Saturday, April 28, 2018


ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List for Fabulous Family Friendly TV Shows

New episodes of One Strange Rock air every Monday at 9pm CT on The National Geographic Channel.  You can also catch up on demand.

Guest Post by Lori Morrison-Contreras
We were invited to Chicago's Adler Planetarium to see the first episode of National Geographic's ONE STRANGE ROCK, and get a sneak peek inside the traveling four minute immersive space helmet, for a feature for ChiIL Mama. I'm a homeschooling mom of 3 curious kids ages 6, 8 and 10 so this was a great fit for my family.

All photos by Lori Morrison-Contreras, shot at Adler Planetarium in Chicago 4/27/18 unless noted

The episode we saw was visually stunning and informative. I definitely look forward to watching the series. It was a little hard to understand for my youngest (who just turned six). She was genuinely interested though and asked a lot of questions. 

The space helmets were amazing and a great follow up to the first episode. My six year old found it a little scary having the images be so up close. I had difficulty with it as I am claustrophobic. I am glad I did it but probably wouldn't again. My eight and ten year olds greatly enjoyed it and were fascinated by being able to have such a close up look at space and the things they had just learned. 

National Geographic's ONE STRANGE ROCK

Hosted by Will Smith, One Strange Rock is a mind-bending, full-sensory journey that explores the fragility and wonder of our planet. It’s the extraordinary story of why life as we know it exists on Earth, brought into perspective by the only people to have left it behind: astronauts. This 10-part series, which was filmed across 45 countries, on six continents and from outer space, reveals the twists of fate that have allowed life to emerge, survive and thrive on Earth. 

One Strange Rock is executive produced by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel from Protozoa Pictures and Jane Root and Arif Nurmohamed from Nutopia and features astronauts Nicole Stott, Jeff Hoffman, Leland Melvin, Mike Massimino, Peggy Whitson, Jerry Linenger, Chris Hadfield and Mae Jemison.

Photo by Eduardo Munoz, shot in NYC


Wearable Technology Simulates Astronaut Point of View Using Footage from One Strange Rock at The Adler Planetarium           

On Friday, April 27, 2018 lovers of outer space were invited to experience the One Strange Rock: Space Projection Helmet, an immersive technology that made a stop at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium for one day only. Through the One Strange Rock: Space Projection Helmets, users instantly blast off into outer space and float through the cosmos as they see the universe through the eyes of an astronaut.

Additionally, guests were treated to a screening of the first episode of One Strange Rock at the Johnson Star Theater. The One Strange Rock helmet experience was held in the The Room of Requirement located on the 2nd level of the Planetarium. 

One Strange Rock, the latest from executive producers Darren Aronofsky, Jane Root and Arif Nurmohamed, tells the extraordinary story of Earth, told from the only people who have ever left it: astronauts. Inspired by the innovative storytelling in One Strange Rock, National Geographic created the Space Projection Helmet to bring this unique astronaut vantage-point even closer to those on Earth. The limited-edition gear will go on tour to schools and planetariums in select cities this Spring- including the stop in Chicago.

One Strange Rock premiered on Monday, April 16 at 9pm CT on The National Geographic Channel.

Housed in a replica space helmet, the projection technology creates an immersive viewing experience through a unique combination of laser projection, custom fish-eye optics and in-built audio. Unlike in-market VR headsets, the helmet offers an exceptionally wide field of view and is designed so the user can freely move their head inside of the dome to look around the entire field of vision, just as an astronaut would within their helmet in space.

“One Strange Rock is an unprecedented television experience; we were inspired by the innovative storytelling, mesmerizing footage and the unique accounts of astronauts to create a specialized viewing mechanism that would elevate and emulate their first-hand experience,” says Jill Cress, chief marketing and brand officer, National Geographic Partners. “The OSR Space Projection Helmet furthers National Geographic’s commitment to make science fun, entertaining, and accessible to new audiences.”

About National Geographic Partners LLC
National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. 

Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. 

For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn  and Pinterest.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

WIN 4 Tickets To The National Tour of The Wizard of Oz at The Chicago Theatre on Tuesday, May 8th at 7pm

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:


Limited Engagement Runs May 8 Through May 20, 2018 
Tickets On-Sale Now

Here at ChiIL Mama, we're elated to partner up with The Madison Square Garden Company and “THE WIZARD OF OZ”, for a great giveaway for our readers. Enter early and often, like we vote in Chi, IL. I'll be out for the press night on May 9th, so check back soon for my full review. In the meantime, here's my video and photo recap of a press sneak peek and meet and greet with Dorothy (Kalie Kaimann). I was amused to learn we grew up in the same place. She's from my home town, Cincinnati. There's no place like home, indeed!

Dorothy (Kalie Kaimann) with her mini me, Dorothy (Chiara)

Just 2 Cincinnati girls ChiILin' in Chi, IL  

Truly Magical Sparkly Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery!

The Legendary Ruby Slippers

The Madison Square Garden Company will bring one of the most beloved family musicals, “THE WIZARD OF OZ”, to Chicago at The Chicago Theatre (175 N. State St.) from May 8 – May 20, 2018. Tickets for “THE WIZARD OF OZ” are on-sale now ranging from $39 - $129. Tickets are available online at and are also available at The Chicago Theatre box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, and Ticketmaster phone charge. 

