WBEZ | Dueling Critics http://www.wbez.org/series/dueling-critics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Q Brothers do Dickens http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/dont-miss-list-december-13-19-inside-pritzker-pavilion-and-round <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS6807_345.unb_.th_.qbrothers.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/erQ8zJpuWVo" width="601"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><u><em>A Christmas Carol</em>, a work in progress by the Q Brothers; inside the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, tomorrow (Friday the 14th) through Sunday (the 16th); Friday and Saturday at 7, Sunday at 2; FREE!</u><p>The Q Brothers are a pair of actual brothers from the North Side who&#39;ve carved out an unlikely niche: They turn Shakespeare plays into hip-hop musicals, thereby managing to horrify both Shakespeare aficianadoes and hip-hop fans. And yet &mdash; speaking from the Shakespeare side, at least &mdash; it absolutely works. The Brothers&#39; verbal and physical inventiveness, coupled with complete understanding of the plays, made <em>The Bomb-itty of Errors</em> and <em>Funk It Up About Nuthin&#39; </em>not just fun but faithful to the originals in every way that matters.</p><p>Now they take on another classic that could use a good shaking-up: Charles Dickens&#39; nearly exhausted <em>A Christmas Carol</em>. While it&#39;s still a work in progress, the Brothers are spicing up this year&#39;s holidays by sharing their reinvention of the work we think we all know. The audience will sit safe and warm in the choir lofts of the Pritzker Pavilion stage and see what new changes can be rung on the familiar story. Believer me, if there are any changes left, the Qs will find them!&nbsp;Tickets are free, but RSVPs are strongly recommended. To RSVP, please contact <a href="mailto:qbrotherschristmas@gmail.com" target="_blank">qbrotherschristmas@gmail.com</a>.&nbsp;And when that&#39;s over . . .</p><div class="image-insert-image "><p><u><em>The Second City That Never Sleeps</em>, a benefit for Onward Neighborhood House, Tuesday (the 18th) at 6 pm at <a href="http://secondcity.com/">The Second City</a> e.t.c. Theatre, 1608 North Wells, 2nd floor; 312-337-3992; tickets $20 at the door throughout the 24-hour event.</u></p><p>The Second City may be a for-profit company (unlike most Chicago theaters) but its heart is apparently in the nonprofit world. For 24 hours beginning Tuesday evening, Second City company members, alumni and friends will present improv, music, stand-up comedy and even an interview with political stats maven (and University of Chicago graduate) Nate Silver. Proceeds will benefit Onward Neighborhood House, a broad-spectrum social service agency (or what Jane Addams would have called a settlement house). If you can&#39;t imagine rising and shining to see Fred Armisen perform at 1:30 in the morning, there are plenty of offerings at reasonable hours, including Jeff Tweedy at 9 p.m. Tuesday, the aforementioned Nate Silver at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and others too numerous to mention: find details on the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/search/results.php?q=The%20Second%20City%20That%20Never%20Sleeps&amp;init=quick&amp;tas=0.56148045176595">Second City That Never Sleeps Facebook event page</a>.</p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/dont-miss-list-december-13-19-inside-pritzker-pavilion-and-round Don't-Miss List December 6-12: Comedy Tonight! Gilda Radner lives, 'Fifty Shades' becomes a musical http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/dont-miss-list-december-6-12-comedy-tonight-gilda-radner-lives-fifty <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Gilda_Radner_actress.jpg" style="float: left; height: 405px; width: 300px;" title="Never forget: Gilda Radner (Courtesy Michael Radner)" /><u><em>Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody</em>, the <a href="http://ticketmaster.com">Royal George Theatre</a>, 1641 N. Halsted Street, 800-982-2787; through December 16; tickets $42.50-$52.50.</u></p><p>What were the chances a musical parody of <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em> would be anything more than an endless series of jokes about middle-aged women masturbating? While there are certainly plenty of those, <em>Spank!</em> is actually a hilarious satire of practically every trope in popular culture, from the conventions of Harlequin romances to the standard scenes in chick flicks. This entire enjoyable evening is performed by three improv-trained actors who handle songs, impossible dance maneuvers, ludicrous dialogue and conversations with the audience with equal ease. Perfect for a girls&#39; night out/bachelorette party/frothy evening. You don&#39;t have to have read the book to get the show &mdash; and, of course, I haven&#39;t.&nbsp;</p><p><u>Celebrating Gilda, <a href="http://secondcity.com/">Second City</a>&#39;s UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Avenue, 312-337-3992; Thursday December 6 only from 5 to 6 p.m.; free!</u></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Now that a tone-deaf group of Gilda&#39;s Clubs around the country have announced their intention to change their names because nobody remembers Gilda Radner, the Second City has decided to make it clear why people should remember her. This is not a show but a panel discussion of Gilda&#39;s influential work featuring Mainstage ensemble cast members, Second City alumni and a member of the Governing Board for Gilda&#39;s Club Chicago &mdash; whose name will remain proudly the same. Doors open at 4:45. Get there early: This group of people won&#39;t be able to help being funny.&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 06 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/dont-miss-list-december-6-12-comedy-tonight-gilda-radner-lives-fifty Don't-Miss List November 29-December 5: Two Gilbert & Sullivans, a family drama and a first-rate 'Annie' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/dont-miss-list-november-29-december-5-two-gilbert-sullivans-family <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6717_Paramount_Annie_1-scr.jpg" style="height: 474px; width: 620px;" title="'Annie' at the Paramount in Aurora (Courtesy of the theater)" /></div><p><u>The Gilbert &amp; Sullivan Reperatory, <a href="http://www.the-hypocrites.com">The Hypocrites</a> at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division; 773-989-7352; $28; runs through Jan. 13.