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Dramatic and Humorous! Chimera Ensemble Presents Sister Cities at The Den Theatre (August 26, 2016)

Sister Cities is the story of four half-sisters who come home after their mother’s death.  They are named after the cities they were born in: Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, and Carolina. Mary, the mother, admits Carolina is a state.  “Carolina on My Mind” by James Taylor was “on her mind”. “I think that’s why she always felt a little bit left out,” she says in a flashback scene. The story is a bit reminiscent of The Big Chill, in which a bunch of college friends return to their college town after a friend passes away. In both stories, the characters return to a group they had mostly left behind and the emotions are strong.

Sister Cities deals with some heavy issues very tastefully. Topics such as abortion and assisted suicide. These deep dramatic discussions are mixed in with humor among the sisters who used to be very close. It’s a very intimate show with real characters portrayed fantastically by the actresses and it fits in well at the Den Theatre.  With Hang On To Your Shorts and this production, the Chimera Ensemble is quickly proving itself to be a strong theatre company with a solid foundation.

Get your tickets now through September 18th!

Quinn Delaney

See our review of Hang On To Your Shorts here.

 

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Homecoming! Wilco and Twin Peaks at Jay Pritzker Pavilion (8/21/16)

Chicago band Wilco made a triumph homecoming this Sunday night at Jay Pritzker Pavilion. It was a sold out show at one of Chicago’s most iconic venues. I arrived about thirty minutes after the gates opened to find the lawn almost already filled with thousands of loyal Wilco fans. After I set up camp, I decided to walk around the venue before the opening band came on. While walking around I was blown away by the sheer volume of devoted fans. It seemed like everywhere I looked I would see a Wilco shirt. The merchandise tent had a long line thorough out the whole entire show.

Before Wilco played to their vast number of fans, they had the pleasure of listening to another Chicago band, Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks are half the age of Wilco, but they share the same pride of being from Chitown. These young indie rockers got the chance to open for one of biggest bands to come out of Chicago in the recent decades. Before this show, Kurt Ville, a Philadelphia musician was opening up for them on their US tour, but with Wilco being a band who is proud of their roots they gave this honor to Twin Peaks instead. They played for close to an hour playing songs from all three of their albums that they have released in the past few years. They played loud and  with passion to prove to all of the older Wilco fans they are a band they will be hearing from in years to come.

As Twin Peaks left the stage the sun began to set on the Chicago skyline. People began to grab some drinks and get ready for the show. With there only being four to five beverage tents, this made for a disaster. After a brief intermission of no more than thirty minutes Wilco took the stage. They started the show with three songs of their most recent album Star Wars which was released last July. They also played two songs off their new album coming out in September titled Schmilco. The set list had songs ranging through all of Wilco’s over twenty year career. It was filled with the best of new and old Wilco. After they left the stage, they came back on stage for not one but two encores. By the time the second encore came around it was a striped down acoustic setting. Once the second encore came to an end, Wilco ended up playing a grand total of thirty one songs.

Looking back on Sunday I cannot think of a more perfect way to end the summer by seeing one of my favorite bands in one of the best venues in the nation. From the weather to the music and thousands of people surrounding me in the park it made for a memorable night.

John Jordan

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Dance For Life at Auditorium Theatre Featuring Visceral Dance, Hubbard Street Dance, Giordano Dance, and The Second City (August 20, 2016)

Dance for Life 2016 was hosted by Carisa Barreca and Tim Mason from The Second City. They both starred in The Art of Falling, a collaboration between Hubbard Street Dance and The Second City. Barreca played the role of “Dance for Life” and exclaimed how many dancers have been “in her” over the past 25 years to the audience’s delight. The jokes continued leading up to them introducing Visceral Dance Chicago.

VDC’s performance demonstrated how accurate their name is; it was very visceral. The music was sparse and the movement was sharp. It wasn’t logical but rather emotional. It was very artistic and stood out as unique at this event.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s performance was also excellent. It featured dancers on ropes repelling off a wall. They moved up and down and it appeared as if they were flying. Also, a man and a woman attached to ropes danced across the stage. She did flips through the air that looked majestic.  The ropes allowed her to defy gravity.

To start the second act, Giordano Dance Chicago performed to the music of Rodrigo y Gabriela. Their music is a flamenco styled rock played on dual acoustic guitars. It’s a very expressive sound that the dancers were able to capture and show beautifully on stage.

The hilarious video, Chicago. Every Day Is A Dance., was premiered to a very receptive crowd. 12 different dance companies were involved in the creation of this video. Just like the Art of Falling, it shows that comedy and dance go great together.

It’s a rare event to see so many dance companies come together on one stage which makes Dance For Life very special. Now, you can create your own season with the Dance Around Town Sampler Pack which allows you to select three different show this fall at a great discount. Get your tickets now!

