Category Archives: Busman’s Honeymoon

Jeff nominations & the Streetscape

Glenwood Avenue Arts District dominates the Non-Equity Jeff nominations!

Not only did Lifeline Theatre receive 13 Jeff nominations this year (the most of any company), but near-neighbors BoHo and Theo Ubique received 11 apiece, making us the three companies who received the most nods. BoHo and Theo Ubique are both on Glenwood Avenue, just a block north of us. This is the 4th year in a row that Rogers Park companies have dominated the Non-Equity Jeff nominations. Once again, our block rocks.

Congrats to Lifeline Theatre’s nominees and to the teams of all three shows:

Busman’s Honeymoon (4 nominations)

  • Production (whole team!)
  • Adaptation (Frances Limoncelli)
  • Supporting Actor (Phil Timberlake)
  • Artistic Specialization (Elise Kauzlaric, dialects)

Treasure Island (6 nominations)

  • Fights (Geoff Coates)
  • Scenic Design (Alan Donahue)
  • Light Design (Kevin Gawley)
  • Sound Design (Andrew Hansen)
  • Original Incidental Music (Andrew Hansen)
  • Costume Design (Branimira Ivanova)

Mrs. Caliban (3 nominations)

  • Adaptation (Frances Limoncelli)
  • Sound Design (Joshua Horvath)
  • Actress in a Leading Role (Brenda Barrie)

Neighborhood news… the streetscape has started!

Fasten your seat belts. And plan to arrive early. Though the streets don’t close during this process, we do temporarily lose parking on the stretch that’s being worked on (currently the west side of Glenwood, north of Morse). Street parking is even more competitive as a result. Remember our free shuttle and the designated parking lot at Ravenswood and Morse!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Building & Busman’s

Building update
The expert property-condition-assessment guy said our fine old building is in GREAT SHAPE!! Oh, we need a new roof and some tuck pointing — but it’s not urgent yet so we can save up for that!  It was so gratifying that he was wowed by how sturdy we are. We’re perfect for a green roof. Or a whole rooftop garden. Yes — my fantasy of the rooftop garden and cocktail lounge lives!!! We just need someone who wants to invest in such a project! (And did I mention the view?!?)

Busman’s marathon coming to a close on July 26
After a 13-week run, Busman’s Honeymoon is finally coming to a close. The cast has been doing 5 shows a week (2 of them on Saturday) and I’m glad they’ll soon be getting a well-deserved rest. Everyone except Rob Kauzlaric, Chris Walsh & Chris Hainsworth, who begin rehearsals for Treasure Island on July 27. Yes, that is one day after the close of Busman’s. No rest for the wicked. Or for pirates…

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Updates

Season auditions
We just had our general auditions for the year and – dang!  There is so much sparkly talent in this city. And it just kills me how many people totally rock and we don’t have a darn thing in this particular season that fits them.  Makes me want to do more plays. Except that would probably kill us. But we had our directors and writers and composers from our various shows in 09-10 there to see (the three days of) auditions and we were wowed by the people who auditioned.

More states and fresh blood in Busman!
Okay, Erica says it’s too early to post another map but I must report that we’re up to 22 states! We’ve added South Dakota and Connecticut and Rhode Island!   We’ve got 5 weeks to go so I’m hoping we add to the tally!  We’re welcoming some new folks into the cast for the extension.   Jon Stutzman, Chris Hainsworth and Jean Vanier will be joining us and we’re excited to have ’em.  Jean is a newcomer to Lifeline.  Jon was in Rikki Tikki Tavi and The Island of Dr. Moreau.  Chris was in Talking It Over and will be in Treasure Island this fall.

Our very first Property Condition Assessment
Constructed as a ComEd substation in 1933, Lifeline is built like a bomb shelter. (Our city building inspector recommends we all meet here in case of disaster.) But it’s also freakin’ old. We’re getting an expert guy over here next week to go over our building with a fine tooth comb. His report will tell us of “existing deficiencies, deferred maintenance, repair cost estimates and a reserve table of the expected useful life of building components.” I expect it to be sobering. But at least we’ll know. And it’s better to know….isn’t it?

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Busman’s Extension and more!

