'Moby Dick' says 'Call me Ishmael', a festival in Evanston, and 'Faust' as dance

September 15, 2011

Kelly Kleiman

Sometimes the hardest shows to get to are the ones you know will be running for a while. You think, "Oh, I'll get to that--there's plenty of time," and then it's gone. Lest this happen to you, as a public service OnstageBackstage urges you to go now to see Lee Blessing's A Walk in the Woods, presented by TimeLine at Theatre Wit on Belmont. If a meeting between two nuclear arms negotiators--one that actually took place--sounds dull to you, you haven't yet had a chance to see David Parkes and Janet Ulrich Brooks make talking about throw-weight into a form of foreplay. The play was written for two men but having seen it with Brooks as the hoping-against-hope Russian negotiator I can't imagine it any other way. And Mike Tutaj's projections make the titular woods seem both real and fragile as these two bureaucrats try to keep the world from blowing up. Wednesday through Sunday, tickets $34-44 and worth every penny.

Or, if the crisp fall weather has you wanting to take a walk of your own, join Redmoon Theatre tonight (Thursday) for its end-of-summer spectacle and celebration of Mexican Independence Day in Pilsen. Alongside Buen Provecho!, a moveable feast at more than two dozen restaurants along 18th Street, the Redmoon folk will do something involving puppets, projections and fire. Buen Provecho! runs from 5:30 to 9:30 and costs $25 for stops at all the restaurants. The Redmoon show runs from 8:00 to 9:30 and is free. 18th Street between Ashland and Damen. 

And, if you're the kind who lets your weekend slop over into the following week, consider spending Monday evening at the opening of Moby Dick at the Building Stage--cheekily advertised as "For a good time call me Ishmael." I saw this adaptation of Melville's work the first time the company did it, and marveled at the urgency and physicality of a production based on one of the most notorious slogs in American literature. Especially if you've never been able to finish the book, see this show--it'll send you back to the library with renewed energy. Through October 30 at the Building Stage in the darkest West Loop. Tickets $22, $12 for students.

Laura Molzahn

Mephistopheles is a babe in TheMASSIVE’s remount of Faust, by artistic director Kyle Vincent Terry, who promises “a show as wicked as it is righteous.” Created in 2006 for Chicago Dance Crash, this timely piece on trading your soul for worldly goods has been revamped to include input from C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Lettersas well as Goethe. Opening Friday and running through October 9 at Stage 773.

When Winifred Haun created Bento, she had in mind Joseph Cornell and Japanese box lunches: her choreography frames dance snippets by others, including the legendary Randy Duncan and up-and-comer Autumn Eckman. Though Haun says she’s tried to quit dance more than once, she can’t stay away—and in fact turns impresario this weekend. She’s bringing in Madison-based Kanopy Dance and 68-year-old Kabuki-trained artist Lonny Joseph Gordon to perform Friday and Saturday with Winifred Haun & Dancers at Ruth Page.

Take a danced tour with NoMi LaMad, presenting five works from five seasons. Artistic directors Laura Kariotis and Madeline J. Renwick collaborated on Saucy & Suite, a set of ballroom dances, and Last Word, featuring the dancers on pointe. Other works are by newbie Robert J. Priore, bang-up dancer Lizzie McKenzie (formerly of River North and Giordano Jazz Dance), and Kariotis, who contributes the fabric-laden What a Tangled Web…

Jonathan Abarbanel

S’ok, there’s, like, 20 shows opening in six days. How can you decide what to see? So, don’t decide. Instead, see a little bit of everything. Well, maybe not everything; but folks living in or near Evanston can sample 17 performing arts companies this Sunday (Sept. 18) at the second Backstage Evanston festival, 3:30PM-7PM at the Ethel M. Barber Theatre on the Northwestern University campus. Actors Gymnasium, Evanston Dance Ensemble, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Lakeshore Singers, Light Opera Works, Next Theatre, Piccolo Theatre, Piven Theatre and Theatre Zarko are some of the troupes which will strut some of their stuff. Parking is free and so are hors d’ouevres. Backstage Evanston tickets are $20 but come with a $20 voucher good towards tickets at any of the participating groups. Tickets/info: 847/448-8260.

Meanwhile, Curious Theatre Branch has been leading Chicago’s institutionalized avant-garde for 15 years now and shows no signs of going derriere any time soon. And why should they as long as they continue to be offered spotlight opportunities such as the MCA Stage? It’s there, this weekend only (Thursday-Saturday) that Curious offers its newest performance piece, Still in Play: A Performance of Getting Ready, a work created out of the flotsam and jetsam of backstage preparations for a show. The MCA Stage is, as cognoscenti know, the theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown.