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 2018-08-15
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



THEATER REVIEW Heartbreak Hotel
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times by Regina Victor

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Floyd Mutrux

At Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St. Tickets: $35-75. Runs Through: Sept. 30

Heartbreak Hotel is the prequel to acclaimed musical Million Dollar Quartet.

Set in Memphis, Tennessee during 1954-57, it follows the story of a young Elvis Presley at the start of his career. Sam Phillips, B.B. King and the Blue Moon Boys all make appearances in this jukebox musical. At first, Elvis and his band The Blue Moon Boys are inventing Rockabilly with Sam Phillips, but then the predatory Colonel from RCA Records appears. Jerry Kinion gives the cigar puffing executive a crass and hilarious portrayal. The dramatic tension surrounds the decision Elvis must make between his roots with Sam and the Blue Moon Boys, or to go to RCA and become a star.

It is difficult to invest in Eddie Clendening's Elvis, he is not very engaging and at times actually difficult to understand. Luckily, he is backed by an incredibly fine ensemble that does most of the work of holding this show together. Zach Lentino as upright bassist Bill Black is nothing short of spectacular. Lentino plays the bass while sitting on it, straddling it, spinning it, standing on it, and while talented guitarist Scotty Moore ( Matt Codina ) plays the guitar on top of it! Black's homosexuality is also hinted at—an interesting plot point for the time period.

Rounding out the ensemble were singers Geno Henderson ( Chuck Berry, B.B. King and Others ), Takesha Meshé Kizart ( Ruth Brown and others ) and Katherine Lee Bourné ( Rosetta Tharpe and others ). They are responsible for playing every Black musician Elvis ever stole from, and they are amazing. Bourné in particular possess an incredible soprano belt that kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Henderson performs circles around Clendening which left me wishing Elvis had just left Black music alone.

It is heavily suggested that Elvis was aware of and felt remorse for stealing Black music, and was pressured into not admitting it by his record labels. There is absolutely no evidence for this, and yet in the restroom audience members were discussing Elvis' unknown respect for Black music. This message of Elvis as a civil rights pioneer is hammered home with a montage of Black bodies being strangled and hosed, which was an unnecessary use of violence on Black bodies to fortify this false and irresponsible premise.

Another saving grace of this production was the projection and lighting design by Daniel Brodie and Jason Lyons respectively. Heartbreak Hotel is a show you could see without any actors onstage and still understand the story. Lyons does more with less, using only side or top light with no fill to create two dimensional shadowy silhouettes. Brodie's projections build worlds and show us faces forgotten to time, allowing us to graft that persona onto the person onstage. Heartbreak Hotel is worth seeing for the design, the band and the ensemble musicians, but the story and the lead cause it to fall short of spectacular.

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.


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Richard III 2018-08-15 - By: William Shakespeare. At: Ingraham Park, Evanston. Tickets:; free. Runs through: Sept. 9 Richard III transforms before the audience's eyes ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2018-08-15 - Buddy, American Blues Theater @ Stage 773, remounted through Sept. 15. Far more concert than story, the short, mostly-sweet life of Buddy Holly ...

Gay News

REVIEW Holding the Man 2018-08-15 - Playwright: Tommy Murphy; adapted from a memoir by Timothy Conigrave At: The Broadway, Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway. Tickets: 866-811-4111 or 773-857-0222; ...

Gay News

THEATER Spotlight on Hurricane Damage 2018-08-15 - Four gay men cross generations and decades in Hurricane Damage—Kevin Brofsky's funny, sad, hopeful and emotionally layered exploration of dreams snuffed out by ...

Gay News

REVIEW The African Company Presents Richard III 2018-08-14 - By Carlyle Brown. At: Oak Park Festival Theatre, Austin Gardens, 167 Forest Ave., Oak Park. Tickets: 708-300-3896 or; $20-$32, free children under ...

Gay News

Martha Wash, singer of 'It's Raining Men,' to star in WaistWatchers The Musical 2018-08-13 - The production that has had audience members "burning off pounds just laughing," according to the Los Angeles Times, WaistWatchers The Musical! makes its ...

Gay News

Goodman New Stages Fest includes Sarah Schulman, Ricardo Gamboa and Paula Vogel 2018-08-13 - This fall, Goodman Theatre presents its New Stages Festival—a free annual celebration and discovery of new plays by some of the country's finest ...

Gay News

Casting announced for natioanl tour of Hello, Dolly! 2018-08-11 - CHICAGO ( August 9, 2018 ) Producer Scott Rudin and Broadway In Chicago are delighted to announce the cast for the first national ...

Gay News

THEATER FEATURE 'Pillowtalk' a love story for post-marriage equality world 2018-08-08 - The audience won't hear the Toni Morrison quote that serves as an intro to playwright Kyoung H. Park's Pillowtalk, running Aug. 17-18 at ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Rick Stone the Blues Man 2018-08-08 - Playwright: JackieTaylor At: Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark St. Tickets: $55-$65; 773-769-4451. Runs through: Aug. 26 Since its debut in ...


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.








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.