Monday, July 16, 2012

Saturday Night, Live, with Prime Time Comedy and a Stellar Musical Act -- Review: TJ and Dave, plus Ike Reilly

Theater / Improv / Music Review

TJ and Dave (an improv duo)
with opening act Ike Reilly (a singer)
July 14, 2012
Theater on the Lake, Chicago

As this blog reflects, I've been to many types of performances at a great number of venues in and around Chicago (and beyond). But until Saturday night I had never been--or even ever seriously considered going--to one of the city's most venerable theatrical spaces: Theater on the Lake.

Although I had long presumed that this was some kind of small outdoor amphitheater, the theater space is inside a building just east of Lake Shore Drive at Fullerton.

Built in 1920 as a sanitarium--not for insane people but babies with tuberculosis--the red brick structure has presented summer Theater on the Lake programming since 1953. At least in recent years, if not longer, it seems TOTL stages productions by various local theater groups, typically works those troupes have presented during the past theater season.

I've seen some shows that have been reprised at TOTL, but Saturday was my initial visit to the lakefront venue for a summertime production, and rather than a play or musical, I took in an improv duo preceded by a rock/folk singer.

As the program notes indicate, TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi have been performing as TJ and Dave for over 10 years. They can be seen weekly at iO Chicago--where I caught them once--and every other month in New York at the Barrow Street Theatre.

Rather than take any suggestions or stimulus from the audience, they simply play off each other for the better part of an hour, seemingly with a central scenario around which tangential dialogue revolves and occasionally intersects.

Saturday, their primary strain of improvisation was a job interview, including preparing for it, arriving at the office, being greeted by an employee and finally being interviewed by a manager, in the company of the greeting employee. That TJ and Dave each at times played the interviewee and the manager, while TJ also played the "greeter," should give some indication as to how quick and adaptable these guys are.

I rarely found it laugh out loud funny, as the woman next to me did seemingly non-stop, but much of it was quite humorous. Especially in the far too warm Theater on the Lake, I was glad TJ & Dave didn't go on much longer than they did, but they made for a worthy enticement to check it out.

Especially with Libertyville's Ike Reilly playing a solid half-hour set accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. I came to know of Reilly a few years back and have been tremendously impressed by full-band gigs I've seen by The Ike Reilly Assassination. Ike wasn't quite as exciting on his own, but certainly reiterated that he's a gifted songwriter and singer.

Highlights included "Devil's Valentine," whose lyrics come from a poem Ike's late father had written in 1942, a new song whose title I didn't catch and the closing "Commie Drives a Nova"

The same combination--TJ & Dave with Ike Reilly--performed at Theater on the Lake Wednesday through Sunday. Although you've missed this run (unless you didn't), either act--let alone both--is well worth your time for an enjoyable evening of entertainment.

As for Theater on the Lake, I'm glad I went, but am not planning to rush back real soon. That might be more the fault of the crazily hot weather than the programming--a couple other shows on their schedule did catch my eye--but although it was a satisfying evening, a bit more A/C would've been nice, or, on a cooler evening, simply the outdoors.

1 comment:

Bobster said...

Seth saw this performance with one of TJ & Dave's biggest fans, fellow culture-vulture Bob Rashkow, who didn't know that Homer's Ice Cream also serves fast food (almost mistyped as "fat", which does make sense). Bob also enjoyed Ike Reilly but it was his first time. (Hearing him, that is)