Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

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

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ITHOTN-2

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 »

Review: The Producers/Mercury Theater Chicago

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The cast of "The Producers"/Photo: Brett A. Beiner

The cast of “The Producers”/Photo: Brett A. Beiner

RECOMMENDED

Have you ever had a dream? A fantasy? A certain frisson of something fabulous to come? A big vision, a prophecy of something monumental, transcendent, opulent? Beyond that, do what you must and cost what it will, will you make it a reality? If so, you might be a Producer. Whether that reverie is Stephen King’s “Carrie: The Musical” or surefire hits like “Moby Dick—On Ice!” or “The King and Us,” a true Producer will see it through. If it means they expose themselves to chorus girls with abhorrently pneumatic bosoms wearing nothing but 800 pounds of completely transparent, glittering rhinestones, so be it! Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Bullets Over Broadway/Broadway In Chicago

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Jeff Brooks and ensemble members of "Bullets Over Broadway."/Photo: Matthew Murphy

Jeffrey Brooks and ensemble members of “Bullets Over Broadway”/Photo: Matthew Murphy

RECOMMENDED

The musical version of Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath’s 1994 film of the same name has lots of good things going for it. This first national tour has an incredibly talented cast, great choreography and strong production elements—from costumes to set design. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Lion in Winter/ Promethean Theatre Ensemble

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Jared Dennis, Nick Lake and Tom Murphy/Photo: TCMcG Photography

Jared Dennis, Nick Lake and Tom Murphy/Photo: TCMcG Photography

RECOMMENDED

James Goldman’s 1966 period piece with contemporary colloquialisms has played the world over, buoyed by the success of the 1968 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine’s dysfunctional family, as seen through Goldman’s witheringly funny eyes, continues to delight today. Goldman’s Shakespearian barbs are so neat and tidy as to be easily committed to memory. The actors in this play had better get them all out as fans in the audience might not be able to prevent themselves from chiming in, like “Rocky Horror” meets “Hamlet.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train/Eclipse Theatre

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D'Wayne Taylor and Johnathan Nieves/Photo: Scott Dray

D’Wayne Taylor and Johnathan Nieves/Photo: Scott Dray

RECOMMENDED

Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Stephen Adly Guirgis got his break in 2000 with “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train,” a play that in 2016 feels distressingly timeless. Part investigation of our broken criminal justice system, part examination of the corruptive influence of Judeo-Christian morality, “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train” is a promising start to Eclipse Theatre’s 2016 season. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Realm/The Other Theatre Company

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Abdu Hytrek, Savanna Rae and Carin Silkaitis/Photo: Ashlee Estabrook

Abdu Hytrek, Savanna Rae and Carin Silkaitis/Photo: Ashlee Estabrook

RECOMMENDED

Sarah Myers’ “The Realm” is not a perfect play but it is a perfect fit for the tiny Side Project space. Myers’ imaginative but unfinished portrait of a dystopian future where every resource–including intellect and emotion–is minutely rationed by an all-seeing bureaucracy is all about confinement. Director Kelly Howe and the clever design team at The Other Theatre Company have made a virtue out of austerity, transforming the cramped black box into a garishly colored, claustrophobic nightmare that does not merely engage the audience but engulfs them. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Othello: The Remix/Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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Postell Pringle and GQ/Photo: Michael Brosilow.

Postell Pringle and GQ/Photo: Michael Brosilow.

RECOMMENDED

William Shakespeare was the son of a leatherworker. Billy Shakes slanged the lingo with diction and confabulations like swagger, invulnerable, assassination, dexterous, madcap, mountaineer, moonbeam and gnarled. B. Shizzle banged out lines and rhymes with beats that spoke so hard they never stopped. Shazam was the first and best rapper and the Q Brothers pay respect to the one we call the Bard in “Othello: The Remix,” which returns to the turf on which it premiered in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients/Trap Door Theatre

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Pavi Proczko, Michael Garvey, Benjamin Ponce and Ann Sonneville/Photo: Bogdan Nastase

Pavi Proczko, Michael Garvey, Benjamin Ponce and Ann Sonneville/Photo: Bogdan Nastase

RECOMMENDED

“How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients” is a strange organism. Despite the clear artifice, with design inspired by propaganda and all movement disciplined and staccato, this machine is dreamily oppressive.
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Review: Carlyle/Goodman Theatre

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James Earl Jones II and Tim Edward Rhoze/Photo: Liz Lauren

James Earl Jones II and Tim Edward Rhoze/Photo: Liz Lauren

RECOMMENDED

When we hear about a play being provocative we generally assume that any reactions it piques usually occur internally. Save for the occasional murmur of approval, the fourth wall mostly breaks itself. But not always. Such was the case during the opening of Thomas Bradshaw’s “Carlyle,” a play that has been groomed for success and arrives confident, eager and evidently incendiary. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Hazel, A Musical Maid in America/Drury Lane Theatre

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Tyler Martin, Casey Lyons, Ava Morse/Photo: Brett Beiner

Tyler Martin, Casey Lyons and Ava Morse/Photo: Brett Beiner

RECOMMENDED

Hazel, that spunky maid with more heart than tact, was first introduced to the public as a single-panel cartoon in 1943. Immensely popular, the cartoon later became a sitcom starring Shirley Booth. The latest incarnation of Hazel, a world-premiere musical, opens Drury Lane’s 2016-17 season and is set in the mid-sixties. This “Hazel” focuses on the titular character’s entry into the Baxter household.

The Baxter’s need for a maid stems from Mrs. Baxter’s decision to enter the workforce. Mr. Baxter, in turn, would prefer that the missus stay home. His feelings echo the general insecurity of men at a time when they discovered it was no longer exclusively their right to wear the pants in the relationship.  Read the rest of this entry »