Wednesday, June 26, 2019

OPENING: Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents The Wizard of Oz July 6-August 25, 2019

ChiIL Mama’s Chi, IL Picks List:

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Navy Pier
for 75 minutes of Summer Fun

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents
The Wizard of Oz
July 6-August 25, 2019

Wednesdays at 11 a.m. & Thursdays-Sundays at 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Tickets start at $24

This summer, Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents the 75-minute musical stage adaptation of the timeless 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz, directed by Brian Hill and choreographed by Kenny Ingram. Based on the landmark novel by L. Frank Baum and featuring music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, The Wizard of Oz promises to be the perfect outing for audiences of all ages at Chicago Shakespeare's home on Navy Pier all summer long, July 6-August 25, 2019 with performances on Wednesdays at 11:00 a.m. and Thursdays-Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto are whisked away from Kansas on an unforgettable journey to the magical land of Oz, where she makes new friends--including Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion--and encounters a fiendishly wicked witch. Audiences will be dazzled by the spectacular setting and charmed by its timeless score featuring such cherished classics as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Follow the Yellow Brick Road"--ultimately discovering that there's truly no place like home.

The Wizard of Oz is directed by Brian Hill, who has served as associate director for Broadway's The Little Mermaid and the National Tours of Sunset Boulevard and The Sound of Music. An accomplished book writer, Hill has notably written numerous new musicals with composter/lyricist Neil Bartram, who is adapting orchestrations for the Chicago Shakespeare production. Bartram and Hill's joint credits include The Theory of Relativity, The Story of My Life (debuting on Broadway in 2009, and garnering four Drama Desk Award nominations), and The Adventures of Pinocchio, which premiered at Chicago Shakespeare in 2011. Joining Hill is choreographer Kenny Ingram, a multiple Jeff Award-winner, who returns to Chicago after fifteen years in the company of Broadway's The Lion King.

Taking on the role of Dorothy Gale is Leryn Turlington, who adventures in Oz alongside Marya Grandy (Hunk/Scarecrow), Joseph Anthony Byrd (Hickory/Tin Man), Jose Antonio Garcia (Zeke/Cowardly Lion)--as well as her canine companion Derby (Toto), in his stage debut. Appearing as the Wicked Witch of the West is twelve-time Jeff Award-winner Hollis Resnik (Miss Gulch/The Wicked Witch of the West). Also featured in the company are Emily Rohm (Aunt Em/Glinda), William Dick (Professor Marvel/The Wizard of Oz), and Jared D.M. Grant (Uncle Henry/Emerald City Guard). Rounding out the ensemble are Kayla Boye, Timothy P. Foszcz, Haley Gustafson, Aalon Smith, Lauren Smith, Anthony Sullivan, Jr., and Kaleb Van Rijswijck.

The production's Music Director is Kory Danielson, whose credits include The Little Mermaid, Mamma Mia!, and West Side Story at Paramount Theatre. The award-winning creative team features Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Costume Designer Theresa Ham, Lighting Designer Lee Fiskness, Sound Designer Christopher M. LaPorte, Projections Designer Mike Tutaj, and Chicago Shakespeare's resident Wig and Makeup Designer Richard Jarvie. Rounding out the creative team are Assistant Music Director and Conductor Kevin Reeks and Assistant Director and Assistant Choreographer Aaron Umsted.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents a wide range of accessible and affordable programming for multi-generational audiences. In addition to imaginative summer musicals at the Theater's home on Navy Pier, offerings year-round include Short Shakespeare! abridged versions of Shakespeare's classics and the FREE Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour to neighborhood parks throughout the city. These programs reach more than 100,000 patrons each season--making Chicago Shakespeare one of the largest providers of family programming in Chicago.

The Wizard of Oz

by L. Frank Baum
With Music & Lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
Background Music by Herbert Stothart
Dance and Vocal Arrangements by Peter Howard
Orchestration by Larry Wilcox
Adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company
Based upon the Classic Motion Picture by Turner Entertainment Co. and distributed in all media by Warner Bros.
Directed by Brian Hill
Choreographed by Kenny Ingram

July 6-August 25, 2019
at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier

Tickets: $24 for children 12 and under | $38 for adults
Special discounts available for groups of 10 or more
Box Office: 312.595.5600 | Group Sales: 312.595.5678


Wednesdays at 11:00 a.m.
Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Fridays at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
[No 2:00 p.m. performance on 7/6, 7/7, and 7/11.]
CST strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Accessible performances for The Wizard of Oz include:

ASL Duo-interpretation - Saturday, August 24, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.
All dialogue and lyrics are translated into American Sign Language by two certified interpreters.
Audio-description - Sunday, August 18, 2019 with optional touch tour at 11:00 a.m.

