Friday, April 28, 2023

The 92nd Annual Waa-Mu Show “Romance en Route” April 28 - May 7

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List

The 92nd Annual Waa-Mu Show

“Romance en Route”

April 28 - May 7

“Romance en Route” follows six romantics on a journey through love, loss, heartbreak, and self-discovery in the City of Lights. By a chance of fate, Eve and Xander sit next to each other on their flight from Chicago to Paris. Meanwhile, their significant others, Lexi and Jenna, are in Paris competing for a high-stakes promotion. Alongside Tristan, a flight attendant with his head in the clouds, and Matthieu, a hotel concierge and part-time cynic, the two couples meet and are forced to confront fears, doubts, and unavoidable conversations. Will they find themselves—and the love they deserve—before they return home?

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar:


Friday, April 28 at 7:30 pm

Saturday, April 29 at 7:30 pm

Sunday, April 30 at 2 pm

Friday, May 5 at 7:30 pm

Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 pm

Sunday, May 7 at 2 pm

at Cahn Auditorium!

600 Emerson St., Evanston

Tickets are $10-$30 available HERE

MAY 6 @ 2 p.m.

Recommended for ages 6-10

Waa-Mu Behind the Curtain is a playful and fun-filled hour that will feature lights, costumes, song and dance. It will be hosted by School of Communication faculty member Ryan T. Nelson, the award-winning music director of Northwestern’s 91st Annual Waa-Mu Show, “Peculiar Inheritance.” Nelson and cast members of this year’s Waa-Mu Show will lead audience members through the process of creating a new musical together. Attendees will experience a behind-the-scenes glimpse of “the greatest college show in America” with special interactive access with the cast, crew and creative team of this year’s Waa-Mu Show. The workshop will feature hands-on demonstrations related to musical instruments, choreography and singing. Waa-Mu Behind the Curtain is presented through a partnership between the 92nd Annual Waa Mu Show and Imagine U. All Waa-Mu Behind the Curtain tickets are just $5 and available HERE.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

World Premiere of Dory Fantasmagory Via The Young People’s Theatre of Chicago May 6 - May 28 at the Greenhouse Theater Center

 ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List




based on the book by ABBY HANLON adapted for the stage by JOHN GLORE 

MAY 6 - MAY 28 

At The Greenhouse Theater Center 

directed by RANDY WHITE 

Dory is best enjoyed by kindergarteners to 4th graders

Following a sold-out run of Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, the Young People’s Theatre of Chicago’s inaugural 3-Play 2022-23 season concludes this May with the world premiere stage adaptation of Abby Hanlon’s popular early-reader book, Dory Fantasmagory. Adapted by John Glore, YPT’s world premiere production is directed by artistic director Randy White

Dory Fantasmagory runs May 6 - May 28 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. For tickets or info, visit or call the Greenhouse Theater Box Office at 773 404 7336

The Beloved Book Series – Now Onstage 

The first in a series of extraordinarily popular Dory chapter books by Abby Hanlon, Dory Fantasmagory details the adventures of 6-year-old “Rascal,” who has a big imagination and an abiding knack for getting herself in trouble! 

You see, it’s tough being the youngest. Dory’s older siblings won’t play with her and so she joins forces with best friend Mary (she’s a little monster!) and fairy godmother Mr. Nuggy to battle the oh-so-horrible Mrs. Gobble Gracker in a no-holds-barred attempt to win the thing she wants most: her family’s attention! 

“Charming , Funny & True to Life” – Kirkus Review 

“Beyond the silliness and the jokes–of which there are plenty–Abby Hanlon’s real talent here is how she can balance ridiculousness alongside honest-to-goodness heartwarming moments!” 

School Library Journal
““Educational Value: A+ – Common Sense Media 

Best book of the year by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, & Parent's Magazine. Golden Kite Honor for fiction and American Library Assocation Notable book. 

Young People’s Theatre of Chicago 

The Greenhouse Theater Center · 2257 N Lincoln Ave 60614 · 773.404.7336 · 812.272.4511 (m) · 

Best Book of the Year by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, & Parent's Magazine. It won a Golden Kite Honor for Fiction and is an American Library Association Notable Book. 







Performance Schedule: Saturdays at 10am & 1pm; Sundays at 1pm 

(added performances Friday @ 7pm & Sunday @ 10am on final weekend) 

Script by John Glore
Adapted from the book by Abby Hanlon
Dory’s Theme Song” composed by Deborah Wicks La Puma (composer of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!)
Directed by Randy White
Set Design by Shayna Patel
Lighting Design by Bridget Williams
Costume Design by Cindy Moon
Props Design by Saskia Bakker
Sound Design by Kurt Ottinger
Musical Director by Sam Shankman
Stage Managed by Jordan Large 

Tickets: $25 / $19 (under 12) Appropriate for all Ages 

@ The Greenhouse Theater Center 

Upstairs Mainstage
2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago 773 404 7336 

Young People’s Theatre of Chicago 

The Greenhouse Theater Center · 2257 N Lincoln Ave 60614 · 773.404.7336 · 812.272.4511 (m) · 



JOHN GLORE (playwright) is an award-winning playwright whose work for young audiences includes Wind of a Thousand Tales, Folktales Too, Rhubarb Jam, The Day After Evermore and adaptations of A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz, Flora & Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo and Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon. His plays for adults include The Rub, On the Jump, and The Company of Heaven, among others. With the performance trio Culture Clash he has co-authored adaptations of two plays by Aristophanes, The Birds and Peace. His work has been produced at South Coast Repertory, Arena Stage, Berkeley Rep, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Children’s Theatre Company, the Coterie, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Childsplay, and many other theatres nationwide and internationally. 

