Tag: Kimberly G. Morris

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

17-0913

September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Promise of a Rose Garden (Babes With Blades)

Patti Moore, Sam Long, Maureen Yasko, Arti Ishak and Izis Mollinedo in Promise of Rose Garden           
    

      
The Promise
  of a Rose Garden
 

Written by Dustin Spence
at City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru Sept 10  |  tix: $22  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

August 18, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Stupid Fucking Bird (Sideshow Theatre)

Nina O’Keefe stars as Nina in Sideshow Theatre's "Stupid Fucking Bird" by Aaron Posner, directed by Jonathan L. Green. (photo credit:  by Jonathan L. Green)        
      
Stupid Fucking Bird

Written by Aaron Posner
Directed by Jonathan L. Green 
at RC Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Sept 21  |  tickets: $20-$25   |  more info
       
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                   Read review
     

August 25, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost (Lifeline Theatre)

Mike Ooi stars in Lifeline Theatre’s “The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost," adapted by Scott T. Barsotti, directed by Paul S. Holmquist, based on the children’s book by Geoffrey Hayes. (photo credit: Suzanne Plunkett)        
       
The Mystery
     of the Pirate Ghost
 

Adapted by Scott T. Barsotti
     from the book by Geoffrey Hayes
Directed by Paul S. Holmquist
at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map)
thru Feb 17   |  tickets: $15   |  more info 
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

January 14, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride (Babes With Blades Theatre)

Lisa Herceg (Susan Swayne), Kimberly Logan (Isabelle Fontaine-Kite) - in Babes With Blades' "Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride" by Reina Hardy, directed by Dan Foss. (photo credit: Johnny Knight)        
       
Susan Swayne and the
    Bewildered Bride
 

Written by Reina Hardy  
Directed by Dan Foss
Lincoln Square Theatre, 4754 N. Leavitt (map)
thru Sept 22  |  tickets: $12-$20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

August 29, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed (Lifeline Theatre)

Nathaniel Niemi with the cast of Lifeline Theatre's "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed", adapted by Robert Kauzlaric and Paul Gilvary from teh book by Mo Willems.       
      
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed 

Adapted by Robert Kauzlaric, Music by Paul Gilvary
Directed by Paul S. Holmquist
at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map)
thru May 6  |  tickets: $15   |  more info 
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

March 27, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: Around the World in 80 Days (Fox Valley Rep)

     
Lauren Pizzi, Colin Steele and Brian Hamman - Around the World in 80 Days - Fox Valley Rep. Photo by Kimberly G. Morris. Around the World in 80 Days 

Written for the stage by Mark Brown
From the novel of Jules Verne
Directed by John Gawlik  
at Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles (map)
thru July 31  | tickets: $27-$39  | more info

Check for half-price tickets

     Read entire review

    

July 20, 2011 | 0 Comments More

Review: Always, Patsy Cline (Fox Valley Repertory)

     
     

Patsy not the star of her own show

     
    

Megan Long as Patsy Cline. Photo by Trademan Photography

  
Fox Valley Repertory presents
  
Always, Patsy Cline
  
Created by Ted Swindley
Directed by John Gawlik
at Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles (map)
through May 15  |  tickets: $29-$39  |  more info

Reviewed by Dan Jakes

Fox Valley Repertory performs Ted Swindley’s musical tribute to the late country music darling Patsy Cline through a haze, literally and figuratively. For one, generational, tertiary colored lights penetrate fog above the stage, making for a nice effect not unlike watching a “Lawrence Welk” type television show on an analog set. The edges around the singers and band are softened, and the space is filled with nostalgic ambiance.

The other haze is selective memory.

Whatever events that caused the lonely heartbreak that drives Cline’s most moving songs—listen to “Faded Love, ” for god’s sake—as well as the struggles she suffered attaining her success are left deep in the background. No, the stakes in Swindley’s play couldn’t be lower, but one gets the sense that’s where he wants them. Always, Patsy Cline is inspired by the real life letters kept between Cline (Megan Long) Megan Long as Patsy Cline in Fox Valley Rep's 'Always, Patsy Cline'. Photo by Trademan Photography.and her close friend Louise Steger (Kate Brown), and just like pouring over the letters of a departed friend, he only wants us to remember what was good. Cline’s actual biography is a tragic story of a legendary artist dying in a senseless accident at 30. Director John Gawlik’s show is the recounting of a friendship and the joy that carries on after someone passes.

We’re first introduced to Patsy in boots at the Grand Ol Oprey, with Louise miles away seated in a Lucy Chair in her kitchen. Listening to Cline sparks a bit of a love affair in Steger, and she quickly closes the gap.

As the narrator and primary means of moving the play’s light plot forward, Brown is engaging and affable. She makes a balanced duo with Megan Long, countering Long’s authoritative pettiness with broad shoulders, an admiration for cigarettes and coffee, and an unabashed willingness to wiggles, shake, and slap her tuckus. Getting the mostly older audience at Fox Valley Rep to actively engage can be a process akin to pulling dentures teeth, but Brown actually gets a few of them to their feet.

Cline, on the other hand, is written to be viewed from a distance. Long shines in the music numbers with her strong voice and well-trained little yodels and yips, but she’s given little opportunity to be the star any place else. Perhaps the playwright is trying attain some sense of mystique for the title-character. Trouble is, that choice forces Brown’s character to continually grab for exposition instead of action to tell the story about a friendship, and leaves our deep connection to their relationship out of reach.

  
  
Rating: ★★½
 
 

Kate Brown as narrating friend Louise Steger and Megan Long as Patsy Cline in Fox Valey Rep's "Always, Patsy Cline". Photo by Trademan Photography. Megan Long as Patsy Cline. Photo by Tradman Photography

Always, Patsy Cline: The Sweetest Musical This Side of Heaven runs through May 15th at Pheasant Run Resort, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm, with selective Thursdays either 8pm or 2pm.  Tickets are $29-$39 (dinner package: $49), and can be purchased online or by calling (630) 584-6342.  More info at www.foxvalleyrep.org.

All photos by Trademan Photography

     
     
April 6, 2011 | 0 Comments More