The Velveteen Rabbit

EXTENDED through December 7th, 2014!
Saturdays & Sundays at 11am & 1pm

4 STARS… Sad, happy, thought-provoking for all ages… the lesson it teaches is timeless”  –Chicago Stage Standard

RECOMMENDED… Elise Kauzlaric’s adaptation preserves the best of Williams’s text, and Jessica Kuehnau Wardell’s inspired costumes add considerable charm.”  –Chicago Reader

RECOMMENDED… An affable and vibrant staging”  –New City

One Christmas morning, a shy stuffed bunny enters the world of a young boy’s nursery. Initially ignored in favor of more modern toys, she waits patiently to be noticed, wondering if she will ever be loved like the others. When the wise old Skin Horse reveals the majesty and mystery of what it means to become Real, the Velveteen Rabbit begins an odyssey of the heart to make a lasting connection with her boy that will endure for always. Return to a simpler time with this heartwarming story about the transformative power of love. Based on the classic 1922 book by Margery Williams.

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

Based on the beloved classic by Margery Williams 
Adapted by Elise Kauzlaric 
Directed by Amanda Link 
Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (

Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit

  • Christopher Acevedo (The Boy)

    Chris is so thrilled to be making his Lifeline Theatre debut, and working with such a wonderful group of artists. Previous Chicago credits include: Romeo & Juliet and White Tie Ball (Teatro Vista), Big Love (Strawdog Theatre—Jeff Recommended), The One Minute Play Festival (Victory Gardens), Salome (Right Brain Project), An Actor Prepares (University of Chicago), as well as work with American Theatre, Urban Theater, Tympanic Theatre, Genesis Ensemble, Teatro Luna, Pavement Group, Collaboraction, Red Tape, The Ruckus, and the side project. He is a proud founding member of Tympanic Theatre and an Artistic Associate with Genesis Ensemble.

  • Jamie Cahill (The Velveteen Rabbit)

    Jamie is truly honored to be joining the Lifeline Theatre family! She was last seen earlier this year at The Music Theatre Company as Little Alice / Patty / Dancer in a new works production entitled (Suadade: Dreams and Longing). She recently graduated from Chicago College of Performing Arts with a BFA in Musical Theatre.

  • Mykele Callicutt (The Skin Horse)

    Mykele is so happy to be performing with Lifeline Theatre for the very first time! Recent credits include Half Price Cosmos (The Athenaeum Theatre); SPARK (Adventure Stage Chicago); and Red Kite, Brown Box (Chicago Children’s Theatre). Mykele is a BFA graduate from UIC School of Theatre & Music and is proudly represented by Big Mouth Talent.

  • Danielle Davis (Model Boat, Doctor)

    Danielle is thrilled to be making her Lifeline Theatre debut! Other Chicago credits include Spark and Six Stories Tall with Adventure Stage Chicago, where she is an Associate Artist; From Doo Wop to Hip Hop and Aint No Crying the Blues…Howlin’ Wolf (Black Ensemble Theater); The Wiz and Nunset Boulevard (Theatre at the Center); Leader of the Pack and Jesus Christ Superstar (Big Noise Theatre). She has also worked with TimeLine Theatre and Quest Theatre Ensemble. She holds a BFA in Acting from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.

  • Jenna Schoppe (Toy Soldier, Nana)

    Jenna is proud to make her Lifeline debut in The Velveteen Rabbit. Previous Chicago credits include Pal Joey (Porchlight Music Theatre), Hey! Dancin! Hey! Musical! (Factory Theater), Monty Python’s Spamalot (Nightblue Performing Arts), Reservoir Dogs (Roundhouse Productions), and Pirates of Penzance (Tall Ship Windy). Jenna holds a BFA in acting from Drake University.

  • Andres Enriquez (Understudy)

    Andres is very honored to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the first time on this amazing project. He has previously worked with Red Tape Theater (Life and Death of Madame Barker), Provision Theater (Sleeping Beauty), Fox Valley Repertory (Forever PlaidThe Woman In Black) and AlphaBet Soup Productions (Aladdin). He has also worked at Shawnee Theater in Indiana, and most recently at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. He will be making his debut at 16th Street Theater in January of 2015.

