Monthly Archives: March 2019

Engrossing! José González and The String Theory at The Chicago Theatre (March 28, 2019)

When they said Jose Gonzalez was touring with an orchestra, they meant it! They filled the giant stage at The Chicago Theatre with musicians. They even had a conductor who at one point played a power drill. It was an engrossing experience that drew you in and then suddenly it was two hours later!

Most orchestras don’t do encores, but this one did. Every single one of them got up and left the stage, and then returned shortly after. They closed the night with the fantastic Leaf Off / The Cave. It’s a beautiful song with González’s voice and his great guitar playing. Adding in a full orchestra makes it even better!

Here is the full lineup:

Orchestra conducted by PC Nackt.

Guitar & Vocals by José González.

Flutes by Marta Torkilsdóttir Johannes and Agata Tuchołka.

Bass clarinet by Andreas Thurfjell.

Trumpet by Erik Rosenkvist.

French Horn & Trumpet by Stephanie Deckers.

Trombone by Erik Dahl.

Violins by Karin Hagström, Emelie Molander and Robert Marberg.

Violin & Sound effects by Christoph “Mäcki” Hamann.

Violas by Elke Brauweiler and Lina Molander.

Cellos by Frédérique Labbow, Maja Molander and Katarina Palm.

Percussion & Sound effects by Daniel Schröteler and Ben Lauber

Percussion by Andres Renteria.

Piano & Keyboards by Nils Tegen.

Electric guitar & Backing vocals by Sebastian Gäbel.

Backing vocals by Nathalie Barusta, Chérie and Monika Humienna

Catch José González and The String Theory on tour now!

Quinn Delaney

Midwest Americana! Red Wanting Blue at Subterranean (March 27, 2019)

Red Wanting Blue are from Columbus, Ohio, the 14th largest city in the US. They have been playing their brand of Americana for 22 years. After playing the City Winery last year, the lead singer was looking to play a rock club in Chicago this time. He remembered playing at Subterranean 13 years ago with his uncle in the crowd. His uncle complained that it was too loud. That’s the place he wanted to play! Here are some of the top moments.

“Younger Years” is a great singalong song. “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” “I don’t know! I don’t know!” It gets the crowd going early on and they maintain this energy throughout the show.

“You Are My Las Vegas” is a crowd favorite. It’s a joyfully fun song that puts a smile on everyone’s face. “What are the odds that you’re going home with me, real soon?”

“This is the End” is a great track from their latest album, the Will Hoge produced The Wanting. “Cause we both know, this is not the beginning, this is the end.” It occupies the space they have cornered, the beautiful melancholic.

They launch into “My Name is Death”. It’s a fantastically cool tune from the point of view of the Grim Reaper. “I’m the baddest motherfucker you’ll ever meet” sings the audience gleefully.

Catch Red Wanting Blue on tour now!

Cost of a ticket: $19
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Excellent Acting! Landladies at Northlight Theatre (Through April 20, 2019)

Christine is a single mother working at Casa Taco House. She lives in a dump of an apartment where the landlady, Marti, doesn’t fix anything. Her boyfriend is a drunk struggling to stay sober. When she starts to work for Marti, things start to look up for her leading to an exciting climax.

Unfortunately, the resolution to this climax is quite unsatisfying. A long time jump takes place that comes out of nowhere without an intermission break. The whole final scene just seems out of place with the rest of the play.

The set is very impressive. Walls slide in and out transforming the stage from one apartment to another. A couch flips into a wall. A stove appears out of nowhere. A giant hole in the floor features prominently.

Screenshot_2019-03-25 Landladies Northlight Theatre(1)

Also, the acting in this production is excellent. Leah Karpel is solid as the young mother trying to provide a good life for her daughter. Shanesia Davis is strong as a landlady trying to be nice to her tenants while focusing on growing her business. Lastly, Julian Parker (Pass Over) is hilarious as the deadbeat boyfriend.
Get tickets now for Landladies through April 20th!


Cost of a ticket: $60
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Excellence! Giordano Dance Chicago at Harris Theater (March 23, 2019)

Sneaky Pete (2018)
Choreography by Brock Clawson
One small flashlight in the large dark theatre appears on the side of the stage.  A man humorously sneaks across the front of the curtain with the small light in silence. The following dance features him being chased around the stage as “I Will Follow You” by Abel Korzeniowski plays. By the way, Sneaky Pete is not a reference to the Amazon show of the same name.
Flickers (World Premiere)
Choreography by Marinda Davis
This piece is about chasing flickers of light amid the darkness. It begins with the dancers legs running in the air as the light flickers. “Change is Everything” by Son Lux plays as they move across the stage. “This moment changes everything” sings the lead singer in the song. The music matches the dancing quite well.
Alloy (2011)
Choreography by Autumn Eckman
The dancers in this piece are Maeghan McHale and Devin Buchanan. This is their finale performance with Giordano Dance. It makes this romantic duet all the more special as they dance beautifully to Beethoven.

SOUL (2018)Choreography by Ray Leeper (So You Think You Can Dance)

Music: Tina Turner – Proud Mary

This piece is fun, soulful and energetic, just like Ray Leeper’s work on So You Think You Can Dance. It has mass appeal and truly matches the spirit of this iconic song. After the curtain call, the dancers come out and dance in the aisles in a great immersive finale.

Cost of a ticket: $55
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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


Catch Giordano Dance at Dance For Life at the Auditorium Theatre on August 17, 2019!

Quinn Delaney

A Great Voice! Tyson Motsenbocker Opening for Colony House and Switchfoot at House of Blues Houston (March 16, 2019)

As Tyson Motsenbocker sings, it quickly becomes clear that he has a great voice. With just a microphone and his acoustic guitar, he fills the House of Blues with his beautiful music. He draws you in with his charm and his comfort on stage. Before you know it, his short 30 minute set is over.
After Colony House performs, he returns to the stage to talk about the charity he supports, Food for the Hungry. With them, he traveled to Bangladesh with Switchfoot as a volunteer to help the children there break the cycle of poverty.
During Switchfoot’s encore, he returned again to help sing “Native Tongue”. It’s clear he has bonded with the band and they have brought him in under their wing.
Quinn Delaney

Review: A Bronx Tale at The James M. Nederlander Theatre (Through March 24, 2019)

There’s a reason this show was completely snubbed by the Tonys and received zero nominations. It’s a dud. Let’s start with the good. The dancing is high-energy, acrobatic and a thrill to see. Richard H. Blake, who originated the role of Lorenzo, turns in a notable performance. But that’s it. The book is terrible. The songs are instantly forgettable. Every joke lands flat. The plot is thin and tired.

The show’s marketing clings to a quote that bills the show as “a combination of ‘Jersey Boys’ and ‘West Side Story,’” a lazy observation based on the fact that there are men crooning under street lamps and an interracial love story. But the show does not even tangentially approach the level of quality of either musical. Or whereas “Guys and Dolls” gives us the timeless “Luck Be a Lady,” this show gives us the painful “Roll ‘Em” with lyrics like “shut your trap or get in the crapper.”


If you loved the film version of the story and you never see musicals, go ahead and buy a ticket. Otherwise, save your money.


e Webster Avenue

Get tickets for A Bronx Tale through March 24th.
Cost of a ticket: $33 to $94
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Don’t Bother
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

g Belmont Avenue - women and men

Dramatic and Funny! The Humans at Alley Theatre in Houston (Through March 24, 2019)

The Humans is about a family gathering in New York City on Thanksgiving. They are celebrating at the new duplex of the daughter and her boyfriend. Her mother is upset that they are moving in together before they are married. Her father doesn’t seem to mind, but he has a secret that he is very hesitant to share. Her sister has a chronic illness that caused her to lose her job and maybe her girlfriend too. Lastly, the grandmother is suffering from dementia.


