WBEZ | The Better Half http://www.wbez.org/tags/better-half Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Theater picks for your weekend: Alexander before he was Great, Bad Boys of Dance and a vaudeville comeback http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-03/theater-picks-your-weekend-alexander-he-was-great-bad-boys-dance-an <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-03/Bad Boys of Dance Image 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p><a href="http://www.etacreativearts.org/index.php">eta Creative Arts</a> follows up its well-regarded <em>Flow</em> (which will have <a href="http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/school-news/27663-governors-state-universitys-center-for-performing-arts-presents-flow-saturday-november-12-at-8-pm.html">an encore presentation at Governors State University next weekend</a>) with <em><strong>Broke-ology</strong>,</em> a family drama about the intersection of brothers, elder-care and dominoes. Nathan Louis Jackson's play, directed by Artistic Director Runako Jahi, opens tonight on the Mainstage. Opening night tickets are only $10, with $20 Thursdays throughout the run; regular admission is $30. Through December 18 at eta Square, 7558 S. South Chicago Avenue.</p><p>Or, if you're among the teeming masses of the unemployed and are not busy <a href="http://www.thethirdcity.org/blog/jon-randolph/uncategorized/randolph-street-occupy-lasalle-street/">occupying LaSalle Street</a>, you could go to <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=545">Steppenwolf</a> this afternoon for a free reading of a new play by <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/bio.aspx?id=381&amp;crewId=721">Sarah Gubbins</a>, <strong><em>fml: or how Carson McCullers saved my life</em></strong> (an apt complement to <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=539">Steppenwolf's Theatre for Young Adults production of McCullers's <em>The Heart is a Lonely Hunter</em>,</a> which closes tomorrow). Gubbins is the author of <a href="http://www.chicagodramatists.org/production_the-kid-thing"><em>The Kid Thing</em>, whose world-premiere production at Chicago Dramatists</a> was one of the highlights of this fall's season. 3 p.m. at the Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted. The free readings continue&nbsp; through Saturday; the First Look series of performances continues through November 20, but this is the only weekend you can get $10 tickets including a free beer.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-03/vaudeville.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 169px;" title="">Even more exciting than the <a href="http://www.oldtownschool.org/?gclid=CJyLore4mKwCFcOd7Qodg2WULg">Old Town School of Folk Music</a>'s decision to branch out into theater is the subject of the show: <strong><em>Keep A Song in Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville</em></strong>. It would be hard to top the array of talent involved: <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=2324">Andrea J. Dymond </a>will direct the piece, whose creator-performers include the <a href="http://www.carolinachocolatedrops.com/">Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops</a>, the MacArthur Genius Grant-winning ragtime composer <a href="http://www.reginaldrrobinson.com/">Reginald R. Robinson</a>, and veteran Chicago tapper <a href="http://www.tapheritage.org/reggio.html">Reggio "The Hoofer" McLaughlin</a>. Tonight through Sunday only, in the School's Maurer Concert Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue.&nbsp; Tickets are $45, $43 for Old Town School Members, $41 for seniors. The show is not recommended for children: adult language and content.</p><p>Finally, <strong><a href="http://www.rivernorthchicago.com/">River North Dance Chicago</a></strong> comes home briefly to the Harris Theater. The company's "Reality of a Dreamer" was, in its original form, the sexiest thing you'd ever see on a legitimate stage; they've reworked it as "Evolution of a Dream" and we'll see whether the libido still comes panting through. Tonight through Saturday only; tickets $30-$75.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/events/2011-2012-season/river-north-dance">The Harris</a>, at 205 East Randolph Street, is that glass box resembling a butt-plug for the Pritzker Pavilion. Still, there's not a bad seat in the house, and when you're inside you don't have to look at it.