Chicago Theater

All posts tagged Chicago Theater

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Man Meat

Published August 12, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan


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The one thing that has always struck me as both unique and heartbreaking about the theatrical performance is its impermanence. Once it is done, it’s done and if you weren’t there, it isn’t even a vaporous speck in your consciousness. Of course occasionally, whether in rehearsal or secretively done during a performance, footage can be recorded for posterity.

Such is the case with Zombie Bathhouse: A Rock Musical. I wrote the book for this show that premiered during the Halloween season in Chicago last fall. Along with the ghastly limb chewing action and romance – (Yes, romance. This was a musical, after all.) – that occurred onstage; some ghostly presence got some recorded evidence of the show. Now we have a super cool music video of one of composer-lyricist Scott Free’s most aggressive numbers, Man Meat.

Nicely, this leaves an imprint for both the work of director Dan Foss and one of the show’s inspirations, Joey Kissling. Foss, who was suffering from kidney and heart disease, died nine days after the close of the show. His imaginativeness helped flesh out the show’s structure and his love for the cast allowed everyone to overcome the emotional hurdles involved with mounting a larger production with ease.  Kissling, meanwhile, provided the spiritual outline for Michael, the show’s conflicted and defiant lead. Kissling succumbed to an aggressive form of cancer in the spring of 2016 and Michael was created in his honor. Now, thanks to the existence of this video, they both have a more permanent and much deserved legacy.

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Dan Foss directing the ZB cast.

For those interested in the production itself, please feel free to visit

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!





Zombie Bathhouse Chronicles: Paging Dr. Martino!

Published October 21, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan


Hmmm…That old performing truism about not writing something for a cast member that you wouldn’t do yourself has come back to haunt me, as of late.

For years, I’ve been working with composer-lyricist (and Chicago institution) Scott Free on a project called Zombie Bathhouse: A Rock Musical. After a number of readings (and lots and lots of rewriting and reimagining and… well, you get the picture), we were ready to hit those Midwest stages, last week, for a professional run. Naturally, our amazing and dedicated cast was firmly in place, when circumstances twisted, as they are want to do, and I found myself recruited – or ham that I am, did I offer myself up willing!?!? – to take over the role of the mysterious Dr. Martino, the man responsible for the many nightmares endured by the show’s tortured romantic hero, Michael.

Honestly, it’s the last position that I expected to find myself in…but after some inner grumbling and heavy sighing, I’ve actually found myself immensely enjoying being one of the many creepy cogs in a creative machine again. My artistic journey began in the theatrical trenches and I had forgotten how amazing backstage comradery can feel. It’s been very satisfying being part of a unit working for a common goal…and the fact that this, (quite possibly) my final theatrical stage appearance, is in a work of horror makes it all the more satisfying.

More than anything, though, this experience makes me respect artists everywhere all the more. There are so many beautiful things involved with creating something, but so many risks and heartaches, as well. Sometimes those negatives can even outweigh the positives…and, damn, don’t those failures fucking burn?!? But, still we persist. Therefore, I want to send up a salute to my fellow cast mates and to all who dare to risk, to dream and to falter, on a daily basis. We’re warriors, folks, and even the mysterious and totally unsavory Dr. Martino would probably have to bow down to that.

Zombie Bathhouse runs until October 29th at The Center on Halsted. Further information is available at

Until the next time, Sweet love and pink Grue, Big Gay Horror Fan!




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Jackson Headlines Musical Horror Story

Published December 15, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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There is nothing that a gay dude loves more than a diva. Well, maybe there’s…but s-h-h-h…I can’t talk about that here. Anyhow, in my book, if anyone could take on Jessica Lange in the Chicago theater community, it’s the divinely eclectic Caitlin Jackson. Nicely, she seems to be doing just that with her role of Reverend Mother in The Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company’s Ryan Murphy send-up Musical Horror Story Exorcism.

From all glimpses, this production promises to offer a bit of blood, a lot of humor and, well, Ms. Jackson (pictured, right, in the photo)! There are only 3 performances left – Thursday, Friday and Saturday, December 15-17th, at the Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton, in Chicago. So throw all of your bad habits onto the CTA (or however you get about in this unholy city) and head on over!

More information is available at:

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Countess Bathory: A New Elizabethan Tragedy

Published June 8, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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Many have wondered how I have stayed so youthful over the years. Personally, I think it has something to do with the ingredients in the vanilla frosting from those wizards at Dunkin’ Donuts – but please don’t quote me.

Others, though, have more insidious ways of maintaining their dainty glow. The most notorious of these, of course, is the savagely entitled Countess Bathory. Indeed, terror film projects as assorted as ‘50s cheese fest The Wasp Woman, ‘70s Hammer horror Countess Dracula and the more recent Stay Alive have definitely been inspired by this 16th century noble woman, who was accused of murdering over 600 young girls for their restorative fluids.countess bathory 2

Now, a number of eclectic Chicago theater veterans are tackling the tale of this bloodthirsty dame with Countess Bathory: A New Elizabethan Tragedy. Excitedly claiming to feature “several depictions of physical, psychological, and ritual abuse” this presentation is written by Jared McDaris and features one of Midwest stage’s hottest genre loving temptresses, Mary-Kate Arnold, in the title role. Nicely, this steamy odyssey is free to the public throughout its brief run, as well.

