percent of educators said the program encouraged previously disengaged youth to become more engaged

A global movement of 2.3 million young people strong, youth involved with WE Day and WE Schools have raised $62 million for more than 2,500 local and global organizations, volunteered 19.9 million hours for local and global causes and collected over 7.6 million pounds of food.

“We believe that, if given the right tools, today’s youth can conquer anything they put their minds to. Annually, 200,000 students coast to coast and around the globe from over 10,000 schools earn their tickets to WE Day by creating tangible benefits for their communities,” said WE Day co-founder Craig Kielburger. “By bringing together thousands of young change-makers today, students across Illinois will know they’re not alone and that collectively, they are making their voices heard.”

WE Day is supported by Illinois by Co-Chairs Tom Wilson, Chairman and CEO, Allstate; Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education; Common, award-winning hip-hop artist, actor and founder of the Common Ground Foundation; Alex Gourlay, president, Walgreen; and Jade Greear, WE Day Illinois Youth Co-Chair.

WE Day is free to the thousands of students and teachers in attendance at WE Day Illinois, thanks to the generous support of National Title Sponsor Allstate, a company that empowers future generations with the strength, confidence and skills to rise up as leaders and realize their potential—and to show the world that good starts young.

About WE Day

About the WE Day Movement
WE Day is the movement of our time—a movement of young people leading local and global change. WE Day celebrates and inspires this generation’s shift from me to we—towards acting with intention, leading with compassion, and a belief in the power of community. WE Day is one of the world’s largest registered non-profit initiatives on social media, with more than five million followers. This year alone over 200,000 young people will come together in 14 stadium gatherings across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. to take part in this unprecedented educational initiative.

More than a one-day event, WE Day is connected to a yearlong free educational program, WE Schools, which provides educational resources and campaigns to help young people turn the day’s inspiration into sustained action. WE Day and WE Schools are cause-inclusive, empowering young people to find their passion and create the change they want to see. Together, WE Day and WE Schools are a blueprint for building the next generation of global change-makers. For more information, please visit

About Allstate

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

GIVEAWAY: WIN 4 Free Tickets ($120 value) -- Seed Folks Opens At Chicago Children's Theatre 5/5-22 (Ages 7+)

Family Friendly 
Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

“14 characters, 1 amazing actress” –

Come ChiIL out with ChiIL Mama as one of our fam friendly favorites, Chicago Children's Theatre brings acclaimed actress Sonja Parks to the stage at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts to play 14 characters from the excellent book, Seed Folks! My daughter's 4th-6th grade Montessori class read Seed Folks in school then did staged readings for the parents. I love this book and can't wait to see the show!

Enter to WIN 4 FREE Tickets ($120 value)for Sunday, May 8 @ 11 am for Seedfolks. Give mom a Mother's Day gift of live theatre with her favorite folks! ChiIL Mama will be there... will YOU?! Enter here through midnight Thursday, May 5th. 


Sonja Parks tells the story of the founding and first year of a community garden in a gritty, immigrant neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. 

From an 8-year-old Vietnamese girl, to a geriatric Eastern European busybody, Parks uses speech, posture and gestures to migrate between characters, who collectively describe the transformation of the empty lot into a vibrant garden. While doing so, each experiences his or her own transformation. 

A Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis production based on the popular children's novel by Paul Fleischman, directed by Peter C. Brosius. 

For ages 7 and up

Chicago Children's Theatre
at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts
1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago

May 5-22   

Thursday, May 5 at 10 a.m. and noon
Friday, May 6 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Opening weekend:
Saturday, May 7 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 8 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Performances run through May 22:
Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. and noon
Saturday at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. 
Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

How much?
Tickets: $10-$39

Purchase at or call (877) 222-9555

Saturday, May 14
Touch Tour 4:30pm prior to 6pm performance
Audio Described performance 6pm
ASL Interpreted performance 6pm
Sunday, May 15
Open Captioned performance 11am
Open Captioned performance 2pm
**If you have special seating accommodations, please inform the Box Office 72 hours before the performance.
*Run time 75 min. including Q&A session.
*Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office one hour prior to performances with no additional fees.

