Monday, December 09, 2019

The Best of the Decade 2010-19: My Favorite Travel Destinations

I love to travel and was fortunate to get to many great places over the past decade.

Certainly, it's hard to compare trips, sights, experiences, etc., and gratefully, even more minor excursions to places like Kansas City, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Dayton were highly enjoyable.

I will cover my favorite restaurants in another post, though many of those will be local to Chicago and its suburbs.

The museums ranked below exclude any in the Chicago area, and I probably won't do a separate post for those, so should note my fondness for The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science & Industry, Field Museum, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, American Writers Museum, DuSable Museum of African-American History, Chicago Cultural Center and others.

Favorite Trips

1. Peru - 2018 
2. Europe (London, Paris, Krakow, Vienna, Budapest) - 2013 
3. Japan - 2019 
4. India - 2017 
5. Rio de Janeiro & Buenos Aires - 2014 
6. New York City - 2017 (also 2011, 2015)
7. Mexico City - 2015 
8. London & Paris - 2011
9. Washington DC, Baltimore & Philadelphia - 2016
10. Iowa Road Trip - 2013
11. Playa del Carmen & Chichen Itza - 2019 
12. Boston - 2018

Favorite Global Cities Visited

1. London
2. Krakow
3. Paris
4. Mexico City
5. Vienna

6. Tokyo
7. Budapest
8. Buenos Aires 
9. Rio de Janeiro 
10. Kyoto 
11. Mumbai 
12. Lima


Favorite U.S. Cities Visited

1. New York
2. Boston
3. Washington
4. Philadelphia
5. Grand Rapids
6. Mason City/Clear Lake, IA
7. Kansas City
8. Detroit
9. Cleveland
10. Key West
11. Las Vegas
12. Buffalo


Favorite Sights Seen

1. Machu Picchu (Peru)
2. Taj Mahal 
3. Eiffel Tower
4. El Castillo, Chichen Itza (Mexico)
5. Kinkaku-ji (Kyoto, Japan)
6. Big Ben
7. Amber Fort (Jaipur, India) 
8. Chand Baori Step Well (Abhaneri, India) 
9. Niagara Falls
10. Ollantaytambo Sanctuary (Peru)
11. Schönbrunn Palace (Vienna)
12. Flatiron Mountains (Boulder, CO)
13. Bethesda Fountain (Central Park, New York)
14. Liberty Bell/Independence Hall
15. Great Buddha of Kamakura 

Special note: It's hard to call Auschwitz-Birkenau a "favorite" site, but it was certainly among the most impactful places I visited this decade.


Favorite Events Attended Away From Home

1. 2016 World Series Games 1 & 2 - Cleveland, OH 
2. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - London, Washington, DC, others
3. Springsteen on Broadway - New York, 2017
4. Paul McCartney - Paris, Green Bay, St. Louis
5. Lollapalooza Buenos Aires - 2014
6. Moulin Rouge musical - Boston, 2018
7. U2 - Denver, 2011
8. The Book of Mormon - New York, 2011
9. Yakult Swallows baseball game - Tokyo, 2019
10. Red Sox vs. Yankees - Boston, 2018
11. Ebertfest - Champaign, IL, several years
12. The Rolling Stones - Detroit, 2015
13. The Who - Buffalo, 2019
14. Radiohead - Kansas City, 2017
15. Chelsea FC soccer game - London, 2011


Favorite Museums Visited Beyond Chicago

1. Louvre - Paris
2. Secretariat of Public Education Building (Rivera Murals) - Mexico City
3. National Gallery - London
4. National Gallery - Washington, DC
5. Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York
6. National Anthropology Museum - Mexico City
7. Belvedere Museum - Vienna
8. Gandhi Smitri - Delhi
9. Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame - Cleveland
10. Kunsthistorisches Museum - Vienna
11. Carillon Historical Park - Dayton
12. Frida Kahlo Museum - Mexico City
13. Courtauld Gallery - London
14. Detroit Institute of Arts
15. Tate Modern - London
16. Meijer Gardens - Grand Rapids

Plus several other art museums: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), Baltimore Museum of Art, Walters Art Museum (Baltimore), St. Louis Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Musée National d'Art Moderne (Paris), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia), Milwaukee Art Museum, Larco Museum (Lima)

Sunday, December 08, 2019

The Best of the Decade 2010-19: My Favorite Concert Acts

In a given year, I now see considerably more works of theater than I do rock concerts.

