Category: World Premier

Review: Bobby Pin Girls (Nothing Without A Company)

Debo Balogun (Tim), Peter Wilde (Danny), Emilie Modaff (Bree) and Grace Hutchins (Ana) star in Bobby Pin            
  
         

Bobby Pin Girls

Written by Janey Bell
Chicago Mosaic School, 1101 W. Granville (map)
thru Dec 3  |  tix: $20-$25  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets
     

November 3, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Punk (The New Colony)

Kyle Encinas, Aaron Sanchez, Evie Riojas and Daniel Shtivelberg star in Punk, The New Colony            
      

  

Punk

Written by Michael Allen Harris
The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru Nov 5  |  tix: $20  |  more info
       
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October 12, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Alias Grace (Rivendell Theatre)

Ashley Neal and Steve Haggard star as Grace Marks and Simon Jordan in Alias Grace, Rivendell Theatre            
      

  

Alias Grace

Adapted by Jennifer Blackmer
  from novel by Margaret Atwood
Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge (map)
thru Nov 4  |  tix: $38  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     

September 26, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil (Babes With Blades)

Elizabeth MacDougald and Ashley Fox star as Evanna Keil and Judy in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil             
       
     

The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil

Written by Barbara Lhota
at Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard (map)
thru Oct 14  |  tix: $15-$25  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     


    
  

Heroine uses power of invisibility to champion
real-life visibility of women

  

Chloe Baldwin stars as Scarlet O'Neil in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil, Babes With Blades

    
Babes With Blades Theatre Company presents
    
The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil

Review by Johanna Dalton

The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil is a light-hearted and highly entertaining tale that packs an important message as well as an action-packed punch. Based on the beloved 1940’s comic strip by Chicagoan Russell Stamm, the play takes place in post-WWII days. Through a mishap in her father’s top secret research lab, Scarlet O’Neil acquires the superpower of invisibility, promising Dr. O’Neil she would never use it. Much as she wants to honor that promise, Scarlet is faced with dire consequences only she can avert by putting her special power to work to save the day.

Ashley Fox (Mobster Judy), Lynne Baker (Doris) and  Elizabeth MacDougald (Evanna)In the opening scene it is revealed that Dr. O’Neil’s ground-breaking research includes a mind-control weapon embedded in a common women’s cosmetic. Though the project is scrapped as too dangerous, lab assistant Evanna Keil (Elizabeth MacDougald) concocts a scheme to sell it to the KGB, setting off a series of engaging and often hilarious events.

After her father’s death Scarlet (Chloe Baldwin) has taken a job at the City News when she learns of Evanna’s evil plan to steal the secret documents she needs to perfect her mind-control product. To protect her father’s reputation and foil Evanna’s plans, she also needs to protect the team that is trying to help her: her mysterious landlady Doris Carmichael (Lynne Baker) who gets kidnapped but has a few tricks up her sleeve; Hedy Labarr (Lisa Herceg) who takes Dr. O’Neil’s role of heading the project; Dr. Greta Hertzfeldt (also played by Baker), one of the scientists with a crush on her colleague, Dr. Percy Spencer (Kirk Osgood), who is lovable but no help; and a bright young prodigy Sarah Blue (Margaux Fournier, in her impressive acting debut) who wants to follow in Scarlet’s footsteps. Baldwin does an admirable job of portraying Scarlet’s bravery and vulnerability in the midst of many dangers.

Then there are her friends at the City News, including switchboard operator Marcie (Herceg) and reporter Jean Sharp (Aneisa Hicks). Jean Sharp is a talented reporter willing to put in the work to get a good story. Her efforts tend to be stymied, however, by fellow reporter Bobby Bragg (Osgood). Like Jean, City News switchboard operator Marcie sees her own contributions go unrecognized.

Lisa Herceg stars as Marcie in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil, Babes With BladesElizabeth MacDougald and Ashley Fox star as Evanna Keil and Judy in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil

Chris Cinereski shifts smoothly between a quartet of roles as Scarlet’s father, Dr. O’Neil; Bill Hackett, who runs the City News; and the somewhat bungling Guard and Cop who fall under the spell of mind control. Last but not least, Judy Butafuco (Ashley Fox) plays Evanna’s mobster side-kick, whose lines are generously sprinkled with amusing malaprops, such as “those scientific diaphragms are really gonna help” and “you mis-underestimated me.” In the end, Butafuco has a secret of her own to be revealed.

Babes With Blades Theater Company, seizing on the very relatable character of Scarlet O’Neil, commissioned playwright Barbara Lhota to explore the intangible ways that women have become “invisible” in the context of societal norms. In World War II, the role of women changed dramatically as the all-hands-on-deck mentality saw women take on crucial roles that had a great impact. That changed once the war ended. As playwright Lhota adds in the production’s script notes, “Women who were made visible during WWII, because they took over so many male-dominated jobs, were now asked to become, in effect, invisible as the men came home.” The results of this transition are acted out in the struggles of Jean Sharp and Marcie as well as Scarlet, while City News editor Bill Hackett offers a ray of hope.

Kirk Osgood and Chris Cinereski star as Bobby and Mr. Hackett in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil

The physicality and action-oriented approach of the period drive the pace of the production and add to the comic success it achieves under Leigh Barrett’s direction. Barrett’s staging is simple and fluid, with Milo Bue’s set design, consisting of plain white blocks easily reconfigured to go from an office to a hotel scene, adding to the fluidity. A clever visual technique is used by G. “Max” Maxin IV (projection design) to simulate the thought and word bubbles of the comic strip genre that fill in jumps in the action.

Now in its 20th Anniversary season, Babes With Blades uses stage combat to place women and their stories center stage. Its Fighting Words Festival (FW) focuses on developing scripts that include fighting roles for female identified artists. This year’s festival, scheduled for May 2018, will showcase three new scripts aligned with their goal of creating theatre that explores the wide range of human experience and cultivates broader perspectives both in the arts and society as a whole.

While not without an occasional flaw, world-premiere The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil is a fresh and thoroughly enjoyable theater experience that gives the viewer good-natured laughs while putting a still too prevalent issue front and center.

  
Rating: ★★★
  

The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil continues through October 14th at Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $25 (seniors & students: $15), and are available at BrownPaperTickets.com or by phone at 773-904-0391 (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at BabesWithBlades.org(Running time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)

Margaux Fournier and Chloe Baldwin star as Sarah and Scarlet O'Neil in Invisible of Scarlet O'Neil

Photos by Joe Mazza 


  

artists

cast

Chloe Baldwin (Scarlet O’Neil), Aneisa Hicks (Jean Sharp), Lisa Herceg (Marcie, Hedy Labarr), Lynne Baker (Dr. Greta Hertzfeldt, Doris Carmichael), Elizabeth MacDougald (Evanna Keil), Ashley Fox (Judy Butafuco), Margaux Fournier (Sarah Blue), Chris Cinereski (Bill Hacket, Dr. O’Neil, Guard, Cop), Kirk Osgood (Bobby Bragg, Dr. Percy Spencer), Patti Moore, Savanna Rae (understudies)

behind the scenes

Leigh Barrett (director), Libby Beyreis (violence design), Milo Bue (scenic design), Meghan Erxleben (lighting design), Kimberly G. Morris (costume design), Sarah Espinoza (sound design), The Sans N.E. Sleep Cooperative (props design), G. “Max” Maxin IV (projection design), Lindsey Miller (stage manager), Manuel Ortiz (technical director), Colleen Layton (production manager), Hannah Wolff (dramaturg), Chloe Baldwin (asst. violence design), Wolf Point Media (video), Joe Mazza (photos)

Chloe Baldwin and Elizabeth MacDougald star as Scarlet O'Neil and Evanna Keil

17-0913

September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Ubu II–Electric Boog-Ubu, or Free Ubu (The Plagiarists)

Ubu II Electric Boogubu, or Free Ubu by The Plagiarists 6            
      

  

Ubu II
    
Adapted by Gregory Peters
   from play by Alfred Jarry 
at Berger Park, 6205 N. Sheridan (map)
thru Sept 30  |  tix: $15-$20  |  more info    
       
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September 14, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: One Thousand Words (Theater Faction)

Garrett Wade Haley and Brandon Campbell star in One Thousand Words at Theater Faction            

          

One Thousand Words
 
Written by Curran Latas (music)
   and Michael Braud (book & lyrics)
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
thru Sept 17  |  tix: $22-$27  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier (Permoveo Productions)

Katherine Condit as and Delia Kropp star as Old Albert and Nurse in Civility of Albert Cashier, Permoveo            
      
    

The CiviliTy
  of Albert Cashier

By Jay Paul Deratany (book/lyrics),
   Joe Stevens, Keaton Wooden (music/lyrics)
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Oct 15  |  tix: $40  |  more info
       
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September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Trevor the Musical (Writers Theatre)

Eli Tokash and Salisha Thomas star as Trevor and Diana Ross in Trevor the Musical, Writers Theatre             
         

Trevor     
   
Written by Dan Collins (book/lyrics)
   and Julianne Wick Davis (music)
Writers Theatre, Glencoe, IL (map)
thru Oct 8  |  tix: $35-$80  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     

September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments More