Saturday, November 26, 2022


ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List


is now available on Digital and will be out on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray and DVD on December 13th.


When the Primm family moves to New York City, their young son Josh struggles to adapt to his new school and new friends. All of that changes when he discovers Lyle - a singing crocodile who loves baths, caviar and great music - living in the attic of his new home. The two become fast friends, but when Lyle’s existence is threatened by evil neighbor Mr. Grumps, the Primm’s must band together with Lyle’s charismatic owner, Hector P. Valenti, to show the world that family can come from the most unexpected places and there’s nothing wrong with a big singing crocodile with an even bigger personality. 



Sing-Along Songs: Karaoke versions of the original songs “Top of The World,” “Rip Up the Recipe,” “Take a Look at Us Now,” and “Carried Away” from Pasek & Paul (The Greatest Showman). 

Storytime with Shawn Mendes & Javier Bardem: Shawn Mendes, Javier Bardem, alongside the cast and filmmakers alternate reading excerpts from the book that set the world of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile in motion. 

Bloopers: Behind-the-scenes blooper reel. 

Deleted Scene: Josh Learns About Lyle’s Stage Fright. 

Croc and Roll – Lyle On Set: We will find out what working with Lyle was truly like with interviews with his castmates and the filmmakers.  As they shed light on everything from Lyle’s eating habits to his occasional odor issues, we’ll come to get a better understanding of what Lyle brings to the filming experience beyond his incredible voice.

Take a Look at Us Now – The Cast: From Javier Bardem, Constance Wu, Scoot McNairy and Winslow Fegley to Shawn Mendes, meet the incredible key cast of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. 

Two Music Videos: “Top of the World” and “Carried Away” by Pasek & Paul (The Greatest Showman). 



 Croc and Roll – Lyle On Set

Take a Look at Us Now – The Cast 

Two Music Videos


Get Social

Twitter: @LyleCrocodile

Instagram: @LyleLyleCrocodileMovie


Hashtag: #LyleLyleCrocodile

Thursday, November 10, 2022


ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List

“Rickshaw Girl” 

Wins Best of the Fest Award 



Receives the Milos Stehlik Global Impact Award

The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival has long been a family favorite of ours. I volunteered in the box office at FACETS from 1990-to shortly before the pandemic. My kids grew up watching loads of world class CICFF films and even helping with concessions and ticket taking. We highly recommend checking out some of the 304 films, representing 54 nations. CICFF is one of only two Academy Award-qualifying international children’s film festivals in the world. Screenings are happening now through November 20 at FACETS, with in-person and national online screening options. 

FACETS 39th Annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (CICFF) announces the recipients of its Special and Jury Prizes today along with two new film programs – Award Winning Shorts Program for ages 8-10 and 11-14. CICFF, with selection by the 2022 Festival’s jury members, awarded 65 prizes from a field of 304 films, representing 54 nations, in several categories including live-action, animation, documentary films and television productions. Prizes are given by the Children’s, Youth, Professional and Special Juries and the Professional Jury Live-Action and Animated Shorts categories are Academy Award-qualifying. Tickets are currently on sale here: .

Awards presented by the Festival maintain CICFF’s longtime standing as one of the top children’s film festivals in the world. CICFF juries are composed of independent filmmakers, film industry professionals, educators, parents and kids and teens who have graduated from FACETS Film 101 summer camp.

Also presented was the Milos Stehlik Global Impact Award, now in its fourth year, awarded to director Prasun Chatterjee for the feature film “Dostojee” (India) and Amy Bench for the short film “More Than I Want to Remember”(United States). FACETS created this award in 2019 to celebrate the memory of Milos Stehlik, founder and executive director of FACETS, who passed away in July 2019.

The full list of awards are listed below and can be found here .


For Ages 8-10:

A collection of some of the best award-winning short films from CICFF39. This selection represents a range of animation, live-action and documentary and includes winners from the Children's and Professional Juries, with the winners of the Best Production for Young Children and Best of Fest Awards. 


The films may be viewed virtually from November 10 - 20 and one may view the in-person screening times here and below

Saturday, Nov. 12 at 12:30 p.m. at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. 

Sunday, Nov. 20 at 11 a.m. at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. 

The program winners include:

  • “Hush Hush Little Bear” 

  • “Birth” 

  • “HEY DUGGEE – The Action Hero Badge”

  • “The Wind and The Trees” 

  • “The Most Boring Granny in the Whole World”

  • “Pete” 

  • “Charlie and the Hunt” 

  • “New Moon” 

  • “Wishes in the Wind” 


(Ages 11-14+) 

A collection of some of the best award-winning short films from CICFF39. This selection represents a range of animation, live-action and documentary and includes winners from the Youth, New Dimensions and Professional Juries, with the winner of Milos Stehlik Global Impact Award and Best of Fest Awards.  

The films may be viewed virtually from November 10-20 and one may view the in-person screening times here and below:

 Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave.  

