Category Archives: Uncategorized

Full of Laughs! Great Altercations at Second City e.t.c. (Open Run)

Welcome to couples therapy camp! Today we have our best couple from the last session to help us out. “What is an issue you have?” He never picks up his things. She is always bugging you while you just want to do your favorite thing, which is what? Watching Breaking Bad, for the first time. The actors then sit down and one says “I’m so excited to watch this. I loved Malcolm in the Middle!” “Oh ya, me too!” What’s the secret she must reveal? “That she has seen all of the show!” “I must confess something. I know this isn’t like Malcolm in the Middle at all because I have seen the whole series, just like the rest of the world!” (It ended in 2013). This is a great example of a scene where the format was created beforehand, but all the content is improvised. It’s a great idea and totally delivered on this night.

Photos by Timothy M. Schmidt

During the 3rd set, which is completely improvised, they end up in a scene with a man talking to a bad beekeeper. A bee flies by and says “Bzzzz, she’s killing us!” He confronts her about this, saying that he can talk to bees. They don’t like the Mountain Dew Baja Blast she is giving to them. Also, he sees them having sex! Cut to a lady walking in who says she is here to… see the show. Cut to her getting caught by her partner with a ticket to “Beetastic!” She admits that she has loved bee sex since she was kid learning about nature in science class. Cut to that teacher talking about pollination while she gets visibly excited Cut to her going to meet up with a bee and then he turns out to be an undercover cop! Wow, what a roller coaster of a sketch that really shows off the cast’s improv chops.

Mark Campbell (The Best Decision You’ve Ever Made) is excellent in many roles especially as the man from the Western Suburbs. Jordan Savusa (Together at Last) is great as the man listening to a very unique podcast. Terrence Carey is great as the police officer giving a white person the experience of being racially profiled. Claudia Martinez is stellar as the Mexican father who can get out of paying for any driving accident. Alex Bellisle (The Best Decision You’ve Ever Made)  is solid as the daughter who is a terrible driver. Meghan Babbe (subbing in tonight for Laurel Krabacher) is superb as the bad beekeeper.

While this is not the funniest show they have ever done (there were two quite serious sketches), it is still full of laughs and worth the cost of admission.

Cost of a ticket: $55 (General Admission)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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

Get tickets now for Great Altercations!

Quinn Delaney

Fabulous! Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical at Mercury Theater (Through September 11, 2022)

The film version, titled The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, was released in 1994 staring Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp. The musical first debuted in Sydney in October of 2006. It premiered on Broadway in 2011. It went on tour in 2013, including a stop at the Auditorium Theatre. It opened on July 15, 2022 at the Mercury Theater.

Photos by Brett Beiner Photography

A drag queen decides it is time to drive across Australia from Sydney to Alice Springs to meet his son. He books a show in Alice Springs and brings along two other drag queens. Along the way, they encounter new friends and enemies in their adventure across the outback. Interwoven into the story are dance hits such as “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” and “True Colors.”

It is a very fun and campy production. The costumes are excellent and there are so many of them. It’s very impressive how many changes there are. The set is also very well designed and transforms easily from scene to scene.

The entire cast is great. Josh Houghton is excellent as the father traveling to see his son. He is quite nervous about making a good impression.  Shaun White is fabulous as the new young star whose dream is to dance and sing on the top of Ayers Rock, aka Uluru, in full Kylie Minogue drag. Honey West (Gypsy) is fantastic as the veteran drag queen teaching everyone else the ropes. Jason Richards (Avenue Q and The Producers) is great as the helpful local who hits it off with Honey’s character. Ayana Strutz (A Chorus Line) is exceptional as Bob’s wife who has one hell of a scene going nuts in a bar. Marcus Jackson (Sister Act) and Matthew Weidenbener (A Chorus Line) display some superb dancing throughout the show. 

See the full program here.

Cost of a ticket: $35 and up

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

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

Get tickets now for Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical through September 11th!

Quinn Delaney

Fantastic! Cults at Lincoln Hall (August 27, 2022)

The Cults are very excited to be back on the road. This is one their first shows since the pandemic. They play a lot of songs from their latest album, Host, which was released in 2020, and a lot of older ones too.

Midway through the set, they play “You Know What I Mean”. The contrast in this song is excellent. It starts off so slowly and sweet, but then the crashing guitars come in and crank it up to a new level.

