Friday August 17 11:07 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Reviews

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

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***RECOMMENDED*** As the house lights fade at the beginning of Remy Bumppo's current production of "hang" the audience hears the usual pre-recorded audio message kindly requesting that all cell phones should be turned off and candy that is wrapped should be opened now. One can only assume that the male voice they are hearing is that of Remy Bumppo's Producing Artistic Director Nick Sandys, as he goes on to thank, specifically by name, several individual donors who have made this production of "hang" possible. He concludes by inviting all of the audience members to "sit forward and enjoy the show." That last part of advice, to sit forward intently listening instead of the tradition of sitting back and relaxing is particularly essential to fully appreciate this complex and intricately constructed drama, which demands that you pay very close attention as key details are divulged. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

"Smart People" - Review by Alan Bresloff

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Highly Recommended **** Racism, sexual identity, political matters! These are just a few of the topics that are addressed in Lydia R. Diamond’s “Smart People” now on the stage of the smaller, “Black Box” studio at Writers Theatre in Glencoe. The Gillian Theatre, as it is called, is a unique space that can be converted for full stages, arena-style theater, or even in-the-round. In this current production, the audience is on three sides so there is action everywhere, and we are never more than five rows away from it.

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" - Review by Carol Moore

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**** Highly Recommended **** When I read that the Court Theatre had a production of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” on the schedule, I was kind of surprised, since I didn’t know that the 1967 movie had been adapted into a play. That movie, which starred Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and Sydney Poitier, was really significant in 1967, when interracial marriage was still illegal in some states, but would it be, could it be, relevant fifty years later? A quick answer, both no and yes. The play, with all its witty dialogue, is a period piece, but the issues it raises are still relevant. 3 ½ Spotlights

"Pretty Woman" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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***RECOMMENDED*** It is quite clear that the die-hard fans of the film “Pretty Woman” will love the musical version that opened at the Oriental Theatre this week. “Pretty Woman: The Musical” will transfer to Broadway in mid-April. The applause was abundant as key players took to the stage and received outpourings of adoration from the opening night crowd. For the casual admirer of the film, or someone who has not seen it for many years, if ever, the show should still prove to be reasonably entertaining. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

"A Taste of Things to Come" - Review by Carol Moore

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**** Recommended **** As we walked out of Broadway Playhouse after seeing “A Taste of Things to Come”, my friend Helen said she’d bet that that every woman in the audience loved the musical, and that the men probably thought it was just OK. Judging by the cheers at the curtain call, I’d have to agree with her. I thought it had a dynamite cast, a well-written original score, but not much of a story. 3 ½ Spotlights

"How I Learned to Drive" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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***RECOMMENDED*** Initially, I was somewhat alarmed when I saw that Artistic Home was going to be producing Paula Vogel's 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning play "How I Learned to Drive" as part of their current season. After all, this drama deals with pedophilia and the sexually abusive relationship between a teen-aged girl and her uncle. Is this really the right time to revisit this work and address these themes in the height of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements? After seeing director Kayla Adams' well-constructed production, it is clear that the answer to that question is a resounding "Yes." 3 SPOTLIGHTS

"Merchant on Venice" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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**RECOMMENDED*** "Merchant on Venice" is much more than just a simple adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic play. Playwright Shishir Kurup, who was born in Bombay, India but raised in Kenya and the U.S. has moved the setting for his version from 1598 Italy to present day Culver City, California. That city, located within sprawling Los Angeles County, is well-known for having a large mix of very diverse ethnicities. Kurup's play, which had its world premiere produced by Silk Road Rising in 2007 is now presented as a co-production between Rasaka Theatre and Vitalist Theatre companies. It is an engaging and engrossing look at the tensions between Hindu and Muslim Americans while also remaining as entertaining as a popular Bollywood film musical. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

"Enemy of the People" - Review by Carol Moore

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**** Highly Recommended **** About 30 seconds into the performance, I realized that I’d never seen “Enemy of the People”. When I think that Henrik Ibsen wrote this play, which has so many recent parallels – think Love Canal or Erin Brockovich – in 1882, I’m in awe! The Goodman’s production is gripping, powerful and ultimately rather sad. Kudos to Director, Robert Falls. 4 Spotlights