Spotlight: Michael Shannon helps launch Chicago Children's Theatre's new YouTube channel

A mouse prepares

Academy Award-nominee and A Red Orchid Theatre ensemble member Michael Shannon helps launch Chicago Children's Theatre's new virtual learning YouTube channel, CCTv. Shannon narrates CCT's "Frederick, A Virtual Puppet Performance." Adapted from Leo Lionni's 1967 picture book, the story is about a mouse who gathers unusual items - including rays of sunshine and rainbow colors - in preparation for the pending winter. CCT artistic director Jacqueline Russell directs the performance, which is available free at For details, see

Best of the Babes

Babes With Blades, an ensemble that incorporates stage combat to tell the stories of women and underrepresented communities, streams readings of previously produced scripts from the company's 23-year history. Next up on Wednesday, April 22, is 2013's "Bo Thomas and the Case of the Sky Pirates" by Eric Simon. It's about a female assistant - truly the brains behind the detective agency where she works - who finally gets a big case of her own. The readings stream initially at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at BWB's YouTube page at They usually remain up for about 24 hours. There's no charge, but donations are accepted at

Online entertainment

Theater companies located within Chicago's Belmont Theatre District - including TimeLine, OtherWorld, The Annoyance, Theater Wit, ComedySportz, Eclectic Full Contact and the Laugh Factory - continue to offer a variety of online entertainment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered theaters.

• The Annoyance Theatre's nine-member Quaran Team previously spent 10 days locked together in the theater creating a new show "Out of Touch." Videos chronicling the process are available at Suggested donation is $5.

• ComedySportz hosts a virtual improv competition at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday with audience members participating through Zoom. The company's storytelling series "Vino Veritas" next goes virtual at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 22. The productions are available online at Donations are accepted.

• The Laugh Factory streams live socially distanced stand-up performances at 4 p.m. Fridays at

• Eclectic Full Contact Theatre presents its radio satire "Throwing Shade," about a 1934 Chicago crime-fighter named Shade who's aided by his female counterpart, The Vamp. The podcast is available for upload on Wednesdays at the theater's Patreon site at Memberships start at $1 per month.

• OtherWorld Theatre offers recorded performances of Stupid Shakespeare's "Super Richard World III," a mash-up of William Shakespeare's "Richard III" and "Super Mario Brothers," and "Medusa Undone," which examines the early sexual trauma and abuse that transformed a sea nymph into the mythic monster. Viewings are $5 and are available at

Sideshow streaming

Sideshow Theatre Company will stream a recorded performance of 2016's "The Happiest Place on Earth," an autobiographical piece written and performed by Philip Dawkins. Dawkins' Joseph Jefferson Award-winning solo show chronicles his family members' efforts to recover from the loss of their patriarch. The video will be available throughout the spring at To watch the video, fill out a registration form to get an email link and password. Admission is pay-what-you-can.

Viral monologues

Actors including Ethan Hawke, Deanna Dunagan, Wayne Brady, T.R. Knight and Marlo Thomas perform monologues by Lydia Diamond, David Lindsay-Abaire, Liliana Padilla and Christopher Oscar Pena among others as part of The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues initiative.

The 24 Hour Plays is an organization that raises money for charities by creating, rehearsing and producing plays and musicals within one day. It works like this: Actors share brief videos about themselves with writers at 6 p.m. Tuesday. By 7 p.m., writer-actor pairs are established and writers begin working on the monologues. Actors receive their monologues by 10 a.m. Wednesday, then rehearse and film their monologues for release by 6 p.m. Wednesday, completing the 24-hour cycle. The monologues stream from 6 p.m. to midnight Wednesdays at Donations are requested.

Theater Wit extends its virtual production of the dark comedy "Teenage Dick" featuring Courtney Rikki Green, left, Tamara Rozovsky and MacGregor Arney in the titular role, which is inspired by William Shakespeare's "Richard III." Courtesy of Charles Osgood

'Teenage Dick' extended

Theater Wit has extended its virtual production of "Teenage Dick," Mike Lew's dark comedy inspired by William Shakespeare's "Richard III," about a high school student's ruthless pursuit of the class presidency. Remote view performances continue at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday through May 3.

Patrons select a "remote view" date to view the performance. Ten minutes before it begins, viewers will receive an email with a private URL and password to watch the performance on a Vimeo stream. After the performance concludes, the video will no longer be accessible. The newly added Wednesday performances are pay-what-you-can. Tickets for the other performances range from $28 to $75. (773) 975-8150 or

Arts grants

• Eta Creative Arts Foundation recently received a grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, which helps support 175 small arts organizations in the Chicago area. Described as a "cultural resource for the preservation, perpetuation and promulgation of the African American aesthetic," eta Creative Arts Foundation is one of three local organizations to be so honored with grants ranging from $2,500 to $13,500 annually. Additionally the Donnelley Foundation contributed $200,000 to the newly established Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, which provides unrestricted grants ranging from $6,000 to $30,000 to assist arts organizations that have been affected by closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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