Chicago Dancers United Presents Dance for Life Featuring The Joffrey Ballet, Giordano Dance Chicago, and more at The Auditorium Theatre (August 17, 2019)

Dance for Life is a fantastic event that brings together the best Chicago dance companies and the best dance audience. The proceeds go to the Dancers’ Fund, which provides financial assistance to dance community professionals in their time of need due to a medical issue. It’s a celebration of the dance community and its ability to care for its own. Here is a selection of some of the best performances:

 

Giordano Dance Chicago

SOUL (2018)

Choreography by Ray Leeper (So You Think You Can Dance)

Music: Tina Turner – Proud Mary

This piece is so fun, soulful and energetic, just like Ray Leeper’s work on So You Think You Can Dance. It has mass appeal and truly matches the spirit of this iconic song. The first three minutes of the above video features a segment of this joyful dance. Catch Giordano Dance Chicago next at the Harris Theatre on October 25th or 26th.

 

The Joffrey Ballet

Lorelei (2018)

Choreography: Cathy Marston

Bells (2011)

Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

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Both of these duets by the Joffrey are  very graceful and beautiful. They stand out on this night as the most elegant and stylish. The Joffrey Ballet are true masters of this art form.

Catch The Joffrey Ballet next from October 16-27 in their production of Jane Eyre.

 

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre

Mar de Fuego / Sea of Fire (2018)

Choreography: Carlos Rodriguez

This dance is dedicated to Dame Libby Komaiko (1949-2019), the founder of Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre. It’s a beautiful piece of movement fusing flamenco, folkloric, classical, and contemporary styles.

Catch Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre next on October 4th back at the Auditorium Theatre with Cerqua Rivera.

 

Chicago Dance Crash

Leap of Faith (2018)

Choreography: Jessica Deahr in collaboration with the dancers

On multiple occasions, the dancers pull of impressive feats that are met with gasps from the crowd. It’s modern and it’s fresh and it fits in perfectly on this night.

Catch Chicago Dance Crash next from August 23rd to August 31st in their World Premiere of Lil Pine Nut.

 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Excerpt from Decadance / Chicago (2018)

Choreography: Ohad Naharin

Music: Chair Dance (Echad Mi Yodeah) by Ohad Naharin and Tractor’s Revenge

This piece features all the dancers dressed up in suits seated in a large semi circle. As the intense music plays, all the dancers remove their clothing one piece at a time while chanting along to the music. It’s very repetitive and feels like the dragging on of a long work week. One dancer repeatedly falls and struggles to keep up with the others. It feels like he doesn’t fit in and isn’t right for this job. It’s a very interesting piece open to interpretation.

Catch Hubbard Street Dance next at the Harris Theatre on November 7th, 9th, and 10th.

 

Cost of a ticket: $75

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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

 

Quinn Delaney

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Dance Party! Tuxedo at Thalia Hall (August 13, 2019)

Tuxedo is the new collaboration with Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One. Tonight, they are bringing the party to Thalia Hall. Early on in their set, Mayer comments on how the stage looks like a game show. “I’ll take an H.” Ding! An H appears in lights towards the back of the stage. Then Jake says “I’d like to buy a vowel. I.” Buzz! Incorrect! Mayer then asks the audience for a letter and they all should out “O!” Ho! He then goes on to explain that whenever the big red button at center stage is pressed, it will shout “Ho!” Also, small keychain versions of the button are available at the merch table! You can also get one at this site along with the free app version.

Later in the night, they play “Designer Drug”, which is a bonus track on the deluxe edition of Mayer Hawthorne’s Where Does This Door Go album. It perfectly matches the Tuxedo style and fits right into the setlist. “It’s like you’re made inside a laboratory, just for me. You, you are, My designer drug!”

They close their set with their biggest hit, “Do It”. It currently has over 21 million streams on Spotify. This song is a great party jam and the audience happily dances and sings along.

Quinn Delaney

Ridiculously Funny! Eclipse Theatre Company Presents Beyond Therapy at the Athenaeum Theatre (Through August 18, 2019)

Bruce places a personal ad in the paper looking for a date. Prudence replies and it leads to a very awkward date in a restaurant. Afterwards, they both talk about their date to their therapists. Bruce’s therapist is a free spirited hippie who suggests he makes his ad more exciting, less truthful, and try again. Meanwhile, Bruce’s boyfriend isn’t happy at all with the whole dating women thing! Prudence’s therapist wants her to stop looking for a man and just date him!

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The whole play is ridiculously funny just like the previous Christopher Durang play produced by Eclipse Theatre Company, Baby with the Bathwater.  Bruce and Prudence seem like crazy people in the first very awkward date. But then the other characters act even more insane making them look quite normal in comparison.

Nick Freed is hilariously awkward as Bruce, trying to win over Prudence, played by Devi Reisenfeld, who is aghast at his behavior. Joe McCauley is very funny as Prudence’s inappropriate therapist. Lynne Baker is great as Bruce’s new age therapist, especially when she is searching for the right word to say by spilling out words that all start with the same letter. Siddhartha Rajan is so good as Bob, who is dumbfounded by the whole situation. Lastly, Alex Rocha is great as the waiter who unexpectantly gets drawn into this madness.

Get tickets now for Beyond Therapy through August 18th!

