Friday, July 16, 2021

REVIEW: Cabinet of Curiosity's Sea Change Outdoors Through July 25, 2021

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A hopeful evening of original songs, giant puppets, live music, delightful devices, and spectacle images.

*Great for ages 10 and up*

ChiIL Mama's Adventures at Sea Change

By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara 

It was my great pleasure to catch the press opening/final dress of Cabinet of Curiosity's Sea Change. It's our first in person performance after sixteen months of Chicago area theaters going dark, and what a welcome sea change it is. This production is pure magic with a soaring score, magnificent giant puppets, and kooky comic relief from an agoraphobic sailor and a recuperating sea gull. There's action, gorgeous new songs, and a timely message of change and forward motion from a time of quarantine to socializing. We love that Sea Change is predominantly written and performed by women and heralds a time when our society has the chance for a new beginning and a major shift from glorifying toxic masculinity to embracing the feminine divine. There's nothing like theatre to help us process collective trauma and forge a better way forward. 

We're so excited at the massive talent collaborating on this show, the theme, and the opportunity to finally gather in person for a production again. Most of the writers, directors, cast and crew are acclaimed regulars on the Chicago scene, and we're elated to catch long time favorites in new roles like actors as playwrights and song writers. Sea Change indeed. Don't miss this! 

ChiIL Tips: Street parking is at a premium so leave lots of lead time to circle around. There are porta potties on site, but you might want to take care of that in advance if possible too. Masks are not required for those who are vaccinated, and we felt like the outdoor local and pod seating was fairly covid safe. That said, if you're cautious, at risk or prone to anxiety we'd suggest bringing a mask and sanitizer. It's not 100% possible to social distance in an audience. 

Visually stunning, fabulously fun, in person puppetry and theatre returns with action, humor, and a timely message on bravely leaving your safe space. All Photos by Dugan Kenaz-Mara & Bonnie Kenaz-Mara for & Check it out HERE. 

We're also fascinated by the process of theatre. It's astonishing to see the world building and the melding of so many creative components that merge to make stories come to life on stage. I was thrilled to be invited to Cabinet of Curiosity's new warehouse rehearsal space to shoot sneak peek photos with my son, Dugan.

Things move fast in the land of Chicago theatre productions and what a difference one week makes! Last Thursday we got a sneak peek, behind the scenes, and at that point, Frank, the director, was asking "how long and high will the whale be so we know where to place the boxes". The mermaid needed neck reinforcement, the jellyfish were still just a concept.

During our visit, choreography was just evolving, and the cast was beginning to work with the first finished puppets. Hannah Jablonski and Brandon Boler (who's set to direct Cabinet of Curiosity's next production) were feverishly building, painting, & moving sets. And Lindsey Noel Whiting was out with a bad cough, but called in to rehearsal to answer questions and give stellar insight regardless. 

Sea Change Rehearsal/Set Building: We love to see the process that goes into building a show. All Photos by Dugan Kenaz-Mara & Bonnie Kenaz-Mara for & 

If you like to see how the sausage is made, check out our rehearsal pixs HERE. 

The night we caught the press opening, multitalented singer/actor/writer Bethany Thomas sat behind us in the audience. She's been a long time favorite of ours on stage and just released her first solo album that we've been thoroughly enjoying. Check it out

Follow Cabinet of Curiosity to see what's next, and check out the bios below for the talented team behind Sea Change, to see where you might find them on a regular basis once live shows come back again. 

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer, theater critic, photographer, videographer, actress, artist and Mama. She owns two websites where she publishes frequently: (adult) & (family friendly). 

Cabinet of Curiosity is proud to present Sea Change, an outdoor celebration exploring the power of the sea and the feminine divine. It is a series of wild, strange, lovely puppet shows written by emerging female playwrights and lyricists Liz Chidester, Kasey Foster, Bethany Thomas, and Lindsey Noel Whiting, with original musical compositions by Manae Hammond and Charlie Otto, additional text by Seth Bockley, and the searcher performed by Time Brickey. Giant puppets, mechanical devices, and original, live music weave together to create an evening of pageantry, puppetry, wonder and hope.

“Whale Song” by Lindsey Noel Whiting: A brief musical not about a man obsessed with killing a whale.