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p>Word is that tickets are selling fast. On Saturday<strong>, </strong><a href="http://cso.org/TicketsAndEvents/EventDetails.aspx?eid=4296"><strong>DanceWorks Chicago</strong> shares the Symphony Center stage with the CSO</a> in two hour-long shows at family-friendly times. In “Magical Movements,” the six youthful DWC dancers help “build” the orchestra for the occasion’s finale, Benjamin Britten’s <em>The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra</em>. If for some reason you aren’t interested in being surrounded by kids age five to nine, <a href="http://www.danceworkschicago.org/Event/Dance-Flight-1111.aspx">DWC is also performing a “Dance Flight”</a> Saturday evening set to an eclectic mix of music: Vivaldi, Gershwin, and Sons of the Never Wrong.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-03/Bad Boys of Dance Image 2.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 429px;" title="The Bad Boys of Dance"></p><p>They’re called <a href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/">“<strong>The Bad Boys of Dance</strong>,”</a> but they’re neither all-bad nor all-boys. Fans of <em>Dancing With the Stars&nbsp;</em>and <em>So You Think You Can Dance</em>—the Bad Boys have turned up on both shows—will relish the opportunity to see these six babe magnets and one babe (Adrienne Canterna-Thomas, also the choreographer) shake their stuff in pieces set mostly to well-known pop songs. Saturday and Sunday at the Auditorium.</p><p>In the department of continuing but soon-to-end shows…. Lucky Plush undertakes its second and final weekend at the MCA in <strong><em><a href="http://mcachicago.org/performances/now/all/2011/740">The Better Half</a></em></strong>, a brainy, funny physical-theater take on the 1944 film <em>Gaslight</em>…. And if you’re a fan of zombies—you know you are—try to catch <em><a href="http://www.musicalofthelivingdead.com/Musical_of_the_Living_Dead/Welcome.html">Musical of the Living Dead</a> </em>before its last show, November 12.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-03/Hershey%2520showpage.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 225px; height: 300px;" title="">Gifted pianist, writer and actor Hershey Felder has entertained us before with his one-man shows—half concert and half play—about George Gerswhin, Frederic Chopin and Beethoven. Now he’s back as Lenny, baby, in <a href="http://www.theroyalgeorgetheatre.com/shows.php?s=51"><strong><em>Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein</em></strong></a> at the Royal George Theatre. Conductor, author, serious composer, Broadway composer, brilliant lecturer, dedicated liberal, husband, father and bisexual lover, Bernstein certainly was a multi-faceted showman (and he was, indeed, a showman). We’ll see how many facets Felder fathoms in 100 minutes or so. <em>Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein</em> continues through Dec. 30. However, Felder has found Chicago congenial and often has extended his shows.</p><p>Alexander of Macedon (not yet “the Great”) was whuppin’ the Persians when he was just 21 years old, leading his troupes into battle with wounds to prove it. This point is pertinent to the 2011-2012 season of <a href="http://www.thesideproject.net/">the side project theatre company</a> (sic, they use all lower-case letters), up in Rogers Park (1439 W. Jarvis), which has dedicated the year to issues of war and youth. Not only that, but the side project is presenting its six-play season in rotating repertory, three plays now and three more in the spring. The opening repertory, which rolls this weekend, includes the world premieres <strong><em>of Through the Middle Ground</em></strong> by Louis Cancelmi and <strong><em>An Interrogation Primer</em></strong> by Mike Nowacki, plus the Midwest debut of Brett Neveu’s <strong><em>Twentyone</em></strong>. The first repertory series continues at the side project through Dec. 18.</p></p> Thu, 03 Nov 2011 15:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-03/theater-picks-your-weekend-alexander-he-was-great-bad-boys-dance-an Lucky Plush's 'The Better Half' at the MCA canceled tonight, running Saturday http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-28/lucky-plushs-better-half-mca-canceled-tonight-running-saturday-9358 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-28/Lucky Plush.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-28/luckyplush.