Olympe de Gouges is struggling to write a play during the French Revolution when she meets Charlotte Corday. Corday is planning to assassinate a French journalist, Jean-Paul Marat, in order to save France. She has sought out the playwright to get a great line to say before killing him. Also helping out is Marianne Angelle, a Haitian rebel fighting for the freedom of her people. The last to join is Marie Antoinette, the former Queen of France. On a fun note, Kirsten Dunst portrayed the title character, Marie Antoinette, in 2006.
Lauren Gunderson wrote this play for its first production at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park in 2016. In 2017, she was the most produced playwright with 27 shows as reported by American Theatre. This play is very witty and quite meta as it mixes jokes about theatre and history with facts and fiction. “This better not be a play about a play”, says Corday. “Maybe we should call it Stabbing, The Musical!”
The cast does an excellent job. Sara Copeland is fierce as Charlotte Corday. When she says she is willing to kill and die for her cause, the audience believes her. Taylor Raye is very strong as Marianne Angelle. Her powerful rant is an intense experience. Laura Sturm is very funny as Marie Antoinette. “I want to have an exit like that!” she says. And lastly, Stephanie Sullivan is solid as Olympe De Gouges, who becomes aware that the only people that see her plays are the rich.
Get tickets now for The Revolutionists through July 8th!
It was a dreary Friday night. Relentless humidity and abysmal gray clouds hung over the city creating a picturesque environment for a DJ competition. All jokes aside, you would never have known the weather was poor based on the energy of both the performers and the crowd.
Jessie De La Pena emceed the event, keeping the audience engaged as each DJ boasted their impressive skills. His witty humor and happy-go-lucky attitude made it easy to loosen up a bit and get behind the performers. The mixes just got better throughout the night as well. Impressive transitions, creative uses of samples, and smart homages to the Chicago house music scene were on full display and it was hard not to just sit there in awe of how these DJs had truly mastered their craft.
Watching each set was an engrossing experience, but the competition aspect of it made it an even more fulfilling experience. Tensions were high as they announced the winner. Everybody put on an amazing show, but DJ Step finished as the winner of the competition. His innate ability to switch feels and timbres really separated him from the rest of the crowd. The runner-up, DJ Archi, also had people dancing with his propensity towards dance-floor soul music. Overall, it was a hard toss up between the two, but no wrong decision could be made.
On top of the various musical performances throughout the night, artwork, informational booths, and food were prominently displayed during Friday night’s Logan Square roundabout. There was plenty to enjoy all-around even if you somehow couldn’t get behind the grooves being displayed at the stage.
Imagine a world in which our emotions affect the weather. Imagine if a mentally ill person out of control could cause a hurricane that could lead to destruction and death. What would society do to control these people? Put them on medication? Insert an emotion control computer chip in their brain? Find out now in Organic Theatre Company’s world premiere of Tiresias Was a Weatherman.
The dialog is very dense in this production as they discuss deep philosophical issues such as climate change, mental illness, and many more. At times it’s a bit much to take in all at once. On the other hand, it is very funny, especially when the Greek Chorus embodies the weather as they dance and sing. Also, the name of the main corporation involved is called Crazy Pants Pharmaceutical Company! The cast does a great job tackling this complex script in this ensemble piece.
Note: The closing song of “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies is a great choice.
Get tickets now for Tiresias Was a Weatherman through July 6th.
This is David Blaine’s first ever tour stop in Chicago. Last year was the first time he ever toured North America. In this show, he performs many of the tricks and stunts that he did in his movie, Real or Magic and many other TV specials. This includes having a volunteer from the audience push an ice pick through his arm, swallowing a huge amount of water and then spraying all of it out to put out a fire, and regurgitating a live frog! He’s way more than just a charming magician. He’s a stuntman and an incredible daredevil!
For the finale, he brings out a large glass tank of water for a stunt not covered by his insurance. First, let’s take a look at a little history. In May of 2006, Blaine attempted to break the record live on ABC. He only managed to stay under for 7 minutes and 8 seconds, under two minutes from the record of 8 minutes and 58 seconds at that time. On April 30, 2008, he broke the world record for breath holding on the Oprah Winfrey show. His time was 17 minutes and 4 seconds. On tonight’s show, he stayed under for 10 minutes and 33 minutes. It’s not a world record, but still very impressive considering most people can only hold their breathe for about 2 minutes max.
