Sharing summer with John McGivern
Stories With John McGivern’
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111. W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights
3 p.m. July 15
Tickets are $30; $25 for seniors
Information at (847) 877-2121 or www.metropolisarts.com, or www.johnmcgivern.com
Updated: July 10, 2012 9:45PM
“You may not be a 56-year-old Irish Catholic gay man but these stories I tell are really universal to your experience,” says actor, comedian and raconteur John McGivern.
So you’ll be able to bond with the Milwaukee native when he shares some of his more entertaining childhood memories in “Summer Stories with John McGivern,” at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 15, at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.
“When I started doing this, I thought my experiences were incredibly specific, but I’ve learned that the spirit of them is the human spirit and we’ve all experienced things like this,” he said.
Among his tales is one in which he learns quite dramatically about the birds and the bees. Or at least the bees. It happened when he was a kid when staying at a summer cottage with his family.
“August is all about cottages and being north of Milwaukee and south of Canada,” he notes. But one of his most vivid memories is of his grandma revealing herself and all her female glories after bees flew up her dress.
“She stood on the pier buck naked,” he recalls. “I was young and impressionable. She was the first woman that I ever saw naked and they wonder why I’m gay.
“Yes, I’m attributing being gay to bees,” McGivern, says with a laugh.
McGivern, who’s written and performed five autobiographical one-man comedy shows since 1994, said this show will include three stories from “A Midsummer Night McGivern,” a DVD production released by Milwaukee Public Television in 2007. He’ll add three new stories about summer camp experiences and family vacations.
Though he’s never played the Metropolis before, McGivern has been to Arlington Heights before, a fact that sparks another memory. As a teen attending St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mt. Calvary, Wis., in 1969, he visited one of his fellow students, who was from Arlington Heights.
“He lived in a split level home and I thought they were rich,” he recalls. “We were raised in a duplex where you could reach out the dining room window and touch the dining room window of the house next door.”
McGivern lived and worked in Chicago from 1985-1993. He joined the cast of Chicago’s long-running production of “Shear Madness” at the Blackstone Theatre in 1986, first playing the shy cop, and then moved into the leading role of the gay hairdresser.
His first one-man show, “A Midwest Side Story,” debuted in 1994 at the now defunct Bailiwick Theatre in Chicago. It was later filmed as “The Early Stories Of John McGivern” by Milwaukee Public Television in 2009 and received an Emmy award.
McGivern adds that his Metropolis show will also cover his rambunctious, youthful salute to the 4th of July and the thrills of decorating and parading his bicycle for judging in the band shell.
“July was the most exciting month because it had the most exciting day of the year — the 4th of July,” he says. “One year I received first place and the prize was given to me by Albert the Alley Cat, the weather puppet on the Fox TV affiliate.”
That was an early brush with show biz for McGivern, who knew from a very early age that he enjoyed performing for other people. He considers that he was lucky to have his family’s support, and still does, even though he’s using his family and their stories as his show material.
In fact, he explains, his mother is delighted. “She tells me that ‘as long as you keep working it’s fine. You haven’t asked me for money since you were 12.’ ”