‘Curve of Departure’ raises interesting family issues

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From left, Rudy (Mike Nussbaum),Linda (Penelope Walker), Jackson (Danny Martinez) and Felix (Sean Parris in 'Curve of Departure' at Northlight Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
From left, Rudy (Mike Nussbaum),Linda (Penelope Walker), Jackson (Danny Martinez) and Felix (Sean Parris in ‘Curve of Departure’ at Northlight Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

In Rachel Bonds’ “Curve of Departure,” now at Northlight Theatre, you see four characters who face different issues they sort of resolve by the end of the 75-minute play.

The characters, Rudy (Mike Nussbaum), ex-daughter-in-law Linda (Penelope Walker), her son, Felix called Fe, (Sean Parris) and Fe’s boyfriend, Jackson ,(Danny Martinez) have come together for the funeral of Rudy’s son, and Linda’s former husband, Cyrus, who is only a presence by their discussion of how awful he was.

Rudy’s grandson and his friend share a New Mexico motel room with Rudy and Linda to save money.

It is easy to get caught up in their troubles without realizing the big picture.

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Lookingglass does ‘Frankenstein’ and the story behind it

 

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Cordelia Dewdney at Lookingglass. (Photo by Sean Williams)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Cordelia Dewdney at Lookingglass. (Photo by Sean Williams)

In January, 1818 British author Mary Shelley first published “Frankenstein (subtitle The Modern Prometheus).” This season, Court (Manual Cinema), Lifeline, Lookingglass and Remy Bumppo Theatre Companies are recognizing the 200th anniversary by each doing their version of “Frankenstein.”

Anyone interested in the similarities and differences that the four excellent Chicago companies will emphasize in their productions should try to snag a ticket to “Frankenstein: Unearthed,” Sept. 30, 2018, a 1 p.m. program at Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave. in the Chicago Water Tower Water Works. For tickets and information visit Lookingglass Theatre.

Moderated by Chicago Tribune  Critic Chris Jones, the event features a panel of Manuel Cinema’s Drew Dir, Lifeline’s Robert Kauzlaric and Ann Sonneville, Lookingglass’ David Catlin and Cordelia Dewdney and Remy Bumppo’s Ian Frank and Eliza Stoughton.

Among the issues examined will be “How is this story told?” To answer that from the Lookingglass perspective, Chicago Theater and Arts talked with ensemble member and the production’s writer/director, David Catlin, about the route traveled to write the script, what his research uncovered and what audiences can expect when the show premieres in 2019.

Lookingglass Theatre writer/director David Caitlin. (Lookingglass photo)
Lookingglass Theatre writer/director David Catlin. (Lookingglass photo)

“Heidi (Stillman, ensemble member and artistic director) had an existing script. I looked at it and read it but it was not grabbing me as I thought it should. So she said we’ll commission you to do an adaptation.

“I’m sure the points were present in the script but they not stick out so I went back to the book. I had missed reading it in high school and didn’t get it in college,” said Catlin.

He did more than read the book. Catlin also researched its author.

“I was amazed this could get out of an 18 year-old and a woman in that time period when women were not encouraged. It was a powerful piece.”Read More

Dance and music, art and spoken expression fill Millennium Park

 

Little Kids Rock Band will perform at YAS Fest
Little Kids Rock Band will perform at YAS Fest

An unusual free festival marks the end of summer in and around Millennium Park Sept. 22, 2018. It’s the YAS Fest, an all-day music, dance, art and theater event that showcases the arts talents of Chicago’s young people in the final weeks of “The Year of Creative Youth.”

“The Year of Creative Youth provides an incredible opportunity to support the creativity and growth of artistic children across Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This festival is our city’s largest showcase of youth artists, featuring the creative works of hundreds of young people from arts organizations in neighborhoods across the city. We celebrate their talents and the mentors who inspire them.”

YAS Fest has several performances and participatory events taking place from 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. with some events extending to 7 p.m., held throughout the  Millennium Park area from the Pritzker Pavilion, Chase Promenades and Cloud Gate Plaza to the Chicago Cultural Center across Michigan Avenue and the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing across from the park at Monroe and Michigan.

There are even kinetic sculptures a block west of Michigan Avenue on Wabash between Washington and Randolph Streets.

“When young people believe in themselves and are encouraged to bring their ideas forward, we know they’ll create the kind of society that uplifts us all,” said Vicky Dinges, Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Allstate.

Ensemble Espanol performs at YAS Fest in Millennium Park September 22 (Photos from City of Chicago)
Ensemble Espanol performs at YAS Fest in Millennium Park September 22 (Photos from City of Chicago)

“That’s why Allstate is focused on empowering our next generation of leaders by investing in programs like the arts that help young people build critical social and emotional skills. We care about the future of Chicago and our youth and are proud to recognize them as problem solvers, change agents and artists,” said Dinges whose company is a prime sponsor of the festival.

For a complete list of performances, workshops and programs and where and when they happen visit City of Chicago Festival Info.

Jodie Jacobs

 

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ – a silly little musical that feeds on blood

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Will Lidke and Kelly Felthouse in Little Shop of Horrors at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)
Will Lidke and Kelly Felthouse in Little Shop of Horrors at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)

With Halloween 2018 on the horizon, “Little Shop of Horrors” plays into the spookiness of the season. The sort-of-dark musical comedy is now running at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. It’s more spirited, shall we say, than scary.

The action centers around a dilapidated flower shop on Skid Row and its hard-scrabble denizens. The two central characters are Seymour, a hapless employee played by Will Lidke, and Audrey, his tartly dressed coworker and the object of his affection played by Kelly Felthous. Mr. Mushnik, their boss played by Ron E. Rains, is just as down on his luck as everyone else.

Seymour suddenly is offered success beyond his imagination by a demanding, carnivorous, exotic plant on a growth spurt. The condition? The plant is blood thirsty.

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‘Radio Golf’ is a Hole-in-One

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From left: Allen Gilmore, James T Alfred and James Vincent Meredith. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
From left: Allen Gilmore, James T Alfred and James Vincent Meredith. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

A Pittsburgh real estate developer with aspirations of becoming mayor finds himself at odds with his wife and his business partner after encountering a couple of guys from his old neighborhood who bring him closer to his own history and the roots of his community.

This is a story about the quest for success, what is legal, what is fair and ultimately, what is right and what is wrong.

These concepts are not just black and white. They are usually very muddy and predicated on each individual’s point-of-view. On some level this story tries to indicate that there is a clear distinction.

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Good song and dance numbers sweeten Marriott’s ‘Charity’

The cast of 'Sweet Charity' goes into the 'Big Spender' song and dance number. (Photo by Justin Barbin)
The cast of ‘Sweet Charity’ goes into the ‘Big Spender’ song and dance number. (Photo by Justin Barbin)

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When Charity Hope Valentine is asked why she believes in love, she replies, “You have to have some religion.”  In “Sweet Charity,” a show replete with good lines, after all Neil Simon wrote the musical’s book, this expression lies at the heart of the story.

However, audiences who have seen the 1969 movie and are seeing the show now at Marriott Theatre, will also catch that the theme that frames the show is Charity’s middle name, Hope.

No matter how often she is disappointed, Charity, a dance-hall hostess, rebounds. Instead of following the typical “and they lived happily ever after,” in “Sweet Charity” she moves forward, “hopefully.”

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New entertainment venue to open downtown Chicago

 

Aerial artists Duo Rose (Photo by John Cornicello)
Aerial artists Duo Rose
(Photo by John Cornicello)

Imagine walking into the Camabria Hotel next to the Oriental Theatre on Randolph, being transported up to the 14th floor, stepping out into a dark, cavernous space not knowing what to expect. And then, offered buffet breakfast tidbits by The Goddess and Grocer and treated to an incredible acrobatic act.

That was what several folks in the entertainment business experienced Sept. 12, 2018. The event introduced the opening of Teatro ZinZanni, a combination cabaret, cirque, dining theater founded by Norman Langill in Seattle in 1998.

