A Comic Celebration to Remember!

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For two frigid but otherwise fun and fulfilling weeks on Chicago’s North Shore, the cast and crew of “Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration” staged a series of shows that rang in the New Year with satire, song and classic comic shtick. The three packed performances proved once again that The Practical Theatre Company and its motto “Art is Good” are alive and well in the Windy City.

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The Practical Theatre is like “Brigadoon” these days: a magical, fleeting moment of entertainment that vanishes as suddenly as it appears. For those of you who were not able to be among the receptive crowds that gathered at Studio5 in Evanston to witness this rare theatrical event – please enjoy the following photos, taken by former Chicago Tribune photographer Chuck Osgood at final dress rehearsal.

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The Opening Number: “It’s been a year to remember — to forget!”

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“Ed & Ellen & Ned” — Ed (Paul Barrosse) & Ellen (Victoria Zielinski) and Ned (Dana Olsen) share a moment in an airport bar with a young man (Daniel Rashid) who digs older women.

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Eva B Ross sings “Thou Swell” backed by Steve Rashid (keys) & The Studio5 All Stars: Rockin’ Ronny Crawford (drums), Joe Policastro (bass), Don Stille (accordion) and Don Stiernberg (guitar)

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“Limbo” — A bickering couple (Vic & Dana) find themselves in a state of suspended afterlife.

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“Parents” — Dana and Shelly Goldstein play parents with a lot of good (and not so good) advice for their high school graduate, bound for Northwestern University.

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“Please Come to Starbucks” — Paul is a forlorn, lovesick guy from Cleveland who lost his girl (Vic) to the Southern California dream. He seeks her out in a mournful musical complaint.

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“Stop Talking About Him” — A young couple (Daniel Rashid & Emilia Barrosse) struggle with the nagging, negative, inescapable influence of Donald Trump on their relationship.

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“Cut In Line” — This is the moment that an unlucky guy (Paul) discovers that the guy to whom he just gave his place in line (Dana) is the 1,000,000th customer and winner of a million dollars!

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The Mr. Olsen’ Dancers perform “We’re In The Money”

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Dana & Eva perform a multi-lingual duet of “Let it Snow” — just before it goes way off the rails.

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With sexual harassment dominating the news, the dancers make a statement.

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Don Stille burns up his accordion solo in “The Possible Side Effects Polka”

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The Mr. Olsen Dancers step lively in “The Possible Side Effects Polka”

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Emilia Barrosse opens the second act with an original stand-up comedy set.

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“Ed & Elena” — Ed (Paul) is about to get a big surprise from buxom blonde Elena (Vic).

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Steve Rashid performs a nostalgic musical tribute to George W. Bush — with beautiful, inspirational music by Steve and indescribable words by Dubya himself.

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The Mr. Olsen Dancers kick up a wild western rumpus.

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“Whisky Tasting” — Miss Vicky’s hootch has finally gotten the best of Paul’s boozing cowpoke.

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Groovy Shelly sings “The Middle Aging of The Age of Aquarius”

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“Meet the Robot” — Guess who’s coming to dinner? Your daughter’s synthetic human boyfriend, that’s who.

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A proper 19th Century minuet gets a bit topsy-turvy.

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Roland Masterton (Paul) and Elizabeth Cuddleton (Vic) share a long, long, long developing romance a’la Jane Austen — through correspondence, shipwreck, and a mortal duel .

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Donald J. Trump meets “Hamilton” in a rap production number. “How does a bastard, orange, TV show host with a toupe’, dropped in the middle of a polarized time in our America — with hands so freaking teeny — rise up to be the Mango Mussolini?”

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“What’s you name, man?” “Inmate number 45!”

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The Closing: “Resist! Resist! — and keep your sanity. Do your best, it’s a test — of our humanity.”

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Just Two More Chances to Enjoy “Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration”!

