Three very different productions that recently opened on Chicago stages serve as a powerful reminder of the dramatically varied ways in which the language of dance can be spoken.
Hedy Weiss: Theater Reviews
Prepare to head home from “Djembe!” – the irresistibly engaging interactive music show now at the Apollo Theater – with callouses on the palms of your hands and a giant grin on your face.
Now receiving its Chicago debut, this full-length fairy tale production created for American Ballet Theatre is a frothy, visually lavish confection sure to generate either a light-headed sugar rush or a serious sugar coma.
“The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” is a wildly creative story about a familiar message brought to life by Chicago actor Joe Foust’s effortless storytelling skills, comic sensibility and emotional range.
Fearsome choreography, dazzling dancers and innovative sound and music marked the Chicago debut of Gauthier Dance in a stunning program at the Harris Theater.
This edgy new play by Sharyn Rothstein, making its world premiere at Northlight Theatre, deals with the most primal human needs – for shelter, security, a sense of self-worth and love.
And: Composer Alan Menken charms Auditorium audience
Alan Menken performs his delightful one-man show to a packed house in the Loop as his first hit musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,” receives a terrific production on the North Side.
Here is the looming question: How could three great talents (Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens and Terrence McNally) go so completely wrong with this Broadway musical “inspired by” the 1997 animated musical film?
In this electrifying revival directed by Seret Scott, Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking work has never been so sharply defined in terms of character, language and overall narrative drive.
For years now, Jackie Taylor has reminded Black Ensemble audiences that “going to the theater is like to going to church.” In her latest production, this sentiment takes on a decidedly literal meaning.
“Stomp!” based its show on the notion that you can make a joyful noise with everything from brooms to kitchen sinks. Mayumana builds on that concept with some great bolts of 21st century electrification.
This unapologetically old-fashioned coming-of-age story – with a creative team that includes Chazz Palminteri, Alan Menken, Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks – is a poignant and insightful look at the complex relationship between fathers (whether real or “surrogate”) and sons.
Lift a glass and make a toast to the musical and verbal talents of some Emerald Islanders who have arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan for brief stays.
This is one of those productions that makes you wish the show’s composer and writer would make a quick trip to Chicago to see their work in what might just be its ideal incarnation.
From the performers’ dazzling technical skill and emotional conviction to the sophistication and complexity of each choreographer’s work, this program of four world premiere works was remarkable on many levels.