WBEZ | First Folio http://www.wbez.org/tags/first-folio Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Don’t-Miss List August 9-August 15: Shylock and Cupid face off http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/%EF%BB%BFdon%E2%80%99t-miss-list-august-9-august-15-shylock-and-cupid-face-101547 <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/merchant%20of%20venice%202%20firts%20folio.jpg" title="The cast of ‘Merchant of Venice’ doubles as the cast for ‘Shylock and his Daughter.’ (Courtesy of First Folio)" /></div><p>The Dueling Critics won&rsquo;t return to the air &#39;til next Friday, August 17, when we&rsquo;ll review Eugene O&rsquo;Neill&rsquo;s <em>Ah, Wilderness</em> at Eclipse Theatre. Meanwhile, console yourselves with one of these:<br /><br /><u><em>Shylock and His Daughter</em>, this and next Thursday at 8:15 p.m., First Folio Theatre in Oak Brook, $10.</u><br /><br />If you&rsquo;ve ever wondered what <em>The Merchant of Venice</em> would look like from Shylock&rsquo;s perspective, come check out First Folio&rsquo;s staged reading of this play from the Yiddish theater.&nbsp;<em>Merchant</em> director Alison C. Vesely is at the helm, and the reading features the actors from <em>Merchant</em> reprising (and reinterpreting) their roles. It should be an excellent complement to Vesely&rsquo;s thoughtful interpretation of one of Shakespeare&rsquo;s most difficult comedies. There are only these two performances, though, so don&rsquo;t tarry.<br /><br /><u><em>Cupid Has A Heart On: A Musical Guide to Relationships</em>, Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. beginning August 11 at Stage 773 on Belmont, $20.</u><br /><br />Brian Posen, who operates Stage 773 as a rental house for other companies, brings his own troupe over from iO where this long-form improvisation piece about getting it together and getting it on has been playing to rapt late-night audiences for roughly ever.&nbsp; Come check out the show in an environment not dictated by Cubs traffic.<br /><br /><br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 09 Aug 2012 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/%EF%BB%BFdon%E2%80%99t-miss-list-august-9-august-15-shylock-and-cupid-face-101547 Don't Miss List July 26-August 1: Shakespeare, Shakespeare and more Shakespeare, plus some drek http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/dont-miss-list-july-26-august-1-shakespeare-shakespeare-and-more <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/merchant%20of%20venice%20first%20folio%20theater_0.jpg" title="'A Merchant of Venice' at First Folio Theater (Courtesy of First Folio)" /></div><p><u>Dueling Critics on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, Friday July 27 between 9 and 10 a.m., 91.5 FM and WBEZ.org, FREE!</u><br /><br />It&rsquo;s an all-Shakespeare, all-outdoor, all-Western suburbs day! We&rsquo;ll be talking about <em>The Merchant of Venice</em> at <a href="http://firstfolio.org/">First Folio Theatre</a> in Oakbrook and <em>Richard III</em> at <a href="http://oakparkfestival.com">Oak Park Festival Theatre</a> in guess-where. If you miss the <em>sturm und drang </em>on the air, you can always hear the segment on the <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> portion of the site, or here.&nbsp;&ndash;KK<br /><br /><u>Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, begins Sunday July 29 at 4 p.m. at the South Shore Culture Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, FREE!</u><br /><br />And speaking of Shakespeare, <a href="http://www.chicagoshakes.com/">Chicago Shakespeare Theater</a>&nbsp;has furnished a truck with an unfolding stage and will begin on Sunday to tour the city&rsquo;s parks with its free-for-all traveling production of <em>The Taming of the Shrew</em>. In addition to the grand Sunday opening at the South Shore Cultural Center, the troupe will make late-afternoon visits this week to Tuley Park, Dvorak Park and Austin Town Hall Park. The peripatetic program continues through August 19 with performances every day but Thursday. To see whether the players are scheduled to descend on your neighborhood, go to chicagoshakes.com/parks.&nbsp;&ndash;KK<br /><br /><em><u>DrekFest 2012</u></em><u>, Tuesday July 31 at 7:30 p.m., Stage Left Theatre at the ComedySportz Theatre, 929 West Belmont, tickets $15</u><br /><br />My one true regret of the coming week is that my schedule will keep me away from <em>DrekFest</em>, Stage Left Theatre&rsquo;s &ldquo;annual, national search for America&rsquo;s worst ten-minute play.&rdquo; Four shows will compete at the finals on Tuesday, including <em>Abortion Carnival of the Juggalos</em> by 2010 Grand Loser Jake Lindquist. The audience chooses the loser and there are subordinate prizes for, e.g., Worst Stage Direction. Ask the people at the Bulwer Lytton competition: writing horrible&nbsp;prose is harder than it seems&ndash;though there are days when I find it quite effortless.&nbsp;&ndash;KK</p><p><u><em>Yo Solo Festival</em>, Teatro Vista and Collaboraction; Flat Iron Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee (3rd Floor); 1-312-226-9633; $15; through Sept. 2</u></p><p>Chicago&#39;s leading Latino theater troupe offers six actor-writers in solo performances, in association with Collaboration, the innovative physical theater company now re-developing itself as a facilitator and presenter of inter-disciplinary work. <strong><em>Yo Solo Festival</em></strong> offers two artists in each of three rotating programs: Ray Andujar, Sandra Delgado, KJ Sanchez, Lisandra Tena, Juan Villa and Febronio Zatarain. Teatro Vista borrows a page from Teatro Luna, the Latina collective which first achieved success by offering solo programs written and performed by its members. <em>Yo Solo</em> also incorporates music and visual art in stories as varied as historic land battles in New Mexico to Colombia in the 1940s.&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p><p><u><em>Ah, Wilderness!</em> <a href="http://www.eclipsetheatre.com">Eclipse Theatre</a> at The Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport; 1-773-935-6875; $28; through Sept. 2</u></p><p>&quot;A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me, singing in the wilderness. Ah, Wilderness were Paradise enow!&quot; This famous quote from Persian author Omar Khayyam gave Eugene O&#39;Neill the title of his only comedy, which is a reverse-image version of his autobiographical play, <em>Long Day&#39;s Journey Into Night</em>. Set in similar surroundings in New London, CT (where O&#39;Neill and his family lived), <strong><em>Ah, Wilderness</em></strong> is what O&#39;Neill family life might have been if his father hadn&#39;t been an actor, his brother hadn&#39;t been an alcoholic whoremonger and his mother hadn&#39;t been a drug addict. But they were. Successfully produced on Broadway in 1933, <em>Ah, Wilderness!</em> starred George M. Cohan in a rare non-musical role (and equally rare, in a show he didn&#39;t write) as the father of the household. <em>Ah, Wilderness</em> has a large cast for a comedy, which may be one reason it&#39;s not often produced. The play has a warm heart and a good deal of wit, so give yourself a chance to see the flip side of America&#39;s great Gloomy Gus playwright.&nbsp;&ndash;JA</p></p> Thu, 26 Jul 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/dont-miss-list-july-26-august-1-shakespeare-shakespeare-and-more Young actors: Step up to the plate http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/young-actors-step-plate-101033 <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/merchant%20of%20venice%20first%20folio%20theater.jpg" title="Young actors just out of school play six of the 19 roles in First Folio’s ‘Merchant of Venice.’ (Courtesy of First Folio)" /></div><p>Wednesday night I trucked out to see <em>The Merchant of Venice</em>, at the annual outdoor Shakespeare festival presented by First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Forest Preserve in Oak Brook, Ill. I enjoyed this handsomely-designed and engagingly-acted production very much, until the show was cancelled at intermission due to approaching violent storms. Lucky for me, I know how the play ends.</p><p>Most Shakespeare plays require a large cast, and the program for <em>Merchant</em> listed 19 actors. Combing through the credits, I found that six of the 19 either graduated from university acting programs within the last two years or still are in school. None of the six yet has a union card from Actors Equity Association (which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year).</p><p>This is one of the finest characteristics of Chicago theater. Our Off-Loop and Off-off-Loop companies abound with embryonic talent; kids just out of school or soon-to-be. Our larger institutional theaters, too, often engage early-career actors. Once upon a time, I was one of those kids myself acting for peanuts in the seminal Off-Loop troupes of Lincoln Avenue, among them Kingston Mines Theatre Company, the Body Politic, Pary Productions and Del Close&#39;s Chicago Extension improvisational company.</p><p>Thinking of then and thinking of now, this is the<em> perfect</em> time to be a young actor. So, yeah, sure, the global economy sucks, we&#39;re in a depression (don&#39;t buy the nonsense that it&#39;s only a recession) and if the Eurozone totally melts down we&#39;ll really be in the crapper. But what the hell? When has it <em>ever</em> been a <em>good</em> time for a career in the arts? Actors are perpetually under-employed even in the best of economies &mdash; it&#39;s one of the occupational facts of life &mdash; and a sour economy does not substantially offer <em>less</em> employment or less opportunity for employment.</p><p>So go for it.</p><p>Fact is, electronic, digital, online and video media offer more employment for actors than ever before. From voices for video games, to the explosion of cable TV shows (just think how many actors the Discovery Channel and the History Channel employ), to self-produced internet programs and serials, to direct-to-disc movies, the entertainment industry is exploding with new ways for actors to act in addition to the familiar categories of commercials and voice-overs, TV, film and theater. Yes, much of it is shallow, formulaic and sometimes amateurish; and much of it &mdash; perhaps most of it &mdash; is not covered by actors union contracts (Equity, SAG-AFTRA), so the possibilities of being underpaid, exploited, ripped-off and/or sleazed are very real, but this blog column isn&#39;t a business lesson.</p><p>Compared to many of these, live theater may be the worst way to make a living, and I use the words &quot;make a living&quot; with great reservation. In Los Angeles, a newbie actor can appear at an Equity Waiver theater and earn nothing but car fare for professional work, often with established veteran actors. Difference is, the established veterans can afford to indulge their passion for live art, but the starter-out still is eating beans. On the other hand, a newcomer also can find himself/herself on a soap or a series making several thousand dollars a week.</p><p>The difference in Chicago is no one becomes rich here from any type of acting, whether you&#39;re working at Steppenwolf or the Goodman or a neighborhood storefront theater. Chicago is not the town where you make a killing or become a star; it&#39;s the town where you hone your chops, stretch yourself and practice your craft. And, with over 220 producing theater companies, the odds are <em>much</em> better here than in New York or Los Angeles of your landing a role and actually honing, stretching and practicing; witness those six young&#39;uns in <em>The Merchant of Venice</em>.</p><p>So, young actors, give it a whirl. No matter if you act for little or no money as long as shoes still need to be sold, hash still needs to be slung, dogs still need to be walked and temp work still is available. Keep in mind that the cost of living in Chicago still is considerably less than in NYC or L.A. Even more important, audiences here are sharper, more receptive to the new and better-informed than just about anywhere else. The lesson from that is to hold yourself to a high standard of craft and intelligence, and to take risks. If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?</p></p> Fri, 20 Jul 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/young-actors-step-plate-101033 Don't-Miss List March 29-April 3: Ghost stories, untimely death and prep-school romance http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-29/dont-miss-list-march-29-april-3-ghost-stories-untimely-death-and-pr <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-29/Two Sides photos.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-29/Two Sides photos.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 420px;" title="Shannon Cason performs in 'Two Sides' by Chicago Slam Works. (Courtesy of the Vittum)"></p><p><u>Dueling Critics, 91.5 FM and WBEZ.org, between 9 and 10 a.m. Friday March 30th, FREE!</u><br> <br> Top of the list, of course, is our tete-a-tete on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> about <a href="http://theartistichome.org/"><em>Tea and Sympathy</em> by the Artistic Home at Stage 773</a>. A prep-school student suspected of being gay hopes to escape this fate worse than death through the ministrations of his housemaster’s frustrated wife. When you talk about this (and you will), be kind. Guest Duelist Albert Williams of the <em>Reader</em>, Columbia College Chicago and the <a href="http://www.arts.cornell.edu/english/awards/nathan/previous.html#2000">George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism</a> will challenge me to consider whether this chestnut (staged in 1953, filmed in 1956 with the oh-so-sympathetic Deborah Kerr) is worth roasting.