Tag: Cole Simon

Review: Shockheaded Peter (Black Button Eyes Productions)

Kat Evans, Pavi Proczko and Kevin Webb star in Shockheaded Peter, Black Button Eyes Productions            

          

Shockheaded Peter

Created by Julian Crouch, Phelim McDermott
Music and lyrics by The Tiger Lillies
Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport (map)
thru Sept 16  |  tix: $32  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     

September 11, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier (Permoveo Productions)

Katherine Condit as and Delia Kropp star as Old Albert and Nurse in Civility of Albert Cashier, Permoveo            
      
    

The CiviliTy
  of Albert Cashier

By Jay Paul Deratany (book/lyrics),
   Joe Stevens, Keaton Wooden (music/lyrics)
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Oct 15  |  tix: $40  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     

September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Her Majesty’s Will (Lifeline Theatre)

 Javier Ferreira and Bryan Bosque star as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe in Her Majesty's Will               

  

Her Majesty’s Will
 
Adapted by Robert Kauzlaric
  from novel by David Blixt   
Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map)
thru July 16  |  tix: $20-$40  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     

June 21, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Amour (Black Button Eyes Productions)

Emily Goldberg and Brian Fimoff as Isabel and Dusoleil in Amour, Black Button Eyes Productions           
  

Amour

By Michel Legrand (music)
  and Didier van Cauwelaert (libretto)
English adaptation by Jeremy Sams
Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport (map)
thru Oct 6  |  tix: $32  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

September 22, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Coraline (Black Button Eyes Productions)

Kevin Bishop, Caitlin Jackson, Kevin Webb and Sheridan Singleton star in Black Button Eyes Productions' "Coraline" by Stephen Merritt and David Greenspan, directed by Ed Rutherford. (photo credit: Cole Simon)        
      
Coraline

By Stephen Merritt and David Greenspan  
Directed by Ed Rutherford
at City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru Sept 6  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

August 16, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Dorian (The House Theatre)

Cole Simon and Patrick Andrews in House Theatre's "Dorian" by Ben Lobpries and Tommy Rapley, directed and choreograped by Tommy Rapley. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
Dorian

Written by Ben Lobpries and Tommy Rapley
Directed, Choreographed by Tommy Rapley
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru May 18  |  tickets: $20-$39   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

April 25, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Ithaka (InFusion Theatre)

Meredith Rae Lyons and Anji White star in InFusion Theatre's "Ithaka" by Andrea Stolowitz, directed by Mitch Golob. (photo credit: Cole Simon)        
       
Ithaka 

Written by Andrea Stolowitz
Directed by Mitch Golob
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru April 13  |  tickets: $15-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

March 24, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Reivew: Ribbon Around a Bomb (Prologue Theatre)

     
    

New musical needs to choose an audience

     
     

A scene from Prologue Theatre's world-premier musical "Ribbon Around a Bomb" by Jess Eisenberg Chamblee. Photo by Cole Simon.

 

Prologue Theatre Company presents

 

Ribbon Around a Bomb

 

Books and Music by Jess Eisenberg Chamblee
Directed by Kiana Harris
at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark (map)
through May 3   |  tickets: $15   |  more info 

Reviewed by Jason Rost

It’s a little unbelievable and absurd to think that in 2011 any collegiate art department would exclude all female painters from a list of 45 great historical artists. Even in my own five minute research (ala Google) I could not find a single list that left out the likes of Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe. That said, it’s certainly a heavily one-sided battle of sexes in the art history world. This is at least part of what the new identity-stricken musical, Ribbon Around a Bomb by Jess Eisenberg Chamblee, which recently premiered with Prologue Theatre Company, focuses on. At one point a professor (Melody Latham) hands the audience a thesis list of historical painters, who are all men. It was not only a contrived theatrical convention, but also made me feel a little odd sitting in the cabaret bar setting of Mary’s Attic watching what, as far as I could tell, was a children’s musical. When Chamblee implements the “adult” sections though, it feels even more awkward.

