Saturday, December 19, 2009

Closing Time...

Both 1985 and Hunky Dory say good bye tonight, as does the Factory Theater to its 2009 season. As of this writing- there were some seats still available- so if you are looking for an alternative to that lame holiday party you were thinking about hitting tonight, you just might be in luck. Click the ticketing link on the right of this blog and come on out!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

1985- Review from Gapers Block.

Review: 1985 @The Factory Theater

Chas Vrba's original script deftly combines the eerie, mind-controlled state of George Orwell's 1984 with the eerie, mind-controlled state of Chicago during the 1985Bears season run in this down-home, funny and thoroughly enjoyable production. Do yourself a favor and watch 1984 on Netflix before coming to the show -- at times the parody is shot-for-shot and line-for-line, with hilarious results.

Vrba not only wrote the script but portrays the lead character, Winston, with an Andy Richter-like boyishness that amps up the irony in the piece. With an outstanding supporting cast that includes Scott Oken as O'Brien, Ernie Deak as George Halas (aka Papa Bear), and Laura McKenzie as Julia, an evening spent watching 1985 is the perfect antidote to the onset of Chicago winter with it's bewilderingly early sunsets (4:20pm!), the forced gaiety of the holidays, and the Bears' current season.

Every detail is designed to transport the audience back 25 years, from the soundtrack -- featuring the likes of Wham and Howard Jones, to the hairdos and the fierce sports rivalries that will always define Chicago. The Factory's Elston Avenue ambiance and industrial rolling metal door that separates the theater space from the lobby adds to the experience of stepping into an alternate, Orwellian universe.

This is theater you can bring your husband to; my own theater-eschewing spouse, who has said things to me on the subject like: "I find theater extremely embarrassing," laughed as hard as anyone else in the audience, and spent the rest of the evening quoting favorite lines from the show. The Factory has been getting a lot of attention for this production, and for good reason -- I've seen a number of Factory shows and this is hands-down the best one so far.

Catch this show before it becomes a memory as distant as a Bears championship. Shows on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through December 19th. For tickets and information call (866) 811-4111 or visit The Factory Theater.

— J.H. Palmer

Monday, November 30, 2009

Factory Theater on You Tube.

No- we're not just discovering You Tube, we've had videos up there for years, thank you very much. We just finally decided to have our own channel. You'll find all sorts of stuff, new and old. Give it a look and subscribe.

Here's the channel link:

Friday, November 27, 2009

3 + 3 = Six Star Saturday.

Ok- It's so-called "Black Friday" today and you aren't shopping, you're reading our blog. Ok, maybe you are actually standng in the aisles of a Forever 21, Rainbow, or Chess King and you're reading this on a handheld device as you shop for the co-worker whose name you pulled in the Secret Santa thingy they do at your job, whatever. The point is- you are reading this now, and perhaps thinking about attending a Factory show tonight. Only problem is, you can't. We're all either in the aisle next to you or on our way home from our own Thanksgiving gatherings. However, we're back in FULL FORCE on Saturday with the mother of all deals on our double-bill of 1985 & Hunky Dory. This Saturday night, November 28th- we've got both shows going at the 2 for 1 rate- that means you and a pal or relative who is still in town can see both shows for the combined price of 30 bucks. (that's 15 bucks a person for two shows) Pretty sweet.

Incidentally both shows received three star reviews in The Chicago Tribune over the last week, so you're looking at 6 stars for 15 bucks.

Check it out, here's 1985's review

Now go here to get tix. Enter the code word "thanks" for each 2 ticket purchase and you are on your way.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Audition Notice for Factory's Spring Show

Like REO says, keep on rollin'. 1985 is open to rave reviews and Hunky Dory is hot on its heels. Get your tickets for these fantastic shows! See them individually or take in a double feature! With these two terrific shows in full operation, the Factory rolls out auditions for Hey! Dancin!, the first show of the 2010 season.

Here's the official announcement:

The Factory Theater holds auditions for "Hey! Dancin'!" by Kirk Pynchon and Mike Beyer at the Prop Theater, 3504 N. Elston. Slots available on December 5 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM and December 6 from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM. You will be asked to do a cold reading and to show us some of your dance moves. Looking for men and women from early 20's to late 40's who move, celebrate big hair and dig the 1980's music. The show runs March 12th-April 24th. Email headshot and resume to Producer Colin Milroy at Further Factory information:

Send your stuff in for auditions. Come on out and play with us. We've had a gnarly Ensemble read-through already, playwrights Beyer and Pynchon worked hard sharpening this fine piece, and we will have a terrific show. Like Bono says, can't stop the dance.

Monday, November 16, 2009

1985 cast to appear on Monsters in the Morning.

Set the alarm, brew the coffee, or just program that DVR. The cast of 1985 will appear on Comcast Sportsnet's Monsters in the Morning at 7:30am tomorrow. The show airs from 6:00am to 9:00am, check your local cable provider for channel number. We'll do a brief scene from the show, and probably have a short interview with North & Jiggetts. Should be fun, check it out if you can. We imagine Tim McGraw will be on after us. Sadly, we'll be missing Jerry Rice by two days.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1985 featured in today's Sun Times

From today's Quick Hits column by Elliott Harris

The closest Quick Hits generally gets to culture is occasionally having a bit of yogurt.

When it comes to being a theater buff, Quick Hits thought the term had something to do with ''Oh! Calcutta!''

So attending a play is somewhat unusual -- although, in this case, it was sports-related.

''1985'' is a takeoff of George Orwell's novel 1984 -- with George Halas as Big Brother. The comedy -- which premieres Friday at 8 p.m. at the Factory Theater, 3502 N. Elston -- takes a look at what it means to be a Bears fan. The play is written by Chas Vrba, who also portrays the central figure of Winston. It's directed by Eric Roach.

After viewing a preview performance, Quick Hits wondered: Why no Honey Bears in the cast?

''That's a very good question,'' said Vrba, who started writing the play when the Bears were celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1985 Super Bowl season. ''We had a launch party to raise funds for the show. A number of the women in the company did go in full cheerleader regalia. It basically was fantasy brought to life. Maybe we could have them in the box office selling tickets.''

His inspiration for writing the play?

''A love for the Chicago Bears and for literature, specifically 1984. I thought it would be really cool if I could get fans of literature and sports in the same room together 'cause most of my peers tend to like one or the other. There are exceptions. I'm working with a great theater company with a lot of great sports fans.''

Cast members tackle their roles like All-Pros.

''I think there's a little Winston in all of us,'' Vrba said. ''I'm an everyman character guy, and in that way I think Winston is that.''

Everyman and every fan.

Anyone who enjoys the Bears (and to a lesser degree the Cubs) and/or enjoys making fun of anguished fans and/or enjoys plays should enjoy ''1985.''

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Cheap Seats

While our makeover might not be quite as extensive as the job done on Soldier Field in 2003, we've done a bit of rearranging in our space over at the Prop Thtr. We haven't added any skyboxes or anything, but we have made a marked improvement to the sightlines of what were formally the worst seats in our house. Gone are those "obstructed view" seats you would find right by the door as you entered the theater. Instead, you'll find that the section has been shifted to the center of the house providing a great view of all the action.

