Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review of Babes with Blades' Witch Slap!

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Witch Slap. It was by Jeff Goode and it was directed by Delia Ford. It was about a Crone (Kimberly Logan) who has an apprentice named Novella (Loren Jones) and she's trying to teach her, but then she finds out about the witch trials and then she really freaks out. Then she calls a meeting of all the witches and there is a fortune teller named Jezebella (Alison Dornheggen) and a vampire-esque witch named Minerva (Stefanie Johnsen). And then three people without magical powers show up named Sylvia (Patti Moore), Goody Blunt (Morgan Manasa), and Window Gumdrops (Jennifer L. Mickelson). I can't tell you what the Crone really wants because that would give away the entire plot. This play is about relationships, how you can love someone but then suddenly hate them, leadership, and power, but they still make it a funny show.

Jezebella was my favorite character. She was a really funny character because when you think of witch you don't exactly think of fortune-teller, but they made it work. I liked how she had a different relationship with each of the witches. She kind of didn't like the Crone and she thought Novella was a crybaby and she didn't like being bossed around by Minerva because they had been teacher and student and one night they kind of started to like each other. She is a big part of the story. I didn't understand all of her decisions, but most of them. She didn't really want to be there because she didn't like any of the people there. And she didn't want to be abducted by the Crone. She just wants to go back and not be killed and she wants her house to be safe.

The fighting (violence design by Maureen Yasko) was really cool and fun because it wasn't too cheesy. But it also still showed that they were witches having a fight because they mostly used magical powers. I liked the sword-fighting with the brooms and how they kind of tried to overpower each other with the other person's broom. I really liked it how they went up on the ceiling some of the time and used it like monkey bars. I did feel like the gun was overused because it was there all the time and you knew that was what Goody Gumdrops would use. I think that Babes with Blades always has great fighting!

I thought it was cool how they made it seem like magic was really happening, like when they got down the bottles and they would zap them down. I also liked it how the cat looked like it was jumping down even though it was obviously stuffed; that made it really funny. I also liked it how they toyed with the idea of the witch making a brew but then it was just minestrone or stew or stuff like that.

I liked it how one of the characters turns into a zombie and so she's just kind of talking nonsense a lot of the time. It was also how she moved. She moved exactly like a zombie. Before she was very serious and never seemed like she would have a good time, but then she is almost always smiling when she's a Zombie. Her eyes look very bloodshot and very wide. I thought that was really funny because she also has blood dripping from her mouth and she walks around like a zombie and is going really slow all the time, but she is always very enthusiastic about everything when she's a zombie. That's funny because when you think of the word enthusiastic you don't think of a zombie; you think of a four-year-old kid or something. She portrayed the role of the zombie perfectly.

People who would like this show are people who like magic, craziness, and zombies. I think people will have fun at this show. My whole family went and we all had a good time. I'm really looking forward to the next Babes with Blades show.

Photos: Steven Townshend

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review of Coraline by Black Button Eyes Productions at City Lit Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Coraline. It was by Stephin Merritt and David Greenspan and it was based on the book by Neil Gaiman. It was directed by Ed Rutherford and musical direction was by Nick Sula. It was about a girl named Coraline (Sheridan Singleton) who moved to a new place which was a big house that had been separated into flats and she finds a door where there's usually a brick wall, but one time, when she opens it, it is not a brick wall. I liked how the brick wall was just a picture of bricks on an easel (set design by Ryan Emens). Then she goes inside and sees her other mother (Ryan Lanning) and her other father (Justin Kimrey). They are basically her mother and father only they have buttons for eyes. And her parents (Jennifer T. Grubb and Kimrey) get stolen and she has to rescue them. It is about love, exploring, and lying. I loved this show. I thought it was a great adaptation and I want to go see it again with my friend and my dad.

