WBEZ | Merrily We Roll Along http://www.wbez.org/tags/merrily-we-roll-along Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Working for the Weekend: Critics picks for 5/13-5/15 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-12/working-weekend-critics-picks-513-515-86470 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-12/Derick Grant_Laura Domnar Photography_med.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-13/viaduct_theater_war_and_peace.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 618px; " title=""></p><p><a href="http://www.viaducttheatre.com/cms/"><strong><em>War and Peace</em></strong></a> in an hour?&nbsp; It sounds like a joke, but it's the real deal: a group of Chicago dance and theater artists (including folks from Redmoon and Collaboraction) will offer their own speed-of-light interpretation of Tolstoy's famously long masterwork. (Cynics should recall that Writers' Theatre's 90-minute version of <em>Crime and Punishment</em> omitted nothing that mattered and included nothing that didn't--a masterwork, itself.) I'm seeing <em>War and Peace</em> tonight, so I can't tell you if the effort is successful, but the very concept is so brilliant that anyone who cares about Russian literature (or dance or theater, for that matter) should plan to see it.</p><p>It's a short run--only til next Sunday (May 22), and only Thursday-Sunday, so hop to it. At one of the best spaces in town, the Viaduct, under the highway at Belmont and Western; tickets $10-$15.&nbsp;</p><p>And speaking of hopping to it: tomorrow night (Friday, May 13) is the final performance of Sondheim's <a href="http://www.themusictheatrecompany.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=25&amp;Itemid=12"><strong><em>Merrily We Roll Along</em></strong></a> up at The Music Theatre Company in Highland Park. This show <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-07/working-weekend-critics-picks-84873">was exciting in prospect</a>, because it's one of Sondheim's most sophisticated works; but it turns out it was even more exciting in execution, with just the right light touch on a serious vein. This company seems to have appeared from nowhere, but like Athena springing from the head of Zeus it has arrived fully armed and ready for anything.&nbsp; $30, and worth every penny.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-13/Derick Grant_Laura Domnar Photography_med.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 904px; " title=""></p><p>Tap dancers, who are all about lineage, pass down the physical equivalents of oral history, honoring their elders and nurturing their students and always acknowledging their connections. In the family show <strong><em><a href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/calendar/performance?id=3114&amp;mos=7">Once Upon a Tap</a></em></strong>, Derick K. Grant—who starred in Broadway’s Tony-winning <em>Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk</em>—ramps up that tradition by performing with his kids, Lulu and Kaleo, who reportedly received their first tap shoes on the days they were born. Lulu is 11 and Kaleo turns 13 on the day of this world premiere, <a href="http://tickets.harristheaterchicago.org/tickets/reserve.aspx?performanceNumber=3114">Sunday only at the Harris and just $10</a>. A bedtime story about teamwork and gnomes, it reportedly takes viewers to a magical land where an evil conductor, the “Maestro,” threatens to destroy the rhythm and funk. Writer Shane Rutkowski narrates the performance, and the supporting ensemble of seven dancers includes hip-hip acrobat/contortionist Tylon and 15-year-old tapper Demi Remick.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-12/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-512-86451"><strong>Desmin Borges</strong></a> blew everyone away as the narrator/hero of Kristofer Diaz's <em>The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety</em>, first in the Chicago co-production by Teatro Vista and Victory Gardens, and then in the Off-Broadway transfer. Now Borges is returning to Chicago and Teatro Vista where he takes the lead in Jennifer Barclay's <a href="https://www.theaterwit.org/boxoffice/index.php"><em>Freedom, NY</em></a>, which plays through June 12 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-12/TheatreSymposium2011.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 102px; " title=""></p><p>True theater mavens should be flocking next week (Wed.-Sat., May 18-21) to the confines of Columbia College for its years-in-the-making massive symposium titled "<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-09/symposium-discuses-future-chicago-theater-86254"><strong>Chicago: Theatre Capital of America--Past, Present and Future</strong></a>." Over 70 sessions with 180 speakers (from across the country) are on the schedule, which should cover everything from our five Tony Award winning companies to gay theater to theater critics. $95 for everything ($60/students). Full disclosure: Kelly Kleiman and I are leading one symposium program, Critiquing the Critics, May 21 at 12:30PM.