Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ada Grey's Top Ten of 2013

It has been a great year for me reviewing shows. I reviewed twice as many shows as last year! There are so many shows that I loved that did not make it on the list. I really hope that next year I can see even more shows. I want to thank all the theater people in Chicago for making Chicago a great place for theater!

Here are my top ten shows in alphabetical order:

12 Nights (The Hypocrites): "People who would like this show are people who like Shakespeare, rainbows, and mix tapes."

Big Love (Strawdog Theatre Company): "People who would like this show are people who like being free, being in love, and flip-up sunglasses."

Bo Thomas and the Case of the Sky Pirates (Babes with Blades): "People who would like this show are people who like: mysteries, complicated secretaries, and evil Greek ladies."

Bud, Not Buddy (Chicago Children's Theatre): "People who would like this show are people who like jazz music, love and family, and Sleepy La Bone."

The Crownless King (The House Theatre of Chicago): "People who would like this show are people who like dragons, storytellers, hammers, and ear trumpets."

Great Expectations (Strawdog Theatre Company): "People who would like this show are people who like Dickens, larks, and somersaulting babies."

Lil'Women: A Rap Musical (Nobody's Sweetheart Productions at Chicago Fringe Festival): "People who would like this show are people who like rapping, ill-spittin' lil' women, and tricky high fives."

The Mikado (The Hypocrites): "People who would like this show are people who like kissing people on the head with two fingers, fish (because there are lots of good fish in the sea), and sassy maid-ens."

To Master the Art (TimeLine Theatre Company): "People who would like this show are people who like food, France, and fun!"

Wicked (Broadway in Chicago): "People who would like this show are people who like friendship, flying monkeys, and awesome Glinda squeals."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Review of The Strange Tree Group's The Dead Prince at DCASE Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Dead Prince. It sounds sort of like a horror show, but it is not. It is a hilarious musical. It was written by Emily Schwartz and it was directed by Paul S. Holmquist. It is about a Princess named Sara (Delia Baseman when I saw it, but usually Ann Sonneville) and a man named Will (Zachary Sigelko) and they are going to find the Princess's true love (Scott Cupper), but then they find out he's dead and that is not such good news. And there was this magic mirror named Maldorf (Michael Thomas Downey) who told them the Prince was dead and they have to take him along for directions. I think that this show is a really great show; it is fun but also scary and also sweet.

I really liked "The Bat Song." I thought it was really funny because all of them were just singing, "This is the song about all the bats" or something along the lines of that. And then they were using bat puppets and me and my dad and mom were going hysterical. It was really funny because they were just saying that and every single person was hiding under a blanket or something and bats were hovering over their heads. I think that the bat puppets (designed by Noah Ginex and Sarah Scanlon) were really cool but not really realistic either. I think they made them not super realistic because then it makes you feel more like you are in a fairy tale.

I really liked the character Princess Sara because she wasn't just like (Read this in a refined voice.) "I am a princess! You have to do everything…for ME!" I think that Princess Sara was a very cool princess, how she was looking for her true love instead of asking other people to do it for her or just waiting for her prince. Her true love was not actually the Dead Prince, it was Will who was a minstrel and was standing right in front of her and helping her through this entire journey. I think that Delia who had stepped in at the last moment did a really good job playing the part with a script in her hand. But I think that Ann would have been great too. I think that Delia did a really good job designing the costumes as well. My favorite costume I think was the Princess's costume. I think it was a really good idea to use ribbons for the blood when Diggs (Cory Aiello) gets his arm chopped off.

I really liked the mirror Maldorf. I thought that he was really really funny. When Sara was talking, he was in the background moving his arms and doing explosion sounds like boom shish shish boom. That was so funny because it wasn't so over the top that it wasn't funny; it was perfect on the funny chart. There was another cool magic character which was the old lady, otherwise known as Oh, Death (Amber Vaughn Robinson) who talked in a really weird way and I'm thinking about it and I am laughing. There was this time when Death was talking to Maldorf after she had taken some of his friends. I liked this because it was very tense and you didn't know if he was going to get back his friends or not. I think they did a really great job putting the characters that were usually funny into a suspenseful scene.


There was a thief who fell in love with somebody he was robbing and their names were Leopold (Dan Behrendt) and Tasha (Kate Nawrocki). But then the farmer who he was robbing got really angry because the thief was smooching his daughter. And they learned that it is better to be in love and not to just think that somebody is sexy. I really liked the farmer's daughter because she was very tough and I like tough girls. I know that she was tough because she took off Diggs' arm. I think that these characters are really awesome because they are not like any characters I usually see in a musical or fairy tale.

The Dead Prince was a really funny character. One of my favorite times was when he sat up and he grabbed the mandolin and started to play a really romantic song and then he fell over and said, "Oh no." That was really funny because you didn't know he was going to fall over and then he says "Oh no" and he says it in a very princely voice and then he has to get up again. Getting up again involves a lot of work. There was another really funny part that the Dead Prince did; when they were riding, he was asking about all the princely things to do. And since Princess Sara said hunting was princely, he said something along the lines of "Let's go out and shoot things together then."

People who would like this show are people who like tough girls, do-it-yourself princesses, and magic mirrors pretending to explode. I think this show should be for ages 8 and up. Some 7 year-olds might not be able to handle it but a lot of them could. This show closes this Sunday so you should go see it as fast as possible because it is amazing and I don't want anyone to miss this great experience.


Photos: Emily Schwartz

Monday, December 16, 2013

Review of The Merry Wives of Windsor at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Merry Wives of Windsor. It was written by William Shakespeare and it was directed by Barbara Gaines. It was about a man named Falstaff (Scott Jaeck) who really liked the ladies, well, he wants money but he also wants to seduce them. He also likes to drink and eat. It is also about Master Ford (Ross Lehman) who thinks that Mistress Ford (Heidi Kettenring) is having an affair with Sir John Falstaff. But Mistress Ford has a friend, Mistress Page (Kelli Fox) who wants to make their husbands (Lehman and Kevin Gudahl) be embarrassed, and also Sir John Falstaff. It is about romance, wanting something that you can't have, and tricky wives of Windsor. This is a really good play. I recommend it to anybody who likes Shakespeare.

This setting was not in Elizabethan times and it was not in the time that is happening right now. It was in the middle, in the 1940s. You can tell because of the costumes and the set. Sir John Falstaff was in the army during World War II; that is important because he is still wearing an army uniform to impress ladies. He could have fought bravely, but it is sort of unlikely because he doesn't seem to be the kind of person who would put his life in danger. Because the war is over, the wives can play pranks. During the war they would have hid in cellars and have been working at the Red Cross. You could also tell it was the 1940s because of the music they played. Like whenever two people fell in love or were being cheesy they sang a song from that time.

I thought that it was really awesome how they had actual dogs be in the show. I thought that was really awesome because the dogs were so cute and they were really actually interacting with the story. Good job, dogs! One of my favorite moments that happened with the dogs was the chase scene and how the dogs just followed along in different ways. I really liked the dog that was on the poster. I got to pet it afterwards and it was super fluffy.

The part where the Merry Wives were trying to get Falstaff in the basket was really funny because they were like screaming at him hatefully and then they would put in the clothes lovingly, and then they would toss them all in, and then they would put them in lovingly. I really liked the Merry Wives because they were really funny and they always wanted to play tricks on men. They are clever. That tells us that women are cool. Playing tricks makes them have more fun than just telling their husbands to stop or to do something. There was this part where Mistress Ford was talking to Falstaff and was hissing in her words because that was supposed to make Mistress Page come. And Mistress Page didn't comes, so Mistress Ford was like, "You are the ssssssweetest, John Falsssssstaff." I thought that that was really funny because you knew what she was trying to do.

I liked the part where Sir John Falstaff was in the tub and he dropped his soap in the tub and then he said "Ooops" and Dolores (Amy Montgomery) just walked away. I thought that was really funny because she didn't fall for that. She was like, "Nobody's going to get your soap, especially not me." I think that she was really good at making herself sassy. The bath wasn't like a bathtub; it was like a tub of water in a barn. And it seemed like he was comfortable in the barn, but I don't think I would be.

I really liked the scene where Master Ford took all his friends to his house so then they could see that his wife
was having an affair. It was hilarious because when he came in, he is like, "Set down the basket!" And he's like " everybody prepare to be amazed." And then he opened up the basket and there was nobody in there. And he kept ripping out different kinds of clothing and sheets. At little points he would just pause and pull out underpants. If Falstaff was in there, he would have gotten to him right away because he is a very big man, and he is a grown man as well. That is probably one of the funniest parts of Merry Wives of Windsor.

Anne Page (Tiffany Yvonne Cox) was a very pretty girl who was the daughter of Mistress Page. Her dilemma is that there are a lot of men who want to marry her but she is only in love with one. The men are Dr. Caius (Greg Vinkler) who is a French doctor who likes dogs, Slender (Steven Sutcliffe) who is a really weird guy who likes to sing "You Are My Sunshine," and Fenton (Matt Mueller) who she was actually in love with and he was from the Air Force. I liked the part where Slender sang "You Are My Sunshine" and Anne Page was laughing behind the flowers he had given to her. There was another song where he did the splits at the end but failed. I thought that that was really funny because he just fell over.

I loved the part where Mistress Quickly (Angela Ingersoll) puts Simple (Christopher Chmelik) in the closet. It was really funny because then the doctor came and he said, "I'm going to take a walk," but then he comes back and says, "Oh, I forgot my cane" and then he goes to the closet and then you can see her facial expression go like, "Nope. Just don't find him in there. Just don't see him in there." And then the doctor says, "Why is there a stranger in my closet?" and then he is trying to get Simple and Simple is like freaking out. And he was freaking out really well; I thought that that was really funny.

People who would like this show are people who like laundry baskets, dogs, and slapstick splits. People should go see this show because it is funny and anybody who likes slapstick would love it. I don't think you really learn anything, but you enjoy it. You wouldn't want to learn anything from this; you would more just want to laugh at it. And you will!


Photos: Liz Lauren

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review of Detective Partner Hero Villain at Strawdog Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Detective Partner Hero Villain by Brett Neveu and it was directed by Gus Menary. It was about a detective (John Wilson), a hero (Sam Guinan-Nyhart), a partner (Marc Rita), and a villain (Tim Parker). It could also be about one person who was all those things. It was about a detective who was being confused because he had a very difficult case about this guy who kept hitting people who were wearing shirts of a superhero on the head with pipes and killing them. The problem of the play is trying to solve the case: who is the killer and where is the killer. But it is also about finding out what is up with the hero: why is he not saving the day? The detective finds out that he's not just the detective but that he is a partner, a hero, and a villain. There are three partners, two detectives, two heroes, and two villains. The Detective is the partner of the evil and the good and he is also the villain because he helps out the villain and he is the hero because we get to know him most. People should totally go see this. It was so amazing. The space is perfect for the show. All the actors were really great and they were perfect for their roles. It is a hard show for the mind, but it doesn't make you get angry; it is a good puzzle for your head.

I thought that the scene where the villain talked to the detective on the phone was very suspenseful. It was suspenseful because you felt like the villain could just be right outside his door or right behind him. I thought that the villain was really well-cast. He really freaked me out and I thought he was awesome. When he did his villain voice I felt like he was right behind me and could hit me over the head with that pipe. For a second you liked him because in the second scene on the phone he was acting really weird and funny. But then after he said about three lines he went back to being creepy. He was mostly pretty scary and he was basically the clue machine because he basically told the detective where he was. I thought it was funny how the detective said about the villain "His name is Super Doug, I mean Supernova." His actual name was Doug but changed his name to Supernova because it was more super-villain-like. You can't just say, "Hi, I'm Doug. You'd better run." Because it didn't sound scary, but if you say, "My name is Supernova," then they'll run.

I liked how the partner kept thinking of different metaphors that didn't really work. They didn't work because they just didn't make sense. He was trying to be super super smart but kind of failing. He was like, "imagine there are two halves of a circle and there is another half of the circle but that just has to go on top." You need somebody in a play that you just love that character because he's the comic relief. Somebody that is trying to be super smart is just super funny. The partner also had some serious parts like when he told the detective that they'd caught Supernova. I think that the person who played the partner was very awesome and amazing because he was great for the part and for a play like this he was the best comic relief ever. He has this line at the end that is really funny but I can't tell you because it would give away the ending.

So the Detective is the main character and he is serious most of the time. You feel like he is the hero because you get to follow his story most and you get to know how he is feeling and what he is thinking. You were interested in him and pitied him because he was lost throughout most of the play. He was emotionally lost because he didn't really know which was the good side and which was the bad side. He didn't want to be on the wrong side and he didn't want everybody to turn against him. I thought it was scary when the detective pulled out his gun because I knew that he was going to shoot it and he made it even more suspenseful by making it seem like he was going to kill this person and he was ready to do it. I thought that he was really perfect for this part. I thought that this actor was really amazing; he was scary but not too scary.

I thought that the hero was very funny. I really liked it when he came up to the detective and gave him a hug because superheroes don't usually give detectives hugs. He was sort of like Batman, but he is not like Batman because he is sweet and they make t-shirts of him. They make t-shirts of Batman in the real world but not in Gotham City. I thought this superhero wasn't always like (read this in a serious voice) "I'm Fantastic Phenomenon." He actually said what he wanted; he wanted to stop saving people because it was getting hard. Sam was great for this part because he seems like he could be a superhero because he is tough and knows how to do fight choreography but he doesn't seem like he can do everything in the world so that makes the complicatedness more believable.

I thought that the costumes (by Aly Renee Amidei) were really great and seemed like detective, partner, hero, and villain outfits. I really liked how the hero's outfit looked like Batman's and the mask covered part of his face. I also really liked the villain's outfit; I thought it was cool how it looked like part of his chest was exposed and was bloody. But it was actually a supernova, which is when stars burst and make a beautiful light pattern. I thought that how it looked like a bloody chest AND a supernova made it even more scary.

When you first get there you feel kind of scared. There are three reasons why you feel kind of scared. One is that there are outlines of people with blood on their heads. And two is that you have just heard that there is going to be a gunshot at some point. And three is that there is this music that was atmospherically creepy (sound by Stephen Ptacek). But then you are not scared through the whole show because there are funny things and serious things and dramatic things.

People who would like this show are people who like batman-like superheroes, supernovas, and nonsensical metaphors. This show is amazing and fun and funny but also suspenseful.

Photos: Tom McGrath

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review of A Christmas Wish at Quest Theatre Ensemble

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called A Christmas Wish and the book and lyrics were by Andrew Park, who also was the director, and the music was by Scott C. Lamps. This play was about Dasher (Andrew Behling) from Santa's sleigh team after he died and was put in a taxidermy shop with a Beaver (Vince Lonergan) whose wife had died, a Turkey (Veronica Garza) who didn't like people staring at her breast, the Goat (Kirk Osgood) who cursed the Cubs, a Bear (Kent Joseph) who wanted to run away with a girl bear (Kieran Welsh-Phillips), a Fish (Amy Stricker) that used to be a prostitute, and two pairs of Hooves (Lindsey Spencer and Welsh-Phillips) that didn't have a story. I didn't really understand what was supposed to happen to the characters because I thought the actors were really expressive but the text was really confusing for the audience. And why did it take place in a taxidermy shop? I had some ideas, but none of them really fit with the story. I expected a story about a little girl or little boy who wanted something from Santa for Christmas. It sounds like a really family-friendly thing, but when I saw it I thought it seemed more like an adult thing. It was like a children's play but with a bunch of inappropriate things stuck in. Instead of it being about the happy parts of Christmas, it was about death, sorrow, selfishness, and prostitution.

There was this song about this fish who was a prostitute and how that was her big secret and how sad she was about that. The actress did a good job singing the song, but the thing that I thought wasn't that good about the song is that it was about a fish prostitute and the dancing in the back was a little bit scary I thought because the guy Dancing John (Osgood) peeled off some of his shirt and started rubbing his bare chest in a sexy way while basically drooling. This play was literally called A Christmas Wish but it should have been called A Burlesque Fish.

