Bottoms up! The national tour of the hilarious, clever, and grin-inducing SOMETHING ROTTEN! has arrived at the Oriental Theatre in a first-rate production that’s worth celebrating. There’s absolutely nothing rotten about director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw’s fast-paced and beautifully performed staging. While SOMETHING ROTTEN! may be unsubtle in its humor and its desire to please musical theater lovers, that’s precisely why the show works. This is unapologetic, no-holds-barred entertainment. With Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick’s music and lyrics and a book by Karey and John O’Farrel, the storytelling is original and witty. Continue reading “Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN! National Tour at the Oriental Theatre”
Month: July 2017
“This music is magical. My writing is stilted.” So proclaims Erik Jensen as famed rock critic Lester Bangs in HOW TO BE A ROCK CRITIC, now playing as part of Steppenwolf’s Lookout Series. This thought has likely crossed the mind of all art critics out there (certainly it has crossed mine), and it embodies the spirit of this 80-minute solo play as it charts Bangs’s career. Jensen and co-playwright Jessica Blank (the pair are also married) give us a portrait of Bangs—who died of a drug overdose at age 33—that demonstrates the passion, creativity, and self-destructive nature that defined him. This solo play provides an overview of Bangs’s trajectory and allows audiences to learn about the rock music he loved, aided by David Robbins’s sound design.
Taylor Mac’s HIR, now in its Chicago premiere at Steppenwolf under the direction of Hallie Gordon, proves itself to be a complete whirlwind from the beginning. Collette Pollard’s strikingly realistic living room/kitchen set is in a tornado-like state when the curtain comes up at the top of the play, with heaps of clothes scattered around, a large tower of miscellaneous household appliances and craft supplies barring the front door, and a general lack of discernible counter and floor space anywhere. This state of disarray echoes the chaotic state of the dysfunctional family at the center of HIR: order has gone entirely by the wayside. Paige (Amy Morton, a commanding spitfire from the start) resides in this mess of a house with her transgender son Max (an earnest and likable Em Grosland) and her husband Arnold, who is deeply mentally incapacitated as a result of a severe stroke (Fran Guinan in a shocking and haunting performance). When Paige and Arnold’s eldest son Isaac (Ty Olwin) arrives home from war, he finds a home and family that he no longer recognizes.