The Hypocrites Present BURNING BLUEBEARD Nov 19– Jan 10

The Hypocrites are thrilled to continue their 2015-16 with return of The Ruffians’ critically acclaimed holiday hit, BURNING BLUEBEARD by Jay Torrence, directed by Halena Kays and featuring last season’s full cast. This fantastical tale inspired by Chicago’s 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire has been an annual Chicago holiday favorite for two years running.  BURNING BLUEBEARD will play November 19, 2015 – January 10, 2016 at The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage, 1329 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets are currently on sale at

BURNING BLUEBEARD will feature last season’s full cast: Pam Chermansky, Anthony CourserMolly PlunkJay TorrenceLeah Urzendowski and Ryan Walters.

Inspired by the true story of Chicago’s 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire, BURNING BLUEBEARD is the story of six singed clown performers who emerge from the burnt remains of history attempting to perform their spectacular Christmas Pantomime once and for all. But this time, they hope to finally reach the true happy ending of their second act and avoid the fateful fire that killed 600 of its audience members. BURNING BLUEBEARD is a whimsical romp with a sensitive heart, a joyful eulogy with a sharp irreverent wit including music, clowning, tumbling, acrobatics and dance. Each performance is a vaudevillian delight with a story that excavates the poetic and poignant remains of a piece of Chicago’s rich history.

The production will include two performances on the 112th anniversary of the actual Iroquois Theatre fire: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 at 3 pm and 8 pm.

The production team for BURNING BLUEBEARD includes: Lizzie Bracken (scenic design), Jessica Kuehnau Wardell (costume design), Mike Tutaj (sound design), Maggie Fullilove-Nugent (lighting design) Krista Mickelson (production manager) and Justine Palmisano (stage manager).



Playwright:  Jay Torrence

Director:  Halena Kays

Featuring: Anthony Courser (Henry Gilfoil), Pam Chermansky (Fancy Clown), Molly Plunk (Faerie Queen), Jay Torrence (Robert Murray), Leah Urzendowski (Nellie Reed) and Ryan Walters (Eddie Foy).

Location: The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage, 1329 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Dates:  Previews: Thursday, November 19 at 8 pm, Friday, November 20 at 8 pm and Saturday, November 21 at 8 pm.

Press PerformanceSunday, November 22 at 7 pm

Iroquois Fire 112th Anniversary PerformancesWednesday, December 30 at 3 pm & 8 pm.
Regular Run: Friday, November 27, 2015 – January 10, 2016

Curtain Times: Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will be added performances on Sunday, December 20 at 7 pm, Sunday, December 27 at 7 pm and Sunday, January 3 at 7 pm. There will not be performances on Friday, December 25 (Christmas Day) and Friday, January 1 (New Years Day).

Tickets Prices: Previews: $28. Regular run:  $36. Students: $15.  Groups of 8 or more: $18 per person. Tickets are currently on sale at

Jay Torrence 
is a founding member of the artistic collective The Ruffians and has been writing/performing/directing in Chicago since 2002. His playwriting and performance credits include Ivywild, Burning Bluebeard and Roustabout: The Great Circus Train Wreck (Awarded the John W. Schmid After Dark Award for Outstanding New Work and the After Dark Award for Outstanding Production). Jay has had the privilege to work and perform with 500 Clown, The Hypocrites, Redmoon, Theater Oobleck and the Neo-Futurists, where he was an ensemble member for twelve years and the former Artistic Director and was named one of the top 50 “players” in Chicago theater by Newcity. Torrence earned his MFA in Creative Writing from The University of British Columbia and has studied under master clown Philippe Gaulier. He is a published essayist and the proud recipient of the Prairie Fire Award for Creative Non Fiction and The Annie Dillard Award for Creative Non Fiction.

Halena Kays is former Artistic Director of The Hypocrites and a founding member of the artistic collaborative, The Ruffians. Chicago credits include: EndgameIvywild, Six Characters in Search of an Author at The Hypocrites; The Magic Play at The Goodman, Lord of the Flies at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Burning Bluebeard, 44 Plays for 44 PresidentsDaredevilsDaredevils Hamlet and Fake Lake at The Neo-Futurists (artistic associate); Roustabout at Concordia College; Buried in Bughouse Square at The University of Chicago. Kays is the co-founder and former artistic director of Barrel of Monkeys, where she directed the majority of their public performances. She is a UT-Austin and Northwestern grad, former member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care unit and professor of directing at MTSU. Halena has been nominated for a Jefferson Citation for Best Supporting Actress and Best Direction, was the recipient of the prestigious 3Arts Award and was named one of the top 50 “players” in Chicago theater by Newcity.

About The Ruffians

The Ruffians are an artistic collective of theater makers (clowns, daredevils, acrobats, dancers, writers, performers, designers, directors). The Ruffians have all honed their craft working over a decade in Chicago’s various and thriving experimental, clown and storefront theater communities. A Ruffians objective is to make beautiful things with rough edges. A Ruffians motto: Breathe. Dare. Live.

About The Hypocrites

Artistic Director Sean Graney created The Hypocrites in 1997. The Hypocrites, one of Chicago’s premier off-Loop theater companies, specializes in startling and thoroughly entertaining adaptations of classic plays and stories, mounting bold productions that challenge preconceptions and redefining the role of the audience through unusual staging (such as promenade and in-the-round) and direct engagement. The mission is to explore recognizable stories—mixing the familiar and the strange—to make theater that thrills and provokes, defying expectations with humor, staging, and surprise. The company has a reputation in Chicago for creating exciting, surprising, and deeply engaging theater as it re-interprets well-known works for contemporary audiences, reveling in the absurd while revealing the core of what makes classics classic. The company has grown significantly in the past few years, receiving acclaim for productions at the Steppenwolf Garage, Goodman Theatre, Museum of Contemporary Art, DCASE Storefront and Chopin Theater. The company’s smash-hit production of Our Town, directed by David Cromer, transferred in 2009 to Off-Broadway, Los Angeles and Boston. The Pirates of Penzance has appeared at Actors Theater of Louisville and American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.). A.R.T. has also brought Romeo Juliet12 Nights and The Mikado (forthcoming). The American Theatre Wing, best known as the creator of the Tony Awards, presented The Hypocrites with one of the 2013 National Theatre Company awards in 2013. The critically acclaimed fall 2013 production of All Our Tragic is being brought back by popular demand in June 2015. For more information, please visit