An eerie chorus version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” plays as a man enters the stage and lights an old fashioned lantern. It’s a mysterious beginning to tonight’s performance of Burning Bluebeard. The performance is a mix of the characters discussing their experience of Chicago’s 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire and the play that was taking place when the fire broke out. In the play, Bluebeard kills his wives when they enter the forbidden room. A montage killing scene shows these gruesome murders with the wives wearing creepy translucent masks and long blond wigs. It’s excellently choreographed and leaves the audience aghast.
The tension builds up to the climactic point where the theatre catches fire. A performer flies above the audience wearing a harness and throws red confetti. Then, the stage goes dark and we hear the sounds of fire and theatre goers screaming for their life. It’s a truly terrifying sound that is very unsettling. Finally, the screaming ends and the performers return and perform the happy ending of the Bluebeard story.
It’s a roller-coaster of a performance filled with contemporary music transformed to match the time, tumbling, acrobatics, and dance. It’s a must see for theatre fans of all ages. Catch the show at the Den Theatre up till January 10th!
David Arquette stars as the title character Sherlock Holmes running at the Oriental Theatre through November 29th. He is best known for his acting in films such as Scream, Never Been Kissed, and Eight Legged Freaks. His characters in these films have a quirkiness that he brings to his performance as Sherlock. He often turns to the audience as he deduces another key aspect of the case with a cheek to cheek smile. One time he even follows his line saying “Dun dun dun!” The audience laughs with pleasure.
In the second act, Holmes is drugged with chloroform. An exciting tripped out number follows featuring spinning spirals, strange music, devilish laughing, and unusual dancing. In another scene they are riding on a train when suddenly the whole stage goes pitch black. When the lights return, the characters comment how terrifying it is to plunge into darkness as they travel through a tunnel. This effect is used repeatedly and expertly in dramatic fashion to get the audience on the edge of their seats.
Overall, it’s a very unique and humorous take on the Sherlock Holmes character. Catch the show in Chicago this week only: http://broadwayinchicago.com/show/sherlock-holmes/.
What would happen if your ex-wife was honeymooning in the same hotel at the same time as you? What if you discover you still have feelings for each other? This idea is explored in exciting fashion in the play from 1930, Private Lives. This is a concert reading which means the actors carry scripts and directly face the audience the entire show. This can be a bit strange, especially when they shake hands by reaching straight out and shaking their hand in the air. However, once you get used to this aspect, the performances are quite good. The actors take on the personalities of the characters and you truly believe the chemistry on stage. Catch Private Lives at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts through December 14th!
Get tickets here: http://www.ruthpage.org/performance-Private-Lives
Aoife O’Donovan, from Brooklyn, has a difficult task ahead of her. She is attempting to take on the large Chicago Theatre with just an acoustic guitar and her voice. As soon as she starts singing, it’s clear she is up to the challenge. Her voice is strong and confident as she sings “Oh, Mama” from her 2013 album, Fossils. Soon, she is joined by a piano player who also plays with Glen Hansard. Together they play beautiful melodies that warm up the audience coming in from Chicago’s first snow of the season. It’s a fantastic performance which surely gained her many new fans.
To the crowd’s delight, Aoife returns to the stage for Glen Hansard’s encore. She sings one of the verses of “The Auld Triangle” beautifully and fits right in with the band. Later on, she and Glen sing the duet which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2008, “Falling Slowly”, from the film Once. It’s a truly magical moment as all the couples embrace and sing along: “Take this sinking boat and point it home; we’ve still got time!” O’Donovan often collaborates with the best such as Sarah Jarosz, Yo-Yo Ma, Chrile Thile, and Sara Watkins. She can now add Glen Hansard to this impressive list!
See Glen Hansard’s encore set here.
Kyle Kinane has no skills. “Hey, Kyle, you were really funny at that party.” “Thanks, can I have $20?” That’s how he describes his job! Tonight’s audience was more than happy to put down a twenty to see this comedian entertain them. He tells a long story about being refused entry into Calgary because of a DUI conviction on his record. The two guards who are in charge of escorting him onto the plane are not the aggressive bouncer type usually affiliated with that position. Instead they are very kind and sympathetic to the situation he is in. How Canadian!
He describes trying to order a Whopper at the airport Burger King. The cashier keeps saying no so he keeps trying to pronounce Whopper differently so she can understand. He demonstrates all his different pronunciations to the audience’s delight. It turns out that they had just sold out of Whoppers for the day according to a very friendly explanation from the guards about avoiding waste. This is a great example of Kinane’s storytelling stand up style. He’s just telling us how he sees the world and it’s very interesting and very funny. Kyle has a long career ahead of him of “just being funny at parties”!
Parade of Lights hit the stage at 8:30pm. It’s an all-ages show tonight thus the show must end at 10pm. Also, there is still another band after them. This means it’s all business and they get right to it playing anthemic tracks from their album, Feeling Electric. It feels like catching a huge stadium act playing a secret show at a small club. The synth pop songs have everyone singing and dancing along excitedly. As they play their last song, “Golden”, the crowd goes nuts and tries to soak in as much Parade of Lights as possible. They left us wanting much more, and it’s clear they’ll be back playing bigger and bigger venues as fans discover this impressive band.
The Royal Concept, from Stockholm, Sweden, are happy to be in Chicago. Playing a packed house at Subterranean is a great fit for them. Their indie dance rock gets the crowd going when they open with “Goldrushed”. It’s instantly evident that Parade of Lights was a great choice for tour mates as their fun filled songs go together like peanut butter and jelly. They play tracks from their album Royal and EP Smile and they all sound like hits. 10pm approaches way too quickly and there is only time for one last song. The crowd requests “Radio”. Although they haven’t played it in a while, they happily oblige and play it fantastically with everyone singing along. It’s a great finale to a night of excellent music. Catch both of these bands on tour in small venues now while you still can!
Tonight, Jeff Hansen is celebrating his 33rd birthday by hosting Chicago Underground Comedy. At the end of his set, he brings on the sponsors of the night: his parents. They sing “Summer Nights” to the crowd’s delight as Jeff struggles to flip the pages of lyrics. It’s a hilarious start to the night.
Soon after is “Farmer Travis” with a PSA that you should not have sex with your turkey. This is the ridiculous which is what alternative comedy is all about. Sticking with the theme, a turkey then takes the stage to plead for himself to be chosen for the presidential pardon. However, he fails to win the vote. Just as he is about to be executed, Farmer Travis returns to save him!
Later in the night, Emily Galati is talking about the Hobby Lobby case about religion and birth control. “Not getting pregnant is the only thing I pray for!” She continues to crack up the audience and fits right in with this fantastic lineup. CHUC has become one of Chicago’s best comedy showcases. At $5 for a ticket, you are losing money if you don’t go!