The play I’m Not a Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce is currently on stage at the Mercury Theater. It’s directed by one of Chicago’s theater legends, actor Joe Mantegna.
Background: Joe Mategna has starred in movies like “Godfather 2” and television shows like “Criminal Minds.” But Mantegna’s Chicago theater roots go back to the original production of “Hair” in 1969.
- He was also part of the legendary Organic Theater, where he wrote and starred in the original Bleacher Bums.
- Mantegna currently lives in LA, but jumped at the opportunity to return to Chicago.
What they’re saying: “I was drawn to direct the play because I’m a firm believer of the fact that “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage,” Mantegna tells Axios. “When I saw my friend Ronnie Marmo do a reading of the script he had written for himself, I was convinced it was a wonderful piece and was flattered to be asked to help develop it.”
Why it matters: If there was a Mt. Rushmore of Chicago theater, Mantegna would surely be on it.
- “Whatever I have done or may do in my career starts with the fact that my roots are as a Chicago theater actor, director, and in the case of Bleacher Bums, a writer.”
Based on his roots, we asked Mantegna to give us his perfect Chicago day.
🥞 Breakfast: “In the old days it would be a trip to Ann Sather.”
🖼 Mid-morning activity: “A walk down Michigan Avenue most anywhere on the Magnificent Mile. Perhaps a stop at the Art Institute or Field Museum.”
🐄 Lunch: “Has to be a stop at Mr. Beef at 666 N. Orleans.”
⚾ Mid-afternoon: “If the season is right, it’s Wrigley Field and the Cubs.”
🚬 Late-night event: “A trip to Berwyn to visit my brother-in-law’s bar, Cigars and Stripes.
What’s next: I’m Not a Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce runs through the end of the year.