Showing posts with label Rhinofest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rhinofest. Show all posts

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Pay What You Can: Rhinoceros Theater Festival April 1 – May 7, 2022 at Jimmy Beans Coffee & Pride Arts Center

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Fest Alert 

The Curious Theatre Branch, in association with Pride Arts Center and Jimmy Beans Cabaret, Prop Thtr and Labyrinth Arts, is pleased to present A Hint of Rhino: Rhinoceros Theater Festival 2022, playing April 1 – May 7, 2022. Shows will run Thursdays – Sundays at Jimmy Beans Coffee (2553 W. Fullerton Ave, second floor) in Logan Square and the Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center (4139 N Broadway Ave) in Uptown.

Curious and friends present a pared-down, curated series of events including music, spoken word, new plays, drag and variety events. Programming on Sunday, May 1 at Pride Arts Center will include a special celebration of Matt Rieger, longtime Managing Director for Curious, who died suddenly in October 2021, and whose final play, Jimmy and the Nickels, will run Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings at Pride Arts. Rhino Fest returns this year following a hiatus in 2021, in which festival producers awaited the return of safer gatherings in public spaces rather than shifting to a virtual format. This Rhino Fest represents the result of invitation and collaboration among small groups of Chicago artists, making inquisitive and expansive events for the current moment.

Tickets to all events are $20 or pay-what-you-can. 

Proof of vaccination will be required at the door, and audience members and crew will remain masked inside venues. Cash and credit cards accepted at the door. Tickets are currently available through Eventbrite. Further additional information and updates, visit


The full Rhino Fest 2022 line-up includes:

 A Hint of a Rhino Party

Saturday March 26 at 7 pm, Broadway Theater at Pride Arts

An opening night party to mosey back to Rhino. An evening of food and drinks, presentations, some previews of shows to come, a film or two, some jokes and lots and lots of mingling.  


John & Paul: Strictly Platonic

Fridays at 8 pm, April 1 – 29, Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center

Chicago sketch comedy veterans John Klingle and Paul Brennan bring their anarchic humor back to the stage in a raucous celebration of dysfunctional friendship. Watch John and Paul juggle the roles of emasculated fathers, naive prison guards and problematic method actors, all while struggling to keep their corporate sponsorships. Special guests include drag artist Tara Bitchup, songstress Zoë Pike\ and stand-up comic Katie Zane.


New Speculative Fiction

Friday, April 1 at 7 pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

Sharon Houk, Andy Sullivan, and Tanner Vaughan Halversen read new work.


Labyrinth Hour Cabaret

Saturdays at 8 pm, April 2 – 30, Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center

A musical and variety adventure featuring bands, musical guests and variety acts.

April 2 & 23: The Improper Behavior Jump Blues Band featuring Miss Sharon and Keith Fort.

April 9 & 16: Drag Show with Narcisca and Slussy Vanity. Further guest artists to be announced. Produced and directed by Diane Hamm with Labyrinth Arts and Performance Collective.


The Chicago Beast Women

Saturdays at 10 pm, April 2 – 30, Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center

Chicago’s longest-running showcase for veteran and premiering female artists comes to Pride!  An inspiring line-up of solo and collaborative artists showcasing new and urgent work. Jillian Erickson, Michelle Power, Cristina McCrystal, Alley Cat and many, many more beloved Chicago performers.


Vernon Tonges

Saturday, April 2 at 7 pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

Known to many as Spoo Willoughby, Vernon Tonges is a low-profile performing songwriter and singer known for his crippling introversion and disastrous inability to adequately self-promote. Many of his shows occur unannounced in random parking lots where his audience mainly consists of drivers idling in the drive-through line awaiting takeout chicken. Surplus thigh meat comprises his chief compensation. The world remains a tough nut to crack.


The Crooked Mouth and Special Guests

Saturday, April 2 at 9 pm and Saturday, May 7 at 9 pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

A Chicago-based music group including Jenny Magnus, Beau O'Reilly, T-Roy Martin, Vicki Walden and Heather Riordan with ample harmonies and lyrics to sink one's teeth into. Rock/pop/alt-country/vaudeville, if you must have a genre.

April 2: Special guest Izzy Yellen. "Izzy yellin'? No, he's making ambient folk."

May 7: Special guests Michael Amandes and Mac Modean


Writers Aloud

Sunday, April 3 at 3 pm, Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center

For over three years, from in-person to online and now both live and streaming – this unassuming monthly forum organized by Donna Dunlap, Karen Fort and Cordis Heard for those who write and have seldom if ever spoken their own written words – a core Prop Thtr tradition. Two hours with three to five readers.


