Tag: Patrick Bley

Review: The Humans (American Theater Company)

Hanna Dworkin in American Theater Company's "The Humans" by Stephen Karam, directed by PJ Paparelli. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
The Humans

Written by Stephen Karam  
Directed by PJ Paparelli
American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron (map)
thru Feb 1  |  tickets: $43-$48   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

December 24, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Wild Party (Bailiwick Chicago)

Danni Smith and Matthew Keffer star in Bailiwick Chicago's "The Wild Party," directed and choreographed by Brenda Didier. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
The Wild Party

By Michael John LaChuisa (music, lyrics, book)
   and George C. Wolfe (book)
Directed and Choreographed by Brenda Didier  
at VG Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Nov 1  |  tickets: $40   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Clemente – The Legend of 21 (NightBlue Performing Arts and ArtoCarpus)

Modesto Lacén stars in NightBlue Performing Arts and ArtoCarpus' "Clemente: The Legend of 21," written and directed by Luis Caballero, music by Harold Gutierrez. (photo credit: Drew Peterson)        
      
Clemente:
   The Legend of 21

Written and Directed by Luis Caballero  
Music by Harold Gutierrez
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Sept 14  |  tickets: $35   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

August 24, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Carrie the Musical (Bailiwick Chicago)

Callie Johnson stars as Carrie in Bailiwick Chicago's "Carrie the Musical" by Michael Gore, Dean Pitchford and Lawrence D. Cohen, directed by Michael Driscoll. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
Carrie the Musical

By Michael Gore (music), Dean Pitchford (lyrics),
    and Lawrence D. Cohen (book) 
Directed by Michael Driscoll
at VG Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru July 12   |  tickets: $40   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

June 2, 2014 | 1 Comment More

Review: Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago)

Harmony France and Jayson Brooks star in Bailiwick Chicago's "Dessa Rose" by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, directed by Lili-Anne Brown. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
Dessa Rose

Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown  
Richard Christiansen Thtr, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru April 5  |  tickets: $40   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

March 20, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Children’s Hour (Pride Films and Plays)

Whitney Morse and Britni Tozzi star in Pride Films and Plays' "The Children's Hour" by Lillian Hellman, directed by Derek Bertelsen. (photo credit: David Zak)        
      
The Children’s Hour

Written by Lillian Hellman
Directed by Derek Bertelsen 
Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru Feb 9  |  tickets: $15-$30   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

January 13, 2014 | 1 Comment More

Review: Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol (NightBlue Performing Arts, 2013)

Adrian Garcia and Elissa Newcorn star as Scrooge and Bogle in NightBlue Theater's "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol" by Tom Mula, directed by Molly Burns.        
      
Jacob Marley’s
    Christmas Carol

Written by Tom Mula 
Directed by Molly Burns
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Dec 15  |  tickets: $22-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

November 28, 2013 | 1 Comment 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