WBEZ | Tony Awards http://www.wbez.org/tags/tony-awards Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en What the Tony Awards are really for http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-06/what-tony-awards-are-really-99878 <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/Ghost%20the%20Musical%20AP.jpg" title="Da'Vine Joy Randolph performs in a scene from ‘Ghost The Musical’ at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York. Randolph, who plays a sassy psychic, earned a Tony Award nomination for her Broadway debut. (AP/The Hartman Group, Joan Marcus)" /></div><p>The Tony Awards, and particularly their upcoming broadcast on Sunday night, are designed to solve two theater-industry problems, one insoluble and the other self-inflicted.</p><p>The insoluble problem is that theater is, by definition, local: One group of audience members at one location sees one group of players do something that will never be repeated.&nbsp;Oh, the script may be repeated, even in the same location and with the same cast, but it won&rsquo;t be the same show, because every night the energy level of the actors will be different, so their chemistry with each other and with the audience will be different.&nbsp;More to the point, though, if you&rsquo;re not in New York you&rsquo;re not going to see shows that only play in New York.&nbsp;And by the time they get to Chicago (or Altoona) you may have forgotten about them completely.&nbsp;After all, what&rsquo;s to remember?&nbsp;A name?&nbsp;You&rsquo;ve seen nothing of the shows, heard nothing about the shows and&ndash;if you live in Chicago&ndash;you have plenty of local theater of your own to pay attention to.</p><p>So Broadway producers have a problem: how to attract and maintain the attention of people who might like their show but don&rsquo;t live in Manhattan.&nbsp;For those people (that would be all of us), the Tony Awards function as a sort of <em>Good Housekeeping</em> Seal of Approval. If you visit New York without obsessively scanning the critics (and it pains me as a critic to note how few people are scanning me obsessively!), you have only two ways of identifying shows that might conceivably be worth your time and money: a sign saying &ldquo;Seventh Smash Year!&rdquo; or words to that effect, and a sign saying &ldquo;Tony Award-winning.&rdquo;&nbsp; And if you think the latter sign is unimportant, check <em>Variety</em> on Monday to see how many Tony-less shows are posting their closing notices. &nbsp;<br /><br />The second, self-inflicted problem is implied in the first: in asking, &ldquo;What shows might conceivably be worth $100-plus a ticket?&rdquo; you&rsquo;re inevitably asking if anything could be. When shows are that expensive, you don&rsquo;t want to take a risk.&nbsp;Let us all praise cutting-edge theater, of course, but there&rsquo;s no particular virtue in a family of four&rsquo;s risking that a $1,000 evening of dinner-and-a-show is a disaster.&nbsp;If those prices had been in effect when my parents were taking us on our annual theater trip to New York, I wouldn&rsquo;t be a theater critic, because we would have seen one pre-approved show instead of three what-the-hell-let&rsquo;s-try-its. &nbsp;<br /><br />The Tony Awards can&#39;t change the fact that Broadway theater is no longer within the reach of ordinary middle-class people&ndash;because like the light bulb in the joke, Broadway really has to want to change. But why would it?&nbsp;Broadway shows charge as much as they do for the same reason dogs lick their private parts: because they can.&nbsp;And as long as the producers are making money, who cares whether their pricing policies are rapidly turning theater from an essential communications art form into a fetish?<br /><br />Enjoy the show.</p></p> Thu, 07 Jun 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-06/what-tony-awards-are-really-99878 Daily Rehearsal: New, manic Tony Award previews released http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/daily-rehearsal-new-manic-tony-award-previews-released-99660 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/NPH tony awards.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Joan Cusack</strong></span></span> will be running the&nbsp;Dash for Detection 5K Walk/Run&nbsp;for Pancreatic Cancer Research this weekend, with <em>potentially </em>Charlie Sheen in attendance as well but not her brother John, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/celebrity/aboutlastnight/chi-interview-joan-cusack-charlie-sheen-dash-for-detection-5k-race,0,4309150.column">reports the <em>Chicago Tribune</em></a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- <a href="http://secondcity.