The program winners include:



  • “Call and Response” 

  • “Slipping Away” 

  • “Freedom Swimmer” 

  • “Ice Merchants” 

  • “More Than I Want to Remember” 

  • “Abby” 



“Rickshaw Girl,” Amitabh Reza Chowdhury (Bangladesh)


Feature: “Dostojee,” Prasun Chatterjee (India)

Short: “More Than I Want to Remember,” Amy Bench (United States)



“Hush Hush Little Bear,” Māra Liniņa (Latvia)


“New Moon,” Jeff Le Bars, Jérémie Balais (United States)


“Abby,” John Urbano (United States)


“The Wind and the Trees,” Todd Allan Stewart (Canada)


Feature: “The Apple Day,” Mahmoud Ghaffari (Islamic Republic of Iran)


Short: “Letter to a Pig,” Tal Kantor (France)


“White Berry,” Sia Hermanides (Netherlands)


“Adjustment,” Mehrdad Hassani (Islamic Republic of Iran)



“Me. My eleven years. WAR.,” Marusya Shuvalova (Ukraine)



“Yangtze,” Daniel Kim, Benjamin Kim (United States)



Children's Jury’s Prize – Animated Short Film

1st Prize, “Pete,” Bret Parker (United States)

2nd Prize, “Birth,” Roberto Valle (Spain)


Children’s Jury’s Prize – Animated Feature Film

1st Prize, “Perlimps,” Alê Abreu (Brazil)

 2nd Prize, “My Big Big Friend - The Movie,” Andres Lieban (Brazil)

Children's Jury’s Prize – Animated Television

1st  Prize, “HEY DUGGEE - The Action Hero Badge,” Grant Orchard, Sander Jones (United Kingdom)

 2nd  Prize, “Call and Response,” Morgane Duprat--Peter, Daphné Kutnowski, Yoann Bouabré, Sélena Aledji, Anthony Okoko, Laura Sadi Honniball (France)


Children’s Jury’s Prize – Documentary Short Film

1st Prize, “Dipsas Speaks,” Craig Daniel Leon (Ecuador)

2nd Prize, “Wishes in the Wind,” Lisa Marie DiLiberto (Canada)


Children’s Jury’s Prize – Documentary Feature Film

1st Prize, “YUNG PUNX: A Punk Parable,” Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger (United States)

2nd Prize, “Rosie’s Theater Kids,” Steven Cantor (United States)


Children's Jury’s Prize – Live-Action Short 

1st Prize, “Charlie and the Hunt,” Jenn Shaw (United States)

2nd Prize, “Eger, 1552,” Attila Szász (Hungary)


Children's Jury’s Prize – Live-Action Feature Film 

1st Prize, “Laura’s Star,” Joya Thome (Germany)

2nd Prize, “Tales of Franz,” Johannes Schmidt (Austria)


Children's Jury’s Prize – Live Action Television

1st Prize, “Theodosia,” Matthias Hoene, Matt Bloom, Alexander James Jacob (France)

2nd Prize, “Yard TV,” Pablo Uranga (Brazil)



Youth Jury’s Prize – Animated Short Film

1st Prize,   ”Ice Merchants,” João Gonzalez (Portugal)

2nd Prize,  “Slipping Away,” Gabriel Hénot Lefèvre (France)


Youth Jury’s Prize – Live-Action Short Film 

1st Prize,  “Invincible,” Vincent René-Lortie (Canada)

2nd Prize,  “Bleach,” Mattias Graham (Canada)


Youth Jury’s Prize – Documentary Short Film

1st Prize, (tie)

“Freedom Swimmer,” Olivia Martin-McGuire (United Kingdom)

“More Than I Want to Remember,” Amy Bench (United States)

2nd Prize, “BYkids: FAITH'S WORLD,” Faith Guilbault (United States)


Youth Jury’s Prize –  Animated Television

1st Prize,  “Call and Response,” Morgane Duprat--Peter, Daphné Kutnowski, Yoann Bouabré, Sélena Aledji, Anthony Okoko, Laura Sadi Honniball (France)

Youth Jury’s Prize – Documentary Feature Film

1st Prize,  “Afghan Dreamers,” David Greenwald (Afghanistan)

2nd Prize,  “This is My Black,” Stephen Adetumbi, Jarrett Roseborough (United States)


Youth Jury’s Prize – Live-Action Feature Film

1st Prize, “White Berry,” Sia Hermanides (Netherlands) 

2nd Prize, “Comedy Queen,” Ismael Ferroukhi (Morocco, France)


Youth Jury’s Prize – Live Action Television

1st Prize, “More Than This,” John Sheedy, Kate Gorman (Australia)




New Dimensions Jury’s Prize – Animated Short Film

1st Prize, Animated Short Film (tie)

“Good Night Mr. Ted,” Nicolás Sole Allignani (Argentina)

“The Seine’s Tears,” Yanis Belaid, Eliott Benard, Nicolas Mayeur, Etienne Moulin, Hadrien Pinot, Lisa Vicente, Philippine Singer, Alice Letailleur (France)

2nd Prize, “Ice Merchants,” João Gonzalez (Portugal)


New Dimensions Jury’s Prize – Documentary Feature Film 

1st Prize, “Dear Future Children,” Franz Böhm (Germany) 

2nd Prize, “The Last Election and other Love Stories,” Miguel Silveira (United States) 


New Dimensions Jury’s Prize – Documentary Short Film 

1st Prize, “Freedom Swimmer,” Olivia Martin-McGuire (United Kingdom) 

2nd Prize, “The Girl with the Accent,” Nadia Durry (United Arab Emirates) 


New Dimensions Jury’s Prize – Live-Action Short Film 

1st Prize, “Invincible,” Vincent René-Lortie (Canada) 

2nd Prize, “Sons of Toledo,” Monty Cole (United States)



Professional Jury’s Prize – Animated Short Film  

1st  Prize, “Slipping Away,” Gabriel Hénot Lefèvre (France) 

2nd  Prize, “The Most Boring Granny in the Whole World,” Damaris Zielke (Germany) 


Professional Jury’s Prize – Animated Feature Film  

1st Prize, “Journey to Yourland,” Peter Budinský (Slovakia) 

2nd Prize, “The Websters Movie,” Katarína Kerekesová (Slovakia)


Professional Jury’s Prize – Animated Television

1st  Prize, “Call and Response,” Morgane Duprat--Peter, Daphné Kutnowski, Yoann Bouabré, Sélena Aledji, Anthony Okoko, Laura Sadi Honniball (France)