  • Parker Guidry (Understudy)

    Parker is excited to be working on his first show at Lifeline! He is a recent graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He was last seen in Eclectic Full-Contact Theatre’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Emerald City’s Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, and Billy Pacholski’s Assassins.

  • Shannon Nishi (Understudy)

    Shannon is thrilled to be working at Lifeline for the very first time! Originally from the Denver area of Colorado, she graduated in May from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Regional: The King and I, Country Dinner Playhouse (Englewood, CO). Favorite roles include Miss Flannery in Thoroughly Modern Millieand Lampito in Lysistrata Jones at CCPA.

  • Elise Kauzlaric (Adaptor)

    Elise has been a member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble since 2005. In addition to The Velveteen Rabbit, her KidSeries work includes her adaptation of Half Magic, direction of Arnie the Doughnut and The Emperor’s Groovy New Clothes, and appearances onstage in My Father’s DragonMrs. Piggle-WiggleHen Lake, and Bunnicula. She has directed many MainStage productions, including A Tale of Two CitiesPride and Prejudice, and Mariette in Ecstasy, and also works as an actor and dialect coach at Lifeline and other theatres around Chicago.

  • Amanda Link (Director)

    Amanda joined the Lifeline Theatre ensemble in 2013. At Lifeline, she directed The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, and has appeared in Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky TreatDuck For PresidentHow To Survive A Fairy TaleDooby Dooby MooMrs. Piggle-WiggleHalf Magic; and many performances with the Lifeline Storytelling Project. She also choreographed and assistant directed The Emperor’s New Threads, assistant directed and did movement design for The City & The City, and assistant directed Pride and Prejudice. Other Chicago credits include work with Factory Theater, Griffin Theatre, the side project, and The Mill.

  • Ellen Willett (Stage Manager)

    Ellen is glad to be back with the Lifeline KidSeries. Previous Lifeline Theatre credits include Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky TreatHow to Survive a Fairy TaleClick, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (2010); Dooby Dooby MooDuck for President (2008 and 2012); Mrs. Piggle-WiggleTalking It OverHalf MagicCrossing CaliforniaSophie’s Masterpiece; and Strong Poison. In addition, she has worked with American Blues Theater, Adventure Stage Chicago, The Inconvenience, Steep Theatre, Strawdog Theatre Company, and many more. She also serves on the board of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and volunteers with Houndsong Rescue fostering beagles and coonhounds.

  • 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.

  • Diane D. Fairchild (Lighting Designer)

    Diane is thrilled to be returning to Lifeline again this season. Her work with the team on A Tale of Two Cities last season earned her a Non-Equity Jeff Award. Design credits include productions at Rivendell, Next, BoHo, Raven, Babes with Blades, TimeLine, Northlight, Chicago Dramatists, City Lit, Redmoon, Court Theatre, INTIMAN, Trinity Rep, Wheaton College, and the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. She is a proud member of USA829, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, an Artistic Affiliate with BoHo Theatre, an Artistic Associate of Next Theatre, and part-time faculty at The School of the Art Institute Chicago.

  • Amanda Herrmann (Props Master)

    Amanda is happy to return to Lifeline after working on The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! last season. Previously, she has worked at Peninsula Players, American Blues Theatre, Paramount Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Victory Gardens and Silk Road Rising. Amanda is a graduate from Ripon College in Ripon, WI.

  • Anthony Ingram (Sound Designer)

    Anthony is very happy to be back at Lifeline after having most recently designed sound for The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! (2014). Previous designs for Lifeline include Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky TreatDuck For President (2012); How To Survive A Fairy Tale; and Dooby Dooby Moo. As the resident Sound Designer and Production Manager at Signal Ensemble Theatre, Tony has worked on a majority of their productions, including Aces1776AftermathThe Ballad Of The Sad Cafe, and Seascape. He has also worked with Shattered Globe Theatre, Bailiwick, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, and The Right Brain Project. Tony is the Technical Associate for The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago.

