Monday, December 31, 2012

Ada Grey's Top 5 of 2012

These are my five favorite shows of 2012.

Arcadia (New Leaf Theatre)

People who would like the show are people that like poetry, math, and embracing meat.


Death and Harry Houdini (The House Theatre of Chicago)

People who would like this show are people who like magic, music, excitement, and mystery.


The Mikado (The Hypocrites)

People that would like this show are people that like balloons, comedy, and Pooh-Bahs that have many jobs.


War Horse (Broadway in Chicago)

People that would like this show are people that like horses, drama, and bawling your eyes out.


Pride and Prejudice (Lifeline Theatre)

People that would like this show are people that like Jane Austen, officers, and women in peacock-feather dresses trying to get in the way of lovers.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review of War Horse (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time, I went to a show and it was called War Horse. It is about a horse named Joey (Laurabeth Breya, Catherine Gowl, Nick Lamedica, Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, and Rob Laqui) who traveled to different masters and what kinds of lives he had at those different places. It is also about how war is terrible and lots of people died, and how you shouldn't use horses to carry people around in war because horses have feelings too. Albert (Andrew Veenstra) was a person who understood how an animal really was and how he needed to be treated. Joey and Albert's relationship was like they were relatives because people would tease Albert about how they were fighting for their moms, their dad, or their girlfriend, and he was fighting for his horse.

The horses I thought were amazing. When the foal came on stage I felt like I was going to faint. I really did; I thought, "That is soooo realistic!" The horses are of course not really horses or people in realistic horse suits. They are awesome and big puppets. They are made out of wire--so they are not exactly like you'd think a realistic horse would look; they don't have fur or spots like some horses do. It's the movement and the expression of who the horse really is that is so fantastic. All those puppeteers who played Joey and Topthorn (Jon Hoche, Danny Beiruti, and Aaron Haskell) were amazing and I think they did a fantastic job.

There was this really funny part where the mother Rose (Angela Reed) was reading a letter from her son Albert and he said, and my very handsome friend is writing this for me. But he didn't actually say that; the friend David (Alex More) put it in because he thought he was handsome. I think he was thinking that maybe someday he would make two copies of that letter and show it to his girlfriend. I liked David for two reasons. One, because he is funny and, two, because he is sort of smart. It makes me feel really sad that he died because he was like the comedy part of the war.

There were these two very touching parts with Mueller (Andrew May) and Emilie (Lavita Shaurice). Emilie was a little French girl that lived in a little farm house. Mueller was a German officer that didn't want to be a German officer anymore. He wanted to be somebody who wouldn't die because he had a daughter. So he disguises himself as somebody who carries people that are injured away. One of the touching parts was how Mueller had his own daughter and she looked so much like Emilie that it made him feel sad and want to go home to his daughter. And the second touching part was when she said, "Don't let anything happen to Joey or Topthorn." And something did happen to Topthorn, but Joey did get hurt be he didn't die.

Joey and Albert's relationship was very realistic, I thought, because it seemed like that actor knew how to take really good care of animals and how to understand them. My favorite scene that they were in together was where Albert was teaching Joey how to plow. I thought it was really touching to see how they both got to learn how to do this work, but they did it together. I thought that was very beautiful. Every time that Albert does that simple whistle to call Joey, I actually might burst into tears because at the very beginning of the play he makes up that whistle and then just as he whistles the horse comes over and nudges him. It makes me feel like the relationship will really last forever.

The comedy in the play was the Goose (Jon Hoche). Even though he didn't have a very big part, he was the funniest character ever. One of my favorite things that the Goose did was when Rose was leaving the room and she slammed the door behind her and the Goose was right in front of the door and then his wings just dropped straight down like I thought he was saying "Well, I'm not going to get in there." When the Goose put down his wings, the whole audience was in laughter. I thought the Goose puppet was also very realistic and awesome.

Rae Smith must have been really stressed after doing all that work on the sets, costumes and drawings. I suspect she just collapsed flat on her face into the bed when she was done. I liked that the set looked like a surrender banner that had been ripped and how the projections (by 59 Productions) worked perfectly on that screen. They could take you to a house, to a battlefield, or to a hospital, so it could really take you anywhere that you wanted. There was this great scene where two officers were riding on the horses. You could see the officers riding, but you could also see the British riding up on the screen. You could see both sides even though the stage wasn't long enough to show that.

People that would like this show are people that like horses, drama, and bawling your eyes out. If you are comfortable feeling sad, happy, and being amazed and feeling like you are going to faint, you would would be comfortable seeing this show whatever your age is--except for babies, who would cry when the guns shot. This show is awesome!

Photos: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review of The Plagiarists' The Feast of St. McGonagall

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Feast of Saint McGonagall. It was about a man (Jack Dugan Carpenter) who put together a feast to celebrate the life and death of this terrible poet McGonagall and also it was about McGonagall telling stories of his adventures to his friends and colleagues. McGonagall is a terrible poet because he doesn't really understand what poetry is. Poetry is expressing beautiful and terrible things happening and expressing them through rhyme and meter. He doesn't make anything that he does interesting. Poetry is supposed to make you have feelings, but his poems make me feel sorry for him that he didn't understand poetry the way he should. I think Jessica Wright Buha wrote the play about McGonagall because she wanted people to sympathize with him. And I did kind of sympathize with him.

I thought the story about McGonagall (Kristen T. King in this case) going to see the Queen (Amber Gerencher) and how he completely did not understand the letter that said the Queen does not want your poetry. He said, "The Queen wants my poetry. I am going to go there!" And after he got turned away by one of the Queen's doormen, he went over to this little farm and there was a man there (Ken Miller) and he told him all about the different poems. And I thought that was a very touching part, that showed McGonagall just wanted to share his poetry and he wanted it to be good but it wasn't. They made a little rock path out of chairs which I thought was an interesting idea.

I thought it was nice that they had a piano on stage because it was useful to the songs. "The Rattling Boy from Dublin Town" was a very bad song and I thought it was great that they made it so funny by acting it out. I thought it was funny that the girl who played McGonagall's wife (Sara Jean McCarthy) played the girl in the song. The song was about a rambunctious boy (Erika Haaland) from a town who wanted to marry a lady but there was another man (James Dunn) who loved her and she loved him better than the rambunctious boy. They used pool noodles for swords which I thought was really funny. The pool noodles idea was made by Christopher Walsh; he choreographed the fights.

"The Tay Bridge Disaster" was his poem that got the most attention because people thought it was so terrible for people to be remembered this way. It was sad that this bridge went down and they were all on it. At the end the poem it is not like "this was a terrible thing and I am sad about it." He says "this was a terrible thing and they should have used buttresses." You shouldn't waste your time to write a poem to tell that; you should just write to the newspapers and the railway company to tell them to put buttresses.

In this play there were lots of different people playing McGonagall. Everybody played McGonagall! Maybe they wanted to show the change between each McGonagall. I thought they should have stuck to one gender, or even better just one person playing McGonagall. The characters changing all the time made me feel like I was seeing seven different characters running around the stage.

People that would like this show are people that like bad poets, feasts, pool noodles, and buttresses. If you go to this show you will learn more about McGonagall than you ever did before. It is good to know about McGonagall because this is a holiday that happens in Scotland. And if you are a kid that is my age, it would be a good holiday to share with a friend or a class because not many people know about this holiday except for people in Scotland.

Photos: Jasmine Basci

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review of Mary Arrchie Theatre Co.'s Superior Donuts

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Superior Donuts. It was about a man that owned a donut shop, and he hired a new employee, and they became really good friends. The first act was really funny; the second act was mostly scary but not all the time. It was written by Tracy Letts who I know about because I was kind of in a play with him. If you guys saw me in Iron Stag King, the big dragon voice was Tracy Letts. I thought some of it was for grown ups more than kids, and some of it--like when the betters came in--I didn't understand at first. But that isn't the fault of the play. It is the fault of me being a kid. Superior Donuts was sad, intense, and hilarious.

I thought the friendship between Arthur (Richard Cotovsky) and Franco (Preston Tate, Jr.) was interesting. They both were irritated by each other but they loved each other very much at the same time. There was a fight at the end about how Arthur basically sacrificed his life for his friend. In some scenes they yelled at each other because they thought the other was racist. I don't think they were actually racist, Franco was just afraid that he wouldn't like his book if he was racist because it was written by a black person, which was him. Their relationship would not be as interesting if they just liked everything about each other.

One of my favorite moments was when Franco was testing Arthur to see if he was racist. He said, "name ten black poets." And then Arthur named three black poets and he pretended he was thinking of another and then he named 7 more black poets in like ten seconds. I thought it was really hilarious because it seemed like he was going to lose, and then he just named all of them very quickly.

There was this moment where Franco was telling Arthur how to impress the policewoman Randy ((Pat Musker). He said, "And you have to get rid of that ponytail. Ponytails are for girls. And ponies." It is absurd in a funny way--who would ever think of such a smart and hilarious thing! But there was another part where Arthur was giving Franco advice about how to publish his book called America Will Be. How they were giving each other advice about what they really wanted showed that they really cared about each other.

I think that Lady (Joanna Maclay) is basically one of the friends of everybody in the show because she comes to the donut shop a lot because she is a homeless person and she needs food. That is the reason they call her Lady--because she wasn't telling them her name because people might be looking for her because she's homeless. Arthur gives free donuts to Lady and that tells us he is a very nice person. She told a sad story that made me feel sad for her about how all of her children died except for one. It made Arthur remember that he should go and see his daughter and that Franco's father left. That means he knew that he made his daughter very sad and that Franco needs a father.

The fight was really disgusting but also it made me laugh a lot. It is between Luther (Karl Potthoff) who bet Franco on sports games and Arthur. Max (Paige Smith) from next door didn't really fight but he did make me laugh really hard by when he was looking into the kitchen and they were having a fight and you kept hearing this bang which happened to be a cookie sheet and I thought that was really funny. He kept looking back in these faces that were like "Something baaad is happening back there." There was something bad happening back there, but it wasn't the worst. The worst thing was when Luther came back from behind the counter and blood was coming out of his mouth. I just didn't want to see it. I was kind of sad for Luther even though he was the big bad guy. One of the funny parts in the scene was Kiril (Bryan Kelly) just walking in. Everybody in the audience

just started laughing because Max came in and said, "I am here to make sure that they stay off of Arthur," and Kevin (Christopher Borek) started for the door, and then he said "And this is Kiril" and he just walks in, this amazingly tall man, and Kevin walks back super slowly like "Ok, I'm not getting into this fight." And Luther is also standing there just staring at Kiril.

I loved how the policeman James (Bradford Stevens) loved Star Trek so much and he came in wearing a costume. And Arthur said, "where are your pointy ears?" I thought it was really funny. I thought it really showed the relationship between the two police officers when Randy said about James and his wife that it's nice that they do this stuff together because they're both total nerds.

Randy I think is actually in love with Arthur, but she doesn't want to tell him that she is. He is very nice and very smart but he is very short-tempered and she is very short-tempered, so I guess that makes them perfect for each other. She was one of my favorite characters in the whole play because she was very smart, very funny, and she was also one of the only girls in the play. Randy is important to the play because we wouldn't have some of the funniest jokes (because they are about her or she tells them). If we didn't have Randy and she did not have a crush on Arthur, then it wouldn't be Arthur and Franco helping each other. It would just be Arthur helping Franco with the book and that wouldn't be true friendship.

People that would like this show are people that like friendship, big fights, and donuts. People should see it because it is funny, moving, and scary. It will teach you that if you have a friend, and your friend is in trouble, even if you don't want to do the thing to save them, you'll just do it.


Photos: Greg Rothman

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Review of Six Stories Tall at Adventure Stage Chicago

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Six Stories Tall by Marco Ramirez, and it was about, well, it was about a lot of things: mermaids, monsters, superheroes, devils and rapping, a house that made music, and a boy that painted a whole baseball stadium purple. It is called Six Stories Tall because it is about lots of different little short stories and there are six of them. I did not measure the theater to see if it was actually six-stories tall. But I did measure how tall the stories were--they were very exaggerated. Tall can mean a very unrealistic thing, like a tall tale. But it can also mean "Wow! Godzilla is so"--wait a second. That is a tall tale! And also Godzilla is enormous! Tall tales don't mean all of it is not true. Sometimes it can mean, oh, some of that is true. Like the Red Line monster in this play. Like you won't actually see a Red Line monster on a Red Line train. But you might encounter other things that could hurt you, for example: crooks, people that are trying to bother you, and the Joker (just kidding). Six Stories Tall is a play about imagination and real life mixed.

There was one sketch that was about a mermaid (Sarah Rose Graber) and a boy (Mark Anthony Gonzalez) that fell in love with the mermaid, but the thing is, he's not a mermaid, so he can't marry her. I really liked the costume for the mermaid. I thought it was very pretty, and if there were mermaids it would be realistic. There were lots of acrobatics--like doing very long handstands in this case, so then everybody could see her tail. I thought that the play would have been a little bit better if the boy hadn't so been so thankful; being thankful is better than being greedy, but if you are in a town that is starving you should ask for things because you'll die if you don't ask for things.

This next story was about a boy that was a slave (Alexander Knapp) that lived in the bottom of a house, and he and a little girl (Alyssa Vera Ramos) who lived upstairs invented music. The way that people spoke was gibberish, but if you were a slave from Africa you wouldn't really understand what the American people were saying so it just sounds like gibberish. He understood music and pointing, when people pointed at stuff. It told us that music can be made any place; even if sadness is going around, music can help. I thought it was really beautiful that, at the end, the narrator (Danielle Davis) that was telling the story said, "The only thing he does not remember is me" because she used to be the little girl that was upstairs and making music. Or maybe she is his mother.

One of the other sketches was about a boy named Chester (Lance Newton) whose grandfather (Mark Anthony Gonzalez) was losing his eyesight while he was over and they were eating breakfast, which was Froot Loops. Then the grandfather said, "Why aren't they making red, orange, yellow, and green anymore?" because the only color he could see anymore was purple. I think that his problem is that he ate too many Froot Loops because Froot Loops are very bad for you. I thought it was very nice that Chester would paint a baseball stadium purple for his grandfather so he could see the baseball game. I saw a lot of kids liking how the remote control and the cap came out of the paint cans purple, but I could see that he was switching the cap and the remote from a different tin of paint. I would suggest that they put them in the same tin because then it seems more like it is actually happening.

One of my favorite tales was the story about the Devil (Mark Anthony Gonzalez) taking away this little girl Rebecca's (Danielle Davis) father and she wanted him back. I was angry that the father would be so stupid as to say yes to a singing contest with the devil if he had a daughter. But, when the Devil came back again, she did a rap contest with him. They were both very talented at rapping, but Rebecca had this amazing voice for rapping and singing too. They would sing and they always did solos; they didn't rap at the same time. I found when Rebecca was doing the rapping very touching because she was doing it for her father. It was cool when the Devil was like, "I'm ready," and he was
standing in this jacket and Rebecca who was in this long girly skirt, she turned around to one of the villagers, and she took off her skirt, and there were these shiny silver pants under the skirt. So she looked much more like a rapper than he did. I also liked when Rebecca went over to the DJ (Mikhail Fiksel) who did the sound and she was like, put on some rap music, and he put on some music and she started rapping. I liked having the DJ there interacting with the people on stage. I really liked how at the end Rebecca grabbed the Devil's hat off and just started rapping in his face. It was funny but also terrifying. I thought, "Is he just going to do that creepy jacket thing to her?" I don't want to give away the ending because this is one of the most exciting parts of the play.

Another one of my favorites was this one about Batman. It wasn't exactly about Batman; it was more about this kid (Lance Newton) who loved Batman and pretended to be Batman. I really liked when the kid said "Batman really doesn't like guns because his parents were shot on Christmas." I thought it was touching and also funny because he talked about it like it was real, even though it is totally not real. And I thought it was also kind of cute. He was not actually Batman, but there was one real thing; he did actually know a drunk janitor and the drunk janitor happened to be his father. He is pretending to be Batman because he wants to be powerful and he wants to make his dad stop doing this thing that is hurting him. There was also this fun part where whenever he fought somebody he would do these crazy daredevil moves. And also another fun part was that there was this live drummer (Kevin Brown) and he played for basically the entire scene. It made you feel like you were actually watching a Batman movie.

My favorite scene was "The Red Line Monster." It was about an 11-year-old girl (Alyssa Vera Ramos) who was riding the Red Line. She did this a lot home from school. She was playing a ninja video game and she was trying to beat a guy. They got actors to play the ninjas because then you could see what she's playing in the video game. And when she finally knew what buttons to press her phone was getting low on battery. I really liked how the Red Line monster was made up of people stacked on top of each other. I liked it because it was intense because I was afraid that everybody would have a broken back. I thought it looked cool. My other favorite part was when this girl (Danielle Davis) talked like Lumpy Space Princess from Adventure Time (the best show in the world) and she was saying "Like my belly is NOT fat" and she was totally going off subject about how her belly was not fat. I thought that was really funny because she had this weird voice and she was talking about her belly when she was supposed to be talking about the Red Line Monster.

People that would like this show are people who like mermaids, monsters, and rapping contests. People should go see this because it is really funny and very touching too. I think it is a good show for the whole family.

Photos: Johnny Knight

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review of The Hypocrites' The Mikado

Once upon a time I went to a show, and it was called The Mikado. All the actors were dressed in circus clothes, and the set also looked like a circus and smelled like a circus, and it was a circus. Literally, it was as fun as a circus. And there was literally a balloon pit. I am not lying. The same people that did Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert & Sullivan, wrote The Mikado. Sean Graney and Kevin O'Donnell made it much shorter and they also made the songs more funny. It was funny to begin with, but they made it even more funny, which is the best of all things you can do with a play.

The show was about a young man named Nanki-Poo (Shawn Pfautsch)and he was in love with a maiden named Yum-Yum (Emily Casey). But Yum-Yum is engaged to a man named Ko-Ko(Robert McLean) who is the Lord High Executioner, which is an executioner that is lord high--that means he's very powerful. So Nanki-Poo is trying to hang himself because he was in love with Yum-Yum and she was the only girl he ever loved. But then the Lord High Executioner, who will have his place taken away if he doesn't execute someone, he finds him trying to hang himself and says "Why don't you come and have me execute you because if you don't then you'll miss all this fun stuff like fireworks--oh no you'll miss that because you'll be dead--but crying and Yum-Yum's attention will totally be taken away." And Nanki-Poo says, "Her attention will totally be taken away?" like it is the best thing ever. Nanki-Poo is a "second mandolinist" which is "too low" for a maiden. But he is actually The Mikado's son and that is the perfect thing for a maiden. He will agree to be executed only if he can marry Yum-Yum for the time that he is alive. But the problem is if women's husbands are executed then they'll have to be buried alive. At the end they do get married, but I don't want to spoil too much.

One of my favorite parts was when Ko-ko kept saying "Let's go over where the Chancellor can't hear us" and "Let's go here where the chief justice can't hear us." It's funny because he's saying all of these different kinds of people but the funny thing is is that the Pooh-Bah (Matt Kahler) is actually all those different positions and Ko-ko is talking to the Pooh-Bah. And the Pooh-Bah doesn't even seem to notice that Ko-ko is saying "Let's go over where you can't hear us. Let's go over where you can't hear us." But the Pooh-Bah keeps saying "good idea" because he doesn't want to lose his positions. It was hilarious because of how it was said and how the actors acted, and the lines are also funny.

I thought it was interesting that Shawn Pfautsch played both Nanki-Poo and Katisha because Katisha is a girl who wants to marry Nanki-Poo. They can not get married if the same person is playing the person that the person is getting married to. I thought, "Oh, good" when Katisha got married to Ko-ko because then Nanki-Poo was not dead and Shawn didn't have to do a quick change back and forth every two seconds to marry himself. I wanted Katisha to find love, but I didn't want her to marry the main character who was in love with someone else. I don't think they would have been happy together. They had very different interests. She came in playing a weird saxophone song. He played very nice and soft music, but she played weird nightclub music.

There was this song called "Three Little Maids from School" which was about Yum-Yum and her two sisters Pitti-Sing (Christine Stulik) and Peep-Bo (Dana Omar). Pitti-Sing had a really funny voice--it was very high. I thought it was the best hysterical voice ever. One of my favorite moments was when Peep-Bo showed off how smart she was when Nanki-Poo said to Yum Yum, "We'll make minutes hours, hours days, and days years and then we will have been together for 25 years." And then Peep-Bo (Hey! Bo Peep! But Peep-Bo!) says, "Then this conversation has lasted 4 hours and 18 minutes." That shows that she is very smart. The three little maids, none of them are exactly smart, but she just showed that that day she was the smartest of the little maids.

One of my favorite parts was when they used this little song that sounded like a vocal warmup. The Pooh-Bah, Ko-ko and Pish-Tush (Ryan Bourque) performed it like it actually was a vocal warm up. It went like this: "To sit in solemn silence on a dull dark dock, in a presidential prison with a lifelong lock, awaiting the sensation of a short sharp shock by a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block." I think I have actually heard that before, and it was nice to have a part of the play that I knew because I have never actually seen this operetta until now. I liked the tongue-twister element of it. The performers seemed like they were having fun but also doing a difficult task because it is actually a difficult element to a play to add a tongue twister in. People could laugh kindly at you--like it is a funny thing--or they could laugh mockingly at you if you mess up or they could laugh funnily at you. But it didn't seem like they messed up at all which I thought was amazing.

I thought it was funny in the scene where Nanki-Poo was singing with Yum-Yum about how they would never kiss again. But instead of saying "kiss' they would pucker up their lips and make a smooching noise. It told me that they really wanted to be together but they thought they could never do it. It was more funny than tragic. There is like a tiny sliver of tragic in there. And when they are singing "We'll never do this again," they almost kiss but it is illegal to flirt. Speaking of flirt--every time that somebody said "flirting" the rest of the cast would say "flirting" in a whisper as if it were a horrible thing to even say the word flirting. Actually it is not such a horrible thing to say the word flirting, but they make it sound like it is, which I think is fuhlarious.

People that would like this show are people that like balloons, comedy, and Pooh-Bahs that have many jobs. This show is perfect for kids because it is very humorous. Kids would not have very much trouble following the story because it has a very easy plot. Don't think if you are going to an opera house that the show there will be the same. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a balloon pit in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta! If people don't want to see a balloon pit or people riding tiny tricycles, they should not see this play. But what I really want them to do is take a chance. If they do, I think they will completely change their minds.

Photos: Matthew Gregory Hollis



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review of The Neo-Futurists' 44 Plays for 44 Presidents

Three questions to ask yourself before you read this review. (The answers will be at the end of this review.) 1.) Did Grover Cleveland discover Cleveland? 2.) Did John Wilkes Booth actually say "Sic semper tyrannis"? 3.) Was Millard Fillmore actually a loaf of bread?

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called 44 Plays for 44 Presidents. It was about presidents and what happened during their existence in being president in different funny ways and in different scary ways. I think the writers (Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg) wanted to write it because they must really like history. It was history that went all the way back to 1789. It was not like reading a history book; it was much better because it was more fun and what I mean by fun is that you weren't just looking at a page that told you when he was born, when he got elected, when he got married and a picture of his wife. You are looking at people, actual people, that you are actually present with and you can actually interact with. People should see this show because it is educational but also the funnest play ever.

There was this really cool sketch about Barack Obama (played by Rani Waterman) where he came on stage and he came over to two boys and started jump-roping crazily with a long one and a shorter one. And then she got two jump ropes and jumped them. It seemed hard to do it and at the end she says "Can't you guys help me?" because Barack Obama is doing a lot of hard work but not enough people are helping him.

And if the president got elected twice a little bit apart from each other, like Grover Cleveland (Joe Dempsey), the actors would do kind of the same piece again only they would leave some of the parts out of it so they wouldn't waste your time. The first Grover Cleveland piece was all of the guests, which was everybody in the play, clinking their glasses together and dancing. But the next time they clinked their glasses together and started dancing and then were like, "Oh, come on!" and then they leave. Grover Cleveland and Grover Cleveland's wife (Rani Waterman) were the same both times.

In the Chester Arthur sketch I played Chester Arthur. I am not always going to play Chester Arthur. A different person will get to play him each time. You have to recite the oath of office and after you recite to oath of office then they put the coat on you and you have to try to get on to the desk. I could not, because I am too short, so they had to lift me up. And after that, they asked me a quiz. I think they wanted to say that Chester Arthur was made president very very quickly because the president before him was assassinated. He used to just be vice-president but then he was president. I felt like I was just an audience member at first, and then suddenly I was president! Do you know that I was actually elected president when I was 4 years old in 2008. Look it up in a history book. I will be there. No, I actually won't. The 2008 president was actually Barack Obama.

My favorite scene was about Millard Fillmore who was played by a loaf of bread. (This is also in your quiz at the beginning of the review.) And when Dina Marie Walters was eating bread when she started speaking her mouth was still full and so it sounded like this:"ummmmmmmmmummmmmummmm."See nobody could understand you if you were talking like that. It was hilarious because she was saying something historical but at the same time you could not understand what she was saying. Everybody else also had their mouths full when they were speaking, so they were also sounding like "mmmummmummmu," but I mentioned Dina first because I laughed the most at her because she had her mouth very very full so she sounded the most ridiculous. I thought it was fuh-larious.

One of my favorite scenes was the scene when Joe Dempsey as Tilden was reaching for the coat and Ryan Walters as Rutherford B. Hayes stepped in and it was a tug-of-war and then it turned into a wrestling match. They were trying to show us that they both really wanted the coat but they couldn't get the coat. They really wanted to be president and the coat meant you were president. And the coat would poke out from the door, and then a happy face with the coat would poke out. I liked it because I thought it was funny because I like slapstick comedy sometimes--but just some slapstick comedy; some slapstick comedy can be too violent.

One of the creepiest scenes was about William McKinley (Dina Marie Walters). He was shaking hands and they were getting pictures taken. Then this assassin (Bilal Dardai) shoots at him. McKinley held out his hand after he'd been shot once by the assassin, but he held out his hand and kept smiling in this creepy way. It made me think about Coraline, because Coraline has these creepy parents who are always smiling even though they are being hurt or something because they are made out of clay.

There was this scene where William Howard Taft (Rawson Vint) was a baby because he was such a baby when he was president. He didn't know if he wanted to be president or he didn't want to be president. He is dressed in this big fat costume. It was basically a beanbag with armholes and a place to put your legs. And it had a way to see where you were going. And when he was in the fat suit there was a woman (Dina Marie Walters) and Teddy Roosevelt (Ryan Walters) and they were trying to feed him applesauce but he wouldn't eat. They both say "Be my president, Billy" and try to put the coat on him, but he won't put it on, so then they have to force it on him. And then Roosevelt says if you don't want it, give it back, and Taft says, "now I want it." And they have a fight. It indicated that Teddy Roosevelt would not be a very good father.

People that would like this show are people who like Presidents, history, and bread. I think this is a good show to take kids to because it is about presidents. There were also some sad scenes and there are also mentions of children dying, but other than that it is fine for kids. Grownups will also enjoy watching it. I really liked this play because it had a lot of substance to the story, meaning that it had something going on and it wasn't just a bunch of hoo-ha that wasted your time. It taught me about the 44 presidents because I haven't learned about every single president yet. I liked that everybody was having a good time doing the show and that they knew what they were doing in how they could express the different presidents even if they hadn't been alive during their time.

Answers: 1.) No. Grover Cleveland did not actually discover Cleveland. They are spelled the same way though. 2.) Yes. John Wilkes Booth did actually say "Sic simper tyrannis" when he shot Abraham Lincoln. It means "Thus always to tyrants." A tyrant is somebody who wants to control the world but he actually can't. Abraham Lincoln was also not a tyrant. If it was anybody who was a tyrant it was Mr. Booth. 3.) No white breads have been elected for presidents. Not one. Ok. There was one: Bill Clinton. Wait. Let me look that up. Yep.

Photos: Maggie Fullilove Nugent

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review of Shaw Chicago's The Millionairess

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Millionairess. And it was at the Ruth Page Theatre. Actually, the review of Harold and the Purple Crayon, the previous review that I wrote, I saw that play two days before I saw this one at the same theater. Coincidence, isn't it? This is a staged reading, and when you go to a staged reading sometimes they are just wearing their regular clothes and sometimes they are wearing costumes. In this, they were wearing costumes. When you go into it, you see a bunch of music stands because they are going to put their scripts on them and read from them, and that is why it is called a reading--because they are reading from their scripts. This play was written by Bernard Shaw. My experience with Bernard Shaw is that I have seen My Fair Lady which is based on a play called Pygmalion which is by Bernard Shaw. It kind of sounds like a pig and a chameleon put together, but that is not at all what it is about. The Millionairess is actually what you think it is going to be about: a millionairess. It is also about breaking up and lawyers, which can be confusing for kids my age. But it is mostly about a millionairess (Lydia Berger Gray), so I mostly understood it. And when you go in, I think you will be surprised about how well the actors do their parts even though it is a staged reading--and usually you wouldn't think a staged reading would have such good casting.

The Egyptian Doctor (Mark Plonsky) was a really funny character because he was serious--but also funny at the same time. He was like, "Oh. Nothing wrong with you! Good morning!" I thought it was funny because the millionairess, Epifania Ognisanti di Parerga, was like, "Look! I really have something wrong with me!" but he didn't trust her because she was just trying to be interesting. In the program, it just says Egyptian Doctor. It says Egyptian Doctor, because you don't find out what his name is. Because she says when she asks him to marry her, "ascertain his name and make the arrangements." It is funny because she doesn't even know his name as she's marrying him.

The lawyer (Joseph Bowen) you wouldn't suspect would actually be funny, but he was actually one of the funniest characters in the play. I liked that when Epifania said "I'm going to commit suicide, and I'd like to leave all my money to my husband,"he was like, "Oh you want to commit suicide? Here's some medicine that will kill you lickety split." And then she was like, "Don't you have any sympathy for me at all?" And he says, "I do have sympathy for you. You just said you wanted to commit suicide, and I am trying to help." And then she calls him a rhinoceros. I don't know why she calls him a rhinoceros; I think it is about the meanness, because rhinoceroses can be pretty mean. But I think it would be a better thing to say if he smelled bad, because rhinoceroses smell disgusting.

Epifania has a very strange relationship with her husband Alastair (Gary Alexander). It is weird because she is leaving all the money to her husband and she hates him because she thought he was going to be very romantic but he wasn't at all. I think he wasn't the best type for her because she only cared about money and he only cared about boxing and sports. Alastair had a girlfriend which was called a Sunday wife. The girlfriend's name was Patricia Smith (Jhenai Mootz). And he like ran off to her to become husband and wife but Epifania was kind of a Sunday wife to another man Adrian Blenderbland (Jonathan Nichols). I thought Patricia was funny, like when she said "And I ran to his arms and we embraced, but not like the way that you think of embracing." Blenderbland is always talking about how money isn't important at all, but it is when you need it. Like you need to get new food all the time and you need to get new clothes that fit you. I think that if anyone was actually doing anything wrong it was Alastair because he was actually dating someone and Epifania was only going to Blenderbland for help.

There was a part that was touching, and funny and weird all at the same time. The scene starts with Patricia and Alastair sitting in a hotel somewhere, maybe a hot tub, I'm not sure. And the part that was really touching, funny, and weird was when the Egyptian doctor goes up to Epifania and she says, "Check my pulse!" And then he checks her pulse and says, "That's the most beautiful pulse I've ever heard." And then they get married. It was touching because they got married and it was funny because they got married so suddenly. And it was weird because he married her for a pulse.

People that would like this show are people that like staged readings, trying to get new boyfriends, and really really long names. One thing that was interesting about it is that Shaw makes his characters talk in a different way than we actually do in real life--in a very opera like way. I mean that they talk exaggeratedly. And that is really fun to see in a play. I liked how they could make a staged reading into more of a play because they made costumes that looked like that time period and their performances I thought were great. People should see this show because it is fun and it gets you really interested in the plot of the story.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review of Harold and the Purple Crayon at Chicago Children's Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show, and it was called Harold and the Purple Crayon. Strangely, I had never read Harold and the Purple Crayon even though it is one of the most famous children's books ever written. But now I have. The book is about going to different places and exploring and how you can do stuff in your imagination that you can't do in real life. The play is kind of about the same things but in a different way, like the milkmen (Alex Goodrich and Bethany Thomas)were telling the little boy Harold (Nate Lewellyn) to draw this and use his imagination, but in the book he just decides to use his imagination and use it in the way that he wants. I thought the show could have been better, but I adored the costumes, puppets, and the choreography.

It is pretty difficult to do an adaptation of Harold and the Purple Crayon because of all the crazy things that happen, like quick scene changes where he is on land and is scared away from a terrible monster and two seconds later he has to be in the sea. Don Darryl Rivera was the writer and he did something that I have seen lots before in kids' shows: turning a book with almost no words into a play with lots of singing. (Auston James did the music and Rob Burgess did the lyrics.) I think they do that because younger kids like to sing along to lots of songs. Like when I was like 1, 2, and 3 I sang songs that my dad liked. Songs make a show longer and they can make you move on from what you were doing faster or slower. So this is an example in which they did not move along very fast: "I'm flying so high. There's a dragon in the sky." They were just saying two things over and over again that had to do with one thing: that there's a dragon in the sky. He was just scared and running in place. There was another song that was kind of repetitive, but it actually made the play go on faster because these aliens were trying to snatch the crayon and trying to eat it, but they all did it in different ways, which I thought made it more exciting. The song just went "Jump it! Jump it!" but the director Sean Graney and the choreographer Tommy Rapley told the actors to make up different tactics to try to get the crayon.

It could have been better if it had less singing; if it had had less singing it would have been more true to the book because there is nothing that says in the book that Harold could be singing at that moment--he is drawing and he is running and almost never has his mouth open in the whole thing. Dancing would be fine; you can do choreography with only three songs--three songs would have been perfect for this, but there were like around ten.

My favorite costume (by Alison Siple) was the porcupine because it kind of looked like armor and had spikes coming out of it. I liked how they used everyday objects. They used a bike helmet and put quills on that and I thought that was really cute and creative. I thought Harold's costume was very true to the book. I also loved the Alien costumes which I thought were really cute, and I loved their little tongues that poked out and kind of looked like socks trying to eat the purple crayon. That costume was also a puppet. I also liked the crab puppet/costume because of the little snappers that people would put their hands in and make them snap, and it made them look like they didn't have any hands, just snappers. It looked hard to move in, but Bethany Thomas made it look easy. Joanna Iwanicka did the puppets and props. One of my favorite puppets was kind of a puppet and also kind of an umbrella. It was a puffer fish that was an umbrella that when you pushed it up and made it pop out it was blown up. I thought the caterpillar eating the apple was really adorable because it had an enormous lump, which was the apple inside it, which I thought was really hilarious.

I thought the choreography was really awesome because it was good for the story to have that choreography because if it didn't have it, the songs wouldn't have as much impact on the viewer. If there was a bad song the choreography would make it seem more interesting. I liked the alien dance because they were all jumping and they were kind of hypnotizing Harold so he would do the dance and then they could eat his crayon. The moose and the porcupine I thought had a really cool dance when they were singing about the pie and how they were in love with the pie. I think that when the porcupine and the moose came on stage, I wanted to get to know those characters even more because the actors were good at playing their parts. Their dance was a lot of twirling around with the pie and basically not even noticing Harold was there. I thought the dance was funny.

People that would like this show are people that like crayons, using your imagination, and aliens. I think this show should be for ages 1 to 5 because there is nothing that would creep out younger children. I thought the script needed more work, but I thought all the designing was great. Kids younger than me might think more about the designs than the script, so the script problems might not be as much a problem for the younger kids because they are paying more attention to the puppets and the dancing.

Photos: Michael Brosilow



Monday, October 1, 2012

Review of Males Order Brides at Quest Theatre Ensemble

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Males Order Brides. It's called Males Order Brides because it is about men ordering brides so they can get married. They are doing it because they have certain dreams about what their brides should be like. They want them to be pretty in a certain kind of way, and good kind of conversationalists, and very proper, and lounge dancers. They learn that those kind of dreams are right under their noses. They have this lady named Star Billings (Kieran Welsh-Phillips) that is helping Big Harry Deal (Jason Bowen) to blow all the men and the heroine Calico Shurtz (Jacqueline Salamack) into little pieces. This show is a melodrama; that means that the villain tells you everything and they have like beautiful heroines and men that work in a gold mine. And they come right out and say what they want. This means you just have to sit back and relax and enjoy the show, and you don't have to figure anything out at all. I like figuring things out more than just seeing things happen and having the characters tell you everything that is happening. Some people don't like processing things as much as other people and some people just like a break from processing things and processing things and processing things. This play is good for a break if you like processing things but you really want a two-hour break.

I thought the can-can dancer costumes (by Jana Anderson) were pretty cool because they looked like they were from cowboy times. And the one of the brides that was very proper with the hat and the spectacles (which was actually Star Billings) had a silk-looking dress that looked like somebody that was coming from Britain. The bride with the blonde curly hair I thought looked like one of the girls from Little House on the Prairie and I also thought that the scientist/lounge singer costume looked very sparkly and looked liked a famous singer from New York--because that's what that bride was.

I think it was kind of a bad message to send to say that you should change yourself to make somebody like you like Calico Shurtz does. She goes with her friends and puts on a dress and a fancy hat because she has been a tomboy for the whole play. A better message would have been to say, "Just make him like you as a person as who you are." She does the exact opposite of that which is making him like her a different way than she was before.

The actors wanted to make the audience laugh, but sometimes they kind of didn't know how to, but at most points they made the audience laugh. When they don't get as many people laughing, they would make up a joke that wasn't in the script. Sometimes they were the funniest parts: like when Big Harry Deal said, "I'll go and check on her in the girls' bathroom" and when he leaves C.D. Nichols (Bruce Phillips) said "Don't go into the girls' bathroom!" He said it in a voice kind of like "I am kind of scared that he is going to go into the girls' bathroom" and I thought that that was one of the funniest parts in this scene.

When the audience would throw popcorn at the villains, sometimes it got stuck in their hats, sometimes it got stuck in their dresses, and sometimes it got stuck in their shoes. Sometimes it also got stuck in my hair. I did not like it very much to have popcorn stuck in my hair, but it was an experience--the first time I ever got pelted with popcorn. One of the jokes that I really liked was when Big Harry Deal was talking with Star Billings while she was being pelted with popcorn and she was eating it. And then Big Harry Deal said, "Don't eat so much. You'll fill up and you won't be hungry for your dinner." And I thought it was funny because you cannot possibly be filled up on three pieces of popcorn. And then another time when he was was serving them the dinner and he dropped one of the plates, and then he picked it up, and nothing had fallen off. So he shook it up and down, but nothing came off because it was a prop. And he just served it to them like, "Ohhh-kay. I'm giving them fake foo-ood I guess. Ohhh-kay.

People who would like this show are people who like melodramas, the old wild west, and people getting pelted with popcorn. Some kids I think will like this show because it is easy to understand what is going on and there is lots of popcorn throwing and they can throw popcorn--which is something they have always wanted to do and this will be like the only chance in their life they will get to do it. The grown-ups in the audience were acting kind of like kids because they were having so much fun watching the show, and the oldest people there even threw popcorn. And some of the oldest people maybe came to see it because it was like a child memory of going to see melodramas.

Photos: Braxton Black


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review of The Hypocrites' The Fall of the House of Usher

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Fall of the House of Usher. It was about a lady who went to see her school friend named Usher because he has sent a letter to her telling her to come and see him. And her friend has changed so much that she hardly doesn't recognize him. If you were a kid when you last saw someone then they should have changed a lot, but Usher shouldn't have changed this much. And, to show that changing, they have everybody in the cast (Halena Kays, Tien Doman, Christine Stulik) play Usher. And not just Usher but the other characters: the maid, the sister, and the friend/narrator. The play is about how you can change in this house and how it falls to the ground. This play is true to the story in some ways. It is not true to the story in all ways because the friend is a boy in the story and there is no lemon and gin. I liked it better than the story though because I thought they added a lot of cool things to the story that Edgar Allan Poe could have added if he were still alive. It is fuh-scarious, which means scary and fuh-larious combined into one.

The set (by Joey Wade) makes me think about what Usher's house looks like; it is so dirty, and the lamps have fallen down, and there is a drip. There were all these bookstacks with fallen books all over. It makes you feel kind of unsafe and there are some books pinned to the wall which shows you that after his sister dies he doesn't like reading books maybe because he liked reading them to his sister. There is a staircase indicating that it is a very big house, but it doesn't feel big when you are in there, so that was a good idea. It sets you into a scary mood that makes you feel like you are not completely safe. It is a scary way to feel when you are at a play, but it is still fun because sometimes you feel like you need to be scared, like on a roller coaster you go there to be scared but not to actually be in real danger.

My favorite scene was the drip scene. The drip scene was all about this drip. The scene starts with the maid coming in a going, "drip, drip, drip, drip, drip." And she's put down a bucket which gets some dripping into the bucket. And then Usher and the friend come in and he has this speech about how the rain is so unearthly. And then he pushes the friend to the window and says, "Look at this unearthly rain!" and then she says, "Excuse me but I'm getting dripped on." The drip, I think, is one of the cool gadgets they have in the show. It is like a tap that is hanging from the ceiling and is like a drip in a wall. It was super funny because of the maid coming in and saying in a Scottish accent, "drip, drip, drip."

In the book Usher is really grubby and disgusting, but in the play he is not very grubby and disgusting, he just has a beard, which I think was a good choice because you only want one of the characters to be grubby and disgusting and then it would be kind of hard because all of the actors are playing the character and it would be hard to make someone disgusting before the show if they are not playing Usher first. I think how they played Usher kind of made you see the different ways Usher changed back and forth. Halena's Usher seemed older than the other Ushers. Tien's Usher seemed more threatening, and Christine's Usher seemed more interested in marrying his friend.

