WBEZ | An Iliad http://www.wbez.org/tags/iliad Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The You-Missed List: Top Shows of 2011 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-19/you-missed-list-top-shows-2011-94979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-19/follies.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-19/follies.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 354px; height: 240px;" title="'Follies' at Chicago Shakes (Photo by Liz Lauren)"><strong>Best show of the year in any category:</strong> Gary Griffin’s <em>Follies</em> at <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/">Chicago Shakespeare</a>. This flawless version of an underappreciated early Sondheim should be remounted somewhere and run forever; there’s not a false note or step anywhere in it. In short: absolutely brilliant.</p><p><strong>Best one-man show of this or any other year:</strong> <a href="http://www.courttheatre.org/season/show/an_iliad/"><em>An Iliad</em> at Court Theatre</a>, by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, as performed by the extraordinary Timothy Edward Kane. Again, won’t director Charles Newell seek out another site for an open-ended run? The city is full of people who wanted to see it and couldn’t. &nbsp;<br> <br> And now on to our regularly-scheduled list, already in progress.<br> <br> <strong>Best musical we’ve seen in years:</strong> Life is unfair. Only a perfect <em>Follies</em> could eclipse two other superb productions in this category, <em>Sweeney Todd</em> at <a href="http://www.drurylaneoakbrook.com/">Drury Lane</a> and <a href="http://themusictheatrecompany.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=25&amp;Itemid=12"><em>Merrily We Roll Along</em> at The Music Theatre Company</a> (starring <a href="http://www.broadway.com/shows/clear-day-you-can-see-forever/buzz/159007/on-a-clear-days-breakout-star-jessie-mueller-on-flirting-with-harry-connick-jr-and-belting-on-broadway/">Jessie Mueller, now knocking them dead in <em>On A Clear Day</em> on Broadway</a>). Sondheim was everywhere this year, but in the race for attention these three are a deserved win, place and show.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br> <br> <strong>Best plays about monarchs (including any Shakespeare play you care to name):</strong> So who’da thunk Chicago Shakespeare would win this category, too, and with two non-Bard productions? No one who saw Harry Groener in <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/main.taf?p=2,19,3,36,1,15"><em>The Madness of George III </em></a>will ever forget his hilarious, pathetic, tragic and deeply human character, and the same can be said for Diane D’Aquila’s powerful, hearthbroken&nbsp; and heartbreaking <em><a href="https://www.chicagoshakes.com/main.taf?p=2,62,5,1,11">Elizabeth Rex</a>.</em>&nbsp;And with its offstage gods and kings manipulating its onstage warriors and fools, let’s count <em>An Iliad</em> once again–just because it was so amazing. &nbsp;<br> <br> <strong>Best plays about racism:</strong> <a href="http://www.theartistichome.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=130&amp;Itemid=250">Artistic Home’s revival of Alice Childress's Obie-winning <em>Trouble in Mind</em></a> anatomized discrimination within the theater itself, while–-speaking of painfully close to home-–<a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=527">Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer-winning Clybourne Park</a> called out gentrification in Steppenwolf’s own neighborhood. It take some nerve to raise the ghost of <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/lorraine-hansberry-9327823">Lorraine Hansberry,</a> and a top-notch intellect to confront it on equal terms. Fortunately, Norris shows himself as able a combatant as we’ve seen since <a href="http://gwt.scripturetext.com/genesis/32.htm">Jacob wrestled with the angel til dawn</a>. &nbsp;<br> <br> <strong>Best avant-garde plays, even for those of us skeptical about the very concept:</strong> Trap Door took a play that is literally revolting, featuring a character with an intimate relationship with excrement –&nbsp;<a href="http://trapdoortheatre.com/performance-history/first-ladies/">Werner Schwab's <em>First Ladies</em></a>&nbsp;--&nbsp;and made it into a savage and inescapable commentary on the dregs which constitute contemporary life. Nicole Wiesner’s performance as the obsessed plumber was first among equals, and deserved a much wider audience than it got. Kudos to her and to the entire company for deciding that doing the work they believe in is more important than the commercial success they could all surely have.</p><p>Meanwhile, <a href="http://theateroobleck.com/plays/there-is-a-happiness-that-morning-is">Mickle Maher's <em>There is a Happiness That Morning Is</em></a>, which Theatre Oobleck did at the DCA Theatre, broke the fourth wall while making <a href="http://www.online-literature.com/blake/songs-of-innocence-and-experie">William Blake's <em>Songs of Innocence and Experience</em></a> into a surrogate for all conflicts between Apollo and Dionysius, between head and heart, between conformity and individuality. Performed as a pair of dueling lectures, with a few comments from the peanut gallery, the piece is Impossible to describe but was thrilling to observe.&nbsp;<br> <br> <strong>Best adaptations from other media:</strong> honors are shared here by Marilyn Campbell's <a href="http://www.16thstreettheater.org/seasonfour/thebeats.html"><em>The Beats</em> at 16th Street Theatre</a>, which makes the 1950s poets seem our contemporaries; <a href="http://buildingstage.com/bxo_show_mobydick.php"><em>Moby Dick</em> at the Building Stage</a>, in which everyone onstage takes a turn as Ahab, reminding the audience that anyone is capable of cruelty, obsession and insanity; <a href="http://thehousetheatre.com/seasons/x/shows/cyrano">The House Theatre’s version of <em>Cyrano</em></a>, which rescued the tale of love and chivalry from the musty cloth in which it’s been swaddled (not to say suffocated); and <a href="http://www.courttheatre.org/season/show/spunk/"><em>Spunk</em> at Court Theatre, a delightful musical adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston short stories</a>. And speaking of Court, did I mention its one-man adaptation of Homer?<br> <br> <strong>Best plays with an Irish lilt (always a crowded category in Chicago):</strong> a tie between <a href="http://www.seanachai.org/productions/shadow.html"><em>Shadow of a Gunman</em> at Seanachai</a> (directed by John Mossman) and <a href="http://www.theartistichome.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=136&amp;Itemid=261"><em>A Touch of the Poet</em> at the Artistic Home's new space at Stage 773</a> (directed by Mossman's wife, AH's Artistic Director Kathy Scambiatterra). Whether it’s O’Neill or O’Casey, you can count on a true feel of the Ould Sod from these two.<br> <br> <strong>Best plays about escaping from reality:</strong> There were a lot of these this year–--and, looking at the world as it is, can you blame us?&nbsp; <a href="http://www.redtwist.org/2010-2011Season.html#Neb">Red Twist’s <em>Man from Nebraska</em></a> heads the list, with a production of the Tracy Letts play that outdid its world premiere at Steppenwolf.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.strawdog.org/index.php?section=history&amp;production=conquest">Strawdog’s <em>Conquest of the South Pole</em> </a>(the <a href="http://www.timelinetheatre.com/pitmen_painters/">other play about unemployed miners</a>) showed us a group of East Germans whose fantasies of liberation involve death on the ice.&nbsp;<a href="http://eclipsetheatre.com/season/2011/">At Eclipse</a>, playwright Naomi Wallace limned the constraints of poverty, isolation, and gender in <em>The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek</em>, while the <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/news.detail/object_id/a3d49bc1-3d30-4d73-b050-c4ecafb365fb.cfm">same company’s revival of Arthur Miller’s <em>After the Fall</em></a> demonstrated that even people married to Marilyn Monroe occasionally need a break.</p><p>I realize I've spoken about companies more often than directors, so permit me a shout-out to Kimberly Senior, Jonathan Berry, Andrew Jessop, Seret Scott, Matt Hawkins, Blake Montgomery, Ann Filmer, Zeljko Djukic, Amy Morton, Vaun Monroe, Barbara Gaines, Penny Metropulos, Jessica Redish and Rachel Rockwell. And may I happily note an equal number of men and women in this group of those responsible for the great work here described?</p><p>Happy New Year.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 19 Dec 2011 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-19/you-missed-list-top-shows-2011-94979 The Don't-Miss List: Luna Negra in 'Moniquilla and the Thief of Laughter' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-30/dont-miss-list-luna-negra-moniquilla-and-thief-laughter-94458 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-01/Moniquilla (2), photo by German Anton.