Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We moved down the internet a ways...

Come visit!   The Fourth Walsh featuring new reviews on "Snow Queen", "Oh Coward!" and "The Merry Widow."  Coming soon... "The Addams Family" and "Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life Radio Play Theatre Review: Sounds like a Classic!

The American Theatre Company presents
It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play

Adapted from the film by Frank Capra
Screenplay written by Goodrich, Hackett, Swerling and Capra
Based on a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern
Directed by Jason Gerace
Thru December 27th (ticket info)

“Man’s suicide thwarted on Christmas Eve” sounds like a newspaper headline, not the premise of a holiday tradition. In American Theatre’s 8th-annual production, Frank Capra’s 1946 film, It’s a Wonderful Life, based on the book "The Greatest Gift", is re-imagined on stage as a radio play. Though most have seen the movie, the story deals with a distraught businessman George Bailey who eventually considers killing himself so his family may benefit from a life insurance policy. Clarence, angel second class, tries to earn his wings by helping George understand significance of his life. Performed in 80 minutes without an intermission, American Theatre Company’s It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play is a nicely wrapped holiday gift.

Check out the rest of the review at Chicago Theatre Blog

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Peter Gallagher Theatre Review: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered!

Eighty-Eight Entertainment presents

Peter Gallagher: Don’t Give Up On Me
Songs and Stories from An Actor’s Life
At Drury Lane Theatre
Musical direction and piano by Mark Stephens
Six performances November 22nd, 23rd, 29th, 30th
and December 13th, 14th

Coma guy, eyebrows, O.C. dad, yesterday I associated Peter Gallagher with sporadic memorable entertainment moments. Today, I know him as a handsome multi-faceted entertainer. Peter Gallagher performs his one man show, Don’t Give Up On Me at Drury Lane Theatre at Water Tower Place. Through songs and stories, Gallagher showcases his life on the stage. The biggest surprise of the evening, by his own admission, is that he’s not just a pretty face with big eyebrows and lips. Gallagher has had a long acting career on stage starring with legends like Jack Lemmon, James Cagney and Peter O’Toole. Gallagher recounts human interest snippets of these masters of the stage through his imitations.

Accompanied by a four piece band, Gallagher starts his thirteen song performance standing in the middle of the audience. In most shows, our intimate seats would have been considered ideal. Two reasons for this performance they aren’t. One, we are initially craning our necks to watch the performance behind us. Two, we are close enough to observe Gallagher struggling with not so charming belching. (I know Chicago pizza is the best but treat yourself post show.) These are but blips in the enchanting spell of a tall, dark and handsome man serenading with a range of classics through the ages, including; “Fly Me To The Moon,” What’s New Pussycat?” and “She’s No Lady.” The array of songs mixed with mimicked narrated stories of Lemon, Cagney and O’Toole are delightfully entertaining. Of course, you wonder about the songs and stories of working with divas like Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters and Sandra Bullock. Although Gallagher’s show is not a Kathy Griffin cabaret version of celebrities, I am not giving up on him. Maybe his next show! Gallagher ends this show by powerfully belting out “Danny Boy.” After initial applause, the audience scurries to the exits. Future ticket holders, don’t give up on him by leaving. There is probably an encore prepared for more courteous audiences. Bring your lighter!

A charming evening of songs and stories is Peter Gallagher: Don’t Give Up On Me. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on you, Peter! I'm smitten with a handsome crooner that I’ve spent only one night with. “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” am I.

Waiting for the encore, my seat mates had this to say, James: makes critics swoon, Dick: Peter Gallagher SINGS! and Jill: “It was real!”


Post show, we decided to grab a drink at the 95th Bar of the Signature Lounge (875 N. Michigan Avenue) to observe Chicago’s festive lights. Arriving on the 95th floor at the John Hancock Building, we are greeted by fried fish smells and a host directing us to the least desirable nook of the bar. We are scads away from the windows and any type of ambiance. Giving up on the 95th, we exit quickly and head over to NoMI (800 N. Michigan) at the Park Hyatt. NoMI offers the same expensive drinks and no view that the 95th had sans the fried fish smell. Plus, there are almonds and a classy vibe! The service is a little slow-paced and quiet… much like the ambiance. Since glasses of wine are poured directly from the bottles at the table, we are offered preliminary tastes. Nice touch! Once again, we would like an encore. Because it’s a Monday night, it’s time to give up on me and go home.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Becoming Ingrid Theatre Review: A Charming Tale of Transformation

Rubicon Theatre Project presents

Becoming Ingrid
At Stage Left Theatre
3408 N. Sheffield
Written by Liza Lentini
Directed by Jamie Stires
Thru December 5th

Although Rubicon Theatre Project’s production, Becoming Ingrid, has all the makings for a psychotic stage version of “Single White Female,” spoiler alert: no one gets a stiletto in his eye.  Lead character Christine is unhappy and bored with her life. She reads a book and becomes infatuated with Ingrid, the author. Finding out that the real-life Ingrid (April Taylor) is actually teaching a writing course in Scotland, Christine moves to Scotland, determined to become a writer as well. This obsession with Ingrid leads to her renting the adjacent apartment, collecting her discarded paper scraps, cutting off her hair, and enrolling in Ingrid’s class.

Check out the rest of the review at Chicago Theatre Blog

Carnival Nocturne Theatre Review: Quirky, Murky, Malarkey

The Silent Theatre Company presents

Carnival Nocturne
At DCA Storefront Theatre
Conceived and written by Gillian Hastings
Direct by Tonika Todorova
Thru December 20th

Words cannot express… because there are none. The Silent Theatre Company presents Carnival Nocturne, the story of a traveling circus plagued by a curse. Carnival Nocturne is the last of the three theatre company 2009 series produced by Chicago’s Department of Culture Affairs (DCA) Theatre and performed at the Store Front Theatre. The play is performed with the music accompaniment of a live band and minimal vocal narration. It’s a creative and challenging genre that is reliant on body language to convey the tale. There are no words to answer the questions that Carnival Nocturne provokes.

Check out the rest at Chicago Theater Blog

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Democracy Theatre Review: Elected Winner!

Eclipse Theatre Company presents

At the Greenhouse Theatre
Written by Romulus Linney
Directed by Steven Fedoruk
Thru December 20th

What’s the word for a well-written script being delivered by a multi-talented cast? Democracy! It’s Washington, DC. Rumors of scandal plague the President’s administration. At the center of high society, two women are scrutinized for their relationships with men of escalating power. A senator preaches morality. A minister lobbies for his viewpoint. Sound familiar? One of the many, funny things about Democracy is that it’s set in 1875 during President Ulysses Grant’s term. Playwright Romulus Linney sets his tale in a forgettable moment in our nation’s history. He adds relatable controversy, unique characters and humorous dialogue to create a memorable experience. The votes are in Eclipse Theatre Company has produced a timeless comedy in Democracy.

This cast is solid! Maybe it’s the added benefit of Linney’s funniest lines but it’s the quirky secondary characters that stand-out. An elderly widow Lydia Dudley’s (played by Barbara Roeder Harris) responses are unexpected. Whether it’s about sleeping in church or not wanting a man on top of her, Harris’ deadpan delivery adds to the comedy. Essie Baker (played by Cheri Chenoweth) is a manipulating, political player. Wrapped in a yellow and black bumble bee-like frock, Chenoweth’s sweet spoken threats are hysterical. Baron Jacobi (played by Larry Baldacci) and President Grant (played by Ron Butts) are fun exaggerated versions of stereotypes.

The costumes designed by Joshua D. Allard are fabulous! Instead of traditional drab attire constituted for the time period, Allard individualizes each character with flashes of color and texture. I admit the bumble bee get-up was initially obnoxiously distracting but so was Essie Baker. It works! I also was amused that the minister wore a dress and his female love interest was in pants. The only speed bump for me is either a slight blip in the pacing or lighting cue hesitation. Maybe both. On a couple occasions, the actors seemed to wait an extra few moments for their scene to light up.  But as Americans, we've learned to not worry about the moments of darkness in history because overall Democracy is good!  

The Democrat to my right, Bill described the show as humorous with good acting, writing and characters.


The Greenhouse Theatre district continues to be a challenging venue for a preshow dinner. If you’re satisfied with bar food, you’re set. There are a million Lincoln Park bars featuring burgers, beers and Bears fans. We decide to try the Persian and Mediterranean cuisine at Aperitif 21 (2221 N. Lincoln). We split the baked goat cheese and tomato appetizer followed by the chef’s special Fessejan. Surprisingly, the appetizer has additional exotic flavors to this Spanish tapas standard. It’s tasty! So is the Fessejan! It’s described as boneless chicken with crushed walnuts in a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce. Proceed with caution, it’s not boneless. We split a bottle of wine, an appetizer, and entrée. With tip, the bill is $70 which seems slightly more expensive than a neighborhood joint even with clothed napkins.

In Democratic fashion, we vote on a post show drink. Since it is Sunday night, “just going home” wins by a landslide.

Monday, November 16, 2009

All The Fame of Lofty Deeds Theatre Review: Banjo picking, top tapping, tumbleweed talking good time!

The House Theatre of Chicago presents

All The Fame of Lofty Deeds
At The Chopin Theatre
Written by Mark Guarino
Based on and featuring the music and artwork of Jon Langford
Directed by Tommy Rapley
Thru December 20th

Chugging whiskey, a forgotten country singer confesses his mistakes to a tumbleweed. The House Theatre of Chicago presents All The Fame of Lofty Deeds. The familiar cowboy skull and cross-guitars painting of Jon Langford is the basis for the character Lofty Deeds, an aging honky tonk singer. Playwright Mark Guarino utilizes the music and artwork of Jon Langford to create the play All The Fame of Lofty Deeds. As he faces his death, Lofty Deeds struggles with his past decisions. After trading love and family for life on the road under the exploitative pressures of record executives, Lofty is now haunted by the ghosts of musicians past.