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f80bee9d0cd9cdff3369fe555&amp;id=aa6f0efb50&amp;e=67cc429de6">Rob Riggle is at UP</a></strong></span></span> Friday, Saturday and Sunday of next weekend; tickets are $25. Other notable summer performances:&nbsp;<em>Tasteful Nudes</em> author Dave Hill at the end of June (listen to <a href="http://thehairpin.com/2012/05/dave-hills-tasteful-nudes-the-interview">this interview</a> with him from <em>The Hairpin</em>), <a href="http://upcomedyclub.com/show_right.cfm?id=117376&amp;cart&amp;utm_source=Press+List+-+Chicago&amp;utm_campaign=0812a5fd94-UP_Press_Release5_29_2012&amp;utm_medium=email"><em>He&#39;s Just Not That Into You</em> author Greg Behrendt</a> at the end of July.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Boy that&#39;s a lot of promos</strong></span></span> and bad jokes back-to-back. Sorry NPH, this did not get me excited for the Tony&#39;s:</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/XkV2u4D2wpc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- &nbsp;WBEZ is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/event/2012-06-01/superheroes">hosting a panel</a> </strong></span></span>to discuss how superheroes play out in mediums besides comic books this Friday at 7 pm at Victory Gardens.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Apparently, <em>The Marvin Gaye Story</em></strong></span></span> does a good job representing Gaye&#39;s shift from shy performer to someone with &quot;intensely sexual stage presence&quot;, <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/stage/12808823-421/star-of-the-marvin-gaye-story-is-something-like-the-real-thing.html">argues Hedy Weiss</a>. As Gaye, actor&nbsp;Rashawn Thompson &quot;...chooses to make one particular woman in the audience very happy. (There was no shortage of volunteers at the performance I attended.)&quot;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 30 May 2012 12:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/daily-rehearsal-new-manic-tony-award-previews-released-99660 Daily Rehearsal: Hannibal Buress v. The Daily Eastern News http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/daily-rehearsal-hannibal-buress-v-daily-eastern-news-99468 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hannibal%20buress.jpg" style="float: left; width: 300px; height: 303px; " title="Buress performing stand-up for a Comedy Central special." /><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- <a href="http://www.avclub.com/chicago/articles/college-newspaper-starts-war-with-hannibal-buress,75503/"><em>The A.V. Club </em></a>draws our attention to</strong></span></span>&nbsp;complaints made against Hannibal Buress by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dennews.com/opinion/buress-comments-unfair-skewed/article_8ba7c856-a3d1-11e1-bf0d-001a4bcf6878.html">Eastern Illinois University&#39;s school paper</a>, spurred by sections from Burress&#39; stand-up routine. In the routines, Buress apparently discusses <em>The Daily Eastern News&#39;</em>&nbsp;disclosure of how much he was paid to perform at the University<a href="http://www.library.eiu.edu/denpdfs/2009/03/09march27pg02.pdf"> in a 2009 article</a>, among other things: &quot;During his act, Buress admits to telling our reporter that his performances include jokes related to &#39;personal stories, current events, the streets and even food&#39;,&quot; the opinion piece reads. &quot;Buress then proceeded to mock The DEN for including this comment.&nbsp;However, the blame for such a portrayal lies explicitly on Buress. If he did not wish for us to include that he talks about &#39;the streets&#39; in his act, he should not have said it in his interview.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- David Schwimmer </strong></span></span>will star in <em>Detroit</em> at Playwright Horizons in New York the summer, the <em>Associated Press</em> reports, opposite Amy Ryan. The play <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/About-Us/history/productions/index.aspx?id=503">premiered at Steppenwolf</a> in the fall of 2010.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- <a href="http://www.playbill.com/news/article/166251-Bernadette-Peters-Audra-McDonald-Ricky-Martin-Danny-Burstein-Norm-Lewis-Will-Be-Featured-on-Tonys">Here </a>are a</strong></span></span> few performances and appearances to look forward to at the Tony&#39;s.