Dance in Review

It was a night for the archetypes of rock at Ravinia this past weekend. The rain finally let up for a cool evening to rock the night away with “Rage and Rapture”, the new Blondie and Garbage tour. The eclectic crowd of Garbage fans and Blondie fans filled the pavilion and spread across the grass in anticipation of these female rock icons.

Opening songs were played by John Doe and Exene Cervenka, mid-west natives, making their Ravinia debut. The long time musical duo, which has been performing since the 70’s (as a group and as solo artists) had the crowd swaying to their music and enjoying their last night on the “Rage and Rapture Tour”. The warm up act was well received with much applause and appreciation.

As the lights phased out and the stage was covered in a flood of red light, Shirley Manson and the band members of Garbage took to the stage. In what can only be called her signature look, Manson and the boys took over. This band first met in Chicago and began putting out music in 1995.Their latest album “Strange Little Birds” was released in 2016. The audience reveled in songs like “Only Happens When It Rains”, “Stupid Girl”, “Push It” and “Cup O’ Coffee”.  Fans were on their feet dancing and singing along. The energy was palpable.  It was a warmly welcomed and exciting first appearance at Ravinia for Garbage.

Then, although a hard act to follow, Blondie took the stage with backdrop images of buzzing bees. Debbie Harry sported a Pollinator mask (also the name of her May released album) and cape with a bold statement about the treatment of the Earth. Following a forty-year history of the powerhouse that is Blondie, original members, 72-year-old Debbie Harry, 61-year-old Clem Burke (drummer), and guitarist Chris Stein (67 years) were joined on stage by the new age members Tommy Kessler, Leigh Fox, and Matt Katz-Bohen, in a testimony of iconic style, creative music and a love for all people. The audience surged to the edge of the pavilion and remained on their feet. Fans sang along to signature songs like “One Way or Another,” “Hanging on the Telephone,” and “Heart of Glass”. The crowd also continued to sing along with Blondie’s new releases, having fun with tracks like “Fun”.

It was a night to rock out at Ravinia with some rocking music and iconic ladies. It was night not to be missed!

For a list of upcoming Ravinia shows, click HERE.

 

Published in In Concert

Saturday night was a night of firsts for Ravinia, hosting its first Hip Hop show that included a lineup of first-time performers on the stage, and featuring the one and only Common. One does not typically think of Hip-Hop when thinking of the outdoor picnic grounds and pavilion of Ravinia, but tonight even with the chance of rain (rain ponchos provided) fans from Chicago and its surrounding suburbs showed up in high numbers to groove and dance the night away.

With sponsorship from United and 107.5 WGCI, DJ Anthony took to the decks, making his Ravinia debut to open the night at this all ages concert. Fans know him from his radio spots on GCI and his current work as a producer on Cody Chestnut’s and the new Gorrilaz album.

Next up, was Tay (Taylor Bennett), another Chicago native from 79th Street and brother of Chance the Rapper, also making his Ravinia debut. With samples of tracks from his album Restoration of an American Idol and Broad Shoulders, the audience got a good feel for this up and coming rapper and his style of music. He was invited by Common as a late addition to the night’s musical lineup.

After twenty-five years in the music business, the Golden Globe and Grammy winner, and Oscar nominated musician for the theme song from Selma (“Glory”), once again took the stage in his hometown Chicago (well, Highland Park, anyway – close enough). This appearance marked Common’s first ever performance at Ravinia. I have seen quite a few shows at Ravinia, there are often a handful of dancers sprinkled throughout the crowd, scattered among the seated in the pavilion and across the grass, many standing on their feet for portions of a show. But the crowd response for Common was the most avid I have personally seen at the festival. The moment, Common stepped onto the stage, the entire pavilion arose from their seats, most remaining on their feet dancing and cheering for the entire show. Those with lawn tickets pressed themselves against the barricades while others danced atop the grass. Common pulled the crowd in, never letting go, playing his award-winning hit "Glory" along with songs that spanned throughout his twenty-five-year career known and loved by his fans. His was a high energy performance, and with meaning, as Common reinforced the purpose behind his Black America Again album. His message is simple in that supporting a community of people working together, enjoying music and life together, we are building a safer and more connected Chicago and world.

