Category Archives: opening night

One Two Punch – Twelfth Night Finishes Opening Weekend

We had Wilde. Then we had Shakespeare.

We just finished the opening weekend to Twelfth Night by Shakespeare and everything went fantastic. The actors, set, lighting and sound all came together for a memorable weekend.

Following the strong performances of The Importance of Being Earnest during the first week, this was a wonderful opportunity to add to the acting chops already on display during our Rep series at the Elgin Art Showcase.

What can I say? This is one strong acting company. From the leads to the supporting roles, everyone has shined throughout the process and delivered some wonderful work. Now both shows will start alternating nights, which is where the real fun begins. But first, we need an audience.

That’s right. I said it. Audience. Sure, we’ve had people come out and see the work, but when you start seeing more empty chairs than people, it starts to wear on you.

Sometimes I am surprised to find that the arts destination that is Elgin is regrettably lacking in support of the artists. Sure, this is a longer run than one weekend and we know that the classics are not everyone’s cup of tea, but still, attention should be paid when a modest theater company tackles something so large.

Well, westward ho, as the saying goes. Here are some pics from Twelfth Night, courtesy of John Congram.  Makes you want to call the Box Office right now – 847-841-1713. Doesn’t it?

Chris Bibby as Sir Toby and Justin Schaller as Sir Andrew

 

Liz Vanderhoof as Viola

Joe Hoover as Malvolio

 

Ross Patrick Frawley as Orsino

 

Kate Donoghue as Olivia and Tyler Thompson as Feste

 
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Janus Theatre Opens Rep with “Earnest”

Well, one down and another to go.

We opened The Importance of Being Earnest on Thursday and everything went very well.  We had a nice size house and the actors did a fine job playing live for the first time in front of an audience.

The show will continue tonight and tomorrow and then take a week off for Twelfth Night to open. After that, both shows run in tandem on alternate nights, so stay tuned.

Here are some production photos from Earnest.

Dennis Edwards as Jack and Lucy Zukaitis as Gwendolen

 

Joceyln Adamski as Cecily with Edwards and Zukaitis

 
 

Corey Noble as Algernon, Jocelyn Adamski, Dennis Edwards, Lucy Zukaitis and Brian Rabinowitz as Lady Bracknell

 

 

All In The Timing

Tomorrow night we open the second-annual Elgin Short Play Festival at the Elgin Art Showcase. Tech week as gone well and everyone is ready for an audience. Here’s a photo sample of some of the shows, courtesy of John Congram.

Kelly Bolton in The Universal Language

 

Luke Donia in A Singular Kinda Guy

 

The cast in Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread

 

Ann Marie Nordby in Speed The Play

 

Going From Dark To Light

This Thursday the Elgin Short Play Festival will begin its second year. In many ways it will be a departure from previous Janus productions.

This year we’re cracking a smile.  

You see, the last few seasons we’ve produced a steady diet of what some people might call “heavy drama” or plays that leave you feeling a bit cathartic. It started in 2009 when produced Oedipus Rex, Miss Julie, Romeo & Juliet and then continued in 2010 with Macbeth, The Guys, and the short plays of Theresa Rebeck. Sure Rebeck’s plays were funny, but they were also pretty dark.

So for 2011 the sun will be coming out – in full force. It starts with this week’s short comedies from David Ives – a master wordsmith, who loves to turn the world of a play upside down. 

Janus is no stranger to Ives. This is our third encounter with the master’s work. Every time we produce his plays, something new is discovered. And these plays are a perfect start to the summer season.

Following Mr. Ives, we’ll be producing our first summer rep series when we present two classic comedies in August – The Importance of Being Earnest and Twelfth Night. Good times. 

So you may be asking, why the change? Where’s the vengeance of Medea or the melancholy meanderings of Hamlet or the fiery defiance of Antigone?

Well, like any good meal, you need to have an appetizer before the main course. And frankly, the last few years have been nothing but large meals full of starch. I sure do love a wonderful Fettuccini Alfredo (with a side of crusty bread), but sometimes you just want some cheese and crackers and a glass of Sangria. Or maybe just the Sangria.

Page To Stage Another Play

Here’s a nice piece by Daily Herald writer Jaime Greco about the latest installment from the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission Page To Stage series, featuring a stage reading of a new play – Broken Glass – by Chris Bibby.

