Lookingglass announces full cast for Life Sucks

Lookingglass announces full cast for Life Sucks 1 Opening its 29th Season, Lookingglass Theatre Company presents the Midwest Premiere of Life Sucks written by Aaron Posner and directed by Lookingglass Ensemble Member Andrew White. Life Sucks runs September 9-November 6, 2016 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. 

Opening its 29th Season, Lookingglass Theatre Company presents the Midwest Premiere of Life Sucks written by Aaron Posner and directed by Lookingglass Ensemble Member Andrew White. Life Sucks runs September 9-November 6, 2016 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago’s historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. 

The cast of Life Sucks includes Lookingglass Ensemble Member Philip R. Smith (Astor) with Eddie Jemison (Vanya), Danielle Zuckerman (Sonia), Chaon Cross (Ella), Barbara Robertson (Babs), Jim Ortlieb (Professor) and Penelope Walker (Pickles).

A group of old friends, ex-lovers, estranged in-laws, and lifelong enemies gather to grapple with life’s thorniest questions—and each other. What could possibly go wrong? Incurably lustful and lonely, hapless and hopeful, these seven souls collide and stumble their way towards a new understanding that Life Sucks! Or does it?

From the mind of Aaron Posner, author of Stupid F*#king Bird, comes this brash and revelatory reworking of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Never has unhappiness been so much fun.

Lookingglass Theatre Company recently announced the addition of Eddie Jemison to the cast of Life Sucks. Jemison replaces previously-announced Ensemble Member Joey Slotnick in the role of Vanya, due to a scheduling conflict.

The design team for Life Sucks includes Production Affiliate Brian Sydney Bembridge (scenic and lighting design), Mieka Van der Ploeg (costume design) and Andre Pluess (sound design and composition).

About the Artists

Aaron Posner (playwright) is an Award-winning playwright and director. His other plays and adaptations include Stupid Fucking Bird (a finalist for the Steinberg Award and the winner of the 2014 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play), No Sisters (both his other re-inventions of Chekhov plays), District Merchants (inspired by The Merchant of Venice), Who Am I This Time? & Other Conundrums of Love (adapted from Kurt Vonnegut short stories), The Chosen and My Name Is Asher Lev (adapted from the Chaim Potok novels), Sometimes a Great Notion (adapted from Ken Kesey), a nine-actor Cyrano, a musical adaptation of Mark Twain’s A Murder, A Mystery and A Marriage, and The Tempest and Macbeth (both with Teller of Penn & Teller). He is a founder and former artistic director of Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company and has directed at major regional theaters from coast to coast. He is an artistic associate at the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C. He lives outside of D.C with his wife, actress Erin Weaver, and his daughter, Maisie.

Andrew White (Director/Connectivity and Engagement Director/Ensemble Member) has participated as an actor, writer, or director in more than forty Lookingglass productions, most recently appearing in Treasure Island. He wrote the book and lyrics forEastland: A New Musical, received a Jeff Award for his 2004 adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 (which was presented at Steppenwolf Theatre Company last season as part of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults program), and wrote and directed Of One Blood in 1989. He has taught in various Lookingglass outreach programs and residencies, and co-founded Mosaic Experience, a company which uses an arts-based approach to dialogue about diversity. His family in Evanston includes one wife, Shari; two children, Julia and Asher; and one cat named Jane.

Chaon Cross (Ella) previously appeared at Lookingglass in Brothers Karamazov.Other Chicago credits include The Wheel, The Cherry Orchard, (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Proof (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination), Uncle Vanya, The Glass Menagerie,Scapin,The Romance Cycle, Phèdre (Court Theatre), Arcadia and Hedda gable (Writers Theatre), Cyrano (Court Theatre and Redmoon), As You Like It, Private Lives, Cymbeline, Troilus and Cressida, The Two Noble Kinsmen, The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Macbeth (Lyric Opera of Chicago) and Grace (Northlight Theatre). Regional credits include Lady Windermere’s Fan (Milwaukee Repertory Theater) and Pride & Prejudice (Cleveland Play House). TV credits include Chicago Fire (NBC), Boss (Starz) and Detroit 187 (ABC). Film credits include My Dog Skip (Warner Bros).

Eddie Jemison (Vanya) started his career in Chicago as Studs Terkel in Talking to Myself at Northlight Theatre. While in Chicago, he starred in Only Kidding (Wisdom Bridge Theatre), met his wife while playing Launce in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and was nominated for a Jeff Award for The Wizards of Quiz (National Jewish Theatre). After moving to Los Angeles, he has acted in many films including Waitress, The Punisher, Coffee, Kill Boss, the upcoming indie The Summerland Project and six Steven Soderbergh films: Ocean’s Eleven; Ocean’s Twelve; Ocean’s Thirteen; Schizopolis; The Informant!; andBehind the Candelabra. On TV Eddie was a regular on the HBO series “Hung” and is currently recurring as Mr. Boss in “iZombie.” Eddie wrote, co-directed and co-starred alongside his wife, Laura Lamson in the award-winning indie film King of Herrings. He toured the U.S. and the U.K. in the indie band, Love Kit.

