Posted inArts & Culture

King Kong

It clocks in at over three hours, but Peter Jackson’s remake of the 1933 classic is gripping. For starters it’s visually compelling, with its lush sets depicting Skull Island and period Manhattan. Jackson rethinks the characters, turning the original’s stark Jungian fantasy into a soulless but skillful set of kinetic and emotional effects. Carl Denham […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

A recent move has brought me to a comfy apartment building in friendly Medford, Massachusetts, complete with washer and dryer hookup. However, while having such a hookup is helpful, it’s much more practical to have a working hookup, which alas I do not (dirty scamming realtors are to blame). So I’m left with a dilemma: […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Magic Flute

The Lyric’s current production of The Magic Flute is truly magical–the singing, the playing, the sets, the costumes, the dancing wild animals. This often confusing mix of fairy tale, vaudeville, and Freemasonry lesson is probably Mozart’s most famous work, written at the same time as the Requiem and finished just two months before he died. […]

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Project Unreality

Regarding “Get Real,” December 9: Teenagers are going to have sex. Not all of them, and not all starting at the same age–but this most basic of human compulsions is not going to be denied. Telling teenagers they shouldn’t have sex until they’re married, while simultaneously teaching them practically nothing but gross distortions about how […]

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Hairspray

Gleefully juvenile and flippant, Hairspray seems perfect for high school kids, who also make up most of its characters. But despite all the attention paid to appearance–especially the towering bouffants that require so much of the title product–it’s far from superficial. Set in 1962 Baltimore, Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan’s musical adaptation of John Waters’s […]

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Oliver!

You’d think that Lionel Bart’s effervescent musical version of Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens’s tale of redemption, would be especially amiable holiday fare, featuring such beloved songs as “Consider Yourself” and “Food, Glorious Food.” But much of the first act of this lackluster production drags: under David H. Bell’s direction the well-choreographed musical numbers are sprightly, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

If I Were Editor

I’ve lived in Chicagoland for about 15 years, and used to enjoy the entire Reader every week. Now I read a few features regularly and throw the rest away. I understand that circulation on the whole is way down, so I know I’m not the only one. A simple analysis makes it obvious what the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Hipmas Carol

Writer-performers Tyler Bohne and Patrick Zielinski evoke the spirit of comedian, poet, and inspired madman Lord Buckley in this hipster retelling of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. The show is entertaining enough, thanks in large part to these seasoned improvisers’ charm as performers. But it has little of Buckley’s subversive wit: instead of using Dickens’s […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Story In November, as Canadian protesters bemoaned what they said were the effects of global warming on outdoor hockey, the Associated Press reported on a form of the sport seemingly immune to climate change: underwater hockey. Teams of six players–each outfitted with snorkel, mask, fins, and a short wooden stick–hit a plastic-coated lead puck […]

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The SantaLand Diaries

Splitting up David Sedaris’s monologue among ensemble members is a pretty bad idea: the writer’s voice gives the piece what unity it’s got. Stranding the haphazardly lit actors behind podiums is a worse one, especially when the material is this prosaic. But the engaging Janus Theatre cast all find at least a few comic moments […]