Theatre

Most people are aware of the movie Carrie, starring the haunting Sissy Spacek as the picked on teenaged outsider who uses her telekinetic powers to burn down her high school with most of her attackers in it, but few know there was a sequel made in the 90's where her long lost sister ends up using the same powers to avenge her and her best friend’s mistreatment. The sequel is appropriately titled Carrie 2: The Rage

Writer/composer Preston Max Allen does an amazing job of using the movie sequel as his starting point in Carrie 2: The Rage (An Unauthorized Musical Parody), writing many very funny and well-crafted parody songs and scenes to fill out the play. 

Rachel Lang, the lead played solidly by Demi Zaino, finds out that the reason her best friend committed suicide the day after happily losing her virginity to one of the boys on the football team is a cruel game that the boys are playing with young girl's minds by judging their looks with a point system for the football player who "bangs them". The boys then and then dump the girls who are considered "coyote's,” not really the ugly girls just the sensitive, nerdy vulnerable ones. 

Then to make things worse Rachel ends up stealing the heart of the only nice football player that the head cheerleader is in love with and thereby invites the wrath of the cheerleaders and the team when she tries to prove the team were at fault for her friend’s death. As revenge, the team and cheerleaders gang up on Rachel and orchestrate the video taping of her having sex with the nice football player named Jesse. After viewing herself having sex and being laughed at by everyone invited to a private party, Rachel unleashes her inherited telekinetic rage powers to kill everyone much the same way Carrie did nearly two decades earlier. 

Although the plot of Carrie 2: The Rage seems like a perfect warning tale about bullying, it is also a terrifying reminder of the damage caused by sexual harassment and rape.

First of all, it is terrifying to grow up in an age where your immature teenage peers can make a sex tape of you and show it to everyone you know. Also, it shows that Rachel's virginal friend is actually thrilled to have "become a woman" with what she thinks is her new boyfriend - until he breaks up with her the very next day because his friends call her a "coyote".

The way she is broken up with is worse than the act of sex itself because it means that the act of sex itself was a vengeful act to him, not the beautiful loving experience she had been conned into thinking it was. 

All three cheerleaders are played with perfect camp, each having their own unique brand of snotty mean girl-ness that is very funny and well played. But two character actresses really steal the show in the roles of Rachel's mentally ill mother, Annie Pfohl and the high school counselor, who witnessed the first destruction of the high school with Carrie at the helm played by Sue Snell. Both Snell and Pfohl play the crazy in their roles with fantastic realism and comic timing which takes the play to a whole new level of both humor and spookiness. Sam Button-Harrison is also tremendously funny as the play’s lead bully.

You really feel for these beleaguered women who are trying desperately to forget and prevent the tragedy that has ruined their lives as well as Carrie, and now poor Rachel's, at the hands of some of the meanest boys and girls the musical comedy stage has ever seen. 

Eric Luchen, designs a set in the tiny Arkham space that seems to expand and contract with each number in marvelous ways. Choreographer Maggie Robinson and co-directors Rachel Elise Johnson and Isaac Loomer each do a wonderful job bringing this nice sized cast to life with full out dance numbers and great lighting and sound effects that move along quickly and seemed to be unfolding in a much larger space. 

I really laughed at, and thoroughly enjoyed, this well played, musical wild ride through the early nineties (right down to Rachel’s torn jeans, army boots and plaid shirt tied around her waist). The Rage is filled with gore, laughs and a moral - "People shouldn't suck so much!" Just in time for Halloween! 

Underscore Theatre’s Carrie: The Rage (An Unauthorized Musical Parody) is being performed at The Arkham through November 19th. For more show information visit http://www.underscoretheatre.org/.

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Set in the 18th century French countryside, First Folio Theatre vividly brings to life Joseph Zettelmaier’s “The Man-Beast”, a romantic, yet frightening, tale just in time for the Halloween season. The final installment of Zettelmaier’s horror trilogy, “The Man-Beast” follows first works “The Gravedigger” and “Dr. Seward’s Dracula” and, staying true to form, steadily builds in suspense from its first scene to the story’s climactic ending. Staged ever so appropriately inside the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook, theatre goers are in for a spooky treat that is as sexy as it is haunting.

When a werewolf ravages the countryside, no one is safe. A trail of blood leaves local villagers dead along with an escalating amount of livestock. It is then that King Louis XVI puts a bounty on the beast in the hopes the threat can be eliminated once and for all. The villagers believe the beast to be Loup-Garou, the legendary werewolf who has terrorized the countryside in the past.

The story begins when trapper Jean Chastel bangs on the door of Virginia Allard. He is hurt having suffered a bite from the beast that he believes he has killed, though the animal seems to have vanished. Allard lives alone in the forest, her house decorated with dead animals that she herself had stuffed, her kitchen shelves cluttered with bottles of herbs, wood burns in her fireplace creating a flickering glow throughout the room. The “Witch of the Woods” as she jokingly calls herself is not one to take chances as she carries a large hunting knife on her person.

After Allard tends to Chastel’s wounds we see a tumultuous relationship between the two develop, as well as a plan to cash in on the large reward. But both are cautious and struggle to trust each other, having been betrayed in the past. We wonder if either will hold true to their word.

Filled with mystery, suspense and mounting sexual tension, “The Man-Beast” works well thanks to its powerful cast of two, Elizabeth Laidlaw as Virginia Allard and Aaron Christensen as Jean Chastel. Laidlaw, whose theatre credits include Steppenwolf, The Goodman and many others, is nothing short of sensational offering several scenes filled with an electricity that would be hard to match. Laidlaw’s counterpart, Christensen, also puts forth a fierce performance and the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Hayley Rice skillfully directs this classic piece, strategically getting the most in the play’s finishing touches from a talented artistic team that includes Angela Weber Miller (Scenic Design), Christopher Kriz (Sound Design), Rachel Lambert (Costume Design) Vivian Knouse (Properties Design), Rachel Flesher (Violence Design) and Julia Zayas-Melendez (Stage Manager).

Played with much ferocity and passion, the performances we get from Laidlaw and Christensen are alone well worth the price of admission. When you add a story that is sure to engage even the most casual of horror fans from beginning to end and a creative set that visually takes us miles away and so easily nudges our imagination in just the right way, we are presented with a production that has all the ingredients needed to promise a thoroughly entertaining theatrical Halloween event.

Highly recommended. *Parental discretion is advised due to a handful of racy scenes.

First Folio’s “The Man-Beast” is being performed at Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook through November 5th. For tickets and/or more production information, visit www.firstfolio.org.

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Just in time to get you in the Halloween spirit, Akvavit Theatre is pleased to present GHOSTS & zombies, by Henrik Ibsen and Gustav Tegby, in a new American translation by Chad Eric Bergman*, directed by Co-Artistic Director Breahan Pautsch*. This dark and hilarious contemporary Swedish twist on Ibsen’s Norwegian classic Ghosts, will play September 28 - October 29, 2017 at the new Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice in Chicago. Tickets go on sale Friday, September 1, 2017 at chicagonordic.org
 
GHOSTS & zombies will feature Marsha Harman as Mrs. Helene Alving, Victor Bayona as Chamberlain Alving, Jeremy Trager as Pastor Manders, Joshua K. Harris as Carpenter Engstrand, Micah Kronlokken* as Osvald and Almanya Narula as Regine with and ensemble including Jessica Kearney, Dylan M. Lainez, Madelyn Loehr*, Christiane Schaldemose, Erik Schiller and Tyler Skafgaard.
 
GHOSTS & zombies puts a blood-curdling spin on Ibsen's classic drama, Ghosts. As in the original, Mrs. Alving is preparing to open an orphanage in her husband's memory, while welcoming her son home from a long absence. However, things soon take a turn for the weird and scary as their country estate becomes overrun by the un-dead. Haunted by the ghosts of her past, Mrs. Alving now finds herself confronted by zombies that she is forced to stand and fight. GHOSTS & zombies shows us that we can try to bury the parts of our life we would rather forget, but we cannot control whether they walk again – slowly, hungrily – in our direction.
 
The production team for GHOSTS & zombies includes: Chad Eric Bergman* (set design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), David Goodman-Edberg (lighting design), Nigel Harsch* (sound designer), Leticha Guillaud (properties design), Kirstin Franklin* (casting director), Bethany Weise (asst. costume designer), R&D Choreography (violence design), Christiane Schaldemose (music direction), Chris Waldron (asst. director), Amy Hopkins (production manager), Harrison Ornelas (technical director), Hannah Harper-Smith (stage manager) and Katy Grabarski (asst. stage manager).
 
PRODUCTION DETAILS:
 
Title: GHOSTS & zombies 
Written by: Henrik Ibsen & Gustav Tenby
Translated by: Chad Eric Bergman
Directed by: Co-Artistic Director Breahan Pautsch*
Cast: Victor Bayona (Chamberlain Alving), Marsha Harman (Mrs. Helene Alving), Joshua K. Harris (Carpenter Engstrand), Jessica Kearney (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Micah Kronlokken* (Osvald), Dylan M. Lainez, (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Madelyn Loehr* (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Almanya Narula (Regine), Christiane Schaldemose (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Erik Schiller (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Tyler Skafgaard (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob) and Jeremy Trager (Pastor Manders).
 
Location: Strawdog Theatre Company,1802 W. Berenice, Chicago
Dates: Preview: Thursday, September 28 at 8 pm
Regular run: Saturday, September 30 – Sunday, October 29, 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 go on sale Friday, September 1, 2017 available at chicagonordic.org.
 
*Denotes Akvavit Theatre company members.
 
Akvavit Theatre is also pleased to announce the addition of new company member Madelyn Loehr and associate company member Maggie Fullilove-Nugent.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

 

 

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