Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Catching February Theatre Fever

Time to get your February calendar ready!

Along with Oscar-nominated short films, the Art Theater Co-op in Champaign is currently showing M, Fritz Lang's masterpiece of German expressionism. It's a creepy film about a child murderer (played by young Peter Lorre in his third film) on the loose in pre-World War II Berlin, a city of deep shadows and lurking evil. You can read Roger Ebert's take on M here.

Back on the Oscar theme, upcoming at The Art will be Selma, Foxcatcher and Still Alice, all nominated in various categories.

Foxcatcher is also on the bill at the Normal Theater, with this story about multimillionaire John du Pont (played by Steve Carrell), a man obsessed with Olympic wrestling and brothers Mark and Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo), on screen on February 7 and 8.

Illinois State University Theatre's year begins with Cabaret, opening February 12 in ISU's Center for the Performing Arts. Duane Boutte directs a cast that includes Paige Brantley as Sally Bowles, the American girl who sings at the seedy Kit Kat Club in Berlin. In fact, the low-rent Kit Kat Club could've been right down the street from the goings-on in M, above. Jimmy Keating will play Cliff, the Englishman who enters Sally's life as the Nazis rise to power around them, and Alex Levy will portray the Emcee, the sardonic, decadent ringmaster at this shady place. Check out the show's Facebook page for more information.

Heroes, based on a French play by Gerald Sibleyras that was translated and adapted by award-winning playwright Tom Stoppard, opens February 12 at Heartland Theatre. A lighter, sweeter piece with nary a trace of physics or politics, Heroes is a bit of a departure for Stoppard. It focuses on three men, all veterans of World War I, who are stuck in a retirement home for old soldiers. Each has his own mental or physical problem, but together, they plot a way out of their confinement. Will they make it off their terrace? Over the wall? To the poplars in the distance? Come out to Heartland to see Joe Penrod, George Peterson-Karlan and Todd Wineburner bring Heroes to life from February 12 to 28, with a panel discussion scheduled after the February 22 performance. The discussion topic is Theatre and War, with historiography scholars Dr. Will Daddario and Dr. Joanne Zerdy offering their take on why theatre artists come back to war as a topic again and again. Check out Heroes showtimes here to make your choice.

Over at Illinois Wesleyan, February kicks off with Where in the World Is Frank Sparrow? by Angela Betzien. Frank Sparrow is described as "a stark urban reality" combined with "a mythic underworld." IWU offers six performances in McPherson Theatre between February 17 and 22. For more information, click here.

ISU is also offering Moliere's classic School for Wives this month. Natalie Kozelka and Kaitlyn Wehr star as thwarted young lovers Agnes and Horace, with Dario Carrion as Arnolphe, the middle-aged man keeping them apart. Agnes is his ward, and Arnolphe wants her for himself. Given that it's Moliere, have no fear -- Arnolphe's plans will come to naught. But it's going to take a lot of plots and counterplots to make that happen. MFA director Jonathan Hunt Sell takes the reins on this gender-bent version of The School for Wives, scheduled for performances in Westhoff Theatre from February 19 to March 6.

February 22 is Oscar night, where Hollywood luminaries gather to celebrate their favorite directors, performers and films from 2014. Will Birdman stave off Boyhood for Best Picture? Can Eddie Redmayne take Best Actor from Michael Keaton? Can anybody stop Julianne Moore? (No, no one can stop Julianne Moore.) See all the gowns, the glamor and the heartbreak starting at 6 Central time on ABC on the 22nd.

Romeo and Juliet is Eureka College's February choice, bringing the Montagues and Capulets into the 21st century as rival political factions instead of warring families. Eureka's R and J begins February 25 in Pritchard Theatre.

The world premiere of Hostage by Kim Pereira opens New Route Theatre's 2015 season. New Route tells us that "[t]his powerful play, a semi-finalist at the Eugene O'Neill Center National Playwrights Conference, is set somewhere in the Middle East against the complicated backdrop of ISIS, the West Bank, and Arab-American relations." Directed by guest director Tom Palmer from Atlanta, Georgia, Hostage features Dan Irvin and Rhys Lovell, two of the best actors you'll find in these parts. Performances are scheduled for February 26 to 28, March 1 and March 5 to 8. New Route's new space is at 814 Jersey Avenue in Normal, and tickets will be available at the door. You can reserve a spot by calling 309-827-7330 or e-mailing new.route.theatre@gmail.com

And that should take you from one end of February to the other with plenty of entertainment...

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