2nd  Prize, (tie)

“Giuseppe,” Isabelle Favez (Switzerland)

“Space Nova,” Pablo De La Torre (Australia)


Professional Jury’s Prize – Documentary Short Film

1st Prize, Freedom Swimmer, Olivia Martin-McGuire (United Kingdom)

2nd Prize, (tie)

How Hannie are You?, Deborah van Dam (Netherlands)

Maxim - The Greatest, Kaja Fedulova (Germany)


Professional Jury’s Prize – Documentary Feature Film

1st  Prize, “Afghan Dreamers,” David Greenwald (Afghanistan)

2nd  Prize, “Dear Future Children,” Franz Böhm (Germany)


Professional Jury’s Prize – Live-Action Short

1st  Prize, “Invincible,” Vincent René-Lortie (Canada)

2nd  Prize, “Margot's Sister,” Christine Doyon (Canada)


Professional Jury’s Prize – Live-Action Feature Film

1st Prize, Comedy Queen, Sanna Lenken (Sweden)

2nd Prize, Rickshaw Girl, Amitabh Reza Chowdhury (Bangladesh)


Professional Jury’s Prize – Live Action Television

1st Prize,  “More Than This,” John Sheedy, Kate Gorman (Australia)

2nd  Prize,  “Kabam!,” Elisabeth Hesemans (Netherlands)


FACETS  connects people to independent ideas through transformative film experiences. Founded by the late Milos Stehlik in 1975,  FACETS inspires audiences to engage with film not simply as entertainment, but as an exciting tool to bridge cultural divides, promote digital literacy, and expand perspectives through empathy-driven storytelling.  

FACETS presents the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (CICFF), one of only two Academy Award-qualifying international children’s film festivals in the world. The 39th Annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (CICFF39) runs November 4 - 20 at FACETS in-person and via national online screening. Buyers should visit  to view all the ticket options and to purchase tickets.

FACETS’ CICFF39 is supported by the Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Comer Family Foundation, NEA Art Works, Illinois Arts Agency (partial support), Kirckland & Ellis LLP, Prince Charitable Trust, Allstate, Conant Family Foundation, Stuart & Jesse Abelson Foundation, Seabury Foundations (New Dimensions program), Sterling Bay, and WTTW.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

ART BEAT: Sloomoo Institute Brings Slime Based Interactive Art Gallery To Chicago Starting November 19th.

ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List

Here at ChiIL Mama, we're huge fans of play for all ages, so we're excited that Chicago's soon to be home to the secondSloomoo Institute. We'll be out for the press opening, November 17th so check back soon for our photo filled feature. Sloomoo Institute - an experiential destination that taps into the joy of multi-sensory play through hand-crafted, artisanal slime and #satisfying experiences - announces the opening of its second U.S. ticketed destination located in the River North neighborhood at 820 N. Orleans Street, leased by Easy Street Properties. Launched in 2019 with its New York flagship location, Sloomoo Institute offers a much-needed reprieve from the overwhelmingly digital nature of the modern world and instead, puts us in touch with the physical world and with ourselves.

The new concrete loft space features a series of fantastical, interactive experiences that delight the senses of sight, touch, smell and sound, including: a DIY bar that offers 60 scents (think dessert, fruit, floral, spa vibes and more), 40 colors and 150 charms to make over four million slime creations, dozens of vats of slime to dip your hands into, “Sloomoo Falls” where visitors can stand under a waterfall of slime,  “Lake Sloomoo” which provides 350 gallons of slime to walk on after alcohol-wiping your feet, a Yayoi Kusama Obliteration Room-inspired “Slime Wall,” Kinetic Sand® "Doons", ASMR experiences, soundscapes, scent exploration, immersive videos, AR surprises and more.  

“When we launched Sloomoo Institute in 2019, we were passionate about activating our customers’ senses with a physical product, going back to the concept of sensory play and analog experiences as a way to experience joy and let go of swipe culture,” said the Sloomoo founders Karen Robinovitz and Sara Schiller. “We began as a pop up in New York City but after seeing how our guests responded to the concept, we decided to expand across the US.”

Sloomoo Institute called on experts in diverse, creative industries to round out the sensory experiences, including composer Pei Pei Chung who wrote music for Sloomoo’s ASMR soundscapes called “Synthesoothers,” and artists Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger who developed AR and interactive video installations, including a “Slimey Mirror” that reflects a figure of your frame made out of slime. Completely innovating recreational architectural design, Architect Demetrios Comodromos of Method Design created an immersive canvas that cohesively and beautifully ties all of these elements together. Sloomoo Institute Chicago partners include Elmer’s - whose glue is used to make all of its slime formulas - as well as Kinetic Sand®, Brown Sugar Bakery, Choose CHI, Mag Mile and World Business Chicago, with more to come as the space is ever-evolving.

Sloomoo Institute Chicago will be open from Wednesday-Sunday from 9am-7pm year round. During rush seasons, including holiday, spring break, summer break, and more, Sloomoo Institute will be open 7 days a week. Sloomoo Institute Chicago will also include a retail space where visitors can shop Sloomoo’s slime collections. For more information please visit:

About Sloomoo Institute

Sloomoo Institute is an immersive experience that taps into the joy of multi-sensory play. Sloomoo Institutes feature sophisticated, interactive spaces designed by contemporary artists where where hand-crafted, artisanal slime comes to life - dozens of textures, the most delicious scents, soothing ASMR, and wondrous delights all in a glossy setting to delight not just kids, but the kid in all of us. Co-founders Karen Robinovitz and Sara Schiller launched the Sloomoo universe in October of 2019 to bring the magic of slime and sensory play to the world through both in-person experiences and dozens of satisfying Sloomoligamations, which are sold in-store and online.

