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Posted inArts & Culture

Hot Mikado

Hot Mikado, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Some musical hybrids prove hardier than others: David H. Bell’s marriage of swing rhythms and Victorian enthusiasm for all things Japanese improbably invigorates his 1986 Hot Mikado (partly inspired by two 1937 African-American versions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic). Though Sullivan’s up-tempo melodies are almost unrecognizable in adapter Rob […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Dropp Ensemble

Local musicians Sam Dellaria and Adam Sonderberg originally conceived the Dropp (pronounced “drope”) Ensemble as a way to work with players from around the world without leaving their studio. They asked Parisian sound artist Eric La Casa, Australian electronic musician Brendan Walls, and Viennese guitar-turntable duo Das Fax Mattinger to mail them raw material for […]

Posted inArts & Culture

City of Ghosts

Matt Dillon’s directing debut (2002) has been getting a bad rep among some critics, but it kept me intrigued and entertained. Cowritten by Dillon and noir novelist Barry Gifford, it’s a sort of bargain-basement Graham Greene story about an insurance scam artist (Dillon) who travels to Cambodia in search of his seedy mentor (James Caan), […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Dutch Love

Dutch Love, Bailiwick Repertory. Everything about this production smacks of a television sitcom. Director Kelli Strickland apparently encouraged her actors to mug and shrug for full comic effect. And Claudia Allen’s script brims with short scenes ending with a telegraphed punch line or easy visual joke, such as someone pulling a quilt over his or […]

Posted inFilm

Art Imitates Love

The Shape of Things *** (A must-see) Directed and written by Neil LaBute With Rachel Weisz, Paul Rudd, Frederick Weller, and Gretchen Mol. The first time I saw Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things it packed a wallop. When I saw it again three weeks later it didn’t. Its force depends largely on a shock […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Joe Henry

On his most recent album, Scar (Mammoth, 2001), Joe Henry examines the lingering marks that love–or at least the quest for it–can leave. Though his lyrics are as elliptical as ever, his subjects are clear enough: people who can’t get enough from lovers and people who simply give too much. In “Struck” the narrator asks, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Go

The Go, Terrapin Theatre, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Having read or seen three of Brett Neveu’s plays, I’ve come to the conclusion that he writes for the theater only because the TV show in his head doesn’t exist yet. Or ceased to exist decades ago. With their spareness, their stillness, their refusal to indulge in […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Tales from the Stinky Cheese Man

Tales from the Stinky Cheese Man, ComedySportz. Judging by the popularity of Jon Scieszka’s The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales among young readers, it’s destined to become a classic. In this 1992 book, Scieszka takes liberties with familiar stories such as “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “The Gingerbread […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Orquesta Aragon

Now in its 64th year, Cuba’s mighty Orquesta Aragon is possibly the world’s oldest dance band. Throughout its career the group has kept itself vital by tweaking but never fully abandoning its traditional sound. Formed in 1939, it took more than a decade–and the addition of violinist Rafael Lay, who replaced group founder Orestes Aragon […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Steve Evans

If you have any doubts about how difficult it is to sing jazz, just compare how many people attempt it with how many do it well. Even among the latter, Steve Evans stands out, for a couple reasons. For one, he approaches the job as a musician, rather than as an actor using melodies; he […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Past Lives

Renee Stout at DePaul University Art Gallery, through May 18 Emily Counts: Halfway Home at Bucket Rider, through May 18 Renee Stout and Emily Counts both convey a sense of unease, partly because of their work’s disturbing content, but mostly because the environments they create blur the boundaries between art and life. Some of Stout’s […]