Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-10-10
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER REVIEW Defacing Michael Jackson
by Kerry Reid
2018-08-01

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Aurin Squire

At: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: 773-327-5252; Stage773.com; $40. Runs through: Aug. 12

When Michael Jackson's album Thriller came out in 1982, it became a cultural touchstone. When Jackson died in 2009 after years of tabloid gossip and accusations of sexual abuse ( he was acquitted in court ), it was the Thriller-era Michael—who dominated MTV and reimagined the music video with the title track—many chose to remember.

That Michael is also at the heart of Aurin Squire's Defacing Michael Jackson, in which a group of Black kids in Opa-locka, Florida ( Squire's hometown ), form a Michael Jackson fan club in 1984. This mostly consists of going to the home of Obadiah ( or "Obie" ), the only one whose family has a VCR, and watching the Thriller video several times a week. When a white kid moves into the neighborhood who also loves Jackson—and whose father has the means to help the club realize its dream of putting up a public mural of the superstar—it sets in play a series of shifting loyalties and confrontations. Crossover appeal can't serve as a cure-all for white privilege.

Squire's play started out as a one-act, and the grimmer second act in this Flying Elephant Productions staging by Alexis J. Roston feels like it loses some steam by the end. But the four members of the cast—especially Christopher Taylor as Obie and Jory ( JoJo ) Pender as Frenchy, the president of the fan club—do lovely work embodying much younger people who are on the cusp of figuring out who they really are, for better or worse.

From Obie's initial praise of 1984 as "the year of the eternal future," the foursome deals with sexual awakening, class envy, colorism ( relatively privileged Obie is described as "high yellow," while Frenchy's darker complexion earns her abuse ) and other thorny issues. Not all of these get the attention they arguably deserve—particularly what's going on with Jack ( Sam Martin ), the white kid in the group. ( His real name is Wesley, but the others rename him, a la "Cracker Jack." ) He carries damage from his father, including the poison of racist ideas.

There's also the casual cruelty the kids show toward club members Red and Yellow—twins cunningly played by Eldridge Shannon III with just a shift in headgear. The latter is a delinquent and the former is called "retarded" because he stutters.

As the mural takes shape over the course of the show, it's clear that it can't cover up the growing problems in a town that, by 2004, had the highest violent crime rate of any U.S. city. The hope that Jackson's success represents for the kids will soon be overshadowed by AIDS and crack and the ceaseless grind of racial oppression. But Squire also reminds us of the sheer joy amid the heartbreaks of finding—for one brief point in time—people who love what you love and want to rock with you.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Illeana Douglas 2018-10-14 - Illeana Douglas is a renaissance woman. Her distinguished career includes theater, standup comedy, movies, including several Martin Scorsese films, TV, writing, music ...


Gay News

Twelve Chicago-based LGBTQ+ performing arts organizations to perform together 2018-10-13 - CHICAGO, October 11, 2018 — Chicago Gay Men's Chorus celebrates 35 years of making music with their upcoming holiday show 35th Anniversary Holiday ...


Gay News

New World Play Festival through Oct 27 2018-10-11 - CHICAGO - Following the success of their 12th season of productions, culminating with the critically acclaimed Not One Batu, Nothing Without a Company ...


Gay News

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 2018-10-10 - By Simon Stephens At Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets: 312-335-1650 or Steppenwolf.org; $20-$30 Runs through: Oct. 27 ...


Gay News

The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe, A Love Story 2018-10-10 - By David Rice At: First Folio Theatre, Mayslake Hall, Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oak Brook. Tickets: firstfolio.org; $34 - $44. ...


Gay News

Oxy, Ohio 2018-10-10 - Playwright S J. Spencer At The Side Project Theatre Company at McKaw Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave. Tickets: TheSideProject.net; $15-$20. Runs through: Oct. ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2018-10-10 - Indecent, Victory Gardens at the Biograph, through Nov. 4. The history of a play surviving through good times and bad invites us to ...


Gay News

La Boheme 2018-10-10 - By Giacomo Puccini At: Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20. N. Wacker Dr. Tickets: 312-827-5600; LyricOpera.org; $49-$279 . Runs through: Oct. 20 ...


Gay News

Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 2018-10-10 - By Roald Dahl ( original novel ), David Grieg ( book ), Marc Sharman ( music and lyrics ) and Scott Witt ( ...


Gay News

Zurich 2018-10-10 - Playwright: Amelia Roper At: Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn Ave. Tickets: $10-$38; 773-649-3168; SteepTheatre.com . Runs through: Nov. 10 A ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.