WBEZ | 500 Clown http://www.wbez.org/tags/500-clown Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Lucky Plush's 'The Better Half' at the MCA canceled tonight, running Saturday http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-28/lucky-plushs-better-half-mca-canceled-tonight-running-saturday-9358 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-28/Lucky Plush.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-28/luckyplush.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px; " title=""></p><p>Adrian Danzig, a member of 500 Clown playing in Lucky Plush's <em>The Better Half</em>, was injured last night, and the show has been canceled tonight, Friday. It will run tomorrow night, with <strike>an understudy</strike> Plasticene founding member Brian Shaw in Danzig's role, and <a href="http://mcachicago.org/performances/now/all/2011/740">then again November 3-6</a>. <em>The Better Half</em>, a take on the 1994 film <em>Gaslight</em>, was co-created and -directed by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (Adrian's .... mmm, better half) and LP's Julia Rhoads.</p><p>Whether Danzig or <strike>the unnamed understudy</strike> Shaw will perform next weekend is still uncertain. Don't worry: Danzig's injury doesn't involve the tons of gore sometimes associated with 500 Clown shows.</p></p> Fri, 28 Oct 2011 19:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-28/lucky-plushs-better-half-mca-canceled-tonight-running-saturday-9358 Critics theater picks for 6/30-7/3 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-30/critics-theater-picks-for-630-73 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-30/Lucky Plush.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at: 2:45pm on 6/30/11 - Now with Jonathan Abarbanel!</em></p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-30/womenarecrazy.jpg" style="width: 232px; height: 300px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title="">Start the weekend right by listening to the Dueling Critics as Jonathan and I debate David Henry Hwang's <em>Chinglish</em>, the latest missile being guided from the Goodman to Broadway. Is the show more or less true to the Asian-American experience than the production of Hwang's <em>Yellow Face</em> now running at the culturally specific Silk Road Theatre Project? Can a pair of highly diverse Jewish theater critics (he's Sephardic and I'm Ashkenazi) accurately assess that kind of authenticity? Is "authenticity" even relevant anymore? Listen and decide whether <em>Chinglish </em>measures up to Chicago standards or whether it's only good enough for New York.<br> <br> We're on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight">848 </a>between 9 and 10 a.m. tomorrow (Friday), or you'll find the recorded segment posted shortly thereafter on the 848 page of this site. Catch us now or dig us later.<br> <br> This weekend only, another out-of-town tryout: live from L.A., the superbly-named <strong><a href="http://www.mercurytheaterchicago.com/"><em>Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes</em></a></strong>. I haven't seen it because it only opened its five-performance run last night; but if you're up for gender-role comedy check it out at 6 o'clock on Saturday, when tickets are only $19. At the Mercury on Southport in Lakeview.&nbsp;<br> <br> And finally, on Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. join a cast of 100 or so of the city's top actors, directors, playwrights and designers--and, for some reason, me--as we <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-29/daily-rehearsal-start-planning-your-4th-july-88498">read the <strong>Declaration of Independence</strong></a> from the stage of the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. That's right: no fireworks on the Third of July, just the reading with Grant Park Concert to follow. Think of it this way: no fireworks means no nightmare crowds means plenty of room for you to see and hear and remember what the whole thing's supposed to be about. Free.<br> <br> And a Glorious Fourth to all.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-30/Lucky Plush.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 267px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="Lucky Plush/500 Clown in 'The Better Half'">Catch two of Chicago’s funniest groups in a free preview tonight, Thursday. <a href="http://www.luckyplush.com/">Lucky Plush Productions</a> and members of <a href="http://www.500clown.com/">500 Clown</a> are putting their heads together to create <strong><em>The Better Half</em></strong>, a take-off on Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play <em>Gaslight</em>, produced on Broadway in 1941 (under the title <em>Angel Street</em>) and made into a film in 1944. Set in 1880, this melodrama involves a husband who schemes to convince his wife she’s mad—but Lucky Plush and 500 Clown are playing it anything but straight. A preview I saw in April had people on the floor. The finished product is scheduled to open at the MCA in October, but you can get a glimpse of the creative process at a one-night-only work-in-progress showing, <a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/performances/perf_detail.php?id=732">6 PM in the MCA theater</a>.</p><p>Lots of theater romanticizes old age. Not Bruce Graham’s <em>The Outgoing Tide</em>. Directed by BJ Jones and starring John Mahoney and Rondi Reed—funny and horrifying as a long-married couple—it has, not the ring of truth, but the clamorous cacophony of truth. <a href="http://www.northlight.org/pages/the_outgoing_tide/145.php">Extended through July 3 at Northlight Theatre</a>, it’s also a true pleasure. I’ll never forget (unless I fall into dementia) the guy shuffling out behind us when it ended, decked out in his WWII veteran’s cap, who called after us, “Hey, kids! Have a wonderful day!”&nbsp;</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-30/cirque.