Oct 22 – Nov 27, 2016 
Saturdays & Sundays at 11am & 1pm

“[A] beautiful new production… refreshingly modernized, progressive and chock full of girl power… Brandi Lee, an exceptional Thumbelina, is joined by a connected and physically fantastic cast… The puppetry is also top notch”  –Chicago Parent

“Winning performances, especially Brandi Lee as Thumbelina.”  –Chicago Reader

“Amazing charm for such a minimal concept… a perfect show for audiences in the single digit age range.”  –Theatre by Numbers

Born from a flower and stolen away by a greedy toad, tiny Thumbelina never knew a family of her own. Pursued by all manner of woodland creatures eager to possess her, she must make her way through the great big world with nothing but her wits and will to protect her. A series of whimsical and magical adventures unfold as she sets out to find a community to call her own. Let your imagination soar with Thumbelina as she travels over streams, through forests, and on the wings of majestic birds in a powerful, dance-inspired tale about growing up and finding your own path, based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen.

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

A world premiere based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen 
Adapted and directed by Amanda Delheimer Dimond 
In collaboration with Mariana GreenBrandi Lee, and Liz Rice

Special Performances
Audio Description and Touch Tour
Saturday, November 5
   Touch tour: 10:00am
   Performance: 11:00am

Open Captioning
Saturday, November 12 at 1:00pm

Autism/Sensory-Friendly Performance
Saturday, November 19 at 3:00pm

Visit our Accessibility page for more information.

Highlights from Thumbelina. Music by Mikhail Fiksel.

  • Bryan Bosque (Ensemble)

    Bryan is so grateful to return to Lifeline, having previously worked on Lions in Illyria and understudied The Three Musketeers. Favorite credits include The Compass (Steppenwolf for Young Adults), The Grown-Up(Shattered Globe Theatre), Harry and the Thief (Pavement Group), and Barbecue Apocalypse and The Deer (The Ruckus). Bryan also works with Barrel of Monkeys and Erasing the Distance.

  • Antoniao LaVance Bouie Jr (Ensemble)

    Antoniao excitedly anticipates making his debut performance with Lifeline Theatre. Favorite credits include: American Idiot (Bicentennial Theatre), Jesus Christ Superstar (LWASS), Grease (LWASS), Ordinary People(Bicentennial Theatre), and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Bicentennial Theatre). He would like to thank the cast and crew of Thumbelina for being so welcoming and his friends and family for their support.

  • Nate Buursma (Ensemble)

    Nate is thrilled to return to Lifeline, where he had the pleasure of understudying Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Other recent Chicago credits include The Green Bird (Cuckoo’s Theater Project); All the World’s a StageTomato Queen (Quest Theatre Ensemble); and Holiday One World(Shedd Aquarium). A proud graduate of Butler University, Nate is a company member with Quest Theatre Ensemble and can often be found behind a microphone recording voiceovers. Many thanks to Dorothy, Amanda, and Lifeline for the opportunity to collaborate on such a beautiful piece of storytelling!

  • Brandi Lee (Thumbelina/Ensemble & Assistant Director/Leadership Team)

    Brandi is thrilled to be returning to Lifeline Theatre for the second time as one of her all-time favorite characters, Thumbelina. She was first seen in the KidSeries production of Lions of Illyria. She is a theater graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a concentration in acting. Other credits include the collaboration with DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) on the devised piece, Terminal One. Brandi is a teaching artist and has worked with numerous organizations all over the city including FYI (For Youth Inquiry), Story Catchers, and Lifeline. She is currently the Education Associate/Internship Coordinator at the Goodman Theatre.

  • Krystal Ortiz (Ensemble)

    Krystal is delighted to be making her Lifeline debut with Thumbelina! Other recent credits include Kid Prince and Pablo by Brian Quijada (Ars Nova), Mother Road by Octavio Solis (Latino/a Theatre Commons’ Carnaval of New Latina/o Work), and In Love and Warcraft (Halcyon Theatre). Next, Krystal can be seen in the world premiere of Into the Beautiful North by Karen Zacarías at 16th Street Theatre. Krystal recently graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University and is proudly represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.

