Friday, February 28, 2014

Review of Griffin Theatre's Golden Boy

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Golden Boy. It was by Clifford Odets and directed by Jonathan Berry. It was about a boxer named Joe (Nate Santana) who used to be a violin player and he had a big family and some of his family were like, "Yay! He's a boxer!" But then some of the family, for example his dad (Norm Woodel), did not like it at all. Joe’s manager Moody (Mark Pracht) had a girlfriend named Lorna (Nina O’Keefe) but Joe was in love with her. That’s a problem because she has just gotten engaged to Moody. I think that this was a really good play, and even though I’m not really a boxing person, I really liked it.

There were some scenes with Joe’s family to show you that he was not very nice to his family. But they were very supportive of Joe. I thought they were very funny because of how Siggie (Morgan Maher) and Anna (Laura Lapidus) were quarreling and then they were completely in love with each other. There was a friend of his dad’s named Carp (Jerry Bloom) who owned a candy shop and he liked to talk about candy and philosophy. I thought that he was really funny, how his goodbye present to Joe was a lollipop. It doesn’t end happy and funny though because of what Joe says to his dad about his birthday present. It made you angry at Joe because his father did a lot to get him that present and then he just didn’t want it.

Joe had kind of two families. His real family and his boxing family that helped him through getting to be a boxer. The members of that family are Roxy (John Connolly), Tokio (Jason Lindner), Moody, Eddie (David Prete) and Lorna. I think that Tokio was the nicest of his boxing family. I thought Tokio seemed like he was very complimentary and nice to everyone. He seemed like someone people might actually want to be friends with. I thought how he was always encouraging Joe was awesome. Not all people encourage. Roxy never encouraged him because he was always bickering about how Joe should have done some other kind of punch. Moody encouraged him more than Roxy but still not enough. His manager Eddie seemed like he almost gave him enough encouragement, but the thing was he just wanted women to be attracted to Joe; he didn't want Joe to be a better boxer. He just wanted to see someone else end up like him, and he wanted all the attention so he wanted people to look at him and say he helped Joe so he must be rich and handsome too. Joe's sort-of girlfriend Lorna sort-of helps him. But sometimes she doesn't when she leaves him hanging on a question or something.

I think one of the most hilarious scenes was the one with Mickey (David Cady Jr.) and Pepper (Connor McNamara) in it. Pepper was fighting the same night as Joe, and Mickey is his trainer. It was really funny because Pepper seemed really really stupid. He thought that 1200 was less that 1000. I thought that Mickey seemed like the smarter one, because he is the one who told him that he got $1200, then Pepper said I only work for $1000 or more. Then Mickey was like, ok, you get $1000. So Mickey got $200. I think he did deserve it because he did a lot of work. Right after this funny scene there was a very sad scene, where a boxer called the Chocolate Drop was killed by Joe. He punched him too hard. And then his manager (Johnny Moran) came in and started yelling, “You killed my boy!” I felt very sad. I think that these two scenes being together made the Chocolate Drop’s death more sad.

There is a love triangle in this between Lorna, Moody, and Joe. It is not the most tricky love triangle but Lorna keeps going back and forth between I love him, no I love him. It is obvious that she should be with Joe, but she just doesn't see that. She should be with Joe because he gives her more happiness. She's unhappy because she feels unhappy for Moody, but Moody should have just stayed with his wife. He was purposely trying to make his wife not love him anymore so he could go and marry Lorna. I don't think that's good because if his wife was happy with him but he just found another woman, then if he was not unhappy with her, he should have just stayed. But Lorna does finally make a decision, but it doesn't turn out as well as she hoped it would.

People who would like this show are people who like love triangles, boxing, and candy-shop owning philosophers. People should definitely go see this show. It will make you find ways to think of boxing that you never thought to think about before. It also tells you a little bit about love.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review of A Tale of Two Cities at Lifeline Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called A Tale of Two Cities. It was based on the novel by Charles Dickens and it was adapted by Christopher M. Walsh. It was directed by Elise Kauzlaric. The play is about a young woman named Lucie (Maggie Scrantom) who had a father named Dr. Manette (Sean Sinitski) and there is a man who comes to England who Lucie falls in love with called Charles Darnay (Nicholas Bailey). And he has a friend-ish enemy Sydney Carton (Josh Hambrock) who also is in love with Lucie. It took place during the revolution in France. It showed you that it was not a nice thing and people shouldn't have put those innocent people in jail and chopped off their heads. I thought this was a really cool show. I have never read the book before, but I really liked the play.

When you first meet Miss Pross (Katie McLean Hainsworth), you think, "That seems like a nice little governess." You think she would never kill anybody. But then she does! That made her seem heroic because of who she killed. I liked that a lot, I was like "Yeah! She did it!" It shows you that Miss Pross loves Lucie a lot. It shows you that you can't judge a book by its cover. Miss Pross looks like a children's book but inside it's like The Count of Monte Cristo. And every few pages there's a flower that meets a bunny and they do a little jig together. It was so sad when she went deaf. I was like, "It's not fair! She did something good! She won the fight! But now she's deaf!"

