A Chicago Success Story

Q: What do you get when you excel in theater comedy for a decade in Chicago?

A: This page.

From the mid eighties to the mid nineties, a small group of Chicago Improvisational actors formed a cabaret troupe, forged from the classes of The Second City and invaded a tiny pub on Fullerton Avenue called The Roxy. The result was a decade long love affair with critics and audiences alike.

From the very first musical / comedy revue, "Near Northside Story", the Illegitimate Players proved their staying power. After convincing The Roxy owners to share their back room, converting it into a black box theater, their first revue ran for over a year under the direction of Second City's own Don DePollo. The consistent sell-out audiences prompted Group W Cable to tape the revue for Midwest television broadcast. This endeavor wrangled a Chicago Emmy Award. This taste for telecast was soon followed by video pieces for Chicago WTTW's "Image Union" program. Also performing semi-regularly on radio's Q101. And thus it had begun.

"Near Northside Story" was answered by two other well received revues, "Out on a Whim" and "Illegitimate Players Live." But already the "IllGits" were branching out. To better finance their endeavors, they incorporated as "The Comedy Option" to write, video and perform for corporation's rollout and sales meetings. They became regular client's for many Fortune 500 corporations including First Chicago Bank, Abbot Labs, Boston Mass Mutual ...

Their Emmy award brought Group W Cable back to pitch a series for the tri-state area. That offer soon became "The Illegitimate Players On TV." A 26 week sketch comedy lambasting the television industry. Along with the live revue, the television show and the corporate shows, they took on weekly hosting at Chicago's "Catch a Rising Star" downtown. Pacing … pacing.

The Illegitimate Players started working in longer form pieces and soon abandoned revue comedy to embark on a string of literary parodies for the legitimate stage. From their first full length play "The Glass Mendacity", it was clear that critics liked what they saw. At productions end, these parodies were taped by TCI of Illinois for Midwest broadcast. Their works were published first by Chicago Plays Inc. and currently by Broadway Publishing Inc. These stories live on in productions all over the country and the UK.

After a successful string of literary parodies, The ‘IllGits’ embarked on original, non-parody, pieces such as "Mystery Date", "Pandora Skulnk Won't Come Out of the House" and "Cheese Louise."

Along the way they received several Joseph Jefferson awards, WIC (Women in Cable) and the coveted ACE award (Award for Cable Excellence.)

This site explores their fascinating ride

[L to R:  ACE Award  /  WIC Award / Joeseph Jefferson (Jeff) / WIC Award]

Copyright 2012 - Keith Cooper / Cooperweb