Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Big Congrats To All Nominees For The Sixth Annual ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL THEATRE AWARDS Happening Monday June 5th


Broadway In Chicago is pleased to announce the twenty-four students nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress, and nominees for Best Production, Best Direction and the Grosh Award for Best Scenic Design for the sixth annual Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards. The nominees (12 young actors and 12 young actresses), selected after evaluating 74 productions across the state of Illinois, have been invited to participate in the Awards program, which will be held at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E. Chestnut) on Monday, June 5, 2017 at 6:00 PM. Sponsored by Disney’s Aladdin and Grosh Backdrops & Drapery, the Illinois chapter of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards serves as an annual national celebration of outstanding achievement in musical theater performance by high school students.

Broadway In Chicago has crafted a workshop with theatre professionals, featuring Adam Jacobs, star of Disney’s Aladdin North American tour, who originated the title role in Aladdin on Broadway, along with his wife Kelly Jacobs, who previously performed in Chicago in the Mary Poppins North American tour.  The workshop for these twenty-four nominees will culminate in a performance on stage at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.  During the day, nominees will audition for a panel of casting agents and theatre professionals who will choose the recipients of performance awards. A Best Actress and Best Actor winner from Illinois will be sent to New York City, on an all-expense paid trip, for a week-long theatre intensive of coaching and rehearsals with industry professionals in preparation for a one-night-only showcase on Broadway, where a panel of judges crowns the nation’s top performers.

In addition to the workshop, nominees will receive tickets to Disney’s Aladdin in Chicago, currently playing at Broadway In Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre through Sept. 10, 2017.

An award for Best Direction will be presented to a director(s) from a participating school, an award for Best Production will be presented to a participating school, and the Grosh Award for Best Scenic Design will be presented to a participating school for achievement in outstanding scenic design.

For more information on both awards and complete rules and regulations, visit For more information on National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as The Jimmy Awards, visit

Benet Academy’s production of All Shook Up
Carl Sandburg High School’s production of Jekyll and Hyde
Cary Grove High School’s production of Evita
Libertyville High School’s production of In the Heights
York Community High School’s production of West Side Story

Cary- Grove High School’s production of Evita
Coal City High School’s production of The Little Mermaid
Hinsdale South High School’s production of Hairspray
Lake Forest High School’s production of Urinetown
Libertyville High School’s production of In the Heights

Cynthia Burrows, Adlai E. Stevenson High School- Big Fish
Lauren Condon & Brian Wand, Benet Academy- All Shook Up
Rob Boncosky, Cary-Grove High School- Evita
Andy Robinson, Chicago Academy For the Performing Arts – A Little Night Music
Kelly MacBlane & John Wanninger, Lake Forest High School- Urinetown

The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA) impacts more than 50,000 students who participate in high school musical theatre competitions sponsored by presenters of Touring Broadway productions throughout the United States.  A Best Actress and Best Actor winner from each of these competitions is sent to New York for a week-long theatre intensive of coaching and rehearsals with industry professionals in preparation for a one-night-only showcase on Broadway, where a panel of judges crowns the nation’s top performers. Named for Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander, the program has been the catalyst for more than $1,000,000 in educational scholarships.

In 2012, the program inspired preeminent broadcaster WGBH Boston to produce a 3-part documentary series called “Broadway or Bust,” which follows students on a journey from their hometown competitions to their debut on Broadway. The series remains popular viewing at Presented by The Broadway League Foundation, the ninth annual Jimmy® Awards will take place on Monday, June 26, 2017 at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. Coaching and rehearsals for this one-of-a-kind event will be held Monday, June 19, 2017 through Monday, June 26, 2017 in New York City. For more information, please visit

Disney’s Aladdin
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, Disney’s Aladdin features music by Tony Award and eight-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Sister Act), lyrics by two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony Award and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida) and four-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Something Rotten!).  

Aladdin, adapted from the Academy Award®-winning animated Disney film and centuries-old folktales including “One Thousand and One Nights,” is brought to fresh theatrical life in this bold new musical.  Aladdin’s journey sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance.  This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage.

Tickets for Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theatre are on sale now.  In Chicago, 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  A select number of Premium Ticket Packages, which include a prime seat location, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available for many performances. Group tickets for 15 or more are available by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. For a complete performance schedule for Aladdin, please visit

Grosh Backdrops & Drapery supplies schools and theaters with an extensive selection of backdrops and drapery at the most competitive pricing.  A choice of sizes and beautiful scenes help you enhance any production. Two warehouse locations reduce shipping times and cost.  Visit us online to view our entire inventory of 5,000 products in 75 unique categories, check pricing and availability, and to reserve your order today at

Broadway In Chicago was created in July 2000 and over the past 16 years has grown to be one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country.  A Nederlander Presentation, Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining well up to 1.7 million people annually in five theatres.  Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop including The PrivateBank Theatre, Oriental Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, and just off the Magnificent Mile, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place and presenting Broadway shows at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.

