C. S. Lewis onstage The Most Reluctant Convert

Concepts such as the above are effectively explained by McLean during this 80 minute one-act solo show. This show is for fans of C. S. Lewis, for those who enjoy a "thinking-person's" play, and for anyone who enjoys a tour de force performance. Actors need to see Max McLean to learn how to make subtle and complex material by an academic sizzle on stage. McLean delivers in C. S. Lewis onstage The Most Reluctant Convert without being 'preachy.' Read more

Douglass

In Thomas Klingenstein’s world premiere play Douglass, about an episode from the life of famed author, orator, and escaped slave Frederick Douglass, Klingenstein explores what he interprets as one such situation his subject encountered in New Bedford, Massachusetts prior to the Civil War. It could be a fascinating episode from the life of one of America’s most dramatic personalities, but unfortunately, the play is mostly static. Read more

The 2 Sides Of Eddie Ramone

This is the second incarnation of The 2 Sides Of Eddie Ramone that I have seen. Previously, at its Edinburgh festival outing, it was Eddie on his own with his demons, and I was moved to write: ‘With flashes of brilliance, mixing comedy and pathos, and with his original and bitingly powerful writing, the redoubtable Chris Sullivan’s performance is his most memorable to date’. He has lost none of this winning emotional cocktail. This version of the play now features Shian Denovan, who plays his daughter, in a beautifully delivered and felt performance. Read more

Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys – Remount

Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys tells an old (yet familiar) story in a strikingly unique way; and, speaking as one not fond of historical or racial stories, I think every theatregoer will find something to enjoy in this fantastic production (excepting children, obviously). Though there is a lot of factual information to digest throughout the play, the all-too-human story comes through in the fantastic acting, singing, dancing, and uproarious masked satire (though, be aware, this is not a “musical”). So even if you get lost in the sequence of trials or forget who did what when, one will likely find themselves effected one way or another. Read more

Our Lady of 121st Street

Stephen Adly Guirgis’s early work Our Lady of 121st Street is one of the most popular sources of scenes and monologues for actors in training. With a large, diverse cast of troubled and bizarre characters, it provides ample opportunity for performers to make memorable impressions in just a few minutes. The play is also a snapshot of a community, instead of a traditional story, and therefore, it’s interesting to see how a professional production handles it. Read more

War Paint

But, I did have some problems with the bland, too-specific "talk-songs" that dominated this show. The dialogue was underwritten making the show depend on the "sound-all-alike" songs far two much. After three or four talk songs, my ear only heard the same sound alike songs. I'd advise more dialogue and less singing plot twists. The power ballads and anthems by the leads are terrific but those talk songs are repetitious and annoying. Here less is more. One of my friends suggested that War Paint needs to be refocused as a play with music with drama intermixed with those strong power numbers so expertly delivered by Lu Pone and Ebersole. Read more

Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks)

After a few changes to the script and re-staging for a park environment, Kirsten Kelly and Chicago Shakespeare have revived their short version of Twelfth Night for this summer’s city-sponsored Shakespeare in the Parks program. Featuring some of the same cast members as the production that played earlier this year in Chicago schools, Kelly’s Twelfth Night is endearing, funny, and light-hearted with just the right amount of intelligence. Read more