CONVERSATIONS with Ed Tracy

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DE USURIS

New shows continue to roll out this week in Chicago, among them: The Originalist at Court, Having Our Say at Goodman, Buried Child at Writers and just around the corner, 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas at Lookingglass. 

Tune in for two new CONVERSATIONS available in our ARCHIVE or for download on iTunes, Stitcher and Libsyn. Happy Mother's Day!

Tony Macaluso, Director of the WFMT Radio Network, joined the CONVERSATION to talk about The Studs Terkel Radio Archive which is launching on May 16th with public events at the American Writers Museum and The Hideout.  All of the excitement is about the new, state-of-the-art website that will soon provide access to over 5,000 interviews. The date also celebrates what would have been Studs 106th birthday! A 1960 interview with silent film star Buster Keaton is featured. PODCAST

You will also enjoy our wide-ranging CONVERSATION with Director, Actor and Northwestern professor, Henry Godinez about the new Chicago Children's Theatre musical Last Stop on Market Street, his professional career and family, and the evolving Latino theater programming at Goodman Theater. PODCAST

You might be able to still get in to see Paul Marinaro's salute "Sinatra at the Sands" on Saturday, May 12th at Studebaker Theater. Showtime: 7:30 p.m. If you are planning to be AROUND & ABOUT this weekend, you will want to check out THE LIST to see what's going on and check out our PICKSINSIX Reviews for BUDDY ... HOW TO USE A KNIFE ... MEMPHIS ... LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET ... GRAND HOTEL!

The cast of Lyric Opera's JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR turned out at Monday Night Live at Petterino's. Look for cast members from FIREBRAND'S 9 TO 5 this week at Petterino's. See the show through May 20th at The Den Theater ... Chicago Shakespeare's MACBETH is in The Yard at Navy Pier through June 24th. Look for what's happening on The List and watch for our reviews soon on Theatre In Chicago 

PICKSINSIXMercury Theater Chicago's new venue VENUS presents COMPANY through June 3rd ... Drury Lane SOUTH PACIFIC through June 17th ... Firebrand 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL through May 20th ... Marriott Lincolnshire OKLAHOMA through June 10th ... Porchlight MEMPHIS through June 16th HOTPICK: American Blues Theater Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story through May 26th ... E. Faye Butler in Chicago Children's Theatre Last Stop on Market Street through May 27th ... Paul Marinaro sings salute "Sinatra at the Sands" at The Studebaker May 12th Tammy McCann at Winter's May 19th Elaine Dame on June 7th ... Denise Tomasello will be celebrating the Royal Wedding on May 19th at the Drake Hotel. Everyone is still celebrating the 10th anniversary year at Monday Night Live at Petterino's with co-hosts Denise McGowan Tracy & Beckie Menzie. Firebrand's 9 TO 5 cast will be in the house on May 13th. Make a reservation today! See you there!

PICKSINSIX(sm) a short-form commentary and review platform. Six words. Six comments. All you need to know to go. Like us on Facebook, Follow on Twitter. Read our recent PICKSINSIX reviews and be sure to subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes, Libsyn and Stitcher.

NEW FEATURE LINKS: Check out THE LIST and for all the rest, visit: THEATRE IN CHICAGO!

Special thanks to our sponsor REGUS CHICAGO the market leader in office space, for helping to make our programs possible. 

HENRY GODINEZ: INSPIRING STORIES. OPENING DOORS.

When he is not teaching at Northwestern, planning the next major Latino program at Goodman or directing, the multi-talented Henry Godinez, who has been described as a master comedian and storyteller, might be quietly found riding up Sheridan Road on a bike.

These days, you are more likely to find him directing a show in The Station at 100 South Racine Avenue in Chicago, home of the Chicago Children’s Theatre where a new musical, Last Stop On Market Street is enjoying its Chicago premiere. The heartwarming story of a boy and his grandmother’s crosstown journey of discovery was written by Matt de la Pena with illustrations by Christian Robinson. The play was written by Cheryl L. West with music and lyrics by Motown legend Lamont Dozier and his son, Paris Ray Dozier. And the show stars the incomparable E. Faye Butler as Nana and a pair of terrific youngsters – Alejandro Medina and Kei Rawlins – sharing the role of CJ.

Henry Godinez joined the CONVERSATION on May 4th to talk about the development process for the new show, his professional career and talented family, the evolving Latino theater community and what it is about a story that makes it worthy of a stage treatment.

