Porchlight’s ‘Ain’t Misbehavin” Delivers Smoldering Sass

The joint is certainly jumpin’ at Stage 773. Porchlight’s rollicking production of the “Fats” Waller revue, Ain’t Misbehavin’, playing through March 9, is the kind of show that offers enough heat and harmony to melt through the layers of ice that have crystallized Chicago. This isn’t the shiny, slick production of this oft-produced musical revue… Read More Porchlight’s ‘Ain’t Misbehavin” Delivers Smoldering Sass

A tale of two snow witches: House Theatre’s ‘Rose and the Rime’ and Filament’s ‘The Snow Queen’

“The Snow Queen” I grew up in northern Michigan, so I have a healthy affinity for that white flakey stuff. Not so much the polar vortex, but when it’s hovering above 15 degrees, I’m good. So, in combining my love of snow and theatre, over the past three days I checked out two highly inventive… Read More A tale of two snow witches: House Theatre’s ‘Rose and the Rime’ and Filament’s ‘The Snow Queen’

A Solid Cast Fails to Solve Remy Bumppo’s ‘An Inspector Calls’

If there’s any mystery in Remy Bumppo’s An Inspector Calls, it’s how this play is considered a classic of the mid-20th century English theatre. J. B. Priestley’s drama is less an Agatha Christie parlor mystery and more a heavy (heavy!) handed morality play delivered with all the subtlety of a Hallmark Channel Christmas Special. It’s… Read More A Solid Cast Fails to Solve Remy Bumppo’s ‘An Inspector Calls’

Strawdog presents a straight-to-the-heart ‘Great Expectations’

The cast of Strawdog’s “Great Expectations” Oh, Pip. That poor orphaned protagonist from Charles Dickens’ classic 1861 novel Great Expectations. The one who moves from youthful innocence to morally questionable social climber to sobered adult while meeting a host of colorful characters along the way, including an aged jilted bride with a sadistic streak and… Read More Strawdog presents a straight-to-the-heart ‘Great Expectations’

HuffPo Review: Timeline’s ‘The Normal Heart’ Proves a Sobering, Searing Reminder

David Cromer, Patrick Andrews and Mary Beth Fisher in Timeline’s “The Normal Heart” Watching David Cromer as gay rights activist Ned Weeks storm the stage, with his hands over his face in a perpetual mixture of anger, outrage and fear, is not unlike watching a staged panic attack. And rightly so: the world is crumbling… Read More HuffPo Review: Timeline’s ‘The Normal Heart’ Proves a Sobering, Searing Reminder

HuffPo Review: A Heartbreaking and Healing ‘Once’ at the Oriental Theatre

You’d be hard pressed to think of anything more intimate than the act of making music. Through music, one exposes themselves in a way that transcends mere talking or movement. It’s the ultimate exposure of one’s soul. And such rawness makes for compelling storytelling. Once, the 2012 Best Musical Tony winner based on the 2006… Read More HuffPo Review: A Heartbreaking and Healing ‘Once’ at the Oriental Theatre

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