Monday, October 10, 2022

The Young People’s Theatre of Chicago’s Inaugural Season To feature Two World Premieres and The Chicago Premiere of a New Mo Willems Musical

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2022-23 SEASON

A Science-Themed Musical by Emmy Award-Winning / Grammy-Nominated Team An Adaptation of a Best-Selling Early-Reader Series

The Chicago Premiere of a New Mo Willems Musical

Here at ChiIL Mama, we had the opportunity to meet Morgan Tayler, children's musician, father, and brilliant composer and lyricist of Peabody, many times over the years, starting way back in 2009. It was a pleasure to shoot photos and videos of him in concert at Chicago's Schubas, and partner up many times on giveaways for our readers. We were sad to hear that Morgan Taylor recently passed away from Covid complications:

We're happy to say his legacy lives on in his work, and the world premiere of Peabody will be presented in Morgan Taylor’s honor.

The Young People’s Theatre of Chicago’s (YPT) inaugural 2022-23 season features two highly anticipated world premieres. The season launches with Glen Berger (Emmy Award - Peep and the Big Wide World; FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman) and Morgan Taylor’s (Grammy nomination - Gustafer Yellowgood) S.T.E.M.-themed Peabodya Musical Comedy for Intrepid Young Scientists (Oct 29–Nov 20) and concludes with John Glore’swickedly funny (and wonderfully spooky) adaptation of Abby Hanlon’s early-reader favorite, Dory Fantasmagory (May 5–28). Both new works are expected to enjoy long lives in children’s theaters across the country. Following the inaugural success of last year’s Knuffle Bunny, YPT also introduces Chicago to Mo Willems’ new musical adaptation of his own Caldecott Award-winning Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Feb 3–26).

All performances take place at The Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets on sale September 1, 2022. For ticket purchases and more information, visit or call the box office at 773 404 7336.

In residence at the historic Greenhouse Theater Center, YPT produces the highest quality professional theatre for children of all ages and backgrounds. The company also plans to introduce performance and training opportunities for kids. Founding Artistic Director Randy White has directed extensively in New York and at regional theatres across the country. Mr. White was the founder of Cardinal Stage in Bloomington, IN, where he launched the extraordinarily successful “Cardinal for Kids” series.

“Last year’s Knuffle Bunny was a hugely successful first outing for YPT,” says Mr. White. “Now, as we get ready for our first full season of work, the company is focused on bringing original and innovative theatre to Chicagoland’s children and families. We’re excited to partner with community organizations, parents, impassioned educators, and local business leaders to make it possible for local children of all ages and backgrounds to experience and participate in a wide range of transformative theatrical experiences!”

YPT’S 2022 – 2023 SEASON

Eileen Doan as Alyssa Peabody Photos by Anthony La Penna


A World Premiere
Oct. 29 – Nov 20, 2022
Press Performance: Saturday, Oct 29 at 10am
Book by Glen Berger
Music and Lyrics by Morgan Taylor
Directed by Randy White
Performance Schedule: Fridays at 7pm; Saturdays at 10am and 1pm; Sundays at 1pm (added 10am performances on final two Sundays)
Tickets: $25 / $19 (under 12)
Appropriate for ages 5+

Why do apples fall? Question the obvious and you change the course of history! Or in the case of 11-year-old Alyssa Peabody, you spark pandemonium at your middle school science fair!

A rollicking musical comedy that gives new meaning to the term Science Whizz!

Glen Berger’s (book) plays include Underneath the Lintel (450 performances Off-Broadway, 350 productions worldwide). TV credits include two Emmy Awards and 200+ episodes for the PBS children’s series, Arthur. Glen was co-bookwriter for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (directed by Julie Taymor, music by Bono and The Edge of U2). His memoir Song Of Spider-Man—the harrowing tale of Turn Off the Dark’s creation—was published by Simon & Schuster.

Morgan Tayor (music & lyrics) is a Grammy-nominated composer and the creator of the popular multimedia Gustafer Yellowgood project. In addition to his off-Broadway work, Morgan has toured and/or worked with Wilco, Duncan Sheik, Lisa Loeb, and others.


The Chicago Premiere
Feb 3 – Feb 26, 2023
Press Performance: Friday, Feb. 3 at 7pm
Book by Mo Willems and Mr. Warburton
Lyrics by Mo Willems
Composed by Deborah Wicks La Puma
Directed by Randy White
Performance Schedule: Fridays at 7pm; Saturdays at 10am and 1pm; Sundays at 1pm (added 10am performances on final two Sundays)
Tickets: $25 / $19 (under 12)
Appropriate for all Ages

Poor Pigeon never gets to do anything! But when Bus Driver is running late (gasp!), Pigeon’s dream to drive the bus might actually come true! From the vivid imagination of Mo Willems comes an interactive romp with every child’s favorite high-strung bird!

As the Inaugural Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence, Mo Willems adapted his own 2004 Caldecott Honor award-winning book in 2019 and critics in DC and across the country have raved:

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  • ●  “Magical!” DC Theatre Scene

  • ●  “Real-life wisdom for the young, delivered in a tasty hour-long concoction of silliness.”

    Broadway World

  • ●  “Phenomenal... will keep your kids at the edge of their seat, dancing and singing... I

    was hesitant taking my 8- and 10-year-old boys. But they loved it. – Seattlechild

  • ●  “Reminiscent of cartoonish underdog characters who discover their purpose within the universe’s Rudolph, Wilbur the pig, or James and his giant peach...heartfelt and fulfilling.” – Arts at Michigan

    Mo Willems (playwright) is an author, illustrator, animator, and playwright. Best known for his #1 New York Times bestselling picture books, Willems has been awarded three Caldecott Honors, two Theodor Geisel Medals, and five Geisel Honors. Willems began his career as a writer and animator on PBS’ Sesame Street, where he garnered six Emmy Awards. Over the last decade, Willems has been the most produced playwright of Theater for Young Audiences in America, in large part thanks to his continued collaboration with Deborah Wicks La Puma. Willems is overjoyed to have written Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! with his longtime collaborator and friend, Mr. Warburton. Banana!

