Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: Once in a Lifetime/Strawdog Theatre Company

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Michaela Petro, Brandon Saunders, Jamie Vann, Scott Danielson, Kat McDonnell and Michael Dailey/Photo: Tom McGrath

Michaela Petro, Brandon Saunders, Jamie Vann, Scott Danielson, Kat McDonnell and Michael Dailey/Photo: Tom McGrath

RECOMMENDED

At first glance, the 1930s showbiz comedy “Once in a Lifetime” may seem like an odd choice for Strawdog Theatre Company’s final mainstage production in their home on Broadway. Following a trio’s ascension from struggling on the vaudeville circuit to selling snake oil in Hollywood, Kaufman and Hart’s play still zings with wit eighty years later. And yet as obsessed as they are with entertainment (and they are among the most consistent entertainers in the city), Strawdog is equally concerned with the playing of heartstrings, sometimes delicately and sometimes not, but always with humor and grace. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Pygmalion/Rogue Theater

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Christopher Ratliff, Kristina M. Schramm, Nellie Ognacevic, Joseph Stearns and Kate Nawrocki/Photo: Scott Dray

Christopher Ratliff, Kristina M. Schramm, Nellie Ognacevic, Joseph Stearns and Kate Nawrocki/Photo: Scott Dray

Last Friday night I went to see Shaw’s 1914 towering tragic-comic masterpiece presented in a “black box” theater on the fourth floor of a warehouse. Experience told me that “Pygmalion” would not open with real rain and a crowd of onlookers. I knew the play would be cut—not to ribbons, I hoped. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Dreamgirls/Porchlight Music Theatre

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Donica Lynn, Candace C. Edwards and Katherine Thomas/Photo: Kelsey Jorissen

Donica Lynn, Candace C. Edwards and Katherine Thomas/Photo: Kelsey Jorissen

RECOMMENDED

There are some musicals that come with the burden of great expectation. “Dreamgirls,” which made its Broadway debut in 1981, is one such example. The heart-stopping performance of Jennifer Holliday’s “And I Am Telling You” is so etched in the public’s mind that every succeeding performance is measured by that standard. Is it fair? Absolutely not, but let’s be honest, when you have a precedent of that magnitude in your mind, expectations are subconsciously looming throughout the performance. We expect certain notes to be hit, certain dance numbers to make us groove and the overall performance to leave us wowed. Porchlight Music Theatre’s production of “Dreamgirls” goes above and beyond our subconscious expectations. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The King and I/Lyric Opera of Chicago

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King & I 2

Kate Baldwin and Paolo Montalban/Photo: Todd Rosenberg

RECOMMENDED

Lyric Opera of Chicago has found a formula that comes closer to a successful collaboration between the resources of a major opera company and the magic of musical theatre. This “The King and I” employs the sort of voices that approach the color and control, if not the size, that one might hope for in an operatic venue, while maintaining the clarity of characterization upon which a Broadway production relies. Read the rest of this entry »

Opening This Week: May 2-8, 2016

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Sarah Goeden, Justine C Turner, Nicole Bloomsmith/Photo: Tom McGrath

Sarah Goeden, Justine C Turner and Nicole Bloomsmith in Strawdog Theatre Company’s “Once in a Lifetime”/Photo: Tom McGrath

Monday

“Once in a Lifetime” at Strawdog Theatre Company. Kaufman and Hart’s classic comedy marks Strawdog’s final show at their Broadway home before their move to Rogers Park in the fall. Through June 4. For tickets and more information visit strawdog.org

“Mike Mother” at The Neo-Futurists. A two-person, one-woman show that explores theater’s reliability as a vessel for truth. Through June 4. For tickets and more information visit neofuturists.org

“The Art of Losing” at the Den Theatre. A world premiere family drama set in Boston at the height of the 2004 American League Championship Series. Through May 14. For tickets and more information visit facebook.com/artoflosingplay

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Review: Dry Land/Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

Midwest Premiere, Recommended Shows, Theater, Theater Reviews No Comments »
Bryce Gangel and Jessica Ervin/Photo by:

Bryce Gangel and Jessica Ervin/Photo by: Michael Brosilow

RECOMMENDED

Nobody wants the responsibility of telling kids about sex. That’s evidenced in the squeamish way the subject is handled in mainstream media as well as the biologically centered sexual education taught in schools that haven’t defaulted to abstinence. We learn about how babies are made but we don’t learn about how they are unmade. Ruby Rae Spiegel’s “Dry Land” traces a course of unmaking all too common and yet still largely invisible. A heart-wrenching tale of social neglect, Spiegel’s play is also an essential portrait of female friendship. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Connected/Collaboraction

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The cast of "Connected" at Collaboraction/Credit: Joel Maisonet

The cast of “Connected” at Collaboraction/Photo: Joel Maisonet

In celebration of its twentieth anniversary, Collaboraction mounts a production as grand in scale as humanly possible. Spanning the birth of the universe to post-apocalyptic America, “Connected” wrangles with perhaps the most hotly contested issue of all time: the nature of the human spirit. Read the rest of this entry »

Stage Top 5: May 1-May 15, 2016

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Carrie Coons and Gary Wilmes in "Mary Page Marlowe" at Steppenwolf Theatre Company/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Carrie Coon and Gary Wilmes in “Mary Page Marlowe” at Steppenwolf Theatre Company/Photo: Michael Brosilow

1
Mary Page Marlowe
(Steppenwolf Theatre Company)
An extraordinary look at an ordinary life
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Creating Windows When Doors Are Shut: An Interview with Melissa DuPrey, Free Street Theater’s New General Manager

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Headshot (no name)

By Loy Webb

Actor and comic Melissa DuPrey has a passion for arts, activism and community building that is as large and deep as the Pacific Ocean. Her story is one of terror and triumph. From surviving a horrific violent home invasion to rising through the theatrical ranks to become the new general manager of Free Street Theater, Melissa is living proof that women of color will make windows where doors have historically been shut in their faces. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: In the Heat of the Night/Shattered Globe Theatre

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ITHOTN-2

Tim Newell, Manny Buckley and Drew Schad/Photo: Michael Brosilow

RECOMMENDED

Everybody talks about the passing of the American Dream but what about the persistence of the American Nightmare? The latter unfolds in black and white, a violent and never-ending story about racial segregation, intolerance and inequality. Based on the great 1965 novel by John Ball, “In the Heat of the Night” tells one part of this American story the way it should be told: in full noir-like splendor with dark, sweaty, tough-talking and hysterical cinematic moments. Read the rest of this entry »