In a cozy Victorian shop sits the hat of Charles Dickens, who once used it to carry water to the victims of a train wreck (that’s true!). When a pair of bumbling thieves plots to steal it (that’s imaginary!), young Kit sets out to foil their plan, save the hat, and free her father from debtors’ prison. This warm winter’s tale is filled with original music, lovable characters, and loads of good cheer!
View the online program book.
Director David Catlin and Playwright Michael Hollinger share how this new play came to be, how music plays a character, and what's required of actors to tackle these various roles!
Photos by Michael Brosilow
A Tip of the Hat to ‘Mr. Dickens’ Hat’ and Its Beguiling Twist on Charles Dickens’ Legacy
Hedy Weiss | December 7, 2021
Although I wouldn’t presume to speak for Charles Dickens, I am very tempted to say that he would be wholly enchanted by “Mr. Dickens’ Hat,” Michael Hollinger’s tragi-comic “play with music” that is now receiving a superb world premiere by Northlight Theatre.
The production springs to life from the moment you take your seat and are drawn into an eye-popping environment anchored by an Erector-set like steel bridge, dozens of cartons and a great deal more. And then, under the ingenious direction of David Catlin (a Lookingglass Theatre veteran), a sublime cast of six proceed to play a total of 28 very different characters, both comic and tragic, good and evil, brainy and dim-witted, and playfully proto-Dickensian.
Beneath Every Hat We’re All the Same
Chicago Theatre Review
Colin Douglas | December 6, 2021
That unrivaled bastion of art in Skokie, the excellent Northlight Theatre has offered some exquisite holiday productions in the past… Now that theatre has thankfully made a comeback, this original play with music is finally having its much-awaited world premiere at Northlight Theatre. It’s a wonderfully inventive piece of theatre, creatively directed here by Lookingglass Theatre Company’s David Catlin, and destined to become another holiday classic.
Michael Hollinger’s original, new Story Theatre play is a wonderful period comic drama that’s perfect for the holidays. It plays out as a tightly-directed, finely-textured one-act, running a fast-paced 90 minutes. Although this play isn’t specifically a Christmas play, because of its ties to Charles Dickens it has a certain holiday feel to it. Employing the familiar theme that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, Hollinger reminds us that beneath every hat we’re all the same. Filled with heart, and sporting so many sparkling, creative performances, inventive artistic and technical support and a background of lush music, this play is a must-see for Chicagoland during this season.
Christine Bunuan is so excited to be back in the theatre and making her debut at Northlight. She was last seen as Gigi in the 30th Anniversary Broadway Tour of Miss Saigon. Her Chicago Theatre credits include Marriott Lincolnshire, Silk Road Rising, TimeLine, Mercury Chicago, Goodman, Steppenwolf, and many more. During the pandemic, Christine made a couple co-star appearances on Chicago PD and The Chi. Visit her website at www.ChristineBunuan.com for more fun facts. Much love and thanks to the Stew Crew, her family and especially her husband, Sean, who has kept her happy and sane during this crazy adventure of life.
Cordelia Dewdney is overjoyed to be back onstage and making her Northlight debut. Chicago credits include Moby Dick, Hard Times, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at Lookingglass Theatre where she is thrilled to be an Artistic Associate. Regional credits include Moby Dick at The Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, and South Coast Repertory as well as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (McCarter Theatre in association with Lookingglass Theatre). Television credits include Chicago Med. She is represented by Stewart Talent and is a proud member of AEA and SAG.
Kasey Foster is a performer, producer, director, choreographer, and puppeteer. She is an Ensemble Member at Lookingglass Theatre, where she was last seen in The Steadfast Tin Soldier (Ballerina). Recent on-camera credits include: Chicago Med and IFC’s Documentary Now! She sings with bands Babe-alon 5, Grood, Nasty Buoy, Old Timey, and This Must be the Band, appearing at venues throughout the city and across the country. Kasey has created over fifty original works in Chicago and produces two annual series, Dance Tribute and The ACTual Show. For more info, check out www.kaseyfoster.com
Mark David Kaplan
Mark David Kaplan is the recipient of three Jeff Awards – for Les Misérables, Ragtime, and Forbidden Broadway – the latter with which he has toured internationally and performed off-Broadway. Credits include Kinky Boots (Paramount), Into the Woods and The Mystery of Love and Sex (Writers), Wonderful Town (Goodman), Beauty and the Beast (Drury Lane), Little Shop (American Blues/Mercury), Hairspray (Syracuse Stage), A Year with Frog and Toad (Chicago Children’s), Amadeus (Indiana Rep), We Three Lizas (About Face), …Spelling Bee (Chicago/James Lapine), and The Diary of Anne Frank (People’s Light). Mark spent 5 years in the national tour of The Lion King. TV includes Utopia (Amazon Video), Chicago Fire (NBC) and spots for T-Mobile and the Chicago Cubs. Proudly Actors’ Equity since 1986, Mark currently sits on the board of Season of Concern.
