Two of Chicago’s strongest selling points are its vibrant theatre scene and its beautiful lakefront, and the Chicago Park District’s annual Theatre on the Lake Summer Theatre Festival, which showcases encore performances of some of the most exciting professional productions from the previous Off-Loop theatre season, celebrates both. Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alumni, faculty, and students are involved in three companies being showcased at this summer’s Theatre on the Lake festival–Bailiwick Chicago, with Murder Ballad; Theater Oobleck, with Song About Himself; and Jackalope Theatre, with Four—at the Berger Park Cultural Center, 6205 N. Sheridan Rd., in Chicago’s Edgewater community.
Bailiwick Chicago launches the Theatre on the Lake Summer Theatre Festival with a remount of its April-May hit Murder Ballad, a musical by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash. The show runs June 17-28. Bailiwick’s Director of Artistic Development, Columbia College Musical Theatre Program alumnus Jon Martinez, is adapting the show’s original direction and choreography by James Beaudry for this reprise engagement; Rory Beckett, a student in Columbia’s Musical Theatre Program, is the assistant stage manager. Bailiwick’s production was the Chicago premiere of this sexy rock musical about a love triangle gone wrong.
Theater Oobleck’s Song About Himself, written by Columbia College Theatre Department faculty member Mickle Maher, runs July 8–19. Employing extremely minimalist staging and an original form of ornate verse derived from a corruption of Walt Whitman’s classic book of poetry Leaves of Grass, Song About Himself is set in a dystopian future where the Internet has been effectively destroyed by viruses and malware, and people communicate in little more than mumbles. The protagonist–a woman made extraordinary by her ability to speak relatively clearly–signs in to a mysterious social media site created by a rogue artificial intelligence within the Web itself, only to find that, strangely, she is its only member. The secrets she uncovers there will either cure or break her lonely heart. Song About Himself originally ran last March and April. Maher is also the author of Spirits to Enforce, which ran in the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department’s 2014-15 mainstage season last February.
Four, presented by Jackalope Theatre, runs July 22–August 2. Written by Obie Award-winning playwright Christopher Shinn, it concerns two couples–one gay, one straight–connecting on a lonely Fourth of July in Hartford in 1996. When the show was presented by Jackalope in February and March, Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department student Michael Kurowski was singled out by Time Out Chicago theatre critic Kris Vire in his review. “Jackalope finds quiet fireworks in a finely observed revival of Christopher Shinn’s 1998 play,” the review began, adding: “Newcomer Kurowski, a Columbia College junior, is particularly impressive in his nuanced portrait of a nervous kid doing his best to project confidence.” The cast also includes former Columbia College student Daniel Martinez, and Columbia College Theatre alumni on the creative/production team include scenic designer Mike Mroch, costume designer Delia Ridenour, assistant director Erin Shea Brady, master electrician Claire Sangster, scenic artist Zoe Claster, and “basketball consultant” Behzad Dabu. Jackalope was founded in 2008 by Columbia College Theatre seniors A.J. Ware, Kaiser Ahmed, and Gus Menary as an outgrowth of a spring class project in which they were assigned to create a fictional theatrical production company. The project went so well that they decided to make their project a reality, and that summer Jackalope Theatre Company was born.
Tickets to all shows in the Theatre on the Lake Summer Theatre Festival are only $10. For tickets, click here.