There is much more to see and be seen of Common in the future. With Common’s newfound success at the festival, perhaps more Hip-Hop acts will be scheduled for Ravinia. “I wondered if they liked Hip-Hop at Ravinia”, the artist jested to cheers across the venue. Yes, we do. With so much energy and love in the air, it was an unbelievable night of Ravinia firsts. www.Ravinia.org

Set List:
The Corner
The People
The Food
U, Black Maybe
Get ‘Em High (Kanye West)
Come Close
Testify/Darling Nikki (Prince)
I Used to Love H.E.R.
Take It EZ
Go!
Love Is…
The Light
Forever Begins
Be (Intro)
Glory

Published in In Concert

Let’s welcome in summer and enjoy the history of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at the Harris Theater with a collection of eight dances of varying styles and intriguing music. Pieces old and new, reworked and original amazed one after another including Lucas Crandall’s (Imprint - Duet), William Forsythe’s (reproduction of One Flat Thing), Alejandro Cerrudo’s (One Thousand Pieces - Water Section), Jim Vincent’s (Palladio), Crystal Pite’s (A Picture of You Falling), Twyla Tharp’s (The Golden Section), and Lou Conte’s (Georgia and the 40’s).

This historical glance 40-year glance at the iconic dance company brings forth a walk through time and the growth of Hubbard Dance. Lou Conte’s romantic summer love of ‘Georgia’ was originally premiered in 1987 as part of “Rose from the Blues” and makes you ache for the loss of summer love. Even more history is bestowed upon the crowd with the happiness, creativity of the 40’s, also by Conte. Infusing big band music, 40’s style dance, jitterbug moves and the feeling of the celebrations of old Hollywood, the piece is truly a joy to watch.

“The Golden Section” choreographed by Twyla Tharp/Tharp Project, in its golden velour and unabashed 80’s energy that had originally been performed on Broadway in 1981, brought a liveliness and fun to the stage. The enthusiasm and vibrancy had audience members bobbing their heads and giggling along with the sheer fun of the dancer’s movement and energy.

Something for everyone, Hubbard Street’s Summer Series 39 will truly grab your attention with the loving duet of “Imprint” by Lucas Crandall and romantic “Palladio” by Jim Vincent. Theater goers will fall under the mesmerizing spell of the smokiness and ethereal beauty of ghostlike figures and sounds of water in “One Thousand Pieces” by Alejandro Cerrudo. Children and adults alike will be enthralled with the chaotic energy of “One Flat Thing”, in awe of the dancer’s abilities to move between, over, under and through the flat things with such speed, grace and fluidity.

Beautiful and graceful, “A Picture of You Falling” by Crystal Pite will capture the audiences’ attention from start to finish, leaving you out of breath, and wondering, if this is how it really will be in the end.

Through a night of innumerable feelings and experiences, this historical journey into the past of “Hubbard Street Dance at 40”, was a thrill for all families and fans of dance. So very few places can provide such a complete feeling of history and nostalgia while also inspiring all of us to see what the future will bring.

Hubbard Street’s Summer Series 39 was performed at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. For more information on this amazing dance company and to see future events, visit www.HubbardStreetDance.com.

 

Published in Dance in Review

What do you do with your family over the holidays? Stay at home? Eat a meal together? Dress the tree? Give gifts to your work family?  How do you show your loved ones you care for them?

Step Up Productions and its HoliDaze one-acts continues its 3rd season and supports awareness for Seasonal Affected Disorder (S.A.D.S.) at the Athenaeum Theatre 29366 N Southport Avenue, from November 26th – December 20th. These six short one-act plays written by six different playwrights bring awareness for the different kinds of feelings and emotional dynamics within families during the holidays, of what some families are willing to do without, and how much others just wish for things to change.  

                                  

Mia McCullough writes ‘Temperance vs. Tolerance’ about Sabrina, a young woman who asks her family to assist her in helping get through the holiday without drinking.  There is more than one change that the family works through to sit at the table for a holiday dinner. Discovering her family’s depth for tolerance is a learning experience for everyone.

 

‘Christmas Eve’ by M.T. Cozzola, touches on the work family relationship between two new co-workers.  One of which exudes an abundance of holiday spirit and generosity in gift giving. 

The expectations of relationships, to brave the Chicago cold or even family members that may not like you are presented in ‘Your Better Half’ by Jake Carr. The hesitancy to start a family and to share the news is the theme of ‘Someplace Warm’ by Steven Peterson.

