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 on....in 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.

Also...do 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? Um...so --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, now...as 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!