Hilarious! The Doppelgänger (an international farce) at Steppenwolf Theatre (April 17, 2018)

Thomas (played by Rainn Wilson) is a wealthy British businessman who has organized an international resource political meeting. In addition to the business leaders visiting his house, he has also invited Jimmy (also played by Wilson), his doppelgänger and Rosie, a revolutionary posing as a maid. When Thomas accidentally poisons himself, Rosie convinces Jimmy to pretend to be Thomas in order to get her worker’s rights resolution passed. Hilarity and drama ensue.

There are a lot of laughs in this play. There are many instances of slapstick comedy as they try to hide Thomas’ body from the guests. There is also funny dialog such as when Jimmy says, “Haven’t I been acting funny?” One of the guests responds, “Well, comedy is so subjective.” But also, there are some very serious moments mixed in about conflict minerals, greed, and war. The jokes are the sugar to help this medicine go down.

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Rainn Wilson is fantastic in this production. As Thomas, he plays it straight, which makes his performance as the goofy Jimmy all the more funny. His comedic chops which he honed on The Office are on full display. Celeste M. Cooper (previously at Steppenwolf in BLKS) is also fantastic as Rosie.  She’s constantly running around the stage trying to keep up the whole ruse.

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There are many similarities in this production to Steppenwolf’s production at the end of last year, The Minutes. They are both about politics, and the backroom deals underlying them. They are also both very funny and end with a big dramatic scene that leave the audience stunned. And lastly, they are both great examples of the world class fresh new productions for which this theatre is known.

Get tickets now for The Doppelgänger (an international farce) through May 27th!

Quinn Delaney

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Wonderful! Company at Mercury Theatre (April 14, 2018)

In 1970, Company first premiered on April 26th. That year it won six Tony Awards. In 2011, a star studded cast performed the show and it was released as a film. The cast included Neil Patrick Harris, Jon Cryer, Stephen Colbert, Christina Hendricks, and many more. And now, in April of 2018, it opens at Mercury Theatre.

 

It’s Bobby’s 35th birthday party in New York City. All his friends are married, and he definitely feels the pressure to do the same. However, he doesn’t seem ready to be married, or even able to maintain a long term relationship with any of the women he dates. Thus, he seeks female “company” from his married friends. The story builds and builds to the fantastic final song, “Being Alive”.

This show marks the grand opening of the Venus Cabaret Theatre. It’s a fantastic space filled with tables at varying heights and a full bar. It perfectly matches the setting of the play as a great place for a party. Also, appetizers and cake are served to the audience giving the production a very immersive feel.

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The entire cast sings fantastically and it sounds great in the intimate space. Allison Sill is absolutely hilarious as April, the flight attendant. It’s reminiscent of her great performance as Ulla in The Producers. In both roles, she is so charming and completely steals the scenes she is in. Also, Heather Townsend is great as the mysterious Joanne. She gives the role a great complexity.

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Get tickets now to Company through June 3rd!

Quinn Delaney

World Premiere! Lettie at Victory Gardens Theatre (April 13, 2018)

Lettie was just released from prison after seven years. She moves into a halfway house and she is looking forward to reconnecting with her kids. They have been living with her sister and brother-in-law. Lettie’s 14 year old daughter is happy to have her back in her life. In a sharp contrast, her 17 year old son isn’t so quick to forgive her past.

The play draws some strong reactions from the audience. There are a lot of gasps and sighs. Also, there is a lot of laughter. It’s a great mix of drama and comedy. Also, Lettie talks about having to check the “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” checkbox. In Illinois, it is illegal to have this on an application (Ban the Box).

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Caroline Neff (You Got Older, Linda Vista, and more at Steppenwolf) is absolutely outstanding as Lettie. She is on stage for almost the entire show and she so fully becomes her character. You can see her struggle to get her life back together while still trying to keep a sense of humor about things.  Matt Farabee is also a standout as Lettie’s son. He clearly portrays the pain that she has caused him and thus his reluctance to accept her return. Charin Alvarez is fantastic as Lettie’s friend at the halfway house. She is so funny and also a strong voice of reason.

Get tickets now for Lettie through May 6th!

Quinn Delaney

So Fun! Matter Dance Company Presents Emerge at The Den Theatre (April 12, 2018)

It’s opening night for Matter Dance Company’s Emerge and the theatre is packed. A buzz is in the air in the intimate Den Theatre space. Eighteen pieces are listed on the program. Here are a few of the best:

Hide & Seek

Choreography: Ali Keirn & Lauren Nolan

Music: “Tap Dance” by Octave Minds featuring Chance The Rapper

This is such a fun song and the dance matches the joy. The dancers are all smiles as they tap dance across the stage and the audience eats it up! It’s infectious!

