**** Recommended **** If you’re looking for something fun to do, then Theatre at the Center’s new musical comedy, “Dames at Sea”, is the show for you. “Dames at Sea”, a 1969 off-Broadway hit, is an old-fashioned ‘boy-meets-girl, girl-becomes-star’ tap dance show, kind of. At any rate, this campy mash-up of “42nd Street”, “Anything Goes” and “On the Town”, this is the show that made Bernadette Peters a star! 4 Spotlights
** Somewhat Recommended ** I was really disappointed in “August Rush: The Musical”, the new production at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. Although the music was gorgeous, the story was curiously unfinished and confusing. It wasn’t a big, showy, ‘ready-for-Broadway’ premiere, it was more like the first workshop of a new musical. The cast made the most of what they had, so I give “August Rush: The Musical” 2 ½ Spotlights.
**** Recommended **** “Chicago” is one of my absolute favorite musicals. I think I’d go almost anywhere to see it, so I was delighted that the tour came back to Chicago, this time starring former NFL star, Eddie George. I’m happy to say it did not disappoint – the music is sexy and jazz-y, the dancing is sexy and very ‘Fosse’, and the voices are gorgeous! 4 Spotlights.
**** Recommended **** When I saw “Matilda The Musical” the first time, I didn’t understand what all the buzz had been about. Child abuse as comedy just didn’t work for me. Since I really didn’t like touring “Matilda”, I couldn’t imagine a way I’d like Drury Lane’s production, but they proved me wrong. While it was still really, really mean, Mitch Sebastian’s vision was surprisingly funny and even kind of endearing – in an off-the-wall way! His choreography was spectacular, too. 3 ½ Spotlights
**** Recommended **** The audience for “American Girl Live” seemed to be about 75% girls carrying American Girl dolls, with moms and the occasional dad making up the other 25%. Not surprising then, that the audience was totally into the story, cheering when something good happened, groaning when things went wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a perkier show, but it was fun. 3 ½ Spotlights
**** Recommended **** I always have high expectations when I go to Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and they always meet or exceed them. Their latest production, “Hamlet” is no exception. I like my Shakespeare stripped down, so I can concentrate on the words, and Barbara Gaines has delivered exactly that. This “Hamlet” has modern dress and minimal scenery, drawing attention directly to the characters. Although I wish Hamlet had been a bit kinder to Ophelia, and that she’d had a little more backbone, they were real people dealing with real emotions – grief and anger and disbelief – and doing the best they could. 4 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** When I was a child, I was positive I’d be a prima ballerina one day. The fact that I never had a ballet lesson was irrelevant. Alas, I grew up, and pursued another dream, becoming a writer. I still love ballet, and feel very privileged to be able to write about the Joffrey Ballet. Their spring engagement, “Across the Pond”, three contemporary pieces by three of the United Kingdom’s best choreographers, is absolutely brilliant. Again, the incredibly talented Joffrey dancers execute the most complicated choreography with flawless technique and timing. 4 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** “Djembe!” (pronounced jem-bay) is an exuberant, joyful experience and I really enjoyed it! Who knew that by the end of the show, everyone in the building would actually be drumming? Even me? Amazing! I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever but I was drumming by the end! I had so much fun! 4 BIG Spotlights
**** “Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour” blew into Chicago on Tuesday, but don’t blink, it’ll be gone by Sunday. The boy-meets-girl plot is almost non-existent, but the music really rocks! Seriously, the score includes 28 hits from artists like Bon Jovi, Journey, Styx, Pat Benatar, Poison, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Europe, REO Speedwagon and more. I hesitate to use the term ‘cult icon’, but this jukebox musical is something special. You’ll be dancing in your seat! 4 Spotlights
**** Recommended **** Let the dancing begin! For their re-mount of an all-time audience favorite, Marriott Theater has pulled together an ensemble of terrific dancers and turned them “Footloose”! If you’ve never seen this musical, don’t expect to see the movie on stage. The story has been changed significantly – and not for the better, in my opinion. Several songs have been added, but a lot of the ‘learn-to-dance scenes have disappeared. Nevertheless, it’s a fun show, and audiences are having a toe-tapping good time. 4 Spotlights