But I also see more rock concerts than most people I know.

And with at least one coming up before the end of the year--Wilco on Dec. 15 at the Chicago Theatre--my database of Shows Seen reveals I caught 353 concerts since the start of 2010.

On the list below you will several old favorites, some of whom I've seen going all the way back to 1981. (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers was the first concert I attended of my own volition, in June 1981.)

During the decade I made a point of seeing several veteran acts I never had, particularly of a New Wavish ilk--Duran Duran, New Order, Echo & the Bunnymen, Pet Shop Boys, The The, The Church, Jesus & Mary Chain and more--and some relatively newish acts, including Black Keys, Fleet Foxes, Dawes and The National.

Just this year, I made a point of seeing three legendary divas (Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, Cher) and during the decade I saw artists as disparate as Barry Manilow, Madonna, Phish, Earth Wind & Fire, Tool, James Taylor, The Zombies and Taylor Swift, twice.

And of all the concerts I attended over the past 10 years, including some free shows in local parks, there were probably less than 10 that I didn't at least enjoy.

I wrote reviews of almost all of them--use the Search Box to look them up--and awarded the vast majority at least @@@1/2 (out of 5), and even that was rare compared to @@@@ and above. (You may also want to see my yearly picks for Best Concerts of the Year, posted late each December.)

Though I saw various festival streams, full shows on YouTube, concert broadcasts, DVDs, etc., I am only considering acts I saw live in concert at least once during the decade. Most of the artists on the list below I also saw before this decade, many multiple times. And there is considerable similarity with My Favorite Concert Performers of the '00s.

But for the most part, the greats remained great and comprise my picks for:

The Best Concert Performers of the Decade

1. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Seen 11 times during the decade.

2. U2
Seen 9 times during the decade.

3. Arcade Fire
Seen 5 times during the decade.

4. Pearl Jam
Seen 7 times during the decade.

5. Paul McCartney
Seen 8 times during the decade.

6. The Rolling Stones
Seen 4 times during the decade.

7. Soundgarden
Seen 3 times during the decade.

8. AC/DC
Seen 3 times during the decade.

9. The Who
Seen 5 times during the decade.

10. Elvis Costello (& the Imposters)
Seen 5 times during the decade.

11. Bob Mould
Seen 6 times during the decade.

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)

Adele - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Ash - Seen 3 times during the decade.
Black Sabbath - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - Seen 5 times during the decade.
Buddy Guy - Seen 4 times during the decade.
David Byrne - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Leonard Cohen - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Coldplay - Seen 2 times during the decade.
Ray Davies - Seen 2 times during the decade. 
Depeche Mode - Seen 2 times during the decade.
ELO - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Fleetwood Mac - Seen 2 times during the decade.
John Fogerty - Seen 2 times during the decade.
Foo Fighters - Seen 3 times during the decade.
David Gilmour - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Green Day - Seen 2 times during the decade.
Guns 'n Roses - Seen 2 times during the decade + Slash solo
Elton John - Seen 2 times during the decade.
The Killers - Seen 3 times during the decade.
Maximo Park - Seen 2 times during the decade.
Metallica - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Midnight Oil - Seen 2 times during the decade.
Willie Nile - Seen 7 times during the decade.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Seen 2 times during the decade.
Robert Plant - Seen 3 times during the decade.
Radiohead - Seen 3 times during the decade.
The Replacements - Seen 2 times during the decade.
Rush - Seen 4 times during the decade.
The Struts - Seen 2 times during the decade.
Wilco - Seen 5 times during the decade + upcoming on 12/15 
Stevie Wonder - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Neil Young - Seen 3 times during the decade.
 
Special Mention (in alphabetical order)

Chuck Berry - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Aretha Franklin - Seen 1 time during the decade. 
Merle Haggard - Seen 1 time during the decade.
Prince - Seen 1 time during the decade.

