Posted inTheater Review

Missing some beats

Taken alone, political thrillers and farce can be tricky beasts to pull off. Put them together and you really have to have everything honed to the sharpest point possible for the laughs to land without completely diluting the dramatic tension. The 39 Steps already has a convoluted history. Patrick Barlow’s 2005 parody was adapted from […]

Posted inTheater Review

Still the word

There have been many versions of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s Grease: the raunchy one that premiered at Kingston Mines in 1971; a much cleaned-up version that opened a year later in New York; the star-heavy 1978 movie (which, among other abominations, takes a Chicago girl named Dumbrowski and gives her an Aussie accent). And […]

Posted inTheater Review

Elf off the shelf

Like much that passes for entertainment during the holiday season, this 2010 musical, based on the 2003 movie, lives on the infinitely thin line between charm and utter stupidity. The characters are all derived from earlier entertainments and holiday advertising—jolly old Santa Claus, his myriad elf slaves, the sweet naif who believes in “the spirit […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Beyond the mustache

Larry Yando has been a prominent presence on stages in Chicago and beyond for many years, including as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Goodman’s annual production of A Christmas Carol (this year marks his 15th outing). He plays Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express at Drury Lane Theatre through October 23. (Read […]

Posted inTheater Review

Mystery train

It is 2022 still, so . . . a nostalgic romp through a bygone era with a whodunit twist? Bring it!  Ken Ludwig transformed Agatha Christie’s novel into a riveting stage text. This timeless mystery is an examination of the limits of a justice system, which may account for its eternal appeal. I will say […]

Posted inTheater Review

Pleasant posies

My daughter tells me she likes the 1989 movie version of Steel Magnolias because you can have it running in the background while you do other things, and still more or less follow the plot. The 1987 play the movie is based on has the same virtue. You don’t really have to use all your […]

Posted inTheater Review

A warhorse, reconsidered

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s 1951 musical The King and I, based on Margaret Landon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam, is one of the warhorses of musical theater. The original run was three years (1,246 performances), and it has been revived with a mind-numbing regularity since, produced seemingly by every professional and […]

Posted inTheater Review

A fresh Evita

Marcia Milgrom Dodge demonstrates in Drury Lane’s Evita what great casting in 2022 looks like. The director and choreographer gathered a cast diverse in race, age, and body type, creating what feels like an authentic picture of Argentina from 1934 to 1952. There is no color line among the military, upper-class, or poor. Her diverse […]