Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

Another Shameless Act of Self-Promotion

Hey, everybody! Do you like pirates? (Is there anybody who DOESN’T like pirates?) How about revenge, blood, and general mayhem and murderousness?

You DO?!? Then you should come see my show! There’s swordfighting, and swashbucking, and more swordfighting! And me, being British. Again. I KNOW!

Backstage Theatre‘s Bloody Bess: A Tale of Piracy and Revenge opens next Friday, June 13th, at 7:30 at Gallery 37, 66 E. Randolph Street. Here are the complete details:

Bloody Bess: A Tale of Piracy and Revenge
conceived by Stuart Gordon
written by William J. Norris and John Ostrander
Directed by Geoff Coates

June 13-July 20, 2008
in association with DCA Theatre
The Storefront Theatre @ Gallery 37
66 East Randolph Street-Chicago

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays @ 7:30pm
Sundays @ 3pm

To reserve tickets please call 312-742-TIXS (8497)
Or visit www.dcatheater.org

Tickets are $15-20.

Help me get on Comedy Central!!!

Don’t Spit the Water is going to Hollywood, CA to audition for Comedy Central. That’s right! We are an amused programmer away from being on basic cable which is my glib nonchalant way of hiding the excitement of possibly doing comedy for a living.

However, traveling to LA is expensive. And we don’t make any money doing the show in Chicago, and we don’t make gobs of money working for a (from left to right in the picture) homeless shelter, Chicago public radio, and the Chicago public school system. In case you were wondering, I’m the guy in the lucha libre mask sans shirt.

That means we need your help to make this trip less expensive for us. All you have to do is join us for drinking, eating, and karaoke at Trader Todd’s this Thursday 8pm-10pm for Blewt! Sings! Your $40 will help send us on our way to stardom and on your way to all you can drink and eat and sing. The crazy characters from Don’t Spit the Water (recently featured on WGN morning news) will be there performing special songs just for the night.

If you can’t make it out on Thursday, then go our website anyway and donate what you can to help us out. Help Chicago’s favorite live comedy game show become America’s favorite live comedy game show!

Huzzah! (For Now)

According to Sun-Times columnist Jim DeRogatis’ blog, the “Event Promoters ordinance” has been tabled, at least temporarily. Alderman Eugene Schulter, Chairman of the City Council License Committee, decided not to present the ordinance to the full council after meeting with members of the Chicago Music Commission and local promoters and venue owners. According to Mr. DeRogatis’ blog the ordinance will return to committee for at least another month, during which time the committee will hear more input from the public.

I note that it is the local music community that has taken the reigns here, and I applaud them for it. I would like to remind the theatre and stand-up scenes that they have a stake here as well, and they need to make sure their representatives have a place at the table while this ordinance is reworked.

Well done, everybody who voiced their concerns.

City Council Votes on Event Promoters Ordinance Tomorrow!

The Event Promoters ordinance will go before the city council at 10:00 AM, Wednesday, May 14th. I received an e-mail about a campaign to flood city hall with opponents of this ordinance. The campaign is being organized through The Point, and the goal is for 100 people to commit to attending the council meeting tomorrow. Save Chicago Culture will present a petition opposing the ordinance at the meeting.

Because the proposal was fast-tracked through committee, the Chicago arts community has had very little time to respond. I, for one, will be attending the council meeting tomorrow. If you care about preserving Chicago’s theatre, music and comedy I expect to see you there too. If you can’t make it, please e-mail your alderman today and express your opinion.

Otherwise, I suppose you could just pay a hundred bucks a pop and go see Wicked again.

The Event Promoters’ Ordinance

Well, this is appalling.

This Wednesday the city council votes on the so-called “Event Promoters’ ordinance.” If this thing passes it could mean that any artist wishing to produce or promote his own work would have to pay up to $2,000 for a license. He or she would have to be over the age of 21, must get fingerprinted, submit to a background check, and inform the police seven days in advance of an event. This ordinance is aimed directly at small venues and new artists who have yet to develop an audience. Larger spaces that seat over 500 — in other words, places that can actually afford the license — are exempt.

The weblog Save Chicago Culture is collecting signatures in opposition to the ordinance. On their site you can find a .pdf of the complete text of the ordinance, as well as links to the city council site, and your local alderman. The Sun-Times’ Jim DeRogatis has an in-depth analysis on his blog.

The problem is, blogs are the only place this thing has gotten any attention. So, if you don’t want to lose the Double Door, Schuba’s, Martyrs’, the Vic, the Riv or the Metro, get a message to your alderman at once.

A New Holiday, Just ‘Cause

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Yesterday turned out to be Incredibly Awesome Thursday, and I’m determined to make it a weekly occurrence. Essentially, Incredibly Awesome Thursday (IAT) involves saying “yes” to something that you normally wouldn’t, perhaps because it sounds boring, it’s too far away and you’re lazy, whatever. My “yes” last night was to a dance performance at the Chicago Cultural Center featuring Matthew Hollis’ and the Power of Cheer. My mom, a former high school cheerleader extraordinaire, was quite keen on going, so I somewhat reluctantly agreed to tag along…and it ended up being awesome. Incredibly awesome, in fact.

Matthew Hollis, an amazing choreographer, dancer, and performance artist, presented a taste of the work he’s developing with a grant from the Chicago Dancemaker’s Forum, a unique blend of cheerleading, modern dance, theater, activism and a little bit of therapy. Hollis and his troupe of equally talented dancers (did I mention they’re all in short shorts?) act out stories from Hollis’ life, including a particularly impressive number performed on teetering stilettos. The cheer that I can’t get out of my head? “Guns are bad, guns are gross, you might as well eat poo on toast!” Well put.

Before the performance, we popped into the Gallery 37 Store, which was chock full of fantastic artwork by Project Onward artists, from colorful silk screened tees and bags to vibrant pastel drawings. Project Onward is an organization designed “to support the creative development of visual artists with developmental, cognitive, and mental disabilities.” Rock on.

We also had a chance to investigate the Puppet Bike, which, unfortunately, was out of commission by the time we arrived, but even the outside of this happy little cart covered in whimsical paintings of frolicking bunnies and kitties was entertaining. According to the Puppet Bike website, the stage on wheels was created by Mr. Trusty for a bipolar friend who couldn’t hold down a conventional 9-5, but the portable theater offered the perfect solution–work when you want, park it when you get bored. I’ll definitely be heading down to Millennium Park this summer so I can see the Puppet Bike in action. (Metblog’s Fuzzy Gerdes beat me to the Puppet Bike punch in his February post, but I just had to ramble on about it again.)

So that, my friends, is what Incredibly Awesome Thursday is all about. Next week–who’s with me?

Campaign Supernova!, or How Many Democrats Does It Take to Lose an Election

Last night I saw a preview for the new Second City e.t.c. show, Campaign Supernova!, or How Many Democrats Does It Take to Lose an Election. It was Friends and Family night, ’cause that’s how I roll. (Actually, my wife works there.) I have a number of friends who are involved with Second City in some capacity, so I find myself seeing shows there on a semi-regular basis. Last night I saw probably the best SC show I have ever seen.

In the late ’60s my dad went to high school on the South Side and he used to go to Second City shows all the time. He told me once that he regretted never auditioning or taking classes there himself. When he comes into town nowadays we try to get over there and see whatever’s going on. He still loves it, but he has often wondered what happened to their “edge.” I wasn’t sure what he meant. I mean, all of their shows are topical, address current politics, whatever.

Then came last night, and suddenly I think I know what my dad has been talking about.

The lights came up, they grabbed the crowd by the balls and did not let go. It was relentless. I hurt myself laughing. But even better, there were moments when this cast dared not to be funny. One scene involved the female cast members jumping back and forth between a trio of Lincoln Park trixies at a gym and three Middle-Eastern women torn by war and oppression. The overall effect made the whole wide-eyed audience sit up and say, “Yikes.” But in a really, really good way.

The theme of the evening focused on normal Americans’ desire to do good in the world, and how that desire is tempered by the temptations and necessities of living in modern America. A stand-out scene centered on a couple on their wedding day, their relationship strained by the effort of making everything socially conscious, while secretly they yearn for overpriced-yet-useless knickknacks from Crate and Barrel.

The cast worked together with a precision rarely seen in sketch comedy. The musical moments and choreography were sharply executed, and every performer had stand-out moments. The closing moments in particular held moments of poignancy and hilarity combined.

Also, there are paper mache puppets. You know you don’t want to miss that.

Campaign Supernova!, or How Many Democrats Does It Take to Lose an Election officially opens Thursday, May 8. (Yes, I copy-and-pasted the title just then. I’m not typing that beast twice.)

Best (comedy) week ever!

The DC Comedy Fest is in town checking out Chicago’s talent which gives us two great FREE shows.

Tuesday, go see the free show over at the Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont) as The Chicago Underground Comedy folks present Chicago’s best stand-ups. The action starts at 9:30, but get there earlier to make sure you have a seat to check out: Nick Vatterott, Adam Burke, Brendan McGowan, Dan Telfer, Carrie Callahan, Brady Novak, Fay Canale, Steve O. Harvey, and Chad Briggs.

Wednesday, The Playground Theater (3209 N. Halsted) is hosting the sketch portion of the DC Comedy Fest auditions. This one is also FREE (what a beautiful word) and starts at 7pm. The amazing acts performing will be: The Puterbaugh Sisters, Seeder & Lee, Turbo, Hey You Millionaires, Ken Barnard, and Money Kids.

Thursday, local stand-up favorite Prescott Tolk will perform at The Lakeshore Theater (3175 N. Broadway) at 8pm. Tickets are $10, but if you missed him on Comedy Central then fork over the dough. He’ll be recording his live comedy album I Can Complain. Your laughs could be famous.

Friday (and Thursday too), Chicago’s best stand-up prankster Ken Barnard will be doing his “three-in-one man” show titled Get Into It. This will take place at The Lincoln Lodge (4009 N. Lincoln) at 9pm. As someone who is constantly entertained by Ken’s shenanigans (such as protesting the filling of the Montrose hole), I will gladly pay the $10 to see what he’ll do next.

Finally, on Saturday, sketch group Schadenfreude will be hosting one of their famous rent parties. These are always a blast of the best sketch, stand-up, music, and what ever else happens on the stage. This will be at Silvie’s Lounge (1902 W. Irving Park Rd) and feature Annoyance comedy goddess Susan Messing and music from Lola Balatro. Fun starts at 9pm and is another measly $10 for hours of raucous goodness.

Greek mythology on crack. In a good way.

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Journey’s End – A Shameless Plug

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The Griffin Theatre Company’s production of RC Sherriff’s Journey’s End, directed by Jonathan Berry, opens this Sunday at 6:00 at the Theatre Building at 1225 West Belmont. Tickets are $19 – $24. The show runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:45 and Sundays at 2:45 through March 9th.

And I’m in it! You know you don’t want to miss that!

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