  • Dominique Watkins (Ensemble)

    Dominique moved from Houston, Texas to Chicago to attend The Theatre School at DePaul. Dominique has played a wide range of roles, from heightened movement and language pieces on large stages, to performing contemporary plays in intimate studio spaces. Most recently, Dominique originated the role of Ferdinand in Prospero’s Storm, adapted by Damon Kiely. Other Theatre School credits include The Humbug in The Phantom Tollbooth, directed by David Catlin; 12 Angry Men, directed Matt Hawkins; 4.48 Psychosis, directed by Kelvin Wong; Dreams, directed Camille Litalien; Acaste in The Misanthrope; and Carol in Sparkleshark, directed by Jordyn Prince. In his spare time Dominique likes to dress up and turn the party.

  • Nic Bell (Understudy)

    This is Nic’s first performance at Lifeline. Other Chicago credits include Zion in Forecast (For Youth Inquiry), and a cast member of the Sober Ben show Lower Wacky Drive: Death Finds Us All (Gorilla Tango Theatre). Nic is a recent graduate from the Chicago College of Performing Arts (BFA 2014). He has also worked with Empire Films Inc. in Atlanta, GA.

  • Samantha Jai (Understudy)

    A native of the Southwest, Samantha moved to Chicago to further her training and pursue a career in acting for film and stage. She has had the pleasure of training with studios including the Second City Training Center, GreenShirt Studio, and Vagabond School of the Arts. Her credits also include Aboutface Youth Theatre ensemble member and Line Oneand El Stories with Waltzing Mechanics. Samantha is incredibly excited to be a part of Thumbelina.

  • Richard Schiraldi (Understudy)

    Richie is pleased to make his first appearance at Lifeline. Other credits include Serenade to Simons Park (Operamatic), The Odyssey (Ghostlight Ensemble, Creative Wellness), Exit 27 (Genesis Theatrical), Drunk Donkey(Ensemble-devised and produced), Titus Andronicus (The Home for Wayward Artists), and several festivals and events as a strolling performer and circus artist. He has also worked on shows with Akvavit Theatre and The Brown Paper Box Co.

  • Sofia Tew (Understudy)

    Sofia is excited to be making her Lifeline debut. She is a recent graduate from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Some of her favorite Theatre School credits include: In The Heights (Daniela), Women (Amy), The Merchant of Venice (Jessica), and And Then Came Tango(Nita/Mom).

  • Amanda Delheimer Dimond (Director & Adaptor)

    Amanda has been a proud Lifeline Ensemble member since 2013; her credits include directing The 13 Clocks (2011), The Three Musketeers(2013), Lions in Illyria (2015), and adapting and directing Thumbelina. Amanda is the Artistic Director of 2nd Story, and has worked all over Chicago as a director and teaching artist. She was an inaugural recipient of the Leadership U Fellowship, funded by the Mellon Foundation and administered by the Theatre Communications Group, and was invited into the inaugural cohort of artEquity’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Facilitator Training in the fall of 2015, hosted by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

  • Mariana Green (Assistant Director/Leadership Team)

    Mariana is a California-raised, Chicago-bred theater artist with degrees in Theater and Writing. As a teaching artist for The Goodman Theatre, she encourages young people to dive into the colorful worlds of self-expression and engagement. For companies like Erasing the Distance and ICAH, she engages people of all ages in conversations around mental and sexual health via documentary and participatory plays. A founding member of FEMelanin, she also creates theatrical experiences that lift up unheard voices in celebratory ways. She recently performed in FEMelanin’s Epic Tales from the Land of Melanin in the Chicago Kids Fringe Festival 2016.

  • Liz Rice (Assistant Director/Leadership Team)

    Liz is excited to return to Lifeline where she previously worked on Lions in Illyria with Amanda, Brandi, and Bryan. Liz is the School Programs Coordinator at Goodman Theatre and a company member of 2nd Story. She has previously worked with Mercy Street Theatre Company, City Lit, The Whiskey Rebellion, and Remy Bumppo in various capacities. She is thankful for the opportunity to have worked with these amazing ladies, Amanda, Brandi, and Mariana, over the past year. She can’t wait for you to experience what this wonderful cast and artistic team has created!

  • Clare Roche (Stage Manager)

    Clare returns to Lifeline, where she previous worked as Stage Manager on Lions in Illyria and The 13 Clocks. Clare also worked as the Master Electrician on The City & The CityThe Woman in WhiteDuck for PresidentHungerPride and PrejudiceHow to Survive a Fairy Tale, and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Outside of Lifeline, Clare works as the Lighting and Sound Supervisor at Loyola University Chicago, Touring Stage Manager/Lighting Designer with Griffin Theatres’ Ghost of War, Touring Stage Manager with The Handsome Little Devils’ Squirm Burpee, and Touring Stage Manager with New Belgium Brewery Tour de Fat.