The maid is like your comedy character in this because she is really funny and she likes getting everything for her master and the friend, like she likes getting the gin and lemon and knives so that the friend can cut the lemon herself and eat it and also put in into the gin and sometimes she has to grab two lemons because sometimes the friend gets a little too drunk. Halena's way of doing the maid was more Scottish and emphasized that she was a maid and that she wanted to make people laugh. Tien's maid was more talkative and imitated the friend more: like when the friend said the word Danger, and the maid went "Danger!" too. Christine's maid seemed like she was most loyal to her master because she was the one that mostly said "Yes, Master!"

The friend is not usually a girl; she is usually a boy in the book and in other plays of this. I think it was a good decision that Sean Graney made to make her a girl because it changed the relationship with Usher. It changed it because there was a romantic tension in it. There is tension in the book too; it is between Usher and the sister, but it is kind of not the best idea to do that because you cannot marry your sister. In the play, Usher likes both of them. I know that because he kisses them both on the lips. Christine was the fanciest of the friends. Halena's version of the friend was more concerned for her friend Usher. And Tien's was more British and more worried about messing up her clothing.

The sisters were all basically the same because they all were kind of a creepy sister. And one of them, Christine's, only had to fall through a door on her face. It was creepier to see it in real life because you thought, "This house is going to fall on top of me!" Tien's was the one that sang the most and did creepy songs. Christine's did the most falling on her face. I think Halena didn't play this part, but I might be wrong. I might have just lost track.

They used other Edgar Allan Poe stories three times that I recognized. 1.) There was a song called "Annabel Lee." "Annabel Lee" is about a kingdom by the sea with a beautiful girl called Annabel Lee and she dies because of these stupid angels, and she has a boyfriend that is sad that she died, and he keeps thinking he sees her everyday. 2.) Usher says he hears a rapping at his chamber door, which is from "The Raven" which is the most famousest poem that Edgar Allan Poe ever did. 3.) "The Cask of Amontillado" is the story the friend reads. They just talk about a wall being boarded up over a friend, but they don't say "For the love of god, Montresor!" which is my favorite line because I think it is funny because it is under-dramatic. He should be saying, "Get me out of here or I'll kill you!"

People that would like this show are people that like Edgar Allan Poe, funny drips in walls, and having gins with lemons. People should see this twice so then you can see it from both angles. There are some things that you can't see from each angle, like some people turn other ways so you can't see their faces. I think they did that so it can be more of a mystery, but then the audience can come back again and solve the mystery when they see it again. This might be scary for some kids. They should read the book first, so they can see if they can handle it on the stage.

Quoth the Raven, "Review some more!"


Photos: Matthew Gregory Hollis

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review of Lakeside Shakespeare's Hamlet and Much Ado about Nothing

Once upon a time I went to two shows and they were called Much Ado about Nothing and Hamlet. And they were not in Chicago; they were in Michigan. So, I have done Lakeside Shakespeare reviews a lot, but it wasn't really Lakeside Shakespeare, it was InaLittleRehearsalRoom Shakespeare. I think I like Lakeside Shakespeare better than InaLittleRehearsalRoom Shakespeare because it helps you understand the story better because the actors are more focused on the part they are playing because they have been doing it for longer and then they can express themselves more. Everybody is in all of their costumes and you get to have a little picnic. Then you get to hear what the audience thinks about it and you can compare your opinion to their opinion. I enjoyed it. I would recommend seeing Hamlet first because then there are all these sad things, but then soon you will be watching Dogberry (Noah Simon) in Much Ado about Nothing saying all these hilarious things.

I thought Hamlet was perfectly sad but also had little chunks of funniness to it. So when something was really sad and you thought you were going to cry, then something funny would happen, but sometimes they didn't have a funny part, just a sad part, and then you just had to cry. Like at the very end when everybody has died except for like 4 people.

In the first scene there were two policemen (Noah Simon & Josh Zagoren) and Horatio (Dennis William Grimes) and they were out on a balcony I think and they saw the Ghost of King Hamlet (Matt Kahler) going through the sky. But they can't actually point at the king up in the sky because they don't have a flying machine in the woods. I thought it was like people could see it for a brief time but then it would turn invisible because ghosts can turn invisible. I was very much convinced because it is convincing if people are like, "Wow! look at that!" and people look really scared. The dead king's name is Hamlet and his son is named Hamlet. If they had a girl her name would be Gertrude.

In Hamlet there were girls playing boys' parts. So in the original version, Laertes is a boy, but Elizabeth Laidlaw was not playing a boy; she was playing a girl, so they just changed it. I thought that was a cool choice because it made it seem more like it was their own version. Ophelia (Brittany Burch) and Laertes wouldn't have the same relationship with each other if one of them was a boy and one of them was a girl because if there is a girl and girl they both think about the same things because they are both girls. Polonia (Lily Mojekwu) is usually not named Polonia. It is usually Polonius, so it sounds like a boy's name, but in this version it was a girl. Polonia is supposed to be annoying but hilarious and I think Lily Mojekwu did a great job in expressing that. I felt bad for Polonia because she got stabbed because Hamlet thought that she was the king, but she double wasn't. She kept interrupting Ophelia and Laertes while they were walking away. She would say things like "Don't express your passion too much," then they would have to keep stopping and turn and listen and while they were walking away she would keep cutting them off. I thought that was really funny. Rosencrantz (Jillian Rafa) and Guildenstern (Sara Gorsky) were beheaded. After you see this play, you don't think Hamlet is a very nice person because he kills his friends--not directly, but he has them killed. They are working for the King (Jeff Christian) but they don't know he is evil. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern think that Hamlet is going insane and they are trying to help him so he can just get all this insaneness over with.

In Hamlet there are these players (Josh Zagoren, Danny Taylor, Noah Simon, Matt Kahler, and Nadia Daniels Moehle) who are going to put on a play for Hamlet. But the players are not dressed in nice tights. They are dressed in shirts with peace signs and tie-dyed with bandanas around their heads. And then they were singing a song that went, "Stop, look, what's that sound, everybody just turn around." Or something along the lines of that. I thought it was really funny to think of the players as hippies with sunglasses and all. And then they put on a play about Hamlet's father's death which didn't give a very soothing effect to his stepfather.

When they were performing the play, the players didn't talk in pretty voices; they still sounded like hippies like they did before. Except for the Queen (Danny Taylor), because he was the best actor. I don't know how Queen Gertrude (Christy Arrington) felt about a guy playing her that didn't look at all like her. Queen Gertrude loves her husband who was also her other husband's brother but actually killed his brother so he could marry the queen, have a lot of money, and be the king. She loves her son Hamlet, but I don't know if he loves her because of their hasty marriage.

Hamlet (Shane Kenyon) is the biggest role in Hamlet because his name is in the title; it is the whole entire title. When you go, you are expecting it to be sad and Hamlet is supposed to be really serious, but then he is also very funny, like when the players come in, then Hamlet is tapping his foot because they are playing some catchy music. In the the graveyard scene, The gravedigger (Noah Simon) was saying insulting things about Hamlet because he didn't know that the person he was talking to was Hamlet. He said "oh he is crazy and gone off to England," something like that. I thought the graveyard scene was really funny because of how Hamlet reacted to the gravedigger when he said "He's so crazy, and I'm glad he's never coming back." He was like, "I'm glad too that he's never coming back, but I'm actually right here." He doesn't say that out loud, it is just how he looks. He's just a regular guy coming in to look at graves in a castle. Who does that? The prince! Not somebody outside of the Denmark castle! I don't know why the alas poor Yorrick speech didn't give the gravedigger a clue that he was the prince.

When Ophelia went mad, she sang this creepy song, which I don't dare repeat. It is so scary. She seemed like the craziest person in the world. I don't mean she is actually a crazy person; she is a very nice girl. I mean she did a good job acting like a crazy person.

The last scene has Laertes and Hamlet fighting. They are fighting because Hamlet killed her mother by accident and that made Ophelia go crazy and fall off the tree which made her drown. If Ophelia wasn't crazy she might have had the sense to try to swim out. I thought the last fight was very realistic because everybody did actual fighting moves and didn't just do made-up fighting moves. It made you feel scared for Hamlet and Laertes. All the people that you like die, except for three people: the two policemen and Horatio. And that's why it is called a tragedy.

I almost didn't get to see Much Ado about Nothing because it rained. All day! And the actors who wanted to give the audience a performance that night had to bail out all the water. The whole entire woods was a swimming pool. Then they put on some mulch so we could sit on it. The play is about a girl named Beatrice (Elizabeth Laidlaw) and her cousin named Hero (Jillian Rafa) and a boy named Benedick (Scott Cummins) and another boy named Claudio (Dennis William Grimes). Each boy has a girl; Claudio's girlfriend is Hero and Beatrice's enemy is Benedick, but they actually turn out liking each other.

The first scene didn't include everybody bathing in a weird funny way, which happens in the movie. Everybody lined up in their best clothes. I thought this was a better way to express that they were excited than taking a big bath. It also started with the song "Hey, Nonny Nonny." I think it is a very pretty song, but you can make it a jazz song like they did in this play. I thought it was more fun because the play is pretty but also very dramatic and also a comedy.

In this show, they used a lot of audience participation. One: all the kids got masks at the beginning and went up and danced for the masquerade scene. I got to do that, and I thought it was really fun to get to go up on stage and dance. Two: Leonato (Jeff Christian) and the Prince (Matt Kahler) and Claudio were all walking through the aisle and Claudio got a chair stuck on him and the Prince stole people's beer, and Leonato came over and kissed my baby doll, and then the Prince said, "he's running for President, you better wash that baby." And I did wash that baby. I thought that was really awesomely funny to think that this guy was running for president because there were no presidents in that time. Number three: When Benedick was spying on the Prince and Claudio and they said, "Did you hear that Beatrice is madly in love with Benedick?" And then they said something about Beatrice pounding her heart and saying she'll die if Benedick doesn't love her and she'll die if he does. And then the audience participation comes in. Then Benedick picks up a beer and hides behind that, and then he picks up a chair and hides behind that. Claudio and the Prince and Leonato looked when he was carrying the chair like "Why is that chair floating?" and then he picked up a girl that was about 5 or 6 and he hid behind her and was carrying her! It was hilarious. Everybody was like, "Why is that little girl floating?" Four: and then a while later, Borachio (Shane Kenyon) kept saying "Conrad? Where are you?" And Conrad (Brittany Burch) was in a lawn chair having a beer. And then she said, "Nothing much. I'm just enjoying the show," which I thought was really funny because it is not supposed to be a show, it is supposed to be real life.

In Beatrice's scene that was like Benedick's scene where he hides behind things in the audience, she didn't hide in the audience. She hid in the background and on stage. So the first thing that she did was hear them say, "Did you hear that Benedick is madly in love with the Lady Beatrice?" And then she stumbled, she was in high heels and clung to a branch. And then her fingers slipped off the branch and then she hid behind a flowerpot. And then she came down and put on Misha's, the sound designer's, hat and went around with that on as a disguise. And I thought that was really funny because she was like "What??!! He loves me?" Beatrice and Benedick are both good at fighting each other with words. There is a slight chance that they might be hiding that they like each other. I think that they like each other but they don't know if they actually like each other or if they are actually enemies. At the beginning I don't think they make a good couple, but at the end they do.

Dogberry is a funny but a little bit smart character. Dogberry mostly doesn't know very much but he does know a few things. One, he knows how to sing; two, he knows how to give orders; and, three, he knows how to yell. I think one of the funniest things that Dogberry does is when he keeps interrupting people. And whenever he interrupts people everybody has to stop, so he is exactly like Polonia. My favorite scene that Dogberry is in is the court scene. So Borachio and Conrad were both in court because they had both been talking about Don John's (Josh Zagoren) mischievous plan with Hero. And the judge says that the lady Hero is dead and all the watchmen said "Darn!" And all the watchmen, who had fake mustaches on were mostly women except for one. And then Conrad said to Dogberry "You are an ass!" Which is a big insult. But Dogberry said, "Write that down. I am an ass. Well, the person that is supposed to be writing everything down is gone, so everybody remember, I AM AN ASS." Getting everybody to remember that you are an ass (which he really isn't an ass; he actually just doesn't remember many things) I think that is really funny to think that the most important thing for you to know in court is that a bad guy says that you are an ass. That is actually the least important thing to know. That the lady Hero is dead, that is one of the most important things to know in court.

Hero, on the night before her wedding day, Claudio "caught" her kissing and running away with another boy. But it wasn't really Hero; it was her cousin Margaret. She is already asleep when this happens. It is an important part to know that Claudio gets really mad at her for making out with another guy, and I think it is a weird idea to tell her on a completely different day than when he found out. Much ado about nothing means a bunch of hoo-ha for no particular reason. The play is called Much Ado about Nothing because there is a bunch of hoo-ha for no particular reason about Hero kissing Borrachio.

People who would like these shows are people who like big fight scenes, girls playing boys, and Noah Simon being the hilariousest Dogberry in the world. It is too late to see them this year, but you should see what they are going to do next year!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review of Barrel of Monkey's That's Weird, Abuelita

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called, That's Weird, Abuelita. This show was in Spanish, English, and also mimed. You will enjoy this show if you know Spanish, English, or neither of them. I think people will like the show because it is really funny. I think the Barrel of Monkeys respect children in a way that helps them learn how to write plays and get into a theater world. It is one of my favorite theater companies because they do stories that are funny and they don't just say "Oh, I did such a great job with this." They thank the kids for helping them do such a good performance.

There was one short little play called "The Big Bully." It was about people in court trying to figure out who the big bully was. So, the beginning was an Ant running with an enormous peanut, and then everybody has to find out who made the Ant trip, and they find out who made the Ant trip, and the person who made the Ant fall is...the Ant. Not directly, because he stole the peanut from the human and that causes a series of unfortunate events. I liked it because I thought it was creative that they thought about different things that happened in different seasons and put them all in the same place at the same time. I liked how they had a human, because it is kind of funny to think of a human talking to a balloon or an ant. It is kind of like Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears or Because a Little Bug Went Ka-choo because it was a series of disasters. Sometimes they can be funny disasters, like a giant peanut being lost. Sometimes they can be terrible disasters, like baby owls falling out of nests and dying. I prefer the funny disasters, not the sad disasters, so that's why I like this better than Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears.

I liked "Me and My Cat at Six Flags" because it was fuhlarious. So, the cat and the girl go to Six Flags and go on the roller coaster. Everybody is screaming except for the cat. The cat is not screaming at all; he's going side to back to forward. He has a very serious expression, like, the is the most boring ride ever. They usually do this in That's Weird, Grandma too. Abuelita means grandma in Spanish. It was the exact same scene except that when the people came to look at the cat, some of them were saying Spanish words.

One of my favorite pieces was called "Untitled/Rite in Space." It was about this magician who accidentally sent a girl into space. Then you could hear her voice from backstage going, "Help me." Then another guy said, "Do it to me now," and he kept doing funny things, just being there in a meditating position or a ballet position. You expect him to be gone, but he is still there every time. I liked this because I thought it was really funny and it mostly didn't have words.

I think "The Grandpa Who Makes Piñatas" was really funny because Oscar went up and down with his feet and his arms; basically his whole body was going up and down. I thought it was cool that they used cardboard word bubbles because it was like it was a comic book. The grandpa came in and gave Oscar the scissors and the cat got a haircut. Then the cat took the scissors and gave Oscar a haircut. I thought it was kinda funny for a cat to give a human a haircut.

I thought "The Bad Dancer" was really good because in "The Bad Dancer" three girls went up in the ballet class and then they did some dancing to a very slow song which was very easy. And then two boys and the bad dancer went up, and they changed the music to the Russian dance from the Nutcracker. And then the boys were doing it, and then she decided to go along, but she didn't go along at all. She punched people in the nose and in the face and in the eye while we she was dancing. I kind of like slapstick sometimes. I don't like people dying and then that's funny; I kind of think it is funny when people are not actually getting hurt but it looks like it. That character was really a bad dancer. Not the actual actress. I have never seen her dance, but I suspect that she is not actually a terrible dancer.

"El Oso y el Fantasma" was a little confusing to me because I am not very good at Spanish. I thought the ghost and the bear were friends, but their friendship was kind of ending, so the bear wanted to eat cake with him. But then he got so angry and threw the honey at him. I am right about the honey, but I am not right about the friends. They are actually enemies. Then I read the actual story and they are actually enemies. You should read the script first in whatever your first language is, so then you will understand everything better. Like if you want to know why women in France just wear bottoms at the beach. You might not really understand it at first, but then you do understand it later because they are a different culture. Sometimes it is fun figuring out a mystery in a play or on a vacation. If you want it to be a mystery, you should not read it first. I didn't know that this piece was going to be a mystery, but then I solved it and it was fun.

I think this show should be for ages 2 and up because Barrel of Monkeys is for all ages. It shouldn't be for under 2 because of "I Believe it is Disgusting." In that they talk about how they hate diapers and kids like one-year-olds really love diapers. Then all the one-year-olds that came to see it will all gang up on those actors and have a baby fight, which is a poke, which doesn't hurt very much at all. Then all the actors would get scratched with baby scratches. So I would play it safe. If you did take a one-year-old to this show, then their feelings would be hurt because they say, "I believe we should not have babies."

People who would like this show are people who like monkeys, being sent into space, and Six Flags. People should see this show because it is fuhlarious and it is for people who know Spanish and English. And people who just know English can learn Spanish and vice versa.








Monday, June 25, 2012

Review of B----, I'll Cut You at Chicago Women's Funny Festival

Once upon a time, I went to a show and it was called, and I cannot tell you what the name is because the first word is the B-word. So the whole thing is B----, I'll Cut You. I think I know why Monique Madrid used the B-word--because she is supposed to be a sexy, weird, hair-cutting lady named Monica Barcelona. And the "I'll cut you" part is supposed to be not "I'll cut your head off" but "I'll cut your hair." This show is an audience-participation comedy. Some people wrote their name down on a list ,and then two people get to come up on stage and get a hairdo or get their makeup done. I thought it was fun because all the audience felt like they were in the actual show.

Monica Barcelona has a weird hairdo, like they are like big puffy ponytails, only not just big but enormous big puffy ponytails, only not just enormous but quizillion-wizillion-normous. They're just really big. They are bigger than her head. P.S. they are not bigger than the universe. It is funny because she is supposed to be weird and that means she might have a weird taste and then she will give herself a weird taste of a hairdo.

This is not a touching play. If you only like dramas, then you would hate this play with all your heart and never want to see Monique and Erica Elam again because they are fuhlarious. (And if you also go to Monique's house to see her husband, you will also be disappointed because he is hilarious as well.) The whole audience has to say this little chant that goes like this, "Monica Barcelona, you is beautiful. And if Monica Barcelona says you is beautiful, then you is beautiful." And I thought that was a funny way to get people ready to have a haircut.

Erica plays Monica Barcelona's assistant. At the beginning, she says "I have some problems with..." and somebody has to shout out what she has a problem with. And then when somebody does that, she says, "Yes I have a problem with..." in this case, "drinking." She said, "Oh, we have lots of different things, we have water, wine, and beer." It was obvious that she had a drinking problem if they only had water, wine and beer, because obviously two of them were her idea.

One of the people from the audience who was getting a haircut was dancing with Monica Barcelona instead of his "girlfriend."  His girlfriend was played by Erica.  But instead of just dancing with her he danced sexy and romantic with her which is not very nice to do in front of your girlfriend.  And then Monica Barcelona did not think that was very nice, and I cannot blame her even though she is very weird.  She just said "Why are you dancing with me instead of your pretty girlfriend that you are planning to marry," or something along the lines of that.  It showed you that she gives away secrets and she is not very nice to her customers and it makes it funnier because if someone is kind of mean to someone in a play or in a cartoon it can be funny.  Kind of like slapstick.  This wasn't slapstick, it was like, instead of hitting them, hurting them in the heart.   It wouldn't be funny in real life because you would feel sorry for that person.  But since it is just a play, people don't feel sorry because it isn't in real life.

People that would like this show are people that would like audience participation, crazy hairdos, and little chants.  I think this show is really fun for lots of different people who have good taste. Ada Barcelona, you is beautiful.  And if Ada Barcelona says you is beautiful, then you is beautiful. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review of The Hypocrites' Romeo Juliet at Chopin Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Romeo Juliet. And it was about Romeo and Juliet, some of the famousest Shakespeare characters. As you can see, because the title is different, it is not just plain old Romeo and Juliet. It is a shorter and funnier version. I think Sean Graney, the director and writer, wanted the actors to get to do stuff that they wanted to do and not just be directed around all the time. He let them choose what the set looked like and what would be easiest to move around in. He put an opera and play together, only he took out the singing, and shortened them both up, and then he added the middle lines by himself, and then he would mix the different lines up, and then, voila, you have a script. I think the actors might change the script every night for different audiences and what they liked and stuff. This show is touching, funny, and makes the audience feel like they are actually in Romeo and Juliet's world.

At the beginning the audience would go into this little door and have tea and make a love token to put on the love wall. I felt like it really was telling you to enjoy yourself and that this would be an awesome play. And the attendants/actors were very nice. It made you know that this is only a play and when they die and have sword fights and kill themselves that is not actually going to happen. But I still felt like this is scary, and I was so involved, but when I got too scared I would remember those nice things that they said to the audience in the tea room.

I thought the scene where Tybalt (Lindsey Gavel) dies is a very cool scene. His name is the prince of cats, but since Tybalt was played by a girl it should be the princess of cats. It is very interesting to see a girl talk in a man's voice and do manly things. It makes you think, this person has good acting skills and she knows how to act like a man. Another of my favorite parts where a woman is playing a man is the part with Paris (Tien Doman) when Paris was jumping up and down and was going to give Juliet's father (Zeke Sulkes) a big hug, but then she's like "No, no. Men shake. Manly shake." It is funny to be a woman and you are pretending to be a boy and since you don't know how men talk to each other in an affectionate way, when she does it she's like, "no...manly shake." Sometimes in Shakespeare's stories women dress up as men to fight, get what they want, or find the perfect match for themselves, and I think that is one of the reasons why they cast Lindsey and Tien as boys. But the boys did not play girls in this play because they already had two women actresses and there are only three women's parts and they took out one of the women's parts.

I liked the romance scene. Some kids might think it was funny or gross. I thought it was both because almost the whole time people were kissing in the background and that is funny but weird. In the front Romeo (Walter Briggs) and Juliet (Lindsey Gavel) are talking about romance and how they are going to get married and stuff like that. I call it the romance scene because it is mostly romance. This is based on the balcony scene. It is the most famous scene from Romeo and Juliet. But in this play, Juliet said most of Romeo's lines, like "soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Romeo is the sun." But usually it is "soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun." By doing this, it shows you that a woman can talk romantically to a man and not just the other way around.

I thought the Nurse (Tien Doman) was sweeter than I usually remember in the usual version. This is because she wasn't just the Nurse; she was Friar Nurse because Sean Graney mixed Friar Lawrence with the Nurse. So she gave the special ointment to Juliet and told Juliet's father that she was "D-E-A-D." When I say she is sweeter than I remember, this is a pun. That's why Juliet called her her "honey nurse."

Mercutio (Zeke Sulkes) seems to like Romeo more than he usually does. I am not sure that he like likes Romeo, but he likes him more than he usually does because he says "I love you," and sometimes that means "I want to marry you" and sometimes it means, "You are a good friend to me." He gets a big death scene where Romeo, to stop the pain, has to kill Mercutio, which is not the usual way of doing it in the Shakespeare play. And he gets killed later. Usually he gets killed in the middle of the play, but this play he gets killed right before Romeo and Juliet die. But also Paris dies and he says "A plague to both your houses," which is usually Mercutio's line, and then Mercutio says, "She's stealing my life and she stole my lines too!" which I thought was fuh-larious. I liked having Mercutio around longer because it is usually a big bummer that he dies right in the middle of the show because you still want more of his hilarity and sarcasm.

I thought the death scene was sad but also funny because Mercutio said some funny lines that I talked about in the last paragraph. Romeo says that the poison is quick, but actually it takes him about 5 minutes to actually die. We get to see him talk to Juliet and be like, "I'm already dying and she is waking up. This is not working out well." And then, instead of Juliet just stabbing herself, she says a line from the balcony scene which is "Parting is such sweet sorrow," and then she stabs herself. I think they did that to make it be more sad and scary. She says "parting is such sweet sorrow" which also can mean "dying is such sweet sorrow." Sweet sorrow means bittersweet. If you want to be with the person that's dead, then it can be happy for you. It is a little silly to do that, so I'm never going to do that, because it is really weird. Shakespeare isn't weird, but killing themselves is weird, but not ha ha weird. It is a sad kind of weird.

People that would like this show are people that like Shakespeare, bittersweet things, and people stealing lines. I think this show should be for ages 7 and up. I liked this show because you can be involved in the show by peeling oranges and having tea. It is funny and sad, both in the same play.

Photos: Ryan Bourque