Steppenwolf buys building next door for $6.4 million

STEPPENWOLF THEATRE is physically expanding with the acquisition of the Ethan Allen furniture store next door to their current building on Halsted St. for $6.4 million, as reported by Dave Matthews in

Steppenwolf executive director David Hawkanson is not yet commenting on future plans for the building — including whether or not the store, which has a little less than a year left on its lease — will eventually be razed or remodeled, according to Steppenwolf publicists.

Matthews’ piece, however, suggests that at least part of the space may be used to expand the theater’s training program, the School at Steppenwolf. We’ll provide further details as they become available.

OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC celebrates its 55th anniversary and its own recent expansion in Lincoln Square with five world premieres combining music, dance, and storytelling.

The commissioned pieces run February 22-March 2, and include work by percussionist-educator Raul Fernandez, singer-songwriter Anne-Marie Akin, dancer-choreographer Jennifer Guglielmi and composer Tom Stevens, and composer-performer Nomi Epstein.

Old Town’s move to Lincoln Square in 1998 is widely credited by many, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with revitalizing the neighborhood.

REDTWIST THEATRE marks the tenth-year anniversary of The Laramie Project, created by Leigh Fondakowski and the members of Moises Kaufman’s Tectonic Theater Project, with The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, opening on March 4 under Greg Kolack’s direction and featuring epilogues to the original ground-breaking show. They’ll also offer staged readings from the original beginning this Friday at 7:30 p.m.

“The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” cast: Gene Cordon, Jan Ellen Graves, Matt Klingler, Devon Candura, Lisa Herceg, Eleanor Katz, Matt Babbs (standing), Kurt Brocker (on floor). Photo by Greg Kolack

The show is based on interviews with residents of the Wyoming college town after the horrific hate-crimes slaying of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, in 1998, The Laramie Project became an HBO film in 2002 and has had many subsequent productions worldwide.

Redtwist welcomes Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew who has become an outspoken advocate for tolerance through the Matthew Shepard Foundation to a benefit performance on Saturday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m.

EXTENSION NOTICES: Theater Oobleck extends its production of The Hunchback Variations Opera through March 11 at the Richard Christiansen Theater at the Victory Gardens Biograph.

The show features a libretto by Mickle Maher, based on his 2001 one-act, and a score by Mark Messing of Redmoon and punk-circus marching band Mucca Pazza.

*House Theatre of Chicago believes in magic – their hit production of Death and Harry Houdini (a tenth-anniversary remount of their first show) runs till April 15, for those who need some magic after paying taxes.

Dennis Watkins of ‘The Magic Parlour’*Meantime, Dennis Watkins, who plays Houdini, moves The Magic Parlour, which has been running at Wicker Park’s Chopin Theatre for more than 15 months, to the spiffy – yet intimate — confines of the Palmer House downtown.  

Beginning February 24, Watkins’ exploration of classic magic tricks runs every Friday at 10:30 p.m. in a suite at the hotel. Prices are also downtown-style: $75 online or at 773/769-3832.

But if you’ve seen Watkins in action, you know he’s got the goods to stand toe-to-toe with the best chamber magicians that Chicago — the capital of great up-close prestidigitation — has produced.

FOR THOSE WHO PREFER their theater on the cheap, Oracle Productions, which inaugurated their all-free “public access theater” model last season to great success, continues to expand.

Oracle’s Franki Jo LevinsonThey’ve named Franki Jo Levinson managing director and Danielle Stack as “sponsor manager,” charged with finding underwriters that will help the company continue to offer their wares for free. In addition to shows at their North Broadway venue, Oracle tours work to community centers, nursing homes, and other locales.

They open Jean Genet’s The Maids on March 10, followed by a late-night production of The Harlotry and Necromancy Appreciation Society Freak Show for those who want to take a walk on the wild side.

IN MEMORIAM: YURI RASOVSKY, longtime former Chicago resident and creator of National Radio Theater (1972-1987), which began at WFMT, and Hollywood Theater of the Ear, passed away after a battle with esophogeal cancer on January 18 in Los Angeles. Rasovksy’s dedication to reviving the art of the radio drama won him two Peabody Awards and a Grammy Award, among many other citations.

We send our condolences to his partner, actress Lorna Raver, and his many friends and colleagues.

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