Listen to the CONVERSATIONS PODCAST.

HENRY GODINEZ

Co-commissioned work …
"Cheryl L. West is a hard-hitting, American playwright, one of the great contemporary American playwrights, who wrote important, beefy plays like Pullman Porter Blues that we did at the Goodman … Jar the Floor at Northlight. So, I love that when Jacqui Russell at Chicago Children's Theatre and Peter Brosius, Artistic Director of Minneapolis Children's Theater Company, co-commissioned this piece, they thought to engage a playwright like Cheryl L. West … One of the first things that Jackie knew when she wanted to adapt this story was that E. Faye Butler was Nana, the grandmother. Maybe it's because she is a grandmother now and she has a seven-year old grandson that she said yes.  … the greatest thing about this production is that, at the center of it, you have Ms. E. Faye Butler, a Chicago legend."

  Read our  PicksInSix Review  on the new musical Last Stop on Market Street now playing at  Chicago Children's Theatre , 100 S. Racine through May 27th TIX: (312)374.8835  

Read our PicksInSix Review on the new musical Last Stop on Market Street now playing at Chicago Children's Theatre, 100 S. Racine through May 27th TIX: (312)374.8835  

Last Stop on Market Street … "this boy is out of his element … interacting with people that he doesn't ordinarily see and being in a world that is not like his at all. … It's about the preconceptions that we all bring to a situation … how we judge people according to how they look or sound … he thinks this is going to be a rotten four days and little by little, with the help of his Nana - this force of nature, E. Faye Butler, a true Chicago treasure - he realizes that even in the things that we think are scary or dirty or frightening, there is beauty, more than he had ever imagined."

Latino Theater Festival … "the last production in the old Goodman was Zoot Suit that I was fortunate to direct … Goodman had never done a Latino play on the main stage before ... never seen so many Latinos in the audience. … We moved … and then 911 happened. Programming, not just at the Goodman, but I think in a lot of arts institutions, became very safe. I went to Roche Schulfer(Goodman's Executive Director) and said, “Roche, you know, the audience is going to forget where we moved. They're not going to know we moved. They're going to think, ‘Wait a minute! I was just here and it was great and where did they go?’ So, we started the Latino Theater Festival as a way to jump-start our Latino audience programming at the Goodman. Over the years that meant bringing companies in from Spain, Mexico and South America and, eventually, even Cuba, and national Latino theater artists, and local companies. It was always important that we showcased local Latino companies … and we created a regular and devoted Latino audience ... and more importantly, equally important as they are connected, Latino programming was no longer marginalized to a festival, it is actually now an integral part of our season programming, which is an awesome thing."

IMG_6826.jpg

Inspiring stories. Opening doors. … "if a student sees themselves represented, they are more likely to go there … if they see professors that look like them, if they see that the programming, the plays that are being produced tell their stories, then they are going to feel at home. I knew that recruiting and diversifying Northwestern was going to be harder because it is not a conservatory so students don't audition to get there. You have to be accepted into the university, it's very hard to get in there and it's expensive. So, I knew that the odds were against us. But thanks to the efforts of my colleagues at Northwestern and President Morty Shapiro and his administration who have been incredibly proactive in creating an environment that makes it viable for students."

Amazing Wonder Women … "my wife Nancy (Voigts) is a big musical theater actress. … When the girls were born, my career was getting really crazy, both teaching and directing. By that point, I wasn't pursuing acting anymore, but she, to a great extent, put her career on hold to raise the girls and she's an amazing singer and actress. We met actually doing a series of Kabuki plays here in the 80s and early 90s. … Lucy, our oldest daughter, is now a senior at Northwestern. She's graduating in four weeks and inherited her mom's voice, and then some. She has this crazy, crazy voice and Northwestern has made her a good little actor … she's grown up in this … around amazing performers … Gabby, who is a freshman at Northwestern is a Radio, TV and Film major … Her dream is to write and produce for late night comedy like Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers or Marvel. … she will go with me to see what my wife calls a ‘boy movie” – superhero movies. One of my great joys was to go with her to see Wonder Woman because, finally, she was able to see a movie where a woman was the hero. They are amazing. They are amazing. It is the best thing."

