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Performing Arts Next 30 Days – Recommended

63 total results

The Nexus Project

Wed 4/16, 6 PM

Male duo the Nexus Project is back with their first collaboration since an inaugural program last November. Staged in a gallery, Michel Rodriguez Cintra and Benjamin Holliday Wardell's new dance takes its cue from the playful group exhibit that surrounds them, but where "Quasi-Choreography" features visual art transformed by the intervention of other artists, the Nexus Project draws on the audience. After starting with a ten-minute duet set to vocals by a folksy choir, the dancers check in with attendees to see how they'd like the dance to evolve, then incorporate suggestions into their choreography while everyone else takes a snack recess—food and beverages are provided. After the break, the process is repeated, so participants have two opportunities to observe the results of their participation. Continue reading >> $25

Chicago Artists Coalition (map)
217 N. Carpenter St.
West Loop/Fulton Market
phone 312-491-8887
The Nexus Project

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Follow the Reader

Thu 4/17, 11 PM
,

In Follow the Reader, Chicago Dance Crash director and dancer Daniel Gibson will call the shots according to rules loosely based on the KTF (Keeper of the Floor) dance competitions that have made the crew popular. But Gibson won't be choreographing the spots. Instead, they'll be composed live by the dancers, who for 50 minutes will improvise and freestyle to tracks lifted from the B Side of this very paper. Audience members should be able to follow along, since dancers will signal when to turn a page and help make the stories recognizable by latching on to as many details as possible. The troupe may feel driven to do ironic takes on features like Savage Love, I Saw You, and the Straight Dope. But I say, go for it! Take it a step further and parody reviews, whether they be of books or beer, movies or restaurants. Heck, even this preview is fair game! I offer it up to this stupendous exploit. —Jena Cutie $5

http://chicagodancecrash.com

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Cicada

4/17-5/25: Thu-Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 7 PM, Sun 4:30 PM

Set in rural Mississippi, Jerre Dye's lyrical drama unfolds in a ramshackle house where a sweet teenager named Ace lives with his mother, Lily, who's losing her mind. There are also the ghosts of several female relatives rattling around; sometimes they act as a chorus, other times as Lily's tormentors. Haunted southerners given to waxing poetic aren't exactly an untapped vein in theater, but Dye supplies piquant dialogue and a tragic sense of how the past can squeeze out the present. Both the quick and the dead are sensitively played by the fine cast of this Route 66 Theatre Company staging, which benefits from dreamlike atmospherics and a set (designed by Brian Sidney Bembridge) that feels at once claustrophobic and on the verge of collapse. —Zac Thompson $35, $20 for students

http://route66theatre.org
Greenhouse Theater Center (map)
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-404-7336

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Late Night at Garage Rep

Through 4/17: Thu 11 PM

Steppenwolf Theatre is going back to its own late-night roots for a new series, "Late Night at Garage Rep." Following each of Garage Rep's Thursday-night performances from March 6 to April 17, Late Night will feature performances from up-and-coming Chicago artists. No two weeks will be the same; the lineup promises music, poetry, and some strong words for James Franco. Continue reading >> $5

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Todd Barry

Fri 4/18, 8 PM

This Chicago date is one in a run that's being promoted as Todd Barry's "Final Crowd Work Tour." And for the veteran stand-up, successful "crowd work" requires a couple of key elements. One, a mike and his brain full of gloop—no prepared material, no jokes come onstage. Two, audience members in the first couple rows with whom he can shoot the breeze and banter. Of those, at least one should be a musician with a clever haircut, one should be a software engineer or, ahem, "gamer," and one should be clad in a dumb and/or ironic T-shirt (worn specifically to impress the guest of honor). Continue reading >> $20

Lincoln Hall (map)
2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-525-2501
Todd Barry

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Mud Blue Sky

4/18-5/25: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

There was a time when air travel was considered glamorous, but then, there was a time when baseball fans wore suits and hats to Wrigley Field (the past truly is a foreign country). The three veteran flight attendants at the center of Marisa Wegrzyn's Mud Blue Sky, now onstage at A Red Orchid Theatre, bear little resemblance to the Pan Am stewardesses of the old days, with their fashionable uniforms and youthful air of freedom and adventure. Wegrzyn's characters are lower-middle-class grunts at the mercy of cash-strapped airlines and rude passengers who leave unspeakable messes in the lavatory. Whereas the job may have once provided fresh opportunities for women—as long as they fit a certain mold—this play's trio seem convinced they're headed nowhere. Continue reading >> $25-$30

http://aredorchidtheatre.org
A Red Orchid Theatre (map)
1531 N. Wells St.
Old Town
phone 312-943-8722