</u><br /><br />Wildly challenging and sometimes pig-headedly wrong, The Hypocrites are never dull in their reinvention of the classics. Sometimes, however, the great works merely need to be presented and not reinvented. Ya&#39; pays yer money, ya&#39; takes yer choice. They had a super big hit last year with a version of Gilbert &amp; Sullivan&#39;s <em>The Pirates of Penzance</em> and so they&#39;re repeating it this year along with <em>The Mikado</em>, staged in rotating repertory. Company co-founder Sean Graney is the director and skilled musician/composer Kevin O&#39;Donnell has &quot;re-imagined&quot; the music. Both shows are presented in promenade style, meaning the audience and cast both move about the performance space, a presentation style which Mr. Graney often has favored. Accommodations are made for audience members with mobility issues. Also, in both shows the cast members double as musicians and performers (a trick also on display currently in <em>Failure: A Love Story</em> at Victory Gardens Theater). Fair warning: As brilliant as he can be, Mr. Graney&#39;s interpretations of the classics often are much more about Sean Graney than they are about the classic. &ndash;JA</p><p><u><em>The Feast</em>, <a href="http://propthtr.org">Prop Thtr</a>, 3502 N. Elston, 773-539-7838; $20; runs through December 16</u></p><p>This world premiere skillfully weaves a family drama set at that most family-dramatic of times, Thanksgiving day, with an examination of the way health care is meted out (or not) in this country. Though the play has a strong political view, it&#39;s never pedantic; we see politics through the eyes of the characters, whose family business is running a for-profit HMO. Director Brian Bell wrings every ounce of tension, meaning and humor out of Tony Fiorentino&#39;s script, which deserves as many productions as he can find for it. Any subsequent version would be hard-pressed, though, to match the stark beauty and eerie intensity of Joseph Lark-Riley&#39;s sets, Nevena Todorovic&#39;s costumes and Katherine Campbell&#39;s props.&nbsp;<em>The Feast</em> plays only for a few more weekends; get yourself to Elston and Addison (cati-corner from Chief O&#39;Neill&#39;s Pub) before it disappears. &ndash;KK</p><p><u><em>Annie</em>, <a href="http://paramountaurora.com/">Paramount Theatre</a>, 8 East Galena Boulevard in Aurora 630-896-6666; $34.90-$46.90; through December 30</u></p><p>If Rachel Rockwell were a man, she would long since have been recognized as a genius of musical theater.&nbsp; However belatedly, let me hail her as one now.&nbsp; Certainly it would be hard to beat her range: After directing last year&#39;s extraordinary production of <em>Sweeney Todd</em> at Drury Lane, she&#39;s turned her hand to <em>Annie</em>. I&#39;m a certified curmudgeon and was accompanied by another, and we both loved it. Gene Weygandt is such a perfect Daddy Warbucks that his abundance of hair doesn&#39;t even seem strange, and Christine Sherrill is a riotous Miss Hannigan; but when every performer is this good, credit rightly goes to the director. Rockwell gets particular kudos for directing a troupe of children (led by the able 12-year-old Caroline Heffernan in the title role) AND a dog while keeping the show wonderfully lively and treacle-free. This perfect family production even contains just enough Christmas to remind you of the season without drowning you in it. Brava, Madame Director! &nbsp;&ndash;KK</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/dont-miss-list-november-29-december-5-two-gilbert-sullivans-family Eggnog, grog and a holiday theater blog http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/eggnog-grog-and-holiday-theater-blog-103911 <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/christmas%20carol%202.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="The Goodman Theatre reprises their classic production of 'A Christmas Carol' (Courtesy of the Goodman Theatre)" /></div><p><em>Jonathan writes:&nbsp;</em></p><p>I call it &quot;the sugarplums-and-treacle time of year.&quot; Kelly calls it &quot;another chance for Jonathan to spout off.&quot;</p><p>Obviously, we&#39;re talking about the same thing: that six-week hiatus &mdash; from mid-November through the New Year&mdash; during which theaters large and small abandon art in favor of Yuletide commerce, raking in dollars with a Holiday Season show.</p><p>We know they are successful because there are more and more of them every twelfth month, and they never disappear: Just like a seasonal allergy the same shows&mdash;and generally the very same productions of them &mdash; come back year after year. Some have been around for decades now. According to our careful calculations, Chicago area theaters and dance companies are offering&nbsp;<em>no fewer than 40 Holiday Season shows</em>&nbsp;in theaters throughout the city and suburbs.</p><p>The two oldest Holiday Season theater &quot;traditions&quot; are&nbsp;<strong><em>The Nutcracker</em></strong>&nbsp;ballet danced to Tchaikovsky&#39;s ever-tasty roasted chestnut of a score, and&nbsp;<strong><em>A Christmas Carol</em></strong>. Both always are available in numerous versions presented with varying degrees of opulence and fidelity to the originals.</p><p>As far back as I can remember (and that&#39;s 60 years, rounded to the nearest decade),&nbsp;<em>The Nutcracker</em>&nbsp;has been presented as a family-friendly Holiday Season special event. For eons (it seems) it was the province of the Chicago Tribune Charities in a version staged by the late Ruth Page. However, for the last 17 years&nbsp;<em>The Nutcracker</em>&nbsp;has been owned and operated (one might say) by The Joffrey Ballet in a lavish version which even curmudgeonly critics openly can enjoy (Dec. 7-27, Auditorium Theatre). The Joffrey production features live musical accompaniment by the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra.</p><p>As for&nbsp;<em>A Christmas Carol</em>, the Mother of All Local Productions is the big one at the Goodman Theatre, now in its 35th year (through Dec. 29). The Goodman version not only is lavish but it&rsquo;s also true to the tone and spirit of Charles Dickens&#39;s 1843 novella.</p><p>Y&#39;see, Dickens didn&#39;t write&nbsp;<em>A Christmas Carol</em>&nbsp;for kids and families. His target was the adult populace who made Christmas happen, or not. It&#39;s a ghost story intended to scare the bejesus out of people or, more correctly, scare the be-Jesus back into folks at a time when Christmas, in Dickens&#39;s view, had grown crassly commercial and non-spiritual. The Goodman version is NOT suitable for very young children (say, under six or seven) because it IS scary and also because it&#39;s not short. Those who prefer a 75-minute musical reduction of the tale, suitable for wee ones, will find several of them around town.</p><p>Now that I&#39;ve gotten all of that off my chest, Ms. Kleiman and I offer some ideas of the range of Holiday Season fare available to those with varying tastes. The productions below are&nbsp;<em>far from a comprehensive list</em>. We offer merely a stuffed stocking of choices in four categories: Family-Friendly Traditional, Adult Traditional, Alternative/Weird (generally for adults) and New.</p><p><strong>Adult Traditional</strong></p><p>You don&rsquo;t have to be earnest, but these are plays about the season that will reward the un-ironic attention of grownups as well as older children.</p><p><strong><em>It&rsquo;s a Wonderful Life</em></strong>&nbsp;(x 2). After the divorce between American Theater Company and&nbsp;American Blues Theater, each got (or took) custody of this crowd-pleaser, an old-time radio script version of the famous Frank Capra film. The American Blues version is at Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre (Downtown, Nov. 23-Dec. 30). The American Theater Company&#39;s version, part of its &ldquo;Radio Rep&rdquo; (<em>The Wizard of Oz</em>&nbsp;is on deck), plays at the troupe&#39;s Northcenter location (also Nov. 23-Dec. 30) and will actually be recorded for broadcast on WBEZ. Before you take small children to either one, remember that it&rsquo;s about suicide.</p><p>The reconstituted Congo Square Theatre offers&nbsp;<strong><em>The Nativity,&nbsp;</em></strong>McKinley Johnson&rsquo;s story of the journey of Joseph and Mary, with music and lyrics by Jaret Landon. Add gospel music and modern dance and it should be a delightful evening (Kennedy-King College Theatre, Dec. 13th-23rd).</p><p>The House Theatre of Chicago, always first-rate storytellers, repeats its version of&nbsp;<strong><em>The Nutcracker</em></strong>, more closely adapted from the E.T.A. Hoffman German original about spooky magic on Christmas night (at the Chopin Theatre through Dec. 30). It has original music in it and dance, but it&#39;s NOT the traditional ballet. Not a note of Tchaikovsky to be heard. The House says it&#39;s a family show, and why not? After all, the villain is a rodent and city kids probably are used to rats.</p><p><strong>Alternative/Weird</strong></p><p>The gang at ComedySportz is offering&nbsp;<strong><em>It&#39;s a Bierberful Life</em></strong>&nbsp;(Fridays at Midnight, through Dec. 29) in which Justin is &quot;saved&quot; by an angel who looks like Robert Pattinson, and Profiles Theatre is presenting a 20th anniversary new production of Will Kern&#39;s&nbsp;<strong><em>Hellcab</em></strong>&nbsp;(Profiles mainstage through Dec. 23) in which a put-upon Chicago cabbie deals with a collection of Christmas Eve crazies, and Chemically Imbalanced Comedy stages&nbsp;<strong><em>Dirty 30&#39;s Christmas</em></strong>&nbsp;(Dec. 7-Jan.12) featuring guns, booze, dames, deadbeats, gangsters and bank robbers in Depression Era Kansas (yes, it&#39;s a comedy).</p><p>Tongue-in-cheek or outright cynical, a few alternative choices have entered the realm of Chicago holiday &quot;tradition.&quot; Consider&nbsp;<strong><em>The Santaland Diaries</em></strong>, the tart and funny reflections of David Sedaris on seasonal employment as a department store elf. It&#39;s been done by Theater Wit for eight years now (Nov. 23-Dec. 29 in its still-new Belmont Avenue digs), with Mitchell Fain once again the star. Mr. Fain has made this elf role so much his own, we hear his ears now are permanently pointed.</p><p>Also returning for its 12th year, courtesy of Hell in a Handbag Productions (Nov. 29-Dec. 30 at Mary&#39;s Attic in Andersonville), is the annually-updated&nbsp;<strong><em>Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer</em></strong>, about a darling little transvestite quadruped.</p><p>One more choice is&nbsp;<strong><em>Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs &quot;A Christmas Carol.&quot; Again</em></strong>, which nicely straddles the line between world-weary and inspiring as Dickens himself, whom most supposed to have died in 1870, proves he is alive, if not quite well. Blake&nbsp;Montgomery is as cranky as one could wish as he essays the 200-year-old Dickens,&nbsp;reduced to a one-trick pony, at the Building Stage (Nov. 29-Dec. 24 at the Building Stage in the Randolph Market area).</p><p><strong>Family-Friendly Traditional</strong></p><p>We&rsquo;ve already noted the Goodman Theatre production of&nbsp;<strong><em>A Christmas Carol</em></strong>, but at least two other takes on the tale are catering to suburban family audiences: the&nbsp;Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace presents daily matinees of an hour-long musical version clearly intended for children (Nov. 23-Dec. 22), and Piccolo Theatre in Evanston adapts the tale as an English-style Xmas panto under the title&nbsp;<strong><em>Bah, Humbug!&nbsp;</em></strong>(Evanston Arts Depot, through Dec. 22).</p><p><strong><em>The Christmas Schooner</em></strong>, long a local holiday tradition, now is in the second year of a new production at a different theater, the Mercury Theater (Nov. 23-Dec. 30). This original, lyrical musical by John Reeger and the late Julie Shannon is a fact-based, Chicago-specific musical about the sailing ship that brought Christmas trees to Chicago from Michigan every year&ndash;until one year it didn&rsquo;t.