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Photograph: CC/Flickr/Brian Holsclaw

‘Bleacher Bums’ returns as Cubs head toward postseason

Written by
Kris Vire

The Chicago Cubs are an apparent lock to make the playoffs, which still feels like a crazy thing to type out loud. But the erstwhile Lovable Losers ended August with a 22-6 record—the most games the team has won in any single month since 1945, which you might recall was the last year the Cubs went to the World Series. Now, to coincide with the 2016 Cubs’ race for the pennant (and—gulp—beyond), a local theater group is reviving a quintessential Chicago play that’s all about the undying hope of the team’s most loyal fans.

Bleacher Bums, conceived by actor and Cubs superfan Joe Mantegna for the seminal Organic Theater Company in the late 1970s, depicts the close-knit community of die-hards and oddballs who filled the right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field day game after day game. The original production opened in 1977, with Mantegna and Dennis Franz among the cast. An actor-director by the name of Nich Radcliffe, producing under the name Open Space Theatre, has announced plans for a new staging at the Pride Arts Center’s Broadway Theater, blocks away from the real Wrigley. It's set to run September 22–November 6, concurrent with the baseball postseason. (Radcliffe’s production will use a later revision of the script, set in 1997 with references to then-current players like Sammy Sosa and Kerry Wood.)

Is a Bleacher Bums revival a good omen for the current Cubs, or a potential jinx? We’ll just remind Radcliffe what Cubs fan John Belushi said to Organic director Stuart Gordon in 1977 (as quoted in former Tribune theater critic Richard Christiansen’s book A Theater of Our Own): “If the Cubs lose, I’ll kill you.” Tickets go on sale Monday, September 5 via Brown Paper Tickets.

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