Deeply Rooted Productions | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Deeply Rooted Productions 

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I can't think of a better match than singer Roberta Flack and Deeply Rooted Productions, the Chicago troupe Kevin Iega Jeff founded in 1995, two years after he left New York to head the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre, which promptly folded after a painful decline. Flack's soft yet generous contralto, smooth but a little burred and ragged, was perfect for such ballads as "Killing Me Softly" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," hits in the early 70s. In 1984, Jeff premiered his Flack, a suite of dances to little-known early songs like "Tryin' Times," "Ballad of the Sad Young Men," and "For All We Know." Like Flack's music, Jeff's choreography offers pop and soul in equal portions: buoyed by a strong and sometimes dark emotional undercurrent, it can look light and frothy. For the troupe's one-night-only company benefit, Flack sings onstage with a small combo. Also on the program is The Dance We Dance, divided into six sections choreographed by Jeff's fellow artistic director Gary Abbott, Krystal Hall Glass, the late Anthony Marshall, and Jeff himself, some of which have been seen in Chicago before: "Just . . . Miss Sadie" is a character sketch with an upbeat moral, while "Church of Nations" depicts a group of religious leaders constrained by their ascetic ideals and struggling under the burden of a great responsibility. Thursday, May 27, at 8 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress; $25-$60, or $150-$500 for the performance and a preshow reception. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 773-363-1080 for information and benefit tickets. --Laura Molzahn

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