Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review of Dirty Dancing (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Dirty Dancing. It was by Eleanor Bergstein and it was choreographed by Michele Lynch and the original choreography was by Kate Champion. It was directed by James Powell. It was about this girl whose name was Frances (Gillian Abbott) but the people most of the time called her Baby. And she was on vacation with her family (Alex Scolari, Mark Elliot Wilson, and Margot White) and she was trying to help out this girl Penny (Jenny Winton) who had become pregnant. But Penny is the lead dancer at this place and she has always done the dances. So she says that Baby should do all the dances for her while she is having an abortion. And while Baby is doing that she falls in love with the male dancer she has been dancing with, Johnny Castle (Christopher Tierney). What happens is that the romance starts to blossom and it starts to turn more serious. But because Baby is pretty young, she is worried that her parents will get worried. So she tries to keep it away from her parents, but it doesn't work out too well. And she has to protect Johnny but is not completely able to protect both of them. I think this is a really fun and exciting play. I was captivated almost the entire time, and now I get a lot more references in American culture.

The resort that they stay at, I don't know why they stayed there. No, I do know they stayed there because it was their friend Max's (Gary Lynch) business. But he has some serious problems with how his servers treat the guests, especially the female ones. What the servers would do is that they would just go up and seduce all the teenage daughters that were there. But I feel like I would never want to stay in this resort if everybody was talking all sexy all the time. It would just make some people feel uncomfortable. And the thing is, is that a few lines after he says "This is a family place," he says "And show the daughters a good time--romance them any way you want." I find it so terrible but funny how the thing he is worried about is fingers in the soup and he is totally fine with them sleeping with the daughters.

The dancing was just amazing. It seems like they put so much work and effort into it and it looks so beautiful. My favorite dance was the Mambo. It was just so vibrant and fun to watch. Even though in the show Baby is not supposed to get everything perfect, it still looked amazing and it was amazing. There was a part when Johnny and Baby were starting a dance where it happened almost every time that he had to bring his hand down and stroke it down her cheek to her butt. But then the thing was that every time he got near her chest area, she would giggle because she was so uncomfortable. And I don't blame her. I would feel the exact same way!

I thought that the watermelon scene was hilarious because of how nervous Baby was when she first met Johnny. She just blurted out "I carried a watermelon!" which I thought was very very funny. And I also loved the size of those watermelons. If they entered a contest for biggest watermelon, they would probably win it. Another one of my favorite funny moments was when Johnny and Baby were trying to do the lifts in the water. And I found that so funny that I almost died. They would keep trying and falling every time and splash in the water. But they weren't actually falling in water, they were falling in projections, which was very very funny. I also really liked when Baby poured ice down Robbie's (Scott McCreary) pants. Robbie was the boyfriend of her sister and also a cheating jerk.

People who would like this show are people who like amazing dancing, crazy resorts, and watermelon. I think a lot of people will really like this show. I liked it a lot and I thought it was really fun and engaging.

Photos: Matthew Murphy

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review of Assassination Theater at The Museum of Broadcast Communications

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Assassination Theater. It was by Hillel Levin and it was directed by Kevin Christopher Fox. It was based on interviews with Zechariah Shelton. It was about the assassination of President Kennedy and it was about the investigation after that. They presented it to you as Hillel Levin (Michael Joseph Mitchell) and Zack Shelton (Mark Ulrich) telling you the story of their interviews that they had. And there are two other actors (Ryan Kitley and Martin Yurek) who play all the other people they interview. I really enjoyed this show. I thought it was very educational. It was like a documentary, but you got to see it in person. It seems like a new kind of theater and I really liked it.

This could have been not a play. It could have been a documentary or a lecture. They did put it into a play form, so they kind of tricked you. It was a play, but not just a regular play. It did have a plot and characters, but the thing was that basically all the characters, you only got to explore them for a little bit because they had to get in all the facts. Sometimes the facts were kind of hard to process for me because there were so many facts thrown at you at once. If you were watching a movie, you could pause it and go look things up. But most grown-ups might have been able to follow it better because they know more about it. I am proud to say that after watching this play, I might know more about the assassination of President Kennedy than most 11 year olds. I think this might have worked a little bit better as a movie, but it wasn't a bad play.

The projections (by Anthony Churchill) helped a lot with the story because they showed the connections between different people in the mob or who were friends with the president. I felt like they added a lot to the story because you could associate pictures with the names which helped a lot with understanding. And also with the projections you got to see the actual assassination happen, which was very very sad and very terrifying. I think it was good that they showed it, though, because then it gave you information so you could make your own hypotheses too. I think I agree with them that it was more than one person that shot him. I think the projections made you feel like you were actually in the story helping with the investigation.

I really think the actors bring a lot to the story because you got to see a portrayal of these people that were actually interviewed and that people actually think might have killed John F. Kennedy. I liked how the costume changes (costumes by Victoria Carot) were very subtle but you still saw that they were a different character. And that helped a lot to associate the name with the costumes with the pictures so you got the whole idea of that person. I thought that Jack Ruby's story was really amazing and interesting, and I would have liked to have seen a whole play about him. I also feel like Mitchell and Ulrich led the show really well and I liked their performances a lot. I thought it was really awesome that they had the person who wrote the show tell you the story even though he was not the actual person who wrote it, but instead an actor playing him. And it made you trust the information a lot more. And the same with the character of Zack Shelton; you believed him because he was the person who came up with the entire idea of the investigation.

People who would like this show are people who like informative projections, educational storytelling, and mysteries. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is different from most Chicago theater and I thought it was really informative and fun.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review of Babes with Blades' Patchwork Drifter

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Patchwork Drifter. It was by Jennifer L. Mickelson and directed by Leigh Barrett. It was about this family: Harriet (Delia Ford), the mother, and Martha (Eliza Rose Fichter)and Abigail (Zoe Shiman) who are her daughters. They live in Wyoming and an unexpected visitor comes to the door. Her name is Emmy (Meredith Rae Lyons) and she comes and they hire her to help them out with their sewing and work. But unfortunately Harriet, their mother, has some secrets. And one of those secrets comes knocking at her door and is not very "cooperative." And over time all the secrets of the other characters come out too. This show is about family, acceptance, and secrets.

I think that Emmy is a really great character and one of the reasons she is so great is that she has a really amazing backstory that is discovered over time. And as you see the characters around her catching on to her secrets, it just gets more and more suspenseful. I think it is great that Babes with Blades did this show because it is such an amazing female character. There are so many clues about who she really is that are fun to discover. You found her lovable even though she was very suspicious. When she was with the character Abigail, she was so good with her but you were still worried that she might try to hurt her. But then you also see that she is very calm and collected when Hannah (Elyse Dawson) starts insulting her when they are both in the same situation.

I feel like the fight scenes (by JK Choreography) were so crazy amazing. I always love their fights and I still loved them this time. There weren't as many as usual, but one of them would be good enough because it was still amazing. This isn't a really fight-y play. There is a fight or two but it is mostly about suspense. It was so suspenseful leading up to the big shootout, because you knew something was going to happen but you didn't know exactly when. So it was kind of like a jump scare. I liked the moment when they turned over the table and started shooting over it because it seemed like what somebody would actually do in a fight--turning it over because that would be good cover. But of course it isn't perfect cover because a table would still be able to be shot through, but it was the best they had. The circumstances are not at the best for these women, but they are still going to do their best with what they have...and try to kill each other!

Although there were some very good parts, there were also parts I felt like made a little less sense than they should have. I found the ending quite confusing. I felt like the next-to-last scene made more sense as an ending than the actual ending. I think with the actual ending they were trying to show that one of the characters got to be with the person that they loved, but the thing was that another character was now living with that character and in the scene before you thought they'd never see each other again. It just didn't make any sense for them to see each other again, and I felt like the story did not really explain what had happened. I also thought they didn't always use pauses in a good way. I think pauses are very useful on stage when a character has to process something or the audience has to process something that the audience didn't know could occur. Sometimes they would use pauses that way, but sometimes it would just be just to go and grab a kettle and I think sometimes the lines could have been said while the character was getting the kettle.

People who would like this show are people who like suspenseful gunfights, amazing female characters, and women trying their best to kill each other. I think people should go see this show. I felt like it was a pretty powerful story and I liked it.

Photos: Steve Townshend

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review of Silent Theatre Company's The Dueling Gentlemen

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Dueling Gentlemen. It was written and directed by Marvin Quijada. It was about these two men, The Drunk (Marcus Fittanto) & The Perfectionist (Quijada). I think it is so crazy that one man played so many different roles putting this show together, but he did an amazing job! The Drunk has been cast in this show with his friend The Perfectionist. It is called The Ugly Blonde and it is a play about these two men who are in love with the same ugly blonde person, but the thing is it is only done with two people, so they play all the parts. The ugly blonde is both of them, but they switch off. They do the show many many times, but then each one is different, and I also thought it was cool that every other scene takes place backstage in the dressing room. And what happens is that their friendship starts to go haywire because one of them is a perfectionist and the other one just doesn't like the help. I think that it is a pretty sad story because everything doesn't turn out the way that you want it to, but it was really funny at a lot of points. I really like that kind of combination, like a dark comedy, but I also like comedies where everything turns out. I thought this was a great show and I really really loved it.

