Posted inArts & Culture

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

One of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s most popular guest conductors, the Latvian-born Mariss Jansons is a rarity among his peers: he’s an orchestra builder. In the course of his 15-year tenure as head of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, he’s transformed an obscure regional ensemble into an international phenomenon. These Norwegians burst onto the scene in […]

Posted inArts & Culture

A Christmas Carol

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Chicago TheatreWorks, at Raven Theatre. This charming children’s Christmas Carol pares down the timeless tale to 50 minutes and two very active actors. Surprisingly little gets lost in the compression; the action neatly suggests the unseen characters, and the busy players don and doff their delightful costumes and wigs (by Michele Siler) […]

Posted inMusic

Big Boys Do Cry

American Music Club, Ass Ponys Lounge Ax, December 2 There’s a bit of a show-biz revival going on in the music business lately. From Combustible Edison’s well-formulated and well-costumed exotica/lounge act hybrid to Urge Overkill’s Nate Kato donning kid gloves to croon his way through Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” to the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The City File

“Logic and history say that the frontier was, in fact, a place where violence served the causes of racial subordination, but a more powerful emotional understanding says that the frontier is where people of courage have gone to take a stand for the right and the good,” writes historian Patricia Nelson Limerick in Harper’s (October), […]

Posted inArts & Culture

In Process

IN PROCESS, Green Highway Theater, at Cafe Voltaire. An interesting drama might have been crafted from the biographies of Clara Westhoff and Paula Modersohn-Becker, both substantial figures in the modernist movement as it developed in turn-of-the-century Germany. But at a bare 30 minutes, with eight scene changes, In Process offers only the briefest of introductions […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Holly Near/Flirtations

In her 1990 autobiography Fire in the Rain…Singer in the Storm, women’s-music pioneer Holly Near recalls that a record exec once told her she’d never make it as a pop star because her voice lacked an “element of submission.” Damn straight (so to speak); Near, whose rendition of “We Are a Gentle, Angry People” was […]

Posted inArts & Culture


QUILTERS, Northlight Theatre, at the Northwestern University Theatre and Interpretation Center. Lynne Cheney, the former NEH chairman who’s been leading the charge against multicultural revisionism in history curricula, would probably hate Quilters. This musical features ten performers dramatizing American pioneer life–and there’s not a white male in the bunch. Quilters uses the art of quilting […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Calendar Photo Caption

Ernest Garrett labels his photos “minutiography,” a coinage referring to their descriptions of the “little moment.” He’s found inspiration in street photography and photojournalism but says he’s concentrated on retaining an innocent vision. “If the spot news photo is big, minutiography is small,” he says. Garrett has an exhibit of his photographs in the mezzanine […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Razor Spirits II

RAZOR SPIRITS II, Pavlovisation, at Cafe Voltaire. Now that comedy troupes across Chicago have explored virtually every frigging permutation of improv revues imaginable, a new trend is developing. Call it Instant Drama. Squads of fresh-faced twentysomething performers share wisecracks and riffs in semiscripted topical scenes, but instead of going for laughs they go for tears […]

Posted inArts & Culture

L’amour fou

Rightly described by Dave Kehr as Jacques Rivette’s “breakthrough film, the first of his features to employ extreme length (252 minutes), a high degree of improvisation, and a formal contrast between film and theater,” this rarely screened 1968 masterpiece is one of the great French films of the 60s. It centers on rehearsals for a […]