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The King and I at The Lyric Opera of Chicago

This spectacular, colorful, exquisitely sung production is a treat. You’d be hard pressed to see a finer production of this beloved classic. The casting was fine but I could see an older and more charismatic King yet Montalban sure had his moments. I was most impressed with production. You’ll be entertained and you’ll live humming the fabulous R & H tunes. “Shall We Dance” is still stuck in my head – it makes me want to polka! Read more

The House of Blue Leaves

In 1971, John Guare’s dark farce The House of Blue Leaves launched his career by establishing him as a writer who defies genres and has a wicked sense of humor. Now, in 2016, when the farce has receded from its once-prominent position in the theatrical landscape, Guare’s story of a husband undergoing a mid-life crises while in thrall to his mentally ill wife and a group of invasive nuns awaiting the arrival of the pope looks even stranger. But in Raven’s production, under the direction of co-artistic director JoAnn Montemurro, every cackle rings true, and the horror exposed at the heart of the genre is all the more disturbing for being buried under such a goofy exterior. Read more

Dry Land

I think this play is for women, mothers and teen girls. They will relate and maybe understand the talk more than I did. The speech patterns of the girls - their tendency to talk fast and run their words together with the contemporary pop culture references made it difficult for me (a senior male) to understand. The younger folks, especially the women, laughed at the comments while I was clueless. Read more

In the Heat of the Night

Murder mysteries were one of the most popular genres of theatre once, but rarely were they as political and action-packed as Matt Pelfrey’s 2010 adaptation of In the Heat of the Night. The novel by John Ball is today best known for being the source material of the film, directed by Norman Jewison and staring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, which won the Academy Award for best picture in 1967. But Pelfrey’s script and Louis Contey’s production with Shattered Globe are exciting, disturbing, and possess a stylistic flare perfect for the stage. Read more

Nominees Announced For the 43rd Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards (2016)

The Jeff Awards Committee today announced 121 nominations in 24 categories for the 43rd Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards for productions that opened between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016. The Non-Equity Awards honor excellence in Chicago theatres not under a union contract. Jeff judges attended opening nights of 148 productions offered by 67 Non-Equity producing organizations. The Jeff Committee recommended 65 of those shows (or 44%), making them eligible for Non-Equity Jeff Award nominations. Of the 65 Jeff Recommended productions, a record 53 (or 82%) received nominations, representing 32 theatre companies. Read more

A Splintered Soul

The story is mostly driven by Simon’s attempts to protect the other refugees, especially Elisa and Harold, regardless of what anyone else tells him is smart or right. However, the plays is mostly a character study. The problem with dedicating your life to revenge is that it requires there to always be someone to take revenge upon. Simon hears and sees what he wants to, justifies everything, and uses the Holocaust as his framework for understanding every situation he comes across. Of course, the result is not good, but he sincerely inquired about the philosophy of justice from his biggest critics, and tried to do what was right for the people who had been betrayed by everyone else. Read more

Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum by Citadel Theatre

I can also tip my hat to Citadel’s current leading man, Tim Walsh, who thoroughly embodies all of the timing, rubber face expressions and comedic zeal of a seasoned burlesque Top Banana. Walsh has a tall order of keeping all of the plot machinations with its myriad of courtesans, soldiers, eunuchs, lovers, letches and company spinning within his control, and it is a heroic effort. Read more

In the Time of the Butterflies

As this is a memory play, locations are represented mostly through Liviu Pasare’s dazzling projections, which fit with Svich’s intimate focus on the sisters’ psychology. Teatro Vista will present In the Time of the Butterflies three times for schools, but this intensely personal account, mingled with exhortations on the importance of bearing witness, edifying and rewarding for people of all ages. Read more

The Producers at the Mercury Theater

In this production, I rediscovered Brooks' clever humor. There is so much going on in this nonstop show that it simply overwhelms us. Can a show have too many laughs? Comedy returns to musical comedy with The Producers. Mel Brooks is outrageous as he attempts to offend as many people, places, nationalities, genders and institutions as possible. He does it without regard to being ‘politically correct.’ Thank God for Brooks' chutzpah! Read more