Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Public House Theatre bringing innovative works to Chicago theatre scene


Chicago's The Public House Theatre continues to bring an innovative twist to the theatre scene. 

The theatre's current production, "Dead Broads Yapping," is no exception. Broadcasting from beyond the grave, co-hosts Amelia Earheart, Jackie Kennedy and Joan of Arc examine news and trends of today, from twerking to twitter and beyond, with special guests including Henry VIII, Mark Twain, Mary Todd Lincoln and Rasputin. 

Stacey Smith, who recently was named one of Chicago’s top nine improvisers, directs the ensemble, which includes writers/Dead Broads Courtney Crary, Marie Maloney and Caroline Nash, who perform regularly at Studio BE with the musical improv group, MINt, and separately around the city. 

"Dead Broads Yapping" will be presented Feb. 6 to Feb. 27 at The Public House Theatre, 3914 N. Clark St. (at Byron Street), Chicago. 

Shows are at 8 p.m. every Thursday through the month of February. Tickets are $10, available by calling 1-800-650-6449, or at 

I had the chance to talk to Smith and Maloney, who helped conceive and write "Dead Broads Yapping," about the show.

Stacey Smith 

Q - Great to talk to you. What was your goal in creating "Dead Broads Yapping" and what do you hope the audience gets out of the show? 

Stacey - The girls had come to me after they had an idea of what type of show they wanted to put up. Our goal is to do something different than your average sketch show.

It's more of an interactive talk show. It's silly and playful and it involves a lot of different improvisers /performers in the community.

Q - Last year, you were named one of the nine major players in Chicago comedy to watch out for in 2013. What have you tried to do with your comedy and what do you see as your contributions to the Chicago comedy scene? 

I always strive to choose projects that I'm passionate about. Whether it's the people involved, the material that rings true or something I'm afraid of and want to try.

I put up material that I love in hopes that others will see the joy it brings me in my performance. As far as contributions go, I'd like to think I'm a big advocate of my peers. 

There's so many talented people in this community and I want them all to succeed. In addition to creating my career path, I always strive to support friends and heroes in their comedic endeavors.

I think that's the most important thing you can contribute in this type of group-oriented art.  

Marie Maloney 

Q - What was your goal in creating "Dead Broads Yapping" and what do you hope the audience gets out of the show? 

Our goal was really just to create a fun show about historical people and topics that we love, and to portray these figures in a smart, comedic way. The three of us (me along with Courtney Crary playing Joan of Arc and Caroline Nash playing Amelia Earhart) are big history buffs and we all love reading up about influential women in history.

Ever since I was a little kid I've been obsessed with Jackie O, and once we started talking about playing historical figures, "The View" style format just kind of came naturally.  We hope that the audience has some laughs and also enjoys our take on these women, while also remembering some fun historical facts they may have forgotten since grade school social studies class. 

Q - I understand that each week will feature a different theme and different historical guest stars. How did you go about picking the themes and guest stars? 

We decided early on that we wanted each week's show to have a theme.  We wanted the themes to be timeless and relatable, so we eventually settled on Innovation, Sex, Power, and Gurls.

As we were brainstorming historical figures we wanted as guest stars, we realized the guests were just naturally falling into the categories we chose, so we organized the show from there.   

Q - How did you go about choosing the cast and what do you think they bring to their roles? 

We're lucky enough to be a part of such an amazing comedy community here in Chicago and we have wonderfully talented friends, so we basically brainstormed historical guests we wanted then thought of other talented performers we already knew to fill those rolls. 

We chose them because we know each person as a performer and imagining them each as their character made us actually laugh out loud, so we knew the result of them really playing their historical figure would be such a blast to watch.

We think they'll also bring a unique spin on the character they play. Our guests are: Keenan Camp, playing Teddy Roosevelt each week; Eli Whitney (Ben Larrison); Mark Twain (Chelsea Norment); FDR & Eleanor Roosevelt (Jenna Steege and Rob Speer); Rasputin (Alex Manich); JFK (Mike Schminke); Henry VIII (Charles Petitt); Cleopatra (Ali Barthwell); Jesus (James Dugan); Mary Todd Lincoln (Julie Marchiano); andThe Unsinkable Molly Brown (Maggie Goodman).