Archive for the ‘theater’ Category

Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Team
Chicago hometowners, Rise Against, held two performances last month at the Congress Theater.  Both shows, a Thursday and Friday night, were overflowing with fans eager for the locals who are widely making themselves known across the globe. Fellow Chicagoans Alkaline Trio, California’s Thrice, and Jersey’s own The Gaslight Anthem rounded out the cost to cost rock.

The Gaslight Anthem has begun a steady build of Chicago Fans with recent visits alongside The Loved Ones and The Bouncing Souls.  Their Springsteen flare, catchy vocals, and charm continuously outshines their opening slot.  It won’t be long before shouts of,  “You should be headlining!”, turn into reality for The Gaslight Anthem.

Thrice and Alkaline Trio followed with a darker vibe, but no less sing-a-long credentials.  Alkaline Trio ended Thursday’s set with the Misfits “Astro Zombies” and included old favorites off  Maybe I’ll Catch Fire getting Chicago nostalgic of The Fireside Bowl/Metro days.cm2_0025_rise_against1

The last time I saw Rise Against may have been a Warped Tour or maybe a classroom at DePaul, but whatever the size of the room the group’s intensity remains the same.  Spinning microphones, high flying guitarists, and Tim’s power to get a crowd moving didn’t drop a notch between Thursday and Friday’s performance.  For two days Rise Against brought home the noise and Chicago gave them a warm welcome for it.

See photos from Thursday and Friday night’s shows

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Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Team
Clog stomping, frost zombies, disappearing birthday cake, and a pair of Underoos had Chicago in stitches last Friday night.  The comedy troupe, Stella, are no novices to the instigation of laughter.  Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain have a lengthy history together of TV shows, appearances, tours, and movies to pad their reference material.

The sold out show at The Vic Theatre last weekend was a visual extravaganza of silliness.  Stella came equipped with an informative slide show on Christmas trees, a group effort at caroling, and a game of Zots and Crambles complete with crowd participation.  Of course, all the attempted projects of the night took off on a road of tangents ending in anything from dancing to doodie.

The evening came to a close with a special video skit of  Showalter’s birthday and an encore song comprised mostly of gibberish.  The video clearly highlighted what the trio does best and the performance was concluded with a roaring approval by the audience.

Season 1 of Stella is available on DVD and “Role Models”, co-written by David Wain, is in theaters now.  For more information on Stella visit: http://www.stellacomedy.com/

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

I always get asked about my favorite restaurant in the city.  My answer?  I don’t have a favorite restaurant, but I do have favorite dishes at certain places.  For example, my favorite BYOB sushi restaurant is Wakamono in Lakeview.  My favorite Sunday brunch spot is consistently the Bongo Room, and my new favorite doughnuts are served at the Powerhouse Restaurant.  Recently I think that I may have found my new favorite garlic bread dished out at Ristorante WE located in the W Hotel – City Center. 

I always make it a point to try the signature dish on the menu, just to see if it is something special.  The menu at Ristorante WE boldly lists as an appetizer item “Our Famous Garlic Bread”, therefore I had to try it.   The bread was nicely done with gorgonzola fonduta.  Fortunately it lived up to it’s billing, because the appetizers set the tone for the rest of the meal.  Other tasty menu items were their “Tuscan Spice Rubbed Tuna” and the “Warm Apple Crostata”, with caramel sauce and vanilla gelato.  Also check out their nice wine selection that we enjoyed by the glass.

Ristorante WE is open for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner.  It’s a great place for pre-theater dining and business dining.  They’re closed on Sunday for dinner, but you gotta try the garlic bread!

Ristorante WE, 172 W. Adams, Chicago, IL (312) 917-5608


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Saturday was the grand opening and media party at Stardust, 1211 Butterfield Rd in Downers Grove. Stardust was formally a hotspot on Chicago’s night scene during the 90s.  The club’s unique history brought something special and rare to the suburbs of the Chicagoland area.

Under the ownership of Reggie Benjamin, the boutique, lounge and club has much to offer patrons, with a main dance area, VIP room and murder mystery dinner theatre.  Each has their own large bar area.

Aesthetically, the main room of the club has a laid-back Miami vibe doused in white and blue light. The DJ used vinyl — not something you see very much anymore, and while that was impressive, I found the 80s hits kind of repetitive for those of us who do not appreciate the music of that era.