This is the first play written Bibby and it features Janus members Catie Early, Sean Hargadon, Lori Holm and Steve Macarus. Should be an interesting weekend filled with lively discussion. The event is free. Check out the story below.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001 caused people to consider many things; Christopher Bibby, author of the play “Broken Glass,” was no different.

“I started studying the events which had political motivations, but at the time I was looking at the religious underpinnings and the fact that we have so many minorities in the U.S.,” Bibby said. “And I began to wonder if people with fundamentally different religious views could ever live in peace, or is it inevitable that we destroy each other?”

The Hoffman Estates resident chose to examine these questions through the lens of another horrific chapter of world history: the Holocaust. “I wanted to write a play about the small decisions that happened before the Holocaust,” he said. “I wanted to write about how did we get here. Why did it happen?”

“I just got to thinking, these were people like me and you, how could they do this?”

The play examines the relationship between two friends — Martin Hottl, a Catholic cobbler and Jozef Pac’zynski, a Jewish shopkeeper — during the time of Kristallnacht, the titular beginning of the Nazi’s campaign against the Jews.

“Kristallnacht,” which means Night of Broken Glass, took place in Nazi Germany and parts of Austria in 1938 when SS Storm troopers and civilian mobs attacked Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues with sledgehammers, causing the streets to be full of broken glass.

As director, Robert Pahl was responsible for casting all of the roles, a task he was more than prepared to carry out.

“I’ve been in theater in this town for a long time, so I’m familiar with the talent pool here,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have access to some of the better actors around.”

Pahl chose Sean Patrick Hargadon to bring the Catholic Cobbler to life; an actor well known in the Elgin Theater community, especially with Janus Theatre Company, where he acts and directs on a regular basis.

As for The Jewish shopkeeper, Pahl chose Steve Macarus, another familiar face to Elgin theatergoers, although Macarus is known more for his comedic work, according to Pahl.

“I’m interested to see what he will do,” he said.

Hottl and Pac’zynski were not just characters woven from his imagination, Bibby said. They were based on his relationship with a friend who holds very different views on life.

“It started based upon a friend and I (who) would have theological discussions,” Bibby said.

The talks began in the spirit of an open-minded exchange of ideas, but that premise degenerated and the friends needed to address whether their relationship could continue.

“I found that the more we talked, the less we could talk about,” said Bibby. At one point, they reached an impasse.

“We worked past that, by avoiding certain topics, I’m afraid,” he said.

“Broken Glass” will be the first full-length play Bibby has seen produced and will be free to the public as part of the Page to Stage series sponsored by sponsored by the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, Elgin Art Showcase, and city of Elgin.

As with all of the Page to Stage shows, the works are approached with little to no production. The actors will read from the script onstage and interpret it dramatically.

“The actors have long passages memorized,” said Pahl. Aside from the format’s affordability, the production style gives new authors a chance to see their plays produced, while giving audiences the chance to participate in the development of a new play through question and answer sessions after the show.

Bibby is excited to see his play through the eyes of the director, actors and audience, especially in the low-key format.

“I liked that (‘Broken Glass’) was about personal decisions,” Pahl said. “It wasn’t this big miniseries or movie about the Holocaust.”

“It’s about incremental decisions, how it sneaks up on you and you find yourself in the middle of something horrible.”

Cast members include Lori Holm of Batavia; Catie Early of East Dundee; Sean Hargadon, Steve Macarus and Miranda Savel of Elgin; Dylan Martin of Geneva; Tony Farruggio of Lisle and Patrick Pantelis of Palatine.

The free shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30, as well as 1 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St., eighth floor. A reception and question-and-answer session with Bibby, Pahl and the cast will follow each show at Villa Verone, 13 Douglas Ave., Elgin.

To learn more about Page To Stage and the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, visit cityofelgin.org.

A Good Cause

Janus Theatre company member, Patricia True, is producing a show tonight.
 
Patricia or “Trish” as we like to call her has participated in the Chicago Heart Walk for the last seven years in memory of her Mother, who passed away from heart disease. This year she wanted to do something fun and unique by adding an element humor to the whole idea.  

Patricia True

So she created Laughing Hearts Comedy Night to present an evening of sketch comedy at Stage 773, located at 1225 West Belmont Avenue in Chicago. All proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association. It’s happening tonight, March 9.

