Tag: Ashley Fox

Review: The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil (Babes With Blades)

Elizabeth MacDougald and Ashley Fox star as Evanna Keil and Judy in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil             
       
     

The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil

Written by Barbara Lhota
at Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard (map)
thru Oct 14  |  tix: $15-$25  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     


    
  

Heroine uses power of invisibility to champion
real-life visibility of women

  

Chloe Baldwin stars as Scarlet O'Neil in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil, Babes With Blades

    
Babes With Blades Theatre Company presents
    
The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil

Review by Johanna Dalton

The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil is a light-hearted and highly entertaining tale that packs an important message as well as an action-packed punch. Based on the beloved 1940’s comic strip by Chicagoan Russell Stamm, the play takes place in post-WWII days. Through a mishap in her father’s top secret research lab, Scarlet O’Neil acquires the superpower of invisibility, promising Dr. O’Neil she would never use it. Much as she wants to honor that promise, Scarlet is faced with dire consequences only she can avert by putting her special power to work to save the day.

Ashley Fox (Mobster Judy), Lynne Baker (Doris) and  Elizabeth MacDougald (Evanna)In the opening scene it is revealed that Dr. O’Neil’s ground-breaking research includes a mind-control weapon embedded in a common women’s cosmetic. Though the project is scrapped as too dangerous, lab assistant Evanna Keil (Elizabeth MacDougald) concocts a scheme to sell it to the KGB, setting off a series of engaging and often hilarious events.

After her father’s death Scarlet (Chloe Baldwin) has taken a job at the City News when she learns of Evanna’s evil plan to steal the secret documents she needs to perfect her mind-control product. To protect her father’s reputation and foil Evanna’s plans, she also needs to protect the team that is trying to help her: her mysterious landlady Doris Carmichael (Lynne Baker) who gets kidnapped but has a few tricks up her sleeve; Hedy Labarr (Lisa Herceg) who takes Dr. O’Neil’s role of heading the project; Dr. Greta Hertzfeldt (also played by Baker), one of the scientists with a crush on her colleague, Dr. Percy Spencer (Kirk Osgood), who is lovable but no help; and a bright young prodigy Sarah Blue (Margaux Fournier, in her impressive acting debut) who wants to follow in Scarlet’s footsteps. Baldwin does an admirable job of portraying Scarlet’s bravery and vulnerability in the midst of many dangers.

Then there are her friends at the City News, including switchboard operator Marcie (Herceg) and reporter Jean Sharp (Aneisa Hicks). Jean Sharp is a talented reporter willing to put in the work to get a good story. Her efforts tend to be stymied, however, by fellow reporter Bobby Bragg (Osgood). Like Jean, City News switchboard operator Marcie sees her own contributions go unrecognized.

Lisa Herceg stars as Marcie in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil, Babes With BladesElizabeth MacDougald and Ashley Fox star as Evanna Keil and Judy in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil

Chris Cinereski shifts smoothly between a quartet of roles as Scarlet’s father, Dr. O’Neil; Bill Hackett, who runs the City News; and the somewhat bungling Guard and Cop who fall under the spell of mind control. Last but not least, Judy Butafuco (Ashley Fox) plays Evanna’s mobster side-kick, whose lines are generously sprinkled with amusing malaprops, such as “those scientific diaphragms are really gonna help” and “you mis-underestimated me.” In the end, Butafuco has a secret of her own to be revealed.

Babes With Blades Theater Company, seizing on the very relatable character of Scarlet O’Neil, commissioned playwright Barbara Lhota to explore the intangible ways that women have become “invisible” in the context of societal norms. In World War II, the role of women changed dramatically as the all-hands-on-deck mentality saw women take on crucial roles that had a great impact. That changed once the war ended. As playwright Lhota adds in the production’s script notes, “Women who were made visible during WWII, because they took over so many male-dominated jobs, were now asked to become, in effect, invisible as the men came home.” The results of this transition are acted out in the struggles of Jean Sharp and Marcie as well as Scarlet, while City News editor Bill Hackett offers a ray of hope.

Kirk Osgood and Chris Cinereski star as Bobby and Mr. Hackett in The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil

The physicality and action-oriented approach of the period drive the pace of the production and add to the comic success it achieves under Leigh Barrett’s direction. Barrett’s staging is simple and fluid, with Milo Bue’s set design, consisting of plain white blocks easily reconfigured to go from an office to a hotel scene, adding to the fluidity. A clever visual technique is used by G. “Max” Maxin IV (projection design) to simulate the thought and word bubbles of the comic strip genre that fill in jumps in the action.

Now in its 20th Anniversary season, Babes With Blades uses stage combat to place women and their stories center stage. Its Fighting Words Festival (FW) focuses on developing scripts that include fighting roles for female identified artists. This year’s festival, scheduled for May 2018, will showcase three new scripts aligned with their goal of creating theatre that explores the wide range of human experience and cultivates broader perspectives both in the arts and society as a whole.

While not without an occasional flaw, world-premiere The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil is a fresh and thoroughly enjoyable theater experience that gives the viewer good-natured laughs while putting a still too prevalent issue front and center.

  
Rating: ★★★
  

The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil continues through October 14th at Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $25 (seniors & students: $15), and are available at BrownPaperTickets.com or by phone at 773-904-0391 (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at BabesWithBlades.org(Running time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)

Margaux Fournier and Chloe Baldwin star as Sarah and Scarlet O'Neil in Invisible of Scarlet O'Neil

Photos by Joe Mazza 


  

artists

cast

Chloe Baldwin (Scarlet O’Neil), Aneisa Hicks (Jean Sharp), Lisa Herceg (Marcie, Hedy Labarr), Lynne Baker (Dr. Greta Hertzfeldt, Doris Carmichael), Elizabeth MacDougald (Evanna Keil), Ashley Fox (Judy Butafuco), Margaux Fournier (Sarah Blue), Chris Cinereski (Bill Hacket, Dr. O’Neil, Guard, Cop), Kirk Osgood (Bobby Bragg, Dr. Percy Spencer), Patti Moore, Savanna Rae (understudies)

behind the scenes

Leigh Barrett (director), Libby Beyreis (violence design), Milo Bue (scenic design), Meghan Erxleben (lighting design), Kimberly G. Morris (costume design), Sarah Espinoza (sound design), The Sans N.E. Sleep Cooperative (props design), G. “Max” Maxin IV (projection design), Lindsey Miller (stage manager), Manuel Ortiz (technical director), Colleen Layton (production manager), Hannah Wolff (dramaturg), Chloe Baldwin (asst. violence design), Wolf Point Media (video), Joe Mazza (photos)

Chloe Baldwin and Elizabeth MacDougald star as Scarlet O'Neil and Evanna Keil

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September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Ulysses (The Plagiarists)

Isaac Samuelson, Christopher Donaldson, Ashley Fox, James Snyder, Sheridan Singleton, David Fink, Charlotte

          
 

         
Ulysses

Adapted by Jessica Wright Buha
   and Aileen McGroddy
From novel by James Joyce
Berger Pk. House, 6205 N. Sheridan (map)
thru Apr 30  |  tix: $20  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

April 10, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Julius Caesar (Babes With Blades Theatre)

Diana Coates and Aila Peck in Babes With Blades' "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare, directed by Wyatt Kent. (photo credit: Steven Townshend)        
       
Julius Caesar  

Written by William Shakespeare  
Directed by Wyatt Kent
at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
thru April 20  |  tickets: $12-$20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

March 20, 2013 | 1 Comment More

Review: Romeo and Juliet (Babes With Blades)

  
  

A tale of lovers missing its heart

  
  

Gillian N. Humiston (Romeo) and Ashley Fox (Juliet) in Babes With Blades' Romeo and Juliet

  
Babes With Blades presents
  
Romeo & Juliet
       
Written by William Shakespeare 
Directed by Brian DeLuca
at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
through April 30  |  tickets: $20   |  more info

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Babes With Blades has pulled out the production stops for a visually strong and sumptuous all-woman Romeo & Juliet. The rough around the edges, yet classically suggestive scene design (Bill Anderson; Jason Pikscher and Stephen Carmody, brickwork) graces Raven Theatre’s studio space with a versatility that still hints at architectural grandeur. Meanwhile, Ricky Lurie’s costumes, inspired by Italy’s late 19th-century Liberal Period, imaginatively strike the production’s gender-bending balance—functional enough to readily support the cast for their legendary BWB combat scenes and convey class distinctions and individual character.

Eleanor Katz and Amy Harmon - Babes With Blades' Romeo and JulietThen there’s the always-exciting stage combat (Libby Beyreis), in which the gals pack swords, rapiers and pistols into the street warfare between the Capulets and the Montagues. Brian DeLuca’s directorial vision suggests cyclically repeating historical patterns of social and legal breakdown—a solid and sophisticated touch for revisioning Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers.

All the same, there’s no substitute for classical Shakespearean training and experience, especially so far as Romeo (Gillian N. Humiston) and Juliet (Ashley Fox) are concerned. Humiston’s performance is weak to begin with, but as death stalks the lovers and emotional stakes are raised, her performance degenerates into shrill and unwatchable histrionics. Fox fairs better when paired with her Nurse (Eleanor Katz) or facing up to an implacable parent, Capulet (Maggie Kettering), determined to marry her off to Paris (Delia Ford). Shakespeare’s tale of impossible, adolescent love struggling to find expression in a landscape strafed by turf wars needs stronger stars than this show has on hand. Sadly, an otherwise thoughtful and well-paced production misses out at its critical center.

Gillian N. Humiston and Delia Ford in a fight scene from Babes With Blades' 'Romeo and Juliet'Ford JK 7381

That leaves the older cast members to carry the show. By far, Katz delivers the strongest, earthiest, most nuanced performance; Kettering’s Capulet is a force to be reckoned with and Katie Horwitz as Friar Lawrence comes across solidly like a frustrated surrogate parent, trying to keep the kids on track long enough to have it all work out. Amy Harmon has the swagger to give her Mercutio street cred, but could use a little refinement on his monologues. Shakespeare knew that lower class didn’t always mean lower IQ, and Mercutio’s accelerated imagination and verbal agility would make him a rap star if he were discovered today.

Fox and Humiston do pull off their final death scene together but, by the time they do, the audience has missed the heart of the story for too long. Romeo & Juliet was spawned from an era of real traditional marriage—from a time when marriages were set up like business partnerships. What did love have to do with it? Shakespeare’s audience came to see pure, unbridled love daring to violate social constraints. But in the world of art, we know it takes massive skill and discipline to make it that love look raw, spontaneous, free and new.

  
  
Rating: ★★
  
  

Gillian N. Humiston and Ashley Fox as Romeo and Juliet, presented by Babes With Blades

 

Artists

Cast

Gillian N. Humiston*, Ashley Fox, Megan Schemmel, Delia Ford*, Amy E. Harmon*, Eleanor Katz, Maggie Kettering, Katie Horwitz, Rachael Miller, and Kim Fukawa*. 

Production Team

Brian LaDuca (Director); Wyatt Kent (Assistant Director); Bill Anderson (Scenic Design ); Leigh Barrett* (Lighting Design ); Libby Beyreis* (Violence Design); Ricky Lurie (Costume Design); Harrison Adams (Sound Design); Kjers McHugh* (Stage Manager); Dustin Spence (Producer).

* = Company member

  
  
April 4, 2011 | 0 Comments More