This magical production is a celebration of the classic 1939 MGM movie, and will be presented with breathtaking special effects that will sweep audiences away, from the moment the tornado twists its way into Kansas. Featuring the classic songs, composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, “Over the Rainbow,” “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and “If I Only Had A Brain,” along with the beloved characters, “THE WIZARD OF OZ” will have the entire family captivated as they travel down the yellow brick road for an unforgettable day at the theater.

Dean Sabon is the Director and previously created the national tours of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Amy McCleary created the magical choreography and was the Director/Choreographer of the national tour of “Memphis, the Musical” and the choreographer of the national tour of “The Wedding Singer.” The team of Sobon and McCleary will take Dorothy, Toto and their friends the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow “Over the Rainbow” to adventures in Munchkin Land, the Haunted Forest and the Emerald City.

Leading the cast as Dorothy is Kalie Kaimann. She previously played this role for the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. She has also performed as Bonnie in “Anything Goes,” Logainne in “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Ulla in “The Producers,” Millie Dilmount in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Belle in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” and Minnie Fay in “Hello Dolly!” She received a Best Featured Actress in a Musical by for her performance as Minnie Fay.

Chris Duir will play the role of Scarecrow/Hunk. For Prather Entertainment Group he played the role of Bert in “Mary Poppins” and Eugene in the national tour of “Grease.” Regional credits include “Crazy For You” (Bobby Child), “Damn Yankees” (Smokey), “The Drowsy Chaperone” (George), and “Singin’ in the Rain.” He was also a singer for “Celebrity Cruises” and “Galaxy Macau Resort.” 

Christopher Russell will portray Tinman/Hickory. He performed as Avram/Perchik understudy in the national tour of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Regionally he has performed in “Funny Girl” (Eddie Ryan), “The Producers” (Leo Bloom), “The Full Monty” (Jerry Lukowski), “Lend Me A Tenor” (Max), “Steppin’ Out” (Geoffrey), “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (Freddy Benson), and “Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical” (Wally), for which he also composed the original score. 

Victor Legarreta will portray the Lion/Zeke. Legarreta has performed professionally in 150 productions nationally, internationally, and on cruise ships including the recent roles of The Cop in the comedy “Shear Madness”, Public Enemy #1 in “Anything Goes,” and numerous comedies for Prather Entertainment Group. Legarreta is also a director and has written many musical revues. He previously portrayed the Cowardly Lion at the “Broadway Palm” in Fort Myers, Florida.

Toto will be played by Murphy, a white Brussels Griffon/Cairn Terrier mix with scruffy fur and an adorable underbite. Murphy was rescued on February 5th, 2016 from the ASPCA in Chandler, AZ by Lizzie Webb (music director for “THE WIZARD OF OZ” tour) and was immediately welcomed into the theatre world. He has been a trusty backstage companion, a pit orchestra puppy (sleeping at mom’s feet while she plays piano and conducts shows) and within a few months of adoption he was onstage as Willoughby in “Mary Poppins.” This will be his second time playing Toto. He even has his own hashtag! #montanamurphy

For more information visit:

Tickets are available at The Chicago Theatre box office, all Ticketmaster outlets
and Ticketmaster phone charge (1.800.745.3000)
Online: and
Connect with us @ChicagoTheatre and

About The Madison Square Garden Company
The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) is a world leader in live sports and entertainment experiences.  The company presents or hosts a broad array of premier events in its diverse collection of iconic venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; The Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston.  Other MSG properties include legendary sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA), the New York Rangers (NHL) and the New York Liberty (WNBA); two development league teams -- the Westchester Knicks (NBAGL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL); and one of the leading North American esports organizations, Counter Logic Gaming.  In addition, the Company features the popular original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces outdoor festivals, including New England’s preeminent Boston Calling Music Festival.   Also under the MSG umbrella is TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group with globally-recognized entertainment dining and nightlife brands: Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, The Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex and Vandal.  More information is available at

More of ChiIL Mama's Photos From The Dorothy Meet and Greet Press/Blogger Lunch:

Mom & Daughter fun with Dorothy & Cheryl Hanson Leahy of the blog, All Dressed Up With Nothing to Drink. 

Chiara clicks her heels! 

ChiIL Mama's Giving Away A FREE Family 4 Pack of Tickets 
for The Wizard of Oz at Chicago Theatre
Good for opening night, Tuesday, May 8th at 7pm
**Enter HERE **

Open through midnight 5/1/18 for your chance to WIN.

Enter through midnight May 1st. Winner will be e-mailed and announced here and on ChiIL Mama's social media channels. Ticket values range from $39 - $129 each.  

Disclosure: ChiIL Mama has been given complimentary tickets for review purposes and for our giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

OPENING: Circus Rendition of The Odyssey by Homer Via Actors Gymnasium's Spring Youth Circus

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

We're pleased to announce Actors Gymnasium's Spring Youth Circus production of 
The Odyssey by Homer! 

Adapted by Mary Zimmerman
Adapted and directed for the circus by Kerry Catlin
Circus Choreography by Sylvia Hernandez – DiStasi

Performances start May 12! 

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List: Family Friendly Circus Fun

For the 4th season now, my teen son and daughter have both been cast in Actors Gymnasium's amazing spring and fall circus shows. It's been a stellar opportunity for them to work with some of Chicago's top theatre professionals, hone their circus arts skills and make some lasting friendships. These family friendly productions are high quality, high flying aerial fun and well worth seeing. Don't miss these terrifically talented teens. The run is 6 shows only and the theatre space is intimate, so I strongly suggest getting tickets in advance. Highly recommended. I'll be out to catch the show on opening weekend, so check back soon for my full review.

This circus adaptation of Homer’s myth begins with a modern young woman who is struggling to understand Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of The Odyssey. A classical muse appears, and the young woman becomes the goddess Athena–a tireless advocate for Odysseus in his struggle to get home. Adapted for the circus from Mary Zimmerman’s irreverent and witty twist on this epic tale, Kerry Catlin brings to life the story of Odysseus’s ten-year journey, depicting his encounters with characters such as Circe, Poseidon, Calypso, the Sirens, and others with astonishing acts of circus.

My son, Dugan's playing Alcinous. Yes, I'm the mother of an ancient Greek king! Come on out and catch it if you can. 

The Actors Gymnasium Youth Circus is a performance-based training program for students 5th grade through 12th grade, which takes place in the fall and spring and culminates in a fully-produced, original show. This intensive experience pairs professional artists and youth performers to collaboratively create an original new show and includes high-quality training in drama, dance, aerial and circus arts. The Youth Circus is one of our most popular ticketed events each year.

OPENING: WORLD PREMIERE MUSICAL, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET Via Chicago Children's Theatre April 24-May 27, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:


ChiIL Mama Chi, IL Picks List: 
I'll be out for the press opening this Saturday, so check back soon for my full review. Chicago Children's Theatre has been a favorite of ours since their inaugural production in 2005, when my teens were tots!

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 2017-18 season finale has arrived, and it’s the hip-hop, heart-thumpin’, toe-tappin’ joy ride Last Stop on Market Street, a world premiere musical based on the 2016 Newbery-winning, Caldecott-honored children’s book by Matt de la Peña.

Starring E. Faye Butler as Nana,
with young actors Alejandro Medina (left)
and Kei Rawlins (right) rotating in the role of CJ

Nationally acclaimed playwright Cheryl L. West (Akeelah and the Bee) has adapted for the stage Peña’s multiple award-winning book about 7-year-old CJ and his wise Nana who teaches him to find beauty on a Sunday afternoon bus ride through the city. This is a co-commission and rolling world premiere with Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis that is already attracting national attention, including a feature in American Theatre Magazine.

Motown legend Lamont Dozier and his son Paris Ray Dozier have created a jammin' original score. Goodman Theatre's Henry Godinez directs the Chicago world premiere and the play’s subsequent co-commissioned debut at Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis.

Don't miss Chicago theater legend E. Faye Butler's CCT debut as Nana, with Alejandro Medina, an 11-year old actor from Oak Park, and Kei Rawlins, 10-years old from River North, rotating in the role of CJ. The cast also features Melanie Brezill, Jesse Bhamrah, Brian Keys, Kirra Silver and Breon Arzell.

 E. Faye Butler plays Nana, and Alejandro Medina alternating with Kei Rawlins as CJ.

Countless kids, parents and teachers know and love Peña’s warm-hearted story about 7-year-old CJ and his wise Nana who teaches him to find beauty on a Sunday afternoon bus ride through the city.

 E. Faye Butler as Nana and Kei Rawlins alternating with Alejandro Medina as CJ.

But stop! In the name of love! Because Motown legend Lamont Dozier and his son Paris Ray Dozier, the duo behind the music in Chicago Children’s Theatre 2014 smash hit Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, are returning to create their second original score for CCT with Last Stop on Market Street.

Last Stop on Market Street is adapted by Cheryl L. West, features an original score by Motown legend Lamont Dozier (pictured) with his son Paris Ray Dozier, and is directed by Henry Godinez with music director is Andra Velis Simon.

Henry Godinez, resident artistic associate at Goodman Theatre, has been tapped to direct the Chicago world premiere, and the play’s subsequent debut at Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis. Godinez is a respected veteran director and actor who has worked at all of Chicago’s major stages, including Chicago Children’s Theatre where he staged the company’s very first production in 2006, A Year with Frog and Toad.

Jump on this bus Chicago theater lovers, because Last Stop on Market Street stars musical theater legend E. Faye Butler in her Chicago Children’s Theatre debut as Nana. Alejandro Medina, an 11-year old actor from Oak Park, and Kei Rawlins, 10-years old from Chicago’s River North neighborhood, will rotate in the role of CJ.

The Last Stop cast also features Melanie Brezill, Jesse Bhamrah, Brian Keys, Kirra Silver and Breon Arzell. The production team includes Andra Velis Simon (music director), Stephanie Paul (choreographer), John Musial (scenic design), Izumi Inaba (costume design), Alex Ridgers (lighting design), Ray Nardelli (sound design), Eleanor Kahn (properties design) and Ari Clouse (stage manager).

Last Stop on Market Street runs April 24-May 27 at Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine Avenue in Chicago’s West Loop. Show times are Saturday at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

School matinees are Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m., and Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. and Noon.

Last Stop on Market Street is recommended for ages 6 and up. Single tickets are $35 including fees. For subscriptions, single tickets and information on group rates, visit or call Chicago Children’s Theatre Guest Services, (312) 374-8835.

All Aboard! Don’t miss Chicago Children’s Theatre’s bus to Last Stop on Market Street

Young CJ is staying with his grandmother - stripped of his smart phone or tablet “because Nana says so” - in a world considerably different from the one he’s used to. Dragged on an urban bus ride that’s loud, gritty and weird, guided by his veritable force of nature, Nana, CJ travels a little closer to his roots and learns that things are not always what they have been, and people are not always who they may seem.

Leading Chicago Children’s Theatre’s cast in this as Nana is the indefatigable E. Faye Butler, a Chicago musical theater legend who has performed around the globe to international acclaim. Her many awards include six Joseph Jefferson Awards, two Helen Hayes Awards, a Barrymore Award and four Black Theatre Alliance Awards.

Alejandro Medina (CJ) arrives at CCT off a successful run as Tall Boy in Porchlight Music Theater’s Billy Elliott. Kei Rawlins (rotating as CJ) recently made his professional debut in the Goodman’s A Christmas Carol, can be seen in TV ads for Sprint and T. Rowe Price, and was featured earlier this year in Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine.

The cast for Last Stop on Market Street features (top, from left) E. Faye Butler, Alejandro Medina,
Kei Rawlins, Breon Arzell, (bottom) Jesse Bhamrah, Melanie Brezill, Brian Keys and Kirra Silver.

The ensemble cast has worked at many of Chicago’s top stages. Breon Arzell (Mr. Dennis) performed in Objects in the Mirror (Goodman), An Octaroon (Definition Theatre), The Wiz (Kokandy Productions), The Hairy Ape (Oracle Productions) and The Scottsboro Boys (Raven Theatre). Jesse Bhamrah (Blind Man/Mr. Chow), new to Chicago, just made his local debut in Goodman’s An Enemy of the People. Melanie Brezill (Posey/Butterfly) starred in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s My Wonderful Birthday Suit! this season, performed on Broadway in The Book of Mormon and in the national tour of Mamma Mia!. Brian Keys (Tat Man), an actor, singer and musician born and raised on the south side, recently performed a solo show in Collaboraction’s PEACEBOOK Fest, in the Jeff Recommended Ruined with Eclipse Theater and Seven Guitars at Court. Kirra Silver (Jojo) co-starred earlier this season in The Snowy Day at Emerald City Theatre Company and Time Stands Still at Raven Theatre. 

Matt de la Peña (author) is the New York Times bestselling author of six young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here and The Living) and four picture books. Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson, was released in 2015, and won the 2016 Newbery Medal, Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book awards. His newest picture book, Love with illustrator Loren Long, released this spring, is inspired by the birth of his daughter. In 2016 he was awarded the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award. He received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. Peña currently lives with his family in Brooklyn, NY. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.

Cheryl L. West (adaptor) is the librettist for Play On! (which ran on Broadway and at Seattle Rep) and the author of several plays including Birdie Blue, Rejoice!, Holiday Heart, Puddin ‘n’ Pete, Jar the Floor and Before It Hits Home. The latter earned West several awards including the 1992 Helen Hayes/Charles McArthur Award for outstanding new play and the Susan Smith Blackburn prize, an international award given to a woman who has written a work of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theater. Her plays for young audiences include Akeelah & the Bee, adapted from the popular 2006 film, along with Mwindo, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Addy: American Girl Story and Pullman Porter Blues. She is also a recipient of the National Endowment Playwriting Award and the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Best Playwright Award. Her plays have been produced in England, New York and in numerous regional theatres including the Goodman, Northlight, Arena Stage, Old Globe, Seattle Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Bay Street Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, Cleveland Play House, South Coast Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Manhattan Theater Club, and Off-Broadway’s Second Stage. West adapted Holiday Heart for Showtime/MGM and Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Productions, which earned her a GLADD nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Alfre Woodard. She has worked in TV and film projects at Paramount, MTV Films, Showtime, TNT, HBO and CBS. She was the Webby nominated writer for the web series, Diary of a Single Mom in collaboration with Robert Townsend’s V Studios.

