Fantastic! Polaris: A Contemporary Pole Dance Company Presents Poleitico: A Pole Show on Politics at The Den Theatre (November 8, 2017)

Poleitico is a dance show that explores issues such as gay rights, mental health, and climate change through pole dancing. November 8th was specifically chosen as it is the one year anniversary of Trump’s election. The dancing is very impressive and athletic and is met with thunderous applause by the audience. They make it look easy climbing up to the ceiling and spinning around. Also, the music chosen for the performances is fantastic.

Spotify Playlist of the Songs Used:

 

Program for the Night:

…But Equal: Human by Sevdaliza (racism piece)

Her: Her by Madame Ghandi (women’s issues piece)

Unholy War: Unholy War by Jacob Banks (religious persecution piece)

Reclaiming Our Lives and Crying Glory: Glory by Common and John Legend (BLM piece)

Hexus: The Spring by Khary Laurent (climate change piece)

Frame of Mind: Breathe Me by Sia (mental health piece)

Requiem : Requiem For Tower by Escala – An adaptation of Lux Aeterna from the Requiem For A Dream Soundtrack  (drug addiction piece)

When Home is a Person:  Stickwitu by The Pussycat Dolls (gay rights piece)

-It’s unknown if these dancers are a couple in real life, but it definitely felt like they were.

Generations to Come: Amerika by Young the Giant (immigration piece)

-See our review of Young the Giant at Northerly Island on September 9th here, in which Amerika is their opening song.

Quinn Delaney

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Spotify Track URIs:

spotify:track:7rgnedMfQa1YHzKIe5Mwem
spotify:track:1NpMKUlA4fKue0vy4V5ejC
spotify:track:4PjZsEf8bCIVyf4VXd57wS
spotify:track:2fmqPLRFdJNPhLU3b2NSFp
spotify:track:6hrgeEo1WQOHVeF8QMv68S
spotify:track:1xB7YdTKvUzO4bOjN6QAW8
spotify:track:4NjR63Up0uMkQBlKvlZd1l
spotify:track:6pqKbOiVd58jcnxqIB10Ra

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Broadway Bound and Tony Award Worthy! The Minutes at Steppenwolf Theatre (November 19, 2017)

Mr. Peel, played by Cliff Chamberlain, is a new member of the Big Cherry City Council. He missed the last session due to the death of his mother. The minutes from the last meeting have not been distributed, so he is behind on many topics. When he tries to find out what happened, the other members avoid answering his questions. He keeps digging and eventually a deeply dramatic story unravels.

The play explores the age old saying, “History is written by the winners.” What happens when you learn the full truth of the story? Can you ignore it and go on living the same way? Is ignorance bliss? This draws direct parallels to the current controversy over removing Confederate statues and also the Washington Redskins, who are playing their first Thanksgiving game this year, in what seems like a sick joke.

The performances in this production are world class. William Peterson, who may recognize as Gil Grissom from CSI, plays Mayor Superba excellently. He shows strength and leadership and he struggles to keep the meeting in order. Francis Guinan as Mr Oldfield is absolutely hilarious. In many ways, this role is similar to his performance in Hir. In both, he plays an old man almost completely unaware of reality who stumbles through life and provides comic relief for the show.

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Ian Barford portrays Mr. Carp. Like his role as Wheeler in Linda Vista, he seeks the truth with conviction and it is forcing him to change in ways he didn’t expect. Danny McCarthy, who was last seen at Steppenwolf in The Flick, is great as Mr. Hanratty. The way he deals with the other council members during his proposal for a new fountain is so funny. All of the other supporting cast members are excellent as well.

Get tickets now for The Minutes through January 7th, before it heads to Broadway and wins a few Tony Awards!

Quinn Delaney

Note: This is Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Lett’s follow up to Linda Vista. See our review here.

Funny and Exciting! The Agency Theater Collective Presents Hellcab at The Den Theatre (November 17, 2017)

It’s Monday, December 21, 1992, in Chicago, IL.  It’s a cold, snowy day, which is good for business for the Cab Driver, played by Rusty Schwimmer. She starts early, at 630am, and picks up her first customers, a couple going to church. They try to convince her to join them. This is just the first of many strange invitations she receives this night. Later on, a female passenger played by Delysa Richards enters her cab with her hood pulled down over her head acting very suspiciously. She keeps fumbling around with something in her pocket, like a gun or something. The cab driver is obviously rattled and it makes for a very exciting scene.

Schwimmer plays the straight man role perfectly. As her customers do annoying things, she makes the perfect disgusted face, which is so funny. She is on the audience’s side and we are experiencing the taxi life with her. She also displays great fear and anxiousness when the suspicious passenger is in the cab.

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Here are a few fun trivia items about the play:

In one scene, Schwimmer sits by herself in the cab, singing “Barracuda” by Heart.

Most of the characters are just going “3 blocks” away.

In one scene, her passengers from NYC are making fun of Chicago sports teams. She says the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, which was true at the time.

In the same scene, she defends the Bulls, who were on their way to their third straight championship.

While watching the performance, there are never more than four people on stage at a time. However, there are seventeen people in the cast.

