Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-01-17
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER REVIEW Last Dancer Standing (More Than Hip-Hop)
by Mary Shen Barnidge
2017-08-09

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Rueben Echoles. At: Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark St. Tickets: $55-$65. Runs through: Sept. 3

A competition—whether between warring nations, athletic clubs or ambitious entertainers—is suspenseful in its very concept, but rarely is the victory quickly determined. Compressing the events to the abbreviated length dictated by modern theater practice can be accomplished by dividing the dramatic focus according to geography ( battlefield/headquarters, dugout/arena, dressing room/runway ), or rank ( soldiers/generals, teammates/coaches, directors/performers ). Ah, but what if you want to include representatives from all these demographics?

You do what author Rueben Echoles has done in his roman a tiroirs ( "play of drawers" ) framed in a reality-television dance competition. The action opens in the 814 Studios during the final rounds, allowing a dozen contenders to be swiftly whittled down to half that number. The show's producer and choreographer double as the contest judges, with a rap artist "celebrity judge" serving as a tie-breaking third. The singer/emcee is an up-and-coming talent, herself, albeit not yet an icon like her mother, while the house band and choir are faceless hired help. Instead of dialogue-driven offstage scenes, the climate in the trenches is conveyed in talking-head montages. Finally, the dancers are tested in groups, reducing the time required to acquaint us with the assembly.

The actors playing those first eliminated have obviously been instructed to project anonymity, the better to highlight the individuals who will continue on. These are the usual assortment found in this milieu, with a few notable exceptions, like the flamboyant gay and rigidly homophobic males, and the rare plus-sized hoofer. Director Echoles is also to be commended for casting across color lines to include three non-African-American dancers, none of whom are reduced to cheap jokes ( although when one violates contest rules by getting drunk at a club, his companions attempt to excuse his behavior, saying, "He's from Iowa! They don't get out much!" ).

This is still a lot of intrigue packed into two-and-a-half hours. Playgoers can perhaps be forgiven their attention wandering during the soapy romantic/domestic complications or the excellent vocals ( though Shari Addison's cover of "Ain't Nobody" will make your blood tingle ). Dance demands to be witnessed in the moment, however, so don't you be reading your playbill during the Stravinskian ballet vs. orchesis duel, the popping-percussive drill-formation set to Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" or the full-company finale featuring the Beyonce-Lamar arrangement of "Freedom" that reveals the true purpose of the venture we have just witnessed.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

2018 MFA Lab theater tackles race, culture, sexuality Wirtz Center 2018-01-22 - EVANSTON, Ill. —- The next generation of American theater directors and designers team up for the 2018 MFA Lab series Feb. 9 through ...


Gay News

Contemporary takes on legendary playwright William Inge coming to Eclipse Theatre 2018-01-22 - Chicago's Eclipse Theatre Company, the only theatre company in the Midwest to focus on a single playwright each season, has announced that they ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Traitor 2018-01-22 - Playwright: Brett Neveu At: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. Tickets: $30-$35. Runs through: Feb. 25 ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Pioneering gay comic Bob Smith dies 2018-01-21 - Bob Smith—the first openly gay comedian to appear on the Tonight Show—has died after a long struggle with ALS, according to Deadline.com. He ...


Gay News

'Insurrection' echoes Nat Turner's life through present day 2018-01-17 - Try to define playwright Robert O'Hara's Insurrection: Holding History would likely result in confusion. "I've been describing it, like, the playwright ...


Gay News

Julia Sweeney show through March 18 2018-01-17 - Saturday Night Live veteran, author, actor and TED- talk veteran Julia Sweeney will make her stand-up debut this January in a new workshop ...


Gay News

Charles Busch at Pride Arts Jan. 21-22 2018-01-17 - Tony Award nominee, Drama Desk Lifetime Achievement honoree and two-time MAC Award winner, Charles Busch, who performed two sold-out shows at Pride Arts ...


Gay News

Joffrey's 'Modern Masters' Feb. 7-18 2018-01-17 - The Joffrey Ballet presents Modern Masters—a mixed repertory program showcasing works by contemporary icons along with top emerging choreographers—Feb. 7-18 at the Auditorium ...


Gay News

WINTER THEATER SPECIAL World-premiere plays start bright and early 2018-01-17 - It might have been the mild snows in the last few years that finally persuaded theater companies to acknowledge winter as a time ...


Gay News

WINTER THEATER SPECIAL Winter classics "true and reimagined 2018-01-17 - The classics—usually meaning plays by dead playwrights which have withstood the test of time—sometimes can be "reimagined" ( to use an au courant ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.