The Independent

“Becky Shaw” Behind the Curtain

“Becky Shaw” Behind the Curtain

October 6, 2015

The basic premise for the newest play to hit Stage Center Theater is a blind date gone horribly, horribly...

Review: ‘Bobrauschenergamerica: A Belly Full of Laughter and Candy’

Review: ‘Bobrauschenergamerica: A Belly Full of Laughter and Candy’

October 21, 2014

Charles Mee’s whimsically strange “bobrauschenbergamerica” kept the audience laughing, tapping...

Review: ‘Bobrauschenbergamerica’ Comes to Stage Center

Review: ‘Bobrauschenbergamerica’ Comes to Stage Center

September 23, 2014

NEIU’s Stage Center Theater is back to work with the latest production “Bobrauschenbergamerica,” Charles Mee’s one-act-tribute to Bob Ra...

Review: Miss Julie: Strange Bedfellows

Review: Miss Julie: Strange Bedfellows

April 29, 2014

  3.0 out of 5 Stars If there is one thing that Stage Center Theatre knows how to nail every...

Demon Barber of Fleet Street Visits NEIU

Demon Barber of Fleet Street Visits NEIU

April 23, 2013

Audience members laughed and some may have felt the shiver of goose bumps on their arms as they wa...

Joyce of Music

Joyce of Music

March 6, 2013

  The creation of a movie from a novel is a frequent occurrence these days, and movie novelizations are even more common. But how often does a book out of cla...

The Braggart Soldier

The Braggart Soldier

February 21, 2013

  “It's a comedy about love, lying, plots against characters and what happens in two househol...

Out in the Sundance

Out in the Sundance

February 20, 2013

  What could be better than spending a whole day just watching movies? This question, proposed by Stanford University student Carol Tan, ought to evoke a quick and ...

Review of “Unveiled”

Peter Ali Enger

December 5, 2012

Filed under Arts & Life, Theatre Reviews

  “Do you know what it is like to be treated like you’re not human? I do.” With that statement, Rohina Malik got to the heart of the message in her play, “Unveiled.” The one-woman play was written by Malik and performed by her on Nov. 28 in Northeastern Illinois University’s (NEIU) Auditorium Theatre. A full contingent of theatergoers were in attendance and it was a diverse crowd of people. The venue itself was not the most ideal, however. The sound was a bit muddied, and the hall had a high-school cafeteria-like feel, with tiled floor and concrete walls. NEIU has much better venues for plays on its campus, and I was struck by the question of why they were not used in this instance. The play was performed as a gathering of five Muslim women for tea and sharing stories from their lives— as Muslims—and not just Muslims, but female Muslims who choose to wear the veil in this post-911 Western world. Although all the women are veiled, in the telling of their stories, they reveal themselves enough to justify the play’s title. The stories touch on harassment, discrimination, hate crimes, violence, and even the murder of one of the characters’ husbands. In one case the misunderstanding comes from a woman’s own family members in London, a mother who objects to her daughter’s decision to wear a hijab. It turns out choosing to wear the veil can be controversial, even within one’s own family, when it draws attention to one’s own “Muslimhood.” This can invite unwanted and even dangerous scrutiny from the uncomprehending and prejudiced dominant Western society. We learn a lot in this play, and Malik does a service to her faith, her art, her community, and to us, the wider listening and watching audience, here in the post-911 USA.  We learn a little of the faith of Islam from her quotations from the Koran. We learn about the Sufi poet Rumi, and his poem “Dance.” (Here it is in its entirety: “Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”) Just that reference, if it causes us to discover and explore Rumi, and Sufi poetry in general, is well worth the price of admission! We learn a bit of the humanist philosophy contained in Islam—but most of all, we learn of the philosophy of Malik, who has a voice and a message for us. All true artists do. The message I took away at the end, is that she has a love for the characters she performs; they are human, Muslim, veiled, women, and also share Malik’s love for humanity. As one of them said, “Allah created tribes so that you get to know each other.” At the end of the night, Malik gave us the message that the power of mercy, love and forgiveness is greater than the power of war, hate and violence. We have to believe that is true, else how could any of us go on? Although all the women in the play are veiled, by exposing their common humanity, (common with us, that is) Malik succeeds in ‘unveiling’ them, which, I suppose, is the point....

