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  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER Stage Door Jonny
by JONATHAN ABARBANEL
2003-10-08

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Bailiwick's annual Trailblazer Awards at sparkling Maxim's were quite the soiree, Oct. 28. It wasn't just the distinguished honorees, among them Rick Paul, founder of Lionheart Theatre, and playwright Terrence McNally; it was the company they kept. McNally's surprise date for the evening was none other than Edward Albee, an even more distinguished playwright than McNally himself (who took in Dr. Sex at Bailiwick the night before the gala). Albee was in town in connection with preparations for the Goodman Theatre's Edward Albee Festival, honoring his 75th birthday.

Opera queens, rest assured: there will be a 50th anniversary season in 2004-2005 for Lyric Opera of Chicago. The company completed negotiations with the Chicago Federation of Musicians on a three-year contract for the Lyric orchestra, guaranteeing 26 weeks of work each year, and modest salary increases next year and the year after. Lyric also successfully negotiated a three-year contract with its chorus, with similar terms (although a much lower base pay rate). The orchestra is represented by the Chicago Federation of Musicians, a notoriously tough union; the chorus by the American Guild of Musical Artists.

Now here's a bit of kink right up Jonny's alley: drag performer Charity Case—aka distinguished journalist and gourmet Rick Karlin—has retired, and has donated her entire wardrobe of costumes to Hell In A Handbag Productions to be sold for the benefit of the company. Jonny is told there are hundreds of gowns, shoes, handbags, jewelry and accessories at what they are calling a 'draggage sale.' Dresses and gowns range in size from 12-22, and items are priced from $2 to $50. The sale is Sunday, Oct. 12, 2-4 p.m. at Sidetrack. Save something sweaty for Jonny, who first tried on his sister's ballet tutu when he was but three years old.

Ron De Jesus, former Hubbard Street Dance Chicago soloist, is now on Broadway in Movin' Out, but he's still found time to choreograph a new work for Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. The world premiere of De Jesus' Prey will be part of the Giordano company's program at the Athenaeum Theatre, Oct. 24-26. The troupe will appear at the Athenaeum in November, too, as part of Dance Chicago 2003, the annual month-long orgy of Chicago dance companies and independent artists. Check out the details at . Stockyards Theatre Project, the women-centered theater company that produces the annual Women's Performance Art Festival, is under new leadership. Company founder Jill Elaine Hughes has stepped down as artistic director after five years, but will remain an ensemble and board member. She's been succeeded by director Katie Carey Govier as artistic director, and Francesca Peppiatt in the new post of managing director. In addition to the annual Festival, Govier intends to re-examine classics and search for new plays by women.

You can own a piece of original art work of sorts by Edward Albee, Terrence McNally (where you find one, you'll find the other you know), Harvey Fierstein, Tommy Tune, Judy Tenuta and other gay men, and dozens of other celebs. Jonny says 'of sorts,' because these are doodles, not paintings. Doodles by the Stars will be auctioned off Oct. 12 to benefit Live Bait Theatre. There will be doodle viewing at 6 p.m. with the auction at 7 p.m. Admission ($20 in advance/$30 at the door) includes cocktails and eats. Yes, you can go to the drag sale that same afternoon, and still have plenty of time to wear your new gown to the doodles. Among many other doodles, there will be works by Tina Louise, Marie Osmond, Sarah Jessica Parker, Steve Martin, Denzel Washington, architect Frank Gehry, Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, the very-recently late George Plimpton, Cherry Jones, Rob Reiner, Chita Rivera, Yoko Ono, General Norman Schwarzkopf and both Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek. Jonny doesn't know how Live Bait manages to collect these doodles year after year; it's a wonder. Call (773) 871-1212.


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