Friday January 19 10:32 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Equity Theater Reviews

Jeffrey Leibham reviews Raven Theatre's "Choir Boy"

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***RECOMMENDED*** "Choir Boy" may be Tarell Alvin's McCraney's most conventional work to date. Perhaps it's just this production, under the work horse direction of Michael Menendian, that makes it seem that way. Written in 2012, the play was most recently presented at the Manhattan Theater Club at City Center and featured Mr. McCraney's fellow Steppenwolf ensemble member Austin Pendleton in the role, ironically, of Mr. Pendleton. This Raven Theatre ensemble is made up of a core of young, locally trained aspiring actors who all do very solid work. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

Interrobang Theatre Project's "Foxfinder" by Jeffrey Leibham

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***RECOMMENDED*** British playwright Dawn King has created a very intriguing work with her 2011 piece "Foxfinder," which is receiving its Midwest premiere in a solid production by Interrobang Theatre Project. Part of the wonder of this play is the fact that it seems to be floating in an almost ageless realm. The program notes simply indicate that the time is "Soon." However, the action could very easily be taking place in 1910. The only clue in the text itself is the fleeting reference of placing a call on a telephone, so we know this isn't 1610. 3 ½ SPOTLIGHTS

Chicago Shakespeare's Barbara Gaines has a New Take on "The Taming of the Shrew"

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**** Highly Recommended **** I had so much fun watching Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s new production of “The Taming of the Shrew”. Interestingly enough, I think the all female cast had just as much fun doing the play as I had watching it! Kudos to Barbara Gaines for coming with a completely new take on the courtship of Petruchio and his shrewish Kate. 4 BIG Spotlights

Victory Gardens' "Fun Home" by Alan Bresloff

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★★★★★ When “Fun Home”‘s Broadway touring Production came through town, I felt that the beauty of this Tony-Award winning musical based on the book by Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist, illustrator, would be better served in a more intimate space. The large theater may hold larger audiences, but the audience loses some of the inner-action that almost demands an “up-close-and-personal” look. That is why, the current production of the “chamber” musical, now on the main stage at Victory Gardens, appears even stronger than the original. Add to this, that this version is directed by Gary Griffin, who is indeed a master of musical direction!

In Lifeline Theatre's Wacky "Sylvester", Courtship is a Board Game

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**** Recommended **** Back in the day, I read and enjoyed all of Georgette Heyer’s historical novels set in Regency England. In fact, I still have many of them on my shelf including “Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle”. I was charmed by “Sylvester”, Christina Calvit’s delightful adaptation for Lifeline Theatre, places the ups and downs of a Regency courtship into a game of “Chutes and Ladders”, complete with hazard cards. It sounds wacky, but it really works! 4 Spotlights

Northlight Theatre's “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is Hilarious

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*** Recommended *** You just can’t help laughing at the “The Legend of Georgia McBride”, an improbably funny backstage story set in a seedy bar. I’m not sure how well a drag show would go over in Florida’s Panhandle, but as Eddie (Keith Kupferer),the bar owner says, family is family. Someone who’s familiar with the nuances of drag shows might not appreciate the humor, but for a newbie like me (and most of the audience), it was pretty darn hilarious. 3 Spotlights

"Five Guys Named Moe" bring Louis Jordan's Fabulous Jazz, Jump Blues and Rock 'n Roll to the Court

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**** Highly Recommended **** I’m not sure whether “Five Guys Named Moe” is a jukebox musical or a musical revue. It’s a tribute to Louis Jordan, who has been called the Father of Rhythm & Blues and/or the Grandfather of Rock ‘n Roll, which puts it in the first category. Although there’s a tiny story line, the songs follow one after another, putting it in the second. It really doesn’t matter, “Five Guys Named Moe” is full of fabulous jazz, jump blues - a swinging, up-tempo blend of jazz, blues and boogie-woogie – and rock ‘n roll music. 4 BIG Spotlights

Paramount Theatre's "Million Dollar Quartet" is a Blast from the Past!

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**** Highly Recommended **** Paramount Theatre’s production of “Million Dollar Quartet” is an experience, an evening of in-your-face rock and roll! While Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley are rockin’ on stage – audiences are rockin’ right along with them! “Million Dollar Quartet” is a blast from the past! 4 BIG Spotlights