Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ready for Take Off with Imaginez Ensemble

Imaginez Ensemble presents "Taking Flight" 
at Elgin Art Showcase

Chicago-based Imaginez Ensemble brings a mix of circus arts and cirque-style performance to this year's Elgin Fringe - a first for the festival. With a story entitled "Taking Flight" the central idea behind this movement driven piece is facing one's fears and freeing the imagination. What makes the performance unique is not only the cirque movement and flying, but how this all plays out in the intimate space inside the Elgin Art Showcase. During this particular performance, the cast of three attempts to break through the proverbial fourth floor to discover - the audience. This leads to a series of introductions between the characters, the space, and the audience, which ultimately becomes a quest to find and tell a story that will help everyone release and find their bliss. While this may sound rather heady, in the end, the story is delivered with such joy, physical wit, and moments of vulnerability, you realize that you've been on a journey the whole time. Definitely worth seeing at this year's festival. Next shows: Sun. at 6pm.

- Bill Albert

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bolton Brings The Bang

Kelly Bolton 
At Elgin Public House

I've seen Kelly several times and she never disappoints. With quirky manic energy she delivers skit after skit of mayhem and humor. She offers a take on things that most comics don't ever think about.  Pure fun and it comes with props!! Next shows: Sat. at 4:30pm and Sun. at 3pm. 

Christopher M.  

Schaefer Says "I Do" In Brilliant One Person Show

Jeremy Schaefer presents "What's A Wedding Got To Do With It?"
at Elgin Public House 

Do you believe in love? Do you believe in marriage? In Jeremy Schaefer's show currently playing at the Elgin Public House, believing in love is not a problem, but marriage - let's just say that's another story. And it is brilliantly told as Schaefer leads us through his personal journey of discovery as a child shunning the idea of tying the knot after watching a late night with David Letterman, to his courtship as a young man meeting the woman of his dreams, and the eventual nuptials taking place years later. This performance is intelligent, witty, funny and touching. It goes beyond simple comedic gimmicks and shows a performer who has spent time really thinking about and institution that is doomed to fail for close to half of the people partake in it. The performance flies by without missing a beat to a soundtrack capturing the moods and rhythms of Schaefer's heart and soul. A must see show at this year's festival. Next shows: Sat. at 1:30pm and Sun. at 6pm.

- Michael Kubiak

Titterglitz Surprises With Fringy Show

It's Fringe right?  So while I generally wouldn't go to a dance performance I was feeling adventurous. It turned out to be more than dance, a multimedia performance where the players were part actors in addition to being phenomenally talented dancers. While I surely missed the subtle points of the "women" themed production,  it was interesting and varied and kept my attention  (which isn't easy) throughout. So be fringy and go see this one. Next shows: Sat. at 4:30pm and Sun. at 1:30pm. 

- Chuck M.

When The Past is Present

Independent Players presents "Calm Down Mother" by Megan Terry
at Imago Studios 

An experienced cast of three takes on Megan Terry's absurdist one-act play "Calm Down Mother" in the intimate confines of the newly configured Imago space - an excellent choice. Working almost as a choral group, this tight company seamlessly weaves through one scene after another as the story moves back and forth through time exploring the role of women in a contemporary society and asking if there is something more in the world than just being a wife or mother. The play was originally staged in 1965, but the themes still resonate today thanks to the clever script and excellent acting on display throughout the piece. This show is worth the trip if you're looking to see a quality revival of a seldom produced play. Next shows: Sat. at 3pm and Sun. at 12noon.

- Michael Kubiak

TRACY Brings the Creativity

T.R.A.C.Y. Presents
at Elgin Public House

Interesting diverse cast does part improv and a few random scenes.  The writing was good and thoughtful and funny and the audience had fun as the performers were obviously enjoying each other's humor.  A little hard to hear when the a/c kicked on.  This bunch has a lot of potential.  Definitely worth seeing. Next shows: Sat. at 10:30pm.  

Theo R.  

Reviving The Gods with IM

Improvised Mythology 
at First United Methodist Church

First off, this is not the Ancient Greek mythology your grandfather studied in school. Yes, some of the names will sound familiar and the situations are at times reminiscent of a greek tragedy although there is nothing cathartic going on here. The intention is to make you laugh and this long-form show stays committed to telling its tale based on a simple suggestion from the audience: how a shark grows its teeth back. Of course, every performance is different, because each audience will suggest something unique. But what remains is this ensemble bringing you everything you would expect from a made-up Greek Mythology story: lust, greed, revenge, cannibalism, and the occasional Michael Phelps reference. It's all in good fun as this charming cast creates the story from scratch. Next shows: Sat. at 7:30pm and 10:30pm.

- Bill Albert

Friday, September 16, 2016

An Eclectic Mix Offered by Elgin Theatre

Elgin Theatre Company presents "Reflections"
at Imago Studios

3 short stories acted out in sequence, each by different actors.  Interesting mix of cast members and variety of material. Mostly serious with some humor.  What you might expect from a local theatre company. Enjoyable but not compelling. Next shows: Fri. at 9pm, Sat. at 1:30pm and 3pm.  

- Mike K.   

Kicking Up Some Dust with La Groove Fatale

La Groove Fatale presents "Gold Dust"
at Next Door Theater

Elgin-based La Groove Fatale presents "Gold Dust" a high-powered show featuring an array of belly dance routines choreographed to world, folk, and modern music. The ensemble of six dancers moves with ease working off audience reaction and each other in a performance filled with physical inflections to the slightest changes in beat, rhythm, and applause. The performance culminates in a routine where gold-painted fans unfurl into streamers that recall a sun dance ritual. A great show for long-time fans or for those just curious about seeing some belly dancing up close. Next shows: Sat. at 7:30pm and Sun. at 6pm.

- Michael Kubiak

Good Clean Fun with Cody Clark

Cody Clark

Cody Clark A Different Way of Thinking
at Elgin Public House

Part storytelling,  part comedy, part magic, part autism education,  Cody takes you into his life and how he developed into becoming a magician. Good clean fun for all ages. Next shows: Sat. at 3pm and 7:30pm and Sun. at 1:30pm.

 - Jill S.   

Boyle's Big Heart Brings the Laughs

David Boyle at the Elgin Fringe Festival

Everyone Knows Your Gay, David Boyle
at First United Methodist Church

David Boyle returns to the Elgin Fringe Festival and takes his audience on a storytelling journey with a cast of characters ranging from a friendly Minnesota squirrel, a flying frog, an in-house Santa Claus, a crazed football coach and a c-level celebrity. Filled with humor and insight, Boyle's stories have that feeling of discovery in the smallest moments whether sitting on a park bench, singing Cole Porter songs or realizing who you are while digging a trench on a chicken farm. A performer with heart who knows how to make his audience laugh, Boyle's show is not to be missed. Next shows: Fri. at 9:00pm and Sat. at 4:30pm.

- Bill Albert