GQ/Photo: Michael Brosilow
‘Tis the season for tradition and “A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol,” now in its third year at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is easily on its way to becoming just that. Mining the Dickens classic for parody, the show still manages to let some of the original’s sentimentality flow such that when Ebenezer Scrooge has his anticipated change of heart toward the play’s end, the audience lights up with the emotional payoff that comes from witnessing redemption.
Up until that point, viewers are sure to be tickled by the novelty of seeing such a familiar tale transformed into a modern hip-hop mash-up. Jacob Marley is damned to a hell of reggae music. Scrooge’s nephew is obsessed with “three words, four syllables… CHARADES ALL NIGHT!” while his nephew’s boyfriend uses hashtags like ubiquitous prefixes. Read the rest of this entry »
James Joseph, Zach Kenney and John Mohrlein/Photo: Johnny Knight
As you sift through the heaps of holiday shows, be sure you don’t leave American Blues Theater’s “It’s A Wonderful Life: Live In Chicago!” off your must-see list. More than a play, it’s an incredible overall experience. Grant Sabin (scenic design) as well as Christopher J. Neville and Samantha C. Jones (costume design) transport you to a cozy, cheery Chicago radio station circa 1940. This is where you, oh lucky audience member, have gained exclusive access to a live radio broadcast of Frank Capra’s holiday classic. Read the rest of this entry »
Larry Yando/Photo: Liz Lauren
Once again, Larry Yando takes the stage as Scrooge in the Goodman Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” It is the eighth year in a row he’s played the part. It’s also the same script that’s been performed there annually since 1989. So, as you might guess, seeing the production is like returning to a favorite old book or movie. Nostalgia reigns supreme in any presentation of Dickens’ masterpiece. How can it not? Even children who don’t celebrate Christmas know the story, and know who Scrooge is and what he represents. Read the rest of this entry »
By Kevin Greene
First published in 1843, Charles Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol” has since gone on to be one of the most popular Christmas stories of all time. Furthermore, it has proved to be surprisingly adaptable to the stage and screen. To honor Dickens’ legacy and usher in the holiday season, I sat down with actor Ron Rains and his alter ego, film critic Peter K. Rosenthal, to talk about the lasting impact of the story, mercy and capitalism, and which Ghost of Christmas would win in a three way free-for-all.
Ron, this is now your ninth year in a row playing Bob Cratchit at the Goodman. What’s changed between the first time and now? What’s new for Bob and for yourself?
Ron: Yes, it’s my ninth year, which makes my tenure as Mr. Cratchit the longest in the Goodman’s history. There’s a comfort to the role now. Bob is an old shoe I’m lucky enough to slip on every November. And every performance is new. It’s absolutely true that every performance is different, as every audience is different. I try to be as present and open as I can be and experience Mr. Cratchit’s track new and fresh each time. Read the rest of this entry »
Jay Torrence, Anthony Courser, Pam Chermansky, Molly Plunk, Leah Urzendowski and Ryan Walters/Photo: Evan Hanover
For all but the cult-like fans of “Mr. Show,” the appearance of “W/ Bob & David” on Netflix is likely little more than a curiosity. For the inquisitive, I recommend a quick scan of the infamous “Mr. Show” sketch “The Story of Everest,” wherein a young climber returns from his daring exploit only to ritualistically make himself a fool in a far more domestic setting. From there, “The Story of Everest” evolves into “The Story of ‘The Story of Everest’,” proving how the “reality” behind the fiction can often be far more entertaining than the fiction itself. Read the rest of this entry »
What’s not to like about a holiday show that ushers you to your seat with a freshly made cookie in hand? The spirit that whisks you through the door into the Box Theatre at Stage 773 is relentlessly cheery. The energy peaked just before the scripted show began but the high that filled the house was enough to carry the audience through the clunky first number that stalled out and caused concern that perhaps this ninety-minute holiday revue was destined for lesser things. Read the rest of this entry »
Robin DaSilva, Lorenzo Rush, Jr., Lina Wass, Donterrio Johnson and Sharriese Hamilton/Photo: Kelsey Jorissen
There is something wonderful about watching a musical revue that doesn’t pretend to be more than it is. The folks over at Porchlight know when to let a good thing stand on its own and that’s exactly what they do with their treatment of “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Director and choreographer Brenda Didier guides her cast through the songs of Fats Waller with little to detract from the tremendous music and dance sequences. There’s not really a plot here and that’s just fine. In fact, if there were any sort of construct upon which these pieces were hung it would most certainly take away from the overall product. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve groused about Christmas decorations already taking over the seasonal aisle of Walgreens, grumbled about the Christmas tree already glistening from behind the draperies at the Jones’ house, or glared at a co-worker after overhearing that if they could just find that rare Etruscan urn Aunt Harriet covets all of their holiday shopping would be complete, you may have a pretty serious case of holiday-itis. Before this disease turns you into a bellowing Scrooge and you pass it along to innocent children, you should know that Evanston’s Piccolo Theatre has created the perfect cure. Read the rest of this entry »
Desmond Gray, Andrew Lund, Jaclyn Hennell, Rachel Shapiro, Chris Mathews, Marika Mashburn/Photo: Michael Brosilow
Every person who sees blasphemy in a red Starbucks cup that lacks the adornment of decorated pine trees and jolly old St. Nicholas ought to sit down for a nice, long chat with those who believe that mid-November is far too early to be invoking the winter holidays. The rest of us in-between understand that context—and content—is everything. Such is the case with The House Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker,” a play of such finely balanced sentimentality that it would be welcome even in throes of a summer heat wave. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Samuel G
A frequently cited frustration for those of the Christian faith is the supposed secularization of one of their most sacred observances. As the holiday hustle and bustle is increasingly built around wish lists, presents, elaborate decorations and Santa Claus—all things that have now become embedded in our traditional Christmas culture—they ask that we remember that Christmas didn’t begin with Santa Claus but with the birth of Jesus Christ.
And this is what writer/director Alexis J. Rogers —who has appeared in every Congo Square Theatre production of Langston Hughes’ time-honored classic “Black Nativity” and its derivatives since 2004—does in “A Nativity Story: More Than A Miracle,” expanding her artistic wings and creating her own version, inspired by Hughes’ work.
Gabriel (Kelvin Roston Jr.), a biblical angel, is sent on a mission from God to help save a fractured relationship between Diane (E. Faye Butler) and her son Nathan (Mark J.P. Hood), who is angry about not knowing the identity of his absentee father. Nathan, who is also a young aspiring playwright, has assembled his church’s drama ministry to put on his play recreating the events surrounding the birth of Jesus for a producer who might be interested in taking it further. Nathan and his mother get more than they bargained for through the journey of gospel music and modern dance in Nathan’s play. Read the rest of this entry »