Sunday, February 25, 2007

Something Completely Different

Friday night, I was treated to something unique and completely new.

No, not that. Dear Lord, does EVERYTHING have to be about sex?

Well, yes, everything DOES have to be about sex, but in this instance, it's not.

Jason Bowen emailed me at Season of Concern and invited me to his theatre company's latest production.

Nothing extraordinary about that except that his theatre company is Quest Theatre Ensemble, whose mission is "making theater available to everyone," meaning admission to the play is 100% free...

...and the Quest's current production is the age old melodrama THE DRUNKARD with music and lyrices by the one, the only...

Barry Manilow!

Yes... that Barry Manilow.

"Oh, Mandy. You came and you gave without takin'..."

I'm sorry. I had a Manilow Moment. I'm back.

I had no idea what to expect... I mean a melodrama with music by Manilow?... and I was blown away by the production, the performances, the audience participation, the incredible voices, the brilliant choreography, the amazing set and costumes and puppets and masks - - the whole evening was the most fun I have had in the theatre in a long, long time.

Jason and his friends at Quest are doing something truly different - - theatre that is available to EVERYONE! That was evidenced as I walked up to the theatre and held the door open for two women and their four children. From what I could tell, they lived in the neighborhood and had walked to the theatre to see the show.

And since this is a melodrama, the Master of Ceremonies (Josh Hoover with a wit as dry as a Noel Coward martini) encourages the audience to swoon for the Damsel (the beautiful Amy Stelle), cheer for the Hero (Jason himself - - brilliant as always) and to "boo" and "hiss" and throw popcorn at the Villain (the wildly funny and incredibly talented Keith Cavanaugh).

The theatre was packed and the audience dove into the melodrama - - especially the kids I met at the front door. They were giggling and laughing and cowering from the Villain when he walked towards them. Everyone - - EVERYONE - - was having an incredible time.

Now, when is the last time you saw EVERYONE having a blast at a play?

So, if anyone would like to go to see THE DRUNKARD, let me know and I will gladly go back to see it with you. It runs through March 25th.

And if you've got some extra cash you want to give to a theatre company who is doing something truly different in this city, donate to Quest. They have definitely made it to the top of my donation list!

By the by, the Villain, Mr. Cavanaugh, had one of the funniest asides of the night - - so funny, I actually pulled out my notebook and wrote it down.

After an act and a half of the audience pelting him over and over with popcorn galore, he stood in the middle of the center aisle of the audience dead center in the spotlight and said...

"You're just throwin' all that popcorn at me to butter me up."

Mr. Cavanaugh - your next cocktail is on me!


whimsicalnbrainpan said...

That is awesome Stephen! Many kudos to your friend Jason for doing this. Maybe this is the way theatre will come back to the people again.

Stephen Rader said...

E - If anyone can do it, the Quest folks can!!!

Jeanne said...

Stephen, I'm so glad you got a chance to discover Quest. I have stage managed Quest's Haunted "L" for the past three years and I love this company. I love what they stand for and how they work. If you get a chance at Christmas, they have a little show called Blue Nativity that fantastic.

Stephen Rader said...

Jeanne - Trust me, I will be there! I had such a good time - - and everyone gets in for free!!! I am definitely a member of their fan club!!!

Jason said...

Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou for all your praise and support! Quest has really been something so special to those of us involved and the support and word of mouth that goes around is totally moving and exciting to me! I am so glad you enjoyed the show and plan to come back! Check out WGN Morning News tomorrow, we will be on with Ana...I am sure Keith will have some fun with her!

Stephen Rader said...

Jason - Thank YOU for all that you are doing for Chicago Theatre. It is truly brilliant.

And I can't wait to see you on WGN in the morning with Ana. My TiVo is at the ready!!!!