Lyle Finds His Mother

March 22 – April 27, 2014 (No performances April 20)
Saturdays & Sundays at 11am & 1pm

“A sensitive lens with which to explore adopted family dynamics… [and] a singing, dancing, juggling, hula-hooping, jump-roping, gymnastic showcase for five dynamic performers.”  –New City

“[A] delightful musical adaptation of Bernard Waber’s beloved 1974 book… Lifeline knows how to please kids and grown-ups with multileveled humor”  –Chicago Reader

Lyle loves his life with the Primms in the house on East 88th Street. But everything changes when Hector P. Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen, returns with an offer to take Lyle to meet his mother in the land of the crocodile. Should Lyle trust the devious showman? And will his adopted family understand his desire to meet his birth mother? Travel the world on a journey of hilarity and heart in this world premiere musical.

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

Based on the beloved classic by Bernard Waber 
Adapted by Jessica Wright Buha 
Music and lyrics by Michael James Brooks 
Directed by Dorothy Milne

Excerpt from Lyle Finds His Mother. Music & Lyrics by Michael James Brooks.

  • Linsey Falls (Mr. Primm, Hector P. Valenti, Zach)

    Linsey is thrilled to pieces to be making his debut with Lifeline Theatre. His past work includes Chicago productions such as Factory Theater’s Namosaur (TigerAss/Cohort Doctor); Prop Thtr’s Slaughter City (Sausage Man), Drumming in the Night (Glub), and Debris of the Prophet (Athiest Gunman); Akvavit Theatre’s A Summer’s Day (Man); CityLit Theatre’s The Sign of the Four (Abdullah Kahn/Jameson) and Frankenstein (Karl, Constable, Judge); and Adventure Stages Chicago’s Ghosts of Treasure Island (Tom Morgan). This Summer Linsey can be seen around Chicago with his 2-Man comedy team of time-traveling vaudevillians, The Gentlemen Follies.

  • Anthony Kayer (Lyle)

    Anthony is excited to be back at Lifeline where he was seen as Huckster/Preen/Dad in The Emperor’s New Threads and Mr. Bing in Arnie the Doughnut. Other 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 alumnus of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and a proud ensemble member of The Inappropriate Theatre Company

  • Deanna Myers (Mrs. Buncher, Rose, Lyle's Mother)

    Deanna is super excited to be a part of Lifeline’s season again! Last year, she was seen in The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost as Auntie Hick/Widow Mole and The Three Musketeers as Constance. Other Chicago credits include 4000 Miles (Steppenwolf: First Look), The Golden Dragon(Sideshow Theatre), El Stories (The Waltzing Mechanics), as well as work with Pavement Group, Redmoon Theatre, the Inconvenience, Plasticene, and Paola Coletto. Deanna is also a proud member of Catharsis Productions, Barrel of Monkeys, Stir-Friday Night, and Paonessa Talent Agency.

  • Erin O'Shea (Mrs. Primm, Cotton Candy Lady, Theresa)

    This is Erin’s first performance with Lifeline, and she is thrilled to be a part of Lyle Finds His Mother! She has worked with Griffin Theatre (Stage DoorNo More Dead DogsThe Stinky Cheese Man), Black Ensemble Theatre (The Other CinderellaFrom Doo Wop to Hip Hop), Evanston Light Opera Works (The Student Prince), and Redtwist, among others. Erin is also a founding member of Awkward Pause Theatre where she has appeared as Lucy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; Janet in Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show; and Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors.

  • Brian Tochterman Jr. (Joshua)

    Brian is delighted to be making his Lifeline Theatre debut as the precocious Joshua in Lyle Finds His Mother. He was recently seen in LiveWire Theatre’s short play festival, VisionFest 5. Brian was also very active on stage during his four years at Loyola University Chicago, where he was featured in productions of UrinetownMeasure for MeasureInto the Woods, and many more. He graduated from Loyola last May with a BA in theatre.

  • Chris Ballou (Understudy)

    Chris is thrilled to be returning to Lifeline Theatre after appearing in Pride and Prejudice. Chris is currently touring Romeo & JulietMacbeth, and Julius Caesar throughout the Chicago area with A Crew of Patches Theatre. Other Chicago credits include: AmadeusVeronica’s Room and Tartuffe (BoHo); Twelfth NightAmadeusHenry IV (parts I & II), Henry VBeyond the Fringe, and Seascape (Oak Park Festival Theatre). Regional: King Lear (Stonetown Theatre), Les Miserables and Alice in Wonderland (Mt. Baker Theatre). Film: The Mountain Runners. Chris studied Shakespeare performance through BADA at Oxford University and theatre at Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Chris will next appear in Monstrous Regiment at Lifeline.

  • Jessica Wright Buha (Adaptor)

    Jessica is excited to make her Lifeline playwriting debut! Locally, her writings have been performed by Filament Theatre Ensemble (Moon Rhymes), WildClaw Theatre (Alabama Mermaid, winner: Deathscribe 2011), and the Whiskey Rebellion (Wake: A Folk OperaKodachrome Telephone). She is a proud member of the Lifeline Storytelling Project, a group of Lifeline-affiliated artists performing monthly at the Red Line Tap. Upcoming writing projects include War Song, to be performed by the Plagiarists in March 2014, and an adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses, to be performed by the Whiskey Rebellion in June 2014.

  • Michael James Brooks (Composer, Lyricist, Sound Designer)

    Michael is incredibly grateful to return to Lifeline Theatre after having previously designed sound for The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Regionally, his credits have included the original score for the ethnographic play Seven Passages, as well as design for The TempestElizabeth Rex, and Sense and Sensibility. He has received a Kennedy Center Achievement Award for his score of the US Premiere of Disciples, written by former Hungarian National Playwright Andras Visky. Michael also writes and performs with Chicago piano-rock band, Common Shiner.

  • Dorothy Milne (Director)

    Dorothy has directed over twenty productions at Lifeline, receiving a Non-Equity Jeff Award (Direction) for Around the World in 80 Days and Non-Equity Jeff nominations (Direction) for Pistols for TwoJane Eyre (for which she also received an After Dark Award), Strong Poison, and Gaudy Night. Outside of Lifeline, she recently directed Little BrotherStardust, and No More Dead Dogs for Griffin Theatre. Previously, she received an Equity Jeff Nomination for her direction of Eleemosynary at Interplay Theatre Company. Dorothy also writes and performs with Sweat Girls, leads The Lifeline Storytelling Project, and co-curates The Fillet of Solo Festival.

  • Katie Messmore (Stage Manager)

    Katie is thrilled to return to Lifeline, where she last stage managed The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost and The Three Musketeers. Her past stage management credits in Chicago include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Griffin Theatre) and the 2014 Fillet of Solo Festival. Some of her favorite shows she has worked on are Bernarda Alba (diected by Kimberly Senior) and Equus (directed by Cody Estle). Katie received her Bachelor of Arts in Technical Theatre with an emphasis in Stage Management from Columbia College Chicago.

  • Alan Donahue (Scenic & Properties Designer)

    Alan is pleased to return to the world of Lyle, having previously designed the Lifeline production of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile a few years back. Previous to this show, he designed lighting for Lifeline’s revival of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, and in December, Remy Bumppo Theatre mounted his scenic design for An Inspector Calls. Alan is an ensemble member of Lifeline, where his designs for The Little SisterJane Eyre (2001), Around the World in 80 DaysMariette in Ecstasy, and Neverwhere received Non-Equity Jeff Awards. For Lifeline, he has also adapted 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 Bearsand Eileen Spinelli’s Sophie Masterpiece: A Spider’s Tale for the KidSeries. Come late March, his scenic design for Cheaper by the Dozen will come to life at Fox Valley Repertory Theatre and in April he creates the environs of Avenue Q at the Mercury Theater.

  • Erin Gallagher (Costume Designer)

    Erin is thrilled to be making her Lifeline Theatre design debut. Her recent Chicago area design credits include: Maskarade (Vox3 Collective); The Mystery of Irma Vep (Piccolo Theatre); Rites & SacrificesEnchanted April, and Lonesome Hollow (Idle Muse); The Big Night and Count Me In(Evanston Dance Ensemble); and Unsung Stars (Moving Dock Theatre). Erin also designs and constructs her own line of upcycled handbags, jewelry and wearable art pieces under the name of Erin Rose Design.

  • Danny Osburn (Lighting Designer)

    Danny Osburn is a Chicago-based lighting designer and electrician. He is honored to be making his design debut at Lifeline. Recent design credits include My Son Pinocchio Jr.(Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School), Good Thing (The Poor Theatre), Teeny Travel Takes a Trip (Coriolis Theatre Company), and The Testing Fields (Gorilla Tango). On the technical side of lighting, Danny is the Master Electrician here at Lifeline. Each summer he also serves as the Assistant ME for Northwestern University’s Cherubs program. Other ME credits include How to Succeed… (Porchlight Music Theatre), The Pride (About Face Theatre), and Spoon River (Provision Theatre).

  • Joe Schermoly (Technical Director)

    Joe is a set designer, technical director and a company member with Griffin Theatre. His design work has been seen at Lifeline Theatre (The Count of Monte CristoThe City & The City), Griffin Theatre (Spelling BeeFlare PathPunk RockNo More Dead DogsPortConstant Wife), Theatre Wit (Completeness), Seanachaí (The Seafarer), Strawdog Theatre (Duchess of MalfiMaster and MargaritaRichard III), Sideshow Theatre (IdomeneusThe Ugly One), Eclipse (Beyond the HorizonThe 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 and two Jeff Nominations.

  • Benjamin W. Dawson (Production Manager)

    Prior to coming to Chicago, Ben 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 Pine Box Theater and WildClaw Theatre; as Technical Director for Haven Theatre and The Strange Tree Group; and as the Scene Shop Foreman at Goodman Theatre. In addition to his work with Lifeline, Ben is also a Company Member and the Production Manager for Sideshow Theatre Company and the Assistant Technical Director for Lookingglass Theatre Company.

From New City

March 24, 2014
By Nora Durkin


If the best way to determine the success of a children’s play is by the quiet smiling faces of its audience, then Lifeline Theatre’s performance of “Lyle Finds His Mother” hits its mark. A story of a domesticated crocodile in search of his wild crocodile mother provides a sensitive lens with which to explore adopted family dynamics. Director Dorothy Milne and playwright Jessica Wright Buha, in her debut adaption for the company, transform Bernard Warber’s somewhat plodding 1974 book into a singing, dancing, juggling, hula-hooping, jump-roping, gymnastic showcase for five dynamic performers.

Speaking only squeaky crocodile, with the occasional English soliloquy, Anthony Kayer’s Lyle, in his frumpy green crocodile costume, is probably enough to keep most childrens’ eyes glued to the stage. Lyle’s best friend Josh (Brian Tochterman Jr.) is the perfect id-free 8 year old whose broad, gangly movements welcome the actual 8 year-olds into the world of the stage. Strong performances by Linsey Falls, Deanna Myers and Erin O’Shea provide the movement of the plot and highlight the more poignant aspects of this progressive children’s book.

There’s more than enough humor to keep the laughs rolling, but not at the expense of the more subtle, emotional aspects of the story. Particularly moving is a late scene in which the two mothers come face to face and realize their shared experience of loving their crocodile son. While this moment lingers, it is saved from sappiness by the highly animated Falls and his mad dash between characters up to the final curtain. With a brisk one-hour running time, my 3 year-old only broke his concentration to ask when Lyle would be back on stage.

From the Chicago Reader

March 25, 2014
By Suzanne Scanlon


At the start of this delightful musical adaptation of Bernard Waber’s beloved 1974 book, Lyle the crocodile, a retired vaudevillian who can still turn cartwheels and dance a mean soft shoe, lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his best friend, Joshua, and the exceedingly happy Mr. and Mrs. Primm. Lyle teaches Joshua crocodile language, and Josh challenges Lyle to a kazoo battle. All is well until the sneaky has-been Hector P. Valenti, onetime “star of stage and screen,” lures Lyle back into show business. Valenti’s schemings eventually lead Lyle to his crocodile mother, and one of the many highlights here is an adorable acrobatic mother-son reunion song and dance. Lifeline knows how to please kids and grown-ups with multileveled humor, and this show celebrates springtime, mothers, and (not least of all) idiosyncrasy.