4 Stars! The grand opening of the Rhapsody Theater in Chicago’s historic Rogers Park neighborhood was held to great fanfare on Tuesday, June 21st, coinciding with the first day of summer. Formerly the Mayne Stage, this theater, built in 1912, has now become the city’s newest destination for magic, music, cabaret, and dance. The managing partner and artistic director of the theater is Northwestern University medical professor and magician Dr. Ricardo T. Rosenkrantz, whose vision it was to rehab and repurpose this intimate venue.
Laugh, laugh, cry and then laugh more as you enjoy Steel Magnolia at the elegant Drury Lane in Oak Brook. A well adorn set down to the hanging Spanish Moss from tree limbs all bring Louisiana in the 80’s to life.
5 Stars ***** Moving, powerful, and intense, “cullud wattuh” is an undeniably phenomenal production! Sad but never depressing, informative yet never beating you over the head, the regional premier of this show is based on real events that took place in Flint, Michigan, over the past eight years.
“Walk on the Wild Side” is a collection of four short one-act plays written by John Patrick Shanley. The Chicago premiere fleshes out characters who suffer from low self-esteem and don’t know who they are or what they need to be happy. Through a series of vignettes that depict very different slices of life, we see how all the characters are miserable.
3 Stars *** Chris Woodley’s “Tommy on Top” is a tale of two plays, one overlaying the other. The primary story has to do with Tommy (Ryan Cason), who is a talented Hollywood actor who can pass as straight when, in fact, he’s gay. Because he keeps his sexual orientation hidden from the public, he struggles with inner conflict. In this show, Tommy lets his frustrations out by getting drunk and sometimes disorderly among the people he’s closest to.
★★★★★It has been a crazy and hectic world of theater in our city. Openings almost every night, making it both exciting and tiring. Just one week after an opening at Second City’s Mainstage, tonight they had a new show opening at their UP Stage ( in Pipers Alley). The show is “Queer Eye: The Musical Parody” and takes a look at the old tv show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” ( I think that was the show’s name) or was it just “Queer Eye”? Doesn’t matter!
4 Stars, Highly Recommended! Lewon Johnson, Rachel Blakes, and Tuesdai B. Perry astound us with their versatile acting in the dramatic play “Home”, written by Samm-Art Williams. “Home” is Williams’ best-known play and is a fictionalized biography about an African American orphan who grew up on his family’s land in Crossroads, South Carolina, and who went to prison for five years because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. Director Tim Rhoze has done a fine job with his interpretation of this minor classic, which tells a story near and dear to the director’s heart, one that he has always wanted to stage.
5 Stars! Very Highly Recommended! The line outdoors should have been much longer on the opening night of Noël Coward’s comedy “Blithe Spirit” at the Skokie Theatre. But on a summer-like evening when there was so much competition for theatre dollars, many seats were left unfilled—when they shouldn’t have been! This was a stellar performance by the Eclectic Full Contact Theatre Company, featuring a brilliant and convincing cast who handled this classic farce sensationally! Witty, funny, and smart, this nearly three-hour play (including intermission) went by in the blink of an eye. What a delight it was! How we were all howling with laughter! And how great it was to laugh together with a live audience!
5 Stars! Very highly recommended! Sheer brilliance dominates the Joffrey Ballet’s enactment of “Don Quixote” at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House. This classical ballet, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, features the original French choreography by Marius Petitpa and the original music by Ludwig Minkus, dating from the Bolshoi Ballet of the late 19th century. Yet Possokhov has added his own touches, with a renewed focus on the title character Don Quixote (Miguel Angel Blanco) and his squire Sancho Panza (Derrick Agnoletti) through a series of dream sequences.
Four Stars! Highly Recommended! “Grandma’s Jukebox” is a charm! The point of this cute story is that a grandmother’s legacy can live long beyond her death: not just in the characters’ memories of her but in how they subsequently choose to lead their lives. The genre of this show is what’s known as a “jukebox musical.” The songs within it are all popular hits that have been previously recorded by major artists; these are then recreated and assembled around a story, invented at a later date. Playwright and director Michelle Reneé Bester has done just this, using her own grandmother as her inspiration. The plot is centered on the concept of a (physical) jukebox as a means of tying the music, characters, and action together.