Thursday, June 23, 2011

The New Season

It's official - we've announced our next season! 

Subscriptions are available now!
Purchase your FlashPass today!

And in case you missed it, here is A Red Orchid's 2011-2012 Season:

Fall 2011
BECKY SHAW By Gina Gionfriddo
A Chicago Premiere Directed by Damon Kiely
Featuring Ensemble Members Lance Baker, Jennifer Engstrom and Mierka Girten
September 22 – November 6, 2011

Sharp wit and shifting moral ground play out with the taut suspense of a psychological thriller. This Pulitzer-prize finalist and comedy of bad manners, tangled love and sex had its debut at the Humana Festival. When Suzanna decides to set her best friend Max up on a blind date with her husband's mysterious co-worker, Becky Shaw, she sets into motion a series of cataclysmic events forever transforming each of their lives.

* * * * -The Guardian
“as engrossing as it is ferociously funny” -New York Times
“a reality check for the idealistic… like the best kind of theatre, it makes us ask questions.” -Londonist

Winter 2012
MEGACOSM A World Premiere by Brett Neveu
Directed by Dado
Featuring Ensemble Members Larry Grimm and Danny McCarthy
And at least one member of the A Red Orchid Youth Ensemble
January 12 – February 19, 2012

With existential terror, Megacosm presents us with a world full of revolt and chaos both inside and out. An industrialist in the near future utilizes every means possible to get an inventor to sign over his revolutionary creation that will inevitably change the world. Corporate greed never met creative angst with such dramatic and hilarious results.

Spring 2012
Directed by Shade Murray
Featuring Ensemble Members Kirsten Fitzgerald and Natalie West
March 29-May 13, 2012

Skewed family values and the deep and dark secrets they create become a life force for Valerie, the infamous butcher of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Once her husband has gone missing everyone suspects she played a hand, especially her nosy sister-in-law who just happens to be the town sheriff. Enter the drug-pushing pharmacist daughter who just might hold the key to the ultimate unanswered questions.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Follow the Cast: We're JEFF RECOMMENDED

This is the final installment of the "Follow the Cast" for Machiavelli's "The Mandrake", translated by Peter Constantine and  Directed by Steve Cross. If you haven't seen some of the reviews out there, we are JEFF RECOMMENDED. So make sure you come out and see this fantastic and hilarious production!

Doug Vickers as "Nicia" rolls up his sleeves during rehearsals.
 Name: Doug Vickers

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Last shows you were seen in: "Louis Slotin Sonata" at AROT, "U.N. Inspector" at Next Theatre
Favorite AROT Production: "Grey Zone", "Seahorse", and "Abigal's Party"

Character: Nicia

Describe your character in three words: Dense, dense, dense.
Favorite part of the process so far: Bits!
Favorite line in the show: "What a milksop you are!"
Favorite Italian Dish: Fettucini/ Sausage in Tomato Cream Sauce

Has your view of Machiavelli changed since you began working on this show?
Why should people come see this show?
To laugh out loud!

Lance Baker as "Ligurio" kneels in rehearsals.
 Name: Lance Baker

Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin
Alma Matter: DePaul University
Last shows you were seen in: "Sleuth", "Around the World in 80 Days", "Spin", "Speed-the-Plow"
Favorite AROT Production: "The Questioning of Nick"

Character: Ligurio

Describe your character in three words: Charming, swindler, obsequiois.
Favorite part of the process so far: Steve Scott's gut laugh.
Favorite line in the show: "By Saint Puccio's Pussy!"
Favorite Italian Dish: Monica Belluci

Has your view of Machiavelli changed since you began working on this show?
He wrote plays?!
Why should people come see this show?
If you don't enjoy it - free wine!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Follow the Cast: Friars and Servants and Laughs, OH MY!

Friar Timeto "in disguise" played by David
Chrzanowski (right) helps with the scheming of
Callimaco played by Steve Haggard (left).
 Name: David Chrzanowski

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Alma Mater: Roosevelt University
Last shows you were seen in: "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" at Court Theatre, "The Rivals" at Polarity Theatre, and "Wake" at 16th Street Theatre
Favorite AROT Production: "Fastest Clock in the Universe"

Character: Friar Timeteo

Describe your character in 3 words: Opportunist and puppet master
Favorite part of the process so far: Working with the ensemble!
Favorite line in the show: The name "Lucrezia" cracks me up for some strange reason.
Favorite Italian Dish: My mom's lasagna.
Has your view of Machiavelli changed since you began working on this show?
Learning how many positions of power Machiavelli held in Florence and his complete fall from the church's grace.

Why should people come see this show?
Because we break the "fourth wall" and engage our audience! This makes every night different and fun.

Siro played by Brian Kavanaugh (left) is being
informed of what to do by his master Callimaco
played by Steve Haggard (right).
 Name: Brian Kavanaugh

Hometown: Albany, New York
Alma Mater: Hartwick College (Oneonta, NY)
Last shows you were seen in: "Bus Stop" at The Den Theatre
Favorite AROT Production: "Mistakes Were Made" and "The Sea Horse"

Character: Siro

Describe your character in 3 words: Reluctant, amazed, horny
Favorite part of the process so far: Learning from the cast how to "play" during the rehearsal process.
Favorite Italian Dish: My mom's pizza.

Favorite line in the show: "I had to shit my guts out to learn a word or two of Latin."

Has your view of Machiavelli changed since you began working on this show?
Yes, I learned who he was.

Why should people come see this show?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Day in the City of Machiavelli's The Mandrake

Florence, Italy
Floating above the city of Florence, this is the view Machiavelli had from his days in exile.

   From the top of Pizzale Michaelangelo (a good hike and what feels similar to an eternity on a  stairmaster) the greatness of the city cannot be questioned. From such great heights, any city might be able impress. But it is the history and the legends behind Florence, however, that create the sense of eminence.

  Galileo once questioned the universe in this city. Michaelangelo chiseled a modest self-portrait into the Palazzo Vecchio, after he created one of the world's most famous men out of stone. And above all, our beloved poet and playwright, Niccolo Machiavelli, walked these streets. A political mind, a master of words, he carved a story and place for the city of Florence, and was even banished from it's walls. His love affair with the "Jewel of the Renaissance", is manifested in his work.

La Mandragola, Italian for The Mandrake, comes to life in the streets of Florence. The grandeur of dupery that centers our play, is mastered by street artists on unsuspecting tourists and shop owners wanting to close shop early for their well deserved dinner, and is as grand as the buildings that make up the city. 
The city is as sweet as it is devilsh: 
Machiavellian at it's core. 

The transportation system, for example. The availability and beauty of the buses are so apparently wonderful, it makes the EL look like a rickety toy train. Yet, once onboard, the reality is if you don't already know your stop and its surroundings, the bus route in its entirety, and any side roads the driver feels like taking that day, you don't belong on the bus. Actually, you don't belong in the city. this place is not user friendly. Innate knowledge is the only way of mastering this system. 

A city made of walking, and there are no sidewalks. The customer is never right, at the customer service desk. A country of Slow Food, and quick espresso fuels the chef. 

Florence is as serious as it is satiricial. And maybe part of it is the pride: a pride of history, wisdom, celebrity, and even the no nonsense that begets nonsense. 
It's an understanding that while the world becomes ever more cosmopolitan and ever more global, Florence remains elementary, local, and classically unqiue. 

The world may be changing, but the Florentine ways do not. 

 “I'm not interested in preserving the status quo; 
I want to overthrow it.”
-Niccolo Machiavelli

Classily overthrowing the powers that be, is what makes The Mandrake so Florentine. 
The blurred line of right and wrong, of risk and safety, satire and honesty. 

But as the playwright himself says: 
"Never was anything great achieved without danger."

This fiendish city, is where our story takes place.

A Red Orchid Theatre finishes up the 2010/2011 Season with Machiavelli's satire, 
The Mandrake
Directed by Steve Scott, translation by Peter Constantine. 
Running from April 8-May 22nd

Featuring A Red Orchid Ensemble Members Lance Baker (Ligurgio), Steve Haggard (Callimaco) and Doug Vickers (Messer Nichia), with David Chrzanowski (Friar Timoteo), Brian Kavanaugh (Siro), Cheyenne Pinson(Lucrezia) and Lucinda Johnston (Sostrata).

