John Malkovich comes to Chicago for more than starring role in a Steppenwolf world premiere

INTERNATIONALLY FAMOUS men’s fashion designer John Malkovich will be in Chicago to show his Uncle Kimono line of ready-to-wear creations.

What? You thought Malkovich was an actor? Sure, he dabbles as a thespian between high fashion assignments. In fact, he’s appearing at Steppenwolf Theatre Company April 9-June 5 in the world premiere of “Lost Land” by Stephen Jeffreys.

But he’s really coming to town for the rag trade. And why not? The proceeds from the sale of Malkovich-designed duds support four of his favorite non-profit theatre companies: Steppenwolf (of course ? his home base in Chicago), London’s Royal Court Theatre, and the Cherry Lane Playhouse and Wooster Group in New York City.

John Malkovich Photo ? derek hudson

Steppenwolfers insist he designs all the Uncle Kimono clothing himself. He’s collaborating on the costume designs for “Lost Land,” too.

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Malkovich will hold a May 21 trunk show for the John Malkovich, Uncle Kimono Autumn/Winter 2005-2006 Menswear Collection. It will be at Yondorf Hall, 758 W. North Avenue, second Floor, where Steppenwolf has its rehearsal room.

The public is invited, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. All clothing can be ordered at 20% off retail.

TAKE A LOOK at a bus to see the latest advertising campaign from the League of Chicago Theatres, promoting Chicago’s lively stage industry.

The colorful billboards adorn 150 of the CTA’s finest and feature enthusiastic quotes from recent articles in Time Magazine and the London Guardian and Toronto Star newspapers. “Chicago is the theatre capital of the world,” proclaimed leading London critic Michael Billington in the Guardian last summer, and his words are now making their way ’round town via public transit.

The campaign is the work of The Monogram Group advertising agency and creative director Harold Woodridge, who is a board member of the League of Chicago Theatres.

“We couldn’t say it better ourselves, so we didn’t,” Woodridge says. “Instead, we drew from three thumbs-way-up reviews that praised the quality and diversity of Chicago’s theatre scene? from three of the world’s most respected publications.” The Monogram Group provided its services on a pro bono basis.

BACK WHEN TOM AMANDES (WB’s “Everwood”) was a mere Chicago actor, working at Court Theatre and the now-defunct Body Politic, he raised his voice in song as part of Irish band Jamie O’Reilly and the Rogues that played the pubs and theatres of Lincoln Avenue and various street fairs.

Amandes was married to Jamie O’Reilly at the time, and his father-in-law was the legendary actor and director James O’Reilly, then artistic director of the Body Politic Theatre.

Well, the old gang is reassembling May 1 for a 25th reunion concert to benefit African Refugee Resettlement of Chicago (ARRC). The entire original line-up will be there: Jamie herself and all the Rogues: Tom Amandes, Paul Amandes, Peter Swenson, John Floeter and Stuart Rosenberg.

The concert will be held at the Irish American Heritage Center of Chicago, 4626 N. Knox, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include a post-concert reception (and they help a good cause). Call 312-458-0822 to reserve.

OK, SO YOU GOTTA’ HAVE A GIMMICK these days. In that case, the newest theatre troupe in Chicago, Theatre 5.2.1. sure has a beaut.

The troupe promises to perform only original scripts running no longer than one hour; that each show will be presented for 10 performances over five weeks only; and that all copies of the script then will be burned in front of the audience, never to be performed again.

Oh yeah, the playwrights will be anonymous. And tickets are only five bucks.

Artistic director Lewis Lain says others can endlessly recycle Shakespeare and Shaw and Neil Simon for audiences that don’t want to see them, but that his methods will force Theatre 5.2.1. to create sharp, meaningful and entertaining work for today’s audiences. Avatars of the future or crazy brave? You decide.

Theatre 5.2.1. presents its first show, “The Sleeper,” March 20-April 16 at Theatre Building Chicago. Call 773-327-5252.

A GUITAR WITH AN ERIC CLAPTON or the Boss or Bono is yours for the right price at the April 9 Piven Theatre Workshop benefit Rockit Bar & Grill, 6-9 p.m. Actor Jeremy Piven?son of founders Byrne and Joyce Piven?will host.

What’s more, April 9-10 Jeremy will conduct master classes at the Workshop along with Aidan Quinn, writer Adam McKay (“Anchorman” and “Saturday Night Live”), directors Shira Piven, Paul Quinn and Jessica Thebus and playwright Sarah Ruhl. That’s a pretty high-powered line-up!

For benefit tickets ($100) call 847-866-8049. For master class enrollment call 847-866-6597.

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