Inherit the Wind is a fictionalized drama based on what was perhaps the best-known jury trial of the 20th century — the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial." A Tennessee high school teacher, John T. Scopes (1900-1970), was convicted of teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to his biology classes.
Circle Theatre currently has two productions on the boards. In their main space, the Australian play When the Rain Stops Falling is sold out for what remains of its run. That show has become the "hottest ticket in town."
It's bleak but effective, grim but exhilarating. When the Rain Stops Falling, by Australian playwright Andrew Bovell, is certainly never formulaic, and the Circle Theatre production is the Chicago premiere. The complex but intricately layered play, sharply directed by John Gawlik, is a terrific ensemble showcase; there are no obvious "leads."
Chicago playwright Tanya Saracho's play Enfrascada (A Hoodoo Comedy of Jarring Proportions) has been playing to packed houses at 16th Street Theater in Berwyn for several weeks. It's really a strong, enjoyable production, tightly directed by Keira Fromm and featuring a dynamic ensemble of five actresses.
I continue urging people to "get on over to Open Door" to check out what's happening at this newest of local theater spaces, located on Ridgeland just south of Harrison in Oak Park. That was even before Open Door Repertory Company's current production, which is so joyful and dynamic you'd better act quickly.
Beyond the Fringe, Oak Park Festival Theatre's latest production, is a British comedy revue, originally created at the turn of the '60s by a four-member male troupe composed of Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, and Jonathan Miller. None of the four creators had ever worked together before. In fact, Jonathan Miller was actually trained as a physician.
Circle Theatre's new production is an uproarious revival of the 1975 comedy, The Ritz. Set in a gay bathhouse, this rollicking show garnered huge laughs on opening night. Director Bob Knuth's large and lively cast of 20 serves up a very entertaining evening.
In such precarious times for the arts, it's thrilling to see an intrepid new theatrical troupe mounting work in our community. I missed the first Paradise Playhouse production of On Golden Pond last fall, but they've launched another new show, Bell, Book, and Candle, directed by Jim Leonard. This early 1950s comedy by John Van Druten is currently being performed in the new Open Door Theater space on Ridgeland Avenue just south of Harrison Street.
The new 16th Street Theater in Berwyn does a bang-up job mounting strong shows that may make you squirm. Their latest production, Accidental Rapture by Eric Pfeffinger, is, as the ads say, "a comedy about faith, friendship, and the end of the world." It depicts the culture wars currently raging amongst us — the increasing polarization between the left and religious conservatives.
Circle Theatre has long been known for mounting dazzling productions of famous flops. The intrepid company loves to resurrect failed musicals that, for various reasons, missed their mark. Often we're so blown away by these ambitious revivals it's puzzling why the original productions were poorly received and unsuccessful. With The Baker's Wife, however, it's no mystery. This show never fully finds its focus.