 

Quarter Past Three

Choreography and Dancing: Michelle Chorski and Patrick Justin

Music: “What You Do” by James Gillespie

The title is pulled directly from the lyrics. Also, the dancing matches the song perfectly. The couple displays a complex relationship as Gillespie sings “When the world turns upside down, you should blame it on me.” It’s a beautiful piece that is met with thunderous applause at its finale.

 

Outcry

Choreography: Carisa Barreca and Niki Mahon

Music: “Ra” by Nathan Lanier

 

The music sounds like a fierce battle. The dancers are wearing war paint and holding thick sticks. The performance looks like soldiers preparing for war. It’s very well choreographed. Also, it is reminiscent of an Indian style of dancing called Raas.

Unseen

Choreography: Patrick Justin

Music: Better Tomorrow by Tina Guo

In this piece, the two dancers are wearing blindfolds. They rely on touch alone to know where their partner is located. It’s a very cool concept and it is executed skillfully.

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All Photos by Micheal Courier

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Choreography: Carisa Barreca

Music:  Sky Mubs

In this performance, all the lighting comes from flashlights that the dancers are holding. They turn the flashlights on and off, spotlighting the dancing with light from all directions. It’s a complex piece of choreography, and the dancers met the challenge impressively.

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I’m Me

Choreography: Carisa Barreca

Music: “Soy Yo” by Comba Estereo

This is a very goofy and fun song and they came up with a very fun idea. The dancers wear mannequin heads on top of their heads and cover up their faces. It looks like they all have very long necks and small heads. It’s quite a sight to see.

Listen to the full soundtrack here:

Get tickets now for Emerge through April 21st!

Quinn Delaney

 

Acoustic Folk! Ballroom Thieves opening for Phillip Phillips at House of Blues Chicago (April 6, 2018)

The Ballroom Thieves have a cool indie rock vibe that gives off a Portland, Oregon vibe. However, they call Boston their home. They perform as a trio with Devin Mauch on drums, Martin Earley on guitar, and Calin Peters on cello / bass.

“When my husband left me, he fled in the dead of night” they sing on Blood Run Red.

They close with “Anybody Else” which includes a giant singalong,  “Oooh, I never wanted anybody else!” It’s a beautiful piece of acoustic folk.

See their PlaylistHQ page here.

Quinn Delaney

Also, Phillip Phillips rocked. See our past review of him here.

Hilarious! Spring Fling at Second City (April 3, 2018)

A woman is slumped over a couple of chairs, clearly wasted. She yells, “College! Woohoo!” The man looks embarrassed. “Mom, I think it’s time for you to leave.” The crowd erupts in laughter. She goes on to say that she wants to be his Wingmom. “That’s not a thing!” he says. “Sure it is”, she says. “I got the number of that cute girl at the party and put it up on the dry erase board!” This is a great opening sketch that sets the tone for a very funny show.

Later on, a couple is dancing up on each other. The woman is getting low and twerking. The man is right up on her throwing his arms around. Then the announcer says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the father of the bride!” Again, it’s the surprise reveal that a character is the parent, and it works so well in this short blackout sketch.

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The parent/child theme continues with an improv scene. A guy is playing a high school kid who asks his father if he should do drugs. The audience member, aka, his dad, says no. But then later, admits that he did drugs, “just the one time”. The kid then asks why he divorced mom. After thinking for a while, the man quietly replies, “because she was a bitch”. Everyone is cracking up, including the performer. He then slowly goes over to another audience member and says, “Hi Mom.” She looks very embarrassed. After a short pause, he continues, “Why did you divorce Dad?” After a while, she finally blurts out, “Because he is a woman!” With hilarious responses like this, improv is easy. He can let the audience members be the center of attention and he does just this with style.

This performance shows why the Second City is famous across the nation for comedy. Get tickets now for Spring Fling on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Up Comedy Club!

Quinn Delaney

Pick of the Week! Chicago Repertory Ballet Presents Modern Motions at Athenaeum Theatre (April 6-7, 2018)

Modern Motions will have world premiere works by nationally acclaimed choreographers Tenley Dorrill, Ryan Nye, Shannon Alvis, and CRB’s own Wade Schaaf.

“There is a wide variety of music from Modern minimalist composers to classic jazz standards and everywhere in between!” – Wade Schaaf

From Wade Schaaf, Founder & Artistic Director :

“I founded Chicago Repertory Ballet 6 years ago, and since that time I have presented many productions in the city of Chicago including some of our most successful works like The Four Seasons, Bolero, The Rite of Spring, and my full length ballet William Shakespeare’s MACBETH.

This program promises to vary in tone and style offer’s a look into CRB’s mission to produce dance that defies labels.”

Get tickets now for Modern Motions on April 6th or April 7th!

Quinn Delaney