If you’ve never seen Chicago Dance Crash, now is a good time to find out that you always wanted to. “Now” means this weekend and next, when they perform their new evening length “big pop culture production” of Jessica Deahr’s The Bricklayers of Oz. They’re at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago with shows at 7:30 Friday and Saturday (July 28-29 and August 4-5, with a 3PM Matinee on Sunday, July 30), for what looks to be a big, fun step forward in their relentlessly original journey.
If you’ve never seen Chicago Dance Crash, now is a good time to find out that you always wanted to.
The Bricklayers of Oz is the flagship production of Crash’s 15th Anniversary Season, and Crash describes it as “an action-packed, lighthearted street tale of the lesser known laborers that toil within The Land of Oz.” Bricklayers promises to be another rowdy and riveting product of the rich imagination of Crash Artistic Director Jessica Deahr, who directed and choreographed the work with an inspired team of co-conspirators — original rap lyrics by Al Tamper, costumes by Jeff Hancock, and original lighting design by Erik S. Barry. Along with Crash’s cast of genre-fusing performers, they tell the story of the Wicked Witch of the East and her power-hungry plan to coax others into building her a magical road, followed quickly by the realization and uprising of an otherwise ignored group of people.
DancerMusic asked Chicago Dance Crash Producing Director Mark Hackman to give us a little more of the inside story. Here’s what he told us:
DancerMusic: The Bricklayers of Oz sounds like it’s in the tradition of Crash’s imaginative full evening productions like “Gotham City”, “The Cotton Mouth Club”, and “Tron: End of Line”, but in a way it sounds like you’re taking everything to the next level in this, with the production and original music score. How has this show been to put together compared to those other successful runs?
Mark Hackman: You’re totally right! Jess went all in on this one. Knowing this was our 15th anniversary year and that this would be a show we want to tour internationally we devoted quite a bit of extra time and resources into it. One of those main points is definitely the original score. We actually knew Tamper first as a dancer through Culture Shock Chicago and after I heard his debut album we always had a want to work with him. The process works real well since Jess and Crash like to work with linear stories so to have Tamper be both the literal narrator but also recording original rap lyrics that tell the actual story of the show was great.
From what I saw, Al and Jess were a well-oiled machine … both the rhymes and the concepts/movement ideas seemed to be created simultaneously while just holding true to the overall messages. Was a lot of fun to watch them work!