The Resurrection Man (John Henry Roberts) is in the play because he tells the story and he helps build characters. He helps people in the play and people in the audience if they don't understand something. He helps the audience by telling them what is going on. Miss Pross doesn't understand that she is deaf, but the Resurrection man makes her realize that. He brought characters closer together, too. He brought the Seamstress (Melissa Engle) and Sydney together. He was the one who said, you go up there and talk to him for a little bit. The Seamstress was all alone and she didn't have anybody that she knew that she could communicate to and she was in jail so nobody could help her. And then she met Sydney and then she had somebody that she could talk to and they became friends.

Madame Defarge (Carolyn Klein) and Monsieur Defarge (Dan Granata), when you first meet them you don't think they are that bad, but they get worse and worse, and by the end they are terrible people. They are husband and wife and they are basically the ones that start the revolution. Madame Defarge sometimes does good things, but they still have to do with killing people. Like one time she gives a knife to a man (Sean Sinitski) whose kid has been run over by a carriage so he can kill the man who ran him over. Monsieur Defarge is more kind-hearted because he thinks that they shouldn't put the Seamstress in jail because she was the mistress to Evremonde (Chris Hainsworth). She was doing that because she wanted to get her husband back. Now this is turning into a jerk paragraph. Here are the jerks of the play. Not the Seamstress or the father, but the other ones. Evremonde just wants to look at women's private parts. I think he did a good job playing this character, even though he is not at all like it. The actors who play the Defarges are great at being horrible people, even though they aren't in real life.

I think Lucie made the right choice to marry Charles Darnay because Sydney Carton was a drunk. They both seem devoted to her, so I think she might have been fine with either of them if one of them wasn't a drunk. Even though Sydney is devoted to her she wouldn't be happy. I think that Dickens could have made the love triangle more interesting by not making it an easy choice for Lucie. Sydney's choice is kind of about the love triangle, because he gives up his life so Lucie can be happy. He does make her happy after all, but if he'd stayed alive she might not have been so happy.

People who would like this show are people who like revenging fathers, awesome governesses, and starting your own revolution. You should see this play if you want to know how start a revolution. Step one, knit all your plans. Step two, tell your husband about it. Step three, tell all your neighbors about it. Step four, behead the king and queen. Step five, put everyone that you see in jail. And, there. Now you have your own revolution. The play is funny as well and also sad and touching and bittersweet. I think everyone should go see this show. It is such a great show and all the acting is really amazing.

Photos: Suzanne Plunkett

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review of Winter Concert 2014 at Thodos Dance Chicago

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Winter Concert 2014. It was dancing. There were a bunch of different pieces. The dance was by Thodos Dance. I thought this was a really great show; I think it is a very good dance show, especially, and I think that everybody should go and see it.

There was one dance called Panem Nostrum Quoditianum, which means "our daily bread." The choreographer was Ahmad Simmons. I think it was about The Lord's Prayer and how they say they need enough to eat everyday. It could have just been about God in general. It was like a wanting dance. They wanted something and needed something. They were like begging a pleading by putting their hands like they were praying. At the end of the dance they put their hands like they were praying again and I think that the choreographer wanted you to think up what happened. The question was, did the dancers get what they wanted?

Tsuru was choreographed by Lucas Crandall. I thought that there was a guy that pretended to be in love with a girl but then it turned out he didn't actually like her and was being mean to her. I felt very uncomfortable seeing those women being treated like that. They were showing the women getting thrown to the ground and getting their heads moved around. I saw them trying to fight back but the men were always a little stronger. I think it was supposed to show us how women are sometimes unfairly treated by men and that we should try to help. I liked some of the moves in the dance; like I really liked how the two women were kind of helping each other to fight back. They showed that by waking each other up and after one of them had been thrown, helping the other one to get up. I think that it was a cool dance, but some of the moves bothered me like the one where they rolled her head around like she was a puppet.

There was this one piece about Helen Keller (Jessica Miller Tomlinson) and Annie Sullivan (Alissa Tollefson) called A Light in the Dark. It was choreographed by Ann Reinking and Melissa Thodos. It wasn't like any other dance that I've seen. I've never seen a dance where someone was pretending to be blind, and I've never seen people using sign language in dance. I like how it really showed Annie and Helen's relationship as teacher and student. I really liked how you could understand what was going on; it showed you what each of the phases of learning was. The dancing really explained the story. It made me think about what it would be like to be deaf, or hearing-impaired, or blind. It was a good way to tell the story because you wouldn't really think about Helen and Annie dancing, but you have to feel the dancing just like how Helen had to feel everyone to know who they were. Their relationship was based in feeling each other. Annie had to teach Helen how to control her body, and if you are doing dance you have to learn how to control your body. They still communicated with each other, but not in the way most people communicate; they felt each other literally and figuratively.

They did this one dance called Changes of Phase and this was probably my favorite dance. It was choreographed by Melissa Thodos and the set was by Studio Gang Architects. The set looked like bubble wrap. It was in different shapes, and people could arrange it into different shapes, so then they could make them into doorways, skirts, whatever they wanted. I liked it when the boys were carrying the girls and the girls were holding on to the bubble wrap shape that someone else was holding. I was thinking about architecture and how architecture is made by someone getting an idea and then that idea getting bigger and bigger. It turns into a sculpture or a house by that person getting other people to build on that idea. Architecture and dance are good to think about together because they both make artsy shapes.

People who would like this show are people who like Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller, seeing dance in a way you've never seen before, and awesome bubble wrap sculptures. I think this is a really awesome dance show and you can really understand everything. I think this show would be good for kids and adults who want to learn about Helen Keller and see architecture and dance put together.

Photos: Cheryl Mann

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review of Broken Nose Theatre's From White Plains

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called From White Plains. It was directed by Spenser Davis and written by Michael Perlman. It is about a man named Dennis (David Weiss) who made a movie that just won an Oscar and it was about bullying in a high school that Dennis went to. It is about Ethan Rice (Adam Soule), the guy who he wrote the movie about, finding out about what he did wrong. It is about trying to get revenge for Dennis's friend Mitchell dying and Ethan Rice learning to apologize. Dennis has to learn to accept apologies. It was a show about things that are wrong in life, like bullying, but it wasn't just sad and depressing, it was sometimes funny and you cared for all the characters--even Ethan Rice sometimes. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is a great show because it made me think differently about a girl who was sort of bullying me and it made me feel sad for people who are being bullied much worse than my problem.

In the first scene, Ethan has just watched the Oscars and has just realized, "oh my gosh, that movie is all about me." The first scene is big because it has a lot of stuff that you need to know in it about Ethan. Like you learn that Ethan was a bully in high school in that scene. He doesn't seem like a bad guy now, but he still shouldn't have done the stuff that he did. He has a friend named John (John Overton Lewis III) who is there and is asking him all these questions: "Did you really do that?" Ethan changes because he learns how to apologize, which he should have learned a long time ago. Apologizing isn't always easy.

I thought that Dennis and Gregory (Ben Burke) could have had a great relationship but that great relationship was kind of wrecked by Dennis being so uptight about getting revenge. The relationship was good because they loved each other and were trying to help each other, but sometimes they didn't want each other's help and that is what I think kind of ruined their relationship. On stage you saw that they loved each other because they were kissing. People don't just kiss romantically because they think they are nice people! I think that they could fix it because at the end, I didn't really understand it at first, but Gregory I think is talking to his parents about how he is gay, even though his dad doesn't like people who are gay. I think he is inviting them over so he can tell them he is gay because he is still in love with Dennis even though Dennis wasn't very nice to him. Dennis is a different person at the end because he kind of understood that Ethan didn't want to kill Mitchell. I think Gregory helped Dennis understand what Ethan meant, but at first Dennis didn't want his advice.

My favorite scene was the train scene. It featured Gregory and John. They were on a train and they were trying to pretend that they didn't know the people in the newspaper even though they knew them personally. That scene was important because that showed that Ethan's friend John wasn't as bad as Ethan and those two could actually become friends. John is I think one of the most interesting characters because he loves to be friends with Ethan but sometimes he doesn't like it at all because of how Ethan treats him and gay people. He was bullied and he didn't know his friend was a bully. He is not seeking revenge because he decides, "I just want to have a nice life. I don't want to get revenge." I thought it would be cool if we got to see his fiancee because then you would be able to see how John and Emily really loved each other. And after he gets off the train, Gregory is inspired to do something big in order to make Dennis happy.

People who would like this show are people who like getting good advice about how to handle being bullied and having a game in your mind tying to figure out the personality of each character. I was never bored during this show because I was always on the edge of my seat to see what would happen next and it gave me a lot to think about. I think that all the actors were great and people should definitely go see this show.

Photos: Charlie Ray Bressler

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review of Ramona Quimby at Emerald City Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Ramona Quimby. It was written by Len Jenkin adapted from the novels by Beverly Cleary and directed by Jacqueline Stone. It was about a girl named Ramona (Rachel Van Marter) who had a sister named Beezus (Molly Parchment) and their Aunt Bea (Giselle Vaughn) was getting married but Ramona doesn't really like the guy she is getting married to, and his name was Hobart (Aaron Lawson). There was another problem, her dad (Lawson) has lost his job at a frozen food company. What they are trying to do in the play is to get their dad to stop smoking and get their dad to get a new job. And they want Hobart and their Aunt Bea to not not have a wedding. Ramona learns to like him at the end. I think this was a really awesome show. It was less happy-happy-funtime than a lot of plays for kids. They talked about actual life experiences. And they also talked about how to fix the bad life experiences by getting other people to help you help that other person get rid of that bad habit.

I really liked the set. It was designed by Michelle Lilly. There were these three dollhouses that they would turn to show you the inside of the house. That was good because it didn't take up too much of the stage and it was very clever. And it only took a few seconds to change locations. I really liked Mrs. Kemp's (Marsha Harman) house because it was tall and when you turned it around it was every little small thing you could imagine in an old lady's house. The first time they were changing the set, I was like, "why are they turning that house around?" And then I was like, "Oh! That's why! There's an awesome little dollhouse."

There were these dates that Hobart and Aunt Bea were on and they would go to amusement parks and stuff like that. I thought it was really cool how Ramona and Beezus made all the different things. Like I thought it was really cool when Ramona and Beezus made their arms into circles and put them above their heads and then they would put them over their aunt and uncle so it would seem like a roller coaster. Each date was kind of like miming; it was really cool.