Laugh and Learn at Sexomedy

Desiree Dylong

December 5, 2012

Filed under Arts & Life, Theatre Reviews

Rating : 5 Stars Many people are shy to talk about sex, but Melissa Duprey is not one of those people. Duprey starred in Sexomedy, a one woman comedy piece that was part of SOLO TRES, a series of three solo shows that ran from Oct.18-Nov18. SOLO TRES was presented by Teatro Luna, Chicago’s first all -Latina theatre which was started in 2000 with the desire to change the lack of representation of Latina/Hispanic stories in theatre. Teatro Luna, located at 3914 N. Clark St. is easily accessible via the Irving or Clark CTA bus routes. The theatre has a hole in the wall feel to it and a student may walk right past it if they weren’t looking close enough. Its small space and staff make the theatre susceptible to technical mishaps. During the show, there were a few audio glitches. However, small establishments tend to have the most charm and biggest sense of community and this over ruled any technical glitch. The theatre’s small stage allowed a sense of intimacy between the performer and audience which can sometimes be hard to experience in larger venues. The price, $20 but with a student I.D is $15, was also was more reasonable than at a large venue. Attendees could also treat themselves to drinks at the in-house bar. The character and theme of Sexomedy was present from the start. While waiting for the show to start, Prince’s “Darling Nikki”, Color Me Badd’s “I Want to Sex You Up” and George Michael’s “ I Want Your Sex” played along with the likes of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and Salt –n- Pepa’s “Whatta Man.” This playlist, made up of some of the most well known baby-making songs, was a fun and quirky way to start the show. Melissa Durpey, a comedian with Teatro Luna, did not waste time with introductions once she walked onto the stage. From talks of how women should be able to masturbate “within six minutes or less”, blind dates and  the conflicts of shaving in the shower which she called “shower aerobics”, Duprey presented an unashamed, bold and hilarious scope into the sexuality of women. Sexomedywasn’t only good for side splitting laughs, but also presented questions about femininity and the lengths women go through in order to be attractive to the opposite sex. On the topic of waxing and shaving, Duprey opens up about how women place pressure on themselves not to have body hair. She humorously expressed how men usually don’t care whether women are hairless or not. Instead, it’s women who stress over waxing and shaving their legs daily. Women tend to go through extremes to be sexually attractive, though most of the time their efforts are unnecessary. At one point in the show, Duprey asked the men in the audience if they cared whether or not their partners had body hair, and most of the men said no. During the intermission, a video played and showed Duprey talking with random strangers in the Wicker Park neighborhood. She asked drunken men if they cared about women having body hair and also asked women if size really mattered. The audio in the film had too much background noise, which made it hard to hear the stranger’s response to Duprey’s questions. However, the lack of quality sound did not take away the humor of the intermission video. One may think that since Sexomedy is a one woman comedy show that men would not be able to enjoy it. The audience may have had more women than men, but when the room erupted in laughter, it wasn’t just females chuckling. After talking to some of the male attendees after the show, they said that it was both funny and enlightening. They were mostly surprised at how much women put themselves through while getting ready for a date and also had no idea about the “shower aerobics” women partake in. Whether male or female, Sexomedy provided lessons and laughs. For those who have had humorous sexual mishaps, awkward blind dates or who just enjoy bold and unapologetic humor, Melissa Duprey won’t disappoint. Even though SOLO TRES has passed, students can still enjoy what Teatro Luna has to offer. A Very Luna Christmas will be playing soon. For more information and their Seasonal calendar, check out http://teatroluna.org/....

