Monday, March 31, 2014

Review of Corn Productions' Bat-Hamlet

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Bat-Hamlet. It was not a batty Hamlet, it was a Bat-man Hamlet. Nananananananana Nananananananana Nananananananana Nananananananana Baaaat-Haaaamlet! It was written by Jordan Pulliam and directed by Kallie Noelle Rolison. It was about Hamlet (Matthew Lunt) becoming Bat-Hamlet. And he had a sidekick, Songbird Boy (Raymond Hui), a.k.a. Horatio. They have a bunch of enemies: King Jester (Lucas Thatcher), Lord Puffin (Patrick A. Pantelis), and Lord Riddles (Pete Navis). They correspond to Claudius, Polonius, and I have no idea who Lord Riddles is. Bat-Hamlet Girl, a.k.a. Barbara (Kalina Kitten McCreery) was Gertrude. O-Feline (Kelly Schmidt) was Ophelia and Laertes (T. Isaac Sherman) was Green Laertes. I thought this show was hilarious and I loved it. It fills in all the thoughts that you might have about Hamlet and how it can be Bat-manned up.

I loved the scene with Lord Riddles trapping Bat-Hamlet and Songbird Boy. I loved how as his threat he used a king cobra with a hand grenade in his mouth in a jar made out of ice. I loved that because it was like the weirdest thing you could ever try to kill someone with. He could bite you and then it would be like BOOSHSHSHSH! But not until the ice melted. But of course the grenade could explode before that and you wouldn't really need the cobra or the ice. You could just have the hand grenade (or the cobra) but instead they put them both in the jar of ice with a hand grenade in the snakes mouth! It was more like Batman that Hamlet. That sounds like the weirdest episode of the old t.v. show, which I actually watch. And I love it.

Ophelia and Barbara having their fight was awesome. It was awesome because it was very breathtaking as well as you also at that same time figured out Ophelia was O-Feline which I think was the most kick-bottom thing in the world. They were amazing fighters and the fight choreography (by Orion Couling) was awesome. I also really liked the fight with the Jester's thugs Jingle (Lindi Blake Jones) and Jape (Emilia Hodges)--I would mention Jest (Derik Iverson) but he was dead already--and Bat-Hamlet and Songbird Boy. At first Songbird Boy and Bat-Hamlet were being beat, but then Songbird Boy did the splits and punched them. I thought that was really awesome because usually it is like, Bat-man saves the day! But this time it was like Songbird Boy saves the day! All of the thugs come to a gruesome end. My favorite one was when Jape was killed by a killer muffin because that was another way that no one would never ever think somebody would ever die by.

One of my favorite characters was the Unnamed Guard (Rory Leahy) because he was just so hilarious and it was like even he didn't know his name. I loved it when he said, "What shall be next for the unnamed guard? Shall he find love? Shall he go on a daring adventure?" There are definitely characters like this in most Shakespeare plays. Like Bernardo in Hamlet. He just tells you what's going on, but sometimes when I see actors playing roles like that I kind of see in their faces, "please, give me some more lines! give me a name! anything!"

O-Feline (a.k.a. Ophelia) was basically my favorite character. She was awesome. My favorite character in Hamlet is Ophelia and my favorite character in Bat-man is Cat-woman, so my mind was blown. Booshshsh. At the beginning, she invited her kittens to come and keep her company, and I thought, "That doesn't make sense." But then when she came on in the O-Feline suit I was like, "I perfectly understand why there were cats back there." I also liked how Laertes was like, "Yeah. I'm the best big brother in the world," it was basically like a teenage brother. I don't have one, but that is what I imagine a teenage brother would be like.

I loved it how Fortibras (Jade Landry) came in at the end and was like, "Hey! Everybody! Who wants to come have a drink with Fortinbras! The entire royal family is dead! Wooooo hooooo!" Then he walks off doing a crazy dance move. It is like an exaggeration of the end of Hamlet. At the end of Hamlet you feel sad and Fortinbras comes in and is like "Hey everybody, I'm going to take over now, ok?" And this was like an exaggeration of that.