Lamont Dozier (music writer/lyricist), was a member of Holland-Dozier-Holland in the 1960s and is credited for being one of the primary architects of the Motown Sound, responsible for writing, co-writing and producing more than 54 #1 hits for The Supremes, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Freda Payne and a host of others. His hits include “Stop in the Name of Love,” “How Sweet It Is,” “Reach Out I'll Be There,” “Where Did Our Love Go” and more. Dozier has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, from which he received the 2009 Johnny Mercer Award, the highest praise a songwriter can achieve. He has worked with such contemporary acts as Alison Moyet, Aretha Franklin, Simply Red, Phil Collins, Boy George, Eric Clapton, Kanye West, Joss Stone, Solange Knowles, Dave Stewart, Sir Cliff Richard, Phil Collins and George Benson. His music catalogue is one of the most sampled to date by everyone from rappers Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, The Alchemist, Common, Lupe Fiasco and Three 6 Mafia, to soul icons Mary J. Blige, Nas and Usher and even alternative rockers Linkin Park.

Paris Ray Dozier (co-music writer/lyricist) is a native of Los Angeles. Dozier's professional career in music began when he was 15, writing songs for artists on Hollywood Records, Disney, where he would be signed two years after as a singer/songwriter and producer. While at Hollywood Records, Dozier was mentored by and produced an album with Rob Cavallo, most notably regarded as the producer who discovered Green Day and now the CEO of Warner Bros. Records. Dozier later became musical theme writer for B-InTune Television on UPN 13. He continues to write and produce for various artists in just about every genre of music.

Henry Godinez (director) is the Resident Artistic Associate at Goodman Theatre where his directing credits include The Sins of Sor Juana and Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarías; José Rivera’s Boleros for the Disenchanted (and world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre); Regina Taylor’s Millennium Mambo; Luis Alfaro's Electricidad and Straight as a Line; The Cook by Eduardo Machado; Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez; the Goodman/Teatro Vista co-production of José Rivera’s Cloud Tectonics and the 1996–2001 productions of A Christmas Carol. He also served as the director of the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival. His other Chicago directing credits include Water by the Spoonful (Court Theatre), A Civil War Christmas (Northlight Theatre), A Work of Art at Chicago Dramatists, A Year with Frog and Toad and Esperanza Rising (Chicago Children’s Theatre), Two Sisters and a Piano (Apple Tree Theatre/Teatro Vista co-production) and Anna in the Tropics (Victory Gardens). He is co-founder and former artistic director of Teatro Vista. As an actor, he was most recently seen in Quixote: On the Conquest of Self at Writers Theatre. He is the recipient of the 1999 Theatre Communications Group Alan Schneider Director Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Lawyers for the Creative Arts and was honored as the 2008 Latino Professional of the Year by the Chicago Latino Network. Born in Havana, Cuba, Godinez is a professor at Northwestern University and serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Arts Council and Albany Park Theater Project.

Andra Velis-Simon is a music director, adapter/arranger, vocal coach and pianist based in Chicago. Her credits at Chicago Children’s Theatre include The Hundred Dresses, A Year with Frog and Toad and Goodnight Moon. Regionally, her work has been seen at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, A.R.T. in Cambridge, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Berkeley Rep, Olney Theatre Center in Maryland and Three Oaks in Michigan. In Chicago: The Goodman (The Iceman Cometh and Camino Real); Porchlight (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever); Theater Wit (Mr. Burns: a post-electric play and 10 out of 12); The Hypocrites (Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes, American Idiot, Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and HMS Pinafore); and many others. Velis-Simon is the Resident Music Director for Firebrand Theatre. 

Last Stop on Market Street received a developmental reading in summer 2017 at the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University. Following its debut at Chicago Children’s Theatre, Last Stop at Market Street will be remounted with a new cast as a rolling world premiere September 15-October 21 at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, again under the direction of Henry Godinez.

Access Weekend for Last Stop on Market Street is May 12 and 13:

CCT continues to grow its commitment to all Chicago children at The Station by expanding services for patrons with disabilities. Access Weekend for Last Stop on Market Street is May 12 and 13, 2018. Services include:

Pre-show Touch Tour of the set prior to the show for guests who are blind or have low vision:
Saturday, May 12 at 9:30 a.m.

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

Sensory friendly performance for children on the autism spectrum or with Down Syndrome: 
Sunday, May 13 at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Note: Modifications are made to lighting, sound and music to avoid sensory overload, with a nearby Quiet Room.

For more information about Access services, visit or contact CCT’s Access and Inclusion department at

About Chicago Children’s Theatre

Chicago Children’s Theatre has transformed the former 12th District Police Station, located in the heart of Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood at 100 S. Racine Avenue, into its first permanent home. The new Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, celebrated its grand opening in January 2017, and now serves as a beautiful, mixed-use performing arts, education and community engagement facility that welcomes all Chicago families.

In addition to live performances in its new Pritzker Family Studio, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, is a centrally located community hub with the most diverse roster of year-round performing arts classes and camps for children 0 to 14 anywhere in Chicago. 

Registration is open at for the next eight-week spring session, April 9-June 2, 2018. High demand classes include Bubble James, HipHop4Tots, Intro to Piven Theatre Workshop, Circus and Aerial Arts with Actors Gymnasium, Wiggleworms West Loop, Improv with The Second City and Intro to Theatre.

