The Playgoer: Hedy Weiss Stole My Line

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hedy Weiss Stole My Line

By Suzy Evans

So, I was going to create a fabulous list of all the Chicago-centric shows that are opening on Broadway this season, but Chicago Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss beat me to it. (And it's much better than mine would have been.) Here's Weiss's preview of all the shows that will be hitting the Great White Way: Keith Huff's A Steady Rain, David Cromer's Broadway directing debut doubleheader, Tracy Letts' new play and the Chicago pre-Broadway engagement of the new Addams Family Musical.

Read Weiss's article here.

She also provides some great insight on why so many Chicago shows make it in New York, including some interesting commentary from The New York Times critic Charles Isherwood.

In New York you can have immediate rewards -- a role in a TV show, a movie -- but that's not necessarily artistic development. The economics of the real estate situation for theater also are still better in Chicago.
Producer Scott Morfee of the Barrow Street Theatre, where Cromer's Our Town is currently playing, thinks Chicago provides greater artistic freedom for this reason. And by bringing work from Chicago, the flavor of Off-Broadway is becoming less Broadway-focused.
You just find a space, the union is not always on your back, and it costs less to develop work over a longer period. The result is really good work. That organic way of working exists in New York, too, but then you lose the space where you're working, or there's not enough time to move a show or extend it. It's a real estate issue.
Steppenwolf Executive Director David Hawkanson spoke about how more new work happening in Chicago. Chicago theater company The New Colony also wrote about this on their blog in response to Time Out New York theater editor David Cote's wishlist for New York theater.
Chicago is one of the greatest cities for innovative and exciting new ideas. New artists are welcomed openly here. We want the new blood. We don’t make it hard to start working here. There really is something for everyone.

So let’s make that the mantra of this city. Chicago is not New York. Nor will it ever be. Nor do we want it to be! Chicago needs to declare and solidify itself as America’s City of New Theater.

Amen. Bring us more new work! New York is watching.


Andrew Hobgood said...

Thanks for helping to bring attention to our Goals list, Suzy!

- Andy and The New Colony

Kerry said...

And though I don't think it originated in Chicago and it's playing Off-Broadway, BJ Jones' production of "The Lady With All the Answers" (one-woman show about late Chicago advice columnist Ann Landers), which was seen at Northlight in Skokie, will be at the Cherry Lane in NYC this fall with Judith Ivey returning as Landers.