Posted inArts & Culture

A Christmas Twist

Illegitimate Players, at the Bailiwick Arts Center. What The Naked Gun did for–or rather to–detective films, this seasonal send-up does for the family classics of Charles Dickens: it stretches the contrivances permeating his work to ridiculous lengths. In Doug Armstrong, Keith Cooper, and Maureen Morley’s script, skinflint Scrooge turns out to be the uncle of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ghost of Christmas Past

Everyman Steppenwolf Theatre Company Theaters in Chicago go a little nuts at Christmas, trying to figure out what audiences want. While a few mount shows that spoof or sneer at the holiday (Reckless, A Christmas Twist, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues), most gamely swim along in the wake of Goodman Theatre’s Christmas Carol, looking for material […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Story In November in Tampa, Florida, Paul Covani, 18, filed a lawsuit against his father, retired military physician Ricardo Covani, alleging years of abuse and humiliation. According to the lawsuit, his father not only verbally abused him but until recently systematically measured his body parts, took nude photographs of him to chronicle his growth, […]

Posted inMusic

Downgrading an Old School

AACM 30th Anniversary Festival Getz Theater, December 1-3 Not all the music at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians was–to quote its motto–“great black music.” A lot of it was simply so-so. The three-night festival featured sets by 12 groups and aimed to provide an opportunity both to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Coming Out Shooting

Faggot With a Gun Bailiwick Repertory I Was a Teenage Judy Garland Fan at the Heartland Studio Theater In recent years the quantity of semiautobiographical coming-out/coming-of-age stories on Chicago stages has rivaled the number of stars in the Milky Way. If you’ve seen even a quarter of them, you may be convinced that gay men […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Work Related

Room 41, at Cafe Voltaire. Of course huge, dehumanizing corporate environments breed eccentric habits, but playwright Brett Neveu isn’t interested in stereotypes or self-centered, complaining harangues. Instead, in these 11 short monologues–average length is three minutes–he offers fragmented portraits of lonely individuals struggling for a foothold in an impersonal environment. Tim’s foothold is the splendid […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Makropulos Affair

The two major strands in Leos Janacek’s operas, enchanting fantasy and gritty psychological naturalism, weave into a compelling, mordant melodrama in The Makropulos Affair. It has a rather far-fetched story line–a 300-something diva tries to retrieve the formula for an elixir of youth concocted by an alchemist named Makropulos while fending off the amorous advances […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

Originally seen in Nashville as an up-and-coming songwriter, 26-year-old Gillian Welch has recently gotten just as much praise for her performances with partner/guitarist David Rawlings as she has for her impressive compositions. Trisha Yearwood and Emmylou Harris have already recorded songs by her–“Orphan Girl” on Harris’s terrific new album Wrecking Ball is hers–and other heavies […]

Posted inArts & Culture

XSight! Performance Group

I saw Cycles of Unveiling in rehearsal, without costumes or set. When you see it, tattered cheesecloth will hang from the ceiling between the audience and the dancers. Five of them will be nude except for lengths of cheesecloth wrapped around their hips or chests. A sixth clothed dancer is “a voyeur–a representative of the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

How on earth can the Chinese and Japanese use computers, given that their writing uses thousands of different characters? The keyboard must look like something off a Wurlitzer pipe organ. –Nora Krashoc, Knoxville, Tennessee Nah, it looks pretty much like any keyboard, and using it is a piece of cake. All you have to do […]