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Events Search – The Short List (Theater)

26 total results
Public House Theatre (map)
3914 N. Clark St.
Lakeview
phone 800-650-6449

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Arguments and Grievances

Open run: first Sun of each month, 8 PM

As the country faces deep, divisive questions about the nature and direction of our shared society, some issues are in perilous danger of falling through the cracks. Phish vs. Insane Clown Posse. Friend Zone vs. Bone Zone. Star Trek vs. Star Wars. Curated by Zach Peterson, this excellent debate series enlists some of the city's funniest underground comedians to hash out the overlooked questions of our day. The lineup and topics rotate each week, but on opening night the comics came doubly armed with hard facts and potent bits. Politicians take note: Showing up to a debate in ICP greasepaint is one sure way to polarize a crowd. On the Juggalo question, there can be no middle ground. —Keith Griffith

Schubas (map)
3159 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-525-2508

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The Arsonists

8/28-9/27: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 4 PM

An adaptation of Max Frisch's radio play about a town plagued by mysterious fires. $28

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Strawdog Theatre Company (map)
3829 N. Broadway St.
Lakeview
phone 773-528-9696

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Avenue Q

Through 10/26: Wed-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 and 6:30 PM

The brilliance of this foulmouthed 2003 Broadway musical comedy (book by Jeff Whitty, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) is not just that it skewers a certain long-running PBS kids' show, but that it does so while telling a compelling story, about a callow recent college grad coming to grips with the real world and all the downwardly mobile misfits he meets in his edgy New York neighborhood. L. Walter Stearns packs his production with adept quadruple threats (they sing, they act, they dance, and they work puppets). Jackson Evans earns lots of laughs as the hapless hero who finds himself all the way out on Avenue Q. But the heart of the show belongs to Adam Fane and Daniel Smeriglio, playing closeted knockoffs of Sesame Street's odd couple, Bert and Ernie. —Jack Helbig $20-$59

Mercury Theater (map)
3745 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-325-1700

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Blue Man Group

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri 7 PM, Sat 2, 5, and 8 PM, Sun 4 and 7 PM
phone 773-348-4000

At the Briar Street Theatre since 1997, the cobalt zanies have added wizard-worthy tricks to an already potent mix of visual puns, physical stunts, and cultural commentary. The latest edition conjures up a 2.5-D universe, giant "GiPads" that perform outsized multitasking, and Lady Gaga hat spin-offs. The same subversive spirit fuels the show's still-potent signature bits, including splatter-crazed "paint drumming." The secret of their cerulean success? Understanding that laughter and thought can be BFFs. —Lawrence Bommer $49-$59

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Briar Street Theatre (map)
3133 N. Halsted St.
Lakeview
phone 773-348-4000

The Boxer

Through 8/31: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

Matt Lyle's silent play is called The Boxer, but its true hero is Velma, a plucky gal down on her luck, who gets work during the Great Depression by disguising herself (not always credibly) as a man. Thanks to a twist of fate and a well-timed punch, she finds herself training a boxer for a big fight. Then she falls in love with him. For their third collaboration with Pursuit Productions, director Kacie Smith and choreographer Ahmad Simmons have put together a show that feels like a lost Chaplin feature and is just as delightful. The actors—led by Amber Snyder and Eric Duhon as Velma and the Boxer—are at once goofy and graceful, Mike Evans's piano performance of his own score and Matt Wills's sound effects are witty and well-timed, and Craig Kidwell's light design cleverly recreates the look of a black-and-white film. —Aimee Levitt $20

Athenaeum Theatre (map)
2936 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-935-6860

Bri-Ko

Open run: Sat 2 PM

How many bumbling buddies does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Or juggle? Or deliver a meal in a water balloon? On Saturday afternoons at Stage 773, the answer is three—specifically the three members of Bri-Ko. The sketch-comedy troupe Rube Goldberg would've created if Rube Goldberg had created sketch-comedy troupes, Bri-Ko puts on a silent clown show for the sort of kid who'd appreciate British humor. The name suggests bricolage—i.e., art improvised from materials found at hand. But the many kooky props at hand here (Nerf darts, ping-pong balls, various foodstuffs) are used to make a great, big mess. Tim Soszko, Brian Peterlin, and Chicago Sketch Fest founder Brian Posen bop happily about like Beaker the Muppet, contriving difficult ways to accomplish routine tasks. High art it's not, but the slapstick is practiced and the dumb smiles on these bozos' faces are contagious. —Asher Klein $10-$20

Stage 773 (map)
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-327-5252

Burlesque Is More

Through 8/30: Sat 10:30 PM

A comedic burlesque show. $20, $15 for students

Annoyance Theatre (map)
851 W. Belmont
Lakeview
phone 773-697-9693

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Chicagoland and Fish Nuts

Open run: Tue 8 PM

At the start of each show an all-star ensemble creates a tableau onstage, then asks after a blackout, "Where in Chicago did that take place?" "Soccer practice" was the response the night I was there, and after an hour the improvisers—intensely alert and feisty—had crafted a veritable community, complete with idiosyncratic characters, unpredictable backstory, and tragicomic intrigue. Veteran T.J. Jagodowski, recognizable from a series of Sonic commercials he's done with quick-witted cast member Peter Grosz, played a thick-accented German coach. Abruptly launching a new scene by charging to the front of the stage, he squatted and gestured as he yelled at his coed youth team, "I will yank on your nuts like the Hunchback of Notre Dame working a bell!" —Ryan Hubbard $8