There is this place that Ramona's family likes to go to called Whopper Burger. Whopper Burger is like the dream place for their family because it is a lot of money to go there. And Ramona's dad says he will quit smoking there, and that is significant. I didn't really understand why the audience paid for their dinner. It seemed kind of strange to me. I didn't understand really why they wanted us to engage in that particular thing. My idea is that they wanted us to feel like part of their family. I thought it was really funny when the waitress (Vaughn) came out and started tap dancing and singing a song. When the dad said, "We'll skip the song today" I thought it was really funny because it seemed like something you would imagine a fast food place being like in a movie or something. And I thought it was really funny how she was happy happy all the time.

I think that the mom (Harman) was a great character. She seemed like she was a good mom even if they weren't in such great shape with money. I knew that she was a great mom because of how she acted with her kids. She wasn't trying to hide that they were out of money from them. She doesn't want them to be upset about it; she just wants their support and help. Ramona and Beezus weren't always the best of friends, and I think that is realistic and I liked how they performed that. The mom did understand because she used to go through being angry with each other with her sister. I think that their sister relationship showed that when Ramona and Beezus grew up they would love each other and wouldn't get into so many fights.

People who would like this show are people who like great moms, cool dollhouses, and tap-dancing waitresses. People should go see this show because is is funny and is great to take your family to. Once the show starts, you feel happy because you feel like a part of the play and not just an audience member. They achieve that by direct address but also by helping the audience get to know the characters so then you feel closer to the characters. This is a really great show and a lot of people should go see it.

Photos: Tom McGrath

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review of Gypsy at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Gypsy. It was directed by Gary Griffin and the music was by Jule Styne and the lyrics were by Stephen Sondheim and the script was written by Arthur Laurents. It was about a woman named Rose (Louise Pitre) who wanted all of her children to be stars. She wanted fame and appreciation for herself and for her kids to be kids for their entire life. I think that all the acting was great and it was very funny. I thought the songs were really cool and some of them were funny. I think that the story tells that parents shouldn't want their kids to be kids for their entire lives because they have to grow up. It is kind of like a lesson for moms to tell them not to be like this.

At the beginning almost everybody was kids. There was Baby June (Emily Leahy) and Louise as a kid (Caroline Heffernan) and there were a bunch of newsboys (Killian Hughes, Nate Becker, Benedict Santos Schwegel). I think that all of the kids did a really good job. They were so much like when they became adults: Louise was shy and June was happy-happy-funtime. At the beginning it was June and her Newsboys and they went, "Extra! Extra!" at the beginning of each song. But then they did that exact same routine even when they were farmers, and then they switched it out with some girls (Landree Fleming, Betsy Farrar, Dana Parker, and Kelly Anne Krauter), who were being Spanish, and they still said "Extra! Extra!" even though they were ladies who were not newsboys. I thought that was kind of hilarious but also showed that Rose didn't like any changes.

There was a man named Mr. Goldstone (John Reeger) from the Orpheum Circuit who came to see Rose and June (Erin Burniston) and Louise (Jessica Rush) when they were teenagers. And then Rose sings this song about having an egg roll, Mr. Goldstone, and she gets very nervous. So then she just starts putting egg rolls and noodles and soy sauce in Mr. Goldstone's hat. I thought that that was hilarious. I loved how Mr. Goldstone was happy for some of it and after a little bit of time that he'd been talked to about "have an egg roll, Mr. Goldstone" he started getting into it, like "I will have an egg roll." And then Rose started talking about how she didn't like any other kind of stone but a goldstone. I was laughing for the entire time!

There was a song that Rose and Herbie (Keith Kupferer) and Louise sing and it was called "Together Wherever We Go." Louise and Rose and Herbie were all just talking and then they went into this dance number that was really cool. I think that the choreography (by Mitzi Hamilton) was really awesome overall. There was this part where they tried to throw plates and catch them across, but then they all just fell to the ground and just clattered. That was funny because they were all ready and they just threw them and they were singing and then suddenly the plates just clattered to the ground. And then they started doing a tap dance number with them instead. It is there to show that they still loved each other even if they weren't always like, "Oh! May I pass the tea for you, sir?" June had just run away with Tulsa (Rhett Guter) so that means that they don't have an act anymore. But this song shows that they won't give up.

I liked the song, "You Gotta Get a Gimmick." It was hilarious even though it was about stripping. It was really really funny when Mazeppa (Molly Callinan) was playing the trumpet while she was doing a bunch of hilarious sexy moves because usually you don't think of strippers playing a trumpet. I also really liked when Electra (Rengin Altay), the Eiffel Tower Girl, turned on all her lights and the stage lights went off and then you could see all her lights twirling everywhere. There was a girl named Tessie Tura (Barbara E. Robertson) who was on pointe shoes and then she would do a bunch of beautiful movements and then--boom! She would make a jerky movement with her behind. That was funny because you wouldn't expect a ballerina to go boom at any moment.