&nbsp; In fact, this is the 100th anniversary of the wreck of the &quot;Rouse Simmons,&quot; the actual Xmas tree ship.</p><p>Now in its spiffy new home in Uptown, the Black Ensemble Theatre remounts its Christmas show of many years,&nbsp;<strong><em>The Other Cinderella</em></strong>, a take on the fairy tale so vibrant and&nbsp;sweet and wonderfully sung that you&rsquo;ll almost forget it&rsquo;s not actually a Christmas story.</p><p><strong><em>The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey</em></strong>, an original adaptation of an award-winning children&#39;s book, is back for a second year at Provision Theater, a troupe dedicated to&nbsp;advancing Christian values. The tale of a boy and a grumpy woodcarver who bond in the spirit of the season is presented at the Chernin Arts Center (Nov. 21-Dec. 23) near UIC.</p><p><strong>New</strong></p><p>Trying to find a new Holiday Season show actually is difficult, although the earnest but light-hearted&nbsp;<strong><em>Hannukatz the Musical</em></strong>&nbsp;comes close as it&#39;s only in its second year. National Pastime Theater (in the Preston Bradley Center in Uptown) presents this brief easy-rock exploration of the Jewish Feast of Lights, suitable for the family (Nov. 29-Dec. 30).</p><p>For really new, however, consider&nbsp;<strong><em>The Gifts of the Magi</em></strong>&nbsp;at Porchlight Music Theatre (through Dec. 23), the Chicago premiere of an 85-minute musical by Mark St. Germain and Randy Courts that combines two classic O&#39;Henry short stories, the familiar tale of impoverished newlyweds Jim and Della, and the story of street bum Soapy Smith who wants only cozy jail cell for Xmas. Sounds like another Holiday Season &quot;tradition&quot; in the making.</p><p>Also, there&#39;s the multi-cultural, all-inclusive&nbsp;<strong><em>It&#39;s a Wonderful Santa Land Miracle Nut-Cracking Christmas Story . . . Jews Welcome</em></strong>&nbsp;at Stage 773 (through Dec. 30), promising singing, dancing, stories, audience-interactive games and &quot;non-holiday specific eggnog.&quot; They say it&#39;s an all-holiday show for all ages.</p><p>Finally, The Agency Collective offers&nbsp;<strong><em>Out of Tune Confessional</em></strong>, a new musical &ldquo;holiday show for the holiday wary,&quot; at the Underground Wonder Bar (Nov. 23-Dec. 15). The holidays somehow bring together a trio of musicians whose between-song patter reveals more angst than the torchiest torch song.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the venue for the American Blues Theatre production of </em>It&#39;s a Wonderful Life.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 19 Nov 2012 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/eggnog-grog-and-holiday-theater-blog-103911 Don't-Miss List November 15-21: Baudelaire and Bernstein, 500 Clowns and Frankenstein, plus war (and a cab) is hell http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/dont-miss-list-november-15-21-baudelaire-and-bernstein-500-clowns-and <p><p class="yiv1977399926MsoNormal" style="MARGIN:0in 0in 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/403.th_.th_.rv_.500Clown_1.jpg" title="500 Clown Frankenstein (Courtesy of the Viaduct)" /></div><p class="yiv1977399926MsoNormal" style="MARGIN:0in 0in 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p class="yiv1977399926MsoNormal" style="MARGIN:0in 0in 0pt;"><u><em>Possession: Baudelaire in a Box</em>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatreoobleck.org">Theatre Oobleck</a>&nbsp;at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield; tickets at the door or on the Website; $15 (suggested donation); through Nov. 18 only</u><br />&nbsp;</p><p>How many composers does it take to make songs out of Baudelaire&#39;s poems? Answer: three, because they only compose with one hand while they eat madeleines with the other. Besides, Theatre Oobleck is required to give artists free rein in order to maintain its stature as one of Chicago&#39;s Oldest Established Permanent Floating Avant-Garde Theater Troupes.&nbsp;<strong><em>Possession: Baudelaire in a Box</em></strong>&nbsp;is a cycle of 16 songs written and performed by Jeff Dorchen, Ronnie Kuller and Chris Schoen, THIS WEEKEND ONLY at Links Hall.&nbsp;Oobleck says these are &quot;poems of&nbsp;<em>poison</em>,&nbsp;<em>betrayal</em>, and&nbsp;<em>shame</em>&nbsp;to be washed down with longing, lust, and liquor.&quot; Hey, sounds good to me! Mint-on-the-pillow: artist Dave Buchen provides &quot;yards and yards&quot; of painted images which will scroll by as background for the Baudelaire Slam. (JA)</p><p><u><em>One Hand, One Heart: The Musicals of Leonard Bernstein</em><strong>;&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.davenportspianobar.com">Davenport&#39;s,</a>&nbsp;1-773-278-1830; $13 plus two-drink minimum; Nov. 14-15, 28-29 only.</u></p><p>The musicals of Leonard Bernstein range from typical Broadway tuners such as&nbsp;<em>On the Town</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Wonderful Town</em>, to works with profound sentiments such as&nbsp;<em>Candide</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>West Side Story.</em>&nbsp;Bookending those hits are lesser-known and failed efforts as&nbsp;<em>1600 Pennsylvania Avenue</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Peter Pan.</em>&nbsp;This cabaret show&mdash;FOUR PERFORMANCES ONLY&mdash; is titled&nbsp;<strong><em>One Hand, One Heart: The Musicals of Leonard Bernstein</em></strong>, and we earnestly hope it will include some of his lesser-known stuff. Bernstein&#39;s always-sophisticated, melodious and complex music elevated whatever genre he touched, in part because he was smart enough to partner with the best lyricists available, among them Stephen Sondheim, Comden &amp; Green and Alan&nbsp;Jay&nbsp;Lerner. Even with his failures, the problem wasn&#39;t the music and lyrics. See for yourself at Davenport&#39;s.