Sunday, August 22, 2010

BoHo Begins Season With Fresh Face And a New Venue

BoHo Theatre is kicking off its seventh season in September with bold new changes, including new Artistic and Executive Directors, a new performance space, and an expanded season!

Founded by Artistic Director Steve Genovese and Executive Director Tom Samorian, BoHo Theatre began as a small storefront theatre in 2003 inspired by the idea of theatre that embraces the arts as a whole and produces art for art’s sake. This philosophy lead to the introduction of their four-show season, in which each production represents one of the four pillars of Bohemian philosophy: Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love. After six years of inspired vision and leadership under Genovese and Samorian, BoHo has grown into one of the most beloved and award-nominated non-Equity theatres in Chicago. Last year alone, BoHo Theatre was nominated for 11 Jeff Awards, including eight for the regional premiere of The Glorious Ones, which received a revival at this summer’s Theatre on the Lake. In his time with BoHo, Genovese has helmed seven Jeff-recommended productions, winning best director for 2006’s SideShow, as well as created scenic and sound design for numerous shows. Samorian meanwhile, has served as Production Manager for 18 out of BoHo’s first 21 shows, and brought productions to audiences at Theatre on the Lake, Theatre Building, Illinois High School Festival, and the Heartland Studio in Rogers Park.

Stepping up into the Artistic Director position is BoHo company member Peter Marston Sullivan. Sullivan has also been at the helm of some of BoHo’s most critically-acclaimed shows, including Playing with Fire, Ghosts, and the Jeff-nominated productions M. Butterfly and I Am My Own Wife (which he co-directed with Genovese). “I couldn’t be more excited to be taking over the artistic leadership of BoHo right now!” says Sullivan. “We are at a point of tremendous growth, adding new company members and moving to a new space. The groundwork that Tom and Steve have given this company is amazing, and we will all be working hard to continue to expand and grow the vision they started.”

The Executive Director position will be filled by new company member Peter Blair. Blair has worked as a stage manager, director, producer, and production administrator at venues such as Drury Lane, Porchlight, Bailiwick, and the Marriot Theatre, as well as the downtown run of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Genovese and Samorian will remain actively engaged with BoHo Theatre in advisory positions, which will allow them to focus their talents on further artistic endeavors. “One thing we’ve always wanted to do is create immersive environments for our productions,” says Genovese. “We had success doing things like popping fresh popcorn before each performance of SideShow, so the smell of the circus permeated the space and extended the ambience of the scenic design beyond just the stage. We haven’t been able to do as much of that recently, and it’s something I’ll be helping create in the future.” Samorian will be curating lobby art exhibits for each show to help expand the artistic reach of the productions and promote individual artists. He will also be looking for new works to develop, as well as developing a few original pieces of his own.

Also beginning this season, BoHo will be stepping up from its long-time home at the 27-seat Heartland Studio in Rogers Park to become a resident theatre company at the new Theater Wit space. Theater Wit is located at 1229 W Belmont Avenue, formerly the old Bailiwick space, and features three newly-renovated theaters—two traditional 99-seat stages, plus a 79-seat adaptable blackbox space—as well as a state-of-the art box office, a refreshment bar in the spacious lobby, and valet parking in a vibrant neighborhood.
BoHo’s new season kicks off September 10th with Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score. Based on Mark Twain’s classic take and written by William Hauptman with country music legend Roger Miller, whose classic hits include “King of the Road” and “Dang Me,” Big River is a theatrical journey of pure Americana. The production will also feature a photography exhibit of panoramic views of the Mississippi River by Midwest photographers, Dr. Abdul Sinno and Rafic Sinno, curated by Genovese and Samorian in their new advisory roles. Big River is directed by new Artistic Director Sullivan, fresh from directing BoHo’s Ghosts (“Absolutely stunning” –Hedy Weiss, The Sun-Times), and marks BoHo’s very first show at Theater Wit. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at or by calling the Theater Wit box office at 773-975-8150.

BoHo isn’t leaving its home at the Heartland Studio forever, though. For the first time ever, BoHo Theatre has expanded its season beyond its traditional four production to include a holiday show. Striking 12, dubbed the un-holiday holiday show, is a unique hybrid of musical theatre and live concert. Combining pop-rock, musical comedy, and old-fashioned uplift with a healthy dose of 21st-century skepticism, Striking 12 is a feel-good musical show in which the musicians and actors are one and the same. Striking 12 opens in the Heartland Studio on December 16.

Subscription packages for BoHo’s entire new season are now on sale for $80. Subscriptions include a discounted ticket to each of the mainstage shows at Theater Wit, as well as a free ticket to Striking 12! For more information or to order subscriptions now, visit