"At Tom's Shop," was a song which went like this: "At Tom's Shop, feel good tonight, at Tom's feel good toniiiiight." It is catchy, but not in a good way. It is catchy in the way that you want to get it out of your head but you can't. There was another song called "The Most Annoying Song" and it was actually less annoying than some of the other songs.

I thought that the song Jane Doe (Molly LeCaptain) sang about how she was going to sue Walt Disney because she wanted her prince to come was a cool idea for song because it was funny but then also I remembered later in the car what happens to the deer in Bambi. The girl dies. And Jane Doe is a deer and girl, so I would call that a prediction that she is going to die. And the prediction was right. The thing was that it went on a little bit too long. I think that she was a very great singer and I thought that she was very good at singing high-pitched notes and being very interacting with the song.

I liked the actor who played Dasher. I thought that he was really committed to his character and wasn't just saying all the lines. And he sang this rock song about how he was going for the girl and I thought that that was really good. Santa (Kent Joseph) did not want him to get married to Jane Doe because it would mess up the team somehow. When Dasher gets to Santa he sings the song, but the thing is that Santa was acting sexy with the backup ladies and I thought that that was another reason why this shouldn't be called A Christmas Wish because it makes you feel like Santa is completely bad.

My favorite song was the song that the Turkey sang about how everyone is just staring at you like you are just a piece of meat. I liked that a lot because it wasn't about anything inappropriate; it was just about men and how men can sometimes be really annoying. It is about how men can be sexist and how women and turkeys and turkey-women should act against that. I thought the dancing and the singing was really good for this song and it seemed like everybody knew what they were doing and everybody was all together.

People who would like this show are people who like feminist Turkeys, reindeer singing rock songs, and fish prostitutes. But even if you like these things I'm not sure if you will want to go to the show because there are also a lot of strange things that are hard to understand. I don't think it was trying to be a parody. It was just trying to be its own Christmas show, but that is a Christmas show I'm not very excited to go and see.


Photos: Braxton Black

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review of American Blues Theater's It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called It's a Wonderful Life. This is a radio play of It's a Wonderful Life, the movie. This is different from just watching the movie because it is actually in color and they add live ads that they speak into the microphones that are actually for things that you can just walk out of the theater and do it, like Insomnia Cookies, probably the best cookie place on earth, right across the street from the theater. Everybody but George Bailey (Kevin R. Kelly) plays more than one part. I think that they did a very nice job of making them play completely different types of characters. It is fun to see them change characters immediately. I think this show should be for ages 6 and up. Some five years olds could see it if they are okay with a lot of romance talk.

I really liked the characters Ernie (Ian Paul Custer) and Bert (John Mohrlein). They were awesome because they were really funny. They were perfect for the parts of Ernie and Bert and I thought that it was really funny how they looked like Ernie and Bert in the movie, but also in Sesame Street. I loved how when they came on as the characters you really knew that they were Bert and Ernie because they were chatting and trying to look cool, like cab drivers and cops do. I really liked how when George and Mary (Gwendolyn Whiteside) came back from their wedding, Bert and Ernie were singing this song together and they were singing it in a really funny way. They were singing "I love you truly, my dear!"

The person who played Bert also played Clarence, which I thought was cool because cop and angel are not exactly the same thing. And he also played Mr. Potter who is the bad guy. I thought that was a cool decision to let us be able to see what that actor looks like as three completely different parts. I think that he was good at all of the different parts that he had to play even though they were so different.

I really liked the part where Uncle Billy (James Joseph) was drunk and he fell into garbage cans and he said, "I'm all right! I'm all right!" He seems like a funny, hilarious drunk. It is not always funny when people drink, but when Uncle Billy drinks he is the most hilarious drunk. When Uncle Billy loses the money you feel really sad for him because Uncle Billy is a really nice guy. Everybody was really angry with him because they thought that he had just gone out and bought a candy bar and gave them all the money because he was just stupid. But really Mr. Potter wanted everybody to think that George stole the money and was horrible.

The sound effects (by Shawn Goudie) I thought were pretty cool because they used things they actually use in radio plays. Like when they closed the door they didn't just go off stage and slam a door, they had a door that they could slam right there that was small and that people could carry. The smoking, how they actually lit a match, was really cool because you saw the light flicker and then it was gone. Even though George was just sucking on a pencil, the sound effects made it seem like he was actually smoking a cigar. There was a little bar on stage where you could see all the sound effect equipment.

The scene where George and Mary fell in love was a very nice scene I thought because they got telephone cups and were listening to Sam Wainwright (Michael Mahler) on the telephone together. That is so nice because they had to both listen so they were practically kissing and I thought that was funny because they basically fell in love by talking to someone on the phone together. Earlier in the scene, the mother (Denice Mahler) is upstairs when George comes to visit Mary. She says, "What is George Bailey doing down there?" And then Mary says, "He's making violent love to me, Mother!" Even though he is just sitting in a chair. I thought that that was really funny.

There was this part where George Bailey came home and all his kids were running around everywhere. Then there was this moment where the youngest kid said, "Excuse me!" and then he said, "Excuse you for what?" and the kid said, "I burped." I think they should have made that moment longer instead of making the lines very quick. That would have made more people laugh. The problem with adults playing little kids is that they don't seem like kids because they aren't kids. I think that the woman who played Zuzu (Denice Mahler) did a good job on whispering her line, "I want to look at my flower." But it made it funnier to have an adult be the kid because that is not what happens in the movie. I think it made it funnier instead of touching or bittersweet. That I think is okay, but I think I prefer bittersweet or touching.

People who would like this show are people who like angels, phone romance, and hilarious drunks. People should go see this show because it is funny and anybody who likes the movie would love this show. It makes you feel like you are a fancy person in the 1940s.


Photos: Johnny Knight

Friday, November 29, 2013

Review of Elf (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Elf. It was about an elf who has just found out that he is actually a human and his name was Buddy (Will Blum) and he went to go find his father (Larry Cahn) in New York. And it was also about how it doesn't really matter if you are different. You should just embrace how you are different. I thought this was a funny show and I loved how they used a lot of quotes from the movie.

I really liked the character of Jovie (Lindsay Nicole Chambers). I thought she was a great singer and also a great actress. I think she seemed like she really was mean but then when she fell in love with Buddy you felt like she had really changed. I thought that her song "Never Fall in Love" was really funny because she wasn't just saying never fall in love with anybody; she was saying, "Never fall in love…with an elf." I think the song was a very funny song, but it was sung very beautifully. There was this part where Buddy and Jovie went out for ice skating and that's when Jovie fell in love with him. I liked how the ice skating was actually roller skating. They looked like they were actually ice skating but they weren't. Jovie is an important character because she completely changes in the course of the play because of Buddy.

The scene where the Fake Santa (Erick Buckley) was putting kids on his lap was hilarious. I thought it was a good decision how the Fake Santa had a gangster accent because then you knew that he wasn't the real Santa and you knew that Buddy was right about how he wasn't the real Santa. I really liked how he said, "You don't smell like Santa. You smell like beef and cheese." I liked that so much because gangsters do sometimes smell like beef and cheese (because in movies they eat old sandwiches) and it was funny that Buddy knew how Santa smelled.

I loved the song with the fake Santa Clauses because it was really funny. They acted like they were sexy ladies because they were on these chairs and were doing all these moves like sexy ladies but they were Santa Clauses. They took off their coats but they had suspenders and shirts and pillows to make them look fat in their belly. The only other person I have seen dancing on a chair was Liza Minnelli's daughter--figuratively. I thought that the interaction between Buddy and all the Fake Santas was awesome because of one of Buddy's lines which was, "I promise I won't hurt any of you. I have been told you are fake and you just want to make children happy." And then he's like, "that was really nice of you guys."

I liked how the bond between Michael (Noah Marlowe) and Buddy kind of happened when Buddy put syrup on his noodles and you knew they were going to be friends. I think that this kid performer did a great job. He really went with all the emotions of the show and he didn't seem dull at all. Some kid performers are very robot-like, but Noah was very good. He was good because he really interacted with the other people and he didn't overact anything. And I think he was also a great singer.

This is the paragraph of the things I didn't like very much. The first thing I think is how the elves tap danced. I would have liked it better if they had gotten kids to actually tap dance instead of just using people on their knees with tap dancing sounds. I also thought that in "There Is a Santa Claus" that they should have used a shadow puppet of Santa Claus flying in his sleigh rather than just a light.

People who would like this show are people who like elves, fake Santa Clauses doing sexy-lady dances, and friendship spaghetti. People would enjoy this show with their families because it is a fun Christmas show. I think this show should be for ages 5 and up--five-year-olds that are okay with kissing and knowing that those Santas that you sit on their knee at Macy's are fake.

Photos: Amy Boyle

Monday, November 25, 2013

Review of The Hypocrite's The Mikado at Steppenwolf Garage

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Mikado. This is my second time reviewing The Mikado, but I still love it! I really love this show because you get to move around in the space and you really feel like you are part of the story. I really recommend that people see it because it is one of the best shows I have seen!

I think the space that they used this time, which is the Steppenwolf Garage, is a really nice space for the show, but I like the Chopin equally. It was different because the bar was in a different place and they didn't sell candy before. The candy I actually thought was a plus! The space was way bigger, and I thought that that was good, and I also really liked the new choreography that they could do because the space was bigger. I really liked the new placement of the actors at the end. I liked it because it used the wheel and the horse.

There was a song called "Three Little Maids from School" and it was sung by the three little maids from school, Yum-Yum (Emily Casey), Pitti-Sing (Christine Stulik), and Peep-Bo (Dana Omar), who were not servants but maid-ens. They were singing about how they were very innocent. They are innocent, but they also are little bit more of tough. They don't like Ko-Ko (Robert McLean) at all because Yum-Yum wants to marry Nanki-Poo (Shawn Pfautsch). So they are tough because they have to obey Ko-Ko but they kind of sometimes don't obey him, like when he says do your apology dance, they are kind of sassy. I had never noticed this before but now I did because I am kind of sassy. Once you are a tween, you start getting sassy.

The Pooh-Bah (Matt Kahler) was always kissing people on the head with his fingers. I thought that that was really really funny because you didn't expect him to do that because it was something that was random. That is very appropriate for the Pooh-Bah because the Pooh-Bah is very random. He is random in that way that he is very fast talking and you didn't really know what he was going to say next. Matt Kahler is so funny and I think the Pooh-Bah is the perfect role for him!

I thought the song called "Tit-willow" was interesting. It was about a bird who had died because he was in love with another bird probably and it didn't work out so well. The purpose of it was to make Katisha (Pfautsch) love Ko-Ko. It works, because she says, "Oh, did you know Tit-Willow?" and he says, "Yes, I knew him very personally." It is a pretty song and it is pretty funny. These things don't usually work very well together, but in this case they do. They work because the song was kind of cheesy, so when she started sniffling it was kind of funny because it wasn't really that sad of a song.

When they were singing "There's Lots of Good Fish in the Sea" to make the lord high executioner, Ko-Ko, feel better, Nanki-Poo came and said to me, "can I have your doll?" And then I gave him Caroline, my doll. They danced her around to make Ko-Ko feel better. And it looked really weird but really funny. And when they gave it back, I was like, "Thank you!" This only happens to people who have dolls. So bring your dolls! How they took my doll shows you that the show is really free-spirited. I mean that not after opening do they say, "hey we can't play around with the show anymore." They say, "Everybody! Let's keep playing around with the show!" And when I saw it, it worked out perfectly! I think it makes it funner for the actors not to have to stick to a bunch of rules. It makes the audience feel like they are really a part of the show and it makes you feel like you are seeing a one-time thing that no one else will see.

People who would like this show are people who like kissing people on the head with two fingers, fish (because there are lots of good fish in the sea), and sassy maid-ens. If this is your kid's first show you should tell them that you cannot walk around at every single show. Everyone should go see this show immediately because it is fun and it is one of the best winter shows. I think they should bring it back next year and the year after that until they have been doing it for a hundred years. They could use different actors, but even if they are old men and old ladies, I wouldn't care!


Photos: Matthew Gregory Hollis

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review of The Nutcracker at The House Theatre of Chicago

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Nutcracker. The book was written by Jake Minton and Phillip Klapperich and it was based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffman. The music was by Kevin O'Donnell and the lyrics were by Jake Minton. I have already reviewed The Nutcracker at The House but this had different actors and they changed some of the set pieces. I think I have a different idea of the play instead of how I saw it the last time I had seen it and reviewed it. I still like it, I just have a different way of thinking about the story and magic because when I was a little kid I wanted to think that when something was sad everything would be better. And now I think that bad things just happen. There are a lot of parts in the play that are emotional and scary. There are parts that are fun and happy, but there are also parts that are suspenseful and sad. I think that it won't be as emotional for people if they are under nine years old because at nine you are starting to understand things you didn't understand before.

The first song was sung by Clara (Paige Collins) about how she wanted Christmas to come because they weren't having a Christmas party that year. They weren't having a Christmas party because Fritz (Kevin Stangler) had died and it would never be the same without him. So they weren't really thinking about Christmas coming. I thought that Paige did a great job singing this song. I thought she had the perfect voice for this song. She's not a kid, and she doesn't have a kid's voice, but she is great at playing kids as well as adults. She actually acts like a kid does, not like she's pretending that she is a kid. She's not like, "Hi! I'm a cute little kid! Whee!" Kids don't actually not understand anything. They understand if things are right and if things are wrong; they understand what is real and what is not. She shows that kids are smart and that kids shouldn't be underestimated.

There was a song called "Let's Bake Cookies" and Phoebe (Christine Mayland Perkins), who was Clara's doll, said, "Let's bake cookies!" and Monkey (Johnny Arena), said, "Not right now, Phoebe," but then Fritz, said, "Phoebe, you're a genius!" and then Phoebe said, "Everybody is good at something!" and flipped her yarn hair. I thought that that was really funny because it looks funny for a doll to flip her yarn hair. Like I said in my first review, she has a string which makes her talk, so she only has like 7 phrases she can say, but in all the places that she talks they actually make sense. I think it would have been nice if there had been more girl dolls because then there would have been more girls and then there would be 4 girls and 4 boys in the cast. I'm not saying I didn't like the person who played Hugo (Jason Grimm), but I think it would have been cool if it was a girl. I really liked how Hugo would think of his idea and his light bulb would light up and it would actually seem like he was thinking about something. It would be cool if it was a girl because nerdy girls are cool--because I am cool.

There was this part where Clara and the dolls go and find a Christmas tree to make Christmas happen. I thought that the part where the monkey helped up the girl rat (Brenda Barrie) was really funny because then they started doing this sort-of-romantic dance. It was funny because they were just in the middle of chasing and then she fell down. And it is kind of weird to see a stuffed French monkey and a talking British rat fall in love. When the boy rat (Benjamin Sprunger) got stabbed there was this sound effect that sounded like a sword going into someone's skin but then being kind of twizzled around in there. It is not a very pleasant sound to hear but you think that the rat is dead, and that would be good, but it is such a gut-wrenching sound that you don't feel happy that the rat might have been dead.

In the first scene of the second act, the rats (Barrie, Sprunger, and Karl Potthoff) came out and sang a song about the rat king and how he was coming and how everybody should have stayed home and not come to the play because he would come and get them. They didn't just say the rat king is coming; they put to mind that they were in a play and I liked that. I liked this scene because it was scary but it was also funny because they were making jokes while they were singing it. There isn't any scary stuff without touches of funny, but there is sad stuff without funny stuff. Like when Fritz dies at the beginning.

