Monthly Archives: August 2017

Hilarious! Route 66 Theatre Company Presents A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center of New York City at The Den Theatre (August 29, 2017)

The show opens in the cancer ward at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC. The sound of heart-rate monitors and respiration machines provides the background as Karla visits her mom, Marcie. Even though Marcie is asleep in her hospital bed, Karla begins practicing her new standup material out loud. “I’ve been single for so long, I’m having wet dreams about my vibrator.” Her jokes are often very blue and dark and they provide just the right amount of comic relief needed in this setting. There are many more great one-liners throughout the show which are simply too good to spoil. On the other side of the room, separated by a curtain, Don is visiting his mother, Geena. He overhears the stand-up bits and is shocked by their content. The crowd cracks up as he paces around the room trying to decide how to respond. Eventually, he does confront Karla, but not by moving to her side of the room. Instead, he scolds her through the curtain. This results in a hilarious scene as they both make assumptions about each other simply based on their voices.

Mary Williamson is excellent as Karla. She comes to the role of playing a foul-mouthed comedienne naturally considering she has experience doing just that as the host of the Fly Honey Show. For two weeks, these shows overlap and she tackles both in a night. Fortunately they are both in the same venue, the Den Theatre.

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Stef Tovar is fantastic as Don. His facial expressions in the opening scene are priceless. He’s quite comical and he also plays the dramatic scenes very real as he reflects on his relationships with his wife and son throughout the show.

Meg Thalken is terrific as Marcie. The dynamic between Karla and Marcie is spot-on and their interactions highlight their complicated relationship even in the midst of Marcie’s diagnosis. She is very critical of her daughter, which definitely draws a reaction from the crowd.

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Judy Lea Steele plays Geena with style. The role is small, but every line she delivers is hilarious. The role is reminiscent of the Silent Bob character from the Kevin Smith movies.

This play seamlessly mixes humor and drama perfectly. Get tickets now for A Funny Thing… through September 23rd! You won’t be disappointed! Or, if you are in LA, catch it at the Geffen Playhouse between September 5th and October 8th!

Quinn Delaney

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Absolutely Fantastic! Dance for Life at Auditorium Theatre (August 19, 2017)

​Dance for Life 2017 is hosted by Carisa Barreca and Kevin Sciretta from The Second City. Barreca starred in The Art of Falling, a collaboration between Hubbard Street Dance and The Second City. Also, Sciretta saw The Art of Falling, three times! They did a fantastic job and really moved the night along well.

 In The Meantime…

Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theatre, and Trinity Irish Dance Company

The very first number features three dance companies. They each do their own unique style of tap dancing, one after another. A magical moment happens when they all dance together in a one-of-a-kind performance. The audience erupted in applause!

Excerpt from Joy

The Joffrey Ballet

 A single barefoot ballerina walks on stage. While holding her ballet slippers in front of her, she says “THIS is a shoe drop” — and proceeds to  drop her shoes. One by one, the other dancers join her and drop their shoes. It’s a very fun and silly start to a piece that definitely displays joy. The music used is Django Django’s First Light.

See the review of the full piece here.

In Tongues

Jessica Miller Tomlinson Choreography

This is ​a​ fun piece featuring Psycho Killer and Take Me To The River by the Talking Heads. At one point, a large bucket of water is brought out on stage. One by one, each dancers’ head is dunked into the water like a baptism and tossed to the side. Finally, the “dunker” dunks her own head and tosses herself on top of the pile. It’s a truly unique piece and it filled the audience with delight!

Giordano Dance Chicago

Can’t Take This Away

On a completely dark stage, a gospel choir takes the stage and begins singing beautifully. Then, ​t​he lights come on and the dancers appear as the audience cheers. The dancers close their set by then rushing into the aisles and continuing to dance with passion. Sweat flies from their brows as the audience erupts with applause and ​joy. The choir is singing their hearts out and it’s a fantastic close to the first half of the show. Nobody will be leaving at intermission!

