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posted: 5/17/2013 6:00 AM

Theater events: Drive to keep Buffalo Theatre alive

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  • Christopher Trumbo (Bryan Burke) recalls the impact Senator Joe McCarthy's Communist witch hunts had on his father and their family in Buffalo Theatre Ensemble's "Trumbo -- Red, White & Blacklisted."

    Christopher Trumbo (Bryan Burke) recalls the impact Senator Joe McCarthy's Communist witch hunts had on his father and their family in Buffalo Theatre Ensemble's "Trumbo -- Red, White & Blacklisted."
    Courtesy of Don Hood


Buffalo Theatre appeal
Buffalo Theatre Ensemble's terrific production of "Trumbo -- Red, White & Blacklisted" -- an epistolary dramedy about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo -- closes Sunday, May 19. Just as the titular character fought for his professional life, BTE ensemble members fight for theirs. Over the company's 26-year history, COD has provided BTE facility and staff support. That changes after next year. In a March 28 letter to supporters, BTE told fans the college intends to withdraw support after the 2013-2014 season, putting the company's future in jeopardy. To continue producing, BTE company must raise an additional $80,000 per year, prompting ensemble members to initiate a fundraising drive. For information on donating, see or
"Trumbo" is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 17-18, and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at Building K Theatre, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. $25-$33. (630) 942-4000 or

Next 'Invasion'
ShPieL-Performing Identity presents Steven Peterson's 2010 drama "The Invasion of Skokie," inspired by the 1978 neo-Nazi march on the suburb, which has a large number of Jewish residents including Holocaust survivors. Rachel Edwards Harvith directs.
Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at the Mayer Kaplan JCC, 5050 Church St., Skokie. The show opens May 29. $25 previews, $28 regular run. (847) 814-8206 or

'Menagerie' remount
Mary Arrchie Theatre Company remounts its acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie." Hans Fleischmann directs and stars as Tom in a production that emphasizes Tom's dissolution and regret as he reflects on his life with mother Amanda (Maggie Cain) and sister Laura (Joanne Dubach).
Previews begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The show opens May 29. $37, $32 for students/seniors. (773) 975-8150 or or

• "Twelve Angry Men," Reginald Rose's examination of prejudice through the prism of jury deliberations, opens Friday, May 17, at Madison Street Theatre, 1010 Madison St., Oak Park. Jim Heatherly directs the Actor Factor Theatre Company production. See for tickets and show times.

• Pride Films and Plays showcases five new works as part of its Gay Play weekend, held Friday, May 17, through Sunday, May 19, at the Hoover-Leppen Theater at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Featured plays include "The Red Train," by Ben Marshall, about a young composer and his older idol vying for the same waiter at a Parisian cafe, and "Dancing in the Mirror," a play with music and dance by Perry Ojeda about a professional dancer coming to the end of his career who inherits a dance studio. "Forbidden Glass," by Kirt Shineman, is about a gay Iranian man who talks an American reporter into helping him get sanctuary in Turkey and "Sand Man" by G. William Zorn is based on the true story of a boy who was shot in the head for giving another boy a valentine. Lastly, there is Martin Casella's "Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead" about best friends in their 40s (one gay and one straight) who head to northern England after experiencing life-changing events. The works are produced as enhanced stage readings. Tickets are $10 per show or $35 for a weekend pass. They're available at For more information see

• Evanston's Actors Gymnasium presents "Circus in Progress: An Evening of Daring New Work" at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St. Limited tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis for the performances featuring contortionist Anna Hartje, trapeze artist Jill Heyser, clown Dean Evans, juggler Willem McGowan, aerialists Rackim Ramsey and Andi Wywiorski and others. Tickets are available online at and at the box office two hours before show time. (847) 328-2795.

• The last preview of The Annoyance Theatre's new revue and improv show, "Burlesque is More," is Saturday, May 18, at 4830 N. Broadway, Chicago. The adults-only show, directed by Annoyance founder Mick Napier, opens Saturday, May 25. (773) 561-4665 or

• Filament Theatre Ensemble salutes Bob Dylan as part of its monthly music series featuring performances by company members and area musicians. WLUW radio's Tom Jackson hosts the Bob Dylan Birthday Bash, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. (773) 270-1660 or

• Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago, presents the latest in its workshop series "The Birdfeeder Doesn't Know," Todd Bauer's drama about a couple who encouraged their special needs son to be independent. However, as time progresses, the parents find their independence threatened, making for family dysfunction. The production, starring Donna McGough, Joshua J. Volkers and Chuck Spencer, is part of Chicago's 2013 Bodies of Work Festival highlighting artists with disabilities. "Birdfeeder" runs Sunday, May 19, to Wednesday, May 22. Michael Menendian directs. See or for more information.

• The League of Chicago Theatres hosts its spring gala beginning at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, at the InterContinental Chicago, 505 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Steppenwolf Theatre co-founder Jeff Perry (ABC's "Scandal") will receive the 2013 Tribute Award recognizing his contributions to Chicago theater, while Writers' Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam receives the 2013 Artistic Leadership Award for the more than 30 productions he's directed for the Glencoe company, as well as productions for Northlight, Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace, Chicago Opera Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Ravinia. Additionally the league recognizes the Jeff Committee with its first Theatre Advocacy Award, for fostering the growth of area theater and theater artists in the 175th anniversary of the birth of Chicago theater. Tickets are $300 and support the league's services to more than 200 Chicago companies. Call operations director Nancy Weber (312) 554-9800 for more information.

