Harvey

This funny show is pure whimsical fantasy played out with innate sweetness with a pleasant lighthearted touch. Elwood is a lovable guy who was smart and now wants to be pleasant. His simple credo is infectious. It is so refreshing to see strong dramatic actors like Timothy Edward Kane, Karen Janes Woditsch, Jacqueline Williams, and A.C. Smith perform comedy. Their timing rendered many laughs.

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Relativity

At she bonds with Einstein, Harding segways from Einstein’s work to his personal life. She speaks about a child he had in 1902 who was never spoken again after 1904. Here playwright St. Germain fictionalizes about what happened to the baby and what Harding’s connection is to that happening. Einstein’s reaction to that baby, now a grown women, and to that women’s child, a genius savant makes for a compelling story.

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Black Pearl: A Tribute to Josephine Baker

What makes this biomusical work so well is the combination of terrific period dance numbers depicting traditional vaudeville, ragtime, and roaring twenties dances with outstanding performances by the two Josephine Bakers. We see Joan Ruffin, as the older Josephine as she narrates the Baker story deftly until she ‘becomes’ her. But the real star is Aerial Williams as the younger Josephine. Aerial is a true beauty, a fabulous dancer/singer and an exquisite actor. She has a terrific stage presence that becomes electrifying. She has charm to spare yet is tough as need be. Aerial Williams gives a star-studded performance here.

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Objects In The Mirror

Objects In The Mirror is his best to date!. This work is based on the true experiences of Shedrick Yarkpai, an actor living in Australia and a former immigrant from West Africa. Charles Smith met Shedrick Yarkpai when he played in Smith’s Free Men of Color in Adelaide, Australia. The actor and the playwright became friends and, over time, Shedrick Yarkpai told Smith his story of his more than ten year journey from war-torn Liberia as well as migrant camps in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire to Australia.

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Cabaret at The Theatre at the Center

Cabaret’s opening, “Willkommen” (one of the best ever of a Broadway musical) must create the sleazy atmosphere of the 1930 Berlin club. Sean Fortunato is powerfully enticing as the Emcee. He uses the eye-popping expressions and campy style to make his Emcee the featured persona at the Klub. He welcomes us into his world. With the terrific Kit Kat Girls and the sweet Kit Kat Boys; the Kit Kat Club has a staff of deliciously sexy performers. Linda Fortunato’s opening choreography was innovative and original.

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Paradise Blue

With original trumpet jazz music played in part by Al’ Jaleel Mcghee, the actor-musician playing Blue the owner of the Paradise jazz club in 1949 in Detroir’s Black Bottom neighborhood, playwright Dominique Morisseau has mounted a haunting urban drama. This is an enticing work with strong characters each caught in an urban struggle that finds city hall moving to displace a black neighborhood for an Interstate Highway. Black Bottom was home to dozens of jazz night clubs where black musician could play and develop their craft uninhibited.

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My Fair Lady at the Lyric Opera of Chicago

The current production of My Fair Lady was initially directed by Robert Carsen for Paris’s Theatre de Chatelet with this “revival” being staged by Olivier Fredj. With British stars Richard E. Grant as Henry Higgins and Nicholas Le Prevost as Colonel Pickering, this Broadway at Lyric production as a ‘very British’ sensibility. Americans who play Higgins (Nathan M. Hosner, Kevin Gudhal, and Nick Sandys among others) give Higgins a sharper bitter edge than Britishers like Richard Grant do. That is not to say that Grant’s performance as Higgins wasn’t superb, it was. It’s just that he has a the English gentleness that American audiences are not used to. Lisa O’Hare (who did the 2008 American tour produced by Cameron Mackintosh) was splendid as Elisa as she sang well and presented a strong Elisa who stood up to Higgins effectively.

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She Loves Me

Set in a Hungarian perfume shop in the 1930s, the delightful characters inhabit a world suffused with love and longing. The central story revolves around the two feuding clerks, Georg and Amalia, who secretly find solace in their anonymous romantic pen pals, little knowing that their respective correspondents are each other. Made into a good looking jewel box musical, She Loves Me is pure fun, full of fine songs and witty lyrics and cute, loveable characters.

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