Friday, December 30, 2011

BoHo Theatre - A Story of Success

As the curtain closes on 2011, I am left to reflect upon the year that has passed. Without a moment’s hesitation, I know this year has been a profound success for BoHo. Yet, as soon as I make this proclamation, I’m forced to question what defines “success” for a company such as ours. 

Is it the box office sales for one show or the critical acclaim of another? Is it the growth we’ve achieved or the continued artistic quality of the productions we produce? Is it simply surviving in a challenging economic environment long enough to see the dawn of another show? I believe it is, in part, all of these… but there’s more than that to being bohemian. 

I used to measure personal success by the shows I was fortunate enough to be a part of. Success was measured in the roles I played, or in the reviews I received. Instead, I now find myself remembering the stories shared and the community created through each process. Each story connects me to others, whether they’re a part of the company, the process, or the community. Each story deepens relationships I already have or generates new ones. I believe the same goes for our company. Each story we tell strengthens our connections to the artists we work with, the audiences we share with, and the community we create with. 

Success for me, and for our company, is not measured in numbers. Rather, it is found in the relationships we create and cultivate through the process of storytelling. As long as we continue to share our explorations of truth, beauty, freedom, and love with artists and audiences alike in hopes of finding those essential human elements that connect us all, I will consider every year a success.

-- Peter Marston Sullivan, Artistic Director of BoHo Theatre

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Finding the Heart - the BoHo Way

The most rewarding thing about producing theater is not what you'd think.  Yes, I want to win a bus-load of Jeff Awards. Yes, I want the Tribune to gush about the groundbreaking show that you'd be a fool to miss.  Yes, despite being a not-for-profit company, I want to sell lots and lots of full priced tickets. 

But really, I'd trade all of those things for an engaged audience enjoying the journey.  I'd trade all of those things for a cast and design team who relished the chance to throw themselves into the black hole of putting on the play.   We can’t afford the razzle dazzle of a big Broadway production, so we must find the heart.  We must find a way into the story using the resources at hand, and the geniuses inside our actors, designers, directors, and staff.  If you’ve seen a particular play before, we want you to see it again -- Our way. 

As I look back on the past year, and ahead to the next, I'm very happy with where BoHo is situated.  The response to PIPPIN was thrilling, a real crowd-pleaser but also a rewarding adventure for the cast and company.  As I write this we have STRIKING 12 playing, TARTUFFE rehearsing, THE RAINMAKER fully cast and in the design phase, and I'm currently hiring the FLOYD COLLINS production team.  Not to mention, we're also reading a huge stack of plays as we decide on the next season. 

The work never ends…but neither do the rewards.

-- Peter Blair, Executive Director of BoHo Theatre. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

STRIKING 12: Here's what they are saying!

This weekend, BoHo Theatre was thrilled to celebrate the opening of STRIKING 12, the un-holiday, holiday spectacular at the Heartland Studio Theatre in Roger's Park. 

Kris Vire, the theater editor for Time Out Chicago tweeted, "BoHo's STRIKING 12 is one of the most charming shows I've seen this year."

BoHo was also ecstatic to welcome back old friend and Chicago Chef, Rick Bayless who said STRIKING 12 was a "FUN and refreshing holiday show!"

... and one of our loyal Facebook followers said, "My wife...and I went to see the show on Saturday evening. When she was a little girl, my wife used to listen to this story on her mom's antique LP record, the story was so moving to her, that she couldn't contain [herself] and she'd always break into tears. She never expected to hear this story more than 30 years after, on a more vibrant version of the little match girl. It was a very enjoyable show!"

So what are you waiting for?! Reserve your tickets to STRIKING 12 and come see for yourself what Around the Town called "a powerful cast [that] brings us laughs and joy through unique storytelling - 87 minutes of pure magic..."

STRIKING 12 runs through January 1st at the Heartland Studio Theatre in Roger's Park. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by going to our website at

Friday, December 2, 2011

Doesn't Anybody Need Some Light Tonight? from Amy Steele

"Doesn't anybody need some light tonight?"

  • a green light.
  • a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • light on a cell phone, iPad, laptop.
  • starlight, star bright...

This lyric from STRIKING 12 can be taken many different ways:  A simple question, a desperate plea, an angry remark, a friendly offering. In the stories of STRIKING 12 I believe that all of these are fair interpretations. This line has the potential to go beyond it's initial interpretation and can truly mean a number of things. I leave it up to the listener to take it how they please. 

In the same way, understanding the story of Striking 12 is really left up to the audience.  What I love about this show is the fact that everyone who sees this show can truly take something different away from it. From the individual personalities of the cast members to the classic Hans Christan Anderson story to the modern day overworked/underpayed/stressful holiday attitude, the audience has limitless ways to connect and make the story personal to them. (The catchy music doesn't hurt, either!) 

