A behind-the-scenes look at aerial dancing; part of Chicago Dance Month.
Playwright Melissa Ross has a gift for creating vivid, believable characters. So do the folks at the Gift Theatre, as evidence by this riveting production, packed with pitch-perfect performances. For two solid hours we watch an unhappy trio of selfish, emotionally stunted adult siblings bicker, bite, and slowly fall apart as their despised father slowly dies of cancer. It's not an easy play to watch—especially on a beautiful spring day—but Ross captures well the downward spiral of three characters who hate themselves almost as much as they despise each other. John Gawlik's direction is inspired, and his ensemble, led by Brittany Burch, Lynda Newton, and Michael Patrick Thornton, astonishes with one virtuoso display after another. —Jack Helbig $20-$35
Comics are not always funny—but in those cases, they can be claimed as high art, like The Walking Dead or Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Comics—the other kind—aren't always funny either. They either curl up like dead spiders and disappear beneath a dresser forever, or they soldier on to another open mike. That quick homonym demonstration aside, here's the deal with a new stand-up comedy show happening at Challengers Comics + Conversation on the last Thursday of every month. Action Comedy is a nod to Action Comics, the series in which Superman first appeared, published by what would become DC Comics. The show's produced by a five-boy team of Kevin Brody, Mitch Kurka, Ian Abramson, Jeff Scheen, and Zach Peterson, and joins an already pretty stellar line-up of live programming at the shop. Continue reading >>
Francis O'Neill, who served as Chicago's chief of police from 1901 to 1905, was a bit obsessed with the music of his native Ireland. He once disappeared, prompting assassination rumors and a police manhunt, only to turn up at the house of a friend—where he was busy playing duets. But in the latest version of Adam Whiteman's musical tribute, which Stefan Brun returns to direct, this fascinating character gets a lackluster dramatization. Though Tom Cassidy portrays O'Neill with genial confidence, the stilted script bends more toward hagiography than genuine storytelling. The show's stellar music—selected from O'Neill's own published collections of traditional Irish tunes, and played by a talented trio—remains the true star of this quirky jaunt. —Keith Griffith $25
The quality of an improv show is directly proportional to the quality of the improvisers who create it. Put together a group of kids who know nothing about the world—or themselves—and you get a lot of cliches and imitations of bad TV. Put together an ensemble of strong, experienced actors who happen also to like to improvise and you have the optimal conditions for a piece filled with well-articulated characters in amusing relationships and interesting situations. That latter was the case with Natural Gas, the Gift Theatre's house improv team, on the night I saw them. As in every improvisation, not every moment worked, and some actors made basic mistakes, like introducing inconsistencies. All the same, their show contained more than the usual moments of spontaneous delight—and occasional splashes of pure inspiration. —Jack Helbig $5
A comedy variety show hosted Flabby Hoffman.
Rebecca O'Neil hosts this BYOB comedy show that features local stand-ups and is, curiously enough, operated out of a used book store.
Burlesque, vaudeville, shtick, and other types of performance, hosted by Silent Theatre. $10http://silenttheatre.com