Posted inArts & Culture

Chocolate Diva

Chocolate Diva, at Some Like It Black. Earth to Kelli Rich: when you’re singing to an audience of 20 in a space no bigger than a rich man’s bedroom, you don’t need Soldier Field’s amplification system. Rich’s one-woman tribute to five pioneering African-American singers–Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, and Dinah Washington–must be […]

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Orquesta Aragon

You can’t find a charanga band anywhere in the world more authentic than Orquesta Aragon. Founded in 1939 in Cienfuegos, a French colonial town about 100 miles from Havana, it’s the oldest continuously operating unit in popular music–since the 1950s, young Cuban instrumentalists have considered the band the “major leagues,” and many have vied for […]

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The Squale

Antagonism between blacks and Arabs in a suburban Paris housing project provides the backdrop for this 2000 melodrama about a gangly, foul-mouthed teen (the appealing Esse Lawson) who’s convinced that she was fathered by a neighborhood crime icon of an earlier generation. She’s fallen for a brutish, charismatic gang leader–they’re soul mates, like Bonnie and […]

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Hot Property

Glengarry Glen Ross Steppenwolf Theatre Company In a month stuffed with Christmas Carols and Christmas Schooners, Posada Magicas and Runaway Latkes, thank heaven for Glengarry Glen Ross. As an antidote to the theatrical eggnog that predominates at this time of year, Steppenwolf is presenting a crisply acted, cunningly designed revival of David Mamet’s tough, crackling […]

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The City File

In case you hadn’t noticed, the rich are coming. Upper-income people (those who make 120 percent or more above the median) made up 29 percent of Chicago home buyers in 1993-’94, but 35.1 percent in 1999-2000, according to the Woodstock Institute’s “Home Buying by Income, 1993-2000,” written by Dan Immergluck and Geoff Smith. “The best […]

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High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music

Highly informative and thoroughly endearing, this 1991 documentary by Rachel Liebling chronicles the “high, lonesome sound” and its legendary performers against the backdrop of a changing America. Created by Scotch-Irish settlers in the Appalachian Mountains, bluegrass gradually infiltrated the mass media, incorporating outside instruments (the mandolin) and styles (from syncopated African-American work songs to rock […]

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The Professional and Eve of the Trial

The Professional and Eve of the Trial, TinFish Theatre. The company’s “second annual Serbian heritage production,” featuring two one-acts, kicks off with an adaptation of Chekhov’s short story “Eve of the Trial” by Samm-Art Williams. Though perhaps more appropriate for, say, a Russian heritage celebration, it provides an hour of light, crowd-pleasing entertainment. Williams has […]

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The Rimers of Eldritch

The Rimers of Eldritch, Terrapin Theatre, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Lanford Wilson’s 1966 play could be viewed as a prototype for his later works, likewise set in industry-fueled villages. In this case, Eldritch’s coal mines have shut down, leaving the town only a trucking business and neighboring middle-class community, Centerville, to support the few remaining […]

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Painting Churches

Painting Churches, Organic Theater Company. Tina Howe’s play about a woman who returns home to paint her aging parents’ portrait comes ready-made with problems, including lines like “Daddy’s last Pulitzer hardly covered our expenses” and “Ezra Pound brought me these shoes from Italy.” Howe’s reliance on what David Mamet calls “And then my cat died” […]