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

Chops

Chops is a winner on many levels. It is a nostalgic remembrance of the Rush Street night club era as well as a clever con plot to gain cash. The Randy Steinmeyer and Daniel Patrick Sullivan have terrific stage rivalry with Larry Neumann, Jr. contributing passive stability. These outstanding actors under Richard Shavzin's tight direction make this 88 minute one-act zing along. You'll be engrossed into the world of jazz and conmen as the glimpse into a lost era finds these guys trapped into to who they are. This show is a treat. Read more

Catch Me if You Can

“Catch Me if You Can” is quite simply the classiest and splashiest community theatre production I have enjoyed in ages. Don’t be fooled by the venue. You may be walking into the Buffalo Grove Park District, but Big Deal Productions’ 2016 summer extravaganza matches and occasionally exceeds some Chicago Equity productions with ambition and the kind of scale rarely seen on any stage these days. Producer Lindsay Grandt and Director Ken Preuss have marshaled together an extraordinary company of volunteers who have committed themselves heart and soul to exploring a classic cat and mouse game in which the traditional roles of good guy and bad guy get turned upside down. Read more

Kin Folk

The New Colony, under the direction of Evan Linder, puts their attention to where it truly matters: into a very strong cast. And though the story is sometimes confusing and, to me, ambiguous as to its meaning, it too raises some curious questions as to what it means to be human and how sometimes the gap between who we are and who we want to be cannot be bridged. Read more