Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.
— Fulton J. Sheen
Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.
— Sigmund Freud
Worries go down better with soup than without.
— Jewish Proverb
A finished person is a boring person.
— Anna Quindlen
Good news for our community – the Wall Street Journal has named Steppenwolf Theatre as one of the top 15 places to work by the WSJ’s Top Small Workplaces 2009. To compile the list, WSJ partnered with Evanston-based Winning Workplaces for the third year.
Besides employing more than 400 people, both full-time and part-time, Steppenwolf also has a 42-member artistic ensemble. Unlike many theaters, the theater provides all employees 401k matching plans, and helps cover healthcare premiums. Steppenwolf also focuses on artistic apprentices and interns, who are given great responsibility and really incorporated into the theater’s team.
“Giants in The Sky”, sung by Jack in Steven Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical Into The Woods.
This video’s assorted comments on YouTube:
Omg I know, I was soooo ticked off because the principle at our school wouldn’t let us do the second act!! I was like "Well, what’s the point in doing it??"
here’s a response to the above comment. I tend to agree, though not “eternally”
His voice is awesome. I love this Bernadette Peter’s version. And to all you…people… who do this for your high school musical, if it ends happily, you fail. I will eternally hate you. Ending it at the first act is like spitting on Sondheim’s Genius!!! I hate you
And my favorite comment of all:
My sister was the cow in ours school’s show. best damn cow ever in my opinion
A good time for ALL ages
review by K.D. Hopkins
As I entered the Lifeline Theatre on a freezing Chicago afternoon, I thought back to the first time I saw real children’s theatre. It was a production of Peter Pan in the early 70’s. I was a cynical kid and did not give in easily to fantastic imagination. Fast forward to 2010 – I watched while what seemed to be an endless stream of children were herded into the cozy theatre. They were a well-behaved bunch and I sensed more sophisticated than most children about theatre. That was a bonus as we settled in for an hour of fun with a really great lesson about individuality and tradition.
The Last of the Dragons is a world premiere musical adaptation from a novel by Edith Nesbit. It is of interest to note that Ms. Nesbit was a woman considered ahead of her time in Victorian England. Not only was she an accomplished author but also a political activist involved in creating the precursor to England’s Labour Party – the Fabian Society. The central character of Princess Andromeda (nicknamed Andy) is a girl possessing a strong mind who has decidedly unfeminine pursuits according to her father, the king. She is an accomplished swordswoman, wears her hair short, and likes to dress in trousers. Like Victorian England, women’s roles were defined clearly and if one expected a comfortable life, she would willingly adapt to societal mores.
Princess Andy is played by Anne Sears. She is fresh faced and appealing as the gutsy princess. Her comic gifts show brilliantly in the scene where she is being coached in princess behavior and attire. Mike Ooi plays the King with just enough bombast and humor. Ooi possesses a fine bass voice that resounds in the song “Tradition”. This production does not talk down to the audience just because it is meant for children. There is a layered dynamic between the characters of the King and Princess Andy. They engage in swordplay in the opening scene that hints at the King’s indulgence and acceptance of his daughter’s skills and individuality.
Cast member David Fink is a triple threat as the hilarious D’Artagnan, Chamberlain, and as the Dragon. Mr. Fink has been in previous Lifeline Theatre adaptations (including my all time favorite childhood book “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”), and here his role of Dragon breaks your heart as the Dragon who is a pacifist and longs to have friends rather than being feared. It’s a fine and subtle lesson about fear and prejudice as traditions that need to be broken in every generation. His characterization of the parrot D’Artagnan had everyone in the audience chuckling. He is physically nimble and obviously knows how to project emotion in spite of a giant papier-mache head.
Kudos is due to Scott Allen Luke as Prince Stanley. He is the perfect counterpoint to Princess Andy’s physicality. His character is studious and henpecked by his mother the Queen played with flair by Mallory Nees. Prince Stanley is told, “You must be more like a prince and less like you”. It is another good lesson in appearances and tradition no matter the time. Glass slippers, white horses, and dwarves can easily be seen as the cool shoes, toys, and school cliques in our time.
