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Theatre & Performing Arts News January 16, 2012

Dreaming of Neverland

Dream Theatre Company presents the first play of its season-long trilogy, "Peter Pan's Shadow Part One: Neverland," the world premiere of a new show by Jeremy Menekseoglu.  Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Peter's younger sister set out on a harrowing adventure that will result in the birth of Neverland, the accidental creation of Peter's shadow, and the appearance of a fearsome new enemy on the horizon: Captain James Hook.

"Peter Pan's Shadow Part One: Neverland" runs from February 2 to March 4.  Performances take place Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 7pm at Dream Theatre Company, located at 556 West 18th Street, Chicago, IL 60616.  General admission is $18, industry and student tickets are $15.  Group sales and subscription packages available.  For more information, call 773-552-8616 or email annainthedarkness@gmail.com.

Telling a "Peter Pan" story very different from those we have known, Dream Theatre probes the darker corners of Neverland and the selfish boy who forced it into being.  This is the new adventure of Peter Pan and the younger sister who believed him to be dead for her entire life; after meeting him and Tinker Bell, it might have been better if that had been the case.  Following the success of "The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Winnie-The-Pooh, Christopher Robin, and Billy Moon" and "The Devilish Children and the Civilizing Process," this dark and engaging trilogy is a fairy tale as only Dream Theatre could imagine it.  Featuring Anna W Menekseoglu, Mishelle Apalategui, Annelise Lawson, Jeremy Menekseoglu, Chad Sheveland, Rachel Martindale, Lana Smithner, Avery Ferguson, and Annie Hoeg.

Since 1998 Dream Theatre has performed all original productions that include: Audience Annihilated: Women Only Train; A Very Terrible Father; Three Women Driven Insane; The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon; Downward Facing; The Devilish Children and the Civilizing Process; The Agon Trilogy (Agamemnon, Electra & Orestes); Aelita & Shiny Boxes; The Black Duckling; Somewhere in Texas; Sequestered; Cold; The Samaritan Syndrome; Baby Killers; SlowAnna; Anna, in the Darkness; Medea; Antigone; Ismene and Sister 121.  Now entering its tenth season, Dream Theatre continues to strive to deliver the highest art in its most raw, unflinching and entertaining form.  More information can be found at www.dreamtheatrecompany.com, dreamtheatreco.blogspot.com, and www.facebook.com/DreamTheatreCompany.

 

Moliere Goes Steampunk

BoHo Theatre brings laughs and style to the stage this January with Ranjit Bolt’s contemporary translation of Molière’s "Tartuffe," the classic tale of sex, money, and the power of persuasion.  "Tartuffe" currently runs through February 12, 2012, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Avenue, and is directed by BoHo’s Associate Artistic Director Peter Robel.  By using the anachronistic mashup genre called steampunk, director Robel seeks to highlight the machinations of the wicked Tartuffe as he uses one man’s fear of change to his advantage, a fear all too familiar today.  Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm.  Tickets are $20-25.  For tickets, call the Theater Wit Box Office at 773-975-8150 or visit www.BoHoTheatre.com.

In the midst of societal upheaval, when the lines between church and state are being drawn between those for whom religion is the bedrock of society and a younger generation eager to accept change, comes the charlatan Tartuffe.  Masquerading as a man of God, Tartuffe worms his way into the life of pious family patriarch Orgon and is soon trying to make off with the man’s wealth, his daughter, and even his wife!  Though the rest of the family goes to hilarious lengths to show Orgon the error of his ways and expel Tartuffe from their home, the con man always seems to be one step ahead of them.

By using steampunk (a scifi subgenre that mixes Victorian history and aesthetic with futuristic steam-powered technology) as a backdrop, BoHo’s production mirrors the tumultuous societal landscape of 17th century France as a world that at once seems both familiar and alien, when old and new exist side by side.  Without losing any of Molière’s wit, BoHo’s "Tartuffe" makes it obvious why a man would desperately believe the lies of a swindler over the word of his own family.  Continuing a season-long exploration of the Bohemian pillars of truth, beauty, freedom, and love, "Tartuffe" explores the pillar of truth through the eyes of a liar.  Featuring Christa Buck, Chris Ballou, Luke Daigle, Daria Harper, Andrew Marikis, Michael Mercier, Saren Nofs-Snyder, Devan O’Mailia, Sean Thomas, and Jeremy Trager.

