‘Hadestown’ and ‘Ferryman’ take multiple Tonys but revivals and adaptions also popular

Cast of 'The Ferryman' which won four Tony Awards. (Photo courtesy of The Ferryman Production.
Cast of ‘The Ferryman’ which won four Tony Awards. (Photo courtesy of The Ferryman Production.

 

You might have a favorite TV series and are bemoaning the end of Downton Abbey but the Tony Awards broadcast form Radio City Music Hall, Sunday, reminded folks of what theater is all about. – live dramatic and musical performances.

Host James Corden and the casts of Tony nominated shows put on a lengthy, fun-filled number about performing live. Though he did run up to the cameras saying “Forget what I just said… TV pays us better.”

If you watch the Academy or the Tony Awards on TV you do see the nominees’ reactions to winning and losing. So Corden looked for a few nominees in the audience and asked them to put on their best “loosing” expression.

The fun moment may have helped when the winners were announced because the losers seemed to try to wear their best congratulatory expressions.

Those expressions were particularly in force when Ali Stroker who performed her Ado Annie’s “I Cain’t Say No” song  from her wheelchair, won the Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical  for “Oklahoma” and when 80-something-year-old comedienne, screenwriter, film director, actress Elaine May received the Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for “The Waverly Gallery. ”

Here is a brief look at who and what took home Tony Awards.  For the complete list please visit TonyAwards/Winners.

Hadestown” (14 nominations) was the big winner with eight awards including Best Musical  and best actor in a featured role in a musical, André De Shields. Written by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and directed by Rachel Chavkin, the show combines the mythical tales of Orpheus and Eurydice with King Hades and wife Perspehone.

Ferryman” (nine nominations) was the next big winner with four Tonys including Best Play . Written by Jez Butterworth and directed by Sam Mendes it is a thriller that takes place in Northern Ireland in 1981.

“Ink,” “The Cher Show,”  “Oklahoma” and “Tootsie,” each took home two awards.

Ink” (6 nominations), written by James Graham and directed by Rupert Goold, is based on Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of the The Sun newspaper  and his aim to destroy the competition with the help of editor Larry Lamb and a team of reporters. Set in 1969 London, the show brought Bertie Carvel the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play as Murdoch. Neil Austin received a Tony for Best Lighting Design of a Play.

The Cher Show” (3 nominations)  previewed in Chicago before taking a “made-up show”about the entertainer’s life (so far) to Broadway. No surprise that Cher’s costumer Bob Mackie took the Tony for Best Costume Design. The show also brought Stephanie J. Block the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical.

Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma  (8 nominations)  received Tony Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (see above) and Best Revival of a Musical.

Tootsie – (11 nomination) won a Tony for Robert Horn for Best Book of a Musical and a Tony for Santino Fontana for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.

“Choir Boy,” “The Boys in the Band,” “Network,” “Aint Too Proud,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Waverly Gallery” each won one Tony.

Choir Boy,” (4 nominations) Tarell Alvin McCraney’s gender-sensitive show about making it in a choir was directed by Trip Cullman.

The Boys in the Band,” (2 nominations), by Matt Crowley and directed by Joe Mantello about a group of gay men, won Best Featured Actor in a Play  for Robin de Jesus.

Network,” ( 5 nominations) Lee Hall’s adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s Academy Award-winning film about an anchorman who falls apart while live on-screen, won Bryan Cranston Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play as anchorman Howard Beale.

Aint Too Proud” about the life and times of the Temptations, won Best Choreography for Sergio Trujillo.

To Kill a Mockingbird”  (9 nominations), Harper Lee’s famed play, adopted by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Bartlett Sher, brought Celia Keenan-Bolger the Tony for  Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured role in a Play.

The Waverly Gallery ” (1 nomination) by Kenneth Lonergan about a grandson watching his grandmother die from Alzheimer’s disease, brought in a Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.  (see above)

Check these show’s websites given here for their Broadway schedule.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

Three stylish blockbuster exhibits

Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh, Spring/Summer 2018, Look 11; courtesy of Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh. Photo: Fabien Montique.
Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh, Spring/Summer 2018, Look 11; courtesy of Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh. Photo: Fabien Montique.

 

If thinking about the fashions of tomorrow, head to the Museum of Science and Industry near the Hyde Park neighborhood for “Wired to Wear.”

If anyone in the household is wondering how people break into the fashion industry, go over to the Museum of Contemporary Art for Virgil Abloh’s “Figures of Speech.”

If curious how a famed 19th century artist dresses his models and sees  1870s-1880s Parisian apparel, visit “Manet and Modern Beauty” at the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

 

Microsoft design Smart tattoo of gold and metal leaf. (Photo courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry.)
Microsoft design Smart tattoo of gold and metal leaf. (Photo courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry.)

“Wired to Wear”

Some day, probably sooner than you expect, your what-to-wear question will be which of your wired apparel would best suit the day’s activities.

Choices could range from Nike’s Self-Lacing Shoes because of time constraints to a D-Air Racing suit with a cushion that inflates before your crash to prevent injury such as when racing a motorcycle.  Or the choice might range from an Iridescence collar that will detect the mood of people encountered to a Smart Tattoo on the arm that interfaces with your mobile device and makes a personal style statement.

Designed by Microsoft, the tattoo in the exhibit allows visitors to create notes on an instrument and even control lighting. To hear more about it go to Duoskin.

Similar to the Coal Mine, visitors need a special ticket in addition to museum entry. Opened in Mid-Mach 2019, the exhibit continues to May 2020. MSI is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago. For hours and other information see Visit.

 

Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”, MCA Chicago June 10 – September 22, (2019 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.)
Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”, MCA Chicago June 10 – September 22, (2019 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.)

“Figures of Speech”

Engineer, architect, artist, fashion designer, Virgil Abloh is a 30-seomthing, black male from Rockford, Il whose creativity and determination has taken him from t-shirt designs to founding “Off-White,” his own line in Milan, and becoming Louis Vuitton Men’s Artistic Director.

But what the MCA exhibit which opens to the public June 10 does, is more than highlight Abloh’s career to date. It also offers the artist’s sense of astonishment that he has been successful in an industry not exactly populated by blacks.

So race is an underlying theme. However, Abloh also hopes the exhibit will inspire youngsters to go for their dreams undeterred by obstacles. There is an accompanying store, called “Church and State,” that is on the same 4th floor as the exhibit. It has Abloh items and a catalogue that further explains the theme and the “go-for-it philosophy.

The exhibit goes to Sept. 22, 2019. MCA is at 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. Admission is by timed tickets. For more information or tickets call 312-397-4010.or see Visit and Events.

 

Édouard Manet. Letter to Madame Jules Guillemet, Decorated with a Portrait and a Still Life of a Bag and a Parasol, July 1880. Private Collection. (Credit: Saint Honoré Art Consulting, Paris.)
Édouard Manet. Letter to Madame Jules Guillemet, Decorated with a Portrait and a Still Life of a Bag and a Parasol, July 1880. Private Collection. (Credit: Saint Honoré Art Consulting, Paris.)

 

“Manet and Modern Beauty”

In his early years, 19th century French artist Édouard Manet had primarily focused on historical and religious subjects. But in his later years when he transitioned to Impressionism he became interested in modern life and ladies’ fashionable apparel and leisure activities. The exhibit features more than 90 works from paintings to letters.

The audio devise that accompanies the exhibit and some of the wall descriptions explain clothing choices and mention the stylish apparel of men and women.

The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. The exhibit is only up this summer and ends Sept. 8, 2019.  For admission and hours see AIC/visit.

 

These exhibits deserve to be on the summer do list.

Jodie Jacobs

 

‘Bridges’ and ‘Requiem’ big Jeff Non Equity Award winners

 

Theo Ubique Cabaret theatre" 'Bridges of Madison county' won four Jeff Awards. (pPhoto by . Joe Mazza / Brave Lux)
Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre” ‘Bridges of Madison county’ won four Jeff Awards. (pPhoto by . Joe Mazza / Brave Lux)

The Jeff Awards which have recognized outstanding theatre productions and artists since 1968 announced the 2019 Non-Equity recipients for the 2018-19 season on June 3, 2019. The Equity awards will be announced Oct. 21, 2019. For all nominees, awards and other news visit JeffAwards.

There were 144 Non-Equity productions eligible during the season going from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, Sixty eight of them were recommended for awards.

This year’s multiple awards by theatre were The Artistic Home – 4, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre – 4, Raven Theater -4, Sideshow Theatre Company – 3, Jackalope Theatre Company -2, Broken Nose Theatre-2 (1 in association with About Face Theatre), Haven Theatre Company – 2 and Kokandy Productions- 2.

Multiple awards by production: The Bridges of Madison County (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre) – 4, Requiem for a Heavyweight (The Artistic Home)  – 4, Grand Hotel (Kokandy Production)  – 3, Tilikum (Sideshow Theatre Company) – 3, Dutch Masters (Jackalope Theatre Company) – 2, Girl in the Red Corner  (Broken Nose Theatre) – 2 and Yen (Raven Theatre)  – 2.

Trap Door Theatre received a Special Award for “opening the door to an evocative and surreal world for 25 years.”

