Those wonderful folks who brought you Greg Louganis in nothing but a towel, and Ryan Idol in nothing at all, have done it again! In a never-ending quest to bring you only the biggest talents, Bailiwick Arts Center will present the accomplished actor Jeff Stryker in the prison drama, Jeff Stryker Does Hard Time, April 18-May 27. Mr. Stryker previously performed the show on the West Coast to great acclaim. The Little Big Man himself was in Chicago last Friday playing casting couch—er, holding auditions for a supporting cast of local actors. Actors with strong knees, we have no doubt. The show will be presented in the intimate Bailiwick Studio Theatre, not the larger mainstage, which means Mr. Stryker practically will be lap dancing with the audience. Or vice-versa. Whatever, we expect Bailiwick's windows on Belmont to be steamed up.
Forever Plaid, that celebration of the boy bands of an earlier, more innocent era, is in its final month at the Royal George Cabaret. It closes April 29 after six years and 2,741 performances.
They call it Chicago's Clown Theater Festival, but Jonny calls it smut! And it's going on only through April 15 at the Chopin Theater (1543 W. Division), so hurry! The three-week festival, dedicated to showcasing Chicago's resident clown soloists and clown theater troupes, promises to be raucous, sexual, furious, devastating, dopey, gonzo and Doc. The all-male clown ensemble Asylum 37, is doing a show called "Clowns in the Vagina." Clown soloist Shannan Calcutt is premiering her work, "Out of My Skin," which features nudity and "language not suitable for children." A troupe called F promises "explosive action and butchery" in "500 Clown Macbeth," based on the Shakespeare play. Better leave the kids at home, if you have any. All tickets are $10. Info: 312-697-0723.
Dame Edna Everage, who has brought her Royal Tour to "the tucked-away Shooobert Theatre" through April 8, opens Act II with a discussion of her artistic son, Kenny, and his roommate, Clifford, who works in leather. Along the way, Dame Edna manages to work a reference to North Halsted Street into her material, which gets a huge laugh.
Put on your dancin' shoes, folks, and you can be part of the Premium Swing! Experience. Swing! is the Broadway musical playing at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre April 19-22. On April 12, at 5 p.m., members of the cast will conduct a one-hour master dance class for up to 76 people, backstage at the theater. The cost is $78, which includes a ticket to the show that night, and a post-show party with cast members at Rumors Bar & Grille on North Lincoln Avenue. The special package also provides a coupon for a discounted dinner at Mossant Bistro, near the Ford Center/Oriental. For more info on the Premium Swing! Experience, call 312-977-1710. Jonny would love to see some nice GLBT couples give this Experience a new swing.
The League of Chicago Theatres has released some new figures about local theater-goers. According to the League, the mean age of live theater attendees in Chicago is 47.14 years, but we look younger, of course. Our mean income is $75,381, which ain't so mean. Women make up 59% of the audience, and men 41%, which doesn't leave any room at all for the rest of you.
April 12, 13, 14 and 17 are the dates for a special film and musical experience at Orchestra Hall: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will accompany a screening of Charles Chaplin's great silent film, "City Lights." The CSO will play the complete score Chaplin himself composed for the 1931 cinema classic, in which Chaplin's immortal Little Tramp character falls in love with a blind flower girl. The program also will feature CSO performances of Copland's "Appalachian Spring," and Ruth Crawford Seeger's "Rissolty Rossolty." Regular CSO concert prices apply. Tickets are at the box office, or at 312-294-3000.
Two Chicago bastions of high art will let their hair down just a little in their upcoming seasons, as both the Ravinia Festival and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre add works by Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim to their mix. This summer, Ravinia will launch a Festival-wide music theater initiative with an Aug. 24 concert performance of Sweeney Todd, starring Tony Award winners Patti LuPone and George Hearn, and opera singer Sherrill Milnes. Thereafter, Ravinia will offer a Sondheim musical each summer through 2005, ending with a 75th birthday tribute to him. Meanwhile down at Navy Pier, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has announced that it will produce Pacific Overtures as part of its 2001-2002 season. The show will be directed by Gary Griffin in the CST studio theater.
Let's hope that Sondheim continues to produce new shows, because, wonderful as it is, the finite body of his work is done and done and done and done to death. It's a shame that those who program musical theater venues rarely have either the imagination or sufficient knowledge of the field to go beyond the obvious. It's not Sondheim's fault, of course; but as the reigning and acknowledged living genius of musical theater, he IS the obvious choice. He's not the only choice, however, nor is he always the best choice.
Other Ravinia highlights this summer: Mary Chapin Carpenter July 3, Buena Vista Social Club July 24, The Temptations and Four Tops Aug. 16, Shawn Colvin Aug. 21. And their new Monday Martinis at the Martin series includes, besides LuPone, Barbara Cook July 9, Patricia Barber June 11, and Andrea Marcovicci July 30. Look for news on some special WCT, Sidetrack and Korbel GLBT Ravinia nights soon!
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