Best Of Chicago

Gorilla Tango Theatre: More Than Just Burlesque (Though That’s Nice Too)

January 18, 2012 2:00 PM

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by Mason Johnson

Gorilla Tango Theatre

1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, Il
(773) 598-4549

If you’re anything like me, you don’t go to the theatre, you get dragged to the theatre. Sure, I was in my high school’s production of 12 Angry Men (I was juror #2, the angry one… who didn’t have many lines…), but I only did that for the ladies.

And it didn’t work. Not one bit. In fact, nothing I’ve ever done has worked for the ladies.

But that’s another article entirely!

What I’m trying to get at here, with my ramblings, is that I don’t particularly enjoy the theatre, but, despite this, I really like Gorilla Tango Theatre.

Crazy, I know.

A little neighborhood theatre located in Bucktown, Gorilla Tango creates a feeling of closeness for those who attend shows there. Literally. It only seats about eighty-six and a half people, but I think this works in its favor, closing that gap of separation you might feel while watching a bigger production, pulling the crowd into everything that happens onstage just a little bit more.

It’s nice.

The fact that their plays are locally produced also creates a feeling of closeness. It establishes a sense of community since, chances are, with a city as connected as Chicago, you know someone or know someone who knows someone there. Maybe you once had a class with the director, used to live next to one of the actors, take yoga with the tech engineer, were in ‘nam with the guy selling tickets… it’s all connected.

And that too is nice.

Most recently, I saw To Change the Night Owl. The show, written and produced by Jane Vincent, is a fun way to spend the night. For forty-five minutes (give or take), you’re witness to the hilarity that ensues after a son, who has just left his fiance at the chapel, interrupts his father’s date, just to realize that the woman his father is on a date with is, in fact, his ex. Which sounds like a gross situation, I know, a bit of a nightmare for a father and son, but it’s a legitimately funny and endearing show.

Chances are, you’ve also heard of Gorilla Tango’s burlesque shows. If you’re not hip enough to have heard people talking about them, then you’ve at least seen the ads on the train, right?

You haven’t? Do you live in a cave? What is wrong with you?

Well, Gorilla Tango has the market cornered on nerd-themed burlesque shows. Taking themes like Mario Bros. (BOOBS and GOOMBAS: A Super Mario Burlesque) and Star Wars (A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque), Gorilla Tango puts on some of the funniest, goofiest burlesque around. Is it tasteful? I don’t know, I’m a pretty tasteless person, I don’t like things that are tasteful, so I’m not the one to ask, and besides, it’s not supposed to be tasteful. I will say this: the shows are meant to entertain, focusing on satire/parody and comedy, which is what makes them great. Despite their pun-filled titles, it’s not the boobs in these shows that make ‘em enjoyable, it’s the talent.

The boobs are great too though.

All in all, Gorilla Tango has a unique mix of entertainment, from activities for kids, to plays, and the aforementioned burlesque (which is completely separate from the kids’ activities, fyi). I highly suggest checking them out! Besides, it’s not like you have anything better to do.

To find out about more Chicago theatres, check out Best Chicago Neighborhood Theatres.
Have something we should write about? Got an idea for a ‘best of’ article? Email your ideas, opinions and rants to!
Mason Johnson, CBS Chicago
View Comments
  • Centurion

    Gorilla Tango ROCKS! Now, lets go get a burrito Mason

    • Mason Johnson

      Did you see how many burritos I ate in 2011? I’m on a diet.

  • Night Owl Cast

    Thanks for the great review, Mason! We appreciate it – The cast of CHANGE THE NIGHT OWL and forever fans of @GorillaTango Theatre

  • Night Owl Cast

    Mason, Do you have a Twitter or FB fan page we can follow you on???

  • Night Owl cast

    For those of you who are interested in seeing Change the Night Owl, there are two more chances to see the show, TONIGHT, January 21st and next Saturday the 28th, at 7 p.m. Details on our FB page –

    Hope you can make it! THANK YOU for supporting Chicago theatre!

    • Mason Johnson

      Everyone should go on Saturday!

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