Pride is the Prerogative in ‘Ms. Blakk For President’ at Steppenwolf Theatre

Ms. Blakk For President is a world premiere play performed at Steppenwolf Theatre, co-written and directed by Tina Landau and written by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The show is about Chicago’s very own LGBTQ activist Terence Alan Smith,  better known as the drag queen Joan Jett Blakk, who decided to run a political campaign with Act Up and Queer Nation to bring visibility to the Gay community in crisis during the 90s. It’s a pretty unknown story to someone, like me, who was born in the very late 1990s without context on figures who are often censored in our pop culture. Steppenwolf’s lobby dramaturgy does a great job with filling the atmosphere and historical context about the show. The dramaturgy display (Polly Hubbard) is filled with an engaging Chicago timeline that traces Joan Jett Blakk and the AIDS crisis from the 1970s to present today. There are also a few art installations and a memorial to Marsha P. Johnson. Continue reading “Pride is the Prerogative in ‘Ms. Blakk For President’ at Steppenwolf Theatre”

‘Volta’ is Cirque Du Soleil’s Mysterious and Exciting Adventure at Soldier Field

Volta is Cirque Du Soleil’s newest touring show that is based on the theme of embracing differences, social media isolation, and finding sparks of childhood magic.

Circuses have a long and exploited history, especially in America. Yet, Cirque is all the fun of the circus made sophisticated and without the guilt. It probably why it’s still one of the few lasting circus-like traveling shows. I have nostalgia towards the circus and big top events. I crave the spectacle and audience engagement that the circus provides, but not the elephant and horse animal abuse from touring circus’ like Barnum and Bailey or The Ringling Brothers. Not to mention, the added danger of performers working with hungry and wild animals, which resulted in the closing of many circus’ in the 1990s and 2000s. I wasn’t disappointed with Volta, because it’s more than just a “circus”. Cirque Du Soleil’s marketing of being beyond a “circus” has become a rising trend in spectacle performances. Continue reading “‘Volta’ is Cirque Du Soleil’s Mysterious and Exciting Adventure at Soldier Field”

Drury Lane’s Ambitious, Entertaining ‘Matilda’ Leans Toward the Chaotic

I love Matilda. Specifically the musical which I’ve seen twice on the West End, which is why I was so excited to review Drury Lane’s production directed by Mitch Sebastian. Part of my love comes from nostalgia as I grew up watching the 1996 movie and reading Roald Dahl’s classic novel. The other part of my admiration for Matilda comes from the fact that Roald Dahl wasn’t afraid to tackle tough issues in his books, and this musical doesn’t shy away from those issues either, unlike the 1996 movie. The show themes range from revenge, abuse, power hierarchies, loneliness, trauma, and the loss of adolescence. Continue reading “Drury Lane’s Ambitious, Entertaining ‘Matilda’ Leans Toward the Chaotic”

What Will ‘The Children’ Sacrifice for a Brighter Tomorrow?

The Children written by Lucy Kirkwood is making its Chicago premiere at Steppenwolf directed by ensemble member Jonathan Berry. The show is performed with a breathtaking set design (Chelsea M. Warren) that consists of a full scale house on the shore of an English cottage complete with sounds of seagulls and waves crashing on the shore (sound by Andre Pluess). This is where the entire show is set, and it juts out, making the audience feel small in comparison. This prominent house is where we meet three retired nuclear scientists who both share and keep secrets. Continue reading “What Will ‘The Children’ Sacrifice for a Brighter Tomorrow?”

‘Cambodian Rock Band’ Delivers Reality-Shattering Performances

Cambodian Rock Band written by Lauren Yee, is directed by Marti Lyons at Victory Gardens. The premise of the play is in the name, but the show encompasses so much more depth than the careers of a rock band. It’s about the trauma of genocide in Cambodia, family dynamics, and how one can repair themselves through music. Continue reading “‘Cambodian Rock Band’ Delivers Reality-Shattering Performances”

Goodman Theatre’s ‘Sweat’ Lays Bare the Passions of Working America

Sweat, written by Lynn Nottage, is a Pulitzer prize winner that focuses on race, debt in America, capitalism, and the working class. Director Ron OJ Parson’s production of Sweat at the Goodman is, at its core, about humanity, power, and the fight for survival. It’s about what will humanity do when they are pushed to the breaking point and worked like a dog. Sadly, the answer is not as black and white as it seems as Brucie states “you think they give a damn about you?”   Continue reading “Goodman Theatre’s ‘Sweat’ Lays Bare the Passions of Working America”

Heritage, History, and Comedy in ‘Remember The Alamo’

Remember the Alamo is a world premiere Neo-Lab original being performed at The Neo-Futurist Theatre. The show is created by Neo-Futurist ensemble member: Nick Hart and directed by Neo-Futurist Artistic director Kurt Chiang. This production promises its audience that they will help the actors fully recreate the Alamo battle. This show contains more than that, it also has themes of death, interesting facts about Phil Collins, and a narrative of what it’s like to be mixed-race in America through individual personal narratives. Continue reading “Heritage, History, and Comedy in ‘Remember The Alamo’”

Everyone Is Not Who They Seem in ‘On Clover Road’

On Clover Road is a Chicago premiere play written by Steven Dietz, performed at American Blues Theater and directed by Halena Kays. On Clover Road demands the audience to consider how far they would go to save those they love, and those terrible moments when you discover someone is not who they said they were. Dietz’s play show centers a woman who believes she will be reunited with her daughter, but she has become a member of a dangerous cult. The following twist and turns will leave you on the edge of your seat. Continue reading “Everyone Is Not Who They Seem in ‘On Clover Road’”

‘Evil Dead: The Musical’ is a Whirlwind of Camp and Horror

Evil Dead: The Musical written by George Reinblatt produced by Black Button Eyes at the Pride Arts center feels unlike many theatrical experiences I’ve had before. It’s directed by Black Button Eyes production’s leading director Ed Rutherford, who knows how to stage the supernatural. The patrons coming in were all buzzing full of energy, excited to be sitting in the splatter zone. Some were wearing safety glasses to protect themselves from fake blood while others had on all white, prepared to embrace the messiness of the show, as rock music blared through the speakers. Continue reading “‘Evil Dead: The Musical’ is a Whirlwind of Camp and Horror”