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Populist Grab-ass Comedy

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Vikings! A Musical in Two Axe premiered at Noble Fool's downtown Chicago theater in February 2003 and became unexpectedly topical when the two-month run coincided with the invasion of Iraq. Playwright Jack Bronis and his collaborator, composer and lyricist Bonnie Shadrake, had begun work on the frisky antiwar musical six years earlier. "We were approaching the millennium and I got to thinking," Bronis says. "The Vikings were around in 999, and so little has changed; we're still brutal to one another." In a review of last year's production, Reader critic Jack Helbig noted that the show had "virtually no plot" (a cruise ship of Vikings and their wives prepare to overthrow the Norse gods) but was "packed with a populist grab-ass comedy" that took on everything from Wagner to heavy metal. A tweaked version begins preview performances this week for a spring run at Noble Fool's west suburban branch. Bronis says the god Thor now has more of a presence, helping to "speed the story along," and four male roles have been newly cast with an emphasis on the voices. Don't look for horned helmets or happy endings. Previews begin March 31; the show opens April 4 and runs through June 5 at Pheasant Run Resort and Spa, 4051 E. Main in Saint Charles. Performances are Wednesdays at 7, Thursdays and Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 4 and 8, and Sundays at 2. Tickets are $35 and $37, $30 and $32 for previews. Dinner packages begin at $58. Call 630-584-6342.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Johnny Knight.

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