Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (Music Theater Works in Evanston)

A SERMON IN FLESH WOW spelled backwards! In almost forty seasons it’s their biggest show, with full orchestra and a cast of over 40, including a seated choir. It sprawls with spectacle but it’s also tight as  a stark story requires. Music Theater Work’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame — a “medieval” musical spun from the 1996 Disney […]

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Post image for Theater Review: ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Red Tape Theatre and Greenhouse Theatre)

ALL QUIET MAKES A BIG NOISE One of the saddest truths about humanity is that we always need to be warned against war, so tempting is its license to kill. All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, was not, alas, the anti-war novel to end all anti-war novels. It arrived half-way between […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: ALL THAT HE WAS (Pride Films and Plays)

MEMORIES IN MUSIC FORGE A GREATER WHOLE We’re witnesses to an aftermath and its collateral healing, the unsought legacy of a gay guy who died too soon: Newly revised after its 1993 inception and directed by bookwriter/lyricist Larry Todd Cousineau, All That He Was (with music by Cindy O’Connor) is a beautifully structured and powerfully performed valedictory. […]

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Post image for Theater Review: SHREK (3-D Theatricals in Cerritos)

SHREK IS A SHRUG OF A MUSICAL; BUT THIS PRODUCTION IS SURE AND SHARP Shrek The Musical is a mystifying experience. The whole thing is rather inane, versus the sophisticated silliness of Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The first time I saw the show was the final performance of the National […]

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Post image for Theater Review: BOOGIEBAN (Chicago Dramatists and 13th Street Repertory Theatre in New York)

COLLATERAL HEALING It’s a justified transfer. A very enterprising theater called none too fragile from Akron, Ohio has come to Chicago (and later to New York City) to offer a pretty powerful play. Presented at Chicago Dramatists in the West Loop, it’s a world-premiere production of a one-act about the hard healing that comes after […]

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Post image for Review: ALL SHOOK UP (San Diego Musical Theatre)

A HUNK-A HUNK-A BURNING FUN On the heels of Cygnet’s Rock of Ages, in which every tune is an 80s hit, comes San Diego Musical Theatre’s staging of All Shook Up, in which every musical moment is an Elvis Presley song. (It played Broadway in 2005 with 213 performances.) It’s an interesting trend, fitting in […]

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Post image for DVD Review: LES MISÉRABLES (PBS, 2018)

C’EST MAGNIFIQUE Boy-o-Boy!!! When Art is flung in your face, you best wear it rather than wash it off for, if nothing else, your long-range emotional sake. This latest iteration of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel about the struggles of the1830s archconservative French government’s effect on the disenfranchised sections of the country, especially concerning the life […]

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Post image for DVD Review: THOSE WHO KILL [DEN SOM DRÆBER] (MHz Releasing)

DARKNESS IN THE LIGHT Here comes the Danish version of the newly named “Scandi Noir” or “Nordic Noir,” a genre of crime fiction set in the Scandinavia countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Greenland (although the last one is run by the Kingdom of Denmark); this genre would seem to reflect the nature […]

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Post image for Interview: VINCE MELOCCHI (writer of world premiere ANDY WARHOL’S TOMATO at Pacific Resident Theatre)

PEELING A TOMATO If you’ve ever wondered what Andy Warhol was like as a kid, perhaps writer Vince Melocchi’s new play will give you a better understanding of the iconic artist, far beyond his eccentric persona. This curiosity became the biggest challenge for the playwright, finding the voice of a teenage Andy Warhola who was […]

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Post image for Review: COME FROM AWAY (North American Tour)

THE OTHER SIDE OF TERROR Maybe because we need them so much, miracles are hard to take but crucial to believe. Come from Away is a miracle musical in every way. Just as Lanford Wilson wrote The Fifth of July to reckon with the aftermath of a too-hopeful holiday, this Canadian wonderwork confronts — and redeems — the horrors […]

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