WBEZ | theater http://www.wbez.org/tags/theater Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Drawing a line on where guns can be drawn http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-10/morning-shift-drawing-line-where-guns-can-be-drawn <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gun - Flickr - phoosh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today we take on the the gun debate and how a line may be drawn at certain locations. Where do you think guns should not be banned? Then, Chris Jones and Chris Vire give us a preview on plays and musicals Chicago theaters are planning to let grace their stages.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-61/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-61.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-61" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Drawing a line on where guns can be drawn" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 10 Sep 2013 08:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-10/morning-shift-drawing-line-where-guns-can-be-drawn Chicago play takes on celebrity culture http://www.wbez.org/chicago-play-takes-celebrity-culture-107744 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/tomkatproject_photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Six actors file into a black-box theater dressed all in black.&nbsp;</p><p>Julie Dahlinger, who portrays Hollywood star Katie Holmes, acts out verbatim dialogue from a Seventeen magazine interview, as her overprotective family from Toledo, Ohio, tells the audience how Holmes got the leading role in the late 90s teen drama<em> Dawson&rsquo;s Creek</em>.</p><p>Walt Delaney, as a scrawnier version of Cruise, is heartbroken after the end of his relationship with Spanish actress Penelope Cruz. He&rsquo;s always had bad luck with women, Cruise and his agent explain, and he blames it on his abusive father.</p><p>These quick-paced vignettes kick off <em>The TomKat Project</em>, a two-act play that takes on the most public of Hollywood relationships: the marriage and divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (known as TomKat in the tabloids).</p><p>The satirical play isn&rsquo;t just trying to be funny. <em>The TomKat Project</em> is trying to send a message about our obsession with celebrity.</p><p>The different characters in the play &ndash; 54 in total &ndash; are played by seven actors. One moment, an actress is playing Nicole Kidman. The next, she&rsquo;s playing Oprah for the public revelation of the TomKat relationship that comes, of course, through the infamous couch-jumping incident.</p><p>This world of celebrity gossip is all too familiar to the play&rsquo;s writer and narrator, Brandon Ogborn. He&rsquo;s an improv actor and aspiring TV and film writer with encyclopedic knowledge of the movie business. Tabloid chatter is like a newsfeed for his career.</p><p>But when news of the TomKat relationship flooded every media outlet, he got drawn into it as entertainment, like so many of us do.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll have, like, Yasmina Reza plays in my bag and instead of reading those while I&rsquo;m waiting somewhere, I&rsquo;ll be reading <em>US</em> magazine about Tom and Katie,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>When Ogborn started writing a play about TomKat, he thought the couple would make good comedy. The eerie Scientology rumors that surrounded the TomKat relationship gave Ogborn plenty of material to work with.</p><p>The TomKat Project is complete with humorous reenactments of auditing sessions, the routine therapeutic meetings in Scientology in which Cruise supposedly revealed very personal details to fellow church members. Ogborn made David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology, one of the main characters in the play.</p><p>But halfway through writing it, Ogborn had a realization that changed his approach to his subject: He started to question why 14-year-old girls and 45-year-old women end up having opinions about things like TomKat and Justin Bieber&rsquo;s haircut. And Ogborn realized he was making the same mistake as some of the public&mdash;he was buying into a tabloid version of events that probably wasn&rsquo;t true, or at least was greatly exaggerated.</p><p>&ldquo;You might be an A-hole for thinking what you&rsquo;ve read in tabloids over the years is true about these people, and about most other human beings that happen to have jobs in film and television and also happen to be attractive,&rdquo; Ogborn said.</p><p>Ogborn takes that dilemma onstage in the second act, as he plays himself. He shows himself as the narrator and writer of <em>The TomKat Project</em>, questioning why he believes what he reads in the tabloids and why he even wrote a play about the VIP couple in the first place.</p><p>He physically tussles with the character of Maureen Orth (played by Allison Yolo), the Vanity Fair contributor who wrote a controversial cover story about TomKat last year. Ogborn accuses Orth of trying to make a name for herself by writing about celebrities. She accuses him of trying to turn lowbrow nonfiction into highbrow theater. Ogborn escorts her out of the theater.</p><p>Ironically, Ogborn himself is making a name out of writing about famous people. The play sold out most of its run at Lakeview&rsquo;s Playground Theater, and took the stage last weekend at Just for Laughs Chicago. Now it&rsquo;s heading to Second City&rsquo;s UP Comedy Club on June 20, then moving on to New York&rsquo;s Fringe Festival in August.</p><p>A DePaul University sociology professor who specializes in celebrity culture doesn&rsquo;t share Ogborn&rsquo;s conflicted feelings on dishing about them. Deena Weinstein recognizes the stars are easy targets&mdash;she calls writing a play on the TomKat relationship &ldquo;kind of like shooting fish in a barrel.&rdquo;</p><p>But she says gossip about other people is a tradition that goes way back in time, and she sees meaning in it.