In Concert

Mariah Sulaiman

Mariah Sulaiman

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.

 

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

There’s something new going on at Briar Street Theater! The Blue Man Group has made some new and exciting additions to their already beloved and ever-changing show. The fixture of Blue Man Group in Chicago entertainment has built a twenty-plus-year tradition that has grown to include generations of families, international acclaim (with shows Berlin, Boston, New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Amsterdam and Oberhausen) and fans all around the world. Unique to Chicago, at the intimate setting of Briar Street Theater in Lakeview, “Left”, “Middle” and “Right”, as our three Blue performers are called by their stage location, play with guests’ perceptions, develop an even closer audience relationship and bring out the little kid in everyone. You will shriek in delight (or even fear), laugh until in your sides hurt, and awe at the thrill of the Blue.

 

The dedication of the Blue Man Group crew guarantees that everyone has a unique experience when a participant in their show. Whether you are familiar with the tubes, massive drums and electric paint or maybe you haven’t been so up close and personal to such funky dudes of the like, no matter your Blue Man experience, veteran or newbie, this is a production that is sure to entertain any theater attendee. As always, the Blue experience is divulged to you through the sounds of music. You will remember the familiar and fall in love with the new. Have you ever used a GiPad? Among new songs, their live band and new technological additions, the Blue Man Group pulls you deeper into their own world experience and farther away from your phones.

 

Tom Galassi (Captain and Assistant Director), Jeff Quay (Associate Music Director) and one of the six primary Blue Men, “Boomer”, take pride in the new changes they’ve made and the show has become more encompassing of our current state of the world. A grand finale brings all people together with the love of music; standing and dancing and moving unified to the same song. The production also brings awareness to our attention to the digital world, in a comical, therapeutic way, perhaps slightly violent, but all with a Blue-branded sense of humor. The Blue Man group continues to be exciting, thrilling and always challenging to your perceptions. Locals, families, school groups and tourists all flock towards the light of the Blue. The new additions are not to be missed by anyone of any age, strengthening what was already a unique experience. Though be warned - don’t be late! You never know what they’ll do to you as you wander down that aisle.  

 

Blue Man Group has been a staple in Chicago for over two decades and there is a reason its popularity has not slowed down. The reason is simple. Blue Man Group has been, and will continue to be, a theater event like no other. Caution should be had when choosing seats. Although ponchos are provided, the first five rows put audience members at risk with getting doused, or splattered, with wet paint depending on your location.

 

Blue Man Group is performed at Briar Street Theater. For tickets and/or more show information, click here.  

 

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/.

 

 

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.

A line up of multi-talented artists made their Ravinia debut this past Sunday for a night of music for the romantics, the lovers and even the unloved.  “Thank you for letting me break your hearts for a little while,” introduced us to Rachel Yamagata who took to the stage as the show opener. She is currently working on a new album, continuing her tour and now celebrating the ten-year anniversary of her first release “Happenstance.” Playing the piano, a guitar and plucking on a kalimba, she showed intriguing talent.  Although new to the Ravinia stage, it was nice to hear music from so many TV hit series soundtracks (E.R., The O.C, One Tree Hill, Brothers & Sisters, and How I Met Your Mother) come to life on stage in the sultry and soothing voice of Yamagata.

Amos Lee then strode onto the stage in a black velvet jacket, vest, worn jeans, scruffy beard and black sunglasses, picked up his guitar and drove us into summer with “Windows are Rolled Down.” Surrounded by his very talented band, Zach Djanikian (guitar), Andy Keenan (Guitar), Jaron Olevsky (Keyboard), Annie Clements (Bass) and Fred Berman (Drums), Lee showcased his range, tone and powerful singing voice. Many of the numbers showcased the talents of his band. Original songs like “Rainbow”, “Jesus” and “Flower” were peppered with covers of “No Woman No Cry” and interpretations of well-known favorites like the Cranberries’ “Zombie” and a shout-out for Pride Week (both of which received a standing ovation). Lee got the crowd dancing with “Jump On It.”  Suffice it to say, Amos Lee brought the house down during his Ravinia debut.

With some technical difficulties and a louder, more anticipated second entrance David Gray finally took his seat at the piano and his very polished band took to the stage.  The crowds drew closer together and couples started swaying among the gates and the picnic tables as he began his set with “Birds in the High Arctic.”  Keeping the crowd entranced and romanced amidst the stars and candlelit tables, Gray performed “Back in the World,” “My Oh My”, “Nemesis” and even a song dedication to Joni Mitchell (“Alibi”).  Even as the rain started to drizzle, steadfast Gray fans, sang along.  It is hard to believe that with the music career he has had in the UK, and the cascade of feeling from his song “Babylon”, that this was also his first appearance at Ravinia.

Debuts, standing ovations, romance and emotion, it was a night to remember at Ravinia. If you missed it, it will be a show worth dancing in the rain to the next time these unbelievable artists are back in town.  Keep an eye on upcoming shows and acts at Ravinia, you never know who might surprise you.

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.

 

 

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