Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review of Filament Theatre Ensemble's Lifeboat

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Lifeboat. It was by Nicola McCartney and it was directed by Julie Ritchey. It was about these two girls Beth Cummings (Mara Dale) and Bess Walder (Molly Bunder) who met on this ship that was taking them to Canada because the war was getting too scary and there were too many bombing in England, so parents were sending away their children so they could go to a better place to stay with relatives. But then there is a giant shipwreck because the Nazis had bombed them, and they were put on a lifeboat. The play is about the journey that they go on and the memories they have once they are on the lifeboat. It was about friendship, World War II, and bravery. I thought that this was an amazing show. It was a true story which made it even more amazing and it taught me a lot about this very sad historical event and it also told me about these two real women who are heroes, basically, for going through this event and surviving it.

I thought the set (designed by Andrew Marchetti) was really cool. It was awesome because they only used some chairs and a table to make most of the scenes. But then there was also a platform and a bunch of suitcases and a piano. The chairs and the tables and the platform simulated different things, the ship and their homes, and also the lifeboat. I also really loved the sound (by Melissa Schlesinger) and the lights (by Daniel Chapman) they used because they really contributed to the story. Like when they were on the lifeboat they used the lights to show that the water was there and the ship was sinking and the sound let you hear the crackling flames of the ship going down. I thought that the actors' way of showing the different people slipping off the lifeboat, where they put both of their hands out and would have them each slip away off the table, was very cool and kind of sad. The lights helped a lot with that too.

The flashbacks were of the girls' lives back at home and you got to see what everything was like before the shipwreck happened. You got to see their families and how they missed them so much, and I thought that was very sweet. It contributed a lot to the sadness and bittersweetness of the show. Since there were only two people in the show, they played all the different parts. I thought that was really cool. I think it would be hard to switch characters and personalities so quickly. It made it be more of a spectacle. It also felt like the girls were family to each other because that might be all they had left. The friends were playing the parts of the family members.

The story I think is a kind of bittersweet one because you get to meet all these people who die, but then you also get to see all the people who survive. Beth and Bess seemed like great friends. They didn't have a lot in common, but even people who don't have a lot in common still sometimes become amazing friends. Beth was from Liverpool and was very polite and quiet but was pretty poor. And Bess was middle class from London and wanted to get away and become a movie star. And she always spoke her mind. The first time you see their friendship spark is when they find out that they both love The Wizard of Oz. My favorite part was definitely the ending because it showed you that their friendship was everlasting and I thought that was really sweet.

People who would like this show are people who like The Wizard of Oz, suspense, and friendship. This is the second time that this show has happened at Filament, and I hope they do it again because I am sad that I only got to see it right before it closed. I would definitely see it again!

Photos: Christian Libonati

Monday, May 25, 2015

Review of Congo Square Theatre's Twisted Melodies

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Twisted Melodies. It was written by Kelvin Roston, Jr. and it was directed by Samuel G. Roberson, Jr. It was about this man Donny Hathaway (Roston) who loved music, but he was schizophrenic so he thought that everyone was out to get his music. I thought this was a bittersweet show. It was very very good and you got to understand a lot about this amazing hero of music, but then it was bitter because of how you find out what happened to him once he started believing that people were out to get him. The story is told by Donny, who is basically telling you the story through memory. I think that was a good idea because you get to see inside his mind. There are also projections (produced by Dre Robinson) that I thought were really cool because they help you even more with the picture of what he was thinking of. There were also dances (choreography by Joel Hall) that were on the projection screen that you saw sometimes when he was singing. I thought that those were very awesome. And I thought Roston's singing was absolutely beautiful. I could listen to it all day.

I especially loved the dance segments (danced by Carl Jeffries, Michelle Reid, and Jacquelyn Sanders). You would see shadows of people dancing modern dance and I thought it was just beautiful. Donny is having a memory of he and his wife dancing together and you are seeing how they felt for each other. It seems like it was very hard for him once she left because he didn't get to see his kids as much. But she felt like it was too much to be around this man who had attacks of scaredness and sadness. She wanted him to take his pills but he refused to because he thought the doctors were out to get him and the medicine made him not be able to make music. If he had that medicine he couldn't have the "medicine" that he wanted that made him feel better, which was his music.

I thought it was sweet how much he loved his grandma. His grandma had raised him and taught him how to play the piano and made him practice. And that made him be able to play the piano and achieve what he achieved. It also helped him distract himself from all the people he thought were out to get him. His grandma seemed like a very strict woman, so I can see why he didn't want to cross her. And by not crossing her, he got one of the most important parts of his life, which was his music. I also loved how he pretended to be himself as a little child. He would do this kind of baby voice and he would make his eyes really big, and that was him as a kid, and I found that really funny.