Personally, I am honored to be sharing this wonderful show again and it's many beautiful messages. It is a real treat to be a part of a show where the actors are the musicians, the story is both fiction and real life, and the audience is  involved in every scripted and  improvised moment.

I hope this show can continue to bring people happiness and light this holiday season.

-- Amy Steele is delighted to be back playing the violin as the Little Match Girl with BoHo. Happy holidays to all!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Striking 12: The Perfect Holiday Show!

The holidays, for my money, are about tradition.  STRIKING 12 feels even more special to me this year, because in its second year, it is becoming a part of my personal holiday tradition. 

I think it’s interesting how, as adults, we start to create our own sense of ritual.  From “Orphan Thanksgivings”, to accompanying a significant other to a holiday meal for the first time…we begin to break through the barriers of childhood and start to discover the traditions that are truly our own.  Of course, the flips side is that we leave the safety of those light-filled, gift-laden, fuzzy around the edges memories and begin to understand the complexities of holiday emotions.  We start to realize that Aunt Betty wasn’t really all that happy. Her boisterous laughter was mostly the product of one (or six) too many glasses of eggnog.  We feel the sting of loneliness, the first time we can’t make it home for the holidays because of work or weather.  And why does heartache seem to accompany this season? Breakups always seem worse when they happen around a holiday.  More adult fun to look forward to, kids.

It’s no wonder my personal holiday punch bowl is filled with one part love, two parts cynicism, a dash of hope and several shots of rum. It’s the only way I can make it through.  And, always, ALWAYS, there is a soundtrack playing in the background.  Music is as much a part of the tradition as anything else. In my house, it was folk and rock and the great singer-songwriter music of the 70’s and 80’s.  I will take Joni Mitchell, singing “River” over the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, “Sleigh Ride” any day of the week.

STRIKING 12 is the perfect holiday show for me, because it is the culmination of all of the things that I embrace during this season.  It’s a little depressed but a lot hopeful.  And the depressing isn’t too depressed, and the hopeful isn’t too precious, because it’s so damn funny.  It’s genuine and a little raw in its examination of a basic, personal, contemporary story.  It also honors the tradition of great literature; but pulls out a story that is beautiful within pain and longing, ultimately ending in the understanding that love is warmth and comfort and peace. AND all of this is wrapped up in a package decorated with some of the best music you will ever hear, holiday or otherwise.

My hope is that you’ll see the show and that it fulfills both your childlike wonder and your adult longing. May Striking 12 worm its awesome little way into your heart, to become a part of your holiday tradition, as it has mine.
-- Lara Filip is a well-know Chicago Singer, Actress and Director.  Her next stage appearance will be in Legally Blonde at The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire and her band project, Birdie Wing, is in pre-production for its debut CD.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Does Anybody Need Some Light Tonight?

Does anybody need some light tonight?
This line appears many times in STRIKING 12, BoHo’s un-holiday-musical, un-spectacular as Hans Christian Anderson’s “Little Match Girl” tries to sell matches on New Years Eve.  For me, STRIKING 12 is not about holiday spirit or Christmas miracles.  It’s about a guy realizing he isn't better off alone.  It’s about a group of people interacting onstage to make something together.  The relationships and interactions you’ll see in STRIKING 12 are real, which has been my favorite part of the process.  I have so much real fun with the other members of the cast that it just feels like I’m hanging out with friends, jamming through some songs, and we just so happen to have a great story to tell. 

Lara and Diana, our director and music director, have created this vibe from the beginning.  Our rehearsals have been as much about getting to know each other and finding new ways to play off of each other as they’ve been about cleaning the details of the show.  One leads to the other anyway, right? 
This show is as much a rock concert as it is a musical.  My continually developing relationships with the rest of the cast are as important to the cleanliness of the music and clarity of the message as anything.

So, does anybody need some light tonight?  To me this means another person, an interaction, a real relationship.  That’s what the players of STRIKING 12 are looking for, and that’s something that we find in each other over the course of each run-through.  We find it through our characters, our music, and ourselves.  
I can’t wait until we get to find it with an audience as well.  

Now the real question: do you need some light tonight?  Allow us.
-- Jed Feder is a Chicago based percussionist, actor, and composer.  He makes his BoHo debut with STRIKING 12.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Striking 12 is quite a gem!"

Serving as the music director for Boho's STRIKING 12 has been great fun.  Firstly, the show itself is a fun, well-written show, which is unfortunately hard to come by in a modern musical, especially a holiday-type.  Whatever you may think of Rogers and Hammerstein and the other grandfathers of musical theatre, you have to agree that they were consummate craftsmen who put lots of time and thought into the structure of a melody or a lyric.  As much as I love modern pop and rock (that is, I listen to it, play it and write it), it's often produced by people who don't value such craftsmanship, and that sloppiness (yeah, I said it) can bleed over into modern pop/rock musicals.  And for some reason, some amount of sloppiness can work in pop, but I just don't think it works in musicals...  but I digress...

