11/08/11: Congratulations to Tracy Otwell who won a Jeff Award last night in the “Artistic Specialization” category!
From July’11 Spotlight:
Lookingglass Theatre Company on North Michigan Avenue closes its 2011 season with a Tony Award for Excellence in Regional Theater (presented in New York on June 12) and a lovely new premiere production called The Last Act of Lilka Kadison.
An elderly American woman is haunted by a ghost from her Polish past. Lilka, the oldest girl in a large religious family, is running errands in the marketplace one day when she happens on a Jewish-style “Punch and Judy” show. Captivated by the handsome puppeteer, she agrees to clandestine meetings with him, but the lovers are in the wrong place at the wrong time: sirens wail, bombs fall, the Nazis invade, and they are forcibly separated. Decades later, long after young Lilka Kadison escaped from Europe and started life anew as Lilith Fisher, Ben Ari Adler invades her home, filling her final days with bittersweet reverie.
A large team of five playwrights treads lightly on heavy material, keeping their Holocaust-specific references to a bare minimum. As Yiddish classics like Rozhinkes mit Mandlen play in the background, Ben (Chance Bone) acts out a whimsical riff on a traditional tale from Chelm, and then Lilka (Nora Fiffer) joins him in creating a charming new version of the Biblical romance between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Although the California framing story—in which Lilith (Marilyn Dodds Frank) engages in a battle of wills with her homecare aide Menelik (Usman Ally)—needs more work, the core is a luminous homage to Jewish narrative. The true star of the show is the clever toy theater-in-a-box (designed by Tracy Otwell) which reminds us that the human imagination can conjure marvelous “special effects” from the simplest sources.
The Last Act of Lilka Kadison closes on July 24. Eight prominent local organizations are listed as “Community Partners” for this production, and several of them (including Spertus Institute and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center) are sponsoring auxiliary programs. To order tickets for a performance, call the Box Office at (312) 337-0665 or visit the website (which also has a complete list of lectures and panel discussions).