WBEZ | steppenwolf http://www.wbez.org/tags/steppenwolf Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Best date spots in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/best-date-spots-chicago-107951 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/promontory point.jpg" style="float: right; width: 400px; height: 270px; " title="A summer's day on Promontory Point. (Flickr/Dottie B)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Summer is prime dating season in Chicago, so why not get out there and enjoy it?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Whether you&#39;re looking to surprise your significant other or treat your longtime crush to a first date that both of you will never forget, these fun-filled activities are sure to make sparks fly:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>For the foodies:</strong></div><p>A Sunday stroll through a neighborhood<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/farmers_market.html" target="_blank"> farmer&#39;s market</a> or Friday night sojourn to a&nbsp;<a href="http://chicago.metromix.com/stories/1839-2013-chicago-festival-guide" target="_blank">street fest</a>&nbsp;with food trucks aplenty is a great way to introduce your date to new cuisines while still being able to walk, talk and enjoy the summer scenery.</p><p>If you do decide to go to a restaurant, make it an early dinner (I suggest Balena, Bluebird or Tango Sur) and then check out a new play at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org" target="_blank">Steppenwolf Garage</a>&nbsp;or comedy show at <a href="http://ioimprov.com/chicago/" target="_blank">iO Theater</a>,&nbsp;both tickets $20 or less.&nbsp;Have a drink afterwards (I&#39;m partial to The Violet Hour and Bangers &amp; Lace) to discuss your favorite parts.</p><p><strong>For the artists: </strong></p><p><a href="http://bottleandbottega.com" target="_blank">Bottle &amp; Bodega</a> and <a href="http://www.artsnspirits.com" target="_blank">Arts n Spirits</a>&nbsp;are perfect spots for couples to sip on wine or mimosas as they paint. And while a thorough canvassing of the <a href="http://chicago.about.com/od/arts/p/MCAChicago.htm" target="_blank">Museum of Contemporary Art </a>and a <em>Ferris Bueller</em>-style jaunt through the <a href="http://www.artic.edu" target="_blank">Art Institute</a>&nbsp;are essential outings for any artsy duo, Chicago has a multitude of other musuems to explore. Check out a gallery opening in Pilsen or the South Loop, walk through the highly underrated <a href="http://www.mocp.org" target="_blank">Museum of Contemporary Photography</a>&nbsp;or make pottery à la<em> Ghost</em>&nbsp;at <a href="http://penguinfoot.com" target="_blank">Penguin Foot</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>For the nerds:</strong></p><p>If you&#39;re into vintage games, make a date at one of the city&#39;s best arcade bars:&nbsp;<a href="http://emporiumchicago.com" target="_blank">Emporium</a>, <a href="http://hqbeercade.com" target="_blank">Headquarters</a> or&nbsp;<a href="http://www.logan-hardware.com" target="_blank">Logan Hardware</a>&nbsp;(where you can also browse for vinyl, candy and comic books). Then keep the nerdy fun going all night long with sci-fi&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thelogantheatre.com/index.php/component/events/?view=events" target="_blank">movie trivia</a>&nbsp;at Logan Theatre or a hilarious&nbsp;<em>Stars Wars</em> cabaret at <a href="http://www.gorillatango.com" target="_blank">Gorilla Tango</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>For the music lovers:</strong></p><p>Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine to <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park1.html" target="_blank">Downtown Sound</a>&nbsp;for free music in Millenium Park, or pay $10 each to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the lawn at<a href="http://www.ravinia.org" target="_blank"> Ravinia</a>. Other cosy and cost-friendly spots to hear live music around the city include jazz at&nbsp;<a href="http://greenmilljazz.com/calendar/" target="_blank">The Green Mill</a>, folksy sets at&nbsp;<a href="http://evanstonspace.com" target="_blank">Evanston Space</a>, Free Music Mondays at <a href="http://emptybottle.com" target="_blank">The Empty Bottle&nbsp;</a>and Acoustic Brunch at <a href="http://www.schubas.com" target="_blank">Schubas</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>For the athletes:</strong></p><p>Go for a scenic bike ride on the lakefront or through the majestic&nbsp;<a href="http://fpdcc.com/downloads/bw_bikemap.pdf" target="_blank">Cook Country Forest Preserve</a>, and find places to stop for <a href="http://www.city-discovery.com/chicago/tour.php?id=3010" target="_blank">burgers and beers</a>&nbsp;along the way. Feel like challenging each other to a game of one-on-one? Break out the tennis racquets at one of these <a href="http://chitowntennis.com/TennisCourts" target="_blank">Chicago courts</a>&nbsp;or race up the climbing wall at <a href="http://ffc.com/climbingwall/old-town/" target="_blank">The Ledge</a> in Old Town.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>For the adventurers:</strong></p><p>Chicago was recently named the city with the <a href="http://articles.redeyechicago.com/2013-06-06/news/39794953_1_windy-city-raleigh-activities" target="_blank">most adrenaline junkies</a>&nbsp;in America, perhaps because of the endless thrill-seeking possibilities that await around every turn. For a truly exhilirating date to remember, take a trapeze class at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.actorsgymnasium.com" target="_blank">Actor&#39;s Gymnasium</a> in Evanston, ride in a<a href="http://www.balloonrideschicago.com" target="_blank"> hot air balloon</a> over Illinois or tandem sky dive at the <a href="http://www.skydivecsc.com" target="_blank">Chicagoland Skydiving Center</a> in Rochelle.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>For the bookworms:</strong></p><p>Experience the world-renowned <a href="http://www.slampapi.com/new_site/mill.htm" target="_blank">Uptown Poetry Slam</a> at the Green Mill, or visit one of the many <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-08/entertainment/ct-ott-1109-storytelling-20121108_1_chats-stories-tyler-clark" target="_blank">storytelling nights</a> at bookstores all over town. If you both have an undying love for the Bard, check out a&nbsp;performance by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.shakespeareprojectchicago.org" target="_blank">The Shakespeare Project</a> at a library near you.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>For the romantics:</strong></p><p>Take a picnic dinner to the beautiful <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promontory_Point_(Chicago)" target="_blank">Promontory Point</a>&nbsp;at sunset, snuggle up on the roof of <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ROOFontheWit" target="_blank">The Wit</a> for Movie Mondays or spring for $14 cocktails at the <a href="http://www.signatureroom.com" target="_blank">Signature Room</a>&nbsp;to gaze down at Chicago from the 95th Floor (believe me, it&#39;s worth it). If you really want to impress that special someone, a spectacular view can&#39;t be beat.&nbsp;</p><p>What are your favorite date spots in Chicago?