No snowflake cliches

November 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

From our 2012 production of A Christmas Carol

From our 2012 production of A Christmas Carol

Guest post from A Christmas Carol director Micky York

This is my seventh Metropolis Christmas Carol. And even though each one has been different (If I were the type to use obvious holiday cliches, I might have compared each production to a snowflake. Luckily, I’m not like that.), it’s hard to not say, “This is how we did it last year” or “Once, we did it this way.” That’s just the way it is with a show that has become such an annual tradition.

For the last two years, we’ve worked with a new adaptation by resident playwright, Scott Woldman. I was heavily involved with the development of the script, as composer and music director, for those first two new productions. During those years, we on the production team were really able to experiment and try out new things and see what worked—and what didn’t. Scenes or bits of staging were reworked. Songs that were in the first production didn’t make it in the following year. (Actually, there are a few new songs this year too, but that’s just because no one is around to tell me not to do it.) The luxury of having Woldman around is that we can say “Hey, I’d like to add this bit of action or change around this bit of dialogue…can you make that happen?” and he’ll make a random idea fit into the framework of the story.

With any production, a director attempts to bring in something new, to put their own spin on things. And—don’t worry—I’m definitely doing that. But we also know the importance of tradition in a story like A Christmas Carol. So we’ve gone back to the original text and added some great new moments to the script. The moment Scrooge realizes it’s Christmas morning is a big one, and I hope those audience members who love that scene will be pleased to see it again.

And speaking of tradition, I’m still trying to figure out how I can bring these chickens back from 2009. Stay tuned.

A tribute to The Mother Road

October 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

IMG_1515This is the second year that Tom and Carol DeBartolo of Schaumburg have been Subscribers at Metropolis. This year, the Metropolis Subscription Series kicks off with the jukebox musical Route 66 – and Tom and Carol were particularly excited for this show. As it turns out, Carol likes to decorate the DeBartolo garage with a theme. The latest theme: Route 66.

Carol just had to let us know of the coincidence and she was kind enough to share some photos of her newly redecorated garage. (See more below)

Previously, Carol had created a sunny skied beach, complete with sand, in the garage. But she said it was looking “tired” and they needed a change.

“I thought, what better than Route 66 for a decorated garage,” Carol said. “There are hand drawn caricatures, Route 66 memorabilia, photos of Route 66 destinations, and photos of all the cars we’ve ever owned.”

Tom and Carol also raved about Metropolis’ production of Route 66, noting that they really enjoyed the show, especially the music.

Looking for even more Route 66 memories? Come see the show (running through October 20) or stop by our lobby to check out our new visual arts display featuring photographs from along Route 66 by David Kay Images, Ltd.

 

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Landmarks

July 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Lend Me A Tenor, 2009

Lend Me A Tenor, 2009

As we’ve just wrapped up our 13th season, we decided to take a look back to see some of what we’ve accomplished since opening our doors in 2000.

We’ve had 5,054 performances of 674 different productions including musicals, comedies, dramas, new works, classics, concerts (of too many varieties to name!), dance, stand-up, improv, recitals, showcases, and student performances. We’ve sold just shy of 900,000 tickets to all those performances (894,385 tickets to be exact).

As a non-profit, we’re proud to have had 7,102 individuals and companies donate to us throughout the years. A big thanks to these generous folks – we truly couldn’t do what we do without your support.

Even with all these great accomplishments, we still believe the best is yet to come! We’re so excited for our 2013-14 season and can’t wait to share all the amazing shows we have in store with you.

10 things you didn’t know about Michael & Angela Ingersoll

June 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Metropolis is proud to welcome home our favorite Jersey Boy Michael Ingersoll, along with his adorable wife Angela. The pair are set to serenade MPAC audiences Saturday, June 22, with their hilarious and heartwarming concert My Baby Just Cares For Me. In anticipation of the big night, we caught up with Michaelangela (can we call them by their celebrity couple name?) at home in Los Angeles to collect some juicy facts you may not know. A big thanks to Michael and Angela for compiling this fun facts and the great images!

1. Their stars are in alignment.

Michael is a Libra. Keyword: Balance.

Libra is a diplomat, oozing with social charm, who seeks harmony. This devoted partner is a great communicator and sensitive listener. He is creative and quick to grasp ideas. Ruled by Venus, everything he touches has a hint of romance. Yet because Mr. Balance laboriously weighs all sides of an issue, everything is a big freaking deal and he is totally stressed out. Don’t be so judgey, Libra; you can’t please everyone. Famous Libras include Ed Sullivan, John Lennon, George Gershwin, and Mahatma Gandhi.

Angela is a Leo. Keyword: Courage.

