On My Boyfriends’ Bicycles

Our friend Shannon Mayhall appeared in a play reading. What is a play reading? The playwright wants to see it performed, see where we laugh and don’t laugh, before everything is locked in stone. So we trucked down to Elgin to eat our fave Shanghai Restaurant in downtown area a block from Hemmens. Good dinner, nice iced coffee. Mmm.

Then drive two blocks to park and walk to the historical Professional Building and up the elevator to the 8th floor and in a lovely old room with white pillars. The event is free, but first-come and we sit in end seats on the second row. There is free wine and cheese in the back, and water, and the playwright is selling her Whiskey Mattimoe mystery paperbacks in the back. I bought the first, Whiskey on the Rocks.

When the players come out, they are on bikes. Not bikes, but music stands which they carry around and dismount from. The director, Richard Pahl, explains beforehand that this is to simplify the reading, not having to balance, and you can put the script on the music stand. Most of the actors are pros, and don’t really need the script.

The play was a nice one about a wild woman who rides helmetless thru a bunch of boyfriends and steals bicycles from them. She is in an accident. Shannon was the main female, and was magnificent. I talked to Richard at intermission and he said if she was available, she could easily work downtown. I agree. She has presence.

Afterwards, the playwright, Nina Wright, came out and talked, and commented on how different the Saturday and Friday audiences were in their reactions. Richard said the cast knew where the audience would laugh on Saturday, so were able to play up their parts a bit more.

Lots of fun. A neat way to see a play-in-training.

Bangkok House & Shanghai Restaurant 11 Douglas Ave, Elgin, IL
Elgin Art Showcase, 8th floor of the historical Professional Building, 164 Division St., Elgin IL
Newspaper Article

Look Homeward Angel

We went to see this play, adapted by Ketti Frings from the book by Thomas Wolfe at Johnsburg High School. They were presenting it as a warmup on their way to presenting it at the Illinois High School Theater Festival downstate.

The auditorium is in the round; we sat in the 3rd row. The sets were comprised of several platforms to represent the bedrooms, and other areas of the boarding house, and the stone shop and yard.

Wow. These “kids” are good. The Eugene Gant character (by Steve Guardi) was haunted, the mother, Eliza Gant (Mandi Soos) was insane, the father W. O. Gant (James Anderson) was kind of good hearted but a raging alcoholic, and according to Bette, the family was consistent with an alcoholic family. The brother Ben (Jeff Leber) coughed so hard we thought he would lose a lung.

If they don’t win something for this play, it’s a crime. Good luck y’all.

High School Musical – Woodstock Opera House

Bette and I attended the Woodstock Children’s Summer Theatre performance of HSM at the Woodstock Opera House in Woodstock IL. We have attended many events there, by far this was the loudest — not the show, but the audience. We went to the 2PM show with two young friends, Raea and Keefer, and to fit into their schedule we went to the same show that was a prize for reading library books. Translated — lots of younger kids, and they mostly don’t shut up for most of the show. We were in the center balcony, good seats, really. We were usually on the main floor for past shows, but these were the hottest tickets in years…

We knew Daniel Rausch, the youngest, and sadly the last, of the uber-talented Rausch boys; he was the lead. We enjoyed the PA announcer. The cast was good. Although they were miked up, sometimes the audio was not good, especially given the bad signal-to-noise ratio. But we got the jist of it, and the dancing was wonderful.

Two 10-ish-year-old girls behind us were talking and one mentioned (while the show was going on), “I don’t like this one — they are not the real people.” True, but perhaps she missed the point a bit. It was a fun visit to a new play for us, and for $6 apiece, much better than paying some adult troupe to pretend they are high schoolers for $70 each.

The young thespians constantly amaze us with their talents.

Afterwards, we headed to the Club for a nice dinner, where the kids were well behaved and enjoyed the piano player, Dean Malsack, where he regaled us with stories of his Baldwin piano with black keys.

“Seussical” at Wheeling High School, Wheeling, IL

Went to see Katherine as a bird girl in Seussical at Wheeling High School. The show was good, the costumes were great, and it was fun to see Kat up there. I am constantly amazed at how talented high school kids are.

Note: see the “Horton Hears a Who” movie or read it and “Horton Hatches an Egg” or you won’t know what is going on. We saw Horton in FL on vacation…good thing.