Tuesday, February 28, 2017

ChiIL Mama's Adventures With KitchenAid's Artisan® Mini Stand Mixer

One of our favorite releases this past year 
has been 
KitchenAid's Artisan Mini.


It was our great pleasure to ChiIL out in Chi, IL with KitchenAid, at Chicago's Soho House, and check out their Artisan® Mini stand mixer in action. I own an urban home built in 1913, with a small kitchen, where counter space is slim. It also happens to have bright blue tiles on the bottom half of the walls that were installed somewhere around the 1950s. I adore the pop of color in the new Artisan Minis, and the Twilight Blue one would fit right in to my kitchen decor and lifestyle! There are 8 colors available. The Artisan® Mini stand mixer is offered in Contour Silver, Empire Red, Guava Glaze, Honeydew, Hot Sauce, Matte Black, Matte Grey, Matte White, Orange Sorbet and Twilight Blue.

KitchenAid has exciting news for Stand Mixer lovers everywhere. The power, iconic design, color choices and endless possibilities synonymous with this culinary workhorse are now available in a size ideally suited for limited counter space and “smaller batch” lifestyles.
The new Artisan® Mini Stand Mixer offers the same power and performance as the brand’s Classic™ Stand Mixer in an appealing smaller size. The Mini Artisan mixer features a 3.5-quart capacity and is 20% smaller and 25% lighter. It joins a collection that includes 4.5-, 5-, 6- 7-, and 8-quart models, and represents the first downsizing of the Stand Mixer since 1962. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $399.99.

“Particularly among millennials, urban dwellers and empty nesters we saw a desire for a smaller mixer that provides the same overall features of our larger models,” notes Derek Ernst, global marketing director for KitchenAid small appliances. “Most importantly, it offers the same wonderful user experience – and the moments and memories this experience creates – that we hear about so often from Stand Mixer fans.”
This new model can quickly and efficiently mix and knead ingredients for up to five dozen cookies or a loaf of bread. By comparison, the 5-, 6- and 7-quart mixers can accommodate from eight to 12 dozen cookies or two to four loaves of bread.

Like its larger siblings, the Artisan® Mini model includes a flat beater, wire whip and dough hook, and accommodates all optional hub-based attachments available for larger models. Available hub attachments include everything from a spiralizer, pasta maker and food grinder to a food processor and juicer.

“With the use of attachments, there’s very little this machine can’t do in the kitchen,” said Ernst. “Those new to cooking and baking, and those highly accomplished in the kitchen, will find so many ways to explore new culinary territory.” 

Since the introduction of its legendary stand mixer in 1919 and first dishwasher in 1949, KitchenAid has built on the legacy of these icons to create a complete line of products designed for cooks. Today, the KitchenAid® brand offers virtually every essential for the well-equipped kitchen with a collection that includes everything from countertop appliances to cookware, ranges to refrigerators, and whisks to wine cellars. 

Cook for the Cure®, the brand's partnership with Susan G. Komen®, is now in its 15th year and has raised over $10 million to help find a cure for breast cancer. 

Disclosure: Thanks to KitchenAid for the invite to Soho House for a launch party and the fun, little goody bag pictured above. I was not compensated for this post. As always, all opinions and photos are my own. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

OPENING: Chicago Children's Theatre Presents The World Premiere of The Year I Didn’t Go To School

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar

We love it when our friends play well together! And this production is a collaboration of SO many of our favorite theatre & circus arts companies and people it's bound to be AH-MAZING.
Family friendly circus fun opens at Chicago Children's Theatre the first weekend of March and we can't wait to catch this world premiere! ChiIL Mama & the teens will be there on Sunday March 5th, so check back soon for our full review. 

(**Do note, this one's back at Ruth Page Center for the Arts instead of their new space, The Station.)

You'll recognize Chicago favorites from Midnight Circus (real life mom & daughter duo, Julie Greenberg and Samantha Jenkins) and Actors Gymnasium (including choreography by Chicago area mom and co-founder of Actors Gymnasium, Sylvia Hernandez-Distasi). The director/co-adaptor is also a Chicago area mom & artistic director at Lookingglass Theatre Company, Heidi Stillman! We're also long time fans of the excellent work of Adrian Danzig (Grandpa) of 500 Clown, House Theatre and more, and Lindsey Noel Whiting (Mom) Lookingglass Alice and Mr. & Mrs. Pennyworth and more.

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List:
The Year I Didn’t Go To School: A Homemade Circus
February 28 - March 19 
All Ages
World Premiere

Adapted by Heidi Stillman and Caroline Macon
From the book by Giselle Potter
Directed by Heidi Stillman, Artistic Director, Lookingglass Theater
Choreographed by Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi
Produced in association with The Actors Gymnasium

Duration: 60 minutes

If your child has ever begged to take a year off of school, let them find out what it's like with the world premiere of The Year I Didn't Go to School: A Homemade Circus. 

Chicago Children's Theatre's all-new, circus arts-infused live production is sure to thrill all ages, February 28-March 19, 2017 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago.

Created by Lookingglass Theatre Artistic Director Heidi Stillman and Caroline Macon, and based on the popular picture book by acclaimed illustrator Giselle Potter, The Year I Didn't Go To School adapts Potter's whimsical autobiographical work into a fantastical stage production for the first time. 

Stillman also directs CCT's newest world premiere, which is produced in association with The Actors Gymnasium and features choreography by Actor's Gymnasium co-founder Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi. 

Working with Stillman and Hernandez-DiStasi to bring Potter's book to life on stage are some of Chicago's most accomplished theater designers, including Rick Sims (composer/sound designer/music director), Dan Ostling (set and lights) and Mara Blumenfeld (costumes).

Kids of all ages will love marveling at live circus feats of derring-do combined with Potter's familiar tale of seven-year-old Giselle, who shares the best things that happened to her the year she didn't go to school. 

Giselle's adventures include traveling Italy by truck with her family's puppet theater troupe, the Mystic Paper Beasts, performing as a monkey, a panda and a lion in an outdoor theater, wearing cowboy boots, speaking Italian ("Ciao!") and eating spaghetti with a fried egg on top. Best of all?  She keeps a journal to remember everything that's happening to her and her little sister, Chloë.

"The Year I Didn't Go to School was a book that my children and I loved, and we read it again and again," says director Heidi Stillman. "Of course, we could relate as a family of artists that were also constantly making shows. The pictures are so beautiful and charming and I was always intrigued by the performances depicted in the book; they are so clever and odd and gorgeous and I really look forward to staging them."

Don't miss The Year I Didn't Go to School: A Homemade Circus, an inspiring glimpse into a beloved children's writer's unusual childhood that no doubt influenced her own development as an artist and author. 

Performances are February 28-March 19, 2017 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Show times are Tuesdays through Friday at 10 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. with two added evening performances, Saturday, March 11 and 18 at 7 p.m.

The Year I Didn't Go to School runs one hour and is ideal for all ages. Single tickets are $10-$39. 

Or, purchase a Family 4-Pack for only $80, for up to 50% savings. For tickets and information, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555.

The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is convenient to public transportation, surrounded by restaurants and located just steps from the Magnificent Mile. Email GroupSales@chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (773) 227-0180 x 321 to learn about discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting groups.

Access Weekend for  The Year I Didn't Go To School

Access Weekend for The Year I Didn't Go to School is Saturday and Sunday, 
March 18 and 19, when services for persons with disabilities integrated into public performances. These include:

Live open captioning for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing:
Saturday, March 18 at 10:30 a.m.; Sunday, March 19 at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. 

Sensory friendly performance with quiet room for children on the autism spectrum or with Down Syndrome:  
Sunday, March 19 at 10:30 a.m.

For more information about access services, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org/access or contact Access and Inclusion Manager 

Meet the cast of  The Year I Didn't Go To School: 
A Homemade Circus

Leave it to Chicago Children's Theatre to keep The Year I Didn't Go To School cast all in the family. 

In life, Samantha Jenkins, cast as the central character Giselle, is the daughter of Julie Greenberg, who plays Grandma. Greenberg happens to be co-founder, along with Samantha's dad, Jeff Jenkins, of Chicago's acclaimed circus arts company The Midnight Circus. 

