Wednesday, January 29, 2020

REVIEW: Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors at Chicago Shakespeare Theater Through February 29, 2020

75-minute comedy is perfect introduction to Shakespeare for audiences of all ages

Saturdays at 11:00am, January 25–February 29, 2020

Guest Review 
By Kimberly Robb Baker

What a gift it was to enjoy Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors from a cast that was so clearly connected to each other, the material, and the audience. Deftly adapted by David H. Bell, the 75-minute rendition felt complete and engaged our audience of children and adults from pre-show antics to closing bows.

 Mistaken identities abound as two sets of long-lost twins—Dromio of Ephesus (Sam Linda, far left) and Dromio of Syracuse (Ian Maryfield, far right) and Antipholus of Ephesus (Casey Hoekstra, center left) and Antipholus of Syracuse (Adam Wesley Brown, center right)—cross paths on one bewildering day. All Photos by Liz Lauren.

Directed originally by Bell and on this stage by Eli Newell, the talented cast helped us understand and enjoy The Bard, with many moments of bated breath and uproarious laughter. There was not a single weak link in costuming, lighting, set, sound, or performance.

Adriana (Nora Carroll, at left) shares a moment with her sister Luciana (Phoebe González, at right) before mistaken identities threaten to pull them apart. 

Shakespeare being a product of his time, there is plenty of sexism and gender conformity built into the play, but Nora Carroll as an Adriana, Lillian Castillo as both Amelia and an empowered sex worker of a courtesan, and Phoebe González as Luciana all inhabit their roles and interpret their lines with such power that I could be convinced the Bard had a feminist bent.

The two sets of twins and the rest of the versatile cast, including the lusty kitchen wench Luce who chases her mate’s lookalike all over the theater to much hilarity, make every moment of the play perfect. As a bonus, it’s set in the WPA era with back story and costume to match—a fun shift for Shakespeare.

 An infuriated Antipholus of Ephesus (Casey Hoekstra) is detained by the officers (Samuel Douglas, Dan Plehal, Jack D. Olin)

In short, whether you’re young or old, a Shakespeare newbie or seasoned connoisseur, get thee to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. This new take on an old goodie will not disappoint.

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:

 The Bumbellini (Jack D. Olin, Dan Plehal, Samuel Douglas) delight audiences with acrobatics and slapstick antics

Spend your Saturday with Shakespeare:
Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents


Chicago Shakespeare Theater invites audiences to spend their Saturday with Shakespeare in this cleverly abridged, 75-minute production of Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors on Saturdays at 11:00am, January 25–February 29, 2020 in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Filled to the brim with acrobatics and mayhem, the hilarity and hijinks of Shakespeare's comedy are larger-than-life in this vibrant and fast-paced production, making it the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for audiences of all ages.

 Mistaking him for her husband, Adriana (Nora Carroll) makes romantic advances towards a befuddled Antipholus of Syracuse (Adam Wesley Brown)—as Dromio of Syracuse (Ian Maryfield) looks on aghast 

Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors is directed by Eli Newell, with adaptation and original direction by David H. Bell. After each performance, the actors remain on stage for a question-and-answer session before joining the audience in the Lobby to mingle and take photos. Tickets start at just $24 for students ages 18 and under.

The story unfolds when Antipholus and his lifelong companion Dromio find themselves in Ephesus as they search the world over for a twin, lost in infancy. Everywhere they go in this foreign land, complete strangers insist that they’re best of friends. Is everyone here quite mad? Mistaken identities abound, as one bewildering day in Ephesus makes for hysterical complications—and a bewitching theatrical experience.

The company of The Comedy of Errors features Adam Wesley Brown (Antipholus of Syracuse), Nora Carroll (Adriana), Lillian Castillo (Troupe Manager/Courtesan/ Emilia), Samuel Douglas (Second Merchant/Hamlet/Waiter), Phoebe González (Luciana), Casey Hoekstra (Antipholus of Ephesus), Sam Linda (Dromio of Ephesus), Ian Maryfield (Dromio of Syracuse), Jack D. Olin (Waiter/Messenger/Jailer), Dan Plehal (First Merchant/Officer/Waiter), Nima Rakhshanifar (Angelo), Drew Shirley (Egeon/Luce/Dr. Pinch), and Laurence Stepney (Duke of Ephesus/ Balthazar).

