A Dancing Sandwich with a Powerful Message

Sheri is a baser, which is arguably the most important job when in the sandwich-making business – she is the person that introduces the sandwich to a customer. Sheri got cold sleeping in her car one night, so she decided to sleep at the sandwich shop so she wouldn’t have to move much to get to work the next morning. Sheri “woke up” to a talking sandwich that was “eating her fears,” and that is when Sheri saw life in a completely different light.

“American Hero,” a play about the opening of a sandwich shop and how four uniquely crazy characters keep it alive and running, made its debut at the Den Theater in Wicker Park and it was, quite literally, about sandwiches. However, what made this play so intriguing was the subtext of the script – what we weren’t being told but should have caught on to. This play was targeted towards the millennial generation that don’t pay attention to what is happening in the world and need to open their eyes. “This play is so wacky, a great break from reality where we can actually laugh about how badly humans treat each other,” says Lacy Yonkers, a twenty-something audience member that was at the show.

“American Hero is a show that you really have to pay attention to to catch the underlying messages,” says Brian McKnight, an actor in the show that plays four different people. “It may seem like a show about sandwiches, but it’s much more complex.” When the sandwich in Sheri’s dream is telling her that he’s eating her fear, he is basically saying that she should never give up on her dream. The play had underlying themes of respect, independence, privilege, fear, hope… The list goes on.

I caught myself in an eye-opening experience watching the show. The four characters were so different and at first I started to judge their actions, like when one of them looked like they had a rough night of partying and kept chewing her gum obnoxiously. Then, once I found out more about their stories, I realized I needed to stop judging people before I got to know them.

Lacy recalls after the show, “I never thought a sandwich would make me laugh, but here I am, laughing at a sandwich. I mean, when they started dancing together, I died.” “American Hero” is playing in Stage B, a theater with seating for a maximum of about 48 people. The set is small and in the center of the seating, with no barrier between the audience and the actors.

For more information and tickets, click here.

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La Havana Madrid Stealing the Hearts of Chicago

The revival of a popular 1960’s nightclub in the Lakeview neighborhood, La Havana Madrid, has shook the Chicago Theater community with positive reviews. This story, written by the overnight superstar Sandra Delgado, follows a Caribbean nightclub where Latino’s would gather after arriving in Chicago. From the words of actor Ian Rigg, it is a show made to “celebrate and remember.”

With a live band on stage, the audience catches themselves thinking that they are actually inside of a nightclub where love and music are synonymous. Being a borderline monologue play, you hear many stories of Latino’s coming from around the world searching for a better life. The talent in the show are so refreshingly believable with everything they do, which sucks you into the show from the very start.

Sandra Delgado is a well-known name in the Chicago community now and has basically become a celebrity overnight. The Chicago Park District announced that this playwright will be featured in Theater on the Lake’s new play commission. Readings of her dark comedy, “Felons and Familias,” will be read in many neighborhood’s around Chicago, where “park patrons” can give their reviews. Just like La Havana Madrid, “Delgado has constructed a compelling compendium of tales, expertly woven together. She hasn’t exhumed stories long buried; she’s resurrected them.”

 

Martha Lavey, Chicago Theater Celebrity, Dies at 60

The Chicago Theater scene has been shot with the tragic news of the death of a Chicago theater legend, Martha Lavey. She died in hospice at Illinois Masonic Hospital after suffering her second major stroke. She was an actress and the Artistic Director at Steppenwolf Theater for 20 years and became an icon in Chicago.

Hedy Weiss, writer for the Chicago Sun Times, stated that she saw Lavey perform for the first time in 1987 in the play, “Aunt Dan and Lemon.” She stated that “The exquisitely beautiful Lavey, with her flawless, hypnotic diction and dreamy grace, captures the girl’s ghostly quality — turning her into a kind of cracked porcelain doll.”

Steppenwolf released a statement in memory of Lavey, explaining that services will be held in Virginia where her family is, but the Chicago Theater community will hold a memorial service at Steppenwolf, with times and a date TBD.

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Jamie Massimilian

Jamie Massimilian, who has been coached by Martha Lavey, explains the emptiness she feels now that Lavey is gone. “She had such a great heart and really looked out for the younger Chicago actors to give them a guide to success in the industry. She was such an amazing actress and had such passion for every performance. She will be missed.”

Martha Lavey is the first to leave the Steppenwolf ensemble through death. She will never be forgotten. We will miss you, Martha.