The Primm family is busily moving into their new house on East 88th Street, when suddenly they hear SWISH, SWASH, SPLASH, SWOOSH. A search reveals a crocodile in their bathtub! His name is Lyle, he only eats Turkish caviar, and he quickly becomes a treasured member of the family. Unfortunately, Mr. Grumps, their next door neighbor, is not so enthusiastic about having a crocodile on 88th Street.
Suggested for families with children ages 5 to 11.
A world premiere musical based on the book written and illustrated by Bernard Waber
Adapted by Christina Calvit
Music and lyrics by George Howe
Directed by Shole Milos
Danielle Brothers (Mrs. Primm)
Danielle is thrilled to be working with the generous and enthusiastic folks at Lifeline for the very first time! Most recently, she has appeared in Theo Ubique’s productions of Cabaret, Side by Side by Sondheim, Flora the Red Menace, and Jacques Brel: Songs of Love & War (the latter two winning her Jeff Citations for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical). Her TU debut was their Kurt Weill revue Songs of Darkness & Light. Favorite roles include Vee Talbott in ATC’s Orpheus Descending and Widow Walker in Night of the Mime, by George Brant.
James E. Grote (Mr. Primm, Mr. Grumps and Others)
Jim began working with Lifeline Theatre in 1992, appearing as Tucker Mouse in Lifeline’s world premiere production of A Cricket in Times Square. Since then, Jim has appeared in Lifeline’s productions of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch; Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle; The Killer Angels; Around the World in 80 Days (Jeff Award: Outstanding Ensemble); and Johnny Tremain. Jim is also a playwright, and has adapted C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair; Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type; and Brave Potatoes. Jim’s adaptation of Daniel Mason’s The Piano Tuner was recently honored by the After Dark Awards as one of the year’s best productions. Jim is currently adapting The Dirty Cowboy, Lifeline’s spring KidSeries show.
Tom Jansson (Lyle)
Tom is very glad to be back to Lifeline where he previously appeared as Kenny in Brave Potatoes and in the roles of Nag, Teddy, and The Great Djinn of the Desert in Rikki Tikki Tavi and other Just So Stories. Other Chicago credits include The Nutcracker for Incurable Theatre, The Good War for Prologue, The Last Dragon of Camelot for Emerald City, and The Human Comedy for Splinter Group. Tom is a graduate of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California.
Stephen Rader (Valenti/Joshua)
Stephen is a three-time After Dark Award winner in Performance (Pegasus Players’ Side by Side by Sondheim), Direction (Corpus Christi at Bailiwick Repertory) and Cabaret. Directing credits include Ulysses Theatre’s The Normal Heart and Alexandra Billings’ The Story Goes On. Acting credits include Richard in TimeLine’s Lion in Winter, The Soldier in CST’s Sunday in the Park with George and several roles in Philip Dawkins’ play Ugly Baby. For Porchlight Music Theatre, he has played Gordo in A New Brain, Whizzer in Falsettos and Michael in Elegies. Stephen made his Goodman Theatre debut in Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza.
Christina Hall (Understudy)
Christina made her Lifeline and Chicago debut in Half Magic. Previous stage credits include Oliver!, Shakespeare Revue, Spitfire Grill, Seussical, Shakespeare in Hollywood, and Bedroom Farce at Hope Summer Repertory Theater; Pardon My English at Main Street Theater; and As You Like It, Turcaret, Twelfth Night, The House Of Bernarda Alba, Tales of the Last Formicans, Assassins, Richard III and A Doll’s House at Southern Methodist University.
Rus Rainear (Understudy)
Rus is making his Lifeline Theatre debut. Rus completes the trilogy of Glenwood Avenue theatres having just played Herr Schultz in Cabaret with Theo Ubique at the No Exit Cafe and having played The Boss in the Jeff winning Best Musical Sideshow and the Old Shepherd in The Winter’s Talewith the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble. Other Chicago area theatres Rus has worked with include Circle Theatre, StageLeft, Pegasus Players, Hell in a Handbag and the Bailiwick. Rus was chosen as a fellow for the Cabaret Symposium at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and has performed at venues across Chicago including Davenport’s, Gentry and Second City. Rus has also performed in the independent films A Play For Ariel and Always For Mom.
