Tricia Stiller/review: 'Bleacher Bums' actors hit it out of the park

Tricia Stiller/review: 'Bleacher Bums' actors hit it out of the park

Full disclosure: I'm a Cubs fan. Until last season, when the Curse of the Billy Goat was finally lifted and the Cubs became World Series champs, our family mantra was "We'll get 'em next year."

Old school Cubs fans embraced the struggles of their boys in blue and loved 'em anyway. An afternoon at the "Friendly Confines" was enough reason to celebrate, regardless of the score, with an ice cold beer, a red hot and a frosty malt.

And it's that reality that is wonderfully captured in "Bleacher Bums," now playing, courtesy of Twin City Squared, at the SoDo Theatre in Champaign. The company has gone all out to create a full ball game experience; you can grab a hot dog, popcorn and a soft drink right up to the seventh-inning stretch.

Originally penned in 1977 by Chicago's Organic Theatre, "Bleacher Bums" captures the culture of the die-hard Cubs fan and pays homage to the friendly rivalry — Cubs vs. Cardinals — that divides Illinois. We here in central Illinois teeter on the Mason-Dixon Line of baseball.

Twin City Squared is presenting the revised version of the script, updated 20 years after the original, which highlights the home run wars of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. The players' names are really inconsequential — it's the fans, those die-hard, bleacher-riding fans — that matter, and on that, they've hit it out of the park.

The ensemble features some familiar faces in some stereotypical roles: The beauty who sunbathes in the bleachers (Emma Lacefield), the braggart with a heart of gold (Jonathan Kerr), his long-suffering wife (Diane Pritchard), the wise guy (David Heckman), the super fan with a briefcase full of stats (Don Gerard), the kid (Evan Galloway), a blind man with a radio (Ben Unander) and a rogue Cardinals fan (John Tilford), always trying to make a buck.

The set includes the iconic ivy-covered brick and the Wrigley Field green back walls, courtesy of director and set designer Wendy Galloway, a self-proclaimed Cubs fan herself.

At just 90 minutes, this production is just plain fun for fans of all ages. A tip to those planning to attend: Wear your team colors. There just might be a surprise waiting for the one with most team spirit. Like the song says, "It's a beautiful day for a ball game."

Tricia Stiller serves as director for the McLean County Diversity Project's Theatre Program, the Miller Park Summer Theatre Program and the Penguin Project McLean County. She can be contacted at triciastiller@msn.com.

If you go

What: Twin City Squared presents the 1998 version of "Bleacher Bums," written by the Organic Theatre Company of Chicago, based on an idea from Joe Mantegna.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. today and next Sunday.

Where: SoDo Theatre, 114 S. Neil St., C.

Tickets: $15, adults; $12 for students with IDs and senior citizens 65 and older.

Reservations: twincitysquared.com.

Running time: 90 minutes without intermission.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):Theater
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