Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour Tonight at 8:30pm

Earth Hour is Today (Saturday) starting at 8:30 pm
It's time to turn off, tune in and drop out.   Turn off your lights, that is, for (at least) one hour on Saturday starting at 8:30 pm. Earth Hour is a demonstration of how much energy we use/overuse. People in at least 135 countries will participate.  Click the link for more info. 

Kick the TV & video game habit and read together by candle light, sing songs, or hang outside in nature.  We love to camp as a family and as much as we LOVE city life, we need to go to where the trees are taller than the buildings, to see stars and recharge.   Tonight the light pollution will ease up and we may even be able to see some stellar sights from our own urban back yards!

p.s. Earth Day in the Parks is April 21

Instead of staying inside for Earth Hour, Tula Yoga is offering aspecial candlelight restorative yoga class appropriate for all levels. Live
acoustic music will also be provided by Logan Square resident, guitarist
and yogi, Neil Dixon Smith.

Class is from 8:30-9:30 and you can just drop-in for $15 (regular class
price). Please arrive 10-15 minutes early to check in before we 'shut

Friday, March 30, 2012

$20,000 Mom Cave #Contest

 Mom Cave by Divas N' Design

Chicago’s Divas N’ Design Bring Mom’s Out of Their Closets This Mother’s Day
For a Chance to Win a Personalized M.O.M Cave Valued at $20,000!

Everyone has heard of the term “man cave,” a place where men retreat at home to relax, watch sports and get away from it all. But…what about MOMS??????? No longer should the non-stop, hard working women of the house have to hideout in the bathroom, sneak away to the garage or run out to the grocery store for some “Me” time!

Thanks to Chicago’s Divas N’ Design, moms can now have a space to call their own! The mom-owned and operated interior design firm is launching the Most Outrageous Mom-Cave (M.O.M) contest, asking frazzled moms to submit their story of where they go to hide-away, their make-shift methods of escape, or why they deserve a space to call their own.  Launching on Valentine’s Day, one lucky winner will be awarded a personalized private space in her home valued at $20,000. A place to read, create, recharge and relax- now that’s what every mom needs!
“We are calling all moms to unite and create a place in their home to call their own,” says Karyn Musick, president of Chicago-based Divas N’ Design. “We are constantly called on to design the man-cave, the poker room, entertainment center, sports dug-out, the office, but never have we been summoned to create a getaway for the mom of the house.”

The Divas N’ Design are on a mission to teach women how to create a personal M.O.M-Cave hangout in their own home.   “Moms need more than just a desk in the kitchen or a drawer in the bathroom.  They need a "cave" to call their own, a place to re-group and reflect, read a book, or whatever their heart desires.  Just think of a space that can transport you from a crazy kid moment into calm state of mind in your own home, in a matter of seconds.”

M.O.M-Cave contestants are asked to submit their stories, photos and/or videos to  The most outrageous stories will be highlighted weekly, on the Divas N’ Design Facebook Page and blog. The top ten with the most “likes” via Facebook by May 6th will be presented to a panel of expert moms and one lucky winner will come out triumphant, to be announced on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012.

“All moms need a place to relax and to call their own,” says Musick. “But more importantly, they need a space to be themselves- a place to do the things they love, harness their creative energy, meditate, scrapbook- whatever they desire! And the Divas and I will combine the winner’s style and desires with our creative design skills to create a space perfect for a queen.” Once chosen, Divas N’ Design will conceptualize and create the M.O.M-Cave for the winning mom based on personal consultation.

Making this M.O.M-Cave creation possible are several local vendors including: Stitchworks Fabrics, H&D Electric for lighting needs, Closet Organization, Chicago Furniture Source, Liz Chazen Artistry by the Chazen group for painting needs (including a personalized mural), LandHaus Builders & Developers for carpentry work, Silk Thumb for greenery and floral arrangements, and more!


Divas N’ Design has been creating spaces for clients throughout Chicago and its suburbs for over 20 years.  The full service interior design firm focuses on all aspects of the design process to insure a cohesive element that is inspired by sophistication and style. Their design team takes a “hands on” role when working on projects to assure that all runs smoothly and within a timely schedule. Whether designing a home in the suburbs of Chicago or a condominium surrounded by the breathtaking skyline downtown, they are passionate that the outcome should be nothing short of outstanding! For more information please visit

Throughout the entire contest, Divas N' Design will be blogging great ideas and tips to help promote special spaces for woman  and to kickstart this design trend!   For more contest info and to enter for your chance to win, or vote on stories already submitted, click here.

Win McKenna-American Girl Doll of The Year or Signed Books Through Midnight 3/30!

Mary Casanova, author of McKenna for American Girl, greets her fans and signs books at American Girl Place, Chicago

*Last call to enter to win McKenna, the rockin' gymnast American Girl Doll of The Year.  ChiIL Mama will announce our winner tomorrow 3/31/12!    Enter at the bottom of this post through midnight tonight 3/30 for your chance to win.
It was our great pleasure to meet author, Mary Casanova, at The American Girl Place in Chicago at The Watertower Mall.    She was absolutely gracious, friendly, and personable and took time to chat with every child, despite a good sized line of fans waiting to get their books signed.   My 11 year old son was one of the few boys in line with his little sis, and she took time to get to know him as well.   She signed a book mark for him and told him that she has other chapter books that might appeal to him.   He was stoked to check out The Klipfish Code, a historical adventure set in Norway that she suggested to him.