  • Stephanie Díaz (Puppet Designer)

    Stephanie specializes in Bunraku-style tabletop and shadow puppetry. Her critically-acclaimed full-length piece, Mariposa Nocturna: A Puppet Triptych, opened the 2015 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to sold out houses and enjoyed successful runs at Free Street and 16th Street. Her work has been seen at Strawdog (Jeff nomination, The Long Christmas Ride Home), Lookingglass, A Red Orchid, Cock and Bull, Links Hall, Prop Thtr, The Paper Machete Show, and most recently in The Life of Galileo at Remy Bumppo. As one-half of experimental performance duo Portmanteau, she’s currently creating new work in residence with Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

  • Sarah Espinoza (Sound Designer)

    Sarah is so ecstatic to be returning to Lifeline for Thumbelina. She has recently sound designed You On the Moors Now (The Hypocrites), Farewell My Friend ((re)-discover), Douglass (American Vicarious), Dating and Dragons (The Factory), Midnight Cowboy and Mr. Popper’s Penguins(Lifeline), The Revel (The House), Motel 666 (Wildclaw), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Two Pence), fml: How Carson McCullers saved my life(Loyola University Chicago), Deathscribe 2014 (WildClaw), and The Last Defender (The House, co-designer). Sarah won the Non-Equity Jeff Award for her sound design for The Arsonists (Strawdog). She is also a proud company member of WildClaw.

  • Mikhail Fiksel (Composer)

    Mikhail is delighted to be back at Lifeline, having designed Lions in IllyriaThe 13 ClocksThe Last of the DragonsWatership Down, and Neverwhere. Other credits include projects with Goodman Theatre, The Old Globe Theatre, PlayCompany, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The New Victory, Long Wharf Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Geffen Playhouse, Second Stage Theatre, Writers Theatre, TimeLine, The Seldoms, Lucky Plush, the Hypocrites, and Redmoon Theatre. He has received several Joseph Jefferson Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, and the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. He is an Artistic Associate with TimeLine Theatre, Teatro Vista, and Redmoon, and on the faculty at Loyola University Chicago and University of Chicago.

  • Izumi Inaba (Costume Designer)

    Previously at Lifeline: The City & The CityMiss Buncle’s BookLions In IllyriaMr. Popper’s Penguins. Recent credits include The House That Will Not Stand (Victory Gardens), Learning Curve 3.0 (Albany Park Theater Project), Comedical Tragedy For Mister Punch (The House), You On The Moors Now (The Hypocrites), and The Winter’s Tale (University of Chicago). She enjoys the collaboration and appreciates the opportunities to work on new plays. M.F.A. in Stage Design, Northwestern University.

  • Jordan Kardasz (Lighting Designer)

    Jordan is happy to be back at Lifeline after recently designing Miss Holmes. Assistant design credits at Lifeline include: Jane EyreThe Woman in WhiteHunger, and Neverwhere. KidSeries design credits include: Mr Popper’s PenguinsLions in IllyriaClick, Clack, BOO!Duck for PresidentHow to Survive a Fairy Tale; and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Jordan has worked with lots of companies around town including The Factory, Sideshow, and Strawdog (where she is an ensemble member). She holds an MFA in Design from Ohio State University and works as the Technical Director at Northeastern Illinois University.

  • Jacqueline Penrod (Scenic Designer)

    Jacqueline’s award-winning design work has been seen locally and regionally. Some of her recent designs include: PygmalionLove and InformationNorthanger Abby, and The Importance of Being Earnest (Remy Bumppo); Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly (Northlight); Apartment 3A and Stick Fly(Windy City Playhouse); Richard III (The Gift, produced at Steppenwolf Theatre); Nice Work If you Can Get ItBig FishAll Shook Up, and A Christmas Carol (Theatre at the Center); Hank Williams: Lost Highway (American Blues); Mud Sky Blue (A Red Orchid); Luck of the Irish and Welcome Home Jenny Sutter (Next). She has received many nominations and awards for her design work. She is an Associate Professor in the Theatre Department at Columbia College Chicago.