  • Michele Lilly (Scenic Designer)

    Michelle returns to Lifeline Theatre after designing for Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat last season. She has lived and worked in Chicago since 2005. She spent four years as New Leaf Theatre’s resident scene designer, five years as Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Technical Assistant in scenery, and a semester as a Teaching Artist with Lifeline Theatre. Locally, she has also scene designed for A Red Orchid Theatre, Emerald City Theatre, the side project, Theatre Seven of Chicago, TUTA Theatre, The Springfield Muni, and the Springfield Theatre Center. Michelle has also assistant designed for productions at The Court Theatre, Drury Lane, Chicago Shakespeare, and Milwaukee Rep.

  • Jessica Kuehnau Wardell (Costume Designer)

    Jessica is a freelance scenic/costume designer, teacher and artist in Chicago. She is happy to return to the KidSeries at Lifeline, having previously designed costumes for Stuart LittleThe Stinky Cheese Man; and Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. Her Chicago design credits include Hypocrites, Steep, Rivendell Theatre, Griffin Theatre, A Red Orchid, 16th Street Theatre, Pegasus Players, Circle Theatre, and Metropolis Performing Arts Center. Jessica is a founding ensemble member of Adventure Stage Chicago and an artistic associate with MPAACT. Earning her MFA from Northwestern University, Jessica is currently the Director of Theatre Design at University of Chicago.

  • 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.

From Chicago Stage Standard

October 19, 2014
By Sally Jo Osborne

4 Stars Out Of 4

Ok, so I was told to bring tissues with me and sure enough I forgot. Sad, happy, thought provoking for all ages (over the age of 5), Lifeline Theatre presents The Velveteen Rabbit based on the children’s novel written by Margery Williams adapted by Elise Kauzlaric and directed by Amanda Link. Although the story was written in 1922, the lesson it teaches is timeless. Are you for REAL?

Lifeline does a fabulous job with creative costumes by Jessica Kuehnau Wardell and a simple yet effective set by Michele Lilly. The story comes alive with Christopher Acevedo as The Boy, Jamie Cahill as The Velveteen Rabbit, Mykele Callicutt as The Skin Horse, Danielle Davis as The Model Boat and Doctor, and Jenna Schoppe as the Toy Soldier and Nana. They also play dual roles as other rabbits in the woods.

Very creative, innovative and heartwarming this tale has you captivated for 50 minutes without an intermission nor would you want one.

A young boy receives a stuffed velveteen rabbit on Christmas morning and briefly plays and admires it before moving on to the modern toys that are more fun to play with because they wind up and do things that a stuffed animal just doesn’t do. His room is filled with toys that have survived the years and one of those toys is the Skin Horse who was passed down from his uncle. The Skin Horse is wise and always tells the truth and one day he tells the rabbit about how toys become Real because they are loved so much from children. Rabbit only hoped that one day she would be REAL and get to spend the time and have fun with the little boy. “REAL isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL.”

One evening the young boy could not find his stuffed animal friend that he always sleeps with and his mother gave him Rabbit to sleep with instead. Rabbit was thrilled and not only did they spend that night together, but many, many more days and nights playing and having fun. Rabbit becomes the boy’s favorite toy and he even referred to Rabbit as REAL. The wise Skin Horse said, “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

As time passes, rabbit becomes shabby and older but very is a very happy heir. While in the woods one day he meets some real rabbits who were hopping and playing and they asked Rabbit to join them. Rabbit did not want to for she was content just sitting down. The other rabbits accused her of not being REAL. Rabbit knew she was REAL but then started to question herself if she really was. Rabbit realized that the young boy was not feeling well and went home leaving the rabbit in the woods by herself. His mother, Nana, trekked out to the woods to find Rabbit and brought her back safe and sound.

