Tag: DJ Reed

Review: A Behanding in Spokane (Chemically Imbalanced Comedy)

Elise Spoerlein and John Thibodeaux star in Chemically Imbalanced Comedy's "A Behanding in Spokane" y Martin McDonagh, directed by Sarah Borer.        
      
A Behanding in Spokane

Written by Martin McDonagh  
Directed by Sarah Borer
at CIC Theater, 1422 W. Irving Park (map)
thru April 26  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
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March 26, 2014 | 1 Comment More

Review: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Bailiwick Chicago)

Matthew Holzfeind (front, center) as Andrew Jackson with the cast of Bailiwick Chicago’s production of BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.        
       
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson 

By Michael Friedman (music/lyrics)
      and Alex Timbers (book)
Directed by Scott Ferguson 
National Pastime Thtr, 941 W. Lawrence (map)
thru Nov 10  |  tickets: $15-$30   |  more info
       
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October 10, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: My Kind of Town (TimeLine Theatre)

Derek Garza and Charles Gardner, My Kind of Town, Timeline Theatre Chicago       
      
My Kind of Town 

Written by John Conroy  
Directed by Nick Bowling 
at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington (map)
thru July 29  |  tickets: $32-$42   |  more info
       
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May 18, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Liberal Arts the Musical (Underscore Theatre)

americangothic4       
      
Liberal Arts: The Musical 

Created by David Kornfeld, Laura Stratford,
Brendan Siegfried, Alex Higgin-Houser
Directed by Alex Higgin-Houser
The Second Stage, 3408 N. Sheffield (map)
thru May 13  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
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April 19, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Emerald City Theatre)

Mark Kosten, Tommy Bullington, Alex Heika, Maddy LaRoche, Patricia Lavery, Michael Rashid, RJ Silva and Jonathan Shroelucke in Emerald City Theatre's "Alexander and the ...Very Bad Day", directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)       
     
Alexander and the Terrible, 
Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Written by Judith Viorst and Shelly Markham
Directed by Ernie Nolan
at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru June 17  |  tickets: $13-$16   |  more info
       
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February 23, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Snow White (Emerald City Theatre)

Emerald City Theatre - Snow White by Ernie Nolan       
      
Snow White 

Written and Directed by Ernie Nolan   
at Apollo Theater, 2450 N. Lincoln (map)
thru May 20  |  tickets: $13-$16   |  more info
       
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January 22, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Barefoot in the Park (Chemically Imbalanced)

     
Barefoot in the Park - Chemically Imbalanced 7
Barefoot in the Park
 

Written by Neil Simon 
Directed by Josh Johnson
Chemically Imbalanced, 1422 W. Irving Park (map)
thru Oct 9  |   tickets: $15   |   more info

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September 16, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: Godspell (Provision Theatre)

 

Pop Culture Christianity

 

 The ensemble of GODSPELL rocks out on O BLESS THE LORD, MY SOUL - (front r to l) Sarah Grant, Tiffany Cox, Richelle Meiss, Amy Steele, Jennifer Oakley.  (Back r to l) Greg Walters, Frederick Harris, Kevin O'Brien.

   
Provision Theatre presents
   
Godspell
   
Conceived by John-Michael Tebelak
Music/Lyrics by
Steven Schwartz
at
Provision Theater, 1001 W. Roosevelt Road (map)
through September 26  |  tickets: $15-$28   |  more info

reviewed by Keith Ecker 

The original Godspell (an archaic spelling of the word “gospel”) was produced in 1971, just as flower power was wilting, eventually replaced by disco fever later in the decade. At the time, many were still holding on to their all-you-need-is-love mentality despite the demise of the hippie community along with the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War. As a result, many found comfort in close-nit cults and communes, while Judas betrayal: Justin Berkobien as Judas in GODSPELL, running through September 26 at 1001 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL.others just moved on with their lives.

Still, for some, there was a Christian reawakening, a dawning of the Age of Aquarius in which it was foretold that man would achieve a greater understanding of Jesus’ message of peace and harmony. Had Godspell, a musical based on the Gospel According to Matthew, been produced at any other time, it would not have ever reached the levels of success it did. First a hit off-Broadway and then a hit on Broadway, the show saw more than 2,600 performances. Its song “Day by Day” was 13th on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1972. And in 1973, the musical was made into a major motion picture.

But these days, it appears that the portrait of the peace-loving Christian has been painted over with the image of Bible-thumping Pharisees. This begs the question: In a world populated with apocalyptic celebrities ministers, can Godspell remain relevant? In the hands of Provision Theatre’s extraordinarily talented director Tim Gregory, it can and does.

Provision’s interpretation frequently wanders off-book from the original. This is no surprise considering the show—which is really just a bunch of parables strung together—plays more like an improv review than it does a play. Characters call out to one another casually, egging each other on as they bring Jesus’ teachings of righteousness and justice to life. Gregory uses the play’s spontaneity to insert pop-culture references that serve to remove us from the musical’s dated soundtrack and transport us to the present. Be prepared for riffs on Facebook, Beyonce and the stimulus package. The jokes are utterly cornball, but then again, so is Godspell.

The costumes (created by DJ Reed) have also received a reboot to keep up with the times. Characters have traded in their bell-bottoms and denim for loud, funky garments. The end result looks like an Old Navy commercial starring Jesus and John the Baptist.

Gregory’s staging and Amber Mak’s choreography are really the highlight of this production. There’s a lot of group movement going on, but no matter how many bodies are in motion, everybody acts and reacts with one another physically, creating a larger whole out of the many parts. It is here, through the collective action, that the play’s message of connectivity and brotherhood is most apparent.

Jesus being crucified: Syler Thomas as Jesus in GODSPELL, running through September 26 at 1001 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL.

Unfortunately, most of the ensemble’s voices are lacking, which is really a significant downside for a musical. Vocal precision is rare. Instead, notes warble, passing from flat to sharp. A cordless mic is used often to enhance lead vocalists who, I suppose, don’t have the pipes to belt it out to the back of the room. There are some standouts, however, particularly Justin Berkobien as John the Baptist and Amy Steele, who sings the lead on “Day by Day”.

Provision’s Godspell is just as slaphappy and feel-good as the original. That’s fine for those who already have Jesus in their hearts. But for the cynics or the persecuted, it might ring a little out of touch with contemporary displays of Christianity. As for those that just want to see some song and dance, don’t expect a choir of angels – but there’s certainly clever choreography!

   
   
Rating:  ★★½
   
   

Extra Credit:

Read Mark Ball’s Godspell review from his blog One Chicago Man’s Opinion:

….Provision Theater’s production of Godspell was, in two words, very energetic. The joyfulness and exhuberance I mentioned above abounded from start to finish, and the actors’ collective excitement infected the audience. They properly exaggerated their characterizations, their timing was sharp, the cabaret was amusing, and the flow of the show was kinetic. But there were two major weaknesses, the first being that of bad acoustics and the second, that of bad singing. Despite the presence of some impressive vocal talent in the cast, a few soloists were clearly unprepared, one of whom caused me to cringe from his off-pitch screeching.  Read the entire review.

     
     
August 16, 2010 | 0 Comments More