Results! World of Dance Chicago at the Copernicus Center (November 18, 2018)

Team Division Winners:

1st Place: Puzzle League – Chicago, IL

The crew comes out all wearing white T-shirts and berets. Is it a tribute to Picasso? No, it’s a tribute to the musical artist Masego.

2nd Place: Elevated – Cleveland, OH

This group comes out in all red jumpsuits. As soon as the music starts, they are all in sync. To add to the prison theme, they use chains to walk some of the dancers like dogs as they sing “let your chains hang low” to the tune of “Do Your Ears Hang Low”.

3rd Place: SueMo Dance Company

Crowd Favorite: The Puzzle League

Best Costume: The Effect

Best Theme: Elite Family Dance

Other Highlights:

 Ricky Cole – The Host

Ricky is a charming host who kept things running smoothly. He was very fun to start, but his comments did get a bit repetitive towards the end.

 Midwest Edge Dance Academy – Aurora, IL

 This group of 11 to 15 year olds is very impressive. They bring a strong energy and very early on the audience goes wild. This is especially true when some of the youngest dancers step to the front for some fierce solos.

Boom Crack! Dance Company – Chicago, IL

Wow, this group is huge! They can barely all fit just standing on the stage. The choreography is then fantastic as they display great energy and avoid crashing into each other. It’s like a giant flash mob.

Kyle Van Newkirk

Improvised tap dancing with a drummer playing on a full kit is an interesting idea.

JET

 

Watching this guy move is mystifying. He’s so smooth and precise like a finely tuned machine. It’s like watching a stop motion animation movie in real life.

Jaja and Beast

The cutest dance of the night is this one as they dance to “Lego House” by Ed Sheeran dressed as Lego people. It’s a great interpretation of the song and oh so sweet as they express love for each other.

Quinn Delaney

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Review: Teatro Visto Presents American Journalero at UrbanTheatre (Through November 18, 2018)

Six men wait on a corner in Queens. Four of them are journaleros (laborers) looking for work for the day. Each time a truck pulls up, they stand up in anticipation. The other two men are just there to harass the other guys. They are white Americans who fear that the immigrants are stealing their jobs and driving wages down. However, after talking with the guys for a while, one of the white guys befriends them and learns they aren’t even competing for the same jobs and he has nothing to fear.

TeatroVista_American Jornalero_1251_credit Joel Maisonet

Dillon Kelleher (right) plays America First vigilante Mark, who confronts (left, from left) a trio of immigrant day laborers – Victor Marana as Luis, Ramón Camín as Michigan and Mike Cherry as Montezuma – in Teatro Vista’s American Jornalero by Ed Cardona Jr. American Jornalero had its Chicago premiere at Victory Gardens as part of DESTINOS, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival. It transfers to UrbanTheater, 2620 W. Division St., in Humboldt Park, for an additional four weeks, October 25 through November 18. For tickets and information, visit teatrovista.org or call (773) 599-9280. Credit: Joel Maisonet

Just like the title, this play is bilingual. It’s mostly in English, but the journaleros often speak to each other in Spanish. It’s often words not taught in high school, aka, profanity. A quick refresher on these terms on this website is helpful. Use of both languages make the play much more authentic than it would be in all English.

TeatroVista_American Jornalero_512_credit Joel Maisonet

(from left) Ramón Camín is Michigan, Victor Marana is Luis and Jordan Arredondo is Marcelo, day laborers waiting to be picked up for a day’s work, in Teatro Vista’s American Jornalero by Ed Cardona Jr. American Jornalero had its Chicago premiere at Victory Gardens as part of DESTINOS, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival. It transfers to UrbanTheater, 2620 W. Division St., in Humboldt Park, for an additional four weeks, October 25 through November 18. For tickets and information, visit teatrovista.org or call (773) 599-9280. Credit: Joel Maisonet

Ultimately, this is a light-hearted tale about a segment of the population that doesn’t often get much attention. It’s a quick (75 minutes) glance into their lives and struggles portrayed by a great cast. Mike Cherry’s performance as Montezuma is especially fantastic.

 

Cost of a ticket: $25

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!

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

 

Next up from Teatro Visto: The Abuelas starting on February 9, 2019.

 

Quinn Delaney

Powerful! Broadway in Chicago Presents Miss Saigon at the Cadillac Palace (Through December 8, 2018)

In September of 1989, Miss Saigon first opened in London on the West End. In April of 1991, it opened on Broadway in New York City. The first US tour started in Chicago in October of 1992. And now, 26 years later, the revival comes to Chicago’s Cadillac Palace.

An American soldier fighting in the Vietnam War meets a local woman and falls in love. He meets her at a brothel and he makes it his mission to get her away from that life. However, the fall of Saigon marking the end of the Vietnam War tears them apart. This leaves the woman to struggle to find her lost love. It’s a very dramatic and emotional ride.

This show is a grand spectacle. The set is quite grand as well with the Dream Land bar and the amazing helicopter scene that had the audience gasping. The cast is 42 people strong plus a full live band. They sing and dance to fantastic choreography. Anthony Festa, who plays the main American solider, has an especially impressive voice. Also, Red Concepcion is so fun and energetic as The Engineer.

06.MISS_SAIGON_TOUR_9_21_18_5953 r photo by Matthew Murphy

Emily Bautista as the local woman puts on an excellent acting performance. The purpose of acting is to deliver a performance where you can connect with your audience by delivering a performance so strong that they feel the emotions you are intending to convey. And she does just that. She’ll make you cry.