People who would like this show are people who like newsboys, sexy trumpet girls, and egg rolls. People should definitely go see this show. It is really funny and I love it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review of The Hypocrites' Into the Woods at Mercury Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Into the Woods directed by Geoff Button and it was written by James Lapine and the music and lyrics were by Stephen Sondheim. It was about a Baker (Joel Ewing) and his wife (Allison Hendrix) and how they wanted to have a child, but they had been cursed by a witch (Hillary Marren). They have to get a bunch of different items to put in the antidote. In doing that they meet Cinderella (Sarah Bockel), Jack (Aubrey McGrath) from Jack and the Beanstalk, a mysterious man (Blake Montgomery), Little Red Riding Hood (Hannah Dawe), and Rapunzel (Bockel). It is trying to say, this is what real life in a fairy tale would be like: not very good. I think this show is a really cool show; it is funny, scary, and sad too.

When you are first introduced to the Baker and his wife, you don't think they are going to be very big characters, but they end up being very big characters. Well, not as big as the giant. Ba dump shh! These characters are very fun characters and you get to know them more than anybody else. You get to learn about what they were feeling, They acted like husband and wife: they weren't always nice to each other and they had fights. They loved each other, but they still had fights. They are in this play to make it more realistic; they want to show what a fairy tale would be like if it was real. They start with them because they don't want to start with a fairy godmother, a evil witch, or a talking rabbit because you will never see those things but you have seen a man and his wife having fights.

There was this song called "Giants in the Sky" and I memorized it by heart; that is how much I like it. I really liked this performance because he really told the story like it was his story, not just about some guy named Jack. I think this is a very catchy song. When I am walking down the street or in the car, I just sing it. It is about how he likes visiting Giants and he likes what he gets out of it. Even though he feels smaller, he feels adventurous. But his mom (Kate Harris) doesn't like him being adventurous so he gets angry at his mom even though he loves her. And that is something that happens in real life.

The princes (Will Skrip and Michael Brown) had a song together called "Agony" and they stepped like ballerinas in this song. I thought it was really funny. And the princes were just singing "Agony! Oh it is so much pain!" I believed that they were faking being in pain so that they would lure Cinderella and Rapunzel. They sang the song again after they were married, but this time about Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. And that showed me that they were not very good husbands because they liked too many women. I liked how they sung it so big-ly, like an opera.

I thought it was really sad when people got stepped on. They made it so moving because they made the sound so loud and terrifying. It sounded like bones cracking because they had been stepped on. It was so horrible, even though I knew it was not real. When Rapunzel got stepped on, you felt so sad because you liked that character but also her mom the Witch was so sad. I felt like I would feel the same way if my daughter had died. She felt very sad and she didn't think anything could ever fix it and she just held the remains of her hair and just looked at it and sang a song about how she was trying to be a good mother even though she wasn't really succeeding. She wasn't succeeding because she locked her in a tower and Rapunzel couldn't see the outside world.

They had a lot of funny things as well. I thought it was hilarious when Cinderella was talking to the birds and Red Riding Hood was like, "You talk to birds?!" Cinderella said, "They're my friends" and everybody just looked at her very weirded out. I thought it was very funny when the mysterious man pretended to disappear by putting 3 balloons in front of his face. And then the Baker was like, "O my gosh, he's disappeared!" even though he was standing right there with a balloon in front of his face. I thought it was really funny when the Witch started listing off all of the vegetables. And the Witch just kept getting closer to the Baker and the Baker's Wife and by the end the Baker's Wife was just hiding behind the Baker. Cinderella's Prince (Skrip) fell in love with the Baker's Wife and then a few seconds later he was like, "I have to go." I thought that was really funny because usually people aren't like "I have to go now; I'm sorry but I have to go" if they are really serious about being in love like he pretended he was.

I thought it was really cool how they double cast. Cinderella and Rapunzel were the same person. That is significant because they are sisters-in-law and they never get to meet each other. Jack and the Steward were the same person. Jack, because of a reason I can't tell you, wants to kill the steward, so that means that he wants to kill himself. And Cinderella's Prince is also the Wolf. They are both jerks. You expect that the big bad wolf will be mean, but you don't expect that the prince will be mean. Because the narrator and the mysterious man were the same person, I kind of even thought the mysterious man was the narrator. That would be appropriate because the mysterious man comes back from the dead and the narrator also comes back from the dead. I thought it was really cool how everybody played the cow. It was the opposite of double casting because it was one character, Milky White, played by almost every actor.

People who would like this show are people who like catchy songs about Giants, feeling a lot of different feelings at the same time, and people disappearing behind balloons. People should go see the show because the acting is great and so it the set (by William Boles). It is funny and it makes you feel like you are part of a fairy tale that has gone wrong, but you know that you won't actually get hurt.

Photos: Evan Hanover

Friday, February 14, 2014

Review of Pigeons with Teeth's East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It was directed by Amy Eaton and it was written by Jack Helbig. This was performed by kids but it was really great! Sometimes kids' productions are not that great. But I asked my mom afterwards in the car if I could join this group, so I really liked it! The play was about a girl named Siri (Sophie Jones) and the narrator was Joseph Campbell (Sebastian French). At the very beginning she told him he died, and he was sad about that--that he died a long time ago. Then Siri says, "Why don't you tell the story? It will make you feel better." The story is a fairy tale about Siri and she has to go and rescue a prince. Joseph Campbell breaks in with strange narrations and talks for awhile about whatever is happening in the story; he tells you more of the bigness of the story.

Siri had a very big family (Ava Dieden, Stevie Early, Kaidin Jarjusey, Ruth Johnston, Jesse Ramsayer, Nadia Stodder, and Peter Stodder) and they all loved her very much but they were very poor so they had to give her away to a Giant White Bear (Liam F. Winchester) and they got richness in return. I liked that the relationship between Siri and the Great White Bear was not the usual for fairy tales. It would usually be the bear was a bad guy. He wasn't mean to Siri and he didn't want to crush her and eat her bones. They played Care Bear games together!

There were three senior citizens (Ava, Ruth, and Nadia) and each of them had a thing made out of gold. I thought it was really funny when Joseph Campbell said "Old woman" and they were like, "No, no, no! Call us senior citizens!" I thought that the senior citizens were very funny when they were like, "It's the wig, girl! That's what makes us all so similar!" They literally switched off the wig onstage!

There were a bunch of different winds: North Wind (Zeb Eaton), South Wind (Peter), East Wind (Stevie) and West Wind (Kaidin). They are important because they are the ones who get Siri to the Prince (Zeb) when he's been kidnapped. I thought that their costumes were really cool. (I also liked both of Siri's outfits.) When Siri gets on the winds' backs it is really heavy for them because she has all these magical golden objects. That was really really funny.

There was a princess with a foot for a nose (Auden Dieden) and I thought that she was hilarious! I loved how she acted like a valley girl; I thought that was really funny! The evil stepmother (Stevie) was also really funny because she acted like a very fancy mother. She was like, "How much do you want for that golden apple?" I liked how Siri was very nonchalant whenever the princess with a foot for a nose and the stepmother were asking how much did she want for that golden magical object.

When the Prince was asleep, a Magic Bee (Journey Early) came to him and started talking to him. I thought the magic bee was adorable. I liked how she didn't go over the top about being the bee. The Prince seemed to really like Care Bears. Because he used to be a bear, I thought that was funny. Maybe he liked Care Bears so much because he used to be a bear!

People who would like this show are people who like Bear Princes, Joseph Campbell, and magical golden objects. I thought that this was a really great show and I really liked it. Saturday is the last show, so go and see it!

Photo: Amy Eaton

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review of Saint Joan at ShawChicago Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a reading and it was called Saint Joan. It was written by George Bernard Shaw and directed by Robert Scogin. It was about Joan of Arc (Jhenai Mootz) and about her life and what people thought of her. I think this was different from The Lark because this wasn't her life story as much as The Lark. This was more about the struggles that her friends and her enemies had. It was about what kind of impression Joan gave to a lot of people. It was different things to different people. Like Dunois (Jonathan Nichols) thought of Joan as a great soldier and Courcelles (Mathew Gall), the guy who was obsessed with her stealing the horse, thought of her as a robber. I think this is a long play, but it is the best-acted play I've seen at Shaw Chicago. I liked how there were some humorous parts and some sad parts.

This Joan was different from the Joan in The Lark. She was different because this one was not as good at going with whatever was thrown at her. She was very self confident and thought more about herself than other people. She didn't have as good relationships with the other characters. Shaw saw her as a very feminist person that could go a bit too far sometimes. Anouilh thinks that Joan is somebody people should remember as someone who went through a lot of bad things but she is more loving and kind than Shaw's Joan. Shaw's Joan doesn't care what other people think because she feels like God and her are the most important things. She isn't like any other women in her time, even though there were some other feminist women. The point is that Shaw thinks that people should be feminist but they are sometimes too feminist and people will want to stop that.

The Dauphin (Gary Alexander) is a very selfish character but also he couldn't hurt anything. I think he likes Joan but he doesn't feel like she should be respected more than he is. Sometimes when he is not nice to Joan you don't care because Joan is not very nice either. I think this actor did a good job at being this character. When he first met Joan, he was talking to her like he had known her for years. And then when he had known her for years he acted like he didn't know her! He told her a lot of things when he first met her, but he didn't tell her as much after he had known her.

Dunois was the name of Joan's friend but she calls him Jack. I think that Jack was the one who had the most friendly relationship with Joan because of how Joan talked to him. Jack was one of my favorite character because he was nicer than some of the other characters. When he came out at first he was like, "Oh my gosh, this Joan is magic." He said that because she changed the wind for him. He had tried to to do everything to get it to change. He prayed. He wrote poetry. But when Joan came on the ship the wind just started to blow the right way.

The epilogue was probably the strangest epilogue ever. It is strange because the Dauphin was having a dream and all the ghosts of Joan and Cauchon (Matt Penn) and even just other people who were dreaming were all there in that last scene. That was where Joan found out she'd become a saint. And also everybody just came on at different moments. And the guy who was a British soldier (Jack Hickey) and had held the cross for her and he went in heaven and was like a saint for the anniversary of that moment and then he had to go back to hell. I thought this was a strange ending like I'd never seen before. I don't really know what to think about it. It is called Saint Joan because it is a more important title and Shaw thinks that she left an important mark on history. But in the epilogue he shows that people don't want her to come back because she caused a lot of trouble. Shaw thinks they should have been like, "Yes! We want you to come back to life!" It is because he thought that she could have maybe been a little bit of a better person that she was before. She could have given hope all around the world.

