Category Archives: General Thoughts

The Summer of Love!!

Lifeline recently bid sad adieu to the phenomenal intern class of Summer 2014:


Left to right: Julianna Donaher (directing major at DePaul), Browyn Sherman (recent graduate from Loyola), Claudia Roy (acting major, Columbia), Martin Hanna (acting major ISU), Emily Wills (acting major, Northwestern), and Bo Johnson (Comedy Writing & Performance major, Columbia College)

This group excelled in can-do attitude and enthusiasm. Three cheers for Martin, who is on his way to spend a year at Arts University College at Bournemouth, and Browyn, who has now graduated from Loyola and assistant directed Jane Eyre. Look for Bo, Emily and Browyn — you will see them at Lifeline this fall working front of house and driving the shuttle! We hope the rest of intern class summer 2014 will also be back at Lifeline soon! And we cheer them on as they finish their college degrees!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Lifeline Celebrates the Holidays!

Lifeline’s annual holiday party was so romantically lit that my photos all look like they were taken underwater and lit by jelly fish. Every year we invite all cast and crew, board, staff, ensemble and interns for the season, and this year about 75 Lifeline peeps gathered on December 8th for the party. We had pizza from JB Alberto’s and other snacks and desserts delivered by Lifeline subscriber and baker extraordinaire Char Uney, who provides sweet treats for many a Lifeline event. And we drank a toast to our good friend and neighbor Neil Lifton, the owner of Duke’s bar who left this world about this time last year. (When the bar closed, Neil’s wife Mary donated some of the bar stock to Lifeline so we were able to toast our departed friend in style.)

Because Santa’s elves were exceptionally slammed this year and fell behind on the prep work, there was no cookie decorating contest this year. But Lea Pinsky found kits for gingerbread villages at the store so we were not without activity for the ever-crafty Lifeline visiting artists!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Our Block Rocks: Neighborhood News!

The Rogers Park Parents group had a terrific Halloween celebration on Glenwood Avenue this year: crafts, games, candy — and a magician! The event is usually in Jarvis Square but was on Glenwood Ave this year due to the construction at Jarvis.

We have a new neighbor on Glenwood Ave! Welcome to Armilla: A Voyage Home. Specializing in vintage, reclaimed treasures, small furnishings, lighting, art glass, pottery, finds, classics, curiosities, repurposed wares and eclectic furniture. Located at 6928 N. Glenwood between Morse and Farwell in our very own Glenwood Ave Arts District, Chicago.

Welcome also to MorseL, 1406 W Morse Ave: our newest restaurant in the Glenwood Avenue Arts District. Opened Halloween night at 5pm.  The menu has a lot of range — there’s a fried chicken special on Mondays and a mussels special on Fridays.   Here, Erica and Dorothy taste-test the Grapefruit apertif (delicious!).  Behind us are Colm and Tom, of the Glenwood-Sidecar-MorseL family.

And you know what else rocks?  Both Act One Pub and Morseland, as well as serving food late-night, are now open for lunch even on weekdays!  Add those to our previous yummy lunch-time options within a block:  Los PortalesNoon Hour Grill (Korean), Heartland Cafe, Far East Kitchen, Sub Brothers and Grill Inn and we have plentiful choice whenever we step out of our building!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director


The 2012 Non-Equity Jeff Award nominations were announced today, and…

Congratulations to ensemble member John Hildreth (New Adaptation), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Design), Richard Gilbert & David Bareford (Fight Design), and Joanna Iwanicka (Puppet, Mask & Video Design) for their Jeff nominations for Watership Down!

And to Christopher Kriz (Original Music and Sound Design) and Aly Renee Amidei (Costume Design) for their nominations for The Count of Monte Cristo!

And to ensemble member Kevin Gawley (Lighting Design) and Andrew Hansen (Original Music) for their nominations for Hunger!

Congrats as well to ensemble members Elizabeth Wislar for her Costume Design nominations for “A Little Night Music” and “The Women” and to Elise Kauzlaric for her Dialect Coaching nomination for “Punk Rock”

AND additional congrats to recent collaborators Joey deBettencourt for his Principal Actor nomination for “Punk Rock’ (Joey played Zorn in The 13 Clocks this season) and Scott Barsotti for his New Work nomination for “We Live Here” (Scott appeared in Watership Down last season and is adapting “The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost” for us next season).

Openings and Welcomes

How to Survive enters the home stretch!

