“What the hell is Mike Tyson gonna do up here on stage tonight?”
This is the thought that Tyson attributes to every member of the audience early on in “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.” And from the rowdy reaction of the large collection of fans and other interested parties gathered in the Cadillac Palace Theatre Friday night for the first of a two-night stint in Chicago for this traveling one-man show that has already run on Broadway and in Las Vegas, it seems he knows how to read a crowd.
So, does this show, in fact, consist only of the “undisputed truth?” Well, anything you say is undisputed when you’re speaking into a microphone and there’s no one else on stage to argue with you. And whether everything Tyson says during the course of the evening is undisputable or not is not the point. Undoubtedly former boxer Mitch Green and Tyson’s ex-wife Robin Givens would relish a chance to tell their sides of some particularly juicy stories.
But “Undisputed Truth,” written by Tyson’s wife Kiki Tyson and directed by Spike Lee, is more of a confessional autobiography, a subjective recounting of personal stories in an undisputedly intriguing life, than it is an argument for absolute truth. In fact, the title that Tyson jokingly declares he originally wanted to give the show—“Boxing, Bitches and Lawsuits”—may actually be more appropriate. Read the rest of this entry »
How far will an outside producer go in dropping crucial elements in transposing an outside production to Chicago? How much will be lost in making the transition, particularly when it comes from New York?
When it comes to the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” apparently quite a bit. The show had always been performed here with some half the number of Rockettes seen at Radio City and with canned music versus the live orchestra that one can experience in New York. But in bringing the show back to the area for the first time in four years, elements that nonetheless made the show, well, spectacular, are noticeably absent this year. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Paul Natkin
Opening with a string of guys diving through hoops and closing with an insanely impressive spectacle by the Chinese motorcycle troupe “Imperial Thunder,” this show forgoes any form of forced plot development to focus on seventy-five minutes of nonstop acrobatics, juggling and generally amazing feats—all staged in front of a backdrop of twinkling stars that constantly shift from one color to another. Read the rest of this entry »
Calling itself the “metropolitan” version of “A Prairie Home Companion,” this monthly live radio-show-cum-podcast takes what Garrison Keillor has been doing for decades and adapts it for a younger, hipper crowd, throwing in more laughs (and more swearing). Led with a mix of wide-eyed earnestness and subtle cynicism by artistic director and head writer Matt Lyle, “The City Life Supplement” even has its very own Lake Wobegone: the fictional north Chicago neighborhood of Ravens Park, where you can get a five-dollar haircut from a Serbian named Milos or listen to your favorite hipster soap opera “As the World Sighs” (set in Wicker Park, natch). Read the rest of this entry »
Anyone who grew up in the western suburbs since the 1920s knows about “Peabody’s Tomb,” as Mayslake was referred to for decades. The sprawling, wooded estate was built by coal baron Francis S. Peabody who died suddenly on the property while hunting in 1922 and was buried in an ornate chapel built right on the spot where he fell.
Peabody’s thirty-room Tudor mansion became a Catholic retreat house run by the Franciscan order called the Mayslake Retreat Center. But the mansion and surrounding property was considered haunted and it became a common dare to sneak onto the property and get a glimpse of Peabody in his glass coffin, urban legend said, with his money surrounding him, but not to be caught by the monks who monitored the property and who would make trespassers pray on their knees on a cold floor all night in the chapel.
“Searching for Peabody’s Tomb” takes all of this local lore and turns it into an interactive tour through the memorable mansion itself in search of the tomb of the man who occupied it some ninety years ago now.
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After its debut performance last year at the Odeum Sports & Expo Center in west suburban Villa Park, the Asylum Xperiment is back for a second jaunt in what is shaping up to be an annual Halloween tradition.
