Tag: Nick Vidal

Review: Peter and the Starcatcher (Broadway in Chicago)

Joey deBettencourt and Megan Stern star in Broadway in Chicago's "Peter and the Starcatcher" by Rick Elice, directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers. (photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

Peter and the Starcatcher

Written by Rick Elice
Directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers
Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe (map)
thru April 13  |  tickets: $18-$85   |  more info
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April 5, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Reverb (Redtwist Theatre)

Mary Williamson and Peter Oyloe star in Redtwist Theatre's "Reverb" by Leslye Headland, directed by Jonathan Berry. (photo credit: Jan Ellen Graves )


Written by Leslye Headland
Directed by Jonathan Berry 
at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru Jun23 Jun 30  |  tickets: $25-$30  |  more info
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May 20, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Iphigenia 2.0 (Next Theatre)

Luce Metrius, Ricardo Gutierrez and Rebecca Buller star in Next Theatre' "Iphigenia 2.0" by Charles Mee, directed by David Kersnar. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
Iphigenia 2.0 

Written by Charles Mee
Directed by David Kersnar
Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Evanston (map)
thru Oct 14  |  tickets: $30-$40   |  more info
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September 12, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Ah, Wilderness! (Eclipse Theatre)

Margaret Grace and Alex Weismann, in Eclipse Theatre's "Ah, Wilderness!" by Eugene O'Neill, directed by Kevin Hagan. (photo credit: Scott Cooper)        
Ah, Wilderness!

Written by Eugene O’Neill 
Directed by Kevin Hagan
Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport (map)
thru Sept 2   |   tickets: $28   |   more info
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July 31, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: In the Heart of America (Theatre Seven)

T7 In the Heart America 05 (L to R) Fawzia Mirza as Fairouz and Anthony DiNicola as Remzi       
In the Heart of America 

Written by Naomi Wallace 
Directed by Brian Golden
Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru April 1  |  tickets: $20-$22   |  more info
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March 9, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (Steppenwolf)

Robert Schleifer and Jessica Honor Carleton       
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter 

Adapted by Rebecca Gilman
Directed by Hallie Gordon
Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
thru Nov 4  |  tickets: $15-$20   |  more info

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October 19, 2011 | 1 Comment More

Review: That Face (Redtwist Theatre, Chicago)

Nick Vidal, Jacqueline Grandt - That Face That Face 

Written by Polly Stenham
Directed by
Michael Colucci
Redtwist Theatre, 1044 Bryn Mawr (map)
thru Aug 14  |
tickets: $25-$27  | more info

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July 3, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: Aftermath (Signal Ensemble Theatre)


The battle for the soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll


(left to right) George (Andrew Yearick) introduces Brian (Aaron Snook) to the sitar, in Signal Ensemble Theatre’s world premiere of the drama with music “Aftermath,” written and directed by co-artistic director Ronan Marra.  Photo by Johnny Knight.

Signal Ensemble Theatre presents
Written/Directed by Ronan Marra
Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice (map)
through Jan 23  |  tickets: $20  |  more info

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Coming late to the Aftermath party, I wanted to see how well the production has held up since switching to Signal Ensemble’s own theater space. Extremely well, it would seem, from the sold-out crowds. Chicagoans are undeniably enjoying playwright and director Ronan Marra’s musical bio and tribute to Brian Jones, the eclectic 60s rock genius and tragic founder of The Rolling Stones.

Mick (Nick Vidal) sings while Brian (Aaron Snook) plays the sitar, in Signal Ensemble Theatre’s world premiere of the drama with music “Aftermath,” written and directed by co-artistic director Ronan Marra. Photo by Johnny KnightClearly, critical kibitzing may mean nothing, now that Signal’s production has rolled along just fine, both reawakening Boomer nostalgia and exposing a younger generation to the Stones with a laudable facsimile of the original band’s performances. In fact, Marra’s requirement for musical proficiency in his cast stands at the throbbing heart of Signal’s production. Much as Aaron Snook charismatically captivates the audience, intrepidly holding attention under a fabulous mop top of blonde hair, he also pulls his weight hinting at Brian’s natural facility with multiple instruments by playing dulcimer, sitar and electric guitar. The music is the thing. The band’s excellence is the show’s mainstay. Once Mark J. Hurni’s dramatic lighting comes up on “Paint it, Black,” you know that this train is stopping for no one.