Overall, my experience at Stardust was enjoyable; the staff was friendly and the food was delicious.  With the right music the club has the potential to be a bright star on Chicagoland’s horizon.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Watch the weekly “Word On The Street” segment on 24/7 Chicago: Secrets of the City,” at 12:05 a.m., immediately following Saturday Night Live on NBC5.

For this week’s Word On the Street segment, we headed to Lumen nightclub in the West Loop. If you haven’t been out to Lumen yet, it’s definitely worth a look. The contemporary spot employs clean designs, and is known for it’s state-of-the-art lighting system. The organizers for Fashion Focus Chicago held a kickoff party there last week. Fashion Focus continues until Oct. 8, with several events still on tap. Log on to Chicagofashionresource.com for more information.

Next weekend, head over the the Chicago Country Music Festival, which will be held at Soldier Field Parkland October 11 – 12. Gretchen Wilson and Taylor Swift are the headliners. Expect three performance stages in all, a Kids’ Corral tent and a dance tent. Admission is free. Log on to www.chicagocountrymusicfestival.us for more information.

With one more month left until the election, more and more attention is being paid to the issues surrounding the campaign — if it’s even possible to give it more coverage than we’ve already seen. If your interest lies more toward the satiral side of things, check out “No Experience Necessary,” a sketch comedy at the Greenhouse Theater. The theater troupe, MPAACT, is known for its cutting-edge material, and this latest effort is written by up-and-coming Chicago comedian and actor Kevin Douglas.

Next weekend, get ready for one of the most significant annual events in our fair city, the Chicago Marathon. It’s truly an amazing event to witness live as thousands of runners take to the streets. Whether you’re cheering on a particular runner or supporting the masses, there’s plenty of locations around the city to do so. Click here for spectator information.

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Erik Sorensen, NBC5 Street Team

18 months after taking over as publisher of UR Chicago, En Prise Entertainment has regrettably pulled the plug on the print edition of their beloved magazine , citing printing costs in a difficult economical time as the primary culprit.

Founded in 1997, The popular lifestyle and entertainment magazine reached a monthly circulation rate of 45.000 copies and has been an editorial hub for all things art in Chicago for years. Keeping the city’s hipsters and artists updated with trends in nightlife, music, theater, art, film, dining and fashion isn’t an easy task – (especially on a monthly basis); but the publication’s enthusiastic and up-to-speed staff have been steadily providing a labor of love that will undoubtedly be missed.

Before you drain your tear ducts completely, though, you should know that UR Chicago will be concentrating all of its future efforts into the online realm via their website, URChicago.com. The site will update daily with album, book, film and gave reviews in addition to cluing Chicago in on the “what’s what” of indie nightlife.

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Cara Carriveau, NBC5 Street Team

I love my husband more than words can say. Seeing him happy makes me so happy. Without a doubt his favorite rocker is Eddie Vedder and his favorite sport to watch is hockey – specifically, the Detroit Red Wings. As he would say to anyone who questions his loyalty to the Wings…two words: Stanley Cup. Lot’s of ‘em. So what a thrill it was to be with him last night as he got to experience them both together.

Pearl Jam is an amazing band to see live and I’m happy to say we’ve had the pleasure many, many times. Part of the appeal is not only the band but also the fans – everyone seems to be instant friends at every show which is pretty cool. We saw Vedder with The Who and on another occasion with Robert Plant (my all time favorite rocker) at the House of Blues – wow, those were spectacular shows. We were pleasantly surprised to see Vedder walk out onstage during a Springsteen concert at The United Center a few years ago (absolutely the highlight of that show even though he sang my least favorite Springsteen tune, “My Hometown”). But this was a rare Eddie Vedder solo tour and we were ecstatic to be at the closing night in Chicago.

We made it to our seats in the Auditorium Theatre about 10 minutes before Eddie Vedder hit the stage, just in time to see Chris Chelios walk out onto a balcony holding the Stanley Cup! The crowd went absolutely crazy. My first thought was “does he carry that thing around every where he goes?” and my second thought was “I want to touch it!” but unfortunately we were too far away.

Eddie Vedder was in top form, his voice and guitar playing perfect and his interaction with the crowd at times halarious. At one point he told a drunk heckler to shut the F-up, then said “That was impolite. I meant to say shut the F-up…please.” Later in the show he said he wasn’t going to get “too political” and then someone walked behind him on stage with a massive “Vote For Barack Obama” sign. Vedder wore a white lab coat, making him look either like a crazy scientist or the musical genius he is. Included in his song selection were many mainstream and deeper Pearl Jam songs, four Who covers and selections from his soundtrack to the 2007 film ”Into the Wild.” After the last encore he brought out “Into The Wild” director Sean Penn (who it turns out was singing backup onstage – I was too far away to realize it), opener Liam Finn, and many other people he credited with making his solo tour such a great success.

Excellent show. But the best part was seeing my husband smile nonstop for hours, from the time he saw the Stanley Cup until his head hit the pillow when we got home.

(There’s already video popping up on the internet from last night’s show)

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The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team

A quick note of advice: if you see “A Steady Rain,” do it on a sunny day.

Paul Banks of The Sports Bank and my fellow NBC5 Street Team-er invited me to last Sunday’s performance of the critically acclaimed play. It was a gorgeous afternoon with nary a cloud in the sky. Before we entered the theater I felt it was a shame to be inside on such a beautiful day, especially when there were so many outdoor festivals. As we exited the theater we were thankful for the sudden rush of brightness and light.

A Steady RainA Steady Rain” is a two-man play about two Chicago cops. Joey’s a recovering alcoholic who struggles with loyalty to his childhood friend and partner and the conflict that creates with his own morality. Denny’s a powerful force who justifies his increasingly dangerous behavior with the age-old defense of “family.”

There are a considerable number of cliches. A couple of times Paul and I looked at each other and guessed what would happen next. Those could be forgiven though, because while the storyline itself wasn’t overly original, the complexity of the characters made them believable. The performances by Randy Steinmeyer (Denny) and Peter DeFaria (Joey) were so disturbingly convincing it felt like I’d actually witnessed their characters’ decline. Both of them at times made direct eye contact with me and I wanted to look away to avoid being drawn into their psychopathy.

There’s an almost oppressive feel to the play, but there isn’t the relentless, pounding evil of “There Will Be Blood.” Despite the tragic nature of the story there were moments of humor. While they were necessary to relieve the ever-mounting tension, laughing still felt slightly inappropriate, as if it made us participants in Denny’s degeneration.

“A Steady Rain” is an intense character study that illustrates nuances in a good guy-bad guy relationship; Joey isn’t all good, and Denny isn’t all bad. Any plot contrivances are swallowed by the intricacy of the characters and the intensity and quality of the performances by Steinmeyer and DeFaria.

“A Steady Rain” closes this Sunday, June 8. Go. See it. You’ll know you’ve witnessed something remarkable.

Just check the weather first.

Type The Local Tourist into the Search bar in the upper right hand corner of the page to see my reviews, bands of the week, trivia questions, upcoming events, and more or just click here. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Cara CarriveauCara “Cara’s Basement” Carriveau, NBC5 Street Team

I could have gone to the preview of Sex In The City a few nights ago but my Mommy duties came first. Today, though, my son was in daycare and my daughter was in school – so off to the theatre I went for a noon showing. It’s been a while since I’ve gone to a movie by myself and I’m wondering why I don’t do it more often. I’m the type that likes to NOT talk at all (and of course don’t want to be talked to) during a film, anyway, so why do I need someone I know next to me? Besides, it’s much easier to find a good seat for one.

There were actually several solo women at this showing – likely, fellow mothers with kids in school. And to my surprise a few solo men were in the audience. I was surprised to see any men at all.Sex In The City

Like so many other women, I spent many Sunday nights throwing SATC get-togethers (lots of wine!) w/girlfriends. Actually it was usually with one (ex) girlfriend in particular who I used to hang out with – she always reminded me of Samantha (and I of course was more than a bit like Carrie). So most of the time during the SATC movie I kept thinking about my (ex) girlfiend and wondered if her life had turned out like Samantha’s had – I won’t spoil the movie for you, but let’s just say that I was a bit surprised by Samantha’s story line. But it did make logical sense and even seemed likely to have happened to my (ex) girlfriend.

I remember always thinking that 30 minutes was never enough when SATC was on HBO. And this movie still didn’t seem long enough even though it’s a whopping 2.5 hours — just goes to show if you love SATC you won’t feel it’s a long movie. It was just enough for closure on some things and just enough to satisfy the long wait for the movie to arrive. Frankly, they could bring back the series to TV and I’d be ecstatic. As far as I’m concerned SATC was absolutely one of the greatest shows of all time. And not all great TV shows would make a great movie – I loved Friends and Seinfeld, but have no desire to see them on the big screen. SATC is a different animal. So funny and so true. I saw so much of me in each of the ladies’ storylines in this movie. I laughed, I cried. And when it was over I went shopping. Yep, the perfect girly day even if I was by myself!

