In the Spotlight: Thomas Neumann & Classic (Zoom) Works

For the Friday, April 23rd episode of WHRU radio’s It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, my featured guest will be Chicagoland theatre director Thomas Neumann to discuss his Classic (Zoom) Works project. Presented via Facebook Live and then archived on Facebook as well, Classic (Zoom) Works presents Zoom readings of Shakespeare and other classic plays complete with suggestive costuming and props. Thomas does all of the script adaptations himself.

It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee airs every Friday at 3 PM Central out of Chicago’s Huntley township on 101.5 FM; those outside of the broadcast area can stream the program by going to www.HuntleyRadio.com and selecting the Listen Live icon.

Shortly before the spread of COVID-19 caused theatres to shut their doors, Thomas adapted and directed a highly heralded production of Hamlet coproduced by Elgin Theatre Company and Freemont Street Theater.

During the pandemic Neumann directed a filmed collection of Shakespearean monologues under the title Bits of the Bard. Still available on YouTube, Bits of the Bard features the talents of Jamie Ewing, Katherine Damisch, William Petersen, Ana Hojjati, Vinny Prisco, Bridget Belcastro, Greg Waldyn, and Neumann. All of the monologues feature on screen sign language interpretation as well – which is a whole different level of awesome. It is a very well-done tribute to some of Shakespeare’s most iconic characters.

Classic (Zoom) Works is kind of the next stage of evolution for creating performance pieces during a pandemic. Plus, it provides a fantastic creative outlet for actors. Because the works are Zoomed, participating actors can come from all over.

For our April 23 interview, Thomas and I will discuss his inspiration for creating Classic (Zoom) Works and the lessons he has learned as the Zoom series has grown in popularity with each reading. We will also chat about what sparked Thomas’ love of Shakespeare and his personal approach to adapting the Bard’s work for modern audiences.

I’m a big fan of Shakespeare, more specifically Shakespeare done right. With that said, let it be known that I’m a big fan of Thomas’ work and look forward to seeing more of his interpretations.

Please join us on Friday April 23 at 3 PM Central on 101.5 FM or streaming at www.HuntleyRadio.com for It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee.

Some of my other recent guests include Tony-nominee Adam Pascal of both the Broadway production and film adaptation of Rent, Tony-nominee Robert Cuccioli of Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde, Adam Jacobs who originated the title role in Disney’s Broadway adaptation of Aladdin, and Jesse Borrego who I grew up watching on the television series Fame.

To listen to past episodes of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee visit: https://huntleyradio.com/hcr/its-showtime-with-rikki-lee/.

Peace. Love. Trust.

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