The Don't-Miss List: Second City on Chicago History, Twyla Tharp and an 'Opus'

January 5, 2012

Kelly Kleiman

Starting tonight (Thursday the 5th), the Gift Theatre will present Ten, a collection of ten ten-minute plays written to celebrate the theater's tenth anniversary by no-slouch playwrights including David Rabe, Eric Bogosian and Stephen Adly Guirgis (whose shows Streamers, Talk Radio and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, respectively, the company has done in the course of its history). These performances are free to Gift Theatre subscribers, and (if there are any left over) to anyone else who can manage to score tickets by calling the theater at (773) 283-7071. The catch: there will only be guess-how-many performances, so hustle! Thursdays and Fridays 7:30 P.M., Saturdays at 4:00 P.M. and 7:30 P.M and Sundays at 2:30 PM., this weekend and next. (Editor's Note: Jonathan agrees! See his thoughts below.)

And The Second City's History of Chicago is at UP, its new comedy club, offering two performances this weekend: matinees Saturday the 7th and Sunday the 8th. The show, developed with the assistance of the Chicago History Museum, should be a fine in-joke for Chicagoans, and is rated PG--suitable for those 13 [and UP]. Tickets $30-$35.

Laura Molzahn

Fans of Twyla Tharp have caught her Ol’ Blue Eyes choreography long before now, thanks mostly to Hubbard Street—the first company (besides her own) she allowed to perform her 1982 Nine Sinatra Songs, beginning in 1992. Since then, having been set on an additional 25 troupes, it’s become something of a franchise, a franchise she expanded in 2010 with the full-length Sinatra dance-musical Come Fly Away. So, is it a capitalist expansion—or the continuation of a genuine love affair? The national tour of Tharp’s most recent Broadway show, now reportedly shorter by a half hour, arrives in Chicago Tuesday for a 12-day run at the Bank of America Theatre. 

Generation Bitch”: love the title. Its three young female choreographers, including Minneapolitan April Sellers, are all from Minnesota. But really, being a bitch is kind of an equal opportunity situation, geographically speaking. At any rate, these artists are questioning traditional gender roles—sometimes in what will at least sound like a bowling alley, thanks to a live drummer. Sellers describes her Instructions to a Fancy Pack as “a bowling team taking a lane, then developing into a showgirl piece.” Friday through Sunday at Link’s Hall. 

Jonathan Abarbanel

For the first full weekend of 2012, theater smarty-pants should head for the tiny Gift Theatre in Jefferson Park (stash the car; take the Blue Line or a Lawrence, Foster or Milwaukee bus) for Ten: A World Premiere. In honor of its 10th anniversary (already? My goodness!), the troupe has commissioned 10 short plays by the likes of David Rabe, Eric Bogosian, Craig Wright and Stephen Adly Guirgis (plus several top Chicago authors) which it will offer in 10 performances only (through Jan. 15). What's more, all 10 shows are FREE! But remember: the Gift has only about 40 seats, so you'd better call and reserve your place at the table for Ten: A World Premiere.

For those who enjoy squeezing their booties into tight spaces in order to see top-notch theater, there's also Opus at another 40-seat storefront, the Redtwist Theatre in Edgewater. Michael Hollinger's play is slightly predictable and perhaps a bit too glib as it tells the tale of a renowned string quartet on the verge of melt-down, even as it performs at the White House; but the play is witty, the in-your-face acting is pitch-perfect and Hollinger has a knack for making the abstractions of music real. Opus is playing through Jan. 29.

Correction: A previous version of this post stated that The Second City's History of Chicago would be closing on Wednesday the 11th; in actuality, the show has an open run.