REVIEW: Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir (Ruckus)

     
     

To get out, you’ll need to use ‘em…or lose ‘em

     
     

Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir - Ruckus Theatre. Photo by Lucas Gerald

   
The Ruckus Theater presents
   
Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir
   
Book/Lyrics by Aaron Dean
Music/Lyrics by
Jason Rico
Directed by
Daniel Caffrey
at
Side Project Theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis (map)
through Jan 30  |  tickets: $15-$20  |  more info

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

The Emperor requests a performance by the up and coming boys choir. The royal attention spearheads strategies to keep the vocal stylings intact. What wouldn’t a choirmaster do to cash in on his established prepubescent harmonies? (Imagine Michael Jackson’s dad in 18th century Austria.) The Ruckus presents the world-premiere musical Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir. Originally conceived as a fable based on the Vienna Boys Choir, The Ruckus moved the setting to the fictional town of Haltsburg after a cease-and-desist letter from the VBC. The story centers around the questionable recruitment and retention practices of a boys choir. Back in the day, star performers would retain their position by being castrated. To maintain the higher cherubic quality, it was off with his balls. Motivated by the threat of castration, four boys skip choir practice to flee captivity. Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir promotes the tagline ‘to get out, you’ll need to use ‘em…or lose ‘em.’

Jeffrey Fauver as choir director in 'Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir' - Ruckus Theater. Photo by Lucas GeraldThe Ruckus is staging its world-premiere musical at Side Project Theatre.  It’s a 35 seat theatre with a 13 member cast plus a 4-piece band off-stage. The ambitious undertaking is ballsy! Playwright Aaron Dean has written a fable that chronicles the fugitives’ interactions with a witch, a dragon, a talking rock and a dancing penis. In a small venue, it’s a lot to take in. The Medieval choir torture is an intriguing horrific tale in itself. The puppet pageantry and ancillary characters could be snipped to focus on the real action, though the superfluous pieces do add fantasy elements. But instead of an orgy for the senses, it’s gets clunky, confusing and ultimately unsatisfying – a pleasurable experience is all about one solid thing probed deeper (pun intended?).

Under the direction of Daniel Caffrey, the cast works energetically to escape disaster. The quartet of runaways crawl, croon and create an exit plan. Kate Black (Johanne) leads the singers with an enthusiastic chipper. Alyse Kittner (Nils) brings the sass as a rambunctious sidekick. Liz Goodson (Arthur) anchors the foursome as the stalwart quiet one. Heather Moats (Sebastian) endears as the timid lost boy. Megan Gotz (Victors) connives as the jealous wannabe soloist. These gals don’t need balls to hit the right melody. With the talented he-shes and a tighter script, Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir will take flight. Snip-snip! “It’s easy as A-B-C, 1-2-3…”

  
   
Rating:
   
   

Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes with a fifteen minute intermission

One of the choirboys in 'Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir' at Ruckus Theater. Timo Aker as choir director in 'Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir' - Ruckus Theater. Photo by Lucas Gerald

Production photography by Lucas Gerald.

 

 

  
 

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Tympanic Ensemble announces their 4th Season

Daniel Caffrey, Artistic Director of Tympanic Theatre, has announced Tympanic Theatre’s fourth season, which will continue their residency at The Side Project.  Tympanic’s upcoming season of new work features plays by long-standing Tympanic collaborator Joshua Mikel (writer of the NYC Fringe hit Good Good Trouble On Bad Bad Island) and Randall Colburn (Pretty Penny, Hesperia, and the upcoming Ghost Boxes and Half Shut). The company will continue joining exciting creative forces with Adam Webster, Artistic Director of The Side Project. 

 

Tympanic Ensemble Theatre’s

2010-2011 Season

 

Muerto

Muerte Del Maestro by Joshua Mikel

November 28th – December 22nd, 2010
Sundays at 7pm, Mondays through Wednesdays at 8pm at The Side Project (1439 W. Jarvis Ave.)

Set against the savage backdrop of the bullfighting world in Atlantia, Spain, Muerte Del Maestro tells the story of Arturo and Kay Kay, two best friends who are pushed to bitter ends after the death of famed matador La Muerte Negra, as they both seek the notorious matador’s vacant throne. This thrilling piece will be directed by Adam Webster, Artistic Director of The Side Project.

 

 

verse chorus verse

Verse Chorus Verse by Randall Colburn

April 7th – May 1st, 2011 

Thursdays through Sundays at 8pm at The Side Project (1439 W. Jarvis Ave.)

Twenty years after the death of Kurt Cobain, media attention is drawn to an up-and-coming musical artist who may be the reincarnation of the deceased rock legend. When a former lover of Cobain’s emerges from the past, she pulls the musician and several others into another dimension in an attempt to revitalize Cobain completely, but instead uncovers unsettling truths about addiction, destiny, and rebirth. Verse Chorus Verse will be part of a unique workshop process this Winter, culminating in a publicly staged reading at the end of January 2011, prior to its full production in April, which opens on the anniversary weekend of Cobain’s death.

Tympanic Theater annnouces 4th Season in Chicago