★★★★★One of my favorite Sondheim musicals is “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (hereafter I will use “Sweeney Todd”). I have witnessed quite a number of productions, but never as a chamber piece. Kokandy Productions, since its onset, has been great at selecting material to convert from large stage to chamber. For those unaware of a Chamber Piece/or musical, it is an intimate production where more imagination on the part of the audience comes into the mix. The actors are close enough to touch and often, a character will sit at a musical instrument and become a part of the band. The audience is not sitting in what we call theater seats, but rather arm chairs and stools and other pieces of furniture one might find in “Grandma’s living room”.
★★★★★ In spite of all the problems that tried to get in the way of their production of “Hello Dolly”, the Marriott Theatre and its cast came through with flying colors to bring a for sure Jeff Recommended production. One of the problems with a piece like this is the star who Dolly was written for. Carol Channing was unique and very special and created a “matchmaker” that was wonderful. In the film version, Barbra Streisand took on this character. Let me tell you about Heidi Kettenring (who most Chicagoans know is a wonderful actress) and what she has done with this role. She has recreated this character with her own special chemistry, making Dolly Levi her own! I was sure that we would see something special tonight, and under the direction of Denis Jones, who also did some wonderful choreography, you will be dazzled.
"Once Upon a Farm: A Story, a Family, a Tradition" was truly a one-man band, multi-media, production. Phillip Potempa wrote and directed the play, designed the set, and was the performer. This production seemed to come straight from the heart as Potempa shared his family stories and traditions though conversation and multi-media means.
**** Recommended **** My 4-year-old son, Mikey, and I attended "Leonardo! A Wonderful Show about a Terrible Monster" on Saturday, September 10, 2022 at 11:30am. Leonardo, despite his best efforts, could not scare anyone. Although he looked for children that typically get scared easily, he couldn’t even scare them. Leonardo, was a monster, but he was cute and friendly instead of scary.
Leonardo! A Wonderful Show about a Terrible Monster" was a good show and put together very nicely. 3 ½ Spotlights
★★★★★For those of you that listen to me on the radio (WCPT820 every Sunday 2-3 p.m.), you have heard me say that seeing a play is unique each time you see it. Unlike a film that is cut and spliced and then stays the same, a play enjoys a new life each time it is done. A different director sees things differently. A different venue changes the blocking. Each set causes a different concept and of course the actors and their interpretations of the roles they are playing is unique. I say this all because tonight, Jane and I attended our third incarnation of “Fun Home” with music by Jeanine Tesori and the book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, as staged by Jim Corti and Landree Fleming as part of the BOLD SERIES at Paramount Theatre’s Copley Theatre in Aurora. What a production!
★★★★★Over the many years I have been reviewing theater, I have probably seen over 15 different and unique productions of “The Wizard of Oz”, a shortened version of the 1939 Warner Brothers ( distributed by MGM) film that was based on a book called “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. The film version truly made Judy Garland a name that will always be remembered, as this classic film seems to be on TV at least once a year.
★★★★★ August Wilson has brought some amazing stories to the stages of America. His works explore the heritage of the African-American population in relation to their lives in America over the course of the 20th century, and the plays are called The American Century Cycle ( each play is a different and unique decade). “Fences” his third of the ten play “cycle” is about Troy Maxson ( played to perfection by Kamal Angelo Bolden) who was a ball player in the Negro League. In fact, one might call him a star in that league.
★★★★★ If you are a lover of the “Blues”, Writers Theatre in Glencoe has something special for you! Most Chicago theater audiences are familiar with Ms Felicia P. Fields ( Porchlight’s “Blues In The Night”, “Let The Good Times Roll” at Northlight and of course “Nothin But The Blues.). She was born to sing the blues and in her new show “Pearl’s Rollin’ With The Blues” conceived by Ron OJ Parson and Ms Fields and directed to perfection by Parson, you are in for a treat.
★★★★★I suppose one might call Madeline George’s “Hurricane Diane” , “The Housewives of Red Bank Meet The Devil Herself”!. I do have to say this is a funny play filled with characters that will have you in stitches. Those of you who might be weather buffs might recall that there was a Hurricane Diane back in the mid 50’s.
★★★★★ I understand the difficulty of a person not knowing exactly where he fits in. Often the family has advised of their expectations as has their school counselor. But what if he is confused? In “Choir Boy” written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, we have a story that takes place at a prep school for boys.