Posted inArts & Culture

Balm in Gilead

Balm in Gilead, Hypocrites, at the Chopin Theatre. Lanford Wilson’s breakthrough play about junkies, hookers, trannies, and small-time hoods is nearly 40 years old. And as with John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, time has dulled its once-shocking evocation of life on society’s margins. Yet the piece–which sealed Steppenwolf’s reputation as the best ensemble in […]

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Kid Dakota

Darren Jackson reminds me of just about every white boy with an untucked shirt and a lackadaisical approach to guitar tuning who slacked his way through the 90s, but he also does a damn good job of hiding his influences. On Kid Dakota’s So Pretty (Chairkickers, 2002) the downcast Minneapolitan and his bandmate, Christopher McGuire, […]

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Once Upon a Time in the Midlands

This down-to-earth comedy by UK indie filmmaker Shane Meadows (TwentyFourSeven) often seems like a Mike Leigh movie viewed in a fun-house mirror: his modest working-class characters are so genuine that he can get away with having one of them, a two-bit hood played by Robert Carlyle, take part in a botched carjacking against a trio […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

Now that the “Chicago school miracle” bandwagon has moved on…Some pedestrian facts from the education committee of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, from the July report “Left Behind: Student Achievement in Chicago’s Public Schools”: “Today, in Chicago’s public high schools, only 36% of 11th graders meet or exceed state reading standards. […]

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Living in the Moment

Peter Drake at Linda Warren, through November 8 Chris Patch at Monique Meloche, through October 18 Lee Tracy at Oskar Friedl, through October 4 The four passengers on a roller coaster in Peter Drake’s painting During convey the essence of speed and excitement. A little girl in front has her mouth open; the woman behind […]

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DanceLoop Chicago

Though DanceLoop Chicago is offering its first full-length concert in the city this weekend, its artistic directors have been around the block. Paula Frasz performed with the Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble, which disbanded in 1992, and with Mordine & Company Dance Theatre for eight years before setting out on her own. She received a Ruth […]

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Datebook

SEPTEMBER 19 FRIDAY “We experimented a long time before we found the kind of plays the people wanted, and when we found them, they were the best and truest plays, dramas of life, strong, sympathetic, and very real,” Jane Addams told an audience at a 1902 conference. The local reformer was referring to the performances […]

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Dr. Sex

Dr. Sex, Bailiwick Repertory. Though Alfred Kinsey, father of sexology, has been attacked over the years by conservatives and religious fanatics for his midcentury studies of American sexual practices, that fact comes up only once in this new musical, workshopped at the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theater Workshop. Otherwise this fantasy biography sashays through Kinsey’s real and […]

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The Straight Dope

A recent article on the Straight Dope Web site says that in a famous 1886 case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are “persons” having the same rights as human beings based on the 14th Amendment, which was intended to protect the rights of former slaves. Not to nitpick, but the Supreme Court made […]

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Stevie

Stevie, 1900 Productions, at Crossroads Theater. The life of poet Florence Margaret “Stevie” Smith offers little in the way of gossip. She never married, pursued no torrid love affairs, and held a secretarial job until she quit to care for the aunt who’d raised her. She acquired her nickname when chums mockingly compared her equestrianship […]

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Feast of Fools

Like Bill Irwin, his clowning cohort with San Francisco’s famed Pickle Family Circus, Geoff Hoyle has enjoyed success on Broadway (as the original Zazu the Hornbill in The Lion King) and in big-top behemoths like Cirque du Soleil. But where Irwin’s approach to clowning has struck me as overly cool, self-referential, and cerebral, Hoyle at […]