Category Archives: Theatre Reviews

Fantastic! Spamilton at Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre (October 15, 2017)

Spamilton parodies more than just Hamilton. It pokes fun at many different Broadway shows including Book of Mormon, (aka, “Last Year’s Hit” featuring Hello!), Cats (Memory), and Ragtime. Other targets include the actors in Hamilton, such as Lamar Odom, who played Aaron Burr. Odom is sure that he won’t be in the movie version, whenever it happens. The main target is Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. They joke about how he is everywhere now, from all the late night shows to Moana to Mary Poppins!

The music is fantastically done. Most of the songs parodied are from Hamilton, including “His Shot” where he sings, “I am not gonna let Broadway rot!”. The album is now completely on Spotify. Also, the cast does a great job with the lyrically dense numbers.

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Get tickets now for Spamilton in New York or Chicago!

Quinn Delaney

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Hilarious Satire! First Floor Theatre Presents Two Mile Hollow at The Den Theatre (October 12, 2017)

In this absurdist satire, the family is Caucasian, but the actors are all non-white and wearing blond wigs. They hilariously portray this rich, out of touch, east coast family. For example, the actors use a speech device akin to lockjaw which amounted to the elitist pronunciation of foreign words to emphasize intelligence. Yet, the effect displayed rudimentary understanding, and a total lack of self-awareness.

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The father, Derrick Donnelly has just passed away and now they are selling the house in the Hamptons.  Arguments ensue about who gets which items, especially the motorcycle. Emotions flare up as the sister kisses her brother. She confesses how she always felt about him. His response is “Barf! … Barf! … Barf City!” The audience is roaring with laughter. The show is filled with great moments like this.

The music choices in the production are fantastic. At one point, they sing a song that their maid claimed is an old one from Buenos Aires. “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t be love”. All the family starts singing it together in a very funny moment. “That song is by the Beatles”, exclaims Charlotte, the one non family member in the house. Also, In an emotional scene at the end, they play “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve. It’s such a great comedic choice.

Get tickets now for Two Mile Hollow through November 4th and prepare to laugh your ass off!

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Quinn Delaney

What is Truth? Interrobang Theatre Presents Foxfinder at Athenaeum Theatre (October 2, 2017)

William Bloor is a new Foxfinder. He has been training for this task since he was five years old. His job is to determine if farms are not meeting their quotas due to foxes. However, these aren’t your ordinary foxes. They have supernatural powers such as the ability to change the weather and affect your dreams. On the contrary, there is a movement that says foxes are almost extinct in England. They claim the government is just using Foxfinders to take over farms. What is the truth? Do these monstrous foxes even exist?

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Bloor shares many qualities with Chris Cooper’s character in American Beauty. They are both forced by society to live in a certain way that is against their wishes. This restrain leads both of them to shocking climaxes.

The set design by Eric Luchen is fantastic. It looks like they cut a house from rural England in half and planted it on the stage. Oftentimes, it is raining and you can see actual water falling on the characters as they enter or exit the house. The sound design and original music by Jesse Case is also excellent. It sets up the eerie atmosphere and provides great transitions between scenes.

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The play does drag on a bit in parts. Perhaps this is because the image of foxes isn’t very frightening. Maybe if it was a wolf or a monster, the suspense would be heightened. Also, the play is a bit long, an hour and 40 minutes, to not have an intermission. But these faults are minor and overall it is a great production.

Get your tickets for Foxfinder now through November 5th!

Quinn Delaney

Intimate and Emotional! Fun Home at Victory Gardens Theatre (September 28, 2017)

Fun Home isn’t your typical sing and dance musical. Instead, it’s more intimate, emotional, and styled like a Steppenwolf play. Specifically, it shares a lot in common with Mary Page Marlowe. Both shows have multiple actresses playing the same character at different times in her life. Both jump around in time, both forwards and backwards. And finally, both are extremely well written and executed.

In Fun Home, which is short for funeral home, the children perform an imaginary advertisement for the funeral home called Come to the Fun Home. The choreography is so fun and hilarious. It shows off the talents perfectly of the child actors in the show. Everyone had a smile on their face after this funky jam.

Another amazing song is Changing My Major which Allison sings about being excited and joyful after having sex with Joan. It’s such a fun song about teenage love and self-discovery. It showcases the singing and comedic talent of the actress playing college aged Allison.

For the best song of the show, the youngest Alison notices a butch delivery woman and feels an inexplicable kinship with her (Ring of Keys). The song sends shivers through the audience as she begins to discover herself in this woman. Also, the song sounds beautiful too as it just bursts with joy.

