Wednesday, February 27, 2019

OPENING: Little Shop of Horrors at Mercury Theater March 1 through April 28, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
March 1 through April 28

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS has long been one of my favorite musicals and I can't wait to see Mercury Theater's unique take on this classic. My son and I are beyond excited to be catching the press opening Sunday, March 10th, so check back soon for my full review. This is a great pick for multigenerational appeal.

Seymour Krelborn is in search of an escape from his poverty-stricken life on an urban skid-row. He discovers a mysterious carnivorous plant, which survives on human blood.  This man-eating plant quickly blossoms into a fully-fledged local attraction and propels Seymour to success. Before long, Seymour discovers the plant’s extra-terrestrial roots and its’ ultimate desire for world domination.

This hit sci-fi musical has devoured the hearts of audiences around the world for more than 30 years, following the story of floral assistant who stumbles across a new breed of carnivorous plant that promises to grant him fame, fortune and all his desires – as long as the blood keeps flowing. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS will feature the creative talents of Walter Stearns (Director), Eugene Dizon (Musical Director) and Christopher Carter (Choreographer)

Walter Stearns, Executive Director of Mercury Theater Chicago, announced the cast and creative team of the upcoming LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, running on the main stage from March 1 through April 28. 

Leading the cast of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is Christopher Kale Jones as Seymour, Dana Tretta as Audrey and Tommy Novak as Mr. Mushnik.  LITTLE SHOP also features Shantel Cribbs (Chiffon), Nicole Lambert (Crystal), Adhana Reid (Ronnette), David Sajewich (Dr. Orin and Everyone Else), Jonah Winston (Audrey II Voice) and Sam Woods (Audrey II Puppet). The creative team includes Walter Stearns (director), Eugene Dizon (Musical Director), Christopher Carter (Choreographer), Alan Donahue (Set Designer), Scott Deter Flores* (Assistant Stage Manager), Kristof Jarezic (Lighting Designer), Kristi J. Martens* (Production Stage Manager), Serena Sandoval (Costume Designer) and Carl Wahlstrom (Sound Designer).

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin) are the creative geniuses behind what has become one of the most popular shows in the world. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is based on a Roger Corman thriller from the 1960’s (which featured a young Jack Nicholson).  As a musical it has delighted and enthralled audiences since it’s opening off-Broadway in 1982. The original production won several awards, including the 1982–1983 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, and the Outer Critics Circle Award. 

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS runs from March 1 through April 28. The press opening is Sunday, March 10 at 7:30pm. The performance schedule is Wednesdays at 8pm, Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5pm and 8:30pm and Sundays at 3pm. Individual tickets range from $35-$65 and are available online at, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at the Mercury Theater box office at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago.


CHRISTOPHER KALE JONES* (Seymour) is thrilled to be making his acting debut at Mercury Theater Chicago, revisiting a role he first tackled at famed Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. Perhaps best known for playing Frankie Valli in the 1st National Tour of Jersey Boys (including a Tonight Show appearance), Chris's other favorite roles include Chris in Miss Saigon (Foothills Theatre), Sebastian in Twelfth Night (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre) and Mercury in Olympus on my Mind (Bristol Riverside Theatre). Chicago-area credits include: Miracle on 34th St. (Theatre at the Center), The Ballad of Little Jo (Steppenwolf), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), The King and I and 2018’s Jeff-award winning production of Ragtime (Marriott Theatre). Also, a recording artist, Chris recorded four albums and toured internationally with his former band, PBS sensation “Under the Streetlamp”. Chris is a graduate of Northwestern, a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association, and thankful to be partnered with Gray Talent Group. Love to his wife and original Audrey, actress Jenna Coker-Jones, and of course to his little Audrey II, daughter Presley Rose Jones.  Last year, Chris partnered with Mercury Theater Chicago to record his latest album DARIN: Live at the Mercury, a celebration of the hits of Bobby Darin.

DANA TRETTA* (Audrey) returns to the Mercury Theater Chicago, having last appeared as Gilda Radner in Bunny Bunny. Other Chicago theatre credits include work with TimeLine Theatre (In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, Fiorello!), Paramount Theatre (Hair, A Christmas Story), About Face Theatre (The Homosexuals, We Three Lizas), Porchlight Music Theatre (A Class Act, Mack and Mabel), Marriott Theatre (Wizard of Oz, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Writers Theater (The Frog Prince), Route 66 Theatre (High Fidelity), Griffin Theatre (Company), Theo Ubique (Cabaret, Some Enchanted Evening),The House Theatre (Rose and the Rime), and Boho Theatre (The Glorious Ones, Pippin - Non-Equity Jeff Award). Dana is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.

