Wednesday December 12 8:20 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Reviews

Chicago Shakespeare's "Nell Gwynn" is a Bawdy Romp


**** Recommended **** Sometimes I think of Chicago Shakespeare as an otherwise dignified individual with an unexpected sense of humor, which shows up in their latest production, “Nell Gwynn”, a bawdy good romp. Nell Gwynn, of course, was the favorite mistress of King Charles II, and one of the first female actresses on the London stage. “Nell Gwynn” has a fabulous cast, gorgeous costumes, funny clever dialogue and broad physical comedy. 4 Spotlights

"Eclipsed" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** The name Danai Gurira may not be familiar to many of you but you certainly might recognize her from several of the appearances that she's made as an actress. Her television credits include the AMC horror drama series "The Walking Dead" and her films have included "All Eyez on Me" and this year's blockbusters "The Black Panther" and "Avengers: Infinity War." But Gurira, who is an American of Zimbabwean origin and began her career on stage, is also a highly talented playwright. Her 2009 play "Eclipsed," which made it to Broadway in 2016 and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play, is receiving a riveting production, under the direction of Producing Artistic Director Ilesa Duncan, by Pegasus Theatre Chicago. 4 SPOTLIGHTS

"Rock and Roll" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


***RECOMMENDED*** Upon entering the theater at The Artistic Home you will feel transported back in time to a more liberally-minded, free-spirited era to experience Tom Stoppard's 2006 play "Rock 'n' Roll." The stage consists of one very long, slightly raised platform which runs the length of the room from south to north and has four distinct playing areas, cozily designed by Kevin Hagan. With several selections of 1960's and 1970's British rock bands providing the pre-show recorded music, patrons are encouraged to view the art work on the walls and grab a seat anywhere. The seats run on either side of the stage, the entire length of the room, and are made up of very comfortable padded chairs and randomly placed large, over-stuffed easy chairs or compact sofas, all covered with plush velvet drapery or hand crocheted afghans. It all exudes enough grunge that you would swear you could be in a dive bar right off of Leicester Square, circa 1970. While they certainly got the vibe exactly right, Kathy Scambiatterra's loosely directed production doesn't always come off feeling cohesive. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

"La Boheme" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** "La Boheme", Giacomo Puccini's 1896 opera, may arguably be the most popular opera in the world and certainly one of the most beloved. First performed by Lyric Opera during the second month of their inaugural season in 1954 and a staple during many of their seasons ever since, this sparkling new coproduction between Lyric Opera Chicago, Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Teatro Real Madrid is a joy to behold. If you have never seen an opera performed live on stage before, this is the perfect one to start with. Consisting of a fairly simple love story at its center, a luscious and swoon-worthy score by Puccini, strong acting, stunning set and lighting design and a running time of a tad over two hours this is a great introduction to what world-class caliber opera aspires to always be. 4 SPOTLIGHTS

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” - Review by Alan Bresloff


Somewhat Recommended ** Many years ago, movie fans fell in love with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. That was 1971 and the tale written by Roald Dahl opened up a new world of imagination to youngsters all over the world. While the story was filled with awe and wonder, it also had a great message relating to greed and selfishness and some wonderful musical numbers written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, who gave us “Stop The World, I Want To Get Off” and “The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd”- two of my favorites.

"Judy Garland: Come Rain or Come Shine" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** How ironic -- it rained, she shined! As the patrons slowly filed out of the Nichols Concert Hall on the opening of Music Theater Works' presentation of "Judy Garland: Come Rain or Come Shine" they walked out into a wet and dismal evening in Evanston, still buzzing about the sensational Angela Ingersoll whom they had just seen channel the energy and inimitable spirit of the great Judy Garland. Billed as an homage to Ms. Garland, this musical concert event has Ingersoll belting out all of the famous songs that have been recorded by the artist that she holds very near and dear to her own heart. 4 SPOTLIGHTS

"Oxy, Ohio" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


***RECOMMENDED *** S.J. Spencer's latest drama "Oxy, Ohio" is receiving its world premiere, in a very limited run, presented by the side project. Spencer has set his play in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, which in 2016 was named the site of the most fatal drug overdoses of any region in America. His play, filled with plenty of humor and some very good acting, takes a closer look at the inhabitants of this relatively small town and makes a statement about the opioid epidemic in this country. Finally making its way into the forum of discussion due to heavy media attention, the loss of some high-profile celebrities and even our current administration in Washington, the extent of this epidemic is both alarming and tragic. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

"Caroline, or Change" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


***RECOMMENDED*** For the first production of their sophomore season, Firebrand Theatre has partnered with TimeLine Theatre Company to present the musical "Caroline, or Change." With music by Jeanine Tesori ("Fun Home" and "Violet") and a book and lyrics by Tony Kushner this through-composed musical spans the final two months of 1963 and is set in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The entire cast, under the direction of the very busy and in-demand Lili-Anne Brown, deliver a very solid and moving show. 3 SPOTLIGHTS