Tag: Joe Mazza

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: Ubu II–Electric Boog-Ubu, or Free Ubu (The Plagiarists)

Ubu II Electric Boogubu, or Free Ubu by The Plagiarists 6            
      

  

Ubu II
    
Adapted by Gregory Peters
   from play by Alfred Jarry 
at Berger Park, 6205 N. Sheridan (map)
thru Sept 30  |  tix: $15-$20  |  more info    
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

September 14, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Food Show (The Neo-Futurists)

Oliver Camacho and Bilal Dardai star in The Food Show, The Neo-Futurists            
      

The Food Show

Created by Dan Kerr-Hobert, Caitlin Stainken
Metropolitan Brewing, 3031 N. Rockwell (map)
thru Sept 2  |  tix: $10-$25  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     

August 3, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The School for Lies (The Artistic Home)

 Annie Hogan and Brookelyn Hebert star in The School for Lies, Artistic Home           
      

The School for Lies
 
Adapted by David Ives  
The Artistic Home, 1376 W. Grand (map)
thru Aug 13  |  tix: $28-$32  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

July 12, 2017 | 1 Comment More

Review: Paradise Blue (TimeLine Theatre)

Al'Jaleel McGhee stars as Blue in Paradise Blue, TimeLine Theatre, Joe Mazza          
      
Paradise Blue 

Written by Dominique Morisseau
Music by Orbert Davis
TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington (map)
thru July 23  |  tix: $38-$51  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: A Disappearing Number (TimeLine Theatre)

Dennis William Grimes, Juliet Hart, Siddhartha Rajan and Kareem Bandealy star in Disappearing Number           
      
  

A Disappearing Number

Conceived by Simon McBurney
Devised by Theatre de Complicite
TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington (map)
thru April 9 |  tix: $38-$46  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

March 2, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Wit (The Hypocrites)

Kroydell Galima and Lisa Tejero star in Wit by Margaret Edson, The Hypocrites Chicago           
      
  

Wit

Written by Margaret Edson
The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru Feb 19  |  tix: $36  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets
     

February 1, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Chicago’s Best Theater of 2016

  

Miguel Cervantes stars as Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Broadway ChicagoDana Omar and Gay Glenn star in Cinderella at the Theater Potatotes, Hypocrites TheatreKaren Rodriguez stars in The Way She Spoke, Solo Celebration, Greenhouse Theater 3ETHL_ShowPageFINAL_450x665James Vincent Meredith and Bethany Jillard in Othello, Chicago Shakespeare TheatreBryce Gangel, Jessica Ervin and Charlotte Thomas in Dry Land, RivendellJulissa Contreras, Sarah Cartwright and Ada Grey in The Haven Place, Red Orchid TheatreEvan Linder and Liz Sharpe in Byhalia Mississippi, New Colony Definition TheatreBrian Parry and Aaron Kirby in The Drawer Boy, Redtwist TheatreChristian Castro and D’Wayne Taylor in Jesus Hopped A Train, Eclipse TheatreThomas Cox, Bolden. (Back) Ruiz, Sullivan, Brown. Photo by Michael Brosilow (2)Mary Beth Fisher and Harris Yulin in Long Day's Journey Into Night, Court TheatreEliza Stoughton and Sam Hubbard in A Loss of Roses, Raven TheatreBlair Brown and Alan Wilder in Mary Page Marlowe, Steppenwolf TheatreChristina Saliba with mirror from Learning Curve, Albany Park Theater ProjectThe Joffrey Ballet presents Christopher Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker, Auditorium TheatreJustin Keyes, Chris Sams, Tyrone L. Robinson, Will Skrip and Sean Blake in Smokey Joe's CafeDash Barber and Christopher Borek in Posh by Laura Wade, Steep Theatre LMSarah Goeden, Justine C. Turner and Nicole Bloomsmith in Once in a Lifetime, StrawdogSydney Charles and Julian Parker in Prowess, Jackalope TheatreIt’s the classic tale of the Sharks versus the Jets in West Side Story, one of the greatest musicals ever, playing March 16-April 24, 2016 at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. For tickets and information, go to ParamountAurora.com or call (630) 896-6666. Photo credit: Liz Lauren.Brian Quijada in Where Do We Sit On the Bus, Teatro Vista Chicago 2Amy Stricker, Britain Gebhardt, Max DeTogne, Lizzie Schwarzrock, Kelly Baskin, Caitlin JacksonMonica Raymund stars in Thaddeus and Slocum, Lookingglass TheatreBrenda Barrie, James Doherty. Michael E Martin, Johnny Arena and Rudy Galvan in United Flight 232

     

See our picks below the fold

     
January 3, 2017 | 0 Comments More