Miss Spink (Caitlin Jackson) and Miss Forcible (Kevin Bishop) are awesome characters on both sides (the other side and the real world) which I really like. And I also think that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible are kind of the heroes of the story with Coraline because they give her the stone. I really liked their song that they sang when they were the Other Miss Spink and the Other Miss Forcible. I remember the line about "burst out in sequined dresses" from the book, and that exact thing happened here. I really liked all the little scottie dogs and I liked how they all had Scottish accents. And I liked how Miss Spink and Miss Forcible just burst out in Shakespearean quotes and then would throw a knife at someone's head. And they had so many non-sequiters and it just made that scene fuh-larious. And the dogs are all sitting in the seats around you and they are talking to Coraline and they are talking about chocolate and Coraline doesn't like the coconut ones. I personally like the coconut ones, but I liked it that Coraline didn't like them because I remembered from the book that she didn't like them.

I thought the crazy man upstairs, Mr. Bobo (Jeff Bouthiette), was a great character. I really liked how his little mouse box that he had turned into a drum at the end (props by Rocky Kolecke). When Mr. Bobo finally got Coraline's name right he seemed completed unfazed by that, like he had known it all along. I liked his performance as the ghost child too. I was kind of surprised that he was good at it because Mr. Bobo was a crazy old man and the ghost child was a little girl. I loved the heads for the ghost children (Bishop, Bouthiette, and Grubb) because they were creepy but cool at the same time. They were baby-doll heads that glowed.

The Cat (Kevin Webb) and Coraline are two characters that are different from the rest because there is only one of them and everyone else, who is not a ghost, there are two of them. The other characters have an "other." I really liked the Cat's song where at certain moments he would just stomp his foot on the piano keys. So it would be kind of beautiful and then wooomph! I liked how the music was live because if it weren't, this scene wouldn't be possible, and it was one of my favorite scenes. I also liked how the Cat was one of the most hilarious characters because he is a cat and he is basically the smartest person. Coraline is also very smart, like the Cat, but she has more flaws than the Cat because she got angry at her parents all the time for not doing the right things even though they were trying. But Coraline is the hero because she saves her parents even though she is scared and she learned that she shouldn't be angry at her parents because they can't spend all their time with her because they have to work and make a living. They still love her even if they can't spend a full day with her. All heroes have to learn something, because if a hero was completely flawless, there would be no story. I think Sheridan portrayed the role beautifully and I want to see her in many other plays!

I thought that the Other Mother and Other Father were scary, but the Other Father was kind of lovable because he doesn't ever want to hurt Coraline. He tries his best, but in the end Coraline has to hurt him because he is a threat to her. I thought that the costume (by Beth Laske-Miller) that the Other Father wore was very scary. It was basically like a Creature from the Black Lagoon, except he was all white and he looked like wax melting. It was super creepy. But I loved it! But the Other Mother makes him melt, so you hate her. But you love hating her so you love that character. I thought it was cool how the Other Mother was played by a man. That is a really good choice because the character is supposed to make you think, "something is off here, but she seems nice enough." But then of course, she's not. Coraline liked the Other Mother at first until she finds out what she actually does. I thought that the Other Mother was a very creepy character and I'm super glad that they portrayed her right and I think she was perfectly scary.

People who would like this show are people who like creepy glowing baby-doll heads, chocolate, and cats. I think that people should definitely definitely definitely go see this show. I loved it so much! I think it is a great adaptation; it is even better than the movie. This show I think is good for younger kids that are very brave and that are with their parents. And this is also great for adults and tweens and teenagers too.

Photos: Cole Simon

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review of Urinetown: The Musical at Awkward Pause Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Urinetown. The book was by Greg Kotis and the music was by Mark Hollmann and both of them wrote the lyrics. It was directed by Elana Boulos. It was about a guy named Bobby Strong (Brandon Ruiter) who was in love with a girl name Hope Cladwell (Kelly Krauter). But Hope's dad (Joshua R. Bartlett) was a really rich man and Bobby was a poor man who worked with toilets. But they were still trying to find ways they could see each other. It is also about toilets: how the toilet system works and the philosophy of them. And it is also about how poor people can do big things, like start a revolution. And how always the rich people are better off and how the poor people have to struggle on no matter what. They must get their toilet rights even if one of their most loved people in the world dies. This is like some musicals because there are a lot of musicals about people and how they have to claim their rights, like Les Miz, but it doesn't usually involve toilets. It is different because it does't have a happy ending, not even the slightest bit of gleaming hope. But this is still a funny musical, even without a happy ending. I really loved this show and it closes in a day so you better go and see it now!