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You & Me

4/18-8/1: Every other Friday, 10:30 PM

Michael Patrick Thornton has a talent for lowering the mundane into the bleak, morbid, and unsavory. On the night I attended his two-person improv show, he and guest Susan Messing declined to solicit audience suggestions. Lord knows they didn't need help dredging up lumps of human spirit as sorry as they come: a pair of former high school buddies dolefully recognizing that they're probably gay or might as well be; a stroke patient (Messing's facial contortions were something to marvel at) who implores her doctor to shoot her in the face on Christmas. Thornton's red-rimmed eyes and halting Russian accent were so convincing I wanted to weep with him instead of laugh—almost. He picks a new guest every other week, on off-weeks sharing this slot with the rest of the Natural Gas improv crew. —Jena Cutie $5

Den Theatre (map)
1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Wicker Park/Bucktown
phone 773-609-2336

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Brian Babylon

Fri 4/18-Sat 4/19: 8 and 10 PM

Babylon, who has the "ability to riff on just about anything" was one of our comedians to watch in 2012. $15

The Comedy Bar (map)
157 W. Ontario
River North
phone 773-387-8412
Brian Babylon

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God's Work

4/4-4/19: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri-Sat 8 PM; also Sun 4/13, 2 PM and Wed 4/16, 7:30 PM

High school students involved with the Albany Park Theater Project worked with professional directors and designers to devise this powerful performance about a horrific case of child abuse, based on the actual experiences of a former ensemble member (an earlier version was produced in 2006). The teens play a Duggar-size brood who are kept in a cold, single-bulb basement by their Bible-thumping father; he lets them out only to administer sadistic punishments, represented by paint smeared on their arms, legs, and faces. The atmosphere is oppressive and otherworldly, thanks to Izumi Inaba's prisonlike costumes, Stephanie Paul and Maggie Popadiak's ritualistic choreography, and Mikhail Fiksel's eerie sound design. Combined with the fear and emotional deprivation conveyed by the cast, the results are haunting and heartbreaking. —Zac Thompson $10-$25

Goodman Theatre (map)
170 N. Dearborn St.
Loop
phone 312-443-3800

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Garage Rep

Through 4/20: Wed-Sun, times vary

When Martha Lavey became Steppenwolf Theatre's artistic director almost two decades ago, she invited me to lunch to pick my brains about the fringe theater scene. With so many resources at her disposal, she explained, she felt a duty to share the wealth with the smaller itinerant companies in town. I knew her good intentions were genuine (we spent time together in graduate school, and I'd seen firsthand her commitment to experimental work), but I doubted the demands of an oversize, heavily mortgaged, subscriber-dependent institution would leave her much room for noblesse oblige. Thankfully, I was wrong. It didn't take long before groups like Redmoon, Curious Theatre Branch, and 500 Clown started showing up on the Steppenwolf stage—albeit sometimes performing on whatever set Steppenwolf had up for its own production. And in 1996, when Cheryl Trykv, one of the under-the-radar stars of the perpetually under-the-radar performance scene, faced insurmountable bills for cancer treatment, Steppenwolf turned over its compound for a huge fund-raising performance featuring the likes of Ira Glass and Liz Phair. Continue reading >> $20, $45 three-play pass

Steppenwolf Theatre (map)
1650 N. Halsted St.
Old Town
phone 312-335-1650
Garage Rep

Demetri Martin

Thu 4/24, 7 and 10 PM

Martin's observational comedy is mostly candid and considerate—he's not one to pack jokes with tension in order to hammer home a punch line. Instead he accompanies himself on acoustic guitar for a portion of his act, strumming along in a comfortable key as he muses on the allure of fog machines and why telemarketers can't ever call in sick ("Hey, it's me, I can't work today" / "Well, you called me"). —Kevin Warwick, 2013 $35

Lincoln Hall (map)
2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-525-2501
Demetri Martin

