Negron's "Satellites" -
Heartfelt, Funny and Giving
When Taylor Negron took the microphone after violinist Lili Haydn competed her first song, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Having never seen the actor/writer/comedian perform before, I was curious about the concept of his latest show, which I heard was dramatic/humorous storytelling coupled with the accompaniment of a soft jazz trio.
The stage setting invited comfort, complete with a lamp atop a night table to Taylor’s left – the perfect environment for an evening of heartfelt tales. As Taylor spoke I found myself being drawn in as though he were a magnet and I, a scrap of metal. Taylor’s first of four short stories, was a more dramatic, or traumatic, piece that dealt with a sexually abused childhood friend. His ability to convey this painful memory was so powerful, I can only imagine compassion was pouring in from each and every seat in the theater. Yet, as devastatingly disturbing as some topics Taylor touched upon, his uproarious delivery found in other subject matter was just as impressive. After all, these short stories were based on his own life’s experiences, which contain the tragic, the unusual and the downright hilarious.
Taylor’s second story exposed a sad, but also endearing and funny, side of Lucille Ball, his former acting teacher. Though his words alone were entertaining enough, it was his precise animation of Lucille’s expressions that really brought the account to life and brought the house down.
Lili Haydn fronted the jazz trio as they played mood-enhancing songs between stories and added background music to Taylor’s words, augmenting each piece to its fullest. But make no mistake about it, it was Taylor’s raw talent as an entertainer that made “Satellites” the memorable experience that it certainly was.
The entire show was entrancing. I found myself teary-eyed one minute and laughing vigorously the next. Taylor has mastered the art of entertaining, manipulating emotions, and extending his innermost experiences to the masses and I for one, am thankful as his show is a true gift from the heart.
Gentle sarcasm and just the right amount of tenacity in a situation that usually requires major freak out, paved the way for Taylor’s third bit about an unsuspecting burglar who broke into his home not expecting the entertainer to make an early return. In this humorous account, the tables are turned thanks to a flurry of Taylor-given slaps and hand-delivered demoralization, making the burglar relieved when the cops were finally called.
Taylor finished the evening’s stories with a comical piece taking place in New Orleans before Lili played the show’s soulful finale, “Satellites.” As I sat in my chair following the exodus of performers from the stage, I felt invigorated, empathetic and full of levity – all at the same time. Not a show I have seen before has invoked such a roller coaster of emotions.
“Satellites” is a well-crafted, provocative, think piece, loaded with laughs, passion and heart.
Review by Joanne Newmark of The Chicago Theatre