Hamlet and Bat-man you wouldn't think go perfectly together. I was worried it was going to be super bad, but it was not at all. It was awesome. They do go together. Hamlet and Bat-man are actually very similar people. They are both very dark, they both have a mixed-up girlfriend (one because she's evil and one because she's crazy), they both have a sidekick/friend, and they are both seeking justice. Sometimes they could have done even more funniness. I thought it would have been cool if Commissioner Gordon and Alfred were Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Like Alfred-stern and Comissioner-crantz.

People who would like this show are people who like mind-blowing transformations, awesome fights, and a jar made out of ice with a king cobra inside with a grenade it its mouth. People should go see this show because it is awesome and hilarious. I was laughing basically throughout the entire thing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review of Erth's Dinosaur Zoo at Broadway Playhouse

Once upon a time I went to show and it was called Dinosaur Zoo: Live on Stage. It was about dinosaurs and how they became dinosaurs and how they became extinct. It has awesome puppets and if you are lucky you might get to go up on stage and feed the dinosaurs and stuff. Only a few lucky people get to do that. But everybody gets to see the dinosaurs get to come to life on stage. I thought that it was pretty fun overall because you got to feel like you were at a campfire with dinosaurs all around you. You forget that they are puppets along the way.

I liked the Tyrannosaurus Rex; I thought it was cool how it still had some feathers that hadn't fallen off yet. Little T-Rexes had feathers when they were babies but this one was 5, so it still had some. I thought the puppeteers did a good job making it seem alive. And when the eyes blinked, I was like "aaaah!" I also really liked the triceratops. I liked how when it had to go offstage it made puppy eyes. If a dinosaur can make puppy eyes, this dinosaur made puppy eyes. I also liked how it would be proud when the narrator (Aimee Louisanne) was trying to explain how great they were after making a bad comment, also known as her saying, "Triceratops was one of the least intelligent creatures."

I liked the Leaellynasaura. They were so cute. I had never heard of this kind of dinosaur and that was very educational I thought and awesome. I learned that they liked to snip at each other and that they got lonely and it had to stay with another one of its kind to be happy. I thought that it was cute how they loved kisses; I don't think that is a scientific fact though. The baby dinosaurs I thought were adorable. There was a Triceratops, Parasaurolophus, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. They were all really cute, and I liked how they had to be scratched under the chin and they were all basically very happy. That was kind of a noneducational part of it--it just made you go "aww."

Here is one thing that I didn't like very much about the show. I didn't like how the narrator said at the beginning, "these are just puppets, so don't be scared" but then a little bit later she was pretending they were real. I think that might have made the littler kids scared when she said, "come up on stage and be a victim--I mean a volunteer." Little kids didn't get the joke because their minds aren't developed that way yet. There was a little boy named AJ who got very scared on stage because the Tyrannosaurus Rex was roaring and Aimee the narrator was throwing her body over him to protect him. I think she was just trying to make the audience laugh and it looks like she had no idea that it was upsetting him. But I knew he was terrified up there: he had stage fright and dinosaur fright. That made me feel scared for him that he was going to burst into tears and be really sad.

I got to be touched by one of the Megneura in my seat. They had them fly around. They are basically like vampire dragonflies. They had something that looked like giant fangs! They were awesome and I'm glad that almost everyone got to touch them. Those insects were not dinosaurs. They were something that lived around the same time. They were in the show to show you what bugs were like at that time; they were giant and had giant eyes but they basically looked like insects do today. I thought it was cool.

People who would like this show are people who like adorable dinosaur babies, awesome T-Rexes, and Leaellynasaura who aren't very obedient. People should go see this show because it is funny, has awesome puppets, and you can go with your entire family. This is a really fun show; I took my friends Lana and Maggie to it and we all had a great time.