</p><p><u><em>Tangled</em> at eta Creative Arts, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave., 8 p.m. Thursday March 29th, $10</u><br> <br> <a href="http://etacreativearts.org/mainstage_shows.html">eta’s new mainstage show</a> is sadly timely, focusing as it does on a group of African-American women funeral directors. Sure, their South Side businesses are thriving, but who wants to profit from the early deaths of the neighborhood’s young men? In light of Trayvon Martin (only the most recent of many), Nicole Anderson-Cobb’s play will hit frighteningly close to home–and yet it’s styled a “provocative dramedy.” Thursdays through Sundays through May 20; tickets $30; $20 on “Talkback Thursdays” and a special $10 for tonight’s opening.<br> <br> <u><a href="http://firstfolio.org/"><em>The Turn of the Screw</em> at First Folio</a>, Mayslake Estate, Oak Brook, 8 p.m. Saturday March 31st, $26-$37</u><br> <br> Here’s a ghost story for those of you who confuse March 31 with October 31, one by Henry James for those of you too snobby to admit you like ghost stories and one starring the elegant Nick Sandys as the ghost for those of you still <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062565/">identifying with Mrs. Muir.</a> Set in a spooky English manor, it’s performed in the spooky faux-English manor where First Folio makes its home. The company has a particular flair for genteel horror, so get in touch with your inner governess Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through April 29.<br> <br> <u><em>Two Sides</em> by Chicago Slam Works at the Vittum, 1012 N. Noble, 8 p.m. Tuesday April 3, $18.50</u><br> <br> In the spirit of the season one might ask: Why is this poetry slam different from all other poetry slams?&nbsp; To which the answer is, it’s a choreographed face-off between storytellers and performance poets. This is the first show of the inaugural season of <a href="http://chicagoslamworks.org/">Chicago Slam Works</a>, which continues with shows in May and July. (A three-show Slam Pass will run you $40.)&nbsp; Oil your snapping fingers and check it out.</p></p> Thu, 29 Mar 2012 14:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-29/dont-miss-list-march-29-april-3-ghost-stories-untimely-death-and-pr Not-so-spooky theater picks for your Halloween weekend http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-27/not-so-spooky-theater-picks-your-halloween-weekend-93511 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-27/Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Water Stains on the Wall, photo by LIU Chen-hsiang 4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-27/searching_for_peabodys_tomb.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 289px; height: 135px;" title="">Though most of this weekend's theatrical fun and games are covered in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-21/dueling-critics-creep-you-out-93377">the Dueling Critics' Halloween picks</a>, at least one remains.&nbsp;<strong><em>Searching for Peabody's Tomb</em></strong> is <a href="http://www.firstfolio.org/">First Folio Theatre</a>'s improvement on the traditional Halloween haunted house, taking the stout of heart through its Mayslake Mansion home to look for the spirit (and any earthly manifestations) of its founding coal profiteer George Peabody. Any excuse to be in that beautiful house, set on that beautiful lot out in the countryside, especially on a night when the moon's a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. Today through Halloween Monday only, with performance/tours on the half-hour beginning at 7 p.m., at the Forest Preserve in Oakbrook; all tickets only $10.&nbsp; Call 630-986-8067 for reservations; some performances are sold out. For ages 12 and up.</p><p>And for those of you who want to skip right to the next holiday, <strong><em>Irving Berlin's White Christmas</em></strong> has just opened at <a href="http://www.marriotttheatre.com/">Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire</a>. There's no particular hurry, though: this smartly-produced stage adaptation of the beloved holiday film runs through New Year's Day. Tickets $40-$48.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-27/Cloud%20Gate%20Dance%20Theatre%20of%20Taiwan%2C%20Water%20Stains%20on%20the%20Wall%2C%20photo%20by%20LIU%20Chen-hsiang%204.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 312px; height: 400px;" title="Cloud Gate ">Viewers have been known to fall asleep at performances. Sometimes twice. (Eric Futran, I’m talking to you.) Despite that, or because of it, <strong><a href="http://www.colum.edu/dance_center/performances/Cloud_Gate_Dance_Theatre_of_Taiwan/index.php">Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan</a></strong> is not to be missed. Choreographer Lin Hwai-min aims for a meditative effect, but at the same time the dancing is so expert, so exhilarating, that you walk out feeling twice as alive as when you went in. <em>Water Stains on the Wall</em>might not sound scintillating, but believe me, God is in the details of this hour-long piece. Friday and Saturday at the Harris.