A “Salute to the Duke” with concept by Donald McKayle, direction and choreography by Brenda Didier and Florence Walker Harris, “Sophisticated Ladies” celebrates Porchlight’s 25th Anniversary Mainstage season by taking the big jazz band era of the Duke to new heights.
Featuring music by jazz composer, pianist and band leader Duke Ellington who composed thousands of songs during his 50-year career, the Duke is recognized as one of the most important composers in American musical history.
The show, a Porchlight Theatre production, takes the audience through Duke’s legendary career with a treasure trove of hits, that include “Mood Indigo,” “Take the “A” Train,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Satin Doll.”
The year is 1925 in the deep South and the KKK is expanding its reach to include the women folk who will spread their doctrine of racism against African Americans, Jews, immigrants and Catholics in Mounds, Mississippi.
Making its world premiere at Her Story Theatre, “Invisible” is an imaginary tale of one woman who can’t rationalize her involvement in the Women’s Ku Klux Klan movement with her own moral compass and sense of decency.
Mabel Carson’s friends have convinced her that this is the path to take to make America great with the slogan, “America for Americans.” Yet when a reporter from the Chicago Tribune arrives on the scene, Mabel begins to question their ideals, methodology and the nature of true friendship.
It’s a show about finding your way home, no matter how lost you are. Now playing at The Citadel Theatre, “Peter and the Starcatcher” is a fantasy/comedy that one might call a prequel to the beloved story of Peter Pan. It imagines how Peter might have become one of the lost boys of Neverland.
The show, a winner of five Tony Awards, comes from the pen of Rick Elice (“Jersey Boys,” “The Adams Family,” The Cher Show”)
Under the fine direction of Jeremy Aluma, “Peter and the Starcatcher ncludes an ambitious cast of 17, all playing multiple roles. The show is filled with music, dancing and non-stop action plus lots of humor and antics that keep the audience laughing.
Stand outs include the lovely Mariah Copeland as Molly Aster who captures the heart of Peter and Jayson Lee as Boy/Peter who makes the audience see the longing in his innocent soul.
Adrian Danzig is a hoot as pirate Black Stache who becomes Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Rebecca Fletcher is excellent as the nanny to Molly, Mrs. Bumbrake.
Kudos to scenic designer Eric Luchen who has created a fascinating set and to director Aluma who makes great use of the intimate Citadel stage by incorporating the seats and doorways to expand the stage.
The problem with the show is the script which has too much madcap and mayhem going on. It was challenging to follow and some of the English accents were difficult to understand.
DETAILS: “Peter and the Starcatcher” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through Sept. 29, 2019. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with one intermission. For tickets and other information, visit Citadeltheatre.
“On Clover Road” keeps you on the edge of your seat.
It’s not often that a play comes around that creates such drama and suspense, your heart races and you might have to look away. Such is the case with the live performance of “On Clover Road,” playing at American Blues Theater through March 16, 2019.
The title itself implies a bit of luck that finding a four-leaf clover might bring. In a sense, the play is about luck too, both good and bad, and how it impacts the characters.
Written by Steven Dietz and directed by Halena Kays, “On Clover Road” tells the story of an angry, frustrated mother who meets with a cult de-programmer believing she will be reunited with her runaway daughter. Her daughter has been gone for more than four years and the mother has all but given up hope. Continue reading “Thriller on Clover Road”
Waistwatchers the Musical is at the Royal George TheatreNo subject in “Waistwatchers – The Musical,” premiering now at the Royal George Theatre, is taboo
Take a talented group of ladies who belt out a powerhouse of hits about the traumas of growing older, getting heavier, and feeling somewhat invisible and you have the basics of a very funny show. You’ll find yourself laughing hysterically and nodding in agreement with their tales of universal woe.
The musical romp stars two-time Grammy nominee vocalist Martha Wash, the queen of disco and half of the Weather Girls, known for their hit single, “It’s Raining Men.”
While the three women commiserate at “Miss Cook’s Women’s Gym,” they sing the praises of younger owner Carla who does her best to keep her favorite customers motivated and on track. Yes, that anthem is an adaptation of “YMCA” and the audience is invited to sing along.
Lighthearted and full of high-energy dancing and non-stop fun, the musical features more than 20 numbers that focus on women’s relationship to food, friendship, loss, sex, Botox and working out. And candy. Lots of candy. Wash is Connie through October 28. The show also stars Kiley McDonald as Carla, Sarah Godwin as Cindy, Krissy Johnson as Cheryl, and Katherine S. Barnes as the MC.
Walsh knocks it out of the park with her powerful vocals and she simply commands the show every time she’s on the stage. She was a joy to watch.
Produced by Dana Matthow, the creative team includes Matthew E. Silva (Director), Alan Jacobson (Creator, Book and Lyrics), Vince Di Mura (Music) and Dani Tucci-Jurraga (Choreography).
The audience included several groups with a few men who were picked on for fun. In the end, the show empowers women to band together, relax and just be who they are.
DETAILS: “WaistWatchers the Musical” is at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago, through Dec. 30, 2018. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. For tickets and other information call (312) 988-9000 or visit Waist Watchers the Musical.
If you can leave the theater singing; not one, not two, but three songs from a show that’s been around for more than 80 years, that’s a grand night of theatre! That’s just what “Anything Goes” delivers, now playing at Music Theater Works.
Accompanied by a live orchestra under the fine direction of Roger Bingaman, the show will have you humming along to such Porter classics as “You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “It’s De-Lovely.”
Consider the times when Cole Porter wrote the music/lyrics in 1934. The depression was still running rapid. Those who could afford theater tickets wanted something funny to make them forget their problems.
