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Stage Door Jonny
by JONATHAN ABARBANEL
2003-06-18

This article shared 1371 times since Wed Jun 18, 2003
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Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs handed out $1 million in CityArts grants last month, with several queer performing arts organizations taking home some of the bacon. Jonny likes to think of it as his tax payers dollars at work. The 236 grants ranged from $1,301 to $8,500. Not large sums, but a useful imprimatur for a theater company or musical group to have to take to other potential funders. 'See?' they can say. 'The City of Chicago says we're OK!'

The GLBT-identified groups receiving grants are: Gerber/Hart Library and Archives ($1,901); Chicago Gay Men's Chorus ($3,500); HealthWorks Theatre ($4,000); About Face Theatre Collective ($6,000); Bailiwick Repertory ($5,000); and Windy City Performing Arts, Inc. ($6,000). Many gay-friendly or gender-specific performing arts and arts services organizations also are grant recipients. The list is too long to name all, but a few representative groups are ChicSpeare Production Company ($1,901); City Lit Theater Company ($2,201); Naked Eye Theatre ($1,901); Tellin' Tales Theatre ($1,901); Women's Theater Alliance ($1,901); Chicago Dance and Music Alliance ($4,000); Live Bait Theatrical Company ($4,000); Woman Made Gallery ($4,000); Joel Hall Dance Center ($6,000); Performing Arts Chicago ($6,000); and the Court Theatre Fund ($8,000).

The CityArts grant program was established in 1979, and is overseen by Lois Weisberg, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs.

While we're talking City of Chicago, Jonny's picked up an unconfirmed rumor that the Cultural Affairs Dept. may open a second black box theater in The Loop, similar to the Storefront Theater the City operates at 66. E. Randolph. The new little playhouse reportedly also will be on Randolph, across from Marshall Field's between State and Wabash. Remember, ya' read it here first! About nine months ago, Jonny reported the existence of a new theater company that was representing Chicago at the National Gay- Lesbian Theatre Festival in Columbus, Ohio. Problem was, no one in Chicago ever had heard of Theatre Entropy, and they never had staged a production here. Well, you can bet Stage Door Jonny got to the bottom of that one! The founders of the troupe fessed up that they were only an ad hoc company thrown together to take advantage of the Festival outing.

Guess what? Theatre Entropy returned from Columbus (home of porno heart throb Matthew Rush, by the way) having won a Festival award as best ensemble, plus an audience award as best ensemble for their production of Stupid Kids, by John C. Russell. < p>So, they decided to become a real theater troupe after all. The seven founding company members are celebrating their incorporation with a benefit bash at Fizz, June 21, 10 p.m.-1 a.m.; $25 for all you can drink and door prizes. They haven't announced any production plans, but they brashly declare that they are 'committed to being the chorus for their generation' and that their ambition 'is to initiate a resurgence in the arts.'

I don't know about you, but Jonny would say the arts in Chicago already are resurgent, especially theater with some 900 productions each year. Naturally, Jonny will wait and watch to see what Theatre Entropy does.

If Jonny has to get to their bottoms again, dear readers, he will!

Stage Door Jonny really isn't sure whether or not it's worth reporting, but Tony N' Tina's Wedding celebrates its 10th anniversary on July 10, and Frankie Avalon will return to the production July 22-27 as Tina's Godfather. There's no particular GLBT angle to Tony N' Tina's Wedding, except that it's employed any number of queer performers over the years. Hey, it's summer and theater news is slow.

If you caught the Tony Awards June 8, you saw former Chicagoan Denis O'Hare romp to a win as outstanding actor in a supporting role for his brilliant work in Take Me Out, the gay baseball play by Richard Greenberg (it also took the best play Tony Award). Older theater goers—you know, Jonny's age—will remember O'Hare's electric performances here at the old Wisdom Bridge and Stormfield theaters, and at Victory Gardens in plays such as Hauptmann (written for O'Hare), Never the Sinner, Voice of the Prairie and Music from A Locked Room. In accepting his Tony Award, the very out O'Hare acknowledged his long-time partner who moved with him from Chicago to New York a decade ago. ----------------------------------------


This article shared 1371 times since Wed Jun 18, 2003
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