“RECOMMENDED – For younger theatergoers, who are fans of Bernard Waber’s series of picture books…Christina Calvit’s play is a dream come true. She’s actually combined both the original book and its sequel, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile to create this 60-minute tuneful treat.”
While the Primm family is busily moving into their new home on East 88th Street, they are shocked to discover a crocodile in their bathtub! His name is Lyle, he performs tricks, and, oh, he only eats Turkish caviar. The Primm’s are quick to welcome Lyle into the family, but not everyone is so thrilled about a crocodile living on the block. Discover the meaning of family in this musical based off the beloved classic by Bernard Waber.
Ensemble member Christina Calvit (Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Snowflake Tim’s Big Holiday) joins George Howe (Arnie the Doughnut, Mr. Popper’s Penguins) and ensemble member Amanda Link (Sparky!, The Velveteen Rabbit ) to introduce Bernard Waber’s classic to a new generation.
Heather has been a Lifeline ensemble member since 2013. Lifeline acting credits include: Jane Eyre (2014), One Came Home, Duck for President (2008 & 2012), How to Survive a Fairy Tale, Click Clack BOO! A Tricky Treat, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Ms. Currie will direct the upcoming Lifeline MainStage production Loki The End of the World Tour. Lifeline directing credits include: Time Warp Trio, You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?, Fableous!, and Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters. Recent directing credits: Spamalot (Wilmette Center for the Arts), Madagascar – A Musical Adventure and Junie B. Jones: The Musical (Magik Theatre, San Antonio), and Steel Magnolias (Big Noise Theatre). Heather teaches screenwriting in the department of Cinema and Television Arts at Columbia College Chicago.
Gabriel Fries (Mr. Primm/Mr. Grumps)
Gabriel is excited to be returning to Lifeline where he previously understudied You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? Favorite Chicago credits include: It’s a Wonderful Life (Oil Lamp Theater), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Metropolis PAC), The Adventures of Robin Hood (Adventure Stage), The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier (Permoveo Productions/PFP), Peter and the Starcatcher (E.D.G.E. Theatre), and The Kid Thing (Nothing Without a Company). You can catch him next in The Polar Express. Gabriel holds a BA from Wesleyan University. www.gabrielfries.net
Matt Patrick (Josh/Hector P. Valenti)
Matt is excited to make his Lifeline Theatre debut! Favorite credits include: The Magic Treehouse: A Great Day For Baseball (Emerald City Theatre), Hands On a Hardbody (Refuge Theatre Project), The Rink (Porchlight Music Theatre), and The Lincoln Center Nat’l Tour of South Pacific (NETWorks).
Christopher Vizurraga (Lyle)
This is Christopher’s fourth show with Lifeline following Miss Buncle’s Book, Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters, and the first national tour of Giggle, Giggle, Quack. Other Chicago area credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I Heart Juliet (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Captain Blood and Women in Jeopardy (First Folio Theatre), Pirandello’s Henry IV (Remy Bumppo), The Drowsy Chaperone (Metropolis Performing Arts), and The Wizard of Oz (Windy City Performs). He has also understudyed at Chicago Shakespeare, Court Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Shakespeare Project of Chicago. www.christopherviz.weebly.com
Grace Bobber (u/s Mrs. Primm)
Grace is thrilled to work with Lifeline for the first time! Recent Chicago understudy credits include: All That He Was (Pride Films & Plays), The Full Monty (Theo Ubique), Pinkalicious (Marriott), and My Wonderful Birthday Suit! (Chicago Children’s Theater). Grace is a recent Northwestern School of Communication and Bienen School of Music graduate. Next role on deck: Mom in Knuffle Bunny (Northbrook Theatre). www.gracebobber.com!
Neill Kelly (u/s Lyle)
Neill is thrilled to be joining Lifeline Theatre this fall for their productions of Whose Body? and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile! Recent Chicago credits include: Spamalot (Wilmette Center for the Arts), A Year With Frog and Toad and Kiss Me, Kate (Big Noise Theatre), and Oliver!, Shrek: The Musical,and The Wizard Of Oz (Windy City Performs). Other favorite credits include: A Christmas Carol, The Grapes of Wrath, Macbeth, Into The Woods, Dog Sees God, The Pillowman, and Spring Awakening (New Stage Theatre and Actor’s Playhouse in Jackson, Mississippi). Neill is a graduate of the University of Mississippi where he earned a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre.
Joe Liolos (u/s Mr. Primm/Mr. Grumps)
Joe is excited and grateful to be making his Lifeline debut with this awesome cast! Chicago credits include: The Water Children (Cuckoos Theater Project), Language of Angels (Cuckoos Theater Project), and understudy for True West, The Heavens are Hung in Black, and In the Heat of the Night (Shattered Globe Theatre). He also performs with his improv team Spuds and Stouts regularly, is a graduate both Second City’s Improv Conservatory, and Shattered Globe Theatre’s Protegé program in 2016.