I thought the way they did the show was very cool. The did it very differently from just a normal show; it was silent. There was piano accompaniment (played by Elliot Taggart, written by Ian Custer) and it made it even more like an actual silent movie. Music in a silent movie shows what the characters' moods are, and this did the same thing which I thought was really awesome. The title cards also helped you to understand the story better because they told you what they were saying. You didn't need the title cards all the time because the thing was that their expressions would tell most of the story. Like when The Perfectionist discovers something The Drunk has been hiding, you can see in his face that he is terrified. The wig helps them tell the story too because then it shows in the vaudeville show who is playing The Ugly Blonde. And I thought the way they could use the wig so that it could just be a hand inside of a blonde wig being the character was was super cool. I would have even loved just to see that show even without the drama "backstage!"

I thought a lot of the jokes were actually very very funny, even though they didn't use words all the time. One of my favorite funny parts when The Perfectionist was playing The Ugly Blonde and he would just over-exaggerate how scared she was of the gun battle. He was silent, which made it even more funny because he is silently screaming, and would do that for just a few seconds and then he would hop up and play another part. How funny he looked in the wig made it even funnier. Another funny thing was when The Drunk would walk in so sexily as The Ugly Blonde, but in one of the scenes he made it even more sexy than it usually was and it was just so hilarious. And it was even funnier because he had this big mustache which made it so so funny.

I thought it was kind of scary but it also really helped with the story how they got angrier and angrier each time they did the show. It was a funny show to start and then the first time they are angry they just kind of pout on stage and it is still funny but in a different way. Sometimes repetition can annoy me, but in this show it didn't because there were visible changes not just the same thing over and over. It is so different each time and it actually has to do with the plot. The way they change The Ugly Blonde shows you that their friendship is sort of decaying. I felt like this was a friendship show, but it wasn't a true-friendship-my-little-pony show. It is more like how friendships can end just by finding out some secrets and which is an actual truth about friendship. It is a sad truth, but it is actually true.

People who would like this show are people who like silent films, dark comedy, and sexy girls with mustaches. I think people should definitely go see this show. I really loved it and I thought it was a great idea for a theater company, the Silent Theatre Company, and I wish I had seen their shows sooner.

Photos: Krzys Piotrowski

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review of Cirque de Soleil's Kurios--Cabinet of Curiosities

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Kurios--Cabinet of Curiosities. It was written and directed by Michel Laprise. It was about a man who was a mad scientist (Anton Valen) and went to this other world where he met these three shape-based creatures. One of them (Ekaterina Pirogovskaya) had hula hoops of different sizes all around her body. One of them was basically an accordion (Nico Baixas) and one of them (Karl L'Ecuyer) had a little woman living inside his stomach. But it wasn't a fake little woman, it was actually a little woman (Antanina Satsura). It was the best circus I have ever been to. I really loved the show. I felt like it was amazing and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

I loved the straps act (Stuart McKenzie and Vitali Tomanov) it was really cool. I thought it was so amazing to see these people just flying above you. It looked painless; it looked like an everyday normal day at work for them. I don't think it is actually easy; I think it is actually hard, but they are so used to it. Another cool duo was the Russian Cradle, which was a man and a woman (Roman Tereshchenko and Olena Tereshchenko) and the woman would basically do a trapeze act from the man's arm. He was the human trapeze! She would do these amazing flips and just grab onto his hands again. Both of them have to have good strength with their arms and she also has to have very good trust skills with whoever is catching her.

I thought the Rola Bola act (James Eulises Gonzalez) was really scary and breathtaking. The rola bola are these tubes stacked on top of each other with a platform on the top. Then the person balances on the very very top. After that he rises up in the air on a platform and he does the rola bola up in the air and I just found it so crazy. I thought his aviator costume (designed by Philippe Guillotel) was really really cool. The jacket was see-through, and I liked that. I also really liked the aviator's helmet because it was a steampunk version, turquoise with bronze goggles. Another really fun solo act was one with this woman (Anne Weissbecker) who came in on this bike and was just biking around and then suddenly she flew up into the air. Then she would bike upside down and I thought that was really cool. And she used the bike like a trapeze and she would hang from her knees with her hands down. I thought the Yo-yos act (Tomonari "Black" Ishiguro) was really awesome. I thought when he was a kid he must have just practiced with his yo-yo a lot, never knowing that one day he would be performing in front of thousands of people! I liked when he did the yo-yos so fast that you couldn't even see them and then you could see his fingers just moving like crazy and the yo-yos kept bouncing up and down off his fingers.

