The Emperor’s New Threads: A Fashion Statement

March 23 – April 28, 2013
Saturdays & Sundays at 11am & 1pm
Extended to May 5th!

“The new twists are delightful and canny, George Howe’s songs are inventive, and Mike Ooi’s emperor is Austin Powers with a kid-friendly mojo.”  –Chicago Reader

“The perfect fit for a family outing”  –Chicago Theater Beat

The Emperor is beloved as a chic trendsetter, but his ridiculous fashion tax is bankrupting the country. Determined to be a hero for the ages, one young girl travels to the royal palace to confront the superficial ruler and teach him a lesson about what really matters. Soon, however, a devious con man hatches a sinister plot to send the Emperor out among the people in nothing but his birthday suit, and only our heroine can save “His Royal Groovyness” from a world of embarrassment — but should she? The hilarious hit musical returns!

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

Based on the folktale by Hans Christian Andersen 
Adapted and directed by Frances Limoncelli 
Music and lyrics by George Howe 
Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (

Excerpt from The Emperor’s New Threads. Music by George Howe

  • Anthony Kayer (Huckster/Dad/Preen)

    Anthony is thrilled to be back at Lifeline where he was last seen as Mr. Bing in Arnie the Doughnut. Recent Chicago credits include: SITA RAM(Chicago Children’s Choir), Iphigenia 2.0 (Next Theatre), The March(Steppenwolf), and Elizabeth Rex (Chicago Shakespeare). Anthony is an alumni of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and a proud ensemble member of The Inappropriate Theatre Company.

  • Mike Ooi (Emperor)

    Mike is pleased to return to Lifeline’s KidSeries after appearing in The Mystery of the Pirate GhostDuck For PresidentNaked Mole Rat Gets DressedThe 13 Clocks, and The Last of the Dragons. Other Chicago credits include NeverwhereThe Mark of Zorro (Lifeline Theatre); RenFaire! A Fistful of DucatsBlack & Blue1985Mop Top Festival (Factory Theater); Sinbad: The Untold TaleGhosts of Treasure Island(AdventureStage); Three Penny Opera (The Hypocrites at Steppenwolf Garage); Old Town(Strawdog Theatre); and Curse of the Crying Heart and Cave with Man (House Theatre of Chicago). Mike is the Operations Manager for the Factory Theater, where he is also a company member. You can also see Mike this summer in Lifeline’s The Three Musketeers.

  • Amanda Roeder (Mom/June/Marissa/Primp)

    Amanda is thrilled to be making her Lifeline debut in this fantastically fun show! She most recently appeared as Annee in Anneepocalypse with Hubris Productions. Other Chicago credits include work with Infamous Commonwealth Theatre, Rivendell Theatre, the Plagiarists, City Lit, Nothing Special Productions, and Circle Theatre. Amanda received her BA in acting from Illinois State University and has taken classes at Black Box Studio.

  • Kacy Ann Smith (Kid)

    Kacy is delighted and honored to be making her Lifeline debut! Favorite credits include You Never Can Tell (Remy Bumppo); Zanna, Don’t! and The 48 Hour Musicals (The Music Theatre Company); a benefit concert of Carousel (Theatre Wit); A Christmas Carol (Metropolis Performing Arts Center); All My SonsCalvin and HobbesRomeo and JulietA Connecticut… King Arthur’s CourtThree Days of RainA Bright Room Called Day, and Eurydice (Northwestern University); and Anne of Green Gables and The Chalk Garden (A.D. Players). Kacy is an alumna of Northwestern University, where she received a BS in Theatre and in Economics.

  • Nicholas Reinhart (Understudy)

    Nicholas is thrilled to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the first time! Previous Chicago credits include: The Baker’s WifeThe Ritz (Circle Theatre); Cabaret (FourPlay Theatre Co.); and Santa’s Dead and Dirty Carol’s Christmas (MidTangent Productions). Regionally, he has performed in Portland, OR (Pippin and Annie Warbucks) and in Amarillo, TX (TEXAS Musical Drama) before settling back in the city he calls home. Nicholas currently holds the title of Producing Director at Circle Theatre and is a proud alumnus of Illinois Wesleyan University. Thank you for supporting Chicago theatre!

  • Amy Stricker (Understudy)

    Amy is thrilled to be a part of The Emperor’s New Threads! She is a recent graduate of The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where she received her B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. There, she performed in Sweeney Todd, numerous dance and musical showcases, and The Greenwood Tree, during which she made her Auditorium Theatre debut. Favorite credits include: Company (Marta), Footloose! (Wendy Jo), Reefer Madness (Mary Lane), Les Miserables (Eponine), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream(Hermia).