26114583_1533547770095784_2100298101981055015_oThere are only two more opportunities to enjoy the funniest and most fun New Year’s party on Chicago’s North Shore: tonight and New Year’s Eve.

(All photos in this post were taken by Chuck Osgood at the final dress rehearsal)

26114696_1533549313428963_9163814806155948867_oYou still have a chance to reserve your seats for Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration at Studio5 in Evanston.

Tickets are on sale here!

The Practical Theatre returns with another entertaining comedy and music revue featuring veteran improvisational comedy writer-performers Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen. It’s a fun-filled party in the style of The Lawrence Welk Show, filled with laughter, satire and song.

26060201_1533549290095632_162225552277657537_oJoining the cast are the PTC’s musical director, Steve Rashid, songbird Eva B. Ross, standup comic Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, cabaret chanteuse Shelly Goldstein — and the Studio5 All-Star Band, including Rockin’ Ronny Crawford on drums, Don Stille on accordion, bassist Joe Policastro and Don Stiernberg on guitar. Plus percussionist Robert Rashid.

26197980_1533549580095603_7893809850602960003_oAnd — The Mr. Olsen Dancers are back – and better than ever!

The show on New Year’s Eve will be followed by live music and a fabulous dance party — as we invite you all to swing into the New Year! (And enjoy tasty food, too!)

Studio5 is Evanston’s hippest, most intimate performing arts venue, with comfortable seats, great sight lines, state of the art sound and lights, and acres of free parking. Tickets are on sale here!

There will be a cash bar for both shows. Doors open for cocktails at 7:30.

Don’t miss your last chance to join the biggest party of the year! 26172349_1533549093428985_9201868929486565217_oPoster 2017 NYE #6

 

 

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15 Days until Big New Year’s Eve Fun!

Poster 2017 NYE #6Tickets are going fast for the funniest and most fun New Year’s party on Chicago’s North Shore.

Reserve your seats now for Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration at Studio5 in Evanston.

Following last year’s hit holiday engagement at Studio5, The Practical Theatre returns with another entertaining comedy and music revue featuring veteran improv-comedy writer-performers Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen.

Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration is a fun-filled party in the style of The Lawrence Welk Show, filled with laughter, satire and song.

CastJoining the cast are the PTC’s musical director, Steve Rashid, songbird Eva B. Ross, standup comic Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, cabaret chanteuse Shelly Goldstein — and the Studio5 All-Star Band, including Rockin’ Ronny Crawford on drums, Don Stille on accordion, bassist Joe Policastro and Don Stiernberg on every stringed instrument a man can possibly play. Plus percussionist Robert Rashid.

Did we mention The Mr. Olsen Dancers?? Oh yeah. They’re back – and better than ever!

It’s a limited engagement – with just three shows on Friday December 29, Saturday December 30 and Sunday December 31. Tickets are on sale now here!

https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3105065

The big show on December 31st will be followed by live music and a fabulous dance party — as we invite you all to swing into the New Year! (And enjoy tasty food, too!)

Studio5 is Evanston’s hippest, most intimate performing arts venue, with comfortable seats, great sight lines, state of the art sound and lights, and lots of free parking.

There will be a cash bar for all three shows. Doors open for cocktails at 7:30.

Don’t miss the biggest party of the year!

 

 

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There are Less than Three Weeks until the Big New Year’s Eve 2018 Party!

Tickets are going fast for the funniest New Year’s party on Chicago’s North Shore. Reserve your seats now for Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration at Studio5 in Evanston.

Following last year’s smash holiday engagement, The Practical Theatre returns with another improvisational comedy and music revue featuring Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen.

Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration is a fun-filled party in the style of The Lawrence Welk Show, filled with laughter, satire and song.

CastJoining the cast are the PTC’s musical director, Steve Rashid, songbird Eva B. Ross, standup comic Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, cabaret chanteuse Shelly Goldstein — and the Studio5 All-Star Band, including Rockin’ Ronny Crawford on drums, Don Stille on accordion, bassist Joe Policastro and Don Stiernberg on every stringed instrument a man can possibly play. Plus percussionist Robert Rashid.

