Category Archives: Treasure Island


Welcome to new ensemble members, Hainsworth and Walsh!

We are joyful and proud to announce our newest ensemble members: Chris Hainsworth and Christopher Walsh. You’ve seen them both a number of times at Lifeline (most recently Treasure Island and Neverwhere!

Chris Hainsworth as Isreal Hands in Treasure Island

Christopher Walsh as Mr. Vandemar in Neverwhere

Fun fact: Chris Hainsworth is engaged to ensemble member Katie McLean and they will marry in August. Congrats to Katie and Chris! A Lifeline wedding!

Katie and Chris in Neverwhere

Neverwhere is dust and rubble

It always breaks our heart a little when we have to rip apart a show we loved. Ian and Barney took a day to destroy what it had taken them weeks to build. If you pass by Lifeline in the next couple days, you’ll see a dumpster in our driveway being filled with the unsalvageable scenic elements, chopped up into little bits.

The Neverwhere set, before strike.

Barney and Ian, mid-strike.

We are hurrying to clear the way for Fillet of Solo, next up at Lifeline. And, yow! Right on its heels is Season 2010-11: Wuthering Heights began rehearsal this week. Click, Clack, Moo is cast. Mr. Hatch auditions next week while we also have workshop rehearsals for a project in development across town. We have so much going on we are bursting out of our building! This is how crowded we are: below is a recent rehearsal for Fillet of Solo….in our basement laundry room!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

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

Treasure Island

In November 2007, Greasy Joan & Co. invited playwrights to participate in their Contemporary Classics Series. They were looking for “new adaptations of classic plays or stories.” I had always wanted to adapt Treasure Island for the stage. It’s my second favorite novel ever, next to Cat’s Cradle. (Third favorite novel ever: The Cider House Rules) And it’s certainly a “classic story.” I had proposed Treasure Island, informally, at Lifeline Theatre years earlier, but more recently, I had decided to hold off on adapting it because I thought the story was too similar to Johnny Tremain (my latest adaptation at Lifeline.)

At any rate, I re-read Treasure Island late 2007. I hadn’t read it since my roommate and I read it out loud to each other, one chapter a night, right out of college. I wrote a proposal for the adaptation, and submitted it to Greasy Joan along with a résumé and a writing sample. But I got so excited re-reading it that in the next ten days I cranked out a first draft. Ten days is “cranking” for me. Normally I do four pages a day (the easy parts first, of course), which means a first draft will take about a month. But I never heard back from Greasy Joan. So there my draft sat, all alone in its own little folder on my computer’s desk top…

…until the next June when I submitted it to Remy Bumppo Theatre, which was accepting adaptations for a series of readings. I did hear back from Remy Bumppo. They weren’t interested, and I can’t blame them. That cranked out first draft was embarrassingly rough, and long, and repetitive, and all the things that cranked out first drafts are. Not all theaters are as patient with new works as Lifeline. The script has come a very long way through the Lifeline process. All the usual things happened: characters were cut/added/consolidated, scenes were cut/added/consolidated/re-ordered, lines were cut/added/trimmed/changed/given to other characters, and the story-telling was focused while keeping the story in tact and very faithful to the novel. I even threw in a little “heart.” OK, whatever… Coolio… I also managed to sneak in a few gags just for me.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the entire production crew and designers of the show (set & props, costumes, lights, sound, dialects, fights—hope I didn’t forget anyone) for allowing me to tell this story in the complicated way that I had imagined telling it—with so many characters and locations, and multiple narrators and flashbacks, and so forth. And in particular, I need to thank director Rob Kauzlaric for seeing the big picture, giving shape to my cranked out mess, and his commitment to keeping the “edge” on this story.

I also wish to thank the talented, veteran cast of Treasure Island for hanging with all the script changes—huge, big, small, tiny, and micro—but for also letting me know when a line or a scene was not quite right. I depended a great deal on their instincts. Finally, I thank the Lifeline artistic ensemble for providing all the “outside eyes” which helped to trim the fat from scenes and make the story-telling clear.

After every read-through and every rehearsal, the draft got tighter and clearer. But as great as the Lifeline process is for tightening up a draft, it’s still a brutal process because of limited rehearsal time and limited resources. As an adapter, you’re lucky to get 50% of what you originally ask for. (So make sure your draft asks for lots of stuff early, and then pick your battles later on.) Here are a couple of my favorite lines from the novel that made the Lifeline adaptation, pretty much word for word:

For thirty years I’ve sailed the seas, and seen good and bad, better and worse, fair weather and foul, provisions running out, knives going in and out, and what not. Well, now I tell you, I never seen good come o’ goodness yet. Him as strikes first is my fancy; dead men don’t bite; them’s my views—amen, so be it.

Avast, there! Who are you, Tom Morgan? Maybe you thought you was cap’n here, perhaps. By the powers, but I’ll teach you better! Cross me, and you’ll go where many a good man’s gone before you, first and last, these thirty year back—some to the yard-arm, shiver my timbers! and some by the board, and all to feed the fishes. There’s never a man looked me between the eyes and seen a good day a’terwards, Tom Morgan, you may lay to that.

And here are a couple of my favorite lines from the novel that did not make the Lifeline adaptation:

Ah, she’s a handsome craft, she is; but you can’t touch pitch and not be mucked, lad, you may lay to that.

Well, who crossed me? Who forced my hand, and began this dance? Ah, it’s a fine dance—I’m with you there—and looks mighty like a horn-pipe in a rope’s end at Execution Dock by London town, it does. But who done it? Why, it was Job Anderson, and Israel Hands, and you, George Merry! And you’re the last above board to that same meddling crew; and you have the Davy Jones’s insolence to up and stand for cap’n over me—you, that sank the lot of us! By the powers! but this tops the stiffest yarn to nothing.

