The best medicine? Storytelling and song
(From left) Singer Cathy Richardson, actress Maureen Muldoon of La Grange and storyteller Megan Wells of La Grange Park. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Featured performers are Susan O’Halloran and Cathy Richardson
7:30 p.m. March 5
Madison Street Theatre, 1010 Madison St., Oak Park
(708) 524-1892; maureenmuldoon.wix.com/voice-box
Updated: February 28, 2013 10:42AM
When Maureen Muldoon moved from Los Angeles to La Grange with her family a couple of years ago, she brought the idea of a monthly storytelling theatrical event with her.
Muldoon and her husband Will Schaub had both been successful actors for years in L.A., doing commercials and appearing on series TV, when they started going to a venue called Lit Up for date nights. There, they would listen to performers telling stories based on a common theme.
“You’d go in, pay your ten bucks, then sit there and listen to these amazing writers from the community come out and tell their stories,” she said. “It was so nourishing. So nice to disconnect from the computers and just hear someone tell a freakin’ story.
“And so much fun, too. When people put some real intention behind telling their stories, it can be really fantastic.”
That’s why Muldoon, who is considering the possibility of continuing her TV career while Schaub shifts gears as a middle-school teacher in Brookfield, has set up a similar storytelling event in Oak Park. Voice Box, which debuted last month, will continue March 5 with Susan O’Halloran of Evanston headlining a lineup of storytellers at the Madison Street Theatre. Muldoon said Madison Street Artistic Director Megan Wells of LaGrange Park, an award-winning storyteller herself, became interested in the monthly series when she pitched her “Vagina Monologues”-like musical “Booby Trapped” as a possible fall production.
The Voice Box concept is simple, but tuneful: storytelling with a song. A musical guest performs a featured song (this month, it’s Jefferson Starship’s Cathy Richardson singing “Danny Boy”), which also supplies the theme for all the evening’s stories. After the headlining performer, the musical guest performs another song suggested by the story. Next the process is repeated with two subsequent tellers and two subsequent, spontaneous songs. Finally, audience members are encouraged to contribute, though their stories must be limited to five sentences.
“The only thing I felt might have been missing from the story nights in L.A. was the possibility of sharing songs as well,” said Muldoon, who grew up in a musical Irish Catholic family in New Jersey with a father who was “an amazing storyteller who broke into song all the time.”
“I’ve always believed songs and stories are good medicine,” she said.