JONAH WINSTON* (Audrey II - Voice) is overjoyed to be returning to The Mercury Theatre Chicago where he was recently seen as Trekkie Monster in the Mercury's smash hit production of Avenue Q! Fresh off of his performance as Little John in The Cleveland Playhouse's production of Ken Ludwig's Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood in Cleveland, Ohio, some of Jonah's favorite Chicago credits include: Mr. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), the Maître d' in The Merry Widow (Lyric Opera of Chicago), and Newt Lee/Riley in Parade (Writers Theatre). Jonah has also worked regionally at The Indiana Repertory Theatre, The Green House Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Porchlight Music Theatre, American Blues Theatre, and Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre. Television and Voice Over credits include Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Senor Wolley, Skittles, Kool Aid, and Nestle. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Jonah holds duel bachelor's degrees in Theatre Performance and Vocal Music from the Butler University Jordan College of the Arts, as well as a Master of Letters Degree from the Flinders University Drama Center in Adelaide, South Australia.

SAM WOODS (Audrey II - Puppet) is overjoyed to be returning to Mercury Theater Chicago after spending time with them on Avenue Q understudying Princeton and Nicky! Some of his favorite regional credits include: Ali Hakim in Oklahoma! (Crane River Theatre Co.), Warner in Legally Blonde: The Musical (Paul Bunyan Playhouse), Mercutio in an immersive re-telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Jamie Wyeth in Nureyev's Eyes, both with the Bluebarn Theater. When not performing theatre, Sam can be found improvising with his team Hero's Journey or writing his next play or sketch.  

TOMMY NOVAK* (Mr. Mushnik) is thrilled to be making their Mercury Theater Chicago debut with Little Shop of Horrors after returning from an international directorial debut in Jinan, China, where they directed a production of Peter Pan, and embarking on a tour of China with a production of Seussical. Select Chicago credits include: Hairspray (Skylight Music Theater), Do Re Mi and Billy Elliot (Porchlight) and Robin Hood at First Stage.

NICOLE LAMBERT (Crystal) Nicole Lambert is thrilled to be making her Mercury debut. Her favorite Chicago credits include: Sour Kangaroo in Seussical (Marriott Theater); Ensemble in Memphis (Porchlight Theater); Daniella u/s and Ensemble in In the Heights (Porchlight Music Theater); Jennifer in Creatives (Chicago Workshop Theater); Peggy in Godspell (St. Sebastian Players); Mimi in Rent (Bright Side Theater); Carmen in Fame the Musical (Real Clear Theater). Nicole received her training from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

ADHANA REID (Ronnette) is a recent graduate of Northwestern University where she focused on studying musical theatre and marketing. She is thrilled to be making her debut at Mercury Theater Chicago with this talented cast and crew of Little Shop of Horrors. Chicago credits include Fantastic Mr. Fox (Emerald City Theatre); Eclipsed (Pegasus Theatre); Big River (Theatre at the Center); Stick Fly; Sweet Charity (Northwestern University); and Spring Awakening (Marriott Theatre).

SHANTEL CRIBBS (Chiffon) is excited to make her Mercury Theater Chicago debut. Chicago credits include: Beauty and the Beast (Silly Girl, Ensemble, Babette u/s) at Drury Lane Theatre; Memphis (Ethel, Ensemble, Felicia u/s, Jeff nominated) at Porchlight Music Theatre; Marie Christine (Women 2, Beatrice, Marie Christine u/s, Jeff nominated) at BoHo Theatre; Hairspray (Dynamite) at Windy City Music Theatre. Shantel worked with Chet Walker at The School at Jacob’s Pillow where she performed in A Jazz Happening at Ted Shawn Theatre. Shantel is a proud Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit alum. Shantel received her BFA degree in musical theatre performance from Columbia College Chicago in 2017.