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Redmoon will be performing at Wicker Park Fest</strong></span></span>, as part of the festival&#39;s expanded arts line-up. Chicagoist says they&#39;ll be doing, &quot;a piece called The Sonic Boom, a massive battery powered vehicle, sculpture, and performance platform. Redmoon performers will activate the two hydraulic performance platforms and mobile DJ booth with spectacle performance and sound pieces, a portion of which will be fully composed in advance and a portion that will be structured for live improvisation during the event.&quot; No word on whether there will be fire, but they&#39;ll be there both <a href="http://wickerparkfest.com/music/">July 28 and 29th</a>, time TBD.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- <em>Clybourne Park</em> </strong></span></span>has had a <a href="http://clybournepark.com/">month </a>added to its Broadway run; it now closes August 12.</p></p> Wed, 23 May 2012 11:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/daily-rehearsal-hannibal-buress-v-daily-eastern-news-99468 Stephen Colbert: In good 'Company' on Broadway http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-15/stephen-colbert-good-company-broadway-87872 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-15/115950217_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Stephen Colbert has run for president. He's testified before Congress, created a political action committee and assisted the U.S. Olympic speedskating team in the role of assistant sports psychologist. He has a spider named after him (the <em>Aptostichus stephencolberti</em>) as well as a Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor (the Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream) and a NASA treadmill (the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT).</p><p>And now, the political satirist and award-winning host of <em>The Colbert Report</em> can add a new line to his resume: Broadway star.</p><p>The comedian and television host recently grabbed a straw hat and cane and performed as Harry in the 2011 New York Philharmonic production of Stephen Sondheim's <em>Company</em>. The revival, which also starred Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, Christina Hendricks and Martha Plimpton, has been made into a film that plays this week in limited showings.</p><p>Colbert tells <em>Fresh Air</em>'s Terry Gross that he didn't fake "a single smile" during the show's entire run. "It's what I imagined I would be doing when I went to theater school," he says. "It was such a bungee into an old dream to go do something like that."</p><p>Colbert, who attended the theater program at Northwestern University, says he's a huge musical theater fan and that it was always his intention to spend his life acting on the stage.</p><p>"I imagined myself living in New York in some sort of open, large but sparse studio apartment with a lot of blond wood and a futon on the floor and a bubbling samovar of tea in the background and a big beard — living alone but with my beard — and doing theater," he says. "That's what I thought my life would be. It has not been — and I love what I do — but to be asked to do this and then to accept the challenge of it. ... I can la-di-da my way through things ... but to sing Sondheim is a completely different beast."</p><p><strong>Let Me Entertain You</strong></p><p>It was Sondheim, in fact, who wanted Colbert to perform in <em>Company</em>. After appearing on Colbert's show, Sondheim invited Colbert to appear in the production. But Colbert's agent turned the role down, saying that there was absolutely no way Colbert could fit the limited engagement into his busy taping schedule. That's when Sondheim wrote Colbert a personal note.</p><p>"[He said that] against his instincts, he had a good time on my show and would I consider playing Harry in <em>Company</em>?" he says. "And he ended the letter with the sentence 'You have a perfect voice for musical theater.' And I read it to my wife and she said, 'Boy, you have to do this. No one, let alone Stephen Sondheim is going to ask you to do Sondheim.' And I said, 'You're right, I have to do it.' "</p><p>Once he was cast, Colbert started taking voice lessons and gained a new respect, he says, for professional singers. "What I rediscovered was the therapeutic nature of singing lessons," he says. "They're like doing yoga but for [the] inside of your body. You open up and use muscles that you don't think of as malleable. ... You can turn your head into a bell. ... That's what we kept working on: resonance and projection and relaxation and just remembering or relearning how to breathe through a phrase. The technical aspects of it are fascinating to go through in the lessons. And then you have to forget all of it, and sing."