Barrel of Monkeys Puts on the Ritz for 2010 Fancy Schmancy Benefit

September 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

My friends at Barrel of Monkeys have announced their huge annual fall fundraiser, The Fancy Schmancy Benefit! Proceeds from which will allow them to continue their terrific work for Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District.

Let me explain…

Barrel of Monkeys has taught creative writing and drama to upwards of 8,000 Chicago elementary school students since 1997. Their accomplished theater artists have adapted more than 3,500 children’s stories into sketches and songs for the stage and performed those stories for the student authors and the general public as a celebration of the creativity of Chicago kids, the majority of whom have extremely limited access to the arts.

The Monkeys were recently voted one of the nation’s worthiest charities in the Chase Community Giving program (you remember, Facebook), earning them a grant of $20,000. Babble.com, one of the top 3 websites for parents in the US, recognized them as #1 in a nationwide list of the 25 best organizations and charities for children. The Chicago Reader has said, “This group is funnier than anything at Second City, more genuinely creative than anything at Lookingglass, and does more good than all the other nonprofit theaters in town put together.”

They’re good people.  And, as a non-profit, they depend on the generosity of their donors to continue providing unique and high-quality programming in the communities that need it the most. The illustrious Fancy Schmancy Benefit traditionally provides more than one-tenth of the company’s annual revenue alone.

The 2010 Fancy Schmancy will feature a performance of some of the company’s favorite child-authored stories, as well as cocktails, a dinner buffet, opportunities to participate in creative writing activities, a raffle, and a live and silent auction. The whimsical spirit of Barrel of Monkeys will pervade the event through the theme Magical Place, based upon a hugely-popular story written by Dulce H., a 4th grader from Columbia Explorers Academy.  (Once you hear the song, you’ll never forget it.)

No one’s messing around on the prizes either.  The raffle winner gets tickets for 2 to Saturday Night Live plus roundtrip airmiles!  Auction prizes include tickets to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, tickets to see the Yankees and other sporting events, vacations to Myrtle Beach and Florida, unique Monkey encounters, fine dining at Mia Franchesca and Oceanique, spa packages, theater tickets galore, and much, much more.


Christopher Piatt | Photo by Reema Abu-Gheida

Also at this year’s Fancy Schmancy, Barrel of Monkeys will be honoring esteemed Chicago theater critic Christopher Piatt, a long time supporter of the company.  You know Mr. Piatt as the former Theater Editor of Time Out Chicago and as the creator/host of the weekly “live magazine,”  the Paper Machete.

If you’ve got the funds to spare for a hell of a fun time and a truly deserving cause, find your way to A Magical Place.


Friday, October 22 from 7:00—11:00PM.

Ravenswood Event Center, 4025 N Ravenswood Ave.

$85 in advance, $100 at the door or $110 for a Fancy Schmancy ticket, which includes various fancy accessories, the highlight of which are custom-made fancy hats.

Tickets may be obtained online at BarrelofMonkeys.org, or by mailing a check to Barrel of Monkeys, 4432 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60640.

For more information, call 773.506.7140.


And how can you see Barrel of Monkeys perform for the public every single Monday night?

That’s Weird, Grandma @ The Neo-Futurarium
“One of the most real, uplifting and engaging theatrical experiences in town,” says ChicagoTheater.com. Adored by audiences of all ages, this long-running hit is a high-energy presentation of hilariously bizarre sketches and songs written by kids. After teaching creative writing in the CPS system, Barrel of Monkeys’ ensemble of actors, comedians, musicians and playwrights select some of the thousands of stories generated by their students and adapt them for the stage. The result has been an audience favorite—a show that is “safe” for all ages, yet very much appreciated by an adult audience. The Chicago Tribune praises it as “so respectful of how kids think, it sidesteps ‘Kids-Say-the-Darndest-Things’ syndrome, veering into lunacy, social criticism, even poignancy.” That’s Weird, Grandma has now produced over 3,500 stories and musical numbers, and the show changes each week as new stories are cycled in based on audience votes. The Chicago Reader says, “If you don’t have a good time, there’s something wrong with you.”

Every Monday night @ 8pm, September 6, 2010 through January 17, 2011.

The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N Ashland Ave (Foster & Ashland).

$10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

Tickets can be purchased at 312.409.1954 or BarrelofMonkeys.org.


Kids write it.  Barrel of Monkeys performs it.  World saved.

