Over My Dead Body;
Or, How to Distribute Generational Wealth
The Athenaeum Center for Thought & Culture
2nd Floor, Black Box Studio B
2936 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Evenings: Thursday - Saturday @ 8pm
Matinees: Saturday @ 2pm & Sunday @ 3pm
Th 11/3 thru 11/6
Th 11/10 thru 11/13
Th 11/17 thru11/20
Th 12/1 thru 12/4
Directed by Antonio Fava
Devised, written, and improvised by the cast
Music composed by Antonio Fava
Synopsis & Setting
Tomorrow is the wedding of Flaminia and Fulgenzio, but that can wait - today is Pantalone’s birthday. His family and friends plan a surprise to celebrate, only Pantalone mistakes their actions as a plot to kill him! He decides to fake his own death and leave everything to himself... but his family and friends have other ideas. Hijinks ensue, lovers quarrel and reconcile, and strangers wander into the sitting room but it all ends happily ever after.
Chicago, Italy "1622"
In Order of Appearance
Dottore Graziano ............Andy Huttel
Flaminia ...................Helena Scholz-Carlson
Fulgenzio / Capitano Fracasso………………………. Martin Downs*
Zanetta ……………...... Shea Lee*
Signora Rosaura / Lady Death .......................Jordan Scherer
Pedrolino ………………… Jeffrey Rubin*
Smeraldina ……………... Jennifer Mohr*
Pantalone ……….. Claire Proepper*
*Denotes Ensemble Member
È pura Commedia dell’Arte.
Quella classica, che in pieno Rinascimento inventa il professionismo e il teatro moderni.
Cinque secoli di continuità ed è ancora viva, vivace, vitale.
Dirigere la Compagnia Laughing Stock è un piacere corrispondente alla natura stessa della Commedia: il dinamismo.
La comicità è diretta e non è ‘gentile’, è semmai cruda, dura.
Con OVER MY BODY; OR HOW TO DISTRIBUTE GENERATIONAL WEALTH, siamo nel gran classico dell’imbroglio ripetuto, insistito, per ottenere qualcosa, che per i personaggi in atto è importante. Nessuno è cattivo, ma sono tutti presi dalla necessità impellente di non perdere qualcosa che si ritiene proprio.
L’intrigo attorno al testamento del “morto”, Pantalone che si finge tale, fa scatenare la caccia alla ricchezza del vecchio.
C’è un riferimento storico all’Inferno di Dante, al canto XXX dedicato ai falsari, dove appare Gianni Schicchi, poi immortalato nel capolavoro di Puccini.
Nel ricordo dei due grandi, abbiamo comunque fatto altro, una commedia originale, atemporale, e tuttavia concretamente umana. In Commedia non c’è la lotta fra il Bene e il Male, c’è invece la lotta per la sopravvivenza, tra persone, che per motivi diversi è nell’urgenza di un un problema, che dia d’amore, di denaro, di stomaco, o di paura.
Gente normale insomma. Di quella normalità spettacolare che sorge dalla ‘maschera’, che in Commedia è il personaggio tutt’intero.
Lo scopo è quello di far passere due ore gradevoli al pubblico. È da cinque secoli che la Commedia lo fa.
It is pure Commedia dell’Arte.
The classic one, which in the middle of the Renaissance invented modern professionalism and theater.
Five centuries of continuity and it is still alive, lively, vital.
Directing the Laughing Stock Company is a pleasure corresponding to the very nature of the Comedy: dynamism.
The comedy is direct and is not "gentle", if anything, it is raw, harsh.
With OVER MY BODY; OR HOW TO DISTRIBUTE GENERATIONAL WEALTH, we are in the great classic of repeated, insistent cheating to get something that is important for the characters in action. No one is bad, but they are all gripped by the urgent need to not lose something that, they believe, is their own.
The intrigue around the will of the "dead", Pantalone, pretending to be such, triggers the hunt for the old man's wealth.
There is a historical reference to Dante's Inferno, to canto XXX, dedicated to counterfeiters, where Gianni Schicchi appears, later immortalized in Puccini's masterpiece.
In memory of the two greats, however, we did something else, an original, timeless, yet concretely human comedy. In Comedy there is no struggle between Good and Evil, there is instead the struggle for survival, between people, who for different reasons are in the urgency of a problem, which gives love, money, hunger, or fear.
In short, normal people. Of the spectacular version of normality that arises from the "mask", in which Comedy is the whole character.
The aim is to make the public spend two pleasant hours. The Comedy has been doing this for five centuries.
