Posted inPerforming Arts Feature

Ventriloquism and Oobleck

When I think of ventriloquism in film, my thoughts flash to the commercials for 1978’s Magic that creeped me out as a kid. I wasn’t alone; according to the IMDb trivia page, the original trailer for this psychological horror film was pulled from broadcast after parents complained. (“Fats,” the murderous dummy who seemingly possesses Anthony […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The drama of addiction

There are currently two plays running in Chicago that talk about self-medicating, addiction, and how one’s actions impact those around them. One involves working-class people, a snapshot of reality for many across the country, and the other a figure in popular culture, a wealthy man whose lived experience is far from the reality for most. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

A Den of comedy

The last few months have been busy ones with theaters announcing new venues: if all goes well, American Blues, Steep, Northlight, and TimeLine will all be producing in their new homes sometime in the next couple of years. But the long COVID shutdown of 2020-21 also took away some venues that had provided rentals to […]

Posted inPerforming Arts Feature

The Rhino in spring

In January 2020, I checked in with Jenny Magnus about Rhinoceros Theater Festival (better known as Rhino Fest), the city’s longest running fringe theater festival. “The world is really hard right now,” Magnus said at the time. “All we have is each other and the intention to do something good. Aid and comfort. We just […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Collective healing

Queer bars are more than just bars that happen to be queer. They can be a refuge, a meeting place, and, quite literally, a safe space. They’re also places where our history has been written: from the Stonewall riots to the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Sam Mueller’s latest production unpacks what happens when the safety and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

A time that was wonderful

I didn’t meet the revered Chicago Tribune theater critic, Richard Christiansen, until 2016 when I started interviewing him for my book Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater. He was 84 years old and living at The Selfhelp Home, an assisted living facility for older Jewish adults where a caregiver he particularly liked would sit […]