Recall, if you will, the factors that distinguish Clark Kent from his alter-ego Superman. Yes, Clark gruffly rips open his button-down to reveal that iconic spandex “S,” but that’s not what gets the identity ball rolling. Personally, I relish the moment Christopher Reeve’s’ Kent removes his spectacles, sometimes with slow hesitation, other times in dramatic haste, to the awestruck gasps of crowds who’d labored under the misapprehension that he was a busybody Rick Moranis with strangely developed pectorals. It’s cheesy, but there is a power in that simple apotheosis from zero to hero, especially for me, an actually sight-challenged glasses wearer.
Constantine Maroulis’ transition (if it can truly be called a transition) from the meek Dr. Jekyll into the supposed-to-be monstrous and murderous Mr. Hyde in the laughably terrible pre-Broadway tour of “Jekyll & Hyde” is silly too, but uncomfortably so. The good doctor adorns a sensible pony tail, and after being hooked up unspecifically to nuclear green tubules, whips back his shiny hair with the practiced gusto of a “Rock of Ages” veteran. And voila! Mr. Hyde, I think. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Adam Veness
The early works of Andrew Lloyd Webber incorporated rock and pop idioms into the Broadway musical that, taken with the punchy lyrics of his early partner Tim Rice and a through-composed virtually operatic style, brought new life into the genre that would be widely emulated. And yet, an irony demonstrated with a show such as 1989’s “Aspects of Love” is that Lloyd Webber, a gifted if derivative melodist, might well have been more at home composing more traditional musicals all along.
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Photo: Liz Lauren
Adding to its previously announced production of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” starring David Cromer and directed by Nick Bowling, TimeLine Theatre Company has added two more productions to its 2013-14 season, with one final slot (January 14 to April 6) yet to be announced. Read the rest of this entry »
Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe has announced their 2013-2014 season, including a classic play, two Midwest premieres, an American premiere and a world premiere. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Matthew Gregory Hollis
“I was born for a storm and a calm does not suit me,” said war-hero-turned-president Andrew Jackson, a man whose personal and political lives were both defined by tumult. His ferocious worldview would surely be echoed by the vicious though resoundingly human title character of William Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus,” which is receiving an ideal production by The Hypocrites at the Chopin Theatre.
Entering a space covered in soft, gray carpet imparts an illusion of ease. Maybe the bounce of your foot against the plush floor will mimic the play’s own delighted buoyancy of language and plot. Not so in this basement battlefield. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo courtesy Amber Bliss
Two extraordinary companies—San Francisco’s Alonzo King LINES Ballet (ethereal, neoclassical) and Chicago’s own Hubbard Street (grounded, contemporary)—merge into a supergroup of virtuosic dancers for a new piece choreographed by King. Glenn Edgerton, artistic director of Hubbard Street, proposed the collaboration—unorthodox for companies of this size and profile—and King agreed, creating a nine-part work for a combined group of twenty-eight dancers entitled “AZIMUTH.” The piece premiered last week on the West Coast to warm reviews and this week the companies come to colder climes for a run at the Harris. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Matthew Murphy
By Johnny Oleksinski
Just over a year has passed since “Hit The Wall” began an acclaimed and popular world premiere in the Steppenwolf Garage Rep. On opening night last February, after a seven-hour-long marathon of shows, the Stonewall Riots-set play jolted a fatigued and overloaded audience with its immersive, momentous, youthful tribute to the movers and shapers of the past and its heartfelt reflection of the struggles still being fought today.
The quality that transitions most affectingly from The Inconvenience’s production in Chicago to the play’s new Off-Broadway incarnation, which opened tonight at the Barrow Street Theatre, is the boundless energy.
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Rachael Miller, Jessica Saxvik/Photo: Joe Mazza
Sherry (Jessica Saxvik), the ninth victim of serial killer The Marrying Man (Robert Montgomery), attempts to distract her assailant with a series of stories that sample numerous backgrounds: sci-fi, film noir, fantasy, romantic comedies, and family dramas. Scheherazade of “1,001 Nights” is updated and immersed into an American pop-culture soup, with compelling results.
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Photo: Andrew Eccles
The world-renowned Ailey company will stop in Chicago for a rigorous week-and-a-half of performances, allotting them time to showcase old and new, American and European, contemporary and modern, narrative and abstract, jazz, classical, gospel, pop and hip-hop. The programs slated for Ailey’s ten-day run are an ambitious collection of eight stylistically diverse pieces spanning decades and continents. Highlights? Hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris’ gospel-house scored “Home,” inspired by people living with HIV; the first performance of “The Lion King” choreographer Garth Fagan’s “From Before” by a company besides his own; and the first time the Ailey dancers perform “Petite Mort” by Jiri Kylian, the influential director of Nederlands Dans Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Sooz Main
Prolific Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse’s body of work, while performed with great frequency in Europe, is rarely seen on American stages. I wouldn’t interpret that as qualitative commentary on the plays themselves, but a cross-cultural hesitance that Akvavit Theatre was formed in order to amend. Watching three Fosse pieces performed in English by Akvavit illuminates both the writer’s style—heightened subtextual landscapes with deep-running emotionality, obscure and repetitive speech atop abstract timelines—and the extreme difficulty of performing it here in the States, for both artist and audience.
It is challenging to discern whether the communicative roadblocks lie with Fosse, Kyle Korynta’s rigidly formal translations, the creative team, we the audience or a combination of the aforementioned, but this seasonal trio—”A Summer’s Day,” “Autumn Dream” and plain old “Winter”—is awfully frustrating in its chilly disconnect, no matter the titular season. Fosse’s mechanics, including verbal repetitions and life cycles, are not fully embodied by this presentation, given the title “Gjenganger,” which requires the audience to exhaustively work in order to maintain investment. And the performances wade around the fjord, not pensively, but indecisively. Read the rest of this entry »