Monthly Archives: December 2017

Fantastic! The California Honeydrops featuring Ellis Hall at The Troubadour (December 22, 2017)

“Top of the hill you see heaven – From the top of the hill you see home” sings Lech Wierzynski on one of their best songs, Brokedown- Parts 1 and 2. It features an absolutely infectious horn riff that gets everyone dancing. And just like every Honeydrops show, the New Orleans brass band style party is started quickly. Word has spread about this great band which is why this show is the second of two sold out nights at The Troubadour.

“I know we’ve come a long way – Still got a long way to go” begins Long Way. Before the song, Lech described the story of how he wrote the song. He knew he was due to write a socially conscious tune. The Black Lives Matter movement was really inspiring him to try “walking in the shoes of another.” One night he couldn’t sleep because he was sick with the flu. He got out of bed and the lyrics just flowed out of him. It’s such a great hopeful song, and it has become a staple of their shows.

In the middle of the show, they bring out Ellis Hall to rock the organ. As a Ray Charles protégé, he shares a lot of characteristics with his mentor. He has a similar flair and exuberance as he plays and sings. It’s a fantastic fit with the band and it makes for a great collaboration.


“Now that you’re here to stay, you know the thrill is gone. I liked it better when it was wrong.” Everyone is singing along to When It Was Wrong.  “Some of you may think this song is about cheating. It’s actually about pretending to be cheating to spice up a long relationship.” Is this true, or does he just say this to please his girlfriend?

In total, it was another fantastic show by the California Honeydrops.  The venue was packed, balconies and all. They definitely made more fans this night and the future looks bright!

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious! The Eight: Reindeer Monologues at Chance Theatre (December 15, 2017)

What if the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer isn’t all that it seems? What if we only know the toned down kids version. The Eight explores the very adult side of the story. It turns out that Dasher is a big fan of the drink. Cupid is the only gay reindeer. Well, the only openly gay reindeer. Prancer is a movie star who now goes by the name Hollywood. The shocking revelations go on including some very strong allegations against Santa that are all too relevant this year.


The acting in this production is fantastically funny. A rotating cast is used for the eight roles. Each role is played by two to three different actors, who each give their character a uniquely hilarious interpretation. This has allowed the show to stay fresh in its 14th straight year. By just adding a few modern references, it feels like the entire show was written this year!  Also, the theater is small and intimate, which plays well with the monologue format.


Skip The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol this year and get tickets now for The Eight: Reindeer Monologues through December 23rd!


Quinn Delaney

Review: Evanescence at the Chicago Theatre (November 30, 2017)

Evanescence’s last scheduled performance in Chicago, on August 26, 2012 at Toyota Park was rained out. Thus, the Chicago crowd was very eager to see this New York band that doesn’t tour all that often. Adding to the excitement is the fact that they are joined by a full orchestra on stage, all dressed in black.


On “Bring Me To Life”, Amy Lee, the lead singer, showcases her voice. The audience can’t help but wish that they also used a male singer like they did on the album for parts of the song.  Later on, Amy explains that the meaning of the next song has changed over the years. Now, it is about you, the audience, she says, just before launching into My Immortal. “You still have… all of me.”


When she returns for the encore, the sheet music is already on the piano. She grabs and puts it to side saying “I don’t need this. I wrote this. I lived this.”

See the full setlist here.

If you are a fan of Evanescence, check out Lizzie, playing at the Den Theatre.

Copy and paste this code into a new Spotify playlist to play the setlist:

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Excellent Ensemble! Becky Shaw at Windy City Playhouse (December 8, 2017)

Suzanna Slater’s father has just passed away. Her mother, Susan (yes, this is a bit confusing), and her adopted brother, Max, are discussing new revelations about their father. Apparently, he didn’t handle his money very well. Also, he had a romantic relationship with his accountant.  Emotions are running high as this family tries to move forward while being brutally honest with each other.

Becky Shaw Production 3

The second scene flashes forward eight months. In this time, Suzanna met and married Andrew. Together they decide to set up his coworker, Becky Shaw, with her brother, Max. It’s clear from the get go that this isn’t a good match and things continue to spiral out of control from there.