The creative team includes Grant Sabin (Set Designer), Jeremy W Floyd(Costume Designer), Michael Stanfill (Lighting Designer), Joe Fosco (Sound Designer), Doug Kupferman (Properties Designer). The Stage Manager is Stephanie HellerKelli Marino is Dramaturg, and Machiavelli and Political Theory Consultant is Cristophre Kayser.

For information on tickets and showtimes, visit our lovely website:

Or call (312) 943-8722

Check out our Facebook page for more updates and information, including discounts!

~Pictures and piece by A Red Orchid Abroad: Florence, Italy

Friday, April 1, 2011

Follow the Cast: LADIES NIGHT

It's that time of the week again! We are showcasing our two lovely ladies in Machiavelli's "THE MANDRAKE". They play the mother and daughter duo of Sostrata and Lucrezia in this hilarious Italian comedy.

Cheyenne Pinson as "Lucrezia" (left) is being consolded
by her mother "Sostrata" played by Lucinda Johnston (right).

Name: Lucinda Johnston

Hometown: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Alma Matter: Univeristy of Wisconsin - Milwaukee & University of Wisconsin - Stout
Last shows you were seen in: "Jake's Women" at Citadel Theatre
Favorite AROT Production: "Weapon of Mass Impact"

Character: Sostrata

Describe your character in 3 words: Whole -lotta-Strata!
Favorite part of the process so far: Arriving at the theatre.
Favorite line in the show: "No, that's not it."
Favorite Italian dish: Sophia Loren -- my idol!

Has your view of Machiavelli changed since you began working on this show?
No, I still have a crush on him.

Why should people come see this show?
How often do you get the chance to yuck it up over Machiavelli?

Cheyenne Pinson as "Lucrezia" kneels before
 the heavens before leaving for home with mother 
"Sostrata" played by Lucinda Johnston in the 

Name: Cheyenne Pinson

Hometown: West Bloomfield, Michigan
Alma Matter: Michigan State University
Last show you were seen in: Sketchbook with Collaboraction
Favorite AROT Production: This one!

Character: Lucrezia

Describe your character in 3 words: Smart and gullible.
Favorite part of the process so far: I love these initial rehearsals - talking, experimenting, and laughing a lot.
Favorite line in the show: "I have a false nose at home."
Favorite Italian dish: Spaghetti & meatballs, mmm.

Has your view of Machiavelli changed since you began working on this show?
I understand more about him each time - loving every new bit I get.

Why should people come see this show?
This cast is brilliantly funning. Watching rehearsal kills me - can't imagine how fabulous this show is going to be! I can't wait.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Mandrake: Follow the Cast

Here at A Red Orchid Theatre we want to include you - the audience and loyal supporters - in the process of the upcoming production of Machiavelli's "The Mandrake". Our fabulous and super cool interns created a short questionnaire to ask the cast about their experience in the rehearsal process. Keep track as we post more and more of these so you all can get to know the actors in a new light.

Steve Haggard as "Callimaco" in rehearsal.

Name: Steve Haggard (AROT Ensemble Member)
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Alma Matter: DePaul University
Last shows you were seen in: "Kimberly Akimbo" at AROT, "As You Like It" and "Romeo & Juliet" at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre
Favorite AROT Production: "Abigal's Party" and "The New Electric Ballroom"

Character: Callimaco
Describe your character in 3 words: Amazing. Passionate. Needy.
Favorite part of the process so far: Laughing at my funny funny cast mates.
Favorite line in the show: "Oh, the anguish!"
Favorite Italian dish: Bruschetta

Has your view on Machiavelli changed since you began working on this show?
He is much funnier than I thought he was.

Why should people come see this show? It's surprising and uncomfortably funny. There will not be another production of this play done in such an intimate way in which you as an audience member can be such a part of the intrigue and scheming.