Creating the world of The Comedy of Errors are Original Scenic Designer Tom Burch with Additional Scenic Elements by Alan E. Schwanke, Costume Designer Ana Kuzmanic, Lighting Designer Michelle E. Benda, Sound Designer Eric Backus, and Wig and Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie. Also joining Newell on the creative team are Composer Jonathan Bauerfeld and Verse Coach Chaon Cross, as well as Assistant Director Megan Gray, Intimacy Choreographer Tristin Hall, Movement Coach Max Fabian, and Movement Assistant Wesley Truman Daniel.

In addition to public performances on Saturdays, Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors will welcome 30,000 students during its six-week run of weekday matinees in The Yard, followed by a two-week tour to schools across the region through March 12, 2020.

Chicago Shakespeare’s Short Shakespeare! series is part of the Theater’s nationally recognized Team Shakespeare education programs, which have impacted two million students to date. Chicago Shakespeare brings Shakespeare’s work to life in the school curriculum—through live performance, professional learning for educators, comprehensive teaching resources, and opportunities for students to perform Shakespeare. These initiatives—in concert with the free citywide Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour and summer family musical series—exemplify the Theater’s steadfast commitment to young audiences and ensure that one in four audience members is age 18 or under.

Chicago Shakespeare strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. 

Accessible performances for Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors include:

Audio-described Performance – Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 11:00am
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.

ASL Duo-interpreted Performance – Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 11:00am
All dialogue and lyrics are translated into American Sign Language by two certified interpreters.

Open-captioned Performances – Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 11:00am
A text display of the words and sounds heard during a play, synced live with the action onstage.

Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors will be presented on Saturdays at 11:00am from January 25–February 29, 2020 in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, Single tickets ($24 for audience members age 18 and under; $36 for adults) are on sale now. Special discounts will be available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

Clutching his twin sons, Egeon (Drew Shirley, at center) fears for his life during a storm at sea as the crew (from left to right: Dan Plehal, Nora Carroll, Laurence Stepney) abandon ship

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.

A company of traveling players comes together to present Shakespeare’s riotous comedy  in Chicago Shakespeare’s 75-minute abridged production of Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors, directed by Eli Newell with adaptation and original direction by David H. Bell, on Saturdays at 11:00am, January 25–February 29, 2020. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Review of PlayMakers Laboratory’s THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Travels Through Time

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List
PlayMakers Laboratory Presents
Travels Through Time
Directed by Artistic Director Brandon Cloyd
January 19 – February 16, 2020 at the Neo-Futurist Theater

An Original Sketch Show that is Written by Kids, 
Performed by Grownups, and Enjoyed by Humans

Tom Malinowski, Nancy Casas and Jasmine Henri-Jordan perform “Pizza People” in PlayMakers Laboratory’s revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Travels Through Time. All Photos by Evan Hanover.

Guest Review
By Catherine Hellmann

“It’s better than online dating or doing your taxes!” 
---opening of the Barrel of Monkeys/PlayMakers Laboratory show

(Now known as PlayMakers Laboratory, Barrel of Monkeys is more fun to say...but I wasn’t consulted…) 

Now in its 18th year, THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA performances are inspired from creative writing workshops held in Chicago Public Schools by professional actors who take kids’ wacky ideas and set them to music and create crazy sketches. Shows are first performed in schools for the young authors, then are shared with the public at the Neo-Futurist Theater at 5153 N. Ashland. Like most improv, the scenes are very hit-or-miss, but the ones that are truly funny are absolutely hysterical and inspired. 

The original thoughts could only come from school children. It’s difficult to imagine a grown-up repeating that they “do NOT want to go to George Washington’s house!” “I do not want to go to his house!” “I don’t want manners!” “Do you have to like someone just because they are the President?” (Ok, I know a LOT of adults who actually wonder about that, especially in the last three years. Fair.) 

(pictured) The cast of PlayMakers Laboratory’s revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Travels Through Time performs “Me and George Washington.” 

The theme for the current show is Travels Through Time. An “Audience Member,” identified by his t-shirt that read “Audience Member,” was pulled from the audience to participate---luckily, he happened to have a “Flux Capacitor” on him (fun Back to the Future reference) to enable the time machine to activate! How lucky was that?!

(left to right) Ale Ramirez and Mary Tilden perform “Blast to the Past” 

(left to right) Elisa Carlson, Jasmine Henri-Jordan, Nic Park and Nancy Casas perform “Malcolm X and the Monster and Zombie Infection” 

Sketches run from Malcolm X fighting zombies, featuring the awesome line: “When your mind is a weapon, you are never unarmed!” to finding a child’s grave while “digging for treasure” and becoming cursed from the deceased. Some of the jokes are so quick and clever, it’s hard to keep track of them all. In one sketch, a couple had 8 babies, which were “conceived” by the two actors hilariously wagginging their tongues at each other and making gurgling noises. Single doll babies were tossed into the arms of the “mom,” for the first few, until a “bundle of babies” duct-taped together all appeared to add up to eight.

(pictured) The cast of PlayMakers Laboratory’s revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Travels Through Time perform “The Cowboys Who Fighted.” 

Two of the most clever sketches were “Lazy Jenny” and "Pizza People. Actress Mary Tilden manages to make this scenario about a girl who never leaves her house absurdly funny! The “Pizza People” from the US Olympic swim team who prove “you are what you eat” were another standout. 

(left to right) Elisa Carlson, Jasmine Henri-Jordan, Taylor Galloway and Mary Tilden perform “Lazy Jenny”   

(left to right) Tom Malinowski, Nancy Casas, Jasmine Henri-Jordan, Ale Ramirez and Nic Park perform “Pizza People”

Kids’ universal desire to be super heroes was the basis for another clever sketch as two boys prayed their thanks before dinner yet kept asking God for super hero traits, to their father’s growing consternation. They also thanked the Lord for things like “plastic” and “wool and other textiles.”   

The sketch that nearly made us cry from laughter involved a mad scientist who was creating an evil robot. He keeps being thwarted by three clowns/mimes who undermine him. (undermime him??) Taylor Galloway was an absolute hoot as the crazy scientist with his beeping machines and over-the-top sound effects and reactions. 

After the talented cast finished, audience members are asked to vote for their two favorite sketches they “can’t live without.” It was tough to narrow our choices down to only two. The winning sketches are kept in the show for the next rotation. Each performance changes, so it would be fun to see what the show looks like at the end of the run in mid-February. 

(left to right) Nic Park and Taylor Galloway perform “Blast to the Past” 

Directed by Artistic Director Brandon Cloyd, he joined the crowd in the audience and was laughing along with the rest of us. Those lucky students who have PML work with them must love having their stories brought to life. The entire crew must have a blast putting this delightful spectacle together, and it shows. Your whole family will get a kick out of this one. 

Catherine Hellmann wishes for two super never need sleep and to eat anything at all and never gain an ounce...

(center) Elisa Carlson and the cast of PlayMakers Laboratory’s revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Travels Through Time perform “Crazy Rockers.” 

PlayMakers Laboratory, formerly Barrel of Monkeys, is pleased to continue its 2019-20 season with THAT’S WEIRD GRANDMA: Travels Through Time, directed by Artistic Director Brandon Cloyd, playing Sundays at 3 pm from January 19 – February 16, 2020 at the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (773) 506-7140.

Journey with PlayMakers Laboratory as Grandma takes a time machine to visit student-written stories set in the past, present and future. Can Grandma repair the space-time continuum and return to the present? With the help of PML’s students’ stories, anything is possible. 

The cast includes Elisa Carlson, Nancy Casas, Taylor Galloway, Jasmine Henri-Jordan, Tom Malinowski, Nic Park, Ale Ramirez, Graig Tertulien, Mary Tilden and Rawson Vint.

(left to right) Elisa Carlson, Graig Tertulien and Jasmine Henri-Jordan perform “Pirate Time/Creepzy Queen Victoria!” 

(left to right) Mary Tilden, Taylor Galloway and Tom Malinowski perform “Pirate Time/Creepzy Queen Victoria!”

Now in its 18th year, THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA features adaptations of stories written during PlayMakers Laboratory’s creative writing residencies in Chicago elementary schools. PML’s ensemble of professional actors, comedians and musicians bring the young authors’ stories to life as raucous sketches, songs and movement pieces, performing first for students in their schools and then for the public. These stories – from hilarious dialogues between unlikely characters to poignant pleas for social change – resonate with adults while celebrating the imaginations of young people. Every week brings a new line-up of stories, and PML invites audiences to vote on their favorites at each performance.

(left to right) Nancy Casas and Mary Tilden perform “Johny’s Revenge and The Bull Boy” 


Title: THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Travels Through Time
Written by Chicago Elementary School Students
Adapted for the stage by PlayMakers Laboratory Company Members
Directed by Artistic Director Brandon Cloyd 
Cast: Elisa Carlson, Nancy Casas, Taylor Galloway, Jasmine Henri-Jordan, Tom Malinowski, Nic Park, Ale Ramirez, Graig Tertulien, Mary Tilden and Rawson Vint.

Location: Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago
Dates: Preview: Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 3 pm
Press performance: Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 3 pm 
Regular run: Sunday, February 2 – Sunday, February 16, 2020 
Curtain Times: Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets: Preview: $10 for adults, $5 children 12 and under, $8 groups of 10 or more. Regular run: $20 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under. Discounts: $12 for students with ID, seniors, veterans and groups of 10 or more people. Teen Arts Pass (TAP) members: $5 with ID. Tickets are currently available at at or by calling (773) 506-7140.

(center) Jasmine Henri-Jordan and the cast of PlayMakers Laboratory’s revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Travels Through Time perform “The Fire King.” 

(left to right) Mary Tilden, Nancy Casas, Jasmine Henri-Jordan and Tom Malinowski perform “Crazy Rockers” 

About the Director

Brandon Cloyd joined PlayMakers Laboratory in 2007 and has been deeply involved in many facets of the company ever since. Prior to joining PML, Brandon graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a minor in Business Institutions. Within PML, Brandon has served as an actor, teaching artist, lead teacher, a member of Teacher Corps, as well as directing shows for schools and public performances of That's Weird, Grandma. Before becoming the company’s Artistic Director in September 2017, Brandon served as PML After-School Program Coordinator at Loyola Park from 2014-2016 and Program Director from 2016-2017. Outside of PML, he worked as the Associate Director of Camp Echo, where he has spent 13 summers managing campers and staff at a co-ed sleep away camp in Upstate New York. Brandon has worked with other theatre companies including Urban Theatre Company, American Theater Company, Filament Theatre, InGen Productions, ACLE's Teatrino in Italy and Purple Crayon Players at Northwestern University. Brandon recently joined the Board of Directors for the League of Chicago Theatres.

(left to right) Nic Park, Taylor Galloway and Ale Ramirez perform “Crazy Rockers”

About PlayMakers Laboratory
Since PlayMakers Laboratory’s inception in 1997 as Barrel of Monkeys, its teaching artists have served more than 60 Chicago Public Schools. Over 15,000 elementary school students have participated in the PlayMakers programs, which aim to build students' writing skills, improve self-esteem, and instill confidence in their ideas and abilities.