The acting in this production is excellent. Michael Doonan plays Max perfectly as completely self-centered and without empathy to hilarious effect. Carley Cornelius is so funny as Becky Shaw, the coworker who is a little nuts. Michael Pogue does great playing the straight man, Andrew, among all these crazy people. Suzanne Petri is fantastic as Susan. Some of the best moments in the play are when she gives out advice so bluntly. Lastly, Amy Rubenstein is solid as Suzanna, trying to make everyone happy while she struggles to find happiness herself. They all work together excellently as an ensemble.

Becky Shaw Production 4

Becky Shaw is an odd choice for a title, since this is more of an ensemble play than just about any single character. Perhaps it should be called The Slaters instead.

Get tickets now for Becky Shaw through December 17th!

Quinn Delaney

Review: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Presents An Evening of Crystal Pite at The Harris Theatre (December 7, 2017)

A Picture of You Falling : Crystal Pite, Choreography

This piece features two dancers repeatedly falling. Over electronic music, a voice narrates the fall: knees, hip, elbow, shoulder, head. The narration is reminiscent of Stranger Than Fiction. In both cases, the spoken words describe the action exactly as it is happening in a calm female voice.

The excellent music composition for this work is by Owen Belton. It’s a very unique piece that is truly a work of art.


The Other You : Crystal Pite, Choreography

This piece also features music by Owen Belton along with “Moonlight Sonata”, aka Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 27 No 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is also another duet.

With this strategy of having all the pieces done by the same choreographer, you really get a sense for her style. But at the same time, it takes away from the variety that is usually a major component of a Hubbard Street show.

Get tickets for An Evening of Crystal Pite through Sunday, December 10th!

Crystal Pite's Grace Engine

12/6/17 4:40:50 PM — Chicago, IL, USA Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s winter season tech of Crystal Pite’s “Grace Engine.” © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017

Quinn Delaney

Fantastic! Broadway in Chicago Presents Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at Cadillac Palace Theatre (December 6, 2017)

Beautiful is a fantastic musical that begins with Carole King as a young determined songwriter and ends at Carnegie Hall with her as a confident composer and entertainer. The story encompasses her relationship with her husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin. This talented duo wrote dozens of songs together during their tumultuous relationship. In addition, it includes the story of fellow song writers Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, their best friends and friendly competitors. The musical chronicles Carol and Gerry’s relationship which hinges on an unexpected pregnancy and subsequent marriage. King and Goffin’s relationship is a sharp contrast to Weil and Mann.   Cynthia is very hesitant to marry Barry because she doesn’t want to lose her identity as his songwriting partner and just become his wife, raising kids. The drama of watching these developing relationships and comparing them with today’s view on marriage held the audience captive.

The show has many humorous moments. Among them is a scene in which Cynthia and Barry are struggling to compose their new song, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”.  Barry begins singing the song in a very lethargic and apathetic manner because he doesn’t like the song. Cynthia chimes in that it just needs to be song in a lower key. Cut to the Righteous Brothers singing in their signature low vocal: “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips”. This is a fantastic piece of theatre and it’s moments like this that add context to the songs by revealing the stories behind them.

The music is absolutely fantastic. After a few notes, each song is instantly recognizable. It’s amazing the number of big hits these two couples wrote and how many different artists have sung their songs including James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, and The Animals, just to name a few. Often the performers get all the credit, but this amazing musical showcases the noteworthy contributions of the songwriters.

Get tickets now for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical through January 28th!

Beautiful - k

Quinn Delaney

Beautiful - c

Impressive! Broadway in Chicago Presents Gobsmacked! at The Broadway Playhouse (December 5, 2017)

If you are a fan of Pitch Perfect, The Sing-Off or Glee, you’ll love Gobsmacked! The entire cast is very impressive. They all have great vocal range. The most impressive is Ball-Zee, the beatboxer. It’s amazing the sounds he can produce just using his vocal chords. It’s incredible when he holds one microphone against his throat and makes a beat while simultaneously beatboxing into another microphone. Here is the full setlist:



  1. Pump It


  1. Mr. Brightside


  1. Telephone


  1. Mans World


  1. Shape of You


  1. Mercy


  1. Rolling in the Deep / Crazy
  1. Life on Mars


  1. Gobsmacked




  1. Don’t Stop Me Now


  1. She Loves You


  1. Titanium


  1. Beat Box Solo


  1. Kiss


  1. Paint it Black
  1. Could It Be Magic


  1. Mash up


  1. Hey Jude


Get tickets now for Gobsmacked! through Sunday, December 10th!



Hilarious! Dream Freaks Fall From Space at The Second City (December 3, 2017)

This is a very musical cast. Jeffrey Murdoch plays the trumpet. Tyler Davis plays bass and guitar. Tien Tran (who was also in Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno) plays violin. Nate Varrone (the one who looks like Borat) plays drums. Kelsey Kinney (who was also in The Winner… of Our Discontent) rocks a tambourine. Ryan Asher sings. Together, they integrate these skills very smoothly into the show and it pays off in spades. Here are the Top 5 Moments from the show:

  • “Total Eclipse of the Heart” starts to play. A woman begins to singing it to a man of the left when a clown with a large knife approaches from behind her. In synch with the song, he continually begs her to “Turn Around”. Is this song  actually about a killer clown?
Dream Freaks Fall From Space

10/24/17 8:24:33 PM — The Second City 106th Review “Dream Freaks Fall From Space.” Featuring Tien Tran Nate Varrone Jeffrey Murdoch Ryan Asher Kelsey Kinney © Todd Rosenberg Photography

  • Everyone asks “Where’s Waldo?” But nobody asks, “How’s Waldo?”
  • “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago starts to play. A man begins to tell a story, in synch with the music. “I think it was the 4th of July.” The music stops and his friend interjects “It was the 5th of July!”
Dream Freaks Fall From Space

10/24/17 8:38:42 PM — The Second City 106th Review “Dream Freaks Fall From Space.” Featuring Tien Tran Nate Varrone Jeffrey Murdoch Ryan Asher Kelsey Kinney © Todd Rosenberg Photography

  • An audience member when prompted, “what is a small change in your life?”, says her kids leaving for college. Well, to most people that is a huge change!
Dream Freaks Fall From Space

10/24/17 9:30:58 PM — The Second City 106th Review “Dream Freaks Fall From Space.” Featuring Tien Tran Nate Varrone Jeffrey Murdoch Ryan Asher Kelsey Kinney © Todd Rosenberg Photography

  • All the cast members dancing with Trump masks. Comedic gold!


Get tickets now for Dream Freaks Fall From Space at Second City!

Quinn Delaney

Great Fun! Art Room Events Presents Speakeasy Murder Mystery at Red Lion Pub (December 1, 2017)

John Jones, the founder and owner of the Dil Pickle Club, has been murdered. All of his family and friends have been invited to his speakeasy to hear the reading of his will. Who will get a piece of his estate? Will it be his new wife or his ex-wife? Will it be his business partners at the club? Will it be his trusted lawyer and old friend?  And will the reporter or the detective be able answer the mystery of who killed John?


The participants of tonight’s group were fantastic as they all dressed in their 1920’s best.  The group fully embraced their characters and engaged in a whole lot of wheeling and dealing as they tried to gain information to solve the case and make some money.


The host did a fantastic job organizing and running the event.  It was very exciting as updates were revealed,  especially when someone else died! The new information presented ulterior motives and agendas which enhanced the fun in solving the mystery. The entire three hours flew by!


Sign up for a future Art Room Event today!

Quinn Delaney

Rock Arts! Cratchit at Shadowbox Live (November 26, 2017)

Everyone knows the story of Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. But the full story of Bob Cratchit is unknown… until now. This production expertly integrates rock songs to tell each character’s story. Early on, when Cratchit is going through some hard times, he sings “Fell On Black Days” by Soundgarden. “Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life. Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life.” It fits so well that it almost feels like the song was written for the show.

Later on, the bartender tells a story about her wife who left to go to the hollywood canyons after a fight. It leads perfectly into the lyrics of the next song, “A Long December” by Counting Crows. “And it’s one more day up in the canyons. And it’s one more night in Hollywood. If you think that I could be forgiven I wish you would.” It’s another fantastic fit.

On an interesting note, in this production, instead of Tiny Tim, it is Tiny Tina. The Goodman Theatre also has a girl playing this role for the first time in their 40 year run of A Christmas Carol.

Cratchit 3

According to the program, Shadowbox Live is the largest resident theatre company in America. They achieve this distinction by having all their actors do all aspects of their business, from marketing and box office to waiting tables and cleaning. It’s quite a fun experience when the actors come out in costume during intermission to serve drinks and desserts.

Get tickets now for Cratchit through December 23rd!