Thursday, March 10, 2011


We are incredibly excited to announce the cast and crew of our final show of the 2010-2011 season:

Machiavelli’s The Mandrake

With the brilliant director STEVE SCOTT, (associate producer of Goodman Theatre, member of the Goodman’s Artistic Collective) behind the wheel, The Mandrake is sure to be a success.

Featuring the talents of Steve Haggard, Lance Baker,
Doug Vickers, David Chrzanowski, Brian Kavanaugh,
Cheyenne Pinson,and Lucinda Johnston

AND a fabulous behind the scenes team of Josh Sobel, Grant Sabin, Jeremy W Floyd, Michael Stanfill, Joe Fosco, Doug Kupferman, Stephanie Heller, Donnie Sheldon, Meg Lindsey, Kelli Marino, and Cris Kayser 

Previews: April 8 & 9 at 8:00PM & April 10 at 3:00PM
Opening night: Monday April 11, 2011 at 7:00PM
The Mandrake is scheduled to run at A Red Orchid on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00PM and on Sundays at 3:00PM
Closing Performance: Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 3:00PM 


Written while Machiavelli was in exile for allegedly plotting against the Medici clan, "The Mandrake" or "Mandragola" details the corruption of Italian society in a series of increasingly comical scenes that culminate in the cuckolding of a powerful Florentine aristocrat. The author depicts human nature just as he has come to know it, and the sinister fruits of his studies have delighted audiences to this day, for we recognize our own failures in Machiavelli's creations--characters too quick to compromise personal ethics in order to accommodate a corrupt and demeaning world, too easily persuaded to lie, cheat, swindle, and deceive, or close their eyes to deception, in order to ensure some small improvement in their miserable lives, always espousing the mantra that "the end justifies the means." "The Mandrake" is a powerful comic treatise on immorality, a diagnosis of cultural disease, and perhaps the finest surviving example of the Italian Renaissance comedy of intrigue. 

But when evening falls I go home and enter my writing room. On the threshold I put off my country habits filthy with mud and mire and array myself in royal courtly garments. Thus worthily attired I make my entrance into the ancient courts of the men of old where they receive me with love and where I feed upon that food which only is my own and for which I was born.
-Niccolo Machiavelli

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Earl Extended!

Just got the word that The Inconvenience will extend their run of The Earl, showing right here at A Red Orchid Theatre, until March 2.  The show has been called "A stunner" (Time Out Chicago), "A thrilling little piece of pulp fiction" (Chicago Theatre Blog), and "A quality piece of work" (Around the Town Chicago).  This is a great show and a great group of young artists, so come out and show your support.

The New York Branch

With all of the excitement of The New Electric Ballroom, the great reviews, and the exciting Jeff Recommendation, we don't want to forget about our New York ensemble in Mistakes Were Made.  Mike Shannon and Mierka Girten will be closing the New York production on February 27, so a hearty Congratulations and Job Well Done goes out to them.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Earl at Red Orchid

Don't forget that The Earl is also playing at A Red Orchid.  This one is scheduled to close February 23, so get out and see it while you can. 

Industry Night

A quick reminder that Industry Night for The New Electric Ballroom will be this Monday, February 14.  Tickets are pay what you can, but you should still call us to reserve your seats.

What a great way to tell someone special, Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It's hard to ignore the common elements of the two shows currently running here at A Red Orchid Theatre, especially when you realize that it wasn't exactly intentional.  Both shows are about siblings and family.  The New Electric Ballroom delves into three sisters' emotional and psychological scars, while The Earl depicts three brothers giving each other actual scars. 

Both shows also question the appropriate role of the siblings within the family.  The older sisters in Ballroom obsessively relive their past in hope that the youngest will learn from their mistakes, teaching her to fear the world outside and to find safety in their home.  So what are they ultimately denying her?  The long-absent brother in The Earl returns home and is chastized for leaving.  The brothers who remained at home have been involved (at least somewhat) with the care of their mother, and have (at least somewhat) the care of the brutal game the brothers play.  Was he wrong to leave, wrong to trust his brothers as keepers of their tradition?

Both shows offer an interesting story, intriguing characters, and as many layers of meaning as you are willing to peel away. 

Both will make you feel better about your disfuntional family.