 

Magic of Shakespeare Casts Spell on Navy Pier

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents its 10th annual concert collaboration with The Chicago Chamber Musicians, "Witches, Wizards, Spells and Elves: The Magic of Shakespeare," introducing families and children to the joys of live performance—through music performed by CCM ensemble members, and through the plays of Shakespeare brought to life by CST actors.  Directed by Matt Schwader, who appears later this season in CST Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the scenes feature celebrated Chicago actors James Vincent Meredith as Prospero and Steve Haggard as Puck.  Additional actors include Charin Alvarez, Susan Shunk, Penelope Walker and Eric Parks, who is currently performing in CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines' production of "Elizabeth Rex" at Chicago Shakespeare.

Performances of "Witches, Wizards, Spells and Elves: The Magic of Shakespeare" run January 21 and 22, 2012 in CST's Courtyard Theater at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. each day.  Tickets are on sale for $15–$18, and all patrons receive a 40% discount on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages.  For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater's website at www.chicagoshakes.com.

Bruce Adolphe's "Witches, Wizards, Spells and Elves: The Magic of Shakespeare" was commissioned by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and The Chicago Chamber Musicians specifically for their annual Family Concert series, and premiered at CST in 2002.  Adolphe's score portrays the magic found in William Shakespeare's plays as it is performed by CCM ensemble members, while characters from "The Tempest," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Macbeth" are performed by CST artists: James Vincent Meredith as Prospero, Steve Haggard as Puck, Eric Parks as Mercutio, Penelope Walker as First Witch, Charin Alvarez as Second Witch and Susan Shunk as Third Witch.  Adolphe will narrate the performance.

Seven of CCM's Ensemble Artists will play in the January concerts: Joseph Genualdi (violin), Charles Geyer (trumpet), Dennis Michel (bassoon), Brad Opland (double bass), Rami Solomonow (viola) and CCM founding members Gail Williams (horn) and Grammy winner Larry Combs (clarinet).  Between concerts each day, interactive exhibits staged in the CST lobby will give children a chance to explore the instruments used in the concert—musicians will be available for autographs and young performers will demonstrate their craft and answer questions about the featured instruments.

 

Hubbard Street Leaps into Winter

The highly acclaimed contemporary dance companies Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Hubbard Street 2 perform new works created by developing choreographers, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.  "danc(e)volve: New Works Festival" is co-presented by MCA Stage and Hubbard Street and features dance choreographed by Hubbard Street  dancers and directors, along with a guest artist.  The two-weekend long festival features nine new works in two distinct programs, including a new work for HS2 by Alejandro Cerrudo.  "danc(e)volve" is curated by Hubbard Street Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton and highlights the MCA and Hubbard Street's commitment to support emerging artists in the contemporary field.  Performances take place at the MCA Stage January 19-22 (sold out) and January 26-29, 2012.

Hubbard Street resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo's new work "Never was," focuses on the intense physicality of dance through the intricacies of Baroque music by George Frideric Handel and Henry Purcell with movement set to contrasting compositions that build to form a cohesive duet dance.  The music is from "Ombra mai fu from Serse" by Handel, and two works by Purcell -- "Funeral Sentences for the death of Queen Mary II" (1695): The Queen's Funeral March (procession) and Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary II (1695) (drum procession).

Cerrudo is among Hubbard Street's dancers-turned-choreographers, having created a total of nine company works over the course of five years.  Other company dancers presenting new works include Jonathan Fredrickson, Alice Klock, and Robyn Mineko Williams, as well as Johnny McMillan of HS2.  Terence Marling, Rehearsal Director, and Taryn Kaschock Russell, Director of HS2, also present new pieces.  Edgerton selected these dancers to choreograph based on their work for the Inside/Out Choreographic Workshop he led in June 2010.  Additionally, two new works by 2011 National Choreographic Competition winners Penny Saunders (also a Hubbard Street dancer) and Clébio Oliveira are on the program.

