Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Chaos, Crisis and Contradiction: Butoh and Hip-Hop meet at the Dance Center

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By Sharon Hoyer

Butoh artist Michael Sakamoto and Rennie Harris, founder/artistic director of hip-hop performance group Rennie Harris Puremovement, merge dance forces into an entrancing, emotionally potent new physical language in “Flash,” a two-man, autobiographical show that plumbs the formation of cultural identity and the power of vulnerability. Michael Sakamoto spoke about the performance in a phone interview from his home in Ohio. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Bachelors/Cole Theatre

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Shane Kenyon,      Boyd Harris and Nicholas Bailey/Photo: Nathanael Filbert

Shane Kenyon, Boyd Harris and Nicholas Bailey/Photo: Nathanael Filbert

Some dramatic concepts are more suited for a therapist’s office than a theater. Such is the case with Caroline V. McGraw’s “The Bachelors, ” a one-act eruption of fear and loathing now on display upstairs at the Greenhouse Theater.

McGraw’s essay in gross-out pseudo-realism concerns three former frat boys, now in their thirties, who can’t let go of their party-hearty pasts. These poster boys of arrested development–Kevlar, a drugged-up moron; Laurie, a neurotic weakling; and Henry, a psychopathic rapist–room together, bound by a shared misogyny and Gen X self-pity. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Butler/Northlight Theatre

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Tosin Morohunfola and Greg Vinkler/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Tosin Morohunfola and Greg Vinkler/Photo: Michael Brosilow

RECOMMENDED

Union General Benjamin Butler probably never realized that war could get so personal. Just weeks into the Civil War, he faced an unusual battle, an invasion of his intellectual, emotional and physical space by a runaway slave. How he resolved this personal battle constitutes the core conceit of “Butler,” a play based on real events that shaped the treatment of former slaves in the Union military. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Christina, The Girl King/Cor Theatre

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Toya Turner/Photo: Matthew Gregory Hollis

Toya Turner/Photo: Matthew Gregory Hollis

RECOMMENDED

It is one thing to be captivated or even moved by theater. Yet, to be excited or energized are experiences far more rare. These are reactions spurred from witnessing originality and fearlessness. Dedicated to locating “the root of courage,” Cor Theatre continues its trailblazing work with Michel Marc Bouchard’s “Christina, The Girl King.” In the hands of this gifted and brave collection of artists, this true-life struggle against the oppressive forces of religion and patriarchy comes to life with poetry, passion and polemics. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: United Flight 232/The House Theatre of Chicago

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Alice da Cunha, James Doherty, Elana Elyce and Michael E Martin/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Alice da Cunha, James Doherty, Elana Elyce and Michael E. Martin/Photo: Michael Brosilow

RECOMMENDED

I wasn’t always afraid of flying. It happened somewhere in my late teens or early twenties. All of a sudden, a trip to the airport was accompanied by an intense sensation of dread. To explain it, I would half-jokingly blame my phobia on “United 93,” the Paul Greengrass movie about the September 11 hijackings, which ends with a horrifying view from the cockpit as the titular plane hurtles toward the earth. Needless to say, I don’t watch airplane-centered movies anymore. So when I heard that The House Theatre was going to do a show about a plane crash, I knew I was going to steel myself. What I didn’t know was just how understated and graceful that production would be or how it would fill me not with dread but with hope. Read the rest of this entry »

Opening This Week: March 21-27, 2016

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The cast of "Matilda"/Photo: Joan Marcus

The cast of “Matilda”/Photo: Joan Marcus

Monday

“That’s Weird, Grandma: The Musical” at Barrel of Monkeys. A clever and funny, touching and poignant collection of songs based on the writings of CPS students. Through April 11. For tickets and more information visit barrelofmonkeys.org

Wednesday

“Arcadia” at Writers Theatre. The inaugural production at Writers Theatre’s elegant new home. Through May 1. For tickets and more information visit writerstheatre.org Read the rest of this entry »

Review: West Side Story/Paramount Theatre

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Tony and Maria in West Side Story

Zoe Nadal and Will Skrip/Photo: Liz Lauren

RECOMMENDED

Credit the Republican Party, with their nativist platform and wall-building speeches, for making this very dark and violent “West Side Story” so relevant to 2016. Often cast in stark tones of black and white (with even the dresses somewhat muted), the gangs here dance around each other with complete and utter hatred. Bearing witness to this are a few wise but powerless grownups and the police with their casual brutality. This cycle of hate is never more clear than when Maria points the gun at her cast members before aiming it, for what seems like eternity, at the audience. In that moment, forgiveness seems impossible. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Long Day’s Journey Into Night/Court Theatre

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Mary Beth Fisher and Harris Yulin/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Mary Beth Fisher and Harris Yulin/Photo: Michael Brosilow

RECOMMENDED

Of the numerous advantages to mounting a revered classic, perhaps the most underappreciated is that it actually takes the play itself largely out of the equation, freeing up the audience to focus on the production and performance of it. While there is no shortage of middling send-ups to the Western canon, occasionally there is cause for pause, when sublime forces come together in service of a transcendent vision. Such is the case with Court Theatre’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” a production that pushes itself—and, by extension, its audience—to the very threshold of expectation, art and beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Where Did We Sit on the Bus?/Teatro Vista

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Brian Quijada/Photo: Joel Maisonet

Brian Quijada/Photo: Joel Maisonet

RECOMMENDED

One of life’s greatest blessings is to give life to a tiny human whose eyes look upon you with admiration and whose arms innocently stretch toward you to lead them. That blessing, however, can come with a heck of a lot of fear and worrisome questions such as “How will I provide?” or “Do I have enough life experience to guide them in the right way?” or “If they ask who they are, how will I respond?” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: after all the terrible things I do/About Face Theatre

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Lisa Tejero and Colin Sphar/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Lisa Tejero and Colin Sphar/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Like a car attempting to start in deep winter, A. Rey Pamatmat’s “after all the terrible things I do” stutters and shakes with internal conflict. Gears grind but never fully catch. When the engine of this relentless play fails to start,  it starts the process all over again shortly thereafter. After a while it is hard to tell whether Pamatmat is motivated by spite or faith. Either way his play never manages to leave the garage. Read the rest of this entry »