Summer Rep 2011 coming in August

Janus Theatre presents its first Summer Rep 2011 series featuring…

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. The Summer Rep 2011 series will open August 4 and run through August 28 and is sponsored in part by the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission and the Palmer Foundation.

Both plays will be presented in rotating repertory, featuring The Importance of Being Earnest on August 4,5,6,7,18,20,26,28 and Twelfth Night on August 11,12,13,14,19,21,25,27 at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division Street, on the eighth floor of the Professional Building.

These two classic comedies get new, intimate productions for this summer’s theatrical season. We’ve produced many classical plays in the last few years and what we learned was that the Elgin Art Showcase adds a great deal of understanding and fun to the works of Shakespeare and other classic writers.

Presenting The Importance of Being Earnest and Twelfth Night in rotating repertory was a natural fit considering both plays deal with mistaken identity that leads to some exciting comedy. For many years, we wanted to see how two plays being performed on alternating nights might complement each other. With these two plays, the characters and the language are wonderful – it should be an excellent series.

The Importance of Being Earnest features Dennis Edwards (West Chicago) as Jack, Corey Noble (Chicago), Lucy Zukaitis (Chicago) as Gwendolen, Jocelyn Adamski (Oak Park) as Cecily, Brain  Rabinowitz (Oak Park) as Lady Bracknell, Patricia True (Chicago) as Miss Prism, Brad Davdison (Mount Prospect). The production will be directed by Terry Domschke (Elgin), stage-managed by Kate Collins (Elgin) with light design by Kelly Herz (Wayne).

Twelfth Night features Ross Frawley (Elgin) as Orsino, Liz Vanderhoof (Chicago) as Viola, Kathleen Donoghue (Chicago) as Oliva, Joe Hoover (Chicago) as Malvolio, Chris Bibby (Hoffman Estates) as Sir Toby, Justin Schaller (Hoffman Estates) as Sir Andrew, Sarafina Vecchio (Elgin) as Maria, Tyler Thompson (Elgin) as Feste, Luke Donia (St. Charles) as Fabian, Corey Noble (Chicago) as Sebastian, Brad Davidson (Mount Prospect) as Antonio, Stetson Cross (Elgin) as Sailor/company, Bradley Brankemper (Naperville) as Valentine/company. The production is directed by Sean Hargadon (Elgin), stage-managed by Kate Collins (Elgin) with light design by Kelly Herz (Wayne).

The Janus Theatre Summer Rep 2011 will be performed at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division Street, 8th Floor of the Professional Building in downtown Elgin on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays 3pm. Tickets are $15 – paid by cash or check at the door. Reservations can be made by calling 847-841-1713. For more information, go to WWW.JANUSTHEATRE.WORDPRESS.COM. Look for Janus Theatre Summer Rep 2011 on Facebook.


Fresh Faces – Walkabout 2011

Walkabout is back again this year.  Janus Theatre will be taking part and bringing on some new faces.

This year’s Walkabout is different because one play – “Art” by Yasmina Reza – will be devided into three acts and then three separate theater companies will perform one act of the play at different downtown Elgin locations, like Villa Verone, Elgin Art Showcase and Ravenheart Cafe.
But what’s interesting about all of this would is that the actors will change from venue to venue, so while the characters will stay the same – Marc, Serge , Yvan – they’ll be played by different people. To further add interest, we decided to have the actors grow younger as the play progressed forward until its climatic comic conclusion.
Janus Theatre will be performing the first act at Villa Verone and feature Chris Bibby, Steve Macarus, and Brian Rabinowitz. For many, this will be a chance to see some new people perform with Janus.
Chris Bibby (Yvan) will be making his Janus debut and performed in last year’s Walkabout. He’s done some acting work throughout the are and is also a playwright and had a stage-reading of his play – Broken Glass – performed at the Elgin Art Showcase back in April.
Brian Rabinowitz (Marc) worked with Janus during the Elgin Short Play Festival and has been performing and directing for years. He brings quite a bit of experience to the play and saw the original production in London when it was first performed.
Steve Marcarus (Serge) has been with Janus since 2003 and has been a regular with the company throughout many productions, including the Brecht Review, Murdering Marlowe, Santaland Diaries and the list goes on. 
We’ve been in rehearals for a few weeks and what these guys bring to the work are layers. Yes, the play is funny. But they bring some real life to the performances, which is really what makes the whole experience interesting.
More on that later.

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

Talking Shop

Last Saturday we did something we haven’t done in a long time. Janus Theatre offered an acting workshop. It was led by co-founder Terry Domschke and featured company members Sarafina Vecchio, Kelly Bolton, Jocelyn Adamski, Lynn Wirth and co-founder Joe Schuman. There were many newcomers, bringing the total count to ten people.


The April Group

For some people, this was their first time working with Terry and Janus, for others it was a reminder about what they love about being a part of the theater world.

It was thrilling to see people make discoveries and take chances in front of strangers. It was refreshing to have this opportunity to work on specific acting issues without having to worry about getting ready to perform an actual show. It was a necessity we’ve ignored for far too long.

Every actor needs training. It doesn’t stop when school gets out. It should be an ongoing process that grows and deepens as the actor ages. This is something we want to be able to offer and plan on continuing in the future. Stay tuned.

Attention Must Be Paid

Last night I was in the mood for a good steak and some classic drama.

So some Janus people and I trekked to down to Wheaton to see All My Sons.

The steak was provided by the Ivy restaurant, where we took in our first al fresco dining experience of the season. The drama was provided by Wheaton Drama.

Both were excellent.

We had heard some wonderful things about the show and when we arrived, the curtain lifted, and we were greeted with an authentic set of the Keller’s backyard, courtesy of Randy Knott. It made me want to go on stage, sit down, and have a glass of tea. If I didn’t know any better, I would say the set was a reminder that spring is coming.

However, All My Sons is not a happy play. It’s a play about responsibility that still has the ability to move an audience and make sense in our ever present consumer culture. The details of the story can be found online, so I will avoid delving into that here, but one thing that sticks out is the fine acting and directing on display currently in Wheaton.

Catie Early

We came out in part to support Catie Early (playing Ann Deever), who’s a Janus Theatre Company member, and has appeared in many shows with us in recent years.

We also looked forward to seeing Larry Boller play Jo Keller, Annie Slivinski play Kate Keller, and Marge Uhlarik, who directed the play.

But from top to bottom, the cast in this production was strong. The evening flew by, and from the beginning we were gripped by the story. The people at Wheaton Drama should be commended.

This type of work should be seen by everyone who can attend. Classic dramas get short-shrift in Chicago’s western suburbs. Too often what you see is another well-worn comedy or musical. But last night, we had the chance to witness some history and walk away feeling better for it.

I know, I know, there is enough tragedy in the world, why should you go out and pay for it? I’ll tell you why. Because when you see a play like this it stays with you; reminding you why you get up everyday and how theater gives you and me a chance to feel and be moved by the words on the page being brought to life by artists who care enough to sacrifice their souls on stage.

Go see it. Attention must be paid.