WBEZ | Porchlight Theatre http://www.wbez.org/tags/porchlight-theatre Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Daily Rehearsal: a look at the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-06/daily-rehearsal-look-chicago-women%E2%80%99s-funny-festival-97013 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-06/Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. DCASE's DCA Storefront Theater Fall 2012 </strong></span></span>lineup has been announced; they'll bringing stuff from&nbsp;WildClaw Theatre,&nbsp;Sideshow Theatre Company and&nbsp;BackStage Theatre Company, as well as&nbsp;The Ruckus Theatre Company,&nbsp;Route 66 Theatre Company, The Theatre Exchange&nbsp;and Praxis/High Concept Laboratories.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-06/Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 92px; " title=""><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. The full lineup for the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-02/daily-rehearsal-chicago-women-are-funny-96050">Chicago Women’s Funny Festival </a></strong></span></span>won't be announced until Monday, April 16, but those acts that have been revealed thus far are:&nbsp;<em>Messing with a Friend</em>&nbsp;(aka Susan Messing),&nbsp;Off Off Broadzway,&nbsp;Mary Kay Letourneau Players,&nbsp;Ladies of The Cupid Players, the&nbsp;Puterbaugh Sisters,&nbsp;<em>Sherra: Secret of the Ooze&nbsp;</em>(one woman show by Sherra Lasley),&nbsp;<em>The Art of Making Bad Decisions Cabaret</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;Feminine Gentlemen. Executive Producer Jill Valentine says,&nbsp;“It has always been a dream of mine to produce a festival featuring the best female comedic talent in Chicago. When I began to talk about this festival, many talented women from around the country showed interest so I widen [sic] the scope to include national and Chicago talent.” Valentine and associate producer Liz McArthur are both members of Off Broadzway and Feminine Gentleman.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3.<em> Hit the Wall </em>from The Inconvenience </strong></span></span>has been extended as part of Steppenwolf's Garage Rep; 5 performances have been added and the show will run through April 15.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. The National Association of Broadcasters</strong></span></span> is giving Second City a Spirit of Broadcasting Award."For over 50 years, The Second City has been a leader in innovative comedy and theater, and a training ground for some of America's finest comedic performers and writers," said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith in a statement. "Every day, millions of broadcast TV viewers bear witness to the influence it has had on both comedy and drama. NAB is proud to honor The Second City with this special award for all its contributions to the entertainment industry."</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Porchlight's 2012-13 season</strong></span></span> will launch in September 1 with <em>A Class Act</em>, followed by a new <em>The Gifts of the Magi</em>, <em>Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill</em> and <em>Pal Joey</em>. Perhaps a little more esoteric than this past season (which included Sondheim, Larson and Fierstein), no?&nbsp;</p><p class="xmsoheader"><o:p></o:p></p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-06/daily-rehearsal-look-chicago-women%E2%80%99s-funny-festival-97013 The Don't-Miss List: Putting on 'The Ritz', 'Winter Fire' and 'Man Boobs' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-15/dont-miss-list-putting-ritz-winter-fire-and-man-boobs-96425 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-16/manboobs.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-16/the ritz.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 254px; height: 300px; " title="'The Ritz' at Circle Theatre">Solo performers have a hard time finding outlets for their work; African-American solo performers have a doubly hard time. This is the theory behind <a href="http://MPAACT.org/">MPAACT's <strong>Solo Jam</strong> series</a>, a late-night showcase of performance pieces at the Greenhouse in Lincoln Park. Every Friday and Saturday through March 10, a different artist will present a piece of his/her own devising. A preview of the work showed a wide range of styles and themes: I was particularly taken with next weekend's pairing, Osiris Khepera's <em>The Fag-tionary</em> and Jonathan Kitt's <em>Superman, Black Man, Me! A Stage Essay</em>, but there doesn't seem to be a bad one in the bunch. The shows begin at 11 p.m. (after MPAACT's mainstage production <em>Sweet Home</em>; a ticket to that will get you a discount to the Solo Jam); tickets $12 for a single show or $20 for the weekend.