Live Pandemic Safe Comedy! Laugh Factory Presents Laughs on The Lake at LakeShore Drive-In (August 13, 2020)

Stand-up comedy shows normally take place in a crowded bar or comedy club. Laughs on the Lake was the exact opposite of that. It was a drive in show where every other parking space was left open. The audience is allowed to remove their masks while in their cars. They were also allowed to set up chairs in front of their cars. If they wanted to sit in these chairs, they were required to wear their masks. This is much more strict than the rules at last weekend’s Local H Drive-In show in Schaumburg where you could set up next to your car without a mask.

You could conveniently order food to your car using your phone. Check out the menu here. Unlike at their club, which is now open on weekends, there is no two drink minimum!

In my opinion, they set up the stage on the wrong side of the parking lot. The lot is basically a triangle. If they had put it in one of the corners, all the cars would have good sight lines to the stage. Instead, they put it in the middle of one of the sides. Thus, the cars towards the front corners can only see the very front of the stage. The comedians stood back from the front, so the side of the stage blocked the view. If you attend a future show, avoid these front corners.

The comedy was full of laughs. A lot of the comedians were parents complaining about having to spend so much time with their kids. Leon Rogers did a long bit about taking Rhino 7, a male sexual enhancement supplement that ended up with him in the hospital because his erection wouldn’t subside. Em Brown asked for people to honk if they lived in the south suburbs. After they honked, he then said “Great, I need a ride home!” Correy Boyd-Bell often complained about the bugs that were attracted to the bright stage lights. She decided to put on her mask to keep them out of her mouth! T-Murph talked about how he likes Trump because he got a stimulus check. The audience did not take that well. He also said he would vote for Kanye. Nobody laughed.

Despite the few downsides, it was still great to get out and go to a show during the pandemic. I expect a concert to work even better in this setup. Buy tickets to future shows here!

Quinn Delaney

A Pandemic Victim – Mercury Theatre Chicago to Close Permanently (June 2020) – 8 Shows Ranked

The Mercury Theatre announced today that they are closing permanently at the end of June due to the pandemic. This is a major loss to the Chicago theatre scene. In tribute to Mercury Theatre, here is a list of shows we reviewed ranked by quality:

#1) The Producers (April 2016)

#2) Monty Python’s Spamalot at Mercury Theatre Chicago (November 2019)

#3) Hilarious! Avenue Q at Mercury Theatre (November 2018)

#4) Company (April 2018)

#5) Mary Poppins  (April 2017)

#6) Hair (August 2017)

#7) Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Love Story (March 2018)

#8) Shear Madness (April 26 2020)

 

Quinn Delaney

Blues Rock! Ana Popović at City Winery Chicago (March 10, 2020)

Ana Popović is on tour promoting her latest album, Like It On Top. It was released in 2018 and features Keb’ Mo’, Robben Ford, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Tonight she shows why those are her peers with her virtuosic guitar playing.

Early on she plays “Lasting Kind of Love”. “It’s not a lasting kind of love, it’s temporary.” “And baby, I don’t mind”. It’s a groovy track about casual relationships.

A highlight of her set is “Johnnie Ray”. It is a fantastic blues song that really showcases her vocal talent as well as her guitar skills.

Fans of the performance should definitely not miss Chicago Blues Fest in June!

See her past setlists here.

Cost of a ticket: $28

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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

Quinn Delaney

Staged Reading – Middletown – The Ride of Your Life at Apollo Theatre (Through March 22, 2020)

The evening begins with all the actors coming out to greet the audience. They are shaking hands and walking up and down the aisles. It is more like a concert beginning than a play. This production is being presented as a staged reading. The four actors are positioned at stands with the script in front of them from which they will read. This technique is usually used a step in the development process to see how an audience responds early on. In this case, it is presented as the final product. The playwright wanted to keep it simple that way.

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Middletown is the story of two couple’s lives together. The couples are looking back of their lives together as friends. It starts with how they met, got married, and had kids. It continues through the kids growing older as they also age and face medical issues. There are great highs and tragic lows in their roller coaster lives.