No one looked at the aging process of the human body quite like Chicago artist Ivan Albright (1897–1983). His obsession with the body’s physical decay earned him the well-deserved title, “master of the macabre.”
The Art Institute of Chicago has curated more than 30 Albright in a retrospective called “Flesh,” now showing through August 5, 2018.
Based on Albright’s 1928 “Flesh,” the exhibit covers many of his paintings. They demonstrated every wrinkle, boil and fold of human skin, equally depicting unflattering portraits of men and women.
Albright’s process was painstaking and labored, often taking him many years to complete a work. Some paintings he just gave up on to pursue other projects.
“That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door),” considered his most important work, is a prime example of a painting that took him ten years. But it leaves us with an acknowledgement of life’s brevity and the road often not taken.
Former Indiana University faculty member, Jerry Findley, PhD, said, “This work focuses on moments that humanity finds hard to address – about regrets and the human experience.”
Albright’s portrayal of the body’s decay led him to his most important commission – painting The Picture of Dorian Gray for the 1945 film of Oscar Wilde’s haunting novel. This hideous, well-detailed portrait captures the essence of Wilde’s “Gray” as he descends into madness.
“The works they selected were excellent choices of Albright’s depiction of flesh of the human body… the vulnerability of time that overtakes all of humanity,” said Findley.
In exploring “the way of all flesh” throughout his career, Albright purposefully pushes the envelope of decency to shock his viewers.
“Flesh” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, through Aug. 5, 2018. For more admission and other information, call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC/IvanAlbright.
Once upon a time, there was a historic traveler’s guide called the “The Negro Motorist Green Book” that directed blacks traveling through the South to homes, restaurants and gas stations that were a safe haven.
For blacks traveling during the days of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the Green Book was a lifesaver, telling them where they could enjoy true southern hospitality in comfort and safety.
It was the hope of “The Green Book” founder Victor Green that one day his book would no longer be needed.
Now comes the play, “The Green Book” from playwright Calvin A. Ramsey that brings racism front and center to the stage. The multi-talented Ramsey co-authored the award-winning “Ruth and the Green Book,” written numerous other works and does photography and painting.
This play is an homage to the famous guide, published from 1936-1967.
It centers on the Davis family of Jefferson City, Missouri, an African-American family who opened their home to black travelers before the birth of Civil Rights activism.
The couple, Barbara and Dan, are highly educated; he a lawyer and she a college librarian. Their daughter, Neena, is soon to graduate high school and off to college, far from home.
“The Green Book”is set in the mid 1950’s as the Davises are celebrating the arrival of the prominent Dr. W.E.B. DuBois for a lecture.
The appearance of a Jewish Holocaust survivor sets off a chain of events that showcases the prevalence of racism and anti-Semitism in the U.S.
Unfortunately, Jews who survived the Holocaust in Europe came to the U.S. and continued to face intolerance, fear and hatred. Because of the similarities, alliances were formed between the Jewish people and African-Americans. Both were subjected to prejudice, the “red scare” of McCarthyism and restrictions from signs that said, “No Blacks, No Jews, No Dogs.”
Stacie Doublin as Barbara Davis and Henri Watkins as Dan Davis are outstanding. They convey their characters as believable and sincere. They struggle with their daughter, Demetra Drayton as Neena, who serves as their brightest hope for the next generation. She is excellent as the young girl who varies her position as the real truths begin to emerge.
But Malcom Banks who gives a powerful performance as Keith Chenault, the Yankee from Harlem with big, misplaced ideas, is a powerful force that must be reckoned with.
Michael Stock as Jake Levinsky does an outstanding job as he recalls the horrors of the camps and losing his family. His pain is real and raw. The ensemble comes together to tell a story that resonates with today’s headlines of bigotry and hate.
The play is wonderfully directed by Producing Artistic Director Ilesa Duncan. Mention must also be made of the glorious costumes by Uriel Gomez, who dresses all of the characters in handsome 1950s attire that is both authentic and mesmerizing.
DETAILS: “The Green Book” is at the Pegasus’s resident home, Chicago Dramatists, 765 N. Aberdeen, Chicago, in conjunction with ShPIeL Performing Identity, now through April 1, Running time: just over two hours with intermission. For tickets and other information visit PegasusTheatreChicago.org.
Who says you can’t change tradition? Certainly not Doug Post, who wrote this world premiere musical based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
‘Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits,’ now playing at the Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest, is delightful family entertainment that is perfect for the holiday season.
Once again, Scrooge is the main character, but the ghostly spirits go deeper into why he’s grown into such a flawed soul.
When Scrooge sees what people really think of him and his actions, he takes steps to redemption, transforming from darkness and gloom to joy and love for humanity.
In between, the beautiful, haunting music played by three on-stage musicians, serves to uplift the characters and the story.
Veteran Chicago actor, Frank Farrell, leads the cast as Ebenezer Scrooge, mean and miserly as ever. He previously played the role of Scrooge in Citadel’s 2011 non-musical production of “A Christmas Carol” and understands the role and its transformation.
The show is masterfully directed by Citadel Artistic Director Scott Phelps with music direction by Benjamin Nichols and choreography by Ann Delaney.
Post’s all-new musical score pays homage to 19th Century English songs in a highly theatrical way. Post says, “The first song that came to me, and it practically wrote itself, is called ‘Mankind Was My Business.’ It’s Jacob Marley’s lament to Scrooge that in life, Marley neglected his “business” of concern for others.”
Stand outs include Coco Kasperowicz in multiple roles with a magnificent voice that beautifully interprets the score, and baritone Will Rogers, an affable delight every time he appears on stage.
DETAILS: ‘Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits’ is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through Dec. 23, 2017. Running time: 90 minutes without intermission.For tickets and more information call(847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.