</p><p>What performance isn’t improvised? But when choreographers leave the door wide open to improv, the results can be more dramatic than in the best-laid plans. I have high hopes for <a href="http://www.synapsearts.com/index.php?s=events">Rachel Damon’s <strong><em>Factor Ricochet</em></strong></a>, which she developed with her dancers over many months, exploring the many personas within each one. The resulting work—made up of choreography and “improvography”—opens tonight, Thursday, at Bucktown’s Holstein Park and runs through November 4.</p><p>Also tonight: <a href="http://mcachicago.org/performances/now/all">Lucky Plush Productions opens <strong><em>The Better Half</em></strong></a> at the MCA. Choreographer Julia Rhoads collaborated with 500 Clown members Adrian and Leslie Danzig to create this seriocomic movement-theater riff on the 1944 noir <em>Gaslight</em>, with glimmerings of <em>The Bourne Identity</em>and Ingmar Bergman’s <em>Scenes From a Marriage</em>. Two weekends, through November 6.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p>As Kelly said before, this is Halloween Weekend, of course, and the truly wise will seek out the recommendations of Chicago Public Media’s Dueling Critics with regard to Halloween-themed shows, posted last Friday on this site. As for the truly unwise . . . .</p><p>Teatro Vista, celebrating its 22<sup>nd</sup> season, starts things rolling with <a href="http://www.teatrovista.org/stage/26-miles.html"><strong><em>Momma’s Boyz</em></strong></a>, the first of two plays by Candido Tirado the Latino-American troupe will produce this season. The troupe produces plays in English (or mostly English) exploring the urban landscape, and <em>Momma’s Boyz</em> is a tough-as-nails tale of three friends in The Projects who sell drugs. Twist is, it moves backwards in time to give the three a second chance with the help of hindsight that reality rarely offers. It’s running at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Avenue, through Dec. 4.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-27/MV-Full.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 240px; height: 250px;" title="">My other choice just might fit the Halloween mold, although that’s not the specific intention of Jordan Harrison’s <a href="http://www.nexttheatre.org/maple-and-vine-shows-16.php"><strong><em>Maple and Vine</em></strong></a>, which opens the 30<sup>th</sup> season of the Next Theatre Company in Evanston. This Midwest premiere concerns an under-pressure, 21<sup>st</sup> century urban couple who retrogress by giving up iPhones and multi-tasking to join a community of 1950’s re-enactors, and live in a world of cigarettes, black and white TV, Eisenhower and Tupperware parties. But will it bring them happiness? Rod Serling, where are you? The estimable Damon Kiely is the director. <em>Maple and Vine</em> continues at Next Theatre, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, through Dec. 4.</p></p> Thu, 27 Oct 2011 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-27/not-so-spooky-theater-picks-your-halloween-weekend-93511 Sophisticated ladies and comedies of manners http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-26/sophisticated-ladies-and-comedies-manners-92383 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-23/Melissa Carlson as Katharine Hepburn.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>You might not ordinarily speak of Katharine Hepburn and Zora Neale Hurston in the same breath. But two current productions inspired by the women remind us of what they had in common: the capacity to observe and represent every detail of a very particular environment, like reporters embedded with a home-front army. Different as their milieus were--Hepburn's Connecticut-Yankee luxury might as well exist on a different planet from the down-home African-American communities Hurston portrays--they both reflected how culture and mores affect romance, family and status in a specific setting. Thus, sober as some of their stories may be, the shows involving Hepburn and Hurston are true comedies of manners.