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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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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!

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Just Two Months until the Big New Year’s Party Bubbles Up!

Poster 2017 NYE #6Tickets are now on sale for The Practical Theatre Company and Studio5’s holiday comedy and music revue, Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration.

Last year’s show was sold out — so, don’t delay, comedy lovers! Reserve your seats now for an evening of grown-up comedy, adult beverages, live music, dynamite dancers, the bubbly — and a bubble machine.

Join us as we ring in the New Year once again at Studio5 in Evanston, Illinois just north of Chicago.

Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration is a musical comedy revue lovingly and hilariously styled after The Lawrence Welk Show, filled with laughter, satire and song — featuring veteran improvisational comedy writer-performers Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen.

CastJoining the cast are the PTC’s musical director, Steve Rashid, songbird Eva B. Ross, cabaret chanteuse Shelly Goldstein, stand-up comedienne Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid and percussionist Robert Rashid.

The music will be better than ever — and that’s saying a lot! Steve Rashid leads 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 play.

All this — and The Mr. Olsen Dancers!

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

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The New Year’s Eve show will be followed by a rocking, swinging party! Enjoy live music and dancing, as we invite you all to toast the New Year with the cast! (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.

See you there!

 

 

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Big Holiday Fun in Chicago (Evanston) is just 3 Months Away…

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 11.32.49 PMDocument3 jpegAnyone who attended last year’s sold-out production of “Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party”, produced by The Practical Theatre Company at Studio5 in Evanston, won’t want to miss “Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration”.

VPD New 2“Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration” is a brand new show – with lots of new songs, sketches, and some classic PTC material that hasn’t been seen in Chicago for years. Plus, the band is bigger and better than ever!

Those folks who weren’t able to get a ticket for last year’s show will be happy to know that, this year, there are three performances rather than two. Tickets will go on sale soon. Watch this space.

2017 has been a crazy year. Damn crazy.

“Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration” is the best way to kiss 2017 goodbye!

 

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Just One Week Until the Party Starts!

new-show-art-2In just one week, The Practical Theatre Company will be saying goodbye to 2016 and ringing in the New Year with comedy and song – and your favorite adult beverages.

nye-art-a-copyTickets are going fast for Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party on December 30 and 31 at Evanston’s new Studio5 (Dempster & Dodge). There aren’t many tickets left for the New Year’s Eve performance, but you can still reserve seats by clicking here.

PTC vets Paul Barrosse, Victoria Zielinski and Dana Olsen will perform comedy sketches and songs from “The Vic & Paul & Dana Show”, as well as new material crafted for this special variety revue – styled after those classic holiday specials hosted by Andy Williams, Bing and Dean.

Music director and keyboard wiz Steve Rashid will lead a quartet featuring drummer Rockin’ Ronny Crawford, Don Stiernberg on guitar and mandolin, and bassist Jim Cox.

Members of the PTC’s second generation will also perform, including standup comedienne Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Breaks’ Daniel Rashid, singer-songwriter Eva B. Ross and drummer Robert Rashid.

Studio5 features full bar service – and acres of free parking.

The New Year’s Eve performance includes light food and a New Year’s party with live music and dancing after the show.mohp-banner-1-copy

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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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