UNITED FLIGHT 232, ELLEN BOND, UNION SPY and More Set for The House Theatre's 16th Season

The House Theatre of Chicago announces its 16th season of creating "Amazing Feats of Storytelling" held at The Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St.

The 2017 - 18 Season features a world premiere title, the return of 2016's Jeff Award Winner for Best Production (play - midsize), and two returning audience favorites, creating a diverse slate of epic stories and stagecraft.

The season opens with a work by one of The House's newest Company Members, Vanessa Stalling's United Flight 232, following a much-heralded and sold out run in the spring of 2016. This award-winning production returns September 1 - October 21.

Coming back for Season 16, first produced in Season 4, The House presents Hatfield & McCoy, Company Member Shawn Pfautsch's love letter to Romeo and Juliet set amidst a philosophically polarized America. This timely production of gunfights, moonshine, and neighborly divides is helmed by Company Member Matt Hawkins, January 19 to March 11, 2018.

The season conclusion brings a new writing/directing partnership to The House stage. Jess McLeod (Season on the Line), partners with writer Jenni Lamb and composer and choreographer Tanji Harper and Blu Rhythm Collective for Ellen Bond, Union Spy. Inspired by the true story of Mary Bowser, freedwoman and secret agent inside the Confederate White House, "Ellen Bond" (her historical spy name) is credited with passing crucial information to the Union that turned the tide of the Civil War.

The Magic Parlour continues its open run at the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel and The Nutcracker (November 3 - December 30) returns for its eighth magical year.

In addition to works being presented on stage, The House continues to develop new work through its partnership with UChicago Performance Lab at the University of Chicago. The UChicago Performance Lab at the University of Chicago (formerly Summer Inc.) began out of a desire to extend Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS)'s nurturing environment to Chicago's professional performance community. Recognizing the importance of hospitality, particularly in a moment when the arts are faced with acute economic challenges, when basic expenses make the creation of new work more of a conceptual wish than a pragmatic reality, Chicago Performance Lab invites companies into its artistic home. Selected groups represent the city's boldness in its artistic approaches, which has been demonstrated through projects of solo performance, clown adaptations, dance and multi-media work. All of the new work developed reflected the University of Chicago's commitment to interdisciplinary collaborations. Past work developed in residency includes Sean Graney's All Our Tragic, The New Colony's ReWilding Genius, Manual Cinema's Lula Del Ray and at The House: United Flight 232, The Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch and Season on the Line, as well as Lookingglass Theatre Company's Moby Dick.

Memberships for the 16th season are now available. To purchases memberships or for more information, please visit www.thehousetheatre.com or call the box office at 773.769.3832. Single tickets for Season 16 productions go on sale June 30.

Additional details on Season 16 and the works "In Development" are below.


United Flight 232

Adapted and Directed by Vanessa Stalling from the book Flight 232 by Laurence Gonzales

A Haunting True Story of Compassion and Grace

September 1 to October 21

PRESS OPENING: Sunday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.

Chopin Upstairs Theatre, 1543 W. Division Street

2016 Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best Production of a Play (midsize) and Best Ensemble

"I love you, hurry home. I love you." On July 19, 1989, a DC-10 headed for O'Hare with 296 aboard is paralyzed mid-air. For 44 minutes, the aircraft descended towards an emergency landing and crashed at Sioux City Gateway airport. To the astonishment of all who witnessed the event, 184 of 296 passengers and crew survived. Drawing on the interviews and research conducted by Evanston author Laurence Gonzales for his critically acclaimed book, "Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival" this award-winning original play, United Flight 232, is a reflection on how to comprehend tragedy and celebrate human ingenuity in the face of overwhelming challenges.

United Flight 232 was commissioned and developed by The House Theatre of Chicago and the UChicago Performance Lab through the Theatre and Performance Studies Program at the University of Chicago.

The Nutcracker

Created by Jake Minton, Phillip Klapperich, Kevin O'Donnell, and Tommy Rapley

Based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann

Directed and Choreographed by Tommy Rapley

November 3 - December 30

PRESS OPENING: Friday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.

Chopin Upstairs Theatre,1543 W. Division Street

The House brings this wholly original, ballet-free show back year after year because it truly has something for everyone. The show is fast-paced, beautifully choreographed, family-friendly, and moving for even those of us that might be on the Grinch's side from time to time. This fantastical expansion of the holiday classic centers on young Clara's journey to save Christmas in the face of grief. With the help of a magical nutcracker, the brave girl risks the darkness, fights the Rat King and saves her family! A modern holiday tradition weaving together riveting dialogue, astonishing puppetry, original song and spellbinding spectacle to tell a heartwarming, darkly moving story of magic and hope -- a fun outing fit for the whole family.

