Monday, August 31, 2015

Review of The Price at TimeLine Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Price. It was written by Arthur Miller and it was directed by Louis Contey. It was about Victor (Bret Tuomi) who was a policeman and was selling all the furniture that their family had had when they were rich. They aren't rich anymore because of the Great Depression and the stock market failing. But his brother Walter (Roderick Peeples) had become really successful but wouldn't loan him money for a science degree so he had to become a policeman. But Victor and his dad and his wife Esther (Kymberly Mellen) still had to eat out of the garbage sometimes. Walter is trying to find a way that he can be friends with his brother again and Victor is trying to get some money so that his wife can be happy. But the thing is that over time you find out more about what has happened in the past and that changes the way you feel about all these characters. A man Gregory Solomon (Mike Nussbaum) comes and thinks that he wants to buy all the things in the house. And he teaches Victor more about life and what it is like to be an older man. I thought this was a really good show overall. There was very strong acting and I enjoyed it. This is not really a story that is aimed at kids my age because it is all about the problems of going into your middle ages, but I'm going to show you a kid's perspective of this.

There was a plot in this, but there was no part of it that really changed too drastically. So sometimes you felt like you were seeing something pretty similar to what you had just seen because the changes were so small. But there were some bigger changes like Victor's relationship with Esther. This is the kind of story where a lot of decisions have to get made and most of the time people are arguing about those decisions. And in real life you have to stay on the topic to make your point. And that is what is happening here as well. The characters are staying on the same topic for a decent amount of time to make their point. There isn't a lot of physical action in this play, but there is a lot of verbal action and that makes it suspenseful.

It is called The Price because there is a price of all the furniture that has to be decided. It is also about the price of family and helping your family. It is about that price too. Sometimes something is worth more than the price is or is worth less than the price is. All of the characters are asking questions about the price and the worth of everything they have done and the furniture as well. They are also complaining about how expensive the movies are, like $2.30, which now we are like "I wish movies were like that now--we could see a movie an hour" because this entire time Victor and Esther are trying to go see a movie. It shows you that Victor is still not making a lot of money. What they think the price of the furniture should be varies over time because the people who are richer or want a lot of money think it is worth more. I think the brother was kind of right on this point even though he usually isn't. The furniture is not only worth money. The things that are there are from their childhood and some of the things there are priceless, but only to them. But they sell it anyway. Victor does keep something that means something to him, but Walter doesn't which shows you that he cares less.

I thought Mike Nussbaum did a great job of making his role energetic and funny but then also have those kind of learning moments where you would just listen to him and think, "Wow, that is very philosophical and that makes sense." One of the moments I really liked of his was when he was talking about all the wives he'd had and he realized he'd forgotten about one of them. I found that kind of mean, but it was still very very funny. It is philosophical because he is saying what life will become like when Victor is his age: everything starts to get slow and you start to think of all the things that you want to do and you haven't and some of your memories start to fade. The orange and Hershey's bar moment was hilarious because what happened was he asked for the Hershey's bar out of his bag and then Walter got an orange out of the bag. And Mr. Solomon says, "No! The Hershey's!" Walter gets out the Hershey's and Mr. Solomon says something along the lines of, "It's like penicillin" and I just found that so funny. Chocolate does make you feel better, but it can also make you chubbier. Nussbaum plays the comic relief but he is also a teacher and a guide. But then you feel less certain that Mr. Solomon is actually a good person at the end of the play. I feel like he is still a good person because he doesn't force anything and lets everyone choose. It was such a great performance and I was captivated whenever he was on stage.

People who would like this show are people who like verbal action, dramatic families, and Hershey's bars. I think that people should definitely go see this show because it was a very engaging play and I very much enjoyed it, especially when I had a chance to think more about it after.

Photos: Lara Goetsch

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review of Dirty Dancing (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Dirty Dancing. It was by Eleanor Bergstein and it was choreographed by Michele Lynch and the original choreography was by Kate Champion. It was directed by James Powell. It was about this girl whose name was Frances (Gillian Abbott) but the people most of the time called her Baby. And she was on vacation with her family (Alex Scolari, Mark Elliot Wilson, and Margot White) and she was trying to help out this girl Penny (Jenny Winton) who had become pregnant. But Penny is the lead dancer at this place and she has always done the dances. So she says that Baby should do all the dances for her while she is having an abortion. And while Baby is doing that she falls in love with the male dancer she has been dancing with, Johnny Castle (Christopher Tierney). What happens is that the romance starts to blossom and it starts to turn more serious. But because Baby is pretty young, she is worried that her parents will get worried. So she tries to keep it away from her parents, but it doesn't work out too well. And she has to protect Johnny but is not completely able to protect both of them. I think this is a really fun and exciting play. I was captivated almost the entire time, and now I get a lot more references in American culture.