Cost of a ticket: $39
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

A Feel Good Story – Broadway in Chicago Presents Come From Away at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (Through August 18, 2019)

Come From Away is the story of how the city of Gander, Newfoundland rose up to the occasion when 7,000 airline passengers were diverted to their small town on 9/11. The population of 9,000 friendly Canadians opened up their homes, schools, and community centers to provide shelter and food for the stranded travelers. It’s a true feel good story about people rising to the occasion in the face of tragedy.

It’s a very fast paced production propelled all the way by the Celtic style music. It does a great job of matching the frenzy happening in the city. All 12 of the actors play multiple characters who do a great job with the Canadian accent. The play goes an hour and 45 minutes without an intermission.

Get tickets now for Come From Away through August 18th!

Cost of a ticket: $55
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

Fantastic! The Recommendation at Windy City Playhouse (Through September 22, 2019)

Two young men, Iskinder and Aaron, meet in their dorm room at Brown. They quickly become friends and throw parties together. Aaron’s father is well connected and his recommendation of Iskinder leads him to get accepted at UCLA for law school. Aaron becomes an assistant for a producer as he works his way up the ladder in the film industry. Everything is looking great until Aaron gets pulled over for a broken tail light and gets arrested for an unknown reason. In the holding cell, he meets Dwight, who teaches him the rules of prison and so much more.

Just like Windy City Fieldhouse’s previous production, Southern Gothic, this play is presented in a immersive style. In contrast to Southern Gothic, there is only one story line. Instead of wandering around freely, the audience is escorted from the bar to the dorm room, to the back porch, to the prison cell, to the sushi restaurant, and to the sauna. The set design by Lauren Nigri is very impressive as each room unfolds into the next.

The cast is fantastic. Michael Aaron Pogue is great as Iskinder doing his best to fight for justice as a lawyer. Julian Hester is hilarious as Aaron Feldman, the Ferris Bueller type character who is always the center of attention. Lastly, Brian Keys is excellent as Dwight Barnes, the convict with questionable intentions.

The experience is one of only a few immersive theatre experiences in the Chicago scene recently. One was the Hubbard Street Dance Fall Series which featured dancers all over the Harris Theatre. They were in the lobby, stairways, the seats, the dressing rooms, and backstage. Another one is Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding in which you get to be a guest at a wedding for the ceremony and the reception (at two different locations). The third is Flanagan’s Wake, at Chicago Theatre Works, which is a wild Irish party. If you were a fan of any of these, you’ll definitely enjoy this Windy City Playhouse production.

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Get tickets now for The Recommendation through September 22!

Cost of a ticket: $100

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

Hilariously Dramatic! Haven Theatre Presents KISS at the Den Theatre (Through August 18,2019)

In true soap opera fashion, the music swells as a woman answers the door and a man enters. It is her sister’s boyfriend who has come to the party early to confess his love for her. He is so in love that he goes on and proposes marriage to her. She admits that she is also in love with him and accepts his proposal. As they are kissing, her boyfriend knocks on the door. They let him in and he appears nervous. Then, he goes on to propose to her! The story line continues in this crazy fashion with each new development being bigger and more ridiculous until a huge plot twist changes everything.

The first half is a hilarious parody of a soap opera.  The over acting by the two couples includes Arti Ishak, Monty Cole, Cassidy Slaughter-Mason and Salar Ardebili has the audience laughing non stop just like Two Mile Hollow, which appeared at the Den Theatre two years ago. The original emotional music by Jeffrey Levin adds greatly to the humor and setting the scene. Then, the twist occurs and the tone switches sharply. It’s a very spectacular moment that could only work in theatre. It becomes very serious and dramatic with a touch of performance art like White Rabbit Red Rabbit, which was also produced at the Den Theatre last year.

Get tickets now for KISS through August 18th!

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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

An Intensely Conflicted Brother Relationship! True West at Steppenwolf Theatre (Through August 25, 2019)

Two adult brothers, Austin and Lee, are staying at their mother’s house in the desert while she is in Alaska. Austin is working on a screenplay that he is going to present to a producer that is coming over. He wants his brother out of the house at this time. So, he reluctantly gives him the keys. The producer comes over and Lee returns just as they are wrapping up. Lee invites the producer to play golf so that he can pitch his story, against his brother’s wishes. The producer ends up loving the story and the two brothers must work on it together, despite their differences.

Sam Sheppard (Fool to Love) has written here another play that explores human relationships incredibly well with great pacing. Jon Michael Hill (Pass Over, Constellations) plays Austin, the right brained one who is organized and focused on his work. Namir Smallwood (BLKS) plays Lee, the left brained one who is a bit of a mess but is creative and can come up with great ideas. The actors have great chemistry together and truly create an intensely conflicted brother relationship. Francis Guinan (Downstate, The Minutes, The Rembrandt, Hir) is solid reprising the role he played back in the 1982 Steppenwolf production in a very cool link to the past.

As usual for Steppenwolf, the set by Todd Rosenthal is very impressive. A full house is built on a desert lot. It really sets the scene well. Also, the sound design by Richard Woodbury is fantastic. The twangy western guitar mixed with the sounds of coyotes is perfect. All of the elements really come together for an immersive experience.

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Get tickets now to True West through August 25th!

Cost of a ticket: $80

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