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  Burning Bluebeard at Theater Wit

Burning Bluebeard

Theater Wit
1229 W Belmont Ave Chicago

Inspired by the true story of Chicago's 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire, BURNING BLUEBEARD is the story of six singed clown performers who emerge from the burnt remains of history attempting to perform their spectacular Christmas Pantomime once and for all. But this time they hope to finally reach the true happy ending of their second act and avoid the fateful fire that killed 600 of its audience members. BURNING BLUEBEARD is a whimsical romp with a sensitive heart, a joyful eulogy with a sharp irreverent wit including slapstick, vignettes, tumbling and dance. Each night is a vaudevillian delight with a story that excavates the poetic and poignant remains of a piece of Chicago's rich history.

Presented by The Ruffians

Thru - Jan 5, 2014

Price: $25-$36

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 773-975-8150

Running Time: 1hr, 40mins

  Burning Bluebeard Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...But the performances here really are exceptional, and the entire show is gripping in its originality, intensity and boundary-crossing audacity. And although Keys and her actors are invested in the style of the piece, and its tawdriness, there is enough truth and compassion here that, by the end of the 100 minutes, it felt like a searingly honest treatment of how tragedies echo across time, fading away until they are brought back to life in another theater. With fire doors."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...The transfixing magic of "Burning Bluebeard" (aided and abetted by the ingenious work of designers Dan Broberg, Lizzie Bracken and Mike Tutaj) is that rather than being a straightforward documentary of a tragic event, it is a profound and very modern meditation on pleasure and pain, good intentions and catastrophic outcomes, beauty and corruption (the structural and fire code deficiencies of the theater are clearly exposed)."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Like Mr. Bluebeard itself, Burning Bluebeard is a delightful fantasia on an ugly crime. Unlike Mr. Bluebeard, it takes that crime and makes something profound of it. I'm sorry to think I missed this show in its first incarnation, at the Neo-Futurarium, in 2011. Please don't you make that mistake this time around."
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Tony Adler

Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"...Back for the third year in a row, “Burning Bluebeard” once again mixes history, clowning and classical pantomime into a raw, combustible evening. People wanting to forget life’s tragedies and go see a nice cheery holiday show should probably not attend. Everyone else should buy tickets immediately."

Alex Huntsberger

Gapers Block - Highly Recommended

"...Overall, Burning Bluebeard is highly successful at both telling a true tragic tale and infusing the story of the retelling with the magic of the holidays. I don't want to reveal too much here, but I will highly recommend the show for an off-the-beaten-path holiday treat."
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Jeanne Newman

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The gracefully gangly Molly Plunk, as a mutely benevolent Faerie Queen, and the brilliantly droll Dean Evans as a clown with a taste for chaos serve as a kind of onstage yin and yang. Yet it's Kays's hand that guides the sleigh, so to speak: setting up our expectations with a bombastically cheeky opening number, for instance, only to subvert them entirely by the heartrending climax. And the new stage at Theater Wit allows Kays and crew to achieve a technical polish—and at least one truly joyous coup de theatre—that the Neo-Futurarium didn't permit. Bluebeard honors a theater's catastrophe by celebrating theatrical possibility."
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Kris Vire

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...But Burning Bluebeard pushes beyond its title: The sextet is granted a happy rather than hideous ending, with the serial killer Bluebeard properly disposed of (as the children on December 30, 1903 never got to see). For one more night The Ruffians’ art has triumphed over the Iroquois Theatre’s senseless slaughter. The purgation works: In perhaps their finest offering ever, The Ruffians deliver a Christmas present for all Chicagoans."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...This is a marvelous theatrical event. It combines theatricality with historical storytelling. It demonstrates who a tragic event can haunt the survivors. The brilliance of the acting and the creativity of playwright Jay Torrance and the spectacular staging by director Halena Kays makes Burning Bluebeard a landmark event! I can't thing of s more impressive show currently running here. Best get your tickets soon because many of the performances are sold out. We can hope this show gets legs."
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Tom Williams

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...It is a show filled with slapstick, music, vaudevillian moments and some wonderful tumbling as well as dance. The type of theater that was produced during these days, known as “pantomime” was very vaudeville, in that the actors spoke directly to the audience ( the fourth wall did not exist) and where they could, they allowed the audience to participate- thus, it is no surprise to see the Ruffians do likewise. Like “500 Clowns”,Barrel Of Minkeys, and Neo-Futurism Bouffant, The Ruffians are true risk-takers in their performance arts and each and every performer brings the heart and soul of this historical tale to life during the 100 minutes on stage."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Burning Blue Beard is a play about a play….about a play. The show presents an absurdist retelling of how the Iroquois Theatre burned down in Chicago in 1903 during a showing of Mr. Bluebeard, a Christmas Pantomime. Much of the detail from the play is straight from history as the true events provide plenty of emotional fuel to motivate the characters on stage. The players and ghosts from that terrible night in 1903 on Randolph Street can’t help but keep trying to get it right, but every time the show seems to end in flames. Perhaps during the performance you see of Burning Blue Beard the ending will be a happy one. Hope is a big part of this tale."
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Clare Kosinski

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