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.courttheatre.org/">Court Theatre's <em>Spunk</em></a> is George C. Wolfe's lively adaptation of a trio of Hurston short stories, with music. (The music, performed by music director Kelvyn Bell as Guitar Man and the spectacular Alexis J. Rogers as Blues Speak Woman, is interwoven with the stories, but the show isn't a "musical"--the other characters don't sing.) At first I was uncomfortable seeing Court do another performance of "folk" black people so soon after its production of <em>Porgy and Bess</em>; we're not far enough removed from old stereotypes to be casual about scattering them around. But under Seret Scott's sparkling direction, <em>Spunk</em> quickly shows itself to be an account of the behavior of various African-American communities, as seen lovingly from the inside--a shift in perspective which makes all the difference. Though the stories that begin and end the evening share the serious theme of marital betrayal, the story-telling is so buoyant and the endings so satisfying that they belong in the comedy category. And the central scene is an out-and-out riot, as two Harlem "pimps"--meaning in this context gigolos--preen and compete and pretend to each other and themselves that they're great successes when in fact neither of them has a dime. If you're not familiar with the exhilarating ritual of "playing the dozens," get yourself down to Hyde Park to hear Kenn E. Head tell Chris Boykin, "Don't tell your grandmother how to milk ducks."</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-26/katharine tea at five.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 290px; height: 375px; " title="Melissa Carlson as Katharine Hepburn in 'Tea at Five' "><a href="http://www.firstfolio.org/plays/tea_at_five.html">First Folio's <em>Tea at Five</em></a>, set in an elegant drawing room with the elegant Katharine Hepburn at two different stages in her privileged life, seems at first glance to be wholly different. But in Matthew Lombardo's script, Hepburn comes through as a woman forced to develop the brittle manners of the upper class to cope with a family in which public emotion was forbidden and all that mattered was the outward show of things. The account of her brother's death and her parents' cold reactions to it rivals <em>Ordinary People</em> for its portrait of the unfeeling rich. The excellent Melissa Carlson, ably directed by Alison C. Vesely, shows Hepburn simultaneously at home with success and power and woefully adrift on it--a sort of mirror image of the Hurston characters, who are simultaneously at home with their lives and battling to escape them.</p><p>At the <em>Tea at Five</em> matinee I saw, someone in the audience had a fainting spell that looked at first glance like a heart attack. Naturally, the show had to be stopped, a difficult circumstance for any actor; but Carlson and stage manager Kate Danziger handled it with extraordinary grace and care. (Carlson even ran to fetch the theater's defibrillator.) And once the crisis was past, she engaged directly and reassuringly with the audience. "I can finish if you want," she said, and we all applauded, whereupon she instantly switched not only into Hepburn voice but into Hepburn style, saying, "Let me put on my <em>accoutrements</em> and we'll get right to it." I'll remember the actress's grace under pressure long after I've forgotten what show she was in or who she was playing.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 26 Sep 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-26/sophisticated-ladies-and-comedies-manners-92383 Daily Rehearsal: Katharine Hepburn, immortalized on stage http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-21/daily-rehearsal-katharine-hepburn-immortalized-on-stage-92292 <p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Next Theatre announced their new production</strong></span></span> of <a href="http://www.nexttheatre.org/maple-and-vine-shows-16.php"><em>Maple and Vine</em></a>,&nbsp;about "Kathy and Ryu, a successful NYC couple" who "have become allergic to their 21st century lives. After meeting a charismatic man from a community of 1950's re-enactors, they forgo cell phones and sushi for cigarettes and Tupperware parties." Who doesn't want to go back to the days of <em>Mad Men</em>?</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/Katharine Hepburn_flickr_Laura Loveday.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 256px; height: 300px; " title="Katharine Hepburn (Flickr/Laura Loveday)"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. The Katharine Hepburn tribute <em>Tea at Five</em></strong></span></span> is adding extra performances. The production, by <a href="http://www.firstfolio.org/">First Folio Theatre</a>, is based off of Hepburn's autobiography <em>Me: Stories of My Life</em>, is a one-woman show starring Melissa Carlson, who was also seen in <em>A Midsummer's Night's Dream</em> at the Theatre as well.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <a href="http://www.drurylaneoakbrook.com/">Drury Lane Theatre</a> has replaced <em>Promises, Promises</em></strong></span></span> with <em>Xanadu</em>. No Olivia Newton John promised, though, so hold your tears.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. The hate on <em>Love, Loss, and What I Wore</em> rolls on</strong></span></span>. Well, sort of: Bob Bullen trashes it on his personal blog, referring to the play as <a href="http://chitheatreaddict.com/2011/09/21/love-loss-and-what-i-snore/"><em>Love, Loss, and What I Snore</em></a>, but then is pretty fine about it on the other <a href="http://chicagolikealocal.com/2011/09/20/love-loss-and-what-i-wore-at-broadway-playhouse/">blog he writes for</a>. What gives? Well, the "ladies" might like it, so take the "lady" in your life.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Howard Sherman <a href="http://www.2amtheatre.com/2011/09/21/it%E2%80%99s-you/">tells us</a> about how theater companies</strong></span></span> are annoying him on Twitter. "You retweet this stray person who liked your show and that nameless egg-head who liked your performance; every night between 10 and 11 pm, or first thing in the morning when you rise, it’s the same thing," writes Sherman. "You’re cool, you’re mind-blowing, I’ve got to run and see what you’re doing. It’s boring. And let me let you in on a little secret: I know you’re being selective and if I feel like it, I can find all of those negative tweets you never seem to mention." More interestingly, Sherman calls out Robert Falls as someone who he enjoys on Twitter, because he's "dropped the curtain that often separates us." What do you think of <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/RobertFalls201">Bob's tweets</a>?</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 14:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-21/daily-rehearsal-katharine-hepburn-immortalized-on-stage-92292 Daily Rehearsal: Steppenwolf sends an Emmy congrats to Martha Plimpton http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-14/daily-rehearsal-steppenwolf-sends-emmy-congrats-martha-plimpton-891 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-14/marthaplimpton_ap_peterkramer.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-14/marthaplimpton_ap_peterkramer.jpg" style="width: 219px; height: 300px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="Martha Plimpton at Fox's upfront party in May 2011 (AP/Peter Kramer)"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. It's Bastille Day and Steppenwolf <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/steppenwolfthtr">wants to know</a></strong></span></span> what your favorite French play is. Oh, and they send out congrats to Martha Plimpton, a <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/ensemble/members/details.aspx?id=28">Steppenwolf ensemble member</a> who's been <a href="http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/watch_with_kristin/b252140_2011_emmy_nominations_vote_your.html">nominated </a>for her role in the television show <em>Raising Hope</em>. Her last production with the company was 2001's <em>Absolution</em>.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">2. First Folio is in its second week of performances for <a href="http://www.firstfolio.org/plays/romeoandjuliet10.html"><em>Romeo and Juliet</em></a></span></strong></span>. Will it be as good as Shakespeare in the Park's 2007&nbsp;<a href="http://nymag.com/arts/theater/reviews/34358/">version</a>, featuring <em>Six Feet Under</em>'s Lauren Ambrose? The performances are held outside, so perhaps it will at least be as scenic? Also, in a clear dig at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Folio's website features a quote from the Tribune: "First Folio offers something Navy Pier can't — plenty of greenery, gentle breezes and the chance to stretch out on a blanket with family and friends while being transported to Shakespeare's otherworldly romance."&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <em>Beast Women</em> is a cabaret show</strong></span></span> at National Pastime Theater, and the <a href="http://www.beastwomenproductions.com/">Beast Women</a> will be there, tonight at 8pm. But wait -- this is no ordinary cabaret (though what is an ordinary cabaret?): "This is not your typical show," they say.<span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px;">&nbsp;"</span>The artists presented, display their passion, strength, freedom, and sensuality to reveal the very things that make them the women they are today.