Reservations are, currently, being accepted at and, don’t worry, you don’t have to be a virginal female to sign up! (Thank the goddess for small favors, huh?)

Countess Bathory: A New Elizabethan Tragedy runs from June 9th – June 25th at the Right Brain Project, 4001 N. Ravenswood, in Chicago. Right Brain Project (4001 N Ravenswood Ave, Ste 405)Further information is available at

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Review: Mike Mother

Published May 27, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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Add a dash of Joyce Carol Oates style mystery to the Neo-Futurists’ regular blend of theater games, performance art and personal story telling and you’ve got a good take on their current production, Mike Mother. Not surprisingly, the title’s close parallel to Marsha Norman’s Pulitzer Prize winning play ‘night, Mother is also explored in full measure by writer-performer Jessica Anne who, simultaneously, seems to embrace and mock that popular play as she explores her own relationship with her mother here.

That relationship is surrounded by death and deception and, even though the Neo-Futurists are noted for their truthful accounting, the show’s primary strength lies in the gothic vagaries involved with this particular story. As Jessica Anne admits, with a smirk, she’s “evolved” and one is never quite sure what is fantasy or fact here – a tantalizing proposition that allows the piece to stick in your mind for days afterward.

Granted, the final moments involve a bit more self-indulgent introspection than most Neo-Futurists shows, but Jessica Anne still emerges as one of the most interesting performers in the Chicago theater scene. She is ably backed up by actor Mike Hamilton, the Mike of the title, as they explore her past and invite an audience member or two on the stage to share theirs, as well. Director Josh Matthews and scenic designer Erik Newman also contribute, grandly, with specific focus applied to the production’s centerpiece, a beautiful white bathtub, which is used to splashy effect here.

Mike Mother runs through June 4th at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland in Chicago. Further information is available at

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!


Review: The Summer of Daisy Fay

Published August 6, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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New American Folk Theatre’s charming production of The Summer of Daisy Fay, based on comedian-author Fannie Flag’s popular Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, ultimately, shows how far and how little we have come with concern to women’s rights and the equality of the GLBT community.

As played, subtly and enthusiastically, by the adorable Charlie Irving, Daisy Fay recounts her adventures under the charming Southern tutelage of an urbane gay man. It’s the late 50s and, as the show opens, Daisy Fay’s distinguished sponsor is putting the finishing touches on his pliable creation in anticipation of her competing in the upcoming Miss Mississippi Contest.daisy-fay-7822

Of course, Daisy Fay doesn’t find every recipient of small town masculinity quite so impressive. As bitterly recounted by Irving, the audience soon discovers that Daisy Fay’s dearest childhood friend has been the victim of a familial rape and is now indentured to her abusive father.

We, also, learn of how Daisy Fay helps a local businessman escape a raid at the local gay watering hole and eventually, in humorous detail, just exactly how her beauty crown ambitions play out.

Full of down home humor and hope, Daisy Fay, courtesy of Irving’s skilled commitment and playwright Ed Howard’s effective words, is eventually revealed to be the type of person that the world needs more of. Understanding and full of warm acceptance, this character would surely be mortified that, in contemporary society, women still must defend their right to proper birth control and that, despite major advances, that gay, lesbian and trans men and women (and their supporters) are still being attacked and murdered in the streets.

Lovingly directed by Anthony Whitaker, and produced in association with Redtwist Theatre, The Summer of Daisy Fay runs until August 17th at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr in Chicago. Please visit for more information.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Sharkbait Retro Village: 1983’s Through Naked Eyes

Published March 1, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

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Mindy gets kinky!

tne1Indeed, one of the prime attractions of 1983 television psycho thriller Through Naked Eyes is watching fresh faced Pam Dawber (Mork and Mindy, My Sister Sam) explore her darker nature. As a magazine writer who begins spying on David Soul’s somber musician after an accidental sighting, Dawber makes her intrusive obsession seem plausible and (almost) innocent while, honestly, acknowledging its more erotic undertones. Meanwhile as a couple, she and Soul (Starsky and Hutch, Salem’s Lot), who brings a steely, far off intensity to his role, click while simultaneously seeming like one of the tube’s odder pairings.

Of course, a deranged murderer throws some complications into the couple’s budding romance. Roaming the halls of the pair’s apartment complex, this mysteriously assailant has knifed a senior citizen, a residential employee and a deaf mute – and it looks like Dawber’s Anne may be the next victim. A misguided police detective is convinced that Soul’s William is the killer and when Anne believes him; her life truly enters the danger zone.tne2

Director John Llewellyn Moxey (The Night Stalker, No Place to Hide) was a master of television terror and he helps his leads supply a layered complexity to their interactions. There is, also, some vague suspense and a bit of brutality featured to keep things interesting. The reveal of the killer is a non-event, but those who appreciate such films as Eyes of the Stranger, Someone’s Watching Me and even (in a dramatic stretch) Rear Window should enjoy themselves here.

What might be most interesting, though, is the league of Chicago based actors (where this was lensed) who fill out the supporting and minor roles, here. Performers like John Mahoney, Ted Levine and Dennis Franz obviously went onto bigger things but anyone familiar with Midwestern theatrics should delight to the presence of such boards treading stalwarts as Amy Morton and Annabel Armour, as well.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan