Friday, December 20, 2019


A&A BALLET (A&A), under the artistic direction of Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev, holds open auditions for the production of Alexei Kremnev's “Pinocchio,” Sunday, January 12, 2020 from 12-2 p.m. A&A welcomes dancers from ages six to twenty-four to audition for various roles, which will take place at Chicago’s Studebaker Theatre (410 S. Michigan Ave) May 16, 2020 for two performances.

Auditions will be held at A&A BALLET’s newly opened studios, Center for Dance (731 S. Plymouth Court), on January 12. Inspired by the original Italian tale of 1883, this much-loved fairy tale follows the mischievous and charming wooden puppet, Pinocchio, the most translated book in the world, as he pursues his dream of being a real boy. We accompany him as he learns the life-lessons that make one real.

Audition attire: Girls: black camisole leotard, pink footed tights, pink canvas ballet and pointe shoes (age/level appropriate); Boys: black-footed tights, white tight fitted t-shirt, black ballet shoes. The audition will include dance movement and combinations to be performed in character. No preparation of audition material is necessary. Dancers will be notified via email within the week after the audition if they have been cast. A production fee will be required for dancers performing “Sleeping Beauty” and varies depending on role. Rehearsals begin on February 15 (for most of the parts) and will take place primarily on Saturdays at the A&A BALLET Center for Dance. A pre-registration form may be downloaded at

A&A BALLET, growing at a fast pace since its inception, has recently garnered rave reviews for their production “The Art Deco Nutcracker” that. Lauren Warnecke at the Chicago Tribune called it “a glitzy production (featuring) top notch student dancers and professional guest artists from American Ballet Theatre and BalletMet.” PerformInk raved that “it’s a fresh and fantastic work that holds its own with ballets in every season.”

A&A BALLET, based in their new home at 721 S. Plymouth Court, is devoted to training in strong, versatile dance technique, as well as the development of personality, independence and artistry. Led by internationally acclaimed artists and former Founding Artistic Directors of the Joffrey Academy and Joffrey Studio Company, Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev, A&A offers a wide variety of classes, professional performance opportunities, private instruction, choreography and training for dancers ranging from age 3 to adult. In a very short period of time A&A BALLET has gained national and international recognition receiving rave reviews for its programs and productions.  To date, its students have secured 65 full scholarships and nine apprentice and studio company positions with powerhouses including American Ballet Theater, Houston Ballet, Princess Grace Academy of Monaco, Bolshoi Ballet, Colorado Ballet, BalletMet and Sarasota Ballet. 

For more information visit or call 312.545.2142.

Monday, December 9, 2019

WIN A Pair of Oliver! Tickets ($120 Value/2 Winners) Now Playing at Marriott Theatre Through December 29th, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Oliver at Marriott Theatre

Celebrate the holidays with one of the most beloved family musicals of all time, featuring favorites “Food, Glorious Food,” “As Long as He Needs Me,” and more!

WIN A Pair of Marriott Oliver! Tickets 
(Up to $120 Value/2 Winners) 
Now Playing at Marriott Theatre Through December 29th, 2019. Winners' choice of dates/times (pending availability). Enter early and often through midnight, Wednesday, December 11th. 

Terry James, Executive Producer
Aaron Thielen, Lead Artistic Director
Andy Hite, Artistic Director 

The largest cast ever on the Marriott Theatre stage!

The Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr. in Lincolnshire, is proud to bring the Victorian streets of London live to Lincolnshire with Lionel Bart’s OLIVER!, previewing Wednesday, October 30th, opening Wednesday, November 6th at 7:30 p.m., and closing Sunday, December 29th. The Tony Award-winning musical based on the classic Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, is directed by eight-time Jeff Award winner for Outstanding Direction, Nick Bowling, with musical direction by Jeff Award winner Ryan T. Nelson and choreography by Jeff Award winner Brenda Didier.

Kai Edgar and Gilbert Domally

“Dickens’ original story is a critical examination of the living conditions in Victorian England and the enormous gap between the haves and have nots. He gives us light and dark in equal measure to heighten his incredible story of an orphan who finds his home,” said director Nick Bowling.

“My goal from the beginning was to approach the play from a ten-year old’s perspective; so, people look bigger and the world seems larger. And while the dark can easily turn into a nightmare, the moments of hope and light are like a magical dream.”

Kayden Koshelev and William Brown

Kayden Koshelev 

Kayden Koshelev and Patrick Scott McDermott

Set in the 1800’s, OLIVER! follows the story of a malnourished orphan in a workhouse who becomes the neglected apprentice of an undertaker. Oliver escapes to London and finds acceptance amongst a group of petty thieves and pickpockets led by the elderly Fagin. When Oliver is captured for a theft that he did not commit, the benevolent victim, Mr. Brownlow, takes him into his care. Fearing for the safety of his hideout, Fagin employs the sinister Bill Sikes and the sympathetic Nancy to kidnap him back, threatening Oliver’s chances of discovering the true love of a family. Nominated for the Best Musical Tony Award, OLIVER! features touching performances of audience favorites including “Food, Glorious Food,” “As Long as He Needs Me,” “Consider Yourself,” and the title song, “Oliver!”

 William Brown

The largest cast ever on the Marriott Theatre stage, OLIVER! stars Kai Edgar (Professional debut!) and Kayden Koshelev (Marriott Theatre Debut; Big Noise Theater: Seussical; Metropolis: A Christmas Carol; That’s Entertainment: Beauty and the Beast; St. James Theatre: Shrek) in the title role of “Oliver”; William Brown as “Fagin” (Marriott Theatre: Cabaret, History Loves Company, Into the Woods, and Arthur); Lucy Godinez as “Nancy” (Marriott Theatre: Footloose; Writers: Into the Woods; Porchlight Music Theater: In the Heights; Paramount Theater: Legally Blonde); Patrick Scott McDermott as “The Artful Dodger” (Marriott Theatre: Seussical, Holiday Inn, Ragtime); with Caron Buinis (“Mrs. Sowerberry”), Jason Grimm (“Mrs. Sowerberry”), Matthew R. Jones (“Mr. Bumble”), Bethany Thomas (“Mrs. Corney”), Dan Waller (“Bill Sikes”), Aubrey Adams, Emily Agy, Tony Carter, Gilbert Domally (“Noah”), Kelly Felthous (“Charlotte”), Terry Hamilton (“Mr. Brownlow”), Michael Haws, Mark David Kaplan (“Dr. Grimwig”), Liam Quealy, Cassie Slater, Elizabeth Telford, Jeremiah Alsop, Lexis Danca, Max DeTogne, and Ziare Paul-Emile (“Bet”).

Dan Waller

The Orphans and Thieves are played by Luke Chichester, Pierce Cleaveland, Connor Henry Daley, Milo J. Flores, Gabriel Gabor, Zachary Scott Fewkes, Cole Keriazakos, Ryder Kirby, Nolan Maddox (also “Dodger” at select performances), Brennan Monaghan, Hogan Porter, Jonathan Z. Protus, Landon Simecek, Trey Thompson, Emmett O. Victorson.

The production will feature set design by Jeffrey D. Kmiec, costume design by Sally Dolembo, lighting design by Jesse Klug, sound design by Robert E. Gilmartin, wig design by Miguel A. Armstrong, and properties design by Sally Zack; with dialect coach Kathy Logelin, fight and intimacy choreographer Gaby Labotka, stage manager David A. Loranca, and musical superviser by Patti Garwood.

 Kai Edgar, Jason Grimm and Caron Buinis 

The performance is scheduled to run Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., with select Thursday 1:00 p.m. shows. Holiday weeks may have adjusted schedules. Ticket prices range from $50 to $60, excluding tax and handling fees. 

Call for student, senior, and military discounts. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings there are a limited number of dinner-theatre packages available for purchase through the Marriott Theatre Box Office. To make a restaurant reservation, please call 847.634.0100. Reservations strongly recommended. Free parking is available at all performances. To reserve tickets, please call The Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or go to Visit for more information and the full, holiday schedule.

 Matthew R Jones and Kai Edgar

WIN A Pair of Marriott Oliver! Tickets 
(Up to $120 Value/2 Winners) 
Now Playing at Marriott Theatre Through December 29th, 2019. Winners' choice of dates/times (pending availability). Enter early and often through midnight, Wednesday, December 11th. 

