Monday, November 24, 2014

A Celebration of Sheldon Patinkin

A celebration of the life of Sheldon Patinkin will take place Monday, January 26, 2015, at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, located at 9501 Skokie Blvd. in the suburb of Skokie north of Chicago. The free event starts at 7:30 PM, with guest speakers reflecting on Mr. Patinkin's enormous impact on Chicago theatre. A reception with cash bar will follow the presentation. RSVPs are encouraged. For reservations, please call 312-369-6333 to leave a message or respond via Eventbrite.

The event is presented jointly by the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and The Second City -- three organizations with which Mr. Patinkin had close professional and personal ties for decades.

Sheldon Patinkin was Chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department from 1980 to 2009, when he assumed the title of Chair Emeritus, continuing to teach and direct at the College until his death. He was an Artistic Consultant at Steppenwolf Theatre and co-founder of The School at Steppenwolf, and taught at The School for 17 years. And he was an original member of Second City from the company's beginnings -- when it was founded in 1959 by Bernard Sahlins, Paul Sills, and Howard Alk. He served as Sills' assistant director and then succeeded Sills as artistic director of the groundbreaking comedy theatre, eventually becoming an Artistic Consultant there.

Born in Chicago on August 27, 1935, Mr. Patinkin died September 21, 2014, following a heart attack. He was an integral figure in the development of a professional, grassroots Chicago theatre scene starting in the 1950s, when he was part of the talented young group of artists who created the Playwrights Theatre Club, Compass Players, and The Second City. He directed some of Chicago theatre's most memorable productions, including the commercial Chicago premieres of several Off-Broadway hits as well as productions at Steppenwolf, The Second City, Gift Theatre, City Lit Theater, National Jewish Theatre, and other Chicago-area companies. During his tenure as Chair, the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department educated hundreds of students who have gone on to distinguished careers in theatre, film, and television; he also mentored alumni who went on to start their own theatre companies. His books include Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater (Sourcebooks, 2000) and "No Legs, No Jokes, No Chance": A History of the American Musical Theater (Northwestern University Press, 2008). In that book, he wrote:

"We live in a time when, more and more, the response to trouble is violence; when too many individual communities have become too insular for the good of the larger community; when too much beyond one's immediate world seems to exist either to be feared to taken advantage of; when too many people try not to feel deeply or try to disguise their feelings with catch phrases, crudeness, inarticulateness, and sentimentality. It is one of the most important functions of both art and entertainment to help us transcend such times, sometimes by helping us to think things through, sometimes by helping us not to think at all."

"Sheldon was an artist, a scholar and a dear friend. He was a mentor to multiple generations and a productive and prolific leader of the Chicago theatre community until his final days. We look forward to celebrating his extraordinary life and career," said Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Inc.

“Sheldon has been a part of the Steppenwolf family from the earliest days of our existence," said Martha Lavey, Artistic Director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. "He was an artist, a teacher, a mentor, and a friend. The School at Steppenwolf will always be a part of Sheldon’s legacy. His influence lives on in the work of several generations of theatre artists.”

"At Columbia College we encourage our students to 'live what you love,' and Sheldon personified that ideal every day -- in every aspect of his teaching, directing, and mentorship," said John Green, Mr. Patinkin's successor as Chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department. "Like George in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George, he awoke students to the many possibilities of their lives as theatre artists, and the extension of those lives out into the community he loved and served so well."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Twist Your Dickens Special Guests & Event Announced

Equal parts naughty and nice, Chicago’s famed The Second City brings our version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to the Goodman’s Owen Theatre, beginning December 5.

Titled Twist Your Dickens, Or Scrooge You!, this send-up of Dickens’ classic includes a special Chicago-based celebrity guest in a cameo role at each show; while audiences won’t know who appears in this spot from night to night, expected appearances include:

Comedian and Vocalo host Brian Babylon
WBEZ’s Niala Boodhoo
WXRT’s Lin Brehmer
Senator John Cullerton
Actor Allen Gilmore (Scrooge alternate in A Christmas Carol)
Chef Stephanie Izard
Chicago Tribune’s Candace Jordan
Chicago Cubs’ Len Kasper
WBBM-TV’s Bill Kurtis
Musician Jon Langford
Author Sara Paretsky
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
B96’s Showbiz Shelly
Sommelier Alpana Singh and more.

Written by former The Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort and directed by Artistic Director of The Second City Training Center Matt Hovde, Twist Your Dickens—a “riotous havoc” (Los Angeles Times) that blends legitimate theater, parody, sketch comedy and improvisation, including the integration of audience “misdeeds” that are written in the lobby preceding the show—finds Scrooge and Tiny Tim hopelessly mixed up with characters from the Peanuts holiday special, the Island of Misfit Toys and even Little Orphan Annie.