&nbsp; (JA)</p><p><u><span id="yiv1996665171yui_3_7_2_18_1352823200308_77"><em>500 Clown Frankenstein</em>,&nbsp;<a href="http://500clown.com/">500 Clown</a>&nbsp;at the Viaduct Theatre, 3111 North Western, Thursday through this Sunday,&nbsp;<a href="http://500clownfrankenstein.brownpapertickets.com/">tickets $20-$25</a></span></u></p><div id="yiv1996665171yui_3_7_2_18_1352823200308_79"><div>Before Halloween gives way completely to Christmas, stop in to see&nbsp;<em><strong>500 Clown Frankenstein</strong></em>, the physical-comedy company&#39;s rendition of Mary Shelley&#39;s classic about man playing god. The twist in this case is that the play is about an effort to put on a play, a situation in which one man gets to play God &mdash; but which one? The director, the &quot;star,&quot; the stagehand? The show creeps up on you, and the final moment is a fine kick in the ass. Closes this Sunday (the 18th), but if you miss it you can go instead to see the family-friendly&nbsp;<em><strong>500 Clown Trapped</strong></em>&nbsp;at the DCA Theater &mdash; and for free!&nbsp;<em>Trapped </em>runs&nbsp;December 7-8-9; call 312-742-TIXS for reservations. (KK)</div></div><div id="yiv1996665171yui_3_7_2_18_1352823200308_85"><p><span id="yiv1996665171yui_3_7_2_18_1352823200308_77"><u><em>Welcome Home Jenny Sutter</em>,&nbsp;<a href="http://nexttheatre.org/">Next Theatre</a>,&nbsp;</u></span><u>927 Noyes Street, Evanston, 847-475-1875</u><span id="yiv1996665171yui_3_7_2_18_1352823200308_77"><u>, begins previews this Thursday (the 15th), tickets $25-40</u><br /><br />And &mdash;&nbsp;</span>before Veterans&#39; Day becomes just another memory of a Monday, spend 90 minutes in the world of a returning Marine whose experience of home has been so fractured by her experience in battle that &quot;return&quot; and &quot;home&quot; are both misnomers. Jessica Thebus directs the Chicago premiere of this play about the few who have done so much for so many. Through December 23.&nbsp;(KK)</p><p><u><em>Hellcab</em>,&nbsp;<a href="http://profilestheatre.org/">Profiles Theatre</a>, 4139 N. Broadway; 1-773-549-1815; $35-$40; through Dec. 23</u></p><p>It&#39;s Xmas Eve and some starving writer of a taxi driver is working late. Finding fares ain&#39;t a problem as every drunk, fruitcake, crackpot, addict and get-a-room couple fights to flag him down. It could only be Will Kern&#39;s&nbsp;<strong><em>Hellcab</em></strong>, the brilliant Chicago and nationwide cult hit that ran for nine years in its original production as a late-nite show at the defunct Famous Door Theatre Company. That was 20 years ago, hard to believe, y&#39;know, back when taxis were cheap. Now it returns to Chicago in a holiday-season production with a cast of 34 fronted by Konstantin Khrustov as the cabbie, and staged by Profiles Theatre co-artistic director Darrell W. Cox.&nbsp;(JA)</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 15 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/dont-miss-list-november-15-21-baudelaire-and-bernstein-500-clowns-and Don't-Miss List: New musical approaches and an African-American classic http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/dont-miss-list-new-musical-approaches-and-african-american-classic <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/suitcases%20flickr%20masochism%20tango.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px; " title="(Flickr/Tom Godber)" /></div><p><u><em>The Suitcase Opera Project</em>, <a href="http://www.chicagovanguard.org">Chicago Opera Vanguard</a> at Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph; free (donation suggested); Nov. 8-10 only, 7:30 p.m.</u></p><p>&quot;People tell me in 10 years I will be in the gutter. I&#39;m almost looking forward to the prospect,&quot; Jimmy writes to his friend Howard in 1948. Jimmy is eighteen, gay, dishonorably discharged from the Marines, and living in New York.&nbsp; In 49 letters he documents his pre-Stonewall life of cruising the bars and streets and partying with Gore Vidal, Anais Nin, and Truman Capote, while rhapsodizing on art, love, and sexuality. Sixty years later, famed monologist David Kodeski buys the letters at random in an online auction and discovers Jimmy&#39;s lost world. For two years Kodeski has been turning the material into a non-fiction chamber opera, <strong><em>The Suitcase Opera Project</em></strong>, with composer Eric Reda, artistic director of Chicago Opera Vanguard. These weekend performances at Pritzker Pavilion are the culminating workshops in the development of the piece. FYI: in the cold-weather off-season, the Pritzker Pavilion is sealed off from the rest of Millennium Park and you and the performers all will sit in cozy comfort on the Pavilion stage.</p><p><u><em>Ceremonies in Dark Old Men</em>, <a href="http://www.etacreativearts.org">eta Creative Arts Foundation</a>, 7558 S. South Chicago Avenue;&nbsp;1-773-792-3955; $30; through Dec. 23</u></p><p>Lonnie Elder III (1927-1996) was the first African-American writer nominated for an Academy Award (for the 1973 film <em>Sounder</em>), but before that this actor-turned-author had scored on Broadway in 1969 with <strong><em>Ceremonies in Dark Old Men</em></strong>, which ranks close to <em>A Raisin in the Sun</em> as &nbsp;a seminal drama of urban African-American life. Set in and around a Harlem barbershop, the play chronicles the disintegration of a Black family in the midst of the 1960&#39;s social revolution, with a particular focus on the disenfranchisement &mdash; real or imagined &mdash; of African-American men within their own community. Vaun Monroe is the director of this American classic. FYI: Be sure to check out the gallery exhibit at eta Creative Arts.</p><p><u><em>Pippin: A Bollywood Spectacular</em>, <a href="http://www.circle-theatre.org">Circle Theatre</a>, 1010 W. Madison, Oak Park; 1-708-660-9540; $27.90-$29.97 (with service fee); runs through Dec. 23</u></p><p>A young man goes in search of the world or at least some good sex and, like Candide, ultimately finds more satisfaction in simple things, perhaps. With a pop score by Stephen Schwartz and a polyglot, meta-theatrical book by Roger O. Hirson, <em>Pippin</em>, was a huge Broadway hit of the 1970s (ran for five years), bringing a contemporary anti-authoritarian vibe to its fictionalized story of the son of Charlemagne in the 9th Century. Many feel the show hasn&#39;t aged well, especially without the hip-grinding original staging of the legendary Bob Fosse. Circle Theatre proposed to restore the show&#39;s oomph by making it a Bollywood spectacular. Circle artistic director Kevin Bellie has successfully re-burnished many other shows after their luster has dulled, and he is both director and choreographers of <strong><em>Pippin: A Bollywood Spectacular</em></strong>.