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  Ghost Quartet Reviews
Ghost Quartet
Ghost Quartet

Ghost Quartet
Black Button Eyes Productions at Stage 773
Thru - Aug 17, 2019

Show Information


Black Button Eyes Productions at Stage 773

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

"...Black Button is a very cool little Chicago company but this production is another example of a historic issue with their creative work that I think worth re-examining: a tendency to lean into the Gothic or picaresque qualities of their material at the expense of normalcy and thematic clarity. Style is not the same as substance."
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Chris Joned



Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...Those four charming performers, by the way, are all talented multi-instrumentalists as well, accompanying themselves on instruments that include piano, cello, acoustic guitar, trumpet, accordion, autoharp and percussion. That's all in service of Malloy's songs, which employ wryly self-aware lyrics and a blend of styles that leans toward Americana and folk: think part Tom Waits, part Mountain Goats, with healthy dashes of Wilco, the Decemberists and Gogol Bordello. The show would be just as at home at the Old Town School as it is at Stage 773. They may wanna be ghosts, but these apparitions are guaranteed to liven up your summer."
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Kris Vire



Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...The combination of Jeremy Hollis's curio-shop set and G. "Max" Maxin IV's cheeky, often charmingly outdated video projections lend an odd retro/out-of-time backdrop, but it would all fall flat if Malloy's songs didn't measure up. Fortunately, his pastiches of jazz, folk, and show tunes perfectly meld the tones and textures that give these four time-skipping apparitions flight. You don't have to believe in ghosts to be utterly moved by their plight, and a half dozen of the catchier refrains will haunt even the most jaded materialist long after they've left the theater."
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Dmitry Samarov



Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...The Music Man at Goodman Theatre is an excellent production of a traditional feel-good musical comedy with bright tunes and a clear story, if that's your taste. However, if you'd rather see the most singular, unique and brilliantly-performed musical in Chicago, you should head pronto to Ghost Quartet. This mash up of gothic horror, fairy tales and fantasy is an intimate masterwork by U.S. musical polymath David Molloy (born 1976)."
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Jonathan Abarbanel



BroadwayWorld- Recommended

"...It's undoubtedly a challenging score, and this cast gives it their all. Instrumentally, Anderson and Ellsworth pull the heavy weight on piano and cello (among others), and Sula presumably joins them with (un-credited) offstage instrumentals. All four actors deliver strong vocals, despite some ensemble issues early in the press night performance. The sound mixing still needs some work in Stage 773's black box theater: for example, Guth's microphone distractingly rubbed against her costume throughout, and the volume was far too loud for her belt during her final solo number. Nevertheless, the cast displays impressive versatility in mastering Malloy's unique stylistic range."
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Emily McClanathan



Time Out Chicago- Recommended

"...Stories about stories usually go one of two ways: empty but pleasurable or just plain pretentious. Composer Dave Malloy's rollicking song cycle Ghost Quartet tends towards the former, but it so immensely pleasurable that most of the emptiness is forgiven. If Malloy's Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 was a glittering Tsarist palace, Ghost Quartet is an inviting but ramshackle fisherman's hut: cramped and a little uncomfortable but still a great place to hear a well-spun yarn. "
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Alex Huntsberger



Stage and Cinema- Somewhat Recommended

"...No question, this one-act is no small feat of multi-textured fantasy-mongering. It’s also convulsive, fragmented, confounding, mannered, neurasthenic, and more than a bit self-contentedly cute. You could, in fact, call the action a barely controlled sprawl."
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Lawrence Bommer



Chicago Stage Standard- Highly Recommended

"...Ghost Quartet is a kind of theatrical pointillism that coaleseces into a feeling more than a meaning. There is at the end a sense of humanism and transcendence, a kind of tragic peace, a fragile beauty. Just like life. I can't explain it, I can only recommend it."

Angela Allyn



NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...“Ghost Quartet” is described as a “staged concept album about love, death and whiskey” but it is so much more than that. (It also is exactly that.) It’s a show about a lot while also being about a little. It’s a smorgasbord of delectable melodies, familiar stories and eerie feelings. It’s about as sensible as a fiddle made from a breastbone and yet it holds the human heart just as snugly."
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Amanda Finn



WTTW- Highly Recommended

"...Black Button Eyes describes its mission as “the production of Chicago premieres and seldom-seen works in which the magical and surreal invade reality.” With “Ghost Quartet” that mission is unquestionably accomplished."
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Hedy Weiss



Chicago Theatre Review- Recommended

"...This is certainly an unusual production. Unlike many of Ed Rutherford's previous shows, such as "Armour," "Coraline" and the wonderful recent "Evil Dead, the Musical," this is musical that swirls around through time and space. It can be a bit confusing unless theatergoers realize they're not going to be seeing a linear story. Characters an pieces fly about throughout the 90-minute song cycle, as the stories use ballad, doo-wop, Asian fork music and other musical styles to tell this story about life, love and death."
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Colin Douglas



Buzznews.net- Recommended

"...Having seen the show now, I’m still not sure the story is any clearer, but I’m pretty sure that’s purposeful (and why it’s referred to as a “song cycle”). And I’m pretty sure that titling it a “Quartet” is a perfect label. Because over the course of an hour-and-a-half (with no intermission), the story (or stories, as Poe and Scheherazade and Thelonious Monk and a telescope and a bear and a subway and, I think, Little Red Riding Hood, are all mashed up together) became secondary to everything else the audience was offered. And because over the course of said production (directed by Ed Rutherford), the four-piece cast acts much as a classical or vocal quartet does — playing with and off one another to deliver a delightful and disparate musical program."
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CJ Burroughs



Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Highly Recommended

"...Though the initial entrance into this circular world may be shocking, this team doesn't let their audience free fall for long. As tempting as it may be for the linear mind to enter a panicked scramble for clues and connections as the exposition begins, this labor is far from necessary. Smartly, this production is full of clever repetition not only in lyrics, but in music, gesture, performance and design. The repetition creates helpful "You Are Here" moments on the map of this many-dimensional world as it is woven. Have faith-it does all ultimately connect, in some very surprising, satisfying ways."
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Anna DeNoia



Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...Ghost Quartet is a fascinating production that deals with life, death, life after death, and everything in between. The fact that the characters are ghosts makes it all the more interesting, seeing the cast switch between people and time periods at a moment's notice, allowing the show to tell several different stories, all that come together to tell the tale of one broken heart. So if you enjoy nonlinear story telling and ghosts, go see Ghost Quartet, you definitely won't regret making this choice."
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James Brod



Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...The production is played out on a busy Jeremy Hollis set featuring all sorts of props pertaining to the stories, and Rutherford gets the most out of it, finding numerous ways to vary his stage pictures in a small space, and choreographer Derek Van Barham too uses the stage beautifully. The set is lit hauntingly by Liz Cooper with projections by G "Max" Maxin IV, and musical director Nick Sula joins in the instrumental fun from behind a curtain. Ultimately, though, it's up to the performers to hook us into this eerily entangled and intricately crafted show, and they do. Ghost Quartet is not your average theatrical experience, and it does demand some work from its audience, but it is well worth the effort. And there are so many pieces to this time-traveling puzzle of a show that I can't imagine anyone who can't find something to enjoy. "
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Karen Topham