Chicago’s Akvavit Theatre is pleased to announce casting for the U.S. premiere of Rhea Leman’s wild black comedy HITLER ON THE ROOF, a play for two clowns starring Amy Gorelow and Jay Torrence. Co-directed by Co-Artistic Director Kirstin Franklin* and Associate Amber Robinson*, HITLER ON THE ROOF will play a limited engagement June 21 – July 9, 2017 at the new Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice in Chicago. Tickets will be available Friday, May 5 at www.chicagonordic.org. The press opening is Thursday, June 22 at 7:30 pm.

 

This prescient 2011 Danish play finds the Nazi propagandist Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Amy Gorelow) and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl (Jay Torrence) doomed to a perpetual afterlife in which to confront their pasts. Locked deep down inside the present day Führerbunker, the two engage in cunning feats of denial, manipulation and pure slapstick. 

 

Written during an alarming rise of Danish Nationalism in 2011, this play is a timely reminder of the consequences of selling lies as truth and propaganda as art. A favorite of audiences and critics alike, HITLER ON THE ROOF’s original production toured Denmark for two years with the company Folketeatret, winning the prestigious Reumert award for Best Leading Actress. The English language version is scheduled to tour Europe in 2017.

 

The production team for HITLER ON THE ROOF includes: Chad Eric Bergman* (set design), Piper Hubbell Robinson (costume design), Emma Deane (lighting design), Nigel Harsch* (sound designer), Letitia Guillaud (properties design), Madelyn Loehr (production manager), Mark Litwicki* (technical director), Bernadette Hagen (technician) and Margaret Bystrek (stage manager).

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

 

Title: HITLER ON THE ROOF

Playwright: Rhea Leman

Directors: Co-Artistic Director Kirstin Franklin* and Associate Amber Robinson*

Cast: Amy Gorelow (Dr. Joseph Goebbels) and Jay Torrence (Leni Reifenstahl).

 

Location: Strawdog Theatre Company,1802 W. Berenice, Chicago

Dates: Preview: Wednesday, June 21 a 7:30 pm

Regular run: Friday, June 23 – Sunday, July 9, 2017

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 4 pm. 

Tickets: Previews: $10. Regular Run: $25. Students/seniors/industry $15. Tickets will be available Friday, May 5 at www.chicagonordic.org.

 

*Denotes Akvavit Theatre company members.

 

Artist Biographies

 

Rhea Leman (Playwright) was born and raised in New York City where she studied dance and theater before moving to Denmark in 1981. There, she formed and directed her theater company, Teater Tango until 1998. Since then, she has been working as an independent playwright, screenwriter as well as theater, radio and TV director. Her most recent awards include; The Rosenbergs, chosen as best opera of 2015 by CphCulture, in 2014 the Danish Committee for the Performing Arts awarded her for her direction of Tomas Lagermand’s play, The Story Behind the Wall and in 2013 she received the Allen Prize from the Danish Screen and Stage writers Guild for “excellent dramatic writing.” The Reumert Committee nominated Leman for best playwright of 2013 for her play about the global financial crisis, Gorilla. In 2003, for a four-year period, Leman was appointed by the Danish Cultural Minister as the chairwoman of The Danish Theater Council and as a member of The Danish Arts Council. In 2009, Leman formed Dramafronten, a platform for new play development and presentation and since then she has worked as artistic director towards promoting and producing new Danish plays in new ways and new places. Her own dramatic writings concentrate on very serious subjects presented in humoristic ways. 

 

Kirstin Franklin (Co-Director) has collaborated with many theaters across the country including: The Guthrie, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Asolo Rep, Pangea World Theatre, NY Fringe, Northlight, Urbanite and Raven Theatre, among others. Joining Akvavit in 2011, Kirstin's credits with the company include: Red and Green, Kokkola, Autumn Dream, Mishap!, Blue Planet and Nothing of Me, along with many staged readings. In her spare time Kirstin teaches theatre and acting at various colleges across Chicago. Originally from Colorado, Kirstin holds a BA from St. Olaf College and an MFA in acting from the FSU Asolo/Conservatory.

 

Amber Robinson (Co-Director) is a director, actor and devisor, and a member of TUTA Theatre in addition to Akvavit. Most recently, Amber performed in New York at Roundabout and The Signature Theater with Emma Stanton's award-winning play No Candy. In Chicago, Amber has worked with many storefront companies including Strange Tree, Forks & Hope, Strawdog, Collaboraction, Redmoon and Emerald City, as well as directing several projects for Grey Ghost Theatre, of which she is a co-founder. Amber is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and the Moscow Art Theatre's American Studio.

 

Amy Gorelow’s (Dr. Joseph Goebbels) favorite roles include Ranevskaya (The Cherry Orchard), Margherita (Low Pay? Don’t Pay), Bottom (Midsummer), Peg (Crashing With Flamingos), Witch 2 (Macbeth), Lydia (All My Sons), Katherine of Aragon (Six Dead Queens), Dottore (Lust, Lies, and Marriage), Tragedian/Gertrude (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead), Norma (Norma and the Maniac) and Masha (The Seagull). The theatres where she has worked include Metropolis, the Towle, Eclectic, Filament, Teatro Luna, Bailiwick and Piccolo, where she is a member. She has been a pirate clown at Navy Pier, and her bass-playing may be heard in several productions and podcasts. www.amygorelow.com.

 

Jay Torrence (Leni Reifenstahl) is a writer/performer/director and a founding member of The Ruffians. His playwriting and performance credits include Ivywild, Burning Bluebeard and Roustabout: The Great Circus Train Wreck (Awarded the John W. Schmid After Dark Award for Outstanding New Work and the After Dark Award for Outstanding Production). Jay has had the privilege to perform with 500 Clown, The Hypocrites, Redmoon, Theater Oobleck and The Neo-Futurists. where he was an ensemble member for twelve years and the former Artistic Director. He was a recipient of an Orgie Award for artistic direction and was named one of the “Top 50 Players in Chicago Theatre” by Newcity. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of British Columbia and studied under master clown Philippe Gaulier. 