Friday, December 06, 2019

The Best of the Decade 2010-19: Dave Brown's Favorite Novels (plus some books that I read)

Quite candidly, I (Seth) am not a great reader.

Sure I still read a newspaper (almost) daily, and though I've cut down on magazine subscriptions, I read a variety of articles online and off.

Each year, I do read some books, just relatively few compared to some friends and relatives.

Most of my reading for pleasure falls under the realm of page-turners.

I've read virtually everything, including in this decade, by my two favorite authors of suspense thrillers--Harlan Coben and Lee Child--and would recommend almost any of them. Linwood Barclay covers similar ground as Coben, and I've read a few of his. (You can find some reviews on this blog via the Search Box.)

Of other books released since 2010, I've read several popular thrillers--including Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, Inferno and Origin by Dan Brown--along with the first three mystery novels J.K. Rowling wrote under the pen name Robert Galbraith, and a trio by Keigo Higashino.

I very much enjoyed Stephen King's 11/22/63 and highly recommend The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

I buy and peruse various art, photography, travel and coffee table books on various subjects; a few that might make great gifts, even for yourself, are Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Finishing the Hat and Look I Made a Hat (both by Stephen Sondheim), Vic Muniz, Vivien Maier: Street Photographer and Destinations of a Lifetime (National Geographic).

I tend to buy but only partially read biographies--such as Ali by Jonathan Eig--but I read a bio and most of the autobiography on Bruce Springsteen and, early in this decade, read numerous books about income inequality and the factors behind the subprime mortgage crisis, economic meltdown and recession.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis was probably the most enlightening book I read this decade, and his Boomerang and Flash Boys were also excellent. Predator Nation, by Inside Job director Charles Ferguson, was another that stands out in memory.

So I do read--including the occasional classic like The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms and Slaughterhouse Five--just not nearly as much as I should. I'd like to read more, but compared to watching, writing and whatever else, I just don't fit it in all that much.

But my good pal Dave Brown is ALWAYS reading something, with a preference for substantive works of fiction. He tends to read paperbacks, so may be a year behind the latest smash--even currently--but rather than cobble together my own list of Best Books of the Decade, it seems prudent to put him in the driver's seat for this category. He estimates he's read 500-600 new novels in the past 10 years.

So to glean his far greater point of reference, read on for:

The Best Books (Fiction) of the Decade
according to David Brown

1. IQ84 - by Haruki Murakami

2. 4 3 2 1 - by Paul Auster

3. A God in Ruins - by Kate Atkinson

4. The Goldfinch - by Donna Tartt

5. 11/22/63 - by Stephen King

6. The Son - by Philipp Meyer


7. Dark Corners - by Ruth Rendell

8. The Nix - Nathan Hill

9. A Spool of Blue Thread- by Anne Tyler

10. The Paying Guests - by Sarah Waters

11. Emily, Alone - Stewart O'Nan


Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)

Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter

Blue Lightning - by Anne Cleeves
Carry the One - Carol Anshaw
City on Fire - Garth Risk Hallberg
The Lowland - by Jhumpa Lahiri
Solar - by Ian McEwan
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet - by David Mitchell
The Trespasser- by Tana French
The Underground Railroad - by Colson Whitehead
The Ways of the World - by Robert Goddard
The Widower's Tale - by Julia Glass

Thursday, December 05, 2019

The Best of the Decade 2010-19: My Favorite Solo Theatrical Performances

Following My Favorite New Musicals of the decade and My Favorite New Plays of the decade, this third Theater category is a bit odd.

Some of the Solo Theatrical Performances I selected below--or considered--were plays, just starring a single person. But I decided to loop them into this field.

My top pick below is a musician, but I'm not considering solo concerts, only shows done in a theatrical vein.

Others are quite comical and even starring comedians, but I'm not including stand-up comedy performances.

Again, however can be delineated, and sometimes imperfectly, these--and any work I considered eligible--were individual theatrical performances.

Some were memoirs written by the performer. Some were biographical, in which the star embodied a noteworthy figure, perhaps even writing the show. As noted, some were essentially plays with just one star (though possibly multiple characters).