</p><p>&ldquo;When we lived in small societies, we could gossip about people we know. Living in the metropolitan area, we don&rsquo;t know very many people about whom we can gossip but we all feel we know celebrities,&rdquo; Weinstein said.</p><p>She said many people today are increasingly isolated. They live farther from their families, and they may have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but only know a few of them well.</p><p>Weinstein says talking about Hollywood stars can provide a false sense of intimacy, and that can help some people feel less isolated.</p><p><em>Diana Buendía is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/buendiag" target="_blank">@buendiag</a></em></p></p> Tue, 18 Jun 2013 09:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/chicago-play-takes-celebrity-culture-107744 A Chicago tourist's guide to New York theater awards season (and the occasional museum) http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2013-05/chicago-tourists-guide-new-york-theater-awards-season-and-occasional <p><p>A five-day visit to New York.&nbsp; Six shows, half good and half not-so.&nbsp; Three museums.&nbsp; Some of this is utterly evanescent; some will come to Chicago if you&#39;re patient; but some of it requires you to jump on a plane and go.&nbsp; Herewith a guide to your trip.</p><p><u><strong>What to see:</strong></u></p><p><em>Pippin</em> at the Music Box.&nbsp; There are plenty of people whose first response to the revival of <em>Pippin</em> was, &quot;Oh, I hate that show!&quot; but I&#39;ve always loved it.&nbsp; (No one is neutral.)&nbsp;&nbsp; The Broadway revival, faced with the challenge of eradicating otherwise ineradicable memories of Ben Vereen doing Bob Fosse&#39;s dances, makes two major changes to the original: Vereen&#39;s role is played by a woman (the excellent Patina Miller), and much of Fosse&#39;s athletic choreography gives way to actual acrobatics created by circus artist Gypsy Snider, including tumbling, trapeze, contortionism and human pyramids.&nbsp; This makes wonderful thematic sense, as the titular character spends the entire show seeking thrills.&nbsp; With superb performances by all concerned (a special nod to almost-certain-Tony-winner Andrea Martin as Pippin&#39;s remarkably nimble grandmother), director Diana Paulus&#39;s production should satisfy novices and <em>Pippin</em> cultists alike.&nbsp; Most likely it will play on Broadway until we&#39;re all as old as Granny, but the producers have just announced that it will begin a national tour in Denver in a few months.&nbsp; Presumably Chicago will either be one of the subsequent stops or will get a sit-down production of its own--in which case all those hours local performers spend on trampolines at the Actors&#39; Gym will finally come in handy. Magic to do, indeed.&nbsp; Open run.</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/RS7283_3macbeth-4_3_rx383_c540x380.JPG" title="Alan Cumming in Macbeth on Broadway (Getty Images)" /></div><p><u><strong>What to see if you can get there before July 14:</strong></u></p><p><em>Macbeth</em> at the Ethel Barrymore.&nbsp; Alan Cumming, whose reinvention of the MC in a revived <em>Cabaret</em> first brought him to the attention of American audiences, now reinvents an even more familiar figure, or rather figures: in a balls-to-the-wall performance of a lifetime he plays not just Macbeth but every other character in the play.&nbsp; Cumming is persuasive in every role, including the foundational one of a patient in a mental hospital whose recital of the play&#39;s text seems designed to enact or expunge some guilt of his own.&nbsp; It&#39;s a feat of acting, to be sure, as Cumming goes from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth simply by wrapping a blanket around his shoulders; but more, it&#39;s a feat of interpretation by Cumming and directors John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg.&nbsp; <em>Macbeth</em> often seems like a play about a singular incident experienced by singularly amoral and ambitious characters.&nbsp; Here, though, Macbeth is Everyman and -woman, experiencing &quot;tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow&quot; as an endless repetition of today--as do we all.&nbsp; And when the last line of the production is the same as the first--&quot;When will we three meet again?&quot; asked of the patient&#39;s two keepers--the play&#39;s universality is sealed.&nbsp; Cumming, familiar to many as Chicago fixer Eli Gold on television&#39;s <em>The Good Wife</em>, reverts onstage to variations on his native Scots accent to convey a preening Duncan, a resentful Banquo, a bereaved Macduff.&nbsp; And he does it with such conviction that when I remember the scene in which Macbeth and his Lady make love, I picture two actors on the stage--because how is it possible there could be only one?&nbsp; Get thee to New York before Bastille Day if humanly possible; if not, pray to the theater gods that he takes the show on tour next summer.</p><p><u><strong>What you hope you&#39;ll get a chance to see:</strong></u></p><p><em>On Your Toes</em> at City Center.&nbsp; The Encores! series unearths little-done musicals and revives them for 5-day runs.&nbsp; Ostensibly, these are staged readings, whose actors have book in hand; but at least for this production it&#39;s accent on the &quot;staged.&quot;&nbsp; In fact, the production was fully choreographed, by director Warren Carlyle in the first act and by George Balanchine in the second, and danced with precision by a company including principals of the New York City Ballet as well as musical comedy actors.&nbsp; Rogers and Hart&#39;s 1936 musical concerns a tap-dancing music teacher, an unappreciated composer, and their efforts to put up a show called &quot;Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,&quot; a show which consists of Balanchine&#39;s jazz-inflected ballet about a gangster and a chorus girl named Lola.&nbsp; (Is that where Barry Manilow got the idea?)&nbsp; The ballet moved from Broadway into the classical dance canon and has never moved back, til now.&nbsp; It&#39;s a perfect coda to the musical, and makes a marvelous contrast with the Act I finale, a send-up of modern dancing crossed with baggy-pants pratfalls which had the audience gasping with laughter.