A scene from Prologue Theatre's world-premier musical "Ribbon Around a Bomb" by Jess Eisenberg Chamblee. Photo by Cole Simon.The story follows a painter, Kalakara, through three phases of her life. The younger Kalakara (played with perfect wonderment and rebellion by Krysten Williams) is “haunted” by three female painters from history (Angela Alise Johnson, Melody Latham and Kathleen Wrinn). She is an aspiring painting prodigy (although we never get an actual glimpse of her artwork) whose father (Christopher Tucker) disapproves of her career choice. The ghosts are there, at first, to help guide and inspire her. The college student Kalakara (Charlitha Charleston) is traumatized by these experiences and is also dealing with her rebellion against men, particular the one man in love with her, James (a vocally challenged Lance Newton). Finally, there is the older Kalakara (Tinuade Oyelowo) who paints from her mental institution.

It is within the stories of the older Kalakaras, and their mutual haunting of each other, where the script gets muddled, pointlessly depressing and dramatically trite. Chamblee seems to suggest that the only true way to become a great artist, if you’re a female, is to embrace insanity and reject family, happiness and men. It projects a skewed feminist message.

Chamblee clearly has a knack for infectious musical numbers. However, the musical style in this play lacks unity and instead stretches to showcase a hodgepodge of numerous styles that don’t usually mesh. In addition, there is most certainly an overabundance of belting. Chamblee is clearly influenced by several contemporary composers of the musical world including Sondheim, Schwartz and Jason Robert Brown. The trick is to serve the story first and this story lends itself to more intimate and simple music than is currently written.

A scene from Prologue Theatre's world-premier musical "Ribbon Around a Bomb" by Jess Eisenberg Chamblee. Photo by Cole Simon.The cast is just about as split as Chamblee’s script. While there is some wonderful talent (most notably the impressive vocals of Charleston and Wrinn), there are also several uneven performances in director Kiana Harris’ cast. Harris’ direction serves the first half of this musical well with a decidedly presentational staging. It helps communicate the educational values and emotional relationships clearly, however it is far more suited for a middle-school audience rather than a bar full of adults. For the most part it seems that Chamblee’s script cofuses Harris’ concept – and understandably so: Chamblee’s book and music combat each other caught between a fun historical educational children’s musical revolving around themes of gender equality, and a tediously confounded psychological adult drama. For example, although Tamara de Lempicka was a mid-twentieth century Polish painter, she is instead portrayed and costumed as though she’s a 2011 “Real Housewife of the Netherworld.” This causes a confusing disconnect between her and the other ghosts who are costumed and portrayed in a more period style.

I’d say that Chamblee needs to choose one storyline, and one play to tell, however I’d strongly encourage fleshing out the tale of the young girl painter inspired by historical women who have defied sexism in the art world. She can simply drop the schizophrenia, f-bombs and stripper number that add nothing but a lack of clarity. Allow these women of the past to empower the girl rather than mentally damage her for life. In this sense she should also choose her audience, and if that happens to be a room full of 6th grade girls, then so be it. Finding strength in the past is a lovely message, and the music during these segments is the strongest. It could be cut to 45 minutes and shipped out on a children’s theatre tour. While it is clear Chamblee has greater personal musical ambitions and another deeper story to tell with bold orchestrations, Ribbon Around a Bomb may be better off simple. She can save the center stage belts and diva numbers for the next go-around of musical scribing.

   
  
Rating: ★★
     
  

A scene from Prologue Theatre's world-premier musical "Ribbon Around a Bomb" by Jess Eisenberg Chamblee. Photo by Cole Simon.

Ribbon Around a Bomb, Prologue Theatre Company’s world-premiere musical continues thru May 3rd. The play runs 1 hour and 50 minutes with one intermission. Tickets are $15. For more information visit www.prologuetheatreco.org

Photos by Cole Simon 

April 26, 2011 | 0 Comments More