Monday, July 28, 2014

Review of Nothing Without a Company's Alice in Lincoln Park

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Alice. It was directed by Anna Rose Ii-Epstein and adapted by Michael Monteiro Wise from the book by Lewis Carroll. It was about a young woman named Alice (Taylor Dariarow) who had just moved to Chicago and was just getting to know the city. And then all the creatures in Wonderland are people who live in Chicago. I thought that this show was a blast to be at. It was just so engaging and everything worked so well with the setting in a park. You walk around throughout the park and I like how they are not trying to cover up that you are in Chicago; they want you to see this place as Chicago. You actually felt like you were moving through Wonderland in Chicago. Everything about it just made me happy.

I thought that the White Rabbit (Peter Ash) was a great character to have because he was not a rabbit, really, he was more of a, well, boy. And Alice liked that boy even though he was kind of a jerk. He was dating so many girls at the same time that he didn't even remember Alice's name. He called her Mary Ann. I liked how that happens in the book too when he thinks she's his servant. I also really thought it was funny how the white rabbit had a little tiny tiny pink house and then when Alice grew she just stuck her feet and her arms out the window. When she walks over, Alice is a barbie doll, but then when she grows she just sticks her hand and feet out of the little windows.

The Caterpillar (Alexandra Miller) was a big puppet (designed by Jimmy Jagos). She was a very very big puppet and she was made out of almost everyone in the cast. I thought that was a very funny scene because I really liked it when the Caterpillar said "Wait" in this really valley-girl-like tone and she says it when Alice is so far away that she can barely hear and then Alice turns around and has to slosh all the way back. There were other cool puppets too. I really liked when you are walking at the very beginning there are these birds going wai-an! wai-an! And as you are passing they have all these ridiculous birds, like a pink flamingo getting tossed about in a floppity way and a black and white fuzzy eaglet (Rayme Silverberg), a yellow duck (Miller), and an exotic dodo (Harris Cabrera). They also have speaking parts as they do the caucus race. I liked the caucus race because everybody including the audience got to play in the caucus race.

I liked how the Cheshire Cat (Ivori Skye) had her hair (by William James Reinke) in a way that made it look like cat ears. I thought it was cool how the Cheshire Cat made it through the bushes and you could find its head poking through the bushes while the Mock Turtle (Miller) was talking. I liked how they chose to make the Cheshire Cat female, because they never make it female. I liked how she was cheeky, but she's still nice and helps Alice along the way.

The Mad Hatter's tea party was set under a clump of trees and bushes with a highway running in the back. Good thing the highway wasn't noisy. I liked how the Mad Hatter (Derek Rienzi Van Tassel) and March Hare (Justin Vidovic) were in love but kind of drunk. They were drunk in love. They really seemed to like drinking tea--I think there might have been some alcohol in it! I liked their relationship even though they were kind of drunk because I have never seen a performance where they made the Mad Hatter and March Hare in love. I liked how the Mad Hatter was the boss and everything and everyone listened to him; that was really funny. And I liked how the March Hare called him "Hattie." It showed that the March Hare liked to be his loyal subject and even had a loving nickname for him. I liked the Dormouse (Elizabeth MacDonell) because it was such a funny character to see this puppet go to sleep and be woken up and asked to tell stories and stuff like that. And the Dormouse kind of hiccuped sometimes and that was funny.

The Queen of Hearts (Emily Duke) is a hilarious character. I also liked all the expressions that she did to make this character; she wasn't embarrassed to be acting so weird. The King of Hearts (Evan Sierminski) is always supposed to be afraid somewhat of his own wife and I think he did a great job. I liked his reaction to the queen interrupting him when he was too slow or too nice about something. His reaction was he kind of jumped back and his eyes got bigger. It was very funny. And then he went back to being very very calm. I really liked how the cards (Amy Gorelow) were all played by one person. I thought that was really funny, how they kept narrating spy-style for themselves.

I really liked the costumes (designed by Ryan Tang). Like I really liked the Red Queen's outfit. It was very poofy and very silly, but I really liked it. The poofy stuff reminded me of a Queen Elizabeth ruff. I also really liked the fish's (MacDonell) and frog's (Paige Reilly) outfits. I thought that they looked like prom outfits. I thought those two actresses moved very well in those costumes to make them look like a frog and a fish. They didn't really look like a frog and a fish, but they represented a frog and a fish.

