Still Dance the Stars and two more new stage shows for the long weekend | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Still Dance the Stars and two more new stage shows for the long weekend 

Personal stories become fodder for improv scenes in this week's best bet. Plus: death by thee and thou

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Still Dance the Stars, at Chicago Dramatists

Still Dance the Stars, at Chicago Dramatists

Tom McGrath

Still Dance the Stars There's one thoroughly decent moment in Jayme McGhan's play, getting its world premiere now in a coproduction by Chicago Dramatists and the New Light Theater Project. That's when Anne, a dance teacher and bereaved mother, performs a pas de deux with Hope, the embodied spirit of her stillborn baby. It works because it's plain, clear, organic in the sense that dance is Anne's natural mode of expression, and because Bethany Geraghty's Anne and Ariana Sepúlveda put Ashlee Wassmund's choreography over with such easy grace. The rest of the 90-minute show, however, is an awful mess, largely because McGhan piles conceit after coy conceit atop the essentially simple story of a couple unable to cope with their mourning. There's the one piece of business about a viral video, the other about a heartless TV reporter, the third about stuffed animals come to life, the fourth about quirky relatives—all of them simultaneously overwritten and vague, none able to mask the fact that McGhan has nothing unique to say about his core subject. —Tony Adler

[Recommended] Told Before you accuse iO of shameless audience grabbing by including special guest Rick Bayless in this weekly improv experiment, consider Told's modus operandi: invite people with interesting experiences (so far a wigged-out psychic's client, a cannabis dispensary employee, and a failed SNL auditioner, among others) to tell a team of improvisers a personal story, which becomes fodder for scenes invented on the spot. It's not a novel approach (Under the Gun did a nearly identical show recently), but it's an astute way to circumvent the improv world's occasional penchant for navel-gazing. And Bayless exuded improbable charm recounting a condescending tale of surviving Taco Bell. Given the level of craft, ingenuity, and chutzpah in the rotating ensemble, the show's likely to soar no matter who's on the special guest list. —Justin Hayford

The Tragedy of He-Manlet, Prince of Eternia - COURTESTY OF NEW MILLENNIUM THEATRE
  • The Tragedy of He-Manlet, Prince of Eternia
  • Courtesty of New Millennium Theatre

The Tragedy of He-Manlet, Prince of Eternia If you only get to see one revenge tragedy inspired by an action figure turned Saturday-morning cartoon this summer, let it be Adam "Roz" Rosowicz's concoction for New Millennium Theatre Company at Stage 773. Be aware, though, that it's terrible, a show to be laughed at and not with. What happens in Hamlet, give or take everything interesting about that play and its main character, is here mapped onto the superfolks of Castle Grayskull, where no loincloth dispensary or Spandex merchant ever went out of business. The script is death by thee and thou; to do the dialogue in what some might call "Shakespearean language" was a bad move yielding bastardized lines like "To he or not to he." Alex B. Reynolds brings passion (and an incredible mask) to his rendition of Skeletor, Eternia's usurping bad guy. —Max Maller

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