The resort that they stay at, I don't know why they stayed there. No, I do know they stayed there because it was their friend Max's (Gary Lynch) business. But he has some serious problems with how his servers treat the guests, especially the female ones. What the servers would do is that they would just go up and seduce all the teenage daughters that were there. But I feel like I would never want to stay in this resort if everybody was talking all sexy all the time. It would just make some people feel uncomfortable. And the thing is, is that a few lines after he says "This is a family place," he says "And show the daughters a good time--romance them any way you want." I find it so terrible but funny how the thing he is worried about is fingers in the soup and he is totally fine with them sleeping with the daughters.

The dancing was just amazing. It seems like they put so much work and effort into it and it looks so beautiful. My favorite dance was the Mambo. It was just so vibrant and fun to watch. Even though in the show Baby is not supposed to get everything perfect, it still looked amazing and it was amazing. There was a part when Johnny and Baby were starting a dance where it happened almost every time that he had to bring his hand down and stroke it down her cheek to her butt. But then the thing was that every time he got near her chest area, she would giggle because she was so uncomfortable. And I don't blame her. I would feel the exact same way!

I thought that the watermelon scene was hilarious because of how nervous Baby was when she first met Johnny. She just blurted out "I carried a watermelon!" which I thought was very very funny. And I also loved the size of those watermelons. If they entered a contest for biggest watermelon, they would probably win it. Another one of my favorite funny moments was when Johnny and Baby were trying to do the lifts in the water. And I found that so funny that I almost died. They would keep trying and falling every time and splash in the water. But they weren't actually falling in water, they were falling in projections, which was very very funny. I also really liked when Baby poured ice down Robbie's (Scott McCreary) pants. Robbie was the boyfriend of her sister and also a cheating jerk.

People who would like this show are people who like amazing dancing, crazy resorts, and watermelon. I think a lot of people will really like this show. I liked it a lot and I thought it was really fun and engaging.

Photos: Matthew Murphy

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review of Assassination Theater at The Museum of Broadcast Communications

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Assassination Theater. It was by Hillel Levin and it was directed by Kevin Christopher Fox. It was based on interviews with Zechariah Shelton. It was about the assassination of President Kennedy and it was about the investigation after that. They presented it to you as Hillel Levin (Michael Joseph Mitchell) and Zack Shelton (Mark Ulrich) telling you the story of their interviews that they had. And there are two other actors (Ryan Kitley and Martin Yurek) who play all the other people they interview. I really enjoyed this show. I thought it was very educational. It was like a documentary, but you got to see it in person. It seems like a new kind of theater and I really liked it.

This could have been not a play. It could have been a documentary or a lecture. They did put it into a play form, so they kind of tricked you. It was a play, but not just a regular play. It did have a plot and characters, but the thing was that basically all the characters, you only got to explore them for a little bit because they had to get in all the facts. Sometimes the facts were kind of hard to process for me because there were so many facts thrown at you at once. If you were watching a movie, you could pause it and go look things up. But most grown-ups might have been able to follow it better because they know more about it. I am proud to say that after watching this play, I might know more about the assassination of President Kennedy than most 11 year olds. I think this might have worked a little bit better as a movie, but it wasn't a bad play.

The projections (by Anthony Churchill) helped a lot with the story because they showed the connections between different people in the mob or who were friends with the president. I felt like they added a lot to the story because you could associate pictures with the names which helped a lot with understanding. And also with the projections you got to see the actual assassination happen, which was very very sad and very terrifying. I think it was good that they showed it, though, because then it gave you information so you could make your own hypotheses too. I think I agree with them that it was more than one person that shot him. I think the projections made you feel like you were actually in the story helping with the investigation.

