WINDY CITY TIMES
||THEATER REVIEW Palace of the Occult
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Mary Shen Barnidge
This article shared 4556 times since Tue Dec 1, 2015
Playwright: Neil Tobin. At: Eclectic Full Contact Theatre at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave. Tickets: 800-838-3006; www.palaceoftheoccult.com; $25-$35. Runs through: Dec. 20
It is widely accepted that Hitler was a disciple of certain esoteric practicesastrology, numerology, spiritualism et al.but scholars have been curiously silent on the contribution of Weimar Republic superstar Erik Jan Hanussen in introducing the Third Reich's mass murderer to the world of paranormal science. After all, how would the historiesand the victors who author themexplain Adolf's high-profile friendship with a Moravian Jew?
The clairvoyant/charlatan, born Herschmann Chaim Steinschneider, acquired his Danish name during his youthful career with the circus, where he discovered his talent for charismatic deception. As his reputation grewassisted by lavish self-promotionover the years immediately following World War I, so did his fortune. The economic depression of 1931 expanded his clientele of desperate souls seeking comfort in cult religions, rendering him a celebrity of rock-star proportions. The young rebels of the Nationalist Socialist Party, in particular, welcomed the attention of the wealthy Berlin luminary who lent them money, invited them to sumptuous parties attended by glamorous movie stars and even coached their leader in public speaking.
Neil Tobin sets his play on the opening of Hanussen's "Palace of the Occult"a private club and "laboratory" incorporating artifacts from his travels among sorcerers, shamans and mystics. After welcoming us, our host regales us with tales of his adventures, accompanied by re-enactments of his famous stage illusionsthe latter assisted by his "guests" in the audience who are rewarded with champagne for their service. The second act reproduces the seance held on that fatal night, when Hanussen's trance led him to proclaim the torching of the government Reichstag, the Nazi rise to power in the subsequent hysteria and the suffering it would inflict upon othersprophesy sufficiently discomforting to his swastika-wearing homeys to guarantee his mob-style execution.
Such classic legerdemain as the "Telepathic Mail" and the "Hypnotic Strongwoman" stunts, along with the genuine fakir artistry required to jab long needles through your own flesh, are not skills an actor can be expected to learn in a few weeks of rehearsal. Fortunately, Tobin is, himself, a magician of no small renown, chiefly remembered for his long-running "Supernatural Chicago" show from 2004 through 2014.
For this Eclectic Theatre production, under David Belew's unhurried direction, Tobin inhabits the persona of the seductively charming Hanussen with an oily confidence unimpaired by sparse attendance on a snowy first night. Even when the intimacy of the rented quarters at Prop Thtr threaten to reveal the secret behind the tricks, the fascinating true story related by the trickster is enough to keep us spellbound.
This article shared 4556 times since Tue Dec 1, 2015
| ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE|
|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 ...
|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 ...
|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 ...
|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! ...
|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 ...
|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 Galaan unforgettable evening celebrating 47 years of powerful and thought-provoking storytelling. Emceed ...
|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 ...
|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 ...
|Theater Review: one in two 2023-03-01|
- Playwright: Donja R. Love. At: PrideArts at Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway Tickets: 773-857-0222; $35. Runs through March 19 Playwright Donja R. Love stresses that lower case letters should be used for the title of ...
|The Jeff Awards to honor Myrna Salazar with special non-Equity honor 2023-03-01|
--From a Jeff Awards press release - (March 1, 2023 - Chicago) — Recognizing a lifetime of theater excellence, the Joseph Jefferson Awards will honor the late arts activist Myrna Salazar at the organization's 49th Anniversary Non-Equity Awards celebration on Monday, March 2 ...
|PrideArts presents 'one in two' 2023-02-22|
--From a press release - Title: one in two. By Donja R. Love/ Directed by Jordan Ratlliff Monday, Feb. 20 - 7:30 p.m. Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago One in two Black men in America who have sex with other men will be diagnosed ...
|Christine Heesun Hwang personifies Eponine in Les Miserables 2023-02-19|
- Out performer Christine Heesun Hwang "dreamed a dream" of joining the cast one of Les Miserables—now showing at the Cadillac Palace Theater—and now she's made that dream into a reality. Set in 19th-century France, Les Miserables ...
|SHOWBIZ Black queer films, Janet Jackson, Paramore, WNBA, GALECA contest 2023-02-19|
- Queerty ran a piece on 10 films that celebrate Black queer love. Some of them include The Skinny (with Jussie Smollett), Dee Rees' movie Pariah, the Oscar-winning Moonlight, the Marlon Riggs classic Tongues Untied, Brother to ...
|Theater Review: Cabaret continues to reflect on our modern challenges 2023-02-14|
- Title: Cabaret. Book: Joe Masteroff; Score: John Kander & Fred Ebb. At: Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St. Tickets: 773-777-9884 or www.PorchlightMusicTheatre.org; prices begin at $25. Runs through ...
|SHOWBIZ Isaac Mizrahi, Viola Davis, Laura Jane Grace, Elton John, GLAAD 2023-02-11|
- On Sherri Shepherd's talk show, entertainer/fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi said he'd love for out actor Dan Levy to portray him in a potential biopic based on Mizrahi's memoir, I.M., The Wrap noted. "Dan Levy, OK," Mizrahi ...