Tag: Osiris Khepera

Review: Bootycandy (Windy City Playhouse)

Osiris Khepera stars in BOOTYCANDY, Windy City Playhouse           
      
  

Bootycandy

Written & Directed by Robert O’Hara
Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park (map)
thru April 15  |  tix: $25-$55  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

February 18, 2017 | 2 Comments More

Review: Rutherford’s Travels (Pegasus Theatre Chicago)

Breon Arzell stars as Rutherford Calhoun in Rutherford's Travels, Pegasus Players           
      
  

Rutherford’s Travels

Adapted by Ilesa Duncan, David Barr III
   from novel by Charles Johnson
at Chicago Dramatists, 773 N. Aberdeen (map)
thru Dec 4  |  tix: $30  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

November 17, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Tennessee Williams Project (The Hypocrites)

Patrick Gannon in The Hypocrites' "The Tennessee Williams Project", directed and devised by Matt Hawkins. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)        
      
Tennessee Williams Project

Written by Tennessee Williams 
Directed and Devised by Matt Hawkins
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru Mar 2  |  tickets: $28   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

January 27, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Harry and the Thief (Pavement Group Chicago)

Alexander Lane and Manny Buckley star in Pavement Group's "Harry and the Thief" by Sigrid Gilmer, directed by Krissy Vanderwarker. (photo credit: Brittany Barnes)        
       
Harry and the Thief 

Written by Sigrid Gilmer
Directed by Krissy Vanderwarker
The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru Nov 10  |  tickets: $15-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

October 23, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Passing Strange (Bailiwick Chicago)

  
  

Bailiwick takes us on a sublime musical journey

  
  

Clockwise from left: LaNisa Frederick, Osiris Khepera, Whitney White, Sharriese Hamilton, Aaron Holland, Steven Perkins in Bailiwick Chicago's 'Passing Strange'. Photo by Jay Kennedy ©2011

   
Bailiwick Chicago presents
  
Passing Strange
   
Written by Stew and Heidi Rodewald
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
at Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, 777 N. Green (map)
through May 29  |  tickets: $25-$35  |  more info

Reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

Passing Strange is a supple title for this coming-of-age rock/soul musical/concert. It refers to how life looks to this young black man from Los Angeles–and to how he moves through it as his hero journey takes him to Amsterdam, Berlin and back home. With one of the richest scores this entertainment genre ever needed and a Midwest premiere by Bailiwick Chicago that’s nothing short of terrific, “Passing Strange” is 150 minutes of smart showbiz. Until now I never knew how much a record album could resemble a family album—until it’s, as the British say, a distinction without a difference.

Jayson "JC" Brooks" as the Narrator in Bailiwick Chicago's 'Passing Strange'.It’s also a very specific journey. It begins in 1976 and ends in the early 80s with the protagonist still only 22. Narrating it with a passion to equal the events is Jayson “JC” Brooks, noted for his Coalhouse Walker in Porchlight’s Ragtime. Known simply as Youth (galvanic Steven Perkins), the seeker is first seen trying out and rejecting religions, to the confusion of his tough-loving, church-going mother (a remarkable LaNisa Frederick), who indulges in her own less-than-sacred “Baptist Fashion Show.” The “call and response” fervor of the revival meetings that Youth attends (“Church Blues Revelation/Music Is the Freight Train in Which God Travels”) becomes a style, if not a subject, that he can share in his own songs. But the youth choir is no inspiration, neither is the girlfriend who rejects him because he’s not black enough.

Influenced by the American-fleeing James Baldwin, Youth journeys to Amsterdam to join the reefer rebels at the Headquarters Café Song, find inspiration with the comforting Marianna (Sharriese Hamilton) who gives him her “Keys,” and get stoned in this punk-rock “Paradise.” But it’s all too perfect. There’s no friction to generate the songs expected from an ex-pat alien on the lam from L.A.

This “fiery pilgrim” finally ends up in still-Communist Berlin where Youth gets sucked into the righteously rebellious performance-art scene. There he cultivates his angry “Negritude” and sticks out as “The Black One,” savoring his outsider identity as he joins a commune of agitprop-crazy Reds. (Their cruel Cold War concept is that “What is inside is just a lie,” that we’re just the creatures of capitalism unless we free ourselves through anti-social theatrics.)

     
Clockwise from top left: Sharriese Hamilton, Aaron Holland, Jayson “JC” Brooks, Osiris Khepera, Steven Perkins. Photo by Jay Kennedy, ©2011 Bailiwick A scene from About Face Theatre's 'Passing Strange'. Photo by Jay Kennedy, ©2011
A scene from About Face Theatre's 'Passing Strange'. Photo by Jay Kennedy, ©2011 A scene from About Face Theatre's 'Passing Strange'. Photo by Jay Kennedy, ©2011 A scene from About Face Theatre's 'Passing Strange'. Photo by Jay Kennedy, ©2011 A scene from About Face Theatre's 'Passing Strange'. Photo by Jay Kennedy, ©2011

But one lonely Christmastide, the Youth discovers that even radicals have families to which they return. Perhaps he should go back too. But his mother’s death makes the prodigal’s return to L.A. a bittersweet homecoming (“Passing Phase”). So the Youth’s perpetual tug of war between life and art finally ends in a sardonic thought: “Life is a mess that only art can fix.” Better of “Work the Wound.”

Youth’s quest inevitably conjures up images of Beat Poets on the road, Kerouac-style, as they try by process of elimination to find out what they’re not. Then can come the slow creative accretion that forges their art. It’s never been so eloquent however, with this Tony Award-winning book by Stew (who played the original Narrator) and his cunning, memorable songs (co-written with Heidi Rodewald in collaboration with Annie Dorsen). James Morehad music directs the 22 numbers with a singular love for every note. The Bailiwick ensemble couldn’t be tighter or truer to this multi-textured material.

  
  
Rating: ★★★★
  
  

From left: David Keller, Billy Bungeroth, Kevin Marks, Jayson “JC” Brooks, Ben Taylor. ©2011 Bailiwick Chicago, Photo by Jay Kennedy

All photos by Jay Kennedy, © 2011

     
April 28, 2011 | 2 Comments More