★★★★ 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.
I had intended to review "Bloomsday" myself, but traffic got in the way. There was a Cubs game at 7:15 on opening night. Knowing that, I left Munster at 5:15 for Remy Bumppo's 7:00 pm curtain, but traffic on LSD was horrendous. I got to Theater Wit about 10 minutes late, and of course they couldn't hold the curtain. I saw the second act, which I really enjoyed, but I didn't think it was fair to write a review without seeing both. Thanks to my friend Al Bresloff, I'm able to offer a full review. Carol
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** What a joy it is to have the supremely talented director David Cromer back at Writers Theatre. The North Shore native, who has been living in New York City for the past decade, returns to direct his sixth show (but the first in the new Writers Theatre building) with a touching and simply sensational rendering of the 2009 musical "Next to Normal." Chicagoland audiences once again have a chance to see the very special magic that a director as gifted as Cromer can bring to a show, and all of this only a year after Cromer's Broadway production of the musical "The Band's Visit" swept the 2018 Tony Awards ceremony, winning Cromer the coveted Best Director trophy. 4 SPOTLIGHTS
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** If you have never seen "West Side Story" on stage before, the current production at Lyric Opera of Chicago, part of their Broadway at Lyric series, may just be the most definitive version of this beloved musical that's available and you are highly encouraged to seek it out. Conversely, if you feel that you have seen this show too many times before, well, you have never seen it like this. Get your tickets now or you will be missing out on a unique opportunity to see it on such a grand scale. Regardless of your history with this show, Francesca Zambello's production of "West Side Story" is stellar for three very distinct reasons. 4 BIG SPOTLIGHTS