People who would like this show are people who like little pink houses, mad love, and cute rabbit boys. People should definitely go and see this show because it is funny, stretches out your legs, and you'll have a blast. When people go and see this show bring a blanket and a water bottle. This is a really fun and funny show and I think everyone should go and see it!

Photos: Jennifer Sampson

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review of Emerald City Theatre's Charlotte's Web at the Broadway Playhouse

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Charlotte's Web. It was based on the book by E. B. White, adapted by Joseph Robinette, and it was directed by Ernie Nolan. It was about a runt named Wilbur (Liam Dahlborn) who was a very smart pig, well he was smarter than most pigs. He could talk to a spider and he could spell some. Because he is a runt, the man who owns him (Jeremy Pfaff) wants to kill him because he won't grow up to be a prize-winning pig or a pig they are able to sell. But then his daughter Fern (Avery Moss) says that she will take care of him and feed him. Then they can't take care of him anymore so they asks Fern's Uncle Homer (Casey Morris) to take care of him. The problem in the play is that Fern's Uncle Homer might want to turn him into bacon, but then Wilbur makes friends with a spider named Charlotte (Tosha Fowler), and he thinks "everything's going his way." Like in Oklahoma. It is about friendship, hope, how words can save somebody's life, and the rights of pigs. This is a very pig-triotic play.

I think I would have had a lot more fun at this show if not for the people sitting behind us. The problem was that the people sitting behind us did not really know how to control their children. I wouldn't object to kids talking about the show, if their parents reminded them to whisper. And it's adorable when they say something out loud about the show like "Go, Charlotte!" or "I love you, Wilbur." But these kids were doing physical things like throwing their blanket-with-a-head two rows in front of them and then not being sorry when the person picked it up and handed it back to them. They were also kicking my seat like crazy! When you take your kid to the theater, advise them before about how they are not allowed to yell or throw or play during the show. It disturbs everyone around them! And tell them to whisper to you if they want to leave, or have a question, or need to go to the bathroom. Adults need to do this too, but I think adults will remember the rules more.

I think that Charlotte is a great character. I liked her in the book and I liked her in this. I thought this actress did a great job at kind of being the leader of all the farm animals. Even though she might be the smallest, she was the most trustworthy. She is kind of like a smartypants, but she is a good kind of smartypants. She likes to make friends and she doesn't think everybody doesn't deserve to be friends with her because they are dumber than her. I also really liked the part at the beginning of the book and the play when she says "Salutations!" but I wish that, like in the book, the script had made her say that more. I also really liked how Charlotte was a spider-woman more than a spider; I liked that because it made it seem different from the book. I usually don't like that, but this made a good change. I think that she was not over-the-top because she always seemed like the character, but she also was never under what she should be because Charlotte is a really calm character.

Templeton (Erik Strebig) I thought was a very funny character. I like how they brought the 50s kind of into his costume (by Alarie Hammock) like how he had the Mickey Mouse hat. I thought that was pretty funny. Templeton kind of moved like the rat in the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, only he was less evil. It was similar because when he moved he would snap his fingers, but he didn't do the "ahhh" sound. When he came back from the fair the next morning, he had been eating all night and all day, and he kind of seemed like he was drunk, but on food and soda pop. I also liked it when Templeton came back from getting the final word; he sang this little song about how "It's a rat's paradise!" and he had a big lollipop that he did a dance with. I thought it was hilarious.

I really liked the scene where the mother and daughter at the fair (Laura A. Harrison and Lily Dahlborn) went over and looked at Wilbur and said, how cute that little pig was and how he might be the prizewinner. But then Uncle (Jay Mast), who is a pig wearing a leather jacket and sucking on a toothpick, comes over and is like making really weird movements at the girl and her mother, like twirling his fingers and pointing them like guns and clicking. And then the mother is kind of like, "Come on dear, let's go." I thought it was funny because of the way she registered what the pig was doing, but what he was doing was also very funny.

People who would like this show are people who like pigs in leather jackets, mickey mouse hats, and pig-triotic shows. People will enjoy this show because it is funny, bittersweet, and the costumes are great. If I were Charlotte the word that I would put on my web for this show would be "Some Play"!

