Posted inArts & Culture

Remembering Myrna Salazar 1947-2022

Next month, the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance will present the fifth annual Destinos Chicago International Theater Festival. But it will be bittersweet; the woman most responsible for making the festival a reality, CLATA cofounder and executive director Myrna Salazar, won’t be there to see it. Salazar died on Wednesday, August 3, two weeks after celebrating […]

Posted inTheater Review

A musical class clown at 20

In the 20 years since Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis’s gently irreverent and thoroughly catchy musical premiered, it’s become such a beloved staple among professional and amateur companies that it’s easy to forget about the odd footing upon which the show stumbled onto the Broadway stage. Originally scheduled to debut September 13, 2001, the vaudevillian, […]

Posted inTheater Review

Galaxy cats

Nerds of many stripes will feel at home entering the magical portal that is Otherworld Theatre, a Wrigleyville-based theater company that specializes in science fiction and fantasy. Fancy a butterbeer before the show? A cozy reading nook inside the TARDIS? Eclectic lobby decor ranging from classic sci-fi book covers to modern fantasy artists? This theater […]

Posted inTheater Review

Great Altercations needs alterations

There are half a dozen exceptionally talented individuals in the new Second City e.t.c. revue, Great Altercations. But that turns out to be a problem: they remain individuals rather than forming an ensemble. Nor is this inability to cohere merely a lack of performance rhythm: as the creation of sketch comedy requires collaboration during improvisation, […]

Posted inBook Review

The extraordinary tragedy of daily life

Wolfgang Amadeus Aleksandr “Aleks” Fa has a lot of baggage. The protagonist of Joe Meno’s new novel Book of Extraordinary Tragedies has that name, after all—which also serves as a clue about what burdens the young man.  Born into a perfectionist but impoverished Bosnian/Croat/Polish family in Evergreen Park on the border with Chicago’s south side, […]

Posted inTheater Review

‘And then I laughed’

At one point in Theatre Y’s ambulatory Laughing Song: A Walking Dream, Marvin Tate as George W. Johnson (the first Black American recording artist) is asked by a reporter at a press conference, “Is your laugh real, or is it fake?” It’s a reasonable question—but by the end of this four-hour show, which weaves together […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Fast times at North Shore Magnet High

Journalist, playwright, screenwriter, theater critic, arts editor, and novelist Adam Langer was born in Chicago, grew up in West Rogers Park, went to school in Evanston, and spent the early part of his career here writing and editing for various Chicago publications, including the Reader, Inside Chicago, Book Magazine, and the alternative music magazine Subnation. […]

Posted inGhost Light

Mudlark expands its community outreach

The last time I checked in with Evanston’s youth-oriented Mudlark Theater in April 2020, they were in the midst of pivoting to online workshops and creating digital shows. The company has returned to live classes and performances since then. And now, with the help of two grants, they’re poised to further expand their focus on […]

Posted inTheater Review

The Mamalogues offers real talk with a comic edge

Late in Evanston’s Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s production of The Mamalogues, one character asks, “If I am my ancestors’ wildest dream, why am I still living out their worst nightmares?” The Mamalogues is a 90-minute comedy that deftly tackles that question, as three professionally successful Black women gather for a meeting of the BBSM, or “Bougie Black […]

Posted inTheater Review

Queens of the road

In 1994, an Australian road comedy about three drag artists heading off in a beat-up tour bus across the Outback felt like a breath of fresh air in a cinematic landscape that tended to focus stories with “gay themes” on the tragedy of AIDS, and that still tended to view being trans as a punch […]

Posted inTheater Review

Mind games

More than 30 years into his second act as a mind reader and psychic performer, Ross Johnson, a former schoolteacher, is still eliciting gasps. The second performer at Rogers Park’s new Rhapsody Theater—formerly the Mayne Stage—the 77-year-old is like Mister Rogers meets Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling in his interactive one-man show. It’s hard to shock […]