Opening January 8, How to Survive a Fairy Tale was in tech over the holidays. While the rest of us were sipping eggnog, our valiant Fairy Tale team was figuring out how to make a book fly like a bird and other magical acts. This show is especially exciting to us because it’s a brand new play! Though you will certainly recognize the (fractured) fairy tales that our hero, Jack, finds himself in, this adventure is an original play by veteran adaptor Jim Grote. Jim has once again partnered with director Shole Milos. Shole and Jim have helmed many Lifeline kids’ shows, including the entire Click Clack Moo series, and they’ve brought many farm team regulars back together for this one! Alan Donahue has designed a sparkly delectable set, Jana Anderson will garb the players, Tony Ingram brings the magical sound effects, and Jordan Kardasz (new to the farm team but not to Lifeline) will light up the enchanted forest. Stage manager Ellen Willet will wrangle these folks, as well as the many farm yard regulars in the cast:

Nathaniel Niemi (a former Duck) is Jack, Heather Currie (has played numerous adorable farm animals at Lifeline) is Mom, Amanda Link (a former Ewe and other animals) is Little Red Riding Hood, Derek Czaplewski (a former Farmer Brown) is Dad, and Jacquis Neal (understudy for 13 Clocks) is the Big Bad Wolf. And understudies Blake McKay, Peter J. Hegel, and Jeffrey Rubin are all new to Lifeline!

Lifeline Theatre welcomes Alex Kyger (our first-ever Development Manager!)

Alex Kyger joined Lifeline’s staff on December 12th and will be responsible for managing the development strategy of Lifeline Theatre. We are super excited to have him on the team.

Alex moved to Chicago in 2006 from the island of Bahrain, quickly becoming embedded in Chicago’s theater community as a performer, administrator, and producer. Kyger received his BFA in Theater with honors from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, serving as Development Apprentice at Redmoon Theater while pursuing his studies. Upon graduating, Kyger joined Red Tape Theatre as a member of the artistic ensemble and the company’s first Director of Community Engagement, establishing meaningful relationships with locally-owned Lakeview businesses, securing season sponsorship, and generating a blueprint for the company’s first major giving campaign. Concurrently, Kyger served as the Executive Producer of the fledgling Les Enfants Terribles (LET) company, establishing LET as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and securing the ensemble a spot in the 2011 New York International Fringe Festival, where it received a Fringe NYC Excellence Award for Best Ensemble. Since April of 2011, Kyger has served as American Theater Company’s Development Associate. In his six-month tenure at ATC, Kyger cultivated increased grant support for the theater’s education and mainstage programming, launched a major giving campaign to raise funds for ATC’s Youth Ensemble, and secured sponsorships from numerous businesses in the North Center neighborhood.

Come by the office and meet Alex! (And marvel that we have managed to get one more desk into our cozy headquarters.)

Welcome to Roman Ehrlich
Lifeline welcomes Roman Ehrlich who is visiting Chicago from Germany and is volunteering at Lifeline Theatre for the winter. Roman is living in Chicago through mid-March, while working on several writing projects, including a novel that takes place, in part, in Chicago. Roman grew up in Bavaria, studied Creative Writing in Leipzig and Contemporary German Literature in Berlin, where he now lives.

At Lifeline, Roman assisted with Winter Drama Camp and participates in the Lifeline Storytelling Project, as well as assisting administrative, production, and front of house departments. We are thrilled and honored that Roman has chosen to volunteer his time at Lifeline, amid the many great organizations the city has to offer.

And we’ve asked him about castles in Bavaria, and they really do have them there.

Our block rocks!
Check our our neighborhood in the news! WGN-TV trucks were on Glenwood Avenue when we arrived last Friday morning. Evil Squirrel, our favorite comic book shop (just three doors north of Lifeline Theatre) was featured on WGN’s Around the Town!

Autumn goings-on

THE NEW YORK FREAKIN’ TIMES calls The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! “One of the best children’s shows of the year. Case closed.” Yowza!

This adaptation by ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric (from the book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith) first played at Lifeline in 2007 and has since had productions all over the nation. It is currently being performed by Atlantic Theater Company in NYC thru the end of October. Check out the article in The New York Times and another review too!

We are thrilled to welcome Joe Schermoly as Lifeline’s new Technical Director. Joe is a scenic designer who also works as a TD and we are super lucky to add him to the Lifeline team in both capacities. You can see Joe’s design work on our stage right now as the scenic and props designer (and the tech director) for The Count of Monte Cristo (now extended through November 13th). You can find out more about Joe by checking out his website.

We are also bidding a fond and sad adieu to our former tech director, Ian Zywica. Ian spent the last two years at Lifeline, tech directing our shows and also designing The Moonstone, The Last of the Dragons, and The Blue Shadow. We will miss him greatly and are hoping he will visit us often.

Ensemble member Paul Holmquist and his wife Kristina Fluty are new parents!

Gus Carlson Holmquist arrived on Monday September 12th. He is hale and hearty and beautiful.