People who would like this show are people who like feminism, the suspense of war, and horse robbery. People should see this show because it is educational and at some points it can be scary and at some points it can be funny.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review of Dead Broads Yapping at The Public House Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Dead Broads Yapping. It was directed by Stacey Smith. It was about Amelia Earhart (Caroline Nash), Joan of Arc (Courtney Crary), and Jackie Kennedy (Marie Maloney) doing a talk show with a bunch of people who were dead. I thought it was a great idea for a show, but I thought the characters could have been less on one note. You didn't have to think, "why is this character angry about this?" or "why is this character smiling?" because one character was angry about everything and one was always smiling. I understand that sketch comedy usually doesn't have a lot of dimensions, but I still think it would have been better to have more dimensions for the characters. Even if the characters didn't have many layers, there were still some funny parts!

I think it was a funny idea because you usually don't think of those people who were so different meeting in the afterlife. I think of Jackie Kennedy meeting her husband, not Joan of Arc and Amelia Earhart. You would never imagine them having a talk show; you wouldn't even imagine them meeting. It is a really funny concept. During the talk show there were different segments. They do interviews with different people that are dead but they also do individual segments. Like Amelia Earhart does things that are "flying off the shelves" literally and figuratively. My favorite one was Jackie Kennedy's Fashion Oh Nos. I like it because of how she only said oh no to things you see people walking around the street wearing today but she said oh yes for brooches and pea coats and hats and she didn't have pictures of just random people wearing those. She had pictures of her wearing them!

Eli Whitney (Ben Larrison), who invented the cotton gin, when they asked him questions because he was one of the guest stars, always replied "I invented the cotton gin." He always answered in the same way, just looking forward and stuttering. Then he always ended up saying the same thing, "I invented the cotton gin." I really liked it when Teddy Roosevelt (Keenan Camp) wrestled the wine bottle because it was really funny. I think that was the funniest part of the show. It was so funny because he basically tackled the wine bottle, and even though the bottle wasn't putting up any force, he acted like it was. Teddy Roosevelt was there as their manager. I thought that was a very clever idea.

I have been seeing a lot of Joan of Arc stuff. And my next review will be of St. Joan; so you have that to look forward to--more Joan of Arc stuff. This Joan of Arc was more angry and she was never sad, she was only angry. When Joan of Arc came on stage I knew she was different than the other Joans I've seen lately because she was less girly and the other two were always kind. This Joan was never kind. I think that the actress depicted Joan that way because she thought that she was a very manly woman because she went to war. She was always very serious because of her religion. In the other plays Joan was happy sometimes and she didn't wear her armor everywhere and she had a sense of humor and was not deadpan. In Dead Broads Yapping, they kind of made fun of Joan of Arc. I knew they would make fun of her, but I didn't know it would be in this way.

People who would like this show are people who like crazy depictions of historical characters, brooches attached to pea coats and hats, and Teddy Roosevelt wrestling a wine bottle. A lot of people will like this. I saw a lot of people having a good time!

Photo: Heather Scholl Photography

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review of Promethean Theatre Ensemble's The Lark

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Lark. It was written by Jean Anouilh, adapted by Lillian Hellman, and directed by John Arthur Lewis. It's about Joan of Arc (Aila Peck)and about her life. People are telling her life in her trial and then they act it out. I think that Jean Anouilh looked at the transcript of Joan's trial and then that is why he wanted to put not just her story but what they were talking about in her trial. I think that Jean Anouilh wanted to show us that they should have given her another chance and just let her go. It is about religion and what things can be good about war and what can be bad about war. War is good for Joan because it allows her to show everybody women can go into war too and defend their country. It is bad because people get hurt who have families and they won't come back to their families. I liked this play because it told me a lot about Joan that I didn't know from the books that I read.

I really liked how they used the set (designed by Lewis). At first I was like, "How are they going to do it just with these grey blocks?" but they made it work and it was great. I thought they used them very well. The Spanish Inquisitor (Nick Lake), I thought that how he had a special seat was very cool because I think the Inquisitor would have a special seat. You didn't notice him at first but then during the second act, you're like, "Woah! I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition" because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. (I borrowed that joke from Monty Python's Flying Circus.) He was suprising because you never glanced over into that corner because all the action was happening on other blocks. If he was in a giant fancy throne instead of sitting on those tall blocks, everyone would be looking at the the throne because it was so glittery.

I though that the Dauphin (Peter Eli Johnson) wasn't nice to his wife the Little Queen (Meghann Tabor) because he was basically making his wife friends with the girl Agnes (Heather Smith) that he was having an affair with. Then the mistress was being very pushy about wanting to have these special hats for them at the party. When he started talking about how he thought his wife was okay but a little pushy but he didn't like his mistress and I'm just like, "Just break up with your mistress and just tell your wife that there is something you don't like her doing!" I thought the way he talked to Joan was really horrible; he was like "You are just a girl so I shouldn't listen to you." But Joan actually helped him to get rid of the people who were telling him what to do. We are not supposed to really like the Dauphin because he is mean to Joan sometimes, and Joan's the hero.

