Working for the Weekend: Critics picks for 5/20-5/22

May 19, 2011

Kelly Kleiman

Tonight and tomorrow night, check out Redmoon's Youth Spectacle at the Notebaert Nature Museum. Under the guidance of Redmoon, 750 young people from around the city have created a live exhibition on the South Terrace of the museum using, as the press release tells us, "shadow animation, sound installation, surreal visual art and performance to transform the Nature Museum's South Gallery and Terrace into a complex celebration of the everyday wonders of Chicago's urban ecosystem." 

As with most Redmoon stuff, it's impossible to describe and must be experienced. Three shows a night, at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.; the $10 for adults/$8 for children/$25 for families admission charge includes access to the museum for the evening.  It's just off Lake Shore Drive at Fullerton in Lincoln Park.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre is here for its annual visit through the weekend. If Huckleberry Finn is the great American novel and "Leaves of Grass" the great American poem, Ailey's "Revelations" is the great American dance. They'll also be showing new work in this final tour before Artistic Director Judith Jamison retires. At the Auditorium Theater on Congress downtown; tickets from $30 up to the stratospheric $87. 

Finally, we've told you all about the Columbia College Theater Symposium, but here's news: the Symposium, running today through Saturday, is now offering a $35 per day ticket for those of you who don't have 3 days or $90 to spare. You may want to attend Saturday, which focuses on comedy and on criticism (always assuming one could tell the difference).

At least come by around noon to hear Jonathan and me field your critiques of our work, because turnabout is fair play, and to see which of the many comedy/improv performers is working or reminiscing.  In the Film Building at 1104 South Wabash. Full schedule here.

Laura Molzahn

Get a peek at Hubbard Street Dance’s new direction during its Summer Series this weekend. (“Summer.” We wish!) In the first step of a two-year collaboration, this protean troupe performs the company premiere of Alonzo King’s 2000 Following the Subtle Current Upstream, which Ailey presented here in 2001. King—head of long-lived LINES Ballet of San Francisco—is known for straddling cultures; this neoclassical piece is set to world music and regularly bends, folds, and staples the dancers in very unballetic ways. Also on the program are Jiri Kylian’s profound 27’52”and Aszure Barton’s psychologically intriguing Untouched.

In a more avant-garde vein, the Dance Center of Columbia College and Columbia’s theater department present the U.S. premiere of Told by the Wind, created and performed by the Llanarth Group, based in Wales. The stage is dressed with a patch of dirt, two chairs, a desk, and a wicker suitcase full of little branches; performers Phillip Zarrilli and Jo Shapland move little and say less, but it seems he’s a writer and she’s his muse. Or they’re an estranged husband and wife. Or ego and id. Or civilization and nature. You’ll have plenty of time to think about it—or just immerse yourself in the mysteries of this 50-minute piece.

Jonathan Abarbanel

This weekend gives rise to a pair of astonishing works of musical theater. Court Theatre, tackles Porgy and Bess, the great 1935 piece by George and Ira Gershwin and Dubose and Dorothy Heyward that straddles Broadway and opera. It's a huge, challenging work with a vast role for the ensemble and orchestra, yet Court Theatre, seating only 250, will present it with a small instrumental ensemble and a cast of fewer than 20. Ya' gotta' give something to get something.

What choices and trade-offs will director Charles Newell and musical director Doug Peck make? Porgy and Bess runs through July 3 and many performances already are sold out.


And then there's Hell in a Handbag Productions offering the world premiere of the musical Trogg, based on the schlock sci-fi film which marked Joan Crawford's last screen role. The film was so bad, it killed her. Hell in a Handbag chief David Cerda will play the Crawford role (as he always does), and he also co-authored the work with Cheryl Snodgrass and Taylor E. Ross. The always-imaginative Scott Ferguson directs. Trogg runs at the Chopin Theatre through July 3.