#72. Josh and I host a podcast called Chicago Theatre Off Book. In 6 months, we’ve produced 24 shows. We bring the theatre community in to chat about what they do best: Entertain Chicago! And big or small, all theatres have the same struggle. Everybody is chasing that next big hit that will fill the seats and pay the bills.
A Gang of Actors and Chemically Imbalanced Comedy Production presents JOHNNY THEATRE. A Hollywood actor announces his return to his Chicago roots to produce his play, “Dusty”, a 3+ hour epic. That’s news to everyone including the storefront theatre that birthed the star. Havoc Theatre is in…well havoc! No hit in years. The rent is due. The artistic director works extra hours at Starbucks to cover the bills. Suddenly, “Dusty” thrusts Havoc into the spotlight. AND Chris Jones is on the phone. The Kingmaker is calling Havoc! He wants a quote for the Trib. Everything is about to change because Johnny is coming home… oh but you should call him Jonathan. JOHNNY THEATRE lovingly and hilariously mocks the Chicago storefront scene.
The writing team of Kirk Pynchon (LA) and Mike Beyer (Chicago) go long distance to tell the tale of two cities. Pynchon and Beyer base their story, of a former Chicago stage actor turned Hollywood success, on several famous actors. The premise of an egomaniac abandoning and then returning to his struggling theatre company is an industry-sized satire. In the lead, Anderson Lawfer (Jonathan) is outstanding as a charismatic dick with no self-awareness. He’s so scarily-real, I’ve decided my long-time crush on Andy will definitely end if Anderson goes to Hollywood. Lawfer is a hoot! Under the direction of Mary O’Connor, the buffoonery is waiting-for-Guffman spoof-tastic! The actors playing actors in rehearsal is a rare glimpse into any director’s migraine. Hysterical! Casey Pilkenton plays the hardworking artistic director with big heaps of creative passion and lunacy tolerance. A perfectly frustrated Pilkenton embodies an Artistic Director’s worst nightmareS.
JOHNNY THEATRE is funny! The insiders’ takes on Chicago theatre makes for a familiar and wacky show. Some of the jokes and bits get repetitive especially in the second act. But for anyone in the Chicago theatre community -actors, writers, designers, directors, stage managers, reviewers – this show is like going to a party where you get all the inside jokes. Consider yourself invited and go to JOHNNY THEATRE.
Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes includes an intermission
At Chemically Imbalanced Comedy Theatre, 1422 W. Irving Park Road
Written by Kirk Pynchon and Mike Beyer
Directed by Mary O’Connor
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Thru May 12th
BYOB and Buy Tickets at www.cicomedy.com