“Merchant On Venice” extended through November 18

Merchant on Venice 2 Merchant on Venice 1

One of my favorite theatre companies, Silk Road Theatre Project, has extended their current show, a world-premier of the play Merchant on Venice, written by Shishir Kurup and directed by Stuart Carden. On their website, Silk Road Theatre Project describes the play this way:

Venice, Italy intersects with L.A.’s Venice Boulevard in a wickedly funny, wildly inventive and politically provocative re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Written in iambic pentameter and vividly colored by Indian, American and Latino pop references, playwright Kurup transforms Shakespeare’s original by injecting the story with Bollywood musical numbers, L.A. Punk, Hindu-Muslim tensions, and a distinctly American landscape.

You can find out more about this production at SRTP’s blog.

This play has been highly-recommended by a number of reviewers, including Venus Harris at Gay Chicago Magazine, who said:

Once again, Silk Road fearlessly tackles misconceptions and misrepresentations as only the arts can.  Merchant on Venice is not only exceptionally ingenious in its reinterpretation of this classic tale of brutal bigotry and revenge, but serves the purpose of illuminating the overlooked and thereby emancipating the general perceptions of our all too homogenized body-politic.  Those are some lofty accomplishments in and of themselves, but add to that a theatrical experience that is blissfully entertaining, and you have a unique marvel not to be missed.

Luckily theatre-goers have been given more time to fit the show into their schedule!

October 23, 2007 | 0 Comments More

“Suddenly, Last Summer” – intimate yet powerful

Suddenly Last SummerProduction: Suddenly, Last Summer
Producers: Shattered Globe Theatre
Synopsis: In the wildly overgrown garden of a New Orleans mansion, a wealthy family’s matriarch, Violet, seeks to uncover the truth regarding her son Sebastian’s recent death while traveling overseas.  Violet’s niece, Catherine, was the final person to see Sebastian alive.  But from the moment Catherine returned to Louisiana, she began spewing out a version of events so horrific that they couldn’t possibly be true, forcing Violet to institutionalize her niece, in the hopes of shutting her up.   Willing to go to any length to discredit Catherine’s morose account, Violet brings Catherine to her mansion’s garden, where a doctor puts her under the influence of so-called truth serum, and everyone is forced to come to terms with the long-buried secrets that are finally brought to light.
Pros: Director Kevin Hagan does an exemplary job with this fine set of actors.  Catherine’s vitriolic monologue regarding the final ghastly moments with Sebastian is worth the price of the ticket alone.  Veteran Chicago-actor Linda Reiter is dead-on with her portrayal of the arrogant and vengeful matriarch Violet. 
Cons: None.
Bottom Line: Suddenly Last Summer is a wonderful chance to see a true American theatre classic, a script rich with Tennessee Williams’ finest language.  A definite must-see.
Rating: ««««

October 16, 2007 | 2 Comments More

High School productions of “Sweeney Todd”?

I came across these 2 clips of high school advertisements for their productions of “Sweeney Todd“.  I would have never thought such a difficult show could be pulled off by teenagers; not to mention the subject matter.  Bet the right-wing theatre-goers loved this one!  Anyway, whether or not the actual productions were worth seeing or not, the trailers are fun.

October 15, 2007 | 7 Comments More

Too much time on their hands – more “Sweeney”

In the category of “Too Much Time On Their Hands” (as opposed to those of us busy writing earth-shattering blogs) – there’s an entire series of bad claymation shorts of Sweeney Todd scenes.  God that’s good???

October 15, 2007 | 0 Comments More

Review – “Altar Boyz” at Drury Lane

altarboyz2.jpgProduction: Altar Boyz
ProducersDrury Lane Water Tower
Synopsis: The Christian rock band, The Altar Boyz, is holding their final concert before they break up, and you’re the audience.  In the process of the evening, a handy “Soul-ometer” updates the audience as to how many souls have been saved as the concert continues.  Will your soul be saved by this kitschy group of boy band popsters?
Pros: Cleverly cute songs, including “Jesus Called Me On My Cell Phone” and a lesson in maneuvering a Catholic mass (“Stand up, sit down, kneel, go in peace…).  The mostly-local cast is great, and the show’s gimmick, the large digital “Soul-ometer”, works well, holding the show together.
Cons: Songs trend towards pop fluff, high ticket price.
Overall: Though you will not walk away from Altar Boyz spiritually enlightened, you definitely will be exhausted from the pure fun and athleticism of the show.  Check it out!

Rating: «««½

October 14, 2007 | 1 Comment More

Fun video from Bailiwick’s “Zanna, Don’t”

Here’s a rough-ish recording of the bows and finale from “Zanna, Don’t!” at the Bailiwick.  I especially like the 3-part accapella section near the end of the clip.  Can’t wait to see it myself!

October 12, 2007 | 0 Comments More

“Zanna’ trivia – Queer Eye star played lead

For most of the segments of “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” that I sat through, I often wondered “why the hell do they have this culture guy on?  He’s useless!”.  I was talking about Jai Rodriguez, the Queer Eye rep in charge of the vague “culture” aspect of straight-guy-reprogramming.  Anyway, it wasn’t until later that I found out that he was an accomplished singer/performer, playing the lead in “Zanna, Don’t!” during the Off-Broadway run of the show.  I dug up a montage of his performances.  Unlike the Off-Broadway cast recording, he seems to have taken some bad advice, plunging into an American-Idol-singing style.  Oh well….

October 12, 2007 | 0 Comments More

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October 12, 2007 | 0 Comments More