RSSOffBeat With Phil Potempa

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Enduring actress Polly Bergen dead at age 84

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Enduring actress Polly Bergen dead at age 84

During her 60 years in the entertainment industry, Polly Bergen captivated audiences and proved her theory about performing still holds true.

"I've played small rooms and opened huge showroom arenas like the unveiling of Caesar's Palace stage Circus Maximus Showroom in Las Vegas," Bergen told me during a March 2002 interview.

"And I can tell you it all comes down to connecting with your audience."

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OFFBEAT with Phil Potempa: You're invited to fall tours of historic Pullman homes in Chicago

OFFBEAT with Phil Potempa: You're invited to fall tours of historic Pullman homes in Chicago
September 21, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The historic Pullman neighborhood on Chicago's South Side remains a shining jewel from the time of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.

Often called Chicago World's Fair, it was an international venue that showcased the best in arts and culture, shining examples of architecture of the past, present and future, and America's new push for industrialism.

One of the most touted gems of innovation of this event came from railroad magnate George M. Pullman.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Hammond grad's Tippi tribute is stage return of 'Birds'

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Hammond grad's Tippi tribute is stage return of 'Birds'
September 20, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Not all of the birds are headed south for the winter yet.

Hammond High School grad David Cerda has been friends with actress Tippi Hedren ever since she caught his stage spoof of her famed 1963 Hitchcock flick "The Birds," when he first staged it in 2003.

He has just remounted the stage show with some fun inventive twists, and it's now playing until Nov. 1 in Chicago.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Actor Yando reigns supreme in 'Lear' at Courtyard Theater

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Actor Yando reigns supreme in 'Lear' at Courtyard Theater
September 19, 2014 12:05 am  • 

There's a line from William Shakepeare's play "King Lear" that lingers with me.

Delivered by the Earl of Gloucester, finding himself without sight, lost in a woods and dependent on the kindness of a crazed character, he says:" 'Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the blind."

When I look at some of the "upside down moments" of our world around us, as felled by tragedies and ill decisions, it's only natural to question the judgment of leaders and elected officials.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: 'Biggest Loser' big names at Saturday's Omni 5K

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: 'Biggest Loser' big names at Saturday's Omni 5K
September 18, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Special guests from TV's world of weight-loss are coming to Schererville on Saturday to help kick off and motivate participants in the Third Annual Anyone Can Do A 5K.

Franciscan Omni Health & Fitness in Schererville, after 30-plus years of hosting the Annual Pumpkin Prance Event in October, has changed direction and wants to get families of all ages, runners, walkers, stroller pushers and wagon pullers to come out and enjoy a Saturday morning with the Anyone Can Do A 5K walk/run.

Danni Allen, from NBC's "Biggest Loser" Season 14," who dropped 121 pounds, 47 percent of her total body weight, will attend to encourage others.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Melissa Gilbert signing new 'Little House' cookbook Thursday

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Melissa Gilbert signing new 'Little House' cookbook Thursday
September 17, 2014 12:00 am  • 

I still recall a friend once telling me about a few of the unrealistic moments on the popular NBC series "Little House on the Prairie," which aired from 1974 until 1982.

Even the early episodes contained some "Hollywood moments" to make for "good television," even if historically inaccurate.

In the TV episode my friend referenced, Laura Ingalls' mother, Caroline, was worried about fabric to create curtains for the family's cabin home. But according to the real Laura Ingalls' own written accounts and those of her only daughter, Rose, the real Caroline Ingalls was far more concerned with gardening, firewood, sewing clothes and keeping food on the table rather than cabin decor.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Actor's 'Methtacular!' stage journey is a triumph

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Actor's 'Methtacular!' stage journey is a triumph
September 16, 2014 12:00 am  • 

When I taught college courses for Purdue for 10 years at the state prison, there were a number of inmates serving time for being addicted to meth.

To my surprise, some of the offenders had worked as farmers, who one day, discovered the liquid fertilizer they used on the their crops is the same chemical needed for making meth. And when these fallen farmers did the math, they found they could make more money making and selling meth rather than growing corn and soybeans.

Anyone can fall prey to the addictive devices of meth dependency. That is one of the messages in "Methtacular!," which runs through Sept. 28.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Howie Mandel includes 'Bobby,' comedy highs and lows

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Howie Mandel includes 'Bobby,' comedy highs and lows
September 15, 2014 12:00 am  • 

It's been more than a decade since I've seen comedian Howie Mandel do his stage stand-up live.

Being funny is a tough business, so I commend comics for accepting the challenge of facing fickle audiences.

I'm not an easy target for finding instant funny in every comedy routine.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Chicago WGN Critic Roy Leonard helped herald NWI stage

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Chicago WGN Critic Roy Leonard helped herald NWI stage
September 14, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Longtime Chicago radio and TV personality Roy Leonard, who introduced listeners and viewers to some of America's biggest celebrities, also helped boost Northwest Indiana's theater scene.

Leonard, who died Sept. 4 at age 83, was remembered and his life celebrated on Saturday at his funeral Mass at St. Mary Catholic Church in Evanston.

Leonard, whose wife preceded him in death, had six sons, several grandchildren and a career spanned 30 years with Chicago's WGN Radio and TV as the theater and entertainment critic.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Balmoral Park in Crete ready for tonight's 2014 Super Night

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Balmoral Park in Crete ready for tonight's 2014 Super Night
September 13, 2014 12:00 am  • 

One of my favorite comedy movies is the classic 1937 Marx Brothers silly romp "A Day at the Races."

And more than 75 years later, watching Groucho, Chico and Harpo horsing around is still as funny as ever.

Every year, Times readers look forward to also "horsing around" for a very special night each September at our own Balmoral Park in Crete, billed as one of the nation's premier harness horse racing facilities. This amazing and exciting property has been around for a rich 86-year history, and tonight is the perfect opportunity to see for yourself what awaits.

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