Christina Calvit (Adaptor)
Christina is a Lifeline ensemble member. She has written over a dozen theatrical adaptations which have been performed throughout the United States, including A Room with a View; Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Joseph Jefferson Citation, 2004); Jane Eyre; Pistols for Two(Joseph Jefferson Citation, 2000); The Talisman Ring (Joseph Jefferson Award, 1996) and Pride and Prejudice (Joseph Jefferson Citation, 1986). Her most recent adaptation, created with Composer/Lyricist George Howe, Queen Lucia, was awarded a 2005 After Dark Award and a 2006 Joseph Jefferson Citation for New Work. Original plays include Snowflake Tim’s Big Holiday Adventure, Purloined Poe, Chaos (co-writer), and Several Voices from The Cloud (Agnes Nixon Award, 1981).
George Howe (Composer/Lyricist)
George is a Jeff Citation Winner (Queen Lucia – Best New Musical 2006) and multiple After Dark Award winning composer/lyricist/cabaret artist. He has written the songs for many of Lifeline Theatre’s KidSeries shows including Brave Potatoes; Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch; Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type and its sequel Giggle, Giggle, Quack. His latest musical, Sleeping Ugly, which premiered at Griffin Theatre in 2006, won him a 2006 After Dark award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics. George can be seen most nights playing piano and belting out pop, rock and showtunes at Chicago’s premiere cabaret club Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret.
Shole Milos (Director)
Shole is a Lifeline ensemble member who has served as the director of many KidSeries productions including Brave Potoatoes, Giggle Giggle Quack and Click Clack Moo; Cows that Type, to name a few, and will stage the upcoming production of The Dirty Cowboy this winter. Shole has also directed the MainStage production of A Long Way From Chicago which was later remounted at Theatre on the Lake. As an actor, he has been seen on the Lifeline stage in The Piano Tuner, Johnny Tremain, Whose Body? and The Emperor’s Groovy New Clothes, and was recently seen in Steep Theatre’s production of The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui. He has also served as director and choreographer for productions of Rapunzel and Stellaluna at Emerald City Theatre and provided movement coaching for a number of productions around town.
Kyle Conn (Stage Manager)
Kyle is very excited to be doing his first production with Lifeline! Past stage management credits include: Pop, Pop, Quiz, Quiz with Second City, Up N Under with Circle Theater, Extremities and Richard II with ART (Actors Revolution Theater). Kyle was also the assistant producer and stage manager for RAWK Magazines Grit & Glitz Fashion Show. He had the privilege of working on A Christmas Carol and Pericles at The Goodman Theater and also being a production assistant for Wicked-1st National Tour. Kyle graduated from DePaul University’s Theatre School in June with a BFA in stage management.
Jana Anderson (Costume Designer)
Chicago Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss has described Jana Anderson’s costumes as “period perfect pieces.” Jana’s work has been featured by numerous theater groups including Redmoon Theater, Light Opera Works, Irish Repertory Theatre, Rivendell and Experimental Theatre to name a few. Prior to coming to the United States, Jana made elaborate costumes for classical opera productions at the National Theater in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. She attended the Fine Arts University in Bratislava, where her interest in working on costumes originated. When she wants to have fun, however she designs crazy fashions for photo shoots, advertising, or crocodiles.
Alan Donahue (Scenic Designer)
Alan has designed many Lifeline shows over the last 17 years including The Little Sister, Jane Eyre (2001), and Around the World in 80 Days for which he received Jeff Citations. Alan has also created literary adaptations for Lifeline: Donald E. Westlake’s Trust Me on This and Adam Langer’s Crossing California for the MainStage and Daniel Pinkwater’s Bongo Larry and Two Bad Bears and Eileen Spinelli’s Sophie’s Masterpiece – A Spider’s Tale for the KidSeries. He is currently faculty of The Theatre School of DePaul University. Upcoming projects include Sunday on the Rocks for Bailiwick and The End for Black Sheep Productions, and The Mark of Zorro for Lifeline.
Tim Hill (Sound Designer)
Tim is very excited to be collaborating on this fifth production with Lifeline Theatre, where previous sound designs include Half Magic, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Past sound designs include productions with Chicago Actors Workshop; Irish Repertory of Chicago; Stage Left; University Theatre in Madison, WI; Tireswing; The Neo-Futurists; Roadworks; Women’s Club of Evanston; Queen of All Saints; St. Scholastica Academy; UIC Theatre; St. Patrick High School, and The Free Associates Improv Theatre. Tim is a proud member of The Anti-Road Trip Alliance and A.R.T.A. Films.
Maggie Fullilove-Nugent (Lighting Designer)
Maggie is delighted to be working with Lifeline this season. She is currently the Resident Lighting Designer and Production Manager for North Park University and a company member of Barrel of Monkeys, where she is the Production Stage Manager. As a Freelance Designer and Technician she has been fortunate enough to work with several amazing theater companies, including The House Theatre, 500 Clown, Strawdog, Neo-Futurists and The Hypocrites, to name a few. Her portfolio can be viewed at www.FULLILIGHT.com.