Luckily, STRIKING 12 is definitely not a sloppy show.  GrooveLilly found a way to combine a pop, sensibility and a clever, well-crafted musical, while still keeping it light and fun to watch.

So sure, the show is great, but Boho's cast is the real thing to go see.  They are amazingly talented, as musicians, singers and actors, the new triple threat for an emerging genre of musicals.  Most importantly, they have lots of fun, with the show and with each other, and therefore, so does everyone watching them.  

This production of STRIKING 12 is quite a gem.  

Go, why don't you?

-- Diana Lawrence is a singer, songwriter, pianist and music director based in Chicago. She has performed at venues ranging from Symphony Center and the Auditorium Theatre to the Green Mill and the Double Door. She is the Musical Director for Striking 12.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Join Us for a Special New Years Eve Event

Ring in the new year with BoHo Theatre! On New Year’s Eve, BoHo will present a special holiday performance of Striking 12 featuring a post-show party. Join the performers and crew of Striking 12 onstage along with BoHo company members for a complimentary champagne toast to kick off 2012 in style.

This special performance is at 8:00pm on December 31st. Tickets are $30.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Up Next: Striking 12

 This weekend, BoHo Theatre will say a teary good-bye to Pippin. It's been an absolute privilege to share this journey with you, our audience members and we hope you enjoyed watching the production as much as we enjoy producing it. If you haven't yet had the chance to see this Jeff Recommended musical, there's still time!

Next Up: BoHo Theatre's hit holiday musical Striking 12 returns to the Heartland Studio in Rogers Park for another year of toe-tapping cheer. From the funk-rock trio GrooveLily and Rachel Sheinkin, the Tony-awarding winning writer of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Striking 12 is an inventive concert/musical that is the perfect way to spend a cold winter night in Chicago this holiday season.

This musical experience is an uplifting combination of art, performance, and celebration that embodies the four BoHo pillars of Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love in equal parts. Thanks to overwhelming response from our audiences at last year's production of Striking 12, BoHo is bringing the show back as an annual non-mainstage holiday production. Last year Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones called BoHo's Striking 12 "a match for those who hate holiday musicals... this is a score with tunes that float around the room and lyrics that are able to get inside your head."

Tickets are on sale now and we look forward to ringing in the holiday season with an un-holiday celebration!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

There's still time....

Good Morning -

Can you believe it is November already? It seems like only yesterday we were gearing up for the opening of Pippin, and now we are watching Macy's put up their holiday display.

While many are already ramping up for the holidays, there is still time to enjoy the magic of Pippin.  Check out this interview with Chicago Theatre Review, featuring our own Shaun Nathan Baer (it even includes a live performance of Corner of the Sky!)

And if that doesn't convince you just see what our critics are saying:

Don't miss your chance to see the BoHo's Jeff Recommended production of Pippin, now playing at Theater Wit.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who attended the Second Sunday Reception at Cooper's Chicago!

On Sunday, October 23rd, BoHo celebrated its first "Second Sunday" promotion and celebrated the success of Pippin. We were sponsored by Cooper's Chicago, who was able to offer our patrons free food and cash bar. Patrons were able to connect and network with members of the cast and creative team of the show - and learn more about the fun activities BoHo has planned for the remainder of our season.

It's not too late to see Pippin - playing at Theater Wit through November 13th. Get your tickets today and share in the magic of BoHo.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Audition Techniques - From BoHo Casting Coordinator, Stephanie Sullivan

I always get so excited when we begin the casting process for our next show....  It's the beginning of the birthing process, a time when anything is possible and when you wonder what your baby will look like.  It's also a heck of a lot of work (more so than what most might imagine) which is why, over time, I've focused a lot of my energy on finding the best, easiest, most actor-friendly way of making it all happen.  As an actor myself, it's easy for me to step into those shoes and then find solutions to the many, wonderful hurdles that come up. 

The result of this streamlining process is an online sign-up format.  Actors can visit the sign-up web page, choose a time that is convenient for them, and then come back to the site and make changes, if need be.  I've recently changed the way the sign-ups appear when visiting the page (after much debate) so that actor names are displayed publicly.  An actor can choose to display their full name or simply put a first name and last initial - in other words, you can still remain somewhat anonymous if you choose, and this is what ultimately made me feel comfortable about the decision.  The biggest downfall to this website is that actors don't get a confirmation email once they've signed up.  I used to consistently get emails from actors who'd forgotten what their audition time was, and now they can go back and check!