The play was turned into a movie in 1997 starring Michael Shannon, John Cusack, Tracey Letts, John C. Reilley, Gillian Anderson, Julianne Moore, and many more.

Get tickets now for Hellcab through Dec 17th!

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious! TimeLine Theatre Company Presents In The Next Room at Stage 773 (November 16, 2017)

In the 1880s, in a town outside of New York City, Sabrina Daldry is suffering from hysteria. She is willing to try a new form of therapy, electrical massage. Upon entering the office of Dr. Givings, she is very quiet and restrained. She is sensitive to light and to cold. She is asked to remove her clothes for the treatment and she requests that the doctor leave the room since she is very modest. The doctor returns and explains that using this electric device, they will induce a “hysterical paroxysm” which will release fluids from her womb that are causing her symptoms.

This scene is absolutely hilarious. The facial expressions by Melissa Canciller playing Sabrina are perfect. She goes from shyness, to shock, to interest, to ecstasy. This is in sharp contrast to Anish Jethmalani as Dr. Givings, who keeps a straight neutral face of a professional. Equally funny is the all business demeanor of his assistant, Annie, played by Dan Tretta.

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Adding to the hilarity of the scene is the set design and costumes. Together they perfectly recreate the 1880s. While wearing these large, fluffy, and old fashioned dresses, the actions of the scene are twice as funny.

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In the second act, Edgar Miguel  Sanchez as Leo Irving seeks treatment. The entire audience gasps as Dr Givings pulls out the device he plans to use. This gave the impression that the second half would be just as funny as the first. However, after this scene, the play becomes much more dramatic as the relationships between the characters is explored. The transition is a bit awkward and the scenes drag out just a bit.

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Overall, this production is extremely well done and a very funny way to explore this part of history. Get tickets now for In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play through December 16th!

Quinn

Excellent! Teatro Vista Presents Fade at Victory Gardens Theatre (November 10, 2017)

Lucia has just moved to LA to work on a TV series. She is finding it difficult to fit in with the all-white male team.  She befriends Abel, the Mexican janitor, who is the only person that is really nice to her. They develop a friendship and he unintentionally helps her with script ideas by telling his life story. This includes explaining his “Semper Fi” tattoo, which means always loyal, and is the motto of the US Marine Corps. It’s a story that’s both funny and dramatic.

Sari Sanchez is fantastic as Lucia. She plays the role of fish out of water perfectly and her excitement is palpable as she begins to get comfortable and have success. She also fully earns out empathy as she describes the way she is treated by her superiors.

Eddie Martinez, Sari Sanchez. Photo by Liz Lauren

Eddie Martinez is excellent as Abel. He comes off as standoffish to start when Lucia speaks to him in Spanish at the start. “Podrias venir aqui? (Could you come here?)” He explains that he prefers to speak English, since they are in America. They do speak lines of Spanish throughout the show such as “Que tienes? (What’s wrong?)” He also calls her “una fresa”, which means a preppy stuck up rich person. However, he eventually warms up to her and becomes her main ally at the office.

Get tickets now for Fade through December 23!

Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Porchlight Music Theatre Presents Billy Elliot at Ruth Page Center (November 9, 2017)

Billy Elliot is based on the 2000 Film which won the BAFTA Award for the Best British Film. The play won both the Tony Award and Olivier Award for Best Musical. It is an inspirational story set in an English mining town during the miners’ strike of 1984-85. Billy Elliot journeys from the boxing ring to a ballet class to make his dreams come true while challenging the long held beliefs of his hometown.

The film is rated R for language and the play should be too. The cursing in this show is quite shocking and vulgar. It’s especially shocking to see the miners hurling profanities at the police while the young ballerinas dance around them.  This scene showcases how large the cast is for this performance with most of the 35 cast members on stage. The choreography is impressive as all the moving pieces fit together.

 

The entire cast is fantastic. Here as just a few of the highlights. Ivan Bruns-Trukhin is athletically graceful as Older Billy. Peyton Owen practically steals the show as Michael Caffrey. Shanesia Davis as Mrs. Wilkinson is fierce. Sean Fortunato as Dad shows great range as he transforms from anti-ballet to Billy’s biggest supporter. Jenny McPherson as Grandma Dancer is fantastic.  Gabriel Robert as Small Boy and Tommy Novak as Mr. Braithwaite are both hilarious. And lastly, Lincoln Seymour is excellent as Billy Elliot. Both his dancing and his acting are impressive.

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Get tickets now for the excellent Billy Elliot through December 31st!

Quinn Delaney

 

Informative! Foraging for Everyone: Foraging 101 through Dabble

Have you ever wondered what is edible in Humboldt Park?  Your curiosity should lead you to Foraging 101 to find out. During this class, we discovered wild plantains, lemon clovers, husk tomatoes, and wild carrots. We learned as the seasons change mulberries, crabapples, and grapes would also be options.  Armando, our guide, doesn’t recommend eating anything found close to the paths, buildings, or roads unless it is above knee height in order to avoid contamination from other elements.

Osage Orange

Osage Orange

Beyond finding edible items, you’ll discover plants that are great for creating terrariums and other decorative purposes. Armando’s enthusiasm for foraging is strongly evident and it is a joy listening to him. Sign up for Foraging 101 now!

Quinn Delaney