Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: Marie Antoinette/Steppenwolf

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(left to right) Ericka Ratcliff (Yolande De Polignac), Tamberla Perry (Therese De Lamballe) and ensemble member Alana Arenas/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Ericka Ratcliff, Tamberla Perry and Alana Arenas/Photo: Michael Brosilow

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Underneath its bass-dropping, high-fashion-flouting, sick-opening-credits-having exterior, David Adjmi’s “Marie Antoinette” is actually pretty old-fashioned. It might as well be an update of Shakespeare’s “Richard II.” It tracks the fall from grace of a ruling figure who, while they might have been a really terrible ruler, is nonetheless deserving of their due as a complex, often sympathetic, human. Substitute Shakespeare’s flowered verse for Adjmi’s Paris-Hilton-gone-clubbing inflections and the two are pretty identical.

What’s fresh about Adjmi’s take on France’s most famously tragic (or is it tragically famous?) queen is that it is tailor-made for a modern understanding of celebrity. Adjmi’s Marie has been born into a life of riches and fame. She knows nothing else, and is as much a product of her environment as she is its progenitor.

Under the gleefully propulsive direction of New York theater artist Robert O’Hara, Steppenwolf’s Marie Antoinette also has the benefit of being portrayed by the fiercely intelligent and elegantly crass Alana Arenas. Her performance alone makes Marie a woman worthy of our attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Sponsored: Steppenwolf Video of the Week (Marie Antoinette Photoshoot Teaser)

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We had so much fun at the photoshoot for MARIE ANTOINETTE, we decided to make a video to share! Check out the fine work of photographer Saverio Truglia with ensemble member Alana Arenas posing as Marie.Wardrobe provided by Ikram. Read the rest of this entry »

Sponsored: Steppenwolf Video of the Week (Airline Highway – Meet the REAL Francis)

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AIRLINE HIGHWAY’S playwright Lisa D’amour introduces her long-time friend and poet Danny Kerwick. Danny is the inspiration for the Character Francis, played by Gordon Joseph Weiss in Steppenwolf’s production. We thought it would be fun to sit down with all three and talk about this unique experience.

Steppenwolf’s AIRLINE HIGHWAY brings a party worth talking about to the stage. Set in New Orleans, this new world premiere production is a boisterous and moving ode to the outcasts who make life a little more interesting. Headed to Broadway in the Spring of 2015, now is your chance to see it here in Chicago first—on stage through February 14. Tickets start at just $20: learn more at http://www.steppenwolf.org/Plays-Events/productions/index.aspx?id=623
Read the rest of this entry »

Sponsored: Steppenwolf Video of the Week (Marie Antoinette Photoshoot Teaser)

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We had so much fun at the photoshoot for MARIE ANTOINETTE, we decided to make a video to share! Check out the fine work of photographer Saverio Truglia with ensemble member Alana Arenas posing as Marie.Wardrobe provided by Ikram. Read the rest of this entry »

Player of the Moment: David Schmitz, New Managing Director of Steppenwolf Theatre

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Photo: Joe Mazza/Brave-Lux

Photo: Joe Mazza/Brave-Lux

 

By Brian Hieggelke

Last October, Steppenwolf surprised the theater world by announcing a double-barreled transition in leadership: long-term artistic director Martha Lavey would give way to Anna Shapiro at the end of the current season, and David Hawkanson would retire even sooner as executive director—his protégé David Schmitz would step into the top administrative job as managing director on January 1. Schmitz might have the highest-profile new job in Chicago theater, but even for his first press interview, a week and a half into the gig, he’s calm and confident. That’s because, I imagine, he’s been at Steppenwolf for a decade already, and his big near-term challenge, the expansion of the theater’s “campus” to include a new building, new lobby and two theater spaces, is an undertaking he approaches with confidence. He was downtown last week to meet with a board member, and we grabbed a few minutes in a bustling Loop coffee shop.