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There are only two small changes this play could use. Firstly, Joe Lino, who plays many different characters, should have more distinct costumes so the audience isn’t confused about who he is playing. Secondly, the fact that Allison’s dad dies, which is revealed very early in the play, should not be stated. It would make for such a big climax to only discover this at the end. It would also make Rob Lindley’s performance, which is excellently nuanced, even more powerful.

Compared to the Broadway version that toured Chicago last year, this production is far more intimate and funny, which is perfect for this play. Also, the band is visible at the back of the stage, which makes the music more powerful.

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Catch Fun Home, the winner of five 2015 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, now through November 12th!

Quinn Delaney

Stunning! A View From the Bridge at Goodman Theatre (September 18, 2017)

In 1955, A View From the Bridge was first staged at the Coronet Theatre on Broadway. In 2014, Ivo van Hove’s revival premiered at the Young Vic Theatre in London and later relocated to the West End and Broadway. In 2016, the production won Tony Awards for Best Revival and Best Director. And now, in 2017, it arrives in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre.

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Eddie Carbone is raising his niece and the two of them develop a very close relationship.  Perhaps it is too close as Eddie struggles to let her go when she is ready to move out. At the same time, the family welcomes his cousins from Italy.  The cousins entered the United States illegally to work and send money back home home. When one of the cousins starts to date his niece, Eddie gets jealous and the tension starts to build as everyone’s emotions begin to boil. This tension and story line leads to several dramatic scenes that has the audience on the edge of their seat and a finale that is absolutely stunning.

 

The acting in this production is incredible. Ian Bedford is a force as Eddie. When he starts to lose control in his own house, his anger is palpable. It feels like he could lash out at any moment. To counter him is Andrus Nichols as Beatrice, his wife. Nichols plays the role strong and tough as she pleads with Eddie to let Catherine go. Catherine Combs as Catherine, his niece, is excellent playing the young innocent girl who begins to lose her innocence as the struggle unfolds.

The sound design by Tom Gibbons is exquisite. There is minimal music playing throughout the show that builds the atmosphere. At times, it is just a single drum beat that slowly repeats.  The subtle music gets loud and intense at exactly the right moments. The set design and lighting design by Jan Verswyvled is fantastic.  The slick, modern, and minimal set feels almost like a boxing ring, which is appropriate for the fights that take place.

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Get tickets quickly for A View From the Bridge through October 15th!

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious! The Rembrandt at Steppenwolf (September 17, 2017)

“Art is practice for the real thing” – Jessica Dickey, playwright

A seasoned museum guard, a copyist, and a guard on his first day all reach out and touch Rembrandt’s Aristotle with a Bust of Homer. The audience is then transported back in time to when Rembrandt received the request to paint a philosopher. Then, it becomes 800 BC where Homer discusses how he wants The Iliad to be heard, not read. In the final act, the old museum guard is at the deathbed with his partner.

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From the description alone, it would seem this play would seem deathly serious. However, this is not the case at all. It is often very funny as all these characters speak very frankly and often with very foul language. Francis Guinan is fantastic as Rembrandt. It’s hilarious watching him describe all the requests he receives and promptly denying most of them. Ty Olwin is great as the new museum guard. The entire audience cracks up when he says “Go ahead. Touch it! I won’t tell!”

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Gabriel Ruiz is excellent as the security guard. To avoid any spoilers, let’s just say his reaction when everyone goes to touch the painting causes an uproar of laughter. Karen Rodriguez is solid as Rembrandt’s wife. Her best moment is when she tries to seduce Rembrandt. Finally, John Mahoney is incredible as Simon, the partner of the old museum guard. The character of the dying poet is reminiscent of his role as Frasier’s father. They are both very sharp and witty. Also, they are both integral roles that showcase Mahoney’s Tony Award winning talent.

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Get tickets now for The Rembrandt at Steppenwolf through November 5th!

Quinn Delaney

Intense! AstonRep Theatre Company Presents 1984 at Raven Theatre (September 16, 2017)

A young couple falls in love and wants to get married. There’s just one problem, it’s illegal. In this dystopian world created by George Orwell, the totalitarian government controls everything and watches everyone in the party all the time. It’s even illegal to think bad thoughts against the government.

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This production is very well done and it is quite intense at times. It’s probably a good idea to leave the kids at home for this one. Even adults were squirming in their seats as the government tortured a man in order to get him to obey Big Brother. The agony is clearly visible in his face. “How many fingers am I holding up?” “2+2 = 4?” “No! 5!” This is repeated many times to break him.

The sound design by Samantha Barr successfully brought you into the dark future of the story. The alarms from the telescreen and the squeals of the rats were quite startling.  Also, using a Muse song was a good choice as a transition between scenes. Finally, “Karma Police” by Radiohead was spot on as the closing number. “This is what you’ll get, when you mess with us.”

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Quinn Delaney

Also, see our review of 1984 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica here.