Red Photoshoot

3/20/17 6:49:35 PM — Chicago, IL, USA Chicago Dancers United Dance For Life Red Photoshoot at Odd Machine © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Excerpt from A Picture of You Falling

This is Jason Hortin’s final performance for Hubbard Street. This piece features him alone, repeatedly falling. Over electronic music, a voice narrates the fall: knees, hip, elbow, shoulder, head. The excellent composition is by Owen Belton. It’s a very unique piece that is truly a work of art.

Dance for Life is an exceptional event to attend. The money raised goes to the The Dancers Fund which provides financial assistance to dance community professionals dealing with critical health issues. The collection of so many different talented dance companies together is amazing. This is definitely an annual show not to miss!

Quinn Delaney

Strong Set! Izzy Bizu opening for Coldplay at Soldier Field (August 17, 2017)

Izzy Bizu steps out on the enormous stage at Soldier Field, where the capacity is 61,500. This is a much different setting than her last appearance in Chicago, at the Bottom Lounge, in front of about 100 people. For those who arrived early, Izzy delivers a strong set. One of the highlights is “Someone That Loves You”, a track she released with HONNE. She sings “Don’t touch me. Boy I want you. Not allowed to. You have someone that loves you.” Exactly two weeks ago, HONNE performed this song just a mile away in Grant Park during Lollapalooza.   

To close out her set, she plays the fantastically peppy White Tiger, which whips the crowd into a dance party with its syncopated chords and strong bass line. Every girl in the audience wants to be her friend and every guy wants to take her out dancing. When her 45 minute set ends, the crowd is left wanting more. The future is looking good for Izzy Bizu.

Quinn Delaney

Chance, Blink-182, PUP, Cloud Nothings, Slushii and more at Lollapalooza in Grant Park

For three or four days every year, Lollapalooza transforms Chicago. While taking the train or walking the streets, it’s extremely easy, judging by their colorful tank tops, bandanas, and flower crowns, to pick out who’s on their way to the festival. Once you enter festival grounds, you immediately immerse yourself in this self-contained, colorful, insane little world of music and youthful nonsense, or more concisely, a Baby Boomer’s version of Hell.

But for us younger folk, the festival is a great place to mosh, sing, and kill brain cells. The ingenuity of the place is amazing; I once saw somebody dig up a bottle of booze by a marked tree that they had buried a week before with their bare hands. You can avoid all of this and just enjoy the music if you’d like, but watching the chaos unfold around you is half the fun.

Musically, the festival was no slouch. Favorites like local star Chance The Rapper, pop-punk banger group PUP (@puptheband), quirky indie rock act Cloud Nothings (@cloudnothings) gained new fans and invigorated old ones with their energetic ballads. Emerging future bass artist Slushii (@SlushiiMusic) performed a great set that had half the crowd knocking each other over in a giant mosh pit.

Last but certainly not least, beloved pop-punk giants c (@blink182) put on a fantastic and electrifying show. Despite a few shaky lineup changes the past few years, the band managed to retain their charm and humor for their performance. Being one of my favorite bands from my angsty teenage years, hearing “The Rock Show” live put a notch in my bucket list.

Justin Cabrera

Legendary! Foreigner at Hunting Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island (August 9, 2017)

In 1976, Foreigner was founded in New York City. In 1978, they toured with Cheap Trick. From 2004 to 2008, Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham) was the drummer for Foreigner. And now, for their 40th anniversary tour, the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience and Cheap Trick are opening!

Foreigner opens with “Double Vision” which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for two weeks in 1978. From there, song after song is a huge hit. Everyone there, from young to old, knows almost every word and happily sings along. They have installed their own custom lighting above the stage. It moves up and down and the lights go on and off perfectly with the songs.

Mick Jones, the founder and the leader of the band, is introduced by the lead singer, Kelly Hansen. He steps up and says “I guess it’s time for me to sing one. I thought the first album needed a spacey song, so I added this one.” He goes on to play “Starrider” to the crowd’s delight.

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After a strong keyboard and drum solo, they play a very familiar melody. It’s “Juke Box Hero”. The rest of the band enters the stage and the singing starts. “Standing in the rain, with his head hung low. Couldn’t get a ticket, it was a sold out show.” But where is the lead singer? Finally, he is spotted, on a 25 feet tall podium high above the crowd in the back. It’s a fantastic touch and further proof these guys know how to put on a fricking rock show!

