Just in time for spring, the Chicago Children’s Theatre is back in bloom. Returning to live, in-person productions, Carmela Full of Wishes is a charming tale about the importance of imagination. Adapted for the stage by Alvaro Saar Rios from the children’s book by Matt de la Pena with illustrations by Christian Robinson. The quartet of actors here playing an array of characters. The primary, Carmela, is describe by Rios as a “fierce Latina with an awesome imagination”. More on that in just a moment. The show’s official opening attended by a cornucopia of ages, genders and races.
“Intimate Apparel” is a slice of life of a shy hardworking black woman in 1905. Esther sews intimate garments for high society women as well as prostitutes. Her world revolves around these clients, her fabric supplier, an Orthodox Jew and a pen pal prospective husband.
The word “intimate” actually has two separate meanings in this story. Esther sews lovely “intimate” apparel for her mere existence. And, the characters around Esther’s life seek “intimacy”, but never really achieve it.
Steve Martin’s creation pits a 23-year-old Picasso against a 25-year-old Einstein. Each Is on the threshold of fame and both have enormous egos. The banter between them and the Lapin Agile “bar people” makes for fun and friction. It was sort of like “The Million Dollar Quartet” meets “Cheers”, and that’s not bad!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED A sensation on Broadway before it was one of the first shows to close due to COVID, Moulin Rouge resumed performances last fall and shortly thereafter won the Tony Award. Chicago theatergoers are lucky to be the first to see the show outside of New York, as the National Tour opened to reviewers at the James M. Nederlander Theatre on April 21. This touring production of the musical set in the famed Paris nightclub is every bit the quality of the Broadway company, which this reviewer was fortunate to see in 2019. It is, to quote the lyrics of one of its songs, “spectacular, spectacular.”
Highly Recommended Those looking for a new show in the style of the old classic musical comedies will find a winner in "The Prom." It’s the story of a group of once-successful Broadway performers who try to build their reputations by getting involved in the efforts of a girl from a small Indiana town to attend her high school prom with her girlfriend. Certainly most of the audience members who would attend this show are likely to be on the side of this young girl, "The Prom" gently pokes fun at woke culture as well – and also at the celebrities who embrace social causes.
Thought you might like another perspective, so I've added this review of Six by John Olson for TSPNews. || Part rock concert, part history lesson – SIX imagines that the six wives of Henry VIII
It was fun and delightful! This little neighborhood theater with only seating capacity of 100+ put on a “downtown performance” of a musical called "Something’s Afoot"
The evening started with a nice salute to the Grave Digger Monster Truck. This year commemorates it’s 40th Anniversary as a member of the Monster Jam assemblage. My attending crew for the event are ages 11, 6 and 4 and everyone had a blast. Definitely mark this as a family friendly event.
***RECOMMENDED*** For Oscar Wilde, it was the love that dare not speak its name. For Kitty Warren, the central character of George Bernard Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession," it is her very profession which is never mentioned. Written in 1893, extremely early in Shaw's long and prolific career and only his second full-length play, he never expected it to receive a license from the Lord Chamberlain which would have allowed it to be performed. He was correct. The controversial work was banned due to its scandalous subject matter during the strict Victorian era and did not enjoy its first public performance on a London stage until 1925. Now, thanks to Promethean Theatre Ensemble and a decidedly modern and fresh adaptation by Melanie Spewock, we have this sparkling production which is a total delight to experience. 3 AND 1/2 SPOTLIGHTS
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Oftentimes, despite our best efforts and idealistic intentions, things fall apart. We let our fellow man down repeatedly by acts of ignorance or physical violence committed against one another. When the victim of that destruction is a member of the animal kingdom, some may feel that the offense is even greater. These defenseless and harmless creatures, many of which are on the ever-growing list of endangered species, face a brutal future as many of them are approaching total extinction. Whether threatened by the ravages of climate change (the recent bushfires in Australia that saw the astounding fatality rate of and impact upon countless koalas, kangaroos and wallabies is just one example) or by basic and all-consuming human greed, animals in the wilderness today are living -- and trying to survive -- in an alarmingly hostile world. The story of one such animal, an elephant named Mlima, is the basis for Lynn Nottage's multi-faceted and haunting play "Mlima's Tale," which is receiving its Midwest premiere in a beautiful production by Griffin Theatre Company at the Raven Theatre. 4 SPOTLIGHTS