Tag: Paul Tazewell

Review: Flashdance the Musical (Broadway in Chicago)

Jillian Mueller stars as Alex Owens in Broadway in Chicago's "Flashdance the Musical" by Tom Hedley, Robert Cary and Robbie Roth, directed by Sergio Trujillo. (photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)        
       
Flashdance the Musical  

By Tom Hedley, Robert Cary and Robbie Roth
Directed and Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo
Cadillac Palace Theatre, address (map)
thru Aug 18  |  tickets: $18-$85   |  more info
       
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August 12, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Memphis (Marcus Center for the Arts, Milwaukee)

Felicia Boswell as Felicia and Bryan Fenkart as Huey, in Marcus Center for the Arts' "Memphis" by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, directed by Christopher Ashley. (photo credit: Paul Kolnik)        
       
Memphis  

Written by David Bryan (Music, Lyrics) 
       and Joe DiPietro (Book, Lyrics)
Directed by Christopher Ashley
at Marcus Center, 929 N. Water Street (map)
thru Jan 13  |  tickets: $30-$80   |  more info
       
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January 10, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Convert (Goodman Theatre)

Mai Kuda (Cheryl Lynn Bruce) fights for Jekesai’s well-being in the world-premiere co-production of The Convert by Danai Gurira, directed by Emily Mann.       
      
The Convert 

Written by Danai Gurira 
Directed by Emily Mann
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru March 25  |  tickets: $18-$32   |  more info
       
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March 7, 2012 | 2 Comments More

Review: Show Boat (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

A scene from Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Show Boat", directed by Francesca Zambello. (photo credit: Robert Kusel)       
      
Show Boat

By Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II 
Conducted by John DeMain
Directed by Francesca Zambello 
at Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker (map)
thru March 17  |  tickets: $44-$254   |  more info
       
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February 18, 2012 | 3 Comments More

Review: In The Heights (Broadway in Chicago)

IN THE HEIGHTS North American Tour; North American Tour Cast (c) John Daughtry, 2011       
      
In the Heights 

Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda 
Book by Quiara Alegria Hudes
Directed by Thomas Kail
Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph (map)
thru Jan 15  |  tickets: $25-$75   |  more info
       
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January 12, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Memphis (Broadway in Chicago)

Felicia Boswell as Felicia and 
Bryan Fenkart as Huey in
Memphis 
National Tour
Credit Photo: Paul Kolnik
studio@paulkolnik.com
nyc 212-362-7778
      
      
Memphis 

By Joe DiPietro and David Bryan
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map)
thru Dec 4  |  tickets: $37-$95   |  more info
       
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December 2, 2011 | 0 Comments More

Review: White Noise (Royal George and Whoopi Goldberg)

        
        

Though it doesn’t quite rock the hard place, it still rocks

  
  

MacKenzie Mauzy and the ensemble in Whoopi Goldberg's 'White Noise' at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago.

  
Whoopi Goldberg presents
  
White Noise: a cautionary musical
  
Book by Matte O’Brien
Music/Lyrics by
Robert Morris, Steven Morris, Joe Shane
Directed and choreographed  by
Sergio Trujillo
at Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted (map)
through June 5  |  tickets: $50-$65  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

Neo-Nazism, maybe now more than ever, is definitely a lonely philosophy, with both sides of the political spectrum trigger-happy to brand their opponents as followers of the Fuhrer. Unlike the more fashionable discrimination against Latinos, Muslims, and gays, wholesale white supremacy is not in vogue these days. White Noise, the new “cautionary musical” produced by Whoopi Goldberg, asks what would happen if subtle and coded racist rhetoric went viral? It’s already sort of happening over on 4Chan; in this way, Matte O’Brien’s book is screamingly relevant. He’s assisted by well-wrought, if often disturbing, songs and Sergio Trujillo’s snappy staging. However, by using tired Nazi philosophy Emily Padgett and MacKenzie Mauzy in Whoopi Goldberg's 'White Noise' at the Royal George Theatreas its punching bag, White Noise fails to present a nuanced reflection on racism in today’s America—something we desperately need.