</p></p> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/dont-miss-list-new-musical-approaches-and-african-american-classic Murder most foul but fantastical in Middle America, grim reality for Vietnam POWs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/murder-most-foul-fantastical-middle-america-grim-reality-vietnam-pows <p><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: small; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6628_Wasteland_087-scr%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px; " title="Nate Burger in TimeLine Theatre's 'Wasteland' (Courtesy of the theater)" /></div><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: small; ">&nbsp;</div><div><u><em>Wasteland</em>,<a href="http://timelinetheatre.com">&nbsp;TimeLine Theatre Company</a>, 615 West Wellington (at Broadway), 773-281-TIME,&nbsp;Wednesdays-Sundays through December 30, $32-$42</u></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>William Brown&#39;s unsentimental direction makes the world premiere of Susan Felder&#39;s two-man play &mdash; one man onstage, one man a disembodied voice &mdash; a relentlessly intense experience, turning those black POW-MIA flag from an abstraction into flesh-and-blood reality. Two guys named Joe find themselves in neighboring cells (or, rather, underground tiger-cages) and come to rely on each other as the sole source of sanity in an apparently endless captivity. Nate Burger captures the visible Joe&#39;s desperation with every move, word and gesture, while Steve Haggard gives a fully realized performance with just his voice, making the invisible Joe his brother&#39;s keeper and tormentor in equal measure. Sartre&#39;s <em>No Exit</em> has nothing on this: you won&#39;t breathe for the entire show, or for several hours afterwards. A truly extraordinary experience.&nbsp;&ndash;KK</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><u><em>Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play</em>, <a href="http://strangetree.org">The Strange Tree Group</a> at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 West Berenice in Lakeview,&nbsp;<a href="tel:773-598-8240" target="_blank" value="+17735988240">773-598-8240</a>,&nbsp;Wednesdays-Sundays through November 18, $25</u></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We don&#39;t need no stinkin&#39; . . .&quot; Halloween! That must surely be the cry of the Strange Tree Group, whose work is spooky at any time of year, as well as fanciful, allusive and designed to the nines. Here the Group revives Artistic Director Emily Schwartz&#39;s 2006 tale of a family wrenched apart by a remembered murder, because everyone remembers it differently. Imagine Rashomon in middle America &mdash; albeit a deeply skewed version of middle America. Scott Davis&#39;s scenic design conjures up the attic refuge of Alvin, the son who knows the truth but is determined to hide out from it. As absorbing to watch as it is impossible to describe, <em>Funeral Wedding</em> is equal parts creepy and spooky, mysterious and ooky, plus a heaping helping of charming. &nbsp;&ndash;KK</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><u><em>The Burnt Park Boys</em>, <a href="http://griffintheatre.com">Griffin Theatre Company</a> at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont; 773-975-8150; $25 previews (through Nov. 10) then $36; runs through Dec. 22</u><br /><br />West Virginia has been in the news as a major snow dump, courtesy of Storm Sandy. It&#39;s also the setting for the Chicago premiere of <em>The Burnt Part Boys</em>, a 2006 musical about two young, rural WVA boys, circa 1962, who go on a quest. It&#39;s the sort-of thing Griffin Theatre does very well, frequently merging strong storylines and adolescent angst with sometimes-comic and sometimes-serious intent. This show&mdash;described as family-friendly&mdash;concerns the teenage sons of a coal miner killed in a mining accident, so I&#39;d guess the tone is serious but warm-hearted. Jonathan Berry, a Griffin veteran, is the director for The Burnt Part Boys, which features a blue grass-influenced musical score. FYI: Griffin is in the process of converting a former police station in Andersonville into a permanent company home. Until then, they remain an itinerant troupe. &ndash;JA<br /><br /><u><em>Long Day&#39;s Journey Into Night</em>, <a href="http://eclipsetheatre.com">Eclipse Theatre Company</a> at The Athenaeum, 2934 N. Southport; 773-935-6875; $28; runs through Dec. 9</u><br /><br />Eugene O&#39;Neill would not allow this autobiographical play to be published or performed in his lifetime, having ripped it out of his heart and soul in 1941. Eye-witnesses remarked that O&#39;Neill would exit his little writing cottage with tears streaming from his eyes. <em>Long Day&#39;s Journey Into Night</em> is from his mature years as a man and writer. As such, it stuns with deep compassion as much as it stings with the truth of O&#39;Neill&#39;s conflicted, guilt-ridden family circle. In New London, CT you can visit the small house facing the ocean where the play is set (now an O&#39;Neill museum) and understand the claustrophobia of its creaking floorboards and narrow corridors. Eclipse Theatre Company has devoted its 2012 season to O&#39;Neill and concludes with his greatest play, presented in a space as intimate as the O&#39;Neill house itself. Eclipse artistic director Nathaniel Swift puts it all together. The play is long&mdash;four acts&mdash;and every minute is essential if you are to understand the love and pain of the four haunted Tyrones (the O&#39;Neills). &ndash;JA</div></p> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/murder-most-foul-fantastical-middle-america-grim-reality-vietnam-pows Lost love and gender politics: Another light-hearted week in Chicago theater http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/lost-love-and-gender-politics-another-light-hearted-week-chicago <p><p><u><em>Burn This</em>, Shattered Globe Theatre at <a href="http://www/theaterwit.org">Theater Wit</a>, 1229 W. Belmont; 773-975-8150; opens Thursday and runs through November 18; $32.