We Found A Hat

Jan 12 – Feb 17, 2019
Saturdays & Sundays at 11am & 1pm

Deep in the desert, two tortoises work together to overcome all obstacles the harsh landscape throws their way. Sizi and Kai are the best of pals and nothing ever comes between them… until one day they find a hat. They both look great in the hat. But they can’t both have the hat. A friendship is put to the test as the tortoises must find a way through their thorniest challenge yet. Explore the question of what we give up to support the ones we love in this adaptation of the 2016 book by Jon Klassen.

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

Adapted by Jessica Wright Buha
Lyrics by Jessica Wright Buha & John Szymanski
Music by John Szymanski
Directed by Manny Tamayo
Based on the book by Jon Klassen
Print book originally published by Candlewick

Special Performances
Audio Description and Touch Tour
Saturday, January 26
   Touch tour: 10am
   Performance: 11am

Open Captioning
Sunday, January 27 at 11am and 1pm

Autism/Sensory-Friendly Performance
Sunday, February 3 at 3pm
Social Narrative | Parent Guide

Visit our Accessibility page for more information.

Excerpt from We Found a Hat – Adapted by Jessica Wright Buha,
directed by Manny Tamayo

Join us any Saturday or Sunday at noon during the run of We Found A Hat (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.
  • Terry Bell (Kai)

    Terry is proud to be returning to Lifeline for We Found A Hat! Previous theatre credits include: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime(Steppenwolf), Natural Affection (Eclipse Theatre), Mies Julie (u/s Victory Gardens Theatre), Sylvester (Lifeline Theatre), The My Way Residential (Irish Theatre of Chicago), The Snowy Day and Other Stories(Emerald City Theatre), and Cymbeline (Strawdog Theatre). Terry is an ensemble member of Strawdog Theatre and is proudly represented by Gray Talent Group.

  • Gabriella Fernandez (Sun/Moon/Ensemble)

    Gabriella is thrilled to be back at Lifeline for We Found a Hat! She was last seen as Cow in Lifeline’s National Tour of Giggle, Giggle, Quack. She graduated from the University of West Florida with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. Other credits include Hildegard (With a Machete Productions), Rapunzel (Missoula Children’s Theatre), and Illyria (University of West Florida). She’d like to thank her family and friends for their unwavering support. She’d also like to thank the entire cast and Lifeline team for making this process such a joy!

  • Amanda Roeder (Sizi)

    Amanda could not be more thrilled to be working with Lifeline Theatre once again! Past Lifeline credits include Lester’s Dreadful SweatersMr. Poppers PenguinsThe True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, and The Emperor’s New Threads. Amanda has also worked with Factory Theatre, Rivendell Theatre, the Plagiarists, City Lit, Interrobang Theatre Project, and Circle Theatre. Amanda received her B.A. in acting from Illinois State University and has completed Studio training at Black Box Acting Studio. Oodles of thanks to Manny for this opportunity and to the incredible Hat and Lifeline team for making this turtle’s dreams come true!

  • Scott Sawa (Cactus/Snake/Ensemble)

    Scott sure is pleased to return to Lifeline, having performed in 2016’s Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters as Father. Chicago credits include: Ten Dollar House (Pride Films and Plays); Hey! Dancin! Hey! Musical!The Next Big Thing (Factory Theater); Bewildered, and Poseidon! (Hell in a Handbag). Scott has worked with Nothing Special, iO, Refuge Theater Project, Compass Creative Dramatics, Oak Park Festival Theatre, and First Folio Theatre. Scott also performed for three years as Abraham Lincoln in a school tour for Historical Perspectives for Children. TV: Chicago Fire. When pronounced correctly, Scott Sawa rhymes with “Hot Lava”.

  • Anna Connelly (Understudy)

    This is Anna’s first time working with Lifeline. She was seen most recently in Birch House Immersive’s production of Cursed: An American Tragedy. She earned a B.F.A. in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University this past June, where she appeared in A Midsummer Night’s DreamInto the WoodsRichard IIITrouble in Mind, as well as many other productions. Anna is so excited to be working on such a rowdy rodeo of a show here for y’all!

