Theatre: 'Magic Parlour' goes virtual; Red Orchid, Porchlight team up for audio drama

  • Magician/mentalist Dennis Watkins, whose "The Magic Parlour" has played The Palmer House since 2011, introduces "The Magic Parlour at Home" July 3.

    Magician/mentalist Dennis Watkins, whose "The Magic Parlour" has played The Palmer House since 2011, introduces "The Magic Parlour at Home" July 3. Courtesy of Rich Hein

  • A Red Orchid Theatre ensemble member Lawrence Grimm directs the audio drama "War of the Well(e)s," produced in collaboration with Porchlight Music Theatre and available online through July 31.

    A Red Orchid Theatre ensemble member Lawrence Grimm directs the audio drama "War of the Well(e)s," produced in collaboration with Porchlight Music Theatre and available online through July 31.

  • Porchlight Music Theatre artistic director Michael Weber adapted the audio drama "War of the Well(e)s" from Orson Welles' version of H.G. Wells' novel and produced in collaboration with A Red Orchid Theatre. The play is available online through July 31.

    Porchlight Music Theatre artistic director Michael Weber adapted the audio drama "War of the Well(e)s" from Orson Welles' version of H.G. Wells' novel and produced in collaboration with A Red Orchid Theatre. The play is available online through July 31.

 
 
Posted7/3/2020 6:00 AM

Virtual magic parlour

Magician Dennis Watkins adapts his long-running show "The Magic Parlour" from the lounge to the small screen. Watkins' virtual "The Magic Parlour at Home" takes place over Zoom. The show is suitable for ages 12 and older.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"During this time, I've learned to adapt my craft to be able to virtually perform the same caliber of magic my guests have come to expect from my performances at the Palmer House," said Watkins in a prepared statement. "The new acts I've created for 'The Magic Parlour at Home' will provide a truly engaging and participatory magical experience for my virtual audience."

7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 3 and 10; 7:30 p.m. July 11, 17, 18, 24, 25 and 31. Tickets are $75 per "household," with a maximum of 30 tickets for each performance. They're available at the magicparlourchicago.com.

Virtual fundraiser

A Red Orchid Theatre and Porchlight Music Theatre team up for "War of the Well(e)s," an audio drama adapted from Orson Welles' 1938 recording of H.G. Wells' Martian invasion chronicle "The War of the Worlds." Porchlight artistic director Michael Weber wrote the adaptation, which is directed by A Red Orchid ensemble member Lawrence Grimm and features such Chicago area notables as Lance Baker, Mierka Gierten, Henry Godinez, Anish Jethmalani, Guy Van Swearingen, Michael Shannon, Michael Patrick Thornton and others.

"So many of us in theater are looking for meaningful ways to artistically connect as artists while also maintaining that intimacy in storytelling with our audiences. The audio drama platform offers the opportunity to do both while igniting the imaginations of both performer and audience member," said Grimm in a prepared statement.

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Available via audio link through July 31. Tickets are pay-what-you-can. Proceeds benefit A Red Orchid and Porchlight. See aredorchidtheatre.org.

In other news

• First Folio Theatre in Oak Brook invites past audience members to share their memories in writing or via video of their favorite summer productions, which the theater will post on its media pages. Submit memories at firstfolio@firstfolio.org.

• St. Charles' Steel Beam Theatre showcases some of its veterans performing monologues from "Cyrano" and "Love, Loss and What I Wore" on YouTube as part of efforts to raise funds and stay connected to subscribers during the shutdown. To access the performances, which may become part of an online series, type in "artists performance 1a" on YouTube.

• Several high school and college graduates from the suburbs were awarded performing arts scholarships for the 2020-2021 school year from the Dennis Taylor Scholarship Foundation for the Performing Arts. The awards were established in 2018 in the memory of Taylor, a longtime suburban dancer/choreographer, costume designer, wig and makeup artist and set designer. Recipients include: Elaysa Emmerich of St. Charles; Tim Hommowun of St. Charles; Maggie Kinney of St. Charles; Mary Emma Zimmerman of St. Charles; Bailey Cates of Elburn; Marteena Mendel-Duckins of Elgin; Elizabeth Sullivan of Lake in the Hills; Annabelle Mique of Streamwood; Michele Gurrieri of Schaumburg and Parker Morley of Lombard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Actors Gymnasium, Athenaeum Theatre, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Factory Theater, the Gene Siskel Film Center, Old Town School of Folk Music, Remy Bumppo Theatre, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Windy City Playhouse and Zanies are among the organizations to benefit from Support Chicago Arts, an initiative launched by the new nonprofit group Chicago Stands Together. Arts lovers can contribute to the arts organization of their choice by purchasing items such as face masks, yard signs and window cards with the organization's name. A portion of each purchase goes to the organization. See supportchicagoarts.com.

• Porchlight Music Theatre announced it will postpone its previously announced 26th anniversary season to 2021-2022 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mainstage shows "Legally Blonde," "Titanic" and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and Porchlight Revisits productions of "Assassins," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" will take place one year later than planned. Current tickets holders will be contacted about credits or refunds and other options, including donating the price of the tickets or transferring the balance to the 2021-2022 season. Porchlight continues virtual entertainment including its "Sondheim @ 90 Roundtable" with artistic director Michael Weber, "Porchlight By Request," "Movie Musical Mondays" and other options for music theater fans.

• Red Theater Chicago announced founding artistic director Aaron Sawyer has transitioned into an advisory role with the company's board of directors. Succeeding him is Wyatt Kent, a member of the inaugural company founded in 2008 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

• Lookingglass Theatre Company ensemble member J. Nicole Brooks ("Her Honor Jane Byrne") received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to support a three-year residency at the theater. The collaboration with Lookingglass involves the development of a series of plays about Chicago mayors, including "Harold Washington and the City Council Wars."

• The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently announced it will provide $10 million in emergency grants to six United States Regional Arts Organizations as part of the new United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund. The fund supports small to mid-size arts organizations facing a financial crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. By some estimates, arts organizations have lost about $6.8 billion, or about 26%. The fund will award grants to organizations that demonstrate: educational, artistic, cultural and community impact; leadership, community support; equity and inclusion and fiscal management, among other criteria. The local arm, Arts Midwest, will award grants ranging from $30,000 to $75,000. Applications are due Wednesday, July 8. See artsmidwest.org/programs/resiliencefund.

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