WBEZ | Stage Left Theatre http://www.wbez.org/tags/stage-left-theatre Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Shaw and Brecht Even Shaw- and Brecht-Haters Will Enjoy, Plus An Alice Childress Revival http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2013-01/shaw-and-brecht-even-shaw-and-brecht-haters-will-enjoy-plus-alice <p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6959_ChalkCircle-scr.JPG" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><u><em>Florence</em> and <em>Wine in the Wilderness</em>, <a href="http://etacreativearts.org">eta Creative Arts</a>, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. in Grand Crossing, 773-752-3955;&nbsp; through March 3.</u><br /><br />Alice Childress, author of the novel <em>A Hero Ain&rsquo;t Nothin&rsquo; but a Sandwich</em> and the first woman to win an Obie Award, was also the first African American woman to have a play professionally produced.&nbsp; That play, <em>Florence</em> (1949) is the curtain-raiser of this evening of her work, and while it receives a fine production anchored by the delicate performance of Kona N. Burks, it&rsquo;s the second piece&mdash;written twenty years later&mdash;that&rsquo;s the real find.&nbsp; <em>Wine in the Wilderness</em>, set in the chaos of the late 60s, shows a black man coming painfully to terms with the idea that he doesn&rsquo;t get to define black womanhood.&nbsp; Under Mignon McPherson Stewart&rsquo;s capable direction, Mark Howard and Alicia Ivy White conduct a romance that&rsquo;s as sweet as it is unconventional.<br /><br /><u><em>Pygmalion</em>, <a href="http://stagelefttheatre.com">Stage Left</a> and <a href="http://BoHoTheatre.com">BoHo Theatre</a> at Theatre Wit, 1229 West Belmont Ave. in Lakeview, 773-975-8150; Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through February 10; tickets $20-$25</u><br /><br />George Bernard Shaw&rsquo;s most familiar play turns out to be not so familiar after all as Vance Smith directs it at the speed of light, with no time for the audience to get restive. Shaw&rsquo;s complex ideas about identity, class and gender are spouted rapid-fire as if they were part of normal conversation rather than material for the lecture hall.&nbsp; This leaves us free to invest ourselves in the proto-love affair between Professor Henry Higgins (Steve O&rsquo;Connell, adorable enough to avoid invidious comparisons with Leslie Howard and/or Rex Harrison) and the Cockney flower-girl Eliza Doolittle (the extraordinary Mouzam Makkar).&nbsp; The result is a bit like standing under a volcano of ideas sharing an umbrella with terrifically interesting commentators (especially Mark Pracht&rsquo;s Alfred Doolittle, avatar of the &lsquo;undeserving poor&rsquo;).&nbsp; Theresa Ham&rsquo;s costume designs could put <em>Downton Abbey</em> to shame.<br /><br /><u><em>The Caucasian Chalk Circle</em>, <a href="http://prometheantheatre.org/">Promethean Theatre Ensemble</a> at City Lit Theater, 1020 West Bryn Mawr in Edgewater, 800-836-3006; Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through February 9; tickets $20 at <a href="http://brownpapertickets.com/">brownpapertickets.com</a></u></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Jon Stewart once created a spectrum of comedy that ran from &ldquo;Pants-Wetting&rdquo; down to &ldquo;Brechtian;&rdquo; and Brecht is indeed generally less funny than trying.&nbsp; This production, though, is funny and moving in equal measure, as expertly performed by a company of 15 actors.&nbsp; Not only do they handle Brecht&rsquo;s dry wit with fluency, they play instruments and sing Matt Kahler&rsquo;s gorgeous original music with flair.&nbsp; (Kahler&rsquo;s arrangements enlivened Gilbert &amp; Sullivan for the Hypocrites, but even if you saw <em>Penzance</em> or <em>Mikado</em> you&rsquo;ll be amazed by his composition skills.) The text of Caucasian is classic Brecht: we&rsquo;re at war, the world is run by cretins, and no good deed goes unpunished. Yet director Ed Rutherford enables us to care about Grusha (Sara Gorsky, with a voice to match her strong acting chops) and the child she adopts--even though the child is actually and obviously a doll.&nbsp; Brecht, who worked to alienate the audience, might be horrified&ndash;-but for the rest of us, a Brecht play about real people with real feelings is a joy to behold.</div></p> Thu, 17 Jan 2013 13:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2013-01/shaw-and-brecht-even-shaw-and-brecht-haters-will-enjoy-plus-alice Don’t-Miss List August 30-September 5: Chicago Fringe Festival and more http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/%EF%BB%BFdon%E2%80%99t-miss-list-august-30-september-5-chicago-fringe-festival-and <p><p><u>Dueling Critics, between 9 and 10 a.m. Friday August 31, 91.5 FM and WBEZ.org, FREE!