Monthly Archives: April 2019

Excellent! Cambodian Rock Band at Victory Gardens Theatre (Through May 5, 2019)

A young rock band is making a new album in Cambodia. Instead of fleeing the country when it is eminent that the Khmer Rouge will be taking over, they decide to stay and play one last show. This turns out to be a major mistake when the Americans withdraw their forces and the Khmer Rouge takes over the airport. Their chance for escape is gone. Thirty years later, the daughter of one of the band members returns to Cambodia seeking justice for the prisoners of S21 and answers about her father’s history.

The play combines these dramatic scenes with live performances of music by Dengue Fever, an LA band that plays Cambodian 1960’s style rock fronted by a Cambodian pop star. The band is playing across the street on May 1st!
The actors in this productions are very talented. In addition to performing the dramatic scenes, they also play their instruments live and sing! Greg Watanbee’s range from a goofy father to the bass player to the prisoner is especially impressive. The rest of the cast consists of Rammel Chan, Eileen Doan, Christopher Thomas Pow, Peter Sipla, Aja Wiltshire, and Matthew C. Yee.
There are a few small things that could be improved. Firstly, not shining the concert lights directly into the audiences and blinding them. Secondly, after the extremely dramatic scene at the end, the band should play a slower sad song before playing the upbeat fun songs. Jumping straight to the happy song was a very abrupt transition, like in You Got Older. Playing a cover like, The Times They Are a Changing, which they do use at another point

King of the Yees, also written by Lauren Yee, is also about a daughter exploring the past of her father. Both plays combine humor and drama, though Cambodian Rock Band is much more intense.
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Get tickets now for Cambodian Rock Band through May 5th!
Cost of a ticket: $52
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother
Quinn Delaney
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Excellent! Bunbury Theatre Presents Grace and Glorie at Henry Clay Theatre (Through April 28, 2019)

Grace is 90 years old and is living alone in her house on a mountain next to an apple orchard. Glorie is new to the area, having just moved from New York City with her husband. Glorie decides to volunteer with hospice while she looks for a new job.  It is through hospice that Glorie meets Grace. The goal of hospice is to care for patients in the final months of their life attending to their needs

These two women develop an  unexpected friendship. Through laughter and compassion, they realize they share a lot in common despite coming from such different backgrounds. Their light-hearted interactions evolve into very deep conversations about life and death.

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The acting in this production is excellent. Rena Cherry Brown is superb as Gracie, playing her as a stubborn old woman possessing the wisdom of age. She nails the characterization of having a hard exterior with a soft center. Katie Graviss Bechtler is great as Glorie. She truly seems like a NYC transplant, a bit lost in a country home in the mountains trying to find out what she wants to do next with her life. Together they make quite an odd couple that are a joy to watch for the full two acts.

Get tickets now for Grace and Glorie through April 28th!

Cost of a ticket: $23
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Review: Sweat at the Goodman Theatre (Extended Through April 21, 2019)

This is the story of three women and two men who are working at a factory in Reading, Pennsylvania. One of the women gets promoted and the other two become jealous. In the first scene, we see the two men being questioned independently by a police officer. We then flashback to before the incident where they all are all hanging out a bar complaining about work.
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Then one night, a bunch of the machines from the factory are removed. Everyone is worried about layoffs and the tension rises. Management offers everyone a huge pay cut to avoid layoffs and then the union goes on strike. The bartender is only one who remains calm. He wisely says, “When the well runs dry, it’s time to move on.”
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Mike Cherry (American Journalero) is fantastic as Jason, who has a bald head with a swastika tattooed on it in the present, but is just a normal worker in the flashbacks. Steve Casillas is also great as Oscar, the Latino who works at the bar and then crosses the picket line to work at the factory. Chaon Cross is hilarious as the drunk often spending the night in the bar. Lastly, Keith Kupferer (Support Group for Men) is superb as the wise bartender.
Cost of a ticket: $64 (Main Floor)
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother
Get tickets now for Sweat through April 21st!
Quinn Delaney

Party Music! Shwayze at Beat Kitchen (April 5, 2019)

Shwayze created a new style of rap with his musical partner, Cisco Adler. It a sun and fun filled style completely different from the NY or Detroit style. And tonight, he brings this party music to Chicago’s Beat Kitchen. Early on, he plays a new song that is a bit darker and harsher than his usual style. However, he quickly gets back to his roots with “Buzzin'”. “She was buzzin’ all over me like she fell in love” sings along everyone as they sway to the beat.

Shwayze is in a party mode as he asks the bartender for some tequila, because he is all out. Fans go ahead and start to buy him shots. He goes on to take about 4 shots throughout the night. One fan ups the ante and hands him a lit joint mid song. He takes a puff and then carries it around with him until the next break in the song when he can take another puff. Then, he hands it back to him. Shortly afterwards, this fan is escorted out of the building, despite the pleas from Shwayze saying “Don’t kick him out!”

The ejected fan luckily only missed a few songs, including the closer, “Corona And Lime”. “Baby, will you be my Corona and lime? And I will be your main squeeze.” It’s impressive how he can command a room with just a microphone and a DJ behind him.

Catch Shwayze on tour now!

Cost of a ticket: $19
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Exceptional Value! The New Colony Presents Small World at The Den Theatre (Through May 4, 2019)

A disaster strikes Disney World. Three employees are trapped inside the “It’s a Small World” ride. Kim is seriously injured but she tries to stay calm. Donny is sure they won’t be rescued and is determined to find a way out. Becca is caught between them, unsure of what to do.
This ensemble piece, written by Jillian Leff (Missed Opportunities) and Joe Lino (Grace, Fun Home) is a very dramatic play with life or death stakes. However, it is also very humorous. An especially fun scene is when they successfully stop the music from playing. It’s a fun moment of celebration in a tough situation.
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The acting in this production is fantastic. Stephanie Shum (Plainclothes) is so funny as Kim, trying to stick to the Disney rules in this time of crisis while also wailing in pain. Patriac Coakley is great as Donny, manically searching for an escape. Lastly, Jackie Seijo is excellent as the normal one reacting to these two big characters.
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Get tickets now for Small World through May 4th!
Cost of a ticket: $25
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother
Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Requiem for a Heavyweight at The Artistic Home (Through April 14, 2019)

Mountain McClintock is a prize fighter past his glory days. After a brutal defeat, his pain only deepens following a visit from the doctor sharing devastating news that his next best move is retirement. He has been boxing for 14 years now and and he cannot visualize any other career.. His friend takes him to a job agency where he struggles to describe his talents. The woman working at the agency takes a strong interest in him and is determined to find an alternative passion. On the other hand, his manager wants him to take up professional wrestling, an idea Mountain strongly opposes.

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It’s a story many people can relate to. What do you do when lose the job you’ve had for so long? You’ve become so specialized, it seems impossible to do anything else. This play really captures Mountain’s inner battle.

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It is seating in the round for this show which creates a very intimate atmosphere. The boxing is happening just inches away. It is actually a bit too close and loud when the entire cast is clapping their gloves together violently. Thankfully, this only happens a couple times.

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The acting in this production is excellent. Mark Pracht (School for Lies) is fantastic as McClintock, a man lost without his former sense of purpose. Patrick Thornton is also great as his manager, a man just trying to figure out where he can make his next dollar.

Get tickets now for Requiem for a Heavyweight through April 14th!

Cost of a ticket: $36
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney