If you're going to be in Chicago sometime before April 29th, and want to earn some very esoteric food snob points, you cannot miss Rick Bayless making his acting debut in Cascabel, a new play being staged by The Lookingglass Theater Company.

Yes, chef Rick Bayless, author, restaurateur and champion of Mexican regional cuisine, conceived of and has a starring role in a “theatrical feast” about love and food. During the 90-minute mixed-media extravaganza, Bayless cooks on stage, acts and even dances the tango. Since this is dinner theater, 120 audience members are also served a prix-fixe Bayless-designed menu while the theatrics and acrobatics go on around them. And here we thought L.A. had the lock on clever art/food tie-ins. We may just have been upstaged.

The story — which sounds like a Cirque Berzerk mash-up of The Cook and Like Water For Chocolate — is a “sensual tale of love and hunger.” Of course it is. The plot follows the guests at a boarding house in Mexico, where they are cooked for by a mysterious chef whose food gives them magical powers and solves some love problems. (The stretch here for us is imagining Bayless — the culinary equivalent of Dave Matthews — can come across as even remotely mystical.)

Chicago theater is very well respected, and New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood gave it a nice enough review, even if he was a bit over-the-top with his love for the food. So despite the fact this seems a bit self-indulgent, we can't help but applaud the effort. If it works, all the better. You'll have to follow the Lookingglass Theater on Twitter to get updates on tickets for the sold-out show to find out. Then maybe book a flight.

We hope they'll consider restaging this in L.A. Maybe there's some space at Red O?

We smell Food Network Holiday Special.

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LA Weekly