WBEZ | Goodman Theater http://www.wbez.org/tags/goodman-theater Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Brevity is the soul of wit, but . . . http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-16/brevity-soul-wit-96475 <p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size: 10px;">Listen to the Dueling Critics on&nbsp;<em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332735873-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/120217 Dueling Critics.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p></div></div><p>We've recently seen a spate of shows running between 75 and 90 minutes, no intermission. At first I greeted this trend with joy: Intermission has always galled me by interrupting the fictive dream, and I'm not averse to being home in time for<em> The Daily Show</em>. But I've started to notice the downside of all this expeditiousness: The plays often seem unfinished, like sketches rather than full-fledged pieces. Perhaps this is the result of our theaters' intense hunger for new work, and the concomitant pressure on playwrights to finish up this thing so they can start on the next thing. But a number of recent openings have demonstrated the drawbacks of this speed-dating version of playwriting.</p><p><em>Hesperia,</em> at <a href="http://writerstheatre.org/">Writers' Theatre</a>, captures its mise-en-scene perfectly, portraying a town dominated by an old-fashioned Evangelical Christianity with respect rather than ridicule while examining its impact on the archetypal strangers who come to town, a pair of porn stars. And playwright Randall Colburn takes care to demonstrate that the impact is mutual, and to probe the fragility of what at first seem to be rock-solid beliefs and principles. Unfortunately, Colburn sets up this situation and then fast-forwards to the conclusion, so that when our pro- and antagonists make their final decisions they seem to have come from nowhere---or, more precisely, to have happened during a scene we'll never see. A friend asked wherther all the dramaturgs in town had gone on strike, but Colburn's work had the benefit of development at <a href="http://chicagodramatists.org/">Chicago Dramatists</a>, whose fine reputation for honing plays is well-deserved. Still, <em>Hesperia</em> managed to come out of the oven without being fully baked.</p><p>Of course the first impulse of any writer when confronted with what's not working is simply to cut it out. I saw this demonstrated at the old Wisdom Bridge by no less a figure than David Mamet, who offered up a version of <em>Speed-the-Plow</em> so truncated by his own red pencil that the point of the play disappeared. He must have known he had a problem making the female catalyst believable (a problem he's had with women ever since: See <em>Oleanna</em> et seq. ) so he simply cut most of her part, leaving the audience to wonder what the two men on the stage were blathering and scheming about. Mamet did something similar with <em>Race</em> (notwithstanding the intermission). The betrayals and counter-betrayals come so rapidly, and to such an abrupt end, that I was left wondering what actually happened and why.&nbsp; It's fine to take a scalpel to one's work, but simple amputation is rarely sufficient surgery.&nbsp;</p><p>Other shows that could have benefitted from being longer: <a href="http://www.atcweb.org/"><em>Disgraced</em>, at ATC</a>, which sped from cosy domesticity to violent collapse in 80 minutes leaving the audience gasping in its wake; Simon Stephens' <a href="http://griffintheatre.com/"><em>Punk Rock</em> at Griffin</a>; and <a href="http://www.steeptheatre.com/">Love and Money at Steep</a>. The case of Stephens is particularly instructive, because he's had four plays done in Chicago in the past four years. Perhaps the playwright is over-busy, leaping from project to project in an attempt to cobble together a living. He's hardly the first to encounter this dilemma---there was a period when Rebecca Gilman was turning out plays faster than she could finish them---but the result leaves the audience slightly undernourished. Even Conor McPherson, perhaps the premiere English-language playwright of this generation, falls into the trap of declaring a play finished when it's merely through its second draft. <em>Shining City</em>, a neo-realist tale concluding with an unpersuasive ghost-story bang, would have been far stronger if the playwright had waited until the muses brought him a genuine ending.</p><p>Again: This may be the inevitable consequence of contemporary theater economics, a system which also frequently dictates the choice of two- or three-character plays rather than the crowds required by Miller or Shakespeare. But let's try to figure out a way for playwrights to incubate their works a bit longer. That should reduce the likelihood of their laying an egg.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 16 Feb 2012 17:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-16/brevity-soul-wit-96475 Discussing 'Race' on and off the stage with Geoffrey Owens http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-25/discussing-race-and-stage-geoffrey-owens-95809 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-25/Race Jeffrey Owens.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet’s play, <em>Race</em>, dissects racial issues with unabashed frankness and plenty of humor. It’s onstage now at the <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/" target="_blank">Goodman Theatre</a>. The setting: two lawyers, one black and one white and their young assistant, an African-American woman, try to navigate the minefield of race as they discuss a case they were forced to take on involving a wealthy and privileged white man accused of raping a black woman.<em> Eight Forty-Eight</em> sat down with one of the current production's stars, former <em>The Cosby Show</em> actor <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0654369/" target="_blank">Geoffrey Owens</a>, and WBEZ's Richard Steele to find out which conditions foster honest conversations about race.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 25 Jan 2012 15:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-25/discussing-race-and-stage-geoffrey-owens-95809 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater 5/26 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-26/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-526-87070 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-26/EatCake_WebSize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>1.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/ct-ott-0527-on-the-fringe-20110524,0,6195895.story">Nina Metz looks</a> at <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-23/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-523-86900"><em>Superman 2050</em></a>, and proclaims it better than <em>Spiderman: Turn off the Dark</em>! Well, not exactly: "Though it hits all the usual Superman signposts — Smallville, The Daily Planet, Lex Luthor, Kryptonite, Lois Lane — there is not a single aerial stunt in Theater Un-Speak-Able's 'Superman: 2050.' Dull, you might think — and you would be wrong. So wrong! Embracing the ethos of physical theater — a genre of performance that relies on movement and body language as a key element of storytelling — the ensemble conveys a thrilling amount of action and plot," Metz said. "It is an instructive lesson to all those big-budget behemoths and their expensive effects; the silly power of this imaginative, bare-bones production can not be overstated. The show will not change your world, but it is entertaining, both tongue-in-cheek and utterly sincere."</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-26/EatCake_WebSize.jpg" style="width: 333px; height: 500px; " title=""></p><p>2.&nbsp;Chick lit for the stage comes in the form of&nbsp;<a href="http://cornservatory.org/?page_id=1130" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none; "><em>Eat Cake</em></a>, which closes tonight at the Cornservatory. Written and directed by Kristi McKay, it follows six women over one night as they share stories, cake and wine. Perhaps like <em>Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood</em>, but with less Sandra Bullock?</p><p>3. David Yontz presents<em> <a href="http://www.gorillatango.com/cgi-bin/public/gttv2.cgi?location_number=2&amp;shows=yes">Add Some Evil To Your Day</a></em> on Friday night only<em>,</em>&nbsp;in a show that's part concert, part stand-up comedy. Described as adressing " pressing themes in contemporary American culture", Yontz looks at "religion, education, feminism, masturbation and Satan," but all in an uplifting tone. It's at the Gorilla Tango at 9:30 pm.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/7QCRSdD-U40" width="560"></iframe></p><p>4. <a href="http://michaelpizzacomedy.com/index.html">Michael Pizza</a> starts its run at <a href="http://michaelpizzacomedy.com">iO tonight</a> at 10:30 pm, where they'll be performing every Thursday through August. Go for the name alone, or whatever story they claim the name is from.</p><p>5. Costume Designer&nbsp;Linda Roethke did some beautiful sketches for <em>Stage Kiss</em> and you can see them on<a href="http://goodman-theatre.blogspot.com/2011/05/designed-for-kiss.html">&nbsp;the Goodman Theater blog</a>. She had the challenge of technically creating ensembles for three plays -- <em>Stage Kiss</em>, and the two plays presented within it. "I think the costumes will help clarify what is going on. It can be a little confusing when you read the script because multiple actors play multiple roles. When audiences experience it, I hope the costumes help keep things clear," Roethke said.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Thu, 26 May 2011 15:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-26/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-526-87070 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater news 5/12 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-12/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-512-86451 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-12/elf.