About the Festival

Our Mission


Something Marvelous cultivates new works of magical realism and curates a reflective dialogue with the community to examine, broaden, and embolden the genre. Our work uses theatricality to awaken imagination and inspire empathy for new perspectives.


Our History

Something Marvelous is a theatre festival based in Chicago, IL. Each year, we put up a full production, conduct workshops of new plays in collaboration with playwrights, curate a series of special events involving local theatre companies, and lead a dialogue about imagination in the theatre.

A Night of New Works  2014 Talkback

A Night of New Works 2014 Talkback

2013 was our inaugural festival, with three readings, a Night of New Works, and a production of The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl. In 2014, we presented References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot by José Rivera and eight reading series events. The 2015 festival featured six world premieres of ten-minute plays in our Night of New Works, three workshops culminating in staged readings at the Chicago Cultural Center thanks to the DCASE In the Works residency, and four special events geared towards actors, directors, and designers.  2016 brought our first world premiere, Don't Look by Gina Doherty, as well as a continuation of our workshop series and special events. In 2017, we partnered with Chicago Dramatists’ Grafting Project and Randy Steinmeyer to produce the world premiere of Johnny 10 Beers’ Daughter by Dana Lynn Formby. Last year, in 2018, we moved back to the Athenaeum theatre with the midwest premiere of Firefly Love by Alejandro Ricaño, translated by Héctor Garza. For more information, please visit our previous seasons page.

In magical realism we find the transformation of the common and the everyday into the awesome and the unreal. It is predominantly an art of surprises.
— Angel Flores

Something Marvelous is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts

Meet the Team


Emmi Hilger, Artistic Director

Emmi is thrilled to be working with this fantastic team on the seventh year of Something Marvelous after founding the festival in 2013.  For Something Marvelous, Emmi has directed Johnny 10 Beers' Daughter by Dana Lynn Formby, Don't Look by Gina Doherty, References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot by José Rivera, The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl, and the workshop of Koalas by J. Joseph Cox. Recent directing credits also include Wrong Way Journey (Lifeline Theatre), Our Town (Beacon Academy), Bullet with Butterfly Wings (Pegasus Theatre), Piece Her Together (Ensemble Dal Niente), An Almanac for Farmers and Lovers in Mexico (The Jades), Fierce (Three Cat Productions), Bethlehem, PA (20% Theatre Company), Crawling Between Heaven and Earth (Concordia University), and Love in the Time of Bumblehive (Stage Left's Leapfest). Emmi loves Chicago and has worked extensively on new plays.  She is an Associate Artist and Associate Dramaturg with Chicago Dramatists and a proud graduate of Northwestern University.  www.emmihilger.com

Sarah Mayhan, Literary Manager

Sarah is delighted to be part of Something Marvelous for a sixth year, and is proud to see the festival grow! She migrated from Tennessee to study theater and American history at Northwestern University, and stayed to do theater in Chicago. Sarah has acted onstage with companies such as Filament Theater Ensemble, Piccolo Theatre, Redtwist Theatre, & Tympanic Theatre Company, and onscreen with Fake Geek Girl Productions. She teaches ballroom dance to kids, and the Alexander Technique to students of all ages. When not reading plays, Sarah is listening to podcasts.

Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, Casting Director

Cruz was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she fell in love with magical realism at the age of 12, after reading Isabel Allende's La Casa de los Espiritus for a school assignment. She studied theatre, dance and voice in addition to obtaining a BA from the Universidad del Salvador. In her home country she worked as a director, choreographer and drama teacher. Since making Chicago her artistic home she has graduated from the IO Chicago Training Center and has continued her studies in Meisner, On Camera and Scene study. Her Chicago credits include: The Compass (Steppenwolf Theatre), The Grown Up (Shattered Globe),  i put the fear of Mexico in em (Teatro Vista), The life and death of Madam Barker (Red Tape Theatre), Your problem with men (Teatro Luna), El Incas (Colectivo el Pozo), Corazon de Manzana (Mortar Theatre Company) and The Clean House (Something Marvelous). She is an artistic associate with Teatro Vista and passionate about inclusive and diverse casting. 


Allyce Torres, Company Manager

Allyce is an actor, teaching artist, and activist from San Diego, California. She fell in love with Something Marvelous when she played Gabriela in their 2014 production of References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot. Other recent credits include: Tea Flake in Chicago Danztheatre's Xtigone, as well as In Love and Warcraft and Estrella Cruz: The Junkyard Queen both at Halcyon Theatre. Allie is the director of Skin Deep, a theatrical initiative to aid those at risk for and struggling with eating disorders. She is ecstatic to be continuing her work with Something Marvelous.

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Alexandra Landers, Marketing Director

Alex is a social media/creative pro by day, playwright and confirmed horror film addict by night (the rest of the time, too). She earned her B.A. in Film Studies from the University of Illinois, and an M.F.A. in Writing for the Stage and Screen from Florida State University. Her own work for the theater has earned her three semi-finalist nods at the National Playwrights Conference and readings and workshops from NYC to Daytona Beach to Chicago. Alex comes to Something Marvelous with a deep love of magical realism and its ability to make reality magical, while also making magic feel as plain as the nose on your face. Born and raised in the north suburbs of Chicago, Alex has recently taken up residence in the South Loop and spends her spare time blogging about arts criticism (onecriticalbitch.com) and painting portraits of dangerous women in neatly draped clothing (alexandralanders.com). 

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Nicholas James Schwartz, Production Manager

Nick has served as Scenic Designer and Technical Director for Something Marvelous over the past 3 years and is so thrilled that Something Marvelous has become his artistic home. Previous and upcoming works include: Blood at the Root (ECC), The Last Five Years (JPAC), Juneteenth St (ETA Creative arts), Green BookYPF (Pegasus Theatre Company), Memphis, Young Frankenstein (Parkland College), Revolt (Vision Latino Theatre), Shakespeare in Hollywood, Silent Sky, Book of Liz, Christmas Carol, The Tin Woman (Theatre of Western Springs). 

Based in Chicago, IL, Something Marvelous is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Contributions for the charitable purposes of Something Marvelous are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The umbrella in our logo is adapted from an asset courtesy of the Vectorian Free Vector Pack, under a Creative Commons License.

Copyright 2015 © Something Marvelous.