Over the last couple of years we've been fortunate to always have amazing turnouts at auditions and we've always believed in giving everyone equal opportunity to audition.  People have asked me if we ever do invites, and the answer is yes.  On occasion we will make sure to invite certain actors, who've worked with us in the past or who have been recommended to us, if we feel they might be appropriate for a role.  That being said, if you aren't invited, it doesn't mean we aren't interested!  One of the many wonderful things about always doing a general audition for each show is that we are introduced to new faces all the time.  I'm also equally excited by the number of old friends that come back because it's wonderful to see the growth in people: how they've changed or matured, and what they're capable of in new contexts.

My hope is that the audition process is always a positive one for the actor, each and every time.  BoHo prides itself on being very actor-friendly and we truly do value and respect the time that people put into preparing for an audition.  I do my best to notify people of their status in a timely fashion because I know how much it sucks not to hear back at all.  I also try to remind actors that if casting didn't work to their advantage this time, it isn't personal.  I trust that actors already know this, but it helps to hear it again.  There are many, many factors outside of an actor's control and the competition is always extremely fierce at BoHo auditions.  

Stay tuned, though. In my next post, I'll talk about tips that will serve as good "general audition reminders" for everyone, and I'll also delve into some tips of a more subjective nature, that are specific to BoHo's audition process.

-- Stephanie Sullivan is the co-Casting Coordinator for the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble. She along with Rebecca Mauldin oversee the casting process for all BoHo shows.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Specials, Specials, Specials

It’s almost time for Week 2 of Pippin and we wanted to make sure you knew about BoHo’s special offers and savings:

- On Sunday, October 23rd, BoHo is celebrating its Second Sunday. Enter the codeword MAGIC when ordering your tickets and you will receive $5 off your ticket price.

- Also on Sunday, October 23rd, BoHo is hosting a reception at Cooper’s Chicago, located at 1232 W Belmont, across the street from Theater Wit. Patrons will enjoy complimentary food and cash bar. We encourage all our patrons from the Sunday matinee to come, eat and celebrate BoHo!

- Lastly, did you know that your ticket stub and program get you a 10% discount at Cooper’s Chicago? It’s our way of saying thanks for supporting local theater in Lakeview.

Tickets are available through BoHo’s website - we hope to see you soon!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thank you for Supporting BoHo!

Thank you to everyone who came out to support the opening weekend of Pippin. This weekend, we had the pleasure of sharing our opening with a sold out house. Friends and family gathered to enjoy food and drinks at Cooper's - Chicago. Tickets are going fast! So don't forget to order yours today and come share the magic of Pippin.

Peter Blair, Executive Director of BoHo with
cast member, Gabriel Stern.

BoHo Company Member, Rebecca Mauldin
with Opening Night Audience Member.
Travis Porchia with
BoHo Board Member, Robert Turner.
Members of the cast of Pippin,Tyler Sawyer Smith and Gabriel Stern.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Break a Leg, Cast and Crew!

The Bohemian Theatre Ensemble would like to wish the Cast and Crew a happy opening weekend! If you missed your chance to secure a ticket for this weekend, you can still  reserve one for next weekend and join the fun.

    As a reminder, you are invited to join us at Cooper’s Chicago on Saturday, October 15th to celebrate the opening weekend of Pippin. Patrons will enjoy a 10% discount on food with cash bar and the opportunity to connect and celebrate our opening with the cast and creative team. We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: From Assistant Director, Anna Hammonds

I have lately become fascinated with how process works when an actor is fighting for the life a character during rehearsals.  With the great opportunity to assist for Boho's up-coming production of Pippin, I have a front row seat to the actors working through their process.  They are doing a fantastic job of staying focused and professional, and I am delighted to see them really fight for the character's journey.  

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this rehearsal process is seeing actors Shaun Nathan Baer and Travis Porchia define the dynamic between their two characters.  Playing Pippin and Leading Player, respectively, they carry the weight of the show on their shoulders.  And they are doing so with grace, concern and the utmost care.  There is a sort of protectiveness that happens when an actor truly cares for his or her character.  I believe all the actors in Pippin are doing an amazing job of protecting the integrity of the playwright's intention, while crafting a unique and different take that is all their own.  

The journey has been amazing thus far, and everyone's process has been so enlightening to watch.  Director Peter Marston Sullivan's vision for the show has been inspiring to watch unfold, and Brenda Didier's choreography has made me squeal in rehearsal.  And I'm not kidding.  A couple of times she has asked what was wrong when such outbursts occur, to which I can only reply, "It just looks so good. I can't wait."  And that is the truth.  I can't wait for our audience to join us.