  • Frances Limoncelli (Adaptor/Director)

    Frances has been a member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble since 1995 and is the adaptor of Mrs. CalibanWhose Body?Strong Poison (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation), Gaudy Night (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation), and Busman’s Honeymoon (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation). For Lifeline’s KidSeries she adapted Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch and Arnie the Doughnut with Emperor’s composer/lyricist George Howe. She directed Lifeline’s Simple Jim And His Four Fabulous FriendsThe Story Of FerdinandMiss BiancaHalf MagicCooking with Lard, and the original musical Queen Lucia. Onstage at Lifeline she is best remembered as Chester the Cat in Bunnicula and the title role in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

  • George Howe (Music & Lyrics)

    George is an award-winning composer/lyricist and a familiar face at Lifeline Theatre. He has written the songs for many Kidseries shows, including the four musicals in the Click, Clack, Moo series; Lyle, Lyle, CrocodileSomebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch; and 2011’s hit Arnie the Doughnut, which went on to be performed at the 2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF). His musical Queen Lucia premiered at Lifeline and received a Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best New Musical 2006. He recently wrote a song for Perez Hilton which will be featured on the CD Carols for a Cure, which benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. George can be heard belting out showtunes and pop songs at Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret.

  • Jennifer Aparicio (Stage Manager)

    Jennifer returns to Lifeline, where she last stage managed Arnie the Doughnut. Past stage management credits include Accidental Rapture(16th Street Theater), No Roosters in the Desert (Prop THTR), and Tony Fitzpatrick’s Trilogy (This TrainStation’s Lost, and Nickel History) at Steppenwolf Garage and The Boiler in Brooklyn, NY. She most recently stage managed Juan Francisco Villa’s Empanada for a Dream at 16th Street Theater.

  • Victoria (toy) DeIorio (Sound Designer)

    As a company member, toy has designed 12, directed 1, composed 2, and acted in 1 Lifeline shows! Off-Broadway Productions: Arnie the Doughnut(NYMTF @ The Pearl), Cassie’s Chimera (Joe’s Pub @ The Public Theatre), The Bluest Eye (Steppenwolf Theatre @ The Duke Theatre), and Ophelia(NYC Fringe Festival @ The Connelly). Regional: Oregon Shakespeare, The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, Chautauqua Theatre Company, Syracuse Stage, Centerstage, Cleveland Playhouse, Indiana Repertory, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Peninsula Players, Milwaukee Rep, Geva Theatre, People’s Light and Theatre, Florida Stage, Maltz Jupiter, and many other theatres in and around Chicago, NY, and LA. She has been nominated for 11 and has received 6 Joseph Jefferson Awards, as well as 2 After Dark Awards. She is the head of Sound Design for The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago.

  • Alan Donahue (Lighting Designer)

    Alan has previous designed lighting for Lifeline’s productions of Stuart LittleThe Killer Angels, and The Talisman Ring (2005). Among his many scenic designs for Lifeline, he received Jeff Citations/Awards for his designs of The Little SisterJane Eyre (2001), Around the World in 80 DaysMariette in Ecstasy, and Neverwhere. For Lifeline, Alan has also created literary adaptations: Donald E. Westlake’s Trust Me on This and Adam Langer’s Crossing California for the MainStage and Daniel Pinkwater’s Bongo Larry & Two Bad Bears and Eileen Spinelli’s Sophie’s Masterpiece—A Spider’s Tale for KidSeries.

  • Rebecca Hamlin (Scenic & Properties Designer)

    Rebecca has designed scenery for many Lifeline shows, both for the MainStage and the KidSeries. Just a few favorites include A Long Way From ChicagoThe Velveteen RabbitDracula, and The Road to Graceland. She has designed scenery extensively for Chicago-area theatres including Apple Tree Theatre, Next Theatre, Ars Viva, Bailiwick Repertory, Seanachaí, City Lit, and Oak Park Festival Theatre. Rebecca’s work with educational theatre includes scenic design for the University of Wisconsin, the University of Tulsa, Harper College, North Park University, and a variety of programs for children and teens. Rebecca’s non-theatre design and production clients include the Chicago Office of Tourism and Cultural Events, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Garfield Park Conservatory, and the Shedd Aquarium. She also illustrated a children’s book called The Animal Store Alphabet Book(available on Amazon).

  • Amanda Link (Choreographer/Understudy)

    Amanda is excited to return to Lifeline where she was recently the movement designer and assistant director for The City & The City. She also assistant directed Pride and Prejudice and appeared in Duck for PresidentHow To Survive a Fairy TaleDooby Dooby MooMrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Half Magic. She is a proud member of The Lifeline Storytelling Project. Other Chicago credits include work with Griffin Theatre, the side project, The Mill, The Anatomy Collective, Inconceivable Theatre, and Sandbox Theatre Project. She is a graduate of the Conservatory Program at Second City.

  • Elizabeth Wislar (Costume Designer)

    Elizabeth has designed over 150 shows and built more than 100 productions in the Chicago area in collaboration with many of the prevailing theaters, opera companies and local universities. Elizabeth graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, BA/BFA, cum laude, and earned an MFA in Costume Design and Technology from Pennsylvania State University. She spent 5 years (1996-1999, 2002) as the Assistant Designer/Head Draper for the annual Baroque Handel Opera Festival in Göttingen, Germany. She is the 2004 recipient of the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award, an After Dark Costume Design Award for Design for Living and a Joseph Jefferson Award for An Ideal Husband, both with Circle Theater, and another for Queen Lucia with Lifeline Theatre, as well as multiple nominations. Elizabeth is the owner of Chicago Custom Costumes, Inc.