ABBY HANLON (composer and orchestrator) Abby Hanlon is the author and illustrator of Dory Fantasmagory, a series of chapter books for five to nine year olds, published by Dial/Penguin Random House. The first book in the series was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Parent's Magazine. It won a Golden Kite Honor for Fiction and is an American Library Association Notable Book. The sequel, Dory and The Real True Friend won a 2015 Cybil award. The books have been translated in twenty-two languages and are Junior Library Guild selections. 

Abby has a bachelor's from Barnard College and a master's degree in childhood education from the City College of New York. Abby has taught creative writing and first grade in the New York City public school system. Her debut picture book, Ralph Tells a Story (2012), is widely used by elementary school teachers. Abby recently illustrated the picture book, Chester Van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme, written by Avery Monsen (2022). 

Abby lives in Brooklyn with her husband, her fifteen-year-old twins, and her scruffy dog Caroline. 

RANDY WHITE (director) was founding artistic director of Cardinal Stage Company in Bloomington, IN. where he inaugurated the extraordinarily successful “Cardinal for Kids” series. In NYC, Randy directed the off-Broadway/national tour of the TYA musical Max and Ruby, the 15-month run of Glen Berger’s Underneath the Lintel, assisted on Disney’s The Lion King, and was resident director at New Dramatists. Regionally, Randy has directed at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Portland Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, etc. As an educator, Randy has directed and/or taught at Yale, Penn, IU, University of Minn/Guthrie, Fordham, and NYU Tisch. 

In Chicago, Randy directed The Wizard of Oz at the Children’s Theatre of Winnetka and Curious George and Knuffle Bunny at Northbrook Theatre. For the Greenhouse, Randy directed Truman and The Birth of Israel and was nominated for an Equity Jeff award for his critically acclaimed production of Midsummer (A Play with Songs). He also directed YPT’s inaugural production of Knuffle Bunny in the fall of 2021, the world premiere of Peabody, the Science Musical, in the fall of 2022, and the sold out run of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Randy holds an MFA in directing from the University of Alberta in his native Canada. 

Young People’s Theatre of Chicago 

The Greenhouse Theater Center · 2257 N Lincoln Ave 60614 · 773.404.7336 · 812.272.4511 (m) · 


The Young People’s Theatre of Chicago is a professional children’s theatre company offering highest-quality Theater for Young Audience (TYA) productions and performance/education opportunities for children of all ages and backgrounds. 

Housed in the historic Greenhouse Theater Center in Lincoln Park, YPT launched in
the fall of 2021 with an extraordinarily successful production of Mo Willems’ Knuffle
Bunny. “Last year’s Knuffle Bunny was a hugely successful first outing for YPT,” says
YPT’s Managing Artistic Director Randy White. YPT followed up with an inaugural 3-play season, including Peabody, a world premiere S.T.E.M.-themed musical for gradeschoolers, a sold-out run of Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, and the upcoming world premiere adaptation of the wildly popular Dory Fantasmagory. 

White noted that “the company is excited to partner with community organizations, parents, impassioned educators, and local business leaders to make it possible for local children of all ages and backgrounds to experience and participate in a wide range of transformative theatrical experiences!” He added that these “include established children’s classics, commissioned new works by celebrated American playwrights, and extraordinary performance and educational opportunities.” 

Friday, April 21, 2023

ADULT NIGHT OUT: Chicago Premiere of MotherFreakingHood! at Chicago's Venus Cabaret Theater May 4 – June 11, 2023

 ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

The uproarious new musical comedy


makes its Chicago premiere at the Venus Cabaret Theater

at Mercury Theater Chicago

The critically acclaimed musical features

original book and music by Julie Dunlap and Sara Stotts

with direction by Heidi Van

and music direction by Linda Madonia


Featuring Leah Morrow, Jacquelyne Jones, Tafadzwa Diener and Maya Rowe 

May 4 – June 11, 2023

Grab your friends, hire a sitter, and get ready to laugh your abs off! MotherFreakingHood!, the uproarious musical comedy celebrating the world’s second-oldest profession, is coming to Chicago’s Venus Cabaret Theater. This new, original musical by Julie Dunlap and Sara Stotts is directed by Heidi Van, with music direction by Linda Madonia. MotherFreakingHood! runs May 4-June 11, 2023 in the intimate Venus Cabaret Theater at Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Avenue. I'll be out for the press opening May 13th, so check back soon for my full review.

MotherFreakingHood! is an irreverent, yet sentimental, original musical comedy that follows first-time mom Rachel, second-time mom Angie, and fourth-time mom Marcia, as they sing and dance their way from pregnancy tests to empty bottle at a time! The uncensored trio takes on the world with unmotherly charm, discovering that this inconceivably hilarious adventure is best shared with friends. MotherFreakingHood! takes a blunt look at the parenting journey, told through all original music and unbridled humor.

After debuting in Kansas City at the Goppert Theatre in 2015, MotherFreakingHood!enjoyed a limited off-Broadway run at the 2017 New York Musical Festival in New York City, receiving rave reviews and continuing its development in Chicago and Kansas City. The musical then had a limited, sold-out run at The Black Box in Kansas City in September 2022 where it was named Broadway World's Best New Play or Musical for 2022 in the region.

“I am thrilled to be bringing this show to my hometown, sweet home Chicgo,” says co-playwright Sara Stotts. “Between Heidi [Van], Linda [Madonia)], Keely [Vasquez, casting director], and our all-female cast, we have a great team of extraordinary women bringing this critically acclaimed musical to the beautiful Venus Cabaret Theater.”

“MotherFreakingHood! is a full experience that gives mothers a place to laugh at the absurdities of child-rearing and reminds them they are not alone,” adds co-playwright Julie Dunlap.

The cast includes Leah Morrow (Marcia Burger), Jacquelyne Jones (Angie Miller),Tafadzwa Diener (Rachel Nixon) and Maya Rowe (Everywoman).

Tickets for MotherFreakingHood!, priced $65 for single tickets and $260 for premium reserved tables of four, are on sale now at the box office, 3745 N. Southport Avenue in Chicago, Discounted tickets available for groups of 8 or more.

About the Artists

Playwrights Julie Dunlap and Sara Stotts know the power of friendship well. The former roommates met at

the University of Kansas and quickly bonded while co-writing a short musical for the campus variety show, Rock Chalk Revue. While their careers led them to different cities, they maintained their friendship and shared love of music and writing, teaming up to writeMotherFreakingHood! while coping with raising their own kids, a move they claim was cheaper than therapy. With the primary goal of celebrating unsung heroes with unsung songs, the musical comedy became a labor of love.

Julie Dunlap (Playwright / Producer), a Kansas City native and mother of five, entered motherhood with a degree in Human Biology she used to make her own humans. To cope, she started a mom blog that was soon picked up by the Lawrence Journal-World as a weekly humor column. Within three years, though, she no longer felt 500 words each week sufficiently expressed the stories that made up her days as a mom and partnered with her former college roomie to write an entire musical about the experience. Julie lives in Lawrence, KS where she is a freelance writer and pianist.

Sara Stotts (Playwright / Producer), a mother of two, grew up in Ponca City, Oklahoma. After graduating from the University of Kansas, Sara earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Northwestern University. While in Chicago, she studied improvisation at both the Annoyance Theater and The Second City. There, she seasoned her funny bone and honed her music writing skills as the former front woman of the funk-blues band Chubby Nothin’ and the Bone. Sara lives in Wilmette, IL and practices Physical Therapy by day and by night she practices being a mom to her two delightful and loving and not at all angsty teenagers.  

Heidi Van (Director / Producer) is an actor, creator, and producer of contemporary experimental live theatre. She is the founder of Fishtank Theatre, Inc, a stalwart in the Kansas City arts community, which has been nurturing local artists and entrepreneurship in the arts since 2009. In 2019, Heidi opened The Black Box, an ever-evolving stage in Kansas City's West Bottoms. She leads with experience, wit and creativity both within the theater and in her favorite role: as a mother of three.

Dates: May 4 – June 11, 2023

Previews: May 4 – 7, 2023

Regular Run: May 11 – June 11, 2023

Press Performances: Friday, May 12 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 13 at 3pm and 8pm; Sunday, May 14 at 3 pm



Thursdays: 8pm

Fridays: 8pm

Saturdays: 3pm and 8pm

Sundays: 3pm


Location: Venus Cabaret Theater at Mercury Theater Chicago; 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago


Single Tickets: $65

Premium Reserved Tables for 4 people: $260

Box Office: 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago;


COVID PROTOCOL: Mercury Theater Chicago follows the CDC and State of Illinois recommendations about maintaining a COVID safe environment. Any interaction with the public poses an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19. By visiting Mercury Theater Chicago, it is understood that everyone voluntarily assumes all risks related to exposure.


About Mercury Theater Chicago

The beautifully renovated Mercury Theater Chicago is in the heart of the Southport Corridor at 3745 North Southport Avenue, within a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from Wrigley Field. A delightful destination, Mercury Theater Chicago is a live-theater seating 280 people, adjoining Venus Cabaret Theater (seating 80). 

The building that houses the Mercury opened in 1912 as a silent film nickelodeon, named The Blaine Theatre after actor and former Senator and Secretary of State James G. Blaine. The Blaine became obsolete when talking pictures became popular nationwide in 1928. The building served a variety of uses until 1994, when it was purchased by theater producer Michael Cullen and transformed into a live theatre, named the Mercury Theatre.

