Monthly Archives: April 2017

Indie Folk Rock: Meiko at Evanston S.P.A.C.E.

By Liz Lawson

Shy, but not embarrassed, Meiko takes the stage—just her and her acoustic guitar. She begins playing her song “Under My Bed,” and opens herself up to the audience right away. A song about lost love with someone who didn’t try hard enough, she feels she can only blame herself for holding on as long as she did. Set in her bedroom, it gives off the sensation of being a girly adolescent again, and finding solace in one’s own bedroom—a thing that represents you.

After the song is over, Meiko quietly jokes that she started with an old song because sometimes after playing solely new songs, she gets backhanded comments after the show from audience members: “Yeah, I really just like your old songs better.”

Her voice and an acoustic guitar go together like the clouds and the sky. It’s light, beautiful, and her voice has a breathy accent to it, mimicking the wind that pushes the clouds along effortlessly. Sometimes, however, it gets intense, and you feel a tension in her, as if her wounds are fresh every time she sings the song.

She goes on telling little anecdotes for each song she plays all night, most of them poking fun at herself. She’s quirky in the best way possible—she knows that’s what makes her special. In her song “I Can’t Tell,” we get a peek inside her whimsical head as she daydreams about a boy she only sees at her job. As she sings, she glances up at the ceiling, as if there’s a little dance going on in her head.

A mixture of indie, folk rock, and pop, Meiko is completely being herself—unapologetically. She’s a true storyteller in her music, and believe me, there were some other great little stories she had to share. But you’ll have to see her to find out.

The Other Theatre Company Presents Threesome at The Greenhouse Theatre (April 27, 2017)

An Egyptian American couple invite another man into their bedroom for a threesome. However, this idea feels completely staged and unreal. One of the characters even says he feels like he’s following a script. It continues to be absurd until the threesome is called off. Then, the action immediately pivots as the guest reveals a big secret. He leaves and the couple fight about what he just revealed and what it means for their relationship. Black out and it’s intermission.

The second act is completely different from the first act. The dramatic tension is strong and the issues raised are powerful. The woman reveals secrets that were causing tension in her life and their relationship. This play would be greatly improved if they removed the idea of the threesome. Have the first act take place in a bar and change the title to Dark Secrets.

All in all, the second half is expertly acted and well written and does manage to make up for the bizarre first part. Get tickets now for Threesome through May 21st.

Quinn Delaney

2017 NON-EQUITY JEFF AWARD NOMINEES

Congrats to the 2017 NON-EQUITY JEFF AWARD NOMINEES!

PRODUCTION – PLAY

“At the Table” – Broken Nose Theatre

“How We Got On” – Haven Theatre Company

“Miss Holmes” – Lifeline Theatre

“The North Pool” – Interrobang Theatre Project

“Our Lady of 121st Street” – Eclipse Theatre Company

PRODUCTION – MUSICAL

“High Fidelity” – Refuge Theatre Project

“The Most Happy Fella” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

“Northanger Abbey” – Lifeline Theatre

“Urinetown” – BoHo Theatre

“The Wiz” – Kokandy Productions

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ENSEMBLE

“At the Table” – Broken Nose Theatre

“Bat Boy The Musical” – Griffin Theatre Company

“good friday” – Kristiana Rae Colon and Tara Branham in collaboration with Oracle Productions

“High Fidelity” – Refuge Theatre Project

“How We Got On” – Haven Theatre Company

“The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui” – Trap Door Theatre

“truth and reconciliation” – Sideshow Theatre Company

DIRECTOR – PLAY

Spenser Davis – “At the Table” – Broken Nose Theatre

Jonathan L. Green – “truth and reconciliation” – Sideshow Theatre Company

Robert Kauzlaric – “Cymbeline” – Strawdog Theatre Company

Victor Quezada-Perez – “The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui” – Trap Door Theatre

James Yost – “The North Pool” – Interrobang Theatre Project

DIRECTOR – MUSICAL

Fred Anzevino – “The Most Happy Fella” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Elise Kauzlaric – “Northanger Abbey” – Lifeline Theatre

Christopher Pazdernik – “High Fidelity” – Refuge Theatre Project

Stephen Schellhardt – “Urinetown” – BoHo Theatre

Scott Weinstein – “Bat Boy The Musical” – Griffin Theatre Company

ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – PLAY

Salar Ardebili (Khadim) – “The North Pool” – Interrobang Theatre Project

Ryan Hallahan (Dan) – “The Body of an American” – Stage Left Theatre

John Henry Roberts (Danny) – “The Little Flower of East Orange” – Eclipse Theatre Company

George Seegebrecht (Hauptmann) – “Hauptmann” – City Lit Theater Company

Kevin V. Smith (Vic) – “Taste” – Red Theater Chicago

Gage Wallace (Terry) – “Taste” – Red Theater Chicago

ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – MUSICAL

Maxwell J. DeTogne (Rob) – “High Fidelity” – Refuge Theatre Project

Henry McGinniss (Bat Boy/Edgar) – “Bat Boy The Musical” – Griffin Theatre Company

Henry McGinniss (Bobby Strong) – “Urinetown” – BoHo Theatre

Jordan Phelps (Tick) – “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” – Pride Films and Plays

William Roberts (Tony Esposito) – “The Most Happy Fella” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – PLAY

Jeannie Affelder (Marie) – “The Little Flower of East Orange” – Eclipse Theatre Company

Kim Boler (Mabry) – “Human Terrain” – Broken Nose Theatre

Elaine Carlson (Eleanor of Aquitaine) – “The Lion in Winter” – Promethean Theatre Ensemble

Amy Johnson (Tami) – “Falling” – Interrobang Theatre Project

Kat McDonnell (May) – “Once in a Lifetime” – Strawdog Theatre Company

Shalyn Welch (Darcy) – “The Kid Thing” – Nothing Without A Company

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – MUSICAL

Sydney Charles (Dorothy) – “The Wiz” – Kokandy Productions

Molly Hernandez (Amy) – “The Most Happy Fella” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Amanda Horvath (Tonya Harding) – “Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera” – Underscore Theatre Company

Stephanie Stockstill (Catherine Morland) – “Northanger Abbey” – Lifeline Theatre

Colette Todd (Diana) – “Next to Normal” – BoHo Theatre

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – PLAY

Adam Bitterman (Mick) – “The Seedbed” – Redtwist Theatre

Matt Edmonds (Biff) – “Death of a Salesman” – Redtwist Theatre

Robert Koon (Riley) – “Chagrin Falls” – The Agency Theater Collective

D’Wayne Taylor (Lucius) – “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train” – Eclipse Theatre Company

Justin Tsatsa (Josh) – “Falling” – Interrobang Theatre Project

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MUSICAL

Chuckie Benson (Lion) – “The Wiz” – Kokandy Productions

Scott Danielson (Officer Lockstock) – “Urinetown” – BoHo Theatre

Nick Druzbanski (Barry) – “High Fidelity” – Refuge Theatre Project

Joe Giovannetti (Herman) – “The Most Happy Fella” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Luke Meierdiercks (Felicia) – “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” – Pride Films and Plays

Steven Perkins (Tin Man) – “The Wiz” – Kokandy Productions

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – PLAY

Echaka Agba (Lauren) – “At the Table” – Broken Nose Theatre

JoAnn Montemurro (Faye) – “The Assembled Parties” – Raven Theatre Company

Deanna Reed-Foster (Trudy) – “Even Longer and Farther Away” – The New Colony

Kelli Strickland (Bananas) – “The House of Blue Leaves” – Raven Theatre Company

Kendra Thulin (Lisa) – “Wastwater” – Steep Theatre Company

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MUSICAL

Veronica Garza (Nancy/Tonya’s Mom) – “Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera” – Underscore Theatre Company

