Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: Marnie & Phil: A Circus Love Letter/The Actors Gymnasium

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Marnie & Phil press

Bottom to Top: Sadie Sims, Lindsey Noel Whiting, Sylvia Hernandez-Distasi/Photo: Cole Simon

RECOMMENDED

Reviewing “Marnie & Phil: A Circus Love Letter” at the Actors Gymnasium is difficult. Not because the plot is particularly complex or because there’s a difficult-to-articulate question at hand. Simply put: the show works well on all levels and goes above and beyond in most. Sentimental and sweet, the acting is done in service to the story, the aerial work is beautiful, and the clowning is funny and tragic. The story is served, the story is simple, and the story is kind. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Romeo and Juliet/Lyric Opera of Chicago

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The ensemble of Romeo and Juliet/Photo: Todd Rosenberg

The cast of “Romeo and Juliet”/Photo: Todd Rosenberg

RECOMMENDED

Perhaps best known for the heroine’s waltz song, which arrives in the first act and isn’t quite equaled for sparkling melody thereafter, there is still much music to savor in this operatic tragedy. In director Bartlett Sher’s hands, this production is both a feast of grand opera and a cinematic story that invites the uninitiated to take a seat at the table. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The 39 Steps/Theatre at the Center

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Kevin McKillip, Linda Gillum, Matt Mueller and Norm Boucher/Photo: Guy Rhodes

Kevin McKillip, Linda Gillum, Matt Mueller and Norm Boucher/Photo: Guy Rhodes

RECOMMMENDED

One night, Richard Hannay, a dashing thirty-seven-year-old Londoner with a fine pencil mustache, finds himself so filled with ennui that he does what any other reasonably bored fellow would do: he goes to the theater. London Palladium, to be precise. There he becomes abruptly entangled in a fantastically suspenseful spy adventure. You might well know the details of that adventure if you’ve read John Buchan’s 1915 thriller, “The 39 Steps,” or, more likely, if you’ve seen Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 suspense film of the same name. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sister Act/Marriott Theatre

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The cast of "Sister Act" at Marriott Theatre/Photo: Liz Lauren and Marriott Theatre

Photo: Liz Lauren and Marriott Theatre

If you’re coming to the show expecting a reenactment of Whoopi Goldberg and company’s feel-good film where a wayward woman finds God and changes her life as well as the lives of others in need, you’ll be disappointed. However, if you can forget what details you might remember of the 1992 movie of the same name, you might like “Sister Act” at Marriott Theatre directed by Don Stephenson. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Ziryab, The Songbird of Andalusia/Silk Road Rising

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Ronnie Malley/Photo: Airan Wright.

Ronnie Malley/Photo: Airan Wright

RECOMMENDED

A stage swathed with oriental rugs. On it a tambourine, a tape deck, a table lamp, a silicone-sleeved glass water bottle, an electric guitar, an amp and a suitcase. Harmonies: racial, religious, cultural and, of course, musical resonating across centuries. A hero who’s fashion-forward, swell at cooking and handy with a lute. “The fifth string is the soul,” announces Ronnie Malley, finessing an oud as the lights come up on Silk Road Rising’s “Ziryab, The Songbird of Andalusia,” which is as multifarious and miscellaneous as its titular polymath could desire. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Tempest/Saint Sebastian Players

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Bill Chamberlain, Maya Schultz and Kevin Lambert/Photo: Eryn Walanka

RECOMMENDED

Shakespeare’s problematic play “The Tempest” is a heady undertaking for any theater company. Never mind the need to replicate an onstage shipwreck. Culminating in the playwright’s lifetime exploration of characters and their larger languages, this play has so much story to tell that a focus must be chosen, a single doorway that opens into the story of the director’s understanding. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: From These Fatal Loins/The Ruckus

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Chris Waldron and Jillian Rea/Photo: Austin D. Oie.

Chris Waldron and Jillian Rea/Photo: Austin D. Oie

Let’s start here: all the stuff you’ve seen and read about Romeo and Juliet was fake, an elaborate ploy so that the pair could run off to Reno together. Juliet (Jillian Rea) is horny and bloodthirsty as hell while Romeo (Christopher Waldron) is a little reticent about the whole thing. He catches glimpses of their former love and finds a movie marathon dedicated to them. Juliet scoffs it off as an insincere interpretation of the pair and demands that they be known for who they really are: the Star-Crossed Killers. So they begin sticking up gas stations and killing to repossess their names. In the meantime, the Prince of Verona (Nathaniel Fishburn) hunts them down in order to return them to their proper story. Read the rest of this entry »

Opening This Week: February 22-28, 2016

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Sam Hubbard and Antonio Zhiurinskas/Photo: Dean La Prarie

Sam Hubbard and Antonio Zhiurinskas/Photo: Dean La Prarie

Monday

“A Loss of Roses” at Raven Theatre. The “nearly-lost classic” from William Inge returns to Chicago. Through April 2. For tickets and more information visit raventheatre.com

“Romeo and Juliet” at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The new to Chicago take on Shakespeare’s infamous tale of love and death closes Lyric’s memorable season. Through March 19. For tickets and more information visit lyricopera.org
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Review: Cocked/Victory Gardens Theater

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Mike Tepeli, Patrese D. McClain, Kelli Simpkins/Photo: Michael Courier

Mike Tepeli, Patrese D. McClain and Kelli Simpkins/Photo: Michael Courier

RECOMMENDED

In the gun debate there are only two sides to choose from. Either you stand with those who hold the Second Amendment sacred or with those that believe guns are the root of all evil. There is no area of grey, no exceptions, no alternatives and no fences on which to stand. The choice is simple, you either get on the bus or you get off. In her dynamic and necessary world premiere at Victory Gardens Theater, Sarah Gubbins has graciously chosen to get off. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: I & You/The Yard & Jackalope Theatre Company

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Olivia Shine and Tevion Lanier

Olivia Shine and Tevion Lanier/Photo: Cleo Shine

RECOMMENDED

If you were involved in the dramatic arts in high school, you probably don’t remember the performances as being the best part of your experience. Then again, perhaps the young people of the Senn High School collective The Yard won’t either. In the third and final production of their first season, the invisible feeling of communal self-discovery is as present as the very visible quality of the production itself. Read the rest of this entry »