Thursday February 22nd 2018

“Re-Spiced:A Silk Road Cabaret”

Recommended***One of my favorite shows produced by Silk Road Rising was 2009’s “Silk Road Cabaret” where they brought to light all of the Broadway hits that were part of the Silk Road “songbook). As excited as I was when it was announced there was a new show “Re-spiced” which is now onstage at  Pierce Hall at The Historic Chicago Temple ( 77 West Washington /at Clark), I tried to imagine how they could possibly duplicate the experience.

While they did not, they did come up with something new and fun, although just a little longer than it needed to be and with a little more prose than needed. Creator Jamil Khoury, who chose the narratives and songs, tried to blend them together to make the perfect mix, but in this case, some of the wonderful poetry selected did not help to tell his story- a musical tale using Broadway, Country, Rap, Folk and Jazz, allowing us to see that the Asian and Middle Eastern influence in American and British music is one that will confues the audience as to what brought what to whom? Sound confusing ? Well, it was a bit asdespite gthe powerful choices made and the clever interpretation by both director Steve Scott and choreographer Brenda Didier and the strong personalities and voices of the cast, I did not feel that we hit the peak that the original brought to us.

In this production, while we did have a few tables stage-side, the previous version was much more Cabaret with vocalists telling their stories from every angle of the intimate theater. Yes, some fine music was used, “Arabian Nights” from “Aladdin” ( with some new lyrics to stress a point), “Travelin ‘Man”, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”, “Bali Hai”, “Istanbul”, “Slow Boat to China”,”One Night In Bangkok”, “Bui Doi”, “Shalom” and as a finale, “Anthem ” from Chess and followed as an encore, “Shakalaka Baby”. Roughly 41 songs, some playful, some sexy, some very though provoking and some very subversive. This was nearly 90 minutes of great music that might have been a better show with less prose and just the music with slight interweaving of the Asian and Middle Easter themes.

Being cabaret, there is no real set, but just a semi bare stage with two musicians under the direction of Ryan Brewster, some exotic lighting effects by Michael Stanfill and keeping it all moving ( stage manager Kate Guthrie). The cast of 8 players, Jaii Beckley,Danny Bernardo,Joel Kim Booster, Dipika Cherala,Joyee Lin, Evan Tyrone Martin, Amira Sabbagh and Christine Bunuan are all fine singers with great range who truly understand the premise of the production and appear to share the attitude and feeling of Khoury. Again, with a little less prose, this production would be a must see instead of a recommended. If you are seeking a musical entertainment experience, Silk Road Cabaret will bring this to you. The show will continue at The Historic Chicago Temple Building through May 6th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.,Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by calling 312-857-1234  ext 201 or online at www.silkroadrising.org

On April 27th, there will be no performance as this troupe will be visiting Governor State University with a performance on Saturday, April 28th in order to bring the arts to the next generation and the suburbs.

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