Jordan Moore (u/s Josh/Hector P. Valenti)
Jordan is excited to be making his Lifeline Theatre debut with Lyle, Lyle Crocodile! He was last seen on in Chicago in Holding the Man (Pride Films & Plays). He is a recent graduate of Northwestern University where he studied Theatre and Acting for the Screen. His favorite productions there were Spring Awakening, Cabaret, In the Red and Brown Water, and Fuente Ovejuna. He would like to thank his family and Gray Talent Group for all the support! Instagram: @themooreyoukn0w
Christina Calvit (Adaptor)
Christina is a Lifeline Theatre ensemble member. She has written over twenty theatrical adaptations which have been performed throughout the United States and internationally. Her work has won five Joseph Jefferson Non-Equity Awards (most recently in 2016 for Miss Buncle’s Book), one Joseph Jefferson Equity Award and one After Dark Award. Most recent productions include: Sylvester, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre,Wuthering Heights,Queen Lucia: A Musical Romp (with composer/lyricist George Howe) and A Room with a View. Kidseries adaptations include: Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Rikki Tikki Taviand The Rescuers. Her original plays include Snowflake Tim’s Big Holiday Adventure, Chaos (co-writer), and Several Voices from the Cloud (Agnes Nixon Award, 1981). She’s currently working on a rock n’ roll musical about the Norse gods that will debut at Lifeline in spring of 2020: Loki, The End of the World Tour.
George Howe (Composer & Lyricist)
George has composed the scores for many Lifeline Theatre KidSeries shows including: Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Arnie the Doughnut, The Emperor’s Groovy New Threads, and five musicals in the Click, Clack Moo series. His MainStage musicals have each received Jeff Awards for Best New Musical; Queen Lucia: A Musical Romp, and Northanger Abbey. His latest musical, Loki: The End of the World Tour premieres Spring 2020.
Amanda Link (Director)
Amanda joined the Lifeline ensemble in 2013. Directing credits include: Anna Karenina, Sparky!, The Velveteen Rabbit and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! She has appeared in Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat; Duck For President; How To Survive A Fairy Tale; Dooby 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.
Kate Reed (Stage Manager)
Kate is excited to be working with Lifeline again after most recently stage managing last season’s Emma. Her Lifeline credits include several KidSeries productions: We Found A Hat, Bunnicula (2018), You Think It’s Easy Being The Tooth Fairy?, Arnie The Doughnut (2017), Fable-ous!, Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2015). Her other Chicago area credits include work with Griffin Theatre Company, Mudlark Theater, The Side Project, and the Northwestern University Theatre and Interpretation Center. She has a degree in Performance Studies from Northwestern University.
Eric Backus (Sound Designer)
Eric returns to Lifeline after working on We Found A Hat, Bunnicula(2018), Anna Karenina, Arnie the Doughnut(2017), A Wrinkle In Time (Jeff Award Nomination), and Northanger Abbey. He recently received two Jeff Nominations for Wolf Play (The Gift) and The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey(American Blues). Chicago: Every Brilliant Thing(Windy City Playhouse),and Sundown, Yellow Moon (Raven Theatre); Regional: Shakespeare in Love(TheatreSquared), Legally Blonde (Northern Stage), and Mark Twain’s River of Song (Milwaukee Rep.); Off-Broadway: Hollow/Wave (United Solo Festival), and Churchill(SoloChicago Theatre). To hear his music, please visit www.ericbackus.com.
Emma Cullimore (Props Designer)
Emma designs costumes and properties for The Plagiarists and costumes for Chicago Tap Theatre while also freelancing with other Chicago storefront companies. Outside of Chicago, her designs have been seen at the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, the Okoboji Summer Theatre, and internationally in Havana, Cuba. Emma holds an M.F.A. from the University of Alabama–Tuscaloosa, and a BFA from Stephens College.
Diane Fairchild (Assistant Director)
Noah Ginex (Puppet Designer)
This is Noah’s third time building for Lifeline Theatre, having most recently built puppets last year for Bunnicula, as well as Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2015). Noah has been building creatures around Chicagoland and across the country since 2003. A Joseph Jefferson Award Nominated puppet designer for the Avenue Q with Night Blue Entertainment, Noah has also built creatures for Threadless, the Masters film program at FSU, the USNA Glee Club, and the Juno-Award Winning Barenaked Ladies to name a few. To see more, go to www.noahginex.com.
Ricky Harris (Music Director)
The Ricky Harris is thrilled to be music directing with Lifeline. A local talent within the Chicagoland area, Ricky has recently music directed Cardboard Piano (Timeline Theatre), Hoodoo Love (Raven Theatre), First Deep Breathe (Victory Gardens) The Winter Wondrettes (Beverly Arts Center) and the Jeff Award Winning Direct From Death Row The Scottsboro Boys (Raven Theatre). He is also the host of the Facebook Live/Youtube show Places! Live!