</u></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/strindberg%20flickr.jpg" style="float: right; height: 400px; width: 300px; " title="A larger than life Strindberg. (Flickr/Camilla Nilsson)" />Lanford Wilson&rsquo;s play is very much of its time, the &lsquo;80s, in that it features not one but two gay characters whose sole function is to make sure straight people find happiness. OK, so one of them is dead; still. Nonetheless, his study of four people looking for love in all the wrong places retains its full vigor in Linda Gillum&#39;s muscular production. It&rsquo;s intimate, funny and ultimately deeply romantic. See it with someone you love. (KK)<br /><br /><u><em>The Father</em>, <a href="http://www.renditiontheatre.org">Rendition Theatre</a> at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark, 773-728-8111; opens Thursday and runs through November 17; $15-$20</u><br /><br />Or, if by &ldquo;the &lsquo;80s&rdquo; you mean the 1880s, Rendition Theatre&rsquo;s production of this Strindberg tragedy might be for you. Strindberg, like his Scandinavian contemporary Ibsen, specialized in problem plays &ndash; the problem being gender and sexual politics. His work often feels more contemporary than material composed many years later. And performing the Swedish playwright&rsquo;s work at a Swedish institution in a once-Swedish neighborhood adds an extra touch of verisimilitude.&nbsp;The theater assures us that the play is funny, but we&rsquo;ll have to see about that. (KK)</p><p><u><em><a href="http://www.Assassins-Chicago.com">Assassins</a>,</em>&nbsp;presented by Billy Pacholski; Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western; 1-312-212-3470,&nbsp;$47.57 (with service charge); runs through Nov. 10</u></p><p>Stephen Sondheim&#39;s score for this musical (book by John Weidman) is a true American pastiche filled with cakewalks, folk ballads and gospel with references to Sousa and &quot;Hail to the Chief.&quot; It&#39;s all quite fitting in a work about the men and women who&#39;ve shot &mdash; or tried to shoot &mdash; the president. The dramaturgy is bit fractured as Lee Harvey Oswald comes&nbsp;<em>after</em>&nbsp;John Hinckley Jr. and Squeaky Fromme, but there&#39;s no denying that&nbsp;<em>Assassins</em>&nbsp;taps into the dark underbelly of The American Dream, pointing to the subculture of violence and weaponry which have been part and parcel of American history from the day Europeans arrived to stay. This production eschews the usual carnival shooting gallery setting for&nbsp;<em>Assassins</em>&nbsp;in favor of an intimacy which puts the players almost in-your-face. The show benefits greatly from unamplified voices, an excellent little orchestra and constantly-morphing video projections. (JA)</p></p> Thu, 25 Oct 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/lost-love-and-gender-politics-another-light-hearted-week-chicago Don't-Miss List: 1 anti-war ballet, 2 comedies, 4 nights of ElectionFest and a partridge in a Strange Tree http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/dont-miss-list-1-anti-war-ballet-2-comedies-4-nights-electionfest-and <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6502_Joffrey Green Table-scr.JPG" style="height: 537px; width: 620px; " title="The Green Table (Courtesy of the Joffrey Ballet/Sean Williams)" /></div><p><u><em>ElectionFest 2012 </em>at&nbsp;Pine Box Theater at <a href="http://www/theaterwit.org">Theater Wit</a>, 1229 W. Belmont; 1-773-975-8150;&nbsp;$13; Oct. 22, 23 and 29, 30 ONLY</u><br /><br />You can&#39;t see it until Monday night Oct. 22 but you&#39;d better plan now &#39;cause there only are four performances. Pine Box Theater, an itinerant troupe that &mdash; uh &mdash; came back from the dead last year after several years&#39; absence, has cornered the market on notable local authors and directors. Under the collective title <strong><em>ElectionFest 2012</em></strong>, Pine Box is offering a dozen ten-minute plays in two bills of six plays each. The list of authors is a who&#39;s who of top local dramatists, among them Laura Eason (Lookingglass), Sarah Gubbins (just won a Jeff Award), Nambi E. Kelley, Paul Oakley Stovall and Andrew Hinderaker (new play currently at the Gift Theatre). And the directors are every bit as good, among them Julieanne Ehre, Lisa Portes, Vincent Teninty and Joanie Schultz. The plays all speak to the issues dividing us this political season, with individual titles such as <em>Guess Who&#39;s Not Coming to Dinner?,&nbsp;</em><em>A Letter to Mama-in-Chief Obama,&nbsp;The One Percent</em> and <em>A Moderate Threat.</em>&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p><p><u><em>Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play</em>,<a href="http://www.strangetree.org"> Strange Tree Group</a> at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W.<br />Berenice; 1-773-598-8240; $25-$45 (VIP tix); runs through Nov. 11</u><br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/home-title-alvin-photo.png" style="height: 156px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="'Funeral Wedding or The Alvin Play' (Courtesy Strange Tree Group/Tyler Core)" />I&#39;ve always been partial to The Strange Tree Group, which seems to channel Edward Gorey,&nbsp;Charles Addams, Edgar Allan Poe and classic fairy tales and parallels the meta-theatric staging&nbsp;techniques of Redmoon and Building Stage. <strong><em>Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play</em></strong> is written by the troupe&#39;s founding artistic director, Emily Schwartz, and first was done in 2006 when Strange Tree Group was new. Now this perfect-for-Halloween ghost story has been revamped and re-imagined as it tells the tale of a haunted young man trapped between past and present while unraveling family secrets. Hint: think murder. &ndash;JA</p><p><u><em>We&rsquo;re All In This Room Together</em>, <a href="http://www.secondcity.com">Second City e.t.c.