I really liked the song "Jealous Guy." It sounded really upbeat even though it was about a jealous person. And I still have that song stuck in my head. I also really liked the song "The Ghetto." It was also pretty upbeat and I felt like it told a story even though it didn't have very many lyrics. There was also an audience participation aspect to that part. I don't really know if that is true every time, but it was very very fun to sing with him. I really loved the song "Someday We'll All Be Free." The song was about wanting to be free and the hope to have a better world. It might be hard right now, but hold on and it will be better. It brought a happiness and hope to the show when there wasn't a lot of that in his life.

People who would like this show are people who like soul music, amazing singers, and strict grandmas. I think people should definitely go see this show. I thought it was very satisfying and amazing and I really recommend it. I was in the Athenaeum the night before seeing Crimes of the Heart, and I went upstairs and I heard this amazing voice and I saw where it was coming from and I was very happy I was going to see the show the next day. And it exceeded my expectations!

Photos: Sam Roberson

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review of Step Up Productions' Crimes of the Heart

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Crimes of the Heart. It was by Beth Henley and it was directed by Brad Akin. It was about these three sisters Babe (Elizabeth Antonucci), Lenny (Sarah-Jayne Ashenhurst), and Meg (Amanda Powell), and their mother and their father had left them when they were very young. They are all grownups now and have come together because Babe has shot her husband. That isn't a very happy occasion, but they are trying to remember the good times too. And they are trying to help Babe get through what she's going through. But she is not the only person with problems. Meg has just lost a job singing in a night club and Lenny is working too hard with her grandpa and she is not having a very good love life. This play is about family bonds, loss, and trying to survive. I liked this play a lot. I thought it was very interesting and funny. You might think this stuff doesn't sound funny, but then because the things that happen are so weird and terrible it is just funny anyways.

Lenny I thought was the least depressing sister because she never attempts murder and she never attempts suicide and her ex-boyfriend isn't married with two kids. Then you think that she might be able to get her life together because the sisters help her out with the hard choices like calling her ex-boyfriend who she is still in love with. Also she chases her cousin Chick (Lindsey Pearlman) with a broom because she hates her so much and has never been able to show that. Chick is a very hatable character because she is very annoying and doesn't really care about people's problems. I found Chick hilarious because she was so terrible! The thing is, you see Lenny develop so much throughout the play. She begins being kind of shy and a scaredy cat and she ends up being forward and kind and not scared. At the very beginning, she didn't have a birthday cake on her birthday, so what she did was grab a cookie and stick a candle in it. It kept breaking apart which was so funny. But by the end she actually gets a cake from her sisters which shows that even though they forgot about her birthday, they still love her.

Babe was the youngest and she was the one who shot her husband. But that was because there was a teenage boy he was trying to hurt but then the teenage boy ran away and she wanted to kill herself but then she decided to shoot her husband. Everyone in the show thinks she is kind of crazy, and I kind of agree with them. One of the reasons they think she is crazy is that after she shoots her husband she makes lemonade. Death lemonade! But I think it was mostly because of her husband and how terrible her life is going right now that she acts crazy. So she is not actually crazy; she is just really depressed. I've never seen a comedy with such a depressing main character. I liked the show still, but it was still very depressing. It makes you think about your life choices and death and guilt, and all that kind of stuff. She tries to kill herself more than once, and the ways are pretty ridiculous. But it is still very sad because it shows how much she doesn't understand what she is doing. I liked the character, though. This is more of a dark-comedy character, because even though she is funny sometimes, she is still super sad.

Meg is the middle sister and she was a singer at a night club. I also thought she was one of the funnier characters, but she still had a quite depressing life. One of the saddest things is when she finds out the love of her life Doc (Drew Johnson) is still married. At the beginning she isn't very nice to her sisters because she has been away so long. But then the thing is that by the end you see that she is loving these girls more than when the play started. I liked how she took all the calls from the lawyer Barnette (Will Crouse), but she didn't really know who he was. I thought that was hilarious. And then I thought it was really funny when Babe came down when Barnette would still be in earshot, because it was a screen door, and Meg said "He's gone now" because he must of totally heard her.

People who would like this show are people who like sisters, death lemonade, and breakable birthday cookies. I think people should go see this show. If you like dark comedy, this is definitely for you! I had fun at this show and I liked it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review of Inana at TimeLine Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Inana. It was written by Michele Lowe and it was directed by Kimberly Senior. It was about this man named Yasin Shalid (Demetrios Troy) who just got married to a woman named Shali Shalid (Atra Asdou) and they are learning to love each other because they haven't really gotten to know each other; they are just married. They are in this hotel room in London and they have come from Mosul in Iraq for their honeymoon but also to escape from the war. Yasin is the head of the museum in Mosul and he has this one-armed statue of Inana which is very important to him because it was the last of her kind. And it turned out that there is more than one one-armed goddess in the show. Inana was the goddess of love, war, and healing. The thing is that the show is about the same things the goddess is about. It is about love because of the marriages in the play and also the family relationships. It is about war because war drives them away and threatens Inana. And it's about healing because over the course of the play Yasin and Shali are trying to heal from not being able to go back to their hometown and things that they lost there. I thought this was an amazing show. It was very educational, but in a good way. I loved the plot. I loved the characters because, even though the play is short, you get to know the characters so well.

This show is very suspenseful. You didn't really know what was going to happen to the characters at any given moment. It is very exciting because it is like an adventure story because it is kind of like Indiana Jones, except instead of trying to find artifacts, this is about trying to preserve artifacts. It is also pretty exciting to find the different back stories to the characters that you didn't expect. There is also a bookstore owner named Abdel-Hakim Taliq (Frank Sawa) who keeps being hurt by the government because they think he is doing something bad, but really all he is doing is having books that are not completely religious for them or have pictures of naked babies in them. He is kind of like Yasin's best friend. And his story shows how the government would hurt people for not good reasons and it also shows how dangerous it would be for Yasin to stay in Iraq.

I felt like some of the scenes were very touching, too, Shali's father, Emad Al-Bayit (Anish Jethmalani) has asked Yasin to take her away and never let her come back to Iraq. She doesn't want that; she wants to be able to go back. You feel sorry for Shali because she has basically had everything she had known taken away from her. And she doesn't know where she is very well and now she is going to live in this place she doesn't know very well. But later in the play you find out she is not the kind of person you think she is; she is stronger than you think. I think one of the reasons her father sends her away is that he loves her so much and doesn't want her to get hurt. I thought that was very touching and sweet. I also found it touching the relationship Yasin and Shali built throughout the play. They tell stories to each other that you get to see in flashbacks. And some of the flashbacks are touching too, like when you see that whenever Shali was a good girl, she would get an orange. And it was also really sad when you found out about Yasin's first wife Hama (Arya Daire). What happens to her is absolutely awful.

This doesn't sound like a very funny play, but then when you actually see it, it actually has some pretty funny moments. These are some of my favorite funny moments. I thought the waiter (Michael B. Woods) was very very funny. He kind of reminded me of Monty Python waiters because of his attitude; his attitude was like, "I shall connect with this man even though I am just a waiter who comes to his hotel room." I really love Monty Python, so that was really great. One of the other funny things is when Shali's sister Mena (Daire) gives her lingerie and then Shali goes to try it on in the bathroom and then she comes back out and says "It looked good" but she is still still in her same clothes. And Yasin thought she would come out in it, so then he is all ready to say "you look gorgeous in that," but she comes out in her normal clothes. Mohammed Zara (Behzad Dabu) was very funny. He was the assistant to Yasin at the museum. It was funny how eager he was to take over the museum and how giddy he was. It was just very funny and adorable.

People who would like this show are people who like artifacts, suspense, and lingerie that your wife won't let you see. I really really liked this show. I thought it was super awesome. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It talks about some scary subjects, but you don't see them happening, so I think if you think your child would be okay with that they could see it too.

Photos: Lara Goetsch

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ada Grey Interviews for You: Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe

I had so much fun interviewing Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe. They'll be playing Emilio and Gloria Estefan in On Your Feet which will be playing at the Oriental Theatre June 2-July 5 before it heads to Broadway.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review of Strangeloop Theatre's Thinking Caps

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Thinking Caps. It was by Keith Gatchel and it was directed by Maria Burnham. It was about these devices called Thinking Caps that you put on your head and then it had web pages and virtual worlds you could walk around. You didn't look at a screen; it transmitted this images into your mind. The story is about a husband and wife, Charles (Drew Wancket) and Maggie (Laura Stratford) who started out just as work buddies but they end up making their life together. Charles thinks Thinking Caps could be dangerous, but Maggie thinks that they are the best things that have ever happened. It is about using technology too much until it hurts you. I don't think the writer thinks technology is all bad, though, because he still shows the good sides to it. It is also about relationships. I thought this was a very fun show. I thought it was very clever and cool. It made me think about the usage of smart phones and about romance.

There are two sides in the show. One believes we should make people use Thinking Caps less because then it will hurt people less. That person is named Kim Ayers (Jaclyn Jensen) and Charles agrees with her. I think that is a good idea; she doesn't want to take them away, just to make them hurt people less. But she isn't really a good guy because she is trying to warn people about the dangers but she is doing it in a scary way and it hurts you because they are trying to relive the instances where people have been killed while using these headsets. There is also another side where there is this man named David Scrab (Casey Kells) who thinks they should be able to use them whenever they want because then he will make more money. The thing that is good about his point of view is that he enables people to talk to each other like they are really there even if they're not, which I think is a great thing. But then he should just put more research into it before just putting it out there before anyone has done research to see if it is harmful. Maggie works for him as a designer and builder and that is good for her because she gets to do what she loves. She is very creative. But then she finds out all the terrible things that David Scrab is doing. I think that technology is a good thing and I am glad we have it, but I don't think we should use it too much or bad things could happen to the world and to you.

