Solo shows can be extremely stressful and risky for some actors. On one hand, there is no one else on stage to help out if something goes wrong. And if a solo show is a comedy, then it becomes very apparent to the audience if a performer hasn't perfected his or her comic timing.
Yet two prominent out performers and writers in Chicago's comedy scene, Andy Eninger and John Loos, are planning to go it alonealbeit together via a double bill show at the Annoyance Theatre this November. Eninger is revising his one-man multi-character improv comedy Sybil, while Loos is offering his first-ever solo sketch comedy show: Adorable Disasters.
Eninger and Loos, who met and became a couple while performing together in Chicago's LGBT sketch comedy troupe GayCo, are staging their solo shows in addition to other Annoyance Theatre duties. Both Loos and Eninger have been starring in the hit adults-only show Steamwerkz: The Musical (which they also helped to co-write), and they have been a part of the rotating cast of another long-running male-flesh-filled Annoyance show: Skinprov.
"We both thought that it would work at the Annoyance" Eninger said about pairing their half-hour shows on the same bill. But more practically, "we're also splitting the cost and the rent."
Eninger originally developed Sybil about a decade ago with a friend as a two-person long-form improv comedy show, but she bailed when a well-paying corporate job in London came up. So Eninger decided go it alone.
Although Eninger says there is some behind-the-scenes structure to Sybil, the show develops as a long-form improv piece where he "asks for people's suggestions and objects from the audience and that inspires the first character's monologue and I spin a series of multi-character scenes where I play all the characters."
That includes some LGBT characters, although Eninger admits that some of his comedy coaches have asked him to clarify "when you're playing a gay character or playing a lady, because there are a lot of ladies in there as well."
Including LGBT characters is a given for Eninger, who also works at The Second City full-time as head of the writing program. (For disclosure's sake, this writer took a Second City writing course led by Eninger earlier this year.).
Loos is still formulating which characters and sketches will make it into his sketch show Adorable Disasters, potentially including one about a German porn star.
"It will be everything from a bunch of little kids to crazy old ladies to people who work in candle stores," Loos said about his character line-up. "But the crux or theme of my show that I've latched onto is the destruction of the 'American Dream' and what that means to gay Americans as well. I think that gay people are keenly more aware of what they have and don't have in terms of rights."
Although Loos and Eninger are gearing for their upcoming solo work, they're both extremely proud of the continued success of Steamwerkz: The Musical. Every weekly performance has been a virtual sell-out, and the show has been extended multiple times, giving Loos and Eninger hopes that Steamwerkz might become another long-running Annoyance attraction like Co-Ed Prison Sluts.
"We've definitely have had lots of straight couples, parents of cast members and friends show up and they have had a really great time," Loos said about some of the untypical demographic audiences turning out for this gay bathhouse-set comedy. "I think as it keeps going it attracts new audiences who discover it so it expands beyond just the gay community."
The double bill of Andy Eninger's Sybil and John Loos' Adorable Disasters runs 9:30 p.m. Sundays from Nov 5-25 at the Annoyance Theatre, 4860 N. Broadway. Tickets are $10.
Steamwerkz: The Musical continues 10 p.m. Fridays through Dec. 28. Tickets are $20. Call 773-561-4665 or visit www.annoyanceproductions.com for more information on both of these shows.
Metzgar says so long to About Face Theatre
The board of directors of About Face Theatre announced last weekend that About Face Theatre Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar is stepping down from her post at the end of the 2012-13 season.
"I came to About Face with three goalsto create financial stability in uncertain economic times, build a vibrant core of Artistic Associates and lead the organization through a strategic plan to develop a 3-5 year vision for the company. I am so proud that during my tenure at the helm of this important artistic institution that I accomplished these goals," said Metzgar in a news release about her five-year tenure with the company. "With a terrific board of directors, artistic associates and staff, About Face is positioned perfectly for ongoing success in one of the greatest theater cities in the world."
The news release didn't offer any reasons for Metzgar's departure, nor if she had anything lined up after she steps down from About Face Theatre.
About Face's board of directors has formed a search committee to lead to national search for the next artistic director, as well as a transition committee to oversee the artistic leadership transition.