Barber of Seville, Richard III, and Athenaeum Fundraiser — Playtime Chicago Theater Report 10.6.2019

Photo Credit: Barber of Seville Dress Rehearsal at the Lyric Opera, Todd Rosenberg

(Lightly edited transcript below.)

Eclectic Full Contact Theatre is proud to announce the opening of Richard III at the Athenaeum which, by happy coincidence, runs through November the Third. Tickets are on sale and range from $22 for students, kids, and seniors to $32 for a full-price ticket. Shows are produced on Thursday Friday and Saturday evenings, with matinees on Sundays and even the occasional Saturday. 

Playtime Theater Report for October 6th, 2019. Segment starts at about 4:15.

I’d also like to mention that the Athenaeum is currently raising funds for the restoration and maintenance of its facilities. The Athenaeum rents its performance venues, offices, rehearsal, and storage spaces to local arts organizations at low, affordable rates.

All ticket purchases include a two-dollar restoration fee. Also, if you’re not doing anything on October 9th, there will be a benefit concert by The Fabulous Equinox, an 11-piece big band from Savannah Georgia. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 general admission. $30 VIP tickets include assigned, premium seating and a free drink.

Barber of Seville at the Lyric Opera Credit: Todd Rosenberg

Last Saturday I got to attend the Barber of Seville, the first show of 2019-2020 season at the Lyric Opera. It was a spectacular evening all around: The season-opening is red carpet night at the Lyric and the people watching was magnificent. Even better, the show itself was absolutely superb. 

As the Lyric noted in its promotional materials, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville has long provided popular culture with plenty of inspiration, including the Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd classic, “Rabbit of Seville.”

It’s easy to understand why Barber of Seville has endured: It is hilariously funny and the music is wonderful. Performed by a company like the Lyric, this show might turn even the most skeptical audience member into a lover of opera.

The plot is the type of farce that tends to delight audiences: Rossina is a lovely young woman in the guardianship of the elderly and scheming Dr. Bartolo. Bartolo wishes to marry her so that he may seize her fortune. However, Count Almaviva has his eye on her. From there, we are treated to a story of bungling, human perverseness, misunderstandings, and utter hilarity.

The cast was uniformly excellent: Particularly Marianne Crebassa as a spirited and impossible Rossina. I must also give Alessandro Corbelli props for his willingness to portray Dr. Bartolo as the utter buffoon that he is. I’d also note that Corbelli wears a powdered wig that looked suspiciously like rabbit ears to me: I have to wonder if Catherine Zuber, the costume director, intended this as a sly nod to Bugs. 

Indeed, the costumes were beautiful, as were the sets and lighting: I did feel transported to a warm and sunny Spain, which was a nice change from the gloomy weather outside. I strongly recommend seeing this production.

For those who are concerned about the cost of tickets at the Lyric, I’d like to point out a couple of options. First of all group tickets are available, as are special discounts for students as well as educators. You can visit the Lyric Opera’s website for more information about these programs.

Also, the Lyric does participate in the League of Chicago Theaters’ program which provides deep discounts to Chicago performances on select dates and times.

Tune in to Playtime every Sunday from 1-3 pm central on WCGO 1590 AM and 95.9 FM in the Chicago area.

SoundCloud version of Playtime. Theater segment starts around 4:14.