Monthly Archives: May 2016

Intense Flashbacks! Irish Theatre of Chicago Presents Spinning at The Den Theatre (May 27, 2016)

Dan Waller’s performance as Conor is an impressive feat. He is in nearly every scene which switch often and quickly between the present and the past and always with different characters. He is literally spinning through his life. The earliest scene depicts him meeting his wife, Jen, played expertly by Carolyn Kruse. Their relationship is a focal point of the story.

Spinning-6

Chronologically, the next character Conor encounters is Annie, played by Tyler Meredith. Annie is a 17 year old girl who meets Conor in a park and is very smitten. She offers to babysit his daughter, Kate, in an effort to get close to him. In actual time, the last character Conor meets is Susan, Annie’s mother. Jodi Kingsley plays her with such great emotion. During the bows at the end of the performance, she still has tears in her eyes.

Throughout the performance, the audience is left in suspense, puzzled about the tragedy. The play reveals more and more information as it goes on. It all leads to a thrilling climax when all the pieces come together. The mixed timeline is similar to the film Momento. Both the play and the movie use this tactic expertly to craft a very dramatic story.

Catch Spinning now at The Den Theatre through July 3rd.

Quinn Delaney

Photos by Emily Schwartz

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Review: American Beauty Shop at Chicago Dramatists (May 26, 2016)

American Beauty Shop is the story of the Sugar Shack, a salon located in a basement run by Sue, a single mother to Judy. The shop is losing a lot of business to Supercuts. They are struggling to get by and it seems like their only chance to save the business is to win the lottery. There are only two things going well, at first.

Their most loyal customer, Helen, is an absolute joy. She is very upbeat and she comes very often. Then, she receives a gift that grants her free cuts at Supercuts for a year and she says she just can’t let it go to waste. However, she visits Supercuts’ website and is appalled enough that she changes her mind. So, she tries her best to save the salon. She insists they need to get on “the Facebook and the Twitter”. She is so funny.

Secondly, Judy is doing great in school and she gets into MIT. But this also is in jeopardy due to some personal issues. The play comes to a dramatic climax when the family argues about Judy’s future. All the actresses intensely express their emotions and the audience is on the edge of their seats.

What will happen to the Sugar Shack? Will Judy attend MIT? Find out now with the American Beauty Shop at Chicago Dramatists through June 5th!

Quinn Delaney

Dramatic and Hilarious! Level 11 Theatre Presents The Irish Curse at the Den Theatre (May 21, 2016)

What is the Irish Curse? In this case, it is having a small willie, a tiny johnson. The number of terms used in this play to describe their members is comprehensive and many of them are quite funny. Five guys have formed a support group to share their stories and give each other advice. It’s very reminiscent of the group formed in Fight Club for testicular cancer survivors. In the film, the narrator is able to cry at the meetings and release his emotions. The same strong intense emotions are felt by these characters.

Rick Baldwin (played by Logan Hulick) is the most confident of the group. He always wears a jockstrap and stuffs it with a white athletic sock. This gets him a lot of attention and he does quite well with the ladies because of it. Hulick plays the ladies’ man with ease and style.

Joseph Flaherty (played by Rob Grobowski) is a successful lawyer with a wife and two kids. He seems to handle his situation (don’t call it a problem!) well, until the other guys pressure him to share more. Grobowski plays the role expertly and makes him a very likable character.

Father Kevin Shaunessy (played by James Bould) is in charge of facilitating the meeting. He resists sharing anything and the guys are always surprised when he says anything personal. Bould’s nuanced performance has the audience questioning if his character is hiding something.

Stephen Fitzgerald (played by Neil O’Callaghan) is a gay man who is afraid of intimacy. When it is his turn to share, he painfully explains his heartbreaking story. It’s not an easy one to tell, and O’Callahan tackles it well.

Keiran Reilly (played by Dennis Bisto) is the newcomer to the group. He has never met anyone with his condition before and is therefore full of questions about how the other guys live. His story is shocking and very dramatic. Bisto’s performance is spot on.

Overall, the production is hilarious and dramatic. The entire cast is fantastic and they feed off each other’s energy expertly. The performance is very intimate and the seating in the round adds to that atmosphere.

Find out all their secrets in The Irish Curse at the Den Theatre now through June 12th!