Powerful voices ... "it isn't so much about what to invest in, or to try to figure out what the tone or the flavor is at the moment, but who to invest in … if you identify the gifted people, the rest will follow, especially the young people, young artists … if you sense that someone's voice is vital, a young writer, a young director, a young actor's voice is really powerful and vital, I think that's the thing to invest in."

Edited for length and clarity.

PODCAST
WEBSITE

PICKSINSIX REVIEW

PRODUCTION PHOTOS
CCT|Last Stop on Market Street|Charles Osgood
WRITERS THEATRE|Quixote: 
On the Conquest of Self|Michael Brosilow 

CHICAGO CHILDREN'S THEATRE
Presents
A New Musical
LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

through May 27th
The Station
100 S. Racine Avenue
(312) 374-8835

CONVERSATIONS with Ed Tracy
Season 3|Episode 7 - May 9, 2018
PODCAST available on iTunes, Libsyn and Stitcher
ARCHIVE DE USURIS BLOG EMAIL WEBSITE SUBSCRIBE

TONY MACALUSO - THE STUDS TERKEL RADIO ARCHIVE

Remember May 16, 2018. That will be the day that fans of the spoken word have two things to celebrate. The first is to honor what would have been Studs Terkel’s 106th birthday. The second is the public launch of a new online project that has been years in the making – The Studs Terkel Radio Archive. There is a preview of things to come in our CONVERSATION with WFMT Radio Network Director Tony Macaluso which includes clips from a 1960 interview between Studs and silent film legend Buster Keaton.

The Keaton interview is just one of 5,600 radio programs from Terkel’s 45 years on the air from 1952 to his retirement in 1997. Following his passing on October 31, 2008, the archive moved from WFMT to the Chicago History Museum where it has been carefully curated for scholars.

The new project developed in recent years is the result of a unique partnership between the Chicago History Museum and WFMT Radio Network, with major support from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and individual sponsors and donors. The state-of-the-art website will launch on May 16th and unveil the first phase of the digitized archive with audio-to-text features, a dynamic search function of over 60 topic categories and much more.

Tony Macaluso, who also serves as Director of the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, joined the conversation to talk about the launch and the work that has been done to make this extraordinary body of work available for future generations of scholars, journalists, and the general public.
PODCAST

One of a kind archive"I remember spending a month or two just talking and looking around … we found some parallels. … There was nothing quite like Studs … one person over almost half a century talking about so many different kinds of topics ... literature … politics … science … education policy ... and traveling around with a portable tape recorder. … so we realized at a certain point there wasn't going to be a model out there … then started asking 'Why is this so unique?' … Even early on in his career, Studs would go back and use a little bit of audio from an earlier program to start a new program and recognized that there was something going on here. And so fortunately for a daily radio station – that would usually not even bother to record or certainly not to save these kinds of programs – they started to be saved and taken care of."

Wide-ranging dialogue … "Studs prepared meticulously. If he was interviewing a writer, he would read the book, make incredible notes or research the person. The conversations themselves are so often so unpredictable and flow in different directions ... there is a kind of stream of consciousness and free association of thoughts and ideas … He might be talking to a blues musician and the next thing you know they might be talking about some aspect of agriculture economics or mythology from Yoruba region in Africa finding its way into the conversation. So there is something of a challenge just from a listening standpoint to slow down and get out of a multi-tasking 21st-century mindset and in some ways tune into a different era in history when ideas flowed differently … when there was a kind of a theatricality and a performance to conversations … an art of conversation that maybe has changed."

Boundless curiosity …  "his self-chosen epitaph was “Curiosity did not kill this cat!” … We all want to be curious, but, what is real boundless curiosity actually? How does it function … and what does it mean to continue to follow threads? ... I hope that the archive can serve as kind of touchstone for both, for people to be able to take audio and reuse it. … when he talked with Buster Keaton, he discovered things - got Keaton to articulate things – that maybe he had never said in another interview … some of that was not just that Studs was being a journalist or a disc jockey, whatever he calls himself … he watched those movies when he was younger, probably, and then later when they came back in revivals, he desperately wanted to know more about how they were made. 'How did you do the subtitles?' 'And the lips?'  'How did you plan the plots of those films?' When it comes from genuine curiosity, then real discoveries can happen."

PODCAST
WEBSITE

COMPLETE 1960 BUSTER KEATON INTERVIEW
SEARCH THE ARCHIVE

Edited for length and clarity.
TERKEL PHOTOS| Chicago History Museum Raeburn Flerlage, photographer

CARICATURE|Jan Folkman Hefter-Petterino's Collection|LEYE

CONVERSATIONS with Ed Tracy
Season 3|Episode 6 - May 7, 2018
PODCAST available on iTunes, Libsyn and Stitcher
ARCHIVE DE USURIS BLOG EMAIL WEBSITE SUBSCRIBE

DE USURIS

With spring finally showing signs of peeking through, we are pleased to announce some updates to the DE USURIS blog and a new feature page on the website - THE LIST - which will be an ever-evolving short source for performances and events of interest which is what "DE USURIS" is all about. There are also improvements to the podcast archive, including an updated search function, and all of our podcasts are available for free download on iTunes, Stitcher and Libsyn.  

If you are planning to be AROUND & ABOUT, you will want to check out THE LIST to see what's going on and read the PICKSINSIX Reviews for recommendations, to wit: you "cain't say no" to a terrific pair of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, a new planetary destination for Sondheim, or a night in a swanky Berlin hotel. 

Read the PicksInSix Reviews - SOUTH PACIFIC | COMPANY | OKLAHOMA | GRAND HOTEL

This Week: All roads lead to MEMPHIS! 

Kicking off the third production in their new home at Ruth Page, 
 Porchlight Music Theatre presents MEMPHIS tonight through June 10th ... Joffrey Ballet celebrates the solstice with Alexander Ekman's MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM through May 5th ... Lyric Opera's JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR opens April 27th and runs through May 20th ... Chicago Shakespeare's MACBETH in The Yard April 25th through June 24th.

PICKSINSIXMercury Theater Chicago's new venue VENUS presents COMPANY through June 3rd ... Drury Lane SOUTH PACIFIC through June 17th ... Firebrand 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL through May 20th ... Marriott Lincolnshire OKLAHOMA through June 10th ... HOTPICK: Kokandy's GRAND HOTEL through May 27th ... Hershey Felder through May 15th “Our Great Tchaikovsky” at Steppenwolf's Upstairs Theatre ... Timeline's TO CATCH A FISH April 25th through July 1st ...Chicago Children's Theatre presents Last Stop on Market Street April 24th through May 27th directed by Henry Godinez with E. Faye Butler ... Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael are performing at Davenport’s Cabaret Saturday April 28th at 8 p.m. in A 'JIM' of a Show ... Elaine Dame Sings Ella tonight at Winter's and the Jeannie Tanner Trio at Winter's Jazz Club on May 1st ... Cynthia Cleary presents A Bridge Over Muddied Waters at Davenport’s Cabaret Sunday May 6th ... The place to be for cabaret is Monday Night Live at Petterino's with Denise McGowan Tracy & Beckie Menzie. Cast members from Kokandy's Grand Hotel will be in the house on April 30th. Make a reservation today! See you there!

  HOTPICK:  Kokandy Productions terrific GRAND HOTEL at Theater Wit 1229 W Belmont now playing through May 27th. Photo|Evan Hanover   PICKSINSIX     TICKETS

HOTPICK: Kokandy Productions terrific GRAND HOTEL at Theater Wit 1229 W Belmont now playing through May 27th. Photo|Evan Hanover PICKSINSIX TICKETS

PICKSINSIX(sm) a short-form commentary and review platform. Six words. Six comments. All you need to know to go. Like us on Facebook, Follow on Twitter. Check out our recent PICKSINSIX reviews and be sure to subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes, Libsyn and Stitcher.

NEW FEATURE LINK: Check out THE LIST for everything else AROUND & ABOUT. Special thanks to our sponsor REGUS CHICAGO the market leader in office space, for helping to make our programs possible. 

PLAYING IN 'THE YARD' - Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Few things are more rewarding than spending time with students who are discovering something for the first time. On a brisk day in March, the topic was Shakespeare: a crisp, shortened version of Midsummer Night’s Dream, in fact, with formidable Chicago talent presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the glorious new versatile performance space known as 'The Yard.'  Part of the fun, a terrific experience from beginning to end, is that this is an old-fashioned field trip with six Chicago school groups filling up the place. It is all part of the educational program that provides over 40,000 students access to world-class productions at CST.

For me, it was a little like going back to school again, but without the bus ride. All of a sudden I am in and among a hip, sea of exuberant, young people for a 21st century cultural happening - an extraordinary example of just one of many opportunities offered up by the arts community for students across the City of Chicago.

