WBEZ | The Big Meal http://www.wbez.org/tags/big-meal Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en What the Jeff Awards left out http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-08/what-jeff-awards-left-out-87589 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-08/Festen_Lev4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img a="" alt="" class="caption" for="" jeff="" nominated="" not="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-08/Festen_Lev4.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px; " title="The cast of "></p><p>A Jeff recommendation is the first step. If your production isn’t recommended for <em>something</em>on opening night, you can’t be nominated for an award—or get one. So it’s no surprise, looking at <a href="http://www.jeffawards.org/home/index.cfm">this year’s Jeff-recommended productions</a>, to see that the roster is long and inclusive.&nbsp;</p><p>That makes certain curious omissions even curiouser. Like <a href="http://www.steeptheatre.com/shows/shows_main.html">Steep Theatre’s <em>Festen</em></a>, a production that’s gotten rave reviews—and is sold out through the end of the run, no surprise given the incredible acting, direction, and stagecraft.</p><p>But <em>Festen&nbsp;</em>is about incest. Could the problem—for the Jeff committee, anyway—have been the subject?</p><p>It’s not the only strange omission. Despite a similar array of dazzling reviews, Trap Door’s <em>Hamletmachine </em>also got stood up for a Jeff rec. What was the issue there? My guess: playwright Heiner Muller’s experimental approach, Jonathan Guillen’s original operatic music, and Max Truax’s chilling staging. All just too weird.</p><p>At least Trap Door’s <em>First Ladies</em>—which was about s**t—got recommended, which allowed Nicole Wiesner to get nominated for best actress, which allowed her to tie for the award with Caroline Neff. (<a href="http://www.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-07/robots-invade-jeff-awards-martians-next-87512">Jonathan, you left the best actress awardees out!)</a> But why were supporting actresses Dado and Beata Pilch not nominated for their stellar work in Werner Schwab’s gut-wrenching play?&nbsp;</p><p>Even Tanya Saracho’s <em>El Nogalar</em>, a Goodman/Teatro Vista coproduction that updated <em>The Cherry Orchard&nbsp;</em>to contemporary Mexico, got ignored by the Jeff committee. Completely. Really? It wasn’t good enough in any way to be recommended for anything? Though I’d call that piece a good idea that didn’t quite work out, it was more than worth seeing for the script’s inspired parallels, its comedy, and the impressive acting.</p><p>Meanwhile moldy old chestnuts like <em>Seven Brides for Seven Brothers&nbsp;</em>and <em>The Odd Couple&nbsp;</em>got green-lighted. Even the new plays on the list played it safe, including such empty, easy, formulaic fare as <em>Sex With Strangers&nbsp;</em>and <em>The Big Meal</em>. We all hear about the catastrophic aging of the theater audience, but not so often about its possible cause, effect, or both. Could the theater community’s conservative tastes be producing a vicious cycle of the tried-and-true?</p></p> Wed, 08 Jun 2011 17:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-08/what-jeff-awards-left-out-87589 Off-Loop hit 'The Big Meal' goes to eight shows a week http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-09/loop-hit-big-meal-goes-eight-shows-week-83464 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/thebigmeal.gif" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="397" width="286" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-09/thebigmeal.gif" alt="" title="" /></p><p>What do you do at a subscription theater when you have a hit? Why, you extend it, of course, for a week or two or even three if possible until the next production just can't be put off any longer. Naturally, that's precisely what American Theater Company (ATC) has done with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-03/dueling-critics-review-big-meal-83320">&quot;The Big Meal,&quot;</a> the Chicago premiere of the award-winning Off-Broadway play by Dan LeFranc that uses eight people to tell the story of five generations of a family, all in 75 minutes. It's been extended twice but must close March 27.</p><p>However, ATC has done more than merely extend the show, which they say is the biggest box office hit in the troupe's history. ATC has taken several unusual steps to maximize its income. First, ATC has doubled the number of performances each week from four to eight, which may be unprecedented in Off-Loop Theater history. The standard Off-Loop performance week is between three and six shows. Eight-a-week is what Broadway touring shows do Downtown, so ATC's Tuesday-Sunday schedule is unique among the circuit of smaller Off-Loop theaters. Next, for the final week of the run, March 22-27, ATC has suspended the standard student/senior discount and jacked up the ticket price to $45 for all seats and all performances.</p><p>Hey, it's the ol' law of supply and be damned. Tickets between now and March 20 are at the usual prices and with discounts in place, but &quot;The Big Meal&quot; already is sold out for every show this week and next week except Tuesday night (March 15). If you want to see this hit, you're going to have to pay top dollar during the final week of its run.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 09 Mar 2011 18:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-09/loop-hit-big-meal-goes-eight-shows-week-83464