Posted inTheater Review

Rent pays off

After thoroughly enjoying the shameless perversity of Kokandy Productions’s Cruel Intentions, under Adrian Abel Azevedo’s direction, I found Azevedo’s Rent at Porchlight to bring a stark, often heart-wrenching dose of relevance to his now-known talent for embodying nostalgia. Musicals can be tough when you have the cast recording memorized, but this production of the late […]

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Catch the Clue bus

The game Clue taught me what “confidential” means, that a conservatory is just a fancy greenhouse, and that Miss Scarlett is always the right choice. Any armchair detective that could identify those little toy weapons in the dark with their eyes closed will enjoy this new stage adaptation of the 1985 movie based on the […]

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An ‘exciting and subversive” Richard III

In partnership with the University of Illinois Chicago’s Disability Cultural Center, Babes With Blades’s interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays is exciting and subversive. From overt to subtle, disturbing to laughable, the production empowers a cast of female and nonbinary actors, some with disabilities seen and unseen, to portray the breadth of human experience […]

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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 […]

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Al fresco dreams

On its ten-year anniversary and return from a COVID-19 hiatus, Midsommer Flight is restaging A Midsummer Night’s Dream,the play that started it all in 2012. On the night I attended, the crowd, close to 100 people by my estimation and incredibly engaged, was compelling proof that free summer Shakespeare continues to bring communities together around […]

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Shameless nostalgia

We all remember where we were when we saw Cruel Intentions. Its iconic soundtrack (anyone else melt to Counting Crows’ “Colorblind”?) and “shameless perversity” (thank you, Buzzfeed, for this spot-on description) have become canon in many a millennial’s coming of age and sexual maturity. Directed by Adrian Abel Azevedo, Kokandy Productions’s Chicago storefront premiere of […]

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Sex education

The Chicago production of off-Broadway’s longest running comedy is a fun, interactive night out with some surprisingly touching, and even useful, takeaways. The 75-minute show is based on a 1997 book of the same title (by Dan Anderson and Maggie Berman), which the program reminds us was ahead of its time—before Will & Grace, Sex […]

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Royal fun

Theo Ubique’s take on this classic musical parody of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea,” directed by local musical comedy pro Landree Fleming, is smart, sweet, and slickly produced. And mounting a show that prods at traditional gender roles with a first-rate, gender-blind cast results in a multilayered artistic experience that makes this […]

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Spiritual healing

Black Ensemble Theater’s first play back since the pandemic, an original from founder Jackie Taylor (she wrote, produced, directed, and choreographed), is exactly what the title states—an out-of-body, communal experience that creates the physical “togetherness” we’ve missed for so long. It’s an energizing and participatory homage to the Black church experience, which as the cast […]

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Together again at Filament

Pronoia: the belief that the universe is conspiring in your favor. After two years away, Filament Theatre is back with an original production that brings this hopeful and expansive feeling to its audience in delightful and authentic ways. While the 60-minute Gather was written by Julia Lederer and Julie Ritchey (directed by Ritchey), the play […]

Posted inBest of Chicago

Best trajectory from ‘delightful child’ to survivalist soccer player

Sophie Thatcher Monica Vitti. Peter Ivers. Béatrice Dalle. Esoteric influences the impossibly cool Sophie Thatcher pays tribute to on her impossibly cool Instagram account, which all have me running for Wikipedia to keep up. After her breakout turn on Showtime’s Yellowjackets, this 21-year-old product of the Chicago theater scene has literally become her generation’s Juliette […]

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Singing for the roses

For the longtime home of Million Dollar Quartet to have transitioned to the site of a rotating slate of parody musicals could be cringe-inducing, if not for their impressively consistent quality and ability to draw sizable audiences. It’s a feat that’s all the more notable with Omicron’s rise (and hopeful fall?) emptying chairs at live […]

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Hothouse Shakespeare

Midsommer Flight’s production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is back at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, this time with an immersive “choose-your-own-path” twist. It’s an exciting concept that could use some workshopping given the uniqueness of the greenhouse space and the inherent challenges already present in performing Shakespeare in a way that’s relatable and easy to follow […]