I really think the actors bring a lot to the story because you got to see a portrayal of these people that were actually interviewed and that people actually think might have killed John F. Kennedy. I liked how the costume changes (costumes by Victoria Carot) were very subtle but you still saw that they were a different character. And that helped a lot to associate the name with the costumes with the pictures so you got the whole idea of that person. I thought that Jack Ruby's story was really amazing and interesting, and I would have liked to have seen a whole play about him. I also feel like Mitchell and Ulrich led the show really well and I liked their performances a lot. I thought it was really awesome that they had the person who wrote the show tell you the story even though he was not the actual person who wrote it, but instead an actor playing him. And it made you trust the information a lot more. And the same with the character of Zack Shelton; you believed him because he was the person who came up with the entire idea of the investigation.

People who would like this show are people who like informative projections, educational storytelling, and mysteries. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is different from most Chicago theater and I thought it was really informative and fun.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review of Babes with Blades' Patchwork Drifter

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Patchwork Drifter. It was by Jennifer L. Mickelson and directed by Leigh Barrett. It was about this family: Harriet (Delia Ford), the mother, and Martha (Eliza Rose Fichter)and Abigail (Zoe Shiman) who are her daughters. They live in Wyoming and an unexpected visitor comes to the door. Her name is Emmy (Meredith Rae Lyons) and she comes and they hire her to help them out with their sewing and work. But unfortunately Harriet, their mother, has some secrets. And one of those secrets comes knocking at her door and is not very "cooperative." And over time all the secrets of the other characters come out too. This show is about family, acceptance, and secrets.

I think that Emmy is a really great character and one of the reasons she is so great is that she has a really amazing backstory that is discovered over time. And as you see the characters around her catching on to her secrets, it just gets more and more suspenseful. I think it is great that Babes with Blades did this show because it is such an amazing female character. There are so many clues about who she really is that are fun to discover. You found her lovable even though she was very suspicious. When she was with the character Abigail, she was so good with her but you were still worried that she might try to hurt her. But then you also see that she is very calm and collected when Hannah (Elyse Dawson) starts insulting her when they are both in the same situation.

I feel like the fight scenes (by JK Choreography) were so crazy amazing. I always love their fights and I still loved them this time. There weren't as many as usual, but one of them would be good enough because it was still amazing. This isn't a really fight-y play. There is a fight or two but it is mostly about suspense. It was so suspenseful leading up to the big shootout, because you knew something was going to happen but you didn't know exactly when. So it was kind of like a jump scare. I liked the moment when they turned over the table and started shooting over it because it seemed like what somebody would actually do in a fight--turning it over because that would be good cover. But of course it isn't perfect cover because a table would still be able to be shot through, but it was the best they had. The circumstances are not at the best for these women, but they are still going to do their best with what they have...and try to kill each other!

Although there were some very good parts, there were also parts I felt like made a little less sense than they should have. I found the ending quite confusing. I felt like the next-to-last scene made more sense as an ending than the actual ending. I think with the actual ending they were trying to show that one of the characters got to be with the person that they loved, but the thing was that another character was now living with that character and in the scene before you thought they'd never see each other again. It just didn't make any sense for them to see each other again, and I felt like the story did not really explain what had happened. I also thought they didn't always use pauses in a good way. I think pauses are very useful on stage when a character has to process something or the audience has to process something that the audience didn't know could occur. Sometimes they would use pauses that way, but sometimes it would just be just to go and grab a kettle and I think sometimes the lines could have been said while the character was getting the kettle.

People who would like this show are people who like suspenseful gunfights, amazing female characters, and women trying their best to kill each other. I think people should go see this show. I felt like it was a pretty powerful story and I liked it.

Photos: Steve Townshend

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review of Silent Theatre Company's The Dueling Gentlemen

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Dueling Gentlemen. It was written and directed by Marvin Quijada. It was about these two men, The Drunk (Marcus Fittanto) & The Perfectionist (Quijada). I think it is so crazy that one man played so many different roles putting this show together, but he did an amazing job! The Drunk has been cast in this show with his friend The Perfectionist. It is called The Ugly Blonde and it is a play about these two men who are in love with the same ugly blonde person, but the thing is it is only done with two people, so they play all the parts. The ugly blonde is both of them, but they switch off. They do the show many many times, but then each one is different, and I also thought it was cool that every other scene takes place backstage in the dressing room. And what happens is that their friendship starts to go haywire because one of them is a perfectionist and the other one just doesn't like the help. I think that it is a pretty sad story because everything doesn't turn out the way that you want it to, but it was really funny at a lot of points. I really like that kind of combination, like a dark comedy, but I also like comedies where everything turns out. I thought this was a great show and I really really loved it.

