Back on the Circuit

Music, Theater Add comments

cruches-for-new-year.jpgIn the midst of compiling New Year’s resolutions that I’ll most likely not be able to follow through on (do thirty sit-ups a day, eat more fruits, stop flirting with straight boys even if they offer to buy me a sidecar, finally break my vow never to see a Renee Zellweger movie again), I’ve been browsing the action-packed January calendars of the various arts and culture institutions in Chicago.  After the cultural wasteland that is the month of December (really, how many Ghosts of Christmas Pasts and Snow Queens can you stomach outside of the Boystown Halloween parade?), the beginning of the year is offering quite frankly, and wonderfully, an embarrassment of artistic riches. 

I’ve previously written about the Eugene O’Neill Festival at the Goodman Theater, which is all set to be the major cultural event of the winter (aside from the Riccardo Muti concerts at Symphony Hall, but more on that later), but I’ve been hyperventilating and sweating profusely in anticipation, sort of like Jeremy Piven on a sushi boat, for this Friday’s performance of the Wooster Group’s The Emperor Jones.  There are only five performances scheduled for this provocative, preconception-shattering, destined-to-be-argument-causing production, which will travel right after Chicago to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Arts Festival.  I am imploring my avid blog readers to get your tickets now – I’m sure it will be a theatrical experience you won’t forget.  I will also be at the Goodman for three successive Saturday matinees in January (starting January 17) for Brazilian theater group Companhia Triptal’s highly experimental stagings of O’Neill’s one-act Sea Plays, called Homens Ao Mar.  I hear the Owen is being re-configured so the audiences join the actors inside a big boat.  Interesting. 

But the Goodman isn’t the only theatrical game in town this month.  I was already at Chicago Shakespeare over the weekend for my first play of the year, a preview performance of a very flashy Macbeth showcasing two monster performances (and that’s meant as a compliment), from Ben Carlson as M and the can-do-no-wrong Karen Aldridge as Lady M.  More on that once the production opens.  Later this month, Chicago Shakes’ incomparable World Stage Series brings in The Investigation, from Rwanda theater group Urwintore.  This production has already garnered a lot of acclaim in the UK for its devastating portrayal of parallel themes between the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide.  This will be, again, must-see theater.   I’ll be at the MCA on the third week of January for Court Theater‘s The Wild Duck, Charlie Newell’s take on Ibsen’s masterpiece. Charlie was the assistant director on the seminal mid-eighties production from great Romanian director Lucien Pintilie seen in Paris, New York, Washington DC (at the Arena Stage) and Minneapolis (at the Guthrie), so there may be both an influence and a re-thinking of this production in Newell’s version.  I can’t wait to see this!

After a beautifully-staged Grey Gardens, Northlight Theater in Skokie is unveiling a world premiere of a new play from Asian-American playwright Kenneth Lin called Po Boy Tango, which mixes cooking, race relations, and immigration.  It starts previews January 7 and sounds like it’s worth checking out.  Closer to (my) home, American Theater Company, continues its new Artistic Director PJ Papparelli’s vital inaugural season with Sam Shepard’s True West and Suzan-Lori Park’s Topdog/Underdog in rotating repertory starting January 15, with four actors trading off the roles of the brothers in both plays on alternative nights.   It’s a co-production with Congo Square Theater Company.  I think the idea is pretty intriguing, and since both plays have to a certain extent racially-tinged milieus, I’d be interested to see how the productions handle that element.

So on to the Muti concerts at the Chicago Symphony.  Everyone and their mother seems to be very curious about our new Music Director, formerly of La Scala in Milan, and one of the top-ranked classical musicians in the world (not to mention, one of the more well-preserved, ahem), since all three Verdi Requiem concerts are sold out.  There’ll be enough time to see a lot of hot daddy Muti when he begins work as CSO Music Director in 2010, so go ahead and console yourself by seeing the younger, sexier, buffer,  hairier (well, on his head), Venezuelan conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, instead, set to become the Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic this year, when he conducts Brahms, Mozart, and Barber on January 8, 10, and 11, and plays with Yo-Yo Ma on January 9.  Who thought classical music could be oh-so-sexy and spice up this frigid first month of the new year?

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

WP Theme & Icons by N.Design Studio
Entries RSS Comments RSS Log in