Celebrating 15 years of family theatre, Chicago's Lifeline Theatre has announced its upcoming season, featuring four unique works plus two shows specifically for children.
Opening the season will be the return of "those zany singing lizards" in Lizard Music, by Daniel Pinkwater. Featuring "a capella music, 1970s television, Walter Cronkite and seven-foot, be-bopping reptiles," Lizard Music promises to be `iguanderful.' (Sept. 19-Jan. 4, 1998, opens Sept. 24).
Jan. 30-March 15, 1998, Lifeline will don a dance, acrobatics and puppet adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's The Overcoat. The show opens Feb. 4, 1998.
The lives of three generations of Native-American women will be examined in Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine, adapted by Meryl Friedman, April 3-May 31, 1998, opening April 8, 1998.
In the comedy Cotillion, (June 17-mid-Aug. 1998, opening June 17, 1998), Kitty must choose between poverty and marrying one of her cousins. While enjoying the temporary high life, will she fall in love? Christina Calvit adapts Georgette Heyer's book. The first show in In Lifeline's KidSeries series will be a play by Virginia Lee Burton, musically adapted by Eric Lane Barnes, that tells of "the triumphs and adventures of Mike Mulligan and his loyal steam shovel, MaryAnn." Appropriately enough, the show is called Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel. (Jan. 15-March 22, 1998, opening Jan. 17, 1998).
Lois Lowery's Anastasia Krupnik follows, April 23-June 28, 1998, opening April 25, 1998. Ten year old Anastasia is confused; not only must she deal with teachers and boys, her parents are about to have a new baby.
Currently on the Lifeline mainstage is Praying For Sheetrock, a world premiere by Melissa Fay Greene. Adapted and directed by Lifeline's producing director Meryl Friedman, Sheetrock takes place in rural 1970s Georgia, which time -- and the civil rights movement -- have passed by. One uneducated, unemployed black man takes on the corrupt white sheriff, leading to the town's political awakening.
Author Greene won the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award for her 1991 novel and went on to write the National Book Award nominee, The Temple Bombing. Friedman has served as adaptor/director on such shows as Precious Bane and The Little Sister.
"Since this is based on a true story, rather than fiction," says Friedman, "I wanted to make sure no one was mis-represented." Interviews Friedman conducted in Georgia, and tapes of interviews conducted by Greene, served as research materials for Friedman's adaptation.
Starring as heroic Thurnell Alston will be Phillip Edward VanLear, who recently starred in Victory Gardens' Root Causes. Kim Leigh Smith, John Sterchi, Arch Harmon, Don Blair, Kelvin Blunt, DuShon M. Brown, Mary Harmon, Brooks Darrah, Charles Glenn, Russell Hinton and Tony Stovall make up the remaining cast. Designing Sheetrock are Alan Donahue (set), Christine Pascual (costumes) and Christine Solger (lighting).
Praying For Sheetrock runs to July 13 at Lifeline's home on North Glenwood and will also play at Theatre On The Lake, Aug. 5-9.
For tickets and information on Lifeline shows, call (773) 761-4477.
--By David Lefkowitz