Rollin' With Stevens and Stewart | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Rollin' With Stevens and Stewart 

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Last spring Rollin' With Stevens and Stewart--a classic vaudeville revue by a classic (and contemporary) vaudeville team, Ron "Smokey" Stevens and Jaye Stewart--was on a roll at the Amethyst. Then the bar lost its license and a hot show suddenly lost steam. Undaunted and determined that they wouldn't be the ones who killed vaudeville, Stevens and Stewart moved the fun to CrossCurrents--where it deserves a long fat run. A tribute to the black vaudevillians who rode the circuit in the Jim Crow 20s, Rollin' remains a labor of love packed with slaphappy comedy routines created by the likes of Moms Mabley and Pigmeat Markham (where Stewart hits each punch line with rubber-faced gusto) and vintage, surefire showstoppers (where Stevens, who in Victory Gardens' Shoot Me While I'm Happy! showed he can do this in his sleep, seamlessly slinks through Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's streamlined strut or a sensuous "Hop Scop Blues"). Balancing the bravura acts are poignant excerpts from fiction by Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks. It's 70 minutes of unqualified happiness. At CrossCurrents, open run. Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 7:30 and 9:30 PM. $10.

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