Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) launches its second ACTIVATE event of the year with Wasteland: Dispose and Discover on Wednesday, July 26 from 5-10 p.m. at the Chicago Theatre Alley (enter on Benton Place at State St). Guests who RSVP in advance at loopchicago.com/activate will receive a complimentary drink ticket for beer, wine, or cocktail at the event.
 
The 2017 ACTIVATE series invites the public to explore the pulse of daily life that the alley embodies. Art and programming will focus on a different aspect of alley life for each event. Wasteland explores the alley as the space where we dispose of unwanted stuff – and discover discarded objects that continue to hold value. Through a series of interactive art installations using discarded objects and trash receptacles as the primary materials, the event highlights the story of our trash and the alley’s role as garbage hotspot. 
 
The identity of the practical, hardworking alley is inextricably linked to trash. Chicagoans, who each throw out about one ton of garbage per year, make frequent trips to the alley dumpster. But, as the old adage goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Picture an alley picker’s excitement to find an old footstool lounging by the trash can. Imagine a scrapper stacking old pipes and a rusty stove in his retrofitted pickup. Curators Duncan Bindbeutel and Desmond Naranjo have created an array of activities and installations that highlight the alley’s main function: a wasteland for the discarded.

Flametube, a kinetic sculpture designed by Joshua T. Gilbert made of repurposed materials (such as recycled cell phone chargers and salvaged car components) that shoots flames in response to musical input.

Mystery Cans from artist Kelly Wyatt, whose contents will mystify patrons as new and mysterious forms emerge from not-so-ordinary trash and recycling cans throughout the night.

Propagation, a robotic flower made of reclaimed materials and cutting-edge 3D printed components, programmed to move, grow, and respond to the audience from industrial designer Steven Krejcik and software developer Paul Kirby.

On Garbage Pond, a large functional fountain sculpted by Devon Bonstein made from items found in Chicago alleys.
 
The Portal, a monumental structure overlaid with an illuminated scene of alley activities returns to amplify the ACTIVATE experience. By their very nature, alleys are voids – the space between buildings. The Portal provides a sense of arrival and puts the alleyway in play with the streetscape. Designed by PORT Urbanism, the structure will display a photo montage comprised of contemporary and historic images to support each theme, inspiring passersby to give an alley a second glance and wonder about its history.
 
The remaining 2017 ACTIVATE events on August 24 and September 28 will explore the alley as a channel pulsating with power lines and a hideaway where we can cavort and misbehave away from the eyes of the street. Dates are subject to change. Specific location and event details will be posted two weeks prior at loopchicago.com/activate.
 
Over the past three seasons, ACTIVATE has generated nearly $1.7 million in estimated economic impact to Loop businesses, with nearly $1 million in 2016 alone. More than 47,000 people have attended ACTIVATE over the course of the series. “Linger Longer” is a program of exclusive offers and promotions to drive traffic to CLA business members before and after each event.   
 
ACTIVATE sponsors include: School of the Art Institute of Chicago as presenting sponsor; PNC Bank, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Little Things, and CH Distillery as title sponsors; Vitacoco and RX Bar as event sponsors; and TimeOut Chicago as media sponsor.
 
About Chicago Loop Alliance
Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), the sole service provider for Special Service Area 1-2015, creates, manages, and promotes high-performing urban experiences, attracting people and investment to the Loop. For more information, please visit www.LoopChicago.com.
 
About ACTIVATE
ACTIVATE is a series of pop-up arts programs that encourage visitors to see the Loop anew. ACTIVATE transforms alleys and other urban locations into creative exhibition spaces that bring artists and the public together for an evening of exploration, interaction, and celebration of the arts. Chicago Loop Alliance launched the initiative in 2014.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

It’s summer at Highland Park’s Ravinia and the concert season continues with Sheryl Crow and Lukas Nelson. The grounds were jam packed with people ready to see a quality show and they were not let down one bit. The weather was nice, the drinks were cold, and the music was hot! It was a night of pure pleasure.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real took the stage first just as the sun was starting to set. This is a super tight group with skills beyond the levels of so many bands in existence today. The band was absolutely powerful and a real treat to see. Unfortunately, as the case with many opening acts, there were a lot of empty seats because too many people are only interested in the headliner. Big mistake, as the openers are sometimes just as good as the main act. A lot of people only came to see Sheryl Crow, but those in attendance for Lukas Nelson undoubtedly became fans of him as well.

Nelson was just at Ravinia a few weeks prior with his father Willie Nelson. Just before the show many music lovers who caught Willie’s show were still talking about Promise of the Real in anticipation of another great performance - and that is exactly what they got. Nelson’s band impressed so many people and left a few asking, “Who is he?” Now they know. Growing up in a family filled with some of the best musical minds, talent has truly rubbed off onto this young man.

Promise of the Real put together some great songs for the audience. “Four Letter Word” is a great little song and well written piece. “Find yourself” was being belted out to a few people who swayed their drink of choice back and forth to the almost reggae style beat created by the rhythm section.

Just before Lukas started to play “(Forget about) Georgia”, he talked about the inspiration to the song. He dated a young lady once by the name of Georgia and sadly, their relationship ended. He stated that he would forever be tormented during performances with his dad as he was constantly reminded of her every time they played “Georgia on My Mind”.