“A Mermaid’s Tail (If There’s a God)” by Bethany Thomas, with music and lyrics by Liz Chidester: The story of a mermaid, at "the end of her tail," grappling with existence in a world imagined by men.

“More” by Kasey Foster: A shark caught in a feeding frenzy gets some sound advice from The Moon.

“The Lookout” by Seth Bockley: It’s lonely up in the crow’s nest, but you can see the future and the past. And if you’re lucky a bird might keep you company. 

Production Details:

 Sea Change

July 15 – July 25

Wednesdays at 8:15pm
Thursdays at 8:15pm 
Fridays at 8:15pm
Saturdays at 2pm and 8:15pm
Sundays at 2pm and 8:15pm

Writers: Lindsey Noel Whiting, Kasey Foster, Bethany Thomas, Liz Chidester, and Seth Bockley 
Director: Frank Maugeri
Designer: Shawn Ketchum Johnson
Puppet and Object Designers: Ellie Terrell, Jillian Gryzlak, Jesse Mooney Bullock, and Milam Smith
Cast: Kasey Foster, Sadie Rose Glaspey, Manae Hammond, Allison Grischow, Olivia Rose Comai, Sofia Balabanova Gebreab and Time Brickey
Stage Managers: Jamie Kreppein and Josh Ralph.

1727 W 21st St
Chicago, IL 60608 

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Appropriate for ages 10 and up.

If the show is rained out, we will do our best to move audience members to a different evening that accommodates individuals’ schedules. All purchases non-refundable.


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About Cabinet of Curiosity

Founded in 2017, Cabinet of Curiosity is a nonprofit theater that creates original celebrations and productions. Cabinet uses sophisticated puppetry and handmade devices to develop interactive experiences and events. 

We believe that the act of celebration is a social imperative. We use celebration to tackle isolation, facilitate dialogue, inspire hope and humor, create beauty where others may fail to see it, and ignite sincere collaborations. We focus on creating new gatherings, ceremonies, and rituals that promote connection amongst people from different backgrounds and lived experiences.


About the Artists

Sophia Balabanova-Gebreab is currently a student at the University of Chicago who just finished her first year. She is originally from Minneapolis and spends most of her time outside of school making and distributing zines.

Seth Bockley (“BOAK-lee”) is a writer of plays, screenplays and fiction, and a theater artist specializing in literary adaptation and new work development. Current projects include a Utopian history pageant for New Harmony, Indiana, an opera with London-based Donghoon Shin, short film “The Cartographer" in post-production, and a collection of short stories featuring a Midwestern-mystical flair. He teaches at the University of Chicago. 

Time Brickey is a multidisciplinary performing artist from Chicago IL. He’s a tap dancer, actor, musician, singer, puppeteer, he does accents and voices, he stilt-walks… and he’ll do it on the spot. He's grateful to have shared many stages and rehearsal rooms with his own heroes, and some of Chicago's greatest performers. On a given day you can catch him devising and improvising collaborative theatrical works, mentoring kids, producing music, and composing tap choreography. He also operates a studio workshop where he makes and sells portable tap boards. Learn more about him at

Liz Chidester is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter, actor, and teaching artist originally from Virginia. The Chicago Tribune called Liz "one of the most truthful actors in this city." Liz is a Company Member of FIREBRAND THEATRE and an Artistic Affiliate with AMERICAN BLUES THEATRE. She has contributed as an actor, composer, and collaborator with Chicago Children's Theatre, Raven Theatre, Writers Theatre, Cabinet of Curiosity, Theatre at the Center, Mercury Theatre, Sideshow Theatre Company, and Route 66. Before March 2020, Liz was at sea developing folk music and puppetry with NYC's PIG PEN THEATRE COMPANY in Phantom Folktales. With her band LIZ AND THE LOVELIES, she released the album People Pumping Pedals (2014), EPs Progress into Simplicity (2017) and Otter Hill (2015), and singles "My Way/Your Way" (2018) and "Sleep In." (2019). During the pandemic, the Lovelies lovingly disbanded, and Liz formed a new solo project LIZ LUTHIER with her feminist record collective MURMURATION RECORDS. Her newer single "The Great American Chestnut Tree" (2020) was featured on NPR's All Songs Considered. Liz will release singles throughout 2021, including "Gift That Moved You" (2021), with her EP otherside of the darkest timeline releasing in fall 2021. Liz teaches group 'ukulele classes and private voice, piano, guitar, and uke classes at the OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC. She is represented by Shirley Hamilton.