The circus arts are strong as well with actor Adrian Danzig (Grandpa), co-founder of Chicago's physical theater company 500 Clowns; Lindsey Noel Whiting (Mom), a Lookingglass Alice veteran performer now starring in the Lookingglass premiere Mr. & Mrs. Pennyworth; and circus artist Aerial Emery, a frequent Midnight Circus performer who also played in the national tour of Pippin the Musical.

CCT audiences will recall Matthew Yee (Dad), so memorable as The Mad Hatter in the company's 2015 smash hit musical Wonderland: Alice's Rock and Roll Adventure

Emily Zimmerman alternates with Samantha Jenkins in the role of Giselle. 

Audrey Edwards and Ava Tommasone alternate as Chloë. 

Behind the scenes of  The Year I Didn't Go To School: 
A Homemade Circus

Author Giselle Potter's parents and grandparents were all artists so it's not surprising that she became one too. Potter spent a lot of time in her grandfather's studio, where he let her add to his abstract paintings and music. When she was three, her parents started a puppet theater company called "The Mystic Paper Beasts" and she traveled and performed with them throughout the United States and Europe. Her drawings and illustrated journals she made of her travels and experiences with the Beasts inspired her best-selling children's books The Year I Didn't Go To School and Chloe's Birthday...and me. She was a frequent illustrator for The New Yorker, which inspired a chain of work with many magazines and children's books. Her first children's book, Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale was published in 1997. She has illustrated more than 25 books since then.

Heidi Stillman (director, co-adaptor) is a director, writer, actor, and Ensemble Member of Lookingglass Theatre Company where she has been working on staff in charge of artistic development for the last eleven years. Stillman was previously artistic director (with David Kersnar) from 1997-2000. She most recently directed Death Tax at Lookingglass, and co-created/co-directed Cascabel, in collaboration with Tony Hernandez and Rick Bayless. She has both written and directed for Lookingglass: The North China LoverHephaestus, with Tony Hernandez; The Brothers Karamazov (2009 Raven Award); Hard Times (five Jeff Awards including director, new work and production; also produced at Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia); The Master and Margarita. Additional writing credits with Lookingglass: The Last Act of Lilka Kadison with Nicola Behrman, David Kersnar, Abbie Phillips and Andy White; The Old Curiosity Shop with Laura Eason and Raymond Fox (Jeff Award for adaptation) and The Baron in the Trees with Larry DiStasi. Directing work with Lookingglass includes: Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad ZooTrustThe Wooden Breeks and Hillbilly Antigone. Stillman's adaptation of The Book Thief premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 2012.

Caroline Macon (co-adaptor) is a playwright and poet from Dallas. She joined Lookingglass Theatre as New Works Associate in September 2016.  Her play, The Women Eat Chocolate, was produced in DePaul's New Playwrights' Series under the direction of Heidi Stillman. Macon has also written for Victory Gardens Theater's college night and for Chicago Children's Theatre. Currently, she is writing a play for the Lawrence Bundschu and Warren Snoddy Endowed Playwriting Prize. She performs in reading series throughout Chicago and her work has been published in [PANK], Crook & Folly, and elsewhere. She is a member of Poems While You Wait, a typewritten poetry-on-demand collective, to support the nonprofit publisher, Rose Metal Press. She is also involved with Curbside Splendor Publishing. She graduated from DePaul University with degrees in Playwriting and English.

Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi (choreographer), recently returned from a successful tour of Lookingglass Alice, is a second-generation circus performer who grew up touring with various circuses, including Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. She also performed at The Circus World Championships in London, England. In 1990 she moved to Chicago and began her career as a circus teacher and choreographer. She is a co-founder of The Actors Gymnasium and an Artistic Associate of Lookingglass Theatre Company. Her credits include The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Chicago Children's Theatre, Marriott Theater and Steppenwolf Theatre, among others. She recently won the Illinois Theatre Association's Award of Honor, the 3Arts award for design and she has been nominated for six Joseph Jefferson Awards for her choreography, winning five.

Chicago Children's Theatre's production team for The Year I Didn't Go To School also includes Lavina Jadhwani (casting director), Isaac Schoepp (rigging design) and Emily Breyer (props). Production stage manager is Nikki Blue. 

