Dance

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 20:28

For The Loyal is dynamic and brutally honest

Echoing the western world’s most debated issue of late, For The Loyal was inspired by the Penn State sexual abuse scandal involving one of the college football coaches. Written by Lee Blessing and directed by James Yost, the play is presented as part of Interrobang Theatre Project’s ‘RAW Series’. Five actors on a tiny, modestly decorated stage (scenic design by Pauline Olesky), each playing multiple parts and enacting a story with alternative endings – it’s stripped down of anything but the story, acting and analysis of a crime.

Toby (Matthew Nerber) is an assistant coach to Mitch Carlson (very convincing Rob Frankel), the head coach of a top college football program. Toby’s wife Mia (intensely played by Sarah Gise) is pregnant with the couple’s first child. Toby and Mia had just become aware of Carlson’s terrible secret, and now everyone involved, including Carlson’s boss, Hale (Josh Zagoren), is faced with a difficult choice. A lot is at stake: the program’s integrity, coaches’ careers and reputations, but no one but Mia has any concern for Carlson’s victim. Mia is faced with a personal dilemma: stay loyal to the program and keep a secret, or bring Carlson to justice. She spends the evening exploring and playing out different scenarios and outcomes in her head, none of which seems particularly satisfying to her.

The creators of the play did a great job analyzing the dynamic between the sexual predators and their victims, giving us plenty of food for thought: is the sexual predator usually a stranger or is he more often a respected figure? Is the victim (a young boy played by Richard David) still a victim, despite his “consent”? Is Coach Carlson guilty, even though “no boy comes to him who is not ready for him”? And, most importantly, do we, as a society, tend to put certain people on a pedestal and then become protective of them, despite their crimes? Carlson’s remark is priceless: “Watch out for heroes, not strangers”. Indeed.

For the Loyal is being performed at Athenaeum Theatre through February 4th. For tickets and/or show information visit www.athenaeumtheatre.org.  

Published in Theatre in Review

Following its hit production of FOXFINDER, Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to continue its 2017-18 Season, exploring the urgent question “What is Truth?,” with Lee Blessing's shocking and thought-provoking new play FOR THE LOYAL, directed by Co-Artistic Director James Yost*. FOR THE LOYAL will play January 6 – February 4, 2018 at The Athenaeum Theatre (Studio 1), 2936 N. Southport Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at www.interrobangtheatre.org, by calling (773) 935-6875 or in person at The Athenaeum Theatre Box Office. The press opening is Monday, January 8 at 7:30 pm.
 
FOR THE LOYAL features ensemble members Sarah Gise* as Mia and Matthew Nerber* as Toby with Rob Frankel as Carlson, Richard Hatcher as The Boy and Josh Zagoren as Hale.
 
For Toby and Mia, college football and family are one and the same; he has a new coaching job for a top team, and they are happily expecting their first born. But when Toby gets Mia enmeshed in an unseemly team secret, she is forced to decide where her loyalties truly lie. Inspired by the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, FOR THE LOYAL takes an unconventional and provocative look at how one woman traverses a no-win situation. 
 
FOR THE LOYAL is presented as part of Interrobang's RAW Series. Think of it a bit like theatrical sashimi. Big ideas, bold flavors – everything you’ve come to expect from Interrobang Theatre Project – without the trimmings. We’ve stripped down the classic stage elements to put the story front and center. The RAW Series features passion-projects and bucket-list productions spearheaded by our talented ensemble. In addition to our regularly scheduled plays, the RAW Series aims to bring concise, actor-driven theater to the Chicago stage. 
 
In Conversation with The Playwright
Interrobang Theatre Project with host a talkback with playwright Lee Blessing on Saturday, January 6, 2018 from 4 – 5 pm. Tickets cost $10 (discussion only) or $20 (discussion plus 7:30 pm performance. For additional information, visit www.interrobangtheatre.org.
 
The production team for FOR THE LOYAL includes: Pauline Olesky (scenic design), Rebecca Bartle (lighting design), Christopher Aaron Knarr* (original music), Hannah Wolff (asst. director) and Devonte Washington (stage manager).
 
*Denotes Interrobang Theatre Project Company Member. 
 
PRODUCTION DETAILS:
 
Title: FOR THE LOYAL
Playwright: Lee Blessing
Director: Co-Artistic Director James Yost
Cast: Sarah Gise (Mia) and Matthew Nerber (Toby) with Rob Frankel (Carlson), Richard Hatcher (The Boy) and Josh Zagoren (Hale).
 
Location: The Athenaeum Theatre (Studio 1), 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Saturday, January 6 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, January 7 at 2 pm
Press opening: Monday, January 8 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Thursday, January 11 – Sunday, February 4, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 2 pm & 7:30 pm: Sundays at 2 pm. 
Tickets: Previews: $17. Regular run: $32. Students $17 with ID. (Ticket prices include $2 Athenaeum Theatre restoration fee). 
In Conversation with Playwright Lee Blessing: Saturday, January 6 from 4 – 5 pm $10 (discussion only) or $20 (discussion plus 7:30 pm performance).
Tickets are currently available at www.interrobangtheatre.org, by calling (773) 935-6875 or in person at The Athenaeum Theatre Box Office.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

The Chicago Musical Theater Festival is produced by the Underscore Theater Company as a forum for musical theater creators and artists to bring new musicals to the stage in a more low risk environment. In its second year, the fest features thirteen new works all sharing the stage in over 60 performances at The Den Theater.

Dirty Girl is presented by the New American Folk Theater, and was written by Anthony Whitaker. It is a retelling of the classic Cinderella story set in a fictitious trailer park in Georgia, 1987. Jennifer dreams of going to her prom, but has no date, no dress and no support from her step aunt or step cousins, Tami and Tammy, who lovingly refer to her as Dirty Girl. Lucky for her, her fairy god cousin by marriage comes to her rescue with a delightfully 80’s prom dress and a date with the most popular high school jock. But the prom is not the happily ever after Jennifer dreamed of and she learns that in real life there are no magical solutions to your problems and you have to find your own happy ending.

As the show shares the stage with thirteen other musicals during this festival, the set is very minimal. It is a black box style theater and they creatively maneuver a few chairs, a bench and a table to transport us from the trailer, to the school cafeteria, to the mall and of course the prom! The commitment of the actors to their over the top characters helps to fill the otherwise simple space.  

The show entertains with witty humor in both the dialog and songs, boasting more 1980’s references than you can count. The strongest singers are definitely the two main characters, Jennifer (Sarah Gise) and Randy/Troy (Kirk Jackson). Overall the acting was good, embracing the caricatures of the trailer park friends and family. Grant Drager’s portrayal of Tami is fantastic and just what you would want the trailer trash version of an ugly stepsister to be, while Coco Kasperowicz’s Tammy seemed to fluctuate in and out of character. The choreography was pretty kitschy with moves more commonly seen in an elementary school dance recital but somehow it seemed to work with the exaggerated stereotypes of the show. The costumes were colorful and just a bit tacky (as they should be!) with a bit of rebellious goth punk fashion tossed in for good measure.

Amidst all the overblown characters and silly songs, the show still draws you in and makes you care. When Jennifer takes ownership of her happy ending and reunites with Troy, the nerd who adores her, for a quiet night in watching a recording of the Dukes of Hazard special, it will warm your heart.

It may not be the clean and polished musical many are used to, but Dirty Girl is funny and full of characters that you will love or love to hate. If you grew up in the 80’s it will be especially entertaining, bringing back memories of neon spandex, taffeta prom dresses and big hair and sure to get a few laughs out of you.

Catch an upcoming performance Dirty Girl at The Den Theater as part of the Chicago Musical Theater Festival:

Wednesday, July 8th @ 9:30pm

Saturday, July 11th @ 5:30pm

Thursday, July 16th @6:00 pm

Sunday, July 19th @ noon

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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