</p><p>And if you think the world of solo performance is daunting for actors of color, consider the nearly monochromatic world of sketch comedy.&nbsp; Taco Flavored Eggrolls storms those alabaster barricades with the irresistably-named <strong><em>It Takes Juan To Know Wong (a colored commentary)</em></strong>, which begins an 8-week run at the <a href="http://www.propthtr.org/">PROP THTR</a>&nbsp;Friday. 10:30 every Friday through April 6 at 3502 N. Elston Avenue; tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors (though really, what senior stays up that late?)</p><p>Or, if you're in the mood for an actual comic play, check out <a href="http://www.circle-theatre.org/">Circle Theater's newly-opened production of <strong><em>The Ritz</em></strong></a>, a very early farce by Terrence McNally. (Early enough that the words "gay bathhouse" had no over- or undertones.) Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 3; tickets $24-$28 with various discounts; performances at 1010 West Madison Street in Oak Park.&nbsp;</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-16/trey mcintyre.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px; " title="(Photo courtesy of Preservation Hall Jazz Band)"></p><p>Fat Tuesday is right around the corner—and so is New Orleans on Friday night, when the <a href="http://www.cso.org/"><strong>Trey McIntyre Project</strong> dances to the swinging Preservation Hall Jazz Band</a> at Symphony Center. Don’t expect cheek-to-cheek, though. In McIntyre’s macabre <em>Ma Maison</em>, the dancers cavort in skull masks. And as Lewis Segal of the LA Times describes <em>The Sweeter End</em>, it’s a “high-speed amalgam of ballet steps, gymnastic feats, ballroom fragments and eruptions of snake-hips undulation.”</p><p>The <a href="http://www.auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/pages/home/performances-events/performances.php?event_id=353">Joffrey Ballet heats up with “<strong>Winter Fire</strong>,”</a> a program of three works by contemporary names-you-can-drop: William Forsythe, Christopher Wheeldon, and Wayne McGregor—who’s moved seamlessly from modern dance into the classical world as resident choreographer of London’s Royal Ballet. On video, McGregor’s spiky <em>Infra</em>—a U.S. premiere for the Joffrey—looks spectacular: technically challenging, tech-savvy, and moving to boot. This weekend and next, plus next Thursday, at the Auditorium.</p><p>Chicago Dance Crash reinstates its KTF (“Keeper of the Floor”) dance battles with a <a href="http://www.maynestage.com/Dance-Crash-Feb.aspx">post-Valentine’s show, “<strong>Love Is a (Dance) Battlefield</strong>,”</a> reportedly dedicated to “the hopelessly single, recent dumpees, and generally jaded demographic.” Friday at 8 PM at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-16/manboobs.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 386px; " title=""></p><p>Since the demise of the original Bailiwick Repertory Theater in 2009, director David Zak has re-emerged as head of Pride Films and Plays, a Chicago-based organization&nbsp;that reaches nation-wide to find and develop writing for screen and stage on LGBT subjects. Some of the works are serious and some are not. I’m not certain about the current project, J. Julian Christopher’s self-described “dark comedy” entitled <a href="http://www.pridefilmsandplays.com/manboobs.html"><strong><em>Man Boobs</em></strong></a>. Well, now, I’ll bet THAT got your attention! I’m fairly certain <em>Man Boobs</em> isn’t a medical drama about gynecomastia, but may be about love, body image and acceptance both by oneself and others. Previously produced in New York, Los Angeles, Montreal and Australia, <em>Man Boobs</em> launches Pride Films and Plays’ 2012 season, running through March 10 at Mary’s Attic in Andersonville.</p><p>Porchlight Music Theatre has not built its reputation by spinning gold from dross, but currently is attempting just that with the regional premiere of <a href="http://porchlightmusictheatre.org/a-catered-affair/"><strong><em>A Catered Affair</em></strong></a>, a failed 2008 Broadway musical based on the 1956 film (script by Gore Vidal) and the 1955 live TV drama (by Paddy Chayefsky) before that. Set in the 1950’s Bronx, it concerns a lower-middle-class family planning a lavish wedding for their only daughter. <em>A Catered Affair</em> is composer John Bucchino’s first Broadway show, but features a book by multiple Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein, who created a role for himself, that of the bride’s gay uncle. The Broadway reviews called it restrained and almost like a chamber musical, which may work well in Porchlight’s intimate production at Stage 773 in Wrigleyville. The artistic team of Nick Bowling (director) and Douglas Peck (musical director) is impeccable. <em>A Catered Affair</em> runs through April 1.