The Woman in White

September 7-October 28, 2012
(Thu & Fri at 7:30pm, Sat at 4pm & 8pm, Sun at 4pm)

“Elise Kauzlaric’s staging employs clear, creative use of Alan Donahue’s scenic design… and her cast is terrific. Lifeline newcomers Bailey and Scrantom make an appealing pair”  –Time Out Chicago

“A mesmerizing mystery about identity… Violence Designer Greg Poljacik orchestrates gasp-worthy incidents with unexpected and authentic fight scenes.”  –Chicago Theater Beat

“The heavy-lifting duties rest on the spun-steel shoulders of Lucy Carapetyan as the forthright Marian, whose defiance of Christopher M. Walsh’s oily Fosco generates a David-against-Goliath frisson to induce shivers of excitement”  –Windy City Times

Trapped in a loveless marriage and threatened by a conspiracy of ruthless men, young heiress Laura Fairlie faces a future of sorrow and misery. Her only hope lies with her true love, the poor artist Walter Hartright, and her sister Marian Halcombe, both of whom will risk everything to protect her. Without the law, society, or money on their side, Walter and Marian must race against time to free their beloved Laura and uncover the truth behind the mysterious woman in white that shares her face. A dark tale of romance and suspense, in a world premiere adaptation.Based on the classic mystery by Wilkie Collins
Adapted by Robert Kauzlaric
Directed by Elise Kauzlaric

Join us for conversations with adaptor Robert Kauzlaric, dramaturg Maren Robinson, and Victorian Literature specialists, following the Sunday 4pm matinees on September 23rd, October 7th, and October 21st. Learn more about Wilkie Collins and the process of bringing The Woman in White to the stage!

Highlights from The Woman in White 

  • Nicholas Bailey (Walter Hartright)

    Nicholas is making his Lifeline debut. Chicago credits include Dirty Blonde(BoHo Theatre), The Maid of Orleans (Strangeloop Theatre), and Bang the Drum Slowly (Raven Theatre). Regional credits include The Fox on the Fairway (Old Log Theater) and the world premiere of Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club (Arizona Theatre Company). TV/film credits include Conquest of America (History Channel), various commercials, and the upcoming feature Scrooge & Marley. Also a writer, his first play, The Narrows, was workshopped with Red Tape Theatre and will receive a reading at Arizona Theatre Company this fall. Nicholas is a graduate of Denison University and is represented by Big Mouth Talent.

  • Don Bender (Frederick Fairlie, Mr. Catherick, Clerk)

    Don was last seen as Mr. Bennett in Lifeline’s production of Pride and Prejudice. Previously at Lifeline, he appeared in The Count of Monte CristoThe Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Mark of Zorro. Other recent credits include Frost/Nixon (TimeLine Theatre), Dancing at Lughnasa (Seanachaí Theatre Company), The Little Foxes (Shattered Globe Theatre), Our Enemies (Silk Road Theatre Project), One Fine Day (Stage Left Theatre), and The Night Season (Vitalist Theatre). He received a Joseph Jefferson Nomination for his performance in City Lit’s production of Old Times. Over the course of the last 25 years he has worked with such companies as Writers Theatre, Next Theatre, American Blues Theatre, Circle Theatre, The Hypocrites, and many others.

  • Lucy Carapetyan (Marian Halcombe)

    Lucy is happy to be back at Lifeline, where she was last seen in Wuthering Heights. In Chicago she has appeared with Steppenwolf, Griffin, Steep, Caffeine, Dog & Pony, House, The Building Stage, New Beast Theatre Works, and Theatre Seven, where she’ll be appearing in American Stormlater this Fall. She teaches and performs with the Actors Gymnasium and serves as the Education Programs Manager for Two Pence Theatre Company. Lucy is a graduate of Northwestern University and is represented by Paonessa Talent.

  • Anita Deely (Eleanor Fosco, Mrs. Clements)

    Anita is so happy to make her Lifeline debut with The Woman in White. She last appeared in Master and Margarita at Strawdog (ensemble member), Louis Slotin Sonata with A Red Orchid Theatre, and Aunt Dan and Lemon with BackStage Theatre Company. Anita’s recent adventures as a dialect coach include Old Times at Strawdog and Pornography and Under the Blue Sky at Steep Theatre Company. Next up: Big Love at Strawdog, directed by Matt Hawkins, opening in April 2013.