There are a lot of unfeminist people in this, including a drunk man Beaudricort (Brian Hurst), who thinks the only thing great about a woman is her body. But Joan ends up convincing him that she is not there because she thinks he's hot, but because she wants a horse, some armor, and a armed escort. I think Joan's Father (John Walski) was another not feminist person. He thought that women should just obey men and if they ran off with someone they should just be killed rather than be in love with a man. When the father tried to strangle Joan I was scared for her, and I wondered why does she have to be treated this way? The Mother (Kimberly Logan) is not as bad as the father because she is nicer to Joan but she is still not feminist. She doesn't think about going on giant adventures to go and save France; she thinks about cooking, plucking chickens and raising a family. That is all she thinks about.

The people in the trial were Cauchon (Brian Parry), The Spanish Inquisitor, Warwick (Brian Pastor) and Ladvenu (Brendan Hutt). Ladvenu was Joan's confessor and was the only nice person in the entire room. He wanted for Joan to be safe and not to be burned and was even happy that she had to go to jail instead of die. Warwick was a jerk but he was not as bad as the Spanish Inquisitor. I think he was nicer to Joan than some other people were because he actually liked Joan. I could tell because he said that to Joan when she was in prison. He couldn't say that in court because he would probably get killed for saying that. Cauchon was kind of nice to Joan but sometimes he could be a little harsh. He didn't yell at her all the time; when he told her she would have to spend the rest of her life in prison he wasn't happy. He seemed like he was having a hard time, but I think maybe he did sort of like running the trial.

When Joan was being burned I thought it was a good idea that they didn't put it on stage because it just wouldn't have worked on stage. I also really liked the ending; it was something along the lines of "Let's not remember Joan being burned at the stake; let's remember her in her finest moments." And that was after Joan was already dead, and I think that is right. She is known as the girl who was burned at the stake, but we should remember her as the girl who made France win the war. It made me feel very sad when Joan dies, even though I knew it was going to happen, because she is amazing and I feel like you really got to know the character and feel like she was a really brave character.

People who would like this show are people who like history, feminism, and surprising Spanish Inquisitions. People should definitely go and see this show because if you don't know a lot about Joan of Arc it will tell you a lot of stuff that you didn't know and the acting is great.

Photos: Tom McGrath

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review of Rose and the Rime at The House Theatre of Chicago

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Rose and the Rime. It was by Nathan Allen, Chris Mathews, and Jake Minton, and it was directed by Nathan Allen. It is about a girl named Rose (Paige Collins) who goes on this adventure to defeat a witch to get a coin. It is about girl power and how girl power's power can go a little too far sometimes. It is also about how stories can happen over and over again. I really liked this show. I think people should go see it because it is a very fun show but also there are some suspenseful moments.

I thought that all of the ensemble (Kara Davidson, Sam Guinan-Nyhart, Brandon Markell Holmes, Christine Mayland Perkins, Ericka Ratcliffe, Michael E. Smith, Jeremy Sonkin, Dan Toot, and Tamara White) were really awesome and good at portraying the villagers and the rabbits and the wolves. The villagers were easy to tell apart. For example, there was the artist, the drunk, the mail person, the old lady, and the guy who like barbecues. For some of the story they like Rose and some of the story they don't. They are all trying to do what is right, but the villagers' sadness gets them angry at Rose because they think she is causing all their troubles.

I thought that everybody did a great job using the rabbit puppets and making them seem alive. Of course the puppeteers were right there, so I knew that the rabbits weren't actually real, but they seemed kind of alive if you didn't look at the puppeteers. I thought that the bunny puppets were really really cute. The wolves were sort of scary; I thought that the wolf masks (by costume designer Melissa Torchia) were really cool. And the tree trick was really cool. I was sort of scared that the tree was going to fall on me--in a good way. I thought the swinging was really fun but scary. I thought that the swing and the trees and the rest of the set (by Collette Pollard) was also really awesome.

I thought that when Rose went sledding it was so fun I wanted to get on the sled with her. It was awesome because even though it didn't look really like she was sledding, her facial expression showed that she was going sledding. The people holding her up seemed strong. When it started snowing all around and they blew the snow, it was really cool.

Uncle Roger (Smith) was an interesting character because of how he was a part of the story because he was the guardian of Rose and not the mother or father. He was a fatherly figure and Rose thought of him as sort of a father, but he wasn't the father. In the end you are surprised about what you learn about Uncle Roger and how he doesn't have just one relationship with her family. I really liked when he was talking about where babies came from, but he talked about it in the strangest way: he said "They come from the oven." And when Rose said, "Why don't you make one now?" he said, "I can't make it. It is a very difficult recipe."

After Rose rescues the town and makes it summer, there are these two brothers who come along Charlie (Guinan-Nyhart) and Jimmy (Holmes). And they come from a regular place and they don't know about any curses or stuff like that. I thought that these characters provided a change in the show because of how they influenced Rose. The first half is Rose as a kid and the second half was about her being more grown up. Because of them you find out that she's growing up.

One of the cool but scary parts was when the Witch (Ratcliff) came on and starts talking to Rose and starts flying about with her giant ice claws. You don't really hate her because she is scary and attacks Rose but she doesn't actually hurt her. Even if she is an evil witch she is capable of loving people. You don't usually expect that from a witch, but it is true; the Witch actually loves people.

People who would like this show are people who like nice-evil witches, rabbits, and babies that come from the oven. This show is funny, suspenseful, and good to take your friends to. I took my friend Lana and we had a blast!

Photos: Michael Brosilow