<span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px;">" It's all part of Naked July at the National Pastime, which also features some of your favorite movies.</span></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-14/fos2011comp.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 208px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">4. Lifeline Theater has the <a href="http://www.lifelinetheatre.com/performances/11-12/filletofsolo2011.shtml"><em>Fillet of Solo </em></a>festival </span></strong></span>starting next week, and it's quite the whos-who of Chicago performers. A Festival Pass is probably your best deal if you want to go to several pieces; that's only 30 dollars, but $10 per performance. The Festival runs for three weeks, so carefully note down your best bets. Thus far, <em>Free Beer</em> looks good ("Generation Y takes the mic: Adventure stories from Lifeline 80s babies") as well as&nbsp;<em>I Got Sick and Then I Got Better</em> by Jenny Allen.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">5. Curious about Hot Tix and their tweets</span></strong></span> and their business model? Read Kris Vire's <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/14848221/joe-wescott-of-hot-tix">story </a>about Joe Wescott, the man behind the humor, and an active part of Chicago's theater scene himself.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 14 Jul 2011 14:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-14/daily-rehearsal-steppenwolf-sends-emmy-congrats-martha-plimpton-891 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater 4/25 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-24/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-425-85618 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-25/WomanInBlackPress01.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-25/WomanInBlackPress01.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px;" title="Kevin McKillip and Joe Foust in Woman in Black (Photo by D. Rice)"></p><p>1. This is a little delayed, but last week <a href="http://reviewsyoucaniews.blogspot.com/2011/04/woman-in-black-first-folio.html">Eric &amp; Andy</a> reviewed <a href="http://www.firstfolio.org/#">First Folio</a>'s <a href="http://www.firstfolio.org/plays/womaninblack.html"><em>The Woman in Black</em></a> and actually liked it, even though it's a horror story. Quoth he: "I usually think [horror plays] are dumb, because they are never scary. I always go to a play and think, 'How...in this proscenium space, can you possibly scare me? I am a grown ass man!'"</p><p>2. Perhaps sitcoms and theater are not as different as we think; <a href="http://www.americanbluestheater.com/season-news/rantoul-die/"><em>Rantoul or Die</em></a> opened this weekend at the American Blues Theater, written by Mark Roberts. He's best known as the Creator/Executive Producer of <em>Mike &amp; Molly</em>, and for his work on <em>Two and a Half Men</em> and <em>The Big Bang Theory</em>. This production is directed by Erin Quigley, who did costume design for <em>Roseanne</em>, so be prepared for what Hollywood thinks life is like if you're blue collar.</p><p>3. In case <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-22/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-422-85549">you've forgotten</a>, the Chicago Improv Festival starts today, and TimeOut has <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/comedy/1182469/greetings-from-new-york-city">a list of groups from New York</a> that are winging their way to the (mid)west to remind us to "relax your second city angst."</p><p>4. Sean Graney of The Hypocrites (and just about everywhere else, it appears) directs <a href="http://thehousetheatre.com/seasons/eight/shows/star-witness"><em>Star Witness</em></a> at The Chopin Theater Thursday through Sundays, which is about at the end of it's run. And if you're interested in making a trip to St. Louis on the High Speed Rail that doesn't exist yet, he'll be doing <a href="http://www.shakespearefestivalstlouis.org/"><em>The Taming of the Shrew</em></a> in May as part of their Shakespeare Festival.</p><p>5. The Kit Kat Lounge &amp; Supper Club is <a href="http://www.kitkatchicago.com/upcomingevents/">looking for</a> Chicago's best male or female Hollywood impersonator. The contest, hosted by Aurora Sexton, will begin at 10:30 pm tonight, following the normal viewing of <em>Ru Paul's Drag Race</em>, naturally.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org?subject=Morning%20Rehearsal%20Tip">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 24 Apr 2011 19:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-24/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-425-85618