Visiting Edna

Slowly, with many long speeches by Edna reminiscing about past events particularly those involving Andrew, we get hints as to what is the angst Andrew feels toward Edna and his dead father. Communicating, searching for relevant connections and struggling to make peace as time depletes Edna's life is the play's focus. The early scenes quickly become tedious as we hear Edna ramble on and on. Read more

Tug of War: Civil Strife

... on September 25 from 1 pm to 7 pm at Navy Pier with Gaines' second installment of her ode to The Bard's histories: Tug of War: Civil Strife. I enjoyed this show more than the first one. Maybe because of the music seemed to be more a tad softer, more melancholy or maybe because my three favorite classical actors had major roles : Larry Yando, Kevin Gudahl and Timothy Edward Kane? Whatever the reason, Tug of War: Civil Strife was a thrilling event that I'm glad I was able to cover this. Kudos to Chicago Shakespeare for having the chutzpah to mount two historical marathon dramas in the same season! Read more

Bleacher Bums

I can only imagine that Open Space thought a production of Bleacher Bums would be a commercial guarantee given its timeliness because, apart from the elaborate bleacher set, very little thought seems to have gone into this show. The most apparent and pervasive misstep in the production is its failure to make the baseball game a visceral reality. With no other crowd sounds other than the actors, the setting felt empty and devoid of energy; and the actors themselves, apart from Erik Burke as the zealously impassioned Cheerleader, brought little conviction to the game’s reality and only intermittent enthusiasm for its progress — and when there was action occurring on the field the actors oftentimes looked in different directions! (Was this supposed to be funny?) Moreover, the Wrigley Field scoreboard was a static projection of a JPEG image, so it never changed score, batter, count — anything. Why? A commentary on the sometimes-interminable feeling of baseball games? A la Beckett’s “Waiting for Santo”? Read more

“Cheers-Live on Stage”

If you were a fan of “Cheers” the TV show that ran from 1982 to 1993, then you are in for a treat. Explore the more simple times of the 80’s and take a trip down memory lane with Diane, Sam and crew. Now, if you have not seen the TV show you may just enjoy this show to see what it was like in the 1980’s and early 1990’s when your Mom and Dad were younger. You may even get some fashion ideas from the iconic Michael McDonald. I think I recognized one of those mid-length silk skirts that used to be in my wardrobe. Read more

Man in the Ring

Anchored by old Emile, (fabulous work from Allen Gilmore) who is going into and out from past memories as he battles dementia. He sees his young self (the boxer-built Kamal Angelo Bolden) as he arrives in NYC from St. Thomas to reunite with his estranged mother Emelda (Jacqueline Williams). As Emile and Emelda look for work in NYC, Emile's ability to make lady's hats leads him to Howie (Thomas J. Cox), a small hat manufacturer. Once Howie sees how well built Emile is he gets him to become a boxer. Read more

The City of Conversation

Set in 1979 Washington, D.C. at a mansion in Georgetown (impressive set design by Tom Burch), we are at the place where through the years, Hester Ferris (Lia D. Mortensen), a Kennedy-liberal from the 60's, held posh dinner parties. These events definitely help liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans come to agreements and compromises on government policy, political appointments and new legislation. These private parties allowed political adversaries the opportunity to relax, have a drink and civilly reach a consensus. After all, most politicians in that era where to some degree or another friends. Hester hosted many of these parties in the 60's and 70's. Read more

The Happiest Place On Earth

The family used their almost yearly visits to Disneyland as a place of solace and escape as they recover and move on with life. Dawkins deftly plays each of the four sisters and their mother. His rendition of the seven year old was precious. The Happiest Place On Earth is about more than just a retelling one one family's story. It is a testimony to the resilience of American families, particularly those whose matriarchs keep the family functioning. Read more

Wonderful Town

Mary Zimmerman's genius for staging and set design use grabs audiences from the start catapulting them back to New York's Greenwich Village in the 1950's that was an enclave of artists, poets and composers and writers. Using Todd Rosenthals colorfully stunning set design inspired by a graphic illustration by Steven Duncan, Zimmerman ekes all the comedy from Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov's book and from Betty Comden and Adolph Green hysterical lyrics with many of those precious little Zimmerman additions that garner laughs. Her staging is manic, fun, and breathtaking!. From the opening ensemble number, we get the feel that Wonderful Town will be funny, heartfelt and hopeful as we experience NYC in the 1950's. I can't remember a finer musical comedy opening that sets the audience's expectations better! Read more

Miss Holmes

For Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes forged a bond of trust out of both necessity and a mutual curiosity about events. Playwright Walsh weaves all the smart observations by Holmes with the unique observations by Watson that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would appreciate to establish a fine mystery. Add a Holmes style plot and this new work appeals to mystery lovers. Mush humor emerges as we view all Holmes and Watson's foibles, Katie McLean Hainsworth's performance is a winner as she delivers the cleverness and rich humor of the quirky Holmes. Read more

In The Heights Porchlight Theatre

Before all the Hamilton hype. Lin-Manuel Miranda created a four Tony winner, including Best Musical with In The Heights. I have seen the show three times now and I enjoyed and appreciated this musical on its own terms. Filled with a manic pace, toe-tapping rhythms and richly powerful vocals, Directer Brenda Didier and co-choreography Christopher Carter created wonderful dances including salsa, hip-hop and natural Latino beats. The energy keeps us engaged throughout. Read more