  • Joe Schermoly (Technical Director)

    Joe is a set designer, technical director, and painter. His design work has been seen at Lifeline Theatre (The City & The City,The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost, and The Count of Monte Cristo, props for The Moonstone) and around Chicago at Griffin Theatre (Punk RockNo More Dead DogsPortConstant Wife), Strawdog Theatre (Duchess of MalfiThe Master and MargaritaRichard III), Sideshow Theatre (IdomeneusThe Ugly One), Eclipse (Beyond the HorizonTrestle at Pope Lick Creek), and more. He has also designed and built shows in London for The Finborough, Bush and Gate theatres among others. Joe studied set design at Northwestern University and has received two After Dark Awards. You can see his work later this year at Lifeline in The City & The City.

  • Benjamin W. Dawson (Production Manager)

    Ben received his MFA in Technical Design & Production Management from Florida State University. He served as the Production Safety Coordinator with The Santa Fe Opera and as Art Director for several television series with networks like Discovery, PBS, MTV and VH1. In Chicago, Ben has served, among other things, as Production Manager for Zombies Attack Chicago; as Technical Director for Remarcable Theatre’s Lips Together, Teeth Apart; and as the Scene Shop Foreman at Goodman Theatre. He is also currently a Company Member and the Production Manager for Sideshow Theatre Company and the Technical Director for American Theater Company.

From the Chicago Reader

March 28, 2013
By Jena Cutie


In Frances Limoncelli’s groovy romp through Hans Christian Andersen, an emperor is conned into debuting a hip outfit at his televised birthday bash; allegedly visible only to people with excellent taste, it’s his birthday suit in more ways than one. Meanwhile, the fashion-crazed country is going broke because swag don’t come cheap. When a young girl determines to convince the emperor to change his priorities, she discovers he isn’t any freer than his subjects and that beneath his vanity lies a heart of gold. The cheery tone by no means makes for an air-headed yarn. The new twists are delightful and canny, George Howe’s songs are inventive, and Mike Ooi’s emperor is Austin Powers with a kid-friendly mojo. The kids were rapt under the spell of kooky costumes and a dreamy set, although not entirely decorous: when the hero asks if she should save the emperor from embarrassment, one boy shouted, “No! Let him go out naked!”



From Chicago Theater Beat

March 26, 2013
By Katy Walsh


The Emperor is addicted to clothes. He wants to dress for success. His outfits are over-the-top outrageous. And his Kingdom has caught his fashion fever. Everyone is rocking new and expensive outfits. To keep looking so good, the Emperor has issued a fashion tax. His well-dressed people must work more hours to keep their King and themselves vogue. One Kid has had it with the fashion trends. Her parents spend their days getting stylish. They don’t have time for their daughter. So, the Kid decides to pay a visit to the Emperor. She wants to convince him that clothes don’t make the man or the Kingdom. On her way to the palace, the Kid gets mixed up in a majestic scam. The Emperor’s New Threads: A Fashion Statementis this Spring’s runway hit!

Adapter and Director Frances Limoncelli cleverly weaves together a tapestry of life lessons: prioritize family quality time, don’t be a slave to fashion, heroes shouldn’t lie. The kid-friendly messages are one-size-fits-most (ages 3+) understandable. And there are even some adult-size takeaways. Limoncelli tells the story through the bright eyes of Kacy Ann Smith (Kid). Smith is an adorable bundle of pep and determination as she questions authority. Mike Ooi (Emperor) hilariously plays the wardrobe spoiled sovereign. It’s easy to see how the charismatic Ooi could get the Kingdom to follow his lead. Ooi is charming and definitely “His Royal Groovyness.” Anthony Kayer and Amanda Roeder skillfully juggle multiple parts and even more wardrobe changes. In particular, Roeder is riotous spoofing Joan and Melissa Rivers on the red carpet. The foursome is a showcase of talent as they zip it up and wear it out.

And in a show about fashion, the costumes are vital. Costume Designer Elizabeth Wislar uses her imagination and innovation for flashy layers of audacity. Although she keeps Smith in a sweet, colorful frock, Wislar piles on the sparkle, curls, and shimmer on everybody else. And she piles it on thick. The apparel spectacle could be Wislar’s ode to “What Not to Wear.” Wislar sets the trend for fun with her playful creations.

The Emperor’s New Threads: A Fashion Statement is the perfect fit for a family outing. The cast keeps the kids and their adults engaged in their interactive wardrobe craze. It’s a sensation! And that’s not all. At noon (in-between shows), the Stories Come Alive Hour gives kids an opportunity to learn more about the Hans Christian Anderson folktale with a game inspired workshop. Looking good, Lifeline, you wear this well!