Blago donates his over-sized hairbrush to Second City show

Blagoweb

 

From Chicago Trubune writer Chris Jones’ excellent theater blog:

“Convinced that the legendary comedy theater’s representation of the infamous implement used to tame the indicted former Illinois Gov’s famous coif was inadequately sized, the showbiz-loving Blagojevich has sent along the actual brush for use as an historic artifact in the show, Rod Blagojevich Superstar, ongoing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier.”

The show is being produced by Second City.

Read more here.

picture courtesy of Chicago Tribune.

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!”)

Review: Cirque Shanghai – Bright Spirit

Disparate acts gracefully knitted together create a lovely distraction. 

 

Cirque Shanghai: Bright Spirit
Navy Pier, running through September 7th. (buy tickets here)

Reviewed by Catey Sullivan

The outfits evoke a Bedazzler-run-amok in Siegfried and Roy’s costume shop. The lighting is pure glitter gulch. And the acts? Picture Liberace’s long-lost Shanghai-born twin falling into a giant sloshing bucket of Cirque de Soleil and emerging with a show for audiences more accustomed to Vegas-style MTV smash cuts than the studied elegance of those artsy-fartsy French Canadians.

Cirque Shanghai_379 This is the wonderful world of Cirque Shanghai: Bright Spirit (buy tickets here), running in the Armadillo – whoops, the Skyline Stage – on Navy Pier through September 7th. The 90-minute production is a variety show on steroids – but if steroids were a good thing. Which is to say, Bright Spirit is a hopped up, mega-amplified celebration of some of the most garishly useless and entertaining skills around: Hoop divers, plate spinners, chair climbers (!), hat jugglers (!!) and unitard-clad creatures in inner tubes bouncing and rolling in ways that seem to defy more than a few fundamental laws of physics. For summer time guilty pleasures, Bright Spirit is up there with State Fair Fried Twinkies and snickering Oak Street beach’s endless preening spandex parade.

Directed by Naperville-native Dwight Jordan and choreographed by Lincolnshire native Brenda Didier, Bright Spirit – like all the Cirque Shanghai productions – is the brain child of Mike Wilson. The son of travelling magicians, Wilson followed his parents throughout China as a child, picking up a lifelong fascination with Chinese acrobatics, dance and folklore along the way. In 1990, he started bringing Chinese performers to the U.S., envisioning a sort of cross-cultural pollination between traditional Chinese art forms and high-tech Western production values. Almost 20 years later, Cirque Shanghai is the elaborate culmination of that vision. And in Navy Pier – a venue where one can find just about everything but beat baiting (though there’s lots of cotton candy for just such a purpose) – Wilson has a venue that perfectly complements Cirque Shanghai’s hybrid of populist thrill-o-rama stunts and ancient Eastern art forms.

Cirque Shanghai - Bright Spirit, now playing at Navy Pier through September 7th.

Now in its fourth season on the Pier, Cirque Shanghai has been polished and tweaked since it initially arrived, but the core showstoppers remain intact, a splendid display of spectacularly worthless skills resplendently presented.

Plate spinners turn the stage into a dizzying, dazzling pond filled with hundreds of rapidly orbiting lily pads set twirling by elite-level gymnasts. In an inexplicable (yet laugh-out-loud amusing) non-sequitor of sorts, a giant day-glo caterpillar that looks for all the world like an outtake from “James and the Giant Peach” makes his undulating way across the stage toward the dinnerware finale.

Cirque Shanghai, now playing at Navy Pier, runs through September 7th Also nifty: The Russian barre, wherein acrobats make the likes of Nastia Luikin look like a piker as they flip and whirl on a balance beam that seems to be made out of a giant foam noodle.

We’ve long fancied ourselves a connoisseur of contortionists, and the seemingly boneless wonders here do not disappoint offering a gallery of body positions that, when one stops to think about it, are simply not possible.

And only at Cirque Shanghai can you catch the “bumble bee diabolo” – wherein manically smiling young ladies propel a cross between nunchucks, windmill propellers and giant yoyos in an act that perfectly captures the timeless sentiment “you’re gonna put somebody’s eye out with that thing.”

With such disparate acts gracefully knitted together by Didier’s apt choreography, Bright Spirit is a lovely distraction. Save the Serious Art for fall. Now is the summer of our deep content with the likes of plate spinners.

Rating: ««½

‘CIRQUE SHANGHAI: GOLD’
When: Through Sept. 1 (12 shows a week, including most afternoons)
Where: Pepsi Skyline Stage, Navy Pier
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Tickets: $14.50-$29.50 at 312-902-1500

View Cirque Shanghai - Bright Spirit

Various “Cirque” Reviews:

  • Chicago Tribune’s review. (“Cirque Shanghai leaves crowd cheering)
  • Sun-Times’ review. (…modestly-staged acrobatics are generally neat.)
  • BroadwayWorld.com’s review. (…a soaring celebration of life appearing only in Chicago)

CirqueShanghai

See the entire Cirque Shanghai photo album here.