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Annoyance Theatre (map)
851 W. Belmont
Lakeview
phone 773-697-9693

Clemente: The Legend of 21

Through 9/14: Fri 8 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

This worshipful account of the short life of Puerto Rican baseball star Roberto Clemente has much to admire. Presented by Chicago's NightBlue Performing Arts Company in conjunction with New York's ArtoCarpus theater, the show is well suited to family audiences in its portrayal of Clemente as an inspirational figure who overcame language barriers and racism to become an American sports icon. It chronicles Clemente's rise from a working-class small-town boyhood to international fame as a player for the Pittsburgh Pirates—the first Latino to receive a National League Most Valuable Player award—before his untimely death in a 1972 plane crash while delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. Though writer-director Luis Caballero's earnest script is pretty stilted, the bilingual musical benefits from a lilting score (by Caballero and composer Harold Gutierrez), lively dances, and passionate, authentic, charismatic performances by Modesto Lacen and Jonathan Amaro, playing Roberto as a grownup and a teenager respectively; Carlos Miranda as Roberto's brother (the story's narrator); Willie Denton and Xiomara Rodriguez as his parents; Ricardo Puente in a string of colorful supporting roles; and Lorraine Velez, exquisite as his wife. Film footage showing the real Clemente and depicting life in the sugarcane fields of Puerto Rico enhances the story's effect. —Albert Williams $35

Stage 773 (map)
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-327-5252

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ComedySportz Theatre

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri 8 and 10 PM, Sat 6, 8, and 10 PM

Part of a national chain of comedy clubs, this company is known for quick improv games (think Whose Line Is It Anyway?), but it also stages long-form improv. LCD screens and sophisticated lighting and sound systems amplify the sports-style improv of the company's eponymous production, ComedySportz. There's a snobbery in the Chicago improv community that looks up at the "art" of the long form, with its emphasis on story and characters, and down on the "entertainment" of the short, with its emphasis on games and punch lines. ComedySportz falls emphatically in the entertainment camp; its bottom line is laughter, and it gets plenty of it. The show is structured as a competition between two teams performing multiple games that require audience participation. A referee ensures that the players--a rotating roster from a company of about 50--work clean or they finish the game with a brown bag over their heads. The formula is practically foolproof: players may flash their quick wits in winning responses, but they're even funnier when they fail. In one game a team had to devise a pick-up line, each member contributing a word. Moving rapidly from player to player, the line developed: "Tonight-I'll-tango-with-your-face." Probably wouldn't work at a bar, but at ComedySportz it killed. --Ryan Hubbard $19

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ComedySportz Theatre (map)
929 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212
ComedySportz Theatre

Cupid Has a Heart On

Open run: Sat 8 PM

In the hands of Cupid Players creative director Brian Posen, this long-running musical sketch comedy—now in its tenth year, with nine new cast members—portrays a host of relatable situations: passionate postbreakup relationships with cake, selective hearing between spouses, the strategic use of the bathroom as a refuge from the demands of everyday life. Its depiction of the challenges of romance remains relevant, even after all this time; if you've ever been in a relationship, you'll probably find some part of it ably parodied here. Plus, what other show advises you in song to "publicize your privates"? —Jillian Sandler $18

Stage 773 (map)
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-327-5252

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God, Sex & Death Variety Hour

First Wednesday of the month: 7:30 PM

Many a mental health professional advises that if you're really afraid of something, the best thing to do is confront your fear. That's sort of what comedian/musician Danny Black is up to with the God, Sex, and Death Variety Hour. During his opening monologue at the August show, Black, who plays host, admits he's terrified of death but swears that "talking about it makes it better." In reference to the god part, Black says he had a religious experience on a retreat once—god spoke to him, obviously—but he mostly ignored it at the time; so giving the guy (or gal) a nod now seems like the polite thing to do. The inclusion of sex as a topic—at any time, in any universe—seems self-explanatory. Continue reading >>

Schubas (map)
3159 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-525-2508
God, Sex & Death Variety Hour

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Hellish Half-Light

Through 8/30: Thu-Sat 8 PM

Many of Samuel Beckett's short plays aren't really plays at all. They're human behavior mechanisms—kinetic sculptures made of people and words, constructed to generate distilled visions of who we are and what we do. Director Jennifer Markowitz has assembled a solid half-dozen such mechanisms for this Mary-Arrchie Theatre production, ranging from a clever little joke like Catastrophe (a theater director berates his assistant while she manipulates an actor as if he were so many pipe cleaners) to a dark demonstration of political karma like What Where (a paranoid despot arrests her own thugs one by one until there's only one arrest left to be made) and the literally sculptural Play (three heads sit atop a pedestal and narrate their love triangle in counterpoint). The cast is generally strong, but Stephen Walker is exceptional, playing various characters in a naturalistic (yet often wiseass) style that, strangely enough, makes Beckett's abstractions work. —Tony Adler $25

Angel Island (map)
735 W. Sheridan Rd.
Lakeview
phone 773-871-0442
Hellish Half-Light

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Into Hell: The Oregon Trail

8/31-9/21: Sun 8:30 PM

A one-man show following the journey of a family man who encounters every obstacle posed by the Oregon Trail computer game. $12, $8 for students

Annoyance Theatre (map)
851 W. Belmont
Lakeview
phone 773-697-9693

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