Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, June 24

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RIP Redmoon

After a scaled-down Chicago Fire Festival and canceling two major events, Redmoon Theatre is ceasing operations. The spectacle-oriented theater company was 25 years old.

The Year Sets on Redmoon

Redmoon has canceled its New Year's Eve party due to "problems with [their] building." If you've got tickets, contact the box office for a refund.

Tickets on Your Phone

TodayTix, a mobile app for discounted theater tickets, just launched in Chicago.

Hamilton is Coming Here

The surprise hit Broadway musical about Alexander Hamilton will be launching a national touring production in Chicago next September at the Bank of America Theatre, appropriately enough -- although by then it'll be called the PrivateBank Theatre, which seems like political commentary.

The Tragedians of the City

All Chicago's a stage. In honor of the Bard's 400th birthday, Shakespeare 400 Chicago will bring theater companies from around the world to local stages to perform. More than 100 productions are planned. *

Citizens of the Humanities

The Chicago Humantities Festival kicks off Saturday and runs through Nov. 8. Programming is organized under the theme "Citizens" -- peruse the schedule and get tickets quickly.

What's so Funny?

Comedy of Chicago highlights some upcoming stand-up shows you should probably buy tickets for.

Really Underground Comedy

The Reader delves into the world of the Shithole, a comedy venue so underground it doesn't have a permanent address.

Recycled Barre Dance in Pilsen

Recycled Barre offers free dance and reduced price dance classes in Pilsen. The Reader wrote how they plan to open up Sept. 21 for Chicago's first non-profit community-based dance studio. Finally, a chance to plié and hip hop on a budget.

It Lives in the Neo-Futurarium!

The Neo-Futurists' long-lived "film fest" of staged readings of bad movie scripts is back after a long hiatus! This upcoming weekend the theater will be doing a two-night only reading of the Tom Cruise classic Cocktail as a fundraiser to drum up support for a full revival of the fest. Full details at the Facebook event page.

The Ballot is the Thing

Time Out Chicago just opened voting for its first-ever Time Out Chicago Theater Awards.

RIP PJ Paparelli

American Theater Company artistic director PJ Paparelli died today after being injured in a car accident while on vacation in Scotland. He was 40.

Martha Lavey Hospitalized

Martha Lavey, the artistic director of Steppenwolf, suffered a stroke Monday night. A statement from the theater said she's making "clear improvement every day."

Mommy Daughter Dance

It's not too early to think about Mother's Day gifts -- and Studio L'Amour has a unique one for you: a mother-daughter burlesque workshop. Ladies, bring your moms to learn how to shimmy from Michelle L'Amour, and have a glass of champagne before and after class.

A Conversation With Martha Lavey

Polly Carl, former director of artistic development at Steppenwolf Theatre, spoke with Steppenwolf's outgoing artistic director, Martha Lavey.

A Cast of 50

The NewCity Players list is out, power-ranking the people who make the performing arts happen in Chicago.

"Queen of Mischief and Make-Believe"

Actress Molly Brennan is the subject of a profile in the February issue of American Theatre. The prolific artist is currently in Lookingglass Theatre's production of Lookingglass Alice, where you may not want to arrive late to a performance.

Mercury's Rising May Mean Cullen's End

Owners of the Mercury Theater are planning a renovation to add more performance space, which may mean that Cullen's, the Irish pub next door named after the founder of the Mercury, would close.

Sketchy at Best

Ready to laugh? The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival gets under way Thursday at Stage 773.

Like Restaurant Week for Plays

Chicago Theatre Week is back Feb. 12-22, and tickets go on sale today at 10am.

24 Hours of Fun

Second City's annual Letters to Santa 24-hour marathon benefit for the Onward Neighborhood House is a week away. From 6pm Tuesday, Dec. 16, to 6pm Wednesday, watch musicians and comedians strut their stuff; tickets are $20 at the door, or watch it online.

Sketchy Details

The lineup of the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival is out, including over 200 shows with local and national acts.

Better Call Saul for Tickets

Comedian Bob Odenkirk, co-creator of "Mr. Show" and now probably better known as Saul Goodman on "Breaking Bad," celebrates the release of his new book, A Load of Hooey, with shows at UP Comedy Club tonight and tomorrow. Doors open at 7:15pm, show's at 8 Tickets are $45 and include a copy of the book. 21+

Stool Capital of the World

A production of Red White & Blaine, the historic musical depicted in the film Waiting for Guffman, is set to debut Nov. 15 at iO.

Creepy Puppet Theater

Free Street Theater's Mariposa Nocturna makes an encore run this weekend, starting tonight at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, featuring eerie puppets and spooky dreamscapes.

Chicago's Getting Weird

The Barrel of Monkeys theater ensemble, known for their ongoing show That's Weird, Grandma featuring plays inspired by stories written by CPS students, is calling in some artistic heavyweights to take part in Chicago's Weird, Grandma, a chance for theater groups ranging from Lookingglass Theatre to the Noah Ginex Puppet Company to try their hand at staging the kids' stories. The series of shows start tonight; full details and tickets available at the BOM website.

John Hodgman Stole Your Vacation

John Hodgman is doing two completely different shows tomorrow night at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave. At 7pm he performs "I Stole Your Dad," his usual melange of expert advice and pop culture reference, and at 9:30 he does "VACATIONLAND," reflections on summertime and death. Tickets to each show are $30.

Too Much Light Turns 25

The Neo-Futurists' Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind long ago became Chicago's longest running play. Tonight at 7pm, they'll honor the show's 25th anniversary by performing 30 plays in 60 minutes -- in the Pritzker Pavilion, for free.

Orange is the New Talkback

"Orange is the New Black" staff writer Nick Jones will be at Stage Left Theater doing a Q&A after this Friday's performance of his play, The Coward.

Final Bows

Chicago's theater community lost three of their own last week. Sati Word passed away on Sept. 3, and actors Molly Glynn and Bernie Yvon died Sept. 6, Glynn after being hit by a falling tree while caught out cycling during Friday's storm, Yvon in a car accident in Munster.

Macy's Chicago

William H. Macy looks back at starting his career in Chicago theater and his children's program "Captain Marbles" in an interview in Variety.

One Plate and Seat at a Time

Lookingglass' production of Cascabel, which features the acting styles of celebchef Rick Bayless, begins tonight; the ticket price is hefty, but the production comes with a multi-course meal curated by Bayless himself. The production runs through Aug. 24th.

Props for Public Access Theater

Oracle Productions' The Mother and Theo Ubique's staging of Passion won top honors at this year's non-Equity Jeff Awards.

Culture Warriors Return

The Dueling Critics Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel, formerly of WBEZ, are returning to public radio on WDCB's "The Arts Section."

Stage of Dreams

"3031" is a secret outdoor theater built in a backyard somewhere in Chicago.

Off-Off-Broadway Awards

Bailiwick Chicago's Dessa Rose received the most nominations of any single show at this year's Non-Equity Jeff Awards, which recognize the best non-union theater productions in Chicago.

Missing a Mask

A side effect of having so much stand up and improv in the city might be that there's plenty of tragedy but not a lot of comedy on stage in Chicago, writes Tribune critic Chris Jones.

Hipster Steppenwolf

Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson star in This Is Our Youth, a play at Steppenwolf Theatre this summer.

Over the Top

So long a sideshow, the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers gets featured event attention in the Reader.

Chicago Knows It Can Dance

The Fox television show "So You Think You Can Dance" made a stop at the Oriental Theatre Thursday to give Chicagoans a chance to audition for the show's 11th season. The tryouts were held with the show's producers, and callback auditions will be held on Saturday with the judges.

The Play is the Thing

Chicago Theatre Week begins today: get discount tickets for plays all over town. (Might make for a good Valentine's Day date, no?)

Get Your Fill

If you're looking to get the most culture for your dollar once the curtain goes up on this year's Chicago Theater Week, Newcity has some advice.

Remembering Philip

The actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died yesterday, had recent Chicago ties; he directed the debut of The Long Red Road, which dealt with addiction, at the Goodman in 2010. Hoffman also acted in the Goodman's 1994 controversial production of The Merchant of Venice.

Who Are the Players?

NewCity's annual list of the 50 most important people in Chicago theater is out.

What's the Secret Handshake?

The Puppet Bike now has an official fan club.

The Play vs. the Movie

Chris Jones vents about the controversy over whether it's necessary to have seen the play August: Osage County to effectively review the movie. (Read Steve at the Movies' review here.

One Story at a Time

Lifeline Theatre's 17th annual Fillet of Solo festival of solo performances and storytelling kicks off this Friday. Tickets are $10 per show or $30 for a festival pass.

Lincoln Lodge Loses its Home

The Lincoln restaurant in North Center is closing at the end of the year, which means the Lincoln Lodge is looking for a new home. The long-running standup showcase begins its final performances tonight.

Laughs Leave Town

The Just for Laughs Festival won't be back in Chicago next year. The Montreal-based festival cited financial constraints, and said it would retool the show for a possible future return.

Opera in a Pool

The Chicago Opera Theater is performing Orpheus & Euridice in the Welles Park Natatorium this week, Dec. 19-22. The performances are sold out, but a limited number of walk-up tickets will be available.

30 Plays in 60 Minutes for 25 Years

The Neo-Futurists' Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind just turned 25. The Reader has an oral history of the long-running show. (Get tickets now for the New Year's Eve performance.)

Make Up the Stage

One Night Only, an improvised musical by Second City veterans Michael Girts, TJ Shanoff and Mike Descoteaux, is running at Stage 773 just this week and next -- starting tomorrow night.

Chicago to Go

The Chicago Commercial Collective is trying to extend the run of locally-produced plays by encouraging nearby universities to produce some of the most successful, small-scale shows.

They're Up All Night to Raise Money

The Second City is hosting 24 straight hours of music and comedy, including appearances by Jeff Tweedy, Fred Armisen and others, for "The Second City That Never Sleeps" benefit for Letters to Santa.

Top of the Marquee

TimeOut Chicago shares the best-reviewed plays running in Chicago, making it a bit easier to navigate the city's theater scene.

The Baby Turns 25

Happy 25th anniversary to The Neo-Futurists, who celebrate the 1988 premiere of their flagship show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind with a performance tonight at the old Stage Left Theatre space (now occupied by Chicago Comics).

The Ghosts of Warriors Past

A Klingon Christmas Carol returns for fourth Holiday season, this time playing at the Raven Theatre in Edgewater. It opens this Saturday, Nov. 30, and runs through Dec. 29.

Letts Makes More than One Thing Clear

Tracy Letts talks with Daily Beast about "Homeland," August: Osage County, Hollywood's obsession with the Oscars and more.

Fifty Shades of Mistaken Identity

Women are inundating local actor Luke Grimes with selfies and Facebook messages after Luke Grimes, a different actor, was cast for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie.

Theatrical Blogging

The Trib expanded theater critic Chris Jones' Theater Loop column into a full-fledged blog.

A Classic Behind

Sometime last year, Michelle L'Amour (aka the Ass that Goes POW) performed "Butthoven's 5th Symphony" on her finely tuned instrument. It's apparently floating around the interwebs right now under the title "How the 1% Twerk." [via]

Michelle L'amour performs "BUTTHOVEN'S 5TH SYMPHONY" from franky vivid on Vimeo.

Saving the Puppets Again

Underground Multiplex's cofounders stumbled upon a trove of sets, scenery and marionettes from the Puppet Parlor Theater in Ravenswood, which closed after a fire and the death of one of its creators. They've launched a Kickstarter to help pay for a permanent home for the collection

Sex Trafficking on Stage

The new play Shadow Town throws a spotlight on sex trafficking in Chicago. (For more on the topic, read Danny Fenster's 2010 story in our archives.)

Everybody's Bopping Now

The latest dance style on the South and West sides is bopping, popularized by Lil Kemo and others in hip hop videos.

Extending the Run

The Chicago Commercial Collective aims to enable smaller theaters to extend popular shows when their schedules would otherwise prevent it.

All the School's a Stage

DePaul just opened its beautiful new theater school building, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli.

Regal Theater Gets a Boost from Bey & Hova

Jay Z and Beyonce have (allegedly) purchased the shuttered Regal Theater on the South Side. UPDATE: Or maybe not.

Dancing in the Stacks

Andrew Rosner, a member of the PhiNix Dance Crew at University of Chicago, pops and locks in the Regenstein Library. [via]

Help Save Illinois' Only Indoor State Park!

The Neo-Futurists are running an Indiegogo campaign to revitalize their large waiting area dubbed the "State Park." They're at about 70% of their goal with less than two weeks left! Full details about the renovation project at the Indiegogo page.

Chicago Women are Funny

Thea Lux, Ali Clayton, Stephanie Hasz, Sonia Denis, Irene Tu, Julia Solomon, the Puterbaugh Sisterz, Marlena Rodriguez, GB's own Caitlin Bergh, Kelsie Huff, Candy Lawrence, Ever Mainard and the recently departed Cameron Esposito are all featured in AfterEllen's 50 Hot Women in Comedy list.

RIP Bernie Sahlins

Bernard Sahlins, cofounder of The Second City, passed away Sunday; he was 90. Here's an excerpt from his memoir, Days and Nights at the Second City.

Sahlins delivered the commencement address at Columbia College in 2006, beginning his speech with, "Art is not a matter of life and death. It's much more important than that. We come, we go; art endures."

Orientalism on Stage, Redux

After expressing outrage at comments made by director Mary Zimmerman about racism in The Jungle Book (previously), Silk Road Rising Artistic Director Jamil Khoury sat down with Zimmerman to talk about her comments.

Orientalism on Stage

Silk Road Rising Artistic Director Jamil Khoury was taken aback and outraged by an interview with Director Mary Zimmerman in which she asserts that Rudyard Kipling's racism in The Jungle Book and the Disney film are "in the eye of the beholder, you know?" Zimmerman's adaptation of The Jungle Book opens June 21 at the Goodman. UPDATE: Zimmerman responds.

Fighting for the Lerner Theatre

Efforts are under way to save the Leo Lerner Theatre in the former Hull House Association center in Uptown, which was sold in foreclosure after the organization filed for bankruptcy and closed. The building is slated to be converted into condos; a petition on seeks to get aldermen to stop that.

Arts in Edgewater & Uptown

The Pivot Arts Festival kicks off today and runs through June 22. Check out the schedule here.

Chicago Dance Crash Ticket Giveaway

We've got a pair of tickets for Saturday night's opening of Chicago Dance Crash's The Cotton Mouth Club. Check out our interview with co-choreographer Robert McKee over in A/C. To win, all you have to do is send an email by 5pm today to with the subject line "Cotton Mouth," and we'll select a winner at random. Good luck! UPDATE:We have a winner! Congrats to Christina!

Puppets at the Opera

The building that now houses Lawry's the Prime Rib was once home to the Kungsholm Puppet Opera Theatre, which featured a technologically advanced stage. [via]

kungsholm puppet stage
Image via John Chuckman.

Dancing on Your Screen

Dances Made to Order brings dance films to you once a month, along with a challenge to make your own. The next edition debuts May 29.

Here's a taste of what it's like:

Dancing on Rooftops

Commuters in Uptown, Logan Square and South Shore will get a treat in the mornings between May 13 and June 7: the Wake Up Waltz will perform dances on rooftops near CTA and Metra stops and bus lines.

Steppenwolf Still Howls

Chicago magazine talks with Martha Lavey about the state of Steppenwolf and the city's theatre scene.

"O, speak again, bright angel!"

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is Talk Like Shakespeare Day, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater is the sun.

RIP Maria Tallchief

Prima ballerina Maria Tallchief, who was instrumental in the development of Chicago's dance scene, has passed away. She was 88.

Make'em Laugh

Chicago Grid talks with iO's Charna Halpern about the improv school and theater's big move into a new space, and delves into the broad spectrum of comedy offerings in the city.

The Plays are the Thing

Chicago Theatre Week begins today -- get $15 or $30 tickets for shows all over town.

Sex is Funny

Gozamos interviews Melissa DuPrey about her show SEXomedy, onstage Wednesdays this month at the Greenhouse Theater.

A Little Vintage Dance

Danielle Colby, star of "American Pickers" and a former local crafter and burlesque dancer, is back in town with a "Pickers"-related shop that's now open -- and is back onstage as well.

Talking Race Onstage

Tonight after the 7:30pm production of Disconnect at Victory Gardens, there will be a panel discussion about issues of race and representation in Chicago's theater community. Tickets are $15 if you enter the code "PlayingRace" when you buy.

Who Do You Think They're Donating To?

The cast of Second City's current mainstage production, "Who Do We Think We Are?," has raised $32,000 from unwitting audience members, all of which is being donated to Planned Parenthood.

30 Days of Rhinos

The 24th annual Rhinoceros Theatre Festival kicks off on Friday, Jan. 18, and features so many shows between now and Feb. 17 that it'd be crazy to try and list them. Take a look at the calendar and go watch some fringe theater.

Dinner & a Show

Reservations for Chicago Restaurant Week Feb. 1-10 are now on sale, and tickets for Chicago Theatre Week, Feb. 12-17, go on sale tomorrow, Jan. 9. Too bad they didn't coordinate so we could all enjoy some cheap dates.

Downton Abbey Star Performing In Chicago

Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs. Patmore on "Downton Abbey," is performing in a one-night-only show at the end of this month. The show, called "Admission: One Shilling," pays tribute to Dame Myra Hess, famous in Britain for her piano concerts during World War II. The show is free, but you need to mail your request for tickets in starting today. Full details at the International Music Foundation's website.

To Heckle or Not to Heckle

The Tribune's Nina Metz and Chris Borrelli write in defense of heckling. Comedian Steve Heisler keeps them honest. [via]

Get Your Feet Moving

If your new year's resolution involved learning to dance, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project has a deal for you. It's offering a week of free dance classes next week, Jan. 7-13 at its new American Rhythm Center in the Fine Arts Building.

Straight Acting

The Straight and Narrow, a new comedy written by Jane Blackburn Hammer and GB's own Tyler Gillespie that "explores why people would attend a seminar/camp like this and the ways society conditions people to 'act straight,'" debuts at Stage 773 tonight.

Pick Up Chicago's Style

Thursday night, Young Chicago Authors presents the Chicago Annual of Style, a fundraiser featuring music, spoken word, art made while you wait and more, at the Metro.

Warriors of Christmas Past

Back for a third year, A Klingon Christmas Carol (previously) starts a month-long run at the Raven Theatre this Saturday, Dec. 1.

Competing with Broadway

How a little-known tax credit is getting Chicago first chance at Broadway-bound shows.

Trapped in the Great White Way

R. Kelly revealed in an interview yesterday that his 60,000 chapter-long opus Trapped in the Closet could possibly be turned into a Broadway show. Also, a new chapter airs this Friday on IFC.

50 Shades for the Holidays?

Not one but two productions parodying Fifty Shades of Grey are running in the next couple weeks. Baby Wants Candy stages Fifty Shades! The Musical tonight and Saturday at the Apollo Theatre and Nov. 23-24 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. Meanwhile, SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody opens Nov. 28 at the Royal George Theatre.

Bah Humbug, Scottie Pippen

He can dunk -- but can he act? Scottie Pippen will have a small part (one night only, alas) in the Goodman Theatre's "A Christmas Carol," courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

44 Films For 44 Plays For 44 Presidents

As part of their current show 44 Plays for 44 Presidents the Neo-Futurists present 44 Films for 44 Presidents, a collection of short films about each president. (The stage show continues in Chicago through mid-November, and can be seen in other productions across the country; see the play's site for locations.)

One Week Only!

Opening next February for a limited engagement: Chicago Theater Week.

Freestylin' vs. the Irish Jig

A Whitney Young High School student dared to challenge the dean of students to a dance battle. The dean shut him down with his own footwork.

The Nerdist at Zanies

Nerdist host Chris Hardwick is coming to Zanies in Old Town and out in Rosemont for a couple standup shows in December. Get your tickets now.

Beer and Politics

The Neo-Futurists are holding their second Neoccasion this Saturday evening. Attendees will get samples of local craft brews, as well as a sample of the current prime-time show at the theater, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents. For those who are a little light on funds there's a "Neoccasion Lite" brew tasting event happening Saturday afternoon. Full details on both events at the Neo-Futurists' website.

Color Me Purple

The Chicago Children's Theatre brings the beloved book Harold and the Purple Crayon to life on the stage of its new home at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts Oct. 11 to Nov. 4. The play will then move to the Beverly Arts Center Nov. 7-11 and finally to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 14-18.


"One that loved not wisely, but too well."

To open the 18th season of The Shakespeare Project of Chicago, The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice will be showing for free, October 24th-26th at various venues.

Chicago Theater Gets Weird, Grandma

For 10 years the Barrel of Monkeys theater ensemble has been working with Chicago Public Schools kids to help them write plays and produce them for the stage. And to celebrate the anniversary, they challenged other local theater groups to try their hand at this task. Plenty of theaters are taking up the challenge, from House Theatre to Steppenwolf, and this special series of shows called Chicago's Weird, Grandma opens tonight! Full details at the Barrel of Monkeys website.

Electing to Play

Forty-five theater companies around the country (and possibly more to come) will mount the Neo-Futurists' 44 Plays for 44 Presidents as part of the Plays for Presidents Festival. The performances will be compiled into a video that will debut about a week before the election.

Big Fish Comes to Play

The producers of the 2003 film Big Fish announced last week that a musical theater adaptation will debut in Chicago next spring. The play is scheduled to open at the Oriental Theater on April 2, 2013 and will run for five weeks, until May 5. It boasts an all-star cast and crew, including Norbert Leo Butz, who will play the lead role of Ed Bloom, the dying father.

Contest: See Lewis Black at the Chicago Theatre

As you may have spotted if you're not blocking ads on GB, Lewis Black is coming to the Chicago Theatre Nov. 17. We have a pair of tickets to give away!

Email with your name and phone number and the subject line "Lewis Black" by Wednesday, Sept. 12 at noon, when we'll choose a name at random. UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations to Kevin C.!

When the Shirt is the Fan's

You can't get a more iconic Chicago theater t-shirt than the Neo-Futurists' Too Much Light shirt ...or CAN you? The theater company is soliciting new shirt ideas from its fans, with prizes for the top two designs. Full details at the Neo-Futurists' blog.

Learn to be Funny

The Second City Training Center is holding an open house this Saturday, Aug. 25. If you've ever thought about taking an improv class, this is a good opportunity to learn more.

Kids Got Game

This Sunday, from 9am to 5pm at Fosco Park, NBA star Dwyane Wade's Wade's World Foundation will be holding auditions for youth between the ages of 7-18; kids selected will then move on to vie for the top spot in his annual "Chicago Has Talent" showcase on Aug. 25.

Pique Those Primates

Impress These Apes is back with another season starting tonight. Watch eight comedians try to be funny enough to satisfy the panel of ape judges.