Type my name in the search bar or click HERE to see/hear more of my posts including interviews with Alanis Morissette, The Bravery, Lovehammers, Triumph’s Rik Emmett, Matthew Santos, Shooting Star, Mike Tafoya comedian Lee Camp & more.

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Natalia Avilez, NBC Street Team

Friday nights grand opening of NachtKabarett, a Painted lady productions, began with long legs, sexy corsets, strip teases, and a lot of hands-on action. As I was ushered to my chair by Tungston — a half-naked sexual demon who waited on me hand and foot — my back was sensually massaged, my wine was served, and the band enticed me with sounds of a Gypsy playoff.

As the crowd piled in to the full house at the Gorilla Tango theatre , director Miguel Nunez kept his cool, even when he had to give up his own seat for a member of the audience. The cast warmed up the crowd prior, during, and after the show by involving them in audience participation, including a magic show which left an unsuspecting audience member penniless. Throughout the entire show, I was seduced by the music, intoxicated by the wine, and well, turned on by the sexy ensemble of performers.

I sat front and center, where I was able to get up close and personal with a sexy cyclops , a virgin, a brother/sister duo, and by Hymen, the master of ceremonies who served as the guide and host of the night. As I traveled back in time into this cabaret/burlesque extravaganza, I let my imagination run wild, my inhibitions loose, and was left with my jaw open.

The final act left me with chills running down my spine, and before Oskar had a chance to turn the lights back on, the Gestapo forced the cast and I out into the streets and into Green Eye Lounge , for well-deserved celebratory drinks. This rated R , Michael Natoli production, brings you into the world of debauchery, deprivation, satirical comedy, sexy dances and “above all the art will stand out, even under the penalty of death” Miguel Nunez.

Gorilla Tango Theatre – Chicago

1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647


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The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team

Visit SaveChicagoCulture.org now and sign the petition. Here’s why:

I just got back from a run along the lake front. What is normally an almost-vacation-like experience for me as I head toward the beautiful city skyline with Lake Shore Drive on one side and Lake Michigan on the other was, today, bittersweet.

On my mp3 player were songs by The Attraction, Disonic, Lucid Ground, On The Front, Section 4, Mindsight, Seven Day Sonnet – all Chicago bands. Local music is my passion, but if the Chicago City Council gets its way on Wednesday, those bands could cease to exist or be driven to other, more arts-friendly cities.

On May 14 the City Council will vote on an ordinance requiring any event promoter to have a license and liability insurance. That doesn’t sound so bad, except the language is so broad individual bands and theater groups could be included. Most are operating on such tight margins this would effectively put them out of “business”. Problem is, musicians and actors and other artists are in the business of creating art. The venues are in the business of providing a safe environment and already have licenses and insurance. This is duplicate regulation versus enforcing laws that are already on the books.

This also means that publications like The Local Tourist, Chicago Acoustic Underground, Chicago Music Guide, Gapers Block, Chicagoist, and Time Out Chicago would have to be licensed if we want to put on concerts showcasing the talent we feature. For example, Chicago Acoustic Underground and The Local Tourist are putting on a benefit concert. Even though we both have established solid reputations for our support of local music, AND are hosting this event at a venue with insurance, proper licenses, and a history of safety, we would be required to apply for this promoter’s license and get additional, duplicate insurance.

Performers are exempt from this ordinance, with one glaring exception: if the performer “exercises no other financial or non-performance-related operational responsibility in connection therewith.” Bands are often required to sell their own tickets. So are actors. They do their own advertising and promotion. Some venues will book one band and require them to choose the rest of the lineup. All those bands I listened to this afternoon have been in those situations and therefore would need to get a license.

There’s some question about whether or not it will even be enforced, considering the city doesn’t enforce the existing legislation (which would have prevented the E2 disaster), but that’s a moot point. Reputable venues will comply with the regulations because they’re reputable.

Of course, the city is exempt from this, which seems even more ridiculous considering the response Efrat Dallal Stein, the spokeswoman for the Department of Business Affairs & Licensing, gave to Jim DeRogatis during an interview. Stein said this was also meant to combat overcrowding. “Say, for example, the capacity of the venue is 200 people, and they promote it to 1,000 people, and they have 500 people that show up. They have an issue of overcrowding, they have an issue of 500 people who cannot get in who are standing out in front of the venue.” What, like when the city ran out of wristbands at Looptopia so that thousands of kids were roaming downtown in the middle of the night with no place to go, and there was a mosh pit in Millennium Park with police chasing kids down Michigan Avenue, both on foot and in cruisers? Besides the hypocrisy in that statement, when’s the last time you heard of 500 people being turned away at Metro?

There have been some comments that event promoters should be licensed just like any other business. Yes, some actors and some musicians go on to make ridiculous sums of money, but the overwhelming majority struggle day to day, put in hours of practice after working full-time jobs, and receive little to nothing financially in return. Their “job” is to entertain. It is the venue’s job to provide a safe environment, and there are already laws in place to ensure that safety.

The arts have a long history of patronage. Today’s artists don’t have wealthy benefactors to support them while they create something beautiful, moving, thought provoking, amusing, or entertaining. Instead they have us – the patron that will gladly pay our $5 or $12 or $15 to experience their creativity.

Please, if you feel half as strongly as I do about protecting our vital and vibrant arts and music scene, visit SaveChicagoCulture.org and leave a comment. Chicago Acoustic Underground and The Local Tourist will be presenting comments from this site to every single Alderman and to the Chicago City Council. On the site you can also find your specific representative to contact individually.

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Reggie Brown, NBC5 Street Team

If you were walking down  State Street tonight between 7-10, there’s no way you could have missed  the extremely thought provoking, physical standout performances of Plasticene‘s ghostLIGHT. As I turned off of Monroe heading southbound I saw this guy posted up a mounted bike peddling away like Lance Armstrong but going nowhere. Further down the street was this  hauntingly masked woman in mourning lighting a candle with a silver, alien like wooden dollchild seated in a chair behind her. Every different act was intriguing and I couldn’t help but get lost in the Plasticene dream like world. My favorite had to be the gummy bear ninja. I stood and watched this woman for twenty minutes as she had a staring contest with a bowl of gummy bears. Yep, you heard me right. She would stare, stalk and then grab a bear and squeeze it with her chopsticks, all the while throwing in some kung fu poses. Some gummy bear must have done her wrong in the past, maybe she bought a stale pack one day and has ongoing issues from it. I don’t know, I have no idea what to think actually. All I was sure of was that I wasn’t gonna lay a finger on those gummy bears.


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Angie, NBC5 Street Team

Dystopia: A society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease and overcrowding. Add surveillance, conspiracy, government, corporations, and war and you have the themes of Omniscience, Stage Left Theater’s newest production by playwright Tim Carlson which opened on Tuesday. Stage Left Theater’s mission in their productions is to raise political and social issues for debate and discussion. 

Stage Left holds an audience of about 45 people where half the audience is on one side of the stage and half on the other. Omniscience has the unique challenge of incorporating video screens (ie. surveillance) that can be viewed from both sides of the audience. The way the actors interact with pre-recorded video adds a multi-media twist that you don’t normally see in a small theater production. And what makes it more close to home is that some of the video is shot in the local area, such as right out in front of the theater.

There are only 4 actors in the play so you get to know their characters well. There’s the documentary writer, Warren, who is being censored by the corporation that is funding his war documentary, there’s his wife, Anna, who just got back from serving in the war (this is a fictional war in a fictional place) and is suffering post-traumatic stress, is addicted to pharmaceuticals, and distrusts everyone including her husband. Then there are the two people who work for the corporation, Channel One - a man who is creating the conspiracy and a woman who is loyal to the corporation but is interested in discovering the truth instead of trying to cover it up. Solitude is the only way to sanity for the husband and wife couple. Solitude is their gold.

After the show I talked to the playwright who was in town from Vancouver for the opening and he said that he wanted to do a piece about surveillance. This play has a serious tone about the possibility of an Orwellian world, which many people think is already here.  It makes me think about how careless we as a society are about our own privacy. I’m writing on a blog showing my picture and my thoughts to the world. I’m on Facebook and MySpace with millions of others being able to access my photo and identity. People jump to be on reality TV shows to show their private lives to the world. Omniscience is slowly whittling away at our solitude. As I sit here alone in my apartment typing, I’m wondering how alone I really am…

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