Post image for Theater Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS – LIVE FROM BROADWAY (North American Tour)

MATURE MAGIC No spells get cast here, no phantoms materialize. There are no mystical suspension of the laws of physics, just our disbelief. Now in a too-short stop at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre, the national tour of The Illusionists is an awe-striking evening of artful dodging (notice it’s not titled “The Magicians”). This kleptomaniacal bonanza comes rich with the […]


Post image for Theater Review: FINDING NEVERLAND (National Tour at the Hollywood Pantages)

NEVERLAND MORE LOST THAN FOUND Playwright Alan Knee called Sir J. M. Barrie “the man who was Peter Pan.” If so, it was an author’s compensation as much as creativity. James Barrie was a shy Scotsman, awkward and diffident in public with an extroverted artistry to compensate for self-effacing insecurity. In the 2004 tearjerker motion picture […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: UNCLE VANYA (Goodman)

SINKING INTO THE STEPPES Running invisible endurance feats, the characters of Anton Chekhov expose what Henry David Thoreau called “lives of quiet desperation.” When the good doctor’s creations, compassionately but uncompromisingly presented, break loose from boredom and emotional paralysis, it’s only to crash into unrequited love. Like T.S. Eliot’s forlorn J. Alfred Prufrock, they measure […]

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Post image for San Diego Theater Review: PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE (The Old Globe)

THEATER’S BLUE PERIOD Steve Martin wrote Picasso at the Lapin Agile in 1993. The offbeat meta-theatrical play opened at Chicago’s Steppenwolf, went to Los Angeles’s Westwood (now Geffen) Playhouse, and ended up in New York for a relatively successful run at Off-Broadway’s Promenade Theatre. The story (well, not “story” really; it’s more of an idea) concerns two […]


Post image for CD Review: THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM (2016 Off-Broadway Cast on Ghostlight Records)

A SCALED-DOWN ROBBER BRIDEGROOM STEALS YOUR HEART ON CD It will always remain one of the great unsolved mysteries in Broadway history. Composer Robert Waldman and librettist and lyricist Alfred Uhry took Eudora Welty’s 1942 novella, “The Robber Bridegroom”, and turned it into a musical that Clive Barnes called “a sort of country and western fairy […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: MY BROTHERS KEEPER—THE STORY OF THE NICHOLAS BROTHERS (Black Ensemble Theater)

THIS BROTHERS IS A KEEPER This winner really is a blast from the past. Celebrating America’s most explosive and enthralling tap-dancing team, My Brother’s Keeper—The Story of the Nicholas Brothers is Black Ensemble Theater’s latest reclamation jamboree, a loving tribute to two brothers who made it big and kept it fun. It’s also a tour de […]


Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: 33 VARIATIONS (Actors Co-op in Hollywood)

MORE THAN JUST VARIATIONS ON A THEME “Why did the great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven write 33 variations on a trivial little waltz by a mediocre amateur composer?” On the surface, the question itself may seem trivial, but playwright Moisés Kaufman expands the mystery of the 33 variations into a drama that makes us […]


Post image for Los Angeles Opera Review: THE ELIXIR OF LOVE (Pacific Opera Project at The Highland Park Ebell Club)

ELIXIRICIOUS At first it seemed as though a tragic circumstance had befallen Pacific Opera Project’s production of The Elixir of Love last night. One hour before the show, at the height of a heavy storm, a transformer blew in front of the Highland Park Ebell Club; there would definitely be no electricity for the show. A stroke of […]


Post image for Chicago Theater Review: A WONDER IN MY SOUL (Victory Gardens Biograph Theater)

A SOUTH SIDE WEAVE The setting is a beloved beauty parlor on Chicago’s South Side. It’s seen better times and may soon see none. Hanging over the storefront is a gallery of famous female African-American singers and pioneers from Rosa Parks to Beyoncé. Instantly we’re more at home than at shop. Playwright Marcus Gardley (The […]


Post image for Regional Theater Review: FLORA & ULYSSES (South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa)

SUPER SQUIRREL Flora & Ulysses, the best play I’ve seen all year, begins when Flora Buckman, a ten-year-old self-proclaimed ­“natural-born cynic”, saves the life of a squirrel using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. You see, the squirrel had been sucked into a neighbor’s Ulys­ses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X vacuum cleaner. When the squirrel is revived, it has been blessed with both human thought […]