Revels take on 1893

By Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul
Assistant to the Editor

The longstanding Quadrangle Club Revels return this year Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Quadrangle Club, 1155 E. 57th St., at 8 p.m. with “The Impossible City,” a comedic play recognizing the legacy of Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition.

The group first performed at the Quadrangle Club in 1904, and this year marks the 120th anniversary of the 1893 fair. Co-produced by U. of C. alum Lorraine Brochu and Hyde Parker Andy Austin-Cohen, the script’s writer, it features original music by composer Julian Harvey and acting by Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25), award-winning author Sarah Paretsky and a host of U. of C. faculty, including Austin-Cohen’s husband, philosophy professor Ted Cohen.
Plays in years past have included appearances by U. of C. presidents Robert Zimmer and Hannah Gray and have referenced local haunts such as the Smart Museum, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.

“I think the great thing about [Revels] is the mixture of community people who act every year,” said Austin-Cohen, who has written the play’s scripts since 2005 except for one.

Though the play’s director, Bradley Baker, was hired, Austin-Cohen says almost everyone has been involved with it in an amateur capacity, including herself.

This year’s play includes as characters architect Daniel Burnham, union organizer Eugene V. Debs, performer Buffalo Bill and Bertha Palmer, a leading female organizer of the fair; it also incorporates a storyline about downstate Illinoisians kidnapped on their way to visit the fair.

“It’s a bit complicated, but … it ends happily for everybody,” Austin-Cohen noted.

This year’s production represents co-producer Lorraine Brochu’s fifth year with the “Revels” and second year producing the program. She has acted as a baboon and giant turtle in previous plays.

“I always love working with the cast … you have the professors, you have the lawyers, you have the doctors, and there they are having funny lines and sometimes making it up themselves,” Brochu said.

Tickets cost $30 for the general public, and $10 for students. A 6 p.m. meal at the Quadrangle Club may also be purchased for an additional $30 on Friday and $40 on Saturday. To buy tickets and make the reservations required to attend, call the club at 773-702-2550.

j.bishku@hpherald.com