Given the magnitude of the various interpersonal dynamics between the characters and the life complexities they are faced with, this play results in a stimulating experience for the audience. Additionally, it is also packed with continuous humor. It’s a real slice of life play that draws you in slowly with great dialog and excellent acting. The two-story set excellently recreates a duplex in Manhattan. The sounds of the neighbors and the trash compactor set the scene very well. While the title at first seems quite generic, it actually describes the play quite well in its simplicity.

Alley Theatre - The Humans - 2019 - Photographer Lynn Lane-23_EDITED

When the boyfriend mentions that this is quite a Thanksgiving experience, the mother says that he should just wait for Christmas! Here’s hoping for a sequel that invites the audience back for that dinner! This winner of the Tony Award for Best Play in 2016 surely deserves it.

Alley Theatre - The Humans - 2019 - Photographer Lynn Lane-42

Get tickets now for The Humans through March 24th!

Cost of a ticket: $40
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Review: The Gift Theatre Presents Doubt at Steppenwolf Theatre (Through March 31, 2019)

A nun suspects the priest is engaging in inappropriate behavior with an altar boy. After the boy met with the priest, his breath smelled of alcohol and he acted strangely. The priest completely denies these allegations. The nun wonders what to do with this limited evidence. Is he innocent until proven guilty or is a suspicious circumstance enough to evict him?


Trailer for the 2008 film version featuring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman

In this performance, Mary Ann Thebus plays the nun. She is often holding a script. She has had trouble remembering the lines due to medication she is currently on. They do have an understudy. While her passion for theatre is admirable as it allows her to preserve through these difficulties, in tonight’s production, the director should have utilized the understudy as it caused too much distraction impacting the quality of the performance. On the other hand, Michael Patrick Thornton is fantastic as the accused priest. His acting style is so smooth and he draws in attention expertly.


The setup is very intimate in Steppenwolf’s smallest stage. The audience is split into two sets of seating areas with the stage in between. For those in the 2nd row or further back, their view is partially blocked by other people. In multiple scenes, the actors stand at opposite ends of the stage talking to each other. The audience is forced to swivel their heads back and forth like a tennis match. This could have been set up much better.


Despite the issues, the powerful script by John Patrick Shanley shines through. It’s still a good show, but it could have been much better.

Get tickets now for Doubt through March 31st.

Cost of a ticket: $58

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price +

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


Quinn Delaney

Aaron Neville at City Winery Chicago (March 4, 2019)

Aaron Neville’s set consists of mostly covers including “Stand By Me”, “Killing Me Softly”,  “Just the Way You Are”, and “Georgia”. For just about every song, he cuts it off short. Perhaps this is to get more songs in? Also, within the songs, he cuts each note short. It’s especially evident during “Tell It Like It Is” when the audience is still singing a note and he has stopped. During a few moments, you can hear his iconic voice, but these are few and far between.

On this tour he is accompanied by Michael Goods on piano. He is a talented musician, but he shows no emotion at all while playing. Even during his great solos, his head is down with no expression on his face.

Suffice it to say, this show was a bit disappointing.


Cost of a ticket: $75 – $95

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Go for Free

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

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Quinn Delaney

Beautiful! Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Malpaso Dance Company at Auditorium Theatre (March 2, 2019)

Cloudline (2017)

Choreography by Robyn Mineko Williams

This fantastic piece features a giant billowing sheet that the performers constantly move up and down creating a cloudline appearance. The dancers move around smoothly as if they are dancing in the clouds. It’s such a romantic image. You could also say the couples are dancing between the sheets.


Elemental (World Premier)

Choreography by Robyn Mineko Williams

This dance is a beautiful piece of art. It creates a raw feeling of humans moving with their animal instincts in an elemental fashion. The performers move with such grace that it creates a sense of peace. The choreographer traveled to Havana, Cuba to work with the Malpaso Dance Company to create this dance. As she says, “The piece is a true representation of the cultural exchange that this process has been.”

Malpaso Dance Company, photo by Cheryl Mann (6)

© Rachel Aka Photography 2019

Get tickets now for the Summer Series at the Harris Theatre, June 6, 8, and 9!

Quinn Delaney