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  20,000 Leagues Under the Seas at Lookingglass Theatre

20,000 Leagues Under the Seas

Lookingglass Theatre
821 N Michigan Ave Chicago

When a terrifying sea monster is spotted off the coast, renowned scientist Professor Aronnax and fellow explorers set out to investigate. They soon find themselves kidnapped and held under the command, and spell, of the mysterious Captain Nemo. As they circle the globe aboard the most advanced submarine the world has never seen, they confront giant squids, bizarre sea creatures, and the monsters that lurk below...and within.

Thru - Sep 9, 2018

Price: $45-$80

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-337-0665

Running Time: 2hrs, 15mins; one intermission

Lookingglass Theatre Seating Chart

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  20,000 Leagues Under the Seas Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...It's a major piece of Lookingglass art, in all of the classic senses of that description: visually exciting, replete with oodles of different examples of theatrical storytelling, bursting with puppets, rigging, athletic humans, circus feats, intellectual probity and emotional intelligence. It should be a big summer hit for Lookingglass, and truly is a fine addition to the slate of the city's family-friendly shows in the downtown area, ideally timed just as tourists are starting to hit town. And this one is made in Chicago."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Itís when the show wrestles with the more immediate requirements of theatrical creativity that it is most satisfying. When people first climb into the submarine from above, the center of the thrust stage in Todd Rosenthalís oft-ingenious set design starts to rise. We get the sense that we are descending into the submerged part of the vehicle, dubbed Nautilus."
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Steven Oxman

Daily Herald - Highly Recommended

"...Lookingglass' production benefits from strong performances by the principals -- including first-rate character cameos from Thomas J. Cox, Joe Dempsey and Edwin Lee Gibson -- and tireless work by the backstage production assistants and puppeteers who get their own, well-deserved curtain call."
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Barbara Vitello

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Foster, who lavishes aplomb onto a cardboard role, does more narrating than speaking, but if these dull passages from the diary of her underwater voyage are so compelling, why not make actual scenes out of them? Cutting corners saves room for tricks. It's not that puppets of sharks and a giant squid are doomed to be tacky by default, but the clash is palpable: the play's hefty, universalizing scope can't sustain itself on sleights of hand."
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Max Maller

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...This adaptation squarely is about Nemo, who is far more conflicted, outraged and complex than in other portrayals. Ideas of justice, responsibility and morality are raised frequently, along with social roles one may be required to play. Ace Canadian harpooner Ned Lane ( Walter Briggs )-a captive of Nemo's along with Aronnax and Conseil-is a rascal and rule-breaker, so it's interesting to weigh his opposition to rule-breaker Nemo. Is Nemo an archetypal supervillain who wishes to punish the world, or an avatar of a new world order? You decide."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Chicago On the Aisle - Somewhat Recommended

"...For the most part, however, this show smacks of a tourist lure, an easily digested summer entertainment lightly spiced with Lookingglass' stock-in-trade acrobatics, tricked out with a clever bi-level set (by Todd Rosenthal) and given a patina of dramatic effect by Christine Binder's emotive lighting."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...No question, 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas offers Lookingglass a virtual wish list of special effects. But, unlike Moby Dick, the stage pictures delivered by scenic designer Todd Rosenthal, prop designer Amanda Herrmann, circus choreographer Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi, and puppeteers Blair Thomas, Tom Lee and Christ Wooten, feel fragmentary. (Well, to be fair, we never saw the entire white whale or Pequod either.)"
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Lawrence Bommer

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"...David Kersnar directs this voyage with imagery of the deepest seas with modern day creativity; which allows the audience to be more engaging to witness the beauty of flying fish and other creatures 20,000 leagues under the seas. The choreography in the play is marvelous with physical sequences in motion that is fascinating to watch; especially in Act II."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...under David Kersnarís eye, they have done so. Kersnar along with Althos Low has done a new adaptation that has been done as a play and under his direction with the use of a solid creative team brings this glorious story to Michigan Avenue for the summer. FYI- this is a World Premiere!"
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...For all its technical riches, ď20,000 LeaguesĒ contains only a few quidís worth of subtext, a paltry gleaning for the effort and expenditure. Like its oceanic setting, the sheer expanse of the production causes all the treasure therein to be both small by comparison and difficult to locate."
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Kevin Greene