&nbsp; As the dance diva from hell via Russia, ballerina Irina Dvorovenko shows a real gift for comedy as well as flawless ballet chops.&nbsp; Yes, it&#39;s cruel to describe such a marvelous show and then point out that it can&#39;t be seen anywhere; but Encores! productions have occasionally led to full-scale revivals, and <em>On Your Toes</em> certainly deserves to join that storied group.&nbsp; Closed, but not forgotten: perhaps it will do a pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago.</p><p><u><strong>What not to bother with:</strong></u></p><p><em>Nikolai and the Others</em> at Lincoln Center.&nbsp; I went to see Richard Nelson&#39;s play, though I&#39;m not a fan of his historical dramas, because it was&nbsp; directed by Chicago&#39;s David Cromer, whose production of <em>Our Town</em> here and in New York was considered so revelatory.&nbsp; But there&#39;s nothing Cromer or any other director could do with this text, whose central conceit is that George Balanchine, Igor Stravinsky and a dozen other Russian emigres meet for a weekend in the country while Messrs. B. and S. are working on &quot;The Firebird.&quot;&nbsp; They&#39;ve all worked together or been married to one another or both, and one of them is wheezing so hard you know he&#39;s the Act I loaded gun which must go off in Act II.&nbsp; But adherence to Chekhov&#39;s law of stagecraft and minute attention to boring Russians aren&#39;t enough to turn this into Chekhov.&nbsp; We start off not knowing or caring about these people and end up the same way, even as they create what we know is a lasting work of art.&nbsp; The best moments come from the two New York City Ballet dancers whose rehearsals of &quot;Firebird&quot; convey the excitement of creation.&nbsp; The rest of the play just lies there like cold blini.&nbsp; I did, however, enjoy hearing the characters rag Balanchine about choreographing for Broadway (&quot;Of course, that&#39;s where the money is&quot;), knowing they&#39;re inveighing against &quot;Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.&quot;&nbsp; Through June 16.</p><p><em>The Big Knife</em> at the Roundabout&#39;s American Airlines Theater.&nbsp; This late Clifford Odets work is a naked piece of autobiographical special pleading, in which Odets portrays Hollywood as a monster destroying the morals and lives of otherwise good men.&nbsp; No doubt that&#39;s what it felt like to him as he spent years out there producing not too much and drinking himself to death; but, as a friend once said about Arthur Miller&#39;s equally autobiographical <em>After The Fall</em>, &quot;Why should I pay to listen to his therapy?&nbsp; He should pay me!&quot;&nbsp; Portraying a movie star whose guilty secret keeps him in thrall to the studio, Bobby Cannavale gets nothing to do but whine, though he can be an exciting performer who holds his own with Steve Buscemi and Michael Shannon on tv&#39;s <em>Boardwalk Empire</em>.&nbsp; But neither his character&#39;s secret nor the struggle with his conscience engages the audience in the slightest, and by the time he too submits to Chekhov&#39;s law we&#39;re wondering why the homesick playwright didn&#39;t just go home.&nbsp; Through June 2.</p><p><em>The Nance</em> at the Lyceum.&nbsp; Less a play than a showcase for Nathan Lane, Douglas Carter Beane&#39;s play concerns a performer in the twilight of burlesque whose specialty is &quot;pansy,&quot; exaggerated effeminacy shot through with double-entendres about homosexuality.&nbsp; Despite its fidelity to original routines from vaudeville (Ever wondered about that Three Stooges &quot;Niagara Falls&quot; bit?&nbsp; Or Austin Powers&#39;s &quot;Oh, be-have!&quot;?), the play is full of anachronisms, importing a Stonewall consciousness into the New Deal.&nbsp; Lane&#39;s thoroughly unpleasant character, a self-hating Republican gay man named Chauncey Miles, stands up for his right to perform &quot;pansy&quot; in a courtroom sequence straight out of <em>Philadelphia</em>.&nbsp; The lover he meets in a demi-monde automat (the charming Jonni Orsini) is completely at ease with his own gay identity and just wants to settle down and play house with Chauncey.&nbsp; Then one character wonders aloud, &quot;In 80 years, who&#39;s going to be wondering how to pay for Social Security?&quot;&nbsp; (Big laugh.)&nbsp; Beane succumbs repeatedly to the temptation to comment on his characters, so we never for a minute mistake them for actual people.&nbsp; Lane may well get a Tony (though go, Tracy Letts!) but even his skill can&#39;t save <em>The Nance</em>.&nbsp; Open run.</p><p><u><strong>The Visual Arts</strong></u></p><p>Of museums I can report:</p><ul><li>MoMA&#39;s not-so-new-anymore building has the worst people-circulation of any major museum so if there was something to see I couldn&#39;t find it;</li><li>The Neue Galerie, at which Ronald Lauder stashes his Klimt paintings, has a permanent collection consisting mostly of line-drawings (by Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kolkoschka) of women masturbating; and</li><li>The Metropolitan Museum has an amazing video/photography exhibit and an equally amazing painting exhibit, the latter of which comes to the Art Institute next month.</li></ul><p>The photography/video exhibit, &quot;Street&quot; by James Nares, at first appears to be a simple pan by a video camera across still photos of outdoor spaces in New York.&nbsp; Gradually, though, you realize the photos aren&#39;t still--they&#39;re slow-motion, taken with the kind of camera used to capture images of hummingbirds in flight.&nbsp; For more than an hour you sit watching the continuous pan across crowd after crowd, with people flicking cigarettes and kissing and picking their noses and crossing the street, all verrrrrrrry slowwwwwwly, and it&#39;s utterly mesmerizing, especially as set to music by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.&nbsp; The main exhibit is flanked by stills Nares found influential, and they include both motion-capture nature photography and shots of New York streets by Steichen and Steiglitz and Strand.