Nicole Michelle Haskins (Aunt Em/Evillene) – “The Wiz” – Kokandy Productions

Courtney Jones (Cleo) – “The Most Happy Fella” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Anne Sheridan Smith (Meredith Parker) – “Bat Boy The Musical” – Griffin Theatre Company

Jenifer Tyler (Mrs. Allen/Mrs. Tilney) – “Northanger Abbey” – Lifeline Theatre

Honey West (Bernadette) – “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” – Pride Films and Plays

SOLO PERFORMANCE

Philip Dawkins (Performer) – “The Happiest Place on Earth” – Greenhouse Theatre Center in association with Sideshow Theatre Company

Sarah Gise (Performer) – “The Amish Project” – Interrobang Theatre Project

ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A REVUE

Averis I. Anderson (Performer) – “An Anthony Newley-Leslie Bricusse Songbook” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Ian Rigg (Performer) – “Oh, Coward!” – Dead Writers Theatre Collective

Graham Thomas Heacock (Performer) – “An Anthony Newley-Leslie Bricusse Songbook” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Colette Todd (Angela) – “Honky Tonk Angels” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Leryn Turlington (Darlene) – “Honky Tonk Angels” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

NEW PLAY

Shepsu Aakhu – “Feral” – MPAACT

Philip Dawkins – “The Happiest Place on Earth” – Greenhouse Theatre Center in association with Sideshow Theatre Company

Zeljko Djukic – “Gentle” – TUTA Theatre Chicago

Jerre Dye – “Distance” – Strawdog Theatre Company

Ike Holter – “Prowess” – Jackalope Theatre Company

Alex Lubischer – “Bobbie Clearly” – Steep Theatre Company

Heather McNama and Nancy Nyman – “Resolution” – Pride Films and Plays

NEW ADAPTATION

Alex Higgin-Houser and David Kornfeld – “Haymarket: The Anarchist’s Songbook” – Underscore Theatre Company

Robert Kauzlaric and George Howe – “Northanger Abbey” – Lifeline Theatre

CHOREOGRAPHY

Aubrey Adams – “Urinetown” – BoHo Theatre

Breon Arzell – “The Wiz” – Kokandy Productions

Jon Martinez – “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” – Pride Films and Plays

Christopher Pazdernik – “High Fidelity” – Refuge Theatre Project

ORIGINAL MUSIC IN A PLAY

Natasha Bogojevich – “Gentle” – TUTA Theatre Chicago

Andrew Hansen – “Cymbeline” – Strawdog Theatre Company

Andrew Hansen – “Miss Holmes” – Lifeline Theatre

Ben Sutherland – “The Lion in Winter” – Promethean Theatre Ensemble

Shawn Wallace – “Rutherford’s Travels” – Pegasus Theatre Chicago

MUSIC DIRECTION

Jimmy Morehead – “The Wiz” – Kokandy Productions

Robert Ollis – Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” – Pride Films and Plays

Jeremy Ramey – “The Most Happy Fella” – Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Charlotte Rivard-Hoster – “Urinetown” – BoHo Theatre

Jon Schneidman – “High Fidelity” – Refuge Theatre Project

SCENIC DESIGN

Kurtis Boetcher – “Gentle” – TUTA Theatre Chicago

Kevin Hagan – “Our Lady of 121st Street” – Eclipse Theatre Company

Jeffrey D. Kmiec – “The Assembled Parties” – Raven Theatre Company

Michelle Manni – “High Fidelity” – Refuge Theatre Project

Greg Pinsoneault – “The North Pool” – Interrobang Theatre Project

Ashley Ann Woods – “Miss Holmes” – Lifeline Theatre

LIGHTING DESIGN

Erik Barry – “Haymarket: The Anarchist’s Songbook” – Underscore Theatre Company

Kevin D. Gawley – “A Wrinkle in Time” – Lifeline Theatre

  1. “Max” Maxin IV – “Urinetown” – BoHo Theatre

Alexander Ridgers – “Winterset” – Griffin Theatre Company

Brandon Wardell – “Bat Boy The Musical” – Griffin Theatre Company

COSTUME DESIGN

Aly Renee Amidei – “Northanger Abbey” – Lifeline Theatre

John Nasca – “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” – Pride Films and Plays