Asterisk denotes LST Ensemble Member
Claire Hart Proepper* (She/Her)
Pantalone, Scenic Designer, Artistic Director
Claire is a founding member of LST and is so thankful for the opportunity to work with Maestro Antonio Fava on this project. Select Commedia performance credits include: Signora Rosaura in The Masquerade; Or, Love is Queer to Stay, Colombina and Isabella in BirdCoin; Or, The One Where They Learn To Respect Women (Laughing Stock Theatre), Colombina in At Your Service: Commedia dell’Arte (Bristol Renaissance Faire), Rosaura in The Venetian Twins (Piccolo Theatre). Claire received her theatre and history degrees from the University of Virginia and completed Antonio Fava's Stage Internazionale di Commedia Dell'Arte. She sends her love to her family, friends, and her ever-supportive husband, Kurt.
Jeffrey "JR" Rubin* (He/Him)
JR is beyond excited to be returning in another Laughing Stock Theatre production. Previous credits with the company include Pedrolino (The Masquerade), Pantalone (Dottore's Lab), and Pantalone (Birdcoin, the first production). Other favorite roles: Proteus (Two Gentlemen of Verona), Peter (Diary of Anne Frank), and Giovanni Risata (At Your Service! Commedia dell 'Arte). He thanks his family for their support, and especially his Dad who always encouraged him to follow his artistic dreams.
Jennifer Mohr* (She/Her)
Smeraldina, Costume Designer
Jennifer is so excited to be returning to the stage with Laughing Stock. She was most recently seen as Lysimacha in Upon This Shore: A Tale of Pericles and the Daughters of Tyre with Idle Muse Theatre. Jennifer has spent the last five years as a teaching artist and performing with various theatres in Chicago including First Folio, Birch House Immersive, Babes with Blades, Artemisia, Idle Muse, and Midsommer Flight. She is a proud ensemble member with Laughing Stock Theatre! So many thanks to her friends and family for their constant support.
Martin Downs* (He/Him)
Leandro, Education Director
Like many actors, Martin first heard the term "Commedia dell'Arte" in a high school theater history class. He began to study it in earnest in 2013, as Company Manager and Artistic Director of "The Panini Players" at Northwestern University, He branched out to the Commedia troupe "At Your Service" at the Bristol Ren Faire from 2016-2018. He was one of the founding members of Laughing Stock Theatre in 2019, and traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy that summer to study with Antonio Fava. After directing and performing in numerous Laughing Stock shows, he returned to Reggio Emilia for Fava's Advanced Class in August 2022. And yet somehow, there is still so much more to learn! Other theatre credits include "Mama's Boy," Hope & Gravity," and "Venus in Fur".
Shea Lee* (She/Her)
Zanetta, Propsmaster, Company Manager
Shea Lee is the Company Manager of Laughing Stock Theatre. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where her focuses included musical theatre, theatre for young audiences, and Asian American studies. Favorite credits include Giggle Giggle Quack (Lifeline Theatre national tour), Mr. Kotomoto is Definitely Not White (NoMads Art Collective), The Masquerade; or, Love is Queer to Stay (Laughing Stock Theatre), and most recently, The Conductors (Kerfuffle TVY). Shea is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.
Andy Huttel (He/Him)
In lieu of talking about himself, Andy would like to share this brownie recipe: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, quarter teaspoon of salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove brownies from the oven, and make frosting. Combine 3 tablespoons softened butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Stir until smooth. Frost brownies while they are still warm.
Helena Scholz-Carlson (She/Her)
Helena performed Commedia for the first time this summer in Laughing Stock’s BirdCoin; or, the one where they learn to respect women and is delighted to be returning! She is an Evanston-based actor, playwright, and artist. She graduated from Northwestern University where she studied theatre, with a focus on playwriting. At NU she directed Macbeth and appeared as Vivian Bearing in W;t, Romeo in R&J, and Laura in Tea & Sympathy. Helena also studied classical performance at the Great River Shakespeare Festival.
Jordan Scherer (She/Her)
Jordan Scherer is thrilled to be returning to Commedia for her debut performance with Laughing Stock. A Northwestern graduate, she balances dueling passions for science and theatre. You can also watch her explain science with more costume changes than math as Bad Astra on YouTube. Jordan would like to thank her supportive wife Rebecca and the best puppy ever, Ceci.
Artistic and Production Credits
With a Special Thank You to Our Elite Sponsors
The Quick Family
Jeff & Dara Hart
Marie B. Curry & Brant T. Lee
Gina Maravola, Arrow Schulman, Mary Beth Mikrut, Kara Nyhan
Robert Irving Potter III, Doug Segal and Panoramic Images, Matt Spiekhout, The Edge Theatre, The Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago, The Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture, Northwestern University and Chris Wych, Albany Park Theatre Project, Trina McGee, The Towle Theater, Ethan Avina, Steven Townshend and Distant Era Photography, Kurt Proepper
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Laughing Stock Theatre creates and performs substantive, high-quality Commedia dell’Arte that spectacularizes the mundane and delights our audiences.
LAUGHING STOCK THEATRE is an LLC officially operating as a for-profit business, however our guiding principal is providing financially accessible Commedia dell’Arte. We operate our performances on an entirely Pay-What-You-Can model.