Friday January 19 10:32 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Equity Theater Reviews

"Barney the Elf" - Review by Alan Bresloff

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★★★★★The Holiday season is here. Time to be “Merry” and “Gay”, and so theater companies such as Other Theatre, whose mission is to tell stories of persons or groups who are “othered” by systems of oppression, has brought back their sensational hit, “Barney the Elf”. This is a very “gay” spoof of the musical version of the hit film “Elf” and even more so, the musical version called “Elf the Musical” ( a version of which I just reviewed at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora). This spoof is written by Bryan Renaud and has musical arrangements by Jermaine Hill. The lyrics by Renaud and Emily Schmidt are designed to take show tunes as well as holiday tunes and use lyrics that will help propel their version of the story- some are very cute, others so-so. The show tunes are done better than the holiday songs, but , let’s face it, the people involved in this production are all “show tune people”!

“Puff: Believe It Or Not” - Review by Alan Bresloff

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Highly Recommended **** When people of my generation hear the word “Puff” they think of cigarettes or perhaps “Puff, The Magic Dragon”, and what that meant. Leave it to Remy Bumppo to find a very old play where this word means a great deal more. The name of the play is “Puff: Believe It Or Not” written by Eugene Scribe (what a great name for a writer) and translated by Ranjit Bolt. This adaptation is having its World Premiere thanks to this brilliant theater company that is not afraid to tackle works that others might never touch. The play is what is termed a “drawing- room comedy” that has many farcical characters and is filled with great comic moments.

Goodman's 40th Annual Production of "A Christmas Carol" is Practically Perfect!

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***** Highly Recommended ****** The Goodman Theatre’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol” remains essentially the same from year to year, which audiences seem to love. “A Christmas Carol” is holiday tradition for many families, spanning generations. The Goodman lobby is festive with decorations and a sparkling holiday shopping area. Now in its 40th year, “A Christmas Carol” is once again practically perfect – fabulous cast, lavish sets and colorful period costumes. I give it 4 Holiday Spotlights.

"Elf the Musical" - Heart-Warming and Family-Friendly for the Holidays

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***** Highly Recommended ***** To celebrate the holidays, Buddy the Elf and his good friend Santa, have arrived in Aurora! If you’re looking for a special outing for your kids/grandkids, then Paramount Theatre’s whimsical production of “Elf” is the show for you. “Elf the Musical” is heartwarming, family-friendly, funny and absolutely delightful. I give “Elf” 4 BIG Holiday Spotlights.

Mitchell Fain is Snarky, Sarcastic and Slightly Naughty in “This Way Outta Santaland (and other Xmas miracles)”

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**** Recommended **** Mitchell Fain is well known around Chicago for his eight-year gig as Crumpet, a grumpy Macy’s elf in David Sedaris’s biographical story, “Santaland Diaries”. After eight years in the pointy shoes, Fain was ready for something different. In “This Way Outta Santaland (and other Xmas miracles)” Fain can wear the stripy stockings but still be his own snarky, sarcastic, slightly profane self! It might not be everyone's favorite cup of tea, but “This Way Outta Santaland” made me laugh. 4 holiday Spotlights.

"The Minutes" is a Funny, Interesting, Downright Bizarre Look at Local Politics

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**** Recommended **** When Tracy Letts writes a play, you can be sure the dialogue will be exactly what the situation calls for. “The Minutes”, his new play running through January 7th at Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre, is no exception. Even though we only spend a short time with the characters, we know exactly who they are and where they’re coming from. It’s funny, it’s interesting and it’s downright bizarre. “The Minutes” gets 3 ½ Spotlights.

Nostalgia Buffs will love 'Live Radio' Broadcast of “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago”

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**** Highly Recommended **** Take your family on a nostalgic trip into the past with American Blues Theater’s 16th annual production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!” in their new venue, Stage 773. You ‘ll join a ‘live radio’ audience with a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes and watch a talented cast bring Bedford Park to life, commercials and all! The stage might be a little larger; the décor a little more festive; but it’s still the show Chicagoans have grown to love. It is so much fun to listen to the beloved story unfold; “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago” gets 4 Holiday Spotlights!

Take a Nostalgic Trip with "Irving Berlin's White Christmas"

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**** Highly Recommended **** You can’t help but feel nostalgic when you see “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”. You’ll be humming along to Berlin’s wonderful melodies, too. Unless you’re a curmudgeon, I guarantee you’ll be in the holiday mood when the fabulous cast sings the title song. I give “White Christmas” 4 BIG Spotlights.