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Posted inArts & Culture

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

There’s one mistake in American Theater Company’s elegant, playful, deeply moving production. Playwright Joe Landry cleverly adapts Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film as a period radio broadcast complete with sponsor plugs, incidental musical accompaniment, and live sound effects. Director Marty Higginbotham’s cast strikes just the right balance between self-conscious hokeyness and heartfelt sentiment. And without […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Plaid Tidings

Writer-director Stuart Ross, creator of the phenomenally successful 1990 musical Forever Plaid, claims that he wrote this holiday-show sequel as a response to 9/11. Riiiight. Well, I suppose a sequel was inevitable. What’s remarkable is that Ross hasn’t lowered his standards. This show, like the earlier one, is pitched at a middle-class, middlebrow, late-late-middle-aged audience–the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Iron & Wine and Calexico

In the Reins (Overcoat), a collaboration between Iron & Wine and Calexico, is the poppiest effort either act’s released. Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam, who sings in a dawn-breaks coo, sounds emboldened by Calexico’s presence, and he almost breaks into a croon on “Red Dust,” a song that might just kick off a new genre: […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Get Real

Illinois doesn’t directly fund sex ed in schools. But it does provide almost the entire budget of the Glenview-based Project Reality, whose abstinence-only curriculum, offered to schools for free, misleads kids about birth control and STDs.

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Story On November 14 the subject of “Midlands Most Wanted,” a weekly feature in the State (Columbia, South Carolina) providing information on fugitives sought by local authorities, was Rodney Dane Higginbotham, 40, wanted for criminal domestic violence: “Police said Higginbotham argued with his wife because she had not cooked anything. When she began cooking, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Second City’s Dysfunctional Holiday Revue

A six-person ensemble provides timely, belly-shaking laughs using both improvised material and bits from Second City’s archives. Festive sketches and songs cover tedious newsletters, romantic expectations of the holidays, an endless road trip to grandma’s, and a Ghost of Christmas Present with a liberal agenda. Musical director Stephanie McCullough’s tickling of the ivories is like […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Judy’s Scary Little Christmas

This peculiar musical by James Webber, David Church, and Joe Patrick Ward creates a kind of celebrity purgatory where Judy Garland hosts a Christmas special featuring other dead people, including Liberace, Joan Crawford, Lillian Hellman, and Richard Nixon. We’re not told this little variety hour is being transmitted from the great beyond, however, until after […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

I’m a 23-year-old straight male. Due to a rare autoimmune attack three years ago I’m indefinitely confined to a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. I was never sexually active before the attack, and now I’m left to face my sexual future from a significantly altered perspective. The important thing to remember is that I […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Salt in a Wound

In the program notes for this show, playwright Melissa Maxwell writes that she’s paying tribute to a misunderstood aunt who had a great influence on her. But here the tale of Julia’s joys and hardships is unsatisfying, too abrupt and episodic to make for good theater. As a stifled daughter and a stern mother, Makeba […]