Posted inArts & Culture

Schoolhouse Rock Live!

Hard to believe, but when this stage version of the kids’ educational TV series was first produced 12 years ago in Cafe Voltaire’s raggedy basement space, it seemed slightly parodic and subversive, in the same way The Real Live Brady Bunch did. But today, in a much tonier venue, Schoolhouse Rock Live! and its songs […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Bobby Leonhard’s new play about the Iraq war draws in part on his experiences there as a National Guardsman: the script’s harsh veracity is unquestionable. But his trio of soldiers riding a Humvee through hostile territory are frustratingly underdeveloped. As they fall apart–or tear one another apart–we wonder whether they’ve been made psychotic by the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Summer Storm

Since the flap over Time’s October 10 cover story, gay teenagers have supplanted gay marriage as the moment’s hot-button topic, so this sexy, bittersweet romance makes an apt opener for Reeling 2005: The 24th Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival. Set at a German sports camp (and packed with scenes of swimsuited young athletes […]

Posted inArts & Culture


David (Bryan Greenberg) is a 23-year-old Jewish painter and Rafi (Uma Thurman) a 37-year-old WASP divorcee, so when these New Yorkers become a couple, everyone’s a bit surprised. But no one’s more confused than Rafi’s therapist (Meryl Streep), who turns out to be David’s mother and whose progressive ideas don’t extend to her son. Writer-director […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The American Girls Revue

Gretchen Cryer’s book and lyrics deliver a host of positive messages to girls about patience, resilience, and responsibility. A rotating cast of kids, all stronger singers than actors, joins a few adults to reenact American Girl dolls’ stories. But halfway through, this 75-minute sales pitch is getting a bit tiresome. For one thing we have […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Amy Rigby

Amy Rigby writes great songs. You might think that’s a basic requirement for any singer-songwriter, but plenty of pro acoustic strummers skate by on pretty vocals or a talent for sustaining an enticing, relaxed mood. Rigby can’t afford such luxuries: she sings in a thin warble, and the mix of humor and pathos in her […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Live and Let Drive

Dear Reader readers, I agree with Andy Golding [Letters, October 21]. Let’s turn most of the on-street parking spaces into garden spaces and make Chicago into a town for poor persons who do not drive, and let’s definitely make this town a home for those very sophisticated types who, in their superior wisdom, deplore the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Three Sisters

Unlike Strawdog’s superior current production, Robert Tenges’s modern-dress adaptation is crude and unfocused, lacking any sense of time, place, or purpose. Taking the play’s theme of paralysis too far, it has a rootlessness that infects the lackluster performances. More like outtakes from a Friends episode than a Chekhov play, LiveWire Theater’s revival suffers from terrible […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Denise Nicholas

Denise Nicholas’s accomplished debut novel, Freshwater Road, out this fall from Evanston-based Agate Publishing, is set during the hot, turbulent Mississippi summer of 1964. Nineteen-year-old University of Michigan student Celeste Tyree heads south to work on the One Man, One Vote registration campaign and run a “freedom school”; her father, a Detroit bar owner and […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Gavin Geoffrey Dillard wrote this charming revue, a West Hollywood import, for dog lovers. There are songs about chasing one’s tail, singing to sirens, and whizzing on stuff, as six puppies in a pound sing perkily about their past lives as beloved pets, working dogs, and street tramps–and howl to be adopted. The cast, particularly […]