In 2010 the building was sold again and reopened as Mercury Theater Chicago under the direction of Walter Stearns, a veteran theater director and producer. Mercury Theater Chicago's second performance space, Venus Cabaret Theater, offers a unique intimate theatrical experience complemented by specialty cocktails. Mercury Theater Chicago is thrilled to be part of the city's vibrant theatre community, boasting record-setting long runs, employing hundreds of artists and recognized with dozens of award nominations. Mercury Theater Chicago's team includes L. Walter Stearns and Eugene Dizon (Executive Producers), Christopher Chase Carter (Artistic Director), and Kristi J. Martens (Managing Director). Visit


Thursday, April 20, 2023

REVIEW: Joffrey Ballet’s Chicago Premiere of The Little Mermaid April 19–April 30, 2023

ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List


With sets and costumes of the grandest scale, critically acclaimed production is the largest-ever in Joffrey’s history

Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

Guest Review 

by Flo Mano

This is not your ordinary/ common/ well known Disneyfied Little Mermaid. In John Neumeier’s unique interpretation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, he weaves a complex and intense portrayal of unrequited love and the resilience of the human spirit.

With choreography, sets, costumes, and lighting, all by Neumeier, this ballet is as much theater as it is dance! John Neumeier is truly a jack of all trades and choreographer extraordinaire!

In the opening scene we see the deck of a ship with a giant, blue neon line spanning the stage, resembling the shape of waves below it. As the ship’s Captain, Edvard (Dylan Gutierrez) and his guests celebrate his wedding day, the Poet (Stefan Goncalvez), dressed in a black top hat and a redingote wipes away a tear. As the music begins, he slowly delves in the deep-blue ocean, and thus begins a Mysterious, magical, beauty of a production, revealing the depths of the choreographer’s imagination. 

We enter a sapphire-serene-swirling-smooth underwater wondrous world! The Mermaid’s wide-legged silk pants added fluidity to her ethereal movements, fanning out like fins when she is held aloft to “swim.”

This Mermaid, danced with grace and emotion by (Victoria Jaiani), falls for the Prince (Gutierrez) and trades her fins for feet, with the help of the very forceful and passionate Sea Witch (Yoshihisa Arai), who flies like a Japanese Samurai.

Neumeier elevates a fantasy into a sophisticated portrayal of psychological transformation. The stylised, dramatic, nonverbal format demands the dancers venture into deeply emotional terrain in order to convey the ballet’s full message.

Requiring strong athleticism by the entire company, the choregraphy is at times very modern and frantic. The sailors were amazing! 

The Mermaid is treated poorly on land and rejected by the prince who marries a princess (Anais Bueno) instead. As Ariel is treading on an emotionally disturbing path, we see the world through her eyes. She’s ultimately driven to madness by the nightmarish atmosphere, feeling trapped and claustrophobic by ceilings and walls.

The earth world, which she so desired, turns out to be a poor tradeoff for her prior life. After re-creating herself, at the cost of extreme personal pain, she discovers life as a human has sharp edges, and is very difficult. We visibly see the physical, searing pain she endures, as she walks on the feet she so wanted. 

At last the poet arrives to pick up the pieces, and lamenting alongside the Mermaid, he sheds his clothes, and bare chested they dance in a passionate and uplifting last pas de deux uniting their minds and souls.

The score by Lera Auerbach sets the scenes, evoking both atmosphere and the emotional tone/discomfort of being out of one’s element. 

This fable about personal sacrifice, unconditional love, and failures, ultimately leads not to tragedy, but to endurance in an unexpected togetherness.

Photo Credit: Kiran West

This visually stunning ballet is a force of wordless emotions and a must see. 

Flo Mano is a CPS elementary teacher/librarian, hairdresser, and theater/film fanatic who catches hundreds of Chicago shows annually. She volunteers at numerous film venues and theaters.

The Joffrey Ballet closes its 67th season with the long-awaited Chicago premiere of John Neumeier’s beautifully haunting interpretation of The Little Mermaid. 

Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

A gripping tableau of shadows and colors, Neumeier’s world-renowned production of Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 tragic folktale follows the tormented mermaid heroine on a journey between the divergent worlds of land and sea—one utterly complex, the other magnificently serene. With sets and costumes of the grandest scale, this heartbreaking tragedy, based on Andersen’s original and complex themes, will mark the largest production ever mounted by The Joffrey Ballet. The Little Mermaid will be presented at the historic Lyric Opera House, 20 North Upper Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, in ten performances only, from April 19–April 30, 2023.

In The Little Mermaid, Milwaukee-born, Hamburg Ballet Director and Chief Choreographer John Neumeier blends dance, dramatic storytelling, and spectacle into a stunning interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fable. The story follows a mermaid who saves a ship’s captain--a Prince--from drowning after a terrible storm at sea. Awakening to a group of onlookers on shore, the Prince mistakes his savior for a human Princess for whom he falls instantly in love. Begging for help from the underwater Sea Witch, the mermaid receives a human body with two legs—but as she watches the Prince’s love for the Princess grow, she suffers the pain of human disappointment and the heartbreak of unrequited love.

Neumeier created The Little Mermaid for the Royal Danish Ballet in 2005 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Andersen’s birth. Received with critical acclaim, the cautionary tale has since toured with premier ballet companies around the globe. The Little Mermaid is Neumeier’s tour de force, featuring his original choreography, sets, and costumes that come together to create a ballet that is as much theater as it is dance.

"John Neumeier's adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid is a poignant depiction of the complexity of unrequited love and unwavering resilience," says The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE. "At its heart, the story proves the strength of the spirit, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The production's choreography and stage design beautifully illustrate the contrasts between land and sea, and hope and despair. Neumeier's emotional journey reminds us that no matter how fervent, and although sometimes unreturned, love is a powerful force which transforms us into our best selves."

President and CEO Greg Cameron adds, "Marking the largest production ever mounted by the Joffrey, the long-anticipated Chicago premiere of The Little Mermaid closes out an extraordinary season of milestones, including the record-breaking remount of Anna Karenina, which became the highest-grossing non-Nutcracker production in the Joffrey's history. This season's closer is a stunning interpretation, bringing to life one of Hans Christian Andersen's most revered tales."

The Little Mermaid features an original score by Lera Auerbach that combines moody harmonies with the use of the theremin to convey the beautiful, otherworldly voice of the mermaid. Live music will be performed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Scott Speck, Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet.

Ticket Information
The Joffrey Ballet presents John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid from Wednesday, April 19–Sunday, April 30, 2023 at the Lyric Opera House, 20 North Upper Wacker Drive. The full schedule is as follows: Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 PM; Friday, April 21 at 7:30 PM; Saturday, April 22 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM; Sunday, April 23 at 2:00 PM; Thursday, April 27 at 7:30 PM; Friday, April 28 at 7:30 PM; Saturday, April 29 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM; and Sunday, April 30 at 2:00 PM.

Single tickets start at $36 and are available for purchase at Lyric Opera Box Office located at 20 N. Upper Wacker Dr. and by telephone at 312.386.8905, or online at

Photo Credit: Kiran West

About The Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet is one of the premier dance companies in the world today, with a reputation for boundary-breaking performances for more than 60 years. The Joffrey repertoire is an extensive collection of all-time classics, modern masterpieces, and original works. 

Founded in 1956 by pioneers Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, the Joffrey remains dedicated to artistic expression, innovation, and first-rate education and engagement programming. The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE and President and CEO Greg Cameron.

The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its 2022–2023 Season Sponsors: Abbott Fund, Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, The Florian Fund, Anne L. Kaplan, Nancy and Sanfred Koltun, and Live Music Sponsors Sandy and Roger Deromedi, Sage Foundation, and The Marina and Arnold Tatar Fund for Live Music. The Joffrey also acknowledges Season Partners Chicago Athletic Clubs, and Athletico Physical Therapy, official provider of physical therapy for The Joffrey Ballet.

Special thanks to The Little Mermaid Major Production Sponsor Ethel & Bill Gofen, and Production Sponsors Pamela Crutchfield, Jeanette Stevens, and Ron & Ann Waters.

For more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs, visit Connect with the Joffrey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Photo Credit: Kiran West

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

ADULT NIGHT OUT: FROM THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA Via Lifeline Theatre and Pegasus Theatre Chicago April 27— June 18, 2023

 ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar




Performances with Open Captioning on May 20 and June 9

Performance with Touch Tour and Audio Description on May 28

The production runs approximately 2 hours with an intermission. 

The autobiography will be on sale in the lobby.


Lifeline Theatre presents From the Mississippi Delta, based on the autobiography of and written by Dr. Endesha Ida Mae Holland. Lifeline Theatre’s Artistic Director ILesa Duncan directs From the Mississippi Deltaand the production runs Thursday, April 27— Sunday, June 18 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below.)  

I'll be out for opening night, Monday, May 1, so check back soon for my full review.

Previews are Thursday, Apr. 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Apr. 28 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday Apr. 29 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, May 30 at 2:30 p.m. Regular performance times (May 5 – June 18) are Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $45 for regular single tickets, $25 for previews, $35 for seniors and active/retired military personnel (with ID), $15 for students (with ID), with group rates for 10 or more available upon request. Tickets may be purchased visiting or at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477.  

From the Mississippi Delta is based on Dr. Holland’s memoir of the same title as she recounts her 20-year journey from humble beginnings in Greenwood, Mississippi to achieving her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota.  Directed by Lifeline Artistic Director ILesa Duncan (Neverwhere [2018], Middle Passage,) experience a story of triumph in the face of extreme adversity that expertly weaves through the trials and tribulations of Dr. Holland’s life relayed through the bodies and voices of only three actors, all in tribute to one of America’s unsung “sheroes”.


Co-producer Pegasus Theatre Chicago is developing a series of city-wide community engagement events and post-performance talk-backs.  Events include: #ProtectBlackGirls: A Panel Discussion on Organizing, Advocacy, and Action; “Dirt to Delta,” a poetry performance; and a writing workshop. Dates and locations will be updated on the Lifeline and Pegasus websites.