The "danc(e)volve" program is presented twice each weekend and includes the world premiere of "Never was," along with four works by other choreographers.  All performances take place at the MCA Stage, 220 East Chicago Avenue.  The January 26-29 performances begin at 7:30 pm.  Tickets are $35; $28 for MCA members; and a limited quantity of $10 student tickets are available.  Tickets may be purchased through the MCA Box Office at www.mcachicago.org or 312.397.4010 and the Hubbard Street Box Office at www.hubbardstreetdancechicago.com or 312.850.9744.  Ticket buyers receive one free museum admission with an MCA Stage ticket stub, valid up to seven days after the performance.

 

Houdini Out of the Box

Chicago Children’s Theatre presents "The Houdini Box" January 24-March 4, 2012 at the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago.  "The Houdini Box" is a world premiere musical adventure based on Brian Selznick’s popular first novel about a mischievous boy who receives a special box that just might contain the secrets of Harry Houdini’s success.  Press opening is Friday, January 27 at 7 pm.  Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 10:15 am, Friday at alternate times, Saturday and Sunday at 11 am and 2 pm.  Tickets are $26 for children; $36 for adults.  Ten days after the Mercury run, performances continue at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd. in Skokie, March 14-25.  Performance times are Tuesday through Friday at 10:15 am; Saturday and Sunday 11 am and 2 pm.  Tickets are $26 for children; $36 for adults.  The North Shore Center boasts free, plentiful parking.  For tickets and information, go to chicagochildrenstheatre.org.  Call the Mercury Theater box office at 773.325.1700 or call the North Shore Center box office at 847.673.6300.  For discounted school, scout and group rates, contact GroupTix at (773) 327-3778 or visit GroupTix.net.

As famed escape artist Harry Houdini circles the globe performing one incredible stunt after another, Victor, a young devotee goes through his own rigorous magician’s training – locking himself in closets, holding his breath under water and walking into walls.  After a chance encounter with his hero, Victor receives a special box that just might contain the secrets of Houdini’s great success.  Master puppeteer Blair Thomas will direct and create puppetry for CCT's "The Houdini Box," already a recipient of two prestigious development grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Book and lyrics are by Hannah Kohl, with original music by Mark Messing.  The cast for "The Houdini Box" features Alex Weisman as Victor, Sara Sevigny as Mother and Derek Hasenstab as Barker. 

Chicago Children’s Theatre focuses on the production of first-rate children’s theatre in Chicago, with top writing, performing and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise.  Chicago Children’s Theatre aspires to enrich our community through diverse and significant theatrical and educational programming that engages and inspires the child in all of us.  Launched in 2005, Chicago Children’s Theatre strives to provide affordable and accessible theatre for families and area school children.  To enhance the impact of any given production’s themes, Chicago Children’s Theatre offers educational materials and programs for families and educators.

 

'Leaving Iowa' Destination Elgin

Elgin Theatre Company presents "Leaving Iowa," a laugh-out-loud, full-length comedy that will have audiences rolling in the aisles, currently playing through January 29, at the Kimball Street Theatre in Elgin.  Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 2 pm.  All performances will be at the Kimball Street Theatre of the Elgin Academy.  The theatre is located at the northeast corner of Kimball Street and Dundee Avenue in Downtown Elgin.  Ticket prices for  "Leaving Iowa" are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and youth.  Group rates are available.  Some parking is located off Park Street, Academy Place and Kimball Street.  Please go to the ETC website www.elgin-theatre.org for additional parking and information.  For reservations or more information, you may call the Elgin Theatre Company at 847-741-0532, or email at tickets@inil.com.

Join Elgin Theatre Company, for a nostalgic, and hilarious journey on the great American pastime - the family road trip!  "Leaving Iowa" tells the story of Don, a sportswriter on a trip home to Iowa to fulfill a family promise.  As he travels the Midwestern two-lane highways, he flashes back on his childhood trips in the back of the family car, that classic nexus of fights, humor and sibling rivalry.  Don returns to Iowa to take his father's ashes to his childhood home.  But when he discovers that home is now a grocery store, he begins traveling across Iowa to find the perfect resting place for his father.  Along the way, he relives the summer vacations that he spent traveling with his family on their annual road trips in their station wagon. 

