Duck for President

Oct 11 – Nov 30, 2008

Who put Farmer Brown in charge, anyway? Isn’t it time an intelligent and handsome young duck ran for office? And once he’s running the farm, it’s just a few short steps until he’s running the country! A new musical showing both the heady and headachey sides of politics just in time for the election! By the same team that brought you Click, Clack Moo.

Recommended for kids 5 and up. Children under 2 are not permitted.

Based on the popular bestseller by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin 
Adapted by James E. Grote 
Music by George Howe 
Directed by Shole Milos

  • Heather Currie (Pig)

    Heather is thrilled to make her debut with Lifeline theatre! Favorite past credits include: School House Rock Live!The TaffettasNunsenseSpinning Into ButterFrankie and Johnny In the Clare De Lune, and Godspell. Ms. Currie currently teaches screenwriting in the Film Department at Columbia College, and can be heard singing every Friday and Saturday night at Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret.

  • David Fink (Duck)

    David is thrilled and grateful to return to the Lifeline stage! A graduate of Columbia College, David was last seen here as Lyle in Lifeline’s remount of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, and can be currently be seen in The Hypocrites production of Our Town. He has also worked with Silent Theater Company (A Charlie Chaplin Christmas), Blue Moon Studio Theater (Weird Romance), Gorilla Tango Theater (Colonel Ingut-Whustard’s Compelling Mango Gesture).

  • Christina Hall (Cow)

    Christina is excited to be returning to Lifeline! Previous credits include: Dirty CowboyLyle, Lyle, Crocodile and Half Magic. Other Chicago credits include The Merchant of Venice with The Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, and Disney’s Aladdin with Emerald City Theatre Company. Look for her this winter in the new work The Rotogravure at the Athenaeum Theater.

  • Amanda Link (Hen)

    Amanda is happy to be back at Lifeline where she previously played Jane in Half Magic. Other Chicago credits include Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief and Big Love with The Mill, The Landry News with The Griffin Theatre Company, Bottle Can Draft with The Sandbox Theatre Project and The Prometheus Myth with The Anatomy Collective. Amanda has performed in several sketch shows at Donny’s Skybox and is a proud graduate of the Conservatory at Second City. She currently tours with Healthworks Theatre.

  • Tom Weber (Farmer Brown)

    Tom Weber is having a great time playing in the barnyard here at Lifeline for the first time. He has also been seen at many theatres throughout the area. Some recent favorites include To Pay the Price (Victory Gardens), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Noble Fool), and the Jeff-winning productions of Gross Indecency (Boho Theatre) and Mack and Mabel(Circle Theatre). He will next appear in The Illusion with Promethean Theatre Ensemble where he is an ensemble member.

  • B. Diego Colon (Understudy)

    Diego is happy to be making his Lifeline Theatre KidSeries debut with Duck for President. Diego can be seen currently in Lifeline’s production of The Mark of Zorro at Theatre Building Chicago. He was last seen in Berlin to Broadway with The Loop Players. Past roles include Superdog in the Chicago Childrens Theatre Production of Go Dog, Go! Diego is an ensemble member of One Theatre Company since its creation and he has appeared as Tito Merelli in Lend me a Tenor, and Jimmy Powers in City of Angels for them.

  • Benjamin Kirberger (Understudy)

    Ben is very excited to make his debut with Lifeline Theatre. He considers himself extremely lucky to be part of such a wonderful project, being new to Chicagoland. He is a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University’s Theatre program, where past roles include Bobby Child in Crazy For You, Oscar in Sweet Charity, and the Baker in Into the Woods.

  • Nikki Klix (Understudy)

    Nikki is thrilled to be performing in her first production with Lifeline. Her credits include Disturbed III with Oracle Productions, Old Town with Strawdog Theatre Company, and The Woman in Black with Buffalo Theatre Ensemble. She can also be seen in the upcoming independent film To Have and Have More. Nikki is a recipent of the John Belushi/Second City Scholarship and a proud member of the acting ensemble at Players, Please Theatre.

  • James E. Grote (Adaptor)

    This is Jim’s third trip to the farm, having previously adapted Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (2002) and Giggle, Giggle, Quack (2005). Click, Clack, Moo has been produced in Milwaukee and Vermont, and can be seen in Dallas and Portland, Oregon in the coming year. Jim’s other adaptations for Lifeline include C.S. Lewis’ The Silver ChairThe Dirty Cowboy; and Daniel Mason’s The Piano Tuner (2007 After Dark Award for Outstanding Production). As an actor, he has appeared in Lifeline’s productions of The Killer AngelsAround the World in 80 Days, and Johnny Tremain, and will be appearing in Busman’s Honeymoon next spring.