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The actors have great chemistry with each other and convey the friendship well. The cast includes Sandy Duncan, Adrian Zmed, Kate Buddeke, and Danny Most. This play will appeal mostly an older audience.

Get tickets now for Middletown through March 22nd!

Cost of a ticket: $72

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price –

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

Quinn Delaney

 

Review: Alvin Ailey at the Auditorium Theatre (Through March 8th)

A Case of You (2005)

Choreography by Judith Jamison

AAADT'S Jamar Roberts and Jacqueline Green in A Case of You from Judith Jamison's Reminiscin'. Photo by Paul Kolnik (3)

Jacqueline Green, Jamar Roberts in A Case of You Choreography: Judith Jamison Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Credit Photo: Paul Kolnik studio@paulkolnik.com nyc 212-362-7778

Music by Joni Mitchell; Performed by Diana Krall

 This is a very romantic duo dance. The woman wears a fantastic red dress. At one point, she runs up the man and jumps up onto this thighs in an impressive move. It is full of emotion. The piece starts with about a minute of no music. This may work well in other venues, but in the large Auditorium Theatre in the middle of winter, the sound of coughing is the soundtrack.

 Fandango (1995)

Choreography by Lar Lubovitch

Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell and Richard Witter in Lar Lubovitchs Fandango circa 1995. Photo by Roy Volkmann

Music by Maurice Ravel

 Alvin Ailey has another piece that also uses Ravel’s Bolero, Walking Mad (2016). This other piece matched the playful sound of the music much better than this one. This dance was athletic and strong, a complete mismatch with the music that resulted in a mixed experience.

 

Revelations (1960)

Choreography by Alvin Ailey

 This is a full company piece that is met with a loud applause right when it starts. It’s gospel music that plays which gives the piece a religious feel. It’s happy, sad, and beautiful. Since its premiere, it has been performed continuously around the globe and it has become the most widely seen modern dance piece in the world.

This program will be repeated on Sunday at 3pm. The other performances will include different dances.

 

Get tickets now for Alvin Ailey through Sunday!

Cost of a ticket: $140 (Back Orchestra)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price –

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

 

Quinn Delaney

Good Jazz – Cyrille Aimee at City Winery Chicago (March 3, 2020)

Cyrille Aimee is a very talented French jazz singer. She is joined by two other fantastic musicians. Ryan Hanseler is on piano and Alex Warshawsky plays the bass. They open with a Sondheim song from Follies. She sings a lot of Sondheim songs this evening which she recorded on her 2019 album, Move On: A Sonheim Adventure. Within each song, they always add a jazzy improv jam.

They also perform a few of her original songs. They blend right in with the covers showing her songwriting talents.

For the encore, she chooses a blues song, “Loud Talkin Woman” by Helen Humes. “Loud talkin woman, why don’t you keep your man at home.” “I live up five flights of stairs, and your man loves to climb.” It’s a scintillating song and a great closer.

Cost of a ticket: $36
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

 

 

Funny and Bizarre! First Floor Theater Presents Plano at Steppenwolf Theatre (Through March 28, 2020)

Three sisters are living in Dallas. One of this sisters (Elizabeth Birnkrant) is dating a man named Juan who she calls John (Christopher Acevedo). He is oddly always heading off to Plano. One of the sisters (Ashley Neal) is married to Steve (Andrew Cutler). It turns out there are multiple Steves. This leads to some really funny scenes where the actor leaves the stage in one spot and then reappears in another. The last sister (Amanda Fink) is seeing a man with no face (Andrew Lund). It is a very artistic piece that is open to the audience’s interpretation.

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A possible interpretation is that the characters are dealing with mental illness. For example, the multiple Steves could represent a multiple personality disorder. It’s also clear that none of the sister’s is having good luck with men

The entire cast does a great job with this fast paced and funny play. The dialog is quick and the time changes rapidly. A character will say “I’ll see you later. It is later.” In an instant, a few days has passed. It can be a bit disorientating but in a good way. The audience is fully engaged trying to figure out just exactly what is happening. It’s the kind of play you’ll want to see twice!

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Get tickets now for Plano through March 28th!

 

Cost of a ticket: $28

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

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

 

Quinn Delaney

Review: Shear Madness at Mercury Theatre (Through April 26, 2020)

A pair of hair stylists are working at a salon named Shear Madness. One of them is comically bad at his job. They often complain about the woman who lives upstairs. Two policemen arrive and announce that the woman upstairs was murdered. They have been casing the place and know that the killer must be either of one of the hair stylists or one of their customers. In the second half of the show, the audience must question the suspect to determine what happened.

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The Mercury Theatre is best known for doing big Broadway worth shows such as Avenue Q and Spamalot. So, this is a little bit out of their style and it shows. The Chicago references come off as corny and touristy. The jokes feel old fashioned. Perhaps it was because the audience was small, but the energy level was very low. It felt more like a small iO show than a big great production that Mercury Theatre is capable of making.

Get tickets now for Shear Madness through April 26th.

Cost of a ticket: $44 and up

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Go for Free

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

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While this show doesn’t rate high, I still look forward to their next production starting on March 20th, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Quinn Delaney

 

Impressive! Cirque du Soleil Presents Alegria (Through February 17 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and June 5 – 28 at Soldier Field in Chicago)

Very early in the show, a group of men come onto the stage with 15 foot long acro poles. Two men hold the end of the poles and fling the third into the air who then lands standing on the pole. It’s like the uneven bars in gymnastics, except the bars are controlled by people. It was very original and quite impressive!

Later on, a fire dancer takes the stage. He is holding sticks where both ends can hold fire. Only one end is lit at first, so he lights his hand on fire to transfer the fire to the other end. This is insane! He also puts the fire end of the sticks in his mouth and holds up the fire directly on his feet. He must be fire proof!

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The first half ends with a giant snowstorm. A plethora of white confetti is blown around with bright white lights shining everywhere. It would be better if the light didn’t shine directly into the audience’s face. Still, it is a cool scene.

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A man and a woman come out to do a performance with aerial straps. The exciting part is that only the man has his hand through the strap. The woman just puts her hands around his neck and off they go, up high above the stage. They do this again where he is just holding her by her hands. This looks very dangerous, which is what makes it so exciting to watch.

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At last, a giant net is set up about 15 feet above the stage. Up near the ceiling, a bunch of people are swinging around aerial high bars. Just beneath them, two men are swinging on a pendulum. Suddenly, one of them flips upside down. Simultaneously, one of the people flings off one of the bars into midair. They catch each other by the hands in an incredible feat. This trick takes incredible timing and must have involved many hours of practice.

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Get tickets now for Alegria through Monday at Hard Rock Stadium and June 5th to 28th at Soldier Field!

Cost of a ticket: $59 and up
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

 

Broadway Quality! Slow Burn Theatre Company Presents Groundhog Day The Musical at Broward Center (Through February 16, 2020)

Phil Connors is not happy that he has to go to the small town of Punxsutawney, PA to cover Groundhog Day. He thinks he is too important to have to cover such a small story. He spends the day being terrible to everyone. The next day he wakes up and discovers that it is Groundhog’s Day again. He is forced to live the same day over and over again. It’s a journey of self discovery mixed with a love story and a comedy.

This musical is based on the 1993 film of the same name starring Bill Murray. It truly captures the heart of the movie and so many of the great comedic moments. It also adds to the movie with the songs that really get at the emotions of the characters. The idea of a musical version of this movie sounds like a cheesy improv theatre show, but they have created a fantastic Broadway quality show.

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This production by Slow Burn Theatre is very impressive. It’s a must see! The sets are very professional and the crew does a great job swapping them in and out rapidly. The cast is excellent. Clay Cartland playing Phil Connors does a fantastic job. Also, the actor who plays Ned is great and looks just like him!

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Get tickets now for Groundhog Day The Musical through Sunday!

Cost of a ticket: $57

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value –

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

 

Quinn Delaney