Lukas has put together a band of musicians that could challenge any band to a duel. They had to be a real tough act to follow, but if If anyone could follow them it would have to be someone with super musical powers like Sheryl Crow.

Night time had finally come and the cool breezes graced the pavilion seats and manicured lawns, creating the ambiance for a perfect night of music. By the time she took the stage, Crow was playing to a packed house. She opened the show with “Everyday is a Winding Road” then taking the audience down a musical path of her most popular hits.

“All I Wanna Do” was definitely a crowd pleaser and a great way to get people involved in singing the chorus. The music was extremely well rehearsed and vocally she sounded better than ever. As her set of gems continued, she mellowed out the crowd a bit with her cover of “The First Cut is the Deepest”. Then she quickly pumped everyone right back up with her next song “Halfway There”. The lady really knows how to work a crowd.

It wouldn’t be a Sheryl Crow show without the song “If It Makes You Happy”. Her set was just dynamite and arranged very well, as she kept hitting fans right between the eyes with one great song after another.

Possibly the youngest in the crowd was a not quite two-year-old child named Michael who was experiencing his first show. He put his hands together and started his uncoordinated dance during “Soak Up the Sun”. He was an enjoyment to the section he was in and added to the music in his own innocent way.

A major highlight of the entire evening was Sheryl’s cover of an Allman Brothers song, “Midnight Rider”. She gracefully nailed the vocals in her own style that put a smile on everyone’s face. She later ended the night with “I Shall Believe”. Even though it was a full show of boundless material by both groups, a lot of people left wanting more. When the music is that good, who would want it to ever stop?

Highland Park’s Ravinia has a great reputation of putting together incredible performances. The park has been the place to go for entertainment in the area for over one hundred years. Ravinia put yet another notch in the belt of their list of great shows with Lukas Nelson and Sheryl Crow. The festive outdoor concert venue is never a disappointment and always delivers a magical experience as they constantly keep their sites on perfection. Hats off to Ravinia, Sheryl Crow, and Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real for the great event they put forth. Collectively they created a show beyond the wildest of dreams of most. It was just priceless!

 

Published in In Concert
Friday, 07 July 2017 18:13

Buddy Guy is Real

Buddy Guy is real. In a music business where people often portray an image onstage - a persona - Buddy Guy is real. When you go see him play, that’s what you get and nobody walks away not knowing a little something about the man.

Before Guy’s set at Ravinia Festival, we were treated to the music of Booker T. Jones. Some of you might say, “who’s he?” Booker T. and The MG’s were the house band at Stax Records. They were on many songs that you remember, but they were not the faces on the record. Most people do recognize their hit “Green Onions”, but if you asked who it was…

His was a nice short, but effective, set. I had hopes of Buddy coming out and playing a song with Jones but that might have actually taken the focus away from Booker’s music in a way. It was really nice to hear the Hammond Organ being played by the actual person you heard play those melodies. Booker even played guitar and sang…but…that organ, that sound… It’s almost become a lost instrument today. I say almost because you do still see them but we could be witnessing the tail end of the instrument’s impact. I’d love to see bands today bring back the organ.

On the other hand, Buddy Guy was born to play the guitar - to quote his own song. I think that is true. However, he does not play the way your guitar teacher will tell you to play. What does that mean? It means he just plays the guitar. He doesn’t study it. He doesn’t analyze it. He plays the guitar. Guy’s playing has been a huge influence on Rock’s elite but many just don’t get it unless they see the man play live. You cannot capture Buddy Guy on a recording. It’s just not the same. His performances should not be repeated. They should not be recorded. They should be experienced. You need to be there when he walks out into the crowd, and this could not have been truer than at Ravinia the other night.

I don’t want to go off on a tangent here, but go see more live music. Before music turns into a complete corporate clown show, go see more live music. Live music has so many benefits. Musicians pay their bills nowadays largely in part by playing live. Free downloads killed CD sales. We need to support these artists. Maybe the decay of integrity can be slowed down or even repaired if we did this. Go see more live music.

Artists too are to blame. They need to be real. That’s why the music of some people lasts forever. Formulas are for scientists, not musicians. Just be yourself and make some music. Be like Buddy Guy. I do not mean imitation. Just be real.

Guy’s set was amazing. You will never see the same show twice. He starts one song and may finish it or he may jump to anther song. The band needs to be on their toes. I am sure they rehearse most of that but I am sure a huge part of rehearsal is learning how to follow Buddy’s lead. The Blues as a musical form has always involved a lot of improvisation. You actually get to hear music at its point of creation. You can’t rehearse that part of the process, the creation. To witness this is a gift to you from the artist. This leads me back to the reasons to go see live music. It’s like gift exchange. They give you the music. You go see them so they can pay their bills. It’s good for the economy. Go see more live music.