    Deborah Wicks La Puma (composer and orchestrator) composed Willems’ Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play! (The Kennedy Center), and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience (Seattle Children’s Theatre). One of the most produced artists in Theater for Young Audiences today, La Puma’s honors include the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, an NEA New American Works Grant, two Parents Choice Awards, and a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Musical Adaptation. A proud Mexican-American, La Puma is Mother to three daughters and lives in Southern California.


    A World Premiere
    May 5 – May 28
    Press Performance: Friday, May 5 at 7pm
    Written by: John Glore
    Based on the book: Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon
    Directed by Randy White
    Performance Schedule: Fridays at 7pm; Saturdays at 10am and 1pm; Sundays at 1pm (added 10am performances on final two Sundays)
    Tickets: $25 / $19 (under 12)
    Appropriate for Ages 4+

    It’s tough being the youngest! Dory’s siblings won’t play with her and there are monsters to battle all over the house, like the hair-raising Mrs. Gobble Gracker! With the help of her fairy godmother, Mr. Nuggy, Dory sets out to win what she wants most: her family’s attention!

    From children’s playwright and longtime South Coast Rep Literary Manager John Glore (A Wrinkle in Time, The Stinky Cheese Man), comes a clever and hilarious new adaptation of Abby Hanlon’s enormously popular Dory Fantasmagory. Directly engaging the audience in original and surprising ways, Glored captures the original series’ charm and delightfully droll sensibility.

    • ●  Charming, funny and true to life!” –Kirkus Review

    • ●  “Educational Value: A+” —Common Sense Media


John Glore (playwright/adaptor) is an award-winning playwright whose work for young audiences includes adaptations of A Wrinkle in Time, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The Night Fairy, Kate DiCamillo's Flora and Ulysses, and many. His work for children and adults has been produced at Berkeley Rep, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Round House Theatre, The Children's Theatre Company, First Stage, Childsplay, and others.

Abby Hanlon (book author) is the author and illustrator of Dory Fantasmagory, a series of chapter books for five to nine year olds. Dory was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Parent's Magazine. It won a Golden Kite Honor for Fiction and is an American Library Association Notable Book. The books have been translated in twenty-two languages and are Junior Library Guild selections. Abby also taught creative writing and gradeschool in the New York City public school system.


Randy was the Founding Artistic Director of Cardinal Stage in Bloomington, IN. Under White’s leadership, Cardinal grew into Southern Indiana’s largest arts organization. A champion of children’s theatre, White also inaugurated the extraordinarily successful “Cardinal for Kids” series–which played to 100,000 kids in just 7 years. White was also gratified to work with 100+ extraordinarily talented Chicago actors, designers, and directors while at Cardinal.

In NYC, White directed Theatreworks USA’s Max and Ruby, a new children’s musical that played off-Broadway and toured nationallyHe directed the 15-month off-Broadway run of Glen Berger’s Underneath the Lintel, assisted on Disney’s The Lion King, and was Resident Director at New Dramatists. Regionally, White has directed at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Portland Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, etc. As an educator, White has directed and/or taught for the Yale Dramat, University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University, University of Minnesota/Guthrie, University of Alberta, Fordham, NYU, etc.

In Chicago, White directed The Wizard of Oz at the Children’s Theatre of Winnetka and Curious George and Knuffle Bunny at Northbrook Theatre. For the Greenhouse Theater, White directed Truman and The Birth of Israel and was nominated for an Equity Jeff Award for his critically acclaimed production of Midsummer (A Play with Songs). White holds an MFA in directing from the University of Alberta in his native Canada.


The Young People’s Theatre of Chicago. YPT was established in early 2020 but significantly Covid-delayed. It wasn’t until late 2021 that YPT launched with a successful production of Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny — 

— "Will your kids be entertained? The answer (spoiler alert!) is ‘YES’— judged by the happy vocal reactions of the kids at the matinee I attended! A solid debut!” —Chicago Reader 

— “Vivacious… packs a big punch. If you have a little one in your life, be sure to bring them to see this fun, funny musical. This first production of YPT is a sign of good things to come.”  —Splashmags

Lincoln Park and surrounding neighborhoods welcomed Knuffle Bunny with multiple sold-out performances.

YPT’s follow up production of the science-themed musical comedy Peabody was postponed by multiple Covid cases in the first weeks of rehearsal. But we persevere! The world premiere of Peabody will launch YPT's 3-play 2022-2023 season. And then in the New Year we build on Knuffle Bunny’s success with the Chicago premiere of Mo Willems’ adaptation of his own award-winning and best-selling Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!  The inaugural season wraps up in the spring with a world premiere adaption of Abby Hanlon's award-winning Dory Fantasmagory. 

These two bookend world premiere productions suggest an exciting future for YPT—a future that foregrounds commissions and the development of exciting new work for children of all ages. 

Young People’s Theatre of Chicago (YPT) offers high-quality productions and performance/education opportunities for children of all ages and backgrounds. Housed in the historic Greenhouse Theater Center, YPT launched in the fall of 2021. The company’s inaugural 3-Play 2022-23 season features two exhilarating world premieres, along with the Chicago premiere of a new musical by America’s most popular children’s author!

YPT’s Managing Artistic Director Randy White noted that, “as we prepare for this inaugural season, YPT is focused on partnering with community organizations, parents, educators, and local business leaders to provide thrilling and transformative theatre experiences for children from Lincoln Park and surrounding neighborhoods. These community partners will make it possible for local children of all ages–from toddlers to teenagers–to experience theatre that entertains, empowers, educates, and inspires.”