I thought the way they did the show was very cool. The did it very differently from just a normal show; it was silent. There was piano accompaniment (played by Elliot Taggart, written by Ian Custer) and it made it even more like an actual silent movie. Music in a silent movie shows what the characters' moods are, and this did the same thing which I thought was really awesome. The title cards also helped you to understand the story better because they told you what they were saying. You didn't need the title cards all the time because the thing was that their expressions would tell most of the story. Like when The Perfectionist discovers something The Drunk has been hiding, you can see in his face that he is terrified. The wig helps them tell the story too because then it shows in the vaudeville show who is playing The Ugly Blonde. And I thought the way they could use the wig so that it could just be a hand inside of a blonde wig being the character was was super cool. I would have even loved just to see that show even without the drama "backstage!"

I thought a lot of the jokes were actually very very funny, even though they didn't use words all the time. One of my favorite funny parts when The Perfectionist was playing The Ugly Blonde and he would just over-exaggerate how scared she was of the gun battle. He was silent, which made it even more funny because he is silently screaming, and would do that for just a few seconds and then he would hop up and play another part. How funny he looked in the wig made it even funnier. Another funny thing was when The Drunk would walk in so sexily as The Ugly Blonde, but in one of the scenes he made it even more sexy than it usually was and it was just so hilarious. And it was even funnier because he had this big mustache which made it so so funny.

I thought it was kind of scary but it also really helped with the story how they got angrier and angrier each time they did the show. It was a funny show to start and then the first time they are angry they just kind of pout on stage and it is still funny but in a different way. Sometimes repetition can annoy me, but in this show it didn't because there were visible changes not just the same thing over and over. It is so different each time and it actually has to do with the plot. The way they change The Ugly Blonde shows you that their friendship is sort of decaying. I felt like this was a friendship show, but it wasn't a true-friendship-my-little-pony show. It is more like how friendships can end just by finding out some secrets and which is an actual truth about friendship. It is a sad truth, but it is actually true.

People who would like this show are people who like silent films, dark comedy, and sexy girls with mustaches. I think people should definitely go see this show. I really loved it and I thought it was a great idea for a theater company, the Silent Theatre Company, and I wish I had seen their shows sooner.

Photos: Krzys Piotrowski

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review of Cirque de Soleil's Kurios--Cabinet of Curiosities

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Kurios--Cabinet of Curiosities. It was written and directed by Michel Laprise. It was about a man who was a mad scientist (Anton Valen) and went to this other world where he met these three shape-based creatures. One of them (Ekaterina Pirogovskaya) had hula hoops of different sizes all around her body. One of them was basically an accordion (Nico Baixas) and one of them (Karl L'Ecuyer) had a little woman living inside his stomach. But it wasn't a fake little woman, it was actually a little woman (Antanina Satsura). It was the best circus I have ever been to. I really loved the show. I felt like it was amazing and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

I loved the straps act (Stuart McKenzie and Vitali Tomanov) it was really cool. I thought it was so amazing to see these people just flying above you. It looked painless; it looked like an everyday normal day at work for them. I don't think it is actually easy; I think it is actually hard, but they are so used to it. Another cool duo was the Russian Cradle, which was a man and a woman (Roman Tereshchenko and Olena Tereshchenko) and the woman would basically do a trapeze act from the man's arm. He was the human trapeze! She would do these amazing flips and just grab onto his hands again. Both of them have to have good strength with their arms and she also has to have very good trust skills with whoever is catching her.

I thought the Rola Bola act (James Eulises Gonzalez) was really scary and breathtaking. The rola bola are these tubes stacked on top of each other with a platform on the top. Then the person balances on the very very top. After that he rises up in the air on a platform and he does the rola bola up in the air and I just found it so crazy. I thought his aviator costume (designed by Philippe Guillotel) was really really cool. The jacket was see-through, and I liked that. I also really liked the aviator's helmet because it was a steampunk version, turquoise with bronze goggles. Another really fun solo act was one with this woman (Anne Weissbecker) who came in on this bike and was just biking around and then suddenly she flew up into the air. Then she would bike upside down and I thought that was really cool. And she used the bike like a trapeze and she would hang from her knees with her hands down. I thought the Yo-yos act (Tomonari "Black" Ishiguro) was really awesome. I thought when he was a kid he must have just practiced with his yo-yo a lot, never knowing that one day he would be performing in front of thousands of people! I liked when he did the yo-yos so fast that you couldn't even see them and then you could see his fingers just moving like crazy and the yo-yos kept bouncing up and down off his fingers.