PlayMakers Laboratory is sponsored in part by Wintrust Financial, Allscripts, Inc., Ernst and Young and Punchkick Interactive. It receives generous support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency; the National Endowment for the Arts; a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; the Chicago Community Trust; Crown Family Philanthropies; Alphawood Foundation of Chicago; the Maurice R. and Meta G. Gross Foundation; Polk Bros Foundation; the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; the Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation, Inc.; The Saints; The Topfer Family Foundation, and many other generous individuals and foundations. 

(left to right) Mary Tilden, Ale Ramirez and Elisa Carlson perform “The Good Witch”

 (left to right) Nic Park, Elisa Carlson and Taylor Galloway perform “1994” 

(pictured) The cast of PlayMakers Laboratory’s revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Travels Through Time perform “Space.” Photo by Evan Hanover.

Monday, January 27, 2020


ChiIL Mama’s Chi, IL Picks List

Who better than a playful pair of bears 
to warm up your family’s winter hibernation? 


Wake Up, Brother Bear! was originally scheduled to run through February 16 but has already extended through March 1 due to popular demand.

Same performance schedule:
Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.
at Chicago Children's Theatre, The Station,
100 S. Racine in Chicago's West Loop.

Sister Bear (Allyce Torres) encourages a group of Chicago’s youngest theatergoers to wake her brother out of hibernation in Wake Up, Brother Bear!, a highly immersive live experience for ages 0 to 6, now in its Chicago debut at Chicago Chilldren’s Theatre. Photo credit for all: Charles Osgood

Chicago Children’s Theatre invites families to treat their little cubs to Wake Up, Brother Bear!, a highly interactive journey through the four seasons led by two loveable bears. See a waterfall melt, meet a butterfly, chase an elusive fish and skate on an icy pond. Full of music and physical activity, Wake Up, Brother Bear! takes kids on a fun, intimate and immersive theatrical experience. Even the littlest theatergoers will feel part of the show as they experience live storytelling in a whole new way. Pre and post show activities in the lobby round out the fun.

Wake Up, Brother Bear! will be presented January 25-February 16, 2020. That’s peak arctic season in Chicago, so bring your kids, particularly ages 0 to 6, to come thaw out at Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine Ave. in Chicago’s West Loop. Public performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Run time is 45 minutes. 

Single tickets are $22-$32 including fees. Even better, give your family the gift of live theater by including Wake Up, Brother Bear! in a 2019-20 Chicago Children’s Theatre subscription package. For tickets, subscriptions, discounted rates for groups of 8 or more, and information on weekday student matinees, visit or call Chicago Children’s Theatre Guest Services, (312) 374-8835.

Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, is centrally located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, minutes from I-90 and I-290, as well as downtown and Ashland Avenue. Take advantage of free onsite parking in CCT’s lot on the south side of the building. If the lot is full, free and metered street parking is available nearby, or try the Impark parking lot, 1301 W. Madison St. 

Access Weekend is February 8 and 9

CCT continues to grow its commitment to all Chicago children at The Station by expanding services for patrons with disabilities. Access Weekend for Wake Up, Brother Bear! is February 8 and 9. Services include:

ASL interpretation and Open Captioning:
Saturday, February 8, 9:30 a.m.

Touch Tour for patrons who are low vision or blind:
Saturday, February 8, 10:30 a.m., before the 11:30 a.m. show

Sensory Friendly performances:
Sunday, February 9, 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

For more information about access and inclusion at Chicago Children’s
Theatre, visit or email

Behind the Scenes of Wake Up, Brother Bear!

Wake Up, Brother Bear! is written by Janet Stanford and Kathryn Chase Bryer. It was originally produced in 2009 by Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland, where it remains an annual staple a decade later.

Jamie Abelson, Associate Artistic Director, Chicago Children’s Theatre, directs Wake Up, Brother Bear!. The cast is Allyce Torres as Sister Bear, Jonah Winston as Brother Bear and Sonia Goldberg playing live music.

