REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams



A Dance-Fueled Thriller of Vice and Virtue

Based on the novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde

By Ben Lobpries & Tommy Rapley

Directed & Choreographed by Tommy Rapley

Produced by The House Theatre of Chicago

At Chopin Theatre, Chicago

Dance infused hedonist thriller visually enchanted theatrical experience

The creatives at The House Theatre of Chicago have long stretched theatrical norms with their shows . Their latest, Dorian, continues that trend. It is a dance infused hedonist thrill based on the 1890 novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Dorian, written by Ben Lobpries and choreographer Tommy Rapley is a fast-paced affair that utilized in promenade style that has the audience standing and moving about the stage as the action moves about and unfolds. Thankfully, there are seats available for us sitters!


This is a boldly modern adaptation that uses techno music (by Kevin O’ Donnell) and it features a hardworking ensemble of 12 actor/dancers. Most of the players are disco enthusiasts and artists bent on always having a good time. A young handsome guy, Dorian Gray (Cole Simon) come to town and is immediately greedily embraced by a group of artists and an art critic. Sensitive painter Basil Howard (Patrick Andrews) creates a stunning portrait of Dorian as he falls for the beauty. Dorain wishes that he could forever be beautiflu as his two-dimensional portrait.


Over time as Dorian embraced the bohemian hedonistic lifestyle of the party goers,  it becomes apparent that everyone else  is aging but Dorain. He embraces beauty as the only meaningful part of life. He becomes arrogant and insensitive toward others as he attends many wild parties, has meaningless love affairs and inflicts pain on himself that manifests it self on his portrait.  Yet, Dorian goes decades without aging at all. Cole Simon is charismatic as Dorian.

I’ll not give away more of this thriller as it moves swiftly toward demonstration what crime can ultimately break the spell. The  show uses terrific, ever changing large screen portrait images (by Jeff  Klapperich) that vividly demonstrate the debauchery and madness as Dorian morphs into self destruction.


Patrick Andrews as the moody painter and Alex Weisman as the doctor who enjoys seeing others enjoy themselves were most effective an empathetic while Manny Buckley is terrific as the obnoxious swishy art critic Harry.

The swift movement together with the jumps, twists and twirls in Tommy Rapley’s impressive choreography was a tad over done as it diminished, after a warm early welcome, the power of metamorphosis of Dorian. Also, there is too many scene changes that found, at times, many in the audience unable to see what was happening.

Yet, the over all experience and the impressive  atmosphere and the stunning visuals (the changing portraits of Dorian) fueled this unique theatrical experience. Kevin O’Donnell’s techno music worked well with Rapley’s manic choreography.Dorian proves that often the effects of the whole story telling is superior to the parts. Dorian is lush, modern, sexy, and fun. For something different, Dorian is fine choice.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: April 14, 2014

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Dorian page at

At Chopin Theatre,  1543 W. Divison St., Chicago, IL,  call 773-769-3832,, tickets $20 – $39, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through May 18, 2014

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