The music (by Raphaël Beau and Bob & Bill) was amazing because it was like a Harold Lloyd movie or Triplets of Belleville with a twist of pop music. I'd like to have the soundtrack! Just a little side note: I thought it must have been very hard for the singer to sing basically all the time. I thought that she was great and I thought the band (Antoine Berthiaume, Christopher "Kit" Chatham, Lidia Kaminska, Paul Lazar, Michael Levin, Christa Mercey, and Marc Sohier) must have worked very hard too because they rarely got any breaks and they had to stay on their feet the entire time it seemed.

The contortion act (Ayagma Tsybenova, Lilia Zhambalova, and Bayarma Zodboeva) was crazy. When you saw them, you felt like your back was breaking! They made it look extra cool because of their costumes which looked kind of like lizards of some sort, so it looked like a bunch of lizards crawling on each other. They did these crazy tricks where they bent their leg all the way over to their heads and were still smiling!

Upside Down World (Andrii Bondarenko) was this terrifyingly awesome thing where there was a man stacking chairs on top of each other to get to the ceiling. About halfway through the same thing started happening on the ceiling with a person who basically looked the same as him. It was so cool because he was just being supported by chairs only and it is very very suspenseful. And the upside down person had to be hooked in so it might not have been as scary for him, but then he was also upside down!

I felt like both of the group acts were amazing. They had so many people doing so many awesome things. In the Baquine act (Nikolay Astashkin, Ekaterina Evdokimova, Roman Kenzhayev, Elena Kolesnikova, Sergey Kudryavtsev, Andrey Nikitin, Serguei Okhai, Dimitri Parmenov, Roman Polishchuk, Alexey Puzyryov, Alexey Starodubtsev, and Igor Strizhanov) there were these people dressed in hats with pompoms on top and they do these tricks where they are stacked on top of each other like 6 people high and they would jump over each other and land in the other person's arms. That was impressive because they had to have so much consistency so that they could land in the same place every time. And I thought what they did was so amazing and I admire that they can do something so brave. I thought the Acro Net act (Arnaud Caizergues, Victor Degtyarev, Nathan Dennis, Mathieu Hubener, Jack Helme, L'Ecuyer, and Ryan Shinji Murray) act was mind-blowing, how they could jump so high on a net. It looked like they were swimming and flying and diving at the same time. It would mess up the entire act if you jumped too early or jumped too late. They jumped right on time because that is what you have to do in an act like that. My favorite part was when they would put their hands down from the ladder that hung from the top of the tent and they would grab the person who jumped up as high as the ladder by the hand. The costumes were really great too. They looked like sea monkeys!

People who would like this show are people who like amazing circus acts, steampunk pop music, and jumping sea monkeys. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. I thought that it was so awesome because it actually tells a story instead of just doing the tricks. I loved it!

Photos: Martin Girard

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review of New American Folk Theatre's The Summer of Daisy Fay in Association with Redtwist Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Summer of Daisy Fay. It was by Ed Howard based on the novel Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg. It was directed by Anthony Whitaker. It was about this girl named Daisy Fay (Charlie Irving) who was kind of an outsider girl at the beginning, but by the end she had become a beauty pageant girl. It was about how she transformed over time from the awkward girl at the beginning to a very pretty and slightly famous girl at the end. But she was still kind of the same Daisy Fay. I thought that this was a great show, and I thought that the story was very funny and heartbreaking and beautiful.

You are basically having a story told to you by a character, so there is not a lot of physical action on the stage. Sometimes she would kind of act the things that were happening out, but then they still didn't have more than one actor to be in it. But it was not boring; I was very intrigued throughout the entire show because I was so invested in the character. Daisy Fay was a sweet but pretty awkward girl who was going to audition to be Miss Mississippi. And the first act is the more awkward side of her. When she says that she is auditioning to be Miss Mississippi, you are like, "Whoa. How is this going to turn out?" You kind of fall in love with her awkwardness at the beginning, but then in the second act you really get to see what you missed about her before, like how she wasn't actually dumb and how even though the character seemed like a bad actor in the first part, she had become a great comedian in the second. I feel like it is important in a character that you spend so much time with that you get to see them change. The second act is still her, but you are happy about the changes that have happened to her because you see she has helped herself out.

