A Chicago Story
Volume 3 Book 8 Part 9 of
Living in the Bonus Round

Steve Schalchlin, Neda Spears, Alexandra Billings,
Jon Lambert, Jim Meade on the stage.

[ Book 3-7 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]

March 24, 2004.
Chicago TLS Reading.
What a night! The house was full. The cast was ready. And TLS, the little engine that could, managed to totally knock 'em dead once again. And this was with only one rehearsal and with everyone just sitting on stools reading from the script! People in the audience were literally shouting back at us during the play when the characters were trading barbs.

A couple of highlights:

Neda Spears riffing at the end of "Preacher And The Nurse." We were all "I am the preacher. I am the nurse, ect." and she just ... well, it was church. It made me wish we had had a few rehearsals. Her voice is really strong and her riffing was totally spontaneous. How I'd love to see her in an extended run where we could take advantage of her chops.

Alexandra tore "Somebody's Friend" to pieces, by the way. It's no wonder she's a star here in Chicago. Her intensity is amazing. She all but bled from her fingers.

Sidenote: I forgot to mention that the fliers for TLS-Chicago all had this as the billing:

The Last Session featuring Alexandra Billings.

And now I understand why. She's truly an awesome performer. Some of her line readings had me in hysterics. During the "Three way? Two way?" scene, she got to two way... Someone in the front row said, "One way." And she just responded, "Hello."

We also had a loud, "Ooooo," from the house when I approached Jon (Buddy) with the Bible and he said, "You just stay over there."

John Sparks said later that he thinks The Last Session would run forever in Chicago and he's determined to get a production up. He keeps saying, "It's a shame that there has never been a Chicago production. I knew the people in this town would go CRAZY for this. And they did! Tonight proves it!"

Afterwards in the lobby, I remember at least one guy specifically who came up to me with tears in his eyes who just said, "Can I please hug you?"

I put my arms around him, of course. He said, "Did you really write all those songs?"

"Yes," I said, "with help from my friends Marie Cain and John Bettis, but yeah, I wrote the songs."

He just stood there shaking his head, tears in his eyes. Then he simply said, "Thank you. I really needed that."

These are the moments I live for, my friend. Knowing that somehow, on some profound level, someone heard something this night that he truly needed to hear.

And he wasn't the only one. When I told the people lined up to congratulate us that we had had only one rehearsal, they were totally shocked. "But it sounded like you had all been together forever!" was their reaction. I just said, "Honey, there's a lot of talent in this city." And I'm just now meeting that talent.

Neda, Alexandra & Jon.

Steve, Neda & Alexandra.

Steve sings. Jim Meade reads.

Jon and Steve talk to people at the after-show reception.

John Sparks, artistic director.

Steve poses with cyberpals Joe Beason and Dan Nash.
(We've chatted for several years. This was our first time to meet face to face.)

Steve and Jim pose with Janice Igra and her friend.

Jon Lambert, Neda Spears, Jim Brochu, Jim Meade.

So, who knows what will happen? I would love to see a good production of TLS in Chicago. Now we just need some theatre or producer willing to take the risk.
[ Book 3-7 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]

© 1996-2004 by Steve Schalchlin.
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