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...The father of the science fiction novel would be pleased at how well his much-loved Victorian story has translated to the 21st century stage. As Jules Verne did with his books, David Kersnar and Althos Low's production taps into the audience's imagination. While Lookingglass' fine theatrical artists provide sights and sounds for the audience to enjoy, Kersnar's production also encourages theatergoers to create some of their own rousing, thought-provoking experiences through their fancy. This is an exceptional theatrical offering that's suitable for audiences of all ages, from middle school age to adult. It's a whale of a tale that's bound to bring new audiences to Jules Verne's classic, and oceans of enjoyment by way of this unique, new voyage."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Recommended

"...Director Kersnar uses all the theater, aisles and stage and hydraulic lift to give the show a sense f movement, but the play remain s talky, especially the first 45 minutes and Nemo's final speech. Still, the puppetry is a hoot in the middle portion of the story and Sully Ratke has created a wardrobe full of authentic period costumes. Christine Binder has designed the atmospheric lighting, and Rick Sims the sound plan. Isaac Schoepp repeats his success with "Moby Dick" as the rigging designed for "20,000 Leagues.""
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Dan Zeff

Third Coast Review - Somewhat Recommended

"...Cleverly, adapter/director David Kersnar transposes a bit of Jules Verne's own Around the World in 80 Days for a framing device-a group of American Civil War prisoners escape their captors in a wayward hot air balloon and crash land at the feet of Captain Nemo's (Kareem Bandealy) beached Nautilus. The novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas is the actual account by which Arronax has been made famous worldwide. The professor's narration allows for a deep dive into the past; in the present an aged Nemo serves as a fatalistic reminder of where the story will end."
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Matthew Nerber

Chicago Theater and Arts - Highly Recommended

"...The cast is excellent but what really ups the story-telling level is Todd Rosenthalís remarkable set, Christine Binderís atmospheric lighting, the fish and giant squid by puppet designers Blair Thomas, Tom Lee and Chris Wooten, Sully Ratkeís costumes, the swimming motions of the cast and their agile rope maneuvers."
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Jodie Jacobs

Chicago On Stage - Recommended

"...Lookingglass Theatre has become renowned over the years for inventive staging of shows, including the use of puppetry. I don't think, though, that they've ever had to tackle a giant squid before. In the adaptation by Steve Pickering (Althos Low) and director David Kersnar of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, though, there was no getting around it: the attack by the monstrous squid is almost as iconic a part of the work as the Nautilus itself and its haunted, driven Captain Nemo. In addition to the puppets, lovely rope work and strong performances help to tell the story of the long journey in the submersible and the adventures encountered along the way. It's a story that is most satisfying in its visually transporting action moments though, like Verne's book itself, it can get a bit sluggish in the spots in between. Then again, I suppose that's what a journey of over 69,000 miles would actually be like, and all of the wonderful action scenes make the whole thing a very entertaining experience."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix - Highly Recommended

"...If you are looking for a rousing adventure story, rich and rugged scenic elements, dynamic performances, imaginative puppetry and high-flying excitement above and below the waterline - or as the script says, "one staggering vision heaped on another" - Lookingglass Theatre Company's 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas is sure to rock your boat!"
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...The story has a playful adventure-like quality to the writing, and the team utilizes puppetry to help bring that element to the surface. To help convey the submarine covering distance, Puppet Designers Blair Thomas, Tom Lee, and Chris Wooten a small puppet performance that occurs throughout towards the back of the stage. Colorful waves rise, and a puppeteer brings on a small submarine that travels amongst them. While the play is at times frightening with the introduction of new sea creatures, the story itself is meant to be an exciting adventure full of wonder, and the puppets help lighten the storytelling."
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Lauren Katz

  20,000 Leagues Under the Seas Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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