Published in In Concert

Victory Gardens Theater announces the lineup for the 2017 IGNITION Festival of New Plays, including Tuvaluor The Saddest Song by Antoinette Nwandu; This Land Was Made by Tori Sampson; Spin Moves by Ken Weitzman; Tell Them I'm Still Young by Julia Doolittle; Wolf Play by Hansol Jung; and Suspension by Kristiana Rae Colón. The 2017 Festival runs August 4-6, 2017 at Victory Gardens Theater, located at 2433 N Lincoln Avenue. All readings will be free and open to the public, though a reservation is encouraged. For more information or to RSVP, visit www.victorygardens.org/ignition or call the Victory Gardens Box Office at 773.871.3000.
 
INGITION’s six selected plays will be presented in a festival of readings and will be directed by leading artists from Chicago. Following the readings, any number of the plays may be selected for intensive workshops during Victory Gardens Theater’s 2017-18 season, and Victory Gardens may produce these plays in an upcoming season.
 
“At Victory Gardens,​we bridge Chicago communities through innovative and challenging new plays by giving playwrights the time and space to develop their work. We are thrilled to welcome these six remarkable and unique voices in the American theater to our IGNITION Festival,” comments Artistic Director Chay Yew. “These playwrights not only reflects the challenges in our current political climate, but push us to imagine a greater future.”
 
"This year’s lineup exemplifies the current political and cultural zeitgeist of our city and country: a young girl’s journey to self-empowerment, a movement towards a revolution, the role basketball plays in international peace, how to recover from the loss of a child, America’s role in Korean adoptions, and the ancestral power of #blackgirlmagic. Come experience these new plays and hear what they have to say about the world in which we live," remarks Director of New play Development Isaac Gomez.  
 
The 2017 Lineup Includes:
 
Friday, August 4, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Tuvalu, or The Saddest Song by Antoinette Nwandu
It is Los Angeles in the mid-nineties, and Jackie-girl is at a crossroads. This lyrical and powerful coming of age story with a soundtrack asks how the girls whose mothers’ lives have been tainted by abuse, violence, poverty and shame ever grow into healthy and empowered women. 
 
About Antoinette Nwandu
Antoinette Nwandu is a New York-based playwright via Los Angeles. Her play Pass Over is currently receiving its World Premiere production at Steppenwolf in June 2017, and her play Breach will receive a World Premiere at Victory Gardens in February 2018. She is currently under commission from Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles. Antoinette’s plays have been supported by the Cherry Lane Mentor Project (mentor: Katori Hall), Kennedy Center, Page73, Ars Nova, PlayPenn, Space on Ryder Farm, Southern Rep, The Flea, Naked Angels, Fire This Time, and The Movement Theater Company. Honors include a spot on the 2016 Kilroys list, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, the Negro Ensemble Company’s Douglas Turner Ward Prize, and a Literary Fellowship at the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference. Antoinette is an alum of the Ars Nova Play Group, the Naked Angels Issues PlayLab, and Dramatists Guild Fellowship. Additional honors include being named a Ruby Prize finalist, PONY Fellowship finalist, Page73 Fellowship finalist, NBT’s I Am Soul Fellowship finalist, and two-time Princess Grace Award semi-finalist. Education: Harvard, The University of Edinburgh, Tisch School of the Arts.
 
IGNITION Opening Night Kick-Off at 9:30 p.m.
Victory Gardens Theater Lobby
Stick around for this opening night celebration with a live DJ, delicious appetizers, and complimentary drinks as we raise a glass to kick off our IGNITION Festival of New Plays.
 
Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.
This Land Was Made by Tori Sampson
Oakland in 1967 was a powder keg of social activism about to boil over into radical action that would soon change how the whole country engaged in politics. For the patrons of Miss Trish’s Bar, however, these ain’t nothing but talking points—that is, until the full seductive and explosive force of the revolution walks through the door.
 
About Tori Sampson
Tori Sampson is a recent graduate of Yale School of Drama, where her credits include This Land Was MadeSome Bodies Travel and If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Muhfucka. Her plays have been developed at Great Plains National Theater Conference and Berkeley Repertory Theater’s The Ground Floor residency program. She holds an Honorable Mention from the 2016 Relentless Award, is the Kennedy Center’s 2016 Paula Vogel Playwright and second-place Lorraine Hansberry recipient. She is a 2017 finalist for the Alliance Theater’s Kendeda Prize. Tori’s other plays include, Cadillac Crew, Black Girl Nerd and Cottoned Like Candy. Her short play, She’s our President, will be produced by Baltimore Center Stage as part of the My America: She commission. Tori is currently working on a commission from Berkeley Repertory Theater and will spend the next year as a Jerome Fellow at The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis.  A native of Boston, Massachusetts, she holds a B.S. in sociology from Ball State University in Muncie, IN.
 
Bringing New Plays To Life at 5:00 p.m.
Panel Conversation
Richard Christiansen Theater
Victory Gardens is home to some of the richest and boldest new plays premiering across the country. In a city where audiences are hungry for new theatre work, what is the current state of new play development and its future? What are the best practices for new play collaborations? Join this timeless conversation on the new play process featuring IGNITION playwrights Antoinette Nwandu, Tori Sampson, Ken Weitzman, Julia Doolittle, Hansol Jung, and Kristiana Rae Colón.
 
Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Spin Moves by Ken Weitzman
It's 1996, the inaugural year of the WNBA, and Maja dreams of playing high school basketball - but having escaped to the U.S. from the war in Bosnia, panic attacks prevent her from playing the game she loves. That is, until a new coach appears at her high school. He helps Maja to face her fears, but his unorthodox tactics alarm Maja’s fiercely protective mother.
 
