Category Archives: Duck for President

Duck for President COOKIES (and other awesome new stuff)!

Lifeline’s concession stand is not just candy bars and peanuts anymore!  Now serving baked goods from  Lovely, Too Bakery on Bryn Mawr,  Duck for President cookies are only one of our scrumptious new offerings!  See the hard-working Lifeline staff below, pressed into service to taste-test the products.  Verdict:  Delicious!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic 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

Telling stories

Both Paul & Katie touch on the nature of artistic ensembles in their recent blog posts, something I’ve been pondering myself lately. I consider the Lifeline ensemble truly fortunate, since the primary function of the group is to choose and develop the material we produce, not merely just to direct/design/act in it. We aren’t stuck having a season dictated to us by an outside person – we work together to uncover the passion projects we want to work on. We don’t take a “back seat” role in productions we aren’t directing/designing/acting in – we play a vital part in the development process, from early discussion through draft readings, rehearsal runs, and the preview process.

As an ensemble member at Lifeline, I feel a sense of pride and ownership in every show we produce, since my voice and ideas were heard by the production team at every step along the way. This is equally true for shows like The Picture of Dorian Gray (which I pitched to the group and wrote the adaptation for) as for shows like Mariette in Ecstasy or Duck for President, which I “only” experienced as an audience member. And while some seasons go by when I may not be cast in roles I would have liked to play, or when the other commitments of life preclude me from participating as much as I’d like in the development of a show or two, still those shows are as important to me as the ones I personally submitted for the ensemble’s consideration. As is sharing in the growth and development of each of my fellow ensemble artists – and the theatre as an institution.


Sean Sinitski, Nick Vidal & Paul S. Holmquist in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Photo by Lindsay Schlesser.

The Lifeline ensemble exists to tell stories. Sometimes, as a member of the ensemble, I’ll act in those stories. Sometimes I’ll write them. Once in a while, I may even direct them (as with the upcoming Treasure Island – gulp). But most of the time my job is to encourage, question, challenge, support, and nurture my fellow ensemble members as we work together to creatively share the stories that excite us, with the audience that means so much to us.

Robert Kauzlaric

Closing three shows, opening two…

Good Lordypants. Closing three shows at once (Duck for Prez, Dorian Gray, Zorro at TBC) is totally like moving. You know that part of the move where everything you own is in chaos at your feet and you can’t find anything because you started to pack all organized but in the end everything was thrown into boxes you despairingly labeled “miscellaneous?” That’s where we’re at right now.

Meantime, Snowflake Tim and Flight of the Dodo are racing to the finish. Our experiment of running two kids shows over the holidays in tandem is about to launch. As the tech team sprints out of the basement with lumber and hangs lights from the grid, our intrepid production manager, Cortney Hurley, tells me that if any part of this enterprise takes longer than expected, the whole thing comes apart at the seams! It adds a nice thrill to the process.

Snowflake Tim rehearsals are a total ball. Diego Colon stars as Snowflake Tim and has a real gift for the improvisational audience interaction that is central to this play. Diego was a caballero/soldier in Zorro for the past 6 months and was also the alternate Duck in Duck for President. (Yes, that show was so darn popular we had to have two casts to cover the gazillion performances.) The remaining two Snowflake cast members are: Ezekiel Sulkes (who recently starred as “the Dirty Cowboy” in Lifeline’s adaptation of the book by the same name. One of Zeke’s several characters in Snowflake Tim is a Ninja who’s afraid to take a bath. Zeke points out that he is now two-for-two at Lifeline in playing characters who are stinky because they haven’t bathed and expects that our young audiences will remember him as the guy who smells bad. He’s also hilarious. Sarah Beckette is the third and last Snowflake Tim cast member. She is new to Lifeline. I saw her at a general audition a year ago and was totally smitten and have been trying to figure out when we could bring her in ever since. We are thrilled to have bagged her for this show.

So I’m totally jealous that Paul Holmquist apparently knows how to run a digital camera. Or else he has minions to shoot it for him. One way or another, he has a picture of the Flight of the Dodo flying machine with his blog entry. My blog entries want pictures too. I will either be learning to run a digital camera or finding a minion before my next post.

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Welcome!

Look at us!  We’re getting all bloggy!  Can you even believe it?   Welcome — and thank you for visiting our blog.  As I type, I’m humming along with the Duck for President curtain call reprise that’s floating up from the stage below.   I hear the school buses idling out front and hope we can get this group of kids out before the buses pull up to drop off the next load.  (I’m glad Erica‘s downstairs to traffic cop the whole circus.  She used to be a cheerleader, so she’s able to rally the armies of children and get them to do whatever she wants.)  In the office next door — okay, it’s not next door, we’re basically all piled in a room together — but in her own little corner, our education director, Frances, is huddled with one of our teaching artists strategizing about about classroom activities at a neighborhood elementary school, while Angelo is between us, in his little corner, on the phone about our upcoming benefit.  Just outside the office in the rehearsal room, the strange wrestling sounds I keep hearing have turned out to be our tech director, Ian, who is constructing a giant flying machine.  Yes, it’s true.  There will be a giant flying machine featured in our next kids’ show, The Flight of the Dodo.  That may have been top secret.  But this is the place to get the top secret poop.  Oops.  More secrets.  There’s poop in the show too.

Dang, it’s been a busy fall.  In addition to the gazillion Duck for President performances, The Picture of Dorian Gray was a boffo hit that extended.   Plus we moved last summer’s hit, The Mark of Zorro, to Theatre Building Chicago on Belmont Avenue for a fall run there.  And don’t get me started with the birthday parties and special events and off-school workshop days.   But finally we wind down for a brief spell.   Our next MainStage show, Mariette in Ecstasy, doesn’t open until February.  Dorian closed on Sunday — sold out thru the very last show.  Zorro will close this coming Sunday (after 93 performances) and then we’ll bust it up and drag all the salvageable pieces back to Lifeline. Ah, it will be good to be home under one roof rather than scattered all across town.

So welcome to our blog!  I hope you will visit us often and we will keep you up to date on our backstage antics, dilemmas and general hilarity.  Right now, I have to go to my Snowflake Tim rehearsal.  Oh criminy.  That reminds me.  Flight of the Dodo is NOT our next kids’ show.  It’s Snowflake Tim’s Big Holiday Adventure.  That’s a title we came up with a few years ago when we decided we needed a non-denominational holiday kids show.  And who would think that plan would have worked out?  But Christina took that title written on a cocktail napkin and wrote the play and it is GREAT, cuz she’s a genius.  It’s funny, heartwarming, lots of audience participation.  So we bring it back every couple years over the holidays.   So — Snowflake Tim will open first and then Dodo a week later and then they’ll be in rep.  Yes, in rep.  Back-to-back shows right after each other on our little stage with different sets and different casts and not much time in between…  What the heck.  Who made this schedule?  Does no one proofread the calendar?  What were we thinking? I mean — What a bold new experiment!  And with the team we’ve got over here and the production teams on these shows, I have high hopes we’ll be able to work miracles, as usual.

Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how it works out for us . . .

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director