**** Recommended **** I love the P.G. Wodehouse stories about Bertie Wooster and his man, Jeeves because they never fail to make me laugh out loud. It is so much fun seeing Bertie and Jeeves come to life on the First Folio stage, they keep me laughing. Audiences must love them too, since “Jeeves Saves the Day” is the fifth appearance of the dynamic duo on the Oak Brook stage. Kudos to Director Joe Foust on a very funny, yet really charming production. 4 Spotlights
**** Recommended **** Northlight Theatre’s production of “How a Boy Falls” is a wonderfully dark and twisted little mystery by Steven Dietz. It’s so tightly knit that just when you think you’ve figured it out, everything changes. With everyone having secrets, just who’s guilty? If you like mysteries or suspense novels for that matter, you’ll love this play. 3 ½ Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** Ladies and Gentlemen, Duke Ellington is in Chicago! To be exact, a Duke Ellington celebration, “Sophisticated Ladies”, is wowing audiences at Porchlight Music Theatre. This absolutely fabulous must-see revue is a song and dance extravaganza. Don’t miss this one, it’s on my top ten list for the year! 4 BIG Spotlights
**** Recommended **** The Goodman Theatre’s new production, “Roe”, should be on everyone’s must-see list. Going in, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing this play because I thought it would be all strident and heavy, and yes, politically correct, but it wasn’t. I never cared about the people involved in “Roe v Wade, but this play about two very different women, brought those very real people behind the Supreme Court ruling to life. It was human and poignant and even-handed, even though parts were both strident and political (causing some in the audience to lose their minds). My friend Helen liked it so much she recommended it to some of her friends! 4 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** I am always in awe when I see one of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s “Short Shakespeare!” performances! The very idea that someone can abridge one of Shakespeare’s complicated plots into 75 minutes is mind-boggling. Even more impressive, Director Eli Newell staged a full production with an excellent cast, and definitely didn’t dumb it down! This year’s offering, “Short Shakespeare! Comedy of Errors”, was 75 minutes of pure fun. 4 Spotlights
**** Recommended **** I took my niece Becka Salach Smith and her two little ones, Winston, age 4, and Maeve, age 2, to see "Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures". I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Disney is very, very good at putting an appealing show together, and this was no exception. The kids were thrilled, Becka and I were charmed. 4 Family Spotlights
*** Recommended *** Since I didn’t see “Once on this Island” when it first toured back in 1990, I didn’t know anything about it. In fact, I thought I’d be seeing a happy musical, an island story. “Once on this Island” is musical, but with its dark and not very magical themes, it just didn’t resonate for me. 3 Spotlights
*** Recommended *** “Top Girls” is an unusual play written by British playwright Caryl Churchill. Since I’d seen the play before (a Dunes Summer Theatre production in 2010), I knew where it was going. A word of warning, what with the weird dream sequence in Act I, will be more or less incomprehensible – at least until Act III, when you’ll figure it out. “Top Gun” was written as a reaction to Margaret Thatcher’s election in England, so it has a definite feminist slant. Because it’s ‘non-linear’, Churchill skips through time, which explains why the rest of us end up clueless. 3 Spotlights
The Towle Theater’s annual Season Preview is always a lovely event. It’s a short evening, just about two hours, with a reception (light hors d’oevres and drinks in the lobby) followed by a season sampler, typically a short scene or a single song from each. Two plays and two musicals make up the Towle 2020 season, “Theater with Vision - It’s all in how you look at it”. Managing Director Jeff Casey introduced each play, explaining how and why it was chosen.
*** Recommended *** After a couple of weeks off for the holidays, I look forward to the Young Playwrights Festival which is almost always the first theatrical opening of the year. This is the 33rd year of the annual event sponsored by Pegasus Theatre Chicago. This is a chance to see the future of Chicago theater – maybe the future of American theater. If you go, you’ll see three very different plays written by two outstanding high school students, and a third who graduated and started college in the meantime. I always gain valuable insight about the things on kids’ minds today. 3 Spotlights.