Natural Gas' YOU & ME Begins Tonight at The Den Theatre


Natural Gas' YOU & ME Begins Tonight at The Den Theatre

Last fall NATURAL GAS, the five-year-old house improv team of The Gift Theatre, took up an open run on Friday nights at Wicker Park's The Den Theatre, performing entirely improvised group sets in addition to their standing Wednesday night set at The Gift in Jefferson Park. Now, NATURAL GAS presents YOU & ME-a two-person, entirely improvised show featuring NATURAL GAS ensemble member/The Gift artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton with a special guest from the Chicago improv/theatre community. Upcoming performances of YOU & ME are Fridays Feb. 28 (with NATURAL GAS' Jim Kozyra), March 14 (with Susan Messing) and April 4 (with Keith Neagle) at 10:30 p.m. An ongoing schedule can be found at

YOU & ME was recently seen at Actors Theatre of Louisville. ATL Artistic Director Les Waters calls YOU & ME "Hilarious, horrifying, and human. Quite magical, really."

NATURAL GAS is the house improv team of The Gift Theatre sponsored by Fischman Liquor & Tavern that takes one suggestion from the audience to create an entirely improvised world of comedy that is wild, randy and appropriately inappropriate! Every Wednesday, 8 p.m. at The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. (at Lawrence); and Fridays, 10:30 p.m. at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets are always $5 in advance or at the door.

The Den Theatre provides a creative gathering place, an actors' and artists' den, a comfortable and affordable home to create and explore, and home to a young storefront company that shares the name. Founder and Artistic Director Ryan Martin saw a diamond in the rough when he first walked onto the bare and empty wood-floored 2nd story of 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. With the potential for innovative live performance in a neighborhood that has long been known for its creative heartbeat, this formerly empty space is now fully equipped with a bar and café, and boasts five unique, intimate theater spaces on two floors, and enveloped by a never-ending field of lounge space for audiences and like-minded culture hounds to drink, talk, read, watch, think, listen and live. In addition to The Den Theatre Ensemble, Black Box Studio, with its new conservatory program, also calls The Den home, as well as Seanachi Theatre Company. Theatre and dance companies from Chicago and beyond have also called The Den home, utilizing our theaters, mirrored studio space and easily convertible cabaret space to accommodate a stream of programming, including plays, musicals, film screenings, classical and jazz performances, dance, improv and stand-up, seminars and speaking engagements

The Gift Theatre is dedicated to telling great stories on stage with honesty and simplicity. Previous productions include: TEN 2014; Broadsword, Mine, Vigils, TEN 2013; Natural Gas' Jugband Christmas; Dirty; Oh, The Humanity (and other exclamations); Fact & Fiction; Absolute Hell; TEN; Cloud 9; Northwest Highway; Night and Her Stars; Get Behind Me, Santa!; Lonesome West; Suicide, Inc.; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Almost, Maine; Santa's Great American Depression Holiday Show! (2009 & 2010); Summer People; The Ruby Sunrise; Talk Radio; Stop/Kiss; Natural Gas; Streamers; Wit ;The Last Days of Judas Iscariot; White People; Three Sisters; The Beauty Queen of Leenane; Blithe Spirit; 365 Days/365 Plays; The Halloween Show; Long Day's Journey Into Night; The Glass Menagerie (Remount: Theatre on the Lake); The Good Thief; The Clearing; Hurlyburly; The Glass Menagerie; The Pavilion; A Young Man In Pieces; Language of Angels; 6; County Fair; The Countess; Alcatraz (Abbie Hoffman Festival); Orestes 2.0; Boys' Life. The theater also sponsors the giftED Ensemble, a rigorous two-year afterschool course for creative and motivated high school students on Chicago's Northwest side, and the literary program/Salon Series giftLIT.

The 2014 Season began in January with TEN, The Gift's annual kickoff celebration of ten-minute plays curated by artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton and associate artistic director Paul D'Addario. Following Melissa Ross' Chicago premiere of Thinner Than Water (March 27-May 25), director Jonathan Berry (Dirty) returns for The Gift's first Shakespeare production Othello, which runs July 10-August 24 and is dramaturged by Shakespeare scholar Michael Petersen, PhD. The season closes with the Chicago premiere of Laura Marks' new drama Bethany, directed by Marti Lyons, September 25-November 23. Subscriptions for the entire 2014 season, which includes two Chicago premieres, are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night "Natural Gas" improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at or call 773-283-7071.

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