Tag Archives: Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood

Just Two Weeks Until the New Year’s Fun Begins…

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Paul Barrosse, Victoria Zielinski and Dana Olsen veterans of Practical Theatre Co., founded by Northwestern students in the 1980s, are hosting a holiday show Dec. 30 and 31 at Studio5 in Evanston. (Bradford Rogne)

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Pioneer Press

Three veterans of the Practical Theatre Co. will once again share its signature blend of social commentary and comedy in “Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party,” Dec. 30 and 31 at Evanston’s new Studio5.

Husband and wife Paul Barrosse and Victoria Zielinski of Los Angeles, and Evanston resident Dana Olsen, were members of the company founded by Northwestern University students, which achieved acclaim throughout the 1980s.

The trio first reunited onstage four years ago at the Wilmette Theatre, performing a variety show called, “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood.” Two years ago, they did “Mr. Olsen’s New Year’s Rockin’ Neighborhood” at 27 Live. Last year, the three of them presented a version of the current show in Los Angeles, joined by longtime friend Steve Rashid of Evanston, a noted musician and composer, who co-owns Studio5 with wife Bea Rashid.

“We thought, this being an election year, this would be a perfect time to collaborate,” Zielinski said. “We collaborated on the sketches, imagining Hillary Clinton’s presidency and Donald Trump as a kind of jokester. Now we’re scrambling to rewrite two central numbers.”

“Which we think we’ve done successfully,” Barrosse added. “But it’s been a mixture of laughter and tears.”

Olsen, who hosts, describes the show as, “Our sort of tribute to the old network holiday shows you used to see on NBC, like Dean Martin or Bob Hope or Andy Williams used to host.”

Zielinski added, “Those are the things, as we grew up, we would go to in front of the television at Christmastime. Now that we’re getting to be a little bit older, we thought it would be funny to mix the Practical Theatre zaniness with kind of an Andy Williams Christmas special.”

In one of Olsen’s favorite sketches, he plays an administrative official at Northwestern who is talking to two professors. “They’re delivering the results of a very arcane research project that they’re pitching to the university,” he said.

In another Olsen favorite, the three performers play a trio of animals, which Olsen admitted is tough on his back.

“We’ll be getting into film noire,” Barrosse added, and then revealed, “Victoria is wincing because she doesn’t want me to give away any premises. She wants nothing but surprises.”

“I’m not wincing,” Zielinski interjected. “It’s my normal attitude.”

She added that this show lets audiences know, “There’s a real excitement and sex and fun to being over 50 and having a great time from a comedic standpoint. It’s not a voice that you hear represented a lot onstage.”

Music director Rashid on keyboards will lead a quartet featuring drummer Ronny Crawford, Don Stiernberg on guitar and mandolin, and bassist Jim Cox.

Talented members of the second generation will also perform. That includes standup comedians Emilia Barrosse and Giggle Breaks’ Daniel Rashid. Barrosse and Zielinski’s other daughter, singer Eva B. Ross will also entertain, as will Rashid’s son, drummer Robert Rashid.

Steve Rashid knows how spontaneous his Practical Theatre Company friends can be. “From a musical standpoint, I have to always be prepared because anything could happen.”

‘Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party’

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 30 and 31

Where: Studio5, 1934 Dempster St., Evanston

Tickets: $35-$45 Dec. 30; $60-$75 Dec. 31, which includes light food and post-show dancing

Information: studio5-holidayparty.bpt.me

Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune

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The Party’s Less Than A Month Away…

new-show-artActually, it’s a bit less than three months away — but comedy lovers in the Chicago area looking to shake off the madness of this wild and crazy year still have a chance to ring in 2017 with a raucous good time at Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party. Tickets are going fast — but you can still join the party!

For Tickets go to: http://studio5-holidayparty.bpt.me

 Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party is a classic holiday variety show featuring grown-up sktetch comedy, live music, standup comedy, adult beverages — and The Mr. Olsen Dancers! It’s happening at Studio5, Evanston’s newest, classiest performance venue at 1934 Dempster Street (at Dempster & Dodge).

nye-art-a-copyPractical Theatre Company veterans Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen will perform comedy sketches and topical songs from “The Vic & Paul & Dana Show”, accompanied by keyboard wiz Steve Rashid, drummer Rockin’ Ronny Crawford, bassist Jim Cox — and Don Stiernberg playing every stringed instrument imaginable.

The PTC’s next generation is also on the bill: standup comedienne Emilia Barrosse and Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, plus singer-songwriter Eva B. Ross (whom North Siders have seen at Katerina’s Jazz Club, The Beauty Bar and The Whiskey Lounge at 27 Live) and drummer Robert Rashid.

Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party runs for two shows: a performance of the comedy-variety show on December 30 — and a New Year’s Eve party on December 31st featuring the comedy-variety show (including light food) followed by live music by the Studio5 All-Stars, who will keep the dance floor grooving into 2017!

Studio 5 has acres of free parking – and there will be a cash bar on both evenings.

For Tickets go to: http://studio5-holidayparty.bpt.me

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The Party’s Just About A Month Away…

mohp-banner-1-copyComedy lovers in the Chicago area looking for a way to shake off the madness of this wild and crazy year can ring in 2017 with a raucous good time at Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party.

 Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party is a classic holiday variety show featuring grown-up sketch comedy, live music, standup comedy, adult beverages — and The Mr. Olsen Dancers! It’s happening at Studio5, Evanston’s newest, classiest performance venue at 1934 Dempster Street (the SW corner of Dempster & Dodge).

mohp-pngPractical Theatre Company veterans Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen will perform improvisational comedy sketches and topical songs from “The Vic & Paul & Dana Show”, accompanied by keyboard wizard Steve Rashid, drummer Rockin’ Ronny Crawford — and Don Stiernberg playing every stringed instrument imaginable.

The PTC’s next generation is also adding to the fun: standup comedienne Emilia Barrosse and Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, plus singer-songwriter Eva B. Ross (whom North Siders have seen at venues like Katerina’s Jazz Club, The Beauty Bar and The Whiskey Lounge at 27 Live) and drummer Robert Rashid.

Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party runs for two shows: a performance of the comedy-variety show on December 30 — and a New Year’s Eve party on December 31st featuring the comedy-variety show (including light food) followed by live music by the Studio5 All-Stars, who will keep the dance floor grooving into 2017!

Studio 5 has acres of free parking – and there will be a cash bar on both evenings.

For Tickets go to: http://studio5-holidayparty.bpt.me

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Time For A Big Year End Party!

holiday-poster-jpegIf you’re in the Chicago area – and you’re looking for a great way to shake off the madness of a truly wild and crazy year – then ring in 2017 by having a raucous good time at Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party.

Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party is a classic holiday variety special featuring grown-up comedy, live music, standup comedy, adult beverages, and The Mr. Olsen Dancers! It’s all happening at Evanston’s newest and classiest performance venue, Studio5.

vpd-nye-copyPractical Theatre Company veterans Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen will perform improvisational comedy sketches from “The Vic & Paul & Dana Show” — joined by the PTC’s longtime musical director and keyboard wizard, Steve Rashid, plus Rockin’ Ronny Crawford on the skins and Don Stiernberg on every stringed instrument imaginable.

The PTC’s next generation is also adding to the fun: standup comedienne Emilia Barrosse and Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, along with songs by Eva B. Ross (whom you may have seen at The Whiskey Lounge) and drummer Robert Rashid. Did I already mention the Mr. Olsen Dancers?

It’s a family affair — and you’re all family!

studio5seatsevaMr. Olsen’s Holiday Party runs for two shows: There’s a performance of the comedy-variety show on December 30 — and a full-blown New Year’s Eve party on December 31st, featuring the comedy-variety show (including light food) followed by live music by the Studio5 All-Stars, who will keep the dance floor swinging, rocking and grooving into the New Year!

Two more good things: Studio5 enjoys acres of free parking – and there’s a cash bar for both evenings.

Tickets available through Brown Paper Tickets.  http://studio5-holidayparty.bpt.me

This will be a holiday party to remember. See you there for all the fun!steve-bea

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ObamaCare & Italy & Everything Else — Blog 2013: The Fourth Year In Review.

New Year'sObamacareitaly-banner-1 S&GFor my family and me, 2013 ended on an upbeat note with “Mr. Olsen’s New Year’s Rockin’ Neighborhood” — a raucous, sold-out celebration of comedy and rock & roll at 27 Live in Evanston, Illinois. The weather was bitterly cold but there was a delightful, enveloping warmth in our comic camaraderie with longtime friends, bandmates, fellow Northwestern University alums and members of The Practical Theatre Company.

P&EvaI even got to sing duets with my college roommate and fellow Practical Theatre founder, Brad Hall (as Simon & Garfunkel, above) — and with my daughter, Eva.