Registration is also open for a unique series of 2018 Summer Camps at Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, ranging from week-long Adventure Camps born from legends, myths, folktales and fairytales. Look for half-day Play Time camps for little ones 3-1/2 to 5, special two-day workshops like Acting for the Camera and Acting with Green Screen, a GRRL Power camp in August for girls only that brings the Viola Project’s signature girl-powered Shakespeare program to Chicago Children's Theatre and Camp Red Kite, a three-week summer arts camp tailored specifically to the unique interests and needs of young people on the autism spectrum. 

Visit, email, or call (312) 374-8835 to register your child for one camp or many.

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 children’s programming to match the quality and significance of powerhouses such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre. CCT has always believed children should be treated as the sophisticated audiences that they are, showcasing high profile and award-winning talent, inventive production values and compelling stories that challenge, educate and entertain. CCT also honors 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.

CCT has built its national reputation due to its focus on new work, producing 16 world premieres in the last 11 years including The Selfish Giant, The Hundred Dresses, Jackie and Me, Dot and Ziggy, The Houdini Box, The Elephant and The Whale (in association with Redmoon), Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, Leo Lionni’s Frederick, Wonderland, Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure, A Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter, Jabari Dreams of Freedom, Moonshot: A Race to Space, The Year I Didn’t Go To School: A Homemade Circus, My Wonderful Birthday Suit! and An Epic Tale of Scale. These enjoyed successful inaugural runs in Chicago, many followed by productions at theaters across the U.S.

In 2017, Chicago Children’s Theatre became the first theater for young audiences in the nation to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards.

Led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, Board President Eric Neveux 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. 

Chicago Children's Theatre is sponsored in part by Goldman Sachs Gives and ComEd, with specific production support from The Chicago Community Trust.

For more information, visit

OPENING: We Will Rock You at Taft High School 4/25-4/28/18

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:
Taft Performing Arts Presents We Will Rock You
April 25th-28th

Here at ChiIL Mama, we rarely cover high school musicals, since there are 176 high schools in the city of Chi, IL! This one, however, has my one and only daughter in it. One of her close friends has the lead. And well... who doesn't love Queen songs?! Catch it if you can. Tickets are a reasonable $10 for adults and $5 for students.

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List: Family Friendly Theatre Fun

Taft Performing Arts presents We Will Rock You - The performing arts departments present the Spring Musical We Will Rock You--featuring the music of Queen--April 25-28 in the Taft Auditorium. Tickets are available at and at the door. Don't miss it! 

Featuring more than 20 hit Queen songs, WE WILL ROCK YOU School Edition follows two revolutionaries as they try to save Rock in a post apocalyptic world. Featuring the songs “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” “We Will Rock You,” “Somebody To Love,” “We Are The Champions,” “Under Pressure” and many more.

Forty students are in the cast, and countless others are helping with music, lights, sound, and set construction. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and are available at the door and online at

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Sesame Street: F is for Friends Pop-Up Tour Coming To Northbrook Court Saturday April 28th 11am-4pm

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List: 
F is Also For FREE Family Friendly Fun

Bring your family to meet Elmo and Abby Cadabby at the Sesame Street: F is for Friends Pop-Up Tour! 

WHEN: Saturday, April  28, 2018
The event will be open to the public from 11am-4pm with three live shows repeating throughout the day.

WHERE: Northbrook Court (Lord and Taylor Court)
1515 Lake Cook Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062
About the Sesame Street: F is for Friends Pop-Up Tour
HBO and Sesame Workshop present “Sesame Street: F is for Friends,” a free mall tour inspired by the 48th season of Sesame Street. This immersive, limited-engagement tour includes a 15-minute show starring costumed Elmo and Abby Cadabby characters as well as stories and songs about celebrating similarities and differences between friends. Pre-schoolers and their families will learn that while we may be different from one another, we’re alike in so many ways, too! It doesn’t matter if you’re a monster, a fairy or a kid, we can all be friends!

These free shows will repeat throughout the day. Families will also enjoy character meet-and-greets, digital activity stations, photo opportunities that include Cookie Monster’s new food truck, and more.

Play, dance and sing along with Sesame Street……that’s what friends are for!

Follow along on social media and tag your fun event photos with the hashtag #SesameFriends

Monday, April 23, 2018

OPENING: Chicago Shakespeare and Teller Team Up On The Scottish Play Through June 24, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Through June 24, 2018

Run time is 2 hours and 20 minutes (including a 15-minute intermission)

Shakespeare's infamous play that must not be named in a theatre is back again, with a few tricks up it's sleeve and we are way beyond excited to see it. Actors can be a superstitious lot and theatre lore states that speaking "Macbeth" aloud in a theatre is akin to a curse on the production. There are loads of well known incidents and accidents that lend some credence to the idea. I can speak it in print or on line with impunity though, so MACBETH MACBETH MACBETH!  

This is like the tradition of saying "good luck" before a theatre production is bad luck, and "break a leg" is good luck. When you work in a profession where your success or failure depends on your personal energy and ability to create story from fiction, and manipulate the energy of a room full of strangers, superstition and the supernatural make as much sense as anything. I'll be ChiILin' at "The Scottish Play" at The Yard with my teen son, for the press opening on May 3rd, so check back soon for my full review.