</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;or <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 05 Jul 2013 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/best-date-spots-chicago-107951 Chicago wins big at Tony Awards http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-wins-big-tony-awards-107613 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP319987164507.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It was a big night for Chicago theater at the Tony Awards.</p><p>The musical &quot;Kinky Boots&quot; won the top award for Best Musical last night in New York. The Cindy Lauper show got its start with a pre-Broadway run last year in Chicago. It also won for Best Original Score and star Billy Porter won for Best Actor in a musical.</p><p>Chicago&#39;s Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of &quot;Who&#39;s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?&quot; brought in honors too. The production won for Best Revival of a Play and Steppenwolf ensemble member Tracy Letts won for Best Actor in a play.</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel congratulated Steppenwolf, saying the theater &quot;represents the best of Chicago&#39;s vibrant arts scene.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 10 Jun 2013 11:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-wins-big-tony-awards-107613 Marco Rubio's sip of water sets Twitter afire http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-02/marco-rubios-sip-water-sets-twitter-afire-105493 <p><p><a href="http://youtu.be/NLmZbBh83-I" target="_blank"><img alt="Marco Rubio's rebuttal speech" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20shot%202013-02-13%20at%205.56.47%20AM.png" style="height: 202px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Marco Rubio's furtive sip of water" /></a></p><p><strong>AN UNBOTTLED REBUTTAL.</strong> If you went to bed right after President Obama&#39;s State of the Union address last night, you missed one of the night&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.twitter.com/2013/02/2013-state-of-union.html" target="_blank">most tweetable moments</a>: Sen. Marco Rubio&#39;s furtive sip of water during his rebuttal on behalf of the Republican Party. <a href="http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/02/marco-rubio-state-union-response-drink-gifs/62084/" target="_blank"><em>The Atlantic</em> deconstructs it, frame by frame.</a><br />* Rubio followed up on Twitter with <a href="https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/301541052949614593" target="_blank">this</a>.<br />* ... But&nbsp;<a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57569101-93/poland-spring-blows-rubio-watergate-moment-fails-twitter-101/" target="_blank">Poland Spring blew its moment in the Twitter spotlight</a>.</p><p><strong>OBAMA&#39;S &#39;MOST IMPORTANT PROPOSAL&#39;?</strong>&nbsp;<em>New Republic</em>&#39;s Jonathan Cohn says it&#39;s the call for <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112403/state-union-2013-obamas-universal-pre-kindergarten-plan#" target="_blank">universal pre-kindergarten</a>.<br />* Worth noting:&nbsp;<em>Tea Party Nation</em> blogger predicted beforehand Obama speech would be &quot;<a href="http://www.teapartynation.net/state_of_the_union_liberals_are_the_new_nazis" target="_blank">a Hitlerian screed</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>HOW COPS CRACKED THE HADIYA CASE. </strong>A source tells the <em>Tribune</em> <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-hadiya-pendleton-investigation-20130213,0,6296139.story" target="_blank">the break in the murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton</a> came Saturday, from a Cook County Jail inmate.<br />* Obama&#39;s emotional finish: <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/9866814/State-of-the-Union-2013-President-Obama-makes-emotional-gun-control-pledge.html" target="_blank">Gun violence victims &quot;deserve a vote&quot; on legislation</a>.</p><p><strong>CHARTER SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL.</strong> A little more than a week after the <em>Sun-Times</em> revealed charter school operator United Neighborhood Organization paid state money to companies owned by two of his brothers, UNO senior vice president <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18187719-761/uno-exec-quits-after-grant-payments-to-relatives-revealed.html" target="_blank">Miguel d&#39;Escoto is quitting</a>.<br />* School-closings panel faces <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18181397-761/school-closings-panel-has-conflicts-of-interest-group-charges.html" target="_blank">conflict-of-interest charge</a>.</p><p><strong>NICE WORK IF YOU CAN COMMIT PLAGIARISM TO GET IT.</strong> The Knight Foundation <a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/204005/jonah-lehrer-talks-about-plagiarism-at-knight-lunch/" target="_blank">paid disgraced reporter Jonah Lehrer $20,000</a>,&nbsp;presumably in non-counterfeit money, to discuss his journalistic sins.<br />* And he did it as <a href="http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/02/jonah-lehrer-apologizes-surrounded-tweets-still-calling-him-plagiarist/62055/" target="_blank">critical tweets appeared on a screen behind him</a>.<br />* Parody website <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2013/02/12/sarah-palins-when-politics-and-celebrity-meet/?wprss=rss_she-the-people" target="_blank">fools <em>Washington Post</em></a> into <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/online/parody-website-fools-the-washington-post-into-thinking-sarah-palin-heading-to-al-jazeera/" target="_blank">reporting Sarah Palin joining Al Jazeera</a>.</p><p><strong>DEAD AIR. </strong>Someone hacked into TV stations&#39; Emergency Alert System to issue <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-zombie-montanabre91b1ia-20130212,0,5723490.story" target="_blank">a bogus warning of a zombie apocalypse</a>.<br />* <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130212/BLOGS08/130219926/comcast-to-buy-remainder-of-nbcuniversal-report" target="_blank">Comcast gobbling up rest of NBCUniversal</a>.</p><p><strong>&#39;MEET ME HALFWAY. <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=745p7-X1WtQC&amp;pg=PA21&amp;dq=%22meet+me+halfway.+buy+a+ticket%22+benkin&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=KQgbUc--IIaOyAH1-YAg&amp;ved=0CDoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q=%22meet%20me%20halfway.%20buy%20a%20ticket%22%20benkin&amp;f=false" target="_blank">BUY A TICKET</a>.&#39; </strong>An Off-Broadway hit, &quot;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/chi-old-jews-to-tell-jokes-in-chicago-20130212,0,5450195.column" target="_blank">Old Jews Telling Jokes</a>,&quot; is headed to Chicago. Guess what <a href="http://oldjewstellingjokesonstage.com/chicago/home/" target="_blank">it&#39;s about</a>.<br />* <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130212/NEWS07/130219931/steppenwolf-theatre-moving-ahead-with-expansion-plan" target="_blank">Steppenwolf Theatre expanding</a>.</p><p><strong>&#39;PRIDE AND CONNECTIONS AND WE&#39;RE NEVER CHANGING THE NAME SO GO F--- YOURSELF.&#39;&nbsp;</strong>That&#39;s&nbsp;<em>Deadspin</em>&#39;s translation of the Washington Redskins&#39; defense of the team nickname &quot;<a href="http://deadspin.com/5983475/washington-redskins-proudly-defend-their-name-in-the-dumbest-way-possible?tag=Media-Meltdowns" target="_blank">in the dumbest way possible</a>.