Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Looking Forward

With the holiday season moving towards its end, so goes The Iliad.  The show will close on Sunday, January 2 with a 3:00 matinee.  There are tickets available for that performance, as well as evening performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  There will be a champagne/sparkling cider toast with the cast at the New Year's Eve and New Year's Day shows, which should be fun.  If the reception after the opening is any indication, then take it from me, there's something a little unnerving about watching these girls socialize while covered in blood.

And in other news, rehersals are well under way for our next production, The New Electric Ballroom, which starts previews on January 20.  Keep an eye out for more news on that one as the opening draws closer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Minute Gift Ideas!

Instead of those standard sweaters and scarfs, why not give your loved ones something they'll really remember?  Get them tickets for the extended the run of The Iliad!  The show dates and times are on the website, and you can purchase tickets there or call us here in the box office. 

And if you are feeling really generous, you could always give a subscription to our season, which you can get online or by calling us.

And from everyone here at A Red Orchid Theatre, Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Congrats to the New York Crew

Scott Brown of New York Magazine has named his Top 10 theatre productions for New York, and Mistakes Were Made is #6.  He also gave the show a glowing review when it opened, and has nothing but great things to say about it now: "Full of existential portents, tricky rag-doll stuntwork, and gorgeously ominous puppetry, this bam import never used its stunning visuals as an excuse to skimp on narrative and character."   See the entire list and more praise for the show here.

Of course, for those of you who saw the show here in Chicago and know how great it was, you can't really be too surprised, right?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Extended Run - Dates and times for The Iliad

Here's the info for the extended run of The Iliad.  Normally, our shows are at 8pm, but the evening shows for the extended run start at 7pm, so don't forget.

Sunday December 26 at 3pm & 5pm; Wednesday December 29 at 7pm; Thursday December 30 at 7pm; Friday December 31 at 7pm *champagne/cider toast with the cast; Saturday January 1 at 7pm *champagne/cider toast with the cast; Sunday January 2 at 3pm CLOSING PERFORMANCE
*no shows on December 23, 24, 25

Call us here at the box office for your tickets, or get them online!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Best Theatre of 2010?

A Red Orchid Theatre made the Best of 2010 list at the Tribune.  While I think Abigail's Party should have been much higher on the list, it seems to be in good company.  Here's the full list.

It also appears that The Iliad will be extended through the holidays, but I don't have specifics yet. If you're in a rush for details, you can check the theatre's website, or give the box office a call.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Only Two More Weeks for The Iliad

The Iliad is nearing the end of its run, so if you haven't seen it, you need to call us for your tickets.  The show closes on Dec. 19th, which means you only have TWO weeks left to see it.  I'll go ahead and remind you that the show is Highly Recommended by both the Chicago Sun-Times (with such praise as "the concept works brilliantly") and Time Out Chicago (which praised the "remarkable skill and discipline" of the actors, who are able to recite the "passages of epic poetry with sensitive command").  Also, Sarah Fornace's fight sequences are getting a ton praise, such as this one between Hector and Achilles:

Also this reminder, because we had a message from someone who wanted to purchase tickets for A Very Merry (Unauthorized) Scientology Pageant, we are not doing that show this year.  But there are plenty of other holiday shows and events to see around town, including a radio-rendition of It's a Wonderful Life at The Biograph, which looks like a lot of fun.  Granted, it's quite different from the Scientology Pageant, and may not be a substitute, but it looks like a good show nontheless. There's also A John Waters Christmas at the Harris Theater, a couple productions of A Christmas Carol, and The Nutcracker.  There's also And if none of those fill the hole left by the Scientology Pageant, you could always ask Santa to bring it back next year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Industry Night

For all of you theater-industry-workers, we're having the industry night for The Iliad on Monday, Dec. 6.  The show is at 7pm, and the tickets are pay-what-you-can.  But, you should call us and reserve your seats, because they're going fast.  Chicagotheaterblog.com ran this review of the play, which stands out as one of the only reviews that I've seen that wanted more from the production, specifically the langauge: "It’s passing strange that, having come so far, Wright does not simply pull whole and darkly beautiful lines from the original text."  I hadn't thought about it before, but I think it's an interesting point.

And while The Iliad continues to impress audiences, the New York production of Mistakes Were Made is doing the same.  Here's a nice bit from chicagoist.com, which applaudes the success of the Chicago-based production.  The Chicago Tribune has this piece, which praises Chicago's store-front theatres (especially A Red Orchid) for the unique, intense experiences they offer.  In both articles, you get a great sense of the pride and enthusiasm for Chicago's theatre scene.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

The Iliad is well into its run, and if you haven't seen it, you should.  The actors are receiving nothing but praise for their work, and the same goes for Steve Wilson's directing, Sarah Fornace’s fight sequences, as well as the entire design team.  For a round-up of the reviews, check out theatreinchicago.com, or click here.

As for the holiday weekend, there will be no show on Thursday (Thanksgiving), but there will be shows at the regular times for the rest of the weekend.  So that's Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 8 pm, and Sunday at 3pm.  So Happy Thanksgiving, and go see The Iliad.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Reviews Are In

The reviews for The Iliad are coming in, and they're good.  The show is "Highly Recommended" by Hedy Weiss at the Chicago Sun-Times, who wrote that the actors "impress with the ferocity of their emotions, the sureness of their intellectual attack and the force and clarity of their diction" and that the show is a "highly unusual but rewarding take on a story that bares the truth about how ego, envy and the sheer addiction to war can result in unbridled savagery."  (Full review here)  The Chicago Tribune also gave it a great review, calling it "a most remarkable theatrical experience," and adding "Wright has given these girls quite a gift. But while many people are understandably reluctant to watch children — or, at least, children to whom they have no relation — this one offers glory on all sides." (Full review here)  The Chicago Critic review is also good, claiming "The girls DID make the Trojan Wars come to life. Amazing!"  It also includes some great photos from the the performance.

And in another news, last night The Inconvenience took over A Red Orchid's theater space for their Fresh Mean Reading Series.  The play, "The Triple Dog Dare of King Pluto the Dark," was written by Aaron Weissman, and performed by five talented actors, including Walter Briggs, who was seen recently in A Red Orchid's The Louis Slotin Sonata.  The Fresh Meat Reading Series continues on Dec. 8, and more information can be found on their website.  This was my first time seeing this group, and I have to say, they have a great energy.  Before the show, the audience buzzed with chatter.  The opening acts were firery.  And the reading was funny, heart-felt, and immensely entertaining.  How refreshing to see a group of performers doing what they love, simply because they love doing it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two openings this weekend

The Iliad opens tomorrow, with two previews this weekend, and tickets ($15) are still available for both shows.  Monday's press opening is still sold out, and Sunday's performance is for the families of the performers.  The show begins its regular run on the 18th, with performances at 8 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and the 3 pm matinee on Sundays.

Because this is a Youth Ensemble production, and because we kept getting asked about it, we've decided to schedule some matinees during the week, especially for school groups who want to come see the show.  Tickets for those matinees have to be booked in blocks, and if you know anyone who might be interested, tell them to call us and we'll answer all their questions.  And while we're on the topic, keep in mind that we offer summer classes through the Red OrKids program, and we can tell you about those, too. 

In other Ensemble news, the New York production of Mistakes Were Made is set to open on Sunday.  So  that's two plays opening this weekend for ensemble member and playwright Craig Wright.  I haven't seen any reviews for the New York production, yet, but the NYT has the play listed in their theatre section here, with all the ticketing information and such.  There's also this piece, with one of the strangest pictures of Mike Shannon I've seen in a while. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Iliad at A Red Orchid

The previews for The Iliad are just over a week away (November 12 and 13), the press opening has sold out (November 15), and we're already getting some great buzz about the show.  TimeOut Chicago ran this piece, with a great shot of the actors at rehersal: 

Also, the poster is pretty great, too:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Corporal Show at Double Door

