Don't-Miss List April 5-11: Babes with Blades, Pippin

April 5, 2012

by Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel

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Jonathan’s back and I’ve got him! Friday morning the Dueling Critics will deal with some actual dueling, in the form of Babes With Blades’s world-premiere production of Trash. The eponymous Babes, realizing that the pen is mightier than the sword, annually commission a work that will show off their considerable stage combat skills-- a wise decision for a group which has chosen the unusual niche of “women, sword-fighting.” But for real blood sport check out Jonathan and me crossing swords Friday morning, or if you miss it, check back here for the audio later in the day.  -KK


Pippin, The Music Theatre Company in Highland Park, Thursday-Sunday through May 6, $40

There are only two possible reactions to Pippin, Stephen Schwartz’s musical about the ne’er do well son of Charlemagne: eye-rolling impatience and utter veneration. Count me in the second camp, and trust my assurance that the show’s current production at the Music Theatre Company in Highland Park is as close to perfect (which is to say, as close to the Ben Vereen/Bob Fosse 1970s original) as one is ever likely to get. Joey Stone is extraordinary as the Lead Player; Andrew Keltz’s Pippin is a suitable mixture of whiny adolescent and romantic lead; and the choreography by director Jessica Redish pays such excellent and careful homage to Fosse that audience members feel like they’re present at the creation of a musical theater icon. MTC is the last stop Jessie Mueller made as a Chicago musical actress before taking Broadway by storm in On A Clear Day . . .You can rely on the high quality of its work. -KK

McKinley Carter, “Spring Forward/Fall Back” at Cabaret With a View in Millennium Park,
Monday April 9, 7:30 p.m., $25


Recover from the weekend by sitting on the stage of the Pritzker Pavilion (or up in the choir loft) and hear musical-comedy actress McKinley Carter show her pop-cabaret chops. She’s a powerful performer with the genuine air of a sophisticated lady; who better to close out the season at this lovely series sponsored by the city to make off-season use of the summer bandshell? -KK

Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret, at Silk Road's Downtown theater through May 6.

From Japanese Sandman to Chinatown, My Chinatown to The Pearl Fishers, there is an entire subculture of popular, Broadway and operatic music that capitalizes on Asian stereotypes. Two years ago, Silk Road Rising incorporated some of these songs in a cabaret revue in which the Asian-American cast members also related personal stories and feelings. Now, artistic director Jamil Khoury and his team have assembled Round Two. There certainly is enough music for a third round, as well.  -JA

After the Revolution at Next Theatre Company in Evanston, playing through May 12.

So, OK, you take two of Our Town's most beloved veteran actors, Mike Nussbaum and Mary Ann Thebus, and you have them play fire-brand American Jewish Marxist provocateurs who have inspired their children and grandchildren to follow in their anti-establishment footsteps. Then you ask the gifted Kimberly Senior to direct the show, which was written by the none-too-shabby Amy Herzog. What you have is After the Revolution. The Revolution may fail, but the production is as close to a sure thing as you can get in theater. -JA