Broken Nose Theatre received the “Ensemble” award for “Plainclothes.”

'Requiem for a Heavyweight' was a big winner in the Non-Equity Jeff Awards. (Photo by .Joe Mazza / Brave Lux)
‘Requiem for a Heavyweight’ was a big winner in the Non-Equity Jeff Awards. (Photo by .Joe Mazza / Brave Lux)

The productions that took the most awards were Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s “The Bridges of Madison County” which won best Musical Production, Best Director of a Musical (Fred Anzevino), Best Performer in a Principal Role in a Musical (Kelli Harrington as Fancesca), and Best Musical Direction ( Jeremy Ramey).

The Artistic Home’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight” took Best Production- Play, Best Director-Play (John Mossman), Best Sound Design (Petter Wahback) and Performer in a Principal Role – Play (Mark Pracht as Harlan “Mountain” McCintock. There were two awards in this category. The other went to Patrick Agada (Eric) in Jackalope Theatre Company’s “Dutch Masters.”

To see all the awards and their categories please visit Jeff Awards.

Jodie Jacobs

Let’s live life through music . . .

Cast of Falsettos. (Joan Marcus photo)
Cast of Falsettos. (Joan Marcus photo)

4 stars

In 2017 when “Falsettos” returned to Broadway, it was nominated for five Tony Awards, including the Best Revival of a Musical.  Now two years later, this fabulous musical is in Chicago, directed by playwright James Lapine with music and lyrics by William Finn.

Taking place in New York in the 1970s, we meet a charming, neurotic gay man, Marvin, played by Max Von Essen; along with his 10-year-old son, Jason, played by Thatcher Jacobs.

We also meet psychiatrist, Mendel (Nick Blaemire) and Marvin’s wife Trina (Eden Espinosa)whom he leaves for his lover, Whizzer (Nick Adams).

“Falsettos” second act introduces two lesbian neighbors of Marvin’s, Dr. Charlotte (Bryonha Marie Parham) and Cordelia (Audrey Cardwell).

Performed by phenomenal voices, “Falsettos’ ” wonderful songs tell the story throughout the show.

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June art shows and gallery exhibits

 

Outdoor art fairs are a summer activity in suburbs and Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)
Outdoor art fairs are a summer activity in suburbs and Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)

Whether seeing art shows outside or exhibits inside, summer is a great time to check on what artists have been doing in their studios. Also, it’s a chance to find just the right piece for over the mantle or to spark conversation in a sitting area. Here are a few shows tovisit in June or until they disappear.

 

Chicago Artists Coalition is sponsoring “Far from the distance we see,” an exhibition of new works by Mev Luna. Opening May 31 with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m., the exhibit continues through July 11, 2019 at 2130 W. Fulton St., Chicago. For more information visit Chicago Artists Coalition/events.

 

Gold Coast Art Fair, a huge annual show that attracts 300 exhibitors, moved to June 1-2 this year at Butler Field in Grant Park at South Lake shore Drive and Monroe Street behind the Art Institute of Chicago. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit Amdur Productions/Gold Coast.

 

57th Street Art Fair in Chicago’s  Hyde Park neighborhood, near 5631 S. Kimbark June 1-2.. Hours: Saturday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Considered the oldest Midwest juried art fair it has about 250 exhibitors. For more information visit 57th Street Art Fair.

 

MoniqueMeloche a fine art gallery at 451 N. Paulina St. is showing “Basking Never Hurt No One” by artist Cheryl Pope, June 6 through Aug. 17, 2019. He opening reception is June 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information visit Moniquemeloche.

 

Old Town Art Fair runs June 8-9 this year. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 8 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 9. The main entry is at Lincoln Avenue at Wisconsin in the Old Town triangle District. Suggested donation is $10. More information is at Old Town Art Fair.

 

The Art Center (TAC) summer exhibits are “Undercurrents” and “Inside/Outside,” June 14 through Aug. 3, 2019. TAC is at 1957 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park. The artists reception is June 14 at  5:30 p.m. For more information visit The Art Center/Exhibits.

 

North Shore Art League’s “Art in the Village” is June 22 – 23, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days in Hubbard Woods Park, 939 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka. For more information visit North Shore Art League.

 

Festival of Fine Arts takes place June 22-23 on Sheridan Road on the north east side of downtown Highland Park. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information visit Amdur Productions/Highland Park.

Jodie Jacobs

 

‘Next to Normal’ dives into mental illness with clarity

 

From L. Kyrie Courter (Natalie )Keely Vasquez (Diana) David Schlumpf (Dan) and Liam Oh (Gabe). (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
From L. Kyrie Courter (Natalie )Keely Vasquez (Diana) David Schlumpf (Dan) and Liam Oh (Gabe). (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

4 stars

“Next to Normal” brilliantly and unerringly brings to the stage what life is like in a home where a family member is mentally ill.

