Evanston's Next Theatre Company has announced its three-play lineup for the 2013–14 season, to include Compulsion by Rinne Groff, Luck of the Irish by Kirsten Greenidge and The Great God Pan by Amy Herzog.
Groff's Compulsion (October 10–November 17) is a fictionalized take on the writer Meyer Levin's obsessive professional relationship with the diary of Anne Frank. Devon de Mayo, who helmed the U.S. stage premiere of Everything Is Illuminated at Next earlier this year, returns to direct. Greenidge's Luck of the Irish (January 16–February 23), about a black couple in 1950s Boston engaging an Irish family to "ghost-buy" a house in a white neighborhood, will be staged by Damon Kiely.
Herzog, meanwhile, is emerging as a major force: The Brooklyn-based playwright's 4000 Miles, which was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize last month, will be staged at Northlight Theatre in the fall, while Steppenwolf is set to mount her Belleville next month. The Great God Pan (April 3–May 11), about a man receiving troubling news of a possible childhood trauma of which he has no memory, will be directed by Kimberly Senior, who staged Herzog's After the Revolution at Next last year.
Andrea Pitzer Pitzer reads from and signs copies of her book, The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov, which takes a close look at the life and work of the enigmatic Russian author. The Book Cellar. 7pm.
Oh Land + High Highs Oh Land has been likened to Björk, Florence and the Machine, Kylie Minogue and Portishead. In truth, the Dane's none of the above, but those names give you a sense of her stylistic tics, as well as her massive potential. Lincoln Hall. 7pm. $15.
Fashion 2013 Fashion Design students from the School of the Art Institute Chicago show off all they learned in class with a runway show featuring 300 garments. Seniors show five complete looks, juniors show three, and sophomores present one avant-garde look—all on a long runway inside a 15,000-square-foot tent on Millennium Park's Chase Promenade. The 9am show ($40) is a dress rehearsal; the noon and 3pm shows ($75) are the real deal. Get tickets at saicfashion.org or at the door. Millennium Park Chase Promenade North. 9am, Noon, 3pm. $40–$75.
For all the summer music fests we have in Chicago, North Coast Music Festival still serves a purpose. The annual Labor Day weekend event in Union Park leans more hip-hop, jam and electro, a mixture untouched by Pitchfork and Lollapalooza.
Case in point: The 2013 iteration welcomes Wu-Tang Clan, Afrojack and Big Gigantic as headliners. Rappers Nas and Mac Miller sit alongside Gary Clark Jr. and the Disco Biscuits on the bill. Two gems to note: Purity Ring, who has a couple sold-out shows at Metro tomorrow, and AlunaGeorge, a seductive neo-trip-hop act from the U.K. that we adore.
The first wave of acts includes: Wu-Tang Clan, Afrojack, Big Gigantic, Nas, the Disco Biscuits, Lotus, Mac Miller, Gary Clark Jr., Rebelution, Purity Ring, Laidback Luke, Datsik, Madeon, Paper Diamond, Skream, Claude VonStroke, RL Grime, Aloe Blacc, AlunaGeorge, Just Blaze, Capital Cities, JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, El Ten Eleven, Cherub, Poolside, Flatbush Zombies, ON AN ON, Thibault, K.Flay (read our feature on the Wilmette native here) and Dean Cohen.
Three-day passes for the Aug 30–Sept 1 event are currently $120. Click here for tickets.
ART & DESIGN
"Lossless: an analog investigation of a digital ideal." Collages by Jordan Martins, Matthew Schlagbaum's sculptures and Theo Darst's prints explore the ways images and other bits of digital information degrade as they're passed around. Chicago Artists' Coalition. 9am–5pm.
The Encyclopedia Show Robbie Q. Telfer and Shanny Jean Maney host this show, which challenges poets and performers to craft entries for a new kind of reference book. For each show, the hosts pick a theme, and the writers must create a piece on that topic. Tonight's theme is nothing less than "The Origin of Life." Vittum Theater. 7:30pm. $9, students $6.
Event Info: (773) 342-4141, encyclopediashow.com.
James Blake (DJ set) Considering all his stunning piano balladry, it's oddly easy to overlook that first and foremost Blake is a master technician of pretty, minimalist dubstep. Expect him to aim for the gut after shooting for the heart at his upstairs Metro gig. Smart Bar. 10pm. $12, after midnight $15, with Metro wristband $5, students or before 11pm with R.S.V.P. $7.
