Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: The Last Defender/The House Theatre of Chicago

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Operations Department/Photo: Johnny Knight

Operations Department/Photo: Johnny Knight

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There are two words that can make almost any regular theatergoer flinch: audience participation. The irony is unmistakable. In an art form that lives and dies on vulnerability, our threshold for discomfort is set squarely at the fourth wall. This intolerance is the theatrical equivalent of avoiding eye contact with the petitioners outside your gym. So it inspires great humility and even greater pleasure to report that the most enjoyable show currently playing in Chicago not only encourages participation but requires it. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Body/Courage/Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

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Danielle Pinnock/Photo:

Danielle Pinnock/Photo: Michael Brosilow

RECOMMENDED

Obese. Plus size. Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Curvy. Overweight. Fat.

These are some of the politer words applied to people with bodies that don’t fit into our culture’s slim definition of beauty. Personal preferences aside, it would seem that we have unanimously, though perhaps unknowingly, agreed upon some vaguely tall, skinny, pale version of beauty. And yet how often do we consider the psychological effects and homogenizing implications of this pact? Cast off the island of conventional American beauty standards, Danielle Pinnock created her own life raft in performance. In doing so, she discovered that she was far from alone. Read the rest of this entry »

Teatro Vivo: Celebrating the Works of Latina/o Artists

Festivals, Profiles, Theater, World Premiere No Comments »
José Rivera in rehearsal for "Another Word for Beauty."/Photo Liz Lauren

José Rivera in rehearsal for “Another Word for Beauty”/Photo: Liz Lauren

Goodman Theatre’s Latino Festival began in 2003 as a way to highlight the often-silenced voices of Latinos in theater. This year, the now-biennial event is a “Celebration of Latina/o Artists” and highlights the work of two of the most powerful voices in the genre–José Rivera and María Irene Fornés–among others.

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The Return of the Ring Heads: An In-Depth Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Next Season, Anchored by the Start of a New Ring Cycle

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Model of the set for Lyric's "Das Rheingold"

Model of the set for Lyric’s “Das Rheingold”

By Aaron Hunt

Lyric has announced its electric, eclectic 2016/17 season. If you’re already an operagoer, this is a major opportunity to put seldom-heard notches in your production belt. If not, this could be an exhilarating new journey where art forms merge, creating a distinctive experience.

The season begins with a new production of “Das Rheingold,” the first of four Wagner operas to be presented by Lyric, one each season, culminating in the glorious marathon of an entire “Ring Cycle” in April 2020. You could compare that event to binge-watching the complete “Star Wars” saga. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Old Friends/Raven Theatre

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Lori Myers, Andy Monson, Ron Quade, Judy Lea Steele/Photo: Dean La Prairie

Lori Myers, Andy Monson, Ron Quade, Judy Lea Steele/Photo: Dean La Prairie

The late Horton Foote’s “The Old Friends” is a play about people getting what they want. Whether jewels, booze or attention, any deprivation is fleeting. As a criticism of the privileged class, it falls short of being damning or offering much in the way of compassion. Its Midwest premiere at Raven Theatre lurches unpredictably between Miller-lite melodrama and Simon-esque satire. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Upstate/MPAACT

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UPSTATE

Juwan Lockett and Asia Martin

Waking up and turning on the news, we see the outrage over police killings and state terrorism of the black population. We do not see the mass media addressing the more insidious ways systemic racism affects minorities. One of these less-noticed cracks in the justice system: the excessive incarceration rates of young black men.

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Review: Mothers and Sons/Northlight Theatre

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Benjamin Sprunger, Jeff Parker, Ben Miiller, & Cindy Gold/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Benjamin Sprunger, Jeff Parker, Ben Miller and Cindy Gold/Photo: Michael Brosilow

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Memory is dampened by medical advances, giving succor to those who want to believe AIDS is now a manageable disease. With a generation erased, who is left to remember and tell the story? For those who remain, how much do they want to tell? Will their anger, sorrow and, yes, even their guilt allow them to power through? Who tutors subsequent generations of any minority scrambling for human rights about their history and about how much death it can take before a righteous militia insists on liberty? Is the pain that can never be transferred worth the struggle to share? Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes/Mercury Theater Chicago

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Nick Sandys and Michael Aaron Lindner/Photo: Brett Beiner

Nick Sandys and Michael Aaron Lindner/Photo: Brett Beiner

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As this sprightly new musical opens, Arthur Conan Doyle has just committed what his myriad readers see as the ultimate crime: killing off iconic super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes. “He’s been smashed to smithereens/And I don’t care a hill of beans,” flippantly sings the Scottish doctor turned writer, who is sick to death of the fictional construct who has overshadowed every other aspect of his existence. Now Holmes, along with his nemesis Professor Moriarty, lies drowned at the foot of the Reichenbach Falls, so that Doyle can live. What the good doctor fails to reckon with is the objections of his own creation, who materializes from a late-Victorian twilight zone to remonstrate with the writer about his premature demise and, incidentally, to help him solve a real-life mystery. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Buffer Overrun/Ginger Krebs

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Photo: Kevin Keane

Photo: Kevin Keane

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You’d expect to find more examples of Information Art as text printouts or video, not incorporated into dance—but that’s precisely the conceptual background against which longtime performance art and dance figure Ginger Krebs places “Buffer Overrun,” which premieres this month at the Storefront Theater. The piece is grounded in the artist’s concern for salutary self-reflection: “Everything that I set out to make cutting-edge always has a retrofuturist feel to it. No matter what. With this piece, for some reason, the eighties—I’ve had to become way more educated about what performance art was happening and what was happening in alternative theater at that time.” The project is also a recipient of a coveted Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist grant, and of numerous other development grants. “It’s the way capitalism filters down, there’s this idea, you’re going to maximize efficiency, on some level to make money for somebody, but the way that filters down and affects interpersonal relationships, that’s deeply troubling to me and I’m guilty of it,” says Krebs of her earliest contemplation of the performance, now in its final-stage settings. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Bruise Easy/American Theater Company

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Matt Farabee and Kelly O’Sullivan/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Matt Farabee and Kelly O’Sullivan/Photo: Michael Brosilow

If you ever wondered what “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” would look like as a Greek tragedy, this is your chance to find out. Set in post-housing bubble collapse California, Dan LeFranc’s “Bruise Easy” showcases a suburban world of unkempt lawns and disintegrated families. Against this backdrop, long-since-separated siblings reunite on a crumbling driveway to await the return of an absent parent. As the hours slip by they discover many an ugly truth about themselves. Read the rest of this entry »