Rachel M. Sypniewski – “The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui” – Trap Door Theatre

Virginia Varland – “The Wiz” – Kokandy Productions

Elizabeth Wislar – “Urinetown” – BoHo Theatre

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SOUND DESIGN

Eric Backus – “A Wrinkle in Time” – Lifeline Theatre

Thomas Dixon – “peerless” – First Floor Theater

Thomas Dixon – “Wastwater” – Steep Theatre Company

Stephen Ptacek – “How We Got On” – Haven Theatre Company

Stephen Ptacek – “In To America” – Griffin Theatre Company

Matthew Reich – “The Promise of a Rose Garden” – Babes With Blades

PROJECTION DESIGN

Brock Alter – “In To America” – Griffin Theatre Company

Anthony Churchill – “The Body of an American” – Stage Left Theatre

Michael Stanfill – “Prowess” – Jackalope Theatre Company

FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY

Ryan Bourque – “Prowess” – Jackalope Theatre Company

Matt Hawkins – “Cymbeline” – Strawdog Theatre Company

 

 

 

Beautiful! Hedwig Dances Presents Of Time And Tide at Ruth Page Theatre (April 22, 2017)

The first piece is titled “Harbor”. It’s a duet by married couple Ben Law and Chih-Hsien Lin. It’s a playful piece in which they explore the push and pull of a relationship. They use brightly colored folding chairs which provide a great visual and an interesting tool to use in their performance.

The second piece, “Four Strong Winds”,  begins with a single dancer on stage. Leaves fall from the ceiling directly onto her. It’s a beautiful image reminiscent of the film, American Beauty. Some of the music used in this piece is also similar to the style of the movie.  Both the dance and the film are magnificent performances.

Towards the end of the second act, “Blues in My Sleep” by James Cotton plays as the dancers carry out a rolled up section of AstroTurf. When it is unrolled, a large shirt is found inside. Two of the dancers exchange wearing the shirt back and forth in very creative ways. The turf is also used creatively to alter the environment of the dancers.  It’s an incredibly fun piece and a fantastic way to end a night of great dancing.

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Get tickets now for Of Time And Tide for the final shows this weekend!

Quinn Delaney

Powerful! VÉRITÉ at Concord Music Hall (April 20, 2017)

VÉRITÉ is an electro-pop band from New York. They are fronted by Kelsey Byrne. Her strong stage presence and music is similar to Meg Myers. They both use powerful confessional lyrics such as “And we can fall in love for the weekend” on “Weekend”.

Their cover of “Somebody Else” by The 1975 is introduced by Byrne saying “This song is not mine.” It’s true she didn’t write the song, but she has reinterpreted the song and really made it her own. It is one of the highlights of her set. “I don’t want your body, but I hate to think about you with somebody else. Our love has gone cold, you’re intertwining your soul with somebody else.”

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They close with “Phase Me Out”, a song about a slow breakup. “Don’t you want to stay here, or do you want to phase me out? Don’t you want to lay here, or would you rather do without?” Byrne sings with great emotion which makes her live performances excellent.

See their setlists here.

Quinn Delaney

Visually Stunning! Broadway in Chicago Presents Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace (April 20, 2017)

The Broadway production of Aladdin isn’t just a straightforward adaption of the 1992 Disney film.  This charming musical entertains for 2 ½ hours (with an intermission) and adds new characters such as Aladdin’s friends, who fill the role of Abu. When the friends decide to become street performers, their witty nature becomes evident as one of them quips “Who would pay to see others sing and dance?”