Every interaction she has with her son was so powerful. It showed the strength of a mother to protect her kid even up to literally sacrificing her entire life. This is especially the case where she was forced/expected to surrender, but she didn’t give a damn.  She held her own and stood for her own beliefs.

01.MISS_SAIGON_TOUR_9_20_18_2126 r photo by Matthew Murphy

Get tickets now for Miss Saigon through December 8th!

Cost of a ticket: $92

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!

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

Quinn Delaney

Burlesque and Comedy: Kiss Kiss Cabaret at The Den Theatre (Through December 29, 2018)

On September 11th, Uptown Underground closed its doors due to a dispute with the landlord. Thus, Kiss Kiss Cabaret was forced on hiatus until it could find a new space. They have signed on to call The Den Theatre home until at least the end of the year.

The show is different every night and thus the experience is different each time. Tonight is hosted by MsPixy who is an amusing host. She introduces each performer with genuine enthusiasm and then afterwards joy is clearly visible in her reaction. She also sings “Cabaret” midway through the show to the audience’s delight.

There is just one comedy performance tonight. It is by Velma Claptrap. She sings a song that is like the 12 Days of Christmas, but about a pussy ‘cat’, double entendre intended. The crowd eats it up.

Tonight’s lineup of burlesque consists of Vivi Valens, Elle Rioux, Crème Yvette, Faye LaVerte, and Aurora Rocket. Here are the three highlights of the night:

Elle Rioux closes the first half dancing to “The Girl’s Attractive”. Her passion and dedication to the art of burlesque is reflected in her performance as each movement is perfectly crafted to align with the music. It’s an audience favorite!”

Faye LaVerte dances to “Son of a Preacher Man” in an ironic and devilishly delightful fashion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photos by Kyle Bice

Aurora Rocket dances to “It’s My Party” in a very funny piece where she starts off very sad, but eventually cheers up!

They are finalizing some new group acts, choreographed specifically to take advantage of the Den Theater’s layout, that will debut this week! Also, at 7pm and 7:30pm, this is a rare opportunity to see burlesque before 10pm in Chicago.

Get tickets now for Kiss Kiss Cabaret through December 29th at the Den Theatre!

Cost of a ticket: $27
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Reggae Rock: Concrete Roots at Beat Kitchen (November 9, 2018)

In 2012, the Concrete Roots formed in Chicago. In 2016, they release their debut self-titled EP. All along, they have been playing live concerts throughout the Midwest. This has allowed them to really polish their sound and put on a strong live show. The sold out crowd at the Beat Kitchen ate up their reggae rock grooves.

The lead guitarist uses a talk box very effectively to add a sound not usually heard in reggae rock. It makes for great soloing. The band consists of Robert James on vocals and guitar, Toeknee Bilbrey on drums and dubs, Noel Valasquez on guitar, Rolan Valasquez on bass, and Jay Noga on keys.

In addition to playing songs from their debut EP, they played “Good Thing Going” by Sugar Minott and “No No No” by Dawn Penn. In both instances, they truly added their own unique spin to the songs.

 

The Concrete Roots are off to a great start and will surely continue to build their fan base in the Midwest and beyond.

Cost of a ticket: $20

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

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

Quinn Delaney

Long Jams – Keller Williams at City Winery (November 8, 2018)

Keller Williams is a goofy kind of guy. His song titles are evidence of this. “Doobie In My Pocket”, “Fat B”, and “Freaker By the Speaker” are just a few of them.  During his show, he mostly plays acoustic guitar, but he also uses a sample pad and he sits down at the piano a few times this night. A major part of his set is the long jams with the bassist. This improvised music draws the audience in and they are transfixed until the show ends, and as they suddenly realize that three hours have passed!

Cost of a ticket: $45

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

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

Check out City Winery’s calendar for what’s next!

Quinn Delaney

A Living Legend: Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons at the Auditorium Theatre (November 3, 2018)

At 84 years old, Frankie Valli is no spring chicken. But with his performance on Saturday, he sounds as great as ever. Especially impressive is his ability to still sing falsetto. However, the one thing he can’t do is rap. He demonstrated his rap skills while joking about what type of songs he should sing for his new album. Eventually, he decided to do covers of hits from the 60s, which was a good call. He sang “Spanish Harlem” by Ben E. King and “My Girl” by The Temptations.

As an intro to a song, he mentioned that he co-wrote the next song with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. The disco sound of the Bee Gees can definitely be heard in this song, “Grease”.

During “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, he lowered the microphone and let the audience take the lead. Everyone sang joyfully “I love you baby, and if it’s quite alright, I need you baby, to warm the lonely night.” Another highlight was “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”. Truth be told, almost every song was a highlight. He has so many hit songs it’s hard to fathom. See one of his most recent setlists here.

The acoustics at the Auditorium continue to be outstanding. Even all the way up in the balcony, every word Valli sings is clearly audible. It’s also a beautiful view from up there.

The four backup singers were absolutely fantastic. Landon Beard, Todd Fournier, plus brothers Brandon and Brian Brigham provide solid harmonies all night along with exceptional solos. They are essential to the songs, which is why they are a favorite among acapella groups.

Cost of a ticket: $95

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!

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

 

Catch Jersey Boys at the Auditorium Theatre in April 2019!

Quinn Delaney