For more information on BoHo's production of Pippin, please visit our website and don't forget to buy your tickets. We look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: Pippin

When I used to think of Pippin, I always thought of Ben Vereen, Fosse, and all these great songs that were fun, engaging but overall presentational. After reading the script, however, I saw the music and the character of Pippin very differently. Instead of a young man bouncing from experience to experience, as I expected, I found a man who is so desperate to achieve something “more” that he is nearly consumed by it. I found a real character who keeps trying new ways to achieve “success” and running head-first into a brick wall. 

This process is really fascinating for me because, as I explore Pippin through memorization, staging, and choreography, I’m finding that Pippin is teaching me a thing or two about Shaun. One of Pippin’s biggest challenges is his inability to savor a particular moment. His focus on achieving an “amazing future” blocks him from the reality of his present until it’s too late and the moment has passed him by. 

When juggling performances, rehearsals, part-time jobs, a relationship, a budget, laundry, etc…it can be really easy to miss a moment in lieu of trying to get it all done. Acting teachers talk about the concept of using personal experiences to inform your performance. But I’m finding that as I think along these lines, the lessons Pippin learns are informing my day-to-day experiences as well. 

Additionally, the chemistry between every member of this cast is just astonishing. Everyone is so present and is able to give so much in each scene, which makes slipping into this role and this world so wonderful. Pippin is trying to find the answers to questions that we all have about our lives, which are, “Does my life have meaning? What is that meaning? How do I find it?” Everyone he meets has a different answer and everyone I’m working with gives so much to fuel his journey. There is an energy that’s building from rehearsal to rehearsal and it just keeps getting stronger and brighter. I can’t wait to see what happens tonight.

-- Shaun Nathan Baer, originally from Oak Park, IL, returned to Chicago in 2008 after performing in Minnesota for several years. Member and co-founder of Catalyst Cabaret and dedicated Star Trek fanatic for twenty-four years.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: How to Build an Ensemble

My process of finding my character in Pippin has been very exciting for me. As one of the three ensemble women, I’ve had a lot of freedom thanks to our wonderful director, to play and explore who my Player will become. I initially thought about where my character encounters Pippin in the scenes and what I was trying to do. Once I figured out what my relationship to Pippin was, I moved onto to what I was doing physically. This was a great way for me to “key in” to my character. As a dancer, physicality always helps me find who a character is and helps me inform the way they think, react, and speak.

I played around in rehearsals with how my character stands, walks, and sits and ended finding this dim, whimsical, yet charming character within that physicality. I toyed around with how she would stand and react around the leading characters, which certainly helped me find a base of who she was and how she could shift when she was around certain people. Through finding my character’s physicality, I was able to discover how my character spoke and interacted with the other players. She has a ditzy, quirky, yet alluring quality about her, which is so fun to play. I discovered that she’s not just a dumb character, but she has qualities about her that are a little scatterbrained, yet she is smart in her own way as well. She’s definitely a type of woman I thought Pippin would encounter on his journey to find himself.

The style of the character also ended up being just right for the style of show, constantly enticing, magical, and fun!

--Kelsey Andres loves Fosse, and also loves reading her horoscope way too much. She enjoys spending time with her devious puppy, Elroy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You Are Cordially Invited...

to an Opening Night Event with the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble

Where: Cooper's, located just across the street from Theater Wit
1232 W Belmont Avenue
When: Saturday, October 15th

 Join us, as we celebrate the opening of Pippin! Show your ticket stub and enjoy at 10% discount on food while enjoying the convenience of a cash bar. Come play with us and learn more about everything Boho has planned for this season!

Tickets for Pippin are on sale now ... we hope you will join us at Theater Wit on the 15th!

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: Finding Myself in the Leading Player

This has always been my dream role, not just because of how it showcases the performer playing the role, but the work he gets to do, the journey he gets to take to get to "Leading Player".  It's been amazing.  Leading Player, is the alter ego I always wish I was brave enough to let come to light.  How he moves, how he speaks, the ease with which he exists in time. It's so not me.  

I thank Peter Marston Sullivan for introducing me to what "control" means in the context of this show and to the spirit of Leading Player.  This journey to finding moments of control is very exciting for me because I've found I'm applying what I learn in rehearsal into my everyday life.  We are all are trying to find what and how we control the events in our lives.  Physical control is very powerful; moving in space on purpose, with purpose is a tactic you will see with Leading Player and I am interested to see each night how he wins or looses control.  

Everybody in this cast is so talented, and so much fun to be around.  It's a sexy cast.  It's a sexy show.  Thinking about them makes me want to put down this slice of pie and go run on the treadmill for an hour.  Enough said.  

I can't say enough about how humbled I am by this experience. It's athletic, it's sensual, sexy, scary, thought provoking and most of all - FUN! 
Come see it. 
Trust me, you want to!
Travis Michael Porchia is a native of Detroit, active list maker, current cat owner, and lover of Marvel Comics. He currently lives in Hyde Park.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: An Extraordinary Definition

I've never seen Pippin.  My only exposure to this show was in high school (so very long ago).  I saw a musical review where "Corner of the Sky" was performed.  The song had quite an effect on me, especially at that time in my life.  "The world is my oyster, and my young life is filled with optimistic possibilities!  I think I'm meant to search for 'extraordinary', and goddamn it, I'm gonna find it!" I am now - older, cynical and downtrodden.  No, I kid...but I know what it feels like to wake up with doubt and lay my head down at night feeling beaten.  When cast as Catherine, I was filled with immediate anxiety, remembering the hope I felt when the play first made its impact on me, and now getting the chance to take a stab at it as the woman I've become.  Do I still feel like there's something special out there waiting for me?  How do I approach this adventure with the scars I've gained?  

I think what's so beautiful about this play is that every single character has a different definition of "extraordinary".  This isn't just of story of a boy finding his purpose.  Anyone could do that with a little determination.  But in this world of ours, and Pippin's, we come in contact with different folks everyday that shape, change and define who we are.  Even if our dreams remain intact, we never know who is going to turn the corner and possibly alter our outlook.  And what I love about our director's approach to this Pippin is that we aren't presenting one-dimensional musical theatre caricatures that dance some Fosse and sing some Schwartz.  Peter urges us to fill this world with complicated, confused, multi-faceted and imperfect human beings each searching for their own definition of "extraordinary", all the while effecting one another and navigating/educating/seducing/accompanying Pippin along his way.   The more complex our characters are, the more marvelous, passionate, and entertaining the journey will hopefully be to our corners of the sky.  That's our ambition, anyway...  

So far, my road as Catherine has been paved with a combination of frustration and surprising realizations.  I'm trying to embrace her/my flaws and always be aware of her/my wounds while I continue the search.  And I'm thrilled this is my first full experience with this play.  I wouldn't want to have created Catherine as the hopeful, young, optimist I used to be.  Where the heck is the fun in that?

-- Dana Tretta has been an actress in Chicago for the past 8 years.  She loves to pet and hug as many dogs as possible and attempt cooking with her friend, Bethany Thomas.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: My Artistic Transition

It's funny, because the corner of the sky I have discovered is different then where I thought it would be. That transition happened in college when I met my mentor - Linde Herman who was my professor.  I had always wanted to act, but it was through her that I gained a love and respect for the craft, and the art of being a teacher.  She directed the children's shows at our college and that’s where my love for that began - because whatever Linde did was gold in my eyes!    I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would have my very own theatre company- Li'l Buds, never mind a children's theatre company at that! And to have a performance career as well as having the privilege to pass on the craft (and love of the arts) to children and possibly future performers?  Well, that's a corner of the sky that was way higher than I was reaching for.

All actors have their dream roles and Pippin is a show I have always wanted to do. I never thought I would be Fastrada, though. I had only dreamed of being in the ensemble because I loved the music - and the Fosse!  It's such a challenge to take on roles were created by iconic performers like Chita Rivera.  However, the same story can be told in different ways by different people, and the process of finding my Fastrada has been influenced by the storytellers: Director, Peter Marston Sullivan and Choreographer, Brenda Didier. My sense of discovery continues to be influenced by the creative themes as well as my scene partners.  I still have a long way to go, but I can see my Fastrada in that corner of the sky.

Jenny Lamb (@ripskintinkle ) is a Chicago actress  co-founder and Artistic Director of Li'l Buds Theatre Company and a Teaching Artist at Second City. She will be playing the role of Fastrada in Pippin.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: A Part Worth Waiting For...

In 1981, The Grand Blanc High School escorted Theatre Department to a little road trip to the University of Detroit.  We were going to see a musical I had heard about but knew little about – Pippin .  And boy, did I like it.  I bought the LP (which I still have), the book of musical selections from the show (now completely tattered), and put it on my list of shows I simply had to do one day.

Thirty years later, the opportunity has finally arrived. Back then, I wanted to play the Leading Player or Pippin but I figured when the time came, I would probably play Charlemagne (Charles The Great).  Once a character actor, always a character actor I guess…

It is very interesting to play a character with such an illustrious and expansive history.  As an actor, I must carry that knowledge into rehearsals and see how the real history affects my work and the actors portraying my characters' family, the soldiers, and subjects.  Then, I must embrace the characters' good side (demanding excellent education for his children) and his bad side (the man liked war and all its spoils).  And finally, throw in some singing and dancing and make it all work - absolutely no pressure.