  • Sophia Foldvari (Understudy)

    Sophia is thrilled to be making her Lifeline Theatre debut! Recent Chicago credits include Boeing Boeing (Metropolis), Sacrilege (The Annoyance), and Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding (Chicago Theater Works). She is a nanny by-day so is especially excited to be a part of this awesome production! Proud alumna of Ball State University (BFA)!

  • Madeline Pell (Understudy)

    Maddie is delighted to be back at Lifeline Theatre after appearing in A Wrinkle in Time in 2017. A graduate of Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, some of Madeline’s Chicago credits include: An Ideal Husband (Ghostlight Ensemble Theatre), Twelfth Night (Three Brothers Theatre), Followspot (The Bridge), and The 39 Steps(Roosevelt). Regional credits include: Titanic the Musical (Union Colony Dinner Theatre, CO) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Stampede Theatre, CO). For more information, visit madelinepell.com. An enthusiastic thank you to the cast and artistic team for this lovely experience!

  • Matthew Schnitker (Understudy)

    Matthew is thrilled to be working with Lifeline Theatre! Hailing from Florida and a newcomer to Chicago, he graduated from the University of West Florida with a B.A. in Acting. Credits include Man of La Mancha(MadKap Productions), Curious George (Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences) and The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley (Emerald Coast Theatre Co.). This spring you can see Matthew in Red Theater’s production of Non Player Character. Many thanks to his family and friends for all of their love and support.

  • Jessica Wright Buha (Adaptor & Co-Lyricist)

    A member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble, Jessica’s previous adaptions include Lyle Finds His MotherOne Came HomeSparky!, and Anna Karenina. Locally, her writings have been performed by Filament Theatre Ensemble (Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Portage Park), WildClaw Theatre (Alabama Mermaid: Winner, Deathscribe 2011), and the Plagiarists (War SongUlyssesCircle House). Internationally, her adaptation of Sparky! was produced by the National Children’s Theatre, Johannesburg, in December 2017. She is currently a staff writer on the audio drama Unwell, which will premiere on iTunes in February. She is the proud mama of three-year-old Miles and four-month-old Molly.

  • John Szymanski (Composer, Co-Lyricist & Music Director)

    This is John’s second show at Lifeline, where he previously worked on One Came Home. Other Chicago credits include composing/music direction/sound design for the Factory Theatre, the National Theatre of Scotland, Adventure Stage Chicago, Theatre Oobleck, Forks And Hope, the Whiskey Rebellion, and The Neo-Futurists, where he is an artistic associate. John is a member of Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls, who have a self-titled record available from Bloodshot Records, and also performs with Bethany Thomas, Skull Orchard, Even In Blackouts, Claire & The Bears, Martin & Mild, and Emmy Bean.

  • Manny Tamayo (Director)

    Manny previously served as assistant director on Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed at Lifeline. He is Co-Artistic Director (along with Stacie Barra) at Factory Theater in Rogers Park. At Factory, Manny has directed several productions, including The Last Big Mistake‘Namosaur!, and Dirty Diamonds. Manny hails from Joliet.

  • Kate Reed (Stage Manager)

    Kate is excited to be working with Lifeline again after most recently stage managing Bunnicula (2018). Previously at Lifeline, she has worked on You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?Arnie The Doughnut(2017), Her Majesty’s WillNorthanger AbbeyFable-ous!Lester’s Dreadful SweatersMr. Popper’s Penguins (2015), Soon I Will Be InvincibleOne Came HomeJane Eyre (2014), and Monstrous Regiment. Her other Chicago area credits include work with Mudlark Theater, The Side Project, the Northwestern University Theatre and Interpretation Center, and The Fine Print Theatre Company. She has a degree in Performance Studies from Northwestern.

  • Eric Backus (Sound Designer)

    Eric is excited return to Lifeline after previously working on BunniculaAnna KareninaArnie the DoughnutA Wrinkle In Time (Non-Equity Jeff Award nomination), and Northanger Abbey. Recent sound design and composition credits include Dark at the Top of the Stairs (Eclipse Theatre) and This Bitter Earth (About Face Theatre). Regional credits include Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (TheatreSqaured), The All Night Strut (Milwaukee Rep.), and Murder for Two (Finger Lakes Musical Theatre). Eric also designed the Off-Broadway, Chicago, and touring productions of SoloChicago Theatre’s Churchill. To hear his music, please visit www.ericbackus.com.

