And you think Chicago theatre critics can be harsh????

Okay, there’s been a few times where – as I read a review in one of Chicago’s many publications – I’ve uttered a (possibly audible) wince at the harshness of the critique.  But after reading a review from online edition of the London Times, I have to say that our theatre critics are compassionate in comparison.  Here’s a section of aforementioned review, which is a diatribe for a British televised play called “The Dinner Party”:

But the play was the thing – a desperate, unbelievable, dramatically inert bit of third-degree embarrassment; secondhand agitprop cliché that would have shamed a drama-GCSE improv class. Not a single word or emotion or reaction was honest or believable or real. Again, I’m speechless with admiration for the Tristram who has been paid money, fed lunch and given a chair that goes up and down and has such insouciant confidence in the idiocy of his audience that he allowed this to be broadcast. And not just cast, but cast with good actors who had agents who suffered the same effortless belief and said: “Do it. Who cares? It’s cash.” Finally, and most awe-inspiringly, that someone sat down at a keyboard, tapped away and made The Dinner Party – a crippling, dribbling, mewling homunculus of plagiarism. And, having done it, they didn’t turn white and book themselves into an ashram. They said: “This is cool. I’ll show it to the grown-ups”, and pressed Send. The next time this writer sees his or her name in print, I abjectly pray it’s under “Employee of the month” at Burger King.

“Employee of the month” at Burger King???  Ouch!!  Now that is cruel!  (but at the same time, I have to admit, fun to read!).  You can read the entire review, if you dare…..

November 10, 2007 | 0 Comments More

Last 2 weeks of “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom”

Easy Street Players’ “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom”, at the Athenauem, is now entering its final 2 weeks.

One of the longest running plays in Off-Broadway history, “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” tells the saga of two fatally seductive vampiresses whose paths first collide in ancient Sodom. Their bitter rivalry as bloodsuckers but more importantly, as actresses, endures for two thousand years with stops along the way in 1920’s silent movie Hollywood and contemporary Las Vegas.

For their production, Easy Street Players has created a fun retro YouTube video.  Enjoy.

November 9, 2007 | 0 Comments More

Great interview with Drury Lane managing director

I always love listening to the always-informative (and entertaining) interviews over at Talk Theatre In Chicago.  And their recent interview with Kyle DeSantis, the business-savvy managing director of both Drury Lane Oakbrook and Drury Lane Water Tower, does not disappoint. 

Check it out!   And if you like it (which I’m sure you will), don’t forget to subscribe to the theatre podcast over at iTunes.

November 8, 2007 | 0 Comments More

The Uptown Theatre – a wondrous but heartbreaking slideshow

I would give anything to be able to have witnessed the 4,300-seat Uptown Theatre back in its glory days.  It really must have been amazing.  This slideshow is heartbreaking in the sense that it really brings to light the total neglect of this movie-palace treasure. 

A deep thank you to you could just include it was made by Ian Sklarsky, that for creating this beautiful video, and for keeping the memory of this beautiful building alive.  

November 7, 2007 | 0 Comments More

Chicago Theater sold to Madison Square Gardens

Ornate balcony of the Chicago Theater  chicagotheater-atnight.jpg  chicagotheaterstatestreet1.jpg

The Chicago Theatre is being sold to New York’s Madison Square Garden Entertainment, according to a published report.

“Madison Square Garden has agreed in principle to purchase the Chicago Theatre,” according to a statement from a spokesman for Madison Square Garden Entertainment. “However, there remain several additional details that must be worked out before the purchase can be finalized. We look forward to completing the transaction as quickly as possible and will comment further at the appropriate time.”

The 3,600-seat theater is located on State Street in the Loop business district.  It opened in 1921, originally as a lavish movie palace, and features a landmark marquee.

November 7, 2007 | 0 Comments More

“Rocky Horror Picture Show” unexpectantly closes

rockyhorror.jpgLooks like The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Mercury Theater will be unexpectantly closing tomorrow (Sunday)!  The show had recently been listed as running into December, and when it opened there were hopes that it would run indefinitely.  Although Rocky… received generally passable reviews (recommended by the Trib and TimeOut, and highly-recommended New City), this wasn’t enough to keep it chugging along.  Chris Jones offers some comments and advice

Even though there’s no time left to see it live, you can see 3 video clips here.

November 3, 2007 | 0 Comments More

“Dirty Diamonds” – a gem for Factory Theater’s 15th Season!

Dirty Diamonds, by Mike Beyer and directed by Manny Tamayo, tells the story of a Las Vegas man who quickly gets tangled up with a femme fatale, who entices him into a plan to recover some buried diamonds. Together, along with the woman’s ex-boyfriend, they work to recover the diamonds in time to hand them over to a murderous drug kingpin. Little do they know the kingpin has other plans for them. This “dark, comic thriller” appears to be the perfect production to mark Factory Theater’s 15th season.  For example:

Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune concludes:

Dirty Diamonds may be populated by archetypes, but they are believable within the framework of Beyer’s script. The production is expertly directed by Manny Tamayo.) The play is pure genre — a square gets mixed up with a criminal element — but a genre done well can be blissfully entertaining.”
Read entire review.

Kudos to the folks at Factory Theater for this “dirty” gem!

November 2, 2007 | 0 Comments More

“August: Osage County” racks up 6 Jeff Awards!

Osage County set

While director Anna Shapiro was busy in New York, in the middle of previews for Steppenwolf Theatre’s August: Osage CountyBroadway run, the original Chicago production handedly took home 6 Jeff Awards for the Tracy Letts’ play, including:

* Best Production
* Best Ensemble
* Best New Work: Tracy Letts
* Best Director: Anna D. Shapiro
* Best Actress in a Principal Role: Deanna Dunagan
* Best Scenic Design: Todd Rosenthal

Congratulations to Steppenwolf for these much-deserved awards!

Speaking of “August….”, Steppenwolf has posted a new video on YouTube – a rough interview with some of the ensemble members (Jeff Perry, Francis Guinan, Amy Morton and Mariann Mayberry) regarding the process of bringing the play to New York.  Check it out…

November 1, 2007 | 0 Comments More