Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-04-18
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER REVIEW L'Imitation of Life
by Kerry Reid
2018-04-08

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Ricky Graham with Running with Scissors, adapted from the film Imitation of Life

At: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: 773-327-5252; HandbagProductions.org; $29-$34. Runs through: May 6

Douglas Sirk's storied run of lush cinematic melodramas ended with 1959's Imitation of Life, starring Lana Turner and Juanita Moore as two single mothers in New York—one white and striving to be a Broadway star, the other Black and just hoping to find a home for herself and her light-skinned daughter, who resents being trapped in a "Black" identity. Of course, the white woman shoots to the top, while the Black woman is consigned to the role of long-suffering housekeeper and confidant.

The film was Turner's comeback from the 1958 stabbing death of her mobster boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, by her 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane. The death was ruled justifiable homicide, but the scandal lingered.

That story forms one of many meta running gags in Hell in a Handbag's L'Imitation of Life, a remount of the company's 2013 parody of Turner, Sirk and problematic racial tropes masquerading as social awareness. I missed the earlier incarnation, but Stevie Love's staging, despite a few pacing hiccups here and there, provides a fantastic vehicle for Ed Jones as Turner and Robert Williams as Annie Johnson, her housekeeper.

When I say "fantastic vehicle," imagine a pink Cadillac Eldorado convertible with chrome for days. Jones' Lana ( the script strips away the film character's name ) parades around in a narcissistic fog, never remembering Annie's name, literally using people as coat-racks, and jumping from man to man at the drop of a gauche evening gown ( credit to costumer Gary Nocco ). "You're not cheap," one of her paramours tells her. "You're drastically marked down."

Williams, meantime, balances these excesses with perfectly timed nonverbal hints of exasperation for Annie, whose workload grows as Lana's star rises. Katherine Bellantone brings warped pixie charm to Suzie Turner, her mother's Mini-Me who keeps a collection of knives and lusts after Mom's pedophilic boyfriend, Steve Martin ( "Not that Steve Martin" ), played with greasy insouciance by Chazie Bly.

A montage at the top of the second act juxtaposes Jones' face on actual Hollywood fan rags with images from the Jim Crow era, reminding us that Sirk's film was already headed toward relic-of-another-age status when it was released during the heating up of the civil rights movement. It also reminds us that Hollywood's relationship to social justice has always had a whiff of the self-serving and hypocritical.

But the played-for-laughs histrionics go down a notch at the end, as Ashley Hicks' prodigal daughter, Sara Jane ( who ran away to pursue her own show-biz dreams ) returns and brings out the earnest ( if still somewhat operatic ) emotions that Sirk unabashedly utilized in his work. It moves L'Imitation of Life from camp to homage—and it works.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Strawdog Theatre announces 31st Season, "Bravery" 2018-04-22 - CHICAGO - Strawdog Theatre Company and Artistic Directors Michael Dailey, Heath Hays and Anderson Lawfer are proud to announce the company's 31st Season, ...


Gay News

"Striking Out: A Gay Baseball Musical" through June 16 2018-04-22 - CHICAGO - April 20th, 2018 Striking Out: A Gay Baseball Musical is two act musical about the first straight baseball player in a ...


Gay News

Late Nite Catechism celebrates 25 years in Chicago 2018-04-20 - A Chicago original and international hit, Late Nite Catechism turns 25 in the city where it all started. A special anniversary ...


Gay News

Season of Concern hosts 'Cabaret for Care' 2018-04-18 - Season of Concern's 2018 annual benefit titled Cabaret for Care came to the Goodman Theatre on April 9. The evening had donors enjoying ...


Gay News

DANCE PROFILE Getting to know Lucky Plush dancer Aaron-Raheim White 2018-04-18 - How does one go from being a quiet young boy with an unstable home to being a successful Reiki master-teacher and MFA in ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Our Great Tchaikovsky 2018-04-18 - Playwright/Performer: Hershey Felder; Music: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky At: Steppenwolf Theatre Upstairs, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets: 312-335-1650 or Steppenwolf.org; $55. Runs through: May ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW 33 to Nothing 2018-04-18 - Playwright/Composer: Grant James Varjas At: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. Tickets: 312-943-8722; ARedOrchidTheatre.org; $30-$35. Runs through: May 27 ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Ghosts of War 2018-04-18 - Playwright: adapted by William Massolia, from the novel by Ryan Smithson. At: Griffin Theatre Company at The Den, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2018-04-18 - The Gentleman Caller, Raven Theatre, extended through May 27. You can see this play because it's so literary or because it's so gol-durn ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Lettie 2018-04-18 - Playwright: Boo Killebrew At: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: 773-871-3000; VictoryGardens.org; $15-$56. Runs through: May 6 Sometimes a ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.