The Asylum Xperiment is a post-millennial incarnation of the short-lived but never-to-be-forgotten Asylum Experience in Berwyn in the late 1990s, a haunted house unlike any other that was steeped not in shock and gore, but in imagination and creepiness. The lines would run around the block at this time of year, surrounding the Victorian tower with a hearse in front of it as the lucky elite who were ushered in were slowly treated to disturbing and eye-popping scenes from room to room that were exquisite in their macabre detail, courtesy of Dave Link. Read the rest of this entry »
Bruce Arntson, Jenny Littleton/Photo: Doug Blemker
Where sullen indie rockers mope in their music and, it seems, throughout their offstage lives, country musicians seem perfectly capable of belting out song after song on stage about the most depressing subjects—lost love, betrayal, poverty—and then snapping back to chipper patter. They never seem to confuse life with performance.
It is this juxtaposition that provides the hilarious undercurrent for the honky-tonk that’s taken over the Royal George Cabaret, wherein past-his-smalltime-prime country legend Doyle teams up with his “third Debbie,” this one a young single mother freshly discovered performing at a VFW hall. Their stories of mutual heartbreak and often deluded dreams unfold as banter between songs, a set list that has the audience howling uproariously at unabashedly honest tunes that work so well by pushing familiar themes into (just barely) unfamiliar territory, like “When You’re Screwing Other Women (Think of Me).” The catchy melodies and sharp lyrics are delivered by a couple of terrific country singers without a trace of the hipster irony that would have ruined the show. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann
Every once in a while, I ponder the life of a one-hit wonder. What’s it like to have a big but brief shining moment in your youth and then never again do anything with an impact that comes even close? It sounds like a depressing life and, yet, few of us will ever have one such moment.
In her comedic monologue “Wishful Drinking,” Carrie Fisher answers my question when she declares that “George Lucas ruined my life” when he cast her as Princess Leia in “Star Wars” at the age of nineteen. Not that she was ever a stranger to the glare of publicity, having been born with a silver microphone in her hand as the daughter of Hollywood darlings Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, who ran away with Elizabeth Taylor, creating heartbreak for Debbie and material for Carrie. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Sean Williams
As one who’s been bored at the circus in nearly all of its manifestations the last few outings, I was pleasantly surprised by the Chinese import, Cirque Shanghai, whose production this summer at Navy Pier is entitled “Extreme.”
Essentially a fast-paced and carefully choreographed showcase for Chinese acrobatics and tumbling, with ample Oriental trappings, this show is not one for the very wee pals, since it is devoid of animals and mostly absent clowns and slapstick humor, but rather for the kids and adults who can appreciate what the human body is capable of doing, and is doing onstage. Apparently the “Extreme”-ness comes from the grand finale motorcycles-in-a-globe bit, which is a familiar circus act taken up several notches here.
At seventy intermissionless minutes, the show avoids the tendency that plagues most circuses to linger on a bit too long, making for a very pleasant evening in the open summer air of the Skyline Stage, whose days are apparently numbered based on recent civic pronouncements. (Brian Hieggelke)
At Navy Pier’s Skyline Stage, 600 East Grand, (800)745-3000. Through September 5. $15-$32.50.
Photo: Lorena Minor
Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes makes challenging multidisciplinary theater, with long-running seasons that sell out in Mexico City. They have also increasingly become an intensive touring company known for characteristic rigorous research and self-aware discovery. Past shows in Chicago include “The Grey Automobile” at the 2003 Latino Theater Festival, which marked their Chicago debut, and “Monsters and Prodigies: The History of the Castrati,” their debut at MCA Stage in 2005.
This month they return in arguably their most exciting theatrical piece to date, in collaboration with the Chicago experimental music ensemble MAVerick. That’s because “El Gallo (the rooster): Opera for Actors,” which premiered at Festival de Mexico en el Centro Historico in March 2009 and was performed for a long season in Mexico City before its current tour, is a piece about the rehearsal period of a music piece for a concert. Co-created with British composer Paul Barker, the theater company merges the forms of theater and contemporary music through scenes of rehearsal, where the process is the core of the story—oh, and it’s sung entirely in a made-up language.
Founding director Claudio Valdés Kuri explains: “What you actually see is the rehearsal period of the piece for a concert, with an audition, the third rehearsal, the middle period of the rehearsal, the last rehearsal and then the performance. In this way, the audience shares the process.” Read the rest of this entry »