Quinn Delaney

Song Parodies! NewsRevue at Canal Cafe Theatre (May 14, 2016)

Let the song parodies roll!  NewsRevue featured numerous parodies along with their comedic sketeches this past Sunday night. The first song was “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast transformed into “Who’ll die next?” Though a morose topic, the song about which A-list celebrity will perish next was hilarious.  Later, they performed “The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem transformed into a funny bit about Prime Minister David Cameron. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen became “No One Respects the Monarchy”. The entire cast dressed up as members of the British Royal family and sang with great energy.  They even included a puppet for the baby!

The best song of the evening began with a couple sitting together quietly. The man is looking at his phone and the woman is looking disgusted. The piano player plays just a few chords and the audience is already laughing. It’s “Hello” by Adele. The female vocalist is impressive as she sings the chorus with emotion: “Hello from the other side (of the table)!” The crowd roared with applause at the conclusion.

Catch NewsRevue every Thursday through Sunday at Canal Café Theatre in London!

Quinn Delaney

Retro Soul! Bernhoft and The Shudderbugs at Schubas (May 15, 2016)

 

When Jarle Bernhoft first came to the United States from Norway, he was asked the usual question at customs: what do you do? “I’m a musician,” he replied. “What type of music?” “Soul.” The customs agent looks him up and down, a bit surprised. “Are you any good?” “Oh, I don’t know” Jarle shrugged. “You don’t know and you look like that and you came all this way?!”  The whole crowd laughed when he said this line. They all think he is very good and they are very glad he keeps making the trip to the States, and he proved it tonight by selling out Schubas on a Sunday night.

When Bernhoft plays one of his biggest hits, “Come Around”, everyone smiles and begins to dance. The song is so catchy and fun that they can’t help but move around. The same is true for “Cmon Talk”. The songs sound so familiar and yet so fresh at the same time. It’s a retro soul sound that he has perfected. It’s timeless and also global. The passion is real and Bernhoft will surely have a long career because of it.

Catch Bernhoft on tour now in the US!

Quinn Delaney

Darkly Hilarious and Thrilling! Blink. Theatre Presents Mr Kolpert at Lion And Unicorn Theatre (May 14, 2016)

Murder has never been so funny! Sarah and Ralf (played by Libby Rodliffe and Peter Watts) are having a dinner party. Only, this isn’t a normal dinner party. They continually make jokes that they killed Mr Kolpert and that his body is in the trunk in the middle of the room. They say their motive was just that they were bored! Their guests, Edith and Bastian (played by Kate Austen and Benjamin Victor), react quite differently. Mr. Kolpert is/was Sarah and Edith’s coworker. Edith jokes that she won’t miss him. Bastian, however, is disgusted by the joking and becomes more and more manic about it.

kolpert

The cast of this exciting play is outstanding. Peter Watts is absolutely hilarious and charming. It seems completely possible that he has killed Mr Kolpert and yet everyone still wants to be his friend. Libby Rodliffe is a perfect match playing his wife. She is equally charming along with showing a potential for a dark side. Benjamin Victor has the tough task of playing the straight man amongst all this madness and he pulls it off with class. His complete rejection of the joking around makes the whole performance that much more funny. Kate Austen plays the innocent wife with a dark side to perfection. It’s impossible to tell whether she is joking about the dark things she mentions, which is an absolute delight!

Is Mr Kolpert in the trunk? Are Sarah and Ralf killers? Find out now in Blink Theatre’s thrilling production of Mr Kolpert at the Lion And Unicorn Theatre!

Quinn Delaney

Poetic! Nude at The Hope Theatre (May 13, 2016)

Nude is the story of a young couple. They are introduced by a mutual friend and meet at a bar. They have an awkward first date. Time flies and they go to a party together three years into their relationship. He makes out with someone else. She gets brain cancer. It all happens very fast in this one act performance. Throughout the play, Fate narrates densely poetic. Before one complex line can be pondered, two more have been spoken.

The play is very intimate. The room consists of a small stage approximately 7ft by 7ft. 50 chairs completely surround the stage. Thus, the audience is right in the middle of the action. The actors do an excellent job in this small space with the dialog heavy play. The emotions are real and laid bare. The fourth wall is never broken.

Did he ever love her? Will she survive the cancer? Find out now at Nude at The Hope Theatre through the 21st of May.

 

Quinn Delaney