&quot;<br />* <strong>[CORRECTED] </strong>Blackhawks suffer &quot;heartbreaking&quot; <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/18194215-419/ducks-tie-late-and-top-blackhawks-in-shootout-3-2.html" target="_blank"><strike>end to</strike>&nbsp;loss as streak without regulation losses reaches 13 games</a>.<br />* Bears <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/18188354-419/bears-cut-rehabbing-receiver-johnny-knox-after-lost-season.html" target="_blank">cut Johnny Knox</a>.</p><hr /><p><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong><br />* Get this blog by email. Sign up, free, <a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank">here</a>.<br />* Next WBEZ Meyerson News Quiz: Friday morning. Try your hand at previous quizzes <a href="http://www.wbez.org/results?s=%22meyerson%20WBEZ%20news%20quiz%22" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-02/marco-rubios-sip-water-sets-twitter-afire-105493 Forecast: A bold weekend's ahead. Throw caution to the wind! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-07/forecast-bold-weekends-ahead-throw-caution-wind-101016 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="458" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/45389178" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://vimeo.com/45389178">Nickel History: Nation of Heat</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/kristinreeves">Kristin Reeves</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p><p>For the past three summers running, Steppenwolf has played host to artist and actor <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/mark-bazer/2012-06/tony-fitzpatrick-artistic-beginnings-new-steppenwolf-show-100251">Tony Fitzpatrick&rsquo;s American trilogy</a>, a theatrical train of thought and performance that meanders through some of the historical and mythical elements at play in our national psyche.</p><p>In <em>This Train</em> and <em>Stations Lost, </em><a href="http://tonyfitzpatrick.wordpress.com/">Fitzpatrick</a> explored his own life and Chicago&rsquo;s character. <em>Nickel History: A Nation of Heat</em> zeros in on ideas of sacrifice during World War II and in our current moment. But as much as the plays are showcases for Fitzpatrick&rsquo;s words and images, an equally significant element across the trilogy is the video and film work of <a href="http://reevesmachine.com/">Kristin Reeves.</a></p><p>Despite their differing mediums, there are quite a few parallels between Fitzpatrick and Reeves&rsquo; aesthetics. Both make work involving multiple levels of imagery, either jostled next to or layered atop one another. Both bring text into their images and re-purpose other existing media &ndash; from print advertisements to film. Reeves also says she shares Fitzpatrick&rsquo;s philosophy that the &ldquo;artist should bear witness&rdquo; to her times.</p><p>The video above serves as a set-up to the overall proceedings in <em>Nickel History</em>, but Reeves estimates she&rsquo;s created about 70 videos for the production. Some of them are quite short, what she calls <a href="http://vimeo.com/45280118">&ldquo;video haiku.&rdquo;</a> She adds &ldquo;A lot of them run synched up with one another, so what looks like one video may be five in total.&rdquo;</p><p>Reeves&rsquo;s videos also take on different roles in the production. &ldquo;Sometimes they play in tandem with other actions on the set. There might be an auditory poem performed by Carolyn (Hoerdemann). At the same time a video&rsquo;s being projected that runs along with that.&rdquo; At other moments the video acts as &ldquo;feature performer in a scene.&rdquo; As Reeves puts it, the video &ldquo;leads the way in terms of what the other actions are on stage.&rdquo;</p><p>The performance element of Reeve&rsquo;s work is, she thinks, what distinguishes it from more traditional video design for theater, which is often there to &ldquo;support the larger piece, like a prop. Whereas my work can enter the foreground, push forward the prop.&rdquo;</p><p>Reeves also has a very different relationship to theater in general, which she fell into more or less by accident. She did a one-off production with an actress friend, then a musician recruited her for another project, and so on and so on and so on &ndash; you know, the Chicago way.</p><p>Reeves feels more of a a connection to the world of experimental or &ldquo;expanded cinema,&rdquo; media artists working in film, video, sound or light. She&rsquo;s just finished up an MFA in Florida, where she also helps run <a href="http://www.flexfest.org/">FLEX</a>, the Florida Experimental Film/Video Festival. Her new solo work, <a href="http://vimeo.com/37903073">&ldquo;Je Ne Sais Plus [What is this Feeling],&rdquo;</a> (by the way, before you click through this video is NSFW) will be shown at <a href="http://mononoawarefilm.com/gallery_2011.html">Mono no aware</a>, a New York gallery (she also hopes to arrange a Chicago screening).</p><p>Still theater has affected Reeves&#39; approach, especially through her work with Fitzpatrick, which she says involved getting inside his head space, or doing a &ldquo;mental performance&rdquo; of his own life and ethos. As many Chicagoans well know, Fitzpatrick&rsquo;s no shrinking violet. Reeves agrees. &ldquo;He can be beautiful and delicate with words and images but he&rsquo;s not cautious. So I can&rsquo;t be cautious, I have to be really confident and bold as well.&rdquo;</p><p>You can see the collaboration between Reeves, Fitzpatrick and others <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/Plays-Events/productions/index.aspx?id=571">at Steppenwolf through Aug. 5.</a></p><p>The rest of Weekender&rsquo;s picks are below &ndash; get out there, and be bold!</p><p>&nbsp;</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/large_BabyTeeth.jpg" style="height: 174px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong><a href="http://www.lincolnhallchicago.com/">1. Baby Teeth&#39;s Final Show: The Last Schmaltz</a></strong></span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Friday 9:30 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The completely adorable and powerful pop group say farewell, with a stellar line-up of local music stars.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.lincolnhallchicago.com/">Lincoln Hall</a>&nbsp;&nbsp; 2424 N. Lincoln Ave</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/learnapalooza-the-chicago-skills-exchange.jpg" style="width: 240px; height: 180px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.learnapaloozachi.com/"><span style="font-size:16px;">2. Learnapalooza</span></a></strong></p><p>Saturday</p><p>Never mind the music events, get your thinking cap on at this day-long educational fest!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</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/silver%20room%202.jpg" style="height: 180px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/319151001507411/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>3. The Silver Room Block Party</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Saturday Noon - 10 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A day-long community block party hosted by boutique and event space The Silver Room.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://thesilverroom.com/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>The Silver Room</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tour%20de%20fat.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p><a href="http://www.newbelgium.com/events/tour-de-fat/tour-dates/chicago.aspx"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>4. Tour de Fat</strong></span></a></p><p>Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.