She's a prolific, talented writer with a wide range of books for early readers through older pre-teens.  She's written other American Girl books featuring Jess, Chrissa and Cecile.   You can find a full listing of her works and more at Mary Casanova's site here.

The book signing was such a rare treat.   We love to meet the authors behind the words of stories we enjoy.  This time the fans were fun as well.   We met an actual, real life gymnast named McKenna, and a set of twins, like the American Girl McKenna's little sisters.   Of course, my own daughter, Sage, was there too, with her coincidences.   (She's also a level 4 gymnast, entering 4th grade this year, with a Grandma Peg(gy), who spent time with crutches and a cast for a broken ankle. She has cousins Kenna and McCall, and has a last name, Mara!)

American Girl Place rocks!   Each time we've gone, we've met girls who came in from several states away to visit the store, or drove hours to get there.   We're so lucky to live nearby!   We had a ball at McKenna's release party, and book signing.   We recently promoted a visit March 10th from American Ballet Theatre, who taught dance at the store, in conjunction with their production of Giselle 3/22-25.   We loved learning hula and Hawaiian culture at the store with a delegation that flew in from half way around the world.   It's truly a multicultural gathering place, and an empowering girlcentric space.

Check out the site for American Girl Place Chicago for more special events, guest appearances, merch and more. 

We were also super stoked to get a package of new American Girl Doll books in the mail.   There are some excellent new releases just out!    We'll have a full set of book reviews (on the titles in red) in the near future.   Check in with ChiIL Mama like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often.   Here's a sampler of the new releases and where you can buy them, too.

  •  ADVICE:  A Smart Girl's Guide to Liking Herself-even on the bad days
  • CONTEMPORARY FICTION:  Innerstar University Series--"a book staring YOU with more than 20 endings" and an on line play component.   We'll be reviewing The New Girl and Behind the Scenes
  • MYSTERIES:   We'll be reviewing The Cameo Necklace, A Cecile Mystery, The Crystal Ball, a Rebecca Mystery and The Hidden Gold, A Marie-Grace Mystery

I was thrilled that my reluctant reader got super excited and engaged with the books and has been carrying them with her everywhere and devouring them.   American Girl is committed to not only entertaining but educating girls and helping them grow intellectually, physically, and emotionally.  

We are giving away two copies of McKenna's book, signed by author, Mary Casanova!  

One lucky reader will also get a copy of The Take the Challenge book.

Click here to enter for the McKenna doll and book set ($105 value)

Click here to enter for the 2 signed McKenna Books-one winner will get a Take the Challenge book, too!

Good luck with the sweepstakes!   For our past McKenna coverage, check out the links below. 

McKenna launch party at The AmericanGirl Doll Store at Water Tower Place, Chicago.

McKenna visits with gymnasts from The Chicago Comets competition team.

Farewell to Kanani, Hawaiian American Girl Doll of the Year, 2011 and welcome McKenna.


Remember, McKenna's only available during 2012. 

Act Out: Midsummer Nights Dream and Taming of the Shrew at Chicago Shakespeare Closing

It's Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's 25th Anniversary Season and they're continuing their impressive world class offerings.   We've been raving about  A Midsummer Night's Dream and Taming of the Shrew, Short Shakespeare since opening night of both shows late last month.   ChiIL Live Shows highly recommends both.   If you haven't gotten out to see these productions yet, don't delay.   Shrew and Midsummer close April 7th & 8th respectively.    Both are family friendly, impressive and accessible.   Congrats again to ChiIL Mama's family 4 pack Taming of the Shrew ticket winner, Kathy E.    She'll be checking out the show this weekend.

You could travel the globe and be hard pressed to find a rival for the award winning Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.   In fact, on opening day of Taming of The Shrew, Chi Shakes was playing host to delegates from Shakespeare Fests around the world.         

Short Shakespeare in particular, is designed with families in mind.   They keep the original language and intent in tact, but condense Taming of the Shrew into an action packed romp with a few modern nods, like sunglasses and funky boxer shorts beneath ornate, traditional costumes and contemporary music at transition points.   These additions bridge the historical gap and help the audience more easily grasp the modern relevance of Shakespeare's timeless themes and endearing characters.  We also liked the female director, Rachel Rockwell's take on the "taming", which is sometimes played up as a misogynistic nightmare.   Her take was that Kate was a victim of labeling and self fulfilling prophecy and instead of having her will broken by her new husband, she became more completely herself by someone who could appreciate her spunk and intensity.

Kate, played by Ericka Ratcliff, and Bianca, played by Tiffany Yvonne Cox, were a true pleasure to see.   On opening day, we ran into another friend and member of the press, who plays "count the black people" with her kids when they go to theatre and movies.  She was elated to see the sisters were played by women of color.  Of course, in an ideal world, skin color would be as irrelevant in casting as eye color, and Chicago is moving in that direction.   Still, I'm amused by her game and agree it's a valid point she makes with her children, as they strive to find role models in entertainment that represent and resemble them.  Kudos to Chicago Shakespeare for casting an interracial leading couple, and letting talent and temperament trump genetics.   The entire cast was impeccable, amusing and adept.

