Lookingglass Theatre Company Opens Treasure Island – A Review of a Classic Tale Brought to Life

Clockwise from top- Kasey Foster, Christopher Donahue, Anthony Irons, Ariel Shafir

Mary Zimmerman’s newest show, Treasure Island, based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel of the same name,opened at Chicago’s Tony Award winning Lookingglass Theatre Company to an audience full of awed patrons. From the moment you walk into the space until the moment you leave, everything you see and hear is thrilling. Whether it’s the gorgeously built set, or the extreme talent onstage, Treasure Island will be a sparkling gem to Chicago’s theatre scene for many months to come.


Kasey Foster, Travis DelGado, John Babbo, Lawrence E. DiStaci

The first thing that took my breath away was entering the black box theatre and seeing what seemed like the full deck of a ship. Not only was this playing space able to act as multiple settings, but also it provided a life to an important character to the story, the ship itself. Todd Rosenthal not only made use of the entire playing space Lookingglass has to offer, he also made unique choices that created a big impact. My two personal favorites were the swaying of the set to portray a ship at sea as well as the trap door that was utilized in many different ways throughout the course of the show.

Cast of Treasure Island

Rosenthal’s beautiful set design was matched by Zimmerman’s smartly written book and direction. While being a drama, Treasure Island lends itself well to comedy,  and Zimmerman’s script made sure that that aspect was not lost in her adaptation. Many instances occurred when the audience had a good laugh at a witty line or well played moment, which can be credited to Zimmerman’s clever use of words and actions, every line and movement had its purpose. It was akin to watching a smoothly sailing ship at sea.

Matt DeCaro, Philip R. Smith, Matthew C. Yee

Andrew White, Philip R. Smith and Matt DeCaro

The talent onstage was also breathtaking. Fourteen extremely talents actors and musicians of all ages took the stage and made it theirs. Each member of the cast brought something special to the stage and portrayed their parts with confidence. The two that stood out to me the most, however, were John Babbo as young Jim Hawkins and Lawrence E. DiStasi as the scurvy pirate Captain Long John Silver. Both characters play a large role in the development and action of the story, which requires strong actors and Babbo and DiStasi were the perfect choices. Babbo, at only fourteen, played the role of Hawkins with conviction and took command of the stage full of his older peers. While a bit hard to understand at times, Babbo enthralled the audience with his talent and presence. DiStasi took the part of Long John Silver and made it versatile. At times Silver seemed to be charming and sincere seaman, but when his true colors are revealed as a plotting buccaneer, as the audience, we see DiStasi’s approach shift into the part’s true nature as villain. This takes tremendous effort and talent, both of which DiStasi gives excellently.

John Babbo, Lawrence E. DiStaci

I would highly recommend heading over the Lookingglass Theatre Company to see this truly remarkable piece of theatre before it’s too late. Treasure Island, a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre,runs from October 18, 2015 through January 31, 2016 before it embarks on its next adventure. To buy tickets, visit www.lookingglasstheatre.org or call (312) 337-0665. You won’t want to miss this performance!

Photo Credit: Liz Lauren


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