</p><p>Get your beer and bike on at the <a href="http://www.newbelgium.com/enjoy-the-ride.aspx">New Belgium Brewing</a> event, and benefit local community group <a href="http://westtownbikes.org/">West Town Bikes</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Palmer Square</p><p>&nbsp;</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/frankie.jpg" style="height: 161px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/national-theatre-live-presents-frankenstein"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>5. National Theatre Live presents Frankenstein</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Sunday 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://benedictcumberbatch.co.uk/">Benedict Cumberbatch</a>, the fast talking CSI-ish star of the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00t4pgh">BBC&#39;s Sherlock</a>, does double duty as Dr. Frankenstein and his creature!</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/">Music Box Theatre</a>&nbsp;&nbsp; 3733 N. Southport Ave</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Please note that the audio has been corrected for the Baby Teeth show which takes place Friday night. </strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Click&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/weekender/id469524810" target="_blank">here</a>&nbsp;to subscribe to the&nbsp;<em>Weekender</em>&nbsp;podcast.</p><div>What&#39;re you up to this weekend? Let us know in the comments below or email weekender@wbez.org</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 20 Jul 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-07/forecast-bold-weekends-ahead-throw-caution-wind-101016 Don’t Miss List July 19-25: From the sublime to the ridiculous http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/%EF%BB%BFdon%E2%80%99t-miss-list-july-19-25-sublime-ridiculous-100987 <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/three%20sisters%202.jpg" title="Caroline Neff and Carrie Coon star in Steppenwolf’s production of ‘Three Sisters.’ (Steppenwolf/Michael Brosilow)" /></div><p><u><em><strong>Three Sisters</strong></em><u>, </u>Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30 plus matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 3; through August 26 at&nbsp;<a href="http://Steppenwolf.org/">Steppenwolf</a>; tickets $20-$78.&nbsp;</u></p><p><br />If you feel like you&rsquo;ve never grasped Chekhov, this is not the production to provide you with sudden illumination (like, say, a version of the play I once saw at Stratford).&nbsp;But if you&rsquo;ve always wondered why people say his plays are funny, this adaptation by Tracy Letts directed by Anna D. Shapiro will make that clear.&nbsp;Yasen Peyankov as the cuckolded schoolmaster and Scott Jaeck as the drunken doctor are particularly strong in the comic bits.&nbsp;All the play is missing is the powerful sexual energy that underlies all those aimless conversations; for, as Chekhov translator (and erstwhile Steppenwolf Artistic Associate) Curt Columbus explained, &ldquo;[It&rsquo;s not] some chaste and tepid attraction . . . . The people in Chekhov&rsquo;s plays want to f**k each other.&rdquo; &ndash;KK<br /><br /><u><em><strong>Reefer Madness</strong></em><u>,</u> opens Friday July 20 at 8; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 plus a matinee on Sunday at 3; through August 26 at&nbsp;<a href="http://circle-theatre.org/">Circle Theatre</a>, 1010 W. Madison in Oak Park; tickets $26-30.</u><br /><br />Though I haven&rsquo;t had the pleasure of seeing this yet, any musical adaptation of the old drug-scare movie has to be worth an evening.&nbsp;Circle has done many successful musicals, but I admit it&rsquo;s less the music than the likelihood of ludicrous dialogue that attracts me to the show.&nbsp;Remember, though: Marijuana is still against the law in old-fashioned Oak Park.&nbsp;But I wouldn&rsquo;t smoke in Chicago, either: You can get a ticket for that. &ndash;KK<br /><br />* * *</p><p>It won&#39;t help if you get out of the kitchen this summer; you&#39;ll still have to deal with the heat. It&#39;s the perfect time to see a show that&#39;s fun or familiar or both, and I have some suggestions that are camp or classic (or both, depending on the attitude of the producers).&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p><p><u><strong><em>Richard III</em></strong>, <a href="http://www.tickets@oakparkfestival.com">Oak Park Festival</a>, Austin Gardens, Oak Park;&nbsp;through Aug. 25; $25. </u></p><p><u><strong><em>The Merchant of Venice</em></strong>, <a href="http://www.firstfolio.org">First Folio Theatre</a>, Mayslake Forest Preserve (1717 31st Street) Oak Brook;&nbsp;through Aug. 19;&nbsp;$30-$37.</u></p><p><strong><em>Richard III</em></strong> and <strong><em>The Merchant of Venice</em></strong> are among Shakespeare&#39;s most familiar plays, the latter a dark comedy with a happy ending (unless you&#39;re Shylock) and the former a real boo-the-villain costume drama. My dad used to call <em>Richard III</em> &quot;Dick da&#39; shit&quot; because he was &quot;Richard da&#39; Turd.&quot; In any case, treat them as popular entertainment, which is precisely what they were in Shakespeare&#39;s day, and you&#39;ll have a good time. <em>The Merchant of Venice</em> is outdoors at the Mayslake Forest Preserve in Oak Brook and <em>Richard III</em> is outdoors in Oak Park. Remember: those West Suburban nights are COOLER than in-the-city nights.&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tony%20Etching.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px; " title="Anna Fermin and John Rice in 'Nickel History' (Photo by Johnny Knight)" /><u><strong><em>Little Shop of Horrors</em></strong>, Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Ind.; $20-$40; through Aug. 19. </u></p><p><u><strong><em>Reefer Madness</em></strong>, <a href="http://www.circle-theatre.org">Circle Theatre</a>, 1010 Madison Street, Oak Park; $26-$30 (plus service fee); through Aug. 26.</u></p><p>For pure campiness, you can&#39;t do much better than <strong><em>Little Shop of Horrors</em></strong> and <strong><em>Reefer Madness</em>,</strong> both successful Off-Broadway musicals based on cult classic non-musical films. <em>Little Shop</em>, with its man-eating antagonist, Audrey, is a cautionary tale about wild flowers while <em>Reefer Madness</em> pokes fun at America&#39;s decades-long criminalization of marijuana (use of which, the government tried to convince us, leads directly to promiscuity and insanity; well one outta&#39; two ain&#39;t bad). Both shows are presented in air conditioned comfort, <em>Reefer Madness</em> by Circle Theatre in Oak Park (yeah, again Oak Park) and <em>Little Shop</em> at Theatre at the Center, just around the tip of the lake in Munster, IN (a good stop going to/from a Saugatuck weekend, say).&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p></p> Thu, 19 Jul 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/%EF%BB%BFdon%E2%80%99t-miss-list-july-19-25-sublime-ridiculous-100987 World Theatre Day needs more than actor John Malkovich http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-19/world-theatre-day-needs-more-actor-john-malkovich-97447 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-20/AP111027124804.