Friday, May 4, 2018

OPENING: 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas at Lookingglass Theatre Company

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Lookingglass Theatre Company Presents the World Premiere of
20,000 Leagues Under the Seas
Adapted by David Kersnar and Althos Low
From the Books by Jules Verne
Directed by Ensemble Member David Kersnar

May 23 – August 19, 2018

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows we've adored Lookingglass Theatre Company for years. I'll be out with my teens for the press opening on June 2, so check back soon for my full review. With David Kersnar and Althos Low at the helm of this world premiere adaptation, 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas is sure to be an epic adventure. We can't wait to get on board with Lookingglass Theatre's take on this beloved Jules Verne classic! 

Lookingglass Theatre Company concludes its 30th Anniversary season with the world premiere of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas adapted by David Kersnar and Althos Low, from the books by Jules Verne, directed by Ensemble Member David Kersnar. 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas runs May 23 – August 19, 2018 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. 

When a terrifying sea monster is spotted off the coast, renowned scientist Professor Aronnax and fellow explorers set out to investigate. They soon find themselves kidnapped and held under the command, and spell, of the mysterious Captain Nemo. As they circle the globe aboard the most advanced submarine the world has never seen, they confront giant squids, bizarre sea creatures, and the monsters that lurk below…and within.

Adapted from Jules Verne’s epic adventure exploring the murky perils of the seas, Ensemble Member David Kersnar invites you to board the Nautilus and “Dive! Dive! Dive!” into this Lookingglass World Premiere.

“This story is the same hardcore thriller it’s been for over a century: Victorian submarines, sea battles, hairbreadth escapes. On a deeper level, the story really has grown into a near-parable in many ways more resonant to our world than to the world for which it was originally intended,” comments writer/director David Kersnar. “At Lookingglass, we often start with a physical or visual hunch to support the mission or ‘big idea’ of the adaption of extant text. For 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, all images are created and performed by human hand through intercultural puppetry, as well as chain and rope rigging. Lookingglass has a storied relationship with the Actors Gymnasium up in Evanston, and we tested many physical elements up at the gym and staged physical sequences in the show. In addition, the design team was selected to turn this adventure up to full blast, so stay tuned as we lift the largest and heaviest object ever in the 30-year history of Lookingglass!”

20,000 Leagues Under the Seas features Ensemble Members Kareem Bandealy (Captain Nemo) and Thomas J. Cox (Gideon Spillet/J.B. Hobson/ Guard/ Boatswain) with Artistic Associates Walter Briggs (Ned Land) and Kasey Foster (Professor Morgan Aronnax). The cast also includes Joe Dempsey (Pencroff/Farragut), Micah Figueroa (Harbert/Ensign Smith/Nicholas), Edwin Lee Gibson (Cyrus Smith/Constabe Weaver/Engineer), Glenn-Dale Obrero (Kin-Fo/Mr. Drax/First Mate) and Lanise Antoine Shelley (Brigette Conseil).

The creative team includes Todd Rosenthal (scenic), Sully Ratke (costumes), Artistic Associate Christine A. Binder (lighting), Artistic Associate Rick Sims (sound and composition), Artistic Associate Sylvia Hernandez-Distasi (circus choreography), Blair Thomas, Tom Lee, and Chris Wooten (puppet designers), Isaac Schoepp (rigging), Amanda Herrmann (props), Kathy Logelin (dialect), Max Fabian (fight choreography) and Mary Hungerford (stage manager).

About the Artists
DAVID KERSNAR (Director/Playwright/Lookingglass Ensemble Member) has directed, performed, written, designed and taught for Lookingglass since 1988. David previously served as the Lookingglass Artistic Director, founded and directed Lookingglass Education & Community Programs, and served as Master Teacher. Other directing and writing credits include: premiere productions at Next Theatre Company, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lively Arts Dance Academy, and Chicago Children’s Theatre. David also worked with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Remains Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Actors’ Gang, Touchstone Theatre, and Alley Theatre of Houston. David has served as Theatre Chair for Monterey Peninsula College, as well as professor of theatre at such institutions as Northwestern University, DePaul University, Roosevelt University and University of Illinois. He co-founded and produced over 40 films and plays nationally and internationally with Shaking the Tree Interactive Productions, which uses theatrical problem-solving techniques in business environments. Film and TV credits include: U.S. Marshals, Since You’ve Been Gone, Early Edition, Turks. David holds a B.S. in theatre/performance studies and a MFA in directing from Northwestern University.