Audio Description is a program that enables patrons who are blind or have low vision to more fully experience live performances by providing spoken narration of a play's key visual elements. Touch Tours provide patrons who are blind or have low vision the opportunity to experience, firsthand, a production's design elements.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents The Wizard of Oz July 6–August 25, 2019 in the Courtyard Theater. Single tickets ($24 for children age 12 and under; $38 for adults) are on sale now. Special discounts will be available for groups of 10 or more. For more information, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater's website at

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be--a company that defies theatrical category. This Regional Tony Award-winning theater's year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances--including plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. Chicago Shakespeare is the city's leading presenter of international work, and has toured its own productions across five continents. The Theater's nationally acclaimed arts in literacy programs support the work of teachers, and bring Shakespeare to life on stage for tens of thousands of students annually. Each summer, the company tours a free professional production to neighborhood parks across Chicago. In 2017 the Theater unveiled The Yard, which, together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs, positions Chicago Shakespeare as Chicago's most versatile performing arts center.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

REVIEW: Next Door and Helga Through Sunday at Physical Theater Festival Chicago at Stage 773 Through June 9, 2019

Full Body Physical Theatre Takes Audience on a Journey that Spans Decades and Continents

Out of Balanz From Copenhagen, Denmark

by bonnie kenaz-mara

Next Door and Helga are a great pairing at Physical Theater Festival Chicago at Stage 773. Actors in both shows embody characters from youth, young adulthood, middle age, and the final, elderly years, in a stunning transformation. These actors are masters of comedic timing, amazing physical feats, and facial expressions that are beyond funny.

Henni Kervinen in Helga – the life of a diva extraordinare (Finland)

Next Door by Out of Balanz From Copenhagen, Denmark

Next Door celebrates interconnectedness and the friendships of neighbors from 10 year old boys to adults. Expect exciting sword fights, a harrowing adventure at sea, skateboarding, biking, memorabilia, and an epic death scene. With a dynamic duo from Finland and Denmark, Next Door is a hilarious exploration of the universal nature of human connections and missed connections, as well as a fun glimpse into Nordic life. This is physical, comedic storytelling at its best. 

Delightful diva in decline, Helga is performed to perfection by Finnish circus artist Henni Kervinen. I want to hang out with this booze swilling, espresso lovin' curmudgeon, and hear no nonsense wisdom and tales of her glory days. This act includes a full on flashback trapeze act and burlesque tease from a Helga at the height of her youth as well as the same act, repeated in present day. Expect aerial arts, early parenthood, the cat lady who raised a beast, prepping for company and an interesting array of costume choices.

We adored these celebrations of life experience, characters, and everyday moments from the mundane to the monumental. Highly recommended. 

Here at ChiIL Mama, we're huge, lifelong fans of circus arts and physical comedy in the art of storytelling on stage. We're thrilled to be catching 10 days of world class physical theatre right here in Chicago at Physical Fest at Stage 773 and Chopin Theatre. Check out the full schedule and show details here:

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: (adult) & (family friendly). 

Next Door by Multi-award winning 
Danish company Out of Balanz

By Out of Balanz
From Copenhagen, Denmark
Friday, May 31 at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 1 at 9 p.m., Sunday,
June 2 at 2 p.m.
60 minutes
For ages 12 and up

*Parents: Sunday, June 2, 2 p.m. is Sitter Sunday. Come for the show, teaching staff from Willow Tree Child Care will watch your kids, ages potty trained and up. See website for details.

Multi-award winning Danish company Out of Balanz returns to Chicago with their critically acclaimed Next Door. The stand-out smash hit of Chicago’s first Physical Theater Festival in 2014 is back by popular demand to re-celebrate physical comedy, active imaginations and the importance of relationships.

When Ivan Hansen’s neighbor passes away suddenly, Ivan realizes he doesn’t know anything about him. In Next Door, intimate storytelling and high-octane physical theater explore what it is that really connects us.

Next Door captured First Prize and Audience Prize at the Birmingham European Theatre Festival 2013 and Best Male Performers at Kosovo’s Skena Up International Festival. The Copenhagen Post called it “imaginative and groundbreaking…an unforgettable journey into the human psyche.” The Scotsman found it “irresistible.”

Founded in 2006, Out of Balanz is an award-winning international theater ensemble based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognized for their highly collaborative creative process and for producing original work rich in spectacle and adventurous in form, Out of Balanz has created over a dozen original works and toured to 16 different countries in Europe, North America and Asia (including such venues as The John Houseman Theatre off-Broadway, The Barbican in London and at the first-ever Physical Theater Festival Chicago.) The company was named one of the 13 most innovative physical theater companies in the world, alongside such prestigious companies as The SITI Company and DV8, by For more, visit

Henni Kervinen in 
Helga – the life of a diva extraordinare (Finland)

Helga – life of a diva extraordinaire
By Henni Kervinen, directed by Jenni Kallo
From Finland
Friday, May 31 at 9 p.m.; Saturday, June 1 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, June 2 at 5 p.m.
60 minutes
For ages 10 and up

A new cabaret diva extraordinaire is here! Poignant, melancholy mime, clowning circus skills and physical comedy make up the wordless story of Helga. Tragedy and comedy meet as Helga invites us into her world, from the mundane details of her day to the fabulous memories of her life.

Helga is skillfully performed by Finnish circus artist Henni Kervinen and directed by Jenni Kallo, Artistic Director of the renowned Kallo Collective (Only Bones, Edinburgh Fringe 2016). called Helga 'absurd comedy and sparkling wit…', with an Edinburgh Fringe Fest fan hitting the nail on the head with "only the Finns can make humor out of melancholy as fabulously as this.” For more, visit

Note: Helga is silent, no interpreter needed, making it appropriate for audiences that are deaf or hard of hearing.

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar


Check out the full Physical Festival schedule and show details here: