Soon I Will Be Invincible

May 29 – July 19, 2015
Thu & Fri at 7:30pm, Sat at 4pm & 8pm, Sun at 4pm
(No performances July 4th)

“★★★ Nerdy good fun… very teen-appropriate, college-friendly… combines the tropes of the musical with the language of futurism — near-futurism — in a very striking and original fashion… a very fun and fresh night”  –Chicago Tribune

“Fresh and engaging… Walsh demonstrates his grasp of voice, a deft hand with dialogue as exposition and the ability to poke fond, good-natured fun at some of the excesses and tropes of a beloved genre.”  –Edge Chicago

“Rousing ensemble numbers and impressive production elements”  –Chicago Reader

The devious Doctor Impossible has escaped from prison and legendary superhero CoreFire has vanished without a trace. With the fate of the world in their hands, the New Champions have mere hours to recover their fallen comrade and stop their arch-nemesis before his doomsday device is complete. Joined by Fatale, a cyborg with an arsenal of deadly hardware and a host of self-esteem issues, the mighty super-team must face their darkest hour – and the truths buried in their deeply troubled pasts. A thrilling new musical about power and identity set in a vibrant world of heroes and villains, in a world premiere adaptation based on the 2007 novel by Austin Grossman.

A world premiere based on the contemporary superhero story by Austin Grossman 
Adapted by Christopher M. Walsh 
Music & Lyrics by Christopher Kriz 
Directed by Paul S. Holmquist

Highlights from Soon I Will Be Invincible. Music by Christopher Kriz. 

  • Christina Hal (Fatale)

    Christina is ecstatic to return to the Lifeline stage, where previous projects include Click, Clack, MooDuck for President; and The Dirty Cowboy. Other Chicago credits include Patsy Cline in Always, Patsy Cline(Non-Equity Jeff nominations: Best Actress-Musical and Best Revue) with Theo Ubique; Madeline True in The Wild Party (Non-Equity Jeff nominations: Best Ensemble and Best Musical) with Bailiwick Chicago; Maria/Itchy in Mr. Burns: a Post-Electric Play with Theatre Wit; as well as work with Goodman Theatre, Strawdog, Porchlight, Interrobang Theatre Project, Kokandy Productions, BoHo, Promethean, Emerald City, and Muse of Fire. Christina holds a B.F.A. in Acting from Southern Methodist University.

  • Frederick Harris (Mr. Mystic, Baron Ether)

    Frederick is happy to be making his Lifeline debut! Recent credits include Hands on a Hardbody (William Street Rep Theatre), They’re Playing Our Song and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Beverly Arts Center Chicago). Frederick is also a company member with Barrel of Monkeys Theatre and can be seen alongside Madame Barker in different venues throughout the city.

  • Jason Kellerman (CoreFire, Nick Napalm)

    Jason is thrilled to be involved in his first Lifeline Theatre production. When not fighting evil one punch at a time, Jason can be seen working at other Chicago houses — he recently played Mackers at Transcendent Ensemble Theater, was a Tribesman in Hair at ATC, played Damis in Tartuffe at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, understudied Maz in The Knowledge at Steep, and many others. He’s a Northwestern University MT program graduate. Jason also runs a small production company that just produced its first independent feature, and was a co-star on ABC’s Betrayal.

  • Tommy Malouf (Blackwolf)

    Tommy is super excited to make his Lifeline debut with Soon I Will Be Invincible! Chicago credits: The Last Five Years (u/s, performed; Metropolis Theatre); Extremities (Dominican University). Tommy received his B.A. in Theatre Education at Illinois State University in December of 2013. He is represented by Lily’s Talent.

  • Corrbette Pasko (Damsel)

    Corrbette is thrilled to make her Lifeline Theatre debut. Other chicago credits include Alice! (Upended Productions); Pluto is Listening (InFusion Theatre); All the Fame of Lofty Deeds (House Theatre); Take the CakeThe League of AwesomeDead WrongSiskel & Ebert Save ChicagoBustin’ Out of the HellGIs in EuropeTop Shelf…(Factory Theater); We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!Absurd Person Singular, and Vieux Carre (Will Act For Food). She is an ensemble member and Marketing Director with The Factory Theater, and has written three plays with the company with Sara Sevigny. Zombie Broads, the latest collaboration, will open Fall 2015.

  • Sarah Scanlon (Elphin)

    Sarah is thrilled to be making her Lifeline Theatre debut. Throughout Chicago she has been seen on stage, in the air, or playing music with Factory Theater, Redmoon, WildClaw, The Building Stage, The Mammals, and Babes with Blades, among others, and is also an artistic associate with the Strange Tree Group. Most recently she played Hulda in Akvavit Theatre’s Blue Planet. Regional and international credits include projects with The American Repertory Theatre, The Kalamazoo Symphony, The NY Fringe, and the Moscow Art Theatre. She holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the American Repertory Theatre and The Moscow Art Theatre School.

  • Phil Timberlake (Dr. Impossible)

    Phil has appeared on the Lifeline stage in Pride and Prejudice (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination: Best Supporting Actor), NeverwhereBusman’s Honeymoon (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination: Best Supporting Actor), The Island of Dr. Moreau (Non-Equity Jeff Award: Best Production), Queen Lucia (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination: Best Supporting Actor-Musical), and The Two Towers. Other Chicago acting credits include First Folio Shakespeare (Romeo & JulietThe Tempest), Apple Tree (Violet), and Shaw Chicago (Misalliance). He is an Associate Professor of Voice and Speech at the Theatre School, DePaul University. Phil joined the ensemble in 2006.

  • Justine C. Turner (Lily)

    Justine is happy to return to Lifeline, having previously appeared as Jade/Carborundum in Monstrous Regiment. She is an ensemble member of Strawdog Theatre, where her favorite rolls include Laura/Harry in Miss Marx, the Duchess in The Duchess of Malfi, and Margarita in The Master and Margarita. She has previously worked with Writers’ Theatre, Goodman Theatre, TimeLine, the Den, City Lit, Factory, Defiant, Famous Door, Rivendell, Noble Fool, and Journeymen. She was a founding member of Crew of Patches Theatre Co. and The Plagiarists. She has appeared on Chicago Fire and will be seen this fall in Spill at TimeLine Theatre. She is represented by Shirley Hamilton, Inc.

  • Taryn Wood (Rainbow Triumph)

    Taryn is thrilled to be working with Lifeline! She is an Artistic Associate with Underscore Theatre and Fine Print Theatre Co. Once a month she produces the Uncommon Cabaret in conjunction with Underscore Theatre Company, of which she is the Company Manager. Chicago credits include: Boy Small and Christmas in Chicago (Fine Print Theatre Company), Snow White and the Seven Drag Queens (Midtangent Productions), and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Underscore Theatre Company).

  • Andres Enriquez (Understudy)

    Andres is honored to return to Lifeline Theatre. Previously, he understudied for The Velveteen Rabbit with Lifeline’s KidSeries. His past Chicagoland credits include Jack/Doctor in The Art of Disappearing (16th Street Theater), Frankie in Plaid Tidings (Beverly Arts Center Theater), Kipps in The Woman in Black (Fox Valley Repertory), and Porter in The Life and Death of Madame Barker (Red Tape Theater). He received an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Iowa, and is a proud company member of the Barrel of Monkeys. He is represented by Gray Talent Group.

  • Anthony Kayer (Understudy)

    Anthony is thrilled to be back at Lifeline with this amazing group of people! Other Lifeline credits include Jane EyreLyle Finds His MotherThe Emperor’s New Threads, and Arnie the Doughnut. Chicago credits include: R&J: a techno ballet (inappropriate theatre), SITA RAM (Chicago Children’s Choir/Lookingglass), Iphigenia 2.0 (Next Theatre), The March(Steppenwolf), and Elizabeth Rex (Chicago Shakes). Anthony is an alumnus of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and a proud ensemble member of The inappropriate theatre co.

  • Kate McDermott (Understudy)

    Kate returns to Lifeline after monkeying around with the cast and crew of Lions in Illyria. She also appeared at Lifeline in the recent concert reading of Pride and Prejudice (Caroline Bingely, etc), and the extension of Jane Eyre. Other Chicago credits: Imogen in Cymbeline (First Folio); Elvira in Blithe Spirit and Beggit in Bah, Humbug! (Piccolo Theatre); and part of the clown duo Bubble & Trubble (Custer Street Fair). Regional credits: OthelloAs You Like ItRomeo and Juliet, and Twelfth Night (Illinois Shakespeare Festival)

  • Maureen Mizener (Understudy)

    As a recent graduate of the M.F.A. Acting program from The Theatre School at DePaul, Maureen is delighted to be making her Chicago theatre debut! Being the youngest of three with two older brothers, it is no wonder she’s grown up an epic comic/sci-fi nerd. That being said, Maureen is unbelievably excited to be working with Lifeline Theatre and this truly invincible cast.

  • Flavia Pallozzi (Understudy)

    Flavia is not wearing hockey pads, but she is insanely excited to be a part of this incredible collaboration. She is a recent graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and since then has had the joy of working with the Quotidian Collective for the Chicago Fringe Festival, Spartan Theatre Group, and the Chicago Shakespeare Project. She is from Miami, FL, where she first saw the 1989 film, Batman, and tried to live the life of a masked vigilante, but then realized acting was more reliable.

  • Christopher M. Walsh (Adaptor)

    Christopher is a proud member of the artistic ensemble at Lifeline Theatre. He was nominated for a Non-Equity Jeff Award for his adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities, and won the Bloody Axe Award for his horror radio play Fracture Zone. Other Lifeline writing credits include The City & The City and The Count of Monte Cristo. His one-act play The Hunters will be presented as part of WildClaw Theatre’s horror anthology Motel 666. Acting credits at Lifeline include Monstrous RegimentThe Three Musketeers, and The Woman In White. Other recent acting credits include The Hammer Trinity and Season on the Line with The House Theatre of Chicago, and Street Justice: Condition Red with The Factory Theater. In 2016 he will make his Lifeline directorial debut with Midnight Cowboy.

  • Christopher Kriz (Composer, Lyricist, Sound Designer)

    Christopher is an award-winning composer and sound designer based in Chicago. Previously for Lifeline, he designed Pride and Prejudice (Non-Equity Jeff nomination), The Count Of Monte Cristo (Non-Equity Jeff nomination), The Woman in White (Non-Equity Jeff nomination), Monstrous RegimentThe City & The City, and Jane Eyre. In Chicago, he has designed for Steppenwolf, Writers Theatre, Northlight, Victory Gardens, TimeLine, Theatre Wit, First Folio, and dozens of others. For his work in theatre, Christopher has been honored with 11 Joseph Jefferson Nominations and 2 Awards, most recently nominated for Cicada (Route 66) and Mill Fire (Shattered Globe). Christopher is a proud member of United Scenic Artists 829.

  • Paul S. Holmquist (Director)

    Paul joined the ensemble in 2006 and has staged the Lifeline MainStage productions of The Island of Dr. MoreauBusman’s HoneymoonNeverwhereThe Moonstone, and The Count of Monte Cristo; and KidSeries shows Rikki Tikki TaviFlight of the DodoNaked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, and The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost. Other directing credits include The Constant Wife and The Robber Bridegroom (Griffin), Under Milk Wood (Caffeine Theatre), Winter (Akvavit Theatre), and The Dead Prince (Strange Tree Group). Paul holds a B.F.A. in Acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University and a Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis from Columbia College Chicago.

  • Becky Bishop (Stage Manager)

    Becky returns to the Lifeline bat-cave for the 2nd time this season after the fall production of Jane Eyre. Other productions at Lifeline include last summer’s Monstrous Regiment and The City & The Cityin 2013. Previous works elsewhere in Chicago include The Dead PrinceThe Half Brothers Mendelssohn, and Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play (Strange Tree); Robber BridegroomLetters HomeOn the Shore of the Wide WorldStage Door (Griffin Theatre); Under the Blue Sky (Steep); Under Milk Wood (Caffeine Theatre); Ape (Dog & Pony); and Suicide Inc. (The Gift). She received her BA in Theatre and English from Winona State University. She has been a freelance stage manager in Chicago since 2006.

  • Aly Renee Amidei (Costume Designer)

    Aly is a proud ensemble member of Lifeline Theatre, where she has previously designed costumes for One Came HomeThe Three MusketeersThe Count of Monte CristoThe Woman in White, and Watership Down. She is also the artistic director of WildClaw Theatre and an ensemble member at Strawdog. Her costume and makeup designs have been seen at Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Irish Theatre of Chicago, Buffalo Theater Ensemble, Stage Left, Artistic Home, House Theater, Piven Workshop, and Vitalist Theater. She currently works as the costume and makeup coordinator for the College of DuPage Theater and Dance department but will be moving on this Fall to be the Assistant Professor of Costume Design at University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She will be the adaptor and costume designer for next season’s Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters and the costume designer on Northanger Abbey.

  • Heather Currie (Assistant Director)

    Heather is a proud Lifeline ensemble member where she was most recently seen as Ma and Mrs. Garrow in One Came Home and Mrs. Fairfax in Jane Eyre. Other Lifeline Theatre credits include Click Clack Boo! A Tricky TreatClick, Clack, Moo: Cows That TypeDooby Dooby MooDuck for President (2008 and 2012); and How To Survive a Fairy Tale. Last summer, Heather was the Wicked Witch in WOZ: A Rock Cabaret at Victory Gardens Theater. Heather holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and teaches in the department of Cinema Art + Science at Columbia College Chicago as well as the Motion Picture and Television department at College of DuPage. Heather can also be heard singing many Saturday nights in The Nitz and Howe Experience at Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret.

  • Alan Donahue (Scenic & Properties Designer)

    Alan has designed numerous Lifeline shows over the last 20+ years. Most recently, he designed scenery and properties for One Came Home. Away from Lifeline he is providing designs for the Silver Dollar City Harlem Globetrotters Show in Branson and his design for Stage Left’s All’s Well That Ends Well played at Theatre Wit in April and May. He received a Broadway Theatre World Chicago award for his 2014 scenic design (Resident Equity Theatre) for Avenue Q at the Mercury Theatre Chicago. Alan adapted Donald E. Westlake’s Trust Me on This and Adam Langer’s Crossing California for the Lifeline MainStage and Daniel Pinkwater’s Bongo Larry & Two Bad Bears and Eileen Spinelli’s Sophie Masterpiece: A Spider’s Tale for the KidSeries. In Fall 2015, he’ll create the environs for Miss Buncle’s Book.

  • Jason A. Fleece (Dramaturg)

    Jason is pleased to be working with Lifeline for the first time. Jason is the Associate Artistic Director of Stage Left Theatre, where he most recently served as dialect coach on their production of All’s Well That Ends Well. Primarily a director, Jason most recently directed Ordinary Days at BoHo Theatre. Other favorite directing credits include WarpedEnemy of the People (Stage Left Theatre); Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Sweeney Todd (Oakton Performing Arts Center). Jason received his M.F.A. in Directing from the Theatre School at DePaul University in 2007.

  • Matt Hawkins (Fight Choreographer)

    Matt is a Chicago-based director, actor and fight choreographer. He currently teaches Musical Theater Techniques and Musical Theater History at Northwestern University, and Movement and Stage Combat at Loyola University. Hawkins holds a B.F.A. in Acting from Southern Methodist University and an M.F.A. in Directing from The University of Iowa.

  • Becca Jeffords (Lighting Designer)

    Becca is thrilled to join Lifeline to bring Soon I Will Be Invincible to the stage. She is a freelance lighting designer based in Chicago. She received her M.F.A. in Lighting Design from Northwestern University and her B.F.A. in Production Design from Columbus State University. Recent Chicago designs include: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (Porchlight Music Theatre); A Nice Indian Boy(Rasaka Theatre); The 2014 Winter Pageant (Redmoon Theatre); HoliDAZE 2014 (Step-Up Productions); The Three Faces of Dr. CrippenThe Dead PrinceHalf-Brothers Mendelssohn, and Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play (Strange Tree Group); Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money (Chicago Children’s Theatre); Hello Failure and What to Listen For (the side project).

  • Laura McKenzie (Music Director)

    Lifeline credits include The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! (Music Director), the upcoming Sparky! (Composer/Lyricist), and Meg Murray in A Wrinkle in Time. Previous music directing credits include Hey! Dancin’! Hey! Musical! (Factory Theater); That’s Weird, Grandma (Barrel of Monkeys;) and Beer (Neo-Futurists). Laura was half of the comedy facemelt duo The Laura On Laura Comeback Tour and is currently an ensemble member with Barrel of Monkeys and Factory Theater.

  • Mikey Moran (Sound Engineer)

    Mikey is a Chicago-based composer, sound designer, engineer, and musician. He has worked with Victory Gardens, A Red Orchid, The Gift, Teatro Vista, Kokandy Productions, The Den, Collaboraction, Mary-Arrchie, Jackalope, Emerald City, Trap Door Theatre, Factory Theater, and WildClaw Theatre, among others. He has been honored with two Jeff Award nominations, winning one. In addition, he performs in orchestra pits on a variety of instruments. Mikey holds a B.F.A. in Sound Design from The Theatre School at DePaul University.

  • Kate Reed (Assistant Stage Manager)

    Kate is thrilled to be working with Lifeline Theatre again after serving as assistant stage manager for Jane EyreMonstrous Regiment, and One Came Home. Her previous stage management credits include The Duchess of MalfiBye Bye Birdie, and Amadeus (Northwestern University Theatre and Interpretation Center); The Xylophone West (Fine Print Theatre Co.); Much Ado About Nothing (Lovers and Madmen); and The God of Hell (Spectrum Theatre Company). She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Performance Studies.

From the Chicago Tribune

Nerdy good fun and a self-doubting cyborg in this new musical at Lifeline Theatre
June 12, 2015
By Chris Jones

★★★ (Out of 4)

Like journalists and NBA stars, superheroes may look like they align to save the world, but they’re actually an internally competitive bunch. And on what grounds does the average cyborg compete? It’s not so much built-in weaponry or fighting chops. No, everyone has those tricks. What really matters in any super-hierarchy is a really good origin story. If you can’t spin a great tale of whence you came, your brand is as limited as your leadership potential. Hillary Clinton and a host of Republican rivals are all worrying about the very same issue right now.

Fatale, the weirdly lovable central character in the Austin Grossman novel “Soon I Will Be Invincible,” operates at the command of the leaders of the world — who rely on an elite squad of superheroes to keep us all out of trouble. But she actually spends more time thinking about where she stands on the good-versus-evil scale than actually doing anything useful for others. As played by the superb Christina Hall in this new, nerd-friendly musical — the book is by Christopher M. Walsh and the amusingly intense score by Christopher Kriz — the angst-ridden cyborg is too smart for her own good, realizing early on that she is a slave to her own code, and thus may be a traitor if someone with nefarious intent first wrote her story, and there will be nothing she can do. There is a good chance, she thinks, that the codewriter was none other than the arch super villain, Dr. Impossible. So how can she fight him? With himself?

And you thought you had problems.

Fatale, like much of this very teen-appropriate, college-friendly, oldster-teasing show at the Lifeline Theatre, has a sense of humor, as does Mr. Mystic (Frederick Harris), the down-to-earth Damsel (Corrbette Pasko) and the rest of the crew, excluding Elphin (Sarah Scanlon), an annoying 900-year-old elf who prattles on about special favors from Titania. At one point Fatale dryly suggests that no one ask her to update their iPhone, being as she’s built on an android platform. If that kind of tech-support humor tickles your operating system, then “Soon I Will Be Invincible” is your ticket.

But this is no simple parody. Fatale’s identity crisis struck me as not that far from potential reality, assuming we build robots like her with enough emotional intelligence to question their own purpose and wonder about their birth parents, or birth programmers, anyway. I don’t know. Maybe you have to be flesh and blood to want to know your beginnings, although I swear I hear the same sadness, sometimes, in Siri. And on the other side of the great divide, Phil Timberlake’s gaunt Dr. Impossible spends about half his time trying to destroy the world and its super-heroic protectors, and the other half wondering if anything is worth so much bother. At one point, we see the self-reflective and empathetic villain in Starbucks, which he explains by pointing out that, on some days, you just don’t feel evil, but you do feel like a cappuccino.

Timberlake also is consistently fascinating in this show: his character knows it’s all smoke and mirrors, this super villain business: “In street clothes,” he says with a shrug, “I’d just be a criminal.”

I should note that “Soon I Will Be Invincible,” which is directed by Paul S. Holmquist, has a certain stiffness and a general lack of fluidity in the staging and the music is taped, which is unfortunate, since it lends a pre-packaged air to a show that otherwise is all about characters wanting to understand their present and act with spontaneity. Or what passes thereof, if your are robotic.

But if everyone picked up the pace a bit and took the air out of the transitions — surely a superhero can lose 10 minutes of indulgence in Rogers Park — this show has considerable potential, not least because it combines the tropes of the musical with the language of futurism — near-futurism — in a very striking and original fashion. I had a great time watching all these needy super whatnots act out their angst.

“Who’s a hero?” whines Fatale. “Who programmed who?” Good questions for a very fun and fresh night.

From Around the Town Chicago

June 11, 2015
By Carole Moore

★★★★ (Out of 5)

I love Lifeline Theatre because their plays are always brilliantly staged original adaptations of interesting books including some of my all-time favorites – “Neverwhere”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Busman’s Honeymoon”, “Jane Eyre” and “Monstrous Regiment” among others. This year, Christopher Walsh’s musical adaptation of Austin Grossman’s “Soon I Will Be Invincible” brings superheroes to the Lifeline stage, a summer treat not to be missed. Get your tickets now.

Lifeline’s set (Alan Donahue) and lighting (Becca Jeffords) designers have done a masterful job with the challenge of staging/set design for some special superheroes who are traversing the known universe. What looks like a wall – and occasionally the cosmos – turns out to be much more. A doorway halfway up reveals the evil Dr. Impossible (Phil Timberlake) in prison; an odd-shaped panel drops down to form a ramp; another panel goes transparent to reveal Dr. Impossible lurking; floor-level doors at each side allow the cast to enter and exit. With the addition of another ‘ramp/table’ on the wall, battles can be fought. Director Paul S. Holmquisrt has his actors using every inch of stage and ramp, plus the stairs in the middle of the audience.

An exhibit in the lobby outlines Costume Designer Aly Renee Amidel’s development of each character’s unique superhero look. All of the Champions have bright, colorful costumes, except for Mr. Mystic (Frederick Harris), who wears a rather boring black suit.

The Champions – legendary CoreFire (Jason Kellerman), heroic Blackwolf (Tommy Malouf), Damsel (Corbette Pasko), who likes to state the obvious, Elphin (Sarah Scanlon), the last fairy left on earth, Rainbow Triumph (Taryn Wood), a former child prodigy/hero and Mr. Mystic who manipulates magic – have locked Dr. Impossible into an ‘escape proof’ prison. By the way, the overpowering music made it difficult to hear the words of the “Prologue”.

Ten years later, CoreFire has vanished and is thought dead. Fatale (Christina Hall), an insecure cyborg, is the newest recruit reporting to the Champions. Since she has little or no self-esteem – after all, she weighs 500 pounds, can’t sit in a chair that’s not specially reinforced, and she can’t find anything to wear. She thinks her new costume, designed especially for her body, is the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

After Dr. Impossible escapes from prison, the brilliant and totally evil scientist dons a red and gold costume. He loves to swish his gold cape and make snarky comments. He’s going to build a weapon with which can destroy the world, but he’s going to have to travel around the galaxy gathering a few things he needs first.

As Fatale, who is equipped with super-enhancements, is training with the other Champions, another new recruit joins them. Lily (Justine C. Turner) has a history – she was Dr. Impossible’s accomplice in the past, but she’s been reborn as a cyborg dedicated to good. In an epic battle, the two empowered female cyborgs manage to defeat Dr. Impossible.

From The Fourth Walsh

June 9, 2015
By Katy Walsh

The phrase rolling through my head since seeing this show is ‘commercial appeal.’ I can easily see this innovative musical mounted on Broadway and becoming a family tourism destination. It has super heroes battling a super villain while struggling with their super identities. There’s comedy, drama, and singing. It’s “The Incredibles” meets “X-Men” with a “Wicked”-esque soundtrack.

The show starts with the Champions, a band of super heroes, saving the world. The super ensemble arrive on stage in perfect harmony. They are clad in distinct and ingenious costumes (Designer Aly Renee Amidei). The colorful spectacle pops on Scenic Designer Alan Donahue’s slick, industrial backdrop. I’m already so engaged with these Champions a character’s selfless act during “The Prologue” number makes me go ‘awwww.‘

Adapter Christopher Walsh (no relation) writes like he acts zinging the one liner. Walsh keeps the book tight with plenty of comedy. And Director Paul S. Holmquist paces it for optimal action and laughs. The deliciously diabolical Phil Timberlake (Dr. Impossible) especially nails the humor. Timberlake steals many scenes with his over-the-top evil shenanigans. At one point, during his dastardly plans, he hilariously takes time out to discuss his costume choices. The entire ensemble gets Walsh’s humor and their energetic spirit is playful. Leading the good guys with confident moxie, Corrbette Pasko (Damsel) often drops the public super hero facade for the comedic barb. When annoyed, Pasko rips on her ex by referring to him by his real name and not his super hero alias.

This show is funny! It’s also heartfelt. Christopher Kriz (music and lyrics) has composed a powerful score with inspirational lyrics befitting a super hero existentialist crisis. The outstanding Christina Hall (Fatale) perfectly sings her cyborg heart out. Hall earnestly questions her origin story and her Champion membership. The “What I was” duet, with the mysterious Justine C. Turner (Lily), is a beautiful and soulful introspection. Kriz also penned a haunting song called ‘Lily.’ Initially, Timberlake sings it with unexpected tenderness for a bad dude. Later, Turner captivates by reprising it. Kris mixes these ballad moments in with we-are-going-to-kick-some-ass anthems. The combination is dynamic! There is a lot to love about this show and Kris’ music is #1.

What I appreciate about Lifeline is the element of surprise. They don’t just stay with what they do best (for me, I love their classic adaptations). They step out of their familiar offerings. They’ve done action-oriented plays. And they’ve done musicals. Now, they are doing an action-packed musical. SOON I WILL BE INVINCIBLE is invincible! I want to see it again!

From Edge Chicago

June 9, 2015
By Christine Malcom

As a debut novel Austin Grossman’s “Soon I Will Be Invincible” was a fresh and engaging enough entry into a crowded genre that its ambition made amends for most of its flaws. The same is true of Lifeline Theatre’s adaptation into a musical stage play.

Christopher M. Walsh’s adaptation, directed by Paul S. Holmquist, hits the ground running in a rousing prologue. As The Champions battle giant robot spiders, and lose one of their own, Walsh demonstrates his grasp of voice, a deft hand with dialogue as exposition and the ability to poke fond, good-natured fun at some of the excesses and tropes of a beloved genre.

The whole of the two-hour play makes good on the strength of that first scene. Yes, there are moments where plot and character development are accelerated to the point that they fly by before the audience can really digest them, and yes we’re still getting origin stories immediately before the story’s climax. But rather than feeling artificial or the result of insufficient attention to structure, they read as part of the workaday life of the characters.

In some ways, Walsh’s adaptation surpasses the novel. Grossman, by his own admission, finds his villain, Dr. Impossible, more compelling than the up-and-coming cyborg heroine, Fatale. One downstream effect of this is gendered: Dr. Impossible is the hero of his own story, while Fatale is stripped of hers by the accident that gave rise to her powers and thus more of a passive reporter of the stories of the Champions.

Not limited by Grossman’s device of two alternating first-person narrators (Impossible and Fatale), Walsh develops some characters (most notably Damsel, the leader of the Champions) and dynamics among them more fully, to the credit of the play.

That said, the friendship between Fatale and Lily Dr. Impossible’s former partner in crime who joins the New Champions at the same time, remains under-explored. Similarly, the parallels between Fatale’s formal function in the story and Lily’s true origin, in which her superpowers are an indirect result of her dissatisfaction with the role of the plucky reporter who tells her boyfriend’s story, don’t garner as much attention as they might have.

