Post image for Chicago Theater Review: BAKERSFIELD MIST (TimeLine Theatre Company at Stage 773)

THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING AND THE VALUE OF NOTHING Given the amount of sheer transience in 2016, authenticity (as in a lack of fakery) has never seemed more needed–or endangered. Ever seeking to “keep it real,” our quest for bedrock values, genuine feeling and awesome actuality seems a natural reaction to (or, more accurately, against) […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: ROSE (Greenhouse Theater)

ROSE KENNEDY: A PROFILE IN MOTHER COURAGE A catholic confession (in the larger sense), Laurence Leamer’s Rose portrays the matriarch of America’s most political dynasty—a family as cursed as Aeschylus’ House of Atreus—as a tough-loving protector. Over 90 minutes we meet a resilient and formidable lady, enduring but regretting the sacrifices she made for three dead […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Theater Preview: LI’L ABNER (Musical Theatre West in Long Beach)

DIAMOND LI’L Musical Theatre West’s Reiner Reading Series wraps up its amazing season with a musical from smack dab in the middle of Broadway’s golden age. Given the terrific score (music by Gene De Paul, and lyrics by Johnny Mercer) and deliciously satiric book (Norman Panama and Melvin Frank), it’s no surprise that Li’l Abner brought […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: MAME (Light Opera Works)

TAME MAME STILL GETS ACCLAIM Few nicknames carry the impact of “Mame,” the free-spirited super-aunt. Appearing first in gay author Patrick Dennis’s best-selling 1954 novel, she’s become synonymous with bourgeois-baiting artistic license par excellence. What endears this ex-flapper as much as her vicarious outspokenness (“Life is a banquet and most poor sons of bitches are […]

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Post image for Chicago Dance Review: DANCE FOR LIFE 25TH ANNIVERSARY (Chicago Dancers United)

DANCERS DO GOOD BY MAKING ART For a quarter century—since 1991—one summer night of nights in Chicago has raised funds to fight HIV, assist the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and 30 other service organizations, as well as provide for the health emergencies of countless dancers. True to its mission, on Saturday night Dance For Life raised […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: BLOODSHOT (Greenhouse Theater Center)

THEATER NOIR EXPOSES A COLLABORATIVE CRIME WAVE Making its U.S. debut at the Greenhouse Theater Center, the solo saga Bloodshot, by Chicago native Douglas Post, feels as world weary and viscerally violent as its supple title. A superb vehicle for British dynamo Simon Slater that’s been touring the UK and Europe since 2011, the taut […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THE GOOD PERSON OF SZECHWAN (Cor Theatre)

BRECHT FORCES YIN ONTO YANG A strong, often infuriating, truth about the protest plays of Bertolt Brecht is how much the socialist playwright pushes the plot beyond the ending: He ends up accusing the audience of failing to finish the tale. It’s not really over, he cajoles or threatens, until we furnish the future. How […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: MAESTRO: A PLAY WITH MUSIC (The Wallis in Beverly Hills)

BRINGING BERNSTEIN TO LIFE Older spectators will remember Leonard Bernstein not just as a conductor, composer, and pianist, but as one of the most vivid personalities and astonishingly effective communicators in the history of American classical music. His life may have ended on notes of regret and frustration, but he was a one-of-a-kind phenomenon, and […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THE JACKIE WILSON STORY (Black Ensemble Theater)

HIS HEART IS CRYING, CRYING The latest rouser in Black Ensemble Theater’s 40th anniversary celebration/season, The Jackie Wilson Story, a retrospective on an R&B Legend, showcases terrific talent. It also revives a 2000 hit that went on to a 2002 national tour, culminating in a record run at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. The blast from the […]

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Post image for Tour Review: THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (Shakespeare’s Globe)

THE GLOBE’S STUNNING PRODUCTION HIGHLIGHTS SHAKESPEARE’S PLEA FOR DIGNITY AS MUCH AS MERCY A decade ago a Chicago critic notoriously concluded his review of The Merchant of Venice by offering a rather perverse take on Shakespeare’s supposedly anti-Semitic play. In a case of devil’s advocacy he argued that Shylock’s punishment (for trying to cancel a debt by killing […]

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