Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Robert Reich, William Peterson and no Blagojevich

Photos: Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich (top), and actors Nicole Wiesner and William Peterson onstage in "Dublin Carol" now at Steppenwolf Theatre.
 This is a Rod Blagojevich free zone.
 You may continue to read, assured you will not see any bleeping bleeps in this blog once you have reached the end of this sentence.
  That said, we know actor William Peterson best as Gil Grissom, the iconic TV bug doc whose scientific analysis can unravel almost any mysterious death.
Indeed, as "CSI" continues its monumental hold on television audiences, the actor who helped launch the series and headlines the cast (well, at least for bit longer), continues to gain fame, superstardom anywhere in the world the hit series is aired.
Right now, Peterson commands the stage at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. More on that in a bit.
  First, a phenomenal book for your holiday reading.
 If you have any curiosity as to why democracy and capitalism are so disabled in this country and how they got that way, pick up Robert Reich's fast-moving "Supercapitalism." 
  Don't let the topic or title dissuade you. 
 Trust me, this is not dry reading. Nor is it complex. If it were, I would've put it down after the first few pages, but as a nonfiction tome, this is a page-turner. 
Reich, Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration and now a professor at University of California Berkeley as well as advisor on the Barack Obama transition team, pulls the reader along on a compelling examination of money and government -- capitalism and democracy  -- and why both are on advanced life support.
You can check out Reich's style at www.robertreich.blogspot.com.
  Indeed, Reich's book reveals the real state of the union
Now I promised you more about Gil Grissom and his alter ego (or is it the other way around?) William Peterson.
Before 2000, neither name was a household world.
But Peterson's fan base has expanded exponentially since that fall when the now wildly popular crime forensics show premiered. As an aside, Marc Vann, the Chicago-based actor who plays the boss we all love to hate, Conrad Ecklie, in the series, told me Peterson actually is amazingly intelligent, just as his character comes across in the series. (Unlike Ecklie, Vann is affable and much better looking than his TV character.)
Unfortunately. "CSI" aficionados see only one iota of Peterson's talents. 
He's a commanding and exceptionally talented actor.
Peterson's strength in live theater takes center stage through Jan. 4 in "Dublin Carol" at Chicago's legendary Steppenwolf Theatre where he has just been named a company member, joining other extraordinary talents including John Malkovich, Gary Sinese and Joan Allen, to mention a few.
Steppenwolf's Amy Morton directs Conor McPherson's tightly scripted drama "Dublin Carol," a somber drama that explores the mindset of an alcoholic. Peterson's portrays John whose interactions with his daughter (Nicole Wiesner) and his young coworker (Stephen Louis Grush) reveal the futility of his own whiskey-soaked life on yet one more Christmas Eve.
Peterson's extraordinary performance in the three-person play is magnified by a script that has his character onstage continuously. Grush and Wiesner perform as if the tough supporting roles were written for them. 
 Stage chemistry is tangible, three-dimensional.
While not your typical upbeat happily-ever-after holiday play, "Dublin Carol" tackles the holiday with human frailties, authentic emotional challenges many experience during the season that's not always one of good will. 
Peterson is in the show for its full run, through Jan. 4.  Steppenwolf Theatre is at 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Tickets are at 312-335-1650 and at steppenwolf.org.
  Non sequitor factoid: Non Muslims are not permitted to visit the religion's holy city of Mecca, according to print sources. I just found that info happenstance. Does anyone have firsthand knowledge about the city? I would love to hear.


photo by sarah gross

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Tinley Park, Illinois
As a longtime newspaperwoman who left the business to freelance, I want to keep in touch with the world. This is my place to reach out with words.