OPENING: Strawdog Theatre Company Presents HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS December 7 – 29, 2019

The Holiday Hit Returns!
Strawdog Theatre Company Presents
Based on the book by Eric Kimmel
Adapted by Michael Dailey
Music and Lyrics by Jacob Combs
Directed by Lauren Katz
Music Direction by Yair Farkas
December 7 – 29, 2019

After charming audiences last winter, Strawdog Theatre Company’s holiday hit HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS returns December 7 – 29, 2019 at 1802 W. Berenice Ave. in Chicago’s Northcenter neighborhood. Based on the award-winning book by Eric Kimmel, the family classic features book and adaptation by ensemble member Michael Dailey*, music and lyrics by Jacob Combs, direction by Lauren Katz and music direction by Yair Farkas. Tickets are currently available at

(left to right) Cohen Kraus, Josh Pennington, Brianna Joy Ford, Leo Zhu, Sarah Bacinich and Jack Morsovillo in Strawdog Theatre Company’s production of HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS. All Photos by Jesus J. Montero.

(left to right) Cohen Kraus, Brianna Joy Ford, Josh Pennington and Sarah Bacinich 

The cast includes Sarah Bacinich, Brianna Joy Ford, Cohen Kraus, Jack Morsovillo, Josh Pennington and Leo Zhu. Understudies: Jessamyn Fitzpatrick, Caroline Kidwell and Narciso Lobo.

Will Hershel of Ostropool outsmart the goblins who haunt the old synagogue so that villagers can celebrate Hanukkah? In this stage adaptation of the Caldecott Honor-winning book, the story comes to life with music and a little bit of magic for families of all ages to enjoy.

 (pictured) Jack Morsovillo  

 (left to right) Jack Morsovillo and Cohen Kraus

(pictured) Jack Morsovillo

Comments Strawdog Artistic Director Leda Hoffmann, "I’m thrilled to bring back Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins to Strawdog this season. Hershel captures the imagination, joy and theatricality central to Strawdog’s work in a story great for audiences young and old. It is a privilege to bring this well-loved tale to Chicago audiences during the holiday season.”

The production team includes Evan Frank (scenic and props design), Elle Erickson (costume design), Benjamin Carne (lighting design), Hannah Foerschler (sound design), Amy Sheahan (assistant director), Kendra Williams (stage manager) and Anika Jones (assistant stage manager).

*Denotes Strawdog ensemble member

(front right) Sarah Bacinich with (back, l to r) Josh Pennington, Brianna Joy Ford and Cohen Kraus 

 (left to right) Sarah Bacinich and Jack Morsovillo

Cast (in alphabetical order): Sarah Bacinich (Sara), Brianna Joy Ford (Tina), Cohen Kraus (Sammy), Jack Morsovillo (Hershel), Josh Pennington (Max) and Leo Zhu (Al).

Understudies: Jessamyn Fitzpatrick, Caroline Kidwell and Narciso Lobo.

Location: Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Saturday, December 7 at 1 pm & 4 pm and Sunday, December 8 at 10 am
Press performance: Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm
Regular run: Saturday, December 14 – Sunday, December 29
Curtain Times: Saturdays at 1 pm & 4 pm, plus Sunday, December 29 at 10 am & 1 pm.
Tickets: Previews $20 adults, $15 children/seniors. Regular run $25 adults, $20 children/seniors. Family of four discount - 10% off a purchase of four tickets. Group discounts available. Tickets are currently available at Half price rush and student tickets available at every performance and other discounts available. Call (773) 644-1380 for details.

(left to right) Josh Pennington, Brianna Joy Ford, Cohen Kraus, Leo Zhu, Sarah Bacinich 
and Jack Morsovillo  

 (left to right) Brianna Joy Ford and Josh Pennington 

About the Artists

Eric Kimmel (Author) is the author of over 130 books for children, including Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock and the classic Hanukkah tale, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. He is a five-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award and the Sydney Taylor Award for Lifetime Achievement. Dr. Kimmel and his wife Doris live in Portland, Oregon. 

Michael Dailey (Book/Adaptation) has appeared as an actor in 24 mainstage productions with the company since joining Strawdog in 1997. Writing credits include three radio plays presented as part of Radio Theatre 7, co-writer on the late night series The Adventures of Picklebot and Lawfer and script editor for Strawdog’s productions of 1001 Afternoons in Chicago, Julius Caesar and Measure for Measure.

Jacob Combs (Music and Lyrics) is a writer, director and composer based in Los Angeles. In addition to last year’s premiere production of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, his previous musical theater projects include Palin! The Musical (music and lyrics), Unraveling (book, music and lyrics), Falling Apart, Coming Together (music and lyrics) and Legends & Lore (book). He is currently writing the book, music and lyrics for the musical Selling Out, which was workshopped at Chicago’s Strawdog Theatre in June 2018. Jacob’s first short film as writer/director, Without, premiered earlier this year, and is currently on the festival circuit, having played at over 15 U.S. and international festivals so far. His short screenplay Messrs. is being produced through the AfterWORK program at Pixar Animation Studios, where Jacob works in the creative development department.

Lauren Katz (Director) is a freelance director, dramaturg and teaching artist. Recent directing projects include: This is a Chair (Haven Theatre), Women of 4G (Babes with Blades Theatre Company), Toni and Marcus: From Village Life to Urban Stress (Illinois Holocaust Museum) and Subjective is Beauty (Prop Thtr). As an assistant director and dramaturg in Chicago, Lauren has worked with various companies including: About Face Theatre, Firebrand Theatre Company, Theater Wit, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater, Redtwist Theatre, Writers Theatre, and Windy City Playhouse. Lauren served as the 2016/2017 Artistic Apprentice at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and as a fellow in the 2018/2019 Directors Inclusion Initiative at Victory Gardens Theatre. As a teaching artist, Lauren works with Lookingglass Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, and Mudlark Theater.

Yair Farkas (Music Director) is a composer and singer from the suburbs of Chicago. He is a graduate of Binghamton University's music program where he studied classical voice, musicology and composition. He has written for professional music ensembles including Contemporaneous and the Grammy-award winning artists of Modern Medieval.

About Strawdog Theatre Company

Since its founding in 1988, Strawdog Theatre Company has offered Chicagoland the premiere storefront theatre experience and garnered numerous Non-Equity Jeff Awards with its commitment to ensemble acting and an immersive design approach. The celebrated Company develops new work, re-imagines the classics, melds music with theatre, asks provocative questions and delivers their audience the unexpected.

Strawdog Theatre Company is supported in part by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Alphawood Foundation, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

(left to right) Jack Morsovillo and Leo Zhu 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Perfect Pairing: Blue Man Group and FastPass to Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again Available Through January 23, 2020

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar


New Limited-Time-Only Package 
Available Through January 23, 2020.

Here at ChiIL Mama, we adore theatre and art, and we're jazzed when our favorites team up together. If you're looking for a great holiday gift idea or a way to make some memories with visiting family and friends, check this out. You don't even need to do both shows on the same day. Make life a bit more colorful during this dark season and go already! 

Blue Man Group is thrilled to debut a new ticket package in partnership with Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again, on view now through January 26, 2020 at the Art Institute of Chicago. The special ticket package is $79 and includes a main floor seat to Blue Man Group at Chicago’s Briar Street Theatre and a FastPass admission ticket to the Art Institute including a pass to the Warhol exhibition.

Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again is a penetrating and panoramic look at an artist whose "15 minutes" endure. This major retrospective--the first to be organized by a US institution (Whitney Museum of American Art) in 30 years--builds on the wealth of new research, scholarship, and perspectives that has emerged since Andy Warhol's early death at age 58 in 1987. More than 400 works on view offer a new view of the beloved and iconic American Pop artist, not only illuminating the breadth, depth, and interconnectedness of Warhol's production across the entirety of his career but also highlighting the ways that he anticipated the issues, effects, and pace of today’s digital age.

Blue Man Group ticket buyers are invited to use code WARHOL when purchasing full price Blue Man Group Chicago tickets to receive an equal number of FastPass admission and Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again exhibition passes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Art Institute tickets must be picked up at the Briar Street Theatre box office and do not need to be used on the same day as the Blue Man Group performance.

About Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group is an award-winning show and entertainment phenomenon seen by more than 35 million people worldwide since 1991. A dynamic combination of art, music, comedy and technology, the show’s euphoric celebration of human connection has universal appeal for a broad range of age groups and cultural backgrounds. The show is continually refreshed with new music, fresh stories, custom instruments and state-of-the-art technology. Blue Man Group has permanent theatrical productions in New York, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Berlin and a World Tour. Blue Man Group is owned and operated by Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.

This creative collective has become part of the pop culture zeitgeist. Blue Man Group has served as the face of branding campaigns for Intel and TIM/Brasil and appeared countless times on hit shows like “The Tonight Show,” “Arrested Development,” “Ellen,” “Schlag den Raab” (Germany), “WOWOW” (Japan), and “Caldeirão do Huck” (Brasil).