About Ken Weitzman
Ken Weitzman’s most recent play, Halftime with Don is in the midst of a 2017 National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere. Ken's previous productions include, among others, The Catch (The Denver Center Theatre Company), Fire in the Garden (Indiana Repertory Theatre), The As If Body Loop (Humana Festival), Arrangements (Atlantic Theatre Company). His devised work includes, Memorabilia (Alliance Theatre), Hominid (Out of Hand Theatre/Theatre Emory/Oerol Festival Netherlands), and Stadium 360 (Out of Hand Theatre).  Plays-in-progress include Spin Moves (New Harmony Project) and seal boy (Keen Company Playwrights Lab, The Lark’s Meeting of the Minds, (Playwrights’ Center of Minneapolis). National Awards include The L. Arnold Weissberger Award for Playwriting for Arrangements, TCG Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award for The Catch, the Fratti/Newman Political Play Contest Award for Fire in the Garden, and South Coast Repertory’s Elizabeth George Commission for an Outstanding Emerging Playwright Organizations who have commissioned Ken’s work include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Arena Stage, the Alliance Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Theatre Emory, Out of Hand Theatre, and South Coast Repertory Theatre. Ken is a Core Writer at the Playwrights Center of Minneapolis, and a former board member of The New Harmony Project. Ken received his MFA from University of California, San Diego and has taught at UCSD, Emory University, Indiana University (head of MFA in Playwriting) and, currently, at Stony Brook University.  
 
Artist Meet, Greet, & Ice Cream Social at 9:30 p.m.
Victory Gardens Theater Lobby
Hang out with the playwrights and artists while cooling off with boozy ice cream floats at this post-show artist meet & greet. 
 
Sunday, August 6, 2017 at 12:00 p.m.
Tell Them I'm Still Young by Julia Doolittle
Allen and Kay are approaching sixty-five when their only daughter is killed in a car crash. Now parents without children, the two struggle to renegotiate their identities and their marriage, as the entrance of two young people revives a painful longing for what's been lost: their family and their futures.  
 
About Julia Doolittle
Julia Doolittle is a Brooklyn-based playwright and screenwriter whose work has been developed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Rattlestick Playwright's Theatre, The Tank, Tiny Rhino, The Women's Project, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Urban Stages, and Rogue Machine Theatre. She is a 2016 recipient of the Elizabeth George Commission from South Coast Rep. Upcoming, the Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Play Festival.
 
Sunday, August 6, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.
Wolf Play by Hansol Jung
An American father un-adopts a Korean boy but just before he leaves the new house, the ex-father finds out that the new couple to whom he has “re-homed” his ex-son, is lesbian. This doesn't sit well with ex-father at all. The boy is actually not a real boy. He is a puppet. And his puppeteer is the Emcee of the evening, and spinner of the night’s tale: a lone wolf. 
 
About Hansol Jung
Hansol Jung is a playwright and director from South Korea. Productions include Cardboard Piano (Humana Festival at Actors Theater of Louisville), Among the Dead (Ma-Yi Theatre Company), and No More Sad Things (co-world premiere at Sideshow Theatre, and Boise Contemporary Theatre). Commissions from Playwrights Horizons, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Artists Repertory Theater, the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation grant with Ma-Yi Theatre and a translation of Romeo and Juliet for Play On! at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Her work has been developed at The Public Theater, Royal Court, New York Theatre Workshop, Berkeley Repertory’s Ground Floor, Sundance Theatre Lab, O’Neill Theater Center’s New Play Conference, Lark Play Development Center, Salt Lake Acting Company, Boston Court Theatre, Bushwick Starr, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Asia Society New York, and Seven Devils Playwright Conference. She is the recipient of the Page 73 Playwright Fellowship, Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Fellowship at the Lark, 2050 Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop, MacDowell Colony Artist Residency, and International Playwrights Residency at Royal Court. She has translated over thirty English musicals into Korean, including Evita, Dracula, Spamalot, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, while working on several award winning musical theatre productions as director, lyricist and translator in Seoul, South Korea. Hansol holds a Playwriting MFA from Yale School of Drama, and is a member of the Ma-Yi Theatre Writers Lab.
 
The Race Race at 5:00 p.m.
Panel Conversation
Richard Christiansen Theater
In a country so divided and polarized by topics of race, how are these conflicts reflected in the dramatic arts? What role does theater play in conversations around race and how can it begin the process of healing and understanding? Join IGNITION and Chicago-based playwrights as we begin to uncover the role race plays in creating new work. 
 
Sunday, August 6, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Suspension by Kristiana Rae Colón
On the 100th day of 45's first term, two Black teen girls stage a coup of the authoritarian regime of Climb & Succeed Charter Academy, a not-so-dystopian high school where campus security patrols the halls in riot gear and a new disciplinary code takes in-school suspension to a haunting extreme. Voltaire & Yansa, guided by a mystic teaching artist, learn to wield their ancestral magic and blackgirl badassery to combat the harrowing militarization of public education. 
 
Performances are at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Admission to all festival readings and events is free, though an RSVP is required. For more information or to RSVP, visit www.victorygardens.org/ignition/ or call the Victory Gardens Box Office at 773.871.3000.
 
For more information about Victory Gardens, visit www.victorygardens.org.  Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/victorygardens, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram at instagram.com/victorygardenstheater/

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

 
Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, announces the addition of Cry It Out, written by Molly Smith Metzler, to close its 43rd season, May 10 – June 17, 2018. The previously announced The Legend of Georgia McBride, directed by Lauren Shouse, has been re-scheduled to open the season, playing September 14 - October 22, 2017, replacing Bruce Graham’s Sanctions. 
 
Cry It Out was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville and premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in spring 2017. Northlight's production, directed by Jessica Fisch, will be the first outside of the Festival.
 
Cooped up on maternity leave and eager for conversation, Jessie invites the funny and forthright Lina for coffee in their neighboring backyards. They become fast friends, quickly bonding over their shared “new mom” experience—and arousing the interest of a wealthy neighbor hoping for a similar connection. This insightful comedy takes an honest look at the absurdities of new motherhood, the dilemma of returning to work versus staying at home, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship.
 
Molly Smith Metzler‘s plays include Elemeno PeaThe May Queen, Carve, Training Wisteria and Close Up Space (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist).  Regional Theatre: South Coast Repertory, the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Chautauqua Theater Company, Geva Theatre Center, and City Theatre Company, among others. Off-Broadway: Manhattan Theatre Club. Awards include the Lecomte du Nouy Prize from Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center National Student Playwriting Award, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s David Mark Cohen Award, and the Mark Twain Comedy Prize. Metzler is an alum of Ars Nova’s Play Group and the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages. She is currently under commission at Manhattan Theatre Club and South Coast Repertory. Television: Codes of Conduct (HBO); Casual (Hulu); Orange Is the New Black (Netflix). Metzler was educated at State University of New York Geneseo, Boston University, New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, and The Juilliard School.
  
The 2017-18 Season is now as follows:
 
THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE
By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Lauren Shouse
September 14 - October 22, 2017

A down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator has an overdrawn checking account and a baby on the way. When a drag show takes over the entertainment at the Florida Panhandle bar where he performs, he’ll also be out of a job…unless he’s willing to step into some high heels. This heartwarming, music-filled comedy celebrates the unexpected path to finding your true voice.
 
THE BOOK OF WILL
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Jessica Thebus
November 9 – December 17, 2017

William Shakespeare wrote some of the world’s most beloved plays – but without his friends, they may have been lost to history! Follow the members of Shakespeare’s own company as they cunningly navigate the production of the First Folio in 1623. They may not have any money or clear-cut rights to his work, but they’re armed with wit, humor, a deep camaraderie and a passion to preserve the plays that shaped their lives. With the help of their wives and colleagues, two actors set out not only to print a collection, but to uphold a legacy for the world.
 
SKELETON CREW
By Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Ron OJ Parson
January 25 – March 4, 2018

At the start of the Great Recession, rumors of impending closure surround one of the last auto plants in Detroit. The nation’s financial crisis gets personal as each of the workers confronts the life-altering choices they must make if their plant goes under, while the supervisor is torn between allegiances to his makeshift family of co-workers and management’s “cost-saving” demands. When pushed to the limits of survival, how far over the lines are people willing to cross?
 
The third play in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit trilogy, Skeleton Crew was named one of Time Magazine’s 10 Best Shows of the Year.
 
THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
By Martin McDonagh
Directed by BJ Jones
Featuring Kate Fry
March 15 – April 22, 2018

This Tony Award-winning dark comedy is set in the provincial Irish town of Leenane. Forty-year-old spinster Maureen Folan lives with her manipulative aging mother Mag, stuck in a caretaking relationship that has them both seething with resentment. When a romantic encounter finally sparks Maureen’s hopes for an escape from her dreary existence, Mag’s interference sets in motion a chain of events that is as tragically funny as it is terrifying.
 
CRY IT OUT
By Molly Smith Metzler
Directed by Jessica Fisch
May 10 – June 17, 2018

Cooped up on maternity leave and eager for conversation, Jessie invites the funny and forthright Lina for coffee on their neighboring patios. They become fast friends, quickly bonding over their shared “new mom” experience—and arousing the interest of a wealthy neighbor hoping for a similar connection. This insightful comedy takes an honest look at the absurdities of new motherhood, the dilemma of returning to work versus staying at home, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship.
 
Curtain times are: Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
 
Subscriptions to the 2017-18 Northlight Season are available through the box office, 9501 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie, by phone at 847.673.6300 or online at northlight.org. With its wide range of ticket prices, discounted subscription packages and complimentary parking, Northlight remains of one of the best theatrical values in Chicagoland. 
 
Subscriptions range in price from $99-$250.  A limited number of season subscriptions for the Opening Night performances (also includes a reception with the cast) are available for $325, subject to availability.  Northlight subscribers will have the first chance to purchase additional tickets before they go on sale to the general public. For more information, visit northlight.org.
 
Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.
 
Now in its 42nd season, the organization has mounted over 200 productions, including nearly 40 world premieres. Northlight has earned 198 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 34 Awards. As one of the area’s premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality.
 