Photos: C. Waits

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review of The Plagiarists' War Song

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called. War Song. It was by Jessica Wright Buha and directed by Jack Dugan Carpenter. It is about a man who was in the Civil War and his name was Christian Fleetwood (Breon Arzell) and he wants to go and tell people in the South that they should treat African-American people more fairly, specifically that they should be able to be in the army and be something higher than a soldier, like a general. He encounters something that does not want him to go give his speech, in other words, his wife Sara Fleetwood (Jyreika Guest). But he keeps trying and Abraham Lincoln (Derik Marcussen) and Walt Whitman (Christopher Marcum) come and talk to them. She is worried that he'll get hurt or people will see that he was in the Union army and kill him. Lincoln and Walt Whitman are not scared because they are both dead and ghosts. This show tells you about someone's actual life and what it was like at that time and how even after the Civil War African-American people still were not treated equally.

The character of Abraham Lincoln was I thought a little bit strange because I found out when I saw this play that he was not actually fully not racist. That made me feel like, oh my gosh, I never knew that. It is sad to know that because you wanted him to be a good person, and he was not actually always the kind of person we wanted him to be. He did do good things but not all his thoughts were the kind of thoughts that were good. He contradicted himself, but I think that should have been Walt Whitman's role. (People have to get the joke by themselves.) I didn't like it how Abraham Lincoln was like, keep the gun outside because it reminds me of the incident; it seemed very cheesy because I understood that it reminded him of when he died and that seems like a Dracula movie or something. I think they wanted the audience to notice it more than I would have liked.

I thought that Sara and Christian's relationship was a really interesting one. It wasn't like most things where the wife is like very supportive of the husband. She is very scared for him and she doesn't want him to go. Christian thought that the war was a chance to show the world what African-American people could do. And Sara thought that people got hurt in war and that is bad no matter what they think. Sara thought that Liberia was a nice place and they should go there instead of here. And then Christian didn't want to go because he loved America too much. Sara feels like some of America is a good place and some is a bad place but in Liberia everywhere is good.

It thought it was really cool how Walt Whitman baked pie because he actually was a good baker in real life. And I liked how when they were talking about the smell of the pie you could actually smell pie. Then I thought it was a little bit weird when he came out that he didn't have any real pie at all, just ghost pie. That was a little bit more appropriate because he was a ghost. I liked the character of Walt Whitman; I thought he was an interesting character to have in this show because he thought war and death were both beautiful things. He loves pie and death because they are both beautiful things. He thought that everything was beautiful and he was almost always happy. I don't think that everything is beautiful, so I am not exactly like Walt Whitman, but I am kind of like Walt Whitman.

People who would like this show are people who like protective wives, Abraham Lincoln contradicting himself, and ghost pies. I learned about the Fleetwoods from the the Civil War who I hadn't heard of before. It wasn't an I-love-everything-about-America show because Sara didn't even want Christian to support even the good parts of America. We need to have shows that are like this one because it would be a lie that everything about America is good. I think the right thing is to support the good part of America but find a way to make the bad parts good.

Photos: Joe Mazza--Brave Lux Photography

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Preview of Motown the Musical

Once upon a time I went to a press conference and it was about Motown. It was fun, but I wish I could have asked questions to the actors. I am looking forward to this show because when they sang "Dancing in the Street" on the steps of the Oriental Theatre it sounded amazing! It also seems exciting that there are two kids (Leon Outlaw Jr. and Reed L. Shannon about my age in it playing Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder as kids. I'm also looking forward to seeing the relationship that Diana Ross and Berry Gordy had. I can't wait until this show is going to happen. Look for my review!

Photo: Mom

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It was directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler. The lyrics were by Tim Rice and the music was by--guess!--Andrew Lloyd Webber, as most musicals are. It was based on the story of Joseph (Ace Young) from the Bible and it is about his "coat of many colors" and how his brothers pretended to kill him and they wanted to actually kill him. It is also about basically his trip to Egypt and then he has to go to jail and he tells about the dreams people are having. Some of them are having good dreams and some of them are having bad, and Joseph told them all--even the Pharaoh (Ryan Williams)--what was going to happen to them. I think this is a great show and the songs were amazing!

