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Theater & Performance Search – The Short List (Theater)

7 total results

The Big, the Trouble, and the Little China

Through 5/23: Thu-Sat 8 PM

New Millennium Theatre Company reimagines the 1980s film Big Trouble in Little China in Gold Rush-era San Francisco. $20

http://nmtchicago.org
Royal George Theatre Center (map)
1641 N. Halsted St.
Lincoln Park
phone 312-988-9000

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Side Man

Through 5/24: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2:30 PM; also Sat 5/16 and 5/23, 3 PM

If you spend enough time watching artists perform, you know how many exceptional talents live and die in obscurity. Gene is a great example. A jazz trumpeter's jazz trumpeter, he not only misses the breaks but actively resists them when necessary. Rather than follow the money to Las Vegas or LA as the rise of rock 'n' roll wrecks the market for his art in New York, he hangs on with his equally insouciant buddies, obsessively blowing little masterpieces fewer and fewer people hear. Meanwhile, his wife, Terry, self-medicates; his son, Cliff, seethes. Warren Leight's 1998 drama is an engrossing, quirky look at people who love something what can't love them back. It's compromised in Jonathan Berry's American Blues Theater staging, however, by unconvincing performances. Kate Buddeke, in particular, never summons the crazy energy that makes Terry so attractive at first and so scary down the road. On the other hand, Joe Foust shines darkly as a musician who gives everything for his own love, heroin. —Tony Adler $19-$49

Greenhouse Theater Center (map)
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-404-7336
Side Man

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Anna in the Afterlife

Through 5/24: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

Guardian critic Michael Billington famously once asked of playwright Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis, "How do you judge a 75-minute suicide note?" Something similar could said of writer Richard Engling's deeply personal reflection on a friend and collaborator who took her own life in 1988: How do you judge a suicidal fantasy? Playing a version of himself, Engling chooses between life or death in a purgatory-like void populated by visions of his deceased friends. Susan Padveen's production for Polarity Ensemble Theatre attaches equal value to each semiautobiographical detail—and there are many, enough for two novels in addition to this work, which taken together are supposed to form a trilogy. The end result is a perplexing piece, unquestionable in its sincerity, that left me very much on the outside. —Dan Jakes $25

http://petheatre.com
Greenhouse Theater Center (map)
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-404-7336
Anna in the Afterlife

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Louis and Keely "Live" at the Sahara

Through 5/31: Tue-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM

Half Vegas lounge act (circa 1958), half Behind the Music, this high-energy show—written by Jake Broder, Vanessa Claire Stewart (who also stars), and Taylor Hackford (who also directs)—electrifies as it recounts the rise and fall of middlebrow headliners Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Over the course of 90 minutes we see how the New Orleans-born jazzman and big-band leader reinvented himself after WWII, bringing the considerably younger Keely into the act (when they met she was 17, he 37), then marrying her and making them both into stars. There are plenty of A Star Is Born-style Hollywood cliches here—it's no surprise when Prima and Smith’s personal and professional lives hit the rocks (over and over)—but Anthony Crivello and Stewart sizzle as Prima and Smith, and the live band backing them is terrific. —Jack Helbig $64

Royal George Theatre Center (map)
1641 N. Halsted St.
Lincoln Park
phone 312-988-9000

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The Magic Cabaret

Open run: Wed 8 PM,
phone 773-404-7336
,

Once upon a time, Chicago was a magic town. You could buy tricks and apparatus at Marshall Field's and get a full-blown magic show with your dinner at Schulien's. The waiters there invented what became known as the Chicago style of magic. It was up-close and personal, not too grand, but still astonishing, and best of all, it made the audience part of the show. David Parr and Joe Diamond re-create this golden age in The Magic Cabaret, using homely objects like books and light bulbs and (naturally) playing cards to bring their stories of old-time magic to life. The result is by turns funny, surprising, and spooky. But here's the most amazing part: it really is fun for the whole family, not just the kids. —Aimee Levitt $20

http://magic-cabaret.com
Greenhouse Theater Center (map)
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-404-7336

Late Nite Catechism

Open run: Sat 5 PM, Sun 2 PM
phone 312-988-9000
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A bona fide born-in-Chicago international hit, this simultaneously nostalgic and satirical comedy by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan concerns a nun instructing her students—that's you—on the dos and don'ts of dogma. —Jack Helbig $30

Royal George Theatre Center (map)
1641 N. Halsted St.
Lincoln Park
phone 312-988-9000

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Million Dollar Quartet

Open run: Wed 2 and 7:30 PM, Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 8 PM, Sun 3:30 and 6:30 PM

Re-creating a legendary 1956 jam session involving Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, this crowd-pleaser is basically a vehicle for crackling renditions of classic tunes, including "Blue Suede Shoes," "That's All Right," and "Great Balls of Fire." The show's emotional center is Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, a man caught between competing personal and business pressures. —Albert Williams $25-$70

Apollo Theater (map)
2540 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-935-6100

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