Unlocking Chicago’s Secret Spot: Untitled Supper Club

IMG_2627Behind the black door, Chef Ryan Pugh’s award-winning cuisine is waiting. Upon entering, guests are swept back in time as if awakening in a 1920’s speakeasy. The plush sofas, brightly-lit backsplash and eclectic wall art sets the mood.

IMG_2611Tuesdays uncork half-price bottle night that complements the $35 prix fixe option. Diners fortunate to have Samantha (Sam) as their server are in for a tasty experience. Sam can provide wine pairings that will ensure a delectable evening.

IMG_2607Start the night with a Burrata and Prosciutto appetizer. The combination of creamy burrata, ripe plums, aged balsamic and crusty ciabatta is a satisfying first course. Moving your way through the menu, the Grilled Beef Tenderloin with roasted mushrooms, fried rosemary and rye croutons is embellished with caraway jus. Take the time to dip the tender beef into the jus to enhance the tasting.

Save room for dessert and the chef’s signature cheesecake with passion fruit ice cream, mango and toasted almonds.  Delivering a sweet and sour serving, it’s the perfect bite to end the night.

The fantastical dining experience continues for private parties, special events and themed evenings. Saunter downstairs for theatrical performances or to celebrate special engagements. Reserve your spot at the Untitled Supper Club to entitle an entertaining evening.

“Shirley and Me” revolves around life versus art at Planet Connections Theatre Festivity

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The Clemente (107 Suffolk St.) sets the stage for “Shirley and Me.” Written and performed by Jan Wallace, the one-woman show has audiences laughing while wiping away their tears. Performed as part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, the piece raises money for the National Brain Tumor Society.

3Wallace takes on Willy Russell’s strong-willed “Shirley Valentine” and as she confronts Valentine’s shortcomings and triumphs she’s mirroring her own.  “Shirley and Me” plays the Latea Theater until July 7th so “shirley” don’t miss your chance to see Wallace’s heartfelt performance.

Photo credit: Sara Solo Press

BRP is back and IRTE’s big, rich and powerful production!

BRPII-landscape-postcardThe Producers’ Club  (358 West 44th St.) rolls out the red carpet for BRP’s second season. The rich are richer, the laughter is bigger and audiences are the winners.

The award-wining improv troupe ensembles Robert Baumgardner (Director), Bill Berg, Nannette Deasy (Artistic Director), Curt Dixon and Jamie Maloney with impromptu performances by Michael Hauschild and Sam Katz delivering a scheming group of rich fits. Guests will love to hate the snobbish socialites and the quick-witted improv team, provide side-splitting antics.

Serving up a musical interlude, Craig Greenberg returns to the Producers Club and the piano is key to setting the tone for the rest of the night. Greenberg spotlights Friends with Benefits, Aberdeen and All the Pretty Things. Ending his set with a sing along, guests ready themselves for the next portion of Big, Rich and Powerful.

Will the schemers get their just rewards and or will villainy prevail? BRP II commands the Prince’s stage until June 24th so reserve your spot before the curtain closes on IRTE’s season.BRPII-postcard-WEB

Photos credits: IRTE

P.O.W. Captures and Confronts the Past

1American Theatre of Actors soldiers in the tale of Sidney Pollack (Ken Coughlin) whose Vietnam service is called into question after a college reading. In order to advance her career, Amanda Howell (Victoria Christi) deems Pollack’s actions unethical, threatening his job and freedom.

2Facing trumped-up charges regarding his conduct, a previously deemed mercy killing is now murder. Were his actions justified or as a commanding officer, did he kill his platoon member?

3Amorously awaiting Amanda’s love, Robert Gordon (Anthony J. Gallo) throws Greenfield’s book at Pollack in order to score time with Howell. A battle ensues as Pollack is court-martialed and has to defend his life. Bridging the past with the present, Sidney and his wife, Louise (Amy Losi) must challenge the court or risk becoming prisoners of the system.

4When their delinquent son, Murry (Harrison Benjamin) sets his guns on destroying his father, will the family survive? Under Laurie Rae Waugh’s direction, the Sargent Theatre commands a thought-provoking production. P.O.W.’s flag remains at full mast until June 18, 2017 so don’t miss your chance to be captured by the show’s spirit.

“Kennedy’s Children” produces the unrest of the ‘60s merged with modern strife.

Cast of Kennedy's Children 7After Kennedy’s assassination, the country was left whirling and in desolation. Under the semblance of moving on, the characters depict their world into pre and post-existence.

Wanda’s (Nicole Greevy) world was turned upside down and she felt compelled to change her life in order to make the world a better place. Emily Battles as the bartender serves up drinks, character sketches and delivers sage advice to her patrons. Colin Chapin as Sparger has a large-than-life persona that has his audience shaking their heads at his antics. As the layers are peeled away, a broken soul emerges that’s crying out for connection to this new reality.