From the Chicago Reader
June 5, 2008
By Jack Helbig
Everything in this remounting of Lifeline Theatre’s 2007 hit works, and works well. Christina Calvit’s adaptation of Bernard Waber’s popular children’s book, about a friendly reptile and the family of New Yorkers who adopt him, is faithful–but not slavishly so: it captures the book’s playful spirit, while adding lines here and there guaranteed to entertain parents without baffling kids. George Howe’s tunes are lively and memorable, the costumes and sets are clever without stealing focus, and the performances are, to an actor, superb. Of course, all my seven-year-old could talk about was David Fink’s lovable portrayal of the title character. Now, thanks to him, she thinks all crocs are cuddly.
December 17, 2007
By Joe Stead
Critical Evaluation: **** out of ****
Lyle isn’t your everyday, ordinary crocodile. He lives in an urban New York City bathtub, with a family who adores him. He loves to sing and dance, has his own teddy bear to cuddle up with, and subsists on an exclusive diet of Turkish caviar. Yes, everyone loves Lyle, well almost everyone that is. His only real adversary is his next-door neighbor, aptly named Mr. Grumps and his hostile cat Loretta. Mr. Grumps, who’s also a manager at Macy’s department store, believes that crocodiles are a menace and have no business living in a house at 88th Street. Will the sourpuss neighbor and his less than friendly feline succeed in separating Lyle from his loving family, and when will interfering “grumps” learn to accept people who may be a little different?
That’s the question posed by Lifeline Theatre’s delightful little musical “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.” If the title doesn’t immediately ring a bell, you may remember the illustration of the “soapy crocodile” from the popular children’s book by Bernard Waber that inspired Christina Calvit’s 1-hour original KidSeries adaptation. As we have come to expect from this intrepid 25-year-old Rogers Park institution, the show is loaded with craft, charm and ample imagination. Jana Anderson’s clever costumes help transform actor Tom Jansson into the scaly title character and his three stage companions into a variety of characters needed to tell the story. And Composer/Lyricist George Howe supplies a most genial (albeit pre-recorded) score that compliments the tale.
Of the cast, Danielle Brothers is a particular standout with her knockout voice and comic delivery as the kind and protective Mrs. Primm. But what really makes this show a treat is the heartwarming message passed on to the youngsters. It’s okay to be yourself, so don’t worry if others don’t automatically accept you. Having a big heart is what really counts, and when you show love it will assuredly come back to you. What a wonderful thought to pass on to young audience members this holiday season (or any other for that matter). “Lyle” is a heartwarming musical that is sure to win you over. Following the performance I attended, the audience was treated to a hands-on demonstration of live reptiles by The Chicago Herpetological Society. Be sure to check out their web sites www.chicagoherp.org and www.reptilefest.com and visit Reptile Fest 2008 April 12 and 13. Tell them “Lyle” sent you.
December 17, 2007
By Dennis Mahoney
It’s the holiday season. The kids are running roughshod throughout the house, and are already tired of their new toys. Gah! What to do next? Take them out for a toe-tapping good time and see Lifeline Theatre’s KidSeries production of “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.” This musical adaptation of the 1965 Bernard Waber book of the same name follows the adventures of Lyle, a Manhattan-dwelling crocodile who lives in a Victorian brownstone with the Primm family.
Gentle as a lamb, and a friend to all, Lyle has discriminating tastes and loves to perform. As the Primms learn, Lyle had a stellar theatrical past, so his new tricks and penchant for going for laughs are merely daily events. Everyone in the neighborhood loves Lyle, yet two shady characters seek to remove Lyle from his comfortable, happy home.
The small cast takes on a variety of characters through quick costume changes and voice inflections; they are all capable singers and can deftly tackle small dance numbers. The changes in character roles may be confusing at first to younger audience members, but soon they’ll be able to find the game and keep up with the story. Of note, Danielle Brothers as Mrs. Primm handles her singing parts with great dexterity and would shine equally in a larger venue.
Given the small performance space, Lifeline is able to transform the stage into 1960s Manhattan through a set design taken directly from the original book’s illustrations. All scenery changes are handled by the actors without a hitch. As Lyle gets himself into a prickly situation, and becomes tempted to return to his nomadic past, you really want him to get back to his happy home. And with a bit of luck (and trickery), you’ll soon see why all neighborhoods could benefit from having a crocodile live up the block.