</p></p> Thu, 16 Feb 2012 15:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-15/dont-miss-list-putting-ritz-winter-fire-and-man-boobs-96425 Daily Rehearsal: Holland Taylor on the stage, not on 'Two and a Half Men' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-10/daily-rehearsal-holland-taylor-stage-not-two-and-half-men-93938 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-10/3591393684_344fb8cc53.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-10/3591393684_344fb8cc53.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 179px; height: 250px;" title="Holland Taylor (Flickr/David Shankbone)"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. The performance that you've (I've) been eagerly waiting for</strong></span></span> has finally hit, and it's got so much more bang for its buck than I ever dreamed. Holland Tyalor plays former Texas Governor Ann Richards in <a href="http://www.chicago-theater.com/theaters/bank-of-america-theater/ann-an-affectionate-portrait-of-ann-richards.php"><em>Ann - An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards</em></a>. Taylor wrote the one-woman show, of which <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/stage/8717160-421/holland-taylor-paints-a-portrait-of-the-feisty-gov-ann-richards-in-one-woman-show.html">she says</a>, "It is an adventure that has expanded me and changed my life and my career. I’m a pretty solitary and melancholy person, but I now get to be gregarious and outgoing. Ann has taught me to have a party in my life." It opens this Sunday.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2.&nbsp;</strong></span></span><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>Casting has been announced for&nbsp;Porchlight's<em>&nbsp;<a href="http://porchlightmusictheatre.org/a-catered-affair/">A Catered Affair</a></em></strong></span></span>, which<em style="">&nbsp;</em>opens&nbsp;February 18. Expect&nbsp;Rebecca Finnegan, Craig Spidle, Kelly Davis Wilson&nbsp;and&nbsp;Jerry O’Boyle. But real talk, this play tackles the big stuff: "A couple must decide whether to spend their life savings on the family taxicab company or to celebrate their only daughter’s marriage with a lavish catered affair, providing her with the joyful wedding they never had for themselves." When I first read that I thought the family was deciding between just one cab ride and the wedding, which is sort of less than&nbsp;<em style="">Sophie's Choice</em>.<span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3.&nbsp;</strong></span></span><span style="text-align: left; font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>Reality? Youtube? Theater?&nbsp;</strong></span></span>It's all the same. "What is it like to be an overnight Internet sensation? Chicago beatboxer Yuri Lane knows all about it." The play&nbsp;<em style="text-align: left;">MeTube&nbsp;</em>stars Lane, who is a "beatbox harmonica virtuoso" IRL, and about whom director Rachel Havrelock wrote the play. It plays this Saturday at 7:30 at Victory Gardens; watch a preview of Lane's talents below.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2cKqq_lcCwo" width="560" frameborder="0" height="315"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Straight off of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-09/daily-rehearsal-emanuel-makes-dance-proclamation-93902">yesterday's exciting circus update</a></strong></span></span>, we learn that this is the perfect circus for "a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2011/11/08/a-simpler-circus">circus virgin</a>." &nbsp;The <em>Reader</em> also brings us a <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2011/11/04/hot-tix-sales-up-46-percent-is-that-good-news">glance into the sales of Hot Tix "half-off" tickets</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Watch <a href="http://www.livestream.com/newplay/folder?dirId=2322c9b2-d7c3-4493-b108-8045763e1627">@NewPlayTV's video archive</a></strong></span></span> of Steppenwolf's panel conversation from Sunday "How to Engage 21st Century Audiences in New Plays."&nbsp;Robert O’Hara and Marisa Wegrzyn discuss how playwrights have been involved in marketing their own plays, among other issues.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 10 Nov 2011 18:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-10/daily-rehearsal-holland-taylor-stage-not-two-and-half-men-93938 Daily Rehearsal: Porchlight's singing contest is back 'By Popular Demand' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-21/daily-rehearsal-porchlights-singing-contest-back-popular-demand-933 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-21/singing_Flickr_Anthony Kelly.