To close out their set, they play “Abducted”. “He tore me apart because I really loved him. He took my heart away and left me to bleed out, bleed out.” The driving melody coupled with the driving vocals sound great tonight.

Nobody left the venue when they left the stage, as they all knew an encore was coming. Sure enough, they return very shortly after. After just the first note of “Go Outside”, the audience erupts and the music stops. The lead singer says “Psych”! It’s not clear if it was a technical glitch, or them just teasing the iconic xylophone start of the song. They start again and then it stops again after a few notes. Then, on the third time they play the whole song.

To end the night, they play “Always Forever”. It’s their biggest hit with over 258 million streams on Spotify. They bring out a special guest, Cullen Omori, the guitarist from Smith Westerns.  “You and me always forever. We could stay alone together.” It’s such a beautiful song and a fantastic close to the night.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $30

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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

Quinn Delaney

Joffrey Ballet © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Celebratory! Chicago Dancers United Presents Dance for Life at The Auditorium Theatre (August 13, 2022)

Lead Photo: Joffrey Ballet © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Dance for Life is an inspiring event that merges talent and philanthropy into one spectacular evening. It brings together the best Chicago dance companies and all proceeds go toward the Dancers’ Fund; a resource which provides financial assistance to professional dancers in their time of need, including covering medical expenses. It is one of the many ways our vibrant dance community joins forces to care for its own.
 
As dance enthusiasts entered the Auditorium Theatre this year, one could immediately feel the infectious joy that carried through the evening with each performance as this was the first Dance for Life at The Auditorium Theatre since the pandemic began. The joy and support from the audience radiated to the dancers who in turn delivered a magical evening filled with grace, beauty, precision, and undeniable talent.
 
Below you will find the program, along with information for upcoming performances by the dance companies that participated in this year’s Dance for Life.
 

Chicago Dance Crash © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Chicago Dance Crash performs the Chicago premiere of “Us vs. Them,” a section of its 20th anniversary work Booms Day! choreographed by Annie Franklin to music by Man From Sol, Jonah k, and Overlook.

Next Performance: Booms Day – August 26th to September 10th at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater performs Parallel Lives, choreographed by Co-Founder and Associate Artistic Director Gary Abbott to original music by Evangelos Spanos, based on La Folía. This modern work is inspired by poor working women who’ve shared life-changing events, both beautiful and tragic.

Next Performance: At the Auditorium Theatre on November 5th.

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater performs Baile de Luis Alonso, choreographed by Irma Suárez Ruiz to music by Gerónimo Giménez, based on a one-act lyrical play by Javier de Burgos that premiered in 1889 at the Teatro Español. Composer Giménez fell in love with the production; in 1896 it opened as a zarzuela (Spain’s light opera) at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid to great reviews.

Next Performance: At the Auditorium Theatre on October 1st

Giordano Dance Company © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Giordano Dance Chicago performs Shirt Off My Back, a jazz work choreographed by Ray Mercer to music by Max Richter, Ólafur Arnalds, and Bongi Duma. Beginning with indistinct whispers, fluid lines, and undulating torsos, Mercer modulates the go-for-broke energy with interludes of liquid partnering and solos. A brief section underscores the strength of the company’s men in precise unison moves. The dancers make swift exchanges across space, volleying shirts on and off from dancer to dancer. A rousing wind-up culminates in an ecstatic group finale.

Next Performance:  Catch the Light at the Harris Theatre on October 21st and 22nd

The Joffrey Ballet performs Élégie by Yoshihisa Arai set to Morceaux de Fantasie by Sergei Rachmaninoff, performed live on piano by Jorge Ivars. Élégie is about a love gone by—not just the loss of it, but the passion and beauty that comes from time spent with another. It’s an homage to the meaning that can come from the deepest, most visceral human connection. The dancers embody Rachmaninoff’s incredible score, making the experience both visual and auditory.

Next Performance:  Beyond Borders at the Lyric Opera from October 12th to 23rd 

NAJWA Dance Corps performs sections of The Guinea Suite, choreographed by Mouminato Camara to live percussion: “Guinea Fare,” a celebration of the Susu people featuring a dance women perform for marriages, naming ceremonies, and female initiations, and “Sorsene,” an initiation dance for the young of the Baga people from the Boke village of Guinea, West Africa.

