Category Archives: Theatre/Musical

Kathleen Battle – Opera Superstar in Chicago!

On Saturday, September 30th, I had the thrill of seeing a true opera superstar at the Auditorium, here in Chicago.  The five-time Grammy Award winner, Kathleen Battle has sung all of the great Operas and reigned supreme at the Metropolitan Opera House, in the 80’s and early 90’s.  Reviewers have long rhapsodized about the quality of her voice. One of opera’s premier lyric and coloratura sopranos, the Washington Post said of Battle “…without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world”; from The New York Times “cream from a miraculous, bottomless pitcher”.

Singing “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Her current tour is called Kathleen Battle – Underground Railroad: A Spiritual Journey While not an opera program, per se, Battle’s training and background come through.  Presented recital style with only a single piano for accompaniment and backed by a 30 voice chorus including  The Chicago Freedom Singers.  The show also incorporates the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss III and Jackie Taylor as Narrators who educate the audience about the history of the Underground Railroad.  There are quotes from Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who both used the Underground Railroad to escape to their own freedom and in the case of Tubman, she then helped many other slaves find freedom through the Underground Railroad.

Kathleen Battle’s stage presence was amazing and her voice as beautiful and pure as ever it was, considering she is now in her late 60’s, that’s impressive.  She also showed great generosity in giving showcasing solos to several of the other singers.  The repertoire contained such well known gems as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, “All Night, All Day” and “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah (Come Out the Wilderness)”.  The presentation was interesting and uplifting, leaving one with the sense of not only having enjoyed an evening of beautiful and unique music, but of also having learned a great deal.

I for one, look forward to future concerts presented by Ms. Battle and having the opportunity to enjoy her beautiful voice once again.

 

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The SpongeBob Musical: It’s Not Guys in Big Foam Costumes

By Jazmine Chartrand

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The SpongeBob Musical…I know what you’re thinking.  It’s going to be a lame musical for kids where the people on stage are wearing silly, bulky costumes made out of foam.

IT’S. NOT.

 

It’s something totally new. You’re immersed in a Bikini Bottom made of found objects that might sink to the bottom of the ocean- blue pool noodles, beach balls, pipes & tubes, tires, food cans, kiddie pools, hula-hoops, and garlands of flip flops. The characters themselves are just people dressed in normal clothes with special tweaks to make their characters come to life. There’s so many things about this musical that make it different.

They bring everything you expect.

That one fish that always shouts, “My leg!” in the show? He’s there. That French narrator dude? He’s there too. Sandy makes random similes about life. They do karate (or care-rah-tay). There’s jokes for adults and kids alike. The creators of the musical tried to jam-pack this thing with the details that make the TV show worthwhile. SPOILER ALERT: A certain number one fan of SpongeBob‘s is there to see the musical as well.

The music is unique.

The whole score is basically one big collaborative love letter to SpongeBob by renowned musical artists like Aerosmith, Panic! At The Disco, Cyndi Lauper, and John Legend to name a few. There’s even a song by David Bowie. The musical includes a bunch of different styles and genres of music just like the TV show.  And to set the mood while your finding your seat, the musical includes quirky little tunes on bongo drums and kazoos.

It’s fun!

Yes! Really! It’s fun to watch, cheer, and kinda participate in the show. It’s like you’re inside Bikini Bottom with them instead of watching it on a screen. You can’t help but smile when Patrick and SpongeBob sing a song about being BFFs or when men in pink flapper costumes dance across the stage. The show pushes the theme to find the best in all situations, even the bad ones, and to stick with your friends when they need you the most. The show’s co-creator and director, Tina Landau, says, “SpongeBob is a presence and a spirit that is here to say ‘Lets have the best day ever'” and the show truly gives you that.

spongebob 2I recommend this musical to both children and adults alike.

Listen to Jazmine Chartrand every Tuesday from 11-3pm on WCRX FM.