Making flesh-and-blood figures into heroes is always a tricky thing. We tend to highlight their virtues and ignore their all too human flaws, only for those flaws to present themselves later on. This can lead to a sense of cognitive dissonance, of feeling like we were never right to revere that person in the first place. But ultimately, our understanding that all people have their own particular flaws, and allowing both the positive and negative sides of a person to coexist, can sometimes lead to a richer, more truthful perception of the heroes we admire, as real human beings who struggled with the same things that we do. SOMETHING IN THE GAME, a new musical currently running as part of Northwestern University’s American Music Theatre Project, seeks to take a more well-rounded look at one particularly enduring hero: Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne.
Just as with my first experience watching the film, the story of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and the joy and connection these artists brought reminded me again that traditions are important. Clearly, this is one American Blues Theater have made their own, and I think I just might join them.
Tis the Season!…for hundreds of Christmas shows. While each brings their own unique spin on the message of Christmas, I highly recommend IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE for its charm, beautiful storytelling, fantastic singing, and terrific ability to transport the audience to a snazzy time that still feels all too familiar.
Going into our first preview, I think we were all a little nervous about putting the show in front of an audience for the first time, especially with so many tech elements involved. And the first preview being completely sold out—mostly to a huge group of high school students, no less—added even more pressure. However, the audience was enthralled and delighted, and the responsive crowd brought the show to life in a whole new way. After curtain call, as the house lights came up, I overheard the teenagers in front of me chattering about how it was one of the weirdest and funniest things they had ever seen. And that audience was just the beginning of a hugely successful preview week. One patron on Goldstar said “This was a great show! The singers were exceptional and the music was rousing.”
American Blues Theater’s triumphant LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS will have Chicago audiences clamoring to head downtown to Skid Row. This intimately staged production has a full sound (with music director Austin Cook leading a four-piece band, you can feel the vibrations of the bass in the floor) and provides an all-encompassing, fully entertaining spectacle.
In our final days in the rehearsal space, we had a sitzprobe and a designer run which were both exciting and crowded. Between the cast, the band, and the creative/production team, there are more than 35 people involved in bringing this show to life.
This week we began working with the two larger Audrey Two puppets and we were all surprised at how big they truly are. Sarah E. Ross (Puppet Designer and Producer Manager) had warned us that the largest was approximately 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide, but actually seeing a puppet that large come to life in person was both thrilling and intimidating (for comparison: Jim Henson’s Big Bird is 8 feet tall). There remain a handful of questions and concerns about how to best share the stage with the large puppets that won’t be able to be fully solved until we’re in the space. For now, it’s just exciting that they look so amazing and that Matthew Sitz is such a natural at operating them.
(Photo: Set model by Scenic Designer Grant Sabin) In this 4-part series, Assistant Director Elyse Dolan takes us behind the scenes of American Blues Theater’s production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, directed by Jonathan Berry. Part 1: Welcome to the Little Shop After the exchanging of quick hugs and hellos,...