The staging of The Last of the Dragons is genius in its simplicity. The young audience can focus on the characters rather than lots of set dressing. The swordplay is not too violent and there are smart double entendres for everyone to enjoy. Director Dorothy Milne has managed to project the just right mix of whimsy and morality lessons with this production. Lifeline’s tagline is ‘big stories up close’ and they continue to be true to their word. The staging of the Dragon’s lair is funny and just scary enough. The Dragon is a beautiful mix of brocade and voile managing to cleverly encompass the breadth of the stage.
The music and lyrics are by Mikhail Fiksel, Kyle Hamman, and Alex Balestrieri. It is easy and fun to sing. In fact, I found myself humming the finale “Fly With A Dragon” as I walked home. David Bareford adapts this play from the story written by Ms. Nesbit, who collaborated with Kenneth Grahame of “Wind in the Willows” fame on her ‘Dragon’ stories toward the end of her colorful and turbulent life. The story is a fun fantasy that the kids will probably act out at home like any good childrens theatre or book. After I left, I recalled another theatre experience from the later 70’s called Warp by Stuart Gordon at the Organic Theater. This fine production of The Last of the Dragons is great preparation for more theatre in a child’s future whether they are three or ready for AARP.
If you have not yet been to a Lifeline Theatre production, this is an excellent one to attend – and see for yourself why this theatre company has been a long-time anchor in the Glenwood Arts District and a precious resource in the neighborhood as a whole.
The Last of the Dragons runs through February 21st 2010. Shows are Saturdays at 1:00PM and Sundays at 11:00AM and 1:00PM. The Lifeline Theatre is located at 6912 Glenwood Avenue in Rogers Park. Call 773-761-4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com for more information on Lifeline’s productions and other fun programs for children and adults alike. See you in the aisles!
The Arthur Miller Project – An Exploration
by Paige Listerud
In fall, at the start of the 2009-2010 Season, it became quite apparent that the Chicago theater community was responding to the economic crisis and the shifting political tone of Washington with works that depicted hardship, deprivation, and introspection over the meaning of American identity.
Profiles Theatre produced Neil LaBute’s response to 9/11, The Mercy Seat; Eclipse Theatre brought back the political corruption of the Grant Administration with Romulus Linney’s Democracy; Brain Surgeon Theatre reconstructed a cramped Depression Era tenement with their world premiere 1512 West Studebaker Place; Northlight Theatre will take their turn at the Clifford Odets’ classic Awake and Sing this January; eta Creative Arts Foundation examined the American Dream through African American eyes with Sam Kelley’s Pill Hill; while These Shining Lives, produced by Rivendell Theatre Ensemble and The Artistic Home’s production of Lillian Hellman’s Days To Come touched on the dynamics of American labor.
Into the mix, it seemed striking that not just one or two, but seven productions of Arthur Miller’s work emerged on the roster for the 2009-2010-theater season. In a world-class theater city like Chicago, one is accustomed to seeing plenty of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Shaw, and even a production of The Crucible each season. But this time, it was clear that something was in the air. True, almost half of the productions are from Eclipse Theatre’s seasonal selection; but to see so much attention by individual theaters devoted to the playwright known for his piercing examination of the American mythos signaled both a return to basics and an interrogation into who we are and where we are going.
Here at ChicagoTheaterBlog, we took this as an excellent opportunity to create dialog about Miller’s work; to ask what still remains vital and provocative about the issues his plays bring up. And, of course, to get more people out to the theater, talking about theater and participating with their theater community. To this end, we’ve embarked on our first videotaped interview, with more to come. Our goal is to interview directors, actors, and scholars regarding the Arthur Miller productions of this season and to give you a chance to respond to our findings. We hope that our coverage of Miller’s works through our “Arthur Miller Project” will prompt you to engage in the exciting exchange that live theater can bring and is so accessible to us in this great city.
Arthur Miller Plays in the Chicago 2009-2010 Theater Season
Mar 25 Resurrection Blues at Eclipse Theatre
July 8 After the Fall at Eclipse Theatre
July 24 Incident At Vichy at Redtwist Theatre
Sept 2 A Memory of Two Mondays at Eclipse Theatre
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Raven Theatre’s artistic director Michael Menendian, talks with Paige Listerud regarding their critically successful production of Death of a Salesman
Leslie Nesbit as Nancy Kerrigan and Cassie Cushman as Tonya Harding in WHACK!
January 2010 Calendar Listings for Gorilla Tango:
Mark & Laura’s Couples Advice Christmas Special is a satire based on TV’s self-proclaimed counseling gurus and the dysfunctional American family. Will Mark & Laura’s volatile relationship get in the way of their primetime debut or will Christmas be officially over? Produced by Ryan McChesney.
Wednesdays at 8pm, December 2, 2009 – January 20, 2010 (no performances Dec. 23 & 30, 2009). Tickets are $10; Rated R. More info here.
Give Us Money – Every Monday night in January, GIVE US MONEY will present the 23rd hour of the 24 hour telethon raising money for various causes such as: Prevention of 2012, Douchebag Syndrome, Make the McRib Permanent, and Plasma TV for Prison Inmates. Each week will feature different talent acts, and your hosts will take you through an hour of pure telethon. So stop by and show your support, and make sure to Give Us Money. Produced by Jenny Staben. More info here
Mondays at 8pm, January 4 – 25, 2010. Tickets are $10; Rated R.
GRAY AREAS: Comedy, Music or Neither is a scripted experimental two-person comedic exploration of music. In terms of genre, style, and approach, there are no restrictions or boundaries; the only goal is to perform songs that can hold their weight both comedically and musically. Expect the following: a girl, a guy, vocals, keyboards, guitars, ukuleles, violins, xylophones, plus anything a computer can recreate and more! Produced by Joe Kwaczala and Chelsea Devantez.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 8pm. Tickets are $10; Rated R. More info here
$1,000 GTT Improv Thing
$1,000 GTT Improv Thing: Improv teams from throughout Chicago duke it out for:
- A $1000 prize (possibly paid with one of those giant novelty checks)
- A spot at the 2010 Chicago Improv Festival
- A package of six Big Ass Hot Dogs (42lbs) from BigAssHotDog.com
Produced by GTT.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, January 8 – 30, 2010. Tickets are $12; Rated R. More info here
A Look Through Our Eyes
“A Look Through Our Eyes: An Experimental Production about Citizens’ Views, Struggles, Experiences and Reactions to 9/11.” Written & Directed by Darius “T.Q.” Colquitt
Loosely based on actual interviews, “A Look Through Our Eyes“ steps into the lives of 8 individuals who were directly and indirectly affected by the 9/11 Tragedy. The Social, Economic, Religious, Mental and Generational Differences of the world are highlighted in this production, filled with thought-provokingly real points-of-view on a subject that most are afraid to discuss. Produced by Nu Xpression Theatrics.
Friday, January 8 and Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 10pm and Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 6pm. Tickets are $10; Rated R. More info here
Improvised Simpsons: Television’s most beloved animated family comes to life on stage! Anything can happen in the town of Springfield, especially when there isn’t a script. The performance mixes long-form improvisation with classic characters from the show, new locations and situations, and audience suggestions. Produced by Jonathan Silver.
Saturdays at 11:30pm, January 9 – 30, 2010. Tickets are $10; Rated R. More info here
Sketch & Sniff: We sketched, now you sniff! Don’t miss SKETCH AND SNIFF if you enjoy watching awkward relationships unfold! Glimpses into romances, bromances, dysfunctional family moments, and uncomfortable office situations are just a few comic gems that S&S has to offer. Don’t miss out on this aromatic opportunity. Produced by Derick Lengwenus.
Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 10pm. Tickets are $10; Rated R. More info here
WHACK! The Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan Story, A Karaoke Musical: From the creators of the Tabloid Musical Series (including the Mary Kay Letourneau and Amy Fisher karaoke musicals) comes this delightful tale, just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver! Featuring tunes in the style of Disney, WHACK! delves deep behind the scenes to discover what REALLY lead up to the 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan’s knee. Tonya Harding – Crazy Psycho or Underestimated Heroine? Nancy Kerrigan – Perfect Princess or Evil Genius? You decide.
Produced by Gorilla Tango Theatre.
Thursdays at 9:30pm, January 21 – February 25, 2010. Tickets are $15; Rated R. More info here
Real Bro’s of DuPage County takes you on a journey of the Bro mind. From outrageous choices in clothing, to relationships and borderline sociopathy, Real Bro’s will knock your socks off with our roofie brand of comedy! Produced by Christian Weber
Saturdays at 10pm, January 23 & 30, 2010. Tickets are $10; Rated R. More info here
All photos except "QueenNancy" by Kelly Williams; "Queen Nancy" by Bryan Cohen.
Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.
— Pete Seeger
American women expect to find in their husbands a perfection that English women only hope to find in their butlers.
— W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge, 1943
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
— Margaret Mead
It hurts to find out that what you wanted doesn’t match what you dreamed it would be.
— Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic, 09-07-04
He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.
— Benjamin Franklin
A man without ambition is dead. A man with ambition but no love is dead. A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive. Having been alive, it won’t be so hard in the end to lie down and rest.
— Pearl Bailey
Character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self respect springs.
— Joan Didion, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem"
When you go to watch a quick 30 second video on YouTube and regain consciousness hours later having jumped from interesting video to interesting video.
Similar to a wikipedian loop or ‘WikiComa’
Clarence: "Dude, you totally missed the funeral yesterday!!"
T-dawg: "Yeah I know; somebody emailed me a funny clip and I got stuck in a YouTube loop…"
Rollicking fun, if not quite a glorious thing
Light Opera Works presents
reviewed by Leah A. Zeldes
One of the few professional Chicago companies to put on the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, Light Opera Works typically mounts one of their operettas each year, with just eight performances. This year, it’s a solid version of The Pirates of Penzance, one of the duo’s most popular comic operas, full of witty lines and catchy music.
It’s hard to imagine anyone coming away from a well-done production of almost any of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas without wanting to see more. Maybe it’s the "opera" in "comic opera" that scares people off. Maybe it’s the technical difficulty and expense of producing shows that require skilled orchestras and large, talented choruses. Whatever it is, it’s rare that Chicagoans get to see these classics done with the splendor they deserve.
Light Opera Works does a satisfying but not thrilling job of "Pirates," one of the funniest and most timeless of the G&S canon. Its characteristically silly plot revolves around Frederic, an apprentice pirate. Meant to be articled to a ship’s pilot, he was instead mistakenly indentured to a pirate by his hard-of-hearing nursery maid. The dutiful young man has served diligently in the rather soft-hearted pirate band, but now his term of service is up, and he means to dedicate himself to wiping out his former comrades.
He becomes more determined after he meets Major-General Stanley’s bevy of beautiful daughters, whom the lovelorn pirate crew tries to kidnap, and falls in love with the intrepid Mabel. But then, the pirate king points out a technicality that means Frederic’s contract to the pirates is still in force. Delightful songs and comic shenanigans ensue.
A highlight of the production, bass-baritone Michael Cavalieri looks too amiable to be a Pirate King, but he gives us a glorious "Oh, better far to live and die." Musical theater veteran James Harms is the very model of a Major-General Stanley, effortlessly delivering the centerpiece patter song in fine comic style.
As in many productions, this crowd-pleaser gets a speeded-up reprise, although this one rather insults audiences. It’s usual to hint the meaning of the couplet, "In short, when I’ve a smattering of elemental strategy — / You’ll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee," by having the singers mime riding horseback on the final rhyme, but when Harms repeats the line, he sings, "never sat a horse" — as if we were too dumb to get it the first time.
