Tag: Jaret Landon

Review: A Wonder in My Soul (Victory Gardens Theater)

Greta Oglesby, Camille Robinson, Jacqueline Williams, Donica Lynn and Linda Bright Clay in Wonder in Soul           
      
  

A Wonder in My Soul

Written by Marcus Gardley
VG Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Mar 19  |  tix: $20-$60  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

February 27, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Christians (Steppenwolf Theatre)

Jacqueline Williams, Mary-Margaret Roberts, Tom Irwin, Jazelle Morriss and Faith Howard in The Christians           
      
  

The Christians

Written by Lucas Hnath
Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
thru Jan 29  |  tix: $20-$89  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

January 18, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Jabari Dreams of Freedom (Chicago Children’s Theatre)

13-year-old Cameron A. Goode (left) plays Jabari, whose dreams take him back to 1963 Birmingham, Alabama to meet members of the Birmingham Children’s Brigade (Leslie Ann Sheppard and Patrick Agada) in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s world premiere of Jabari Dreams of Freedom by Nambi E. Kelley. Performances are April 5-May 1 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (Note: Cameron A. Goode alternates with another 13-year-old, Philip Cusic, as the title character in Jabari Dreams of Freedom.) Tickets: chicagochildrenstheatre.org or (872) 222-9555. Photo credit: Charles Osgood

 

 
 

 
          

           
Jabari Dreams of Freedom

Written by Nambi E. Kelley
Ruth Page Arts Ctr, 1016 N. Dearborn (map)
thru May 1  |  tix: $10-$39  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

April 20, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Gospel of Lovingkindness (Victory Gardens Theater)

Cheryl Lynn Bruce and Tosin Morohunfola star in Victory Garden's "The Gospel of Lovingkindness" by Marcus Gardley, directed by Chay Yew. (photo credit: Michael Courier)        
      
The Gospel of Lovingkindness

Written by Marcus Gardley
Directed by Chay Yew
at VG Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru March 30  |  tickets: $30-$60   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

March 14, 2014 | 1 Comment More

Review: Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Porchlight Music Theatre)

Lorenzo Rush, Jr. and Lina Wass star in Porchlight Music Theatre's "Ain't Misbehavin," directed and choreographed by Brenda Didier. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)        
      
Ain’t Misbehavin’

Conceived by Murray Horwitz, Richard Maltby Jr.
Music by Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller 
Directed and Choreographed by Brenda Didier
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru March 9  |  tickets: $30-$44   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review 

February 26, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (Porchlight Music Theatre)

Alexis J Rogers as Billie Holiday in Porchlight Music Theatre's "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" by Lanie Robertson, directed by Rob Lindley. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)        
       
Lady Day at
   Emerson’s Bar & Grill
 

Featuring the music of Billie Holiday 
Written by Lanie Robertson 
Directed by Rob Lindley 
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru March 10  |  tickets: $32-$41   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

February 6, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Crowns (Goodman Theatre)

Jasondra Johnson (Velma) demonstrates “hattitude” in Regina Taylor’s 10th anniversary production of Crowns at Goodman Theatre. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)        
       
Crowns 

Written and Directed by Regina Taylor 
Adapted from book by Michael Cunningham
       and Craig Marberry
at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru Aug 12  |  tickets: $31-78   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
         
        Read entire review
     

July 10, 2012 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: The Nativity (Congo Square)

  
  

Beautiful to Behold

  
  

Congo Square - The Black Nativity - Celebrating the Birth

   
Congo Square Theatre presents
  
   
The Nativity
  
Written by McKinley Johnson
Inspired by
Langston Hughes
Directed by
Aaron Todd Douglas
at Goodman’s Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
through Dec 31  |  tickets: $30-$40  |  more info

Reviewed by K.D. Hopkins

I have been going to the theater in Chicago for over 40 years and Black-themed productions have a special place in my heart since I first witnessed Purlie Victorious! at what was the Monroe Theater in 1969. The power of seeing and hearing the old traditions, colloquialisms, and gospel or blues tinged singing remains with me. This year, I wasn’t feeling the so-called Christmas Spirit in full. The commercials started before I could plow through my Halloween stash of candy and make the turkey sandwiches from Thanksgiving. Thank goodness I got my hallelujah infusion from Congo Square’s production of The Nativity.