The music (by Raphaƫl Beau and Bob & Bill) was amazing because it was like a Harold Lloyd movie or Triplets of Belleville with a twist of pop music. I'd like to have the soundtrack! Just a little side note: I thought it must have been very hard for the singer to sing basically all the time. I thought that she was great and I thought the band (Antoine Berthiaume, Christopher "Kit" Chatham, Lidia Kaminska, Paul Lazar, Michael Levin, Christa Mercey, and Marc Sohier) must have worked very hard too because they rarely got any breaks and they had to stay on their feet the entire time it seemed.

The contortion act (Ayagma Tsybenova, Lilia Zhambalova, and Bayarma Zodboeva) was crazy. When you saw them, you felt like your back was breaking! They made it look extra cool because of their costumes which looked kind of like lizards of some sort, so it looked like a bunch of lizards crawling on each other. They did these crazy tricks where they bent their leg all the way over to their heads and were still smiling!

Upside Down World (Andrii Bondarenko) was this terrifyingly awesome thing where there was a man stacking chairs on top of each other to get to the ceiling. About halfway through the same thing started happening on the ceiling with a person who basically looked the same as him. It was so cool because he was just being supported by chairs only and it is very very suspenseful. And the upside down person had to be hooked in so it might not have been as scary for him, but then he was also upside down!

I felt like both of the group acts were amazing. They had so many people doing so many awesome things. In the Baquine act (Nikolay Astashkin, Ekaterina Evdokimova, Roman Kenzhayev, Elena Kolesnikova, Sergey Kudryavtsev, Andrey Nikitin, Serguei Okhai, Dimitri Parmenov, Roman Polishchuk, Alexey Puzyryov, Alexey Starodubtsev, and Igor Strizhanov) there were these people dressed in hats with pompoms on top and they do these tricks where they are stacked on top of each other like 6 people high and they would jump over each other and land in the other person's arms. That was impressive because they had to have so much consistency so that they could land in the same place every time. And I thought what they did was so amazing and I admire that they can do something so brave. I thought the Acro Net act (Arnaud Caizergues, Victor Degtyarev, Nathan Dennis, Mathieu Hubener, Jack Helme, L'Ecuyer, and Ryan Shinji Murray) act was mind-blowing, how they could jump so high on a net. It looked like they were swimming and flying and diving at the same time. It would mess up the entire act if you jumped too early or jumped too late. They jumped right on time because that is what you have to do in an act like that. My favorite part was when they would put their hands down from the ladder that hung from the top of the tent and they would grab the person who jumped up as high as the ladder by the hand. The costumes were really great too. They looked like sea monkeys!

People who would like this show are people who like amazing circus acts, steampunk pop music, and jumping sea monkeys. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. I thought that it was so awesome because it actually tells a story instead of just doing the tricks. I loved it!

Photos: Martin Girard

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review of New American Folk Theatre's The Summer of Daisy Fay in Association with Redtwist Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Summer of Daisy Fay. It was by Ed Howard based on the novel Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg. It was directed by Anthony Whitaker. It was about this girl named Daisy Fay (Charlie Irving) who was kind of an outsider girl at the beginning, but by the end she had become a beauty pageant girl. It was about how she transformed over time from the awkward girl at the beginning to a very pretty and slightly famous girl at the end. But she was still kind of the same Daisy Fay. I thought that this was a great show, and I thought that the story was very funny and heartbreaking and beautiful.

You are basically having a story told to you by a character, so there is not a lot of physical action on the stage. Sometimes she would kind of act the things that were happening out, but then they still didn't have more than one actor to be in it. But it was not boring; I was very intrigued throughout the entire show because I was so invested in the character. Daisy Fay was a sweet but pretty awkward girl who was going to audition to be Miss Mississippi. And the first act is the more awkward side of her. When she says that she is auditioning to be Miss Mississippi, you are like, "Whoa. How is this going to turn out?" You kind of fall in love with her awkwardness at the beginning, but then in the second act you really get to see what you missed about her before, like how she wasn't actually dumb and how even though the character seemed like a bad actor in the first part, she had become a great comedian in the second. I feel like it is important in a character that you spend so much time with that you get to see them change. The second act is still her, but you are happy about the changes that have happened to her because you see she has helped herself out.