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-12/elf.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 600px;" title="(K Leo)"></p><p>1. The Geek Girl Burlesque, the folks that brought you <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-18/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-418-85334"><em>BOOBS AND GOOMBAS: A Super Mario Burlesque</em></a> at the Gorilla Tango Theatre (still running, by the way) have done it again with <a href="http://www.gorillatango.com/cgi-bin/public/gttv2.cgi?location_number=2&amp;shows=yes"><em>FELLOWSHIP OF THE BOOBS: A LOTR, WoW, D&amp;D RPG BURLESQUE</em></a>. This won't be a passive experience however; prepare to go on a quest with the performers, something that boyfriend you met at the <em>Star Trek</em> convention will love.</p><p>The show draws influences from all the best fantasy sources, including Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, and Dungeons and Dragons, in case you can't tell from the title what those abbreviations mean because you're not of that kind. It starts June 2 which is very soon! How did that happen?</p><p>2. Desmin Borges is <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/14756075/desmin-borges-returns-to-teatro-vista-in-freedom-ny">back </a>in Chicago&nbsp;for the 20th anniversary&nbsp;of&nbsp;<em>Freedom NY&nbsp;</em>by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-01/teatro-vista-new-york-and-chicago-honors-84628">Teatro Vista</a>. &nbsp;He's currently in New York for&nbsp;<em>The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.&nbsp;</em>Nab him while you can; the press opening is tonight, and its at <a href="https://www.theaterwit.org/boxoffice/index.php">Theater Wit</a>.</p><p>3. Sarah Ruhl, whose <em>Stage Kiss</em> is at the Goodman right now, is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-22/sarah-ruhls-playwrights-work-dominates-spring-theater-84075">certainly having her moment</a> or two. <a href="http://goodman-theatre.blogspot.com/2011/05/rapid-rise-of-sarah-ruhl.html">Here's a brief picture</a> of why.</p><p>4. Yesterday at 3pm, there was theater online. <em>White Noise</em> <a href="http://www.whitenoisemusical.com/live/">streamed a live performance</a> of six songs from the musical, and included some cast commentary. Did anyone watch? It probably was not the most work appropriate....</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="390" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-February/2011-02-25/Rahm Emanuel Elex Night_Getty_Scott Olson.JPG" title="(Getty/Scott Olson)" width="594"></p><p>5. Rahm Emanuel <a href="http://www.chicago2011.org/news/mayor-elect-emanuel-announces-findings-of-the-chicago-2011-transition-report/">released his transition report</a> this week, announcing that he plans to "Conduct a review of City-organized festivals and cultural programming." The new administration also plans to "Develop a strategy for creating and supporting cultural hubs." So far, no real details as to how either of these will be executed, or what they actually entail.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Thu, 12 May 2011 14:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-12/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-512-86451 Teatro Vista up for New York and Chicago honors http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-01/teatro-vista-new-york-and-chicago-honors-84628 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-01/www.teatrovista.jpg" alt="" /><p><div style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-01/www.teatrovista.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 83px; " title=""></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div><p>You just can't get away from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.teatrovista.org/">Teatro Vista</a>&nbsp;these days, the little Off-Loop Latino theater troupe that could. It's not enough that Teatro Vista has a new co-production at the Goodman Theatre right now (the world premiere of Tanya Saracho's "<a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/Production.aspx?prod=117">El Nogalar</a>," running through April 24), but just today (April 1, but it's no joke) the Off Broadway League in New York announced that four Teatro Vista artists have been nominated for the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award for their work on "<a href="http://www.victorygardens.org/onstage/chad-deity-reviews.php">The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity</a>," the Victory Gardens Theater/Teatro Vista hit from 2009 that moved Off-Broadway to the Second Stage Theatre and took the Big Apple by storm. Nominated for Lortel Awards are playwright Kristoffer Diaz, Teatro Vista Ensemble member Desmin Borges (the lead actor in "Chad Deity" both here and in New York) and Teatro Vista Resident Artists Mikhail Fiksel (sound designer) and Jesse Klug&nbsp;(lighting designer). The Lortel Awards will be announced on May 1.