</a>, 1616 North Wells Street, 312-337-3992, $23-$28, open run</u><br /><br />It&rsquo;s not often you get to see a Jeff Award-winning show: By the time the Jeff Committee hands out the Equity awards in October, most of its honorees have long since closed. An exception is this revue by the nearly-as-established-as-the-mainstage second company at Second City. (Query: Does that make e.t.c. the Fourth Company in some Platonic semi-improvisational universe?) Earlier this week the show won Best Production&ndash;Revue as well Best Director&ndash;Revue for Ryan Bernier, so this weekend&rsquo;s performances should be particularly sharp and vibrant. Tuesday through Sunday at 8 p.m., plus 11 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday. &ndash;KK<br /><br /><u><em>Blackademics</em>, <a href="http://www.mpaact.org">MPAACT </a>at the Greenhouse, 2257 North Lincoln Avenue, 773-404-7336, $15-$23, now in previews; opens Monday the 22nd</u><br /><br />For a different brand of humor, check out Idris Goodwin&rsquo;s new play about a pair of African-American college professors whose friendly dinner turns into a catfight of epic proportions, with a little help from their smilingly hostile waitress. What sounds like a cross between Jane Smiley&rsquo;s <em>Moo</em> and Clare Boothe Luce&rsquo;s <em>The Women</em> opens Sunday, under the joint direction of Marie Cisco and MPAACT Executive Director Shepsu Aakhu. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 3 through November 25.&nbsp;&ndash;KK</p><p><u><em>Human Landscapes</em>,<a href="http://joffrey.com"> The Joffrey Ballet</a> at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 East Congress Parkway, 800-982-2787, $31-$152, Friday the 19th through Sunday the 28th</u><br /><br />The Joffrey&rsquo;s autumn home stand features the celebrated antiwar ballet <em>The Green Table</em>. German choreographer Kurt Jooss created the Expressionist piece after the First World War but it has only gained resonance in the century since. The program also includes a Jiri Kylian work returning to the Joffrey repertory after nearly 30 years on hiatus, as well as James Kudelka&rsquo;s frankly named <em>Pretty BALLET</em>. Friday through Sunday this weekend, Thursday through Sunday next weekend, 7:30 evening performances and 2 p.m. matinees.&nbsp; &ndash;KK</p></p> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/dont-miss-list-1-anti-war-ballet-2-comedies-4-nights-electionfest-and Don't-Miss List: Chicago theater enters the presidential fray, Cuban play has its English-language world premiere http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/dont-miss-list-chicago-theater-enters-presidential-fray-cuban-play <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/presidents%20masks%20flickr%20scott%20ableman.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px; " title="Are you ready for some presidents? (Flickr/Scott Ableman)" /></div><p><u><em>44 Plays for 44 Presidents</em>, <a href="http://www.neofuturists.org">The Neo-Futurarium</a>, 5153 N. Ashland Avenue; 1-773-878-4557; $19.99; runs through Nov. 10</u></p><p>Election season means plays about presidents as much as it means anything else beyond who gets to misspend Your Tax Dollars for the next four years. Indeed, the always-clever Neo-Futurists are offering <strong><em>44 Plays for 44 Presidents</em></strong>, a remount and revision of their 2001 hit about 43 presidents. They&rsquo;ve added a new play about Obama and, of course, they count Grover Cleveland twice (&lsquo;cause he&rsquo;s the only prez to serve two non-consecutive terms). Be that as it may, you can expect all 44 little plays to be brief, pointed and entirely irreverent. C&rsquo;mon, be honest: Other than the factoid that Millard Fillmore installed the first gas cooking stove in the White House, how much do you really want to know about him? How much do you <em>need</em> to know about him?</p><p><u><em>Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson</em>, <a href="http://www.bailiwickchicago.com">Bailiwick Chicago</a> at National Pastime Theatre, 941 W. Lawrence (fourth floor of The People&rsquo;s Church); 1-773-327-7077; $25-$30; runs through Nov. 10</u></p><p>Andrew Jackson was the first frontiersman President (1829-1837), hailing from the &ldquo;far&rdquo; western state of Tennessee. Hero of the Battle of New Orleans, he was a leading populist lefty of his day, and the modern Democratic Party is a descendent of his Presidency (although his party was called the Republican Party at the time). Jackson was smeared and vilified in a campaign that makes today&rsquo;s rumbles seem pristine, because his wife was a divorced woman accused of bigamy. The folk tune, &ldquo;We&rsquo;re Walking Down to Washington to shake hands with President (name)&rdquo; originated with Jackson&rsquo;s campaign. FYI: Jackson tried, but failed, to eliminate the Electoral College so a Prez could be elected by direct popular vote. Whatever, the hit Broadway musical <strong><em>Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson</em></strong> repositions &ldquo;Old Hickory&rdquo; as a rock star with sex and music to spare.</p><p><u><em>Adentro</em>, <a href="http://www.aguijontheater.org">Teatro Aguijon</a>, 2707 N. Laramie; 1-773-637-5899; $20; runs through Nov. 18</u></p><p>For 20 years now, Teatro Aguijon has been a cultural resource within the Latino community of Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest Side, performing both new and classic plays in Spanish and English (or a combination) in a tiny storefront theater. <strong><em>Adentro</em></strong> is the English-language world premiered (commissioned by Teatro Aguijon) of a drama by award-winning contemporary Cuban playwright Abel Gonzalez Melo. For me, &ldquo;adentro&rdquo;&mdash; which means &ldquo;inside&rdquo; or &ldquo;within&rdquo; &mdash; is the final word in a popular Latino toast with friends; for Gonzales Melo it&rsquo;s a look inside Cuba&rsquo;s social justice system with its police brutality, homophobia and social discrimination. Sandor Memendez is the director.</p></p> Thu, 04 Oct 2012 09:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/dont-miss-list-chicago-theater-enters-presidential-fray-cuban-play