Beyond the stage show, they are Grammy-nominated recording artists, known for their contributions to various film and TV scores and multiple Blue Man Group albums, including their most recent, THREE. Their “Megastar World Tour” rock concert parody played arenas across the globe. The group’s recently published first-ever book, Blue Man World, is a visually stunning anthropological exploration of the curious bald and blue character.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

REVIEW: Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish Now Playing at the Greenhouse Theater Through December 29, 2019

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List


At the Greenhouse Theater Through December 29, 2019
**ages 3 and up**

Guest Review
by kimberly robb baker

Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish is a delightful Christmas cookie of a show, one that kids of all ages can enjoy. Parents of wee ones will be especially happy to have a Christmas play that engages and accommodates young children so well—from pre-show elvish entertainment to a post-show chance to meet Santa. After all, as Santa says in this play by Denise McGowan Tracy and based on her book of the same name, “All children are good at heart.”

Eleanor, played with depth and sweetness by Samantha Bonzi, is a ragdoll who’s been at the North Pole for years—apparently the only toy in permanent residence with Santa, Mrs. “Cookie” Claus, and the elves, all of whom are like family to doll. But Eleanor has a couple of problems. She doesn’t know where she came from, and she longs for a best friend.

The North Pole is full of sequins, ribbon, presents, and that naughty and nice list maintained by Santa’s cousin Clara—played by Emily Rohm who brings some spice to all the sweetness flying around.

Musical performances stand out from Bonzi, Rohm, and Sydney Swanson—who plays the lonely young Noelle, a girl in Chicago who also longs for a best friend—align with catchy lyrics and music to make the small staging feel like a much bigger production.

Best of all, Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish does not condescend to children, but helps them address the very real thoughts about origin, family, and friendship that children of all ages must grapple with.

Kimberly Robb Baker is a Chicago based writer, blogger, consultant, story teller, and mother. You can find her worky stuff here: and her artsy fartsy stuff here:

Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish - The Musical, a new family-friendly holiday production, is now playing at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, through December 29, 2019. Presented by Chicago-based DMT Entertainment, the 65-minute musical is an engaging tale of love, friendship, and the magic of the holiday season. Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish - The Musical is recommended for all dreamers, ages 3 and up. 

Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish - The Musical tells the story of a rag doll named Eleanor who lives in the magical world of The North Pole. Despite her love for her family there, including Santa, Mrs. “Cookie” Claus, Clara Claus, and the elves - Twinkle, Sprinkle, and Sparkle, Eleanor's very merry Christmas wish is for a best friend and home of her own. Realizing that wishing is not enough, she writes a letter to Santa expressing her dream. The letter opens the door to answering many questions and to the journey which leads to her wish (and others) coming true.

Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical is based on the heartfelt book of the same name published by Chicago powerhouse Denise McGowan Tracy in 2012.

Single tickets are priced at $29.50 and “family packs” of four tickets are available for $100. Each ticket includes the opportunity for every girl and boy to take a photo with Santa immediately following the performance. Grown-ups are encouraged to have their cell phones ready to capture the moment. All tickets may be purchased by visiting or calling 773-40-GREEN.

Performance schedule: Now playing through Dec. 29. Performances take place on Wednesdays at 10 a.m., Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m.

The Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish - The Musical ensemble of 11 features faces both familiar from local stages and on the rise, including Rockford-based musical theater pro Samantha Bonzi in the title role of Eleanor, alongside singer/songwriter and actor Lindsey Jane Bullen; Chicago Kids Company member Cara Chumbley; Blank Theatre Company co-founder Claire Latourette; Drury Lane veteran Kim Green; local Emmy Award winner Scott Gryder; Jeff Award nominee John Marshall Jr.; Chicago singer, actor, and voice artist Erin Parker (member of Actor’s Equity); Lucille Lortel Award nominee Emily Rohm (member of Actor’s Equity); Sydney Swanson in her professional stage debut; and Chicago Shakespeare Theater regular David Turrentine (member of Actor’s Equity).


Denise McGowan Tracy (Creator/Playwright) A native Chicagoan, Denise McGowan Tracy has been a recognized face and force in Chicago’s entertainment community – both on-stage and behind the scenes – for 35+ years. She began her career managing and booking the talent for the storied Byfield’s nightclub, and is currently the creator and co-host, with Beckie Menzie, of the long-running impromptu musical showcase Monday Night Live at Petterino’s, which recently celebrated its 500th show.  McGowan Tracy served as Director of Entertainment for Navy Pier for a decade producing all public programming for millions of visitors and, as current founder of DMT Entertainment, her full-service entertainment production and event management company, she has produced events for clients including Landmarks Illinois, Lettuce Entertain You, The Sarah Siddons Society, and The ABA. With this production, she begins a new chapter in theater as creator, playwright, and producer.   

Kathleen Gibson (Composer/Lyricist) Kathleen Gibson works as a music director at the Second City Training Center in addition to working as an AEA actor and freelance musician in Chicago. As an actor, her favorite theaters include: Theatre at The Center, Peninsula Players, Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, and the Royal George. She also plays guitar for toddlers with Stomp and Shout Chicago. She holds a B.M. from DePaul University and is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory.

Zachary L. Gray (Director) Zachary L. Gray recently directed Run for Your Wife at the Palace Theater (WI). Other directing credits include Footloose (Grandstreet Theatre), Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and A Funny Thing… Forum (Timber Lake Playhouse), Shrek the Musical (Associate Director/Choreographer, Chicago Shakespeare), Fugitive Songs (BoHo), Legally Blonde (Big Noise), and Route 66 (Metropolis). Choreography credits include West Side Story, Gypsy, Hairspray (Timber Lake Playhouse), Dogfight (Associate, BoHo), Grease (The Little Theatre on the Square) with other favorites including Ride the Cyclone (ACT/5th Ave), Joseph… Dreamcoat (Ravinia), as well as several productions with The Performer’s School at Skokie Theatre. A proud AEA member, as an actor he has appeared at Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Victory Gardens, and Radio City Music Hall. He received a B.A. in Musical Theater Performance from Columbia College Chicago and an M.F.A. in Arts Leadership from Seattle University.

David Fiorello (Music Director) David Fiorello is a director, music director, performer, orchestrator, and playwright who’s had his work performed across the globe. Recently, he served as Music Director for Gypsy at Porchlight Music Theatre, starring seven-time Jeff Award Winner E. Faye Butler. He's currently Music Directing A Man of No Importance at Columbia College Chicago, where he is also on faculty. He's toured internationally with John Doyle's re-imagined Sweeney Todd and served as Music Director for the Off-Broadway hit Danny & Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Story. His musical The Language or The Kiss, which he conceived, arranged and starred in, featuring the music of The Indigo Girls, received several Off-Broadway industry readings. An in-demand vocal coach, he currently serves as Founder and CEO of Fiorello Studios and Fiorello Worldwide.  

Tatjana Radisic (Costume Design) Tatjana Radisic’s designs for theater, dance, and opera productions are marked by a synthesis of her European training and her own whimsical imagination. Her work has been seen on stages throughout the country, internationally, and on screen. Radisic holds a double B.A. from Belgrade University in Fine and Applied Arts, and an M.F.A. from Belgrade University in Costume Design. Her work includes groundbreaking experiments in costuming via collaborations with Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Writers' Theatre, Redmoon Theater, Drury Lane Water Tower Place, Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Blair Thomas and Co., 500 Clown, Hedwig Dances, Victory Gardens Theater, Northlight Theatre, Live Bait Theatre, American Theater Company, UMA Productions, Apple Tree Theatre, The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival South Band, and Creede Repertory Theatre Company, among others.

Aaron Shapiro (General Manager) Aaron Shapiro is the owner of Shapiro Production Mgmt, and currently works as the Production Manager for Emerald City Theatre. He recently served as lead General Manager for Miracle the Musical at the Royal George Theatre and as Production Manager at Victory Gardens for two seasons (Hand to God, Fun Home, Native Gardens). Other credits include Disenchanted and Unspeakable at the Broadway Playhouse, commercial productions of Splintered Soul and Twisted Knots with the Chicago Commercial Collective, Jeff-nominated productions of Heathers and Tomorrow Morning with Kokandy Productions, Jeff-nominated productions of The Rainmaker and the award winning Buddy - The Buddy Holly Musical with American Blues Theatre, Stupid F***ing Bird and Caught with Sideshow Theatre, Memphis, In The Heights, Far From Heaven, Sweeney Todd, Funny Thing Happened, Side Show, and Jeff Awards-winning productions of Dreamgirls, Ain’t MisBehavin’ and Sondheim on Sondheim with Porchlight Music Theatre where he is an Artistic Associate.

