Spotlight: Chicago-area theaters stream shows online

  • Tiny (Trent Davis), front, contemplates what has happened to him as Isa (Kai A. Ealy), Grif (Cage Sebastian Pierre) and Daz (Charles Andrew Gardner) have their own transformations in TimeLine Theatre's Chicago-area premiere of "Kill Move Paradise" by James Ijames.

    Tiny (Trent Davis), front, contemplates what has happened to him as Isa (Kai A. Ealy), Grif (Cage Sebastian Pierre) and Daz (Charles Andrew Gardner) have their own transformations in TimeLine Theatre's Chicago-area premiere of "Kill Move Paradise" by James Ijames. Courtesy of Lara Goetsch

 
 
Posted4/3/2020 6:00 AM

Theater-aid

Like many small businesses, suburban and city theaters that suspended productions and canceled their seasons in response to the COVID-19 pandemic face an uncertain future. Postponed productions, suspended seasons and the loss of ticket sale revenue could spell financial disaster for some ensembles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But Chicago-area theater lovers can help.

Did you chuckle at First Folio Theatre's Jeeves and Wooster or the hapless thespians in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's "Noises Off"? Did Buffalo Theatre Ensemble's "Cake" or Marriott Theatre's premiere of "My Darling Grenadine" spark a post-show debate with your companions?

Did you delight in Drury Lane Theatre's magnificent "An American in Paris" revival or Paramount Theatre's "The Secret of My Success" premiere? Did Northlight Theatre's "Mother of the Maid" tug your heartstrings? Did Writers Theatre's refined "A Doll's House" inspire you?

Did you salute women of steel with St. Charles' Steel Beam Theatre and celebrate Shakespeare with Elgin's Janus Theatre or the Oak Park Festival Theatre? Did you catch a show at Music Theatre Works or the Actors Gymnasium in Evanston, Williams Street Repertory in Crystal Lake, Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest, Oil Lamp Theatre in Glenview or 16th Street Theater in Berwyn?

If you enjoy suburban theater, consider making a donation to the companies that have made us laugh, cry, think and connect so they can continue to do so for years to come.

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Virtual drama

TimeLine Theatre Company announced it will stream videotaped performances of "Kill Move Paradise," whose Chicago premiere was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. James Ijames' drama examines the afterlife of four young, African-American men whose lives were cut short and who find themselves stuck in limbo's waiting room. Wardell Julius Clark directs.

The video streams at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday through April 19. Remote view tickets are $25. (773) 281-8463, ext. 6, or timelinetheatre.com.

Viral 'Wrench'

The Neo-Futurists presents an online adaptation of the company's signature teens and older showcase, "The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral: 30 Digital Plays in 60 Analog Minutes." The show is available to subscribers of Patreon, a platform through which people can pay artists and creators for the content they create. Memberships start at $3. See neofuturists.org.

Virtual Otherworld

The science fiction and fantasy ensemble Otherworld Theatre Company is making recordings of past productions available online to subscribers of Patreon. They include Stupid Shakespeare Company's "PickleRicickles," prerecorded episodes of Out on a Whim's "Improvised Dungeons and Dragons" and a reading of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death." Otherworld intends to make other recordings available in the coming weeks. See otherworldtheatre.org.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Magician/mentalist Dennis Watkins, whose "The Magic Parlour" has played The Palmer House since 2011, shifts online with magic performances on Thursdays and tutorials on Mondays.
Magician/mentalist Dennis Watkins, whose "The Magic Parlour" has played The Palmer House since 2011, shifts online with magic performances on Thursdays and tutorials on Mondays. - Courtesy of Rich Hein
Virtual magic

Magician/mentalist Dennis Watkins debuts Magic Mondays online on Monday, April 6. Watkins, whose show "The Magic Parlour" has played Chicago's Palmer House since 2011, will post instructional videos on "The Magic Parlour" Facebook and Instagram accounts that will teach viewers how to do magic using household items. At 6 p.m. Thursdays, Watkins hosts a digital version of "The Magic Parlour's" after-show consisting of sleight-of-hand. See facebook.com/themagicparlour/.

Steppenwolf podcast

Steppenwolf Theatre will launch "Half-hour: A Steppenwolf Theatre Podcast," a behind-the-scenes look at the company hosted by ensemble members Cliff Chamberlain, Glen Davis, Audrey Francis and Caroline Neff on Tuesday, April 7. It's available at steppenwolf.org.

Kids' play

Creative kids are encouraged to write, videotape and enter their original five-minute plays incorporating family members, pets and household objects to the Chicago Children's Theatre as part of its Play@Home Contest. The submission deadline is April 20. Theater staffers will select three finalists to feature on the company's YouTube page. The winning entry will receive a family four pack to the company's 2020-2021 season or a free performing arts class session. Email director of education and community programs Dexter Ellis at dexter@chicagochildrenstheatre.org for details.

Handbag season

Hell in a Handbag Productions announced its 2020 season with the caveat that performance dates depend upon the lifting of restrictions on public gatherings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If social distancing is eased, performances will begin May 7 for the next edition of the company's ongoing "Golden Girls" parody. "The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 4" centers on the roommates' involvement in a community theater production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and their participation in the TV game show "Password."

Next up is a to-be-announced Halloween-themed production followed by "Christmas Dearest" (Nov. 27-Dec. 27) artistic director David Cerda's holiday parody mash-up of "A Christmas Carol" and the Joan Crawford bio-drama "Mommie Dearest."

Performances take place at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. See handbagproductions.org or stage773.com.

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