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-20/AP111027124804.jpg" style="width: 512px; height: 341px;" title="The International Theatre Institute selected actor John Malkovich as its spokesman for this year's celebration of World Theatre Day. (AP/Karel Navarro, file)"></p><p>Next Tuesday March 27 is World Theatre Day. You didn't know? You mean you are among the tiny minority of 7 billion people unfamiliar with World Theatre Day? How strange! After all, it's been celebrated for 50 years.</p><p>Truth be told, you won't get any robo-calls about World Theatre Day, but maybe you should. Because in terms of public awareness it ranks up there with Global Don't-Step-on-an-Aunt Day and International Mashed Potato Week (we mean the dance, of course). Still, it's been going on for a half-century, thanks to the International Theatre Institute (ITI), a global NGO established by UNESCO in 1948. Believe it or not, the ITI is the world's largest performing arts organization.</p><p>Each year, the ITI declares World Theatre Day, names an international spokesperson and solicits its various national sections to come up with ways to celebrate and publicize it. In the United States, that means coordinating numerous local celebrations, as theater always is a local phenomenon as opposed to a nationwide one. Unlike movies, which can be released everywhere at the same time, live theater is one production at a time in your own city, or even in your own neighborhood.</p><p>For us, the League of Chicago Theatres is the local agency promoting World Theatre Day in partnership with the Chicago Cultural Center, and several free public events are planned, some involving international theater artists who happen to be with visiting the Windy City just now.</p><p>There will be programs at the Cultural Center at 4 p.m. (panel discussion, "Artistic Dialogue Across Borders"), 5:30 p.m. (lecture/demonstration by Jaroslaw Fret of Poland's Teatr ZAR, "Pneumatics of the Actor: Theatre Out of the Spirit of Music"), and 7 p.m. (British-born playwright/director/singer Kwame Kwei-Armah in an untitled talk). These events, all in the Claudia Cassidy Theater of the Cultural Center, will be followed at 8 p.m. by a World Theatre Day Reception in GAR Hall. More info is available <a href="http://www.chicagoplays.com">here</a>.</p><p>This year there's an even stronger local tie-in, as the ITI has selected John Malkovich as author of this year's World Theatre Day Statement, "Reflections about the Art, Craft and Value of Theatre." Born and raised in Downstate Illinois, and still a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Johnny joins the likes of Judi Dench, Arthur Miller and Vaclav Havel as World Theatre Day spokesperson. His words will be translated into 20-some languages.</p><p>In his statement, Malkovich addresses his brief message "to my fellow theater workers, peers and comrades." I guess that leaves audiences and critics out, which is most of us:</p><p style="margin-left: 40px;">"May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do. May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life’s work. And may the best of you – for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments – succeed in framing that most basic of questions, 'how do we live?' Godspeed."</p><p>So, OK, World Theatre Day is all well and good and I'm all for it and it occurs to me that even, maybe, probably, Rick Santorum could support it 'cause it doesn't advocate anything political or even anything specific, just theater, and it doesn't cost the taxpayers a penny.</p><p>But it could be better. A lot better.</p><p>First of all, what the hell is it doing on Tuesday??!! It's a day when thousands of theaters around the world are dark. The only theaters with shows on Tuesdays are BIG commercial and institutional enterprises. The majority of small, local, neighborhood, youthful and experimental theater troupes only operate three or four nights a week, and Tuesday ain't one o' them. World Theatre Day should be an occasion on which theater folk, in their natural habitats, should be able to make a little curtain speech to their audiences and maybe pass out something with Johnny Malk's warm words. Tuesday is stooopid and the ITI needs to think hard about this in the future.</p><p>Next, why the hell March 27? If the ITI<em> must</em> pick a date arbitrarily, it should be—as I say above—a day when far more theaters are up-and-running. But why pick an arbitrary date? Why not leverage awareness and public interest by making it, say, Shakespeare's birthday, April 23? He won't mind, you know. Or perhaps the birthday of some other great theater artist, living or dead. Samuel Beckett's is April 13, for example, and Sarah Bernhardt's is October 22 and Wole Soyinka's is July 13 and he's still alive!!! Hey, there's an idea, honor the birthday of a great, living theater artist by making it World Theatre Day and having <em>that artist</em> as Statement Maker!</p><p>Finally, John Malkovich always has been a man of few public words and recently he has been a man of little theater. He hasn't done a play at Steppenwolf in seven years and that was only his second since 1999. Indeed, I'm not aware that he's acted or directed in live theater in quite some time. He is a great actor, a fine artist, a singular and riveting presence on stage . . . but there are many other artists of his stature who ARE still engaged as theater artists. An obvious American candidate who jumps to mind is Kevin Spacey, who remains engaged in live theater as well as film.</p><p>So, World Theatre Day, next Tuesday, y'all pay some attention! Theater is a Good Thing. World Theatre Day is a Good Thing.</p><p>But there's definitely room to improve.</p><p>PS. I'll be celebrating World Theatre Day in truly global fashion: I'll be in Warsaw, Poland as one of three U.S. delegates to the World Congress of the International Association of Theatre Critics which, like the ITI, is a UNESCO-established global NGO. Watch for my blog post from Poland!</p></p> Mon, 19 Mar 2012 23:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-19/world-theatre-day-needs-more-actor-john-malkovich-97447 Stereotypes on parade http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-10/stereotypes-parade-96244 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-10/_msb2696.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>The good news is that Chicago theaters are trying to grapple with the issue of race this season (so much, by the way, for the notion that America would somehow become “post-racial” after the election of President Obama). The bad news is that failed efforts on the topic tend to reinforce stereotypes, leaving audience members more firmly entrenched than ever in the positions they held when they walked in the theater.</p><p>And there’s every possibility that what I have to say about three recent onstage attempts to deal with race and racism reflects nothing more than my being more firmly entrenched than ever in my original position. Nonetheless:<br> <br> David Mamet's <em>Race </em>at the Goodman is a clever meditation on euphemisms, and would make a very good essay on that subject. It's not, however, much of a play: Act I addresses the question of whether a wealthy white man raped a black woman, whereas Act II focuses on whether a junior&nbsp;black woman lawyer betrayed her white male supervisors. I can see there's supposed to be a parallel of betrayal here, but it doesn't work. Instead we have a play without a plot, or characters, really (they're embodied positions and prejudices instead). Chuck Smith's direction is true to the scripts: He makes each of the performances as hard-edged and un-nuanced as it can possibly be, so that Mamet's point is clear as day. And he gives due emphasis to the best line in the play. Apparently cleared of betrayal, the young woman chides her superiors: "The silver spoon disappeared and you fired the maid." The rest of the dialog just replaces Mamet's well-known penchant for profanity with racial and sexual epithets, and this does not constitute progress. It just seems like the kid in school who got laughs by saying "doody-head." Not Mamet's finest hour.<br> <br> <iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/v9n7cuJl3Ds" width="560" frameborder="0" height="315"></iframe></p><p><em>Disgraced</em> by Ayad Akhtar at American Theater Company does even less to turn ideas into characters, and while its plot structure is clearer than Mamet’s double-helix construction the clarity serves only to reveal how formulaic it is. I wasn’t offended by the portrayal of the characters because I didn’t believe in any of them, and I certainly didn’t believe in their interactions. A very lapsed Muslim lawyers is married to a white artist preoccupied with Islamic art. His law partner (a black woman) is married to her agent (a Jewish man). Ostensibly, these couples are close friends, but they sit down to dinner and discuss race, ethnicity, religion and prejudice as if they’d never considered or discussed these issues before, and the results of this single conversation are so devastating that our protagonist reverts to his religious Muslim roots and beats his wife unconscious. Once again, the director–-in this case Kimberly Senior–-does what she can with the material, and the actors are obviously making earnest efforts to turn these puppets into people, but what we’re left with is either a set of hideous stereotypes–-the greedy Jew, the animalistic brown man, and so on–-or a sense that the entire issue is insoluble and therefore not worth talking about. I doubt this was the playwright’s intention.<br> <br> It may be that the difficulty with both plays is that they’re too short: <em>Disgraced</em> runs 90 minutes and <em>Race</em> just a bit more than 100. Each seems to suffer from the absence of scenes which might have enlarged the characters or better explained the internal dynamics of the groups being examined. Jonathan and I will discuss the costs and benefits of this recent trend towards bare-bones plays on <em>848</em> next Friday, February 17. &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-10/_msb2696.jpeg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="Sally Murphy in 'Time Stands Still' at Steppenwolf"><br> <br> On the other hand, <em>Time Stands Still </em>at Steppenwolf manages to offer caricatures in lieu of characters despite having two full acts and an all-white cast. Playwright Donald Margulies seems to want to tell us the story of white war correspondents who (depending on your perspective) draw necessary attention to or leach off of the suffering of black and brown people around the world; but no sooner has he raised this issue than he shifts his focus to male-female relationships, or rather to the ways in which a Good Woman puts husband and children ahead of everything and a Bad Woman thinks about other things. Bright career woman Sarah turns out to be incapable of love, while dim-bulb stay-at-home mom Mandy turns out to represent all that is good and true in the world. This is a fantasy characteristic of middle-aged Jewish men but I’m sorry to encounter it in Margulies, who is a throughtful and skilled playwright when he’s not busy grinding an axe against feminism. Austin Pendleton might have gotten more humor out of the script but the cast, led by Sally Murphy, does fine work. The problem is the play itself, which seems like a box of Crackerjack without a prize: enjoyable while it’s going on but ultimately empty and completely disposable. Suffice it to say I saw the original production in New York with Laura Linney and didn’t remember that fact until a few key gestures triggered my&nbsp; memory. This makes sense: Why remember the umpteenth iteration of a stereotype?</p></p> Fri, 10 Feb 2012 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-10/stereotypes-parade-96244 If you build it, what really happens? http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-02/if-you-build-it-what-really-happens-96026 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-02/day52.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-02/day52.jpeg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 176px;" title="Construction wrapped up on the Black Ensemble Cultural Center this past fall. (Courtesy of Black Ensemble Theater)"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight">As Jonathan and I will discuss more fully on Friday</a>, 'tis the season for theater companies to move and build. On the one hand, this is the good news: <a href="http://blackensemble.org/">Black Ensemble</a> needs and deserves to emerge from the basement into the sunlight, and to have room enough to do the new-show development for which it's known. Audiences will be able to find <a href="http://rivendelltheatre.org/">Rivendell</a> and <a href="http://griffintheatre.com/">Griffin</a> at permanent locations instead of trying to remember where they're in residence this season.&nbsp;<a href="http://writerstheatre.org">Writers Theatre</a> is beyond ready for a home large enough to encompass its audience, let alone its ambition; and certainly if <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/">Chicago Shakespeare</a> wants a new stage there's no question it will be able to put it to good use.</p><p>But.</p><p>This building boom raises two concerns: First, in the years immediately following a company's move to a new space, there's often a dramatic decline in quality. It's not entirely clear why this should be the case, and there are certainly exceptions (<a href="http://www.steeptheatre.com/">Steep</a> and <a href="http://theartistichome.org/">Artistic Home</a> come to mind).</p><p>"New Building Disease," though, is a well-known syndrome: just ask anyone who subscribed to <a href="http://steppenwolf.org">Steppenwolf</a> during those first seasons at Halsted and North. The company was so distracted by the process of moving, and so intoxicated by the toys available in its new home, that there seemed to be no energy left to invest in the shows themselves. I recall its world-premiere production of <em>The Man From Nebraska,</em> chiefly for the use of the lift at center stage, which was so frequent and so distracting that the point of the play-- stasis at mid-life-- disappeared completely.</p><p>Similarly the <a href="http://goodmantheatre.org">Goodman </a>spent its first few years on Dearborn Street reveling in its new-found access to fly-space, with sets that flew and hung and did everything but roller-skate absorbing audience attention that should have been directed to the plays themselves. The expression "hoist on its own petard" came insistently to mind.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-02/2233697052_6290df6dbf.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 400px;" title="Steppenwolf had growing pains at one point too. (Flickr/Jeff Zoline)">Eventually, of course, both theaters regained their footing. And no one would argue that either company was better off before having access to the full range of theatrical resources. But when smaller and less-established companies turn the bulk of their attention to their physical spaces, they risk losing the artistic focus that brought them to their current level of success. And, unlike the biggest troupes, they lack the staying power to sustain a couple-three bad years. Good spaces are valuable, but they also require some adjustment, and everyone who's preparing to build or move should be aware of that cost and try to figure out how to keep it to a minimum.</p><p>And speaking of cost, the other significant concern about all this bricks-and-mortar activity is the sheer financial burden of owning one's own space. It's worth remembering that the original Organic Theatre, of E/R and Bleacher Bums fame, was sunk by the capital and maintenance costs of the space it purchased on Clark Street. Sure, it was wonderful to have a permanent home, but when it turned out to be too expensive to heat the mainstage, the company had to confine itself to doing work in the studio. Sure, it was great to have multiple spaces, but each of them required upkeep which in turn required rentals which in turn diminished the identification of the company with its building--when identity is often one of the main reasons to construct a building. Nor is this the only example: The first inhabitants of the Theatre Building (now <a href="http://stage773.org/">Stage 773</a>) head the roster of theater-renaissance troupes no longer with us. Even the venerable Body Politic--and even while sharing space and expenses with <a href="http://victorygardens.org/">Victory Gardens</a>--paid the ultimate price for having a permanent address. &nbsp;</p><p>Any real-estate agent will tell you that first-time buyers always get too much space and saddle themselves with too much debt. First-time theater are no exception. Naturally, each of today's companies has prepared itself for a significant fundraising campaign, but when the campaign is over the day-to-day expenses remain, and it would be a shame to trade an inadequate space for a day in bankrupty court.</p><p>As some right-wing economist is reputed to have said, <a href="http://www.mgtaylor.com/public/2001/tanstaafl.html">there ain't no such thing as a free lunch</a>. Each of the companies now engaged in moving and building should remember that in addition to the immediate financial costs of a new space there are artistic costs and long-term costs, and should proceed with appropriate care. Thus spake <a href="http://www.arthistory.sbc.edu/imageswomen/papers/fittoncassandra/intro.html">Cassandra</a>.</p></p> Thu, 02 Feb 2012 15:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-02/if-you-build-it-what-really-happens-96026 The You-Missed List: Top Shows of 2011 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-19/you-missed-list-top-shows-2011-94979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-19/follies.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-19/follies.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 354px; height: 240px;" title="'Follies' at Chicago Shakes (Photo by Liz Lauren)"><strong>Best show of the year in any category:</strong> Gary Griffin’s <em>Follies</em> at <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/">Chicago Shakespeare</a>. This flawless version of an underappreciated early Sondheim should be remounted somewhere and run forever; there’s not a false note or step anywhere in it. In short: absolutely brilliant.</p><p><strong>Best one-man show of this or any other year:</strong> <a href="http://www.courttheatre.org/season/show/an_iliad/"><em>An Iliad</em> at Court Theatre</a>, by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, as performed by the extraordinary Timothy Edward Kane. Again, won’t director Charles Newell seek out another site for an open-ended run? The city is full of people who wanted to see it and couldn’t. &nbsp;<br> <br> And now on to our regularly-scheduled list, already in progress.<br> <br> <strong>Best musical we’ve seen in years:</strong> Life is unfair. Only a perfect <em>Follies</em> could eclipse two other superb productions in this category, <em>Sweeney Todd</em> at <a href="http://www.drurylaneoakbrook.com/">Drury Lane</a> and <a href="http://themusictheatrecompany.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=25&amp;Itemid=12"><em>Merrily We Roll Along</em> at The Music Theatre Company</a> (starring <a href="http://www.broadway.com/shows/clear-day-you-can-see-forever/buzz/159007/on-a-clear-days-breakout-star-jessie-mueller-on-flirting-with-harry-connick-jr-and-belting-on-broadway/">Jessie Mueller, now knocking them dead in <em>On A Clear Day</em> on Broadway</a>). Sondheim was everywhere this year, but in the race for attention these three are a deserved win, place and show.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br> <br> <strong>Best plays about monarchs (including any Shakespeare play you care to name):</strong> So who’da thunk Chicago Shakespeare would win this category, too, and with two non-Bard productions? No one who saw Harry Groener in <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/main.taf?p=2,19,3,36,1,15"><em>The Madness of George III </em></a>will ever forget his hilarious, pathetic, tragic and deeply human character, and the same can be said for Diane D’Aquila’s powerful, hearthbroken&nbsp; and heartbreaking <em><a href="https://www.chicagoshakes.com/main.taf?p=2,62,5,1,11">Elizabeth Rex</a>.</em>&nbsp;And with its offstage gods and kings manipulating its onstage warriors and fools, let’s count <em>An Iliad</em> once again–just because it was so amazing. &nbsp;<br> <br> <strong>Best plays about racism:</strong> <a href="http://www.theartistichome.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=130&amp;Itemid=250">Artistic Home’s revival of Alice Childress's Obie-winning <em>Trouble in Mind</em></a> anatomized discrimination within the theater itself, while–-speaking of painfully close to home-–<a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=527">Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer-winning Clybourne Park</a> called out gentrification in Steppenwolf’s own neighborhood. It take some nerve to raise the ghost of <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/lorraine-hansberry-9327823">Lorraine Hansberry,</a> and a top-notch intellect to confront it on equal terms. Fortunately, Norris shows himself as able a combatant as we’ve seen since <a href="http://gwt.scripturetext.com/genesis/32.htm">Jacob wrestled with the angel til dawn</a>. &nbsp;<br> <br> <strong>Best avant-garde plays, even for those of us skeptical about the very concept:</strong> Trap Door took a play that is literally revolting, featuring a character with an intimate relationship with excrement –&nbsp;<a href="http://trapdoortheatre.com/performance-history/first-ladies/">Werner Schwab's <em>First Ladies</em></a>&nbsp;--&nbsp;and made it into a savage and inescapable commentary on the dregs which constitute contemporary life. Nicole Wiesner’s performance as the obsessed plumber was first among equals, and deserved a much wider audience than it got. Kudos to her and to the entire company for deciding that doing the work they believe in is more important than the commercial success they could all surely have.</p><p>Meanwhile, <a href="http://theateroobleck.com/plays/there-is-a-happiness-that-morning-is">Mickle Maher's <em>There is a Happiness That Morning Is</em></a>, which Theatre Oobleck did at the DCA Theatre, broke the fourth wall while making <a href="http://www.online-literature.com/blake/songs-of-innocence-and-experie">William Blake's <em>Songs of Innocence and Experience</em></a> into a surrogate for all conflicts between Apollo and Dionysius, between head and heart, between conformity and individuality. Performed as a pair of dueling lectures, with a few comments from the peanut gallery, the piece is Impossible to describe but was thrilling to observe.&nbsp;<br> <br> <strong>Best adaptations from other media:</strong> honors are shared here by Marilyn Campbell's <a href="http://www.16thstreettheater.org/seasonfour/thebeats.html"><em>The Beats</em> at 16th Street Theatre</a>, which makes the 1950s poets seem our contemporaries; <a href="http://buildingstage.com/bxo_show_mobydick.php"><em>Moby Dick</em> at the Building Stage</a>, in which everyone onstage takes a turn as Ahab, reminding the audience that anyone is capable of cruelty, obsession and insanity; <a href="http://thehousetheatre.com/seasons/x/shows/cyrano">The House Theatre’s version of <em>Cyrano</em></a>, which rescued the tale of love and chivalry from the musty cloth in which it’s been swaddled (not to say suffocated); and <a href="http://www.courttheatre.org/season/show/spunk/"><em>Spunk</em> at Court Theatre, a delightful musical adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston short stories</a>. And speaking of Court, did I mention its one-man adaptation of Homer?<br> <br> <strong>Best plays with an Irish lilt (always a crowded category in Chicago):</strong> a tie between <a href="http://www.seanachai.org/productions/shadow.html"><em>Shadow of a Gunman</em> at Seanachai</a> (directed by John Mossman) and <a href="http://www.theartistichome.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=136&amp;Itemid=261"><em>A Touch of the Poet</em> at the Artistic Home's new space at Stage 773</a> (directed by Mossman's wife, AH's Artistic Director Kathy Scambiatterra). Whether it’s O’Neill or O’Casey, you can count on a true feel of the Ould Sod from these two.<br> <br> <strong>Best plays about escaping from reality:</strong> There were a lot of these this year–--and, looking at the world as it is, can you blame us?&nbsp; <a href="http://www.redtwist.org/2010-2011Season.html#Neb">Red Twist’s <em>Man from Nebraska</em></a> heads the list, with a production of the Tracy Letts play that outdid its world premiere at Steppenwolf.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.strawdog.org/index.php?section=history&amp;production=conquest">Strawdog’s <em>Conquest of the South Pole</em> </a>(the <a href="http://www.timelinetheatre.com/pitmen_painters/">other play about unemployed miners</a>) showed us a group of East Germans whose fantasies of liberation involve death on the ice.&nbsp;<a href="http://eclipsetheatre.com/season/2011/">At Eclipse</a>, playwright Naomi Wallace limned the constraints of poverty, isolation, and gender in <em>The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek</em>, while the <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/news.detail/object_id/a3d49bc1-3d30-4d73-b050-c4ecafb365fb.cfm">same company’s revival of Arthur Miller’s <em>After the Fall</em></a> demonstrated that even people married to Marilyn Monroe occasionally need a break.</p><p>I realize I've spoken about companies more often than directors, so permit me a shout-out to Kimberly Senior, Jonathan Berry, Andrew Jessop, Seret Scott, Matt Hawkins, Blake Montgomery, Ann Filmer, Zeljko Djukic, Amy Morton, Vaun Monroe, Barbara Gaines, Penny Metropulos, Jessica Redish and Rachel Rockwell. And may I happily note an equal number of men and women in this group of those responsible for the great work here described?</p><p>Happy New Year.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 19 Dec 2011 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-19/you-missed-list-top-shows-2011-94979 Daily Rehearsal: John Mahoney out of Steppenwolf's 'Penelope' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-23/daily-rehearsal-john-mahoney-out-steppenwolfs-penelope-94322 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-23/poster_pen.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/poster_pen.jpeg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 215px; height: 280px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Sad news: John Mahoney will no longer be part of <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=528"><em>Penelope</em></a>,</strong></span></span> which was slated to open in previews next week. Steppenwolf announced yesterday that there's been a death in Mahoney's family, and he'll be returning home. "Our hearts and prayers go out to John during this difficult time… and we hope to announce a replacement shortly," Artistic Director Martha Lavey said in a statement. Today the company announced he'll be replaced by Tracy Letts, who has been a part of the ensemble since 2002, and has won a Tony for his play <em>August: Osage County</em>.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. TimeLine has announced the addition of nine Associate Artists</strong></span></span> who will work with their Company Members; they are Will Allan, William Brown, Aaron Carter, Andrew Carter, John Culbert, Mildred Marie Langford, Mechelle Moe, Ann Wakefield&nbsp;and&nbsp;Alex Weisman. What will their actual tasks include? "They serve as non-voting advisers in artistic planning," the company said in a statement, "and are encouraged to propose and promote artistic programming ideas and to enhance the work culture and environment of TimeLine."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <a href="http://www.milliondollarquartetlive.com/chicago-news.html"><em>Million Dollar Quartet</em></a> is adding a new song</strong></span></span> to their set for the holiday season -- Chuck Berry's "Run, Run, Rudolph." Is it enough of a reason to see the show again (or for the first time)? Please watch the amazing video below and judge for yourself. The show will also be adding New Year's Eve performances, where they'll toast by singing "Auld Lang Syne." If I were you, I'd hope for champagne. The show is in Chicago through mid-January.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/KCTeXUkTFwQ" width="480" frameborder="0" height="360"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4.&nbsp;<em>Sound of Music</em> fans will love this Chicago-local connection</strong></span></span> to their favorite film;&nbsp;Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and Justin von Trapp (the great-grandchildren of Captain von Trapp) will be at the <a href="http://ParamountAurora.com">Paramount</a> on December 4 singing the songs that stole a million hearts. Didn't know the von Trapp's were real? Now you do!</p><p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. The Chicago Opera Theater will be announcing</strong></span></span> the appointment of a new General Director on December 7 at 12:30 pm, somewhere in the Loop. They'll be passed the baton of sorts by current general director Brian Dickie. In his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-21/fat-lady-sings-overview-opera-scene-chicago-89376">overview of the opera scene</a>&nbsp;published in the summer, Jonathan Abarbanel pointed out that Dickie has been in the position since 1999, during which time "COT has specialized in baroque opera as well as a broader and definitely contemporary world view."</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 15:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-23/daily-rehearsal-john-mahoney-out-steppenwolfs-penelope-94322