Raven Theatre announces 2008/09 Season

Michael Menendian announces Raven Theatre’s 2008/2009 Season, which includes Stephen Adly Guirgis’ searing Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, the world premiere of Tom Patrick’s darkly comic Misamerica, and Jon Robin Baitz’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic Hedda Gabler.  Raven kicks off the season with a “Stark Raven Mad!” Gala Celebration on Friday, August 1.  Season subscriptions are available for just $50.  Visit www.raventheatre.com or call 773-338-2177.  

Raven Theatre announces 26th Season:

A powerful prison Drama, a World-Premiere, and an Ibsen classic.


Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train
by Stephen Adly Guirgis
directed by Michael Menendian

Raven begins its 26th season with the playwright responsible for The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Our Lady of 121st StreetGuirgis’ plays mine his conflicted youth (attending Catholic parochial school in Harlem) to combine spiritual and religious themes with the rough streets of New York.  His plays are controversial and at times ferocious, but also stimulating and fiercely intelligent, inspiring audiences to question and debate long after they leave the theatre.  Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train centers on Angel Cruz, a young Latino man in jail for shooting a religious cult leader.  Also in prison is an infamous, born-again serial killer who raises the question:  Is faith enough to save those who have not practiced what they believe?

October 7 – December 6, 2008


A world-premier by Tom Patrick
directed by Greg Kolak

Somewhere in the Mid-east, in the near future, an entrepreneurial American corporation is ready to tackle the next big market.  Basic supplies are hard to come by and dangerous fighting continues throughout the area, but Starbucks and McDonald’s are popping up everywhere, and the Operation American Sole sandal company isn’t about to miss out.  A darkly humorous tale of American hubris, Misamerica takes an unapologetic look at our country’s policies and priorities.

January 27 – March 28, 2009


Hedda Gabler
By Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Jon Robin Baitz
directed by Michael Menendian

Ibsen’s masterpiece depicts a woman’s inevitable road to tragedy.  Hedda has recently married a kind and reliable yet unexciting scholar.  She is visited by two old acquaintances:  a female schoolmate and another scholar.  The former has saved the latter from an unsavory lifestyle, helping him find success as a writer; Hedda is resentful both of his talent and her schoolmate’s influence on it.  Out of jealousy and boredom, she proceeds to destroy each of the people around her, and finally herself.  Is Hedda a heroine, a villain, a victim… or all of the above?

April 28 – June 27, 2009


Raven Theatre

Founded in 1983, Raven Theatre is dedicated to breathing new life into American classics and exploring other works that illuminate the American experience.  In addition to its regular season, Raven produces a Workshop Series of new and experimental productions, as well as a Youth Program, including teaching partnerships with various Chicago Public Schools, summer youth classes and original children’s shows performed at Raven Theatre.

Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, Polk Bros. Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, Yates-Feldman Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Prince Charitable Trust, The Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation, The Alphawood Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Northern Trust Centennial Fund, S & C Electric Company, The Department of Cultural Affairs, CityArtsIII, a city agency, and The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation.


Raven Theatre, located at 6157 N. Clark Street, just blocks from the Granville Redline stop. Free parking is available at the theatre, and plentiful street parking is also available.
July 1, 2008 | 0 Comments More

2008 High School Tony Awards (Parody)

In case you missed this year’s highly-competitive High School Tony Awards – here’s a synopsis:

June 30, 2008 | 1 Comment More

Polarity Ensemble seeks playwrights for Dionysos Cup

Polarity Ensemble Theatre invites Chicago area playwrights to submit unproduced full length plays in competition for the Dionysos Cup 2008. The festival will feature a script development process including staged readings of four new works. Mail your script to Polarity Ensemble Theatre, 135 Asbury Avenue , Evanston , IL 60202 . Postmark deadline is July 20, 2008. Please see www.petheatre.com for full submission details.

June 30, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Sunday Sondheim – "Everybody’s Got The Right" from "Assassins"

Here is “Everybody’s Got The Right” from Sondheim’s Assassins  performed at the 2004 Tony Awards.  Included in the cast: Neil Patrick Harris, Dennis O’Hare and Michael Cerveris.

June 29, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Review: "Relatively Close" at Victory Gardens

Review written by Jackie Ingram.

RelativelyClose3 Victory Gardens’s Relatively Close, written by James Sherman and directed by Dennis Začek is – by all judgments – an excellent production. The theatre is beautiful, so forget about bringing your binoculars, because from any seat you have a great view of the ingenious set, designed by John Stark. Relatively Close takes us into the lives of three sisters, domineering Jan (Penny Slusher), sexy Beth (Laura T. Fisher), and shy Marlene (Wendi Weber).  The sisters must decide in one week how to settle their deceased parent’s summer home. The sisters and their husbands, a doll, and what seems to be an angry teenager completes the fresh, hilarious, and very talented cast. The relationships are easy to relate to and you are slowly pulled into their web of bantering, lies, hip-hop, electrifying rhythmic poetry, Lily, and the lust for another sister’s husband. The unexpected twists and turns keep you guessing right until the end. Do yourself a favor – to get the entertainment pleasure of this show you must see it for yourself. It is funny and heartwarming and you might just see a little bit of your own family on stage. This show is truly a must see event.

Rating: ««««

The three sisters for 'Relatively Close' - Penny Slusher, Laura T. Fisher, and Wendi Weber)

The cast of 'Relatively Close'


Production Relatively Close
Producers: Victory Gardens
Playwright James Sherman
Directed By: Dennis Zacek
Starring: Usman Ally (Yousef), Daniel Cantor (Ron), Laura T. Fisher (Beth), David Gonzales (Dylan), Penny Slusher, (Jan), Wendi Weber (Marlene), Dexter Zollicoffer (Arthur)
Set Design: John Stark
Costumes: Christine Pascual
Lighting: Julie Mack
Sound: Andre Pluess
Stage Manager: Tina M. Jach
More information: www.victorygardens.org


June 27, 2008 | 0 Comments More

ComedySportz – free tickets for service members

On July 3rd and 4th, ComedySportz Theatre, located at 929 Belmont, just east of the Belmont red-line stop, is offering free admission to active and veteran service members including police, firefighters, and government officials, to honor their service to their country. Service men and women can call ComedySportz’s box office and reserve one free ticket to see their current main stage show “ComedySportz.” To commemorate the event, cast member Sara Wolfson will be singing the national anthem before every show and a portion of the proceeds from these shows will be donated to the North Chicago VA Medical Center.

ComedySportz Schedule

July 3rd – 8pm

July 4th – 8 and 10pm

For more information, contact the ComedySportz box-office at 773-549-8080, or go to www.comedysportzchicago.com.

"Star Spangled Banner" at ComedySportz Chicago

June 26, 2008 | 1 Comment More

Goodman Theatre’s top-notch recruitments

In the world of professional sports (and college sports for that matter), recruitment is everything.  Entire sportscasts are dedicated to the subject of  which team has recruited which top sports talent.  Additionally, successful recruitment is often accredited to successful seasons.

Though the arts are often caricatured as the antithesis of sports, ironically, recruitment of artistic talent can be just as important to successful theatre seasons as they are in sports..

For their upcoming season, the Goodman Theatre has snatched up (i.e. recruited) a number of creative stars:

  • Anna Shapiro – fresh from her Tony Award for August: Osage County, will direct the world premiere of Regina Taylor’s new play, Magnolia, a contemporary take on Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. (production dates: March 14-April 19, 2009)
  • Jeff Daniels, known for his roles in Terms of Endearment” and “The Purple Rose of Cairo”, has been signed on to star in the world premiere musical-fantasy Turn of the Century, by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.  (Production dates: September 19-October 26, 2008 )
  • Broadway legend Tommy Tune (9-time Tony Award winner) has been recruited to direct Turn of the Century.  Broadway veteran Rachel York has been cast as the play’s female lead.

I have great confidence that Goodman’s top-notch recruiting will secure a very successful season, both artistically and financially.

h/t Hedy Weiss

June 23, 2008 | 1 Comment More

Sunday Night Sondheim – "Talent" from "Bounce"

Although Bounce has (somewhat deservedly) received a bad rap, there are a number of exemplary song from the show, my favorite one being “Talent”, sung on this YouTube video by the charismatic Gavin Creel, which is set in a train car, making its way to Boca Raton, FL. I really love the superb orchestrations that unobtrusively mimic the sound of the train rolling down the tracks.


June 22, 2008 | 0 Comments More