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p>I guess I shouldn't be surprised at a brilliant one-man <strong><em>Iliad</em></strong>--after all, the bardic tradition is precisely of one man telling an epic story. But <a href="http://www.abouttheartists.com/artists/273376">Timothy Edward Kane</a>'s embodiment of all the characters in the agonizing finale of the Trojan War is amazing nonetheless. With only a handful of contemporary references, the script (by Denis O'Hare and Lisa Peterson) and performance make clear that wars of conquest are all the same, and all more costly than worthwhile. The <a href="http://www.courttheatre.org/">Court Theatre</a> production runs only through next weekend (December 11); hop on the Metra and see it. Tickets are from $10 to $60.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/6veWKP6PIuE" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe></p><p>And while you're venturing out of downtown, head to Berwyn for Saturday's sneak preview of the upcoming 5th season at <a href="http://www.16thstreettheater.org/scripts/now_at_16thstreet.asp">16th Street Theater</a>. The season's theme is "<strong>Love, Faith and the Unknown</strong>," and the FREE preview will include excerpts from each of the upcoming plays. The festivities begin at 5 p.m.&nbsp; While you're out there, see if there's a seat left for <em>Holiday Stories</em> (a seasonal tryptych by company-affiliated playwrights Elizabeth Berg, Rohina Malik and Tanya Saracho), which closes on Sunday. Tickets are $18.&nbsp;</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p><a href="http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/210093">Try on <strong><em>Paper Shoes</em></strong></a><strong> </strong>tonight, tomorrow night, and next Thursday and Friday with Rachel Bunting’s <em>The Humans</em>. She describes her dance-theater project on memory and loss, two years in the making, as “something like a twisted and crinkled map in my hands that refuses to be folded up… ever, ever again.” Thursdays and Fridays through Dec. 9 at Hamlin Park Fieldhouse.</p><p>There are two, count them, two! kids’ dance shows this weekend that are not <em>The Nutcracker</em>. Luna Negra Dance Theater launches its family series, Luna Niños, with <a href="http://www.lunanegra.org/">Gustavo Ramirez Sansano’s <strong><em>Moniquilla and the Thief of Laughter</em></strong></a> at Stage 773, Saturday and Sunday with two shows each day. Expect “flying pendulums, jungle spies, bursting water balloons, and secret laboratories.” Also this weekend: Hubbard Street 2’s <strong><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-30/harold-and-purple-crayon-returns-94448">Harold and the Purple Crayon</a></em></strong>, in matinees at the Harris Saturday and Sunday.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/Moniquilla%20%282%29%2C%20photo%20by%20German%20Anton.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 387px;" title="Luna Negra"></p><p><a href="http://linkshall.org/">At Link’s Hall, <strong>Synapse Arts</strong></a> presents new works by Suzy Grant, Samantha Spriggs, and artistic director Rachel Damon. <a href="http://www.muntu.com/">At the DuSable Museum of African American History, Muntu Dance Theatre</a> of Chicago presents its fall series, this year titled “<strong>Spice It Up!</strong>” And <a href="http://mordine.org/events.cfm?hdr=events">at Architectural Artifacts, Mordine &amp; Co.</a> hosts a free “<strong>fête champagne</strong>,” which includes performances of excerpts from Shirley Mordine’s <em>LifeSpeak </em>and work in progress.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p>Bah! Humbug! Eff the Xmas cheer and--for one night only—indulge your darkest fantasies and desires with <a href="http://www.wildclawtheatre.com/wc_html/deathscribe11.html"><strong><em>DEATHSCRIBE</em></strong></a>, next Monday, Dec. 5, 8PM at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park (1328 W. Morse). This chilling night out offers five horror-genre radio plays, staged with a live Foley artist to ensure that every bone-crunching, gut-wrenching, squeaky-doored, blood-splashing moment sounds—uh—accurate . . . and then some. Deathscribe is an annual presentation of WildClaw (sic) Theatre, the only Chicago troupe devoted entirely to horror (not just at Halloween). We trust that Deathscribe will be much more than horrible.</p><p>Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and its new artistic director, Timothy Douglas, offer their take on Pierre de Marivaux’s elegant 18th Century French romantic comedy, <a href="http://www.remybumppo.org/changes-of-heart-pages-364.php"><strong><em>Changes of Heart</em></strong></a>, in a heralded English version by Stephen Wadsworth. The original play has characters derived from the Renaissance Italian commedia dell’arte, such as Harlequin. It’s anyone’s guess if they will survive Douglas’s update to 1960’s Chicago, and whether Harlequin will appear in hippie beads and bell-bottoms. Changes of Heartruns through Jan. 8 at The Greenhouse in Lincoln Park.</p></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 16:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-30/dont-miss-list-luna-negra-moniquilla-and-thief-laughter-94458 Daily Rehearsal: 'Portlandia: The Tour' sells out Chicago in record time http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-22/daily-rehearsal-portlandia-tour-sells-out-chicago-record-time-94280 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-22/75-atlg.png" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. There's not a ton of stuff to see this weekend</strong></span></span> with the family, and it's basically half getting into the holiday spirit, and the other half a motley crew. Anyhow, <a href="http://www.footlights.com/chicago/events/for/thisweekend/page/1.html">peruse Footlights</a>, see what you like that will get you out of the house more than a walk-off of your turkey-enduced coma.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-22/75-atlg.png" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 200px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. <a href="http://www.hideoutchicago.com/event/78431/"><em>Portlandia: The Tour</em></a> is already sold out</strong></span></span>, after tickets just went on sale at 10 am this morning. (Comments indicate they sold out within minutes. Whatever, just put a bird on it.) The show, which you won't be seeing, is in Chicago on January 18 at the Hideout. What will you be missing?<a href="http://www.ifc.com/portlandia/the-tour/"> Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen</a>&nbsp;"performing live music, presenting sneak-peek clips from the show's second season and sharing personal&nbsp;anecdotes about the creation and inspiration of Portlandia and its variety of eccentric characters."&nbsp;Want more Brownstein? Check out <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/live-music-thursday-wild-flags-black-tiles-94156">these videos</a>&nbsp;of Wild Flag performing for <em>Sound Opinions</em> here at WBEZ.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <em>An Iliad</em> has received the elusive </strong></span></span><a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/15032167/an-iliad-at-court-theatre-theater-review"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>five-star review</strong></span></span> from <em>TimeOut</em></a>; reviewer Oliver Sava writes, "Kane’s stunning performance has the spontaneity of a story told around a campfire, yet his emotional reaction to the narrative shows his profound connection to the material." There's also praise for set designers and directors -- it sounds like no one is resting in this production.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Interesting: Yesterday Kris Vire and Ada Grey delievered</strong></span></span>&nbsp;their review of&nbsp;Strawdog's Benefit Performance of<em> <a href="http://adagrey.blogspot.com/2011/11/ada-grey-reviews-for-you-live.html">The Phone Book </a></em><a href="http://adagrey.blogspot.com/2011/11/ada-grey-reviews-for-you-live.html">LIVE</a>. As in, in front of everyone it was concerning. I'm not super familiar with Grey, but <a href="http://adagrey.blogspot.com/">her blog is quite enjoyable</a>. Rude or funny? Your call. Maybe a bit of both, the best way to be.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. The last week in November is House Manager Appreciation Week!&nbsp;</strong></span></span>Not officially or anything, but according<a href="http://backstageat.backstagejobs.com/?p=829"> to Backstage at BackstageJobs.com</a>. They're the ones that have to deal with:</p><ul><li>Irate patrons.</li><li>Sick patrons.</li><li>Violent patrons.</li><li>Drunk patrons.</li></ul><p>And why the last week in November? Because it's the <em>holidays</em>, and that means people are shockingly not on their best behavior.&nbsp;"Not only do [house managers] have the stress of dealing with people who may have no idea what their expected behavior should be in a theatre [tourists], but also trying to ensure that they enjoy the experience enough to consider coming back for a show during the regular season." So hug a House Manager!