We're big fans of prepping the kids when they're going to see a challenging play.   We try to read the books first, when it's literature based theatre and the kids still love playing the same/different game when we've read a book version or seen a movie version first.   There are numerous adaptations of Shakespeare's works that are age appropriate for a wide range of kids.   This prep can be particularly helpful with younger theatre goers or older kids who have little experience with the language, so they'll know the basic plot going in and be less confused or intimidated if they can't easily grasp the unfamiliar words.    Our absolute favorite children's book version is by author Bruce Coville, who also has a sweet version of The Tempest.   The story and illustrations are amazing.   There's also a fun, early chapter book in the Magic Tree House series that my kids enjoyed in early elementary school.   Here's a link with loads of great suggestions for introducing Shakespeare to Children, including an audio version including both A Midsummer Night's Dream and Taming of The Shrew.

That said, Chicago Shakespeare does a fabulous job with the playbills for their short Shakespeare.  If you don't have time to check out a book or movie version before hand, go early and read the program together.  There's a short form of the story, cool bits of trivia, fun bios, and games, all presented in a colorful, funky, visual way.    

My kids' first live Shakespeare show was Midsummer Night's Dream, performed by Rosebriar Shakespeare Company of Columbus, OH, back in 2009.   A close, family friend was in the outdoor production, Puck was a puppet, and the kids were enamored.   Check out our Midsummer 2009 coverage here.

Midsummer is a great introduction to the bard, as it's colorful, amusing and fast paced.   Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has a much slicker, high budget production, that's truly something to see.   I've seen this play done numerous times over the years and this one was by far the funniest version I've ever had the pleasure of attending!   The audience was laughing enthusiastically throughout the show.   I won't spoil Puck's fabulous reveal, but it was a creative twist, worthy of the bard.  Oberon was so smolderingly sexy that it was easy to believe he bewitched and commanded everyone.   Between the charismatic actors, the gorgeous costumes and sets and the consummate acting, this show makes for a memorable, Shakespeare experience for a first timer or a seasoned aficionado.   Both are highly recommended.

Check out Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's main site for ticket booking, behind the scenes info, photos, education materials and more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happy World Theatre Day!

ChiIL Live Shows/ChiIL Mama celebrate Chicago's amazing, world class theatre scene year round, with original video interviews, photo filled features, show reviews and ticket give aways.    We cover adult shows and family friendly offerings and a range from elaborate Broadway in Chicago touring productions to free, quirky store front offerings.   So check in with ChiIL Live Shows/ChiIL Mama like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often. Here's what ChiIL Live Shows has coming soon   Original Video Interviews:  Adventure Stage Theatre--The Giver:  Video footage and a photo filled feature on opening day of The Giver with author Lois Lowry.     *Also check out our video interview with Tom Arvetis of Adventure Stage right here.   
We have an exclusive interview with Tom Arvetis, Adventure Stage's Producing Artistic Director, and his infant daughter, Vivian.   Check out our video above for insights into balancing creative work and parenting, life after birth with 3 girls under 6, Walk Two Moons, and The Giver.   Walk Two Moons was adapted by Tom, who also expounds on "adapting" to fatherhood & life in theatre.   We continue our series on "How Creatives Parents and How Parents Create". 

The House Theatre--Death and Harry Houdini--Original Video Interview with Dennis Watkins, star of Death and Harry Houdini and Magic Parlour.
Also click the links to check out our recent Houdini Box video interviews at Chicago Children's Theatre with:
Reviews on:
  • Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's Midsummer Night's Dream 
& Taming of the Shrew
  • Lifeline Theatre-Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed (K)
  • Collaboraction's Me Tube
  •  Goodman Theatre's Camino Real
  • Step Up Productions-The Sweetest Swing in Baseball
  • Adventure Stage-The Giver (K)
  • Polarity-Tom Jones
  • UrbanTheater Company-F***KING A
 *K= kid friendly

For today's World Theatre day events in Chicago, click here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Miss Ann Ticket Winner & Show Today at Noon at Beat Kitchen

Congrats to our Little Miss Ann 4 ticket winner--Melissa P.    We sent a notification e-mail Friday and hope you enjoy the show today at Beat Kitchen at noon! 

ChiIL Mama's stoked to sponsor Beat Kitchen's Concerts for Kids.  We have free family 4 packs of tickets to ALL kids shows there, every Sunday, and we pick new winners every Friday.   So save the dates and enter like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often!

Entering is easy, and winning rocks.    ChiIL Out with ChiIL Mama for loads of free tickets give aways in Chi-Town and CDs, DVDs, books, toys, and more nationwide.   We also feature original band footage, stills and video interviews, and we'll give you the heads up whenever great shows are coming to town.   

