Posted inTheater Review

Cooking With Soul

Near the end of Black Ensemble Theater’s (BET) superb new revue A Taste of Soul, co-emcee Qiana McNary mentions that the show’s creators hope to leave the audience both “full and hungry at the same time.” The show’s central framing device—a television cooking program veering into musical numbers, concurrently leading the audience through the history […]

Posted inTheater Review

Emotional landmines on the campaign trail

Obama campaign operatives stationed in East Cleveland at the height of the 2008 presidential run felt like they were at the center of the political world. An idealistic—and existentially lost—Black gay man’s entrance into this volatile world forms the center of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s production of Aurin Squire’s Obama-ology, which entertainingly depicts what an emotional minefield […]

Posted inTheater Review

Showfolk follies

I’m generally not a huge fan of material wherein creative folk in any discipline—theater, film, publishing, music—turn to their own profession for inspiration. If a movie is about filmmaking, or a novel is about a tortured novelist, or a singer crows about how hard life is on the road, I check out pretty quickly. So […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Albert Herring balances indie aesthetic with traditional music

Benjamin Britten’s 1947 opera Albert Herring (set in 1900) has been a perennial production for Chicago Opera Theater. But the new mounting opening tonight at the Athenaeum, helmed by director Stephen Sposito, promises to infuse Britten’s story with what the company is calling an “indie-film vibe.” Sposito—who was associate director for The Book of Mormon, […]

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Southern secrets and lies

Sarah Sapperstein’s Maggie the Cat commands your attention with her act one monologues in MadKap Productions’s mounting of Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Skokie Theatre, directed by Steve Scott. Sapperstein’s costars take her energy and roll with it for the entirety of this show, in which a southern family unravels (and […]

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Great character work helps Boeing-Boeing take off at Saint Sebastian Players

In Boeing-Boeing, the 1960 French sex comedy by Marc Camoletti (translated by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans) that’s now being mounted by Saint Sebastian Players, protagonist Bernard (Garrett Wiegel), an expat American in Paris, is juggling three different “fiancees.” He explains to friend Robert (Joshua Paul Wright), who is visiting from Wisconsin, the one central […]

Posted inTheater Review

Unearthing raw passions

Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a rural Illinois family beset by delusion and dysfunction is brilliantly brought to life by AstonRep Theatre Company.   Alcoholic patriarch Dodge (Jim Morley, who brought to mind Richard Widmark in a stellar performance) is permanently ensconced on the living room couch yelling to his wife, Halie (Liz Cloud). Few […]

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Medieval love triangle, modernized

Music Theater Works (MTW) ambitiously takes on some of the problems with Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s formless and dated book, keeping our focus on Arthur (Michael Metcalf), Guenevere (Christine Mayland Perkins), and Lancelot’s (Nathe Rowbotham) love triangle. In her program notes, director Brianna Borger explains, “Our Camelot envisions a troupe of revelers outside […]

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On a clear day you can clone forever

Dr. Barbra Joan Frankenstreisand (Tyler Anthony Smith)—that ultimate hyphenate: superstar-mad scientist—has commandeered the stage at the Raven Room at Redline VR bar for what she calls a “clone-cert” to duplicate her beloved and very dead pooch.  Few theater companies understand characters toeing the line between stardom and monstrousness like Hell in a Handbag Productions. Frankenstreisand, […]