Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: Pop Waits/The Neo-Futurists

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Molly Brennan and Malic White/Photo: Joe Mazza @ Brave Lux

Molly Brennan and Malic White/Photo: Joe Mazza-Brave Lux

RECOMMENDED

Iggy Pop. Tom Waits. Two musicians whose only direct connection is Jim Jarmusch’s cult classic “Coffee and Cigarettes.” And yet they have plenty in common as icons of creativity and persona. Through their work they have encouraged listeners of all ages to tear it up and let it go in thought and in deed. Two such fans that have taken their lessons fully to heart? Molly Brennan and Malic White. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Glass Menagerie/The Hypocrites

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Joanne Dubach and Zach Wegner/Photo: Evan Hanover

Joanne Dubach and Zach Wegner/Photo: Evan Hanover

“The Glass Menagerie” comes with its own set of built-in values. Mounting it is like renting a vintage sports car. It is a luxurious, time-tested play that is bound to garner attention whether you launch it out of a reputable regional playhouse or a metropolitan storefront. Yet it is easy to be too attentive to Williams’ anti-magic act, to swoon too deeply for the charms of his play. With their current production, The Hypocrites fall hard for this national treasure. The feelings, evidently, are not mutual.  Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mutt/Stage Left Theatre and Red Tape Theatre

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Daniel Smith and Mary Williamson/Photo: Tom McGrath.

Daniel Smith and Mary Williamson/Photo: Tom McGrath

RECOMMENDED

It’s hard to say anything about anything especially if you’re trying to say something without offending anyone. Taking aim at the media machine that filters out crazy-making gobbledygook, “Mutt,” a Stage Left and Red Tape collaboration, skewers the politeness—stemming from each party’s intense desire for race to be a non-issue—that keeps the national conversation about race in such shallow shoals. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: American Buffalo/Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company

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Richard Cotovsky, Stephen Walker and Rudy Galvan/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Richard Cotovsky, Stephen Walker and Rudy Galvan/Photo: Michael Brosilow

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A junk shop: an assemblage of bric-a-brac, objects not all broken but beyond their first use—typewriters, two-headed ceramic aliens and toasters as well as other kitsch and fixer-uppers. Such a setting lays out the residue of human wishes, just as a theater shop accumulates the residue of its productions. It’s as the thick jumble of Don’s Resale Shop that Angel Island ends nearly three decades housing Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company. Their production of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” is their last before the unstoppable force of “urban renewal” trades a liquor shop lit like a roadside saloon fifty miles from Vegas and one of Chicago’s longest-standing storefront theaters for condominiums. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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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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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

RECOMMENDED

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 »