Quinn Delaney

See our review of Art of Falling here.

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Political Comedy! Slate and The Second City Present Unelectable You at Up Comedy Club (August 14, 2016)

The Second City often teams up with other organizations to create unique material by merging their talents. Unelectable You is the product of a collaboration with Slate and the material displayed in the show does not disappoint.

 

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In one segment, Obama is listing off his accomplishments and then simply says “You’re Welcome!” The actor’s impersonation of the President is excellent. Another segment explores the original Trump/Pence logo. The designer of the logo is a stoner and discloses he was hired through Craigslist. The audience views a few other logo ideas that didn’t make the cut. These other logos took the idea of the Trump T having sex with the Pence P to a whole new level and the crowd ate it up!

 

The crowd is then lead on an exploration of the possible outcomes of the election. What if we build a wall, but then Mexicans learn how to fly?! What if we pulled a random member from the audience and had them run for president? Would he be able to get past the story of giving a pair of his mother’s underwear to his teacher? (You had to be there). Will you always have to walk up an escalator to get to the theatre?

 

Fans of The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Real Time with Bill Maher, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will certainly enjoy this show. The same is true for fans of Slate and The Second City who have created a smart, funny, topical show that allows us to laugh at this crazy election.

 

Get your tickets now for Unelectable You through August 28!

Quinn Delaney

 

 

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New Kids on The Block! Iration at Reggae Fest Chicago (August 13, 2016)

Among reggae legends like Toots & The Maytals and Lee “Scratch” Perry at Reggae Fest Chicago, Iration are the new guys. “We’re the New Kids on the Block!” says the lead singer.” “Can we still be considered kids if we have passed 30?” Iration formed in 2004 in Hawaii and since then they have toured relentlessly earning them the honor to play this stage. “From the smell of things, I think you’ll like this next song.  It’s about smoking weed in the summer.” They launch into “Summer Night”. “Getting high, thinking about the summer nights” sing the whole crowd as they sway back and forth and enjoy this great reggae groove on a warm August night in Chicago.

Iration also showed the rock side of their sound with some shredding solos are heavy distortion. They were a definite contrast to most of the softer reggae sounds heard at the festival. Iration showed how the sound is evolving and that reggae is still alive and well today. The festival as a whole was very well run and a great addition to the Chicago summer festival scene.

Quinn Delaney

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G Rated Version of Avatar – Cirque du Soleil Presents Toruk – The First Flight at the United Center (August 3, 2016)

Are you looking for a toned down version of a Cirque du Soleil that the kids would enjoy? Then, Toruk is the show for you. Compared to Kurios, where the audience often feared for the lives of the acrobats who were performing dangerous acts, Toruk’s acrobats are never in danger. The show is set in Pandora, the fictional world created by James Cameron for the film Avatar. The costumes are very well done and the use of projectors to change the scene is a cool effect. However, the resolution of the projectors failed to compare to the visual effects of the movie,  The kites and puppets add a nice effect and keep with the calm theme of the show. So, if you are looking a version of Avatar that is G-Rated (the film was rated PG-13), this is the show for you.

Toruk is running at the United Center now through August 7th.

Quinn Delaney

See our review of Kurios here.

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Tropical Rock! St Lucia Lollapalooza Aftershow at Park West (July 29, 2016)

St Lucia may be from New York, but they create a vibrant Caribbean style sound that appropriately reflects their name. The lead singer, Grobler said, “On the last record, I was trying to fit every instrument on every track, layering all these lush sounds. If the last album sounded like the tropics, this album is the desert.” The desert theme is represented on stage with a multitude of succulents surrounding the amps and instruments. The tropics are also in the mix with the neon lights and Grobler’s island style shirt. The fan blowing his shirt and hair adds to the beachy atmosphere.

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Early in the set, they play “Closer Than This”. It starts slowly with three chords on the synthesizer. Then, the vocals come in smoothly. Next, the drums and bass. Finally the chorus comes and everyone in the building is dancing and singing: “I’ve got a feeling we will never closer than this! I can’t image there’s a way to get closer than this!” This slow build to a very catchy chorus is the perfect recipe for a dance party.  The same formula applies to “September” which whips the crowd into a frenzy. “I just want you to remember, before you get carried away. What happened just this September, if you know you want it, baby.” It’s an excellently crafted song.

Lollapalooza started at noon, 13 hours ago. The crowd is exhausted. However, when they start to play their biggest song to date, “Elevate”, to close out the night, everyone uses their last bit of energy to dance out one more time. “And no one elevates you, elevates you now!  And no one’s gonna take you, gonna take you there!” Everyone leaves with a giant smile on their face. St Lucia has a bright future ahead of them. Catch them on tour now across the US!

Quinn Delaney