  • Derik Marcussen (Costume & Properties Design Assistant)

  • Joe Schermoly (Scenic Designer)

    Joe is so happy to be working on We Found a Hat. Joe has been the technical director at Lifeline for seven seasons, in which time he has also designed the sets for FrankensteinLions in IllyriaMidnight CowboyMr. Popper’s Penguins, and more. Other Chicago design credits include: Yasmina’s Necklace (Goodman Theatre); Constellations (Steppenwolf Theatre); Hand to GodSamsara (Victory Gardens); FrankensteinPuff: Believe it or NotTravesties (Remy Bumppo); NapervilleThe Watson IntelligenceMr. BurnsSeven Homeless MammothsCompleteness(Theatre Wit); LindaBirdlandWastwater, and Lela & Co. (Steep); PocatelloTitanicSpelling BeeFlare PathPunk RockPortConstant Wife(Griffin); IdomeneusThe Ugly One (Sideshow); The SeafarerLay Me Down Softly (Irish Theatre of Chicago). Joe studied scenic design at Northwestern University, has received one Equity Jeff Award, two After Dark Awards and five Jeff Nominations. www.joeschermoly.com

  • Eric Watkins (Lighting Designer)

    Eric happily returns to Lifeline after lighting Montauciel Takes Flight and Sylvester. Chicago credits include: Hooded (First Floor); Machinal(Greenhouse Theater Center; Jeff nomination); A Swell In The Ground(The Gift); Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery (Pegasus); Punk (New Colony); Fish Eye (Dandelion Theatre); PsmithForty-Two Stories, and Arms and the Man (City Lit); Any Other NameGypsyArt, and [title of show](Williams Street Rep); Fallen (Mozawa); Porcelain (Jeff nomination), Waking Lazarus, and Tea (Prologue Theatre); The Property (Lyric Unlimited). Regional: Don Pasquale (Fort Worth Opera); Show Boat (Dallas Opera); A Streetcar Named Desire (Opera Santa Barbara and Kentucky Opera); The Rake’s ProgressIl Re Pastore, and Marriage of Figaro (Merola Opera); Barber of Seville (Lithuanian National Opera). Eric received his MFA from Boston University and is a proud member of USA 829, the theatrical design union. www.ericwatkins.com Enjoy the show!

, https://boxoffice.diamondticketing.com/lifelinetheatre/events/Hat,
, http://lifelinetheatre.com/accessibility/,
, http://lifelinetheatre.com/performances/18-19/hat/we-found-a-hat-study-guide.pdf,

From Rescripted

‘We Found a Hat’ Takes the Wisdom of Sharing to the Preschool Crowd
January 31, 2019
By Hallie Palladino

Lifeline Theatre’s musical adaptation of Jon Klassen’s children’s book, We Found a Hat, shows a friendship put to the test. The play, adapted by Jessica Wright Buha and directed by Manny Tamayo follows two turtles, Sizi (Amanda Roeder) and Kai (Terry Bell), on a journey from their summer habitat to their winter burrow. To get there they must traverse a perilous desert. A meddling Cactus (Scott Sawa) makes a bet with the optimistic Sun (Gabriella Fernandez) that he can drive a wedge between these close friends. The setup has echoes of the devil betting God he can throw Job off his goodness game. The turtles unwittingly fall victim to this mean-spirited social experiment designed for The Cactus’s entertainment. The Cactus, personified as a menacing cowboy with a southern drawl and an excessively large hat, takes off said hat and leaves it in the path of the turtles, jumpstarting the conflict of the play.

Structured like a classic road story, the turtles face a series of obstacles on their journey. Wearing the hat gives them newfound confidence and soon they start attributing their own successes to this seemingly magical hat. The turtles try a number of strategies that will be familiar to young children as they negotiate over the hat, which makes them both look amazing of course. These include taking turns with the hat, and having a finders keepers argument. As we would hope, they decide their friendship is more valuable than this exciting new piece of headwear.

