World Premiere

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.

at Northlight Theatre
9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL 60077

“Exceedingly clever! A superb world premiere, ingenious direction, an immensely wise and witty new show.”


A Tip of the Hat to ‘Mr. Dickens’ Hat’ and Its Beguiling Twist on Charles Dickens’ Legacy

Chicago Sun-Times
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.

Read the full review

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.

Read the full review



Christine Bunuan

Cordelia Dewdney

Cordelia Dewdney is overjoyed to be back onstage and making her Northlight debut. Chicago credits include Moby DickHard 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

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

Nick Sandys

Nick Sandys is delighted to return to Northlight, having previously appeared in Mr. Dickens’ HatDr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and Pride & Prejudice, and choreographed combat for several other productions. Other local on-stage appearances include: Frankenstein, Pygmalion, An Inspector Calls, The Chimes, The Goat, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Real Thing (Remy Bumppo); Jeeves IntervenesCaptain Blood, A Turn Of The Screw, Twelfth Night, Blithe Spirit, Much Ado About Nothing (First Folio); The Tempest (Notre Dame Shakespeare); The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes (Mercury Theatre); plus productions at Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass, and Light Opera Works, as well as regionally and Off Broadway. Nick has received some 22 Joseph Jefferson Nominations for acting, directing, fight directing, and producing, as well as a 2018 APA Audie Nomination for his audiobook narration of Dracula, and a 2011 Achievement Award from The Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts.

Production Team

Katie Klemme

Production Stage Manager

KATIE KLEMME is pleased to return to Northlight where her credits include Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley, Intimate Apparel, Mr. Dickens’ Hat, The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, Landladies, and You Can’t Take It With You. Recent credits include Villette (Lookingglass), Tiger Style!, Wife of a Salesman, and Into the Woods (Writers); Mamma Mia! and Much Ado About Nothing (Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival), Hamilton: An American Musical (Chicago, Sub); Sorin: A Notre Dame Story (National Tour); If I Forget, Indecent (Victory Gardens); Mr. Burns, The Realistic Joneses, others (Theater Wit); Mother and Me (Geva Theater Center, Rochester, NY). She was resident production stage manager at American Theater Company from 2008-2018 where highlights included the world premieres of Disgraced (Pulitzer Prize), The Project(s), and columbinus (Chicago and ArtsEmerson, Boston). She is on the faculty at Loyola University Chicago and is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.

Michael Hollinger


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


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, IcarusHer 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 PrinceBlack Diamond (co-director), Metamorphosis, and West. Lookingglass acting credits include: Hard Times, The Arabian NightsOur TownArgonautika, La Luna MudaThe Odyssey, and The Jungle. David is an Artistic Associate with Actors Gymnasium and serves on the acting faculty at Northwestern University.

Chuck Larkin

Music Director

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).

William Boles

Scenic Design

Sully Ratke

Costume Design

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 Lynch

Lighting Design

Andre Pluess

Sound Design

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).

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

Sensory Guide for Mr. Dickens’ Hat


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