As the night of June 10th progressed, a sauntering heat began to fill the Riviera Theatre. Even so, the suffocation of the venue’s air did not stop the diverse crowd from going all out. Head-banging and moshing immediately ensued upon the first song of Amyl and The Sniffers’ set. The eclectic sound and look of the group perfectly encapsulated the feel of the audience which, in turn, made for a very intimate performance. Rarely do openers strike this kind of personal connection with crowds’, so it was quite refreshing to see this effort from Amyl and The Sniffers.
While the crowd was grateful for that strong start to the night, the audience dropped all previous thoughts and engagements upon hearing the aggressive and downright heavy entrance of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard track “Digital Black”. The sinister track off 2017’s Murder of the Universe snapped the audience into form instantaneously with tremendous fervor. The impressively commanding music continued with the blissful psych-rock jam “Lord of Lightning”. Being a crowd favorite, “Lord of Lightning” propelled the creation of many mosh pits and overall just alleviated a lot of tensions within the crowd. The brute force and aggression didn’t maintain throughout the night, as King Gizzard also tap danced through many more laid back compositions.
“Sleep Drifter”, “The Wheel”, and “Beginner’s Luck” all saw King Gizzard exploring more free-flowing and jazzy contours. Tinges of Latin music, swing-era jazz, and psychedelia may not have reacted in the biggest pits of the night, but they were certainly welcomed changes of pace.
On top of the impressive display of music, the colors and tripped-out visuals projected throughout the performance made for an insanely immersive experience. At times, it was hard to take all of it in honestly, but perhaps that it is a sign that you are witnessing something that is truly beyond you. At the end of the day, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard put on a must-see show. Their layered backgrounds, unbelievable musical abilities, and overall showmanship make for an all-encompassing odyssey that you will not soon forget.
It’s 1648 and two guards are working the dawn shift before the first light on the day the Taj Mahal is finally completed. They josh around with each other about their dreams and their ideas for inventions in a modern conversational tone. They are the lowest ranking guards who have the only position that looks away from the Taj. One of them learns that the King wishes to cut off the hands of everyone who worked on the Taj, so that nothing as beautiful could ever be built again. Who would have to carry out this horrific task? As the lowest ranking guards, it must be them, they surmise!
The acting in this production is fantastic as they both are very funny and also very dramatic. Omar Metwally plays Humayun who likes to play by the rules. He contrasts with Arian Moayed as Babur, the rebel. Their on stage chemistry is excellent as they portray best friends tackling some dramatic events. It helps that they are friends with a history of performing together including starring in Homebody/Kabul together at Steppenwolf in 2003. Also, they both won Obie Awards for the first run on Guards at the Taj at The Atlantic Theatre in New York in 2016. Interestingly, Rajiv Joseph wrote this play for the two of them with their inputs.
The scenic design by Tim Mackabee is impressive. Upon entering the theatre, the audience just sees Humayun standing guard in front of a wall. After the initial scene, the wall rises to reveal the second part of the stage in quite a shocking theatrical moment. It’s a key part of a thrilling roller coaster of an experience!
Get tickets now for Guards at the Taj through July 22nd!
Giordano Moves – 2005 – reconstructed in 2017
This piece is pure jazz dance. It is expertly choreographed by the founder, Gus Giordano, and restaged by his daughter, Nan Giordano. Just like the original music by George McRae, it’s a mix of many people dancing at once and spotlighted solos. And just like at a jazz concert, the solos are followed by a loud applause by the audience. The dancing is incredibly expressive and it’s a great showcase of this company’s talent.
Feelin’ Good Sweet – 2014
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
To start the second half, Feeling Good by Michael Buble plays as the dancers move slowly around the stage. The lyrics slowly build: “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, for me. And I’m feeling good!” Then, the band comes in on the recording and the dancers burst to life. It’s an expertly choreographed dance to the song and the crowd goes wild. It’s an incredibly exciting performance and it’s a surprise that it is only taking place this night. It could surely sell out a week of a shows!
Wings – 1978
Choreographer: Gus Giordano
The curtain rises and a gospel choir, The Bourne Family, is on the stage in all white. Shortly afterwards, Cesar G. Salinas dances onto the stage. Salinas retired from dancing eight years ago, but he agreed to return for this performance in honor of Nan Giordano marking 25 years as the Artistic Director of GDC. Despite this long break from performing, he danced as if he was in the prime of his career and the audience responded with thunderous applause. It was both a celebration of Nan Giordano and a celebration of dance itself.