Ruled by the Sun, Leo shines brightly. She loves being the center of attention, expressing a child-like zest for life. The big-hearted Lioness is brimming with compassion, generosity, and a fierce sense of loyalty. Lucky Leo has impeccable timing and exudes a style all her own. Sound like a handful? Sure is. Major newsflash, Leo, YOU ARE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. Now please stop cutting other people off in conversation all the time. Famous Leos include: Lucille Ball, Mae West, Gracie Allen, and Madonna.

2. They may be able to break into your house.

You know the Ingersolls are no strangers to the Metropolis stage, but how well do you really know them?

Sure, they appeared here in the hilarious musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Heck, you may even remember that was Michael’s last show before he was cast in the life-changing mega-hit…

JERSEY BOYS! He played over 1,300 performances as Nick Massi of The Four Seasons to sold out crowds in San Fransisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

You probably even recall that during his Jersey Boys tenure, Michael dedicated his Monday nights off from his busy Broadway in Chicago schedule to launch his solo concert right here at Metropolis. The show was wildly popular, full of surprises, and sold out 18 command performances. In addition to entertaining, Michael and Angela offered free workshops to students and raised ten of thousands of dollars for Metropolis theatrical and arts education programs.

You see, eventually former Mayor Arlene Mulder got in on the act. Mulder joined Michael on the Metropolis stage during one these concerts and declared him Arlington Heights’ adopted son. She then presented him with a KEY TO THE CITY. You may wonder, “What exactly does this key open?” “How well do I really know this guy?” “Has my security been compromised?” Only time will tell.

3. Michael is one more reason Public Television rocks.

Following his massive success in Jersey Boys, Michael rallied a few of his fellow Four Seasons to start his own band, Under the Streetlamp. The group is hailed as America’s favorite retro rock sensation, and they’ve got the numbers to prove it. Streetlamp’s breakout concert special on PBS has been seen by over 100 million viewers nationwide. That’s 1 in 3 Americans! But it’s just the beginning. The crooners are currently polishing their moves in preparation for their second PBS special. And you could be a part of the show! Stay tuned to Streetlamp’s website  and Facebook Page for your chance to attend the September filming.

4. Angela kissed Theo Huxtable.

Thank goodness for Second City Hollywood.

That’s where Angie’s childhood dream came true. Malcolm Jamal Warner, famed for playing the hilariously naive son Theo on The Cosby Show, stopped by to guest host one of Angela’s sketch comedy shows. Her mission: To write a sketch in which she could steal a peck from the crushable sitcom star. Mission: Accomplished. Hey, if it happens onstage it’s not cheating.

5. They are diehard sports fans.

“How many days is it till Football Season?” is a common refrain uttered in the Ingersoll household. For desperate sports junkies like these, life is measured in two columns: W’s and L’s. Blinded by their faith in gladiatorial heroes, the incorrigible couple actually mark the passage of time by what professional sporting event is being televised. Daily routines revolve around “Tip-Off” times. Weekly assessments of ball clubs’ accomplishments, or “Divisional Rankings” sway moods. And months of this addictive behavior escalate into a cyclical epidemic known as “Playoff Fever.” The very well being of these sorry souls is inextricably linked to the outcome of a meaningless game.

Sadly, so-called “Fantasy Sports” are just as vital. That’s right; a pretend version of an already meaningless game actually excites these people.

But seriously folks, Michael had the great honor of throwing out the first pitch for the Cubs at Wrigley Field! Watch his perfect strike, and booth interview here: http://michaelingersoll.com/comcast-sports-network/

6. They are lovers of animals.

One day, Michael will adopt the Greyhound of his dreams. But for the last ten years, the Ingersoll family has been comprised of beloved kitty companions. Meet them here:

Mr Styx – Definitely Michael’s guy. Sticky is a terribly handsome, big-boned Tuxedo. But don’t let his good looks fool you… he’s a bit of a grumpy cat. It’s just that Mr Styx is very set in his ways. But earning the trust of such a curmudgeon pays off. He’s an excellent snuggler.

Ella the Cat – Angela’s angel. This sweet little black kitty may have been the runt of her litter, but you wouldn’t know from her regal presence. Ella was a confident, graceful lady; the ultimate lap cat. She was the supreme procurer of body heat. She was extremely intuitive and kind. Ella lost her battle with cancer earlier this year and is deeply missed.

Birdie – Introducing the newest member of the family, Little Bird! This orange tabby is an irresistible charmer who delightfully chirps his way through the day. Tirelessly playful and affectionate, he always wants to be the center of attention. With such an innocent personality, he may just be the cutest cat that has ever lived.

7. They are lovers of travel.

Here are a few of their favorite destinations:

Ponte Umberto I, Rome.

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans.

South Bank, London.

Gros Islet, St. Lucia.