</p><p>Because of the cast members' busy schedules, most of the rehearsals were conducted via the Internet. Colbert was given recordings of his harmonies and told to practice them alone. The cast got together infrequently to rehearse lines and choreography — and then performed live at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic.</p><p>"On one level, it was impossible," he says, of the limited-run engagement. "In another way, it was the only way it could have gotten done — because you couldn't have gotten all of these people to commit to doing <em>Company</em>. ... I literally left rehearsal for <em>Company</em> [one night] and went and did "Friday" on Jimmy Fallon and then went back to <em>Company</em>. It was just a tremendous experience."</p><p><strong>In The Company Of The Colbert Report</strong></p><p>Colbert says he specifically chose not to mention his role in <em>Company</em> on his show <em>The Colbert Report</em> for two reasons. The first, he says, was to protect the production from any kind of "fake" endorsements.</p><p>"People could ascribe an insincerity to the things that I tout on the show," he explains. "And I didn't want to ascribe any insincerity to trying to go do this [musical] at Lincoln Center. Because I knew that I was dealing with somebody else's delicate product and I didn't want to invest it with my character's ego."</p><p>The second reason he chose not to mention <em>Company</em> on his TV show, says Colbert, is that he was worried that his performance wouldn't live up to his expectations.</p><p>"I had no idea if I wanted anyone to know I was doing it, because I knew how hard it was going to be," he says. "I was afraid I would suck. I don't mind failing so much, but I am a perfectionist. ... If you're a perfectionist and you know you're about to do something at which you cannot be perfect ... then that is daunting because you know what your heart is like and the way you approach your work. ... It was difficult to say 'Hold onto your socks America, I'm singing Sondheim.' "</p><p>After the production's run, Colbert sent a note to Sondheim, thanking him for getting him into "the most joyous trouble" he's ever been in.</p><p>"I tell a lot of young performers, 'Go get in trouble. Go commit yourself to something you're not sure you can do,' " he says. "And I followed my own advice. It was something I desperately wanted to do — not as a career — but an invitation I knew I couldn't refuse and yet had no sense of whether or not I could do it. And that is trouble — but it was all so joyful. I'm very grateful to Mr. Sondheim that he got me in such trouble."</p><p><h3></h3></p><p><hr /></p><p><h3>Interview Highlights</h3></p><p><strong>On becoming part of <a href="http://www.colbertnation.com/video/tag/Anthony+Weiner">the Anthony Weiner story</a> (when it was revealed that some of his text messages included messages about <em>The Colbert Report</em>)</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"I couldn't be more thrilled to find out that we ourselves were part of the content because it's my character's greatest dream — it's all he wants to do, is be the news. ... That's one of the reasons we ran for president in 2007-2008 because [my character] didn't like that the story was getting bigger than him. He has to be at the center of the story. One of the touchstones for the character is Bill O'Reilly, and years ago, I heard Bill O'Reilly say to President Bush, 'Guys like us.' And I thought 'Wow, he thinks of himself just equal to the president.'</p><p>"So my character thinks of himself as at least equal with any story and so while this Weiner thing was just consuming the world of news, to be part of it, to be in the reporting — to have my name in there — was a complete validation. As much as [my character] may demur and say he doesn't want to be associated with such unsavory details, in fact he was thrilled. I was, too, to have such a pure expression of his ego right there on paper."</p><p><strong>On how mainstream media cover stories by using his jokes instead of talking about the salacious details</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"They can obviate the sin of it by playing our jokes. That's nice."</p><p><strong>On his <a href="http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/388583/june-06-2011/paul-revere-s-famous-ride">recent segment</a> about Sarah Palin and Paul Revere [see <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/06/06/136997415/sarah-palins-had-her-say-now-lets-hear-from-paul-revere">NPR story</a> for background]</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"That entire bit came around because my executive producer Tom Purcell said, 'Wait a second. Play that again. Did she just say 'warning shot'? That's completely a 19th or 20th century idea that you can fire a warning shot. That's a repeating rifle idea. You don't fire a warning shot with a muzzle-loading gun. It takes three minutes or something to load it. Why would you waste it on a warning shot? That's what 'Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes' is about. We don't get a second shot.' So I said 'I should try to do that. I should try to show them how impossible that is. That's how it came about."</p><p><strong>On <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1T75jBYeCs">testifying</a> before the House Subcommittee on Immigration in 2010 [see <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/09/24/130096668/colbert-bringing-more-truthiness-to-capitol-hill-today">NPR story</a> for background]</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"People went crazy. Two days before I was supposed to go down there, they said, 'Can we confirm that you're coming?' And I said, 'Yeah, I like the speech we're working on and I'm prepared to do this.' An hour after they announced it, they were ready to cancel it because the press had gone crazy and Republicans had gone crazy. And I said, 'Well, just tell me now because I don't want to work on the speech for another 24 hours because we have a show to do.' And the congresswoman [in charge of the committee] was really nice. She said, 'No, I said that you can come and I'm going to stand by my word.'</p><p>"... So when [John] Conyers (D-MI) said, before anything started, 'I'd like you to submit your statement [and then leave before testifying],' I was really confused because I was told everything was fine. And I said, 'Are you asking me not to talk?' And he said, 'I'm asking you to leave.' And that's when I actually started getting <em>not</em> nervous because something was happening that I didn't expect — and I thought, 'Oh this is fascinating. This is far more interesting than I thought. I'm watching a fight that I don't know about and I'm the subject of the fight.' It's not an ego stroke but it makes you interested in the fight in ways that you can't imagine."</p><p><strong>On his gratitude for the military</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"There is a residual sense for me, having grown up in the early '70s, that I did not know I had, which was a sense that the military are different than I. Because there was such a divide between the military world — and there still is, because there's no draft — and the civilian world is one of the rotten harvests of the Vietnam War, was this sort of bifurcation of America in that way.</p><p>"There was sort of a negative association with the military. Maybe growing up in the South or being in a family with members of the military, I didn't have that negative connotation, but I did have this 'separate' connotation. I was ashamed to realize I had it and did not realize I had it until I was [in Iraq]. I was so impressed by the people I met over there and there was just a sense of connection and gratitude towards those people.</p><p>"I called my daughter from Baghdad and she said, 'What's it like, Daddy?' And I said, 'Well, honey, however you feel about the war, when my show started, this was the worst place on Earth in 2005. And these young men and women have worked hard to make it someplace that might be a functioning democracy someday and you cannot help but feel proud for your nation in ways that I never have before.' " <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</p> Wed, 15 Jun 2011 18:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-15/stephen-colbert-good-company-broadway-87872 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater 6/13 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-13/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-613-87765 <p><p>1. It was the Tony's last night! While some of you may have been watching the Heat become less than Hot, others of us watched an awards show that Neil Patrick Harris tried to claim was "not just for gays anymore" during a rousing opening number.</p><p>No big upsets, but the acceptance speeches of its leading ladies were especially dramatic. Sutton Foster (for <em>Anything Goes</em>) and Nikki M. James (for <em>Book of Mormon</em>) both gave emotional speeches, but they were bested by Frances McDormand (for <em>Good People</em>), who wore a jean jacket and a dress from Forever 21 and seemed to leave the next presenter, Daniel Radcliffe, speechless for a moment.</p><p>Antics weren't just isolated to the ladies though; Mark Rylance (<em>Jerusalem</em>)&nbsp;<a href="http://robinchapmanspoemaday.blogspot.com/2005/03/by-louis-jenkins-walking-through-wall.html">read a poem as thanks</a>.</p><p>Read more on the actual substance of the show by Jonathan Abarbanel, who remarks both on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-11/entire-lookingglass-ensemble-minus-one-new-york-tony-awards-87735">Lookingglass theater's exit to New York</a> for the weekend, as well as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-13/musical-variety-and-station-breaks-2011-tony-awards-87756">the bulk of the Tony's</a>.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="315" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-13/329.unb_.th_.thehomosexualscast.jpg" title="(Cheryl Mann)" width="471"></p><p>2. <a href="http://aboutfacetheatre.com/">About Face Theater</a>'s <em>The Homosexuals</em> opened in previews on Saturday at the Victory Gardens Theater, finishing the house's 15th season, and kicking off Pride Month (look for the Chicago Pride Parade on June 26th)<span style="font-style: italic;">. </span><em>The Homosexuals</em> is a coming of age tale about a young gay man who moves to the big city and falls for a new friend.</p><p>3.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stagelefttheatre.com/" style="color: rgb(0, 98, 160); text-decoration: underline;">Stage Left</a>'s 30th season has been announced; they'll be presenting&nbsp;Beau Willimon's&nbsp;<i>Farragut North</i>, which&nbsp;"provides a behind the scenes look at the cynical back-stabbing that goes into electing our nation's highest office, which is a valuable discussion as the country heads into the 2012 election season."</p><p>Jayme McGahn's&nbsp;<i>The Fisherman</i>, last seen at LeapFest 5, takes on union workers and "The Man" in Minnesota. They'll also have a "late-night holiday comedy" that I'm assuming you won't want to take the kids to.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="512" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-13/goombas.JPG" title="(Photo by Emily Heist Moss)" width="384"></p><p>4. Have you been missing the<em> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-12/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-512-86451">Fellowship of the Boobs</a></em>?&nbsp; Even so, you probably haven't been missing their ads. Never fear, <em>TimeOut </em>dropped by their performance last Thursday and took <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/14806379/fellowship-of-the-boobs-gorilla-tango-theatre-adult-photo-gallery">some slightly NSFW photos</a> of the action. Check them out if you have an office with a door.</p><p><o:p></o:p></p><p>5. And finally -- Mayor Emanuel's office weighed in on the celebration surrounding Lookingglass' win for Best Regional Theater:&nbsp;"Congratulations to the Lookingglass Theatre Company for winning the 2011 Tony Award for Excellence in Regional Theater. The Lookingglass is an important Chicago cultural institution, having produced more than 50 original works since it was founded in 1988 in a Northwestern University dormitory. From an adaptation of Studs Terkel's&nbsp;<em style="font-style: italic; font-weight: normal;">Race</em>&nbsp;to a recent production of David Schwimmer's&nbsp;<em style="font-style: italic; font-weight: normal;">Trust</em>, Lookingglass has been the standard of artistic excellence in the city.</p><p style="margin: 0.7em 0px; padding: 0px;">"On behalf of all Chicagoans, I commend the Company for its success in delivering quality, original theater for all to enjoy, and extend congratulations on this well-deserved honor."</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Mon, 13 Jun 2011 14:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-13/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-613-87765 Lookingglass Theatre Company snags 2011 Tony Award http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-03/lookingglass-theatre-company-snags-2011-tony-award-85992 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-03/looking glass.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre Company has won the 2011 Tony Award for Excellence in Regional Theatre, making it the fifth Chicago Off-Loop troupe to win the coveted award.</p><p>The announcement was made Tuesday morning (May 3) in New York City by the American Theatre Wing and the League of American Theaters and Producers, the joint bestowers of American theater's highest honor.