Reopening in three rooms marked by reflections on the broader past | Chicago News

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RENT 20th Anniversary Tour Company RENT 20th Anniversary Tour (Credit Amy Boyle 2019).

Among the shows that marked the resurgence of live theaters in Chicago are three very different musical pieces set up differently over the last 30 years of the 20th century. But these spectacles also seem to be vividly refracted through the many turbulent prisms of this moment. As seen today, the pandemic is still in hiding, and masked and vaccinated audiences and closely watched artists are delighted to resume live performances after a tense 19-month period. Also, at the time of original conception, the result is an interesting diplopia.

“to rent”

25th Anniversary Tour Production Broadway at the CIBC Theater in Chicago, Son Calpe Dime, the theme of life at that time, “rent” makes the most direct use of this aforementioned phenomenon.

A hit musical with books, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, opened on Broadway in 1996 and quickly made its way to Broadway.

Puccini’s beloved opera “La Bohème” had a hip twist in the Alphabet City neighborhood of Manhattan’s Lower East Side before the late 1980s Millennials. HIV / AIDS makes this sacrifice, and the threat of gentrification rests on struggling artists and others who are already one step away from homelessness.

The choice to “rent” to indicate the resurgence of a commercial theater in the loop seems so far tailor-made. The iconic song “Seasons of Love” is approximately 822,900 minutes long when we measure the time lost in the live theater during the pandemic, and calculate “52,500 minutes” per year. And live your life to the fullest, as Larson’s words “only now” put it.

Based on the original work by Michael Greif, the current work is directed by Evan Ensign and choreographed by Marlies Mirrlees. It’s full of radical performers who are clearly delighted to welcome the audience, as well as a wonderful five-piece orchestra on stage led by keyboardist Matthew Demaria.

A huge scrap metal sculpture hangs above the stage, suggesting a moody, unheated loft inhabited by emotionally troubled HIV-positive songwriter Roger Davis (Coleman Cummings). Make. Her HIV-positive neighbors are young strip dancer and drug addict Mimi Marquez (dynamic acrobatic Ayanas Smash) and Roommate documentary maker Mark Cohen (Cody Jenkins) who captured the scene. Cohen’s ex-girlfriend and provocative performance artist Maureen (Lindy Moe) ditched him for her lesbian lawyer / manager Joan (Lalagarsuke).

Also part of the community is Tom Collins (Shafiq Hicks), an intelligent, chaotic and caring teacher who lives with AIDS. Angel (Jabin King), a sick and dying sexy drag queen. Benjamin Coffin III (Jared Bed Good) sells his friends as the new rich owner of Loftville.

“Rent” is a better rate for theaters slightly smaller than CIBC. The powerful amplification of this piece works in some scenes, but the show undermines the intimacy of other scenes and blurs a significant portion of the lyrics.

Tickets: broadwayinchicago.com. The final performance will take place on October 10 at 7:30 p.m.

see: Chicago Broadway officially returns to Rent’s 25th anniversary farewell tour

From left to right: Nora Navarro, Matthew Hunter, Eustas J. Williams, Emily Goldberg. (Credit Liz Lauren)

“Song for the New World

An important key to Cabaret Théoubic TheaterThe success since its creation in 1997 has been the intense intimacy of the space. Often, performers and spectators are only a few inches apart. And the relatively new house on the Chicago-Evanston border follows that tradition, despite some reduced ability of the public to adhere to all current security protocols and maintain safe distances. I continue.

For the reopening of the theater, artistic director Fred Ansevino wrote the cycle of dramatic songs “Songs For a” for two men and two women by Jason Robert Brown, first produced in 1995. I turned my attention to ” New World ”. Similar to “Rent,” different characters are defined, mostly by the city and those little ones a thousand years ago, with around 20 songs in the show that deftly suggest different personalities, social backgrounds, romantic relationships, and musical styles. There is a feeling that every moment and every place of the musical drama can be easily seen through the emotionally confusing filter of that moment.

Under the fluid and energetic interpretation of Anzevino and choreographer Jamal Howard, there are numerous physical casts of four intense voices by Clarion (Noranavaro, Emily Goldberg, Eustis J. Williams, Matthew Hunter). A crisis with several stools and bars integrated into the theater that suggests personality, relationships and life. And they are well supported by musical directors Jeremy Ramie (piano) and Rior Schlag (percussionist) seated behind the screen.