I loved the song, "Go, Go, Go Joseph." It was definitely in my head for the rest of the day, and even longer, but in a good way. I thought that Joseph and the Narrator (Diana DeGarmo) even just singing "ahead of my time," that one line was amazing. I also really liked the dance number that went with it, especially how he was in jail and it was like they were encouraging him while he was there. I also liked that they were singing all together and they had basically their own Joseph outfits; everybody was dressed in white except the narrator. The song was in there because they wanted to encourage Joseph to go and be optimistic.

I really liked, "Those Canaan Days," which I call "The French Song" because some of it was spoken in French and they also had a backdrop that was covered in baguettes. And whenever Simeon (Paul Castree) said Joseph, his father Jacob (William Thomas Evans) started crying, so then even when Simeon would say, "Ever since we lost…" without the word Joseph in it, you would still hear the father go "waah!" I thought that that was pretty funny. I'm even laughing right now. At the moment you are reading this, I might still be laughing, and I probably will be.

The Pharaoh, also known as Elvis Presley, I thought was hilarious. I loved it how all the girls would come up in their Pharaoh hats and faint whenever he did a move. I also really liked how the Pharaoh and Joseph had basically a "who's sexier?" contest. Joseph actually won because he did a hip circle instead of just a hip bump. They also had a handshake that they did with each other. I think that made Joseph feel more at home with the Pharaoh because he had had a special handshake with his father too. The one with his father was basically just a chest bump and his with the Pharaoh was basically a bunch of hip rolling. At the end, the Narrator and Joseph had just bowed, and then the Pharaoh came on and did a few hip circles and the Narrator fainted. I though that was comedy gold.

I thought that the projections (by Daniel Brodie) were mostly a.w.e.s.o.m.e. One of my favorites was when all the girls in very flow-y cloaks held hands and made projections of animals running and what it looks like to be in a car on their cloaks. I thought that some of the projections looked like they were just there, and they kind of looked like plain old projections and not used in a creative way. But I did really like at the end when they pulled down the screen behind Joseph and attached it to his coat and then he had an coat that stretched throughout the entire stage. They were projecting on the screen and that made it look like his coat was very long.

People who would like this show are people who like awesome projections, amazing dances, and Elvis Presley becoming a Pharaoh. It was a toe-tapper; I was actually literally tapping my toes. I think this is good for kids and adults. I saw many kids there, and I had a great time. It is a good one to go to with your friends; I went with my friend Heather and she had a great time too!

Photos: Daniel Brodie & Daniel A. Swalec

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review of Rock of Ages (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Rock of Ages. The book was by Chris D'Arienzo and it was directed by Kristin Hanggi. And it was choreographed by Kelly Devine. It was about a waiter and a waitress who fell in love. Their names were Drew (Dominique Scott) and Sherrie (Shannon Mullen). They were a city boy and a small-town girl that started to work at this rock and roll club called The Bourbon Room. It is making fun of all those movies in the 80s. It had a message: that love can happen anywhere, even a rock and roll bar. It said that being famous isn't always the best because Stacie Jaxx (Joshua Hobbs) is famous and a horrible guy. I think this was a good show; my favorite act was clearly the second act because that one I found way more funny. I think everyone did a good job acting like insane rock people.

Two of my favorite characters were Regina (Jessica Pucek) and Franz (Tanner Hussar). I think that they were a perfect couple because they both wanted to save The Bourbon Room and how they both went against his father in their own matching suits. The song was "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," and I have heard that song a lot in the car with my friends. They were in pink and blue sparkly outfits--cotton candy colors, perfect for Franz because he was interested in confectionary sweets. I thought it was hilarious. I was laughing very hard.

Stacee Jaxx and Drew are completely different people. One of them is completely nice. The other is completely jerk. And Joshua Hobbs I think did a great job being a jerk. He was a jerk because he liked to make out with women every time that it was possible. And he treated them like he didn't know who they were afterwards. He kept calling her Rachel, but her real name was Sherrie. Ring a bell? That made you feel very angry at Stacee Jaxx. He liked to make out with women in the men's bathroom which was very strange because there was a toilet then. I think that Dominique Scott did a great job at pretending that he is not very good at talking on first dates…or opening bottles. I loved it when he was trying to open the bottle while he was trying to talk romantically to Sherrie. I thought it was hilarious; I was laughing so hard I almost fell over.