I thought that Little Sally (Hillary Horvath) and Officer Lockstock (Michael Hamilton) and Officer Barrel (Tanner Munson) were super funny. I thought that it was funny when Officer Barrel said to Officer Lockstock, "I love you" and they just kind of stared at each other for a minute and then Officer Lockstock nodded and walked away and officer Barrel said, "I think that went pretty well" with a happy smile on his face. I thought it was cool how Officer Lockstock was also the narrator. And Little Sally who lived in the town kind of helped narrate in a cute way. Like they kind of controlled the story. One of my favorite lines was along the lines of: "When a little girl has been given as many lines as I have, anything can happen" and she charges back into the rebellion scene. It is funny because she is like 7 years old and in a rebellion. I thought this woman did a good job of acting like a kid. This part is making fun of musical theater kids, but she doesn't overdo it, so that made me like her performance a lot.

Miss Pennywise (Neala Barron) was a great character because she was tough, smart, strong, sometimes evil and sometimes good. My favorite character elements are these things. I liked the scene where all the people are in line to use the bathroom but they have to pay money, but Bobby Strong's dad doesn't have enough money, but then Miss Pennywise sings this awesome scatological ballad about how you have to pay to pee. I thought that the scene where Miss Pennywise and Mr. Cladwell look each other in the eye and have this little minute dance sequence where they have this kind of romantic ball dance and then they snap back into the scene and they are still looking into each other's eyes and then the secretary Mr. McQueen (Luke Michael Grimes) interrupts and they are like, "Huh?" I thought Mr. McQueen was super funny in his role; I loved how he was standing in fifth position with his arms like he was about to recite a poem. He worked for the bad guy but he was actually one of the funniest characters.

The message about love was very hilariously dumb. I thought that they actually loved each other, but it was kind of unbelievable because of how it started. They listened…to…each others…hearts. (I was singing that.) I find this love totally unnatural. It is kind of like Cinderella. They meet each other, the boy thinks the girl is pretty, they sing, they kiss, and they want to get married. The writer is making fun of how all the musicals work, how the songs are made, and "that's romance for you!" but it's not. It is not at all like that. Well I don't know anything about romance. But I know what romance should be more like. You have to get to know each other first.

It was fun that a lot of musicals I've seen or heard of, like Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, and Anything Goes were referenced in it. I find that kind of pleasing because you are watching a new play and you think, "I recognize that dance move" or "That song sounds familiar." The Fiddler on the Roof was kind of like in "Tradition" when they put their hands up next to their ears and made their arms stiff. And then "Run, Freedom, Run" was kind of like "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" from Anything Goes. I'm not saying I don't like those musicals or those songs. (I just listened to "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and it is still in my head.) But I liked having them in there because you think, "I recognize what song that is based on. That's awesome."

People who would like this show are people who like referencing musicals, scatological humor, and peeing for free. I think that people should definitely go see this show but there is only one performance left. So go go go and see this show now!

Photos: Brian Jarreau

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review of Nothing Without a Company's Alice in Lincoln Park

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Alice. It was directed by Anna Rose Ii-Epstein and adapted by Michael Monteiro Wise from the book by Lewis Carroll. It was about a young woman named Alice (Taylor Dariarow) who had just moved to Chicago and was just getting to know the city. And then all the creatures in Wonderland are people who live in Chicago. I thought that this show was a blast to be at. It was just so engaging and everything worked so well with the setting in a park. You walk around throughout the park and I like how they are not trying to cover up that you are in Chicago; they want you to see this place as Chicago. You actually felt like you were moving through Wonderland in Chicago. Everything about it just made me happy.

I thought that the White Rabbit (Peter Ash) was a great character to have because he was not a rabbit, really, he was more of a, well, boy. And Alice liked that boy even though he was kind of a jerk. He was dating so many girls at the same time that he didn't even remember Alice's name. He called her Mary Ann. I liked how that happens in the book too when he thinks she's his servant. I also really thought it was funny how the white rabbit had a little tiny tiny pink house and then when Alice grew she just stuck her feet and her arms out the window. When she walks over, Alice is a barbie doll, but then when she grows she just sticks her hand and feet out of the little windows.