I really liked the puppets. I thought they were really cool and awesome because some of them were scary and some of them were funny. The scary ones were the rats. They were scary because they were giant and they swarmed around and their eyes glowed red. The other one is a teddy bear called Teddy (Sprunger). It was Fritz's teddy bear which had been lost in the snow. The bear was a funny thing because he had a lot of funny lines and he had a cowboy hat. It was cool because you could see the person doing the puppet behind it but he also did the voice. I thought that was a good idea because it wouldn't be the same if it was just someone in a bear costume. Somebody in a bear costume wouldn't be able to be as funny because his speaking would be muffled. I think the puppet also looks more like a toy than a person could have.

I saw it first when I was six and now I am nine, so I have a different opinion about magic and how magic is not real. It changes my take on the story because I think about sadness and grief differently. When I first saw the burying of the nutcracker, I thought, "I don't want to talk about that. It is too sad." So I said that the nutcracker was going to come back to life again. Because he did it once he could do it again. But now I know that is not going to happen because they bury him. The story is now to me is about Clara really knowing that her brother is dead. It is important because it is just not true that Fritz is still alive and you shouldn't just lie to yourself because it is bad for you. At the end, after they bury the nutcracker, they are happy still because the tree starts growing, and that is bittersweet. Before I was like, "Oh the tree is growing up. Cool!" But this time I was like, "Whoa. That's emotional." I think that this play is amazing because you can find different ways to experience the play depending on how old you are and how your brain develops.

People who would like this show are people who like robots with light bulbs, Christmas, and romance between monkeys and rats. People should go see this show because it is funny and also very bittersweet and very positive about Christmas. If you are a rat, this show would be poison to you. If you are not a rat, it would be joy to you!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. It was directed by Jeff Frank and the script was adapted by Robert Penola from the tv special. It is about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and how he is left out of everything by his friends and how he wants to be like the other reindeer, but then he realizes that he's special. It has a lesson, which is to accept yourself the way that you are. I thought that this play was fun and I think that many people would enjoy themselves if they came to it.

I thought that the set and costumes (designed by Brandon Kirkham) were really cool because they looked a lot like what the tv show looked like. I thought that the set was really awesome because the set actually came apart and looked like icebergs. I also thought that how Yukon Cornelius (Michael Accardo) slid down the ice into the cave of the Abominable Snowman was cool because you were scared for Yukon Cornelius but it was cool how you got to see him slide down into the cave instead of just going into the cave. I thought that the costumes were really awesome because they looked a lot like the tv show. They looked animated even though you knew there was a person inside them. Like Rudolph (Cody J. Bolithon) looked exactly like Rudolph from the show. And they made that happen by making the giant eyes like Rudolph has in the tv show. And he had hooves that looked like clay like the ones in the tv show.

Sometimes you don't want it to be like the tv show. I thought that the elves' dance was kind of cheesy. It was cheesy because they seemed like they knew what they were doing, but their movements were just so "hey! hey! I'm an elf! yay!" which is not like the tv show. The tv show was less cheesy because it was mostly playing instruments. I thought that the Boss Elf (Jason Bowen) was a little bit pushy with the craziness, meaning that his own behavior was crazier than I thought it should have been. I think that what made the tv show less wacky was that you couldn't see what the voice actors looked like when they were doing their parts and since it was animation their faces were more blank. Their faces didn't look crazy even if their voices were crazy.

There were two performers that I think did an amazing job. They were Sam the Snowman (Sean Patrick Fawcett) and Clarice (Avery Moss). Sam the Snowman was really awesome because he was expressive of the snowman's feelings and how he felt about the story. I liked how he used the costume and he seemed to glide around the stage. I was enjoying him a lot when he was doing the songs because he was good at singing and good at doing the dancing even though it was probably hard for him to get around in that costume. I thought that Clarice did a very good job singing. I think her performance made me like Clarice a bunch because she is not mean to Rudolph and this actress made the character even more lovable.

I thought that the puppets were very cute and they all reminded me of cute stuffed animals and toys I'd seen in store windows. I really liked the train puppet (Parker Guidry) because its mouth really moved and when he said "I have square wheels," at that moment you were basically noticing that he had square wheels. I also really liked the plane toy because the puppeteer could turn its face so it looked happy and then you could turn a knob on the back and its mouth would flip so it looked sad. I thought that the rabbits were very cute because of everything about them. Their teeth were very cute and they had fluffy tails. When they hopped around it was so cute. I thought the misfit toys and the animals not being played by humans but being played by puppets was a great idea because it wouldn't feel the same if they were people because of the size and these puppets looked so much like actual toys because they basically were actual toys. The biggest puppet was the Abominable Snowman. That puppet was my favorite puppet because it was big, awesome, and it made you love the Abominable Snowman. The little kids were probably terrified of him, just at first, because he wasn't scary after he had taken Yukon Cornelius to his dungeon. Little kids will love him after he becomes good because he wasn't all that scary to begin with because he was a puppet.

People who would like this show are people who like red noses, the tv show, and Abominable Snowmen. I think this show is fine for all ages. This isn't my favorite Christmas show, but I think big fans of the tv show would love seeing this.


Photos: Tom McGrath

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review of The Peacock at Jackalope Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Peacock. It was written by Calamity West and directed by Marti Lyons. It is about how this man, Calvin (Tim Martin) and this woman, Nan (AJ Ware), are angry at each other because they are both writers and they are in competition basically. One of them got to go first because she's the better writer and he got really angry about that. It is about power and how sometimes power can go from giant to small; sometimes you can be the best in the class but then people find out about something and people think you are bad. That happened to the main character, Nan. A woman is not less powerful than a man, but that is what some people think and in this play all the boys think that, except for the Professor (Ed Dzialo). This play is about how a woman writer overcomes her fears and gets back at the boys for trying to hurt her.

There was a scene that happened in a library. I thought it was cool how the set (by John Wilson)was bookshelves and tables and chalkboards. In this scene part of the set comes out of the wall to be a small bookshelf. I though that was really cool because it was kind of unexpected that they would pull out the wall and roll it over to another place. I found the scene in the library very interesting because in this scene every single one of the boys in the class came to talk to Nan. It is kind of like "Park Bench." Park Bench is an improv game where one person sits on a chair and then another person sits on another chair and they try to find a conversation and then they have to make up a reason that they have to leave. You learn that Nan is very strict and stubborn. Those are kind of good things to be, and here they are necessary things to be, and she is not always stern and stubborn. It is a good idea, especially when people are trying to be mean to you, to be stern. I didn't like how Henry (Nate Whelden) wasn't nice to Nan in the library. He just wanted her to like him and that is the only reason he wanted her to read Shakespeare's sonnets. If he actually were nice, he would have told her to read them because he liked them. The scene was supposed to show us that all the boys were jerks.

The closet scene was the most interesting scene but also the most inappropriate scene for me. It was inappropriate because they quoted Henry Miller, the most horribly inappropriate writer who ever lived on earth, at least that is my opinion based on one line from him that I heard. My mom did not know about this, I just want to tell you. I think this was the most interesting scene because they talked about a lot of stuff which I did not understand, which probably meant it was interesting. Just because I was a kid. I'm not saying nobody else will understand it. I understood that they were talking about Nan in a mean way. I think these men think that women are just things that you should just be in love with and that is the only reason they should be there. William (Andrew Swanson) left the second that Nan got into the room. That shows us that he was embarrassed that he used to be in love with Nan. I thought that that was kind of understandable; I might be embarrassed if my ex-girlfriend walked into the room and I had been talking about her rudely.

At the end Nan comes back to the class, after Calvin beats her up, with another story, called "The Peacock" instead of "The Peacock Story," which was a story by Calvin about a woman who killed herself. But we don't get to hear Nan's story. This is what I think it was: "Once upon a time there was a girl who was being very mistreated by these boys just because she was a girl and they didn't want her in their club. They had already hurt another woman but she wasn't going to let that happen to her." The other woman that they hurt was another girl in their class who had committed suicide. You know it was their fault because they don't really seem sorry that she had died. I liked it when Eugene (Jack Miggins) said, "You trust us, Nan, don't you?" Because it kind of showed that he was changing sides.