Check out the rest of the review at The Chicago Theater Blog

Monday, November 9, 2009

When She Danced Theatre Review: Isadora, The Original Dancing Queen

Timeline Production presents

When She Danced
By Martin Sherman
Directed by Nick Bowling
Thru December 20th

From the first glimpse of a man’s naked ass to the hurling of a champagne glass, When She Danced captivates the audience in the indulgent passions of a celebrity. Set in 1923, Playwright Martin Sherman illustrates a day in the life of Isadora Duncan. Famous for introducing an unconventional modern dance form to society, Isadora is struggling to support the lavish lifestyle of her husband, Sergei Esenin, a Russian poet. Seventeen years younger and a raging alcoholic, Sergei speaks no English and is jealous of Isadora’s cult-like following. Grieving the deaths of her two children, Isadora wants to open a dance school in Italy “… something small for 500 to 1000 girls to study nothing….” To pitch her idea, she sells her furniture to buy champagne for a dinner party. Bad choices in men, grandiose future plans and drunken artistic passions, When She Danced is a party well-worth selling a piece a furniture to get to.

Russian, Greek, French, Italian, at first the multiple uses of language and accents is chaotic. Later, it’s just backdrop for the colorful eccentric life of Isadora. Jennifer Engstrom becomes Isadora Duncan. Draped in a blanket and unabashed about personal space, Engstrom intimately converses with old and new friends. During her “rehearsal,” Engstrom’s face is animated in emotion to the music but she never moves. Alexandros Eliopolos (played by Alejandro Cordoba), her accompanist tells her that he wants to see her dance. She replies, “I never rehearse my feet.” Timeline Company member Janet Ulrich Brooks plays Miss Belzer, a Russian translator. Delivering some of the most hysterical moments, Brooks is forced to translate Sergei’s (played by Patrick Mulvey) mean-spirited comments to her idol, Isadora. Even without an interpreter, Mulvey breaks the language barrier with his expressive energy.

Under the direction of Nick Bowling, the climax of the dinner party scene is particularly free spirited entertainment. The entire production is well-paced with spotlighted soliloquies of memories of seeing Isadora Duncan dancing. The one speed bump for me is both Engstrom and Mary Williamson (as Mary Desti) at times struggle with strained vocal chords most probably from frequent shouting matches. When She Danced is a sneak peak into the life of a woman who was infamous for her scandal on stage and off stage. Kind of a Brittany Spears meets Madonna type. Isadora Duncan was definitely a woman who danced to her own tune.

My dancing partner, Shawn says the show is an “enjoyable Timeline production”

To get in the mood for a matinee set in Paris, we choose the nearby La Creperie (2845 N. Clark) for brunch. This very popular hole-in-the wall has its own cult-like following. Brunch is bustling and we secure one of a few tables open. When in Paris… we order crepes! There are two categories to chose from: savory and sweet. I want to go with sweet. But denying my passion for a Grand Marnier soaked crepe, I go savory. I order the ham, swiss, and egg crepe. It arrives with bacon and potatoes. Quite the feast and much more than I can eat. It’s good but rich. I’m reminded why I haven’t been to La Creperie in a few years. I don’t really like crepes.

After spending a couple of hours watching Isadora chugging champagne, I wanted to channel my own inner artist over a glass of wine. On an unusually warm November evening, we chose Yoshi’s Cafe (3257 N. Halsted) so we could dine al fresco one last time in 2009. With chandelier lights hanging from the awning rafters, Yoshi’s patio is a perfect spot to enjoy a bottle of Pinot Noir and appetizers. The mussels are not only a hearty portion but individually an ample plump size. The Japanese pumpkin ravioli easily falls into my “all things pumpkin are wonderful” category and the cream sauce is worth asking for extra bread to sop up the last drop. Our server was friendly and efficient with wine and appetizer recommendations. The evening was perfectly pleasant. I didn’t get the pumpkin crème brulee. Or hurl a champagne glass against the wall, see a man's naked ass or create tumultuous drama. But hey, tomorrow is another day to get it right, Duncan style!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ernani Theatre Review: Masterful Execution of a Verdi Unknown

The Lyric Opera presents

At the Civic Opera House
By Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Based on Victor Hugo’s tragedy Hernani
Conducted by Renato Palumbo
Stage directed by Jose Maria Condemi
Thru November 23rd

Three men fight over the love of Elvira. (Luckily sung in Italian, it sounds more like Elvera so “My heart is on fire for Elvira…” momentarily leaves my head). The Lyric Opera presents Ernani, an opera written by Giuseppe Verdi and first performed in 1844. The Italian opera with projected English subtitles tells the tale of Elvira’s suitors: Ernani, Don Carlo-King of Spain and Don Ruy Gomez de Silva. The outlaw, Ernani storms Silva’s castle to abduct Elvira. He runs into the King and an Elvira abduction already in progress. Silva enters furious that his fiancé is being double abducted in his own home. In love with Ernani, Elvira escapes her marriage to Silva by becoming a hostage of the King’s. Because Silva keeps him from being arrested, Ernani pledges his life to him. In Ernani terms, this promise means Silva gets to decide when Ernani will die. So, after the King pardons everyone and orders Elvira to marry Ernani, who shows up as the wedding crasher? Silva appears and asks Ernani, “poison or dagger?” Ernani chooses a dagger, stabs himself and dies in Elvira’s arms.

Check out the rest of the review at The Chicago Theater Blog

Making her debut at the Lyric Opera, Jen describes her experience as, “an aesthetic wonder and a musical treat in a space where the people are as fun to look at as the venue.”

The Mercy Seat Theatre Review: 9/12 Attacks On The Homefront

Profiles Theatre presents

The Mercy Seat
Written by Neil LaBute
Directed by Joe Jahraus

9/11 is an unforgettable day. The next day, not so much! Although no one ever asks “where were you on 9/12?” that is the chosen setting for Profile Theatre’s production of The Mercy Seat. Among the ruins of the 2001 terrorists’ attacks, a couple contemplates their survival. Ben and Abby have been having an affair for three years. Ben is married with two kids. Abby is his boss. Ben wants to utilize the tragedy’s chaos for him and Abby to run away together to the Bahamas. Choosing not to answer his continuously ringing cell phone, Ben is allowing his family to assume he is dead. He is sparing his family the pain of his betrayal and permitting them to grieve a hero. This infuriates Abby. The 9/12 attacks in a New York City loft are ninety minutes of implosions.

Playwright Neil LaBute dumps you in the middle of the wreckage of Abby and Ben’s lives to sift through the remnants for salvageables. Darrell Cox (Ben) and Cheryl Graeff (Abby) are uncomfortably natural in their portrayal of a bickering couple. Their quarreling is petty at times picking on each other’s choice of words like “duly noted” and “okay.” The nit-picking rages into squirming in your seat, mean spirited intimate with, “for three years, you’ve never looked me in the eyes when we’ve screwed.” Do they love each other enough to leave their lives and run away together? Playwright Neil LaBute fully develops two very human characters, exposes their weaknesses and flaws, places them at a fragile crossroads and forces them to decide their fate. Cox and Graeff are Ben and Abby! Love each other? Sometimes it doesn’t even seem they like each other! The close proximity of the audience to stage is the fly on the wall experience of the not so pretty but completely real moments in a relationship. Feeling like I’m eavesdropping, more than once “I shouldn’t be watching this” crosses my mind. But just like re-watching the plane hit the second tower, I continue to gaze on the spectacle hoping for a positive outcome.

Besides masterfully written dialogue and acting that is so good it doesn’t seem like acting, I loved The Mercy Seat's little details to place you back in 9/11 history. Abby arrives at her apartment masked and covered in dust. The dust is so authentic in the theatre that Cox has a coughing fit and my contacts dry out. The television on the set is showing CNN coverage of the two towers collapsing. It’s a strong reminder that for days Americans were glued to televisions watching the footage over and over in disbelief. The unprecedented tragic events on 9/11 sent the world into a bewildered tailspin. To be in the epicenter of the craziness, New Yorkers were in the mercy seat. How many of them took the opportunity to walk away from their so-so lives to start an okay life somewhere else? As Ben says to Abby, “being just okay is good enough.”

The survivor to my left, Shawn says, “the acting is sublime!”


Pre-show, I dine with Bill and Steve at Fornello’s (1011 W. Irving Park). Escaping yet another rainy, gloomy Chicago evening, Fornello’s is a cozy oasis that greets you with the homey smells of an open fire and Italian cooking. Nick, doing double duty as bartender and server, enthusiastically recommends a hearty red wine, asparagus salad, pumpkin ravioli and tilapia. We put ourselves at Nick’s mercy and order up all his recommendations to split. The summer salad, rich pasta and sautéed fish are a bit of a mismatch. But much like my dinner companions, individually served it’s a satisfying dish. Together, it becomes a memorable explosion of flavors that will not be denied. Deciding against the dark content of The Mercy Seat, the guys drop me at the theatre door to join Shawn. Originally, I thought this play was called “Mercy Date” now I realize it was just foreshadowing of my evening’s role.