Dance on Film

Sarah Best, formerly with ExploreChicago and creator of Dance Films Kino, will be curating a Chicago edition of Dances Made to Order in 2013. The Dance Center at Columbia curated the month of May this year.

Patton and the Magical Black Man

FoGB Dan Henrick and Kate O'Leary have launched "Stand Down," an animated series for A.V. Club interviewing standup comedians about tough nights on stage. First up is Patton Oswalt with a tale of bad jokes under hotel stairs. [via]

Looking For A Few Good Neo-Futurists

The Neo-Futurists are starting up the audition process once again, and if you're a writer, director or performer you're invited to apply! The Andersonville theater company is looking for new ensemble members willing to make a long-term commitment to create theater in the Neo-Futurist aesthetic. Details at the theater's Website.

See Louis CK

Comedian Louis CK is touring this fall, and has decided to sell tickets himself. He's playing in Chicago Nov. 9 and 16, and tickets are available now.

DCA Theater Staff Decimated

The entire staff of the city-run DCA Theater is being laid off June 30, less than two months after the theater's summer schedule was announced.

Photos of the Eastland Disaster

On July 24, 1915, 844 people died when the SS Eastland capsized in the Chicago River. The Tribune has a gallery of photos of the tragedy and some of its victims. Lookingglass Theatre is currently staging Eastland, a new musical about it, through July 29.

Beware the Rabbit in the Shrubbery

Out in Galewood, kids know how to have a good time -- by staging a backyard production of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, for instance. [via]

Grailwood: Actors realizing audience is armed with water balloons

Photo by Bryan Bedell. The show was staged by EDGE Youth Theater.

The Same Old Theater on the Lake

The Reader's Deanna Isaacs looks into how many of the big plans in store for the Theater on the Lake in 2006 have come to fruition. The answer is most of them -- but the one that hasn't is a doozie.

Meet Jackie Taylor

Ex-GB staffer Marla Seidell tells the story of Jackie Taylor, who grew up in Cabrini-Green and went on to found the Black Ensemble Theater.

Free Theater this Sunday

Shattered Globe's Protégé Ensemble will perform Honest | Fair, an original play inspired by the "nunnery scene" in Shakespeare's Hamlet, for free at Stage 773 on Sunday. You'll want to reserve your spot ahead of time.

Our Burlesque Heritage

Burlesque performers like Michelle L'Amour have made the artform more respectable, but burlesque and striptease had their origins in the "hoochie coochie" belly dance routine on display at the Columbian Exposition.

Clybourne Park Gets Tony Nods

The Pulitzer-winning play about race and class changes in a Chicago neighborhood was nominated for four Tony awards.

Favorite Actor: Dennehy

Brian Dennehy recently appeared on The Interview Show, and was thoroughly unfiltered talking about his film work, The Iceman Cometh and more.

Two Chicago Favorites Opening for Judah Friedlander at Mayne Stage

Judah Friedlander is doing a one-night only show at Mayne Stage tonight, and it was just announced that two of my and Chicago's favorites, Candy Lawrence and Dan Telfer will be hosting and opening, respectively. The folks at Mayne Stage could not have chosen better opening acts. Tickets are still on sale for this show, but they will definitely sell out. You can get them here.

Dennehy & Lane Cometh

Kris Vire, GB founding writer and current Time Out theater editor, interviews Brian Dennehy and Nathan Lane about their upcoming staging of The Iceman Cometh at the Goodman.

Key & Peele Honored Saturday

The Chicago Improv Festival's awards benefit this Saturday honors Comedy Central's Key and Peele.

Catholic Schools Avoid Steppenwolf Play With Gay Bullying Themes

Catholic schools that ordinarily patronize the Steppenwolf for Young Adults series are steering clear of FML: How Carson McCullers Saved My Life, an original piece by Sarah Gubbins that touches on issues of bullying gay students. Sex columnist Dan Savage of the It Gets Better Project is making a special appearance this Friday in a post-show discussion with his brother, Bill Savage. The play runs through March 18, with matinee performances available for school groups, and public performances Saturdays and Sundays.

Agony & Ecstacy of Steve Jobs in Chicago

WBEZ and This American Life are bringing The Agony & The Ecstacy of Steve Jobs, a one-man show by Steve Daisy, to Chicago for a performance on April 7 at the Chicago Theatre. Ira Glass will do a Q&A afterward. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, March 1 at 10am.

TAL aired an adapted version of the monologue in January, and it quickly became one of the most-listened-to episodes in the show's history.

New Opera from Chicago

The Lyric Opera announced it will host the world premiere of "Bel Catno," as part of its Renée Fleming Initiative. It will be the seventh premiere the Lyric has commissioned since 1961.

Two by Two

It's been announced that tickets for the much-anticipated Book of Mormon will go on sale March 19 -- with the Bank of America Theater box office opening at 12:01am for the occasion.

Rick Bayless in Cascabel?

Chicago Magazine has written up Rick Bayless' new, um, project- a musical theater/dinner service/circus at the Lookingglass Theater running March 21 to April 22. Tickets start at $200 and include beverages, a three course meal and the chance to watch the host of Mexico: One Plate at a Time woo a long-lost love in a 1940's boarding house.

Explore the Fake Museum

Kyle Thiessen didn't win the Museum of Science & Industry's "Month at the Museum" contest, so he decided to create his own version, the Fake Month at the Museum. Catch him next Tuesday at A Red Orchid Theater for a screening of all the episodes and the debut a new one -- plus interactive trivia games, quizzes and more.

Gorilla Tangos All the Way Down

Gorilla Tango Theatre is just the most visible portion of a vast Gorilla Tango empire -- an empire that has money to help creative projects in need.

Add Salsa to the Mix

Gozamos helpfully rounds up where to Salsa dance every night of the week in Chicago.

Major Players

NewCity ranks the top 50 people in Chicago's performing arts scene.

Laughing Through the Snow

Tonight at Mayne Stage, Atomic Comics features some of the city's top standup talent. It doubles as a book drive for Zealous Good, and you could win a prize from GB in the raffle.

Protectors of the Internet

The MPAA essentially declared Ars Technica the enemy for its stance against SOPA, calling it a "tech blog with a long history of challenging efforts to curb content theft" -- or put another way, a site with a long history of not supporting badly written laws that will destroy the Internet.

Enough to Make Your Head Spin

Just happened upon some footage that features some of the best bboys, or breakdancers, in the city, battling it out at the Alternatives Youth Center back in November.

A Year in Theater

2012 promises to be a great year for theater in Chicago, with new hits Book of Mormon, American Idiot and Bring it On: The Musical, as well as classic revivals of South Pacific, Mamma Mia and Cats. All of which is to say nothing of huge non-musical offerings.

Confounding Fathers

The year is 2012, and six of the Founding Fathers have been kidnapped through time to be props in the presidential election. Follow the antics of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the new transmedia series, "I Made America."

Get Sketched Out

Sketchfest, the self-proclaimed world's largest sketch comedy festival kicks off tonight and runs through the 15th. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll hopefully not find a naked man in the front row.

The Nutcrackerest

The Joffrey Ballet has won The Nutty, a national award I didn't even know existed for the best rendition of The Nutcracker. You can still catch a performance at the Auditorium Theatre at 2pm today and tomorrow.

Best of the Funniest

The A.V. Club sifts through the 40-dozen comedy events happening in town on any given week and picks their four favorite on-going shows.

Adults in Tiaras

The Katydids, who perform on Sundays at iO, imagine what those beauty pageant kids grow up to be like.

Help the Neo-Futurists by Drinking Beer!

The Neo-Futurists are teaming up with a bevy of local & regional beer brewers for a benefit to help the theater: The Neoccasion will feature beer tasting, a live auction, a sample of the work that the theater normally does, and a taste of an upcoming Neo-Futurist show. The benefit happens this Friday; details in Slowdown.

Points for Plays

In an effort to keep people going to the show, Broadway in Chicago rolled out a new "Audience Rewards" program this week.

Chicago Theatre Turns 90

The Chicago Theatre opened on Oct. 26, 1921, and in honor of its 90th birthday, the theater is offering special tours today through Wednesday at 6pm. The tours will include a rare performance by the theater's Wurlitzer pipe organ.

Dancing with Cats

Dance Chicago has a secret sideline in cat rescue.

Kathy Griffin Presale for GB Readers

Kathy Griffin returns to the Chicago Theatre again Jan. 21 & 22. Tickets go on sale Friday, but you can use the password GAPERS to get tickets during the presale, which runs Wednesday at 10am until Thursday at 10pm.

Colin Quinn to Visit The Second City

Colin Quinn, stand-up comedian and writer best known for Saturday Night Live and MTV's Remote Control, will visit the Second City training Center (Donny's Skybox) on Thursday, September 8th at 1 pm. Quinn will share his experiences in comedy, followed by an exclusive Q&A with students of The Second City Training Center. Quinn is in Chicago promoting his one-man show Colin Quinn, Long Story Short, directed by Jerry Seinfeld. Tickets and show information are available here.

If You Boombox It They Will Dance

The Decentralized Dance Party, which sounds a little like Critical Mass meets rave, plans to come to Chicago in December, but only if there are enough people committed to making it happen.

Theatre on the Fringes

Looking for something edgy this Labor Day weekend? The Chicago Fringe Festival started last night and runs through the 11th, with more than three dozen performances of experimental theatrical works this weekend alone.

Jeff Award Nominees Announced

The Goodman and Timeline Theater tie for most nominations with 17. Winners to be announced Nov. 7 at Drury Lane Oakbrook.

Welcome to The Ville

Andersonville may get a new theater complex.

Desi Beach Party

This weekend, Hollywood Beach briefly transformed into Bollywood Beach.

Nathan Lane, Brian Dennehy to Lead in Iceman Cometh

And with a cast that good, how bleak can it be? Coming next April to the Goodman Theater.

Black Theatre Breaks Out

The Chicago News Cooperative surveys the city's African-American theatre scene and finds signs of change

Free Concert, Cheap Tickets

Broadway in Chicago puts on a free sampling of current musicals in the Petrillo Music Shell at Taste of Chicago tonight at 6pm -- and is offering a discount on tickets to the shows featured.

Hwang Dang Doodle

Three Chicago theaters are staging plays by playwright David Henry Hwang this year. The Goodman Theatre will premiere his latest work, Chinglish, while the Silk Road Theatre Project and Halcyon Theatre will be staging earlier works. [via]

Pasties & G(eek)-Strings

The brains behind Boobs & Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque are teasing the titillation out of all manner of geekery. Now playing at Gorilla Tango Theater are Gleeks & Freaks, which uncovers "Glee," and Fellowship of the Boobs, which strips bare a variety of fantasy realms. A burlesque take on Star Trek is coming this fall.

Christmas in June

The Encyclopedia Show ends its season tomorrow night with a Christmas show. Yes, Christmas.

Storefront Love

The non-equity nominees for the 2011 Jeff Jefferson theater awards were announced today -- the awards ceremony will be June 6.

Where Music Narrates Life

Tonight's the opening night for the much-anticipated production of Passing Strange by Bailiwick Chicago. Read our preview of this unique musical, featuring JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound in Transmission.

Duude, See a Play

Brown Paper Box remounts Reefer Madness: The Musical tonight for two special 4/20 performances. You should totally go, man.

Local Pulitzer Winners

The Sun-Times won a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting, while playwright Bruce Norris won for his Clybourne Park.

Large-Scale Recycling

According to this report by WBEZ -- old municipal buildings never die, they just turn into theaters. Next in line? Griffin Theatre Company -- they just bought an abandoned police station near Foster and Damen for one dollar. When your neighborhood police station gets replaced by a theater, well, I think that's a good sign.

British Theatre in Chicago

The National Theatre is broadcasting Frankenstein, a new play directed by Danny Boyle, live in HD around the world, and you can catch performances at the Music Box in late April and May.

Striking a Pose

Related to our feature on Chicago's underground ball scene, here's a video from 1990 of the House of Avant-Garde performing to Madonna's "Vogue."

The video was a submission to an MTV contest to promote Madonna's tour, and was one of 10 winning finalists shown on the music television station. [via]

Taking it Off Takes Off

The Windy City Burlesque Fest kicks off with a free show at Hydrate tonight. Details in Slowdown.

Tiger Blood Will Fill the Streets

Charlie Sheen's train of crazy will be stopping at the Chicago Theater on April 3 as part of his one-man show, "My Violent Torpedo of Truth."

From Tron to My Little Pony

The Neo-Futurists are celebrating their 10th anniversary of their "filmfest" (staged readings of bad movie scripts), and are planning on re-mounting the most popular titles from previous years. See the Neos' blog for information on how to vote for your favorites!

$25 on the 25th

Broadway in Chicago has a new discount ticket program! However, you have to jump through some hoops. According to the press release, "[The] deal is available through Facebook only for Broadway In Chicago Facebook fans and valid only on the 25th of each month. This Friday, February 25th, a select number of $25 tickets will be offered for Working: The Musical at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place for various performances in March."

From Ebay to Opera

The Reader shares the fascinating tale of a collection of letters bought on Ebay by monologist David Kodeski, now destined to become a contemporary opera.

Laughs Again at Lakeshore

LA's Laugh Factory plans to open a Chicago outpost in the currently shuttered Lakeshore Theater.

Burlesque Fest is Taking Off

The Windy City Burlesque Festival returns March 17-19, and tickets are on sale now.

Political Theater

Mayoral Tutorial is a political performance piece with a purpose: to educate you on who the candidates are and what they stand for. The show runs through Feb. 19 at Center Portion.

A Musical Hurricane

Do312 interviewed Kill Hannah's Mat Devine about his role in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

An Enchanted Evening with Mr. Schue

Calling all Gleeks! Glee's own Mr. Schuester, Matthew Morrison, will headline "One Enchanted Decade," a fundraiser for the Goodman Theatre's education and community engagement programs, on May 21.

Ed Bus Press Conference

Alderman Ed Bus of the 53rd Ward and candidate for mayor, is holding a press conference at City Hall Thursday morning at 10:30am. You're invited to ask him questions.

Being Belarus Free Theatre

The Goodman, Northwestern and the League of Chicago Theatres have hatched a plan to arrange asylum for the politically oppressed Belarus Free Theatre, who're bringing their play, Being Harold Pinter, to Chicago next month.

Hoping for Callbacks

Simple Auditions brings the simplicity of tech job boards to the theatre world.

A Week Standing Up

Speaking of comedy, Emerson Dameron does a seven-day marathon of stand-up and lives to tell about it in A/C.

Chicago's Detroit to New York

Steppenwolf Theatre's well-received play Detroit is heading to Broadway this fall.

Vote, Donna Touch

Local dancer Donna Touch is in the lead for Viva Las Vegas' Rockabilly Weekender burlesque competition -- but she'll need your vote to stay there.

SketchFest Hits Town

Looking for some laughs? The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival kicks off tonight and runs through the 16th.

Winter Love, Chicago-Style

Redmoon Theater's beloved annual Winter Pageant was featured on the most recent episode "Fear No Art Chicago."

Bike Dancers Wanted

Ladies, do you like to ride bikes and dance? If so, The Racketeers BMX dance troupe is looking for some new recruits.

Letters to Santa

Second City's star-studded Letters to Santa 24-hour music and comedy marathon starts at 8pm and runs through 8pm tomorrow. Tickets are just $15, and since they're only available at the door starting at 6:30, you better go get in line! (Can't make it? They'll be streaming it live online.)

40 Plays in 18 Days

According to Jonathan Abarbanel, there's just no way to review all the plays opening in November. [via]

Ebenezer Scrooge Is Without Honor!

A Klingon Christmas Carol is finally coming to Chicago. You heard me right.

Honoring Tina Hilariously

When she's not singing the praises of Chicago's roasted chicken offerings, Tina Fey is poised to become the youngest recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor tonight at the Kennedy Center. Catch the broadcast of the award show on Sunday 11/14 on PBS.

Explore Steppenwolf's Detroit

Steppenwolf brings a little of its current play, Detroit, to Urban Burger, 1578 N. Clybourn Ave., in an event called "Explore: The World of Detroit" tomorrow night. Watch a "pop-up performance" and art inspired by Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, eat, and write a haiku about "the plight, or renaissance, of the mid-American city in a post-globalization economy" for a chance to win a trip to Detroit (the city). Free, but you must RSVP.

(Portrait) Election Day

Tonight the Neo-Futurists unveil the Obama portrait in their collection of Presidential portraits known as the Hall of Presidents. To celebrate the occasion they've planned an evening of theater and entertainment. Details in Slowdown.

Your Daily Dose of Del

Nine minutes of interview footage with Del Close from public access. [via]

Simplifying the Actor's Life

Created by a member of local theatre troupe Abraham Werewolf, the new site Simple Auditions aims to connect actors with auditions in the Chicago area. If you're interested in casting some talent, they're offering free listings until October 15th.

Styx and Journey

Boy meets girl. Boy has to put on awesome rock concert to save the day. But wait, it's also a musical! Rock of Ages, a Broadway hit and amazing combination of genres, comes to Chicago next week.

Honoring Oprah

The 33rd annual Kennedy Center Honors have been announced, and the incomparable Oprah Winfrey is to be lauded in December with a lively celebration in Washington. Also on the list for the night are some other people named Paul McCartney, Merle Haggard, Bill T. Jones, and Jerry Herman. You know, if time permits.

Big Money for About Face and Saracho

About Face Theatre is the proud recipient of $20,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts' New Play Development Program for "The Albert Cashier Project" by Tanya Saracho.

Get to Him Before Rob Schneider Does

Tonight is the last time to see Jim Paul Jet Paul at iO Chicago, which features future "Saturday Night Live" performer Paul Brittain.

DIY Bollywood

Want to make your own Bollywood-style movie? The first step is getting the choreography down. BollyRitmo can show you how it's done. You might also want to get seats up front for The Merchants of Bollywood at the Auditorium Theater Oct. 1-2.

Tales of the Tassles

Behind the Burly-Q, a documentary about the rise, fall, and revival of burlesque, opens Friday night for a week's run at the Siskel Film Center. The director will be at the Friday and Saturday screenings, and our own Steve at the Movies will moderate Saturday's discussion. Roger Ebert reviews the film and digs up a 1968 interview with star Tempest Storm.

Exploding Soon In New York

Of the handful of Chicago shows that are heading to this year's New York International Fringe Festival, you have a chance to see one of the best this weekend: Dean Evans' Magical Exploding Boy, a great physical comedy show featuring astronauts, amoebas, and an evil baby doll. Check the trailer on YouTube and then see it tonight and tomorrow at Prop Thtr (tickets at Brown Paper Tickets).

Lights! Camera! Help!

DirectorsLabChicago is bringing a free panel of stage directors tomorrow night to talk about...directing. Discussion will be moderated by Mark Sutton. Panelists will include artistic directors Henry Godinez of the Goodman Theatre, Charlie Newell of the Court Theatre, Mick Napier of The Annoyance Theatre and John Sparks of Theatre Building Chicago/New Musical Program. Check it out here.

Galileo & Robots in Wicker Park

The Chicago Robotic Theater is mounting its first show in a Wicker Park storefront today, and needs cash to keep it going. It's just one of the current crop on Kickstarter projects hoping for funding.

Theatre Grows in Albany Park

The Albany Park Theater Project does much more than just put on plays. Learn more about it in A/C.

Are You Armando Diaz Experienced?

The Armando Diaz Experience at the iO is long-form improvisation in which a monologist tells personal stories that provide the inspiration for the resulting scenes. The cast is often joined by guests from "MADtv," "Saturday Night Live," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," The Second City and more.

Be There: The Jabberwocky

How often do you get the chance to see some serious shadow puppetry? Thursday night at 8:30pm, The Jabberwocky will be performed at 3 Bros Auto Repair, 3722 W. Belmont Ave. BYOC (bring your own chair)!

No Need to Get Fünke

Blue Man Group will be holding open auditions on June 16. It's not necessary to blue yourself.

This is Spinal Tap Weekend

Not only is there a burlesque tribute to Spinal Tap this weekend, but Empty Bottle is screening the classic rock flick Sunday night.

Neo-Futurists' Film Fest Announced

The most wonderful time of the year is when the Neo-Futurists announce the lineup of their annual "film fest," which are weekly staged readings of bad film scripts performed live by a different group of actors each night. The AV Club has this year's lineup, which includes Supergirl, Billy Jack, My Little Pony: The Movie and an ambitious-sounding combination of Roger Corman's Viking women and the Sea Serpent and the Peter Weiss play Marat/Sade. Clear your Thursday evenings in July, because this is one film fest you won't want to miss.

Which Seats are Really the Best Seats in the House?

These seats.

David Cromer's Odyssey

New City profiles director David Cromer, from humble storefront theater beginnings to the top of Broadway.

joH'a' ghurmoH maH Hoch wa' *

The creators of A Klingon Christmas Carol want to bring the show to Chicago this year, and they need your help.

*That would be "God bless us, every one!"

Preserve or Perish

Landmarks Illinois released its annual list of most endangered historic places today, and Chicago's Uptown Theatre and Prentice Women's Hospital make the cut along with the St. Lawrence Complex and North Pullman. (Related: the Uptown just launched a Twitter feed this week.)

Chicago's Got Talent (We Hope)

The Chicago Theatre will be hosting auditions for the next season of reality/variety show "America's Got Talent" on April 27th and 28th. If you're interested in seeing what our fine city has to offer, for better or for worse, free tickets are currently available.

The Original Grease Returns

The musical Grease began its life in Chicago, and was pretty racy before being cleaned up for Broadway and Hollywood. The original R-rated version is set for a revival at the American Theater Company next spring.

The Play is the Thing to Do

Chicago theaters are seeing higher ticket sales -- which is a good thing, since philanthropic support and state funding have dropped.

Oh, Shiz! Wicked Returns

The most successful Broadway in Chicago musical is returning for an 8-week limited engagement, beginning Dec. 1, 2010, reports the Tribune. (We would have announced sooner, but the release we received asked us to wait until morning.)

Dream Theatre

Pilsen's Dream Theatre Company breaks down walls and gives women good roles. A profile of the company is this week's feature in A/C.

Laugh at This

Sketchfest kicks off tonight, and Michelle Peterson has an interview with founder Brian Posen in A/C.

Local Theater Companies Win Big

The New Colony and Sideshow Theater Company each won $25,000 in the Chase Community Giving competition that recently ran on Facebook.

Party Like it's 1975

If tonight's GB Holiday Party doesn't appeal, maybe you'd rather take a step back to the mid-'70s with Steppenwolf. Tonight only, the theater is converting its Garage into Merle's Place, the setting of David Mamet's American Buffalo, and welcoming you in for free with RSVP.

