*** Recommended *** I’ve had a hard time writing about Court Theatre’s production of “The Adventures of Augie March”. If you haven’t read Saul Bellow’s 1953 coming-of-age novel about a man-child – and I haven’t – you’ll probably have a hard time with this adaptation. It was difficult to keep track of the forty-some characters played by an ensemble cast of thirteen. I read somewhere that Bellow’s novel meanders through several hundred pages – this stage production meandered through three long acts, coming in at a little over three hours (and two intermissions). 3 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** I was delighted when I read that Teatro Vista was restaging “La Havana Madrid”, this time at the Den Theatre. Sandra Delgado’s well-researched play about La Havana Madrid, a nightclub which was located on the second floor of a building on the corner of Belmont and Sheffield, melds the sounds of mambo and salsa with some of the stories of the people of all ages who frequented the club. “La Havana Madrid” is in my top ten favorite shows of all time! 4 BIG Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** I have to confess, I am a Cub fan, so, of course. I loved “Miracle”. If I were a Sox fan – or a fan of any other major league team - I doubt if I’d be so excited. “Miracle” is the perfect musical for Cub fans of all ages, because the 2016 World Series win meant so much to so many people. I am here to tell all of those fans that for me, watching “Miracle” was like watching the World Series all over again! 4 BIG Spotlights
**** Recommended **** I enjoyed everything about the Goodman Theatre’s production of “The Winter’s Tale”, which is so rarely produced I’d only seen it once before. “The Winter’s Tale” is not one of Shakespeare’s comedies, although it has some rather hilarious comedic elements. On the other hand, it’s not a tragedy, either. This tale of lost children, star-crossed lovers, murder and mayhem might just qualify as a rom-com. 4 Spotlights
**** 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