Wednesday December 12 9:22 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Reviews

“Twelfth Night or What You Will” - Review by Alan Bresloff

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★★★★★Are you someone who has a problem with the theaters that do Shakespeare? I know there are many readers out there who have a difficult time understanding the works of the Bard. I know that even my wife hesitates attending Shakespeare’s works unless there is a great dinner before or a party after. She does make it through the comedies, as most others do. SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! No matter your feelings about the works of Shakespeare, the current production of “Twelfth Night or What You Will”, now on the stage at Writers Theatre in Glencoe is probably the funniest play you might ever see. Under the leadership of Michael Halberstam and a cast of many of Chicago’s most notable performers, this is classic comedy conveying a marvelous story.

Northlight Theatre's Production of "Mansfield Park" was a Disappointment!

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*** Recommended *** As we were driving to Skokie to see the Northlight Theatre production of “Mansfield Park”, I told my friend Helen all about my love for all things Jane Austen. Obviously, I was looking forward to seeing another adaptation of an insightful and humorous Austen book. I wish I could say I loved it, but I just can’t. Austen’s characters are always fully formed. The cast didn’t have a lot to work with here, the characters are one-dimensional paper dolls. 2 ½ Spotlights

"Miss Saigon" - Review by Alan Bresloff

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★★★★★It has been awhile since Chicago has had a Broadway tour of the legendary “Miss Saigon”. The revival, now on the stage of The Cadillac Palace Theatre, as part of the Broadway In Chicago season, with some new lyrics by our own Michael Mahler ( who by the way , you can see perform in Marriott’s “Holiday Inn) is sensational. In speaking to other audience members, most of us recall the amazing production that thrilled us at the Auditorium Theater, and while the stage is far smaller at The Cadillac, and the set is different, yet unique (Totie Driver and Matt Kinley). The projections add to the special effects and of course, the helicopter scene is as powerful as ever.

"Il Trovatore" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** There is an individual set piece in Lyric Opera's current production of "Il Trovatore" which dominates the entire evening's proceedings. Located slightly upstage and positioned stage right is a large, crudely carved depiction of Jesus on the cross, hewn from a single block of dark timber. This crucifix remains fixed in place even as the rest of the set accommodates itself effortlessly around it, always in plain sight from the top of the show until the final curtain calls. There is nothing particularly attractive about this relic. However, when it is lit from the side wings (as it is during most of the performance) it casts a large shadow upon the back wall of the stage -- a shadow which eerily resembles that of an angel with wings outstretched as it ascends into heaven. This haunting image conveys not only the spirit of an innocent young child whose bones are discovered in the ashes of a pyre but also doubles as a guardian angel who is constantly watching over the ill-fated romance of the troubadour and the queen's lady-in-waiting. 4 BIG SPOTLIGHTS

Take Your Little Prince or Princess to see "Disney's Beauty and the Beast"

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*** Recommended *** When I think of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”, I remember a pretty little village in France, and a beautiful castle on a hill. You won’t see either of those in Drury Lane’s production. Director Alan Souza has chosen to take this fairy tale to the dark side. It’s still a fairy tale with a happily ever after ending, but it’s a little more intense than I expected. If you take your kids, your little prince will like it just as much as your little princess – there are scary wolves in the deep, dark woods. 3 ½ Spotlights

Marriott's "Holiday Inn" is a Must-See!

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**** Highly Recommended **** Whatever else you might do this holiday season, make time to see “Holiday Inn” at the Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire. This production is quite simply spectacular. The story is kind of sappy, but so what? The story is set in the war years, when everyone needed a happy ending. Packed with the music of Irving Berlin, “Holiday Inn” is an effervescent holiday treat. The cast is marvelous, the choreography blew me away, and the costumes are drool-worthy. Dee-lish! 4 BIG Spotlights

Manual Cinema brings "Frankenstein" to the Court Theatre

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**** Recommended **** I’d never seen anything by Manual Cinema, so I really didn’t know what to expect when I went to see their production of “Frankenstein” at the Court Theatre. I thought I was seeing a play, but when I saw all the ‘stuff’ on stage, I knew I’d be seeing something completely different – and I did! This “Frankenstein” started and ended with Mary Shelley – appropriate since 2018 is the 200th anniversary of her book. On a huge screen over the stage, a silent movie played. On the stage below, live actors scurried around, manipulating rolling animations, shadow puppets and even their own silhouettes – all punctuated with thematic music and frames of dialogue. They were actually creating that silent movie playing over their heads! It was fascinating to watch and I give it 3 ½ Spotlights.

"Iolanta" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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***RECOMMENDED*** Before rushing out to purchase your tickets to see the annual holiday chestnut, "The Nutcracker" ballet, you really should check out that composer's other late career work which is making its long-overdue premiere in Chicago. Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky composed the opera "Iolanta" in 1892 but it has never graced a stage here. In fact, "Iolanta" wasn't a part of the Metropolitan's season until 2015, and it is scheduled to make a reappearance in January. This piece is especially meaningful for Chicago Opera Theater's new Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya, the Russian-American conductor who is making her podium debut with this delightful production. 3 SPOTLIGHTS