&nbsp; More cruelty: the exhibit closes this weekend and there are no plans to re-open it anywhere else; but there&#39;s <a href="http://www.jamesnares.com/index.cfm/film-video/street/">a video clip on the artist&#39;s site</a>.</p><p>&quot;Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity&quot; is an assemblage of Impressionist paintings featuring people in fancy clothes.&nbsp; That sounds like an artificial basis for an exhibit but in fact the highly intelligent wall commentary explains how the portraits helped create and then chronicle the fin-de-[19th]-siecle Parisian middle class.&nbsp; Manet, Courbet and Degas paintings stand next to the original dresses in which their models were clothed.&nbsp; One entire room is dedicated to the significance of white gowns, another to black, and several rooms display the dandification of men that went hand-in-glove with widespread prosperity.&nbsp; It&#39;s an illuminating as well as beautiful exhibit which closes this weekend in New York and reopens June 26 at the Art Institute, where it will run through September 22.&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 26 May 2013 13:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2013-05/chicago-tourists-guide-new-york-theater-awards-season-and-occasional No misprint: The New Regal Theater is on sale for $100,000 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-05/no-misprint-new-regal-theater-sale-100000-107186 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/_1010692.jpg" style="float: right;" title="" />The New Regal Theater &mdash; the 86-year-old South Side showplace that is one of the city&#39;s finest remaining examples of vintage movie palace architecture &mdash; is for sale. Asking price: $100,000.</p><p>A city landmark, the theater is being sold by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation which took ownership in 2011 after the bank holding the building&#39;s mortgage failed.</p><p>An FDIC spokesman said the New Regal, 1645 E. 79th St., had been under contract for $99,000, but the deal fell through and the theater has been placed &nbsp;back on the market.</p><p>The FDIC is responsible for the big building&#39;s upkeep &mdash; a motivating factor behind the cut-rate price. Chicago&#39;s U.S. Equities is <a href="http://www.usequities.com/dl/nrt_flr_1211.pdf" target="_blank">handling the listing</a>, but representatives from the company did not return phone calls seeking comment.</p><p>The New Regal has been closed since 2010 and faces some big-ticket repairs. According to the city&#39;s inspection reports, violations include &quot;severe structural damage&quot; on the building&#39;s four corners, each of which are &quot;are separating from building structure.&quot; In addition, the building has been cited for having dangerously loose and missing terra cotta, washed-out mortar, potentially unstable chimneys and more.</p><p>The conditions prompted Landmarks Illinois to place the theater on its &quot;Ten Most Endangered Places&quot; list back in 2011. Preservation Chicago followed suit a year later. The New Regal&#39;s exterior and interior are under city landmark protection.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/_1010667.jpg" title="" />A spokesman for the Department of Housing and Economic Development said the agency believes the low sale price is potentially good, given the building&#39;s condition.</p><p>&quot;It would enable a potential buy to invest more into the building than into the acquisition cost,&quot; said department spokesman Peter Strazzabosco.</p><p>Even with its problems, the New Regal is in far better condition than the landmark Uptown Theater which sold for $3.2 million in 2008. The Uptown, 4816 N. Broadway, bears the scars of 30 years of decay, vacancy and disuse &mdash;&nbsp;its owners believe it could take as much as $40 million to restore the place (WBEZ&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/mayor-emanuel-uptown-music-district-all-talk-no-action-107218">Jim DeRogatis recently</a>&nbsp;pegged the number at upwards of $70 million) &mdash;&nbsp;while the New Regal interior remains quite the showplace as photographer Matt Lambros documented in <a href="http://afterthefinalcurtain.net/2012/08/23/avalon-new-regal-theatre-2/" target="_blank">these spectacular images</a>&nbsp;from 2012.</p><p>Designed by John Eberson and built in 1927 as the Avalon Theater, the dazzling Moorish style building was inspired by an intricate metal Persian incense burner Eberson found in a Royal Street antique store in New Orleans.</p><p>The 2500-seat movie theater could also accommodate live shows. In 1985, the theater was later purchased by Soft Sheen products founder Ed Gardner and his wife Bettiann. The restored theater re-opened as the New Regal &nbsp;in 1987, in honor of the legendary Regal Theater, 47th and King Drive, that was demolished in 1973. The theater has had subsequent ownership since.</p></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-05/no-misprint-new-regal-theater-sale-100000-107186 Robert Sickinger dies, brought grassroots theater to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/robert-sickinger-dies-brought-grassroots-theater-chicago-107108 <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/sickinger.jpg" style="height: 374px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo via bobsickinger.com)" /></div><p>When Robert Sickinger came to Chicago in the early 1960s, Chicago had great theater. But most of it - think The Goodman Theater - was largely confined to the Loop.</p><p>Sickinger, who died Thursday at the age of 86, was hired to be the director of the Hull House Theater, on Chicago&rsquo;s North side. When he arrived in 1963, the theater was still at the corner of Broadway Street and Belmont Avenue - the building&rsquo;s an athletic club now.</p><p>Donna Marie Schwan was Sickinger&rsquo;s assistant, and, eventually, his friend.</p><p>She said Sickinger, along with Paul Jans, the new executive director of Hull House, were looking to the past to do something new in theater.