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John Loves Mary

A WWII soldier’s engagement is complicated by his decision to marry his best friend’s lover to give her U.S. citizenship. Like the movies for which Norman Krasna is better known–he wrote White Christmas–his well-structured 1947 farce is still funny and has considerable nostalgic appeal. Unfortunately, most of the wit is buried here under awkward, ill-timed […]

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Sherlock’s Last Case

Holmes/Watson fanatics may find Charles Marowitz’s dark parody a shallow misrepresentation of the detective duo’s relationship–and not quite humorous enough to justify the liberties taken. Others, though, might enjoy this suspenseful story about a bitter second banana’s plot to destroy his smug, condescending, maddeningly brilliant superior. The plot has enough twists to engage mystery buffs […]

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Beyond Therapy

What Christopher Durang calls his “sunniest” play (relatively speaking, of course–on his brightest day he’s 20 shades darker than Neil Simon) confirms that therapists are crazier than anyone. Prudence and Bruce, brought together by a personal ad, negotiate their relationship with, or despite, the help of batty shrinks. Though Durang’s absurd conversation (“I don’t think […]

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Girls’ Night Out

Director Dina Facklis and a smart Second City Theatricals ensemble have spared audiences yet another night of done-to-death stories about dating traumas and men’s foibles. Instead four women and Joe Canale–someone has to move furniture–show how a sassy gay friend might have changed the lives of Shakespeare’s ingenues, including Juliet: “You’re 14! Look at your […]

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The Mikado (Version 2.005)

Sex, cheek, and contemporary pop culture turbocharge Noble Fool Theatricals’ cleverly designed update of the Gilbert and Sullivan standby, directed by Amy Binns-Calvey. The gentlemen of Japan shed their kimonos, for example, in favor of pinstripes, cell phones, subways, and sushi bars, where they ogle porn and Little Maids in SailorMoon anime schoolgirl outfits. The […]

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The Taming of the Shrew

First Folio Shakespeare Festival sets its outdoor production in an 1890s Colorado mining town. While I have to confess that the silly “Wild West Shrew” concept bugs me, the company deserves credit for maximizing the setting’s comic potential. There are some rewardingly goofy antics with a stuffed squirrel and some rich supporting characters, especially Ronald […]

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Put the Nuns in Charge

Attention, Late Nite Catechism fans: Sister’s back with a vengeance. Patricia Musker (alternating with Lynda Shadrake) brings her chop-busting A game to this spin-off of the long-running homage to old-school nunnery. Good material abounds in Sister’s Golden Rule seminar, in which she scrutinizes cell phone yakking and modern assholiness (woe betide anyone showing up five […]

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Tintypes

This 1980 pastiche of period vaudeville routines, popular songs, and excerpts from speeches provides an entertaining history lesson on America between the Civil War and the Roaring 20s. Five characters represent the era’s archetypes: three are based on historical figures Teddy Roosevelt, socialist Emma Goldman, and Ziegfeld Follies star Anna Held while two are more […]

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Forever Plaid

You have to really dig Perry Como-era crooning to enjoy this revue by a fictitious guy group whose members return from the great beyond for a one-night comeback. Playing the Plaids, Shawn A. Bechtol, Jonathan A. Landvick, John B. Leen, and David Tibble sport beautiful individual voices, but imbalances between them and problems with pitch […]

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Giggle, Giggle, Quack

The mischievous menagerie from Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type are back, this time with plans to dupe their gullible caretaker, a city-boy accountant, when Farmer Brown goes on vacation. While he’s away the cow, chicken, pig, and duck play–and eat pizza (not the frozen kind). Way more intelligent than your average children’s fare, adapter […]

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Lost in Yonkers

Neil Simon’s Pulitzer-winning 1991 comedy-drama, set in the 1940s, revolves around two precocious teenage boys whose father sends them to live with his battle-ax mother and neurotic, bitter, or impaired siblings while he takes a traveling sales job. Though director Catherine Davis and her able cast deliver Simon’s trademark quips and shtick with great timing […]

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Romeo and Juliet

If you think you got everything out of this love story from high school or college readings and the Zeffirelli film, think again. Director Mark Lamos and his cast find new twists in Shakespeare’s famous words and familiar family dynamics, giving this production a contemporary sensibility despite its period setting. Lamos presents the Capulets and […]

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In a program note, director Matthew Reeder suggests we shouldn’t dissect Shakespeare’s comedy–and this gorgeous production encourages us to simply experience it. The elegant art deco set and costumes (by Matt Morton and Vicki J. Strei respectively) are done in clean lines of black, silver, and white. Richly colored tarps unfurl from lighted columns to […]