Stuart Carden appointed Writers’ Theatre Associate AD

StuartCarden Writers’ Theatre has appointed Stuart Carden associate artistic director.

I’m so excited to be in collaboration with Stuart,” said Michael Halberstam, executive director the Writers’. “He has a rich background in literary development, a keen and ambitious scope of work as a director and a passion for the administrative challenges that come with supporting artistic direction. In a very short time I believe we will see Stuart’s strength of perspective and influence find its way onto the stages of Writers’ Theatre.”

Says Carden:

“I’m thrilled to be back home in the thriving Chicago theatre community as Writers’ Theatre’s new associate artistic director. Michael Halberstam and Kathryn Lipuma have created something extraordinary in Glencoe and I’m honored to join the passionate and vibrant group of artists and theater-makers that call Writers’ home. Through the course of my career my theatrical raison d’être has been helping bring new and diverse voices to the stage and I’m looking forward to bringing that passion for new work to Writers’ exciting Literary Development Initiative.”

Stuart Carden joins Writers’ Theatre as associate artistic director after two seasons at City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh where he was associate artistic director. As a new play specialist, Stuart has helped to develop over thirty plays, twelve of which he directed in their world premiere productions. Notable regional, U.S., and world premieres include works by Martin Crimp, David Henry Hwang, Tristine Skyler, Jeffrey Hatcher, Shishir Kurup, Richard Dresser and Yussef El Guindi. Last season his production of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis garnered five Kevin Kline nominations including “Outstanding Production” and “Outstanding Director.”

In Chicago he directed the world premiere production of Shishir Kurup’s The Merchant on Venice at Silk Road Theatre Project, which was named one of the top ten plays of 2007 by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Time Out Chicago. Other recent new play work includes directing Mary’s Wedding, The Pillowman, Stones in his Pockets, A Picasso, The Moonlight Room, 10 Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith, Big Love and Back of the Throat. Classical and classically inspired directing projects include The False Servant, Spring Awakening, Life is a Dream, The Crucible, The Game of Love and Chance, Miss Julie, A Streetcar Named Desire and his own adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Diary of a Madman.

Stuart has taught acting, directing and movement at Carnegie Mellon University, The Hartt School, Loyola University, Beloit College and Act One Studios. He holds an M.F.A. in directing from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. In the 2009/10 season Stuart is slated to direct David Harrower’s Blackbird at City Theatre Company and a play very familiar to Writers’ Theatre audiences, Crime and Punishment adapted by Curt Columbus and Marilyn Campbell, at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

For more info about the Writers’ Theatre, please visit www.writerstheatre

h/t BroadwayWorld.com

Think Fast: Michael McKean, Jonas Brothers, CSO and ‘Peter Pan the Musical’

  • This is great news: Michael McKean – who did such a brilliant job in Steppenwolf’s world-premier of Tracy LettsSuperior Donuts – will reprise his role as donut shop owner on Broadway, set to open October 1st.  More here, here and here.mckean-superior-donuts
  • What’s the impetus behind CSO’s artistic decline at Ravinia?  The Sun-Times says the choice of maestros at the podium is to blame.

I’m not sure the little boy behind me was impressed, though. He whispered (in English) in those hissing tones that bring to mind an angry radiator throughout the first act. In the second, he snored, but most gently. For that I was grateful.

  • Speaking of Peter Pan, it’s been announced that the multi-media-heavy extravaganza production will launch its theatre tour across the pond here in Chicago, May 2010.  In a tent!  Read the entire story at Chris Jones’ Theater Loop blog.  (Aside: no word on how profitable the show will be, though I heard Blago said that it’s “F*cking Golden!”)

‘Rod Blagojevich Superstar’ moving to Chicago Shakespeare

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Following a sold out run at Second City e.t.c., the popular comedy review “Rod Blagojevich Superstarwill be playing a limited engagement Chicago Shakes on Navy Pier.  The Navy Pier version has been updated with new sketches and music to include recent Blago happenings, such as his 6-figure book deal and Roland Burris’ son (and, as the Blago drama proceeds, so will Second City’s improv show!).  After each performance, the famed improv theatre troupe will improvise a 20-minute political comedy set based on audience suggestions.

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Superstar has book by Ed Furman, music and lyrics by T.J. Shanoff and direction by Matt Hovde. The cast includes Joey Bland as Rod Blagojvich, Mike Bradecich as Richard Mell/Pat Fitzgerald, Lauren Dowden as Lisa Madigan, Lori McClain as Patti Blagojevich and Sam Richardson as Senator Roland Burris.

According to Second City notes,

“Politics and parody take center stage Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare with the Second City’s rollicking musical parody of the rise and fall of ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich. A faux tribute to the man who compares himself to Gandhi, King and Mandela, Rod Blagojevich Superstar presents the story of the former governor in the style of a ’70s rock musical. Jesus and Mary Magdalene have been replaced by Rod and Patti Blagojevich, with appearances by Alderman Dick Mell, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and Senator Roland Burris. The jury is still out on Blagojevich, but of the five other Illinois governors who have been charged with crimes, three have done time.”

More info at ChicagoShakes.com.

Rave reviews after the fold.

See video preview of the show here.

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Theater-related passings: Broussard, Blau, Bridges, Lang

There were a number of theater-related passings recently, including:

 Dorothy Bridges  Eric Blau

Dorothy Bridges                                        Eric Blau   

 

  • Pearl Lang, 87, dancer, choreographer and teacher who founded the Pearl Lang Dance Theater.  Ms. Lang began her dance training as a child and studied acting at the Goodman Theatre.  She is survived by her husband, actor Joseph Wiseman, to whom she had been married for over sixty years.  Entire obit here.
  • Stephen Broussard, 61, distinguished attorney whose skills as an actor in community theater often transferred neatly to his work as a defense attorney in the courtroom.  Mr. Broussard majored in journalism at Northwestern University, and received his law degree from Northwestern as well.  He is survived by a daugher, maya-Camille; and a sister, Sandra.  Entire obit here and here.
 

Lookingglass Theatre’s “Our Town” – starring David Schwimmer – the rave reviews are in!

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Check out the Looking Glass Theatre‘s “Our Town” cast photo gallery at ChicagoTribune.com, starring David SchwimmerOur Town plays at the downtown theatre through April 5th.  Info and tickets here.

UPDATE – REVIEWS

Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times: Apart from its (“trussed up”) set, the Lookingglass “Our Town” — co-directed by Anna D. Shapiro and Jessica Thebus and featuring 13 members of the close-knit ensemble — is a fairly straightforward, gently elegiac interpretation of the play.   (Entire review here). Rating: Recommended

Michael J. Roberts at ChicagoPride.comLookingglass gives us an older but wiser ‘Our Town’.  It is in the third act, however,that Shapiro and Thebus strike gold with the Lookingglass actors and where the casting choice of using older actors to play George and Emily……there is a gravitas that can only come with the experience of life. Moreover, the final moments with Schwimmer collapsing on his wife’s tombstone left nary a dry eye in the house, including mine.  (Entire review here.)

(Catey Sullivan at Examiner.com: ‘Our Town’ a staggering take on a timeless drama (Entire review here)

Chris Jones at his Chicago Tribune theater blog The Theater Loop: Iconic play mirrors Lookingglass’ Journey…Schwimmer the emotional core of ‘Our Town’ in search of a small town. (Entire review here.)  Rating: «««

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Cast of “Our Town”.  More pics here.

Tribune photo by E. Jason Wambsgans / February 5, 2009

From YouTube: Meet the cast of “Our Town”. 

In this video: David Schwimmer, Joey Slotnick, David Catlin, David Kersnar, Laura Eason, Thomas J Cox, Andy White, Heidi Stillman, Raymond Fox, Patia Bartlett, Philip R Smith, Tracy Walsh, Louise Lamson and Kevin Douglas

More Lookingglass Theatre YouTube videos here.

 

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Xanadu – Cheap(er) tickets can make you "Happy"

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XANADU, the show that has surprised and delighted Broadway, is now delighting Chicago fans by offering a “Happy Sale” featuring $44 tickets. Reviews for the Chicago production have ranged mostly from good to exuberant (though there are a some naysayers).  But now – with this “happy” ticket deal – it could be a perfect time for you to see this 90-minutes-of-giddiness for yourself – whether seeing it for the first time or for the fifth.  Part of Broadway In Chicago 2008-2009 season, XANADU is at the Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower (175 E Chestnut St ). 

Okay, so here’s the deal: to purchase these specially priced $44 tickets (only offered Sunday – Friday performances through March, 29), contact the box office and mention the code HAPPY.  Tickets are available at the box office and www.BroadwayInChicago.com

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See a round-up of Xanadu reviews and pictures here.

10 Years later – Remembering Gene Siskel

genesmiling-thumb-200x261 While scanning through the Sun-Times a few days ago, I had one of those “wow, time goes fast” moments.  It seems like just a few years ago that the much-admired Chicago movie critic Gene Siskel passed away.  But, as Roger Ebert‘s poignant article says, Siskel’s death was actually 10 years ago!  I always liked seeing Mr. Siskel on the television; he always exuded great intellect combined with a Buckingham-Fountain-sized heart.  It’s such a great tribute that the Gene Siskel Film Center serves as his biggest legacy.

Although cinema was Siskel’s biggest passion, he also was a big supporter of arts in Chicago.     Gene Siskel, R.I.P.

Roger Ebert’s entire article, “Remember Gene” can be read here.

Gene Siskel Film Center, located on State Street in Chicago's Loop.

top photo courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times.