Jimmy and the Nickels

Sundays: April 3 at 5 pm, April 24 & May 1 at 3 pm. Note: the May 1 show will be followed by a celebration of Matt Rieger, Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center

Thursdays: April 7, 14, 21, 28 at 8 pm, Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center

A follow up to 2020’s lauded My Dinner with Joe, this chamber comedy, the last work of the beloved and abruptly departed Curious playwright and Managing Director Matt Rieger, features Mike McKune, Don Schroeder, Nick Leininger and Paul Brennan, and is directed by Stefan Brün with Charlotte Lastra.



Friday, April 8 & 22, Saturday April 9 & 23 at 7pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

A new monologue from Chicago poet and fringe theater mainstay Barrie Cole.


Cafe Neckbeard To Go

Fridays: April 8, 15, 22, 29 and May 6 at 9 pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

Saturdays: April 9, 16, 23, 30 at 9 pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

PR Representative and Procurement Specialist Chris Bower will theatrically update the world on the ongoing saga of the most experimental and explosive and explosively experimental cash-only fine dining celiac-intolerant temporarily to-go cafe in The Historic Logan Square Neighborhood (THLSN): Chef Anton "*" Anis's Cafe Neckbeard! Featuring Chris Bower and Steak Richardson.


The Problem With Flowers

Sundays: April 10, 17, 24 at 5 pm, Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center

Thursdays: April 14, 21, 28 at 7 pm, Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center

Roberto Del Rio’s solo work playfully examines the loves and miseries, the delights and betrayals in an emotional day off. From dawn until dusk we’ll hear those struggles, triumphs, fears and desires that only manifest when we’re by ourselves.


Deconstructing Desolation Row

Friday, April 15 and Saturday, April 16 at 7 pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

Four writers respond to Bob Dylan's 1965 ballad from Highway 61 Revisited in song and lecture. Performances by Jayita Bhattacharya, Frank Bonacci, Michaela Chan and Bill Ferguson.


Time in a Teacup

Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30 at 7 pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

New work by Jay Sebastian. Musings on time, memory, and baloney sandwiches through stories, original songs and 8mm movies.


The Anchovy's Song, The Pelican's Apocalypse

Friday, May 6 at 7 pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

Jeff "Hollywood" Dorchen weaves together songs, obvious lies (elaborate and simple) and poems.


Sheila Donohue and Friends

Saturday, May 7 at 7 pm, Jimmy Beans Coffee

Performance poet and four-time National Poetry Slam Champion Sheila Donohue returns to Rhino Fest for an evening of new and archival work, with special guests.

Venue Note: Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center is a first-floor space and is wheelchair accessible, with two accessible bathrooms. Jimmy Beans Cabaret is up one flight of stairs and is not easily accessible for wheelchair users.


About Rhino Fest

The event that became the Rhinoceros Theater Festival began in 1988 as an offshoot of the Bucktown Arts Fest, and in its first year featured just two days of performances, including work by Jenny Magnus and Beau O'Reilly. When the event's founder moved away from Chicago in 1990, he asked a ragtag group of local artists (including Beau O'Reilly and Theatre of the Reconstruction’s Scott Turner) to keep the festival going, and the Rhino Fest was born. The Curious Theatre Branch went on to produce the Rhino across many neighborhoods and venues over the years, with events variously taking place in Wicker Park/Bucktown, Rogers Park, Andersonville and Avondale; at spaces including the Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Café, the Neo-Futurarium, the Society for New Things, The Garage, The Firehouse, Remains Theatre and Prop Thtr. In the mid-2000s, Rhino Fest settled at Prop Thtr in Avondale as its long-term base, and Prop and Curious co-produced the festival among a shifting group of curators for many years. Following the closure of Prop's Elston Ave. space in 2020, and a year off during the height of the pandemic, Rhino Fest is once more becoming itinerant, this year producing shows at The Broadway at Pride Arts Center in Uptown and Jimmy Beans Coffee in Logan Square.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

REVIEW: Full Moon Vaudeville Kicks Off Rhinofest, Longest Running Chicago Fringe Fest Through February 24, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
 The 30th annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival 
January 12 – February 24, 2019

Chicago’s Longest Running Fringe Festival Returns with Six Weeks of Performances and Special Events Including Full Moon Vaudeville and a Celebration of Poet and Teacher John Starrs

Curious Theatre Branch and Prop Thtr are proud to announce the 30th annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival (Rhinofest), January 12 – February 24, 2019 at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave. The 2019 Rhinofest includes six weeks of new plays, dance, devised works, variety shows, comedy, live podcasting, fresh takes on classic texts, and more. Tickets now on sale. Performances are $15 or pay-what-you-can, and run daily except Tuesdays. A complete performance schedule with performances, dates and times is available at

by bonnie kenaz-mara

Long live Chicago's fringe fest scene. The Rhinofest has a long and storied past and this prescient pachyderm is still running, barreling into the future with the city's hottest collection of acts that couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't... be produced anywhere else. That's what I learned at the kick-off festivities. 

