Monthly Archives: December 2019

A Sweet Southern Tale: Firebrand Theatre Presents Always… Patsy Cline at The Den Theatre (Through January 25, 2020)

In 1961, Patsy Cline played a show in Houston in a large honky tonk. One of her biggest fans, Louise Seger, arrived hours early. She spotted Patsy when she first entered and she introduced herself. They struck up a conversation and began to develop a friendship forged by the power of music. This play is a sweet southern tale of two women bonding over their troubles with life filled with 1950’s and 1960’s style country music.

In tonight’s production, Christina Hall played Patsy Cline. Her voice is excellent and she combines star power with southern charm. Harmony France played Louise. She was overjoyed to meet her hero and poured on the southern hospitality. They switch roles every night and it would be quite interesting to see the differences.

One of the best songs is “Crazy”. “I’m crazy for trying. And crazy for crying. And I’m crazy for loving you.” The song was written by Willie Nelson. The band is fantastic, prominently playing at the back of the intimate stage.

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Another great song is “Leaving On Your Mind”. “If you’ve got leaving on your mind, tell me now, get it over.” It’s so simple and so heartbreakingly beautiful which also perfectly describes the show. If you aren’t familiar with Patsy Cline’s music, this is an excellent introduction. 

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Get tickets now for Always… Patsy Cline through January 25!

Cost of a ticket: $45 and up for one show or $50 and up to see both versions

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price + for one show or Worth It + to see both versions

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney

A Strong Ensemble: Dance Nation at Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Through February 2, 2020)

A dance team of preteens are striving to compete at nationals. The actors playing them range in age from being in their 20s to their 70s. This is very funny at first, and the actors play it up. Eventually, you grow used to it as they truly do embody these young girls and a boy. Also, a few times they act as their characters’ older selves looking back at this time in their life in a cool time shift.

The play has some very vulgar and honest language. It’s a very in depth dive into these girls lives. It is similar to The Wolves in that the teens discuss typical youthful interests but also some very adult topics as well. One small downside, is at two hours long, this play could really use an intermission. I don’t think anything would be lost by adding one.

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One of the best parts of Steppenwolf is being able to see great actors play so many different roles and really see their acting range. This is a very strong ensemble piece. Each actor has their time to shine. Audrey Francis (The Doppelganger, You Got Older) is excellent as Mom and Vanessa, a dancer who doesn’t make it past the first performance. Caroline Neff (You Got Older, Linda Vista) is great as Zuzu, a surprising choice for a dance solo. Tim Hopper (Downstate, Linda Vista) is hilariously serious as the dance teacher. Karen Rodriguez (La Ruta, The Rembrandt) is powerful as Amina, the best dancer who is uncomfortable in that position. Ariana Burks, Adithi Chandrashekar, Shanesia Davis, Torrey Hanson, and Ellen Maddow are all fantastic as the rest of the dance team.

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Get tickets now for Dance Nation through February 2!

 

Cost of a ticket: $56 and up

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

 

Quinn Delaney

So Funny! Single All The Way at Stage 773 (Though December 21, 2019)

If you are single, or if you ever were, this is the show for you. They have taken a large selection of Christmas songs and rewritten the lyrics to be about dating in your 20s. Songs such as Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon and All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey are changed to be about the woes of searching for a man.

A great moment is when they change “What Child Is This?” to figure out if the kid in her date’s profile picture is a nephew or his own kid. Another one about sex is absolutely hilarious!

Amy Heller and Clara Flaherty have struck upon comedy gold. It is no surprise that this is the show’s fourth year and it is still selling out. They clearly put a lot of work into creating these parodies.

Get tickets now for Single All The Way though December 21st!

Cost of a ticket: $25

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Old Hollywood Style: Jane Lynch’s Swingin’ Little Christmas – Featuring Kate Flannery, Tim Davis & the Tony Guerrero Quintet at City Winery Chicago (December 15, 2019)

The Tony Guerrero Quintet takes the stage promptly at 8pm. They play a few jazzy Christmas songs. The trumpet player then says there was an issue with the show listings. He is James Lynch and this is Jake Flannery. What a corny dad joke, haha. The night is full of this type of light humor. Then, he brings Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery, and Tim Davis on to the stage.

They begin with a very slow song, singing acapella. Kate is looking very bored as she looks around and checks her watch. Finally, she says “Stop! I can’t take it anymore!” Then, they jump straight into “A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time”. It’s a very fun upbeat song written by Tony Guerrero and a great way to start the show.

