Review: "A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Queer Tale"

Shakespeare, Never So Gay and Never So Fun!

By Venus Zarris

This midsummer seems to be chocked full of options for fans of the Bard. There are two productions currently running of Much Ado About Nothing, one under the starlight and trees of the First Folio Shakespeare Festival at the beautiful Mayslake Peabody Estate Forest Preserve in Oak Brook and the other at the Oak Park Festival Theatre. There is also Funk It Up About Nothin’ (weblink here), a world premiere “ad-rap-tation” of Much Ado About Nothing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. (It can’t be Nothing if there are three productions going on at once. I call that Much Ado!)

On July 26th Bohemian Theatre Ensemble opens The Merchant of Venice at BoHo Theatre @ Heartland Studio and on the 27th The Mill Theatre opens Paula Vogel’s Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief, a reimagining of Othello, at Stage Left Theatre.

midsummer nights dream - a queer tale But if you are looking to satisfy your iambic pentameter cravings with a delightfully decadent deviation, MidTangent Productions A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Queer Tale is the show for you! Director/Adaptor Tony Lewis takes Shakespeare’s romantic comedy of young lovers and mischievous fairies and infuses it with a red light cabaret complete with some of the best dance numbers you’ll see in any musical. Filled with writhing bodies engaged in undulating erotic naughtiness, this spin on the Bard’s classic will make you wish that all of the Shakespeare library could be retold with as much homoerotic delight.

In the struggle to gain mainstream acceptance, the gay community has taken to homogenized representations. Many of us are settling down, pairing off in committed relationships, buying homes and/or having or adopting children. On the surface it might even be construed that being straight is so great, we are attempting to imitate or emulate. But Queer Tale stands as not only a wonderful adaptation of Shakespeare, it also stands as an unapologetically sexual solute to the daring divergence and darling debauchery at the roots of gay liberation and expression.

With forbidden lesbian and gay relationships, a Drag Queen Titania lip-syncing to Cher and Madonna and an outrageously erotic dance party fueled by euphoric intoxicants, this show celebrates the ‘old school’ joie de vivre of the community while, at the same time, illustrating the ongoing struggles for acceptance and equality. With a charming cast, fantastic soundtrack and the most playful choreography in town, this will reinvent your notions of Shakespeare in love to include sophisticated and stylized same sex subversion.

“How now faggots?” Asks Puck. “We are but tricks and treats!” Answers the Fairyz of the Hood. From the brilliant dance opening to the bittersweet end, MidTangent’s ‘Queer Tale’ is filled with tricks and treats and then some!

The outstanding direction, conceptual ingenuity and adorably enthusiastic cast shine through to make this a production that transcends sexual orientation or identification. You can’t help but be enchanted by this midsummer dream.

“Some are born gay. Some achieve gayness. And some have gayness thrust upon them.”

Regardless of your sexual proclivity, Queer Tale makes for amazingly entertaining Shakespeare and ambitiously excellent theater!

Rating: «««½

(“A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Queer Tale ” runs through August 3 at National Pastime Theater, 4139 North Broadway (map). 800-595-4849)

Cirque du Soleil’s "Kooza" – 40% off tickets!


Great news – Cirque du Soleil is offing 40% off tickets of their newest production – Kooza

40% off “Kooza” tickets!!

Special offer for all you Cirqu du Soleil fans!


kooza Cirque du Soleil presents its newest touring show, KOOZA. The story of an innocent who enters a world full of kings, thieves, and other archetypal characters, KOOZA is a return to Cirque du Soleil‘s roots: a combination of classic circus acrobatics and broad slapstick clowning.  “Kooza” runs through August 24th at the United Center.  For more info, click here.

Chicago Trib: Revise the Smoking Ban!

Looks like the Chicago Tribune agrees with me – that the smoking ban that effectively squelched the smoking scenes in Jersey Boys should be revised so that smoking ban exemptions can be made for dramatic performances.  Alderman Brendan Reilly, whose district includes Chicago’s theatre district, has introduced just such a measure that would require theater companies to apply for a smoking ban waiver from the city’s health department.

Money quote:

Chicago’s smoking ban is a sound public health policy, and no request to sidestep it should be taken lightly.  But it’s silly to handcuff artistic expression for such a miniscule health risk.  It’s an awful lot of huffing about a negligible amount of puffing.

Hopefully both the city council and the state legislature will follow the Trib’s advice and enact smoking exemptions for dramatic performances.

Entire editorial here.

Mental Health Break: Florence Henderson shows kinky side!

Ran across this video the other day, and thought I’d share it with my readers.  Who knew Mrs. Brady was so nasty…

"Jersey Boys" – no smoking allowed!

It’s official – all smoking scenes in Chicago’s long-running Broadway hit, Jersey Boys, have been snuffed out.  Chicago’s smoking ban does not offer exemptions for indoor performances, and – unlike many American cities – also does not allow for any type of substitutions, such as clove cigarettes (which is a common practice in many theatres around the country). 

A theatrical telling of the rise of Frankie Valli and his singing group, it is natural that the characters would smoke in certain scenes, just as they did in real life.  Unfortunately a theatre patron lodged a complaint with the city, so the smoking scenes had to be rewritten and restaged.  (some people just need to have something to complain about, you know?)

The New York and London version of Jersey Boys cast will continue with the smoking scenes, as these cities have indoor smoking bans that offer exemptions for theatrical performances

"Jersey Boys", now playing at the Bank of America Theatre in downtown Chicago .

Sunday Sondheim – Betty Buckley and Harlem Boys Choir

This is an absolutely beautiful arrangement of Sondheim’s “Our Time” and “Children Will Listen” from Merrily We Roll Along and Into The Woods respectively.  Enjoy

Chicago-to-NYC theatre happenings

Critically-acclaimed The Strangerer (our review), produced by Theatre Oobleck and Scott Morfee, will be pulling up stakes and moving to New York’s Barrow Street Theatre, opening there on July 13th.

The minimalistic new musical The Adding Machine, produced by Next Theatre and Scott Morfee, will be ending their long run at New York’s Minetta Lane Theatre, accumulating a run of 16 previews and 149 regular performances.