CHICAGO – Chicago-based dance theater company Lucky Plush Productions, led by founder and Artistic Director Julia Rhoads, returns to Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre this fall as part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series with the world premiere of Rink Life.
This newest work by Lucky Plush brings the company’s singular blend of technical choreography, casual dialogue, bold musicality, surprising humor, and socially relevant storytelling into a communal space that nods to the visual aesthetics and social dynamics of 1970’s roller rink culture, where relationships and storylines are as transient as the world that contains them.
Performances are November 7-16 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, the 65-seat flexible venue connected to Steppenwolf’s own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, 1700 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Press opening is Saturday, November 9 at 8 p.m. Industry night is Monday, November 11 at 7 p.m.
Tickets go on sale Thursday, September 19 at 11 a.m. Tickets are $15-$40, with discounts for students, seniors 62+, military personnel and industry. Steppenwolf RED and Black Card Members may use their cards as per Steppenwolf policies. For tickets and information, visit Steppenwolf.org or call
More about Rink Life
Julia Rhoads’ staging and choreography for Rink Life springs from an idiosyncratic, music-rich environment built from the spatial rules and social codes of 1970’s roller rink culture. Launching from a collision of plot points in several one-act plays, the script-turned-libretto—created from passing conversations, distant whispers, pop-song earworms, and found scripts—is entirely spoken and sung live, with script and music samples from Charles Mee, Cat Stevens, James Brown, Paul McCartney and The Bee Gees. As the Lucky Plush ensemble sings full-throatedly to score their experiences, these source inspirations come together in the delightful and moving world of Rink Life, where people navigate relationships, self-expression, and rejection in real-time.
Rink Life is created and directed by Julia Rhoads and devised in collaboration with the company’s triple-threat ensemble of dancer/actor/singers: Kara Brody, Michel Rodriguez Cintra, Elizabeth Luse, Jacinda Ratcliffe, Rodolfo Sánchez Sarracino, A. Raheim White and Meghann Rose Wilkinson. Leslie Buxbaum Danzig is collaborating director. Bethany Clearfield is vocal collaborator and coach. Lighting designer is Rachel Levy. Rachel Damon is production stage manager.
Rink Life is one of eight projects to receive a 2018 New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project Production and Touring Award. It also earned lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Development partners for Rink Life include Door Kinetic Arts Festival (Bailey’s Harbor, WI), the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, and Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Lucky Plush Productions at the 1700 Theatre is presented as part of LookOut, Steppenwolf’s performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form, emerging artists and performance legends, quintessential Chicago companies and young aspiring ensembles, familiar Steppenwolf faces and new friends. For more information, visit steppenwolf.org/lookout.
Lucky Plush Art on theMART projection Limelight Parade ends September 20. Don’t miss it!
If you haven’t yet seen Lucky Plush ensemble members cavorting across the 2.5 acre river-façade of theMART, be sure to plan an early evening visit to see Art on theMART, the largest permanent digital art projection series in the world. One piece rotating on the face of the former Merchandise Mart building, titled Limelight Parade, is a collaboration between theatermaker John Musial and Lucky Plush’s Julia Rhoads. Limelight Parade runs as part of Art on theMART through September 20 only, seven days a week, two hours a night, starting approximately 15 minutes after sundown. Projections are visible to the public from Wacker Drive and along the Chicago Riverwalk. For more, visit art onthemart.com.
About Lucky Plush – Reinventing contemporary dance with humor and storytelling
Lucky Plush Productions (luckyplush.com) is a Chicago-based dance theater company led by founder and artistic director Julia Rhoads. Lucky Plush is committed to provoking and supporting an immediacy of presence – a palpable liveness – shared by performers in real-time with audiences. A unique hybrid of high-level dance and theater, Lucky Plush’s work is well-known for its carefully crafted dramatic and rhythmic arcs, pushing its artists to move beyond the predictable by earning the exciting slippage between – and surprising coherence of – technical choreography, casual dialogue, music, and humor. Though rigorously composed, much of the company’s work feels like it is generated spontaneously.
Since 2000, Lucky Plush has created 30+ original dance-theater works. In addition to performing in Chicago, the company has presented in over 55 U.S. cities from Maine to Hawaii, and its international partners span from New Zealand to Cuba. Commissioning and development partners include the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Krannert Center at the University of Illinois, The Yard (MA), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), Door Kinetic Arts Festival (WI), and Links Hall Chicago. Presenting partners include the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (MA), Joyce Theater (NYC), ODC (CA), TITAS (TX), Spoleto Festival/USA (SC), NC State LIVE (NC), Portland Ovations (ME), Skirball Center (NYC), and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (D.C.), among others.
Lucky Plush Productions is the first and only dance company to receive the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, a recognition of the company’s exceptional creativity and impact. Other awards include creation, residency, and touring awards from National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, and National Performance Network; exchange awards from the MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund; a presentation award from MetLife Foundation; and an achievement award from the Lester and Hope Abelson Fund for the Performing Arts at The Chicago Community Trust.
Lucky Plush performances have been cited in many “Best of Year” performance round-ups including in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, Time Out Chicago, Chicago Public Radio and Boston Globe. New City hailed Lucky Plush “a brand of movement-based theater that can be comfortably called, without exaggeration, genius.”
Lucky Plush Productions is a Harris Theater for Music and Dance resident company where its staff and sustainability initiatives are housed under the leadership of Managing Director Kim Goldman.
Julia Roads is the founding Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions. She has created over 25 collaborative works with the company, several of which have toured throughout the U.S., including: Punk Yankees, The Better Half, Cinderbox 2.0, The Queue, SuperStrip, and Rooming House. Additional choreography and movement direction credits include projects with Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Lookingglass Theatre, River North Chicago Dance Company, Walkabout Theater, and Redmoon, among others. Rhoads is the recipient of an Alpert Award in Dance, a Fractured Atlas Arts Entrepreneurship Award, and fellowships from Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Cliff Dwellers Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, and the Jacob K. Javits Foundation. She is a former company member of San Francisco Ballet and ensemble member of XSIGHT! Performance Group. She received her BA in History from Northwestern University, her MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and she has taught in the dance and theater programs of several Chicago-area colleges and universities. She is currently Director of Dance and Lecturer at University of Chicago’s Department of Theater and Performance Studies.