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The Journalist


What is your favorite Pumpkin Spice item in the fall?

  • Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte (27%, 23 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice candles (24%, 20 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice Oreos (18%, 15 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice donuts (18%, 15 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice gnocchi (6%, 5 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice goldfish (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice cream cheese (2%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

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“Illinoise”: A Must-See Show Headed to Broadway


Sufjan Steven’s fifth studio album, Illinoise, has become a cult classic among the folk-alternative community, notable for its unrivaled storytelling and riveting instrumental. The album is named after – you guessed it – Illinois, U.S.A. The album was rumored to be the sequel to his “50-states project,” an ambitious endeavor to release an album titled after each U.S. state. The album outlines Illinois’s idiosyncrasies and alcoves, from quirky holidays to core cities to past citizens. 

Inspired by the album, the stage production Illinoise has captured the hearts of many. Originally opening in the heart of Chicago at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the show has gained traction and rave reviews from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and NPR. The musical moved from Chicago to New York, performing at the Park Avenue Armory, and in April 2024, the production is set to move to Broadway. 

Director, choreographer, and dancer Justin Peck conjures a beautiful production by weaving Steven’s mastery into an unforgettable and heartwarming story. “Illinoise is a coming-of-age story that takes the audience on a journey through the American heartland,” Peck says, “ – from campfire storytelling to the edges of the cosmos – all told through a unique blend of music, dance and theatre.”

This show, to me at least, was spectacular. Illinois has been one of my favorite albums; hearing all the orchestration live was an out-of-body experience. Moved is an understatement. 

The show follows a group of people sharing stories around a campfire. This plot helped to stitch together unlikely pairings of songs that occur naturally on the album, such as “John Wayne Gacy Jr.” and “Jacksonville,” and allowed each performer to have a solo moment. However, once we reach the show’s second half, one character’s storyline stretches over the rest of the record’s tracks.

The story is also told through choreography; at its core, the show is dance. As the show is dialogue-free, the choreography drives the main action. Expecting nothing less from Peck, it was stunning, transformative, and completely enraptured the album’s atmosphere. All songs are performed by an orchestra above the main stage and sung by a small group of singers donned in butterfly wings (one of many odes to Stevens’ genius). It’s hard to emulate Sufjan’s incredibly vulnerable and raw vocals, but these voices deliver with the strength and tenderness Illinois is so rich with. 

If you haven’t seen the show or listened to the album it was based on, I would strongly recommend doing both. 


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