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May 16, 2008


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I've been tying myself in knots trying to convey how vital it is that everyone I know go see this without giving anything away. I don't know how effective one particular moment in that piece would be if anyone knows about it in advance.

I actually already love "Our Town" and think it gets a bad rap because of how many people do it badly. The first time I saw it (in what in retrospect was probably a deeply mediocre community theatre production back in 1998) I made the mistake of sitting in the front row. By the end of act three the issues wasn't 'will I be able to keep from crying?' but 'will I be able to keep from loudly sobbing like a little girl?'

You'd think I'd learn. No, instead when I went I chose one of those seats in those two rows in the middle of the space. At least I had some nice lady next to me hand me a kleenex.

The only bummer about this is that now, it's going to be ages before anyone else can do this show without being jeered at ruthlessly by the city at large and compared unfavorably to this one. Uh, hi, Lookingglass! Um...how long have you been standing there?

But other things I think were seriously cool about this production were Jennifer Grace (great to see her do Emily because we both had glorified cameos in the last thing we did together- the parts we played were fun, but brief, and certainly not fully utilizing her skills) and also the guy who plays her husband who looks a lot like Robert Sean Leonard. And ....how can I describe this? There was just such an admirable lack of sentimentality about David's performance as the Stage manager. Every time he asks the audience "don't you remember that? How it used to be like that?" or "If you listen, you can hear it." Intentional or not-and I hope it was intentional- in this production every time we are asked that we're confronted by this silence- an echo, a void, as if a pit is opening up under our feet. Because no, we don't remember that. It's gone, and won't come back.d

Paul Rekk

God damn, the good press just keeps rolling in. I snatched up my tickets right away, but I won't be seeing it until next Friday. I haven't been anticipating a show this much in quite a while.

That said, I'm also very much anticipating the Lookingglass version. They've got the right people in place to do this show up right and do it up right in a completely different way than The Hypocrites do it up right. And Our Town is one of the few shows that would truly encourage that.

I'm a little giddy... it's gonna be a long week.

Scott Barsotti

Well, Kris, you've convinced me to see it. I hope to be disproven. On the TOC blog a couple weeks ago (in discussing the Pulitzers) I harped on 'Our Town' and 'A Chorus Line.' But my perception isn't based on bad productions, I've also additionally read the play and seen the 1939 Oscar-nominated film version. I've given 'Our Town' a bunch of chances, and as Wilder goes, I prefer 'Skin of Our Teeth.' Thus far. I just think 'Our Town' is over-stated and dull, and a couple of people jumped down my throat for it.

I hope to be proven wrong. This is an exciting report.


Everything except for a handful of 4 pm Saturday shows is sold the hell out, and I can't make those due to other commitments.

I'm missing this one and I'm monumentally bummed.


By the way- Kris, I agree that the Chopin is one of the more time consuming north-side venues to get to without a car. I usually hop on the Ashland bus south from my place, or from work down in the Loop I take the blue line out to Division. I remember when to get out there I used to either take the (really unreliable!) Division bus from Clark and Division, or worst of all, when my sense of city geography was so spotty that I took the Red Line south to the Loop, switched to Blue, and took the Blue line all the way out to Division! (Fortunately I've wised up slightly since then). I think its location is the main reason more people don't see shows there- it's actually one of the nicer venues in Chicago; in my opinion the only storefront that's more pleasant is Theatre Building. The Viaduct has/had a neat vibe but I'm actually pumped that the House is producing at the Chopin now- yay air conditioning! And for getting home after the show I'd rather wait for the Ashland bus northbound than the Western bus any day of the week.
Though...if you want to try a really "special" public tranportation theatre adventure, you need to start covering more stuff on the south side. Has anyone else reading this done the el-and-buses-only trek to Court Theatre? That's fun and a half.

Annie D.

I agree with Ed. I actually really love Wilder (the final show that I directed in college was a Wilder one act which I love love love to this day) and I think that he's been too pigeonholed for too long. The "basics" of his plays are flawless and utterly unsentimental, but somehow they've gotten stuck in a niche of weepy, well, sentimentality. It's great to hear that someone has apparently captured the real essence of his stuff, and I'm so upset that I missed this while I was in Chicago.


::crossing fingers for an EXTENSION::

Paul Rekk

"Has anyone else reading this done the el-and-buses-only trek to Court Theatre?"

My god, yes... only to be met with Titus once I arrived. I was not a happy camper that night.

his friend

Indeed, Kris. Indeed.

Mark Jeffries

"Our Town" can't extend. The Strange Tree Group goes in days after the Hypocrites close with their latest Emily Schwartz long-wacky-title-screwy-creepy-accordion-music show. (And I say that with great love.)


Kris if you ever need a plus one for the theatre give me a call--- I live two blocks away from you and have no qualms keeping someone company on the CTA or the ability to see good theatre with someone I can discuss it with. :)


Kris if you ever need a plus one for the theatre give me a call--- I live two blocks away from you and have no qualms keeping someone company on the CTA or the ability to see good theatre with someone I can discuss it with. :)

Old Ned

Last week the HYPOCRITES announced they will be remounting OUR TOWN this fall, running from the last weekend in September through the month of October. David Cromer will be back as the stage manager, and Jennifer Grace as Emily.

Old Ned

. . . and this will be back at the Chopin Theatre.

Kris Vire

Old Ned: I noted this in a separate post last week.


The Hypocrites are remounting Our Town with Cromer and Grace, runs Sept. 20th through October 26th at the Chopin Theater.

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

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