Thursday, October 6, 2022

World Premiere of THE LOCUSTS Via The Gift Theatre October 20 – November 19, 2022 at Theater Wit

Adult Night Out: ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 

The Gift Theatre

Presents the World Premiere of


Written by Jennifer Rumberger

Directed by Ensemble Member John Gawlik

October 20 – November 19, 2022 at Theater Wit

The Gift Theatre is pleased to conclude its 2022 season with the world premiere of Jennifer Rumberger’s chilling thriller The Locusts, commissioned and developed by The Gift and directed by Ensemble Member John Gawlik*. The Locusts will play October 20 – November 19, 2022 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office. I'll be out for the press opening, October 24th, so check back shortly for my full review.

The production features Ensemble Members Cyd Blakewell*, Brittany Burch* and Jennifer Glasse* with guest artists Mariah Sydnei Gordon, Renee Lockett and Patrick Weber.

With a serial killer on the loose in Ella’s small hometown of Vero Beach, Florida, she’s called up from her busy career in the Miami police force to help apprehend him. At home, she’s confronted with the life she left behind: her pregnant and struggling sister, her scared young niece, who like Ella, is desperate to find a life somewhere else, and the dark events of her childhood that she’s tried to forget. As the murders grow more horrific and the small community is frozen by fear, Ella realizes she has to confront the events of her dark past in order to stop him.

Playwright Jennifer Rumberger comments, “A few years ago, Mike Thornton approached me about writing a play for the ensemble members of the Gift, and sent me an article about the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein as a potential starting point. Mary Shelley was such a young girl dealing with a massive amount of trauma in her life by writing this classic horror story. At the same time, I was working on a serial-killer play, staying up late reading true crime novels and getting so furious about how these deranged men were deciding the path of women’s lives, when my partner remarked that perhaps they were both the same play. Over time, The Locusts ended up being a play that asks how women of different generations deal with the threat of male violence — a threat that looms in some way over all of the characters in the play, as well as over our current world and the legislation we see happening in America before our eyes.”

The production team includes Chas Mathieu (Scenic Designer), Jessica Van Winkle (Costume Designer), Trey Brazeal (Lighting Designer), Stefanie M. Senior (Sound Designer), Maday Favala (Props Designer), Parker Molacek (Projections Designer), Emjoy Gavino* (Casting Director), David Preis (Technical Director) and Sarah Luse* (Stage Manager).

*Denotes The Gift Theatre Ensemble Member

 Cast: (in alphabetical order): Cyd Blakewell* (Ella), Brittany Burch* (Maisie), Jennifer Glasse* (Layla), Mariah Sydnei Gordon (Olive), Renee Lockett (Willia) and Patrick Weber (Robbie).

Location: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.

Dates: Previews: Thursday, October 20 at 7:30 pm, Friday, October 21 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, October 22 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, October 23 at 3 pm

Press opening: Monday, October 24 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Thursday, October 27 – Saturday, November 19, 2022

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm.

Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $38 - $45. Students $25. Seniors $35. Tickets are currently available at, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office.

Captioned performances: Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 13 at 3 pm

Sensory-friendly performance: Saturday, November 19 at 7:30 pm

Audio-described performance/touch tour & conversation with the cast: Saturday, November 19 at 7:30 pm (touch tour begins at 6:45 pm)

Come Closer Series

Join The Gift on Sunday, November 6, 2022* for the Come Closer conversation series, which provides an intimate look at the artistic process behind the production, and the important topics this story addresses. Explore The Locusts with the cast, crew and special guests following the matinée.

*The Come Closer series is exclusive to guests attending the performance on Sunday, November 6 and subscribers.


About the Artists

Jennifer Rumberger (Playwright) is a Chicago playwright and essayist. Recent productions include Night in Alachua County with Wildclaw Theatre, Open Blue Sky at Stella Adler/Tisch School of the Arts and The Bride with the Living Room Playmakers and Chicago Fringe Festival. Her play, A Little Ghost Story, was a second time selection for the 2019 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference; her play Night in Alachua County was also developed there in 2014. Night in Alachua County was recommended for consideration for the 2018 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. Jennifer was a nominee for the PoNY Fellowship and a semi-finalist for the P73 Fellowship. Jennifer’s work has also been developed or presented in New York, Houston, Chicago and Florida by The Lark Playwrights Center, id Theatre Company, The Gift Theatre Company, Black Box Acting Studio, The Living Room Playmakers, Commission Theatre Company, Wordsmyth Theatre Company, Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Company, White Rose Miami and Northwestern University. She performs at live storytelling events in Chicago with You’re Being Ridiculous and GiftLIT. She is a founding member and associate playwright with the Living Room Playmakers. MFA: Northwestern. 

John Gawlik (Director) has appeared with or helmed productions for many Chicagoland companies. Recent projects include directing Doubt and the world premiere of The Royal Society of Antarctica at The Gift Theatre. Favorite acting credits include: Bill Sykes in Oliver at Drury Lane, Blizzard ‘67 with Chicago Dramatists, The Lonesome West and Beauty Queen of Lennane with The Gift Theatre, A Skull in Connemara at Northlight (After Dark Award, Ensemble) and The Great Society with Famous Door. Additional directing credits include When the Rain Stops Falling at Circle Theater (Jeff Award for Director and Production), The Ruby Sunrise (Top Ten shows of 2009: TimeOut Chicago), the Jeff Award-nominated production of W;t and the Jeff Award-winning The Good Thief for The Gift Theatre. John is an ensemble member of The Gift Theatre. Television and film credits include: Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, The Chi, The Last Shift and The Trial of the Chicago Seven. 

Lead Production Sponsor: Tom Rieck and Cathy Dunlap


About The Gift Theatre

Since 2001 and over 70 productions, The Gift Theatre has been dedicated to telling great stories onstage with honesty and simplicity by being the most intimate professional Equity theatre in the country, leading to national acclaim for both the theatre and ensemble and creating a cultural revolution on Chicago’s northwest side.


Friday, September 23, 2022

REVIEW: Fiddler on the Roof at Lyric Opera Through October 7, 2022

ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List
Fiddler on the Roof

Production photos by Todd Rosenberg


By Catherine Hellmann, Guest Critic 

I admit I had never seen Fiddler on the Roof before, and it wasn’t a musical that I felt compelled to see. But this fabulous North American premiere at Lyric Opera imported from the Komische Oper Berlin has made me a believer. Every aspect of this classic musical is incredible: the performers, the costumes, the direction, the staging, dancing, and the amazing set. I only wish it was playing longer so more people could see this because everyone should. 

The show opens startlingly with a young boy in a bright green hoodie on a modern scooter. (Drake Wunderlich, a very talented 5th grader from the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.) He rides across the vast Lyric stage and parks in front of a large door. He locates a violin case in the closet and begins to play a familiar tune. What’s this kid doing here? We hear a knock from inside, and there is Tevye. The connection from present to past is jarring. Is this Tevye’s great-great-great-great-grandson? Certainly the importance of family and yes, “tradition!” is ever-present in Jewish culture. I like to think it’s a nod to Tevye’s family’s resiliency and survival; he will have heirs into the current age despite countless obstacles. 

And then it seems the whole town of Anatevka pours onto the stage like an outpouring of clowns from a Volkswagon at the circus…if the clowns were Jewish and in much drabber clothes. The Lyric stage (the biggest in downtown Chicago) is used to full effect with the set which is composed of wood furniture like Grandma’s house has gone onto the market. Rufus Didwiszus is the set designer and Klaus Bruns is the mastermind behind the clever set. Characters are constantly appearing from behind closed armoires, making me wonder if Aslan might make a surprise visit as well. (As an English teacher, I racked my brain trying to pinpoint the symbolism of all those wardrobes and cabinets…”when God closes a door, He opens a window?” like Mother Superior says in Sound of Music? We may be against an obstacle, but another opportunity awaits---we just need the courage to step through? Or does it represent how the Jewish people cannot depend on stability? They always seem to be packing up belongings and moving because of religious persecution?? No matter the significance, it looks cool as hell.) 

Steven Skybell was born to play Tevye, the poor milkman struggling to feed his family of six women, his steadfast wife Golde (a charming Debbie Gravitte) and his five headstrong daughters. Skybell is mesmerizing as the questioning, funny, philosophic, stubborn patriarch. He doesn’t understand his three older girls’ defiance to marry men they love, rather than those chosen for them. The three girls and their loves are all outstanding. Lauren Marcus as oldest daughter, Tzeitel, begs her father to allow her to marry her poor but devoted tailor, Motel, sung by Drew Redington. They are so sweet together. Austen Danielle Bohmer as Hodel falls for the adorable Perchik, a tutor to her sisters and a devotee of the brewing Russian revolution. He is sung beautifully by Adam Kaplan. Maya Jacobson is Chava, and she melted my heart as the defiant daughter who faces her father’s wrath by loving a Christian boy. Michael Nigro sings Fyedka, the intellectual with an incredible voice. He holds forth on a sustained note over the crowd in an earlier scene that made me jot down,”Who sang that long note?”  

Alas, loving someone outside the faith is a travesty that Tevya cannot forgive. Chava is dead to him. It’s the one time in the show that I don’t feel sorry for Tevya. He’s being a stubborn dad. 

The Lyric Opera Chorus is to be commended for their commanding presence. And I love that a woman conductor, Kimberly Grigsby, led the orchestra. 

I didn’t expect the humor of the script, as when Tevya beseeches to God, ”I know we’re the chosen people, but can you sometimes pick someone else?” And Golda asks one of her girls, who doesn’t want to marry an older man with no hair,”You want hair? Marry a monkey!” 

Tevya and Golda’s song about arranged marriage “Do You Love Me?” is so endearing. They may have been chosen to be together by their parents, but their love for each other has become genuine. 

Another noteworthy song is the Day-of-the-Dead-type number where Tevya must confess to Golda that Tzeitel is no longer marrying the wealthy, older butcher. But he can’t simply admit that, so he stages an elaborate nightmarish dream to break the news to his wife. It’s a hoot with the skulls and surreal quality of the intricate lie. 

I overheard a woman in the lobby at intermission proclaiming,” The dancing is stupendous!” Indeed. The “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” number by the three girls with potential suitors is incredibly sweet. The whole production is simply wondrous. 

“Anastasia” is another Russian show currently playing downtown several blocks away. The snow in that musical is a fake projection. The “snow” keeps falling continuously in Act II at the Lyric. It’s a cool detail that reveals this was a full-out don’t-hold-back stunning production.  It’s one of those truly special shows that will be talked about and remembered for years. Please see it. You’re welcome. 

Highly recommended. 4 out of 4 stars ★★★★

Catherine Hellmann loves theater, Chicago, her kids, travel, coffee in the morning, Chardonnay at night, long walks, reading on the train, and Cincinnati Skyline chili. The order of her favorites is in no particular order and is subject to change.  

More About Fiddler on the Roof

The North American premiere of a bold new production of Fiddler on the Roof comes to Chicago’s biggest stage September 17 to October 7, 2022. Audiences are invited to experience Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s Broadway classic on a musical and theatrical scale only Lyric Opera of Chicago can offer. 

