Theater openings and closings this week in Chicago

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show openings

 

Twas the Night Before Christmas Center for Performing Arts at Governors State

500 Clown Christmas North Central College 

American Stars in Concert for the Holidays Paramount Theatre

Civic Ballet’s The Nutcracker James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts

Icarus Lookingglass Theatre

It’s a Wonderful Life Improv Playhouse

The Klezmatics North Shore Center for the Performing Arts

The Nutcracker McAninch Arts Center

W is for Winter Prop Thtr

 

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show closings

1985 The Factory Theater (our review)

All the Fame of Lofty Deeds House Theatre  (our review)

Aunt Dan and Lemon BackStage Theatre Company

Beethoven, as I Knew Him Drury Lane Water Tower

Burlesque is More Annoyance Theatre

Carnival Nocturne – Storefront Theater  (our review)

Chad Morton’s TV Christmas Miracle Village Players Performing Arts Center

Cockettes: Christmas Spectacular Annoyance Theatre

Cold Dream Theatre

Cooperstown Theatre Seven of Chicago (our review)

The David Bowie Hepzikat Funky Velvet Flarney Solstice Spectacular Live…From Space! New Millenium Theatre

D-Cup Diatribes Gorilla Tango Theatre 

Democracy Eclipse Theatre (our review)

Faith Off Gorilla Tango Theatre

The Flaming Dames in Naughtier and Nice New Millenium Theatre

Florid Deveraux Does the Holidays Prop Thtr

Gift of the Magi EverGreen Theatre Ensemble

Gossamer Adventure Stage Chicago

Graceland Profiles Theatre 

Horrible Apollo Theatre (our review)

Hunky Dory The Factory Theater (our review)

Improv Children of the Corn 3 Corn Productions

Low Toner: Decision Quality Gorilla Tango Theatre

LUNATIC(a)S Teatro Luna (our review)

Perseus and Medusa: Or It’s All Greek to Me Piccolo Theatre

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Annoyance Theatre (our review)

Short Shorts Annoyance Theatre

A Silent Night: Grandma Got Run Over Without Healthcare Gorilla Tango Theatre

Souvenir Northlight Theatre (our review)

When She Danced TimeLine Theatre

Whining in the Windy City Royal George Theatre

This week’s Openings and Closings

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show openings

The Addams Family Broadway In Chicago

American Buffalo Steppenwolf Theatre 

Christmas Follies Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus

The Nutcracker Center for the Performing Arts at Governors State University

The Nutcracker North Shore Center for the Performing Arts

In the Heights Broadway In Chicago

It’s a Wonderful Life Improv Playhouse Radio Theatre

It’s a Wonderful Life AFTRA/SAG Senior Radio Players

Rent, School Edition Studio BE

Salsa Sketch Gorilla Tango Theatre

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show closings

CUBA and his Teddy Bear UrbanTheater / PEOPLE’S Theater of Chicago

The Dreamers Theatre Building Chicago 

How to Act Around Cops The Artistic Home

The Mercy Seat Profiles Theatre

The Mystery of Irma Vep Court Theatre

The Nutcracker Sings Jedlicka Performing Arts Center

Patchwork U.S.A. Raven Theatre

Peter Gallagher, Don’t Give Up on Me Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place

Stars in the Attic Gorilla Tango Theatre

Summer People The Gift Theatre

Time Traveling Mom-Dad Gorilla Tango Theatre

Towards the Sun! Gorilla Tango Theatre

Young Frankenstein Broadway In Chicago

REVIEW: Gorilla Tango’s “Mark & Laura’s Couples Advice Christmas Special”

Lack of Plot Leaves Characters Adrift

 

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Gorilla Tango presents:

Mark & Laura’s Couples Advice Christmas Special

Review by Keith Ecker

There are countless Christmas offerings this holiday season. You have the evergreen classics such as Miracle on 34th Street (our review) and A Christmas Carol (there are actually seven separate productions of the latter). You have plays targeted toward both children and the inner-child, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (review). Then there’s the fringe fare—over-the-top shows that lampoon those things we hold most sacred about the Christmas season from family to Jesus to televised holiday spectaculars.

Mark & Laura’s Couples Advice Christmas Special (ticket info) falls into the latter category. It’s a bare-boned production that can barely be called a play due to its lack of any semblance of a plot. It’s definitely a comedy, though the funniest part of the show is the program, which provides humorous biographic information on the main characters. Yet, the play fails to incorporate this humor and, rather, flounders along on a series of contrived and well-worn comedy conventions.

The play centers on the Gibsons, a family who produces a cable access, relationship advice program. The fourth wall is non-existent as we, the audience, are the in-studio audience for their fictional broadcast, which airs in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Mother and father duo Laura (Carrie Bain) and Mark (Ryan McChesney) play the hosts who ooze Midwestern wholesomeness, including Laura’s love for soup and Mark’s passion for toolsets. Their production assistant is their son Sean (Adam Ziemkiewicz), a flamboyant thespian who elicits only derision from his father. The couple’s other son, Mark Jr. (Raymond Bruce Birkett III), is the apple of his father’s eye due to his love of ties and his 3.2 GPA.

Throughout the show, the couple espouses relationship advice, at one point fielding questions from the audience. Yet, it is obvious that hypocrisy is afoot as there are dysfunctions between the Gibsons, both as partners and as a family unit.

We’ve seen all these characters and relationships before in one form or another: the ostracized gay son, the know-it-all dad and the worrisome mother who just wants everyone to get along for the holidays. And although all actors do a good job of making these stock characters come to life, there is no reason for the audience to become invested in them in any way. That’s because there is really no plot, but only what appears to be a skeleton of a script with a few marks the actors agree to hit. There is little tension, despite such melodramatic conflict. There is resolution, but no feeling of relief. We cannot care about four people meandering on stage, directionless.

If there was more time and thought put into creating an inventive story wherein to place the Gibsons, this could have been an entertaining and refreshing addition to seasonal theater. However, as it stands, it’s really just a good way to enjoy an hour of central heating, courtesy of the Gorilla Tango Theater.

Rating:

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Review: “MusicalDEEP” at Gorilla Tango Theatre

 Gorilla Tango Theatre presnts:

MusicalDEEP

Directed by Howard Witt
thru November 23rd (ticket info)
reviewed by Timothy McGuire

musicaldeep The new show MusicalDEEP at Gorilla Tango Theatre possesses a lot of potential in its current concept, but the performance is a work in progress. MusicalDEEP is a musical parody about a group of young theatrical hipsters who feel that they must experience life’s hardships and personal struggles in order to create deep meaningful art.

The opening scene is the most stimulating, where knock-out beautiful Jeezy McNeezy performs a burlesque like tap dancing strip tease down to just her lacy purple panties and two feathery stars covering her talented figure. This opening possibly signifies the honesty and “baring of one’s soul” that it takes to create significant art, but I actually saw no correlation between the opening scene and the rest of the play other than serving as an eye-catching opening.

The rest of the play consists of three girls and a guy slowly and methodically discussing how they can create deep art. Their conversations are too scripted and performed as if in a classroom skit.  Although the chemistry between the cast brings out individual personalities between the characters, the dialogue is underdeveloped, leaving one constantly expecting more to happen. The aspiring artists in this musical come off as young, very young, hipsters (most likely 20-22yrs old) with valley girl speech to go along with their hipster clothing.

Jessica Marks developed the strongest individual personality in a girl named Paragraph and provides subtle interactions with humorous and insightful weight. Her storyline is developed around a hidden desire that provides true human conflict, although it is never sincerely developed or expressed.

MusicalDEEP stands out by having a different kind of protagonist; one that is the clear headed and morally sound. Ashley Jennings plays one of the young girlfriends searching for a way to create deep art, but is unconvinced that you must manipulate your life in order to feel pain as a creative stimulus. Her final song might be the best fit for this musical parody. Intentionally singing her song extremely high pitched and without any effort to sing in tune, she made her musical portion satirical rather than lacking in musical strength.

The brevity and promising premise of this play makes it a fun quick stop before calling it a night or heading out to the bars on Milwaukee Ave. The overall performance has its slower moments and the drama needs to be further developed, but if you laugh out loud more than ten times in an hour I consider it a success and MusicDEEP far exceeded that standard.

Rating: ★★

 

MusicalDEEP, performing Mondays at 8pm, November 2 – November 23, 2009 at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago 60647. Tickets are $10; to purchase tickets call 773-598-4549 or visit www.gorillatango.com.

Chicago theater openings/closings this week

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show openings

A You Like It Loyola University

Burlesque Is More Annoyance Theatre 

Gossamer Adventure Stage Chicago

High Holidays Goodman Theatre

Horrible Apollo Theatre

Murder in Green Meadows Citadel Theatre

The Music Man Rising Stars Theatre

Phedra New World Repertory Theater

The Shape of Things University of Chicago

Shootin’ the Shit with EJ and TJ Annoyance Theatre

The Spectacular Comedy Spectacle Theatre Building Chicago

When She Danced TimeLine Theatre

Young Frankenstein Cadillac Palace Theatre

 

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show closings

An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Dr. John Faustus on His Final Evening Theater Oobleck 