The Caterpillar (Alexandra Miller) was a big puppet (designed by Jimmy Jagos). She was a very very big puppet and she was made out of almost everyone in the cast. I thought that was a very funny scene because I really liked it when the Caterpillar said "Wait" in this really valley-girl-like tone and she says it when Alice is so far away that she can barely hear and then Alice turns around and has to slosh all the way back. There were other cool puppets too. I really liked when you are walking at the very beginning there are these birds going wai-an! wai-an! And as you are passing they have all these ridiculous birds, like a pink flamingo getting tossed about in a floppity way and a black and white fuzzy eaglet (Rayme Silverberg), a yellow duck (Miller), and an exotic dodo (Harris Cabrera). They also have speaking parts as they do the caucus race. I liked the caucus race because everybody including the audience got to play in the caucus race.

I liked how the Cheshire Cat (Ivori Skye) had her hair (by William James Reinke) in a way that made it look like cat ears. I thought it was cool how the Cheshire Cat made it through the bushes and you could find its head poking through the bushes while the Mock Turtle (Miller) was talking. I liked how they chose to make the Cheshire Cat female, because they never make it female. I liked how she was cheeky, but she's still nice and helps Alice along the way.

The Mad Hatter's tea party was set under a clump of trees and bushes with a highway running in the back. Good thing the highway wasn't noisy. I liked how the Mad Hatter (Derek Rienzi Van Tassel) and March Hare (Justin Vidovic) were in love but kind of drunk. They were drunk in love. They really seemed to like drinking tea--I think there might have been some alcohol in it! I liked their relationship even though they were kind of drunk because I have never seen a performance where they made the Mad Hatter and March Hare in love. I liked how the Mad Hatter was the boss and everything and everyone listened to him; that was really funny. And I liked how the March Hare called him "Hattie." It showed that the March Hare liked to be his loyal subject and even had a loving nickname for him. I liked the Dormouse (Elizabeth MacDonell) because it was such a funny character to see this puppet go to sleep and be woken up and asked to tell stories and stuff like that. And the Dormouse kind of hiccuped sometimes and that was funny.

The Queen of Hearts (Emily Duke) is a hilarious character. I also liked all the expressions that she did to make this character; she wasn't embarrassed to be acting so weird. The King of Hearts (Evan Sierminski) is always supposed to be afraid somewhat of his own wife and I think he did a great job. I liked his reaction to the queen interrupting him when he was too slow or too nice about something. His reaction was he kind of jumped back and his eyes got bigger. It was very funny. And then he went back to being very very calm. I really liked how the cards (Amy Gorelow) were all played by one person. I thought that was really funny, how they kept narrating spy-style for themselves.

I really liked the costumes (designed by Ryan Tang). Like I really liked the Red Queen's outfit. It was very poofy and very silly, but I really liked it. The poofy stuff reminded me of a Queen Elizabeth ruff. I also really liked the fish's (MacDonell) and frog's (Paige Reilly) outfits. I thought that they looked like prom outfits. I thought those two actresses moved very well in those costumes to make them look like a frog and a fish. They didn't really look like a frog and a fish, but they represented a frog and a fish.

People who would like this show are people who like little pink houses, mad love, and cute rabbit boys. People should definitely go and see this show because it is funny, stretches out your legs, and you'll have a blast. When people go and see this show bring a blanket and a water bottle. This is a really fun and funny show and I think everyone should go and see it!

Photos: Jennifer Sampson

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review of Emerald City Theatre's Charlotte's Web at the Broadway Playhouse

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Charlotte's Web. It was based on the book by E. B. White, adapted by Joseph Robinette, and it was directed by Ernie Nolan. It was about a runt named Wilbur (Liam Dahlborn) who was a very smart pig, well he was smarter than most pigs. He could talk to a spider and he could spell some. Because he is a runt, the man who owns him (Jeremy Pfaff) wants to kill him because he won't grow up to be a prize-winning pig or a pig they are able to sell. But then his daughter Fern (Avery Moss) says that she will take care of him and feed him. Then they can't take care of him anymore so they asks Fern's Uncle Homer (Casey Morris) to take care of him. The problem in the play is that Fern's Uncle Homer might want to turn him into bacon, but then Wilbur makes friends with a spider named Charlotte (Tosha Fowler), and he thinks "everything's going his way." Like in Oklahoma. It is about friendship, hope, how words can save somebody's life, and the rights of pigs. This is a very pig-triotic play.