Up next at the Ruth Page: Mermaid Theatre's Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear & Other Treasured Stories by Eric Carle, presented by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, closes Chicago Children's Theatre's 11th season, May 2-28, 2017 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Single tickets are $10-$39. Or, purchase a Family 4-Pack for only $80. For tickets, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555. 

New home for Chicago Children's Theatre, The Station, is now open


In addition to presenting its 2016-17 mainstage season at the Ruth Page, CCT has transformed the former 12th District Police Station at 100 S. Racine Avenue in Chicago's West Loop into its first permanent home. The new Chicago Children's Theatre, The Station, is a beautiful, mixed-use performing arts and education facility designed to serve all Chicago families. 

The world premiere of The Magic City, an all-ages show created by Chicago's Manual Cinema, is the inaugural production in the building's new 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre, now through February 19. 

Following The Magic City is a new staging of Pinocchio with Chicago's Neverbird Project featuring young hearing and Deaf actors in a signed and voice performance. Performances are April 20-May 7. Tickets are $25. Or, purchase a Family 4-Pack for only $80. For tickets, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555.

With five brand new classrooms devoted to performing arts instruction, education is at the heart of Chicago Children's Theatre's new home. Registration is now open for a diverse roster of classes and camps for toddlers to teens in theater, storytelling, modern movement, film making, hip hop, craft, aerial circus arts and vocal instruction. Learn more at chicagochildrenstheatre.com/education.

Additionally, CCT now has its own dedicated space at The Station for Red Kite programming for children with autism and other special needs. This spring, children will participate in a new Red Kite Adventure, a multi-sensory theatrical experience tailored to the unique needs of each child who attends. The Station will also be home to Camp Red Kite, the only summer arts camp of its kind in Chicago for children on the autism spectrum.

About Chicago Children's Theatre

Since its launch in 2005, Chicago Children's Theatre has cemented its reputation as the city's largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families. 

The company evolved out of Chicago's need for high-quality, professional year-round children's programming to match the quality and significance of theatrical powerhouses such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre. 

Likewise, CCT has always believed children should be treated as the sophisticated audiences that they are with high-profile and award-winning talent, inventive production values and compelling stories that challenge, educate and entertain.

Audiences have embraced Chicago Children's Theatre since its inaugural production, A Year with Frog and Toad, at the Goodman Theatre in 2006. Since then, the company's productions have featured everything from black-light scenery to live music to interactive four-dimensional sets to life-size puppets, with performances showcasing the heart of Motown to Vaudeville to contemporary, current and modern styles.

CCT has also built a national reputation due to its strong focus on new work, producing 15 world premieres in the last 11 years including The Selfish GiantThe Hundred DressesJackie and MeDot and ZiggyThe Houdini BoxThe Elephant and The Whale (in association with Redmoon), Mr. Chickee's Funny MoneyLeo Lionni's FrederickWonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll AdventureA Snowy Day with Beatrix PotterJabari Dreams of FreedomAnother Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter and
The Magic City. These enjoyed highly successful inaugural runs in Chicago, followed by new productions at family theaters across the U.S. 

CCT has always honored a strong commitment to low-income families and children with special needs. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the company offers free tickets to more than 5,000 Chicago-area low-income students each season. 

Led by Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell, Board Chair Todd Leland and Community Programs Artistic Director Frank Maugeri, Chicago Children's Theatre is supported by a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business. Officers include Jeff Hughes, President; Lynn Lockwood Murphy, Vice Chair and Secretary; David Saltiel, Vice Chair; and David Chung, Treasurer. 

Chicago Children's Theatre is sponsored in part by ComEd and Goldman Sachs Gives

For more information visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org, or call (773) 227-0180.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

KINDIE LAND: New Tunes From Chicago's Own Little Miss Ann and Amy D.

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List:
CD Release Party at noon Sunday 2/26!

New Music: “Sometimes things don't go your way... Keep on..."  


