Tag: Ryan Walters

Review: Burning Bluebeard (The Hypocrites)

Pam Chermansky as the Fancy Clown in The Hypocrites' "Burning Bluebeard" by Jay Torrence, directed by Halena Kays. (photo credit: Evan Hanover)          

Burning Bluebeard 

Written by Jay Torrence
The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru Jan 10  |  tix: $36 | more info
Check for half-price tickets   

November 27, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Top 10 Chicago Plays of 2013

Karl Hamilton and Mark David Kaplan in Chicago Children's Theater's "A Year with Frog and Toad" by Robert and William Reale, directed by Henry Godinez. (photo credit: Charles Osgood) Greta Oglesby and Toni Martin in TimeLine Theatre's "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry, directed by Ron OJ Parson. (photo credit: Lara Goetsch) Hans Fleischmann stars as Tom in Mary-Arrchie Theatre's "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Hans Fleischmann. (photo credit: Emily Schwartz) Jackson Doran, GQ, JQ and Postell Pringle in Chicago Shakespeare's "Othello: The Remix," created and directed by the Q Brothers. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow) Kenesha Reed, Genesis Salamanca, Angelina Llongueras, Lindsey Scalise, Hisako Sugeta and Danielle Nicholas star in Her Story Theater's "Shadow Town," written and directed by Mary Bonnett. (photo credit: Katie Herst)
Redtwist Theatre's "Clybourne Park" starred Kelly Owens Rodman, Michael Sherwin and Frank Pete star in Redtwist Theatre's "Clybourne Park" by Bruce Norris, directed by Steve Scott. (phtoo credit: Kimberly Loughlin) Manny Buckley, Tyshaun Lang, Keith Neagle, McKenzie Chinn, Lucy Sandy, Marjie Southerland and Morgan McNaugh in Pavement Group's "Harry and the Thief" by Sigrid Gilmer, directed by Krissy Vanderwarker. (photo credit: Brittany Barnes) Shavac Prakash and Scott Baity, Jr star in Collaboraction's "Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology," conceived and directed by Anthony Moseley. (photo credit: Cesario Moza) Daniel Strauss and Lauren Lopez star as El-Fayoumy and Mother Theresa in Judas Redux and Starkid's "Last Days of Judas Iscariot" by Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by Julia Albain. Callie Johnson, Rod Thomas, Susan McMongale and Josh Tolle in Drury Lane Theatre's "Next to Normal," directed by William Osetek. (photo credit: Brett Beiner)


Another year, another 12 months of great theater! 2013 blessed the Windy City with inspired new works and riveting revivals from a wide range of companies – the largest equity houses to the smallest of Chicago’s storefronts. Taking into account the 600+ productions that we reviewed in 2013, here are our picks for the best of the best. Bravo!!   (note: for the 3rd year in a row, we’re honored to have the national website Huffington Post use our choices for their Top 10 Chicago productions!)

See our picks below the fold

December 29, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Burning Bluebeard (The Ruffians)

Dean Evans stars as Fancy Clown in The Ruffians' "Burning Bluebeard" by Jay Torrence, directed by Halena Kays. (photo credit: Evan Hanover)       
Burning Bluebeard 

Written by Jay Torrence
Directed by Halena Kays 
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
thru Jan 5  |  tickets: $18-$36   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

November 30, 2013 | 2 Comments More

Review: Ivywild (The Hypocrites)

Ryan Walters, Kurt Chiang, Anthony Courser, Jay Torrence and Tien Doman star in The Hypocrites' "Ivywild" by Jay Torrence, directed by Halena Kays. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)        
Ivywild: The True Tall Tales
                 of Bathhouse John

Written by Jay Torrence  
Directed by Halena Kays
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru June 16  |  tickets: $28   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

May 10, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: 44 Plays for 44 Presidents (The Neo-Futurists)

Dina Walters stars in The Neo-Futurists' "44 Plays for 44 Presidents", directed by Halena Kays. (photo credit: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent)       
44 Plays for 44 Presidents 

Directed by Halena Kays 
The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Nov 10  |  tickets: $10-$20   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
            Read entire review

October 9, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Six Characters in Search of an Author (The Hypocrites)

The Hypocrites' "Six Characters in Search of an Author, directed by Halena Keys, plays through March 11th at the Chopin Theatre. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)       
Six Characters in Search 
     of an Author

Based on play by Luigi Pirandello
Adapted by Steve Moulds
Directed by Halena Keys  
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru March 11  |  tickets: $28-$36   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets  
             Read entire review

February 17, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Burning Bluebeard (Neo-Futurists)

Leah Urzendowski Chicago       
Burning Bluebeard 

Written by Jay Torrence  
Directed by Halena Kays
at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tickets: $10-$20   |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

November 24, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: Daredevils’ Hamlet (The Neo-Futurists)


“Jackass” Meets The Bard



Jay Torrence, John Pierson, Trevor Dawkins, Ryan Walters, Anthony Courser, Brennan Buhl - from Neo-Futurists' "Daredevil's Hamlet"

The Neo-Futurists present
Daredevils’ Hamlet
Written by Ryan Walters and ensemble
Directed by
Halena Kays
Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
through September 25  |  tickets: $15  |  more info

reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

Only in culture centers like Chicago could there be a theater audience savvy enough to completely comprehend this show’s connections between Shakespeare and professional wrestling, the indecisive Hamlet’s crisis of confidence and the endangered masculinity of modern metrosexuals; the actors’ own neuroses and the Shakespearean characters they’re most drawn to. We deserve this show, if only because it won’t be lost on us.

Ryan Walters, from Neo-Futurists' "Daredevil's Hamlet" In 2005 Ryan Walters’ band of jumpsuited or strait-jacketed daredevils created their first edition of exuberant “jackassery.” But, intent on putting statements behind their stunts, five years later the quintet are riffing on “Hamlet,” using their cartwheels, tumbling, acrobatics, and hoop diving to illustrate the melancholy Dane’s identity crisis and adding their own autobiographical confessions to this absorbing “afterword.” (Each gets to answer questions about their dads, whether they would avenge their father’s murder by exterminating their uncle, and whether they are men of action or men of thought.)

The audience is warmed up as an interactive game of “Four-Square” opens the inquiry. It’s followed by various action-oriented depictions of scenes from the tragedy: Young Ryan Walters rides a tricycle as he attempts a small-scale Knievel-like jump across a wooden ramp. (The exact link to Hamlet escaped me here except that he was also reciting the “What a piece of work is man!” speech.) The graveyard scene is depicted with the performers naked in black light with tiny skulls lit up as codpieces over their privates. Ophelia’s drowning occurs in a real flower-strewn trough, a kind of life-size baptismal font. Though the fight between Hamlet and Laertes is reduced to overhyped WWF combat, the sword fight finale is performed exactly as written because, of course, the daredevils can’t overdo the original when it comes to exaggerated overkill.

John Pierson, from Neo-Futurists' "Daredevil's Hamlet"

These 100 minutes teem with fascinating connections where art deconstructs art and life imitates itself. Buhl, stretching a bit, compares Hamlet’s pursuit of justice with his own memories of “wild play” in a kiddie pool that got out of control. Anthony Courser prefers to portray an action figure like Robin Hood whose black-and-white status as a legend is preferable to Hamlet’s moral ambiguity. John Pierson describes the fasting and sacrifices he intends to make throughout the show’s run (including sex and modern food). Jay Torrence is fascinating by Horatio’s loyalty to Hamlet and depicts it with some homoerotic interaction with Walters. Finally, the show’s conceiver, Ryan Walters, playing the pseudo crazy, roller-skating Prince of Denmark, eloquently soliloquizes on the transience of life and its poignant surrogate, the theater, as he bends over an audience member who he intends to never forget. There’s even a brief interlude in which an unnamed actress enters as Gertrude to make a rather convincing defense of Hamlet’s much maligned mother.

It’s not the sometimes indulgent, hit-and-run skits that convince here; they’re clever distractions within a larger illustrated lecture. What wears you down and finally wins you over is the fascinating totality of this free-form action portrait of a play that’s as seemingly inexhaustible as the sun. “Hamlet” and Hamlet are everything we can project onto them and Daredevil’s Hamlet exposes us every bit as much as it illuminates a rather old script.

Rating: ★★★

Trevor Dawkins and Ryan Walters, from Neo Futurists' "Daredevil's Hamlet"

All photos by Candice Conner / Oomphotography

August 23, 2010 | 2 Comments More