Auntie Mame

As some of you may know, my friend-since-childhood Walt Willey (better known to some of you as Jackson Montgomery from ABC’s late, lamented All My Children) and I teamed up about six years ago. Our mission: to return community theatre to our home town of Ottawa, Illinois.
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We started with a production of The Odd Couple that was, to put it mildly, a rousing success, thanks to more people than I can mention. We followed that with a long line of theatrical classics, including Arsenic and Old Lace, Plaza Suite, Harvey, and Deathtrap, a big show every summer while we helped mentor local students interested in improvisation and theatrical acting. We sweetened the pot each summer by bringing in so many of Walt’s All My Children co-stars, including Jill Larsen, Julia Barr, Taylor Miller, Kale Brown, Bobbi Eakes, and Vincent Irrizary.
One of the drawbacks of going to London is that it means I won’t be able to do the summer show this year. Auntie Mame is going to be our biggest production yet, and if you are going to be anywhere within driving distance (or heck, within flying distance) of Ottawa, Illinois, I would strongly advise you to check it out July 25, 26, and 27. Tickets and more information are available through http://www.experienceottawa.com or simply by calling 815-434-2737.
Oh, and by the way, be sure to get there on time, as there is a virtual appearance by yours truly. Okay, so I am participating, even though I’ll be in London. But you’ll have to be there to see what I’m talking about.
And break a leg, Auntie Mame!

The Last Night of Monty Python

It’s hard to believe it’s finally here.

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When John Cleese told me about it last September, it seemed like a long way off. But this is it. Some of my friends think that if this is successful, it’s going to lead to a tour. Based on what I know (but can’t really talk about), I don’t think so. For one thing, this show is just too big to tour–and the individual Pythons are just too busy to do this again. So if you want to see it live, at least on the big screen, it’s now or never.

I’ll probably try to write a longer appreciation afterward, either after the show or after I get back to the States. And yes, I do know what a lucky bastard I am to have gotten to hang out with them all over the decades.

Goodbio iO

Time out from Python for more comedy.

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This is the last week of the iO Theatre at its North Clark Street location, before it opens in August at its new-and-improved four-stages-no-waiting location by North Avenue and Clybourn.

It’s hard for me to be too pained by its passing (particularly because the new one is going to be so cool).

I already lost my first iO, though we called it the Improv Olympic back then, and I hardly even noticed at the time.

Crosscurrents Cabaret was just north of Belmont on Wilton, and that’s where it all started. When the Baron’s Barracudas wound up their run, I didn’t see as much of it for a while. But the iO has always wandered a bit, even when I was taking classes at Crosscurrents. It’s now been on North Clark for decades, where it has housed classrooms, stages featuring some of the best improvisation anywhere, and well as the earthly remains of Del Close. In recent years I’ve reconnected and begun teaching again, and I can see why so many are so sad to be losing it.

A few years back, I remember Dave Pasquesi pointing out a huge construction site on Wilton near Belmont. It was all gone, every scrap, and I was surprised at how little affected I was.

So I can only tell you this–I’ve lost the iO before, and it’s not about the location, it’s about the work. The iO always comes back bigger and better than before, and I have every confidence that this will be the case this time. Good work, Charna. See you at the new digs, Del.

Big Pythonic announcement

At last! Whether you’re going to the O2 this week, watching The Last Night of Python at one of the hundreds of theatres around the world, or simply aren’t near enough to do either, the perfect Python accessory is here at last.
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When I started writing Monty Python from the Inside OutI began jotting down all sorts of interesting Python trivia, much of which I had forgotten about.
What’s the connection between Monty Python and Game of Thrones? Was Elvis Presley a Python fan? Who was the only Python to take acting lessons?
If you think you know everything there is to know about Monty Python, then wait till you read Monty Python from the Inside Out.
Monty Python from the Inside Out answers such questions as: Which Python was a Broadway star decades before Monty Python’s Spamalot? Which one was a physics major in college? Whose comedy career was due to a Royal Command? Who was an international journalist? Which one served in the Army? And who wrote the worst Python sketches?
And Monty Python from the Inside Out answers questions you didn’t even think to ask, such as: What was the most painful Python sketch to film? Which books inspired the most Python sketches? What sparked the biggest fight within the group?
And learn the facts behind the Python films as well. Was Holy Grail cursed? Who bought the world’s most expensive movie ticket? And what was the real-life inspiration for Mr. Creosote?
This undersized book at an undersized price is filled with stories about the time the Pythons and the Beatles nearly teamed up, who lobbied to be a member of Monty Python, and the connection between Monty Python and Charlie Chaplin.
As the Pythons celebrate their 45th anniversary with a farewell reunion show at London’s O2 Arena, there’s no better time to look back at lunacy, Python-style.
I think recent Python fans will find much they didn’t know about here, and even longtime fans will be surprised about a great deal of this. At any rate, it’s undersized and underpriced. If you’re going to be seeing the Pythons say goodbye this weekend, think of it as an Pythonic hors d’oeuvre to whet your e-appetite.
No hard sell. If you like Python, I think you’ll love this e-book. If you don’t–hey, what are you doing here in the first place??

Pythonic Posting…

My posting over the next week-and-a-half is going to be more erratic than usual. As I may have mentioned, I’m going off to London to see the Pythons.
I’ll be posting whenever possible, although I don’t know how much that will be–maybe a lot, maybe not all all. If it’s the latter, boy, am I gonna have a lot to write about when I get back here… #montypythonlive

Python tease…

Whether you’re going to be seeing the Python Reunion show this week or not, I’ve got an announcement that may enhance your appreciation of the current occupants of the O2 Arena. However, I can’t reveal it quite yet. Not that I don’t want to–but I can’t. As soon as I can announce it, I’ll explain why I couldn’t announce it sooner. But I’ve been working on it for a little while now, and it’s something that, for several reasons, I wanted to finish while the Pythons were still doing the show.
I hate to be a tease–believe me, I’m really excited, and I’d love to tell you now–but I have to wait. But soon. Very soon. #montypythonlive

Time Out for Terry!

In the midst of all of the hoopla over Monty Python Live, let us not forget that Terry Gilliam has a new film coming out in the U.S. in August. Here’s the latest trailer for The Zero Theorum:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PuSJX5Lo-o

 

The First Half of the Last Shows…

Here’s a tantalizingly brief clip from the first week of #montypythonlive

This will excite those who were there, and those who will be there for the second and final week. It will please those who will be seeing the Last Night of Monty Python at their local theatres on July 20. It will undoubtedly irritate those who haven’t gone, aren’t going, and live in remote areas inaccessible to theatres. Those poor sods will simply have to wait for the DVD.