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. ComedySportz has started a new kids series show</strong></span></span> for Christmas. It's called&nbsp;<em>The ComedySportz Crew Saves Santa </em>and it opens November 19. "The ComedySportz Crew has never been more excited! They are using the Imagination Machine to meet Santa Claus! But at the North Pole, Santa's been kidnapped by the evil Expensivo. The crew must use their ComedySportz imaginations to save Santa and stop Expensivo!" Exclamation marks are for kids! Get your sit on Santa's lap after the show - if you are a child.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2.&nbsp;Drury Lane Theatre&nbsp;is extending <em>The Sound of Music</em></strong></span></span>&nbsp;through January 8, 2012. The production opens October 27.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. MadKap Productions is premiering&nbsp;</strong></span></span><em><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>Clutter</strong></span></span>: The True Story of the Collyer Brothers Who Never Threw Anything Out</em> at the Greenhouse Theater. It starts previews in January, and the play has an interesting background; it was written by Mark Saltzman, the man partially behind <em>The Muppets</em> and <em>Sesame Street</em>.&nbsp;It's a ripped from the headlines, based-on-a-true story tale of the Collyer brothers who became horders in their 1920s Harlem mansion. Thursday evening performances will be followed by "talkback sessions" with psychologist Dr. Scott Kaplan, who will talk about hoarding and other issues. Free therapy -- that's a pretty good deal.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-21/By_Popular_Demand_2011.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left; width: 290px; height: 156px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Porchlight's&nbsp;<a href="http://porchlightmusictheatre.org/tickets/"><em>By Popular Demand</em></a> is back</strong></span></span>, in all its reality show-style competition glory. Performers include Jeremy Rill (<em>Assassins</em>), Christin Boulette (<em>The King and I</em>),&nbsp;Sarah Hayes (<em>Ragtime</em>),&nbsp;Jennifer Tjepkema (<em>Candide</em>), Lina Kernan (<em>Company</em>),&nbsp;Kate Garassino (Jeff-Nominated for&nbsp;<em>The King and I</em>), Elizabeth Lanza (<em>Meet John Doe</em>) and Gerald Richardson (<em>Ragtime</em>). They'll be split into teams that literally sing-off, and then the audience votes with money that goes to Porchlight (it's a fundraiser, alright?) for the final victor. It's at Stage 773 on November 15, and tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Last year's performance included&nbsp;Bethany Thomas, Jess Godwin, Rebecca Finnegan, Sean Effinger-Dean, Jayson Brooks, Lina Kernan, Joseph Tokartz, Nick Foster, Jeremy Rill and Ryan Lanning -- but who won? I wasn't there...</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. <em>The Amish Project</em> has been <a href="http://www.theatreinchicago.com/newswire.php?newsID=608">extended </a></strong></span></span>through October 30, 2011. Remember, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-30/daily-rehearsal-goodman-chicagos-version-national-theatre-92668">it's been doing pretty well</a>.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Fri, 21 Oct 2011 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-21/daily-rehearsal-porchlights-singing-contest-back-popular-demand-933 Ripping it (your heart) apart: A Sondheim revue http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-08/ripping-it-your-heart-apart-sondheim-revue-91625 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-07/PIT 6.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>If the test of success for a Stephen Sondheim show is whether you leave the theater in a state of utter despair about human relationships, then Porchlight Music Theatre's season-opening <em>Putting It Together</em> is the Platonic ideal of Sondheim shows. This revue of the composer-lyricist's work has no plot but its five performers nonetheless manage to enact all stages of human connection and, especially, disconnection. Alex Weisman narrates in one-word sentences ("Seduction." "Desperation.") while his four co-performers, a younger couple and an older one, illustrate with songs from throughout his career.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-07/porchlight putting it together.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 400px;" title=" Aja Goes, Alex Weisman, Michael Reckling, McKinley Carter &amp; Adam Pelty (Photo by Jeremy Rill)"></p><p><em>Putting It Together</em> is appropriate for Porchlight's first show under the artistic direction of Michael Weber. Director Brenda Didier and Music Director Austin Cook (also a charming performer at the piano) have organized the piece to showcase both the powerful voices and the powerfully understated musical acting style which are Porchlight's hallmarks. Weber himself has directed <em>A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum</em> and <em>Assassins</em>, more or less the alpha and omega of Sondheim works, so he knew whereof he was choosing.