8. There is only one thing Michael will brag about.

Surprisingly, it is not his Second Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do…

It’s his cooking. Nothing makes Michael happier than spending hours upon hours devising a menu, shopping for the perfect ingredients, and lovingly preparing a thoughtful meal. He knows he’s good and doesn’t hesitate to prove it. Sorry, Moms, but the Thanksgiving Turkey has been taken over by the next generation. Michael’s bird is just better. His secret? BRINE.

9. There is (pretty much) only one thing Angela will brag about.

Surprisingly, it is not her multitude of acting awards…

It’s her technical savvy. When not engaged in life upon the wicked stage, Angela can often be found alone, mumbling to herself, eyes glued to a laptop. She is a self-taught web designer and digital artist. Angela’s perfectly happy to spend hours upon hours snuggled up with a good Photoshop project. She can probably help with with your computer-based woes. To her it just makes sense. Angela understands that the internet is a series of tubes, and that those tubes are filled with cats.

10. What do they miss most about Chicago?

It’s not the convenience of public transportation. Mmm… french-fry warmer.

Or the magnificence of local museums. RAWR!

Or the elegance of world-class dining. Oyster shooter, anyone?

It’s the people. Like this colorful guy at Lincoln Square’s Oktoberfest. Or the friendly staff at the Melrose Diner in Boystown. Or the random stranger named Luis who pulled over to fix Angela’s flat tire that one time on Irving Park. Every corner of Chicagoland is populated with decent, dedicated folks.

We’ll be seeing you soon, friends! -Love, The Ingersolls

Our Favorite Things: Five Course Love

June 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Amanda Bloom, Amy Malouf and Greg Foster in Five Course Love

Amanda Bloom, Amy Malouf and Greg Foster in Five Course Love

We asked the cast and director of Five Course Love to share some of their favorite moments about the show. These are just a piece of what they shared!

“I have to say that there are equal amounts of favorite moments onstage and off! It’s a whole other show backstage – changing costumes, wigs, getting roller skates on, untangling my phone cord… it’s a bundle of fun. One of my other favorite things Greg [Foster], Amanda [Bloom], Micky [York] and myself do before every show is we huddle together as a group, hug and pat each other on the back saying ‘got your back.’ It’s cool!” – Amy Malouf, actor

“There is a whole other show happening off stage. Holly (Assistant Stage Manager) and Rachel (Wardrobe Mistress) help me with a lot of my costume changes and one show we even had to switch out my microphone cord in the middle of the show, so there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. There are tons of favorite moments on stage, too. I love the phone cord section in Italy. One night, when I shushed Amy as she was choking, someone in the audience very clearly laughed and said something like, ‘Oh my god, she’s shushing her.’ Moments like that are always so much fun, but we’ve still got to stay in character and not get thrown by audience reaction. Germany might be the most fun for me. I have two songs where I get to go into the house and play with the audience. It’s always different and always a lot of fun.” – Amanda Bloom, actor

“When approaching a show, an actor needs to analyze his/her character, complete with a physical life and vocal sound. In most shows, one actor does this for one character. In Five Course Love, however, each of the three actors had to do this for five drastically different characters. As the director, it was the ‘drastically different’ part that required so much attention. Each rehearsal was spent working not just on music or dance or staging, but on characterization– how each of the 15 characters moved and sounded as they sang, danced and walked on stage. The attention to this part of the process is what makes seeing Five Course Love so enjoyable – as the show progresses, one becomes excited about who will show up next.” – Krista Hansen, director

The show runs through June 16, so you still have a chance to catch these and the many more memorable moments of Five Course Love

at Metropolis.

 

Setting the stage for Five Course Love

May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Five Course Love director Krista Hansen works with cast members Amy Malouf, Greg Foster and Amanda Bloom.

Five Course Love director Krista Hansen works with cast members Amy Malouf, Greg Foster and Amanda Bloom.

Metropolis Properties Designer Maggie Neumayer had her work cut out for her with Five Course Love. Each of the musical’s five vignettes takes place in a different restaurant: a BBQ joint, an Italian bistro, a German schnitzel house, a Spanish cantina and a roadside diner. Rather than change out large set pieces, Five Course Love relies on props and set decorations to change the atmosphere for each scene.

Below is a link to the complete listing of props and set decorations for Five Course Love. Well, nearly complete – we had to keep a few items off the list so we don’t spoil all the surprises! Be sure to keep an eye out for all these elements when you come see the show – opening this Thursday, May 16 and running through June 16.

Five Course Love Props List

The Crow & Dilber Series

December 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

We shot a series of shorts during the run A Christmas Carol. They feature Crow & Dilber from the show taking us on a series of behind-the-scenes and backstage tours. We also shot several interview segments for their pilot late night TV show. We’ll post a few them here – starting with one of my favorites.

In this one Crow & Dilber take us backstage with Assistant Stage Manager Allison Queen, who shows us how the Dry Ice Fog machines work.

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