WBEZ | The Hypocrites http://www.wbez.org/tags/hypocrites Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 Halena Kays revives 'Six Characters' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-22/halena-kays-revivessix-characters-96626 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-22/Six Characters 1b Landscape.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-22/helena kays.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 269px; height: 400px; " title="">"This year has been wild!” says Halena Kays. And she ticks off the items contributing to wildness: “Take over a company [the Hypocrites], direct some shows [<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-14/jay-torrence-playwright-behind-latest-neo-futurist-sensation-burnin"><em>Burning Bluebeard</em></a>, <em>Six Characters in Search of an Author</em>].” Plus last fall, while performing in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-16/dueling-critics-kid-thing-delves-family-issues-modern-twist-92069"><em>The Kid Thing</em></a>, she found out she was having her first baby—due in two months. “Rehearsing <em>Six Characters </em>pregnant was crazy,” she says. “And we killed those poor children off! This baby’s gonna be nuts…”</p><p>I doubt that. Obviously Kays’s experience—she also founded and, until recently, directed <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-11/monkeys-business-whats-behind-grandmas-success-86396">Barrel of Monkeys</a>—has given her insight into acting, directing and administrating. Which bodes well for the maturity handy with both a new baby and a new gig as the Hypocrites’ artistic director.</p><p>However, Kays is living proof that maturity and nuttiness can coexist. While re-reading <em>Six Characters</em>, she says, “I thought I was going to die of boredom.” Though she understood the play’s historical importance and good points (“Pirandello has a great sense of humor about himself and about theater”), to her it was “a dusty philosophical treatise.”</p><p>So one night when she was out with writer Steve Moulds in Austin, Texas—where both were UT grad students at the time—Kays said, “‘Someone explain to me what’s interesting about this play!’ We talked about it, and by the end I was like, ‘If you can write <em>that</em> adaptation, I’d direct that play.’”</p><p>He did, and she did. <a href="http://www.the-hypocrites.com/">Their 90-minute baby</a> transforms and energizes this chestnut, now nearly a century old, partly by multiplying its meta-theatrical layers.&nbsp;</p><p>For one thing, the Director in this version is kinda, sorta like Kays herself. “Anytime someone comes in and takes over for an amazing founding director [Sean Graney at the Hypocrites], then directs her first show—that’s too much pressure! One great way to handle it is to poke fun at the whole situation. I’m just really glad that people are responding positively to that—we tried to keep inside jokes out of it for the most part, because they can be really annoying.”</p><p>Moulds and Kays also had the four actors (three of them former or current BOM members) playing the Company noodle around with their portions of the script. “They helped create the work with Steve,” she says, “and then he went away and wrote for them.” The result: some very hapless, very funny slacker theater types.</p><p>It’s not just a game, though. “You’re playing yourself, but you’re really not,” says Kays. “You’re playing an idea of yourself—and what version is that?” The hyper-contemporary world of the framing device, which produces a “super-realistic feeling as though it’s improvised,” is meant to collide, she says, with the highly stylized theatrical world of the six characters and “make you contemplate the nature of reality and the nature of making art.”</p><p>The play may seem a goof, but it’s been carefully scripted and rehearsed. Brennan Buhl, who plays the bumbling but crucial Director, is one of the hardest-working actors she knows, Kays says. “It’s as if he’s just funny by accident. And none of it is funny by accident—it’s all skill.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-22/Six Characters 1b Landscape.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 449px; " title="The cast of 'Six Characters'"></p><p>The Hypocrites' adaptation is also painstakingly staged, including the way the action shifts around from one platform or performing area to another. (Swiveling chairs help prevent whiplash.)</p><p>“Point of view is such a big part of <em>Six Characters</em>,” Kays says. “Whose point of view is the story coming from, and what is truth, and how do you communicate that truth? I wanted to set up a space where your point of view is really dependent on where you sit.” And where you choose to look when the action ricochets between stages.&nbsp; Lights and sound also get amped up at the end. “Our goal was that the space you walk into feels very different from the space at the height of the Characters’ story. And when you go back to that original space, it feels shocking to be back in ‘reality.’”</p><p>Most of the dialogue and devices in this <em>Six Characters</em> do double-duty of some kind. The Director’s lines sound suspiciously like Kays’s hopes and dreams. “Like, what he wants is to have his own triumph,” she says. “Like, why else do we make theater? We’re not making any money. And the respect comes and goes. Why do this, except to do something new, and tell a story?”</p></p> Wed, 22 Feb 2012 15:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-22/halena-kays-revivessix-characters-96626 Daily Rehearsal: Adapting Sophocles for modern times http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-15/daily-rehearsal-adapting-sophocles-modern-times-92028 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-15/Sophocles%20600x300%20web%20image%20v2(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-15/Sophocles%2520600x300%2520web%2520image%2520v2%281%29.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 150px; " title=""><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Man-about-town Sean Graney is doing well adapting classic texts</strong></span></span>; <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/14940787/sophocles-seven-sicknesses-at-the-hypocrites-theater-review">Kris Vire says</a> his style could be described as "an indifference to language and context but with a consummate reverence for theme." But Graney's <em>Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses </em>at the <a href="http://www.the-hypocrites.com/">Hypocrties </a>is reportedly equipped with a "phenomenal 12-person ensemble" and an evening that is almost four hours long. Ouch.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. The Chicago Dramatists have announced</strong></span></span> their new Resident Playwrights. They include Reginald Edmund, Rohina Malik, Jayme McGhan, and Martín Zimmerman. Those are <em>some</em> names. They'll keep 11 residents going in a three-year term, to work with the company on original plays. Some past writers-in-residence include Tina Fey and Sarah Ruhl, so you're in good company.