Sanja Manakoski (Costume Designer)
Sanja is a Chicago-based costume designer with an M.F.A. from Northwestern University and B.F.A. from University of Arts in Belgrade. Before relocating to Chicago, Sanja worked in fashion, theatre and movie productions in Europe. She is one of the creators of the fashion label KLASA. She has designed for Lifeline Theatre, Teatro Vista, Pride Films and Plays, Gift Theatre, Writers Theatre, Western Stage, Redtwist Theatre, Northwestern University, Music Theatre Works and others throughout the country. Her costume design for the musical Hairreceived the ULUPUDS award for Outstanding Costume Design, and were exhibited in the Prague Quadrennial. She teaches costume and stage make-up design classes at Northwestern. www.sanjamanakoski.com.
Lauren M. Nichols (Scenic Designer)
Lauren is a freelance designer and works full time assisting as a model-maker and draftsperson. Recent designs include: Queen of the Mist(Firebrand), Bright Star andBig Fish (Boho), Mamma Mia! (Highland Park Players), Pinkalicious and The Cat In the Hat (Northbrook). Upcoming projects include work with Jackalope, Firebrand, and Harper College. M.F.A. Northwestern. laurenangeldesigns.com
Jonah White (Lighting Designer)
Jonah is glad to be working with Lifeline yet again. His previous lighting design credits include Piven Theatre Workshop’s My Home is Far Away and I Am My Neighborhood, as well as Moody Bible Institute’s Into the Woods and Parfumerie.
From Chicago Theatre Reviews Friendship and Family Affection Abounds
October 28, 2019
By Colin Douglas
RECOMMENDED What would you do if you just moved into a charming Victorian brownstone, on New York’s fashionable Upper East Side, only to discover there’s a crocodile in the bathtub of your new home? Well, after the initial shock, the Primm family decides that Lyle is a wonderful addition to their clan. He plays stickball with their young son, Josh. He helps the boy with his homework and he enjoys assisting Mrs. Primm with her household tasks.
However, their crabby neighbor, Mr. Grumps, doesn’t like Lyle at all because he frightens the old man’s cat, Loretta. When Mrs. Primm takes Lyle shopping with her at Macy’s, they chance to run into the crocodile’s original owner, Hector P. Valenti. The self-professed “Star of Stage and Screen,” Hector entices Lyle into performing their old act, which thoroughly entertains the customers. But the fun comes to an abrupt halt when Mr. Grumps, who happens to be the store manager, calls the police and has Lyle taken away to the Central Park Zoo. What will happen next?
For younger theatergoers, who are fans of Bernard Waber’s series of picture books, that began in 1962 with The House on 88th Street, Christina Calvit’s play is a dream come true. She’s actually combined both the original book and its sequel, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile to create this 60-minute tuneful treat. The show further delights with music and lyrics by George Howe.
Ensemble member Amanda Link has staged this warmhearted production with Lifeline Theatre’s typical stylized whimsy. the production is enhanced by Lauren M. Nichols’ colorful scenic design, which is based upon Bernard Waber’s expressive storybook illustrations. Jonah White and Eric Backus’ appropriate light and sound design, and Sanja Manakoski’s authentic-looking costumes, make it feel like the classic children’s storybook has come to life.
The four-member cast is, as always at Lifeline, superbly talented and amiably engaging. Leading the ensemble is easygoing Christopher Vizurrago, who plays Lyle with understated flair and finesse. He gets to strut his stuff in a big way, not only as a devoted family member, but as gifted song-and-dance reptile. This talented young actor can even juggle with ease. Matt Patrick, making his Lifeline debut, is sweet as young Josh Primm, but his most impressive role, among several others, is his flamboyant portrayal of the Italian-American star of theatre and cinema, Hector P. Valenti. Currently working as a salesman in Macy’s pajama department, Valenti regrets having left his beloved Lyle behind when he moved from East 88th Street. But when he’s accidentally reunited with his former show biz buddy, Valenti and Lyle easily fall back into their old musical routine, much to the delight of the entire store.
Heather Currie, a talented, longtime Lifeline ensemble member, is perfection as Mrs. Primm. She offers much maternal affection to both Jason and Lyle, while portraying the ever-supportive wife to her hardworking husband. Playing the gloomy Mr. Grumps, as well as the proper Mr. Primm, Gabriel Fries returns to Lifeline Theatre, after his hilarious performance in “You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?” Fries is a strong, gifted triple-threat who brings an abundance of energy to this production.
With the current popularity of this kind, affectionate musical comedy about friendship and family love, Christina Calvit might consider adapting some of Bernard Waber’s other Lyle the Crocodile stories for the stage. Following each performance, the cast gathers in the lobby for a meet-and-greet with their young fans. There, copies of Bernard Waber’s picture book are available for purchase, along with some yummy green crocodile-shaped cookies. Smartly directed by Amanda Link, with astute musical direction and accompaniment provided by Ricky Harris, and featuring a multitalented cast of young, enthusiastic actors, Lyle the Crocodile and his friends could easily become an annual fixture at Lifeline Theatre.