Both are showing at A Red Orchid Theatre.

Tickets for The New Electric Ballroom can be purchased here, or by calling the box office at A Red Orchid Theatre.

Tickets for The Earl can be purchased here, or by calling the box office at The Inconvenience.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Warm Up at The New Electric Ballroom

Tickets are 2-for-1 through Sunday, so that means two tickets for $30.  The Chicago Tribune called it "Fearless and intense,” the Examiner said it's ...“maddening, provocative and at times wildly comic,” and the Chicago SunTimes raves "A Red Orchid's Ballroom is simply electrifying."

This is a great deal for a show that is Jeff Recommended, so take advantage of it while you can.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Blizzard vs. The Earl

What incredible timing.  To have one of the worst blizzards hit Chicago just when The Earl is ready to open.  While most of us decided to stay warm and cozy in our homes Tuesday night, The Inconvenience went ahead with their scheduled performance of The Earl at A Red Orchid Theatre.  Last night's performance went on as well, and everyone in the nearly-full audience was invited to the reception afterwards.  The entire cast from Red Orchid's 2006 production of The Earl was in attendance, as was Brett Neveu, the playwright, and Red Orchid ensemble members Kirstend Fitzgerald and Guy Van Swearingen.

Anyone who saw The Earl at A Red Orchid in 2005 should be ready to see some major changes this time around.  Director Duncan Riddell (also Literary Manager at A Red Orchid) offers plenty of blood in his version, as well as some hard hits and hearty laughs.  Danny Goldring returns as the title character, but the rest of the cast is brand new. Christopher Chmelik, Walter Briggs, and Ryan Bourque (all members of The Inconvenience) are the three brothers who delight in beating each other to bloody pulps while telling jokes and discussing their mother's well-being.  All the performances were great, and this is a show that no one should miss.

Congratulations to The Inconvenience on their first full theatrical production, and we're glad that A Red Orchid Theatre could be a part of it.  Tickets are available through The Inconvenience, either by calling their box office or through their website

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jeff Recommended!

With the press opening behind us, we are starting to see some reviews coming in for The New Electric Ballroom.  The few that have come out are good.  But the great news is that the show has been Jeff Recommended, which could mean nominations at the end of the season.

And having seen the show, I can see why it caught the attention of the Jeff Committee.  Kirsten Fitzgerald and Guy Van Swearingen, both give outstanding performances.  After the family and friends premier, there were several comparisons made between the performances they give in Ballroom and the performances they gave several years ago when they performed together in The Seahorse.  Kate Buddeke, who is returning to Red Orchid, and Laurie Larson, who is here for the first time, also offer fantastic performances.  When you see them on stage together, you know you are watching four professionals at their best.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Major Happenings

The opening for The New Electric Ballroom is almost here!  There are still tickets available for the previews this weekend.  Tickets for previews and all other shows can be purchased here, at our website. 

In this show by Irish playwright Enda Walsh, three sisters relive memories of something resembling romance with hilarious and horrible effect.  Interruptions from the local fishmonger only remind of the dangers of love and life outside.  Words, in Mr. Walsh’s harsh but illuminating vision, are both the making of experience and its destruction.  How do we share our history and how does it shape us?

Also, we will be welcoming The Inconvience back to A Red Orchid in February, for their production of The Earl.  You can catch them February 2nd through the 23rd, and more information (and a great picture of the actors) is available here.

And finally, a heartfelt congratulations to Mike Shannon, who was named one of Newcity's 50 People Who Really Perform in Chicago.  At No. 23, he even made into the top half.  You can see the whole list here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Between Shows

Since the Iliad has closed, and with the opening of New Electric Ballroom a couple weeks away, things have been deceptively quiet here at Red Orchid.  Rehersals are ongoing for the cast of Ballroom and set construction has begun for the show, as well.  The ensemble has also been reading through scripts, looking for potential shows for next season.

Keep in mind that Ballroom has previews on January 21, 22, and 23, and tickets for those shows are only $15. 

Also coming up, The Inconvience will be back at A Red Orchid in February to perform The Earl. The dates and times are on their website.