John Hildreth

Sneak Peek pics

Today, we post some pics that Katie snapped at the subscriber-only Treasure Island Sneak Peek event on Sunday. We always look forward to these Sneak Peeks as a great opportunity to connect with our subscribers and share a little bit of our artistic process (and all of our excitement) early in the rehearsal period for each new MainStage production.

Branimira Ivanova presents her costume sketches and Blind Pew’s leather cowl.

Chris Hainsworth and John Ferrick grapple at close quarters during an early look at the Isreal Hands/Dirk O’Brien knife fight.

Geoff Coates turns the action around to show the audience all the behind-the-scenes stage combat tricks used in Chris and John’s fight.

Rob Kauzlaric
Marketing Director

August Updates

New Driveway! (And a new adventure for our former gates…)
Yesterday’s activities at Lifeline were underscored by a jackhammer rhythm and a basso sledgehamer beat. Our flaking, scaling, crumbling driveway is being replaced!

Removing the old concrete

The first and most daunting job was prying out a deeply embedded steel post that protruded out of the center of our driveway. Back when we had working gates, this protrusion functioned as a gate catch at the center of the drive. But our gates have long since ceased to function and with the removal of the post, we’ll no longer have to put a big orange cone over the hazard every time we have company.

Once the new concrete is poured today, we’re going to be smooth and beautiful and welcoming!

And what’s to become of our cute former gates? Never fear, they will have future life! The sculptor next door, Andy DeLaRosa (of B1E Gallery) has offered them a home. They will be soon decorating Andy’s sculpture garden. Be sure to check it out when you next visit us!

Drama Camp — full of fun and hilarity
Lifeline’s Summer Drama Camp for 7-12 year olds, led by Jasmin and Eddie, had its final performance on Saturday, July 25th. The final showcase featured a drum circle with drums the students made, demonstrations of games, improvisations and several short plays that the students had written themselves. A good time was had by all! Our Education Director, Lea, is already in full planning mode for next season’s off-school workshops and camp offerings!

Sneak Peek for Treasure Island, August 9th
Our sneak peeks are among my favorite Lifeline events and this one was particularly fun. “Jolly Jolly Grog” (rum punch named after one of the sea shanties in the show) was served along with the usual wine and cheese and treats. Subscribers and donors mingled with Lifeline artists, staff and board. Brani showed her renderings, costumes were modeled and blood packs were discussed. Chris and John demonstrated a knife fight from the show and then broke it into slow-mo pieces so Geoff could explain the techniques and deceptions they use to fake us out. Alan‘s set model was on display and we got to see the firing of one of the antique pistols that he and Geoff have rigged up to fake/shoot. As always, we took folks on tours around the facility so people get to see our hidden nooks and crannies. It is great fun to get to meet our donors and subscribers and express our thanks to them with these parties!

The Farm Animals are back!
Shole and George and Jim are working on Dooby Dooby Moo, another tale from the popular series by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. This time the farm gets involved in a talent show! We’re bringing back TWO former Farmer Browns to share the role. Craig Thompson, who originated the role in Click Clack Moo will perform on weekends and Ben Kirberger, who was one of the Farmer Browns in Duck for President, will perform the weekday performances. Amanda Link (formerly Hen in Duck for Prez) is back to play Ewe. Elizabeth Dowling (Pig in Giggle Giggle Quack) is back to play Pig. Heather Currie (Pig in Duck for Prez) is back to play Cow, and we welcome Nathaniel Neimi as our brand new Duck. Whew! That’s a lot of animals (and former animals). We’ve collected quite a barnyard as we move into producing our 4th book in this popular series. As usual, Doreen and Betsy and their families will fly in from NY to see the show — this time for opening (October 18)! Yay!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Treasure Island, here we come

We’re just hours away from beginning the rehearsal process for Treasure Island and I wanted to take a moment to share my excitement about the all-star team we have in place for this project.

John Hildreth (adaptor of Johnny Tremain, Cat’s Cradle, The Shadow, Around the World in 80 Days, etc) has created our thrilling script; Alan Donahue (designer of Mariette in Ecstasy, The Mark of Zorro, and many, many more) is on scenic/projections/props; Kevin Gawley (designer of Island of Dr. Moreau, Dorian Gray, etc.) is on lights; Branimira Ivanova (designer of Mariette in Ecstasy, Dorian Gray, etc.) is on costumes; and Andy Hansen (Dorian Gray) is on sound. Fights will be by Geoff Coates (The Mark of Zorro, Talisman Ring) and I’ll be wrangling it all together with the aid of the intrepid Erica Foster, who’s back as stage manager (The Mark of Zorro, The Killer Angels, Around the World in 80 Days, etc).

The killer cast features such long-time familiar faces as ensemble member Patrick Blashill (as Dr. Livesey), John Ferrick (as Squire Trelawney), and Robert McLean (as Captain Smollett); some recently-familiar faces like Sean Sinitski (as Long John Silver), Christopher Walsh (as Billy Bones), Chris Hainsworth (as Isreal Hands), and Ezekiel Sulkes (as Ben Gunn); plus some folks brand new to Lifeline: Warren Weber (as Jim Hawkins), Matt Engle (as Black Dog), and C. Sean Piereman (as Job Anderson).

It’s an amazing team and I’m so fortunate to have all of them on board!

Fight and dialect rehearsals start tomorrow. Staging begins next week. I’ll do my best to check back in with some updates from time to time. ‘Til then…

See you on the island~
Robert Kauzlaric

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


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