An Off-The-Record Evening

If you know of the Verbatim Verboten series of performances, you know that they consist of local authors and actors performing off-the-record moments from the private lives of famous people (think Martin & Lewis for "The Caddy" and Britney's rant in Rio). And if you're a fan of the show, tonight's your special night, as Verbatim Verboten kicks off a new series with a HUGE show (over 50 actors scheduled to appear!). Details in Slowdown.

Second City's 50

The Second City celebrates its 50th anniversary with a series of insanely expensive shows Dec. 11-13. Since you probably can't afford to get in, Time Out's multi-story feature in this week's issue might be the second-best way to get to know the many faces who've graced that famous stage.

Local Playwright Makes Good

Chicago playwright Marisa Wegrzyn won the 2009 Wasserstein Prize for her new play, Hickordickory.

A Banana for Tickets

No joke! If you bring a banana to the Chicago Theatre box office today starting at 11:30am, you get a free pair of tickets to the 11/18 dress rehearsal of Cirque du Soleil's Banana Shpeel show. Hold your fruit! Those tickets are all gone.

Get Your Halloween Costume from The Joffrey Ballet

We have Joffrey Ballet's first-ever costume sale on the calendar for tomorrow, because that's when it's free, but for $20 you can get a preview and first pick tonight from 5:30 to 8:30pm.

Splatter Theater

Centerstage runs down some theater alternatives to horror movies to get you into the Halloween mood.

Where to Swing

Looking for some swing music? WindyHop is your resource for classes and concerts, while This Week in Chicago gives you the latest on swing nights around town. (Thanks, Dubi!)

SCTV Reunion Tickets On Sale Today!

As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, Second City is hosting a reunion of the cast members of SCTV (Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Harold Ramis, Martin Short and Dave Thomas) on Friday, December 11. Tickets go on sale today at 10am (see the Second City 50th anniversary page for details), and range from a standard ticket price of $175 to a VIP package for $750.

More Recognition for Chicago on Broadway

The NYTimes details Chicago's current influence on Broadway ... although it doesn't know Chicago does have an East Side.

Another Chicago Production to Hit Broadway

In 2007, one of our home-grown dramas went to New York--August: Osage County, which won a Tony for best play. Next spring, the musical Million Dollar Quartet, about the night Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash got together at Sun Records, heads to Broadway. For now, you can still catch it at the Apollo Theater for a reasonable price.

Breakfast Club Burlesque

Speaking of John Hughes, here's an unusual tribute: Burlesque maven Ms. Bea Haven's beginner's burlesque class at The Galaxie this Saturday will dance to an all-John Hughes movie soundtrack. (Not sure if she'll teach Ally Sheedy's Breakfast Club dance moves.)

Performing Pooches

The Dog Saving Network is putting a unique spin on dog show performances here in Chicago, with a reality TV show in the works. Details in A/C.

Boing Boing Meet-up

Boing Boing co-founder Cory Doctorow's book Little Brother has been adapted into a play by Griffin Theatre, and Doctorow will be at this Thursday's performance. If you're unable to make the show, there's a meet-up at Jack's/404 Wine Bar beforehand.

Ten Minutes of Radio Terror

WildClaw Theatre, the local theater company that focuses on horror productions, invites authors to submit ten-minute radio scripts to Deathscribe 2009, their second annual festival of short radio plays. The submission deadline is the end of July. Details at the WildClaw Website. (via)

Funny Every Day

Joe Janes is writing a comedy sketch every day for a year.

They Giveth and Taketh

As computers become increasingly important to live performances, their glitches are becoming all the more problematic ... just ask Saturday night's Mary Poppins attendees.

Hi, Fidelity

A revised production of the Broadway musical High Fidelity will open August 17 at Piper's Alley. The original Broadway run only lasted 10 days.

Facebook: The Stage Show

Tellin' Tales Theatre tries to combine the social interaction of Facebook with the sit-down action of live theater with its new show In Your Facebook, featuring solo performances from local talent (including local Facebook expert Dave Awl). Details available in Slowdown.

Ice on Ice

This Thursday, the Neo-Futurists are doing a dramatic reading of Cool as Ice this weekend as part of their annual Film Fest series -- and it just so happens that Vanilla Ice is headlining Cans Outdoor Music Fest this weekend -- so Decider got Vanilla and Neo-Futurist Dina Connolly together for an interview.

Crash Dance Contest

Crash Dance Theater is hosting its annual Keeper of the Floor championship competition this Friday -- and we've got a contest in A/C for two tickets to see it!


If you were waiting for a reason to go see Griffin Theatre's adaptation of A-list blogger Cory Doctorow's YA novel Little Brother, consider this your sign: Doctorow himself will be attending the play on July 9. Look for the guy in goggles and a red cape.

Dueling Blagos

Risking some sort of disruption in the time-space continuum, the star of Second City's Rod Blagojevich, Superstar and the REAL Blago will appear on stage together this Saturday at a performance of the show at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. Wonder if the real Blago tried to sell his part in the show?

His Kind of Town

We're Johnny Depp's favorite U.S. city. But the star of the upcoming Public Enemies, filmed here, isn't leaving the south of France anytime soon to move into a bungalow on the Northwest Side.

Muddy Tickets

In A/C, we have a quick ticket contest for Mud People, Mary Arrchie Theatre Co.'s latest play about life in the Midwest.

Moving from the Bench to the Boards

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will take to the stage appearing as the Ghost from Hamlet as part of a Shakespeare and the Law conference in Hyde Park.

Superior Indeed

The Steppenwolf's Superior Donuts could be the second Tracy Letts production to hit Broadway in three years.

The "Chemistry" of Art and Science

The Goodman is doing the unholy/impossible/fascinating: Pairing art and science. As part of the ongoing Science Chicago initiative, the Goodman will offer three free readings from Tom Stoppard, Richard Rhodes and Caryl Churchill, exploring their scientific themes. Readings take place on June 8, 15 and 22, with post-play discussions. Call for reservations: 312.443.3800.

The Latest Version

Version, a festival of arts, music and education, kicks off tonight and runs through May 2. This year's theme is "Immodest Proposals."

Photographing a Sketchbook

Collaboraction's annual SKETCHBOOK Festival, running now, inspired collaborations with photographers; the results are featured in A/C.

Get Close to Spidey on Broadway

An open casting call for Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark - Directed by Julie Taymor, with music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge - will be held May 7 in Chicago at a location to be announced. (The musical opens in New York Feb. 18, 2010.) For more information, email the producers or visit Spiderman on Broadway.

Pulitzer Play

Chicago's newspapers may not have won a Pulitzer Prize this year, but a play commissioned by the Goodman Theatre did. It's Ruined, by Lynn Nottage.

Cast Adrift

A conflict of "creative differences" has resulted in 23 members of the city's American Theater Company, many of them founders of ATC, splitting the group and forming a new ensemble under the ATC's original name, American Blues Theater.

Encyclopedic Performance

In A/C, Lindsay Muscato interviews one of the founders of The Encyclopedia Show, a new monthly performance series.

A Brainy Boogie

The AAAS, publisher of the prestigious journal Science, is holding its annual meeting in town this year. As a result, Chicago was host to one of the more unique mash-ups in recent history: science and interpretive dance. You can see the winning entries that were combined for the Chicago dance on the contest website.

Remembering Wicked

As of Sunday, Wicked will close in Chicago. The Trib shares remembrances of the show from the cast and crew going back to the beginning.

Ticket Sales for 'Chitty' Are...

Due to "slower than expected" ticket sales, the Chicago engagement of the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has been cancelled. NOW were will we get our flying car fix?

Book Your Tickets

The House Theatre and Open Books are teaming up for a book drive, in honor of the House Theatre's new show Rose and the Rime. Donate your books to Open Books and you'll get a discount on tickets for the show. Details at the Open Books blog.

Rolling Meadows

After 10 years on Saturday Night Live, comedian Tim Meadows rolls back into the city where he got his start and, after films and sitcoms, returns to live comedy.

The Real Rydell High

Eight Forty-Eight interviews Jim Jacobs, Chicagoan and co-author of Grease, about the real-life events that birthed the musical.

Is the Time Is the Place Is the Motion

Did you know that Grease was based on Chicago's Taft High School in the late '50s?

House Theatre Doomsday?

The House Theatre has pulled out all the stops in its latest appeal letter, alerting fans that it may be about to cancel its next show. (The same letter also warns that Chicago may become *** dun dun dun*** St. Louis with a lake, if The House ceases to exist.)

London Theater Scene Fancies Chicago Theater Scene?

The arrival of Steppenwolf playwright Tracy Letts' August: Osage County at the National Theater in London has made the British realize their common bonds with Chicago's theater scene, notably the "quality of the right to fail." Hmph.

Chicago Theater as Seen by New York

Chicago politicos aren't the only Chicagoans getting national coverage these days. Exhibit A: theater director David Cromer's profile in the NY Times.

Thing Sings?

The Addam's Family musical will debut at the Oriental Theater in November 2009. It hasn't been cast yet, but Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth have participated in readings as Gomez and Lurch. Just kidding. Obviously, the lovely and pale Ms. Neuwirth was born to play Morticia.

RIP: Gerald Arpino

Co-founder and chief choreographer of Chicago's internationally-renowned Joffrey Ballet passed away earlier today at the age of 86.

Political Theatrics

If the drama in Washington and comedy of the election just aren't enough politics for you, Theater Oobleck has a little more for you. Catch The Trojan Candidate, which imagines that Dick Cheney is a virus from outer space. Yes. It runs through Election Eve, Nov. 3.

Enter, Stage Left

Chicago Magazine interviews nine veterans of the Chicago stage.

"They Better Be Good"

The Reader has a great excerpt from a book by Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen about their experiences as the first black-and-white stand-up team.

Addressing Lacism

Stir-Friday Night, Chicago's longstanding Asian-American improv troupe, debuted Horry Kow, That's Lacist! last Friday at Donny's Skybox Theatre in Pipers Alley, if you couldn't guess from the title, it touches on the infamous Fukudome shirts and other subtle and not-so-subtle forms of racism.

Another Good Day for Tracy Letts

After winning Pulitzer, Tony and Drama Desk awards for August: Osage County, Steppenwolf playwright Tracy Letts has a new reason to celebrate: the play is going to the silver screen.

Uptown Theater Sold

Jam Productions has acquired the long-shuttered Uptown Theater for $3.2 mil in a foreclosure sale, as reported by Crain's. (Thanks to Uptown Update for the tip.)

Jersey Boys Remains Smoke-Free

The City Council deferred action on Alderman Brendan Reilly's plan for an exemption to the smoking ban for live theater, meaning that Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons still don't get their smokes.

A Pleasant Annoyance

The Chicago Examiner looks at the top five moments in Annoyance Theater history. Yes, Co-Ed Prison Sluts is on the list.

From Osage to Donuts

Tracy Letts' latest play is a far cry from his award-winning August: Osage County, but that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable.

Racist Language + Public Park = Controversy

The production of "Ragtime" set to be performed in Wilmette's Gillson Park was cancelled two weeks before opening due to concerns over its racially charged language.

Beach Blanket Bingo Live!

My favorite time of the year starts tonight, when the Neo-Futurists kick off their annual "film fest" of staged readings of classic (and not-so-classic) bad films. Tonight's premiere reading is of the classic beach party flick Beach Blanket Bingo, which will feature Chicago dance troupe The Revelettes. For a complete film fest schedule and to get tickets please visit the Neo-Futurist Website.

Art in the Salon

Tonight at ROOMS Gallery's monthly Salon, there will be theatre, film, burlesque, music and, um, clowning, all for just $3.

Even Better than Tony Danza

Chicago theaters kicked major ass at tonight's Tonys awards ceremony, with Steppenwolf's August: Osage County winning several awards for Best Play, Best Leading Actress, Best Director, Best Featured Actress, and Best Scenic Design. Chicago Shakespeare Theater also took home a regional Tony last month. Congrats!

Not Dead Yet

Wicked just celebrated its third (and supposedly, final) anniversary in Chicago. Arrive "GREEN-ified" (i.e., dressed all witchy-like) at Millennium Park on June 24th, 11 a.m., to celebrate. No word on where the party will be next year, after a giant, falling house saves us all from another year of the show.

Latest Belushi Gets Serious

Another Belushi, Jim's son Rob, joins the line of entertainers from that famous Chicago family. But this one is going for the dramatic roles, currently rehearsing for The Lion In Winter in Glencoe's Writer's Theater.

Laugh It Up Tonight

Just got word that TJ Miller is the secret guest star at the Chicago Underground Comedy show at the Beat Kitchen tonight at 9pm. Just $5!

Second City Founder Paul Sills has Died

"Paul was the Orson Welles of improv," says Jeffrey Sweet.

Burlesque Bootcamp

Chicago's very own Miss Exotic World, Michelle L'Amour, is opening her own dance school later this month. Studio L'Amour will focus mostly on burlesque, offering beginning through advanced classes--and even classes for men.

A Funny Week Lies Ahead

The Chicago Improv Festival begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday, bringing some of the finest names in comedy, such as 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer, John Lutz and Scott Adsit, as well as Human Giant's Paul Scheer, to Lakeshore Theater for a series of nightly shows that will certainly entertain.

Tony! Toni! Toné!

After 22 years of productions, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater has earned the 2008 Tony Award for excellence in regional theater. It's the fourth Tony for best regional theater given to a Chicago establishment -- more than any other city. Bravo!

Even More Strangerer

Just got word from Theater Oobleck that their remount of The Strangerer (the melding of a Bush/Kerry 2004 Presidential debate with Camus' novel) has been extended through June 29. If you want to see the play that the Reader called "unpredictable, hilarious, and provocative," check out the Theater Oobleck Website for full details.

A Great May for August

The Steppenwolf Theater's production of August: Osage County, written by Tracy Letts and a big hit on Broadway, picked up seven Tony Award nominations. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater received the 2008 Tony Award for excellence in regional theater.

Jump Back...

Only two days remain in the Dance Movie Blogathon! Learn yourself all about David Bowie's footwork in Labyrinth, Kevin Bacon's prototypical Angry Young Dancer ("I'm so angry I'm dancing up against backlit silo walls") -- and so very much more. [via]

These Birds Have Flown

If you're planning to buy tickets for the May 14 Flight of the Conchords performance at the Chicago Theater, you're out of luck: tickets went on sale today, and sold out in less than one hour.

Save Your Fork, There's Pie

Spring is in the air, and The Chicago Gay Men's Chorus are back with an all-American show! Titled "Apple Pie," the chorus' tribute to Americana will be performed the first weekend in April at the Athenaeum Theatre. Details in Slowdown.

Chicago Boys

Jersey Boys has now officially taken up residence in our fair city.

It's Curtains for the Dolly Show

American Girl Place will be canceling its run of the The American Girls Revue theater show as of September 1, citing a need to find "new entertaining experiences for our guests." As if creepy, overpriced plastic dolls and their endless accessories weren't entertaining enough.

Where Do They Get These Names?

Chicagoans Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis will follow-up their distinctively-monikered, Tony Award-winning stage musical Urinetown with another eye-catchingly named musical, Yeast Nation. The story takes places in the year 3,000,458,000 B.C. The show will have its Chicago premier as part of the America Theater Company's 2008-09 season.

An 8-Hour Workday and No Time for Facebook

This afternoon, the cruel overlords at Chicago Sketchfest gave teams of performers a mere 8 hours in which to write, direct and rehearse an entire 30-minute sketch show. Tonight, see what the teams cooked up: Octasketch, 8pm at Theatre Building Chicago; tickets are $5.

Happy Sketchfestivus!

As noted in this week's GB Podcast and posted below, tonight is the start of the Chicago Sketchfest. The Bastion is a good resource for knowing what's worth seeing.

The Witch Reaches New Heights

Wicked, which celebrated its 1000th show at the Oriental Theatre in November, grossed $1.4 million between Dec. 24 and Dec. 30, breaking two box office records: its own and Chicago's.

Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival Opening Night

The seventh annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival opens tonight, showcasing the best in sketch comedy from around Chicago and across the globe (actually just the US and Canada). Check out the full schedule and randomly select a wacky-sounding ensemble to see. The festival runs through January 13 at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont. For ticket info, call the box office at (773) 327-5252.

Review: Bicycle Men @ Lakeshore Theater

The Bicycle Men, a sketch comedy show featuring native Chicagoan Dan Castellaneta, begins a promising four-day run at the Lakeshore Theater tonight

Castellaneta, known for his voicework for the Simpsons, plays Steve, an uptight guy stranded in a French town full of R-rated puppet shows, restaurants that are never open, and an inept repair shop when his bicycle breaks down. The show is a mix of musical numbers that range from outlandish lullabyes for a baby ("You can pray, but no one will hear you") to a homage to fake breasts and dialogue between Steve and L'Homme du Bicyclette (Second City alum John Rubano), a God-like character who keeps reminding him that the only way to leave town is on a bicycle. While a few of the jokes were somewhat corny, the acting was committed and strong (especially from Castenellata, whose normal voice sounds exactly like Mayor Quimby, which was distracting at times), and overall the show did get a lot of laughs and is memorable. Recommended. Tickets are $35, show is at 8pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; the Sunday 3pm performance is a benefit for the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Ovarian Cancer Early Detection & Prevention Program.

Classical Comps

Chicago Classical Music recently revamped their site and is promoting it with a contest for free tickets and other swag. Log in as a registered user before the 19th to be eligible to win.

Join The Fowler Family (But Don't Really Join It)

Be one of those people who can say "I saw them back in the day," and go check out the Fowler Family Radio Hour's Christmas season shows. This isn't your parents' variety hour, primarily because Charo is not involved. It's performance, interactivity, character development and ab-workout hilarious, with the added benefit of also letting you laugh at rubes. Get down to the Skybox on Wells and meet the Fowlers.

Improv Vets Return Home for a Show has a good interview with actor and "SNL" writer Kevin Dorff, who's back in town along with Horatio Sanz and a few other veterans of the Chicago improv scene for a show at the Lakeshore Theater Tuesday night.

The Show Must Go On

August: Osage County, the critically acclaimed play by Chicagoan Tracy Letts, has moved from Steppenwolf to Broadway. Unfortunately, Broadway stagehands went on strike this weekend, shutting down the New York theatre scene. They're in negotiations.

New York {hearts} Chicago

Two Chicago-area theater companies high-tailed it to New York City this week to perform at 59E59, a theater complex in Manhattan that aims to present new, challenging work. The Hypocrites are presenting Sean Graney's The 4th Graders Present an Unnamed Love-Suicide, last performed in 2004, and Writers' Theatre is staging its own Crime and Punishment. The performances are part of 59E59's "Go Chicago!" series, and Tribune columnist Chris Jones says this might be part of a trend to bring more Chicago theater eastward.

Art: What?

Inspired by My Kid Could Paint That (the documentary of a father who sold his four year-old daughter's paintings for big bucks), the what-is-art debate rages amongst Chicago's storefront theater intelligentsia over at the blog Angry White Guy. You can still catch the film in Wilmette and rue your own unappreciated kinder-masterpieces, or see Mr. Fluxus at The Neo-Futurarium and decide whether you agree with Yoko Ono's take on art.

The Idiots Come to Chicago

Come see Craig Anton, a founding member of MadTV and Ron Lynch (Tom Goes to Mayor, Sarah Silverman Program) duke it out as Watson and Crick's less brilliant children in the comedy show The Idiots, which is at Lakeshore Theater (Belmont and Broadway) tonight at 8:00 p.m. Click here for tickets.

Halsted to Broadway

Crain's has a nice profile of Chicago theater impresario Steve Traxler and the gamble he's taking bringing a challenging, but acclaimed, Steppenwolf show to New York's Broadway.

Manos: Rock Opera of Fate Toddles to the Stage

Wave that nerd flag high. My personal geekery is bound to my undying love of the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000, which ran on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel throughout the 1990s. To many MSTies, the apex of the series was its amazing send-up of the 1996 "horror" movie, Manos: Hands of Fate -- a flick that's so bad and yet feels so good. If you share my love of all things Torgo, you'll be pleased as punch to learn that the New Millennium Theatre Company is currently showing their satirical production of Manos: Rock Opera of Fate. The show will be playing through Nov. 3, and you can learn get tickets online or at 312-458-9083. I went last night, and let me just say: The Master would be very pleased.

It's Thriller! Thriller Night

On Oct. 27/28, people around the world will do the "Thriller" dance en masse simultaneously in an effort to break the world record (yes, there's a world record for this.) The local contingent is organizing now.

Wing Man

The Sox tanked, the Cubs are done and the Bears are shaky. Well here you go sports fans: the new chicken wing eating champion of the world is Chicago's own Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti! Congrats man.

The Chicago Theatre's New New York Connection

The Chicago Theatre may soon be in the company of Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, given the completion of its proposed sale to Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

House Kicked Out

The House Theater has lost its lease at the hangar-like Viaduct Theatre on Western and must find other digs after its current show closes next month. Fortunately, the critical darlings' next show will be staged at Steppenwolf, and The Sparrow remount is still going strong at the Apollo. The House probably won't be homeless for long.

Drunken Debauchery -- and Dancing!

Found in the Library of Congress: The Public Dance Halls of Chicago, published by the Juvenile Protective Association in 1917. (Thanks, Erin!)

Really Quick Review: Magnificent Magnificents

This sweet story about an elderly magician whose wife takes in a young stray (who then becomes the magician's apprentice) is brought to by super-creative storytelling that features a trio of clown-stagehands, dreams projected on video, and (not least) a host of stunning magic tricks and illusions. It's everything theater should be: emotional, inspiring, wonder-inducing. The Magnificents should not be missed (closes Nov. 2).

August: Osage County headed for Broadway

Steppenwolf's current production, August: Osage County, has not suffered from lack of praise, including this glowing review from the front page The New York Times Arts section last week. The play is set to close this Sunday, but not forever. The whole show, lock, stock and barrel, is heading to Broadway for a 16-week engagement. Previews start at the Imperial Theatre on October 20.


Chicago comic Kumail Nanjiani's autobiographical show, "Unpronounceable," which follows his life from his childhood in Karachi, Pakistan to college in rural Iowa, plays the Lakeshore Theater on Friday. His July show sold out, so you may want to buy your tickets ahead of time. Details in Slowdown.

Sooner or Later, They All Come Back

Upright Citizens Brigade, the comedy improv troupe with roots in Chicago, will be coming back home for "UCB Presents," a weekly performance at the Lakeshore Theater. Teams from the Los Angeles and New York UCB theaters will perform each Tuesday, kicking off with ASSSSCAT, UCB's signature show, on September 11. Also in the works is an UCB improv training program (because Chicago doesn't have enough of them).

Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head

Smutty, Tony-winning puppet show "Avenue Q" is finally coming to Chicago...for only two weeks. Their national tour hits the Cadillac Palace from May 27 to June 7, 2008, even though other cities get longer engagements. I guess the organizers don't understand Chicago's love for dirty words and googly eyes.