Brown’s score goes from pop, gospel and jazz to the Broadway belt and ingenious parody of Kurt Weill, changing styles easily and often. And the performers are faced with various crises in life, from a woman breaking up a couple to another woman whom she declares “not afraid of anything” to a man who looks at the calm people around him and asks the Lord. To show mercy and stop their suffering too. “Stars and the Moon,” one of the composer’s most played songs, is also part of the show’s mix. Women find that although they have many opportunities for true happiness with the dreamer type, they stupidly choose to get married. A man who could only offer her a financially rich life.

If there is one reservation for this talented show, it is that it is over-amplified as “rent”. In this ideal space where privacy is the essence, less is much more.

“Song of the New World” will be held until October 24th. Food and drink, a long-standing feature of the theater, are not required, but will continue to be available.


From left to right: Tiffany Solano (Lucha), Molly Hernandez (Isabel), Amanda Raquel Martinez (Gabby), Gloria Bibika Benavides (Soila), Christopher Lewin Ramirez (Mateo), Lucy Godines (Boli), Henry Godines at the Goodman Theater, directed by José Cruz Gonzalez, from September 18 to 24, 2021 (Credit Liz Lauren) From left to right: Tiffany Solano (Lucha), Molly Hernandez (Isabel), Amanda Raquel Martinez (Gabby), Gloria Bibika Benavides (Soila), Christopher Lewin Ramirez (Mateo), Lucy Godines (Boli), Henry Godines at the Goodman Theater, directed by José Cruz Gonzalez, from September 18 to 24, 2021 (Credit Liz Lauren)

“American Mariachi”

Goodman Theater We’re back with a live performance with “American Mariachi” by José Cruz Gonzalez.

This work, unlike today’s MeToo movement, is taking place among members of the Latin family, just as the rapidly growing feminist revolution of the 1970s took root. He was hardly trained musically, deciding to form an all-female group, boldly ignoring the long tradition of angry fathers, oppressive husbands and, most importantly, all-male mariachi bands. Weaving the story of a group of women. The work of director Henry Godines oscillates between familiar but tragic family dramas and an often too widespread use of farce.

Some of the show’s most exhilarating moments – and I wish for more – all feature great male musicians. Ensemble Sones from Mexico to ChicagoThe ensemble, dressed in traditional black clothing decorated with silver, stands in front of a spectacular black-walled structure designed by Lindab Cannan and beautifully illuminated by Maria Christina Fuste, to bring the real thing to life. I will play.

At the heart of the story is Luca (Tiffany Solano), who seeks to balance her search demands with her emotionally intense duty of care for her mother Amalia (Gigi Cervantes). Amalia suffers from dementia and needs to be carefully monitored.

Luca’s father, Federico (Ricardo Gutierrez), works as a mariachi musician. However, Federico carries a long streak of jealousy and anger associated with the old false belief that Luca had a relationship with his friend at the time, the owner of a music store, Mino (Bobby Plasencia). .. It turns out that it was Mino who recorded the song Amalia loved many years ago, but now the sound of this recording easily reminds me of Amalia. The four actors will play with a lot of nuance.

When Federico destroys the record, Luca has his daringly unbridled cousin, Boli (Lucy Godines), a mariachi band of all women who can play songs on irreplaceable records for which the mother always responds. You will be prompted to start.

Lucha and Boli are looking for the most unlikely members of the group, and no one can play the instruments they need, so the prank begins here. They include Molly Hernandez in a nice twist as Isabel, a talented church choir singer oppressed by her obnoxiously ruled husband. Gloria Bibika Benavidez, who plays the role of Sora, the owner of a beauty salon with a big personality. And Amanda Raquel Martinez as Gabby, an almost ignorant nerdy girl. Of course, there is no doubt what happened to all of this, nor that real Mariachi musicians (Fandice, Victor Picardo, Zabbe Picardo, Rudolfo “Rudi” Pinon, Giovanni Garcia) are returning to the stage. . Its really fun.

“American Mariachi” will run until October 24.

see: Goodman Theater ‘American Mariachi Examines Music as a Healing Tool

Follow Hedy Weiss on Twitter: @HedyWeissCritic


Reopening in three rooms marked by reflections on the broader past | Chicago News

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