</u><br /><br />Jonathan and I will review <em>Princes of Waco</em> at Signal Ensemble. And we&rsquo;ll chat with Peter Moore of Steep Theatre about resisting (or not) the temptation to pick plays for an ensemble based on the juiciness of parts for long-time ensemble members.&nbsp;&ndash;KK<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fringe%20festival%20poster.jpg" style="height: 479px; width: 310px; float: left; " title="" /><u><em>Impenetrable</em>, a world premiere by Stage Left Theatre at Theater Wit, first preview Saturday September 1 at 8 p.m., $20</u><br /><br />Stage Left beats the rest of the Chicago theater community out of the autumn starting gate with Mia McCullough&rsquo;s new play about appearance and reality &mdash; specifically, the appearance of women and the reality of the pressure on them to transform themselves into some ideal of Woman as impossibly slender and eternally youthful. The playwright took the piece from synopsis through finished product in collaboration with director Greg Werstler through the company&rsquo;s Downstage Left development series. Politics of all kinds is Stage Left&rsquo;s specialty; in this case sexual politics takes stage center. Thursdays-Sundays through October 7; previews $20, regular run $25.&nbsp;&ndash;KK<br /><br /><u><em>A Class Act</em>, Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago at Theater Wit, opens Tuesday (September 4) at 7:30 p.m., $39</u><br /><br />Porchlight is hot on Stage Left&rsquo;s heels with this musical about musicals. If you&rsquo;re a fan of <em>Smash</em>, the tv show about the making of a Broadway musical, then <em>A Class Act</em> is for you. The songs are by Edward Kleban, who collaborated in the creation of <em>A Chorus Line</em>, but the book is by two of his friends who used a number of his unproduced songs to weave a story about his life and untimely death. Stacey Flaster directs and choreographs, with music direction by the incomparable Beckie Menzie, who also accompanies most performances. Previews September 1-2-3, $30; regular run Fridays-Sundays through October 7 $39.&nbsp;&ndash;KK</p><p><u><a href="http://www.chicagofringe.org"><em>Third Annual Chicago Fringe Festival</em></a>, Pilsen (various venues); 1-866-441-9962; $10 (plus one-time $5 Entrance to Fest fee); through Sept. 9.</u></p><p>Edinburgh has one, New York has one, so why not Chicago? For the third time, the Chicago Fringe collective is presenting a heady mix of solo shows, dance, theater and performances that defy categories. The 2012 line-up features 24 Chicago-area acts, 22 more from other parts of the USA, plus artists from South Korea, Canada and France. In all, they will offer 200+ performances showcasing 180 performers. At $10 a pop (and even less with one of several Festival passes), you probably won&#39;t be trying very hard if you don&#39;t find <em>something</em> you like at the <strong><em>Chicago Fringe Festival</em></strong>. The Fest&#39;s website very helpfully provides not only the total Festival schedule, but a listing of shows by title and by venue.&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p><p><u><em>Skin Tight</em>, <a href="http://www.cortheatre.org">Cor Theatre</a> at A Red Orchid, 1531 N. Wells Street; 1-866-811-4111; $15; through Sept. 25.</u></p><p>So OK, speaking of The Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, here is the regional premiere of a hit play from that festival, <strong><em>Skin Tight</em></strong>, by Gary Henderson. It&#39;s a highly-physical two-character performance piece that&#39;s billed as &quot;a riveting romance that endures war, unfaithfulness, wayward children, and death while its passion and humor live on.&quot; The producers promise that it will be performed &quot;with erotic abandon&quot; (that ought&#39;a sell tickets) and will take only one hour. But wait, folks, there&#39;s more: not only is <em>Skin Tight</em> a regional debut, but Cor Theatre is a new company, formed by two veteran Chicago theatre artists, Victoria DeIorio and Tosha Fowler, &quot;women in pursuit of risk-taking and boundary-stretching.&quot; Best known as a designer, DeIorio will direct the production. Cor is the Latin root word for both heart and courage.&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p></p> Thu, 30 Aug 2012 09:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/%EF%BB%BFdon%E2%80%99t-miss-list-august-30-september-5-chicago-fringe-festival-and Don't Miss List July 26-August 1: Shakespeare, Shakespeare and more Shakespeare, plus some drek http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/dont-miss-list-july-26-august-1-shakespeare-shakespeare-and-more <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/merchant%20of%20venice%20first%20folio%20theater_0.jpg" title="'A Merchant of Venice' at First Folio Theater (Courtesy of First Folio)" /></div><p><u>Dueling Critics on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, Friday July 27 between 9 and 10 a.m., 91.5 FM and WBEZ.org, FREE!</u><br /><br />It&rsquo;s an all-Shakespeare, all-outdoor, all-Western suburbs day! We&rsquo;ll be talking about <em>The Merchant of Venice</em> at <a href="http://firstfolio.org/">First Folio Theatre</a> in Oakbrook and <em>Richard III</em> at <a href="http://oakparkfestival.com">Oak Park Festival Theatre</a> in guess-where. If you miss the <em>sturm und drang </em>on the air, you can always hear the segment on the <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> portion of the site, or here.&nbsp;&ndash;KK<br /><br /><u>Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, begins Sunday July 29 at 4 p.m. at the South Shore Culture Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, FREE!</u><br /><br />And speaking of Shakespeare, <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/">Chicago Shakespeare Theater</a>&nbsp;has furnished a truck with an unfolding stage and will begin on Sunday to tour the city&rsquo;s parks with its free-for-all traveling production of <em>The Taming of the Shrew</em>. In addition to the grand Sunday opening at the South Shore Cultural Center, the troupe will make late-afternoon visits this week to Tuley Park, Dvorak Park and Austin Town Hall Park. The peripatetic program continues through August 19 with performances every day but Thursday. To see whether the players are scheduled to descend on your neighborhood, go to chicagoshakes.com/parks.&nbsp;&ndash;KK<br /><br /><em><u>DrekFest 2012</u></em><u>, Tuesday July 31 at 7:30 p.m., Stage Left Theatre at the ComedySportz Theatre, 929 West Belmont, tickets $15</u><br /><br />My one true regret of the coming week is that my schedule will keep me away from <em>DrekFest</em>, Stage Left Theatre&rsquo;s &ldquo;annual, national search for America&rsquo;s worst ten-minute play.&rdquo; Four shows will compete at the finals on Tuesday, including <em>Abortion Carnival of the Juggalos</em> by 2010 Grand Loser Jake Lindquist. The audience chooses the loser and there are subordinate prizes for, e.g., Worst Stage Direction. Ask the people at the Bulwer Lytton competition: writing horrible&nbsp;prose is harder than it seems&ndash;though there are days when I find it quite effortless.&nbsp;&ndash;KK</p><p><u><em>Yo Solo Festival</em>, Teatro Vista and Collaboraction; Flat Iron Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee (3rd Floor); 1-312-226-9633; $15; through Sept. 2</u></p><p>Chicago&#39;s leading Latino theater troupe offers six actor-writers in solo performances, in association with Collaboration, the innovative physical theater company now re-developing itself as a facilitator and presenter of inter-disciplinary work. <strong><em>Yo Solo Festival</em></strong> offers two artists in each of three rotating programs: Ray Andujar, Sandra Delgado, KJ Sanchez, Lisandra Tena, Juan Villa and Febronio Zatarain. Teatro Vista borrows a page from Teatro Luna, the Latina collective which first achieved success by offering solo programs written and performed by its members. <em>Yo Solo</em> also incorporates music and visual art in stories as varied as historic land battles in New Mexico to Colombia in the 1940s.&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p><p><u><em>Ah, Wilderness!</em> <a href="http://www.eclipsetheatre.com">Eclipse Theatre</a> at The Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport; 1-773-935-6875; $28; through Sept. 2</u></p><p>&quot;A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me, singing in the wilderness. Ah, Wilderness were Paradise enow!&quot; This famous quote from Persian author Omar Khayyam gave Eugene O&#39;Neill the title of his only comedy, which is a reverse-image version of his autobiographical play, <em>Long Day&#39;s Journey Into Night</em>. Set in similar surroundings in New London, CT (where O&#39;Neill and his family lived), <strong><em>Ah, Wilderness</em></strong> is what O&#39;Neill family life might have been if his father hadn&#39;t been an actor, his brother hadn&#39;t been an alcoholic whoremonger and his mother hadn&#39;t been a drug addict. But they were. Successfully produced on Broadway in 1933, <em>Ah, Wilderness!</em> starred George M. Cohan in a rare non-musical role (and equally rare, in a show he didn&#39;t write) as the father of the household. <em>Ah, Wilderness</em> has a large cast for a comedy, which may be one reason it&#39;s not often produced. The play has a warm heart and a good deal of wit, so give yourself a chance to see the flip side of America&#39;s great Gloomy Gus playwright.