And did we mention The Mr. Olsen Dancers?

There are three shows: Friday December 29, Saturday December 30, and Sunday December 31. Tickets are on sale now here!

https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3105065

The New Year’s Eve show on December 31st will be followed by live music and a fabulous dance party — as we invite you all to swing into 2018! (And enjoy tasty food, too!)

There’s lots of free parking — and a cash bar for all three shows.

Doors open for cocktails at 7:30.

Don’t miss the biggest party of the year!

Poster 2017 NYE #6

 

 

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Victory at Pearl Harbor…

(This was orginally posted in 2010.)

The significance of December 7, 1941 is something that most of our parents do not need to be reminded about. It was a shocking, indelible moment for them, much like September 11, 2001 was for another generation of Americans. I don’t want to spend time here comparing those two disastrous attacks: one by a hostile state, the other by a handful of extremists. That’s for another time, another post.

This is a day of remembrance.

There are not many veterans of Pearl Harbor still with us. Not many left who saw the Japanese planes diving out of the sky, felt the concussions as great battleships shuddered, burned, and sank. Not many left who can stand on the observation deck of the USS Arizona Memorial, gaze at that sunken iron tomb and say, “I knew a guy who went down with that ship.”

On December 7th, we remember what was lost at Pearl Harbor: the lives, the ships, the planes – our national innocence.

But on this day, we should also remember the miracle of Pearl Harbor: the incredible effort that raised so many of those ships from the bottom of the harbor, patched them up – and sent them back into the fight. Only three of the ships that were bombed in Pearl Harbor on that day of infamy were forever lost to the fleet.

And of the 30 ships in the Japanese fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor, only one survived the war without being sunk.

The dynamism, optimism and resolve displayed by those military crewmen and civilians who, within months, raised and repaired the devastated wreckage of Pearl Harbor are qualities that Americans must call on once again to overcome our national challenges. Would that our leaders would spend less time sowing the fear of future attacks – and more time appealing to the better angels of our national identity.

“Can do” was the unofficial motto of the Seabees, the legendary Navy outfit that led the reconstruction effort at Pearl Harbor.

Where’s that American “Can do” spirit now?

P.S. Click here for a WWII-era Pearl Harbor song I found online. It may seem a bit too upbeat at first, but in the context of our ultimate victory at Pearl Harbor, it’s not too bouncy after all. It’s got that confidence and “Can do” spirit.

$(KGrHqNHJBcE-dPs9M,cBPn+++hkMg~~60_57P.S.S. On this day, let’s remember one of the great WWII POW escape artists. If you have any pals who love The Great Escape or Shawshank Redemption, please point them toward the story of William Ash: Texan, RAF pilot, POW — and a guy who escaped the Nazi prison camps 13 times!

He’s the guy that inspired Steve McQueen’s character in The Great Escape.

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481088858/

Kindle ebook: (free to Prime members) http://amzn.com/B00AF4I0K8

Comments from authors on UNDER THE WIRE:

9780553817119What a splendid book! A young Texan brought up in the middle of the Depression who pulls himself up by his bootstraps, thereafter hikes to Canada to fly Spitfires for the Brits while America is still neutral. Just as the U. S. enters the war, he is shot down, and another exciting and terrible episode in his life begins. Living under terrible conditions he makes several attempts to escape until he finally succeeds in saving himself and many of his fellow POWs. This is a moving and heroic story of a young man who overcomes all obstacles with a sense of humor and succeeds in the end. Hollywood should snap this book up in a flash. Buy it, read it, enjoy it.

Charles Whiting, author of Hero: Life and Death of Audie Murphy

AshUNDER THE WIRE is a well-written and exciting memoir of wartime captivity that is packed with incident and vividly recreates the oft-neglected early days of Stalag Luft III and the now forgotten mass escape from Oflag XXIB, Schubin — a sort of dress rehearsal for the famous Great Escape. The author himself is one of the great unsung heroes of the Second World War, as are some of those whose adventures he records in this remarkable book. It also makes a refreshing change to read a memoir by someone who is politically literate and knew exactly what he was fighting against and what he was fighting for.’ There are passages in this book – particularly those concerning the political awakening of POWs and their determination to create a better post-war world – that make the reader want to stand up and cheer.

Charles Rollings, author of Wire and Walls, Wire and Worse

UNDER THE WIRE is everything I would expect from a memoir by Bill Ash — fast-paced, exciting and moving, but also colored by his mischievous sense of humor. He has a real gift as a storyteller — the characters and events come off the page as if we were meeting and experiencing them ourselves. Bill Ash was one of the great escape artists of the Second World War, and always managed to put himself in the centre of the action. He endured a lot, but never lost his essential humanity and zest for life, something that comes through very strongly in his book. That’s what makes UNDER THE WIRE such a joy to read — getting to know the irrepressible Ash and reliving his adventures with him.

Jonathan Vance, author of A Gallant Company: The Men of the Great Escape.

 

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3 Weeks until Big New Year’s Fun!

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There are now just three weeks left to reserve your seats for Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration at Studio5 in Evanston. Tickets are going fast for the funniest and most fun New Year’s party on Chicago’s North Shore.

Poster 2017 NYE #6Following last year’s smash holiday engagement at Studio5, the legendary Practical Theatre returns with another entertaining comedy and music revue featuring veteran improvisational comedy writer-performers Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen – Joined by the PTC’s musical director, Steve Rashid, songbird Eva B. Ross, standup comic Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, cabaret chanteuse Shelly Goldstein — and the Studio5 All-Star Band, featuring Rockin’ Ronny Crawford on drums, Don Stille on accordion, bassist Joe Policastro, and Don Stiernberg on every stringed instrument a man can possibly play. Plus percussionist Robert Rashid.

All this — and The Mr. Olsen Dancers!

CastOnly 3 shows: Friday December 29, Saturday December 30 and Sunday December 31. Tickets are on sale here!

The show on December 31st will be followed by a fabulous dance party — as we invite you all to swing into the New Year with live music by the Studio5 All-Stars! (And enjoy some tasty food, too!)

There will be a cash bar for all three shows. Doors open for cocktails at 7:30.

And there’s plenty of free parking right in front of the theatre.

Don’t miss the biggest party of the year!

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Ring in the New Year with Laughter!

There are now just five weeks left to reserve your seats for Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration at Studio5 in Evanston. Tickets are going fast for the funniest and most fun New Year’s party on Chicago’s North Shore.

Poster 2017 NYE #6Following last year’s smash holiday engagement at Studio5, the legendary Practical Theatre returns with another entertaining comedy and music revue featuring veteran improvisational comedy writer-performers Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen – Joined by the PTC’s musical director, Steve Rashid, songbird Eva B. Ross, standup comic Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, cabaret chanteuse Shelly Goldstein — and the Studio5 All-Star Band, featuring Rockin’ Ronny Crawford on drums, Don Stille on accordion, bassist Joe Policastro, and Don Stiernberg on every stringed instrument a man can possibly play. Plus percussionist Robert Rashid.

All this — and The Mr. Olsen Dancers!

CastOnly 3 shows: Friday December 29, Saturday December 30 and Sunday December 31. Tickets are on sale here!

The show on December 31st will be followed by a fabulous dance party — as we invite you all to swing into the New Year with live music by the Studio5 All-Stars! (And enjoy some tasty food, too!)

There will be a cash bar for all three shows. Doors open for cocktails at 7:30.

And there’s plenty of free parking right in front of the theatre.

Don’t miss the biggest party of the year!

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Comedy, Improvisation, Music, Uncategorized