 

‘This is that Moment’ by Joshua Rollins examines the night that a relationship changes, the regrets one has and the question of how you can make a change.

 

Finally, ‘Later in the Strange’ by Steven Simoncic, tells a story of how one family tries to get through the holidays without the one person who made every holiday so special for them all. 

 

Each of these stories touches on the dynamics that many families struggle through each year.  From the loss of a family member, to reestablishing relationships and questioning how relationships have changed.  Poignant and aware of the different families and relationships that the world has, HoliDaze has created a group of one-acts that make you enjoy the hope of the holidays and crave the nearness and dearness of your families.    It will make you reach out for those you love and remind them of how truly thankful you are for them.

 

For more show information visit http://athenaeumtheatre.org/.

 

 

Published in Theatre Reviews

Although a muggy night, the crowd arrived in force at Ravinia.  Chicago natives, the Plain White T’s made their Ravinia debut this past Saturday night.  A pop-punk band since 1997, it’s surprising that these gentlemen have only now just graced this stage.  It was evident that their signature tracks, in their pop-punk style are the back beat in the lives of so many. “1234” and “Hey There Delilah” raved in echoed singing voices, and dancing couples waved across the grass and over the hills of Ravinia.  Know that their most recent album, released earlier this year “American Nights” is another great summer album to rock with your windows rolled down. Their new single “Rhythm of Love” got the crowd up on their feet.  Tunes like “Stay” and “Heavy Rotations” are high energy with new beats, great heat, and are easy to sing along to.  For the love of the music, and for the heart, take a look at this soon to be your favorite new album.

Another album release coming out this year in August, introduces us to a new side of Rob Thomas, the headlining act for the evening.  Known for being a part of Matchbox 20, and for his hit song with Santana “Smooth”, this pop prince is roaming his way toward country.  The crowd was on their feet for most of the heated show (as Rob, changed his shirt half way through). Old and new tracks, “Lonely No More,” “Boom Shake” and even a remix of “Let’s Dance” brought cheers for Rob and his band, and sing-alongs from the crowd.  The first single “Trust You” from his new album “The Great Unkown” was an introduction to all the great things to come.  You only get “One Shot” to make a night at Ravinia, Rob heated up the stage and set fire to the release of his upcoming album.

Check out upcoming Ravinia shows at www.Ravinia.org.

Published in In Concert
Monday, 16 March 2015 00:00

Review: The Full Monty

One can never have enough of imports from across the sea, “The Full Monty” based on the book by Terrence McNally which earned a 2001 Tony Away nomination and based on the movie by Fox of the same name, is no exception.  Currently being performed at the intimate space of Chicago's Theatre Wit, the audience becomes part of the struggle of the men in a town who are just trying to get by. The Full Monty is set in Buffalo, New York, rather than its original setting in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. But that doesn't really matter. 
  
David Yazbek, wrote the script and music for this new interpretation for the cast of twenty, and the audience can tell that with his talent and the work of director John D. Glover, the 2 hour and 20 minute show, draws the audience into the lives of the regular men in Buffalo as they get over their insecurities, fear and doubts through their chances of changing their situation, their jobs and their lives, with one night of stripping.
 
Your heart sympathizes with the mastermind of the disrobing plan, Jerry Lukowski (Garrett Lutz) unexpected along for the ride, his best friend Dave Bukatinsky (Scott Danielson).  Bringing the group up from a two man show, the friends draw in some of the local gentleman from the mill they had all been laid off from, Harold (Eric Lindahl), Malcolm (George Toles), “Horse” (Randy Johnson) and Ethan (Greg Foster). These men come together to overcome their obstacles and support each other in ways they never expected.
 
You will laugh out loud, you will clap along, you will try to sing a long, you will tear up and you will root for the underdog, praying all six of them (the old, the young, the skinny, the round, the hairy and the hairless) will succeed. The Full Monty hits on many topics including obesity, depression, impotency and father's rights to name a few. As much of a show for the working man, father, husband or boyfriend, as it is a treat for the ladies, all walks of life should enjoy The Full Monty.  Although, more of an adult show (parental guidance would be suggested), teenagers would relate to the family dynamic and stand behind Jerry Lukowski’s son, Nathan (played by Kyle Klein II and Seth Steinberg).
 
The Full Monty is playing at Theatre Wit through April 12th. For show info and/or tickets visit www.theaterwit.org.
Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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