Posted inNews & Politics

World’s Fastest Drummer

Barrett Deems resembles a rooster. His Adam’s apple sticks out a mile, and he is improbably thin. On this Tuesday night at the Elbo Room, Deems turns his back to his band, which appears to do fine without him, and faces the audience, right index finger keeping a steady tempo. In his red pullover sweater […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Let the Dolly Do the Work

LET THE DOLLY DO THE WORK Curious Theatre Branch Imagine yourself a theatrical producer searching for hot new Chicago talent. You’ve heard of this Beau O’Reilly character and his cohorts at the Curious Theatre Branch: they have a reputation for crossing boundaries, experimenting with forms–you know, arty stuff, the kind you’d like your name associated […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Pantomime/Stand-Up Tragedy

PANTOMIME Court Theatre The challenge of making a political statement in mainstream theater is to preach to the converted without beating them over the head. At the Court and Body Politic theaters, the contention that race- and class-based injustice still exists around the globe won’t meet with much argument. Keeping the audience entertained and interested […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Field & Street

Spring is happening right outside my windows. Unfortunately, I seem to be spending all my time inside my windows. I get a few glimpses. A great blue heron flew over my backyard. Robins have built a nest just under our eaves where the drainpipe makes a 45-degree turn. A wasp tottered around my office windowsill […]

Posted inArts & Culture

24 Hours: Elegy

24 HOURS: ELEGY Jennifer Bartlett at Richard Gray Gallery, through May 6 I admire painters, especially these days. They show a healthy bad attitude by continuing to work in a medium the art-world cognoscenti have been administering last rites to for the past couple of decades. And among this never-say-die group, it’s hard to think […]

Posted inMusic

The English Sound

CHOIR OF SAINT PAUL’S CATHEDRAL at Cathedral of the Holy Name, April 19 Their monarchy may be in big trouble, and their economy may be in shambles. But when it comes to choral music, the sun still has not set on the British Empire. The balance of trade is definitely in their favor; through recordings […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Act of Hope

MY QUEER BODY Tim Miller at Beacon Street Theatre & Gallery, April 15-17 One of the most engaging aspects of performance art is that, most of the time, it’s so deeply personal. The artist onstage doesn’t so much play a character as some aspect of his or her self. This has its risks, of course. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

My Fair Lady

MY FAIR LADY at the Chicago Theatre “Who knows?” Alan Jay Lerner said to Herman Levin, producer of My Fair Lady’s 1956 Broadway premiere, as they tried to pinpoint the reason for their creation’s phenomenal success. “It may have been the chandeliers that did it.” Lerner was joking, of course (or half-joking, in the superstitious […]

Posted inArts & Culture

In the Flesh

What do you do when you have a hit show whose powerful impact is due partly to the tiny space it’s performed in? That was the dilemma faced by director-playwright Charley Sherman, whose inventive horror drama In the Flesh was aided considerably in its original run last fall by the intimacy of the Organic Theater’s […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Two Rooms

TWO ROOMS Oil-Can Productions at Cafe Voltaire The strengths and weaknesses of this company’s first professional production reflect those of Lee Blessing’s play. A very moving story, about a hostage and his wife who remain spiritually connected though physically separated, is weakened by heavy-handed portraits of the ineffectual government agent and ambitious journalist who claim […]