</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 22 Nov 2011 17:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-22/daily-rehearsal-portlandia-tour-sells-out-chicago-record-time-94280 Daily Rehearsal: the 'Good Wife' actually comes to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-17/daily-rehearsal-good-wife-actually-comes-chicago-94149 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-17/4300606173_d5080eab0d.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Debates over how good <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-01/daily-rehearsal-new-york-cast-chinglish-has-one-surprise-91392"><em>Maestro </em></a>is</strong></span></span> continue among the major media outlets, with votes all over the place. The <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/hershey-felders-maestro-at-royal-george-theatre/Content?oid=5011710"><em>Reader </em>says that</a> Hershey Felder "succeeds on every level". The<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/weiss/8741203-452/hershey-felder-is-brilliant-in-his-personification-of-composer-leonard-bernstein.html"> <em>Sun-Times</em> says</a> he's "a genius." But <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/15023275/maestro-the-art-of-leonard-bernstein-at-royal-george-theatre-theater-r"><em>TimeOut </em>qualifies that</a> the show"doesn’t really reach a roof-blowing emotional intensity," though the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-11-11/entertainment/ct-ent-1112-bernstein-review-20111112_1_art-of-leonard-bernstein-hershey-felder-maestro"><em>Trib </em>writes</a> that it's "the best of [Felder's] self-composed entertainments to date."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. The cast of <em>Crowns </em>at the Goodman </strong></span></span>has been announced, with E. Faye Butler and Felicia Fields taking the leading roles of Mabel and Mother Shaw, respectively. Jasondra Johnson (described as a "newcomer") will play Velma. It opens in June, so we've got a long season or two to wait.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-17/4300606173_d5080eab0d.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 399px;" title="Margulies accepts her SAG award (Flickr/Cinema em Séries)"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Julianna Margulies, star of the excellent show <em>The Good Wife</em></strong></span></span>, (which is all about Chicago though not actually filmed in Chicago) will be honored by Steppenwolf at their third annual <em>Steppenwolf Salutes WOMEN IN THE ARTS</em> luncheon&nbsp;in March. Margulies will be interviewed on stage by Martha Lavey; the award has previously gone to<a href="http://www.playbill.com/news/article/135825-Martha-Lavey-Will-Interview-Joan-Allen-at-Steppenwolf-Benefit-Event">&nbsp;Joan Allen</a> and<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-14/daily-rehearsal-steppenwolf-sends-emmy-congrats-martha-plimpton-891"> Martha Plimpton</a>, both of whom were ensemble members with the company. The event will raise money for the company's Professional Leadership Program, which trains "young professionals seeking hands-on experience in theater administration, production and technology" through Steppenwolf's internships and apprenticeships. I'll be real: This sounds like something Margulies' character Alicia Florrick would be forced to go to in her "good wifing."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Performing in the play of a book they've probably never read</strong></span></span>, students that are in Chicago-area choirs will be performing at the Goodman in their 34th annual <em>A Christmas Carol</em>. They'll be doing 30-minutes of singing holiday tunes before the show starts; it would be wise to avoid catching up on your holiday shopping downtown before the show, as that's a lot of the same stuff and I've read it can make you go crazy. It opens November 18; the participating schools are Barrington High, Benet Academy, Walter Payton, Lincoln Park,&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Denis O'Hare won't be <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-15/daily-rehearsal-offensive-comments-about-not-vulgar-enough-musical-">one of the crazies at<em> The Homerathon</em></a></strong></span></span>, but he will be doing<em> An Iliad</em> at the Public Theatre in New York, after talks to come back to Chicago for a variety of plays, including Court's production of the show,<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ott-1118-jones-loop-20111116,0,6238510.story"> fell through</a> because of his TV schedule.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 18:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-17/daily-rehearsal-good-wife-actually-comes-chicago-94149