Less than a block away from Profiles Theatre is The Bar on Buena (910 W. Buena). Post show, we head over. From the outside, it looks closed. Opening the door, it’s like a neighborhood block party. Even with the crowd, Shawn and I stalk and secure two comfortable armed chairs. It’s a little noisy but that adds to the festive atmosphere. I loved the ambiance of this place. The service was just okay, but being just okay is good enough. Not really but it’s not so tragic that 10/29 will become an unforgettable day

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

These Shining Lives Theatre Review: Find Time To See It!

These Shining Lives
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
at the Raven Theatre
October 25, 2009

Catherine is elated to be starting a new job painting 100+ watches a day at 8 cents a watch. Time is her friend? Or is it? Rivendell Theatre Ensemble remounts its critically acclaimed and Jeff Award nominated These Shining Lives. Directed by Rachel Walshe,These Shining Lives is the true story of four of the many women who work at the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Illinois in the 1920’s. Unaware of the risk, these workers paint the glow-in-the-dark faces on watches utilizing radium. Women are voting, smoking in public and joining the workforce. Having a well-paying job in a challenging economy brings independence and validation. Later, suspecting that something isn’t quite right, the women struggle to not lose the freedom, security and camaraderie of employment. These Shining Lives uses a tragedy in history to illustrate the strong bonds of marriage and friendship.

Check out the rest of the review at The Chicago Theater Blog

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Man of La Mancha Theatre Review: The Man is a Woman!

Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents

Man of La Mancha
At No Exit Café
Book by Dale Wasserman
Music by Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by Joe Darion
Directed by David Heimann
Thru November 22, 2009

With a plunger for a sword and a bowl for a helmet, Cervantes proclaims he is the knight, Don Quixote. Sounds crazy? Man of La Mancha is set in a mental institution. The newest inmate at the asylum, Cervantes must convince a jury of his peers that he is not crazy. Man of La Mancha is a play within a play. Don Quixote tells his tales of slaying dragons (windmills), storming castles (the local inn) and rescuing a lady in distress (the local whore) to prove his identity. From the man (Dale Wasserman), who penned One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the man (and No Exit Café owner Michael James), whose father first produced the 1965 Broadway version, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents the musical starring a woman as the Man of La Mancha.

Check out the rest at Chicago Theater Blog

Heroes Theatre Review: All Star Salute


Presented by Remy Bumppo
At the Greenhouse Theatre Center
Written by Gerald Sibleyras
Translated by Tom Stoppard
Directed by James Bohnen
Thru November 29th

A head of shrapnel, gimp leg and derangement have never been funnier. Remy Bumppo’s Heroes bring three World War I vets together for convalescent camaraderie. Set in an old soldier home, our heroes amuse each other with tales of nun slapping, terrace invasion defense strategies and escape plans with a 200 pound dog statue in tow. It’s not your grandpa’s war show about reliving the glory days of WW I. Instead, Heroes is about three outcasts (four if you count the dog) banning together in united tolerance for the final battle, old age.

Check out the rest at Chicago Theatre Blog

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mistakes Were Made Theatre Review: Michael Shannon's Performance is Exhausting!

A Red Orchid Theatre presents
By Craig Wright
Directed by Dexter Bullard
October 22, 2009

Things have to happen for something to occur” is a line from the script that sums up perfectly Mistakes Were Made. Felix Artifex (played by Michael Shannon) is the middleman juggling the high maintenance needs of an actor, playwright, agent and others in an effort to produce a fictitious play entitled “Mistakes Were Made.” Throughout his multi-tasking job, he is also fretting about his non-responsive ex. The twist, in this A Red Orchid Theatre production, is all the interaction is done over the telephone. The audience is eavesdropping on a one-sided conversation to determine what is happening.

With only the aid of a primarily offstage receptionist and a rubber fish, Michael Shannon is a one man show. Shannon does a phenomenal job! For an hour and forty-five minutes (no intermission), he rants on. Sprint transitioning from call to call, Shannon transforms his double speak to each caller’s agenda. At the end of the show, Shannon looks exhausted and is dripping in sweat. I loved him in Revolutionary Road which prompted me to buy tickets to Mistakes Were Made. No one plays psychotic on film or on stage better than Michael Shannon.

Mistakes Were Made!? The theatre is kept at an Artic chill. I’m not sure if it is for Shannon’s high energy performance or to keep the audience awake. Things have to happen for something to occur. Craig Wright’s script is innovative and witty. Unfortunately without some interactive action on stage, the audience can’t sustain the concentration level for almost two hours to understand the full story from the one-sided delivery. There are heads a noddin’ throughout the audience. I’m embarrassed to admit it but I might have zoned out once… or four times. The other speed bump is the theatre configuration. In the lobby, I overhear a box office person say there were only ten seats left and that includes “the ones that are partially obstructed.” Come on now! It’s a mistake to have any seat partially obstructed. I can’t decide if the set design by Tom Burch (which is a perfect replication of a producer’s office) is at fault or the theatre space is just clunky.

My gal pal sidekick, Jen described the show as intense (for actor and audience), imaginative and involved.

Pre-preshow, I wander into Eivissa (1531 N. Wells Street) right next door to the theatre. As luck would have it, they are hosting a grand opening special of sangria and tapas for $10 between 6pm – 8pm. My mistake is I’ve been mustering a sushi craving all day in relation to my pending dinner plans. Steph, the very friendly bartender, suggests a nice and inexpensive roja. My quiet bar refuge from the cold, rainy night is interrupted as the masses appear for tonight’s festivities. One woman orders two Sangrias for herself and the empty bar stool between us. She explains to me it’s her “pretend boyfriend.” (Gal, I’ve gone out with him, he’s no prize!) Before I leave, Steph slips me a card with 10% off of my next visit. She wants me to try the food. Things have to happen for something to occur. Oh, I’ll be back. I love a discount or coupon.

Speaking of coupons, I meet up with Jen at Kamahachi (1400 N. Wells). It wasn’t a mistake to turn down the free tapas because the sushi was delicious and bountiful. I started with a Japanese pumpkin soup. Hot, creamy and rich, the soup was a perfect starter. We split three rolls including the turtle roll. Having purchased a $50 gift certificate for $20 through Groupon, our 3 rolls, 2 soups and 1 bottle of wine meal was $14.50 each. (Of course, we tipped on the full amount because we aren’t savages.) Things have to happen for something to occur. I haven’t been to Kamahachi in awhile but I’ll be back. Jen’s got three more groupons!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Votes for Women! Theatre Review: We've Come A Long Way Baby!

ShawChicago presents:

Votes for Women!
by Elizabeth Robins
directed by Robert Scogin
thru November 9, 2009

Inadequate health care coverage, conservatives versus liberals, rumors of a politician’s past sexual indiscretion? No, Votes for Women! isn’t the story of Hillary Clinton’s rise to power. In fact, actress and playwright Elizabeth Robins wrote the work over a hundred years ago. Set in England in 1907, Votes for Women is about a naïve heiress introduced to the Suffragettes’ movement by the former lover of her political fiancé. ShawChicago’s production is a 100-year anniversary replication of Votes for Women! being introduced to Chicago.

My sister suffragette J.J. describes the show as “educational but long.”

For the rest of the review, click on Chicago Theater Blog

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Carpenter's Halloween Theatre Review: A Real Treat!

Carpenter’s Halloween
The Scooty & Jojo Show
At Mary’s Attic
Chicago, Illinois
October 17, 2009

Light their way when the darkness surrounds them… The beginning narration of a story about a beast or a line from a 1970’s pop song? Carpenter’s Halloween re-imagines John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween movie as a musical. The Scooty & Jojo Show use the lyrics of Karen and Richard Carpenter to tell the tale of Michael Myer’s psycho ward escape and killing spree homecoming. The results… the top of the world looking down on creation! Carpenter’s Halloween is a hilarious slasher reproduction.

Check out the rest at Chicago Theatre Blog

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fedra Theatre Review: Not Feeling The Love!


Lookingglass Theatre
Chicago, Illinois
October 14, 2009

She loves him but he loves somebody else. She just can’t win! Oh My Afrodite, love stinks! Based on the Greek mythology Phredra, Fedra is set in future Haiti. The queen, Fedra is in love with her stepson, Hippolytus. After her husband, Thesus, is assumed killed in a plane crash, Fedra hits on Hippo. Hippo rejects the pass because Fedra’s timing is horrific plus he loves political prisoner Aricia. When Theseus returns from the dead, Fedra tells him Hippo raped her. Curses! It’s a Greek tragedy!

OMA! I wanted to love Fedra, but Afrodite was against me and I only liked it. Starring and written by J. Nicole Brooks (Fedra), the acting was a little over the top and the writing was little under the bottom. The combination made for some overly dramatic clichés. Using what I like to call an “opera voice” to wail emotion is too gimmicky. So, is a twitchy eye to symbolize someone's love. “Your eye is twitching therefore you must love Aricia!” (,said in an opera voice.) Come on! My eye twitching means I’ve had too much coffee not that I’m in love with the guy at Starbucks. Brooks’ best Fedra moments were the Afrodite (Tamberla Perry) interactions, particularly the scene in which Brooks is paralyzed and holding herself up with one arm. (Nice guns, Fedra!) Was it a curse from the gods? I really did love Perry as the sassy diety, Afrodite. The spell encompassed Michael Salinas (Theramenes) too. I can’t help but compare Salinas’ recent stint in Hollowlands to his current understated but commanding performance. OMA, the boy’s got range!

Afrodite also allowed me to love the costumes and set. Alison Siple displayed a range of costumes with a modern twist. From the god to the queen to the political prisoner, I loved seeing that future fashion is flowy fun paired with high tops. Water was an interesting element to the set design by Meghan Raham. Dripping from the ceiling and a pool on stage, water was a prop used by the actors to summon the gods and for redemption. Kudos to the actors for getting in the pool fully clothed every show. OMA! Wet shoes stink!

