Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hang on Tight -- October's Getting Scary!

October is brimming over with Things to Do, ranging from a little musical comedy and a big announcement to a whole lot of drama.

This first weekend in October is a big one for local theater, with events that include Fences, the August Wilson play about a garbage collector who once dreamed of becoming a major league baseball player, opening in Westhoff Theatre at Illinois State University, Little Shop of Horrors and its big green carnivorous plant from Outer Space at Eureka College Theatre unfurling its leaves, and eight characters in the annual McLean County History Museum/Evergreen Cemetery Walk showcasing local history taking their places grave-side in Bloomington. Over in Champaign, Parkland College presents Jennifer Haley's video-game-based scary story Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom tonight through October 10, while the Station Theatre offers Will Eno's The Open House, a quirky and strange dysfunctional family drama, from tonight through the 17th.

Fences is one of Wilson's "Century Cycle," with a play devoted to each decade of African-American life in the 20th century. This one takes place in the 1950s; its original Broadway production earned four Tony Awards, including Best Play, Best Director for Lloyd Richards, Best Actor for James Earl Jones and Best Featured Actress for Mary Alice. Like James Earl Jones and Mary Alice before them, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis won Tony Awards in the 2010 Broadway revival for their performances as Troy Maxson, a garbage man with thwarted dreams, and Rose, his second wife. In a related August Wilson note, Denzel Washington recently announced his intention to produce filmed versions of all ten plays in the "Century Cycle" for HBO, with Fences -- which Washington will direct, produce and star in -- up first. Viola Davis will be there for Fences, as well.

ISU's Fences is directed by Duane Boutté, with a cast that includes Hannaniah Wiggins as Troy, Marixa Ford as Rose, Emmanuel Jackson as their son Cory, Gregory Hicks as Troy's younger brother Gabriel, Bryson Thomas as Lyons, Troy's son from a previous marriage, Timothy Jefferson as his friend Bono and Janiya Franklin as Raynell, a late addition to the family. Performances are scheduled for October 2 to 4 and 6 to 10. For ticket information, click here.

Illinois Wesleyan enters the fall theatrical fray with the Midwest premiere of Blown Youth, a play that serves as playwright Dipika Guha's response to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Guha muses, "It was borne out of my desire to challenge the notion that Hamlet (the character) is the embodiment of human consciousness when he is, in fact, a man. Where Hamlet’s madness smacks of genius, would a woman in his shoes be seen as just as stunningly witty and seductive -- or just a pain in the ass hysteric?" IWU's production of Blown Youth is directed by Nancy Loitz and opens with a performance at 8 pm on October 6. Call 309-556-3232 to reach the box office.

October 6 is also the date for the big announcement of what the Illinois Shakespeare Festival has planned for next summer. They promise a "spectactular" season coming up in 2016, but you'll have to wait till after the 6th to find out exactly what that entails.

The theatre program at University of Illinois kicks off its fall season with Michael Gene Sullivan's 2006 adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 opening October 15 in Colwell Playhouse at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Tom Mitchell directs this stage version of the classic science fiction novel that introduced concepts like "Big Brother," "doublespeak" and "thought crimes" to the lexicon. Click here for more information.  

You can also catch a free concert version of the musical Dreamgirls at Krannert Center presented by the Banks, Bridgewater, Lewis Fine Arts Academy on Sunday, October 18th. Local C-U singers Noah Brown, Crofton Coleman, Sherrika Ellison, Tyra Nesbitt and Erica Smith will light up the Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen score, which features big pop hits like "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," "One Night Only" and "I Am Changing."

Whose Live Anyway? with a cast that includes Jeff B. Davis, Greg Proops and Ryan Stiles, as well as Nashville heartthrob Charles "Chip" Esten, returns to the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts on October 17 for one performance only at 7:30 pm.

On October 23, Illinois State University's School of Theatre and Dance is back with Dale Wasserman's stage version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, directed by Lori Adams for the Center for the Performing Arts. Cuckoo's Nest was an award-winning (and frequently banned) book written by Ken Kesey before it became a play, and an award-winning movie directed by Milos Forman afterwards. The role of rebellious mental patient Randle McMurphy, played by Kirk Douglas and Jack Nicholson on stage and on film, will be played by Kyle Fitzgerald for ISU, with Kate Vargulich as his nemesis Nurse Ratched, and Josh Pennington and Matt Frederick as fellow inmates. I haven't seen an image for the ISU production, so that is Ken Kesey's book cover you see here.

Walking With My Ancestors, Ama Oforiwaa Aduonum's powerful examination of the ghosts of slavery as expressed in song, dance and words, returns to New Route Theatre, again directed by Kim Pereira, for one night only on October 23. This time, Walking With will be presented at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington at 7:30 pm on the 23rd. Tickets are available in advance by e-mailing New Route at or at the door on a first come/first served basis for a suggested donation of $10.

And that's what I have for you to pencil into your calendars right now. Stay tuned for updates as I get them!

No comments:

Post a Comment