Goodman announces cast for “Ain’t Misbehavin”

Chicago's Goodman Theatre presents 'Ain't Misbehavin' in their main theatre during the month of July 2008.The Goodman Theatre has just announced the casting for there summer production of Ain’s Misbehavin’, directed by Chuck Smith. The cast will include five of Chicago’s foremost musical theatre names – E. Faye Butler (Purlie), John Steven Crowley (Crowns), Alexis Rogers (Black Nativity), Parrish Collier and Lina Kernan.  Additionally, Linda Buchanan has been hired as set designer, who reportedly will transform the 856-seat Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre into a grandiose period concert hall, featuring an eight-piece band led by music director Malcolm Ruhl. 

The band will include Peter Benson (piano), Larry Bowen (trumpet), Y.L. Douglas (drums) Anderson Edwards (bass), T.S. Galoway (trombone), Jarrard Harris (tenor sax/clarinet), Stephen Leinheiser (alto sax/clarinet) and Malcolm Ruhl (guitar and conductor).

The design team and additional artists for Ain’t Misbehavin’ include Birgit Rattenborg Wise (costumes), Robert Christen (lighting), Josh Horvath and Ray Nardelli (sound) and Lisa Willingham-Johnson (choreographer). 

Ain’t Misbehavin’ opened first as a cabaret act, quickly followed by a Broadway run of over 1,600 performances and numerous awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical. 

From the Goodman Theatre:

“Born in Harlem in 1904, Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller remains one of the most influential stride piano players, having written more than 450 songs and recorded over 500 sides during his career. He wrote his first composition at age 14, and became a professional pianist the very next year – playing with legendary artists such as Fletcher Henderson and Jack Teagarden, Alberta Hunter and Bessie Smith. He became famous performing a combination of his own music and music written by others. After Waller’s death in 1943, his influence waned and his legacy faded into the historical background for over three decades. In 1978, theatre artists Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr., generated renewed attention and interest in Waller with their creation Ain’t Misbehavin’, through which they paid tribute to Waller’s contributions to American music and highlighted the best aspects of the Harlem nightclub revues of the 1920s and ’30s.”

Ain’s Misbehavin’ will run this summer at Goodman’s Albert Ivar Theatre from June 21st through July 27th.   For more information, go to Goodman’s website.

(Hat tip to Playbill.com)

June 2, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Review: Infusion Theatre’s “Intrigue With Faye”

Kean (Steve O’Connell) comforts his girlfriend Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) to assuage her fears that she cannot count on anyoneProduction: Intrigue With Faye
Producers: Infusion Theatre

Set-up: Intrigue With Faye explores the intimate world of an urban couple whe reach an impasse in their relationship when an infidelity is revealed.  Determined to repair their broken trust, documentary filmmaker Kean proposes to therapist Lissa that they videotape their every move.  Through this videotaping and self-analyzing and reflection, the couple attempts to heal the mistrust and co-dependency that pervades their relationship. 

StrengthsIntruge With Faye’s video effects are pretty cool.  The two leads, Steve O’Connell as Kean and Kate Tummelson as Lissa are gifted actors, and it’s notable that – depsite the fact that Tummelson is the understudy – you never would have known it.  Mitch Golob’s directing skills are adeptly displayed by his ability to keep the production’s focus directly on the two leads, despite the surrounding multimedia bells-and-whistles.   

Weaknesses: Though O’Connell and Tummelson do an exemplary job with their roles, this unfortunately does not allay the fact that their characters are quite uninteresting, especially once they plunge into the seemingly endless videotaping and sef-analyzing imbroglio.  Indeed, it’s interesting to note that the most piquant roles in Intrigue With Faye. 

Summary: This Infusion Theatre Company, now in it’s second year, has set out for itself a very valient and exciting mission: bringing in a new audience of theatre goers through the use of multi-media in telling its stories on stage. Though InFusion’s multi-media themed productions are a breath of fresh air towards Chicago theatre’s pursuit of a wider audience, Intrigue With Faye does not prove to be the best material towards this endeavor.  Slightly recommended.

