**** Recommended **** The Drama Group in Chicago Heights is celebrating their 90th season, definitely a major milestone. As if that’s not enough for a party, this is their 20th year exchanging productions with the Stables Theatre from Hastings, England. So, for the first time on an American stage, the Stables Theatre production of "Run for Your Wife", a really funny farce by Ray Cooney. 3 ½ Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** The Second City’s 110th Mainstage Revue, "Do the Right Thing, No Worries If Not" is downright hilarious. Everywhere I looked, the folks in the audience were laughing – not polite little titters, either – I’m talking guffaws! Unlike recent revues, this one isn’t angry or political or even newsy – although there was one funny sketch about doddering senior citizens which ended with the zinger – do we really want to elect these guys? I haven’t laughed so much in years! 4 BIG Spotlights
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.
**** Recommended **** "Skates A New Musical" playing at the newly renovated Studebaker Theatre through June 26th, is a polished production, but the story didn’t resonate for me. It’s kind of a mash-up – a pop star takes a nostalgic trip back to a particular place and time, Windy City Skate in the ‘70s. Once there, however, she gets to meet and interact with her teen-aged self. Skates is colorful, fast-paced and fun to watch. 3 ½ Spotlights
**** Recommended **** "Hand to God" is a totally irreverent, foul-mouthed, bawdy, but absolutely hilarious comedy playing at the Copley Theatre through July 10th. At the beginning, an understated yet profane puppet prologue; at the end, a scene of chaotic destruction and possible redemption, in the middle, a possessed puppet determined to take over the world – or at least this little corner of Texas! Kudos to August Forman and his puppet, Tyrone, on a brilliant performance. Depending on your perspective on religion and church hypocrisy, "Hand to God" will have you laughing or gasping in horror! I chose laughter. 4 Spotlights
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.
**** Recommended **** Somewhere Over the Border is Brian Quijada’s tribute to his mother and her journey from El Salvador to the United States. Although I’m sure the trek was scary dangerous, Quijada takes a lighter approach, modeling his musical on The Wizard of Oz – consistently light-hearted but always determined and goal-oriented – even through the scary bits! Quijada’s original music includes cumbia, Mexican mariachi boleros, American rock and hip hop styles – all played by a live band. Kudos to Teatro Vista for a toe-tapping joyous show. 4 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** If you were thinking about getting a ticket to see the Joffrey Ballet this season, the absolutely fabulous "Don Quixote" is your last chance this season – and if I were you, I’d be ordering my tickets now! Yuri Possokhov, who choreographed "Don Quixote" to music written by Ludwig Minkus more than 150 years ago, combines classical ballet with Spanish flamenco to create a masterpiece. Travis Halsey’s colorful costumes complement the choreography, adding Spanish color and flair. "Don Quixote" is spectacular, the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. 4 Big Spotlights
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.