But--to phrase it slightly differently and counting only performances I saw live--these were the:

The Best One-Person Shows of the Decade

1. Springsteen on Broadway - written & performed by Bruce Springsteen

2. Every Brilliant Thing - written by Duncan Macmillan; starring Rebecca Spence; Windy City Playhouse

3. Liberty City - written by April Yvette; starring Dionne Addis; Fleetwood-Jourdain Theater

4. Wiesenthal - written & performed by Tom Dugan

5. Pamplona - written by Jim McGrath; starring Stacy Keach; Goodman Theatre

6. Latin History for Morons - written & performed by John Leguizamo

7. Churchill - written & performed by Ronald Keaton

8. Until the Flood - written & performed by Dael Orlandersmith; Goodman Theatre

9. A Map of Myself - written & performed by Sara Abou Rashed

10. Wishful Drinking - written & performed by Carrie Fisher

11. Buyer & Cellar - written by Jonathan Tolins; starring Michael Urie


Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)

Hemingway's Hot Havana - written & performed by Brian Gordon Sinclair
Lady in Denmark - written by Dael Orlandersmith; starring Linda Gehringer; Goodman Theatre
Long Story Short - written & performed by Colin Quinn
Unveiled - written & performed by Rohina Malik
Why Not Me: A Sammy Davis Jr. Story - written by Tim Rhoze; starring Sean Blake

I did not include links to my reviews of these shows, but you should be able to find most using the Search Box.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

What a Time It Was: No Lie La Lie, 'The Simon & Garfunkel Story' Deftly Pairs Harmony with Jubilation -- Chicago Theater Review

Theater Review

The Simon & Garfunkel Story
Broadway Playhouse, Chicago
Thru December 8
@@@@1/2

As a theatrical production, The Simon & Garfunkel Story—presented locally under the auspices of Broadway in Chicago—is rather basic and lightweight.

It’s essentially a tribute concert, with some biographical information provided via onstage narration and accompanying video.

Although two performers—on Tuesday, George Clements and Andrew Wade, who share the roles with another pair—effectively represent Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel visually and vocally, they aren’t really acting, per se.

Though providing background and singing songs—Clements, the ersatz Simon, also plays guitar, backed by a 4-piece band—never do the pair refer to one another as Paul and Art; narration is in the third person.

In terms of narrative depth, this isn’t a jukebox musical on par with Jersey Boys, Beautiful or other prime examples.

Although it is selling quite well in Chicago, touring the U.S. and giving audiences worldwide a swell taste of one of the best catalogs in folk/rock history, The Simon & Garfunkel Story is seemingly devoid of the involvement or blessing of the real duo, whose likenesses are never seen in the videos. 

And while the songs are all well-performed, as a tribute show the endeavor is not nearly as thrilling
as seeing the real Simon & Garfunkel—as I did in 2003—or any other legendary live act.

So in direct comparison to other musical theater productions or rock concerts, my @@@@1/2 rating (out of 5) might seem a bit askew.

But not only did I enjoy every moment of the show due to the terrific music, I found the whole thing to be quite impressively put-together.

Clements and Wade looked and sounded convincingly like Simon and Garfunkel, handling the trademark harmonies exquisitely.

The backing musicians—guitarist Josh Vasquez, bassist Marc Encabo, drummer Bob Sale and keyboardist Alec Hamilton—were excellent, and demonstrably enthusiastic without ever coming too much to the fore.

Though the chronological information provided likely went no deeper than what can be found on Wikipedia, it was nicely composed—no writer is credited, though Dean Elliott is cited as both Show Director and Musical Supervisor—and provided some insights beyond my familiarity.

I didn’t realize that Simon & Garfunkel’s 1964 debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. flopped upon release, prompting Simon to go off and tour England by himself, where he recorded a solo album.

Or that “The Sound of Silence” only became a #1 hit in late 1965 after—following latent interest kindled by DJs in Boston and Florida—album producer Tom Wilson remixed it with rock instrumentation (notably he had also worked with Bob Dylan on “Like a Rolling Stone”) without the awareness or initial approval of the duo.

Some light was also shed on Simon & Garfunkel’s breakup at the height of their popularity in 1970--I also didn't realize that Bridge Over Troubled Water sold more copies than any previous album, including by Elvis, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc.--but nothing negative or untoward was shared or intimated about either man.

