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The Jungle (Comments Off)

Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle written to demonstrate the flight of the immigrant laborer in Chicago’s stockyards ended up getting the public to demand reforms in the food processing slaughterhouses. Adapter and director Matt Foss has mounted a moving and vividly blood curling adaptation of Sinclair’s The Jungle with emphasis on the toll and exploitation of the immigrant laborers by American society.

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Emerson String Quartet at Ravinia Festival (Comments Off)

The venerable Emerson String Quartet opened their Monday-night program at Ravinia with what is arguably the greatest piece for string-quartet by the greatest master of the genre. Op. 131 is part of the series of five quartets that together represent Beethoven’s last major achievement – he was dead within a year of its 1826 completion. Composed in seven movements instead of the usual four, it is perhaps the most ambitious attempt to create a string quartet of symphonic sweep, and the result is at once dazzling and overwhelming: by turns melancholy, mischievous, serene, and tragic. If one can follow the many diverse threads brought together over the course of these seven movements, it is an experience not quite like any other.

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The Beverly Hillbillies The Musical (Comments Off)

When playwright David Rogers got permission to use any of the hundreds of TV show episodes from Paul Henning, a stage comedy emerged and when Rogers (with help from his daughter upon his death) decided to create a musical version of The Beverly Hillbillies, they turned to an expert musical composer, Chicagoan Gregg Opelka who has penned many smart, tuneful musicals including Sour Du Jour and the Singing Cowboy.
This collaboration resulted in a slick, fun, and, of course, tuneful Broadway musical. This is not a country or bluegrass musical but rather a character driven musical that does feature country-ish tunes depiciting the Ozark hillbillies – the Clampets but it also contains songs about the Beverly Hills characters. The banker, his wife, the secretary and the folks who run the private school as well as the grifters who try to extort money from the Clampett’s all get their songs.

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The Emperor of Atlantis & The Clever One (Comments Off)

While both pieces, in their own way, were interesting. well sung and staged, The Clever One was more ambitious yet The Emperor of Atlantis was darker and more powerful. These seldom performed works are worthy of an audience as they are both historical as well as creative modern fairy tales rich in satire.

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