  • Robert Kauzlaric (Sir Percival Glyde; Adaptor)

    Robert is a proud member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble. As an actor, he has appeared in fifteen productions on this stage, including Around the World in 80 Days (Non-Equity Jeff Awards: Supporting Actor-Play and Ensemble), The Killer AngelsThe Mark of Zorro (After Dark Award: Outstanding Production), Busman’s Honeymoon, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Other area acting credits include work with Seanachaí Theatre Co., Strawdog, Greasy Joan, the Hypocrites, Goodman Theatre, City Lit, Circle Theatre, Theatre at the Center, and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. As a playwright, he has written over a dozen theatrical adaptations which have been produced all across the U.S., as well as in Ireland, England, and Canada. Past Lifeline scripts include The Island of Dr. Moreau (Non-Equity Jeff Awards: Best Production-Play and New Adaptation), Neverwhere (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation), and The Moonstone.

  • Loretta Rezos (Jane Catherick, Mrs. Michelson, Mrs. Vesey)

    Loretta is excited to make her first appearance with Lifeline Theatre. Most recently she was seen in the Jeff Recommended The Pitmen Painters(TimeLine Theatre). A former ensemble member of Strawdog Theatre, she was seen there in The Master & MargaritaImpossible MarriageDetective Story (Non-Equity Jeff Award: Ensemble), and Julius Caesar. She has also worked with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, About Face Theatre, and Greasy Joan and Co., among others. Regional credits include Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre (MI), Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Fort Worth Shakespeare in the Park, American Musical Theatre, and Theatreworks. Television: Lipstick Jungle (NBC). She holds an MFA in acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University

  • Maggie Scrantom (Laura Fairlie, Anne Catherick)

    Maggie is thrilled and honored to be making her Lifeline Theatre debut. She recently appeared in As You Like It with Two Pence Shakespeare, Steel Magnolias with St. Sebastian Players, El Stories with Waltzing Mechanics, and completed the protégé program with Shattered Globe Theatre. She recently received a BA with Honors in Theatre and Literature from the University of Iowa. She is a proud member of Waltzing Mechanics, a documentary theater company, and will appear next in their world premiere of Over My Dead Body.

  • Christopher M. Walsh (Count Fosco)

    Chris has been a member of Lifeline Theatre’s artistic ensemble since 2010. He has been seen on the Lifeline stage in HungerWatership DownNeverwhereTreasure IslandBusman’s Honeymoon, and The Mark of Zorro. Chris made his debut as an adaptor with Lifeline’s fall 2011 production of The Count of Monte Cristo, and will write Lifeline’s winter 2013 show, The City & The City. Other recent acting credits include The Duchess of Malfi (Strawdog Theatre), Louis Slotin Sonata (A Red Orchid), Bloody Bess: A Tale of Piracy and Revenge (Backstage Theatre), Journey’s End (Griffin Theatre), and The Hound of the Baskervilles (City Lit). Chris studied acting at Columbia College and is a continuing student at Black Box Acting Studio.

  • Greg Wenz (Professor Pesca, Louis)

    Greg is extremely thrilled to be making his debut at Lifeline Theatre after admiring their work for several years. He last appeared as The Herald in Marat/Sade with Right Brain Project. Recent Chicago credits include: F*cking A (UrbanTheater Company), Boy in Black (Chicago Fusion Theatre), My Filthy Hunt (Right Brain Project), Suburbia and Eiffel Tower Wedding Party: Radio Silence (The Nine). Since arriving in 2006, Greg has performed with several other Chicago companies including: Profiles, Prop, Theatre Seven, Victory Gardens, Halcyon, Circle and Rooms among others. He is a member of SAG/AFTRA and hold a BFA in Acting from Ohio University.

  • Marsha Harman (Understudy)

    Marsha is delighted to be working with the fine folks at Lifeline. She has been a company member with New Leaf Theatre, where she appeared in ArcadiaBurying Miss AmericaSix Years, and the Jeff-nominated ensembles of As It Is In HeavenThe Permanent Way, and The Dining Room. She has performed with the Plagiarists and WNEP and has told stories at SKALD, The Moth StorySlams, and This Much Is True.

  • Andrew Marikis (Understudy)

    Andrew makes his Lifeline Theatre debut with The Woman in White. Chicago credits include The Shadow of a Gunman at Seanachaí Theatre, Marisol and Trouble in Mind at The Artistic Home, and Tartuffe and The Tempest at Bohemian Theatre Ensemble. Other regional roles include Arsenic and Old Lace and Measure for Measure with Great Lakes Theater Festival; Measure for Measure (M4M) as Lucio and Mariana, and The Rocky Horror Show as Brad at The Cleveland Public Theatre. Andrew graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College in 2004 with degrees in Theatre and English and he is a frequent featured storyteller at StoryClub.