Olivia Comai is a Chicago-based, interdisciplinary artist whose practice revolves around puppetry, video, and performance. She finds pleasure in play and imagination, and extra importance in humor and making art accessible to all. 

Kasey Foster is a performer, producer, choreographer, singer, and puppeteer. She believes that puppets are some of the world's finest actors. More info at

Sadie Rose Glaspey is so excited and honored to be involved in another Cabinet of Curiosity spectacle and ritual! Originally from Milwaukee, WI, she came to Chicago 12 years ago to attend Chicago College of the Performing Arts where she received her BFA in Musical Theatre (2012) and has been lucky enough to find many welcoming artistic homes in both theatre and music (including some where she's asked to do both at the same time!) throughout the windy city. She has played violin and sang for over 25 years, enjoys writing lyrics, is slowly building GingerSnap Performing Arts: her very own Chicago based Children's Theatre Company, and enjoys spending her free time with her cats and husband in their garden. 

Allison Grischow (She/They) is an actor, voice actor, and musician who loves to spread joy everywhere she goes. She holds degrees in Theatre and Music from Valparaiso University as well as Second City’s Music Improv Conservatory. They have also studied with the Moscow Art Theatre School and Actors Gymnasium. They love to swing from lyras and trapezes in their spare time as well as sing songs with their pet bird, Buckbeak. Allison is also the founder of the small business "The Joyful Actor" which is dedicated to helping performers overcome overwhelm to find joy in their work.

Jillian Gryzlak is a maker, designer, and educator living in Chicago. She works across the city making costumes, ceramics, textiles, installations. Her work as a prop artisan and teaching artist has allowed her to collaborate with students throughout Chicago Public Schools and in multiple theaters. Jillian holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a MA from the School for New Learning at DePaul University in Material Culture.

Manae Hammond is a multi-instrumentalist musician & engineer, and is making her professional stage debut here. A Chicago native & choir kid turned rave mom, she was a sound operator for Theo Ubique's "Hedwig & The Angry Inch" in 2019. After flirting with acting in her youth, she pivoted to music to escape the crowd but got roped back regardless.

Shawn Ketchum Johnson is a United States-based theater maker whose expertise in site-specific and devised performance keep him linked to innovative socially-engaged ensembles throughout North America.  Recent projects include the world premiere of TIME TO TELL, an original hybrid performance piece presented by ACT Theatre in Seattle; and THE RIOT BALLET, a interactive game/theater hybrid devised by a multinational collaborative team, with rolling premieres in Montreal and Seattle.  An alumnus of Northwestern University, Johnson is Assistant Professor of Scenic Design at Texas Tech University.

Rome Jones is currently a college freshman at Depaul University majoring in theater technology. They enjoy puppet making, cooking, and various other types of handiwork in their free time. They are very thrilled to be a part of Sea of Change!

Jamie Kreppein is a film and theatre maker and community builder based in Chicago. She is one of the managers of Hotel Arts Collective as well as the company manager of Facility Theatre, and has been privileged to work with other companies like Chicago Children’s Theatre, A Red Orchid Theatre, Hell in a Handbag Productions, Steep Theatre Co, and Interrobang Theatre Project. Jamie has most recently spent her time making several short films slated to be released in 2021/2022, including By a Thread (co-writer/associate producer), Weather Outside is Frightful (director/writer), and Re- (director/producer). 