I felt like her entire description of the pageant was very very funny. I thought that her versions of all the girls who were in the pageant were hilarious. I especially loved the Sunbeam girl who was Daisy Fay's least favorite girl that was there. The thing that was funny was that she made her all prissy and princessy. And in the pageant she keeps having trouble with her batons and they keep slipping out of her hands and she can't do anything. It was funny because you felt like she deserved it and the way Daisy Fay showed you how she dropped her batons was very funny too. I liked when Daisy Fay did her comedy routine from the pageant. I thought it was very good and it actually made me laugh. She was pretending to be someone from a newspaper she read growing up and she wondered what it would be like if she had had her own radio show. She did an entire routine about the weddings that were going to happen, but all the weddings were kind of inappropriate. So that made her very awkward and she'd be like, "Ooo-kaaay. So let's move on."

There were also some very heartbreaking parts. Some of them are too much of a giveaway, but one of them was that her friend Pickle had been taken advantage of by her father. That made you feel so sad for Pickle because her reputation and her life had both been ruined. But the thing is you weren't expecting anything bad to happen to a girl called Pickle because when you hear a name like that you think she'll be the comic relief. Pickle is such a cute little name that when you hear it you don't want anything bad to happen to her. And when it does it is so depressing and sad. And also Daisy Fay's mother had died and that was really sad because you see she loved her very much and she had basically held Daisy together because her father was so terrible. It is good to have heartbreaking and funny parts in the same play because then you get a taste of both things and you get the comic relief so you aren't depressed the whole time. And if it had just been funny you wouldn't have gotten to feel any other emotions.

People who would like this show are people who like beauty pageants, bittersweet stories, and slippery batons. I think people should go see this show. It was good because it was very intriguing and I felt like I was there with the character the entire time.

Photos: Jamal Howard

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review of Haven Theatre's Last Train to Nibroc

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Last Train to Nibroc. It was by Arlene Hutton and it was directed by Jason Gerace. It was about this woman named May (Amanda Drinkall) who was going on a train back home and she meets this army man named Raleigh (Mike Tepeli) and they become very good friends on the train. But then over time a romance starts to blossom but she already has a boyfriend who is a preacher. But then they have dinner together and the romance starts to happen again. It is about jealousy, regret, and love. I really really loved this show. I thought it was great because it was comedic and also sometimes you wanted to cry.

Usually I just pick my favorite scenes to write about, but there were only three scenes and I liked them all! The first scene was when they met on the train and at first it seemed like May was concerned about Raleigh disturbing her and not being a nice person. I think you really see their relationship evolve over the show. You really want them to get together and that is what you want throughout the entire show. You start thinking they should be together because it is clear by the end of the scene that they are great friends. And you also see that Raleigh is kind of flirting with her a little bit. They seem to have so much fun together, they both love to read, and they have in common that they both have experienced loss of something they wanted. She has lost her boyfriend and he's lost his job as a soldier. But he decides to get a better job as a writer and I think she wants a better boyfriend.

In the second scene everything starts to go haywire. Their relationship starts to crack. She's dating someone else and she never showed up to the dinner that his parents prepared for them. She basically stopped the relationship by not showing up because she probably really embarrassed him. And we know that he hasn't gone to New York yet even though that's what he's wanted to do this entire time. This entire scene you are just feeling sad because you think, they were so perfect for each other--why are they so mad now? I felt like it was really sad when he kept saying "Do you love him?" and she didn't answer and it was very sad and very suspenseful because the thing is you think she might go with the preacher even though she doesn't love him.

In the last scene they seem like they are not enemies anymore and that seems good. But then something really funny happens. She is trying to show how her feelings for him are by saying "I just wanted to help you with your leprosy." But of course he doesn't have leprosy, he has epilepsy. Leprosy is way worse than epilepsy. With epilepsy you have fits, but with leprosy, like your toes and your nose falls off and terrible things like that. That shows you that she is kind of dim but also that she actually really loves him. I found that so funny and kind of touching that I just couldn't stop laughing. And you realize they have another thing in common, writing, because one of them has been writing letters to the other and one has been writing stories about the other. I feel like that is so sweet that they both have shown their affections even though they haven't been together that whole time. I think this one was my favorite scene in this play. I really did love this one.

I loved the set (by Joanna Iwanicka). I thought it was so beautiful. They had this beautiful backdrop that was a great background for every single moment in this show because the first time it looked more like train smoke because that is what you were expecting and then the next time it looked more like clouds, and then the time after that it looked more like a sunset. That was because of the lights (by Sarah Hughey). They just raised and lowered the panels that had the designs on them and I thought that was a really good use of not that much stuff.

People who would like this show are people who like amazing sets, comedic love stories, and trains. Nobody likes leprosy! I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is an amazing show and I loved it because it is a great story. And two great actors and a great story make an amazing show!

Photos: Austin D. Oie