I felt like her entire description of the pageant was very very funny. I thought that her versions of all the girls who were in the pageant were hilarious. I especially loved the Sunbeam girl who was Daisy Fay's least favorite girl that was there. The thing that was funny was that she made her all prissy and princessy. And in the pageant she keeps having trouble with her batons and they keep slipping out of her hands and she can't do anything. It was funny because you felt like she deserved it and the way Daisy Fay showed you how she dropped her batons was very funny too. I liked when Daisy Fay did her comedy routine from the pageant. I thought it was very good and it actually made me laugh. She was pretending to be someone from a newspaper she read growing up and she wondered what it would be like if she had had her own radio show. She did an entire routine about the weddings that were going to happen, but all the weddings were kind of inappropriate. So that made her very awkward and she'd be like, "Ooo-kaaay. So let's move on."

There were also some very heartbreaking parts. Some of them are too much of a giveaway, but one of them was that her friend Pickle had been taken advantage of by her father. That made you feel so sad for Pickle because her reputation and her life had both been ruined. But the thing is you weren't expecting anything bad to happen to a girl called Pickle because when you hear a name like that you think she'll be the comic relief. Pickle is such a cute little name that when you hear it you don't want anything bad to happen to her. And when it does it is so depressing and sad. And also Daisy Fay's mother had died and that was really sad because you see she loved her very much and she had basically held Daisy together because her father was so terrible. It is good to have heartbreaking and funny parts in the same play because then you get a taste of both things and you get the comic relief so you aren't depressed the whole time. And if it had just been funny you wouldn't have gotten to feel any other emotions.

People who would like this show are people who like beauty pageants, bittersweet stories, and slippery batons. I think people should go see this show. It was good because it was very intriguing and I felt like I was there with the character the entire time.

Photos: Jamal Howard

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review of Haven Theatre's Last Train to Nibroc

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Last Train to Nibroc. It was by Arlene Hutton and it was directed by Jason Gerace. It was about this woman named May (Amanda Drinkall) who was going on a train back home and she meets this army man named Raleigh (Mike Tepeli) and they become very good friends on the train. But then over time a romance starts to blossom but she already has a boyfriend who is a preacher. But then they have dinner together and the romance starts to happen again. It is about jealousy, regret, and love. I really really loved this show. I thought it was great because it was comedic and also sometimes you wanted to cry.

Usually I just pick my favorite scenes to write about, but there were only three scenes and I liked them all! The first scene was when they met on the train and at first it seemed like May was concerned about Raleigh disturbing her and not being a nice person. I think you really see their relationship evolve over the show. You really want them to get together and that is what you want throughout the entire show. You start thinking they should be together because it is clear by the end of the scene that they are great friends. And you also see that Raleigh is kind of flirting with her a little bit. They seem to have so much fun together, they both love to read, and they have in common that they both have experienced loss of something they wanted. She has lost her boyfriend and he's lost his job as a soldier. But he decides to get a better job as a writer and I think she wants a better boyfriend.

In the second scene everything starts to go haywire. Their relationship starts to crack. She's dating someone else and she never showed up to the dinner that his parents prepared for them. She basically stopped the relationship by not showing up because she probably really embarrassed him. And we know that he hasn't gone to New York yet even though that's what he's wanted to do this entire time. This entire scene you are just feeling sad because you think, they were so perfect for each other--why are they so mad now? I felt like it was really sad when he kept saying "Do you love him?" and she didn't answer and it was very sad and very suspenseful because the thing is you think she might go with the preacher even though she doesn't love him.

In the last scene they seem like they are not enemies anymore and that seems good. But then something really funny happens. She is trying to show how her feelings for him are by saying "I just wanted to help you with your leprosy." But of course he doesn't have leprosy, he has epilepsy. Leprosy is way worse than epilepsy. With epilepsy you have fits, but with leprosy, like your toes and your nose falls off and terrible things like that. That shows you that she is kind of dim but also that she actually really loves him. I found that so funny and kind of touching that I just couldn't stop laughing. And you realize they have another thing in common, writing, because one of them has been writing letters to the other and one has been writing stories about the other. I feel like that is so sweet that they both have shown their affections even though they haven't been together that whole time. I think this one was my favorite scene in this play. I really did love this one.

I loved the set (by Joanna Iwanicka). I thought it was so beautiful. They had this beautiful backdrop that was a great background for every single moment in this show because the first time it looked more like train smoke because that is what you were expecting and then the next time it looked more like clouds, and then the time after that it looked more like a sunset. That was because of the lights (by Sarah Hughey). They just raised and lowered the panels that had the designs on them and I thought that was a really good use of not that much stuff.

People who would like this show are people who like amazing sets, comedic love stories, and trains. Nobody likes leprosy! I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is an amazing show and I loved it because it is a great story. And two great actors and a great story make an amazing show!

Photos: Austin D. Oie

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Review of Opera on Tap and New World Productions' Shadows, Stories and Songs

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Shadows, Stories and Songs. It was two short pieces: The Guest at the Sevillano Inn by Jacinto Guerrero with a libretto by Enrique Reoyo and Juan Ignacio Luca de Tena and Master Peter's Puppet Show by Manuel de Falla. Both were based on writing by Miguel de Cervantes. Melissa Segarra directed The Guest at the Sevillano Inn and Myra Su directed Master Peter's Puppet Show. The first one was about a man named Juan Luís (Jesús Alfredo Jiménez Jiménez) and he was in love with this woman named Raquel (Alana Grossman), who was a beautiful maiden. But an evil man (Daniel Johansen) kidnaps her and Juan Luís has to go and rescue her. The second one was a shadow puppet show about a woman who was locked up in a tower and a man stole a kiss from her so he was dragged away and put in jail. But then her husband comes and rescues her and they ride away on a horse. I think it is a good idea to have low-budget opera because then people who can't afford to see the Lyric Opera show could come and see this.

I thought that all the singers were talented and had nice voices. I felt like that was a really good aspect of the show. The music actually sounds like you are in an actual opera house. I preferred the music of The Guest at the Sevillano Inn more than Master Peter's Puppet Show. I thought there was a lot more variety in the first one; it had more different kinds of songs that I liked. In the second one, I felt like the music was a little more repetitive and had less humor. My favorite song was from the first one: Si tu fueras pastora. It was all about sheep! It was sung by Rodrigo (Joachim Luis), the squire of Juan Luís, and Constancica (Erin Moll,) the maid at the inn. I felt like the song was funny and they kept making the sheep noises, which I thought was pretty funny. It is like the funniest, cutest little love song ever. I thought it was great that the comic relief characters had a song together. Rodrigo was my favorite character. I thought that he was very good and funny.

There were, however, a few problems with the show. For one of the things, I thought that the directors didn't seem to help the actors do what they needed to do to make the characters believable. Usually in opera you are going to a large space to see a larger than life character, but in such a small space then you feel like the characters should be a little less big and a little more intimate because they are talking directly to you. One of the problems with how the story was told was that when The Guest at the Sevillano Inn was going on, they wouldn't show any of the excited moments; the narrator just told you about them. Like I would have liked to have seen the people dressing up like monks and the big rescue mission and that big sword fight, but instead they just told you about them. I felt like the sword was very very unrealistic, which I don't blame them for because they are a very small theater company, but they treated it like it was this big amazing weapon which I found kind of distracting because it was an important part of the story and you could see it flopping around when it was supposed to be all heroic. I also felt like it didn't seem like the people who did the show knew a lot about puppets because their puppeteering was not top-notch. At one point a horse ran away from the riders, which didn't seem like part of the story, especially because they kept on riding the invisible horse that there was not anymore. When Don Quijote (Salvador Pérez) destroys the puppet show, it is not supposed to be because the puppetry is bad but because they get a fact wrong about there being bells in minarets.

People who would like this show are people who like good singing, low-budget opera, and sheep. I think it is cool that they are doing these shows that aren't done very often and share them with people all over the city.

Photos: Dan Johanson

Monday, August 3, 2015

Review of Pippin (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Pippin. The book was by Roger O. Hirson and the music and lyrics were by Stephen Schwartz. It was directed by Diane Paulus. The music supervision was by Nadia DiGiallonardo. Gypsy Snider did the circus creation. Chet Walker was the choreographer, in the style of Bob Fosse. It was about a man named Pippin (Sam Lips) who was the son of a king named Charlemagne (John Rubinstein). He wanted to be a soldier so that he could be a good king, but he wasn't very good at that so he tried to find out what kind of person he was and what he wanted to do. He encounters a bunch of obstacles along the way and he finally finds who he really is. I thought this was a very fun show, I had heard so many good things about it and it exceeded my expectations.

I thought all the circus acts were amazing. That is something that is really special about this show. One of the scariest acts I felt like was the rolla bolla. Dmitrious Bistrevsky stood up on top of these metal tubes and a wooden board and he balanced on them. It was scary because it was lots of metal tubes on top of a platform and he was standing on them and they are moving and they seemed really slicked up so he could just fall when they are moving. It was so scary and terrifying, but it was all okay in the end because he made it and he got up there and he balanced. I also thought that when the curtain dropped at the very beginning of the show and all the players (Andalousi, Bradley Benjamin, Bistrevsky, Kevin Langlois Boucher, Mathew deGuzman, Sammy Dinneen, Anna Kachalova, Lisa Karlin, Olga Karmansky, Alan Kelly, Anna Schnaitter, Kate Smith, and Borris York) were just there doing amazing things, like balancing on a ball or a person while doing a handstand or a headstand. And there was also another crazy circus stunt where the Leading Player (Sasha Allen) held up a hoop and another person had to run from backstage and do a backflip through it and it was so cool and scary. I loved it when they went up into the air and did the splits on the silks. I love to hula hoop so much and I think I'm pretty good at it, but I want to be able to do the stuff they do in this show which is to spin the hoop on their leg up by their heads!

I thought that Fastrada (Sabrina Harper) was a great character. It was funny how she was like, "I'm just an ordinary mother and housewife," when she was practically nude and having her son Lewis (Erik Altemus) crawl up her leg. She was an amazing singer and dancer and actress. She was very sassy. You didn't hate her even though she was like the villain because she was so funny and would say her mind. But she also was a spoiled brat. She was kind of like Veruca Salt--you hate her so much but you love her. The thing I found really amazing is that she did a quick-change where she walked behind a small panel of wood and then three seconds later she was wearing this long, red, Jessica-Rabbitesque dress. But then, a little bit after that, that just rips off and she basically has on this see-through outfit with diamonds to cover up the parts that a 10-year-old doesn't want to see! I thought the quick changes were so cool and amazing. I thought her son was also very funny. He was very good at fighting but he was very very dumb. He was just insanely dimwitted and all he wanted to do was be king, but I'm so glad he didn't become king right away because I'd feel sorry for that country because he was just going to mess it up. He would be like a mix of Millard Fillmore and Jack Kennedy because all the ladies liked him but he was very bad at governing.

I thought that the grandma, Berthe (Adrienne Barbeau) was really amazing. The stuff that she did on the trapeze was just amazing, which you might not expect from a character of that age. I thought that was crazy awesome. I loved her song, "No Time at All" because it was really fun and she let the entire audience sing along and it was really cool. It was about how you should do what you want while you still have the time. The song was really catchy and I still have all the lyrics in my head! I wish there had been more of her throughout the entire show.

Catherine (Kristine Reese) was Pippin's girlfriend because he decided he didn't want to be king anymore and he just wanted to have a normal life. The Leading Player is not too happy about that. But then he realizes he doesn't want to have a normal life; he wants to be adventurous. But then he goes back to wanting a family. Just choose what you want, Pippin! When he wants to be adventurous he sings a song called "Extraordinary," and there was this rooster (York) who did this hilarious thing, which he did just in the middle of sentences or whenever there was a pause, where he would just be like bu-caaaaw. I thought that was really really hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing whenever he did it. I didn't even really know why it was so funny; it just was. Every time he did it I just laughed! Another really funny part was when Theo (Stephen Sayegh when I saw it, Jake Berman on other nights), who is the child of Catherine, his duck dies. Well, that is sad, but the funny part is that Pippin is always trying to cheer him up. And he gives him a dog, and Theo says "That's not a duck, dumbass!" and runs off. And you can see the adults are trying not to laugh. But what I have to say is that that dog was so adorable! The dog is better than the duck and cuter too, sorry to say to all you duck-lovers out there. But don't worry; I also like me some cute ducks.

People who would like this show are people who like circus, flexible grandmas, and hilarious roosters. I think people should definitely go see this show because it was funny, fun, and the entire atmosphere was exciting. It was very welcoming but then you got to see the dark side of the players, too, and I thought that was so cool. I really loved it!

Photos: Terry Shapiro, Sara Hanna Photography

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ada Grey Interviews for You: Jake Berman from Pippin

I had so much fun interviewing Jake Berman who plays Theo in Pippin!