Monday, October 6, 2014

Revere, Redmoon, And A Retro Sitcom


Paul Revere, one of rock and roll’s more colorful characters as the long-time leader of Paul Revere And The Raiders, passed away over the weekend. The group’s string of Top 40 hits in the 1960s included “Kicks” and “Hungry,” both of which are still regarded as classics of the garage rock genre. The band starred on Where The Action Is, the Dick Clark-produced TV show that aired on weekday afternoons. In addition to performing music, Revere and his fellow band members Mark Lindsay, Fang, Smitty, and Harpo would do comedy bits and introduce the other musical guests. Like a lot of pre-teens and teenagers at that time, I was addicted to Where The Action Is. I still remember the day when I couldn’t see it because my mother was baby sitting our neighbor’s much younger kids and they were watching cartoons. She thought it wouldn’t be a big deal if I missed my show just one day, but I was really ticked off. Here’s a toast to Paul Revere: Thanks for all the music and fun you brought our way.

My wife Pam and I were among the people who left Redmoon’s Great Chicago Fire Festival before its finale this past Saturday night. We lost patience with the technical glitches that scuttled an elaborate plan to use cauldrons of fire to burn three replicas of Victorian buildings floating on the Chicago River, and figured we’d beat the crowd back to the train station. A number of people took to social media to ridicule Redmoon but I have no desire to join them. Redmoon has a well-deserved reputation as one of the Chicago’s most innovative theatre companies, and anyone who’s been involved with live performances knows things sometimes go awry. Back in 1989, despite having no relevant experience, I was put in charge of sound and lights for the debut of my Famous In The Future comedy group at The Roxy club on Fullerton. At that point I had yet to make the leap from skit writer to skit writer/performer, and that’s how I wound up being the tech guy. Throughout the evening, I fumbled with a stack of cassettes, muffed blackouts and music cues, and at one point turned the house lights up on a section of the audience. The confused looks on their faces were more humorous than anything we performed that night. So I’m not one to point fingers at Redmoon. When I was walking to work today, I noticed one of the Victorian buildings still docked on the river, as if defiantly smirking at those who tried to burn it. Then it occurred to me that Redmoon had succeeded in creating something symbolized Chicago—disappointment. The Bears blow a lead in the second half; the Cubs fail to reach the World Series for over 100 years, and regardless of the season, our weather can put the kabosh on any outdoor celebration.

I spent a good part of yesterday at the Elgin City Hall, where Jeff Kelley of the Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff internet show and artist David Metzger were filming scenes for an original 1950s style sitcom about a Zombie Grandma. They’re putting it together for the city’s annual Nightmare On Chicago Street Halloween festival. Kelley and Metzger have filmed bits for this event over the past few years, but this is by far their most ambitious project. I play a government agent who searches for zombies, and Willy Deal, a regular contributor to Coffee With Jeff, plays my fellow agent. I’ve been impressed with how well Kelley and Metzger work together, and by the talented cast they’ve assembled. Their sitcom, which was written by Kelley and is being filmed in black and white, will be shown in a storefront theatre in Elgin as part of the Nightmare On Chicago Street festivities on October 25th.   

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