And as a fan who has always been most familiar with, literally, Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits (released in 1972)I greatly appreciated this show turning me onto—or expanding my awareness of—several songs that weren’t long ingrained in my memory.

Yes, all the major hits were played—"The Sound of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “The Boxer,” “Cecilia,” "I Am a Rock," "America" and many more—and played well. Wade's nicely hit Garfunkel’s high notes and his lead vocals on “Bridge of Troubled Water” were terrific.

But well beyond "Hey Schoolgirl," recorded in 1957 when duo had dubbed themselves Tom & Jerry, and somewhat well-known tunes like "Richard Cory," "Baby Driver," "Old Friends" and "The Only Living Boy in New York," the artists onstage excelled in reaching deeper for songs--often with helpful introductions--such as "Bleecker Street," "He Was My Brother," "Leaves That Are Green," "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" and "Patterns."

As with a great rock concert, a stellar jukebox musical about a single artist should reiterate your appreciation while ideally expanding it. And though I wouldn't quite rank it among the best concerts or musicals--no need to revamp my list of favorite musicals of the decade--The Simon & Garfunkel Story really did succeed in both those ways.

Beware that tickets are a bit pricey. Without a Press Night invite or inclusion in my Broadway in Chicago subscription series, I was able to buy a couple back row seats that weren't too expensive, but it seems remaining tickets for the run through the weekend--at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place--could cost close to $100, or even more.

And one could argue the "show" doesn't deliver much more than an excellent Beatles cover band or any of the myriad tribute acts that can be seen rather inexpensively at community festivals or local bars.

So whether it's "worth it" is a judgment you'll have to make. But with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel both 78 years of age and seemingly never touring again, at least together if not individually, this show is doing good box office because these songs still deserve to be heard live.

For what it is--regardless of what it isn't, including the "real thing"--The Simon & Garfunkel Story is really good. (Without knowing any of the legal ramifications, it seems like a show Paul and Art should support.)

And with so many great songs to be heard--including "Fakin' It"--the replications definitely beat the sound of silence. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Best of the Decade 2010-19: My Favorite New Plays Seen Onstage

If you need a long-winded disclaimer, refer to my previous post--covering My Favorite New Musicals of the decade--as the same stipulations apply.

Here I am gauging only new plays first produced on Broadway or in Chicagoland since the start of 2010.

Only shows I personally saw, live, are eligible.

Picks for the best non-musical theater productions of any vintage are covered in Best Plays of the Year lists, each December since 2010 and upcoming for 2019.

You can see My Favorite Plays of the '00s here.

Solo theatrical performances, starring just one individual, will be covered in a separate category.

The Best New Plays of the Decade

1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - by Simon Stephens

2. The Steadfast Tin Soldier - Mary Zimmerman

3. The Outgoing Tide - Bruce Graham

4. Mary Page Marlowe - Tracy Letts

5. Outside Mullingar - John Patrick Shanley

6. Yasmina's Necklace - Rohina Malik

7. War Horse - Nick Stafford

8. Trust - Allison Torem

9. 33 Variations - Moises Kaufman

10. The Minutes - Tracy Letts

11. Clybourne Park - Bruce Norris


Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)

A Shayna Maidel - Barbara Lebow
Airline Highway - Lisa D'Amour
Assassination Theater - Hillel Levin
Black Ballerina - Stephen Fedo & Tim Rhoze
The Book Thief - Heidi Stillman
Cambodian Rock Band - Lauren Yee
Chinglish - David Henry Hwang
Cry It Out - Molly Smith Metzler
Curve of Departure - Rachel Bonds
Downstate - Bruce Norris
Exit Strategy - Ike Holter
Faceless - Selina Fillinger
Funnyman - Bruce Graham
The Gentleman Caller - Philip Dawkins
The Herd - Rory Kinnear
A Home on the Lake - Stephen Fedo & Tim Rhoze 
The Legend of Georgia McBride - Matthew Lopez
Linda - Penelope Skinner
Luna Gale - Rebecca Gilman
The Mecca Tales - Rohina Malik
Mothers & Sons - Terrence McNally
Oslo - J.T. Rogers
Other Desert Cities - Jon Robin Baltz
The Qualms - Bruce Norris
The Royale - Marco Ramirez
The Undeniable Sound of Right Now - Laura Eason

I did not include links to my reviews of these shows, but you should be able to find most using the Search Box.