Cultures, kids and music collide for a joyful explosion of original songs, available on February 17, 2017

With the draining political climate and the general exhaustion that comes from raising young children, even on the best of days, Keep On is an uplifting album whose time has come. Little Miss Ann has been the undisputed queen of Chicago's Kindie Scene for years and she's long been a favorite of ours here at ChiIL Mama.

Little Miss Ann has enjoyed national acclaim and a fervent following for her upbeat, down-to-earth and interactive folksy music. Her fifth album of hopeful and happy songs, Keep On, is the result of a collaboration with children’s music newcomer Amy D. Keep On will be available from various music retailers and from littlemissann.com on February 17.

ChiIL Mama is thrilled that Beat Kitchen's Concerts for Kids will be hosting the CD release party 
THIS Sunday!

Feb 26 at Noon"Keep On" CD RELEASE Concert w/Amy D at the Beat Kitchen - Buy tix here

ChiIL Mama is elated to be back as press sponsor for Beat Kitchen's weekly kindie series, Concerts for Kids, for 6 seasons in a row now. Shows are all ages but aimed at birth - age 8 with parents. 

More about Keep On:
Recorded in the Hudson Valley of New York with Grammy-winning producer Dean Jones, Keep On ranges in musical styles. Grownups will appreciate the 50’s doo-wop sounding song, “L.O.V.E.,” the Andrew Bird-meets-Liz Phair ode to Chicago “The 606,” as well as re-imagined traditional favorites like the Johnny Cash-esque “Where Is Thumbkin?” and a spirited Calypso song that originated in Jamaica called “Hill and Gully Rider.” There’s even a springy-swingy rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” blending sweet harmonies, mandolin, and a toy piano. As Jones says, “These two complement each other perfectly. If it sounds like we were having fun it's because we were. These songs come straight from the heart!” Guest artists include 2016 Latin Grammy winner 123 Andrés and Tim Sutton from Ratboy Jr.

New to the independent family music scene and originally hailing from Nashville, Amy D sings and plays violin, mandolin, melodica, and piano. After meeting at a kids’ music class in Chicago, Ann and Amy discovered that they had many things in common, musically and culturally.  Amy D joined Little Miss Ann’s band in 2015, and the musical connection led to the process of writing and recording the songs of Keep On. Ann and Amy provide a fresh take on the tradition of sing-along, call-and-response style songwriting of trailblazers like Chicago-based Ella Jenkins, Raffi, Elizabeth Mitchell, and other enduring artists of the genre. Many songs on the album are also firmly rooted in Chicago.
Indeed, the songs grew out of both artists’ experiences in working with families: Ann in education (including Chicago’s historic Old Town School of Folk Music) and Amy in social work. Their common Filipino backgrounds inspired two of their original songs: “Ube,” about a cherished Filipino staple, the purple yam, and “The Senses Song,” which mentions halo-halo and lychee, sweet treats from Filipino cuisine.

Produced with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, the digital edition of Keep On is available in January via Bandcamp. It will also be available on physical CDs and for downloading from cdbaby.com, amazon.com, and iTunes on February 17. A CD release party will be held at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen on February 26,  and on March 26, Ann will perform at Jalopy in Brooklyn, NY,  with award-winning artist Suzi Shelton.  The duo is also busy planning music videos to reflect this shared musical and cultural heritage.

About the Artists:
Little Miss Ann (a.k.a. Ann Torralba) is a first-generation Filipina-American. She is a former Chicago Public School teacher and a veteran instructor at the esteemed Old Town School of Folk Music. Ann is a founder of the Windy Kindie Chicago Cooperative and has written about all things Kindie for various websites. Little Miss Ann has made four other children’s music albums and has produced several concerts. She produced a popular Nodcast Podcast for the Land of Nod and contributed a song to Keep Hoping Machine Running – Songs of Woody Guthrie (benefiting the Woody Guthrie Archives). Ann lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.

Amy D (a.k.a. Amyliza de Jesus) is also a first-generation Filipina-American, and currently a licensed clinical social worker specializing in music therapy She has worked with children and families in a variety of settings for the past 13 years.  Her intention is always to incorporate music, whether she is working in school and family counseling, case management, therapy, or preschool literacy outreach.  Originally from Nashville, Amy began playing piano and violin as a pre-college student at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music. She went on to major in piano performance, and began songwriting in college. She is currently collaborating with other artists to create therapeutic songs for children, and is a substitute teacher in the Wiggleworms programs at Old Town School of Folk Music.

Upcoming Shows Chicago & NYC:

Feb 26 at Noon"Keep On" CD RELEASE Concert w/Amy D at the Beat Kitchen -  Buy tix here

March 25 at 10am and 11am at Brookfield Place  in NYC w/ Suzi Shelton  FREE - More info here.

March 26th at 11am at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn with Suzi Shelton -Buy tix here

Little Miss Ann & Amy D Keep On Track List
  1. Ube
  2. Shake & Sing
  3. Hill and Gully Rider
  4. The Senses Song
  5. Tiptoe Through the Tulips
  6. L.O.V.E.
  7. The 606
  8. Swing Me
  9. Where is Thumbkin?
  10. Keep On Keepin’ On
Together, these two artists represent what’s great in music for children today, as they build on the traditions of children's music legends like Ella Jenkins, Pete Seeger and Raffi, with sounds firmly rooted in folk music. The instrumentation and lyrics appeal to families today. There are far too few minority women working in the genre, and they are among the most exciting voices, creating songs about an unusual array of topics.

Ann Torralba is a former Chicago Public School teacher, mom and touring musician, a fixture of the national “kindie” music scene. In her work at the Old Town School’s Wiggle Worms programs, she met and collaborated with Amy de Jesus, another educator and social worker who originally hails from Nashville.
The two of them grew up in Filipino immigrant households, where karaoke-style singing and musical “masses” were part of the daily scene. Ann remembers “a Filipino priest singing into the karaoke machine "My Way" between the mass and the huge Filipino feast!” They each fell into folk music in their own ways. Amy says, “It's funny, because even though I'm a Nashville native, I grew up really disliking country music and bluegrass.  But when I moved away from the South and started to explore what my authentic voice was - it really lent itself to that type of acoustic music.  It struck me, because even though I had kept that genre of music at arm's length my entire life, it somehow got in me... and I began to embrace it.”

The new album Keep On was produced last summer with Grammy winner Dean Jones in his funky Hudson Valley studio. Dean worked to spotlight the harmonies and added delightful little background sounds to the tracks. Ann and Amy’s cultural heritage is evident in first track, “Ube.” The pure delight of their harmonies and unique take on traditional folk is evident in “The Senses Song” and “L.O.V.E.”  There's such a positive vibe in every song, including the final track, “Keep On Keepin’ On.” Listen for strains of their cultural background in these songs, even in their rendition of “Tiptoe through the Tulips.”

Friday, February 24, 2017

REVIEW: Mamma Mia! at Marriott Brings Greek Island Romance In The Round

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

It was our great pleasure to Catch The Marriott Theatre's Mamma Mia! last Thursday. This production is well worth the trek out to Lincolnshire! Creative use of their intimate theatre in the round staging by Set Designer, Scott Davis, gives audiences an actual island of stage space, surrounded by a functional water moat. This enables some creative choreography and circle dances that are a joy to see. Simple walls full of windows for the chorus at the back of each section complete the illusion of a larger playing space and open up exciting possibilities. The directing and casting are truly world class. This is a playful, fun night out, full of retro 70's charm and catchy, familiar songs, belted out beautifully by true pros. Danni Smith as “Donna Sheridan” is a standout, as are her long time friends, former suitors, and a host of chorus boys with personality to spare. The chorus girls' roles aren't as fleshed out, still the entire cast shines, and it's not just the silver lame´! Highly recommended.

The show's already been extended due to popular demand so book your tickets before they sell out! 

The global phenomenon seen by over 60 million people all around the world and one of Broadway’s longest running hits, MAMMA MIA!, kicks off Marriott Theatre's 2017 Season, running February 8th through April 16th, 2017 at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. Multi Jeff Award Winner Rachel Rockwell (World Premiere of October Sky and 42nd Street at Marriott Theatre; Ride the Cyclone at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and MCC Theatre, New York; and Brigadoon at Goodman Theatre), returns to direct the much-loved  piece, with music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA, and book by Catherine Johnson.  Rockwell, who has an extensive history with the show, having performed it many times including on Broadway, joins forces with longtime collaborators Set Designer Scott Davis, who will re-imagine the signature theatre-in-the-round space, and Costume Designer Theresa Ham who returns to the Marriott following the success of October Sky, along with Choreographer Ericka Mac and Musical Director Ryan T. Nelson.