About the Creative Team of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS:

L. WALTER STEARNS (Director) As Executive Director of Mercury Theater Chicago, Walter is a champion for Chicago artists and productions and has overseen the physical and cultural revival of a beautiful theatre. He has directed over 40 musicals including his Jeff Award-winning productions of The Addams Family and Ragtime as well as the Jeff Award nominated productions of Mary Poppins, The Producers, The Addams Family, Avenue Q, The Color Purple, Barnum-The Circus Musical, The Christmas Schooner, Nine the Musical, Ragtime, Gypsy, The Secret Garden, Sweeney Todd, Company, A New Brain, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along and Falsettos. He was pleased to produce The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, which was awarded the Jeff Award for New Work. Most recently, he opened the new Venus Cabaret Theater with Stephen Sondheim’s Company and Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin. Walter has received the Jeff Award, BroadwayWorld Award, After Dark Awards, the Larry Sloan Advocate Award (for his support of Season of Concern), the first Guy Adkins award for his contributions to the art of musical theatre and the Franny Award as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

EUGENE DIZON (Musical Director) is thrilled to be collaborating with this talented cast and crew of Little Shop of Horrors. Eugene has been musical directing for over two decades garnering 6 Jeff Awards (Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, Amadeus, Company, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along), Jeff nominations for A Grand Night for Singing, Candide, Nine the Musical, Closer Than Ever, A Little Night Music, Passion, Colette Collage, Falsettos; 4 After Dark Awards (Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, A New Brain, Merrily We Roll Along), and BroadwayWorld nominations for Company, Hair, Mary Poppins, The Color Purple. Additionally, he has musical directed Pippin, The Producers and Barnum at the Mercury. He is honored to have been inducted into the Chicago Filipino Hall of Fame. Eugene has co-produced 6 “Season of Carols” CD’s (with Cory Goodrich) which features some of the brightest talent in Chicago theater today, for which Season of Concern awarded him the 2013 Larry Sloan Advocate Award and the Season of Concern 2018 Larry Sloan Legacy Award for consistently and passionately being a trailblazer on behalf of Season of Concern.

CHRIS CARTER (Choreographer) is thrilled to return to Mercury Theater Chicago with Little Shop of Horrors. Selected credits include: Hair (Mercury Theater Chicago); Memphis. Dreamgirls, In the Heights and the Porchlight Revisits productions of They’re Playing Our Song and Chess (Porchlight Music Theatre); Five Guys Named Moe (Court Theater); The Legend of Georgia McBride (Northlight Theater); and Sweeney Todd, Godspell, The Secret Garden, Pirates of Penzance (Grand Valley State University); Show Boat, Oklahoma (Lyric Opera Chicago); Show Boat (San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera); Hairspray (Drury Lane Oakbrook); Duke Ellington’s Queenie Pie (Chicago Opera Theater); Oliver, Carousel, Brigadoon (Music Theatre Works); The Wiz, 42nd Street, Guys and Dolls (Theatre at the Center); Smokey Joe’s Café (Circle Theatre); The Wild Party (Actor's Theater). Chris has been the choreographer for the Grand Rapids Civic's SRT for the past five years. He was a Debbie Allen Dance Academy Scholarship student and has additional credits including national tours, commercial, industrial and concert work.

About Mercury Theater Chicago
The beautifully renovated Mercury Theater Chicago is located in the heart of the Southport Corridor at 3745 North Southport Avenue, within a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from Wrigley Field. A delightful destination, Mercury Theater Chicago is a live-theater seating 290 people, adjoining Venus Cabaret Theater (seating 80). Guests are taken care of from the moment they arrive with valet service and luxe farm-to-table dining at its adjoining restaurant, Grassroots.


ChiIL Mama’s Chi, IL Picks List


**Ages 3+**

Emerald City Theatre Concludes Their 2018 – 2019 Season with the Stage Adaptation of Don Freeman’s Best-Selling Children’s Book Corduroy 

Enter Below
One of ChiIL Mama's lucky readers will
APRIL 20, 2019
Winner can select from any of the following performances to attend: 
Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m., Friday, 
April 19 at 10:30 a.m., or Saturday, April 20 at 10:30 a.m. 

Emerald City Theatre (ECT) concludes its 2018 – 2019 Season this spring with the Chicago premiere of Corduroy, a new stage adaptation by Barry Kornhauser of Don Freeman’s classic books, directed by ECT Artistic Associate Jamal Howard. Corduroy runs Friday, March 1 – Saturday, April 20 at the Athenaeum Theatre Main Stage, 2936 N Southport Ave. 

