DE USURIS: 2016 TOP TEN HIGHLIGHTS
2016 TOP TEN HIGHLIGHTS
There is no order, rhyme or reason to my personal Top Ten Highlights for 2016. I am not a critic or reviewer. Our conversations fill in the center where there has not been, in my opinion, enough of an on-going conversation about the creative spirit. Our program resides in the space where creativity and appreciation intersect. We set out to tell stories about people and organizations doing amazing things ... and making a difference.
In the thousands of hours spent engaged in exploring literature, theater, music and other cultural events in Chicago and elsewhere, it is often the simple things that bring the most pleasure. My list has a few items that only a small group of people had the pleasure of sharing. Space does not allow the long list of favorite books, films and concerts so I'll save those for another time, but I will mention that Ethan Michaeli's The Defenders is one of the best.
Our conversations explore life-changing experiences of artists who have excelled in their craft. Along the way, we are discovering new ways to understand the creative process and the organizations that produce them … and in so doing, we hopefully learn a little more about ourselves. Thanks to the podcasts, listeners can experience these moments as they happened. In at least one case – our conversation with the late Sheldon Patinkin – the opportunity to ask another question will never come again.
So, my 2016 Top Ten Highlights are not necessarily performance-based or restricted to theater, dance or music. It is about individual moments that moved me and that I thought might be of interest to you -- which is why the blog is titled DE USURIS, Latin for "Of Interest."
Thanks for listening and Happy Holidays!
The 2016 List, in random order:
CRAZY FOR YOU, Drury Lane Theater, now playing through January 8, 2017 – Having seen the original Broadway production with my college pal Christopher Wells standing in for Harry Groener several times, I was excited to have a conversation with the insanely talented Matt Crowle about his career and the production of Crazy For You that he directed and choreographed at the Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace. Crowle has followed up superb performance turns in Porchlight’s Forum and Mercury Theater’s Producers with a not-to-be-missed production.
DONICA LYNN – Porchlight Music Theatre’s Dreamgirls, Stage 773 - The most inspiring and courageous performance ever. If you saw it, you know what I mean.
TUG OF WAR – Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Shakespeare 400 Chicago – No single production has captured the breath of Shakespeare’s work more than Barbara Gaines' monumental effort this year. Chicago is so fortunate to have this company and the commitment of so many organizations and sponsors to mount Shakespeare 400 Chicago. I had an engaging conversation with Doreen Sayegh about this amazing program, the educational benefits and what is ahead. Keep an eye out for The Yard – a transformative venue that we predict will be another innovative destination for patrons of the arts worldwide.
WHITE CHRISTMAS at the Music Box Theatre – OK, call me sentimental, but a matinee of this classic film with a packed house will put anyone in the holiday spirit. Great projection and sound, with a boisterous audience, make this a wonderful event for the whole family.
COLE PORTER 125 Joan Curto and friends celebrated the 125th birthday at the Auditorium Theatre -- This show, superbly directed and produced by Curto, featured performances by Paul Marinaro, Tammy McCann, Beckie Menzie, and Tom Michael with the City Lights Orchestra.
PAUL MARINARO at Birdland NYC – I only wish I had been at Birdland, but our conversation together was full of All That Jazz!
ANGELA INGERSOLL – Porchlight’s End of The Rainbow Perfect in the role of Judy Garland, Ms. Ingersoll has an up-coming date set for her one-woman show that you should get tickets for now.
CUBS GAME 7 – WORLD SERIES – No words.
THE NUTCRACKER – Joffrey Ballet Chicago – Opening night of Christopher Wheeldon’s production was electric and will surely be a holiday tradition for the next generation. And, our insightful conversation about the community engagement program with former company member and ballerina Erica Lynn Edwards discussed all that the Joffrey Ballet is doing to bring dance to students throughout Chicagoland.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL – Goodman Theatre – That we can all measure our youth and experience by the familiarity of this story, and still be captivated by its retelling, is testament to the extraordinary 2016 Goodman company and Henry Wishcamper’s artistic team with Larry Yando who completely embodies the role of Scrooge – his ninth turn at the Goodman over several years. Yando’s mastery of the subtle nuances of his character and his ability to play the range of rage, fear and Scrooge’s heartfelt redemption take him and this production to new and dizzying heights – literally and figuratively. There’s lots of flying here – sets, drops, people and spirits.
A little show called HAMILTON – Of course.
CONVERSATIONS with Ed Tracy– Lots of hours of free programming on the website. You can hear conversations with Andre De Shields, Ethan Michaeli, David Bell, Ron Keaton and archived programs with Chris Jones and Bonnie Kolac, in addition to others mentioned here, on our website at: www.conversationswithedtracy.com
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST -- Earlier this year, in a swift river, my 9 year-old granddaughter caught a fish on a fly – all by herself!
Happy Angler! Happy New Year!