In the midst of six shows this past weekend, Lifeline was honored to participate in Open House Chicago! It’s an event produced by the Chicago Architectural Foundation and this is the first time the Rogers Park neighborhood was on the explorer map! Shuttle buses brought people to the neighborhood and we were toured by over 200 people this past weekend (although most of them didn’t actually see the performance space because we had so many performances going on)! Our visitors were thrilled to see all our secret areas of the building and many vowed to return to see a show. It was great fun to introduce so many new people to our building.

THE 13 CLOCKS got a nice preview feature in the Sun-Times and a great review in Time Out Chicago Kids and is a visual treat. It features “mini-me” puppets and other theatrical devices that are brand new to our KidSeries. Amanda Delheimer Dimond directs for the first time at Lifeline and we are so happy and lucky to have her with us.

The 13 Clocks is a Rob Kauzlaric adaptation with both new faces and old favorites in both the cast and production teams: Scenic designer Chelsea Warren (Mr. Hatch, Mrs. Caliban, Flight of the Dodo, The Dirty Cowboy), sound designer Mikhail Fiksel (Neverwhere, Watership Down, The Last of the Dragons), props designer Katherine Greenleaf (Arnie the Doughnuti), costume designer Nathan Rohrer (assisted on Treasure Island), plus newbies Melanie Berner (puppet associate), Heather Gilbert (light designer), and Clare Roche (stage manager). The cast includes newbies Joey DeBettencourt, Mildred Marie Langford, and David Guiden, plus Lifeline returners Mike Ooi (Neverwhere, The Last of the Dragons, Zorro) and Jonathan Helvey (Zorro). Rockin’ understudies that are more than ready are: Ariel Begley, Jacquis Neal, and Morgan Maher — all new to Lifeline!

The City of Chicago has invited us to participate in its In the Works series! There will be a reading of Hunger on the Pritzker Pavillion Stage for three performances November 17-19. (Don’t worry, it’s not outside! The stage will be in it’s “indoor” configuration – audience sits on stage, actors backs are to the glassed in wall overlooking the park.) This includes a talkback with Chris Hainsworth (adapter), Rob Kauzlaric (director) and Elise Blackwell (novelist), whom they’re flying in for the weekend.

We hope to see you in the neighborhood soon!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Summer at Lifeline Theatre! (No longer the slow season of our year.)

The Lifeline Storytelling Project has begun! I’m a huge geek for the personal storytelling form and I’m a 17-year veteran of the solo-performance/storytelling scene. I am super-excited for this opportunity to encourage a new generation to explore this form. Fifteen Lifeline-affiliated artists are currently participating in solo writing/performing workshops with me, which began in April. And now the group has started performing every Monday at Duke’s Bar (right next door to Lifeline at 6920 N. Glenwood). We’ve had performances on June 13, 19 and 27. We’ll skip the 4th of July and resume on July 11th. And then we’re going to have a show every Monday at 7pm for a long, long time! Mark your calendars! Come buy a beer and watch some great (free!) stories.

Participating artists so far include: Diego Colón, Leah Cox, Bryan DiLoreto, Kate Donoghue, David Fink, Eduardo Garcia, Christina Hall, Tiffany Keane, Alex Kyger, Amanda Link, Charlotte Long, Darren Meyers, Joe Schermoly, Anne Sears and Jason Weinberg. Seven of these writers have been on stage one or more times at Duke’s already and the rest are hitting the stage very soon!

The next exciting thing is…

It’s a whole storytelling festival! This Festival had a long, proud history at Live Bait Theatre and when they closed their doors a couple years ago, artistic director Sharon Evans approached us about taking over hosting the event. She felt we’d be a great fit because we are also a new work theater. We thought so too! So we dipped our toes in the water last year with a small festival and this year we’ve gotten more ambitious. We’ll be producing at a total of three venues, all within a block of each other here in Rogers Park.

The Festival runs July 21-August 7. We’ll have two shows a night at 95-seat Lifeline Theatre, two shows a night at 30-seat Heartland Studio Theatre (just a few steps up Glenwood Avenue) and the final performance at the 300-seat Mayne Stage (around the corner on Morse Ave). We have three storytellers coming in from New York, one from Los Angeles and for our local acts, we have 16 of Chicago‘s finest storytellers representing the home team. (And a subset of our Lifeline Storytelling Project will do a show in this Festival too!)

Complete details on the festival are here.

The Fest is coming August 20-21 this year. This is the best Fest in the city. Seriously. Not that we’re biased or anything. 100 artists! 36 bands! Fantastic food (all from Rogers Park restaurants). Lifeline will be in the thick of it, as usual, with all our neighborhood partners that come together to make this thing happen! You can check out all the details about what’s going on where at

We have six interns this summer at Lifeline. We have an army! And that’s really good because we need one. We continue to enjoy the company (and benefit from the exertions) of Jason Weinberg and Kathleen Weiss, who have each been with us for this past season as well as this summer. Jason assists in almost every area of the theater and has worked on projects for our benefit, our archives, our day-to-day operations and our scene shop. Kathleen works specifically in the shop where she works with Ian, our TD and where she also recently assisted puppet designer Joanna Iwanicka on the masks for Watership Down.

