Posted inTheater Review

Paramount’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory adds a touch of bitter to the sweet

Whether you’re waiting anxiously to see Timothée Chalamet in Wonka (the musical prequel to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), or are rolling your eyes in anticipatory disgust (look, after the 2005 Johnny Depp cinematic debacle, I don’t blame you for being anxious!), Paramount Theatre’s current staging of the 2013 musical Charlie and the […]

Posted inTheater Review

Camp carnage

Several years before they struck Disney gold with Beauty and the Beast, the musical team of composer Alan Menken and book writer and lyricist Howard Ashman stuck their toes into campy cult waters with 1982’s Little Shop of Horrors, adapted from Roger Corman’s 1960 film The Little Shop of Horrors. The film is famous, among […]

Posted inTheater Review

Seeing the forest and the trees

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical Into the Woods premiered three years before Robert Bly’s Iron John sent men into the wilderness as part of the “mythopoetic men’s movement,” complete with sweat lodges, drum circles, chanting, and other rituals designed to restore a pre-industrialization notion of masculinity, combined with Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” narratives. The […]

Posted inTheater Review

Bullish on Bull

This is a play of tiny moments and small details, a play in which characters change slowly, the way people and seasons change—silently, imperceptibly at first and then with the sudden, savage swiftness of leaves tumbling from the trees that takes your breath away. This is a play that needs your full presence as a […]

Posted inTheater Review

Flawlessly in tune

Originally conceived in the mid-70s as a vehicle for Nell Carter but opening on Broadway in 1981 with Jennifer Holliday in the role that might have been Carter’s (if Carter’s Hollywood career had not blown up), Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger’s musical about the rise of an African American girl group the Dreams (modeled on […]

Posted inTheater Review

The Bechdels, tested

Alison Bechdel’s family, captured first in her 2006 graphic memoir Fun Home and then in a Tony Award-winning 2015 chamber musical (music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron), feels right at (uneasy) home on the intimate Copley Theatre stage in downtown Aurora. Presented as part of Paramount’s “Bold” series of seemingly more […]

Posted inTheater Review

Puppet revelations

Puppets are cool, but they are also creepy. Very creepy. Even the cute ones, like Kermit the Frog or Ollie the Dragon. There is just something deeply unnerving about how puppets seem like autonomous beings, even when their puppeteers are right there on stage with them. I think there is something deep and primal in […]

Posted inGhost Light

Lynn Nottage makes it work

If you’re up for journeys to the suburbs this weekend, it’s possible to see two plays by Lynn Nottage; Sweat, which earned Nottage her second Pulitzer Prize in 2017, is closing Sunday in Aurora at Paramount Theatre’s new Copley black-box space. (Reader contributor Catey Sullivan called the production, directed by Andrea J. Dymond, “gripping” and […]

Posted inTheater Review

Sweat, tears, and blood

Lynn Nottage’s gripping drama Sweat launches a new direction for Aurora’s Paramount Theater, a 1,000-plus seat, 87-year-old Versailles-on-acid space known for award-winning musicals. Directed by Andrea J. Dymond, Sweat is the first production in the new Copley Theatre, a minimalist steel-and-glass black box across the street from the larger venue. Dymond’s airtight ensemble makes the […]

Posted inTheater Review

Déjà vu all over again

What musical could possibly capture our collective pandemic ennui? Perhaps a story about reliving the same gray day without surcease, surrounded by the same irritating people, with all your best intentions of self-improvement adding up to naught? BING! Welcome to Groundhog Day: The Musical.  Based on the 1993 Harold Ramis film, this 2017 show (book […]