Next Performance:  Not yet announced

Trinity Irish Dance Company © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Trinity Irish Dance Company performs American Traffic, a progressive Irish dance work choreographed by Michelle Dorrance and Melinda Sullivan, set to drums and hand percussion by Steven Rutledge. The work offers a hybrid of Irish step and American tap that plays at the intersection of rhythmic sensibilities and rebellious histories.

Next Performance:  Not yet announced

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious and Talented! Donovan Woods Opening for Matt Nathanson at The Vic Theatre (August 26, 2022)

They have chairs set up across the first floor of the Vic Theatre tonight. They usually only do this for comedy shows. But then it turns out this is part comedy show as Donovan Woods is hilarious. He starts out by saying he is the opener, but that no one should freak out, because he is very good. After the first song he says, so, ya, that’s what I sound like. It’s a very funny cocky attitude.

Later on, he introduces a song by saying it is the one that couples ask him to play at their wedding. Firstly, he says, he isn’t going to do that. Especially not for a first wedding. It’s more of a second wedding song. And besides, the second wedding is the good one. The audience is cracking up.

Donovon says he is from a small town in Ontario, near the border to Michigan. A few people cheer. He then says there is no reason for applause, he isn’t a fan of his hometown. Also, people in Canada don’t cheer when they hear the name of the city or province that they live in. He then warns that the next song mentions Chicago a lot, so please don’t cheer. He then begins to play “Here in Chicago”. After the very first line, everyone cheers and he stops. “Ok, it was funny that time,” he says.

For the last song, he says people would ask him to play it because it inspired them to build a treehouse for their kid or take them to Disneyland. Just chill out he says. Just go and play catch for 15 minutes. This is a great example of his self-deprecating humor because this song is truly inspirational to make big plans. It’s a beautiful song and a great way to end his stand up set, with music.

Cost of a ticket: $45 and up

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

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

Quinn Delaney

Funky! Thundercat opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Strokes at Soldier Field (August 19, 2022)

Thundercat takes the stage right at 6:30pm on a beautiful 80 degree night in Chicago. He is wearing a yellow track suit and he is ready to rock. With his band, they launch into some funky tunes. He is playing a six string bass guitar with his bandmates on keyboards and drums.

On “Overseas” he sings about traveling with his girl.  “I wanna meet you in Brazil, Take you to a place that you never been before”. “Or maybe meet up in Japan, Baby we can just hold hands”. During Chicago winters, this sounds great. But during the summer, there is no better place in the world to be than Soldier Field for this show!

Midway through the set, he asks who has seen the new Dragonball movie. Not many people respond. “There aren’t many of us,” he says, “but this next one is for the fans” as he begins playing “Dragonball Durag”.

After just 30 minutes, his set is over. It was just a small sample of his music, but he surely gained some new fans tonight.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $295 (100 level)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

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

Quinn Delaney

Funny and True! Campaigns, Inc. at TimeLine Theatre Company (Through September 18, 2022)

It is 1934 and the race for California’s Governor is heating up. Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle and many other books, is the democratic candidate. With Charlie Chaplin on his side, he is running a strong campaign. Frank Mirriam, the Republican incumbent, decides to hire political consultants. They decide to run ads presenting things that Sinclair’s characters said in his books as if he said them himself. It’s a strong smear campaign.

Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker are the political consultants. Frank Mirriam assumes Clem is doing most of the work since he is the man. The audience is conflicted in hoping Leone can be successful as a woman in this male dominated field while also not supporting her cause. There is also some chemistry between Leon and Clem.

Photos by Brett Beiner Photography

While this production is very funny, it is also very upsetting realizing how similar it is to our current issues with “fake news”. The play shows how effective these political consultants can be in having their candidate win, instead of the best candidate. Will Allan has truly written a great piece for his first full-length play.

