Back in the 1930's, if it was a Friday night you were sipping on a Side Car while putting on your red lipstick (your best beaded dress hanging on your closet door) chances were you were headed out to a rent party. When times were tough and people were falling behind on bills, they would stock their apartments full of whiskey and jazz, and, with hat in hand, ask guests for a little help with rent that month. Well, Walkabout Theater Company had just the same idea in mind.
A Chicago theater company, Walkabout Theater throws an opulent rent party each year to help with funding, going all out to throw their guests back into another era. This year's theme was a steamy hothouse, with fringed paper vines snaking up doorways, a sultry fog winding around your stockinged legs at the entrance, and giant crepe flowers turning the loft into an exotic cabaret. Everyone was decked out in beads and feathers, leaving vampy lip stains on their martini glasses as they weaved from room to room. There were tarot card readers, gourmet ice cream stations, hand-drawn portrait booths, and- my favorite part- live performances from the ensemble themselves.
I say that's my favorite part because the way they performed was electric. Sticking to the theme, they sang pieces that made you feel like you were tucked away in a dark speakeasy, sipping on a cocktail of bootlegged gin. Their original works were dreamy and emotional, and their covers (Fever by Peggy Lee, anyone?) were bewitching.
Seriously, Chicago kids, we're all going next year. Start hunting for your vintage.
And if you want to see them perform (because I most certainly am- seriously, I think I've grown an obsession with the group) their next show will be in June 2015, entitled Storm. A fierce re-imagining of Shakespeare's The Tempest, it's a "seething and sensuous examination of isolation, control, and the clash between human willpower and the forces on nature."
If anyone wants to go, e-mail me! We'll make a date out of it :)