People who would like this show are people who like stories about writers and how writers live their lives. People should go see this show because it is feminist and that is something we need in our culture. We need to have no sexist people in the world.

Photos: Alex Hand

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review of Great Expectations at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It was directed by Jason Gerace and it was adapted Gale Childs Daly. It's about a boy named Pip (Mike Tepeli) who falls in love with a girl named Estella (Amanda Drinkall) who was being taken care of by a woman named Miss Havisham (Megan Kohl). It's about Pip's life and how he gets through obstacles and how sadness overcomes him and how he overcomes sadness. It is called Great Expectations because Pip is supposed to inherit a lot of money and that is what is greatly expected but also because people have great expectations for him, that means that they expect good things from him. I really loved this play. I thought it was really well adapted. It was a really good experience because, even though I knew the book, it was fun to see it in this brand-new way. This show was really awesome. I think this show is one of my favorite shows.

They only have 6 actors and they play many many parts. And I think that was a good decision because then you got to know the characters' relationships with the other characters better. Even if they hate each other or work for each other they are played by the same person so that shows you that these characters think differently but they are alike. Everybody is a little bit the same, so that shows you the similarities between the characters. Also the stage didn't get completely filled so you didn't feel that it was being crammed so you couldn't really understand the story. Even if the character wasn't in a scene the actor would still be on stage. They even changed on stage, which I thought was a great idea and I really liked that. I thought that it was awesome that they had live music because it makes you feel more of the emotions that the play is trying to give you. The person who played the live music on violin was Hilary Holbrook and I thought that her violin playing was very beautiful.

I think Megan Kohl did an amazing job. You don't like Miss Havisham because of what she does to Estella, but you still know she loves Pip and Estella. She can't show her love in the correct way because of the day that she was supposed to get married. She could just forget about it, but it was such a big thing for her that she can't. I really liked the scene where Miss Havisham becomes deceased and how everybody takes part in her death. When Miss Havisham gets close to the fire, she starts burning and Pip tries to get her out and he does but then the entire room starts catching on fire. The lights turn red and something awesome happens! You don't want just the lights turning red. That makes it seem less awesome, but when awesome stuff happens then everything is awesome. I'm being vague, very very vague, because I don't want to give away the surprise and horror (if you are a book-lover) that happened to us.

It was funny when Joe (John Ferrick) ended all of his letters and started them with, "What larks!" Translation: "What fun, Pip! What fun!" Joe is Pip's best friend in the entire world but Pip doesn't always act like he knows that. Joe gets married to a way younger girl whose name is Biddy (Drinkall) after Pip's sister (Kohl) who is Joe's wife dies. Mrs. Joe is not exactly a "larking" person and she raised Pip "by hand" which means that she raised him by her fist in his face. Sometimes you hate her, but when she dies you feel sorry for her. Joe shows us the dark side of Pip and he shows us the bright side of not being rich and fancy.

Kyle Gibson plays many many parts. I think that Kyle did a great job changing from a scary guy (Magwitch) to a weird guy (Pumblechook) to a calm and creepy guy (Jaggers) to a very noisy somersaulting baby (Baby Pocket) and back to scary Magwitch. My favorite moment is when Baby Pocket somersaulted over and took something from someone and somersaulted back. I also really liked when Pumblechook kept asking Pip "What's six times six, boy?" and other math questions. My favorite Jaggers moment was when he confessed that the money was not coming from Miss Havisham because it was cool because you hardly ever see a character that is creepy--but you like sort of--having to confess something to your main character.

I think that Amanda Drinkall did a great job at playing Biddy and Estella, which have not even one little similarity between them, and switching between them quickly had to be a big challenge. Estella basically gets married to the meanest man in the world, Mr. Drummle (Ferrick), instead of choosing Pip. She is very cold-hearted. She shows that she doesn't care about anybody but herself by not being nice to anybody. Biddy is a very kind-hearted girl and she is very fun and she loves Pip and loves to teach him things and very much loves to learn. She is never cold-hearted and is very sweet and kind and also an orphan. My favorite Estella moment was when she meets Pip again at the end because she is more nice and not conceited and horrible and cold-hearted. I really liked when Biddy tells Pip that Joe has married her because it is very sweet and you know that this is a happy moment.

It was hilariously funny when Herbert Pocket (John Taflan) first met Pip, when he was just standing out there and he says, "Hello! Do you want to fight?" And then he puts up his arms and fists weakly. I thought that that was really hilarious. I loved that! I thought it was maybe my favorite part of the entire play. It was so funny because he was like so excited about it and he was putting it like it was a compliment. One of my other favorite scenes was where Herbert was telling Pip not to place his napkin in his tumbler, also known as a cup. And he says it like he's being sooo polite that it's funny. And I also really liked it when Pip comes in and he says, "I love and adore Estella" and Herbert says, "I love and adore Clara!" It is so great because Herbert basically just interrupts him to say his own thing and it is so random. He's not like big complimentary, he's just like "This is my thing!"

The actor who plays Pip only plays Pip and nobody else, and this is because he is always on stage. There is no way to forget about Pip even for a little bit. It made it even more unforgettable with this actor because I think he was so good. He seemed like a kid who was not trying to be a kid. The character was expected to behave like an adult when he was a kid, so he acted like a kid trying to act like an adult. He wasn't being like "I'm a kid!" but you knew he was a kid because he was acting like a kid who couldn't be like an adult but was trying with all his might. When Pip was an adult he changed; you knew he was the same person but he changed his character from kid to adult. When he opened the book at the beginning, I thought that was really nice. It told me the play was based on books, they had books all around, and they used books as a symbol for connection. When somebody has the book in their hand it means they are connected with the story. It shows you that this is basically a book made so you can see it.

If I did a version of Great Expectations I would put in The Aged P and Miss Skiffins. These people are just in the book and not in the play. The Aged P is Wemmick's (Ferrick's) father and Miss Skiffins is his girlfriend. I like them so much because they are probably the funniest characters. I would have had Kyle play The Aged P and Megan play Miss Skiffins.

People who would like this show are people who like Dickens, larks, and somersaulting babies. I really liked how this play was really funny at a lot of moments and really sad at a lot of moments. People should go see this show because it is hilarious, touching, and one of the best plays I have ever seen. People should definitely go see this show. It is amazing!

Photos: Chris Ocken

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review of Trevor at A Red Orchid Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Trevor and it was by Nick Jones. And it was directed by Shade Murray. It was about a chimp named Trevor (Larry Grimm) who used to be in ads and t.v. shows and wants to keep doing it, but he's too old. They want cute chimpanzees. It was also about his owner named Sandra (Mierka Girten) and how she loves Trevor but she also doesn't understand everything that he says. Trevor gets angry because he doesn't have any work. He wants fame, fortune, a human wife, and a white tuxedo. That would mean he is famous and there are human girls who like him, and he is not different from humans. It is about failure and how he fails at what he really wanted. It is also about loving somebody but you know that you have to hurt them. I really liked this play. I thought it was really funny and sad and touching and awesome.

They didn't use a puppet to be the chimpanzee, they used Larry Grimm. I think that Larry Grimm was so amazing. Like how he moved around, he basically turned into an ape. Well, humans are basically apes, but we have bigger brains and don't have hair all over us that shows. I think it was a great idea because there was stuff you couldn't do if it was a puppet or an actual chimpanzee. It wouldn't be as funny if it was an actual chimp, because he couldn't talk and that tells us Trevor's actual story. The puppet could probably talk but then you wouldn't feel like it was actually Trevor because there would be someone behind him. You also thought of Trevor kind of as a human not just an ape. There was another chimpanzee whose name was Oliver (Colm O'Reilly) who was a really good friend of Trevor's. He comes to Trevor in basically his daydreams. And he talks to him about how he shouldn't knock over glasses. It was hilarious because it is not really that bad a thing to knock over a glass, but he says it like it is the most horrible thing that anybody has ever done.

