HuffPo Review: CST’s Sleepy ‘Cyrano’ Lacks Passion

High hopes surrounded Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Cyrano de Bergerac, the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand translated for the stage by Anthony Burgess. This is Harry Groener’s return to CST following his triumphant, award-winning turn in The Madness of George III in 2011. In that production, directed by Penny Metropulos, he created a character so grandly realized, it remains one… Read More HuffPo Review: CST’s Sleepy ‘Cyrano’ Lacks Passion

A solid, sobering ‘Trip to Bountiful’ at Raven

Millicent Hurley Spencer and Mike Boone in Raven Theatre’s “The Trip to Bountiful” One of the things I’ll never understand about society is how we treat those who are in advanced phases of life. The senior citizens. The elderly. The infirm. Especially considering, if we’re lucky enough, we’ll all be in that same boat. Instead,… Read More A solid, sobering ‘Trip to Bountiful’ at Raven

HuffPo Review: High-energy Evita needs a touch of star quality

Evita is a touchstone in the modern musical theater canon. When the sung-through rock opera debuted in the late ’70s, it broke many rules. A musical about a polarizing political icon featuring a score (by a young and ambitious Andrew Lloyd Webber and his collaborator Tim Rice) that required the lead actress to rock belt… Read More HuffPo Review: High-energy Evita needs a touch of star quality

Porchlight’s ‘Double Trouble’ Creaks with Old-School Charm

Alexander and Adrian Aguilar harmonize in Porchlight’s “Double Trouble” Donald and Gene. Bing and Danny. Adrian and Alexander. What do these three pairs have in common? Why, they’re vintage sweater vest-sportin’, Brilliantine in the hair-wearnin’, singin’ and dancin’ duos who charm with their smooth moves and crooning tunes. They all have a song at the… Read More Porchlight’s ‘Double Trouble’ Creaks with Old-School Charm

Mercury Theater finds the emotional core in sprawling ‘The Color Purple’

Perhaps you heard the cheers, sobs and stamping feet coming from Southport street? Well, that was the sound of the opening night audience at Mercury Theater’s The Color Purple, a searing and emotionally resonant production directed by L. Walter Stearns. This is my first encounter with the 2005 musical adaptation of the beloved Alice Walker… Read More Mercury Theater finds the emotional core in sprawling ‘The Color Purple’

HuffPo Review: Nora Dunn presents a funny, if fragmented, one woman show

Nora Dunn knows how to tell a story. Particularly when she’s telling it from the perspective of a character. From an old-school Hollywood agent to a precocious girl who attends a school for the creatively gifted, Dunn uses these characterizations as a conduit to tell her side of the showbiz story. The side where a… Read More HuffPo Review: Nora Dunn presents a funny, if fragmented, one woman show

HuffPo Review: It’s All About the Dance in ‘Flashdance – The Musical’

Alex just wants to dance! When asked to describe how she feels about dance, she chooses one word: passionate. She “is the music.” She looks good in a skimpy two-piece dance suit and legwarmers. Trouble is, she’s a steel mill welder who moonlights as an exotic dancer at the neighborhood bar and grill. How can… Read More HuffPo Review: It’s All About the Dance in ‘Flashdance – The Musical’

HuffPo Review: Haven Theatre Presents a Glam, if Glum, ‘Hedwig’

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a show that either resonates deeply, or you walk away slightly disoriented. For me, Hedwig is one of the best rock musicals written in the last 45 years, ranking right up there with Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair. Conceived by the brilliant John Cameron Mitchell (who played Hedwig in its famed Off-Broadway run as well… Read More HuffPo Review: Haven Theatre Presents a Glam, if Glum, ‘Hedwig’

‘The Jungle Book’ is a feast for the eyes and ears, but leaves the heart empty

Walt Disney’s “The Jungle Book” is one of those movies I’m sure I’ve seen, but I don’t recall much from it – aside from the jaunty tune “The Bear Necessities.” While the Goodman’s new and wildly inventive adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories is a wholly original creation by mastermind director Mary Zimmerman, it… Read More ‘The Jungle Book’ is a feast for the eyes and ears, but leaves the heart empty

Bailiwick’s entertaining ‘Mahal’ explores the struggle of redefining family post-tragedy

F Karmann Bajuyo, Kate Garassino and Kevin Matthew Reyes in Bailiwick Chicago Theater’s world premiere of production of “Mahal” “Mahal” is Tagalog for “love.” It also means “expensive.” While it might seem odd that such an important word serves two meanings, when you think about it, it makes sense. Love is precious. It’s something that… Read More Bailiwick’s entertaining ‘Mahal’ explores the struggle of redefining family post-tragedy

A perplexing and pretentious ‘Lives of the Pigeons’

Vincent L. Lonergan and Don Bender in The Side Project’s “Lives of the Pigeons” Sometimes after seeing a show, I leave the theatre feeling more than a little disoriented. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — good theatre should challenge. So, following the world premiere of Sherod Santos’ perplexing Lives of the Pigeons, I went… Read More A perplexing and pretentious ‘Lives of the Pigeons’

Ludicrous Theatre’s powerful ‘Southern Baptist Sissies’ takes religion to task

My best friend is Catholic. I remember having a particularly pointed conversation with her asking if she believed I was going to hell because I was gay. While her response was “no,” she couldn’t argue with the fact that her religious community felt differently. Hearing her try to reconcile these two things just confused me… Read More Ludicrous Theatre’s powerful ‘Southern Baptist Sissies’ takes religion to task

HuffPo Review: Visit ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ for a Toe-Tapping Good Time

The cast of Theo Ubique’s “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” As a powerhouse songwriting duo, Jerome “Jerry” Leiber and Mike Stoller cranked out some significant hits in the ’50s and ’60s, including “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Stand By Me” and “On Broadway.” When producers Stephen Helper, Jack Viertel and Otis Sallid decided to create a musical revue… Read More HuffPo Review: Visit ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ for a Toe-Tapping Good Time