Tag Archives: Larry Schanker

Practical Theatre Residency at Studio5!



Nearly four decades after leaving our beloved storefront theatre on Howard Street (The John Lennon Auditorium) in 1985, The Practical Theatre Company is re-establishing an ongoing presence in Evanston with a residency at Studio5 — where we recently sold out the limited run of our comedy hit, Vic & Paul & Dana’s Post Pandemic Revue.

The PTC@Studio5 residency will feature a variety of shows, hosted and performed by PTC members and guest artists drawn from Chicago’s theatre and music communities — and beyond. 

There’s no better place to enjoy a show with your friends than the Studio5 Cabaret, which has comfortable seating, state of the art sound and lights, and acres of free parking!

Operated by Bea and Steve Rashid, Studio5 is located at 1934 Dempster Street in Evanston. (On the southwest corner of Dempster & Dodge, adjacent to Dance Center Evanston.)For tickets go to: https://www.studio5.dance/calendar

Our first offering…


Filed under Art, Comedy, History, Improvisation, Music, Uncategorized

True Genius at Play this Weekend: Larry Schanker at the Piano!

It’s a rare thing to experience an artist of the highest caliber in his element. Imagine being in Picasso’s studio watching him paint. Try to picture yourself on a Hollywood movie set as Humphrey Bogart tells Ingrid Bergman, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Just think of sitting in a Harlem club listening to Louis Armstrong blowing his horn.

That’s how you’ll feel listening to Larry Schanker at the piano.

And if you live anywhere near southern Michigan, northeastern Indiana or northwestern Ohio – you have a chance THIS WEEKEND to see true genius in the flesh.

On this Sunday, September 30th, you have a chance to enjoy one of the most brilliant pianists alive — Larry Schanker.

Larry will perform at the Acorn Theatre in Three Oaks, Michigan. For tickets, click here.

According to the New Buffalo Arts Council program, Larry’s “concert will consist of several three-piece thematic suites, in styles ranging from traditional classical music to classic rock. Dr. Schanker’s original music will be interspersed, including a solo version of the 4th movement of his Concerto for Jazz Piano. Rounding out the afternoon will be a showing of “In the Park”, a Charlie Chaplin short film with Dr. Schanker improvising the accompaniment.”

 Let me say two things:

1. Larry’s Concerto for Jazz Piano is like Gershwin on steroids – and only Larry could possibly play it!

2. I haven’t seen Chaplin’s “In the Park”, but I have seen Larry play live accompaniment to a Buster Keaton film – and he was amazing.

I’ve known Larry Schanker since our college days at Northwestern University when he was the piano player who kicked our Mee-Ow Show comedy revues up more than a few creative notches. After that, he was the man behind the piano for several history-making Practical Theatre Company comedy revues, as well as an original member of Riffmaster & The Rockme Foundation.

Since then, Larry’s work has run the gamut from Shakespeare to Chekhov, to The Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, and Second City in Chicago. This past summer, Dr. Schanker (did I mention that he’s a very smart guy?) presented an evening of silent film as part of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Casual Classics Series — and at the Indiana University Cinema, he accompanied a 1920 silent film version of Hamlet.

Larry at the piano in 1988 while The Practical Theatre works on the Barrosse-Hall musical, “Rockme!” for the Columbia College New Musicals Project.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – he’s REALLY good. Go see him play. That way, you can say, “Oh! I saw Larry Schanker play in 2012 in New Buffalo!”

And everybody will wish they could have been there.

Two guys who WERE there. Rockme Foundation members Maurice Cleary (L) and Casey Fox (R) flank Maestro Doctor Schanker after his show.


Filed under Art, Beauty, Music

Don’t Miss Larry’s Concerto!

Don’t miss the broadcast of Larry Schanker’s first piano concerto on radio station WAUS this Sunday, November 20th at 6:00 PM Michigan time.

Photo credit: All photos of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra by Alden J. Ho Photography.

I am delighted to announce that our good friend, the amazingly talented pianist and composer, Larry Schanker, has performed his first piano concerto — Concerto for Jazz Piano — with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. Better yet, we’ll all get a chance to listen to it on Sunday November 20th – by clicking this link at 6:00 PM Michigan time.


Larry was the Practical Theatre Company’s first musical director, and played keys for our comedy revues at the Piper’s Alley Theatre: The Golden Jubiliee, Megafun and Babalooney (with Rockin’ Ronny Crawford hitting the skins.) Larry also worked with us on the development of our musical, “Rock Me!” for the Columbia College New Musical project in 1988. He’s also a lifetime member of Riffmaster & The Rockme Foundation.

But Larry is also one of those longhair serious classical artists — and he’s been busy in the past year writing his first piano concerto, preparing the orchestral parts over the summer, and, as he says, “practicing more than I have in many years to make sure I could play the darned thing.”

On Sunday, Larry’s performance with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra will be broadcast on a local Michigan university radio station, WAUS. Larry says it may only be accessible in real time.

Techincal note: Mac users will need an updated version of Flip4Mac, the program that enables Quicktime to read Windows Media Player files.

Here’s a link to the concert program and program notes.


Larry’s on the bill with some guys named Aaron Copland and Dvorak.

So, tune in to Larry’s concerto Sunday evening and get a taste of the talent that so many of his friend have marveled at over the years.

Congratulations, maestro Schanker!


Filed under Art, Beauty, Music