Rating: ««½

 

Production:

Intrigue With Faye

Playwright:

Kate Robin

Director:

Mitch Golob

Featuring:

Steve O’Connell (Kean), Leah Nuetzel (Lissa), Kate Tummelson (Lissa – understudy), James Farrugio (Frank), Dan Flannery and Marueen Tolman Flannery (married couple), Callie Munson (Tina), Kevin Stark (male patient) and Leah Wagner (Faye)

Design Team:

Lucas Merino (Video Design), Chelsea Meyers (Scenic Design), Michael Smallwood (Lighting Design), Scotty Iseri (Sound Design), Christine Pascual (Costume Design), James Gibson (Props Design)

Technical Team:

Bridgette O’Connor (Assistant Director, Production Manager), Tara Malpass (Stage Manager), Jamie Bragg (Dramaturg), Blair Robertson (Casting Director)

Coming next:

Midwest premiere of Rhymes With Evil (Oct 16 –Nov 23)

More info:

www.InfusionTheatre.com

 

 Kean (Steve O’Connell) breaks the romantic moment with Lissa (Leah Nuetzel)

Kean (Steve O’Connell) breaks the romantic moment with Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) by checking the mail, in InFusion Theatre Company’s Midwest premiere of “Intrigue With Faye” by Kate Robin of “Six Feet Under”.

 Kean (Steve O’Connell) attempts to comfort Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) after missing their date, in InFusion Theatre Company’s Midwest premiere of “Intrigue With Faye” by “Six Feet Under’s” Kate Robin, running April 17 – June 1, 2008, at the Royal George Theatre Gallery Space, 1641 N. Halsted St. in Chicago.  Tickets at 312-988-9000, and info at www.infusiontheatre.com  Photo by Johnny Knight.

Kean (Steve O’Connell) attempts to comfort Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) after missing their date

Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) turns the camera on her boyfriend Kean (Steve O’Connell) to stop him from cheating on her

Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) turns the camera on her boyfriend Kean (Steve O’Connell) to stop him from cheating on her

 Kean (Steve O’Connell) explains to his girlfriend Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) that she should give their relationship another chance (by putting their lives on tape)

Kean (Steve O’Connell) explains to his girlfriend Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) that she should give their relationship another chance (by putting their lives on tape)

Kean (Steve O’Connell) pleads with his girlfriend Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) to give their relationship another chance (by putting their lives on tape)

Kean (Steve O’Connell) pleads with his girlfriend Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) to give their relationship another chance (by putting their lives on tape)

Kean (Steve O’Connell) comforts his girlfriend Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) to assuage her fears that she cannot count on anyone

Kean (Steve O’Connell) comforts his girlfriend Lissa (Leah Nuetzel) to assuage her fears that she cannot count on anyone

May 30, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Steppenwolf announces 2008/09 Season

Steppenwolf Theatre has just announced its upcoming season; the common theme being the exploration of imagination:

Kafka on the Shore
September 18 – November 16, 2008
Adapted for the stage and directed by ensemble member Frank Galati
Based on the work by Haruki Murakami

A young boy’s coming of age parallels an old man’s search for destiny in a modern day Japan where the borders between everyday reality, dreams and imagination are constantly crossed. In this world premiere adaptation of the popular novel, encounter talking cats on the streets of Tokyo, World War II soldiers trapped in time, Colonel Sanders and Johnnie Walker. Experience the unexpected in this fantastical tale about waking up to your own life.


The Seafarer
December 4, 2008 – February 8, 2009
By Conor McPherson
Featuring ensemble member John Mahoney

It’s Christmas Eve in Dublin. In the rundown house where Sharky cares for his blind brother, old acquaintances gather for a card game-joined by an ominous stranger. As the booze flows and the game intensifies, Sharky discovers he is playing for his soul. In this eerie, darkly humorous tale, celebrated playwright Conor McPherson (who also wrote “Shining City”) examines how we face the demons of our past as we struggle to find redemption.


Art
February 5 – June 7, 2009
By Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton

Art explores the intricacies of a long-term friendship between three men. When one of them drops a fortune on a piece of modern art, his friends’ surprising reactions touch off a series of personal confrontations. This witty, intelligent and often funny play explores the power of art to engage the imagination and the enduring bonds of friendship.

FYI: French playwright Yasmina Reza won the 1997 Olivier Award and the 1998 Tony Award for Art, which has been produced worldwide and translated into over 30 languages. British playwright Christopher Hampton won an Academy Award for the screen adaptation of his play Dangerous Liaisons and was nominated for his adaptation of Atonement.


The Tempest
March 26 – May 24, 2009
By William Shakespeare
Directed by ensemble member Tina Landau
Featuring ensemble member Frank Galati

In Shakespeare’s final work, Prospero is exiled to an enchanted island where he harnesses the powers of magic and masters the spirits that dwell there. His desire for revenge drives him to conjure a mighty storm trapping his enemies on the island. In our first Shakespeare production, Steppenwolf ensemble member Tina Landau re-imagines this magical tale of art, freedom and the transformative power of forgiveness.

Up
June 18 – August 23, 2009
By Bridget Carpenter
Directed by ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro

On the best day of his life, Walter built a flying machine that reached the clouds. Ever since, he’s tried to invent new ways to fly while his wife keeps the family afloat. Up is a quirky, bittersweet tale about escaping the boundaries of the everyday and how we dream ourselves into a future.

May 30, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Remy Bumppo announces 2008/09 season

Remy Bumppo 2008/09 Season

 

The Voysey Inheritance

by Harley Granville-Barker

adapted by David Mamet

directed by James Bohnen

featuring Artistic Associate David Darlow

David Mamet’s sleek adaptation of Granville-Barker’s 1905 play feels as if it were written yesterday.  When Edward Voysey learns of his father’s corrupt dealings within the family business, he knows there is only one ethical solution.  But his moral stance conflicts with his siblings’ fierce defense of their incomes and the family name.  This drama of manners marries the wit and passionate dialogue of George Bernard Shaw with the ethical conflics of Arthur Miller.

September 18 – November 2, 2008

 

 

The Marriage of Figaro

by Beaumarchais

adapted by Ranjit Bolt

directed by Jonathan Berry

featuring Artistic Associates Greg Matthew Anderson and Annabel Armour

Ranjit Bolt, the adaptor of Remy Bumppo’s viciously comic Tartuffe, pens this retelling of Beaumarchais’ play made famous in opera form by Mozart.  The lustful Count Almaviva has set his affections on his wife’s chambermaid, who is also the fiancee of his valet, Figaro.  To protect his love, the cunning servant Figaro must outsmart his master.  His plotting reveals several other sexual games that culminate in a night of mistaken identities and deliciously funny farce.

November 13, 2008 – January 4, 2009

 

 

Old Times

by Harold Pinter

directed by James Bohnen

featuring Artistic Associates Linda Gillum and Nic Sandys

The season concludes with a masterpiece by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter.  The nature of truth, memory and ownership are questioned in this hauntingly provacative game of marital chess.  When a married couple receives an unexpected visit from an old roommate, the reunion sparks anything but pleasant conversation.  As they reminisce, inconsistencies are revealed, and one of the three becomes the desired possession in an impassioned war over control of the past.

April 23 – June 7, 2009

  

For more info on Remy Bumppo and the upcoming season, including subscriptions and ticket specials, call 773-244-8119, or go to www.remybumppo.org.

May 28, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Northlight Theatre announces 2008/09 season

 

Northlight  Theatre 2008/09 Season

 

Doctor Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher

Based on the novella by Robert Louis Stevenson

Directed by Jessica Thebus

What happened the night that Henry Jekyll died? Against the backdrop of Victorian London, the respected doctor has begun to display alarmingly erratic behavior toward his friends.  At the wsame time, a mysterious figure haunts the city’s streets under the cloak of the London fog.  This fiendishly clever and theatrically innovative new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale is a smart, psychological thriller that delights in revealing the many faces of Edward Hyde.

September 17 – October 26, 2008

 

 

Grey Gardens

Book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, lyrics by Michael Korie

Directed by BJ Jones

Musical direction by Doug Peck

Rub elbows with Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter “Little Edie,” – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ most scandalous relatives!  Once the highest of high society, the two have become East Hampton’s most notorious recluses, living in a dilapidated 28-room mansion with 51 cats for company.  Set in two eras – 1941 when the celebrated estate was the picture of wealth and sophistication, and 1973 after it had been reduced to squalor – Grey Gardens is a brilliant and heartbreaking look at two indomitable women.

November 12 – December 21, 2008

 

 

Po Boy Tango

By Kenneth Lin

Translated by Martin Crimp

Directed by Chay Yew

A celebration of the human spirit and the joy of cooking, Po Boy Tango tells the story of Richie Po, a Chinese immigrant who turns to his estranged friend Gloria to help him recreate his mother’s “Great Banquet.”  Despite the challenges of shark fin soup, duck po boy sandwiches and underlying cultural tensions, Richie and Gloria find common ground through their shared humor and the blending of traditional Taiwanese cuisine and African American “Soul Food.”  Helped by lessons from Po Moma’s television cooking show, the two discover a deeper understanding of food, culture and the nature of friendship.

January 7   February 15, 2009

 

 

Mauritius

By Theresa Rebeck

Directed by Dexter Bullard

The stakes are high when half-sisters inherit a book of rare stamps that may include the “crown jewel” of the stamp-collection world.  The battle for possession takes a dangerous turn when three rival collectors enter the sisters’ world, willing to go to any lengths to stake their claim on the find.  Combining the best aspects of Hitchcock, Chandler and Mamet, “Mauritius” is a gripping blend of sharp comedy and heart-pounding drama that simmers with constant surprise.

February 25 – April 5, 2009

 

 

The Lieutenant of Inishmore

By Martin McDonagh

Directed by BJ Jones

“Wee Thomas” the cat has been killed.  What’s worse, he was the beloved pet of Padraic – a ruthless Irish hitman who considers the IRA “too soft.”  As the folks back home fight over who has to break the bad news, the violence escalates – recalling Shakespeare and Quentin Tarantino at their bloody best.  A few murders, several dismemberments and a smattering of cow mutilations later, all is finally right with the world again.  Or is it?  In this wickedly funny black comedy from the author of “The Cripple of Inishmaan”, “A Skull in Connemara” and the recent film “In Bruges”, McDonagh considers the implications of outrageous reactions to small misunderstandings.

April 29   June 7, 2009

 

For more information, call 847-673-6300, or go to www.northlight.org

May 25, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Writers’ Theatre announces 2008/09 season

Writer’s Theatre 2008/09 Season

Nixon’s Nixon

By Russell Lees

Directed by Michael Halberstam

Featuring William Brown and Larry Yando

Just in time for the elections, we bring back our critically acclaimed, award-winning production of Nixon’s Nixon. This box office record-breaking production returns to our most intimate theatre for a limited engagement. Artistic Director Michael Halberstam will once again direct William Brown and Larry Yando as they reprise their tour-de-force performances as Kissinger and Nixon in this thrilling, hilarious and brilliantly imagined story of what might have happened in the Lincoln sitting room the night before Nixon resigned.

September 16 – November 16, 2008

 

 

Picnic

By William Inge

Directed by David Cromer

When a charismatic young drifter arrives in a small Kansas town on the eve of a Labor Day picnic, the simmering repressions of its residents come rapidly to a boil. Frequently hilarious and profoundly mo ing, Inge’s masterpiece chronicles the hopes and despairs that lie between the realization of adulthood and the eternal optimism of youth. This American classic is staged by Chicago’s own David Cromer, whose previous work for Writers’ Theatre includes The Price and Booth, and whose highly acclaimed production of The Adding Machine is enjoying a successful run in New York.

September 16 – November 16, 2008

 

 

The Maids

By Jean Genet

Translated by Martin Crimp

Directed by Jimmy McDermott

When the mistress is away, the maids will play. Two women in service to a younger socialite pass the moments of their day in play-acting and fantasy. As the line between fantasy and reality begins to disintegrate, their games take a deadly turn. Jealousy, resentment, sexual tension and murder converge in this 1947 classic French thriller. Jimmy McDermott, one of the city’s most exciting young directors, brings his trademark edginess to this seminally rebellious play.

November 18 , 2008 – April 5, 2009

 

 

A Christmas Carol

By Charles Dickens

Adapted & Performed by Michael Halberstam

Artistic Director Michael Halberstam masterfully recreates the greatest ghost story ever written with his tour-de-force solo performance of Ebenzer Scrooge’s journey over the course of one magical Christmas Eve. Now in its 13th season, this holiday tradition has been extended to nine performances after last year’s sold-out run.

December 13 – 23, 2008

 

 

 

 

World Premiere!!

Old Glory

By Brett Neveu

Directed by William Brown

William Brown, director of last season’s triumphant As You Like It, turns his attention from the old to the new. One of the country’s hottest young playwrights, Brett Neveu, brings us the world premiere of Old Glory.This gripping drama in which a family confronts loss as a conseqwuence of war is brought intensely to life through Neveu’s direct yet poetic language. No government, no politics, just people. Razor sharp wit and fiercely emotional confrontation combine as this viscerally powerful mystery unfolds.

February 3 – March 29, 2009

 

 

 

 

World Premiere Musical!!

A Minister’s Wife

Music by Josh Schmidt, Lyrics by Jan Tranen

Adapted by Austin Pendleton

Conceived & Directed by Michael Halberstam

After his unanimously acclaimed New York debut, The Adding Machine, Writers’ Theatre Associate Artist Josh Schmidt has become the most eagerly anticipated young musical theatre composer in the country. Schmidt’s second creation, in collaboration with artistic director Michael Halberstam, playwright Austin Pendleton and lyricist Jan Tranen, receives its world premiere in Glencoe. A poet, a preacher and his wife enter into a delicious conflict when a fantastical assumption turns an ordinary day topsy-turvy.

May 19 – July 19, 2009

For more information on Writers’ Theatre, call 847-242-6000, or go to www.writerstheatre.org.

