Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Act Out: The North Plan at Theater Wit (review) #Give Away

(from left) Kate Buddeke is small town redneck Tanya Shepke, Kevin Stark plays wrongly imprisoned U.S. State Department bureaucrat Carlton Berg, reluctantly guarded by Shonda, played by Lucy Sandy, in Theater Wit’s The North Plan by Jason Wells, directed by Kimberly Senior, playing now through Apr. 1, 2012 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Tickets: theaterwit.org or 773.975.8150. Photo by Liz Lauren.



On Kevin Stark's actual birthday this year, he was wrongfully imprisoned, beaten, tortured with an electric prod, and ultimately shot...then serenaded in the lobby with chocolate cake and champagne.   Where else could this dichotomy exist but the fabulous Theater Wit?!   Yes, opening night of The North Plan was off with a bang and a birthday.   We had the great pleasure of checking out opening night and now we're stoked to be giving away a pair of tixs to one lucky teen.   

The revolution will not be televised, but it will end up on stage!   From now through April fools day, no foolin', you can check out this action packed, dark comedy.   Kate Buddeke steals the show as accidental anarchist, Tanya Shepke.   Every time I think Theatre Wit's creativity has peaked, they manage to surprise and delight.   I was amused by the press kits--manila envelopes stamped TOP SECRET and Classified, and far more impressed with the show.   Despite the bloody subject matter, the audience was laughing enthusiastically by final curtain call.   The dialogue and plot were simultaneously thought provoking and deeply funny.   Casting was spot on.   Highly recommended for older teens & adults.


**UNDER 21?   We're giving away a pair of tickets to a lucky teen, this week.   Enter like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often and spread the word.  This one's short n sweet.   Enter through midnight this Wednesday.   Winner gets 2 tickets for The North Plan Saturday, March 10th, including pre show snacks at 7pm and a pizza party to follow!**

Theater Wit is reaching out to Chicago’s teens and crafting some unique experiences around The North Plan and their upcoming production of Tigers be Still. These evenings are designed to provide a forum for young adults to gather, exchange views, and meet the artists and each other.
For Jason Wells’ The North Plan  Theater Wit is making a special night for teens.  On Saturday, March 10, Wit will open its doors at 7 pm and have a pre-show reception that will have snacks and drinks before the 8 pm show.  After the show teens are invited to stay for pizza and a talk back with the actors. The tickets are just $15.  Just use the code word TEEN when reserving a ticket online or via phone. 

*Wait for Rafflecopter to load up right here (if you've gone through RSS feed or are scrolling down the blog and don't see it, click on the actual page title and it should pop right up).   Entries are easy.   Winning rocks!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Hot on the heels of such critically acclaimed home runs as Disgraced at American Theater Company and Old Times at Strawdog Theatre, Chicago director Kimberly Senior is helming yet another gutsy production on a Chicago storefront stage, the local premiere of Jason Wells’ The North Plan.

Called “the most promising and provocative of the stimulating, three-play First Look Repertory of New Work at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company” by the Chicago Tribune when it debuted in 2010, Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, is now looking forward to giving The North Plan its first full, professional staging, Feb. 23–Apr. 1, 2012.

What would ordinary Americans do if the U.S. government fell into tyranny? Jason Wells' newest comedy is a genius mashup between All the President's Men and a Quentin Tarantino flick. In a rural Missouri police station, federal bureaucrat Carlton Berg is harboring the enemies list that can undermine a ruthless cabal currently taking over the U.S. government. Unfortunately, he's in jail. Carlton’s only hope is Tanya Shepke, an A.D.D.-afflicted, motor-mouthed redneck, and truly one of the great dramatic creations of our decade. With DHS on the way, can Carlton can convince Tanya that the U.S. government must be overthrown and not to put Lynyrd Skynyrd on the new money?

Senior makes her Theater Wit debut with The North Plan, which she also staged for Steppenwolf’s First Look series.  Wit’s cast features Kate Buddeke as Tanya, Tom Hickey as Pittman, Brian King as Lee, Lucy Sandy as Shonda, Kevin Stark as Carlton and Will Zahrn as Chief Swenson.  Hickey, King and Zahrn were also part of the original First Look cast.  Designers are Jack Magaw (set), Scott Pillsbury (lights), Rick Sims (sound), Elizabeth Flauto (costumes), Jenny Pinson (props) and Chris Rickett (fight choreographer).
Performances run through Apr. 1: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. Performances are $18-$36. Running time is 90 minutes with intermission.

Theater Wit is located at 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. For tickets or information, visit TheaterWit.org or call 773.975.8150.  Be sure to ask about the Theater Wit Member Pass, Chicago’s only Netflix-like, live theater membership program. Enjoy as many plays as you want on any of Theater Wit’s three stages, year round, for one low monthly fee of $36 ($30 for students).

Who’s on the List:  The North Plan

Jason Wells’ first play, Men of Tortuga, had a critically-acclaimed debut at Steppenwolf Theatre’s First Look Repertory of New Work, went on to a successful run at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, and has had numerous subsequent productions in the US and Ireland. Wells’ second play, Perfect Mendacity, was a commission from Manhattan Theatre Club and the Sloan Foundation. Like Tortuga, it debuted at Steppenwolf and went on to its official world premiere at the Asolo. In 2010, it won the American Theatre Critics Association’s M. Elizabeth Osborn Award, and was a finalist for the Steinberg/New Play Award. Both Men of Tortuga and Perfect Mendacity are published by Samuel French, Inc. The North Plan debuted in 2010 at First Look, and received its world premiere at Portland Center Stage this January. Wells is also an actor with numerous TV, film and stage credits.