Of course, this production will give me the extra bonus of exploring the feminine side of Charles – I’d tell you more, but it’s a surprise.  This is a challenging prospect that you probably should not miss.

So my long wait is over to do this show.
I’m singing glorious music and playing a character bigger than life.
And I couldn’t be happier!

Won't you join us?
-- Michael Kingston
has been in Chicago for 20+ years and is pleased to be making his third appearance with Boho. Turn ons include: novels by Augusten Burroughs, total schlock on the SyFy Channel, and a good Maker's Mark Manhattan.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Welcome to Our 2011-2012 Season

Summer has officially come to an end in Chicago - and as everyone pulls out their sweaters in preparation for the change in season, the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble is anxiously awaiting the kick-off of their 2011-2012 Production Season at Theater Wit. The summer was an amazing assortment of activity for our company and board. After enjoying a wonderful run of Icarus, BoHo welcomed new friends along with some familiar faces to our Annual Benefit, the Skyview Soiree. Our attendees were able to enjoy good food, silent raffle items which were donated by local artists and a beautiful entertainment series from past shows. We also were invited to revive Big River for our friends at Theater on the Lake which played five performances to a spectacular group of Theater Lovers.  

And now, it’s time to focus on what’s next.
On behalf of the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, I want to say thank you for your constant support of Chicago’s theater community. We look forward to seeing you at the theater!


By Stephen Schwartz
Directed by Peter Marston Sullivan
October 14 - November 13, 2011

What does it mean to live an extraordinary life? This is the question that drives Pippin through the adventures of war, sex, politics and love -- all the while guided by the malicious hand of the Leading Player. While the Players strive to steer Pippin towards the perfect, theatrically tragic end of his story, Pippin begins to discover what it truly means to be extraordinary in our world.

By Moliere, Adapted by Ranjit Bolt
Directed by Peter Robel
January 13 – February 12, 2012

Moliere’s scandalous farce crackles with humor and wit in Ranjit Bolt’s modern-language adaptation. When the patriarch of a wealthy falls under the spell of Tartuffe, a con-man masquerading as a man of God, his family goes to hilarious lengths to show him the error of his ways. But it seems the cunning Tartuffe is always one step ahead of the game…   

The Rainmaker
By N. Richard Nash
Directed by Stephen Genovese
April 6 – May 6, 2012

Saddled to a failing cattle ranch in the Dust Bowl with a family of menfolk, Lizzy Curry has just about given up hope of finding love and escape. But when a charming trickster named Starbuck breezes into town promising to bring rain for $100, Lizzy’s father gives the man the last of the family’s savings, knowing that what he has to offer them, and Lizzy, is more than just rain. The Rainmaker is a classic American stale of the power of hope during hard times.

Floyd Collins
A musical by Tina Landau and Adam Guettel
Directed by Peter Marston Sullivan
June 15 – July 15, 2012

In January of 1925, celebrated Kentucky explorer Floyd Collins was searching for a cave system whose tourist draw would make his family rich. Instead, he became trapped in a narrow crawl-way 55 feet below ground. His family’s rescue attempts quickly create a national media circus, and rescue begins to take a backseat to profit. This true story features a musical style drawn from authentic bluegrass, folk, and Americana.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An Interview With The Team Behind Icarus

We asked the cast and crew of BoHos's 2010/2011 Season closer Icarus about challenges that the show has brought to the table. We hoped to get a glimpse into how each person has faced those challenges and embraced them!

Tom Chiola (Mr. Ellis) answered:
"What's challenging about playing a character who lives under the porch with his stuffed cat and has a suitcase full of tell me! Which is better/worse—having the painful memory of a lost loved one or forgetting him/her altogether?—that's part of Mr. Ellis' dilemma."

Nicolas Gamboa (Primitivo) answered:
"The biggest challenge will definitely have to be doing flips and break dancing. Primitivo and I share an addiction to imagination that connects us deeply. But the biggest connection I find with the character is how we both put family above all."

BoHo presents Edwin Sanchez's IcarusDirector P. Marston Sullivan answered:
One of the most challenging aspects to directing this show is allowing the myth of Icarus to expose itself almost naturally, rather than focusing too much on broadcasting the inner meaning behind every moment.  There is the element of myth, of grandeur, of beauty and love; but it is hidden within the story in a manner that should be brought out with great craft and care.  Finding the reality of the characters, the great need and desire that each of them have - that is the key to bringing this story to life.  Sanchez has provided us with a very distinct and powerful framework, and a quintet of characters that are almost so odd they are hard to believe.  Making them real and believable, however, is what makes the show so emotionally powerful.  Finding the reality of the characters and entwining those realities with the mythological framework is the great challenge in Icarus.