Last night, ensemble member Mike Shannon gathered his band, Corporal, at Double Door for a one-night-only show.  Scott Lucas and the Married Men played first, treating the audience to a great set that ended with a jam-session version of The Beatles classic, "I Got a Feeling."  Corporal took over, playing all the songs on their first album in order.  One audience member suggested the show should be called "A Corporal Experience," given the range of the kind of songs they played, some slow and melodic and others louder and even a little aggressive (including the reprise of "Obama," a timely song given the show took place on Election Day Eve).  The crowd filled out to about 100 people (a very rough estimate), and included fellow Ensemble members Guy Van Swearingen, Kirsten Fitzgerald, and Craig Wright (whose adaptation of The Iliad opens in less than two weeks).  We also spotted Walter Briggs, last seen in A Louis Slotin Sonata here at A Red Orchid Theatre.

Corporal consists of Mike Shannon on vocals and guitar, Ray Rizzo (center) on drums, and Rob Beitzel (to the left) on guitar as well.  Last night, Matt Scobee stepped in to cover the bass.  You can find the band here and on i-Tunes.  Thanks for coming, guys.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The End is near for Louis Slotin.

A Red Orchid Theatre is offering 2-for-1 tickets  this weekend only (September 30, and October 1, 2, and 3) - just mention promo code "Manhattan Project" to get this great deal!

4 STARS – TimeOut Chicago




OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE – chicagotheatreblog.com


Thursday, September 2, 2010


A Red Orchid Theatre lands
7 Nominations!

Including nominations for:
*Production -- Abigail's Party
*Ensemble -- Abigail's Party
*New Work -- Craig Wright's Mistakes Were Made
*Director -- Shade Murray's Abigail's Party
*Actor in Prinicpal Role -- Michael Shannon in Mistakes Were Made
*Actress in Principal Role -- Kirsten Fitzgerald in Abigail's Party
*Actress in Supporting Role -- Natalie West in Abigail's Party


And a sincere thank you to all our designers, directors, writers, technicians, performers, administrators, interns, board of directors and audience. Without whom none of this would be possible.

For a full list of 2009-2010 Nominees, check out JEFF's site


Individual tickets for our first show of the 2010/11 season, LOUIS SLOTIN SONATA, are on sale now!! Grab those tickets, you won't want to miss out on this explosive production. 

Call us at 312.943.8722 between the hours of 12:30 and 5 on weekdays
OR jump on our website at www.aredorchidtheatre.org and order your tickets online.

We are very excited for the show, and we would love to share it with you.
So join us and get your tickets today!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We at A Red Orchid know it's that time of the year again...

 The time when sweet, sticky summer slowly makes it way back to bed, and leaves the front door open for crisp autumn to stroll straight on in. And as much as we'd all like to keep that summer feeling for longer and hold on to it's nostalgia, fall has started to creep on in, bringing the start of schools, long coats, colorful trees, hot chocolate, and new beginnings. And what goes better with your fall coat or the vibrant trees, than the beginning of a fresh Season here at A Red Orchid Theatre?

Don't be fooled, the weather may be cooling down, but we are just warming up...


 On the heals of our most successful season to date, we maintain that theatre is potentially the greatest sustenance for the human spirit. Are we more ambitious animals than moral ones? More curious than kind? The exploring of these questions is often hilarious, sometimes horrifying and always carries the potential for deepened intimacy. Paul Mullen (our first playwright this season) recently posited that "theatre at it's best exists at the intersection of the intimate and the sublime." I would ad that life at it's best exists at that same intersection. As always, our 2010-2011 productions have been hand picked by our artistic ensemble.

drum roll please....

THE 2010/2011 SEASON:

The Midwest Premiere of
Louis Slotin Sonata
By Paul Mullin
Directed by Ensemble Member Karen Kessler

Will our innate curiosity and confidence kill us or lead us to greater awakenings? At 3:20 PM on Tuesday, May 21, 1946 Louis Slotin's hand slipped—a small, practically insignificant blunder, except that Slotin was the chief -bomb builder at Los Alamos, and at that fateful moment he held in his hands a plutonium bomb core named "Rufus". With a structure inspired by classical music's sonata allegro form, Louis Slotin Sonata traces the true story of a brilliant scientist's last nine days, as his body and mind gradually succumb to the chaos wrecked by radiation.
Homer’s The Iliad
By Craig Wright
Adapted from Robert Fagles’ translation
Directed by Steve Wilson and featuring the young women of the A Red Orchid Youth Ensemble

Adapted by Craig Wright specifically for our young, all-female cast, this version of The Iliad offers a provocative and playful new spin on Homer’s age-old tale of the Trojan War. Vengeance, loyalty, or honor: which is most important? And, in this saga of bloody battles and huge male egos, where exactly do women and children fit in? Packed with swordplay, gender politics, and even a few songs, this is one war you don’t want to miss.

The Midwest Premiere of
The New Electric Ballroom
By Enda Walsh
Directed by Robin Witt
Featuring Ensemble Member and founding Artistic Director, Guy Van Swearingen

Trapped in the years that have passed since their halcyon days at The New Electric Ballroom, three sisters relive memories of something resembling romance with hilarious and horrible effect. Interruptions from the local fishmonger only remind of the dangers of love and life outside. Words, in Mr. Walsh’s harsh but illuminating vision, are both the making of experience and its destruction. How do we share our history and how does it shape us?
Machiavelli’s The Mandrake
Adapted by Peter Constantine
Directed by Steve Scott

A young Italian merchant, Callimaco, dreams of loving the beautiful Lucrezia, but there are several obstacles. Lucrezia is married (to a real pea-brain) and her virtue seems beyond reproach. Callimaco enlists the help of Ligurio who devises an extraordinarily complicated, and hilarious, plan; Involving a corrupt Priest, Lucrezia’s mother, and the root of the Mandrake. With everyone behaving so badly, can anyone possibly win?
We want to share this fresh beginning, this exciting season, with you!
So call 312.943.8722 to subscribe to our season Flashpasses!
Yours truly,
A Red Orchid Theatre

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alright, just when we thought the smoke from our 2010 season had cleared...

Check out pg 94 for
the "Best of Theatre 2010"
Chicago Magazine's "Best of Chicago" issue just ended our explosive 2010 season with another blaze, launching A Red Orchid Theatre to stand with last season's theatre "standouts".

Among other brilliant Chicago artists such as director Rachel Rockwell, playwright Tanya Saracho, actor Francis Guinman, and Larry Adams, A Red Orchid has been recognized as a serious force to be reckoned with.

Chicago Magazine's Catey Sullivan writes:
There are other ferociously loyal ensembles in town, but only A Red Orchid has the ability to rip open the emotional jugular at point-blank range. Even with an Emmy nominee (Craig Wright), an Oscar nominee (Michael Shannon), and a fireman/artist (Guy Van Swearingen), the company operates on a stage the size of a walk-in closet. When Shannon had the fire-alarm meltdown in Wright's Mistakes Were Made, it seemed like the place would explode. (Which, by the way, it has. In Blasted, a bomb blew up the entire set four times a week.) When Kirsten Fitzgerald started pouring cocktails in Abigail's Party, we shrank in our seats, praying she wouldn't offer us one.

It appears we hit a nerve.
We're sending this city's pulse vibrating right into next season!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Come and Join ABIGAIL'S PARTY one last time at Theatre on the Lake!


Written by Mike Leigh

Directed by Shade Murray

Featuring Kirsten Fitzgerald, Mierka Girten, Larry Grimm, Steve Wilson and Natalie West

The year is 1977, the place somewhere in suburban England. While fifteen-year-old Abigail is throwing a raucus party, the adults have gathered down the street to party on their own. As the night goes on and the drinks are poured, the night goes horrifically and hilariously awry, laying bare the obsessions, prejudices, flaws and aspirations of the guests. Developed through improvisation by the original cast, thirty years later Abigail's Party has become a classic comedy of manners and a scathing satire that still offers timely social commentary and forces us to question our assumptions about relationships with one another.

