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Teller Brings Dark Magic to ‘Macbeth’


Dark magic is in the air at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

That’s where the ultimate power-hungry couple, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, invoke the supernatural in their murderous quest to rule Scotland. The show has been co-adapted and co-directed by Teller of the comedic magic duo Penn & Teller. In that role, he is famously silent next to the motormouth Penn Jillette.

In this role, Teller’s partner is Aaron Posner. This is their second collaboration at Chicago Shakespeare – they brought their take on “The Tempest” to the theater in September 2015.

The elaborate show features stage combat, martial drums, eerie sound effects and a heightened role for the three Weird Sisters, the witches whose promising prophecy sets the wannabe king of Scotland on a perilous path. The show is also laced with illusions designed by magician Johnny Thompson – including a blood-soaked Lady Macbeth, an animated disembodied head and disappearing specters. 

  • Aaron Posner, left, and Teller (of Penn & Teller) adapt and direct Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Macbeth.” (Photo by Bill Burlingham)

    Aaron Posner, left, and Teller (of Penn & Teller) adapt and direct Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Macbeth.” (Photo by Bill Burlingham)

  • Lady Macbeth (Chaon Cross) is taunted by the unseen Weird Sisters in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Macbeth.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

    Lady Macbeth (Chaon Cross) is taunted by the unseen Weird Sisters in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Macbeth.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

  • Lady Macbeth (Chaon Cross) and Macbeth (Ian Merrill Peakes) ascend to power, observed by the Weird Sisters in “Macbeth.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

    Lady Macbeth (Chaon Cross) and Macbeth (Ian Merrill Peakes) ascend to power, observed by the Weird Sisters in “Macbeth.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

  • Ian Merrill Peakes as Macbeth. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

    Ian Merrill Peakes as Macbeth. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

  • The cast of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Macbeth.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

    The cast of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Macbeth.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Teller joins us to talk about the power of magic, the origins of being the silent half of Penn & Teller, and his wry view of the backstage superstition of never uttering the name of “the Scottish play.”

Macbeth is on stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater through June 24, 2018. For tickets and more information, visit the theater’s website.


Related stories:

Teller Talks Magic Motives in Shakespeare Theater’s ‘Tempest’

All The World’s a Stage for Chicago Shakespeare’s 2018-19 Season

Brilliant Cast Rocks Buddy Holly Back to Life


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