Barbara Robertson (Babs) previously performed at Lookingglass in Hard Times. She is currently performing in Tug of War at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, where her credits also include The Tempest, Gypsy, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, A Little Night Music, The Winter’s Tale, Kabuki Lady Macbeth, King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra. As a part of Shakespeare 400 Chicago, she performed in Shakespeare a cappella with Chicago a cappella. Other Chicago credits include: The Detective’s Wife (Writers Theatre); On the Town (Marriott Theatre); Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Working, Grand Hotel (Broadway Playhouse); Wicked (Cadillac and Oriental Theatres);Yeast Nation (American Theater Company); Pursued by Happiness (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Camino Real, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, House and Garden (Goodman Theatre); Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Mary Stuart, La Bête (Court Theatre);  Emma’s Child (Victory Gardens Theater); and Angels in America I and II (First National Tour). Film credits include: The Company, A Straight Story, After Christmas, LOL. Barbara teaches at Columbia College Chicago and has received more than twenty awards and nominations as an actress.

Jim Ortlieb (Professor) is proud to be working with Andrew White and Lookinglass Theatre for the first time. His theatre credits include Tartuffe, Candide, The Mikado (Weston Playhouse, Vermont), The Grapes of Wrath (directed by David Cromer at Ford’s Theatre, DC), The Homecoming, Requiem for a Heavyweight (Gare St. Lazare Players in Paris, FR), The Farnsworth Invention, Guys and Dolls and Of Mice and Men (Broadway), Billy Elliot (1st National Tour). Jim’s favorite performances in Chicago have been M the Murderer (Organic), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Illinois Theater Center), Act Without Words (Splinter Group),Scapin (American Blues), Hughie (Gare St. Lazare Players), Picasso at the Lapin Agile and The Man Who Came to Dinner(Steppenwolf). Jim earned an IRNE Award best actor nomination for his work in John Kolvenbach’s Marriage Play (Merrimack Rep, MA). His television credits include “Masters of Sex,” “Bones,” “The Closer,” “CSI,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Shield,” “Felicity,” “Roswell.” Film: Magnolia, Bug, A Mighty Wind, Latter Days, The Onion Movie, Drunkboat, Contagion. Inheritance (2017) andJekyll Island coming out this fall. Jim has continued to teach and direct professionally in Los Angeles and for the lower, middle, high schools at Highland Hall Waldorf School in Northridge, CA. He’s happy to be home in Chicago again.

Philp R. Smith (Astor/Producing Director and Lookingglass Ensemble Member) is currently performing at Berkeley Rep in the Lookingglass co-production of Treasure Island as Captain Smollett, a role he originated at Lookingglass. Other Lookingglass credits include Bass in Big Lake Big City, Ethan in Ethan Frome, Will in Trust, Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, Ivan inThe Brothers Karamazov, Tinker Bosch in The Wooden Breeks and Creon in Hillbilly Antigone. Other recent credits include Wrede Sartorius in The March, Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Rev. Parris in The Crucible, all at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; and Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days at Baltimore’s Center Stage. Other regional credits include work at the McCarter Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Arden Theatre, BAM (NYC), and The Actors Gang (LA). TV and film credits include “Boss,” “Friends,” “Prison Break,” “Chicago Hope,” “Early Edition,” Kissing a Fool, Since You’ve Been Gone, High Fidelity, The Express and The Dilemma. As Producing Artistic Director, oversight includes Lookingglass casting and serving as a primary artistic liaison to the Development, Special Events, Marketing and Production departments.

Penelope Walker (Pickles) previously performed at Lookingglass in Black Diamond. She is currently performing in The House That Will Not Stand at Victory Gardens Theater, where she has also appeared in No One As Nasty as part of the IGNITION Festival. Other Chicago credits include: A Christmas Carol, The Story, Crowns, Matchmaker (US), Gem Of The Ocean (US)(Goodman Theatre); Love & Information (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company); The Project(s), Agnes Of God, Doubt, People’s Temple (American Theater Company); Will You Stand Up (Erasing The Distance); Love Lies Bleeding (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); 10 Virgins, Voyeurs de Venus (Chicago Dramatists); Eclipsed, Gees Bend, Bee Luther Hatchee (Northlight Theatre);The Clink (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble). Film/TV: Severed TiesFlowers, Matching Pursuit (web series), “Chicago Fire,” “Boss.”

Danielle Zuckerman is making her Lookingglass Theatre Company debut. She is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

About Lookingglass Theatre Company

Inventive. Collaborative. Transformative. Lookingglass Theatre Company, recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award, was founded in 1988 by eight Northwestern University students. Now in its 28th season, Lookingglass is home to a multi-disciplined ensemble of artists who create story-centered theatrical work that is physical, aurally rich and visually metaphoric. The Company has staged 65 world premieres and received 112 Joseph Jefferson awards and nominations. Work premiered at Lookingglass has been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Princeton, Hartford, Kansas City, Washington D.C., and St. Louis. Lookingglass original scripts have been produced across the United States.


The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago’s landmark Water Tower Water Works opened in June 2003. In addition to developing and presenting ensemble work, Lookingglass Education and Community programs encourage creativity, teamwork and confidence with thousands of community members each year.


Lookingglass Theatre Company continues to expand its artistic, financial and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Heidi Stillman, Executive Director Rachel Kraft, Producing Director Philip R. Smith, Connectivity and Engagement Director Andrew White, General Manager Michele Anderson, a 24-member artistic ensemble, 15 artistic associates, 11 production affiliates, an administrative staff and a dedicated board of directors led by Chairman John McGowan of CTC| myCFO (a part of BMO Financial Group) and President Nancy Timmers, civic leader and philanthropist. For more information, visitlookingglasstheatre.org.