Critics theater picks for 6/24-6/26

June 24, 2011

Laura Molzahn

Tour the world on Chicago stages this weekend. Destinations follow:

JapanEiko & Koma open an MCA retrospective of their work, “Time Is Not Even, Space Is Not Empty,” with the performance installation Naked. Influenced by butoh and Zen Buddhism, the duo hang out—and they will be laid-back—in a “human-scale nest” of canvas, twigs, and feathers. Noon to five in the galleries, June 24-26, and noon to 8 on June 28.

Old World Spain! “Flamenco Passion” closes Ensemble Espanol’s 35th annual celebration of Spanish dance, newly renamed the American Spanish Dance and Music Festival to reflect the importance of singers and musicians to this ancient form. June 24-26 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

New World Spain! Barrel of Monkeys presents four Fridays of its new That’s Weird, Abuelita!, performed in Spanish and English beginning June 24. The BOM wizards showcase work by students at Little Village Academy and Columbia Explores Academy at the Little Village High School Auditorium; botanitas at 6:45 PM, performance at 7:30.

Plain Old U.S.A.! In “TAP!(ish),” Chicago Tap Theatre ranges far and wide as usual. Expect a collaboration with flamenco dancer Rosetta Magdalen as well as a new community number that CTT opened up to anyone “regardless of experience, disability, or perceived lack of rhythm.” Don’t worry, the one I saw last year was fun. Saturday only at the Athenaeum Theatre.

Jonathan Abarbanel

For 10 years, the signature show of Barrel of Monkeys has been That's Weird, Grandma, an ever-changing series of plays based on stories created by children during in-school creative writing workshops which also are part of the Monkeys' business. The stories are created by kids, but the troupe's Monday night performances at the Neo-Futurarium in Andersonville draw largely an adult audience. Now, Barrel of Monkeys is taking their concept to the Latino community with That's Weird, Abuelita, opening Friday (June 24) at the Little Village High School Auditorium. The show features stories by students from Little Village Elementary School and other Chicago Public School performed in English and Spanish. That's Weird, Abuelita runs through July 15. Pre-show botanitas will be served each night. Info and tickets: 312-409-1954.

Superstar Broadway composer Charles Strouse (Bye-Bye Birdie, Applause, Annie) makes a rare Chicago appearance Saturday (June 25) at Northwestern University's Pick-Staiger Hall. He'll be feted in a one-night only gala concert, Applause! Applause! A Celebration of Charles Strouse featuring not only Strouse himself (still going strong at 83) but also Christine Ebersole, Craig Carnelia, Marcy Heisler and Lari White. The concert is the final event in NU's annual Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project presented by The Johnny Mercer Foundation and the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University. FYI: Strouse is one of the most generous and decent guys in the biz. Info and tickets: (847) 491-7282.