Frank Maugeri is a designer of community, events, and education. In his three decades as a ritual and spectacle maker, he has been commissioned by President Barack Obama to create a premier Halloween event on the White House’s North Lawn, transformed the Museum of Contemporary Art’s facade twice, directed the groundbreaking of The Art Institutes Modern Wing, and conceived and directed Redmoon Theaters Boneshaker for nine years. He conceived and directed Redmoon Theaters longest running and most critically acclaimed production, The Cabinet, which ran for over 1 year in Chicago and toured Brazil. He has executed countless outdoor guerrilla and interactive urban experiences. He has created several long-lasting cultural events and mentored over 1000 emerging artists from various disciplines- dance, writing, animation, film, sculpture, painting, and more. He is committed to using art as a tool for celebration and social improvement. He has directed indoor productions for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Actors Gymnasium, and many others. He makes his teaching home at the University of Chicago. He began Cabinet of Curiosity in 2017 as a company committed to collaboration, collectivism, equity, diversity and the development of modern rituals and meaningful happenings.

Jesse Mooney-Bullock is delighted to be filling the Cabinet of Curiosity with more hand-made movable sculptures, his puppets were last featured in Tabletop Tragedies. Other Chicago-area projects include The Little Mermaid(Paramount Theatre), The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz, Mister Punch (House Theatre), The Selfish Giant (CCT), The Feast, Salao (CST & Redmoon Theater) garnering Jeff Awards and nominations.  He lives and works in Cincinnati, find out more at

Charlie Otto is a Chicago musician, founder of a handful of bands including This Must be the Band and DJ noDJ. He writes electronic rock songs all day long. More info at

Josh Ralph is a percussion performer, stage manager, and soon to be graduate from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Josh has stage managed multiple shows throughout his time at UTSA including Goyescas, Captain Lovelock and The Worst Ones Ever.  Josh has also spent the past 5 years performing Seasonal shows at Sea World San Antonio, and hopes to one day be able to perform/stage manage on Broadway.

Ellie Terrell is a Chicago-based designer, fabricator, object and installation builder, painter, and teaching artist. Her favorite works to create are immersive spaces and surreal sculptural visual art. She is passionate about using art to connect humans in play. Ellie holds a BA in Literary and Cultural Studies from the College of William and Mary.

Bethany Thomas is a singer/actor/writer known for her work with Writers Theater, Court Theater, Chicago Shakespeare, Milwaukee Rep, Porchlight Music Theater, and Marriott Lincolnshire; she's also frequently entangled with The Fly Honeys, The Paper Machete, The Neo Futurists, Steppenwolf, Second City, WBEZ and the Hideout. A 3Arts Awardee in music, BT tours and records with Jon Langford, and also just released two albums of original songs- Material Flats with Tawny Newsome, and her critically-acclaimed solo debut, BT/She/Her. ig: @bethanyt80 

Ivy Waegel is a Bay Area native who just can't wait to get their grubby little hands on the next big project. They study set design, sculpture, and other interactive arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and spend the rest of their time exploring Chicago's alleys and neighborhoods.

Lindsey Noel Whiting has been working as a theatre artist in Chicago in various capacities for the last 18 years. She is an Artistic Associate with Lookingglass Theatre and The Actors Gymnasium.


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

OPENING: Goodman's School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play BEGINS PERFORMANCES JULY 30

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Last March my daughter and I held press tickets for the opening of School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play at The Goodman. Little did we know then that it would be nearly a year and a half before we had that chance again. Since then our family has experienced remote high school and college learning, a drive-through parking lot graduation, a lack of homecoming/prom/senior plays, a covid hospitalization, unemployment in the arts, and both a birth and a death in the family. 

It's been quite a year... and then some for us and for the world as a whole. Kudos to Goodman Theatre for offering free tickets for this production to both healthcare workers and performing arts professionals! 

In acknowledgement of healthcare workers, whose efforts have cared for Chicagoans during the pandemic, as well as performing arts professionals, who may have lost work while stages were dark during this difficult time for the industry, the Goodman is pleased to offer 1,500 free tickets to School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play. Healthcare and performing arts industry professionals can reserve free tickets by visiting

We're elated to be able to hug our loved ones, gather with friends, and get artists back to work. My inbox is finally brimming with reopenings instead of cancellations and closures. Reviews are ramping up and I for one can't wait to feel the interconnectedness, depth, and energy that only live shows provide. See you out there!

