Monday January 21 9:18 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Equity Theater Reviews

The Goodman's "Wonderful Town" is Ready for Broadway!

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***** Highly Recommended ***** Goodman Theatre’s whimsical revival, “Wonderful Town”, could move to Broadway tomorrow and be a hit, it’s that good! Although it doesn’t have any huge popular hits, the songs in “Wonderful Town” are light, lyrical and fun. Conductor Ben Johnson and the Goodman’s 17-piece orchestra bring Leonard Bernstein’s score to life! “Wonderful Town” even has old-fashioned Overtures. My friend and I left smiling, so I give “Wonderful Town” 4 BIG Spotlights.

Spend a Nostalgic Evening with "Cheers Live On Stage" at Broadway Playhouse

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**** Recommended **** Have you ever imagined yourself going into the bar “Where everybody knows your name?” Do you know all the words to the iconic theme song? Guess what? You can spend a nostalgic evening with Sam, Diane, Coach and Carla at the Broadway Playhouse, right here in Chicago. “Cheers Live On Stage” isn’t the best play I’ve ever seen but it’s sweet, genuine and true to the “Cheers” legacy. My friends and I thought it was a lot of fun, so I give “Cheers Live On Stage” 3 ½ Spotlights.

"Life Sucks" is a Very Funny Homage to Chekov

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**** Highly Recommended **** “Life Sucks”. At least that’s what the characters in Aaron Posner’s brilliant new play think. We know this because they tell us so before the play ever begins. In fact, they continue to stop and talk directly to the audience – sometimes even asking for audience participation – right up to the conclusion. The Lookingglass cast is so good you’ll almost forget they’re acting. “Life Sucks” is a very funny homage to Chekov, and I give it 4 Spotlights.

Theatre at the Center's "Pump Boys and Dinettes" is a Toe-Tappin' Good Time

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**** Recommended **** I’m not a fan of country music, but “Pump Boys and Dinettes”, a toe-tappin’, feel-good little musical, has always been one of my favorite musicals. Since it closed in the late ‘80s, “Pump Boys and Dinettes” has rarely been seen on Chicago stages (Theo Ubique in 2011, Drury Lane in 2009), and I just can’t figure out why. It’s an ideal show for a smaller theater and a guaranteed audience pleaser. If you’re looking for a good time, you’ll want to drive on down to Theatre at the Center (Munster) for a performance. I give “Pump Boys and Dinettes” 4 Spotlights.

Vibrant Salsa Rhythms in Porchlight's "In the Heights"

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**** Recommended Porchlight Music Theatre has a habit of doing oversized musicals on a seriously undersized stage. They usually pull it off quite well, but with their new production, “In the Heights”, space became a factor. They just didn’t seem to have enough space for all of the choreography. On the other hand, the voices were fabulous! “In the Heights” has infectious music and movement. You’ll be dancing in your seat to the vibrant salsa rhythms. 3 ½ Spotlights.

Writers Theatre brings Cell Phones and Social Media to Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar"

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Recommended If you reduce it to the basics, William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” has many modern parallels so the play is easily modernized. Writers Theatre’s adaptation adds a unique twist, social media and all of its implications in the Roman forum. Caesar’s red robe is the only color in this tense black and gray Rome. “Julius Caesar” was extremely well-done, but it just didn’t have enough passion. I give it 3 ½ Spotlights.

"Songs of Lear" was an Amazing Experience

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***** Highly Recommended ***** I saw an amazing performance the other night Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, “Songs of Lear”, presented by a Polish company called Song of the Goat. Although the CST website said “Songs of Lear” would be sung in multiple languages, I still had no idea what to expect. What I heard were scenes from “King Lear” in the form of tone poems, only occasionally accompanied by a violin. What I saw was a cast of ten expressing themselves through song, facial expressions and eloquent arm movements. I’ve never heard anything better. I give “Songs of Lear” 4 Spotlights.

In Spite of the Hype "Helldrivers of Daytona" just wasn't Good Enough

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** Somewhat recommended ** “Helldrivers of Daytona” is a parody of the bubblegum movies that came out in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, before the Beatles. I kind of liked the first act, which had a couple of cute songs. The second act, on the other hand, was just awful. 1 Spotlight

Apparently the producers recognized the problems too. I knew this happened in New York, but I’d never seen it in Chicago. “Helldrivers of Daytona” closed the day after it opened. I feel for the cast who really worked hard.