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

"The Strangerer" moving to New York

Theater Oobleck’s acclaimed production of Mickle Maher’s The Strangerer will conclude an extended Chicago run on June 29 before taking the show to New York for performances at the Barrow Street Theatre in the West Village, beginning July 9, 2008. Here is an scene from this productions:

 

Produced by Theater Oobleck, in association with the Barrow Street Theatre, the production is slated for an initial six-week run and will feature original Chicago cast members Guy Massey, Mickle Maher, Colm O’Reilly, and Brian Shaw.

June 22, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Review – "Hizzoner" at Beverly Arts Center

[This review submitted by Michael Fielding, editor of SouthwestObserver.com]

Hizzoner_button “This is a city of neighborhoods,” barks Neil Giuntoli, the man who has resurrected this city’s first big Daley, Richard J. “I can’t go changing the way people think.”

So begins Giuntoli’s production of “Hizzoner,” now staging an encore run at the Beverly Arts Center through Sunday.

The two-hour memory play chronicles the second half of the elder Daley’s 21-year run as mayor – a time that saw the rise of both Jesse Jackson and Jane Byrne, of his legendary bouts with the press (namely the late columnist Mike Royko), of the taut 1968 Democratic convention and of the rise and fall of the neighborhood pals invited into Daley’s inner circle.

It’s a portrait of the ethnic street gangs all grown up and inhabiting the penthouse of municipal politics – City Hall – at a time when the city’s Irish, Italians, Czechs, Polish and the rest found solace in their shared backgrounds and rewarded loyal behavior with honest-to-goodness patronage.

“Hizzoner” opened at Prop Thtr on the North Side nearly two years ago, but despite the city’s fascination with the Daley dynasty as a whole, there’s no doubt the production is at home in Beverly. In this city of neighborhoods, there’s only one place where they don’t ask what neighborhood you grew up in but what parish you grew up in. That’s right here on the South Side. Giuntoli’s characterization of Daley as the prolific altar boy no doubt is appreciated here more than anywhere else in Chicago.

He is at home in the heart of the city’s 19th Ward, where, to this day, there are politics behind the politics, and anyone who knows what’s good for him doesn’t miss Sunday Mass.

Giuntoli, a burly veteran actor and Prop founder, is startling in his bits of “Da Mare’s” legendary outbursts. He clenches his mouth, frowns and slams a fist or points willfully at his target. He turns red – intensely red – and explodes. It’s a superb, inimitable performance. Royko himself is said to have written that Daley exhibited a “blend of smile and scowl,” and Giuntoli has resurrected Daley’s mannerisms to near-perfection, almost eerily, in fact.

The ghost of William J. Daley still lingers in the shadows of the city’s high rises and in the dark corners of Machine offices. He haunts Chicago from City Hall to Cabrini-Green. And he comes alive every time Giuntoli emerges into the spotlight.

Giuntoli interprets well the contradiction between Daley’s no-nonsense South Side values and his belligerent encounters with his adversaries.

The result is a portrait of a man who is flawed and complex but remains bigger than life. And although I’m convinced that Giuntoli has created a drama sprinkled with bits of comedy, Friday night’s Beverly Arts Center audience disagreed, punctuating much of the performance with fits of laughter that were broken only briefly by moments of solemn silence. (Seriously, there was even laughter after the shoot-to-kill order during the riots following the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) But let’s agree to disagree.

Daley himself was a man of contradictions, at once stoic and unpredictable, gregarious and introverted. Yet he was far from the tyrant his critics have long suggested, Giuntoli suggests. Rather, Daley himself was burdened by the anxiety of not completely being in control of his city.

Giuntoli doesn’t feign the tears that well up behind the thick spectacles when he relates to an audience member the nights he spent with his sons at Comiskey Park. They’re real, those tears. And so are the trivial outbursts that pop like firecrackers throughout the performance.

Although Giuntoli’s renowned performances have attracted admirers from across the country, the play as a whole – and a couple of its actors – need some work. It is set almost entirely in the mayor’s office, which is fine, but it lacks a cohesiveness, a flow, that might move it along more efficiently between scenes.

In particular, Gordon Gillespie, who plays Earl Bush, Daley’s press secretary, adds too many theatrics to his performance, coming off more vaudevillian than anything else and seeming oddly out of place. Yet William Bullion (City Clerk Matt Danaher and Daley’s patronage coordinator) and Whit Spurgeon (Ald. Tom Keane) turn in notable performances as the Daley loyalists eventually charged with corruption. “Hizzoner” is a play whose characters should be understated. Let the motives of the characters speak for themselves, the philosophy goes, and act as if you’re performing in a closet with an audience of three.

Most of Giuntoli’s cast understands that – and that likely is the reason the production still has plenty of gas.

Giuntoli also cleverly uses multimedia effects (including audio clips and raw video footage) that, when paired with his full use of the stage and house (actors playing reporters during press conference scenes pop up in the aisles), make for an intelligent production.

You might love him, or you might hate him, but if you don’t understand Richard J. Daley, you’re probably not from Chicago.

“Hizzoner” –  written by Neil Giuntoli and directed by Stefan Brun – runs through June 29th, and seats are still available. For ticket information call (773) 445-3838 or visit www.beverlyartcenter.org.  For general info regarding the play, visit www.hizzonertheplay.com.

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June 19, 2008 | 3 Comments More

Sunday Night Sondheim: ‘Old Friends’

“Old Friends” from “Merrily We Roll Along” – sung by George Hearn and Carol Burnett, with John Barrowman, Ruthie Henshall and Bronson Pinchot.

Here is the finale from the Sondheim revue “Putting It Together”.  (One comment however – what’s up with that god-awful set?  Looks like George’s ‘Chromolume #13″!!)

June 15, 2008 | 0 Comments More

"Beggars" extended thru July 6th

Due to high demand, Mary Arrchie Theatre’s excellent production of Beggars in The House of Plenty has extended their run thru July 6th.  Beggars, by the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning John Patrick Shanley, is a deeply autobiographical work – a surreal comedy, packed with the wit, insight, confusion, laughter and pain that only family can bring. At once vulgar, poetic and brutally honest, the play leads us on a journey through Shanley’s childhood in the Bronx of the mid-1950’s to the turbulent late 60’s and finally the perspective of adulthood.

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Nina Metz, of the Chicago Tribune, offered these praises:

“the performances here are worth seeing, particularly Daniel Behrendt as Joey, a swaggering, unpredictable force who is charming and dicey and ultimately crushed by forces that Shanley (Carlo Lorenzo Garcia, tender and rough around the edges) was better equipped to escape. Mary Jo Bolduc plays Ma, and she has just the right flat accent and abrasiveness.”

And ChicagoCritic.com added:

“…Carlo Lorenzo Garcia, Karl Potthoff and Daniel Behrendt anchor the excellent ensemble. This play will shake your world.”

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More information can be found at the Mary-Arrchie Theatre website.

Also, check out this week’s Talk! TheatreInChicago podcast for an interview regarding ‘Beggars’!

June 13, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Steppenwolf’s "AOC" – National Tour planned

A scene from Broadway's 'August Osage County The producers of the Purlitzer Prize winning, 7-time Tony-nominated August: Osage County, written by Chicago playwright Tracy Letts (and directed by Steppenwolf’s Anne D. Shapiro), have just announced that they will be mounting a national tour of the play in 2009,

The tour’s first stop will be San Francisco’s Curran Theatre, August 11th-September 6th, 2009.  Subsequent 2009 engagements have yet to be announced.

Although August premiered here in Chicago, and enjoyed a sold-out extended run at Steppenwolf Theatre, I’m hoping that the tour will make a pit stop back in the Windy City.  I would definitely love to see it again!

August: Osage County can currently be seen on Broadway at The Music Box Theatre on 45th Street.  More info is available here.

June 12, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Non-Equity Jeff Awards Winners

Looks like there were a few big winners at the Non-Equity Jeff Awards given out last night, including 5 total awards given to Lifeline Theatre for The Island of Dr. Moreau. Another 4 awards were given to Theo Ubique for their intimate production of Cabaret.

Special Non-Equity Jeff Awards were given out to Raven Theatre’s founders – Michael Menendian and JoAnn Montemurro.

Congratulations to all!

 

Non-Equity Jeff Awards Winners

Production – Play
The Island of Dr. MoreauLifeline Theatre

Production – Musical
Jerry Springer – The OperaBailiwick Repertory Theatre
1776Signal Ensemble Theatre

Ensemble
MachosTeatro Luna

Director – Play
Greg KolackcolumbinusRaven Theatre

Director – Musical
Fred AnzevinoCabaretTheo Ubique Theatre Company i/a/w Beverle Bloch & Michael James

New Work
Teatro Luna & Coya PazMachos – Teatro Luna

New Adaptation
Robert KauzlaricThe Island of Dr. Moreau – Lifeline Theatre

Actress in a Principal Role – Musical
Elizabeth LanzaCan-CanCircle Theatre

Actress in a Principal Role – Play
Vanessa GreenwayThe Constant WifeGriffin Theatre Company

Actor in a Principal Role – Musical
Jeremy TragerCabaret – Theo Ubique Theatre Company i/a/w Beverle Bloch & Michael James

Actor in a Principal Role – Play
Sam WoottenGross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar WildeBohemian Theatre Ensemble

Actress in a Supporting Role – Musical
Danielle BrothersCabaret – Theo Ubique Theatre Co. i/a/w Beverle Bloch & Michael James

Actress in a Supporting Role – Play
Kathleen RuhlDolly West’s KitchenTimeLine Theatre Company

Actor in a Supporting Role – Musical
Jeremy RillJerry Springer – The Opera – Bailiwick Repertory Theatre

Actor in a Supporting Role – Play
Hans FleischmannIn a Dark Dark HouseProfiles Theatre
Ron WellsA Prayer for My DaughterMary-Arrchie Theatre Company

Scenic Design
Michael Menendian & Leif OlsenThe Night of the Iguana – Raven Theatre

Costume Design
Elizabeth Shaffer An Ideal Husband – Circle Theatre

Lighting Design
Kevin D. GawleyThe Island of Dr. Moreau – Lifeline Theatre

Sound Design
Stephen PtacekFaster – the side project

Choreography
Brenda DidierThe Life – Bohemian Theatre Ensemble

Original Incidental Music
Victoria DeIorioThe Island of Dr. Moreau – Lifeline Theatre
Gregor Mortis & Mikhail Fiksel A Lie of the MindStrawdog Theatre Company
Kevin O’Donnell The NutcrackerThe House Theatre of Chicago

Music Direction
Joshua Stephen Kartes Cabaret – Theo Ubique Theatre Co i/a/w Beverle Bloch & Michael James

Mask Design
Kimberly G. MorrisThe Island of Dr. Moreau – Lifeline Theatre

June 10, 2008 | 0 Comments More