Not feeling the love, Bill described it as dramatic, mediocre acting, and amateurish.

In the spirit of the economic times, Bill scrounged up Corner Bakery gift cards to treat for a pre-show dinner. On a cold, dark, rainy Chicago night, the Corner Bakery (676 N. St. Clair) was a home baked refuge. Cookies everywhere! It was love at first sight with a snickerdoodle. And because Bill treats me like a queen, he told me I could get a cookie with my dinner. Everything was going perfectly as we ordered a bounty of food that totaled $19.76. And then… curses! The cashier denied the gift cards as invalid since the merger. Always the diplomat, Bill pointed out the gift cards were still featured on the website. The manager came over to deny us as well. Greek tragedy! Always willing to be the crazy queen, I canceled our order and stormed off. OMA! Where’s the love, Corner Bakery?

Two blocks away within the Omni Hotel, we found redemption at the 676 Lounge (676 N. Michigan). Even though we basically repeated our order of a wrap and salad to split, 676 gave us something that Corner Bakery couldn’t….no not love, wine. 676 only kinda liked us but that could be forgiven with a nice shiraz. The sole bartender was serving a bustling after work crowd with the “help” or more like “hindrance” of a slow moving manager. The arugula and apple salad combined perfectly with the barbecue chicken wrap. Although the bill was over four times what Corner Bakery’s would have been, we left 676 cookieless but with dignity intact.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kill The Old Torture Their Young Theatre Review: What Happened?

Kill The Old Torture Their Young

Steep Theatre
Chicago, Illinois
October 9, 2009

A documentary filmmaker returns to his hometown to shoot a movie. I was intrigued by the promising premise for Kill The Old Torture Their Young. Having fallen smitten with Steep Theatre during its production of Hollowlands, I had high expectations for our second date, Kill The Old Torture Their Young. I grew up in a town brimming with oddities and quirky characters. Every time I go home for a holiday, I feel like I’m a documentary filmmaker trying to see my pa-dunky youth through my big city lens. Come on! Anybody returning to a childhood home tries to reconstruct the subplots of their existence to determine what would have been if they had connected the dots differently. The subject matter is relatable, intriguing and a platform for hilarity. So, Torture, what happened?

"I don't like when somebody comes up to me the next day and says, 'Hey, man, I saw your play. It touched me; I cried.’ I like it when a guy comes up to me a week later and says, ‘Hey, man, I saw your
play... what happened?’" – Jeff in the movie Tootsie

What happened? Well, you can pick the hottest restaurant in town but if the food and service are lacking, it’s sure to kill the second date. Playwright David Harrower grew up in Edinburgh so maybe his disjointed script doesn’t translate well into English. Director Kathryn Walsh (no relation) staged the play in a long linear strip with two audience groupings facing each other. An initially interesting choice which proves unnecessary and distracting as characters deliver complete scenes with their back to half of the theatre. Throughout a torturous second date, you desperately look for some reason to even consider a third. Like fresh breath, good kisser, eats with his mouth closed, Torture produces some pockets of hope. Jim Poole (Steven) and Julia Siple (Heather) as characters, they struggle with mediocre lives and as actors, they struggle with mediocre material. Dereck Garner (Rock Star) and James Allen (Birdwatcher) entertain in their separate roles and as play crashers. Play crashers? You know characters that aren’t a part of the plot but awkwardly show up anyway to try to liven it up.

I’m not breaking up with Steep Theatre over Kill The Old Torture Their Young. In any progressive relationship, you need the opportunity to experiment and try new things. But Steep, believe me when I say, “Return to Love Canal is not my idea of the tunnel of love.”

My Steep Theatre matchmaker, Tom described the show as fragmented, modern, and pointless.

I was to meet Tom for dinner at Argyle and Sheridan. I remembered from the e-mail the restaurant started with Pho X---. Arriving on Argyle, I realized there were two choices across the street from each other: Pho Xe Lua and Pho Xua. A quick call to Tom for clarification. Knowing my pronunciation and directional barriers, Tom told me to go to the one with orange chairs. Pho Xua (1020 W. Argyle) had an extensive menu. We started with a popular appetizer that consisted of seasoned beef wrapped in betel (I was assured not bugs) leaves. I ordered a noodle dish with pork and Tom got the ginger marinated lamb. Huge portions, BYOB and tasty!

Post show, we crossed the street to try out Ollie’s Lounge (1064 W. Berwyn). We scored the perfect seats for people watching. The house specialty, pineapple juice and rum, seemed a quirky choice for the urban jamming bar. The bouncer was an enthusiastic woman who carded us and greeted everybody else with a hug. The barback was a kind, grandma type who couldn’t recommend a drink because she stopped drinking years ago. A plethora of interesting characters: guy playing pool with a feather in his hat, stocking capped hipster unable to blend in, voluptuous woman spilling drinks and out of her blouse. Ollie’s was entertaining! As we were leaving, the bouncer invited us back on the last Saturday in November for her birthday pajama party. David Harrower, mark your calendar for a research expedition!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Million Dollar Quartet Theatre Review: Rocks Out!

Million Dollar Quartet

Apollo Theatre
Chicago, Illinois
September 30, 2009

So did you hear the one about Elvis walking into a music studio to jam with Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis? It really happened and the story has been re-imagined in Million Dollar Quartet. Yes, it was a foursome on that December 1956 afternoon. Carl Perkins was there too. (No offense to his rockabilly kin but I had to google Carl later.) The show illustrates how Sun Records owner, Sam Phillips was the catalyst in launching new musical careers from his tiny Memphis studio.

The music is the star of the show. Apollo Theatre has fantastic acoustics. So much so, Tom and I discussed whether or not it was pre-recorded and lip synced. The cast delivers high energy performances and channels the legends with spooky accuracy. Levi Kreis (Jerry Lee Lewis) is over the top flamboyant with acrobatic piano stunts. Eddie Clendening (Elvis) croons, scowls and shakes his leg with King-like precision. Sean Sullivan (Johnny Cash) belts out a soulful song rendition then mumbles his speaking parts much like the humble man in black. Rob Lyons (Carl Perkins) plays a mean guitar just like… I just don’t know if it was an accurate depiction of Carl. (I thought Carl Perkins narrated Wild Kingdom but that was Marlon.) A fifth character Dyanne – Elvis’ girlfriend (Kelly Lamont) brings harmony and a Marilyn Monroe/Peggy Lee vampness to level out the testosterone playground.

I really enjoyed the music and learning about the early roots of these musicians. Million Dollar Quartet has a running time of 1 hour and 50 minutes, no intermission. This wouldn’t usually bother me especially when experiencing a fast paced performance. It did affect the bus crowd from the suburbs who seemed to struggle throughout the performance to find an exit. It was distracting as if it was part of the show in a bizarre synchronization number. One person would return prompting another to rise and begin a lap around a section of seats before stumbling on a path out. I have a solution for the weak bladdered.  Million Dollar Quartet could shave off some time with digital prompters flashing “Hold Your Applause.” There are 21 musical numbers in the show. Each song is interrupted at least once for narration, sometimes 2-3 times. The audience does not need to clap after every break in the movement. Of course, this is my ongoing pet peeve. I want to clap at the end of the show only or if there is a magnificent aria. But not at the conclusion of every song and definitely not 1-3 times for the same song. I’m not so concerned that someone not step on my blue suede shoes (a little nod out to my boy Carl). I just don’t want chapped hands.

Feeling the beat, Tom described the show as amplified, country-fried, and personified.


Pre-show, we went to Grand Central (950 W. Wrightwood). Tom told me the locale origins were of a punk and grungy dance club. Those remains have disappeared. Grand Central is a dressed up sports bar adorned with multiple stain glass light fixtures and flat screen televisions. The best part was the evening specials: $3 drafts, $3 Sangria and $3 quesadilla. A Guinness and the pulled pork quesadilla, my dinner was $6! O.K., it was $9 because I had a second Guinness but still WAHOO!!! Enjoy this economy stimulus dinner but tip on the original amount.

Post show, we did a glance over at Grand Central which had gone from a quiet pre-theatre quartet to a noisy concert crowd. $3 drafts, undoubtedly! We opted to call it a school night and head home so I could google Carl Perkins. (Carl Perkins later played in Johnny Cash’s band for ten years and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Good for you, Carl!)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yeast Nation Theatre Review: Needs Salt... flour, sugar, butter, etc.

Yeast Nation (The Triumph of Life)

American Theatre Company
Chicago, Illinois
September 25, 2009

In the very beginning, there was yeast. In fact, a whole world of yeast. Yeast Nation (The Triumph of Life) tells the story of the beginning of creation. For the religious, this play is about the first second of the first minute of Day 1, God created yeast. For the scientific, remember that evolution chart showing monkeys to apes to humans walking? This play is miles to the left of that first monkey depicted. From the creators of Urinetown, Yeast Nation is a musical about a group of microorganisms battling an anti-stasis movement. Whereas I do care about and can relate to the trials and tribulations of urine, I only am concerned about yeast when it’s missing from bread.

I wanted to care! Yeast Nation had all the storylines I love. Romeo and Juliet. Camelot. Ten Things I Hate About You. Put those plots in the middle ages or modern day, I’m engaged. Tell the tale from the initial Genesis moment, I struggle to be interested. Dress it up in glow in the dark ponchos with unappealing belly bulges or hot pink tight bodysuits with spiky things, I get distracted. Throw in a myriad of words like “fission” and “strictures,” I lose interest just as if it’s 2nd period biology all over again.

