Review: Shattered Globe Theatre Presents Crime and Punishment at Theatre Wit (Through October 20, 2018)

Crime and Punishment was first published in 1866 by Fyodor Dostoevksy. It has been adapted in film many times, including an Australian version in 2015. Chris Hannan adapted the novel for the stage in 2013, and now in the fall of 2018, this version premieres at Theater Wit.

 

Rodion Raskolnikov formulates a plan to murder a pawnbroker. He believes that he can use the money much better than she can and that the ends justify the means in his utilitarian philosophy. Often, he wears a large black leather jacket identical to another jacket worn by another actor playing his guilty conscience. Also, Raskolnikov plays a dangerous cat and mouse game with the police investigating the murder who suspect him but can’t seem to prove it.

Drew Schad is excellent as Raskolnikov directly addressing the audience with his inner struggle trying to justify his actions. The rest of the cast is solid, often portraying multiple characters that he encounters in St. Petersburg. In addition, the original music by Christopher Kriz really sets the mood.

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Get tickets now for Crime and Punishment through October 20th.

Cost of a ticket: $40

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Quinn Delaney

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Charming – Madison Cunningham opening for Punch Brothers at the Symphony Center (September 7, 2018)

Madison Cunningham is a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. She says she has a love/hate relationship with the city. “You may not recognize the local references in this next song” she warns. During the song, she mentions taking the 5, and she comments mid song “There it is!”. This self-comment throws her off and then she flubs the next lyrics. However, she quickly recovers with style. It’s a charming display that wins over the audience.

To set up her closing song, she says she wrote it for her fiancé. The crowd responds, “awwww”. She goes on to sing “Something to Believe In”. It’s a beautiful song that sounds absolutely excellent in the acoustically grand Symphony Center. Her vocal talent and guitar chops point to a bright future for this young artist.

Quinn Delaney

Consistent – 311 with The Offspring and Gym Class Heroes at Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island (September 6, 2018)

311 was formed in Omaha, Nebraska by singer/guitarist Nick Hexum, singer S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton and bassist P-Nut. The band now resides in Los Angeles, California.

311 mix rock, reggae, hip-hop and funk into their own unique sound. After years of consistent touring, 311 have developed a reputation as one of the most entertaining & dynamic live bands in the U.S.

Last year, they released their 12th studio album MOSAIC (BMG) with its unique album cover–which is made up of nearly 10,000 photos submitted by fans.  Even the image of the 5 band members on the cover is made up of tiny fan photos–to solidify the concept of band and fans as one. Fans can view a high-resolution pan & zoom mosaic of the cover image now at 311AlbumArt.com.

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“This cover captures the spirit of the collective nature that is 311–band and fans together to form something greater than the sum of its parts.” says Nick Hexum (singer/guitarist). Chad Sexton (drums) adds, “We have a very symbiotic relationship with our fans that see us on tour year after year.  We wanted to have an album title that would describe our fan base, our band & our music. And to tie all of this into a concept that could be presented in the album artwork as well.”

Quinn Delaney

Cost of a ticket: $60
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Impressive! Meet Juan(ito) Doe at Free Street’s Storyfront (Through September 7th)

Chicago is a city of many different backgrounds. A plethora of different races and financial statuses populate the city, creating a melting pot of different individuals and cultures. While this sounds tremendous in concept, the reality is that many of these groups of people face tremendous obstacles in their day to day life. Meet Juan(ito) Doe greatly details some of the anguish that Mexican-Americans face in the city of Chicago. With such a heavy topic at hand, the cast certainly needed to bring their top performance to the fold. They certainly managed to do this, transporting each and every audience member into the world of the surrounding neighborhood.

Not only was the cast impressive in their portrayal of their characters, but the stories themselves really shed light on how diverse the Mexican-American community can be. It is easy to try to label things, as this is human nature, but the variety of characters really prove that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Mexican-American communities. The actors acted accordingly to highlight the differences between these characters. Whether the character was gay, an alcoholic, or a confused teenager, these actors were able to create something completely and utterly real. I felt like I knew these people because the way they acted was so human.

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In addition to the impressive acting being displayed, the intimate setting of the Storyfront allowed the message of the story to hit home that much more. Located on the South Side of the city, this storefront faced the street and often times included said street in its performance. Being able to see the character of the area gave the audience members new insight to the trials that plagued the play’s characters. The themes of racism, gentrification, and homophobia hit home so much harder, knowing that much of the story points took place right where we were.

At the end of the day, Meet Juan(ito) Doe is an important piece of theatre for everyone. Many of us are so privileged that it is easy to overlook many of the issues that plague minority neighborhoods. This story sheds light on some of these issues, while also providing a lot of theatrical moments for a casual audience member to enjoy.

Get tickets now to Meet Juan(ito) Doe through September 7th!