What brought you to this point?
I’m a theater person from the start. I was involved as an actor as a kid and actually have an undergraduate degree in directing and sound design. I moved to Chicago in ‘98 to get an MFA in directing from Roosevelt University. And the nice thing about that program, beyond being a good program where I learned a lot, was that it didn’t pay me to go to school, so I had to get a job. I got a job as a business manager for a for-profit company called Adair Performance which was, literally, clowns. Like birthday-party clowns. And that’s why I have the advantage of being able to say I worked for clowns and really meaning it. But the great thing about that opportunity was it taught me contracts and budgeting and the fundamentals of business, which I didn’t get in any of my schooling. Then I was hired as the bookkeeper at Lookingglass about two months before they broke ground on the space on Michigan Avenue. I walked into a really great opportunity—there was a lot of need for financial work, for analysis, and there wasn’t really anybody to do it. I was hired as a bookkeeper. By the end of the summer, I was director of finance. By the end of three years, general manager, helping to run the theater while we were looking for an executive director. We eventually hired the current executive director, Rachel Kraft. At that point, I was still directing. I was an ensemble member at Stage Left Theatre from 2002 to 2008, when my first kid was born and I stopped directing. And then I was hired at Steppenwolf in 2005, and walked into, again, a great situation. David Hawkanson, the executive director, took me under his wing, along with certain members of the board, and the rest is history I guess. The funny story that my wife tells is that when she first moved here in 2001, after we’d been dating long distance, we were going by the old Steppenwolf administrative offices at North and Halsted, that beautiful brick building, and I said, “That’s where they have their offices! Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could work in a building like that?” Read the rest of this entry »

Sponsored: Steppenwolf Video of the Week (Airline Highway)

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Steppenwolf’s AIRLINE HIGHWAY brings a party worth talking about to the stage. Set in New Orleans, this new world premiere production is a boisterous and moving ode to the outcasts who make life a little more interesting. Headed to Broadway in the Spring of 2015, now is your chance to see it here in Chicago first—on stage through February 14. Tickets start at just $20: learn more at http://www.steppenwolf.org/Plays-Events/productions/index.aspx?id=623
Read the rest of this entry »

Sponsored: Steppenwolf Video of the Week (Get RED)

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Check out RED. A membership for people in their 20s, RED is a totally flexible way to see mind-blowing theater at Steppenwolf. For just $100, the RED card gives you six tickets to use for any play at any time. And you can use your tickets to bring friends. RED members also get parties, drink discounts and more!

Sponsored: Steppenwolf Video of the Week (Audiences Respond to “Airline Highway”)

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Steppenwolf’s AIRLINE HIGHWAY brings a party worth talking about to the stage. Set in New Orleans, this new world premiere production is a boisterous and moving ode to the outcasts who make life a little more interesting. Headed to Broadway in the Spring of 2015, now is your chance to see it here in Chicago first—on stage through February 8. Tickets start at just $20: learn more at http://www.steppenwolf.org/Plays-Events/productions/index.aspx?id=623
Read the rest of this entry »

Sponsored: Steppenwolf Video of the Week (Airline Highway’s Lisa D’Amour)

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Steppenwolf’s AIRLINE HIGHWAY brings a party worth talking about to the stage. Set in New Orleans, this new world premiere production is a boisterous and moving ode to the outcasts who make life a little more interesting. Headed to Broadway in the Spring of 2015, now is your chance to see it here in Chicago first—on stage through February 8. Tickets start at just $20: learn more at http://www.steppenwolf.org/Plays-Events/productions/index.aspx?id=623
Read the rest of this entry »

Sponsored: Steppenwolf Video of the Week (Airline Highway)

Sponsored Content No Comments »

Steppenwolf’s AIRLINE HIGHWAY brings a party worth talking about to the stage. Set in New Orleans, this new world premiere production is a boisterous and moving ode to the outcasts who make life a little more interesting. Headed to Broadway in the Spring of 2015, now is your chance to see it here in Chicago first—on stage through February 8. Tickets start at just $20: learn more at http://www.steppenwolf.org/Plays-Events/productions/index.aspx?id=623
Read the rest of this entry »