The production team is Will Bishop (co-scenic/props design), Grace Needlman (co-scenic/props design), Sully Ratke (costume design), Becca Jeffords (lighting design) and Robert Hornbostel (sound designer). Rebecca Ross is stage manager. Claire Taylor is assistant stage manager.

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s
2019-20 Season: A Season to Celebrate
Following Wake Up, Brother Bear! is Red Kite, Brown Box, a production for children on the autism spectrum, February 28-March 21, 2020. The Chicago premiere of Me…Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of a Young Jane Goodall closes Chicago Children’s Theater’s season, March 31-April 26, 2020.

Chicago Children’s Theatre 2019-20 Subscription Packages are still on sale, starting at just $80 for three shows. Subscribers save up to 30% on single tickets and fees and received many other perks including 15 percent off all camps, and 10 percent off classes and birthday party rental fees. Visit or call Chicago Children’s Theatre Guest Services, (312) 374-8835, to subscribe.

About Chicago Children’s Theatre
Chicago Children's Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine Ave., in Chicago's West Loop

Led by Founding Artistic Director, Jacqueline Russell, Chicago Children’s Theatre was founded in 2005 with a big idea: Chicago is the greatest theater city in the world, and it deserves a great children’s theater. Fourteen years later, CCT is Chicago’s largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families. It has established a national reputation for the production of first-rate children’s theater, with professional writing, performing, and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise. Chicago Children’s Theatre remains dedicated to creating awe-inspiring theatrical productions and programs through inclusion and accessibility, and inspiring young people and families to lead lives of adventure, courage and curiosity.

In January 2017, the company celebrated the opening of its new, permanent home, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, located at 100 S. Racine Avenue in Chicago’s West Loop community. The building, formerly the Chicago Police Station for the 12th District, was repurposed into a beautiful, LEED Gold-certified, mixed-use performing arts, education and community engagement facility that now welcomes all Chicago families.

Since its founding, Chicago Children’s Theatre has produced 20 world premieres including The Selfish Giant, The Hundred Dresses, Jackie and Me, The Houdini Box, Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, Leo Lionni’s Frederick, Wonderland, Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure, Jabari Dreams of Freedom, The Year I Didn’t Go To School: A Homemade Circus, Manual Cinema’s Magic City, My Wonderful Birthday Suit!, Last Stop on Market Street, X Marks the Spot, The World Inside Me (with New York’s Spellbound Theatre) and The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963. These productions enjoyed successful inaugural runs in Chicago, many followed by productions at theaters across the U.S.

Earlier this year, Chicago Children’s Theatre won the 2019 National TYA Artistic Innovation Award from Theatre of Young Audiences/USA, the national service organization supporting, connecting and advocating for the field of theater for young audiences. In addition, Chicago Children’s Theatre has garnered six NEA Art Works grants, and in 2017, became the first theater for young audiences in the U.S. to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards.

CCT offers free tickets to more than 5,000 low-income students each season in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. CCT also continues to grow its performing arts and STEAM education programs, offering classes, workshops, winter and spring break camps, and summer camps for ages 0 to 13. For more, visit

In addition to leading the company’s new play development, mainstage and education programs, Jacqueline Russell is the creator of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite Project, a multi-sensory interactive theatre program tailored specifically to children with special needs. Last season, Russell created and directed X Marks the Spot, a multi-sensory experience inspired by her work with children with visual impairments, which will tour Chicago area schools this fall. In 2010, she was appointed by the U.S. State Department to serve as Cultural Envoy to Canada, was awarded the 2013 “Hero of the Year Award” from the Chicago chapter of Autism Speaks, and was honored as one of 20 Chicago women who have shaped arts and culture featured on Kerry James Marshall’s mural “Rushmore” on the west façade of the Chicago Culture Center.

Chicago Children’s Theatre is led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, with Board President Armando Chacon.

For more, visit

Saturday, January 25, 2020

REVIEW: Disney on Ice Presents Road Trip Adventures Now Playing The Chicagoland Area Through February 9, 2020

Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures Takes Families on a Fun-Fueled Excursion to Iconic Disney Destinations

Guest Review:
by Kimberly Robb Baker 

Disney on Ice’s Road Trip Adventures hits all the right notes.