Photos: Tom McGrath

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review of Seussical the Musical at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Seussical the Musical. It was directed by Scott Weinstein, musical direction by Michael Mahler, and the music was by Stephen Flaherty and the lyrics were by Lynn Ahrens. It was about a Girl (Emily Chang) who found this hat and then she picked it up and an entire orchestra started. And then this Cat in the Hat (Alex Goodrich) came up to her and told her about her imagination and what they can do about it--in a good way. Then he tells her the story of Horton (George Andrew Wolff), Gertrude McFuzz (Lillian Castillo), and Mayzie La Bird (Cory Goodrich) and the Whos (Ericka Mac, Aaron Holland, and Chang). I really liked how they were all put together in one story. The relationships between the characters were different because they were not in the same context as in the original stories, but they still worked really well. They changed it, but not in the way where they added new characters, which I don't like, but in the way where they put different characters from different stories together. Like Shrek or Into the Woods. Seeing this show brought back funny and good memories because it was the first show I saw at Chicago Shakespeare when I was only 2 years old. Back then, I didn't really like the slow songs, so I left quietly after tapping my mom very politely after "All for You" because two slow songs in a row were not exactly my piece of cake. But now I like slow songs much better, and I loved this show because I really love the Dr. Seuss stories and I had so much fun seeing this show again!

I really liked the song "Oh the Thinks You Can Think" because I still remember the tune to it and I still remember the lyrics. It was very catchy. This song is about everything you can think of and how you should love your imagination. Don't think of it as a burden; think of it as something to be proud of. I liked how it was performed because it introduced you to all the characters. I think it is a great opening because it is kind of like the Girl is thinking of the Cat in the Hat and all these different characters and Dr. Seuss and all the thinks that she can think. That is really cool because when you see these people you know who they are because most people have read the Dr. Seuss books, so you are like, "There's Horton; there's the Cat in the Hat; there's Gertrude McFuzz." I thought the actress who played Jojo and the Girl did a great job. She was very expressive (but she wasn't too too happy all the time) and I like that in an actress.

I thought it was funny how the Cat in Hat had a bunch of different outfits (costume design by Theresa Ham) instead of like one "Cat in the Hat" outfit. And he played different characters as the Cat in the Hat, like a doctor, a policeman, the Grinch, and Ira Glass. You are probably wondering why Ira Glass is in here since he is not a Dr. Seuss character. Just see it. I thought that Alex Goodrich did a great job at seeming very alive in this performance. He kind of seemed crazy, like the Cat in the Hat, but like the Cat in the Hat he was still lovable. He was not scary. When he was Ira Glass I thought that was hilarious, especially when he said, "Reporting from the Jungle of Nool." I also really liked it when he was the Louis Armstrong singer who was Mayzie's steaming hot bird boyfriend. He was like Louis Wingstrong. He had a hat and sunglasses and he sang "How Lucky You Are" in a Louis Armstrong kind of voice. I just can't believe how funny that was. I liked how they showed the band (Alan Bukowiecki, Jo Ann Daugherty, John Kornegay, Mike Pinto, Ethan Deppe, and Sean McNeely) to make it seem more like a night club. It was fun to have the band on stage because they could basically move around the band. You could see them and then you didn't if the time was not right to see them.

"Biggest Blame Fool" was a great song because it was very very catchy: I still have the line "talkin' to a speck, talkin' to a speck, to a speck" stuck in my head. I thought it was great how the Wickersham Brothers (Holland, Liam Quealy, and Joseph Sammour) were basically putting on a stunt show with their scooter and skateboard and roller-skates during this song; it made it more exciting and made it seem like they were trying to impress Mayzie. That was part of the dancing (choreography by Tommy Rapley) and I thought all of the dancing was very exciting but never was it uncalled-for. It didn't seem like they would just break into song and dance for no reason; it seemed like they were having a conversation with dance and singing. I thought the Sour Kangaroo (Lisa Estridge) was amazing. She was very sassy and she also was an amazing singer. You are not really supposed to like the Sour Kangaroo but you can like the way the actress acted out this character. I also liked her little kangaroo in her exercise pouch. The little kangaroo was a puppet (designed by Lolly Extract and Amber Marsh).