Macbeth (Ian Merrill Peakes, right) and Lady Macbeth (Chaon Cross) ascend to power, observed by the Weird Sisters (McKinley Carter, Emily Ann Nichelson, and Theo Germaine) in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Macbeth, adapted and directed by Aaron Posner and Teller, in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, April 25–June 24, 2018. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Aaron Posner and Teller (of Penn & Teller)
stage Shakespeare’s psychological thriller
in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, now through June 24

Chicago Shakespeare culminates the 2017/18 season with Macbeth, adapted and directed by Aaron Posner and Teller (of Penn & Teller)—the celebrated creative duo behind CST’s The Tempest, winner of the Jeff Award for Best Production in 2015. Starring Ian Merrill Peakes as Macbeth and Chaon Cross as Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare’s psychological thriller immerses audiences in a world of dark magic and ambition, delving into the twisted psyches of the ultimate power-hungry couple. This haunting drama of political intrigue and personal frailty where "nothing is but what is not" takes the stage of The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, now through June 24, 2018.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announces the cast and creative team for the theatrical event of the season: Macbeth, adapted and directed by Teller (of Penn & Teller) and Aaron Posner—the celebrated creative duo behind CST’s The Tempest, winner of the Jeff Award for Best Production in 2015. Starring Ian Merrill Peakes as Macbeth and Chaon Cross as Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare’s psychological thriller immerses audiences in a world of dark magic and ambition, delving into the twisted psyches of the ultimate power-hungry couple.

Pictured: Lady Macbeth (Chaon Cross) is taunted by the unseen Weird Sisters (from left to right: Theo Germaine, McKinley Carter, Emily Ann Nichelson). Photo by Liz Lauren.

Fantastical tale of dark magic and ambition in thrilling culmination of the season in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, beginning April 25

Teller is best known as one half of the famed Penn & Teller, who for more than 40 years have entertained and amazed audiences with their unique brand of magic and comedy—redefining magic’s place in popular culture. The longest-running headline act in Las Vegas history, Penn & Teller have been featured in Emmy-winning television specials, on world tours, and on Broadway; they currently host the hit series Penn & Teller: Fool Us! on The CW Network. Posner, an accomplished playwright and director, has written and adapted more than 20 plays, including Stupid F****** Bird, Life Sucks, My Name Is Asher Lev and The Chosen, among others. American Theatre said the hallmark of his directing is his ability to make classic plays “arresting and luminously accessible.” His work is in demand at major regional theaters nationwide—including credits at Folger Theater, American Repertory Theater, and Atlanta’s The Alliance, where he has garnered multiple Helen Hayes and Barrymore Awards.

Posner shared, “At our core, Teller and I are both populists. We passionately believe in Shakespeare for everyone. And an amazing story like this—full of magic, music, witches, blood and beheadings—is designed to have everyone sitting on the edge of their seats to see what thrills are in store.”

Teller and Posner's wild imaginings are brought to life onstage by a stellar creative team, whose work has been seen on Broadway and stages across the U.S. Legendary magician Johnny Thompson—whom Teller describes as “undisputedly the greatest living source of magical knowledge”—returns as Magic Designer. Scenic Designer Daniel Conway, Costume Designer Mara Blumenfeld and Lighting Designer Thom Weaver have created an immersive visual world where nothing is truly as it seems, bringing new truth to Macbeth’s line “nothing is but what is not.” Sound Designer Andre Pluess composes original music and orchestrations—creating a haunting soundscape with a series of unique instruments invented especially for this production by master percussionist Kenny Wollesen, a longtime collaborator of Tom Waits.

“We’re trying to put you, the audience member, in the same off-kilter position in relation to the production as Macbeth is to his world,” described Teller of their vision for the production. “When something happens on stage that seems to defy the rules of physics—all of a sudden what's happening to you is echoing the story.”

Leading the cast are Ian Merrill Peakes as Macbeth and Chaon Cross as Lady Macbeth. Helen Hayes Award-winner Peakes is a mainstay at the Folger Theatre, where he has taken on some of Shakespeare’s most challenging roles including Iago, Timon, and King Henry VIII. Cross is one of the great leading ladies of Chicago theater, with notable credits at Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, and Steppenwolf. She returns to Chicago Shakespeare, where she most recently appeared as Ellen Tree in Red Velvet.

The trio of Weird Sisters—played by actor-singers McKinley Carter, Theo Germaine, and Emily Ann Nichelson—infuse music and magic into the storytelling.

Also featured in the company of twenty-four multi-talented performers is Andrew White—founding ensemble member at Lookingglass, who recently completed two terms as Artistic Director—as Banquo. Timothy D. Stickney returns to Chicago Shakespeare to perform the role of Macduff. A longtime Shakespearean performer with credits at The Public Theater, The Old Globe, and Stratford Festival, Stickney is also known for playing the recurring character R.J. Gannon on ABC’s One Life to Live for nearly 15 years. Christopher Donahue plays the role of King Duncan. Donahue has notably appeared in Broadway’s Metamorphoses and Measure for Measure at New York Shakespeare Festival, in addition to productions with Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, and Lookingglass Theatre Company.