  • Dan Plehal (Choreographer)

    Dan is thrilled to be working with Lifeline for the first time. Locally, Dan was a Resident Artist and Circus Director with The Home for Wayward Artists, and an understudy at Chicago Shakespeare. He is Co-Artistic Director of Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre, which tours nationally. Other Regional Credits include Pig Iron Theatre Company, The Arden Theatre, Walnut St Theatre, The Devon Theatre, Plays & Players, and Theatre Horizon. Television: The Mysteries of Laura (NBC). Dan trained at the FLIC Squola di Circo in Torino, the Accademia dell-Arte in Arezzo, and the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

From Chicago Parent

Lifeline’s ‘Thumbelina’ brings both heart and courage to a familiar tale 
November 4, 2016 
By Keely Flynn

“I carry your heart within my heart.” This theme, drawing heavily from both the E.E. Cummings poem and the soul song of each and every parent, is the driving force behind Lifeline’s beautiful new production of “Thumbelina” (adapted and directed by ensemble member Amanda Delheimer Dimond, in collaboration with Mariana Green, Brandi Lee and Liz Rice).

Also new in this show? Delheimer Dimond and crew have upended Hans Christian Anderson’s traditional story arc of Thumbelina, who usually goes from one situation to the next where she’s kept, scurried away, married off and told where, when and how to be.

This version is refreshingly modernized, progressive and chock full of girl power.

Thumbelina, a tiny bit of a thing born from a flower planted by her mother (who’s grieving the loss of her partner and the future she had planned), wants to experience the wonder of The Outside. But, having lost enough already, her well-meaning mother decides that the best way to keep her girl safe is to forbid any contact with the dangerous things outside their home’s window. But, you know, things happen.

Thankfully, the storyline is less about whom Thumbelina will eventually marry, and more about the choices she makes along her path to self-discovery, and the concept that “family” can be the one you create. As she journeys into the forest and river around her, she comes into contact with terrific characters who, for their part, don’t walk so much as crawl, tumble, spin and weave their way up ropes. Both the staging and choreography are lovely, and create another sort of beautiful language in the fluid world which Thumbelina explores. The puppetry is also top notch, and the alter-ego of teeny tiny Thumbelina pleading her case to her non-yielding mother might be the sweetest thing you’ll see this season. Brandi Lee, an exceptional Thumbelina, is joined by a connected and physically fantastic cast, consisting of Bryan Bosque, Antoniao LaVance Boule Jr., Nate Buursma, Krystal Ortiz and Dominique Watkins.

The role of a parent–and what it means, exactly, to “parent” as a verb–weaves surprisingly well through a story not usually quite so sentimental. Or maybe it just hit me like a ton of bricks as I watched with my two enthralled daughters: You need to raise the child you have, not the child you imagined you’d have.

As parents, we want our children to fly. As parents, we want our children to be safe, always. And as parents, we want our children to know that bonds and love transcend time, space, distance and the confines of a little ol’ human heart.

And just like Thumbelina, they’ll figure out the rest.

From the Chicago Reader

October 25, 2016 
By Aimee Levitt

I saw Thumbelina the day after the Cubs won the pennant, so it would have been very hard to kill my good mood. And Lifeline Theatre’s dance- and puppet-enhanced retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the adventures of the tiny girl who came from a flower did not. The cast turned in winning performances, especially Brandi Lee as Thumbelina. It was unclear how much of the show’s message, about finding your tribe and your place in the world, registered with its young audience; it seems like the sort of lesson that would resonate more with teenagers. Still, the kids seemed to enjoy it, and parents will probably appreciate the multiethnic cast and gender-neutral language.

From Theatre by Numbers

October 26, 2016 
By Sean Margaret Wagner

Mothers and fathers, take your kids to see Lifeline Theatre’s “Thumbelina”, and you might notice them acting a bit differently. They may start asking after things like circus arts intensives and performing arts summer camps. They are definitely going to affect new accents and funky new gaits, you’ve been warned. This fairy tale adaptation by Amanda Delheimer Diamond is exactly the gateway drug to thespian-hood your kids will find themselves hooked on, and it will likely charm you, too.

In “Thumbelina”, you may remember our diminutive heroine (Brandi Lee) is born from an errant magical seed, and left in the care of an over-protective mother (Krystal Ortiz) who shelters her from the dangers at the edge of the edge of the world. She escapes her mother’s confines and loses herself for the winter in the woods. She befriends other creatures like field mice (Bryan Bosque), moles (Nate Buursma) and barn swallows (Dominique Watkins), and while I wouldn’t call anyone her enemy, she learns to recognize when others (say a frog, like Antoniao LaVance Bouie Jr.) don’t have her best interests at heart. No one comes to her rescue or doles out any great favors; to get where she’s going, she’s going to have to figure things out, mostly on her own.

