Photo Flash: First Look at The Gift Theatre's KENTUCKY

By: Oct. 21, 2019

The Gift Theatre will conclude its 2019 Season with the Chicago premiere of Leah Nanako Winkler's dark comedy KENTUCKY, directed by ensemble member Chika Ike*, playing October 17 - November 16, 2019 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Single tickets are currently available at, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office. The press opening is Sunday, October 20 at 2:30 pm.

KENTUCKY features ensemble members Paul D'Addario*, Martel Manning* and Hannah Toriumi* with Maryam Abdi, Ian Voltaire Deanes, Emjoy Gavino, Helen Joo Lee, Michael E. Martin, Emilie Modaff, Ana Silva and Jess Vann.

Two Sisters, Eccentric Parents, A Chatty Cat, And A Born-Again Wedding... What Could Go Wrong?

Hiro is a self-made single, almost 30 woman making it in New York while estranged from her dysfunctional family who lives in Kentucky. When her sister, a born-again Christian, decides to marry at 22, Hiro decides to do whatever she can to stop the wedding and salvage her sister's future. The themes of identity, religion and love collide in this unique coming-of-age story.

"You can't go home again - but sometimes you have to. Kentucky explores the ways in which we try to escape our past and what happens when confronted by it, particularly in the bizarre and stressful setting of a wedding," comment The Gift Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton* and Associate Artistic Directors Emjoy Gavino and Paul D'Addario*. "Playwright Leah Nanako Winkler explodes stereotypes (Southerners, born again Christians, the immigrant parent, the prodigal daughter), endowing each character with growing shades of humanity. The idea of a female Asian protagonist in a decidedly American setting, in a show that is not about race is somewhat of a revolution in American theatre. That she does it through searing humor, music and movement is what makes Leah an incredibly exciting voice in American Theatre."

The production team to date includes Ryan Emens (scenic design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), Rachel Levy (lighting design), Aaron Stephenson (sound design), Tessa Keller (props design, scenic painter), Emilie Modaff (music director), Jess Vann (choreographer), Dwight Sora (dialect coach), Sarah Luse (production manager), David Preis (technical director), Lena Aubrey (master electrician) and Alex Oparka (stage manager).

Photo Credit: Claire Demos


Review: AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical at Kokandy Productions Photo
Review: AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical at Kokandy Productions

Kokandy Productions’ Chicago premiere of AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical is a delectable, campy romp. Producing Artistic Director Derek Van Barham’s production is a mainly bloodless vision for the bloody tale of serial killer finance bro Patrick Bateman — and it’s an approach that works incredibly well for the material. I know that AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical was short-lived on Broadway and that that production was a literal bloodbath. The fact that Kokandy’s production substitutes red confetti for stage blood is a microcosm of how well this scrappy interpretation of the musical works: By making the show more camp, less horror story, audiences are then free to indulge in the satire and fun.

The Annoyance Theatre to Present THE EVIL THAT MEN DO Beginning in October Photo
The Annoyance Theatre to Present THE EVIL THAT MEN DO Beginning in October

The Evil that Men Do brings together the best talent at the Annoyance to create a truly unforgettable theatrical experience. Get ticket and event information here!

WHO CHISELED THAT? by Merit Kahn Begins US Tour in Chicago Photo
WHO CHISELED THAT? by Merit Kahn Begins US Tour in Chicago

'Who Chiseled That?' by Merit Kahn will begin performances in Chicago this October ahead of a US tour.

Review: THE LEHMAN TRILOGY at TimeLine Theatre Company/Broadway In Chicago Photo
Review: THE LEHMAN TRILOGY at TimeLine Theatre Company/Broadway In Chicago

THE LEHMAN TRILOGY is a sweeping play that covers 164 years of history as it weaves together fact and fiction to chart the rise and fall of Lehman Brothers. The play’s title mirrors the ambition of the piece: It has a run-time of over three hours that unfolds in three acts — all performed by only three actors. The trilogy in the title is thus a literal reflection of the play’s structure and the roles, but it’s also suggestive of the piece’s mythical nature. Likewise, playwright Stefano Massani’s script (adapted by Ben Power) has a rhythmic storytelling style; the actors often narrate their own stories and actions in a chamber theater type of presentation. Although the run time is long, the fact that THE LEHMAN TRILOGY covers so much ground means it remains interesting throughout — although I found I was ultimately more intellectually than emotionally stimulated.

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