Previews are Friday, March 1 at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday, March 2 at 10:30 a.m. Regular performance times post opening are Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. with additional performances on Sunday, April 14 at 2 p m. and Friday, April 19 at 10:30 a.m. prices are $22-$29. Tickets may be purchased at or through the Athenaeum Theatre box office at 773.935.6875. Visit for more information.  Educators may visit or call 773.529.2690 to book a field trip that includes a performance and companion study guide.

“A bear. A button. A place to belong.” A small bear’s quest for a missing button leads to the friendship of a lifetime. The department store comes to life with circus elements and physical comedy as Corduroy must stay a step ahead of the Night Watchman to be ready for Lisa when she returns to the store. Learn the importance of empathy and unconditional love along with a young girl and her mother in this sweet adaptation of the beloved book by Don Freeman. Corduroy is a Chicago premiere and a playful adventure that will delight ages three years and older.

“I am delighted to present this wonderfully talented group of performers for our production of Corduroy,” says Mr. Howard, ECT Artistic Associate. “This cast will use clowning, physical comedy, and other circus elements to bring Don Freeman’s iconic book to life for our youngest audiences in this ambitious Chicago premiere.”

The cast of Corduroy includes: Jean Claudio (Corduroy), Matt Miles (The Night Watchman), Tia Pinson (Lisa), Michelle Renee Thompson (Mother), Averis I. Anderson (Clown 1), Kelsey Shipley (Clown 2), Kirk Osgood (The Night Watchman/Clown 1 Understudy), Ellen DeSitter (Corduroy/Clown 2 Understudy), and Kianna Rose (Lisa/Mother Understudy).

The creative team also includes: Amanda Crockett, movement and circus director;  Jeffrey Kmiec, scenic designer; Jazmin Aurora Medina, costume designer;  Cat Wilson, lighting designer; Eric Backus, sound designer; Letitia Guillaud, props designer; Marika Mashburn , casting director and Marcus Carroll, stage manager. 

Emerald City Theatre (ECT) is Chicago’s largest theater for young audiences, reaching children 0 – 15-years-old through its three pillars of work: artistic, education, and outreach. Serving an average of over 60,000 children and their grown-ups annually, the company has created over 100 productions in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and Downtown Chicago. ECT was recently named “Chicago’s Best Children’s Theatre” by Make it Better magazine.

ECT also builds skills in children through its yearly camps, classes, and residencies – the largest theater arts education program in Chicago, serving over 64,000 students to date and an average of 200 schools annually. 

ECT’s signature outreach program, One Fund supports increased literacy among Chicago’s children by providing a free play and free companion book to low-resourced Chicago Public Schools students. In 2018, ECT provided 95,000 free books to CPS students in Kindergarten – 3rd grade as part of a partnership with Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House book series.

ECT's lead supporters include AMITA Health, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, KPMG, Illinois Arts Council, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, and The League of Chicago Theatres and ComEd’s Powering the Arts program. 

For more information, please visit

Enter HERE
One of ChiIL Mama's lucky readers will
APRIL 20, 2019
Winner can select from any of the following performances to attend: 
Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m., Friday, 
April 19 at 10:30 a.m., or Saturday, April 20 at 10:30 a.m. 


Disclosure: It's our pleasure to partner up with Emerald City Theatre once again, to offer a sweet giveaway for our readers. They have provided complimentary tickets for our giveaway.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

WIN 4 Tickets to Monster Jam® Triple Threat Friday, March 1st at Allstate Arena Chicago

Monster Jam® Triple Threat 
Returns to Rosemont 
The most family-friendly, action-packed motorsport in the world races into Allstate Arena, 
March 1-4


Enter Below For Your Chance to WIN a Family 4 Pack of Tickets 
to opening night of Monster Jam® Triple Threat at Allstate Arena, Friday March 1, 2019 from ChiIL Mama
Enter through midnight Tuesday, February 26th. Winner will be emailed and announced here and on our social media outlets. 

Here at ChiIL Mama we've had a blast at Monster Jam® for years. Check out my full set of original shots from Monster Jam® Triple Threat at Allstate Arena November 2, 2018 in the slideshow here. More favorites are embedded below:

Monster Jam® Triple Threat is terrific, gravity defying, all ages fun. Bring your earplugs (a must!), 

cell phones so you can vote in real time to pick the winners, and a wallet full of cash for souvenirs and concessions. Then check back soon for our opening night recap. 

