January 16 – February 21, 2016
Saturdays & Sundays at 11am & 1pm

“A charming musical adaptation of Jenny Offill’s children’s book about a lovable pet sloth…. [with] a great lesson, and not overplayed in this tight production.”  –Chicago Reader

Libby desperately wants a pet, but her mother says she can only have one that doesn’t need to be walked, bathed, or fed. So she orders a sloth and names him Sparky. It’s love at first sight… even if Sparky doesn’t know how to fetch and always loses at Hide-and-Seek (though he’s very good at playing Statue). But after know-it-all Mary Potts mocks Sparky as lazy and unimpressive, Libby throws a backyard talent show to highlight the talents of her misunderstood companion. Roll up for the first-ever “Trained Sloth Extravaganza!” and learn about accepting your friends for who they are, in this world premiere musical based on the delightful 2014 book by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans.

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

Based on the book by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans 
Script by Jessica Wright Buha 
Music & Lyrics by Laura McKenzie 
Directed by Amanda Link

Special Performances
Open Captioning
Saturday, January 23 at 1:00pm

Autism-Friendly Performance
Sunday, February 7 at 3:00pm

Audio Description and Touch Tour
Saturday, February 13
   Touch tour: 10:00am
   Performance: 11:00am

Visit our Accessibility page for more information.

Special thanks to Theatre Development Fund‘s Autism Theatre Initiative for service as an advisor.

Excerpt from Sparky!  Music & Lyrics by Laura McKenzie.
Featuring Eunice Woods and Andres Enriquez.

Join us any Saturday or Sunday at noon during the run of Sparky! (following the 11am show, or before the 1pm show) for our Stories Come Alive! Hour.An interactive storytelling session with on-your-feet theatre games exploring the book behind the play — all designed to make positive connections between your children and literature that will last a lifetime.Only $5 per child for the workshop! Reservations are recommended (though not required).
Contact the box office at 773-761-4477 for more information.
  • Juanita Andersen (Mary Potts)

    Juanita is very excited to be making her Lifeline debut with the fabulous Sparky! team. Recently graduated from Northwestern University, she was last seen, playing yet another perky preteen, in Worthy (Adventure Stage Chicago). Other Chicago credits include Underscore Theatre Company and Greatworks Theatre Company.

  • Allison Cain (Miss Edwin)

    Allison received her training at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and Columbia College in Chicago. As an actor, she has performed in over thirty productions in Chicago since 1992. At Lifeline, you may have seen her in Johnny TremainThe Mark of ZorroCrossing CaliforniaMariette in EcstasyThe True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, the Fillet Solo Festival (2015 and 2016), and The One and Only Ivan. She was a proud ensemble member of the Factory Theater from 2000 to 2011, where she also served as Executive Director from 2001-2007. She serves as the Managing Director for Lifeline Theatre where she remains committed to the production of new works.

  • Andres Enriquez (Sparky)

    Andres is very excited to be returning to the Lifeline stage for Sparky!Most recently, he was a part of Love and Information at Remy Bumppo Theater. Previous Chicagoland credits include Jack in The Art of Disappearing (16th Sreet Theater), Francis in Plaid Tidings (Beverley Arts Center), Connor in Prone: The Casting Couch Musical (Underscore Theater), and Kipps in The Woman in Black (Fox Valley Repertory). Regional credits include Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps and Matt in The Fantasticks (Shawnee Repertory, IN), Ren/Buddy in The Family of Mann(Iowa Repertory), and Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale (Santa Barbara Naked Shakes). Andres received his MFA in Acting from the University of Iowa, and is also a proud company member of Barrel of Monkeys. He is represented by Gray Talent Group.

  • Jhenai Mootz (Mom)

    Jhenai is constantly thrilled to work & learn with the Lifeline folks, where she was seen last year in Jane Eyre. Other recent credits include: GenevaMajor BarbaraMan and SupermanSaint JoanPygmalionThe MillionairessMrs. Warren’s Profession, and Arms and the Man(ShawChicago); Cymbeline (Muse of Fire Theatre Company); HamletTwelfth NightRichard IIIDancing at LughnasaArms and the ManMuch Ado About NothingMurder by the Book, and Picnic (Oak Park Festival Theatre); The WomenThe Philadelphia Story (Circle Theatre); and The Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe (First Folio Shakespeare Company).

  • Eunice Woods (Libby)

    Eunice is thrilled to be making her Lifeline debut! Other Chicago credits include The Project(s) (American Theater Company), The Revel (The House Theatre of Chicago), Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago), Hey! Dancin’! Hey! Musical! (The Factory Theater), The True History…of Julia Pastrana(Tympanic Theatre Company), Raskol (Vintage Theater Collective), and The Rose Parade (Body Project Ensemble & VOTC). Eunice is a proud company member of Barrel of Monkeys. She holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University.

  • Claire Orzel (Understudy)

    Claire is thrilled to be working with Lifeline for the first time on this amazing production. Previous credits include Cymbeline and Taming of the Shrew (Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre) and Sadie and the Goat (Fury Theatre). She graduated from Loyola University Chicago in May, where some favorite productions included ProofThe House of Bernarda Alba, and Spring Awakening. Many thanks to the whole Lifeline team and her wonderful family and friends.

  • Rachel Page (Understudy)

    Rachel graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Theatre at Carthage College. Rachel has been a part of Second City TourCo (including two contracts on Norwegian Cruise Line), Windy City Music Theatre, Underscore Theatre, Fox Valley Repertory Theatre, to name a few. Rachel is also part of the cabaret duo Side By Side. Some of Rachel’s favorite projects have included Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatI Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Les Miserables; and every Side By Side Cabaret show! Rachel is an accomplished pianist and teaches private voice. So many hugs and kisses to all those who have supported her dreams, goals, and student loans through the years; she can’t thank you enough!!

  • Brian Tochterman (Understudy)

    Brian is so excited to be returning to Lifeline, where he was last seen in Lyle Finds His Mother as the precocious Joshua. Other recent Chicago credits include two runs of El Stories: Holiday Train (Waltzing Mechanics), ArciTEXT Play Fest (Arc Theatre), and Dirty Little Secret 24-Hour Festival (The Agency). Brian is a proud Loyola University Chicago alum and is represented by Shirley Hamilton.

  • Jessica Wright Buha (Adaptor)

    Jessica was thrilled to join the Lifeline artistic ensemble in 2015, and previously adapted Lyle Finds His Mother and One Came Home for the company. Locally, her writings have been performed by the Goodman Theatre (The Things Above, New Play Bake-Off 2014), the Gift Theatre (Moon Rhymes, TEN 2014), WildClaw Theatre (Alabama Mermaid, winner: Deathscribe 2011), and the Plagiarists (War Song). Upcoming writing projects include Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Portage Park, to be performed by Filament Theatre Ensemble in the summer of 2016, and an adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses, to be performed by the Plagiarists in March 2016.

  • Laura McKenzie (Composer, Lyricist, Music Director)

    Lifeline credits include Soon I Will be InvincibleThe True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! (Music Director), 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.

  • Amanda Link (Director)

    Amanda joined the Lifeline ensemble in 2013. She directed The Velveteen Rabbit and 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 Moo; and Half Magic. She also writes and performs with the Lifeline Storytelling Project. She choreographed and assistant directed The Emperor’s New Threads, assistant directed and did movement design for The City & The City, and assistant directed One Came Home and Pride and Prejudice. Other credits include work with Factory Theater, Griffin Theatre, and The Mill.

  • Jennifer Aparicio (Stage Manager)

    Jennifer is excited to be back at Lifeline, where she last stage managed The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! This past year, she stage managed Graveyard of Empires and Mariposa Nocturna (16th Street Theater), Don Chipotle (DCASE), and Stations Lost (Brown University). Other stage management credits include work with Lifeline Theatre, 16th Street Theater, Steppenwolf Garage, and Teatro Luna. Jennifer also works as a production manager and is an artistic associate with Teatro Vista.

