Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



THEATER REVIEW Class Dismissed
by Catey Sullivan

This article shared 3260 times since Wed Apr 8, 2009
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Jeffrey Sweet. At: Victory Gardens Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln

Telephone: 773-871-3000; $20-$48. Runs through: April 26

At the onset of Class Dismissed, the cast comes bouncing on stage while '60s folk music plays in the background. They stretch and smile and embrace and strain mightily to emit groovy vibes before introducing themselves with a forced folksiness that's one step removed from a kumbaya sing-a-long. It's all fine and good, if you're in the mood to embrace hippie-dippie clichés. But if you're in the mood for complex, thoughtfully written characters, a dramatic arc that pulls you in and an intelligent, provocative story that leaves you thinking, you best skip Jeffrey Sweet's Class.

This is the 1960s as filtered through the sensibility of the Brady Bunch although to be sure, the Bradys actually had better storylines. And can someone—anyone?—explain why giant steel wool pads are woven through the tree branches in the depressingly expensive set that adorns this non-starter? It looks like some sort of spirit in the sky is preparing to scrub pots.

Class Dismissed reveals its shaky foundations immediately as Jackson, a professor, introduces himself by describing a class wherein he jumped out the window. There's no context, no rhyme and no reason for the leap other than to show the audience that Jackson cares not for pleasing the Man and has the wild-child, spirit-of-the-'60s cojones needed to stray from a syllabus that apparently requires professors remain with their students while teaching.

Why stepping five feet down from windowsill to campus ground should count as an act of profound rebellion I'm sure I don't know. But Jackson implies that it is, and thus we know he's an anti-authoritarian and also as hip as his long-haired pupils.

After Jackson's fourth-wall-breaking introduction, the others take their turn—each character addressing the audience with a casual, we're-all-pals-here friendliness that hasn't been earned. The effect is that of being shanghaied by a group therapy session of compulsive huggers.

In addition to Jackson we meet Meg, whose defining characteristic is an arch, sarcastic tone that's maintained through every word of every sentence she utters. There's also Pete, a hangdog stoner who confuses spinelessness being easy-going, and Roy, a rich kid who plays poor in college so as to ... well, what exactly is never clear. Finally, there's Wendy the Waitress, who serves fries, disappears and then returns a few scenes later to explain that she's an important part of the story, so please don't forget about her. Class Dismissed is littered with such cloying, direct-address asides. The worst one comes when Lisa, a teenager, walks on stage ( in a sassy side-pony tail, ostensibly to let us know she's a child of the '80s ) , points to the baby Meg is holding, stage whispers, "That's me!" and exits giggling. My. Sweet. Lord.

Sweet follows this group through the 1980s, from college to commune to marriage and entrepreneurship. Toward the end Lisa wonders about the circumstances of her conception, the professor leaps into what feels like another play entirely with the introduction of a ( never developed and out-of-left field ) subplot involving an undocumented worker, and Roy loses his hair but learns to embrace his wealth. There's a lot of talk about "projects"—the professor spends most of the play working on an "economic history" of something or other—but none of it pans out into anything worth caring about.

Director Dennis Zacek has a cast of Chicago's finest—all of whom are stuck in characters no deeper than the shallow end of a wading pool and prone to spouting eye-rolling dialogue along the lines of "Sexual possessiveness is part of the bourgeoisie orthodoxy!" History is reduced to winking asides ( "Nixon, for godssakes!" "And then Chicago happened!" ) , which add nothing to the story and, in fact, cheapen its context by their reductiveness.

When you consider the resources that went into producing "Class Dismissed," the piece becomes maddening rather than just annoying. An A-level cast—not to mention a set-budget that allows for so much steel wool—is a terrible thing to waste.

This article shared 3260 times since Wed Apr 8, 2009
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Coming-out film, James Baldwin, Madonna, 'White Lotus,' women's soccer 2023-03-31
- Director/co-writer Shariff Nasr's intimate coming-out drama El Houb will be out on Digital and DVD on April 4 via Dark Star Pictures (and in L.A. theaters on April 7), per a press release. The film's decorated ...

Gay News

House Musical: Coming of Age in the Age of House, celebrating the house music scene, to run April 20 - 30 2023-03-30
--From a press release - Chicago, Illinois (March 30, 2023) — Campsongs Productions today announced the on-sale of world premiere musical House Musical: Coming of Age in the Age of House, celebrating Chicago's famed house music scene at the legendary Warehouse ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions premieres intergalactic queer extravaganza 'I Promised Myself to Live Faster' 2023-03-29
--From a press release - Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to continue its 21st season with the Chicago premiere of I Promised Myself to Live Faster, an intergalactic queer extravaganza ...

Gay News

Book of Mormon's Sam Nackman knocks on Cadillac Palace door 2023-03-28
- The Book of Mormon is returning to Chicago on a mission to convert new followers into the musical fold. The masterminds behind the satirical cartoon series South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker created a smash ...

Gay News

The Jeff Awards announces recipients of 49th- anniversary non-Equity theater honors 2023-03-28
--From a press release - MARCH 27, 2023 — CHICAGO — In its 49th anniversary celebration of non-Equity theater excellence, the Jeff Awards recognized 35 award recipients selected from among 167 theater artist nominees across 28 artistic and technical categories. Awar ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Joy Ride,' Cynthia Erivo, David Bowie, March Madness, Kevin Bacon 2023-03-25
Video below - The first trailer for the upcoming comedy Joy Ride has been released, Out noted. The movie stars Ashley Park, queer Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once), bisexual comedian Sherry Cola (Good Trouble) and ...

Gay News

Kokandy Productions announces 2023 Season 2023-03-22
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 22, 2023) — Kokandy Productions is thrilled to announce its 2023 season, including two fully produced musicals, plus plans for the return of the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. This summer, Kokandy will dive into ...

Gay News

Opera Preview: Life of gay World War II hero Alan Turing transformed into a world-premiere opera 2023-03-17
- It has taken a decade for The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing to grow from an idea into a full- fledged opera. Chicago Opera Theater stages the world premiere of composer Justine F. Chen and ...

Gay News

Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project to present dance concert 'Sans Pareil' 2023-03-14
--From a press release - Deeply Rooted Dance Theater joins the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project again to take the stage in a dance concert entitled Sans Pareil—French for "unparalleled," a nod to the Haitian lineage of Chicago's founder, Jean-Baptiste Pointe ...

Gay News

House Musical, Coming of Age in the Age of House, coming to Hoover-Leppen Theatre 2023-03-14
--From a press release - Campsongs Productions presents the world premiere of House Musical - Coming of Age in the Age of House, with book by Marcus Waller, music by Scott Free (with Michael Foley) and lyrics by Scott Free and ...

Gay News

RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD in Chicago Aug. 4 2023-03-12
--From a press release - RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD, the largest drag show on earth, returns in 2023 with a show in Chicago Aug. 4 and in 100+ cities across the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, Europe and Mexico! ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Little Richard, Indigo Girls, Rodriguez's honor, dance film, Pedro Pascal 2023-03-10
Video below - Produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films, director Lisa Cortes' Sundance opening-night documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything will debut in theaters and on VOD ...

Gay News

Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2023 Gala May 13 at The Old Post Office 2023-03-06
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 6, 2023) — The Steppenwolf Ensemble and Board of Trustees are pleased to host Steppenwolf 2023 Gala—an unforgettable evening celebrating 47 years of powerful and thought-provoking storytelling. Emceed ...

Gay News

Center on Halsted presents annual Intergenerational Talent Show 2023-03-06
- On March 2, Center on Halsted hosted its Fifth Annual Intergenerational Talent Show, featuring performances from participants from the Youth and Family Services and the Senior Services programs. Participants in the free event presented a program ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes, Jonas Brothers, 'Queen of Versailles,' 'Bloodshed' 2023-03-04
Adam Lambert video below - Award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes' new comedy special, I'm An Entertainer, will premiere globally on Netflix on May 23, a press release announced. The special, directed by Linda Mendoza, was filmed in early February 2023 at Philadelphia's ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.