BY ELIZABETH DUNLOP RICHTER
Photos by Elizabeth Dunlop Richter and Ingrid Bonne Photography courtesy of TimeLine Theatre Company.
Gerald Nudo, TimeLine Board Member Anne Voshel.
1969: A memorable year many of us remember vividly! Neil Armstrong steps onto the moon. 350,00 rock and roll fans fill a field in Woodstock, NY. Richard Nixon begins his presidency. “Oliver!” wins the Oscar. Monty Python debuts on the BBC. On March 15, the year came alive again, thanks to TimeLine Theatre – not through one of its award-winning plays but at its annual gala, Step into Time, at the Ritz Carlton.
Known for its year-specific, highly produced, high-powered entertainment, Step into Time attracted a record number of 319 supporters in period dress, in many cases pulled not just from the Internet, but also from personal closets!
Sarah and Jim McRae, Tobin Richter.
Tobin Richter 1969, outside Saigon.
While Woodstock-appropriate dress was the most popular, the moon landing inspired at last three party-goers, including Jim McCrae who made the “flight” down from Neenah, WI with his wife Sarah. Tobin Richter could still get into his 1969 Corps of Engineer fatigues, once worn on location in Saigon. (Shameless plug for my husband’s fitness).
David Hiller, Colleen Loughlin, Darcy Evon.
Colleen Loughlin went in a more elegant direction with a turquoise, green, yellow, and orange cocktail dress that belonged to her mother. Just as period appropriate were the geometric red trim, necklace and matching red purse that Darcy Evon chose to complete her black ensemble. It’s hard to know what to say about David Hiller’s flower child outfit. He – a distinguished and dapper grey-haired executive – was totally unrecognizable in bell-bottoms, flowered shirt, new brown hairdo and moustache plus tinted glasses. Amazing transformation, David!
TimeLine Board Members John Sirek and Phil Cable.
One was reminded of course that while many danced to Jimi Hendrix and wore granny glasses, not everyone did. Former TimeLine Board Chair John Sirek and current Board Member Phil Cable wore two totally authentic – and quite different – 1969 looks.
For those who didn’t bring enough “flower power,” the prop table offered lots of choices, from guitars and tambourines to daisies and shawls.
TimeLine Board President Eileen LaCario, Board Members Karen Case and Susan Payne.
Emma McMahon, TimeLine Board Member Tom Gosline, Molly Gosline.
TimeLine Living History Program Director and Company Member Juliet Hart, Tiffany Fulson Education Assistant.
TimeLine Board Member Richard Weinberg with Elaine Cohen.
Juliet Moffat, Susy Yassan, Sandra Wasson.
Rhonda Rochambeau, Deanna Dunagan, and Company Member Anish Jethmalani.
Jim McRae, Dave Berger, Mark Onuscheck.
J. Nicole Brooks with Company Member Ron OJ Parson.
Company Member Janet Ulrich Brooks with Kiki Haralambides and Amy Matheny.
Company Members Charles Andrew Gardner and Wardell Julius Clark.
Members of The Happiness Club on the dance floor.
Singers Emily Berman, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, Will Mobley.
5035 N. Broadway.
This festive celebration of the past, however, was sharply focused on the future – to be exact, the future new permanent home for TimeLine Theatre. Officially announced in January, TimeLine has purchased a warehouse building (and adjacent vacant lot) at 5035 N. Broadway, built in 1910 by W.C. Reebie & Brother, a moving and storage company. Given TimeLine’s production of plays that speak to the past, relate to today’s issues and inspire conversation about the future, it’s only fitting that its new home will be in a building over 100 years old.
M. Elizabeth Ziegler with Artistic Director PJ Powers.
Artistic Director PJ Powers is excited by the creative potential. “We’ve been building toward this moment for 22 years. The opportunity is a blank canvas that affords us so many design opportunities for vibrant theater.”
Artist’s preliminary rendering of new theater.
The flexibility and intimacy that characterize TimeLine’s productions in its current home on Wellington Avenue will be integral to the designs for two new flexible-seat theaters, one seating 250 and one seating 150. A close connection between the audience and the actors has been a key element in TimeLine’s success and will again characterize the new playing spaces.
Janet Ulrich Brooks as Maria Callas in TimeLine’s production of “Master Class.”
For the actors, the new theater will be a major change for the better. Actor and TimeLine Company Member Janet Ulrich Brooks (most recently appearing in Victory Garden’s production of Pipeline) is looking forward to not worrying that the lights will go out during rehearsal because someone is making coffee and overloads the circuits. She notes on a more basic level, “It’s as simple as being able to use the restroom without climbing three flights of stairs!”
Audiences will discover ample room for a box office, bar, and lobby areas to support special events and TimeLine’s unique immersive lobby experiences. The lobby designs include historic materials from each play’s era to provide context and interactive activities that engage its audiences. Critically important, the staff and actors will have room for rehearsals, a costume shop, staff offices and badly needed storage. Actors will have dressing rooms and a green room. Of special note, the acclaimed Living History Program that has brought history through theater to thousands of area students, will have space to expand its programming.
Penny and Bill Obenshain.
Longtime TimeLine subscribers are particularly pleased with the new location. Board member Bill Obenshain and his wife Penny are delighted that the Red Line Argyle stop is around the corner and nearby parking will be convenient. Bill, who has lectured on naval history, was first intrigued by the theater’s focus on plays with historical significance. As a former banker, he was particularly impressed when he learned that the theater operated debt free for its first two decades. “It’s a unicorn… probably the only theater in Chicago to operate in the black for 20 years! Theaters are notorious for not understanding the financial side of the business. TimeLine is now making an important investment in its future – a sea-change, a major step in its history!
TimeLine’s new home is in Uptown, a north side neighborhood that has an historic legacy of live entertainment. A few blocks south, the storied Uptown Theater, closed since 1981, is slated for restoration to begin this summer. The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, the Aragon Ballroom, and the Riviera Theater are close by; TimeLine’s presence will no doubt enhance the creative energy of the area. Now comes the challenge of completing the funding puzzle. Step into Time provided a key piece by ensuring TimeLine’s continued stability, raising nearly $400,000 to benefit the company’s mission and programs.