  • Jana Anderson (Costume Designer)

    Jana is thrilled to be back at Lifeline designing her favorite children’s animal shows. You might have seen her designs in the entire collection of Click Clacks as well as Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile in Lifeline’s KidSeries. She is also well known for designing with Chicago finest schools and universities like Northwestern, Northeastern, Loyola, DePaul and Roosevelt as well as numerous Chicago theaters including Lyric Opera, Porchlight, Theatre at the Center, Light Opera Works, Redmoon and Quest. Prior to coming to United states, she designed and tailored elaborate costumes for the National Theatre in Bratislava, Slovakia. She graduated from Fine Arts University in Bratislava, where her interest in costumes originated. For fun she creates crazy fashions for photo shoots, advertising and fundraising events.

  • Jesse Gaffney (Properties Designer)

    Jesse is happy to be back at Lifeline after creating props for The One and Only IvanClick, Clack, Boo! A Tricky TreatA Tale of Two CitiesThe City & The CityPride and Prejudice; and Hunger. Elsewhere in Chicago, Jesse is the resident props designer with Silk Road Rising, and an Artistic Associate at 16th Street theatre. She has created props for productions at DePaul University, Remy Bumppo, Victory Gardens, Theatre Wit , Route 66, Immediate Family, Chicago Children’s Theatre, and Congo Square, among others. Outside of Chicago, Jesse worked for Peninsula Players (WI), Stages St. Louis (MO), Allenberry Playhouse (PA), The Arrow Rock Lyceum (MO), and Notre Dame Shakespeare (IN).

  • Joanna Iwanicka (Scenic Designer)

    Joanna is thrilled to work again at Lifeline, where she designed the sets for many productions (Monstrous RegimentThe True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! 2007 & 2013, Naked Mole Rat Gets DressedDuck for President); masks/puppets for Dooby Dooby MooThe Last of The DragonsThe Blue ShadowWatership Down; and managed props for A Room with a View. Her recent set credits include MerchildThe Art of DisappearingPinkolandia (16th Street Theatre); The PresidentRomulusNo Beast So Fierce (Oracle); The Sweeter OptionGreat Expectations, and Improbable Frequency (Strawdog Theatre) as well as shows for Haven, Trap Door, and First Folio, among others.

  • Becca Jeffords (Lighting Designer)

    Becca is thrilled return to Lifeline to work on Sparky! She received her MFA in Lighting Design from Northwestern University and her BFA in Production Design from Columbus State University. Recent Chicago designs include: A Turn of the Screw (Chicago Fringe Opera); How the World Began (Rivendell); Soon I Will Be Invincible (Lifeline); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Porchlight); Midsummer Night’s DreamRomeo and Juliet (Two Pence); WhateverHello FailureWhat to Listen for (the side project); A Nice Indian Boy (Rasaka Theatre); 2014 Winter Pageant (Redmoon Theatre); Dr. CrippenThe Dead PrinceHalf-Brothers Mendlesshon, (Strange Tree Group); and Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money (Chicago Children’s Theatre).

  • Eli Van Sickel (Sound Designer)

    Eli is thrilled to be making his production debut at Lifeline! He will also be sound designing the upcoming KidSeries production of Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters. When not working on shows, Eli is on the Lifeline staff as a Front of House Associate. Recent Chicago credits include: Merry Christmas Mulch Pile (Mercy Street), Save the Date (InGen), and Redletter(Neo-Futurists). Other recent sound design credits include Yellowman(University of Pittsburgh) and Hearts Like Fists (Actors Bridge – Nashville). Eli holds degrees from Illinois State and Indiana State universities. He hopes you enjoy the show and come back to see another one soon!

From the Chicago Reader

January 20, 2016
By Suzanne Scanlon


Lifeline’s latest is a charming musical adaptation of Jenny Offill’s children’s book about a lovable pet sloth. Libby (Eunice Woods) is an only child who really wants a pet; after consulting the Animal Encyclopedia, she chooses one that meets her mom’s conditions by not needing to be walked or bathed or even fed. Sparky the sloth (Andres Enriquez) is sweet but slow and not very exciting, as Libby discovers. Nevertheless she prepares for a Great Sloth Extravaganza to impress her judgmental friend, Mary Potts (a winning Juanita Andersen). As you might guess, this doesn’t work too well. Ultimately, though, Libby learns to love Sparky for who he is, and not what she wants him to be. It’s a great lesson, and not overplayed in this tight production.