For more information, visit


Adam Wesley Brown Malcolm 
McKinley Carter Weird Sister 
Chaon Cross Lady Macbeth
Kyle Curry Donalbain 
Christopher Donahue Duncan/Doctor 
Theo Germaine Weird Sister 
Jennifer Latimore Lady Macduff/Gentlewoman 
Ronnie Malley Ensemble 
Matthew Floyd Miller Porter/Siward 
Austin Molinaro Fleance 
Emily Ann Nichelson Weird Sister 
Reilly Oh Seyton 
Ian Merrill Peakes Macbeth
Sam Pearson Young Siward 
Cage Sebastian Pierre Angus 
Edgar Miguel Sanchez Lennox 
Timothy D. Stickney Macduff 
Samuel Taylor Ross 
Bret Tuomi Bloody Sergeant 
Andrew White Banquo 
Micah Wilson Macduff Son
LiSean “Ling Ling” McElrath Ensemble
Alexander James Poe Ensemble
Dylan Obrochta Ensemble

Creative Team

Aaron Posner Adapter/Director
Teller Adapter/Director
Daniel Conway  Scenic Designer
Mara Blumenfel Costume Designer
Thom Weaver Lighting Designer
Johnny Thompson Magic Designer
Andre Pluess Sound Designer/Composer/Original Orchestrations
Richard Jarvie Wig and Make-up Designer
Susan Felder Verse Coach
Kenny Wollesen Instrument Designer/Wollesonics
Magdelene Spanuello Associate Director

Macbeth is presented in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, April 25–June 24, 2018. Single tickets are on sale now for $48–$88 (subject to change). Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets for patrons under 35. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

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

Accessible performances for Macbeth include:

Open-captioning – Thursday, May 17 at 1:00 p.m. and Friday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m.
ASL Duo-interpretation – Friday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Audio-description – Sunday, June 10 at 2:00 p.m. with optional touch tour at 12:00 p.m.

Creator Bios
AARON POSNER (Adapter/Director) returns to Chicago Shakespeare Theater, where he co-directed The Tempest (Jeff Award). Mr. Posner is a director and playwright; a founder and former artistic director of Philadelphia's Arden Theatre Company; the former artistic director of Two River Theater; and an associate artist at the Folger Theatre in Washington DC. His widely produced plays include: Stupid Fucking Bird, Life Sucks, and No Sisters (all re-imaginings of Chekhov plays); District Merchants, a new take on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice; The Chosen, My Name Is Asher Lev, both adapted from Chaim Potok novels; Sometimes a Great Notion, adapted from Ken Kesey; Mark Twain's A Murder, A Mystery, and a Marriage; an adaptation of three Kurt Vonnegut short stories, entitled Who Am I This Time? (And Other Conundrums of Love); The Gift of Nothing, Me…Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall, both musical for young audiences (with Andy Mitton and Patrick McDonnell); and many others. Mr. Posner has also directed nearly 200 productions at major regional theaters across the country. He has won numerous awards as both a director and playwright, including: a Jeff Award, several Helen Hayes Awards, two Barrymore Awards, two Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, Elliot Norton Award, The John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award, Outer Circle Critics Award, Theatre Bay Area Award, and more. Raised in Eugene, Oregon, and now living near Washington, DC, Mr. Posner graduated from Northwestern University and is an Eisenhower Fellow.

TELLER (Adapter/Director) returns to Chicago Shakespeare Theater, where he co-directed The Tempest (Jeff Award). Teller has been the smaller, quieter half of the Emmy-winning team Penn & Teller since 1975. With Penn Jillette, he has played Broadway, toured in North America and Britain, and currently is the longest-running headline act in Las Vegas history. Penn & Teller have written and starred in television series and specials, including eight seasons of the Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit!; Penn & Teller Tell a Lie (Discovery); Penn & Teller’s Sin City Spectacular (FX); Behind the Scenes, a PBS children’s series on the arts; The Unpleasant World of Penn & Teller, a magic and comedy series (Comedy Central, UK’s Channel 4); and the current hit series, Penn & Teller: Fool Us (The CW). Teller has written for The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire, GQ, The New Yorker; as well as three books with Jillette and two on his own. He is a frequent contributor to All Things Considered on NPR. Teller and Aaron Posner co-directed a version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth for Washington DC’s Folger Shakespeare Theatre and he co-wrote and directed the acclaimed stage production Play Dead (Off-Broadway and Los Angeles). Teller made his feature-length film directorial debut with the Oscar-shortlisted and BAFTA-nominated Tim’s Vermeer, a Sony Pictures Classics 2014 release. In 2015, Teller triumphantly returned to Broadway co-starring in Penn & Teller On Broadway. 


A global theatrical force, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for storytelling, musicality of language, and empathy for the human condition. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be, putting forward a company that delights in the unexpected and defies theatrical category. A Regional Tony Award-winning theater, CST produces acclaimed plays at its home on Navy Pier, throughout Chicago’s schools and neighborhoods, and on stages around the world. In 2017, the Theater unveiled a new stage, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, The Yard positions CST as the city’s most versatile performing arts venue.