Post image for Los Angeles Music Review: BEHZOD ABDURAIMOV & JUANJO MENA (LA Phil at Disney Hall)

ABDURAIMOV TRIUMPHS IN DISNEY HALL DEBUT In the past five years, I have encountered only a handful of fresh-to-the-scene soloists who completely enraptured—those who combine the old-school magnetic quality of superlative technique with energetic experimentation, soul, and discovery. Among the electrifying performers that have made me literally lean forward in my seat are cellist Alisa […]


Post image for Chicago Theater Review: AMAZING GRACE (Pre-Broadway World Premiere at Bank of America Theatre)

GRACE TO THE FINISH John Newton (1725-1807) was many things: a slave trader, a sailor and a clergyman. Yet today he is chiefly remembered as the author of “Amazing Grace,” perhaps the most well-known and beloved of English hymns. In the new musical Amazing Grace, Christopher Smith (book, music, and lyrics) and co-librettist Arthur Giron tell […]


Post image for Chicago Theater Review: PARADE (BoHo Theatre)

IN SOME WAYS, THIS PARADE PASSED ITSELF BY First performed in Chicago by Bailiwick Repertory, now dutifully revived by BoHo Theatre, the potentially pile-driving Parade by bookwriter Alfred Uhry and composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown reprises an ugly and evergreen tragedy. Their driven musical chronicles the reflexive racism that, a century ago, doomed a suspect stranger. Here […]


Post image for Chicago Theater Review: ANIMAL FARM (Steppenwolf)

THE FARM-TO-FABLE REVOLUTION IS HERE One of the most extraordinary things about George Orwell’s novels is their prophetic power; they are perhaps even more relevant now than when he wrote them. Thus, it is incredibly timely that Steppenwolf for Young Adults should mount the present production of Animal Farm. Instead of reading it in light […]


Post image for Chicago Dance & Theater Review: THE ART OF FALLING (Hubbard Street & The Second City)

LEAPS AND LAUGHS: A STRANGE AMALGAM It’s a worthy experiment, even if the eclectic results seem maddeningly inconclusive. For three more performances, two very different Chicago arts troupes share the same Harris Theater stage in a curious merger of movement and comedy. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and The Second City, bastions of contemporary dance and […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Music & Film Preview: THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC & VOICES OF LIGHT (Los Angeles Master Chorale at Disney Hall)

THE VOICES OF LIGHT AND PASSION OF LAMC Considered to be one of the greatest films of all time, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, a 1928 silent French film based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc, opened to rave reviews, but the actual footage was plagued for […]


Swan Lake at The Joffrey Ballet - POSTER

A DREAM WITHIN A DANCE Borrowed from the Pennsylvania Ballet, Joffrey Ballet’s latest offering (running through Oct. 26 at the Auditorium Theatre) is not your usual Swan Lake. Not to be compared with the Trocks’ respectful travesty, the original 1877 production by the Bolshoi, or the psychodrama of the film Black Swan, Christopher Wheeldon’s invigorating […]


Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: FOREVER (Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City)

ORLANDERSMITH CAN SEE FOREVER There is a timeless quality to stories about families, particularly families riddled with alcoholism, drug addiction, bitterness, hatred, sadness, and lost dreams. Whether in the canon of literature (O’Neill anyone?) or through personal experience held close to a shamed soul, these tales have a “forever” quality. Which brings us to Forever, Dael […]


Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THE SUBMISSION (Pride Films and Plays at the Apollo Studio Theatre)

STEALING CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE The Submission is a devious, double-edged title for Jeff Talbott’s equally transgressive play. It refers both to the cold (as in out-of-nowhere) entry of a script for production consideration in the prestigious Humana Festival, and to the endgame of an ugly quest for dominance between a black actress and a […]


Post image for Off-Broadway Theater Review: JACUZZI (Ars Nova)

WARM TUB The lights come up on a couple, Helene (Hannah Bos) and Derek (Paul Thureen), reading in a Jacuzzi, inside a cozy Colorado skiing cabin one cold winter evening sometimes in the 1980s. They’ve made themselves at home, yet a certain unmoored quality about them suggests that they don’t quite belong. Suddenly a young […]