Review: Cubicle! An Office Space Musical (New Millennium)

  
  

A contemporary classic becomes a mangled musical

 
 

New Millennium Theatre presents "Cubicle! An Office Space Musical"

    
New Millennium Theatre presents
   
   
Cubicle! An Office Space Musical
   
  
Adapted by Ian McPhaden and Steven D. Attanasie Jr.
Original music by Megan Piccochi
Directed by Laura Coleman & Sean Harklerode
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
through June 4  |  tickets: $17-$20  |  more info

Reviewed by Keith Ecker 

The musical theatre landscape of today is riddled with the picked over remains of derivative ideas. It’s not that the genre doesn’t have the ability to be new and fresh (see The Book of Mormon or Next to Normal). It’s just that it’s perceived to be easier and less risky to take a previously successful work, abridge it and insert some songs to fill the gaps. The problem is that this method results in such monstrosities as Spiderman Turn Off the Dark.

New Millennium Theatre presents "Cubicle! An Office Space Musical"In 2005, New Millennium Theatre Company took this formula and applied it to the movie “Office Space”, the hilarious 1999 Mike Judge comedy about the ironies of office life. The company has revived its musical—christened Cubicle! An Office Space Musical. Although I can’t speak for the original production, the current production is a play that only a true hardcore fan of the movie could love. And even then, this might be pushing it. For though the script is a very close adaptation of the movie, the caliber of talent is lacking. This is a musical sung by non-singers who do not have the luxury of proper technical tools to lift their voices above the muffling canned score.

The play is about everyman Peter (Joseph H. White), a white-collar cubicle dweller who can’t stand the rat race. His office features all the common annoyances of contemporary work life, from a confusing hierarchy of middle managers to unexpected weekend workdays. After a hypnotherapy session goes awry, Peter is awoken to life’s zest and decides to seize the day by becoming an utter and complete slacker. Fortuitously, this attitude ends up benefiting him in his work life.

Other plot elements include Peter’s love interest Rachel (Kelly Parker), a disgruntled waitress at a TGI Friday’s style restaurant; Peter’s friends Michael Bolton (Michael James Graf) and Samir (Rafael Torres), who help him execute a plan to embezzle thousands of dollars from the company; and Milton (Guy Schingoethe), the meek and mentally unstable employee who threatens to burn the building to the ground if he doesn’t get his red stapler back.

New Millennium is working with a solid script. The adaptation, penned by Ian McPhaden and Steven D. Attanasie Jr., rips much of the movie’s famous dialogue word for word right down to the famous "O face" scene. You would think it’s too identical to the film to fail.

But it does fail. And it has everything to do with the musical part of this musical. The singing is just atrocious. Much of the songs are spoken with a singsong affect. And even the rap numbers, which don’t require a gift for melody, are executed with a disappointing lack of passion and commitment. The performers, whose vocal strength can be likened to a light breeze, lack microphones, which makes it all the more impossible to hear the lyrics over the pre-recorded tracks. Speaking of which, the music is also problematic. Musical director Megan Piccochi has created a cacophonous and rather uncatchy series of songs that fail to stick. Rather than rely on clear and straightforward instrumentation, she has spliced pre-existing songs with digital samples to create a tangle of audio.

There are two saving graces to this show. The number "Flair" is by far and away the musical’s best. Much of this can be credited to performer Adam Rosowicz, who gives a dynamic performance and sports a strong voice. The other high point is Schingoethe, whose portrayal of Milton is captivating. His powerful pipes eclipse the majority of the cast.

If you’re a giant fan of “Office Space”, you may derive pleasure out of Cubicle! If you are a fan of musicals, prepare to be disappointed. And if you like to go to bed early, drink some coffee (the show runs from about 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.).

  
  
Rating: ★★
  
  

New Millennium Theatre presents "Cubicle! An Office Space Musical"

Cubicle! An Office Space Musical will run Friday and Saturday nights May 6th through June 4th at 11:00pm at Theater Wit (1229 W. Belmont Ave.). Tickets are $20 at the door or $17 in advance. There will be a limited number of half price tickets available through goldstar.com and hottix. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 773-975-8150 or visit www.nmtchicago.org.

