WBEZ | Royal George Theatre http://www.wbez.org/tags/royal-george-theatre Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Daily Rehearsal: 'Unspeakable' postponed until spring http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/daily-rehearsal-unspeakable-postponed-until-spring-102415 <p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- <a href="http://www.theatreseven.org">Theatre Seven&#39;s</a> announced that their full 2012-13 </strong></span></span>season will include <em>American Storm</em>, <em>Blacktop Sky</em> (which will also be in Steppenwolf&#39;s Garage Rep), Johnny and <em>Unwilling and Hostile Instruments</em>: 100 Years of Extraordinary Chicago Women. That last one sounds like a doozy; it&#39;s described as <b>&quot;</b>a collection of seven new plays by some of the industry&rsquo;s most talented playwrights and directors.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Look at this photo of <em>Grease </em></strong></span></span>at the Paramount:</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/PT%20Grease_3.jpg" style="height: 430px; width: 620px; " title="The cast of 'Grease.' (Photo by Liz Lauren)" /></div><p>My seven year old heart is swelling right now. The musical opened this week.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- &quot;Due to major funding that did not come through</strong></span></span>, the production of <em>Unspeakable</em>, which was scheduled to start performances at the Royal George Theatre Oct. 16, has been postponed until the spring. More details to come. Refunds available at point of purchase&quot; says the press release I received today. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/daily-rehearsal-isaiah-washington-cast-friend-richard-pryor-101174">Remember <em>Unspeakable</em></a>? It was the one about Richard Pryor and featured actor Isaiah Washington.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 13 Sep 2012 14:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/daily-rehearsal-unspeakable-postponed-until-spring-102415 Getting to know Bruce Arntson, one half of 'The Doyle & Debbie Show' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-16/getting-know-bruce-arntson-one-half-doyle-debbie-show-94092 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-16/DoyleDebbie_PhotobyDougBlemker-2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-16/DoyleDebbie_PhotobyDougBlemker-2.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 305px; height: 500px; " title="">In <a href="http://doyleanddebbie.com/"><em>The Doyle &amp; Debbie show</em></a>, Bruce Arntson has a Nashville drawl so thick you could cut it with a knife. And serve it with molasses and mini marshmallows.</p><p>But on the phone with Arntson, you can detect the diffidence and faint Norwegian lilt of a Minnesotan. Because he grew up there, 50 miles in from the big town of Fargo, ND, he says.</p><p>Asked whether he resembles his character—Doyle Mayfield, a former country star on tour hoping for a comeback with a new “Debbie”—Arntson says, “God! I hope not! I mean, the only similarity is that we both love performing. But as far as all the misogynistic stuff, no.”</p><p>Arntson has lived in Nashville for the last 32 years, which explains the expert accent and southern-isms (“make a picture”) as well as his immersion in the country music scene. He’s not only one of <em>The D&amp;D show</em>’s two stars but the guy who wrote all the slaphappy parodic songs and dialogue. In fact he nailed the country ethos and aesthetic so well that, after opening in Nashville in 2006, <em>Doyle &amp; Debbie</em> ran there for five years. Some audience members had seen it so many times, Arntson says, that they “played along, kind of like at T<em>he Rocky Horror Picture Show</em>.” (<a href="http://theroyalgeorgetheatre.com/shows.php?s=50">It’s been extended here through March.</a>)</p><p>The idea for <em>Doyle &amp; Debbie</em> hit Arntson when he was writing and producing “little bios of old country stars” (Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, George Jones—or “No Show Jones”) for CMT’s <em>Inside Fame</em> series.</p><p>“I was poring over some old footage,” says Arntson. “It struck me funny.”</p><p>“That brand of entertainment used to exist all over in vaudeville. And now the last remnants of it are in country music. It’s fascinating to see these by and large uneducated, often dirt-poor musicians—and this is their version of what professional showbiz looks like. It’s endearingly amateur, but with this weird professional sheen.”</p><p>Arntson didn’t want “just a jukebox-musical romp.” He wanted a dramatic arc. And to the extent that <em>Doyle &amp; Debbie</em> has one, it’s provided by the song “Daddy’s Hair,” the show’s psychotic break.</p><p>“There’s a tradition in country music, and in southern literature in general, in old-timey music—that southern gothic, idiot-son kind of thing. They used to write about rape and death and blood and guts.”