Ruchir Khazanchi is an awarded actor, songwriter, and musician originally from Omaha, Nebraska. He’s thrilled to be making his Northlight debut in this beautiful company. This past year he graduated from Northwestern University with concentrations in Theatre, Musical Theatre, Creating the Musical, and Screen Acting. Chicago credits: Legally Blonde (Paramount Aurora), Kiss (Haven Chicago), Something in the Game (American Music Theatre Project). TV/Film: God’s Little Americans (web series), The Becomers (independent film). Music direction and songwriting work available at www.ruchirkhazanchi.com. Instagram: @ruchir.khazanchi @abridgetothemoon. Thank you to my teachers.
Nick Sandys is delighted to return to Northlight where he has previously appeared in Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and Pride & Prejudice. Other recent productions as an actor include Frankenstein, Pygmalion, An Inspector Calls, The Chimes, and The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia? (Remy Bumppo); Captain Blood, A Turn Of The Screw, Twelfth Night, Blithe Spirit (First Folio); The Tempest, Much Ado (Notre Dame Shakespeare); The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Homes (Mercury Theatre), as well as productions at Cleveland Play House, Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass, and Light Opera Works, as well as regionally and Off Broadway. Nick has received some 16 Joseph Jefferson Nominations for acting, directing, and fight direction, a 2018 APA Audie Nomination for his audiobook narration of Dracula, and a 2011 Achievement Award from The Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts.
Michael Hollinger Plays include Opus, Red Herring, Ghost-Writer, Incorruptible, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf, and Cyrano (co-adapted with Aaron Posner), among others. Musicals include TouchTones (co-authored with Robert Maggio) and A Wonderful Noise (co-authored with Vance Lehmkuhl). Together these works have been produced throughout the U.S., off-Broadway, and abroad (London, Paris, Tokyo, Athens, Poland and Slovenia). Awards: ATCA/Steinberg New Play Citation, L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, Mid-Atlantic Emmy, two Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Awards, Frederick Loewe Award for Musical Theatre, and four Barrymore Awards. Michael is a Professor of Theatre at Villanova University and Artistic Director of Villanova Theatre. He shares a life with actor/teacher/director Megan Bellwoar and their children Benjamin and Willa.
David Catlin is a founding Ensemble Member, actor, writer, director, and former Artistic Director of Lookingglass Theatre Company. David adapted and directed Moby Dick, which debuted at Lookingglass in summer 2015, toured nationally, and played again at Lookingglass in summer 2017. Other Lookingglass writing credits include: Lookingglass Alice, Icarus, Her Name Was Danger, and The Idiot (Jeff Award for Adaptation). Recent directing credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s original, for Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Additional Lookingglass directing credits include: The Little Prince, Black Diamond (co-director), Metamorphosis, and West. Lookingglass acting credits include: Hard Times, The Arabian Nights, Our Town, Argonautika, La Luna Muda, The Odyssey, and The Jungle. David is an Artistic Associate with Actors Gymnasium and serves on the acting faculty at Northwestern University.
Chuck Larkin is thrilled to return to Northlight after Shining Lives, A Civil War Christmas, and At Wit’s End. Chuck served as associate conductor for Jersey Boys from May 2007 to January 2010 (Chicago) and for the National Tour from November 2011 to March 2014. He served as musical director for the 2014 Fall season and the 2010 and 2011 Summer seasons of American Folklore Theatre in Door County, Wisconsin, and has toured extensively with local and cabaret artists. Composing credits include Hen Lake and Sophie’s Masterpiece (Lifeline) and the award-winning River’s End with playwright/lyricist Cheryl Coons (Marin Theatre Company, O’Neill Conference, NAMT, NYMF and ASCAP Workshop).