Terry Hamilton is excellent as Frank Mirriam. Anish Jethmalani (In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play) is great as the inspiring Upton Sinclair with an EPIC plan. Tyler Meredith (The Columnist, Spinning) is great as Leone Baxter, who is unfazed by bending the truth to win. Yuriy Sardarov is great as Clem Whitaker, who is Leone’s greatest supporter and ally. Dave Honigman is excellent as Charlie Chaplin, who is rightfully hesitant to be public about his politics. Mark Ulrich is hilarious as the incumbent Lt. Governor who doesn’t get much respect from Mirriam.  Jacqueline Grandt is superb in her many roles including Eleanor Roosevelt, who strongly disagrees with her husband on some issues. David Parkes is solid in his many roles, including as FDR, who delivers one of the biggest surprises of the show.

When entering the theatre, you will notice a large screen playing clips from screwball comedies of the 30’s. A big part of the set is located behind this movable screen. Thus, the best seats are on this side of the theatre, about 3 rows up, towards the middle aisle.

Get tickets now for Campaigns, Inc. through September 18th!

Cost of a ticket: $47

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

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

Quinn Delaney

Poetic! Courtney Barnett at The Salt Shed (August 16, 2022)

Courtney Barnett has played Chicago many times. Lollapalooza in 2014, the Metro later that year, Pitchfork Music Festival in 2018, and the Taste of Chicago in 2019 just to name a few. This year, she is promoting her new ablum released in 2021 called Things Take Time, Take Time. A cool 70 degrees welcomes her as she takes the stage at a quarter to nine after Alvvays and The Beths successfully warmed up the audience.

Early in the set she plays “Avant Gardener”. “The paramedic thinks I’m clever ’cause I play guitar, I think she’s clever cause she stops people dying.” This is such a perfect line in such a beautiful song.

Barnett’s lyrical style is a stream of consciousness style. It’s poetic in nature. “If you’ve got a spare half million, you could knock it down and start rebuilding” she sings on the beautiful crafted “Depreston”.

Later on she plays “Pedestrian at Best” from her album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. It’s one of her more rocking songs and a great choice for an outdoor show. “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you!” she yells as she plays power chords on her guitar while strutting and spitting across the stage.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $64

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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

Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park (August 15, 2022)

The Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park is packed with Broadway fans tonight. It wasn’t as crowded as it was in past years, but there was still a long security line that took about 15 minutes to get through. The audience was excited for every single performance, but a few stood out. One was “The Best” from TINA. The singer was strutting across the stage the whole time and belting her heart out Another one was “Forgiven” from Jagged Little Pill. It’s such a raw rocking song that was performed fantastically. It’s going to be a great year of Broadway in Chicago performances!

Here is the list of all the shows that were featured:

Wicked – September 28 – December 4, 2022

The Lion King – November 17, 2022 – January 14, 2023

Dear Evan Hansen  – December 6 – December 31, 2022

Chicago – January 17 – 29, 2023

Les Misérables – February 15 – March 5, 2023

1776 – February 28 – March 12, 2023

TINA – The Tina Turner Musical – March 14 – April 2, 2023

Jagged Little Pill – April 11 – April 23, 2023

Disney’s Aladdin – May 17 – 28, 2023

MJ – August 1 – September 2, 2023

For special offers, visit this summer concert page.

Cost of a ticket: $0

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value

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

Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen at The Salt Shed (August 10, 2022)

It’s a perfect 78 degrees at the brand new Salt Shed for the Chicago stop of The Wild Hearts Tour. Marty Lennartz from WXRT takes the stage to introduce Sharon Van Etten. He recalls being blown away by her performance at Schubas and sticking around afterwards to meet her. He also mentions that Angel Olsen used to live in Chicago and that in his book, she’ll always be a Chicagoan.

Soon after the introduction, Van Etten takes the stage in a reflective shirt that looks like it is made of mirrors. Midway in the set, she plays “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”. Everyone sings along to the chorus “Every time the sun comes up, I’m in trouble.” It’s a beautifully simple song that sounds excellent live.

To close out the set, they play “Seventeen”. “I used to feel free / Was it just a dream? / Now you’re half shy / Think you’re so carefree / But you’re just seventeen.” It’s a fantastic song about remembering the freedom of being a teenager. It’s the perfect song to close out her performance.

Sharon returns in Angel Olsen’s encore set to play the song they released together, “Like I Used To”. They also play a cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Without You”. “I can’t live if living is without you!”  It’s a fantastic collaborative end to a great night of music.

See the full setlist of the previous night’s show here.

Cost of a ticket: $78

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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

Quinn Delaney