Porchlight Music Theatre Celebrates Sondheim’s 90th Birthday with Weekly Series

Chicago’s Porchlight Music Theatre present Sondheim @90 Roundtable, created and hosted by Porchlight’s artistic director, Michael Weber and special guests celebrating theater icon Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday this year. The series runs every Saturday at 7 p.m. (CST) via Porchlight’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PorchlightMusicTheatre/). Upcoming guests of the series include, Klea Blackhurst, David H. Bell, E. Faye Butler, Jim Corti, David Girolmo, Gary Griffin, James Earl Jones II, Sean Allan Krill, Hollis Resnik, Marc Robin and Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller and David Cromer.

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Neo-Futurist Production Sets Model for Post Pandemic Theater Creation

Chicago prepares for its next phase of recovery without a firm date for resuming indoor performing arts events, The Neo-Futurist Theater has pioneered a new model of operation. Rather than sharing content from past productions, the company has moved its flagship show The Infinite Wrench to a digital platform, now called The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral, presenting 30 digital plays in 60 minutes each week. The Neo-Futurist ensemble of writer-performers continue to work from home and produce new plays weekly, which are then filmed and shared with patrons who subscribe via the Patreon platform.  

Since its launch in late March, the new digital theater-making model has proven successful, with The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral currently bringing in 50% of the production’s pre-COVID-19 revenue. The production has more than 650 weekly subscribers from Chicago and across the country, significantly more patrons than The Neo-Futurists’ 147-seat theater can normally accommodate over a performance weekend. As a result of the success of this digital theater platform, The Neo-Futurists’ ensemble members, contracted artists and staff continue to receive payment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are overjoyed by the response thus far, and thrilled to be sharing our uniquely personal, non-illusory theater with a broader audience,” said Artistic Director Kirsten Riiber. “For 31 years, The Neo-Futurists have provided a space for audiences to come together and see their experience reflected to them with honesty; and this is one of those times where staying present with our audiences, who we’ve never been able to do our work without, is vital. We chose the low price point to make our work as inclusive as possible. Accessibility is central to our mission and we know many people are struggling financially right now.”

The Neo-Futurists are the creators of Chicago’s longest-running late night show and normally perform live 50 weeks per year. For The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral, the Neo-Futurist ensemble continues to produce personal, of-the-moment content that speaks to the performers’ lives in isolation and other current events. Recent digital plays span from the humorous to the insightful, and have included topics such as murder hornets, singing from balconies, penguins exploring new environments, socially distanced Olympic training, and early retirement.

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Mercury Theatre Mounts Online Video Series, “Backstage Stories”

L. Walter Stearns, executive director of Mercury Theater Chicago, recently announced an ongoing lineup of three video series featuring past and present Mercury talent, to include actors, musicians and members of several creative teams. The three series of videos will be entitled “Backstage Stories,” “On the Air with Mercury Theater Chicago,” and “On the Road to Priscilla,” and will be posted on an ongoing basis on the theater’s social media pages. The theater will also be coordinating a city-wide initiative video entitled “Stay Home Chicago” in response to the stay-at-home orders following the COVID-19 crisis, featuring performers from previous Mercury Theater Chicago productions.

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Chicago Children’s Theatre Launches At-Home Initiative with Hope-Affirming Window Installation

Artists have transformed Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. in the West Loop, into a bright new beacon of hope.
Stroll by the former Chicago police station at Monroe and Racine any evening and you’ll see a gorgeous new window installation that changes the colors of the rainbow around the life-affirming message “Everything will be okay.”

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Goodman Theatre Postpones Balance of 2019-20 Season

As shelter-in-place due to COVID-19 continues in Illinois, Goodman Theatre has announced its intention to postpone the four remaining 2019-2020 Season productions to the upcoming 2020-2021 Season. These four shows include School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh, directed by Lili-Anne Brown; Molly Sweeney by Brian Friel, directed by Robert Falls; American Mariachi by José Cruz González, directed by Henry Godinez; and the world-premiere musical adaptation of The Outsiders based on the novel by S.E. Hinton and Francis Ford Coppola’s motion picture, book by Adam Rapp, music and lyrics by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine, music supervision, arrangements and orchestration by Justin Levine, choreography by Lorin Latarro, directed by Liesl Tommy. The complete 2020-2021 Season and additional details to be announced.

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Actors Gymnasium to Present New Work, Isolated, Amid COVID-19 Closure

Actors Gym has announced “Isolated,” its annual Spring Youth Circus, which has been devised through an innovative online rehearsal process. It features 28 of its top youth performers working under the direction of Kasey Foster and the company’s artistic director, Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi. The show will be screened online on May 16 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.

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Steppenwolf Announces Pants Optional: A Steppenwolf Soirée

Steppenwolf Theatre Company replaces its 2020 Gala with a special online event, Pants Optional: A Steppenwolf Soirée, celebrating the power of theater and raising vital funds to keep it alive during a time of necessary social-distancing. Ensemble member Audrey Francis emcees this festive virtual gathering on Saturday, May 9, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. CST, with special appearances by Steppenwolf ensemble members Joan Allen, Gary Cole, John Malkovich, Sandra Marquez and Laurie Metcalf, along with celebrity guests who will be announced on Steppenwolf’s social media channels and website.

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Black Button Eyes Productions Presents Poe Adaptation with COVID-19 Spin

Black Button Eyes Productions will present the world premiere of Masque of the Red Coronavirus, a free online-only script and video experience, written and directed by producing artistic director Ed Rutherford and adapted, in part, from Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Masque of Red Death.” Poe’s story, along with a few contemporary newspaper articles about how the wealthy are reacting to the current pandemic, inspired Rutherford to create a script combining the two into a short, angry satirical piece.

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