LEAVINGS explores how a history of trauma impacts generations of African-American families. We meet Mama Bea (RjW Mays), the 111 year old matriarch of a Chicago family while in her final days becomes obsessed with uniting with the white Governor Skinner of Mississippi (Richard Engling) in order to set to rest the spirits that have haunted her family over 180 years. She has evidence that she and the governor are both descended from a nineteenth century slave owner who left the White half of the family with a heritage of privilege and economic security while the Black half with a history of familial separation, segregation and violence. Mama Bae knows that only by uniting the White and Black sides in a ritual of reconciliation can the tortured spirits that haunt the family be put to rest. Read more

Billy Elliot The Musical – Highland Park Players

Taking place during the UK miner strike in the 80’s in North Eastern England. A young boy named Billy Elliot (a very talented Cade M. Pearlman), not so well at boxing, accidentally finds himself dancing among a dance class filled with young ladies in tutus. Although, he is the only boy there is something about that class that makes him feel at ease. Read more

The Bottle Tree

In Beth Kander's world premiere drama, The Bottle Tree, the focus is on the rural Southern (Mississippi) gun culture. We meet Myrna Mason (Kathleen Ruhl) who is the matriarch of the poor-white-trash Mississippi Mason clan. Myrna is an old maid aunt to Rhoda (Christina Gorman) and her surviving daughter Alley (Katherine Acosta). Myrna is obsessed with the ghosts of her family. She believes in the hoodoo folk magic rural tradition. She has a Bottle Tree in her yard to help trap bad ghosts so that they will not influence her family. Read more


British playwright John Hollingsworth has penned a cautionary tale that exposes the conservative view of multiculturalism that believes that brown people, especially followers of Islam, can never really be "British" even if they are born in the UK or have been there since childhood. The fear Englishman express from those of color and those who embrace Islam have started raising their ugly heads in Bradford, England. Read more


Hamilton lives up to the hype as it is engaging, high-energy and an emotionally thrilling theatrical experience. It is an opera, a rap show, and an accurate history lesson that presents as dazzling entertainment. In this breakthroughs work, Lin-Manuel Miranda has moved the Broadway musical (opera) into new areas. It is terrific storytelling that bravely takes pop culture into the world of opera and Broadway musicals. The good news is that he has brought a new audience to musicals as young folks love this show. Read more

48th Annual Equity Jeff Awards

The classic revenge tale “The Tempest”, reimagined at Chicago Shakespeare Theater as a traveling tent show of trickery and amazement, was recognized for Production-Play for a large theatre, Direction of a Play for Aaron Posner and Teller, Magic Design for “The Great Tomsoni” Johnny Thompson, and Lighting Design for Thom Weaver. Porchlight Music Theatre’s “Dreamgirls”, the story of the aspirations and success of rhythm and blues artists in the 1960s and 70s, was honored with awards for Production-Musical for a midsize theatre, Principal Actress Donica Lynn, Supporting Actor Eric Lewis and Costume Designer Bill Morey. Read more

Lucia Di Lammermoor

But Lucia Di Lammermoor rests on the performance and vocal acumen of Lucia and Edgardo. Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova's mad scene (one of the most famous in opera) was powerfully sung and acted by Shagimuratova. She is becoming the finest Lucia in the world! Also Polish tenor Piotr Beczala is known as thee Edgardo in the world today. Together these two propel this opera to the heavens. Add the fine coral work and the fine work from Romanian bass Adrian Sampetrean as chaplain Raimondo and this opera plays as a triumph bel canto opera Read more

Romeo & Juliet – The Joffrey Ballet

Pastor’s timely interpretation is timely indeed — if one sets one’s time by 20th century Italian history. Set over three periods of Italian political and social unrest, Pastor’s Prokofiev’s Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet becomes the 1930’s Capulet militaristic Fascists versus the Montague liberal low and middle classes; then, in the second act, the 1950’s Capulet Red Brigade political terrorists versus the Montague peace-loving liberal low and middle classes (?); and then, finally in the third act, the 1990s . . . we’re more or less back to plain-ol’ Romeo and Juliet — but in Berlusconi-led Italy of “increasing social divisions!” And for those of us who cannot imagine what these periods of Italian history must have looked like — any more than what Shakespeare’s time did look like — there are projections of Italian pedestrians milling about their ravaged country — which projections are not at all as helpful in focusing the story as they might sound. Read more

“Young Frankenstein”

The set is inventive and effective, the wigs are a plenty and the tap shoes are tapping with this large cast of Transylvanian characters. What a magnificent effort by all to take on this show and just in time for Halloween. The townspeople of Transylvania are attending the funeral of Dr. Frankenstein—relief at last. Lead by Officer Kemp (Tony Calzaretta) let the celebration begin. Back in NYC, a young doctor receives a telegram; “It’s Frohnk-en-steen not Frankenstein,” he says when informed about his grandfather’s passing. Young Frederick (Nick Miller), must head to Transylvania to settle the estate and leave his finicky, yet fantastic fiancé Elizabeth (Christie Burgess-Martino) behind--which may not be such a bad thing anyway Read more

Pirandello’s Henry IV

One of the main reasons to see Pirandello's Henry IV is to enjoy the fantastic work by Mark L. Montgomery as the possibly mad Italian nobleman. Montgomery is one of the most skilled actors working on Chicago stages. His ability to articulate and dominate the stage leaving much doubt if his character is cured from his insanity or still mad or possibly playing games with his enablers? With Pirandello there is always doubt as to where fantasy and reality end. Questions of identify, truth and psychology receive unique treatment by Pirandello Read more