They go on to sing most of the songs from their 2016 album, Swingin’ Little Christmas. It’s a very old Hollywood type cabaret show. It’s a rare public performance from these actors. Jane Lynch is best known for playing Sue Sylvester on Glee and is now appearing on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Kate Flannery played Meridith the Drunk on The Office and will be touring with Dancing with the Stars this winter. Lastly, Tim Davis was the vocal arranger on Glee and according to Jane, is the eye candy of the show.

After the show, they met fans in the lobby and happily posed for photos and signed merchandise.

Cost of a ticket: $60

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Warm and Cozy! Andrew Bird with Madison Cunningham at Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago (December 12, 2019)

Andrew Bird’s new Christmas album is titled HARK! Tonight, he plays “Skating”, which you may recognize from the Peanut’s Christmas album. It sounds absolutely fantastic with him on violin and Madison Cunningham on guitar. Everyone has a smile on their face.

In the middle of the set, Andrew and Madison pick up acoustic instruments and stand around a single microphone. They play “Gentle On My Mind” by Glen Campbell. It has the friends gathered around a campfire feel.

Later on, he talks about how he left Chicago 10 years ago and he feels guilty about it. A part of his heart is still in Chicago and he is happy to be back in town for 5 months shooting Season 4 of Fargo. It is a role that was made specifically for him. After this intro, he sings the excellent “Pulaski at Night”. “Come back to Chicago, city of light!” His music showcases the fantastic acoustic of this church.

This is the final night of the Gezelligheid Concerts. Gezelligheid is a Dutch word that loosely translates to “cozy”, like the Danish word hygge. The show truly is warm and cozy with the great lighting and architecture of the church. It’s no wonder this run of five shows sold out.

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See the full setlist here.

Read our previous review of Madison Cunningham here.

Quinn Delaney

New Christmas Album! Los Lobos at City Winery Chicago (December 10, 2019)

Los Lobos formed in 1973 and in 2019 they are still breaking new ground. In October, this East LA band released their first Christmas album, Llegó Navidad. The first song they play from the album is “Reluciente Sol”. Then, they play “Donde Esta Santa Claus?” It’s a very fun and happy slow Christmas jam It is very different from the original, a 1958 track by Augie Rios.

They wrote an original song for this album, “Christmas and You”. It’s a romantic love song that fits right in with all the covers and sounds great.

Later on they play “It’s Christmas Time In Texas” which was originally made popular by Freddy Fender. This joyful tune features the lead singer on accordion and truly captures the Christmas spirit, Texas style.

They didn’t play “La Bamba” tonight. But, they did play it the previous day.

See the full setlist here on the new PlaylistHQ page with YouTube videos and Spotify playlists.

Cost of a ticket: $65
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price +
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious! Deck the Hallmark: A Greeting Card Original at Second City (Through December 31, 2019)

Holly Sweetberry is a busy business woman working in NYC. She doesn’t have time for Christmas cheer. She is dating a very handsome man, played by a cardboard cutout of Dean Cain (Supergirl). However, he still hasn’t proposed to her. One day, her boss gives her a very important letter to hand deliver to Humbletown, her hometown! While she is there, she runs into a man she grew up with and to her surprise, begins to discover an undeniable connection. This causes her to question her current lifestyle.

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As Holly embarks on a journey of self-discovery, the audience is captivated and follows her path which consists of memorable moments filled with humor. At one point, Holly seeks advice from her grandparents (a random couple in the audience). She poses questions related to understanding how they knew they were each other’s soulmates. They say that they met when the woman jumped into the man’s cab at O’Hare International Airport in order to share a ride into the city. His first impression of her was that she was “interesting”. Holly then asks about their first date. They talk about going to Greek town and drinking a lot. A pair of actors then come on to the stage to reenact their first date. The woman takes about 20 shots in a row while the man watches in awe. He then simply says, “Hmm, interesting.”   

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Bri Fitzpatrick (The One: The Matrix Parody Musical) is hilarious as Holly Sweetberry, the modern-day Scrooge. Henrik Blix is hysterical as the perfect hometown man. Jess DeBacco is so funny as the Uber driver who just keeps reappearing! Rob Grabowski is excellent as the Mayor and Holly’s Republic father. George Elrod and Shelby Plummer are great together as Holly’s NYC and Humbletown friends. They are the Greek chorus of the show who have a funny comment on everything. This original new two-act show was written for The Second City by Anneliese Toft with Carisa Barecca, Kelsey Kinney, and Adam Schrek.

 

This production is a hilarious parody of cheesy Christmas romantic comedies. It will have you laughing and saying awww the whole time! Also, the ending is very modern and quite satisfying. It’s not the cheesy finish you might expect!

 

Get tickets now for Deck the Hallmark through December 31st!

 

Cost of a ticket: $36

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother