Friday, October 10, 2014

Review of The House Theatre of Chicago's Season on the Line

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Season on the Line. It was by Shawn Pfautsch and directed by Jess McLeod. It was about a theater company that was not in very good shape because the person who was directing Moby Dick, Ben Adonna (Thomas J. Cox),which was supposed to be their grand production, was a little insane. Actually, a lot insane. He was insane because he didn't think about what was good for the theater company very much. He just thought about what was good for himself and the production. And I think this play taught you that you shouldn't think too much about the reviewer if they are scary to you because then you will try too hard to make it good and then it will be bad. And if the reviewer even seems nice, you should do your best not to be scared. You should make art because you want to. I thought this show was very cool because there are not that many shows about what it is like to be in a theater company. It shows you that it can be very hard, that it is not all happy happy fun times, but it can also be an experience that can change a person, like the Narrator (Ty Olwin) changes from not knowing anything about theater to feeling like he is a pro because he has experienced almost everything that could possibly happen in the theater.

I thought it was cool how the set (by Lee Keenan) looked like an old swimming pool because that was what the theater was supposed to look like. It was cool how there was a hole in the swimming pool that was basically the entrance to the stage. The set told you that this was a theater company that needed help because their backstage and front stage both looked like old swimming pools. I thought that would have been a cool set even for just Moby Dick.

I liked how the meetings seemed actually like production meetings and meetings of actors. This play is about what it is like to be backstage or onstage at a theater. There are a lot of things that are unanswered in even the tenth meeting. Like the costume designer Valerie (Jessica Dean Turner) seemed like the nicest character, and she found out that all her costume ideas were going to be trashed because of Ben. Every designer had their ideas trashed either by Ben or by Faye (Tiffany Yvonne Cox) who was basically a pretty strange woman who came around showing everyone this paper flower, which was supposedly going to be the set. But nobody knew how it was going to work because they didn't have enough money. And they couldn't make it electronic. This shows you that their company needs help because their only help is this crazy woman.

They had a bunch of different types of directors to show you what it is like to have different directors and to experience them one after the other. Elizabeth Fricke (Marika Mashburn) was very nice and funny and she treated her actors and designers all like she'd known them forever. She was happy to accept other people's ideas. Peter Trellis (Andy Lutz) was a director who wanted to get things done but had a slightly short temper. But he wasn't so mean that people hated him. He wants to make every person that he is with feel like they are awesome and cute or beautiful. He starts every rehearsal by saying something like, "this looks like a very attractive crowd of actors!" He is not very confident about himself so he needs help from people. I think that Elizabeth was much more confident about herself than Peter, but we still haven't gotten to the worst director. Ben Adonna was basically the scariest director that there has ever been because he wanted everything to be perfect and exactly his way. No one could have any say about it except him him him him him Faye and him.

I thought that Joao (Christopher M. Walsh) was really funny because he had all these different hand signs and he was so serious about them. It was just so funny. One time the stage manager Day (Maggie Kettering) told the narrator what Joao meant, but I think he was actually insulting her. I thought the stage manager character was a great character to have in a show because most people don't understand how hard a stage manager's job is. So now, I want to give a shout out to Brian DesGranges who is the real stage manager for this show! The stage manager's job is so hard because anything the director can't do it is the stage manager's job. She has to fix the costumes if the designer isn't around and take care of all the actors' problems. And if they have an evil director named Ben then the stage manager's job is the worst!

The benefit scene was very funny because of this giant speech that Ben had and when Nan (Allison Latta), who was an actress and like a managing director, started talking to him like "Ok, I think that is enough" he just kept going and going about how awesome his production was going to be. Then her face just went into fear and then he would glare at her, but then he would be done.

The lighting designer's name was Ashley Salt (Mary Hollis Inboden) and I liked how she seemed very serious about her job. But she was also a funny character. I loved when she brought in her mini light system to show to everyone and it changed different colors and everyone was like "Oh! That's very cool! Lovely!" and they kept going on like that. She acts all nice when she is around other people, but when she talks to the audience she seems really angry!

There was a character named Kaku (Danny Bernardo) who was basically a bartender and an actor in The Great Gatsby. He was also very nice to everybody. I think he was kind of in love with the narrator, but maybe he was just really good friends with him and loved him when he was drunk. He was special because he never lost hope really even when Ben was being mean to everyone.

I think that I would love to see a Great Gatsby with Mickey (Abu Ansari) in it because even if you didn't see him actually act on stage as Gatsby, you saw him rehearse and he was great. They cast him as Gatsby because they wanted to make a change to make Gatsby not white. It seemed like a great idea because when they say, "We're all white here," if people look at the waiter, who is not as significant a character, then it wouldn't show how much Gatsby is discriminated against.

Amos Delaney (Shane Kenyon) was basically a movie star who came to be in the shows because he used to be a good friend of the company. But he is also a professional jerk. He thinks he should be treated like the biggest hero on earth, which he is not at all. He also basically turns into a four year old through the middle of the play because he discovers that he is not who he is pretending to be. So he starts over by being a little kid again, so he can start over his life and be like he used to be. You feel like at the beginning that he is hopeless and that he will never get better and he will always be a jerk, but at the end you actually feel sorry for him.

The reviewer Arthur Williamson (Sean Sinitski), also known as the white whale, basically everything in the play depends on him because if he doesn't give the shows a good review it is the end of the company. I think that it is good that reviewers have power but not that they can have so much power that by giving a bad review everyone would be without a job. I think it is true, as Arthur Williamson says, that you want to be true to your readers and be true to the theater company, but you can't always do both. Arthur Williamson was a sympathetic character because you saw it was hard for him to be kind to everyone. I can say "people who would like this show" about anything because even if I don't like a show, maybe other people would like it. I try to find the best things possible in the shows to put in my reviews. And there has never been a time in a show where I couldn't find something that was at least mildly good.

People who would like this show are people who like reviewers, theater companies, and paper flowers. I think that people should definitely go see this show. I really enjoyed this show because it was funny but it was also sad because the theater company in the play is on its last legs and you know it. I think that people who aren't familiar with what it is like backstage will learn a lot from this show and love it, and I think people who do know a lot about theater will also love this show because they will recognize certain aspects of what their own experiences have been like.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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