New Leaf Theatre ends June 16 with current play

Sceen from “Arcadia” at New Leaf Theatre. Photo credit Tom McGrath.

NEW LEAF CLOSES THE BOOK. After 11 years, New Leaf Theatre has decided to cease operations. The company’s current production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, running through June 16 at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center will be the last.

Jessica Hutchinson, current artistic director, says that the decision, though difficult, had been under consideration for a while. The final call to close the non-Equity company came during a company retreat in January of this year. The company has operated on an annual budget of $25,000 or less.

The seven ensemble members – Hutchinson, set designer Michelle Lilly, managing director Eleanor Hyde, actor Marsha Harman, production manager Marni Keenan, sound designer Nick Keenan, and lighting designer Jared Moore (none of whom were around at the company’s founding) – decided that the time was right to wrap it up.

Hutchinson is heading to graduate school at the University of Texas next fall, and Keenan and Nick Keenan are expecting their first child. But, Hutchinson stresses, “those aren’t causal elements” behind the closing.

The main issue, as it so often is for small companies, was the time required to balance the administrative and artistic duties within New Leaf.

Hutchinson, who also works for the League of Chicago Theatres says, “I think there is a way to find the administrative work rewarding and incorporate it more holistically into the art-making. I personally don’t know anyone who has figured it out. The Chicago storefront model has so much that is good about it. And I think there are also some parts that could use a redesign.”

Mara BlumenfeldLOOKINGGLASS THEATRE ensemble member Mara Blumenfeld, whose costume designs have also been seen on Broadway and nationwide, took home the 2012 Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration earlier this month.

Blumenfeld designed the costumes for longtime collaborator Mary Zimmerman’s Tony Award-winning Metamorphoses.

Three designers also received the Michael Maggio Emerging Artists Award: projections designer Mike Tutaj, scenic and lighting designer Lee Keenan, and costume designer Chelsea Warren.

AN AUSTEN SOIREE of Readings, Music and Games of Jane’s World is Lifeline Theatre’s 29th Anniversary Benefit June 29 that captures the spirit of 19th century novelist Jane Austen’s world in a Regency-inspired setting at the Woman’s Club of Evanston. 

The evening includes performances from favorite Austen novels, a live auction with unique event offerings, like a Downtown Chicago VIP Experience, and an all day private boat cruise for six,  and a Speculation Raffle, a cash drawing of up to $2,000. 

SIGNAL ENSEMBLE THEATRE’S performance of the musical Hostage Song, ends its 2011-2012 season June 9.  The Saturday, June 2 performance will donate $5 from each ticket sold to Season of Concern. 

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