*Children under 2 years of age will be admitted without a ticket provided they sit on another guest’s lap and do not occupy a seat. Any child 2 years of age and older will require a ticket to enter.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Adult Night Out: Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody Opens at Writers Theatre 4/27

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Writers Theatre presents
the inaugural production in the Gillian Theatre
at Writers Theatre’s new home
Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: 
A Parody
Created by Tim Ryder and Tim Sniffen
Written by Tim Sniffen
Directed by Stuart Carden and Artistic Director Michael Halberstam

Due to popular demand, the production has already been extended by two weeks and now plays from April 27, 2016 – July 31, 2016

Writers Theatre, under leadership of Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma, continues its 2015/16 season with Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody created by Tim Ryder and Tim Sniffen, written by Tim Sniffen and directed by Stuart Carden and Michael Halberstam. The production has been extended by two weeks, and runs April 27, 2016 – July 31, 2016 in the Gillian Theatre at Writers Theatre’s new theater center at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. 

This hilarious result of a collaboration between Writers Theatre and Chicago’s world-renowned comedy theatre The Second City, asks the intriguing question: What happens when the most recognizable characters from some of the greatest American plays of the 20th century suddenly find themselves sharing the same stage?

When a mysterious invitation brings Blanche DuBois back to New Orleans, she finds herself once again face-to-face with the smoldering Stanley Kowalski. That would be challenge enough, but they are soon joined by luckless salesman Willy Loman and hard-drinking, hard-fighting couple George and Martha, and suddenly all bets are off. Add a folksy Stage Manager and the comic genius of The Second City team, and the question quickly becomes: Will the American Theatre ever be the same?

Schedule: Tuesdays – Fridays: 7:30pm (with select 3pm Wednesday matinees)
Saturdays: 3pm and 7:30pm
Sundays: 2pm and 6pm

Location: Performed in the Gillian Theatre: 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

Prices: Prices for all performances range from $35 – $80
           Purchase early for best prices     

Box Office: The Box Office is located at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

Co-directed by former Associate Artistic Director Stuart Carden and Artistic Director Michael Halberstam, this deliciously satirical mash-up of A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Our Town opens the Gillian Theatre with a tongue-in-cheek salute to the celebrated icons of American drama.

Artistic Director Michael Halberstam comments, “When I first read the script, I laughed out loud. Actually, I laughed out loud at the title. I laughed heartily during the two developmental readings and I’m still laughing during rehearsals. After the wrenching emotional journey of Marjorie Prime and the intricate complexities and devastating ending of Arcadia, it seemed to me that laughter was going to be very much a necessary part of our conversation with our audiences. Furthermore, the idea of a collaboration with The Second City, one of Chicago’s most respected and venerable institutions as a part of our opening season was irresistible. We’ve ALL had an emotional year and what with the madness raging in the headlines I think it is hard to undervalue the importance of laughter as a necessary ingredient for our souls. We opened our building in February with joy and we are taking it forward with laughter. Coming next? Music!”

Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody was commissioned by The Second City and developed in partnership with Writers Theatre, under the guidance of co-director Stuart Carden and featuring a cast of veteran Writers Theatre actors.

The cast of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody includes Greg Matthew Anderson (George beginning 7/19), Jennifer Engstrom (Blanche DuBois), Sean Fortunato (The Stage Manager), Marc Grapey (Willy Loman), John Hoogenakker (George through 7/17), Michael Perez (Stanley Kowalski) and Karen Janes Woditsch (Martha).

The designers are Linda Buchanan (Scenic Designer), Jenny Mannis (Costume Designer), Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer) and Josh Horvath (Sound Designer). The Stage Manager is Rebecca Pechter, and the Assistant Stage Manager is Mallory Bass.


Accessible Performances
ASL-Interpreted performance: Thursday, July 14 at 7:30pm
Open-Captioned performance: Friday, July 15 at 7:30pm

Post Show Conversation: The Artist
Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding previews) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team. 

Post Show Conversation: The Word
Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding previews) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

Sunday Spotlight—Sunday, June 19, 2016
This one-hour event will follow the matinee performance and feature an expert in a field related to the themes or setting of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody, moderated by a member of the WT Artistic Team. Seating is limited. RSVP is required.

The Making of… Series—Monday, June 27, 2016
Writers Theatre will once again host its popular The Making of… Series, providing insight into a different aspect of creating the productions seen on our stages. This one-hour event will feature Writers Theatre’s Literary Manager Bobby Kennedy in conversation with an artist associated with the production, discussing their part in bringing the play to life. The Making of… events are FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited. RSVP is required.