Griffin Boyle

Hilarious! Black Button Eyes Productions Presents Nightmares and Nightcaps: The Stories of John Collier at The Athenaeum Theatre (Through September 15, 2018)

Nightmares and Nightcaps is a collection of short plays adapted from John Collier’s stories. They are like the twilight zone in that they usually contain as elements of fantasy, bizarreness, and morality. They all come together in a darkly humorous fashion.

One of the stories is about a man who wins 50 million dollars. His wife just wants to buy a house in Jacksonville, but he wants to travel the world, especially to see mysterious creatures.

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Another story is about a couple that is over consumed with thoughts of the death of the other person. They decide to spend 9/10ths of their income on insurance so that they can live with piece of mind. However, it isn’t long before this piece of mind is lost.

The entire cast is excellent. Kevin Webb is delightfully mysterious as The Dweller, aka the narrator. His performance as the seller of potions is spot on and devilishly delightful. Megan Delay (The Liar) is excellent as The Huntress. She drives a man so wild that he wants to be stuffed like one of her conquests just so he can live in her house. Kat Evans as the Bird of Paradise is absolutely hilarious.

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Get tickets now for Nightmares and Nightcaps through September 15th!

 

Cost of a ticket: $35

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Quinn Delaney

Great Voice and a Sharp Wit! Don McLean at City Winery (August 19, 2018)

At 72, Don McLean still has a great voice and a sharp wit. Also, he just released a new album titled Botanical Gardens from which he played a few songs.

Early on in the set, he plays “And I Love You So”. He told us that Elvis sang this song at every concert he did in the last years of his life. Perry Como also covered this song with great success.

 

McLean treats the audience with a fantastic rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Crying”.  This song reached number one in the UK!

 

 

Most songs received an introduction, but he just jumped right into “American Pie”. The audience immediately perked up and joined in a giant sing-a-long. It’s a tradition at University of Illinois bars to close with this song.

 

 

When he returned for the encore, he jokes, “Now, I’ll play what you came here for.” He goes on to play his second biggest hit, “Vincent”, about Van Gogh.

 

Cost of a ticket: $75

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Quinn Delaney

 

Exceptional! Dance for Life 2018 featuring The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and more at the Auditorium Theatre (August 18, 2018)

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:

Chicago Dance Crash – Freshly Served (2018) – Structured by Jessica Deahr

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This performance is intense. It’s a structured freestyle. Thus, the dancers improvise within time and space restrictions and feed off the energy of the music and the audience. It doesn’t take long before everyone is clapping and the break dancing energy rises. 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.

 

Giordano Dance Chicago – Tossed Around (2017) – Choreography: Ray Mercer

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Before the performance, Nan Giordano is honored with a type of lifetime achievement award, a new thing this year. She humbly accepts as she thanks the Chicago dance community for all the help.

The performance begins with all the dancers sitting in chairs in a circle facing the center. They begin tossing each other around and moving about like a crazy game of musical chairs / duck duck goose. The movement is intoxicating and showcases the talents of this great company.

The Joffrey Ballet – Body of Your Dreams (2016) – Choreography: Myles Thatcher

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The music for this piece uses a bunch of infomercials about fitness programs cut and pasted together in an electronic sounding piece. The dancers are wearing outfits that are a mix of workout clothes and tight ballet outfits while performing a mix of those two styles of movement. While at first it seems to be a form of pop art and fun look at exercise, it turns into a critical look at the current fitness industry. Within the Modern Masters program by The Joffrey back in February, it seemed a bit out of place, but it fits very well into tonight’s show.

 

Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre – Excerpts from Between Us (2016) – Choreography by Sherry Zunker

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In this piece, the dancers are joined by live musicians on stage playing a soprano sax and a violin. The musicians are involved in the choreography as they move across the stage. At one point, it even seems like the sax player is a snake charmer controlling the dancers with his music.  It’s a very interesting mix of musicians and dancers that really shows how closely they interact.

 

Hanna Brictson and Dancers – My Darling (2017) – Choreography – Hanna Brictson

41 dancers take the stage wearing all red with white suspenders as “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers begins to play. They all move in unison in perfect sync with the music in the largest group of the night. When the song reaches a climax, so does the dancing. It’s a perfect match that is met with thunderous applause at its conclusion.

 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago – The 40s (1978) – Choreography: Lou Conte

The 40s displays the joy in America after World War II ended.  “Opus Number One”, as performed by Ralph Burns, starts and the full company dances happily out on to the stage with jazz hands waving. The song has that big band feel and swing is incorporated into the piece with a lot of twirls. Alicia Delgadillo stands out displaying a big ball of energy and enthusiasm. Lou Conte, the founder of Hubbard Street Dance, has remounted this piece expertly and it exhibits the best of this troupe. What a joyful way to end the night!

Quinn Delaney

 

Cost of a ticket: $75

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