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May 14, 2008


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Dyllun Von Ritter

Hey I agree with you on the mermaid. For a laugh, meet Cubby Bernstein, the PREMIER Tony campaign manager.



I saw Top Girls early on in previews and Elizabeth Marvel was already pretty impressive - her performance is bold, scary, and completely in synch with Churchill's vision of the "modern woman" circa early 1980s Britian. Her final moments alone before her "niece" appears on the stairs frightened by nightmares was one of the best private moments I've seen onstage in I-don't-know-how-long.

The all-black revival of COAHTR shut-out is strange - but the Times this morning pointed out that nominations for all of the star-driven vehicles (Country Girl and Cyrano) were MIA - don't they know they have a television broadcast to think of, and the surest way to get the star power there is to nominate them??

Mark Jeffries

Sorry to disagree with you. Kris, but I think CST casts many more local actors than, say, the Goodman--and Barbara has always made it clear that she believes in Chicago talent. (In case you didn't notice, "Comedy of Errors" is all-local.) However, she does believe that CST should be considered a "world-class" Shakespearean theater--and part of being "world-class" is getting the best talent for the role (in the view of the director), no matter where they are. Your complaint sounds a little provincial to me.

Perhaps a more vital question is why Gary Griffin has never directed a mainstage Shakespeare play at CST and David Bell has not directed Shakespeare since he returned to the Chicago area. It just seems very interesting to me that the only directors she ever brings in for Shakespeare are out-of-towners. It's long seemed to me that she's scared of local directors getting better reviews for Shakespeare at her theater than her.

Kris Vire

Mark, I did notice Comedy of Errors is locally cast, and I appreciate that. And you're right that the Goodman is another big offender in this area. But consider that Barbara's Troilus and Cressida last spring featured a New York actor as Troilus and a Torontoan as Pandarus; that all three leads in Gary's Passion were imports; that last fall's Cymbeline brought in Joe Sikora and Juan Chioran; and that next season Canadian actor Ben Carlson, who played Hamlet two seasons ago at CST, will return to play Macbeth.

All of these shows featured plenty of Chicago actors, to be sure. But there definitely seems to be a tendency to put the Chicago actors in the supporting roles. You may see my view as "provincial," but I think the idea that we can't put on "world-class" Shakespeare without bringing in actors from elsewhere is a symptom of our second-city complex.

It's no wonder we lose so many good actors to New York and LA every year; they probably think they have a better chance of getting cast at Chicago's Tony-winning theaters if they move.

Kerry Reid

Sikora used to be local, right? He did a ton of shows with Lookingglass, at any rate. Does that count, if they started out here? I'm not being snarky -- I'm honestly wondering how we make that call if someone was an ensemble member or frequent artist with a company while they lived here, and then comes back to do work. Martha Plimpton lives in New York, has never lived in Chicago that I'm aware of, and yet because she's an ensemble member of Steppenwolf, I don't hear squawking when she's cast (though of course she hasn't done anything here lately, either).

None of this is to discount the "cast locally when you can" argument, which I generally support. Just trying to find the lines of demarcation.

Agree on the World Stage stuff being the best (but by no means the only) reason for CST to get the award.

As for the women directors, I will always love Julie Taymor for her acceptance speech for "The Lion King," which came right after Hynes became the first woman director to ever win a Tony for Beauty Queen: "I just want to say how excited I am to join this LONG, DISTINGUISHED line of female directors."

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  • Kris Vire
    I write about theater for Time Out Chicago. I write more about it here.

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