Penned by Brian Yorkey who also did the lyrics and with music by Tom Kitt, the show took three Tony awards in 2009. It also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama because even though it has highly expressive musical numbers, it is not a feel-good musical.

“Next to Normal” is a heart-wrenching drama about a husband who keeps trying to help his wife combat what has been diagnosed as bi-polar depression triggered by the death of their young son early in their marriage and about their teenage daughter who no matter how successful she is in school, can’t get the attention she deserves and craves.

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Art Institute turns spotlight on Édouard Manet

 

Jeanne (Spring); Édouard Manet (French, 1832 - 1883); France; 1881; Oil on canvas; 74 × 51.5 cm (29 1/8 × 20 1/4 in.); 2014.62 (Photo courtesy of Art Institute of Chicago)
Jeanne (Spring); Édouard Manet (French, 1832 – 1883); France; 1881; Oil on canvas; 74 × 51.5 cm (29 1/8 × 20 1/4 in.); 2014.62
(Photo courtesy of Art Institute of Chicago)

If you are only familiar with 19th century French artist Édouard Manet’s early and middle period styles you are likely to find quite a few surprises in  “Manet and Modern Beauty,” a wonderfully extensive, new exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago that showcases his later works.

Before he died in 1883 at age 51 from complications from syphilis and rheumatism, Manet was influencing other painters as he moved from a transgressive style in the 1860s to Impressionism in the 1870s and from historical and religious subjects to modern life and what he could capture “plein air” as influenced by Berthe Morisot.

Now, get to know his late 70’s and early 80’s works plus see some earlier, important Impressionism pieces. “Manet and Modern Beauty” is the first Art Institute show to focus just on Manet in more than 50 years.

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‘The Memo’ brings a dystopian message from Vaclav Havel

Tricia Rogers (Director Gross) in 'The Mem.' (Photo by Anna Gelman)
Tricia Rogers (Director Gross) in ‘The Mem.’ (Photo by Anna Gelman)

 

3 Stars

“The Memo” is an interesting if not important piece of theater as it was written by Vaclav Havel who went on to become a player on the world stage in the role of reformer. Havel served as the last President of Czechoslovakia, then as the first President of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003.

Written in 1965, it was originally translated into English as “The Memorandum” by British writer Vera Blackwell in 1967. The Organic Theatre production is using the later translation from 2006, encouraged and approved by Havel, written by Canadian Paul Wilson and re-titled “The Memo.”

This is an absurdist black comedy that might be described as Monty Python meets “Office Space” in the “Twilight Zone.”

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Chicago shakes “Six” wives

 

Cast of 'Six" at Chicago Shakespeare. (Liz Lauren photo)
Cast of ‘Six” at Chicago Shakespeare. (Liz Lauren photo)

3 Stars

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents the North American premiere of the energetic pop-concert musical “Six” by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss featuring the story of the six wives of England’s 16th Century monarch Henry VIII.

The fate of the queens are apparently remembered by English school children using the rhyme “divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived” which becomes the leitmotif of the opening number as the women introduce themselves to the audience.

A series of nine musical numbers centered around a common theme with virtually no dialog, this production is more of a pop-concert than what you think of as traditional musical theater.

Presented as a kind of musical competition, each of the “Six” wives takes turns telling her life story, including her relationship with the notorious Henry.

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Understanding the Frankenstein story

Walter Briggs, Cordelia Dewdney and Debo Balogun in Mary Shelly's 'Frankenstein' at Lookingglass Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)
Walter Briggs, Cordelia Dewdney and Debo Balogun in Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’ at Lookingglass Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

3 stars

To understand director/playwright David Catlin’s production of “Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein” at Lookingglass Theatre, you probably should go back to the original story conceived during competitive ghost, story-telling sessions at Lord Byron’s Swiss Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva.

Eighteen-year-old Mary Godwin was at Byron’s retreat with lover Percy Bysshe Shelley whom she would marry after his wife, Harriet, died. Also there, aside from British romantic poet George Gordon Byron (6th Baron Byron), was Godwin’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont and Dr. John Polidori.

Mary, using the last name of Shelly before they’re married, directs the people at the Villa to join her in playing the characters in her competitive entry. It’s a clever devise.

Knowing all parts of her “Frankenstein” novel sahead of time will help explain Lookingglass’ opening scene in the arctic where Captain Robert Walton and crew are temporarily iced-in at the North Pole.

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