Post image for Film Review: AARDVARK (written and directed by Brian Shoaf / World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival)

AARDVARK IS OK, AND SO IS AARDVARK In Brian Shoaf’s dramedy Aardvark, Josh (Zachary Quinto) engages Emily (Jenny Slate) to be his therapist, pays her in cash, and tells her that he has a brother named Craig who performs on a long-running TV show and is “one of the great talents of his generation.” Later, when […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: NOT ABOUT NIGHTINGALES (Raven Theatre)

BEFORE ANY GLASS MENAGERIE, A PRISON SWEATBOX It’s not the “odor of mendacity” that wafts through this Tennessee Williams play—it’s more like the whiff of tear gas. The “kindness of strangers” that seldom surfaces in A Streetcar Named Desire is totally absent in its cruel cage. Not About Nightingales is just what the title implies: […]

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Post image for Opera Review: THE PERFECT AMERICAN (Chicago Opera Theater at the Harris Theater)

PERFECT IMPERFECTIONS Growing up on a steady diet of animated and live-action Disney films and in the shadow of the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, which I visited every year until I was 16, the magic and imagination of Walt Disney permeated my childhood, as it did so many others. Disney imagined worlds where anything […]

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Post image for Film Review: NOBODY’S WATCHING (NADIE NOS MIRA) (directed by Julia Solomonoff / World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival)

MANY WILL BE WATCHING In Julia Solomonoff’s latest film Nobody’s Watching (Nadie Nos Mira), Nico (a sympathetic Guillermo Pfening), an Argentine soap star who yearns to do serious work, comes to New York to play in an independent film. But with the production continually getting delayed he’s forced to work odd jobs—babysitter, waiter, apartment cleaner—to […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: 3C (A Red Orchid)

DISCO DESPAIR Now festering at Chicago’s A Red Orchid Theatre, 3C, David Adjmi’s 90-minute one-act, is perversely perky, as zany as a zombie. With rapid-fire non-sequiturs and six crazy/needy characters spouting stream-of-consciousness nonsense, it purports to subvert 70s’ sitcoms and “jiggle television” in general, skewering their excesses and, above all, denials. Perhaps the 70s sucked—but […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Concert Feature: IDOLS & ICONS (The 33rd [and final] S.T.A.G.E. at Saban Theatre)

COME SALUTE THE END OF AN ERA It’s a bit surreal, but the the theater community’s longest-running AIDS-related benefit is having its final fundraiser on Saturday May 13, 2017. The Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (best known by its acronym S.T.A.G.E.) will present its 33rd cavalcade of stars at the snazzy Art Deco-styled 1930 Saban Theatre […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (Chicago Shakespeare)

HAPPY HOAX OR LITERARY LARCENY? Can we really separate a creator from his art? Can our sense of Shakespeare feel more real to us than his characters do? These aren’t rhetorical questions: A 1998 screenplay by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, Shakespeare in Love takes more liberties than the Bill of Rights ever granted, utterly […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: QUEEN (Victory Gardens)

HIVE AGAINST HIVE Bees, it seems, are humming their last. In the future, honey could well be synthetic. Appropriately debuting on Earth Day weekend, this world premiere from Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater tackles many issues in 90 minutes: the fate of endangered honeybees around the world; the purity of scientific research; the moral dilemma of […]

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Post image for Film Review: SUPER DARK TIMES (directed by Kevin Phillips / North American Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival)

SUPER DARK TIMES LOSES ITS WAY, BUT STAND BY DIRECTOR KEVIN PHILLIPS It’s the case nearly every time that if at the beginning of a movie a mistake is made, even one that seems trivial and is in and of itself completely forgivable, as the film progresses bigger and bigger flaws will reveal themselves until […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Dance Preview: MATTHEW BOURNE’S EARLY ADVENTURES (The Wallis in Beverly Hills)

THE EARLY BIRD GETS TICKETS NOW Touring internationally for the first part of the year, Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures—a program of the newly knighted choreographer’s first works—will have one U.S. appearance. And it’s right here in Los Angeles for one weekend only, May 17-21, 2017, at the Wallis in Beverly Hills. One of the greatest […]

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