• Short Story Theatre presents an evening of storytelling beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at Cellar Gate, 524 Sheridan Road, Highwood. Susan Block, Mary Lou Gilliam, Denise Kirshenbaum and Donna Lubow will perform. Call (847) 748-8086 or email for reservations.

• Dancer and cabaret artist Valeska Gert's work inspired Striding Lion Performance Group's "Dada Gert," a multimedia dance and theater performance piece that marks the company's third dance installation rooted in a historically inspired subject. Performances are Thursday and Friday, May 23-24, and May 30-31, at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater, 3035 N. Hoyne Ave., Chicago. (773) 769-7540 or or

• Performances begin Thursday, May 23, for eta Creative Arts Foundation's final show of its season, "Hoodoo Love" by Katori Hall. The play is about a woman who leaves the Mississippi cotton fields in the 1930s to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. Those dreams come true in un-imagined ways after she meets bluesman Ace of Spades. Performances run through July 28 at 7558 S. South Chicago Ave., Chicago. (773) 752-3955 or

• First Floor Theater presents its first literary festival GrimmFest beginning Thursday, May 23, at The Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago. The fest will showcase work by Greg Allen, Seth Bockley, Calamity West, Phillip Dawkins, Bonnie Metzgar and others, all of whom have been inspired by The Brothers Grimm. Performances run Thursdays to Saturdays, through June 1. See

• Theo Ubique's remount of its acclaimed musical revue "Smokey Joe's Cafe -- The Songs of Leiber and Stoller," featuring the original 2012 cast, has been extended. Performances continue through June 30 at the Royal George Cabaret Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 423-6612 or

• TUTA Theatre has extended its U.S. premiere of Serbian playwright Miodrag Stanisavljevic's 1981 adaptation of an old folk tale, "The Silent Language" through June 9 at 2010 W. Fulton St., Chicago. The play centers on a young servant who develops the ability to understand the language of animals. (800) 838-3006 or

• "Core of the Pudel," Trap Door Theatre's re-imagining of the Faust legend conceived and directed by Thom Pasculli, has been extended. Performances continue through June 2 at 1655 W. Cortland St., Chicago. (773) 384-0494 or

• The Joseph Jefferson Award Committee has announced that actor-director-producer and longtime Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company stalwart Richard Cotovsky will receive a special award at the 40th annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony on June 3 at the Park West, 322 W Armitage Ave., Chicago. A former pharmacy student, Cotovsky switched paths after seeing a production of David Mamet's "American Buffalo" at the St. Nicholas Theatre. He had been in demand as an actor working with Blackbird, Big Game, Blind Parrot and Boxer Rebellion theaters before founding Mary-Arrchie in 1986. The company marks its 27th anniversary this year, which is also the 25th annual Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Theater Festival, which features Cotovsky playing the titular character. For more information on the ceremony, see

• Naperville's BrightSide Theatre announced its third season lineup centered on the theme: life, love and laughter. It begins with Ron Hutchinson's inside Hollywood comedy "Moonlight and Magnolias." Greg Kolack directs this glimpse at the making of "Gone With The Wind," which begins performances on Aug. 30. Next up is "Bleacher Bums" (March 20-30, 2014). Conceived by actor Joe Mantegna, Stuart Gordon and The Organic Theatre Company, this slice of Wrigley Field life examines die-hard fans over the course of a game between the Chicago Cubs and their archrivals the St. Louis Cardinals. The season concludes with the Kander-Ebb musical "Cabaret" (June 13-29, 2014). Performances take place at the Meiley-Swallow Hall at North Central College, 31 S. Ellsworth Ave., Naperville. Subscriptions are available online at or by phone at (630) 637-7469.

• Teatro Vista launches its Victory Gardens Theater residency on Sept. 6, with the world premiere of "White Tie Ball," playwright in residence Martin Zimmerman's play about two brothers, one of whom looks Latino and the other who doesn't. New artistic associate Ron PJ Parson stages Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge" (April 11-May 18, 2014) about Italian immigrants in 1950s Brooklyn. The two-show season pass for subscribers will be available beginning June 1. See for information. Single tickets go on sale July 1 at the Victory Gardens Theater box office, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago; by phone at (773) 871-3000 and online at

• American Theater Company announced its 29th season, which begins Sept. 17 with a remount of the Stephen Karam-Paparelli play "columbinus" at ArtsEmerson in Boston, Mass. ATC's annual "It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play" follows on Nov. 22. On Jan. 31, 2014, ATC presents the Chicago premiere of Karam's "Sons of the Prophet" (Jan. 31-March 9, 2014), about brothers trying to keep their Lebanese-American family together despite personal crises. The season concludes with a revised and restored 45th anniversary production of the Galt MacDermot-James Rado-Gerome Ragni musical "Hair" (April 25-June 29, 2014), about a group of young hippies in 1968 Greenwich Village exploring sex and love while protesting racism and the Vietnam War. Season subscriptions are available with discounts for flex passes purchased before July 31. They're available at the box office located at 1909 W. Byron St., Chicago, online at or by phone at (773) 409-4125.

• Genesis Theatrical Productions has taken up residency at the National Pastime Theater at Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. Genesis is planning staged readings and a main stage production for later this year. See

-- Barbara Vitello

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