Tuesday October 23 5:14 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Reviews

Nick Sandys stars in Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival's Whimsical, Family Friendly Production of "The Tempest"


**** Highly Recommended Chicago favorite, Nick Sandys, stars as Prospero in a whimsical, family-friendly production of “The Tempest” at the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival. Director West Hyler has melded music, magic, circus stunts and spectacular special effects to achieve his vision of “The Tempest”. The professional cast which includes stars from the Chicago stage, Broadway, film, TV and the circus, is supplemented by younger actors from the NDSF Young Company. My friend and I were charmed. “The Tempest” gets 4 Spotlights.

"Mame" by Alan Bresloff


★★★★★It has been a long time since Chicago area theater audiences have been treated to a full production of “Mame”, the musical version of Patrick Dennis’ novel and the Lawrence and Lee play, “Auntie Mame” (also based on the book by Mr. Dennis). I was trying to think back to just when one of our theaters brought this to life. I think it may have been Marriott, but leave it to Light Opera Works, in its last season under that banner (they will be changing the name to Music Theater Works in 2017) to put a very special production on its stage at Cahn Auditorium on the campus of Northwestern University, in Evanston. “Mame” with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and a book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee ( a different Robert E. Lee, of course) was a Broadway hit that brought Angela Lansbury to new heights back in the 60’s. The original play, “Auntie Mame” was also a movie with the glorious Rosalind Russell bringing the actual character to life. The movie version of the hit musical starred Lucille Ball and did not have the pizzaz that this character must have.

Bring Your Lawn Chairs and enjoy "Tall Girl and the Lightning Parade"


*** Recommended *** If you’re going to see Walkabout Theater Company’s “Tall Girl and the Lightning Parade”, you’ll want to bring a blanket or a lawn chair and some bug spray. The family friendly production, described as an interactive, outdoor parade and performance spectacle, is a part of Chicago Park District’s “Night Out in the Parks” series. Since most of the members of the “Tall Girl” cast have mastered the art of stilt-walking, there was a circus-like feel to the evening. Your kids will really enjoy the performance, adults maybe not so much. I give it 3 Spotlights.

"The Jackie Wilson Story" by Alan Bresloff


Highly Recommended **** As we celebrate the 40th Anniversary season of Black Ensemble Theater with them, we are able to revisit some of the hits of their history. For some, a trip down memory lane, and for others a whole new experience, as they learn about the music and the people who brought that music to our lives. The current trip down memory lane is “The Jackie Wilson Story”, written and directed by Ms Jackie Taylor. We saw the first production of this show detailing the life of Mr. Wilson back in 2000 and the remount in 2011. There was also a national tour of the production which ended its journey on the stage of The Apollo Theater in New York (where Mr. Wilson had been a starring light). There are many who say he was one of the greatest entertainers of our time. In watching the production and the story that Ms Taylor has written, one gets the sense that had he lived a little different lifestyle, he may have created even more for posterity.

Max McLean fascinates in "C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert"

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**** Recommended **** C.S. Lewis was a fascinating man – according to his biography, an author, an essayist, a poet, literary critic, academic, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist. His intellectual journey from youthful atheist to Catholic convert is the subject of “C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert”, a one-man show starring Max McLean, running at the Mercury Theater through August 14th. Both interesting and erudite, I give “C.S. Lewis Onstage” 4 Spotlights.

"The Ben Hecht Show" by Alan Bresloff


Highly Recommended **** The Chicago theater world knows James Sherman as a playwright, but certainly not as the man on the stage. Well, my friends, meet the “other” James Sherman. With the extention of his new play, “The Ben Hecht Show” being presented by Grippo Stage Company at The Piven Theatre in Evanston, I was able to get the opportunity to see this World Premiere! Thank you Grippo for adding the extra weeks that made this possible, and thank you James Sherman for having the time available to continue bringing this historical figure to life.

What a Treat! Steppenwolf's new Front Bar and "Byhalia, Mississippi"

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**** Recommended **** As part of their Visiting Company initiative, Steppenwolf invited the New Colony & Definition Theatre Company to remount their winter hit, “Byhalia, Mississippi” in Steppenwolf’s new 1700 Theatre. The entire cast has returned to “Byhalia, Mississippi”, a quirky little play with an unexpected twist. I give it 3 ½ Spotlights.

"Douglass" presents Many Parallels to Our Modern Debates on Race


**** Highly Recommended **** With “Douglass”, playwright Thomas Klingenstein has produced an intelligent play about Frederick Douglass, a runaway slave who became a famous abolitionist. Using his imagination (since there are no records of actual conversations between Douglass and his contemporaries), Klingenstein has constructed lucid conversations about slavery and the U.S. Constitution which in many respects presents many parallels to our more modern debates on race. the american vicarious is a new company - to me, at least. I’m so impressed with “Douglass”, I’ll be watching for their next production. I give “Douglass” 4 Spotlights.