I liked the scene where Charles and Maggie first got together on the headnet. I think they seemed like two amazing, sweet, talented people who fall in love. And if it weren't for the headnet they probably wouldn't have gotten to know and love each other. They worked together, but it was different when they could be alone on the headnet and just talk to each other about everything. They are able to show each other the most important parts of their lives, which is probably something they wanted to show each other but then never could at work because they have to be working. But then the headnet also destroyed their lives. I think that it was good to have the love scene at the beginning because it shows how this entire thing began and you want them to get together and once they do you just feel happy. Then when things start to go wrong you feel even sadder.

I really liked the scene with the baby Emma (Ellen DeSitter). Maggie and Charles had a baby that you are introduced to pretty early, but then you get to see what she might look like when she is older but she still has a baby's mind in this scene. So she looks older but she still has a baby's mind and they have this precious daddy-daughter moment which is where he tells her all about Superman and how he's not swimming in the sky, he is flying. It showed that the dad was a really big nerd (and I mean that well because I am nerd) and he wanted his daughter to be that way as well. I liked this scene because it was really funny how she would smile at whatever he said, which is something a bunch of babies do. At first, I thought it was just a bad portrayal of children, because I was like, kids would know all about words and talking and flying. But then the thing is she still has a baby's mind and her avatar looks like what she'll look like when she looks older, but she's not older. So that explains why she is acting like kind of an idiot--because she's just like four months old! Then I thought that that was pretty cool. I would like to see what I will look like when I'm older!

People who would like this show are people who like virtual reality, scifi, and Superman. I think people should definitely go see this show. I think it is an amazing low-budget production and I really want you to go see it. I had a lot of fun.

Photos: Chris Owens

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Reviews of Ondin and The Secret Life of Suitcases at Stages, Sights & Sounds

Once upon a time I went to two shows and they were called Ondin and The Secret Life of Suitcases. Ondin was created by L'Illusion, Théâtre de marionnettes in Canada and The Secret Life of Suitcases was co-created by Ailie Cohen Puppet Maker and Lewis Heatherington in Scotland. They were part of the Stages, Sights & Sounds International Performance Festival for Young Audiences, which is a bunch of plays and workshops that are happening in May. I thought that these were both very great performances. I was captivated in both of them and found them both very interesting. I was sad that I couldn't see the American Revolution from Theater Unspeakable again, but you can read my review from last year here.

Ondin was about this boy whose legs turned into a fish tail when he fell into the water. Then he met this girl named Melusine who had loved by the water for many years. I thought it was cool that they changed Ondine to Ondin, so that you knew even boys could be mer-people. They (Sabrina Baran, Gabrielle Garant, and Maryse Poulin) tell the story with puppets and music. I really liked at the beginning how there was a dress that turned into the sea. It started moving and moved up and just stayed there and she stepped out of it. I loved the sting ray puppet. I thought it was so awesome and beautiful. And Ondin had a fish who became his friend over the course of the show. It kind of reminded me of the Ariel story, only I think this was better. You knew they were becoming friends because he eventually got to pet the fish and it followed him around. There was a lot of very cool music in this and they also made some instruments part of the show. There was a rain-making disc that made the sound of the ocean but was also used as a raft and then the moon. It is about children's friendship and finding your right place in the world.

I really loved the show The Secret Life of Suitcases. It was funny, clever, and adorable. The main character's name was Larry (Ailie Cohen); he was basically a really hard-working businessman. But he'd never done anything exciting. So there were little puffballs inside of suitcases called quarks (Samuel Jameson & Cohen), who decided to bring him on this big adventure. I thought the quarks were absolutely adorable. They kind of reminded me of muppets. And the suitcase arrives at his work and he decides to open it and it takes him on this big adventure. He goes onto an island and then goes to space. The puppeteers had these shirts on that made them look like the background for the puppets--the backgrounds were like the ocean, an island, and outer space. I thought that was really cool. There was also a tiny puppet of a shark fin that I thought that was really funny, because you saw the guy (Jameson) just pulling it along across his shirt. One of my favorite moments was at the very end when Larry got so excited that he was going to eat spaghetti on the beach because he might not be doing something that was super adventurous but he still got to go and have fun with his friends. I just loved how he talked when he said "I'm going to eat spaghetti! On the beach!" and it came from the back of his throat. And at the end it kind of went higher--and it was hilarious. All their set pieces were made out of suitcases, and I thought that was really cool. Like there was a door that was also a suitcase. There was also a little suitcase person with little suitcase feet that I thought was adorable. The show taught a lesson on how even the little things are adventures, and I thought that was a really good lesson to teach. It also taught us about how you should enjoy adventures too, even if they are scary. And also to go through with the adventures even if you have work stuff; you should still make time for fun.

