Over the years I'd attended a few City Theatre shows on Saturday nights. But until this past weekend, when I hopped over there for a performance of the wonderfully entertaining The Monster in the Hall, it had never struck me how unusual the company's Saturday schedule is.
According to City spokesperson Emily Price, City's been doing shows at both 5:30 and 9 p.m. Saturdays since not long after it moved to its South Side digs, in 1991. As far as I know, they're still the only company in town that does it that way.
It's certainly convenient for people who spend Saturdays running around and can't quite get their acts together for the traditional 8 p.m. curtain.
But Price says the scheduling has more to do with the theater's location. For all its vaunted bars, East Carson Street also has a good number of restaurants. Early-show attendees can join the usual dinner crowd, while late-show folks can eat before they watch.
Given all the visitors to the neighborhood, just having one show would be missing an opportunity, says Price.
Early shows are actually more popular, she adds, and priced to match. But the late show of Monster I saw drew a nice crowd, too.
The production, not coincidentally, merits the attention. David Greig's play is a raucous, music-filled comedy about a Scottish teenager coping with caring for her father, an ex-biker with MS; an impending visit from a social-services worker; and other crises. The cast, directed by City artistic director Tracy Brigden, is exceptional, especially Melinda Helfrich in the lead role and Sheila McKenna in an hilarious dual role.
Special praise to Eric Shimelonis for his musical direction and rocking original music for Greig's interpolated song lyrics.
Here's Ted Hoover's full review of the show for CP.
There are four more performances of Monster, one tonight, two tomorrow and the Sunday matinee.