 

About Akvavit Theatre

 

Akvavit Theatre is haunted by Nordic visions: deep forests and ice-blue seas, the patience of the glacier, the sudden fury of the volcano, the arctic light and silence. Seeking the universal through the voices of contemporary Nordic playwrights, Akvavit Theatre is a kind of homecoming, a connecting back to the lands whose people and cultures have for generations been a part of the great prairies of North America that we call home. And like our namesake beverage, Akvavit brings a “strong spirit” to the work that we produce. Skål, Skál, Kippis! For additional information, visit www.chicagonordic.org

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Following hit performances of I Am My Own Wife and The Temperamentals, About Face Theatre concludes its 2016-17 Season with the Chicago premiere of Pulitzer Prize nominee Tanya Barfield’s contemporary love story BRIGHT HALF LIFE, directed by AFT Artistic Associate Keira Fromm, playing May 26 – July 1, 2017 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at aboutfacetheatre.com, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at Theater Wit Box Office. 

 

BRIGHT HALF LIFE will feature AFT Artistic Associate Elizabeth Ledo and Patrese McClain.

 

Off-Broadway hit and winner of the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Best Play, BRIGHT HALF LIFE charts the complexity of commitment, relationships, and marriage as it follows the ups and downs of a modern lesbian couple. Their story is told through a series of fast-moving, fragmented memories – from elevator rides as strangers to steamy workplace romances to heartache to building a family.

 

“I’m excited to feature Tanya Barfield’s work, a fresh counterpoint to this season’s historical pieces,” comments Artistic Director Andrew Volkoff. “Tanya’s language is muscular and sparkles, but it was her inventive structure that captured me.  She’s created a verbal tilt-a-whirl for the audience, echoing the ins and outs of every modern relationship that I think will speak to everyone who’s ever been in love.” 

 

The production team for BRIGHT HALF LIFE includes: AFT Artistic Associate William Boles (scenic design), Melissa Ng (costume design), Chris Binder (lighting design), Christopher Kriz (sound design) and Helen Lattyak (stage manager).

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

 

Title: BRIGHT HALF LIFE

Playwright: Tanya Barfield

Director: AFT Artistic Associate Keira Fromm

Cast: Elizabeth Ledo (Erica) and Patrese McClain (Vicky).

 

Location: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Friday, May 26 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 27 at 7:30pm and Sunday, May 28 at 3 pm

Regular run: Friday, June 2 – Saturday, July 1, 2017

Curtain Times: Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Wednesday, May 31; there will be an added 3 pm performance on Saturday, July 1 at 3 pm. 

Tickets: Previews: $20 adults, $10 students and seniors. Regular run: $40 adults, $20 students and seniors. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are currently available at aboutfacetheatre.com, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at Theater Wit Box Office.

 

Artist Biographies

 

Tanya Barfield’s (Playwright) Bright Half Life was the winner of the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Drama. Her play Blue Door (South Coast Rep, Playwrights Horizons) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and The Call premiered at Playwrights Horizons in co-production with Primary Stages and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Tanya wrote the book for the Theatreworks/USA children’s musical, Civil War: The First Black Regiment, which toured public schools regionally. Other work includes: Feast (co-writer, Young Vic/Royal Court) and Of Equal Measure (Center Theatre Group), Chat (New Dramatists’ Playtime Festival), The Quick (New York Stage & Film). Short plays include: Medallion (WP Theater/Antigone Project), Foul Play (Royal Court Theatre, Cultural Center of Brazil), The Wolves and Wanting North (Guthrie Theatre Lab, named Best 10-Minute Play of 2003).  A recipient of a Lilly Award, the inaugural Lilly Award Commission and a Helen Merrill Award, Tanya is a proud alumna of New Dramatists and a member of The Dramatist Guild Council.

 

Keira Fromm (Director) is a Jeff Award nominated director, a casting director and a teacher based out of Chicago. Favorite recent directing credits include: How the World Began (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble,) A Kid Like Jake (About Face Theatre), Luce (Next Theatre), Charles Ives Take Me Home (Strawdog), The How and the Why (TimeLine Theatre), Broadsword (Gift Theatre) and Fallow (Steep Theatre). Keira is an Artistic Associate with About Face Theatre. She received her MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University and is a proud member of SDC. She is also a frequent guest director at DePaul as well as the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Keira currently directed the well-received Chicago premiere of The Columnist with American Blues Theater.  

 

About Face Theatre (Andrew Volkoff, Artistic Director) creates exceptional, innovative, and adventurous theatre and educational programming that advances the national dialogue on sexual and gender identity, and challenges and entertains audiences in Chicago and beyond.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Kaye Winks has been a token black for as long as she can remember.

 

In her new one-woman show Token, Winks shares her hilarious and often cringe worthy adventures in being that lone black person in a world of white.

 

Through her colorful portrayals of family, friends, strangers and foes, Winks offers a comic and ironic look at what it's like to be the token black person.

 

But white people aren't her only target. Winks also casts a smart, funny and sometimes sobering lens on class clashes within the black community.

 

"Token is unapologetically un-PC, but it's fair in its political incorrectness because I pick on everyone equally," says Winks. "The show actually brings people together by 'telling it like it is.'"

 

Don't miss Winks' hilarious, 60-minute takedown of the race discussion through the voices and stories of 30 characters we've all met at some point in our lives.

 

Token, directed by Schoen Smith, will be presented Fridays May 19-June 9, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at Judy's Beat Lounge at the Second City Training Center, 230 W. North Avenue, 2nd Floor, Chicago. 

 

Tickets are $13. For tickets and information, visit secondcity.com or call

(312) 337-3992.

 

Token information

 

Kaye Winks has been a token black since the day she was born in Naperville, Illinois to black Republicans. Today she is a stage and screen actress, writer, part-time funny person and full-time cat person. Winks trained at the Moscow Art Theater's Stanislavsky School in association with the American Repertory Theater and Harvard University. Her improv training was at the Second City Chicago. She also studied physical comedy and clown with world-renowned French master teacher, Philippe Gaulier. She has been featured in national commercial and print campaigns for Honda, Sony and Hot Pockets among others. She has recently returned to Chicago following a six-year stint in LA.

