Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Beverly Review & Our Revue

With a little more than two weeks before “The Vic & Paul Show” opens at The Beverly Arts Center in Chicago, Victoria spoke to her hometown neighborhood newspaper, The Beverly Review.

Published as part of the May 30, 2012 edition.

by Caroline Connors

When Victoria Zielinski takes the stage at the Beverly Arts Center next month to perform with her husband Paul Barrosse in “The Vic and Paul Show,” it will be just like old times for the Beverly-born-and raised comedienne.

Although she’s lived in Los Angeles for most of her adult life, she said, she still has vivid childhood memories of ice skating at Ridge Park, eating ice cream at Rainbow Cone and spending long afternoons at the Walker branch of the Chicago Public Library.

“I don’t feel like I ever really left Beverly,” Zielinski said. “It’s in your blood.”

On top of that, she and her husband, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer, are returning to the stage to do a show together after a two-decade hiatus spent working day jobs in the television industry and raising three daughters, Maura, Emilia and Eva.

Zielinski and Barrosse met years ago while attending Northwestern University, and they went on to perform together in several comedy revues for the Practical Theatre, a Chicago- based theater company that was active throughout the 1980s.

They married in 1990, started a family and “haven’t been out of the house since,” Zielinski said.

Now that their “baby” is 16, the couple is resurrecting the creative spark that drew them together for the first time.

“Paul looked at me over Thanksgiving dinner a couple of years ago and said, ‘We’re either Vic and Paul who created comedy together, or we’re not,’” Zielinski said.

So the couple decided to pick up where they left off, creating a show that touches on the wacky world of marriage, child rearing and middle age. They spent five months creating the show at the kitchen table after work, drinking martinis and improvising just like they had done in their 20s.

“A lot of improvising occurred after 10 p.m., and it could get a little loud,” Zielinski said. “Our daughter came down the stairs a couple of times and asked, ‘Are you guys fighting?’ She got to see a part of us that she had not known.”

The show opened in Los Angeles in 2010 and played at the Mayne Stage Theater in Rogers Park in December 2011, drawing a diverse audience with its “slightly edgy” mix of music and sketch comedy laced with references to modern-day politics and tinged with a slightly vintage undertone.

“It’s almost like a tribute to [Mike] Nichols and [Elaine] May, who were a big hit on Broadway in the 1960s,” Zielinski said. “It’s an unspoken homage to that kind of comedy.”

A graduate of Kellogg Elementary School and Luther South High School, Zielinksi earned her bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees from Northwestern before devoting her career to comedy and improv. In addition to her roles in “Megafun,” “Art, Ruth & Trudy” and “Bozo Town” with the Practical Theatre, Zielinski has appeared in roles at the Goodman Theatre, the National Jewish Theatre, Court Theatre and as a member of the Willow Street Carnival, which sent her to Barcelona, Spain, to live and study with the renowned Spanish comedy troupe, Els Comediants.

The couple moved to Los Angeles in the early ’90s to further their careers as television producers, Zielinski said, but Chicago will always be home.

“In Beverly, you walk out of your house, and three people say, ‘Where are you going?’ and then give you their opinion on whatever it is you’re doing,” she said. “Here, I could be dead in my house for 20 months, and no one would notice.”

No matter whether she’s in Chicago or L.A., Zielinski is happy to be back on stage with Barrosse and celebrating the next phase of their marriage.

“We’re older and fatter than we were 20 years ago, but that’s A-OK. We’re not trying to be famous; we’ve got nothing to prove,” Zielinski said. “We think it’s cool to be empty-nesters. Paul’s my best friend, and this is our next step.”

“The Vic and Paul Show” will appear at the BAC June 15-17 and June 21-24. Tickets are $22 for non-members and $20 for members and can be purchased by calling (773) 445-3838 or online at

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A Salty Salute to the Mayor of Chicago…

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Memorial Day at Arlington West

They’ve been doing it for nearly a decade now.

Every Sunday, from sunrise to sunset, a group called Veterans for Peace puts small white wooden crosses into the sand on the beach in Santa Monica, CA. Each cross represents a soldier’s life lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They call it Arlington West.

Years ago, when I first witnessed this solemn display, the crosses numbered in the hundreds. Today, there are crosses and Stars of David and Islamic crescents to represent the 6,447 fallen American servicemen who have given their lives in service to our county.

When the memorial began in 2003, Veterans for Peace would place one cross in the sand for each servicemen killed. As the numbers of lives lost has grown over the years, there are now an inceasing number of red crosses — each representing 10 lost American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

It’s an incongruous sight, this makeshift, ever-growing military memorial in the shadow of Santa Monica Pier and it’s bustling carnival atmosphere, surrounded by surfers, swimmers and other sun worshippers.  But it’s a necessary reminder of supreme sacrifices made on the other side of the world – far, far away from the pleasures of the Pier and the fun in the sun of Santa Monica Bay.

The goal of Veterans For Peace is to offer “visitors a graceful, visually and emotionally powerful, place for reflection.”

And Arlington West does just that.

Take a moment to ponder the following photos.

On this Memorial Day, pause to reflect at Arlington West.


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A Salty Salute to the Mayor of Chicago…


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“The Vic & Paul Show” Summer 2012…

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“The Vic & Paul Show” Plays the Best Location in the Nation…

This summer, July 12-15th at the 14th Street Theatre in Playhouse Square, I’ll be performing again in my beloved hometown — 36 years after my last turn on a Cleveland area stage as Broadway song and dance legend George M. Cohan in the Euclid Shore Center of the Arts’ Bicentennial production of George M!

I began my stage career as a freshman at Cleveland Central Catholic High School when director Dennis Behl cast me as Og the Leprechaun in the spring ’77 musical, Finian’s Rainbow.

Since I played football and wrestled, I was only able to do the spring play. (At Cleveland Central Catholic there was, thankfully, no dividing line between the jocks and theatre folk.)

In my sophomore year at CCC, the fabulous Mary Ann Zampino took over the Central Catholic theatre program – and I won the role of Coach Bart Bascom in You Were Born on a Rotten Day.

It’s still hard to imagine I wrestled at 126 pounds – and that Bart Bascom could wear such a tight t-shirt with complete confidence. (Those were the days, my friend.)

You Were Born on a Rotten Day was certainly not a classic theatrical property, but in the two years that followed, I had the opportunity to play two great American musical theatre roles: Marrying Sam in Li’l Abner (originated on Broadway by the famed Stubby Kaye) and, in my senior year, Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man.

Now, 36 years after playing the title roles in The Music Man and George M! – and, after a decade of work in Chicago theatre, a brief but memorable stint at Saturday Night Live, and a productive two decades in the television industry in Los Angeles, I’m thrilled to be returning to Cleveland with my very funny wife Victoria and my great friend and musical director Steve Rashid to perform our hit improvisational comedy revue The Vic & Paul Show from July 12-15 at The 14th Street Theatre in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square.

The Chicago Tribune calls The Vic & Paul Show “Old school sketch comedy done right” – so go to the Cleveland Playhouse Square website to purchase tickets for an unforgettable evening of comedy, music, marriage and martinis.

This is going to be a very funny homecoming.

To all my Cleveland family, friends, and fellow Central Catholic alumni – I promise you an evening of laughs well worth the 36-year wait.

And, hey! The Tribe’s in first place – so, it’s all good!

Here’s the whole “Vic & Paul Show” Summer 2012 Tour…

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Just One Month until “The Vic & Paul Show” @ The Beverly Arts Center…

There’s only one month left to get your tickets for The Vic & Paul Show at The Beverly Arts Center on Chicago’s South Side at 2407 W. 111th Street from June 15-24th. For more info about the show and the Beverly neighborhood — Victoria’s childhood home — click here.

See you at The Beverly Arts Center in June!

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“Vic & Paul” Go Hollywood!

“The Vic & Paul Show” is coming to Hollywood.

Yes, that Hollywood.


The Entertainment Capital of the World

For one weekend only this summer, August 9-12, 2012, we’ll be performing “The Vic & Paul Show” at The iO West Theatre at 6366 Hollywood Boulevard — not far from those famous handprints and footprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and all the stars underfoot along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

My very funny wife Victoria Zielinski and I will be joined, as ever, by our musical director Steve Rashid for what we call an “Evening of Comedy, Music, Marriage and Martinis” – a show The Chicago Tribune proclaimed “Old school sketch comedy done right.”

When we brought our show to Chicago last year, WGN Radio personality and veteran Chicago newspaperman Rick Kogan said, “One of the theatrical events of the year is the return of Paul Barrosse and Victoria Zielinski to the Chicago stage with ‘The Vic & Paul Show’…the new Nichols & May… It’s a not-to-be-missed engagement.” So, listen to Rick, and don’t miss our engagement at iO West.

Our four performances in Hollywood this August will give our friends and comedy lovers in Southern California their first chance to see the show since it opened in June 2010 at Push Lounge in Woodland Hills.

The iO West Theatre is a perfect venue for “The Vic & Paul Show” – an intimate cabaret space devoted to improvisational comedy. (Sort of like The Practical Theatre Company’s fabled John Lennon Auditorium with a full bar and more than twice the seating.) Formerly known as the “ImprovOlympic West”, iO West has been operating at its Hollywood location since October 2001.

The i.O. was founded by the legendary Second City veteran and eccentric improvisational comedy genius Del Close and Charna Halpern. Fittingly, there’s a Practical Theatre connection here: a connection that began, as so much did, in Chicago in the early 1980s. That’s when we first met Del and Charna.

Through our long association with Second City director Sheldon Patinkin (our comedy guru since 1981) and our brief partnership with Second City owner Bernie Sahlins in the Piper’s Alley Theatre, we Practical Theatre folk got to know the talented denizens of Chicago’s comedy institution at North & Wells, including the infamous Del Close.

Del’s portrait adorns a wall of the iO West main stage, where we’ll be performing.

By the time we met Del Close in the early 80s, he had already performed and directed for Second City, then moved to San Francisco where he directed another classic improv comedy group, The Committee, and toured with Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters. Del spent the early 80s in New York, as “House Metaphysician” at Saturday Night Live, coaching the cast and further burnishing his reputation as a major influence on modern American comedy.

I got to know Del better when we were both cast in a 1984 Goodman Theatre production of A Christmas Carol. I was the Ghost of Christmas Past and Del was the Ghost of Christmas Present. Around this time, I tried to develop a Practical Theatre show with Del – a project we called The Secret Show: a revolutionary new revue to be written and performed by Rush Pearson and me as humorous henchmen in the service of a mad comic scientist to be played by Del.

The Secret Show never happened, but Del was enshrined as an honorary member of The Practical Theatre ensemble in 1985 at a ritual in which Del dipped his feet in red paint and stomped his iconic footprints into the sidewalk in front of The John Lennon Auditorium at 703 Howard Street in Evanston.

At the time we were contemplating The Secret Show, Del was busy teaching improv and collaborating with Charna Halpern. Close was working with Charna at the ImprovOlympic Theater, which she’d founded and briefly run with David Shepherd, one of the founders of the Compass Players (the forerunner to The Second City). We got to know Charna when we were both doing shows at the late, lamented, counter-cultural nightclub, CrossCurrents on Belmont in Chicago.

More than a quarter of a century later, Victoria and I reconnected with Charna when we both made presentations at The Chicago Theatre Symposium in the spring of last year – and again when she came to Rogers Park during the holidays see “The Vic & Paul Show” at Mayne Stage.

The rest is much more recent history.

So, join us at the iO West Theatre August 9-12th.

You can check out those famous hand and footprints at Grauman’s before the show.


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Ms. Maura Plays The Viper Room & Other Musical Highlights!

My daughter, Maura Murphy-Barrosse (aka Ms. Maura) and her musical partner, guitarist Lynz Floren have just released their first single, “I Can’t Complain” – and it’s now available on iTunes and other online music sites. Get it today.

Ms. Maura and Lynz are also inviting friends and fans to help them make their first music video.

All you have to do is send Ms. Maura a photo of you holding a sign stating why you can’t complain. (See the charming samples at right.)

Then, you and your fabulous photo will be featured in the music video.

But that’s just where the musical fun begins. Ms. Maura & Lynz are also playing a gig at The Viper Room Lounge THIS THURSDAY, May 10th at 7:45 PM. And if you come to the show, they promise a special surprise!!

The Viper Room Lounge is located at 8852 W Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood. Tickets are $10.00. And remember to mention Ms. Maura & Lynz at the door!

You can also “Like” Ms. Maura on Facebook.

And check out her EP, “Reversible Lobotomy”.

If you haven’t discovered Ms. Maura yet, check out what the National Music Examiner has to say about “Reversible Lobotomy”.

“LA’s talented sassy mama, Ms. Maura is laying down some serious tracks on this EP.  Proving that if you’re going to do an EP, you should cut the fat and give ’em your best, this lady proves to have the talent and skill to do just that.  If you enjoy Shirley Bassey’s style, Adele’s throaty range, and some textured, complex musical arrangements that traverse through jazz/classical/world rhythms.  Each track melds beautifully into the next and yet each packs a powerful punch unto itself.  “I don’t wanna” exudes truth, beauty, and honesty expressed with a rich soulfulness.  These 5 songs have been on repeat rotation since first hearing this EP for it’s a fresh, timeless, deep cohesive effort by a deserving to be called “Diva”, Ms. Maura.”

And an iTunes Review by IndieIsGood said:

“At first you think, “Oh, she’s a little like Annie Lennox,” then you think, “No, she’s sort of a torch singer,” then you think, “Whoa! That’s a BIG voice — like Etta James Big,” and then you just stop thinking and sit back and say, “It’s just GOOD.”

Your Pop Filter said:

“Ms. Maura’s voice has SO MUCH range and expression.  The record is a tidy 5 tracks long, but these 5 tracks feel so much bigger.  Throughout the first listen, the songs seem to vary a great deal, but something unspoken ties them together. Subsequent listens serve only to pull you deeper into her world… I heartily recommend that you buy it.”

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A Childhood Memory of Kent State, May 4, 1970.

On May 4th, we should pause to remember the price of freedom, paid in blood by patriots – like the young people who died at Kent State.

On this day 42 years ago at Kent State University, Ohio National Guardsmen fired 67 shots into a group of students protesting the American invasion of Cambodia — killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom was permanently paralyzed.

The small college town of Kent is about 40 miles southeast of Cleveland, where on Monday, May 4, 1970 I was an elementary school student at St. Rocco’s School.  The shooting on the Kent State campus began at 12:24 pm – and by the time we were getting out of school at 3:00 pm, the news had reached Cleveland.  But the news was by word of mouth when I first heard it. And it was wrong.

The first thing I heard when I walked out of school along with my 6th grade classmates was that “some hippies had shot some National Guardsmen.”

That’s what I heard from one of the parents waiting to pick up their kids.

When we got home and turned on our black and white television sets, Walter Cronkite set us straight.

Later, Crosby, Still, Nash & Young captured the moment, the sorrow, the sacrifice — and the defiance.


Written by Neil Young

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?
Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio.


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