Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: Bullets Over Broadway/Broadway In Chicago

Musicals, Recommended Shows, Theater, Theater Reviews No Comments »
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 »

Opening This Week: April 18-24, 2016

-News etc., Opening This Week, Theater No Comments »
The cast of "Bullets Over Broadway"/Photo: Matthew Murphy

The cast of “Bullets Over Broadway”/Photo: Matthew Murphy

Monday

“Sender” at A Red Orchid Theatre. Local playwright Ike Holter examines whether growing up is even worth it. Through May 29. For tickets and more information visit aredorchidtheatre.org

“Even Longer and Farther Away” at The New Colony. A soul-searching exploration of family. Through May 15. For tickets and more information visit thenewcolony.org Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Matilda The Musical

Recommended Shows, Theater, Theater Reviews No Comments »
The company of "Matilda: The Musical."/Photo: Joan Marcus

The company of “Matilda The Musical.”/Photo: Joan Marcus

RECOMMENDED

Before seeing this production, I didn’t know much about “Matilda The Musical.” By the time I left the theater, it had become one of my favorite shows.

The cast is filled with incredible young performers. Nine-year-old Lily Brooks O’Briant stars as Matilda Wormwood, a five-year-old genius growing up in a household where her family couldn’t care less about her. She longs to go to school to get away from her home life. It’s at school where she meets kids who have grown up believing they are all “little miracles.” While their teacher, Miss Honey (Jennifer Blood), wants her classroom to be a place that inspires learning, the school’s headmistress, Miss Trunchbull (David Abeles), believes young people are “maggots” who need to be instructed with a firm hand. Read the rest of this entry »

Opening This Week: March 21-27, 2016

-News etc., Opening This Week No Comments »
The cast of "Matilda"/Photo: Joan Marcus

The cast of “Matilda”/Photo: Joan Marcus

Monday

“That’s Weird, Grandma: The Musical” at Barrel of Monkeys. A clever and funny, touching and poignant collection of songs based on the writings of CPS students. Through April 11. For tickets and more information visit barrelofmonkeys.org

Wednesday

“Arcadia” at Writers Theatre. The inaugural production at Writers Theatre’s elegant new home. Through May 1. For tickets and more information visit writerstheatre.org Read the rest of this entry »

Opening This Week: February 22-28, 2016

-News etc., Opening This Week, Theater No Comments »
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
Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Cabaret/Broadway In Chicago and Roundabout Theatre Company

Musicals, Recommended Shows, Theater, Theater Reviews No Comments »
Andrea Goss/Photo: Broadway in Chicago

Andrea Goss/Photo: Joan Marcus

RECOMMENDED

“Welcome to Berlin, ” say several cast members to the young American writer arriving from Paris in search of his novel. The time is 1929 and Berlin is in the waning age of the Weimar Republic when everyone, even the queers and Jews, are more than welcome. And nothing symbolizes that brief period of time better than the infamous Kit Kat Klub with its dancing girls, available men and the sexiest orchestra this side of the Rhine. Overseeing this decadent madness is an emcee almost too scandalous to be believed. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Gotta Dance/Broadway In Chicago

Musicals, Recommended Shows, Theater, Theater Reviews No Comments »
The cast of "Gotta Dance"/Photo: Matthew Murphy

The cast of “Gotta Dance”/Photo: Matthew Murphy

RECOMMENDED

The trial run of a musical comedy on its way to Broadway is probably not the first place you’d expect to find an exploration of systematic disempowerment. Reasonably so, given theater’s impressive batting average with Caucasians who can qualify for the senior discount (not that they need it). Still, as they say, where there’s a will there’s a way. With its ingenious conceit and pleasantly whitewashed vision of cultural crossover, “Gotta Dance” succeeds by holding up a mirror to its audience and encouraging them to like what they see.

Featuring the milieu of nursing homes and bingo nights, “Gotta Dance” is atmospherically suburban and unapologetically moral. The book’s myriad holes and limited number of locations occasionally stretch the limits of plausibility. With all good intentions, director Jerry Mitchell tends to make matters worse with his persistent use of LCD screens, which symbolically—and quite blatantly—ignore the musical’s overwhelming conviction that the old ways are best. Read the rest of this entry »

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2015: Stage

Theater, Top 5 Lists 1 Comment »

Top 5 Dramas of 2015
“Moby Dick,” Lookingglass Theatre Company
“Marjorie Prime,” Writers Theatre 
“Brilliant Adventures,” Steep Theatre Company
“How The World Began,” Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
“Love and Human Remains,” Cor Theatre
—Kevin Greene

Top 5 Comedies of 2015
“The Upstairs Concierge,” Goodman Theatre
“Lunacy!,” Jackalope Theatre
“Samsara,” Victory Gardens 
“With Love and a Major Organ,” Strawdog Theatre Company
“The Walk Across America For Mother Earth,” Red Tape Theatre 
—Kevin Greene Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Lion King/Broadway In Chicago

Musicals, Recommended Shows, Theater, Theater Reviews No Comments »
Nia Holloway/Photo: Joan Marcus

Nia Holloway/Photo: Joan Marcus

RECOMMENDED

“The Lion King” is undeniably magical. As the show begins, Rafiki–the mandrill shaman–sings the first lines of “The Circle of Life” while a host of actors in brilliantly designed animal costumes (including giraffes, elephants, zebras and birds) appear against a sunrise to pay tribute to the lion cub, Simba (Tré Jones and, later in the show, Blaine Alden Krauss as his adult counterpart), who is destined to become king of the jungle. In less than a minute, audience members of all ages are completely hooked.

The stage version features the critically acclaimed songs by Elton John, Tim Rice and Hans Zimmer that were first featured in the animated film (“Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” “Hakuna Matata” etc.) along with a few additions. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical/Broadway In Chicago

Musicals, Recommended Shows, Theater, Theater Reviews No Comments »
(L to R) Curt Bouril, Liam Tobin, Abby Mueller, Ben Fankhauser, Becky Gulsvig and the Company of "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"/Photo: Joan Marcus

Curt Bouril, Liam Tobin, Abby Mueller, Ben Fankhauser, Becky Gulsvig and the Company of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”/Photo: Joan Marcus

RECOMMENDED

What do the songs “The Locomotion,” “Take Good Care of My Baby” and “It’s Too Late” all have in common? Aside from being number-one hits, they were all penned by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Carole King. The first two–along with a slew of others–were co-written with King’s ex-husband Gerry Goffin. However, King is a legend in her own right and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” directed by Marc Bruni with musical direction by Susan Draus, explores why. Read the rest of this entry »