From Page to Stage Series
Writers Theatre and select North Shore libraries are proud to present the eleventh annual From Page to Stage series. This comprehensive series of special events, lectures, workshops and performances are designed to enhance and enrich appreciation of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody. All events are FREE of charge and open to the public. Reservations must be made per each event to secure seats and may be made online at or by calling 847-242-6000. The From Page to Stage series is generously sponsored by Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin. From Page to Stage series events for Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody are as follows:

Monday, May 9 at 7:00pm
Hosted by the Glencoe Public Library at Writers Theatre
Featuring: Co-director Stuart Carden and co-creator and writer Tim Sniffen
The co-director and co-creator/writer of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody discuss the themes of the play, the process of its creation and the challenges of satirizing some of the greatest works in the American Theatre canon. Enjoy coffee and desserts following this annual literary event!

Tuesday, May 10 at 6:30pm
Hosted by Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette
Featuring: Michael Smith, independent filmmaker, author and film studies instructor based in Chicago
Join us for a screening of the classic film, A Streetcar Named Desire, followed by a discussion with
filmmaker Michael Smith, author of the book Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry.

Thursday, May 12 at 7:00pm
Hosted by Deerfield Public Library, 920 Waukegan Rd., Deerfield
Featuring: Clown, Nurse and Certified Laughter Leader, Debra Joy Hart
Learn how laughter helps your body stay healthy, keeps your mind sharp and helps you keep emotionally connected with other people—and yourself. Debra Joy Hart will lead attendees in laughter exercises, play-filled jocularity and mindful planned spontaneity while also tackling tough subjects such as when to laugh and when to cry.

Monday, May 16 - 7:00pm
Hosted by Glenview Public Library, 1930 Glenview Rd., Glenview
Featuring: WT artists Michael Perez and Matt Hawkins
Stanley Kowalski from Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody (Actor Michael Perez) comes face-to-face with Stanley Kowalski from Writers Theatre’s 2008 production of A Streetcar Named Desire (Actor Matt Hawkins), to discuss the difference in approach when creating a character from the original source text, as opposed to a new work that is satirizing the original.

Tuesday, May 24 at 7:00pm
Hosted by Highland Park Public Library, 494 Laurel Ave., Highland Park
Featuring: Chris Jones, Chief Theatre Critic and a Sunday Culture Columnist for the Chicago Tribune
Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody is a mash-up of four of the best-loved dramas in the American theatrical canon. See how much you know about the source material in a lively round of theatre trivia.

Monday, June 6 at 7:00pm
Northbrook Public Library, 1201 Cedar Ln., Northbrook
Featuring: Dr. Ben Golobuff, Professor of English at Lake Forest College
Join us for an informative lecture that contextualizes Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody by examining the rules and conventions of comedy, parody, and satire, and exploring the emerging art and culture of mash-ups.

Thursday, June 9 at 7:00pm
Hosted by Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton St., Skokie
Featuring presenters from The Second City
This energetic and enlightening presentation by The Second City includes an exploration of parody and discussion of how improvisation informs the choices performers make in creating a real person or character.

For more information about Writers Theatre Audience Enrichment programs visit

In an effort to promote taking public transit to the Theatre, Writers Theatre launched a new promotion in 2013. Any audience member who purchases a ticket to a Writers Theatre production and rides Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to the Theatre may snap a photo of themselves on the train and post it to their Facebook page or Twitter feed with a tag of @WritersTheatre and #[the title of the show], and upon showing the post at the Writers Theatre Box Office, receive $5 in cash to put toward the cost of your fare as a thank you for going green.

This promotion is available for a limited time only, and may end without warning. Ticket must have been paid for in advance. Not valid on comp tickets. More information available at

Writers Theatre is pleased to recognize BMO Harris Bank as Inaugural Season Sponsor and Lead Sponsor of Grand Opening Gala and Opening Events during the 2015/16 Season. UBS is serving as Major Corporate Sponsor of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody, and ComEd as Official Lighting Sponsor. This production is also supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additionally, Writers Theatre is grateful to the following individuals for their support of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody:Susan and Don Belgrad, Christopher S. Pfaff and Sara Pfaff, and Merle Reskin as Artists Council Sponsors; Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin as From Page to Stage Sponsors, John and Shila Kastl, Beth L. Kronfeld and Matthew D. Means, and Kevin and Ellen Van Wart as Director’s Society Sponsors, and Paul Fox, Onnie and Steven Scheyer, and Marilyn and Michael Vender in memory of Andrea Fox. , 