When I blocked out the science lesson, I could enjoy the multi-talented performances. Barbara Robertson (the unnamed) was a standout as a wise old woman breaking the 4th wall trying to relate the struggles of yeast to challenges of audience members. Unfortunately for me, that fission wasn’t happening. Star crossed lovers, Andrew Keltz (second) and Melanie Brezill (sweet), sang beautifully together. I wanted to root for them to get together in the end. But I didn’t care, they weren’t human. What do you call the people that hate on yeast? But I don’t really hate yeast, I just don’t want to consume it by itself. Although the singing and acting talent were there, Yeast Nation is missing some key ingredients to make it delicious.

The evolved microorganism to my right, Dick called it a “crazy staircase musical!”


Before the show, we went to Mrs. Murphy’s (3905 N. Lincoln) for the celebration of my favorite yeast, Guinness (and because I had a $25 coupon from a junk mail booklet). Mrs. M’s is offering a three-course Guinness inspired meal in honor of the 250th Anniversary for $25. Dick opted for this option topped off with a Guinness ice cream float. I went with the fish and chips salad. Clever idea but too much onion for my taste. The very friendly Bridget took care of us and ensured we made our curtain on time.

Post show, we headed to Tiny Lounge (4352 N. Leavitt). Unlike the original art deco version under the Addison brown line stop, Tiny Lounge has evolved into a contemporary, sleek modern establishment. The place was packed but we scored a table on the patio with the assistance of the owner. I enjoyed a hearty Lebanon red and Dick ordered up his favorite dirty martini with blue cheese olives. While reflecting on his own stasis, Dick was momentarily spooked by a table of cougars nearby. I assured him he was too old to be nervous about these highly evolved microorganisms. I did get a chuckle as I departed past their table and their candidiasis discussion. I realized I do care about the absence or presence of yeast just not the musical story of it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Poseidon! An Upsidedown Musical Theatre Review: Tragic Success

Poseidon! An Upsidedown Musical

Hell in a Handbag Productions
The Chopin Theatre
Chicago, Illinois
September 24, 2009

When the first wave hit me, I was a little disoriented. Someone’s living room, prominence of the nurse and Indian lady characters, and the female lead in a magenta polyester jumpsuit? I had been told to re-watch The Poseidon Adventure (TPA) to enhance my enjoyment of Poseidon! An Upsidedown Musical. But unlike the poor unfortunate souls that didn’t listen to Reverend Scott, I was not doomed by my lack of a current TPA fix. I treaded water initially taking in the two storylines: TPA 1972 and the present day Poseidonites paying homage to TPA at a costume party. Well before the Poseidon capsized, I took the plunge and escaped into a warped version of a childhood memory.

Did you did you did you did you did you did you…. (bazillion more times) like his music? Yes, David Cerda, I didn’t just like… I loved your music, your play and even your magenta polyester jumpsuit. Well, maybe I just liked the jumpsuit. “ABC, 1, 2, 3, potpourri…” anything Ed Jones (Nonnie) uttered was laugh out loud hysterical. Elizabeth Lesinski (Linda), Kevin Grubb (Mike) and Derek Czaplewski (Reverend) channeled fantastically exaggerated versions of TPA originals. In Just Panties (what else do I need?) I was fearful that Linda DID NEED a little extra fabric to harness her torpedoes. The absolute star of the show is the capsize of the Poseidon. The phenomenal choreography of TPA characters and Poseidonite party goers delivers non-stop laughter.

After a very respectable 4 month summer run, Poseidon! An Upsidedown Musical closes this weekend.
Fans of TPA 1972, closeted poseidonites, people living disastrous lives, go see it! Take your friend that hates on life right now and plunge in! One of my favorite things about the show was Steve, who falls asleep at most plays, couldn’t stop laughing! We are talking giggles to chuckles to blown-out hysteria. If you can’t remember the last time you laughed out loud, your weekend furlough needs to include Poseidon! An Upsidedown Musical!

Poseidonites along for the journey summed it up as… Ellen – “was in tears;” Scubi – “side splitting fun;” Steve – “doubled over laughing;” Shawn – “Yes, I did;” and James – “Klassic Komedy Kitsch.”


Pre-show activity, as defined by James, is a production in itself. Scene 1, we crash an open house (3750 LSD, Unit 4H). Spacious two bedroom condo for $250K served with a lovely cabernet and blue cheese. Scene 2, we dine al fresco at Metro Pizza (2534 W. Division). Cheap slices of freshly made pizza! I highly recommend the rosemary potato pizza (and I don’t even like potatoes!) Scene 3, we race to Atomic Sketch at Evil Olive (1551 W. Division). On the last Thursday of the month, Atomic Sketch features artists creating and selling art. The host bar, Evil Olive, serves up its house specialty Templeton Rye as guests mingle among the artists and their work. Such a great opportunity to experience and support local artists, I’m repeating Scene 3 at my earliest convenience.

After the show, a booth at Emmett’s (corner of Halsted, Grand, Milwaukee) was the perfect locale to somber up over Guinness and nachos. The historical bar on Chicago’s west side had an eclectic selection of music within an old school pub ambiance. Maybe it was reliving TPA childhood memory, being slathered in cheese dripping nachos or getting somber too quickly but I couldn’t catch the wave at Emmett’s. I left a partially drank Guinness and headed home, not quite a disastrous ending but definitely looking forward to the morning after.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

History Boys Review: I'm Dropping the Class

History Boys
Timeline Theatre
September 18, 2009
Chicago, Illinois

Something happens and changes the course of events. This definition of history is repeatedly told to the audience during History Boys. Set in the 1980’s at a boys’ school in Northern England, History Boys writes history with a tale of a teacher fondling his students, a boy kissing another boy in front of his classmates, and a student seducing his professor. I went to school in the 80’s. Never would a group of boys joke about being fondled by a teacher. Nor would the hot guy kiss the loser guy in front of his classmates. Mr. Rethlake, Mr. Haas, Sister Katherine, nobody wanted to have sex with the history teachers …or any of the teachers. It didn’t happen.

So what happened? For me, it started with the script. Playwright Alan Bennett gets a D. He needs to shave off at least one hour from the three hour production. I get that it’s set in a school but don’t lecture at me! And if I’m not getting quizzed, no need to have the characters repeat and repeat the dialogue. Director Alan Bennett gets a C. Pick up the pace and drop the audio-visual aids. Scenic designer Brian Sidney Bembridge gets an A. Creating individualized dorm rooms as background gives the play a nonchalant depth. The boys collectively get Bs. There is a wonderful camaraderie when they are on stage together. I, also, appreciate that it must be difficult to leave the spotlight and become scenery for the duration. Alex Weisman gets an A for a solid performance as Posner (and an A+ for looking like Bill’s love child). Will Allan (Scripps) also gets an A for accent alone. And Joel Gross (Dakin), I’d like to see you after class to discuss your grade.

The boys in the back of the room summed it up as… Dick: “British ‘No Doubt’”, Bill: “I didn’t like” and James: “Too much hype!”


Avenue Tavern (2916 N. Broadway) was the dining choice for Dick and me. The bartender/server was not overly friendly. Perhaps “annoyed” is the best descriptor. Of course, he was responsible for the patio and the bar so I’m giving him a C. Not great, not horrid… the Avenue theme song. I was told to be careful that my barbecue chicken pizza was very hot. Sure, the plate was very hot, the pizza was not. I love BBQ but the pizza was drenched in it. Food was a C. Because we were going to the play, we offered the rest of our BBQ sauce… I mean pizza… to the boys at the next table. We made their day so I give us an A for congeniality.

From the people who brought you Ping Pong and Wakamono, Wang’s (3317 N. Broadway) is a fairly new bar in Lakeview. Lavishly adorned in an Asian motif, the tiny space boasts a cozy and hip vibe. Initially, the D.J. seems overpowering for a place the size of a large walk-in closet. But then something happens, you score a table by the open window, sip on a ginger martini, chair dance to the music, it becomes that moment. The moment that changes the course of events. The moment you realize History Boys is history. Wang’s gets an A+!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Spectacle 09 Theatre Review: A Frenzy of Frivolous Fun!

Spectacle 09: Last of My Species The Fearless Songs of Laarna Cortaan

Redmoon Theatre at
Belmont Harbor

Chicago, Illinois
September 10, 2009

For just three more days, a chunk of Belmont Harbor will remain transformed into the backdrop for Spectacle 09: Last of My Species The Fearless Songs of Laarna Cortaan. Redmoon’s very ambitious production is put up in a public park between the bike path and the cruising rocks. Setting up extensive lighting and sound equipment plus choreographing 60+ actors all within a wide open space, Redmoon creates what is best described and named a SPECTACLE for Chicago’s amusement.

Oversized big red shoe cut-outs, cymbal hats, seussical-type vehicles, it’s hard for me to let go and just enjoy the whimsy. I’m always looking for the point and some solid dialogue to engage me in a performance. (It’s why it takes me at least two days to actually BE on vacation and why I didn’t love Wall-E like the rest of the world!) Redmoon is always about a frenzy of frivolous fun. Spectacle 09, in particular, beckons the audience to escape from job pressures and the economy for 75 minutes and remember our childhood delight pretending a cardboard cutout was a playable violin. The last fifteen minutes were my favorite! A man and woman dancing a courtship ritual, two stories off the ground. Ariel acrobatics from a suspension ladder complete with long flowing drapes. Gorgeous!

