Posted inArts & Culture

The Amen Corner

The Amen Corner, Goodman Theatre. The theme running through James Baldwin’s classic drama–that eternal regret is the price of piety untempered by compassion–has lost none of its impact since the play’s premiere in 1954. Now director Chuck Smith restores this milestone, long relegated to the storefront circuit, to its rightful place in the American repertoire […]

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Everyday Carnage

Drawing War Chicago Dramatists By Albert Williams Brett Neveu’s new drama, Drawing War, doesn’t sound much like the works of O’Neill, Miller, Williams, Albee, or Shepard. There are no long, arcing speeches or exquisite poetic passages, no passionate sermonizing or profanity-packed or mythopoeic outpourings. The characters in this compact, carefully modulated two-act speak in terse, […]

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Chris Jonas

CHRIS JONAS Soprano saxophonist Chris Jonas has played in Cecil Taylor’s large New York ensemble and William Parker’s Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, and over the past four years he’s graduated from studying for his master’s under Anthony Braxton to working in Braxton’s groups and coconducting his recent collaboration with the Slovenian National Radio Orchestra. […]

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Holmes Brothers

HOLMES BROTHERS Though gospel, soul, and blues share deep roots, surprisingly few artists can simultaneously occupy all three genres without sounding strained or insincere in at least one. But guitarist and keyboardist Wendell Holmes, bassist Sherman Holmes, and drummer Willie “Popsy” Dixon are among those few, making music that combines the simple dignity of a […]

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Porcelain

Porcelain, Trap Door Theatre. Few plays pack more truth and power into 75 minutes than Singapore-born playwright Chay Yew’s searing, complex anatomy of a crime of passion (produced by Eclipse Theatre here in 1994). John Lee, a 19-year-old Cambridge-bound Anglo-Chinese man, shoots to death his white sex partner in a public toilet. Yew depicts the […]

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Each in His Own Way

EACH IN HIS OWN WAY, TinFish Theatre. “Life,” Thomas Hardy observed, “is a series of seemings.” In Luigi Pirandello’s 1924 comedy, the serial seemings come fast and furious, inside out and upside down. Dragan Torbica directs a solid revival of this absurdist version of a revenger’s tragedy: a beautiful but fickle actress inspires infidelity, suicide, […]

Posted inMusic

Minders

MINDERS For much of their career these bedroom Anglo-poppers from Portland, Oregon, have been buoyed by the tidal wave of hype about the Elephant 6 Recording Company, a loose aggregation of home-recording enthusiasts led by Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo. Schneider lent his flower power to the Minders’ first single back in 1995, […]

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Kasey Chambers

KASEY CHAMBERS Kasey Chambers wrote some of the material on her recent debut album, The Captain (Asylum), almost a decade ago, when she was just 15, and it shows. Her mundane stories and complaints are populated by lots of unspecified yous, and she abuses the placeholder well, using it to kick off a total of […]

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May the Best Man Win

Pageant at the Black Orchid By Kim Wilson Some plays are made to advance social awareness. Others are made to sell drinks. Enter Chicago’s latest cocktailfest: a cheeky parody of that grand runway tradition, the beauty pageant, the stuff of little girls’ dreams, feminist rage, and many a send-up. What makes these ladies so special? […]

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Soft Boys

SOFT BOYS If ever a band got together at the wrong place and the wrong time, it was the Soft Boys. In England in 1976, first-generation punk rockers like the Clash and the Sex Pistols were setting the tone in rock ‘n’ roll with power chords and proletarian posturing. But singer-guitarist Robyn Hitchcock, guitarist Kimberly […]

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The Rainmaker

The Rainmaker, Bog Theatre. The drought shows no sign of ending, crops and livestock are dying, and tempers are short. On top of all that, Lizzie Curry appears doomed to be an old maid despite the efforts of her father and brothers to lasso her a husband. Then a sweet-talking stranger arrives promising to make […]