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Barrel of Monkeys' THAT'S WEIRD, GRANDMA: 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS Set for 4/17-18

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Company members old and new will reunite as Barrel of Monkeys celebrates 15 years of its hit revue THAT'S WEIRD, GRANDMA with two special anniversary performances on Sunday April 17 at 2 pm and Monday, April 18 at 8 pm at its long-time home, the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are available at www.barrelofmonkeys.org.

The special 90-minute production will feature 30 sketches and songs, two from each of the 15 years THAT'S WEIRD, GRANDMA has been performed at Neo-Futurist theater, including plenty of audience favorites. Directed by current Artistic Director Joseph Schupbach and Founding Artistic Director Halena Kays, the 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS will feature long-time company members, as well as out-of-town artists returning to the show they performed in years ago. Back in the booth is Maggie Fullilove-Nugent, who served as the company's stage manager for ten years. All of the stories are written by Chicago Public School students and adapted for the stage by Barrel of Monkeys Company Members.

The 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW cast includes active company members Kassi Bleifuss, Brandon Cloyd, Lindsey Dorcus, Linsey Falls, Jennifer Johnson, Laura McKenzie, Spencer Meeks, Meredith Milliron, Shá Norman, Tai Palmgren, Zoe Schwartz, Jason Sperling, Kate Staiger, Brad Stevens, Rawson Vint, Curtis Williams and Rachel Wilson. Emeritus and out-of-town members include Brenda Arellano, Tom Arvetis, Lisa Barker, Luke Hatton (former Artistic Director), Tom Malinowski, Philip Markle, Eric Silverberg, Mike Spatafora and Kristie Vuocolo (former Executive Director).

"I am absolutely thrilled about this celebration," comments Artistic Director Joseph Schupbach. "I have the incredible opportunity to co-direct with Founding Artistic Halena Kays, who led the company for ten years - and welcome back alumni into the cast. My relationship with 'Grandma' now spans eleven years, so I'm delighted to put some of my favorite stories back on stage. Long-time audience members will enjoy some 'oldies' and brand new audience will be delighted to see this mega-sized cast perform the written work of Chicago Public Schools students. There will be song, dance, puppets, short films, surprises, blasts from the past and much more. It will undoubtedly be a magical place to spend 90 minutes."

Barrel of Monkeys, a Chicago-based arts education theater ensemble now in its 19th season, conducts creative writing workshops with 3rd through 5th grade students in underserved Chicago Public Schools. The ensemble of actor-educators then turns their stories and words into professionally performed theater, presented both in-school and for the general public through its revues. Barrel of Monkeys annually performs more than 300 student-written stories for the students in their schools and 175 stories on the stage for the general public. Clever and funny - touching and poignant - the collection of short sketches and songs featured in THAT'S WEIRD, GRANDMA is equally entertaining for adults and children.

Photo by Evan Hanover


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