The glimpses we do get of the greater possibilities for building this world and these characters on stage and the aspects that are unsatisfying draw attention to the choice to adapt the novel as a musical.

Christopher Kriz’s synth-driven, percussion heavy music is enjoyable, the lyrics are solid, if not especially memorable, and the cast are capable singers. But most of the songs are more or less expository soliloquies. They’re serving much the same function as the dialogue, rather than deepening what we know about the characters and the plot or conveying complexities more efficiently. Given that, it’s hard not to wonder if the story might have been better served if adapted as a straight play.

As is typical for Lifeline, the show looks great. Alan Donahue’s scenic design covers the upstage wall with black scrim, with studded “beams” breaking the expanse into fractured trapezoids that suggest the panels in a graphic novel.

The only downside of this choice is that the great-looking projections were sometimes hard to see against the dark fabric. This was unfortunate, as far from simply remaining static to establish the scene, they’d ripple or pulse or “activate” in some other way, in conjunction with sound and lighting cues (great design on both fronts by Christoper Kriz and Becca Jeffords, respectively, and sound engineering by Mikey Moran) to denote powers being deployed, magic taking effect, and so on, a very cool idea that I wished I’d been able to see better.

Elevated ramps behind the scrim give the set the necessary suggestion of descending deep into a structure or climbing high as necessary. One panel lowers at an angle like drawbridge, providing a ramp down, a shift in topography or the entrance to a new, strange and dangerous space. Matt Hawkins’ fight choreography works well in the space, making it seem larger than it is.

Aly Renee Amidei’s costume design does a good job of capturing a mixed-age sensibility and nods to the characters that inspired Grossman. Damsel’s costume combines Golden Age Wonder Woman with Big Barda, back when she still wore clothes; Black Wolf appropriately blends Batman and Wolverine; and Rainbow Triumph playfully mashes up Harley Quinn with Rainbow Brite. There were a few clunky choices, like Fatale’s pre-costume blaster flashlight and Baron Ether’s look that didn’t quite work, but on the whole Amidei pulls off an impressive and crucial aspect of the show.

The cast are all very good in individual performance and as a fractured group trying to hold itself together. Phil Timberlake leads the way, having an absolute ball in the role of Dr. Impossible. He plays the humor with expert instincts and never forgets that the villain is absolutely the hero of his own story.

As Fatale, Christina Hall has to do some fancy emotional footwork, combining bluster with hero worship and complete dislocation from her own identity and very body. She’s quite good, though the show itself doesn’t quite give the time needed to some of her emotional beats. The same holds true for Justine C. Turner’s Lily. Her reserve has an interesting, mournful undertone that never quite finds its moment.

Corbette Pasko is a standout as Damsel. She’s a capable, believable leader with a healthy sense of humor and just the right amount of petty to keep the character three-dimensional. Tommy Malouf distills the tragedy and comic flaws of the characters that inspired Black Wolf without ever venturing into imitation of any of a half dozen well-known performances he might have gravitated toward.

In the supporting cast, Taryn Wood (Rainbow Triumph), Sarah Scanlon (Elfin), Frederick Harris (Mr. Mystic and Baron Ether) and Jason Kellerman (CoreFire, Phenom, Nick Napalm) all do solid work inhabiting characters that clearly have back story and clear intentions at any given moment.

From the Reader

June 9, 2015
By Suzanne Scanlon

There’s a lot happening in this musical adaptation of Soon I Will Be Invincible, the 2007 superhero novel by Austin Grossman. Fatale (Christina Hall) is the newest superhero to join the New Champions, an amusing crew that includes cyborgs, fairies, and a magician. A parallel story line follows the villain, Dr. Impossible (a charming Phil Timberlake), whose camped-up pathos makes it fun to watch as he’s eventually defeated in his quest to bring on a new ice age. There are many interludes for backstory, a by-product of the overloaded plot (it might help if you’ve read the book first), and no doubt more editing and focus would help this adaptation. Still, there are rousing ensemble numbers and impressive production elements, including clever costumes and a cool set with a descending plank.