Filled with charm and comedy, this touching play celebrates the love of family and the open highway.  Told in flashback, "Leaving Iowa" speaks to everyone who has ever endured a family car vacation.  The cast features Tim Baylor, Nancy Braus, Debbi Dennison, Liliana Mitchel, Patrick Pantelis, Lori Rohr, Scot Savage and Charles Wimmer.  The play is directed by Thomas J. Akouris with Kaitlin Moser, Assistant Director and Madeline Franklin Production Assistant.  Producers for the Elgin Theatre Company are Richard Grieger and Herb Gross.

 

'Swim Club' Convenes at Beef & Boards

A poignant comedy kicks off the 39th Season at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis, Indiana as it presents "The Dixie Swim Club".  The first of four new shows to the Beef & Boards stage in 2012, "The Dixie Swim Club" is hilarious and heartfelt.  On stage through February 12, "The Dixie Swim Club" has 36 performances scheduled in the intimate space of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre.  Tickets range from $37 to $60 and include Chef Odell Ward's dinner buffet, coffee and tea.  Parking is free.  For reservations, call the Beef & Boards Box Office at 317.872.9664.  For more information, including show schedule, visit www.beefandboards.com.

Five Southern women, whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team, set aside a long weekend every year to recharge those relationships.  Free from husbands, kids and jobs, they meet at the same beach cottage to catch up, laugh and meddle in each other's lives.  Angela Plank stars as Sheree, the spunky team captain, who desperately tries to maintain her organized and perfect life, and continues to be the group's leader.  Dinah, played by Rita Thomas, is the wisecracking overachiever, a career dynamo.  But her victories in the courtroom are in stark contrast to the frustrations of her personal life.  Lexie, played by Jill Kelly, is pampered and outspoken.  Determined to hold on to her looks and youth as long as possible, she enjoys being married...over and over again.

The self-deprecating and acerbic Vernadette, played by Beef & Boards favorite Sarah Hund, is acutely aware of the dark cloud that hovers over her life, has decided to just give in and embrace the chaos.  And sweet, eager-to-please Jeri Neal, played by Laurie Walton, experiences a late entry into motherhood that takes them all by surprise.  As their lives unfold and 33 years pass, these women increasingly rely on one another to get through the many challenges that life flings at them.

 

Murderer & Dancing Princesses

Steel Beam Theatre turns up the heat in the gripping thriller "Murderer," January 13-February 5, 2012.  "Murderer" currently runs through February 5.  Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00pm. There is free parking next to the Theatre, which is handicap accessible, and a variety of restaurants nearby.  Single tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for students/seniors and $22 for groups of 10 and over.  For tickets, visit www.SteelBeamTheatre.com, or call 630-587-8521. 

Opening with one of the most shocking scenes in theater, Steel Beam Theatre’s production of the dark comedic thriller "Murderer" will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.  Written by Anthony Shaffer, the author of "Sleuth" and of the screenplay "Frenzy," "Murderer" tells the story of eccentric painter Norman Bartholomew, a failed artist so obsessed with famous murders he recreates them as a game.  Or is it?  In his living room in Dorset, England, Norman and his girlfriend Millie concoct a scheme to kill Norman’s wife, Elizabeth, and the hair-raising twists and turns begin. 

Thomas Reed plays Norman Bartholomew and Sherry Winchester Schultz plays his wife Elizabeth. Kathryn Meiners plays Millie Sykes, Norman’s mistress, and Thom Thomas plays the tenacious Sgt. Stenning.  The director of Murderer is Jack Schultz.  For 10 years, Steel Beam Theatre has guided audiences and actors in shared experiences that help the participants more fully understand humanity.  SBT’s mission is to bring high quality theatrical entertainment, training and arts awareness to the Fox Valley community at an affordable price.  Since 2001 Steel Beam productions have attracted thousands to St. Charles, and the Theatre is an anchor that adds diversity and draws visitors to the historic downtown area for any given production. 

