Monthly Archives: May 2017

Review: The Library at The Great Escape Room Chicago (May 28, 2017)

You have 60 minutes to prove yourself worthy and escape the room. There are four color coded stations. Each station lists the number of clues available in the room (from 6 to 21) and each clue has a colored sticker on it. This makes it easy to determine what is a clue and what is not. The clues involve blacklights, an old board game, combination locks, tools, and more.

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Tonight’s team consisted of 3 groups totaling 10 people. All the groups worked together well solving the puzzles. It seemed like we had a very slow start, but then all the pieces started to fall into place. We used the magnifying glass on the green puzzle to learn that an item in the room probably should have also had a green sticker on it to identify it as a clue. This freed up the group to focus and complete the other three puzzles and lead to a new record time of 49:22!

Book your escape now!

Quinn Delaney

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Must See! Remy Bumppo and Silk Road Rising Present Great Expectations at the historic Chicago Temple (May 26, 2017)

Pip is a boy in India being raised to be a cobbler. An anonymous benefactor gives him the opportunity to move to Calcutta (now Kolkata) and become one of the upper class. However, he soon discovers it’s not that easy and he questions if he will ever be accepted as more than just a common Indian boy among the British ruling party.

The story combines a classic English novel and an Asian country.  Thus, it naturally follows that two theatre companies would come together, one that specializes in each of the two parts. Remy Bumppo and Silk Road Rising have done just that and they have done it wonderfully. It’s incredible how well this story fits when transferred to the setting in India with their caste system. Tanika Gupta uses 90% of the original dialog and yet it still feels completely fresh and new.

Anand Bhatt performance is especially impressive. He is on stage for the majority of the three hour show. Also of note, Lane Anthony Flores is hilarious as Herbert Pocket. He brings a great comedic element to the play. In fact, the entire cast does an excellent job bringing this piece to life and making it a must see show of the summer.

Get tickets now for Great Expectations through July 2nd!

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Quinn Delaney

Smart & Funny! Death & Pretzels Presents Musical Therapy at Gorilla Tango Theatre (May 25, 2017)

Theresa is a couples therapist hatching a master plan to end up with Mr. Wonderful. Step 1: Get one of her clients to come out of the closet by bringing out “the boys”. Step 2: Break up the extremely kinky couple. Step 3: Break up Mr. Wonderful and his girlfriend disguised as a waiter. Step 4: Re-couple everyone in new relationships including herself with her dream man.

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The entire cast is excellent. They fully transform on stage, regardless of how different they are from their character. If you met an actor on the street after seeing this show, it would be hard not to assume they were actually a dominatrix, lesbian, or dumb jock. The keyboard player and drummer are flawless as they accompany the great singing voices of the cast. Listen to demos of the song here.

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Will this devious scheme work out? Find out now at Musical Therapy through June 10th!

Quinn Delaney

New York Psychedelic Rock: The Midnight Hollow Interview

By Liz Lawson

Spencer Draeger grew up in San Francisco listening to his dad’s Roxy Music albums and believing there was nothing more powerful than a live music performance. Throughout high school and beyond, he formed and played with bands made up of his closest friends. When his previous band imploded, he was left without his best friends, a band, or a clear identity.

With virtually nothing to his name, Spencer saddled up. He had already made the decision that music would be his living, and he was going to stick to that. He worked as a bartender in order to buy his own equipment and record his own songs. Through this process, he taught himself how to play a variety of instruments, and recorded four representative songs by himself. He did this by playing each part and layering the recordings on top of each other—the effect of a full band from just one guy. After crafting the four songs, he decided it was time to move to New York City.

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Immediately he realized how much more vast and dense NYC was than his hometown. It took him about 6 months to meet drummer Andrew Segreti from a mutual friend at a bar one night, and they immediately hit it off. Spencer acknowledges that the way he describes his and Andrew’s chemistry makes it seem romantic—and he does indeed call it “the perfect relationship.” Andrew introduced Spencer to bassist Matt Leibowitz, and there you have it—the three original members of The Midnight Hollow.

A band that values spontaneity, Spencer says his favorite songs to perform are ones like “That Rabbit Talk” and “Forward,” where he gets to put his instrument down. He creates a community in the room—as opposed to playing music at an audience, the band gets to play with them. He has “frontman freedom,” where he hypnotizes listeners and fully immerses them in the sounds they’re hearing. It’s some pretty psychedelic stuff.

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The band got their name from a fellow bartender. Late one night, while dealing with rude drunk people, one of Spencer’s coworkers remarked, “The people that come into this bar are so hollow.” Since then, the band’s message to the world has been directed at drunk people who demand the cheapest shot that also has the highest alcohol content, and proceed to not leave a tip. All the proceeds from The Midnight Hollow’s shows go towards bartenders who are recovering from college girls out for their friend’s 21st birthday.