Save the Dates...   
Check out our hot and happening Concerts for Kids! lineup
Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont
shows at noon on Sunday

March 25: Little Miss Ann Band
April 15: The Boogers
April 22: The Candy Band
April 29: Mary Macaroni
May 6: Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
May 20: Mr. Singer & The Sharp Cookies

Today's Show:

Little Miss Ann Band, March 25   
Return of Concert for Kids favorite

The last time Little Miss Ann Band hit the Beat Kitchen stage they were celebrating the release of their their cd, Walk With Me. You can see some footage from that show thanks to   Perhaps you'll even spot your child onstage.

Little Miss Ann Band returns this Sunday at noon. Considered one of the "most influential kids musicians" by Time Out, Little Miss Ann has earned her spot as the queen of kindie rock in Chicago with great music and fantastic shows.

Beat Kitchen is located at 2100 W. Belmont.

To keep up to date with Concerts for Kids, become our Facebook friend at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Last Call For Four Free Tickets to Intonation's Rock-N-Pop Circus & Laura Doherty and Current #Giveaways

Enter here through midnight tonight!!   

Click the links for entry forms and full show details.   Entry is easy, free & totally confidential (no mailing lists or spam), and winning ROCKS!   Some are short in time and have low entries, so you have an excellent chance of winning.



ChiIL Mama's current Give Aways:

  • Laura Doherty-Schubas (click here to enter)

    (kindie-all ages family folk show)

    1 day left *ending at midnight tonight!!   3/21/12

  • Laura Doherty acoustically rocks your kid’s world with breezy folk-pop tunes from her new CD, Shining Like a Star, which celebrates the many ways children express themselves and celebrate their uniqueness. Songs such as "I'm a Tree" and "Vegetable Party" share the wonders of nature, along with dance tunes such as "Hula Hoop", and "Rocket Ship". Other songs include hits from Laura's award-winning CD, Kids in the City, which pays tribute to her kind of town - Chicago! Laura is a long-time teaching artist in the Old Town School of Folk Music Wiggleworms program.

  • Intonation-Rock-N-Pop Circus-kids in bands this Saturday 1-5pm!! (click to enter)

    (kindie-all ages family show)

    1 day left *ending at midnight tonight!!   3/21/12

    *This show will also feature a special appearance from Chicago Rap Legend Psalm One and her students in Rhymeschool, a joint program with IMW focused on hip-hop!

    The family-friendly musical extravaganza will also feature Rock Star Face Painting, Punk Rock Hair Styling, a musical petting zoo, and more!


    Young Rockers Join The Circus!!
    Chicago’s Intonation Music Workshop presents “Rock-N-Pop Circus”, featuring 10 of its kid rock bands in one show!!

    Here at ChiIL Mama, two of our favorite things are circus and rockin' kids in how could we not have free tickets for YOU?! 

    Intonation is doing fantastic work with Chi-Town kids in underserved areas all over the city.  Currently teaching nearly 400 students at 10 sites around the city, IMW provides a safe and positive environment for kids who have few other options.   We were just at Alhambra Palace for Go Red for Women, and it's a magnificently magical place that's a fitting showcase for these talented kids.

    On Saturday, March 24th, The Intonation Music Workshop will present its annual Rock-N-Pop Circus, a Saturday afternoon showcase featuring 10 student bands at Alhambra Palace.

    All the bands in the Rock-N-Pop Circus are comprised of students from IMW after school music programs around the city. This year’s event will include performances from Blue Swagg, Chi-Rockers, BluTube, Dangerous Rockstars, Flamin' Hotz, Neon Park, Pop Tots, Rex, RhymeSchool, and Scorps! 

    Rock-N-Pop Circus
    Saturday, March 24, 1:00-5:00 PM
    Alhambra Palace
    1240 W. Randolph St., Chicago IL

    Tickets for adults are $5 in advance, $7 at the door.  Kids are $3 in advance, $5 at the door.  Children under 5 are free!

    The students in the after-school Intonation Music Workshop program -- all between the ages of 6 and 17 -- learn the rudiments of the instruments in rock music, form bands, and begin to play shows for their communities and beyond.  Past Intonation bands have performed on stages at Lollapalooza, Millennium Park, and the Bud Biliken Parade, to name a few. 

    “Arts programs are disappearing from schools at an alarming rate,” says Simons, “And organizations like ours are helping fill the gap. Our workshop exists not only to teach kids music, but also all the other things that playing music instills in us – confidence, teamwork, the satisfaction of setting a goal and achieving it.”

    Reserve your tickets by clicking here.  or click here for your chance to win 4 from ChiIL Mama!   Enter through midnight tonight 3/21/12 then check back tomorrow to see if YOU won.

    Intonation-Rock-N-Pop Circus-kids in bands this Saturday 1-5pm!!

    For more information, please visit



  • Little Miss Ann-Beat Kitchen Concerts for Kids this Sunday at noon (click to enter)

    (kindie-all ages family show)

    2 days left  *ending at midnight Thursday night!!   3/22/12

    Check out ChiIL Mama like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often.   We have 4 free tickets to all Beat Kitchen Concerts for kids and great family friendly theatre and kindie shows all over Chi-Town!!



     Sage was elated to meet author, Mary Casanova, at American Girl Place in Chicago!