I thought that all of the birds were great characters. I liked how the Bird Girls (Mac, Allison Sill, and Krystal Worrell) were basically the backup singers of Mayzie. I thought that Mayzie was a very very expressive character. I liked how she was the most popular bird in all the Jungle of Nool. You wouldn't really want to be friends with her because she would ask you to sit on some boyfriend of her's egg. But you still like that character because she was a funny character. I thought that Getrude was basically the opposite of Mayzie because she was not the glamorous bird. She was more like a humble little bird who like-liked an elephant who everyone thought was insane, so everyone thought that she was crazy. But Horton would never notice her, so she had some troubles. I feel like it is neither of their faults. Horton has something going on and Gertrude just wants some company because nobody pays attention to her. You really want them to get together throughout the entire show and then…well you will just have to see the show!

People who would like this show are people who like Dr. Seuss, Louis Armstrong Birds, and This American Life. I think that people should definitely go and see this show because it is funny, the acting is expressive, and the singing is great. I really liked this show and I think it is great to bring some of Dr. Seuss's greatest idea into one big show!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review of Brigadoon at Goodman Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Brigadoon. It was directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell and the book and lyrics were by Alan Jay Lerner and the music was by Frederick Loewe. It is about a man named Tommy Albright (Kevin Earley) who was on a hunting trip with his friend Jeff Douglas (Rod Thomas) in Scotland. And then they find this little town called…Brigadoon! Then Tommy meets a girl named Fiona (Jennie Sophia) but then, even though he is getting married and the hunting party is a hunting bachelor party, he falls in love. But all that Jeff wants to do is go home. But they have come on the right day because it is the wedding of Fiona's sister Jean (Olivia Renteria), and who doesn't like weddings? Jeff. He just tries to make the worst of everything in this place so he can go home and have a martini. A cool thing about Brigadoon is that every day is a hundred years later. In the outside world, a hundred years have passed. A stalactite experiment would grow in a day instead of tedious weeks. This show is about love, time-travel (sort of), and Scots people.

I liked some of the ideas of the play, but I didn't think the writing of the play was all that good. The two leads didn't really have to do anything except act like they were in love, so it was not a very exciting thing. I think that the two lead performers sing very beautifully, but I was hoping that the play would also invite more acting. You don't care about the romance that much because you kind of get bored of it--they are sort of too much in love for you to keep understanding it. They aren't really in love for a reason; they are just in love.

The director/choreographer made the big singing and dancing numbers have more acting and made it seem more exciting to watch. Even if a character didn't have a name, they seemed like they were full characters because of the way they acted. There was a husband and you knew that that other person was his wife. Or there were best friends or things like that. I really liked the song "Down in MacConnachy Square" because I really liked all the dance numbers that went with the story of the song. This is the song that introduces you to the people of Brigadoon. They seem like they are a very chipper town. They had a bad time in the war, but it seems like everyone got over it.

I really liked the character Harry (Rhett Guter) because he had a complicated story and it was fun to figure out what had happened and pick up on the ideas of what he's been through. He is very sad that his true love Jean is getting married, but she doesn't love him so that makes him very angry and sad. I really liked the sword dance because it was really exciting. When I looked in the program, I saw there was going to be a funeral, and then I thought, is someone going to get his foot chopped off with a sword while they are sword dancing and then bleed to death? I had never seen actual sword dancers before and I thought the men (William Angulo, Guter, Jamy Meek, and Malachi Squires) who were doing it were very good. A sword dance is a bunch of people hopping around swords trying not to touch the swords.

I thought that Charlie (Jordan Brown) was a great character to have. He seemed like he was very happy to get married to Jean even though he still wanted all the ladies. But then there were sometimes where he would be like, "Don't look at me so romantically; I'm getting married!" which I kind of felt like was a little bit mean, but he was still a great character to have because he is comic relief but he is also kind of like the lover. He likes the woman he is going to marry, but he is still kind of a cheeky beggar. I thought that Jean was an amazing dancer. She put a lot of story into her dancing which I think is great.

The milkmaid is always the flirty one in most stories, and that was very true here. I thought that Meg (Maggie Portman) was a great instance of comic relief because she was very sassy and I really like sassy characters. I really liked the seducing song "Love of My Life" that Meg sings to Jeff to try to seduce him but he just wants to have a nap. She didn't understand that he was being literal. He just kept trying to go to sleep while she sang him a song about how she has been looking for her true love all her life but they keep running away. Both of them are funny in that scene because he is trying to go to sleep and she is trying to climb on the tiny tiny bed.