DMT Entertainment, founded by Denise McGowan Tracy, is a full-service event and entertainment production and management firm that produces a variety of high-profile, often private, events. More information at

Saturday, November 30, 2019

REVIEW: Cirque Du Soleil’s World Premiere of “‘Twas the Night Before” Now Playing The Chicago Theatre Through December 8th, 2019


All-New Family Production Now Playing At
The Chicago Theatre This Holiday Season


Tickets On-Sale Now

 Photo Credit for all: Errison Lawrence

by Dugan Kenaz-Mara

I loved Cirque Du Soleil’s “‘Twas the Night Before”. As a whole, it was a huge spectacle and incorporated many interesting acts, each with their own unique sensory experience. Some of the acts were truly unique in their execution, such as the Hotel Cart and Aerial Lamp acts, where performers used unusual objects as aerial apparatuses. These acts brought me joy as a performer to see how the concept of what can be used to make a performance can really extend as far as the performer’s imagination allows. 

Some of the acts brought new life to acts usually overdone in the circus: for example, in the Diabolo act, “‘Twas the Night Before” had performers use long ropes fit for 10 person jump-roping to pass diabolos around audience participants. This is something I have never seen before and it brought a new light to what could be done to add new light to a typically overdone skill in the circus. 

Speaking of lights, the lighting in this show was one of the main focuses and is extremely well done. The performance includes everything from handheld lights ‘passed’ between performers to chaser lights in the Hoola hoops to using a light for an aerial act. And to compliment all of that further the stage lights bring out the true colors of each act, especially when they shimmer off of the enormous strands of tinsel used as the set. 

The costumes were also spectacular, as is usual in Cirque du Soleil shows. All of the costumes were really expressive of the characters, some even bringing a new idea to how a character is presented, for example, the character Jolly being portrayed in most of the show as having a ragged soot-stained cloak, rather than the ‘typical’ Santa outfit of a red suit and white beard. Overall, it tells a really nice story about family and passion, and how stories can connect us all in a time of digitization where we are less likely to spend quality time together by letting us find our passion or ‘spark’ and share it with the world. 

Dugan Kenaz-Mara is studying theatre (performance) at Northwestern University. He was born and raised on Chicago theatre productions since early childhood. He has also studied circus arts/performance at Actors Gymnasium in Evanston and CircEsteem in Chicago. The past two seasons, he spent summers on cast at Bristol Renaissance Faire.

Cirque du Soleil and The Madison Square Garden Company (NYSE: MSG) have partnered up on the all-new family production, ‘Twas the Night Before…, which makes its debut at The Chicago Theatre this holiday season. 'Twas the Night Before... is an exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil could imagine. This festive show about the wonders of sharing and friendship promises to spark lasting memories in the hearts of families this holiday season. The production is now playing at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State Street, through December 8, 2019 for 17 performances. Tickets are on sale now.

Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show, ‘Twas the Night Before... is a flurry of love, Christmas cheer, rip-roaring fun and hugely lovable characters that will become a new tradition for families to cherish. Join Isabella, a curious girl who’s become jaded by the hoopla surrounding Christmas, as she is whisked away to an upside-down, inside-out world where she meets characters inspired by the original timeless poem. Discover what happened before Santa dropped in!

The international casting lineup features Tuedon Ariri (Canada) performing the Aerial Hammock; Katharine Arnold (United Kingdom) performing Aerial Cart; Rosie Axon (United Kingdom) and Adam Jukes (England) performing Inline Skating; Ming-En Chen, Tsung-Ying Lin, Ting-Chung Wang and Chia-Hao Yu (Taipei) performing Diablo; Michele Clark (United States) performing Hula Hoop and as Isabella; Nicole Faubert and Guillaume Paquin (Canada) in Aerial Duo Straps; Francis Gadbois (Canada) performing Box Juggling; Quentin Greco (France), Jacob Gregorie (Canada), Chauncey Kroner (United States), Timothé Vincent (France), Jinge Wang (China) and Evan Tomlinson Weintraub (Canada) performing Hoop Diving and Acrobatic Table;  Alexis Vigneault (Canada) performing Aerial Acrobatic Lamp and Jenna Beltran, Samuel Moore, Paul Ross, Diana Schoenfield and Bianca Vallar (United States), along with Kalila Hermant (Belgium), as ensemble dancers. 