“I’m really excited to put my spin on this exuberant celebration of music and friendship,” says Rockwell. “The show is a story of the enduring female relationships in our lives – mothers and daughters, women supporting each other. Paired with these songs that we all love, it brings such joy. It truly is a love letter to that ABBA sound."

MAMMA MIA! is the story of the dynamic relationship between independent and carefree mother, Donna Sheridan, and her spirited daughter, Sophie, who she has raised alone on an idyllic Greek island. While Donna invites her two best friends to her daughter's wedding, practical and no-nonsense Rosie and wealthy, multi-divorcee Tanya, Sophie has plans of her own up her sleeve. On a quest to find the identity of her father to walk her down the aisle, she brings back three men from Donna’s past to the Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier, hoping to build a bond with the father she’s never known. Chaos ensues over the next 24 hours as new love blooms and old flames are rekindled on this lush island full of possibilities. Fusing explosive dance numbers with timeless songs, including “Dancing Queen”, “S.O.S.”, “Money, Money, Money” and “Take a Chance on Me,” MAMMA MIA! will have audiences singing along to all the classic favorites in this feel-good story full of laughs, love, family and friendship.

MAMMA MIA! stars Danni Smith as “Donna Sheridan” (The Marriott Theatre: Man of La Mancha and City of Angels; Paramount: A Christmas Story; Porchlight: Chess), Meghan Murphy as “Tanya” (The Marriott Theatre: City of Angels; Drury Lane Oakbrook: Smokey Joe’s Café), Cassie Slater as “Rosie” (The Marriott Theatre: Man of La Mancha and City of Angels), Tiffany Tatreauas “Sophie Sheridan” (The Marriott Theatre: Sister Act and Spring Awakening; Chicago Shakespeare Theater/MCC: Ride the Cyclone), Peter Saide as “Sam Carmichael” (Chicago Shakespeare/Old Globe: Sense and Sensibility; Paramount: Oklahoma!; Las Vegas: Jersey Boys), Karl Sean Hamilton as “Harry Bright” (The Marriott Theatre: For the Boys and The Full Monty; Goodman Theatre: Wonderful Town; Chicago Shakespeare Theater/MCC: Ride the Cyclone), Derek Hasenstab as “Bill Austin” (The Marriott Theatre: How To Succeed…, Spring Awakening, October Sky; Lookingglass Theatre Company: Eastland), Russell Mernagh as “Sky” (The Marriott Theatre: Evita; Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Ride the Cyclone; The Mercury Theatre: The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes), Kayla Kennedy as “Ali,”Lillian Castillo as “Lisa,” Liam Quealy as “Pepper,” and Gerard Salvador as “Eddie.” Also featuring Ari Aaron, William Carlos Angulo, Aramie, Julie Baird, Nathaniel Braga, Colte Julian, Tommy Lucas, Ericka Mac, John Marshall, Jr., Zoe Nadal, Hanah Rose Nardone, Laura Savage, Colette Todd and Kylah Williams.

The production features set design by Scott Davis, costume design by Theresa Ham, lighting design by Jesse Klug, sound design by Bob Gilmartin, properties design by Sally Weiss, musical supervision and orchestra conducted by Patti Garwood.

The performance schedule for MAMMA MIA! is Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., with select Thursday 1:00 p.m. shows. Ticket prices range from $50 to $60, including tax and handling fees. Call for student, senior and military discounts. 

On Wednesday and Thursday evenings there are a limited number of FREE dinners available with the purchase of a full-priced theatre ticket, which can only be purchased through the Marriott Theatre Box Office. To make a restaurant reservation, please call 847.634.0100. 

Free parking is available at all performances. To reserve tickets, please call The Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or go to www.ticketmaster.com. Visit www.MarriottTheatre.com for more information.