Woohoo!  Busman’s Honeymoon is a runaway train — extended thru July 26!
This is how many fans Dorothy L. Sayers has:   Erica posted a map in the box office and her team is coloring in all the locations we’ve had tickets purchased from — which now totals 19 states, plus Ontario — and, we’ve gone international!  Arrows off the map point to audience members traveling in from Paris, Rome and Madrid!    So seriously — we’re extended, but call ahead!  We are so totally packed — even those added Thursdays are filling up fast.  This is the fourth time Frances has adapted a Dorothy L. Sayers novel for stage at Lifeline and each one is more successful than the last.  The show is delightfully staged by Paul and features numerous Lifeline ensemble members as well (Peter, Jenifer, Phil, Jim and Rob).

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle rocked – and it’s coming back for GAAF!
Recently closing, our final KidSeries show this season was also a sold-out hit.  If you missed Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (or if you want to see it again), you have another chance!   We will perform a stripped down version of the show at Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest, right in front of Lifeline!  Showtimes at 2pm on both Saturday and Sunday August 22-23.    You can check out all the entertainment for this year, along with video from past Fests at www.GlenwoodAve.org.

Non-Equity Jeff Awards
It was a fun party on Monday night and the evening concluded at 9:50 pm, which has to be a new record.  Which meant we all had to repair to a nearby bar.  Lifeline came home with 4 awards:
  • Scenic design: Alan, Mariette in Ecstasy
  • Artistic Specialization: Geoff Coates, fight choreography, The Mark of Zorro
  • Adaptation: Katie, The Mark of Zorro
  • Sound design: Toy, The Mark of Zorro

A gazillion Jeff nominations!
Lifeline Theatre received 14 non-equity Jeff nominations this season, the most of any company.  (And y’know who came in second?  Our nearest neighbor — Theo Ubique.  Oh yeah.  The Glenwood Avenue Art District continues to take the world by storm!)  In addition to the wins mentioned above, congratulations are also due for these nominations:
  • Adapter: Rob for Dorian Gray, Christina for Mariette
  • Director: Elise for Mariette
  • Lead actress: Brenda Barrie for Mariette
  • Lead actor: James Elly for Zorro
  • Supporting actor: Paul for Dorian Gray
  • Ensemble: Mariette
  • Sound: Tim for Mariette
  • Production: Zorro and Mariette
More kudos for ensemble away from home!
In addition to the nominations they received for work at Lifeline, ensemble members Elise (actress, On the Shore of the Wide World) and Paul (director, The Robber Bridegroom)  are nominated for shows they did with our friends at Griffin Theatre!   Congrats to all!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Best. Benefit. EVER!

Lifeline’s annual benefit was held on Thursday, April 16, in the newly refurbished, totally sparkly, mosaic-filled dome room of Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center.  Elegant and totally grown up.

To go with our mystery theme (we’re gearing up for Busman’s Honeymoon at Lifeline), Christina adapted a Dorothy L. Sayers short story, The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face into a short play and hotshot, super-best-selling Chicago-based mystery writers Sean Chercover, Julie Hyzy and Sara Paretsky each provided totally different and HILARIOUS endings to the piece and took questions from the crowd after.

Many thanks to those that made this happen — despite most of them being up to their eyebrows in Busman’s rehearsal:  Frances directed the play-let and Peter, Paul, Jenifer, Jim, Shole, Phil, Katie, Rob and Elise played the multiple villains, victims and investigators. Also thanks to our rockin’ board and benefit committee!  Woohoo!

Behind the scenes of the Best Benefit Ever:
Outtakes (if only we’d had video documentation) include:  1) not being able to find the prop gun that was packed for the show, realizing it had been left in the trunk of an already valet-parked car and trying to get it back in time for the performance without being arrested for illegal possession of a wicked looking firearm (in reality just a starter pistol).  2) me and Allison going out for Subway to feed the set-up crew at lunchtime and me falling down an entire marble staircase at the Cultural Center but not hurting myself at all.  3) not being able to fit all our stuff back in the van at the end of the evening and trying to give the stuff that wouldn’t fit to the dock workers at the Cultural Center:  “Okay, please take the beer — no, I’m sorry, the vodka we can return for store credit, we have to fit that in somehow.   You can have the wine though.   What? You don’t like wine?  Okay, it’s just the beer then — and could you please take this cheesecake?”  4) Erica, Allison and me sitting on the floor at Lifeline with a bottle of champagne amidst the stack of boxes toasting the event’s success.