Trevor was kind of in love with Morgan Fairchild (Loretta Rezos) who was a t.v. star from the 80s. She said that she wanted to marry him, but that was basically just a dream that he had. What she probably really said was, "You are such a cute monkey" in a baby voice. Trevor was always being misunderstood or was misunderstanding things people said. Like how he thought Oliver had a human wife, which is probably not true--or Oliver might even be a human and he just doesn't realize it! And he also thought the commercial he did was about water bottles or possibly paper but it was actually about accounting software. When he is filming the commercial with Morgan Fairchild, he says, "That's right, Morgan" and starts talking like a professional ad maker would do. Everyone is hearing around him oo oo ah ah oo oo ah ah, but he is actually trying to say lines that would make the product sell. It is funny because it is just that you wouldn't really think he would say something that would actually try to sell the product because he is a chimp. I thought that it was kind of sad but also really funny that Morgan Fairchild and the AD (Brandon St. Clair Saunders) were talking gibberish, which was chaitakai kaitakai chaitakai, and how you were hearing it how Trevor heard it.

I really liked the Policeman, Jim (Noah Simon). He wasn't like a really tough policeman. He likes Trevor but also kind of doesn't like him because he is kind of annoying and he is kind of like breaking the law every single day, like when he took the gun from Jim and how he drove the car. And Jim doesn't just think, "you took that car away, you are such a bad little monkey." He actually takes everything seriously. You hear about how Trevor "baptized" his baby, but Jim doesn't like him that much anymore. I thought that he was a good guy even though you were following Trevor's story and not his.

The next-door neighbor of Sandra and Trevor is Ashley (Lindsey Pearlman) who had just had a baby. How you feel about Ashley depends on whether you like Trevor or don't like Trevor. I know that he is doing the wrong thing at the end, but I feel sorry for him. He is in such a bad position. I am also kind of on Ashley's side because she wants her child to be safe and not to be getting hurt by huge monkeys.

Sandra is a really important character because she is Trevor's owner and is one of the main characters in the story. She thinks of herself as Trevor's mother even though that is basically impossible. He is still a kid to us, because he is 11, but he is a adult in chimp age. People treat him more like a baby than she does, but she treats him more like a tween or teenager. I thought that she was a really good actress because you really believed that she was struggling with how Trevor was behaving and she loved him but she was really embarrassed by him. She has to make a sad decision between Trevor and a baby at the end which I am not going to tell you about because that would be a spoiler! One of my favorite scenes was the scene where Sandra and Trevor were making chicken pot pie in the microwave. It kind of felt like me and my mom. We don't make chicken pot pie in the microwave; we write reviews. They were doing something together that they both like doing, and it showed that they loved each other very much.

People who would like this show are people who like Morgan Fairchild, white tuxedos, and chicken pot pie. I was completely jumping up and down with joy and laughing hysterically when I saw this play. It also made me feel sad and anxious. It is good to feel all those different emotions at the theater because that means the play is an amazing one.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review of Wicked at Oriental Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Wicked. It was directed by Joe Mantello and the music and lyrics were written by Stephen Schwartz and the book was written by Winnie Holzman. The play was based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. It was about the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good, also known as Elphaba (Alison Luff) and Glinda (Jenn Gambatese), from The Wizard of Oz. It was about how they weren't actually enemies; they were actually friends. And it is about how good can be bad and bad can be good. I loved this show. All of the songs were really good. I am still singing them! Wicked is a really great show; everything about it is just amazing!

"Popular" was a really good song because it is really funny and there are a lot of funny lines before it. So, basically, just lots of hilarity all through the scene. I really liked it when they both were rolled on in their beds and Elphaba only has a book and a few lamps on her side of the room and then Glinda's had a giant wall of shoes. That told me that they were completely different people and you were pretty sure that they were never ever going to like each other. At the end, after they sing "Popular," you kind of see that they might actually be able to be friends. The song is about how Glinda wants Elphaba to be popular like her. I thought that the girl who played Glinda was really good at doing funny screams and I thought that it was funny at the end when she said, "You'll be very very popular, but you won't be as popular. as. me" after Elphaba leaves. It wouldn't be funny if someone said that in real life because it would be really mean. It was like slapstick basically. If someone bonked their head without looking you wouldn't be like "Ha ha," but if it happens in a cartoon or a play, then it is funny.

I thought it was really funny how Glinda changed her name from Guh-linda to Glinda because the thing is she was trying to find a way for her to be part of this conversation that Elphaba was having with Fiyero (Curt Hansen) about how they will miss each other and how Elphaba is so sad that Doctor Dillamond (Tom Flynn) had to go away because he couldn't speak anymore. Glinda is not really moved, but she is still moved. She is not evil, but she's not great at this moment. Elphaba is really sweet and kind in this moment, but she isn't always.

There was this one song called "One Short Day," and it was about how Elphaba and Glinda had gone to the Emerald City to see the Wizard (John Davidson). I thought that it was really cool, though I did have an objection to it a little bit because there were these puppet-costumes that were like weird people with giant heads that had no arms and were really fat. I objected to that because then after that their necks started going up until they were basically giraffe height. I think that they wanted to make amazing puppets like the elephant butts in Big Fish, but I didn't like them as much as the elephant butts. I really liked all the green costumes (by Susan Hilferty) in that scene and how green and awesome they were. They were all so elaborate. They weren't just a green shirt with a green skirt; they were very big!

I also thought that when the monkeys were set free that was really cool. I really liked the music and how their makeup was really scary and awesome. I suspect that there were girl flying monkeys, but I'm not sure. I really liked the monkey wings popping out because you weren't expecting that was how they got their wings. You just thought they always had them.

I really liked the song "Defying Gravity." It is my favorite song in the entire play because it is really captivating, and I love the lyrics, and it is such a great song. It makes me feel inspired. I want to write a song like that! I really liked that song because the flying at the end was beautiful and it was a great way to end an act. It is about Elphaba wanting to be an apprentice to the Wizard, but now she wants to be evil because she hates him so much. She wants to be with Glinda and still be friends with her, but she also wants to do what she wants to do; she wants to now get her revenge on the Wizard.

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't seen the play, you should not read these next two paragraphs unless you don't care about how it is going to end (or being surprised) or unless you will never be able to see it.

I really liked how they didn't ever ever go "Well this happened, even though it has nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz." It all connected to The Wizard of Oz and sometimes it was surprising and sometimes you kind of knew who that character was going to grow up to be or why they felt the way they did in The Wizard of Oz. I was surprised when Fiyero turned into the Scarecrow. It was surprising because he wasn't brainless or anything, but he was very stupid. I don't know why Elphaba, who was really intelligent, was in love with Fiyero, and also Glinda, because she was more intelligent than he was as well. The cowardly lion was not that surprising because why else would there be a lion in class?

At the end they are talking about how because of this green bottle that the mother (Marina Lazzaretto) and the person who was having an affair with her (also known as the Wizard of Oz!) drank, that made Elphaba green. It is a really cool thing that happened at the end, and I don't want to have to leave it out of my review. In the bottle was a green potion or an alcoholic green drink. I think it made the mother fall in love with the Wizard.

People who would like this show are people who like friendship, flying monkeys, and awesome Glinda squeals. People should go see this show because it is funny and it makes you want to be able to travel to Oz and go there on vacation whenever you want. The Wizard of Oz was pretty racist because the antagonist has a different color skin, but this is basically saying, don't judge a book by its color. Just because people look different or are different doesn't mean they are a bad person. They are not just contradicting The Wizard of Oz by saying Glinda is bad and Elphaba is good. They are basically saying they are equal; they are both good people with dabs of bad.

Photos: Joan Marcus

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review of King John at Linchpin Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called King John. It was written by William Shakespeare and directed by David Fehr. I really like Shakespeare. I have been listening to his plays since I was an infant and, well, I just really like his style of writing in that he writes a lot different kinds of plays and he isn't just attached to one kind. He writes comedies; he writes dramas; he writes tragedies; he writes romances and all those great kinds of plays. King John is a history with drama and tragedy moments. I never saw King John before and I think that this one is probably my least favorite except for Taming of the Shrew. I did not like Taming of the Shrew because it was so sexist. King John just didn't really go into my brain; it was kind of more confusing than some of Shakespeare's other plays. Like Richard III is also a history but less of a tricky story. I think it should be performed, but if they made it less long, then it would be a much better play.