</p><p>&ldquo;They were basically trying to do something like what Jane Addams originally had in the community. So he went out in the community and had open auditions. I mean, sort of the original &lsquo;Chicago&rsquo;s Got Talent&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p><p>Those open auditions not only drew people who wouldn&rsquo;t otherwise have the opportunity or venue in which to perform or sing, they were a pipeline to Chicago&rsquo;s talented actors. Through them, Sickinger uncovered talents like actor Mike Nussbaum and Jim Jacobs, who eventually wrote Grease.</p><p>Those are some of the same people who went on to build Chicago&rsquo;s network of neighborhood theaters, to create spaces like Steppenwolf. And that, said Schwan, is how Sickinger transformed the city&rsquo;s theater scene.</p><p>Schwan said &ldquo;He basically brought grassroots theater to Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>At Hull House, Sickinger developed a reputation for his fresh adaptations of classic plays.</p><p>But he was also known for the number of contemporary works he staged. Playwrights like Edward Albee, Eugene Ionesco, Harold Pinter and LeRoi Jones had Chicago premieres thanks to Sickinger.</p><p>Sickinger&rsquo;s tenure in Chicago was brief. He left for New York in 1969, after things went awry at Hull House. At the time of his death, he and his family were living between New York and Florida.</p><p>But Schwan said Sickinger&rsquo;s influence can still be seen in places like The Goodman Theater.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago was very formal culturally. And what he did is he said &lsquo;let&rsquo;s bring in these wonderful works, these new works that are being done by our contemporaries, and see what they look like when they do them.&rsquo; And that was a phenomenon.&rdquo;</p><p>Still Schwan thinks his greatest gift was his ability to inspire everyone - theater owners, actors, and regular people like herself.</p><p>&ldquo;What happens when you create that kind of inspiration, where people have that kind of opportunity, it&rsquo;s an energy that is irreplaceable, you can&rsquo;t get that kind of energy going. That&rsquo;s why these tv shows about auditioning and talent are so popular, because people are discovering themselves and what they can do in a way they otherwise would never have had.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 15:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/robert-sickinger-dies-brought-grassroots-theater-chicago-107108 Encuentro con los Artistas: Pedro Páramo http://www.wbez.org/amplified/about/encuentro-con-los-artistas-pedro-p%C3%A1ramo-106208 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/NMMA-Goodman_March17-panel1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Flora Lauten y Raquel Carrío, extraordinarias innovadoras de La Habana, ponen en escena una de las obras de mayor importancia dentro del realismo mágico de la literatura latinoamericana&mdash;<em>Pedro Páramo</em>, novela de Juan Rulfo escrita en 1955. La historia cuenta de un hijo que regresa a casa a conocer a su padre y revela la manera en la que la ambición sin límites de un hombre destruyó todo lo que amaba y al igual el pueblo que le dio el triunfo.<br /><br /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F84217143&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><br /><br />En Chicago, se hará historia, con el estreno mundial de PEDRO PÁRAMO, una producción comisionada por el Goodman Theatre, y el MCA Chicago. La obra, fue desarrollada por Teatro Buendía, la compañía de teatro independiente más aclamada de Cuba, con artistas locales a través de una residencia de ocho semanas en Chicago y La Habana, Cuba.<br /><br />El elenco cubano está integrado por los actores Dania Aguerreberez, Alejandro Alfonzo, Ivanesa Cabrera, Carlos Cruz e Indira Valdéz, y el músico Jomary Hechavarra.<br /><br />Los actores de Chicago son; Charín Álvarez, Steve Casillas, Laura Crotte y Sandra Delgado.<br /><br />Como músicos participan Victor y Zacbe Pichardo, de la agrupación Sones de México.</p><p><strong id="internal-source-marker_0.11533360672183335">Esta grabación la podrán escuchar&nbsp;&nbsp;a través&nbsp;de Vocalo 90.7 FM el próximo Domingo, 24 de Marzo, a la 12&nbsp;pm, medio dia.</strong></p><div><span>La platica fue moderada por <strong>María Inés Zamudio</strong>, reportera de la publicación periodística, the Chicago Reporter, y en el panel participó, <strong>Henry Godinez</strong>, asociado de dirección artística en el Goodman Theater, la directora y fundadora del Teatro Buendía, <strong>Flora Lauten</strong>, la dramaturga <strong>Raquel Carrió</strong>, y <strong>Victor Pichardo</strong>, músico de la agrupación, Sones de Mexico.&nbsp;</span></div><p>La obra, Pedro Páramo, se estrena el 22 de Marzo, 2013. Para más informes visite <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/" target="_blank">Goodmantheatre.org</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 21 Mar 2013 12:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/amplified/about/encuentro-con-los-artistas-pedro-p%C3%A1ramo-106208 David Mamet’s Chicago roots http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/david-mamet%E2%80%99s-chicago-roots-105696 <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/david%20mamet%20AP%20small.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Playwright David Mamet grew up on Chicago’s South Side. (AP)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80405306&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Recently I saw <a href="https://twitter.com/marcatracy/status/238700366554857474">a tweet that referrenced &ldquo;Zosia Mamet&rsquo;s dad&rdquo;</a> &ndash; as in &ldquo;Zosia Mamet&rsquo;s dad David is rebooting &lsquo;Have Gun &ndash; Will Travel.&rsquo; &ldquo;</p><p>No. Just, no. I like her depiction of Shoshanna as much as the next <em>Girls</em> fan, and very much enjoyed the younger Mamet&rsquo;s semi-recurring role as Peggy&rsquo;s lesbian friend on <em>Mad Men</em>, but until Zosia writes <em>Glengarry Glen Ross</em> or <em>The Postman Never Rings Twice</em> she&rsquo;s still David Mamet&rsquo;s daughter to me.