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 2019-08-07
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 Ms. Blakk for President
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
2019-06-05

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Playwrights: Tina Landau and Tarell Alvin McCraney

At: Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. . Tickets: 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org; $20-$94. Run through: July 14

The past roars to the present in Steppenwolf Theatre's world premiere of Ms. Blakk for President. Co-authored by ensemble members Tina Landau ( who also directs ) and Tarell Alvin McCraney ( who also stars in the title role ), this raucously out and proud play vividly shines an theatrical spotlight on a lesser-known piece of LGBTQ American history to defiantly speak to our own times.

Back in 1992, the Chicago-based African-American drag queen Joan Jett Blakk ( aka Terence Smith ) publicly announced a run for U.S. President. Though many would write it off as an attention-grabbing stunt akin to that era's protests by ACT UP and Queer Nation, it was a big deal to Ms. Blakk and her shoestring staff — especially as they all tried to appear on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in New York.

That's the basic plot of Ms. Blakk for President, but Landau and McCraney expand the whole experience into other theatrical realms. One minute you're part of a performance art happening ( complete with installation pieces in the lobby ) or at a drag/dance revue. The next minute, you're attending an impassioned protest rally led by Blakk lambasting Republican indifference to minority communities dealing with AIDS and poverty.

Through it all is a wonderfully irreverent queer camp comic sensibility. The laughs lighten the dramatic flashes of peril at the hands of police, while also enlivening other debates on censorship and inner turmoil on self-doubt.

The whole cast gets across the anger and exuberance of the era. Patrick Andrews, Molly Brennan and Jon Hudoson Odom are great as bickering activists, while Daniel Kyri is endearing as JJ, a limber loved one who is dragged along for the ride. The very flexible Sawyer Smith gets to float on and off as many fantasy characters in Toni-Leslie James' fabulous costumes ( many would be the envy of any RuPaul's Drag Race contestant ).

Landau and her production team create a free-wheeling and rough-around-the-edges event that is steeped in history ( take time to look at all the period fliers recreated by set designer David Zinn and marvel at projection designer Rasean Davonte Jonhnson's curated videos ). Yet the show is also very much about today, and Heather Gilbert's sometimes confrontational lighting design forces the audience and onstage artists to take a serious look at themselves.

With Ms. Blakk for President, it's clear that Landau and McCraney don't want audiences to forget earlier activists who fell and fought the good fight for more LGBTQ equality. And as McCraney's galvanizing title performance attests, we need noisy risk takers to forge a path for others to follow.


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

Kinley Preston previews Lips Chicago dinner theater 2019-08-16 - Lips, billed as "the ultimate in drag dining," is locating its fifth location in Chicago. The South Loop venue, opening to the public ...


Gay News

Victory Gardens Theater announces Directors Inclusion Initiative assistant directors 2019-08-15 - Chicago, IL— Victory Gardens Theater announces the 2019/20 Season Directors Inclusion Initiative Assistant Directors including Alexander ( Lex ) Turner ( Tiny Beautiful ...


Gay News

Ross Mathews brings bubbles and brunch to Chicago 2019-08-13 - Ross Mathews Presents Dragtastic Bubbly Brunch is a new endeavor for the television personality that combines local drag and a buffet brunch together ...


Gay News

Chicago Cabaret Professionals announces new Board 2019-08-13 - ( Chicago, IL ) The Board of Directors of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals ( CCP ) is delighted to announce the appointment of ...


Gay News

Underscore Theatre plans Chicago Musical Theater Festival and musicals 2019-08-13 - CHICAGO ( August 13, 2019 ) — Underscore Theatre Company is pleased to announce its full 2019-20 Season, featuring two fully-produced musicals, plus ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-08-13 - Ghost Quartet, Black Button Eyes Productions @ Stage 773, through Aug. 17—Dazzling vocal and instrumental musicianship in the town's most unique musical; a ...


Gay News

THEATER Diamond Lil And The Pansy Craze 2019-08-12 - Authors: Jason Paul Smith and Roy Freeman At: The Berger Park Coach House Theater, 6205 N. Sheridan Rd. Tickets: threecatproductions.com or 312-970-9840; $15-25. ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Boogieban 2019-08-11 - Playwright: D.C. Fidler At: none too fragile theatre at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. ( entrance at May and Aberdeen streets ) ...


Gay News

Victory Gardens Theater to present Tiny Beautiful Things 2019-08-09 - Chicago, IL— Victory Gardens Theater kicks-off its 45th Anniversary season with the Chicago Premiere of Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the book by ...


Gay News

Audra McDonald concert to benefit Steppenwolf Theatre Company Sept. 15 2019-08-09 - CHICAGO ( August 5, 2019 ) Historic six-time Tony Award Winner Audra McDonald reunites with Sirius XM Radio star Seth Rudetsky direct from ...


 



Copyright © 2019 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


 



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 publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.