Jump Rhythm Jazz Project | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jump Rhythm Jazz Project 

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Billy Siegenfeld's new pomo musical-theater work about war may sound odd, and it is. But it definitely meets his goal for Jump Rhythm Jazz Project's 15th season: to test the limits of jazz dance, showing that it's not just presentational and sexual but can communicate a whole range of emotions. In The News From Poems he sets himself a difficult, maybe impossible task: to make a connection between OutKast's "B.O.B." (it stands for "bombs over Baghdad") and Rodgers and Hart's wistful, affectionate "Manhattan." But there's something about the schism between these two songs that captures our current cultural schizophrenia, as reports of casualties in Iraq compete with reports on the latest reality shows. How do we reconcile the terrible reality of waging a cruel war based on lies with the everyday reality of falling in love? Siegenfeld starts from a premise of fundamental human innocence and tries to end on this note as well. He uses the metaphor of a runaway train to suggest how we got where we are, explicitly in a section accompanied by the sounds of an accelerating engine and implicitly in the lyrics to Cole Porter's "It Was Just One of Those Things," a deceptively lighthearted song about the tragic consequences of unconsidered actions. This program also includes Bye Bye Blackbird by associate artistic director Jeannie Hill and an expanded version of her Play Dirty, Siegenfeld's revised Sorrows of Unison Dancing and his Getting There, You Make Me Feel So Young, and "Too Close for Comfort," an excerpt from his Released in Their Own Custody. Opens Thu 6/9, 8 PM. Through 6/11: Fri-Sat 8 PM. Northeastern Illinois University, auditorium, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr, 773-442-4636, $12.50-$25.

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