For more information, visit
Facebook @BroadwayInChicago ● Twitter @broadwaychicago ● Instagram @broadwayinchicago ● #broadwayinchicago

REVIEW & TICKET DISCOUNT: $35 SPAMILTON Ticket Special at Chicago's Royal George Theatre

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


Additional Tickets Now On-Sale for Performances Throughout Summer

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List:

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows we highly recommend Spamilton. This show is more of an irreverent roast of Lin-Manuel Miranda and the whole Broadway musicals genre than a parody of Hamilton in particular, though it does include brilliantly funny lyric rewrites of Hamilton tunes. Both of my teens adored it as much as I did, and we all laughed early and often throughout the show. It's fabulously funny and exceeded all our expectations.

If you're looking for something to entertain the tough to please teen demographic, Spamilton is a good bet. This is also a fun find for a date night or multigenerational entertainment. If you're searching for a show as funny to the kids as it is to the grandparents, Spamilton is nearly 90 minutes of non stop fun. They keep the sets and costumes minimalist and two of the sisters are puppets, but the over the top creative writing, fabulous vocals, and heartfelt hilarity is more than worth the admission. There's not a bad seat in the place, as the Royal George cabaret space is intimate. There's also a convenient bar, right at the back of the seating. 

This wickedly witty and wonderful production is an absolute must see for anyone familiar with Hamilton and/or Broadway musicals. Don't miss this!

The producers of “Spamilton,” the critically acclaimed parody of “Hamilton,” announced that select tickets to the Chicago production are available for Tuesday and Wednesday evening performances for $35.  The critically hailed production is now playing in an open-ended run at the Royal George Theatre (1641 N. Halsted).

Created by Tony Award honoree Gerard Alessandrini, the mastermind behind “Forbidden Broadway,” “Spamilton” officially opened in Chicago on March 12 to rave reviews, with Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times calling “Spamilton” an “altogether brilliant, hilarious, cliché-demolishing send-up of ‘Hamilton,’” Chris Jones of Chicago Tribune noting “You really don’t want to miss ‘Spamilton,’” and Barbara Vitello of the Daily Herald exclaiming the show is “deliciously silly. The laughs come fast and furious!” The all-Chicago “Broadway ready” (Chicago Sun-Times) cast includes Donterrio Johnson, Adam LaSalle, Michelle Lauto, Eric Andrew Lewis, Yando Lopez and David Robbins, as well as Sydney Charles and Brandon Kinley. Tickets can be purchased at the Royal George Theatre’s box office online, at or by calling 312.988.9000.  

“Spamilton,” which was initially scheduled in New York as an exclusive 18-performance off-Broadway engagement, has extended three times and is now playing its twelfth smash month of an open engagement, transferring this week to a larger venue, the 47th Street Theatre in the heart of New York’s Theatre District. The New York production earned rave reviews across-the-board, with Ben Brantley of The New York Times calling it “smart, silly and convulsively funny!” and Lin-Manuel Miranda exclaiming “I laughed my brains out!” In its Chicago premiere, the local cast received additional acclaim, with critics hailing the production “endlessly entertaining” (Performink), “A Must-See!” (, and “razor sharp and filled with wit and humor” (Chicago Theatre Review). On Opening Night, cast members from the Chicago production of “Hamilton” were in the audience, and following the performance, Wayne Brady called the production “Amazing! It’s the perfect blend of funny and parody. Go see ‘Spamilton!”

In addition to Alessandrini, the creative team includes Gerry McIntyre (Choreography), Dustin Cross (Costume Design), Milo Blue (Scenic Design), Andy Kloubec (Lighting Design), Matt Reich (Sound Design), Jamie Karas (Prop Design), Leah Munsey-Konops (Wig Design), Fred Barton (Musical Director), and Richard Danley and Fred Barton (Musical Arrangements).

“Spamilton” is produced in Chicago by John Freedson, David Zippel, Gerard Alessandrini, Margaret Cotter and Liberty Theatricals, in association with JAM Theatricals. 

The performance schedule for “Spamilton” is as follows: Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.  Beginning July 9, the Sunday performance times will be at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. There will be an additional performance on July 3, and no performance on July 4. For additional details, visit or  For more information, visit

This Weekend and Next: 1st Annual Story Arc Sketch Comedy Festival at Stage 773 June 1 – 10, 2017

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Vienna Juvenile to Produce

1st Annual Story Arc Sketch 
Comedy Festival

at Stage 773
June 1 – 10, 2017

After three and a half years of producing sketch comedy in Chicago and across the country,Vienna Juvenile is proud to announce the launch of their innovative, groundbreaking new comedy event, the Story Arc Sketch Comedy Festival—a two-week long sketch comedy festival combining the worlds of sketch and theater to form a new wave of storytelling. The festival will take place from June 1 - 10 in the Box Theater at Stage 773 (1225 W Belmont Ave, Chicago), and will feature performances by Chicago comedy ensembles Vienna Juvenile, OPIE, Spooky Dookie,Handsome, and Marc Ranucci’s innovative new show, Hot Reads. Tickets are available at or by calling (773) 327-5252. Chicago-based real estate firm, Spaces Real Estate, will serve as the festival’s presenting sponsor.

In addition to performing, Vienna Juvenile co-founders and ensemble members Layne Dixon, Hank Greene, and Anthony Smith will serve as Co-Artistic Directors and producers for the festival, which will highlight new forms of Chicago sketch comedy—blending high level theatricality, polish, and storytelling with humor and commentary from some of the comedy scene’s most exciting up and coming talent.

“We’re thrilled to be announcing the Story Arc Sketch Comedy Festival’s debut run,” says Greene. “To have such a talented lineup of artists pushing the boundaries of sketch comedy is truly a dream for us as producers, and audiences will be floored at what they’re going to see. It’s a group of sketch comedians that I think are truly going to start taking this city by storm.”

The concept for the festival arose when Dixon, Greene, and Smith began seeing a new wave of independent comedians committing themselves to a more theatrically-inspired sketch comedy style. The trio felt, however, that there was no place presenting it under one roof.

“One of the things that makes Chicago such an amazing place to perform comedy is that there are so many stages filled with people doing incredible work—it allows for innovation to happen simultaneously across different groups and professional circles,” says Dixon. “We wanted to take what we were already seeing and put it in one place to encourage more artistic growth.” 

“There’s plenty of that already happening in the improv world,” adds Smith. “But it’s much harder to find it among independent sketch performers regularly.”

Though there are many festivals across the country showcasing upstart sketch comedy groups, Vienna Juvenile is the first to challenge each group to create written material surrounding a single, open-ended prompt: use sketch comedy to tell a story.This will allow audiences to see how five different comedy groups, each with their own style and humor, interpret a single idea.

Dixon, Greene, and Smith strive to ultimately create a community of independent sketch performers that can be difficult to find outside of major all-city events like Chicago Sketchfest. In this way, the festival’s producers hope to create a more focused artistic vision for the festival, as well as to inspire knowledge sharing amongst its performers.

For more information on Story Arc Sketch Comedy Festival and the groups involved, visit, or check out the festival’s Facebook or Twitter accounts.


First Weekend:

Thursday, June 1 – 8:00pm: Handsome

Friday, June 2 – 8:00pm: Spooky Dookie

Friday, June 2 – 10:00pm: OPIE

Saturday, June 3 – 8:00pm: Vienna Juvenile

Saturday, June 3 – 10:00pm: Hot Reads

Second Weekend:

Thursday, June 8 – 8:00pm: Handsome

Friday, June 9 – 8:00pm: Spooky Dookie

Friday, June 9 – 10:00pm: OPIE

Saturday, June 10 – 8:00pm: Vienna Juvenile

Saturday, June 10 – 10:00pm: Hot Reads

The Story Arc Sketch Comedy Festival is a two-week long sketch comedy festival combining the worlds of sketch and theater to form a new wave of storytelling. Artists will push the boundaries of sketch comedy past what was previously thought theatrically possible to create fully-formed, emotionally resonant pieces of theater unlike anything seen before in Chicago's independent comedy community. The festival will explore the wide range of sketch comedy to establish sketch not just as a comedic medium, but as a contemporary theatrical art form, and through effective artistic collaboration it will create a home and a community for this new art form amongst the festival's participants and audience members.

Vienna Juvenile has been performing their unique and wholly original brand of sketch comedy on stages across the country for the past three and a half years. Their revues as an ensemble include Who Do I Give This Money To, Journey Into Hindsight, Orbit, The Adventures of Reginald Sampson (and the consequence of bliss) and All the Hits You've Never Heard Of. Heralded as “a little wacky, a little absurdist, a little sincere” (The Sketch Review) and “excellent and heartfelt” (Chicago Reader), they have performed at Chicago Sketchfest, the legendary iO Theater, have been featured on The Paper Machete and Second Wind Collective podcasts, and as headliners at the Indiana University Campus Comedy Festival.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

June Lineup For Neo-Futurists Includes Steppenwolf LookOut, Gay Pride Shows, and Neo-Lab

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


Ready to Chill in Chi, IL this summer (literally) with a new A/C system 
and some of the coolest shows in town? 
Come on out to The Neo-Futurarium at Foster and Ashland!

