Musical Drama Old Wicked Songs from Signal Ensemble Theatre
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The last date listed for Old Wicked Songs was Saturday December 29, 2007 / 8:00pm.
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Besides the man himself, no one knows the exact topic of Christopher Durang's first play, which he… More
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Featured review from Evan Ellman
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This was an excellently acted and intelligently written two-man play. It needed to be edited, though, and the second act dragged. Also, the play began with a theme that was interesting, i.e. that in order to become a good accompanist on the piano, one has to learn exactly what the singer is doing, and how to tap into one's own heart to become a more sensitive musician. If tapping into his heart was accomplished via the exploration of the anti=Semitism theme, it wasn't that clear, and seemed like a somewhat unrelated theme suddently appeared and was a parallel, second theme rather than related to the first theme. Both actors did a great job, however.
Old Wicked Songs depicts a clash of cultures and attitudes as a brash American piano prodigy travels to Vienna to combat an artistic block that threatens his career. A technically brilliant performer, he studies with a passionate master teacher who is battling his own demons. The music of Robert Schumann weaves throughout and binds these men together, melting the stubbornness and denial that surrounds them.
Written by Jon Marans
Directed by Christopher Prentice
Cast: Vincent L. Lonergan (Professor Josef Mashkan) and Shawn Pfautsch (Stephen Hoffman)
Jon Marans (author): Marans’ play Old Wicked Songs was a 1996 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama, winner of the L.A. Drama Logue Award, and included in Otis Guernsey’s Best Plays of 1996-97. It was first presented by the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, then in New York by Daryl Roth at Playhouse 91, subsequently moving to the Promenade Theater. In England, Old Wicked Songs started at the Bristol Old Vic, then transferred to London’s West End at the Gielgud Theater, and starred Bob Hoskins and James Callis. The play has been translated and produced in a dozen countries around the world and was the second most performed new play in the United States in the 1997-98 season. Other produced shows include: a musical based on Studs Terkel’s Coming of Age entitled Legacy of the Dragonslayers (book by Marans) at San Jose Repertory Theatre; Jumping for Joy at the Laguna Playhouse and Independent Theater in Australia, the musical Irrationals (book and lyrics by Marans) at the Village Theater in Seattle and in NYC; A Strange & Separate People at the Penguin Rep in N.Y. In film, Marans was a story editor/script doctor for Stonebridge, Michael Douglas’ production company at Columbia Pictures, instrumental in the development of numerous films. In TV, he was a staff writer/lyricist for the 1991 “New Carol Burnett Show” on CBS and has written for “Cookin’ in Brooklyn,” a “comedy-reality” show on the Discovery Channel.
Christopher Prentice (director): Signal ensemble member and producing artistic director Prentice made his Chicago directorial debut with Conor McPherson’s The Weir (three Jeff Citation nominations) last season. His work as an actor for the company includes the title role in Hamlet, The Zoo Story, She Stoops to Conquer, Waiting for Godot, Landslide, Catch-22 and Much Ado About Nothing. He was most recently seen in the title role in Robin Hood with the Oak Park Festival Theatre. His Chicago credits include The Three Musketeers (Chicago Shakespeare); The Tempest (First Folio); Practical Anatomy (Sansculottes); Pride and Prejudice (Northlight); the title roles in _Hamlet _(Velvet Willies) and _Macbeth _(Chase Park); as well as work with Stage Left, Irish Rep, Next, and New Leaf. Regional credits include Milwaukee Rep, American Players Theatre, Dallas Theater Center and Illinois Shakespeare Festival.
Vincent L. Lonergan (actor): Ensemble member Lonergan’s Signal credits include Polonius in Hamlet, Mr. Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer and Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing. Other Chicago credits include Merlin in The People’s Sword in the Stone (Quest Theatre); A Wonderful Life (Porchlight); Mother Courage and Her Children, Anna Karenina, King Lear (Vitalist Theatre); The People’s Pinocchio (Quest Theatre); Any One Can Whistle (Pegasus); The Christmas Schooner (Bailiwick); City of Angels (onetheatre), _Firebugs _(Boxer Rebellion); Don Juan in Chicago, Empress of China, Jacques and His Master, and Shadow Box (TinFish); A Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Christmas Carol (Metropolis). He understudied the role of Robert Wilson in Victory Gardens’ production of Free Man of Color.
Shawn Pfautsch (actor): Pfautsch makes his Signal debut. A co-founder of The House Theatre of Chicago, he has appeared in Hope Springs Infernal, The Boy Detective Fails, the Valentine trilogy, Dave DaVinci Saves the Universe, Cave With Man, The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan and Death & Harry Houdini. As a playwright, his play Hatfield & McCoy won two Jeff Citation nominations and his new play The Attempters will open at The House this season. Pfautsch has also performed at Emerald City Children’s Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre (Theatrical Essays) and Strawdog Theatre Company (Strawdog Radio Theatre VI).
About the Ticket Supplier: Signal Ensemble Theatre
Signal Ensemble Theatre uses a deeply collaborative method to produce work never-before-seen in Chicago. Founded by its three artistic directors, the company began producing in 2003.