Cancel your plans this weekend and go experience Spectacle 09! Tickets are $15. I may not know you, but I’m pretty certain you wouldn’t be doing anything as satisfying as Spectacle 09 at that price point. Here are some pointers to make your show more enjoyable:

1. Do not sit on the bleachers! Even sitting on cute little Redmoon pads, the bleachers are uncomfortable.
2. Arrive early with a blanket, wine and nibbles. Arrange a picnic area in front of the bleachers.
3. Soak yourself in insect repellant. Although I really didn’t get bitten, with the hordes of mosquitoes, I would have felt more secure if I knew I was repelling.
4. Let go! For 75 minutes forget that you hate your job, your life, your hair and just let the frenzy of frivolous fun sweep over you!

My bleacher buddy Bill announced, “Best Redmoon production I’ve ever seen!”


Sipping champagne at Belmont Harbor watching the sailboats on a beautiful September evening at dusk, this has to be my favorite pre-show drink ever! A guest of one of the board members, I tried the almond infused champagne (smelled great, too sweet) and settled into a nice Brut. Redmoon roped off the area closest to the lake and brought in couches and comfy chairs as a pre-show champagne and cheesecake fundraiser. Except for the moment when a jogger tried to crash the soirée, the serenity of the hour was a perfect transition from work to theatre.

Post show, we were introduced to a new BYOB Mexican tapas place: Chilam Belam (3023 N. Broadway) at Steve’s suggestion. The name means an awakening of consciousness and spirituality, it’s not the end, it’s a new cycle of naturalism and peace. Love that! We were greeted by the owner and served by her brother. The underground cozy nook of a place was packed out. Instead of waiting for a table, we arranged ourselves around the bar and enjoyed five small plates from guacamole to hanger steak. The food and service were stellar! The owner and her brother checked on us numerous times to ensure our experience was optimal. So, why then in a place harboring an awakening of spirituality and peace would I cause my dinner companions to scurry home to shots of Pepto Bismal? Because having eventually allowed myself to let go and feel the whimsy, by the end of dinner, reality was back and I realized I still hate my hair. Life imitating art. I became Spectacle 09: The Sequel.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Under Milk Wood: Listen Up!

Under Milk Wood
Caffeine Theatre at the
Storefront Theatre
Chicago, Illinois
September 3, 2009

Husband plotting his wife’s murder, blind sea captain reminiscing with his favorite whore ghost, dead woman henpecking both of her dead husbands, Under Milk Wood is a story of the quirky residents, living and dead, of a small Welsh town. It’s Northern Exposure without the snow. Town gossip navigates you through a “day in the life of” of Llareggub (backwards spells “bugger all”).

Magnificent ensemble cast, truly an “ensemble” performing in anonymity. The program lists all the actors but without headshots or assigned parts. Each actor is listed just as a “voice.” Other than saying things like; “the red head that looked like a cheerful version of Maggie Gyllenhaal” or “the girl with the good singing voice” or “the old guy” or “the other old guy,” I was forced to consider the cast only collectively. Nine actors effectively transform into 47 different characters (I didn’t count them but that’s how the show is promoted) with minimal props. It’s the Clark Kent – Superman thing but better. Already speaking with a Welsh accent, the actor tweaks the dialect a hint puts on glasses and “voila” transforms from a whore to uptight shrew. I’ve seen it done off stage but never with accents and always with a chaser.

Under Milk Wood was entertaining! The cast guides you through a maze of dreams and desires as shopkeepers, school kids and even cows (and a cute puppy). FASCINATING! There were a few speed bumps for me. Author Dylan Thomas wrote it originally as a radio play in the early 1950’s. (He died before its first production after drinking 18 whiskeys, becoming #48 of his quirky characters.) It’s very auditory, leading to some confusion initially, especially when combined with accents and a seussical-kind of language: Morgan Organ and Big-headed Bessie. My recommendation either see it more than once or Wikipedia it to get the plethora of characters straight. I’m torn. Let me know what you decide.

The voice to my right, Bill, gave the show these descriptors: cast great, Shakespearean prose and quick-paced.


Feeling adventurous, I tried the vegan option at Ecalpym before the show. It was a pretty tasty grilled vegetable pizza. Of course, I insisted on the addition of cheese which made all the difference. Vegans really should loosen up on the no cheese commandment. They are so missing out. I don’t go to Ecalpym for the food… I’ve certainly had better. I go for the view of the lake and the ability to get in and out, in time to make a 7:30 curtain.

Petterino’s (150 N. Dearborn) is absolutely THE perfect place for an after show drink. The bar is adorned with sketches of actor caricatures and stage playbills. It’s Chicago’s theatre archives in a bar that can be both cozy and contemporary. Even at the peak of a bustling theatre season surrounded by cocktail chatter, you can still enjoy an intimate drink with a friend. (Unless that friend is Bill, whose wine spilling incident breaks the tranquility.) Former dentist (probably with glasses) turned bartender, Eddie transforms a loud bar into a neighborhood pub. Warmly greeting guests and securing them a seat in a seemingly packed establishment, Eddie is one of the best bartenders in our quirky little city. He pours the wine, shares the latest theater gossip and when necessary mops up after the town drunk.

Friday, August 28, 2009

ALL MY SONS: Americana Mama Drama

All My Sons
Timeline Theatre
Chicago, Illinois
August 27, 2009

Falling in love with the girl next door, sipping grape juice on the porch, Benny Goodman on the radio, All My Sons is set in the good old days, simpler times. I so wanted to join the Keller family in their backyard and perhaps un-shell a few peapods. Maybe pitch horseshoes. (It’s the same feeling I had about the movie Arachnophobia, did it really need those spiders?) The Kellers are that family on the block. The house, where people gather. The ideal family!? Cue the spiders!

Janet Ulrich Brooks (Kate) is a standout as the mom, who denies that her son was killed in the war. Looking like Anne Bancroft’s ghost, Brooks engages in some haunting moments of crazy trying to keep her illusion real. Cora Vander Broek (Ann), I loved her dress in the first act and her performance in the second. Speaking of clothes, I was distracted from Erik Hellman’s performance (Chris) by his unflattering pants. Roger Mueller (Joe) reminded me of a dad… corny jokes, good natured, murderer… not my dad, but somebody’s. The four neighbor characters seemed unnecessary to the plot and I had to wonder if Arthur Miller wrote the parts for some actor friends needing work.

Playwright Arthur Miller opened All My Sons on Broadway in 1947. It must have been radically controversial for the time period to portray war profiteering. His story is solid with flawed, interesting characters. Timeless? Not really! But Arthur couldn’t have predicted that in 2009, being disgraced wouldn’t be considered a fatal end. And that honor wouldn’t be synonymous with war. But the biggie for me, that doesn’t translate over 60+ years, the anticipated marriage proposal. When I get a note from a guy in the mail (e-mail) asking me to come to his house, I don’t go assuming marriage.

This show’s run starts on Monday, August 31st. I’m publishing a review from a preview night. Deal with it Chris Jones! I answer to no one!

Clueing me in on the pivotal moment when the title’s meaning is revealed, Dick describes All My Sons as pure Americana mama drama!

Theatre Thursday is Chicago’s great concept to woo audiences! For $25, we enjoyed two drinks and the “all you can eat” Americana buffet at Kendall’s (2263 N. Lincoln) plus the show. C.J. broke all preconceived notions of pretty bartenders. She was friendly, efficient and even nice to the old people who didn’t tip on their free drink tickets. The food pitch should have been described as the “all you can eat chips and salsa” Americana buffet, because the wings and pizza were scarce.

Rainy, cold night? Perfect post-show drink choice was Firefly (3335 N. Halsted). Not quite “pretty,”our bartender and server, Mark and Tod are always friendly, efficient and nicely generous with wine pours. Deciding to go to Firefly after a play is choosing to continue your theatre experience by becoming part of the cast of a nightly drama. Cue the spiders! Crazy drunk, freeloading twenty-somethings, dumped bartender, disgrace is definitely not fatal in 2009.

Friday, August 21, 2009

HIGH FIDELITY: The Movie is Awesome!

High Fidelity
The Route 66 Theatre Company
Pipers Alley
Chicago, Illinois
August 20, 2009

My all-time “Top Five” reasons this production of High Fidelity doesn’t work…

#5. Too much of a good thing: Talented cast way under-utilized with limited character material. It’s most obvious when everyone is herded out on the stage to just sing back-up. Superfluous! Cut the cast by half. Let the actors double up on parts, for more of an opportunity to showcase their individual abilities. Retooling with creative casting would be more true to the High Fidelity essence and less about being a big Broadway musical production.

#4. Techno No: Give Marty and Bobby the rest of the run, off. Projected images of records, old girlfriends, The Boss are unnecessary. If the script is strong enough, cheap techno props aren’t needed to tell the story. Oh wait… I see the problem.

#3. It’s not funny: Housed in the Second City building that has launched a plethora of comedy legends, like, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, John Candy, Tina Fey, there is an expectation of, at minimum, a chuckle. Nothing! I was painfully aware of occasional chortles and giggles, rippling through the audience, from what I guess to be friends of the cast or suburbanites. Channel the legends and tweak the script.

#2. Stef Tovar, you’re too old to play Rob: I tell you this, because I’d want someone to tell me. Give up that dream, Stef! If Star Wars was a musical, I’d want someone to tell me that I couldn’t play Princess Leia (for more reasons than age) and probably could only be considered for a storm trooper. As Artistic Director, you know it’s true, Stef. So, I’ll leave you with one last word of advice, “Ian.”