I think I would have had a lot more fun at this show if not for the people sitting behind us. The problem was that the people sitting behind us did not really know how to control their children. I wouldn't object to kids talking about the show, if their parents reminded them to whisper. And it's adorable when they say something out loud about the show like "Go, Charlotte!" or "I love you, Wilbur." But these kids were doing physical things like throwing their blanket-with-a-head two rows in front of them and then not being sorry when the person picked it up and handed it back to them. They were also kicking my seat like crazy! When you take your kid to the theater, advise them before about how they are not allowed to yell or throw or play during the show. It disturbs everyone around them! And tell them to whisper to you if they want to leave, or have a question, or need to go to the bathroom. Adults need to do this too, but I think adults will remember the rules more.

I think that Charlotte is a great character. I liked her in the book and I liked her in this. I thought this actress did a great job at kind of being the leader of all the farm animals. Even though she might be the smallest, she was the most trustworthy. She is kind of like a smartypants, but she is a good kind of smartypants. She likes to make friends and she doesn't think everybody doesn't deserve to be friends with her because they are dumber than her. I also really liked the part at the beginning of the book and the play when she says "Salutations!" but I wish that, like in the book, the script had made her say that more. I also really liked how Charlotte was a spider-woman more than a spider; I liked that because it made it seem different from the book. I usually don't like that, but this made a good change. I think that she was not over-the-top because she always seemed like the character, but she also was never under what she should be because Charlotte is a really calm character.

Templeton (Erik Strebig) I thought was a very funny character. I like how they brought the 50s kind of into his costume (by Alarie Hammock) like how he had the Mickey Mouse hat. I thought that was pretty funny. Templeton kind of moved like the rat in the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, only he was less evil. It was similar because when he moved he would snap his fingers, but he didn't do the "ahhh" sound. When he came back from the fair the next morning, he had been eating all night and all day, and he kind of seemed like he was drunk, but on food and soda pop. I also liked it when Templeton came back from getting the final word; he sang this little song about how "It's a rat's paradise!" and he had a big lollipop that he did a dance with. I thought it was hilarious.

I really liked the scene where the mother and daughter at the fair (Laura A. Harrison and Lily Dahlborn) went over and looked at Wilbur and said, how cute that little pig was and how he might be the prizewinner. But then Uncle (Jay Mast), who is a pig wearing a leather jacket and sucking on a toothpick, comes over and is like making really weird movements at the girl and her mother, like twirling his fingers and pointing them like guns and clicking. And then the mother is kind of like, "Come on dear, let's go." I thought it was funny because of the way she registered what the pig was doing, but what he was doing was also very funny.

People who would like this show are people who like pigs in leather jackets, mickey mouse hats, and pig-triotic shows. People will enjoy this show because it is funny, bittersweet, and the costumes are great. If I were Charlotte the word that I would put on my web for this show would be "Some Play"!

Photos: Tom McGrath

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review of Seussical the Musical at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Seussical the Musical. It was directed by Scott Weinstein, musical direction by Michael Mahler, and the music was by Stephen Flaherty and the lyrics were by Lynn Ahrens. It was about a Girl (Emily Chang) who found this hat and then she picked it up and an entire orchestra started. And then this Cat in the Hat (Alex Goodrich) came up to her and told her about her imagination and what they can do about it--in a good way. Then he tells her the story of Horton (George Andrew Wolff), Gertrude McFuzz (Lillian Castillo), and Mayzie La Bird (Cory Goodrich) and the Whos (Ericka Mac, Aaron Holland, and Chang). I really liked how they were all put together in one story. The relationships between the characters were different because they were not in the same context as in the original stories, but they still worked really well. They changed it, but not in the way where they added new characters, which I don't like, but in the way where they put different characters from different stories together. Like Shrek or Into the Woods. Seeing this show brought back funny and good memories because it was the first show I saw at Chicago Shakespeare when I was only 2 years old. Back then, I didn't really like the slow songs, so I left quietly after tapping my mom very politely after "All for You" because two slow songs in a row were not exactly my piece of cake. But now I like slow songs much better, and I loved this show because I really love the Dr. Seuss stories and I had so much fun seeing this show again!

