Lula Del Ray

Lula Del Ray is performed with overhead projectors, shadow puppets, actors in silhouette, and live music. Told almost entirely sans dialogue, Lula del Ray is the story of a lonely adolescent girl who lives with her mother on the outskirts of a vast satellite array in the middle of the desert. After a chance encounter over the radio, Lula becomes obsessed with a soulful country music duo, the Baden Brothers. Inspired by their music, she runs away from home and into a world of danger, deception, and disappointment.

Set in the mid-century American Southwest and inspired by the music of Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline, Lula del Ray is a mythic reinvention of the classic coming-of-age story.

Lula del Ray was developed at the University of Chicago in the Theater and Performance Studies Program where Manual Cinema served as Ensemble-in-Residence in the Summer and Fall of 2012.

Lula Del Ray premiered in 2012.


Conceived by Julia Miller
Based on original text by Brendan Hill
Designed and Directed by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller
Original Sound Design by Kyle Vegter with Ben Kauffman
Original Score by Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman with Maren Celest, Michael Hilger, and Jacob Winchester
Mask Design by Julia Miller

Original Cast
Puppeteers Lizi Breit, Sarah Fornace (Lula del Ray), Evan Garrett and Julia Miller (Lula’s Mother)
Music Performed by Maren Celest (Live Sound Effects, Vocals), Michael Hilger (Guitar, Percussion, Vocals), Kyle Vegter (Cello, Vocals), and Jacob Winchester (Guitar, Bass)

Additional cast of Lula del Ray includes

Puppetters Drew Dir, Sam Deutsch, Charlotte Long (Lula del Ray), Sara Sawicki (Lula’s Mother), Myra Su
Music Performed by Izzy Olive (Live Sound Effects, Vocals), Eric Streichert (Guitar, Percussion, Vocals), Alex Ellsworth (Cello, Vocals), and Ben Kauffman (Guitar, Bass)


“‘Lula del Ray,’ a Spectral Parade of Fantastical Images”
Ben Brantley, New York Times Critic’s Pick Lula del Ray, Under the Radar Festival, January 2017

“…a haunting and deeply resonating world…”
J.C. Wright, Stage Buddy Lula del Ray, Under the Radar Festival, January 2017

“. . . a talented cast and crew using inventive storytelling techniques elevates this show to being a unique experience that you should not miss.”
Scotty Zacher, Chicago Theatre Beat, 2012

“Manual Cinema presents a far more visually and aurally engaging (and emotionally subtle) exploration of loneliness, femininity, and the iconography of 1950s/1960s Americana”
Jason Prechtel, Gapers Block, 2012

“We’re never less than totally aware of the artisanal craft at work, but somehow the show manages to make a singular case for a very different kind of (mass) cultural experience . . . Cinema becomes a form of empathy—understanding through light.”
Kyle Westphal, Northwest Chicago Film Society, 2012

Photos by Jerry Shulman and Katherine Greenleaf


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The original soundtrack for Lula Del Ray is available here on CD or digital download.