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This Tuesday: Barrel of Monkeys' Hilarious, Heartwarming Annual Tribute to their Child Authors

June 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Barrel of Monkeys presents Celebration of Authors 2010

Barrel of Monkeys presents Celebration of Authors - Photo by Dean  Ponce

Photo by Dean Ponce

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This group is funnier than anything at Second City, more genuinely creative than anything at Lookingglass, and does more good than all the other nonprofit theaters in town put together. ” – Time Out Chicago

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Barrel of Monkeys, an amazing organization operating in the nexus of Theater, Education, and pure Fun, will hold their ninth annual Celebration of Authors event at the Harold Washington Cultural Center this Tuesday, June 8 at 7pm.  And, my friends, I defy you to find a more wonderful event in all of Chicagoland.
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You see, Barrel of Monkeys teaches creative writing workshops in Chicago Public Schools, then the ensemble adapts the stories into sketches and songs which are performed for the school, and later for the public as part of the long-running, ever-changing hit, That’s Weird, Grandma. Kids write it, Barrel of Monkeys performs it, and the world is saved one show at a time.
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But where would Barrel of Monkeys be without the Chicago Public School students who provide their material?   Nowhere!
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Celebration of Authors 2010Hence their gigantic annual Celebration of Authors!  The Monkeys invite these amazing student authors, their families and their classmates to see their work performed on a public stage for the first time.  This 75 minute show consists of ALL NEW student-authored, adult-performed stories selected from each school.  More than 35 Barrel of Monkeys ensemble members will bring them to exhilarating, hilarious life.  Audience members have the rare opportunity to meet the authors, the teachers and the principals from the schools Barrel of Monkeys members have worked with in this school year.  This one special night brings together both the educational and theater communities that Barrel of Monkeys serves all year and it is a chance to witness some of the most hilarious, entertaining and poignant pieces written by their talented students.
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As always, Celebration of Authors is a free event (members of the public are invited to make a small donation if they are able), but unlike years past, it will be held in an exciting new performance space, the Harold Washington Cultural Center!
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Make your reservations now at 312.409.1954 or BarrelofMonkeys.org!

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And what about That’s Weird, Grandma?

That's Weird, Grandma - Barrel of Monkeys

Photo by Erich Nerger

You can see it every Monday night!  (Except this Monday due to Celebration of Authors!)

Adored by audiences of all ages and praised by critics, Barrel of Monkeys’ long-running hit is a hilarious, bizarre and high-energy presentation of songs and sketches written by kids.  The show changes each week based on audience votes and has now produced over 1,000 stories and musical numbers.

The Chicago Tribune says That’s Weird, Grandma is “so respectful of how kids think, it sidesteps ‘Kids-Say-the-Darndest-Things’ syndrome, veering into lunacy, social criticism, even poignancy.”

Time Out Chicago says, “if you don’t have a good time, there’s something wrong with you.”

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That’s Weird, Grandma

Mondays @ 8pm.

The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N Ashland Ave (Foster & Ashland).

$10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

Tickets can be purchased at 312.409.1954 or BarrelofMonkeys.org.

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"That's Weird, Grandma" Celebrates the Season with Holiday Shows

November 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

If [you] have out-of-town visitors on a Monday nightwithout question take them to Barrel of Monkeys.”
– Time Out Chicago

Something for everyonesome of the most charming tales staged in Chicago.”
– Centerstage Chicago

Deeply committed silliness, performed with integrity.”
– Chicago Tribune

Don’t leave this one off of your list, friends.  The sheer joy of an ordinary Barrel of Monkeys performance is tripled by adding in some holiday cheer.  I cannot recommend this event highly enough!

Join Barrel of Monkeys for a special holiday-themed version of their long-running hit show, That’s Weird, Grandma! This high-energy presentation of hilarious sketches and songs is terrific fun for the whole family and ChicagoTheater.com calls it “one of the most real, uplifting and engaging theatrical experiences in town.”  The most heartwarming part is that this adult ensemble’s unique material was written entirely by children!  After teaching creative writing in the Chicago Public School system, Barrel of Monkeys’ ensemble of actors, comedians, musicians and playwrights select some of the thousands of stories generated by their students and adapt them for the stage. The result is a show that is “safe” for all ages, yet very much enjoyed by an adult audience.  Holiday tales to be featured include the adrenalin-fueled action of “The Time We Had a Snowball Fight,” the fiscal-responsibility of “Santa and Taco Bell,” the sci-fi thrills of “Snowmen from Pluto,” and many more!  Come and enjoy the one-of-a-kind holiday opening song, the holiday prizes, and the holiday cheer!

That’s Weird, Grandma has now produced over 3,500 stories and musical numbers, and the show changes each week as new stories are cycled in based on audience votes.   The Chicago Tribune praises it as “so respectful of how kids think, it sidesteps ‘Kids-Say-the-Darndest-Things’ syndrome, veering into lunacy, social criticism, even poignancy.”  The Chicago Reader says it best:  “If you don’t have a good time, there’s something wrong with you.”

Every Monday night @ 8pm through January 17, with special holiday shows December 20 and 27.

The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N Ashland Ave (Foster & Ashland), Chicago, IL 60640.

$10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

Tickets can be purchased at 312.409.1954 or BarrelofMonkeys.org.

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