While the set and costumes reflect The Second City’s minimalist aesthetic, audiences can expect to see backdrops of their favorite holiday television specials and the ensemble sporting “business casual Dickensian” wear inspired by ugly sweaters and other pop culture icons. Twist Your Dickens runs December 5 - 28 in the Owen Theatre (press night is December 10 and opening night is December 11) and is appropriate for adults and savvy teens age 16+. 

Tickets ($15 - $45; subject to change) are on sale now, available at, by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn). Please be advised that the show incorporates the use of strobe lights, smoke and haze. 

“Peter and Bobby have written a play that not only upends a classic holiday staple of the stage and screen, but lampoons a variety of other holiday farrago that has become an ingrained part of the yuletide season,” said Kelly Leonard, Executive Vice President of The Second City and President of Second City Theatricals. Added Goodman Theatre Executive Director Roche Schulfer: “The Goodman has always wanted to pair A Christmas Carol with a holiday production in the Owen. The Second City's Twist Your Dickens, Or Scrooge You! is a perfect fit and we look forward to expanding our audience now and in the future"

As previously announced, the seven-member cast includes Francis Guinan as Scrooge, Frank Caeti as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Peter Gwinn as Jacob Marley, Sayjal Joshi as Tiny Tim, Beth Melewski as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Robyn Scott as Mrs. Cratchit, and Tim Stoltenberg as Bob Cratchit. The creative team includes Tom Buderwitz (sets), Rachel Lambert (costumes) and Gina Patterson (lights). Mara Filler is the Production Stage Manager.

Headshots and bio information can be found in the Press Room.

Special Event: “Cocktails with a Twist”
Tuesday, December 9
6pm Pre-Show Reception, 7:30pm Performance
$65 with promo code TWIST

The Goodman’s Scenemakers auxiliary board hosts a night of yuletide debauchery with pre-show cocktails and hors d’oeuvres—with a twist, and a few surprises—in the theater’s rehearsal space, followed by a performance of The Second City’s send-up of Christmas classics in their holiday revue. The party continues post-show with more holiday libations and revelry.

Goodman Theatre is grateful to Nesek Digital, the Presenting Sponsor of the Scenemakers Board 2014/2015 Season; Baird, the Event Sponsor; and Sopraffina Marketcaffe, Trattoria No. 10 and Twisted Stem, the Event Partners of “Cocktails with a Twist.”

The Scenemakers young professionals board of 37 is in its 12th season, having contributed more than $80,000 to the Goodman’s new play development initiatives and Education and Community Engagement programming in the immediate past 2013/2014 Season. Other events scheduled this Season include: “Two Trains and a Sidecar” on March 11, 2015 and the Scenemakers’ signature fundraiser, the fourth annual “Scene Soiree” on June 13, 2015. For tickets and information visit

Thursday, November 20, 2014

RIP Mike Nichols

"We have lost a giant. Mike Nichols was an architect of modern improvisational theater. As a member of The Playwrights Theatre Club and The Compass Players, Mike helped create the foundation for not only The Second City, but for a host of storefront theaters that eventually became the thriving theatrical community that you see today in Chicago. His work always played to the top of its intelligence, bathed in wit and infused with honesty. We mourn the loss of our esteemed forbears and offer our condolences to his family."

Andrew Alexander
CEO/Executive Producer
The Second City

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cecily Strong Hosts White House Correspondent's Dinner

Second City veteran and current SNL cast member, Cecily Strong, has been asked to be the featured entertainer and host of next spring's White House Correspondent's dinner. More details here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SC Announces Two Shows Benefiting Deserving Chicago Families

The Second City is thrilled to announce two epic events: the return of its legendary 24-hour improv and music marathon, as well as an intimate all-star evening. Proceeds from both shows will support families from Chicago’s Onward Neighborhood House.

First up, The Second City That Never Sleeps: 24 Hour celebrates its 13th year, running non-stop from Tuesday, December 16th at 6:00 p.m. until Wednesday, December 17th at 6:00 p.m. in The Second City e.t.c. Theatre, 1608 N. Wells Street, 2nd floor of Piper’s Alley.

This year’s lineup includes music by James McCartney, Kim Deal, J.C. Brooks & The Uptown Sound with Ian Rubbish, Bobby, Holly & the Ricketts, Renaldo Domino, Robbie Fulks and Jeff Tweedy. Live improv and comedy will be provided by a team of Second City’s finest and funniest. Special guests include Steve Albini, Fred Armisen and Natasha Lyonne.

In addition to the live performances, several one-of-a-kind items will be up for auction at 24 Hour, including two sets of tickets for two to Saturday Night Live, compliments of Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant.