The Cave of Wonders is a fantastic set. The finish used to create the shine is the same one used on C-3P0 in Star Wars. This show highlights 337 costumes. This is 100 more than any previous Disney production on Broadway.  It’s visually stunning! The Genie’s performance of  “Friend Like Me” in the cave is a stunning display of theatre that results in a standing ovation, in the middle of the first act!  Afterwards, Aladdin starts to speak to him and he cuts him off saying he needs a minute to catch his breathe.

9 Adam Jacobs (Aladdin). Proud of Your Boy Reprise. Photo by Deen van Meer

Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Aladdin, the US tour, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin, opening night April 19 at Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago, starring: Adam Jacobs (Aladdin), Anthony Murphy (Genie), Isabelle McCalla (Jasmine), Zach Bencal (Babkak), Mike Longo (Kassim), Philippe Arroyo (Omar), Jonathan Weir (Jafar), Reggie de Leon (Iago) and JC Montgomery (Sultan) directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw

The production is full of witty one liners that has the entire audience laughing and cheering.  The audience responds with thunderous applause when Jasmine says “A woman can rule the kingdom!” (83% of Chicagoans voted for Hillary).  A great local touch is shown when the Genie pulls a Cubs hat out of his pocket while he is looking for the lamp.

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Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Aladdin, the new musical, music by Alan Menken, lyrrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, Canada, starring: Adam Jacobs (Aladdin), James Monroe Iglehart (Genie), Courtney Reed (Jasmine), Brian Gonzales (Babkak), Brandon O’Neill (Kassim), Jonathan Schwartz (Omar), Clifton Davis (Sultan), Don Darryl Rivera (Iago), Merwin Foard (standby Jafar/Sultan), Michael James Scott (standby Genie/Babkak) and Jonathan Freeman (Jafar) directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw

The flying carpet is equally impressive. It glides high and across the stage as they sing the Oscar winner for Best Original Song, “A Whole New World”. The backdrop of the stage looks like the stars of the night which enhances this magical sight. This show is definitely worthy of its 5 month run in Chicago!

Get tickets now for Aladdin through September 10th!

Quinn Delaney

Discovering New Music is Right at Your Fingertips

By Liz Lawson

With today’s technology, finding a new band or singer is easy. Go on Spotify, YouTube, or even Facebook, and you’ll encounter brand new albums, recommended artists, and you can eat up most of your time with the genres you already listen to. I could spend hours perusing Spotify, with one artist leading straight to another.

However, this process does take commitment. You have to have a curiosity for music. I like to think of it like networking. If you put in the time with one band, it will lead you to another—but you have to be able to give a listen and go through a couple artists you’re not crazy about. However, it will lead you to your next favorite song or album.

Another way of discovering new music is simple—going to concerts and festivals. Most of the artists you go to see will have openers… or maybe they are the opener! This is a great way to get immersed in music—not to mention it’s always a good time, even if you don’t necessarily love the other bands you hear. The other week, a friend and I were at a show, and the guys that came on after the band that we were there to see looked like a mixture of Guns N Roses and Rascal Flatts.  We decided to stay and listen to the first song just based on principle.

However, it’s experiences like this that slowly round out your perspective on music, and potentially open your mind up to other genres or musical aesthetics that never occurred to you before. Recently, I was in Colombia, and I realized that I love Reggaeton—something that I may have never been exposed to had I not gone out to see live music in South America.

But you don’t have to travel the world for this type of experience. DIY shows happen everywhere—they could even be within a few blocks from your house. All you have to do is make the effort to locate shows and bands. Whenever I find a new band that I like, I check to see if they are touring.

A great way to do this is actually through PlaylistHQ. If you wanted to go to a show this week without knowing exactly who you wanted to see, you could go on PlaylistHQ and see who’s in town. Not all shows are expensive either—sometimes you merely have to pay a $5 cover charge for a night full of sensations… and who knows what it could lead to next.