Classixx can lay down some sick beats and they proved it tonight at Concord Music Hall. They start off slowly and bring up the intensity gradually. The music never goes crazy. Instead, it reaches the perfect comfortable level of a groove you can dance to all night long. As the lead singer said, there is a great feeling in Chicago right now because of the excitement of the Cubs in the World Series. It seemed to directly tie in the song where they sing “Do you like baseball?” However, it actually says “Do you like bass more” in the song “I’ll Get You”.
For the song, “Whatever I Want”, they had a video of T-Pain singing. Through the use of visual effects in the video, it was close to having a hologram. The entire night featured amazing images on the dual screens. During one song, the screens circled through different nation’s flags with very creative transitions. One line of color would fly off the screen as another flew in. There was also this quirky string-like animation that drew in your attention and danced to the music.
The live show features live keyboards, guitar, drums, and vocals. It blends in perfectly with the prerecorded beats in a perfectly natural way. It’s a dance party that both the EDM and the rock crowd can enjoy. It’s a ballsy move to name yourself Classixx, but they sure do pull it off. Catch them on tour now!
Longer! Louder! Wagner! is about Richard Wagner writing the Ring, his four-day, fifteen-hour opera masterpiece, in 1848 Germany. The singing by the opera singers is incredibly impressive. They also do a fantastic job with the comedic acting. When Jonah D. Winston sings Part of Your World from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the entire audience has a huge smile on their face.
Jesse Case does an expert job as the titular Wagner. He plays the operatic pieces fantastically. During a scene when they are describing the process of piecing together such a long play, he plays a small bit of Bon Jovi’s Don’t Stop Believin’. The crowd laughs and the characters instantly dismiss is as not right for this play with a smirk. Along with the German accents, they drop in a few German words: Auf Wiedersehen (Goodbye) and Und (and). Also, all W’s are pronounced like V’s, in German words and English ones too!
The streak continues of striking gold when Second City collaborates with other Chicago institutions. Just see our reviews of The Art of Falling with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Dance for Life with various Chicago dance companies, and Twist Your Dickens with the Goodman Theatre which is returning this December! See Longer! Louder! Wagner! this weekend for a truly impressive and hilarious performance.
Elle Casazza leads her band with a strong stage presence an fantastic voice as the lead singer. Jarad Kleinstein on drums and Ben McFadden on bass provide a solid baseline for the night. Jon Gould shreds on guitar utilizing many effects. All together they create a sound which blends the styles of rock, jazz, and pop. One song sounds like a track out of Heart’s catalogue. Another one sounds like a jazz standard. Catch this up and coming band now all around Chicago.
(Listen to this song while reading the review)
Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding is a night of all the best parts of a wedding without any of the stress of an actual one. Here are 10 of the best moments.
- Sing along to and listen to the future nun belt out “Jesus Is Just Alright”. Don’t sing during her solo though! By the way, Robert Randolph’s version is great too (this is the song at the top.)
- Score drugs from the best man.
- Eat bottomless pasta, salad, and cake.
- Slow dance to Prince’s “Purple Rain” as sung by Donnie Dulce.
- Catch the bouquet or the garter.
- Beat up the drunken ex of the bride.
- Dance to YMCA, the chicken dance, and join the conga line!
- See the priest get loaded and slur through his blessing.
- Witness Tony almost get in a fight with a random driver while blocking traffic on the walk from the church to the reception!
- Watch the nun close out the show by singing Last Dance by Donna Summer!
RSVP now for Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding at Chicago Theatre Works!
(Listen to this song while reading the review)
True to form, Trap Door Theatre presents a wildly bizarre performance of Fantasy Island for Dummies. As you enter the theatre, one of the actors (playing the role of a dummy) is being moved around by another, often to comedic effect. Also, a man is sitting on a hut strumming on a ukulele. The show boasts original songs by Pink Velvet and Mike Mazzocca. All these elements help transport the audience to a magical island atmosphere with an air of mystery.
The costumes for this production are excellent; especially the white suits worn by Mr. Roarke and Tattoo. The rest of the cast wears very colorful outfits that create a fun tropical feeling. It’s a fantastical show that is truly unique in the Chicago theatre scene. It’s so strange and that’s what makes is so fun and artful.
Escape now to Fantasy Island for Dummies through November 5th.
The Kongos are originally from South Africa. Thus, it makes sense that they play a version of arena rock blended with African rhythms. The song “I Don’t Mind” features guitar work very common in African Rock. Also, the accordion player plays a major role, especially on “I Want It Free”. He has the picture of the gorilla from the cover of their album, Egomaniac, printed on his instrument which grows and shrinks as he plays. Also, behind the band, they show images of animals in the wild projected on a line of screens. Elephants, lions, flamingos, and more appear. Along with a large assortment of lights flashing and shining in all directions, the show is chalk full of visual stimulation. It’s definitely arena ready and quite a spectacle in the medium size Vic Theatre.
