One of the things that makes Chicago great is the quantity and variety of theater that is produced all over the city. From the small, non-Equity storefronts to the landmark theaters in the Loop, there is something for everyone, both artists and audiences alike. As a small but mighty Equity theater, Remy Bumppo has carved out and secured a spot somewhere in the center of the Chicago theater spectrum, producing consistently high-quality productions right in the heart of the Belmont Theater District. The Chicago Sun-Times goes so far to say that Remy Bumppo is a “company that could hold its own anywhere in the world,” so we’re incredibly fortunate they’re here in the BTD.
Remy Bumppo was founded in 1996 by James Bohnen, Carol Loewenstern, and John Stoddard, whose vision was to showcase Chicago’s top professional actors and designers in “in meaningful plays that stimulated the minds of audience members.” (Perhaps this is where their “Think Theatre” slogan comes in.) The company gets its name from Lowenstern’s cat (Remy) and Bohnen’s black lab (Bumppo). Remy Bumppo received non-profit status in 2001 and has since added a Core Ensemble of artists and a roster of Associate Artists along with their administrative staff.
The company’s mission states their intention to produce “both the great plays of the past and the important plays of today,” and their production history proves they’ve accomplished that many times over. Past season themes include “Biting the Apple,” “Life, Love & Other Inventions,” and “Welcome to the Fun House.” With a production history that boasts well-known plays by George Bernard Shaw, Caryl Churchill, Edward Albee, Tom Stoppard, and various Dickensian adaptations, it’s easy to see where these themes run through the line of Remy Bumppo’s work. One patron notes, “It’s nice to see something new and yet familiar,” which perhaps succinctly summarizes the company’s approach to storytelling.
One show that garnered much critical acclaim was the 2018 production of Frankenstein, an adaptation by Nick Dear, which ran during the 200th anniversary year of Mary Shelley’s gothic novel. Critics called it “stunning” (Chicago Sun-Times), “riveting” (Chicagoland Theater Reviews), and “undeniably bold” (Chicago Tribune). Chicago Theatre Reviews said “The production is a feast for the senses, not only sporting incredible scenic, lighting and sound designs, but accented by Kristy Leigh Hall’s wonderful period costumes.” Frankenstein went on to win five Jeff Awards including the awards for Midsize Production and for Hall’s monster makeup design.
To date, Remy Bumppo has earned 70 Jeff nominations and won 14 awards, including four for Costume Design and three for Midsize Production for Frankenstein, Born Yesterday, by Garson Kanin and The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee.
2020-2021 has been a time of reflection and reconsideration for theater companies and the industry as a whole. In BTD’s interview with Remy Bumppo Artistic Director Marti Lyons had this to say about the past and future of the company: “Remy Bumppo has a history of excellent work. One of our priorities is living in and bringing to life language-driven work. . . We as a company are very excited to expand our repertoire . . . and expand our circle of collaborators and our audiences, while celebrating and welcoming Remy Bumppo audiences who have been with us for these twenty-five years.” She adds, “More than anything, I’m just so excited to show you what we’ve got up our sleeve and what we’ll be doing next.”
To learn more about Remy Bumppo’s current season and offerings, visit their website.
To see what’s playing now in the BTD, head to our Shows page.
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