For more information about Writers Theatre’s 2015/16 Partners, visit

Tim Sniffen (Co-Creator and Writer) has worked with The Second City since 2006, traveling with The Second City National Touring Company, co-writing The Second City Guide to the Opera in collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago, and co-writing Realish Housewives, a parody show currently touring the U.S. Tim’s next project is a new collaboration with Lyric Opera about Richard Wagner and the writing of the Ring Cycle.
Tim Ryder (Co-Creator) has been writing and performing comedy in Chicago for over 10 years. He co-wrote and performed two critically acclaimed revues on The Second City e.t.c. stage: Apes of Wrath and Soul Brother, Where Art Thou?. He is also an alumnus of The Second City Touring Company and has performed in The Second City Guide to the Opera, The Second City Improv All-Stars, Baby Wants Candy, The Beatbox and in shows at iO Chicago (Chaos Theory, The Deltones) and ComedySportz. You might have seen him in videos for The Onion, the webseries Game Bros or on Chicago Fire and Sirens. This is his first play.

Stuart Carden (Co-Director) returns to Writers Theatre where he spent five seasons as Associate Artistic Director and helmed productions such as The Old Man and The Old Moon, Yellow Moon, Hesperia and Travels with My Aunt. Chicago directing credits include Butler (Northlight Theatre); The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Frederick (Chicago Children’s Theatre); The Merchant on Venice (a South Asian-American-inspired adaptation), Golden Child, 10 Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith and Back of the Throat (Silk Road Rising). Regional directing credits include The Old Man and The Old Moon (The New Victory Theater—NYC, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Arts Emerson—Boston); Tribes (Philadelphia Theatre Company & City Theatre Company); Oblivion, Blackbird, Mary’s Wedding, A Picasso, The Moonlight Room (City Theatre Company); Circle Mirror Transformation, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Crime and Punishment, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); The Pillowman, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The False Servant and Stones in his Pockets (PICT Classic Theatre). Before his tenure as Associate Artistic Director at Writers Theatre, Stuart held the same position from 2007-2009 at City Theatre Company. This fall, Stuart continues his collaboration with PigPen Theatre Co. and Writers Theatre to premiere the new folk tale with music The Hunter and The Bear at Writers Theatre. Stuart lives in the South Loop with contemporary art curator Neysa Page-Lieberman and their twins, Dashiell and Griffin. He is a proud alum of Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Michael Halberstam (Artistic Director and Co-Director) is the co-founder of Writers Theatre. He has directed over thirty-five productions for the company, including Arcadia, Not About Heroes (starring Nicholas Pennell), Private Lives, Look Back In Anger, Candida, The Father, Crime and Punishment, Benefactors, 
Seagull, The Duchess of Malfi, Othello, The Savannah Disputation, the world premiere musical A Minister’s Wife, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, She Loves Me, The Real Thing, Hamlet, Sweet Charity, Days Like Today, Isaac’s Eye and in Spring of 2016 he will be co-directing Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody, the first production in the Gillian Theatre. Halberstam has appeared in numerous Writers Theatre productions, including Richard II (title role), Loot and Misalliance. Previously, he spent two years at The Stratford Festival in Ontario and performed in Timon of Athens, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (title role), Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It. Halberstam’s other Chicago acting credentials include productions with Wisdom Bridge Theater, Court Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Elsewhere he directed The Gamester (Northlight Theatre), A Man for All Seasons (Peninsula Players Theatre), 
Hamlet (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Candida (Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York), Ten Little Indians (Drury Lane Theatre), a highly acclaimed revival of Crime and Punishment, which Writers Theatre produced Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters in New York City, Enchanted April and State of the Union (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). In 2010 he directed A Minister’s Wife at Lincoln Center Theater, and also directed the west coast premiere at San Jose Repertory Theatre in 2013. His forays into opera have included The Rape of Lucretia (Chicago Opera Theater), Francesca da Ramini featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and Le Freyshutz, a Berlioz adaptation of the Weber opera conducted by Christoph Eschenbach in its North American Premiere (Ravinia Festival). He spent two and a half years teaching Shakespeare at The Theatre School at DePaul University and has received awards for excellence in theater management and/or artistic achievement from The Chicago Drama League, The Arts & Business Council, Chicago Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and The Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival. He also received the 2010 Zelda Fichandler Award, the 2013 Artistic Achievement Award from the League of Chicago Theatres, and was named the Chicago Tribune's 2013 "Chicagoan of the Year" for Theater. He currently serves on the board of the Arts Club of Chicago. Next season at Writers Theatre, he will be co-directing and adapting [ital]Julius Caesar[end ital] with Scott Parkinson.