The complete cast and production team for From the Mississippi Delta includes guest artists LaKecia Harris, Arielle Leverett, & Jenise Sheppard; with understudies Tierra Matthews.


PRODUCTION TEAM: Lifeline ensemble member ILesa Duncan (Director); with guest artists Deon Custard (Sound Designer), Adi Davis (Production Manager), Gregory Geffrard (Intimacy Consultant), Gregory Graham (Costume Designer), Tanji Harper(Choreographer/Movement Designer), Ricky Harris (Music Director), Wendy Ann Huber (Props Designer), Roxie Kooi (Stage Manager), Angela Weber Miller (Scenic Designer), Harrison Ornelas (Technical Director), Shadana Patterson (Dialect Coach), Jocelyn Prince (Dramaturg), Karen Wallace (Lighting Supervisor), and Levi Wilkins (Lighting Designer).



Dr. Endesha Ida Mae Holland (1944-2006) was a writer and an emeritus professor of theater at the University of Southern California. She was best-known for her play, From the Mississippi Delta, which was based on her memoir of the same name. Delta chronicled her journey from Jim Crow-era poverty, rape and prostitution to civil rights activism. Holland became involved with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and participated in numerous civil rights protests. She left Mississippi in 1965 as a dropout to further her education.. Although it took 20 years, she earned her bachelor's, master's degree and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota


ABOUT ILESA DUNCAN, Director and Artistic Director of Lifeline Theatre

ILesa Duncan became Lifeline’s artistic director and joined the ensemble in January 2019, where she directed Neverwhere (Jeff Recommended 2018), and Blue Shadow (2010 KidSeries Premiere). A producer, director, writer, educator and theater-maker, Duncan is an avid collaborator on new work. Other directing credits include Eclipsed (Jeff Recommended), Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery (Jeff Nominated), Rutherford’s Travels (Jeff Nominated, co-adapter), The Green Book, For Her as a Piano, and Blacula: Young, Black & Undead at Pegasus Theatre (where is the Producing Artistic Director); Broken Fences at 16th Street Theater; The Nativity (Congo Square; Jeff nominated); and the Jeff Award-winning Jar the Floor at ETA Creative Arts. Duncan has also worked with The Goodman, Writers Theatre, Victory Gardens, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Stage Left, and Chicago Dramatists, as well as Contemporary American Theatre Company (Ohio), The Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Arena Stage (Washington DC), and Lincoln Center Theater (New York). As an educator, Duncan has led youth development and arts education programs in Chicago for more than 13 years. She is a past awardee of an NEA/TCG Directing fellowship and a 3 Arts Ragdale’s Fellowship. She is member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab and the Chicago Director’s Lab, and is an associate artist with Chicago Dramatists (where she previously served as education and community engagement director).


Accessible Performances: The Saturday, May 20, 2:30 p.m. performance and the Friday, June 9, 7:30 p.m. performances will feature open captioning for patrons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. The Sunday, May 28, 2:30 p.m. performance will feature a pre-show touch tour of the set at 1 p.m. and live audio description for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For more information about Lifeline’s accessibility services, please contact our Accessibility Coordinator at 773.761.4477 x703 or at


From the Mississippi Delta runs Thursday, April 27— Sunday, June 18 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below.)  The press opening for From the Mississippi Delta is Sunday, Apr. 30 at 2:30 p.m. Opening night is Monday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Thursday, Apr. 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Apr. 28 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday Apr. 29 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, May 30 at 2:30 p.m.).  Regular performance times (May 5 – June 18) are Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $45 for regular single tickets, $25 for previews, $35 for seniors and active/retired military personnel (with ID), $15 for students (with ID), with group rates for 10 or more available upon request. 

Tickets may be purchased visiting or at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477.  The production runs approximately 2 hours with an intermission. The autobiography will be on sale in the lobby.


Celebrating its 40th season, Lifeline Theatre continues to explore, interpret, and reimagine books and other literary works to create stories that move us beyond the margins of our own lives. Lifeline Theatre – Big Stories, Up Close. 


Lifeline Theatre’s MainStage programs are partially supported by Carol Oppenheim + Jerome Lamet Charitable Fund; a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events;  Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; FGMK LLC; Flex Print, Inc.; Illinois Arts Council Agency; MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; Rogers Park Social; S&C Electric Company Fund; The Shubert Foundation; and the annual support of businesses and individuals.


Pegasus Theatre Chicago is supported by generous grants from The MacArthur Fund at the Richard Driehaus Foundation, the Walder Foundation, The David & Reva Logan Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (CityArts), and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023


After a nationwide search, Metropolis’ Board of Directors announces acclaimed theatre artist Brendan Ragan as the company’s new Artistic Director. Ragan is the founding Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning Urbanite Theatre, a Florida-based company known regionally for producing bold, inventive new works.

Interim Artistic Director Robbie Simpson, who has been at Metropolis since directing Cabaret in September, will collaborate in this transition before his return to New York City. 