We closed the evening with two spirited sets by Riffmaster & The Rockme Foundation, the band I’ve been playing with since the early 1980’s. There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than by rocking with your best buddies. All in all, it was a wonderful way to say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014.

suess-graphic-cruz26nI’ll be candid. For some reason, 2013 was not a very prolific year for this blog. I don’t know whether it was the fact that the excitement of the 2012 Presidential election gave way to Congressional constipation courtesy of the recalcitrant, reactionary Tea Party bloc in the House of Reps — or that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act led to the dispiriting madness of the government shutdown. I managed to get off a few broadsides skewering the likes of Senator Ted Cruz (Tea Party, TX) — but the I should have written more in defense of President Obama and progressive politics. (Though my most commented-on post in 2013 was President Obama Goes to War.) Still, I resolve to do a better job of blogging on politics in 2014.

ItalyBThe highlight of 2013 was our family’s two-week trip to Italy and the provinces of Tuscany and Umbria in August. I tried to sum up the experience in an article entitled, Our Italian Adventure. I could easily have written a series of blog posts on each of the beautiful cities and towns we visited, the artwork we saw, the food we ate, and the people we met — but I stuffed the whole, glorious journey into one account. To make amends to my readers I promise that, before too long, I will post a link to the movie we shot on the grounds of Camporsevoli. Stay tuned…

2013 was the fourth year for this blog — and here are the year’s vital signs:

Paul’s Voyage of Discovery & Etc. has attracted 164,472 views since it began four years ago. There were 34,572 visits in 2013. I’ve posted 299 articles since this blog began. This post is #3oo: certainly a notable milestone.

This is not the real subscription sign up box. The real one is further to the right. And up a little…

I am honored that 147 subscribers have now signed on to have my posts automatically delivered to them via e-mail. (And 43 more folks follow this blog on Twitter.) Are you a subscriber? If you’re not — then look to your right at the photo of the saluting Matey and follow the simple instructions to “Hop Aboard!”

The search terms that readers used most to find this blog were “Pearl Harbor”, “Occupy Wall Street”, “trial by jury”, “Bill of Rights” and “Pickett’s Charge”. And these are the posts that readers were most attracted to this year…

What follows is a list of The Top Ten Most Popular Posts of 2013.

Just click on the title of each post to access the original article.

1. Victory at Pearl HarborPearl Harbor

Originally posted in 2010 on the anniversary of the “day that will live in infamy” – this post has become an annual event. A lot of military history fans visit this blog, but I think Pearl Harbor fascinates and resonates with Americans whether they have an interest in military history or not. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks took more American lives – but Pearl Harbor was the shocking opening act in a drama that ultimately made the United States the world’s preeminent superpower.

2. Happy Birthday Bill of Rights!

On December 15, 2010 – the 215th birthday of our Bill of Rights – I wrote this basic primer on the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution and it’s become one of the most-read posts in the history of this blog. I guess that’s because Americans still give a damn about their rights and are keen to understand their Constitutional foundation.

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

On the May 4, 2012 anniversary of this very dark day in America history, I posted this personal remembrance of a young Ohioan’s earliest memories of that terrible day. Unlike the Pearl Harbor post, I haven’t re-posted this article every year — but readers still find it. “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming.” The shootings at Kent State should never be forgotten.

4. The Top Ten Rock & Roll Singers of All Time

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There’s nothing like a Top 10 list to promote discussion on a blog – and this December 5, 2011 post did just that. Check it out – and then weigh in with your own opinion. Just realize that your opinion on rock & roll singing cannot possibly be as informed as my own.

5. The Occupy Wall Street Movement Doesn’t Need Black Bloc Buffooneryblackboc

Though we didn’t hear much about it in 2013,  the Occupy Wall Street movement has inspired a lot of posts on this blog since 2011. This post, written on November 2, 2011, has proven to be the most popular. Maybe that’s because people agree that we don’t need a bunch of foolish, immature anarchists screwing up a noble movement that ultimately helped to put Barrack Obama back in office. Without Occupy Wall Street, would Romney’s attack on the 47% have evoked such a profound and spirited response? Without Occupy Wall Street, would the concept of the 99% and 1% have ever entered the Zeitgeist?

6. My Book Report: “The Battle of Midway”midway

What a great book! What an amazing chapter of world history! On January 23, 2012, I wrote this review of a book that captures all the incredible heroism, good luck, and turns of fate that made this epic World War Two naval battle an overwhelming victory that turned the tide of the war against Imperial Japan. In 2013, I write another book report on an excellent World War Two account, The Day of Battle, about the campaign to liberate Italy. A few weeks after I wrote that post, my family visited the American cemetery in Tuscany and paid our respects to the soldiers whose valor, sacrifice and victory are recounted in Rick Atkinson’s fine book.

7. LeBron: The King Moves Onlebron-banner-2

As a Cleveland native, I’ve often been asked my opinion of LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers several years ago — and my friends and co-workers are usually shocked that I’m not upset or indignant or jilted, etc. And while the blogosphere hardly needed one more commentary on LeBron James’ move to the Miami Heat, I wrote this post on July 9, 2010 to explain that LeBron James didn’t owe me anything. He’s a professional basketball player who wants to win and be remembered as the best to play the game. The two NBA championships he’s won in Miami since I wrote this post have given LeBron all the scoreboard he needs.

8. Growing Up in the Space Age

The last American space shuttle launch inspired this July 14, 2011 remembrance of my personal connection to the Space Age. This popular post salutes my fellow Ohioan, John Glenn, who served as both the first man to orbit the Earth and as a Senator from my home state. I wish that my three daughters had grown up experiencing something half as exciting and inspirational as The Race to the Moon.

9. The Wrecking Crew

Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, Carol Kay, Tommy Tedesco, Leon Russell, Earl Palmer: the cream of Los Angeles studio musicians in the late 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s became known as “The Wrecking Crew”. I’m thrilled that my March 21, 2011 blog article celebrating Tommy Tedesco’s son’s marvelous documentary film about these rock & roll legends has proven to be such a popular post. If you haven’t done it already, do a Google search on “The Wrecking Crew”. Until then, your rock & roll education is not complete.

10. The Matey’s Log: Sailing Season Begins raceheader

This post recounted a sailboat race held on February 13, 2010.  It was a good thing that the race was being run the day before Valentine’s Day. Like golf, sailing is a sport that takes men out of the house for long stretches of time on the weekend. But sailboat racing is worse than golf because it’s never certain when you’ll be done. 18 holes of golf always take about the same amount of time to complete. The duration of a sailboat race depends upon the vagaries of the wind and conditions on the water. I don’t sail as much as I used to to — but I still love it. And I’ll continue to report on my sailing adventures in the new year.

So, that’s the best of 2013. Stay connected. Subscribe. And please keep posting your comments!

Here’s to another fine voyage in 2014!

And here are the All-Time Top 10 Blog Posts from January 2010 up to today:

1. Happy Birthday Bill of Rights!

2. Victory at Pearl Harbor

3. The Occupy Wall Street Movement Doesn’t Need Black Bloc Buffoonery

4. History & Honeymoon: Part Three

This post was the #3 post in 2010. 24 years ago, my wife Victoria and I went to Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefields on our honeymoon! I needed no other assurance that I had married the perfect woman. On our 20th anniversary, we returned to Gettysburg. Now both students of the battle, we walked the battlefield on July 1, 2 and 3, 2010 on the 147th anniversary of that critical conflict. My four-part account of our battlefield tramping became one of the most popular items on the blog. (Originally posted July 20, 2010)

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

6. Aliens Among Us?

I’ve always wondered where singular, epochal, “out of this world” geniuses like William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci and Bob Dylan came from. So, on January 26, 2011, I wrote this speculation on the possible alien origin of such monumental minds. Evidently, my curiosity (if not my Erich Van Daniken “ancient astronaut” fantasy) is still shared by a lot of people who read my blog in the past year.

7. Growing Up in the Space Age

8. The Top Ten Rock & Roll Singers of All Time

9. Bazooka Joe, Jay Lynch & Me

One of the first posts I wrote for this blog back on January 9, 2010 celebrated my brief but soul-satisfying collaboration with the legendary underground comix artist, Jay Lynch, who gave Vic and I the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a series of Bazooka Joe comics. It was one of the great chapters in my creative career. The Practical Theatre Company, Saturday Night LiveBehind the Music, The Vic & Paul Show and Bazooka Joe. Classics all. Can I retire now?

10. History & Honeymoon: Part Four

2011 was the 150th anniversary of the commencement of the American Civil War – and the Civil War Sesquicentennial is likely the reason that two of my “History & Honeymoon” posts are still among the most-read this past year, including this one, first posted on July 26, 2010. This post covers everything from my wife Victoria and I battle tramping Pickett’s Charge on the third day of Gettysburg –to our visit to Philadelphia and the eccentric, visionary artwork of Isaiah Zagar.

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Just 4 Days Until The Funniest, Most Rocking New Year’s Party Ever!

Mr Olsen Poster 2A splendid time is guaranteed for all this New Year’s Eve in Evanston, Illinois. (Which is, of course, just 5 minutes from anywhere by rocket car!)

851575_497491816991199_391471856_nBut why party in Evanston? Why not join the throngs in Times Square, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans – or at Monty’s Steakhouse in Woodland Hills? Because the big little town north of Chicago is where you can enjoy  “Mr. Olsen’s New Year’s Rockin’ Neighborhood” at 27 Live — Evanston’s newest nightclub.27live_concerthallfinal

DSC_8401The fun begins at 8:00 PM with a one-hour comedy variety revue for the middle ages — hosted by screenwriter/comedian Dana Olsen, and featuring yours truly and my wife Victoria Zielinski of “The Vic & Paul Show”; our tall, blonde friend and fellow Practical Theatre founder, Brad Hall; the great Steve Rashid tinkling the ivories; Rockin’ Ronny Crawford hitting the rim shots on drums; and narrated by Stewart Figa, who will also grace the show with his powerful singing voice.

If you were among the standing-room-only crowd that caught “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood” at the Wilmette Theatre last June, you’ll have some idea of the fun to be had when Mr. Olsen and his neighbors get together to sing, dance and look back on the craziness of 2013 with laughter and comic camaraderie.

Rockme PhotoThen, at 10:00 PM, the kids (of all ages) will start jumpin’ when Riffmaster and The Rockme Foundation take the stage for two sets of classic rock & roll and original songs written by a bunch of guys who grew up listening to the best records ever made and played on the radio. Wit, harmony, the big backbeat — and passionate guitar playing that would make Chuck Berry proud of his children.

28127_10150190489000591_536200590_12508602_5992375_nAfter Riff and the Rockmes ring in the New Year, a DJ will keep the dance floor jumping until 2:00 AM.

It’s all happening at 27 Live, featuring a great stage, bar, whiskey lounge, and restaurant in a 14,000 square foot space that’s perfect for a New Year’s Eve crowd. 27 Live is located at 1012 Church Street, just steps away from both the CTA Purple line and Metra Davis stops.

Valet Parking is available.

sc00003a0eTickets are $25 in advance and $30 at door – with a $100 Dinner Package available (includes a 5 course dinner).

Tickets are now on sale at www.27live.com

Or get them at this link.

See you on New Year’s Eve!

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Mr. Olsen’s New Year’s Rockin’ Neighborhood!

NYE Banner 141-ogNYE Banner 2There will be no better place to be this New Year’s Eve than in Evanston, Illinois – that little college town just north of Chicago.

851575_497491816991199_391471856_nBut why party in Evanston? Why not Paris, or Rome, or the Greek island of Santorini? Why not join the throngs in Times Square – or at Monty’s Steakhouse in Woodland Hills?

Because Evanston in where you can be a part of “Mr. Olsen’s New Year’s Rockin’ Neighborhood” at 27 Live.

DSC_8401The fun begins at 8:00 PM with a one-hour comedy variety revue for the middle ages — hosted by screenwriter/comedian Dana Olsen, and featuring yours truly and my wife Victoria Zielinski of “The Vic & Paul Show”; our tall, blonde friend and fellow Practical Theatre founder, Brad Hall; the great Steve Rashid tinkling the ivories; Rockin’ Ronny Crawford hitting the rim shots on drums; and narrated by Stewart Figa, who will also grace the show with his powerful singing voice.

If you were among the standing-room-only crowd that caught “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood” at the Wilmette Theatre last June, you’ll have some idea of the fun to be had when Mr. Olsen and his neighbors get together to share some laughter and comic camaraderie.

Rockme PhotoThen, at 10:00 PM, the kids (of all ages) will start jumpin’ when Riffmaster and The Rockme Foundation take the stage for two sets of classic rock & roll and original songs written by a bunch of guys who grew up listening to the best records ever made and played on the radio. Wit, harmony, the big backbeat — and passionate guitar playing that would make Chuck Berry proud of his children.

28127_10150190489000591_536200590_12508602_5992375_nAfter Riff and the Rockmes ring in the New Year, a DJ will keep the dance floor jumping until 2:00 AM.

It’s all happening at Evanston’s newest nightclub and concert venue, 27 Live, featuring a great stage, bar, whiskey lounge, and restaurant in a 14,000 square foot space that’s perfect for a New Year’s Eve crowd. 27 Live is located at 1012 Church Street, just steps away from both the CTA Purple line and Metra Davis stops.

27live_concerthallfinalValet Parking is available.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at door – with a $100 Dinner Package available (includes a 5 course dinner).

Tickets are now on sale at www.27live.com

Or you can get them at this link.

See you in Evanston on New Year’s Eve!Mr Olsen Poster 2sc00003a0e

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