  • Megan M. Storti (Understudy)

    Megan is delighted to be with Lifeline Theatre for the first time. Most recently, Megan appeared with The Right Brain Project in Marat/Sade. Chicago credits include understudy tracks in As You Like It at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, as well as performances in A Christmas Carol(Metropolis PAC), Romeo & Juliet, (Glass Onion Theater), and Titus Andronicus (DreamLogic Theaterworks). Regional credits include: Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis (The Taming of the Shrew), Illinois Shakespeare Festival (The Three MusketeersAs You Like ItMerry Wives of Windsor), Phoenix Theatre (Rhythms) and Putnam County Playhouse (A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

  • Elise Kauzlaric (Director)

    Elise has worked with Lifeline since 1998 and has been a member of the artistic ensemble since 2005. At Lifeline, she has directed Pride and PrejudiceWuthering HeightsMariette in Ecstasy (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination: Direction), Arnie the Doughnut, and The Emperor’s Groovy New Clothes (2001); adapted The Velveteen Rabbit and Half Magic; coached dialects for numerous productions; and appeared onstage in NeverwhereQueen LuciaTalking it OverStrong Poison, and many others. Outside of Lifeline, she directed Seanachaí’s production of Dancing at Lughnasa, has dialect coached numerous shows around Chicago, and has appeared onstage at The Goodman Theatre, Apple Tree, City Lit, Circle Theatre, First Folio Shakespeare Festival, and Griffin Theatre, where she received a Non-Equity Jeff Nomination for Supporting Actress for On the Shore of the Wide World.

  • Katie Adams (Stage Manager)

    Katie excitedly returns to Lifeline on another Wilkie Collins adaptation; she was the stage manager for The Moonstone two years ago. Other productions with Lifeline include last season’s Hunger and The Count of Monte Cristo. Katie is a freelance stage manager around Chicago, and has also worked with companies including Steep Theatre Company, Prologue Theatre Co., and the Chicago Humanities Festival, since graduating from Northwestern University.

  • Aly Renee Amidei (Costume Designer)

    Aly is pleased to be working with Lifeline again after designing Watership Down and The Count of Monte Cristo. She is also a member of Strawdog Theatre Company, where this fall she will be designing the costumes and makeup for Pontypool and designing Big Love in the spring. Aly is the Artistic Director of WildClaw Theatre and is designing costumes and props for Clive Barker’s The Life of Death, opening in October. She will also be performing as one of the foley artists in WildClaw’s Fifth Annual Deathscribe Horror Radio Play Festival in December. Aly works as the Costume and Makeup Coordinator at the College of Dupage and has designed for Seanachaí, Artistic Home, Collaboraction, House Theatre of Chicago, Vitalist, and Lakeside Shakespeare. In her copious spare time, Aly dabbles in playwriting, draws comic books, and knits like the wind.

  • Jessica Brown (Specialty Artwork)

    Jessica is incredibly honored to be collaborating with the amazing crew at Lifeline Theatre for the first time. She received her BFA with honors in illustration at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia, PA. She is also a freelance illustrator.

  • 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.

  • Alan Donahue (Scenic & Properties Designer)

    Alan has designed over 180 theatre/opera/dance productions over thirty years of nationwide practice — productions ranging from the intimate and environmental to grand scale multi-set spectacles. He has also produced more than additional 160 designs for industrial theatre, trade shows, video, museums, and themed public and commercial spaces. But his artistic home for the last 22 years has been Lifeline Theatre. Alan 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 and Two Bad Bears and Eileen Spinelli’s Sophie’s Masterpiece: A Spider’s Tale for KidSeries. Come October, Alan heads for Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO to supervise the installation of his designs a new musical adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life which will play through November and December as a companion piece to Dickens’ Christmas Carol at the theme park.