Northlight is supported in part by generous contributions from Allstate Insurance; the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; Robert & Isabelle Bass Foundation; BMO Harris Bank; Henrietta Lange Burk Fund; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; The Chicago Community Trust; ComEd, An Exelon Company; The Davee Foundation; Edgerton Foundation for New American Plays Award; Evanston Community Foundation; Full Circle Foundation; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Kirkland & Ellis Foundation; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Melvoin Award for Playwriting; Modestus Bauer Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Niles Township; The Offield Family Foundation; The Pauls Foundation; Room & Board; Sanborn Family Foundation; Dr. Scholl Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; The Sullivan Family Foundation; and Tom Stringer Design Partners.
 

 

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Red Theater Chicago announces the start of their 6th season with their upcoming production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Jeremy Aluma. Performances run August 15 through September 16, 2017 at Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613.


THE PLAY
How does one pursue the “American Dream” in a country that refuses to offer opportunity indiscriminately? That is the question at the heart of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a flashy American satire set in the professional entertainment wrestling world. We follow Macedonio Guerra, an excellent Puerto Rican wrestler, as he rises from the bottom of the pecking order. In this interactive physical comedy, Mace talks directly to the audience as fans in his arena, drawing the viewer into the struggle, joy, and heart of the story. The play dissects race, xenophobia, ego, and our moral compass – topics even more relevant now than when it premiered eight years ago. Winner of the 2011 Obie Award for Best New American Play, a 2009 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, and the 2008 National Latino Playwriting Award.


CALENDAR LISTING
WHO: Red Theater Chicago
WHAT: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Jeremy Aluma.
WHERE: Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
WHEN:
Friday, August 18 at 8pm (press opening)
Saturday, August 19 at 8pm 
Sunday, August 20 at 4pm 
Thursday, August 24 at 8pm
Friday, August 25 at 8pm
Saturday, August 26 at 8pm 
Sunday, August 27 at 4pm (touch tour)
Monday, August 28 at 8pm (captions)
Thursday, August 31 at 8pm (captions)
Friday, September 1 at 8pm
Saturday, September 2 at 8pm 
Sunday, September 3 at 4pm 
Thursday, September 7 at 8pm
Friday, September 8 at 8pm
Saturday, September 9 at 8pm 
Sunday, September 10 at 8pm (understudy show)
Thursday, September 14 at 8pm
Friday, September 15 at 8pm
Saturday, September 16 at 8pm (closing)


TICKETS: Tickets go on sale online July 24, 2017 at redtheater.org

TICKETS, DATES & INFORMATION
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 4:00 PM August 15, through September 16, 2017, with an additional Monday performance on August 28 with captions. Captions will also be provided on Thursday, August 31 at 8:00 PM. A touch tour will be offered on Sunday, August 27 at 4:00 PM. Tickets go on sale online July 24, 2017 at redtheater.org. **Previews are Tuesday, August 15 through Thursday, August 17 at 8:00 PM. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will be performed at Strawdog Theatre’s new home at 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL 60613. The theater is fully accessible and CTA accessible via the Irving Park Brown Line train or the #11 Lincoln bus.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

If you saw "The Gin Game", a timely play about the coming together of two lonely but feisty seniors at a run-down nursing home, when you were younger - you should see it again now at Drury Lane. 

John Reeger and Paula Scrofano, a long-time married couple who met at Northwestern University and raised a family while carving out distinguished theatrical reputations for themselves, play these roles with gusto and finesse. 

Taking on the roles of Weller Martin and Fonsia Dorsey, like other great acting couples before them - Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy or Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke, John Reeger and Paula Scrofano pull out all the emotional stops to reveal the inner turmoil of seniors who have been left alone at the end of their lives to basically die in a dilapidated nursing home because they have both lost everything they own to their children or the state and are on Medicare.  

As they discuss and complain intermittently about all the problems seniors are still facing today, like poor nutrition, lack of stimulation in adult activities, and having their most precious belongings stolen, the audience sadly realizes that nothing has changed for seniors affected by catastrophic illness and the increasingly unreasonable, high costs of healthcare since "The Gin Game" first came out. 

Videographer Mike Tutaj, lights up the shabby, depressing and realistic set design by Katherine Ross with a series of beautiful and poignant slideshow type images from a variety of nursing homes that the audience can really identify with in how nursing homes are run today, especially if you are not wealthy enough to be placed in a fancier gated community.

Ross Lehman directs this very talented couple, Reeger and Scrofano, with an understanding and yet demanding pace that sets the characters on fire as their life stories come tumbling out one dealt card at a time. Over a series of gin games (often humorously played out), our characters get to know each other better and better while reluctantly revealing how their own personal tempers and foibles contributed in part to the broken relationships with their children. 

I saw the play years ago but this time, having dealt personally with the placement of four family members of different ages each with debilitating disabilities and dwindling financial resources beyond their control, I found it even more satisfying to watch. The crowd I joined at the opening was mostly between the ages of fifty and ninety-years-old and undoubtedly related to these very same, sad and lonely circumstances that are inevitable for so many senior citizens, as perhaps many younger audience members realized the same for their aging parents or grandparents. 

