Big news: Theater Oobleck is embarking on a collaborative circus arts production with El Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico. We will develop the work — a melding of circus arts and Oobleckian narrative, addressing issues surrounding emigration from Puerto Rico — to premiere in both Chicago and San Juan in 2015.
The project is being made possible through the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund. You can read about all the wonderful projects they are supporting this year by reading their press release.
The populist El Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico was founded in 2010. It has performed regularly throughout the island at festivals, schools, theaters, and in the streets.
Gapers Block came out to the Hideout Inn to catch our Baudelaire in a Box “Episode 5” reprise. They said:
Like Baudelaire’s poems, which connect profound urban ennui to sometimes bawdy, sometimes gory imagery, the illustrations linked one non-sequitur to the next with sometimes humorous, sometimes distressing strokes.
Although the French read Baudelaire with great seriousness, one can only imagine that the poet himself meant for them to be read — or sung — as they were last night
The full review is here.
We had a great night. We thank 80 Foots Per Minute for warming up, the incredible Ronnie Kuller for making us a part of her month-long musical residency, and the Hideout for hosting.
Do you want to keep tabs on your favorite Theater Oobleck ensemble members? Here it is… a busy calendar of events from a busy bunch of people.
October 2 through October 19
October 5 through November 3
- Mickle Maher has authored The Pine, produced by The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston. Tell your exes who live in Texas and read the great Houston Chronicle article all about Mickle.
- Guy Massey appears as Fetus Two in Smokefall at the Goodman Theatre. Check out some great rehearsal photos of him.
- David Isaacson returns to The Paper Machete at the Green Mill. It is a weekly salon in a saloon!
October 18 & 19
- Martha Bayne reads her work at That’s All She Wrote!, a LiveLit event, 8pm at Swim Cafe, 1357 W. Chicago.
October 17 through December 3
- Dave Buchen (and his kids) will appear in The Singing Pictures Show at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn. It’s a festival of cantastoria.
October 18 through November 1 (3 shows only)
- Colm O’Reilly appears in A Red Orchid Theatre’s production of Trevor.
October 24 – November 16
- Diana Slickman appears in the latest BoyGirlBoyGirl show, Phenomena of Materialisation with our good friends Stephanie Shaw, David Kodeski, and Edward Thomas-Herrera.
- David Isaacson will talk about allergies at Ray’s Tap Reading Series at the Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, 10pm.
And in other ensemble news, Dave Buchen’s annual hand-printed calendar is done and available for purchase.
Jeff Dorchen delivers a weekly “Moment of Truth” every Saturday morning on the radio program This Is Hell. It is available for streaming or download.
The folks over at the City of Chicago’s Theater on the Lake have invited us to bring back Mickle Maher’s There Is a Happiness That Morning Is for one final week. Diana Slickman and Colm O’Reilly will reprise their roles, and the wonderful HB Ward (who played Oscar Madison in our “Strauss at Midnight”) will fill the shoes of the wonderful Kirk Anderson.
“Back by Popular Demand” is a theater-marketing cliché, of course, but in this case we can back it up. Fans of the show have been dropping us notes on Facebook, and you can read what they said about the first two runs of the show.
On June 19th, Theater Oobleck celebrated its 25th anniversary with performances of new work and from its very first season, 1988.
The event was presented by Pivot Arts, and was part of the “Rough Magic” series, which harnesses the creativity of the Chicago theater community to benefit innovative organizations.
Soup and bread were supplied by Soup & Bread.
Theater Oobleck raised a total of $1720 for Vital Bridges, The Peoples Music School, and the Preston Bradley Center.
Oobleck’s runaway hit, There Is A Happiness That Morning Is, is currently enjoying not one, but two, national productions. The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston is reprising their 2011 production from May 10-May 25, and the Cleveland Public Theatre is offering a brand-new production, May 9 – May 25.
You can read the Cleveland Plain Dealer review here and the Houston reviews here
Oobleck will also be bringing back our own production for one final weekend, at the City of Chicago’s Theater on the Lake, July 10 – 14.
Episode 4 of Baudelaire in a Box featured this song — “Le Guignon” — by The New Town Drunks. They have now released it on digital CD.