The events of the play were inspired by a little duo of white nationalists who formed a band called Prussian Blue. The two tween girls sang about race wars and crushes on skinheads, nearly immediately gaining the ire, and spotlight, of the national media. However, the pinnacle of Prussian Blue’s career was playing a state fair or two. The titular band in White Noise is sexier, more talented, and more marketable—singing their ciphered bigotry, they become YouTube darlings and put out a number one single.

One wonders how their repulsive beliefs are kept hidden from the media – something the show never explains. In fact, you aren’t really told much about how those beliefs came to be; there is never the searing indictment of inherited racism you find in American History X.

What we’re left with is the terrifically short rise and fall of White Noise, which is comprised of sisters Eva and Eden (Mackenzie Mauzy and Emily Padgett), skinhead/bassist/Eva’s boyfriend Duke (Patrick Murney), and Jake (Eric William Morris), who’s slapped onto the band by record exec Max (Douglas Sills as a lukewarm Bobby Gould-lite) with the mission of repackaging the group. The show becomes a battle between the greed of the amoral Max and Duke’s desire to vocalize his disgusting views on a national platform. Eva and Eden are caught in the crossfire. Eden just writes the tunes; she’s never really that concerned with the message. Eva fully believes the stuff, but she’s also a capitalist.

This story is juxtaposed with Max and Jake’s attempts to repackage backpack rappers Dion (Wallace Smith) and Tyler (Rodney Hicks) as gangstas. It doesn’t help that the two’s original ideas are pretty lame (like a rap version of the Declaration of Independence – not kidding), lacking the intelligence of Lupe Fiasco or De La Soul. Against their will, Max turns them into Blood Brothers and Jake writes them a little tune called “N.G.S.,” a smash hit about N’s (think N.W.A.) shooting “white boys.” Obviously, Jake and Max are guilty of racist double-dipping, but Max could care less and Jake is concerned with making his career. The whole musical leads up to a giant concert featuring a double bill of White Noise and Blood Brothers. Needless to say, it doesn’t go down as smooth as “Ebony and Ivory.”

     

Eric Morris, Emily Padgett, MacKenzie Mauzy, Patrick Murney in Whoopi Goldberg's 'White Noise' at the Royal George Theatre
Rodney Hicks and Wallace Smith as the "BloodBrothas" in Whoopi Goldberg's 'White Noise' at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago. MacKenzie Mauzy and Emily Padgett in Whoopi Goldberg's 'White Noise' at the Royal George Theatre

Mauzy and Padgett give great performances and nail the musical numbers. Their tunes, penned by Robert Morris, Steven Morris, and Joe Shane, are legitimately catchy. Murney is chilling and Morris, who becomes the romantic lead in this tale, is decent. Max is a wannabe Mamet character who just isn’t quite ballsy enough, but Sills does the best he can.

I have to give props to this show – which has Broadway-level production design – for not shying away from the vile language. The show may be as blunt as Nazi propaganda. It presents racism in a polarized manner that doesn’t speak to the insidious, quieter racism that we see today. But White Noise still asks some relevant questions. The Hitler salute-inspired choreography in the video of White Noise’s hit single, “Mondays Suck,” inspire rounds of fan vids on YouTube, a la “Single Ladies.” At the end of the night, I was wondering how stupid all those kids must feel after they realize they posted videos of themselves goose-stepping.

  
  
Rating: ★★★
  
  

Eric Morris, Emily Padgett, MacKenzie Mauzy, Patrick Murney in Whoopi Goldberg's 'White Noise' at the Royal George Theatre

White Noise: a cautionary musical continues at the Royal George Theatre through June 5th, with performances Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30pm, Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 5pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 5pm. Tickets are $49.50-$64.50, and can be purchased online or via the box office (312-988-9000). For more info, download the

.

All photos by Carol Rosegg

     
April 16, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Private Lives (Chicago Shakespeare)

Noël Coward skewers conventional morality with droll finesse

private-lives-1

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre presents:

 

Private Lives

 

by Noël Coward
directed by Gary Griffin
thru March 7th (ticket info)

reviewed by Catey Sullivan 

For delivering comic barbs with Cowardesque suave perfection, it’s tough to beat Robert Sella. One expects he could make even the most insipid rom-com crackle, zing and pop through sheer force of his timing and droll finesse. Noel Coward’s Private Lives – wherein Sella is currently stealing the show with his irresistible irreverent panache – is, of course, anything but insipid. It snaps from start to finish with wisdom and witticisms, many at the cost of so-called conventional morality. As Elyot Chase in Chicago Shakespeare’s production of Coward’s sparklingly well-made play, Sella seems born to wear the debonair character’s smoking jacket while tossing off withering repartee with the effortless brilliance of Beethoven practicing his scales. Almost.

private-lives-2 That sterling, razor-witted acumen with Coward’s inarguable wit isn’t quite enough. Yes, Sella can ignite an exquisite maelstrom of delicious comedy simply by flicking a napkin or aping a boxer’s stance. But in addition to humor, Private Lives rests on sexual chemistry, and there, director Gary Griffin’s staging – and Sella – fall short.

When Elyot and his ex-wife Amanda Prynne meet cute whilst on their respective honeymoons to new spouses, the attraction between former spouses is so white-hot that they abandon their new partners and flee for Amanda’s Parisian flat for a solid week of wall-to-wall sex. Or at least, it should be white-hot. Here, Elyot and Amanda (Tracy Michelle Arnold, worldly, brittle and dry as a perfectly aged Savignon Blanc) are more intellectual than sexual soul mates. Quip for quip, Amanda and her ex- are as perfectly matched as Shakespeare’s Kate and Petruchio or Albee’s George and Martha. Watching them spar is a joy. Watching them get busy atop a sleek grand piano? Not so much.

As for Sybil Chase and Victor Prynne – the abandoned half of the two newlywed couples – they’re utterly winning in their indignant conventionality. As the new Mrs. Chase, Chaon Cross is an ingénue with delicate yet unmistakable shadings of a harpy in-training – you just know she’s going to turn into her battle-ax mother by the time she hits 40. And as Amanda’s new husband Victor Prynne, Tim Campbell is a pitch-perfect righteous blockhead, a slab of ham and sensible haircut of a man, all tiresome chivalry and hail-fellow-well-met. He’s the opposite of Sella’s Elyot, physically, morally and intellectually, and the results – both visually and verbally – are hilarious.

private-lives-3 private-lives-4

Not so effective is the intermittently and slowly rotating turntable that Griffin employs to give the audience a sense of voyeurism. While we do get to see the Prynne/Chase shenanigans from every angle, that rotation is a distraction – particularly when it starts up after being still for a while. It can be difficult to focus on the dialogue and characters when suddenly the set starts spinning on its axis, no matter how leisurely. Furthermore, the in-the-round staging means everyone in the audience spends at least some time staring at the backs of heads or (during scenes involving people prone on that piano or the purple velvet fainting couch) the soles of feet. It’s frustrating,

All that said, Private Lives is worthy of its ticket price. It’s Sella’s show, and chemistry or no, he nails the subversive genius of Coward’s wit. Factor in Paul Tazewell’s sleek 1930s costume design (the hats alone are to die for) and you’ve got a production that’s sumptuously handsome. As well as extremely funny.

 

Rating: ★★★

 

Private Lives continues through March 7 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand Ave. Tickets are $55, $68, $75. For more information, call 312/595-5600 or go to www.chicagoshakes.com

Below: First rehearsal – the director talks about staging Private Lives in-the-round

Also, read an interview with director Gary Griffin

January 15, 2010 | 3 Comments More

“The Color Purple” Returns to Chicago – starring Fantasia

Oprah Winfrey presents

Color_Purple_Fantasia

 

STARRING FANTASIA

FOR TWO WEEKS ONLY!

SEPTEMBER 2 – 13, 2009

The Arie Crown Theater welcomes the soulful singing sensation of Fantasia as she reprises her critically acclaimed role of “Celie” in the smash hit musical.

The producers of THE COLOR PURPLE are proud to announce that American Idol Season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino will reprise her starring role of Celie for the Chicago engagementReturning to its debut home of Chicago , THE COLOR PURPLE will make its home at The Arie Crown Theater for two weeks, September 2 –13, 2009

Tickets for performances go on sale May 1 at 10 a.m. and range in price from $49.50 – $85. Tickets are available at the Arie Crown Theater Box Office ( 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive ), online at ticketmaster.com, charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000 and at all Ticketmaster outlets.  Groups of 20 or more should call (312) 791-6320.

May 7, 2009 | 0 Comments More