I've been a big fan of the NeoFuturists since I first moved to Chicago's Uptown neighborhood in 1990, where I was walking distance to The Live Bait Theatre, and was a regular at their weekly shows. I'm also elated to see that they've chosen to support Chicago's excellent LGBTQ Youth Empowerment Performance Project with a Special Benefit Performance for pride month! We caught Youth Empowerment Project's latest show in March and were blown away by the stunning talent and raw honesty of this original production by homeless youth.

Photo from this year’s recipient of The Neo-Futurists’ Pride Benefit Performance YEPP (Youth Empowerment Performance Project) - (L to R) Henri Slater, Zizi Phillips, Ka'Riel Gaiter, Lola Monroe, and Ahniyha Johnson  (Photo by Sarah-Ji Rhee)

June offerings from the Neos includes: 

Kirsten Riiber's Neo-Lab production Tangles and Plaques, Thursday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m. 

The Infinite Wrench at Steppenwolf’s Summer LookOut Series, Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3 at 7 p.m.

The Infinite Wrench presents 30 Queer Plays in 60 Straight Minutes and announces YEPP (Youth Empowerment Performance Project) as beneficiary for their benefit performance

Special Benefit Performance for Youth Empowerment Performance Project: Thursday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Additional Pride-Themed Performances: Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24 at 11:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 25 at 7 p.m.

The Neo-Futurists are proud to announce, in addition to a new HVAC system at The Neo-Futurarium, a special pre-season showing of Ensemble Member Kirsten Riiber's Neo-Lab production Tangles and Plaques, Thursday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m. In addition, June offers presentations of the ongoing The Infinite Wrench at Steppenwolf’s Summer LookOut Series, Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3 at 7 p.m. andduring Pride Week, June 22 - 25. All performances are at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. (at Foster) in Andersonville, unless otherwise noted.

NeoFuturistsTangles2  - (L to R) Kirsten Riiber and Jan de Goede​ in Tangles and Plaques 
(Photo by Will Sonheim)

NEO-LAB Presents: Tangles & Plaques – The Final Workshop Presentation
Created by Kirsten Riiber
Directed by Jen Ellison
The Final Workshop Presentation
Thursday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m.
The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave.
Tickets: $8

Tangles & Plaques attempts to demystify the experience of dementia in the language of theatre— offering a vivid, poignant, participatory experience that is unique to each audience and different every performance. Ensemble Member Kirsten Riiber and Memory Care Therapist Alex Schwaninger discuss and demonstrate the process of memory loss through interviews and personal narrative about the life and death of memories; how they persist, when they depart and the ways they distort over time. Neo-Lab is an original works residency that annually commissions one new play anchored by innovative approaches to creation and shares public readings and presentations of the work in progress. Tangles & Plagues is directed by Jen Ellison and features Kaitlyn Andrews, Ida Cuttler, Justin Deming, Mike Hamilton, Nick Hart and Kirsten Riiber and a reception, with libations from Metropolitan Brewery, before and after the performance.


The Infinite Wrench
Open Run – Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave.
At-the-door cash tickets are $9 plus the roll of a six-sided die; online pre-sales are available for $20 with a cash rollback at or 773.275.5255. 

The Infinite Wrench, The Neo-Futurists’ open run production, is a mechanism that unleashes a barrage of two-minute plays for a live audience. Each play offers something different—some are funny, others profound. Some are elegant, disgusting, topical, irrelevant, terrifying, or put to song. All of the plays are truthful and tackle the here-and-now, inspired by the lived experiences of the performers. The Infinite Wrench is The Neo-Futurists’ ongoing and ever-changing show, performed late-night every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 50 weeks of the year, with special performances: 

NeoFuturistsNeoAccess3 - Al Raci, with Neo-Futurists Ensemble in Background at The Infinite Wrench Access Performance (photo by Will Sonheim)

Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series presents The Infinite Wrench
Accessible Performances Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3 at 7 p.m.
Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N Halsted St.
Accessible Performances Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $15 - available at and 312-335-1650.