People who would like these shows are people who like mer-people, walking suitcases, and eating spaghetti on the beach. I know these shows tour, so if you live anywhere near where they are going, go see them! They are both awesome!

Photos: Michel Pinault and Anne Binckebanck

Friday, May 15, 2015

Review of Jersey Boys (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Jersey Boys. The book was by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The music was by Bob Gaudio, who was an actual original Four Seasons' member. And then Bob Crewe did the lyrics. It was about The Four Seasons who were big in the Sixties--they were like One Direction. This show is about how they got together and fell apart. It was a sad but funny play because it had some sad moments but it was also pretty funny. It is about friendship, betrayal, and music.

I thought it was cool how each of the band members--Bob Gaudio (Drew Seeley), Frankie Valli (Hayden Milanes), Nick Massi (Keith Hines), and Tommy DeVito (Matthew Dailey)--got to narrate one season of the story. I liked that because then you got to hear every person in the group's perspective. My favorite section, the most exciting part, was when Bob was narrating. I loved how when they turned their back to raise their hands and sing to the invisible audience it was like on the poster and you had that little recognition like, "Ohhhh." I liked when they were singing backup for other singers and they all had this one moment they all had the same idea--to have Bob Crewe (Barry Anderson) finally let them record--and they weren't fighting, but the next scene they were fighting again. Because what are bands for if not for fighting?! I really loved the character of Bob Crewe; I thought he was really funny because he was so overdramatic. He seemed really comfortable around everybody and his notes to the band were hilarious, like when he said, "It's a metaphor for women who twist you around their little finger" and he wiggled around his finger." I think Bob Gaudio seemed liked the least insane and depressed one. I liked how he always looked at the sunny side of things even if things weren't going as well as they'd like them to. They had found him because he had written a song about short shorts when he was a teenager. The show shows his development over time with songwriting because his songs got better and better over time!

Frankie was basically the lead singer. But even though he was the lead singer he was very depressed because a lot of bad things happened to him. Like his wife left him, he was abducted at age 16 by a crook who made him begin a band, and the third bad thing is that his daughter Francine (Leslie Rochette) had a drug overdose and died. I really wish they had had a song together because she had a lovely voice. His voice was also very nice so, if they put those two together. it would be extra good. His voice could go very high in falsetto and the actor playing the role did an amazing job making the falsetto really pleasant to hear. Frankie had two important relationships with women in the show, with Mary (Marlana Dunn) who he married and had kids with and with Lorraine (Jaycie Dotin) who was his girlfriend for a while, but then they broke up for the same reason he and Mary broke up which was because he was on tour too much and they never saw him. Mary was very straightforward and kind of reminded me of my mom, except less nice. Lorraine was an interesting character to me because she was a reporter; she had a job and seemed very smart. I think Frankie should have tried harder to keep both of his women--not by quitting the band, because he was very talented, but by inventing Skype or something so that he could better communicate with them when he was on the road.

I really like Nick Massi's season because he was one of the funnier ones because he was so serious. He was always deadpan about everything. Like one of my favorite parts was when he was just standing there silently while Bob and Frankie were talking and in the middle of the scene he just turned to the audience and said "I just realized something. I don't want to be in the band anymore." That was so funny because it was just in the middle of the scene and you wouldn't think that was what he was going to say, but then he did and it was just hilarious. I also really liked when he was talking to everyone about Tommy and roommating with him for ten years and he said, "He uses up all the towels!" I loved that that was his biggest problem even though Tommy had been a crook and stole a lot of stuff, also while they were roommating.

People who would like this show are people who like deadpan bass players, overdramatic producers, awesome music, and short shorts. I had a lot of fun at this show. It was crazy, awesome, and I enjoyed the story of it a lot.

Photos: Jeremy Daniel

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review of Irish Theatre of Chicago's The White Road

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The White Road. It was by Karen Tarjan and it was directed by Robert Kauzlaric. It was about a man named Shackleton (Paul Dunckel) and his crew who were on this expedition to walk all the way across Antarctica. But then it was getting too cold and their boat had sank because of the pack ice. So they decided to have some of the people go onto a lifeboat to find help and the other ones would stay on Elephant Island with Frank Wild (Michael McKeogh). I think this story is about hope, friendship and adventure. I've been learning a lot about Shackleton lately and I felt like it seemed very accurate. I thought this was a very exciting production because it is just a thriller. There are these guys trying to survive bitter cold and harsh conditions, but then it has a good ending. You get so involved in all the characters because they each have a special thing about them and you get to know them more and more throughout the course of the show.