  • Kevin D. Gawley (Lighting Designer)

    As a freelance lighting/scenic designer, Kevin’s work has appeared on many Chicago stages, including Lifeline Theatre, where he won the Non-Equity Jeff Awards for his designs of The Island of Dr. Moreau and Jane Eyre, the After Dark Award for his design of Strong Poison, and has been an ensemble member since 2001. Kevin was also nominated for Non-Equity Jeff Awards for his lighting designs of Lifeline’s productions of HungerTreasure Island, and Neverwhere. Kevin was the theatrical lighting designer on the feature film, Were the World Mine. His work also appeared in numerous productions at the Bailiwick, Organic, Porchlight, OperaModa, Blindfaith, Theatre on the Lake, Metropolis, StoreFront, Loyola University Chicago, Revels Chicago, Midwest Jewish, Taylor University, and at the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival theatres. Kevin is currently the Lighting and Scenic design professor at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and has taught Lighting Design and Technology courses previously at Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Jordan Kardasz (Assistant Lighting Designer)

    Jordan is thrilled to be working with the awesome folks at Lifeline yet again, having lit Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and How to Survive a Fairy Tale, and assisted on Hunger last year. Jordan is a native Chicagoan and has been working in the city since 2008 after receiving her MFA from Ohio State University. Recent design credits include The Gacy Play (Sideshow), Goodbye Cruel World (Strange Tree), and The Duchess of Malfi(Strawdog). Jordan is proud to be an ensemble member with Strawdog and an artistic associate with Sideshow.

  • Christopher Kriz (Original Music & Sound Designer)

    Christopher works nationally as a composer and sound designer. Previous Lifeline credits include Pride and Prejudice and The Count of Monte Cristo(Non-Equity Jeff Nominations: Original Music and Sound Design). In Chicago, Chris has designed for companies including Northlight, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens and TimeLine. Recent Chicago credits include The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (Steppenwolf Theatre), Black Pearl Sings (Northlight Theatre), I Am Going To Change The World (Chicago Dramatists), After The Revolution (Next Theatre), Crooked (Rivendell Theatre), and Opus (Redtwist Theatre), for which he received a Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best Sound Design. Regional credits include The Nerd (Peninsula Players), Fall Of The House (Theatre Squared), and the national tour of America Amerique (Jena Company). Upcoming productions include The Letters (Writers Theatre), The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre), and Creditors (Remy Bumppo). Chris is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829.

  • Rebecca Munley (Assistant Director)

    Rebecca is thrilled to be assistant directing at Lifeline. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern University’s theatre program, where she directed multiple productions including Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)After Miss JulieThe Days Ahead (a world premiere), and a staged reading of her own adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (done in collaboration with Lookingglass’s David Catlin).

  • Greg Poljacik (Violence Designer)

    Greg has been working as a teacher and choreographer for over a decade. He has been instrumental in the training of thousands of theater students and professionals worldwide and has provided award-winning choreography for over two dozen theater companies in Chicago. Currently Greg teaches stage combat at The Second City Training Center in Chicago, the International Stunt School, and works as a Sword Cutler, producing the best stage weapons in the industry, for Rogue Steel. Greg has also been a guest lecturer at Columbia University Chicago, and asked to teach at Regional workshops across the U.S., including co-coordinating the largest stage combat conference, the Winter Wonderland Workshop. He is a teacher with the United Stuntmens Association, a member of the Society of American Fight Directors, AGMA, and Asylum Stunts. All of his work in the art of stage combat follows the principles of “Safety, Story, Substance.”

  • Maren Robinson (Dramaturg)

    Maren is thrilled to return to Lifeline Theatre after having served as dramaturg for Pride and PrejudiceHungerThe Moonstone, and Neverwhere. She is also dramaturg for the current production of 33 Variations at TimeLine Theatre, where she was recently made a company member. Maren was an artistic intern at Steppenwolf Theatre. She also has worked with Strawdog, Eclipse, Caffeine, Greasy Joan and Camenae theaters. She holds a master’s degree in humanities from the University of Chicago. She has taught or lectured at the Newberry Library, the Chicago Public Library and various Chicago universities. Maren is a member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.

  • Joe Schermoly (Technical Director)

    Joe is a set designer, technical director and painter. His design work has been seen around Chicago at Lifeline Theatre (The Count of Monte CristoThe Moonstone), Griffin (No More Dead DogsPortThe Constant Wife), Strawdog (Master and MargaritaRichard III), Sinnerman Ensemble (Sweet Confinement), Eclipse (The Trestle 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 for his design work in Chicago.


From Chicago Theater Beat

Lifeline offers a mesmerizing mystery about identity
September 18, 2012
By Katy Walsh


As the leaves change and the temperature drops, I long to curl up with a good book. I want to be completely engrossed in another world, another time, another life. With all the multiple distractions vying for my attention, *curling up* turns into stolen reading moments: a chapter during the drying cycle, a few pages on the bus, a paragraph at bedtime. The less-than-immersion experience is detaching and dissatisfying. If I really want to curl up with a good book, I’ve found Lifeline Theatre is my best bet.