STEVE PICKERING (ALTHOS LOW/Playwright) is a Chicago-based actor, director, and playwright. A Goodman Theatre Creative Partner and Project Manager for Shanghai Low Theatricals (SLT), he is formerly the Artistic Director of Next Theatre Company in Evanston. For SLT, he has served as the primary adaptor—in collaboration with company members—of Orwell’s Animal Farm (Steppenwolf for Young Adults, 2014); Conan Doyle’s The Hound Of The Baskervilles (Idle Muse Theatre Company); Alastair Reynolds’ Diamond Dogs (The House Theatre of Chicago); and his own production of Alphaburn, retelling the Joan of Arc story (DePaul University, 2017). As an actor, he last appeared in Robert Falls’ world premiere staging of Rogelio Martinez’ Blind Date (Goodman Theatre—one of over 30 productions with the company since 1987); Sean Grennan’s The Tin Woman (Theatre at the Center); and Mary Zimmerman’s Treasure Island (Lookingglass; Berkeley Repertory Theatre). In 2016, he was awarded a Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship by the Ten Chimneys Foundation.

KAREEM BANDEALY (Captain Nemo/Lookingglass Ensemble Member) has previously appeared at Lookingglass in Blood Wedding, Moby Dick, The Little Prince, Big Lake Big City, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, and Peter Pan (A Play). Chicago credits: A Christmas Carol (2014–2017), Rock ‘N’ Roll, Gas For Less and King Lear at Goodman Theatre; The Wheel at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Oklahoma! at Paramount Theatre; The Good Book and The Illusion at Court Theatre; Julius Caesar, Hamlet, The Caretaker and Heartbreak House at Writers Theatre; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Edward II and Romeo and Juliet at Chicago Shakespeare Theater; A Disappearing Number, Blood and Gifts at TimeLine Theatre; The Skin of Our Teeth and The Real Thing at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company; Othello (as Othello) at The Gift Theatre, and many others. Regional credits include: The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Three Musketeers and The Tempest at Illinois Shakespeare Festival; Love’s Labour’s Lost at Notre Dame Summer Shakespeare; Julius Caesar and Stuff Happens at Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, and four seasons with Orlando Shakespeare Theater. He has appeared in several films including The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton, in the new web series Code-Switched, and on TV in Chicago Fire. His new play, Act(s) of God, is slated for its world premiere as part of Lookingglass’ 2018–19 Season. Kareem is a recipient of the 2011 3Arts Artist Award.

WALTER BRIGGS (Ned Land/Lookingglass Artistic Associate) returns to Lookingglass, where he is an Artistic Associate, after performing as Ishmael in last summer’s production of Moby Dick. He has previously appeared at Lookingglass in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and The North China Lover, as well as performing as Starbuck in the touring production of Moby Dick at South Coast Repertory, Arena Stage and Alliance Theatre. Chicago credits include:
Sucker Punch (Victory Gardens Theater), Hit The Wall (The Inconvenience/Steppenwolf Theatre Company), All Our Tragic (The Hypocrites), and The Glass Menagerie (Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.). Regionally, Walter has performed at A.R.T., Actors Theatre of Louisville, and The Getty Villa. TV/Film credits include: Chicago Med, Jessica, A Good Person,
Ballad, and Older Children. Walter is a founding member of The Inconvenience and a graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

THOMAS J. COX (Gideon Spillet/J.B. Hobson/Guard/Boatswain/Lookingglass Ensemble Member) most recently appeared at Lookingglass in Cascabel. A founding Ensemble Member, Thom has appeared in many productions since 1988, including The Jungle, The Odyssey, West, The Arabian Nights, The Master and Margarita, The Great Fire, Nelson Algren: For Keeps and a Single Day, 1984, The Old Curiosity Shop, and Peter Pan (A Play), among others. Regionally, he has appeared at Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre, Court Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, The Gift Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, and Milwaukee Repertory Theater. He also serves Lookingglass’ Education and Community Program as Master Teacher. Most recently, Thom was seen in Blind Date (Goodman Theatre) and Book of Will (Northlight Theatre). TV/Film: Brotherhood (Showtime), Chicago Fire (NBC), Since You’ve Been Gone (Miramax).

JOE DEMPSEY (Pencroff/Farragut) returns to Lookingglass where he has appeared in Around the World in 80 Days, The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World, Summertime and My Life in Pop. More recent credits include: Faceless (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Northlight Theatre); The Rembrandt (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), and Ah, Wilderness! (Goodman Theatre). Around Chicago, he has also acted at Court Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Paramount Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Theater Wit, plus many others, as well as regionally at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Baltimore Center Stage, City Theatre Company (Pittsburgh, PA), Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Kansas City Repertory Theatre. He is an artistic affiliate of American Blues Theater and a former member of The Second City National Touring Company and The Neo-Futurists.

