Thursday February 22nd 2018

“Moby Dick” 2017

There are times that theater is more than just a production, it is an experience! The Lookingglass Theatre production of “Moby Dick” is in fact, an event that should not be missed! The return of this Award-Winning production of the Melville classic, adapted and directed by David Catlin is a jaw-dropping way to make literature understandable. Working with The Actors Gymnasium (you should try to get up to Evanston for their shows ) this is a very physical production with a cast that does a great deal of gymnastics along with their acting. ( Anyone wanting to join this company had better be in shape). This show has recently toured and they made some adjustments to the previous production of two years ago. I had missed the original production and made it a point to see this one, so that I could relay what I witnessed to you, my readers. This is a show that you MUST attempt to see!

Melville’s “Moby Dick” is the story of  Captain Ahab ( played fiercely by Nathan Hosner who is new to Chicago audiences in this role) who is out for revenge, putting all else aside. The Great White Whale has taken his leg and he wants nothing but revenge. The Lookingglass, a “black-box venue” has been transformed to a stage that is both ship and rooming house and the audience sees riggings and hoops (almost making us feel as if we are inside the whales looking above at the bones) and very non-typical set pieces.

Our story is told by Ishmael ( deftly handled by Jamie Abelson, who plays the role on evening performances) who begins his journey as a “whaler” and becomes “bosom friends” with Queequeg (amazing performance by Anthony Fleming III) the son of a King who is not ready to become King.  There is a chorus of three women known as “the fates”- Mattie Hawkinson, Cordelia Dewdney and Kelly Abell are all beautiful and very agile, as they play the female roles and others that I cannot describe (don’t want to give anything away). In fact, one might think of this production as a sort of “circus ” format of story-telling and they would be very close.

The story is about a man and his desire for revenge and the crew that joins him on his mission: Mungun (Javen Ulambayar, who is quite the gymnast), Cabaco ( the very agile Micah Figueroa who does things that seem to defy gravity), Starbuck, the first mate ( the always reliable Kareem Bandealy) and Stubs (Raymond Fox, who plays several other roles with great ability). This is the cast that makes this production so very special. The original book was not a great success until many years after the death of Melville. In Catlin’s adaptation and re-telling of this epic saga we find many of the original elements: poetry, music and Shakespearean devices of a chorus and asides and soliloquies, along with the vey physical additions thanks to Lookingglass and Actors Gymnasium.

The story examines the forces of good and evil, social stations of the assembled crew and its members and even if there is indeed a God. It is the telling of the story and the way that Lookingglass does so that makes this a true theatrical experience that even a 10 -year- old will enjoy. I recall reading the book in my youth and trying to imagine the ending. While I will not tell you exactly how it does, I will tell you that the third act is an amazing piece of theater and will hold you spellbound and breathless for a few seconds.


The production part of this show is key to it being what it is. Beginning with the set (Courtney O’Neill) and the amazing lighting (William C. Kirkham) along with the sound (Rick Sims, who also composed the original music for this production) and the costumes (Sully Ratke) and the props (Amanda Herrmann). These are the tech listings one sees in a typical play, but , not so at Lookingglass! The Circus Choreographer for this glorious show is Sylvia Hernadez-DiStasi and the rigging designer, Isaac Schoepp. The stage manager, Jeri Fredericksn and her crew is essential to this production working. There are TWO intermissions allowing the crew to do the clean-up from the previous act and do the check-list items for the next. They come out for their bows as well and they deserve each and every one.

“Moby Dick” will continue at Lookingglass Theatre located inside the historic Water Tower Water Works at 821 N. Michigan Avenue (entrance on Pearson Street) through September 3rd with performances as follows:

Wednesdays  7:30 p.m.

Thursdays  2 p.m. (except 8/3) and 7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  2 p.m. and  7:30 p.m.

Sundays  2 p.m.  and 7:30 p.m.

Running time is 2 hours and thirty minutes with TWO intermissions, but I must tell you, this is the shortest two plus hours of theater I have seen. It moves very quickly.

Tickets range from $45-$80 and can be ordered by calling 312-337-0665, stopping by the box office or online at

There are accessible performances as well:

July 6th 7:30 p.m. open captioned

July 13th touch-tour at 6 p.m performance at 7:30 p.m.  visit

Post show discussions, visit


There is a free mobile app that provides on-demand access to last- minute theater tickets. This is not just for Chicago, but the United States- http://www.todaytix.comIT’s FREE! This show is eligible starting at noon each day- these tickets are $25 each.

Lookingglass is working with several garages, John Hancock, Water Tower Place and Olympia to offer discount parking. Details can be found at

to see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Moby Dick”.

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