</p><p>Anyway, add this to the list of things younger members of the Twitterverse might not know about David Mamet: The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright grew up in Chicago.</p><p>Mamet started his life in Hyde Park at 53<sup>rd</sup> and Dorchester and later moved to South Shore. As a teenager he went to high school at Francis Parker in Lincoln Park, and used the city as his own personal playground: &nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><em>In those days, being a young kid in the &lsquo;50s, nobody knew where you went. Your parents didn&rsquo;t know; they didn&rsquo;t care. You just took the &ldquo;L&rdquo; and went to Comisky Park, you took the &ldquo;L&rdquo; and went to Wrigley Field. You just went everywhere, and you would explore the city.</em></p><p><em>I remember as a young kid I would crawl over the girders at the top of the Prudential Building, which wasn&rsquo;t yet complete. We used to crawl up the Museum of Science and Industry, up among the caryatids. We&rsquo;d crawl up to that level 40 feet off the ground and spend the whole day walking around, clinging to the outside.</em></p></blockquote><p>Mamet even has his own memories of Chicago&rsquo;s old Riverview amusement park, which he said &ldquo;always just wreaked of danger and sex,&rdquo; and which Curious City <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/laugh-your-troubles-away-105619">took a look at earlier this week</a>.</p><p>In 2006, Mamet sat down with another Chicagoan reliably full of delicious memories &ndash; WBEZ&rsquo;s own <em>Afternoon Shift</em> host Rick Kogan &ndash; to reminisce about the direct and lingering effect the city had on his life and work. You can hear a snapshot of Mamet shooting the sh*t with his old friend Rick in the audio above.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s"><em>Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</em></a>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Rick Kogan and David Mamet spoke at an event presented by Chicago Public Library in October of 2006. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/author-series-david-mamet"><em>here</em></a></u></em><em>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Follow Robin Amer on Twitter</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 23 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/david-mamet%E2%80%99s-chicago-roots-105696 María Irene Fornés returns to NYC but custody struggle continues http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-02/mar%C3%ADa-irene-forn%C3%A9s-returns-nyc-custody-struggle-continues-105600 <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/RS7035_irene.jpg" style="float: right; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="María Irene Fornés (from Fornés Facebook page)" />María Irene Fornés has gained three pounds in the last two weeks.</div><p>Not a big deal, or maybe a big deal in some quarters, but for one of the greatest living English-language playwrights, those three pounds are a very good sign.</p><p>&quot;If you made a list of the most influential English language playwrights of the 20th Century, it seems to me you have the vein of writers who descend from Beckett (his lineage includes Pinter, Mamet, Churchill), the poetic naturalists like O&#39;Neill and Williams, all the various kinds of expressionists, and then there is Fornés,&rdquo; said Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, who was mentored by Fornés and is best known for his play, <em>Blind Mouth Singing</em> (staged in Chicago by Teatro Vista in 2005). &ldquo;I don&#39;t know how we get to Paula Vogel or 13P or the ethos or aesthetics of off-Broadway today without Fornés. Why she is lesser known then playwrights that she is just as important as is an interesting phenomenon and seems connected to gender and ethnic bias to be sure, but this phenomenon is also compounded by what an iconoclast she was. How difficult it is categorize her ... She is the ultimate playwright&#39;s playwright. Everyone in theater knows who she is and many are deeply influenced by her.&rdquo;</p><p>Now, finally, after years in an upstate New York nursing home close to her blood family but far from friends, former students, colleagues, and a vast and adoring support network of chosen family, Fornés, who has Alzheimer&rsquo;s, is back in New York City.</p><p>And in New York City, where she lived most of her life, her friends have organized themselves into a disciplined army of love, with a Facebook page and a Google calendar to schedule regular and continuous visits in which they sit with her, read to her, bring her gifts and treats -- all efforts that seem to be making Fornés, 83, flourish in her new home.</p><p>The move to New York, which was <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/theater-world-friends-bring-ailing-playwright-closer-to-home/">chronicled</a> by the <em>New York Times</em>, was supposed to alleviate tensions between the friends and Fornés&rsquo; family. But the battle over Fornés&rsquo; last days continues, playing out even on the <em>Times</em> story&rsquo;s comments page.</p><p>The winner of nine Obie awards for plays such as <em>Fefu and her Friends, Mud, The Conduct of Life, Manual for a Desperate Crossing</em> and <em>Letters from Cuba</em>, Fornés began having some symptoms of short term memory loss in 2000. I met her that year when she came to town to have a public conversation with Mary Zimmerman up at Northwestern. And during <a href="http://http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-04-18/features/0004180059_1_maria-irene-fornes-susan-sontag-hair">our interview</a> for the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>, she spoke openly about her recent struggles to remember.</p><p>&quot;You know, I&#39;ve never had a very good memory, but it seems now, as I&#39;m getting older, I still remember things, but not for as long,&quot; she told me over lunch.