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW, Abigail's Party runs from June 30th to July 4th!

June 30-July 3 at 7:30 pm

*July 4 at 6:30 pm

*Come and stay for the fireworks!

Call the Box Office for Theatre on the Lake today at (312)-742-87994 to reserve your seats! General admission tickets are $17.50 each! For more information, visit the Theatre on the Lake Website at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/theatreonthelake

Praise from the production:





Don't miss out!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting Ready to Party...

Previews for Abigail's Party are this Friday, February 12th and Saturday, February 13th at 8:00 PM, and Sunday the 14th at 3:00 PM. Check out what we're working on...

Wouldn't you like to party here? Call (312) 943-8722 for tickets!

A New Year, A New Sign

We're starting off 2010 in style with a gorgeous new sign outside of A Red Orchid's Wells St. home. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How I Became an Orchid

by Co-Founder and Ensemble member Larry Grimm

I have spent much of my life trying to justify being an…… actor.  At moments I have even denied that I was an actor. But this little theatre will keep you a little honest and that’s where my story begins.

After I graduated college I won a post-graduate fellowship. In short, I was awarded a chunk of change to travel around the globe writing about cultural differences in comedy ( I was fascinated by stand-up at the time – in the 80’s there was a big stand-up comedy boom and I falsely thought it was more powerful than theatre ever could be.) And although I had fleeting thoughts about being a post 90’s Gilbert Gottfried ( hey --I was 21)  and knew in my soul that I was an actor, this fellowship thing was an extremely convenient way to blanket myself in a protective pseudo-academia, to detach and insulate from being the dreaded  and clich├ęd image of a starving and unemployed actor. When I came back to Chicago and started doing shows, one of which was a breakaway sensation for Red Orchid called “Born Guilty”, it was clear that the bug had bitten in a way that was impossible to hide from.

But hey, that didn’t mean I couldn’t still try to hide.

If I was going to be an actor around town, I thought, I would not make the mistake of joining a dysfunctional theatre company that thought they could offer some new and cutting edge style of performance to the already crowded and overly noble minded storefront scene.

I had already witnessed the theatre’s founder, Guy Van Swearingen, go through a painful changing of the guard with the initial ensemble he created so when Guy, his sister Jody and Mike Shannon approached me with the idea of being an ensemble member, I shared a polite “Thanks, but no thanks.” I soon found out that the theatre already had stationary made and my name was listed under the ensemble heading.  I guess they weren’t expecting me to turn them down. In Guy’s characteristic warm-hearted fire house humor he said, “Don’t worry Lar, we’ll keep your name on the stationary even though you don’t want to be an ensemble member”. Although I think this was less a token of kindness and more about not wanting to pay for new stationary, I was touched enough to be roped in for the rest of the “new ensemble meeting”.

The meeting’s key highlight was Guy administering the four person gathering with a strict adherence to Robert’s Rules of Order as if we were members of the city council and Mike pacing back and forth mumbling, “This theatre needs to make more money this year than it ever has. We need to have a benefit that makes a f*** of a lot of money.” I smiled and thought privately, “This place is never gonna make it – I made the right decision.”  But the fact was that a decision had been made for me. In the same way that I fooled myself into thinking I could be a stoic non-participant in stand-up comedy, a detached academic observer of a craft, I foolishly thought that my name could remain on the company stationary and that I wouldn’t have to participate. I could move on.

I haven’t moved on. I remain today, ironically, a cofounder of the ensemble when what I initially offered was nothing but a firm commitment of tepid reluctance. But like much of A Red Orchid’s affairs things are unofficially official.  A Red Orchid is a little theatre that keeps you a little honest -  a theatre that keeps you whether you want to be on the stationary or not. A little like…. your family.


See Larry in Red Orchid's upcoming Chicago Premiere of Abigail's Party by Mike Leigh