 

Schoen Smith (director) is an actress, writer, producer and director. In March, she directed a sold-out, one-night only performance of Token as part of Collaboraction Theatre Company's Gender Breakdown Lounge series. She also premiered her original spoken word piece Hands Up at Collaboraction's 2016 PEACEBOOK Festival. Before moving to Chicago, she was Producing Director for DOMA Theatre Company in Los Angeles, and also produced the hit play Elevator in the inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival. She is a co-producer on the award-winning documentary about homeless youth, American Street Kid, which won Best Social Impact Film at the Hollywood Film Festival and People's Choice Award and Power in Film Award at The Beloit International Film Festival this year. She is the Director of Development for Collaboraction and the VP of Development for Venture Hill Entertainment, LLC.

 

For more, visit kayewinks.com or follow Winks on Twitter and Instagram: @kayewinks #tokenblack.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Victory Gardens Theater announces the lineup for the Up Close & Personal Series, running April 27 – June 4, 2017. The Up Close and Personal Series includes A Little Bit Not Normal, written and performed by Arlene Malinowski; St. Jude, written and performed by Ensemble Playwright Luis Alfaro; and Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, written and performed by Brian Quijada. Shows in the Up Close & Personal Series will run in rotating repertory in the Richard Christiansen Theater at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.  

 

Individual tickets to each production are $20, or a three show package, including a ticket to each production, is $40. Both are available through the box office at 773.871.3000 or online. With every ticket purchased, Victory Gardens Theater will provide one free ticket to a Chicago Public School student. For a complete performance schedule or to purchase tickets, visit www.victorygardens.org.

 

"We're thrilled to welcome Luis, Arlene and Brian back to Victory Gardens for our Up Close & Personal series this spring. Each of these remarkably personal stories are written and performed with humor, poetry and courage,” comments Artistic Director Chay Yew. “Now, for six weeks only, these national and Chicago artists will share their most intimate struggles and triumphs of family, hidden disabilities and immigration through performance."

 

About the Up Close & Personal Series

All performances take place upstairs at Victory Gardens in the Richard Christiansen Theatre. A calendar of the performance schedule can be viewed online at www.victorygardens.org.

 

A Little Bit Not Normal

Written and Performed by Arlene Malinowski

Directed by Lisa Portes

3:00 pm: April 29; 13, 14, 27(ASL Interpreted)

7:30 pm: April 30; May 3, 5, 6, 10, 12, 20 (ASL Interpreted), 21

 

 

With her trademark humor, Arlene confronts her own state of mind when Depression walks into her kitchen, lights a cigarette, and makes himself at home. A Little Bit Not Normal is a serious comedy about depression and naming it, claiming it, and standing to be counted. It’s the journey of a love story tested and the secrets we keep about crazy.

 

St. Jude

Written and Performed by Ensemble Playwright Luis Alfaro

3:00 pm: May 21, 28, June 4

7:30 pm: May 17, 18, 25, 27; June 1, 2, 3

 

 

Award-winning Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Ensemble member Luis Alfaro (Mojada, Oedipus el Rey) returns to Chicago to perform a new version of his emotionally charged solo work. St. Jude takes us on a personal and powerful journey with Luis as he learns of his father’s stroke and is summoned home to the California Central Valley of his childhood. As his family gathers, Alfaro conjures memories of his youth; from picking grapes, to gospel-infused big tent revivals, from family celebrations, to running away from home. In Alfaro’s words, St. Jude takes us from “who I am” to “who I was.”

 

Where Did We Sit on the Bus?

Written and performed by Brian Quijada

Directed by Chay Yew

10:00 am: May 3, 5, 10, 12, 19

3:00 pm: April 30; May 6, 20; June 2, 3

7:30 pm: April 27, 28 29; May 4, 11, 13, 24, 26, 28, 31, June 4

 

 

The multi-2016 Jeff Award winner Where Did We Sit on the Bus? is an electric one-man show pulsing with Latin rhythms, rap, hip-hop, spoken word, and live looping. During a third grade lesson on the Civil Rights movement and Rosa Parks, a Latino boy raises his hand to ask, “Where did we sit on the bus?” and his teacher can’t answer the question. This thrilling autobiographical production examines what it means to be an artist and a son of Latino immigrants through the eyes of a teenager.

 

Production Sponsor: The Wallace Foundation

 

About Victory Gardens Theater

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Erica Daniels, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals.  Victory Gardens Theater is committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, set forth by Dennis Začek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.

 

Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theater work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.  

 

Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Začek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 259-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.

 

Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwrights include Luis Alfaro, Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Ike Holter, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Tanya Saracho and Laura Schellhardt. Each playwright has a seven-year residency at Victory Gardens Theater.

 

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/

 

Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from The Wallace Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Shubert Foundation, The REAM Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Allstate Insurance, Polk Bros. Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Orli Staley Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding is provided by: Abbot Downing & Wells Fargo, Alliance Bernstein, The Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Exelon, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, Illinois Arts Council, Illinois Tool Works, Italian Village Restaurants, Mayer Brown LLP, The McVay Foundation, LLP, The Prince Charitable Trusts, The Saints, Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Southwest Airlines, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Whole Foods Market, and Wrightwood Neighbors Conservation Association.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Chicago Theatre Workshop, in association with Fletcher Jones Volkswagen, is proud to announce the regional premiere of Little Miss Sunshine, May 11 – June 4, at The Edge Theatre, 5451 N. Broadway. Little Miss Sunshine, music and lyrics by James Lapine and book by William Finn, is directed and choreographed by Maggie Portman and music directed by Nick Sula.  Previews are Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 13 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 14 at 3 p.m. Opening Night is Sunday, May 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for previews and $32.50 – $42.50 for the regular run. Tickets are on sale now at www.chicagotheatreworkshop.org or by calling 773.999.9541.

