Monthly Archives: December 2021

Island Style! John Cruz featuring Max Ribner at ProArts Maui (December 15, 2021)

Early on in his set, John Cruz sings a sweet love song. One feels the depth of his writing with a beautiful analogy between the power of love and the forces of nature in the lyrics, “if it’s gray and cloudy outside, it’s still sunny inside with your love”. It’s a great start to the show!

After a few songs, John invites Max Ribner and his band to join him. The band features Ribner on flugelhorn, Sam Frampton on ukulele, and Stef on bass. They play a jazzy soulful type of instrumental music. The songs are from Ribner’s latest album, 1st Language, which features over 50 artists. John Cruz jams with them, adding in an island music flavor. They feed off each other really well and it makes for a great musical experience.

Catch Max Ribner and his band this weekend at their 4-day campout and celebration:

Later on, Cruz plays “Island Style”. He hears a great voice in the audience and invite him on stage. It’s a local who knows the song well. “On the Island, we do it Island style. From the mountain to the ocean, from the windward to the leeward side.” It’s another great moment in the show. The spotify version above features Cruz with Jackson Browne and Jack Johnson.

Catch John Cruz every Wednesday this month and next at ProArts Maui.

Cost of a ticket: $50

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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

Quinn Delaney


All Fun, No Smarts – Broadway in Chicago Presents Pretty Woman at CIBC Theatre (Through December 19, 2021)

Should “Pretty Woman: The Musical” exist? Does the plot of the 1990 movie hold up in 2021? Should Broadway continue its trend of churning out movie-to-musical adaptations?

Chances are if you’re seeing the musical, your response is “who cares?” And that attitude will serve you well during the performance. If you’ve decided these questions don’t matter and are happy to turn your brain off for a fully unoriginal production that requires no thought on your part, then you are in for a treat.

Photos by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

While the musical itself and dated source material are nothing special, it makes for a fun evening. The plot moves at a brisk pace, the songs are fun (if instantly forgettable) and the cast is doing their best with the cards they have been dealt. Adam Pascal, who originated the role of Roger in “Rent,” is worth the night out alone. His rock-inflected voice is given plenty of moments to shine as the businessman Edward Lewis. Olivia Valli (in the role of the pretty woman herself, Vivian Ward) carries the role’s demands easily, belting high notes with precision and pivoting from flirtatious to vulnerable to in command. Jessica Crouch (as the best friend character, Kit De Luca) could pass for the sister of Orfeh (the actress that originated the role) in terms of vocal style and range, if not intensity. And as a special treat, Amma Osei delights the audience with her operatic soprano, singing a song from Verdi’s “La Traviata.”

Get tickets now for Pretty Woman through December 19th!

Edward Boyle

A Master Blues Musician! Walter Trout at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ (December 9, 2021)

Walter Trout was walking on Beale street in Memphis when he ran into a friend, the blues singer Teeny Tucker. She told him that she had just lost her son. She said her heart was crying, but she was all out of tears. Trout suggested they put that line into a song. So, they went ahead and wrote “All Out Of Tears” in 15 minutes. The song would go on to win the 2020 Blues Music Award for Song of the Year. On this evening, Trout is really feeling this song and the audience can really feel the full emotion of this track. This is what the blues is known for, expressing great sorrow.

Trout had been playing regularly at a bar and knew this one guy who kept coming in to see his crush, a bartendress. Eventually, they went out a few times. But then, she dumped him. He came balling his eyes out to Walter who wrote “Gotta Broken Heart” for him. It’s a rocker that surely helped him heal his woes.

For eight months, Walter Trout was dying of a liver disease.  He lay on a bed and lost 120 pounds and suffered some brain damage. In just the nick of time, they found an organ donor and he received a liver transplant. Afterwards, although he physically recovered, because of the brain damage he had to relearn how to speak, how to walk, and then how to play guitar. After a year of recovery, he was finally ready to play his first show back, at Royal Albert Hall! Tonight he sings the first track off his latest album about this experience, “Almost Gone”. Once again, Trout’s guitar playing expertly portrays the feeling of this experience.

The show ended pretty abruptly after just one hour. They had to stop in order to clear out before the next show starting at 9pm. For a show without an opener, only playing for one hour is very short. The audience is left feeling a bit unsatisfied. They really should play at least 90 minutes or include an opener.

Despite the shortness of the set, it was still a great show. Walter Trout is a master guitar player and an expert storyteller. Catch him on tour now!

Quinn Delaney

Masters of Hip-Hop Dancing! Boom Crack! Dance Company at The Den Theatre (December 4, 2021)

The Boom Crack! Dance Company can really move. Their sharp movements precisely match the beats in the music. Their facial expressions convey their intensity. They are true masters of hip-hop dancing.

The company won first place at the World of Dance Chicago 2017 and they continue to participate in this event today.

While they have mastered the short dance segments, a few improvements could be made to make it a better full evening show. Firstly, a host would really help with transitions between the dances. Secondly, they could make the dances longer. On this evening, the dancing only lasted 40 minutes. It could be as easy as repeating the choreography more. With these changes, they could surely sell out a week’s worth of shows.  

For more information about the company, check out their Facebook page here.

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious! Who’s Holiday! at Theatre Wit (Through December 26, 2021)

While entering the theatre, “Dingle Berries” by Kevin Bloody Wilson is playing. “I’ve got dingle berries, dingle berries dangling from the ass. Tiny bits of shit stuck to the hairs around my anus.” This songs perfectly sets the scene for the adult Christmas themed show about to take place.

Photo credit: Charles Osgood

What ever happened to Cindy Lou Who? Well, she grew up and became quite a partier. She loves to drink and to swear. She reunites with the Grinch, and let’s just say, they start an adult relationship. Tonight she is throwing a holiday party. She has invited many of the Dr. Seuss characters including Lorax, Thing One, Thing Two, Yertle the Turtle, and many more.

Veronica Garza (Tonya and Nancy) is absolutely hilarious as Cindy Lou Who. She keeps the laughs going for the full 65 minutes. She is especially quick with improved quips such as, “that didn’t happen in previews!” Also, when an audience member asks is she has venmo, she gives out her real venmo and says, “What? Cindy Lou Who was taken!”

Theater Wit Who’s Holiday! staring Veronica Garza in dress rehearsal, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Charles Osgood Photography

On this evening, she calls on a man in the front row. She flirts with him, but it seems he isn’t interested. She gets upset as she realized he is gay. So, she gives him a shot of Malört. Throughout the show, she calls back to Matt calling him dumb for not being into her.  

Cost of a ticket: $30

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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

Get tickets now for Who’s Holiday through December 26th!

Quinn Delaney