A new Fiddler arrives in Chicago. Following the success of the production at its critically acclaimed 2017 premiere at the Komische Oper Berlin, innovative director Barrie Kosky ties this version of Fiddler on the Roof to his Jewish ancestry and heritage, centering tradition in every aspect of his thrillingly theatrical production. Accomplished conductor Kimberly Grigsby (Broadway’s Spring Awakening and Flying Over Sunset) makes her Lyric debut revitalizing the celebrated music of Fiddler with the incomparable Lyric Opera Orchestra. 

The traditional Fiddler you know, but seen and heard like never before. More than 50 years after its premiere, Fiddler on the Roof remains a story that still resonates with audiences of today. While the musical has always explored themes of tradition, family, and love, Kosky’s brave direction offers an even closer look into how communities like Anatevka are still struggling in today's world. This widely acclaimed production is supported by a massive ensemble of nearly 100 musical and dramatic artists, paving the way for audiences to enjoy another boldly unique musical theater experience that has become a Lyric Opera of Chicago signature. 

A miracle of miracles! Experienced Broadway performers Steven Skybell and Debbie Gravitte make their Lyric debuts as Tevye and Golde. Skybell, who won the Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding performance by a lead actor as Tevye in the 2018 Yiddish production in New York, brings his exceptional capacity for this role to Lyric. The accomplished cast also includes Glencoe native Lauren Marcus in the role of Tzeitel in her Lyric debut. She’s joined by Broadway veteran—and Lyric newcomer—David Benoit in the role of Lazar Wolf. Joy Hermalyn rounds out this stellar lineup of Lyric debuts as Yente.

The other talented singing actors in the cast include Austen Bohmer as Hodel, Maya Jacobson as Chava, Drew Redington as Motel, Adam Kaplan as Perchik, Michael Nigro as Fyedka, Liliana Renteria as Shprintze, Omi Lichtenstein as Bielke, Jackson Evans as Mendel, Tommy Novak as Avram, Steven Strafford as Mordcha, Bill McGough as the Rabbi, William Brown as the Constable, and Melody Betts as Grandma and Fruma Sarah. 

Tradition comes alive with a world-class creative team. Lyric’s Fiddler on the Roof features Rufus Didwiszus as set designer and Klaus Bruns as costume designer, both in their Lyric debuts, along with the lighting design of Diego Leetz skillfully recreated by Marco Philipp in a Lyric debut for both designers. Otto Pichler’s original choreography is masterfully recreated for Lyric by Silvano Marraffa. The robust forces of the Lyric Opera Chorus bring the village of Anatevka to life under the steady leadership of Lyric’s chorus master Michael Black—culminating in a musical production that is as wholly reimagined as it is filled with endless talent. 

Shout l’chaim from the rooftops, with 11 chances to see Fiddler on a scale only Lyric Opera of Chicago can produce. Through Joseph Stein’s book, Jerry Bock’s music, and Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics, audiences become a part of Tevye’s family with this timeless tale of the fragility of love, community, and tradition.

There are 11 performances of Fiddler on the Roof: September 17, 18 matinee, 22, 23, 24, 28 matinee, 29 matinee, 30, and October 2 matinee, 6, and 7, 2022.

For updated information about Lyric’s ongoing health and safety protocols, visit

One of the world's leading opera directors, Barrie Kosky is celebrated from Vienna to Paris and from Bayreuth to London, where his new Ring cycle will take the stage at the Royal Opera starting next year. When his production of Fiddler on the Roof premiered at Komische Oper Berlin in 2017, international critics heralded the arrival of a completely original and unique experience created from this revered, Tony Award-winning masterpiece. "Songs many of us have heard our whole lives sentimentalized...are given weight and take on deep meaning," raved the Los Angeles Times. Experience a Fiddler like no other, with the full power of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus as well as a production that is both grand in scale and intimate in its power to bring you directly to the heart of the village of Anatevka. Join us as Tevye, his wife Golde, and their five daughters experience the real joys and sorrows that have made this meaningful work an enduring part of our culture.

Please note, Fiddler on the Roof will not have an at-home streaming option.

Language: Sung in English

Running Time: 3 hours 15 minutes with 1 intermission

Location: Lyric Opera House

Lyric’s presentation of Fiddler on the Roof is generously made possible by Lead Sponsor The Negaunee Foundation with additional support from Production Sponsors the Gramma Fisher Foundation of Marshalltown, Iowa, The Zell Family Foundation, Marlys A. Beider, The Davee Foundation, Invenergy LLC, The Harris Family Foundation, Randy L. & Melvin R.* Berlin and Ethel & William Gofen.


Lyric Opera of Chicago thanks its Official Airline, American Airlines, and acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

About Lyric

Lyric Opera of Chicago is committed to redefining what it means to experience great opera. The company is driven to deliver consistently excellent artistry through innovative, relevant, celebratory programming that engages and energizes new and traditional audiences.

Under the leadership of General Director, President & CEO Anthony Freud, Music Director Enrique Mazzola, and Special Projects Advisor Renée Fleming, Lyric is dedicated to reflecting, and drawing strength from, the diversity of Chicago. Lyric offers, through innovation, collaboration, and evolving learning opportunities, ever-more exciting, accessible, and thought-provoking audience and community experiences. We also stand committed to training the artists of the future, through The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center; and to becoming increasingly diverse across our audiences, staff, programming, and artists—magnifying the welcoming pull of our art form, our company, and our city.

Through the timeless power of voice, the splendor of a great orchestra and chorus, theater, dance, design, and truly magnificent stagecraft, Lyric is devoted to immersing audiences in worlds both familiar and unexpected, creating shared experiences that resonate long after the curtain comes down.

Join us @LyricOpera on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. #LongLivePassion

For more information, visit