</p><p>“If you’re going to parody something extreme, you’ve gotta go the extra mile,” Arntson explains. “Plus I thought possession would be interesting to play. And raging alcoholism is a tried-and-true tradition, so I asked myself, ‘What <em>does</em> happen when Doyle drinks?’”</p><p>“It shocks some people when the blood comes down. There are horrified faces from time to time. But I grew up watching <em>Monty Python</em>, with all that fake blood!”</p><p>Arntson says he wrote the crucial role of Debbie around Jenny Littleton (fabulous, and also performing here). He describes her as “an actor who sings—she’d only done a tiny little bit of musical theater. But she can mimic anyone, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline. I could parody a song, and she could ape [the singer’s style]. People in the business—songwriters, musicians—they appreciate all the different aspects of the show. It just adds a little nuance.”</p><p>Plenty of music insiders have seen <em>The Doyle &amp; Debbie show</em>, and no one has had a negative reaction. “They all love it,” says Arntson. “They understand that the songs were lovingly crafted, and I guess they’re all able to laugh at aspects of themselves they might recognize.”</p><p>“I was told George Jones’s wife laughed extra-hard. Though maybe all that stuff wasn’t so funny at the time.”</p></p> Wed, 16 Nov 2011 15:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-16/getting-know-bruce-arntson-one-half-doyle-debbie-show-94092 Theater picks for your weekend: Alexander before he was Great, Bad Boys of Dance and a vaudeville comeback http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-03/theater-picks-your-weekend-alexander-he-was-great-bad-boys-dance-an <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-03/Bad Boys of Dance Image 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p><a href="http://www.etacreativearts.org/index.php">eta Creative Arts</a> follows up its well-regarded <em>Flow</em> (which will have <a href="http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/school-news/27663-governors-state-universitys-center-for-performing-arts-presents-flow-saturday-november-12-at-8-pm.html">an encore presentation at Governors State University next weekend</a>) with <em><strong>Broke-ology</strong>,</em> a family drama about the intersection of brothers, elder-care and dominoes. Nathan Louis Jackson's play, directed by Artistic Director Runako Jahi, opens tonight on the Mainstage. Opening night tickets are only $10, with $20 Thursdays throughout the run; regular admission is $30. Through December 18 at eta Square, 7558 S. South Chicago Avenue.</p><p>Or, if you're among the teeming masses of the unemployed and are not busy <a href="http://www.thethirdcity.org/blog/jon-randolph/uncategorized/randolph-street-occupy-lasalle-street/">occupying LaSalle Street</a>, you could go to <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=545">Steppenwolf</a> this afternoon for a free reading of a new play by <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/bio.aspx?id=381&amp;crewId=721">Sarah Gubbins</a>, <strong><em>fml: or how Carson McCullers saved my life</em></strong> (an apt complement to <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=539">Steppenwolf's Theatre for Young Adults production of McCullers's <em>The Heart is a Lonely Hunter</em>,</a> which closes tomorrow). Gubbins is the author of <a href="http://www.chicagodramatists.org/production_the-kid-thing"><em>The Kid Thing</em>, whose world-premiere production at Chicago Dramatists</a> was one of the highlights of this fall's season. 3 p.m. at the Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted. The free readings continue&nbsp; through Saturday; the First Look series of performances continues through November 20, but this is the only weekend you can get $10 tickets including a free beer.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-03/vaudeville.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 169px;" title="">Even more exciting than the <a href="http://www.oldtownschool.org/?gclid=CJyLore4mKwCFcOd7Qodg2WULg">Old Town School of Folk Music</a>'s decision to branch out into theater is the subject of the show: <strong><em>Keep A Song in Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville</em></strong>. It would be hard to top the array of talent involved: <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=2324">Andrea J. Dymond </a>will direct the piece, whose creator-performers include the <a href="http://www.carolinachocolatedrops.com/">Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops</a>, the MacArthur Genius Grant-winning ragtime composer <a href="http://www.reginaldrrobinson.com/">Reginald R. Robinson</a>, and veteran Chicago tapper <a href="http://www.tapheritage.org/reggio.html">Reggio "The Hoofer" McLaughlin</a>. Tonight through Sunday only, in the School's Maurer Concert Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue.&nbsp; Tickets are $45, $43 for Old Town School Members, $41 for seniors. The show is not recommended for children: adult language and content.</p><p>Finally, <strong><a href="http://www.rivernorthchicago.com/">River North Dance Chicago</a></strong> comes home briefly to the Harris Theater. The company's "Reality of a Dreamer" was, in its original form, the sexiest thing you'd ever see on a legitimate stage; they've reworked it as "Evolution of a Dream" and we'll see whether the libido still comes panting through. Tonight through Saturday only; tickets $30-$75.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/events/2011-2012-season/river-north-dance">The Harris</a>, at 205 East Randolph Street, is that glass box resembling a butt-plug for the Pritzker Pavilion. Still, there's not a bad seat in the house, and when you're inside you don't have to look at it.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p>Word is that tickets are selling fast. On Saturday<strong>, </strong><a href="http://cso.org/TicketsAndEvents/EventDetails.aspx?eid=4296"><strong>DanceWorks Chicago</strong> shares the Symphony Center stage with the CSO</a> in two hour-long shows at family-friendly times. In “Magical Movements,” the six youthful DWC dancers help “build” the orchestra for the occasion’s finale, Benjamin Britten’s <em>The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra</em>. If for some reason you aren’t interested in being surrounded by kids age five to nine, <a href="http://www.danceworkschicago.org/Event/Dance-Flight-1111.aspx">DWC is also performing a “Dance Flight”</a> Saturday evening set to an eclectic mix of music: Vivaldi, Gershwin, and Sons of the Never Wrong.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-03/Bad Boys of Dance Image 2.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 429px;" title="The Bad Boys of Dance"></p><p>They’re called <a href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/">“<strong>The Bad Boys of Dance</strong>,”</a> but they’re neither all-bad nor all-boys. Fans of <em>Dancing With the Stars&nbsp;</em>and <em>So You Think You Can Dance</em>—the Bad Boys have turned up on both shows—will relish the opportunity to see these six babe magnets and one babe (Adrienne Canterna-Thomas, also the choreographer) shake their stuff in pieces set mostly to well-known pop songs. Saturday and Sunday at the Auditorium.</p><p>In the department of continuing but soon-to-end shows…. Lucky Plush undertakes its second and final weekend at the MCA in <strong><em><a href="http://mcachicago.org/performances/now/all/2011/740">The Better Half</a></em></strong>, a brainy, funny physical-theater take on the 1944 film <em>Gaslight</em>…. And if you’re a fan of zombies—you know you are—try to catch <em><a href="http://www.musicalofthelivingdead.com/Musical_of_the_Living_Dead/Welcome.html">Musical of the Living Dead</a> </em>before its last show, November 12.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-03/Hershey%2520showpage.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 225px; height: 300px;" title="">Gifted pianist, writer and actor Hershey Felder has entertained us before with his one-man shows—half concert and half play—about George Gerswhin, Frederic Chopin and Beethoven. Now he’s back as Lenny, baby, in <a href="http://www.theroyalgeorgetheatre.com/shows.php?s=51"><strong><em>Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein</em></strong></a> at the Royal George Theatre. Conductor, author, serious composer, Broadway composer, brilliant lecturer, dedicated liberal, husband, father and bisexual lover, Bernstein certainly was a multi-faceted showman (and he was, indeed, a showman). We’ll see how many facets Felder fathoms in 100 minutes or so. <em>Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein</em> continues through Dec. 30. However, Felder has found Chicago congenial and often has extended his shows.</p><p>Alexander of Macedon (not yet “the Great”) was whuppin’ the Persians when he was just 21 years old, leading his troupes into battle with wounds to prove it. This point is pertinent to the 2011-2012 season of <a href="http://www.thesideproject.net/">the side project theatre company</a> (sic, they use all lower-case letters), up in Rogers Park (1439 W. Jarvis), which has dedicated the year to issues of war and youth. Not only that, but the side project is presenting its six-play season in rotating repertory, three plays now and three more in the spring. The opening repertory, which rolls this weekend, includes the world premieres <strong><em>of Through the Middle Ground</em></strong> by Louis Cancelmi and <strong><em>An Interrogation Primer</em></strong> by Mike Nowacki, plus the Midwest debut of Brett Neveu’s <strong><em>Twentyone</em></strong>. The first repertory series continues at the side project through Dec. 18.</p></p> Thu, 03 Nov 2011 15:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-03/theater-picks-your-weekend-alexander-he-was-great-bad-boys-dance-an