I had a problem with how the production wasn't really trusting Shakespeare. They didn't think their audience would understand what the actors meant, so they showed it in the most simple way possible. At the beginning of the play, there are these two brothers Philip the Bastard (David Fehr) and Robert Falconbridge (Nathan Thompson) that come in, and Robert has this chart. The chart shows us how he is the heir to his mother's land, but we already know because that is what he is telling us at that moment. I don't think they needed to change the set so much either. In between scenes there would be a long pause with noise and more noise while they were moving the set pointlessly. Shakespeare had like one set for the entire play, so his characters tell you where they are basically. Like in Much Ado about Nothing, in the party scene, everyone knows they are at a party because Leonato says, "The revelers are entering." I didn't really like it how the lords flipped the cuffs from red to blue or blue to red to show that they were changing sides of what team they are for the army. I didn't really like that because you knew that they were changing sides because they said that they were changing sides.

At the end they invited a person up on stage to be the new king, which made it seem like a show for 4 year olds. I didn't really think that that was a good idea. I would have liked an actual actor to be on stage to play his son. I would have liked that better because you would feel that he was part of the story and not a person who came out of the audience. They were trying to say that "you'll do" to be a king, but the thing is they kind of forgot about the character of his son. Someone in the audience, even if they are a great actor, won't be able to know what he is supposed to do. I found out by looking at the original script that Prince Henry is actually supposed to have some lines in that scene. Instead the people who did the adaptation gave them to another person which I think was not such a good idea because we want know who Prince Henry is.

Some of the acting I don't think was really to my taste. It was bland but sometimes they were overacting. It is a problem because being bland means that you are not putting any feeling into your role. So then when you are supposed to have a big feeling you give that feeling but a little bit too much. Some of the actors sometimes didn't seem to be thinking about the play but just reciting the lines.

I really liked the actor who played Hubert (A.J. Miller). I really liked him because he wasn't bland and he wasn't overacting. I really liked how he was always in the play. By "in the play," I mean that you see that he is really feeling the character. He was in the most scary scene where he is about to put Arthur's (Janeane Bowlware's) eyes out, and he was really good at doing that. I felt really scared for Arthur and didn't know if he would put his eyes out, or did he love him too much? And when he was about to put his eyes out, he started to cry. That told me that he didn't really want to do this, but he had to. But he didn't actually do it in the end.

The scene where Lady Constance (Kelly Lynn Hogan) was going crazy was a really cool scene. Every Shakespeare play should have a good scene where somebody is going crazy! Like in Hamlet, Ophelia is going insane. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth goes bonkers; she is trying to wash off the "blood" from killing all those people. Lady Constance is going crazy because she thinks that her little kid is going to be killed in jail. I really liked how when she was going crazy, she was so sad and it was really emotional. I really thought that it was moving that she was so wrecked. She says she is not going crazy, it is just that she is not going to see her boy for a long time. But I think that she is still going crazy.

It was scary when Arthur was about to jump off the wall. He was saying all of these things like, "I hope I won't die," and you basically know that he's going to die, so that makes it even more sad. You don't want him to die. You don't want King John to be king; you want Arthur to be king. You don't want King John to be King because he is not a good king. He is not a good king because he makes a lot of bad decisions, he wants to kill kids so he can stay king, and he also is not very nice to anybody at all, not even very much to his mother Elinor (Shawna Tucker).

People who would like this show are people who like women going crazy, scary moments where kids are about to jump off of walls, and who want to see King John and have never heard of it. This production wasn't really to my liking, but some of the scenes were very nicely written and I think that some people might like it.

Photo Credit: Colleen Iudice

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review of A Year with Frog and Toad at Chicago Children's Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called A Year with Frog and Toad. It was about Frog (Karl Hamilton) and Toad (Mark David Kaplan) who are two very good friends and all their other friends and what they like to do and the adventures they have together. It was directed by Henry Godinez and it was based on the books by Arnold Lobel and it was adapted by Willie Reale and Robert Reale. I wondered if they were brothers, so I looked it up. They are! It was good for brothers to write this because Frog and Toad are kind of like brothers because they are always together, they love each other, and they never really will not be friends. I really liked this show because they didn't add a bunch of stuff that wasn't in the books. They mostly stuck to the stories. There's no singing in the books, but that just made it better. Frog and Toad were still lovable even though they were actually humans. All the actors really brought the characters that were in the book to life.

I really thought that the man who played Toad was really like Toad. Mom and I are also like Toad, because we are cranky but we are also laughable. When I was little, and even now, I liked the moment in the book when Toad wakes up and says, "Blah." They put this in the show, so I was very happy! It tells us that he is a pessimist and he likes to say blah, and also that he will be a very funny character throughout the rest of the play. And Frog, also in that scene, is tearing off all these pages from the calendar because one of the winter pages was still on top. That tells you that Frog is kind of ornery but also very sweet because he ripped off the first month of spring page and then it was May (but it wasn't really May, just his calendar said May) so then Toad would wake up. Toad was his friend and he wanted to go out in the spring with him; he wants to be with his friend all the time. That is the thing that is really sweet, but the thing that was ornery was that he said "It is May now!" even though it wasn't actually May.

One of my favorite characters was Snail (Shawn Pfautsch) who wanted to be super awesome and famous and fast. And he wanted to be a mailman. So Toad was feeling sad that he was not getting any mail, and then Frog wrote him a note so that he would feel better and sent it with Snail. And then Snail was being very slow, as snails do, but the thing is he was singing this song that went, "I'm the snail with the mail. I deliver without fail." And it took him a whole year to get over and give it to Toad! My favorite part was when it was winter and he was going under the snow. But the funniest was the movements which were paired with the lyrics, which were: "I'm going to go a little faster now." And then he would start going like he was about to run really fast, but then he actually went really slow. I thought that was a great idea to have that at different random points because it was so unexpected to just put the snail there in the snow! I thought it was fuhlarious; other people were laughing so I thought it was really funny for other people as well as me.

I really liked "Cookies" because it is my favorite story in all of the books and it was perfect! It was perfect because there weren't very many things that were different except for the song and that made it funnier and cooler and the dance moves (by Tommy Rapley) just worked perfectly. I thought the woman who played Mouse (Christine Bunuan) was really funny because she kept asking, "What time is it?" and Toad kept saying to everybody, "My clock is broken." Everybody already knew his clock was broken; he broke it with his shoe in the beginning. I really liked the "Cookies" song because at the end they did this great movement where they threw all the cookies up in the air. The "Cookies" story is about will power, but we don't really know if the author is saying that you should have will power our you shouldn't have will power. He might think you shouldn't have will power because he loves cookies! And maybe he was eating cookies when he wrote the story. The story makes you want cookies! I agree with the second one: EAT COOKIES!!!!!

"Toad Looks Funny in a Bathing Suit" was a really awesome song. I liked it because the bathing suit that Toad wore was actually pretty funny and I thought it was a really good idea to have a giant blanket to be the water and little holes for them to pop out of. I thought that that was a great idea that the scene designer Geoffrey Curley had to make the water but also the snow a big blanket. The song I thought was very catchy and very awesome. And Turtle (Brittani Arlandis Green) sang the song and she was amazing. It has a lesson, which is that it is okay if you are funny. Being funny is a good thing, not a bad thing! Try to find some way you can be funny, even if you don't think you are the funniest thing like some people do. You should have some sympathy for Toad because he doesn't want people to see him but they are still looking. He finds out that he doesn't have to take himself so seriously and he doesn't have to be angry at people just because they think he's funny.

People who would like this show are people who like amphibian friends, catapulting cookies, and very "fast" snails. I think this show should be for ages 2 and up because it is a really fun play for even littler kids because they will get the jokes and these books are books everyone should know. I felt, while I was watching the show, like I was really with Frog and Toad. And when it ended I was sad that it ended. I loved this show!


Photos: Charles Osgood