 

From the Tony Award-winning team of James Lapine (Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George) and William Finn (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) comes Little Miss Sunshine, a musical comedy about one modern family's unexpected route to brighter days. Based on the Academy Award-winning film by Michael Arndt, Chicago Theatre Workshop will be the first company in the United States to present the show since its off-Broadway run at New York's Second Stage Theater.

 

The Hoover family has seen better days. Richard, the father, is a floundering motivational speaker, Grandpa's been kicked out of his retirement home and Uncle Frank's been dumped by his boyfriend. Moody teenager, Dwayne, has taken a vow of silence, and overextended mom, Sheryl, can do little more than slap on a smile. But, when the youngest Hoover... energetic Olive, enters a regional children's beauty pageant, the family thinks that their luck could change and embarks on a cross-country trek, chasing the coveted title of "Little Miss Sunshine.”

 

The cast of Little Miss Sunshine includes; Greg Foster as “Richard,” Sharyon Culberson as “Sheryl,” Ken Rubenstein as “Grandpa,” Kyle Klein II as “Dwane,” George Keating as “Uncle Frank,” David Besky as “Larry,” Jennifer Ledesma as “Linda,” Connor Baty as “Josh,” Chayce Davis as “Chelsea,” Jersie Joniak as “Tracee,” Tatum Pearlman as “Deborah” and introducing Sophie Kaegi as “Olive Hoover.”

 

The design team includes; Robert Groth and Jenniffer Thusing (set designers), Jennifer Kules and Collin Helou (lighting designers), Martha Shuford (costume designer) Robert Hornbostel (sound designer), Jessica McCoy (production stage manager) Charissa Armon (casting director) Maggie Portman (director and choreographer), Nick Sula (musical director) and Tom Mullen (artistic director).

 

About Chicago Theater Workshop

Chicago Theatre Workshop, (CTW) is a new AEA development theatre company in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, CTW produces work that challenges our perception of art and music. With a hybrid development and production model, CTW acts as an incubator for emerging talent and their work and helps provide the resources needed for commercial success. CTW is not solely a musical theatre company. CTW produces work where music plays an integral part of the fabric of each play, play with music or performance piece. In addition artists’ work also reaches global audiences through a digital platform where select productions are made available for streaming.

 

Chicago Theatre Workshop is proud to announce that its second production of the season, Creatives will appear in the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, performing at the prestigious Pleasance Theatre of Scotland.

 

 

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Due to extreme box office demand, Teatro Vista has added seats, more shows and a one-week extension for La Havana Madrid, Sandra Delgado's world premiere, live theater experience that reimagines the long-gone Caribbean nightclub that drew throngs of newly-arrived Latinos to Chicago's north side in the 1960's.  

 

Originally running through May 21, La Havana Madrid will now play through May 28 at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted, Chicago.

Following its extended run at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre, La Havana Madrid will be presented at The Miracle Center, 2311 N. Pulaski Rd. in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, June 2-11, 2017 through the company's new program TEATRO VISTA, TEATRO VECINO (Spanish for "neighbor).

 

New seats for performances through May 28 go on sale Monday, April 24 at 11 a.m. Tickets are $15-$50. For tickets and information, visit Steppenwolf.org, teatrovista.org or call (312) 335-1650.

 

The updated performance schedule is:

 

Friday and Saturday, April 21 and 22 at 8 p.m.

 

Sunday, April 23 at 4 p.m.

 

Thursday through Saturday, April 27-29 at 8 p.m.

 

Sunday, April 30 at 4 p.m.

 

Wednesday* through Saturday, May 3-6 at 8 p.m.

 

Sunday, May 7 at 4 p.m.

 

Wednesday through Friday, May 10-12 at 8 p.m.

 

No show Saturday, May 13

 

Sunday, May 14 at 4 p.m.

 

Wednesday though Saturday, May 17-20 at 8 p.m.

 

Sunday, May 21 at 4 p.m.

 

Thursday and Friday, May 25 and 26 at 8 p.m.

 

Saturday, May 27 at 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

 

Sunday, May 28 at 4 p.m.

 

*Note: On Wednesday, May 3, the role of La Havana Madrid will be played by Michelle J. Rodriguez, singer, songwriter and band leader of MICHA.

 

 

About La Havana Madrid

 

Step back in time to 1960's Chicago and into La Havana Madrid, the long-gone Caribbean nightclub that drew throngs of newly-arrived Latinos to the city's north side. A vibrant musical venue, La Havana Madrid became a cultural hub for these new Chicagoans. Inspired by real life stories of those who flocked to the club to celebrate and remember, this intimate recreation of the lively 1960's music club features live music and immerses you in the pulsing sounds of that decade from the mambo to the new sound of salsa.

                                               

La Havana Madrid is directed by Teatro Vista ensemble member Cheryl Lynn Bruce, who will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of Chicago Theatres on May 22.

 

In addition to conceiving and writing the play, Sandra Delgado also plays the title role of La Havana Madrid, a mystical woman who conjures vibrant songs and true stories that bring life back to the fabled North side nightclub. 

 

Chicago comedian and producer Mike Oquendo portrays Tony Quintana, the one-time owner of La Havana Madrid and host of the 1960s Chicago radio show "Tony's Latin A-Go-Go." 

 

Legendary Colombian-American musician Roberto "Carpacho" Marin, joined by his band of 30 years, Carpacho y Su Super Combo, perform live at every show. In fact, Carpacho's own story is one of the play's inspiring true vignettes. With Delgado as lead singer, Carpacho y Su Super Combo chronicles the history of Caribbean Latino music, live, from mambo to the birth of salsa. 

 

Rounding out the cast as Cuban, Colombian, Caribbean and Puerto Rican patrons, staff and musicians who all met, danced, loved and lost at La Havana Madrid are Teatro Vista ensemble members Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, Tommy Rivera-Vega and Marvin Quijada, and, in their Teatro Vista debuts, Donovan Diaz, Phoebe González and Krystal Ortiz.

The design team that has crafted an intimate, immersive recreation of a lively 1960s music club - complete with cabaret seating, a bar, a dance floor and a small stage for the live band - are Ashley Woods (set), Elsa Hiltner (costumes),Heather Sparling (lights), Misha Fiksel (sound), Liviu Pasare (projections and video design) and William Carlos Angulo (choreography).

 

Following its run at Steppenwolf, Teatro Vista will present La Havana Madrid at The Miracle Center, 2311 N. Pulaski Rd., in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Performances are June 2-4 and June 9-11: Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 4 p.m. All tickets are $20. For tickets and information, visit teatrovista.org.

The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance is Production Sponsor of La Havana Madrid. Delgado received support from The Chicago Community Trust, a 2015 Joyce Award and a 3Arts 3AP Project Grant to support the development of La Havana Madrid. She developed the script as a member of the 2015-16 Playwright's Unit at Goodman Theatre. The Miracle Center residency is funded by The Chicago Community Trust and is part of Teatro Vista's new program TEATRO VISTA, TEATRO VECINO (Spanish for "neighbor).

               

 

Some history about La Havana Madrid

In the late 1950's and throughout the 1960's, Latinos from Caribbean countries such as Puerto Rico and Cuba settled all along Chicago's lakefront, from North Avenue to Devon.

Although from different countries, music brought them together. Their shared rhythms -  African rhythms - became the guaguanco, the mambo and the merengue. Now in the United States, these rhythms merged with traditional big band sounds and eventually became salsa. 

On the North side of Chicago, a handful of Latino music clubs opened up: Coco Loco on Lincoln Avenue, The Mirror Lounge on North Avenue and La Havana Madrid on Belmont and Sheffield, in the second floor space now occupied by Milio's Hair Studio. While the history of La Havana Madrid may be fuzzy, what is known is Cubans opened it in the early 1960's and the club became a busy melting pot for newly arrived Latinos in Chicago. It's believed La Havana Madrid closed in the mid-1970's.

 

 

About Teatro Vista

 

Teatro Vista (teatrovista.org) produces, develops and commissions plays that explore the wealth and variety of the human experience from a Latinx perspective. The company provides work and professional advancement opportunities for Latinx theatre artists, with special emphasis on the company's ensemble members, and seeks to enhance the curricular goals of Chicago students through theatre. 

 

Teatro Vista was recently celebrated as one of "Chicago's Cultural Leaders" by the Arts & Business Council of Chicago and received the League of Chicago Theatre's Artistic Leadership Award.                                                                        

Teatro Vista's primary focus is producing new works by Latinx theatre artists and presenting classic plays featuring artists of color. Its artistic vision is shaped by the company's ensemble members, a group of multi-generational, multi-ethnic and multi-disciplinary artists. They inform Teatro Vista's artistic aesthetic by devising original works as well as by selecting plays with themes that are engaging and relevant to Chicago's diverse population.

 

Teatro Vista founded in 1990 by Edward Torres and Henry Godinez. As Teatro Vista's first Artistic Director, Godinez guided the company during the formative years. He helped stage successful productions and establish vital relationships with other theatre companies and artists. When Godinez stepped down, Torres was appointed Artistic Director. Under Torres' direction, Teatro Vista used the stage to engage, connect and challenge audience members using the company's mission as his guide. In 2012, Torres moved to New York and the Board of Directors promoted longtime Associate Artistic Director Ricardo Gutiérrez to the position of Executive Artistic Director.  

 

In 2017, Sylvia Hevia joined Teatro Vista as Managing and Development Director. Previously, Hevia was Director of Marketing and Development of the International Latino Cultural Center and had her own multicultural event production company dedicated to bringing Latinx cultural events, performances and recording artists to Chicago.

 

Teatro Vista ensemble includes Charín Álvarez, Max Arciniega, Desmín Borges, Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Ramón Camín, Ivonne Coll, Laura Dahl, Sandra Delgado, Liza Fernández, Khanisha Foster, Isaac Gomez, Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, Ricardo Gutiérrez, Erik Juárez, Jon Lyon, Sandra Márquez, Eddie Martinez, J. Salomé Martinez Jr., Joe Minoso, Ayssette Muñoz, Christina Nieves, Marvin Quijada, Tommy Rivera-Vega, Gabriel Ruíz, Nate Santana, Cecilia Suarez and co-founder Edward Torres. 

 

Teatro Vista's Board of Directors includes Ezequiel "Zeek" Agosto, President; Rodrigo García and Rosanna Márquez, Vice Presidents; Joan Pantsios, Secretary; Tom Vega-Byrnes, Treasurer; and Bhuvana Badrinathan, José Antonio Cruz, Edgar Delgado, Ricardo Gutiérrez, Yolanda Hardy and Kareem Mohamednur.

 

Teatro Vista is supported by The Joyce Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events of the City of Chicago, The Shubert Foundation, TheGaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation and The Saints.

 

Purple Group and Cumberland Irving are Teatro Vista's Headline Season Sponsors. Teatro Vista is a Victory Gardens Resident Theater.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Griffin Theatre Company is pleased to announce casting for its newly-orchestrated chamber version of the Tony Award-winning musical RAGTIME, reimagined by director Scott Weinstein with new orchestrations by Matt Deitchman, music direction by Jermaine Hill and Ellen Morris and choreography by William Carlos Angulo. With 20 actors, two pianos and a wind instrument, RAGTIME features a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty. RAGTIME will play May 27 – July 16, 2017 at The Den Theatre's Heath Main Stage, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets for RAGTIME are currently available at www.griffintheatre.com or by calling (866) 811-4111. 

 

RAGTIME will feature Laura McClain as Mother, Denzel Tsopnang as Coalhouse Walker, Jr., Jason Richards as Tateh, Katherine Thomas as Sarah, Ben Miller as The Little Boy, Autumn Hlava as The Little Girl, Matt Edmonds as Younger Brother, Frederick Harris as Booker T. Washington, Scott Allen Luke as Father, Neala Barron as Emma Goldman, Caitlin Collins as Evelyn Nesbit, Jonathan Schwart as Henry Ford, Joe Capstick as Harry Houdini, Larry Baldacci as Grandfather, Danielle Davis as Sarah’s Friend, Courtney Jones as Kathleen/Brigit and others, with an ensemble including Marcellus Burt, Arielle Leverett, Alanna Lovely and Juwon Perry.

 

Based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow, RAGTIME is set at the dawn of a new century where the lives of three distinct American families from different backgrounds intersect in their search for the American dream. Part history lesson—part family saga, this stirring musical asks us think about racism, immigration, social justice, wage inequality and the role of women in society in a changing America. 

 

The production team for RAGTIME includes: William Boles (scenic design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), Alex Ridgers (lighting design), Stephen Ptacek (sound design), Catherine Allen (production manager), KZ Wilkerson (asst. director/asst. choreographer) and Katie Messmore (stage manager).

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

 

Title: RAGTIME

Book: Terrence McNally

Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens

Music: Stephen Flaherty

Director: Scott Weinstein

New Orchestrations/Music Supervisor: Matt Deitchman

Music Direction: Jermaine Hill and Ellen Morris

Choreography: William Carlos Angulo.

Associate Director/Associate Choreographer: KZ Wilkerson

 

Cast: Larry Baldacci (Grandfather), Neala Barron (Emma Goldman), Marcellus Burt (Ensemble), Joe Capstick (Harry Houdini), Caitlin Collins (Evelyn Nesbit), Danielle Davis (Sarah’s Friend), Matt Edmonds (Younger Brother), Frederick Harris (Booker T. Washington), Autumn Hlava (The Little Girl), Courtney Jones (Kathleen/Brigit and others), Arielle Leverett (Ensemble), Alanna Lovely (Ensemble), Scott Allen Luke (Father), Laura McClain (Mother), Ben Miller (The Little Boy), Juwon Perry (Ensemble), Jason Richards (Tateh), Jonathan Schwart (Henry Ford), Katherine Thomas (Sarah) and Denzel Tsopnang (Coalhouse Walker, Jr.).

 

Location: The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Saturday, May 27 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, May 28 at 3 pm, Thursday, June 1 at 7:30 pm, Friday, June 2 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, June 3 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Thursday, June 8 – Sunday, July 16, 2017

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. 

Tickets: Previews $30. Regular run $39. Students, seniors & veterans $34 ($25 previews). Group discount are available for groups of ten or more. Tickets are currently available at www.griffintheatre.com or by calling (866) 811-4111.

 

About the Creative Team

 

Scott Weinstein (Director) previously directed Griffin’s Bat Boy: The Musical, Titanic and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Scott is the Co-Artistic Director of Buzz22 Chicago, where he most recently directed She Kills Monsters as part of Steppenwolf Theatre's Garage Rep Series. Other credits include Seussical and Bolcom’s Fairy Tales (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); A Doll’s House (Buzz22 Chicago); All American (Red Twist); Baristas (NY International Fringe Festival); Ampersand (Bloomington Playwrights Project); and the first full productions of Murder For Two (Adirondack Theatre Festival, Hangar Theatre, 42nd Street Moon). Scott is the recipient of a Berkshire Theatre Festival Directing Fellowship and a Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Observership. He is currently the Associate Director for the National Tour, Las Vegas and Chicago productions of Million Dollar Quartet. He is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and proud graduate of Northwestern University. Weinstein recently won a Jeff Award for his direction of the musical Rent for Theo Ubique Theatre.

 

Matt Deitchman (New Orchestrations/Music Supervisor) is a Chicago based actor, music director and composer and multi-instrumentalist originally from Allendale, New Jersey. Music credits include: Tug Of War, Road Show, Seussical, Shrek (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Adding Machine, Into the Woods (The Hypocrites); The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes (Mercury Theater); Hero (Asolo Repertory Theatre & Marriott Theatre); King & I, The Wizard Of Oz, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, For The Boys (Marriott Theatre); She Kills Monsters (Steppenwolf Garage-Original Score); Do Over (MIC - Original Music/Lyrics Co-Write); Spelling Bee (Griffin Theatre); Do I Hear a Waltz?, The Baker’s Wife, The Pajama Game (Music Theatre Company); and Found (American Music Theater Project). Matt graduated from the Northwestern University Theatre Department where he twice music directed, composed, and orchestrated for the annual Waa-Mu and was the recipient of the Peggy Dow and Frank Gamble Fitzpatrick Scholarships, as well as the prestigious Sarah Siddons Scholarship Award for excellence in Musical Theatre.

 

Jermaine Hill (Music Director) is thrilled to be working on his first production with Griffin Theatre Company. An actor, singer, music director, arranger/orchestrator, pianist and vocal coach originally from New York City, he recently music directed The Gefilte Fish Chronicles (Chicago Music Theatre Festival), Godspell and Bonnie and Clyde (Actors Training Center), and was music arranger for Barney: The Elf (The Other Theatre Company). Upcoming music directing credits include Madagascar (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre) and two productions in the 2017-2018 Porchlight Music Theatre season. Performance highlights include Weill Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall), the Aldeburgh Festival (U.K.), The Lost Colony (Manteo, N.C.), two seasons at the Capitol Theatre (Rome, N.Y.), and a commercial with the Onion Labs/NBC. He is currently an assistant professor of theatre at North Central College, where he coordinates the musical theatre and dance programs. He is a proud graduate of Ithaca College and the New England Conservatory of Music, and is proudly represented by Gray Talent Group. jermainehillmusic.com

 

Ellen Morris (Music Director) is a Chicagoland music director and teaching artist. Recent professional theater credits include Next to Normal, Dogfight (Boho Theatre), Adding Machine, (The Hypocrites), The Velveteen Rabbit (The Marriott Theatre) and Northanger Abbey (Lifeline Theatre). She is the resident music director and a voice teacher at the Wilmette Park District and also teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago and Northwestern. Ellen is a proud Northwestern graduate. 

 

The Griffin Theatre's 2016/2017 Premiere Season Sponsor is Brenda & James Grusecki with additional season sponsor support from Jeff Graves Realtor @properties, Kassie Davis & Bruce Beatus, Mary Grover, Randy & Lloyd Gussis, Claire Conley & Joan Mazzonelli.

 

The Griffin Theatre Company is a Blue Star Theater and is proud to support our military enlisted and veterans. 

 

About Griffin Theatre Company

Established in 1988 and celebrating its 29th season, the mission of the Griffin Theatre Company is to create extraordinary and meaningful theatrical experiences for both children and adults by building bridges of understanding between generations that instill in its audience an appreciation of the performing arts. Through artistic collaboration the Griffin Theatre Company produces literary adaptations, original work and classic plays that challenge and inspire, with wit, style and compassion for the audience.

 

The Griffin Theatre Company is the recipient of 105 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for theater excellence in Chicago. The Griffin was the repeat winner of the 2016 Jeff Award for “Best Production of a Play” for London Wall having won the same award in 2015 for its production of Men Should Weep.

 

The Griffin Theatre Company is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

 

For additional information, visit www.griffintheatre.com.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

AstonRep Theatre Company will conclude its 2016-17 mainstage season with the Tony-nominated drama TIME STANDS STILL by Pulitzer Prize-winner Donald Margulies, directed by Georgette Verdin, playing May 11 – June 11, 2017 at The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St. in Chicago. Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 1, 2017 at www.astonrep.com or by calling (773) 828-9129. 

 

TIME STANDS STILL will feature Rob Frankel, Sara Pavlak McGuire, Kirra Silver and Robert Tobin.

 

TIME STANDS STILL focuses on Sarah and James, a photojournalist and a foreign correspondent trying to find happiness in a world that seems to have gone crazy. Theirs is a partnership based on telling the toughest stories, and together, making a difference. But when their own story takes a sudden turn, the adventurous couple confronts the prospect of a more conventional life. TIME STANDS STILL is a witty, intelligent look at what happens when ordinary life is refracted through the lens of war.

 

The production team for TIME STANDS STILL includes: Jeremiah Barr* (scenic design), Arielle Valene (costume design), Samantha Barr* (lighting design), Ray Kasper* (sound design), Matthew Nerber (asst. director) and Melanie Kulas (stage manager).

 

*Denotes AstonRep Company Members.

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

Title: TIME STANDS STILL

Playwright: Donald Margulies

Director: Georgette Verdin

Cast: Rob Frankel (Richard Ehrlich), Sara Pavlak McGuire (Sarah Goodwin), Kirra Silver (Mandy Bloom) and Robert Tobin (James Dodd).

 

Location: The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Thursday, May 11 at 8 pm and Friday, May 12 at 8 pm

Press performance: Saturday, May 13 at 8 pm

Regular run: Sunday, May 14 – Sunday, June 11, 2017

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3:30 pm

Tickets: Previews: $10. Regular run: $20. Student/seniors $15. Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 1, 2017 at www.astonrep.com or by calling (773) 828-9129.

 

About the Artists

 

Donald Margulies' (Playwright) plays include Brooklyn Boy, Dinner with Friends, Sight Unseen, Collected Stories, The Loman Family Picnic, God Of Vengeance, The Model Apartment, What's Wrong with this Picture? and Found a Peanut. He has won a Lucille Lortel Award, an American Theatre Critics Award, two Los Angeles Drama Critics Awards, two OBIE Awards, two Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Awards, five Drama Desk Award nominations, two Pulitzer Prize nominations and one Pulitzer Prize. His works have been performed on and off Broadway; at major theatres across the U.S. including South Coast Repertory, Manhattan Theatre Club, Primary Stages, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Long Wharf Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Old Globe Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse and Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival; and in Paris, London, Rome, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Sydney, Berlin, Vienna and many other cities around the world. Mr. Margulies is an alumnus of New Dramatists and serves on the council of The Dramatists Guild of America. He is an adjunct professor of English and Theatre Studies at Yale University.

 

Georgette Verdin (Director) is thrilled to be working with Aston Rep for the first time. She is the Co-Artistic Director of Interrobang Theatre Project, as well as the founding theatre teacher at Polaris Charter Academy, an Expeditionary Learning School in West Humboldt Park. Recent directing credits include: Interrobang's Jeff Recommended Recent Tragic Events and their production of the 2013 Yale Drama Series Winner Still. Georgette holds a Masters in Directing from Roosevelt University and a B.A. in Theatre Performance from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. 

 

About AstonRep Theatre Company:

 

AstonRep Theatre Company was formed in the summer of 2008. Since then, the company has produced 18 full-length productions and eight annual Writer’s Series.  AstonRep is an ensemble of artists creating theatre to move and engage our audiences and spark discussion through new works and re-imagined classics in an intimate setting.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

The Lyric Opera continues its Broadway at Lyric series, with the fifth installment in the series - My Fair Lady which opened on Saturday to a full house. The musical is based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw and inspired by the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who falls in love with his creation. The play and the musical translate this myth into the story of Henry Higgins and his “project” Eliza Doolittle. Eliza is a Cockney flower girl who has a run in with Higgins, a professor of phonetics, and Colonel Pickering, a fellow linguist in front of the Royal Opera House where Higgins brags that in six months he could turn Eliza into a lady by teaching her to speak proper English. Eliza takes him up on that challenge, and urged on by Pickering, they begin their lessons. Over time, Eliza’s speech improves and with some elegant new clothes she almost passes her first test at the Ascot Racecourse, and reaches her prime as the Embassy Ball where she fascinates the crowd and is asked to dance by the Crown Prince. Throughout their time together, Eliza starts to have feelings for Henry, but even after her spectacular showing at the ball, he barely gives her the time of day, focusing instead on how great of a job he did. Only after Eliza leaves, does he start to realize he may have actually developed feelings for her as well, thus falling for his “creation”. 

 

As expected, the production is a massive one, worthy of the Lyric Opera, boasting a cast of 56 singers, dancers and actors. This allows for some excellent ensemble pieces which take over the stage with energy. Choreographer Lynne Page took on this large cast with enthusiasm, creating interesting, playful and engaging choreography which is the highlight of the show. One of the most impressive numbers is by far “Get Me to the Church on Time”. Donald Maxwell as Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza’s father, was excellent creating a loud and boisterous, yet endearing, character that leads this scene which is executed with precision and gusto. 