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 231px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title="">"Jungle Red!" The very words raise the hair on the necks of those who love bitch wit and revenge served cold (as it should be) and Upper Crust 1930's women's fashion. They are (1) the color of a lipstick and (2) a catch phrase from Clare Booth's quintessential 1936 comedy-of-manners, <a href="http://www.circle-theatre.org/shows/the-women.shtml"><b><i>The Women</i></b></a>, and it's onstage now at Circle Theatre in Oak Park. Given Circle's sense of production values, one may expect gorgeous gowns. The question is how they will treat the play itself, with its large, all-female cast. Will they serve it up as high camp, as has sometimes been the case? Or as an earnest period piece? Ironically, author Clare Booth was a powerful, independent career woman quite unlike the women of her play, who rely on the unseen men in their lives for validation. <i>The Women </i>runs at Circle Theatre through Aug. 14.</p><p>The cirques are back in town, both of them. <a href="http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/ovo/default.aspx"><b>Cirque du Soleil </b></a>has pitched its iconic blue-and-yellow air-conditioned tent next to the United Center with its latest lavishly costumed and scored opus, <i>Ovo</i>, a fanciful interpretation of insect life, playing through Aug. 21. Meanwhile, <a href="http://www.navypier.com/cirqueshanghai/"><strong>Cirque Shanghai</strong></a> is back for another summer-long run at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage, featuring the best highly physical acts from China's seemingly-endless supply of tumblers, jugglers, acrobats, aerialists and cyclists through Sept. 5. If Cirque Shanghai is less of a high-concept and unique environment, it counteracts that with truly family-friendly ticket prices. Best four-person family package at Cirque du Soleil is $150, while a four-person family can see Cirque Shanghai for as little as $65.</p></p> Thu, 30 Jun 2011 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-30/critics-theater-picks-for-630-73 "500 Clown Trapped": A crossover hit? http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-04/500-clown-trapped-crossover-hit-86056 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-04/500ClownTrapped1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-04/500ClownTrapped1.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px;" title=""></p><p>“It was a big thing, to not be afraid of losing the brand,” says 500 Clown cofounder Adrian Danzig. “We needed to say, ‘The brand is strong enough, let’s see what it will hold,’ instead of re-creating the same note. It’s a risk.”</p><p>Might not seem like much of a leap, but <a href="http://www.500clown.com/">the 11-year-old troupe of clown specialists</a>—progenitors of the sometimes R-rated, comically existential <em>500 Clown Frankenstein</em> and <em>500 Clown Macbeth</em>—are doing their first-ever children’s show, a coproduction with Adventure Stage Chicago called <a href="http://www.adventurestage.org/pages/500_clown_trapped/171/php"><em>500 Clown Trapped</em>.</a>&nbsp;Conceived by Danzig and directed by Paola Coletta, who trained at Jacques Lecoq’s international school of theater, this new piece also falls outside the troupe’s comfort zone by welcoming two relative newcomers as collaborators: joining Danzig onstage are dancer Tim Heck—performing for the first time with 500 Clown—and longtime 500 Clown understudy Leah Urzendowski.</p><p>Basically, the three clown/musicians in <em>500 Clown Trapped</em> take a false step or two (or three, or more… ) and lose their instruments. “We’re in this wonderful clown dramaturgy where every solution is the next problem,” says Danzig. “We’re following the trouble, until there’s more trouble, and more trouble, and more trouble. We end up being trapped physically, and that amuses the kids. And for adults, there’s the relationship/personality trap. But certain freedoms are maintained even inside the trap—it’s this great paradox. And there’s eventual escape.”</p><p>Danzig plays Bruce, also his persona in <em>500 Clown Macbeth</em> and <em>500 Clown Frankenstein</em>. The <em>Trapped </em>manifestation, he says, combines the best of both. “Here Bruce starts out in high-status mode—he’s in that mode for the entirety of ‘Frankenstein.’ But about halfway through this show, he loses that status and turns more toward the anarchic: lower-status, more chaotic, looking for fun.”&nbsp;</p><p><em>500 Clown Trapped</em>&nbsp;is an all-ages show, and Danzig and his collaborators definitely kept&nbsp; family-oriented guidelines in mind—but worried more about parents and teachers than about kids.</p><p>“The big thing was to choose material that didn’t require going into areas that are challenging for adults,” says Danzig. “Children see the blood fight at the end of <em>Macbeth</em>—I’ve heard this about 20 times—as a cartoon. They have anchors that say, ‘I can watch that.’ But PARENTS get upset. In <em>Frankenstein</em>, the bullying and violence are really challenging for teachers and grown-ups, but kids see it every day.”</p><p>In <em>500 Clown Trapped</em>, he says, “We were on the lookout for those kinds of things and for swear words—which we never use much anyway! It’s material in the 500 Clown style, but without allusions to a pre-existing story. Instead it’s based on a concept. It’s easy for a 5-year-old to understand a trap—and for a 25-, 45-, or 65-year-old, though my fear is that we’ve made a good kids’ show that may not be good for 45-year-olds. But I have insane stores of resilience and hope.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/IoKJa61IwAQ" width="480" frameborder="0" height="390"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 04 May 2011 15:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-04/500-clown-trapped-crossover-hit-86056