OFFBEAT: Animal instincts and romance bloom in wonderful 'Chapatti'

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-03-17T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Animal instincts and romance bloom in wonderful 'Chapatti'By Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

There are many, some who are dubbed as romanticists, who believe in destiny.

But despite anyone's school of thought on the subject, the old adage still holds true for all: "If you want to make God laugh, tell of your plans."

The above ideas are the ideal stage starting line for a wonderful, warm and inviting tale of love, devotion and life's unexpected moments that change the course of one's destiny.

Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, has the World Premiere new 90-minute no intermission moving production "Chapatti," a new work developed through Northlight's Interplay program.

"Chapatti," by acclaimed Irish playwright Christian O' Reilly, is directed by Jones and features actor John Mahoney paired with the inviting, infectious smile and talent of actress Penny Slusher for this two-person performance, bathed in details and descriptions that allow the audience's imagination to run wild with escape and abandonment.

Playing at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie, now until April 13, "Chapatti" explores the possibilities of whether "a dog person" and "a cat person" are compatible, among other life qualities and personal decisions that impact others.

Set in Dublin, a loner named Dan and his dog Chapatti cross paths with happy-go-lucky Betty (played by Slusher), who is the neighborhood's "cat lady" because of the 19 cats she share her quaint cottage with, as her loving companions and an unconditional warm welcome after working day-after-day as a caregiver for ornery elderly woman. It's an unexpected bond that unites Dan and Betty, two wistful souls for this neatly woven yarn of beautiful sentiment for all to learn from about appreciation of life's many gifts.

Mahoney, at age 73 and of TV's "Frazier" fame, is both strong and vulnerable in his role, with moments of raw emotion blended with a bittersweet humor. Slusher is an entertaining and emotional ball-of-fire as an actress who has the rare gift that allows the audience to see the stage story through her wide eyes of enlightenment.

The creative team includes Jack Magaw's simple, yet effective set design, carefully created to not distract from the tale. Rachel Laritz's costume design adds an important and effectively envisioned plot element. JR Lederle offers the lighting design paired with Denis Clohessy as the composer and sound design (including some wonderful kitten mewing) to move the story along with a brilliantly brisk pace. Add to all of this Jone's thoughtful direction with Sarah Burnham's carefully selected props assisted by Amanda Hermann and Brigid Duffy as dialect coach, and this is stage experience that touches heart, soul and imagination.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays (except March 18, 25 and April 8) 1 p.m. Wednesdays (except March 26) along with 7:30 p.m. (except April 2) Wednesday night performances, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sundays (except March 23 and April 13).

Tickets are $25-$75 with student tickets at $15 for any performance. FYI: (847) 673-6300 or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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