She’s gathered an impressive lineup of sketch groups performing for the evening that includes Best Church of God, Henrietta Pussycat, The Union, The Tim & Micah Project and Off Off Broadzway Project, which features another Janus Theatre company member Kelly Bolton, and is reason enough to come and see this show.

There will be a reception and silent auction after the show. And let me tell you, Trish has really done a fantastic job getting some wonderful gifts donated for the event. They range from a vacation stay in Lake Geneva, a sit in with WGN personality John Williams, classes at top acting and comedy schools, restaurant gift certificates, portrait sessions, gift cards, artisan items, tickets to the Janus Theatre, and much more.

Doors open at 6:30pm tonight and the performance begins at 7:30pm. Ticket prices are $25 per person (well worth it). And reservations can be made by emailing rsvp@laughingheartscomedynight.com. Additional donations will be accepted at the event.

More information can be found at www.laughingheartscomedynight.com, along with a list of donated items for the auction. You can also call or email Trish at 773-758-5044 or emailing her at prtrue@aol.com.

BocaJump Gives Macbeth A Bump

We received another excellent account of last week’s opening of Macbeth.

BocaJump columnist Deirdre Higgins-White attended the play and had this to say about it.

Two Truths Are Told

By Deirdre Higgins-White
BocaJump columnist

The Weird Sisters…No, I am not talking about my siblings. I am talking about characters from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. And Janus Theatre’s adaptation of Macbeth is undeniably entertaining! My friend Rose and I went to the opening night of Macbeth, and we had the same thought…Under Sean Hargadon’s direction, Andy Murschel’s lighting design, and Kate Collins’ stage management, Macbeth came alive!

Add to that the fight and movement choreography of John Tovar and Dawn Arnold, respectively, and then toss in the impressive acting of Adam Schulmerich as Macbeth, Sarafina Vecchio as Lady Macbeth and the superb performances by Laurie Faith Gibson-Aiello, Dan Hogan, Tony Aiello, Luke Donia, Robert McConnell, Angela Bend and Caleb Donat , this version of Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy did a fine job at communicating the elements of the play such as the supernatural dimension, the struggle for power, and the paranoia, rage, greed and madness of it all!

You may be asking yourself right now, “Double, double, toil and trouble – How do I see this Macbeth?” Well, Janus Theatre’s Macbeth takes place at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division, 8th Floor, Elgin, IL. Have you been there? Great space…but when Rose and I walked in, we were a bit curious about the theatre set-up. It was not theatre in the round, but theatre in the parallelogram! This fine theatre space was truly transformed into the ultimate in intimate seating, so much so, that at times, you actually felt as if you were one with the play.

In one of the opening scenes, the Weird Sisters, somewhat sinister witch-like characters with their faces covered in a wickedly golden half mask with a jagged edge, delivered the prophecy to Macbeth that he would soon be King of Scotland. We could almost feel the hiss of the Sisters as they delivered their message to Macbeth, and then we wondered…How could this be? Will this happen? Does Macbeth rise to power and live happily ever after with Lady Macbeth? I say, see this adaptation for yourself. From the get-go, Rose and I were captivated by the story and were on the edge of our seats wondering what would happen next.

Let’s see – This play was written around 1604 – give or take a few years; however, Hargadon has transformed his version into a modern dress production with little help in the way of props or special effects to deliver the passion of the play. However, the direction and lighting were so spot-on and the acting so compelling, you are able to see in your mind’s eye, the [Scottish] moor, the kingdom and feel the emotions that were pouring out of the characters. It also has a run-time of 70 minutes, which is good for me – short attention span. But with this play, when it was over, I wanted more!

So…Two truths are told. One, William Shakespeare‟s Macbeth, as delivered to you by Janus Theatre and director, Sean Hargadon is a must-see trad-ge-dy! Two, you can see Macbeth at the Elgin Art Showcase, tonight, tomorrow night and the next night (11/11-13, 2010) at 8pm and Sunday, (11/14/2010) at 7pm. Tickets are only $15 and can be reserved by calling the box office at 847-841-1713 and for more information, you can also visit janustheatre.wordpress.com. And in case you are interested in learning more about Shakespeare’s language – Janus can deliver that, too. Check out the workshops available on their website or while you are reserving your Macbeth tix, you can reserve a spot in the workshops, too! Truths are told!