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-07/PIT 1.jpeg" style="margin: 10px; float: right; width: 320px; height: 400px;" title="McKinley Carter (Photo by Jeremy Rill)">It would be faster, wouldn't it, if I said, "Like the production, hate the show"? But it wouldn't be quite accurate. It's just that Sondheim, stripped to music and lyrics without any moderating book, really shows himself to be equal parts misanthrope and misogynist. The only two choices for women are young bimbo and old bitter. McKinley Carter handles the latter role brilliantly, as she rocks the house with her version of "The Ladies Who Lunch," but I resent the stereotyping, which is enhanced by skin-tight costumes on both women.&nbsp;</p><p>The men are almost equally predictable, as Weisman announces at the opening: "The theme is, men can't commit." But at least they occasionally get to take a break from coupling to think about achievement or the larger meaning of life or something. Adam Pelty brings just the right combination of ferocity and ruefulness to the role of seductive and then disappointed older man. I was less enthused about Michael Reckling's callow youth: though his tenor is irreproachable, he seems always to be trying to be in some bigger show. Maybe that's a comment on the foolish ambitions of youth, but in the intimate Theater Wit space it comes across as overdone. And Weisman just doesn't get enough to do.</p><p>So take distillate of Sondheim and give it a strong if not perfect production. Who'da thunk that a fan's reaction would be, "Is that all there is to Sondheim?"&nbsp;</p><p>Yours very sincerely, Miss Peggy Lee.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 08 Sep 2011 12:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-08/ripping-it-your-heart-apart-sondheim-revue-91625 Daily Rehearsal: Timeline to produce Jon Conroy's 'My Kind of Town' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-19/daily-rehearsal-timeline-produce-jon-conroys-my-kind-town-89335 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-19/AP080329027454.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Sorry we missed each other yesterday. I swear, I didn't look that good.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1.&nbsp;On Sunday, Porchlight Theatre had a brunch</strong></span></span>, but it was really more of fancy brunch, or a gala, one that they said was "celebrating the past, looking to the future." <a href="http://www.porchlighttheatre.com/events.htm"><em>Journey On</em></a> included entertainment by Porchlight performers, including Bethany Thomas, who is currently heating up <em>Porgy and Bess</em>, and hornored Walter Stearns, who is leaving the company.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">2. Timeline Theater 2011-12 has announced their <a href="http://www.timelinetheatre.com/news/1112_season_announcement.htm">2011-12 season</a></span></strong></span>, which will be their 15th season. The lineup includes several world and Chicago premieres, including <em>ENRON </em>by Lucy Prebble, a British playwright whose projects are often ripped from the headlines; she was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/theater/21prebble.html">also a writer</a> on the show <em>Secret Diary of a Call Girl</em>. Media-inspired plays abound, with John Conroy's <em>My Kind of Town</em>, which was workshopped in November 2010. <a href="http://www.john-conroy.com/">Conroy </a>has written extensively about the police torture scandal that occurred in Chicago two decades.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" height="225" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-19/AP080329027454.jpg" title="" width="512"><br> <span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">3.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2011/07/18/betty-ford#more">Betty Ford and theater?</a></span></strong></span> Michael Miner at the Reader has a cute story about the former First Lady. Miner's brother Peter was in a play at the Kennedy Center, and Ford gave her family seats (President's box) to Peter after receiving a letter. Peter says:&nbsp;"I'm talking to the White House, and Betty Ford's assistant is telling me, 'Mrs. Ford would be pleased to know that your parents will be using her box.' Of course, I had to request a ticket for you (No problem), and then I had to call back to request another ticket for the friend of a cast member (Again, no problem.) Easily one of the most satisfying moments of my life, and all because of a whim and a very decent woman."