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 2020-04-01
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Tennessee Williams. At: Rave Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St. Tickets: 1-773-338-2177;; $36. Runs through: June 28

Many authors have written autobiographical coming-of-age works, among them Ben Hecht ( with Gaily, Gaily ) and Neil Simon ( with his Biloxi Blues ). Vieux Carre is Tennessee Williams' ( 1911-1983 ) contribution. This late-career play ( 1977 ) failed on Broadway due, in part, to its episodic and rambling structure. True, it lacks dramatic cohesion but it offers thematic cohesion along with considerable charm and raucous humor as Williams looked back at himself with a mellow eye.

By 1977, Williams could use "fuck" on stage and—far more importantly—create openly gay characters treated with a degree of sympathy and dignity, such as the nameless young writer at the center of Vieux Carre. He's come to the French Quarter of 1930s New Orleans, as Williams actually did, staying at a barely respectable rooming house, having several self-defining gay experiences ( Williams had far more than he puts in the play ) and observing a cross-section of residents while learning life lessons.

The focus shifts between the writer ( Ty Olwin ) and a tubercular old gay painter, Nightingale ( Will Casey ); a young woman of means from New York, slumming with a local stud ( Eliza Stoughton, Joel Reitsma ); a Black housekeeper, Nursie ( Sandra Watson ); two impoverished old maids ( Kristin Collins, Debra Rodkin ); and a lonely but mean landlady, Mrs. Wire ( JoAnn Montemurro ), verging on dementia.

Under director Cody Estle, this perfectly lovely production of Vieux Carre plays to the rich comedy of Act I, the eccentric range of characters and the theme of constant yearning for connection—be it love or merely a momentary break from loneliness—found throughout Tennessee Williams' works. Estle has made solid casting choices and respects Williams' words and intent. His lively pacing avoids lugubrious passages, and emphasizes the work's kaleidoscopic nature. Unlike some young directors, Estle seems happy to interpret the text and not impose a dubious personal concept. I admire this in him, and it works quite well for Vieux Carre.

Sprawling across wide Raven stage, Ray Toler's set reveals a warren of bedrooms and connecting hallways. It's not rich in New Orleans details but more than sufficiently suggests the cramped and steamy rooming house confines. Alaina Moore's period costumes well-suit characters lacking the finances to be stylish.

I believe Vieux Carre fails not because of its rambling structure but because it's a comedy at heart which Williams pulls and twists into something heavier than it can support. The young woman has leukemia, for example, revealed deep in Act II for no particular dramatic reason. Williams last completed play, A House Not Meant to Stand, suffered similarly. As developed at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, the early one-act version was a comedy which Williams warped and stretched into a grotesque two-act tragedy. He didn't seem to understand that comedy on its own can serve serious purposes.

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.


Gay News

COVID-19 Broadway closed through June 7 2020-04-08 - Broadway will remain closed through June 7—an extension of the current coronavirus shutdown that would seem to retroactively end the 2019-20 season. "Our ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Masque of the Red Coronavirus 2020-04-06 - Playwright: Ed Rutherford At: Black Button Eyes Productions online at Tickets: Online donations accepted. Runs through: Open run* It was easy ...

Gay News

Virtual reading of Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons April 16 2020-04-03 - In honor of Terrence McNally, who recently passed away at age 81 of complications from COVID-19. Four actors, each participating from a remote ...

Gay News

Arts for Illinois launches with grants for artists, groups 2020-04-01 - Arts Alliance Illinois joined Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in launching Arts for Illinois—a collaboration between the State of ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Methtacular! 2020-04-01 - Playwright: Steven Strafford Via: 16th Street Theater, 6420 16th St., Berwyn. Tickets: 708-795-6704 or; . $12 per person/on your honor. Available through: ...

Gay News

Court Theatre reschedules The Gospel at Colonus to the 2020-2021 season 2020-03-31 - Chicago, IL - Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director, announces ...

Gay News

THEATER Mourning Terrence McNally 2020-03-30 - The prolific Emmy and Tony Award-winning writer Terrence McNally passed away at the age of 81 in Florida at a Sarasota hospital on ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Teenage Dick 2020-03-27 - Playwright: Mike Lew At: Theater Wit ( on line streaming only ) Tickets:; $28. Runs through: April 19 In a ...

Gay News

Raven Theatre postpones world premiere of Eden Prairie, 1971 due to COVID-19 2020-03-26 - CHICAGO ( March 25, 2020 ) — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Raven Theatre today announced it will postpone its upcoming world ...

Gay News

Tony Awards to be postponed; no new date set 2020-03-25 - The 74th Annual Tony Awards—scheduled to air live on CBS on Sunday, June 7 from New York's Radio City Music Hall—has been postponed ...


Copyright © 2020 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.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar 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 publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.