**** Recommended The Marriott Theatre production of "Gypsy" is a musical treat. I’ve seen "Gypsy" multiple times so I wasn’t particularly excited to see it again, but this production reached out and grabbed me. This Rose (Lucia Spina) is phenomenal. She absolutely owns the stage. The rest of the cast is pretty darn good too. I’m pretty sure "Gypsy" will reach out and grab you too. 4 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended Hell in a Handbag is one of my absolute favorite Chicago theater companies. Their unauthorized parodies of old black and white films and TV shows from the fifties, packed with double entendres, puns, running sight gags and bad wigs, never fail to make me laugh! Understanding that, fans of Angela Lansbury’s TV series "Murder She Wrote" will love Hell in a Handbag’s newest parody, "Murder ReWrote". I’m happy to say that Handbag has scored again. Be prepared for murder, mayhem and a lot of laughs. "Murder ReWrote" is hilarious – and it’s a musical. 4 BIG Spotlights
**** Recommended Music Theatre Works has a hit with their 150th production, "The Producers A Mel Brooks Musical", an outrageously funny musical based on Mel Brooks’ 1968 Academy Award winning black and white cult classic film. If you like fast-paced dialogue, clever lyrics, slapstick comedy, pratfalls and sight gags, you’ll love this show. No matter how many times I’ve seen The Producers it always makes me laugh. 4 Spotlights.
**** Highly Recommended "MJ The Musical", the summer’s must-see musical, is fabulous! If I were to rate it on a scale of one to 5 WOWs, "MJ" would get a 10! Roman Banks, the young man who played Michael Jackson, has the perfect voice for the part. Christopher Wheeldon’s brilliant choreography took Jackson’s signature moves to the next level in the production numbers. In all the years I’ve been reviewing, I’ve never/rarely seen a production number getting a standing ovation. "MJ" got three! By the way, I can’t remember seeing so many sequins – and that was in the audience! 4 BIG Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended The Copley Theatre production of "Next to Normal" is a beautiful rock musical about a heart-wrenching subject, mental illness and its effect on a family. It is gripping, emotional and beautifully performed (with some of the best voices I’ve heard anywhere). I won’t give away all the plot turns, but be warned, all is not what it seems. I give it 4 Spotlights.
**** Highly Recommended **** Dunes Summer Theatre’s third production of the season is an adult-oriented comedy called "Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike". Don’t let the name put you off, this Chekhov spoof has a lot of farce elements. The characters are wacky, the brother-sister bickering is spot-on, and Spike, the boy toy, is too much. Vanya and Sonia got me laughing in the first minute, and the laughs just kept coming! 4 Spotlights.
**** Recommended **** I absolute love Mercury Theater’s production of "Rock of Ages"! The boy-meets-girl plot is almost non-existent, but who cares, the music really rocks! Seriously, the score includes 28 hits from artists like Bon Jovi, Journey, Styx, Pat Benatar, Poison, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Europe, REO Speedwagon and more. I hesitate to use the term ‘cult icon’, but this jukebox musical is something special. You’ll be dancing in your seat! 4 Spotlights
*** Recommended *** "No Man’s Land" might be heavy going for many people. Harold Pinter’s 1974 drama about a couple of old sots resembles a battle of words with no real winner. Everything is clearer after a lot of alcohol is consumed, right? Almost everyone I knew in college indulged in deep philosophical discussions after having a few too many adult beverages. Most of us grew up. These guys never did. 3 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** Northlight Theatre’s production of "Marie and Rosetta" is not to be missed! Marie and Rosetta features powerful performances by Bethany Thomas and Alexis J. Roston, two of the best voices in Chicago theater – and some of the best gospel music you’ll ever hear outside of church! "Marie and Rosetta" is directed by another powerful Chicago voice, E. Faye Butler. This is a fabulous show! Don’t miss it. 4 BIG Spotlights
***** Highly Recommended ***** We attended Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play” on Saturday, July 22, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois. My mom, 5-year old, 3-year old, and I enjoyed the play very much. The play follows many of the Elephant and Piggie adventures found in the book series by Mo Willems. My kids read and flip through the books at home, so they knew exactly who the characters were on stage; they were so excited to see Elephant and Piggie “in person”.