May 25, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Final Week of great shows: Dog and Pony, Redmoon, ATC

Time Is Running Out!

by Venus Zarris

One of the most amazing and disheartening aspects of live theater is the immediacy of the experience. No two shows, of the same production, are ever alike and so every performance is a once in a lifetime opportunity. That being said, plays are shooting stars in the grand scheme of things.  You either see them or they are gone forever, unlike film that you can catch on DVD and watch over and over again.

Chicago makes this urgency even more demanding as there is so much exceptional work being produced but the many gifted companies. With this in mind there are a few shows in particular that extra efforts should be made to catch before they are no longer an option.

“Boneyard Prayer” – This breathtakingly bleak examination of sorrow and regret told through Redmoon’s unparalleled conceptualization. Their brilliant offering is spellbinding and creates a uniquely poignant and emotional journey.

(“Boneyard Prayer” runs through May 25 at Redmoon Central, 1463 W. Hubbard St. 312-850-8440 x111.)

“As Told By the Vivian Girls” – This unique production plunges you into the strange and absurd world of underground artist Henry Darger. It creates a funhouse experience as you walk through Theater on The Lake exploring selected aspects of his work, taken from his 1500 page manuscript and various paintings and illustrations, brought to life by actors rendering his fantastical characters and creatures. Dog and Pony Theater Company ambitiously creates a remarkable living-breathing homage to Darger’s bizarre and brilliant imaginary realms.

(“As Told By The Vivian Girls” runs through May 25 at Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive at Fullerton. 773-360-7933.)

Speech and Debate – Playwright Stephen Karam creates a brilliantly funny joy ride in this show about three misfit high school kids dealing with their sexual secrets while trying to start a speech team and gay/straight student alliance. Karam has written one of the funniest roles for a young woman ever penned and Sadieh Rafai’s performance of this character is a laugh riot that is sure to delight!

(“Speech and Debate” runs through May 31 at American Theater Company, 1909 West Byron St. 773-929-1031.)

Run, don’t walk, to catch any or all of these incredible ‘NOT TO BE MISSED’ productions while you still have the chance!

May 22, 2008 | 0 Comments More

Review – “Boneyard Prayer” at Redmoon Theatre

Redmoon’s “Boneyard Prayer”

reviewed by Venus Zarris

Redmoon Theatre's triumphant "Boneyard Prayer"Once again setting the standard for the reinvention of theatrical thought, Redmoon’s ‘Bonyard Prayer’ is a triumph of imagination and creativity. If you have already experienced Redmoon’s work than you understand that when you visit them you are in for at least the unconventional and at best, which is normally the case, the extraordinary. ‘Boneyard Prayer’ certainly fits under both of these classifications.

It traces the cycles of regret through the upheaval of a man’s grave by five gravediggers. Through this remarkable hallucination of somber reflection we see the tragedy of a mistake’s impact on the lives of those it effects.

This is, to say the least, a dirty show. And I don’t mean X-rated, rather 641 pounds of soil are employed to create the burial site. Working with puppets on a multi leveled stage the breathtakingly bleak word of a graveyard is rendered with fantastical effect. The gravediggers dig, sing and animate the puppetry, be that actual or the shadow variety, to tell this sad story.

Charles Kim’s musical composition sounds like a Tom Wait’s homage, the perfect musical soundtrack for this austere dream. It is wonderfully performed by Rob Cruz, playing a piano that sounds like an old barroom upright that hasn’t had a tuning since The Great Depression and has been the recipient of more than one bottle of beer. This tawdry sound only adds to the forlorn wanderings on this purgatorial trip to the root of personal demise.

Not the ‘feel good show’ of the season, you would be well advised to bare the topic in mind. The play opens with a melancholy lullaby sung to an infant who is then placed back in his grave. The night that I attended the play a pregnant woman in the front row who was quickly moved to tears and then left the theater.

I add that not as much as a cautionary note but to illustrate to emotional depth and power of this sorrowfully poignant masterpiece.

Theater can do so much more than simply entertain. It can stretch our mind to process and encompass all aspect of the human condition thereby broadening our emotional vocabulary and our abilities to understand and empathize with others and with ourselves.

This is a lovely examination of the distressing side of our reality. All of the technical and creative elements coalesce flawlessly to deliver a haunting experience that will linger with you long after you leave the theater. This heart rendering and gorgeous production is well worth the emotional investment and should not be missed.

Rating: «««½

 (“Boneyard Prayer” runs through May 25 at Redmoon Central, 1463 W. Hubbard St. 312-850-8440 x111 – www.redmoon.org)

 

May 16, 2008 | 0 Comments More