To close out their set, the Kongos drummer bangs his drums twice and two swirling rings of smoke fly into the crowd. The effect is amazing. Each time the singer says “What are you smoking?”, more rings of smoke shoot out into the audience. When you put your hand into the ring, you can feel the air moving. Afterwards, the crowd cheers and demands an encore. They tell us they have to make it quick to finish by 10pm according to Chicago rules for all-ages shows. They close out with a great cover of “Blue Monday” by New Order. Wednesdays don’t get any better than this!
See the latest posted setlist here.
How We Got On is the story of Hank, a teenager that moves from the city to the suburbs and wants to be a rapper. After his move, he meets Julian, whom he quickly challenges to a rap battle. He loses badly to Julian but then they decide to team up with Hank doing the writing and Julian doing the singing. Along comes Luann, who wants to join the group. Julian doesn’t want her in the group which leads to a big confrontation with her. The ensuing rap battle between them is a highlight of the show.
The play shares similarities to Straight Outta Compton. They are both about the early days of hip-hop. They both have a lot of songs in them but not so much that they would be considered musicals. Hank even mentions how Ice Cube ghost wrote for Eazy-E, just like he is doing for Julian.
The soundtrack for this show is fantastic. Set It Off by Big Daddy Kane, The Message by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five featuing Melle Mel & Duke Bootee, and Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang are just a few of the great songs included. Hopefully the cast will record the songs from the play also. For all fans of 80’s hip hop, this play is a must see.
Get tickets now for How We Got On through November 12th!
Two arms negotiators break from the job and take a walk in the woods. The young American woman (Honeyman) wants to discuss business. The old Russian man (Botvinnik) wants to indulge in a frivolous conversation. Botvinnik is tired of work and wants to take a break from the negotiations. He wants to befriend Honeyman. She has no interest in friendship, at least not until the negotiations are complete. She refuses to believe that their work is simply a “nuclear nightlight”.
Sara Pavlak McGuire has a fantastic performance as Honeyman. She is very eager to work and display her talent. Vincent P. Mahler is excellent as Botvinnik. He is calm and charming throughout the production. The actors feed off each other’s energy and develop a unique collegial relationship. This Tony-nominated play is in good hands with The Spartan Theatre Company.
Buy tickets now for A Walk in the Woods through October 23rd!
Still is the story of Constantinople, a stillborn boy searching for his mother. Everything is new to him and amazing. A very tall man plays the role of the infant which makes for some very funny moments. He meets Delores, a dominatrix struggling to make meaning of her own losses, who agrees to help him find his mother. But when Delores does find his mother, she can’t bring herself to say she met her dead son. Morgan is the midwife who delivered the stillborn. She craves punishment and seeks it from Delores. She’s never been to a dominatrix before which leads to a humorous encounter.
The sound design for this play is very interesting and draws the audience in. Also, the costumes are very well done, especially for the dominatrix. The play runs 90 minutes without an intermission. The production successfully tells a poignant story about love and loss, and about finding human connection in unexpected places.
Get tickets now for Still through October 30th.
From Broadway to London’s West End and to Chicago’s Victory Garden Theatre is Hand to God. It is the story about Jason and his hand puppet, Tyrone. His mother, Margery, teaches a puppet ministry class at the church. This is where we see that Jason is a quiet timid kid and Tyrone is a loud, obnoxious, and foul-mouthed puppet. Some of the best scenes are just these two going at each other vocally and physically. Alex Weisman’s performance is impressive as he gives both characters distinct personalities and switches between the two rapidly.
The vulgarity of this play is similar to the style of South Park and Book of Mormon. Tyrone is able to be very offensive because he is just a puppet. Hearing him say and do nasty things is hilarious. This relates to the cartoon children on South Park speaking foul language. Still, South Park is a TV show and couldn’t get away with the puppet sex scene that takes place. The entire theatre was simultaneously aghast and laughing hysterically during this raunchy scene. The expressions on the human’s faces during this scene made it even better.
When Tyrone attacks, things get bloody. The audience is shocked by the sudden violence. But once again, they can’t help but laugh because it’s a puppet. There are so many funny scenes that must be seen, but not by children. The content is definitely R-rated. When the show ends after less than two hours, the crowd is left wanting more. This is a great sign of a show well done.
Get tickets now for Hand to God through October 23!