Except for one small, perceivable flaw—as Mick Jagger, Nick Vidal’s voice achieves a suitably approximate timbre but is almost drowned out by the force of the band. At least at my Sunday matinee viewing, seated in the front row, most song lyrics were indiscernible. Only during “Lady Jane” does Vidal hold his own, volume-wise. That’s too bad, especially since every other aspect of Vidal’s portrayal is electrifying. He has captured Mick’s strut, the liquid energy that made Jagger a consummate showman and indisputable sex idol. When acting, Vidal has Jagger’s snarky insouciance down pat, but behind the mic his voice pales. Joseph Stearns also doesn’t make for a thoroughly realistic Keith Richards—but the pressure isn’t on him as it is Vidal. He’s not the front man.

Dramatically, Marra’s writing also is lacking. His jukebox musical has an excellent sense of structure, with each number placed to move the action and characters forward; the boilerplate dialogue and predictable storytelling, however, may as well have come from MTV’s “Behind the Music.” Marra wants a balanced reflection on Brian Jones’ life and forgotten contributions to the Rolling Stones’ aesthetic. Yet, he simply hasn’t taken risks to plumb the depths of his troubled but fascinating rock idol. Instead, the audience is lead through a pageant of Brian’s struggles—his battles with Mick for artistic leadership of the Stones, his musical giftedness, his affair with model Anita Pallenberg (Simone Roos) and his downward spiral into paranoia and drug dependency.

(left to right) Brian (Aaron Snook) and Mick (Nick Vidal) perform a song, in Signal Ensemble Theatre’s world premiere of the drama with music “Aftermath”. Photo by Johnny Knight (left to right) Bill (Nathan Drackett) and Charlie (Bries Vannon) laugh at the rest of the band during an interview, in Signal Ensemble Theatre’s world premiere of the drama with music “Aftermath”.

In Snook, the show has an actor whose performance gives more ballast to Marra’s two-dimensional writing, but even he cannot redeem the material from its well-worn clichés. Once Brian suspects Anita in an affair with Keith, he and Roos together carry out especially visceral performances, but most of the rest of the action is a predictable dance of rock star dissolution that skirts the edges of both Jones’ genius and his darker side. We leave knowing no more about what made Brian Jones tick than before.

Plus, for hardcore rock aficionados, Marra’s work is just as much an act of forgetting as it is a loving tribute to the fallen Rolling Stone. Significant figures in Brian Jones’ life get tossed wholesale from Aftermath’s storyline. Instrumental to Jones’ ouster from the band was the arrival of Andrew Loog Oldham, who eventually took over most of Jones’ managerial duties and pushed for Jagger/Richards’ songwriting in the name of sustained financial success. Without Oldham’s presence or mention in the drama, Mick Jagger comes across as the principal villain behind Brian getting sacked from the group.

Brian (Aaron Snook) tells his story to the audience, in Signal Ensemble Theatre’s world premiere of the drama with music “Aftermath” What’s more, significant musical creations get lost in Marra’s truncated retelling. At one point Marra has Brian Jones bring up “Their Satanic Majesties Request”, only to toss it off as just a forgettable, sub-par Stones’ album. Actually, the album was the Stones’ brief venture into psychedelic rock, which reached its apex in 1967. This was the direction in which Jones, with all his world music influences, was going. But its production, broken up by court appearances and random showings by band members and their friends, proved to be a monster to complete. Once produced, it looked like a cheap knock off compared to the Beatles’ wildly successful “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which had beaten the Stones to release by six months.

“Their Satanic Majesties Request” was Jones’ last hoorah in terms of his musical influence on the band. According to Richie Unterberger of Allmusic, the album “. . . incorporated African rhythms, Mellotrons, and full orchestration. Never before or since did the Stones take so many chances in the studio. In 1968, the Stones would go back to the basics, and never wander down these paths again . . .” A 1998 bootleg box set of the outtakes of the Satanic sessions reveals Jones in fruitful collaboration with Keith Richards and session pianist Nicky Hopkins, creating the album’s eerie soundscapes. But psychedelic rock was soon to fade as quickly as it had blossomed and Brian was going with it.

Obviously not everything about the Jones’ life can be mentioned, but certainly these milestones deserve more than a glossing. In the end, however, Aftermath remains an enjoyable evening of nostalgic entertainment.

Rating: ★★½

Brian (Aaron Snook, left) talks to a reporter (Vincent Lonergan, center) while Mick (Nick Vidal, right) listens, in Signal Ensemble Theatre’s world premiere of the drama with music “Aftermath".

January 16, 2011 | 0 Comments More