The international casting lineup features Tuedon Ariri (Canada) performing the Aerial Hammock; Katharine Arnold (United Kingdom) performing Aerial Cart; Rosie Axon (United Kingdom) and Adam Jukes (England) performing Inline Skating; Ming-En Chen, Tsung-Ying Lin, Ting-Chung Wang and Chia-Hao Yu (Taipei) performing Diablo; Michele Clark (United States) performing Hula Hoop and as Isabella; Nicole Faubert and Guillaume Paquin (Canada) in Aerial Duo Straps; Francis Gadbois (Canada) performing Box Juggling; Quentin Greco (France), Jacob Gregorie (Canada), Chauncey Kroner (United States), Timothé Vincent (France), Jinge Wang (China) and Evan Tomlinson Weintraub (Canada) performing Hoop Diving and Acrobatic Table;  Alexis Vigneault (Canada) performing Aerial Acrobatic Lamp and Jenna Beltran, Samuel Moore, Paul Ross, Diana Schoenfield and Bianca Vallar (United States), along with Kalila Hermant (Belgium), as ensemble dancers. 

The creative team consists of Daniel Fortin as Vice President Creation, Manuel Bissonnette as Creative Director, James Hadley as Stage Director & Writer, Genevieve Lizotte as Set Designer & Art Director, Edesia Moreno as Acrobatic Choreographer & Performance Designer, Vinh Nguyen Kinjaz as Choreographer, Jean-Phi Goncalves as Musical Composer, James Lavoie as Costume Designer, Maryse Gosselin as Make-Up Designer, Nicolas Brion as Light Designer, and Ben Scheff as Sound Designer. The show is produced by Jayna Neagle  under the helm of Cirque du Soleil Producer Marie-Josee Adam and Chief Executive Producer Yasmine Khalil.

“We are so excited to announce our cast and creative team for ‘Twas the Night Before…, and can’t wait to showcase their talents upon the stage in Chicago this holiday season,” said Khalil. “Featuring original acrobatics, spectacular choreography, dazzling costumes, and familiar music sure to strike an emotional chord,  ‘Twas is a completely new experience that brings families together to celebrate the holiday spirit.”

“We are thrilled to share with audiences the premiere of ‘Twas the Night Before…, an all-new family production, as this classic Christmas story is brought to life onstage through the creative lens of Cirque du Soleil,” said Darren Pfeffer, executive vice president, MSG Live, The Madison Square Garden Company.  “Through the visionaries behind the creative team coupled with the incredible artistry of the performers, we look forward to delivering an unforgettable production for families this holiday season that can only be seen at our venues: The Chicago Theatre and Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.”

For more information and tickets to ‘Twas the Night Before… at The Chicago Theatre, visit or call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or the Ticketmaster Box Office at The Chicago Theatre. Box Office hours are Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tickets starting at $30. Groups of ten or more please call 773-327-3778; discounts available for groups of 20 or more. Service charges apply to telephone, internet and box office pick-up orders. Accessible and companion seats are available via the Disabled Services Department at 888-609-7599.

About Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group
‘Twas the Night Before… is the 49th original production of Cirque du Soleil, part of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is a world leader in live entertainment. On top of producing world-renowned circus arts shows, the Canadian organization brings its creative approach to a large variety of entertainment forms such as multimedia productions, immersive experiences, theme parks and special events. It currently has 4,500 employees from nearly 70 countries. Going beyond its various creations, Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group aims to make a positive impact on people, communities and the planet with its most important tools: creativity and art. For more information about Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, please visit

About The Madison Square Garden Company
The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) is a world leader in live sports and entertainment experiences.  The company presents or hosts a broad array of premier events in its diverse collection of iconic venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; and The Chicago Theatre.  Other MSG properties include legendary sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA) and the New York Rangers (NHL); two development league teams –  the Westchester Knicks (NBAGL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL); and esports teams through Counter Logic Gaming, a leading North American esports organization, and Knicks Gaming, MSG’s NBA 2K League franchise.  In addition, the Company features the popular original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces New England’s preeminent Boston Calling Music Festival.  Also under the MSG umbrella is TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group with globally-recognized entertainment dining and nightlife brands: Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, Beauty & Essex and Vandal.  More information is available at