Monster Jam® Triple Threat will veer into Rosemont’s Allstate Arena, March 1-4, promising adrenaline-charged, high-flying, four-wheel excitement that will bring motorsport fans to the edge of their seats.

Featuring the eight most intense athletes of Monster Jam, Chicago-area fans will witness a fierce battle for the championship with each competitor using customized high-powered vehicles: Monster Jam Speedsters, Monster Jam ATVs and the famous Monster Jam trucks. 

Vying to be the Chicago-area champion will be:
Grave Digger® – Brandon Vinson
El Toro Loco® – Mark List
ZombieSM – Ami Houde
Pirate’s Curse – Justin Hicks
Monster Mutt® Rottweiler – Cory Snyder
Blue Thunder – Matt Cody
Monster Energy – Coty Saucier
Soldier Fortune – Kayla Blood

Unexpected, unscripted and unforgettable, Monster Jam takes center stage in the world’s most iconic venues, sporting meticulously manicured dirt tracks created with the sole purpose of pushing these perfectly engineered, larger-than-life trucks to the limit.

Monster Jam is one of the only sports where male and female world-class drivers, some generational rivals, are equals competing for the same championship on the same track. Following racing, new this season across all Monster Jam events, fans in every city will have the chance to vote for the truck winner in the donut, wheelie and freestyle competitions by real-time, in-arena fan voting on their smartphones.

Show Times & Ticket Information
Friday, March 1 – 7 pm
Saturday, March 2 – 1 pm & 7 pm (Pit Party, 10:30 am - Noon)
Sunday, March 3 – 1 pm & 6:30 pm (Pit Party, 10:30 am - Noon)
Monday, March 4 – 7 pm

Monster Jam events are affordably priced for the whole family with seats starting at $20. Tickets are available at and all Ticketmaster retail locations, the Allstate Arena box office, and by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Pit Parties give fans the opportunity to meet the Monster Jam athletes and get up close to the Monster Jam trucks. Pit passes are priced at $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday, and can only be purchased in conjunction with tickets to the same-day Saturday or Sunday 1 pm show.

For more information on a Monster Jam near you, please log onto or follow us via our social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About Feld Entertainment, Inc.
Feld Entertainment® is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that uplift the human spirit and bring people together. Properties include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, Sesame Street Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! Across the brand portfolio, Feld Entertainment has entertained millions of families in more than 75 countries and on six continents. Visit for more information.



ENTER HERE For Your Chance to WIN a Family 4 Pack of Tickets 
to opening night of Monster Jam® Triple Threat at Allstate Arena, Friday March 1, 2019 from ChiIL Mama
Enter through midnight Tuesday, February 26th. Winner will be emailed and announced here and on our social media outlets. 

DISCLOSURE: ChiIL Mama has been pleased to partner up with FELD and Monster Jam for years now. They have provided complimentary tickets for our giveaway and for review purposes. As always, all opinions are our own.

WIN a Pair of Tickets ($100 value/2 winners ) to Bunraku-Style Pinocchio WORLD PREMIERE at THE HOUSE THEATRE OF CHICAGO MARCH 28 – MAY 19

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar


**This production is recommended for adults 
& those ages 11 years old and older.**

Enter Below for your chance to WIN a pair of tickets to The House Theatre's Pinocchio
(2 winners/$100 value a pair)
*Winners' choice of any date/time within the first two weeks of performances after opening (April 11-21 excluding April 14). 

April 11 8 p.m.
April 12 8 p.m. 
April 13 8 p.m. 
April 18 8 p.m.
April 19 8 p.m. 
April 20 8 p.m. 
April 21 3 p.m. 

MARCH 28 – MAY 19  

The Classic Tale of a Wooden Boy Will Be Brought To Life Through the Direction and Adaption of Company Members Chris Mathews, Joseph Steakley, and Ben Lobpries 

I'll be ChiILin' with The House Theatre of Chicago at the Pinocchio press opening April 7th with the whole family. We can't wait to see their unique take on this classic. Enter our giveaway through 3/31/19 and check back after 4/7/19 for my full review. Our 2 winners will be announced on April Fools Day, no lyin'. 

