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Filament Theatre Ensemble to Warm New Home with 'The Snow Queen'

  "The Snow Queen" will be The Filament Theatre Ensemble’s first mainstage production at Six Corners.
Filament Theatre Ensemble
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PORTAGE PARK — “The Snow Queen” is on her way to Portage Park.

A re-imagining of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale will be The Filament Theatre Ensemble’s first mainstage production in its new Six Corners home.

Although the folk art troupe has been putting on smaller shows in its new home at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave. since it moved in more than a year ago, “The Snow Queen” will be the first major production for the 6-year-old, formerly itinerant ensemble.

The family-friendly play was the perfect pick for the first production at the Filament’s new — and unfinished — home, said Filament Theatre Ensemble Managing Director Christian Libonati.

“We chose it because it is playful and it needed lots of puppets and theater magic,” Libonati said.

The production will be directed by Massachusetts-based American Repertory Theater Resident Director Allegra Libonati, Christian Libonati’s sister.

“We really think everyone will enjoy it,” Christian Libonati said.

Andersen’s fairy tale tells the story of a young girl who must travel to the end of the world to save her best friend after being lured to the palace of the wicked Snow Queen.

The centuries-old story has been enjoying a moment in the pop-culture sun this winter as the basis of Disney’s blockbuster movie “Frozen.”

The Filament production will use the script and some of the original puppet designs created by Allegra Libonati and playwright Taylor Monroe three years ago, but the production will be reimagined for Filament’s unique space and cast, Christian Libonati said.

Filament's 2014 acting company includes actors Lindsey Dorcus, Nathan Drackett, Christian Libonati, Molly Bunder, Mara Dale and Andrew Marchetti.

In addition, the ensemble’s new upstairs neighbors Inside Out Art Studio will create masks for the production, Christian Libonati said.

“We’re thrilled to be on our way to creating this thriving theater world in Portage Park,” Christian Libonati said.

While putting the finishing touches on the production, the ensemble is also working to raise $25,000 to complete its performance space, which was a long-vacant furniture warehouse.

“It is a completely different space than any other theater,” Libonati said, adding that the ensemble plans to transform it from a black box theater to a cabaret to a theater resembling an ancient Greek or Roman stage from one production to the next.

John Morris, the architect who designed the Lookingglass Theatre and the Old Town School of Music, is working to retrofit the theater with the systems necessary to “build amazing artistic experiences,” according to the group.

The group received a $50,000 Small Business Improvement Fund Grant from the city of Chicago to cover part of the renovations, but must come up $25,000 to cover the rest of the $75,000 price tag, Christian Libonati said.

The money raised will be used to build the theater’s floor and lighting grid and to update the electrical, heating and cooling systems, restrooms and rehearsal rooms.

The group has already raised about $9,000 of the $25,000 it needs. Any additional money will be used to add on administrative offices, green space and to spruce up the lobby, according to its website.

The group hopes the theater will become a community hub in the Six Corners Shopping District, a desire shared by Ald. John Arena (45th), who has been working to turn the area around Milwaukee Avenue, Cicero Avenue and Irving Park Boulevard, which has struggled for decades, into an arts and entertainment district.

Performances of “The Snow Queen” begin Jan. 19 and run through Feb. 9. Shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 3 p.m. Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays, with a special performance at 5 p.m. Feb. 9.

Tickets are $20, and are available online, at the theater, or at City Newsstand, 4018 N. Cicero Ave.