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px; " title=""></p><p>Adrian Danzig, a member of 500 Clown playing in Lucky Plush's <em>The Better Half</em>, was injured last night, and the show has been canceled tonight, Friday. It will run tomorrow night, with <strike>an understudy</strike> Plasticene founding member Brian Shaw in Danzig's role, and <a href="http://mcachicago.org/performances/now/all/2011/740">then again November 3-6</a>. <em>The Better Half</em>, a take on the 1994 film <em>Gaslight</em>, was co-created and -directed by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (Adrian's .... mmm, better half) and LP's Julia Rhoads.</p><p>Whether Danzig or <strike>the unnamed understudy</strike> Shaw will perform next weekend is still uncertain. Don't worry: Danzig's injury doesn't involve the tons of gore sometimes associated with 500 Clown shows.</p></p> Fri, 28 Oct 2011 19:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-28/lucky-plushs-better-half-mca-canceled-tonight-running-saturday-9358 Not-so-spooky theater picks for your Halloween weekend http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-27/not-so-spooky-theater-picks-your-halloween-weekend-93511 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-27/Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Water Stains on the Wall, photo by LIU Chen-hsiang 4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-27/searching_for_peabodys_tomb.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 289px; height: 135px;" title="">Though most of this weekend's theatrical fun and games are covered in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-21/dueling-critics-creep-you-out-93377">the Dueling Critics' Halloween picks</a>, at least one remains.&nbsp;<strong><em>Searching for Peabody's Tomb</em></strong> is <a href="http://www.firstfolio.org/">First Folio Theatre</a>'s improvement on the traditional Halloween haunted house, taking the stout of heart through its Mayslake Mansion home to look for the spirit (and any earthly manifestations) of its founding coal profiteer George Peabody. Any excuse to be in that beautiful house, set on that beautiful lot out in the countryside, especially on a night when the moon's a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. Today through Halloween Monday only, with performance/tours on the half-hour beginning at 7 p.m., at the Forest Preserve in Oakbrook; all tickets only $10.&nbsp; Call 630-986-8067 for reservations; some performances are sold out. For ages 12 and up.</p><p>And for those of you who want to skip right to the next holiday, <strong><em>Irving Berlin's White Christmas</em></strong> has just opened at <a href="http://www.marriotttheatre.com/">Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire</a>. There's no particular hurry, though: this smartly-produced stage adaptation of the beloved holiday film runs through New Year's Day. Tickets $40-$48.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-27/Cloud%20Gate%20Dance%20Theatre%20of%20Taiwan%2C%20Water%20Stains%20on%20the%20Wall%2C%20photo%20by%20LIU%20Chen-hsiang%204.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 312px; height: 400px;" title="Cloud Gate ">Viewers have been known to fall asleep at performances. Sometimes twice. (Eric Futran, I’m talking to you.) Despite that, or because of it, <strong><a href="http://www.colum.edu/dance_center/performances/Cloud_Gate_Dance_Theatre_of_Taiwan/index.php">Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan</a></strong> is not to be missed. Choreographer Lin Hwai-min aims for a meditative effect, but at the same time the dancing is so expert, so exhilarating, that you walk out feeling twice as alive as when you went in. <em>Water Stains on the Wall</em>might not sound scintillating, but believe me, God is in the details of this hour-long piece. Friday and Saturday at the Harris.</p><p>What performance isn’t improvised? But when choreographers leave the door wide open to improv, the results can be more dramatic than in the best-laid plans. I have high hopes for <a href="http://www.synapsearts.com/index.php?s=events">Rachel Damon’s <strong><em>Factor Ricochet</em></strong></a>, which she developed with her dancers over many months, exploring the many personas within each one. The resulting work—made up of choreography and “improvography”—opens tonight, Thursday, at Bucktown’s Holstein Park and runs through November 4.</p><p>Also tonight: <a href="http://mcachicago.org/performances/now/all">Lucky Plush Productions opens <strong><em>The Better Half</em></strong></a> at the MCA. Choreographer Julia Rhoads collaborated with 500 Clown members Adrian and Leslie Danzig to create this seriocomic movement-theater riff on the 1944 noir <em>Gaslight</em>, with glimmerings of <em>The Bourne Identity</em>and Ingmar Bergman’s <em>Scenes From a Marriage</em>. Two weekends, through November 6.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p>As Kelly said before, this is Halloween Weekend, of course, and the truly wise will seek out the recommendations of Chicago Public Media’s Dueling Critics with regard to Halloween-themed shows, posted last Friday on this site. As for the truly unwise . . . .</p><p>Teatro Vista, celebrating its 22<sup>nd</sup> season, starts things rolling with <a href="http://www.teatrovista.org/stage/26-miles.html"><strong><em>Momma’s Boyz</em></strong></a>, the first of two plays by Candido Tirado the Latino-American troupe will produce this season. The troupe produces plays in English (or mostly English) exploring the urban landscape, and <em>Momma’s Boyz</em> is a tough-as-nails tale of three friends in The Projects who sell drugs. Twist is, it moves backwards in time to give the three a second chance with the help of hindsight that reality rarely offers. It’s running at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Avenue, through Dec. 4.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-27/MV-Full.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 240px; height: 250px;" title="">My other choice just might fit the Halloween mold, although that’s not the specific intention of Jordan Harrison’s <a href="http://www.nexttheatre.org/maple-and-vine-shows-16.php"><strong><em>Maple and Vine</em></strong></a>, which opens the 30<sup>th</sup> season of the Next Theatre Company in Evanston. This Midwest premiere concerns an under-pressure, 21<sup>st</sup> century urban couple who retrogress by giving up iPhones and multi-tasking to join a community of 1950’s re-enactors, and live in a world of cigarettes, black and white TV, Eisenhower and Tupperware parties. But will it bring them happiness? Rod Serling, where are you? The estimable Damon Kiely is the director. <em>Maple and Vine</em> continues at Next Theatre, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, through Dec. 4.</p></p> Thu, 27 Oct 2011 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-27/not-so-spooky-theater-picks-your-halloween-weekend-93511 Theater and film classics inspiring Chicago's dance scene http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/theater-and-film-classics-inspiring-chicagos-dance-scene-93116 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-13/Lucky Plush productions.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Two upcoming dance performances involve unusual theatrical twists: One takes inspiration from a classic noir film, the other looks to Shakespeare’s <em>Henry V</em>. Both ask whether all is fair in love and war. For WBEZ, Lucia Mauro gave a preview on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>.</p><p>Pick Up Performance Co(s) performs <a href="http://www.colum.edu/dance_center/performances/pickupperformance/index.php" target="_blank"><em>Dancing Henry V</em> </a>Thrusday through Saturday at the Dance Center of Columbia College. <a href="http://luckyplush.com/" target="_blank">Lucky Plush Productions’ </a><a href="http://mcachicago.org/performances/now/all/2011/740" target="_blank"><em>The Better Half </em></a>will be at the Museum of Contemporary Art later this month and in early November.</p><p>In the 1940s thriller, <em>Gaslight</em>, things are not what they seem. Charles Boyer as a murderous thief marries Ingrid Bergman, the niece of one of his victims. His intention is to return to his victim’s home for her priceless jewels. Throughout the movie, Boyer methodically tries to drive Bergman crazy so that he can eventually get her out of the way by committing her to a mental institution. Lucky Plush Productions, a local dance-theater company, uses ideas from <em>Gaslight</em> to comment on modern marriage—but that doesn’t mean all marriages are fraught with deadly schemes.</p><p>Choreographer Julia Rhoads and director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig have something lighter, but no less profound, in mind. Their world premiere titled, <em>The Better Half</em>, humorously cuts between elements from the movie <em>Gaslight</em> and an alternate reality in which an ordinary couple cave under the weight of life’s mundane challenges. The artists employ a meta-theatrical conceit, similar to Thornton Wilder’s <em>Our Town</em>, in which a stage manager oversees—and even manipulates—the proceedings. With guest artists from Chicago’s acrobatic 500 Clown group, <em>The Better Half</em> favors a dangerous, tumbling sense of movement, with high shoulder balances and aggressive lifts. They also use mime and abstract movement, together with text from Ingmar Bergman’s introspective Swedish TV series, <em>Scenes from a Marriage</em>.</p><p>In one sequence, the wife and husband get into a tiff over a set of misplaced keys, with the husband circling and backtracking to the point of mad frustration. His wife, who alternates between affectionate and wary, searches for a way to escape her boring routine while the man can’t seem to get out of the house. Through architectural lighting that suggests film noir and absurdist entanglements involving a detective and hidden jewels in the attic like the movie, the piece switches between real-life anxiety and theatrical contrivance. In subtle nods to the film, the five performers play around with simple props. The wife, for instance, rolls up her pants at the waist like a corset; one of the maids takes the plastic off the dry cleaning and wraps it around her hips to form a bustle.</p><p>In the end, these constrained characters in search of an escape route learn the virtue of compromise and raise the question: How much control do we have over our own stories?</p><p>New York-based Pick Up Performance Co(s), headed by witty post-modern dance excavator David Gordon, looks at warfare through a similar stripped-down lens. His hour-long movement reflection, titled <em>Dancing Henry V</em>, reevaluates Shakespeare’s beloved but questionably patriotic history play. It centers on the English monarch’s invasion of France in the early 15th century. The <em>Cliff Notes</em>-inspired staging transforms bed sheets into sails and sticks into broad swords against wry narrator Valda Setterfield’s chorus-like proclamations. A real mixed-bag of styles, <em>Dancing Henry V</em> pairs William Walton’s heraldic music from Laurence Olivier’s film version with semi-formal, royal court dance steps and dramatic voiceovers. The dancers are a ragtag band of storytellers in rugby shirts and wool caps—something of a blank canvas reenacting global conflict.</p><p>Both Lucky Plush Productions and Pick Up Performance Co(s) mine the classics for insight into the current state of love and war.</p></p> Thu, 13 Oct 2011 14:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/theater-and-film-classics-inspiring-chicagos-dance-scene-93116 Critics theater picks for 6/30-7/3 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-30/critics-theater-picks-for-630-73 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-30/Lucky Plush.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at: 2:45pm on 6/30/11 - Now with Jonathan Abarbanel!</em></p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-30/womenarecrazy.jpg" style="width: 232px; height: 300px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title="">Start the weekend right by listening to the Dueling Critics as Jonathan and I debate David Henry Hwang's <em>Chinglish</em>, the latest missile being guided from the Goodman to Broadway. Is the show more or less true to the Asian-American experience than the production of Hwang's <em>Yellow Face</em> now running at the culturally specific Silk Road Theatre Project? Can a pair of highly diverse Jewish theater critics (he's Sephardic and I'm Ashkenazi) accurately assess that kind of authenticity? Is "authenticity" even relevant anymore? Listen and decide whether <em>Chinglish </em>measures up to Chicago standards or whether it's only good enough for New York.<br> <br> We're on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight">848 </a>between 9 and 10 a.m. tomorrow (Friday), or you'll find the recorded segment posted shortly thereafter on the 848 page of this site. Catch us now or dig us later.<br> <br> This weekend only, another out-of-town tryout: live from L.A., the superbly-named <strong><a href="http://www.mercurytheaterchicago.com/"><em>Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes</em></a></strong>. I haven't seen it because it only opened its five-performance run last night; but if you're up for gender-role comedy check it out at 6 o'clock on Saturday, when tickets are only $19. At the Mercury on Southport in Lakeview.&nbsp;<br> <br> And finally, on Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. join a cast of 100 or so of the city's top actors, directors, playwrights and designers--and, for some reason, me--as we <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-29/daily-rehearsal-start-planning-your-4th-july-88498">read the <strong>Declaration of Independence</strong></a> from the stage of the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. That's right: no fireworks on the Third of July, just the reading with Grant Park Concert to follow. Think of it this way: no fireworks means no nightmare crowds means plenty of room for you to see and hear and remember what the whole thing's supposed to be about. Free.<br> <br> And a Glorious Fourth to all.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-30/Lucky Plush.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 267px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="Lucky Plush/500 Clown in 'The Better Half'">Catch two of Chicago’s funniest groups in a free preview tonight, Thursday. <a href="http://www.luckyplush.com/">Lucky Plush Productions</a> and members of <a href="http://www.500clown.com/">500 Clown</a> are putting their heads together to create <strong><em>The Better Half</em></strong>, a take-off on Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play <em>Gaslight</em>, produced on Broadway in 1941 (under the title <em>Angel Street</em>) and made into a film in 1944. Set in 1880, this melodrama involves a husband who schemes to convince his wife she’s mad—but Lucky Plush and 500 Clown are playing it anything but straight. A preview I saw in April had people on the floor. The finished product is scheduled to open at the MCA in October, but you can get a glimpse of the creative process at a one-night-only work-in-progress showing, <a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/performances/perf_detail.php?id=732">6 PM in the MCA theater</a>.</p><p>Lots of theater romanticizes old age. Not Bruce Graham’s <em>The Outgoing Tide</em>. Directed by BJ Jones and starring John Mahoney and Rondi Reed—funny and horrifying as a long-married couple—it has, not the ring of truth, but the clamorous cacophony of truth. <a href="http://www.northlight.org/pages/the_outgoing_tide/145.php">Extended through July 3 at Northlight Theatre</a>, it’s also a true pleasure. I’ll never forget (unless I fall into dementia) the guy shuffling out behind us when it ended, decked out in his WWII veteran’s cap, who called after us, “Hey, kids! Have a wonderful day!”&nbsp;</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-30/cirque.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 231px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title="">"Jungle Red!" The very words raise the hair on the necks of those who love bitch wit and revenge served cold (as it should be) and Upper Crust 1930's women's fashion. They are (1) the color of a lipstick and (2) a catch phrase from Clare Booth's quintessential 1936 comedy-of-manners, <a href="http://www.circle-theatre.org/shows/the-women.shtml"><b><i>The Women</i></b></a>, and it's onstage now at Circle Theatre in Oak Park. Given Circle's sense of production values, one may expect gorgeous gowns. The question is how they will treat the play itself, with its large, all-female cast. Will they serve it up as high camp, as has sometimes been the case? Or as an earnest period piece? Ironically, author Clare Booth was a powerful, independent career woman quite unlike the women of her play, who rely on the unseen men in their lives for validation. <i>The Women </i>runs at Circle Theatre through Aug. 14.</p><p>The cirques are back in town, both of them. <a href="http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/ovo/default.aspx"><b>Cirque du Soleil </b></a>has pitched its iconic blue-and-yellow air-conditioned tent next to the United Center with its latest lavishly costumed and scored opus, <i>Ovo</i>, a fanciful interpretation of insect life, playing through Aug. 21. Meanwhile, <a href="http://www.navypier.com/cirqueshanghai/"><strong>Cirque Shanghai</strong></a> is back for another summer-long run at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage, featuring the best highly physical acts from China's seemingly-endless supply of tumblers, jugglers, acrobats, aerialists and cyclists through Sept. 5. If Cirque Shanghai is less of a high-concept and unique environment, it counteracts that with truly family-friendly ticket prices. Best four-person family package at Cirque du Soleil is $150, while a four-person family can see Cirque Shanghai for as little as $65.</p></p> Thu, 30 Jun 2011 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-30/critics-theater-picks-for-630-73