The young boy was in bed when they got home and had become very, very sick. Rabbit stayed by his side the whole time until his fever broke and until he was fully recovered. Doctor’s orders were to send the young boy to the seaside for fresh air and Rabbit was so excited to be able to go with him. The doctor also ordered that everything in the room should be thrown away and burned in order to disinfect the area. Nana (mother) took everything in the room outside, including Rabbit, to be destroyed. (Ummmm… tissue time).

The very sad Rabbit reflected on the time spent with his best friend and cried a REAL tear which dropped to the ground. Suddenly she transforms into a REAL rabbit and is able to hop and run and play with all the other rabbits in the forest. Rabbit knew for sure that she was REAL! The next season the young boy returned to the forest and notices Rabbit and sees a very familiar looking old friend who resembles his velveteen rabbit. Rabbit was REALLY happy and so was the boy.

As I reflected upon this story for the past 24 hours I came to a REALIZATION. It does take a long time to become REAL and the friends who are REAL have weathered many storms with you and you with them. The finer things in life that are REAL may cost more and may be worth it and maybe not, but being REAL is about being your true self and for REAL that is what it is all about.

From the Reader

October 23, 2014
By Suzanne Scanlon


Lifeline Theatre honors Margery Williams’s beloved story with a dramatization that features a wise Skin Horse (Mykele Callicutt) and a young Velveteen Rabbit (Jamie Cahill) who wants desperately to be real, even as she struggles to understand what that means. This children’s book endures not only because of its timeless simplicity (anticipating Toy Story), but also because of the way it considers a universal drama of authenticity (“Once you are real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand,” the Skin Horse wisely explains). Elise Kauzlaric’s adaptation preserves the best of Williams’s text, and Jessica Kuehnau Wardell’s inspired costumes add considerable charm.

From New City

October 20, 2014
By Nora Durkin


“When you’re real, you don’t mind being hurt.” This central theme permeates an affable and vibrant staging of Margery Williams’ timeless book “The Velveteen Rabbit,” which opens KidSeries’ twenty-eighth season at Rogers Park’s Lifeline Theatre.

The classic tale of toys’ secret lives (some seventy-odd years before Buzz Lightyear) is adapted for the stage by ensemble member Elise Kauzlaric and brought to bright life by Jamie Cahill as the floppy and progressively more existent Rabbit, her peaches and cream face an ideal projection of naïve emergence.

Christopher Acevedo, as the rabbit’s young keeper and caretaker, is a sweetly blank canvas for the young audience’s fantasies. When the boy’s unconditional love for the rabbit gives way to the Scarlet Fever that will condemn her to the woodpile, Acevedo’s performance is never inappropriately worrisome, although the thematic content—and need for subtle understatement—is better suited for an audience closer to five rather than younger.

Cahill’s breezy performance hits its stride in the fantasy segments, only alluded to in the original text. Mykele Callicutt, as the rabbit’s toy-world guide Skin Horse, is a standout, a toy-box oracle whose hooved-crutch costume is all whimsically melancholic, a sweet allusion to his advanced position. Skin Horse’s navigation of the Rabbit through the process of becoming real provides the thematic meat of the story, although even its clearest passages are sure to fly over the heads of the younger audience members.

Once prized possessions, the Toy Soldier and Model Boat are played with ample physical possession and witty insecurity by Jenna Schoppe and Danielle Davis, respectively. The invented toy battle scene was a particular audience favorite on opening day, as director Amanda Link had the entire cast lurching and leaping across the stage.

The “happily ever after” evasion Williams provides for the condemned rabbit is truncated in Kauzlaric’s brisk epilogue, as Cahill sheds her worn spotted brown fur to reveal an eternally plush coat before prancing off with her cast-mates into the great forest of forever. Whatever the hedge, it provides good cheer following a mildly worrying sequence. As the lights fade, the rabbits’ bounce into the woods is a pleasingly upbeat and ethereal end to this brisk fifty-minute comedy.