Join us for our 37th season of BIG STORIES, UP CLOSE!
It’s a year of unforgettable stories brought to life, from beloved classics to thrilling original works.
The 2019-20 MainStage season features a return to classic whodunit Whose Body?, followed by an epic adaptation of National Book Award winner Middle Passage, and concludes with a world premiere rock musical based off Norse mythology LOKI, The End of the World Tour.
The KidSeries season opens with our musical adaptation of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, followed by a world premiere adaptation of Bunny’s Book Club, and concludes with a world premiere musical adaptation of Neither.
Additionally, Lifeline Theatre will produce the 22nd Annual Fillet of Solo Festival, a three-week, multi-venue solo performance and storytelling festival.
September 6 – October 27, 2019
Based on the classic mystery novel by Dorothy L. Sayers
Adapted by Frances Limoncelli
Directed by Jess Hutchinson
When a dead body turns up in a bathtub wearing nothing but a pair of pince-nez, amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey assigns himself to the case. However, when the mystery becomes labyrinthine he enlists the help of close friend Inspector Parker to follow his only lead, a teaching hospital near the scene of the crime. Could it be a harmless prank by a medical student or something more sinister? Follow the clues and uncover the truth in this beloved 1923 whodunit by Dorothy L. Sayers.Ensemble member Frances Limoncelli, adaptor of 2009’s Busman’s Honeymoon (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation), 2006’s Gaudy Night (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation), and 2004’s Strong Poison (Non-Equity Jeff Awards: New Adaptation) re-explores this beloved and charming whodunit for a new generation.
February 14 – April 5, 2020
Based on the National Book Award winning novel by Charles Johnson
Co-adapted by David Barr III & Ilesa Duncan
Directed by Ilesa Duncan
Middle Passage is an epic work adapted from Charles Johnson’s celebrated book of the same name. Written for the stage by David Barr, III and Ilesa Duncan, the story follows cavalier, self-confessed rascal Rutherford Calhoun, a recently freed slave, from Illinois down to decadent 1830 New Orleans. In an attempt to escape debtors and avoid a forced marriage, he stows away on an outbound rigger, The Republic. But The Republic is not just any ship. It’s a slave ship — and it’s headed to Africa. Thus begins a voyage of self-discovery that changes our young hero forever.Co-adaptors David Barr III and Ilesa Duncan, Lifeline Artistic Director, revisit Johnson’s epic tale, originally mounted at Pegasus Theatre in 2016 under the title Rutherford’s Travels, to share a tale of personal growth within a dark phase of American history. Of Middle Passage, the Chicago Tribune said, “Long after we’d stopped believing in the great American novel, along comes a spellbinding adventure story that may be just that.”
LOKI, THE END OF THE WORLD TOUR
May 22 – July 12, 2020
Welcome to the greatest rock and roll show not on Earth! From award-winning artists George Howeand ensemble member Christina Calvit comes a world premiere rock musical based on known, and maybe not-so-known, Norse mythology. Join Odin, Freya, Thor, and the original bad boy himself, Loki, as they explore the role of the outsider in society and question what is good and what is evil, all while is thrashing their way to Ragnarok. This show tells the stories of the gods as you’ve never seen — or heard — them before.Ensemble member Christina Calvit and composer George Howe, reuniting from 2005’s Queen Lucia: A Musical Romp (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Work – Musical), join ensemble member Heather Currie(You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?), making her MainStage directorial debut, in bringing you a world premiere musical about the complexities of juggling relationships and ultimate power.
LYLE, LYLE, CROCCODILE
October 19 – November 24, 2019
Adapted by Christina Calvit
Music and lyrics by George Howe
Directed by Amanda Link
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 Primms 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.
BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB
January 11 – February 16, 2020
Ever since he overheard the librarian reading outside of the library, Bunny has been enamored with books. But upon reflection, he isn’t sure if animals are allowed in the library. With the help of his furry friends, Bunny decides to share his love for reading and start a book club, but how can they get their hands on those books? Celebrate the joy of reading in this world premiere adaptation of Annie Silvestro’s celebrated picture book.Ensemble member Aly Renee Amidei (Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters) tackles Annie Silvestro’s new book about a group of friends who are inspired by their local library and quench their thirst for knowledge by starting a book club.
March 14 – April 19, 2020
A world premiere musical based on the book by Airlie Anderson
Co-adapted by Jeff Trainor and Bilal Dardal
In the land of This and That there are only two kinds of animals, these and those. Then, one day something different hatches! But it isn’t this or that. Is it both, or is it neither? What do you do when you feel you don’t belong? Based on the book by Airlie Anderson, explore the things that make us unique in this world premiere musical that teaches that it’s our differences that make us special.Ensemble member Bilal Dardai (The Man Who Was Thursday) joins forces with Jeff Trainor to bring our young audiences a world premiere musical that teaches them important lessons about what happens when you don’t fit, embracing our unique qualities, and self-love.
THE 2019-20 LIFELINE CONCERT READING SERIES
The Dorothy L. Sayers Series
Strong Poison: November 6, 2019
Gaudy Night: March 18, 2020
Busman’s Honeymoon: June 17, 2020
Tickets: $75; $50 for Lifeline subscribers.
Lifeline continues one of its favorite traditions with another season of concert readings and this year we’re pleased as punch to return to Dorothy L. Sayers’s beloved novels adapted by ensemble member Frances Limoncelli!All readings will feature numerous Lifeline ensemble actors and returning favorites. More info forthcoming!Each evening begins at 6 p.m. with a light supper plus beer and wine (and conversation with the cast and Lifeline ensemble). At 7 p.m., the performances start. (Script times vary, but are approximately two and a half hours in length.) Afterwards, coffee and dessert will be served.Only 108 tickets will be sold for each performance. Tickets can only be ordered by calling the Lifeline Box Office at 773-761-4477.
THE 23RD ANNUAL FILLET OF SOLO FESTIVAL
January 10 – 26, 2020
Tickets: $10 per performance; Festival Pass: $60
Celebrating the breadth of Chicago’s enduring storytelling and live lit scene, Lifeline brings more than a dozen storytelling collectives and numerous solo performers together for a three-week, multi-venue selection of powerful personal stories.Participants, locations, scheduling, and full details for the 2020 Fillet of Solo Festival will be announced Fall 2019