</p><p>But there's even more going on for Teatro Vista and Diaz. The company is picking up the Artistic Leadership Award at the May 16 annual gala of the League of Chicago Theatres, and then Teatro Vista will conclude its 20th anniversary season with the world premiere of "<a href="http://teatrovista.com/stage/freedom-ny.html">Freedom, NY</a>" by Jennifer Barclay and starring--who else?--Desmin Borges. The show (also featuring Chicago veteran actor Cheryl Lynn Bruce) will run May 8-June 12 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. As for Diaz, he'll see "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" staged next Jan. 3-Feb. 4 at the prestigious Actor's Theatre of Louisville.</p></div></div></p> Fri, 01 Apr 2011 21:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-01/teatro-vista-new-york-and-chicago-honors-84628 New play moves a classic story to Mexico http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-24/new-play-moves-classic-story-mexico-84183 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-24/El-nogalar.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When playwright <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chicagodramatists.org/catalogue/pwdetail.html?command=search&amp;db=/databases/pwdb.db&amp;eqpwiddatarq=9035">Tanya Saracho</a> set out to adapt Anton Chekov&rsquo;s <em>The Cherry Orchard </em>she wound up writing a very personal story. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/Production.aspx?prod=117"><em>El Nogalar</em></a> - or The Pecan Orchard &ndash; takes place in a city on the southern side of the border between Mexico and the United States.<br /><br />Saracho knows the area well. She draws from her family&rsquo;s experiences in the region, which has become increasingly famous for its drug and gang violence. <em>El Nogalar</em> revolves around the return of ex-patriots to their ancestral land. But to quote another writer &ndash; you can&rsquo;t go home again.<br /><br />The play, which is a co-production with <a target="_blank" href="http://www.teatrovista.org/">Teatro Vista</a>, opens at the Goodman Theatre Saturday. Director <a target="_blank" href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/ArtistPopups/CecilieKeenan.aspx">Cecilie Keenan</a> and Tanya Saracho joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss the work.</p><p><em>Music Button: Calexico, &quot;Maria Chuchena&quot;, from the CD Toolbox, (Our Soil, Our Strength)</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Mar 2011 12:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-24/new-play-moves-classic-story-mexico-84183 Hollywood casting in black and white http://www.wbez.org/story/coya-paz/hollywood-casting-black-and-white <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/tara true blood.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hollywood is often accused of whitewashing when it comes to its casting choices. Offenses range from the mundane - sitcoms with all white casts and the token &ldquo;best-friend&ndash;character-of-color&rdquo; - to the brazen. Take for example the movie <a href="http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/21/">21</a>. The film was based on the <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/is-bringing-down-the-house-a-fraud/">mostly true</a> story of a group of M.I.T. students who pulled a massive card counting scheme in a Vegas casino and walked away with millions. In real life the majority of students were Asian American. But the film was cast with nearly all white actors.</p><p>Of course, just casting actors of color doesn&rsquo;t fully solve the issue of minority media representation. Even when characters of color do appear onscreen they can spawn a love-hate relationship with audiences from their own demographic. For example, is&nbsp;Tara from HBO's <em>True Blood</em> just another offensive example of <a href="http://www.racialicious.com/2008/09/24/true-blood-tired-stereotypes/">the sassy black friend</a>? &nbsp;Or is she a strong character in her own right? On one hand, viewers are excited to see representations of themselves onscreen; on the other hand, they often cringe at what they see.</p><p>This was one observation made by a panel of media makers convened by Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/">Goodman Theater</a> to dish on representations of people of color in the media. In the mix were some local creative heavy-weights: writer/director Coya Paz, singer and producer Shilpa Bavikatte, and filmmaker Vaun Monroe. As artists and media makers they are especially attuned to the way people of color are portrayed on stage and screen. And in the audio excerpt above they talk about the kinds of portrayals that stir up their profound irritation and ambivalence.</p><p><em>Dynamic Range showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Coya Paz, Shilpa Bavikatte and Vaun Monroe spoke to an audience at the </em><a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/"><em>Goodman Theater</em></a><em> in February. Click </em><a href="../../../../../../story/culture/theater/airing-dirty-laundry-stories-we-cannot-tell"><em>here</em></a><em> to hear the event in its entirety, and click </em><a target="_blank" href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wbez/id364380278"><em>here</em></a><em> to subscribe to the Dynamic Range podcast. </em></p></p> Fri, 11 Mar 2011 18:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/coya-paz/hollywood-casting-black-and-white A look inside the mayor's arts & culture transition team http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-10/look-inside-mayors-arts-culture-transition-team-83531 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/109357689.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="415" width="500" alt="" title="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-11/109357689.jpg" /></p><p>So maybe I missed it, but now I get it 'cause someone actually has sent out a press release that makes it all clear: Chicago Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel's Transition Team--which heretofore most folks understood to be a tight-knit handful of people--actually is a broad-spectrum set of six committees addressing areas as diverse as Economic Planning, Public Safety, Energy and Environment and Arts and Culture. Naturally, we're ONLY interested in Arts and Culture (joking).</p><p>The Arts &amp; Culture Committee has 13 members about evenly split between arts managers and powers in the funding community. Among the arts managers are Lane Alexander (a dancer, and founding artistic director of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project), Sound Culture founder David Chavez, Marwen (visual arts education) Executive Director Antonio Contro, MCA Board Chair Mary Ittelson, Broadway In Chicago Vice-President Eileen LeCario, Chicago Children's Choir Artistic Director Josephine Lee and Philip Thomas, newly-appointed head of eta Creative Arts Foundation.</p><p>The money folk include top-name representatives of the Boeing Company (Angel Ysaguirre), Chicago Community Trust (Cheryl Hughes) and the Joyce Foundation (Michelle Boone). Also on the Arts &amp; Culture Committee are consultants Helen Doria and Marj Halperin plus Arts Alliance Illinois Executive Director Ra Joy.<br /><br />It's a diverse and experienced line-up, and one which is NOT dominated by representatives of Chicago's clout-heavy major Downtown cultural institutions (Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony, Goodman Theatre, Art Institute, Joffrey Ballet, etc.). Emanuel has said that the strength of the arts in Chicago can be found in the neighborhoods (well, he was speaking specifically about theater) and, certainly, the funding agents on the Committee are intimately acquainted with many smaller neighborhood non-profits.</p><p>The presence of Ra Joy also means the Committee has someone plugged into a state-wide network. No chair of the Committee has been appointed. According to a spokesperson from Emanuel&rsquo;s press office &ldquo;they all sit as equals.&rdquo; The spokesperson stopped short of saying the Committee would develop a comprehensive cultural plan for Chicago (as Emanuel pledged during the campaign) and said only that the group would develop &ldquo;both long-term and short-term recommendations.&rdquo;</p><p><meta charset="utf-8" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 11 Mar 2011 04:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-10/look-inside-mayors-arts-culture-transition-team-83531 Biggest Chicago theater disappointments of 2010 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/%EF%BB%BFonstagebackstage-biggest-chicago-theater-disappointments-2010 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/brother sister.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="332" width="500" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-16/brother sister.jpg" alt="" /></p><p>1. &quot;The Brother/Sister Plays&quot; at <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/">Steppenwolf.</a> This trilogy was supposed to be the unveiling of a major new talent addressing the African-American experience, and instead it turned out to be a single excellent one-act flanked by one that was mediocre and another that was out-and-out poor. (&quot;Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet,&quot; seemed virtually pointless.) Tarell Alvin McCraney may be a big deal but we have yet to see it except in &quot;The Brothers Size,&quot; which also had the unfair advantage of starring K. Todd Freeman, who just gets better and better.</p><p>2. &quot;Candide&quot; at <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/">the Goodman</a>. When Leonard Bernstein, Voltaire and Lillian Hellman (to name only a few) meet Mary Zimmerman, what could possibly be bad? In this case, the answer is &ldquo;this musical,&rdquo; and actually it shouldn&rsquo;t have been a surprise: when that many people have had to take a crack at a piece, there&rsquo;s most likely something fundamentally wrong. In the case of &quot;Candide,&quot; what&rsquo;s wrong is that a very time-and-place-specific satire doesn&rsquo;t transfer well from 18th Century France to 2st Century America; and that even if it did the satire wouldn&rsquo;t be well-served by music; and that even if it would this particular group of songs wouldn&rsquo;t be worth listening to. &ldquo;What a day, what a day, for an auto-da-fe&rdquo; is supposed to be daring and witty, but to me it&rsquo;s just reaching, and failing to grasp. And no amount of Zimmerman-style reinvention, or the brutally hard work of the cast, could fix that.</p><p>3. &quot;Krapp&rsquo;s Last Tape&quot; at <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/">the Goodman</a>. Brian Dennehy did an extraordinary job in the companion piece, &quot;Hughie,&quot; which turned out to be pure distillate of O&rsquo;Neill&mdash;every one of his themes and characters embodied by two actors in one act. But even Dennehy&rsquo;s thoughtful munching on a series of bananas, and the lively work of the signer for the hearing-impaired, couldn&rsquo;t conceal that &quot;Krapp&rsquo;s Last Tape&quot; is less distillate of Beckett than the dregs. The play is historically significant but that doesn&rsquo;t mean it needs to be inflicted on audiences.</p><p>4. &quot;101 Dalmatians&quot; at <a href="http://www.broadwayinchicago.com/">Broadway in Chicago</a>. How do you take a well-nigh perfect cartoon musical and ruin it? By promising real dogs on the stage and then using people in spotted dog suits to portray the actual characters. Of course, what else could they do? Dogs can&rsquo;t actually talk. But the result was that the pooches&rsquo; red-carpet arrival, and their program bios identifying most of them as rescue dogs, were more engaging than the goings-on onstage. I felt ripped off, and I saw it for free. Imagine what parents who&rsquo;d paid big bucks for the privilege were thinking as they watched a canine/human collective laying an egg.</p><p>5. &quot;The Comedy of Errors&quot; at <a href="http://www.courttheatre.org/">Court Theatre</a>. Sean Graney is known for bringing a fresh approach to familiar works, and it&rsquo;s hard to imagine a work needing a freshness more than &quot;The Comedy of Errors,&quot; Shakespeare&rsquo;s first and least sophisticated play. But it&rsquo;s still Shakespeare, and therefore most likely still worth doing with at least some of its text intact. Apparently, though, Graney didn&rsquo;t agree, because every second of his gimmicky rendition felt like the work of someone who thinks the play is worthless&mdash;in which case, why direct it at all? The device of having each set of twins played by one person wasn&rsquo;t enough to sustain the evening, even an evening that&rsquo;s only 70 minutes long, and it drew attention away from the stage to the wings, where presumably impossible feats of costumery were taking place. In fact, the best part of the production was that it acknowledged its costume run crew in the curtain call.</p><p>'The Brothers/Sister Plays' rehearsal photo of ensemble member Alana Arenas with Jacqueline Williams. (photo courtesy of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company/Mark Campbell)<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 16 Dec 2010 19:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/%EF%BB%BFonstagebackstage-biggest-chicago-theater-disappointments-2010 Goodman Collective adds Rebecca Gilman http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/goodman-collective-adds-rebecca-gilman <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/rebecca-gilman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span lang="en"><img hspace="8" height="301" width="195" border=".1" align="left" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-06/rebecca-gilman.jpg" />Playwright Rebecca Gilman has been named to the Goodman Theatre Artistic Collective, the fellowship of senior national theater veterans who form the Goodman's creative think tank reporting to artistic director Robert Falls.</span></p><p><span lang="en">Based in Chicago, Gilman has a decade-long association with the Goodman, which has staged the world premieres of Gilman's <i>Spinning Into Butter</i>, <i>Blue Surge</i>, <i>Boy Gets Girl</i>, <i>Dollhouse </i>and last season's <i>A True History of the Johnstown Flood</i>. Earlier in her career Gilman, 45, was associated with the Circle Theatre and Chicago Dramatists (she remains on the CD advisory board). </span></p><p><span lang="en">With the Goodman as a springboard, Gilman's plays have been produced extensively around the country and in the United Kingdom. She was born in Alabama, and has an MFA from the University of Iowa Playwright's Workshop. She teaches at Northwestern University in addition to writing. At the Goodman Theatre, she'll join Mary Zimmerman and playwright Regina Taylor among other members of the Artistic Collective.</span></p></p> Tue, 07 Dec 2010 04:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/goodman-collective-adds-rebecca-gilman