Shackleton had a lot of interviews with the men to see if they would be good to go on the mission. And he asked them really strange questions like "How do you sleep?" He asks that sort of stuff to see if they will be ready for harsh conditions and if they'll be fun to be around. He doesn't think they all have to be tough. He thinks they have to be nice people but still know what they are doing and be willing to work. I thought that Vincent's (Stephen Walker) interview was very funny because he was just so deadpan and serious and was like, "I sleep in a bed." There was also another interview with a man named Worsley (Kevin Theis) who had had a dream about how he was on a boat and was steering a boat through a bunch of ice. And the next morning he saw the advertisement. I was very happy they kept that part, which is true, in the play. And Worsley also did this really funny thing once he got the job where he would ram the boat into the ice and then every time he did that he would go "Wooo!" There is also a man named Orde-Lees (Joseph Stearns) who was chased by a seal later. I thought that was very funny how he ran past and Shackleton was like, "You're a very fast runner." He was very refined when he came in for the interview and was like, my name is from this place. Shackleton wants him because he can be a cheering-up person when he plays his banjo, but he is also a walking encyclopedia which is a good thing to have on a expedition.

There is a guy named McNeish (Steve Herson) who really liked this cat who they named Mrs. McNeish. He did kind of remind me of a cat because cats can be kind of solitary and all-business. But then you also get to see his heart when he is with the cat. The dogs and the cat play a very big role in the story because they are one of the ways all the men stay sane. But they are also like family to them. So when they have to kill the cat and the dogs they are all so miserable and sad and the audience is so miserable and sad. All the dog shooting happens behind a shadow screen and there is a guy who is talking to each of the dogs before they die. They go through all their names as kind of like a memorial to them. I thought that was very very sad, but then you also knew that was what had to be done if they wanted everyone else to survive. You feel like you don't hate the people who shoot the dogs because you know it is not their fault.

There is a stowaway named Blackborrow (Gage Wallace) who they find in one of the boxes. When he pops out Shackleton asks him the same questions as he does in the interviews, but he also says, "You know you'll be the first to be eaten." And Blackborrow is like, "Yeah, I don't really care." And Shackleton is like, "You're on board!" He thought he would be good because he had no fear and has some truth-detecting in him and that made him a good candidate for this expedition. And it also had to do with how funny he was. He was one of my favorite characters because he was very funny and he was kind of like the new guy. No one liked him at first but they did when they got to know him. This character is in the play as comic relief but he also has some very touching and sad things happen to him. I think the audience really loves him because he is so energetic and optimistic and he thinks he can get away from his problems if he goes on this exploration, but then he has new problems but also gets an adventure. The audience identifies with him too because he is more of a normal man. He is not a sailor or a photographer or an explorer. One of the funniest characters is McIlroy (Nicholas Bailey). He thought that he was the most handsome man on earth and had Hurley (Neal Starbird) take all these pictures of him. Whenever Hurley was taking a picture of him, McIlroy would pose very powerfully. He was like, "I should show everyone this because I look so handsome and adventurous!"

I liked how the actors used their bodies and the set (designed by Ira Amyx and Merje Veski) to show scary moments that you thought they couldn't really do on a small stage. I thought that it was really awesome when Crean (Matthew Isler) and Shackleton and Worsley all built a sled out of their luggage. Then they slid down the hill and it was super awesome. I kind of wanted to do that too, but it was probably very dangerous in real life. They also had these put-together-your-own lifeboats. It was cool because they had to rebuild everything and you could see that happen. The journey in the lifeboats took so long and everyone was squished together in the three different lifeboats with paddles and lanterns. It did seem like they were out in the open water!

People who would like this show are people who like adventure, stowaways, and sleds made out of luggage. I think that people should definitely definitely go see this show. I thought it was a great, suspenseful, and bittersweet show. It is a crazy and awesome experience and you are on the edge of your seat the entire time.

Photos: Jackie Jasperson

Friday, May 8, 2015

Review of Wonderland, Alice's Rock and Roll Adventure at Chicago Children's Theatre.

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Wonderland, Alice's Rock and Roll Adventure. It was based on Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. The book was by Rachel Rockwell and the music was by Michael Mahler; they both wrote the lyrics. It was about Alice (Isabelle Roberts) who is a girl who wants to have something special and amazing happen to her and then when she falls asleep she goes to this magical wonderful land. Then she meets a bunch of rock-star-inspired animals basically who come and teach her lessons about the world. I really enjoyed this show. I thought that it was very fun and funny and clever. The songs were funny and rocking and there were some slow ones too that I still have stuck in my head because they were so cool.