Mark (Timothy Regan) illustrates isolation mixed with confusion as he corresponds with his mother about his war memories. At times, he brigades himself with his comrades while others, he shies away from his war-torn survival in an attempt to regain a sliver of his former self. While Rona (Sara Minisquero) is initially perceived as an aging flower child/ hippie, she provides a first-hand account of youth trying to find a way to understand the world around them. Last but not least, Jessica Carollo as Carla rounds out the crew personifying a Marilyn Monroe bombshell whose sense of self was molded by the starlet. As the golden age slips away, the harsh reality emerges and the industry’s “Monkey Business” is revealed.

Cast of Kennedy's Children 4Under Erin Solér’s direction, Robert Patrick’s play comes to life paralleling the ’60s with today’s turmoil Will love prevail or will the times ensure that we must repeat our mistakes? The Regeneration Theatre hosts the thought-provoking show and ties the past to the present generation.

Photo credit: Regeneration Theatre

“Let Me Entertain You, Again” Proves “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” in June.

Don’t Tell Mama set the stage for Lane Bradbury, Broadway’s original “Dainty June” to entertain audiences. The intimate venue was enhanced by Joe Goodrich’s accompaniment and Doug DeVita’s writing, expertly weaving Bradbury’s past to complement the score.

The set list included songs from Henri Betti/ Andre Hornez, Cole Porter. Stephen Sondheim/ Jule Styne, Cole Porter and Stephen Schwartz/ Frederic Lowe. Under Elkin Antoniou’s direction, guests were brought back in time where Ethel Merman stormed the stage and Lane was an ingenue, making her first Broadway foray.

Sprinkling in humorous stories from the stage and screen, Bradbury dazzles audiences with her sunny disposition, endearing smile and enduring talent. For “Some People” who missed June 7th’s performance, there’s a final one on June 29th. While “Dainty June” has hung up her batons, Lane Bradbury steps into the limelight, showcasing that it’s Lane’s turn.

Photo credit: Cabaret Life Productions

 

Shakespeare’s Richard III tempests the John Cullum Theatre and delivers a powerful production.

Richard IIIThe American Theatre of Actors presented an unabridged account of Shakespeare’s Richard III. The talented troupe of actors delivered heartfelt performances, displayed comedic timing and brought patrons into the tale.

Thomas Leverton’s beguiling depiction of Richard III had audience members rooting for the villain until his madness proved destructive. Under James Jennings’ direction, the cast created a Shakespearean world where Leah Bloom, Sandra M. Bloom, Justin Clark, Eli Cox, Jane Culley, Marie Bridget Dundon, Yasemin Eti, William Greville, Alex Jaloza, Martin Maldonado, Lucy McKown, Uriel Menson, Adam Pine, David Remple, Stephen F. Smith, Richard Stelnik, Stephen Wagner and Jack Wink played to their audience.

Taking on the Bard, requires a love of his work and the performers delivered measure for measure. The cast provided humorous quips amidst the characters’ tragic defeats. Blending comedy and tragedy, the American Theatre of Actors delivered a royal performance.

IRTE’s Avoidance improvs not hinders the production

Photo Evie Aronson, L-R Michael Hauschild, Nannette Deasy, Curt Dixon, Robert Baumgardner, Tym MossAvoidance isn’t a problem for IRTE as the award-winning improvisational group gives its all at each performance. The Producers Club’s Crown stage rolled out the red carpet for contestants to confront their demons for a chance to win the grand prize.

Skillfully mastering the curveballs the audience pitched at them, the cast played a game where the winning introvert would procure his/her own isolated island. The extroverts did their best to draw their constrained counterparts out of their shell while cavorting with Tym Moss to show the introverts what they are missing.

Under Marc Adam Smith’s direction, Getchie Argetsinger, Robert Baumgardner, William Berg, Nannette Deasy, Curt Dixon, Mike Hauschild and Jamie Maloney take on the audience’s challenging circumstances while delivering their own spin on the situation.

You’ve pressed your luck and missed the final Avoidance! performance but the only losers are those not taking advantage of an upcoming show.

Photo credits: IRTE

Gruppo Italiano (GI) pairs with Sannio Consorzio Tutela Vini to pour guests a good time.

IMG_0841The Leopard at des Artistes hosted the Exquisite Sannio Wines event providing an artistic backdrop to enrich the festivities. The muraled walls and intimate ambiance showcased the wine and Campania dishes.

Industry leaders had the opportunity on May 10, 2017, to taste Italian wine that may make its way to the American market. Some of the popular tastings included: Falanghina Del Sannio DOP (2014), Solopaca DOP, Aglianico DOP (organic-2011) and 2011 Aglianico Del Taburno DOCG.

While guests saluti’d the Italian vintage, Chef Vito Gnazzo plated passed hors d’oeuvres such as rice arancini filled with mozzarella, peas and veal, braised escarole with black olives and pinoli, mozzarella in carrozza with light anchovy sauce and polpettine of chickpea. An assortment of small plates topped with octopus salad with celery and fingerling potatoes, paccheri with piennolo tomato and basil and risotto with baby clams and bottarga. A creamy pastiera of ancient grains with berries closed the tasting.

Gruppo Italiano (GI) serves foodies and wine connoisseurs an authentic Italian experience. Promoting new products, vintages and flavors the acclaimed group will continue to reinvent New York City’s culinary industry.

Lone Star uncaps a sizzling and side-splitting production

image1After a successful run at The Wild Project, Lone Star two-stepped to the Triad for a special engagement. Turning the theatre into a backyard of a Texas bar, the stage was set for Roy (Matt de Rogatis) and Chris Loupos (Ray) to air their issues since Roy returned from Vietnam.

Feeling alone despite surrounded by a bustling bar scene, Roy attempts to fit into his old life while unknowingly its crumbling around him. His beloved 1959 pink Thunderbird is damaged, his faith in his service and wife is rocked and when he learns of his brother’s betrayal, his life, like his precious car is in pieces.

While confronting veterans’ difficulty readjusting to society, the performance is filled with one-liners that makes the audience roar with laughter. To set the mood, Jillian Geurts and Mollie Downes added their own styling to the night covering songs like Jolene, Jackson, Hit the Road Jack and When I’m Gone.

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Although the curtain closed on James McLure’s Lone Star, the show continues to give back with a portion of the proceeds going to the Vietnam Veterans of America.

 

Spotlight On provided a wild time for guests

touch of cinemaThe Wild Project set the stage for April’s Rise of the Phoenix celebration. Shining the light on independent theater, the final week, like the phoenix, burned bright until ending in a blaze this weekend.

stop-and-frisk-promo-art-american-voices-spotlight-on-2017American Stories/Forgotten Voices had theatre-goers embrace the stage and screen. Stop and Frisk, In Memoriam and Is Anybody Listening? revealed stories of those disenfranchised by the system, who refuse to be ignored and forgotten.

Duncan Pflaster’s play added a touch of cinematic magic to the festival. A Touch of Cinema is play within a play and the reading of Dina’s (Diánna Martin) forbidden movie script had actors and audience members on the edge of their seats. Confronting theatrical stereotypes, creating movie magic and revealing the truth through staged dialogue, spun a suspenseful tale where the actors learned to expect the unexpected. Lars Engstrom, Kristen Vaughan, Russell Jordan, Lucy Spain and Michael Andrew Daly are shocked that their staged reading has made its way to the silver screen.

Nine Theatricals and Dramatists Play Service drove Lone Star to the Spotlight On Festival. James McLure’s groundbreaking work features Roy (Matt de Rogatis) and Ray (Chris Loupos) who are brothers reliving Roy’s glory days after returning from Vietnam. Thundering his way back into his former life, three things matter to Roy: his wife,  brother and car, a 1959 pink Thunderbird. While drinking in the small-town Texas bar’s scene, Roy’s life spirals out-of-control. Will being a Lone Star in Texas be Ray’s undoing or will he be a “mockery” of his former self? Although the festival’s spotlight flickered, Lone Star is moving to the Triad Theatre in May.

Lonely Night in Coney Island celebrates the 20th year and 100th production of Genesis Repertory. Coney Island sets the backdrop for Omar, Fred and Sam’s extracurricular activities. When the three are charged with the same crime, Arab-born Omar is the only one facing felonious action. Mohammad Saad Ali’s award-winning play challenges racial stereotypes and although America promotes diversity, is everyone really free?

Through the Years features Teresa Fischer singing her way into audience’s hearts. The charismatic performer switched accents, song styling and performed her 4th Annual Tomatoes Got Talent winning act. Special guests included Frank Calo, Jenny Greeman and Mary Sheridan that added to the hilarity and unforgettable scenes.

Rise of the Phoenix-smSpotlight On has been a crowd favorite that remained popular through the years. Although the spotlight dimmed on this year’s festival, stay tuned for next season to burn even brighter.

Photo Credit: Jay Michaels

Granny’s Blue-Mers raunchily sings the blues Down in the Alley!

IMG_0566The Duplex hosted the crowd-pleasing cabaret where Reverend Mary and her band of conspirators provide energized styling served with deadpan humor. Giving new meaning to songs like “My Man Stands Out,” “Don’t Come Too Soon,” “Wild About That Thing” and “It Ain’t the Meat” had crowds erupting in laughter.

Genesis Repertory Ensemble’s saucy yet satisfying performance was directed, designed and produced by Mary Elizabeth Micari. Rev. Mary stated that she performs Hokum Blues “because I love it. It is funny, dirty, rowdy and wild…I feel plugged into something much bigger and more powerful than any other music I have sung. It is physical, emotional and fun and I wanted to do it with older singers. I think having people of a certain age, especially women who are obviously knowledgeable about sex makes it all the more sexy, powerful and funny.”

IMG_0545While Rev. Mary and Liz Rabson’s vocals took center stage, Mario Claudio and Emmy Pai backed-up their claim and served down and dirty arrangements. Dan Furman tickled the ivories while Nori Naraoka ‘bassed’ his accompaniment.

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IMG_0548Although the curtain closed on this production, Granny’s Blue-Mers is scheduled to tour. Get ready to have them rise to the occasion!

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