Mama Justice (Kadejah Oné) I think was an amazing singer. She could hold notes longer than I could even imagine. And I also think Drew was amazing at that. Mama Justice runs a strip club but she is the nicest person ever to own a strip club. I loved how she seemed to give good advice even though what she thought was the best job was stripping. Sherrie I thought was also a very good singer and she could sing very very high and it still sounds nice. Sherrie basically accidentally goes into stripping. I thought that seemed like Flashdance, and that is an 80s movie. It reminded me of that and Gypsy. I don't think that is very reasonable or very much like real life. Except for Gypsy, which is about a real person.

Lonny (Andrew Sklar) and Dennis (Brian Ashton Miller) were basically like the bar's owners. One of my favorite moments was when they sang "Can't Fight This Feeling." I loved it when Lonny jumped into Dennis' arms and he started twirling him around up in the air. I also really liked how at the end Lonny grabbed the little smoke machine and he wrote in smoke a heart and Lonny and Dennis stuck their heads into it. I'm not sure they were in love with each other, but I think that they were like best friends. I think they were RBBFF, rock beer best friends forever. And they loved to be silly together.

People who would like this show are people who like unexpectedly nice strip bar owners, rock and roll waiters who can't open bottles, and RBBFFs. When people go and see this show, they should definitely take earplugs. I forgot mine and my mom had to make some out of tissues. People should definitely go and see this show. It is a really funny show and most of the show cracked me up.

Photos: Scott Suchman

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review of Forks and Hope's Best Beloved: The Just So Stories at Strawdog Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Best Beloved: The Just So Stories. It was based on the book by Rudyard Kipling, devised by Forks and Hope, and it was directed by Josh Sobel. It was about a woman (Alexis Randolph) whose child has just died and Rudyard Kipling's spirit (Andrew Bailes) came to her when she was reading the Just So Stories and helped her feel better because he had lost a child too. She reads the stories and they are basically reenacted around her. Most of the time it is sad, but at some little points it is funny. It made me think about what that mother was going through and if I was a mother would I have to go through that.

There was this story called "The Cat Who Walked by Himself." And it was about a Cat (Emily Gann) who walked all alone and he didn't like any company. The animals are learning how to obey humans but the cat was like, "I can go anywhere I like because I am the cat who walks by himself and all places are alike to me." He was kind of sassy. But then when the woman Casey Pilkenton) conjured a spell she lured all the animals and made them obedient by giving them what they wanted. I thought the sheep was hilarious when they said they had sheep for dinner; it was really funny because the man (Andrew Bailes) just came and plucked the sheep from behind the curtain and the sheep said "oooooh god." I thought it was really funny how the horse (Errol McLendon) put a pompom in his pants to make a tail. I liked how the baby (Suzanna Ziko) was crying a lot and then the cat walked into her arms and she was like, "Yay!" I loved when the bat (Christian Stokes) came on in a Batman costume and he talked in this groggy dark voice. Just when it gets funny, they bring up the sad thing again by showing the baby walking off and the mother trying to hug her but then she doesn't get a chance.

I liked the story about the crab who played by the sea. I liked the shadow puppetry with the crab. I liked the wizard (Errol McLendon). I thought that he was really cool; he reminded me of Carl Kasell. I liked the story because of how the little girl, how she basically told the magician where the crab was. I was like, "Yay! The child found that out." A lot of stories at this time, when the book was made, were about the stupidity of children and how they should never play with fire otherwise they will turn into ashes and fall into a gruesome end. I think that Kipling had a good idea to make children believe in themselves--like Lewis Carroll before Kipling and J.K. Rowling after him.