Tickets are now on sale for The Neo-Futurists two performances of The Infinite Wrench featuring accessible services for people with disabilities. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, the performance Friday, June 2 at 7 p.m. features Open Captioning and ASL interpretation; for people who are blind or have low vision, the performance Saturday, June 3 at 7 p.m. features Audio Description and a pre-performance Touch Tour at 5:30 p.m. The cast features Neo-Futurist ensemble members Dan Kerr-Hobert, Lily Mooney, Kurt Chiang, and Jeewon Kim as well as Neo-Futurist alums John Pierson and Lisa Buscani.

The 1700 Theatre is wheelchair accessible and is equipped with an induction hearing loop for people who use personal hearing devices that have a T-coil. Front Bar, directly in front of the 1700 Theatre, has a push-button entrance, wheelchair accessible seating and multi-stall all-gender restrooms.

NeoFuturistsPride4 - Crowd Shot Taken at The Neo-Futurists' Pride Performances
(Photo by Evan Hanover)

The Infinite Wrench presents 30 Queer Plays in 60 Straight Minutes Announces YEPP as Beneficiary

Special Benefit Performance for Youth Empowerment Performance Project: Thursday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25 with no cash rollback

Additional Pride-Themed Performances: Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24 at 11:30 p.m.
and Sunday, June 25 at 7 p.m.
At-the-door cash tickets are $9 plus the roll of a six-sided die; online pre-sales are available for $20 with a cash rollback at or 773.275.5255
The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave.

The Neo-Futurists present their annual Pride Weekend benefit: 30 Queer Plays in 60 Straight Minutes, a special edition of The Infinite Wrench that corrals the queerest plays into one show, slaying gender roles and celebrating deviance. The cast features Neo-Futurist ensemble members Trevor Dawkins, Jeewon Kim, Ida Cuttler, Tif Harrison, Lily Mooney, Kirsten Riiber, Malic White and Neo-Alum John Pierson.

All proceeds of the Thursday, June 22 performance will be donated to YEPP (the Youth Empowerment Performance Project), whose mission is to create a safe environment for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness to address their struggles and celebrate their strengths through the process of developing a theatrical performance piece.  Executive and Artistic Director Bonsai Bermudez states, “YEPP is honored by The Neo-Futurists and their support of the mission of YEPP and our providing services for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness during this year’s Pride season.”

The Neo-Futurists are a collective of writer-director-performers creating theater that is fusion of sport, poetry and living-newspaper. Originating nearly 10,000 plays within the newly launched The Infinite Wrench, 28 years of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, and over 65 full-length productions within their immediate, non-illusory aesthetic, The Neo-Futurists have grown to become one of the most highly regarded experimental theater companies in the United States. From humble beginnings as the first late-night theater production in Chicago, they launched what became Chicago’s longest running show and today sustain multifaceted programs such as Neo-Access, The Kitchen (a micro-festival on art and performance), Prime Time, Neo-Lab and The Infinite Wrench, the ongoing late night show running 50 weekends every year. For more information visit

The Neo-Futurists are partially supported by grants from Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Network for Ensemble Theaters, The Illinois Arts Council Agency, The Chicago Community Foundation, a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, The Field Foundation of Illinois, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

LAST CALL: Magical Mercury Mary Poppins Ending This Weekend

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

**Ages 6+. Run time 2 hours w/ 15min intermission**

Review: Magical Mercury Poppins Pops With Charismatic Charm

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows we've long been fans of Mercury Theater's large scale musicals in an intimate 290 seat setting. Poppins is no exception. We caught the Broadway touring extravaganza a few years back, and I have to say, Mercury Theatre's production is more personable. Jeff Award winner, Matthew Crowle (Bert), absolutely stole the show. And this production has now been Jeff nominated as well!

Nicole Armold (Mary Poppins) did a fabulous job of making the iconic role her own. We were also quite impressed with the children as well! This high energy cast puts on a crowd pleasing production. Don't miss this.

We also had a blast at the opening night cast party, the first event ever held in the newly renovated space next door. The newly christened "Venus" (next to Mercury, ya know) is out of this world! 

(photo by Sarah Dennis)

Last chance to see Mary Poppins is Sunday, May 28th at 1pm and 6pm. Don't miss this!

Memorial Day Weekend
Looking for a fun activity the whole family will love? 
Bring everyone down to Mercury Theater Chicago for Memorial Day weekend and spend a “Jolly Holiday” with Mary and an irresistible cast of characters. 
Join us in the lobby on Sunday, May 28th at 3:30pm for a Meet & Greet with our very own Mary Poppins! 

