"Rick Bayless in Cascabel" (Lookingglass Theatre): What Chicago craves...gourmet sensuality!

"Rick Bayless in Cascabel" (Lookingglass Theatre):  What Chicago craves...gourmet sensuality!

cascabel |ˈkaskəˌbel|  a small red chile pepper of a mild-flavored variety.

#66. There is nothing small or mild about this CASCABELLookingglass Theatre, Frontera Grill and Silverguy Entertainment present RICK BAYLESS IN CASCABEL.  The boarding house has a new cook.  He is creating a stir with his enticing recipes.   People bite into his creations and unusual things happen.  Women flirt.  Men strip.  Banana chunks fly. The daily specials are one aphrodisiac after another.  Everybody wants what the cook is dishing up except the proprietor.  She isn’t having it.  She refuses to eat.  Her broken heart leaves her stomach empty.  How can the cook tempt her with what he has to offer?  RICK BAYLESS IN CASCABEL is just what Chicago craves… gourmet sensuality!        

 Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless is out of his kitchen onto the stage.  It’s *Dinner Theatre* but Chicago-style…stuffed!  This show is bursting with flavor!   It’s not the Chuckwagon Playhouse where we are gnawing on a mass-produced chicken leg to “Oklahoma” tunes.  At CASCABEL, we indulge in decadent fine dining as an aerialist pours wine.  The show was co-created by Bayless, Tony Hernandez and Heidi Stillman.  Bayless and Hernandez perform their own specialities.  And Hernandez and Stillman serve as co-directors.  

The three hour experience pairs up with a three course meal.  It’s how a foodie does theatre.  Upon arrival, we are greeted with a spoon full of delicious.  Guests are offered two types of appetizers in the lobby.  One is guacamole-based and the other is anchored in a chorizo flavor.  Literally, they are served on an oversize spoon and accompanied by a margarita.  Guests meander into Lookingglass Theatre which has been transformed into a restaurant.  Large wooden communal tables with mismatched chairs add to the “Like Water for Chocolate” vibe. The backdrop is a two story Mexican-style house. The stage is a functioning kitchen with dining area.  Bayless is at the stove.  A guitarist is strumming.  Guests are mingling.  Its not so much the show has started, its more like we’ve joined life already in progress.        

The cuisine is Bayless’ hallmark of innovation.  The fusion of flavors is a tastebud explosion.  The food presentations are equally surprising and alluring.  At each place, an oversize leaf is tooth-picked with a note.  It instructs the guest not to open it yet.  It creates a grownup Christmas morning anticipation.  In fact, all the courses are greeted with kid-like squeals from our entire table.  The tuna ceviche mingles fish with mango essences and popcorn.  The texture and tasty combo is incredibly unique.  The main course is beef tenderloin swimming in a mole.  The sauce is spicy, both heat and richness.  Restraint is required to keep from licking the bowl clean.  Dessert is a chocolate cake layered with an almost sour filling.  The dark chocolate coupled with the citrus gives it a lingering depth without making it too sweet.  Bon Appetite, Chef Bayless, your food is diva-licious and applause-worthy!   

This dinner theatre production is also about a play.  The story is cute.  The dialogue is funny.  The acting is fine.  And the theatrics are PHENOMENAL!  High-wire enthusiast Hernandez has gathered his circus sidekicks for a kick-ass show. All the stunt bits are worked in-between courses and performed by boarding home personnel. Hernandez, himself the houseboy, does a striptease then gets dressed while perched on a high-wire.  Excessive death-defying and I loved it!  A couple of travelers, Nicolas Besnard and Shenea Booth, serve up saucy, sexy, and scary moves.  Besnard tosses and catches Booth effortlessly.  Their physicality is amazing.  Their sensuality is off-the-charts HOT!  In a solo bit, eighteen-year old Alexandra Pivaral takes a steamy bath.  Pivaral is an extraordinary contortionist.  Full disclosure:  some of her unbelievably difficult maneuvers made me queasy.                     

This show is about having fun!  Keeping it light, Jesse Perez facilitates as the wise-cracking Maitre’D.  Hanging from the chandeliers, the adorable Lindsay Noel Whiting is marveling pouring wine upside-down.  But the show-stopping buffoonery belongs to Anne Goldmann and Jonathan Taylor.  It’s bananas and it’s fricking hilarious!  They go back and forth spitting banana chunks into each other’s mouth.  I was laughing so hard that I cried off my mascara.  I’m delighted to read post-show that Goldmann and Taylor are married in real-life.  Somehow, their gross antics seem a little more acceptable as a wedded pair.    

Wow! Wow! WOW!  RICK BAYLESS IN CASCABEL is a must-see, must-eat, must-enjoy show.  Limited tickets are available but rumors are already circulating about the afterlife of this mouth to feat culinary extravaganza! 

Enjoying the preordered vegetarian option, Jen describes it with sensual, savory & social.’

Running Time:  Three hours, no formal intermission but plenty of time to chat

At Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan 

Co-created by Rick Bayless, Tony Hernandez and Heidi Stillman

Co-directed by Tony Hernandez and Heidi Stillman

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7pm

Sundays at 5pm

Thru April 29th

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