**** Highly Recommended **** Take your family on a nostalgic trip into the past with American Blues Theater’s 18th annual production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!”. You ‘ll have a rare opportunity to join a ‘live radio’ audience and watch a talented cast bring the voices of all the characters you love to life. Since this is ‘live’, the actors do the commercials too. It is so much fun to listen to the beloved story unfold. “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago” always gets me in a holiday mood! 4 Holiday Spotlights!
**** Recommended **** Drury Lane Theatre’s production of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s “Mary Poppins” is even more “practically perfect”. Sure, “Mary Poppins” is still dispensing “A Spoon Full of Sugar”, but there are also new songs and scenes and even technical derring-do. This is a Broadway quality musical; and yes, Mary Poppins does fly! This is a perfect show to introduce your children and/or grandchildren to live theater. Don’t miss “Mary Poppins”, it’s one of my top ten musicals of the year. 4 BIG Spotlights
*** Recommended *** I’ve been struggling with this review for a few days – well more than a few days. After I talked to my friend Helen, who’d been my plus one at the opening, I was finally able to pull my thoughts together and get something written. At the core, Steppenwolf’s production of “Lindiwe” is the story of singer from South Africa who fell in love with a drummer from Chicago. I’d like to say that together they made beautiful music, but that wasn’t quite the case. The plot of “Lindiwe” just doesn’t measure up to the music. 3 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** You can’t help but feel nostalgic when you see Theatre at the Center’s production of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”. Just wait, the terrific cast will sing and dance themselves right into your hearts. You’ll be humming along to Berlin’s wonderful melodies, too. Unless you’re a curmudgeon, I guarantee you’ll be in the holiday mood when the fabulous cast sings the title song. I give “White Christmas” 4 BIG Holiday Spotlights.
**** Recommended**** Court Theatre’s production of “Oedipus Rex” is powerful, gripping and ultimately poignant. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the word ‘Oedipus” but I wonder how many have actually read it. Written by Sophocles, it was first performed in about 429 BC as part of a trilogy. I must say, this most tragic of all the Greek tragedies, left me with tears in my eyes. 4 Spotlights
***** Highly Recommended ***** I’m a Jane Austin fan. I’ve read and reread all of her books, wry commentaries on the courtship rituals of the English gentry. The Bennett family, described so well in “Pride and Prejudice”, is dear to me. I loved Northlight Theatre’s 2016 production of “Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley”, so I was happy to see that Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon had written a companion play set ’downstairs’ at Pemberley. “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley” is fresh and witty, fitting perfectly into Jane Austin’s world. I loved it. 4 BIG Holiday Spotlights.
*** Recommended *** Usually, liking a play or not liking a play is pretty spontaneous – happening while I’m watching. In rare cases, however, it’ll grow on me. “The Niceties”, the new production at Writers Theatre is one of those plays. Although it’s interesting and very well-acted, I didn’t think I liked it. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t like it. The situation is fraught and neither character is at all sympathetic. I’m recommending “The Niceties” because audiences should judge for themselves. 3 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** After seeing Lookingglass Theatre’s production of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” for the second time, I can say this holiday pantomime is special every time you see it. If you’re looking for a holiday outing for your family, this should be the show. Featuring five uber-talented artists, amazing puppets, talented musicians, fantastical costumes and more, “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” is completely charming. Mary Zimmerman’s interpretation of the Hans Christian Anderson story is done entirely in pantomime. I loved it! 4 BIG Holiday Spotlights
**** Recommended **** Turnabout, as they say, is fair play. Leonard Bernstein used the plot of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” for his musical, “West Side Story”. In setting their new production on an urban basketball court, Chicago Shakespeare borrowed the “West Side Story” feel for “Romeo and Juliet”, Shakespeare’s drama about teen angst, murder and mayhem. This production is young, fresh and interesting. 4 Spotlights
**** Recommended **** The Second City continues to do what they do best, making people laugh, and laugh, and laugh some more, with their 108th Mainstage Revue, “Do You Believe in Madness?” The Second City formula – a revue filled with snarky commentary on the news of the day, silly sketches, music, improv, audience participation, even a little slapstick comedy – has been very successful over the years. In honor of a milestone birthday – The Second City turns sixty (60) on December 16th – they’ve put together the funniest revue I’ve seen in several years! 4 Spotlights