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">4. Sondheim's <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/main.taf?p=2,63"><em>Follies</em></a>, going up at Chicago Shakespeare Theater</span></strong></span> in October, has been cast. Leads include Brent Barrett and&nbsp;Susan Moniz as Benjamin and Phyllis Rogers Stone, and<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Robert Petkoff and&nbsp;Caroline O'Connor<strong>&nbsp;</strong>as&nbsp;Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer. Carlotta will be played by&nbsp;Hollis Resnik.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">5. Kristen Schmidt is being replaced by Carron Little</span></strong></span> as Artistic Director of <a href="http://www.walkabouttheater.org/">Walkabout Theater</a>. In a statement, Schmidt said,&nbsp;“Carron Little has an amazing inventiveness and passion for exploring ways to create and present new stories for live audiences. I look forward to being part of the new theatrical surprises that Ms. Little and Walkabout Theater bring to Chicago audiences. In celebration of Ms. Little’s new leadership, Walkabout is presenting two new creations this summer/fall." These creations include a "site - specific performance in a house in Pilsen and a whole series of twelve unexpected encounters throughout the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods."&nbsp;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-19/daily-rehearsal-timeline-produce-jon-conroys-my-kind-town-89335 Daily Rehearsal: Josh Groban comes to Chicago and helps people http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-12/daily-rehearsal-josh-groban-comes-chicago-and-helps-people-89013 <p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-12/joshgroban_ap_sayles.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 199px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title="Josh Groban at an American Idol Gives Back event in 2007. Look at how the children love him! (AP/Sayles)"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aptpchicago.org/">Albany Park Theater Project</a> is teaming up with Josh Groban</strong></span></span>, he of the wavy hair and swooning fans. Groban's foundation Find Your Light "which is dedicated to enriching the lives of young people through arts, education, and cultural awareness" has chosen to donate money to APTP, the third arts education nonprofit to have had such an honor. Conveniently, Groban is also in Chicago as part of his "Straight to You" tour, during which he's partnered with Americans for the Arts as part of some sort of text-to-give situation. Stars! They really do care!&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">2.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.porchlighttheatre.com/">Porchlight</a> has named L. Walter Stearns</span></strong></span> as the first recipient of their&nbsp;<em>The Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago</em>. Walter Stearns <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-22/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-422-85549">left his role</a> as artistic director at Porchlight in 2010 for the executive director position at Mercury Theatre, as announced in 2010.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">3. The <a href="http://chicagodancingfestival.com/">Chicago Dancing Festival</a>&nbsp;-- which is FREE</span></strong></span> -- is August 23 to 27. But, like Grant Achatz's Next (note: not at all like Next) tickets will go super fast when they're distributed next week. <font class="Apple-style-span" color="#3d3c3c">Head to the MCA on Tuesday, the Harris Theater on Wednesday, and the Auditorium Theatre on Thursday for each tickets to each locations specific performances. In early June, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-01/chicago-dancing-festival-summertime-and-dancings-freebie-87286">Laura Molzahn gave us her favorites pieces</a> to look for, which include </font>the day of dance filmes at the Claudia Cassidy Theater of the Chicago Cultural Center, a live program at the Harris Theater&nbsp;<font class="Apple-style-span" color="#3d3c3c"> and a lecture/demonstration with such impressarios like&nbsp;Janet Eilber of Martha Graham and Bonnie De Jong of Paul Taylor at the MCA.</font></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8OZuGS-93Dg" width="300" align="left" frameborder="0" height="246" scrolling="no"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">4. <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/main.taf?p=2,61"><em>The Adventures of Pinocchio</em></a> opens tomorrow at Chicago Shakes.</span></strong></span> They'd calling it family-friendly; I'd argue that it was a very scary Disney movie, by the way, and I hope they took a tip from that film and avoided including the scary puppet con man.