Then on Monday, January 5th, join us for Our Living Room Show in UP Comedy Club. This all-star evening will feature sketch comedy and improv from Saturday Night Live cast members and distinguished Second City alumni, including Aidy Bryant, Mike O’Brien and Tim Robinson, followed by an intimate “living room”-style musical performance from Wilco’s Grammy-winning frontman, Jeff Tweedy.

Tickets to Our Living Room Show are on sale now via The UP Comedy Club Box Office at (312) 662-4562 or Prices range from $75 (general house seating) to $150 (first row).

Tickets to The Second City That Never Sleeps: 24 Hour are $20 and will be sold at the door throughout the event as long as seats are available. Doors open Tuesday, 12/16 at 5:00 p.m. The event will also be streamed LIVE at or Donations via PayPal are appreciated.

For ongoing schedule updates and information, "Like" our Facebook page at Onward Neighborhood House empowers families and individuals in need to achieve their full potential in a community-based setting.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

SC Mainstage Preps for Panic on Cloud 9

The Second City is proud to announce the opening of The Second City’s 103rd Revue, Panic on Cloud 9.

Join the incredibly talented and funny cast of The Second City Mainstage for Panic on Cloud 9, a hilarious and smart collection of original scenes and songs that invite you to relax, take a breath and laugh as they brave everything from Ebola to modern parenting to the lies of advertising and the advertising of our own lies.

Joseph Jeff Award-Winning director Ryan Bernier makes his Mainstage debut with Panic on Cloud 9. Returning cast members include Chelsea Devantez, John Hartman (Jeff Award-Winner - Best Actor in a Revue) and Emily Walker with new cast members Paul Jurewicz, Daniel Strauss and Christine Tawfik. Jacob Shuda joins the Mainstage ensemble as Musical Director, Composer and Sound Designer and Craig Taylor returns to the booth as Stage Manager.  The producing team for Panic on Cloud 9 includes Andrew Alexander (CEO & Executive Producer), Kelly Leonard (Executive Vice President), Alison Riley (Producer) and Jeremy Smith (Associate Producer).

Tickets for Panic on Cloud 9 start at $23.00 and are available by phone at 312-337-3992 or online at The show schedule is as follows:

Tuesday - Thursday: 8:00 p.m.
Friday - Saturday: 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: 7:00 p.m.


Chelsea grew up in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Louisiana before finally landing in New Mexico. She studied at The United World College and NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, on scholarships. The best thing at NYU was a "semester abroad" in Chicago's Comedy Studies program at The Second City.  She moved to Chicago as soon as she could to pursue her dream of working on this very stage. She is beyond lucky to have her dream job alongside her best friend, Emily Walker -- together they created the web series Modern Women on The Second City Network, as well as a pilot that became a finalist at NYTVF.


John is ecstatic to be performing in his second Mainstage revue. He previously appeared in Depraved New World, for which he received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actor. He is a member of Baby Wants Candy, the sketch duo Witaske & Hartman, and his solo work has appeared at: Annoyance, iO, TBS Just for Laughs, Comedy Central Stage & UCB Theatre.


Paul has been performing all over Chicago for the last seven years. He’s traveled the world on sea and land with The Second City. He is a founding member of the sketch comedy groups Germans and Dog Dads. He’s proud to have been a part of many Annoyance Theatre productions including Co- Ed Prison Sluts; It’s Christmas, Goddammit!, The Raven and the Messenger and Becker.


Daniel is thrilled to be a cast member of The Second City's 103rd Mainstage Revue. A native of Washington, D.C. and an alum of The Second City Touring Company, other credits include The Second City’s Incomplete Guide to Everything, The Improvised Shakespeare Company, and Team Starkid’s Airport for Birds. He is online at, on Twitter at @DanielStrauss and on YouTube with his web series, Game Bros.


Christine is delighted to make her debut on The Second City Mainstage. Raised in Egypt and later Colorado, she has studied improv and sketch at iO, The Second City and The Annoyance. She performs regularly with Virgin Daiquiri, The Armando Diaz Experience and various independent groups around Chicago. She’s appeared in Girls Night Out and has performed at Vienna’s English Theatre as a member of The Second City Touring Company. Follow her on Twitter at @ChrisTawfik.


Emily hails from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. She has studied improv, sketch comedy and musical improv with The Second City. She has performed for The Second City at Sea on several NCL Cruise ships and traveled the country with The Second City and Mighty Mighty Blue Co. She and her best friend, Chelsea Devantez, created the pilot SBS:Stupid Bitch Syndrome, which was a 2013 NYTVF finalist. She is also the co-creator of The Second City Network series Modern Women. This fall you can see her on the fourth season of the Showtime series Homeland.