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Au revior, Lord Peter

I’m sitting in the darkened theatre. Voices of designers murmur around me. In the black I can see a few blue-tinted faces as they stare intently into their laptops, almost unblinking, their eyes flicking from screen to stage, screen to stage. In front of me I can make out the skeleton outline of our set, waiting to be brought to life with light, sound and actors. We are about to start technical rehearsals for Busman’s Honeymoon.


As I sit here in the dark, I’m grateful for the efforts of so many people who are working to make my play a reality, and I can’t wait to see the result! On the other hand, this part of the process always marks the end of my participation. Although the actors will be playing these roles for weeks, perhaps months, my job is almost done, and I can’t help but indulge in a little bit of the sadness of letting go. The feeling is especially poignant for me this time, because I’m also saying goodbye to Lord Peter Wimsey, my hard-to-tame hero and muse over 9 years and 4 adaptations; borrowed, of course, from Dorothy L. Sayers.

I may adapt other Sayers books someday, and Lifeline might remount the 4 we’ve already done from time to time, so Sayers fans, don’t despair! However, I’ve spent almost a decade on Sayers, and I feel an inner pull to try something new. I’m excited to begin work on my next adaptation, Mrs. Caliban; a post-modern American fantasy which should completely cure me of my desire for change (and, who knows, may send me running back to Sayers for comfort sooner than I expect).

So, since it’s very possible that I’m saying goodbye for good to Lord Peter, I am feeling nostalgic about him and his lady love, Harriet. How blessed I’ve been to have ensemble members Peter Greenberg and Jenifer Tyler play them over the entire series! I wonder if Jen and Peter will experience their own nostalgia when Busman’s closes. (Perhaps they’ll blog about it…) I know they share my gratitude for the passionate Sayers fans who have supported us over the years. Their devotion and appreciation have made this experience immensely gratifying, and have helped make the series a financial success for Lifeline. Hurray! There’s been so much to celebrate!

I have hope that the plays will be produced elsewhere (check back here for news about a Canadian Strong Poison coming this fall), but at least for now, my love affair with Lord Peter is at an end. I’ll soon be reaching for my thumbed and dog-eared Sayers paperbacks to read with the affection one has for old love letters, to remind myself that I once had a dashing leading man who did my bidding (on the page) and who gave me much joy.

Au revoir, Lord Peter, and thank you.

Frances Limoncelli

An Ensemble Prepares

There has been some discussion in the blogosphere of late on the role of an acting ensemble, lots of debate on that mysterious question of what ensemble members are entitled to expect. From Our perspective, I think we naturally look at each other first as a group of artists we respect, that we want to support, collaborate with, and help to develop each other’s skills.

In early discussions with Frances Limoncelli on Busman’s Honeymoon, she made it clear to me that she wished for the Lifeline ensemble to be as integrated as possible into the production. This presented an exciting opportunity: Peter Greenberg and Jenifer Tyler would naturally resume their roles as Lord Peter and Harriet Vane (now Lady Peter Wimsey!), to the joy of our fans of the Sayer’s series of plays adapted by Frances and presented at Lifeline over the years (Whose Body? in 2002, Strong Poison in 2004, and Gaudy Night in 2006). The remaining cast of characters offered some choice roles to our ensemble of actors and I was determined to find ways to invite them in where I could. I was not able to find a place for everyone interested in the show, but I was able to tap Jim Grote, Rob Kauzlaric and Phil Timberlake for the production.

We’ve been rehearsing for several weeks now and having a team of easy collaborators like us around has been a challenging and productive process. Challenging due to the fact that I am one of the newer kids on the block (I feel like I only just joined the collective, though I’ve been official for two and a half years now), and having a constantly open and collaborative process means continual honest evaluation and discussion of the work – the piece as a whole and the individual experiences/processes of each and every one of the actors. Productive for the same reasons, however. The non-ensemble cast (all people I’ve had the good fortune to work with before) has taken on the collaborative spirit of the rest of us and there is a game and open atmosphere for discussion and problem-solving really being developed. As we prepare to move downstairs from the rehearsal room to the set, we’re in a great place to find our maneuvers in the new geography together. And that collaboration, part of the core spirit of our company, will usher us into getting ready for tech.

Paul S. Holmquist