Lifeline Theatre presents the world premiere of The Woman in White. Laura falls for her art teacher, Walter. But she is betrothed to Sir Percival Glyde. So, she honors her deceased father’s pledge and marries Sir Percival. Too late, she realizes her marital arrangement was all about money. She is the prize in a collusion by the men she trusted. How does she escape this marital trap? Who can she trust? What secrets will kill? Death, drugs and dementia will change everything. The Woman in White is an intriguing mystery about identity.

The marital team of Robert (adapter) and Elise Kauzlaric (director) bring this gothic thriller, penned by Wilkie Collins, to the stage. Robert masterfully condenses the plethora of information into tasty morsels. He keeps the dialogue crisp. Robert often uses letters read by one character to segue into a flashback performed by other characters. Elise takes Robert’s script and streamlines the action. Elise fluidly paces scene transitions by effectively using every space of the iron-rod, functional and whimsical set by Alan Donahue. The scenery gets the shrouded gloom treatment with fog, lightening, thunder and fire by the design team (Kevin Gawley’s lighting and Christopher Kriz’ sound). And Violence Designer Greg Poljacik orchestrates gasp-worthy incidents with unexpected and authentic fight scenes. All the essential elements are present for bestseller entertainment. And under Elise’s direction, this talented ensemble is bound and determined to captivate.

The entire cast pulls the audience into the tangled heap of secrets and compels us to sort out the facts. In the lead, Maggie Scrantom (Laura/Anne) plays both her parts with distinction. In one scene, Scrantom is a lovely but tortured bride. Moments later, she is a deranged escapee. Even physically, Scrantom goes from sweet demure to gnarled loon. Anchoring the show as the primary narrator, Lucy Carapetyan (Marian) provides the sensibility factor. Carapetyan endears with her sisterly commitment. A dashing Ryan-Reynolds-doppelganger, Nicholas Bailey (Walter) charms as the steadfast hero. The gallant Bailey has the certifiably swoon-worthy factor of old Harlequin romance novels. And bringing his signature scene-stealing hilarity, Christopher M. Walsh, no relation, (Count) plays haughty and cruel with mustache twirling elegance.

Have I read any good books lately? Yes! I curled up with one at Lifeline Theatre yesterday. The Woman in White is the perfect Autumn getaway!



From Time Out Chicago

September 20, 2012
By Kris Vire


Whether or not you’ve read the source material, two aspects of Wilkie Collins’s 1859 detective novel come through loud and clear in Robert Kauzlaric’s new adaptation: the original’s serialized publication and its epistolary format. Characters in Collins’s complex, sensationalized tale of beautiful innocent Laura Fairlie (Maggie Scrantom) and her mysterious white-clad doppelgänger (Scrantom again) are constantly relating new information to one another via post, and there’s a new mini cliff-hanger every other minute or so.

Walter Hartright (Nicholas Bailey), a dashing young artist, is retained to provide drawing lessons to Laura and her doting spinster half-sister Marian (Lucy Carapetyan). Walter finds Laura the spitting image of the raving woman in white with whom he’s just had a rattling encounter; he and Laura fall in love, but she’s promised to one Sir Percival Glyde (Robert Kauzlaric). The connections among Glyde, his menacing associate Count Fosco (Christopher M. Walsh) and Laura and her look-alike, and the necessity of Walter and Marian to come to Laura’s rescue, flesh out the pulpy tale.

Elise Kauzlaric’s staging employs clear, creative use of Alan Donahue’s scenic design to delineate multiple settings, and her cast is terrific. Lifeline newcomers Bailey and Scrantom make an appealing pair (or is that trio?) of ingenues, and Carapetyan helps turn a thankless role into an independent-woman prototype. Still, the script remains a bit static, modeled as it is on the letters’ past-tense narration. The second act, following Collins in wrapping up first-act plot points one by one, feels overlong until a rousing climax.



From Windy City Times

September 26, 2012
By Mary Shen Barnidge

When the first thing we see onstage is a beautiful and distraught young woman on the run, either we are in the realm of pulp noir, or Victorian neo-gothic — in this case, early Victorian, circa 1859, its structure relying heavily on epistolary narrative, serialized episodes and long introspective soliloquies. Playgoers with well-developed cognitive stamina will embrace these elements, but those with short attention spans are probably better off sticking with Downton Abbey.

