Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Tuesday, October 3

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« End Days at Windy City Playhouse: It's Only Rain, Not the Rapture The Longest Ride, Desert Dancer, The Tales of Hoffmann & Marfa Girl »

Theater Thu Apr 09 2015

The Upstairs Concierge at the Goodman: It's a Farce, But the Witty Part Is Missing

Photo by Liz Lauren.

Todd Rosenthal's set design for The Hotelman Arms hotel in The Upstairs Concierge is handsome, done in Prairie Style with Frank Lloyd Wright-type stained glass window panels, faux oak staircases, moldings, cabinetry and doors. Even the typography of the "Your New Family Home" motto signage is an arts and crafts font.

The multiple doors and staircases are clues that this is not going to be a drama that would have attracted Frank Lloyd Wright, however. They're signs of a farce to come, as we learned from those witty French farces by Georges Feydeau.

Unfortunately, Goodman Theatre's new world premiere of Kristoffer Diaz's The Upstairs Concierge is not a witty French farce. Its celebrity- and baseball-driven plotline doesn't work as a contemporary comic romp. The plot is a mish-mash and the dialogue is flat and rarely funny.

Diaz, known for his award-winning The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (produced in 2009 at Victory Gardens Theater), says he was inspired by working at a boutique luxury hotel that catered to celebrities. He decided that writing a spoof on our celebrity culture and setting it in a small, confined space would allow for ridiculous physical comedy. Since the play was developed over several years of workshopping and productions, it's hard to understand why no one noticed that something was amiss with the material itself.

The theme involves the arrival of an ace female baseball player (Alejandra Escalante as Rebecca Oaxaca) at the hotel, where she is chased by representatives of major league baseball teams who want to hire the first female MLB player. (For some reason, the playwright identifies her as a bunter, but that would not be good baseball strategy for reasons that I'm not going to go into in a theater review.)

Other celebrity guests are BB, a blogger (energetically played by Jose Antonio Garcia), and Shivery Delicious, a well-known novelist (Sandra Delgado). Starring as Ella Elizondo, the upstairs concierge who aims to please, is Tawny Newsome. The rest of the cast is hotel employees and baseball team reps.

The 10 cast members give it their all and director K.J. Sanchez, along with a movement consultant (Chuck Coyl) and a movement captain (cast member Gabriel Ruiz) choreograph the madness effectively. The timing and agility of every cast member is notable.

The opening night audience found a number of lines and pratfalls to laugh at, so some prospective audience members may find this 80-minute comedy just the ticket for chasing the gloom away or topping off a harried workday. I thought it was one lost night of my life.

Goodman Theatre stages The Upstairs Concierge through April 26 in the Owen Theatre, its smaller studio space, at 170 N. Dearborn. Performances are at varying times Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are $10-40 and can be bought online, by calling 312-443-3800 or by visiting the box office between 12 noon and 5pm (until curtain time on performance days).

GB store
GB store

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

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15