School is back in session! Goodman Theatre returns to the stage with the Chicago-premiere production of the Off-Broadway smash sensation, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play. Full casting is below. Written by Jocelyn Bioh and directed by Chicago favorite Lili-Anne Brown, this “uproarious comedy that also pulls at the heartstrings” (The Hollywood Reporter) is back after being halted several days shy of its opening night last year (March 2020). The production was then offered in a limited online streaming engagement, viewed by households in 45 U.S. states and 13 countries around the globe—as well as offered free-of-charge to 1,600+ Chicago public school students. School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play appears July 30-August 29 (opening night is Monday, August 2) in the Goodman’s Albert Theatre. Capacity is limited and masks will be required. Tickets (starting at $15) are on sale now at and by phone at 312.443.3800.

Goodman Theatre is grateful for the support of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Major Corporate Sponsor; Illinois Tool Works and PwC LLP, Corporate Sponsor Partners; and Ogletree Deakins, Opening Night Sponsor.

"When I first read this play, I just died laughing. I could not believe how funny it was and where it went and how it ended," said Director Lili-Anne Brown. "We are so grateful and excited to get to revisit this story and finally share it with live audiences—and in the summer, where it truly belongs!"

Biting and buoyant, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play earned critical and popular acclaim in its Off-Broadway extended run. As the reigning queen bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school sets her sights on the Miss Universe pageant, a new student unexpectedly changes the game, forcing her to defend her reputation—and status. This “nasty-teen comedy, wonderfully refreshed and deepened” (The New York Times) spotlights the universal similarities—and glaring differences—of teenage girls around the globe.

“School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play enjoyed five successful previews before we had to suspend performances last March. We didn’t know then that it would be 506 days before the play would take the stage again, but we always knew that this play—in which comedy is infused with serious, relevant themes—would be the first we would produce upon our return,” said Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls. “We warmly welcome back Lili-Anne and her wonderful company, and look forward to sharing Jocelyn’s wise, ebullient play with Chicago audiences anew.”

The ensemble cast features Adia Alli (Gifty), Kyrie Courter (Ericka Boafo), Ashley Crowe (Nana), Ciera Dawn (Paulina Sarpong), Tiffany Renee Johnson (Mercy), Adhana Reid (Ama), Tania Richard (Headmistress Francis) and Lanise Antoine Shelley (Eloise Amponsah). The creative team includes Yu Shibagaki (Set Design), Samantha C. Jones (Costume Design), Jason Lynch (Lighting Design) and Justin Ellington (Sound Design). Lauren Port is the Casting Director. Alden Vasquez is the Production Stage Manager and Caitlin Body is the Stage Manager. Katherine Lee Bourné, previously announced in the role of Ama, is no longer a part of the cast due to scheduling conflicts.


Jocelyn Bioh (Playwright) is a Ghanaian-American writer and performer from New York City. Bioh’s plays include School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (2016 Kilroys List, MCC Theater, Center Theatre Group); The Ladykiller’s Love Story, Happiness and Joe, Nollywood Dreams (2015 Kilroys List, Cherry Lane Mentor Project) and African Americans (2011 Southern Rep Ruby Prize Finalist, 2012 O’Neill Center Semi-Finalist, Howard University). Bioh’s acting credits include work on Broadway as well as productions with Soho Rep, The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Classical Theater of Harlem, Wilma Theater and Signature Theater. Television writing credits include She’s Gotta Have It and Russian Doll.

Lili-Anne Brown (Director) is a native Chicagoan who works as a director, actor and educator. She has performed in, directed and produced many award-winning shows, both local and regional. Goodman credits include I Hate It Here and the world premiere of Ike Holter's Lottery Day. She is the former Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she focused programming on Chicago-premiere musicals and new play development with resident playwrights. She is a member of SDC, AEA, SAG-AFTRA and is represented by William Morris Endeavor.


Touch Tour, August 21 at 12:30pm – A presentation detailing the set, costume and character elements

Audio-Described Performance, August 21 at 2pm – The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset

ASL-Interpreted Performance, August 27 at 8pm – Professional ASL interpreter signs the action/text as played 

Open-Captioned Performance, August 28 at 2pm – An LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance

Visit Goodman for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.


Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement.

Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” It’s longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fourth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.

Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home to these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.

As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Goodman Theatre’s Action Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) was born out of the belief that progress means action, which includes building on the decades-long commitment to using art, assets and resources to contribute to a more just, equitable and anti-racist society.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Dael Orlandersmith, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.