  • American Girl Doll McKenna SIGNED Books Give Away-2 sets (click here to enter)

    10 days left


  • American Girl Doll McKenna Doll & Book Set ($105 value) Give Away (click here to enter)

    10 days left


  • The Giver-4 theatre tickets to Adventure Stage's adaptation of Lois Lowry's Newberry Award winning novel! (click to enter)

    14 days left

CircEsteem Team Circus Show 2012-Toys Take Over-Opening Group Scenes & Lyra

Check out our HD show video from the beginning of Toys Take Over, CircEsteem's Team Circus Show 2012.   This show was entirely created, produced, directed, choreographed and publicized by the kids themselves.

Monday, March 19, 2012

ACT OUT: The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later at Redtwist Theatre (Review)

Where else can you currently see 8 actors take on upwards of 50 characters in two interrelated shows?!

Redtwist Theatre is one of our local favorites, with a long string of Jeff recommended productions, and an intimate performance space.   They've got a new entry way into their black box space, off the front lobby now, and a thought provoking show that provides a new entry way into the hot button issue of how hate impacts society.  We've been promoting The Laramie Project:  Ten Years Later since February, on our Facebook and Twitter streams, but if you still haven't seen it yet, you just have until April 7th to check it out.   

We were blown away by Red Twist's current and incredibly timely offering, The Laramie Project:  Ten Years Later.   The choice of simple costume pieces ...glasses here, a tie there, and the presentation of the show on a bare bones set, only serve to accentuate the immensity of the content.   Thirteen years after the horrific beating death of Matthew Shepard, hate crime protection has finally been enacted on the federal level by President Obama, after his two predecessors failed, yet hate crimes, harassment and bullying are still increasing.  As Matthew's mother so eloquently states, "These plays are not about being gay.  They are about being hurt for being different, or perceived to be different, whatever that difference may be."    As the right wing amps up the hate rhetoric to the point where gay teen suicides are in the news frequently and bullies feel sanctified in their violence against others, this production's message is as urgent as ever.

I was saddened though not surprised by the townspeople's collective amnesia, and eagerness to spin history to support a more palpable view of themselves.   A mere ten years later, people who once saw irrefutable court room proof of a heinous, lethal gay bashing, bandied about victim blaming falsehoods about a drug deal gone bad.   Who wants to openly identify with a homicidal homophobic town where peaceful college students are killed for pocket change and partner preferences?   It seems a robbery co-opted into a hate crime by liberals, to advance their politics, is an easier lie to believe.   

On a parallel note, my husband's presently on a TV shoot with someone who was a student at Columbine during the shootings, and she recently met with similar resistance and hostility when she wanted to make a 10 year documentary.   Even as an insider, many of her classmates refused to talk to her and were adamantly against the project.   People wanted to forget and not dredge up the past, and gave her so much resistance that the project may not advance.

Still, for all the haters and amnesiacs, there is an encouragingly dogged group in Laramie and beyond, still making sure Matthew's death meant something, and will make a difference for future generations.  The scene of the gay marriage political debate and vote gave me hope, as well.   Even with our current two steps forward, one step back, politics in 2012, there are still leaders who will cross conservative and liberal lines and party views to vote with wisdom and compassion.   This courageous and vital set of shows spread the message to that many more people.   Suggested for adults audiences and mature teens.   Highly recommended.

L-R: Jan Ellen Graves, Gene Cordon, Eleanor Katz, Matt Babbs, Matthew Klingler,Lisa Herceg, Kurt Brocker, Devon Candura,  Photo: Kimberly Loughlin

The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later
By Moisés Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris, and Stephen Belber   
Directed by three-time Jeff Award-winner, Greg Kolack
The ten-year epilogue is a companion piece to the iconic, The Laramie Project,
one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. and around the world.


On October 6, 1998, a gay University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, left the Fireside Bar in Laramie, Wyoming, with Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. The following day he was discovered at the edge of town. He was tied to a fence, brutally beaten, and close to death.

By the following day, Matthew's attack and the town of Laramie had become the focus of an international news story. On October 12, 1998, Matthew Shepard died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

On November 14, 1998, the members of Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie, Wyoming, and conducted interviews with the people of the town. During the next year, Tectonic would return to Laramie several times and conduct over two hundred interviews. The play that resulted is edited from those interviews, as well as from journal entries by members of the company and other found texts.


The Laramie Project premiered at The Ricketson Theatre, performed by the Denver Center Theatre Company in February, 2000. It was then performed at the Union Square Theater in New York City, before a November, 2002, performance in Laramie, Wyoming. The play has also been performed by high schools, colleges, and community theaters across the country, as well as professional playhouses around the world. In addition, the HBO film directed by Moisés Kaufman, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in March, 2002.

The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later is the epilogue to the original. Ten years after Shepard's murder, members of the Tectonic Theater Project returned to Laramie to conduct follow-up interviews with residents featured in the original play. Those interviews were turned into this companion piece. The play debuted as a simultaneous reading at nearly 150 theatres across the US and internationally on October 12, 2009 - the 11th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death. Most of the theaters were linked by webcam to New York City where Judy Shepard and the play's producers and writers gave an opening speech to begin this unique memorial and evening of theater.