Monday, December 02, 2019

The Best of the Decade 2010-19: My Favorite New Musicals Seen Onstage

Since the beginning of 2010, I've seen about 300 live musicals, typically about 30 per year.

These have ranged from longstanding classics to world premieres, from Broadway and London's West End down to community theater and high school productions--and at virtually every level and venue-type in between.

For my annual rankings of "Best Musicals Seen Onstage"--posted in late December since 2010; you can find these lists in the Blog Archives--I have cited the best musical productions seen each year, regardless of vintage.

Not surprisingly, well-done renditions of all-time favorite musicals such as Les Miserables, West Side Story, The Producers, Cabaret, The Sound of Music, Wicked, Avenue Q and various Stephen Sondheim shows have been usual suspects high on these lists.

"The Best Musicals I Saw Onstage in 2019" will be a separate post and include shows both old and new.

But this, my initial Best of the Decade category for 2010-19--you can find "My Favorite New Musicals of the '00s" here--will focus solely on musicals first staged on Broadway or in Chicago since the start of 2010.

Hence, new musicals this decade.

There may be a few--whether selected below or just that I considered eligible--that originated in London before this decade but didn't hit Broadway and/or Chicago until during it (e.g. Sister Act).  I'm also allowing at least one show (Next to Normal) that bowed on Broadway in 2009 but whose first tour didn't hit Chicago until this decade.

Although I may have gotten a decent inkling of some shows via cast recordings, YouTube clips, Tony Award telecasts, etc., only musicals I saw onstage at least once this decade are included in my picks or considerations. But I saw about 125 new musicals, including 9 of 10 Best Musical Tony winners and 30 of 42 nominees.

I have not seen Hadestown, the 2019 Tony winner, or a few other notable shows.

Using the Tony Award for Best New Musical category as a point of reference, new stage musicals with pre-existing origins or songs--Newsies, An American in Paris, Once, School of Rock, etc.--are eligible.

Any new musical productions I saw in Chicagoland count, even if the show never ran on Broadway or in London. But although a musical I love--The Visit--finally reached Broadway in 2015 after a 14-year gestation, and I saw it there, I'm not including it here as it was on my Best of 2000-09 list.

I will not factor in revues, although Sondheim on Sondheim and Baritones Unbound were both fantastic. And Springsteen on Broadway will be covered in another category.

As noted, some shows I saw multiple times in the decade, while others just once and perhaps not recently. But there are actually a few musicals I liked a good bit less upon a second viewing (while trying not to weigh any specific production too heavily).

So, as inherent in all my lists to come throughout this month, this one is replete with flaws, whims, inconsistencies, incongruities, yada, yada, yada.

But I think it's about time to raise the curtain.

The Best New Stage Musicals of the Decade

1. Hamilton
Seen on Broadway tour production in Chicago; 3 times.

2. The Book of Mormon
Seen on Broadway once; National Tours in Chicago, 3 times.

3. Moulin Rouge
Seen pre-Broadway in Boston

4. Dear Evan Hansen
Seen on National Tour in Chicago

5. Come From Away
Seen pre-Broadway in Washington, DC; National Tour in Chicago

6. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Seen on National Tours in Chicago, twice.

7. Matilda
Seen in London; National Tour in Chicago; Local production

8. Kinky Boots
Seen pre-Broadway in Chicago; National Tour in Chicago

9. Next to Normal
Seen on National Tour in Chicago; Local Productions, 3 times

10. Tootsie
Seen pre-Broadway in Chicago

11. Bright Star
Seen as a local Chicago production

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)

Aftermath (an unauthorized Rolling Stones musical in Chicago) 
An American in Paris
The Band's Visit
The Bridges of Madison County
A Christmas Story
Finding Neverland
Fun Home
The Jungle Book
The Last Ship
On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Musical
Ride the Cyclone


I did not include links to my reviews of these shows, but you should be able to find most using the Search Box.

Give Up the Funk: The Great George Clinton Leads a Vast Assemblage of Talent at the Venue at Horseshoe Casino -- Chicago Concert Review

Concert Review

George Clinton
A Celebration of Parliament-Funkadelic
w/ opening acts Sounds of Slave
and The Ohio Players
The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, Hammond, IN
November 29, 2019
@@@@

I have long known of George Clinton—going back at least 25 years if not considerably longer—and have always held the funk legend in high regard.

Back in 1994, I saw Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars at Lollapalooza, and just a few months ago enjoyed a revue of his music and that of other funk titans in a Black Ensemble Theater show called You Can’t Fake the Funk.

But although I’m an appreciative fan, I'm far from an expert one.

Even in perusing Wikipedia, I’m a bit unclear on the delineations between Parliament, Funkadelic, P-Funk, what songs came when and the breadth or timeline of Clinton’s musical cohorts.

Sometime in 2018, Clinton—who is now 78—seemingly revealed that he would retire from touring in May 2019, and in having missed Parliament-Funkadelic’s show at the Aragon on May 31, I didn’t think I’d have another chance.

Sounds of Slave
So I was a bit surprised when my friend Dave—who is a far bigger fan of P-Funk but also imprecise
as to all the machinations—asked if I wanted to see George Clinton at the Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond over Thanksgiving weekend.

Dave and I did go on Friday night, to a show dubbed A Celebration of Funk: George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.

Clinton himself was certainly there, at centerstage for the headlining set, and great funk tunes like “Flashlight,” “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker),” “Get Up for the Downstroke” and “Atomic Dog” were performed.

Even before audience members were brought onstage at one point, around 20 other people were onstage with Clinton, with many stellar musicians, vocalists and dancers, some seemingly rotating through various responsibilities.

Regrettably, I do not know any of their names, but I’m certain legendary bassist Bootsy Collins was not on-hand.

The Ohio Players
Which is all to convey that I’m unsure if this was an official Parliament-Funkadelic show, or exactly what the parameters were, but as of November 29, George Clinton had decidedly not yet retired from performing.

All told, Dave and I—along with an enthusiastic if not quite full audience—enjoyed three hours of quality music, performed by at least 50 different people onstage, plus an MC/comedian called BLT (Bryant Turner being his full name).

Though no one other than Clinton was advertised, the show started with a vast outfit called Sounds of Slave.

With at least 20 musicians and singers sharply adorned in black & red outfits, they played funk songs that sounded akin to classics, but which may well have been originals. One seemingly was called “Just a Touch of Love.”

Certainly a nice way to start the evening.

Then, after some decent comedy from BLT, came the Ohio Players.

Yes, the Ohio Players, who were a rather big band in the 1970s, with two #1 singles.

Odd that they weren't advertised, but from Wikipedia, it's hard to tell that they're still an extant entity.

Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, who was the frontman of the Dayton-based band in their heyday, passed away in 2013.

But from what I could piece together, it seems that at least two key Players from the '70s--drummer James "Diamond" Williams and keyboardist Billy Beck--remain in the current lineup.

They both are credited among several co-writers of "Love Rollercoaster"--the January 1976 chart topper that opened their half-hour set and was my favorite song heard all night--and "Fire," which was #1 the prior year and closed the Ohio Players' performance in Northwest Indiana.

P-Funk--if that's indeed accurate--then played for about an hour, with at least 4 or 5 people handling lead vocal duties, including Clinton and seemingly two of his rapping grandsons.

Though not the tightest of performances, the set had a great, funky vibe throughout and offered a variety of nice moments from the myriad artists onstage.

Great guitar, bass and saxophone solos. Check.

Dynamic dancing. Check.

Cool chants, such as "We want the funk! Give up the funk!" Check.

Clinton down in the crowd. Check.

Impressive rapping. Check.

Fun renditions of "Flashlight," "Atomic Dog," "Star Child" and more. Check.

A good time had by all. Check.

A fine evening of prime funk. Check.

A bit more appreciation for the impact and greatness of George Clinton. Check, check, check.