Review: Down & Dirty Romeo & Juliet (Shattered Globe)

  
  

Who will play your Romeo? Who will be your Juliet?

  
  

Dion Rice (Romeo) and Alice Pacyga (the Nurse) star in Shattered Globe Theatre’s interactive and ever-changing production of DOWN & DIRTY ROMEO & JULIET playing at various Chicago venues.  (Photo: Kevin Viol)

   
Shattered Globe Theatre presents
  
  
Down & Dirty Romeo & Juliet
   
   
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Roger Smart
at various Chicago locations (see below)
through July 17  |  tickets: $18   |  more info

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

‘Where art thou Romeo?’  Well, Juliet, last time I saw him, he was on the 94th floor of the Hancock….

Shattered Globe Theatre presents Down & Dirty Romeo & Juliet.  Shakespeare’s greatest love story ever told is being told in various locales around the city.  The Montagues and Capulets hate each other.  Their family feud is the town’s gang problem.  For fun, the Montagues crash the Capulets’ house party. It’s just a silly prank until Romeo falls hard for the host’s daughter.  But he’s not alone in enemy territory, Juliet is equally smitten.  Their forbidden love unites them in fatal ecstasy.  Christina Gorman (Lady Capulet) and Angie Shriner (Juliet) star in Shattered Globe Theatre’s interactive and ever-changing production of DOWN & DIRTY ROMEO & JULIET playing at various Chicago venues.  (Photo: Kevin Viol)The story is familiar.  The surroundings may not be.  Shattered Globe takes Shakespeare’s ‘all the world’s a stage’ to heart and hits the road.  Down & Dirty Romeo & Juliet is a classic to go!

The unique experience starts upon arrival.  At check-in, the audience must pick a side.  Each guest is literally labeled Montague or Capulet.  A cheat sheet of Shakespearian insults is issued to help the discord mood.  Guests are encouraged to concoct personalized abuse from piecing together four columns of choices.  My favorite is ‘grow unsightly warts thou puking maggot-pie.’  It’s all a part of a build-your-own-adventure theme.  Before the show starts, actors are introduced with their potential parts.  By applause and cheers, the audience decides on the starting line-up.  Roles are assigned and the action starts immediately.  There’s no curtain, stage or fourth wall separating the drama from reality.  The story unfolds in between tables.  Because they are wearing street clothes, it’s impossible to tell the actors from the audience. At the Capulet’s dance party, it’s a blur of family enemies and non-acting revelry.  The interactive experience is a surreal engagement. 

Under the direction of Roger Smart, the show is tightly paced professionalism. It’s an impressive surprise. The informality around the show, before it starts and during intermission, seems to indicate a more loose affair.  The charades-in-the-living-room comfy vibe is sidelined as the first line cues up the polished acting.  The Shakespearean prose is delivered with conversational passion. On the night I attended, the doomed lovers were Behzad Dabu (Romeo) and Melissa Nedell (Juliet). Dabu and Nedell have all the youthful innocence of love at first sight: charming, lusty, slightly clumsy flirtation. Their sweet synergy produces a hopeful optimism for a possible different story outcome. The entire cast fights, dances, dies with zesty commitment. Despite the obvious rehearsed mastery, there is still an improv twist.  An actor will interface with an audience member as in conversation or just by stealing a sip of beer.  During my performance, a young girl was coughing during Lord Capulet’s (Brad Woodward) monologue.  With a perfectly uttered ‘we are all dying’ line, Woodward cracks the house up.  Alice Pacyga (Nurse) is hilarious delivering some sass while chomping down at the refreshment table.

Dion Rice (Romeo) interacts with audience member (Balthasar) in Shattered Globe Theatre’s interactive and ever-changing production of DOWN & DIRTY ROMEO & JULIET playing at various Chicago venues. (Photo: Kevin Viol)The Hancock provided incomparable scenery to the Shakespearean tragedy. The sunset magnificently filled the room with a vibrant glow. Although missing its earlier line cue, the moon did finally rise beautifully over the lake. In the background, the city shimmered into its evening wear adding an urban enchantment. It looks stunning but it sounds not so attractive. The only issue with the Hancock locale is the noise level. The show utilizes the Observatory’s café for the production. It’s not closed to the non-theatre public. Unfortunately, the chatter is most distracting at very tender moments when the actors use softer voices. Because the tale is legendary, the issue doesn’t poison the overall effect. It just annoyingly stabs it… several times. Down & Dirty Romeo & Juliet is an entertaining one-of-a-kind theatrical experience…every show!

