Monthly Archives: December 2017

Fantastic! The California Honeydrops featuring Ellis Hall at The Troubadour (December 22, 2017)

“Top of the hill you see heaven – From the top of the hill you see home” sings Lech Wierzynski on one of their best songs, Brokedown- Parts 1 and 2. It features an absolutely infectious horn riff that gets everyone dancing. And just like every Honeydrops show, the New Orleans brass band style party is started quickly. Word has spread about this great band which is why this show is the second of two sold out nights at The Troubadour.

“I know we’ve come a long way – Still got a long way to go” begins Long Way. Before the song, Lech described the story of how he wrote the song. He knew he was due to write a socially conscious tune. The Black Lives Matter movement was really inspiring him to try “walking in the shoes of another.” One night he couldn’t sleep because he was sick with the flu. He got out of bed and the lyrics just flowed out of him. It’s such a great hopeful song, and it has become a staple of their shows.

In the middle of the show, they bring out Ellis Hall to rock the organ. As a Ray Charles protégé, he shares a lot of characteristics with his mentor. He has a similar flair and exuberance as he plays and sings. It’s a fantastic fit with the band and it makes for a great collaboration.

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“Now that you’re here to stay, you know the thrill is gone. I liked it better when it was wrong.” Everyone is singing along to When It Was Wrong.  “Some of you may think this song is about cheating. It’s actually about pretending to be cheating to spice up a long relationship.” Is this true, or does he just say this to please his girlfriend?

In total, it was another fantastic show by the California Honeydrops.  The venue was packed, balconies and all. They definitely made more fans this night and the future looks bright!

Quinn Delaney

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Hilarious! The Eight: Reindeer Monologues at Chance Theatre (December 15, 2017)

What if the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer isn’t all that it seems? What if we only know the toned down kids version. The Eight explores the very adult side of the story. It turns out that Dasher is a big fan of the drink. Cupid is the only gay reindeer. Well, the only openly gay reindeer. Prancer is a movie star who now goes by the name Hollywood. The shocking revelations go on including some very strong allegations against Santa that are all too relevant this year.

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The acting in this production is fantastically funny. A rotating cast is used for the eight roles. Each role is played by two to three different actors, who each give their character a uniquely hilarious interpretation. This has allowed the show to stay fresh in its 14th straight year. By just adding a few modern references, it feels like the entire show was written this year!  Also, the theater is small and intimate, which plays well with the monologue format.

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Skip The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol this year and get tickets now for The Eight: Reindeer Monologues through December 23rd!

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Quinn Delaney

Review: Evanescence at the Chicago Theatre (November 30, 2017)

Evanescence’s last scheduled performance in Chicago, on August 26, 2012 at Toyota Park was rained out. Thus, the Chicago crowd was very eager to see this New York band that doesn’t tour all that often. Adding to the excitement is the fact that they are joined by a full orchestra on stage, all dressed in black.

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On “Bring Me To Life”, Amy Lee, the lead singer, showcases her voice. The audience can’t help but wish that they also used a male singer like they did on the album for parts of the song.  Later on, Amy explains that the meaning of the next song has changed over the years. Now, it is about you, the audience, she says, just before launching into My Immortal. “You still have… all of me.”

 

When she returns for the encore, the sheet music is already on the piano. She grabs and puts it to side saying “I don’t need this. I wrote this. I lived this.”

See the full setlist here.

If you are a fan of Evanescence, check out Lizzie, playing at the Den Theatre.

Copy and paste this code into a new Spotify playlist to play the setlist:

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Excellent Ensemble! Becky Shaw at Windy City Playhouse (December 8, 2017)

Suzanna Slater’s father has just passed away. Her mother, Susan (yes, this is a bit confusing), and her adopted brother, Max, are discussing new revelations about their father. Apparently, he didn’t handle his money very well. Also, he had a romantic relationship with his accountant.  Emotions are running high as this family tries to move forward while being brutally honest with each other.

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The second scene flashes forward eight months. In this time, Suzanna met and married Andrew. Together they decide to set up his coworker, Becky Shaw, with her brother, Max. It’s clear from the get go that this isn’t a good match and things continue to spiral out of control from there.