Joking aside, The Midnight Hollow’s sound has a way of creating an experience for the listener. As you continue to listen to their songs, you get more and more invested in them. Their style is one that constantly surprises and intrigues. From upbeat dance tunes like “Walls,” to trance-like alternative crescendos like “Her Morning Glow,” they have songs that inspire a wide variety of emotions.

As we went on talking, Spencer stressed the importance of his newly found independence after breaking away from his previous band. An incredible learning experience, he has fallen more in love with writing songs and recording now that he has gone through the process all on his own—and feels more confident about them, too. With The Midnight Hollow being a more self-sufficient band, each member can burrow in their respective apartments and have their own creative process when constructing a song. In this way, Spencer says their songwriting has become much more individualized. Being an artist comes from within the self, and the band’s songs together reflect this more than ever.

With an EP called “For the People Inside” and several singles already, The Midnight Hollow just released “Peach Juice,” an incredibly energized, eighties-inspired, punk track. The song sounds the same way that you feel after a night of heavy drinking—recalling a fun, fuzzy, whirlwind of memories. But, as there usually is with binge drinking, there’s some sense of darkness and regret. The lyricism also brings up the daily sexism that restrains women—catcalling, unwanted stares, etc.—which is incredibly important for today’s audience to be confronted with. While the song is exciting and tasteful, it’s also relevant.

Spencer tells me that the band is working on a few new kick-ass singles that will be released shortly. Do yourself a favor and check them out on SoundCloud, and if you still have AIM you can send Spencer a message—his screen name is c00000000lguy.

Impressive! Nomi Dance Company Presents Ten Yeared at Athenaeum Theatre (May 20, 2017)

It’s the 10 year anniversary for the Nomi Dance Company and they have put together quite a show. It’s an impressive collection of pieces and it’s crazy that it only happens one night. It could surely run for a full week! Here are some of the highlights of the night:

 Bite Your Tongue

The dancers appear in full suits and dance to “Dangerous” by the xx. It’s a fantastic song choice and the contemporary dancing matches it perfectly. It’s a great start to the second half.

Going Crazy Pt 1 – Interlude

“I am going slowly crazy” by Dr. Jean Feldman is a song for kids. The dancers act like kids losing their minds. It’s a funny and strange piece.

Boiling Point

 The song used, “Under” by Ellen Allien & Apparat, is an electronic dance song. The sleek dancing and slick lighting together with this music make for a visually stunning performance.

Begin Again

The dancers are once again in their suits as “Make Me Lovely” by Laura Mvula plays. It’s a great finale to the show!

A compilation of rehearsal videos

Quinn Delaney

Review: Irish Theatre of Chicago Presents My Way Residential at the Den Theatre (May 19, 2017)

“I’m not spending one night in this hell hole!” says Willa, a 78 year old woman from Galway about the nursing home she has just entered. Her daughter, Catherine, has other ideas. She is tired of caring for her mother and has more exciting affairs to tend to. Byron is a 24 year old South African working at the nursing home because it is one of the few places he can work without immigration papers. Initially, Willa is very hostile to everyone at the home, including Byron. However, Byron persists and tries to form a kinship with her.

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The entire cast is great. Carolyn Kruse (who also starred in Spinning) plays the role of the annoyed daughter fantastically. Belinda Bremner is delightful as Willa showing her displeasure with her situation. Christine Bunuan is excellent as Sister Chang. She lays down the rules and derives great pleasure in enforcing them. Jeff Christian plays the husband of Catherine with a surprise up his sleeve. Lastly, Terry Bell is the star of the show as Byron. It’s very dramatic when he tells his backstory and his acting is spot on.

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Get tickets now for The My Way Residential through June 25!

Quinn Delaney

Top 5 Moments of Erik and Jessie and Everyone You Know at The Den Theatre (May 15, 2017)

This evening felt like a large gathering of talented friends playing music together and celebrating the arrival of summer at a memorial day BBQ. It was an incredibly joyous event and everyone was happy to be there. Here five of the best moments:

  1. Erik and Jessie and Everyone You Know play a fantastic tribute to Chuck Berry – “You Never Can Tell”. And yes, it is that song from Pulp Fiction.
  1. Diego Colon of Diego Sol & The Metronomes was excellent. See their tiny desk video here:

  1. Cruz Gonzalez Cadel leading everyone in a Latin dance party which started with “Barbie Girl” by Aqua. This demonstrated what a great audience was in attendance as everyone got up to dance.

4. Erica Elam and Jesse Case performing Musical Improv about Dr. Robinson!

  1. E&J&EYK play “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder!

Catch Erik And Jessie next at Steppenwolf on June 19th!

Quinn Delaney