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Raw

4/4-4/26: Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 8 PM

The Deluge Theatre Collective, a youthful new ensemble, makes an impressive debut with this Chicago premiere of a one-act drama by British playwright Chris O'Connell. First produced in 2001 by O'Connell's own troupe, the Theatre Absolute, in Coventry, England, Raw lives up to its title as it depicts a crisis among a gang of young criminals led by a "geezer bird"—a tough woman as macho as any man, who brutalizes her friends as readily as she does her victims. Under Tara Branham's direction, Raw is packed with graphic, volatile violence made all the more intense by the intimacy of the Edgewater storefront where the show is presented. But for all the savagery onstage, this is a carefully crafted and inventive production, from its gutsy, honest performances to its graffiti-scrawled set, naked-bulb lighting, and ingenious use of limited space. Deluge is a company to watch. —Albert Williams $20

http://.delugetheatrecollective.org
The Frontier (map)
1106 W. Thorndale
Edgewater Raw

Lysistrata

4/10-4/27: Thu-Sun 8 PM

This latest entry in (Re)Discover theatre's season-long exploration of sex and gender roles stays true to its ancient Greek origins: it's rude, crude, and hilarious. Lysistrata, who has had enough of the Peloponnesian War, organizes the women of Greece to withhold their sexual favors until the men make peace. (For good measure, they hold the Athenian treasury in the Acropolis hostage too.) Miriam Reuter's fiery Lysistrata totally stomps Bobby Arnold's sexist Magistrate into submission, but the twist is, in alternating performances, the two actors will swap roles. The gender-bending cast appears to be having a terrific time, particularly Erika Haaland as Lysistrata's winebag friend Calonice and Andrew Lund as Myrrhine, a daffy 50s housewife turned sexual revolutionary. The audience gets to join in as well: decide whether you want to see the play as a man or a woman, then cast and crew will treat you to a lovely array of gender stereotypes. —Aimee Levitt $15-$20

http://rediscovertheatre.com/
Flat Iron Arts Building (map)
1579 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Wicker Park/Bucktown
phone 312-335-3000

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The Jewels

Through 4/27: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2 PM

The source material for this TUTA Theatre production is a brief, admirably efficient short story by Guy de Maupassant, about a Parisian bureaucrat who knows when he's got it good but has no idea why. Rene meets champagne-effervescent Emily at a party where the other male guests literally dance attendance on her. Quiet as he is, he summons up the nerve to woo her and ends up married to her. Rapturously so. Emily is loving, lovely, lively, and such an accomplished money manager that her husband's paychecks seem to stretch on and on. Of course there's something wrong. But complacent Rene doesn't ask questions—doesn't even think to formulate them—until the answers are too clear to ignore. The tale offers a wonderfully ambiguous gloss on the notion that ignorance is bliss, and adapter-director Kirk Anderson does a mostly masterful job of filling it out for the stage (although a poetic interpolation involving a girl and a bird falls flat). Anderson's stylized staging is swift and clear, and his leads—Layne Manzer as Rene, Carolyn Molloy as Emily—are so sweetly matched it's tragic. —Tony Adler $15

http://tutato.com
Storefront Theater (map)
Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph St.
Loop
phone 312-742-8497
The Jewels

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Lyle Finds His Mother

3/22-4/27: Sat-Sun noon, no performance 4/20

At the start of this delightful musical adaptation of Bernard Waber's beloved 1974 book, Lyle the crocodile, a retired vaudevillian who can still turn cartwheels and dance a mean soft shoe, lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his best friend, Joshua, and the exceedingly happy Mr. and Mrs. Primm. Lyle teaches Joshua crocodile language, and Josh challenges Lyle to a kazoo battle. All is well until the sneaky has-been Hector P. Valenti, onetime "star of stage and screen," lures Lyle back into show business. Valenti's schemings eventually lead Lyle to his crocodile mother, and one of the many highlights here is an adorable acrobatic mother-son reunion song and dance. Lifeline knows how to please kids and grown-ups with multileveled humor, and this show celebrates springtime, mothers, and (not least of all) idiosyncrasy. —Suzanne Scanlon $15

Lifeline Theatre (map)
6912 N. Glenwood Ave.
Rogers Park/West Rogers Park
phone 773-761-4477

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