Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Burning Bluebeard Conflagration Dedication Highly Recommended #Review

We adore The Ruffians and their singular devotion to recollecting and recreating the deadly Iroquois Theater Fire of 1903. This sublimely absurd comedy of errors that resulted in a mediocre play becoming a death trap matinee, in which 600, mostly women and children, lost their lives in 15 minutes, is a tale worth telling. This is the 3rd year we've seen Burning Bluebeard and it still brings us to laughter and tears. Check out their short run at Theater Wit for 2 more weeks only!

Click here and scroll down for loads of our past coverage.

Written by Jay Torrence
Directed by Halena Kays

This amazing ensemble turns theatrical tragedy into a triumph of human spirit, with longing, love and tender humor. They twist themselves into small spaces, mime, slam, and soar above the audience to bring this tale to life with fire and creativity. The consummate story telling, language and imagery will stay with you long after the final bows. 

The whole concept of words seeping into the floorboards and of theatres having ghosts of the faces that have shaped them makes for a passionate and powerful piece. The dead will not be forgotten. Even today, The Iroquois Theater fire stands as the deadliest single structure fire in history, and thanks to The Ruffians a new generation will know the tale.

Like the brightly colored packages that the company presents to the audience and uses to advance the storyline, this production is truly a gift. The tiny bits of beauty like the firefly jars and the tantalizingly tattered costumes, all add to the mystique that is Burning Bluebeard after the fire. It's a pleasure to see Pam Chermansky join The Ruffians in Dean Evan's former role, playing to her mime strengths and balancing the cast with a new character type. There were reinvented costumes and sets, better than ever, and quite a few new bits throughout the show. So do go back again if you've caught them in past years and do not miss this if you haven't!

We also adore the care The Ruffians have taken with every aspect of their craft. Their song choices bridge old and new through a compelling medley of modern tunes, that tie in to Bluebeard's plot with the untimely deaths of young talent, senseless violence, and creative work made all the more precious through loss. The dirge like, slow tempo version of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit set the tone beautifully as the show opened and brought tears to much of the audience before the first body bag had been breached. 

Kurt Cobain, dead at 27 from suicide or possibly homicide by gun, John Lennon, shot down at age 40 after a lifetime of singing about peace, and Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning, also at age 27, who left us the legacy of her rehab song, are the perfect voices for the Ruffian's macabre yet melancholy Burning Bluebeard. 

There's something in the human spirit that loves the absurd. We embrace the "Titanic Effect", where a tempting of fate by loudly and proudly declaring a ship unsinkable or a theater fire proof, is proven wrong in a dramatically deadly display. Questionable judgement reigns supreme from the very premise on. Who thought a panto about a ruthless murderer who decapitated all his wives, featuring comedians, massive dance numbers, and an odd assortment of schtick was a good idea for a family holiday musical?! 

When magical moonlight misfires, innocents do die too young, greed flourishes, and no good deed goes unpunished. Flawed humans do the best they can with limited info and disastrous consequences. 

We highly recommend Burning Bluebeard. The Ruffians truly "get it" and put things into perspective with a quirky melding of humor and horror. It's fine for most ages, though a bit intense for the very young or sensitive. 

Urzendowski's portrayal of 13 year old aerialist, Nellie Reed, who died in her harness flying above the blaze is particularly ballsy, brave and heart wrenching. The entire ensemble does an outstanding, ovation worthy job, and as we've come to expect from Torrence & Kays, the writing and directing is spot on.

The 2014 Reviews Are In...

“This is the most distinctive holiday show in the entire city, showcasing the best in off-Loop design from Dan Broberg, Maggie Fullilove-Nugent, Lizzie Bracken and, especially, the scary sounds of Mike Tutaj. It is a show you won’t quickly forget….” 3-1/2 stars
-Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

“…One of the most daring theatrical experiences of the past decade in Chicago.” RECOMMENDED
-Alex Huntsberger, Newcity

“…A masterpiece of theatrical genius!”
-Suzy Evans, American Theatre
“…Back by popular demand…the production is full of magic, mystery, and wonder. The poetic script by Jay Torrence transforms the awful catastrophe into a beautiful story of atonement and fulfillment. …Sure to captivate audiences with its humor, spirit and razor sharp wit.”
-Krista Krauss, Concierge Preferred

For unforgettable theatre experiences,
check out these special shows!

See the show at the actual time of the fire 111 years ago
Tuesday, December 30, 3pm

Commemorate the 111th anniversary of the infamous fire

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with us

For a complete list of shows visit theaterwit.org

Only 2 weeks left!

Buy your tickets today at theaterwit.org, in person at the Theater Wit Box Office, or by calling 773-975-8150

A Production of The Ruffians

Leah Urzendowski, Nellie Reed
Ryan Walters, Eddie Foy
Anthony Courser, Henry Gilfoil
Pam Chermansky, Fancy Clown
Molly Plunk, Faerie Queen
Jay Torrence, Robert Murray

Move, Train, and Play with
The Ruffians

The Ruffians are a collective of theater artists including clowns, dancers, designers, writers, daredevils, and dream-weavers. Through a unique series of workshops, now you can train in their multi-disciplined process.

January Workshops
Physical Theater
Tuesday, January 13, 7pm-10pm
This workshop is designed to get you creatively thinking on your feet. Come prepared to move!

Tuesday, January 20, 7pm-10pm
This workshop is an introduction to The Ruffian approach to clowning with a specific goal to become your most honest self on stage and how to build on that through play. It will give you a taste of opening awareness to your partner, the audience and the stage. Come prepared to move!

Storytelling and Adaptation
Tuesday, January 27, 7pm–10pm
In this workshop you will begin to understand how to develop an idea into a creative stage picture or performance. Through free-writing, task, and physical object, you will start a working knowledge of putting something “on its feet.” Come prepared to move!

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