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Filament Theatre To Transform Community Tavern Into 'Van Gogh Cafe'

 Chef Joey Beato, Filament Artistic Director Julie Ritchey, and Community Tavern owner Quay Tao at Community Tavern where
Chef Joey Beato, Filament Artistic Director Julie Ritchey, and Community Tavern owner Quay Tao at Community Tavern where "The Van Gogh Cafe" will be performed.
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Dominick Maino

PORTAGE PARK — The Filament Theatre Ensemble and Community Tavern are joining forces to redefine what it means to head out for dinner and a show.

Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday for the group's performance of "The Van Gogh Cafe" at Community Tavern, 4038 N. Milwaukee Ave., across the street from the group's theater.

Touted by organizers as "an immersive culinary theatrical experience," the play — directed by Filament Artistic Director Julie Ritchey — will feature a five course tasting menu crafted by chef Joey Beato.

Based on Chicago playwright Andrew J. Lampl's adaption of Newberry Medalist Cynthia Rylant’s 1995 book, the play tells the story of Clara, a 10-year-old growing up in a diner owned by her father, Marc.

But the cafe is transformed after lightning strikes cause the food to cook itself and give a possum magical powers, organizers said.

The production is designed for theatergoers age 8 and older, organizers said.

Tickets are $35, including food. Performances will take place at 1 p.m. Sept. 24-25 and Oct. 1-2, and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and Oct. 3.

The production will mark the second time the ensemble has taken its show on the road.

"Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Portage Park," which closed July 23, sent audience members through the streets of Portage Park to solve a whodunit via bicycles or on foot.

The formerly itinerant ensemble moved to Portage Park in 2013 and transformed the former furniture warehouse at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave. into a performance venue.

The group's theater has become a community hub in the Six Corners Shopping District, an effort endorsed by Ald. John Arena (45th), who has been working to turn the long-struggling area around Milwaukee Avenue, Cicero Avenue and Irving Park Boulevard into an arts and entertainment district.

Kelli Weffenstette, the executive director of the Six Corners Association, credits the theater with adding to the "vitality, visibility and excitement" of the shopping district, where nearly two dozen new businesses have opened in recent years.

For more information, email boxoffice@filamenttheatre.org go to filamenttheatre.org or call 773-270-1660.

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