Metropolis Board President Stephen Daday says of the transition, “We are embarking on a new day for Metropolis. We conducted a nationwide search in conjunction with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland and received resumes from an enormous number of applicants. Brendan brings a wealth of compassion, empathy, passion, and high-quality production value to Metropolis. I believe donors, subscribers, patrons, staff, and the talented artists who grace our stage will be very excited for what is to come.” 

As founding Co-Artistic Director of Urbanite Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, Ragan has developed a reputation as an accomplished director and innovative theatrical producer. “Blending my experience with challenging new work with the productions that delight Arlington Heights will be a great thrill for audiences and artists alike. We are going to tell wonderful stories with the highest degree of professionalism," says Ragan. “Metropolis has been making a tremendous impact in Arlington Heights for over 20 years. However, it became clear to me right away that the organization is much more than a neighborhood theater. From the important endeavors at the School of the Performing Arts to the many dozens of exciting, presented works throughout the year, MPAC has the rare merit of being not just a professional theater but a vital cultural center. I’m ecstatic to join this organization.” 

Over the next month of leadership transition, Ragan will collaborate extensively with current Interim Artistic Director Robbie Simpson. This joint effort will include artistic team choices for the 2023-24 season, to be announced later in the year and include the ongoing efforts to ensure Metropolis is an essential resource and artistic hub in Chicago and the Chicagoland communities. 

Robbie Simpson embraces the new Artistic Director, stating, “I am thrilled to welcome Brendan Ragan to the Metropolis Performing Arts Center. His dedication to bringing high-caliber productions to this community will make him an excellent leader not just in Arlington Heights but in the Chicago theater community, as well. This is an exciting time for Metropolis." Simpson will return to Metropolis this fall to direct the 2023-2024 Season opener, to be announced at the Metropolis Celebration Gala on April 29, at the Cotillion Banquet Hall in Palatine.

Ragan will begin his tenure as the new Artistic Director on April 24, 2023.


Brendan Ragan (he/him/his) is a theatremaker with two decades of award-winning professional experience as an actor, director, and producer. Brendan was the founding Co-Artistic Director of Sarasota's Urbanite Theatre, where he directed the regional premieres of The Smuggler by Ronán Noone, Sender by Ike Holter, Wakey, Wakey by Will Eno, The Drowning Girls by Graham, Vlaskalic, and Tomlinson, The Burdens by Matt Schatz, among others. In addition, he directed the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of Jacqueline Goldfinger's Backwards Forwards Back and wrote and directed Urbanite's original immersive experience Safe House. 

Brendan has been a champion of new works, producing plays by playwrights like Larissa FastHorse, Aaron Posner, Lauren Yee, Hannah Benitez, Sheila Callaghan, Franky Gonzalez, and Duncan Macmillan. For Single Carrot Theatre in Baltimore, Brendan directed the world premiere productions of La Muñeca, Illuminoctem, and A Short Reunion and American Stage's world premiere adaptation of Tartuffe by Robert Caisley. 

Regional directing credits include the Odyssey Play Festival, ThinkTank Theatre, Hermitage Artist Retreat, and the FSU/Asolo Conservatory (Handy Award Winner - Best Direction, Reckless). Acting credits include Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Stageworks, Asolo Rep, CENTERSTAGE, Waterside Theatre, Gorilla Theatre (Theatre Tampa Bay Award for Best Performance in An Iliad), and Nebraska Shakespeare. BFA, University of Colorado, 2006. MFA, FSU/Asolo Conservatory 2013.


Metropolis Theatre and School of the Performing Arts offer inspirational live entertainment, imaginative arts education, and impactful community partnerships within Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs, delivering artistic excellence, shared multi-generational connections, and inclusive experiences that engage our community.

Located in downtown Arlington Heights, IL, Metropolis is one of Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs' leading venues for quality entertainment ranging from a Main Stage subscription series to rock, country, comedy, and cabaret concerts. The complex has a 329-seat theater, four classrooms, and thirteen music studios. Metropolis School of Performing Arts serves over 2,500 students annually through group classes, individual lessons, and seasonal performance camps. Each year, our Stories in Action (Theatre for Young Audiences) gives more than 18,000 students an exciting theatre-going experience to enhance their school curriculum. In addition, our Community Engagement programs bring the arts to individuals with unique and different needs and seniors.

Metropolis is located at 111 W. Campbell Street in downtown Arlington Heights. Street parking is available. Free parking is available in the public garage behind the theater. For more information about Metropolis and a listing of upcoming performances, go to

All proceeds benefit Metropolis’ theatrical arts and education programs. Metropolis is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

ADULT NIGHT OUT: Chicago Premiere of Fairview Via Definition Theatre April 28 - May 21, 2023

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 

Definition Theatre  

presents the Chicago Premiere of 


the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner by Jackie Sibblies Drury 

directed by Artistic Director Tyrone Phillips 


Here at ChiIL Mama, we not only cover family friendly theatre, but also productions that deal with family relationships and dynamics. We're particularly jazzed for Definition Theatre's latest, the Chicago premiere of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury and directed by Artistic Director Tyrone Phillips. We've been big fans of Tyrone Phillips' excellent work for years. I'll be out for opening night on May 4th, so check back soon after for my full review.  