I would have liked it more if there had been a lot more stories, like at least six so they did half. I think that they spent too much time cleaning up the room and crying and a little too much time changing the set. I would have liked to hear about the butterfly who stamped and the how the rhinoceros got its skin and how the leopard got its spots and how the camel got its hump and how the whale got its throat and more about how the alphabet was made. I also had trouble with some of the acting. Lots of children's theater has really really good actors, and that was true of almost all these actors. But some children's theater that I saw when I was little is like very happily expressive. There were times when I felt that way about this show. That makes me feel like, "Why are they so happy?" It makes you feel very strange. It makes you feel, if you are a child, "So that is what they think I am like." Well, I'm not a cute little fluffy bunny that is always happy.

People who would like this show are people who like giant crabs, scared sheep, sassy cats, and hilarious bats. People should go see this show if they want to see a little snippet of Rudyard Kipling and learn about this woman who has lost her child. It tells you what it would be like to have your child die, but there were still some parts that were funny.

Photos: Tom McGrath

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review of The Roper at The Den Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Roper. It was written by Will Dunne and directed by Ron Wells. It was about a man named Lewis Swegles (Tony Bozzuto) and he went to a saloon as a roper. A roper is a person who used to be an outlaw but now works for the government to capture other outlaws. He used to steal horses, but then the government said "hey, why don't you come and work for us." And then he said, "Yes. I would like to do something good in my life." He goes to a saloon and he finds out that they are not only coney men but they also want to steal Abraham Lincoln's body. If you don't know what coney men means, you can learn it from me--ADA GREY! A coney man is a man who make fake money. While Swegles is pretending to help steal Abe Lincoln's body, he starts to become kind of friends with the outlaws. It is about being part of one kind of community and then switching to another kind and then switching another way again. It is about friendship, respect, and robbery. I think this is a really good play. Over the time, you start to like the characters more and more. And then you start to get more protective about the characters and you hope that they will just give the whole thing up and go into making soft toys.

I thought that the set (by Andrew Hildner) was really cool, especially the Lincoln Monument one. I liked the numbers because it reminded me of the real thing. Even though I haven't actually seen it, I have seen pictures. I also really liked how at the bar they had that sculpture of Abraham Lincoln. I also liked how there were pictures of ladies on the mirror. That really told me it was a saloon! I thought that the snake was really convincing. If it was a real snake, that was awesome. And if it wasn't, it was very realistic snake puppetry. When you walked out of the theater at intermission to get a candy bar or some Sprite, as I did, when you come back in, the set is completely changed. Nothing is the same. I thought that was awesome how quick they were.

There was this character called Nealy (John Luzar). He begins and ends the play and he also tells us what happens to Lewis Swegeles afterward. I think the playwright began the play with Nealy coming out and telling us about Lewis Swegeles so then you are prepared not to hate him but to like him. Nealy is good friends with Lewis Swegles and he was asked to be a part of the kidnapping because Lewis told everyone that he was a giant outlaw who everybody had heard of. But of course he actually wasn't and he was not very convincing. But then the outlaws still believed that he was the big outlaw. That made the outlaws look as dumb as they were. And I thought that it was hilarious because Nealy was just like, "Hi. Can I go now?" in a little shaky voice.

Throughout the entire play you love the character of Mullen (Michael Thomas Downey) but he is a very big jerk. He pulls people across tables, throws people against the walls, and points guns at them. He is not exactly the nicest person. But you still like Mullen throughout the whole thing because he is evilly lovable. It makes you happy whenever he's on stage because of the way he is hilariously, lovably ignorant. Hughes (Ted Hoerl)is also lovably ignorant but he is not as cruel, so you aren't surprised that he is so funny and lovable.

I loved the tour guide (Robert Koon). I thought he was amazing. He seemed like a very very cold rock. He liked to give more sass than service. You know that it is not good to steal Abe Lincoln's body, but he makes you wonder if there is some element of rightness because he is just so sassy. You want to see him have his mind blown. This actor played two roles. The other was another of the outlaws but you don't like him as much because he quits on the job. Then I was glad that he came back as a different kind of character; you wouldn't have know that he was the same actor. You knew because of the program.

Tyrell (Brad Woodward), who was a man in the secret service, wanted Lewis Swegles to succeed and keep being their roper. And then he made Lewis Swegles angry because Swegles wanted his name in the newspaper, but he was a secret agent, so he couldn't. He wants to people to know how great he is. People see him as a criminal, but he wants people to see him as a hero. I thought it was really really really funny when Lewis Swegles said, "Oh I just want the kids to see me as a good person." But then Tyrell said, "How many kids do you have?" and Swegles said that he was dreaming of when he found the right girl. That was really funny because if he hadn't met the right woman yet he might never have kids.

People who would like this show are people who like suspense, lovable outlaws, and realistic snakes. It shows you how interesting it was that I was wondering what would have happened if they had gotten away with it. I really liked this show because it was based on a true story and I had never heard of this story before. People should definitely go see this show because it is a very funny show but also very suspenseful. Some kids would be ready to go see this show, but for some it might be too gun-pointy and there was also a tiny bit of swearing.

Photos: Joe Mazza

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review of Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night's Dream at Chicago Shakespeare

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called A Midsummer Night's Dream. This was a shorter version of the original play by William Shakespeare. It was directed and adapted by David H. Bell. It was about four lovers. Lysander (Nate Burger) and Hermia (Tiffany Yvonne Cox) wanted to run away together because they were in love and they couldn't get married because Hermia's father Egeus (Don Forston) wanted her to marry Demetrius (Ryan Hallahan). But Hermia's best friend, Helena (Cristina Panfilio), was in love with Demetrius but Demetrius didn't love her. It is also about two other lovers who are kind of breaking up. They are fairy lovers named Titania (Lanise Antoine Shelley) and Oberon (Eric Parks). The fairies are trying to make all the love perfect and it does work out, but with a few hiccups at the beginning. And it was also about some schoolboys who want to put on a show within the show. And they do put on the show within the show. I think that for the entire play I was laughing. It was hilarious.

When Helena and Hermia get into a fight it is not really the most pretty sight because they were so angry at each other. I think if it was anybody's fault it was the fairies' fault. Helena has gotten two boyfriends instead of the one she wanted. And she doesn't believe they really like her, but then she realizes, these could be very good defense mechanisms. Hermia is fighting because she thinks that Helena has gained Lysander's heart and been all flirty with him. They were calling each other names, like puppet or short. Short I don't think is as insulting as puppet, but that is mostly what started the fight. There was an awesome vine scene where all the fairies (Wesley Daniel, Max Fabian, Michael Finley, and Justin Cornwell) and Puck (Steven Lee Johnson) had vines and would twist them all around and then the lovers had to run through them. I thought that that was really cool and I really liked that choice.

Titania I thought was amazing. I thought that she seemed so involved in everything. I also really loved her costume (by Melissa Torchia). I thought that it looked very fairy-like. It was kind of creepy fairy, but not really creepy fairy. I thought that she seemed very regal, which is something you need for Titania. I thought that she seemed like she was still in love with Oberon, even though she was angry with him. I loved how in the first scene she was in love with Oberon for a few seconds and then she got angry with him, which I think kind of shows what you don't really like about the character of Titania, which is how she still loves Oberon even though he is fighting over something stupid, which he doesn't even need. He already has Puck and a bunch of other fairies. So that means he doesn't need the Changeling Boy to be his henchman because he could find other little boys who might want more to hang out with him. I really liked how the scenic designer (Scott Davis) went simple for Titania's bed instead of like a bunch of flowers. They still made it flowery by putting up umbrellas. Those could be like giant flowers basically.