At CST in years past, the educational outreach was designed alongside the main stage program, often competing for valuable space, time and resources. Fewer students were served in those days and there were all kinds of logistical challenges. Add in that Navy Pier has been constantly evolving and it gets complicated. That expansion – the new Centennial Ferris Wheel, food court, a state-of-the-art upgrade to the IMAX Theatre, the reconstruction of the plaza and main pavilion - is moving briskly and there is more to come.

At the epicenter, however, tucked magnificently in the middle of all the rest, is The Yard.

Not so quietly, the CST has been executing a long-range plan to transform the former Skyline Stage area into a new performance space. On this day, like many when there are two shows, 300 students from six schools attended the 10:30 a.m. performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

From the main lobby, The Yard is a sunlit stroll west along a window wall - the technical term is 'electrochromatic facade' - that reaches 30 feet high. The facade panels can be individually adjusted to block UV rays - think transition lenses in eyeglasses.

The hallway leads to access on both sides of the main floor. As you come around the corner and enter The Yard for the first time, you never really know what you might find. The 90 ft. towers that move independently to frame the performance area encircle the thrust stage for this production which was mounted and performed primarily for students. Except for a few chaperones, there appeared to be no one much over 18.

Cast member Chris Sheard (Lysander) welcomed the group from the stage, telling the students Shakespeare's language is like music, you have to adjust to the language, listen to the tone and watch the expression on the actors faces as the story unfolds. He encouraged everyone to stick with it and the context of the story will reveal itself.  

The play was superbly condensed into a lean and understandable Elizabethan fairy tale with a delightfully talented cast including Christina Clark(Hippolyta/Titania), Sean Fortunato(Theseus/Oberon), Travis Turner(Philostrate/Puck) and Jarrett King (Eqeus/Quince). The lovers played by Ally Carey, Faith Servant, Andrew L. Saenz and Sheard brought youthful cheers from the students when they kissed. This crowd was attentive, respectful and definitely 'stuck with it.'

The entire cast participated in the post-performance talk back. The engaging questions asked by the group included the challenges of "doubling" characters, stage construction and elevation, the actor crossway underneath, the production process from adaptation, tablereads, rehearsal, tech, opening, and, what the actors favorite part of the story was. Carey was asked how she got interested in Shakespeare recalling a touring company performance of Midsummer, following which she wrote a letter to her teenage self predicting to someday be a Shakespearean actor. Not so many years later, Carey admits that the older you get, Shakespeare becomes "more right!" When asked about character development, King said that he starts by trying to find elements of the character that are like him. Every student was leaning forward by this time.  

Watch how Navy Pier's former Skyline Stage was redesigned into a forward-thinking, new venue and how its nine mobile towers are creating a space that reconfigures with each production. Video courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

We all have stories like this in our lives, which is, in essence, why CST has invested resources into this program. As more students participate, there is a higher likelihood that they will support the arts as adults. When you factor in the highly successful summer programs, CST’s outreach is a model for arts educational programming. Every student I spoke with understood the play, appreciated that they could attend and were looking forward to telling others about what they saw and how it influenced them. It was a first for every one I spoke to.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is aligning schools with programs for 2019. If you are interested, there is more information on the website. Additional performances of Midsummer have been held in schools who did not have the ability or resources to attend the performances in The Yard. And the popular Shakespeare in the Park series is gearing up for another amazing season. 

  Model of stage for CST's MACBETH in The Yard. More in the CST's  Behind the Scenes Gallery  

Model of stage for CST's MACBETH in The Yard. More in the CST's Behind the Scenes Gallery 

All of this would not be possible without an extraordinary commitment to education by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the vision of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson that has created the award-winning new facility. The Midsummer thrust stage is the fourth configuration since the facility opened last fall with the largest proscenium at 850-seats for "The Toad Knew," a 350-seat proscenium for Teatro Linda de Sombra's "Amarillo," and the 400-seat cabaret for "Q Brothers Christmas Carol."

The next show to be bubbling up: the highly anticipated production of that “Scottish" play directed by Aaron Posner and Teller (Penn & Teller) which opens April 25th. 

Looking forward to coming around the corner for this one.

WEBSITE

MACBETH
THE YARD
Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier
800 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
April 25 through June 24th
(312)595-5600
TICKETS
EDUCATION


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