Wednesday February 20 12:59 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Reviews

"It's Only A Play" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


***RECOMMENDED*** Terrence McNally’s delightful comedy “It’s Only a Play” may not contain some grand message about loving your fellow man or a deep evaluation to the meaning of life but it sure does have a ton of good and hearty laughs. Written in 1986 and enjoying a slight success Off-Broadway at that time, McNally revised and updated the script for a star-studded version that hit Broadway in 2014. The current production at Pride Films and Plays, under the skilled direction of Jon Martinez, seems to have been revamped even more recently, as it contains hilarious references to both “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and “Mean Girls,” two big Broadway shows that didn’t even open until April of this past year. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

Remy Bumppo's "Frankenstein" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** What is the function of remorse? Does gender determine intelligence? If you should falter in your quest for scientific innovation will you be haunted by perpetual failure ad infinitum? These -- and many more challenging questions – are posed in Remy Bumppo’s current production of “Frankenstein.” In Nick Dear’s crystalline adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel (celebrating its 200th anniversary this year) and under Ian Frank’s brilliant direction, this “Frankenstein” not only proves Shelley’s genius but also elevates the narrative for those who may have a fading collective awareness of the work based on the popular Frankenstein films of the 1930’s. 4 SPOTLIGHTS

A Sexy, Suggestive, Fosse-esque "Pippin" at Mercury Theater's Venus Cabaret


**** Recommended **** How do you fit “Pippin” into the intimate (actually tiny) space at Mercury Theater’s Venus Cabaret? Obviously one would need to find a small group of incredibly talented people and figure out how to fit them – and an audience – into the space. Director Walter Stearns utilizes every inch of space, including the surface of the bar, to create an immersive experience for the audience. His “Pippin” is Fosse-esque, right down to the white gloves, (totally appropriate since Fosse choreographed the original), sexy and suggestive, kind of cross between “Chicago” and “Cabaret” with a pinch of “Sweet Charity”. 4 Spotlights

“Waistwatchers: The Musical” is a Laughing Good Time


*** Recommended *** “Waistwatchers: The Musical” is a falling-off-your-chair-laughing good time, especially for the women in the audience. Ladies, take your BFF, your gal pals, your posse, your book club, even your bachelorette party, together for a girls’ night out at the Royal George Cabaret. After you get your drinks, sit back and. get ready to laugh. Seriously ladies, while the men in the audience might chuckle, the women will howl. 3 Spotlights

"Masque Macabre" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


★★★★★….And now for something completely different. Strawdog Theatre Company presents, just in time for the Halloween holiday, its shrewdly sinister production of “Masque Macabre,” which is inspired by the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. The creative team involves three writers (Aly Greaves Amidei, Cara Beth Heath and John Henry Roberts) and three directors (Anderson Lawfer, Janet Howe and Eli Newell). This immersive theatrical experience, perhaps the boldest and most audacious in this company’s history, is clearly a labor of love for its extensive creative team as well as being a rollicking good time.

Betty Buckley owns the Stage in Broadway in Chicago's "Hello, Dolly!"


**** Highly Recommended ****At the risk of seeming obvious, I just couldn’t resist - “Hey, Fellas, Dolly’s back in town!” Broadway legend Betty Buckley is starring as everyone’s favorite matchmaker in a blockbuster production of “Hello, Dolly!” at the Oriental Theatre through November 17th. Everything about the show is just about perfect – the cast, the costumes, the choreography, the set, the music. You can really tell that the show was transported lock, stock and original cast straight from Broadway. There’s a reason producers go back to the classics, they’re that good! Get a ticket, this is a must-see. 4 BIG Spotlights

Joffrey's "Swan Lake" is Exquisite!


**** Highly Recommended **** The Joffrey Ballet’s “Swan Lake” is exquisite - trés magnifique! When I talk about dance companies, it’s frustrating when someone slots the Joffrey into the modern, cutting edge ballet company, and I have to argue that they are equally good at the classical. I’m proven right when they do a classical ballet like “Swan Lake” with such perfection.

Four Incredible Women featured in "Flyin' West"


**** Recommended **** “Flyin’ West” is an amazing play about four incredible women. In addition, it devotes attention to an important but relatively obscure piece of African American history. Although some things were obvious – the brother-in-law was clearly going to be the villain – the characterizations were so strong, it kept my interest firmly on the story. “Flyin’ West” is beautifully cast. 4 Spotlights