Meet Mary Poppins:
Sunday, May 28th @ 3:30pm

Disney’s MARY POPPINS is a Supercalifragilistic musical combining the best of the original stories by P. L. Travers and the beloved Walt Disney film. The Tony Award-winning MARY POPPINS is everything you'd hope for in a Broadway musical—and like nothing you'd ever expect. Get swept up in tunes like ‘Spoonful of Sugar,’ ‘Feed the Birds’ and of course ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’ as young Jane and Michael learn life lessons from their unconventional nanny and the lovable jack-of-all-trades Bert. So, bring the whole family and spend a ‘Jolly Holiday’ with Mary and an irresistible cast of characters.

Winner of 44 theatre awards around the globe, MARY POPPINS has captivated audiences for generations with its enchanting story, unforgettable songs and dazzling dance numbers. Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the classic Walt Disney film, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's MARY POPPINS has delighted Broadway audiences for over 2,500 performances and received nominations for nine Olivier and seven Tony Awards including Best Musical.

It takes a lot of imagination and creativity to bring the magical world of Mary Poppins to life.  After bringing mystery to The Addams Family, Neil Tobin is returning to Mercury Theater Chicago as Magic Designer. He is the creator of the solo show, “Supernatural Chicago”, which ran for 10 years of weekly performances at Castle nightclub. Russ Walko is also returning to Mercury Theater Chicago after building the beautiful Jeff nominated puppets of Avenue Q in 2014. Walko has built and performed puppets on the television shows “Community” and “The Simpsons.” His puppets were featured in the Broadway production of The Pee-Wee Herman Show Live, and is no stranger to Chicago theater, having created puppets for multiple StarKids Productions.

MARY POPPINS was written by Julian Fellows (creator of Downton Abbey), with music and lyrics by Disney Legends Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, with new songs and additional music and lyrics by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles.

After an exhaustive search and casting process, Mercury Theater Chicago is pleased to introduce a bright new talent to Chicago; Nicole Armold as Mary Poppins. Joining her is Jeff Award winner and Broadway talent Matthew Crowle as Bert. Rounding out the cast for this magical adventure will be Kayla Boye, Pearle Bramlett, Timothy Eidman, Dan Gold, Cory Goodrich, Sage Harper, Graham Hawley, Casey Lyons, Ashley Lanyon, Conor McGarry, Kevin McKillip, Leah Morrow, Peyton Owen, Erin Parker, Cameron Turner and Holly Stauder. The scenic design is by Adam Veness with costume design by Rachel Boylan, lighting design by Nick Belley and sound design by Mike Ross. The production stage manager is Kristi J. Martens with assistance by Jeri Fredrickson.

The beautifully renovated Mercury Theater Chicago is an intimate jewel box of a theater in the heart of the Southport Corridor, a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from Wrigley Field. A delightful theater destination, Mercury Theater Chicago takes care of its guests from the moment they arrive with valet service and dining at its adjoining restaurant, Grassroots.

The performance schedule for MARY POPPINS is Wednesdays at 7:30pm, Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 7:30pm and Sundays at 1pm and 6pm. Thursday matinees at 3pm are available from April 20 - May 28.

Individual tickets range from $30-$65, and are available online at, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

SEASON ANNOUNCED: 2017-18 Chicago Children's Theatre Season to Include 3 World Premieres and 2 Past Favorites



A Year with Frog and Toad and Beatrix Potter are back with new takes, 
plus three world premieres: 

Gloria Bond Clunie's My Beautiful Birthday Suit!, 
An Epic Tale of Scale by Henry Wishcamper and Jo Cattell, 
and the musical Last Stop on Market Street, in a co-commission with Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, based on the book by Matt de la Peña, adapted by Cheryl L. West, directed by Henry Godinez, 
with music by Lamont and Paris Ray Dozier 

Chicago Children's Theatre, the largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to families in Chicago, has announced its 2017-18 season. 

The company's five-show line-up boasts three world premieres, a focus on wildly unique theatrical experiences to share with the whole family and perhaps most exciting, one convenient location with onsite parking!

Now settled in its new home, Chicago Children's Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine St. in Chicago's West Loop, the company is happily shedding its former itinerant status and looks forward to presenting all of its family-friendly performances, classes and camps in the same location starting next fall.

CCT's twelfth season opens in The Station's new, 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre with a celebration of the joyful energy that launched the company, a new take on the smash hit A Year with Frog and Toad. Children's author and illustrator Arnold Lobel's beloved characters hop from the page to the stage in this Tony-nominated musical based on his popular children's book that follows two best friends - the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad - through four fun-filled seasons, telling the story of friendship that endures, weathering all seasons. A Year with Frog and Toad will be directed and choreographed by Stuart Carden. Andra Velis Simon is music director. Book and lyrics are by Willie Reale. Music by Robert Reale. Performances are September 19-November 5. A Year with Frog and Toad is an all ages show.