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">5. Writers' Theatre has </span></strong></span><a href="http://www.writerstheatre.org/news/news/news/news/news/news?id=0031"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">hired a cool new architect</span></strong></span> to design their new space</a>, but what <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2011/07/11/jeanne-gang-to-design-new-writers-theatre">everyone's really up in arms</a> about is the fact that <em>they don't actually own it</em>. The Women's Library Club of Glencoe owns the land, and they the Theatre has signed a 99-year lease agreement. That's a long time, I think. Interesting, the theater will own the building, just not the land.&nbsp;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 12 Jul 2011 14:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-12/daily-rehearsal-josh-groban-comes-chicago-and-helps-people-89013 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater 4/22 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-22/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-422-85549 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-22/Alexis Armstrong, David Geinosky, PJ Samorian.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: left;">Looking ahead: On Monday, the 14th Chicago Improv Festival begins. Nina Metz at the <em>Tribune </em>has the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/ct-ott-0422-chicago-improv-fest-20110421-6,0,7110984.story">highlights</a>&nbsp;(which include some bodypainting experiments)&nbsp;but the <a href="http://www.chicagoimprovfestival.org/web/cif_home.php">full schedule</a> is also worth perusing so you don't miss a thing. Additionally,&nbsp;Bassprov members Joe Bill and Mark Sutton, former artistic director of the festival, <a href="http://vocalo.org/amp/2011-04/friday-funday-0">spoke to</a> Vocalo's Molly Adams in the Morning AMp today (and can be seen performing below).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="368" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/10026629?title=0&amp;byline=0" width="490"></iframe></p><p>2. The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg <a href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/pages/home/performances-events/performances.php?event_id=296&amp;wb_session_id=4a94a35ddbb2ad45c8371bf6f015a9cf">presents </a><em>Don Quixote, or Fantasies of a Madman. </em>The production was<i>&nbsp;</i>at Roosevelt University last night, but there will be a matinee performance on Saturday. Choreographed by the aforementioned Boris Eifman, with music by Ludwig Minkus, the ballet sounds a little bit like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112883/"><em>Don Juan Demarco</em></a> with Johnny Depp<em>:&nbsp;</em>a man locked in an asylum believes he is Don Quixote, and inspires those around him with his fantasies.</p><p>3. <a href="http://urbantheaterchicago.org/"><em>Sonnets For An Old Century</em></a> is wrapping up its run this weekend at Steppenwolf's Garage Rep. <a href="http://www.avclub.com/chicago/articles/sonnets-for-an-old-century,52247/">The A.V. Club called</a>&nbsp;<em>Sonnets</em><i>"</i>a captivating examination of life and death from a promising young company." From UrbanTheater Company, the play takes place in the waiting room of the afterlife, which I can't imagine is particularly lighthearted, but is probably enlightening.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="333" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-22/Alexis%20Armstrong%2C%20David%20Geinosky%2C%20PJ%20Samorian_0.jpg" title="Alexis Armstrong, David Geinosky, PJ Samorian " width="350"></p><p>4. Opening this weekend is <a href="http://www.bignoise.org/chaperone.html"><em>The Drowsy Chaperone </em></a>by The Big Noise Theatre Company, which if past productions count for anything, promises to be particularly feel-good. The show had a successful revival on Broadway in 2006; as musicals go, it's funny and relatively harmless.</p><p>5. It was announced just&nbsp;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/stage/4957772-421/chicago-actor-director-will-head-porchlight.html">yesterday</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;Michael Weber is the new artistic director of Porchlight Music Theatre. As you'll recall, <em>The King and I</em> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-21/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-421-85493">just opened there</a>.&nbsp;Weber will begin his work June 1, and takes the place of L. Walter Stearns, who has moved to the Mercury Theatre.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 14:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-22/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-422-85549 Working for the Weekend: Critics picks for 4/14-4/17 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-14/working-weekend-critics-picks-414-417-85189 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-14/SENSE-NEW_image300x450.