As always, at Lifeline the magic of theater is made accessible to young audiences through the simple and transparent art of make believe. The successful design in this production including Emma Cullimore costumes and Joe Schermoly’s scenic design is in keeping with this well-established aesthetic, although unfortunately the music in this show isn’t as memorable or successful as the music in other recent Lifeline shows.

Like Klassen’s picture book, beloved by toddlers and preschoolers, this particular play will be most enjoyed by children in the under five age group. The show addresses problems that are relevant to their lives such as the difficulties of sharing and getting along with friends. The frustration of being very small and rather slow in a world full of obstacles (life as a turtle) mirrors the experience of life as a toddler.

The experience of going to Lifeline, however, is always warm and welcoming. There are cosy blankets on every seat for kids to cuddle up with, and the cast signs autographs in the lobby for their adoring new fans. But perhaps the best kept secret about Lifeline is their Stories Come Alive Program. For $5 kids can do an hour long drop-in theater class at noon on certain show days, and parents are welcome to either stay, or take a little time to themselves (pro-tip the theater is a block from Roger’s Park’s beloved Heartland Cafe).

As a parent who has been attending Lifeline loyally for years I’m excited to see the continuation of the company’s commitment to developing original children’s programming going strong under the new artistic leadership of Ilesa Duncan. Children’s theater fills a vital role in audience development that cannot be overstated. And I’m sure the fact my kindergartener recently insisted on signing up for musical theater after school has everything to do with the fact she’s attended the past three seasons at Lifeline.


From ChiIL Mama
January 15, 2019
By Kimberly Robb Baker

Lifeline Theatre’s production of We Found A Hat was the most pleasant family theatre experience I’ve had in the last year. Specifically, it’s the first production my four-year-old hasn’t had to leave early, yet my older kids had a blast as well.

The universal appeal was in the cleverness of the production and also in the fact that it’s a theme anyone can relate to: loved ones driven apart by desire and jealously. In this case two best-friend tortoises have their friendship challenged when, as they migrate through the desert, they come upon a hat that instills confidence and looks great on each of them.

When I say the production was clever, I mean that we bought into the story exactly because the reality of being a bunch of audience members nearly head-to-head with a small group of actors on a stage the size of my living room with little kids occasionally making their loud contributions—well, they embraced all of that and made it part of the story.

For example, the actors made a show of getting the set ready while people were settling in their seats. This was a nice pre-show to get us interested in what was to come and entertain little ones who are not known for sitting in a seat and staring at nothing—even for five minutes.

Inventive costumes (e.g. the fringe on a cowboy’s jacket and chaps standing in for cactus prickles and a sun/moon costume that enables one actor to quickly shift between embodying each of the celestial objects—oh, and such a cool snake costume/puppet!) and use of props and actor’s bodies allowed us to delve into a vivid world of friendship being tested in the dramatically changing elements and landscape of a long desert journey.

Some of our favorite scenes were the cactus gauntlet, a really cool dream sequence, and a dangerous storm (it was just scary enough—my 4-year-old was more afraid of the hand dryer in the bathroom).

The actors threw themselves wholeheartedly into this ecosystem of inventiveness. Through the turtles (played by Terry Bell and Amanda Roeder), kids got to see the struggle of being the big or little one, of being labeled as creative or practical when your heart wants to explore all the possibilities of who you are.

Gabriella Fernandez played Sun and Moon against Scott Sawa’s Cactus, and the two did a skilled and joyful job of embodying multiple elements and acting as a Greek chorus to give us some context on the tortoise’s friendship.

They also taught us a bit about migration, water in the desert, and the difference between turtles and tortoises. Your older children might groan before and after the show that it’s for little kids, but my 10-going-on-30-year-old caught my eye several times as we shared embedded jokes meant for the older members of the audience, and he got in line to have his program signed after the show.

When my teens were tots, we were annual Lifeline Theatre KidSeries season subscribers. We’ve adored their amazing, original book based adaptations for decades. Their production values are excellent and they’re one of our favorites for introducing young children to their first live theatre offerings. They truly are a lifeline for families, bringing stellar stories to life on stage, and often fostering a lifelong love of theatre arts.