Thu, Dec 1 & 8, 7:30 pm
These performances and post-show talks are ASL interpreted.
Raucous one moment, whip-sharp the next . . . Beautiful, beastly, brilliance.
Story hour for adults. Burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz and comedy genius Mat Fraser (partners in life and theater) expose the social undercurrents of the eighteenth-century fairy tale.
This Beauty and the Beast leads the audience on a magical journey into real and fabled romance, using love and humor plus a healthy dose of nudity to throw open the doors to acceptance. The artists reach maximum enchantment by employing song, dance, puppetry, and shadow play. Fraser, who plays the Beast, was born with phocomelia and has spent his life aware that he looks different. This explicit, adult-themed work repositions the Beast as a natural-born freak to the beauty queen who loves him. Fraser’s custom-made prosthetic arms—which he has said he rarely uses—become a sly leitmotif. Two supporting puppeteers from Improbable, charming and extravagantly costumed, use their own arms to fill in for Fraser in his incarnation from the Beast to Prince for this happily-ever-after Dom/sub story. Muz and Fraser’s sweet, raunchy, and unself-conscious coupling is directed by Phelim McDermott, who staged Philip Glass’s Satayagraha.
NOTE: This program includes nudity. Mature audiences recommended.
Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission
Relaxed Performance, Dec 9
The Friday, December 9 performance of Beauty and the Beast is open to everyone, but the artists are offering it as a "relaxed performance,” which creates a welcoming environment for people with learning disabilities and/or sensory communication impairments. Attendees on this night should expect a more relaxed attitude toward noise and movement in the seating area and modified house lighting and sound. For more information, please call the MCA Box Office at 312-397-4010.
Stick around after the performances on Thursday, December 1, and Thursday, December 8, for a conversation with Beauty and the Beast stars Julie Atlas Muz, Mat Fraser, and members of Improbable.
About the Artists
Julie Atlas Muz is a performance artist, dancer, stage director, and actor. She is best known as a performer in the New York City burlesque scene and neo-burlesque revival. She was the crown holder of the 2006 Miss Exotic World and Miss Coney Island pageants. She performs original work at numerous stages including P.S. 122, HERE, The Performing Garage and Art at St. Anne’s Warehouse, LaMama, and The Kitchen, and has been awarded Artist-in-Residencies at Chashama, Joyce Soho, Dixon Place, and Movement Research. She was a 2004 Whitney Biennial Artist and a 2005 Valencia Bienal Artist. Muz first met Mat Fraser when invited to cocreate Beauty and the Beast for the Extravagant Bodies Disability Arts Festival, Croatia, in 2007. She and Fraser have since become associated artists with the theater company Improbable.
Mat Fraser is a celebrated burlesque star who creates performances that cross boundaries between dance, theater, and contemporary burlesque. Fraser, a London-born actor and writer specializing in theater, cabaret, and sideshow, is arguably one of the best-known performers with a disability. Always interested in the relationship between disability and entertainment, he makes challenging and funny works. He also appears in films and television, including AMC’s circus-themed American Horror Story. Muz and Fraser met as performers in the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, subsequently married, and have created several shows together.
Formed in 1995, Improbable is a London-based theater company led by Artistic Directors Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson. The company works in different ways and on different scales. The artists relish using improvisation, ensemble, and puppetry in exciting combinations to create epic spectacles, such as Sticky, an outdoor piece with giant Sellotape structures and fireworks. They also make smaller delicate pieces, such as Animo and The Still, both of which are improvised live. Their best-known large theater pieces include Theatre of Blood, produced at the National Theatre, and Satyagraha, which played at ENO and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
This presentation is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from Illinois Arts Council and the Crane Group.