One especially nice aspect of this adaptation are some of the troubling aspects of the original fable the developers have left on the cutting floor. You may remember the Hans Christian Anderson Thumbelina being passively inundated with interspecies marriage proposals and kidnapping attempts. Not so for Brandi Lee’s title character. This ensemble champions problem solving skills and a sense of humor that the 5-7 year old crowd would deem most impressive. This production also posits that belonging hinges less on what your community looks like and more on what they do. It encourages embracing people, even when their lives are vastly different from your own.

It has amazing charm for such a minimal concept, and the ensemble is quick to latch together, building creatures and plant life at speeds that would make Voltron envious. Director/Adaptor Amanda Delheimer Diamond and choreographer Dan Plehal have boiled their concept down to the barest minimum, and the performers have made fantastic use of the canvas. Actors with the heaviest story lifting are Brandi Lee, Krystal Ortiz, and Bryan Bosque, and they will have you eating out of the palms of their hands before long. “Thumbelina” is a perfect show for audiences in the single digit age range, but maybe not ideal for most tweens.

From Ada Grey Reviews for You

October 27, 2016 
By Ada Grey

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Thumbelina. It was adapted and directed by Amanda Delheimer Dimond based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen in collaboration with Mariana Green, Brandi Lee, and Liz Rice. It was about a very small girl named Thumbelina (Lee) and she really wanted to live a normal life and be able to explore outside, but her mother (Krystal Ortiz) didn’t want her to because she was worried she would get hurt. But then she goes out in the middle of the night and gets lost and she starts to meet a bunch of different animals along the way. Then she discovers a new family of fairies, but eventually makes her way back to her mother. This productions had a lot of puppets (designed by Stephanie Diaz), movement (choreography by Dan Plehal), and poetic language. I thought it was very gorgeous and interesting to watch.

I really liked the Frog (Antoniao LaVance Boule Jr.); he is the first animal that Thumbelina meets. He brings her over to his lily pad and wants to get married to her. I thought it was hilarious how Thumbelina called it his “pad.” He’s going to go and tell his mom all about it because she has been getting on his case about getting married and settling down. But he isn’t creepy or anything. He has a cute little raspy voice and he seems nervous. You still want Thumbelina to get away from him because you want the adventure to continue. She makes his pad into a raft with the help of a very friendly fish and then she gets an insect to pull her along, but of course an insect can not pull a small person for very long and then she goes down the waterfall and that is when she gets lost. This shows us she doesn’t want to settle down yet! It also shows you that she is very capable of surviving on her own and she doesn’t want anyone else’s help.

The Mouse (Bryan Bosque) and the Mole (Nate Buursma) take in Thumbelina when she is half frozen out in the cold. I think they either are or would be a cute couple because they kind of reminded me of Frog and Toad from the Arnold Lobel books. Each of them has something the other person doesn’t. The Mouse is artistic and the Mole is very interested in keeping everything real and things that fly. Thumbelina does like living with them, but they don’t like going outside, which is one of the things she really wants to do and that is the reason she leaves. Also, part of their group is a Swallow (Dominique Watkins) that they find with one broken wing. The Swallow seems to have made the largest impact on Thumbelina; she even wants to go with him to wherever his flock is going. But he says she can’t because she can’t fly and she needs to stay where she belongs. He also helps her when she needs him the most by saving her when she is about to fall off a cliff.

This is not your average kids’ show. It has some very intelligent aspects, and I think that it is very important to get young minds working. When you go and see a kids’ show it shouldn’t be boring for the parents. This show talks about surviving in the wild, and it also has the subject of friends going away and also feeling different from your family, which are some difficult things to talk about. The movement is very calm and relaxing and nice to watch. People might expect cute little songs or explaining things very slowly and simply, but they will get something that will actually intrigue kids of most ages and adults. It was clear when I saw it that very little kids might not have the attention span to stay intrigued, but probably 3 year olds and up would absolutely love this show.

People who would like this show are people who like capable heroines, cute mole and mouse couples, and frogs settling down. I think kids and their parents should definitely go see this show. There are so many kids who will love it, and I really enjoyed it as well even though I’m almost a teenager.