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The Hanslick Girls

"Three is company, safe and cheery" -Stephen Sondheim

Feeling Spotty: Dodie Smith’s “The Hundred And One Dalmatians” and “The Starlight Barking”

It was relatively quiet in the apartment –– nothing but the tapping of keys as Gwen worked on her laptop, and the papery flutter of Eleanor turning pages in her book –– when the door to Dania’s room suddenly burst open. She stood, holding a copy of The Starlight Barking in one hand, and gripping the door frame with white knuckles.

Gwen looked up, and immediately grinned in anticipation. This face, this exact reaction, was precisely the reason why she had suggested the pair of books to her friends in the first place. While Eleanor hadn’t quite delivered, the expression now frozen to Dania’s face was more than enough.”

“So? How was it?” Eleanor asked, lazily.

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The World On Fire: Haven Theatre’s “The Total Bent”

Compared to the raucous live performances throughout the evening, Dania couldn’t help but feel the slightest tinge of letdown when the pre-recorded 1960s hits came through the speakers as the house lights rose. She longed for a version of the songs with the same raw power as the songs in The Total Bent had possessed –– but admitted to herself that perhaps that was impossible to capture on record.

“What a gutpunch,” Dania said, glancing up to the illuminated cross at centerstage. Around the stage, musicians were just packing up their instruments, scattered around the stage. Only the two keyboard players –– Frederick Harris and Jermaine Hill –– were listed as members of the cast, but it has been difficult to divorce the remaining quartet of band members from the narrative.

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Bright Outburst: Pearlie Taylor’s “An Awakening!”

“There’s a whole downstairs part, too,” Dania said, leading the trio around the curved staircase. As they descended, Gwen caught sight of the inscribed poem from museum founder Dr. Margaret Burroughs:

     What shall I tell my children who are Black

     of what it means to be a captive in this dark skin?

They continued down into the sparse lower level of the DuSable Museum, where a series of prefab walls had been set up in the empty corridor, with paintings hung on each one.

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Upright And In Focus: Esperanza Spalding’s “Esperanza”

January was not a time to listen to holiday music. Eleanor knew this, and she impulsively glanced around the room to make sure no one could hear through her headphones.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas…

The song had been stuck in her head all day at work –– one of those rough repetitions where she knew she just had to listen to the real song once to push the melody out of her system. It was a specific rendition of the carol, the one performed by John Legend on his just-released holiday album, and featuring the guest vocals (and, one presumed, bassline) of Esperanza Spalding.

Make the yuletide gay…from now on, our troubles will be miles…away…

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