Greg Matthew Anderson (George starting 7/19) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in Arcadia. Greg is an Artistic Associate at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company where credits include Power, The Best Man, The Philadelphia Story, Bronte, On the Verge, The Marriage of Figaro, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Night and Day, The Importance of Being Earnest, Chesapeake (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination), You Never Can Tell, Northanger Abbey, An Inspector Calls and Travesties (Joseph Jefferson nomination). Chicago credits include Rock ‘N Roll, the commercial production of Immediate Family (Goodman Theatre), Sense and Sensibility, The Moustrap (Northlight Theatre), Arcadia (Court Theatre), Sons of the Prophet, Oklahoma! (American Theater Company) and A Moment Alone (iO Theater). TV credits include Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire, Betrayal, The Playboy Club, Underemployed, The Chicago Code, Detroit 187 and the pilot Matadors. Film credits include Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Middle Distance, Game Day and Older Children. Greg is a graduate of Duke University’s Department of Theater Studies.

Jennifer Engstrom (Blanche DuBois) appeared as Eunice (and twice as Blanche) in WT's A Streetcar Named Desire directed by David Cromer. She then recreated the role of Eunice for the Williamstown Theatre Festival production. Jennifer is a proud ensemble member of A Red Orchid Theatre where she appeared as Celeste in Tennessee Williams' The Mutilated. Selected Orchid credits include Simpatico, Hot House, Eric LaRue, The Fastest Clock in the Universe and Fatboy. Other Chicago credits include Sweet Bird of Youth (Goodman Theatre, directed by David Cromer), The North Plan, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Sky Girls (Northlight Theatre, Jack Springer Award for best performance), The Incident and Are You Now... (Next Theatre Company, two Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best Ensemble). Regional credits include Angels in America (Kansas City Repertory Theatre, directed by David Cromer), Macbeth (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival) and Ground (2009 Humana Festival). Dividing her time between Chicago and New York City, Jennifer was seen Off-Broadway in a solo show she created, Excuse my Dust, A Dorothy Parker Portfolio.

Sean Fortunato (The Stage Manager) has previously appeared at Writers Theatre in The Diary of Anne Frank, Hedda Gabler, The Real Thing, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Travels with My Aunt, The Chosen, Incident at Vichy, A Phoenix Too Frequent, Richard II, Rough Crossing, and Spite for Spite. His other credits include Pericles, Cyrano De Bergerac, School For Lies, Sunday in the Park with George, Timon of Athens (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), René  Gallimard in M. Butterfly (Court Theatre), Measure for Measure (Goodman Theatre), Detective Cioffi in Curtains (Drury Lane Theatre) and work at TimeLine Theatre Company, Marriott Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, About Face Theatre, Intiman Theatre (WA), The Old Globe (CA), The Duke on 42nd (NY) and eleven seasons with Peninsula Players (WI), where he recently played Lady Enid, et al. in The Mystery of Irma Vep, and George in Sunday in the Park with George. His Film/TV credits include The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton and Chicago P.D. Sean has received four Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and an After Dark Award.

Marc Grapey (Willy Loman) previously appeared at Writers Theatre in Isaac's Eye and Picnic. His Chicago credits include Ask Aunt Susan, The Iceman Cometh, Race and the world premieres of Eric Bogosian’s Griller and Noah Haidle’s Vigils (Goodman Theatre); Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, The Chosen, Antigone, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Oblivion, The Birthday Party (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Normal Heart (TimeLine Theatre Company); I Sailed with Magellan, Class Dismissed, Equivocation, Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination—Victory Gardens Theater); Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Funny Girl (Drury Lane Theatre); The Metal Children (Next Theatre Company); Early and Often, The Homecoming and Hitting for the Cycle (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination—Famous Door Theatre Company). Regionally, he has appeared at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville and the HBO Comedy and Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. He made his Broadway debut in 2005 opposite Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the revival of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. Film credits include Warren, At Any Price, Superbad, Adventureland, Ali, While You Were Sleeping, A Piece of Eden and The Daytrippers. His television credits include The West Wing, Arrested Development, Two and a Half Men, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Chicago P.D. and most notably as publicist J.J. Mitchell on HBO’s Sex and the City. He also co-stars with Zach Galifianakis and Jon Hamm in the Fox 2000 film Keeping up with the Joneses.

