30-Hour Improv Marathon to benefit Child Literacy program

Playground Theater - 30-hour Improv marathon

The Playground Improv Marathon:

30 Hours of Comedy Benefiting Child Literacy

 

“9 Actors. 30 Hours. No Script. No Sleep. No Sanity.”

When: 6 p.m. Friday, September 10 – Midnight Saturday, September 11
Where: The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted St.
Cost: $5-$10 per hour-long show, $25 for a full 30-hour pass
Contact: Dave Maher (daphima@gmail.com, 773-706-5890)

On September 10-11 at The Playground Theater, local improv troupe K.C. Redheart will perform 30 straight hours of comedy as part of the inaugural Playground Improv Marathon, a charity event benefiting the Illinois Coalition of Reach Out and Read and the Playground Theater.

The nine members of K.C. Redheart will test their wits, endurance, and sanity as the core group of “Marathoners,” going without sleep while performing for the Marathon’s entire 30 hours. Additionally, each hour will mark the start of a new show, as the Marathoners welcome guests from around the city to improvise with them, including performers from Second City, ComedySportz, the Annoyance Theatre, iO, and K.C. Redheart’s home, the Playground Theater.

With the help of so many different performers, the Playground Improv Marathon will showcase the diversity and vitality of Chicago’s improv scene. There will be short-form games a la “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” experimental and narrative long-form shows, family-friendly shows during the day, and anything-goes sets during the late-night hours. As an added bonus, the audience will witness the Marathoners’ transformation from well-adjusted adults to sleep-deprived comedy nutjobs by the end of it all. And most importantly, all of the proceeds go to a great cause.

The Playground Improv Marathon begins Friday evening, September 10, at 6 p.m. and ends Saturday night, September 11, at midnight. Tickets are available at the door, and prices are as follows: $5 for matinee shows, $10 for prime-time shows, and $25 for passes to the entire Marathon. Tickets to the Marathon include entry in a raffle to win prizes donated by local businesses, with drawings held every hour. Extra raffle tickets will be available for purchase.

kcredheart1 - marathon

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REVIEW: Glitter in the Gutter (Annoyance Theatre)

Filthy. Gorgeous. A bit of a Drag.

glitter-gutter photo: Zach Dodson

Annoyance Theatre presents:

Glitter in the Gutter

**The first and only live Drag Queen Sitcom**

written and directed by Kellen Alexander
through March 11 (more info)

By Keith Ecker

Who among us has not pondered the secret lives of drag queens? When the lights at the cabaret fade and the bar lets its regulars loose upon the night, where does the entertainment go? And what of the less successful divas, those that harbor Ru Paul dreams while clunking around in chintzy platform heels?

Glitter in the Gutter, a new play produced by Annoyance Productions and directed and written by Kellen Alexander, tells this story. Or to be more precise, it tells the story of two particular drag queens who are tragically trashy, down on their luck and caught on the cusp of eviction.

glitter-poster The play opens on the shared apartment of Pepper LaRoo (Seth Dodson) and Velveeta Fitzgerald (Wes Perry). Pepper, slender, graceful and nursing a throbbing head, is the Patsy to Velveeta’s somewhat more grounded Edina (see AbFab). The headache interferes with Pepper’s memory of the night prior, but she does recall meeting a man whose number she stored in her phone.

Enter Beverly Poon (Sarah Fineout), a rival performer with a voice that sounds like she’s gargling gravel. It is through her that Pepper discovers the man she met the night before was none other than Vinnie Cancer (Ben Kass), a famous record producer. Of course, this sends Pepper and Velveeta into a tizzy. They decide to invite Vinnie over for a date with the ulterior motive of landing a record contract.

When Vinnie stops by, he hands Pepper a slip of paper to fulfill her wish. Wanting a piece of the fame pie, Velveeta attempts to woo Vinnie to sign her as well. Caring more for image than talent, Vinnie lets Velveeta down hard. Little does Vinnie know that his newfound flame can move her mouth to music but is completely tone deaf.

Scorned, Velveeta runs away from home. She befriends a bag lady (Rachel Reed) in the alley out back and settles down for a life of domesticity and Dumpsters.

The play is the kind of over-the-top, absurdist comedy reminiscent of Charles Busch or John Waters . It’s campy, it’s crass and it’s unapologetically gay. But wash off the rouge and the eye shadow, and the play’s flaws become more apparent.

Although Alexander is obviously talented—he, along with Dodson, are part of the phenomenal improv group 1, 2, 3, Fag! — he seems overwhelmed with managing writing and directing duties. Likely unable to give both adequate attention, the writing and the pacing of the play suffer from a lack of concision.

Jokes that would otherwise kill fall flat when the punch line gets lost in a tangle of words. Also, too often too much is said that could easily have been accomplished with action. This slows down the pacing of the overall play, making the first act in particular feel like a drag.

It is in the subtleties that Alexander excels. One of the funniest parts of the play is when Officer Rick Pony (Alex Moffat) makes his entrance wearing roller shoes. No dialogue needed. The same goes with the inclusion of a window that is operated off stage by a pulley. It’s a simple and cheesy stage piece that serves a purpose and is used to great comedic effect.

Dodson and Perry are both talented actors. Dodson’s delivery and soft-spokenness, his agile dance moves and his comedic timing make him an attention magnet. Perry, who sounds an awful lot like Mrs. Garrett from the Facts of Life, has a strong voice and a commanding presence as well.

I have to give special recognition to Reed, whose deadpan portrayal of an off-kilter homeless woman is a scene-stealer. She also is fortunate to have the best dialogue in the entire play.

If Glitter in the Gutter aspires to be in the same ranks as other campy classics, it misses its mark. But it’s an entertaining piece none-the-less that is sure to please fans of kitsch and drag.

Rating: ★★½

Related article: Timeout Chicago’s Taking Out The Trash

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ComedySportz adds new Winter shows

ComedySportz1 ComedySportz2

WHAT: Celebrating 21 years of making Chicago audiences laugh, The ComedySportz Theatre announces their Winter 2009 show line up.

New Shows Added:

Wednesdays at 8pm: The Chicago Improv Rebellion. Premiere: 1/14/09 The Chicago Improv Rebellion is a hodge podge of some of the best improv shows from ComedySportz, iO, The Annoyance, Second City and The Playground. Each week they present new improv forms, sketches, videos and anything they can imagine! New special guest groups every week! Featuring videos and sketches from Hodge Podge and hosted by musician and comic Nathan Cotter. Tickets: $10. Closing 3/11/09.

Fridays at 12am: Blackout. Premiere: 1/16/09 Blackout is a high energy long form improv show that is quick witted, daring, occasionally raunchy and has a sense of comic timing you can set a watch to. Oh yeah, and the performers are all African-American men…twist that lime in your beverage. Tickets: $10

For more info, go to www.COMEDYSPORTZCHICAGO.com, or call 773-549-3030.