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CHICAGO Redmoon Theater described its inaugural Joyous Outdoor Event—which took over Lakeview's South Belmont Harbor park from September 2 to September 6—as “a spectacular festival of performance, live music, and art for ordinary Joes and average Janes of all ages.” And while it's true that the family-friendly Labor Day weekend celebration offered typical carnival tropes like snow cones, games, and jugglers, the entertainment strayed from what average Joes may be accustomed to.
Each day, eclectic acts took to the so-called “Small Stage” at one end of the park. Entertainment ranged from a clown fashion show to a human beat box and a performance from Les Enfants Terribles, which the program described as “a grotesque ensemble in the French tradition of bouffant.” Redmoon core artist Jim Lasko and executive producer Rebecca Hunter oversaw the planning process.
Across the way, the Big Stage saw musical performances from bands curated by Metro and Smart Bar. Acts included soul band JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, and indie-pop quartet Purple Apple, which comprises three 13-year old girls and their 25-year-old babysitter/drummer. Redmoon theatrics peppered the shows. On Thursday night, for example, costumed skeletons hopped up onstage during JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound's set and frantically bopped along with the music.
Each night, the festival ended with a performance of Redmoon's Last of my Species II: The Perilous Songs of Bibi Merhdad. Characters in the hour-long musical included Persian rock star Bibi, a team of menacing cheerleaders, and a young girl signing from a dangling swing. In the theater's tradition, the show employed offbeat visuals. Elements included a canon exploding with pink confetti and a group of performers walking rhythmically while sporting oversize fists and giant cardboard shoes.