Sunday, July 17, 2016

REVIEW: “SQUEEZE MY CANS” at Greenhouse Theater's Solo Celebration


JULY 14 – JULY 24

Cathy Schenkelberg Takes Audiences Through the No-Holds-Barred Tale of Surviving Scientology

It was my great pleasure to catch opening night of Cathy Schenkelberg's Squeeze My Cans” last Thursday. She's a mom, actress, singer, writer, recovering Scientologist, and all around funny gal. This marks the 3rd show in Greenhouse Theater's excellent Solo Celebration series. 

One woman shows are challenging and intense to write and perform and Schenkelberg pulls it off with humor, grace and style. This piece is particularly compelling, because it's even harder for someone to admit she's been conned, and speak of the vulnerability of losing her religion, a small fortune, and a support network of folks she thought were trustworthy, long term friends. 

Cathy's brave and crazy enough to share her journey with us in this excellent production. Her downward spiral into the financial, and mental toll of an obsession with Scientology reminded me of a gambling addiction or a high stakes, real world claw game. The more time, money and energy she invested, the more she had to stay in the Scientology game, hoping for rewards and spiritual pay outs. We highly recommend Squeeze My Cans,” as a must see, cautionary tale, and a highly entertaining and enlightening adult night out.

Tickets are affordable and the talent is terrific. Squeeze My Cans,” is a short 10 show run, so don't miss this. Check back early and often for the scoop on the coolest theatre, arts and entertainment and more in Chi, IL and beyond. 

The Greenhouse Theater’s “Solo Celebration!” continues with “Squeeze My Cans,” a limited engagement autobiographical solo-play written and performed by Cathy Schenkelberg and directed by Shirley Anderson. Making its Chicago premiere, Schenkelberg shares a glimpse behind the velvet curtain of Scientology in this strangely hilarious and unbelievable story of resilience, loss, and extraterrestrials. “Squeeze My Cans” runs July 14 – July 24 at The Greenhouse Theater Center (2257 N Lincoln Avenue); the press performance is July 14 at 7:30 p.m.

“Cathy’s brave journey through Scientology is at once humorous and shocking, detailing her nearly 20-year experience with America’s foremost intergalactic faith. Through Cathy’s lens, audiences are offered a rare glimpse into this secretive religion, re-living her account of coming into and getting out of the Church of Scientology,” said Artistic Director of the Greenhouse Theater Center, Jacob Harvey. “Together with Shirley and their entire team, Cathy has crafted an intimate story of survival and the power of perseverance, refusing to stay silent.”

“Squeeze My Cans” asks audiences: What do you do if the “carrot of spiritual freedom” was dangled in front of you, waiting to be seized? In this cautionary tale, we learn what chasing the “carrot” got Cathy Shenkelberg, and how after studying and searching to become “more herself,” she could be found blowing alien life forms off her body farther than ever from the person who she had hoped to be.

”Squeeze My Cans” received its first developmental workshop production at Lifeline’s Filet of Solo Festival.

Performance Schedule: 
Thursday, July 14 at 7 p.m.; Friday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 16 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, July 21 and Friday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 23 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, July 24 at 2 p.m. For tickets and additional information, click here.

Flex passes to the Solo Celebration! series, which offers admissions to three plays for $99 or five plays for $164, are now on sale.  Single tickets, which range in price from $34 – 48 are also on sale.  Flex passes and tickets can be purchased by contacting the box office at 773-404-7336 or by visiting

Cathy Schenkelberg (Performer/Playwright) is a Nebraska native and Chicago/LA-based actress, singer, and voiceover talent. Early on in Chicago, she has been seen in productions such as "Jacque Brel," "Working," "Little Shop of Horrors,” "Noises Off" and "Moms the Word." Schenkelberg also played Chrissy in the National tour of “Hair” and Pepper the Clown on WGN’s “Bozo Show.” She has worked as a dancer/singer at clubs and cruise ships - even impersonating Dolly Parton, Madonna and Marilyn Monroe (all at the same time). In her recent return to the stage, she had the good fortune to play Madame Thenardier in “Les Misérables,” Violet, Zuzu and Ma Hatch in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and Sue Ellen in “Honky Tonk Angels” at Sierra Repertory Theatre in Sonora CA, as well as Veronica in “God of Carnage” at American Stage in St. Petersberg, Fl. But it has been her work in spoken-word at such venues as Write Club LA, Spark off Rose, and Louder than a Mom where “Squeeze My Cans” was conceived.

