The Ghost in Gadsden's Garden

“You’d be a fool to miss it . . . The entire show is a treat for the eyes and heart from beginning to end.”
– Chicago Reader

The Ghost in Gadsden's Garden

Now playing through March 22
Fridays at 7:30 PM
Saturdays at 4:30 & 7:30 PM
Sundays at 3 PM

Run time: 90 minutes, no intermission. Not recommended for children under 5.

Tickets start at $28 for adults and $18 for kids and students.

Within the walls of an abandoned hilltop estate, the reclusive groundskeeper Gadsden keeps the garden marvelous and lush. He’s happy to, as his love Vivian adores him for it. There’s just one problem: Vivian is a ghost!

When Kid, new to town, accepts a dare to find out what’s really going on at the suspicious old mansion, Kid finds more than anyone could have imagined.

The Actors Gym applies its unique brand of physicalized stage-craft to tell a ghastly tale of garden tending. Join us for an all new spectacularly spectral circus!

INCREDIBLE. Confident, bold, brave, inspiring . . . If you love Scooby Doo, circus, strange flowers (with teeth!), science, and hope, this is the show for you. Most special is Sully Ratke’s intuitive sense of pageantry- glorious, resourceful, intimate, clever, funny, sweet objects that never lose their charm over the course of the production. I could watch the flowers run and giggle all day and night. You should too!
– Frank Maugeri, Chicago Director

Meet the Co-Creators

Chris Mathews

Chris is an Artistic Associate with the Actors Gym and a Company Member with The House Theatre of Chicago, where he regularly writes and performs. He co-wrote Dave DaVince Saves the Universe (Jeff Nomination – New Work), The Sparrow (Jeff Award – New Work), Rose and the Rime, and The Hammer Trinity (The Iron Stag KingThe Crownless KingThe Excelsior King). He also directed The House’s adaptation of Pinocchio last spring.

With the Actors Gym, he wrote and directed Marnie & Phil: a circus love letter, as well as other youth programs. As an actor, he has performed with Lookingglass Theatre, the Actors Gym, and the educational company Barrel of Monkeys, among others.

Chris provides motion capture performance for Chicago-based video game maker Netherrealm Studios in the MORTAL KOMBAT and INJUSTICE franchise titles (Johnny Cage, Batman, respectively).

Sully Ratke

Sully Ratke is a Chicago-based theatre artist and an artistic associate of The Lookingglass Theatre Company and The Actors Gymnasium. It is her delight to create for the winter circus and the community at the gym!

She is most interested in spectacular physical theatre and in telling good stories. She hopes THIS story might help to recognize relationships that feed us as opposed to those that feed ON us!

Sully’s work has been seen throughout Chicago at theatres such as Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Drury Lane, and the Marriott, and across the country at theatres such as The Arena Stage, The McCarter Theatre Center, the Alliance Theater, and The South Coast Repertory Theatre. She teaches collegiate design in Chicago, and is at her best when she is making.


Lucy Carapetyan

Lucy began as a student at Actors Gym in 2003, eventually teaching, performing, and then joining the staff in 2015 as the Special Events Manager. As an actor and physical theatre performer she’s worked around town with Steppenwolf, Steep (where she’s an ensemble member), Northlight, The House, Lifeline, Griffin, Raven, and many others. With a particular fondness for new work, she has devised a number of literary adaptations, and worked on several world premiere productions. She’s served as a motion capture actor for Injustice and Mortal Kombat video games. TV credits include Chicago Fire, Proven Innocent, and the upcoming 4th season of Fargo. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and represented by Paonessa Talent.

Adrian Danzig

For 15 years Adrian was Producing Artistic Director of 500 Clown, a Chicago-based Clown Theater ensemble that toured nationally. He performed the shows in the 500 Clown touring repertoire: 500 Clown Macbeth, 500 Clown Frankenstein, 500 Clown Christmas, and 500 Clown Trapped. More recently he performed in Citadel Theatre’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher, as a Dancer / Actor / Clown, with Lucky Plush Productions The Better Half, and in The House Theatre’s A Comedical History for Mr. Punch, he played both Antipholi, in California Shakespeare Festival’s production of A Comedy of Errors, Caliban in The Feast: an Intimate Tempest at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Medvedenko in The Seagull at Lake Lucille Chekov, Orlando at The Court Theater. In addition he has performed in shows at The Goodman theatre, The Second City, Steppenwolf Studio, Berkeley Rep, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Public Theater, and with Shakespeare & Company and Lookingglass Theatre Company. He has performed his solo works at The Kitchen, P.S. 122, The Ontological Hysteric Theater and Soho Rep. He was an early Neo-futurist and a founding member of Redmoon Theater. He has studied clown with Ctibor Turba, Philippe Gaulier, Ronlin Foreman, Dominique Jando, Els Comediants, David Shiner, Avner the Eccentric and was a clown with Big Apple Circus Clown Care for 7 years.
As a teacher, in addition to hundreds of workshops and master classes around the country and internationally, He was on Faculty at The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University for 7 years where he taught Movement, Acting, Comedy, Circus Arts, and directed devised works. He has created 500 Clown based workshops for doctors, business schools, hotel employees, division 2 athletes, incarcerated youth and Chicago based performers, social workers and other interested types.

Hayley Larson

Hayley is a multidisciplinary circus performer specializing in aerial arts. With a degree in Dance from Oberlin College, Hayley uses her background as a dancer to bring a crisp, complex style to her choreography that underscores the commanding stage presence so often found in her performances. Currently, Hayley is a member of Aloft Circus Arts’ touring ensemble show Brave Space and is excited to be working closely with The Actors Gymnasium for the first time in The Ghost in Gadsden’s Garden! When not flying through the air herself, she can be found coaching and creating throughout the Midwest, or snuggling with a cat on the couch.

Teen Ensemble

Audrey B., Emerson C., Ella G.W., Donovan G., Ruby G., Matias K., Rebekah L., Maya M., Esther O.M., Grace S., Sadie S., and Jude S.

Creative Team

Co-Writer/Director: Chris Mathews
Co-Writer/Director: Sully Ratke
Circus Choreographer: Sylvia Hernandez Distasi
Dance Choreographer: Kasey Foster
Artistic Consultant: Lindsey Noel Whiting
Stage Manager: Beth Koehler
Production Manager: Catherine Allen
Rigging Designer: Isaac Schoepp
Costume Designer: Sully Ratke
Lighting Designer: Alex Ridgers
Sound Designer: Kevin O’Donnell
Set Dressing and Props: Craftiga Crafts

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