A Great Voice! Tyson Motsenbocker Opening for Colony House and Switchfoot at House of Blues Houston (March 16, 2019)

As Tyson Motsenbocker sings, it quickly becomes clear that he has a great voice. With just a microphone and his acoustic guitar, he fills the House of Blues with his beautiful music. He draws you in with his charm and his comfort on stage. Before you know it, his short 30 minute set is over.
After Colony House performs, he returns to the stage to talk about the charity he supports, Food for the Hungry. With them, he traveled to Bangladesh with Switchfoot as a volunteer to help the children there break the cycle of poverty.
During Switchfoot’s encore, he returned again to help sing “Native Tongue”. It’s clear he has bonded with the band and they have brought him in under their wing.
Quinn Delaney
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Review: A Bronx Tale at The James M. Nederlander Theatre (Through March 24, 2019)

There’s a reason this show was completely snubbed by the Tonys and received zero nominations. It’s a dud. Let’s start with the good. The dancing is high-energy, acrobatic and a thrill to see. Richard H. Blake, who originated the role of Lorenzo, turns in a notable performance. But that’s it. The book is terrible. The songs are instantly forgettable. Every joke lands flat. The plot is thin and tired.

The show’s marketing clings to a quote that bills the show as “a combination of ‘Jersey Boys’ and ‘West Side Story,’” a lazy observation based on the fact that there are men crooning under street lamps and an interracial love story. But the show does not even tangentially approach the level of quality of either musical. Or whereas “Guys and Dolls” gives us the timeless “Luck Be a Lady,” this show gives us the painful “Roll ‘Em” with lyrics like “shut your trap or get in the crapper.”

 

If you loved the film version of the story and you never see musicals, go ahead and buy a ticket. Otherwise, save your money.

 

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Get tickets for A Bronx Tale through March 24th.
Cost of a ticket: $33 to $94
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Don’t Bother
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Dramatic and Funny! The Humans at Alley Theatre in Houston (Through March 24, 2019)

The Humans is about a family gathering in New York City on Thanksgiving. They are celebrating at the new duplex of the daughter and her boyfriend. Her mother is upset that they are moving in together before they are married. Her father doesn’t seem to mind, but he has a secret that he is very hesitant to share. Her sister has a chronic illness that caused her to lose her job and maybe her girlfriend too. Lastly, the grandmother is suffering from dementia.

 

Given the magnitude of the various interpersonal dynamics between the characters and the life complexities they are faced with, this play results in a stimulating experience for the audience. Additionally, it is also packed with continuous humor. It’s a real slice of life play that draws you in slowly with great dialog and excellent acting. The two-story set excellently recreates a duplex in Manhattan. The sounds of the neighbors and the trash compactor set the scene very well. While the title at first seems quite generic, it actually describes the play quite well in its simplicity.

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When the boyfriend mentions that this is quite a Thanksgiving experience, the mother says that he should just wait for Christmas! Here’s hoping for a sequel that invites the audience back for that dinner! This winner of the Tony Award for Best Play in 2016 surely deserves it.

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Get tickets now for The Humans through March 24th!

Cost of a ticket: $40
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Review: The Gift Theatre Presents Doubt at Steppenwolf Theatre (Through March 31, 2019)

A nun suspects the priest is engaging in inappropriate behavior with an altar boy. After the boy met with the priest, his breath smelled of alcohol and he acted strangely. The priest completely denies these allegations. The nun wonders what to do with this limited evidence. Is he innocent until proven guilty or is a suspicious circumstance enough to evict him?

 

Trailer for the 2008 film version featuring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman

In this performance, Mary Ann Thebus plays the nun. She is often holding a script. She has had trouble remembering the lines due to medication she is currently on. They do have an understudy. While her passion for theatre is admirable as it allows her to preserve through these difficulties, in tonight’s production, the director should have utilized the understudy as it caused too much distraction impacting the quality of the performance. On the other hand, Michael Patrick Thornton is fantastic as the accused priest. His acting style is so smooth and he draws in attention expertly.

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The setup is very intimate in Steppenwolf’s smallest stage. The audience is split into two sets of seating areas with the stage in between. For those in the 2nd row or further back, their view is partially blocked by other people. In multiple scenes, the actors stand at opposite ends of the stage talking to each other. The audience is forced to swivel their heads back and forth like a tennis match. This could have been set up much better.

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Despite the issues, the powerful script by John Patrick Shanley shines through. It’s still a good show, but it could have been much better.

Get tickets now for Doubt through March 31st.

Cost of a ticket: $58

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney

Aaron Neville at City Winery Chicago (March 4, 2019)

Aaron Neville’s set consists of mostly covers including “Stand By Me”, “Killing Me Softly”,  “Just the Way You Are”, and “Georgia”. For just about every song, he cuts it off short. Perhaps this is to get more songs in? Also, within the songs, he cuts each note short. It’s especially evident during “Tell It Like It Is” when the audience is still singing a note and he has stopped. During a few moments, you can hear his iconic voice, but these are few and far between.

On this tour he is accompanied by Michael Goods on piano. He is a talented musician, but he shows no emotion at all while playing. Even during his great solos, his head is down with no expression on his face.

Suffice it to say, this show was a bit disappointing.

 

Cost of a ticket: $75 – $95

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Go for Free

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney

Beautiful! Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Malpaso Dance Company at Auditorium Theatre (March 2, 2019)

Cloudline (2017)

Choreography by Robyn Mineko Williams

This fantastic piece features a giant billowing sheet that the performers constantly move up and down creating a cloudline appearance. The dancers move around smoothly as if they are dancing in the clouds. It’s such a romantic image. You could also say the couples are dancing between the sheets.

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Elemental (World Premier)

Choreography by Robyn Mineko Williams

This dance is a beautiful piece of art. It creates a raw feeling of humans moving with their animal instincts in an elemental fashion. The performers move with such grace that it creates a sense of peace. The choreographer traveled to Havana, Cuba to work with the Malpaso Dance Company to create this dance. As she says, “The piece is a true representation of the cultural exchange that this process has been.”

Malpaso Dance Company, photo by Cheryl Mann (6)

© Rachel Aka Photography 2019

Get tickets now for the Summer Series at the Harris Theatre, June 6, 8, and 9!

Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Haven Theatre Presents The Total Bent at The Den Theatre (Through March 17, 2019)

A record producer from London comes to Montgomery, Alabama to record an album by Marty Roy, a rising musical star. Marty is the son of Joe Roy, a gospel star with a big personality. Marty does his best to distance himself from his father and create his own music and style.

The music in this show is fantastic. It’s rock and roll with a gospel flavor. The entire cast sings expertly supported by a full band on stage. It’s an impressive performance of 100 straight minutes of mostly music with no intermission. It’s a bit difficult to concentrate this long on the lyrics and it’s likely you’ll stop paying attention to the words and just feel the music at a few points. At a concert, this wouldn’t be an issue, but you could miss key points of the story. Thus, a break midway in the play would be a great addition.

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Robert Cornelius (Rightlynd, Lottery Day) is fantastic as Joe Roy. He has such a good voice and such a strong presence that fits the character perfectly. Also, Gilbery Domally (Memphis) is excellent as Marty Roy. Just like his character, his is surely a rising star.

The writer of the play, STEW, recorded the music for this play with his band, The Negro Problem. It is available on Spotify. Check out “Why Do Black People Still Believe in G~d?” for a good sample of what this show is all about.

Get tickets now for The Total Bent through March 17th!

Cost of a ticket: $40

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney