Upcoming Dance

Some things were just meant to go together, even if they do sound a little odd at first. Like peanut butter and bananas, apple pie and cheddar cheese, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet; The Art of Falling is amazing collaboration between Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and The Second City. The unexpected pairing of the extremely original and unique contemporary dance company, and a Chicago improve comedy standard, both staples of Chicago entertainment in their own right, was a match made in theater heaven!

 

Hubbard Street Dance has done many interesting collaborations in the past, pushing the envelope of what a dance performance is and exposing new audiences to dance in creative ways. In 2014, Hubbard Street and Second City first got together and put together the energetic, unexpected and endlessly engaging performance entitled The Art of Falling. Now back at the Harris Theater by popular demand, the show is once again bringing laughter, joy and maybe even some tears to Chicago audiences. 

 

This distinctive show incorporates so much more than simply dance and comedy. They leverage video - both pre-recorded and live footage, audience interaction, endless props and fantastic music – again both live and recorded. The sheer creativity of this production is mind-blowing. There are 20 pieces that make up this show, each different from the one before but just like a great comedy show, it circles around a primary story line and a few smaller secondary ones, making the whole show flow together seamlessly and move along effortlessly. 

 

The primary story line is a love story of course, but it challenges the traditional silver screen romance as it is rooted in real life where relationships are bumpy and have awkward edges that need smoothing and love - or rather admitting you are in love - is scary. It challenges the audience to take that leap of faith and conquer the fear of falling. After all, what is the worst that can happen?

 

All of the performers, under the direction of Billy Bungeroth, were pure perfection and there certainly were a lot of them! This collaboration was made up of five choreographers, three writers, six actors and two dozen dancers. At times, it was difficult to tell the comedians from the dancers as each tried on the others role with dancers delivering well timed punch lines and comedians flexing their dancing muscles. The writing was witty and fun, and the choreography was exceptional, highlighting the extreme talents of the dance company as well as their humorous side. In a piece completely improved by both the comedians and the dancers, it draws some unexpected similarities between the art of improv comedy and improv dance. 

 

Part of the appeal of this performance is that it continually surprises the audience with more and more creative, imaginative and inventive pieces. After the first act when you think they cannot top themselves, they prove you wrong with a second act that just keeps on impressing. All of that said, I leave this review here so as to not ruin the magic for you. You have to see this show for yourself. As it wows the audience with its cleverness, it also touches the heart and inspires the audience to take just let go, and not be afraid of falling.

 

Be sure to get your tickets now and catch The Art of Falling at the Harris Theater through June 19th!

 

Published in Theatre Reviews

We look forward to the TBS Just for Laughs Festival every year to get a week long dose of great comedy from dynamite Chicago locals and some of the best headliners in the business.

So when it was cancelled this year, we figured it might be nice to catch the one group of TBS comics on tour from the critically bashed TV show Sullivan and Son, where the whole gang was performing at Improv in Schaumburg. Atwww.BuzzNews.netwe are always hoping to show our support and possibly feature individual comics who might be talented but underutilized on their current project. 

Unfortunately, it was a huge waste of a night.  The entire set was nearly identical to last year’s Park West set at The TBS Festival. Right down to the closing "skit" where a female audience member gets a lap dance from the comics and some hapless audience members. Come on guys, how many huge and potentially comedic topical events have occurred in the last year? Yet, not one of you had written anything new, not one.

The normally smooth, funny and pleasant Steve Byrne had some awful aggressive rant in his material about his wife. Roy Woody Jr. went on and on about getting a "blowjob from a woman in a Walgreens' parking lot" until even his fellow cast members onstage were telling him to move on. Ahmed Ahmed gave his little bit of covert sexism to the night by apparently stealing one of John Leguizamo's funny transvestite voices AGAIN to portray women in his life who refuse to pick up the check.

Owen Benjamin, whom I can only describe as the "Master of Mediocrity" was so completely forgettable and bland that I couldn't roll my eyes hard enough to express the "blech" feeling his tired routine was causing. Benjamin proudly calls his vanilla brand of comedy "broad". Bill Cosby was broad, the late great Robin Williams was "broad", and unfortunately Owen Benjamin's comedy is just plain "shallow".

I feel sorry for the actually talented women on the TV show, including wonderful, adorable Christine Ebersole, Vivian Bang and tartly funny Jodi Long. 

If you are one of the few beer guzzling, simple minded fans of this show, which tries but fails miserably to recapture ANY of the warmth and edginess of 'Cheers" and "All in the Family",  I still recommend that you not take the time or spend the money to see these guys live.

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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