A Heat Wave by Any Other Name...

As good Chicagoans, we're all familiar with the deadly 1995 heat wave and Eric Klinenberg's lauded book on the subject. But what if we want to watch a play of it? Pegasus Players have our backs. PS If you're not a good Chicagoan, here's an interview with Klinenberg for some background.

Glowing Reports on August: Osage County

Audience response to August: Osage County, a new Steppenwolf play by ensemble member Tracy Letts, has been across the board extraordinary and glowingly positive. Go see what all the fuss is about tomorrow night, when Theater Thursdays hosts a reception (Goose Island beer, snacks and discussion included) before the show. $35.


Neo-Futurist playwright Sean Benjamin recently received 21 packets of taco sauce for two tacos from the Taco Bell drive-thru. Then he wrote a play about it. Now he wants your help collecting one million condiment packets for his Condimentometer project. Because why the hell not? You have more condiment packets than you could ever possibly use, right? Bring (or mail) your packets to the Neo-Futurarium at 5153 N. Ashland, 60640, and be a part of something big and meaningless.

Hooping It Up Downtown

Looking for something a little different this weekend? How about a hula hoop dance party in Millennium Park? HooperPower and Chicago Hoopdance are celebrating World Hoop Day with an interactive performance tomorrow night from 7 to 9pm. Grab a hula hoop and join in for free!

Now's Your Chance, Lobster Man

If you have a hankerin' for counter-culture theater, you may want to see Mary-Arrchie's performance of two Sam Shepard plays, "4-H Club" (1965) and Cowboy Mouth (1971). If you're interested, here's a review of the current production and some fascinating background (and a spoiler) on the latter play, which was co-written with Patti Smith.

CSz 20th Anniversary

Celebrate this milestone in the life of ComedySportz by attending a special line-up of shows from July 13-28. A highlight includes the "Funniest Friend Contest." To learn more, visit CSz Chicago.

Goodbye Girlie-Q

We just got a note from Bloody Belle of the Girlie-Q Variety Hour, letting us know that the infamous queer burlesque and variety show is no more. Is the timing coincidental to its usual home, the Hothouse, being in danger of losing its lease? Maybe, but more importantly Belle is moving to New York. She says a couple of performers, Backdoor Aly and Mae the Bellydancer, may be planning a new show, possibly to run in Hamburger Mary's upstairs cabaret. Stay tuned, and keep your eye on Ray's Guide for your general burlesque news. UPDATE 06/09: Girlie-Q is back!

Really Quick Review: 500 Clown Macbeth @ Steppenwolf

Just what it sounds like: a production of Macbeth put on by a bunch of clowns (three, to be exact--not sure where the other 497 are), and yet these bumbling, stumbling, profoundly earnest jokers manage to convey the major themes of Shakespeare's masterpiece. Terrific fun for adults as well as kids. Visit the Steppenwolf website for the schedule and to buy tickets.

You're Suspect and Funny

Suspicious Clowns 9 is the current show at the Live Bait Theater and I hear it's good. Quite good. The Reader approves too. Friday and Saturdays all through June.

Jeff Citations Awarded

The 2006-07 Jeff Citations ceremony was held last night, honoring some of the best work in the city's vast non-union theater scene. The big winner of the night was The House Theatre of Chicago, with seven wins for the much-loved The Sparrow, followed by Bohemian Theatre Ensemble's Side Show with five, and TimeLine's Fiorello! and Eclipse's Blues for an Alabama Sky with four each. Full list of nominees and winners here.

Theater On The Lake

This week marks the start of the 55th season of Theater on the Lake, the Chicago Park District's program of re-mountings of great theatrical shows from the last year or so. This year they'll be putting on nine shows in nine weeks, and the schedule has something for everyone: a Second City revue; Gorey Stories, the musical based on Edward Gorey books; a Stephen Sondheim tribute; and Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! See the Theater on the Lake schedule for more information.

Intersecting Cultures

Theatre, meet Radio: Chicago Public Radio's Sylvia Ewing has joined Steppenwolf as producer of "cultural intersections." The new position will oversee such projects as the CPR-Steppenwolf "Traffic" series of live performances recorded for radio, for which Ewing was one of the producers.

Go Ape for Affordable Theater

Do you enjoy theater? Do you have extra bananas? Friend, you are in luck! Because a banana will get you a half-price ticket to "Poker Night at the White House," the mostly true and mostly hilarious story of how Warren G. Harding was the worst president far. It's got a life-size Harding puppet and H.L. Mencken. Also, there is a gorilla. The show runs through May 26 at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. Call 773-275-5255 for reservations.

Estrogen Fest Starts Tomorrow

Estrogen Fest 2007: Back on the Fringe starts its 10-day lady-made extravaganza of performance/dance/theater/music/vaudeville/etc. Wednesday night at Prop Thtr., 3502 N. Elston. Watch people do stuff in the performances and panels, learn to do stuff in the workshops, and buy stuff at the craft fair (curated by DIY Trunk Show and featuring GB staffer Cinnamon Cooper). The All Est Fest Pass is $50, but you can see individual events for various prices.

Notes to the 1%

Tracy Letts, currently starring in Steppenwolf's Betrayal, weighs in on the company's blog with a very funny reprimand to "the 1%" of audience members who behave badly. I think he's being generous.

Yet Another Lousy Day

Acclaimed monologuist David Kodeski brings his acclaimed monologue "Another Lousy Day" to life again this week at Live Bait Theater. The funny and heartfelt piece, based on diaries Kodeski found in a Clark Street thrift shop, details the daily life of a South Side Zenith factory worker in the early 1960s. Showtimes are Thursday and Friday nights at 8; tickets are $30 and proceeds will help Kodeski produce the show for the 4th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. Call (773) 871-1212 for reservations.

Boom Boom Boom Boom

Amsterdam-based troupe Boom Chicago is headlining at the 10th Annual Chicago Improv Festival tonight. Friends and fans of Quimby's may be interested to hear that store founder Steven Svymbersky, who left Chicago 10 years ago to work with the troupe, will be with them, and plans to spend all day Saturday at Quimby's. Stop by and say howdy! He'd love to see all his old pals and gals.

Olympic Arts

With all of the hubbub about the Olympics, there's an argument that sports shouldn't get all of the attention. In a city currently alive with Version>07, and soon to have Artropolis going too, art should also be at the forefront. Tribune art critics provide a few conceptions of how art could work with the Olympics.

What LaSalle Bank's Sale Really Means To Us

The $21 billion sale of LaSalle Bank to Bank of America is a relatively small part of one of the largest financial mergers ever by LaSalle's soon-to-be-former parent company. Global implications, yadda yadda. I'm more concerned with speculating how the deal will affect our civic life: will BoA close some superfluous branches, thereby freeing up some storefronts for businesses that are actually useful and enjoyable? Seriously, Chicago is drowning in bank branches. And what's the fate of the LaSalle Bank Cinema, or the only-christened-last-May LaSalle Bank Theatre? "Bank of America Theatre"? Gross.

Get Our Your Purple and Red

What musical shall replace the horrible middle-aged vacuum left by the departure of "Menopause: The Musical"? Never fear! Because "Hats: A New Musical For the Rest of Your Life" is here. This Red Hat-sanctioned show opens at the Royal George on 4/20. And you know it's gonna be good, because some of the show was written by the chick who penned the Bette Midler hit "The Rose."

Chicago History Roundup

From the establishment of the Hull House Theater to the World's Columbian Exposition, the Sun Times lists their take on "The 50 Greatest Chicago Moments."

Il Ritorno d'Uliss in Patria

The final installment of the Chicago Opera Theater's Claudio Monteverdi series, The Return of Ulysses, is earning strong reviews, including accolades for Rafael Viñoly's minimal set design. There are three performances remaining, so get hoppin'.

Celebrity Play Club 2007

Victory Gardens Theater announced this morning this year's celebrity playwrights for its annual Chicago Stories benefit. Sun-Times entertainment columnist Bill Zwecker, retired Tribune theater critic Richard Christiansen (also author of A Theater of Our Own, the definitive history of Chicago theater), and the husband and wife team of Attorney General Lisa Madigan and New Yorker cartoonist Pat Byrnes (writing a musical, no less!) will each author a ten-minute play to be directed by VGT artistic director Dennis Zacek. This year's class joins such illustrious (and often first-time) playwrights as John Mahoney, Phil Jackson, Mike Royko, Carol Mosely-Braun and Jesse Jackson—last year's writers were Rick Bayless, Alpana Singh, and Tribune columnist Rick Kogan. The benefit is May 4; see Slowdown for details.


There was a Stella Yelling Contest, and Phil Wackerfuss won it.

So Green Architecture isn't a Passing Fad

Someone smart at the Tribune asked its arts and architecture critics what prompted them to reevaluate artists in their disciplines. Some second looks include the Trap Door Theatre, William McDonough and Walker Evans.

Wine, Words, and Song

More than 40 of Chicago's top storytellers -- along with some DJs, live music, and lots of vino -- converge on the top floor of Webster's Wine Bar for Serendipity Theater Collective's second annual 2nd Story: Story, Wine & Music Festival, April 26-May 13. Each night centers around a different topic, like community, fear, heartbreak, or learning from strangers, with a handful of monologists taking the stage throughout the night as patrons enjoy food, sponsored wine flights, and music. Tickets go on sale March 15.

The Viola Project: Shakespeare for Girls

The Viola Project (named for Twelfth Night's cross-dressing heroine) is the braindaughter of Reina Hardy and Ellie Kaufman, two local actors who noted the disparity between the number of young girls interested in theater and the number of female characters to play. So the team decided to get girls aged 8-18 interested in Shakespeare by letting them play all the roles, even Hamlet. Coming up this spring, there's a day-long Antony and Cleopatra workshop in April, a "Sonnet Slam" in May, and a week-long MacBoot Camp in June culminating in a performance of the Scottish Play.

Macbeth, Three Feet Tall

The Italian marionette performance company Carlo Colla e Figli begins its run of "Marionette Macbeth" at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Tuesday. Additional details are available in Slowdown.

Jump to the Front of the Line

No more waiting around outside for your cheap tickets. Hot Tix, the half-price ticket agency run by the League of Chicago Theaters, now offers ticket sales online.

Jane: Abortion and the Underground

Written by Paula Kamen and directed by Elizabeth Schwan-Rosenwald, this play examines Chicago's legendary underground feminist abortion service, based on original interviews with women who ran and used it. The production runs until March 24 at the 20% Theatre Company.

Through the Lookingglass to NYC

Lookingglass Theatre's signature work, the circus-inspired Lookingglass Alice, is playing in New York as part of an East Coast tour before returning to Chicago this summer. The Times likes it, mostly. Watch the video preview here.

Matinee Monkeys

Barrel of Monkeys, the theater company that conducts writing workshops with Chicago Public Schools kids and performs their work for adoring audiences of all ages, is adding some extra afternoon performances to its long-running show. Now if you don't feel like trekking to the theater on Monday nights, you can catch That's Weird, Grandma for the next six Saturday afternoons, Feb. 17 - March 24, at 2 p.m. at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. Ten bucks for adults, five bucks for kids. Fun for the whole family!

Bored? Join a Board!

Do you have a love of local theater, some spare time, and mad fundraising or networking skills? The Neo-Futurists are looking for a few good board members who are "ready to rock, albeit in a prudent and fiscally sound way while keeping constant sight of your fiduciary responsibilities." Send a note to development director Ian Belknap (development-at-neofuturists-dot-org) to request an application.

The Dynasty Continues

While Mayor Daley prepares for another term in office, his late father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, lives on at the Prop Theater -- through the medium of actor/writer Neil Giuntoli. Hizzoner, the award winning play about the "Boss" is extending its run until May 13th of this year.

1,158 = More Than a Few Arts Organizations

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation just completed its Chicago Region Arts Scan, a major research report surveying all non-profit arts organizations in the Chicago region in 2006. In addition to being a comprehensive directory, the report provides especially fascinating information pertaining to the growth, location, composition and funding of these organizations.

But Remember Kids, Gambling's Not Cool

Mayor Daley laid out his spread for the traditional friendly wager between mayors of Super Bowl cities today, and it's a doozy. Daley's not worried, though, warning Indy mayor Bart Peterson that he's won bets with the mayors of five other cities in the last year and a half. While we wait for Peterson to ante up, the cities' theaters are getting in on the action as well. Bailiwick artistic director David Zak announced a bet with Bryan Fonseca of Indianapolis's Phoenix Theatre: ten tickets to Bailiwick's upcoming US premiere of Jerry Springer: The Opera if the Colts win, and ten comps to Phoenix's world premiere And Her Hair Went With Her for a Bears win.

Steppenwolf Adding On

Steppenwolf held a press conference this morning to announce the addition of six new members to its ensemble. Alana Arenas, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Jon Hill, Ora Jones, and James Vincent Meredith bring some much-needed youth (Hill, who last appeared in The Unmentionables, is a senior at the University of Illinois, and Arenas and Arrington are under 30) and color (Arenas, Hill, Jones and Meredith join K. Todd Freeman, the one existing ensemble member of color) to the increasingly gray institution. The Steppenwolf ensemble now totals 41 members, though many (cough Joan Allen cough) rarely return to the theater.

Really Quick Review: 4-Ish @ Harris Theater

This show, put on by a troupe from Amsterdam, has it all: break-dancing, acrobats, a hip-hop DJ, a human beatbox who rivals the DJ, and world-champion roller bladers. In a 70-minute production, you chuckle or your breath is taken away at least every five minutes. Perfect if you have a kid to entertain this weekend. (Even if the kid's your inner child.) Closes Sunday, 28 Jan. Tickets are available from the Chicago Children's Theater.

Checking in on 365

We told you in November about the 365 Days/365 Plays project, in which 52 theater companies are performing 365 short plays by Pulitzer winner Suzan-Lori Parks. The list of participating companies ranges from the traditional big guns (Goodman, Steppenwolf) to the tiny and/or unconventional like Soul Theatre and 500 Clown. Teatro Vista brings us week eleven, with performances (in mixed Spanish and English) tomorrow night at the Hungry Brain and Saturday night at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church; next week The Mill Theatre incorporates their seven plays into their Et Cetera performance festival. See 365 Chicago for the full calendar.

Feeling Disgruntled?

Instead of kvetching in vain, check out The Assassins. This Stephen Sondheim show produced by the Porchlight Theatre depicts (in song!) the complicated lives of presidential assassins. Go to the show, which runs through March 11 -- but don't get too many "ideas," if you know what we mean.

Artists Needed for Landscape Interpretation

Local interdisciplinary theater company Striding Lion InterArts Workshop is looking for 2-D artists to create backdrops for its upcoming production of "Gerrymander," a spaghetti western about the 2003 Republican redistricting in Texas. According to the curator, Jessica Lucas, "Mostly this will be landscape-based work, but all this is open to interpretation of landscape and I hope to find work that is multi-media and unconventional in its use of the 'landscape'." Selected artists will get $50 for supplies plus half of the proceeds when their work is auctioned off by the theater. If you're intrigued, drop Jessica a line at lacgallery-at-yahoo-dot-com by Jan. 23.

Mooning Over Redmoon

This innovative theatre group is at it again. Opening on February 9 is Once Upon a Time written by local author Joe Meno. This show, which will be presented in an "elaborately crafted toy theater" runs Feb. 3 through April 8 at Redmoon Central, 1463 W. Hubbard St. Get tix now.

1 in 5 = 20%

Just in case you struggle with matching numbers up to real life, I thought I'd help you out a bit. 20% of working theater folks are female. There are a lot more people behind the scenes than there are on stage, remember. And since that just isn't right, Elizabeth Schwan-Rosenwald and Abigail Boucher created 20% Theater Company Chicago (based off 20% Theater Company in New York City) to try to even out those numbers a bit. You can support them tonight, in fact.

Months of Great [Insert Cultural Activity Here]

The Tribune offers a fine selection of art exhibits worth checking out in the coming months, including some out-of-the-way gems. Other informative prospective pieces include features about architecture, dance, and jazz, to name a few.

Daley the 1st Lives Again on Stage (And Radio)

Hizzoner, the play, has been running at the Prop Thtr on Elston since springtime. Marking the 30th anniversary of his death, Weekend Edition runs an excerpt of Neil Giuntoli's rendition of Richard J. Daley.

Drag ends, greatest hits begin

It's a big weekend for the Neo-Futurists. Their current prime time show, Drag, has its final weekend, and they begin their annual two weeks of greatest hits from their long-running show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. So if you like either drag shows or compilations of really good (but really short) plays, you know where to go.

Hot Tix Online

Everyone's favorite discount ticket outlet, Hot Tix, is going online! Right now, they're just offering online tix for a few shows, but they're adding more in the next few months. Let the impulse buying begin!

Busy Theater Schedule

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks wrote 365 short works in one year and starting, er, yesterday, 52 theater companies are going to perform them all -- each is performing seven of the plays over the course of a week. Andersonville's Dog and Pony Theatre is first in line; check here for the full schedule. And, for more on the genesis of the project, there's this recent profile of Parks from the New Yorker.

An Evening of Dance

Fancy an evening of dance, anyone? The Dance Chicago Festival, which runs through December 3rd, showcases more than 26 innovative performances from some of the city's best dancers and choreographers. The New Moves Festival, one of the 10 programs of the festival, is something to see. I especially enjoyed the Gus Giordano breakdancers, who stole Friday night's show. The Director's Choice program, which features the best performances from the New Moves Festival, takes place on November 17th and 18th.

See Bill Gates On Us!

Chopin Theatre is in the midst of I-Fest, its annual international solo theatre series. As a special offer to GB readers, the first 10 people to call or email and include the message "Gapers Block has me covered" will get a pair of tickets to this Sunday's performance of Windows, or Must We Imagine Bill Gates Happy? for free! (If you speak German, you might also be interested in Clemons Schick's performance Saturday in his native language.)

Getting Sexy This Fall

While we begin shiver season, the Star and Garter Burlesque crew takes it off and yukks it up. Check out their striptease act, featuring "America's Got Talent" semi-finalist Michelle L'Amour, plus some of the funniest stand-ups in Chicago. Star and Garter is putting on their show every Thursday in November at Fizz. It's just $10. Get tix here.

Heads Up for Dance Fans

Dance Chicago -- a month-long festival celebrating Chicago's dance companies -- kicks off this weekend at the Athenaeum Theatre in Lakeview. Tickets are typically $20 or less and the shows (every weekend in November and some weeknights) offer a unique opportunity to survey a broad swath of the local dance scene for cheap. Some performances are highlighted in Slowdown, but click here for the complete schedule.

Epic Theater for Penny-Pinchers

Mother Courage makes a fortune selling shoes, blankets and assorted geegaws during the Thirty Years War, but loses her children and her heart in the process. Vitalist Theatre's production of Brecht's meditation on war and capitalism seems timely, and is surprisingly entertaining. The show has been extended until Sunday, November 5. Tickets will set you back $20, but Hot Tix has discounted seats.

Really Quick Review: ShawChicago

Going to a play is usually hit-or-miss; even when you attend a performance by one of Chicago's celebrated companies, the script might be a dud, or the acting uneven. ShawChicago, though, is always a sure thing. They do only a handful of shows a year, and most are staged readings, but the plays (since they're by George Bernard Shaw) are guaranteed terrific--smart and funny--and the performances are so consistently skilled that you forget you're not watching a fully staged production. See for yourself: You Never Can Tell is at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts until next Monday.

The New Suburban Venue

Now that the Sears Centre is officially open, the Daily Herald offers a review of its first night in action, and the Sun Times and the Trib provide some background.

Inge Direct

More in today's NYTimes on Charles Isherwood's recent Chicago visit: he notes the unlikely, informal William Inge festival comprising Shattered Globe's recently closed Come Back, Little Sheba and American Theatre Company's The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

More on Stage

If you do like Robert Fall's King Lear, then you might also like TUTA's Tracks, a series of violent vingettes about kids growing up during the Balkan war, which are tied together with eerily vacant American pop songs. The show runs through October 29th at the Viaduct Theater.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

NYTimes theater critic Charles Isherwood made another of his periodic Chicago visits, this time for a tale of two Shakespeares; surprising himself, he found he preferred Robert Falls' "aggressively raunchy, excruciatingly violent" King Lear (which closes this Sunday) to Chicago Shakes' "studiously tasteful, perfectly bland" Hamlet. (Perhaps he should have opted for Tiny Ninja Hamlet?) Speaking of excruciating violence, The House Theatre of Chicago's Shakespeare-inflected Hatfield and McCoy also closes this Sunday and is similarly not to be missed.

Get Your Spook On

This Halloween season has plenty to offer the ghoul lurking inside of you. Unusual offerings include KFAR's Spookagogue Synagogue, the Apollo Theater's Haunting History, the Six Corners Monster Film Festival, and Ursula Bielski's Creepy Chicago Hauntings. Check slowdown for additional options.

Surveillance Theater

A businessman crossing international borders is stopped by a customs agent; as he faces the agent's inquiries his virtual "data-body" becomes visible to the theater-goer: his fingerprint and personal data are projected on a monumental scale. See SUPER VISION tonight through Saturday at the MCA.

This Be Madness, Yet There is Method In't

Dov Weinstein performs the Bard's most famous play at breakneck speed with the help of a hundred plastic ninjas, a robot, and other assorted dime-store figurines. Weinstein's ingenious staging is hilarious, if not exactly enlightening. Catch Tiny Ninja Hamlet through October 18th at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

The case of the impostor skull

In July GB mentioned a Trib report that there were doubts that the skull enshrined at the Goodman Theatre is not actually the skull of improv legend Del Close. And today the Tribune follows up the earlier story with confirmation from Charna Halpern, executor of Close's will, that she tried to get Del's skull, but ultimately could not pull it off. So to speak.

Burlesque Halloween

Why not spend October with the sexy, funny folks from the Star and Garter Burlesque featuring Brandy's worst enemy, Miss Exotic World Michelle L'Amour! Check out their Halloween-themed show "Thriller! I Hardly Know Her" at Fizz on Thursdays at 9:00 pm. Just $10!

Fancy Footwork

The Tribune offers some video of Chicago's latest dance craze, footworking. Not enough for you? Try YouTube or MySpace.

Did the Greeks Have Socks?

The theatrical genre of Sock Puppet returns with War Is Bad: Sock Puppet Euripides at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, tonight at 7pm. Is there any doubt that you should be there?

You Too Can Go-Go Dance

If you made it to the Bitch Magazine 10th Anniversary Party at the Hideout last night, you know how cool The Janes go-go dance troupe is. And even if you didn't, haven't you always wanted to learn how to dance like that? Well, you can: classes are Mondays and Tuesdays at the Flamenco Arts Center. $12 a class or six for $60; white boots not included.

It's a Crazy Dance Week in Chicago

You'd be a darn fool not to check out one of world-class dance performances in Chicago this weekend: Liz Lerman Dance Exchange presents the Chicago premiere of Ferocious Beauty: Genome, a multimedia docu-dance about genetics; UK-based choreographer Sue Davies collaborated with a linguist, a cardiothoracic surgeon, a landscape designer, and an architect on a new performance In Plain Clothes at the Dance Center; finally, catch Hubbard Street before they head off on tour: don't miss their fall season Global Tapestry at the Harris. See Slowdown for details on all three of these shows.

I Can Smell You Acting

The Side Project describes their 43-seat theater in Rogers Park as "hyper intimate;" when I went to see The Cure at Troy there last Friday I was literally inches away from the actors. It was exhilarating. The play, an adaptation of Sophocles' Philoctetes by Seamus "I made Beowulf fun again" Heaney is about a guy with a smelly, gangrenous foot who gets duped out of his magic bow by Neoptolemus, son of Achilles. After realizing that he'd have to be a giant asshole to trick a crippled warrior out of a bow used to hunt food, Neoptolemus starts to feel really bummed out. But he takes it anyway. See Slowdown for details.

Dinner Theater

Improv Kitchen's new season starts today; reviews have been mixed in the past, but hopefully the new show irons out some of the kinks. UPDATE: The new "flagship" show, "The Unfinishe... Project," doesn't premier until Oct. 4.

More rousting about

Roustabout, the current prime-time show being presented by the Neo-Futurists, has had its run extended through October 14. Recommended by the Reader, Newcity and the Sun-Times, Roustabout takes as its basis a circus train wreck that occurred in Hammond, Indiana in 1914, and speculates on the lives of the performers that were killed in the wreck (with a dash of the self-aware commentary that Neo-Futurist productions are known for). Reservations are available through the Neo-Futurist Website.

Chicago Politics, Theater Edition

With the nominations for the Jeff Awards announced last week, the Tribune's Chris Jones today addresses the elephant in the room—or perhaps, the lack of elephant: how did Steppenwolf, which spent its 30th anniversary season producing a slate of new plays by major authors ("more world premieres than any major theater in America last season," says Jones), come away with only one Jeff nomination?

A Quick Plug: Gazooly

We're in the midst of the Rhinoceros Theatre Festival, and I just want draw your attention to Gazooly, which stars a good friend of mine. Opens tonight at 9:30pm at the Prop Theater, 3502-04 N. Elston.

Chicago: Present at the Creation

NPR's Present at the Creation provides unique insight to some Chicago-related icons. Our fair city pops up in some obvious place like Animal House, A Raisin in the Sun , and Nighthawks, but it's also there for Cracker Jacks!

Critic responds to her critics

Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss, lambasted by the Dramatists Guild for reviewing (poorly) the Stages 2006 musical theater workshop at Theatre Building Chicago, gave her side of the story in a letter posted late yesterday on Romenesko. Weiss says she was expressly invited as a reviewer and given extensive press materials including photos for publication; she also says that both the Sun-Times and Tribune have reviewed Stages in the past, and suggests that trouble arose only because her review this year was negative and the Tribune's critic was on vacation. Meanwhile another Romenesko reader thinks that if the workshops were worth the "prime-ticket ticket pricing" of $85, they were worth being reviewed.

Hedy Weiss in Hot Water

On August 16 Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss published a piece reviewing the eight new musicals at Theatre Building Chicago's Stages 2006 festival. Trouble is, the musicals at Stages are presented in workshop, in the early stages (get it?) of development, and they're not meant to be reviewed as final products (TBC says Weiss was explicitly reminded of this). What's more, Weiss stated up front that she didn't see any of the new works in full. The review's ignited a firestorm of criticism in the national theater community, culminating in an open letter to the Sun-Times from the president of the Dramatists Guild demanding an apology, with supporting comments from a score of major playwrights.

Make Chicagoans Laugh

We usually just let you know when the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival is actively making people laugh, but check this out: the 2007 Festival is currently accepting applications for sketch group participation.

Chicago returns to the Fringe

It's time for the New York International Fringe Festival, and as usual Chicago theater is well-represented in the 16-day festival. There are nine plays being performed in the Fringe festival by Chicago theater groups, from the well-established Neo-Futurists (whose founder, Greg Allen, is presenting his revue of lost Samuel Beckett works) to relatively young upstarts Don't Spit The Water. Alert your NYC hipster friends that they need to check out Chicago's finest in the festival, which runs through August 27.

A Bastion of Comedy

The Bastion came to town earlier this summer (it's related to New York's Apiary) to cover the comedy and improv scene, and they're doing a heck of a job (and not in the GW Bush sense).

A Lyrical Sway of the Hips

Know how to belly dance? The Lyric Opera wants you audition for a role in an upcoming performance of Salome.

Close enough?

It's one of the great stories in recent Chicago theater history: Second City legend Del Close leaves his skull to the Goodman Theatre, on the condition that they use it in a production of Hamlet. But today the Tribune reports that the skull may not actually be his. Their evidence: the skull has more teeth than Close did when he died; the screws holding the skull together are rusty, indicating the skull is decades old; and the skull bears the markings of an autopsy that Close's body never had. Still, the story makes the point that it's the legend of Del Close's skull that's important to the theater, and the fact that Close did write the request in his will that makes the story memorable.

Laugh Out Loud/Loud Out Laughs

One thing you can say about the gays: we love our funny girls (and I don't mean Barbra). No surprise, then, that the Gay Games are bringing with them a cavalcade of comediennes. The next week finds shows around town by Margaret Cho, Sandra Bernhard, Kate Clinton, Suzanne Westenhoefer, and Mo'Nique, plus two nights of the triple-bill Queer Queens of Comedy (click links for Slowdown entries). If you prefer your gay comedy local (not to mention multi-gendered), check out GayCo's best-of show, just opened for a Gay Games run at the Theatre Building.

Magic Pearl lures Glass to House

This American Life may be in New York, but host Ira Glass returns to Chicago next week to headline a benefit for The House Theatre of Chicago. Peter Sagal of Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me fame will be the MC of the event, compellingly titled The First Annual Gathering of The Secret Order of the Magic Pearl. Full details are available at The House Theatre's blog.

Beckett on the Lake

If you missed seeing the short works of Beckett performed in various nooks and crannies of the MCA last January, or Curious Theater Branch's continued celebration of Beckett this spring, you've got one more chance to catch Eh Joe, Play, Text for Nothing and other short plays when they are remounted this week at Theater on the Lake. See Slowdown for more details.

Physical, Funny, and Slightly Dangerous

Chicago supports a dynamic community of theater companies who specialize in physical theater. What's that? Well, have a look for yourself: click here to see a clip of Plasticene's Palmer Raids, and here to see an exceprt from sprung theatre's capsize. If you like what you see, check out 500 Clown, The Building Stage, Kapoot, Lucky Plush, and Local Infinities, or sign up for a class at the Actor's Gymnasium.

4 Star All the Way

On the Reader this week and online too: an excellent feature article on 4 Star Courier, a messengering service comprised of messengers who own, run and do business like it should be done. If you have any say in what company delivers your documents on time, consider 4 Star. They do excellent work.

MCA 2006-07 Performance Season

The MCA recently announced their 2006-07 performance season. Highlights include Martha Graham Dance Company, in a rare Chicago appearance, and Blast Theory: Can You See Me Now?, an interactive chase game. Blast Theory runners on Chicago streets use GPS and cell phone technology to track players down.

Channeling Proust at Steppenwolf

About Face Theater announced today that their production of Mary Zimmerman's M. Proust will extend through July 16. The play is told from the privileged perspective of Celeste Albaret, Proust's housekeeper, sick nurse, and surrogate mother (creepy!). For more information, visit the website or read my full review.

The worst movies on stage

The Neo-Futurist theater company have announced the lineup for what has become a hugely entertaining annual summer series: on-stage readings of bad film scripts (aka "It Came From The Neo-Futurarium!"). Highlights of this year's "films": a recreation of the 1978 classic "KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park"; a sci-fi double feature performed by the sketch comedy troupe Schadenfreude; and a tribute to the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan debacle. See the full schedule and purchase tickets at the Neo-Futurists' Website. But hurry, because the film fest starts in just 2 weeks.

Joffrey Turns 50, Invites Chicago to Dance

Commemorating its 50th anniversary, tomorrow the Joffrey Ballet kicks off a busy week of performances, dance instruction, workout sessions and other events, "Come Dance with Us." High points include free ballet and modern dance programs at the Harris Theater and Pritzker Pavillion, a late-night SummerDance session on the Chase Promenade, and numerous performances throughout Millennium Park by students associated with the Joffrey. Individual events are listed in Slowdown; click here for a complete schedule.

It's Curtains for Chicago Plays

Chicago Plays, the theatre handbill published by the League of Chicago Theatres, will cease publication this August, leaving 190 theaters without a guide.

Failing upward

If you haven't seen the House Theatre's acclaimed show The Boy Detective Fails yet, here are a couple of enticements to persuade you to check it out: the Wes-Anderson-style film prologue that's shown before the start of the play; and news of an upcoming talkback with Chicago author Joe Meno, whose forthcoming novel is the basis of the play (details of the talkback event are in Slowdown).

Goat Island's Final Performance

The performance group Goat Island announced today that the show that they are currently creating will be their last. Members of the internationally renowned theater company, which has been creating work locally for 20 years, made the announcement at a work in progress showing of their yet to be named performance, which takes as its inspiration the Hagia Sophia, and other buildings which have served both secular and religious purposes over the course of their histories.

Chamberpot Theater

TUTA (Serbian for "chamberpot") is a theater company that has built a reputation locally for its visually stunning productions. TUTA now presents the American premiere of Huddersfield by Ugljesa Sajtiac, as part of a series of plays by a young generation of writers who grew up in the Balkans during the bloody 1990s. (In the fall, TUTA will produce Milena Markovic's Tracks). See Slowdown for details on the play and a related panel discussion.

Bloody Brilliant

The Duchess of Malfi may have been written by one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, but it's got a lot in common with The Sopranos. In an RSC production I saw a few years back, the Duchess found her husband and her children strung up on hooks in an industrial meat locker. No matter how Writers' Theatre chooses to present the play's thickly twisted plot, there's sure to be a lot of blood. Their new production opens tonight; see Slowdown for details.

Drink 'til you write

It's drinking time again! A group of Neo-Futurist alumni is presenting the third version of the play Drinking and Writing, subtitled "To Cure A Hangover." Along with the play, which will be performed at bars around Chicago for the next few weeks, the Drinking and Writing team is putting together a pub crawl on Memorial Day to find a cure for the common hangover, and their second annual Drinking and Writing Festival on June 10, which will include readings, a two-drink-minimum writing contest, and lots of beer tasting. See Slowdown for all these events, and the Drinking and Writing Website for tickets.

Improve Your Chances

If you're busing tables and saving your pennies while waiting for a call back from an audition, here's a chance to have a cheap night out. The first Sunday of every month, get tickets to the 7pm performance of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blindfor $5 with proof of industry (such as a headshot or resume). The Neofuturists' signature show is in its eighteenth year. All other tickets are $7 plus the roll of a six-sided die.

So You're Staying Up for HPAC's 36-Hour Opening

After sampling scenes from Caffeine Theatre's repertory, free coffee gets you through Stage Left's late night symposium on political theater. By midnight, you've switched to booze and hit the dance floor, taking a break at 2am to try ceramics with a less-than-steady hand. The next morning, Industry of the Ordinary serves up pancakes, helping you get over your hangover. Are you imagining things or is your breakfast telling you that it loves you? At the 34-hour mark, the pancake cooks mount an expedition to climb the chimney. They hoist a flag and you cheer, shortly before passing out. See Slowdown for details on Hyde Park Art Center's opening event.

Performance in the Passing Lane

Get stuck in the Gold Coast during rush hour tonight, and you might just see performance artist Bill Shannon fly by on a skateboard, propelling himself forward with steel crutches. Shannon has been skating in traffic for 15 years, and now shares that experience with audiences at the MCA who will trail him in a CTA bus tricked out with video screens and a DJ. When asked how Chicago traffic compares to other cities, he noted that Windy City drivers tend to pass in the far right lane and drive really quickly due to the length of Chicago blocks and good visibility. See Slowdown for more details.

Have it Any Way You Like

Art Chicago may have moved out of the park, but with the Nova Art Fair opening and the Version festival ongoing this weekend, there's no shortage of cool work to check out. This weekend you can see art raw in a converted warehouse in Bridgeport, or at Belmont on the train. You can see it in a bar, or in the suites of a hotel. You can even see it all night long.

What's that on your head? A wig!

Want a primer on fake hair, but aren't ready to commit to a full course? Head to Navy Pier Saturday evening for a free demonstration by Chicago Shakespeare Theater's wig and costume artists. It's part of a slew of free events being offered by the theater to celebrate its twentieth anniversary, though many (including this one) require reservations; see details in Slowdown.

A B.A. in Bouffant

DePaul University recently announced the creation of Wigs and Hair Chicago, a certificate program for those who'd like to learn how to make moustaches, side burns, and fancy hairdos for the stage.

The Golden Truffle Opens in Previews Tonight

If I had $45, I'm not sure that I would spend it on a ticket to The Golden Truffle, Redmoon's first "musical spectacle". But you might; previews start tonight. The steep price of admission includes a four-course truffle tasting menu from Lincoln Park based Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Goldstar Events and Hot Tix were both offering discounted tickets earlier this week.

Theatre history makes way for granite counters, Jacuzzi tubs

The building at 2851 N. Halsted is the current home of ComedySportz; in its life as a theater since the 1970s, 2851 has been home to the St. Nicholas Players (founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy), Steppenwolf, and Organic-Touchstone. Next month it'll meet its final fate: the wrecking ball. 2851 and its surrounding buildings are being razed to make way for a 44-unit condo development, because we all know there's a shortage of new condo developments on the North Side. Read the eulogies by Chris Jones and Hedy Weiss, and consider attending the farewell party this Sunday; details in Slowdown.

Ain't I a Critic?

The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, the first of three plays by Rebecca Gilman that Eclipse Theater stages this season, is not in fact about baseball, but about a visual artist who has a few choice things to say to her critics and art dealers when her work is panned. Needless to say, critical response to the play has been a bit prickly.

Experimental Plays, On Demand

Experimental theater group Lucky Pierre has posted a working script of Rock & Roll: Impatience, a new performance about metal band AC/DC, on their website. The show previews later this month.

Krystle and Alexis Alert!

The Sun-Times reports on the completion of the 2006-07 Broadway in Chicago season. Besides the previously announced Color Purple tour and pre-Broadway Pirate Queen, the offerings range from fantastic (Cherry Jones in the Pulitzer-winning Doubt) to middling (Mamma Mia again? Really?) to frightening (Michael Crawford in concert to rechristen the LaSalle Bank Theatre). But here's the potentially best-worst: Linda Evans and Joan Collins reunite for the "backstage comedy" Legends! (exclamation point theirs). One can only hope for a catfight in the lily pond.

Miss Celie's a-comin

Considering that the new Broadway musical version of The Color Purple is directed by Chicago's own Gary Griffin (as first reported here three years ago), and the lead producer is named Oprah Winfrey, it's only natural that the show's national tour should start in Chicago, as the producers announced this weekend. The show will play a six-month run at the Cadillac Palace starting in April 2007 before taking off for other major cities, but as Chris Jones reports in the Trib, if sales are good it could leave an open-ended run here á la Wicked.

Mamet Mania

The Goodman Theatre launches its David Mamet Festival tonight with the opening of A Life in the Theatre, which runs through 9 April. The Festival also features Mamets Romance, coming on 17 March, three programs of one-acts, a childrens play, andnot leasta Mamet write-alike contest. Prizes include free theater tickets, so Mamet-loving playwrights should get busythe deadline is 10 March.

DIY TML: do it!

Just heard from the Neo-Futurists: there are still a few slots available for their fundraising event, in which a group of participants get to put on their own version of the theater company's long-running show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. If you feel like turning the events of your own life into a play, and performing that play in front of your family and friends (for one night only), please see the DIY TML page on the Neo-Futurists' Website. But hurry, because the playwriting course starts a week from tonight!

Valentine Victorious, broken

The House Theatre, currently in the middle of staging Valentine Victorious (the third play in a time-travelling trilogy), suffered a setback this weekend when the writer and star of the show, Nathan Allen, broke his hand during Friday's show. He finished out the weekend, but it remains to be seen whether he'll need surgery or can finish out the run. Valentine Victorious runs at the Viaduct Theater through March 11; go and see for yourself whether Nathan is victorious!

Looks like the Steppenwolf has jumped on the blogging bandwagon.

Majestic Views Hidden in Shubert

The former Shubert Theater, the smallest (and formerly dingiest) of the downtown theaters, had been closed and remodeled for a fall reopening as the LaSalle Bank Theatre. Now the open is set for May, and builders are finding hidden treasures throughout, including a second level to the lobby.

"The city's informal festival of anxiety"

New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood checked in on Chicago last weekend, visiting the Goodman, Steppenwolf, and... the House Theatre? It's official, kids: you've arrived.

Word! Discount Spoken Word

Chicago Poetry gives you the hook-up for discount tickets to the Marc Bamuthi Joseph spoken word show Feb. 2-4 at the MCA. Just mention Chicago Poetry at the box office to get $10 off the $22 tickets!

What's the buzz, tell me what's happenin'

The relatively new Theatre In Chicago looks to be a remarkable resource for playgoers: an independent, well-designed database of what's playing where and when, with theatre info and nearby restaurants. It's easier to browse than the League of Chicago Theatres' effort, not as stroke-inducing as Metromix, and is the only place I know of to round up all the local critics' reviews for an at-a-glance scorecard.


Fans of the Neo-Futurist theater company that have always dreamed of having a role in their long-running show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, take heart! As they did last year, the Neo-Futurists are doing a fundraiser this year that will provide 30 people the chance to write plays based on the Neo-Futurist aesthetic, with the ultimate goal of performing a one-time-only version of TML for their friends and loved ones. For more information on this opportunity, please see the Neo-Futurist Website.

Timeshift the Late Night Late Show

If you miss an "episode" of the Late Night Late Show, download Quicktime clips of various segments via the improvisational show's podcast. Unfortunately, the archives don't go back to July when our own Andrew Huff was on, but you can see Jessa Crispin (of Bookslut fame), Thax Douglas (of poetic introductions to many rock shows fame) and other guests (of varying sorts of fame). For the real-life experience, the LNLS runs at the i.O. every Saturday at midnight.

1930s Chicago: mobsters and robots

The House Theatre of Chicago just posted on their blog that tickets are now on sale for their latest show, Valentine Victorious Part 3, which apparently involves the hero (that would be Valentine Victorious) travelling back in time to Chicago of the 1930s to battle gangsters and, in their words, "a terrible demon robot." Sounds historically accurate to me! Also, there's a mask involved, which looks pretty boss. Check out the House Theatre's site for the full skinny on the show and how to get yourself some tickets.

November Festivity Leads to December Women's Performance Art Festivals

December 2nd, set your cultural event compass towards Links Hall, as the 6th Annual Women's Performance Art Festival begins. This year's theme is "...Destination...Excavation..." Opening night features Jennifer Karmin's "Revolutionary Optimism" (a text-sound composition) and "Roses Aren't Red" (a modern dance piece) by Subtext Dance Projects. Other festival highlights include spoken word performances and Adler Danztheatre Project's "Unraveling." The Sun Times has called this annual festival sponsored by the Stockyards Theatre Project "the purist woman's performance event in Chicago."

I was Meant for the Screen

As Steppenwolf's star rose in the '80s, so did John Malkovich's. But don't go looking for him on stage any time soon. As he tells the Guardian, these days, movies are much more his speed. And not just any movies, mind you: Malkovich says he dreams of "appearing in a film so brilliant and obscure that no one will ever see it."

So Alive With The Sound of Music

Mayor Richard Daley has clearly had at least a spoonfull of sugar. He proclaimed yesterday "Julie Andrews Day" in Chicago. Andrews is in town directing The Boy Friend at The Chicago Theater. Andrews will also participate in Columbia College Chicago's annual "Conversations in the Arts: Up Close With ..." series. Next week marks the 40th anniversary of the release of The Sound of Music.

Sketchy Saturdays

Watch out Twisted Spoke Smut and Eggs, a new contender for late Saturday eve fun has emerged: The 5 & Dime Comedy Hour. From this Saturday until Saturday, December 17th, indulge your temptation to skip the porn for 5 & Dime's sketch comedy come absurdist theater. Featuring Megan Bell, Molly Hale and John Pattavina, the hour is directed by Don Hall (of WNEP fame). See you at The Trapdoor Theater this Saturday at 11. Check the details in Slowdown.

Excuse Me, Have You Seen My Stapler?

Yes, that's right, Office Space is coming to a theater near you -- in musical form. The New Millennium Theatre Company is performing Cubical: An Office Space Musical at the National Pastime Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, starting Nov. 18. You're going to have to get your tickets now, yeah.

Abducted Santas and evil elf puppets

The Neo-Futurists' latest prime time show, The Santa Abductions, begins preview shows tomorrow night and opens on Saturday. The story of a disillusioned young man in search of the real Santa Claus, this is the first holiday-themed show for the Neo-Futurists, but is definitely not for the kids. See Slowdown for the full scoop.

10 Amazing Acrobats

After attending the opening, I can say with conviction that 10 Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith is a show worth its salt. Though focusing on a Muslim family assimilating to American standards, the story will speak to anyone who's had diffculty coming to terms with their cultural differences. Running at the Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington, through December 30. Call 312-236-6881 for tickets and more information.

Rocky Horror Does The Suburbs

Few things are as wonderful as doing the time-warp with a hundred half-naked strangers. If you're in the mood, do the time warp again with the cast of Completely Crazy out in Woodridge this weekend. And if you go tonight you can benefit the Gay Games. (This theater has a bar and comfy chairs, a trend we can all get behind. The RHPS is icing on the cake!)

Dance Like Everyone's Watching

As the Joffrey kicks off its 50th Anniversary season tonight with Ashton's Midsummer Night's Dream, the Times takes a look back at what the company has meant to American dance and how its "daring if necessary" settling in Chicago ten years ago has had an impact on local companies. (The Joffrey will also be featured on today's Eighty Forty-Eight. update: We've learned that the segment ran first on Hello Beautiful! over the weekend and is archived here.)

Again with the daredevils

Daredevils, the current show at the Neo-Futurarium that the Tribune called "a small-scale killer spectacle that is likely to be the most entertaining 90 minutes of juvenilia and self-reflection you'll see all year", has been extended and will be playing through the end of October. If you haven't seen this show yet (and it's worth seeing just for the excellent and varied stuntwork), now's your chance! See the Neo-Futurists' Website for the full story and to order tickets.

Notable Theater - Corpus Delicti

Coming on the heels of the recent beef-jerky like exhibition of BodyWorlds, a further exploration of the relationship of food and anatomy seems appropriate. Even if it didn't have Jell-O (or its gelatin ilk), this sounds cool: CORPUS DELICTI: JUST DESSERTS. Not your typical theatrical production as this will happen inside an operating theater at the UIC Medical Campus, never mind a body made of gelatin.


Here's a chance to help another Chicago group get on TV: Schadenfreude has been invited to audition for the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO, which is sponsored and filmed for HBO. Their audition performance is Sunday at 2:30pm at Second City, 1616 N. Wells -- and it's free and open to the public. Help'em nail the audition by filling the theatre!

Hateship, Friendship...

Part of the 17th Annual Rhinocerous Fest, Prop Thtr is putting on a production of "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage" -- performances of local writers' new works. Title sound familiar? The show was inspired by a collection of short stories by the ever-talented Alice Munro. Tonight's opening is at 7pm, 3502-4 N. Elston, and the show runs through October 19. Tickets are $12. Call 773-267-6660 for more information.

David Kodeski remembers

This weekend we saw writer-performer David Kodeski's excellent play, "And Some Can Remember Something of Some Such Thing", which is part of Live Bait Theater's "Fillet of Solo" festival of solo performances. Actually, Kodeski's play was extended for three weekends after the end of the festival, which gives you some idea of how well it's been received. The show, concerning the author's memories of growing up in a Polish family, finishes its run this weekend at Live Bait, and tickets are still available. Fans of Kodeski's witty tales of real life recollections (as also heard on This American Life and Chicago Public Radio) should definitely check this show out.

2005 Jeff Awards Nominees Announced

Nominations for this year's Jeff Awards were announced today, and Playbill has the list. Among local companies, Lincolnshire's Marriott Theatre led the pack, nominated 22 times, largely due to its production of Beauty and the Beast, which scored 7 nods. Winners will be announced at a ceremony downtown in November.

Laughing Matters: Katrina Relief

Four prominent members of the Chicago Comedy Association have banded together for a weekend-long benefit for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, with proceeds from a different theatre each night going to the American Red Cross's relief efforts. You can also expect raffles, "suggestion auctions," and other fundraising efforts at the designated shows. Head to ComedySportz Thursday, I.O. Friday, the Playground Saturday, and Second City Sunday for comedy and karma. See each night in Slowdown for details.

Office Girl next door

Punk literati, take note: Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned (the inaugural selection of the Gapers Block Book Club) and Columbia College writing instructor, is debuting a new work this week: a play called Office Girl. It's being produced by Go Cougars!, of which Meno is a cofounder. "I see theater as this amazing combination of the best storytelling of fiction mixed with the intimacy of a great rock show," he tells the Sun-Times. Details in Slowdown.

See Chicago Dance

If you're looking to get tickets to great dance performances in Chicago, search no further than See Chicago Dance. The website, which is still in its infancy (look for an official launch in early September), will be an online ticket vendor, as well as a calendar of events for the dance-inclined Chicagoan. Companies ranging from the local troupe to national touring productions will be featured, and you can even get ticket and venue-related food deals through the newsletter or Hot Deals page.

Can't swing a cat without hitting a theatre festival

Street festival season in Chicago could also be considered theatre festival season. The dog days of summer provide Chicagoans interested in adventurous new stage work with a plethora of opportunities. Last weekend saw the annual Stages set of new musicals at Theatre Building Chicago. Currently ongoing are Live Bait's Fillet of Solo fest of solo performance and Steppenwolf's new entry, the First Look Repertory of New Work. This weekend brings two more players to the table, with the two-week Single File collection of solo pieces, and the three-day tsunami of fringe theatre that is Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins. Go out and see something new.

Neo-Futurists take Ibsen to NYC

The Neo-Futurists have to be feeling pretty good these days. They're heading to NYC this week to participate in the annual New York International Fringe Festival, and their festival entry, The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen, was picked by the New York Times as one of the top 10 shows to see this year. If you missed the play when it was at the Neo-Futurarium at the beginning of the year, you've still got a chance to see it tomorrow night at a special fund-raiser performance. See Slowdown for details.

Hubbard Street Slam Dance

The Hubbard Street Dance Company is in New York right now, which means they're being exposed to more than just the typical fawning from the local media. "Chicago troupe bound by a string of cliches" screams the headline in Newsday. Well, at least the New York Times found the performance "entertaining."

Help a Daredevil out

Our close personal friends the Neo-Futurists are finishing up their summer series of performances tonight, with a staged reading of the 1957 Roger Corman film Sorority Girl (more info), but of course they're hard at work on their 2005-06 season of plays. Their next play, Daredevils, will look at the compulsion to perform death-defying (or at least moderately risky) stunts, and the performers are offering a unique fund-raiser to finance the equipment they need for the play.

For a donation of $25 or $50, the Daredevils will be sporting your name or logo on their jumpsuits, or on some other piece of equipment that's being used in the production. Your name or logo will be seen by dozens of people each night the play is running (September 10 through October 15), and they will know that you are a kick-ass patron of the arts. For full information on how you can help the Daredevils out, check out this blog entry from the Daredevils Weblog.

Worth seeing when they come back

Several local theater groups are taking their productions on the road this month to perform in the New York Fringe Festival. The Village Voice has the story and provides a nice run-down of shows and companies to check out once they're back in town.

Sissy Butch Brothers Burlesque

Have you been waiting for the Sissy Butch Brothers to put on another show? It's finally here! This funny, smart and sexy burlesque show on August 27 at the Abbey. With guest stars including Satan's Angel and Lady Ace, plus a bevy of local acts, this is a must-see. The show starts at 9 p.m. and costs just $15.

Broadway the 'Pod way

No doubt, the podcast is the blog trend of the moment, one only bolstered by the latest version of iTunes. For the past month, Talk Theatre has been running a weekly audio recap of local theater news, but today they announce its complement: the Broadway in Chicago podcast.

Welcome to The Jungle

A number of us have recently come to love the story of Jurgis Rudkus's plight in the stockyards of old Chicago, but didn't you think there was just a little something missing? Like song and dance?! Every Monday and Tuesday through August 30, Tantalus Theatre Group is putting on a musical interpretation of The Jungle. With a $10 donation you can witness the rat-infested Lithuanian home acted out in song. Head to Joy Blue at 3998 N. Southport, 8pm, or call 773-960-2066 for more information.

Redmoon Rising

Redmoon Theater is offering an insider's sneak-peek at its upcoming show, Spectacle '05: Loves Me... Loves Me Not, at 7pm tonight. Meet on the back steps of the Museum of Science and Industry, 57th and Lake Shore Drive, to watch the first on-site rehearsal of the performance. You'll have a chance to see the Redmoon artistic team take the first steps toward staging a large-scale spectacle on water. Loves ME... Loves Me Not is the second in Redmoon's series of ambitious outdoor spectacles, and will be performed on the lagoon September 16-25. For more information, please contact Oriana Fowler at 312-850-8440 ext.112.

More on the I.O.

Following the 50th anniversary of the first performance by The Compass Players, the Sun-Times gives a little history on the small group of University of Chicago students who spawned a world of improv. The article traces the group's beginnings, citing the influence it had on such troupes as Second City, ImprovOlympic, ComedySportz and the Annoyance Theatre. We knew the U of C kids were smart, but who knew they also had a sense of humor?

I hope they remembered to trademark "The Harold"

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Chicago's ImprovOlympic comedy club is changing its name to the not-too-descriptive I.O., after the Olympic committee threatened to sue the theater for trademark infringement. The theater company started in 1981, has a companion theater in L.A., and is credited with starting the careers of way too many funny people to list here. Will the comedy be just as funny under the new name? We shall see....

'80s Burlesque? Yes!

Want to see some fine ladies shake it to classic '80s tunes? Join Miss Exotic World 2005 Michelle L'Amour at Subterranean tonight! She and her marvelous Sugarbabies will perform burlesque routines, leg warmers flailing, to Michael Jackson, Motley Crue, Tony Basil and more! A truly fabulous burlesque experience is to be had. It's just $5 and starts at 9:30pm.

The Living News and the Game of Hurt

50 years ago today, improv comedy was born when a group of University of Chicago students took to the stage under the name "The Compass" and presented a show based on the news of the day and suggestions from their audience. Tonight, in conjunction with the Chicago Improv Festival, a group of current U of C students will recreate the Compass' first show, performed on July 5, 1955. See Slowdown for details.

Steppenwolf Discount

The Steppenwolf Theatre Company has been nice enough to extend this exclusive offer to Gapers Block readers: two for one tickets to The Pain and the Itch, its next mainstage play. The offer is valid for performances Thurs., June 30 through Sat., July 9th. Call 312/335-1650 and mention code "1503," or buy online. It's subject to availability, and restrictions may apply.

From Feta To Theater

The Albany Park Theater Group has a very interesting project for this summer's performance: Saffron. It's a play about stories overheard at local Persian restaurant Noon-O-Kebab, or "One big world in one small storefront". They are also offering a Persian cooking class as a benefit for the theater project. (I think this place has the best feta in the city, and it's neat to see feta blossom into youth theater.)

It Came from the Neo-Futurarium!

The Neo-Futurist theater company has posted its schedule of performances for this summer's "film fest," It Came From The Neo-Futurarium IV: Spawn of The Neo-Futurarium! Once a week for six weeks in July and August, The Neo-Futurists (and other friendly theater companies) will perform live readings/re-creations of various cheezy movies, ranging from sci-fi shockers to trashy potboilers. See the Neo-Futurist website for a complete schedule, which includes such movies as Death Wish 3, Zontar: The Thing From Venus, and Tremors (the edited-for-TV version). These shows have consistently been very funny and entertaining over the past few years, so I would definitely recommend attending.

Soon to be more majestic than ever

An interesting article (replete with graphics) in today's New York Times chronicles the beginnings of renovation to the LaSalle Bank Theatre, formerly known as the Shubert. The theater will reopen in the fall, and, after the $36m project is complete next spring, the Majestic Building will also feature seventeen stories of Hampton Inn hotel space.

Chicago on Broadway

The Tony Awards were presented last night in New York, and as usual Chicago made its presence felt on the Broadway scene. Jam Theatricals, the Chicago-based spinoff of Jam Productions, received its first Tonys as co-producers on Best Musical winner Monty Python's Spamalot and Best Revival of a Play winner Glengarry Glen Ross (also the first Tony honor for Chicago's own David Mamet). Spamalot, of course, premiered here in December, and also won for director Mike Nichols, a U of C alumnus and founding member of the Compass Players (precursor to Second City). The Light in the Piazza, which played a pre-Broadway engagement at the Goodman last year, took home six Tonys; Celia Keenan-Bolger, who appeared in Piazza at the Goodman, went on to be nominated as Best Featured Actress for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee against her own replacement in Piazza, but the award went to Spamalot phenom Sara Ramirez. Whew.

Spending for Shakespeare

Last week, Toronto fell in love with our mayor. He'll have to make way, though, for the most recent local darlings of Ontario, David Green and Mary Winton Green, who love the Stratford Festival so much, they've ponied up a million bucks to support it (their story runs in today's Globe and Mail). Though the Canadian press have expressed admiration for Chicago theater in the past, the Greens have been heading north for 35 years now, apparently to escape the "muttering" of method acting. And, while they might go a little less frequently these days, they still make the 450mi drive at least once a year. As they're in their 80s, that's some definite dedication.

Theatrical Thrill Killers

Let's say you find yourself in NYC some time during June. You're looking for a taste of home, and you don't mind your show tunes mixed with murder. Well, the York Theatre Company's production of Thrill Me could be just the ticket. It tells the tale of Leopold and Loeb as, remarkably enough, a musical! Although Neil Genzlinger of the Times finds nothing especially new here, still, he says, the show "lands like a well-placed punch, arresting and a bit breathtaking." Which, in this case, at least, is a good thing.

The Cabinet is still open

Just got word from Redmoon Theater that their amazing puppet show "The Cabinet" (an adaptation of the classic silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) is now playing an open run at Redmoon's home theater space (tickets are currently available through the end of June). If you missed this show when it was playing at the Viaduct, you've got a second chance to check out this creepy tale of puppetry, somnambulism, and murder.

Hot Tix? That's Hot

Hot Tix, the League of Chicago Theatres' discount ticket office, is opening its new Loop location today at 72 E. Randolph. Stop by between now and 5pm for free Starbucks coffee, ticket giveaways, and performances by the casts of shows like Wicked and Whose West Wing is it Anyway. Hot Tix offers half-price day-of and week-of tickets to shows at 125 Chicago-area theatres; the list of available shows is posted every day at, but must be purchased in person at the Hot Tix booths in the Loop, the Water Works Visitors Center, the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, or any Tower Records location. (Thanks, Fil.)

Saints preserve us

If you're a theatregoer in Chicago, you've seen members of The Saints, the 25-year-old volunteer organization for the performing arts. They're most visible as ushers at nearly every nonprofit theater in the city, but they also provide other services. Ushering through the Saints is a great way to help out up-and-coming theatres, and you see the shows for free! Membership for the year beginning June 1 is only $50 before May 31, or $25 for students; you can join online here.


The Kuumba Lynx Interdisciplinary Ensemble (of Truman College) is offering its current Hip-Hop Theatre production, El Barrio Clocks Our Beatz N Rhymez Phase III. Described as a Chicago-rooted journey "fusing the elements of spoken word, urban dance, turntabilsim, social commentary, rhythm, and personal stories... [blending] humor and emotional truth," this certainly isn't your average out-of-the ordinary hip hop production. Shows run at Truman College's Novar Hall Room #3246 (1154 W. Wilson) tonight at 10am and 7pm and Saturday at 1pm and 6pm. Tickets are $12, $5 for school matinees.

Online community-building... for live theatre

The House Theatre of Chicago isn't only the most-hyped young theatre company in several years (and current recipient of 12 Jeff nominations). They may also be the most web-savvy theatre company anywhere, ever. In addition to their well-designed website, they have a 3-month-old blog, a new Flickr account for posters and production photos, and now even a podcast. Their newest show, Dave DaVinci Saves the Universe, opens Saturday (see Slowdown).


Have you ever wanted to turn your own personal experiences into a play? Did you see the Reader's recent cover story on Neo-Futurist founder Greg Allen, and become intrigued by the tenets of his theater company? Or do you just want to stand in front of a large crowd for two minutes, and pay for the privilege? The Neo-Futurists are willing to oblige, as they present this year's fund-raising activity for the theater: a chance for you (yes, YOU) to write and perform your very own play, in a special performance of their long-running show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind.

Here's how it works: call up the Neo-Futurist office at (773) 878-4557 to reserve yourself a spot in the show. (You may also email the Neo-Futurists at development[at]neofuturists[dot]org.) Then, start attending Neo-Futurism workshops beginning on Thursday, May 19, to learn how to develop your own TML play. Finally, on Friday, June 4, you and 29 other people who have signed up will perform a special one-night-only edition of TML, for an audience of your family and friends. The experience will cost you a $100 donation to the theater, but will give you bragging rights for years to come. Sign up soon; there are only a few slots left for this unique theatrical experience!

Improvize Your Weekend

There's so much going on in the city right now that we somehow missed putting the Chicago Improv Festival on the list. Starting tonight and lasting all week long, this is the time to see Chicago's homegrown brand of theatrical comedy (and sometimes tragedy, but mostly comedy) from many of the nation's best troupes. Here's the whole schedule in PDF format.

Jeff Citation nominations

The nominees for the 2005 Joseph Jefferson Citations Wing Awards were announced Wednesday. The Jeff Citations Wing honors productions from Chicago's unique and thriving non-union theatre scene (union shows have a separate awards ceremony in the fall). TimeLine and Circle Theatre lead the way with 14 nominations each, followed by Bailiwick with 13 and the House Theatre, in its first year of eligibility, with 12. The full list of nominations can be found at Playbill. Awards will be presented June 13 at Park West.

Reconstruction Room vs. Hermit Arts

Got a hankerin' for some poetry and performance by local Chicago up-and-comers? Then stop by the Black Rock Bar at Damen and Addision at 8pm today and join the Reconstruction Room. There's no admission -- save the price of a beer or two. Tonight's activities are heavy on the performance when local Performing Arts Chicago alums Hermit Arts collaborate with the Rec-Roomers. More info in Slowdown.

Patriots & kids at the Neo-Futurarium

The Neo-Futurists have a busy weekend, as they're previewing a new prime-time show tonight (Patriots, a look at people who really love their country) and bringing back an old show on Saturday afternoon (Too Much Light Kids, a child-friendly version of their late-night show; the previous run was reviewed for GB by Alejandra Valera). See Slowdown for details on these new shows.

Star and Garter Burlesque

Looking for somthing sexy to do tomorrow night? Lavender Cabaret star Michelle L'Amour and her gang of lovelies will be at Subterranean for Star and Garter Burlesque. A whole evening of burlesque revival--for just $5. Subterranean is located at 2011 W. North Avenue at Chicago.

Ana Gasteyer will get you, my pretty

Playbill is reporting some casting news for that Chicago production of Wicked: SNL star (and Northwestern alumna) Ana Gasteyer will put on the green makeup as the title character. Steppenwolf ensemble member Rondi Reed and multiple Jeff-winner Gene Weygandt, both familiar faces around the city, take on two of the secondary leads. Tickets for the permanent cast, which starts June 24, go on sale April 4.

Wicked Forever

The hit Broadway musical Wicked is coming to Chicago -- possibly permanently. The show opens at the Oriental Theater on April 2, but when the touring production moves on, a local company will take over and stay here indefinitely.

PAC/edge Theater Festival

This week the PAC/edge theatre festival continues, with lots of neat and off-beat performances. Known hedonist and arts enthusiast Sara writes to pass on a tip: price savvy theater-goers can also get discounted tickets at Hot Tix. $15 for some cutting-edge theater seems like a good deal to me, if you can swing by Hot Tix and get it for $10/seat then it's a downright steal.

Plucky understudy gets big break!

Dylis Croman, a veteran of Broadway and national touring companies, takes over for Christina Applegate in the current production of "Sweet Charity" at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, after Applegate broke her foot in Friday's performance. OUCH. She is expected to recuperate in time for the Broadway run of the show, which begins April 4. In other words, if you wanted to see Christina Applegate in "Sweet Charity", you're outta luck. Update: the show closed this weekend anyway, and Christina's official understudy, Charlotte d'Amboise, will perform in the show while it's in Boston. Tough darts, Boston!

Velour-Clad Hedonists

Here's a great resource, especially if you're involved in the performing arts community: The Last Outpost Of The Cult Of Velour-Clad Hedonists. It's a lj site that highlights upcoming shows, where to get cheap tickets, and where to attend workshops of use to performers. A venture of the Links Hall, they are doing a great job of highlighting multi-discipline performances in Chicago.

More Ibsen for all!

The Neofuturists' current prime-time show, The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen, has been extended two more weeks. It's running Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at the Neo-Futurarium through March 19, and it's really funny and entertaining. You should go see it. (No knowledge of Ibsen is required to enjoy the show.) See the Neo-Futurist site for full details and to purchase tickets.

Blogging in the House (Theatre)

Pop-theatre critical darlings The House Theatre of Chicago have started their own blog, where artistic director Nate Allen and company hope to interact with the company's fans. Among the revelations so far: 1930's Chicago, as depicted in the online comic book we told you about last year, will be the setting for the final installment of the Valentine Trilogy next year. Meanwhile the middle piece of the triptych, Curse of the Crying Heart, runs through March 12.

"An Evening with Langston & Martin"

Actors Danny Glover and Felix Justice perform writings and speeches of Langston Hughes and Martin Luther King, Jr. tonight at 7:30pm at St. Sabina, 1210 W 78th Place. Tickets are only $10 ($5 for children). Call 773/483-4300 for more information.

Your Theatrical Debut Awaits

Admit it: you've always wanted to write or direct a short play. Here's your chance: Collaboraction is now accepting submissions for its upcoming 2005 production. (If you're not familiar with Collaboraction, check out 2004's show.)

New York Times Makes The Baby Go Blind

Chicago's Neo-Futurist theater company gets a mention in today's New York Times, on the occasion of the New York chapter of the company returning to Manhattan's Belt Theater tonight to perform the Neo-Futurists' flagship show "Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind".

Theater Thursdays

First Friday's not happening often enough for your cultural cruising self? Try Theater Thursday, a new promotion by the folks behind HotTix. Every Thursday they'll have discounted theater tickets, cocktails and snacks before or after the show, and a chance to shmooze with actors or go behind the scenes. This Thursday things will get started with "I Am My Own Wife" at the Goodman.

Blood Simple Dance

Looking for something a bit more cultured this weekend? Estradanza performs tonight, Saturday and Sunday at 8pm (plus a 5pm show on Sunday) at the Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt. The performance features the premiere of artistic director Juan Estrada's "Blood Simple" (presumably not based on the movie), Dardi McGinley Gallivan's "Fete" and Shelby Kroger's "Mythical Mathematical Madness." $15 general adminission, $12 for students/seniors. Call 773/655-9165 for more info.

Santaland Diaries

I hate almost all holiday-related events, but David Sedaris I can get down with. Theater Wit is performing the writer's Santaland Diaries at the Raven Theater Complex. The show is running at 6157 N. Clark, until January 8th, excluding December 23rd-26th; call 773/506-8150 for tickets. The Sun-Times gives it a review.

Sleep-deprived improv? Sweet.

Looking for something to do next Tuesday, for oh, say, twenty-four hours? The Second City is presenting its third annual benefit performance, "The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters To Santa." Beginning at 8:30 Tuesday night, a group of Second City all-stars takes the stage—and doesn't leave it until 8:30 the next night. Proceeds go to gifts for needy Chicago-area kids. (If improv isn't your bag, you might be enticed by the prospect of Jeff Tweedy in your living room. The Wilco frontman does a guest spot during the evening, and there'll be a silent auction to win a private performance for you and twenty of your friends.) Further details in Slowdown.

Spamalot In Depth

If you were too late to get Spamalot tickets this fall, you can at least read about the makings of the theatrical adaptation of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail in this week's New Yorker. Investigated back in its early rehearsal stages by Chicago-native writer man Dave Eggers, the musical looks to be full to the brim with Python laughs (and whether you find those laughs funny is up to you). A bonus to online readers is a special Python Q & A with Eggers and Matt Dellinger. Spamalot opens at the Shubert Theater on December 21st.

Spamalot Around Town

As the Christmas-week premiere of Monty Python's Spamalot approaches, we're starting to get sightings of the show's stars. GB staff members have spotted Hank Azaria and David Hyde Pierce at Monday's showtune night at Sidetrack, and Tim Curry at the Art Institute. Now who's seen Mike Nichols?