Firstly, you can’t go wrong with Disney characters singing, er lip syncing—but don’t tell the kids, and frolicking on the ice doing fancy tricks while covered in Swarovski crystals (costumers hand-applied 250,000 of the sparkly little guys this time around).

Grownups can be excused for anticipating that this production may be a bit like the last with, perhaps a reshuffling of the characters and songs. Grownups would be wrong.

From writing to choreography, special affects and, of course, sparkly and innovative costumes, this road-trip themed extravaganza brings the goods and will keep the whole family engaged.

The sheer athleticism of the cast is on full display right from the opening number where chimney sweeps perform “flags” on the light poles and ride trick bikes on the ice while Mary Poppins and Jack do a carefree ice dance.

Throughout, there are circus artists adding dimension to the experience. The skaters themselves often leave the ice, swinging and spinning through the air on creatively designed set pieces.

The puppets in the Lion King number were gorgeous, and the love ballad dance between Simba and Nala was graceful, athletic and emotive—a nice balance to the sheer excitement of most of the other numbers.

Kids of all ages could be heard joining in on favorites, especially to Elsa’s Let it Go and Moana’s How Far I’ll Go.

Expect a family singalong on the way home!

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:

Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures is bringing its magical getaway to the Chicago area this winter, with performances Jan. 23 to 26 at the Allstate Arena, then moving to Chicago’s United Center Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 Center, before returning to Allstate Arena Feb. 6 to 9.

Disney on Ice presents Road Trip Adventures takes families on an immersive, magical road trip to some of Disney’s most beloved, iconic destinations. Audience members can join Mickey Mouse and his pals for the jam-packed escape that promises to be filled with excitement, surprise and adventure!  

Hit the road with Mickey Mouse and his pals for a high-octane ride in Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures. Exciting twists and turns await as Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and guests of all ages embark on an interactive and memory-rich adventure to iconic Disney destinations. See the world from the rooftops of London with Mary Poppins and Jack and his band of dancing lamplighters. Travel to the sun-soaked Motunui and help Moana restore the heart of Te Fiti. Set off on a safari and snap unforgettable photos of wild cheetahs and monkeys when guests traverse through the Pride Lands with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa. Discover a whole new world and be swept up in Aladdin’s princely parade filled with spectacular stunts, magical moments with Genie, and a brand-new song from Jasmine that will render the audience “Speechless.”  Mosey on over to a larger-than-life comedic carnival and team up with Woody and Bo Peep as they search for their new friend Forky.  Fans will hit a high note with Mickey and pals during the Disney edition of Road Trip Karaoke as they introduce Rapunzel, Belle, Ariel, Mulan and Tiana. Families should be prepared for a getaway jam-packed with unexpected hijinks and surprise, up-close character interaction as Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures makes a pitstop right in their 

Tickets for Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures start at $15. All seats are reserved, and tickets are available at the Allstate Arena and United Center box offices, through Ticketmaster, and by phone at (800) 745-3000. Parking is FREE with ticket purchase in all official Allstate Arena and United Center parking lots. Service charges, facility and handling fees may apply.

Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures will whisk families away on an immersive getaway chock-full of magical participatory moments. Featuring new and classic tales, this multi-generational experience is scheduled to visit the Chicago area in early 2020, with performances Jan. 23 to 26 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., then move to Chicago’s United Center, Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, before returning to the Allstate Arena for a final week, Feb. 6 to 9.

Stay current on the latest developments through social media:

Twitter: @DisneyOnIce #DisneyOnIce
Instagram: @DisneyOnIce

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

Friday, January 24, 2020

Teen Take On Blue Man Group Chicago and Winter Show Dates Through February 29, 2020

Blue Man Group Chicago
**Added performances on Valentine’s Day and President’s Day**

"That show had everything I like in it. I had a sore jaw from laughing so consecutively. 
Really appreciated it. They had excellent humor, outstanding drummers, 
and the creativity went through the roof."
Andrew Collazo 

by Sage Kenaz-Mara (16)

I've seen Blue Man Group many times over the years, in 2011, when they first updated the show, and again in 2012 with my circus team mates from CircEsteem. I also saw them with 3 generations of my family in 2014. 

The last time I went was 2016, when I was 13, so I couldn't wait to catch them again, now that I'm older. Thanks to Blue Man Group for comping us a couple tickets, so I could recap our experience for my "Teen Take" series at

I'm dating a guy now who was a coworker of mine at Bristol Renaissance Faire for the past two summers. Andrew's a drummer and juggler, so I surprised him with tickets to the Blue Man Group show. He'd never seen them. 

We got to be part of the show from the start. They featured us as the "You're Late Couple". It was super funny. They put us up on the big screen, and gave us closer seats than we had originally. The drumming was amazing and they've changed up the instruments some since I saw it last. 

I also loved that they moved the human painting in front of the audience now instead of back stage. 

The only thing I truly missed was the big dance party they used to close with, which wasn't in the show anymore. 

Andrew said he was so happy at the show with me that by the time they got to the Jello part, he had to restrain himself from standing up and yelling out that he loved me. He said it later for the first time after the show. 

Blue Man Group's great for all ages, though bring earplugs for anyone little. In the past we've given tickets as gifts to relatives from two sets of grandparents down to kids and they've all enjoyed it. Sometimes it's easy to take long running shows for granted, but Blue Man Group is unforgettable. There's a reason they're still in a wildly popular open run in Chicago and have expanded to be a global phenomenon. If you've never been, check it out. If you've gone before, take someone new, and experience it again. This show's a great way to beat the winter blues.   

Sage Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based high school Junior, writer-actor-choreographer-artist and frequent audience member at theatre productions all over town. She is writing a regular "Teen Take" series now for ChiIL Mama, featuring a closer look at Chicago theatre, circus, museums, attractions and events with a teen perspective.

Blue Man Group, continues its open run at Chicago’s Briar Street Theatre (3133 N. Halsted) including added performances on Valentine’s Day and President’s Day.

Blue Man Group’s complete winter performance schedule is outlined below.

Blue Man Group Ticket Information

Tickets are available from $49-$104. Tickets may be purchased by calling 1-800-BLUE-MAN (1-800-258-3626) or visiting A full show schedule and ticket pricing, can also be found at

VIP Experience ticket packages are also available starting at $150 per person and include a three-course dinner at Drew’s on Halsted, premium seat and one pre-show beverage at the Briar Street Theatre, souvenir lanyard and a post-show meet-and-greet with a Blue Man. 

Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more, varying from $46.50- $79.50 per person. For groups of 10 or more, call the group sales department to book at: 773-348-3300 or email to request information.

2020 Remaining Winter Performance Schedule:

Friday, January 24 – 8 p.m.
Saturday, January 25 – 2, 5 and 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 26 – 1 and 4 p.m.
Thursday, January 30 – 8 p.m.
Friday, January 31 – 8 p.m.

Saturday, February 1 – 2, 5 and 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 2 – 1 p.m.
Thursday, February 6 – 8 p.m.
Friday, February 7 – 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 8 – 2, 5 and 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 9 – 1 and 4 p.m.
Thursday, February 13 – 8 p.m.
Friday, February 14 – 6 and 9 p.m. (Valentine’s Day)
Saturday, February 15 – 1, 4, 7 and 10 p.m.
Sunday, February 16 – 1, 4 and 7 p.m.
Monday, February 17 – 1 p.m. (President’s Day)
Thursday, February 20 – 8 p.m.
Friday, February 21 – 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 22 – 2, 5 and 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 23 – 1 and 4 p.m.
Thursday, February 27 – 8 p.m.
Friday, February 28 – 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 29 – 2, 5 and 8 p.m.

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.