Posted inArts & Culture

Birdbath

Trap Door Theatre. Opening a new theater space has done in many a production. American Blues Theatre encountered such logistical nightmares getting their new space ready last spring that Monsters III barely hobbled to the finish line. In 1988 Lookingglass mounted their debut production, Of One Blood, in a freshly insulated room so thick with […]

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On Stage: a marriage of philosophies

“It’s storybook romantic,” says Keith Uchima, describing his Jade Monkey King, a three-act musical adaptation of the colorful Chinese folk myth Monkey. The hero is a supernatural creature who’s chosen by Buddha to accompany a monk making a pilgrimage to India. “They are joined by a pig and a martial-artist monk, and their adventures and […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Sports Section

The Bears’ playoff victory over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday was nothing less than actual, physical confirmation of a phenomenon we had only recently written off as a mirage. A month ago when we left the Bears they were steaming toward the National Football League playoffs as a solid second-echelon team–maybe not in the class of […]

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Arizona Dream

If you thought the families in Twister and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape were dysfunctional, take a gander at the two families of infantile fruitcakes in the first English-language movie (1993) by Bosnian-born Emir Kusturica (When Father Was Away on Business, Time of the Gypsies). An orphan (Johnny Depp) who works for the New York Department […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

HATFUL OF RAIN, WEBSTIRS 1/6, CUE CLUB There are a couple of ways to look at these two acts. As a scene apologist I’d praise their technical competence, potential commercial appeal, and general professionalism. Speaking from the heart, I’d condemn the triumphant mediocrity of their music. On their recently released Alone, Hatful of Rain, a […]

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Sabalon Glitz

Space rock, once reviled, is newly ascendant: witness the popularity of Stereolab’s Moog-dominated pop, the rise of ambient house music, and the grudging critical respect recently accorded seminal space rockers Hawkwind. The Hyde Park combo Sabalon Glitz puts Chicago back on the galactic musical map. (Sun Ra’s Arkestra, based here in the 50s, was an […]

Posted inMusic

Funk War

Ohio Players, Average White Band New Regal Theater, December 9 When I first heard about New Regal Theater’s “battle of the bands” between the Ohio Players and Average White Band, I chuckled. What battle? It would be more like a slaughter. The Ohio Players were among the founders of funk; what could a bunch of […]

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Eddie Higgins Trio

In Chicago’s musical history, jazz piano starts with Nat “King” Cole and the unmistakable keyboard style he developed here in the 1930s before gaining fame and fortune as a pop singer. In the 50s such iconically Chicago pianists as Ahmad Jamal and Ramsey Lewis borrowed from Cole a featherweight touch, as well as an unusual […]

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Klown: Prick Us and We’ll Burst

As much as I relish the clever way Die Hanswurste tricked certain members of the press into believing their ragtag group of American comic actors were really handpicked representatives of a fictional school of German “clown performance art,” I have two regrets about their September show. One, their hoax overshadowed what was really a fine […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Pointless Pageantry

Winter Pageant Redmoon Theater, December 31 and January 1 Reviewing Redmoon Theater’s annual Winter Pageant is like critiquing the gay pride parade; if you don’t support it, you feel like a traitor to the community. During its three-year history the pageant has developed a loyal, enthusiastic following, so it was no surprise to see the […]

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Club Soda

National Jewish Theater. Set in Brooklyn (where else?) in 1946, Leah Kornfeld Friedman’s loving but familiar memory play details teenage Lillie’s awkward coming-of-age, piano lessons and all–even broken front teeth her parents are too poor to fix. This scrappy, plainspoken heroine feels that life is hemming her in just when her dreams, fed by the […]

Posted inMusic

The Sound Remains the Same

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant No Quarter (Atlantic) Joni Mitchell, speaking to her audience on the rudely entitled live album Miles of Aisles, combined pretension and bad manners in equal measure when she compared her fans to poor art historians: “No one ever said to van Gogh, ‘Hey, man, can you paint Starry Night again?’” […]