**** Highly Recommended **** "Lookingglass Alice" is quite simply the most fascinating show of the season, and exactly the pick-me-up we need! Forget those silly cartoons, this Alice flies through the air, the Red Queen walks on bouncy stilts and the White Knight rides a unicycle. Children (over age 5, please) will love this whimsical show produced by Lookingglass Theatre in association with The Actors Gymnasium. I was enthralled from start to finish. 4 BIG Spotlights
**** Recommended **** Towle Theater’s new production, "Hope and Gravity", is hard to define as five actors play nine characters – four couples and an unmarried poetry professor. Could be comedy, could be tragedy, but actually more like a mishmash of both. I know I laughed out loud more than once, and shed a few tears! Done in a series of scenes interspersed with blackouts, it had a feel of Second City. I think you’ll enjoy "Hope and Gravity". I know I did. 4 Spotlights
**** Recommended **** "The Tragedy of King Christophe", written by Aimé Fernand David Césaire, is the true story of a former slave who rose up from poverty to became President of the state of Haiti, then declared himself king. Henri Christophe ended up being the only king of Haiti. This is an ambitious undertaking for a small company like House Theatre of Chicago, but the ensemble made it work – and it’s truly an ensemble effort. 3 ½ Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** There are so many good things to say about Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s production of "All’s Well That Ends Well", it’s hard to decide where to start. It is so well written it might just be Shakespeare’s best, although it was never staged during his lifetime. The characters have more depth, the women’s roles are stronger, and it appeals to our 21st century selves. Kudos to Director Shana Cooper who has assembled a stellar cast. The CST production will keep you spellbound until the end. 4 BIG Spotlights
**** Recommended **** Porchlight Music Theatre’s production of "Spring Awakening" is musical adaptation of an 1891 play by Frank Wedekind, a frequently banned drama about a sexually oppressed community in Germany. Steven Sater (book and lyrics) and Duncan Sheik (music) have turned it into an alternative rock, coming-of-age musical. No matter the century, teen angst is teen angst, after all. Porchlight's production, led by 18-year-old Maya Lou Hlava, is an ensemble piece, and the blend of voices is superb! 4 Spotllights
**** Highly Recommended **** As I’ve come to expect, the Joffrey Ballet’s Spring Program, Serenade and Of Mice and Men was an extraordinarily perfect blend of classic and contemporary ballet. In fact, it’s not just an illustration of the company’s versatility, it’s a demonstration of all that makes the Joffrey such a leader in contemporary ballet. The Joffrey’s incredibly talented dancers execute the most complicated choreography with flawless technique. 4 BIG Spotlights
**** Recommended **** In order to survive, humans need connections with other humans – friends, lovers, mates. Northlight Theatre’s production of Lynn Nottage’s play, "Intimate Apparel" is a thoughtful story about a lonely black woman who desperately wants an intimate connection with someone. It is a good play, well-acted and beautifully staged but somewhat repetitious. In fact, I found myself zoning out a couple of times during the first act. 3 ½ Spotlights
Just in time for spring, the Chicago Children’s Theatre is back in bloom. Returning to live, in-person productions, Carmela Full of Wishes is a charming tale about the importance of imagination. Adapted for the stage by Alvaro Saar Rios from the children’s book by Matt de la Pena with illustrations by Christian Robinson. The quartet of actors here playing an array of characters. The primary, Carmela, is describe by Rios as a “fierce Latina with an awesome imagination”. More on that in just a moment. The show’s official opening attended by a cornucopia of ages, genders and races.
“Intimate Apparel” is a slice of life of a shy hardworking black woman in 1905. Esther sews intimate garments for high society women as well as prostitutes. Her world revolves around these clients, her fabric supplier, an Orthodox Jew and a pen pal prospective husband.
The word “intimate” actually has two separate meanings in this story. Esther sews lovely “intimate” apparel for her mere existence. And, the characters around Esther’s life seek “intimacy”, but never really achieve it.
Steve Martin’s creation pits a 23-year-old Picasso against a 25-year-old Einstein. Each Is on the threshold of fame and both have enormous egos. The banter between them and the Lapin Agile “bar people” makes for fun and friction. It was sort of like “The Million Dollar Quartet” meets “Cheers”, and that’s not bad!