People who would like this show are people who like sword dancing, weddings, and comedic characters. I think people should go see this show because it is funny, suspenseful, and the singing and dancing are amazing. I would definitely go back just to see the dancing! When people go and see this show, wear a kilt!

Photos: Liz Lauren

Friday, July 4, 2014

Review of Hamlet at Oak Park Festival Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Hamlet. It was directed by Lavina Jadhwani and the play was by William Shakespeare. It was adapted by Doug Finlayson and Lavina Jadhwani. It is about a man named Hamlet (Michael McKeogh) whose father (Will Clinger) had died and his mother Gertrude (Kelly Lynn Hogan) got married to his father's brother Claudius (Jack Hickey) and he was not very happy about that because he felt like his mom never actually loved his dad. Even though this show is about revenge, love, and hate, it is still a fun show; I like how the story was set in the jazz age because I love jazz music and it was a very complicated time. It is also a time when there were a lot of little secret clubs for people who wanted to drink alcohol when it was not legal. I also liked how it was set in a hotel.

I liked how Horatio (Michael Pogue) was basically the storyteller of the entire play. I mean like how he introduced the play with his lines from the end of the play about what has happened here and he's telling Fortinbras about it. But there is no Fortibras in this production, so he is telling basically the audience as if he is putting on a play about it. I liked this actor because I could always understand what he was saying and you really felt that he actually felt sadness from Hamlet's and Ophelia's deaths. You kind of felt like he was telling you the story. He was kind of making his own version of "All the world's a stage" because he was saying, this is a play and I will tell you the story of what has happened to me and my best friend and that it is true.

I liked the actor's choices about what kind of a person Hamlet was. He was so sad about his father's death that he turns himself into a drunk. He is drinking a lot, and breaking the law, and going crazy. He is a distressed and distraught man. And when he sees Horatio again he feels happier. And when he sees his father he feels even happier, but then he sees that he needs revenge and that makes him angry and he feels like he needs to get that revenge to live. I felt that he did really love Ophelia (Sara Pavlak) but he just didn't know how to show that he loved her. I think he is not really mad at her, he is more mad at himself and just generally mad. When he finds out she is dead he is really sad because he really did love her but one of the last things he said to her was "Go to a nunnery and I hate you."

I thought that Rosencrantz (Matthew Gall) and Guildenstern (Luke Daigle) were kind of drunks, because they always were carrying around a flask and finding places to fill it up, and I think that is a fun way to portray them. You never really think of them like that. I also thought that worked with the time period really well. The coin flipping I thought was a great reference to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. And I also liked how they saw Hamlet as like their best friend and when they met him again he was a big weirdo and you could see that in their faces and I thought that was good.

I thought that the players (Jhenai Mootz, Will Clinger, Sean Kelly) in this were great characters, I think because they were different from other Hamlets that I have seen. They were different because even though the rest of the play was not in Elizabethan times, they put on an Elizabethan play. You could tell because of their clothing and the way they talked. I thought it was funny when Hamlet was talking to Polonius (Michael Joseph Mitchell) like a crazy person but he didn't seem to be crazy around the players. I think it was because he didn't want to seem crazy around the players because he needed their help to make his uncle feel pain and be scared. Polonius is trying not to act scared and weirded out like when Hamlet has stuck his head beneath Polonius' coattails. I liked that choice, how Polonius was kind of scared of the King and Hamlet because he felt if he didn't do everything right he thought the King would have him executed or something like that. He doesn't want the King to think he is making his stepson like this, so he decides to try to play along with Hamlet.

I really believed it when Laertes (Michael Mercier) found out that Ophelia had died; I really felt for him. I liked how they changed his duel with Hamlet to boxing (violence designed by R&D Choreography), but I didn't really like how he brought in a knife halfway through the fight. I think they should have just chosen one. I think that he feels like he serves the King until Hamlet stabs him and then he is angry at Hamlet but he is also the only person he wants to talk to at this moment that he's dying: Hamlet and not the King. I liked the special effects blood; I thought that was very good.

People who would like this show are people who like jazz, Shakespeare, and storytelling. I really liked how this show was outside and that makes this a very fun show to be at. It is different than a lot of other Hamlets that there are, so if you want to see a new kind of Hamlet, go and see this!

Photos: Johnny Knight