</p><p>The award acknowledges the dedication of Lookingglass to a common theatrical vision of strong storytelling, physical theatre, literary pedigree and collaborative process.</p><p>The majority of Tony Awards celebrate the successes of individual Broadway-generated commercial theater productions, but the Regional Theatre Tony Award is reserved for a deserving non-profit company outside New York.</p><p>The Lookingglass win convincingly cements Chicago's global reputation as America's finest theater town. No other city comes close to five Tony Awards for Regional Theatre. Previous Chicago winners include Steppenwolf Theatre Company (1985), the Goodman Theatre (1992), Victory Gardens Theater (2001) and Chicago Shakespeare Theater (2008).</p><p>Lookingglass began life in 1988 as a small ensemble of Northwestern University theater graduates. Since then, the company has expanded to 22 ensemble members and 15 affiliates among whom are company co-founder David Schwimmer and Tony Award winning director/adapter Mary Zimmerman.</p><p>For its stories Lookingglass frequently has drawn on classical literature such as Greek, Persian and Hindu legends (<em>Hephaestus</em>, <em>The Odyssey</em>, <em>The Arabian Nights</em>, <em>Sita Ram</em>), Charles Dickens (<em>Hard Times</em>, <em>The Old Curiosity Shop</em>) and Russian author Feodor Dostoyevsky (<em>The Idiot</em>, <em>The Brothers Karamazov</em>).</p><p>The company also has approached modern authors such as Chicago icons Nelson Algren (<em>For Keeps and a Single Day</em>) and Studs Terkel (<em>Race</em>), and Upton Sinclair (<em>The Jungle</em>, in which the young actors hung themselves upside down on meat hooks as sides of beef). The variety of source material was as astonishing as the troupe's physical feats.</p><p>In 2003, Lookingglass moved into a permanent home in Chicago's historic Water Tower Pumping Station on Michigan Avenue, with the support of the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago.</p><p>The state-of-the-art, 240-seat flexible space has been used in arena, three-quarter, proscenium, alley and L-shaped configurations with equal success.</p><p>Fully rigged and trapped, the house can accommodate any of the frequent physical staging requirements of this daring troupe, several of whose current members/associates are professionally-trained circus performers.</p><p>To date, Lookingglass has produced 50 world premieres and received 42 Joseph Jefferson Awards or Citations. With an annual budget approaching $5 million, the company is under the leadership of executive director Rachel E. Kraft, artistic director Andrew White, producing artistic director Philip R. Smith and artistic director of new work Heidi Stillman. White, Smith and Stillman are company co-founders.</p><p>The company name derives from Lewis Carroll's <em>Through the Lookingglass</em>, which the founding members first developed as a stage work (<em>Lookingglass Alice</em>) when they were at Northwestern. Over the years they have enlarged and deepened their signature work, taking it on tour around the country.</p><p>Indeed, Lookingglass unknowingly helped secure its Tony Award through its frequent tours to other regional theaters around the country, thereby giving theater critics across America an opportunity to become familiar with the company's work.</p><p>The Tony Award for Regional Theatre is determined by a recommendation from the American Theatre Critics Association, which generates and votes upon a list of potential winners.</p><p>The Critics' recommendation is passed along to the American Theatre Wing and the League of American Theaters and Producers, which may accept or reject it (although in more than 30 years, the Tony Awards have not rejected a recommendation).</p><p>Typically, the initial recommendation of a theater company is written and organized by local critics. Currently, Illinois has 14 members of the American Theatre Critics Association, this writer among them (as well as Kelly Kleiman, my Dueling Critics colleague on Chicago Public Media).</p><p>Lookingglass will receive its Tony Award during live ceremonies Sunday, June 12, from the Beacon Theatre in New York, telecast on CBS.</p><p>The troupe recently closed a world premiere adaptation of Edith Wharton's <em>Ethan Frome</em>.</p><p>Its next production is another world premiere, <em>The Last Act of Lilka Kadison</em>, an ensemble-generated work about a World War II refugee. It begins previews June 1 and runs June 11 -July 24.</p></p> Tue, 03 May 2011 12:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-03/lookingglass-theatre-company-snags-2011-tony-award-85992