Greg Kolack, former Artistic Director of Circle Theatre, has won three Jeff Awards as Best Director, most recently for columbinus, at Raven Theatre. Greg has been interested in directing these two projects together since the nationwide reading in 2009. Several years ago, he visited Laramie to gather research for the project. On January 6, 2012, Greg made his second trip to Laramie on the cusp of the rehearsal period, to meet with various real-life characters depicted in The Laramie Project. His travelogue, reported via email to the cast each evening was filled with first-person reports shared by the locals who lived through the experience, and who shared with Greg their unique insights and poignant reflections on the events over thirteen years ago that catalyzed tectonic change in our society. Greg’s diligent research and his eye for detail as an award-winning director, will surely inform and enliven this production with a unique theatrical style.

Both shows will be performed by only eight actors, who portray dozens of roles in our signature, intimate space. The actors and director have personally talked with the real characters in the play, and also with members of the Tectonic Theater Project. A number of post-show discussions are scheduled for groups and upon special request.

Matt Babbs, Kurt Brocker, Devon Candura, Gene Cordon, Lisa Herceg, Jan Ellen Graves, Eleanor Katz, Matthew Klingler
Greg Kolack (Director), Allison Queen (Stage Manager), Amanda Lautermilch (Assistant Stage Manager), Justin Castellano (Tech Director), Andrei Onegin (Set Designer), Rachel Spear (Sound Designer), Christopher Burpee (Lighting Designer), kClare Kemock (Costume Designer), Mary Reynard Liss (Vocal Coach) Jan Ellen Graves (Graphic Designer), Charles Bonilla (Box Office Manager), Johnny Garcia (Associate Producer), Michael Colucci & Jan Ellen Graves (Producers)

The Laramie Project (the original)
Saturdays Mar 17, 24, 31, Apr 7, at 3pm
Running time: approx. 2:30 incl. 2 intermissions

The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later
Performs:  Thu, Fri, Sat at 7:30pm & Sun at 3pm, Also April 1 at 7:30pm
Sat, Apr 7, 7:30pm
Running Time:
approx. 1:45 incl. 1 intermission
Thursdays, $25; Fridays & Sundays, $27; Saturdays, $30 (seniors & students $5 off)
Group Rates:
Special discounts for groups of 10 or more, and groups of 25 or more

Call: 773-728-7529

Redtwist is located at 1044 W Bryn Mawr, 2 blks W of LSD, 2 blks E of the Red Line El station. Street parking (paybox/meters until 9pm) is available on Bryn Mawr, side streets, and Broadway. Please reserve 48 hours in advance. Credit cards accepted by phone and via Paypal to guarantee seating.

CircEsteem-HD Video--Pre Team's Pre Show Opener for Toys Take Over

Check out the next gen of up and coming CircEsteem performers with Pre-team's juggling pre-show!   ChiIL Mama's own Du-Jay and Sagezilla love learning from their mentors on team and were excited to be asked to open the Team Circus show yesterday.    For upcoming show dates, class info and more, check out CircEsteem's main site right here.

CircEsteem Team Circus Show 2012--Toys Take Over #1 Juggling

Check out ChiIL Mama's original HD videos from Toys Take Over. This show features CircEsteem's performance team and was entirely conceived, publicized, choreographed, directed, produced and acted by the kids themselves!

#1 features ball juggling.

CircEsteem Team Circus Show-Toys Take Over 3-18-12 (photo filled recap)

Here's the "best of" our original show stills from the 2nd half of Toys Take Over, CircEsteem's 3rd Annual Team Circus.   Look for our HD show clips of the first half all week!

It's a delight to see teens involved in producing, directing, choreographing, publicizing and enacting an entire circus arts show themselves.    And these are extraordinary teens.    

They've traveled the country, Germany and Switzerland performing hundreds of shows.   They're not only excellent performers, they teach and mentor younger kids in CircEsteem's highly recommended classes and summer camps.   

ChiIL Mama's own Du-Jay (11) and Sagezilla (8) have been involved with CircEsteem since fall of 2010 and love it!   They've both acquired the skills for pre-team now and can be seen in the show, opening for their team mentors.

Sagezilla's contortionist tricks include going through juggling hoops!

We highly recommend CircEsteem for the playfully serious vibe, excellent caliber of instruction, and their commitment to multiculturalism and making circus arts affordable to all Chi-Town kids.   

Du-Jay was shy and reluctant to even do a scene with a partner in class when he first began at CircEsteem.   Now he has three shows under his belt, with a real audience and little stage fright.  He has blossomed into quite the confident kid and uses his circus skills to break the ice in other social situations.

Four of the talented team kids are headed off to college in the fall with the help of scholarships and matching funds from CircEsteem's work/college program.   If you'd like to take classes--available for toddlers to adults--or register for summer camp (slots are filling fast!), or make a donation to this rockin' non profit,  then check out their main site here.   For loads more CircEsteem coverage from ChiIL Mama, try the search bar in the top right and/or type CircEsteem in at ChiIL Mama's YouTube Channel

*We've bartered a reduced fee for circus classes in exchange for video, photography & writing services.   All opinions expressed in features are our own.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Replacement Winner-Taming of the Shrew

We have a winner no longer able to attend Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's Taming of the Shrew-Short Shakespeare, so we've chosen another name.   Our new winner is Kathy E.  Big congrats!  You have 4 tickets waiting for you at the box office for your choice of shows throughout the rest of the run, pending availability.  Enjoy.   Highly recommended, family friendly fun!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kindie: Sunday Human Tim + Robot Tim Winner Announced

Congrats to our ticket winner for Human Tim + Robot Tim this Sunday at noon at Beat Kitchen's Concerts for kids--Sarah Dennis!  Your name will be on the guest list at the door for 4 tickets to the show.   Enjoy! 

Act Out: Openings-Me Tube, CircEsteem Toys Take Over & Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

Act Out is where you'll find our take on Chi-Town's amazing theatre scene.   We review family friendly and adult shows and let you know what's opening, closing, extended and highly recommended.   We love theatre and there are zillions of shows running in Chicago simultaneously.  We also feature original video interviews with key players in the theatre scene and live photos and footage when we can.   Obviously we can't catch everything, but we see as many shows as we can, and give you the low down.   Also check out, like, and/or follow our ChiIL Live Shows Facebook Page for breaking daily music and theatre updates and press releases that don't run elsewhere.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get out and play!  
 production photos from Collaboraction

Saturday Opening:  Me Tube at Collaboraction   

Tonight, 11 year old Du-Jay and I are stoked to be checkin' out opening night of Me Tube and we'll have a full review for you shortly.  COLLABORACTION PRESENTS YURI LANE’S METUBE FOR A FOUR-WEEK RUN MARCH 16 – APRIL 8 

 Collaboraction announces the addition of a special show into their 2011 – 2012 season; MeTube featuring beatbox harmonica virtuoso Yuri Lane. Written by Rachel Havrelock and directed by Rachel Havrelock and John Wilson, with live visuals by Sharif Ezzat, MeTube will run for four weeks only, March 16 – April 8, 2012 Fri – Sun evenings at the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave. Saturday evening performances will also feature special musical guests and post show collaborations.  

What is it like to be an overnight Internet sensation? Chicago beatboxer Yuri Lane knows all about it. His beatbox harmonica video, featuring his extraordinary talent, went viral on YouTube, garnering millions of hits and making him an instant star in cyberspace. Created with Sharif Ezzat and Rachel Havrelock, MeTube, Yuri’s new sixty minute multimedia beatbox show, reflects on this exhilarating and strange experience by turning virtual reality into theatrical fantasy. Yuri Lane is a world-renowned solo beatbox performer who combines beatbox, acting, mime and movement to tell a story. 

With his creative partner Sharif Ezzat and his wife Rachel Havrelock, Yuri created “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah,” a hip-hop play that tackles the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah” had its world premiere at Theater J in Washington DC in 2003 where it was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for best new play. The show enjoyed runs in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore and Atlanta. It toured across the US at theaters, campuses and peace events. International venues include Helsinki, London and Jerusalem. 

Inspired by Yuri’s famous beatbox harmonica video, which garnered over 17 million views on YouTube, MeTube was previously seen in Chicago for two performances in partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival as part of the Victory Gardens Fresh Squeezed Series.   Click here to watch the videos behind the man. MeTube opens Saturday, March 17. Performances will run through April 8, 2012, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. There will also be an industry night Monday, April 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15-$20. A limited number of $9 student rush tickets are available one hour prior to curtain. To purchase tickets or for more information visit or call 312.226.9633.  

Artist Bio: Yuri Lane was born on a small island in Holland. His parents, a painter and a violinist, soon moved to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district to ride the 70's counter-culture current. Raised in the Haight, Yuri learned rhythm by osmosis and began to breathe beats. In the 80's, Yuri started breakdancing and teaching moves at middle school parties. He discovered his true passion in a sixth grade math class where Yuri made sounds to compensate for his lack of skill in arithmetic. When his teacher ordered him to "turn off the radio," Yuri knew that he was on to something. Yuri spent his teenage years on stage at theaters like San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater and Berkeley Repertory Theater while attending high school at the San Francisco School of the Arts. After finishing a theater degree at the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Yuri returned to San Francisco to pursue mime, improvisation and alternative theatrical forms. During the dot-com boom, Yuri found himself as "the geek" in several local and national commercials as well as in TV episodes.  

As San Francisco's boom went bust, Yuri returned to theater and began developing his one- man human beatbox musical, Soundtrack City. Yuri created Soundtrack City by performing one scene at a time at clubs, bars, coffee shops, and small theaters of San Francisco. The full- length production of Soundtrack City debuted in November 2001, with runs in San Francisco and New York in 2002 and a run in Chicago in 2005. Soundtrack City chronicled the transformation of urban neighborhoods during gentrification. With his partner Sharif Ezzat and his wife Rachel Havrelock, Yuri created “the coolly extraordinary” From Tel Aviv to Ramallah, a hip-hop play that tackles the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.1    From Tel Aviv to Ramallah steers clear of ideology in order to show the daily lives of young people during the Second Intifada. From Tel Aviv to Ramallah had its world premiere at Theater J in Washington DC in 2003, where it was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for best new play. The show enjoyed runs in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore and Atlanta. It toured across the US at theaters, campuses, and peace events. International venues include Helsinki, London and Jerusalem.  

Beatbox Harmonica is Yuri’s extraordinary talent, which the world began to experience with the birth of YouTube. In fall 2007, his beatbox harmonica video became the number one video on YouTube. This led to live beatbox performances at Google parties around the world, several commercials and the formation of a YouTube community bound by beatbox.  

When the economic crash led to a slowdown in sponsored appearances, Yuri began work on MeTube, a personal journey through the world of YouTube celebrity that confronts issues of authenticity, originality, and self-image through beatbox and live video performance. MeTube premiered at the Chicago Humanities Festival in spring 2010. Yuri hopes to touch just a fraction of his 15 million (but who’s counting) YouTube fans with a live show in real time. He is excited to bring,” MeTube” to Victory Gardens and be a part of the wonderful Fresh Squeezed series at VG!!!  

1 Michael Phillips, “ ‘Beatbox Journey’ a clear-eyed look at Mideast issues,” Chicago Tribune, Dec. 2, 2004. 


Sunday Opening (family friendly, 5+) Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed at Lifeline:
Wilbur (Nathaniel Niemi), a naked mole rat, indulges in his love of getting dressed; in Lifeline Theatre’s world premiere family musical, “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed,” adapted by Robert Kauzlaric, music by Paul Gilvary, and directed by Paul S. Holmquist, based on the popular children’s book by Mo Willems. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.  


Lifeline produces much of our all time favorite kids' theatre in Chicago!  Their book based adaptations and world premiers are incomparable.   Our kids have grown up with Lifeline, and we've been enjoying their high caliber, world class shows for kids and adults for years.   We'll be checking out opening day and we'll have a full review up soon.    

Preview Performances: Saturday March 17 at 1 p.m. and Sunday, March 18 at 11 a.m. New Stories Come Alive! Hour Workshops Every Sunday During the Run Lifeline Theatre’s KidSeries presents a world premiere musical adaptation of Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, based on the book by New York Times bestselling author Mo Willems (Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!).  The production is adapted by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric (two-time Non-Equity Jeff Award-winning adaptor), with music by Paul Gilvary, and directed by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Paul S. Homquist (Non-Equity Jeff Award nominated director).   Unlike other naked mole rats, young Wilbur loves to wear clothes. By daring to defy social tradition, Wilbur makes life miserable for himself and his best friend. When the teasing and bullying at school get out of control, the pups take their case before Grand-pah: the greatest, wisest, and most naked naked mole rat ever. Will Grand-pah crush Wilbur’s self-expression, or open the door of acceptance to a misunderstood outsider? A heartwarming lesson on tolerance, in a world premiere musical adaptation for the whole family. This production is appropriate for children ages five and up, and runs approximately one hour with no intermission. The book will be on sale in the lobby.   

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed runs Saturday, March 17 – Sunday, May 6, 2012 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave.  Press opening is Sunday, March 18 at 1 p.m.  Regular performance times are Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.  (Previews are Saturday, March 17 at 1 p.m. and Sunday, March 18 at 11 a.m.)  Ticket prices are $15 and may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting  

PLUS: Join Lifeline Theatre every Sunday at 12 p.m. during the run of Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed (following the 11 a.m. show, or before the 1 p.m. show) for our new Stories Come Alive! Hour. Children of all ages will get up close and personal with the book that inspired the play in an interactive storytelling session, followed by theatre games exploring the characters, plot, and themes of the play. The cost is only $10 per child. Parents are welcome, though not required. Contact the Lifeline Theatre Box Office at 773-761-4477 for more information. 

Lifeline Theatre also offers “Name Your Price” tickets a half-hour before the show (subject to availability), group rates and other discounts available upon request.  A party room is available for full-service birthday and special event parties.  Free parking is available at the designated lot west of the theatre (NE corner of Morse and Ravenswood) with free shuttle service before and after the show.  Street parking is also available and Lifeline Theatre is handicapped and CTA accessible (Red Line Morse stop/busses).  

Also highly recommended Sunday:
12pm & 4pm CircEsteem Teen Circus--Toys Take Over (family friendly, all ages)  

You won't want to miss Toys Take Over this Sunday March 18th and 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm.  Toys Take Over is the third annual youth created, directed, and produced circus show presented by the CircusTeens. These young performers are part of CircEsteem's youth employment in the arts program that hires the most talented and skilled teens to teach, perform and mentor younger students.  

Collectively, they have performed hundreds of shows throughout the United States, Germany and Switzerland.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for kids and all of the profit will go directly to the performers. The CircusTeens are also collecting new toys to give to less fortunate kids right here in Chicago.  

Can't make it to the show but still want to support CircEsteem's teen performers?  Forward this email to a friend or share it on Facebook. Don't miss this great opportunity to support local, grassroots, youth created social circus in action.   For more information, check out CircEsteem's main site, right here.