★★★★★Driving down to the Cadillac Palace Theatre last night Jane said, why are we seeing “Les Miz” again? It has been 12 times at least, and as I always say, every production ( or even performance) is new and exciting and very different than the others, so we parked, entered the theater, said hello to other reviewers and friends, and watched two hours- fifty-five minutes of the newly stage ( direction by Laurence Connor and James Powell) and re-imagined sets (Matt Kinley) with a full house that were up on their feet in recognition of this masterpiece getting even better! Thank you Broadway In Chicago for giving Chicago this treat!
Recommended *** Many of you are aware of the small storefront theater called Rivendell, next to the pizza joint on Ridge Avenue, near Senn High School. While Rivendell is doing their production at Victory Gardens, they are renting their space out to a new company, Dandelion Theatre, who is presenting a World Premier called “Bury Me” written by Brynne Frauenhoffer. According to the notes on the playwright, this is not her first play, BUT is the first one she ever finished.
★★★★★ The classic musical! This is what many call Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man”, now on the main stage of The Goodman Theatre.
Highly Recommended ****First of all, when you see the title of this play, do not “judge the book by its cover” truly is the expression to use. "Hitler's Tasters" is a unique piece that is being presented by the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie as part of a special “Summer Theater” program. Written by Michelle Kholos Brooks, this 90 minute drama challenges the audience to fall in love with its characters despite their being a part of Nazi Germany. It all takes place in a large dining area where there are three girls, who have the task to taste the meals that their leader and commander is to be served.
★★★★★Guilt is hard to deal with! Often, it turns out, we feel guilt for something that we had no control over. In Selina Fillinger’s “Something Clean” now on the stage at The Richard Christianen Theater at Victory Gardens, we meet Charlotte ( an outstanding performance by Mary Cross) as she applies for a volunteer position at a sexual assault crisis center. It appears that this is a woman who wants to help but there is some mystery to her “interview” . The manager of the center, Joey (played to sheer perfection by Patrick Agada) has his own “secrets” that will come out during this 85 minute ( no intermission) story.
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Drag is political. The very act of a man dressing as a woman makes a pretty bold statement. Nearly two and a half decades before Americans had the first female candidate on the ballot for President of the United States, we almost had our first drag queen as a serious contender. How Terence Alan Smith transformed himself into Ms. Joan Jett Blakk and ran for the land's highest office is the subject of Steppenwolf's world premiere of "Ms. Blakk for President," a highly entertaining and celebratory concoction conceived by fellow Steppenwolf Ensemble Members Tina Landau and Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Landau and featuring McCraney in the title role. 4 SPOTLIGHTS
***RECOMMENDED*** Firebrand Theatre is concluding their sophomore season with a Chicago premiere that, in some ways, is slightly similar to their dazzling inaugural production in October of 2017.
Highly Recommended **** I must preface this review by stating that I never expected to give this particular show a rating this high, but Toma Tavares Langston and his quartet of fabulously talented performers have brought this show to a new level for me (and I suppose based on what the opening night response ) and others. When the touring company came by several years ago, I believe my rating was “somewhat recommended”. The current production in the very intimate space at Theo Ubique is far and away a masterpiece compared to what BIC brought in.
★★★★ In the past few months we have seen several plays that deal with stories of the family and in particular an aging member of same. In two cases, David Darlow has played that father and I might add, to perfection! Victory Gardens Theater is now presenting the Chicago premiere of Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget”. This is a tile that can throw one off as to what is the story. What could it be about? I think many might think about aging and the process, and while there is a story that does deal with aging, the total story is about a family and its stories!
★★I truly do not enjoy using a rating system for a new work. As many of us know, Chicago gets many pre-Broadway shows that leave here looking like a short run is in store, but with fixes, the show survives and often plays for years there and on the road. Some plays return to their original starting theater unrecognizable to us. The new production of “Grace, Or The Art of Climbing” written by L.M.Feldman, a “Queer”, feminist playwright (and circus artist) tells us a story about Emm ( Alex Molnar is terrific, except for projection to the back row) who due to some bad stuff decides to enter the world of competitive rock-climbing. note: who even knew that there was such a thing?