And — new this summer — we have four more fabulous interns: Kate DonoghueMaggie HumphreyCharlotte Long,and Anna Marr. Kate and Charlotte recently participated (spectacularly) as readers in our in-house Pride and Prejudice read-thru; Maggie is spearheading a special summer Lifeline fundraising event (news here soon about our Bingo Benefit at the Glenwood on August 25!); Anna is working directly with Lea Pinsky, our Education Director, and will assist with our summer camps. All four gals are also working with every one of us on staff on different projects. Their brains, energy and can-do spirit are an enormous boon to our organization.

With the help of our wonderful interns, we are going slay through our impossible list and get everything done this summer! All of it!

Anna Marr Charlotte Long
Jason Weinberg Kathleen Weiss
Kate Donoghue Maggie Humphrey

We hope to see you in the neighborhood soon!

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

Upcoming events!

The spring and summer are always busy here at Lifeline, and this year is no exception. Join us in the coming months for some wonderful events, festivals and special programming…

On Sunday, April 10th at noon, Arnie the Doughnut author/illustrator Laurie Keller, will join us for a FREE meet-and-greet and book signing in the Lifeline lobby! We’ll have books on sale, along with cast recordings of this wonderful new musical.

Tickets for both the 11am and 1pm performances that day are going fast! Get yours today by calling the box office at 773-761-4477 or order online.

If you haven’t already heard, the Chicago Public Library has chosen Neverwhere as its Spring 2011 One Book, One Chicago selection, the 20th book in this remarkable program. There are all sorts of wonderful discussions, appearances, and conversations happening in conjunction with OBOC, including two appearances by Neil Gaiman himself (see here for the full list), but there’s one event we’re particularly excited about…

On Monday, April 11 at 6:00pm, the entire original cast from Lifeline’s spring/summer 2010 production of Neverwhere will reunite for one night only, to perform a full reading of the script and participate in a talkback with fans of the book. This is a FREE event, and it takes place at the Harold Washington Library (400 S. State Street), in the gorgeous Cindy Pritzker Auditorium. We hope to see you there!


Lifeline’s world premiere adaptation of Richard Adams’ beloved best-selling book is fast approaching. Previews begin April 29th, and the show runs through June 19th (full details here). Pre-sales for this highly-anticipated production are moving extremely fast – don’t miss out! Get your tickets today!

Lifeline is thrilled to announce an expansion to our Summer Drama Camp (now entering its 11th year!). Our dazzlingly popular camp will not only serve kids ages 7-11 as usual (July 18-29), but will now offer a week-long program for 4-6 year olds (July 11-15)! Click here for all the details, and to register your children.

Expanding its dedication to the art of storytelling in all its forms, Lifeline Theatre is thrilled to produce the fifteenth annual Fillet of Solo Festival, a three-week, multi-venue solo performance festival running July 21-August 7, 2011. Participants, scheduling and full pricing details will be announced in early April. Check our website soon for updates!

This popular festival (now entering its 10th YEAR) features arts and crafts, theater, music, food and drink for the whole family on the brick streets of the Glenwood Avenue Arts District in Chicago’s historic Rogers Park neighborhood. GAAF 2011 will take place the weekend of August 19-21, and is FREE for the whole family! More details will be available soon at

Welcoming New Volunteers

Lifeline welcomes our newest volunteers…

Jason Weinberg
Jason is a 2010 Columbia graduate with a B.A. in Acting. Jason is assisting Rob with the casting files, Erica with audience surveys, and tackling light storage with Cortney. He is an organizing whirlwind and we are delighted to have him with us. Jason is also a musician, playing baritone ukele and singing backup vocals in the folk/synth pop duo, Ellipses. In addition to originals, they cover Ryan Adams, Berlin, REM, Peter Schilling and other 80s favorites. Their next gig will be at Lily’s on Lincoln Avenue in December. Stay tuned!


BrittneyLove Smith
Brittney is a Columbia senior who will receive her B.F.A. in Acting in 2011. Brittney has been awarded the Woman’s Performance Scholarship and the Presidential Scholarship by Columbia College Chicago and has participated in staged readings with Regina Taylor. She was recently cast at Columbia in Dead City and will play Beatrice, Nona and others. Brittney hails from St. Petersburg, Florida and aside from her acting career, she is also a painter. At Lifeline she is assisting in numerous administrative areas and we hope to get her into the scene shop for the next painting project as well. Brittney plans to stay in Chicago after graduation. We’re glad to hear it!