Tag Archives: local interest

DePaul’s Theatre School to premiere new building with an Americana classic

As their 2013-2014 season approaches, DePaul University’s Theatre School is ready to show off their brand new shiny facilities with a classic old story that integrates current students and famous alumni as well, trying to give a sense of community and their proud past, while moving forward into the future.

“Our Town” will be the first production to be performed in the new theatre school, which is located in the heart of the Lincoln Park neighborhood at 2350 N. Racine, just a few short blocks from DePaul’s main Lincoln Park school campus. The new building contains  a 250-seat theatre and a 100-seat flexible theatre. The building also includes costume, makeup, prop and scene shops, rehearsal studios, lighting laboratories, movement studios, as well as classrooms and a conference center on the top floor that offers a breath-taking view of the Chicago skyline.

The season starts on October 5th and kicks off with Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” a 1938 three-act play set at the turn of the 20th century. The show, directed by Damon Kiely, is going to be different from other DePaul productions because is set to feature famous alumni each week in guest roles, including famed Hollywood actors John C. Reilly and Gillian Anderson.

Sitting down in one of the new avant-garde space age-looking spaces that’s designed for public performances, Catherine Miller, the play’s dramaturg said that  “A lot of alumni are excited to come back and perform here, they feel like they’re still part of it because it represents their legacy.”

Some of the famed alumni that will guest in "Our Town." In alphabetical order: Tom Amandes, Gillian Anderson, W. Earl Brown, Ann Dowd, Mary Grill, John Hoogenakker, Lisa Joyce, Adam Poss, PJ Powers, John C. Reilly, and Lucy Sandy. (Photo courtesy of DePaul's School of Theatre)
Some of the famed alumni that will guest in “Our Town.” In alphabetical order: Tom Amandes, Gillian Anderson, W. Earl Brown, Ann Dowd, Mary Grill, John Hoogenakker, Lisa Joyce, Adam Poss, PJ Powers, John C. Reilly, and Lucy Sandy. (Photo courtesy of DePaul’s School of Theatre)

As the school moves into a new era and a brand new building, it is no coincidence that the opening play is historically themed and has themes such as loss, despair, hope, and unity through adversity.

“This is a classic Americana play with a story that deals with the themes of community and our relationships with our fellow human beings,” Miller said. “We want to send the message that this new building is about feeling safe in a community environment, where you can deal with different issues, that might be hard to talk about.”

According to Miller the actors were trained to reflect this by detaching themselves from technology and media for at least three hours a day and were forced to interact with one another and others in close environments.

Besides “Our Town”, the season schedule will include hits such as, “Arabian Nights,” “A Free Man of Color,” and “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.”

Students such as Jill Ibach, 30, a senior DePaul student, have been surprised by the aesthetics and functionality of the new building.

“The new space finally seem to fit the school’s persona,“ Ibach said, “I’m glad to see that the theatre school is finally living up to their reputation with this modern building.”

Past vs. Future.
The historic Merle Reskin Theatre (left) in the loop will be repurposed as a youth and children oriented theatre, while the new building (right), located in Lincoln Park, will serve as the school’s main performance from now on. (Photos courtesy of DePaul University.)

According to the school’s website, their former theatre school building, the historical Merle Reskin Theatre, will still be open and serve as a space for “Chicago play works for families and young audiences.”

“Our Town” will run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. until October 13 at the Fullerton Stage.


New production of ‘Evita’ aims to revitalize a West End classic

September 25, 2013 by Juan Latapi

Eva Peron’s tragic but sweet story is part fairy tale and part Greek drama. Hope, love, ambition, and greed, are the main themes on this delightful new touring production playing in the Oriental Theatre until October 6th.

Written by modern musical virtuosos Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and directed by Michael Grandage, this new production of the classic seeks to charm and thrill new audiences, some of whom were born long after the original premiered in London’s Prince Edward Theatre in 1978.

The cast headed by Carolina Bowman and Josh Young (Evita and Che), bring to life classics such as “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” and “And the Money Kept Rolling in (And Out).” Young showcases his talents by delivering high-octave performances that can shoot past the ceiling of The Oriental Theatre and straight into the stratosphere, while Bowman gives us a confident, yet vulnerable Evita through performances such as, “Buenos Aires,” in which a wide-eyed Evita realizes all the opportunities to seize in the big capital, to “You Must Love Me,” in which Eva realizes her role past the political aspects, and  the true and unconditional love given by her husband and her people.

Bowman, Young, and some of the cast of "Evita" Photo courtesy of Broadway in Chicago, 2013.
Bowman, Young, and some of the cast of “Evita” Photo courtesy of Broadway in Chicago, 2013.

One of the greatest moments in the show comes in the form of a tango delivered by Juan Peron (played by Sean MacLauhlin who delivers some of the most intense performances of the night) and the generals in “The Art of the Possible” during the first act. Here Peron and other generals, dressed in typical military attire, dance to an intense tango (which symbolically accurately represents Peron’s rise in the army) in low lights with each other and recite lyrics such as, “One has no rules / Is not precise / One rarely acts / The same way twice.”

Another highlight of the show comes in the first act as well, through a sweet rendition of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall,” one of the main songs for which the show, album, and film are known for. Delivered by Krystina Alabado, who plays The Mistress, and backed by Che and the men’s chorus, this beautifully poetic rendition pulls the heart strings by evoking themes of despair and loss, and yet hope, through a sweetly sung melody that asks “Where am I going?” in a dark and cold stage.

Through and through, this new production manages to keep the audience’s interest piqued, while delivering a powerful story about a woman who is one of the greatest and most relentless public figures of the 20th century.

Michael Grandage and company still have a few kinks to work out, including some technological issues involving glitches with the projection screen during the second act, but considering that this was opening weekend, they manage to pull it off and live up to one of the grandest theater productions of the last 50 years.

The production will play in Chicago until October 6th,  after which it will  hit the road and visit a dozen American cities including Los Angeles, Seattle, and Las Vegas.

It is not easy to fill such big shoes, but the cast and crew of this new production have done that, and judging by the standing ovation given by the diverse audience, they have captivated a whole new crowd, including this humble writer.

Can Women Have It All?

By Juan Latapi

Chicago–Women can’t have it all, and how could they? They’re only human.

As times move forward, more and more women are making the argument that it is indeed possible to create the perfect balance between career and home life.

However, 66% of women still say it’s impossible to have it all. Continue reading Can Women Have It All?