I really liked the song "Oh the Thinks You Can Think" because I still remember the tune to it and I still remember the lyrics. It was very catchy. This song is about everything you can think of and how you should love your imagination. Don't think of it as a burden; think of it as something to be proud of. I liked how it was performed because it introduced you to all the characters. I think it is a great opening because it is kind of like the Girl is thinking of the Cat in the Hat and all these different characters and Dr. Seuss and all the thinks that she can think. That is really cool because when you see these people you know who they are because most people have read the Dr. Seuss books, so you are like, "There's Horton; there's the Cat in the Hat; there's Gertrude McFuzz." I thought the actress who played Jojo and the Girl did a great job. She was very expressive (but she wasn't too too happy all the time) and I like that in an actress.

I thought it was funny how the Cat in Hat had a bunch of different outfits (costume design by Theresa Ham) instead of like one "Cat in the Hat" outfit. And he played different characters as the Cat in the Hat, like a doctor, a policeman, the Grinch, and Ira Glass. You are probably wondering why Ira Glass is in here since he is not a Dr. Seuss character. Just see it. I thought that Alex Goodrich did a great job at seeming very alive in this performance. He kind of seemed crazy, like the Cat in the Hat, but like the Cat in the Hat he was still lovable. He was not scary. When he was Ira Glass I thought that was hilarious, especially when he said, "Reporting from the Jungle of Nool." I also really liked it when he was the Louis Armstrong singer who was Mayzie's steaming hot bird boyfriend. He was like Louis Wingstrong. He had a hat and sunglasses and he sang "How Lucky You Are" in a Louis Armstrong kind of voice. I just can't believe how funny that was. I liked how they showed the band (Alan Bukowiecki, Jo Ann Daugherty, John Kornegay, Mike Pinto, Ethan Deppe, and Sean McNeely) to make it seem more like a night club. It was fun to have the band on stage because they could basically move around the band. You could see them and then you didn't if the time was not right to see them.

"Biggest Blame Fool" was a great song because it was very very catchy: I still have the line "talkin' to a speck, talkin' to a speck, to a speck" stuck in my head. I thought it was great how the Wickersham Brothers (Holland, Liam Quealy, and Joseph Sammour) were basically putting on a stunt show with their scooter and skateboard and roller-skates during this song; it made it more exciting and made it seem like they were trying to impress Mayzie. That was part of the dancing (choreography by Tommy Rapley) and I thought all of the dancing was very exciting but never was it uncalled-for. It didn't seem like they would just break into song and dance for no reason; it seemed like they were having a conversation with dance and singing. I thought the Sour Kangaroo (Lisa Estridge) was amazing. She was very sassy and she also was an amazing singer. You are not really supposed to like the Sour Kangaroo but you can like the way the actress acted out this character. I also liked her little kangaroo in her exercise pouch. The little kangaroo was a puppet (designed by Lolly Extract and Amber Marsh).

I thought that all of the birds were great characters. I liked how the Bird Girls (Mac, Allison Sill, and Krystal Worrell) were basically the backup singers of Mayzie. I thought that Mayzie was a very very expressive character. I liked how she was the most popular bird in all the Jungle of Nool. You wouldn't really want to be friends with her because she would ask you to sit on some boyfriend of her's egg. But you still like that character because she was a funny character. I thought that Getrude was basically the opposite of Mayzie because she was not the glamorous bird. She was more like a humble little bird who like-liked an elephant who everyone thought was insane, so everyone thought that she was crazy. But Horton would never notice her, so she had some troubles. I feel like it is neither of their faults. Horton has something going on and Gertrude just wants some company because nobody pays attention to her. You really want them to get together throughout the entire show and then…well you will just have to see the show!

People who would like this show are people who like Dr. Seuss, Louis Armstrong Birds, and This American Life. I think that people should definitely go and see this show because it is funny, the acting is expressive, and the singing is great. I really liked this show and I think it is great to bring some of Dr. Seuss's greatest idea into one big show!

Photos: Michael Brosilow