Monthly Archives: January 2019

A Solo Show: St. Nicholas at the Goodman Theatre starring Brendan Coyle (Through January 27, 2019)

Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey) plays a theatre critic with a big ego. He develops a crush on a young actress which leads him to tell everyone at the cast party that he gave them a great review. However, he actually just submitted a mixed review to his newspaper. But the party doesn’t know this and it leads to a enthusiastic party. Later on, he meets a vampire in a park who invites him to his house. Things get interesting from there.

The Goodman has had a bunch of one person shows recently. The Santaland Diaries just wrapped up. Lady in Denmark ran into November. We’re Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time ran earlier in the fall, but this one is really more than a one man show with a full band on stage. The stage is very interactive in “We’re Only Alive…” with objects coming in and off the stage and often changing lighting. In contrast, it’s only Coyle on stage for the entire show. The stage isn’t very interactive with a bucket of water being the only object he interacts with. Also, the lighting stays the same for the first half, and then again no changes during the second half.

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Brendan Coyle has a strong stage presence. But it’s even a challenge for him to keep the audience fully enthralled for the full two hours. This performance is probably best suited for fans of Downton Abbey or vampires.  “The idea of doing a solo piece never, ever appealed to me,” said Coyle (in the program). “For me, it was all about the power of ensemble.”

Get tickets now for St Nicholas through January 27th.

 

Cost of a ticket: $80 (Main Floor)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

 

Quinn Delaney

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Three Plays for the Price of One! Pegasus Theatre Chicago Presents The 32nd Young Playwrights Festival at Chicago Dramatists (Through January 27, 2019)

A Green Light by Alexis Gaw

A teenager comes out to his friend, but she is slow to accept it. It makes her uncomfortable and she doesn’t want to talk about it. She says she doesn’t like to talk politics. He responds that this isn’t the gay agenda, this is his life. Now that he has come out, he decides to approach his crush and ask him to the prom. This leads to the funniest scene of the night as they awkwardly talk through this encounter. The playwright truly captured the dialog of teenagers today and some of the issues they are dealing with. The cast does a great job inhabiting these characters and giving the audience a glimpse into their lives.

Fragile Limbs by Anonda Tyler

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A teenage boy is struggling with the violent deaths all around him in Chicago. A teenage girl is dealing with an emotionally abusive mother. On a chance encounter, they meet in a park. It’s a very cute display of flirting. “I’m not trying to kiss your kneecaps,” he says. They go on to help each other with their troubles. Once again, the playwright has captured the voices of the high schoolers and their issues. Also, the cast embodies the characters fantastically.

Good Strong Coffee by Luna MacWilliams

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In a gentrifying neighborhood, a brother and sister struggle to run a coffee shop left to them after their parents passed away. The brother has a wife and a child who just took his first steps. The sister has artistic ambitions and is focused on performing at open mics. This play differs from the other ones in that the characters are a bit older dealing with issues most teenagers don’t face. Thus, the cast seemed a bit out of their element playing adults.

Get tickets now for The 32nd Young Playwrights Festival through January 27th!

Cost of a ticket: $30
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Wide Variety! Repertory Dance Theatre presents Emerge at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center (January 5th, 2019)

As with most dance performances containing a wide variety of dances, some will resonate more with me than others. Here are my personal highlights.

V0 – V26

Choreographed and Performed by Elle Johansen, Lauren Curley, and Hannah Marks

Music by A Cloud for Climbing

The piece begins with three climbing mats upright on the stage. Suddenly, they begin to move and it’s revealed that the dancers have them strapped to their backs. Later on they remove the mats and fall on them repeatedly as if falling while climbing. This is a truly unique idea for a dance that is easy to follow and a great starting piece.

 

Trifle

Choreographed and Performed by Terry & Jaclyn Brown (Spouses)

Music by Martin Gauffin and Elvis Presley

The dance begins with the couple toying with each other. They get in each other’s way in a comical fashion. Then, in the second half, their arms interlock and they can’t get loose as “Stuck on You” by Elvis Presley plays. They spin and twist around connected to each other. It’s a very cute piece that shows how this couple plays together through their challenges.

 

Navigation

Performed by Efren Corado Garcia

Music by J.S. Bach

Rows of takeout boxes cover the middle of the stage. The dancer navigates his way through them without touching them. In the end, he opens one and finds a rose. It feels like this was his search for love. However, how can he know the value of what he has found if he didn’t open any of the other boxes?

 

MASC (part 2)

Choreography: Dan Higgins

Performers: Dan Higgins, Kaya Wolsey, Micah Burkhardt

Music by Perera Elsewhere, Entropy Worship, Luke Howard

This is the most artistic piece of the evening. The dancers appear in gold corsets covered in gold body paint from head to toe. It’s two men and one woman in an otherworldly place that feels like Atlantis. Towards the end, one man pulls the woman away and dances just with her, as the other longingly looks on while somber music plays. It’s a very modern piece that is very well executed and stands out as a great work of art.

To learn more about the Repertory Dance Theatre, visit their website here.

Quinn Delaney

The Unique Voice of Macy Gray at City Winery Chicago (December 29, 2018)

Forty minutes after her scheduled start time, Macy Gray takes the stage. She is wearing quite a loud dress with circles of different colors that matches her style. Upon hitting the first note, her unique voice is instantly recognizable. After the first song, she introduces all the members in the band. It’s a bit unusual to do this so early and it results in a very slow start to the show. Nonetheless, Macy quickly recovers and brings the show back to life as she covers, “Creep”. Since Radiohead rarely plays this song, it’s a good choice and it sounds great with Macy’s voice.

 

 

 

Soon afterwards, Macy begins pleading with the audience to get up and dance. At the City Winery, the crowd is tightly packed in at tables without much room for dancing. Thus, nobody dances except those without seats. Still, she continues to ask everyone to party with her. She indicates it would be a great post-Christmas gift to her. And sure enough, slowly but surely, everyone rises to dance to “Beauty in the World”. She is clearly delighted to have everyone up and quickly leads into “I Try”. Even though it was released back in 1999, this song still sounds fresh and is by far her most popular song with 110 million streams on Spotify.

 

 

Most people probably expected the show to end there, but she goes on to play a few more songs including “Brass In Pocket” by The Pretenders. There’s a reason bands end with their most popular song. It leaves the audience with the climactic moment most fresh in their minds as they head out. Having other songs afterwards has a bit of a cool down effect and isn’t ideal.

 

 

Cost of a ticket: $65

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

 

Quinn Delaney