Lifeline Theatre’s 2015-2016 season to include “Midnight Cowboy” and Jane Austen musical

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Lifeline Theatre, the enduring company in Rogers Park whose motto, “Big Stories, Up Close,” captures it devotion to stage adaptations of books both classic and contemporary, has announced its 2015-2016 season.

The MainStage season, under the umbrella title “Innocence & Awakenings,” will include: “Miss Buncle’s Book” (Sept. 11 – Nov. 1, 2015), an early-20th century British romp; “Midnight Cowboy” (Feb. 19–April 10, 2016), the modern American novel best known for its film version; and “Northanger Abbey,” a new musical version of Jane Austen’s comedic romance. (May 27 – July 17, 2016).

The company’s acclaimed KidSeries season, under the umbrella title of “Fanciful Families & Fabulous Friends,” will feature three musical adaptations: The beloved classic, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” (Oct. 24 – Nov. 29, 2015), followed by “Sparky!” (Jan. 16 – Feb. 21, 2016), a modern story about friendship and acceptance; and ending with “Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters” (March 19 – April 24, 2016), a darkly humorous tale of fashion and clowning.

Additionally, Lifeline will produce the 19th annual Fillet of Solo Festival (Jan. 15 – 31, 2016), a three-week, multi-venue solo performance and storytelling festival; and the 2015-16 Concert Reading Series that will see the return of three works of murder and mystery to the Lifeline stage, including “The Picture of Dorian Gray” “The Shadow” and “The Moonstone.”

To purchase season subscriptions, single tickets or for more information call (773) 761-4477, or visit Season subscriptions offer the three MainStage productions for $80 (a $120 value), or the three KidSeries plays for $30 (a $45 value). Passes to the Fillet of Solo Festival may be added to any subscription for $25 (a $50 value; allows entry to all performances in the 2016 Festival). Being a Lifeline subscriber enables patrons to save 33% off regular ticket prices; offers discounts on additional tickets and reduced admission to the Concert Reading Series; offers discounts to drama camp registration; gives first choice of seats with unlimited free ticket exchanges; knocks 25% off party room packages for pre- or post-show events; and offers invitations to subscriber events such as Sneak Peeks of the rehearsal process, book discussions, and author events.

Lifeline, located at 6912 N. Glenwood, also is continuing its popular “Book Club Add-ons,” which include paperback copies of two of the source books for the MainStage season (“Miss Buncle’s Book” and “Northanger Abbey”) for $15, or hardcover copies of all three source books for the KidSeries season for $35. Copies of the source books for the MainStage and KidSeries seasons will be on sale in the lobby, as will cast recordings of selected musical productions.

Here are the full MainStage details:

 “Miss Buncle’s Book”

A world premiere based on the novel by D.E. Stevenson

Adapted by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Christina Calvit

Directed by Lifeline Theatre Artistic Director Dorothy Milne

September 11–November 1, 2015

Barbara Buncle is just an ordinary, unassuming spinster passing an unremarkable existence in the sleepy village of Silverstream. But when the Great Depression wipes out her nest egg, she tries her hand at writing and publishes a novel – under an assumed name – about her quaint hometown and the oddball characters that inhabit it. When the book becomes a surprise bestseller and her neighbors’ foibles are thrust into the national spotlight, Miss Buncle must navigate a madcap storm of accusations, rivalries, and romances. A rollicking look at life imitating art and art imitating life, in a world premiere adaptation of the 1934 novel by D.E. Stevenson.

± “Midnight Cowboy”

A world premiere based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy

Adapted by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Chris Hainsworth

Director TBA

February 19–April 10, 2016

Joe Buck escapes his dead-end life in Texas and heads to New York City with dreams of making his fortune as a hustler for wealthy socialites. But his rugged cowboy persona masks the gullibility of a child, and Joe falls victim to all manner of con artists and predators. At the end of his rope, he partners with street-savvy Rico “Ratso” Rizzo in an alliance that could either save or destroy them both. A meditation on loneliness and the need to form real connections amidst the crushing isolation of 20th-century life, in a world premiere adaptation of the 1965 novel by James Leo Herlihy.

± “Northanger Abbey”

A world premiere musical based on the novel by Jane Austen

Adapted by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric

Music and Lyrics by George Howe

Directed by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Elise Kauzlaric

May 27–July 17, 2016

Catherine Morland leaves her quiet country home for the splendors of Bath, armed only with an innocent heart and the examples of her favorite literary heroines. Immersed in a new world of parties, balls, and high society, Catherine soon finds herself caught in a web of social scheming far above her skill to master. False friends, greedy lovers, and a wealth of misunderstandings lead to the revelation that bruises of the heart can be far more painful than the imagined terrors of Gothic novels. Take a turn through the ballrooms of Bath and unravel the mysteries of Northanger Abbey in a world premiere musical based on the satirical 1817 comedy of manners by Jane Austen.

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