GAY & LESBIAN
FKA We don't know if they're painting smiles on people's faces at the door or if they're mixing something into the booze, but everyone seems to be in a good mood at this energetic and inclusive queer party that's been going strong for six years now. Big Chicks. 9pm.
Lucius + Tall Tall Trees Often we've dreamed of the two girls from Dirty Projectors ditching their artsy-fartsy bandleader and harmonizing in pretty, sunny, drum-beating pop tunes. Brooklyn's Lucius comes pretty damn close. Schubas. 8pm. $12, advance $10.
1. The Whale
Samuel D. Hunter's small-town tale portrays a morbidly obese, infinitely depressed man (a breathtaking performance by Dale Calandra) who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter while he still can. Joanie D. Schultz's spare, heartfelt production closes May 5. Read my five-star review and get tickets while you can.
Savage, hysterical and often repulsive, Jason Grote's play takes the suburban family drama to grotesque extremes. A family tries to throw a birthday party for their Grandma Ruthie (Susan Monts-Bologna) but must face the secrets they’ve kept buried. The familiar deep dark mysteries here take the form of a shape-shifting, soda-guzzling, German-speaking monster. Sideshow Theatre Company's production, featuring uniformly brilliant performances, closes May 5; read our full review.
Itamar Moses’s academic romcom deftly blends relationships with research. Elliott (Matt Holzfeind) and Molly (Kristina Valada-Viars) are graduate students at the same college. When the two meet-cute in a campus computer lab, Elliott offers to build Molly an algorithm to help refine her data for a research project. Jeremy Wechsler’s smart, handsome staging, with a sleek set by Joe Schermoly and video design by Michael Stanfill, rides the line between sensual and cerebral. The charismatic Holzfeind and Valada-Viars parlay higher math and genome mapping into persuasive pillow talk, demonstrating proficiency in yet another scientific discipline: chemistry. Closes May 4; read my full review.
4. Othello: The Remix
In their latest hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare’s work, the Q Brothers and their co-conspirators, Postell Pringle and Jackson Doran (all ably backed by DJ Clayton Stamper), translate the Moor’s tale to the modern music industry. Though compressed and refreshed, both story and wordplay find rich parallels with the original text. The choice to keep Desdemona heard but not seen yields chilling returns in a murder scene that silences the beats—including our hearts’. Read my full review.
…where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain! The Lyric tackles its first of five annual Rodgers and Hammerstein productions, starting with "the musical that changed musicals—the show that set the bar for all musicals that followed," as director Gary Griffin puts it. This is not exactly rescuing gems from obscurity, but a way to bridge audiences in the opera and theater worlds. More power to them. John Cudia stars as cowboy Curly McLain in his Lyric debut. Wait, does this mean we can wear flannel and denim to the opera house? Opens May 4.
Eat to the Beat: The Seldoms At this popular series, you can BYOL (lunch) to enjoy during the performance. Choreographed by Carrie Hanson, today's performance is a humorous and insightful dance theater work showcasing the various responses people have to climate change—ranging from indifference to denial to panic. Harris Theater. Noon. Free.
RUI: Reading Under the Influence At this rowdy monthly series, readers take shots before reading their own stories and offer up trivia about the work of famous authors. Tonight, the series celebrates its eighth anniversary, so eight gr8 current and former staff members read under the influence: Julia Borcherts, Rob Duffer, Amy Guth, Carly Huegelmann, Jesse Jordan, Bronwyn Mead, Jon Natzke and Erin Nederbo. Frankie Migacz and Behnam Riahi host. Bottoms up! Sheffield's. 7:30pm. $3.
Sound Opinions at the Movies: Wattstax Dir. Mel Stuart. 1973. 103mins. Documentary. Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, the hosts of NPR's rock talk show Sound Opinions, present this seminal concert film, shot at the titular 1972 music festival in Los Angeles, which mixes performance clips from artists like Isaac Hayes and Albert King with stand-up from Richard Pryor. The legacy of the 1965 Watts riots looms large over the celebratory proceedings. Music Box. 7:30pm. $10, advance $9.
Big Boi + Killer Mike Playing the Pitchfork Music Festival messed with his steez. Big Boi, who has been setting hip-hop trends for ages with Outkast, suddenly got the notion to inject indie flavors-of-the-month into his clever Southern bounce. Last year's Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors stuffed its guest list with middle-tier festival acts like Phantogram, Wavves and Little Dragon to varying degrees of success. Still, he remains one of the great voices in the game and his live show is on point thanks to those big festival stages. Add fellow ATLien "Killer" Mike Render and his Ice Cube–like flow and you have a must-see rap gig. Park West. 8pm. $27.
Ivywild: The True Tall Tales of Bathhouse John Jay Torrence's new show for the Hypocrites whimsically explores the true story of early-20th-century First Ward Ald. "Bathhouse John" Coughlin and "Hinky Dink" Kenna and their graft-fueled quest to build an amusement park in Colorado. Chopin Theatre. Wed–Sat 7:30pm; Sun 3pm. $28.
Get your hashtags ready: Following long runs of its Jersey Shore: The Musical and It's a Wonderful Pro-Life, 4 Days Late Productions mounts an expanded version of the tech-obsessed sketch show it debuted at January's Sketchfest. Studio BE. Sat 10pm. $15.
2. The Tomkat Project
Seven actors dazzle in the role of more than 50 characters in Brandon Ogborn's exhilarating new comedy about celebrity culture where fact and fiction blur seamlessly together. It continues Wednesdays through May. Playground Theater. Wed 8pm. $15.
3. The Lincoln Lodge
The country's longest continuously operating home for alt comedy continues to be a fine place to see emerging stand-ups in a vintage banquet room with servers old enough to call you honey and get away with it. This week's lineup features Matt Riggs, Derek Smith, Candy Lawrence, Joe Kwaczala and TV Screams. The Lincoln Lodge. Fri 9pm. $10.
4. Let Them Eat Chaos
In the Second City's 101st Mainstage revue, an ensemble consisting of veteran performers Edgar Blackmon, Holly Laurent, Katie Rich and Steve Waltien and Mainstage newcomers Ross Bryant and Tawny Newsome leaves Chicago behind in favor of a space- and time-bending revue that loops in Vienna circa 1819, the opening of the Panama Canal, the distant future and more. Let Them Eat Chaos crackles with new ideas and spirited risks, if not necessarily the anarchy and disruption suggested by the title. The Second City. Tue–Thu 8pm; Fri, Sat 8, 11pm; Sun 7pm. $23–$28.
5. Bye Bye Liver: The Chicago Drinking Play
Drinking games and boozy high jinks rule at this night of interactive comedy, now in its new home. The Public House Theater. Fri, Sat 8, 10pm. $20.
The producers behind RAIN—A Tribute to the Beatles and other such tribute-concert spectacles (Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, PFX—The Pink Floyd Experience) are ready to offer you another "experience." The Australian Bee Gees Show, which has been running in Las Vegas (natch) for over two years, will bring its impressions of the Brothers Gibb to the Broadway Playhouse for a four-week summer run, July 9–August 4. See broadwayinchicago.com for ticket info.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, first seen here in 2010, received five Tony Award nominations this morning for its Broadway transfer. Three of the four cast members were nominated, including Amy Morton for lead actress in a play, Tracy Letts for lead actor, and Carrie Coon for featured actress. The show also received nominations for best revival of a play and for director Pam McKinnon. Steppenwolf ensemble member Laurie Metcalf was also nominated in the same category as Morton, for her work in The Other Place.
The new musical Kinky Boots, which had its out-of-town tryout here last fall (read my review), led the nominations with 13, including best musical, best book of a musical for Harvey Fierstein and best score for Cyndi Lauper. A Christmas Story, The Musical, which played the Chicago Theatre in the 2011 holiday season before going on to its Broadway opening last Christmas, picked up three nominations, including best musical and best score for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
I’m a music critic. I’m white. And I like funk.
The first 45 I can remember spinning is M’s “Pop Muzik,” a fluke novelty single of the disco era by a kooky British guy. I imaged it was music made by the cute robots of The Black Hole and Buck Rogers. It sounded like the future.
Flash to my elementary school lunchroom. The tables have been collapsed and pushed to the walls. At our third grade talent show in rural Indiana, every girl twirls and hops to “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” Or “Beat It.” Anything off Thriller. At the end of the ’80s, my best friend and I wore out a blue cassette of Paul’s Boutique. MCA in the afro wig, throwing the keys to his Coupe Deville at an oil pumpjack, Roger’s “So Ruff, So Tuff” bumping away. Or was that the Commodores’ “Machine Gun”? Or Cameo’s “Shake Your Pants”? Zapp? “Jungle Boogie”? It was all in there, that history lesson of a song and video. Meanwhile, my older sister, always playing Prince, popping open beers in flared pants for tips at a club called Bellbottoms.