Avondale's funky Prop Theatre is the consummate host and ideal local for the fest. Despite snowy conditions, the opening night vibe was a happy hybrid of cast party and family reunion, replete with pizza and venn diagrams.  

On January 12th, I caught the traditional opening ceremony for Rhinofest, the Full Moon Vaudeville 2019, which was neither very vaudeville nor on the night of the full moon. January's Super Blood Wolf Moon with an Eclipse thrown in for good measure, is still coming January 21st, and with a title like that, it may well deserve its own top billing. 

(L to R)  Heather Riordan, Beau O'Reilly, Jenny Magnus, T-Roy Martin and Vicki Walden of THE CROOKED MOUTH, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Jeffrey Bivens

Described as a variety spectacular and communal how-do-you-do for show makers and audience members alike, curated by Rhino co-founder Beau O’Reilly, Full Moon Vaudeville played out like a family reunion full of inside jokes and fond recollections of shuttered venues and past productions. The original folk stylings of The Crooked Mouth were fun to hear, though many of the vocals were tough to make out, and that's where this band shines. There was less theatre than I'd hoped, loads of reminiscing, glowing odes to theatre as an art form, and even a power point presentation. All in all, it was a fun evening and a blast from the past. 

I first moved to Chicago in the fall of 1990, so Rhinocerous Fest and I share an anniversary. Back then I was a wide eyed newbie to big city life, with a freshly minted college degree, a minor in theatre arts, a desire to see EVERYTHING, and no disposable income to speak of. I started catching every "pay what you can", free, and cheap performance I could find, and quickly became a fan of the smart, quirky, bizarre stylings of Curious Theatre Branch and Maestro Subgum and the Whole. I still have a CD of theirs from back in the day.

We've all grown up and grown older together, and it's exciting to me to see this intrepid band of thinkers, writers, actors, and musicians still producing new works and performing on stage, as well as teaching and mentoring the next generation. At Saturday's kick-off, Curious Theatre Branch called for all the audience members and performers near 60 to stand, and celebrated them. Sure, there's plenty of new blood on stage at Rhinofest #30, but the old guard is still kicking ass, taking names, and rockin' the "air cane". 

We hope to catch much more of this year's iteration of Rhinofest. It's an eclectic lineup and an exciting chance to pick diamonds or drek. It's a gamble worth taking.

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: (adult) & (family friendly). 

more about the crooked mouth
We will be honest with you. The Crooked Mouth is hard to classify stylistically. Our sound weaves its way through different genres without fully making a home in any of them. We've been described as alt-country, alt-punk and cabaret. We all write songs and we all have our own way of coming at things, which lends itself to the sonic variety. It all comes together in the live shows. You should come and see us play.  No one can tell a story and captivate an audience better than our front man, Beau O'Reilly.

Beau and Jenny have been musical collaborators for decades—their previous band, Maestro Subgum and the Whole, was big, bold, cabaret-inspired, and beloved by many. Former Maestro fans have become our fans as well. Wander over to our music page, have a listen, and decide for yourself. Thanks for coming. We are always glad to see you.

We are:
Beau O’Reilly – lead vocals, cane, banter

Jenny Magnus – drums, vocals

T-Roy Martin – guitar, ukelele, trombone, banjo, vocals

Heather Riordan – accordion

Vicki Walden – bass, vocals

The Crooked Mouth is based in Chicago, on the uvulittle record label.
Download our eponymous CD, Yes Face, and/or LoveLoveLoveLoveStopLoveLoveLove at uvulittle or CDbaby.