Sexy Burlesque for the Holidays

The Lavender Cabaret brings back its sexy show, Femme TV! After a successful run at the Lakeshore Theatre, LavCab is moving to the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts. Femme TV is a sexy, sizzling send-up of pop culture nostaligia featuring very lovely ladies. The show opens December 3 and runs through the end of the month. Get tickets and more info.

One Man Star Wars

Charlie Ross is one man against an empire. Well, actually, he plays the Empire, too, in his One Man Star Wars Trilogy, running now through Valentine's Day at the Apollo Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $19 ($15 for students); may the Force be with you.

If you are a dreamer, come in

The Theatre Building Chicago, at 1227 W. Belmont, presents An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein, focusing on the author's short plays. I still pick up my vintage Silversteins and admire the rhymes and line drawings - and also the pages wherein someone lovingly colored the Meehoo and the Exactlywatt. This show, however, is for a slightly older audience. The more mature Shel can be seen through December 18th.

Evita is the Pits?

Chicagoist reports on a bit of a mishap at last Friday's performance of "Evita" at the Auditorium Theater. Apparently the leading man misjudged a slide across the stage and ended up in the orchestra pit. Don't cry for him, though: the performance restarted ten minutes later.

Connecting You with Your Belly Dancer is the city's premier resource for belly dancing around the city. Find classes -- admit it, you've always wanted to learn -- and peruse the monthly calendar of belly dancing around town. Found via Arabesque, a new belly dance studio on the far Northwest Side, which is throwing a party this weekend at Fizz.

Bolshoi Ballet Hits Chicago

Beginning this week, the famed Bolshoi Ballet and Orchestra sets up shop at the Auditorium Theatre, rotating between performances of two Marius Petipa classics, Don Quixote and Raymonda. If you like dance, or can at least appreciate a beautiful, technically-precise spectacle, this will be worth checking out. And, as the Reader suggests, it seems fortunate that the company isn't staging their modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, so I'll gladly take what we can get. Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster.

Theater for the kids

Can't attend the trunk show tomorrow, because you're stuck at home watching the kids? Why not take them to the theater? The Neo-Futurists are starting a kid-friendly version of their long-running late-night show "Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind", and the first performance is tomorrow afternoon at 2pm. Kids age 6 and over are invited to attend, and since the regular "Too Much Light" show includes a lot of audience participation there should be plenty for the kids to do. See the Neo-Futurist website for more details.


The latest play in the Neo-Futurists' 2004-05 prime time series officially opens tomorrow night (although there's a preview performance tonight). Windmilled takes as its inspiration Cervantes' novel "Don Quixote", and mixes in personal stories from the actors about their fights against insurmountable odds. "What makes us fight these battles and how do we learn to lay down our arms at last? When you set out to be a hero do you always end up an ass?" These and other questions are pondered in Windmilled. See the Neo-Futurist Website for further information and to purchase tickets.

Blow Up the Perimeter

The Plasticene theatre company debuts its new show, "The Perimeter," tonight at 8pm at The Viaduct, 3111 N. Western. "The Perimeter" is a wordless, physical performance exploring "how central power exerts its influence at the geographical and human edges of its authority." It runs through November 21.

Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy

Playwright Tony Kushner won two Obies, two Tonys, the Pulitzer, and, last month, an Emmy for his brilliant play "Angels in America." In his new play-in-progress, "Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy," Kushner explores the mystery of the mistress of beige, First Lady Laura Bush. In the first scene of the new work, Mrs. Bush goes to heaven to read the Grand Inquisitor segment of "The Brothers Karamazov" to dead Iraqi children; in scene two, she argues with Kushner himself about the place of politics in art. The play gets an election-weekend reading this Friday evening at Next Theatre. See details in Slowdown.

That's all for Alice

If you were hoping to catch the Neo-Futurists' critically acclaimed show "Alice" on its final weekend (October 23 and 24), you're out of luck! The final two dates are sold out, and the show isn't going to be extended past these dates. Fortunately for you, you still have at least two more chances to see special Neo-Futurist theatrical presentations this week: Thursday night at the Abbey Pub, where the Neo-Futurists will open for Monty Python musical collaborator Neil Innes; and Friday & Saturday night, when you can catch a special presentation of "43 Plays for 43 Presidents."

Drag Kings Everywhere!

Love chicks dressed as dudes? You're in luck! Drag kings from around the world are descending on Chicago this weekend. International Drag King Extravaganza 6 is a three-day conference with events held at area venues, starting tomorrow. This year's theme -- "gendeRevolution" -- will be explored through academic and non-academic panel discussions, and celebrated through visual art and live performances. Serious discussions plus red-hot fun!

Gory garage sale

As Defiant Theatre staggers toward the grave—the company's final and well-received production, "A Clockwork Orange", closes this Saturday—they're getting rid of their inventory with a "Graverobbing Sale." They promise to have "tons of costumes, props, office equipment, phalli, and much, much more" on the cheap. The sale is Saturday, 10am-4pm at Defiant's warehouse space at 3711 N. Ravenswood.

Alice, Alice, Alice!

There must be something surreal in the air, because at least three local theater companies are doing or are planning productions based on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books. The Lookingglass Theatre's "Lookingglass Alice" is coming next February, and next week the Chopin Theatre's presenting UMA Productions' "Enter Alice," which apparently combines the Alice story with elements of burlesque. But this weekend, you can catch the Neo-Futurists' production of "Alice," which opened last week and collected favorable reviews from the Tribune, the Sun-Times, Newcity and the Reader (review not online). See the Neo-Futurist Website for more information on "Alice" and to make reservations.

Freedom Theatre

Playing French is a new festival of sorts, a series of contemporary French plays organized by the local French Embassy and taking place all over the city in September, October and November. There's quite an interesting lineup, including a play one of our readers is in, "How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients," which opens at the Chopin Theatre this Friday.

Rhinoceros Theater Fest

The 16th Rhino Theater Fest begins tonight. The last gasp in their current space for the Curious Theater Branch, the Rhino Fest features a scattered schedule of 17 programs of music, performance, and fringe theatre, stretched from here through November 20. We've added each event to our Slowdown calendar; for a full schedule at-a-glance, click here for a PDF.

Spamalot Tickets on Sale

Get your Spamalot now! Tickets went on sale today for Eric Idle's world-premiere musical "Spamalot" based on the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The production is set to open December 21, and runs until January 16, 2005 at the Shubert Theatre downtown. We've talked about this before here, and here. Tickets can be bought via the usual venues, including Ticketmaster, and range from $23 to $73.

CST dominates Jeff noms

The nominations for the 2004 Joseph Jefferson Awards were announced this afternoon. The Jeffs recognize achievement by Chicago-area Equity theatres. Chicago Shakespeare Theater leads the pack by a long run with 25 nominations for six shows; six noms are for Rose Rage, the marathon adaptation of Henry VI, which opens a New York run next week.

Bikes + Theater = Spectacle!

Word on the street is that Critical Mass, the bicycle ride that takes place on the last Friday of the month, is going to hit the South Side this month in time for Redmoon Theater's outdoor spectacle Sink Sank Sunk in Chinatown. What's in store? A full chorus. A lantern and fire procession. And of course a performance. Not your usual Friday night (though the theater performance will also take place on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday).

Everybody Promenade

Grab your partner and swing on over to Chicagoland Square Dance for a complete list of square dancing resources for the Chicago area. Check out their calendar of dances, square dancing clubs in the city, and find out where to buy the appropriate attire. And if you don't know your Allemande Left from your Allemande Right, take a look at their schedule of square dancing lessons. Let's Dosado!

Neo-Preview Party: you're invited!

The Neo-Futurists begin their 2004-2005 prime time season at the end of next week with an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland stories, and to celebrate this first show they're throwing a party on Sunday, September 12th. You'll see a preview of "Alice" and other upcoming works, get a backstage tour of the Neo-Futurarium, and have a chance to mingle with the Neo-Futurists as you sample the finest culinary delights that an independent Chicago theater company can afford to purchase! Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors), and can be purchased at the Neo-Futurist Website.

Celebrity bloopers live on stage

A really funny stage show returns this weekend: Verbatim Verboten, which is a series of readings of celebrity bloopers, illicitly recorded conversations, audio diaries, and other embarrassing slices of private life inadvertently shown to the public. In addition to hearing the outrageous words of the famous and infamous, there will be special guests from Chicago's arts and entertainment community in every show. Verbatim Verboten will be at the Royal George Theatre Center (1641 N. Halsted), and runs Friday & Saturday nights at 9:30 for the next 6 weeks. Tickets are $20; call the box office at (312) 988-9000 for more details. Also note that there will be a special George W. Bush themed show this Sunday at 7:00 PM, just in time for the Republican National Convention.

Sinister Puppets in Oak Park

15-foot puppets. Satire. Free. Saturday at 2:30 and 4pm. Sinister puppets, seriously. A "four-dimensional political cartoon." Sounds good.

Steal This Theatre Fest

Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.'s annual theatrical celebration of the spirit of Woodstock, gets under way tonight at Strawdog Theatre. The Abbie fest is a marathon of short pieces by Chicago's smaller companies and solo artists, starting at 7pm and ending sometime late Sunday night (or early Monday morning). It's a very relaxed, slightly loopy environment of performers and audience bonding together over beer and sleep deprivation. The Reader has an annotated schedule; trust me, times are approximate.

C*ck not blocked

The Sun-Times reports that Chicago police have declined to shut down the return engagement of that Australian marvel "Puppetry of the Penis," which rears its head tonight at the Lakeshore Theater. Although the show petered out in Boston due to complaints of tenants in the city's John Hancock Theatre building, Chicago has a lengthy history of nude theater (witness the current extravaganza "Naked Boys Singing" at the Bailiwick), and authorities declined to respond to a local group's complaints. So there's apparently a vas deferens between Boston and Chicago.

Babes with Blades Fight Back

The women of local stage-fighting theatre company Babes with Blades are hosting a 3-hour workshop on Sunday, August 29 to teach women a different kind of fighting: self-defense (sans swords). This free workshop will be led by a martial arts instructor and will begin at 12:30 at Sheil Park, 3505 N. Southport. Call 773-392-8414 to register.

Defiant to the end

You heard it here... well, not quite first. At the end of this, their eleventh season, Defiant Theatre will be disbanding. The company that was founded in 1993 by a group of U of I grads and quickly attracted young audiences with its provocative, "dangerous" style, has decided to pull the plug with most of the founding members having moved on. They'll finish out the run of their current production of The Pyrates (p.s., I'm in it) and conclude with A Clockwork Orange, currently in rehearsals for a September opening. Full story at PerformInk.

Breakin' at the Neo-Futurarium

Tonight the Neo-Futurists wind up their summer schedule of dramatic readings of bad, forgotten, or otherwise neglected films. This year's installment of "It Came From The Neo-Futurarium" concludes with a reading of 1984's Breakin' (Not Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo). The film will be (no doubt memorably) reenacted by actors from the Barrel of Monkeys theater troupe. The show begins tonight at 8:00 at the Neo-Futurarium (5153 N. Ashland), and reservations are highly recommended. See the Neo-Futurist Website for more details, or call the theater at (773) 275-5255.

Dinner and a show

Centerstage has a neat "dinner and a play" feature up pairing current shows to see with worthwhile restaurants near the theatres. (One of them is, ahem, my current show.) The Latino Theater Festival and the Artistic Home's "Street Scene" both ended last week, but all of the other shows listed can still be seen, and of course the resturant reviews stand.

Live theater at the Biograph?

One of Chicago's most famous landmarks, the Biograph Theatre, is going to be purchased by Victory Gardens Theatre and converted to a live theater complex, according to the Tribune. The interior of the building will be renovated and turned into a 299-seat mainstage that would serve as the primary production home for Victory Gardens. Hey, at least it's not getting turned into condos, right?

Vive la revolution

The new young theatre company Les Sansculottes are hosting, appropriately enough, a Bastille Day show tonight at the Hideout. Sansculottes and Electrorange present Rock the Bastille, featuring Menthol, The Wes Hollywood Show and the Specs. Proceeds go to Sansculottes' fall production.

Sock Puppet Showgirls!

My god! How did we let this slip past us?! Harvey Finklestein's masterpiece, Sock Puppet Showgirls, has returned for a one-month run at the Theatre Building! And tickets are only $10! Here's the trailer!

Lead Trio Signs On for Spamalot

As reported previously, the Monty Python-themed play, Spamalot, will begin its pre-Broadway tryout at the Chicago Shubert Theatre Dec. 21. The lead trio was just announced, including David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry and Hank Azaria. Just yesterday, we reported that Chicago is in top form regarding the theatre circuit; this further proves Chicago is on the rise for debuting top talent.

Theatre capital of America? Sweet.

Last month, the Guardian's longtime theatre critic Michael Billington spent a week here, seeing eight shows at several Chicago theatres (as documented in Hedy Weiss's Sun-Times column). His report upon returning to London names us "the current theatre capital of America." "While New York, with its suffocating commercialism, seems increasingly hidebound, it is to Chicago that the true theatregoer now avidly looks," he wrote, noting the city's 156 primarily non-profit theatre companies spread through every neighborhood. "It's a city that embraces the classics as well as contemporary work, that regards theatre as a source of delight rather than an instrument of profit and that has a midwestern openness to new experience."

Frankie and Johnny and Austin

Spotted last night: actor Austin Pendleton at Sidetrack. The Steppenwolf ensemble member is directing their highly anticipated mainstage—oops, sorry, "Downstairs"—production of "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" with Laurie Metcalf, opening this Friday.

Outdoor Theater (in a good way)

The Chicago Park District's Theater on the Lake season opens tonight. Every summer, the Park District invites a group of local theatre companies to remount one of the past season's productions at the open-air theater on the lakeshore at Fullerton Ave. It's a great way to catch a show you may have missed. The season kicks off with Griffin's production of Picnic; later you'll find offerings from the Neo-Futurists, Second City, The House, and Teatro Luna, among others. Full schedule here.

Clinger Blooms on Stage

A couple of months ago it was noted that Will Clinger, longtime host of WTTW's "Wild Chicago", was leaving the show to pursue a career on stage. He's just showed up in his first role post-WC -- as James Joyce's Leopold Bloom in the Irish Repertory production of "A Dublin Bloom," a stage adaptation of "Ulysses". So far, it's gotten mostly positive reviews. The show runs through June 27 at the Victory Gardens Theater.

Jeff Citations issued

The Chicago theatre community's Jeff Citations were awarded last night in a ceremony at Park West. The Citations wing awards of the Joseph Jefferson Committee honor achievement among the city's numerous non-union theatres. This year's big winner was Bailiwick Repertory Theatre, which took eleven awards for three productions, including best musical for "Dr. Sex." TimeLine's "Hannah and Martin" and Strawdog's "Detective Story" shared the award for best play—unlike the Equity Jeffs, Citations are non-competitive and there are often multiple winners in a category.

Destination: Manifest

As the latest class of Columbia students prepares to graduate, the college will be promoting their work during Thursday's all-day Manifest festival. There'll essentially be four festivals running in tandem -- art, music, performance and readings -- all spread out along the South Loop Arts Corridor, with free trolleys running between the five major locations. Among the myriad styles of art on display: photography, puppetry, pop, painting, product design, poetry, papermaking ... and dozens of others. All events are free and open to the public.

Toronto has a crush on us

We missed this at first (thanks go to PerformInk's Ben Winters for highlighting it), but last month the Toronto Star's theatre critic Richard Ouzounian wrote a love letter to Chicago's theatre industry, and to Mayor Daley for his support of it. "While Toronto has long considered itself 'Broadway North,'" he writes, "it is now outshone by a burgeoning 'Broadway West.'"

Bill Irwin at Steppenwolf

Remember Kirby, the Rick Moranis' goofy, merengue-dancing partner in My Blue Heaven? That was Bill Irwin, who's known mostly for his brilliance as a clown and playwright. His Broadway play Fool Moon combined those two skills and earned him a Tony. He's coming to Chicago for one night this summer -- June 7, at Steppenwolf -- where he'll be performing a "pastiche" of his solo stuff. Tickets are $30 and still available.

Chicago directors in NJ

The New York Times profiles Chicagoans Gary Griffin and Thomas Murray, as they remount their version of "My Fair Lady" in Princeton, New Jersey. Their production first played the Court Theatre in 2002; Chicago actress Kate Fry is reprising her role as Eliza Doolittle. Griffin is expected to stage another musical at Chicago Shakespeare at the end of the year.

We Delight in Other People's Misfortune

The sketch comedy troupe Schadenfreude -- you may have heard their show on WBEZ Sunday nights at 8:30 -- performs at the Lakeshort Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, tonight and every Friday 'til June 25 at 11pm. The one-hour show showcases the group's unique brand of social and political satire. Tickets are $12, available at the door. Call 773/472-3492 for more info.

Swing Yer Partner!

Looking for a square dance? Since 1987, the Chi-Town Squares has promoted and taught modern square dancing. They welcome all dancers, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. Dances take place at the Ebenezer Church Community Center at 1640 W. Foster. Classes don't start till September, but the next dance is June 19th.

Shubert Theatre to be renamed

The Shubert Theatre is going to be closed down early next year for a multi-million dollar renovation, and is scheduled to reopen with a new name: the LaSalle Bank Theatre. Theatre history: the Shubert name comes from the Shubert Organization, which bought the theatre in 1945 and named it for organization co-founder Sam Shubert.

1-2-3, 1-2-3 ....

It's that time of year—wedding season. Not only do you have wedding chicken, open bars, and gift registries to look forward to, but also the dreaded dancefloor. Polish up your formal footwork at one of Chicago's many dance studios. Check out wedding and other dance packages at Chicago Swing, Dance Center Chicago, Chicago Dance and others.

Name-Brand Chicago Stories

Victory Gardens Theater has turned three prominent Chicagoans into amateur playwrights for its annual Chicago Stories benefit this Friday. Queer Eye's Ted Allen, Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, and philanthropist Susan Pritzker have each written one-act plays to be performed at the gala at the Four Seasons. Past celebrity playwrights for the annual event include Roger Ebert, Carol Moseley Braun, Jesse Jackson, and Stedman Graham. With tickets starting at $250, most of us will just have to imagine the scenes being set.

Noble Fool's noble effort ends

Hedy Weiss reports in the Sun-Times that the Noble Fool comedy theater is closing its doors, just two years after moving into its home on Randolph Street. Given that Noble Fool announced its 2004-05 season just last week, this comes as a bit of a surprise. The company's move to the Loop location, part of the School of the Art Institute's dorm development, was partially funded by a $1 million grant from the city.

Return of the King

The Tribune reports that Julie Taymor's musical adaptation of "The Lion King" will be coming back to Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre in June 2005. The same company that started its tour in Chicago last year will be doing the play, probably with much of the same cast in place.

"Sin" Wagon to Boston

Bailiwick Repertory's production of Sin: A Cardinal Deposed will travel to Boston in June. After Wellesley College reneged on an offer to bring the play, based on public-record depositions by Cardinal Bernard Law in the Catholic Church's sex-abuse scandal, to Boston, Bailiwick decided to produce the Boston run itself. The company is looking for donors and sponsors for the endeavor; those interested can contact Mark Steel at

NYT likes Letts

We pointed out last week that Steppenwolf's Tracy Letts is the man of the hour in the theatre world. Today, the Times' Bruce Weber does the same.

Hey girl, wanna be in a show?

Bailiwick Repertory Theatre will hold an open house this Sunday, April 18 starting at 11am, for anyone interested in performing in or supporting the 2004 All-Girl Revue, sponsored by Bailiwick's Lesbian Theatre Initiative. "Musicians, poets, dancers, actors, and visual artists welcome," they say. Performances are May 23 and 24; performers should bring 1-2 minutes of material on Sunday. Email for more info.

'I Am My Own Wife' back to Chicago

The Goodman Theatre has announced that they've added this year's Pulitzer Prize winner in drama, I Am My Own Wife, to their 2004-05 season. The play by Doug Wright, about the German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who lived through the Nazi and Communist regimes as a woman, had a pre-New York engagement here last year presented by About Face at the MCA.

Steppenwolf's Letts a Pulitzer finalist

The 2004 Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, revealing that Steppenwolf ensemble member Tracy Letts was a finalist for the drama prize for his play Man From Nebraska, which premiered at Steppenwolf in November. Letts, whose play Bug is enjoying a healthy off-Broadway run, is also an actor who last appeared in Steppenwolf's Homebody/Kabul last year; he'll be back there in September with John Mahoney in The Dresser. Steppenwolf's run of Nebraska was also named one of Time's best of 2003.

Theatrical Props

We, of course, know just how good the local theatre scene is, but it's still nice to see a great profile like this in the national media. In addition to the standard Goodman and Steppenwolf shout-outs, Victory Gardens got some great coverage, too. [Thanks aae.]

Too Much Light makes Brooklyn

The current issue of Venus has a quick story about Chicago's Neo-Futurists theater group starting a run of its flagship show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, at the Brooklyn Lyceum (as previously reported in GB!), and includes the exciting information that the Brooklyn show starts next weekend, on Friday, April 2. You readers in the NYC area can get more information about the east-coast version of TML, make reservations (something you can't do at the Chicago show!), and have a gander at the Neo-Futurists who'll be entertaining you, at the Neo-Futurist Website.

Virtual Benefit for Stage Left

Just in time for spring cleaning! Stage Left Theatre is having a "virtual benefit" during the month of April to raise money for its LeapFest series of new plays. How does that work, you might well ask? Well, you donate stuff that you don't want anymore (in good condition, please) to the theatre, and they sell it on eBay! Bring your collectibles, video games, books, bottles of wine, jewelry, toys, etc. to Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield, by March 31. Questions? Call 773-883-8830.

Seems a little sketchy

Collaboraction's fourth annual Sketchbook opens tonight at the Chopin Theatre. Sketchbook comprises 16 new short plays, performed in a different grouping of 8-10 each night. The theatre will also feature the work of 14 visual artists and 10 sonic artists as part of the sketchbook environment. The show runs 13 consecutive nights; the closing night finale, April 4, will show all 16 plays beginning at 3pm.

Three Rings

"Clowns and Cotton Candy" is a whimsical play about class warfare among the circus people of another time and place. Playwright Tim Nordwind also happens to be the bass player for OK Go. "Clowns" receives its world premiere by Greta Mae Productions, opening at the Theatre Building Friday, March 26. Tickets are at 773-327-5252.

Broadway in Chicago season

Broadway in Chicago, the producing organization that books touring shows for the Shubert, Oriental and Cadillac Palace theatres, has announced a particularly bland 2004-05 season. Aside from the pre-Broadway Monty Python musical Spamalot, which we await with cautious optimism, the season includes a revue of Disney film music, a musical built around Elvis tunes, another Jackie Mason rehash and yet another iteration of Evita, plus the frightening prospect of Sandy Duncan in The King and I. We're also getting a return engagement of the fluffy ABBA musical Mamma Mia, which played here three years ago on its way to New York.

Trenyce Alert!

American Idol non-winner Trenyce stars in Not a Day Goes By, based on the novel by my homeboy E. Lynn Harris, at the Arie Crown Theatre tonight through Sunday. Bonus: the play also stars Jacke "Soooooooondra" Harry! Check out today's Sun-Times story on "the chitlin' circuit".

Titties and Clowns!

What goes best with naughty nude ladies? Circus people! The Midnight Circus has joined Lavender Cabaret's successful neo-burlesque revue, Femme TV. The Sugarbabies will now share the stage with acrobats, jugglers, and even a dog act (get your mind out of the gutter, sicko!) every Friday night at 10:30 at Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway.

Comedy with PowerPoints?

What would Del Close have done with Flash animation? That's something to ask yourself, as Studio Z, "Chicago's first arts organization dedicated to integrating multimedia and Chicago-style improvisation," presents their new show File Not Found, described as "a multimedia improv review featuring digital video, graphics, and audio." What does this mean? We'll find out. It's Friday and Saturday, 8pm, at the Breadline Lab Space (1801 W Byron); $10 suggested donation.

Do you like Spamalot?

Take heart, all you Python addicts: the Tribune reports that "Spamalot," a musical based on the classic comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, will be playing in Chicago at the end of the year. With words and music by Eric Idle, and directed by Mike Nichols (!), the musical will have a pre-Broadway run here in Chicago in December and next January. Spamalot will also have all-new songs and words, so you will not be able to recite the text of the movie along with the actors, alas.

Who wants to write a musical?

The ASCAP Foundation and Disney, in association with the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, are holding a musical theatre workshop, and they're seeking submissions. The workshop, to take place in late April, will be conducted by theatrical composers Stephen Schwartz and Craig Carnelia. Submission deadline is March 19, so get composing!

Throw a chair at your sister-wife in celebration

The British opera based on Chicago's very own "Jerry Springer Show" won some big fancy theater awards this weekend, including Best New Musical.

Annoyance in Uptown

Legendary improv company The Annoyance Theater, which took up temporary residence on Lincoln Ave. in 2000 after being booted from its longtime home across from the Metro, has found a permanent spot. The troupe will soon be moving to 4840 N. Broadway as part of the Uptown Chamber of Commerce's plan to create an entertainment district in the neighborhood, which already includes hotspots such as the Green Mill, the Aragon and the Riviera.


If you want to look like a star on the dancefloor, or if you just want to get the basics down be sure to check out Blue Moon Groove. They offer Chicago's hottest Swing and Lindy Hop classes. Blue Moon Groove has some of the best dancers in town (who also happen to be super nice) teaching an excellent selection of classes ranging from Beginning Swing to Advanced Lindy Hop. They even offer Blues, Balboa and Latin dance classes! Beginning Swing is only $45, and all other classes are $50. All of the classes include 4 weekly 75-minute sessions. Visit their site!

They broke my watch!

If you thought the Blues Brothers were laid to rest for good after the 1998 sequel Blues Brothers 2000, you'd better brace yourself for the Blues Brothers musical. The Blues Brothers Revival opens April 7 at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, and it supposedly tells the story of Jake Blues (John Belushi's character) trying to get into Heaven, with a little help from his (living) friends. No word on whether there's going to be a chase scene on the way to Heaven.


The House Theatre (whose current show, "San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid," runs through March 6) has a special treat on its site: Valentine, a Frank Miller-esque comic book about a superhero with a heart on his chest.

Theatre is big business

The League of Chicago Theatres recently released an economic impact study on live theatre in the Chicago area. Among the League's findings: member theatres had a total economic output of $347 million in 2002, the most recent year in the study; 2.4 million area residents attended at least one live theatre performance in that year; Chicago theatre audiences are 72% caucasian, with a mean age of 47.14; and the city is home to about 1400 professional actors and 500 behind-the-scenes artists.


One of Steppenwolf's most famous members, John Malkovich, will be returning to the Chicago stage in early 2005. Nothing is known about the play that he'll be in, except that it'll be written by London playwright Stephen Jeffreys (whose play "The Libertine" was staged at Steppenwolf in 1996, and featured Malkovich's most recent appearance at the theater company) and will run at Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theatre. Oh, and the play will include marionettes. (Not really.)

Chicago Works

Bailiwick Repertory Theatre opens the second segment of its 16th annual Directors' Festival next week. "Chicago Works" features new works or Midwest premieres by Chicago playwrights. This segment of the fest runs January 26-28 and February 2-4, at 7:30 each night. See Slowdown listings for each night's program and ticket info.

Not your mama's showtunes

Looking for the (potential) next big thing? This Monday, Theatre Building Chicago will host a one-night-only concert reading of Wild Goat, a new musical collaboration between Urinetown composer and Cardiff Giant alum Mark Hollman and Reader theatre critic and playwright Jack Helbig. It's part of TBC's Monday Night Musicals concert series. See Slowdown for ticket info.

Very Sketchy

Chicago Sketchfest, billed as the largest festival of sketch comedy in the country, kicks off this Thursday at the Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont. Performances by more than 60 troupes will be performed over the next two weeks, including something called the Octo-Sketch: The 8 Hour Project -- next Monday, four teams will be given eight hours to develop a half-hour sketch show to be performed that evening. Tickets are $10 per performance or $60 for a festival pass; visit the site for a $2-off coupon.

Storefront theaters endangered?

In the wake of the deadly E2 nightclub trampling, Chicago's Department of Revenue has been cracking down on that most Chicago-y of entertainment venues, the storefront theater. Since Nov. 21, the city has issued cease-and-desist orders to five theaters with insufficient or outdated permits -- TimeLine Theater, Playground Improv Theater, Artistic Home, Profiles, and WNEP. Tribune theater critic Michael Phillips worries about the chilling effect on the city's independent theater scene. [Trib login: gapers/gapers]

A day in the laugh

The Times reviews the Second City's 24-hour improv and music marathon, a fund-raiser to buy Christmas gifts for needy children. Billy Corgan, Jeff Tweedy and Robbie Fulks were among the musicians who came to help the 11 all-night actors.

Onward, Neo-Futurism

Newcity reports that the Neo-Futurists are planning on opening a branch theater in Brooklyn early next year, ostensibly to perform a version of their long-running Chicago show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. The previous NYC incarnation of TML ran for a couple of years, but closed up when the heads of that company hit it big with the Broadway show Urinetown: The Musical. The Neo-Futurists are also considering opening branches in Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Perhaps Neo-Futurism will replace the Harold as the next big theater technique exported from Chicago.

A Gift from About Face

About Face Theatre presents their holiday offering, The Gift and Other Stories, this Friday and Saturday at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The show features About Face artistic director Eric Rosen's retelling of "The Gift of the Magi," a cabaret performance by Alexandra Billings, true-life holiday stories from About Face Youth Theatre, and more. Check Slowdown for full info.

Redmoon Winter Pageant

Redmoon Theatre's annual Winter Pageant opens tonight in their new space at 1463 W. Hubbard. The pageant is a unique work of spectacle theatre, involving art installations and scenic contributions from several community groups; the cast of 60 includes many community members as well, with only 15 professional actors. This year's pageant has a Western theme, following a cowboy named Old Pete as he searches for his missing horse. Tomorrow's benefit performance features a backstage picnic with the artists. For ticket information, call 312-850-8440 x111, or order online.

God Bless Us, Every One

If "Sock-Puppet Showgirls" tickled your tittybone, you might want to check out Harvey Finklestein's latest extravaganza, A Puppet Christmas Carol. Saturdays at 10:30 pm through January 3 at Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark.

Sort through Chicago's dizzying array of independent theater offerings at, sponsored by the League of Chicago Theaters. See all the openings and closings around town (as well as "what's playing tonight"), plus prices, locations, showtimes, and plot synopses. The site also sells Play Money gift certificates good at more than 75 local theaters and half-price tickets for 125 venues.

New productions

A note about couple of interesting theatre performances are going on right now: Are you my negative space? and The Girl in the Flammable Skirt.

Are you my negative space? is a show about comics, war, and love. The live action cartoonists ensemble founded by Northwestern alumni combines performance, onstage drawing, music, and interactive video Athenaeum Theatre, third-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500. Opens Friday, November 21, 8 PM. Through December 13: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 4 PM; no show Thursday, November 27. $15.

Palio Productions is having a cheap (or free) ticket special on Friday night's performance of their new show The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. If you tell them you celebrated Buy Nothing Day (and buy nothing on Friday), they'll let you in for free. Side Studio Theater, 1520 W. Jarvis, 8 pm, reservations at 773.972.0492.

Hip Hop Theatre

A new genre, hip-hop theatre, may be coming our way. Expect the unexpected, as this new form of entertainment is making big waves in the Bay Area. The Hip-Hop Theater Festival, in its fourth summer in New York and second in Washington, D.C., plans to expand its reach throughout the country. The festival will premiere at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in May 2004. After that, it will develop shows and workshops in Chicago and Los Angeles. The University of Hip-Hop in southwest Chicago should take notice and work to bring this new form to Chicago.

Lindy like Mad This Weekend

This weekend is The Fifth Annual Windy City Lindy Exchange. Over four hundred dancers from all over the country will come to juke and jive to the Lindy Hop. These people are so serious about dancing that the Sunday Recovery Brunch includes massage therapists. So put on your Bobbysox and Zoot Suits and come on out! 

Science Fiction Double Feature

The musical stage version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show debuts tonight at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, with none other than Mancow Muller, Q101's morning shock jock, as The Narrator. If that wasn't strange enough, Jerry Springer replaces him on November 20. The show runs through the end of November. It's hinted that other guest stars, local celebrities and surprise guests will pop up during the run.

60 minutes of history.

The Neo-Futurists theater company is starting its 2003-04 season Thursday night at 8:00, with the premiere of the new play A 60-Minute History of Humankind. The show will tackle the entire history of the world, and feature practically everything the Neo-Futurists are known for: straightforward acting, abstract performance pieces, singing and dancing, and a snazzy multifunctional stage set. Plus pennies. Lots and lots of pennies. See the Neo-Futurist Website for details, or call up their hotline: (773) 878-4557.

Rhinocerous Theater Festival

...started September 18th and runs for a bloody long time until October 26th. Which is not a bad thing. Held at various indie type venues across the city, there's quite a bit to see.

Free and Cheap Theater

Free and Cheap Theater is a list of discounts at various theaters in the city -- from student rates to industry nights. The FACT card gets you even better deals.

Breakbone DanceCo

Breakbone DanceCo is a "dance exile" troupe, fighting gravity "as if it didn't exist." They're performing Logotype vs2.1 tonight through Saturday, 8pm, at Ideotech, 2000 W. Fulton. Tickets are $12 at the door. More info here.

Something Funny in Bronzeville

A new Second City theater in Bronzeville got a step closer to reality, as the City Council approved plans for the 7,000-square-foot complex in the "47th Street Jazz and Blues District." The plan calls for a performance space and several classrooms.

Murder in Lincoln Park

Brad Nelson Winters, the artistic director of Terrapin Theatre Company, was found dead in his apartment on Tuesday. He had been strangled and stabbed several times, police say. [Trib login: gapers/gapers]

Free "Jokes"

The Neo-Futurists are taking their 2001 smash-hit extravaganza "Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious" to the New York International Fringe Festival this weekend. But before they go, they're giving one last performance before a Chicago audience, and it's FREE FREE FREE! Thursday, August 14 (that's tomorrow!), 8 PM, at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. See it, or see it again. Because it's great, and it's FREE!

Fillet of Solo

Live Bait Theater's eighth annual "Fillet of Solo" features one-person performances showcasing both new and old work by several playwrights. The festival runs August 1 through the 30 at the theater located at 3914 N. Clark in Chicago. Tickets are $10 or you can purchase a festival pass for only $30. Call 773.871.1212 for reservations or online.

Vaudeville Returns to Chicago

A recent article profiled the resurrgence of vaudeville theatre in the Chicago area. The Daily Herald featured a detailed profile of the Vaudeville Underground troupe. It also mentions Chicago Burlesque and Vaudeville and includes a brief history of the Chicago vaudeville scene. However, for an excellent visual tour through vaudeville history, check out the online exhibition of American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920 from the Library of Congress website.

Gurlesque Burlesque

Sissy Butch Brothers Productions welcome you to another fabulous Gurlesque Burlesque performance on July 19th at the Abbey Pub. This show features marquee performers the World Famous Bob and Lady Ace. Proceeds support a documentary on burlesque.

Partly Dave Show

"What is patriotism?" Dave Awl of Neo-Futurist fame asks. Hopefully Partly Dave can help you answer it. And if one funny guy isn't enough to get you out to a political show, then maybe Schadenfreude can convince your cheap ass to head to the No Exit Cafe in Roger's Park.

Chicago Directors' Festival

The final installment of Bailiwick Repertory Theatre's annual showcase of emerging directors opened last night. This last segment focuses on "GLBT Briefs," gay- and lesbian-themed one-act pieces. Shows run Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings at 7:30; each of the four weeks features a new lineup. (Full self-promotion disclosure: I'm in one of the third week's pieces.) Tickets are ten dollars a night or $25 for a festival pass; the Reader has a full schedule.

Ana Castillo Premiere

Chicagoan Ana Castillo's play "Psst ... I Have Something to Tell You, Mi Amor" will have its world premiere on Tuesday, July 15 at the Goodman Theatre. The play, which is based on the true story of Sister Diana Ortiz who was kidnapped and tortured by Guatemalan authorities, will run through July 20. [Trib login: gapers/gapers]

Poseidon! Benefit

Last winter's hit show at the Theatre Building and Bailiwick, Poseidon! An Upside-Down Musical, has been invited to the New York International Fringe Festival in August. To help pay for the trip the show's producers, Hell in a Handbag Productions, are holding a "New Year's in July" benefit Sunday, July 27th. The program includes a reception and silent auction at the High Risk Gallery, followed by a presentation of "Poseidon! Moments" at the Bailiwick. Visit Hell in a Handbag or call 312-409-4357 for tickets.

*Sexy* Dance Performance

In case you aren't going to the Apple Store opening on Friday, you can always watch some folks dance. In a rare Chicago appearance, the Tom and Susana Evert Dance Theater will perform at the Adidam Chicago Center (located at 3301 W Fullerton) on Friday, June 27th at 8:00 p.m. According to the New York Times, "There is a natural and serene feeling to the flow, and the pieces seem to belong to some larger, organic whole...the duets... breathe quiet ecstasy and eroticism." So there. Doors open at 7:30 and the cost is $20.

South Side Institution Ends

After almost 50 years on the Southwest Side, the Drury Lane Theatre, also known as the Martinique, is closing to make room for yet another Wal-Mart. No more Nutcracker performances, weddings, and theatre events - just to name a few - after January. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Latino Theater Festival

The Goodman Theatre is hosting the Latino Theatre Festival this year. There are six different productions being performed and most of them are showing more than once. If you're interested in going to "El Autmovl Gris" (The Grey Automobile) playing July 11-13), or "Se Dicen Tantos Cosas" (So Many Things Are Said) playing July 17-20, and you're interested in saving a couple of bucks then call their ticket office (312-443-3800) and mention the "secret" password eCAPA and you'll save $2 on each ticket.
To sign up for discount email offers, visit their patron website.

Chicago's Tony winners

Chicago Tony Awards roundup from last night: The Billy Joel musical Movin' Out, which was received poorly in its debut here, took home Best Choreography and Best Orchestration. Hometown boy Brian Dennehy won his second Best Actor in a Play Tony for the Goodman Theatre's Long Day's Journey Into Night, which also won Best Revival of a Play, although it didn't win Best Director for the Goodman's Bob Falls. (Vanessa Redgrave, who replaced Pamela Payton-Wright from the Goodman production, also won Best Actress.) And finally, Michele Pawk took Best Featured Actress in a Play for the Carol Burnett-authored Hollywood Arms, which also premiered at the Goodman.

The return of the Pansy Kings.

This week's hot theatre ticket is hot pink: as part of the GLBT Pride celebrations this month, author and performer Dave Awl is reforming the Pansy Kings, a group of Chicago's swishiest performing folk, for a one-night-only extravaganza at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, Wednesday night at 8PM. Expect moments of "campy fabulousness," as the Chicago Reader puts it. Also expect a standing-room-only show; the Pansy Kings quit at the top of their game in 1997, when they were able to draw a crowd large enough to fill the Park West.

Chicago Comedy Association

Twenty of Chicago's comedy theatres have banded together to form the Chicago Comedy Association, according to PerformInk. The membership includes all the biggies: Second City, ImprovOlympic, ComedySportz, Noble Fool, and Free Associates, among others. "The association was created to foster awareness of Chicago's legendary comedy scene and promote Chicago comedy both locally, and nationally," reports PI's Christina Biggs. That awareness-fostering apparently doesn't include a website. Inquiring minds are directed to call 312-644-4032, which goes to the administrative office of Second City.

Katherine Dunham to Speak

Katherine Dunham is one of the greatest dancers and choreographers of this century, one of the greatest african-american artists in our history and, along with Ruth Page, one of the founders of dance in this city. This Friday the native Chicagoan will be making a rare public speech at a conference honoring her work and her legacy. A rare opportunity to hear one of Chicago's greatest daughters speak about her life and work.

Late Nite Catechism

One of the creators of Late Nite Catechsim, Maripat Donovan, just happens to be a Loyola Alumni and is going to be performing her famous ister act at Mullady Theater, in the Centennial Forum Student Union, on the Loyola Lake Shore Campus this Saturday, June 7th, at 8 pm. The $20 cost is well worth it to see a sister in all her ruler-breaking, Hail Mary! glory. It's a great show if you're Catholic (or recovering) and great if you're a heathen, too.

"Aqui Estoy: I Am Here"

The Albany Park Theater Project will be presenting "Aqui Estoy: I Am Here" on Friday, May 30th at 8:00 p.m. This performance, for children ages 10 and over, is presented by a multi-ethnic teenaged ensemble. Stories of life in the neighborhood and immigration are the focus. The performance will take place at Eugene Field Park, 5100 N. Ridgeway Ave. For more information, visit the Chicago Park District's website.

Time honors Goodman

This week's Time magazine named the Goodman as the country's number-one regional theatre.

Sailing from the Moon

Sailing from the Moon, a new play by Nick Jones, premiers this weekend at the Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western Ave. I'm sure it'll be a great production, and not just because the playwright is a cousin of mine.

May 24 - June 22

Thurs / Fri / Sat @ 8:00 p.m.
Sun @ 6:00 p.m.

Tickets $15 ($10 w/ student ID)


"Sailing from the Moon is the comic love story of a young man and woman who struggle with what they want out of love and life. George, a young man armed with a degree in philosophy and now working a supermarket cash register, idealizes women to an angelic level whereas Jamie, punk rocker, hypersexualizes her romantic feelings. The plot is a modern Drawing Room comedy complete with intrigue, entrapment and sword fighting."

Art is Everywhere, even Starbucks

Want some drama with your Frappucino this Friday? "On May 23, 2003, at exactly 5:15 p.m., in ten Chicago Starbucks, professional actors will simultaneously perform original monologues written by Chicago Public High School students in Chicago Dramatists' Outreach Program." The press release story in Backstage says to go to for more info, but they don't have any.

New plays in Chicago

Chicago's theatre scene gets a glowing review in a NYT look at a rash of world premieres happening here. Fifteen new works by twelve companies are mentioned in the Times story.

Spring Awakening at Strawdog

Imagine the movie "Heathers" with a screen play by Franz Kafka and sets and costumes by Egon Schiele and you've got Strawdog Theater's latest production, Spring Awakening. This fin-de-siecle coming of age show was so controversial when it was written in 1891 that it wasn't performed until 1915. Strawdog's season this year has been littered with Jeff nominations and reccomendations, and this production of the un-censored script should prove to be no exception.

HealthWorks benefit

"The World Goes 'Round" is a one-night-only cabaret performance of the music of Kander & Ebb (you may have heard of them; they wrote a little show called Chicago). The May 19 show benefits HealthWorks Theatre, and features some of Chicago's best-known cabaret performers, including Alexandra Billings, Nan Mason, Tom Michael, Michael McAssey, Suzanne Palmer, Stephen Rader, and Honey West. HealthWorks is a 15-year-old company that creates educational theatre for young audiences. For tickets or more info, call 773-929-4260 or go to HealthWorks' site.

The Frogs by Sondheim

Mark your calendars now: According to Playbill, The Pegasus Players theatre troupe will be staging a revival of Stephen Sondheim and Burt Shevelove's quirky musical The Frogs next year. Based on a play by Greek playwright Aristophanes, Sondheim's original concept was for the performance to take place in a pool; Pegasus Players will do just that at Truman College in Uptown April 8-May 25, 2004.
The troupe's current play, The One-Eyed Man is King, opens tomorrow, May 13, at Truman's O'Rourke Performing Arts Center. Box office: 773/878-9761.

Conversation about Race

Race, an adapted production of Studs Terkel's Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession directed by and performed by David Schwimmer (you know, of Friends fame) and his theater company, Looking Glass begins June 5th at the Water Tower Water Works. More info. And yes, hat tip from watching CLTV.


Chcago's own Gift Theater Company presents Six Characters in Search of an Author, by Luigi Pirandello. Performances begin May 1 and run thru June 15, 2003 at The Raven Studio theater [6157 North Clark Street].

Gawker stalks Chicago

Hmmm, Gawker stalker is now stalking Chicago? "I saw Josh Hamilton at the 10:00 Saturday night performance of Wigfield (starring Strangers With Candy's Amy Sedaris, Steven Colbert and Paul Dinello) in Chicago. He was very cute, despite having two very dark front teeth." Hamilton, of course, is starring in Richard Greenberg's play The Violet Hour at Steppenwolf.

Wigfield, the Performance

Wigfield, the performance-piece-slash-book-tour by Strangers With Candy and Second City alumnae Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, and Paul Dinello, kicks off its tour in Chicago this weekend. All four shows at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts are sold out, so start praying to the scalping gods now. If you miss it, you can always catch the Roadworks production of The Book of Liz, written by Amy and her brother David Sedaris. It opens next week at the Chopin.

The New York Times mentioned

The New York Times mentioned in passing on Friday that Gary Griffin is attached to direct a musical adaptation of The Color Purple for a planned 2005 Broadway opening. Griffin is associate artistic director at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (not artistic director, as the Times reports). The show's book will be written by playwright Regina Taylor, artistic associate at the Goodman. This will be Griffin's first Broadway show, though not his New York debut; his Famous Door production of Beautiful Thing transferred off-Broadway in 1999, and last month he staged The New Moon for the City Center Encores! series. His production of Sondheim's Pacific Overtures, which first played at Chicago Shakes in 2001, will open at London's Donmar Warehouse in June.



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