Out of Town
Rhapsody Theater Astonishes in Chicago
Presto, change-o! A beautiful, new, intimate venue for variety acts, including music, dance, comedy, and especially magic, called the Rhapsody Theater, has materialized in Chicago’s far north Rogers Park neighborhood. Prepare to be amazed.
This beautiful and welcoming venue at 1328 West Morse Avenue was originally built in 1912 as a vaudeville house, and called the Morse Theater. It was renovated in art deco style during the 1930’s. After eighty years of other tenants, it became a live music venue called the Mayne Stage. When the pandemic came, the theater closed again, and the building was put on the market. The neighborhood feared developers would turn this intimate gem of a performance space into overpriced apartments. Saving this important cultural center would take a real feat of magic.
But then…abracadabra! Dr. Ricardo T. Rosenkranz, physician, Assistant Professor in Clinical Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and a fine mentalist performer, appeared in a puff of smoke. Dr. Rosenkranz developed his own mentalism show, called The Rosenkranz Mysteries, under the tutelage of acclaimed Chicago mentalist Eugene Berger. I enjoyed it very much when I saw it in 2016 at Chicago’s Royal George Theater. Sadly, that venue has since fallen to commercial real estate developers.
Fortunately, Chicago still had the Magic Lounge, modeled after L.A.’s famed Magic Castle. But even there, as Dr. Rosenkranz lamented to me after the show, magic shows have shrunk from the full evening presentations which once graced our stages to abbreviated “cabaret acts.” He wanted to create a home where a stable of magic performers could expand the form again.
When this historic building became available, Rosenkranz waved his magic wand, and pulled a rabbit out of his hat…along with a couple million dollars, and a partner, to buy it. Now, Dr. Rosenkranz is the venue’s managing partner and artistic director. The facility has three beautiful bars at which the neighborhood is invited to escape the heat, and plans are to open a full restaurant in the fall.
I missed the inaugural performance by magician Carisa Hendrix, known professionally as Lucy Darling. But I was able to see last week’s prestidigitator, two-time Magician of the Year, Rob Zabrecky, in his show called The Zabrecky Hour.
Zabrecky’s presentation style is deliberately offbeat. He is quiet, thin, and dark in aspect, with one eye covered in a black patch. As that wasn’t in his publicity picture, I’m not sure if it represented a recent accident or an affectation. But it suits him. When he performs, he never cracks a smile. But he still rattles off brilliantly odd jokes that come at you quite unexpectedly. At moments he is deliberately a bit creepy as well, especially as he calmly cuts folded paper into surprising shapes with unnerving relish. Imagine the fusion of Norman Bates and Steven Wright, with a touch of Edward Scissorshands, and the eye-patch wearing Bond villain, Emilio Largo, thrown in for good measure. What’s not to love?
Somewhat surprisingly, the magical effects Zabresky presents are pretty standard fare. But the art of magic is its presentation, and his unusual style is truly unique.
In one effect, he tells the audience that his 93 year old grandfather has come to the show to celebrate his birthday. He then brings out his “grandfather” in the form of ashes in a funeral urn, on which he places a sparkly party hat before wishing it happy birthday. That about says it all. Then he invokes the spirit of his grandfather to invisibly ring a dinner bell, and write a funny message on a pair of blank slates to end the routine. Being deliberately funny rather than spooky isn’t quite as anti-magic as Penn and Teller showing you how things are done. But it does tweak our expectations regarding what a spiritualist act should be.
In other effects, he shows his excellent manipulation skills, including making small balls disappear and reappear unexpectedly, tearing a string into tiny pieces and restoring it magically, and manipulating a deck of cards that gets smaller and smaller right before your eyes.
However, there are aspects of this show which could use improvement. At the opening of the show, as a really strange and annoying voice whines in the background, Zabrecky moves through the audience with a large wrapped box, which he eventually gives to an audience member to hold. Of course, we wait throughout the whole show for him to do something with that box. Finally, after taking his bows, he simply retrieves the box and leaves without fanfare. If you blink, you’ll miss it. So this meta comment, which is also apparently meant to upend our expectations, is simply uneffective in presentation.
He also does an extended routine, which is really just a clown gag, in which two volunteers compete for “prizes” which turn out to be not very appealing items. There’s a funny comic button at the end, but no magic is involved in creating it. So I wondered what this was even doing in his show.
Finally, he does a faux serious effect (which is impossible to take seriously) with a disappearing and reappearing banana that didn’t quite disappear the night I came. This felt like a throwaway bit that really should be thrown away.
In keeping with Dr. Rosenkranz’s plan to have a family of performers, Zabrecky will return from August 11 through September 24. So he will have plenty of opportunity to further hone his magical evening.
Meanwhile, mentalist Ross Johnson will take the stage now through July 31.So here’s why you need to go to the Rhapsody Theater. If you go see David Copperfield in Laas Vegas you’ll see big, amazing effects. But you won’t get up close and personal like this, and certainly not with an act this edgy. If you believe that connecting intimately with a performer is what makes live performance exciting, and you want something better than bland, you’ll find that at the Rhapsody Theater.
Dr. Rosenkranz’s plans for the venue also include reinstituting the radio broadcasts by classical music station WFMT. He looks forward to giving local chamber music a venue appropriate to the intimate nature of chamber performance. The elevator stage with a grand piano in the basement of the Rhapsody Theater will let him move effortlessly between the physical demands of comedy, magic and music acts in the future.
So whether you are a Chicago local, or just passing through for a visit, hop on the Red Line train to Morse Street to the Rhapsody Theater, and go see what other tricks Dr. Rosenkranz & Company have up their sleeves.
Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike Live: The Tour is Bringing the Magic to North Texas for a Limited Engagement
The global stage sensation created and directed by Channing Tatum, Magic Mike Live is bringing its magic to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a limited engagement for five weeks only starting May 11. Hot on the heels of the hit film Magic Mike’s Last Dance, the North American touring production will perform 10 shows a week in a custom-built venue located in the center of the action at the vibrant Stonebriar Centre in Frisco, TX. The tour’s North Texas engagement was announced today with an electrifying performance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, giving viewers across the country a sneak peek at the spectacular production. A limited number of tickets starting at $69 are on sale now and going fast at MMLTour.com.
Magic Mike Live: The Tour is produced by Channing Tatum, Steven Soderbergh, Reid Carolin, Greg Jacobs, Peter Kiernan and Nick Wechsler in association with Vincent Marini, Bruce Robert Harris, Jack W. Batman, Julian Stoneman, Louis Hartshorn, Brian Hook, Gavin Kalin, Hunter Arnold, Los Angeles Media Fund, ZKM Media, Richard Winkler, Alan Shorr, Dawn Smalberg, Marlene and Gary Cohen, and Simon Thomas. Emmy and Tony Award-winner Michael Cohl and his partner Tony Smith, principals with Bat Out of Hell Productions, will serve as the lead promoters. The tour is co-directed and choreographed by film franchise choreographer Alison Faulk with co-choreographer Luke Broadlick and associate choreographers The Bartley Brothers (Anthony and Charles), with original music by Jack Rayner, and production design by Rachel O’Toole.
Thanks to the incredible audience support of Magic Mike’s Last Dance in North Texas, the magic is heading live and in-person to Frisco! Magic Mike Live features professionally trained dancers delivering a thrilling 90-minute show that packs in sexy and daring dance routines, acrobatics, live music, comedy, and more in front of, above, and all around the audience. Equal parts empowering and exhilarating, Magic Mike Liveprovides an unforgettably fun night of live entertainment, perfect for date night or the ultimate girls’ night out, that’s guaranteed to leave guests feeling inspired and ready to ignite their inner magic.
“We considered a number of amazing cities to open our first production of Magic Mike Live after the release of Magic Mike’s Last Dance, but the Dallas-Fort Worth area rose to the top,” said Magic Mike Live Executive Producer Vincent Marini. “North Texas audiences have been visiting our Las Vegas show in huge numbers for years, but this touring production is something new. It’s the culmination of everything we’ve learned about our show and our guests after selling over a million tickets around the world. It’s joyful, it’s sexy, and it’s just a ton of fun. I just know that people will be blown away the minute they walk into the venue!”
After taking in the venue’s aesthetic indoor-outdoor courtyard space, guests will marvel as they enter the multi-story, 600-seat venue which incorporates the best design features from Magic Mike Live productions around the world. Every performance, every fabric, every finish, every detail of the venue has been meticulously curated by Tatum and the Magic Mike Live creative team, led by co-director and film franchise choreographer Alison Faulk with co-choreographer Luke Broadlick.
Guests are invited to come early and stay late to enjoy the indoor-outdoor lounge complete with music, multiple bars, and comfortable seating. The venue’s bars will offer a curated cocktail experience created in collaboration with Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s spirit brand Singani 63, featuring signature beverages inspired by moments in the show.
Epic experiences await those looking to up the ante on their visit to Magic Mike Live:
- Ultra Seats – Experience Magic Mike Live like never before from one of just 12 available Ultra Seats. Priced at $299 per person, each Ultra Seat package includes:
- Front-row, plush couch seating as close to the action as you can possibly get.
- Complimentary cocktails paired with special moments throughout the show.
- Complimentary preferred parking.
- A commemorative lanyard.
- A personal concierge, who will provide each party with direct communication before, during and after the show.
- Dedicated waitstaff during the show.
- All offerings from Mike’s Exclusive Package, including a post-show meet and greet with members of the cast, cocktail, and live music.
- Mike’s Exclusive Package: No matter where you sit for the show, upgrade your experience to score access to an intimate meet and greet with select cast members after the show with the purchase of a Mike’s Exclusive Package add-on for $99 per person. With their commemorative lanyard, guests will get to meet and take photos with members of the cast while enjoying live music and a specially curated cocktail. A show ticket is required to purchase the Mike’s Exclusive Package add-on.
To take full advantage of all that the region’s premiere shopping and entertainment destination has to offer, ticket buyers can also pair their experience with an afternoon brunch on Saturday and Sunday at Smokin’ Oak Wood-Fired Pizza & Taproom. Priced at $50 per person, the 2 p.m. brunch seating offers up a three-course menu that includes stuffed cheese bread and your choice of pizza, wood-fired breakfast sandwich, or full salad, and either a delicious apple pie or cinnamon glazed knots for dessert, all topped off with a $20 Tap Wall credit to indulge with your favorite beer, wine or cocktail. A limited number of weekend brunch packages are available to add-on to any 4 p.m. performance ticket purchase on Saturday or Sunday.
The North American touring production of Magic Mike Live is led by South Africa-born Kalon Badenhorst, who has performed the titular role of “Mike” in Berlin and Las Vegas, and emcees Crystal Powell and Nikki Lowe. The ensemble cast also includes Magic Mike Live alumni Gianluca Briganti, Clare Billson, Nate Bryan, Kiana De Van der Schueren, Marcquet Hill, Burim Jusufi, Jake Paul Green, Nicholas Phillips, Blake Varga, and Joshua Williams. Additional casting to be announced.
While thrilling more than 1.2 million guests around the world with shows currently running in Las Vegas, London, on tour across North America, and past engagements in Berlin and Australia.
Starting May 11, Magic Mike Live : The Tour will perform a 90-minute show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday with 10 p.m. performances Thursday through Saturday, and a 4 p.m. matinee on Saturday and Sunday; no shows on Monday and Tuesday. For tickets starting at $68, upgrades, and information for groups of 10 or more, visit MMLTour.com or call 833.624.4265.
Connect with the show on social media: @MMLTour on Instagram and Twitter; @MagicMikeLiveTour on TikTok and Facebook / #MMLTOUR.
The Olivier Awards Return
Celebrate the very best in British theatre in a star-studded evening as the Olivier Awards return to the Royal Albert Hall on April 2nd.
Three-time Olivier Award nominee & Primetime Emmy winner, Hannah Waddingham will be hosting the awards for the first time.
The event will feature performances from all of the Best New Musical nominees, including The Band’s Visit, Standing At The Sky’s Edge, Sylvia and Tammy Faye. Also performing will be Oklahoma! and Sister Act, both nominated for the Best Musical Revival award, as well as Disney’s Newsies, which has been nominated for Matt Cole’s choreography.
The multi-Olivier Award winner The Book of Mormon, will be performing to mark its ten-year anniversary in the West End. Additionally, special award winner Arlene Philips will be honored with a tribute from the cast of Grease.
The ceremony will be broadcast live on Magic Radio from 6pm with Ruthie Henshall and Alice Arnold hosting.
The highlights program will also be aired on ITV1 and ITVX at 10:15 pm in the UK and via Official London Theatre’s YouTube channel elsewhere.
And the nominees are:
Out of Town
The Unpacking of the First Métis Man of Odesa, An Interview
Punctuate! Theatre is unpacking a love story. A love story about a couple. A love story about Ukraine. And a love story against an unbelievably complicated backdrop. Starting at The Theatre Centre in Toronto, the company is ushering forth the world premiere of First Métis Man of Odesa before it spins itself out on stages across Canada. Spanning continents and set against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Métis playwright and Punctuate! Artistic Director, Matthew MacKenzie (Dora Award-winning playwright for Bears, After the Fire, The Particulars) joins forces with his wife, the award-winning Ukrainian actress Mariya Khomutova (Odesa Film Festival Grand Prix – The Golden Duke award-winner NONNA, Two People), to tell the story of their COVID courtship and share an intimate perspective on the personal impacts of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Drawn from their real-life love story, a story that is ultimately still unfolding to this very day, First Métis Man of Odesa unpacks the journey of Matt and Masha’s love that spans continents where distance and conflicts can’t tame their passionate connection. After meeting on a theatre research trip in Kyiv, a spark is struck, and a romance between a Métis Playwright and a Ukrainian artist is ignited, taking them from the beaches of the Black Sea to the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, within the onset of a global pandemic, the eruption of a brutal war, but also the many joyous moments that this union begets, including marriage and the birth of their son.
During the height of the lockdown in 2021, an initial version of this piece was presented as a radio play at Factory Theatre, written by MacKenzie and directed by Nina Lee Aquino. This March, First Métis Man of Odesa, as directed by Lianna Makuch (Pyretic Productions/Punctuate!’s Barvinok), makes its stage debut, offering a compelling continuation of the initial story told in that first radio play. The couple, Matthew MacKenzie and his wife, Mariya Khomutova, sat down with Frontmezzjunkies and thankfully answered a few questions about their incredible journey from that first love-struck connection to its World Premiere at The Theatre Centre in Toronto.
Tell me, how you decided to embark on telling your own story and what the beginning of this creative process looked like for you two?
Initially, Matt wrote an audio play for Factory Theatre about our romance, then getting married and having their son during the pandemic. The plan had been to expand the piece for the stage, a plan that took on much urgency after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Both the pandemic and war have a deeply dehumanizing effect, so our hope in telling our love story is to share the human side of these major world events; a human side that headlines and news clips can’t fully capture.
What aspect of your character, or your involvement with/creation of this play resonates the most powerfully inside you?
For both of us, the opportunity to share all the joy, humour, anger, and frustration we’ve experienced in the past few years is a really therapeutic process. Many of our friends and family only know snippets of what we’ve been through, so the opportunity to tell our story across the country is one we are deeply grateful for.
The phrase “you don’t know what someone is carrying with them” has really hit home over the past couple of years, as we have had to contend with some pretty epic challenges as a couple and as individuals.
Tell me a bit about what it is like to bring your character to the stage? What does mean to you to be telling this story?
We play ourselves in the play, but we very much play versions of ourselves in the play. We had to mine conflict between us out of a few outbursts, as there haven’t actually been a lot of [conflicts] in our relationship so that we could bring the drama of what we are going through to the fore.
Challenges of playing ourselves have included the fact that [Matt] is not a trained actor, while Mariya is. Mariya though comes from a theatre tradition that was almost entirely focused on the classics, so playing herself in a play based on her life is definitely a new and challenging experience!
Tell me a bit more about your development process? Was there a typical ‘first read’ or was it different, given your own story inspired the work…
We were able to conduct several development workshops over a period of six months. There was no shortage of content that we could derive from our lives, so the challenge was determining what to keep and what to let fall away. Even after our first read, we cut 15 pages from our rehearsal draft. Events in our lives and in Ukraine will no doubt continue to necessitate the evolution of our script.
What’s been the most challenging part of this process for you?
For Mariya, it was buying into the idea (that is quite a common one in Canada) that a play about someone’s real life can be art. Seeing Hailey Gillis’s My Ex-boyfriend Yard Sale, really helped her believe this was possible.
For Matt, it met the challenge of performing for the first time in ten years. The last time he performed, he made his friends promise they would never let him perform again, but all agreed it didn’t make much sense for anyone else to play him in this piece.
The most rewarding?
Having already performed several shows in Kamloops, the most rewarding part of this process is sharing this story with refugees from Ukraine. Their responses have been incredible and have really encouraged us to share our story with as many people as possible.
What do you want the audience to get from this play, and from your character?
We want the audience to join us as we relive our sweeping love story, from Odesa to Toronto. We want the audience to see the human side of the conflict in Ukraine. And we want the audience to leave the theatre with the hope that love can and will conquer all.
First Métis Man of Odesa is in Toronto for its world premiere run at the Franco Boni Theatre @ The Theatre Centre from March 30 – April 8, 2023 (opening March 31). Following the world premiere in Toronto, First Métis Man of Odesa will appear at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, The Cultch in Vancouver, and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg. For information and tickets, please visit theatrecentre.org/event/first-metis-man-of-odesa/
Tech2 years ago
How to Take Advantage of Virtual Numbers for SMS
Business2 years ago
Entre Institute Review – Is Jeff Lerner’s Program a Scam?
Entertainment2 years ago
A Star is Born – Barvina Takes Entertainment World by Storm
Events3 months ago
New Year’s Eve Traditions In The US and Around The World
Film9 months ago
Elvis and The Mob Connection
Broadway2 years ago
Broadway Reopening: The Theatre Listings
Events2 years ago
The Question On Everyone’s Mind Should Be How Did The Haitians Get To Mexico
Spiritual2 years ago
The History of Numerology
Family2 years ago
Who Is Justine Ang Fonte and Why Are We Letting Her Near Children?
Broadway11 months ago
Funny Girl Makes Julie Benko a Star