Skip to main content

David Rosenberg

David Rosenberg Public Relations
(773) 505-1429

Strawdog Announces Casting for Holiday Hit Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

CHICAGO (November 5, 2019) — Strawdog Theatre Company is pleased to announce casting for its return engagement of the family-friendly holiday hit HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS, playing December 7–29, 2019, at 1802 W. Berenice Ave. in Chicago’s Northcenter neighborhood.

The cast includes Sarah Bacinich, Brianna Joy Ford, Cohen Kraus, Jack Morsovillo, Josh Pennington and Leo Zhu. Understudies: Jessamyn Fitzpatrick, Caroline Kidwell and Narciso Lobo.

Based on the award-winning book by Eric Kimmel, the family classic features book and adaptation by ensemble member Michael Dailey*, music and lyrics by Jacob Combs, direction by Lauren Katz and music direction by Yair Farkas. Tickets are currently available at The press opening is Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm.

Will Hershel of Ostropol outsmart the goblins who haunt the old synagogue so that villagers can celebrate Hanukkah? In this stage adaptation of the Caldecott Honor-winning book, the story comes to life with music and a little bit of magic for families of all ages to enjoy.

Comments Strawdog Artistic Director Leda Hoffmann, “I’m thrilled to bring back Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins to Strawdog this season. Hershel captures the imagination, joy and theatricality central to Strawdog’s work in a story great for audiences young and old. It is a privilege to bring this well-loved tale to Chicago audiences during the holiday season.”

The production team to date includes Evan Frank (scenic and props design), Elle Erickson (costume design) and Hannah Foerschler (sound design).

*Denotes Strawdog ensemble member

Production Details

Based on the book by Eric Kimmel
Book by/Adapted by ensemble member Michael Dailey*
Music and Lyrics by Jacob Combs
Directed by Lauren Katz
Music Direction by Yair Farkas

Cast (in alphabetical order): Sarah Bacinich (Sara), Brianna Joy Ford (Tina), Cohen Kraus (Sammy), Jack Morsovillo (Hershel), Josh Pennington (Max) and Leo Zhu (Al).

Understudies: Jessamyn Fitzpatrick, Caroline Kidwell and Narciso Lobo.

Location: Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago


  • Previews: Saturday, December 7 at 1 pm & 4 pm and Sunday, December 8 at 10 am
  • Press performance: Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm
  • Regular run: Saturday, December 14–Sunday, December 29

Curtain Times: Saturdays at 1 pm & 4 pm, plus Sunday, December 29 at 10 am & 1 pm.

Tickets: Previews $20 adults, $15 children/seniors. Regular run $25 adults, $20 children/seniors. Family of four discount — 10% off a purchase of four tickets. Group discounts available. Tickets are currently available at Half price rush and student tickets available at every performance and other discounts available. Call (773) 644-1380 for details.

About the Artists

Eric Kimmel (Author) is the author of over 130 books for children, including Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock and the classic Hanukkah tale, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. He is a five-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award and the Sydney Taylor Award for Lifetime Achievement. Dr. Kimmel and his wife Doris live in Portland, Oregon.

Michael Dailey (Book/Adaptation) has appeared as an actor in 24 mainstage productions with the company since joining Strawdog in 1997. Writing credits include three radio plays presented as part of Radio Theatre 7, co-writer on the late night series The Adventures of Picklebot and Lawfer and script editor for Strawdog’s productions of 1001 Afternoons in Chicago, Julius Caesar and Measure for Measure.

Jacob Combs (Music and Lyrics) is a writer, director and composer based in Los Angeles. In addition to last year’s premiere production of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, his previous musical theater projects include Palin! The Musical (music and lyrics), Unraveling (book, music and lyrics), Falling Apart, Coming Together (music and lyrics) and Legends & Lore (book). He is currently writing the book, music and lyrics for the musical Selling Out, which was workshopped at Chicago’s Strawdog Theatre in June 2018. Jacob’s first short film as writer/director, Without, premiered earlier this year, and is currently on the festival circuit, having played at over 15 U.S. and international festivals so far. His short screenplay Messrs. is being produced through the AfterWORK program at Pixar Animation Studios, where Jacob works in the creative development department.

Lauren Katz (Director) is a freelance director, dramaturg and teaching artist. Recent directing projects include: This is a Chair (Haven Theatre), Women of 4G (Babes with Blades Theatre Company), Toni and Marcus: From Village Life to Urban Stress (Illinois Holocaust Museum) and Subjective is Beauty (Prop Thtr). As an assistant director and dramaturg in Chicago, Lauren has worked with various companies including: About Face Theatre, Firebrand Theatre Company, Theater Wit, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater, Redtwist Theatre, Writers Theatre, and Windy City Playhouse. Lauren served as the 2016/2017 Artistic Apprentice at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and as a fellow in the 2018/2019 Directors Inclusion Initiative at Victory Gardens Theatre. As a teaching artist, Lauren works with Lookingglass Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, and Mudlark Theater.

Yair Farkas (Music Director) is a composer and singer from the suburbs of Chicago. He is a graduate of Binghamton University's music program where he studied classical voice, musicology and composition. He has written for professional music ensembles including Contemporaneous and the Grammy-award winning artists of Modern Medieval.

About Strawdog Theatre Company

Since its founding in 1988, Strawdog Theatre Company has offered Chicagoland the premiere storefront theatre experience and garnered numerous Non-Equity Jeff Awards with its commitment to ensemble acting and an immersive design approach. The celebrated Company develops new work, re-imagines the classics, melds music with theatre, asks provocative questions and delivers their audience the unexpected.

Strawdog Theatre Company is supported in part by The Alphawood Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, The MacArthur Funds for Arts & Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce.