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Theater, TV, DVD & Blu-Ray

Theater Interview: Actor Jerod Haynes Shines in ‘The Royale’

CHICAGO – One of the most well-received 2015 theater performances in Chicago has been from actor Jerod Haynes as boxer Jay Jackson, in American Theater Co’s production of “The Royale.” Inspired by real life boxer Jack Johnson, the play is about setting up an early 1900s heavyweight championship, for the first time in U.S. history, between a black and white boxer.

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Co. Stages Pointed ‘Spike Heels’

Spike Heels Stage Play

CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

Theater Review: ‘The Book of Merman’ Should Satisfy Both Sets of Fans

Book of Merman, The

CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

Blu-ray Review: Stale Screen Culture Drama ‘Men, Women & Children’

Men, Women & Children with Kaitlyn Dever

CHICAGO – In “Men, Women & Children,” director Jason Reitman not-so-audaciously reflects onto viewers their world of silent screens and awkward impersonal interactions. As many stories (“Don Jon,” “Disconnect”) have taken on the torch of showing how we are, gasp! — connected to the world yet disconnected from those close to us — Reitman’s tale is just another one for the batch.

DVD Review: William H. Macy’s Sappy Directorial Debut ‘Rudderless’

Rudderless, Billy Crudup Anton Yelchin

CHICAGO – Actor William H. Macy’s directorial debut “Rudderless” is a film of open mic songwriting that tackles a recovery from grief with neat lyrics and easy metaphors. Instead of standing out, Macy has provided another sap’s ballad that has the cuteness of “Kumbaya”, one that aims to please the crowd without challenging emotions, only showing them.

Blu-ray Review: James Brown Biopic ‘Get on Up’ Has No Soul

Get On Up

CHICAGO – When people yawn about the dullness of movies based on life stories, they are certainly referring to films like “Get On Up,” an absurdly uninteresting portrait of a key figure of music, or so this movie claims. From the “The Help’s” vanilla visionary Tate Taylor, this 140-minute ode to James Brown is a half-assed argument about his nonpareil greatness, and full evidence that the biopic may be the weakest genre in film.

Blu-ray Review: Richard Linklater’s 2014 Classic ‘Boyhood’

Boyhood

CHICAGO – I remember when Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” was just a rare credit on IMDb, a project listed as “in production” for many years, while the director’s other completed work passed through. The curiosity of Linklater’s unparalleled experiment was certainly fulfilled by its release, which comes full circle today as it hits home video, an award season epilogue in sight.

Blu-ray Review: Cult-Ready Thriller ‘The Guest’ Comes Home

The Guest with Dan Stevens

CHICAGO – As the classification of “cult hit” becomes a progressively mainstream notion considering the multitude of “The Room” screenings across our great nation every weekend or the universal quotability of “Troll 2,” “The Guest” arrives. It is a movie made with the degree of madness often found only at midnight, usually at film festivals, or during special events at indie movie houses like Chicago’s Music Box Theater.

Blu-ray Review: Slices of Solid Action in Surprising ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

Theater Review: Step Up Productions Gives the Gift of ‘HoliDaze’

CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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