Ballet Theatre of Chicago’s Hot Start After lengthy delays and considerable skepticism, budding ballet impresario Mario de la Nuez finally launched his Ballet Theatre of Chicago this month, and the result was surprising–surprisingly good, that is. Bucking subzero temperatures, BTC actually drew crowds to their first production, Giselle, and managed to turn a small profit. […]
WILLIAM FERRIS CHORALE Cesar Franck, one of 19th-century France’s most important composers, embodies the William Ferris Chorale’s ethos. Conservatively inclined in an era that also produced the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, Franck earned a living in relative obscurity as a church organist and teacher; many of his best compositions were written for choirs and […]
The Taming of the Shrew, Tripaway Theatre, at Cafe Voltaire. There’s a phenomenon in theater sometimes called the “mad dog rehearsal,” when the cast abandons decorum and gleefully blows off steam by parodying, caricaturing, and otherwise messing with a patiently memorized script. Nobody kids themselves that it’s of interest to any but the participants. Tripaway […]
Samuel Floyd Jr. traces the origin of every black musical idiom to the traditional African ring dance. “Some people refer to it as a holy dance,” says Floyd, who heads the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College. “Ring dances in Africa were simply spectacles in which participants stood in a ring and started […]
In 1967, when Robert Hudson was sentenced for murder, parole was considered part of the deal. But times have changed, and the state’s called off the deal.
The Living Republic
Train Is Comin’, Chicago Theatre Company. Somewhere in McKinley Johnson’s slow-moving a cappella gospel musical there’s an exciting, inspirational show. Jam-packed with familiar, beautifully moving traditional songs like “These Are My Father’s Children,” “Get On Board,” and “No More Auction Block,” Train Is Comin’ tells the fascinating but little-known story of a group of Fisk […]
Chicago artist Ted Garner recalls listening to David Bowie’s Space Oddity when it first came out. He was in his grandparents’ house–a log cabin–on a reservation. This sort of “surreal cultural assemblage is part of the state of being an American Indian,” he says. Garner grew up with American Indian art objects collected by his […]
BRANDENBURG ENSEMBLE Jean-Pierre Rampal, perhaps the best-known flutist in the world, is a beloved icon who’s spent more than half a century on the concert circuit. His clean, suave playing is a lesson in how a piece of music, whether baroque or contemporary, can come alive in a natural, almost spontaneous way–free of the crowd-pleasing […]
The way Jimmy Baker sees it, he’s still got time to become a star.
And the World Goes ‘Round, Marriott’s Lincolnshire Theatre. The concept, promulgated primarily by Susan Stroman, is a kind of situational revue. Selections from ten musicals by John Kander and Fred Ebb are swiftly–often too quickly–crammed into scenes set up by some trendy event: an aerobics class, a cellular phone call, a sudden downsizing. Two lonely […]
When people hear the word “pantomime” they immediately think of “that guy in whiteface makeup acting pretentious,” laments stand-up comic Greg Glienna. But what Glienna dubs his “pantomime comedy” routine is actually a throwback to the old days–when laughs came from watching the comedian act out a situation with funny motions rather than just standing […]
SLUDGE 2000 Swiss guitarist Stephan Wittwer is a master of incongruity. He can generate blinding noise or subtle texture, jagged shapes or smooth melodies, swank jazz chords or blazing speed-metal sweeps. Wittwer first wowed Chicago audiences last November at HotHouse’s FMP Festival. With the all-star international ensemble the Cowws Quintet, he showed his abilities as […]
Lerner Mixing Business With Pleasure / No Bowles, Two Strikes