"Yes Face is a terrifically good record. It travels on vocal harmonies and drums while it shimmers and jangles with strings. The drumming and bass are great, tempos and sophisticated time signatures change without fanfare, but rather with ease and confidence in a way the body experiences joyfully without having to filter it through the intellect."  — Jeff Dorchen for Chicago Arts Journal 

“Okay, The Crooked Mouth is just…I mean…Really, there is just no other band like The Crooked Mouth. The only other bands anything like The Crooked Mouth are with people who are already in the Crooked Mouth or existed with people in The Crooked Mouth before there was a Crooked Mouth. What a mouth is this Crooked Mouth. Yes. What other band has songs about belonging and not showing up, the heartbreak of professionalism, and having interesting middle-age problems? Furthermore, there are stories in between about enunciation and Bruce Willis, not to mention dynamic air-cane playing, acoustic guitar played in an insane electric way among other silky, stringed things and drums to piano and back and forth and back again with a percussion in the percussion of percussion.”    — Barrie Cole


Julia Williams of SKRIKER, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Jeffrey Bivens

(L to R) Beau O'Reilly, Patrick Ford, Bethany Arrington, Emily Rich, Barry Lohman and Julia William of SKRIKER, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Jeffrey Givens 

First organized in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, Rhinofest, the longest-running multi-arts fringe festival in Chicago is unique among national fringe festivals in that artists are never charged a fee to participate, and each year programs are individually curated by a rotating selection committee composed of Curious and Prop artistic leaders, led by Beau O’Reilly, rather than selected on a lottery basis. The Rhinofest provides production and exhibition opportunities to hundreds of artists, from Chicago companies and national artists alike, drawing thousands in attendance each year.

The 30th Rhinofest begins Saturday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. with Full Moon Vaudeville, featuring The Crooked Mouth, piloted by Curious co-founders Beau O’Reilly and Jenny Magnus with special musical guests Matt Test, Jeff Kowalkowski, Mac Modean Greenberg, Leo Brün and more. 

Rhinofest2019-5 - Violet of BI-POLAR BITCH, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Larry Hart

(L to R) Diane Hamm, Robert Puig Cuevas, Violet and Kelly Anchors of BI-POLAR BITCH, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Larry Hart

Fiercely independent and committed to discovery, Rhinofest this year features many young performing companies including The Neighborhood Collective, El Bear, Uploose Odditorium, and others along with festival veterans including beloved Chicago playwright Barrie Cole (performing from her latest work in a two-evening engagement), animator Chris Sullivan, Susan Parenti and Mark Enslin (of the School for Designing a Society), Charles Pike (performing a new monologue by David Hauptschein), and Prop Thtr co-founder Scott Vehill. 

Littlebrain Theatre premieres a new devised adaptation of Vittoria de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves written by Zach Barr, Tara Branham directs Tanuja Jagernauth’s new interactive work Lockpickers, and Rob Onorato performs Night of a Million Barbras, a drag monologue and political paean to the enduring star. Curious Theatre Branch premieres Matt Rieger’s new razor-sharp comedy My Dinner with... Joe and a staging of Caryl Churchill’s dark fairytale The Skriker, while Prop Thtr produces a weekly live taping of Ben Moroney and Rahim Salaam’s arts and culture podcast “What About Chicago?!” And on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m., during the final week of Rhinofest, a special event celebrates John Starrs, the Chicago poet and teacher who has appeared in every Rhinofest since 1988.

Diane Hamm of CABARET PROP'D, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Beast Women

About Prop Thtr
The Prop Thtr is a DIY incubator for new performance work in all disciplines, and is a charter member of both The League of Chicago Theaters and the National New Play Network. Prop Thtr produces new plays, special events, rolling world premieres with their NNPN members; they also helped launch The New Play Exchange and co-produce the annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival. Prop Thtr is a renter of performance and rehearsal space and camp/class space and collaborates with productions on location and around the city. Prop Thtr is an Illinois Not-For-Profit 501c3 Organization that benefits from support by the MacArthur Fund of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and The Illinois Arts Council, in addition to being supported by artists and audiences of Illinois.

About Curious Theatre Branch
Founded in 1988 by Jenny Magnus and Beau O'Reilly-as the Curious Theatre "Branch" of the alt-rock cabaret act Maestro Subgum and the Whole-Curious has consistently worked with an ensemble of artists in a non-hierarchical decision-making process, through which the philosophy of collaboration as a social force is explored on every level.

Curious Theatre Branch has produced more than 100 full productions of world-premiere shows in 30 years. Curious has developed its own recognizable style, using an economy of means and production to make deeper and deeper, rather than larger and larger, work. 

Curious Theatre Branch and Prop Thtr are proud to announce the 30th annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival (Rhinofest), January 12 – February 24, 2019 at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave. The 2019 Rhinofest includes six weeks of new plays, dance, devised works, variety shows, comedy, live podcasting, fresh takes on classic texts, and more. Tickets now on sale. Performances are $15 or pay-what-you-can, and run daily except Tuesdays. A complete performance schedule with performances, dates and times is available at

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