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Best Improviser 


Blaine Swen

If the Improvised Shakespeare Company (open run: Fridays, 8 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, improvisedshakespeare.com, $14) produces some of the most emotionally textured improv around—and it does—then a lot of the credit has to go to its mastermind, Blaine Swen. He’s a force to be reckoned with onstage, sensitive to every word spoken and every action even so much as hinted at. His ease with Shakespeare’s language and themes ensures stories rich with twists, turns, and laughs, and his attention to detail is a huge reason ISC shows tie up so neatly at the end. BASH!, the one-man, improvised musical he performed last year at iO, was full of the wounded old souls and sweetly naive jesters he so eloquently plays with the ISC—and, not surprisingly, turned out to be a rousing success. He also appears with the Deltones, iO’s musical improv troupe (open run: Saturdays, 8 PM, chicago.ioimprov.com, $14), and his sensibilities elevate their work too.

Critics' Picks

Best Dance Party

Chances Dances continue

Best Fashion Watching

School of the Art Institute, Columbia College continue

Best New Musical Group

Bin Laden Blowin' Up continue

Best Michael Jackson Cover

"Billie Jean" by Robbie Fulks continue

Best Mustache in a Local Band

Stavros "Steve" Giannopoulos of the Atlas Moth continue

Best Lawn Seat at Ravinia

Green Bay & Lake Cook 847-266-5100
The little hill that faces the main entrance to the Ravinia pavilion, Highland Park, Illinois continue

Best Microscene

No Coast Collective continue

Best Free Movie Series

Cinema/Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center continue

Best Moonlighting Witch

Jackie Hoffman in Whining in the Windy City: Holiday Edition continue

Best Theatrical Hat Trick

Chris Sullivan in The Hairy Ape, The Mystery of Irma Vep, and The Illusion continue

Best New Play

Agon Trilogy continue

Best New Theatrical Form

One Thing, and Everything Else continue

Best Theater History Collection

Chicago Theater Collection at the Harold Washington Library Center continue

Best Puppeteer

Michael Montenegro continue

Best Place to See a Seven-Man Pyramid Cross the High Wire

Hephaestus: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale continue

Best Variety Show

Impress These Apes continue

Best Improv Group

Cook County Social Club continue

Best Stand-up Comedian

A tie between Beth Stelling and Junior Stopka continue

Best Sketch Show

The Best Church of God continue

Best Commentary on Modern Technology by a Choreographer

Julia Rhoads at Lucky Plush Productions continue

Best UnderĀ­appreciated Chicago Novel

Bertram Cope's Year by Henry Blake Fuller continue
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)