"Brute Force" @ the Auditorium Theater

May 28, 2010


(photo by Lee Bey)

 Whenever I go to a performance at the Auditorium Theater--Adler & Sullivan's masterpiece at Congress and Michigan--the hall's architecture steals my attention.

Willow Creek Chicago meets there on Sundays and I've attended services. The minister would bring forth a message; I'd be ogling Louis Sullivan's grillwork. Two months ago, I attended the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic's From Ella to Mandela: The Legacy of the African and American Spirit. That time, the performances by Orbert Davis, Maggie Brown, Dee Alexander, Terisa Griffin and others commanded my attention over the architecture, yes. But during an intermission there were questions--How did Sullivan work that arch? And wouldya just look at that gold leaf?--to contemplate.

So today, we talk about architecture only to detour from it. Blame "Fuerza Bruta: Look Up" an insanely kinetic and acrobatic work set to club music (complete with DJ) I learned about then saw earlier this week at the Auditorium. I didn't get distracted by the venue's architecture this time because (a) the performances were compelling and (b) the show took place above the stage with the audience also gathered on stage underneath, looking up (uh, hence the title.) They fixed me: Sullivan's great hall was closed off during the performance.‚  I had to watch the show.

(But wait: That stage can hold 800 standing people--plus all the mechanical accoutrement needed for the show. Just the stage? Wow, that Adler & Sullivan could---hold on. I got a little distracted just now. Sorry.)

In "Fuerza Bruta," performers run, fly, tumble, swim and dance--all while the audience‚  watched from below. The woman in the photo above swam in water that was in a shallow transparent pool suspended directly overhead. Here are some more photos from the night:


(photo by Lee Bey)


(photo by Lee Bey)

 

Audience. In awe. Especially the woman in the middle:


(photo by Lee Bey)

Music was pumping and the audience liked it:


(photo by Lee Bey)


(photo by Lee Bey)


(photo by Lee Bey)

I liked the show, but will leave the critique to the professionals. Here's what my former Sun-Times colleague Hedy Weiss said about it. And Chris Jones from the Tribune, too.