  
  
Rating: ★★★
    
   

Performance Times and Locations (more to come)

        
Monday, May 16th, 7:30pm
Hancock Observatory, 875 N. Michigan
Tickets only $3 
Buy Tickets
  Thursday, May 19th, 7:00 PM
The Spot, 4437 N. Broadway
Tickets: $18 
Buy Tickets
            
Sunday, May 22nd, 7:30pm 
Hancock Observatory, 875 N. Michigan  
Tickets: $18
Buy Tickets
  Tuesday, May 24th, 7:00pm
Schubas, 3159 N. Southport
Tickets $18
Buy tickets
       
Sunday, May 29th, 7:00pm
Justins, 3358 N. Southport  
Tickets: $18
Buy Tickets
   July 17th, 24th and 31st
Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph
Times and Tickets: TBA

Angie Shriner (Juliet) and Dion Rice (Romeo) star in Shattered Globe Theatre’s interactive and ever-changing production of DOWN & DIRTY ROMEO & JULIET playing at various Chicago venues. (Photo: Kevin Viol)Running Time:  Two hours and fifteen minutes includes an intermission

  
  

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REVIEW: Flaming Dames Bourbon Street Burlesque

Let the good times roll!

BSB3_Photo by Leslie Kerrigan

New Millennium Theatre presents:

The Flaming Dames in Bourbon Street Burlesque

through 27th at The Spot, 4427 N. Broadway (more info)

review by K.D. Hopkins

 

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

That means “let the good times roll”, and they were rolling in Uptown on a cold Saturday night. The Spot on Broadway was the place to be and The Flaming Dames in Bourbon Street Burlesque was a bawdy good time. This was burlesque in more of a variety show genre than some of the other revues making the rounds. That is the old BSB1_Photo by Leslie KerriganNew Orleans tradition that is a delicate balance of naughty dancing and what used to be called blue comedy.

The Spot is a labyrinth of rooms and yet wide open which is reminiscent of a New Orleans dance hall such as the gone and lamented Tipitina’s. It was the perfect setting as we settled in with a couple of Voodoo cocktails. The pineapple and mystery liquor worked its magic as the emcee Remy the Gator LaRue took the stage. LaRue was a host in the Harry Anderson tradition wearing the fedora and a sly smile. I was a bit disappointed that he was not more a part of the show with some slight of hand and rim shot punctuated one-liners. He introduced the very able show musicians Bangin’ Bobby Bayou and the Missionary Position Band and then the “Flaming Dames”.

The ladies had appropriately kitschy names that brought howls and whistles from the audience. Lady Laveau, Victoria Voodoo, Zoe Zydeco, Bourbon Street Betty, and Cajun Spice were a lovely group of talented dancer and singers, replete with chorus girl style dances that ended mostly clothed with a tease of pasties.

One of the hallmarks of burlesque is individual talent such as fan dancing, contortion, spinning tassels and such – it’s disappointing that this doesn’t take place in this show, as it could have showcased the ladies better). This is a group revue that could have give more individual justice to the dancers, though still a vivacious and beautiful group who definitely are having a great time clicking (among other things) with the audience.

The comic relief is in the ample form of the hostess Queen Bee and host King of Mardi Gras. Queen Bee is straight out of “Wigstock” with the huge hair and enormous assets. The King of Mardi Gras should be the comic foil to Queen Bee, and If he would play it as the head of a New Orleans Mardi Gras crew, it might come off a bit funnier. Instead, the King acts more like a frat boy wandering the Quarter after a thermos of Hurricanes in his underwear.

BSB2_Photo by Leslie Kerrigan

The banter between King and the Dames starts off like a fight on a trashy daytime show. In fact, one of the audience members started chanting “Jerry! Jerry!” As the show continues, however, they manage to salvage the comedy.  But a honing of comic skills would be in order. The best vaudeville and burlesque comics master the art of the double-entendre and deliver adult humor with a knowing wink instead of gratuitous f-bombs. But one must surmise that the low-brow trivia questions with the audience members was overall a success the night I went by the fact that a spectator took off his shirt. The colorful beads were flying and he got as many appreciative screams as the dancers.

The show features a great recorded soundtrack that’s full of the kind of slinky and suggestive music that one might hear emanating from bars in the Big Easy. The show is about 45 minutes long – a perfect amount of time to down a couple of Voodoos as the show reaches completion.

The Flaming Dames in Bourbon Street Burlesque is a fun and rowdy way to warm up a winter night. You’ll no doubt feel impervious to the wind slicing down Broadway when walking to the train, considering you experienced a winning combo of great dancing and music. And the Voodoo cocktails hit the spot. What are in those things anyway?! Enjoy responsibly.

Rating: ★★½

BSB5__Photo by Leslie Kerrigan ASIDE: Personally, I had a great time and came home with a few beads around my neck. No, I did not flash my goodies – I answered a trivia question correctly and thus more decorations for the Christmas tree this year.

The Flaming Dames in Bourbon Street Burlesque” plays Friday and Saturday nights through February 27th at 10:15 pm. There are no shows on the 12th or 13th but there will be special Mardi Gras shows on Tuesday, February 16th. The Spot is located at 4437 N. Broadway near the Wilson Red Line or 36 Broadway bus. Either route is vaudeville warm up on weekend nights. Have fun!