Hey y'all, you know that feeling when you start a new blog, you get a few readers, and then suddenly you have so much work coming at you, both freelance and in your full-time job, that eventually you realize you haven't posted in your shiny new blog for a week? Yeah, I hate that feeling.
Anyway, here's what's been going on the past week. I've just returned from attending my first Cubs game of the season with my visiting Arkansas cousins, which means that A) I'm using "y'all" more often than I normally do these days, and B) the droning percussion of the Wrigleyville Bucket Boys is still ringing in my ears.
Yesterday Don Hall gave out his "First Annual Chicago Theater Journalism Awards." And the winner is (bucket boys, a drumroll please):
While the magazine seems to still be searching for a voice, its theater section is topnotch thanks to Piatt and his staff of writers. Not only does TOC review a lot of shows, it has that nifty star system for the rubes and gives the same word count to everyone, whether you're the Goodman or Jagoff Productions. On top of that, TOC manages to put out some actual real live theater journalism between the pages from the Color Blind article to artist profiles to interviews.
TOC also has a Comedy section that, while only two pages most weeks, still manages to highlight the comedy and improv scene with reviews and articles. And several blogs circulate from the intrepid TOC theater staff that have both substance and some off-the-beaten-path sort stuff that makes TOC the one to beat.
Hey, thanks, Don and those who commented there. As a (freelance) member of that intrepid staff and proprietor of one of said blogs, I appreciate knowing that we're appreciated.
I just finished a piece for Time Out's Film section (hey, look, I'm expanding!) about the documentary ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway (yeah, I'm not actually expanding). I caught a press screening of the film last week; more about it, as always, in next week's TOC, but suffice to say for now that both the film itself and my subsequent chat with its director, Dori Berinstein (herself a Broadway producer with credits including Thoroughly Modern Millie, the NY transfer of Steppenwolf's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the current Legally Blonde) helped to renew my faith in the New York commercial theater. Even those who see Broadway as a bloated whore (ahem, Don) might be swayed. ShowBusiness opens locally at the Music Box next Friday, June 8.
And now on to the news and reviews:
- The Tribune has a profile of Chicago's current Celie, Jeannette Bayardelle.
- The William Friedkin film version of Tracy Letts' play Bug opened this weekend at fourth place in the box office rankings, not bad really for going up against Jack Sparrow, Shrek and Spider-Man. I haven't yet seen the film, and while the trailers make it look like a completely different animal from Letts' play, it's gotten good reviews, and Michael Shannon reprises his role from the original stage productions; Terry Armour at the Trib details how that happened.
- My own new reviews in this week's TOC: The Castle at Right Brain Project and Othello at Writers' Theatre. A five-star and a four-star, respectively, so my mother, who likes to tease that I never actually like anything, can rest easy this week. Also: our five-star review of Jerry Springer—The Opera, delayed by a week so we could talk about it at greater length (which also means that my chat with playwright Wendy MacLeod was bumped to a box, and won't show up online until Thursday; I'll link to it then).
- No holiday this weekend, which means we're back to plenty of openings. Among them: Steep Theatre's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Thursday; EP Theater's Nocturne, Friday; the side project's Raised, Friday; Collaboraction's Sketchbook, Saturday; BoHo Theatre's The Life, Saturday; and the Goodman's In the Continuum, Tuesday.
I have thoughts about things that've been percolating among the theatre blogs in the past week or two, mostly about the differences between Equity and non-Equity theater, professional and non-professional theater, and New York and non-New York theater, and the ways in which Chicago deserves its own category in all of those discussions, but after the baseball game I'm a little too hot-dogged, Old-Styled and, of course, Cubs-lossed to be lucid about any of that just now. Check back soon.