  
 

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Chicago Fringe Festival announces Pilsen play line-up

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CHICAGO FRINGE FESTIVAL 2010

Pilsen Lineup and Venues, September 1st – 5th

 

The Chicago Fringe Festival has announced the complete lineup for its inaugural performing arts festival, slated for September 1st through the 5th in the Pilsen neighborhood. In the spirit of fringe festivals worldwide, 46 productions were selected by lottery from a total of 156 applicants. The final schedule will be released on August 1, 2010.

13 states will be represented at the uncensored festival, including New York, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Colorado and Nevada. In addition, 2 international productions will make an appearance at the festival, with works from Israel and Canada making their Chicago debut. All told, 198 performers will participate in this landmark event.

Local Chicago artists will have a strong showing at the festival, with many acts looking forward to performing for a hometown crowd. New Millennium Theatre Company will present a revival of The Texas Chainsaw Musical, directed by Artistic Director Chad Wise. Genesis Ensemble, a two-year-old performance collective, will present sweet, half-darkness.

"Pilsen’s vitality and connection to the arts made it a natural fit for the festival," says Executive Director and Founder, Sarah Mikayla Brown. "We’re excited to push both artistic and geographical boundaries as we introduce our audience to new works in what may be a new neighborhood to them."

Fringe Central

At the heart of the festivities will be Fringe Central, located near Racine and 18th Street. Live music, entertainment and outdoor exhibits will be accompanied by delicious food provided by local favorite Honky Tonk BBQ. "Fringe Central will be ground zero for participants and audience alike to kick back, relax, and enjoy thesights and sounds of Pilsen. We’re excited to provide a place where folks can share ideas, network and just enjoy good company," says Associate Producer Vinnie Lacey.

Fringe Central will also play host to the Chicago Fringe Preview Party on August 28, 2010. Attendees will get an early taste of festival offerings as selected performers preview their Chicago Fringe productions.

8 Venues

All eight venues have been announced, including the Chicago Art Department Gallery, Dream Theatre, Temple Gallery, EP Theater, Chicago Arts District Galleries, Casa Aztlan and Simone’s Bar. Six of the venues are non-traditional spaces, and the Festival is currently raising capital to ensure premium flooring, lighting, sound equipment and technicians are in place to transform each space into a premiere performance venue.

MidwestFringe Circuit

The Chicago Fringe Festival will also mark the last stop of the first annual MidwestFringe Circuit, featuring three other American fringe festivals: Kansas City, Minnesota and Indianapolis. Four productions from each festival were selected by lottery to tour all four cities.


Guarenteed production slots at the 2010 Chicago Fringe Festival:

 

LOCAL

  • Shanna Shrum – Skinny Dipping – Not Your Mama’s One Woman Show!
  • Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre – Moliere Than Thou
  • Lincoln Square TheatreThe Parenticide Club
  • Shakura World Theatre – Columbine & Roses
  • Piel Morena Contemporary Dance – Machito Pichon
  • Rebecca Kling – Uncovering the Mirrors
  • 2nd Story TheatreCabinalysis… or, Build Your Own Damn Cabin!
  • Citadel Theatre Company5 Times 10 – A Collection of 10 Minutes Plays
  • Les Enfants Terribles – Believe in Nothing, Mock Everything
  • The Consortium Project – Knee-Jerk
  • Megan Rhyme – Inner Cartography
  • Ripettes Burlesque – The Ripettes Burlesque in… Peter Panties: A Neverland Burlesque
  • Hubris ProductionsAnnee Pocalypse
  • The Anatomy Collective – TBD – Untitled Anatomy Collective Project
  • New Millenium Theatre  – The Texas Chainsaw Musical
  • No Small Productions – What To Expect
  • Weber & Einstein – Please Love Me, High School Boyfriend
  • Jason Economus – The Steve Show
  • Genesis Ensemblesweet, half-darkness
  • Terra Mysterium – Finding Eleusis
  • Patchwork Woman Performance – Bridges
  • The Hollow Tree – Scenes of a Love Like Nature
  • The Talking Cure – The Talking Cure Presents