</p></p> Thu, 12 May 2011 20:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-12/working-weekend-critics-picks-513-515-86470 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater 4/21 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-21/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-421-85493 <p><p>1. Alan Cumming is <a href="http://chitheatreaddict.com/2011/04/15/tony-award-winner-alan-cumming-brings-his-blue-car-to-harris-theater/">coming to Chicago</a> (how many times has that pun been made?)! He'll be performing his one man cabaret show <em>I Bought a Blue Car Today</em> <a href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/calendar/performance?id=2770&amp;mos=7">on May 28th</a>. Yes, that's a long time from now, but he's a big deal, so get on it. Cumming was actually in the Broadway production of <em>Cabaret </em>in 1994, and his television show <em>The Good Wife</em> is set in Chicago (though disappointingly&nbsp;not filmed here) so this seems like a natural melding of the two.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="0" src="http://c.gigcount.com/wildfire/IMP/CXNID=2000002.0NXC/bT*xJmx*PTEzMDM*MDA1Mzc4NzYmcHQ9MTMwMzQwMDU*MTg4OCZwPTEyNTg*MTEmZD1BQkNOZXdzX1NGUF9Mb2NrZV9FbWJlZCZn/PTImbz1iMzJlMTgxODBkOGU*OTQ*YTY1YTZiNTg5NzAzYmFiNyZvZj*w.gif" style="visibility: hidden; width: 0px; height: 0px;" width="0"><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,124,0" height="278" id="ABCESNWID" width="344"><param name="movie" value="http://abcnews.go.com/assets/player/walt2.6/flash/SFP_Walt_2_65.swf"><param name="quality" value="high"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><param name="allowNetworking" value="all"><param name="flashvars" value="configUrl=http://abcnews.go.com/video/sfp/embedPlayerConfig&amp;configId=406732&amp;clipId=8891789&amp;showId=8891789&amp;gig_lt=1303400537876&amp;gig_pt=1303400541888&amp;gig_g=2"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allownetworking="all" allowscriptaccess="always" flashvars="configUrl=http://abcnews.go.com/video/sfp/embedPlayerConfig&amp;configId=406732&amp;clipId=8891789&amp;showId=8891789&amp;gig_lt=1303400537876&amp;gig_pt=1303400541888&amp;gig_g=2" height="278" name="ABCESNWID" pluginspage="http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" quality="high" src="http://abcnews.go.com/assets/player/walt2.6/flash/SFP_Walt_2_65.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="344"></object></p><p>2.&nbsp;<em>Merrily We Roll Along</em> is getting consistently consistent reviews; Onstage/Backstage's own Kelly Kleiman <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-07/working-weekend-critics-picks-84873">was looking forward to it</a> a few weeks ago, the Hedy Weiss of the <em>Sun-Times</em> <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/stage/4872653-421/merrily-we-roll-along-a-worthwhile-time.html">calls it</a> "a worthwhile time", and Chris Jones of the <em>Tribune</em> <a href="http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/the_theater_loop/2011/04/merrily-youthful-creativity-invigorates-sondheim-production.html">says </a>"The vibe is young and fresh." So it's not blowing anyone out of the water, but it is plodding comfortably with a warm glow about it.</p><p>3. Another Sondheim classic, <a href="http://www.circle-theatre.org/shows/little-night-music.shtml"><em>A Little Night Music</em></a> is set to open in previews tomorrow night at the Circle Theatre, which has had a particularly exciting season - they've done everything from <em>Kiss Me, Kate</em> to <em>The Wedding Singer</em>, and after <em>A Little Night Music</em> will have <em>The Women</em>, and <em>Urinetown </em>later in the year. A word to the wise: Don't brush up on the plot of <em>The Women</em> by seeing the movie. Meg Ryan's face isn't the same since <em>When Harry Met Sally</em>, Annette Bening doesn't save it, and I'm pretty sure we all hate change.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-21/King_and_I.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 288px;" title=""></p><p>4. <a href="http://www.stage773.org/showDetail.aspx?uniqshow=46"><em>The King and I</em></a> opens at Stage 773 tomorrow night as presented by Porchlight Music Theatre. So it's not Sondheim, but Rogers and Hammerstein will probably do the trick.&nbsp;</p><p>5. Blink and you missed it (until next month): <a href="http://ww.belmontburlesque.com/home.">The Belmont Burlesque Revue</a> is sold out this Saturday. Why so popular? After May 28th, they'll be retiring their monthly open run of shows at the Playground Theater. In a note from the director and founding member of the troupe, Paris Green emphasized that they are "*not* breaking up, closing down or otherwise ending our time together as a troupe - we're simply moving on to other burlesque projects as a group."</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 14:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-21/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-421-85493 Working for the Weekend: Critics picks http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-07/working-weekend-critics-picks-84873 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-07/Allison Torem and ensemble member Jon Michael Hill.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Let's try something new, shall we? Onstage/Backstage will give you our picks for weekend performances. Look for this new weekly feature every Thursday. Below are picks from all three of our writers (Kleiman, Molzahn and Abarbanel).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-07/Allison Torem and ensemble member Jon Michael Hill.jpg" title="" width="450" height="300"></p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p>Tonight I'm going to see Stephen Sondheim's "<strong>Merrily We Roll Along</strong>" up in Highland Park. I know nothing about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.themusictheatrecompany.org/">The Music Theatre Company</a>, the group doing it, but "Merrily" is one of those musicals that keeps ripening, and every re-viewing of it presents a different side. The music is excellent even for those of us who don't think every dissonant note Sondheim has ever written is an act of genius; the romance is heartbreaking; and the told-in-reverse-chronological-order structure continues to intrigue. At the Karchar Center on Green Bay Road in Highland Park, through May 1.</p><p>Closer to home (for city dwellers, at least) is Steppenwolf's remount of Lanford Wilson's 1973 play "<strong><a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=506">Hot L Baltimore</a></strong>", about the inhabitants of a soon-to-be demolished flophouse. Sort of a reverse "Grand Hotel," where people don't come and go and yet everything happens, the play manages to be of epic proportions and yet offer masterly miniature portraits of the individuals who live, work or simply wait in the hotel's lobby. Tina Landau's production isn't quite as focused as I'd like--the sweep often overwhelms the gem-like smaller moments--but when nearly every member of the cast is perfect that's to a director's credit. That's the case here, with particular kudos to Alana Arenas as a con-woman desperate to rescue her disabled brother and Jacqueline Williams as a mother desperate to rescue her alcoholic son.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p><a href="http://www.elementscontemporaryballet.com/events.html#2" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">Ballet on the cheap</a>: And it’s good stuff. Get in on the ground floor with six-year-old&nbsp;<strong>Elements Contemporary Ballet</strong>, specializing in highly musical neoclassical dance in the George Balanchine line. It’s abstract, yes, but never without feeling in the hands of artistic director Mike Gosney. I can’t say the dancers are Joffrey-caliber, but they’re strong, flexible, and expressive in Gosney’s demanding choreography. All four pieces on the program are his. One night only, Saturday, at the Athenaeum Theatre; just $20-$25.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-07/BuntingHrsInMotion.jpg" title="" width="500" height="547"></p><p>Ever feel you’ve been self-helped to death? Atalee Judy of BONEdanse, formerly Breakbone DanceCo., channels vintage self-help records (yes, records) and instruction manuals in a text-heavy piece called “<strong>This Is a Damage Manual</strong>,” part of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/164914" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">Chicago Moving Company’s Dance Shelter program tonight and tomorrow night only</a>. Other artists: mercurial choreographer/dancer Ayako Kato, impish Rachel Bunting, legendary dancer Bob Eisen, Barry Bennett’s Impending Behavior Orchestra, and “world-man” band Stone.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p>Next week (April 12 to be precise) marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War (1861-1865), a seminal clash from which we still feel repercussions. City Lit Theatre Company in Edgewater will mark the span of the war by producing one Civil War drama each year through 2015. They begin with "The Copperhead," set during the Civil War, and 40 years later, how the conflict affected the lives of one Illinois family. The play was written in 1918 by Augustus Thomas, a major playwright of the day, now forgotten. Let's hope City Lit is discovering long-lost gold. "<a href="http://www.citylit.org/Now-Playing.htm" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;"><strong>The Copperhead</strong></a>" runs April 8-May 15.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/HbtkMDUXAJk" title="YouTube video player" width="560" frameborder="0" height="349"></iframe></p><p>Also, this is your last weekend to squeeze into the backroom at Books-on-Vernon in Glencoe (if you can get a ticket) and see one of the most sparkling comedy events brought forth by any Chicago theater in years, "<a href="http://www.writerstheatre.org/boxoffice/production?id=0078"><strong>Travels with My Aunt</strong></a>," adapted from Graham Greene's witty and sardonic novel and presented by Writers' Theatre. All the characters are played by four men whose dazzling timing couldn't be better. At various times, each of them plays the Aunt.</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 07 Apr 2011 15:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-07/working-weekend-critics-picks-84873