The acting in this production is excellent. Michael Doonan plays Max perfectly as completely self-centered and without empathy to hilarious effect. Carley Cornelius is so funny as Becky Shaw, the coworker who is a little nuts. Michael Pogue does great playing the straight man, Andrew, among all these crazy people. Suzanne Petri is fantastic as Susan. Some of the best moments in the play are when she gives out advice so bluntly. Lastly, Amy Rubenstein is solid as Suzanna, trying to make everyone happy while she struggles to find happiness herself. They all work together excellently as an ensemble.

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Becky Shaw is an odd choice for a title, since this is more of an ensemble play than just about any single character. Perhaps it should be called The Slaters instead.

Get tickets now for Becky Shaw through December 17th!

Quinn Delaney

Review: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Presents An Evening of Crystal Pite at The Harris Theatre (December 7, 2017)

A Picture of You Falling : Crystal Pite, Choreography

This piece features two dancers repeatedly falling. Over electronic music, a voice narrates the fall: knees, hip, elbow, shoulder, head. The narration is reminiscent of Stranger Than Fiction. In both cases, the spoken words describe the action exactly as it is happening in a calm female voice.

The excellent music composition for this work is by Owen Belton. It’s a very unique piece that is truly a work of art.

 

The Other You : Crystal Pite, Choreography

This piece also features music by Owen Belton along with “Moonlight Sonata”, aka Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 27 No 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is also another duet.

With this strategy of having all the pieces done by the same choreographer, you really get a sense for her style. But at the same time, it takes away from the variety that is usually a major component of a Hubbard Street show.

Get tickets for An Evening of Crystal Pite through Sunday, December 10th!

Crystal Pite's Grace Engine

12/6/17 4:40:50 PM — Chicago, IL, USA Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s winter season tech of Crystal Pite’s “Grace Engine.” © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017

Quinn Delaney

Fantastic! Broadway in Chicago Presents Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at Cadillac Palace Theatre (December 6, 2017)

Beautiful is a fantastic musical that begins with Carole King as a young determined songwriter and ends at Carnegie Hall with her as a confident composer and entertainer. The story encompasses her relationship with her husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin. This talented duo wrote dozens of songs together during their tumultuous relationship. In addition, it includes the story of fellow song writers Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, their best friends and friendly competitors. The musical chronicles Carol and Gerry’s relationship which hinges on an unexpected pregnancy and subsequent marriage. King and Goffin’s relationship is a sharp contrast to Weil and Mann.   Cynthia is very hesitant to marry Barry because she doesn’t want to lose her identity as his songwriting partner and just become his wife, raising kids. The drama of watching these developing relationships and comparing them with today’s view on marriage held the audience captive.

The show has many humorous moments. Among them is a scene in which Cynthia and Barry are struggling to compose their new song, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”.  Barry begins singing the song in a very lethargic and apathetic manner because he doesn’t like the song. Cynthia chimes in that it just needs to be song in a lower key. Cut to the Righteous Brothers singing in their signature low vocal: “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips”. This is a fantastic piece of theatre and it’s moments like this that add context to the songs by revealing the stories behind them.

The music is absolutely fantastic. After a few notes, each song is instantly recognizable. It’s amazing the number of big hits these two couples wrote and how many different artists have sung their songs including James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, and The Animals, just to name a few. Often the performers get all the credit, but this amazing musical showcases the noteworthy contributions of the songwriters.

Get tickets now for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical through January 28th!

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Quinn Delaney

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Impressive! Broadway in Chicago Presents Gobsmacked! at The Broadway Playhouse (December 5, 2017)

If you are a fan of Pitch Perfect, The Sing-Off or Glee, you’ll love Gobsmacked! The entire cast is very impressive. They all have great vocal range. The most impressive is Ball-Zee, the beatboxer. It’s amazing the sounds he can produce just using his vocal chords. It’s incredible when he holds one microphone against his throat and makes a beat while simultaneously beatboxing into another microphone. Here is the full setlist:

 

ACT 1

  1. Pump It

 

  1. Mr. Brightside

 

  1. Telephone

 

  1. Mans World

 

  1. Shape of You

 

  1. Mercy

 

  1. Rolling in the Deep / Crazy
  1. Life on Mars

 

  1. Gobsmacked

 

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ACT 2

  1. Don’t Stop Me Now

 

  1. She Loves You

 

  1. Titanium

 

  1. Beat Box Solo

 

  1. Kiss

 

  1. Paint it Black
  1. Could It Be Magic

 

  1. Mash up

 

  1. Hey Jude

 

Get tickets now for Gobsmacked! through Sunday, December 10th!

 

Quinn