The Beginning: 7/30 – 8/4 (Preview and Chart)

We're back up to 20 shows this week!  Yay, d20!
We’re back up to 20 shows this week! Yay, d20!

Some weeks I wish that I had loaded dice.  Or at least that my dice would do as I will them to do.

I often get emails from directors and producers who want me to cast aside my die-rolling ways and to choose their show to review.  I can’t do that, of course.  Some of the less savvy folks will point out that I could say that I rolled their show and no one would be the wiser.  But, since I try to do everything with integrity, I maintain that this column wouldn’t work right if I did that.  Not at all.  And yet, this week’s chart includes some sure-fire winners and some shows that intrigue.  So, since I can’t review them all this week, and I cannot discard the dice, I will let you know in advance a couple that I might check out, were I allowed:

“Cascabel” – This play is a remount of last year’s cooking meets theatre spectacle starring TV chef Rick Bayless.  I couldn’t fit the show into my budget last year, and truthfully, I still can’t.  Tickets are $240 a pop.  But, the 3-hour experience of viewing a tale and eating the same meal as is being spun out on the stage, sounds completely worth it.  I’ve eaten at 2 of Bayless’s three Chicago restaurants (I’ve yet to try Xoco, and I don’t count the one in the airport).  The food is likely to be worth the price of admission alone.  This is a Looking Glass show being performed at the Goodman.  I didn’t roll this show, but if you do, and it is within your budget, get yourself some tickets right away.

firsttimeMy First Time” – It’s on the chart, but it has suddenly been removed from the schedule.  Why?  This show which is also a remount of a successful show from last year is doing well enough that the Greenhouse Theatre Center has moved it from one of their smaller venues to the mainstage.  They’ll reopen again next week.  So, while I’d love to see it this week, I’m glad to say that it’s doing well and that I’ll have to wait.  So will you.  The show is filled with tales of people’s first experiences with sex.  Naturally, it’s completely universal.  And it’s funny.  AND it stars two of my favorite actors in Chicago, Spenser Davis and Jovan King.

Steppenwolf’s “First Look” Season – Summer is the time for festivals.  Many festivals are short one-weekend things.  Not so with the “First Look” at Steppenwolf.  You may have noticed that there are three Steppenwolf Garage shows on the chart this week.  “Hushabye”, “Ironbound”, and “Okay, Bye” are all receiving developmental productions.  There are also two readings going on this month there as well.  As a playwright I’m thrilled with the work that Steppenwolf does to bring new works forward all year ’round.  If you can work one of these into your schedule, do so.  If you can work all three into your life, you’re lucky.

Hellish Half-Light” – I just set foot in Mary Arrchie’s space for the first time about a month ago.  It is small and dark.  It is at the top of a narrow stairway.  It feels inherently artistic, and the folks that populate it do, too.  August is about to be a very busy time for Mary Arrchie, as it always is, thanks to the Abbie Hoffmann Died For Your Sins Festival, which is in its 26th year.  Check that festival out August 15-17 at any time (really, it’s 72 hours non-stop theatre).  In the meantime, the company is doing a selection of Sam Beckett’s lesser known short works.  The AbbieFest is taking place on the set of “Hellish Half-Light” so many of this city’s theatre folks are growing familiar with it, and I hear that this is going to be a lot of fun to see.  But, it didn’t com eup on the dice this go ’round.

So… What did come up on the dice?  Well, I’ll be seeing “The Jungle” at Oracle Productions this week.  This is either the last or second-to-last show that my daughter will be attending with me this summer before she heads back to Minnesota.  We will be catching one show up there as well on the day I take her back.  It will be fun to return to the Minnesota Fringe Festival for one night.  In the meantime, I’ll have a review of a play about meat and Chicago’s Lithuanians in a few days.

Now for some random stuff:

  • $41
  • We went to Leona’s Pizza last night.  After a management/ownership change, that place is not what it used to be.  That saddens me.  I used to love going there and getting their lasagnas.  I think I made my last visit to Leona’s last night.  Yup.  Sadness ensues.
  • “Catch the Fish” was the 40th show I’ve seen this year in Chicago.  I’ve actually seen 42 shows total this year, but one was in Madison and another was in Milwaukee.
  • Trying to come up with random stuff to put in this list gets to be kind of challenging.  I just spent far too long counting the bricks on one wall of my apartment, which has exposed brick in the dining room.  I didn’t finish counting.  That was an absurd waste of time.
  • Today’s trivia is brought to you by Hooked on Facts: “Roosters can’t crow if they can’t fully extend their necks.” —   I was going to make some witty comment about designing something that would keep my neighbor’s rooster from waking me up, but honestly, I don’t know whether I’ve ever been awakened by a rooster.  I do use a rooster sound as my alarm on my cell phone, so some days I’m awakened by that, but that’s on purpose.  And, I don’t think that specific rooster even has a neck, making the entire topic moot.