For the encore, the Chesterton High School choir from Indiana joins the band on stage for “I Want To Know What Love Is”. It’s an epic moment as the audience decides to abandon their seats and crowd in front of the stage as they scream along to every single word and dance while embracing those around them. “I want to know what love is! I want you to show me! I want to feel what love is! I know you can show me!” They really should have ended the show with this song. Instead, they play one more, “Hot Blooded”. It’s a great song, but after they had a FULL CHORUS on stage, it’s a bit of a comedown. Put this song  first in the encore and you’d have a perfect show. Either way, this was an incredible night of music by one of the world’s greatest bands at a world class venue on a beautiful night in Chicago with everyone in attendance singing all the songs in their heads for weeks to come.

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See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney

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Review: Hair at Mercury Theatre Chicago (August 5, 2017)

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, first appeared on Broadway in 1968. In 1979, the film version was released. In 2009, a Broadway revival opened and won the Tony Award for best revival. And now, in 2017, the production is being staged at the Mercury Theatre.

In the musical, Claude is drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. His friends all tell him to burn his draft card and resist. The threat of jail time for failing to serve weighs on him.

HAIR, Mercury Theater - Ensemble (Brett A. Beiner)

The highlights of the show are the opening number, “Aquarius”, and the closing song, “Let The Sun Shine In”. The cast’s vocal talent is fantastic.

HAIR, Mercury Theater - Matt Keffer and ensemble (Brett A. Beiner)

Get tickets now for Hair through September 17th!

Quinn Delaney

Emo Legends! Cap’n Jazz at House of Vans

For many, the phrase “emo music” conjures thoughts of 2007 Myspace-core bands like Panic! At the Disco and My Chemical Romance being blasted through the speakers of their local Hot Topic. While there’s nothing wrong with those bands, the Midwest has been harboring its own much smaller, more intimate emo scene for the past few decades. Many bands in this scene, such as American Football,  have attained cult status through their themes of heartbreak, aimlessness, and angst. Chicago based Cap’n Jazz has released only one full length album, the eloquently named Burritos, Inspiration Point, Fork Balloon Sports, Cards in the Spokes, Automatic Biographies, Kites, Kung Fu, Trophies, Banana Peels We’ve Slipped On and Egg Shells We’ve Tippy Toed Over, and one anthology (Analphabetapolothology). Their discography is concise yet hugely influential within the scene. So, when the band decided to perform in their native Chicago for the first time in seven years, misunderstood youths from all over the city flocked to the House of Vans.

Upon meeting up with a friend, we entered the line for the show, which was over three blocks long (!!). We waited anxiously in line, unsure if we would get in due to the first come first serve policy. After about an hour of inching forward along sidewalks and alleyways, we finally made it to the entrance of the venue. Neither of us had heard of the House of Vans before, and expected the usual small Chicago bar. What we did not expect was a gigantic, smoky warehouse with an indoor skate park and a gigantic stage. The neon glow of the lights looked like something out of Blade Runner, and colorful murals and skate decks layered the walls. The staff was friendly and talkative, and they gave out beer to of-age fans. In case that wasn’t enough, a gigantic security guard even gave my friend a free slice of deep dish pizza.

The opening act, Hop Along, played an excellent set that combined indie rock with explosive grit. When they finished, Cap’n Jazz quickly took the stage and immediately launched their set. The band members were clearly having a great time with the crowd.  Frontman Tim Kinsella asked for audience members to throw their shirts on stage (he got dozens). Somehow, he managed to dive into the crowd without dropping his mic stand multiple times, screaming his cryptic lyrics as his fans literally lifted him up. He repeatedly threw his tambourine into the crowd. As my friend Mike foolishly tried to catch it, the tambourine slammed into his hand, bruising him. Elated that one of his favorite musicians bruised him, Mike enthusiastically jumped back into the pit.

Cap’n Jazz will be playing more shows across the US, so be sure not to miss being able to see these elusive emo legends live.

Justin Cabrera