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.