You can purchase the entire album from their website.
Happiness playwright Mickle Maher talks about the power of public sex, the actor’s prerogative, and why the play was almost about mummies in this half-hour podcast from Talk Theatre in Chicago. Includes bonus stale bread metaphors!
Proceeds from the performance of There Is A Happiness That Morning Is on Thursday, February 28 will go toward the amazing and worthy Soup and Bread.
“This. Play. Is. Killer.”
Such a book nerd seemed to like the show.
WBEZ’s Dueling Critics Kelly Klenman called Happiness “the most remarkable mix of poetry and drama that you are ever likely to see.” Listen to the segment on theatre week.
“If the American theater harbors a precedent for Mickle Maher’s astonishing 2011 play There Is a Happiness That Morning Is, I’ve never found it . . . “
“ . . . richer, funnier, and more heartbreaking than ever.”
— Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader
READ THE WHOLE THING HERE:
There is an astonishment that There Is a Happiness That Morning Is is
Thanks to Time Out’s Kris Vire, for including us on the teevee in his roundup of notable shows.
ABC 7 NEWS: What’s Playing at Local Theaters
Allison Cuddy’s previews Happiness and interviews Mickle.
READ AND LISTEN HERE
“one of the most emotionally stirring works in the company’s distinguished history.”
Read the rest.
NOW BUY YOUR TICKETS.
The Hunchback Variations Opera (re-christened The Hunchback Variations: A Chamber Opera for its stay on the East Coast) has just completed a very fun and successful month-long run at the wonderful 59E59 Theater in Manhattan. This New York run of the show was produced by Brian W. Parker Productions, in association with Theater Oobleck and 59E59. Thanks Brian! Thanks 59E59!
Mark Blankenship did a wonderful interview with the singers, George Andrew Wolff and Larry Adams, in TDF Stages, linked here, and Playbill covered the gala opening night party here.
The audiences were wonderful, the reviews were terrific. Here are excerpts from and links to some of them.
Photo: Carol Rosegg
Adam Feldman writes in his 4 out of 5 star review in TimeOut New York
“Engrossing… Maher’s witty libretto … has been set to deliberative music by Mark Messing that draws out its mysteries in cunning shifts of style, tempo and tone… The Hunchback Variations scores a haunting success while exalting a space for failure.”
Andy Propst in Backstage
“Thoroughly riveting … A remarkably poignant exploration of the painfully ephemeral nature of the artistic process and life itself… Paul Ghica (cello) and Christopher Sargent (piano) play it with beautiful delicacy, while the graceful tenor Wolff and the commandingly powerful bass-baritone Adams glide with precision over some exceptionally tricky melodic lines.”
Trish Vignola in Broadway World
“Larry Adams as Quasimodo and George Andrew Wolff as Beethoven were great… As usual, Chicago leads the way with some of the most innovative original theatre in the United States today. The Hunchback Variations is an exploration of the artistic process and the tragic humor that often befalls an artist. I’m glad it made its way to New York.”
Susan Hall in Berkshire Fine Arts
“It is easy to understand why theaters around the world have produced revivals of Oobleck’s plays. The originality and the profound talent of the actors and musicians are alone worth a visit. That your mind tangles and dissects the fun and the conundrums as both actors sing beautifully is an added treat. In this take in New York, the absurd situation is full of touching and rollicking humor. And the opera is curiously and absurdly moving.”
Ed Malin in NYTheatre.com
…a hilarious evening… the text itself blew me away.”
And Kenneth Jones, Managing Editor of Playbill, wrote on Twitter:
“Loved Hunchback Variations … An absurd and often touching musical rumination on the sisyphean work of artists.”
We got great press for Baudelaire in a Box, Episode 4: Bad Luck, which premiered in North Carolina. Here’s links to the previews, with some choice quotes:
“You get handed a whole book of poems, of beautiful poetry about bars and opium and prostitutes and all the sins and beauties of life,” says Roberto Confresi of the New Town Drunks about adapting Baudelaire’s odes. “Each one is more incredible than the last.”
From The Herald Sun
“The illustration is all in my little world. The music is in their world, and they all meet.”