Kathleen Purcell Turner and Pierre Clark as Mary and JosephThis musical and dance extravaganza is written by McKinley Johnson and inspired by one of my favorite writers: Langston Hughes. The plot is the traditional Nativity story of the Visitation from the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary and the adventures that ensued in the birthing of the man known as Jesus.

The Black Nativity, which inspired this work, is one of the sacred plays written by Langston Hughes in the late 40’s and early 50’s as the Harlem Renaissance gave way to a stronger Civil Rights Movement in America. The Black theater had always been a strong presence due to segregation and discrimination. Hughes was always unabashed in his support and pride for Black traditions in music, poetry, and other art forms. Director Aaron Todd Douglas, Musical Director Jaret Williams and Choreographer Kevin Iega Jeff have built a beautiful monument on the foundations laid by Hughes and McKinley.

The combination of dance and spoken word make for a powerful and emotional tribute. Dancers Kathleen Purcell Turner and Pierre Clark portray the characters of Mary and Joseph. They never speak but project power, emotion and pain with dance. Ms. Turner is a wonder to watch as she portrays the birth pains, terror and exhaustion of travel on the run. If I had not been sitting so close I would wonder if she was held up or manipulated by invisible cords. Her beautiful and expressive face shows innocence, giddy youthful love, fear, and finally a maternal glow. She and Mr. Clark play perfectly off of each other as a couple in love.

Pierre Clark is an amazing high school senior who has perfected the role of Joseph. He emotes the youthful lust and royal bearing befitting a descendant of King Solomon. His acting is wonderful and the protection and joy of fatherhood is beautifully played through his dance moves. The choreography is reminiscent of Capoeira dancing – a blend of dance and martial arts that was forbidden during the slave trade in Colonial Brazil. It is a stunning and innovative take on choreography in a sacred work.

The cast of singing actors in The Nativity is from the ranks of Chicago’s finest actors. John Steven Crowley commands the stage as the Angel Gabriel and the narrator of the story. Alexis Rogers and Jeniel Smith shine as Athaliah and Johashobah. They are best friends at the washing creek and wives the fearsome King Herod. They have some funny and contemporary lines that ring true in modern society as well as ancient times.

Pierre Clark and Kathleen Purcell Turner as Joseph and MaryBlack Ensemble Theater regular, Kelvin Roston Jr., joins Ms. Rogers and Ms. Smith. Mr. Roston brings his handsome and convivial charm to the roles of Tax Collector, Inn Keeper, and Centurion. It is always a pleasure to see him perform.

Dwelvan David is a standout as King Herod. Mr. David’s striking features and imposing projection give him a perfect balance of fierce warrior, cunning politician, and comic foil.

The singing in this play is exceptional and pure gospel. The selections by Jaret Williams are soul-rousing and seemingly tailored to the singing talents of the cast. The moment the piano played I felt that I was ‘back in the day’. A special mention of Melody Betts and Dawn Bless is warranted for their roles of Mother of Mary and Elizabeth. They each have wonderful solos and shine in the roles of mother, confidant, and protectors of the Virgin Mary. Two other highlights are the song and dance combination of ‘Her Way’s Cloudy’ and the appearance of the Three Kings. The costumes are perfection in the choice of fabric and tailoring. (I was really close to the stage). The song ‘You Ought To Try The Lord’ is rocking, as is the ‘get happy in church’ dance by Jon Pierce.

I recommend The Black Nativity as a holiday tradition for everyone no matter your race or religious tradition. It’s perfect for the whole family and as an introduction to musical theater for younger children. Kudos to all of the parents in the audience as this was one of the best intergenerational audiences I have had the pleasure to be in. Happiest of Holidays to Everyone!

  
  
Rating: ★★★½
  
  

Ensemble

The Congo Square Theatre production of The Nativity runs through December 31st at the Goodman Theatre,170 N. Dearborn in vibrant downtown Chicago. Please call 312-443-3800 for ticket information.

      
      
December 23, 2010 | 0 Comments More