Kimberly Senior (director) just finished staging American Theater Company’s current hit world premiere of Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced, hailed as “fast-paced and laudably fearless” by the Chicago Tribune, and Old Times earlier this season at Strawdog Theatre, “a terrific piece of directing,” also by Tribune theater critic Chris Jones. Her other credits at Strawdog include The Conquest of the South Pole, Uncle Vanya, Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters, Fuddy Meers and Knives in Hens, and elsewhere: Waiting for Lefty (American Blues Theater), The North Plan (Steppenwolf’s 2010 First Look Series), Madagascar, The Overwhelming and The Busy World is Hushed (Next Theatre Company), Bad Dates and Mouse Cop (Fox Valley Repertory), Bug and The Pillowman (Redtwist Theatre), Thieves Like Us (The House Theatre), and All My Sons and Dolly West’s Kitchen (TimeLine Theatre). Regional credits include Mauritius (Theatre Squared, Fayetteville, AR) and A Few Good Men (Peninsula Players).  Senior is an Artistic Associate at Next Theatre, Strawdog Theatre and Chicago Dramatists. She is on the faculty of Columbia College Chicago (2010 Excellence in Teaching Award Winner), DePaul University and University of Chicago. Senior is a proud member of SDC. Soon after directing The North Plan at Theater Wit, Senior will return to Next Theatre to stage Amy Herzog’s After the Revolution, Apr. 5-May 13. For more information visit kimberlysenior.net

Chicago favorite Kate Buddeke (Tanya Shepke) is making her Theater Wit debut in The North Plan. She appeared on Broadway in Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts, and in the original 2008 production at Steppenwolf. Other Broadway credits include: Gypsy, A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, and Carousel.  Off-Broadway credits include:  Paris Commune, Bug and Mill Fire.  She won an “Audience Choice Award” for Frankie & Johnny in the Clare du Lune (Arena Stage, D.C.) She is an ensemble member at American Blues Theater, where she was Co-Artistic Director with Carmen Roman from 1993-1994.  She performed in American Blues’ productions of Rantoul and Die, Tobacco Road, Augusta, Quake, The Mineola Twins, Toys in the Attic, Keely and Du, Peacekeeper and Bad Moon, and directed the company’s productions of Ripped the Living Newspaper Project and Monsters II: Visiting Hours.  Elsewhere in Chicago, she’s worked at the Goodman, A Red Orchid, Apple Tree, Marriott, Chicago Shakespeare and Bailiwick. She is the recipient of 4 Joseph Jefferson Awards (David’s Mother, Dancing at Lughnasa, Ourselves Alone, Gypsy). She also received two Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for Actress (Bug, Keely & Du) and a Helen Hayes nomination for Supporting Actress (Dancing at Lughnasa).

Next on the List:  Tigers Be Still by Kim Rosenstock

Following The North Plan, the Chicago premiere of Kim Rosenstock’s Tigers Be Still, a savagely funny dark comedy about a young woman who stops being a total disaster and gets her life back on track, directed by Jeremy Wechsler, completes Theater Wit’s 2011-12 season, Apr. 24-May 27, 2012. 

In addition to presenting its own three play season in 2011-2012, Theater Wit is completely booked through June 2012 with an incredibly eclectic slate of new plays and musicals by Chicago’s most popular and accomplished off-Loop theater companies.

Resident companies presenting their full 2011-12 seasons at Theater Wit are Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, New Millennium Theatre Company and Stage Left Theatre. Visiting companies in 2011-12 include BONEdance, Griffin Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Route 66 Theatre Company, Salomee Speelt, Sideshow Theatre, Strange Tree Theatre Group, Theater Mir and TimeLine Theatre Company.

Get on the List:  Become a Member

To encourage cross-pollination among Theater Wit productions and those presented by its resident and visiting companies, Theater Wit now offers Chicago’s first Netflix-like membership program at a live theater multiplex. With a Theater Wit Membership, you can see as many plays as you want at Theater Wit, year round, for one low monthly fee of $36 ($30 for students). Using your unique member ID, you can reserve a seat at any production in the facility, either in advance or just drop by on impulse.  Attend as many different shows as you want each month. Come once, twice or five times a week at no additional charge. Come back to the same production for free as many times as you wish, based on day of availability. And get this:  members of Theater Wit are also welcome to bring a friend twice a season for free. 

In addition to its new “all the theater you can eat” Membership Program, Theater Wit also offers a Flex Pass to similarly encourage cross pollination between its own productions, and those presented by its resident and guest companies.  A Theater Wit Flex Pass offers 10 admissions for $200 to literally anything presented in the building, a savings of up to 40%. 

To purchase a Membership Program, Flex Pass, single tickets or for information about all 2011-2012 productions at Theater Wit, call 773.975.8150 or visit TheaterWit.org.

About Theater Wit

“A thrilling addition to Chicago’s roster of theaters” (Chicago Tribune) and “a terrific place to see a show” (New City), the new Theater Wit is entering its second season in its newly renovated home at 1229 W. Belmont Avenue in Chicago.  

Theater Wit inaugurated its brand new, $1.3 million venue in the former home of the Bailiwick Arts Centre in June 2010. The new Theater Wit boasts three intimate 99-seat performance spaces – the only theater in Chicago with such a configuration – plus a new box office, administrative offices, a beer, wine, spirits and coffee bar, and a cool, casual lobby.

Founded in 2004, Theater Wit’s mission is to explore contemporary issues with wit and wisdom through new works and Chicago premieres.  For complete information, visit TheaterWit.org.

1 comment:

  1. Umm, I think I entered for Aviv (we've only got one computer and I'm the one logged in, hence my entering for Aviv) but I'm not dead sure. I hope I did it right! His 15 year old cousin is in town on Saturday and I'd love to send both boys to this show.