Doug Deuchler has been reviewing local theater and delving into our history for Wednesday Journal for decades. He is alsoa retired teacher and school librarian who is also a stand-up comic, tour guide/docent and author of several books about Oak Park and surrounding communities. Here's your chance to tap into Doug's knowledge of local theater, film and history.
OK, I'll admit it. I never heard of this play until the other night when I strolled over to Austin Gardens to see Oak Park Festival Theater's latest production, The Fair Maid of the West. It's a breathtakingly energetic show brimming with pirates and shipwrecks and duels. Oh my! This obscure Renaissance adventure/comedy is chock full of love and laughter. And it's a whole lot of fun.
The Amish Project may be hard to imagine because it's a one-woman show in which a single actress impersonates seven vastly different characters without any costume changes or props. The intertwining monologues weave together to tell from many different angles the tragic tale of Oct. 2, 2006 when a mentally unbalanced man opened fire on a group of Amish schoolgirls in their one-room schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.
New shows are thrilling, especially those focused on real people. This past weekend Open Door Theater launched the world premiere of an original "chamber musical," meaning a show featuring few instruments mounted in a smaller venue, called It Don't Just … Shake Off. This historical production by McKinley Johnson, featuring some new songs by playwright and music director Eric Troy Sr., is lively and fascinating.
Oak Park Festival Theatre's energetic new production of Shakespeare's Macbeth is set in medieval Scotland, yet we can relate to the damaging effects of both excessive pride and ruthless political ambition.
The award-winning tour in which costumed interpreters portray assorted "residents" of the 140-year-old Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park at their grave sites has been a very popular event for two decades.