By Wesley James
Artistic Home’s By the Bog of Cats is a solid, stirring production of a deeply flawed and obstacle-strewn script. In many ways this makes the production more impressive: evidently strong direction and clear performance choices help push cleanly through the spots where the play drags. As a play, however, some flaws are insurmountable; the really enjoyable parts of this play (to be fair, there are many) are even still oddly paced and too far apart.
Windy City Playhouse (3014 W. Irving Park Road) announces the complete casting for Fernanda Coppel’s “King Liz,” a production that “keeps you gasping with excitement” (Observer) over one woman’s journey to take on the male-dominated world of sports agents. Chicago mainstay Chuck Smith will direct the second production in Windy City Playhouse’s third season, featuring Lanise Shelley (“The Comedy of Errors” at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and “Death Tax” at Lookingglass Theatre Company) as the title character. Together with Shelley, “King Liz” also features a Chicago ensemble including Eric Gerard (“Octagon” at Jackalope Theatre), Cedric Mays (“The African Company Presents Richard III” at American Players Theatre), Jackie Alamillo (Upcoming: “The Wolf at the End of the Block” at Teatro Vista), Caron Buinis (“Chimerica,” Timeline) and Frank Nall (“Only Kidding,” Emergent Theatre Company). Previews for “King Liz” begin May 24 and the production runs through July 16. The Press Night is Wednesday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($15-$55) go on sale April 1 and can be purchased at the Windy City Playhouse Box Office online or by calling the Box Office at (773) 891-8985.
By Leigh Austin
In the opening scene of Robert O’Hara’s Bootycandy, a young boy stares at a dictionary, enthralled, trying to make sense of terms and situations he can’t quite understand. Words like “bootycandy” (his mother’s nickname for male genitalia), after all, have a myriad of cultural significances without holding a formal definition.
Early in The Assembled Parties, as one of the guests, Faye, downs a healthy serving of Valium and vodka, she kvetches that she feels like “a character in a farce.” By the end of the lengthy (the show has a two and a half hour running time) opening evening of Raven Theatre’s production of the 2013 Tony-nominated work by Richard Greenberg, I shared Faye’s sentiment; the (at best) insensitive script and overly exaggerated performances left me feeling as if I had time traveled back to an era of Chicago theatre where jokes regarding race, gender, and violence were both commonplace and readily acceptable.
Pride Films and Plays’ production of the Tony Award-winning musical, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, the company’s inaugural production in their two-stage Pride Arts Center, has added an extra four weeks of performances and will now close on Sunday, March 12 rather than the previously announced February 12. The Jeff-recommended musical, which began previews on January 12 and opened for the press on January 15, earned raves from critics across the board and has been bringing mid-winter smiles to the faces of hundreds of patrons in sold out houses during its first weeks of performances.