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Podtalk: Desiree Burcum of ‘Yippie Fest,’ at the Prop Theatre in Chicago, Aug. 17-19, 2018

2018 Yippie Fest

CHICAGO – It’s the 2nd annual Yippie Fest in Chicago at the Prop Thtr (Theatre), and the three days of Theater, Performance, Music, Film, Comedy and more kicks off with the 2018 Opening Ceremonies on Friday, August 17th, and runs through Sunday, August 19th. The Fest evolved from the spirit of Mary-Arrchie Theater’s Abbie Hoffman Fest, which ran from 1989 to 2016. The Fest also celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Yippies (Youth International Party) in Chicago, during the Vietnam protests in August of 1968. The whole world was watching. For more information on Yippie Fest, including tickets, click here.

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Company Hosts a Monumental ‘Speech & Debate’

Speech & Debate (stage play)

CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Theater Review: American Theater Co.’s ‘We’re Gonna Be Okay’ Seeks Identity in Early 1960s

We're Gonna Be Okay

CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Film Review: Authentic Coming-of-Age in Expressive ‘Lady Bird’

CHICAGO – In one of the best American films of 2017, Greta Gerwig went behind the camera to write and direct an autobiographical overview of her Senior Year in high school, within a directionless town and family. The result is enlightening truth, told with laugh-out-loud directness and connective empathy. The film is a total winner.

Theater Review: Nothing Without a Company’s ‘Bobby Pin Girls’ Plays on Millennial Angst

Bobby Pin Girls

CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 10th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Co.’s ‘They’re Playing Our Song’ is Bright Entertainment

They're Playing Our Song

CHICAGO – During the late disco era of the 1970s, an unusual musical opened on Broadway. Essentially a two person stage play, “They’re Playing Our Song” involved a songwriter and a lyricist who develop a stronger connection than just writing partners. The always passionate Brown Paper Box Co. of Chicago has unearthed this chestnut with a bright and fun revival at the Rivendell Theatre through August 20th, 2017.

Podcast Talk: Allison Tolman & Lucas Neff of ABC-TV’s ‘Downward Dog’

CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

Theater Review: Nothing Without a Company’s ‘The Kid Thing’ is Fulfilling & Authentic

Kid Thing, The

CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Theater Review: Ease on Down to Kokandy’s Sensational ‘The Wiz’

CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

Theater Review: John Michael is Really Cooking in ‘Meatball Seance’

Meatball Seance

CHICAGO – Currently, one of the best monologists in Chicago – and certainly one of the nuttiest – is John Michael. After notorious and successful runs of his last two one-man shows, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me,’ Michael is taking on his dating life once again in the fun and hilarious “Meatball Seance.” The show has a Thursday night slot at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood through April 6th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Theater Review: Collaboraction Exposes the ‘Gender Breakdown’

Gender Breakdown

CHICAGO – In a spectacular original work, the power of the theater comments upon the inequity of “types” for women performers in the theater and other media. Collaboration’s “Gender Breakdown” is a performance piece on how women are subject to many cattle calls just based on how they look, and how certain women – especially those of color and ethnicity – will not even be considered for roles that involve romance or portraying a lead protagonist, for example…even when doing scene training in college. The stories are direct and authentic, and burst from the hearts of the storytellers. It runs in Chicago through March 19th, 2017 (see link below).

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Co. Dances ‘The Baltimore Waltz’

Baltimore Waltz, The

CHICAGO – During the scourge of the AIDS epidemic, at its height in the late 1980s, a playwright lost her brother to the condition. Inspired by him, Paula Vogel wrote “The Baltimore Waltz,” a story about her and her brother’s travels through Europe – and filtered through the prism of fantasy and the movies. The Brown Paper Box Company presents a re-staging of the play in Chicago through February 19th, 2017.

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  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

  • Bill Daily, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – He was America’s sidekick in TV’s golden decades of the 1960s and ‘70s, and was a proud Chicago-born-and-bred performer. Bill Daily, better known as Major Roger Healey (“I Dream of Jeannie”) and the wacky neighbor Howard Borden (“The Bob Newhart Show”) died at his New Mexico home at the age of 91 on September 4th, 2018.

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