#1. Did you see the movie? Rob, Dick and Barry would never come to see this depiction of their lives. This version took their rock & roll and “down with the establishment” existence and High School Musical-ed it. How can I believe Rob is this dead beat, stoner rebel if every time he sings about Laura, it sounds like Grease’s “…stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool…?” If High Fidelity is suppose to be a musical, perhaps it should be more Mama Mia and use classic rock to tell the story. If copyrighting is too expensive, what would Rob, Dick, and Barry do? Pirate the songs! Now, that’s staying true to the rebel essence!

My all-time “Top Five” things I liked in High Fidelity: Michael Mahler, Dana Tretta, the musicians interchanging instruments, free Doritos and #1. It made me nostalgic to rent the movie.

My seatmates, James and Bill’s all-time “Top Five” comments on this performance: talented cast, songs not memorable, disjointed, too long and “Nick Hornby won’t be happy.”


Add-ons to my all-time “Top Five” things I liked about High Fidelity
(#6.) I liked a bar available in the theatre, (#7.) an encouragement to drink during the performance (you need a little something, something) and (#8.) sitting at a table for drink placement. Post show across the street at Corcoran's (1615 N Wells): (#9.) we scored a table in the quieter coach house to enjoy a breezy summer night without being victim to the down pour. (#10.) Jalapeno poppers with cream cheese (you were so right, James!)

Add-ons to my all-time “Top Five” reasons this production doesn’t work...
(#6.) I didn’t like the Dixie plastic glasses of wine (seriously, it’s a fricking musical, not a bad ass concert), (#7.) water only available for purchase and (#8.) the round for three people with tip, $24 (and the water was from Costco, come on!). Post show at Corcoran’s, (#9.) all the servers look alike so it was hard to wave down the right one (#10.) when exiting, we had to walk past the cast drinking at the bar. I always like to compliment actors, but I left with only a whisper of “Good luck with that!”

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Arabian Nights: A Magic Carpet Ride

The Arabian Nights
Lookingglass Theatre
Chicago, Illinois
August 6, 2009

Get over that the main story of a story within a story within a story is… a story of a woman forced to tell stories at knife point for nearly three years and you will become victim to the enchantment of The Arabian Nights. The music, the lighting, the dancing, erotic elements of the multiple tales lit the building in smoldering sensuality. I teetered between uncomfortably aware of gawking tendencies and delight that rolling around on a rug in loose pajamas could be so hot.

Mary Zimmerman, writer, director and choreographer, is the mastermind behind this brilliant production. Zimmerman uses only minimal scenery of oriental lanterns and rugs having opted to fill the stage with her fourteen actors. The actors are the interactive scenery and the audience is challenged to decide who to watch. For me, it was obvious that the night, The Arabian Nights, belonged to the ladies. Stacey Yen, serving as the primary narrator, not only marvelously verbally mimicked a character, but physically shadowed. It was fascinating to watch her gestures synchronized perfectly to her story’s character. Minita Gandhi and Emjoy Gavino were exceptionally fluid portraying a variety of different characters. By donning just a cap, Emjoy intriguingly changed her look from belly dancer to boy. Emjoy serves the simple warning to any gal about the danger of putting on a hat.

Although I loved this show, there were a couple speed bumps for me. One of the tales allows two actors to improvise their parts. The audience and cast mates seemed to enjoy it, but for me any improv is too long (stick to the writer’s words). Also, the fast-paced, high energy of the first half of the show leaves the audience breathlessly awaiting the explosion of excitement following intermission. The first tale in Act 2 is more wordy than visual leading to just a few moments of… “come on! somebody roll around on the rug.” Following that long tale, it does pick up especially in one of the last scenes when all the characters are simultaneously acting out different stories in a wonderfully exciting and chaotic climax.

My evening side kick, Jen , described the show as dynamic, colorful and clever.


Pre-show, we dined al fresco at Bistro 110, 110 E. Pearson. Bistro was featuring a special menu as their salute to Julia Child. Although the duck with peaches sounded delectable, I knew my fish eating vegetarian (too lazy to look that word up) gal pal wouldn’t be any assistance in eating ½ duck. So, we went split-zies on Julia’s scallops paired with a nice Bordeaux. For starters, we ordered the brie stuffed artichoke. The sauce was so amazing that I wanted to dip my bread and my hand in it. Bistro 110 guests should always request Nathan’s section, his recommendations were flawless. Not only did he encourage me to dip my hand in the artichoke sauce, he gave us the recipe for it.

Once again sensibility of my evening companion prevailed and I once again boarded the CTA 146 without a post-show drink. It seemed like a thousand and one nights before the overcrowded 146 made its appearance at the Water Tower stop. Perhaps, CTA could take a lesson from The Arabian Nights , dim the lights, add a rug, exchange the unflattering bus driver’s uniform for some flowing robes, who knows where a moonlit drive down LSD will lead?

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Hollow Lands: Next stop - EDEN!

The Hollow Lands
Steep Theatre Co.
Chicago, Illinois
July 30, 2009

Boy meets girl and falls in love. Simple, right? Not the way The Hollow Lands tells a love story. Irish immigrant boy meets girl, who previously had been held in captivity by Indians is permanently marked with facial tattoos, and did I mention she’s married? Okay, so now we’ve got a tale of two young lovers smitten who finally get together… end of story? Not by a long shot! It’s only the end of Act I! The Hollow Lands is a tapestry of complicated characters dealing with issues of the times: 1815-1857. Social class, slavery, women’s inequality, Indian persecution, cults, redemption, salvation, true freedom, this well-paced performance gives the audience an entertaining history lesson.

The mega talented cast energetically delivered scuffles and monologues dripping in blood and passion. A few standouts were Michael Salinas equally hilarious with an ejaculation prayerful rant to uttering just a few words as a woodsman. Yosh Hayashi portrayed Hayes as a drunken but likable asshole in his search for true freedom and Eden. Hayashi’s physicality of his zealous performance left me exhausted after three hours. I imagine Yosh spends the 21 hours between performances sleeping! And speaking of 21 hours, Boyd Harris was charming as Danny but the real nod out goes to his mother. Mrs. Harris told us she was attending her 7th performance. Boyd, your mama loves you!

For a small production company that I had never heard of, Steep began its seduction from the moment I arrived. The concrete mosaic welcome mat of the logo beckoned me to take a chance and fall in love because Steep was in it for the long haul. Cheerfully painted lobby, candle lit bathroom, but I knew I was truly smitten when the ticket guy passed out Milano cookies right before the third act. Girl meets theatre company and falls in love… end of story? I’m no Mrs. Harris but I’ll definitely be back for the next Steep production.

My playdate for the evening, Tom, described the performance as brutal, epic, and tragic.

Waiting for the Show

Because we were in his hood, Tom took me to one of his favorite haunts: Sabaidee, 5359 N. Broadway. I’ll admit I had preconceived notions from Tom’s description of “great Cambodian food “and “cheap”. My thoughts of dingy and dank disappeared immediately when I walked into the brightly lit, friendly ambiance of this Cambodian-Vietnamese restaurant. Even better, the owner waited on us. And even though Tom had recently returned from Viet Nam, he opted for the owner's suggestion of Combo 1 (beef, sticky rice, and papaya salad). The owner chose Kao Poon Gai Soup for me. I loved the spicy curry flavor with chicken and rice noodles. Although I could never verbally request it, if I saw it on a menu, I would definitely point order it.

Because it was a school night and I had just lived through forty years of history in three hours, I decided against my usual nightcap. Instead, I flagged down the 146 right outside the theatre and was transported from the wild, unknown territory of the Berwyn stop to my native quiet Lakeview homestead. There wasn’t any more gunfire or blood shed in my presence that night but riding the CTA that close to midnight always lends itself to the possibility.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our Future Metropolis: Did Chicago follow the Plan?

Our Future Metropolis
Lookingglass Theatre
Chicago, Illinois
July 21, 2009

Having experienced traffic coming to a complete halt on the Kennedy, Red Line and the lakefront bike path, I’ve often asked myself “whose brilliant idea was this?” Tuesday night, I got some insight to that question. “One man show” describes Our Future Metropolis as a production and the content. Raymond Fox portrayed Daniel Burnham (1846-1912) presenting his “Plan of Chicago” in a lecture hall format. Accompanied by “lantern slides” illustrating the vision, Burnham encourages his audience to rally to make Chicago the next Paris. The Lookingglass Theatre building, aka 1871 fire survivor, was the perfect backdrop to transport the audience back in time to 1909.

Since reading "Devil in the White City" is the foundation for my limited Chicago history knowledge, what worked best for me was the addition of a panel discussion following the show. Community experts in city planning and Burnham’s “Plan of Chicago” joined director John Musial and Raymond Fox on stage for a Q&A. To add to the nostalgia, Daniel Burnham V was also present to field questions from the audience. Although 2016 Olympic discussions were alive with cynicism, I was most intrigued to learn there are plans to extend the lakefront parks in the near future. And even more fascinating to me, that there is a Chicago 2040 Plan being developed. I don’t know what I’m doing in 2010 or even this weekend. It amazes me that a group of people are currently making decisions that will affect my life in 30+ years. My mom will be so pleased that there is indeed A PLAN.

If anything, the evening left me with more questions than answers: was the lagoon plan partially completed? Did the rebel rouser Montgomery Ward really preserve the lakefront? Is Daniel Burnham V single? Will I be able to see 2016 Olympic tennis matches from my condo? Does Chicago 2040 provide discounted senior packages?

My Chicago native sidekick, Bill shared that his evening’s ah-ha moment was learning that the “Plan of Chicago” was connected to social order with a strong motivation for a better society.