I thought that it was super awesome how they based the characters on a kind of music or a specific rockstar. I thought that that was very cool. I thought the Cheshire Cat (Andrew Mueller) looked a lot like David Bowie. I could tell because he had a very David-Bowie hairstyle and David-Bowie outfit, like basically a leather silver tiger outfit (costumes by Mara Blumenfeld). I loved the way the Cheshire Cat moved. It was kind of like how David Bowie moved in his music videos--kind of like gliding. I also really liked the bunny Elton John, the White Rabbit (Matt Deitchman). I really liked his glasses and his hat and how he would hop around the stage and Alice would try to get a word in but then she couldn't because he had already hopped off stage. Then there were ones I thought could be inspired by different rock stars, but I wasn't positive, so these are just guesses. The Mad Hatter (Matthew Yee) and March Hare (Adam Michaels) seemed to be heavy-metal inspired and mixing that with the normal Mad Hatter costume seemed very steampunk. I also felt like the Queen of Hearts (Molly Callinan) was inspired by Lady Gaga though her outfit was slightly less crazy. Her song was the thing I found most Lady-Gaga inspired. It made you want to get up and dance and I thought her singing was super awesome.

The song "Red, Red Rose" was very catchy and I think it made a very good point that you shouldn't just be something that you are not. Bianca (Regina Leslie) and Felicite (Lillian Castillo) are both white roses who have been dyed red by Four (Jed Feder) and Seven (Yee). And they sing a song about how Alice will never be a red rose but they got to be a red rose. I think it is about not being yourself when you should be. Alice is saying I will not be a red red rose. I am just an Alice and I don't really care. I think this scene combined two different parts of the books: the part where all the flowers come alive and start plucking Alice's "petals" which are not real petals (they are her skirt) and the part where there are white roses painted red in the Queen's garden. I thought that was cool that, by putting together the meanness of the first flowers and the flowers pretending to be what they're not, they made a really awesome scene that showed you how bullies don't want to be like themselves. They want to be something they are not.

I loved the song "Lazy Day." I felt like it was like a cross between Avril Lavigne and Adele. I found that really awesome because it was just really catchy and I actually want to learn how to sing that song. I thought Alice's voice was very pretty. The song is about having nothing happen to you and how you want something great to happen to you and about boredom. Sometimes I have that same kind of feeling of wanting something awesome and cool to happen. And things awesome and cool happen to me a lot, so sometimes when nothing is happening I don't feel amazing. Alice sings it with her cat, Dinah (Mueller). Dinah is really funny and when Alice dreams Dinah becomes the Cheshire Cat which tells you that anything can happen when you are dreaming. I think that is also a good thing to do when you are bored--just let your imagination take over.

People who would like this show are people who like David-Bowie cats, rock and roll music, and red red roses. I thought the show was very enjoyable. I think it makes a lot of good points and I liked the songs a lot.

Photos: Charles Osgood

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review of Sense and Sensibility at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Sense and Sensibility. It is based on the novel by Jane Austen. It is a new musical and the book and music and lyrics were by Paul Gordon. It was directed by Barbara Gaines. It was about two sisters named Elinor (Sharon Rietkerk) and Marianne (Megan McGinnis) and Elinor fell in love with a man named Edward Ferrars (Wayne Wilcox). And Marianne fell in love with a man named Mr. Willoughby (Peter Saide). And the other problem is that they have been moved out of their home by their older brother John Dashwood (David Schlumpf) and his wife Fanny (Tiffany Scott) because their father died. Even though this is mostly about falling in love, it does pass the Bechdel test. If you don't know what the Bechdel test is, you can learn it from me, ADA GREY! You pass the test if the play or book or movie has two girls who are named and are talking to each other and it is not about men. And I'm very happy about that. I thought this was a great show and I really love the story.

Elinor is kind of like what is holding the story together. She is the calm and collected one and she doesn't let anything hurt her personally. There is this very sad song about how Elinor can't even tell her sister her feelings. It is called "Not Even You." I think that that really shows her personality--that she doesn't share her feeling, not even with her closest friend. I don't think that is a good idea. You should be able to tell your closest friend everything about you, especially if you are related to her! The next song, "The Visit," was more funny. It was about Edward coming back to come and say hi to Elinor and finding that this woman that he had promised to marry named Lucy (Emily Berman) was there and he didn't really want to have the stress of meeting with two women, one he used to be in love with and one that he was in love with right now. I think that was funny because he came in and he was very surprised. The look on his face was just hilarious and it made me laugh very hard. The song was like both of the women singing "Edward!" over and over and him just being like "Nope! Nope! Not talking to you guys!" I think that Edward was very funny because of the faces he made and he was just very hilarious.