The House Theatre of Chicago continues their 2018 -2019 season with the beloved tale of Pinocchio at The Chopin Theatre upstairs theatre, 1543 W. Division, March 28 – May 19. This world premiere of the classic story inspired by the works of Carlo Collodi has been adapted for the stage by Company Members Joseph Steakley and Ben Lobpries. The House Theatre of Chicago’s rendition of Pinocchio features the direction of Company Member Chris Mathews. Previews take place Thursday, March 28 at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 30 at 8 p.m., Sunday, March 31 at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 4 at 8 p.m., Friday, April 5 at 8 p.m. 

The regular performance schedule is Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Preview tickets are $20 with regular run tickets $30 – $50. Student and industry same-day discounted tickets are available for $20 for all dates, based on availability. Tickets may be purchased by calling 773.769.3832 or by visiting

The House brings to life this tall tale about telling the truth. Carved from an enchanted stump in a charred forest, toyshop owner Geppeto's small puppet child flourishes. The growing Pinocchio devours books and the complex worlds they reveal. He relishes musicals and the emotional ride they offer. And he longs to sink his adolescent teeth into real relationships and conversations beyond the walls of his storefront home. But his protective father keeps Pinocchio's wild branches trimmed back, and forbids venturing out. A method sure to inspire rebellion in this precocious, curious not-quite-real young man. 

Pinocchio will be portrayed by a Bunraku-style puppet, created and crafted by Tom Lee of Chicago Puppet Studios. 

Funny, imaginative, and moving, Pinocchio explores how the lies we tell ourselves hurt those we love. 

(Top Row, L to R): Molly Brennan, “Geppetto;” David Corlew, “U/S Geppetto & Doohickey;” Carley Cornelius, “Kitty;” Sean Garratt, “Pinocchio;” Jenni M. Hadley, “U/S Miss Patty & Blue Fairy;” Brent LeBlanc, “U/S Pinocchio;” Mike Mazzocca, “Bangon & U/S Dingo;”

(Bottom Row, L to R): Karissa Murrell Myers, “Blue Fairy;” Tina Muñoz Pandya, “YimYam & U/S Kitty;” Christine Mayland Perkins, “Miss Penny;” Brandon Rivera, “Romeo;” Omer Abbas Salem, “Dingo;” Steven Romero Schaeffer, “U/S YimYak, Bangon and Romeo;” Kevin Stangler, “Doohickey”

The cast of Pinocchio features guest artist Sean Garratt, voicing and puppeteering PINOCCHIO. Garratt is a UK-born artist and was a co-deviser and puppeteer on multi-award-winning show The Table (Blind Summit) which appeared at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in 2015 and has toured to over 25 countries.

The cast also includes Company Members of The House Molly Brennan*+ as GEPPETTO, Kevin Stangler+ as DOOHICKEY, and Christine Mayland Perkins+ as MISS PENNY.  

Other guest artists include Mike Mazzocca as BANGON, Karissa Murrell Myers as BLUE FAIRY, Tina Muñoz Pandya as YIMYAM, Carley Cornelius as KITTY, Omer Abbas Salem as DINGO, and Brandon Rivera as ROMEO.

Understudies include Jenni M. Hadley, Brent LeBlanc, Steven Romero Schaeffer, and David Corlew.

The production and design team of Pinocchio includes Chris Mathews+, Director; Ben Lobpries+, Adaptor; Joseph Steakley+, Adaptor; Joe Schermoly^, Scenic Designer; Anna Wooden, Costume Designer; Alexander Ridgers, Lighting Designer; Kevin O'Donnell+, Sound Designer; Matthew Muñiz+, Composer; Chicago Puppet Studio, Puppet Designers; Kasey Foster, Choreographer; Marika Mashburn+, Director of Casting; Jamie Karas, Props Designer; and Brian DesGranges*+, Stage Manager.

+Company Member of The House Theatre of Chicago

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association

^Member of United Scenic Artists


Chris Mathews joined The House as a Company Member in 2002 after performing in their second show as “Curly” in The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan. In the time since he has served as a performer, playwright, dramaturg, carpenter, prop builder, grant writer, floor sweeper, water torture cell escape coach and every little thing in between. With fellow Company Members Jake Minton and Nathan Allen, Mathews has co-written Dave DaVinci Saves the Universe (Jeff Nomination New Work), The Sparrow (Jeff Award New Work), Rose and the Rime, and The Hammer Trinity. He served as the Director for The Nutcracker in 2017 and works regularly developing new works with Barrel of Monkeys and The Actor’s Gymnasium.


Joseph Steakley is a proud company member of The House and has been performing with them for 15 years. His acting credits include The Hammer Trinity, The Nutcracker, and The Great And Terrible Wizard of Oz. Pinocchio marks his first project as a writer, and he could not be more excited to share this story.


Ben Lobpries became a company member with The House in 2002 and appeared on stage in several early productions (most notably as “the gay cowboy” in San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid).  Since then he’s been working primarily as a writer.  Six of his plays have been produced in both Dallas and Chicago, and readings of his fiction have been performed in and around Boston.  He holds a BFA in Theatre Studies from Southern Methodist University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College.  Currently, he teaches in the First-Year Writing Program at DePaul University and lives with the hipsters in Logan Square.


Garratt is a classically and contemporary trained actor who specializes in puppetry, voice, and improvisation and is originally from the UK.  He is most renowned for the award-winning puppet show The Table by BlindSummit Theatre, which he co-devised and starred in and which has been touring for five years to over 25 different countries, and was seen at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in 2015.

Garratt has also worked with the National Theatre of Scotland, The Globe Theatre, Improbable Theatre, Familia del a Noche, and puppeteered at the world famous Bregenz Festival and the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. His credits in Chicago include Pug Cup with Nickelodeon, The Table with BlindSummit Theatre at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Rita at Chicago Opera Theatre, and most recently Atalanta helmed by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig and Jessica Thebus at the 2019 Chicago International Puppet Theatre Festival.

The House is Chicago's premier home for intimate, original works of epic story and stagecraft. Founded and led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago’s next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular artform.

The House was founded in 2001 by a group of friends to explore connections between Community and Storytelling through a unique theatrical experience. Since becoming eligible in 2004, The House has won 23 Joseph Jefferson Awards, became the first recipient of Broadway in Chicago’s Emerging Theater Award in 2007, and was awarded a 2014 National Theatre Company Grant by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. The 17th season of original work is underway and The House will continue its mission to unite Chicago in the spirit of Community through amazing feats of Storytelling.  

Enter HERE for your chance to WIN
a pair of tickets to The House Theatre's Pinocchio! (2 winners/$100 value a pair)
*Winners' choice of any date/time within the first two weeks of performances after opening (April 11-21 excluding April 14). 

April 11 8 p.m.
April 12 8 p.m. 
April 13 8 p.m. 
April 18 8 p.m.
April 19 8 p.m. 
April 20 8 p.m. 
April 21 3 p.m. 

Enter through midnight 3/31/19. Winner will be emailed and announced here and on our social media networks on April Fools Day... no lyin'.

Disclosure: It's been our pleasure to partner up with House Theatre on giveaways for our readers for years. They have given us complimentary tickets for our giveaway and for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, February 18, 2019

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Seussical the Musical (Win 4 Tickets $73 Value) at Marriott Theatre Through March 31, 2019

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List

Photo by Kimberly Robb Baker 

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


Oh, the Thinks you can think... when you think about Seuss!

Enter below for your chance to win 4 Tickets 
($73 Value)

Guest Review
by kimberly robb baker

You’ll enjoy Seussical the Musical, but I recommend you do some curating for your young theatre companions if you want them to enjoy it too.

Let’s start with what’s awesome about this show. Billed as a mashup of a few Seuss classics, Horton Hears a Who with a side of Horton Hatches the Egg form the backbone of the story.

The production, from Tony-award-winning creators Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, was a fun romp through the fantastical. This production, directed and choreographed by William Carlos with musical direction by Patti Garwood felt extravagant. The experience was made rich with gorgeous songs and choreography performed by a talented, committed cast. In contrast, set and costumes were thoughtfully minimalist. For example, Horton’s “elephant-ness” was hinted at with his gray overalls and earflap hat, along with some cool staging that, at one point, had nearly the whole cast acting as his “trunk” and the only thing overtly cat-like about the Cat in the Hat was his tail. The trio of Wickersham brothers used vocalizations and movement to indicate their species: monkey.

