Thursday September 20 8:14 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Spotlight on Equity Theater Reviews

"Ghosts of War" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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****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

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***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

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**** 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

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**** 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

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**** 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.

Silk Road Rising's "Through the Elevated Line" - Review by Carol Moore

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*** Recommended *** Thanks so much to the folks at Silk Road Rising for allowing me – and Spotlight on Lake associate, Jeffrey Leibham – to attend one of the final performances of Novid Parsi’s play, “Through the Elevated Line”. I really enjoyed the performance, which was well-staged and very well acted, but the characters were stereotypes placed in stereotypical situations. 3 Spotlights

First Folio's "Mary's Wedding" - Review by Carol Moore

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**** Highly Recommended **** First Folio Theatre’s production of “Mary’s Wedding” is well written, well-acted and quite simply beautiful. A heart-wrenching story of young lovers parted by circumstances way beyond their control, “Mary’s Wedding” had me teary-eyed as soon as I figured out where it was going. Kudos to Director Melanie Keller and the cast, Heather Chrisler and Debo Balogun. 4 Spotlights

"The Gentleman Caller" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** "The Gentleman Caller" by Philip Dawkins, which is receiving its world premiere at Raven Theatre, is a highly theatrical if merely speculative scenario of the relationship (possibly sexual) between two of the 20th-century's most important American playwrights: Tennessee Williams and William Inge. Constructed, somewhat, as a memory play, it is also very much informed by and alludes to both writers' major works. Look closely and you can almost see the specters of the characters that these two great authors created just floating around the periphery of the stage. A faint trace of both of their artistic voices, particularly Williams', are tinged into Dawkins' well-researched storyline and evocative prose. 3 and 1/2 SPOTLIGHTS