Chicago: Goodman, Steppenwolf, Paramount Theater, Second City, Lyric Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Victory Gardens, The Hypocrites, American Theater Company, A Red Orchid, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Sideshow (artistic associate), First Floor Theater, Emerald City. NYC: The Cherry Lane, La Mama. Regional: Kennedy Center, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Actors Theater of Louisville, Pig Iron Theatre Company, Huntington Theater Company, Wolftrap Opera, Minnesota Opera, Cincinnati Opera. Milwaukee Rep, Artist’s Rep, Theatre Squared, Adirondack Theater Festival. International: Stockholm Vocal Academy and Opera Siam in Bangkok. MFA, Northwestern. wbdesigns.carbonmade.com
Sully Ratke is a Chicago-based theatre maker, and an artistic associate at Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago and The Actors Gymnasium in Evanston. She has worked with various Chicago theatres including Steppenwolf, Drury Lane, Marriott, Irish Theatre of Chicago, and Gift, among others. Her work has traveled to Municipal Theatre of Saint Louis, Arena Stage in Washington D.C., Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, McCarter Theatre in Princeton, and South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. Her work has been nominated for awards in Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. She continues to write, create, and design in Chicago while teaching design at various institutions in and around the city, including The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Columbia College, and North Central College.
Jason is a Chicago-based lighting designer and returns to Northlight Theatre, where previous design credits include How A Boy Falls. Other Chicago credits include: Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer), School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, I Hate It Here, Ohio State Murders, The Sound Inside, Lottery Day (Goodman); I,Cinna, I, Banquo (Chicago Shakespeare); The First Deep Breath (Victory Gardens); Kill Move Paradise (TimeLine); and The Total Bent (Haven Theatre). Regional credits include: Hairspray (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); A Doll’s House, A Doll’s House, Part 2, The Wild Party, Drag On (Denver Center for the Performing Arts); and Feeding Beatrice (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis). He was also the recipient of the 2019 Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award which recognizes emerging theatrical designers within the Chicago area. Jason is a proud member of The Association for Lighting Production and Design and is represented by The Gersh Agency. www.jasondlynch.com
Andre has designed the Broadway productions of Metamorphoses, I Am My Own Wife and 33 Variations (Drama Desk Award nomination) as well as the world premiere of The Clean House at Yale Repertory and Lincoln Center. Based in Chicago, his work has appeared on most of the city’s stages including Northlight (Shining Lives with Amanda Dehnert), Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court, and Lookingglass where he is an associate artist. He has composed music and designed sound for theaters around the U.S., most frequently at the Oregon and California Shakespeare Festivals, Berkeley Repertory, Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Seattle Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse and Center Theater Group. Choral works include: Winesburg, Ohio,Eastland, Whitman, Undone (with Ben Sussman), and Paris By Night (with Amy Warren).
Production Stage Manager
Katie is pleased to return to Northlight after serving as Assistant Stage Manager on You Can’t Take It With You. Recent credits include Hamilton: An American Musical (Chicago, Rehearsal, Sub ASM); Sorin: A Notre Dame Story (National Tour); Indecent, Lettie (Victory Gardens); The Realistic Joneses (Theater Wit & Shattered Globe); Southern Gothic (Windy City Playhouse); and Mother and Me (Geva Theater Center, Rochester, NY). She’s also served as resident production stage manager from 2008-2018 for over 25 productions at American Theater Company where highlights include the world premieres of Disgraced (Pulitzer Prize) and The Project(s) as well as columbinus which played to audiences in Chicago and Boston (ArtsEmerson). She is on the faculty at Loyola University Chicago and is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.
Northlight’s mission is to remove as many barriers of entry as possible for members of our community to attend our shows. On this page you will find more information on our many accessibility services for Mr. Dickens’ Hat. Visit our Accessibility Page for more information for our whole season.
Mr. Dickens’ Hat Accessibility Services:
Mr. Dickens’ Hat – December 18, 2021, 2:30pm
Mr. Dickens’ Hat – December 18, 2021, 2:30pm
Mr. Dickens’ Hat – December 14, 2021, 7:30pm
To purchase tickets, use the promo code NACCESS by phone 847.673.6300 or online to receive discounted tickets at a flat rate of $40 each (standard fees still apply).
For more information or questions about Captioning, Audio Description, or Relaxed Performances, please contact Ruben Carrazana: 847.324.1615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.