Give the Gift of Theater This Holiday + Full Merchant of Venice Report — Playtime Chicago Theater Report

November 3, 2019 show. The segment begins around 4:16.

Lightly edited transcript below:

Give the Gift of Chicago Theater

Eugene Zhyvchik

Have you noticed that a lot of big-name stores have started their holiday sales early this year? 

There’s a reason for this. There are 26 days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas: Six days less than last year and, as the National Retail Federation points out, the fewest number of days possible between the two holidays. 

If all this hustle and bustle has you flustered, let me offer a suggestion. We know that many people prefer experiences to physical gifts. Why not give the gift of live theater this year to someone you care about by taking them to a great play?

The nifty thing about this option is that you can support local Chicago theater while also creating a unique experience that you and your friend or family member can remember for a long time. Even better, because of the way plays are scheduled, you can opt to spend time together at a show during the holiday season or in January. 

In this edition of the Chicago Theater Report, I’m going to mention some productions that might be of particular interest as holiday gifts. I’d also like to remind you that many of our local theaters have arranged special deals for show-goers with neighborhood hotels and restaurants, allowing you to customize a fantastic evening or afternoon according to your interests and budget.

Our Town

Our Town by St. Sebastian Players

The first show on my list is one that you’ll need to catch a bit early, as it’s running through November 17th, but I think you’ll agree that its a great option for this season: St. Sebastian Players is currently performing Our Town at St. Bonaventure at 1625 W. Diversey here in Chicago. As the press release says, this classic portrays the everyday lives of the citizens of the fictional American town Grover’s Corners, holding up a mirror to early 20th-century life that still speaks volumes of truths about the way we live today.

Performances are on weekends: Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.. Two FREE parking lots are available and tickets are $18 for students with ID, Children under 12 and seniors. General admission seating is $25. Call 773-404-7922 or visit for tickets.

Chad Bay (left) as Sebastian and Jackie Seijo (right) as Viola. Photo by Zack Whittington.

For a truly unique experience, consider Midsommer Flight’s Twelfth Night which will be performing December 5th through December 22nd, Thursdays through Sundays at the Lincoln Park Conservatory

Directed by Dylan S. Roberts, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night will be performed alley style among the conservatory’s flowers, and live music will begin at 7:15 every night. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, but reservations are required and seats do fill up quickly. Visit to reserve your seats today!

Annie at The Citadel Theater

If you are looking for a production to delight the children in your life, why not take them to see Annie at The Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest?

The show’s previews begin on November 20th and 21st, and the regular production runs from November 22 through December 22, 2019, though the cast and crew will be taking Thanksgiving Day off.

Both evening and matinee shows will be performed throughout the show’s run: Tickets are $20 on preview nights. During the regular run, Weekday tickets are $40 and weekend seats are $45, however, student, group and senior discounts are available. Purchase your tickets at or by phone at 847-735-8554, ext. 1. 

As the season progresses, I’ll have more show and theater gift ideas, so be sure to tune in!

The Merchant of Venice by Invictus Theatre Co.

L-R: Jack Morsovillo, Madeline Pell, Julia Badger. Photo by Brian McConkey.

I’d like to end this segment with a report on a show I saw last weekend: Invictus Theater Co.’s The Merchant of Venice. I’ve long admired this company for its commitment to producing excellent shows while also being rooted in community service. It’s most recent production, The Merchant of Venice, is currently playing at Pride Arts Center’s Buena Theater and it is a must-see.

The Merchant of Venice has long been considered one of Shakespeare’s comedies, and while this production offers plenty of laughs, the mood of this production is decidedly somber. It is set in 1938, Fascist Italy, and as I’ve noted to others, the play reminds us that dystopias are not always recognized by those who benefit from them. This angle is particularly well-expressed in the costuming: Black shirts abound, and you may be surprised at who ends up sporting them.

I want to give a special shoutout to Jack Morsovillo (Launcelot, the Prince of Aragon and the Jailer). He is excellent in all these roles, and I must give high praise to his original guitar compositions, which add a great deal to the production. His command of his body language is also extraordinary: Seeing him perform strangely reminded me of the superb ballet dancers that I recently saw at the Joffrey. This man acts with his whole being. 

The Merchant of Venice runs through November 17th, with shows Thursday-Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm and Mondays at 7:30 pm (no performance Monday 11/4). 

Tickets: $25 Regular Run; $15 Students and are available at and at the door (subject to availability). 

Pride Theater Tips

I would note that parking is challenging in the area: Consider taking public transportation, rideshare or utilizing Spot Hero to find parking. Alternatively, you could just get to the area early and search for a spot. Siam Noodle and Rice is across the street and offers tasty Thai food and a BYOB policy!

Tune in to Playtime every Sunday from 1-3 pm on WCGO 1590 AM, 95.9 FM in the Chicagoland area. The show also streams worldwide from WCGO’s website, Smart Talk app, or Tune-In Radio app.