WBEZ | vaudeville http://www.wbez.org/tags/vaudeville 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 Jazz pianist Reginald R. Robinson keeps a 'song in his soul' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-02/jazz-pianist-reginald-r-robinson-keeps-song-his-soul-93683 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-02/reginald robinson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Not every production boasts a certified MacArthur genius as an accompanist. But trust the Old Town School of Folk Music to know a musical talent when they see one.</p><p><a href="http://www.reginaldrrobinson.com/">Jazz pianist and composer Reginald R. Robinson</a>, 39, plays piano and contributes a few of his own neo-ragtime compositions to the school’s first excursion into theater, <a href="http://www.oldtownschool.org/"><em>Keep a Song in Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville</em>. </a>Opening tomorrow and running just through Sunday, the piece is set during the Great Migration, 1910-1930, and looks to be a hand-clapping, foot-stomping good time.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-02/reginald robinson.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 336px;" title=""></p><p>When Robinson got the $500,000 award, in 2004, he was flat broke and considering quitting the business. A Chicago native, he’d grown up too poor to afford music lessons. He dropped out of school at 15 to teach himself to play piano—a decision aided by his new neighborhood and high school in the Back of the Yards.</p><p>“I was sort of pushed,” Robinson says. “I could stay in school at that point and risk getting shot or jumped on. There was a lot of bad things happening in the school, in the area. And I was like, ‘Do I wanna continue to go through this? Or do I want to stay home?’” Sounds like a no-brainer, though quitting school isn’t usually the best way to pursue a career.</p><p>“My parents strongly objected to me leaving school,” says Robinson. “You know, they were typical caring parents: they did not want me to drop out. But I’d be getting to school late, and all kinds of stuff…. So I stayed home and mastered the music I wanted to play for the rest of my life.”</p><p>“I didn’t realize it would turn into anything like this. I just went along, doing the music, and one thing led to another.”</p><p>When Robinson went back to school to get his GED in 1992, some of the faculty noticed him writing down music in the hallway. One of them, musician Mac Olsen, invited Robinson to meet his piano teacher, who worked in a violin shop that hosted a jam session every Saturday. One day when Robinson was there, horn player Ira Sullivan came in.</p><p>“I couldn’t sit in with the other guys,” says Robinson, “cuz they were reading from charts. So I sat and listened, and after they finished, after about an hour and a half, I got up there and played some solo piano—‘Maple Leaf Rag’ and one of my own pieces, ‘Good Times Rag.’ And Ira Sullivan was like, wow. He said, ‘I know ‘Maple Leaf,’ but what’s that other piece? Is that Scott Joplin?’”</p><p>Sullivan introduced him to stride pianist Jon Weber, who paid for Robinson’s first demo and introduced him to Delmark’s Bob Koester. Robinson’s <em>The Strongman</em> came out in 1993; two other albums on Delmark followed. But sales weren’t great. The MacArthur grant enabled Robinson to self-produce <em>Man Out of Time</em> in 2007, made up of pieces he’d composed over the preceding decade; <em>Reflections</em> came out in 2010.</p><p>Asked whether the MacArthur award inspired him, Robinson says, “It confirmed what I knew, that my music was worth something. From that, receiving the award, things became easier. It’s like a magic carpet—it helps you go into places that you wouldn’t normally be able to go.”</p><p>Fortunately, being a bona fide genius hasn’t gone to his head.</p><p>The award, Robinson says, “is like the song, ‘Keep a Song in Your Soul.’ It’s about remembering where you come from. And it’s about the music. It wasn’t about the title. Nobody called me a genius before I got the award. I told myself I was a genius—in the privacy of my own room. ‘Hey, this is a good idea!’ I’d say it in a joking way. ‘This is perfect! Man, I like this!’”</p><p>“It was always about the music. Through it all, that’s what kept me going. Whether it’s good times or bad times, always writing music. My story before the MacArthur: it was music!”</p><p>Directed by Andrea J. Dymond, <em>Keep a Song in Your Soul</em> is a collaboration between Robinson, Grammy-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Chicago choreographer Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin, all of whom also perform.</p></p> Wed, 02 Nov 2011 13:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-02/jazz-pianist-reginald-r-robinson-keeps-song-his-soul-93683