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Tuesday, March 5

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Theater Tue Apr 10 2012

Step Up Productions' The Sweetest Swing In Baseball

In The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, the latest work by Chicago-based playwright Rebecca Gilman and directed by Audrey Francis, life can be full of strikes and curveballs; read on as Elizabeth Antonucci, artistic director for Step Up Productions, talks about the play, its message and how she hopes to hit a home run as a rookie in the Chicago theater scene.


Cast: The Sweetest Swing in Baseball. Photo: Rich Hein

You've stated that you are "committed to bringing truthful, powerful, and relevant theater to Chicago"--relevant in what way(s)?

"Relevant" in meaning that there's so much going on in the world and in everybody's lives--everybody feels hurt, mistrust and all these different emotions. I feel like there are so many great theatrical scripts out there that speak to this time in our lives and who we are in society and bringing those to light is what we're really interested in doing. I think that's what's important to us as a theater company--evoking that emotion out of people and really having them come along on the ride with us. That's something I've always wanted to do so I figured through this company is the best way to do it.

Is that why you chose The Sweetest Swing in Baseball to open the season?

Yes. The Sweetest Swing in Baseball was kind of a no-brainer for our first production; it speaks on so many levels about trust, mistrust and success and what that really means. It also speaks to what makes you successful and why and how you deal with that success. After reading the script, I kind of felt connected to every single one of these characters and that was when I knew I had found my first production.

This play deals with several issues: fear, fear of failure, mental illness--and even the sociology of sports. Talk about these issues and how you think they might resonate with audiences.

We have found some great responses from audiences and reviewers who have absolutely loved our show. I think what is so great about it and why audiences have loved it so much is that there's an element of relatability--that they can see themselves in every one of these characters. One of the other great things about it is that it does leave some room for audiences to make their final decision which I think is kind of nice because they're left to their own interpretation and it fits where their lives fit at the moment--it doesn't exactly tell you one answer. Now I know some people do not like that in theater, but we've had some great responses from people who really do love that.

The play has been running now for two weeks, how has it been going so far? What has the reaction been like?

I am so thankful for the Chicago theater community to embrace such a new, young company; it allows us to try ourselves out on such a great stage like Chicago where there's [already] so much great theater and so many other great companies out there. It's been so nice and welcoming and I feel so warm and accepted here. I'm so happy to be able to express myself and let our company do what we want to do and carry out our mission in such a great community like Chicago.

What message(s) do you want the audience to take away from this play?

There's so many in the show but for me, the big one right now is that you kind of make your own success; success to somebody might not be the same as it is to you, so whatever you feel success is and whatever you feel is successful for you, go with it. We have gotten some "not-so-great" reviews but we've [also] gotten a ton of great reviews. I think what I'm dealing with and what I'm taking away from this show and what's really helped me is that success is measured by what I feel it is and not all the time what other people say it is. That's one of the main messages I hope everybody can take away from the show.

What else can the Chicago theater community expect from Step Up Productions?

We have gotten that question many times. We have been so busy with this show and getting this one up that I haven't really thought about the next one yet; however I am in the process of reading scripts and hopefully, within the next couple of months, we'll be announcing our next show. We're hoping to develop a full season, next year or the year after, with 2 or 3 shows, and we will continue as long as the Chicago theater community will have us here. That's my goal and that's my next step.

The Sweetest Swing in Baseball runs through Sunday, Apr. 22 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; show times are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $25.50-$32.50; for more information, call 773-935-6875.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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