  • George Howe (Music & lyrics)

    George is a Jeff Citation Winner (Queen Lucia – Best New Musical 2006) and multiple After Dark Award winning composer/lyricist/cabaret artist. His musical Sleeping Ugly won him a 2006 After Dark award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics. He has written the songs for many of Lifeline Theatre’s KidSeries shows including Click Clack Moo: Cows That TypeBrave Potatoes and most recently Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. George can be seen most nights playing piano and belting out pop, rock and showtunes at Davenport’s.

  • Shole Milos (Director)

    Shole is a member of the Lifeline artistic ensemble who is thrilled to back in the world of Framer Brown and friends after previously directing both Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type and Giggle, Giggle, Quack. He has directed numerous production on the Lifeline stage, including Lyle, Lyle, CrocodileDirty Cowboy and A Long Way From Chicago. As an actor, Shole has appeared on the Lifeline stage in The Piano TunerJohnny Tremain and will appear in this season’s production of Mariette in Ecstacy. Other Chicago area productions include directing Disney’s Aladdin and Stellaluna for Emerald City Theatre Company and appearing in The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui at Steep Theatre.

  • Ellen Willett (Stage Manager)

    Ellen loves working with Lifeline, where she has previously stage managed Talking It OverHalf MagicCrossing CaliforniaStrong Poison and Sophie’s Masterpiece. Other Chicago credits include shows with Emerald City Theatre Company, Theatre Seven, Viaduct, Stage Left, Terrapin Theatre Company, Irish Rep, and many more. She also serves on the board of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), a unique and vibrant music ensemble dedicated to advancing the music of our time.

  • Jana Anderson (Costume Designer)

    After working on Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile costumes in spring, Jana is delighted to be working with Lifeline Theatre again. Her work has been featured by numerous theater groups including Redmoon Theater, Light Opera Works, Irish Repertory Theatre, Rivendell, Experimental Theatre and Collaboraction. She works with students at Roosevelt College of Performing arts and at Northeastern University in their costume shop. Prior to coming to the United States, Jana created elaborate costumes for classical opera productions at the Slovak National Theater in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, where she also attended the University of Art.

  • Tim Hill (Sound Designer)

    Tim is very happy to be making sounds for another Lifeline Children’s play. Past sound designs include productions with Tantalus Theatre Group, Chicago Actors Wordshop, Irish Repertory of Chicago, Stage Left, University Theatre of Madison, Tireswing, The Neo-Futurists, Roadworks, Women’s Club of Evanston, Queen of All Saints, St. Scholastica Academy, Summerplace, St. John of the Cross, UIC Theatre, St. Patrick High School, and The Free Associates Improv Theatre. Tim is also a proud member of The Grandkids band and The Anti-Road Trip Alliance multi-media group.

  • Kim Kozak (Lighting Designer)

    Kim is happy to be working with Lifeline again now that she is back in town. In the past, she has worked with them on Brave PotatoesJohnny TremainThe Talisman Ring, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Other companies that she has worked with include Rubicon, 20%, Darknight Theatrical Productions, Sprung and DOG, a Theatre Company.

  • Katie Schweiger (Scenic & Props Designer)

    Katie is very excited to be working on her first show at Lifeline! Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Katie graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University in 2007. She is currently working as a scenic designer and artist at many Chicago theaters and is a resident designer at Emerald City Theatre Company.

  • Cortney Hurley (Production Manager)

    Cortney is excited to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the ’08-’09 season. Previous and current production management positions include Ellen Under Glass with the House Theatre of Chicago; One False Note with Plasticene; Old TownRichard IIIAristocratsA Lie of the Mind, and Marathon ’33 with Strawdog Theatre, where she is the mainstage production manager; as well as the Assistant Production Manager at Theater on the Lake since 2004. During the school year Cortney can be found at St. Scholastica Academy, where she has been the resident designer (scenery and lighting) and technical theatre instructor/director for the last nine years.

  • Ian Zywica (Technical Director)

    Ian moved to Chicago about a year ago after completing his M.F.A. He has really enjoyed it thus far, designing and picking up freelance work along the way.

From the Chicago Sun-Times

‘Duck’ should win family vote by a landslide
October 17, 2008
By Jennifer Burklow

There’s no need to wait for the returns on this one. Lifeline Theatre has a ballot-winning hit in its world premiere of “Duck for President,” a musical adaptation of Doreen Cronin’s best-selling children’s book.

Although “Duck” targets kids 5 to 10 years old, adults will find a lot to enjoy in this whimsical send up of American politics.

Created by the same team that brought Cronin’s “Click Clack Moo” to the stage — James E. Grote (adaptor, lyrics), George Howe (music and lyrics) and Shole Milos (director) — “Duck for President” takes the audience on a fast-paced, humorous journey through the election process and kicks off Lifeline’s 2008-2009 KidSeries season.

It all starts on Farmer Brown’s (Tom Weber) farm, where the good farmer is fed up with doing all the work while the barnyard residents have all the fun. So Brown gives each animal chores to do. After a day of hard work, the farm’s denizens decide to unseat Farmer Brown with an election.

Egged on by Pig (Heather Currie), happy-go-lucky Duck (David Fink) throws his beak in the ring, wins and finds himself farmer. From there, we’re off on a rollicking ride through gubernatorial and presidential elections as Pig’s aspirations for Duck grow more ambitious.

The script and lyrics remain true to Cronin’s story, cleverly explaining the election process to kids without talking down to them. To keep adults tuned in, “Duck” deftly works in references to the current presidential election, Richard Nixon, YouTube, “American Idol” and more. Grote’s script also creates distinct personalities for Duck’s barnyard friends, who travel the campaign trail with him.

Howe’s music moves from bouncy pop tunes like show opener “Working the Live-Long Day” to ballads to sultry rhythm and blues with Motown moves.

The wonderfully expressive Fink brings endearing energy to fun-loving Duck, who takes on more than he can handle. Currie steals scenes as the conniving, power-hungry Pig with a voice of gold. Weber plays the all-knowing Farmer Brown (and several other roles) with a sly sense of humor. Christina Hall is udderly believable as capricious Cow and Amanda Link charms as always-honest Hen.

Katie Schweiger’s set evokes the work of “Duck” illustrator Betsy Lewin with the seemingly hand-drawn barnyard and election bunting outlined in black. Jana Anderson’s delightful costumes create believable barnyard animals (Cow even has udders).



From the Chicago Reader

October 21, 2008
By Jack Helbig

This high-spirited adaptation by James E. Grote, with songs by Grote and George Howe, captures the wit, wild wordplay, and playful energy of Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin’s children’s book, about the career of a clever but lazy duck who gets involved in politics to avoid hard work. The performances are uniformly charming; David Fink is especially winning as the titular Duck. Katie Schweiger’s set design brilliantly recreates the world of Lewin’s illustrations. Most impressive of all, the show works as both a civics lesson and wry political satire, which means it entertains both children and adults–although my seven-year-old was puzzled by the big laugh the grownups gave a moment when the female Pig who runs as Duck’s VP puts on lipstick.



From Chicago Stage Review

October 20, 2008
By Robert Andersen

If only… Everyday politics were this easy; A candidate doesn’t require experience; Promises don’t need to be kept; A pig can run a campaign… Hey wait a minute!

Lifeline Theatre’s current KidSeries production of Duck for President offers a whimsical lesson on our political process for both young and old. This is not a new story, but I find myself at a disadvantage since Duck for President is not part of my personal library or the Oprah “Book of the Month Club.” Whenever I have to form an impression of an adapted work I prefer to do a little research or have a sounding board to bounce things off of and so I turned to my well-read 10-year-old daughter Emma for guidance.

Here’s the impression that I got from her. “The show was really funny; it was a lot like the book. The book didn’t say anything about singing though. The songs were fun and everyone danced good (sic). My favorite animal was Hen. She had the funniest lines. I would have voted for her instead of Duck. If I was in the show I would want to be the Farmer, he got to be a bunch of different people. I would tell my friends about the show and they should see it.” What more needs to be said?

The world premiere musical adaptation of Doreen Cronin’s story is delightful. James E. Grote and George Howe’s collaborative efforts hit the mark. The stage play brings all of the characters and action to vibrant life. The musical score is bouncy and poignant. Although a couple of the songs seem to go a little long, the cast effortlessly moves them along. The three actresses have wonderful voices and work the harmonies well. Combined with some nice choreography the “girls of the yard” bring a nice “Andrews sisters-esqe” and Aretha Franklin quality to the table. The men have nice voices in their own rights, however “Duck” seems to be slightly lacking. The action flows swiftly, which is essential for the younger audiences. There is a nice mix of child and grown-up comedy but the actors seem to be holding back. It is difficult to tell if they aren’t given the freedom to take it closer to the top as there seems to be plenty of opportunities.

While this is a delightful lesson in politics for the kids and the camp value for the adults keeps you smiling, I don’t think they explored all of the potential possibilities. Still, Duck for President is a great show and the timing is perfect for creating early political dialogue and awareness with children.