Actor’s Equity is movin’ on up! (to the West side)

Via Chris Jones’ blog: The Theater Loop

Besides buying a new building, Actors’ Equity has plans to expand presence here in Chi-Town (i.e. which means more jobs!!)

Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States, has purchased its own building on Randolph Street just a block or two west of the core of Chicago’s theater district (click on map below to see exact location). And according to Steven DiPaola, the union’s assistant executive director for finance and administration, Equity is considering moving some of the union’s national back-office functions from New York to Chicago.

New location for Acor's Equity Association - 557 W. RandolphThe new office, located at 557 W. Randolph Street, will house the headquarters of Equity’s Central Region, an office that covers all Chicago theaters as well as such active theater cities as Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

“We’re going to have an expanded audition center and member’s center,” said DiPaola. “And we hope to bring in some arts-related tenants into the building.” That list is likely to include Equity’s credit union, as well as some external cultural organizations.

Says Mark Staples, senior vice president of Office Group, who facilitated the transaction: “With its immediate proximity to I-90/94, the Clinton Green Line L stop and both the Ogilvie Transportation Center and Union Station, 557 W. Randolph is a perfect match for Actors’ Equity Association,”

The purchase price was $2 million.  557 W. Randolph Street is a four-story building with about 21,000 square feet. Equity, which will occupy two floors beginning in 2010, will be able to lease the space that it doesn’t use.


For larger map, click on pushpin

Built in 1855, 557 W. Randolph was one of the very few buildings in its area to survive the infamous 1871 Chicago fire. According to a statement from the union’s agent in the transaction, Mark Stables, a senior vice-president at Grubb and Ellis Company, Equity was able to save “nearly a third of the asking price” by paying in cash in these tough times. Equity will be moving from less than 10,000 square feet of rented space at 125 S. Clark St.

“This move shows our confidence in Chicago and its theater community,” DiPaola said.

Equity has about 1,500 members residing in Chicago.

Related articles:

“Mary Poppins” reviews: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!

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Daily Herald’s Barbara VitelloHighly Recommended

Excited doesn’t begin to describe the audience for the opening of the long-awaited “Mary Poppins” national tour Wednesday at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Exhilarated is more like it.

Young children bounced in their seats, adults gasped with surprise and the applause that accompanied the overture’s opening notes didn’t stop until after the enigmatic Mary Poppins (the delightful Ashley Brown reprising the role she created on Broadway) flew away for the last time.  (Read entire review here.)

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«««  Chris Jones, of the Chicago Tribune’s blog The Theater Loop, gives the musical extravaganza 3-stars.    Says Jones in his theater review:

Smart children know parents have to be trained to behave. Savvy, pint-sized domestic reformers will be thrilled with “Mary Poppins,” a rare family musical that spends most of its ample running time exhorting parents to stop working, take care of their long-suffering spouses, discover their inner supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and go fly a kite with the kids.

And parents? Speaking as someone who can always use help in that department, the ministrations of a magical nanny—emotionally inaccessible but practically perfect in every other way—sound good to me.    (rest of the review here)

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Chicago Sun Times’ Hedy Weiss – Highly Recommended

Mary Poppins” audience as lucky as lucky can be in nanny’s magical hands.

The magic in “Mary Poppins” — the darkly whimsical, continually ingenious musical that opened Wednesday at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in its post-London, post-Broadway and initial national touring company engagement — is doled out in generous but carefully calibrated spoonfuls. And because that magic (some of it quite black, most of it airborne and exhilarating) is interspersed with a healthy dose of realism, it takes on a special Technicolor glow when unleashed.  (Entire review here.)  

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Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Buy tickets at TicketMaster.

Related Blog Posts

Mary Poppins Extends Stay In Chicago – Theatre In Chicago

Theater Thursday – The House Theatre’s “Rose and Rime”

Thursday, March 5

Rose and the Rime

The House Theatre of Chicago

The Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division Street  (click on map for bigger picture)

roseandrimeEnjoy an evening in Wicker Park with pizza from Apart Pizza and a performance of Rose and the Rime, the House Theatre’s latest original work by the creators of The Sparrow (my rave review here). The tiny Michigan town of Radio Falls has been trapped in a perpetual winter for a generation. It’s up to a young girl named Rose to save the town from the vicious curse of the Rime witch. This is a modern version of The House’s favorite myth — a reminder that anything powerful enough to fulfill your dreams is powerful enough to destroy them.
Event begins in the lobby at 7:30 p.m.
Show begins at 8 p.m. A talk-back with the cast and crew follows.
TICKETS ONLY $25
For reservations call 773.251.2195 and mention “Theater Thursdays,” or visit www.thehousetheatre.com/tickets.

Reviews for Rose and Rime:

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Theater Thursday brought to you by this outstanding entertainment retailer.

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

schwimmer

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: «««

ourtown-cast.jpg

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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