Next, children of all ages are cordially invited to enjoy a spot of tea or hot cocoa with CCT's friends from the English Lake District at the Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party. Spend the day with Peter Rabbit, Mr. Jeremy Fisher and Simpkin the cat as they delight audiences in this interactive trunk and puppet show. Enjoy an elegant tea party, create your own puppets and mini-puppet show and pose for photographs with the cast. This installment of CCT's Potter series is directed by Will Bishop and designed by Grace Needlman. Performances are December 2-17. Recommended for ages 2 to 6.

After the new year, at a magical birthday party, in a room overflowing with beautifully wrapped presents, three children explore their friendship in My Wonderful Birthday Suit!, a world premiere written and directed by Gloria Bond Clunie. When hurtful words about skin color slip out, best friends discover how to appreciate outer beauty while learning to seek the remarkable gifts inside each of us. Music, surprise and the wisdom of the splendiferous Thinking Tree make My Wonderful Birthday Suit! a very special celebration, complete with hands-on pre and post show experiences to explore outward appearances and inside gifts. Performances are January 16-February 18. For ages 4 to 7.

In the spring, The Station itself transforms into an all-immersive, two-story theatrical environment, totally unique to Chicagoland, titled An Epic Tale of Scale, written and directed by Henry Wishcamper and Jo Cattell, collaboratively designed by CCT Community Programs Artistic Director Frank Maugeri, with original music by Gabriel Ruiz. Think The Magic School Bus meets Sleep No More, and you're close for an encounter that surely defies description. Incorporating original music, science experiments, games, arts and craft projects and more, kids and adults alike embark on this world premiere, interactive theatrical experience spanning two levels of The Station. Kids will explore the wonders and mysteries of scale while journeying deep inside the human body and out to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Performances are March 10-April 8. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Talk about a finale! Chicago Children's Theatre, in a co-commission with Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, will debut Last Stop on Market Street, a world premiere musical based on the award-winning book by author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson, winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal, a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book and a 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. Acclaimed playwright Cheryl L. West is creating this first-ever stage adaptation of one of the most celebrated children's books ever. Kids (and parents) love Peña's tale about a city kid named CJ and his wise, loving grandmother who teaches him to find beauty in the routine and the mundane. Speaking of mundane, the music will be anything but, as CCT is welcoming Motown music legend Lamont Dozier and his son, Paris Ray Dozier, the duo behind the music in CCT's 2015 smash hit Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, back to Chicago to create the show's original score. Henry Godinez directs. Andra Velis Simon is music director. Last Stop on Market Street will receive a developmental reading this summer at the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University. The production will premiere April 24-June 3 at Chicago Children's Theatre, The Station. This show is recommended for ages 6 and up.

"Our 2017-18 season promises to be our most adventurous season yet, and we couldn't be more thrilled that everything's happening at our beautiful new home, The Station," said Jacqueline Russell, Artistic Director, Chicago Children's Theatre. "Children, parents, teachers and students can look forward to an exciting season of unique and interactive theatrical experiences as we reaffirm our commitment to giving Chicago the very best in family entertainment."

A wide variety of Chicago Children's Theatre 2017-18 multi-show Subscription Packages are on sale now at Younger Audience Packages, recommended for ages 2 to 6, include A Year with Frog and Toad, The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party and My Wonderful Birthday Suit!  Older Audience Packages, recommended for ages 6 and up, include A Year with Frog and Toad, An Epic Tale of Scale and Last Stop on Market Street.

Book early and save with Early Bird Packages, available through June 19 for only $55. That's up to 60% off single ticket prices. After June 19, package prices will increase to $75 and in August to $100. Benefits of subscription packages include flexible ticketing exchange, a 10% discount and no processing fees on additional tickets and discounts on CCT classes and camps. Single tickets to CCT productions will range from $33 to $45, and will go on sale in August. To subscribe, visit or call (872) 222-9555.  

CCT also offers deeply discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting groups. CPS schools may be eligible for financial assistance. Email or call (872) 222-9555 to learn more.

Focus on inclusion: Chicago Children's Theatre's  Red Kite Treasure Adventure and year-round Access Services

In addition to its 2017-18 five-show line-up, Chicago Children's Theatre's Red Kite Project will present Red Kite Treasure Adventure, an interactive theatrical experience with live music and sensory moments created specifically for young people on the autism spectrum, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, February 2- March 4. Inspired by characters from Edith Nesbit's The Story of the Treasure Seekers, this intimate production creates a safe and exciting theatrical environment for young people with autism and their families. Audiences will join the chivalrous Oswald and his precocious siblings as they attempt to replace a priceless family heirloom. Their journey to track down a rare Chinese vase leads them through a hole in the Earth to Chinatown where they arrive just in time for New Year's festivities, dragon puppets, fireworks, lanterns and shadow play. After conquering their fears (and a sea serpent named Gong Gong) our heroes return home with a newfound appreciation for bravery, honesty and family tradition. 

Performances are limited to an audience of 10 children, each accompanied by a parent or caregiver, with room for a limited number of additional observers (other parents, siblings, etc.) Tickets are $10, and can be purchased at or by calling (872) 222-9555.

In addition, Chicago Children's Theatre continues to grow its commitment to serving all Chicago children by expanding its array of services for all patrons with disabilities. Each 2017-18 production at The Station will include an Access Weekend, during which all performances are presented with access services for children on the autism spectrum, children who are blind or have low vision, or children who are deaf or hard of hearing. For Access Weekend dates and more information, visit

Education at The Station

In addition to presenting engaging shows in the intimate 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre, Frank Maugeri, Community Programs Artistic Director, also continues to grow its enormously successful roster of camps and classes. The Station also continues building community and inspiring the artistic lives of families by providing "Open Builds," where neighbors come together and make art that weaves to CCT events and productions.

This summer, enroll your kids in innovative, engaging camps taught by professional artists. From Musical Theatre and Spectacle to Filmmaking and the exclusive Drama Intensive for Youth, CCT has a summer camp for every child in Chicago. Some financial assistance is available. Learn more and enroll online for summer camp at

Returning fall class favorites will include Hip Hop for Tots taught by Yuri "The Human Beat Box" Lane, Circus and Aerial Arts taught by Actors Gymnasium, Bubble Jams, Taking the Stage and more, all designed to let children unleash their creativity and bring their imagination to live both on and off the stage. The full roster of fall classes will be announced soon. Keep an eye on for more information and to enroll.

About Chicago Children's Theatre, The Station

Chicago Children's Theatre has transformed the former 12th District Police Station, located in the heart of Chicago's West Loop neighborhood at 100 S. Racine Avenue, at the intersection of Racine and Monroe Street, into its first permanent home.

The new Chicago Children's Theatre, The Station, is a beautiful, mixed-use performing arts and education facility designed to serve all Chicago families. In addition to presenting shows in the 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre, The Station boasts five brand new classrooms for a diverse, year-round roster of classes and camps for toddlers to teens. 

Additionally, CCT now has its own dedicated space at The Station for Red Kite programming for children with autism and other special needs. These children participate have opportunities to participate in Red Kite Adventures and CCT's annual Camp Red Kite, the only summer arts camp of its kind in Chicago for children on the autism spectrum. Visit to learn more and register.

About Chicago Children's Theatre

Since its launch in 2005, Chicago Children's Theatre has cemented its reputation as the city's largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families. 

The company evolved out of Chicago's need for high-quality, professional year-round children's programming to match the quality and significance of theatrical powerhouses such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre. 

Likewise, CCT has always believed children should be treated as the sophisticated audiences that they are with high-profile and award-winning talent, inventive production values and compelling stories that challenge, educate and entertain.

Audiences have embraced Chicago Children's Theatre since its inaugural production, A Year with Frog and Toad, at the Goodman Theatre in 2006. Since then, the company's productions have featured everything from black-light scenery to live music to interactive four-dimensional sets to life-size puppets, with performances showcasing the heart of Motown to Vaudeville to contemporary, current and modern styles.

CCT has also built a national reputation due to its strong focus on new work, producing 16 world premieres in the last 11 years including The Selfish Giant, The Hundred Dresses, Jackie and Me, Dot and Ziggy, The Houdini Box, The Elephant and The Whale (in association with Redmoon), Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, Leo Lionni's Frederick, Wonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure, A Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter, Jabari Dreams of Freedom, Another Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter, The Magic City and The Year I Didn't Go To School: A Homemade Circus. These enjoyed highly successful inaugural runs in Chicago, followed by new productions at family theaters across the U.S. 

CCT has always honored a strong commitment to low-income families and children with special needs. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the company offers free tickets to more than 5,000 Chicago-area low-income students each season. 

Led by Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell, Board Chair Todd Leland and Community Programs Artistic Director Frank Maugeri, Chicago Children's Theatre is supported by a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business. 

Chicago Children's Theatre is sponsored in part by ComEd, Goldman Sachs Gives and JP Morgan Chase.

For more information visit, or call (773) 227-0180.