Bottom (Alex Weisman) and his friends were all, in this version, kids. You could tell that because of how their clothes were, and how they acted, and how they were happy all the time. Peter Quince (Forston) was like a headmaster. When they found out what their parts were, they were all very excited. I thought that the best actor in the play within the play (not the actual play, I think all the actors were great in the play) was Starveling (Cornwell) who was the Man in Moon. I liked how he wasn't too much, as most of the other ones were. I think that if we were in this time period in this place, he would be the one I would want to hire. Everybody else did a great job at pretending to not be good actors. Flute (Daniel) was just very over the top with his woman voice for Thisbe. I thought that was funny in this context. I think that Snout (Fabian) did a great job with his juggling. Snug (Finley) was very snug in his own tiny little personality; he was never like "aw yeah!" He was always like "hm." But when he got onstage he was more like "ROOOOAR!" I thought that that was awesome because I have never seen Snug played that way. Bottom I think was very over the top but in the best way possible He reminded me of how I always thought Bottom would be. I liked how he butted in when they were giving the parts to say, "I can play every single part!" I thought it was hilarious when he was dying as Pyramus because he kept standing up and saying, "Die!" and then dying and then getting back up and saying "Die!" again, and so on.

People who would like this show are people who like a fairy good relationships gone wrong, cool vine sequences, and very long but hilarious death scenes. I really liked the show and it is perfect to take your children to if you want to give them a taste of Shakespeare. I've seen a lot of Midsummer Night's Dreams, and this is one of my favorites!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review of Chicago The Musical (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Chicago. It was directed by David Hyslop and it was choreographed by David Bushman. The book was by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse. Music was by John Kander and lyrics were by Fred Ebb. It was about a girl named Roxy Hart (Bianca Marroquin) who went to jail for murder; she shot someone (Jon-Paul Mateo) who broke up with her. It was still murder, but it was not like she had no reason to do it. But it still was not a good reason to murder someone. It is about murder, adultery, exploitation, and wanting to be a celebrity. This was a sexier show than I am used to, and that made me feel uncomfortable for some of it, but I still really liked a lot of parts of it.

Roxy was different than I expected her to be--in a good way. I thought that she seemed nicer than I thought she would be. I liked how she seemed very happy all the time, even though she was in jail. I actually wanted her to have the baby because she seemed like even though she was kind of inappropriate sometimes she could be a good mom. Even if she were in the worst of circumstances she would still be enthusiastic and wouldn't give up hope. I loved when she said, "The audience loves me, and I love them" and she she did this hugging movement. She was just lovable all the time even though she wasn't exactly the best person. I laughed at a lot of the things she said and did, like when she gave the conductor (Jesse Kissel) her paper that said "Roxy Rocks Chicago!" and she was like, "Look at it. You can look at it for a while. Just take it for a little bit." And while he looked at her paper, she was like, "I'll take over the orchestra." She just waved the baton around randomly and at some moments she would do a little shaking of her butt. She's just so lovable; she's like comedy relief.

Billy Flynn (John O'Hurley) was her lawyer, and he wasn't exactly the best person. And he actually made Roxy a worse person. When you first meet him, he is singing about how all he cares about is love. He cares about love, but what he really cares about is money. The dance number around him I thought was really cool because it seemed like it was really from that time period, the 1920s. Feather dancing was popular in that time.

Amos Hart (Ron Orbach) was Roxy's husband. And he called himself Mr. Cellophane because you could look right at him and never know he's there. That means nobody noticed him. This is probably one of my favorite characters. You felt sorry for him all the time and you wanted to give him attention because he'd never gotten any. Well, he got some from his wife, but just for his wife to give him attention is not enough. I think this performer was really great at this part, even though he probably got more attention in real life, and I thought he did a great job at being sad.

Velma Kelly (Terra C. MacLeod) was Roxy's enemy and friend. I liked how at the end it seemed like after a few years they actually became friends. I liked how she wanted Roxy to be part of the act that she and her sister did. But her sister was dead, also known as she killed her because she was making out with her husband. Velma wanted Roxy to be her friend but only so she would get some attention too. I really liked the song. "When Velma Takes the Stand." It was a cool song because she was very overdramatic. And then at the end, Roxy said, "Can I make a slight bit of criticism?" And then she says, "It stinks!"

People who would like this show are people who like Mr. Cellophane, feather dancing, and lovable murderers. I think this show should be for people 13 and up. I can see it because I am more immune to sexiness than most nine year olds. It is great for grown-ups and teenagers because it is funny, all the dancing is very flexible, and there are things that people in that age range will like better than people in my age range. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is very fun.

Photos: Jeremy Daniel