Tag: Woody Allen

Rev‪iew: Bullets Over Broadway (NightBlue Performing Arts)

Amanda Farmer stars in Bullets Over Broadway, NightBlue Performing Arts            


Bullets Over Broadway
Adapted by Woody Allen
   from screenplay by Douglas McGrath
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Oct 8  |  tix: $27-$35  |  more info    
Check for half-price tickets   

September 25, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Bullets Over Broadway (Broadway in Chicago)

Kaylee Olson, Carissa Fiorillo and Elizabeth Dugas in Bullets Over Broadway, Broadway Chicago           

Bullets Over Broadway

Written by Woody Allen
Based on screenplay by Douglas McGrath
PrivateBank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe (map)
thru May 1  |  tix: $19-$85   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   

April 24, 2016 | 2 Comments More

Review: A Clockwork Orange (DreamLogic Theatreworks)


Violence, live! And some serious ethics questions too


A Clockwork Orange - DreamLogic 3

DreamLogic Theatreworks presents
A Clockwork Orange
Book and play written by Anthony Burgess
Directed by Scott McKinsey
at The Rotunda, 1603 Orrington, Evanston (map)
through July 2nd  |  tickets: $15-$30  |  more info

Reviewed by Jason Rost

The opening of DreamLogic’s production of Anthony BurgessA Clockwork Orange is shockingly resonant of some frightening current events in Chicago. A gang of teenagers enter the abandoned rotunda space carrying items such as a bat and an iPhone. They meaninglessly harass the audience, eventually picking out two audience members (obviously planted) who they brutally beat and rape. The senseless acts of violence by teenagers are something that has been on the rise in the Chicago area this summer. I personally know friends who have been attacked on red line trains in recent weeks. This fear is aroused during the disturbing first few minutes in director Scott McKinsey’s Clockwork. I’m not sure if that level of fear is ever reached again for the remainder of the production, but the rest of the play is consistently captivating.

A Clockwork Orange - DreamLogic 2If you don’t know the story of A Clockwork Orange, be it through reading Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel or Stanely Kubrick’s 1971 masterful film, then it’s safe to say that Burgess’ own stage adaptation (which debuted at Steppenwolf in 1994) is an unjust introduction to the darkly satiric science fiction story. All of the main characters are present, most specifically Alex (Mikey Renan). He is violent beyond belief. He rapes children and kills old women all for fun. After getting arrested, along with his gang of violent offenders (who lose some individuality in the play adaptation), Alex is chosen for a new scientific experiment. After a barrage of sensory distortion, Alex is “cured.” He still has the will to commit violence, but now has a physical reaction to these urges and his body will not carry them out. Burgess’ story goes on to question the morality of this, and whether a human deserves the right to freewill even if their decisions are harmful to others.

To be fully honest, this production is a success almost entirely due to DreamLogic’s choice of found space. While there is talent amongst the direction and performances, this production would be nowhere near as entertaining as it is while the audience inhabits this abandoned circular room (which I believe was a bank lobby at some point) with high ceilings and windows all around. While you can catch glimpses of the Evanston crowd out to dinner, you feel a world apart in the surreal space. Each area of the vast room is designed to resemble a futuristic or post-apocalyptic playground. The laboratory set is a cross between Kubrick’s “2001” and Woody Allen’s “Sleeper,” giving us a 1960’s sci-fi glimpse of the future. The absurdness of the technology allows you to simply move past the HOW and straight onto the WHY.

Although the audience moves with the action, I don’t know if I’d consider the staging to be promenade. While McKinsey utilizes the Rotunda in a logical and intelligent manner, it’s more of a follow-along carousel of vignettes. Personally, I felt  as if I was in a video game where you can walk within inches of the characters and they will usually ignore your presence. However, there could have been seats placed in each area for the audience to move to as the action went around the circle. While possibly not as engaging, it would have ensured that the audience is seeing what’s important at any given moment which can prove to be a difficulty here. Even with an audience on foot, there should be seating in each area simply for the comfort of audience members who physically cannot remain standing during the duration of the play.

Standout performances are given by Tyler Pistorius and Meg Elliot. Occasionally the cast proves to be a little uneven, and even flat in delivery.  Mikey Renan hits a lot of aspects to Alex with brutal accuracy. He walks the line between intellect and barbarian. His bursts of fierceness give the production needed jolts. One primary downfall to his performance though is his vocal work. This is in part due to the cavernous Rotunda space, which sucks up sound. But it’s also that whenever Alex is in pain, or furious, Renan’s voice becomes so strained that many of his lines are difficult to decipher.

Samantha Egle’s violence design has several high points, but can get a little sloppy throughout the course of the show. With the massive amount of violence choreography making it incredibly difficult to hit every “nap,” unfortunately – in this style of staging – the sloppiness is all the more noticeable, especially if you happen to be on the wrong angle. However, there’s this sense with the free roaming of the audience that the violence has been let out of its cage and could strike anywhere.

Perhaps one of the most impressive elements of McKinsey’s production is that it stands on its own apart from the Kuberick film. While meditating on the same themes, it manages to remain theatrical rather than cinematic. This is Clockwork done live, which adds an element that neither the book nor the film can boast. While some of the brilliant narration and poetry of the novel are lost, at an hour and a half the action is on display in full visceral effect.

Rating: ★★★

A Clockwork Orange - DreamLogic

A Clockwork Orange runs through July 2nd at the Rotunda in Evanston. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM. Tickets are $15 students and $30 general. For tickets and more information visit: www.dreamlogictheatreworks.blogspot.com.

June 22, 2011 | 0 Comments More

Wednesday wordplay: Marlene Dietrich’s friends…

Inspirational Quotes

It’s the friends you can call up at four a.m. that matter.
            — Marlene Dietrich

The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be.
            — Robert Fulghum, It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It

Work is not always required… there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.
            — George McDonald

The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.
            — Thomas A. Edison

Eighty percent of success is showing up.
            — Woody Allen

Human pain does not let go of its grip at one point in time. Rather, it works its way out of our consciousness over time. There is a season of sadness. A season of anger. A season of tranquility. A season of hope.
            — Robert Veninga

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.
            — Og Mandino

We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.
            — Albert Einstein

November 18, 2009 | 0 Comments More

Bea Arthur dies at 86

Though best known for her roles in “Golden Girls” and “Maude” (a spin-off from from All in the Family), Beatrice Arthur was also a talented and prolific stage actor, winning a Tony Award for best-supporting actress in the 1966 musical “Mame”, alongside Angela Lansbury.

Actress Beatrice Arthur accepting her Emmy award at the 40th anniversary of the Emmy's Arthur accepting the TV Land Award for Popular Culture on behalf of The Golden Girls Bea Arthur as "Maude"

From her obit:

Arthur was born Bernice Frankel in New York City in 1922. When she was 11, her family moved to Cambridge, Md., where her father opened a clothing store. At 12 she had grown to full height, and she dreamed of being a petite blond movie star like June Allyson. There was one advantage of being tall and deep-voiced: She was chosen for the male roles in school plays.

Bernice — she hated the name and adopted her mother’s nickname of Bea — overcame shyness about her size by winning over her classmates with wisecracks. She was elected the wittiest girl in her class. After two years at a junior college in Virginia, she earned a degree as a medical lab technician, but she “loathed” doing lab work at a hospital.

Acting held more appeal, and she enrolled in a drama course at the New School of Social Research in New York City. To support herself, she sang in a night spot that required her to push drinks on customers.

During this time she had a brief marriage that provided her stage name of Beatrice Arthur. In 1950, she married again, to Broadway actor and future Tony-winning director Gene Saks.

After a few years in off-Broadway and stock company plays and television dramas, Arthur’s career gathered momentum with her role as Lucy Brown in the 1955 production of “The Threepenny Opera.”

In 2008, when Arthur was inducted in the TV Academy Hall of Fame, Arthur pointed to the role as the highlight of her long career.

“A lot of that had to do with the fact that I felt, `Ah, yes, I belong here,'” Arthur said.

More plays and musicals followed, and she also sang in nightclubs and played small roles in TV comedy shows.

Then, in 1964, Harold Prince cast her as Yente the Matchmaker in the original company of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Arthur’s biggest Broadway triumph came in 1966 as Vera Charles, Angela Lansbury’s acerbic friend in the musical “Mame,” directed by Saks. Richard Watts of the New York Post called her performance “a portrait in acid of a savagely witty, cynical and serpent-tongued woman.”

She won the Tony as best supporting actress and repeated the role in the unsuccessful film version that also was directed by Saks, starring Lucille Ball as Mame. Arthur would play a variation of Vera Charles in “Maude” and “The Golden Girls.

Between series, Arthur remained active in films and theater. The plays included Woody Allen’s “The Floating Light Bulb” and “The Bermuda Avenue Triangle,” written by and costarring Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna. During 2001 and 2002 she toured the country in a one-woman show of songs and stories, “… And Then There’s Bea.”

Arthur is survived by her sons and two granddaughters. No funeral services are planned.

Tony-award winner Bea Arthur died at the young-at-heart age of 86.  She will be deeply missed in the TV and theatre world.

Bea Arthur and Rock Hudson: Watching the video below is like entering some gay bizarro meta-verse where carefree socialites harmonically chortle about amyl nitrate, and U.S. television networks broadcast it into your home. Except evidently at one brief, brilliantly weird point in history, this world actually existed. It’s but one more example of just how singular a figure Bea Arthur cut into the pop culture firmament, and why she’ll be so deeply missed.

April 25, 2009 | 0 Comments More