Friday, October 26, 2007

A Fall Night Out in Rogers Park: Catching Cabaret, Carving Pumpkins

The amazing and very local (it's literally right around the corner from me at 6970 N. Glenwood Ave.) theater company Theo Ubique is mounting a new production of the musical Cabaret. Last night a group of us attended the final preview before tonight's opening. Under the incredible direction of Fred Anzevino, all the performances were exceptional and I highly recommend dropping by Rogers Park to check it out.

I even have a small personal connection to the production. My good friend George Kokines created 30 large scale drawings based on the sketches of George Grosz, which I helped hang around the theater space to give the audience added insight into the time and place of the drama.

The sometimes cartoonish, sometimes ghoulish characters that populate Grosz's drawings definitely put one in the mood of Berlin between the wars. Below is a sampling of the pieces we hung along the south wall of the space ...

If you're not familiar with Cabaret, it's an interesting play to revive now. Depicting the denizens of a decadent Berlin night club sleep walking their way through life as the Nazis rise to power, it's a cautionary tale of the need to be on guard against the naive belief that the worst can never happen and others will take care of society's problems for us.

Choosing to ignore the spread of brutal, reactionary and racist ideologies, we end up abetting the contagion. There are times when we have to take a stand, no matter how much we'd rather be dancing our lives away. Here is a more detailed shot of a couple sketches ...

After the play ended, our little gang of drawing hangers met at the local watering hole (the Buffalo Bar at the Heartland Café) to raise a glass to the kickoff of a very successful run for Theo Ubique. Sophie, below letting Jim know what's what, organized a pumpkin carving to benefit the good folks at the Howard Area Community Center. If you click on the image to enlarge it and squint, you can make out my knife work next to Sophie's elbow.

Terry, who risked life and limb atop a rickety ladder to staple most of the drawings in place, had a point at the end of his finger to make ...

George basked in the awareness that 25 cents would soon be his because of the Red Sox trending toward a World Series sweep of my favored Rockies. Wanting to give us amateurs a chance, he left the gourd sculpting to Jim and I.

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