Wednesday July 18 6:08 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Equity Theater Reviews

Drury Lane's "South Pacific" is Still Relevant - Review by Carol Moore


**** Recommended **** “South Pacific” is a romantic tour de force and amazingly relevant to this day. Based on James Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific,” this 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical won the Pulitzer Prize as well as 10 Tony Awards. “South Pacific” was way ahead of its time in its sensitive and candid exploration of racial prejudice. Drury Lane Theatre’s talented cast does full justice to the lush musical score. 4 Spotlights

“Gaslight District”/ new E.T.C. Second City Revue ( #42) - Review by Alan Bresloff


★★★★ How can they continue to bring us the comedy they have been doing for eons? This is the question many audience members ask each time a new Revue is brought to us at any of the Second City stages. Tonight, on the E.T.C. stage ( second floor of Piper’s Alley) we were witness to their 42nd revue, “Gaslight District”, which as usual is written by the performers in the show. This particular show is directed by Anneliese Toft, with musical direction ( original music and sound) by Jacob Shuda.

"9 to 5 The Musical" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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***RECOMMENDED*** Firebrand Theatre's production of "9 to 5 The Musical" plays out pretty much like a normal day at the office. It starts out with an energetic spurt at the very onset and settles into a comfortable rhythm as you coast into your first coffee break, which helps you make it until your lunch hour recess. Returning from a three martini lunch (or intermission) things may appear to be in disarray as you slip into a mid-afternoon hangover. Another cup of coffee -- or two or three -- will jolt you back into some semblance of reality and soon the hands of the clock are sweeping swiftly toward that magical hour. This is not to imply that this "9 to 5" is a drag. It is a fun and cheery show filled with great songs and strong performances. You are guaranteed to laugh twice as much as you would in a quarter of the time spent at your daily grind. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

"Ghosts of War" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Griffin Theatre Company's "Ghosts of War" is based on Ryan Smithson's novel, or rather memoir, of the same name which has been adapted for the stage by Griffin's Artistic Director William Massolia. The show, which features Sam Krey as Ryan Smithson, has been on tour since last autumn and now receives its Chicago premiere in a gripping and very well-acted production at The Den Theatre. 4 SPOTLIGHTS

"Letters Home" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


***RECOMMENDED*** Griffin Theatre Company's "Letters Home" is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a remounted production at The Den Theatre. William Massolia, who is the Griffin's Artistic Director, has essentially assembled actual letters that U.S. service men and women have written while they were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Massolia adapted for the stage and directed eleven actors who portray numerous members of the armed forces. According to their press release, "Letters Home" has been seen by "more than 100,000 people in more than 100 cities since its first performance in 2007." 3 SPOTLIGHTS

One of My Favorite Musicals, "The Spitfire Grill" presented at the Windy City Café


**** Recommended **** “The Spitfire Grill” is one of my favorite musicals because of its unique folk/bluegrass score. When I heard that it was going to be staged in a real café, I knew had to be there! Kudos to Refuge Theatre Project, a newish company, for doing interesting work in both traditional and non-traditional locations. Last year they did “High Fidelity” in a record store, so why not the Windy City Café? A microcosm of small-town life, “The Spitfire Grill” is a sweet, poignant story about starting over. Great music, good voices, happy ending, what more could you ask for? A delightful production in the perfect setting. 4 Spotlights

“L’Imitation of Life” is a Sparkly, Slightly Bawdy Romp


**** Recommended **** Hell in a Handbag is one of my favorite companies because I know I’m in for a lot of laughs watching their parodies of old movies and TV shows starring ‘tough’ women. “L’Imitation of Life” is a parody of the 1959 film, “Imitation of Life”, starring Lana Turner as a woman determined to be a Broadway star. In the Handbag production, Lana Turner becomes the character. “L’Imitation of Life” is sparkly, bawdy, off-color, predictable, and totally fun! I give it 4 Spotlights.

Footlight Theatre's "Annie" - Review by Nancy Konopasek


**** Recommended Footlight Theatre’s production of Annie, directed by Robert W. Komendera, was simply delightful from the orphanage to the mansion…from start to finish! Maddi Reese Ames, in the title role, was one of the best Annies I have seen in this role (including Chicago productions). Amy Crane, as Miss Hannigan, gave a hilarious performance with her amazing comedic timing. Tim Le Donne, as Oliver Warbucks, was outstanding as he and Annie created their bond. The entire cast from Drake, the butler, played by Jamel “Yogi” Williams, to the orphans and chorus made this production a joy to watch.