I think that I am a lot like Marianne, only slightly less dippy. If I met Willoughby and didn't know he was a cad, I would totally fall in love with him. I am also a drama queen and a goofball. She is a goofball when she is talking about Willoughby and she says, "Willoughby!" and sighs, which is kind of like me. She is a drama queen when she has to give up her featherbed. I liked that moment a lot when she said, "Can I bring my featherbed?" and it was all she cared about. I found it very funny that that was all she really cared about. Then also when she was talking with Willoughby she was reciting a poem and then Willoughby finished the poem with her, I found that so cheesy and I found it so humorous because, if you know he is a cad, you are like, "He's too good to be true and too bad to be true!" He is too good to be true because he isn't true. Marianne sang this song about how she was no longer the girl that he would push on the swing, and I found that a very sad song, and I felt super sorry for her. The song was so sad and touching because you see how much he hurt her. She is remembering when he pushed her on the swing and then she is also thinking about this painting that was very popular at that time with a woman in a fancy dress with a man pushing her on a swing. That shows you she thinks of herself as art, and that means that she thinks of herself as one of a kind and that he missed out. But she also feels like she missed out on Willoughby, but that is not true!

Marianne also has a man who is actually not a cad!!! Yay! Colonel Brandon (Sean Allan Krill) is really in love with her and I think that he seems like a better match for her than Willoughby because he will actually stay true to her. I found that very happy that there was someone who loved her who was not just loving her so that he could break her heart and run away with another woman. I think that the song "Wrong Side of Five & Thirty" was very funny because I don't think he was the wrong side. He's not even that old. He's just thirty-six instead of thirty-four. Mrs. Jennings (Paula Scrofano) said he was on the wrong side of five and thirty so don't get interested in Marianne. She must have felt dumb later! The song is kind of sad, though, because he is saying, "She'll never love me. I'm too old." I liked how funny but sad it was; it was bittersweet.

People who would like this show are people who like love triangles, poetry-reading cads, and featherbeds. I think people should definitely go see this show. I had a lot of fun and found it very funny, clever, and touching.

Photos: Liz Lauren

Friday, May 1, 2015

Review of Forget Me Not Theatre Company's The Impossible Adventures of Supernova Jones

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Impossible Adventures of Supernova Jones. It was written by Aaron Senser and it was directed by Emelia Zuckerman. It was about this guy named Supernova Jones (Brendan Mulhern) who was a space explorer. He had a robot named S.A.M. (Tom Murphy) and he worked with a Space Cowboy named Hash (Evan Henderson). And they were fighting against the sons of Cain who were a scary alien race who were like clones, kind of. And they were all played by the same guy (Justin Martin Fill). And Supernova Jones has to leave his wife Evelyn (Jill Matel) behind because the world has been "destroyed" and he has been employed by the Commander (Gary Smiley) to find the center of the universe. But the entire time he is keeping a secret from himself. This play is about family, love, and imagination, and I enjoyed it a lot.

My theory about the Sons of Cain is that they all wanted to look like their leader, so they all made themselves look the same. The Sons of Cain also seemed to be very good fighters (fight direction by Henderson). The fights were super crazy! I loved how intimate they actually seemed and how you could hear them smack down on the ground. I was like, "Noooo!" They were so crazy good. There was a chess scene between Supernova Jones and the last of the Sons of Cain. (Were there just men in the Sons of Cain? If so, they weren't a very productive race. No wonder they died out so quickly!) In the scene, Supernova Jones was getting beat at chess, until the cleverest thing happened where the Son of Cain beat him and Jones said, "No, you didn't." And that is where the clever part comes in. The clever part is...you have to see the show! You don't expect a chess game to be the climax in a space movie. You expect it to be a laser battle or something like that. So it is completely different than you think it would be. I thought it was cool.

The robot is like the best friend of Supernova Jones and you find out later that he is even more than a friend. I liked how cute he was. He was kind of like a little kid. And I loved S.A.M.'s signature drink. It was a cup of oil, which I found so hilarious. Supernova Jones' drink was something like an intergalactic on the rocks and I thought that was really funny too. The robot was basically like his best friend and they did everything together. That made me feel like the robot was an actual person. One of my favorite parts was when he was talking on facetime basically and saying, "Nope. You can't speak to him because he's asleep" and the villain didn't believe him. So then he was just like, "He's asleep" and would gesture toward Jones in a really impatient way like, "Duh. He's asleep." I liked that the robot makes you think this is going to be a goofy space adventure, but then it ends up that character is more bittersweet when you find out what the real story is.

Evelyn was the wife of Supernova Jones and she was on “Mars.” Supernova Jones has taken her there because it is the only place people can live now that the Earth has been destroyed. And he talks to her on facetime and tells her to put on the glasses and you’ll be here with me as a hologram. And she does and she spins out in this beautiful turquoise see-through plastic outfit (costumes by Delena Bradley). I thought it looked really awesome. I was like, “Wow! She looks really cool in that.” Before she was just a video, but suddenly she becomes an actual person. It was cool how much of the show used videos (by Dan Haberkorn) and how well they timed it so it didn’t look weird. They also had an intro like an old tv show that was on a screen and that was really cool. It looked like an old-fashioned tv show like Star Trek.

People who would like this show are people who like Star Trek, cups of oil, and chess. I think that people should definitely go see this show. I thought it was a really fun experience.

Photos: Chris Zoubris