From ‘Late Night Catechism’ to today, Vicki Quade has done it her way


Vicki Quade will be back on stage next weekend in a show she calls “Christmas Bingo: It’s a Ho-Ho-Holy Night,” a holiday twist on her “Bible Bingo” that’s been circulating around town for a decade. . Quade will share the role of Mary Margaret O’Brien with actors Rose Guccione and Kathleen Puls Andrade, each able to weave an interactive spell and ask viewers questions such as “Did Santa keep baby Jesus ?

This comedy, one of many Quade shows to have a home at the Greenhouse Theater Center (more at, arrives Friday for a six-week stint. It was yet another interesting life stage that Quade chose for herself, shaping a career as a writer, actor and producer that made her, as Will Clinger, the host of PBS’s “Wild Travels,” “a Chicago treasure with a constant curiosity about the world around it.

These and other words of praise appear on the cover of Quade’s book, “Close Encounters of a Chicago Kind” (Eckhartz Press), which is lively and typically observant, its basis being formed by the brief stories Quade had posted on Facebook. for a decade. .

Quade is best known as the co-creator of a theatrical marvel called “Late Night Catechism,” but within this book are vivid examples of what guided her life and career. As she writes, “We’re curious people…I think we’re open and friendly. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with complete strangers, whether it’s online at the movies, sitting in a restaurant, sharing an elevator.

In a pleasant way, this book feels like a memory, as she writes about delivering newspapers, stopping at Manny’s for “some kreplach soup and good rye bread”, her favorite childhood toy , a “Rin Tin Tin dog, with a plush body and a plastic head. I took him everywhere with me,” and some heartfelt observations from the early months of the pandemic: “A dear friend passed away today… no funeral planned. Just on online dating. …God, I hate this pandemic. I want to share my grief, but all I can do is share it in the privacy of my living room Is this sharing Where did my sorrow go?

She looks back on her childhood growing up in the Southwest, attending St Albert the Great Catholic School and Queen of Peace High School in Burbank.

She attended Moraine Valley Community College and graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in journalism. “I loved writing and I loved telling stories,” she told me. She has worked for daily newspapers, written for national magazines and most other publications in the region. She also spent a dozen years as a correspondent for Newsweek. She would marry and have three grown children, Michael, David and Catherine.

In the early 1990s, she collaborated with her friend, actress Maripat Donovan, and created the one-woman interactive play “Late Night Catechism.” Later that same year it moved to the theater’s main stage, there to be reviewed in the Chicago Tribune by critic Sid Smith who called it “a strange, flawed, uneven but ultimately seductive show that tries to play in both ways and pretty much gets away with it”. with that.” Favorable words but they barely hinted at what was to become one of Chicago’s greatest theatrical achievements.

The “late night catechism” was a phenomenon. Starring Donovan as a sarcastic and wise nun named Sister, it moved from Live Bait to the Organic, Zebra Crossing and Ivanhoe theaters before moving to the Royal George Theater Center. He had extensive tours in over 20 cities including New York, Seattle, New Orleans and Los Angeles. He has played in countries all over the world and he still plays weekends at the Greenhouse.

Donovan and Quade would collaborate on other pieces but neither would capture the magic. And in 2005, the couple got into a nasty row, with a court battle finally settled over who wrote the play and who owned the character of Sister. (By the way, over the decades the show has also raised over $3 million for the retirement funds of various orders of nuns.)

This is Quade’s second book. The first was “I Remember Bob Collins” from the 2000s, a rather moving collection of stories from the family, colleagues, friends and fans of the WGN radio personality who died in a plane crash in February 2000.

She’s happy to be back on stage, an experience she told me was “fabulous…scary wonderful.” She thinks her new book could also find a place on stage. “I’ve worked on adapting some stories for the theatre,” she told me. “I’m still working and I like it.”

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