Wednesday January 23 5:51 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Equity Theater Reviews

Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest is Family Fun!

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**** Recommended **** If you have kids, you definitely need a family outing to the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier. Instead of sporting events, trade shows or expose, Festival Hall (170,000 sq. ft.) has been transformed into Winter WonderFest, kind of a summer-time carnival dropped into the North Pole. Everywhere you look, you’ll see sparkly holiday decorations and activities for all ages – everything from a kiddie train to teen-approved rides. There are photo opportunities galore and a full-sized ice rink.

"Cirque Dreams Holidaze" is a Sparkly Extravaganza

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*** Recommended *** “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” is a great big mishmash of sparkly costumes and circus acts. The performers are talented, enthusiastic, energetic, and sometimes kind of frenetic, but that’s OK, it’s a spectacle, and it’s a treat to attend a performance in the gorgeous Chicago Theatre. My major complaint – the constantly moving/prancing/dancing ensemble completely blocked a couple of the circus acts from view. Otherwise, I did enjoy it, as did the small people in the audience. 3 Spotlights

I Laughed until My Cheeks Hurt at "The Play that Goes Wrong"

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**** Highly Recommended **** “The Play that Goes Wrong” is one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen. In fact, I can’t remember when I laughed so much, and I wasn’t alone. Everyone was laughing, all the time! The laughter, which started well before the show began, continued until the end. If you’re feeling blue, “The Play that Goes Wrong” will chase those blues away! Don’t miss it! 4 BIG Spotlights

The Joffrey Ballet's Chicago-centric Production of "The Nutcracker" is Magnificent

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***** Highly Recommended ***** The Joffrey Ballet’s “Chicago-centric” version of “The Nutcracker”, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, is quite simply magnificent. By setting “The Nutcracker” against Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Wheeldon gave the city a unique gift. I am in awe! Loved everything about “The Nutcracker”. 4 BIG Spotlights!

"Cendrillon" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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***RECOMMENDED*** Just in time for the holidays, Lyric Opera of Chicago has given all of the arts lovers in the area an incredible gift -- their charming new production (which is a Lyric premiere) of "Cendrillon." Beautifully directed by Laurent Perry (who also designed the fantastic costumes) and conducted by the esteemed Sir Andrew Davis, Jules Massenet's 1899 opera is presented here in an exquisitely wrapped present complete with a neatly tied large bow on top. Perfect for sparkling under the Christmas tree. Massenet's score is as lively and effervescent as the bubbles in the glass of champagne you may raise to ring in the New Year. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

Goodman Theatre's "A Christmas Carol" is a Holiday Tradition

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***** Highly Recommended ****** The Goodman Theatre’s 41st annual production of “A Christmas Carol”, which remains essentially the same from year to year, is a holiday tradition for many families, spanning generations. The Goodman lobby is festive with decorations and a sparkling holiday shopping area. Now in its 41st year, “A Christmas Carol” is once again practically perfect – fabulous cast, lavish sets and colorful period costumes. I give it 4 Holiday Spotlights.

"The Steadfast Tin Soldier" is a New Holiday Treat for Your Family

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**** Highly Recommended **** If you’re looking for a special holiday outing for your family, Lookingglass Theatre’s production of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” would be a really special treat. Featuring five uber-talented artists, amazing puppets, fantastical costumes and more, “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” is completely charming. Mary Zimmerman’s interpretation of the Hans Christian Anderson story is done entirely in pantomime. I loved it! 4 BIG Spotlights

"Familiar" - Review by Alan Bresloff

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★★★★★ Dealing with families and their customs and traditions is not always easy for an outsider. In Danai Guirira’s comedy, “Familiar”, now on the main stage at Steppenwolf Theatre, we have a mixed marriage and are privy to the day before the ceremony is to take place.