MICAH FIGUEROA (Harbert/Ensign Smith/Nicholas) returns to Lookingglass after performing in Moby Dick
in 2015 and 2017 and (once!) in Lookingglass Alice. Chicago theatre credits include: Tall Girl and the Lightning Parade (Walkabout Theater); The Winter Pageant (Redmoon Theater); Distance to the Moon (First Floor Theater). Regional theatre credits include: Moby Dick (Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, South Coast Repertory); In the Beginning, Henry
IV (Dallas Theater Center); The Farnsworth Invention, Wild Oats (Theatre Three); Coriolanus, Cyrano de Bergerac, Macbeth (Shakespeare Dallas); Titus Andronicus (Kitchen Dog Theater). He earned a BFA from Southern Methodist University and the British American Drama Academy.

KASEY FOSTER (Professor Morgan Arronax/Lookingglass Artistic Associate) is a performer, choreographer, producer, and director. She is an Artistic Associate at Lookingglass Theatre, a member of Actors’ Equity, and is represented by Gray Talent Group. Most recently, she was seen on stage in A Journey for the Sun (The Actors Gymnasium); Mementos Mori (Manual Cinema); and touring the country with Moby Dick (Lookingglass Theatre). On camera credits include: Chicago Med and IFC’s Documentary Now!. Kasey sings with Chicago bands Grood, Babe-alon 5, Old Timey, This Must be the Band and a mysteriously nameless private events band. She has created over forty original works, and produces an annual series called Dance Tribute.

EDWIN LEE GIBSON (Cyrus Smith/Constable/Weaver/Engineer) was last seen at Lookingglass in Beyond Caring. Off Broadway: Battlefield by Peter Brook (2017–2018 International Tour); Love and Information (US premiere, Minetta Lane Theatre/New York Theatre Workshop); The Seven (New York Theatre Workshop); The Diary of Black Men (London, UK), Five ‘Til (Dixon Place; NYC). Chicago Theatre: The Royale (American Theater Company); St. James Infirmary (Congo Square Theatre Company). Edwin just returned from nine months work with director Peter Brook in London (National Theatre) and Paris (Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord). Awards: O.B.I.E. Award for Outstanding Performance. TV: Law and Order: SVU, Shameless. Film: Mom and Dad, director Brian Taylor; Marshall, director Reginald Hudlin.

GLENN-DALE OBRERO (Kin-Fo/Mr. Drax/First Mate) is making his Lookingglass debut. Other Chicago credits include: The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Northlight Theatre, u/s); A Wrinkle in Time (Lifeline Theatre); Akeelah and the Bee (Adventure Stage Chicago); How We Got On (Haven Theatre, u/s). TV: Chicago Fire (NBC). He received his BFA in Performing Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design and is represented by Gray Talent Group.

LANISE ANTOINE SHELLEY (Brigette Conseil) is a Lookingglass Teaching Artist and was last seen in Goodman Theatre’s An Enemy of the People. Chicago credits include: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, The Back Room Shakespeare Project, and Victory Gardens Theater. Regionally: American Repertory Theater, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Outside the Wire, Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Favorite productions during her years as resident company member at Milwaukee Repertory Theater include: Eurydice, The Night is a Child, The Glass Menagerie, Gem of the Ocean, King Lear, Sueno, …Young Lady From Rwanda, The Crucible, and I Just Stopped By to See The Man. International Theatre: Stratford Festival’s Chicago Fellow for 2016. TV/Film: Chicago Fire (NBC), Discovery World. Training: MFA from ART/MXAT at Harvard University, BFA from Cornish College of the Arts, certificate from British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England.

Lookingglass’ REFLECT Series is a curated selection of post-show discussions featuring panelists with a range of viewpoints and expertise on the content and context of each production. These wide-ranging conversations, moderated by artistic staff, offer an opportunity for Lookingglass audiences and guests to engage with the vision and visionaries behind each show, get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the unique Lookingglass process, and hear from artists, academics and authorities with diverse perspectives on the material.

REFLECT post-show panel discussions take place directly following the 2:00 p.m. matinee on select Sundays at Lookingglass Theatre. The discussions are free and open to the public.

June 24: Jules Verne and Victorian Sci-Fi
With his fantastical journeys into deep oceans, earth, and space, the famous French author may be the inventor of Science Fiction.  How has Verne’s work influenced other books, films, television, and plays?

July 8: Just Beneath The Surface
Captain Nemo’s Nautilus is an early and fictional forerunner of the real-life modern submarine.  What do today’s explorers and scientists use to gaze into the ocean’s depths?

July 15: Creatures From The Deep!
Jules Verne’s sea creatures take on legendary proportions in many popular films, television, and theatrical adaptations.  Learn about their real-life counterparts with scientists from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.

July 22: The Fate of the Oceans
Like Captain Nemo, Jules Verne was a fierce admirer of the oceans and all that they hold.  What new challenges are posed by oceanic warming, rise, and pollution, and how can we save the seas for future generations?

July 29: The Politics of Destruction
Captain Nemo commits acts of violence in the name of a greater good.  Is one man’s environmental activist another’s eco-terrorist?  Is violence ever warranted, or even effective?
ford (stage manager).

Previews:  May 23 – June 1, 2018
Press opening:  Saturday, June 2, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
Gala opening: Sunday, June 3, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Regular run: June 6 – August 19, 2018

Tuesdays:7:30 p.m. (June 12 & 26; July 3, 17 & 31; August 14 only)
Wednesdays: 7:30 p.m. (except July 4)
Thursdays: 2:00 p.m. (June 7 & 21; July 5, 12 & 26; August 9 only) 7:30 p.m.
Fridays: 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 2:00 p.m. (except May 26 & June 2) 7:30 p.m.
Sundays: 2:00 p.m. (except June 3) 7:30 p.m. (except May 27 & June 3)

Accessible Performances:
Audio Described/Touch Tour performance, Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
(Touch Tour begins at 6 p.m.)
Open Captioned performance, Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.

Teen Arts Pass Launch Event – Friday, May 25, 2018  
Lookingglass is participating in Teen Arts Pass (TAP) as an inaugural partner. TAP is a new program of Urban Gateways that allows anyone ages 13 to 19 to experience live arts performances all around Chicago for only $5.

On May 25, teens are invited to hang out with the Lookingglass Young Ensemble for free pizza and soda, and hear about 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas from a Lookingglass artist/designer before seeing the performance. More details about TAP and the Lookingglass launch event can be found at

Theatre Night Out for Young Professionals – Friday, July 13, 2018
Under 35? Join members of the Lookingglass Associates Board and other young professionals for a pre-show reception at Rockit Bar & Grill and a performance of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas

Location:Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic
Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson.
Previews are $35 - $55
Regular Run is $45 - $80
Student tickets are available the day of the show for $20 with a valid student ID. Based on availability.
Groups of 8 or more patrons save up to 20%. Call 773-477-9257 X 125 or email for details.

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

Subscriptions are on sale for the 2018–2019 Season. Performances will be held at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. 

Subscribers can choose between a 3-play subscription, or two flex pass options: the Gglasspass, or for those under 35, the Madhatter’s Club. For the 2018–2019 Season, 3-play subscriptions range from $116–$170.

The Gglasspass is a flex pass available to all ages. For $150, Gglasspass holders receive 3 tickets that can be used in any combination and denomination for any Lookingglass production in the 2018–2019 Season.

The Madhatter’s Club flex pass is available to those 35 or younger. The Madhatter’s Club flex pass is $75 and includes 3 tickets that members can use in any combination and denomination for any Lookingglass production in the 2018-2019 Season.

Lookingglass also offers a 3-play subscription for Accessible performances during the 2018-2019 Season for $75. Patrons can choose between the Touch Tour/Audio Described performances or the Open Captioned performances.

Subscription benefits include access to the best seats in the house, pre-sale opportunities and savings before single tickets go on sale to the general public, special perks at restaurant partners, unlimited ticket exchanges, discounted parking at 875 N Michigan Ave, Water Tower Place and Olympia Centre Garage, reduced tuition for Lookingglass’ renowned classes and summer camps, and access to exclusive subscriber-only events. For season subscription and ticket information, call the Lookingglass Theatre box office at (312) 337-0665 or visit

About Lookingglass Theatre Company
Inventive. Collaborative. Transformative. Lookingglass Theatre Company, recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award, was founded in 1988 by eight Northwestern University students. Now in its 30th season, Lookingglass is home to a multi-disciplined ensemble of artists who create story-centered theatrical work that is physical, aurally rich and visually metaphoric. The Company has staged 65 world premieres, received 144 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations, and work premiered at Lookingglass has been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Princeton, Hartford, Kansas City, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Louisville and St. Louis. Lookingglass original scripts have been produced across the United States. In 2016, Lookingglass received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions and in 2017, was the recipient of the League of Chicago Theatres’ Artistic Achievement Award.

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

Lookingglass Theatre Company continues to expand its artistic, financial and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Heidi Stillman, Executive Director Rachel L. Fink, Producing Director Philip R. Smith, Connectivity and Engagement Director Andrew White, General Manager Michele Anderson, a 24-member artistic ensemble, 23 artistic associates, an administrative staff and a dedicated board of directors led by Chairman John McGowan and President Nancy Timmers. For more information, visit

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