Post image for Theater Review: THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL (Pre-Broadway World Premiere, Oriental Theatre in Chicago)

BIKINI BOTTOM HITS THE HEIGHTS Upfront confession: I’ve never seen Nickelodeon’s 17-year-old SpongeBob SquarePants animation series. But my ignorance of this aquatic Sesame Street and its fishy fantasies (happily enlightened by two knowledgeable theater companions) actually helps to objectively judge the self-sustaining entertainment value of The SpongeBob Musical. Can this confection, now in a pre-Broadway […]


“IT SHALL GO HARD BUT I WILL BETTER THE INSTRUCTION” Deep into the world premiere of Aaron Posner’s variation on The Merchant of Venice last Saturday, Shylock pointed at me from the stage and demanded my name. I said, “Rohrer.” Shylock spent 30 seconds heaping calumny upon the name of Rohrer: “Dirty Rohrer, stupid Rohrer, […]


Post image for Chicago Theater Review: AN ANTHONY NEWLEY AND LESLIE BRICUSSE SONGBOOK (Theo Ubique)

THE CANDY COUPLE “The world belongs to the fools who dare to dream”: Reprising the crowd pleasure of music-hall euphoria and pantomime cut-ups with a charming quintet of Cockney buskers, An Anthony Newley – Leslie Bricusse Songbook is an endearing 80-minute confection from Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre. It turns No Exit Café, a music mecca […]


Post image for Chicago Theater Review: MAKE ME A SONG (Eclectic Full Contact Theatre)

OUT OF CONTEXT BUT EASY TO ADMIRE William Finn, a gay songwriter with wit and warmth (and second only to Sondheim), writes story ballads and situational numbers that teach as much as touch. Like two of their titles, they’re all about “Change” and “Heart and Music.” In his Tony-winning Falsettos (a merging of his March of […]

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Post image for Off-Broadway Theater Review: RADIANT VERMIN (59E59 Theaters)

RADIANT THEATER In Philip Ridley’s brilliant black satire Radiant Vermin, a seemingly nice, average twenty-something couple with an infant, tells us of the horrible things they did to get their dream home, confident that once we’ve heard the whole story we’ll “understand,” as everything they did, they did “for baby.” Jill (Scarlett Alice Johnson) and […]


Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THADDEUS AND SLOCUM: A VAUDEVILLE ADVENTURE (Lookingglass Theatre)

CORKING UP OR SELLING OUT? Living up to its title billing, Lookingglass Theatre Company’s world premiere Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure is a rampage down Memory Lane. Their 135-minute blast from the past evokes the glory days of broad burlesque and novelty acts, as well as literally darker doings. A guilty pleasure and an […]


Post image for Chicago Theater Review: TAPPED: A TREASONOUS MUSICAL COMEDY (Forth Story Productions at Theater Wit)

SO BEYOND BAD THAT YOU’LL BE TAPPED OUT Half-baked, heavy-handed, overlong, poorly plotted, wretchedly sung, scenically sterile, contrived and clichéd, witless and mindless, and minus any production value(s), Tapped: A Treasonous Musical Comedy is not a good night at the theater. I’d say it should not be reviewed—but that might mean it could be seen–by […]


Post image for Film Review: THERAPY FOR A VAMPIRE (directed by David Ruehm)

A GREAT SESSION, BUT THERAPY SHOULD CONTINUE “So, what brings you here?” asks the Professor of his newest patient, in David Ruehm’s Therapy for a Vampire, a stylized romantic comedy fairy tale set in 1932 Vienna. “I’m not good at self-reflection,” replies Count Geza von Kozsnom (a mesmerizing Tobias Moretti). “I feel old and tired. […]


Post image for Theater Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC (National Tour)

EV’RY MOUNTAIN GETS CLIMBED AGAIN It’s fitting that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s final collaboration is a tribute to the art and craft they served so well—music and singing. Like Mary Poppins, convent girl Maria Rainer is a very nice nanny (minus umbrella) who teaches by example and uses play to build courage and confidence. Fraulein Rainer […]


Post image for Off-Broadway Theater Review: CONFUSIONS (59E59Theaters)

A BRILLIANT TRIFLE Watching members of the Stephen Joseph Theatre perform Alan Ayckbourn’s Confusions under the playwright’s helmsmanship, I found myself mentally comparing the troupe to a team of Navy SEALs executing a mission with impeccable timing and precision. Performances are deft and subtle, with all five players demonstrating impressive range as each portrays a […]