This weekend will allow for the first "test drive" of those seats. 1985 has its preview performances this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's a great opportunity to get the first look at our new show before final adjustments are made for next week's OPENING NIGHT and it can be done on the cheap. Preview tickets only cost $10 bucks. So, come check it out and scratch off #37 on Time Out Chicago's list of 65 Things to Do This Fall.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sweetness Remembered. 1954-1999

It has been ten years since Walter Payton passed away. Factory Theater was in the midst of the run of Endzone, a play that focused heavily on the mania surrounding high school football. The day Walter passed happened to fall on our Industry Night performance of the show and it was a no-brainer to dedicate the performance to Sweetness.

It's hard to believe a decade has gone by since then. But it has, and once again, Factory Theater remembers the great Walter Payton as it prepares to open another football-centric show, 1985.

While 1985 celebrates the man, and you probably know all about his football accomplishements, today we'd like to share a quote of his that has nothing to do with football.

"Most important thought, if you love someone, tell him or her, for you never know what tomorrow may have in store."

Sound advice from a beloved Chicago icon who inspired many of us at the Factory Theater.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Everything will be Hunky Dory.

Yeah- Maybe we're a bunch of clowns over here at the Factory Theater. We certainly like to juggle. As we gear up for load-in, build and tech week for 1985, we've got another show hot on its heels.

Who doesn't like watching TV all day and eating well cooked meals without
lifting a finger? The American dream, right? Well, there's a little work
involved. What with signing the social security checks of the recently deceased,
not to mention the necessary clean-up- you think it's easy? Maybe. Factory
Theater's comic thriller Hunky Dory takes you back to 1975 Haneyville, Texas. A time and place when life was easier, but so was death.

That's right, we do 'em two at a time over at the Factory, and you can too. We've got our fabulous Factory Double Feature Deal that will let you see both shows for one low price. Check it out by clicking here.

So, that's kind of cool, right? We think so. No tricks here, all treats and no @#%!ing rocks.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

We're Grabowskis not Smiths.

Grabowski :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Chicagopedia:

"Grabowski /grah bow ski/n.1.A hardworking, blue-collar, lunch-pail-carrying grunt, as made famous by Mike Ditka before a Bears playoff game. 'There are teams named Smith and teams named Grabowski,' Da Coach said. 'The Rams are the Smiths. We're the Grabowskis.'"

The Factory is a Grabowski theater company, without question. You can decide who the Smiths are.

We're just a few weeks away from the 1985's first preview. Make your reservation soon, or suffer like Phil Simms and the rest.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Starting Steps

The first show of Factory Theater's 2010 season will be Hey! Dancin'! by Kirk Pynchon and Mike Beyer. Upon first reading, this play felt like a hilariously twisted take on Disney's High School Musical if it was set in 1986. There's much more to it, as will be seen (and heard) this weekend. On Sunday, the play will get its first reading for the ensemble to chew on. I expect ideas to fly and my perspectives to change after the reading and discussions. These are the first steps in the process; I'm excited to hear the collective ensemble gears turn as we develop this show.

Two ensemble members will be doing something different for the Hey! Dancin'! production crew. The sparkling Sarah Rose Graber will be directing a Factory show for the first time, and I will be producing a Factory show for the first time. We are neither of us green in these capacities, but this is our first time doing these jobs in the Factory uniform. We are wonderfully supported by a sturdy ensemble. I am pleased to put on this particular hat for the company and I'm eager to see what devious plans Sarah Rose has in store.

In the meantime, keep a lookout for 1985 updates. I expect DJ Chas to share more goodies as the November 6 previews rapidly approach. Bear down!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Official 1985 Poster Unveiled

Design By: Tom Donalek. Click on Poster for larger view. Actual Poster is obviously crisp and clear, but you get the idea.

Bear Down!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Saturday, September 26, 2009: The day the Super Bowl Shuffle came back. Now as everyone knows that song is a Grammy nominated classic (yes, really-Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance- Duo or Group) So- needless to say we had our work cut out for us if we wanted to do the song justice. Rehearsals began in earnest, um...the day before the event. Hunkering down with The Cain Mutiny in their basement rehearsal space we worked dilligently to get this right.

We must have run it 3 or 4 times before the night was over! Sure, perhaps we could have eased up, maybe we didn't need all that work, but we can't let something so complex overwhelm us, and the only way to ensure that is to work our asses off. The "step, touch, step touch" choreography that was mastered by the original Shuffling Crew proved to be a challenge. These guys were pro football players, they know a thing or two about dance. We just had to practice and pray. In the end- We feel that we pulled it off. While we lacked the services of Tyrone Keys on the keys, or Calvin Thomas on the sax and there was certainly no way to replace Maury Buford on cow bell- we were game and worked hard to overcome such obstacles. However, we encountered a setback that could have proven to be catastrophic- our very own Paul Metreyeon wound up on the injured reserve. We thought it might be a game time decision, but the flu bug knocked him out hours before kick-off. We needed a "LA Mike" and had to look at the free agents available at the party to find one. Enter Brian Serio. Finding out he was going to play just moments before he hit the stage, Brian proved to be a invaluable role player on this night. We felt very lucky to have him there. So, with that set here was our starting line up:

Chas Vrba- Walter "Sweetness" Payton

Scott OKen- "Speedy Willie" Gault/Lead Guitar

Allison Cain- "Samurai Mike" Singletary

Mike Beyer- Jim "The Punky QB" McMahon

Corri Feuerstein- "Momma's Boy" Otis Wilson

Timothy C. Amos- Steve Fuller

Brian Serio- "LA Mike" Richardson

Carrie Sullivan- Richard "Sack Man" Dent/Bass

Josh Graves- Gary "Hit Man" Fencik

Eric Roach- William "Refrigerator" Perry

Mark Rew- Drums/ Stefan Humphries

Well, with that list of All-Pros, You can see why this thing went as well as it did. We "love to play for the World's Best Fans" so Thanks again for making it such a memorable night.

Also, an extra special thanks goes out The Wanton Looks, ROYCE and Lady Jack for great entertainment, to Magnolia Cafe for providing all the food, and of course, The Lakeview Baseball Club for providing such a great venue.


Monday, September 28, 2009


Happy 39th birthday Scott OKen!! A new poll has been constructed in his honor. I didn't include "Repair Guys" or "God, Guns and Gold", but only because they are shorts. But those two are actually a couple of my very favorites. Vote early and vote often.

TREMENDOUS time at the Factory Rooftop Shuffle this past Saturday night. The bands rocked out, Lady Jack was sexy but all too brief, and the Super Bowl Shuffle defied all words. Thanks to all who came out and supported the Factory. Pictures will be forthcoming soon. Let's do it again!!

Is it just me, or did Devin Hester look like a real NFL receiver yesterday? The fingertip catch and stretch for a first down was absolutely epic....

I shouldn't be surprised, but "Dirty Dancing" edged out "Road House" for Best Swayze Movie. I suspect some poll skullduggery, but at this point I should just be happy people are taking the time to vote.

Shows in Chicago to see! Treasure Island at Lifeline! The Hostage at the Griffin! Dinner For Six at Metropolis! Animal Crackers at the Goodman (if you have a million dollars)! St. Crispin's Day at the Strawdog! Support the arts! Have I forgotten any shows? Well, excuuuuuuse me! It ain't like this blog costs you anything!

Always good to see old Factory friends out on the town like Susan Donatello and Christian and Lauren Murphy, who showed up at the Rooftop Shuffle. As Bob Seger would say...."see some old friends, good for the soul." Also, Melissa Nedell is back in Chicago after a summer in Montana. Just in time to take care of Sir Gimp-A-Lot (Matt Engle) who is preparing for ACL surgery.

Bon voyage to Heather Tyler and Matt Samsel, who will soon be striking out for LA to seek their fortune. We'll be sending them off in grand style (check your Facebook events calendar). I could be wrong, but I believe that drinking will be involved in that particular event.

Coming soon to this very blog -- a cast retrospective of the 1993 Factory classic Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. Find out what those cast members are up to in 2009, and get their thoughts on one of my personal Factory faves.

Saw Curtis Armstrong all too briefly on the season premiere of "House"! That man is a genius -- why doesn't he work more? I mean....he's Booger! He's Miles! He was Lane Meyer's coke-snorting buddy! He pals around with Cybill Shepherd! Come on!

If it's a Yankees-Red Sox ALCS, I will bash my head against a post. The world does not need four-hour games filled with working counts, drawing walks, and fouling off pitches. Note to sabermetricians: It's a way to win ballgames, but it isn't fun to watch.

Do I sound bitter, perhaps? Let's see....I'm 40 and have never witnessed any of my favorite teams celebrate a championship! The Indians just broke an 11-game losing streak, the Browns are 0-16, and I'm preparing for LeBron's last year with the Cavs! What could I POSSIBLY have to be bitter about?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Champion: Derek Jarvis

Congratulations to Derek Jarvis, who was the first one to answer our 5 questions correctly. There were many who followed up with the correct answers but Derek was first. Derek and a guest have won two free tickets to the Factory Theater Rooftop Shuffle!

What about everyone else? Well, there is a consulation prize. Answer the following question (in your head, don't write the answer here) and click the ticketing link. Write the correct answer in the promo code box and you will receive 5.00 dollars off per ticket for the Shuffle. Pretty sweet.

The Question:
What is the last name of the man being hoisted on Steve McMichael & William Perry's shoulders in the above picture?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The Rules:

Answer the following questions by replying in the comment section. (Make sure we can tell who you are) The first response with all 5 questions answered correctly wins! These ain't easy, but you do have a computer in front of you. Answers will be accepted until we decide to check the comments to look for a winner. (Could be quick, could take all day, who knows?)

The Prize:

Winner will receive 2 tickets to the Factory Theater Rooftop Shuffle which takes place this Saturday September 26th at The Lakeview Baseball Club. (8pm to 2am)

You should go even if you don't win this contest. There will be other chances for you to win stuff in life, hell, you might even win something at the Rooftop Shuffle. BEAR DOWN!

The Questions:

1. How many kick returns for touchdowns did Willie Gault have as a Bear?

2. Who was the Bears starting Quarterback for Sept. 19th. 1985?

3. What was George Orwell's birth name?

4. Two members of the Bears 1984 starting defense held out of the 1985 season over contract disputes. Who were they?

And here's the one that will separate the players from the pretenders...
5. Take the jersey numbers of the two players mentioned in question 4 and add them together then subtract the combined point total of the Bears three playoff opponents from the '85 Super Bowl Season. Multiply the total by the title of Paul Hardcastle's biggest US hit (hint-it's numerical and came out in the mid 80's) Finally, subtract Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo's Jersey Number. What Number did you get?

Ok, that's it...and seriously if you get that last one, we are impressed!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Conversation With Lady Jack

There are many reasons to attend this Saturday's Rooftop Shuffle, which is taking place this Saturday night at the Lakeview Baseball Club on Sheffield Ave. There's open bar and delicious food. There's the spectacular view of the legendary deserted Wrigley Field, where George Halas, Mike Ditka and Gale Sayers held court for a time (when a baseball team called the Cubs weren't in there). There's live music by the incredible Cain Mutiny, the Wanton Looks, ROYCE and DJ Chas. There are valuable prizes to be won. There's the comedy of host Stanley Grabowski, fresh from his triumphant East Coast tour capped by four standing-room only shows in Key West, FL. All this for a mere 40 bones.

And then there's Lady Jack, perhaps the most unique performer the Factory has ever seen at events like this. Her Facebook fan page describes Lady Jack as "a solo Burlesque performer....that conspire[s] to create worlds of midnight festival, magic and eroticism for an audience that wants to play." Intrigued? Read an EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Lady Jack in advance of the Saturday night show.

How did you first become interested in vaudeville/burlesque?

It began more with an interest in macabre storytelling, physical theatre, narrative dance, music videos, Erte (an art deco fashion designer), female archetypes, magical realism, and eroticism in art. Put that in a giant vat and combine it with the tendency to create characters that go through a metamorphosis and and you sort of have burlesque.

I actually started out with a character concept of "Lady Jack" -- the name was inspired by playing a role of a Jack in the Box in a show. I kept the jester/trickster concept, added a flair of sexy....and Lady Jack was born. But I first began exploring the concept through a duo "Jack and Jinx", which was very much a concept of Vaudeville meets the live music video. Then I branched off from that into solo burlesque -- both character/story based performance art versions and classic/neo striptease.

Besides the launch party, what are you working on these days?

I just produced my first show at Debonair Social Club (Carnival Burlesque on September 16), which met with great success! I will be producing a Halloween burlesque night there on October 28 and I am already excited about it. I am also playing the title role of Queenie, a burlesque star from the 20s, in Silent Theatre Company's production of "The Wild Party" -- Fridays at 8 and 10:30 at the Prop Theatre through the first week of August. We are running a variety show in tandem on Saturday nights at 10:30.

I typically work with Oona Productions, Silent Theatre, Angela Eve and Eve's Parlor Varietease Cabaret, Vaudezilla Productions, Mo' Roses Productions and have performed often at Debonair Social Club and Theatro. Shows are always popping up with these groups and venues!

I have to ask, since your costumes are so awesome -- do you design your own costumes, or do you just mix and match, or does someone help you out with that and do your costumes?

Thanks! It's a combo of both. Mostly mixing and matching and I do some embellishment. I. Am. NOT. Crafty. So I try to keep that to a minimum. When I can work with a costume designer I go for Barb Staples. She is phenomenal.

Book you are currently reading:
I'm actually reading one -- hooray! It is Interpreter of Maladies. So very good. I'd forgotten I actually enjoy reading. We are so driven by the Internet now. you choose your costumes on look, or how they feel, or how easy it is take them off in time to the music?

All of the above. It was a learning curve -- which I'm still riding on -- that costume removal process is extremely important to burlesque. I'm more focused on dance and story and concept and timing. But the more I get into the more striptease elements I see how important the costuming is to the piece.

I stay home to watch:

Hard-core pornography. Obviousssssly. No, I'm kidding. No....I'm serious. Well. Maybe I...uh...(cough)....Were you asking about books? What?

(Laughing nervously) Hahaha! Jeez, what WAS I asking about now? --are you a Lisa Ann gal or a Deauxma fan, or do you prefer the old-school Vanessa Del Rio stuff? And what's the deal with the MILF Hunter? I can't stand that guy.

MILF HUNTER? I just checked out the Web site for the first time in my life. I smell deceit and deception. I don't think there are MILFs on the Web site. Nor were they hunted. Just a personal educated hypothesis.