Steel Beam Children’s Theatre presents "Twelve Dancing Princesses" through February 5, 2012.  "Twelve Dancing Princesses" show times are Saturdays at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm and Sundays at 1:00 pm.  Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for children under 16.  In a far away land, a Queen (Fiona Dendler) is faced with a perplexing mystery.  Every night her twelve beautiful princesses are tucked safely in their beds with the door to their suite securely bolted shut.  Yet each morning the girls are exhausted, as if they hadn’t slept, and their shoes are worn through, even though every day they get a new pair. Steel Beam Children’s Theatre audiences will cheer for a valiant young soldier (Michael Garcia) who unravels a sinister plot to overtake the kingdom in this delightful adaptation of the classic fairy tale "Twelve Dancing Princesses".

 

'Girl in the Yellow Dress' Makes Her U.S. Debut

Next Theatre Company is proud to present the United States premiere of Craig Higginson’s "The Girl in the Yellow Dress," directed by Joanie Schultz, January 19–February 26, 2012, at The Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street in Evanston.  Previews are January 19–22 and the opening/press night is Monday, January 23 at 7 p.m.  The performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.  There are 4 p.m. Saturday performances February 4, 11, 18 and 25.  Tickets are $25-$40 with subscriber and student discounts available.  Tickets may be purchased at nexttheatre.org or by calling 847-475-1875 x2.

South African Playwright Craig Higginson’s "The Girl in the Yellow Dress" is set in contemporary Paris where an Englishwoman named Celia (Carrie Coon) has left her well appointed home in London to start a new life teaching English.  When she takes on a French-Congolese student (Austin Talley), a relationship begins to develop that reveals dark truths from Celia’s past.  Raising issues that prove the modern world is not as advanced as one may believe, "The Girl in the Yellow Dress" explores the ways in which class, race, identity and language continue to divide us.

 

The Mary Kay Letourneau Players Present...

The Mary Kay Letourneau Players, a Chicago-based comedy duo, have announced the premiere of their new sketch comedy revue opening January 22 at iO Chicago, “The Mary Kay Letourneau Players Present...”  Written and performed by Katie Rich and Kate Duffy, directed by Irene Marquette, “The Mary Kay Letourneau Players Present...” plays Sundays at 10:30pm, January 22-February 19, 2012 at iO Chicago, The Del Close Theater,  3541 N Clark St (Addison & Clark), Chicago.  $5 tickets are available at Chicago.iOImprov.com or 773.880.0199.  For more information, visit MKLPlayers.com.

Katie Rich (The Second City Mainstage) and Kate Duffy (Deep Schwa, The Playboys) are the Mary Kay Letourneau Players, a duo critics have called comedy “Kobe beef”.  The two seasoned performers began writing together while traveling the country for The Second City's National Touring Company and debuted their material at the 2011 Chicago Sketchfest to rave reviews.  Directed by the immensely talented Irene Marquette (40 Whacks), the show dives deeply into characters, exposing their complex inner worlds.  From elderly ladies yakking at a wedding, to working-class girls recovering from a weeknight bender, to the fallout from a facially-disfiguring monkey attack. 

The Mary Kay Letourneau Players tackle tabloid sensationalism and everyday life with an equally frank, head-on approach.  After all, we are all only one of two bad decisions away from being a headline.  Mary Kay Letourneau is an American schoolteacher who was imprisoned from 1997 to 2004 for having sexual intercourse with her 13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau.  She gave birth to two of Fualaau's children while incarcerated.  After her release from prison in 2004, Letourneau married Fualaau and took his name.  She has not yet endorsed this production. 

Founded in 1981, iO (Formerly ImprovOlympic) is the world famous flashpoint of comic creativity that spawned an entire generation of America’s best and brightest entertainers.  Over 5,000 people have trained and performed at iO’s Chicago and Los Angeles theaters, including some of the most recognizable names in show business.  Today the stars of tomorrow are learning the secrets of the Harold in the iO Training Center, while the sharpest minds in comedy are onstage pushing the envelope, continually experimenting and delighting audiences seven nights a week.  For more, visit Chicago.iOImprov.com.