John Hoogenakker (George through 7/17) has appeared at Writers in Port Authority, Travels with My Aunt, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead andThe Puppetmaster of Lodz. His Chicago credits include The Iceman Cometh (Goodman Theatre and BAM), Wait until Dark (Court Theatre), 100 Saints You Should Know (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), The Retreat from Moscow (Northlight Theatre), Othello (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Killer Joe (The Theatre at 2851 N. Halsted) and The Bomb-itty of Errors (Royal George Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater). His regional credits include Escape from Happiness (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), the title role in Hamlet (Illinois Shakespeare Festival) and Work Song: Three Views of Frank Lloyd Wright (Kansas City Repertory Theatre and Arizona Theatre Company). Selected film credits include Flags of Our Fathers (Warner Brothers), Public Enemies (Universal), A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (New Line) and At Any Price (Sony). Selected television credits include Chicago Fire (NBC), Empire (Fox), Boss (Starz) and The Girlfriend Experience (Starz). John has also appeared in many short films and commercials, and his voice-over work includes campaigns for McDonald's, BMO Harris Bank, OnStar and Comcast.

Michael Perez (Stanley Kowalski) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in The Liar. Chicago credits include Yasmina's Necklace (16th Street Theater), Funnyman (Northlight Theatre), Short Shakes! Macbeth (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), The Foreigner (Provision Theater) and three winters in Goodman Theatre's A Christmas Carol. He has done Shakespeare under the Stars with American Players Theatre, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Door Shakespeare and Riverside Theater. Michael is a proud Stakeholder in the Back Room Shakespeare Project.

Karen Janes Woditsch (Martha) has appeared at Writers Theatre in Doubt: A Parable, Do the Hustle, Yellow Moon, Heartbreak House, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Beats, Blake, Butley, Candida, The Doctor's Dilemma, Fallen Angels, In the Heart of Winter '93 - '96, Love & Lunacy, Othello (After Dark Award - Outstanding Performance), A Phoenix Too Frequent, A Play on Words, Rocket to the Moon, Seagull and Spite for Spite. Her Chicago credits include Domesticated (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Rapture, Blister Burn, A Christmas Carol, Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Goodman Theatre), M. Butterfly (Court Theatre), To Master the Art (TimeLine Theatre Company and Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, Joseph Jefferson Award nomination—Actress in a Principal Role); and work at Northlight Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater, among others. Her regional credits include eight seasons with Peninsula Players Theatre, and a summer with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. Her TV credits include Chicago P.D., Runner and Crisis. Her film credits include Bad Johnson and American Fable.

Over the past twenty-four seasons, Writers Theatre has become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence. Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has been deemed the “best drama company in the nation” by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of 35,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry. Prized for the finest interpretations of classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues, Writers Theatre’s acclaimed work includes Artistic Director Michael Halberstam’s world premiere in Glencoe and subsequent productions of A Minister’s Wife at Lincoln Center Theater and West Coast premiere at the San Jose Repertory Theatre; David Cromer’s productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Picnic; and the commissioning, world premiere and New York premiere of Crime and Punishment, which has received more than 30 subsequent regional theater productions.

Writers Theatre continues with the $34 million On to a New Stage Campaign, of which $33.2 million has been raised to date. The campaign establishes the company's first permanent home in a new theatre center in downtown Glencoe, designed by the award-winning, internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by Founding Design Principal Jeanne Gang, in collaboration with Theatre Consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. This allows the Theatre to continue to grow to accommodate its audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy. The new facility resonates with and complement the Theatre’s neighboring Glencoe community, adding tremendous value to Chicagoland and helping to establish the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.

Find Writers Theatre on Facebook at or follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter. For more information, visit

The season will continue with Company, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth, originally produced and directed on Broadway by Harold Prince, original orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. The Writers Theatre production will be directed by William Brown with musical direction by Tom Vendafreddo and choreography by Brock Clawson (Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre).