“Wicked” is coming back for the holidays!

defyinggravity

‘Wicked’ returning for holidays – but at Cadillac Palace

When it comes to the highly-successful musical Wicked, the Emerald City wasn’t the only thing green about the show – the 2.9 million audience members over its 3.5 year run at the Oriental Theatre also brought in a whole lot of green, as in cold, hard cash.

So it makes total sense that the show’s producers are visiting Chicago again, this time for a 2-month run over the holidays (from December 1 – January 23, Cadillac Palace Theatre).

Read all of the details at Chris Jones blog, Theater Loop.

Welcome back Elpheba!

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REVIEW: The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged)

Great promise hobbled by vapid script

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NightBlue Performing Arts Company presents:

The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged)

 

By the Reduced Shakespeare Company
Thru February 14th at Theatre Building Chicago (more info)

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

The myriad of shows penned by the Reduced Shakespeare Company (YouTube page) are a necessary by-product of theatre, something that someone would have thought of at some point or another. They provide a live-action, slightly-improvised, highly-goofy take on some of the cornerstones of Western civilization: Shakespeare, American History, the Holy Bible, Christmas. These ‘abridged’ versions are like a community college course taught by a Marx brother. Each show is crammed with highly-topical gags and audience participation. They are also highly relatable, since it’s a pretty safe bet that most Americans have a passing familiarity with Shakespeare or other highlights of literature (making the shows a decently lucrative bet for the producing companies). To be blunt, and at the risk of being called elitist, the series is theatre for those who don’t see much theatre. That’s not to say they can’t be enjoyable, as seen by NightBlue’s production of The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged). The three-person cast has enormous energy and pounces on the jokes, but the show is hobbled by the vapidity of the RSC concept and writing.

NBshks4web The cast is incredibly earnest; it is obvious that they are having a great time and want you to have one, too. There is the blasé Mark Stickney, swilling a 40 while critiquing some of the best writing of all time. Then there is the tall Jamin Gahm, set on pushing his Method psychological techniques onto these 400 year old plays. The trio is rounded out by the rambunctious Jennifer Reeves Wilson, who throws her playful energy deep into the audience.

In a 2-hour marathon, we’re taken through a winding journey of all of the Bard’s plays. The show shouldn’t serve as a source for your high school English paper, though. Heavy artistic liberties are taken, but that’s sort of the point. Othello becomes a rap (this is the first show I’ve seen with an official “rap coach”), Titus Andronicus becomes a cooking show, and most of the histories are tossed into a royal, yet deadly, football game. Everything but Hamlet comprises Act I, while “the greatest play of all time” earns a close inspection for the whole of Act II. This includes a performance of the play backwards as well as a version clocking in under 20 seconds.

It is the parodies and goofy updates that work the best; the hip-hop rendition of Othello, when the all-white cast showcases their rhyming and beat-boxing abilities, is the high point of the show. My biggest critique of the show is that there is actually too much of Shakespeare’s original language. Besides the occasional ‘but soft’ and simply pointing out how hard it is to understand, it’s difficult to make his language really that funny. Whenever the show turns to performing the original texts is when the show teeters on becoming uninteresting. It is much funnier to see Gahm in drag running through the aisles and gagging because he believes vomiting on the audience is what defines the Shakespearean heroines.

There are also quite a few jokes that are either overplayed or not worth the effort, like an extensive mash-up of all the comedies/cast striptease. It’s funny for a little while, but once they’ve made the point that all the comedies are kind of the same, they run low on comic fuel. The ultra-current humor can be somewhat spotty, ranging from hilarious (spoofing the fact that this show is replacing NightBlue’s postponed production of A Chorus Line) to confusing (drawing a connection between Avatar and depression?). Even though these talented actors obviously have a gift for vaudevillian screwball comedy, overcoming the drabness of the script is a difficult feat for them and the audience.

 

Rating: ★★

 

 

Theater Thursday: I Am Camera (The Neo-Futurists)

 

Thursday, February 4

I Am Camera 

directed and devised by Greg Allen 
The Neo-Futurists, 5153 N. Ashland, Chicago

iamacameraCome see Neo-Futurist Founder Greg Allen‘s new show I Am Camera. After the performance mingle with the cast and crew during which you will be supplied with plentiful amounts of beer from local brewer Metropolitan Brewing while simultaneously being fed different style pizzas from Apart Pizza.

 

Show begins at 8 p.m.

Event begins immediately following the performance (around 9:30 p.m.)

TICKETS ONLY $20 

For reservations call 773.275.5255 and mention “Theater Thursdays,” or order online at www.neofuturists.org.