I can't rave enough about the fine performances by the semi-retired John Reeger and Paula Scrofano. The pair push each other’s buttons as only a real married couple can and display a sharp sense of timing and emotional flexibility rarely seen in younger actors. The couple also show off their fine comedic mastery.  

I highly recommend this thought provoking, totally timeless and relevant production in which Reeger and Scrofano use every single word, every gesture to brilliantly drive home the message that senior citizens are every bit as sharp and full of emotional and physical needs for fulfillment and daily entertainment as their younger counterparts.

This is a darkly funny and meaningful production the entire family young and old should see together, if only to wake up and realize we all will be old someday, and, if we don't make changes to preserve and increase the coverage of Medicare and Medicaid, we are dooming ourselves and our children to retirements that look more like "jails for those who have lived too long" instead of clean and comfortable homes to retire in. 

"The Gin Game" is being performed at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook through August 13th. For more information visit www.drurylanetheatre.com.

 

Published in Theatre in Review

As Chicago Tap Theatre embarks upon their mission to “Shuffle off to Europe” where they will join tap dance companies Tapage and Tap Olé in their home countries to perform Liason, the talented outfit impresses upon its audience yet another fantastic production in its third remount of Changes, a sci-fi adventure set to the music of the late, great David Bowie. In reverence to 1940’s science fiction, seemingly with pages from the old Flash Gordon serials put in play, we get a nasty trio of futuristic villains who have made captive a host of dreamy angels, crippling each by removing their wings, and a hero who must set them free and may only be able to do so by teaching the imprisoned seraphs to fight back (via a tap dance-off, of course).


Artistic Director Mark Yonally’s creative vision is what makes this production such an amazing spectacle. It is visually compelling, thanks to the costume design by Emma Cullimore and its punch-packing choreography, and musically fulfilling as the music chosen behind each dance routine is wisely chosen by Music Director Kurt Schweitz to provide much impact. Kristen Uttich, well cast as the show’s hero, Jennifer Pfaff Yonally as the lead Alliange and Mark Yonally as Altego with Aimee Chase and Heather Latakas as his Henchpeople, lead a gifted ensemble in what turns out to be a pretty engaging story of good versus evil filled with touching moments of beauty, soul and hope and thrilling climaxes when powerful confrontation erupts.


Changes includes many Bowie favorites that are accompanied on strings by Molly Rife and violinist Anna Gillan, who oversee the dancers at the rear of the stage. “Life on Mars” opens the show followed by “Starman” and “Space Oddity” setting the tone for this energetic production that comes with many “wow” moments. Much of Bowie’s music is set to a house mix adding extra thump and larger-than-life tempo, of which I have to wonder was necessary, as opposed to playing the songs in their original recorded versions, my guess being the extra boost provided a clearer pocket for the dancers to perform within or perhaps may have been needed to hear the songs distinctly above the often-thunderous flurry of tap dancing. A feast for Bowie fans, the production also comprises such hits as “Under Pressure” “Changes”, “Ziggy Stardust” and other faves that will have you poking through Spotify to relive the production's many great moments upon exiting the theatre.


Chicago Tap Theatre keeps this commanding form of dance alive, and even in bloom, with one fantastic production after another, Changes being no exception. Thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end, Changes has the perfect combination of dance, music and visuals to make this retro-sci-fi rocket take off.


Changes is being performed at Stage 773 through July 16th. For tickets and/or more show information, or to find out how you can help get this talented dance company to Europe, visit ChicagoTapTheatre.com.

Published in Dance in Review

Experience one of Shakespeare’s classic romances, as First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83) presents AS YOU LIKE IT, previewing July 12, opening Saturday, July 15 at 8:15p.m.and closing August 20. Set in modern day Arden and directed by Skyler Schrempp, this delightful tale whisks audiences away to another world. During the summer season, First Folio’s productions are held outside on the grounds of the gorgeous Mayslake Peabody Estate mansion, and guests are invited to bring their picnic baskets, candelabras, blankets and chairs, and wine and cheese to enjoy the productions under the stars.

A timeless story, AS YOU LIKE IT, follows Rosalind who must disguise herself as a boy to survive in the Forest of Arden. She has little hope that she will ever meet the dashing Orlando again, but the Forest is full of surprises and unexpected visitors. When Rosalind finds the exiled Orlando hanging love poems on trees, she must keep her wits about her and her identity as secret as possible. Before long, she finds herself in the midst of one of the most complicated love triangles Shakespeare ever wrote for the stage. A story of love at first sight, AS YOU LIKE IT will leave you writing on trees and looking up at the stars.

The cast of AS YOU LIKE IT is led by Leslie Ann Sheppard as Rosalind, Nick Harazin as Orlando, Vahishta Vafadari as Celia, with Luke Daigle as Oliver, Courtney Abbott as Touchstone, Kevin McKillip as Jaques, Belinda Bremner as Duke Senior, Sarah Wisterman as Phebe, Micheal Angelo Smith as Silvius, Jim Morley as Adam, Philip Winston as Duke Frederick, Evan Michalic as Charles the Wrestler, Matthew Moore as Corin, Amanda Raquel Martinez as Amiens, and Sierra Schnack as Audrey. The ensemble includes Karly Hanna, Bailey Hayman, Robin Minkens and Jared Michael Sheldon.

The artistic team includes Scenic Designer Angela Weber Miller (Dr. Seward’s Dracula at First Folio Theatre), Lighting Designer Michael McNamara (The Turn of the Screw at First Folio); Original Music and Sound Design by Christopher Kriz (Roz and Ray at Victory Gardens Theatre), Costume Designer Mieka van der Ploeg, Properties Designer Cassandra Schillo. Stage Manager is Miranda Anderson, and Sarah West and Lina Benich serve as Assistant Stage Managers.

AS YOU LIKE IT runs Wednesdays through Sundays with 8:15pm performances each evening. First Folio is easy to get to via the East-West Tollway (I-88) or the Stevenson Expressway (I-55). Free parking is available on the grounds. Preview tickets are $23. Regular priced tickets are $29 Wednesdays and Thursdays (seniors and students are $26), and $39 on Fridays through Sundays (seniors and students are $36). $10 tickets are available for children 13 and under. For Season subscriptions and tickets, call the box office at 630.986.8067 or visit www.firstfolio.org.

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Pegasus Theatre Chicago is proud to announce MUSE 2017: Femmes Noires de la Resistance, July 13 - 23 at Pegasus’s resident home Chicago Dramatists, 773 N. Aberdeen. This year’s MUSE celebrates new works, new artists and new voices with this annual series of theatrical readings, panels and performances featuring female artists intersecting ideas, visions and artistic excellence. Tickets are $10 per performance and Festival passes ranging from $18-35, which allows for access to 2 events or unlimited MUSE events, and performances. All tickets and passes are available at PegasusTheatreChicago.com or by phone at 866.811.4111.
 
This year’s MUSE, Femmes Noires de la Resistance, focuses on black women holding their own power.  MUSE 2017 will feature storytelling duo In The Spirit, spoken word artists Surviving The Mic, Black Feminist Poetics, 3 Arts Awardee Candace Hunter, musicians K’hala Elizabeth and L11 and theatrical performances by Tasia Jones, with excerpts from the plays of Marsha Estell, Loy Webb and Kendeda Winner Tsehaye Hébert.
 
The 2017 MUSE: Femmes Noires de la Resistance, curated by Nikki Patin with Ilesa Duncan and Regina Victor, and hosted by Nikki Patin and guest host Melissa DuPrey. includes:
 
Theatre Showcase
Thursday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m.
The theatre Showcase includes theatre artists Tasia Jones and readings of new plays by Marsha Estell, Loy Webb and Kendeda winner Tsehaye Hebert.
 
Spoken Word Showcase
Friday, July 14 and July 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Featured in this spoken word showcase are Surviving the Mic and Black Feminist Poetics.
 
Storytelling with IN THE SPIRIT
Saturday, July 15 and July 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Starring Chicago’s premier storytelling duo comprised of Zahra Baker and Emily Hooper Lansana of IN THE SPIRIT. 

Music/Performance Showcase
Sunday, July 16 at 3 p.m. and Thursday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.
These two performances in MUSE 2017 include music and film showcases featuring musicians L11 and the webseries “Seeds,” and on Thursday, July 20th, 3Arts Awardee Candace Hunter (Chlee Arts) and musician K’hala Elizabeth.
 
Panel Discussion
Sunday, July 23 at 3 p.m.
The final day of MUSE 2017 includes a panel discussion focuses on black women and women of color theatre leaders. Guests and audience members will discuss the topic with artists and performers from the Festival.
 
NIKKI PATÍN, HOST/CO-CURATOR
Nikki Patín has been featured in The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, HBO's “Def Poetry Jam” and on international television and radio. A Peabody Award-winning poet, Patín has been writing, performing and educating for almost 15 years. She has taught hundreds of workshops on spoken word, body image and interpersonal violence. Recently, she addressed the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on behalf of Black women survivors of sexual violence. She holds an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. Her work can be found at www.nikkipatin.com.
 
ABOUT PEGASUS THEATRE CHICAGO
Pegasus Theatre Chicago has been a mainstay in the Chicago theater community for nearly 38 years. Its recent rebranded mission is to produce boldly imaginative theatre, champion new and authentic voices and illuminate the human journey. The theatre adheres to the core values of community engagement, social relevance, boldness, adventure and excellence.
 
Pegasus is also committed to initiating important conversations through the arts with strong community engagement and socially relevant programming, including the Young Playwrights Festival for high school-age scribes, which celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2017. Pegasus Theatre Chicago has received seventy-seven Joseph Jefferson Citations since its inception.
 
Pegasus Theatre Chicago is proud to announce MUSE 2017, July 13 - 23 at Pegasus’s resident home Chicago Dramatists, 773 N. Aberdeen. This year’s MUSE celebrates new works, new artists and new voices with this annual series of theatrical readings, panels and performances featuring female artists intersecting ideas, visions and artistic excellence. Tickets are $10 per performance and $25 for a Festival pass, which allows unlimited access to all MUSE events, and performances. All tickets and passes are available at PegasusTheatreChicago.com or by phone at 866.811.4111.

 

Published in In Concert
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