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The Q Brothers’ ‘Funk’ Returns to Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announced a couple of additions to its 2010-11 World’s Stage series this morning, one of which is National Theatre of Scotland’s critically-acclaimed Black Watch. But, it’s the much frothier Funk It Up About Nothin’, a hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, we’re especially interested in today…

The cast of Funk It Up About Nothin'
The 2008 cast: (from left) DJ Adrienne Sanchez, Elizabeth Ledo, Ericka Ratcliff, GQ, Postell Pringle, Jackson Doran, and JQ.

 

Funk, yeah.

THEATRE Chicago Shakespeare Theater announced a couple of additions to its 2010-11 World’s Stage series this morning, one of which is National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch, a play the New York Times called “one of the most richly human works of art to have emerged from [the war in Iraq].” Not bad—but while we’re looking forward to Watch, it’s the much frothier Funk It Up About Nothin’, a hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, we’re especially interested in today.

Not to toot our own horn—OK, maybe a just beep—but a couple of months back, in this very blog, we posted some thoughts on American Theater Company’s production of Welcome to Arroyo’s, which featured the actor GQ among its ensemble cast. GQ, a.k.a. Gregory Qaiyum, constitutes exactly one half of the Chicago-born producing-and-playwrighting Q Brothers, the duo responsible for Funk, which premiered at CST back in the fall of 2008. Arroyo’s left us longing for a return of Funk, so much so that we politely requested a restaging of the show. ATC—which, to be fair, already had its 2010-11 season in place—didn’t bite, but CST did.

At least that’s what we’d like to think. According to CST’s executive director, Criss Henderson, the restaging has been in the works for a while. “[Funk] is one of those pieces that’s lived on in a lot of people’s imaginations,” he told us this morning. “To bring this show back to Chicago was a no-brainer. Like so much of Shakespeare’s work, it’s timeless.”

The play—which nabbed a Jeff Award for Outstanding Ensemble and the Dress Circle Award for Best Musical Production at Edinburgh Festival Fringe—will return to CST in mid-January 2011, dates TBD, before embarking on a tour of Australia. So far, only the Q Brothers are confirmed to reprise their original roles, but since it worked so well last time, we’ll put in another request: to see Ericka Ratcliff, the spitfire actor and one of our 2009 most eligible singles, back onstage.

Henderson does say GJ and JQ are working on a new commission for CST, tentatively titled MADsummer Night’s Dream, that is slated to premiere within the next 18 months or so. And we didn’t even have to ask.

Bonus: Watch the Q Brothers’ and their frequent collaborator Jackson Doran’s ode—of sorts—to the Blackhawks.
 

Photograph: Michael Brosilow

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