Chicago’s Lucky Plush Productions Premieres The Queue at Links Hall, May 2014

The Queue 2_Benjamin WardellFrom May 2 – 18, 2014, Chicago’s Lucky Plush Productions will perform the world premiere of The Queue at the new Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave, Chicago. Lucky Plush Productions (LPP) is a Chicago-based dance theater company committed to provoking and supporting an immediacy of presence – a palpable liveness – shared by performers in real-time with its audiences. Tickets are $15-$30 (purchase early for discounts). For more information and tickets, please visit or call 773.281.0824.

Schedule of Run:

  • Preview performances of The Queue: Fri–Sun, May 2–4, 7pm (tickets $15-20)
  • Performances of The Queue: Thurs–Sun, May 8–18; Mon, May 12, 7pm (tickets $15-30)
  • Run time approx. 75 min.

The Queue, equal parts dance and theater, is co-created by choreographer/director Julia Rhoads (founding Artistic Director of Lucky Plush and recipient of a 2013 Alpert Award in the Arts) and theater director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (co-founder of 500 Clown). The Claudettes, a neo-vaudevillian piano-drums duo (Michael Caskey and Johnny Iguana), compose original music and perform live.

Set in a fictional international airport, The Queue’s influences are early 20th century forms of slapstick, vaudeville acts, Busby Berkeley style choreography, and creaky 1-act plays. The central narrative is adapted from a 1746 farcical play A Will and No Will, in which the imminent death of an old man propels an assortment of seemingly unrelated characters into a chaotic negotiation of their stakes in his life (and death) and their potential inheritances. These sources and performance vocabularies collide with contemporary dance and the distinctly nontheatrical context of waiting to create a comedic and moving dance-theater production.

The Queue playfully addresses how private dramas in public spaces can slip into a kind of performed spectacle, particularly in the pressure-cooker environment of an airport, a place that captures people en route to big life events (weddings, funerals, honeymoons, big business). Full of heightened emotional states and expectation, airports often provoke larger-than-life questions: How much should someone pay to change a flight when a family member dies? Is using Skype at an airport an appropriate means by which to show up at a deathbed? Who is entitled to an inheritance and at what cost? Lucky Plush brings its signature blend of immediacy and humor to explore these questions, without shying away from the awkwardness and discomfort around fractured privacy, deceit, and dying.

The Queue marks Rhoads’ and Danzig’s second collaboration following The Better Half. Both productions are recipients of a prestigious National Dance Project Award, which provides touring subsidies for national presenters. The Queue features The Claudettes along with performers Francisco Avina, Michel Rodriguez Cintra, Marc Macaranas, Melinda Jean Myers, Cassandra Porter, Benjamin Wardell and Meghann Wilkinson, and lighting design by Cat Wilson.

Lucky Plush Productions (LPP) is dedicated to creating dance-theater work that is richly and uncompromisingly complex while also being accessible to broad audiences. Critics and audiences alike recognize LPP for its evocative choreography, moving content, surprising humor, and incisive commentary on contemporary culture.

Since its founding in 1999, Lucky Plush has premiered over 30 original works including site-specific works, dance films, and 10 evening-length productions. Recent presentations include Spoleto Festival/USA (SC), Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (MA), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), Skirball Center (NYC), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (IL), North Carolina State University (NC), Purdue Convocations (IN), Kohler Performing Arts Center (WI), Dance Cleveland (OH), College of St. Benedict/St. John (MN), Hancher Auditorium (IA), Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, Steppenwolf Garage (IL), Joyce SoHo (NY), and Spring to Dance (MO), among others, as well as an international exchange with the Dance & Physical Theatre Trust of New Zealand and New Zealand Dance Company.

LPP has received two National Dance Project Production Grants, an NDP Production Residency for Dance, two NPN Creation Fund grants, an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Illinois Arts Council Artstour Award. Co-commissioning presenters include Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT) and Links Hall Chicago (IL). The company has been recognized by The Boston Globe’s “10 Best Dance Performances of 2013,” Chicago Public Radio’s “Best of 2011”; The Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago 2010”; Time Out Chicago’s “The Decade’s 10 Best Original Dance Works”; The Chicago Tribune’s “Best of Dance 2008”; Chicago Sun Times’ “Lasting memories in Dance” for 2005 and 2007, and a Time Out Chicago cover story “5 reasons to love dance in Chicago.”

Additionally, LPP recently spearheaded Creative Partners, a new model in nonprofit fundraising with Grammy-award winning eighth blackbird (music) and Blair Thomas & Company (theater). Creative Partners provides high level development support to three nationally recognized organizations, so that the artists can focus on what they do best: making world-class dance, theatre and music. Lucky Plush is represented by Elsie Management, Laura Colby Director, in Brooklyn, New York.

Julia Rhoads is the founding Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions, and she has created over 25 original works with the company since 1999. Her independent choreography has been commissioned by River North Chicago Dance Company, Lookingglass Theatre, Redmoon, Alaska Dance Theater, Mordine and Company Dance Theater, Walkabout Theater, Hyperdelic, and M5, among others, and she is a former company member of the San Francisco Ballet and collaborating ensemble member of XSIGHT! Performance Group. Rhoads is the recipient of the 2013 Alpert Award in Dance, a fellowship from the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, a Cliff Dwellers Foundation Award for Choreography, two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships for Choreography, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, and she was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2010. She was most recently honored with a 2014 Fractured Atlas Arts Entrepreneurship Award for her work with Creative Partners. Rhoads earned a BA in History from Northwestern University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and is currently part-time faculty and dance advisor at University of Chicago’s Theater and Performance Studies.

Leslie Buxbaum Danzig is co-founder of the Chicago-based physical theater company 500 Clown, where she co-created and directed 500 Clown Macbeth, Frankenstein, Elephant Deal, and Christmas. 500 Clown has played in Chicago at venues including Steppenwolf and Lookingglass and tours regularly throughout the US. Other credits include directing Redmoon’s Hunchback at The New Victory Theater (NYC), The Elephant and the Whale (Redmoon/Chicago Childrens’ Theater) and Float with About Face Theatre; co-directing The Better Half with Lucky Plush Productions; touring nationally and internationally as an actor with NYC’s Elevator Repair Service; and appearing as Masha in The Seagull in Lake Lucille, NY (director Brian Mertes). Danzig received her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University and PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University, and she trained in physical theatre and clown with Jacques Lecoq and Philippe Gaulier. For the past five years, she has taught at The University of Chicago and is currently at the University as program curator for the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry. With just piano and drums, The Claudettes (Johnny Iguana and Michael Caskey) create their own fanatical fusion of blues, jazz and soul — like Ray Charles on a punk kick. Imagine an amped-up hybrid of Otis Spann, Ray Charles and Mose Allison, joined by a jolly madman drummer and conducted in gonzo fashion by Raymond Scott. File under: post-burlesque? Neo-vaudeville? Cosmic cartoon music? You’ve never seen an instrumental duo like this.