William Shakespeare was the son of a leatherworker. Billy Shakes slanged the lingo with diction and confabulations like swagger, invulnerable, assassination, dexterous, madcap, mountaineer, moonbeam and gnarled. B. Shizzle banged out lines and rhymes with beats that spoke so hard they never stopped. Shazam was the first and best rapper and the Q Brothers pay respect to the one we call the Bard in “Othello: The Remix,” which returns to the turf on which it premiered in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »
Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “Othello” is a man’s play in a man’s world. It opens with Iago and Roderigo, average white dudes in baseball caps and leather jackets, talking smack about the Moor Othello and heckling aged skinhead Brabantio about his wayward daughter Desdemona’s proclivity for dark meat through the intercom system of his cement-block apartment complex. Men are lewd, Shakespeare never hesitates to remind us in a play that presents miscegenation, cuckoldry and adultery as its primary anxieties. The men in this production, directed by Jonathan Munby, make sure we know it, particularly Michael Milligan’s sneering, overemphatic Iago, who manically mimes everything from tupping an ewe to putting money in one’s purse. Read the rest of this entry »
“A Loss of Roses” at Raven Theatre. The “nearly-lost classic” from William Inge returns to Chicago. Through April 2. For tickets and more information visit raventheatre.com
“Romeo and Juliet” at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The new to Chicago take on Shakespeare’s infamous tale of love and death closes Lyric’s memorable season. Through March 19. For tickets and more information visit lyricopera.org
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“Out with the old, in with the new,” is one of the many well-intentioned platitudes you hear frequently this time of year. Personally, I find that type of sharp-turn resolution a bit difficult to manage. As I see it, change is fluid; the past informs the present and portends the future. Newness grows organically out of the well-tilled soil of history. This also happens to be the way I think about Chicago’s arts community. The open terrain currently being transformed by our promising young upstarts would not exist had the heavy lifters of previous years not worked to cultivate it. And so it is in this space that we honor both parties by highlighting the artists who have served as great beacons and those whose stars are just beginning to rise. What follows is the current crop of our city’s fifty most moving, most shaking, most dream-making Players in theater, dance, comedy and opera. Make a resolution you actually want to keep: check them out! (Kevin Greene)
Players was written by Zach Freeman, Kevin Greene, Sharon Hoyer, Aaron Hunt and Loy Webb
Photos by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux Read the rest of this entry »
‘Tis the season for tradition and “A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol,” now in its third year at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is easily on its way to becoming just that. Mining the Dickens classic for parody, the show still manages to let some of the original’s sentimentality flow such that when Ebenezer Scrooge has his anticipated change of heart toward the play’s end, the audience lights up with the emotional payoff that comes from witnessing redemption.
Up until that point, viewers are sure to be tickled by the novelty of seeing such a familiar tale transformed into a modern hip-hop mash-up. Jacob Marley is damned to a hell of reggae music. Scrooge’s nephew is obsessed with “three words, four syllables… CHARADES ALL NIGHT!” while his nephew’s boyfriend uses hashtags like ubiquitous prefixes. Read the rest of this entry »
To be a teenager is to be a creature of extremity. Not only your body but your emotions and ideas and opinions are expanding with the rush and fury of a newborn universe—your own private big bang. In telling the stories of six Canadian teenagers whose lives ended with absurd abruptness aboard a rickety wooden roller coaster, “Ride the Cyclone” also embodies their joyfully frantic mid-pubescent energy. Written by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell, the show is a modern cult classic in Canada. This beautiful, effusive production from Rachel Rockwell marks its very welcome U.S. premiere. Read the rest of this entry »
With all the magic in Shakespeare’s plays, “The Tempest” still stands out for its wizardry, with the magician Prospero using supernatural forces to both seek revenge and achieve closure for past wrongs done to him. So it makes a piquant kind of sense for world-renowned magician Teller (the silent half of the Penn & Teller duo) to choose to co-adapt/direct (along with Aaron Posner) this particular show by the bard. Read the rest of this entry »
You know what they say: Every time a mime speaks a Dickensian orphan gets sucked into a jet turbine and blasted out the other side as just a scream. However, it is that cozy time of year when the hopes and dreams of summer die and we artists start making people go into weird rooms and watch us do and say things. Not every show can be the immersive interactive ever-changing theatrical wonderland tour de force that my show is. Newcity theater editor Zach Freeman has provided a fine fall stage preview. However, I feel I can offer a few tips—or rather “things”—to do to spice things up on a chilly fall evening at the theater (elaborate hand gesture).
If you don’t want to do my “things” I can understand. All you have to do is something that is even better. So long as you do something. Because, something must be done. Otherwise you would do nothing. Except maybe drink a box of wine, poke that old bag of mulch laying in bed next to you, and call it a night. (Honeybuns) Read the rest of this entry »
David Greig’s “Dunsinane” is a play playing three different games at once. The first game is that the play is a kinda-sorta sequel to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The second game is that it is kinda-sorta a parable for the US and UK’s nation-building misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The third game is that “Dunsinane” is most definitely a look inward at the Scottish national character. A ballad for a conquered nation, it trains a sharp critical eye at the motivations of the conquerors and an even sharper one at its own—oftentimes bloody—refusal to be conquered. I can imagine many a production of this play that would not be able to win all three games at once. But the National Theatre of Scotland, in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company, delivers one that sweeps the board; and thanks to Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s World’s Stage program it’s doing so at Navy Pier this month. Read the rest of this entry »