Thursday January 18 8:39 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Reviews

"His Greatness" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Suddenly, Tennessee Williams seems to be the hottest playwright in Chicago. Last season saw a well-received production of one of his earliest works and later this season there will be two much-anticipated revivals of works at major theater companies as well as a new original work about his possible romantic relationship with fellow playwright William Inge in the spring. But Pride Films and Plays is the first out of the gate with its splendid and completely compelling production of "His Greatness." Written by Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor and billed as "a play inspired by the later years of Tennessee Williams' life" this beautiful piece benefits greatly by the always reliable direction of David Zak and a solid cast of three actors. 4 SPOTLIGHTS

Porchlight Music Theatre's "Billy Elliot" is Fabulous


**** Highly Recommended **** Porchlight Music Theatre opened their first season at the Ruth Page Center of the Arts with a fabulous production of “Billy Elliot the Musical”. Although “Billy Elliot” has the largest cast I’ve ever seen in a Porchlight production, Director Brenda Didier has found a way to keep it small and intimate. Gritty, profane, sometimes violent, but in the end triumphant, “Billy Elliot” gets 4 BIG Spotlights.

"Punk" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


***RECOMMENDED*** As prison dramas go, "Punk" may not be breaking any new ground but it certainly has put an interesting perspective on the genre. Playwright Michael Allen Harris, who is an alumnus of Columbia College Chicago, saw a documentary short film about an experimental prison that only contained gay, bisexual or transgender inmates. Setting his play in a GBTQ unit of a maximum security prison, and thanks to an extensive workshop process with The New Colony, the results of his labors can be seen in this fascinating work enjoying its world premiere at The Den Theatre. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

“The Hypocrites’ Dracula” is a Funny, Campy, Gothic Horror Story


**** Recommended **** Do you love things that go bump in the night? Are you in a Halloween rut? Tired of all the candy corn, jack o’ lanterns, trick or treaters, haunted houses, costume parties? Mix a pinch of Transylvania Vlad, a dab of Valley Girl sass, and a cup or four of blood; blended into Bram Stoker’s plot, and voila, it’s the perfect recipe to scare yourself silly, “The Hypocrites’ Dracula”, at the Mercury Theater through November 5th, is an unexpectedly funny, kind of campy, gothic horror story. 3 ½ Spotlights

The Issues in "The Skin of Our Teeth" are Relevant Today


*** Recommended *** I’d never seen Thornton Wilder’s 1942 play, “The Skin of Our Teeth” so I had no idea what was coming (even though I’d read a summary in advance). Interestingly enough, even though it’s an old play, the issues it raised – climate change, sexual harassment, devastating war, homelessness, starvation, assassination, catastrophic storms, untrustworthy leaders – were all relevant today. Remy Bumppo's somewhat modernized production is supposed to be a comedy, but somehow I lost sight of the humor. 3 ½ Spotlights

You'll love First Folio's "The Man Beast", a Moody Gothic Horror Story


**** Recommended **** Every autumn, First Folio Theatre celebrates October with a scary and/or macabre drama. This year, they’re kicking off their season with the premiere of “The Man Beast”, Joseph Zettelmaier’s third exploration of the horror genre. “The Man Beast”, a moody gothic tribute to the Loup-Garou, follows Zettelmaier’s unique spin on the Dracula legend, “Dr. Seward’s Dracula” and his bizarre angle on the Frankenstein legend, “The Gravedigger”. “The Man Beast is fascinating, romantic and very scary. 4 Spotlights

"Rigoletto" - reviewed by Jeffrey Leibham


****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** From the moment the curtain rises and the hunchbacked court jester who is the title character hobbles down the severely raked stage of the Civic Opera House you get the sense that this is going to be a spectacular interpretation of "Rigoletto." This new-to-Chicago production, magnificently directed by E. Loren Meeker, utilizes the same concept familiar to this work in two different productions during the 1980's, both of which starred Luciano Pavarotti in the role of the Duke of Mantua. That is, while the overture is still being played we see the key players in a tableau vivant, foreshadowing the tragedy which is about to befall them all. 4 BIG SPOTLIGHTS

"The Crucible" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


***HIGHLY RECOMMENDED*** If you are only familiar with Arthur Miller's 1953 play "The Crucible" from having read it in high school, you really owe it to yourself to see it in its current production at Steppenwolf Theatre. Berated by generations of adolescents in English class as being boring and unrelatible, hopefully now thousands of teenagers from Chicagoland area high schools will get to see just how incredible and truly relevant this allegorical tale is. Many may be surprised in the page to stage transformation that occurs, under Jonathan Berry's splendid and very precise direction, when talented and committed actors breathe new life into a classic work of the American theater. 3.5 SPOTLIGHTS