</p><p>The following year, we were on faculty together (along with Junot Díaz, Danny Hoch, David Unger and Cortiñas) for a U.S.-Cuba exchange program called Writers of the Americas. Cortiñas, the performance artist Tania Bruguera, a local writer and I spent a lovely afternoon walking through the town of Matanzas with Fornés in a dreamy sweet state. Technically, Cortiñas was there as her assistant, but in fact, he was more of an anchor.</p><p>By 2006, Fornés was no longer able to function on her own and custody was granted to her nephew, David Lapinel.</p><p>&quot;After custody was awarded, Irene lived with her sister&rsquo;s family for a while, but when her sister became ill as well, David Lapinel placed her in a home in nearby Oneanta,&rdquo; said Morgan Jenness, Fornés&rsquo; agent at the Helen Merrill Agency since 1997, when Merrill, Fornés longtime agent, died. &ldquo;The idea was that it was close to the upstate family and that there could be frequent visitations and also visits to her family for the holidays, etc. This did happen, I think, for about a year or so. However, (around) 2008-2009 there were decreasing visitations, and it became clear that aspects of the guardianship were not being properly maintained&hellip; At one point, another brother, Dean, wrote to the court outlining all the issues which were not being taken care of and tried to garner custody &ndash; but he was deemed not appropriate &ndash; or ignored &ndash; it&rsquo;s hard to say.&rdquo;</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s hard not to see here that old privileging of biological families over chosen families,&rdquo; Cortiñas said. &ldquo;It makes me worry about how queer artists fare when they get older and (more) vulnerable. Irene was single, unmarried and had no children when her dementia began. Her mother was dead. Her sister was ill. Her sister&#39;s children were given custody.&rdquo;</p><p>Jenness and others tried to get friends and chosen family to visit Fornés upstate, but those three and a half hours it took to drive up were insurmountable for most. Then David Lapinel asked that Fornés be put on &ldquo;comfort care&rdquo; when she stopped eating, which Jenness describes as basically &ldquo;being allowed to starve to death.&rdquo;</p><p>&quot;(This was) without an ethics committee hearing and against objections from us and other members of the family,&rdquo; Jenness said. &ldquo;This would have meant a quick passage.&rdquo;</p><p>Tipped off by Jenness and others, friends made the trek.</p><p>&quot;What happened (no surprise) is that she rallied and blossomed from being visited and so the situation changed from come and see her while she&rsquo;s still here to another last ditch attempt to get her moved closer,&rdquo; Jenness explained.</p><p>This time the efforts were helped by other family members and by a public petition that garnered nearly 3,000 signatures asking to have her moved. Two weeks ago, Fornés was finally transferred to Manhattan.</p><p>&quot;When Irene is left alone she seems to get depressed, stops eating, and starts certain compulsive actions,&rdquo; Cortiñas said. &ldquo;For example, upstate she started scratching her face so continuously that small scabs formed. While she doesn&#39;t seem to recognize anybody, she does respond to touch, affection, music. And there are sparks of that old world, whimsical personality we all loved. She doesn&#39;t speak much, but still says &lsquo;thank you&rsquo; and &lsquo;please&rsquo; when she does.&rdquo;</p><p>And there are those three pounds. And reports of smiles at the sound of salsa music. And winks. And flirting.</p><p>All very good, very beautiful things.</p></p> Tue, 19 Feb 2013 09:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-02/mar%C3%ADa-irene-forn%C3%A9s-returns-nyc-custody-struggle-continues-105600 Chicago's rising stars http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/chicagos-rising-stars-104952 <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/beth%20stelling.jpg" title="Chicago-based comedienne Beth Stelling performs stand-up on a July 2012 episode of 'Conan.' (TBS)" /></div><p>As I watched Tina Fey and Amy Poehler <a href="http://jezebel.com/5975641/tina-fey-and-amy-poehler-kill-it-during-the-golden-globes-opening">kill it</a> as co-hosts of the Golden Globes on Sunday, I was reminded of how they got their start in Chicago over 20 years ago. They met while taking classes at Improv Olympics, immediately bonded over Tina&#39;s recent discovery of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vulture.com/2013/01/history-of-tina-and-amys-best-friendship.html">eyebrow waxing</a> and formed the improv comedy troupe &ldquo;Inside Vladmir&rdquo; shortly thereafter. Fey went on to Second City, and Poehler took the Upright Citizen&rsquo;s Brigade to New York. Then SNL came calling, and the rest is history.</p><p>Of course, Second City has a legendary track record of producing comic greats: John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Steve Carrell and <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-091204-second-city-famous-alumni-pictures,0,3772688.photogallery">many more</a>.&nbsp;Other famous actors who honed their skills in the Chicago theatre scene include Gary Sinise, Jane Lynch, David Schwimmer, Laurie Metcalf and John Malkovich.&nbsp;</p><p>Now, a new group of rising stars has given Hollywood reason to take notice.&nbsp;Here is my list of the top Chicago-based actors and comedians poised for career breakthroughs in 2013:&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Katherine Cunningham.jpg" title="(Katherine Cunningham)" /><strong>Katherine Cunningham</strong></p><p>As an alumna of Conant High School in Elk Grove Village, Cunningham has played a variety of roles on stage, television and film. Her long list of credits includes&nbsp;<em>Detriot 1-8-7</em>,&nbsp;<em>The Playboy Club</em>,&nbsp;<em>Shameless</em>, <em>The Mob Doctor</em>,&nbsp;<em>Chicago Fire&nbsp;</em>and the Michael P. Noens&nbsp;film <em>Two Days in February</em>. Cunningham most recently appeared on MTV&#39;s <em>Underemployed</em> as Natalie,&nbsp;the love interest of lead character Sophia (Michelle Ang).