Fairview runs from April 28 - May 21, 2023 at The Revival, 1160 E 55th Street in Hyde Park. Tickets for Fairview are general admission and start at $35. Visit to buy tickets.  

The Chicago premiere features ensemble members Carley Cornelius and Martasia K. Jones with Barbara Figgins, David Goodloe, Jada Jackson, Collin Quinn Rice, Kandice Robins and Max Stewart.  

At the Frasier household, preparations for Grandma’s birthday party are underway. Beverly is holding on to her sanity by a thread to make sure this party is perfect, but her sister can’t be bothered to help, her husband doesn’t seem to listen, her brother is MIA, her daughter is a teenager, and maybe nothing is what it seems in the first place. Fairview is a searing examination of families, drama, family dramas, and the insidiousness of white supremacy. 

“Our ensemble is eager to share this Chicago Premiere at The Revival in Hyde Park. Fairview is a stirring family comedy that tackles complicated issues and asks big questions about identity, race, stereotypes, ownership, and the all-too-common white gaze that is applied to the lives, culture, and stories of BIPoC communities,” said Artistic Director Tyrone Phillips. “I am thrilled to direct this masterpiece by Jackie Sibblies Drury with an incredible team of artists on and off the stage who have assembled to create a theatrical experience that our audiences will not soon forget.”  

The production team for Fairview includes Tiffany Renee Johnson (Assistant Director), Sydney Lynne Thomas (Scenic Design), Alexandria Richardson (Costume Design), Brenden Marble and Razor Wintercastle (Lighting Design), Willow James (Sound Design), Mariah Bennett (Props Design), Jyreika Guest (Intimacy & Fight Choreography), Kenya Hall (Dramaturg), Ellen Willett (Production Manager), Julie Jachym (Stage Manager), Octavio Montes De Oca (Assistant Stage Managers), Evan Sposato (Technical Director), Louis Lothan (Master Electrician), ensemble member Alexandra Oparka (Assistant Producer), and AJ Links (Casting).

Location: The Revival, 1160 E 55th Street in Hyde Park 

Previews: Friday, April 28 at 7:30pm; Saturday, April 29 at 3:00pm and 7:30pm;  

Sunday, April 30 at 3:00pm  

Regular run: May 5 - 21, 2023 

Ticket prices: $35 

Box Office: Tickets are available online at Tickets will also be available to purchase in person at The Revival on the day of the performance.  



Definition Theatre is a culturally diverse theater dedicated to telling language-driven, relationship-oriented, socially relevant stories about and created with underrepresented communities in Chicago. Our ensemble is a collective of artists, art administrators, educators, and designers who prioritize working towards and representing a more equitable theatre industry.  

Definition has built its reputation on work that reflects its unique voice. It shared the words of Academy Award- Winner Tarell Alvin McCraney in The Brothers Size; it grooved with Amiri Baraka’s whirlwind story of a chance meeting on a train in Dutchman. In partnership with, The New Colony staged the world premiere of Byhalia, Mississippi, which starred Academy Award nominee ensemble member Kiki Layne. In association with the Goodman Theatre, Definition staged the Chicago premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon, a subversive take on race in America that captivated audiences. Definition sent us all to the moon with ensemble member James Ijames’s Moon Man Walk, explored the challenges of America’s public-school system through Nilaja Sun’s No Child… and highlighted the first- generation experience in the world premiere of Sam Kebede’s ETHIOPIANAMERICA. The company returned to the stage and inspected white privilege, racial politics and the fine line between appropriation and opportunity in ensemble member James Ijames’s WHITE. This Winter, they examined the dark and sweet spots of Black American identity with the choreopoem, ALAIYO.  

Ensemble members include: Adia Alli, Owais Ahmed, Ariel Beller, Jared Bellot, Carley Cornelius, Ari Craven, Danielle Davis, Martasia Jones, Slick Jorgensen, Yeaji Kim, Kristy Hall, James Ijames, Kiki Layne, Kelson Michael McAuliffe, Victor Musoni, Neel McNeill, Sophiyaa Nayar, Karyn Oates, Alexandra Oparka, Julian Parker, Maya Vinice Prentiss Tyrone Phillips, Ireon Roach, Jacqueline Rosas, Christopher Sheard, and Dujon Smith. Artistic Advisory Board members include: director May Adrales, Steppenwolf ensemble member Alana Arenas, actress Shannon Cochran, Erica Daniels, actor Brandon Dirden, actor Jason Dirden, director Pam Mackinnon, Equity Quotient CEO Keryl McCord, professor JW Morrissette, director Ron OJ Parson, professor/lighting designer Kathy Perkins, Tony Award-winning actress and stage director Phylicia Rashad, and Goodman Theatre director in residence Chuck Smith. Tyrone Phillips is the Artistic Director and Neel McNeill is the Executive Director. For additional information, visit and @definitiontheatre on Facebook and Instagram #stayinit