Wait just a second! Are you suggesting that this entire site is NOT what it claims, and that all involved are in fact PAID for their -- oh, whoops! My kids just walked in. Time to switch gears -- you seem to have worked with quite a few photographers. What do you look for in a photographer, and do you find the whole process tedious or exciting?

Exciting. I love working with photographers. In terms of what I would look for, it entirely depends on the project. But one thing I hope for is that the photographer gives creative input whether it is my project or theirs. Another thing is trust and respect in the situation. And thirdly, I prefer working with someone with whom I can get a great improvisatory groove going, where I just feel free to shift continuously until they ask me to pause to make a slight adjustment.

I really don't care for being posed from the get-go. It goes back to the trust and respect issue. I'm a trained actor and dancer, so I feel like I can accomplish some goals without being treated like a mannequin. A good photographer acts like a good director. So being posed straight-off is like having a director telling you exactly how to say a line, before you've even worked on the character. I even had a photographer I had just met (and there was no money on the line) walk up to me at the top of the shoot and physically place my arm where he wanted it. Punch.

If I could hang out with anyone for a night, it would be:

Let's go with a double date -- Obama and me, Kanye West and Taylor Swift. I live life on the edge, people.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rooftop Shuffle This Saturday Night!

You can purchase your tickets for this landmark event here. Come on down and support -- and stay tuned this week for a revealing Q&A with event performer Lady Jack. In the meantime, I submit for your viewing displeasure a night of unspeakable horror. Watch...if you dare.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catching Up With.....Eric Roach

If anyone embodies the current soul of the Factory Theater, that one would have to be Eric Roach. He wrote the amazing Siskel & Ebert Save Chicago, directed three shows (including the upcoming 1985), served as ensemble director, and has starred in countless other productions. He has stamped his current sensibilities on the Factory while effortlessly retaining the spirit of its raucous, ridiculous past.

As much as anyone, he led the infusion of talent into the Factory around the middle of this decade, which reinvigorated the company and changed its direction. His stellar work has led to gigs at other theatre companies around town (and his very own celebrity roast), but his home is here. The Factory Theater Rooftop Shuffle is next Saturday (tickets still available) for 1985. So with that in mind, we sat down Lipton-style with His Comic Majesty:

Eric Thomas Roach


After your turn as the doomed cop Mac in Dead Wrong, you're jumping right back into the fray with 1985. Give the blog readers a quick synopsis of the new Factory show, and why the script appealed to you.

Well, it's George Orwell's 1984 mashed up with the 1985 World Champion Chicago Bears. I mean, that's the deal. It's also hilarious and weird and dark and also science fiction, which is one of my favorite genres. It's real sci-fi too, in that it's something that is an allegory for something else...namely the poor tortured soul of the average Chicago sports fan. But, doing a show about a Chicago sports fan would probably cause audience members to hang themselves, so this is an amazingly entertaining way to tell that story.

You're known for your comic characters, so the role of Mac (Dead Wrong) was a big departure for you. Looking back on Dead Wrong, was the investment in the character different for you, and was it easier or harder than some of your previous roles (such as Laughter on the 23rd Floor or Red Noses)?

Mac is a character like any other I've played. He just happened to have almost no sense of humor, which is definitely different for me. It was fun to be him for a while, and to explore a kind of sick side of myself. Please don't ask my wife what she thought of my "process" though. I wasn't very fun at parties for a few weeks.

You wrote the brilliant Siskel & Ebert Save Chicago, probably the biggest hit the Factory has had in the past five years. How did you come up with the idea to make Siskel a James Bond-type back from the dead, to fight the evil forces led by Oprah Winfrey?

I came up with the concept right after Siskel passed away, probably because I'm a sick bastard! I always loved Siskel's reviews, and I knew that At The Movies would never be the same when he passed. He and Ebert were heroes, just not superheroes...yet! It took a few years for the idea to germinate, but with the help of the Factory Writer's Workshop (who were absolutely invaluable with shaping the play and the characters) I was able to formulate a first draft that I was happy with.

The opening night of Siskel & Ebert Save Chicago may go down as the greatest opening night in the history of the Factory. Looking back, what are your memories of that night?

I remember being hungover...we were still doing Saturday benefit nights in those days, and I had had a scorcher of an evening the night before. I was like any 1st time writer...scared shitless that no one would show up, and scared again that people would show up and hate it! I remember that we were about to start the show, and Scott OKen (director of S&E and AD of the company) came up to me and said "Don't shit your pants!" And in walks Roger Ebert himself. I don't even remember if I said hello to him. He and his wife and some other folks grabbed their seats. Scott, Mike Tutaj (who did our amazing credits sequence), and I ran down the hall and silently screamed for about 3 minutes and went back in. The fact that Mr. Ebert was laughing at bits that I had come up with was amazing. When he pulled away in his car after the show and gave the cast outside a thumbs-up...well, I'm kind of choked up even writing about it. I remember having an amazing night that night, and the rollercoaster ride of the next few weeks was incredible. It was truly something I'll never forget, and the fact that Roger Ebert even wrote about us in his column in the Sun-Times and helped us out when he didn't have to is one of the highlights of my life. Thanks, Mr. Ebert.

A gun is pointed to your head and you must choose. Point Break or Road House? Discuss.

Point Break, definitely. I know Road House has Sam Elliot and the Jeff Healey band, but it's always been a little too redneck for my tastes. However, Point Break has Gary Busey. Busey wins.

You seem equally comfortable as an actor or director. Is there one "hat" you enjoy wearing as opposed to the other?

Either function has it's own set of challenges. No one becomes a director because they love accolades...if your show succeeds, it's the result of your actors. If it fails, well then fuck you, you shitty director! I suppose I enjoy being an actor because I know that I have 100% control of myself and that's all you can go for in this life. But directing truly immerses me in such a collaborative state...I love the idea of full show unity, even if it's only a goal and not a possible destination. The fact that it's all about having you and your cast and your crew and ultimately your audience working together to make something worthwhile...that's what directing is for me.

Kenneth Branagh is slated to direct Thor, which comes out in 2011 -- should we just give up on this project now?

Hey, long as Branagh doesn't cast himself as Thor we should be okay. Thor is a great comic book character...I just don't know how well he'll translate to the big screen.

How did you discover the Factory Theater, and what made you decide you wanted to be a part of it?

God...let's see. The first thing I ever saw by the Factory was Dragontales...back in the DAY! I kept up with shows as much as I could and would submit my headshot from time to time...but, apparently back then I must have been too much like Mike Mazzara or Todd Oldham or something because I NEVER got called in. I was about to give up when I got cast in a production of Factory's Lab Rats at Stage Left. It was a dismal show, but I met a lot of great people and had a ton of fun with it. But, again, once I was done wearing that sweaty rat suit nobody gave me a call. WTF, yo? Finally I went in and KILLED at my audition for Menage a Trailer and soon after was asked into the company. I believe it took about 5 years of trying to be noticed by the Factory...and thank God they did, because Factory is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I'm going to list the following movies for you to rate "GOOD" or "SUCK" -- and of course, add additional comments as the spirit moves you:

Spider-Man - GOOD. Sam Raimi wins.
Batman Begins - GOOD. Thank the LORD Nolan resurrected it.
Superman Returns - SUCKSUCKSUCK. The most disappointing movie of the summer that year. Holy BALLS.
Spider-Man 2 - GOOD. Alfred Molina stole the show.
Fantastic Four - SUCK. Asstastic Four.
Hulk - SUCK. Sam Elliot with no mustache = bad film. Do the math.
The Incredible Hulk - Didn't see it, I kind of want to give it a shot.
The Dark Knight - I waver between GOOD and SUCK on this one. Has someone done the 25 minute Heath Ledger only cut yet? Because I would watch that again.
Blade - GOOD. Always bet on black vampires who hunt evil vampires with Kris Kristofferson.
The Descent - GOOD. This is actually one of the finest horror films of the past decade. Don't believe me? Watch Rob Zombie's Halloween and try to argue with me.

What Factory show or role are you the most proud of/satisfied with?

There's so many that are great...but Mac from Dead Wrong challenged me the most. I am satisfied by a job well done. I am also egotistical and a genius.

Anything else you'd like to add about 1985?

I'm more excited about this show than Mike Singletary contemplating a juicy QB sack!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Factory Announces Its 2010 Season!

We've been busy here at La Factory. First off, we had the always successful, always drunken Abbie Hoffman Festivus over the weekend of August 15-16. Despite taking the stage at something like the crack of dawn, the Factory rocked it as usual.

Also, the Factory held its first reading for the soon-to-be-American-Classic 1985, written by the indomitable Chas Vrba and directed by the sublime Eric Thomas Roach (who rocks a blue tie, by the way). As stated previously, our little Rooftop Shuffle is right around the corner. Buy your tickets and get the latest info on bands for this explosive shindig here.

Last but not least, we are proud to announce our season for 2010. These three shows are original works -- all comedies, completely subtlety-free! I think it goes without saying that in 2010 There Will Be Bits. Without further adieu:

"Hey! Dancin'!"
by Kirk Pynchon and Mike Beyer

The year is 1986. The hair is big, the fashion is ridiculous, and dancing is king. The hottest dance show in Chicago rules the cable access airwaves -- and its name is "Hey! Dancin'!" It's the last show of the season, and the station manager is threatening to change the music format because the show has gotten "too black". Our heroine Halle Stanton, with the help of her slutty friend Trisha, finagle their way on to the show. Halle hopes to meet the show's Ray-Ban-wearing star -- Kenny Kaposki, better known as Double K. Will love blossom between the innocent Halle and the dance superstar Double K? Will the show survive the change of music from Cameo to Poison? And will Trisha have sex with the show's older (yet willing) host, Randy Massingil? Find out in "Hey! Dancin'!"

"The League Of Awesome"
by Corri Feuerstein and Sara Sevigny

The superheroes of The League Of Awesome have done it again. A villain has been vanquished, the city's fears have been quelled, newspapers have their story and all is well. See, they decided to punish this villain by trapping him inside a Hardy Boys book. Yeah, it was a little unconventional. Sure, they know that. But it's not like Drake Hurtcliffe, a horrible evil mastermind who inflicted sadness upon an entire city with his SorrowMaker, is gonna get out of the book. Zoe, Sylvia, Penny, Kitty & Rumble wouldn't let him escape. I mean....come on! What are they gonna do, accidentally create another hero who is clueless enough to join Drake's forces or something? That's ridiculous! They'd have to be drunk to do that! Now let's watch them celebrate their victory over Drake with mojitos.

Oh....oh, dear.

"Jenny And Jenni"
by Shannon O'Neill
FALL 2010

Before the Thighmaster. Before Sweatin' To The Oldies. And before Jane Fonda, there was....JENNY AND JENNI. Watch this unlikely duo rise to the top of the exercise and fitness food chain before we even knew there was one. Friends since childhood, Jenny and Jenni overcome difficult parents, initial public mockery, and an evil Jordache model to become trailblazers in the fight to keep America fit and feeling good. Follow the adventures of Jenny and Jenni as they invent the exercise studio, awesome fitness apparel, and the workout video. But will success bring this famous pair true happiness after all they've been through? Or will it tear them apart? One journey, two Jennys.....just spelled differently.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Insider: Exposing a Factory Secret

This post is brought to you by a newer set of eyes. I'll be writing from time to time to show the Factory from a slightly different lens. See, I'm new to the company. Relatively. I've been on board since 2007, but that makes me a squalling infant next to the likes of Mike Beyer, most senior member of the company, and DJ Chas, one of the ruling caste of the organization. The Factory Theater is a storied institution, producing shows in Chicago for over 17 years. That's one of the longest tenured theaters in this city. And they only make their own work! Sure, you could mount existing plays by long dead Greeks or flowery Englishmen or even familiar, home-cooked American playwrights, but this company is a wholly different beast. If I sound reverential, it's because I am. I pretty much squealed with excitement when I was invited into this company. After two years, I thought I’d reflect back on working with this company. In doing so, I decided to expose a secret about this company. I'll get to that, but there’s some history needed to illustrate.

I started watching Factory shows about seven years ago. The Factory produced balls-out theater that was unafraid of taking risks, attracting a strong reputation in the Chicago theater community. A mini-remount of White Trash Wedding and a Funeral for the Abbie Hoffman Festival had an audience packed tighter than a bulk Q-Tips package inside tiny Angel Island Theater, roaring with appreciative laughter very late into the sweaty August night. I'd also heard many happy returns from people who worked with the company. My friend Amanda, playing a crack whore in Poppin’ and Lockdown 2, was so proud of her first line, "I'll suck your cock for a dollar!" That's an entrance. I'd been working in Chicago theater since 1995, but there was something unique and enticing to the Factory. I was aching to play with them. So I auditioned.

Here's where a shift occurs, and this has to do with the secret. After my first Factory audition for a show centered around vaginas, I got the best rejection ever. Everyone at the Top Shelf Gash audition thanked me several times for actually coming to the audition. Later, I'd run into other company members who also thanked me for my time. They'd invite me to company functions where they’d repeat their appreciations over beers. This was unlike the usual silence or one sentence blow-off after an unsuccessful audition. And this wasn’t just for me. After the TSG audition, I heard from other uncast people who received the same courtesies. The Factory appreciated every moment of time given to them, whether you were in the show or not. Most unusual. When I was cast in Factory shows, I discovered flexible scheduling, extra-warm camaraderie, and supportive encouragement to put all of my guts out on to the stage with everyone else. In my second Factory show, I played a poisoned English Teacher going mad with violence and lust toward my students. For the crazy scene, the director said, “You gotta get yer face IN her crotch! ALL THE WAY in her crotch! Go full out!” My nervous reactions weren’t mocked; cast and crew merely made me more comfortable so I could go all the way into that crotch. In subsequent shows, I have experienced support and love that is only akin (and sometimes even superior) to family. While it’s common for cast and crew to bond closely during a production, the Factory creates a closer, more visceral bond that comes from their attitudes toward life and theater.

So here’s the secret I discovered at the Factory Theater. This little company, with all its occasional vaginal humor and irreverent frat boy content, its full-time pulsing playground energy and naughty-naughty language, is one of the city's most mature and well-rounded companies. A paradox? Not so. Here’s why. The Factory Theater understands that all our moments spent together creating theater are at the sacrifice of something else. If an artist chooses to give time to the Factory, they are given the respect and appreciation of the company. This is uncommon in this city. The Factory is keenly aware of reality in the plays they make and appreciates how to produce them. There are no false, high class illusions in Factory plays, which are proud of their coarse, potentially offensive subject matter. There is an integrity to that because the company does not set limits on the theater it creates. The company collaborates openly and honestly, encouraging new works from new sources and fully supporting its artists along the way. For years now, the Ensemble has expanded, allowing more artists to put their stamp on the Factory, which has only made the company grow in its vision and abilities. Honesty, appreciation, and a no-limits approach to theater speaks to me of a mature company. If nothing else, the Factory Theater’s about to turn 18, so it can be tried as an adult. I’m glad to be here. I hope you’ll hear from me again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bear Down!

I'm posting just to fulfill my contractual obligation. I got nothin', you know? The well has run dry. Anything you want to see me write about? Send me ideas. I just finished writing a show with my buddy Kirk, and I guess that took it all out of me. Apologies, Factory Theater Blog followers!

We got a ton of shit coming up this fall at the Factory. Be a part of our magic!! Dead Wrong is sadly closed and struck, but as usual we got one in the hopper that's sure to knock your goddam block off! Our new show, 1985, written by the one and only Chas Vrba, opens November 13 at the Prop Thtr. The show's Facebook page describes itself as "an Orwellian take on Chicago sports".

Directed by comic maestro Eric Roach, this show promises to be another Factory smash. Look at this all-star cast:

Timothy C. Amos
Christy Arington
Ernie Deak
Laura McKenzie
Scott OKen
Mike Ooi
Manny Tamayo
Stacie Barra Tournis
Chas Vrba

Come on! Look at that collection of talent! LOOK AT IT! TRY TO TAKE YOUR EYES OFF IT! YOU CAN'T!

Not only that, but this fall we'll be trying something brand new for our launch party. Instead of our usual digs at Chief O'Neill's, we'll instead be hanging out that night at the Lakeview Baseball Club for our launch party on Saturday, September 26, at 8 p.m. (you can buy tickets here). In case you are a Sox fan, or live under a rock, the Lakeview Baseball Club is a "rooftop" establishment on Sheffield Ave. that overlooks Wrigley Field itself. The Cubs, sadly, will be out of town that night, but our host Stanley Grabowski (filling in for Jackie Shollins, who is currently on his Far East Tour) will be there.

Also, fantastic live bands such as The Cain Mutiny and The Wanton Looks will be there to rock you harder than a Butkus sack. DJ Chas will spinning tunes and reminiscing about the Cubs' 2009 season highlight (the sweep of the hapless Indians). There will be food! Open bar! Prizes for YOU to win! And of course, a preview-type performance related to our upcoming smash hit 1985! You must attend!

For your edification, enjoy the following. Bear Down.

Monday, August 17, 2009


We're a day late with this one and for that we apologize. After not hitting the boards at the Abbie Hoffman Festival until about 2:25 am (scheduled start time was 1am) on Sunday- we totally overslept and missed Beave's big day. The Factory's "oldest living member and resident frat-humorist" deserves more respect. As the primary contributor to this blog and official Factory historian- Beave gives so much, and yet we skip his birthday in return! Shame on us.
Dear readers- if you happen to see Beave in the near future give him a birthday hug and congratulate him for being co-author ( with Kirk Pynchon) of the first show of next season. Hey! Dancin'!
We Love Beave. He Rules! His Cleveland Browns however, suck. His preoccupation with Billy Joel is a bit disturbing as well- and we're not even gonna say a word about that photo.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Down time? No such thing....

As most of our faithful readers know, there hasn't been much to read here as of late. Which probably makes the readers job pretty easy. Well, consider the little hiatus to be the calm before the storm. One might look at the fact that Dead Wrong has closed and think the Factory is taking their summer vaction now. And sure, we like to go to the beach and Lollapalooza and do all sorts of other stuff, but really- it is during this "down time" when we get tons of stuff done. There's a ton of stuff in the works...and some other things to report, so let's do it.

First things first- Long time Factory fans, friends, and followers know that when August rolls around- you'll find us over at Angel Island presenting something for Mary-Arrchie's Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival. Really, you could just forget about Lollapaloolza this weekend- because as far as August festivals in Chicago go, you can't beat Abbie Hoffman- now in it's 21st year. Basically you're looking at 3 days on non-stop entertainment- starting with a march from Daley Plaza to the theater on Friday, August 14th at 2pm and continuing untill the final performance sometime after midnight rolls around Sunday into Monday. Over 50 different companies, groups and performers do their thing and you never no what you'll see. Quite honestly- the opportunity exists for you to see both the best AND worst thing you've ever seen on a Chicago stage before. Very exciting.

The Factory has gotten in on the action for a number of years now. Last year- we performed our Factory Third Shift Production Shameless Shamuses. In previous years, you may have seen our encore performance of Rapid Fire (an older Factory Classic) or a preview of the yet to be produced Wrestling Show. We've also given sneaks peaks of Captain Raspberry, Operation Infiltration, and others before they were produced. Sometimes we do sketch material, we did Speed the Play one year, hell, one time we passed out beer and shaved Jason Lubow head to toe! It's always something nutty with us.

This year- You'll get a couple of sneak previews of our upcoming fall shows (1985 & Hunky Dory) as well as some new sketch material (Nice Ones & The Factory Time Machine) Good times to be had! The schedule is a bit fluid, but show up just after midnight on Saturday August 15th and you should be able to catch us. (Our scheduled start time is 12:30am.) Rich Cotovosky and the Mary-Arrchie gang are great hosts and this Festival is an essential part of our vibrant theatre scene in this city, Get There!

In other Factory Theater News- Our 2010 Season has been selected! We've got three great shows lined up for next year and our busting at the seems to tell you all about 'em. But...we're gonna wait. A formal (or as formal as we get) announcement can be expected in the next few weeks. Stay Tuned!

This Monday (August 10th)- Make sure you are signed up to get the Factory Theater Eblast

as we will be sending our subscribers details about an event that will be too incredible to miss. It's the type of event you'll want to be able to say "Man, I was there" when all is said and done. Look for it!

Finally, In Factory Sports. Our softball team enjoyed another fun season. Now, in truth we are definitely one of those "it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" type teams. We always have tons of fun and on occassion win a few games. This year, we made it to the second round of the playoffs before gracefully bowing out and hitting Christina's for post-game drinks. Whether celebrating victories, or drowning our sorrows- Christina's Place has been our favorite post-game watering hole. We thank them, and whole-heartedly recommend you check out the "Home of the $2.00 Guiness"

And that's What's Going On, Factory Friends! (lame version link in honor of Lollapalooza, good version HERE.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

See Dead Wrong! TONIGHT!

But don't believe the Factory blog. Believe Time Out Chicago or the Chicago Tribune. There is nothing I can add that Chas hasn't already said in his previous blog. And I agree with Nina Metz -- this is a summer popcorn movie onstage. It's alternately fun and creepy and extremely well-staged.

Director Manny Tamayo sharpens and perfects his already strong grasp of noir, which theatregoers were first introduced to about a year and a half ago with Dirty Diamonds. The show runs through August 1. CHECK IT.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dropping by to say Dead Wrong is RIGHT ON!

Hey Factory Blog Readers-

Beave has graciously allowed me to post to the Factory Blog and I've decided to take him up on the offer. To quote one of Beave's favorite artists (Prince) "I could never take the place of your man" and that certainly isn't my intention- this is Beave's World...Chas is just visiting. Oh yeah, probably should introduce myself. It's me- Chas Vrba, Managing Director of the Factory Theater. I imagine most (if not all) Factory Blog readers know me- but if you don't- that's who I am. I've appeared in a number of Factory shows over the years and designed sound for many of them as well. It's fun to work for and with such an incredible group. If I were particularly religious- I might even say I'm blessed. As I'm not really that religious...I will go with fortunate.

I think Beave might be a bit melancholy after the beat down his Cleveland Indians took from the Chicago Cubs over the weekend so it's probably a good thing that I'm filling in today. I mean no one wants to read posts that are colored by the infinite sadness of a depressed sports fan- so as I am rather jubilant after this past weekend's games- perhaps this is for the best. At least for today.
Aside from a stellar Cubs weekend, the last few days also included some exciting times for the Factory. New ensemble member Ray Brazaski married his sweetheart Jessica Fogle (Congrats, Ray!) and our new show Dead Wrong saw its first audiences outside of company & production team members at preview performances. I was able to attend the first preview on Friday night and found it to be a very exciting departure from our usual fare.

Friday night allowed me to just be a fan of our company once again. Aside from the marketing campaign and various other in-house direct involvement in this show has been more limited than it typically is. I'm not in it, I didn't write or direct it, and I didn't design the sound for it--I just got to enjoy it. Sometimes it's nice to take the time to just appreciate the work of your friends and colleagues and to be reminded how talented they all are. I certainly feel that way now.

Dead Wrong is a departure show for us- close followers of the company will notice that the last few seasons have included a show that takes us out of our comfort zone- I think it's fair to say that most people know and expect us to bring the funny. We can do comedy. However a few seasons ago, we added Dirty Diamonds into the mix and last season, Ceres. This year's curve ball is Dead Wrong, written and directed by ensemble member Manny Tamayo.

If you know Manny, you know that he has a certain affinity for 70's cinema. He is very big fan of the horror genre as well as those B-movie cop and caper thrillers. If you've seen his previous behind-the-scenes Factory work, Operation Infiltration: An Experiment in Terror (writer) and Dirty Diamonds (Director) you know this to be true. While both of those shows had contemporary settings, each one also gave knowing winks and nods to 70's exploitation films.

Dead Wrong continues this trend in Manny's work . I don't want to reveal too much but I will say, Manny's exploration into the exploitation/thriller genre has afforded many Factory regulars with opportunities they ordinarily wouldn't get on our stage and has attracted some talented newcomers as well. Here are some of my thoughts on this talented bunch:

Eric Roach jumped straight from his celebrated turn in Strawdog's Red Noses into the shoes of Mac- A detective with a hard-boiled faced and a streak of unsolved murders that may be his undoing. Roach and drama- Believe It!

Allison Cain returns to the Factory stage for the first time since 2005 (Top Shelf) While it's been great seeing her in numerous successful Lifeline productions over the last few years, it's fantastic seeing her on our stage again. Allison is Donna, a smoky lounge singer who has a Marlena Dietrich/Nico quality to her and the ability to catch Mac's eye.

Anthony Tournis gives us a completely different look from his most recent Factory outing. Those of you who saw Bustin' Out of The Hell and want to see more of the nebbish little funny man are about to get smacked in the face.

Corri Feuerstein has been favorably (and justly) compared to Carol Burnett in the past. I've always known she was hilarious- but she's got incredible dramatic chops as well. Very cool to see her on a Factory stage in a way you haven't seen her before.

Timothy Amos amazes me with his ability to find the freak lurking under his character- this is a wickedly delicious off-beat turn from him.

Josh Graves joined the Factory after working behind the scenes on a few of our shows, He surprised the hell out of me with his role in Mop Top Festival and makes the most out of his stage time here in Dead Wrong. A nice, quiet unassuming fellow (for an actor) off stage, the guy is completely captivating on it. His on stage work has been one of my favorite things of the 2009 season.

Scott Pasko first hit the Factory boards with his suave turn as Gene Siskel in Siskel and Ebert Save Chicago and returned to play with us again during Mop Top Festival. His versatility has been a real asset and despite the t-shirt he likes to sport he is far beyond being "Occasionally Entertaining" His work as Cameron is top notch.

Anderson Lawfer is on our stage for the first time. I look forward to our audiences being introduced to his work. Having seen his work in Red Noses and Open Eye's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest among other things and now with his turn as Clarence in Dead Wrong, I'm thinking this guy is gonna corner the market on playing eccentrics if he hasn't already done so.

Zach Bloomfield is a newcomer who I haven't gotten to know very well yet. His creepy turn in Dead Wrong makes me wonder if I should maintain my distance.

Brian Hinkle brings the right mix of naivete and streetwise menace to his role as young Jimmy, you're gonna wonder if you can trust this kid.

Behind the scenes- the show is in the capable hands of Marlena Carlson and Jermaine Thomas up in the booth. (First preview ran without a technical hitch from what I could tell) C.W. van Baale, Dan Tamarkin and Rachel Sypniewski bring their respective talents to the production team and, as per usual, give us dynamite bang for our buck.

Dann Franke provides us with a set that utilizes more of the playing space than we ever have over at the Prop. Very cool.

Some really nice original music from The New Berwyn Ramblers and finally, a really cool sound design from Tony Ingram. My curiosity regarding the sound design for this show was at an all-time high. Between myself and fellow Factory member Nick Booth we've done the sound design for virtually all the Factory shows for a number of years now. Tony came in and created a very compelling sound scape that helps establish tone and environment throughout the play. Really awesome stuff. You need to come hear for yourself.

Ok- I fully admit this is a total love letter post to both Dead Wrong and the Factory, guilty as charged.

And I'm going to go even further and say you need to see why I'm gushing so effusively and you should do so this FRIDAY at OPENING NIGHT. We have a killer (pun intended) show on our hands and always have an awesome party with free booze. In fact, if you receive Factory Eblasts, you will get one this Wednesday that will provide you with a special discount if you buy your tickets when you get the eblast. You don't get our eblasts? Sign up here:

Now, as a sound designer and DJ you didn't think I'd waste an opportunity to throw some tunes your way, did you? You'll be able to hear a LIVE DJ Chas set at the post show party on Friday. But much like Mop Top Festival had me digging into all sorts of Beatles stuff, Dead Wrong has me revisiting all the old cop movies and sound library music from the seventies. David Shire, Lalo Schifrin, Roy Budd- are just a few of the composers who came out with sweet film soundtracks in the seventies- Jazz-Funk was all the rage back then and the hybrid of the two music genres could be heard in TONS of films and TV shows. For crate diggers, music geeks and instrumental'd be hard pressed to find a better decade to search for forgotten gems. Here's a little treat for you and tip of my cap to Manny & Tony Ingram for reminding me of all the great music from the genre. Just click and listen or download and enjoy! If anyone wants the track list, leave a comment and I'll oblige.

Speaking of the 70's, I'm also really digging Pepsi Throwback.

and I think Pepsi should send the Factory Theater 10 cases of it and a check for $100,000.00 for letting our readers know. Seriously, it. Consider this to be our Pepsi Challenge to you.

Well that's all I got. Thanks for letting me stop by, Beave.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dead Wrong Previews This Weekend

The victims: A dead woman. A missing girl.
The suspects: A famed film director. A recently released mental patient.
Detectives Mac & Chooch are on the case. But are they getting closer to a killer, or are all their leads ending up.....dead wrong?
Previews: This Weekend -- June 19, 20 & 21
Only $10.
Be there.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I hear that Twitter is the Hot New that theater companies need to take advantage of NOW. But how the heck are we supposed to maximize its impact?

Dead Wrong is going real well. I have a well-connected source who informs me last night's rehearsal was particularly terrific. Don't forget -- previews June 19, opening night June 26. Make sure you attend the big opening weekend soiree as well. It ought to be a rockin' time.

Wow, Land of The Lost is getting shitty reviews? I NEVER saw that coming!

Factory Softball is off to an 0-2 start, and we just as easily could be 2-0. New free agent acquisition Derrick Nelson was a key pickup. Kudos to Factory GM Jim, I mean Joe Gehr.

I could try to talk about the 16-inch softball rivalry known as Factory-Annoyance, but mere words fail the intensity of this rivalry. It's the Ohio State-Michigan of softball matchups. Circle June 24 on your calendar. It's going to be a BLOODBATH!

The blog has not properly welcomed Ray Brazaski and Joie Jackson Graves to the Factory ensemble fold. Welcome Joie & Ray! Spooning with the Beave optional!

Wow, but it was great to see Molly Brennan again at the Factory launch party. We gotta get a Q&A going for her.

Speaking of, the launch party at Chief O'Neill's was all kinds of awesome. Jackie Shollins is a barely contained force of nature on stage. Thanks to everyone who attended. You are friends of the Factory and we love you.

Only three more opportunities to see WAFF's "American Notes" in the usual Factory space at the Prop. There are all kinds of Factory people involved with this one, including director Corri Feuerstein. I myself was coaxed out of my hermetically sealed cave to check it out, and I'm glad I did. It was terrific. The on-stage chemistry between Scott Pasko and Devon Carson in particular is worth your time. The show closes Sunday....see it.

Congrats to long-time Factory friends David Cromer and Jen Grace for winning big fancy New York City awards for "Our Town"! Another old Factory face (Scott Parkinson) is currently appearing in the show as well.

See "Up"! Ignore a certain ensemble emeritus' review! Wonderful movie.

Just for the heck of it: Chas Vrba kicks ass and rules the planet.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Catching Up With.....Allison Cain

Allison Cain is as responsible for the success of the Factory Theater as anyone.  She guided the company through some extremely rough waters during this decade, and it is due to her leadership that the Factory is where it is today.  The number of people she has brought into the Factory borders on amazing.  Not only that, but she produced some of the Factory's biggest hits and starred in several others.  (On a personal note, she was Wilma Gladstone.)  What CAN'T she do?

Allison will appear in Dead Wrong (previews June 19, opening June 26) at the Prop, and she took the time to sit down with the Factory blog to plug the new show, reflect on her time at the Factory, and offer her insights into Chicago theater as a whole.  The Factory instantly improved once she set foot through our door.  She's one smart person and her thoughtful answers reflect it.  Enjoy.....

Allison Cain
I saw the first run-thru of Dead Wrong last week, and came away impressed with your performance.  How do you feel the show is going?
The process has been great.  Manny is really big on feedback, so we are now on version 4.  I am a new works freak.  As an actor, I feel like I am helping to shape the show and nothing can beat that. The actors in this show are amazing and it has been a joy working with them.  I also like that I get to kiss a boy. The last play that I was in, I was a nun and therefore, did not kiss anyone.  That sucked.
Currently reading:
When I am in this part of the process, I do not  read anything as all of my free time is spent memorizing lines.  As I get older, it is harder and harder to do so I really have to concentrate on it.  Kind of blows but thems the breaks.  When I am off book, I will go back to this biography of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster that I started.  I also have 2066 next to my bed and I want to get into that one.  Ohhh, I also am in the middle of the second volume of a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.  Christ.  I gotta lot of reading to do.  That just stressed me out.
Recently you signed on as managing director of the Lifeline Theatre.  What do you like best about your new job (besides the ability to walk to work)?
Besides the ability to walk to work (the merits of this should not be underestimated), I love that I am now making my living working for an amazing theater company that does new work.  Previous to taking this position, I acted in four shows at Lifeline and was very impressed with the organization as a whole.  It is an honor to be able to be a part of the staff and have a part in shaping the future of the company.  I am a very lucky person.
There are traces of humor in Dead Wrong, but the overall mood of the show seems to be one of suspense that gradually leads to out-and-out horror.  Would you agree with that?
Yes, I would.  Every single character is this show comes to the table with a lot of personal pain and demons.   For some characters, you see it immediately.  For others, you learn as you go along and all, of course, culminates at the end. 

Your approach to your character is obviously a bit different from Factory roles past.  What do you have to say about Donna (without giving the plot away)?
Actually,  my approach for Donna is no different that it has been for any other character that I have played. I try to get to the heart of the character as soon as possible and then layer from there.  So, whether a part is realistic or cartoon, I always figure out what they want and how they go about getting it.  Can't really say much more cause I do not want to tip my hat.
You basically steered the Factory ship for the better part of this decade.  What achievement in that time are you the most proud of?
I am proud of the fact that the Factory is a creative and safe place to work and that we have survived for so long.  There were times at the beginning of my tenure, that I was not sure we were going to make but through the vision and hard work of many, we came out on top.  We also were able to recruit really well.  The company has some of the most talented people I have ever worked with.  That feels great.
What attracted you to the Factory in the first place?  What show did you first see?
Um, well I always considered myself a dramatic actresss.  I went to Columbia College for a while there, and Sheldon Patinkin kept telling me that I was a comic actress.  When Sheldon tells you something, you gotta listen so I felt like I needed to work out my comedic side which scared the crap outta me.  What attracted me about the Factory was the manic brillance of the work, the speed at which the comedy came at you, and the creative forces behind all of it.  That and the group could knock back beers like you would not believe.  I think the first show I saw was Alive...and I loved it.
In your opinion, what should off-Loop theatres be focusing on to survive the current economic mess we're all in?
Companies need to be conservative in their budgeting and extravegant in their creative product.  Programming should never be cut due to lack of funds.  If need be, companies should figure out how to do more on stage for less money.  Cut back on the set desgin if you must, but never, ever cut your season down.  Our shows are our product.  If we cut back on them, why would any potential donor or funder, want to contribute?
Do you feel that the on-stage talent drives the success of a theater company, or is it the organization and fund-raising ability of the company's management?
Both.  The onstage talent creates the passion necessary to keep the momentum of the company going.  The leadership of the organization harnasses this energy and steers the ship by using good business sense which includes but is not limited to fundraising, prudent financial planning and relationship management (with a touch of crazy thrown in because this is a ridiculous business).
Your greatest on-stage moment:
This is tough because every show I do, I fall in love with the character I am playing.   So, that is kind like asking me to pick my favorite child.  Can't do it.  

(Editor's Note:  What she meant to say was:  "Every moment I have ever spent on stage with you, Beave."  But that would have created some problems, huh?)
Jazz or blues?  You can only pick one.
If I can only pick one, I guess that would have to be jazz.
If you and Manny could hang out with just one person for a night, it would be:
Wow.  Manny and I have to agree on something?  Hmmmmm... that is going to be tough.  OOOOOOHHH, I got it.  Okay, it is two people but I know that he would want to hang out with them.  Gonna have to be Gena Rowlands and John Cassavettes.