You are here: Home>Collections>Pop Music

Pop goes the culture

Local plays take pop culture inspiration ranging from comic books to cult films to classic rock

  • Stella Cheeks and Sadie Hotkins as the Joker and Harley Quinn.
Stella Cheeks and Sadie Hotkins as the Joker and Harley Quinn. (Handout photo )
April 11, 2012|By Julia Borcherts, for RedEye

Sure, we all have classics that we're proud to claim as favorites -- who's ever ashamed to admit they've read Shakespeare? -- but if we're being honest, we've also got our guilty pleasures, whether it's pop music or silly comedies or a childhood fascination with comics we've never quite outgrown.

This spring, local theater companies bring you five original shows which embrace and elevate your guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasures, with inspirations ranging from the excellent adventures of Bill and Ted to the "Pulp Fiction" misadventures of Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace, from your comic book superheroes to the current go-to song on your iPod and from The Bard to The Boss.

Bard Fiction
Go: 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat.; 3 p.m. Sun. at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $25; 773-404-7336;
Shakespeare meets Tarantino in Commedia Beauregard's Elizabethan-era recreation of the "Pulp Fiction" film -- re-set in London -- which follows the interconnected adventures of two hit men, a prizefighter, gangsters and a wife with issues of her own. "The best way to make the comedy come through in a farce is to treat it seriously," director Chris Kidder says. To that end, the storylines are followed but characters speak in verse when the subject is love. When violent deeds are committed, however, The Bard's characters would be less likely to rejoice with sonnets, so the cast switches to Shakespearean prose. The production features original music by Il Troubadoure.

Deliver Us from Nowhere: Tales from Nebraska
Go: 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat.; 7 p.m. Sun.; April 26-May 20 at The Right Brain Project, 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Tickets: $15; 773-442-2882;
Tympanic Theatre celebrates the 30th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska" album with 10 short, dark dramas by local scribes, each inspired by one of the disc's 10 songs. The plays -- which also feature original live music crafted for each -- include "Resurrecting Beauty," a surreal take on late-night regret by The Side Project artistic director Adam Webster, (inspired by The Boss' "Atlantic City"), and the romantic revenge tale, "Winning Ugly," by The Mammals' artistic director Bob Fisher (inspired by "Johnny 99").

SuperBoobs: A Superhero Burlesque Adventure
Go: 10:30 p.m. Saturdays beginning April 14 at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Tickets: $20; 773-598-4549
Sexy superheroes -- not to mention mischief, mayhem and mammaries -- abound in Gorilla Tango's newest nerd burlesque offering, in which a green-haired supervillain tricks, teases and traps a host of heroes and the Captive Audience -- yes, that's you -- votes on whether to set the heroes free or let Evil and its many benefits triumph over the perhaps-not-nearly-as-much-fun Good.

Go: 11:59 p.m. Saturday at Donny's Skybox Theatre, 1608 N. Wells St.
Tickets: $12; 312-337-3992;
Pop culture inspiration doesn't get any more immediate than this: Volunteer to share a song from your iPod that affects you in some way and play it in its entirety. Then, the seven-person improv team creates and performs a long-form theatrical piece based on your song. To set the mood, Phillip Scales opens the show.

We Are Wyld Stallyns or: How Bill and Ted Save the World
Go: 11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. through April 14; 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat.; 3 p.m. Sun. April 19-22 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.
Tickets: $15-$18; 773-975-8150;
The time-traveling phone booth lands onstage for an excellent adventure-slash-bogus journey in New Millennium Theatre Company's original comedy, which picks up where the films left off as the titular slacker duo emerges from married life with the help of their mentor, Rufus, and other friends from throughout history to face a new nemesis -- emerging death metal band Creeping Rusty Meat. Expect an epic onstage battle when the two bands battle it out onstage.

Julia Borcherts is a Redeye special contributor.





Stella Cheeks and Sadie Hotkins as the Joker and Harley Quinn (alternating roles weekly)



Slightly Spitfire as Superman/Clark Kent

RedEye Chicago Articles