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Stage Center Theatre

Melissa Brand

December 5, 2012

Filed under Arts & Life, Theatre Reviews

  Photo by Melissa Brand Photo by Melissa Brand The second theatre production for the 2012/2013 season at Stage Center Theatre at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) opened Nov. 15 with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This story is based on the novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and adapted by Jeffery Hatcher. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde takes place in 1800s London and shows the ups and downs of battling with addiction, alter egos and love. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you might end up looking around at the audience to see if anyone else seems confused or lost. That is, until you realize that the 3 men and 1 woman are all manifestations of Mr. Hyde. They did a great job at showing the different thoughts of Mr. Hyde, while Dr. Jekyll stood on the side in somewhat of a trance. The stage setup and props were minimal, but very well used. The main door opening, closing and turning changed the scene from outside on the street to the inside of their home. It also changed characters from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.  The street lamps at the top of the walkways and the large creepy tree in the backdrop gave the feel of an old London village. The Victorian style costumes were nicely done. There was smoke and strobe lights used during the show for added effects. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was directed by Dan Wirth, a long time instructor at NEIU. Wirth has directed several shows for Stage Center Theatre, Children’s Theatre and Summer Transition Program Drama Workshop. NEIU instructor, Jeff Wade did a great job as Dr. Jekyll. Mr. Hyde was played by Daniel Ochoa (Hyde #1), Tony Gasbarro (Hyde #2), Mark Dodge (Hyde #3) and Elizabeth Krahulec (Hyde #4). They all worked well together and had their own Hyde personalities. Lily Stephens who played Elizabeth did a nice job being the love interest of both Hyde and Jekyll. The cast also included Yim Chiu, Nickolena Sellen and Michael Slas. All cast members except for Wade, played in two or more roles. At times it was confusing but it flowed smooth once you realized what was going on. The final performances of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will be Nov. 28 - 30 and Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets to this show, call the box office of Stage Center....

Second City Serving Up Laughs

Emily Haddad

November 14, 2012

Filed under Theatre Reviews

  UP Comedy Club gears up to celebrate its one-year anniversary this November as the newest addition to the Second City improvisational theater family. Sporting a sexy new venue with two-level seating for 285 people just next door to the main Second City theater, UP Comedy Club hosts stand-up, sketch and classic improv comedy shows seven days a week. Well-known comedians such as Robert Klein (performing Nov. 9 - 11) and Kyle Kinane (Nov. 15-18), recently featured on the Conan O’Brien show, are bringing their brand of hilarity to UP Comedy Club’s stage. UP will also feature a hilarious holiday special, theNut-Cracking Holiday Revue, (Nov. 22-Dec. 31) a show that combines the best and worst parts of the holidays in glorious scenes and songs guaranteed to put a grin on the face of the grumpiest holiday Grinch. For those just visiting Chicago, or hosting friends and relatives from out of town, UP Comedy Club hosts What the Tour Guides Didn’t Tell You: A Chicago Revue. This show will have people seeing Chicago in a new hilarious light, or just chuckling at the nitty-gritty truths of the city. With the elections coming up and both local and national politics getting heated, pundits can kick back with UP’sOne Nation Under 1%. Billed as a show that isn’t going to solve anything, much like the upcoming elections,One Nation Under 1% advocates that the audience and performers alike “just laugh about both and drink.” Improv lovers can also catch weekly performances of The Second City’s Improv Extravaganza Explosion! and the ever-popular Improv All-Star. Featuring a wildly creative cast,the fast-paced interactive shows are never dull and never the same thing twice. The themes are all audience-suggested, and range as far as the collective imaginations of the crowd can imagine. The scenes are loosely structured from game-like devices such as a ringing bell to signal a redo of the last sentence spoken, or theatrical freeze tag, where any of the talented performers can freeze the scene and swap out another performer , emotion, or topic. During a recent show, the scene bounced from Muppets ™ working at a Pizza Hut ™, to Bill Cosby in a horror movie, and then to a jitterbugging Gary Busey making his rapping debut at that same pizza parlor, telling the audience “you might think the pizza tastes like crap, but it’s no worse than listening to three white people rap.” Featuring a full-service kitchen and a large drink selection both hot and cold, UP also tempts visitors with Chicago classic foods such as the Chicago hot dog, pizza from Lou Malnati’s, and Eli’s cheesecake. Where else in Chicago but the UP Comedy Club can you get a great meal in a beautifully decorated theater, listen to an impromptu Broadway-style musical vignette about God giving out tramp-stamps and watch Renee Zellweger battle Hitler with her dynamic dimple powers? UP Comedy Club is located on the 3rd floor of 230 W. North Avenue. Street parking and paid lot parking are available along the Wells Street. For more information or to inquire about tickets, call (312) 662-4562....

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