Hatfield & McCoy

By Shawn Pfautsch

Original Songs by Shawn Pfautsch and Matt Kahler

Directed by Matt Hawkins

January 19 - March 11, 2018

PRESS OPENING: Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Chopin Upstairs Theatre,1543 W. Division Street

Murder and moonshine! Hoedowns and Holy Rollin'! It's the true tale of the most infamous family feud in American history. Gunplay and romance erupt between the Hatfields and McCoys, served up with a heaping helping of bluegrass and bloody revenge. Shawn Pfautsch's love letter to Romeo and Juliet, in a philosophically polarized America returns, once again helmed by company member Matt Hawkins. On the border of Kentucky and West Virginia, North and South, fact and fiction, two cabins both alike in dignity wage a war of words and bullets.

Ellen Bond, Union Spy

Written by Jenni Lamb

Music, Lyrics, and Movement by Tanji Harper and Blu Rhythm Collective

Conceived and Directed by Jess McLeod

March 30 - May 20, 2018

PRESS OPENING: Sunday, April 8 at 7 p.m.

Chopin Upstairs Theatre,1543 W. Division Street

The year is 1864. The Civil War has ripped America in half, and while Union forces greatly outnumber the Confederates, Jefferson Davis and his generals doggedly persevere. Who can help end the war once and for all? Enter Ellen Bond, Union Spy! Mary Bowser is the (real) freedwoman who risked it all to go undercover as "Ellen Bond, dim-witted but able" house slave to Jefferson and Varina Davis. "Ellen" cooks, cleans and uses her photographic memory to collect military intel from the papers on Davis's desk. This action-packed new seriocomedy also features contemporary music and dance, illuminating Mary's exhilarating visions for the end of the Confederacy and the future of America.

The Magic Parlour

Starring Dennis Watkins


Fridays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 4:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Tickets: $79 (and includes wine, beer or soft drink selections)


The Palmer House Hotel, 17 E. Monroe St.

Now in its sixth year, this intimate evening of classic magic with third generation magician Dennis Watkins continues its runaway success, increasing its number of performances at The Palmer House this year.

*Schedule varies weekly, check website for updated performance days and times.


In addition to the productions listed above, The House provides varying levels of support for the following projects through the UChicago Performance Lab.

Start Me Up

a musical about Silicon Valley

Book by Peter Sagal

Lyrics by Clark Sterling and Peter Sagal

Music by Nolan Gasser


By Brett Neveu and Jason Narducci

Directed by Nathan Allen

This is the story of how punk rock saved the life of Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters). It's 1982, and after making the long flight from Seattle, Grohl and his parents head to his cousin Tracey's home in Evanston, Illinois for a summertime visit. Tracey, a serious teen punk rocker stuck in suburbville, blows Grohl away with her excellentness.


Based on the works of Carlo Collodi

Adapted for the stage by Joey Steakley and Ben Lobpries

In this new adaptation, Pinocchio's struggle to become a "real boy" has very contemporary implications. Despite his best efforts, Pinocchio cannot overcome his physical nature (he is, after all, only "a bundle of sticks") and his inability to change has potentially grave consequences for both the little puppet and his father, Geppetto.

Nova to Lodestar

By Nathan Allen, Lee Keenan, and Sandor Weisz

Nova to Lodestar is a live, asymmetric, cooperative game played by two teams in two separate rooms. Players take on the roles of submariners in a 19th century science fiction adventure.

Billy the Kid Plays Croquet

By Blake Montgomery

This absurd portrait of America, inspired by a tintype photograph of disputed and possibly fantastical provenance, explores our enduring national myths amid the ever-present threat of violence.

The House is Chicago's premier home for intimate, original works of epic story and stagecraft. Founded and led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago's next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular artform.

The House was founded in 2001 by a group of friends to explore connections between Community and Storytelling through a unique theatrical experience. Since becoming eligible in 2004, The House has been nominated for 60 Joseph Jefferson Awards (23 wins), became the first recipient of Broadway in Chicago's Emerging Theater Award in 2007, and was awarded a 2014 National Theatre Company Grant by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. The 16th season of original work will begin September 2017 and The House will continue its mission to unite Chicago in the spirit of Community through amazing feats of Storytelling. For more information, visit www.THEHOUSETHEATRE.com.

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