Lifeline Theatre’s stock-in-trade is the reconfiguration of literary epics to the restrictions of modern artistic practice, likewise enlightened sensibilities and the company’s elevator shaft-shaped stage. To this end, Robert Kauzlaric’s adaptation retains the motifs of Wilkie Collins’ seminal novel — geographical and meteorological phenomena reflecting its heroes’ dispositions, strict adherence to the minutiae of English legal and social codes, and a sybaritic villain with a penchant for small domesticated animals (the prototype for Sydney Greenstreet et al.). A major revision lies in the decision to have the rescue operation implemented in significant degree by a character not romantically tied to the lady-in-distress — specifically, the victim’s half-sister, the resourceful and courageous Marian, whose gender introduces a sexual element to the evil Count Fosco’s professed admiration for his adversary.

Thus, while Nicholas Bailey and Maggie Scrantom make a suitably attractive pair of sweethearts, the heavy-lifting duties rest on the spun-steel shoulders of Lucy Carapetyan as the forthright Marian, whose defiance of Christopher M. Walsh’s oily Fosco generates a David-against-Goliath frisson to induce shivers of excitement. Author Kauzlaric, stepping into the role of the ruthless Sir Percival Glyde at the last minute, delivers another of his reliable reptilian turns, while Anita Deely, Loretta Rezos, Don Bender and Greg Wenz portray an array of sharply-defined auxiliary personnel. Alan Donahue’s scenic design suggests locales ranging from shadowy urban alleys to lonely country estates, as does Victoria DeIorio’s plucked-strings score of incidental music, providing an evocative environment for labyrinthine secrets leading to desperate deeds that Elise Kauzlaric’s direction keeps briskly forthcoming.

Indeed, so briskly did the deft ensemble pace themselves on opening night (with the exception of Fosco’s too-leisurely final confession) that often continuity was sacrificed to efficiency — but the story’s individual components should soon find their correct place in the dramatic scheme to emerge a suspense-filled thriller to satisfy all-ages fans of the genre.



From Chicago Critic

Early detective tale still clues in audience
September 18, 2012
By Beverly Friend


Although he wrote 30 novels, Wilkie Collins is best remembered for The Woman in White — and deservedly so. This Victorian melodrama, never out of print since its 1859 publication and cited as the first “sensational novel,” inspired and laid the groundwork for later detective and suspense fiction, utilizing many of the techniques of the hero/sleuth.

Adapted by Lifeline Theater ensemble Member Robert Kauzlaric, this newest incarnation captures all the twists and turns of the original via expected action enhanced by delicious monologues that echo Collins epistolary style. This version of The Woman in White provides a worthy addition to Lifeline’s dramatic specialization of original literary adaptations.

As the evil, bombastic Count Fosco, Christopher M. Walsh — a Peter Ustinov look-alike — nearly steals show with his finely delivered, uninterrupted speeches. In a story with as many layers as the preverbal onion, Walsh’s skill at varied — often quite humorous — presentations prevent the plot from degenerating into more tell than show. There is plenty of show, but the telling — which covers time lapses and behind-the-scenes episodes — skillfully moves the complicated story along.

The story (in a nutshell) deals with not one, but two rather fragile women garbed in white (both played by winsome, virginal Maggie Scrantom): Anne Catherick has just escaped from an insane asylum; Laura Fairlie needs to escape from her disastrous, arranged marriage. Two bonds link these women: an amazing physical resemblance, and their victimization by fortune hunter Sir Percival Glyde (Kauzlaric) and his opera-loving sidekick Fosco.

Laura’s practical, forthright half sister Marian Halcombe (Lucy Carapetyan) and the sincere, worthy young man who truly loves her, art teacher Walter Hartright (Nicholas Bailey), seek to protect the girls — but the odds are stacked against all three in this dark tale of love, marriage, greed and a mysterious secret.

The story was partially inspired by an 18th century tale of abduction and wrongful imprisonment and includes two of Collin’s favorite themes: mistaken identity and the misuse of lunatic asylums. The cast was outstanding. Greg Wenz opened the show as colorful, pixyish Professor Pesca, emoting with a wonderful Italian accent and determined to repay Hartwright for saving his life. Don Bender, Anita Deely, and Loretta Rezos, in multiple roles, were uniformly first-rate as is the staging. Lifeline never ceases to amaze with what it can accomplish in such limited space — from calm drawing room to amazing church conflagration.

The Woman in White, which has inspired theater, film, TV and everything from an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical to a comic strip, now takes a worthy place on the Chicago Theater Scene.