WBEZ | Tellin Tales Theater http://www.wbez.org/tags/tellin-tales-theater Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Top 5 overlooked shows of 2010 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/onstagebackstage-top-5-overlooked-shows-2010 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Thebetterdoctor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;"><img height="364" width="485" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-28/Thebetterdoctor.jpg" title="" alt="" /></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">With the burgeoning number of theater blogs, Chicago productions are rarely overlooked completely. But a few that I saw in 2010 weren&rsquo;t given the props they deserved. When creative productions go unnoticed, that&rsquo;s bad news for both the industry and the theatergoing public.&nbsp;</p> <p>1) <a href="http://www.tellintalestheatre.org/">Tellin&rsquo; Tales Theatre</a>&rsquo;s &ldquo;A Midsummer Night&rsquo;s Dreamers&rdquo; ran just two weekends in June, but it was a find. This evening of four monologues on the subject of insomnia, curated by Tekki Lomnicki, was often hilarious and/or disconcertingly up-front and true. I don&rsquo;t know why this particular, highly personal brand of performance&mdash;a cross between stand-up and autobiographical confession&mdash;seems to have gone out of style.</p> <p>2) Despite its attention-grabbing title, &ldquo;Six Dead Queens and an Inflatable Henry!&rdquo; was neglected by both the Trib and TimeOut in April. <a href="http://www.piccolotheatre.com/index.html">Piccolo Theatre</a>&rsquo;s freewheeling take on Foursight Theatre&rsquo;s 1999 show had a manic charm from the get-go, when all six of Henry&rsquo;s dead wives roiled beneath the covers of a giant raked bed. Heavily caricatured yet poignant, the queens bickered jealously over their standing with the king&mdash;never mind that he&rsquo;d had them all murdered. Ultimately they formed an odd, likable little community of losers.</p> <p>3) In June, newcomer <a href="http://bootstrapscomedy.com/">Bootstraps Comedy Theatre</a> joined forces with the Silent Theatre Company in &ldquo;The Better Doctor,&rdquo; a wordless spoof of/homage to silent film. In a loopy way, writer-director Matt Lyle lavished attention on his very funny show, which included a live two-man band and humorous projected titles. Bootstraps&rsquo; impressive debut, which looked at health care reform through the lens of a more innocent era, made me wish for more from them, especially spot-on physical comedian Samuel Zelitch. So far the company hasn&rsquo;t resurfaced.</p> <p>4) <a href="http://www.katettheatre.org/">Ka-Tet Theatre</a>&rsquo;s &ldquo;In the Jungle of Cities&rdquo; wasn&rsquo;t exactly neglected when it opened in late October. But it didn&rsquo;t get the respect it deserved, including from me. Bertolt Brecht&rsquo;s early play raises plenty of barriers to appreciation, including but not limited to an inexplicable plot and unsympathetic, inexplicable characters. But under the direction of Max Truax, Ka-Tet not only remained true to Brecht&rsquo;s difficult vision but expanded on it. One made-up character&mdash;the Barker, played by Rory Jobst&mdash;recited the same boxing anecdote into a wall several times. And made it funny. Tracy Otwell&rsquo;s brilliant set transformed Red Tape&rsquo;s ancient, pedestrian church gym/theater into a surreal hell.&nbsp;</p> <p>5) <a href="http://chicagotaptheatre.com/">Chicago Tap Theatre</a> does tap-dance, but artistic director Mark Yonally also has a gift for theater&mdash;including tap-danced narratives. His endearing, satirical wordless comedy about online dating, &ldquo;LoveTaps,&rdquo; played two weekends in March at Stage 773, but did anyone but dance fans go? In a genius ploy, audiences got to vote on who&rsquo;d hook up with whom in Act 2. And in June, Yonally&rsquo;s shamelessly theatrical &ldquo;Queen Suite&rdquo; closed the &ldquo;Tap Out Loud&rdquo; showcase with a choir, an opera singer, a marching band, and dozens of tap professionals and students of all ages coming up onstage (and spilling off it&hellip;) to freely interpret six songs by Queen.</p><p><strong>(Photo credit: The Better&nbsp;Doctor, featuring Kim Lyle and Samuel Zelitch)</strong></p></p> Wed, 29 Dec 2010 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/onstagebackstage-top-5-overlooked-shows-2010