Ryan is thrilled to be directing this cast. Some of his directing credits include Second City e.t.c.’s Jeff Award-nominated A Clown Car Named Desire (Best Revue, Best Director), Jeff Award-winning We’re All in this Room Together (Best Revue, Best Director), Second City’s America: All Better!! (at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Helen Hayes Award–nominated), UP Comedy Club’s Four Girls & A Guy, as well as What the Tour Guide Didn’t Tell You. He was recently awarded Suffolk University’s 10 Under 10 Honor. He also directs at the Improv Asylum in Boston. He teaches at Columbia College and the Second City Training Center.

JACOB SHUDA Musical Director, Composer and Sound Design
Jacob is feeling the same joy he felt as a five year old when he discovered the drumset in his grandpa Ray’s basement, Jacob is now a pianist, guitarist, drummer, composer, and sound designer.

CRAIG TAYLOR Stage Manager
Craig has stage managed more than 35 revues for The Second City and has been asked to provide the impossible for numerous Second City directors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Rachael Mason wants you to rock at your next improv audition. As the head of The Second City Training Center’s Chicago Advanced Improv program, a Second City TourCo Alum and current cast member of ‘The Boys’ at 9pm in Donny’s Skybox - you should take her advice. If you have questions, comments or want to add a tip of your own, email us at

1. WARM UP BEFORE YOU ARRIVE! Some folks need to meditate for 20 minutes and some folks need to do 20 jumping jacks. Do what centers YOU. The warm up when you arrive is mostly to suss out the group you will be playing with if you even get to warm up at all.

2. SHOW UP ON TIME. There is a saying that 15 minutes early is on time. On time is late. 15 minutes late? Don't bother. Leave early. Set two alarms. Everyone has a good reason for being late but it simply smacks of disrespect to those who are there and ready to work.

3. BE KIND TO THE PERSON CHECKING YOU IN. Really you should just be kind in general. If you are a jerk to the person checking you in then why would we want to hire you for a high stakes ensemble job? That person has been inundated with requests. Yours will be prioritized. Relax about that. And watch with the crap talk about other theaters in the lobby too. We all work everywhere. Why would we hire you if you are pooping on another theater?

4. LOOK IN A MIRROR BEFORE YOU GO IN. You might have crazy hair, lipstick on your teeth, pizza sauce on your lapel, or heaven forbid your barn door might be open. Zip it up zippy. I personally can't stand when someone has a ball cap on or sunglasses on their head or collar. You should be dressed nice so you feel good. Take one final look at your suit (that musty thing should have been laundered) or one final peek at your dress (that you can move in with bike shorts or leggings underneath). Look good = Feel good.

5. LISTEN TO THE AUDITOR'S INSTRUCTIONS. They are TELLING you what they want to see and describing the shape of the audition. If you are planning out your funny line or listening to your inner monologue you are going to miss valuable information. Calm down and listen.

6. TAKE CARE OF YOUR SCENE PARTNER. Throwing elbows for funny lines is not what gets you hired. Yes anding and heightening what is there does. Your repartee and game play with your partner are what we want. Listen and respond as opposed to panicked reaction. Be people in a relationship, who feel a way about each other and the world they live in. Then play some games together. Comedy is a natural byproduct of that. Not your inorganic stabs at funny that crap on your partner. Don't crap on your partner... not even an object work crap.

7. DON'T MAKE AN ASS OUT OF YOURSELF AT THE ALE HOUSE (or similar bar). Your audition is over. Whether it went well or not so well our temptation is to head across the street and toast those feelings away. Word of your drunken mess gets back to us too. Have a drink. Go home. Sleep. Wait patiently for the response. If you get in GREAT! Now it only gets harder. If you didn't GREAT! Now you can write in for you notes and take a class and get better.

Ready? Go kill it killer. - Rachael

About Rachael:

Rachael Mason began her career in improvisation at Skidmore College, home of the National College Comedy Festival, with the Ad-Liberal Artists. After graduating with a degree in English Literature, concentrating on Shakespearean Studies, she moved to Chicago to study improv comedy with Del Close. She trained at The Second City, The Annoyance, and iO. Currently she performs with The Second City Improv Allstars, and The Boys. She is most happy when she is teaching improv.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Martin Short Returns to Broadway

SC alum, Martin Short, returns to Broadway for Terrance McNally's comedy, It's Only A Play starting in January. He will be replacing Nathan Lane's character as Lane departs to prepare for a new role. More information here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dick Schaal

"We are very sad to hear the news of Dick Schaal's passing. As an improviser from the early days of The Second City, he was an artist, innovator and an incredible physical comedian. Through the years, he would often return to Chicago to see the latest Mainstage revues. Through his acting, directing and teaching, he inspired generations of actors and improvisers. Our thoughts are with his family and friends." - Andrew Alexander, CEO/Executive Producer for The Second City

Click here to read Dick Schaal's obituary in the Chicago Tribune.