Shirley Anderson (Director) is a Northwestern alum who spent the 90s in Chicago, adapting, producing and performing a solo adaptation of Dorothy Parker’s short story “Big Blonde,” at the Red Lion Pub, then in jazz clubs, colleges and theaters in Chicago, Edinburgh and Los Angeles.  Anderson has written and performed as a solo performer ever since in Chicago and Los Angeles.  In 1993, Anderson collaborated with Molly McNett on “Sculpture in Vitro: Growing Up Female in the Age of Liposuction” at Live Bait Theater after premiering the work in cooperation with Lookingglass Theatre and before touring the show to high schools and colleges. She has collaborated with Lookingglass Theatre Company, Plasticene and Studio 108 in Chicago and Sacred Fools, Theater Movement Bazaar, Zoo District, Son of Semele and Theater of NOTE in Los Angeles, where she currently lives and directs business operations for Blum & Poe art gallery. 

About Solo Celebration!
“Squeeze My Cans” is one of 12 plays featured in Greenhouse’s “Solo Celebration!,” which will include ten full productions and two limited engagements running June 2016 through February 2017. Among the other directors connected to solo series are Goodman Theatre Producer and Artistic Collective Member Steve Scott, Writer’s Theatre Resident Director Kimberly Senior, Directors Lab Chicago Artistic Director Elizabeth Margolius and Remy Bumppo Artistic Associate Linda Gillum. Some of the performers confirmed to star in solo works include Jeff Award-winner Kate Buddeke, acclaimed British actor Simon Slater, Karen Rodriguez and Carin Silkaitis.  Most productions will be produced in their entirety by Greenhouse, while other plays will be stated with co-producers including Sideshow Theatre Company and The Other Theatre Company.  Greenhouse’s “Solo Celebration!” is co-produced by Forum Productions and underwritten by the Wendy and William Spatz Charitable Foundation.

About the Greenhouse Theater Center
The Greenhouse Theater Center is a nonprofit performance venue located at 2257 N Lincoln Ave, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Our complex offers two newly remodeled 190-seat main stage spaces, two 60-seat studio theaters, an in-house rehearsal room, and Chicago’s only dedicated used theatre book store.

Our mission at the Greenhouse is first and foremost to grow local theatre. We strive to cultivate a fertile environment for local artists, from individual renters to our bevy of resident companies, to develop and produce their work. In 2014 alone, The Greenhouse Theater Center provided space for almost 1,000 ticketed performances, serving more than 54,000 patrons. Among these events, were at least 30 productions by our resident companies, including the celebrated American Blues Theater and Remy Bumpo Theatre Company. Through our Trellis Program, we offer the community affordable access to our work by housing Chicago’s only dedicated used theatre bookstore, located on the second floor of our complex, as well as offering a free reading series each Tuesday night where local artists workshop their latest scripts. Additionally, we also continue to play an active role in cultivating and nurturing our community through continued partnerships with the League of Chicago Theaters and local Chambers of Commerce.

As of 2016, the Greenhouse Theater Center embraced the true spirit of growth and launched its producing entity. With the announcement of our 8 month long Solo Celebration Series, helmed by Artistic Director Jacob Harvey, we will produce 10 solo plays from June 2016 to February 2017. Through this inaugural effort, we hope to expand the solo play cannon while also cultivating a larger conversation about the possibilities of the one-person play.

With new ideas always incubating, the Greenhouse Theater Center is flourishing. Come grow with us!

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