Posted inTheater Review

Hair metal hijinks

The Mercury Theater production of this five-time Tony-nominated musical re-creates the 80s with such abandon that the audience’s fervor was palpable (and loud) on the night I attended. Tommy Novak’s staging of Rock of Ages creates a fun environment where musical theater mainstays intermingle with fresh standouts on the local scene. Reminiscent of the Emcee […]

Posted inTheater Review

Unleashed moms

Mother’s Day weekend provided the perfect time to open this irreverent, boisterous look at three women’s journey from two blue lines on a pee stick to graduation day. Running at Mercury Theater Chicago’s Venus Cabaret, the musical by Julie Dunlap and Sara Stotts features first-time mom Rachel (Tafadzwa Diener), second-time mom Angie (Jacquelyne Jones), and […]

Posted inTheater Review

Timely Twain

The dramaturgy displays alone for Mercury Theater Chicago’s Big River, based on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, taught me more about Mark Twain’s 1830s-set, biting antislavery novel than I learned from studying the book in junior high, high school, undergrad, and grad school combined. First off, the musical (music and lyrics by Roger Miller, book by […]

Posted inTheater Review

Here he is, baby

Artists Lounge Live, started by the husband-and-wife team of Michael and Angela Ingersoll, specializes in presenting tribute shows to various musical legends. (Michael Ingersoll was in the original tour of the Four Seasons-inspired bio-musical Jersey Boys, and Angela has played Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow.) Now they’ve brought in John-Mark McGaha, an Alabama-born […]

Posted inTheater Review

A heartbreaking Lady Day

Alexis J. Roston’s sixth go-round playing jazz legend Billie Holiday in the last year of her life is beautifully layered, heartbreaking, and still affirming of the great vocalist’s accomplishments, against a multitude of odds. After a decade on and off in the role, Roston is now a codirector in Mercury Theater’s production of the Lanie […]

Posted inTheater Review

Not so golden

The hardest working queen in showbiz? That’d be Ginger Minj (fight me). After three stints on RuPaul’s Drag Race (season seven, All Stars 2, and All Stars 6), the breakout star and two-time RDR finalist has kept busy with countless live shows, small screen hits, a trio of studio albums that showcase her Broadway-worthy belt […]

Posted inTheater Review

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 […]

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

Soul sisters

If you’re looking for respite from the slush-bound, gawdawful doldrums of February (and who isn’t?), Mercury Theater Chicago offers a scorching-good respite in Women of Soul. Rebooting the show they debuted in 2018 at Black Ensemble Theater, writer/director Daryl D. Brooks and musical director Robert Reddrick don’t shy away from taking on the tunes that […]

Posted inPerforming Arts Feature

Welcome to Venus

Back in December, there was a shining sliver of time when it looked like we—as individuals, as artists, as arts institutions—were forging a clear, or at least clear-ish, path forward.  Hundreds of people were back at work on live, in-person shows. A Christmas Carol burned bright at the Goodman. The Snow Queen got a shiny […]