****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Drag is political. The very act of a man dressing as a woman makes a pretty bold statement. Nearly two and a half decades before Americans had the first female candidate on the ballot for President of the United States, we almost had our first drag queen as a serious contender. How Terence Alan Smith transformed himself into Ms. Joan Jett Blakk and ran for the land's highest office is the subject of Steppenwolf's world premiere of "Ms. Blakk for President," a highly entertaining and celebratory concoction conceived by fellow Steppenwolf Ensemble Members Tina Landau and Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Landau and featuring McCraney in the title role. 4 SPOTLIGHTS
Highly Recommended **** I must preface this review by stating that I never expected to give this particular show a rating this high, but Toma Tavares Langston and his quartet of fabulously talented performers have brought this show to a new level for me (and I suppose based on what the opening night response ) and others. When the touring company came by several years ago, I believe my rating was “somewhat recommended”. The current production in the very intimate space at Theo Ubique is far and away a masterpiece compared to what BIC brought in.
★★★★ In the past few months we have seen several plays that deal with stories of the family and in particular an aging member of same. In two cases, David Darlow has played that father and I might add, to perfection! Victory Gardens Theater is now presenting the Chicago premiere of Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget”. This is a tile that can throw one off as to what is the story. What could it be about? I think many might think about aging and the process, and while there is a story that does deal with aging, the total story is about a family and its stories!
★★I truly do not enjoy using a rating system for a new work. As many of us know, Chicago gets many pre-Broadway shows that leave here looking like a short run is in store, but with fixes, the show survives and often plays for years there and on the road. Some plays return to their original starting theater unrecognizable to us. The new production of “Grace, Or The Art of Climbing” written by L.M.Feldman, a “Queer”, feminist playwright (and circus artist) tells us a story about Emm ( Alex Molnar is terrific, except for projection to the back row) who due to some bad stuff decides to enter the world of competitive rock-climbing. note: who even knew that there was such a thing?
Recommended *** Do you remember the 1960’s? I know that I do and one of my favorite musicals, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying “ with a wonderful score by Frank Loesser and dynamite book by Abe Burros ( think “ Guys & Dolls”) that relates to the business world and more of that period. Yes, it is very dated and while our world has changed a great deal over these fifty plus years, once in awhile isn’t it nice to just step back and take a break from the world of computers and texting to just enjoy a simple story. Thanks to Music Theater Works, you can!
**** Highly Recommended **** As a long-time fan of Hubbard Street Dance, I try to see every series, and I have never been disappointed. The artistry, strength and grace that the dancers bring to the choreography is world-class, the choreographers are inventive and original, and lighting, sound and costume always complement and enhance the work. At the beginning, I always marvel that humans can achieve such feats of athleticism and discipline of their bodies and minds. But tonight's performance was truly breath-taking.
★★★★★ When one attends a production at Black Ensemble Theater, one expects to hear music “the way it is meant to be heard”, and, as always, their new show, “Style and Grace”, hit the mark! There is also a new voice in the background. Kylah Frye, who we have watched on the stage at Black Ensemble over the years, has taken on a new role (or perhaps an added one) as an Associate Director with the company, and wrote and directed this piece. Turns out she is a triple threat, doing a great job.
Highly Recommended **** Most of us grew up on Boris Karloff in “Frankenstein”, a tale of a Doctor who desires to recreate man from the dead. What Lookingglass Theatre is now presenting is a whole new look at “the monster” as told by Mary Shelley. This is a version that many will be surprised by. David Caitlin has adapted this book to fit the Lookingglass mode of creating stories that are physical as well as mental. Caitlin also directs this powerful story. Lookingglass patrons know that every time you enter the “black box” venue, you will see a different configuration. This one is in the round, so to speak, with audience members sitting on all four sides and the action taking place on a platform of sorts in the center of the room.
Recommended *** During the War ( AKA as “The Big One”) most people are aware that the women had to take some of the jobs that their men did prior to being called to service. History shows that the “Rosie the Riveter” ladies kept our country and economy going. For baseball fans, we had “A League of Their Own”, but what about the theater? George Brant’s “Into the Breeches” now on the Northlight stage takes us back to 1942, here in Chicago and our Oberon Playhouse.