Review: Twinkie and the Beast (MidTangent Productions)

  
  

Beastly, bawdy fun!

  
  

The cast of MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Hydrate Night Club in Chicago

  
MidTangent Productions present
 
Twinkie and the Beast
  
Written and Directed by Tony Lewis
at
Hydrate Nightclub, 3458 N. Halsted (map)
through April 30  |  tickets: $10  |  more info

Reviewed by K.D. Hopkins

I always have a good time in Boystown whether it’s shopping at some of the more interesting stores (hellooo Tulip!) or sipping a citron and cranberry at Hydrate. I had the great pleasure and bonus of seeing the MidTangent production of Twinkie and the Beast to go with my libation.

This show is a brilliant send up of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story. It was refreshing and quite hysterical to see it done so irreverently with the denizens of Boystown.

Loren Agron as Swell and Omicah House as The Beast in MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Hydrate Night Club in ChicagoThis is the story of a hot little twink named Swell who is looking for love and won’t give up the goodies until he finds it. Loren Agron plays Swell with delightful aplomb. Swell is pursued by the cocksure swain Piston played by Aaron Michael Adamkiewicz. Piston is a great caricature of the villain Gaston in the original fairy tale. Adamkiewicz struts about the stage in various rough trade attire as a porn star who always gets his man. I loved the obviously stuffed jeans which reminded me of Led Zeppelin back in the day. Piston later emerges in homage to Larry Blackmon of Cameo in leather  pants and a codpiece – hysterically sexy!

Swell runs to his Fairy Godmother, played by drag star Madame X, to avail of her advice on the pressure to give in to Piston or wait for true love. This scene is truly about the beauty and artistry of drag. Madame X is a surreal vision in Fellini pink and kabuki mannered gestures.

The story gets more surreal when Swell enters the Beast’s manor and trades his life to save Fairy Godmother from the dungeon. We meet all of the enchanted characters who used to be regular Boystown folks.

Wiggins used to be the Beast’s fag hag before he was cursed to wear the leather mask and seriously big wig. Wiggins was rewarded for her loyalty by being turned into a big pile of wigs. Erin Daly has a phenomenal voice and exquisite sense of timing as Wiggins. The other characters are from a drag queen’s cosmetic case as well. There is Karla Meyer as Lipour, the living lipstick attired in a stock French maid outfit.

Michael Elm plays the role of Pouf, a powder puff who channels Ernie Kovacs as Percy Dovetonsils. Elm is hilarious with his droll and imperious delivery. And then there is Doobie – yes a giant human joint who can roll one off of himself. Poor Doobie just came to deliver a pizza and voila, he is what he smokes. Andrew Kain Miller embodies the skateboarding slacker in the Dunkin Doughnuts parking lot but with a much better physique.

     
Omicah House as The Beast in MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Hydrate Night Club. A scene from MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Chicago's Hydrate Night Club in Boystown.
A scene from MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Chicago's Hydrate Night Club in Boystown. A scene from MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Chicago's Hydrate Night Club in Boystown.

The Beast is played by Omicah House. He wears sky high acrylic platform knee high boots and a nice series of corsets. Mr. House delivers every line with booming ferocity which actually gets to be a bit much when the Beast is supposed to be softening and falling for Swell.

Twinkie and the Beast has fantastic choreography. Every cast member is synchronized and on beat. It was like watching a queer Soul Train-awesome. Not everyone is a great singer in this cast and the music is literally carried by Erin Daly, who is a powerhouse singer. I suspect that she leads her own band or she should anyway.

Although there were sound glitches and several painful feedback moments (that the cast played through in a professional manner), Twinkie and the Beast is still a fun and naughty night on the town. Get a drink from the really cute bartender and settle in for a raucous evening of laughs, one liners, and visual delight!

  
  
Rating: ★★★
  
  

A scene from MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Chicago's Hydrate Night Club in Boystown.

The MidTangent production of Twinkie and the Beast runs through April 30th at Hydrate Night Club, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 9:00pm. Hydrate is located at 3458 N. Halsted (map). Tickets are $10, and can be purchased online or by phone (773-835-0420). More information on their Facebook page. Get there early and take a walk through the neighborhood. It’s beastly fun!

     
     

Review: The Alchemist (Nothing Special Productions)

     
     

17th-century farce delivers rich hoaxes, prosperous laughs

     
     

A scene from Nothing Special Production's 'The Alchemist', written by Ben Johnson and directed by Gregory Peters. Photo credit: Michael Laird

  
Nothing Special Productions presents
  
The Alchemist
  
Written by Ben Johnson
Adapted by Gregory Peters
Directed by Jack Dugan Carpenter
at Heartland Studio
, 7016 N. Glenwood (map)
through April 30  |  tickets: $15  |  more info

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

Love? Riches? Fairytalk?  Whatever you’re in the market for, the alchemist is selling it for cash or velvet.  Nothing Special Productions presents The Alchemist.  A trio of swindlers conjure up dreamy elixirs for the villagers in need.  The scams are housed in a deserted mansion.  Dazzling promises lure the customers into the illusion. The people are foolish. The hoaxes are elaborate.  The payoff is pure gold.  The Alchemist guarantees riches and delivers it as prosperous laughs!

A scene from Nothing Special Production's 'The Alchemist', written by Ben Johnson and directed by Gregory Peters. Photo credit: Michael LairdLike an ongoing ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch, the buffoonery is riotous.  Jack Dugan Carpenter directs the huge cast through the mazed intrigue.  Carpenter paces the mega set-ups with a zippy revolving door feel.  At the core of the mayhem, the household rogues (Andrew Marchetti, Sean McGill, Melissa Imbogno) don numerous disguises and personas to work their magic.  It’s a burlesques-style slapstick! Continuous almost-being-found-out moments add to the hilarity.  In one scene, the threesome act out a fascinating elfin attack.  Their giggly enjoyment of the charade makes it feel improvised.  Marchetti and McGill are a dynamic duo.  Their synergy is perfected comedic timing. The talented ensemble add to the punch line with exaggerated spoofs.  In particular, two supporting actors stand out in stealing ways.  Matt Castellvi pontificates in grandiosity. His Laurence Olivier-like theatrics are hysterical.  A lanky Ken Miller escalates the joke with uttering one word, ‘sis-star.‘                      

Playwright Gregory Peters has updated Ben Johnson’s farce from the 1600’s.  Peters keeps the formal prose but weaves in a modern twist to the multiple entanglements.  By intermission, the number of grifts in progress is exhausting.  Not because the audience isn’t entertained but because they know ALL the scams must resolve before the show can end.  To adapt a play for the 21st first century, you need to adapt to an audience with a tweet-size attention span.  By limiting characters and eliminating scenes, this long con could be an excellent hustle!

  
  
Rating: ★★★
  
  

A scene from Nothing Special Production's 'The Alchemist', written by Ben Johnson and directed by Gregory Peters. Photo credit: Michael Laird

The Alchemist continues through April 30th at the Boho Theatre in Rogers Park, with performances Thursdays, Fridays and, Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets are $15, and can be purchased online. The show’s running time is two hours and forty minutes, which includes an intermission.


Cast

Sean McGill (Face); Andrew Marchetti (Subtle); Melissa Imbrogno (Doll); Tony Kaehny (Dapper/Officer); Scott Sawa (Drugger); Chad Brown (Ananias); Matt Castellvi Mammon); Conor Burke (Surly); Patrick Byrnes (Tribulation); Ken Miller (Kastril); KaCee J. Hudson (Pliant); Joshua Razavi (Lovewit)

All photo by Michael Laird