Gazing around what looks like a huge, maybe more than four-story high and equally wide, unfinished, abandoned building shell, it’s hard to imagine this space will be magically transformed by April 2019 when Teatro ZinZanni expects to premiere “Love, Chaos & Dinner.”

The key, Langill explained during Wednesday’s announcement, is the Spiegeltent, a large, wood and canvas traveling structure that looks like the tent it is on the outside but will look like a marvelous brick, wood, mirrored and stained glass entertainment venue inside.

Just as fascinating is how its thousands of pieces will get into the space.  Because some are too large to fit in a freight elevator or through a window, some pieces will be dropped by helicopter through a hole in the roof.

So, Chicagoans can expect to see some fascinating maneuvers outside in the theater district before the venue opens inside.

And given that Teatro ZinZanni has a reputation for showcasing excellent aerial trapeze artists such as Duo Rose who performed Wednesday, along with known comedians, singers and magicians, “Love, Chaos & Dinner” will likely add fascinating entertainment inside.

“It the nightclub of your dreams,” said Langill.

DETAILS: “Love, Chaos & Dinner” opens in the Spiegeltent ZaZou in the Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph St., April 5, 2019. For Broadway In Chicago Subscription and Groups Sales  tickets (includes 4-course meal), call (312) 977 -1710 and visit Broadway In Chicago.  For individual tickets visit ZinZanni.com/Chicago. Presale tickets beginNov. 26, 2018 and general tickets start Dec. 7, 2018.

Jodie Jacobs

New Chicago Architecture Center definitely worth a visit

 

Chicago city model at Chicago Architecture Center on East Wacker Drive. (Photo by Anthony Tahlier)
Chicago city model at Chicago Architecture Center on East Wacker Drive. (Photo by Anthony Tahlier)

The Chicago Architecture Foundation has moved to a perfectly placed space on Wacker Drive across form the Chicago River and near the starting point of its famed Architecture Boat Tour.

Called the Chicago Architecture Center, the space is more than a good place to pick up tickets for the boat or other tours previously stamped CAF, now CAC.

See the Chicago City Model

On the main floor is the start of a two-level exhibit that contains a room-long model of downtown Chicago basically from the South Loop up to Lincoln Park.

Filled with more than 4.200 buildings that do more than just sit there looking pretty, the city model tells stories.Read More

‘A Shayna Maidel’ packs powerful punch for Holocaust Remembrance

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Lusia (Emily Berman) left, and Rose (Bri Sudia) are two sisters trying to reconnect after years of separation brought on by the Holocaust. (Photo by Lara Goetsch)
Lusia (Emily Berman) left, and Rose (Bri Sudia) are two sisters trying to reconnect after years of separation brought on by the Holocaust. (Photo by Lara Goetsch)

 

What is family? Can it be created or reborn? “A Shayna Maidel” answers these  thoughtful questions in a most profound way. Written in 1984 by Barbara Lebow and now performed as a revival by TimeLine Theatre, the play confronts the horrors and aftermath of the Holocaust.

Two sisters and their father, reunited after years of separation, are now forced to examine their roles, responsibilities and guilt.

Daughter Rose and father Mordechai Weiss were fortunate to escape from Poland before the war. Not so lucky were daughter Lusia, who had scarlet fever and their mother who were left behind. Read More

‘Vietgone’ translates love and war into a romcom

Matthew C. Yee and Aurora Adachi-Winter are the leads in 'Vietgone' at Writers Theatre, Glencoe. (Michael Brosilow Photo)
Matthew C. Yee and Aurora Adachi-Winter are the leads in ‘Vietgone’ at Writers Theatre, Glencoe. (Michael Brosilow Photo)

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Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” at Writers Theatre offers a fascinating  perspective on immigration that shatters stereotypes while basically telling a love and adventure story that is funny (think rom-com).

It also is a musical but instead of sentimental arias as in “Madam Butterfly” or ballads as in “South Pacific” you have the leads Quang (Matthew C. Yee) and Tong (Aurora Adachi-Winter) rap and sing to Gabriel Ruiz’s music. Read More