Arsenic and Old Lace Northwestern University 

Bastards of Young Tympanic Theatre

Calls to Blood The New Colony

Cotton Patch Gospel Provision Theater

Everyone’s Favorite Lobster Gorilla Tango Theatre

Fake Steppenwolf Theatre

The Flowers About Face Theatre

The House on Mango Street Steppenwolf Theatre

Kill the Old Torture Their Young Steep Theatre

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Filament Theatre

Lettice and Lovage Redtwist Theatre

Lucinda’s Bed Chicago Dramatists

Night Watch Jedlicka Performing Arts Center

Rhymes with Evil InFusion Theatre

A Streetcar Named Desire Polarity Ensemble Theatre

Yeast Nation (The Triumph of Life) American Theater Company

 

List courtesy of The League of Chicago Theatres 

Addams Family – an interview with Lurch (Zachary James)

Lurch interview (Zachary James)

Talking With Lurch (Zachary James)

by Timothy McGuire

One could easily make the assumption that Zachary James will be playing quite possibly the most intriguing Lurch ever written, with a musical surprise coming from the man Charles Addams described as a “towering mute.”

This extremely tall (possibly 12 feet?) handsome, bald man has his character Lurch’s physical demeanor down pat – when he demonstrated how Lurch stands hunched over with his arms locked straight holding a serving tray at his knees, he had me sold. In addition to this, James just happens to be a talented and accomplished opera singer as well as proven acting ability to go along with his powerful voice

James gave credit to producer Stuart Oken saying,

“Stuart took the time to look at each individual.”

James said that the talent in all aspects of this production, on stage and off stage, is what will make Addams Family a great musical.

Admitting to being nervous at first knowing he’d be working with Bebe Neuwirth (Morticia) and Nathan Lane (Gomez), James’ admission that, as a kid, he had watched the movie “Bird On a Wire” over a dozen times proved how he could be slightly intimidated to work with Lane.

 

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But Zachary James is a rising star on his own right. After his role in Broadway’s South Pacific he had a desire to sing more and perform the kind of songs that he wanted to sing. In South Pacific he felt that he was out there singing for five minutes and spent the rest of the time in the dressing room while others performed. He wanted to be on stage singing! With a recent break up motivating his personal story line, Zachary James has created and self-directs his own small New York opera company, which strives to make opera more available and affordable to the public, providing a uniquely powerful experience by performing in smaller intimate settings.

Even with his grueling rehearsal schedule he found time to hold a one night performance of his latest one man opera (Imbecil D’Amour) last Saturday at Gorilla Tango Theatre, giving people a chance to hear a renowned opera singer perform just a couple feet away from them for just $10. His passion drives his performances, and his talent backs him up.

If you see a tall, lean and lanky, bald giant walking on the streets of Chicago, don’t be alarmed, it’s just Lurch in the new Addams Family – The Musical.

 

Chicago theater openings/closings this week

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show openings

Bury the Dead

O’Malley Theatre

Boolesque Review Piccolo Theatre 

Dave Rudolf Halloween Spooktacular – Center for Performing Arts – GSU

End Days Next Theatre 

Fulcrum Point Plugged In Evanston SPACE

Hard Headed Heart Victory Gardens Biograph Theater

Little Shop of Horors Beverly Theatre Guild

The Song Show Gorilla Tango Theatre 

The Walworth Face Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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show closings

12 Ophelias Trap Door Theatre 

Anna in the Darkness: The Basement Dream Theatre 

Anton in Show Business Theatre Building Chicago 

Black Comedy Piccolo Theatre

Bucket of Blood Annoyance Theatre

The Castle of Otranto First Folio Theatre 

Death Toll Cornservatory

Disturbed Oracle Productions 

The Dreamers Apollo Theatre 

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity Victory Gardens Biograph Theater 

Erendira Aguijon Theater 

Fear – The Neo-Futurists 

The Flaming Dames in Vamp II New Millenium Theatre

Frankenstein The Hypocrites 

Journey to the Center of the Uterus Greenhouse Theater Center 

Lights Out Alma Annoyance Theatre

Macabaret Porchlight Music Theatre 

The Magic Ofrenda Metropolis Performing Arts Centre 

Married Alive! Noble Fool Theatricals 

Mistakes Were Made A Red Orchid Theatre 

Mouse in a Jar Red Tape Theatre 

Nightmares on Lincoln Ave. Cornservatory 

Plans 1 Through 8 from Outer Space New Millenium Theatre 

Salem! The Musical Annoyance Theatre 

Scared Stiff Chemically Imbalanced Theater 

Silk Road Cabaret Silk Road Theatre Project 

Sleepy Hollow Theatre-Hikes 

Splatter Theater Annoyance Theatre 

St. Crispin’s Day Strawdog Theatre 

 

List courtesy of the League of Chicago Theatres