NON-LOCAL

  • Theater Undeclared – Grind: The Musical
  • Swanderwoman Productions – Driving the Body Back
  • No Snowcones Productions – That Greek Thing
  • Jeff Kreisler & Up Top Productions – Get Rich Cheating
  • Meddlin’ Productions – Girls and Dolls
  • Adam Theater – Hansel & Gretel the end of a fairy tale
  • Terri Cyrmes – Single Girl in a Gay Man’s World
  • Pantea Productions – Silken Veils
  • Nicole Kearney Productions – And Ya Don’t Stop a hip hop play
  • Les Kurkendaal – Christmas in Bakersfield
  • RE/Dance – The Lonely Visitors
  • Paul Diem – Mulatto Child – Voices From the Margins
  • Evan O’Sullivan – Evan O’Television Presents: Double Negatives
  • BITE Theatre – KRAIGSLIST
  • La Rinascita – The Fugitives
  • Howard Petrick – Rambo: The Missing Years
  • Gemma Wilcox – The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over
  • Opium, Fireworks and Lead – Exhausted Paint: The Death of Van Gogh
  • Patrick Devine – Breaking Down in America
  • Maire Clerkin The Bad Arm – Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer
  • And Giggles Productions – The Playdaters
  • Tiberius Productions Touch My App
  • What’s a Girl to Do Productions – Drunk with Hope in Chicago

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Shows Opening/Closing this week

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Show Openings

 

“Master Harold”…and the Boys

TimeLine Theatre

The Alcyone Festival 2010 Halcyon Theatre

The Castle Oracle Theatre

Desperately Seeking Chemically Imbalanced Theater

Dreamgirls Cadillac Palace Theatre (Broadway in Chicago)

First Words Greenhouse Theater Center (MPAACT)

The Dames Storm Division New Millenium Theatre

Glitter in the Gutter Annoyance Theatre

Harper Regan Steep Theatre

Hughie/Krapp’s Last Tape Goodman Theatre

King of the Mountain Chemically Imbalanced Theater

Nighthawk Sandwich Storefront Theater (DCA Theatre)

Phedra New World Repertory Theatre

Real Bros of DuPage County Gorilla Tango Theatre

Savage in Limbo Village Players Performing Arts Center

Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors Chicago Shakespeare

WHACK! Gorilla Tango Theatre

The Year of Magical Thinking Court Theatre 

 

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Show Closings

 

Annie Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University

The Capitol Steps North Shore Center for the Performing Arts

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan Dance Center of Columbia College

Give Us Monday Gorilla Tango Theatre

Icarus Lookingglass Theatre

Little Women Circle Theatre

Mamma Mia! Rosemont Theatre

Mark and Laura’s Couples Advice Christmas Special Gorilla Tango Theatre

 

Openings/Closings list courtesy of League of Chicago Theatres

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 

Chicago theater openings/closings this week

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show openings

Anna, in the Darkness: The Basement

Dream Theatre

Bastards of Young Tympanic Theatre

Calls to Blood The New Colony

Cats Cadillac Palace Theatre

Dooby Dooby Moo Lifeline Theatre

Everyone’s Favorite Lobster Gorilla Tango Theatre

The Flaming Dames in Vamp II New Millenium Theatre

Heroes Remy Bumppo Theatre

The House on Mango Street Steppenwolf Theatre

The Last Unicorn Promethean Theatre

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Filament Theatre Ensemble

The Man Who Was Thursday New Leaf Theatre

Mrs. Gruber’s Ding Song School Gorilla Tango Theatre

Plans 1 Through 8 from Outer Space New Millenium Theatre

Rachel Corn and the Secret Society Corn Productions

You Can’t Take It with You Village Players Performing Arts Center

 

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show closings

Ah, Wilderness! Loyola University Chicago Theatre

Bad Touch and the Deep End Annoyance Theatre 

Dirty Talking Amish Gorilla Tango Theatre

Dracula Oak Park Festival Theatre

The History Boys – Timeline Theatre 

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Court Theatre

The Night SeasonVitalist Theatre

Rent Big Noise Theatre

Sleeping Beauty Big Noise Theatre

Stripped: An Unplugged Evening with Marilyn’s Dress Gorilla Tango Theatre