Evan Tyrone Martin has a beautiful voice and brings Horton’s loyal steadfastness into vivid relief. Scott McDermott as JoJo, misunderstood child and thinker of thinks, perfectly embodies the courage of a young black sheep with a powerful singing voice. The entire ensemble was delightful, and Nicole Kyoung Mi Lambert deserves special recognition for being the sauciest, sourest of kangaroos. Her righteous indignation and impressive blues chops resulted in a performance reminiscent of Mabel King’s Wicked Witch of the West.

All that said, I wish I’d known more about the production before bringing my four-year-old. His Seuss favorites (Fox in Sox, Mr. Brown, Wocket in My Pocket) didn’t happen to be among the works incorporated. Because so much of what happened relied on young audience members having knowledge of the books being covered and/or the ability to extrapolate that three grown men hopping about stage might be monkeys or that the happenings of Planet Who are all coming from an artfully illuminated speck of dust, my son was lost and started asking to leave about midway through.

To be clear, I’m glad I brought him to the show. It’s great for children to learn that art doesn’t have to be literal and to begin thinking in broader terms about storytelling. But his experience would have been better had we boned up on the Horton books beforehand.

Bottom line: I enjoyed myself, and my son had new ingredients to throw into the mixing pot of his own development. Certainly, audiences of all ages will relate to themes of loyalty, imagination and chosen family.

Photo by Kimberly Robb Baker 

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:

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

The fantastical, magical musical smash hit Seussical comes to life at Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences, 10 Marriott Drive in Lincolnshire, running February 8 through March 31, 2019 with a press opening on Saturday, February 16 at 10:00 a.m. Created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (the Tony Award-winning team behind the acclaimed musicals Ragtime and Once on this Island), the whimsical production is based on more than 14 beloved stories by children’s author Dr. Seuss. Seussical is directed and choreographed by William Carlos Angulo, with musical direction by Patti Garwood.

“This production of Seussical certainly will not look like any production Chicago has seen before,” says director William Carlos Angulo. “In many instances, this adaptation restores a bit of magic in the way people see the world. We cannot wait to share this transformative experience with parents, children, and the theatre community.”

A pop musical for all ages, Seussical is an enchanting celebration of friendship, compassion, bravery, and the power of imagination. The show features elements from Dr. Seuss classics including The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, Horton Sits on the Egg, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, McElligot's Pool, and Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Join the mischievous Cat in the Hat as he narrates the story of Horton the Elephant and his friends as they embark on a fanciful journey from the Jungle of Nool, through the mountains, and across the ocean, to help a young thinker named Jojo bring harmony back to the tiny planet of Who. Along the way, meet zany Dr. Seuss characters including the tiny Whos, sour kangaroos, harmonizing birds, and trouble-making monkeys! 

Starring in Seussical are Evan Tyrone Martin as “Horton the Elephant,” Kelly Felthous as “Gertrude McFuzz,” Jonathan Butler-Duplessis as the “The Cat in the Hat,” Patrick Scott McDermott as “Jojo,” Nicole Kyoung Mi Lambert as “Sour Kangaroo,” and Michelle Lauto as “Mayzie”. The cast also stars Alejandro Fonseca, Ron King, Mallory Maedke, Samantha Pauly and Brandon Springman.
This production will feature lighting design by Greg Hofmann, costume design by Nancy Missimi, sound design by Robert E. Gilmartin and media design by Anthony Churchill.

Seussical runs on most Wednesdays through Sundays at 10 a.m. with certain performances at 12:30 p.m. Visit or call 847.634.0200 for exact schedule, as show times and dates may vary. Single ticket prices are $18.23 per person. Groups of 20 or more receive a discount by calling 847.634.5909. Free parking is available at all shows. To reserve tickets, call the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or visit

*Please note: Children under the age of 2 who sit on an adult's lap during a Theatre for Young Audiences performance will not need their own ticket.

*As a courtesy to our patrons, we do not allow children under age six, including infants, to be admitted to our Main Stage Productions. Thank you.

Mainstage Show Now Playing 
Through March 16, 2019:

Enter here for your chance to win 4 Tickets 
($73 Value)
Enter through midnight 2/24/19. Winner will be announced here and on our social media outlets. Tickets are good for the winners choice of show times/dates throughout the run of Seussical The Musical at Marriott. 

Disclosure: It's our pleasure at ChiIL Mama to partner up with Marriott Theatre once again. They have provided tickets for our giveaway and for review purposes. As always, all opinions are our own.