Other than that, Director Rudy Hogenmiller steers mercifully clear of modernizing, while aiming at very broad comedy. The police force, for instance, comes straight out of the Keystone Kops. Bass Frank M. DeVincentis, both vocally and comically perfect as the Sergeant of Police, does a bang-up job with "When a felon’s not engaged in his employment."
Tenor Matthew Giebel brings an excellent voice to Frederic. As Mabel, Alicia Berneche trills her way through "Poor wandering one!" and "Stay, Frederic, stay!" at high coloratura pitch. All of the women sound a bit shrill, even the dashing Barbara Landis in the contralto role of Ruth, Frederic’s nurse turned piratical maid of all work.
Conductor Roger L. Bingaman’s largely workmanlike musical direction stumbles here and there. The orchestra doesn’t excite, and harmonizing, in songs like "When you had left our pirate fold," sung by Landis, Giebel and Cavalieri, isn’t all that it could be. The choristers do fine work, though, with particularly clear enunciation in numbers like "How beautifully blue the sky."
Hogenmiller’s dance sequences sometimes seem cluttered, but that only adds to the fun. Jill Van Brussel‘s costumes shine, particularly the colorful pirates’ garb. Tom Burch‘s cut-out sets neither add much nor detract.
Overall, the flaws of this production are far outweighed by its successes, together with the sheer brilliance of the original score and script. If it’s not the glittering production that Gilbert and Sullivan fans yearn for, it’s still loads of fun and good enough to inspire G&S newcomers to want more.
Are you listening, Chicago thespians?
The Tribune’s Chris Jones announces Top 10 Plays of 2009
10. Stud Terkel’s Not Working – Second City e.t.c.
Chris Jones’ list of 10 shows that “should have made the list”
Desire Under the Elms – Goodman Theatre
Little Foxes – Shattered Globe Theatre
Miss Saigon – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Old Glory – Writers’ Theatre
Our Lady of the Underpass – Teatro Vista Theatre
Rock ‘n’ Roll – Goodman Theatre
Twelfth Night – Chicago Shakespeare Theatre
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – Marriott Theatre
Chicagoland servicemen ring in the new year at the Goodman
WITH FREE TICKETS TO A CHRISTMAS CAROL ON DECEMBER 31
To celebrate the brave men and women in the armed forces, Goodman Theatre will provide over 500 free tickets to its closing day performance of A Christmas Carol on New Years Day (2pm). The local servicemen and their families invited to attend include companies deploying to Afghanistan in January. The audience will be rocking to the holiday spirit with the music of Chicago band, Fair Herald, in the Goodman’s lobby prior to the performance. Community Day is coordinated by Goodman Theatre Director of Education and Community Engagement and U.S. Navy veteran Willa J. Taylor.
"There’s not a single person on the Goodman’s staff or stage who does not recognize the tremendous sacrifices military families make each day," said Willa J. Taylor, Director of Education and Community Engagement. "It is especially difficult during the holidays; as a U.S. Navy vet, I understand it firsthand. This performance, this celebration is just one small thing Goodman could do to say ‘thank you’ to all the men and women serving their country both here and abroad, and to support the families who love them."
The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.
— Dee Hock
Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.
— Native American Proverb
Content makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.
— Benjamin Franklin
One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
If I had my life to live over… I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
— Nadine Stair
It is cruel to discover one’s mediocrity only when it is too late.
— W. Somerset Maugham, ‘Of Human Bondage’, 1915
Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay etc, especially if you haven’t sold it yet. And the ones that aren’t, you don’t want in your life anyway.
— Hugh Macleod, How To Be Creative: 22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.
Urban Dictionary – words for the Holidays
Gift Parasite – A person who adds their name to a gift tag in order to claim partial credit for giving the gift.
I’m totally broke so I had to be a gift parasite and sign on that present you’re giving Grandma.
santaclaustrophobia – fear of too many santa clauses
He felt a bout of santaclaustrophobia coming upon him as the holiday season approached.