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Don't know what to do?</strong></span></span> <em>Be a Good Little Widow</em>&nbsp;at Collaboraction this weekend. It's a funny play about death by Bekah Brunstetter that did well in New York in May, when <a href="http://theater.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/theater/reviews/be-a-good-little-widow-at-ars-nova-review.html">David Rooney wrote</a>, "Written when Ms. Brunstetter was a 2009 playwright in residence at Ars Nova, this modest but delicately satisfying serio-comedy keeps threatening to get cute, yet always chooses a more unexpected direction."</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-15/the reader arts preview.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 174px; height: 200px; " title=""><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Oracle (or "public access theater")</strong></span></span> has released the listings for their 2012 season. They'll have <em>Ironmistress </em>by April De Angelis, <em>The Maids</em> by Jean Genet, and <em>The Sandman</em> by E.T.A. Hoffmann. And <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-05/daily-rehearsal-marc-maron-takes-over-chicago-and-interview-show-90"><em>Radio Goggles</em></a> is back, for a round two. It all starts in early January.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. More fall performance previews</strong></span></span>, <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/fall-arts-season-preview-listings-shows/Content?oid=4622139">today courtesy of the <em>Reader </em></a>on their usual Thursday. They'll tell you about directors, comedians and choreographers to watch (all of whom are male; take note).</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 14:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-15/daily-rehearsal-adapting-sophocles-modern-times-92028 Paper Machete: Victorian vulgarity and The Hypocrites of Penzance http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/paper-machete-victorian-vulgarity-and-hypocrites-penzance <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/hypocrits.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="309" width="450" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-14/163435_482241467388_44127252388_5662845_1719454_n.jpg" /><br />(Photo courtesy of the-hypocrites.com)</p><p>Last weekend at The Paper Machete, we talked about the culture of theater in Victorian London. The gaslit auditoriums were hardly ideal for the performers: the sounds, the smells, and the audience made it nigh impossible for artists to accomplish something resembling art.</p><p>Yet out of this same culture, came the famous W.S.&nbsp;Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan and their novel light operas. After we discussed their impact on theater(as well as their business practices), the Hypocrites dropped by to perform a few songs from their recent production of Gilbert and Sullivan's &quot;The Pirates of&nbsp;Penzance.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 12 Jan 2011 19:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/paper-machete-victorian-vulgarity-and-hypocrites-penzance Top 5 comedies of 2010 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/onstagebackstage-top-5-comedies-2010 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/second city.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="316" width="500" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-20/second city.jpg" alt="" /></p><p>Buddhist goes up to a hotdog stand, says &ldquo;Make me one with everything.&rdquo; Y&rsquo;know, comedy is a funny thing. That&rsquo;s why I&rsquo;ve made a separate list of the five best comedies of 2010, distinct from the five best dramas. My Dueling Critic colleague, Kelly Kleiman, made no such list, which says a lot about her sense of humor. She doesn&rsquo;t understand the difference between funny-haha and funny-peculiar. If you do, consider the following:<br /> <br />1. &ldquo;The Absolute Best Friggin&rsquo; Time of Your Life,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.secondcity.com/">The Second City</a> etc. Well, the &ldquo;junior&rdquo; division of the Great Octopus of Improvisational Comedy&mdash;aka The Second City&mdash;knocked it over the wall with this deafeningly-loud, lightening-fast revue which actually managed to be topical and political as well as funny. Of course, problem with topical humor is it changes so quickly. Then again, with politics the more things change, the more they stay the same. Oh well, I guess Second City won&rsquo;t have Daley to kick around anymore.<br /> <br />2. &ldquo;Tobacco Road,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.americanbluestheater.com/">American Blues Theater</a>. This was the comeback show for the original ensemble troupe that split from American Theater Company, and it was a doozy. American Blues extracted all the juicy, hypocritical fun out of this earthy, tawdry look at a hard-scrabble poor 1930s Appalachian family. American Blues made it delish to feel superior to Jeeter and Ada Lester and clan, the folks who live on the dark side of Walton&rsquo;s Mountain. <br /><br />3. &ldquo;Speed the Plow,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.atcweb.org/">American Theater Company</a>. OK, gotta&rsquo; give the devil his due, with or without the American Blues contingent. As one half of its Mamet Repertory, American Theater Company unleashed pitch-perfect actors Darrell W. Cox and Lance Baker as the well-dressed but foul-mouthed Hollywood whores of this vicious satire on motion picture deal-making. Often simply too, too darkly comic to laugh.<br /><br />4. &ldquo;K.&rdquo;, <a href="http://www.the-hypocrites.com/">The Hypocrites</a>. Greg Allen&mdash;former artistic director of the Neo-Futurists&mdash;has been refining his adaptation of Franz Kafka&rsquo;s &ldquo;The Trial&rdquo; for some years, and he&rsquo;s turned it into a brilliant Absurdist comedy; you know, an arbitrary world in which there are no reasons or answers. Would Kafka approve? Who knows, who cares? He died before finishing this one. Allen&rsquo;s directed his own wonderful script with an abundance of meta-theatrical devices, all of which work for a change, especially the brilliant scenic design of 15 doors. <br /><br />5. &ldquo;Travels with My Aunt,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.writerstheatre.org">Writers&rsquo; Theatre</a>. This is (it&rsquo;s running well into March) one of the best shows of the year as well as one of the best comedies. Simply put, theater doesn&rsquo;t get better than this. Grahame Green&rsquo;s richly comic novel&mdash;sort-of Auntie Mame only her nephew is 55 before she gets hold of him&mdash;is wittily adapted for four adept actors all of whom dazzle and charm in multiple roles. The clever scenic design and the turn-on-dime staging make this a huge show in the most intimate of venues.. <br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 28 Dec 2010 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/onstagebackstage-top-5-comedies-2010