Before heading downtown, we stopped for a bite at my neighborhood fave, Bilger’s. With new ownership pending at Bilger’s, I’m trying to get in as many meals as possible before its Lakeview departure. I also heard tonight’s cuisine was the result of a visiting chef but my meal wasn’t anything I hadn’t had before. Still, I do love when the owners pour a nice glass of petite syrah and sit down to discuss the latest gossip.

Where better to toast the “Plan of Chicago” than from the 96th floor of the Hancock? Sure, it’s pricey. And it’s packed with tourists from foreign lands, most notably Aurora. Plus, the décor and lighting is tired and unflattering. And when asked for input on the great turkey club –guacamole debate, the server, mistaking us for suburbanites, responded with “the turkey is a sandwich and the other is a dip.” All that to the side, the view is magnificent! THE plan, A plan, SOME plan is working because looking out the windows to see the old/new Sears/Willis Tower and the lighted brilliant majesty of Chicago, I fell in love all over again with my adopted hometown. Well done, Mr. Burnham (Mr. Bennett, Mr. Ward, etc), well done!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Lonesome Losers of the Night
Theo Ubique Theatre Company

Theatre on the Lake at Fullerton
July 10, 2009

Sans the singing, a bartender pushing shots while two drunks fight over a whore sounds like any Saturday night at Jacqueline’s. Lonesome Losers of the Night has 21 songs. I know because I counted them down in anticipation of the end.

Losers is more of a music revue than a musical. After every song, the rhythm of the experience is broken for the audience to applaud. This is my ongoing pet peeve with this type of theatre experience. I want to clap at the end in admiration of a talented cast and wonderful script. Maybe at intermission, even if I don’t like the first act, as my way of cheerleading the cast into a better second half. Of course, I love to spontaneously burst out in applause at a powerfully magnificent aria flawlessly delivered. But after every song, come on that’s like a dog wanting a treat every time it sits up. I sit up all the time, where’s my treat?

The cast itself was great. Led by my newest crush Chris Damiano (Che in Evita), the singers were beautifully soulful. Their piano accompanist, Joshua Stephen Kartes, masterfully and entertainingly became a fifth character with his passionate performance. My issue was the material. Too many songs and no script! Sure I think the inane moments of my life would be prettier sung with a great piano accompanist. But in reality, who wants to hear it? And be coerced into applauding it?

Bottom line what does a French guy know about a wharf bar in Amsterdam anyway? Jacques, there’s a reason why what happens at the wharf, stays at the wharf. My advice is to skip Lonesome Losers of the Night opt instead for Jacqueline’s! If you really want singing, and who doesn’t , bring cash for the jukebox.

Sharing the sultry and sweaty experience at Theatre on the Lake, my playmates had this to say: Birthday boy Scott thought lyrical, emotional and repetitive. Dick described it as long bartender songs.

Before the show, we ate at Sushi-X at 543 W. Diversey. We strategized that our early dinner plans fell perfectly into the happy hour: ½ price rolls zone. Unfortunately, we found out on arrival that you can only be “happy” Sunday through Wednesday. If not “happy”, we were certainly content with the quick, friendly service and tasty rolls. The Godzilla lived up to its name and I had trouble eating it attractively. First ever, we ordered and enjoyed a crab ragoon roll. Turning crab ragoon into sushi certainly allows the diner to pretend it’s healthier. Kudos on that idea, Sushi-X!

Having watched the cast down more than a dozen shots each during the show, I left the theatre all boozed out. We decided to bathe in ice cream to beat the heat. Windy City Sweets, 3308 N. Broadway, is the perfect spot for such indulgence. Dick estimated $10 million in ice cream and candy inventory. Scott and I think he may be delusional but agreed that they did have a Willie Wonka like selection.

I biked past Jacqueline’s, 3420 N. Broadway, on the way home. I’m certain I saw Greg pushing shots to several drunks and counted more than a handful of whores. I almost stopped but hey it wasn’t Saturday!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Graceland: Not Elvis' Final Resting Stop

Extended through August 16th
Profiles Theatre
4147 N. Broadway

July 2, 2009

Buying the house a round and going home and shooting himself. It’s hard to imagine the humor in that scenario. But it’s that mystery of a father’s death that is the catalyst for Graceland’s witty dialogue about family dysfunction, love woes, and career confusion. I was swept up in the moments of the play. I want to quit my job and deliver edible arrangements. I want to get drunk and hit on men. I want to feel less lonely because a young thing thinks I’m beautiful. I was there but I wasn’t, so I could laugh… really hard.

Jackson Challinor did a marvelous job of playing a quirky, vulnerable teenager. (How old are you, Jackson? Would it be a felony? But I could go for your dad too!) The dad, Darrell Cox, balancing perfectly an SNL wild and crazy guy meets Mike Brady. (Hey, the play is targeted for the 40’s crowd and so are my pop culture references.) Eric Burgher, as the dead guy’s son, delivers the most haunting line to his sister: “Your jokes aren’t even funny.” Ouch, those words in a fight can never be taken back. Unfortunately, every time his sister, Cheryl Graeff, a dead ringer for Miranda, made a sexual advance, all I could think was “What about Steve?”

My favorite part was the Chicago references, like; Graceland cemetery, air and water show, R.J. Grunts, Marshall Fields and smoking ban. It created a lovely intimacy that made me want to find playwright Ellen Fairey and say “I live in Chicago too. We are so connected.” Probably the best compliment to Fairey’s tight script, the end came much too swiftly. But what else would you expect from a play set in a cemetery?

When asked to describe Graceland with three words, here are the responses from my seat mates… Joe: observant, dramedy and absorbing; Bill: funny, witty, humorous, familiar; Dick: Sorkinian, funny, actor-ish.


Having inaccurately judged the play’s locale, I suggested Jaiyen’s on Broadway, a sushi-thai-BYOB restaurant. Bill and I went for the old standby, crab rangoon – delicious. The venture into new territory, chive dumpling was a lesson learned. Jaiyen’s menu was promoting their seasonal sushi rolls to “beat the winter blues.” The menu might have been dated but the rolls proved tasty, especially the asparagus Christmas one. The service was quick and friendly. As one of their two tables, we were out the door in 45 minutes making my error in distance a non-issue.

Post show, we headed to Firefly on Halsted, always a cozy choice for a bite and drink later in the evening. Firefly has been around for a while and showing signs of decay. Bill reported the bathroom was dirty without paper towels or a working lock. For me, it’s the clientele transformation. It’s been Lincoln-park-afied, lots of Trixies. It makes me long for the boystown bar days when it was wall-to-wall good looking men with a sprinkling of the occasional fag hag. For a moment, I considered buying the house a round and going home and shooting myself in the head. Instead, I opted for the beignets with caramel sauce followed by only a momentary inkling of regret.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

EVITA: "Local girl makes good"

Theo Ubique Theatre Company
No Exit Cafe
Chicago, Illinois
June 26, 2009

Dinner theatre conjures up certain images in anyone’s head. Sitting in the No Exit Café, some of those stereotypes were actualized: old people and bad food. Even in our forties, we were the youngsters in the crowd. My eggplant parmesan was tasty but almost pureed (perhaps intentional for the audience). Dick’s* meal looked like a TV dinner that wasn’t completely reheated. Get past dinner with the geriatric set and everything else falls into place like a well choreographed musical.

The no frills and intimate size of the cafe space are the ideal backdrop for this show. This is especially apparent in the canteen scene where I felt an urge to join the tango lessons on stage. The fourth wall disappears with the cast in dual roles as servers. Ensemble member, Anthony Apodaca (pictured here with me) was fabulous as a server, actor, singer and dancer. This experience is even more profound because you get a glimpse into the life of many talented and underpaid actors who wait so they can act. The tip at the end is for the wine service and a little “follow your dream” pocket money. (You’re right, Dick, we should have tipped more!)

I had never heard of the Theo Ubique Theatre Company until Evita swept at the 2009 Jeff Awards. Now, they are on my radar. Using all the right elements; intimate setting, talented cast, spectacular choreography, a live musical combo, Ubique produced an impressive theatre experience. Dick was enamored with Maggie “Evita” Portman who he thought was a look alike for Le Ann Rimes. (I said Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks.) My favorite part of the show was Chris Damiano playing Che. I fall hard for a man with a soulful voice combine it with a handsome face and put him in revolutionary fatigues and I’m a goner. I’m banking on “his beloved Rose” being a cocker spaniel. “..I love him and hope he loves me…”

Final note on the show from my evening’s theatre companion: Dick liked the music and thought the production was low budget with big impact.

Waiting for the Show

Experiencing the unpredictable timing of the CTA red line, we arrived express at the Morse stop thirty minutes early. Having extra time is pivotal to actually finding the theatre café which from the outside looks like a vacated space. It also allowed us to mix with the local homeless folks and get a drink at The Glenwood. Pear martinis were the perfect pre-curtain cocktail at this neighborhood joint.

Post show, we headed to my favorite wine bar, Marty’s. Marty’s is the upscale “Cheers” in my life located in Andersonville. The host greets me with a big hug, a “where have you been” and snaps his finger to get us immediately escorted to the patio. Feeling every bit the celebrity, I strut through the crowded bar waving at my favorite friendly bartenders. Although it’s the staff that keeps me coming back to Marty’s, the “new guy” serving on the patio would be the exception. When I order a glass of shiraz, he bluntly informs me that it’s awful and that I want the malbec (pronouncing it male beck). The “new guy” could certainly get some tips from Anthony on serving and acting like you enjoy it.

*This is his real name. He doesn’t need to be protected and certainly isn’t innocent.