Monday, December 31, 2012

Ada Grey's Top 5 of 2012

These are my five favorite shows of 2012.

Arcadia (New Leaf Theatre)

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

Death and Harry Houdini (The House Theatre of Chicago)

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

The Mikado (The Hypocrites)

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

War Horse (Broadway in Chicago)

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

Pride and Prejudice (Lifeline Theatre)

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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review of War Horse (Broadway in Chicago)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review of The Plagiarists' The Feast of St. McGonagall

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Jasmine Basci

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review of Mary Arrchie Theatre Co.'s Superior Donuts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Greg Rothman

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Review of Six Stories Tall at Adventure Stage Chicago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Johnny Knight