Posted inArts & Culture

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, ComedySportz. Best known for its competitive take on Viola Spolin’s improv games, Comedy-Sportz is the last group I’d expect to stage a traditional fully scripted Christmas show like this one. Adapted by Barbara Robinson from her own sweet but shallow young-adult novel, it details what happens when the rowdiest family […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

I’ll be blunt. I dig being smacked in bed. My boyfriend is willing to do this, he says, but he seems to think twice a month is enough. And when he does smack me he only does it until I’m horny enough to let him proceed with the after-hitting festivities. He’s just not hitting me […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Top Girls

Top Girls, Remy Bumppo, at Victory Gardens Theater. Caryl Churchill’s 1982 feminist masterpiece has lost none of its scalding wit, lapidary genius, and eviscerating insight. And James Bohnen’s staging for Remy Bumppo, featuring one of the strongest casts I’ve seen all year, should not be missed. The brilliant first scene–a fantasia in which high-flying corporate […]

Posted inArts & Culture


House, Chicago Repertory Company, at Chicago Actors Studio. The character in Daniel MacIvor’s one-man play, Victor, is usually described as an ineffectual, socially inept loser. Victor himself points out that he’s not weird but is most definitely fucked-up. (“You’re born weird,” he says. “You get fucked-up.”) Yet Tim Klein’s portrayal proves Victor is much more […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast, Cadillac Palace Theatre. Now touring for the third time since its 1994 Broadway debut, this lavish musical re-creates fairly faithfully the 1991 Academy Award-winning movie. New songs with lyrics by Tim Rice are bland compared with the original slyly witty Howard Ashman tunes, but combined with Linda Woolverton’s sensitive rewriting of […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Sports Section

The Bears weren’t the only Chicago team to show dramatic and unexpected improvement this fall. The Blackhawks did also, even though they, like the Bears, made no major additions during the off-season. They had, however, hired a new coach, the businesslike (and English-speaking) Brian Sutter, and his more organized approach to the game produced instant […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Latinologues, at Bailiwick Repertory. This collection of comic monologues–written and directed by Rick Najera and performed by Najera and a rotating cast–attacks stereotypes the old-fashioned way, not only debunking their distortions but humanizing them by sheepishly acknowledging their occasional basis in fact. To the wrong crowd, this maliceless show might at times come off as […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Arafat’s War

Editor: Michael Miner (Hot Type, 11/16/01) is to be commended for bringing to light the dismay many members of the Jewish community feel over the Chicago Tribune’s treatment of Israel in its pages. One need go no further than a quote in Miner’s piece attributed to Tribune editorialist Storer Rowley to see the extent to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler was legendary for his intensely felt and insightful interpretations, meticulously rehearsed and marked by a stubbornly unorthodox treatment of tempo. He did his most celebrated work between the world wars, for top-tier institutions like the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Bayreuth Festival; his signature style famously transformed pieces […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

REBECCA GATES & THE RG CONSORTIUM 12/7, HIDEOUT Rebecca Gates has more than what it takes as a guitarist, but lately she’s been emphasizing her sultry voice and her interest in the art of assembly. Her latest, Ruby Series (Badman), is her first new release since dumping the Spinanes moniker, and interestingly her collaboration with […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chris Lee

Obviously New York singer Chris Lee was feeling a bit more ambitious when he named his second album, Chris Lee Plays & Sings Torch’d Songs, Charivari Hymns & Oriki Blue-Marches (Smells Like), than when he released his debut last year, simply titled Chris Lee. The first one was a stunner that seemed to come out […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Meshell Ndegeocello

On her first two records, Meshell Ndegeocello backed up her soulful, buttered-rum voice and daughter-of-Larry Graham slap-and-pop bass playing with a sardonic strut–the big single from her 1993 debut, Plantation Lullabies, was a sidelong sneer called “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night),” and the highlight of 1996’s Peace Beyond Passion was a delicious […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

Vacationing friends are always trying to give me a “gift” bottle of pure Mexican vanilla extract that they’ve purchased in a Tijuana pharmacy. I’ve heard that the Mexicans have a toxin in their vanilla that damages the liver. Are my “friends” out to get me? –Fred Rowley, Santa Clara, Utah Could be, but I’m having […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Over the Tavern

Tom Dudzick’s play, about a working-class Catholic family trying to make it in the 50s, is a lot better than it has to be. Packed with references to the way things were in pre-Vatican II America, Over the Tavern could have coasted on jokes about nuns, learning the catechism, and the inevitable clashes between hormones […]

Posted inFilm

What Have We Learned?

In a press statement issued September 13, Paramount Classics announced that the national release of Ed Burns’s romantic comedy Sidewalks of New York would be postponed “due to recent events and sensitivity to current issues.” The maddeningly vague language was typical of the industry’s sudden timidity in the face of real-life disaster: apparently the studio […]