&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p></p> Thu, 26 Jul 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/dont-miss-list-july-26-august-1-shakespeare-shakespeare-and-more Daily Rehearsal: Fall theater previews galore http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-14/daily-rehearsal-fall-theater-previews-galore-91964 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-14/timeoutfallpreview.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. <em>Bus Stop</em>&nbsp;comes from <a href="http://www.raventheatre.com/">Raven Theatre</a> in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-02/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-62-87319">October</a></strong></span></span>, and it sounds romantic: "Trapped by a blustery winter storm, wayward travelers converge at a rural Kansas City diner. Forced to stay the night, the weary group turns the cold into heat as they discover new relationships." In a statement, director JoAnn Montemurro said,&nbsp;“Raven's mission is to present plays that illuminate the American experience and you can't get more American than cowboys and a showgirl stranded in Kansas."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2.&nbsp;</strong></span></span><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif';"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>Stage Left Theatre has announced the recipients</strong></span></span> of their Downstage Left playwright residencies for the 30th season. They say that "this season represents the start of a larger scale restructuring of the program's resources towards extended development opportunities." This was the first year they had an open application process, and the residencies that won include&nbsp;</span><i>Warped</i>&nbsp;by Barbara Lhota and&nbsp;<i>Witches Vanish</i>&nbsp;by Claudia Barnett. <em>Warped </em>feels a little ripped from the headlines; it's about a drunk woman who is reportedly raped by police officers that drove her home. And <em>Witches Vanish</em> retells Macbeth.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-14/timeoutfallpreview.JPG" style="margin: 10px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 402px;" title="Justin Timberlake doesn't do theater, but the people inside do"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Strawdog also opens their new season in October</strong></span></span>, with <i><a href="http://www.strawdog.org/index.php?section=history&amp;production=oldtimes">Old Times</a></i>. That may sound familiar to you, and but don't get it confused with <em>Old Town</em>, the play the company put on in October. Kimberly Senior last did <em>The Cherry Orchard</em>, which you also might recall did pretty well, review-wise.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. I'm catching up on <em>This American Life</em></strong></span></span>, so this is new news to me; their September 5 episode (originally aired in 2003, so it's really old) called "<a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/241/20-acts-in-60-minutes">20 Acts in 60 Minutes</a>" was inspired by the Neo-Futurists. TAL throws their usual structure on their heads (long-form audio stories) to bring you short short little pieces, like <em>Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind</em>, which famously performs 30 plays in 60 minutes once a week.&nbsp;Of course, lots of radio does this every week (like radio news, for example), but I guess that doesn't make the gimmick less exciting. If you'd like to listen to just this one the piece during the show, it's the last one before the first break.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">5. Fall preview season is upon us</span></strong></span>, and the latest from <em>Chicago Magazine</em> and <em>TimeOut </em>have hit my desk. <em>Chicago Magazine</em> steals a bit from <em>New York Magazine </em>and creates an "Anticipation Index" of what they're excited about, gives us "Promising Players", a look at five young people being talented, a glimpse at the difficiculties of putting on a solo show, and an interview with Patrick Andrews, the younger star of <em>Red</em>. <em>TimeOut </em>has a look at the <em>six </em>local companies with new artistic directors, the headshots of the actors for <em>Spring Awakening</em>, the story behind the new space for the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural center, and a Q&amp;A with Kate Fry, the star of Sarah Ruhl's <em>In the Next Room or the vibrator play</em>.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 14 Sep 2011 14:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-14/daily-rehearsal-fall-theater-previews-galore-91964