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p>If you're up for a musical this weekend with some contemporary relevance, hold off on "<a href="http://www.theroyalgeorgetheatre.com/shows.php?s=42">White Noise</a>" 'til you've seen our Dueling Critics debate on the subject, and instead catch the final weekend of "<a href="http://www.porchlighttheatre.com/meet-john-doe.htm"><strong>Meet John Doe</strong></a>", the Porchlight Theatre production at Stage 773 (formerly the Theater Building). Before it closes on Sunday, immerse yourself in this fine musical adaptation of the Frank Capra movie about what unemployment does to each and all of us. The 1930s look is the only thing separating this beautifully orchestrated and sung show from utter torn-from-the-headlines immediacy. 8:00 Friday and Saturday; final performance at 2:30 Sunday.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-14/SENSE-NEW_image300x450.jpg" title="" width="300" height="450"></p><p>Or, if your taste is more literary than musical, here's another one to catch before it closes: Northlight's lovely "<a href="http://www.northlight.org/pages/sense___sensibility/144.php">Sense and Sensibility</a>". The worst that can be said about this show is that it's not absolutely perfect, like the Emma Thompson movie; but it's damned close. For a Jane Austen piece there's plenty of action, including a romantic rescue on the moors and a daring ride to fetch mother to a deathbed; but for the most part the show respects the quiet milieu in which it operates, the better to set off the talents of Heidi Kettenring and Helen Sadler as the sisters who embody the titular traits. 7:30 tonight, 8:00 on Friday, 2:30 and 8:00 on Saturday; final performance 2:30 on Sunday. At the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5fmVi1Yn7Qk" title="YouTube video player" width="560" frameborder="0" height="349"></iframe></p><p>Catch <a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/performances/perf_detail.php?id=623">the ingenious queen of postmodern dance</a> this weekend at the MCA. You can even see her—well, her company—for almost free in the galleries on April 16. Just pay the suggested cost of museum admission. Though <strong>Trisha Brown</strong> is the only Judson Church choreographer to have established and maintained a high profile over the last 40 years, I wouldn’t say she’s flourished because her work is accessible—it’s often as abstract and heady as the MCA’s art. But it has evolved in an accessible direction. One of Brown’s newest dances, “Les yeux et l’ame,” is in the theater as well as a couple of older works and 1990’s “Foray Foret,” performed against Robert Rauschenberg’s backdrop to the sounds of a live but distant marching band. Classy.</p><p>Silent film and hip-hop come together in Chicago Dance Crash’s new <a href="http://chicagodancecrash.com/productions/trials-busta-keaton">“<strong>The Trials of Busta Keaton</strong>.”</a> Choreographer Christopher Courtney (“Qwan Sauce!”) pays homage to wordless comedy, especially slapstick, in an evening-length work designed to catch the sepia tones of Keaton and Chaplin vehicles. Expect explosive dancing, including an admixture of ballet and contemporary styles, and loud music.&nbsp;</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-15/Elizabeth Stenholt as Morse in ONE FLEA SPARE by Naomi Wallace. Photo by Scott Cooper.jpg" title="(Scott Cooper)" width="503" height="640"></p><p>I'm always a sucker for something with a history angle so I'm attracted to Naomi Wallace's "<a href="http://www.eclipsetheatre.com/season/2011/one-flea-spare.php"><strong>One Flea Spare</strong></a>", about the Black Plague in 17th Century London. It's a comedy, albeit a dark one. "One Flea Spare" opens the 2011 season for Eclipse Theatre Company, which devotes each year to the work of one author. Former Eclipse artistic director Anish Jethmalani is the capable director. Eclipse performs at the Greenhouse complex on Lincoln Avenue where "One Flea Spare" runs through May 22.<br> <br> Realism is the meat-and-potatoes of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and that's what you'll find the Steppenwolf Ensemble doing in its own work. But Steppenwolf offers a wild exercise in meta-theatricality in the Garage Rep, presenting three junior Off-Loop troupes in diverse non-realistic works: "Heddatron"&nbsp;(Sideshow Theatre Company), "Sonnets for an Old Century" (Urban Theatre Company) and "The Three Faces of Doctor Crippen" (Strange Tree Group), the last being my personal favorite. <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=519">The Garage Rep</a> continues at Steppenwolf's Merle Reskin Garage Theatre through April 24. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Note: Jonathan Abarbanel's picks were updated after publication time.</em></p></p> Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-14/working-weekend-critics-picks-414-417-85189