Catch Giordano Dance Chicago next at Dance For Life 2018 on August 18!
In 1888, Miss Julie was written by August Strindberg about the relationship between a young noble woman and her servant in Sweden. In 2013, Liv Ullmann directed a film version starring Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell set in Ireland. And now, in 2018, Yaël Farber’s version premiers at Victory Gardens Theatre.
Mies Julie and John are in love. There’s just one problem. Julie is the white daughter of the land owner and John is a black slave. If her father ever found out about them, he’d kill them both. She wants to run away with him, but he doesn’t want to leave his mother behind. This sounds like a story from the 1800s in the South to Americans. However, this story takes place in 2012 in South Africa. Apartheid ended in 1994, but this end hasn’t yet fully affected remote desert areas disconnected from current events.
The performances are so powerful and intense. Heather Chrisler (Machinal) is fantastically devious as Mies Julie. It’s a constant battle of one-upmanship with Jalen Gilbert as John, who she keeps calling a kaffir. This is a very offensive South African term for a black person. He matches her intensity and they have great chemistry together, even though they just met at the audition for this play. Celeste Williams is excellent as John’s mother who is just working hard to survive and not anger her master. Also, T. Ayo Alston is great as Ukhokho. She plays her instrument smoothly while she sings beautifully. It ties in well with the original music created by Stephen Ptacek for this production.
The play is only 72 minutes long. The shortness of the play allows the actors to spend less time learning the lines and more time working on the small details and it pays off. This attention to detail also applies to the set, which was designed by Kurtis Boetcher. It truly creates the scene with a 8 foot fan, a live bird in a cage, roots breaking the floor, and so much more.
Get tickets now for Mies Julie now through June 24!
If you are interested in learning more about apartheid, check out Born A Crime by Trevor Noah.
Three elderly women, Mary Cox, Jeri Grein, and Donna Hennessey sit on the right side of the stage. To begin, they each stand up one after another to tell the story of their childhood. While they are telling their stories, music plays and dancers interpret their tales into movement. It’s a unique and great exploration of growing up in the 1940s during World War II.
Next, they all tell the stories of meeting their husbands and the courtship that followed. Even though this happened over 50 years ago, each of them lights up as they tell their tales. This was also reflected in the joyful dancing taking place with captures their excitement.
Lastly, the women talk about losing their husbands. It’s very emotional. They all talk about seeing signs afterwards that their husbands were saying everything was going to be alright such as a twinkling star or a seat number having special significance. The dancing truly captures the sense of loss and also the acceptance. Deek Buckins and Felicity Lyon Nicholson’s were exceptionally fantastic.
It all tied together beautifully. Don’t miss In.Grained November 9th at The Glen Club!
When you hear the word festival it is reasonable to think of theatrical and produced musical moments, a constant yet thrilling reverberation of bass, or large fields of people. While the prototypical festival experience may fulfill much of this criteria, a festival may take whatever form it pleases.
Founded in Bolingbrook, IL, Sonderland is the brainchild of Ellie Hahn. Her vision was to showcase local music and art throughout Illinois, while also fundraising for good cause. Chicagoland Rape Victim Advocates received all of the proceeds earned from the event, only further demonstrating Hahn’s selfless nature. Held in the close-quartered venue that was Ellie’s home, Sonderland managed to hone in on something truly special: the beauty of unbridled love and creativity.
A wide array of genres were represented at each stage. The garage generally displayed more lush and active compositions. House DJs, Bedroom Indie Pop, and Jazz Fusion were all proudly displayed within the colorful confines of the garage. The wide-ranging perspectives shown at this stage were perfectly paired with a community mural as a backdrop. Jackson Davis and Templeton Vibes were particular standout performers with their deliberate, yet spontaneous-sounding compositions.
The second stage in the back showcased a more minimal and personal sound. CONA’s passionate, yet fun-loving rock set was wildly entertaining, and CJ Run’s personal and poetic hip-hop set was a perfect cap on the night. Their relentless flow coupled with their laid-back demeanor made for an experience that was both astounding and profoundly human.
At the end of the day, you do not need bright lights, huge pieces of land, or even the craziest budget to make something special. All you really need is a vision and some motivation. If you work hard and allow others to lend you a hand, anything is possible.