Posted inArts & Culture

Karrin Allyson

I admit it, straight out. I love the sound of Karrin Allyson’s voice–the basic physical timbre of it–and even if she didn’t do so right by it, I still wouldn’t miss the opportunity to listen to her. But the Kansas City-based Allyson does do right: she has just about the whole package. She scats with […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Shoemakers

The Shoemakers, Famous Door Theatre Company. At the center–and heart–of this musical is a family tree: a shoe tree. In Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story, the Polish-Jewish Shuster clan goes back 15 generations and 300 years–and forward, to America circa 1939. There, despite cultural disruption, the family craft of shoe making helps root them. Famous […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Faith and the Good Thing

With its metaphysical meandering streamlined, Keli Garrett’s adaptation of Charles Johnson’s modern fable now clocks in at a smooth two and a half hours, and paring more than an hour off its original running time has clarified its allegorical story line and made its characters more likable. Lydia Gartin’s ingenuous Faith is more assertive in […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago

Finally, the opportunity to see one of Chicago’s best-known dance exports–a troupe that’s toured all over the country and outside it–in a mainstream theater: for two nights only, as part of the Spring Festival of Dance, Muntu brings its fascinatin’ rhythms downtown. As usual the program, “Dances of the Diaspora,” reveals a complex approach to […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

GRIFTERS 5/5, EMPTY BOTTLE On The Eureka EP (Shangri-La), a just-released seven-song blast, this Memphis combo jettisons its usual brink-of-destruction suspense games and simply runs through terrific, blues-tinged songs that rock hard and sink mean hooks. What a concept. Rex, who get the Critic’s Choice treatment elsewhere in section three, also perform. DR. LOCO’S ROCKIN’ […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Master Of The Obvious

Walter Andersons at Ten in One Gallery, through May 20 Western artists have historically painted subjects declared to be special, high, important: saints, kings, battle scenes, or, more recently, abstractions from the artist’s mind raised to iconic status. Walter Andersons’s recent paintings and drawings, 29 of which are on view at Ten in One Gallery, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Balls Of Confusion

Aaron Kramer and George Pappadakis at Aron Packer Gallery, through May 20 One word often mentioned as a defining aspect of contemporary art is “playful,” a term used to describe a sense of prepubescent whimsy or a punning manipulation of political or religious iconography. Sometimes an artist will incorporate mass-produced toys in an ironic manner: […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Onion City Film Festival

Bill Brown’s Roswell, being screened in the Friday program of the Onion City Film Festival, takes a fanciful, humorous look at the supposed crash of a flying saucer near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, an “event” UFO types cite to this day as evidence of a massive government cover-up. Brown, a recent Harvard graduate who […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Political Is Personal

Nightwalking: Voices From Kent State Terrapin Theatre at the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall There seems to be no limit to the American penchant for self-absorption. Confusing our personal emotional response with the fulfillment of civic duty, we judge the severity of a national catastrophe like the Oklahoma City bombing by how deeply it […]

Posted inFilm

Sex and the Single Codger

The Last Good Time Rating *** A must see Directed by Bob Balaban Written by Balaban and John McLaughlin With Armin Mueller-Stahl,Olivia d’Abo, Lionel Stander,Maureen Stapleton, Kevin Corrigan, Adrian Pasdar, and Zohra Lampert. Bob Balaban, a native Chicagoan who’s best known as a prolific movie and stage actor, has directed only three features to date. […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Rex is a worthy inheritor of the Velvet Underground’s chamber-rock legacy. With its sparse instrumentation, intimate lyrical themes, unhurried tempos, and quietly hypnotic playing, the Velvet Underground’s third album defined a style emulated by bands as disparate as the Cowboy Junkies, Yo La Tengo, and Codeine (which shares drummer Doug Scharin with Rex). Rex creates […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Story In October the grandson of Reverend Fred Phelps, the Topeka, Kansas, preacher who routinely shows up at AIDS victims’ funerals holding antigay signs, asked the Topeka school district to be allowed to participate in its public service program, which is designed to encourage high school students to volunteer to improve the community. The […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Final Accord

My favorite Douglas Sirk film–made in Germany in 1936, when he was still known as Detlef Sierck–is a dazzlingly cinematic, fast-moving melodrama built around classical music; it’s alternately perverse, exalted, and delirious. Shuttling back and forth between New York and Berlin with an ease that suggests those cities were in closer proximity to each other […]