Wednesday January 18th 2017

“Charles Ives Take Me Home”

take-me-home-6982 What happens between a father and his daughter ( the woman in his life that will always be “his little girl”) when their lives take separate paths? Yet, these paths may lead to the same place! Strawdog Theatre Company , one of Chicago’s hidden treasures, located up a few blocks from well known Wrigley Field, is now presenting  Jessica Dickey’s beautiful story about a father and daughter, “Charles Ives Take Me Home”, 80 minutes of sheer artistry with a powerful balance of story, and music as well as solid acting.

There are three characters in this story- Our main character is John Starr ( a solid performance by Dave Belden) who is the son of a Physical Education teacher, but has opted for a life of music and his violin. He studied at Julliard, and while there, he had the good fortune of meeting and working with Charles Ives ( deftly handled by Jamie Vann, who is also the story’s narrator). One never knows for sure if Ives is in reality there, but serving as the narrator/story teller as well as the referee between father and daughter. The daughter Laura ( played to perfection by Stephanie Chavara) has chosen a life of sports over music.

As the story is told, we, the audience are treated to some versions of Ives music as reconstructed to fit the storytelling experience. Belden is a true genius in his playing and under musical director /composer Mike Przygoda, we get to hear “Variations of America”, “Sonata for Violin and Piano” ( a sparkling duet by Belden and Vann, and many other pieces.  Under the skillful eye and ear of director Keira Fromm, we are treated to rich music in a richly told story and while there are many basketball moments to balance out the two personalities and their differences, we, see, in the end, just how powerful their individual loves are and how they do bring them together. Additional compositions are written by Christopher Kriz ( who also handles the sound) and props are by Jamie Karas.

I certainly do not want to give away some of the intricacies of this magical story, but we get an opportunity to view the transitions the father and daughter must face along the way. The passion of their passions and in the end, the true love that each had for th other. In fact, one might analyze this as a musical piece instead of a play. An Opus about love and passion as illustrated by the individuals and their love for their passion. There are ups and downs, just as in a musical composition and under Fromm’s direction as well as the choreography (fight) by Sam Hubbard, Costumes (Brittany Dee Bodley) and lighting (John Kelly) along with the very intimate setting by Mike Mroch, we are brought into the story easily. The beauty of a small stage with audience members on both sides of the action is that we are very close to the action, thus, nothing slips by us and the entire story unfolds before our eyes.

This production will continue at Straw Dog’s  location, thru June 21st with performances as follows:charles ives

Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.

Sundays at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $28 ( seniors and students get discounts) and can be purchased by calling 1-866-811-4111 or online at

Parking is a bit of a problem, but there are meters in the area and public transportation is a bit harder. The theater is located at 3829 N. Broadway with some inexpensive dining on the block as well.

To see what others are saying, visit, go to review round-up and click at “Charles Ives Take Me Home” strawdog2

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