Scenic Designer Sally Weiss answered:
For starters, it takes place on a beach, so the big question from the beginning was how do we create a beach? We don't have the means to bring in tons of sand, so we played with a number of options of suggesting sand and beach.  Peter, the director, wanted the space to feel intimate, since we're exploring very personal stories, but also wanted the expansive feeling of the beach and horizon.  In the end, we decided to allow the natural elements of beach and sky to fill the space, but keep the architecture of the porches intimate and clean.

Icarus run June 24 - July 24 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago. Visit the BoHo Theatre website for tickets and more information.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How does BoHo choose its seasons?

It’s that time of year again. You can almost feel it in your bones as the daylight grows longer and snow begins to melt. Yes, once again, we find ourselves gearing up for that most sacred of yearly theatrical rituals, second only to the annual benefit or fund drive. It’s season announcement time! The company elders, having spent weeks locked away in seclusion, have sent up the plume of white smoke, and it is time to ring the bells and proclaim to the world: we have a plan for next season!

Choosing a season for a theatre company is, make no mistake, an arduous task. It is filled with hours of reading and piles of submissions. In some companies, decisions are made based on opportunities for their resident ensemble. Some choose their seasons by their expected budget, planning spectacles when funds are high and one-person shows when they are not, or choosing known crowd-pleasers when the budget is tight and riskier fare when they can afford to alienate a few regulars. Every season must reflect the mission of the company and, hopefully, growth in some way.

BoHo has quite a unique structure for choosing plays. We’ve always advertised our core principles alongside our mission and vision; those principles are the bedrock of the Bohemian philosophy: Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love. Beginning in the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble’s third year, the company has chosen four plays per season, with each play corresponding to one of our four pillars. Certainly, no play worth staging has only ONE dominant theme, but we choose the theme we wish to cast light on in any given selection.

Simple, right? Oh, we’re just getting started. In addition to the four pillars, BoHo requires a season to contain four genres: a play, a musical, a language-driven piece, and an eclectic piece. This often results in two musicals (or a musical and a play in which musical plays an integral part, such as this season’s Dirty Blonde), and two non-musicals. The language slot was originally designated for classics, but that category become limiting, so it was expanded to a more general idea. On top of this, the company must consider if a selection fits the general BoHo aesthetic, and if the rights are even available and affordable. In some ways, all these requirements can appear constricting, but they also demand that BoHo stays eclectic, artistic, and always in search of new and unique work.

The season selection committee is chaired by the Associate Artistic Director, and all company members are welcome to participate, with the requirement that any participant must enter the process with AT LEAST a full season or more for consideration. Often, participants bring upwards of 20 plays apiece. You see how this becomes a massive undertaking? The committee then enters into several arduous rounds of reading and spirited discussion (and passionate oratory and dismissive rhetoric). According to AAD Peter Robel, one memorable incident from about four years ago occurred when a committee member's reaction upon reading a show was to bluntly state, "This is shit." A succinct phrase, which has now become regular parlance in the selection process.

Once there is a final list of less than 20, the team of the Artistic Director, Associate Artistic Director, and the Executive Director recluse themselves to make the final choices. And when the decision is finalized, we throw a party, because what is more appropriate in the art world than throwing a party to display the fruits of your intense labor? In fact, we’re throwing just such a party this upcoming Monday, February 21st, at Cooper’s across from Theater Wit. We’d love to see you there, so check out our website or Facebook page for more info.

So that’s how BoHo does it: with verve, determination, and swearing. But everyone’s process is different. Got a story to tell? Let us know!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Elephant Man Actor Blog, Part 2: "When I Reach It, I'll Know"

We continue our series of behind-the-scenes glimpses from actor Mike Tepeli, who is playing John Merrick, the title character in BoHo's production of The Elephant Man, opening January 7th.

"Listening. Every professor, actor, and good director will talk about it. Its such a basic concept, and yet it’s the most difficult ‘phase’ of the process to reach. If my process were laid out in a pyramid, with the foundation being script work; the middle being movement work, acting exercises, and every tool we use to explore; the cap stone is simply listening. Everything else is used to inform how you react.

"This final stage always takes me a while to get to, but that’s why we rehearse, and why it’s called a rehearsal process; characters mature over time, and if I keep grinding along eventually I’ll reach ‘the moment’ That’s when I stop thinking about how things ‘work’; I’m not focusing on how Merrick moves, or how he talks, or how he gets from any point A to any point B. I’m just listening to my fellow actors, and reacting. I mean this in the most humble sounding way, but I know that moment happens because it’s explosive. Others may not even notice it, but I’ll know. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m beginning to feel it. For now, lets just say it’s a series of tiny pops, that I’m hoping will become a large bang. I just gotta trust I’ll get there."

-Mike Tepeli, Dec 3.
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