Review “The Complete Deaths” (Chicago Shakespeare Theater): Killing It!

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents the Spymonkey’s THE COMPLETE DEATHS. Did you know there are 75 onstage deaths in Shakespeare’s plays?  The killings include 74 human plus the fly in “Titus Andronicus.”  Spymonkey, UK’s clown troupe, perform this clever tribute to the Shakespearean deceased.  Director and Adaptor Tim Crouch has created a showcase showdown of these ...

Review “Twelfth Night” (Midsommer Flight): Fun (and Free) Holiday Date Night

Sunday, December 4, 2016 Permalink 0

Midsommer Flight remounts TWELFTH NIGHT at  Lincoln Park Conservatory. Midsommer Flight gives Chicago a merry alternative to traditional Xmas shows. Director Beth Wolf and her frolicking ensemble return with a Shakespeare comedy classic. They sing. They dance. They improv. The talented, bare-footed crew race around Illyria playing instruments and falling in love.  A solid Meredith ...

GIVE IT ALL BACK (Sideshow Theatre Company): It Ain’t Him, Babe

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 Permalink 0

Reviewed by Tom Lawler Set the scene: Sideshow Theatre Company, now in its 10th season, continues its multi-year residency at Victory Gardens housed in Lincoln Park’s historic Biographic Theatre.  What’s it all about: A famous American singer-songwriter (Andrew Goetten) is holed up in a hotel in mid-1960s Paris while on tour and battling a constant series of ...

Review “The Fundamentals” (Steppenwolf Theatre): Enjoyable Yet Basic

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 Permalink 0

Steppenwolf Theatre presents THE FUNDAMENTALS.    The show starts out with a slick video montage. This commercial by Projection Designer Stephan Mazurek promotes a luxury hotel.  We are instantly sold on this elegant retreat from real life. Then, the branding spot finishes. The wall screen lifts and the reality is revealed. Ta-Da, the beauty and the ...

Review “King Charles III” (Chicago Shakespeare Theater): A Regal Behind-The-Throne Musing

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents KING CHARLES III.    I recently completed Netflix’s The Crown. It chronicled the beginnings of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. I finished the series wanting to know more.  KING CHARLES III is the perfect sequel. Playwright Mike Bartlett imagines the time period directly following the death of QE2. It’s set in contemporary times.  ...

Review “Chagrin Falls” (The Agency Theater Collective): Where Everybody Knows Your Shame

Reviewed by Tom Lawler Set the scene: The Agency Theater Collective was founded in 2010 with a mission to create “relevant, authentic work with a focus on new or rarely produced plays.”  Chagrin Falls, written by Chicagoan Mia McCullough, has garnered a slew of productions and honors across the country since making its debut in 2001 ...

Review “The Magic Play” (Goodman Theatre): Illusion and Realism

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 Permalink 0

The Goodman Theatre presents the World Premiere of THE MAGIC PLAY.  The press release describes this show as ‘part magic show, part play.’  And that combination gives it an authentic feel. It certainly starts out like a magic show.  The charismatic Brett Schneider (magician) takes the stage and immediately amazes the audience with card tricks.  Schneider ...

Review “The Nutcracker” (House Theatre of Chicago): Uplifting Whimsy in Dark Times

The House Theatre of Chicago presents THE NUTCRACKER. It's official THE NUTCRACKER is now one of my favorite holiday traditions.  Friday was my fifth opportunity to see this innovative spin on the E.T.A. Hoffman classic. (My reviews in 2014, 2013, 2011,  2010 and Tom's 2015 review  ).  After what-can-only-be-described as a horrific time for our nation, this show ...

Review “Annie” (Broadway in Chicago): Relevant and Uplifting

Friday, November 11, 2016 Permalink 0

Broadway in Chicago presents the limited engagement of ANNIE.     Chicago is spinning in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. People are sad. The city is somber.  Parents are asking ‘how do I explain this to my kids?’ I, myself, was feeling helpless, useless and hopeless on Wednesday evening when I stumbled into ANNIE.  ...

Review “End of the Rainbow” (Porchlight Music Theatre): Pot of Gold

Porchlight Music Theatre presents the Chicago Premiere of END OF THE RAINBOW.     I saw Judy Garland last night in this play about her final days. I  experienced her as both a tragic trainwreck and a superstar diva. The extraordinary Angela Ingersoll (Judy) embodies the iconic legend.  It’s December 1968 in London.  After several major set-backs ...