Posted inArts & Culture


IMPROVOLYMPIC at the Papa Milano Restaurant Viola Spolin’s Improvisation for the Theater begins with the words: “Everyone can improvise.” Since 1984, the ImprovOlympic has pitted teams of improvisers against each other in a game known as the “Harold,” and proven the truth of that statement. Invented by Del Close, one of the first performers and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Into the Woods

Some new touches have been added to William Pullinsi’s staging of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods since it moved from Marriott’s Lincolnshire Theatre to Candlelight Dinner Playhouse–a magic bean stalk that sprouts up fatefully at the end of act one, a fiery disappearance for the Witch in act two, and a much […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bastille ’90 Jazz Festival

The French are generally credited with staging the world’s first recognizable jazz festivals (Nice in 1948 and Paris in 1949); using that as a premise, and pushing the rules of logic a bit, I suppose you could say there’s something fitting about celebrating Bastille Day with the sounds of jazz. (In any case, the music […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Urban Renovator Blues

URBAN RENOVATOR BLUES Renovation Ensemble at Cabaret Voltaire Don’t be taken in by the hype. Cabaret Voltaire, a “new improved performance space,” is just a basement room, complete with claustrophobically low ceilings, clammy brick walls, and exposed water pipes. But don’t let the lack of material comfort keep you away, either. The people at Cabaret […]

Posted inMusic

Sounds of the 60s

CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at Ravinia Festival June 30 and July 6 and 7 Ravinia has taken a lot of heat in recent years for its conservative programming and particularly for avoiding new music. The reasons given are well-known–they basically boil down to the CSO’s need to prepare three times its usual repertoire in a week’s […]

Posted inFilm

Meat, John, Dough

PRETTY WOMAN (Worthless) Directed by Garry Marshall Written by J.F. Lawton With Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Ralph Bellamy, Jason Alexander, Laura San Giacomo, Alex Hyde-White, and Hector Elizondo. Having missed Pretty Woman when it opened more than three months ago, I figured I would just let it pass, but ultimately curiosity got the better of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Life Forms

CHRIS SASSER at Feigen Incorporated I’m not much of a gambler, but I’m willing to bet Chris Sasser’s oil paintings are the weirdest canvases now in Chicago. Sasser combines realist, expressionist, and abstract styles to produce biomorphic shapes that often resemble fleshy deep-sea creatures. His technical approach is interesting, but the real success of these […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Divorce Planning

It was a beautiful day, and everyone’s fancy had turned to thoughts of love–or more specifically, to love’s toxic by-products: acrimony, bitterness, division of property, and child support. “Divorce: A Survival Seminar” had attracted five Chicagoans with little in common beyond an impending change in their tax status. Financial planner Cicily Carson Maton runs the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Such a Knight

FALSTAFF Oak Park Festival Theatre “Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.” Summon plump Jack, and summon all the world. In the Henry IV plays Shakespeare did both: he imagined the foul-mouthed, huge-hearted, double-talking “mountain of mummy” Sir John Falstaff as a boozing, bragging liege companion to Prince Hal (the future Henry V). Then, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Six Ages of Woman

THE SIX AGES OF WOMAN at the Theatre Shoppe In his current show Do the White Thing, Aaron Freeman declares “Everything that happens in your life ends up in the act.” But an entire evening of autobiographical material is a risky proposition. First-person narrative is by its nature mundane–everybody has a life story. This is […]