 

The set design has its ups and downs. The Covent Garden tenement scenes are backed by a flat white on white backdrop and is only brought into a third dimension with the addition of some (also white) columns. While the large cast helps to liven up the Covent Garden setting during numbers like “With a Little Bit of Luck”, it leaves some colors and dimension to be desired. Higgins study on the other hand, while also based in shades of ivory, creates more on an interesting backdrop to indoor scenes, making use of the desk, chairs and various phonographs, as well as rows and rows of bookshelves and a second story to add dimension to the scenes set here. 

 

Lisa O’Hare as Eliza is excellent and brings the role to life with her powerful voice and commanding stage presence. Her transformation throughout the show is believable and she carries the audience into the unexpected challenges that she faced as a result of her makeover. Richard E. Grant plays Henry Higgins opposite Eliza. While he perfectly captures the immaturity and poor manners of the ridiculously intelligent character, the role is played too over the top, with exaggerated movements that seem to flail around the stage at times. Nicolas Le Prevost as Colonel Pickering provides some good counter balances to Higgins and Bryce Pinkham as Freddy, Eliza’s enamored suitor, really shines in “On the Street Where You Live”. 

 

Overall the production is strong, and has a huge presence, more due to its tremendous cast and elegant, colorful and sparkly costumes designed by Anthony Powell (which makes the scene at the Ball a joy to watch!) than the set or staging itself. With some exceptional performances bringing to life some very iconic songs, the good far outweighs the bad in this production of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, directed by Olivier Fredj. My Fair Lady is running at the Lyric Opera through May 21st. For tickets and more show information visit https://www.lyricopera.org/.  

 

Published in Theatre in Review

It’s been quite some time since “Chicago” has actually been performed in Chicago (or thereabouts), but after a ten-year road in obtaining the show’s rights, Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook brings home the popular musical created in 1975 – and we are glad they did. With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Webb and a book by both Webb and super choreographer Bob Fosse, the musical “Chicago” is based on a 1926 play of the same name. Inspired by actual criminals and crimes reported by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, the story revolves around the notion of the “celebrity criminal” while mocking the Chicago justice system that was in place in the 1920’s, an era where it was also widely suspected that an attractive women could not be convicted of a heinous crime, like say, the murder of her lover or husband. 

In “Chicago” the story starts off with a “bang” when Roxie Hart (Kelly Felthous) shoots dead her lover on the side. She is quickly arrested and held in Cook County Jail while awaiting trial for murder. In an age when the press sensationalized homicides committed by women (good ol' media), the public quickly buys into the hype making an instant celebrity out of Roxie, and as starved for stardom as the former dancer has always been, she thrives on the new-found attention. In the “pen” Roxie meets several colorful characters, but none as tough as Velma Kelly (Alena Watters), a socialite divorcee and former cabaret singer who is currently the talk of Chicago for the high-profile murder she committed. Velma barely gives Roxie the time of day, instead giving her the cold shoulder. But when Roxie’s popularity soars as the “new story” and Velma’s diminishes, it’s Velma who wants to partner with Roxie for a song and dance nightclub act, this time receiving the cold shoulder from the new celebrity. 

Roxie’s only way to avoid a sentence of death by hanging is to hire the flashy, fast-talking lawyer, Billy Flynn (Guy Lockard) for five thousand dollars. Well beyond what the couple can afford, Roxie’s doting, naive and “invisible” husband Amos (Justin Brill) scrapes up what he can and promises Flynn to pay the rest when he can. From there, Flynn turns the case into a dog and pony show, equating the trial as a “three-ring circus”.  

Watters stuns on several occasions as sassy Velma Kelly, winning the audience over almost immediately after a dazzling performance of the musical’s opening number “All That Jazz”. Possessing just the right dose of sexy attitude, Kelly impresses both vocally and in her dancing, her performance nothing short of riveting. As notable as Watters’ portrayal of Velma Kelly, Felthous also knocks the ball out of the park as Roxie Hart, pairing perfectly with her fellow caged dame and giving the show a rock ‘em sock ‘em one-two punch. Felthous convinces as one stricken by delusions of grandeur, confusing the popularity of her murder case as celebrity fame, putting forth an overall display of well-tuned comedic timing to go along with her own vocal prowess and dance ability. As fun to watch as the two are, Watters and Felthous really bring it home in their physically-charged routine “Nowadays”. 

He’s charming, good-looking and possesses a silver tongue that can sway even the toughest juries. Well-cast, singer/songwriter Guy Lockard brightly shines as the smooth defense attorney, Billy Flynn, and gives the show yet another boost, particularly in his courtroom maneuvering melody “Razzle Dazzle”. Justin Brill also contributes nicely in his funny depiction of Amos Hart, a man who is considered so undistinguishable by others he aptly refers to himself as “Mister Cellophane” in one of the show’s most humorous numbers. E. Faye Butler’s strong interpretation of Matron Mama Morton is pivotal, Butler crushing it in the number “When You’re Good to Mama”, a jailhouse tutorial for newly imprisoned Roxie Hart. A talented ensemble also brings another strength to the production in their many alluring dance numbers, perhaps most markedly in “Cell Block Tango”, a sultry ode to the woman prisoner during the revolutionary Jazz age.  

  

This new staging of “Chicago” is colorful and richer than ever thanks to an artistic creative team that includes Kevin Depinet (Scenic Design), Sully Ratke (Costume Design), Lee Fiskness (Lighting Design), Ray Nardelli (Sound Design), Cassy Schillo (Properties Design), Claire Moores (Wig Design) along with Production Stage Manager Larry Baker. 

“Chicago” is an energy-driven musical that is sexy, fun and truly memorable. Filled with a slew outstanding performances, inventive choreography and a set list that is justly contagious, Drury Lane’s “Chicago” is a can’t miss thrill ride. 

The Roaring Twenties are back...in high style. 

“Chicago” is currently being performed at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook through June 18th. For tickets and/or more show information, click here. 

 

Published in Theatre in Review

 

 

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