Astrid Hadad | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Astrid Hadad 

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When Pat Buchanan rants about building a big fence along the Mexican border, it's people like Astrid Hadad he wants to keep out. In her cabaret concert Heavy Nopal, which means "Heavy Cactus," the Mexican Lebanese singer-actress offers a prickly, postmodern reworking of traditional folk ballad archetypes of women as sultry spitfires and martyred madonnas. Paying homage to the 1940s ranchera singer (and drug-OD victim) Lucha Reyes, Hadad puts her aching alto to emotionally evocative and stingingly sardonic use on such songs (performed in Spanish and interrupted with English commentary) as "Mala" ("Evil because you don't love me...Evil like censorship...like a photo on your driver's license...") and "Kill, for God Forgives" ("If you see the students demonstrating for peace / You should kill quickly...God forgives those who confess"). Outrageous in a satin Virgin of Guadalupe skirt and a dominatrix's bull's-eye bra, Hadad grounds her feminist satire in solid musicianship--her own powerful singing and the punchy playing of her backup band, Los Tarzanes (the name is a put-down applied to Mexican aristocrats who ape America's upper class by wearing tuxedos or "monkey suits"). Hadad's Chicago debut is presented by Performing Arts Chicago and the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum. Thursday, September 10, 8 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 242-6237 or 929-5959.

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