&nbsp;Next&nbsp;up: <em>Johnson</em>, a film co-starring Cam Gigandet (<em>Twilight</em>, <em>Easy A</em>) set to premiere in 2013.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Joe Minoso.jpg" title="(Joe Minoso)" /><strong>Joe Minoso</strong></p><p>Minoso is a graduate of Nothern Illinois University and a veteran of the Chicago theatre scene, performing with such revered companies as the Goodman, Victory Gardens, Writer&#39;s Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare. In addition to serving as the associate artistic director at Teatro Vista, he has appeared in several Chicago-filmed television shows, including <em>Boss</em>, <em>The Chicago Code</em>, <em>Shameless</em>, <em>The Beast&nbsp;</em>and <em>Prison Break</em>. His current role, the tough but lovable driver Joe Cruz on NBC&#39;s <em>Chicago Fire</em>, is his best yet.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tawny Newsome.jpg" title="(Tawny Newsome)" /><strong>Tawny Newsome</strong></p><p>As an ensemble member of Second City&#39;s <a href="http://www.centerstagechicago.com/theatre/theatres/second-etc.html">e.t.c. Theatre</a>, Newsome brings the laughs and an added bonus of top-notch theatre training. Before joining the cast in 2012, she graduated from DuPaul&#39;s Theatre School and went on to win rave reviews for her performances at Chicago Shakespeare, Writer&#39;s Theater, Victory Gardens and American Theatre Company. Newsome is an accomplished singer as well, lending her voice to local rock bands Jon Langford and Skull Orchard, The Dirty Rooks, and This Must Be the Band (Chicago&#39;s only Talking Heads tribute). Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones named her one of &quot;10 new faces you should know&quot; in 2012, and her future only looks brighter from here.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Michael Sanchez.jpg" title="(Michael Sanchez)" /><strong>Michael Sanchez</strong></p><p>Currently one of the driving forces behind Chicago&#39;s &quot;Comedians You Should Know,&quot; Sanchez studied improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York before moving to the Windy City in 2006. He has traveled all across the country performing stand-up, including Seattle&#39;s Bumbershoot and New York&#39;s Seaport Musical Festival. In addition to writing a number of award-winning comedic shorts and opening for <em>30 Rock</em>&#39;s Tracy Morgan, Sanchez is finishing up his first feature film <em>The Return of Great Guy</em>. &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Beth%20Stelling_0.jpg" style="width: 200px; height: 294px;" title="(Beth Stelling)" /><strong>Beth Stelling</strong></p><p>As Chicago&#39;s comedy It girl, Stelling did it all: studying improv at Annoyance Theatre, performing with the Chicago Underground Company, earning a 2011 Chicago Beat award nomination for Best Non-Equity play (<em>Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche</em>, which went Off-Broadway and will be published by Samuel French in 2013) and tri-hosting the popular<em>&nbsp;Entertaining Julia</em> showcase at Town Hall Pub. Since re-locating to Los Angeles in 2012, Stelling has worked with many funny people (Rob Delaney, Sarah Silverman and Kristen Schaal, to name a few) and was recently crowned #2 on <em>LA Weekly</em>&#39;s &quot;12 L.A. Comedy Acts to Watch in 2013.&quot; Check out her super-cool <a href="http://sweetbeth.com/bio">website</a> and watch her appearance on&nbsp;<em>Conan&nbsp;</em>below:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/PeeiytyThms" width="610"></iframe></p><p>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett">@leahkpickett</a></p></p> Thu, 17 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/chicagos-rising-stars-104952 And now for something completely different: Dickens! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/and-now-something-completely-different-dickens-104458 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6835_OliverSMALLER3.jpg" style="float: left; height: 585px; width: 300px;" title="Michael Semanic as Oliver Twist (Rich Foreman for Light Opera Works)" />Just when you thought you&#39;d had all the Dickens anyone could stand . . .</p><p><u><em>Dickens&#39; Women</em>, <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/">Chicago Shakespeare Theater</a>, Navy Pier, Thursday, Friday and Saturday only; 312-595-5600; tickets $50-$60.</u></p><p>Charles Dickens actually did write about women &mdash; and not just Scrooge&#39;s dead sister and his long-lost love. To prove it, British actress Miriam Margolyes presents this one-woman show in which she portrays characters from the novelist&#39;s life as well as his work. She&#39;s in town for only a flying visit though, so see it in the next few days or forever hold your peace. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. and there&#39;s also a Saturday matinee.</p><p><u><em>Oliver!</em>, <a href="http://lightoperaworks.com/">Light Opera Works</a>, Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston; opens Saturday (the 22nd) and plays through New Year&#39;s Eve; <span class="detailBody">847-869-6300; tickets $32-$92 with some half-price availability.</span></u></p><p class="detailbody">Fun facts to know and tell: Davy Jones of The Monkees&#39; fame played The Artful Dodger in the original London production of this musical based on Dickens&#39; <em>Oliver Twist</em>.&nbsp; I&#39;ve never been able to get through the novel myself, but the musical is superb; it would be worth the price of admission just to hear the vendors&#39; cries blend subtly into &quot;Who Will Buy?&quot; You can always count on Light Opera Works for top-notch singing, so this is the place to go if you love the show or if you&#39;ve never had a chance to see it. And the unrepentantly wicked Bill Sykes makes a refreshing change from that guy &mdash; what&#39;s his name? &mdash; who let a few cheesy visions change his whole perspective.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 20 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/and-now-something-completely-different-dickens-104458