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Theatre Wed Mar 31 2010

Point Break Live! Makes a Splash in Chicago

PBL.jpg

The surfers, photo courtesy of New Rock Theater

Everybody knows Keanu Reeves has a special way of acting... a certain je ne sais quoi... so it makes perfect sense that he would be played by a slightly bewildered audience member reading lines off of cue cards in the stage adaptation of Point Break.

Within the first ten minutes of Point Break Live!, Reeves' character, Johnny Utah, is chosen from audience volunteers based on his (or her) ability to mimic Reeves' vacant stare and recall his most popular lines while doing jumping jacks.

In case you're not familiar with Point Break, it's a movie about surfers who are also bank robbers and it stars Keanu Reeves as an ex-jock/FBI rookie and Patrick Swayze as a ripped surfer guru with Gary Busey and Lori Petty (Tank Girl) in supporting roles. As you might imagine, it's pretty over the top, but in an awesome, action packed, 1991 kind of way.

Point Break Live! manages to stay impressively loyal to the original--no scene is left out--and the surfing and skydiving scenes are actually believable in a ridiculous kind of way. When waves crash the audience gets pummeled by a Super Soaker and when someone gets shot the front row gets sprinkled with fake blood. In other words, any cheesiness in the stage production is in keeping with the cheesiness of the film, and it all makes perfect sense.

Arguably the most charming and entertaining characters in the play are the surfer dudes, who play their roles with such testosterone-soaked homoerotic vigor that I managed to blush and completely crack up at the same time, especially in the scene where they slather each other with sunscreen--reminiscent of the gas station scene at the beginning of Zoolander. Tracie Dahlke is also delightful as the super-enthusiastic cue-card girl, complete with a blond ponytail and kneepads, who makes sure the confused Keanu knows exactly what to say, how to say it, and when to collapse because of his bad knee. Errol McLendon kicks ass as Pappas, Busey's character, complete with white powder in his hair to lighten it-- powder that flies into the air every time McLendon spazzes out in the Busey tradition-- an audience-pleasing detail.

The seating at New Rock Theater is intimate--you'll get to know the people sitting around you pretty well as they step over you, precariously balancing towers of beer cans, tangling their ponchos with yours. (I suggest you purchase the one-dollar "survival kit", which includes said poncho, upon arrival.) The crowd is diverse--when I went it was an even mix of hipsters and frat boys--who managed to get along with each other if only for their mutual love of ironic parody. I ended up next to a middle-aged man and his mom, who, I noticed, at least managed to crack a smile a few times.

If you go see Point Break Live!, and you should, I'll bet you that it'll be the most fun you've had at a play in a long time. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm at New Rock Theater (3931 N. Elston). Tickets are $20-$25 and are available by calling 866-811-4111 or clicking here.

 
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Hobo Junction / April 2, 2010 9:30 AM

Surfer Dude Derek Elstro will soon be appearing in Hobo Junction's THE REGULARS~an epic rock musical comedy about waiters. Get more info on Hobo Junction's website.

Keanu / May 16, 2010 12:29 AM

This show was simply unfunny. Criminally unfunny. Unless you have some sort of weird, cult obsession with the movie "Point Break" - and if you do, what the hell is wrong with you? - save your $25 for a Second City show. Or just stay home and wash your hair. Either would be a much more entertaining alternative than this snoozer.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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